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Punjab seeks package to prop up economy
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service


What the Chief Minister desired from the Commission

  • Outstanding special term loan, Rs 3,772 crore and interest, thereon, completed waived;
  • Percentage share of state in Central taxes and duties be enhanced from 29.5 per cent to 50 per cent;
  • Criteria for inter-se distribution among states be 70 per cent weight-age to population, 20 per cent to gross domestic product and 10 per cent to fiscal discipline;
  • Central Plan assistance should be 70 per cent grant and paid in lump sum;
  • Compensation for additional burden due to revision of pay scales and merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with basic pay, pension;
  • Special problem grants for border areas, stagnant agriculture, Scheduled Caste, girl education etc.

Chandigarh, July 22
Punjab today entered into a dialogue with the 12th Finance Commission at a time when, to quote the World Bank report-2004, '' its financial performance is not commensurate with relative economic prosperity'', and the revenue receipts are insufficient to meet committed expenditure, debt burden is heavy, plan expenditure is dipping even at current prices and Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies are starved of funds.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, presented a macro-view of the state's problems and needs and demanded funds for ''preserving the prosperity'' of the state. He also sought a special fiscal package to overcome impact of militancy on economy and finances. The expenditure on police increased sharply as compared to, say education, medical and public health, as Punjab had fought the nation's proxy war.

Against Rs 50 crore in 1983-84, the expenditure on police jacked up to Rs 1045 crore in 2003-04, logging an average annual growth rate of 20.11per cent, against 13.44 per cent in education and 13.19 per cent in medical and public health.

Capt. Amarinder Singh stressed on waiver of outstanding special term loan of Rs 3,772 crore, identified key sectors of economy, focused on need for the second Green Revolution and diversification in agriculture, and asked for special grant for industrialisation in view of major tax concessions the previous Union Government gave to neighbouring states.

The Chief Minister dealt at length on the Centre-state financial relations, which, he said, should be self-reliant at each level of the government''. He also spoke on the criteria for devolution of funds from the Centre, which he suggested should be ''compensatory and re-distributive''.

The Secretary, Finance, Ms Ravneet Kaur, presented a micro-view of the major fiscal indicators to impress upon the commission, led by its Chairperson, Dr C Rangarajan, to appreciate the factors that had contributed to Punjab's sluggish economic growth, both in agriculture and industry.

Consequently, the gap between revenue receipts and revenue expenditure has widened, and even the state's share in the Central taxes has declined—Ninth Finance Commission: 1.71 per cent; Tenth Finance Commission: 1.46 per cent and Eleventh Finance Commission: 1.15 per cent.

Punjab expressed its concern over the slow growth in agriculture and industrial sectors. If agriculture growth rate fell from around 6 per cent to 2 per cent per year, the overall growth rate declined from 6 per cent per annum to an average of 3.6 per cent, per annum.

Likewise, industrial growth rate halved from above 8 per cent per annum in mid-80s to 4 per cent in 1991-92 and a number of industrial units moved out and so did surplus capital with large industrial houses to neighbouring states. The annual growth rate, in constant prices, remained largely between 5 per cent and 6 per cent in the last decade and the state's share in total approved FDI to India was just 0.7 per cent during 1991-92 to 2002.

Punjab complained to the commission that the previous government had initiated ''unfair'' competition with neighbouring states, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Jammu and Kashmir by giving them exemption in payment of excise duty and income tax for 10 year and capital investment subsidy upto Rs 10 lakh.

Therefore, it was suggested that Punjab may be given ''special compensatory grant''.

Presenting Punjab's case in the proper perspective, it was pleaded that it be given ''special consideration'', being a border state. It was also pointed out how with great difficulty revenue and fiscal deficits were being financed through ''borrowings, including general provident fund, which stands at Rs 41,412 crore, as on March 31, 2004; non-release of funds received from the Centre and financial institutions for Centrally- sponsored schemes and other development programmes; non-repayment of loan received from State Bank of India for food procurement; and taking short-term loans for public sector undertakings''.


 

‘No water dispute’ with Rajasthan, HP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
“We are not involved in any river waters- related dispute with Himachal Pradesh”, said a top officer of the Punjab Government while commenting on the hill state’s decision to move the Supreme Court over the issue of abrogation of waters- related agreements.

Continuing, he said, the Punjab Government had not “ harmed” Himachal Pradesh in any manner by terminating the river water agreements. “ We are a bit surprised over the reaction of Himachal in this regard”, he added. Abrogation of agreements would not affect Himachal Pradesh in any manner.

In fact, there was no dispute with the Rajasthan over the river waters. It appeared that vested interests in Rajasthan were “ politicising” the issue in that state to have a political mileage in Haryana Assembly elections, he asserted. Even though a non- riparian state, Rajasthan was getting its allotted share from Punjab river waters. “ Instead of being thankful, politicians, especially of the BJP from Rajasthan, had gone all out to defame Punjab on this issue at the national level”, he added.

Coming back to Himachal Pradesh, the officer said that there was a minor issue of Shah canal that remains to be settled with the Himachal Pradesh. Punjab was to pay its share of about Rs 10 crore in addition to funds provided by the Central Government to Himachal Pradesh for the construction of the Shah canal that will take water from the Punjab territory to irrigate certain parts of the hill state adjacent to the Punjab boundary.

“There was no reason for Himachal Pradesh to worry in this connection”, he added.

When Punjab had built the Shah canal barrage near Mukerian, the system carrying water to Himachal Pradesh was disturbed near Talwara. Punjab had then made an agreement that it would compensate Himachal Pradesh in this connection. Under that agreement, Punjab constructed the Shah canal to carry water to Himachal Pradesh and the Union Government also contributed funds in this project.

Punjab irrigation officers connected with the construction of the canal told The Tribune today that 90 per cent work on the canal had been completed in “ our territory”. How much work remained to be done in Himachal territory, they were not certain about it.

Meanwhile, legal experts associated with defending Punjab’s case on river waters say that “ there was every possibility that the Union Government may be pressing the Himachal Pradesh Government to move the Supreme court on the annulling of water agreements by Punjab”. There was reason to believe so. Haryana and Rajasthan had no legal locus standi to challenge the abrogation of agreements. Otherwise by now Haryana and Rajasthan would have gone ahead to challenge the annulling of Punjab’s step. The Centre, to bail itself out from the controversy, it appears, now is wooing Himachal Pradesh to move the Supreme Court on the issue. Only political propaganda had been made against Punjab over the annulling issue. “No one has given legal justification or reasoning declaring Punjab’s step regarding annulling as illegal”, he added.

Meanwhile , the Punjab Government, which is keenly waiting for the next move from the Central Government on the river waters issue, would continue its advertisement campaign to tell the “ whole truth” regarding the river waters case. “ We want to tell the country that though Haryana, which is a non- riparian and smaller state than Punjab, has got more share from Punjab river waters but even then Punjab was being painted as a “villain”. Though Haryana politicians have raised a hue and cry over the river waters issue, they had not been disclosing how much water of Punjab rivers was being used by their state.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has asked the Centre to pay over Rs 260 crore, which the state has spent till date on the construction of the SYL canal. The major part of the funds for the construction of the canal, the work on which stopped in 1991, was to be paid by the Centre. However, though a lot of staff continues to be posted on the SYL canal project in Punjab, the Centre had stopped paying the salary bill of the staff since 1993. Punjab has now sought the clearance of dues from the Centre.


 

I was consulted on waters’ issue: Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, who has convened a meeting of district presidents of the party on July 24 to organise a kisan vikas rally at Talwandi Sabo on August 8, today said that he was taken into confidence by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, regarding the termination of river waters agreements.

Clarifying regarding his statement appearing in the print media today, Mr Hanspal said that he was misquoted. The Congress president said that he had told mediapersons yesterday that he was consulted by the CM on the agreements issue. However, the media reported that " I was not taken into confidence by the CM on this issue". Mr Hanspal said that he had even stated that he had discussed the agreements issue with senior leaders of the Congress.

Meanwhile, the Congress president has got in touch Mr Ujjal Dosanj and Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, who have been included in the Canadian Federal Government.


 

NSUI backs abrogation of waters’ pacts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
Constitution puts river waters in the state list with role for the Centre to intervene or adjudicate in inter-state dispute on the issue.

The Centre comes into the picture only when two riparian states jointly seeks its intervention. Clause 78 of the Punjab re-Organisation Act 1966, which empowers the Centre to adjudicate between Punjab and Haryana is violative of the Constitution. Punjab’s protest of injustice in the SYL canal issue is genuine. Mr Aman Prasher, state president National Students Union of India (NSUI) said in a press statement here today.

He said Rajasthan and Haryana were not riparian states regarding Sutlej, Ravi and Beas as none of these flows through either of the two states. If the riparian principle is violated then Punjab could ask for a share in any of the rivers in India.

The NSUI president said that Mahandi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery were four rivers of undivided state of Madras, Andhara was carved out of Madrass in 1953. As Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna fell in the Andhra region, Madras now Tamil Nadu ceased to be a riparian state and was denied water rights of these rivers. By same logic Andhra ceased to have any riparian right over Cauvery which flowed through Tamil Nadu.


 

Obey SC order on SYL, say Haryana SGPC members
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 22
In a significant development, all seven newly elected SGPC members from Haryana today supported various political parties of their state, which have been fighting for the completion of the controversial SYL canal. They said the verdict of the apex court must be implemented in toto.

Meanwhile, during their meeting with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, the Haryana SGPC members sought the formation of a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana by amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. They threatened to launch an agitation if their demand for a separate gurdwara committee was not met by the SGPC.

They submitted a memorandum to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, in this regard. They alleged that the SGPC had been ignoring Haryana and most of the collections made from the Sikh shrines (in Haryana) were taken away to Punjab in the past. The seven SGPC members who signed the memorandum are Mr Jagdish Singh Jhinda, Mr Awtar Singh Chakku, Mr Baldev Singh Khalsa, Mr Jagdev Singh, Mr Surjit Singh, Bibi Ravinder Kaur and Mr Didar Singh Nalwi.

The Haryana SGPC members said they would meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and seek his intervention.


 

VRS virtual nightmare for PTDC employees
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Employees of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation ( PTDC), who were forced to opt for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme ( VRS) proposed by the Punjab Government, have been running from pillar to post to get their dues settled but to no avail.

They allege that the scheme offered to them is actually the hangman’s noose around their necks as their repeated representations to the corporation and the government have not yielded any results so far. While the corporation has failed to generate funds for paying the dues of the employees, the government has also not released the required funds to the corporation.

Fearing disinvestment of the corporation, 350- odd employees, who were eligible to get benefits under the scheme, opted for the same as they were not sure of their future and the same was accepted. Nineteen employees, posted at the head office were relieved in the first phase and were paid dues on the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Nearly 25 other employees, who were also given VRS on October 31, 2003, have not been paid any dues till date. Due to financial hardships being faced by them, one of them, Mani Ram, has died of shock. Tilak Raj has lost his mental balance, while Sunil Kumar, who is physically challenged, now has no money to meet his daily expenses.

Mr Wilson, who retired as Senior Deputy Manager from Gulmohar Tourist Complex, Pathankot, told TNS that even after eight months, none of them have received any money as retirement benefits due to them under the policy framed by the Directorate of Disinvestment.

Seniority was overlooked at the time of shortlisting people for VRS and members of the Core Group, constituted for the purpose, continued in service even as they were senior to people relieved, he alleged.

Clause 7 of VRS Policy states “100 per cent of the amount of ex-gratia payable to an employee on opting for voluntary retirement under the scheme would be paid within 60 days of his being relieved”. But this has not happened due to constraints of funds with the department. Whenever they approach the authorities, they are told that the same would be cleared once the government releases funds. Another employee, Mr Jarnail Singh, while highlighting the problems being faced by their families, said :’’The purpose for which they had sought VRS had been defeated as in the event on non-release of their dues they were not able to generate alternate sources of livelihood. Worse still, their jobs are not pensionable under the Punjab Government employees’ pension rules. Even as most of them have a hand- to- mouth existence, they cannot even think of approaching the courts in view of the expenses involved and the time factor.

They further alleged that while the amount of ex-gratia due to them is not properly calculated, they are also being denied other benefits such as pay revision arrears, DA arrears, benefits of proficiency step- up etc

A senior official of the state government, when contacted, said that Rs 94 lakh required to release their dues would be made available by the Finance Department soon, following which all payments would be made. The matter was being pursued seriously with the Finance Secretary and the issue was once again raised by the MD of the corporation at the Core group meeting held only last week. The Principal Secretary, Tourism, Mr D. S. Jaspal, has also shot off a letter to the Finance Secretary, Mr K. R. Lakahnapal, seeking immediate release of funds.

Mr Chhatarpal, a former employee union leader, voices his resentment by saying " what was the urgency of relieving the employees without the availability of funds." The corporation should either take us back on rolls with all service benefits intact or pay us the salary for all these months with interest since the dues have not been paid during the stipulated time period and we do not stand relieved. He even alleged that the department had not been depositing their share in the employees’ Provident Fund ( EPF) since April 2003, he added.


 

Dosanjh does villagers proud
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Dosanjh Kalan, July 22
Even as residents of this village are elated over the appointment of the ‘son of the soil’ and former British Columbia Premier Ujjal Dosanjh as Canada’s Health Minister, they feel they have virtually been belittled by the slow progress of relaying of the Phagwara-Dosanjh Kalan road and alleged “non-sanctioning” of posts of teacher for the village-based government school, which was upgraded after a visit of Mr Dosanjh to the village during his premiership.

Though no formal function has been organised or planned by villagers so far to celebrate the elevation of Mr Dosanjh, who did his matric from Sri Guru Har Rai Khalsa Senior Secondary School in 1961, they have hailed the appointment of Mr Dosanjh, who has brought laurels for the village for the second time — firstly by becoming the Premier of British Columbia and now by being appointed as Canada’s Health Minister.

“The entire village is proud of Mr Dosanjh. He has earned success with a lot of hard work, honesty and has always worked for the upliftment of workers. He worked in a factory in the UK after doing his graduation from Phagwara’s Ramgarhia College. He has a strong liking for his native village. Whenever he comes here, he doesn’t forget to visit his school,” said Mr Kulwant Bhutta and Mr Hari Datt Sharma, village Sarpanch and a teacher of Sri Guru Har Rai Khalsa Senior Secondary School, respectively.

Joginder Matwala, a Punjabi poet and resident of the village, claimed that he had penned a poem in honour of Mr Dosanjh and his phenomenal success. The poem “Mubarkan, mubarkan, saare pind diyan, saathiya mubarkan.....aauna vatna nu tera, mehak uthia chaufera.” His photograph has also been displayed in his school.

Meanwhile, villagers said the relaying of the Phagwara-Chachoki- Dosanjh Kalan road, which was initiated by the SAD-BJP government during Mr Dosanjh’s visit to his village in 2001, had not been completed so far. “It is difficult to drive on the road. The situation turns pitiable when it rains,” said Gurdev Ram, a shopkeeper. The road is full of potholes.

Mr Kulwant Bhutta, Sarpanch, rued that though the village school was upgraded by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during Mr Doshanjh’s visit to the village, requisite posts were not sanctioned for the school. “The school is running sans a regular Principal or a Headmaster,” said Mr Bhutta, expressing the hope that things would change with the elevation of Mr Dosanjh.


 

Sexual harassment charge against institute director
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 22
Girl students of the RN Tagore Nursing Institute have alleged sexual harassment by institute’s director, Dr G.D. Sharma.

In statements to the police today all 15 girls (out of 35) in the hostel of the institute alleged that the director used to harass them sexually on the pretext of conducting medical examination every month. Rest of the first-year students of the institute have left the hostel due to objectionable conduct of the director, they told the police.

The police have started an inquiry into the matter on directions of SSP Gurdaspur Narinder Bhargav. The SSP ordered an inquiry after some students with their parents complained to him in this regard yesterday.

The students in their statement to the police said they had come to the institute to study for three-year General Nursing and Midwife course. At the time of admission they were told that proper infrastructure would be provided to them.

However, after the admission here after depositing hefty fees they came to know that the director was the only teacher here. He used to teach all the classes.

Presently there were 35 students in the institute. The director allegedly used to pass obscene remarks to girls. Whenever a girl objected, she was threatened with adverse remarks in their character certificate or internal assessment.

Girl students were also forced to clean the house of the director of the institute, the girls alleged.

The director however, denied the allegations. He said all allegations against him were fabricated by four students of the first year class removed from the institute. He said even those students had objection to the discipline in the institute. Apart from the four students who have been removed no other student had any objection.

However, statements of other students to the police tell a different story.

Sources in the police told that certain fabricated records of the institute had also been sealed in the inquiry.

SP Pathankot Manminder Singh admitted that statements of the girl students had been recorded. He added that the inquiry report would be sent to the SSP Gurdaspur for legal action in the matter.


 

Mandi Board GM suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Punjab Mandi Board’s General Manager (Marketing) Sikandar Singh — caught “red handed” by state Vigilance Bureau while allegedly accepting bribe of Rs 50,000 from an employee — has been placed under suspension.

An order passed by Punjab Government’s Department of Agriculture says that the officer has been suspended “with effect from the date of his detention in criminal case registered against him on July 13”.

The order, passed by Financial Commissioner P.K. Verma, says that Sikandar Singh would “draw his pay and allowance as per the rules during his suspension”. The order also “fixed” Mandi Board’s office as “his headquarters during the suspension”.

A trap was reportedly laid to apprehend him after secretary with Amritsar’s market committee Baljit Singh complained of harassment.

The secretary reportedly informed the Bureau that the General Manager was threatening him with the issuance of a charge-sheet. In fact, the secretary claimed that notices were being sent to him and he was being summoned to the headquarters for hushing up the matter. After receiving Baljit Singh’s complaint, the team apprehended the accused while he was accepting the money.



 

Two more officials in VB net
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Continuing with its drive against corruption, Punjab Vigilance Bureau sleuths today caught two more government official red-handed, on the allegations of demanding and accepting bribes, after laying traps. Two patwaris — Ajit Singh and Daljit Kumar — were also convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment in different cases by special courts for vigilance cases.

Acting on different complaints, the sleuths this time nabbed a Junior Engineer working with Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and another lineman posted at a telephone exchange. The number of government officials arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in less than a fortnight has now risen to five with their arrest.

Engineer Lakhwinder Pal Singh, posted at Sangrur, had allegedly demanded Rs 5,000 from one Gurmeet Singh for providing a new connection. Instead of paying him the money, Gurmeet Singh reportedly approached the Vigilance Bureau. Taking cognizance of the complaint, the sleuths swung into action and caught the accused in the act in his office.

In the other trap case, lineman Narinder, in charge of a telephone exchange in Mansa, was allegedly caught while accepting Rs 700 from one Harpreet Singh of Khera, also in Mansa.

The operations were carried out under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Vigilance) N.S. Dhillon. Though he was not available for comments, the 
sources in his department revealed that both the accused had been arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The sources added that further investigations into the matter were on. The Bureau was likely to question other officials also for their involvement in such cases, the sources asserted.

The Bureau had earlier apprehended Punjab Mandi Board’s General Manager (Marketing) Sikander Singh and State Transport Commission employee Vijay Kumar in different corruption cases.

Sikander Singh was allegedly caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 from an employee for letting him off. In the other incident, Senior Assistant with the 
Transport Commission Vijay Kumar was apprehended while accepting Rs 1,000 from one Mr Surinder Singh. He was seeking the issuance of no objection certificate for plying vehicles. Junior Engineer Gurcharan Singh was also nabbed.

Giving details of the conviction cases, the Bureau officials revealed that Ajit Singh of Mal Halqa Goraya in Amritsar district was convicted by Additional District and Sessions Judge-cum-Special Judge Vivek Puri. The accused had allegedly demanded and accepted Rs 600 as bribe from complainant Nishan Singh regarding registration of land.

In the other case, Daljit Kumar of Mal Halqa Hamchhari in Patiala district was convicted by Patiala’s Special Judge K.C. Puri.

The accused was allegedly caught red handed while demanding and accepting Rs 400 as a bribe from complainant Chajju Singh for issuing him a copy of Zamabandi.



 

Fish poisoning clear case of poaching
Wildlife official to hold probe
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Differences are surfacing between Wildlife and Fisheries Department over the slack pace of probe into the fish poisoning case in Beas tributary at Gurdaspur. Seemingly irked with the indifference of Fisheries officials in starting probe into the matter, the Wildlife department has decided to proceed in the case on its own.

Its officials claim that all the fish samples collected in the joint operation in Sarri area have been lying with them since Sunday when the poisoning was reported. Honorary Wildlife Warden, Gurdaspur, Mr S.S. Bajwa maintained, “All water and fish samples collected in the joint operation by Wildlife and Fisheries Department were loaded into my vehicle. While water samples were collected by the Fisheries people last evening, no fish samples have yet been collected. It would be too presumptuous to say that fish died due to bleaching powder or pesticides. No tests have yet been done. We are sending the samples for testing tomorrow.”

The officials of the Wildlife Department also countered the statement of the Fisheries people who said yesterday that only medium size fish were affected by poisoning. Said Mr Bajwa, “I have been a fish farmer for 10 years now. Anyone into Fisheries knows that fish seed is most sensitive. It cannot even bear weather and temperature changes, what to talk of poison.

Also it is unlikely those pesticides have killed the fish or that the death has happened due to an accident. Pesticides could only have entered the tributary if farmland water had entered it. That can only be possible during heavy rains. And weather has been hot and humid, so much so that fish have not even bred. The collected samples show that fish still contain eggs. If pesticides are found in water samples they would also have been intentionally thrown into the river to poison the fish. So it is a clear case of poaching.”

Further, Wildlife Department has clarified that although fish is not directly covered under the Wildlife Protection Act, its poisoning is a clear case of destruction of animals’ natural habitat. Any incident that destroys natural habitat of an animal falls under the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Protection Act. Section 2, Clause 15 of the Act calls water a “natural habitat of wild animals”.

Clause 16-A of the same Act prohibits killing and even the attempt to killing of any such animal. Also water is a habitat to many turtles and snakes, like pythons, protected under Schedule I of the Act. Considering this, Wildlife Department officials will now pursue the case of their own.

Questioning the assumptions of Fisheries officials that the fish could have died due to bleaching powder or due to pesticide inflow into the Sarri rivulet, Wildlife officials today claimed that Fisheries had not yet collected any fish sample from them. They added that the entire operation was conducted jointly and all the collected water and fish samples were preserved in the vehicle of Honorary Wildlife Warden of Gurdaspur Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa.

Its officials also claim that Fisheries Department has no fish sample in its custody till today. Also, they maintain that the water samples were collected by Fisheries Department only late last evening.


 
 

Borwankar does her alma mater proud
Tribune News Service

Meera Chadha Borwankar, the first woman to become the Commissioner of the Mumbai Crime Branch, assumes charge on Wednesday
Meera Chadha Borwankar, the first woman to become the Commissioner of the Mumbai Crime Branch, assumes charge on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Jalandhar, July 22
The mood was upbeat at Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women and DAV College here as the news pertaining to the elevation of their alumna, Ms Meera Chadha Borwankar, to the post of chief of the crime branch of Mumbai police spread on the campuses today.

The pictures of Ms Meera and news clippings from various dailies were pasted on the college bulletin boards. The principals of the colleges made announcements in this regard so as to apprise students of the achievements of a former student.

About two decades ago Ms Meera’s father, Mr O.P. Chadha, was posted with BSF in Jalandhar. It was during that time that she completed her BA from Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women. After her graduation, she did MA in English from DAV College.

Even though 20 years have passed when she was a student here, teachers who taught her remember her as a bubbly, active and a talented student. Most of the teachers who taught her have now retired but they said she was an outgoing student and participated in literary and cultural activities.

Prof T.N. Rajput, who taught her English literature in DAV College, said, “As a student, Meera exhibited an innate talent and she had such a bright and cheerful personality that is hard to be forgotten. I also taught her drama and poetry and she had always been an attentive listener. I remember her even more as I wrote a feature on her in the college news bulletin at the time of her selection in the IPS.”

Ms Manjit Grewal, Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women, said she had set an example for other students.

She said Meera had always drawn inspiration from her elder sister who was working as Commissioner in the Income Tax Department.


 

Garbage spillover
Now, Patiala doctors on warpath
Boycott OPD in protest against transfers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
Operation clean-up started in the city today with the withdrawal of the fortnight long strike by employees of the Municipal Corporation. The strike was called off following the transfer of six doctors from the Government Rajindra Hospital. The MC employees had been demanding action against doctors of the hospital for alleged negligence shown by the latter during the treatment of the corporation union leader Harjit Singh who succumbed to his injuries in the hospital after he was injured in an acid attack.

However, doctors of the Government Rajindra Hospital, which is attached to the Government Medical College, today stopped attending to patients in the hospital’s OPDs to protest against the government’s action of transferring the Medical College principal, the hospital medical superintendent and four other staff members.

The MC employees ended their fortnight-long strike today morning after receiving the news that the government had transferred six doctors. The employees held a dharna in the morning. Mayor Vishnu Sharma addressed the employees and told them about the steps taken by the government on the issue. He announced that a permanent job would be given to a son of the murdered union leader and that a compensation of Rs two lakh would be given to the family. Mr Sharma also announced that Rs 50,000 would be given as compensation to the family of the other employee who had been injured in the acid attack.

Later, the corporation employees set about disposing of the garbage which had been piled up at various points in the city. Corporation Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu himself supervised the operation. The commissioner announced that the corporation was also trying to attend to all pending complaints within two days. He said there had been reports of sewer lines being blocked at various places, including Dhiru Ki Majri and Kitaban Wala Bazar, which were being attended to on an urgent basis. He also disclosed that 50 casual workers had been hired to clean up the Ganda Nala. He added that more workers, if needed, would be hired on contract basis to assist in the cleaning exercise.

Doctors of the Rajindra Hospital, meanwhile, have indicated that they would not take the transfers of their colleagues lying down. Dr Janak Raj Arora and Dr B.S. Sohal, president and general secretary respectively of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers’ Association, said in case the doctors did not get ‘’justice” immediately, they would force the closure of emergency facilities and not deal with the medico-legal cases and the postmortems. The IMA In-Service wing leader Dr D.S. Bhullar, while condemning the action, said the In-Service doctors’ wing of the IMA would also oppose it.

About 700 to 800 patients visting the OPDs of various departments at the hospital had to go back disappointed. Regular operation work was also disrupted.


 

Arora refuses to accept Medical Superintendent’s post
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
The Punjab Government has transferred Dr Kiranjit Kaur, Principal of Government Medical College, despite the fact that she was on a long leave on the fateful day when a Municipal Corporation union leader succumbed to his injuries in the hospital after an acid attack.

Dr Kiranjit Kaur had taken her annual vacation and was not even functioning as the Principal of the Medical College. She is presently in the USA.

Meanwhile, sources said the Medical Superintendent of Government Rajindra Hospital, Dr Kulbir Kaur, was also not in the city on the day of the acid attack. They said even after the acid attack Dr Kulbir Kaur had submitted her resignation to the Director, Research and Medical Education but it was turned down. Dr Kulbir Kaur had submitted a draft of Rs 1.51 lakh, amounting to three months pay, along with her resignation which was mandatory in case one wants to be relieved immediately.

Doctors of Rajindra hospital said it was amazing that the department was refusing to accept the resignation offered by Dr Kulbir Kaur last week but had now transferred her from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Dr Janak Raj Arora refused to accept the post of Medical Superintendent of Rajindra hospital today. According to sources, Dr Arora in a submission to the department stated that he was already in charge of the paediatric surgery ward and also that of the hospital Emergency and could not take up another assignment. The sources said Dr M.K. Bandlish had now been given the charge of the office of the Medical Superintendent.


 

Residents stage dharna against power cuts
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
The residents of trans railway colonies, including women, children and elderly persons, gheraoed the office of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and staged a dharna in protest against the unscheduled, unannounced and long power cuts being imposed in the area.

The residents, who raised slogans against the Finance Minister and local MLA, Mr Surinder Singla, for his failure to maintain the power cut free status of the city, alleged that they were being given stepmotherly treatment as power cuts in the trans railway colonies housing about 33 per cent population of the town were frequent as compared to the power cuts being imposed in the main city.

Mr Vijay Sharma, former municipal councillor and president of the Railway Phatak Lagao Sangharsh Committee, while addressing the protesters alleged that the authorities concerned had been denying even the basic amenities to the residents of trans railway colonies. He added that longer power cuts were being imposed in the area deliberately. He said so far the authorities had failed to provide potable water and underground sewerage facilities in the area.

He alleged that even the office of the PSEB, which was located in the heart of transrailway colonies, had been shifted to a faraway place and the residents had been finding it difficult to approach the same in case of emergency and for making payments of their electricity bills as they had to cover about 4 km now to reach the same.

He said the PSEB authorities should shift its office back to the Paras Ram Nagar locality of the trans railway colonies. He added that if the power cuts continued, the residents would gherao the officials of the PSEB.

A number of other residents also addressed the rally. 


 

Wife’s plea to get husband free
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Mrs Zubeda, wife of Mr Jagdev Singh Bhatti, Junior Engineer, Irrigation Department, who has been facing murder charge, today urged the district police chief, Muktsar, to cancel the criminal case registered against her husband at Kot Bhai police station on July 15.

In a representation made to Mr R.S. Khatra, district police chief, Mrs Zubeda alleged that her husband had been falsely implicated in the murder case pertaining to the death of a farmer, Kulwinder Singh. She added that though Kulwinder Singh died after he fell accidentally into the canal while stealing the canal water, the murder case was registered against her husband who was performing his official duty honestly. Kulwinder Singh, a farmer of Madhir village in Muktsar district, died after he fell into the Sirhind feeder canal on the night of July 14. The relatives of the deceased and other farmers alleged that Kulwinder Singh died after he was pushed into the canal by the Irrigation Department officials. Later, a case was registered against Mr Bhatti.

Members of the Diploma Engineers Association, Punjab, have also urged the Irrigation Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, to facilitate the cancellation of the false murder case registered against Mr Jagdev Singh Bhatti. They have threatened that if the same was not done, the association would be forced to launch an agitation.

She demanded that an independent probe should be held into the murder charge against her husband by a high-ranking official to bring the truth to surface.


 

Sikh bodies hold protest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 22
Demanding a ban on the forthcoming programme being organised by the Noormahlia sect chief, various Sikh organisations presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner here today.

The Sikh bodies held a demonstration outside the DC office raising slogans against the chief, Ashutosh. They demanded that a ban be imposed on the conduct of a programme being planned in the city on July 27 or else they would be forced to take unruly measures. They alleged that the sect chief was propagating some wrong messages in the Sikh community.

Among those who participated in the protest were executive members from the Khalsa Mission Council, the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and the All-India Youth Akali Dal (Badal).


 

Bandh over disappearance of man
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 22
Residents of Bassi Pathana today observed a bandh and jammed traffic on the Bassi-Morinda road in front of the ITI for more than six hours in protest against the disappearance of one Varinder Kumar from police custody. The residents alleged that Varinder Kumar had died in police custody, While the police claimed that he had given a slip to the police and run away from its custody.

Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the Police station and the ITI and raised slogans against the SHO of Bassi Pathana.

It may be recalled that a minor daughter of Varinder Kumar had run away from house along with one Ranjit Singh Rana of nearby Ghumandgarh village. Varinder Kumar had lodged a complaint with the Bassi Pathana police in this regard, and after two days the police had recovered the girl and her friend. The police had registered an FIR in this regard. The girl recorded in her statement with the police that her father had been raping her for the past one year. Fed up with this she proposed to Ranjit Singh Rana to take her away from here. She said that she had run away from her house on her own.

Later, SHO Surinderjit Kaur called her father Varinder Kumar to the police station for investigation. Varinder Kumar was taken in police custody but he disappeared later. The police alleged that he gave a slip to the home Guard Jawans, who were keeping a watch on him. However, Relatives of Varinder Kumar alleged that he had died in police custody.


 

GOC-in-C visits forward areas
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 22
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh, visited the forward areas under Golden Arrow Division here today. He was accompanied by his wife, Anupama Singh, President, AWWA, Western Command.

The GOC-in-C during his stay here attended a seminar-cum-interactive session with the officers of Golden Arrow Division on improvement in quality of life. The seminar was organised by Sehjra Bridgade under the aegis of Golden Arrow Division. Army officials said that the stage for this interactive session was set through a series of individual and door-to-door surveys. Independent views of approximately 8,000 participants were obtained and data validated during the survey.

The GOC-in-C expressed satisfaction over the inputs and directed that the same be included for ensuring the high level of operational preparedness without sacrificing quality of life.

Mrs Anupama Singh attended an AWWA meet organised at Ferozepore Club and interacted with women. She was briefed by Mrs Omana Sivashankar, president, Golden Arrow AWWA, on the various projects being undertaken in the division related to various vocational and welfare aspects.


 

Two bodies recovered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Two bodies, including one of Jasvir Singh, a local resident, who allegedly committed suicide, were recovered from the Bathinda-Sirsa rail track and from the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal, respectively, by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), today.

In a press note issued here, Mr Gautam Goyal, spokesman of the Sahara Jan Sewa, said that the second body that was recovered from the canal could not be identified as it was in bad shape and its parts were eaten up by animals.

He added that efforts were being made to establish the identity of the dead body.



 

CM for stamp in memory of Beant Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Punjab Chief Minister has urged the Union Government to release a postal stamp in memory of late Chief Minister Beant Singh on his ninth death anniversary that falls on August 31.

Capt Amarinder Singh today described Beant Singh as a man of the masses who sacrificed his life for promoting humanism, preserving secularism and ending violence. He pointed out that Punjab in particular and Punjabis in general would always remain indebted to Beant Singh, who had fallen prey to the dastardly act of terrorism outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat on August 31,1995.


 

DGP requested to withdraw cases against chemists
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 22
A delegation of the Punjab Chemists Association today appealed to the DGP, Punjab, to withdraw cases registered against chemists in Gurdaspur and Sangrur districts.

The president of the association, Mr Surjit Mehta, alleged that the police conducted raids on chemist shops and booked chemists under the NDPS Act. The Punjab Government had the Drugs Controller and also had district drug inspectors at all headquarters to ensure that chemists were selling only medicines cleared by the department.

The delegation included chief adviser of the association D.B. Kapur, general secretary V.P. Dogra, vice-president Harish Sethi, vice-president Rajesh Mittal and additional general secretary L.D. Jindal.


 

Gas cylinder in chemist shop bursts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 22
A chemist shop near the local Rajindra Hospital turned into a debris when a gas cylinder inside the shop busted at around 6.45 am here today .

According to sources, the incident took place due to a short circuit. As many as five adjoining shops were also damaged. A rickshaw-puller who was passing by was injured and was rushed to Rajindra Hospital.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr A.S. Rai, said a team of technical experts has been directed to visit the spot and determine the cause of the blast.

If needed a case would also be registered, he added.


 
 

High Court
Wordy duel between law officer, counsel
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today witnessed an interesting wordy duel between a law officer and the counsel engaged by a Deputy Commissioner.

An Additional Advocate General representing the Punjab Government today questioned the claims of Amritsar Deputy Commissioner in the matter of disqualification of three senior Akali leaders from the recently conclude SGPC elections.

During resumed hearing in the petitions of these leaders, challenging the decision of the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur to reject their nominations, the counsel for Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh informed the court that the decision to reject the nominations of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders Sucha Singh Langah and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, and SGPC acting chief Alwinder Pal Pakhoke was taken on merit of the cases.

He said that any order of the returning officer could only have been challenged through an election petition. He also questioned the authority of the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election, to countermand the elections.

AG Harbhagwan Singh, who was also present in the court, said that though he had given opinion on the matter, it was for the DCs to take a final decision on the issue.

The Additional Advocate General said that the Government did not interfere in the electoral process as at the time of elections, all government staff associated with the process is said to be on deputation to the election authority.

The case was later adjourned for tomorrow, with the Bench asking the Government to spell out its precise stand on the issue.

It may be recalled that Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh was grilled by the Bench at the last hearing. The DC was admonished by the Bench of Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt for having refused to follow the orders of the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, and also declaring the leaders un-discharged insolvent.

Challenged

Former Akali minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who is also facing trial in a corruption case, has also moved the High Court challenging the power of Ropar Special Judge S.K. Goyal to hear the case against him.

In his petition, Mr Kahlon has stated that since Mr Goyal’s appointment as Special Judge to hear his case had not been cleared by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the trial proceedings were illegal.

After hearing his counsel, the Bench of Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt issued dasti notice to the respondents for tomorrow.


 

Farmers plough paddy crop
Drought-like situation hits cotton crop too
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Mr Gur Shinder Singh, a farmer of Jassi Pau Wali village of this district today ploughed his paddy crop in fives acres as it had dried up due to lack of irrigation.

He already hard up suffered loss of Rs 15,000 which he spent on diesel for running the tubewell for water, transplantation of paddy or fertiliser. Two farmers of Dyalpura Mirja village have also ploughed paddy crop in four acres and lost thousands on that account.

Farmers of Geheri Bhagi village of this district pointed out that paddy crop in 20 acres of land had dried up and they would plough it soon. Apart from it, a number of farmers, whose paddy crop had dried up partially, retransplantation was going on in the hope that rain would break over region.

Sources said that if shortage of water continued, a major portion of paddy crop sown in 93000 hectares in this district alone would be affected. Last year, paddy was sown in 107000 hectares in this district.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Bathinda, said if it did not rain for four five days, cotton crop would be under threat, affecting fruition of cotton plants. He added that due to acute shortage of water, yield of paddy would also be affected.

Mr Dhaliwal pointed out that despite requests to the state’s Irrigation Department, flow of water in the Bathinda branch and Kotla branch of Sirhind canal, feeding all irrigation channels criss-crossing the district, had been reduced considerably. He added that first the Bathinda branch canal remained closed for unknown reasons and now the Kotla branch canal was closed. He added that as the field staff had been getting information of ploughing of paddy crop, and it was being sent to the state Agriculture Department.

Mr Sukhbir Singh, a former sarpanch of Jassi Pau Wali village, pointed out that farmers had hit hard this season, rain had been eluding the region and also the water in the canals conduits and distributaries had been reduced considerably giving rise to drought-like situation for fields at tailends. Even ponds had started drying up making it difficult to arrange water for the cattle.

He alleged that though the state government had been claiming that farmers were being given seven to eight hours of uninterrupted power for tubewells but ground situation was different as the farmers had been using diesel due to power cuts imposed in agriculture sector also.

The farmers, The Tribune talked to, pointed out that in absence of canal water they had to use subsoil water, which had high salt and fluoride contents and damaged the paddy crop. Mr Amrit Pal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation (PYFF) pointed out that the situation which had been developing in the agriculture in this district could cause unrest among farmers if the authorities failed to take corrective steps.


 

Diversify to check water shortage, says farmer
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 22
Farmers should diversify into new crops from paddy and wheat in order to solve the problem of water shortage in the state. This was stated by a progressive farmer of the area, Mr Sant Singh Brar, recently nominated as a Managing Board member of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Brar said he would raise his voice in board meetings to formulate more such policies to make farmers aware of the benefits of crop diversification.

Mr Brar said farmers had to spend huge money to irrigate land during shortage of water and irregular power supply. “Once they start diversifying their crops, they will not require as much water as needed for paddy”, he added.


 
 

14 officials found absent
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 22
The Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, Mr B. Sarkar, today conducted surprise checking in various government offices here during which he found 14 government officials absent. Mr Sarkar has written to the department heads concerned to take disciplinary action against the erring officials.

Most of the officials found absent were from the Block Development and Panchayat Office, Ferozepore. Gurcharan Singh, Mr Milkha Singh, both panchayat officers, Darshan Singh, clerk, Rajni Bala, clerk, Bheem Bahadur and Sonu, both peons, were found absent when Mr Sarkar conducted visit of the BDPO office.

During the checking of the Punjab Scheduled Cast Land Development and Finance Corporation here, Mr Bhupinder Singh officiating district manger, and Balbir Singh, junior assistant were found absent. Santosh Mani and Balwinder Singh, both working in the District Welfare Office, were found absent. An official of DEO (Secondary) office, Sukhdev Singh, was also found absent.

Mr Sarkar also checked the District Mandi Board office, where the entire staff was found present. He also checked the Market Committee office, where he found three officials, Sukhminder Singh, auction recorder, Baldev Singh, Clerk, and Hans Raj, Driver, absent. Mr Sarkar also visited the Grain Market and Sabji Mandi in the city. He took cognizance of the improper cleanliness and directed Mandi Board officials to ensure hygiene in the area.


 

Suspended SMO gets support
Tribune News Service

Jaito (Faridkot), July 22
Various associations yesterday came out in support of suspended SMO of the local Civil Hospital, Dr Ajitpal Singh, and demanded his reinstatement. The Technical Services Union, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), the Loksangram Manch and the Gramin Manch organised a protest in favour of the suspended SMO here yesterday.

Dr Ajitpal was suspended during the diarrhoea outbreak here in May.

Members of these organisations started gathering at about 11 am. Addressing the members, Dr Ajitpal Singh presented his version before them. He said that he and his staff looked after diarrhoea patients well, but he was made the “scapegoat” due to some reasons.

The union members said that the reason behind the diarrhoea outbreak was contaminated water and the authorities concerned should be held responsible for the same. They said that still there was no check on factors causing this disease and as a result diarrhoea patients were still arriving in hospital. They said that Dr Ajitpal treated about 200 diarrhoea patients, but during the DC’s visit some “mischievous elements” presented wrong version before him. They said that the district administration and the Health Department had made Dr Ajitpal the scapegoat.

The protest march after passing through the main areas of the town culminated at the SDM office where the members of these unions submitted a charter of demands to SDM Priyank Bharati.


 
CRIME
 

Travel agent cheats man of Rs 2.97 lakh
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 22
Mr Parkash Chand Jain, father of Ravinder Jain (28) who wants to settle abroad, is a sad man as he was allegedly cheated of Rs 2.97 lakh by V.N. Sharma on the pretext of sending his son to the USA. Mr V.N. Sharma is missing since June 29 last when he (Sharma) was to return visa papers of Ravinder Jain for the USA. Rs 2.97 lakh was withdrawn from banks in June by Mr Jain. Mr Jain retired from the Punjab Agriculture Department recently approached the Chandigarh police, for tracing V.N. Sharma as he lives in Khuda Ali Sher village of the Chandigarh police’s jurisdiction.

Mr Parkash Chand Jain said his son Ravinder Jain, alias Rinku, wanted to settle abroad, so he (Ravinder) approached V.N. Sharma in response to an advertisement, in a newspaper on June 13, 2004. He added his son was called to the farm house of V.N. Sharma near Chandigarh, on June 15.

Mr Jain added his son met V.N. Sharma and a deal was made for Rs five lakh. After this, Sharma asked his son to come on June 21 with money.

Mr Jain said he withdrew Rs 2.50 lakh on June 21 from two banks at Sangrur, and left for Chandigarh along with his son to hand over Rs 2.50 lakh to Sharma. He said after receiving Rs 2.50 lakh, Sharma issued a receipt in the name of his son and said visa papers would be ready.

Mr Jain said they visited Sharma on June 25 and handed him over another Rs 47,000 along with an undated cheque for Rs two lakh. After this, Mr Sharma invited them to Chandigarh on June 29 to collect Visa papers for the USA. He said on June 29, they tried to contact Sharma on his mobile phone but it was found switched off. They left for Chandigarh and on reaching the farm house, they came to know that they had been cheated by Sharma.

Mr Jain said on June 29, the owner of the farm house Mr Narinder Singh was also present there, who told them that V.N. Sharma was his tenant. Mr Jain said Sharma had set up office at the farm house by installing some computers, phones and office furniture. He said Mr Narinder Singh also told them that Sharma had fled without paying the rent and salaries to employees.


 

Bail order misused for release from jail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
Sukhwinder Singh, who along with his brother Raj Singh was jailed in the central jail, here came out on Tuesday evening by using bail orders issued by a court of Mansa for the release of Raj Singh by deceiving the jail authorities.

Sukhwinder Singh, and brother Raj Singh were sentenced in a case of fraud. He impersonated as Raj Singh and came out of the jail on July 20.

It came to light when the wife of Raj Singh complained to the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda alleging that her husband Raj Singh was still in the jail even after being granted bail by a court and Sukhwinder Singh, had been fraud.

The Deputy Commissioner, the police and the jail authorities nabbed Sukhwinder Singh, who impersonated as Raj Singh.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Saggu, Superintendent, central jail, said that Sukhwinder Singh was a drug addict and could not get drugs in the jail. Raj Singh, his brother, who got bail, facilitated the exit of Sukhwinder Singh from jail so that he could get drugs after release.

He added that when jail officials were acting on the bail order, Raj Singh identified himself as Sukhwinder Singh while Sukhwinder Singh identified himself as Raj Singh. Both brothers also repeated it when they were lodged into the jail and their names were entered in record. He added that even real Raj Singh came up to the jail gate when Sukhwinder Singh came out of the jail.

He said that both brothers had planned for the illegal act when they were lodged in the jail as they identified themselves on wrong names. He added they cheated the jail authorities so that Sukhwinder Singh could go out of the jail.

The police said that a case under Sections 419 and 420 of the IPC was registered against the accused.


 

Two wood smugglers held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 22
To check poaching and smuggling of forest wood, a joint night-long operation was undertaken by the Forest Divisions of Hoshiarpur, Dasuya, Garhshanker and Ropar in the Shivalik Forest Circle last night.

A fire wood-loaded truck (No HP-36-1877) and a mango wood-loaded tractor-trailer (No PBO-07-8884) were impounded in the Dasuya and Garhshanker Forest Divisions, respectively. Ashok of Lathial, Himachal Pradesh, owner of the truck, and Pardeep Kumar of Harjiana, owner of the tractor-trailer, were arrested.

Briefing about the operation, Mr R.R. Kakkar, Divisional Forest Officer, Hoshiarpur, told this correspondent that it was decided to launch a night-long operation to check poaching and timber smuggling in the entire circle of the Shivalik Forest. He said four Divisional Forest Officers, seven Deputy Divisional Forest Officers, 17 Range Officers and the entire staff of Hoshiarpur, Garhshanker, Dasuya and Ropar divisions were involved in the operation.

Twenty-three nakas were organised and 27 patrolling parties constituted for the operation in all the divisions.


 

Nepal national still in jail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
Sudheman Kami, a Nepali national who was allegedly kidnapped, chained and kept in illegal detention and later booked for possessing illicit liquor by the police here continues to languish in jail. He has not been released even after the cancellation of the false case registered against him.

Even the district police has failed to take action against the erring police official who had registered a false case against him. In the FIR, Sub-Inspector Nihal Singh and Assistant Sub-inspector Tarsem Singh along with constable Tarsem Singh and others had stated that the accused with another Nepali national Ram Bahadur was selling illicit liquor near Company Bagh. They had stated that about 35 litres of illicit liquor was recovered from him.

Sudheman was brought from Nepal last month following a theft allegedly committed by his son and two others in a house near by Lawrence Road area. The victim was allegedly kept in illegal custody by chaining him at the Lawrance Road police chowki.


 

Pirated CDs seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 22
The police seized pirated CDs from two musical shops running under the name of Taneja Sangeet Mahal and Sukhladhi Electronics in the Raman Mandi town of this district during raids conducted today.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, in a press note issued here, said that 919 pirated CDs were seized from Manoj Kumar, owner of Taneja Sangeet Mahal and 436 CDs were seized from Angrej Singh, of Sukhladhi Electronics.

He added that two separate criminal cases were registered against the accused.

The accused used to purchase the fake CDs from Dabwali, Sirsa, and Ludhiana.


 

Inter-state gang busted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 22
The Patiala police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang which used to hire trucks load goods to them and sell both commodities.

Addressing a press conference here, Senior Superintendent of Police A. S. Rai said a truck and the goods worth Rs 17 lakh were seized from three persons at Dharuki village under the Nabha Sadar police station. The alleged accused had been identified as Amarjit Singh alias Tota from Kang village in Tarn Taran police district, Joginder Sharma, a resident of Sangar in Kurukshetra district of Haryana and Darshan Lal, also from Kurukshetra.

The SSP said three members of the gang — Ranbir Singh alias Rana, Nishan Singh alias Shana and Karaj Singh were absconding.

He said the gang members used to hire a truck from a transport company and fix false number plates on it. They would load goods for transport on to the truck and sell both truck and goods later. The gang also used to procure fake permits and licenses from Faridabad. It had been active for the past three years, the SSP added.


 
 

GND varsity restores subjects’ combination
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to restore the old combination of subjects of 2002-2003 for the BA course from the current academic session 2004-2005.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of the university, in a press release issued here today said that there would be two A and B papers of one subjects under this system. He informed that blind students would be permitted to choose two subjects from music-vocal, music-instrumental and tabla, but the other students could opt only one subject from this group of subjects. A student can opt any two vocational subjects simultaneously.

The Registrar said that the Syndicate had accorded its concurrence to accept and implement the letter of the University Grants Commission for not allowing admission to students in bachelor degree courses who have compartment in the class XII examinations and subsequently in master degree courses who have compartment in undergraduate degree courses from the next academic session. The decision of the UGC will be mandatory for all the teaching departments of the university and colleges affiliated to it.

Meanwhile, the minimum percentage of marks in the class XII examination required for admission to all the courses being run in the colleges only shall be 40 per cent but the eligibility condition of BA/BSc (pass course) and the courses, which are common with the university, will be as per the existing ordinances of the course concerned.


 

Principal, manager face embezzlement charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
Members of the PBN School Managing Society and the staff union today alleged large-scale embezzlement of school funds by the Manager, Principal and their families.

The staff secretary of the 111-year-old school, Mr Prem Chand Sharma, and his colleagues, while addressing a press conference here today, said Mr J. N. Kumaria, Manager, and Mr Rajeev Kumaria, Principal, had been siphoning off school funds, depriving students of basic amenities.

Mr Sharma alleged that the manager and the principal had tried to manipulate elected members of the society and had formed another managing committee by inducting their own family members and relations in a bid to oust the original committee and get control of seven schools being run by the society, including two in Gurgaon.

Mr Sharma alleged that the Manager and the Principal had amassed huge property and cash worth Rs 1.5 crore. He said the Manager had been renting out school properties without accounting for the rent.

Mr Rabindra Nath, uncle of the Manager, expressed concern over the charges, which reflected on the image of this great institution.


 

SGPC opposes supervision of entrance test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
The SGPC today strongly criticised the reported decision of the committee formed by the Punjab Government for overseeing the entrance test conducted by the association of private professional colleges in which they had denied the minority status to two SGPC-run institutes.

The institutes are Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research and Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences, both in Amritsar.

The SGPC said neither the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, nor his committee headed by G.R. Majithia had any right to decide the status of the institute.


 

Youth festivals’ schedule
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 22
Guru Nanak Dev University approved the schedule of youth festival for the year 2004-05. Earlier, this schedule was discussed at a meeting of the Youth Welfare Advisory Committee here today.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said that the youth festival for men (A zone) and for government colleges would be held on October 9 to 11 and October 20 to 22, respectively, on the university campus, while the B zone would be held from October 26 to 28 on the regional campus, Jalandhar. The women festival for A and B zones will be held from October 14 to 17 at Jalandhar and November 1 to 4 on the university campus here, respectively.

For educational colleges the festival will be held at Ramgarhia College, Phagwara. He said the final inter-zonal youth festival would be held here from November 14 to 17.


 

Seats increased, students withdraw agitation
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 22
Students of Muktsar district withdrew their agitation after a decision of the management of Government College to increase the number of seats from 600 to 700 for the bachelor of arts (first year) course.

The newly appointed principal of the college, Ms Bhupinder Kaur, took the decision of increasing the number of seats following a dharna by the students outside her office today.

The principal not only increased 100 seats for the BA (first year) course but also enhanced 50 seats for BA second and third years each.


 

PTU counselling postponed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 22
Punjab Technical University has postponed counselling for admission to the bachelor of pharmacy course that was scheduled to be held on July 24.

Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, said that since the students of diploma in pharmacy were still awaiting their results to be declared by the Punjab State Technical Board, the counselling schedule had to be postponed to July 29 from 2 pm onwards.


 
BUSINESS
 

Shopkeepers demand facilities
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 22
Shopkeepers of the Durga Dass Estate have urged the Municipal Council authorities to provide basic facilities in the area.

In a letter, addressed to the Executive Officer of the council, the shopkeepers said that the market came into existence more than two years ago but the basic facilities like the provision of water, streetlight, sewerage, and proper roads had still not been provided by the civic body. They said that they had been paying house tax ever since the market came into existence but unfortunately they had been deprived of the basic facilities.

They requested that Executive Officer to personally visit the area for getting a clear picture of the problems being faced by them and also to find out why these facilities had not been provided so far.


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