P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Hostages’ families appeal to PM, ultras
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Purhiran (Hoshiarpur), July 23
Asserting that her son was innocent and had nothing to with any anti-Iraqi organisation, Kishan Kaur, the 65-year-old mother of Tilak Raj, one of three Indians held hostage by Iraq based outfit Black Flags, has appealed to the terrorist organisation to release her son. He had gone to Kuwait in November last and had subsequently landed in Iraq to earn big bucks for his big family.

Interestingly, neither Kishan Kaur, who has five sons, and her family was aware of the kidnapping of her son by the Iraqi terrorists till this afternoon nor had any of government officials reportedly approached the family to inform it about the incident.

“We learnt about the stunning development from some people of our area who rushed to us this afternoon probably after reading newspapers and watching the TV. I had got a call from Tilak Raj about seven to eight days back and he had assured us then that he was safe and sound and there was nothing to worry,” said a sobbing Kishan Kaur.

“What is fault of my son and who would look after his three children and his young wife? This should be realised by the kidnappers that Tilak was not associated with any anti-Iraqi organisation. His only fault was that he was there in Iraq to earn his livelihood. All a hapless mother like me can do is to appeal to the terrorist organisation to release my son, who is innocent. I also appeal to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, that being a Punjabi he should help securing an early release of my son. Our family has high hopes from Dr Manmohan Singh for his being a Punjabi,” said Kishan Kaur.

UNA: The distraught families of the two of the captives held hostage by insurgents in Iraq today appealed to the Centre and the international community to ensure their safe return.

A pall of gloom has descended over the villages of Upper Dehlan and Dharampur-Kangar in the district, the native places of Antaryami and Tilak Raj, who have been held hostage, along with another Indian in Iraq, by an insurgent group since Wednesday night.

The duo had left for Kuwait in November last year, along with four others.

Friends and relatives, who had gathered at the houses of these two, could do little to console the traumatised family members, who are helplessly watching the nearing of the 72-hour deadline set by the insurgents.

Ram Murti and Bhago Devi, father and mother of Antaryami, said they were “ready to give all they have for the life of their son”.

“We want our son back home safe at any cost,” they said and appealed to the Union Government, and international community to ensure the safe release of their son.

Kusum, wife of Antaryami, is in a state of shock, but puts up a brave front saying she was confident that her husband would return.

Bhago Devi was unconsolable and was repeatedly falling unconscious.

The situation was no different at Tilak Raj’s house. People were pouring in to offer sympathy to his family.

Promila, wife of Tilak Raj, awaits the news of her husband with her three children. Her eleven-year-old daughter Vandana, clinging to her, was her only comfort while Vishal (8) and Babita (6) were too young to understand what had befallen them.


Chandok absolved of charge of honouring Tytler
Varinder Walia
Tribune news service

Amritsar, July 23
Much to the embarrassment of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal , the Sikh clergy today absolved Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) of the charges of presenting a siropa to Mr Jagdish Tytler, former Union Minister who was accused of engineering the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

The SAD had inserted advertisements in various newspapers regarding Mr Chandok presenting a siropa to Mr Tytler during the recently held SGPC poll and tried to defame the rival groups having the support of DSGMC .

Surprisingly, the Sikh high priests have not directed Mr Chandok to undergo any ‘tankhah’ in this regard. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti , Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, had held meetings with Mr Chandok in Delhi.

Never in Sikh history any jathedar had met an accused before pronouncement of the edict/directives while Jathedar Vedanti had reportedly met Mr Chandok at the house of Giani Ranjit Singh, Head Granthi, Gurdwara Sis Ganj. Jathedar Iqbal Singh also met him (Mr Chandok) two days ago in New Delhi.

In their directive the Sikh high priests stated that they were satisfied with the reply of Mr Chandok. However, the Sikh clergy warned him that being president of the DSGMC he should be more cautious in future .

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, asked Mr Badal to clarify his position on the issue .

Earlier, Jathedar Vedanti was accused of giving ‘mild tankhah’ to Baba Dhanwant Singh and Mr Badal.

Mr Manjit Singh Sarna is reported to have acted as a conduit between the Sikh clergy and Mr Chandok.


Badal opposes Presidential reference to SC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has opposed the Presidential reference sent to the Supreme Court by the Union Government.

After the Political Affairs Committee’s meeting held here today, Mr Badal said that nothing would ” come out of the reference”. More over the Union Government should play a neutral role and should not take sides. It was dispute among states and they should fight the legal battle on their own.

“The water was a state subject and Punjab is fully entitled to make a law in this connection. The Centre has no right to interfere in the state’s affairs in this connection. The SAD would not tolerate any interference of the Centre as Rajasthan and Haryana were non riparian states”, said Mr Badal. “ Earlier also the Congress Government in the Centre had been acting against Punjab and same role was being played by it now”, he asserted.

Urging for the removal of the Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act and also the Agreement Termination Act’s Section 5, that ensures existing usage of Punjab river waters by Haryana and Rajasthan, Mr Badal said that only riparian rules should be made applicable while deciding issues pertaining to river waters. “Punjab would oppose any decision which was imposed on it by violating the riparian principles”, said Mr Badal.

He said that his party did not get enough time to study the Termination of Agreements bill when it was presented in the State Assembly on July 12. When asked that whether the water flowing Haryana and Rajasthan should be stopped, Mr Badal did not give straight reply but said that it was “ illegally” given to Rajasthan and Haryana. He said that at the moment the issue before Punjab was of the SYL canal. “ My party would not allow a single drop of water to flow in this canal”, he said.

Mr Badal has opposed the setting up of any Tribunal for the adjudication of river waters.

Meanwhile, the PAC passed a resolution endorsing the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Punjab Assembly. “ By doing so, the Punjab Assembly has done away the injustice done to the state on river waters by the previous Congress Government in the Centre “, reads the resolution. The hue and cry raised over the passing of the Act in other parts of the country by politicians was unnecessary and seems to have resulted from ignorance of facts regarding river waters. Punjab has performed its legal duty by passing the act, says the resolution. No other state in the country has been given water by violating the riparian principles.

Through an other resolution, the Union Government has been urged to ensure the release of three Punjabi hostages in Iraq. Even the Government should take steps for the safety of other Indians working in that region.


Badal to continue tie-up with BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is determined to continue his party’s tie-up with the BJP despite of the fact that national leadership of the BJP has made it clear to the Akali leader that it would not change its stand on the river waters issue.

The national leadership of the BJP led by Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mrs Sushma Swaraj has been on the forefront to oppose the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Punjab Assembly. The BJP’s top leadership has not only been stalling the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on waters issue but also staging walk-outs and holding press conferences to bring all like minded forces together to oppose Punjab’s stand on river waters.

Quizzed in this connection, Mr Badal, who spares no opportunity to blame the Congress for doing injustice to Punjab on river waters, said that “he would take the decision at appropriate time to discontinue ties with the BJP. It was not a right time to take such a step”.

During his stay in Delhi yesterday , Mr Badal, had called on Mr Advani and the former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, urging them not adopt “ anti- Punjab” stance on the river waters issue. Urging Mr Advani and others to stay neutral, Badal, told them that the anti-Punjab posture adopted by top national leaders of the BJP has put the SAD in a embarrassing situation at the state level. He had asked them to at least make a statement that justice should be done with Punjab regarding river waters.

“Whatever stand has been taken by the Rajasthan and Haryana unit of the BJP on the river waters, the SAD did not mind it but the national leadership of the BJP should not support particular states on this issue”, urged Mr Badal to top leaders of the BJP.

However, according to informed sources, Mr Advani and others refused to entertain any plea of Mr Badal on the river waters. They told Mr Badal that the BJP’s relationship with the SAD was only confined to the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that was decided by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of which both parties are member. However, the BJP leadership bluntly told Mr Badal that it is not the concern of the SAD that what stand is taken by the BJP’s top leadership on the issues not incorporated in the CMP of the NDA.

The BJP leadership, according to sources, also told Mr Badal that “it was a political compulsion of the party( BJP) to take a strong pro- Haryana and Rajasthan stand on the river waters. We can’t resile from the stand taken by us in the Parliament on this issue”.

Mr Badal’s only consolation is that certain BJP leaders in Punjab are supporting the SAD’s stand on the river waters whole heartedly. Among them are Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP from Amritsar and Mr Tikshan Sud, a former BJP Minister. In fact, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, who is also President of the State unit of the BJP, accompanied Mr Badal and other Akali MPs to hand over a memorandum to the PM in Delhi yesterday.

Asked in this connection, Mr Badal, said that the SAD had the enough strength to fight river waters fight without the support of the national leadership of the BJP. “Earlier, when I and my other former cabinet colleagues were facing the Vigilance Bureau’s wrath, the national leadership of the BJP did not extend any worthwhile support though it was in power in the Centre. But we fought our battle against the Capt Amarinder Singh on our own”, said Mr Badal. And even now we can be effective without the support of the national leadership of the BJP on waters issue.


Indian prisoners’ families jubilant over news of release from Pak jails
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 23
The families of those victims of unscrupulous travel agents who landed in jails of Pakistan to suffer untold hardships are jubilant over the announcement of their release on the concluding day of the two-day ministerial meeting of SAARC at Islamabad.

As many as 62 Indian youths are jailed in Kot Lakpat Jail, Lahore; Much Jail, Baluchistan; Kota Jail and Rawalpindi Jail. Mangu Ram Sarma’s son Harish Kumar, a resident of Tarn Taran, is languishing in Kota Jail in Baluchistan, while Dharam Singh is awaiting his son Baljeet Singh from Gonawala village near here, who is also lodged in the same jail .

Both the families have spent lakhs by borrowing and pledging their jewellery and land to pay for “greener pastures” for their sons. However, as luck would have it, they landed in jails after being duped by agents who took them to Turkey instead of Greece. From Turkey they were pushed into Iran and from there through the Taptan border they reached Pakistan after having lost their documents and money.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhuller, president, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, who had taken initiatives for the release of these youth, including smuggling of three such youths, Jagminder Singh, Avtar Singh and Balbir Chand, was flooded with congratulatory phone calls from families of the victims yesterday.

During his talk with Mr Gian Singh in Pakistan, the only minority member in Pakistan’s National Assembly, he was told that the Indian prisoners were jubilant over the news of their release in SAARC talks between Indian Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and were eagerly awaiting their release.

The Indian detainees had resorted to fast to protest against their ill-treatment and torture in Pakistan jails, besides their illegal detention in May this year.

A list of the detainees was sent on June 16 to the then Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Zafarullah Khan Jamali, for verification following which the fast was broken.

They include youths from Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Shahkot, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Fatehgarh Sahib, Tarn Taran, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Patiala, Kaithal and Yamunanagar.


Suspected diarrhoea claims 5 lives in one month
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Suspected diarrhoea has claimed the lives of five persons, at Sultanwind village, about 15 km from here, in the past one month. A large number of persons, including children, are suffering from water-borne diseases in the village.

Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, said no diarrhoea deaths had been reported in government hospitals but private hospitals were being surveyed. He said the deaths had occurred in the past over two months.

Sumanpreet Kaur (23), wife of Tirath Singh, died five days ago and is survived by two daughters. Tirath Singh said she complained of severe stomachache and then began to vomit. She was admitted to a private hospital. Within two days she died of excessive water loss, he said.

Mahinder Kaur of the same village died about nine days ago. Veero, her daughter-in-law, said she was suffering from loose motions and vomiting. She alleged that the residents of the area were being forced to drink contaminated water as there was no other source of drinking water.

Pal Singh (70) died of the same symptoms. Raj Kaur, a relative of the deceased, said he was admitted to a private hospital after severe stomachache. She said even after a few days, there was no improvement in his condition and he was brought back to the house where he died.


Tension prevails as BSF men stop trains
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 23
Tension prevailed at the local railway station this morning as agitated jawans of Border Security Force (BSF) tried to stop many trains from leaving the station.

The jawans were agitated as the special train, on which they were coming from Sambha to Kuch Bihar, was not provided with an engine till this morning after it halted at Jalandhar station last evening. They alleged that it was an inconvenient situation for them as they had not only been delayed but were also forced to bear the heat the whole night through. They said that they were late for their operational duties and demanded that they be given priority over other trains at the station

When their repeated requests to the Government Railway Police fell on deaf ears, the jawans resorted to stopping other trains from leaving the station.

But the situation became quite tense as the passengers of other trains too resisted the move of the BSF men. As many as three trains, including a local rake, were allegedly stopped for more than an hour. This left passengers, many of them daily commuters, high and dry, who said that they were getting late for their work. Similarly, many trains coming via Suranussi and other directions had to be stopped en route due to delayed schedule.

Railway officers, when contacted, said that the BSF train was delayed as the signal for providing an engine was not received by them from Ferozepore headquarters. Finally after much chaos, engine was provided to the train which left the station at 9:35 am, after a halt of over 14 hours.

BSF officials, however, denied having stopped any train at the station this morning and causing any harassment to the passengers. They, however, admitted that the men were agitated as their special train had been halted overnight.


NRI groom’s parents held on dowry charge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
The Patiala police has arrested the parents of an NRI groom from Banga in Nawanshahr district following charges that they were in league with their son in extorting dowry and also throwing her out of the house in the USA.

The police has arrested Hardev Singh and Jaspal Kaur, residents of Mohalla Gandhi Nagar in Banga. It has registered a case under the Dowry Act against the groom Harkanwal Singh and his brother Harcharan Singh who also stays in the USA. The case has been registered at the instance of city resident Tejinder Singh Kalra, a retired Executive Engineer of the PSEB and father of the victim.

According to the complaint, Ms Navneet was wedded in Patiala to Harkanwal, who works as a lead programmer in Arizona. His mother had allegedly even asked for gold ornaments for her deceased relatives and had demanded gold ornaments with specific weight for her son, husband and herself.

Mr Kalra said he kept fulfilling their demands. When Ms Navneet joined her husband in the USA in 2002, she was reportedly ill-treated and had to return to seek medical help in India. She was abused both mentally and physically, he alleged.

Mr Kalra said her in-laws also put pressure on him to transfer a plot in Chandigarh to them. In May, 2004, she was thrown out of the house and attempts were also made to slap a criminal case on her.

The victim was now staying at a gurdwara in Arizona.


SAD committee warns Majithia panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) today warned the admission supervision committee headed by Justice G. R. Majithia (retd) that it should not enter into any unnecessary confrontation with the Sikh community over the issue of minority status to SGPC- run Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical and Dental Sciences.

Urging the Punjab Government to restore the minority status of the Sri Guru Ram institutions at Amritsar, PAC said that by withdrawing the minority status of these institutions, the Majithia committee had tried to " hurt" the sentiments of the Sikh community. The Majithia committee was set up by the Department of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, to fix fees for private medical colleges and supervise admissions.

PAC, which held a meeting here today, said that it was not in the purview of the Majithia committee to decide about the minority status of the SGPC- run Sri Guru Ram Dass institutions. Even two government nominees, including Medical Education Secretary, Mr Satish Chandra, and the Vice Chancellor of Baba Faridkot University for Medical Sciences, Dr J.S. Gujral, besides three other members of the Majithia committee gave a dissenting note on the decision taken in this regard by it, said PAC. The state government had been told to declare the PAC decision as illegal.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur, a serious contender for the post of the SGPC president, said that the SGPC would not implement the decision of the Majithia committee as it had no mandate to decide about the minority status of the SGPC- run colleges.


Exercise to rationalise teachers fails
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
A rationalisation exercise conducted last year by the Punjab Government to place science and commerce teachers where they were needed does not seem to have worked with hundreds of them still teaching in senior secondary schools with less than 10 students on their rolls in the last academic session.

The government had conducted a rationalisation exercise last year after the identification of 264 senior secondary schools in the state which had less than 20 science and commerce students on their rolls. However only a piecemeal exercise seems to have been conducted with the government also not following an earlier proposal moved during the Akali-BJP regime to create nodal schools for the teaching of science and commerce in each block of the state.

A perusal of the latest Punjab School Education Board result gazette shows that there are more than a hundred senior secondary schools in the state where there were less than 20 students on the rolls in the last academic session. These schools have an average of three science and commerce teachers each, besides laboratory attendants.

In Patiala, the senior secondary school at Aliwal has only one science student on its roll who passed the examination. Similar was the situation in Girls Senior Secondary School at Rajpura. At Bahadurgarh, there were only two students, both of whom passed the examination. In the commerce stream in the district, Bhadson Senior Secondary School has five students on its rolls, while Nabha School had seven and Sanaur nine.

In Fatehgarh Sahib there were only eight students in the science stream at Khamanon Kalan while there were nine students each at Bassi Pathanan and Bhari. In the commerce stream in the district, there were only two students at Senior Secondary School in Gobindgarh, three at Balhari and five at Bassi Pathana. In Ropar, in the science stream, there were only four students at Government School in Sohana and two at Singh Bhagwantpura. In the commerce stream, there were only three students at the Secondary School in Chamkaur Sahib.

In Sangrur in the Science stream there were only three children at Bhadaur Senior Secondary School, four at Phalwan and six at Thikriwala. At Thikriwala five of the six students failed the plus two examination. In the commerce stream, there were three students at schools in Changli and Longowal, four at Dhuri and five at Bhawanigarh. In Ludhiana in the science stream, there were two students at Bhaini Sahib, three at Bassian, four at Sidhwankalan and five at Safadikalan. In the commerce stream, there was only one student at Nasrali and two at Hargobindpur.

The pass percentage was also below average in the senior secondary schools who also find it difficult to attract students. Meanwhile, sources say even the present strength of students in science and commerce streams in rural schools was fudged. Master Om Prakash, a former teacher, says in many cases students were registered in the rural schools but attended classes in urban schools and only came back to the original schools to take their examinations.

He said though the government had decided to transfer teachers from all schools which had a strength of less than 20 students in both the science and commerce streams, the move was implemented only partially.

The government could use science and commerce teachers, wherever surplus, to teach high school students, he said.


PSEB’s backdated notices harass consumers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 23
The Consumer Movement, an NGO, has criticised Punjab State Electricity Board officials for harassing consumers on the pretext of checking power meters and for long power cuts.

Power consumers in the Abohar division of the PSEB were served back-dated notices last evening directing them to report at the meter laboratory of the board on the Kotkapura Road, Muktsar, on Friday at 11 am as their old meters were to be checked in their presence. The notices of June 18 were signed by the assistant engineers of the respective sub-divisions. Officials here said they had received a message last morning that an inspection team headed by an SE of the flying squad will visit Muktsar today to check three-phase meters which had been replaced with electronic meters last month.

The inspection team allegedly had arbitrary powers to determine whether the meters were properly sealed or sticky. Penalties could be imposed on consumers if any fault was detected. Besides, the PSEB had powers to issue fresh bills on the basis of highest bill paid by the consumer during the period he had used such a meter. The consumers had been warned through these notices that if they failed to be present during the checking of the meter, the board would be competent to take any decision.

The movement said it would be wrong to blame the consumer for any discrepancy in the meter as the board staff had been handling the meters, more than four decades in some cases, while attending to complaints. Moreover, the inspection team should have fixed a day for checking at Abohar as four sub-divisions were attached to this division and to make consumers to travel 60 km to 90 km for spending a day at Muktsar is a big harassment.

The PSEB’s malfunctioning would hit popularity of the Congress government in the state, said the movement.

The movement was surprised that senior officers were directing junior engineers to raid those consumers who were getting only four hours’ electricity supply. The board should step up measures to check transmission losses and pilferage at the higher level, the movement suggested.

By suspending electricity supply from 9 am to 1 pm the PSEB had paralysed the functioning of government hospitals/health centres in rural areas. They had neither generators nor funds to arrange fuel for outdated generators. This has hit the family planning programme as surgeries were not possible.

The movement said that non-supply of electricity from morning to noon to post offices had hit functioning of the computer network also. The employees had to resort to old-type of money order and parcel booking system as the post offices do not have generators.


Rotation disrupted to give power to school
20,000 residents affected, alleges Bir Devinder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 23
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Kharar MLA, has requested the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to get a high-level inquiry conducted to find out as to why the power rotation system of a particular feeder was disrupted to allegedly ensure power supply to a private school in the area. The step had adversely affected residents of more than 12 villages. He demanded that punitive action should be taken against officials responsible for the lapse.

He said farmers of more than 12 villages were getting power to run their tubewells from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the past more than 10 days because it had to be given to the school during working hours. This had adversely affected more than 20,000 residents.

According to the board rules, power for running tubewells is given in rotation - morning and night.

The MLA said he had asked the PSEB Chairman, Mr Y.S. Ratra, to revert back to the rotation system, failing which residents of the affected villages would be free to adopt an agitational path.

The MLA said the Chief Director, Vigilance, ADGP, Mr A.P. Pandey, allegedly used his influence to interfere in the working of the Punjab State Electricity Board to get some personal benefit. He alleged that a relative of Mr Pandey had a school running by the name of Ambika Public School, on the Nawanshahar - Badala road, on the outskirts of Kharar. He wanted that the school should be provided power during working hours as the area was facing long power cuts. As such the PSEB officials allegedly skipped the rotation system and started giving power only during day time thereby plunging rural areas into darkness at night. Single phase power was also being given for only about an hour.

He said six power feeders were running under the Kharar subdivision of the PSEB. The rotation system of all villages falling under the Badali feeder was allegedly disrupted. Some of the affected villages are Badala, Nawanshahar, Cholta Kalan, Rangian, Popna, Majatri, Jhanjeri, Badali, Maggar, Rasenheri, Santemajra and Niamian.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he received complaints from residents about the problem they were facing. He said when he asked the Executive Engineer, Mr R.K. Shahi, about the problem he was told that his officials had received verbal orders from the officiating Chief Engineer, Systems Operation, PSEB, that power had to be supplied to the school during working hours.

The MLA said when he talked to the Chief Engineer concerned, the former was told that orders in this regard had allegedly been received from the Member, Operations, Mr Harish Sood. However, Mr Sood told the MLA that he had been asked by the board Chairman to pass such orders. The MLA said Mr Ratra confirmed that Mr Pandey had talked to him (Mr Ratra) for allegedly providing power to the school during the working hours.


Villagers gherao office of PSEB officials
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 23
Farmers from a number of villages gheraoed the office of the Executive Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), in protest against the inadequate supply of power here today.

They raised slogans against the PSEB and staged a dharna which was lifted only when the authorities concerned gave an assurance that the power position would be improved.

The protesters complained that they were getting power for four hours daily for tubewells whereas the board had announced for the same eight hours for the same.

They said many had deposited Rs 10,000 each for single phase supply for longer hours but no action had been taken in this regard.

The affected farmers met the Executive Engineer to apprise him of the problem. They said if no improvement was brought about in the power position, they would be compelled to resort to a “Chaka jam” stir.


PSEB staff holds dharna against privatisation
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 23
On a call by the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) organised a dharna in front of the micro- hydel office in protest against the state government’s decision to give micro hydel project, including Rohti, Thuhi, Nadampur and Dodhar, to private contractors.

While condemning the state government’s decision to privatise the Board, Mr Surinder Singh, a former leader said that the Board management had taken the decision in the light of the Electricity Act 2003.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sodhi, another leader, alleged that the Board had not implemented the decision, which was taken at a joint meeting of the Board management and employees held last year.

He said that they would intensify their struggle if the state government failed to withdraw its decision to privatise the Board.

They further stated that if the state government failed to resolve the issue, dharnas would be organised from July 27 to August 5 at the circle level.

They added that a dharna would be organised in front of the head office of the PSEB on August 25. Those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Jasmail Singh Dhindsa, Mr Baljinder Singh, Mr Puran Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh and Mr Dharsan Singh.


PSEB employees rewarded
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) gave cash prize of Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 to JE Jagir Singh and lineman Pala Singh, respectively, for their bravery here today.

It may be mentioned here that Jagir Singh and Pal Singh had exhibited courage while detecting three motors, which were running unauthorisedly in Ferozepore district. During the operation, Jagir Singh was seriously injured in gun fire by miscreants.


Patiala residents do without cable TV
War between rival groups
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
Residents of the city, who have been forced to live with piles of filth with corporation employees going on a strike since the past one fortnight, now have to do without cable television.

Cable services to most parts of the city have been disrupted since last Sunday with two rival groups cutting the cables of each other. It started on last Sunday when an Asia Cup match was on. The sources said the CCO group a cable service provider, displayed a sign in some parts of the city telling people that they were watching cable time which was stolen by the rival group.

Following this, the sources said an all-out war started, particularly to wrest control of the cable network in the Urban Estate and outer colonies of the city. The sources said rival cable groups were functioning under political patronage due to which the police could not effectively intervene in the case. They said while members of the Time Cable group had cut the wires of subscribers belonging to the CCO group last week, the CCO group had retaliated in a similar fashion this week.

Shamsher Singh of Model Town said both groups were moving around with security. At night they either cut wires or tried to change the loyalty of small-time cable channel distributors. He said it was amazing that most of the city was doing without any cable channel but the police was not acting to resolve the matter.

Vikram Goel of Model Town, a cricket buff, said the cable operators were not keen to maintain cable services and were instead busy encroaching on each others territories. Other citizens rued missing Asia Cup and the Copa American football matches.

SSP A. S. Rai, when contacted, said the police was taking steps in this regard. He said the Kotwali police had registered a case against Pradeep Mittal, Raju Khanna, Vikas and others, all members of Time Cable, on July 19 on a complaint of Mr Naresh Mittal, proprietor of CCO cable network. According to the police, the accused had resorted to cutting wires of the other party and also stolen some material.

SP (City) Rattan Lal Monga said the police was giving security to the cable operators and would also not let any anti-social element disturb the peace in the city. He said the police had intensified patrolling in all outer colonies and areas where the cable operators were situated. He said raids were being conducted to nab Pradeep Mittal and others who were accused of resorting to cutting of the wires of their rivals.

The SP said though the police had also received anonymous complaints against Mr Naresh Mittal, accusing him of similar practices, none had come forward to complain against Mr Mittal formally.


Patiala doctors block traffic
Corporation staff too warn of agitation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
Doctors and para-medical staff of Government Rajindra Hospital today blocked traffic on the Patiala-Sangrur road for more than an hour in protest against the transfer of six doctors, including the Principal of the Medical College and the Medical Superintendent of the hospital.

Leaders of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, speaking on the occasion, threatened closure of all emergency services in the hospital in case the transfer orders were not reviewed.

Association president Dr Janak Raj Arora said the stir would be spread to other medical colleges in the state in case the government did not relent.

Union leaders claimed that they alone could not be held responsible for “system failure’’ as mentioned in the report of the committee which probed charges of negligence against them. Meanwhile, doctors observed a pen-down strike in the hospital. OPD services remained paralysed and operation theatre work was also affected. Patients coming to the OPD had to return home disappointed while those in various wards remained unattended to during the protest rally.

Doctor leaders condemned the “role played” by the district administration after the death of union leader Harjit Singh on July 8 when he was brought to the hospital with severe burn injuries following an acid attack.

The leaders said the administration had failed to nab the real culprits in the case, despite the fact that the incident had occurred in broad daylight. They later submitted a memorandum to the district administration demanding immediate arrest of the culprits. Meanwhile, the Municipal Corporation Workers Union today issued a press note warning the state government that the corporation employees would resume their agitation in case the government took back the transfer orders of the six doctors.

Punjab Municipal Corporation Workers Mahasangh president Balwant Singh Sandhu and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh’s Pushpinder Pathak said in case the government took back the transfer orders, the employees would stop some essential services. They demanded that criminal cases be registered against the “negligent” doctors.


Purchase of Rs 4 cr siropas: SGPC shifts official
Tribune news service

Amritsar July 23
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee SGPC yesterday effected minor re-shuffle of its employees. The transfer of the Purchase Officer on the eve of placing orders for ‘Siropas’ (robes of honour) for more than Rs 4 crore has led to the raising of many eye-brows in Sikh circles .

Two employees have been promoted by the SGPC. This has surprised , many as the changes have been made by working president of the SGPC, Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke who may be replaced in the forthcoming general house meeting of the SGPC. Mr Pakhoke could not contest the recently held Shiromani Committee elections.

It is learnt that Mr Ranjit Singh, Purchase Officer was transferred as he had been opposing the move of the SGPC to allot tender to a particular person .

He has been replaced by Mr Gurcharn Singh Gharinda. Earlier, meetings regarding the purchase of cloth for Siropas could not be held due to objections by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur.

Later, the SGPC included four more members said to be close to Mr Pakhoke in the Purchase Committee. Objections were also raised earlier also for the purchase of the cloth.

The SGPC has also promoted Mr Surjit Singh assistant Manager Darbar, as Additional Manager Golden Temple and Mr Gurcharan Singh , an Inspector has been promoted Supervisor.


J&K students visit Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Thirty students from the terrorist-affected Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir today visited the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Fort Gobindgarh under the Army’s Operation Sadbhavna here.

The Army aims to integrate children from these places with the rest of India in an endeavour to give them a broader outlook in life, besides weaning them away from the lure of terrorists.

The students will go to New Delhi to perform a cultural programme in some schools, which will include Dogri and Pahari songs, and dances.

In the age group of 13-17, the students were thrilled to visit the Golden Temple.

Some of them have seen close encounters with terrorists. Rajat Sharma of Kalakote wants be he an IPS officer. “While the Army protects the borders, more effort is needed to protect the social environment as the internal danger is far greater,” he says.


Sikh clergy calls for boycott of ‘Gurbani yatra’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
The Sikh clergy today urged Sikhs to boycott the ‘Sarb Sanjhi Gurbani Yatra’ being taken out in various parts of the country by some ‘anti-Sikh’ organisations.

All five Sikh high priests said in a directive that the Akal Takht secretariat had received a number of complaints about the alleged anti-Sikh activities of certain organisations under the garb of Sikhism. They appealed to the managements of gurdwaras all over the country not to participate in such functions.

Meanwhile, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Patna Sahib, said a ban had been imposed on Mundavani, a book authored by a renowned Sikh scholar, and all other books that had raised controversy over ‘Raagmala’.


Disappearance from police custody
Man alive, claims police
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh, July 23
The police today presented Upasana, a minor, and her boy friend, Ranjit Singh Rana, who had eloped recently, in the court of Mr G.S. Dhillon, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Fatehgarh Sahib. Mr Dhillon ordered to send Upasana to Nari Niketan, Jalandhar, till August 5 and Ranjit Singh Rana to the Nabha jail till August 6.

Upasana, in her statement recorded in the court had alleged that her father, Varinder Kumar, used to rape her. The police had said that Varinder escaped from the police custody as he came to know about Upasana allegation against him. However, members of Varinder’s family had alleged that he had died in police custody.

Meanwhile, relatives of Varinder, in a representation to Mr Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, DIG, Patiala Range, has demanded a thorough inquiry into the allegation levelled by Upasana against her father. They stated that she had made the allegation under pressure from the police. The DIG has marked the inquiry to Mr B.K. Yadav, SP (H), Patiala.

Mr Harbans Singh, newly appointed SHO, said the police had got reports that Varinder was alive. He said the police had also registered a case against Jugni and others allegedly for destroying the car of the ADC during the bandh call yesterday.


Ammonia leakage causes panic, factory closed

Phagwara, July 23
Panic prevailed in the town when an ammonia gas pipe of a ice factor suddenly started leaking today. It caused suffocation among residents, shopkeepers and customers on the Banga road causing panic.

However, the local fire brigade rushed to the spot and controlled the situation within 45 minutes.

SDM Pritam Singh and Nagar Council President Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, along with Executive Officer Prem Nath Goyal rushed to the spot and inspected the site. The SDM immediately ordered the closure of the ice factory.

Later, he said that notices were being issued to all ice factories of the town on security measures. He also convened a meeting of all ice factory owners. Ammonia gas pipe of this factory had earlier also bursted on July 3, 2002. — UNI


P.L. Sondhi dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Mr P.L. Sondhi, a retired IAS of Punjab died here today after a protracted illness. He was 86.

Mr Sondhi, who had a distinguished career in the Army and civil services, remained Secretary to four successive Governors in Punjab. He was also Director Public Instruction and Census Commissioner besides holding the coveted position of Commissioner, Patiala Division.

In the Army Mr Sondhi served 8th Punjab Regiment, both in Burma and Italy during the World War II where he was mentioned in despatches in the battle for Monte Casino.

An alumni of Government College, Lahore, Mr Sondhi was an ardent tennis player, a Persian scholar and an accomplished musician.


Helpage India programme
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Helpage India and the All India Women Conference( AIWC) here jointly held the 7th annual ‘adopt a granny programme’ on Thursday. As many as 88 women above 65 , many of them abandoned were given clothes, dry ration and utility items, according to Maj General Inderjit Dhillon (retd) Director General.


PUDA gets tough with illegal colonisers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 23
As part of its series of stringent measures, PUDA has decided to approach the DGP, Punjab, for registration of cases against those who had carved out unauthorised residential colonies in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr A.S. Chhatwal, said to expedite the process to register FIRs against owners of unauthorised colonies, it had been decided to approach the DGP.

He said during a special survey conducted by the PUDA authorities, it was found that 1,560 illegal residential colonies had been carved out in the state. “We have decided to take strict action against defaulters who are making money at the cost of the state exchequer even as most of them deprive residents in such colonies of basic civic amenities. We have prepared a district-wise details of unauthorised colonies and their owners. The details will be submitted to the DGP for the registration of FIRs,” he said, adding that the minister concerned had already given its approval in this regard.

He said they had also formulated an encroachment removal policy which had been submitted to the high court in a case. “As soon as we get directions from the court we will launch a statewide encroachment removal campaign,” he said.

Asked if action had been initiated against PUDA officials for not performing their duty and allowing encroaches to grab land, he said PUDA had recently suspended the Estate Officer, Ludhiana, in one such case and he would be chargesheeted soon.

Mr Balwinder Singh Multani, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, said residential colonies would be set up at Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar and Sujanpur.


Inside Babudom
2 IGs, 12 Inspectors to be promoted
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Punjab Government has initiated the process of promoting two Inspectors- General of Police (IGPs) — J.P. Birdi and Jyoti Trehan — as Additional Directors-General of Police (ADGPs). And 12 Punjab Police Inspectors are also likely to be promoted as Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs). Their names were reportedly considered by the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) during a meeting held this afternoon.

The sources in the Punjab Government claimed that the minutes of the meeting were yet to be signed. They added that formal orders regarding the promotions were expected to be issued soon. The number of DSPs in the state is already above 290.

They claimed that formal orders regarding the promotion of IGP Birdi and Trehan too were likely to be issued soon. Both IPS officers belonged to the 1970 batch. Two of the batch-mates have already been promoted.

The seniority list of state cadre police officers for appointed to the Indian Police Services (IPS) was also to be finalised within a week. The process of filling up the vacancies by promotion was being carried out in consultation with the UPSC.


Diploma engineers refuse to inspect canals
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 23
Diploma engineers of the Irrigation Department have relinquished responsibility for inspecting and controlling canals and sub-canals in the entire region with immediate effect.

A decision to this effect was taken as the dharna by them entered its fifth day today. The government has not responded to their demand for cancelling the FIR against Mr Jagdev Singh Bhatti JE, and other employees of the department.

Several farmers from the villages located on the tail-end of the canals and sub-canals in Abohar and Malout sub-divisions joined the dharna to express their solidarity with the employees.


Businessman arrested in cheating case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 23
A criminal case was registered against a local businessman, Mr Prem Chand, and a woman, Mrs Shimla Mittal for their alleged involvement in disposing of a piece of land by committing cheating with another local resident, Mr Devinder Kumar, who was also a share-holder in that plot.

As per a crime report issued here today by the district police chief, Mr Kapil Dev, a case under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC was registered against Mr Prem Chand and Mrs Mittal on a complaint lodged by Mr Devinder Kumar.

In his complaint, Mr Devinder Kumar said that he along with Mrs Shimla Mittal purchased four bighas of land jointly. He said that he was having 40 per cent share in the plot. He said that Mrs Shimla Mittal gave the power of attorney to Mr Prem Chand in connection with the land.

Mr Prem Chand along with Mrs Mittal managed to dispose of more land than the due share of Mrs Mittal to different buyers and, thus ,committed a cheating with Mr Devinder Kumar.

He pointed out that inquiries were conducted by the SDMs, of Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda, and his allegations were found true. He added that the police had arrested Mr Prem Chand.


Nursing institute director held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 23
The Pathankot police today registered a case against the director of the RN Tagore Nursing Institute, Mr G.D. Dogra. He would be produced in the court tomorrow.

The director has been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 354 and 506 of the IPC, which include charges of forgery and molestation.

The director was booked after a complaint by nursing institute students who in their statement to the police alleged that he harassed them sexually on the pretext of conducting their medical examination.

Earlier the SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Narinder Bhargav, had directed the SP, Pathankot, Mr Manminder Singh, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of certain girl students. The girls struck to their charges in the police inquiry due to which the case was registered against the institute director.

The police has confiscated certain forged registers of the institute. Some fictitious entries of the salary bills have allegedly been made in the register, sources told.

Some of the first-year students returned to the hostel today. They said that they had submitted their complaint to the SSP, Gurdaspur. They were also willing to record their statements before the police.


Ex-MLA booked for derogatory remarks
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, July 23
A criminal case was registered against Mr Raghubir Singh, former Congress MLA, his son Dinesh Kumar, Mr Kulwant Singh, MC President, and Mr Baldev Singh, councillor, for allege using derogatory remarks against Ms Reshma Devi, a scheduled Caste municipal councillor of Ward Number 14.

Police sources said the case was registered last evening under the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act following a complaint by Ms Reshma Devi.

Sources said the accused used derogatory remarks against Ms Devi and her caste when she came to the office of the municipal council to lodge a protest against the acute water shortage being faced by residents of her ward.

Mr Raghubir Singh said the case was politically motivated. He alleged that Ms Devi had made a statement against them on the instigation of the local Akali leadership.

He said if the police failed to withdraw the cases registered against certain Congress leaders, the party would launch a districtwide agitation. Workers would also gherao the police station, he said.


Man who fired at Imam dies in hospital
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 23
Abdul Majid, alias Nikku, who was allegedly beaten up by some persons at the railway station on July 12, died in the Civil Hospital yesterday.

Nikku had allegedly fired from pistol at the Imam of a masjid in Maler Mohalla here on July 6 and later fled.

Sources said Nikku returned to Malerkotla on July 12 and he was allegedly beaten up by some persons of Maler Mohalla at the railway station in connection with the attack on Imam.

After beating they got him admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Relatives of Nikku alleged that the police was not registering a case against the persons who attacked Nikku.

When contacted, Mr Bhag Sing, SHO, said that some cases were already pending against Nikku and we would investigate the allegations of the relatives of Nikku.

Mohd Jameel, brother of Nikku, said that about six persons beat up Nikku and his uncle, Mohd Hussain. Some persons admitted them in hospital where Nikku died.

He said they had complained to the local police officers and the DIG and the SSP of Sangrur but to no avail.


Woman poisons son
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 23
A woman poisoned her 11-year-old son at Dhaleke village, near here, yesterday. The accused was married to Balwinder Singh. Sources said Baljeet Kaur gave her son, Sukhdev Singh alias Shankar, food laced with some poisonous substance when he returned from the school.

Villagers said that Baljeet’s first husband had died and she married Balwinder about five years back. She had a son and two daughters from her first marriage.

Sources said that she used to discriminate between her children to which Balwinder had objected. Angry over the issue, she took this step.

Sources said she wanted to kill the entire family, but other children didn’t eat after they saw Shankar falling unconscious.


Woman strangled
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 23
Harjinder Kaur (21), who was married only 20 months back, was strangled by her husband and two other members of her in-law’s family at Kaler village 8 km from here, last evening.

Mr Dalbir Singh, a resident of Varpal village and father of the deceased , said his daughter was married to Pargat Singh and he gave sufficient dowry to her. But in spite all the things they used to harass her physically and mentally.


Bathinda resident robbed of Qualis
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 23
Two unidentified persons took away a Qualis vehicle from a resident of Bathinda near Sangrur road here today.

According to information, Baljinder Singh was coming from Bathinda to Chandigarh on his Qualis vehicle. Two persons asked him for a lift near the Fauji chowk in Bathinda. Later they threatened him and drove away the vehicle.

A case has been registered against the accused under Section 382 of IPC at Sadar Police Station.


JE, auditor held for graft

Kapurthala, July 23
The Vigilance Bureau arrested a junior engineer and an auditor of the Public Works Department (PWD) here for accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 and Rs 3,000, respectively, from a contractor for clearing his payment. — UNI


Farid varsity-medical colleges’ row makes students suffer
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 23
Medical aspirants in the state may have got reprieve after the news of fee cut for various courses, but the delay in pre-medical entrance test, due to a controversy, is giving them sleepless nights. Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, for the past few months, has been involved in a row with the CMC, Ludhiana, and Guru Ramdas Medical College, Amritsar, owing to which the students, who want to take admission in these colleges, have to buy the prospectus both from the colleges as well as the university.

Sources said the university would be conducting the entrance test on August 1, when almost all other states would be through with these tests. According to sources, these colleges had got the prospectus published and were selling it for admission, while the university was yet to conduct the test for admission to these colleges.

For admission to all medical colleges in the state Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, conducts a common entrance test and admissions are given on merit on the basis of this test. But last year Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, and Guru Ramdas Medical College, Amritsar, had claimed that they were among the prestigious colleges in the country and hence they should be allowed to admit students at their own level. A writ was also filed in the Supreme Court in this regard. On the basis of the writ the court had directed the Punjab Government to form a committee, headed by a retired judge of the High Court. However, the government had delayed the formation of the committee and it had been formed just two months back under the chairmanship of Justice Majithia. The committee was yet to submit its report. The university then said that till the committee report was submitted admissions to all colleges would be made by the university. On the other hand, putting forth the same point these colleges said that they would admit students on their own and the final decision would be taken after submission of the committee report.

This controversy had contributed to the delay in conducting entrance tests and it also was causing financial loss to thousands of students who had been made to buy the same prospectus from two places i.e. the college and the university.

When contacted, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr J.S. Gujral, said that the committee report was yet to be submitted and till then the university would make admissions in all colleges. On the other hand, the principal of CMC, Ludhiana, Dr Varghese, said that they were bound to follow the decision of the committee, but till the final decision was made the college would admit students on its own.

In the tussle between these colleges and the university, medical aspirants were the only losers with the government being the mute spectator.


Scientists prepare glass from fly ash
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) scientists have achieved a major breakthrough in preparing glass samples containing heavy metal oxide with fly ash and found them to be an effective radiation shielding materials like bismuth and lead.

Dr Kulwant Singh Thind, Professor of physics along with three researchers — Mr Ashutosh Goel, Ms Anu Arora and Ms Shweta Mohan — would present a research paper on “Glasses containing fly ash a radiation shielding materials” at Florida, USA, shortly.

The American Ceramic Society of USA has invited them and their supervisor Dr Thind to present their research on this topic in the 14th International Symposium on “Non-oxide glasses” at Florida from November 7 to 12.

Dr K.S. Thind said fly ash was being largely utilised in building construction. The value of Fly ash as a resource was still underestimated and its large quantities is being dumped in slurry form in areas close to the power plants without being put to the gainful use. He claimed that experimental results have shown that glasses with fly ash had a potential application as a shielding material and a cheaper substitute of lead. He further claimed that these glasses also follow the new environmental guidelines, which encourage finding some substitute of lead.

He said to make use of the fact that scattering and absorption of gamma radiations are related to the density and effective atomic numbers of the material, knowledge of the mass attenuation coefficients is of prime importance.


HP tourism office in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 23
With a view to attracting more tourists from Punjab and to offer them the convenience of reservation of accommodation in the hotels of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) in Himachal Pradesh, the HPTDC has opened its booking office in the local Sarswati Vihar.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Madan Rana, manager of the HPTDC’s booking office here, said apart from providing the reservation facility, the booking office would also work as the information centre of the HPTDC. “The office is likely to boost tourism and would benefit tourists from major cities like Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur,” said Mr Rana.

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