P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Four youths allege duping by Canway Immigration
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 7
The lure of greener pastures has once again deprived four youths and their families of whatever limited resources they had here to pull along. The victims belonging to different parts of the state have charged a Chandigarh-based immigration consultancy in Sector-44 of duping them of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad.

A Ludhiana-based girl, Jagroop Kaur, and a Jalandhar-based boy, Ravinder Singh, along with two youths Jatinder and Bhupinder from Patran in Sangrur, had dreamt of a rich life in Canada. They are now making frantic efforts to get their money back with interest.

The alleged victims have claimed that several other youths were duped like them. They have not got any justice from the Chandigarh police as no action has been taken against accused Canway Immigration Consultancy on their complaints. The police allegedly had not done anything for two months and then the matter was passed to the Economic Offences wing of the Chandigarh police.

However, Ms Ravleen Uppal, director of the company, said the firm had not duped the youths, “the problem has arisen as Pronto College of Computer Education in Vancouver is closed down. It has been auctioned for reasons unknown to us”

She claimed that they had complained to the Canada police and sought compensation from the college authorities, “We kept just Rs 5,000 as consultancy fee from the youths and the rest of the money had been forwarded to Pronto college. We are hopeful that we would get the money back and pay it to the youths” she claimed.

It is over two years now when the four victims had deposited Rs 1.5 lakh each with the company. They had undergone all formalities for moving to Canada the consultancy authorities kept on dilly-dallying on one pretext or another.

Ravinder Singh of Jalandhar has, in a affidavit to The Tribune, alleged that the company showed them dreams about smooth emigration to Canada but all those promises had fallen flat.


Punjab law panel favours death penalty for
‘common’ murderers

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Even as legal luminaries in India and abroad are debating the issue of scrapping capital punishment from the statute, the Punjab State Law Commission has reportedly urged the Centre to bring about an amendment in the law for awarding death sentence to even "common" murderers.

The Commission has suggested that amendment was required under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to murder offence. "The Centre should ask the Supreme Court to review the matter so that death sentence could be awarded to common offenders who have committed a murder", the Commission has reportedly recommended.

It has further suggested that the principle of "rarest of rarest cases" should be modified, looking at the tremendous increase in murder offences. The recommendation comes almost 14 years after the "rarest of rare" doctrine was propounded by the Supreme Court.

Though Commission Chairman Justice A.S. Garg was not available for comments, the sources in the Commission said "only the fear of death sentence could go a long way in reducing the incident of murder".

They added that the Commission had also sought the revival of Section 303 of the IPC "in a suitable form". The Section, pertaining to murder by a life convict, was declared "ultra vires" by the Supreme Court. The Section said, "Whoever, being under sentence of imprisonment for life, commits murder, shall be punished with death".

The development is significant as execution of Dhananjay had evoked media hype with human rights organisations, opposed to capital punishment, pleading for mercy and asking the authorities to convert his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Dhananjay was convicted and sentenced to death by the Alipur Sessions Court in August, 1991. The Kolkata High Court had confirmed his death sentence in August, 1992. It was upheld by the Supreme Court on January 11, 1992. The apex court had, subsequently, rejected his review petition 10 days later.

The lawyers, arguing in his favour, said opposition to abolition of death penalty stemmed from the myth that it would lead to an increase in murders. Facts, however, show otherwise. Quoting an example, they said in Canada the homicide rate declined after the abolition of death penalty in 1976.

Lawyers, supporting death penalty, on the other hand, were arguing that death penalty was a must as a deterrent. Going into history of the subject, they were arguing that in 1946, on the eve of Independence, the then Union Home Minister had stated that abolishing capital punishment was not considered wise by the government. Ten years later, when the government asked the states for their opinion, most expressed support for the death penalty.


Punjab: Chautala “spreads lies” about
Narwana canal breaches
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Launching a counter political attack on the Haryana Chief Minister, Om Parkash Chautala, the Punjab Government said today that Mr Chautala was not only spreading lies with regard to the breaches in the Narwana branch but also as Chief Minister he had opposed the taming of the Ghaggar river that played a havoc by flooding various parts of Punjab and Haryana .

Addressing a press conference here today, the Irrigation Minister, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, said today that Mr Chautala was “lying” by asserting that the Narwana canal was deliberately breached in the Patiala area. He said that the canal was breached by the Ghaggar’s gushing water that forced its way into the canal by over-topping its banks. There were as many as six breaches in the canal. Mr Lal Singh said most of the breaches occurred in the canal on August 3. “We have the evidence to prove that the canal was breached by Ghaggar waters and it was not deliberately cut by any person”, he asserted.

On August 4, two relief cuts were made in the canal, which had already breached on August 3, near Lachharu village as part of strategy to manage floods which had submerged several village in the areas. He said that Mr Chautala should realise one fact that the natural flow of the water was towards Punjab and not Haryana. In such a situation, how can Punjab commit a blunder of breaching the canal to drown its own people, he asked.

“Because of the breaches in the canal, several villages in Punjab had suffered a big damage and drinking water supply to Rajpura town has been cut”, he said. In fact, Ghaggar, Markanda and Tangari, which flow through Haryana to enter Punjab, had become a major ‘curse’ for the people of the Patiala-Sangrur region.

Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Punjab, who was also present, said that it was the Haryana Government that had strongly opposed the proposal mooted by the Punjab Government to built a dam across the Ghaggar at a suitable place to save the people from its fury in both the states. Refusing to answer any political question on this issue, Mr Lakhanpal said that major problem of both the states regarding floods would have been solved, had Ghaggar been tamed.

He said that at no stage the Haryana Government officially or non-officially brought to the notice of the Punjab Government that the Narwana branch was breached deliberately in Punjab territory. “I have read only about this in newspapers but we have received no official letter from Haryana in this connection till date”, he added. When asked about the visit of Central Water Commission (CWC), he said that the team had visited the breach sites to assess the damage”. I do not know if the CWC team went to the breach site for any other purpose”, he added.

Mr Lakhanpal said that Punjab Irrigation Department officers concerned were fully geared up to plug breaches on the canal in a minimum possible time. “Our initial estimate is that it would take two weeks to plug the three main breaches while other small breaches would be taken care of even in lesser time.”, he said.

“I have told the officials concerned to go ahead to mobilise material etc to handle various works on the canal and the Ghaggar, Tangri etc”. It would be our effort to start the work before the beginning of an-other spell of rain.

He said that there was no problem of funds to take up all the flood management related works. How much financial loss had been caused by floods, it was difficult to say at this stage. But it was a huge loss, he said, adding that as many as 332 villages had been affected in Patiala and Sangrur districts. Among them the worst affected were 134. As many as eight persons died because of floods and about 800 cattle head were lost. In all about 20 per cent population had been affected in both Patiala and Sangrur districts.


Where flood is not bad news
Tribune News Service

Budhmor (Patiala), August 7
While dozens of villages in this district have been caught unawares by the rising flood waters, this village near the border with Haryana has not only learnt to live with floods, but thrives on them.

Situated on the fork of the Tangri and Markanda rivers, the village land is the bed of both rivers, which is being made to good use. The bed produces one of the finest qualities of ‘basmati’ rice in the region without any cost to the tillers. This is because the annual flood waters bring silt along with them, enriching the land and ensuring the best produce without any inputs.

If farmers of this village as well as those living adjoining it thrive on the ‘basmati’ produce, they have to pay a cost for it. The village is virtually inundated during the monsoon and villagers have to live with water all around them. Rather than being cowed down by this prospect, the villagers have adapted themselves to live in the company of water.

“Swimming is the first thing a child learns here”, says Mr Amarjit Singh of Rohar Jagir while talking about children of Budhmor. He says the child has to do so for practical reasons as children often help their fathers during the floods, be it getting fodder or essential commodities. The parents stock commodities for the floods, but venture out in case of need.

“They understand floods and know exactly what will happen”, say other villagers, while talking about people of Budhmor, who like every year, are submerged in five or six feet of water this time around also. Rescue teams have found that none of the villagers wants to be evacuated.

Teams from the district administration who visited the village yesterday were surprised that the people of the village did not have any special demand except for asking for ‘tarpals’ to guard essential items. The team members said the villagers said they had everything and offered them tea. The tea is got from the village by a man who swims with a tea kettle on his head.

The paddy crop of this village usually escapes the wrath of the floods. This is because water settles slowly in the area and there is no strong current, as in the case of villages close to the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal or the Narwana branch of the Bhakra canal, where water gushes out in a torrent in case of a breach. Villagers say in case the crop is submerged in water, it survives for three days as long as day temperatures are not high.

In case of early floods, farmers in Budhmor and neighbouring areas start working in their fields immediately after the rain to trap the water.


Chandumajra seeks relief for farmers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
The SAD (Longowal) today demanded a compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre to those farmers whose standing crops had damaged due to floods. It also demanded a compensation for all those who had lost their family members or animals during the floods, besides government job and Rs 5 lakh to each families that had lost one of its members.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the SAD (Longowal), said the party had demanded Rs 10000 crore from the Finance Commission for a permanent solution to the floods in the state.

He was here in connection with a meeting of his party for making preparation for observing the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal on August 20.


Ghaggar floods 11000 acres of 9 villages
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Ghaggar water today entered fields of two villages, Nawan Gaon and Hotipur, of this district through Batisdara, near RD 460 (Khanauri), flooding 11,000 acres of nine villages, namely Andana, Chandu, Mandvi, Hotipur, Makror Sahib, Therri, Baopur and Moonak of the district till evening.

Ghaggar water was touching 753 foot mark at the RD 460, near Khanauri, this evening. Breaches in Ghaggar near Anadana and Chandu villages could not be plugged.


High time Punjab has a disaster management cell
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Mid-way the assessment of the drought situation in Punjab by a Central team, came the deluge caused by flash floods in the Ghaggar, leaving behind an indelible trail of death and destruction in some parts of the state, diverting the attention of the government. The grim situation had made the civil administration send an SOS to the Army and the Indian Air Force.

One would say this was a routine ritual followed by any civil administration, anywhere. There are two reasons for this SOS. One, there is not enough of required sensitisation of the official machinery at the cutting edge to deal with an unforeseen disaster. Two, there is no warning or institutional response system or anticipatory governance mechanism.

Where such disasters reveal limitations of civil administration, it also reflects on the lack of preparedness to handle such crises, as there is no government multi-disciplinary nodal agency to act fast in case of an emergency. Experts say that good governance demands an “institutionalised” mechanism to mitigate suffering in the wake of such eventualities, which makes existence of a disaster management cell an imperative component of development policies in governance.

Despite instructions from the Centre, not many states, including Punjab, have an operational disaster management cell or nodal agency to command, control, communicate and co-ordinate response and relief operations. Enquiries have revealed existence of a small cell under the Financial Commissioner, revenue, tucked in some obscure corner of the civil secretariat. The state, however, has no policy, while the Centre expects states to have disaster management Act to deal with disasters — natural or man-made.

At the Centre, earlier this year, disaster management was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Home Affairs. It now proposes to raise at least eight battalions of paramilitary forces to be trained and deployed in the event of any calamities in the country. Besides, a “fail-safe” national emergency communication plan has also been mooted. The idea was to have in place multi-hazard resistant emergency operational centers across the country.

That Punjab, a sensitive border state, does not have any such mechanism is shocking. This is required as much to deal with natural calamities as for defence purposes. As neighbour of a nuclear state — Pakistan — Punjab has no “attitude” of preparedness for say a nuclear or chemical or biological attack. A warning and dissemination system becomes imperative. It is now considered far better than relief codes that become operative after the tragedy, involving human lives, property and one that impinges on economic development.

Disaster management has to be in-built into the development process and institutionalised, says Ms Mrinal Mathur, an expert, who heads UNDP project on “Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction” in the state. As Project Director, Ms Mathur told TNS that Jalandhar and Amritsar had been selected for this. The project was part of a larger plan, disaster risk management, initiated by the Centre.

Working as part of the outfit of the office of the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Ms Mathur said more than half of Punjab was in the highly sensitive earthquake zone and was equally vulnerable to floods.

And Punjab was least prepared for disaster management became starkly evident, when drought symptoms first appeared. The state went into a frenzy to arrange additional electricity at high cost to operate tubewells to save paddy in the near absence or scarce or scattered monsoon rains, resorted to power regulations and farmers began re-ploughing their withering paddy. Yet, there was no way to get correct information at one single sources.

Then came the sudden U-turn, when it poured, causing death and destruction in parts of south-west districts. When TNS asked about state’s preparedness to deal with disasters, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, sought comments from bureaucrats, who too were vague and obliquely mentioned about the disaster cell in the office of Financial Commissioner, Revenue. The Chief Minister, however, assured, he would work on this aspect, given the geo-political location of Punjab.


Keep unbundling of PSEB on hold,
Surjeet tells Capt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Obviously to block the process initiated by Punjab Government to “ unbundle” the Punjab State Electricity Board, the General Secretary of the CPM and pivotal player to run the Central Government, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet Singh, has asked the Punjab Government to retain the PSEB in its existing form for at least two more years.

In fact, asking to put the unbundling on hold, Mr Surjeet, has urged the CM to approach the Union Government to seek extension of two years, on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh Government, to achieve the task of unbundling. Under the Central Electricity Act-2003, the Punjab was to unbundle the PSEB by June 10 this year.

However, there is a provision in the Act that the State Electricity Board can continue as a state utility beyond this date( June 10) by mutually agreeing upon with the Central Government.

In a letter addressed to Capt Amarinder Singh, the CPM leader, who is a convenor of the left parties in the United Progressive Alliance( UPA) and Left Coordination Panel, has tried to educate the CM regarding the bitter experience of certain other states, which had opted for the privatisation of their respective power boards.

Drawing Capt Amarinder Singh’s attention, Mr Surjeet, states in the letter:” You are aware that from a loss of Rs 1850 crore in 2000-2001, the PSEB has achieved a profit of Rs 165 crore in 2003-04. As compared to this, the states which have privatised this sector have on the one hand seen the shooting up of electricity tariff and on the other hand seen a spectacular rise in the state subsidy for this sector. Needless to say that it has burdened both the state and the common man and adversely affected the economy”.

Continuing further, Mr Surjeet, says: “ Given this bitter experience many states have decided to retain their power boards. In view of the above facts, may I request that the Government of Punjab seek a minimum two year extension to retain the PSEB in its present form”.

Besides Mr Surjeet, a most powerful voice in the Central Government, has also referred to the UPA Government’s common minimum programme ( CMP), under which review of the Central Electricity Act-2003 is to be made. In its existing form, the Electricity Act has been opposed by the left parties. And due to this reason, the review of the Act was made a part of the CMP.

Mr Surjeet says as the Act has not been reviewed by the UPA and Left Coordination Panel, the promise was made in the CMP that the June 10 deadline will be extended by the Central Government. This will to allow the state electricity boards, which have not been unbundled, to continue functioning as such.

Mr Surjeet’s letter is a big setback to the lobbies which have been moving fast to see the PSEB unbundled at the earliest.


DGP for PPS officers heading six police dists
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 7
The Punjab Government will again approach the Central Government for conversion of six cadre-based posts of SSPs in as many police districts as non-cadre posts.

Mr A. A. Siddiqui, DGP, talking to reporters here today, said it was decided to approach the Centre for declaration of cadre posts of six SSPs of Batala, Tarn Taran, Majitha, Barnala, Jagroan and Khanna police districts as non-cadre posts.

“When these police districts were formed during terrorism in the state, the post of SSP was a non-cadre one. These posts were converted into cadre posts last year. We are preparing a draft in this regard which will be submitted to the state government soon,” he said.

Highly-placed sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had discussed the issue with the Union Home Minister, who had reportedly given him an assurance that the proposal would be accepted.

“Though we had sent a similar proposal for the conversion of several cadre posts into non-cadre in the recent past, the Centre had rejected it. We are hopeful that the row among IPS and PPS officers will end soon,” he said, adding that there was division among PPS officers as some junior-rung PPS officers were holding prestigious posts.

He admitted that the seniority list of PPS officers was not being “fully” considered while effecting postings.

While IPS officers had been posted as SSPs of four police districts except Majitha and Tarn Taran, seven PPS officers were heading the police in Jalandhar, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Muktsar, Moga, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib.

The Punjab police had set up an NRI helpline in Canada and England to deal with problems of immigrants, he said.


Farmers beat peacock to death
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Indiscriminate killing of the national bird continues unabated in Punjab, with yet another case surfacing in Doraha today.

In a bizarre incident that occurred in Jaragari village in Doraha Forest Rang, three farmers beat a peacock to death, using batons for the ruthless attack. The gravity of the crime increases in view of the fact that a group of peacocks was dancing in the rain on the evening of August 4 when they were targeted by the said villagers.

While nine birds managed to escape after sensing the danger, one instantly dropped dead after failing to survive fatal blows of the sticks by the farmers. Although the accused took the plea that the birds were damaging their farms, the police and the forest authorities registered cases against them under the relevant Acts of the law. A post-mortem examination of the bird also confirmed that it died due to severe injuries on its frail frame.

It may be recalled that three peacocks were killed in Samrala just about a month ago. In the Samrala incident, the accused were nabbed just before they were about to cook peacocks' meat.

Meanwhile, giving information about the Doraha case to The Tribune today, Mr Surain Singh, Forest Range Officer, Doraha, said the incident would have gone unreported had it not been for the vigilant villagers. He said, "The villagers pounced on the poachers right after they killed one bird. That is how the rest of them could be saved. They then took the accused Gurdial Singh and his son Baldev Singh to the police station where cases were registered against them. We were informed by the police."

A case under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, has been registered against three accused out of which one is absconding. After being booked for the non-bailable offence of killing the peacock, the accused were also produced in the Ludhiana district court. They will now be in judicial custody till August 19.

However, it remains to be seen whether the accused are punished for their ghastly act of killing the national bird. Ludhiana-based Dr Sandeep Jain, former member, Animal Welfare Board of India, is already pursuing the case along with the forest authorities. He is the one who got two accomplices of the famed Jadugar Shankar arrested for atrocities on pythons, which were being exhibited on stage for fun when Jadugar Shankar was touring Ludhiana in September last year.

The case is now in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Race for education board chief’s post hots up
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 7
The race is on for the post of the Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board here. The term of the current Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, ends on August 8 but with a weekend in between, yesterday was effectively his last working day in the Board.

While the Secretary Education, Punjab, Mrs Tejinder Kaur, refused to comment on who is likely to replace Dr Kehar Singh, sources state that there are three main contenders for the post, including Dr Kehar Singh himself who was expecting an extension in his term.

“I would not be going to the office on Monday since yesterday was my last working day. The Board had not received any orders specifying who the next Chairman would be. If no orders are received by Monday, the Vice-Chairman would take charge of the Board’s functioning,” said Dr Kehar Singh.

It might be recalled that Dr Kehar Singh was given a six-month extension in February this year following his superannuation. The six-month extension period ends on August 8. The sources added that the file containing the recommendations of the Education Secretary had gone to the Chief Minister for consideration and final decision was pending at his level. Sources in the Chief Minister office pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh was seriously considering granting a year extension to Dr Kehar Singh.

The sources said that Mrs Hardayal Kaur, vice-chairperson of the Board, too was contending for the post of the Chairperson. Her case, according to sources, was being supported by a senior CPM leader at the Centre. The sources added that the other contender for the post was Mr Waryam Singh Sandhu, a renowned Punjabi short story writer who had the support of a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala.


Kin to receive PoWs at Wagah
Tribune News Service

Kot Bhai (Muktsar), August 7
The widowed mother and five-year-old daughter, along with the other kin of Lance Naik Jagsir Singh will leave the village tomorrow to receive him at the Wagah checkpost on August 9 after the Army authorities confirmed his return from Pakistan.

Mohommad Arif, a sapper, who along with Jagsir Singh, was taken into custody by Pakistan Rangers in 1999 during the Kargil conflict, is also lodged in the same jail and will enter India through the Wagah border on the same day. Both will be received by Army personnel, civil officials, their family members and friends on the morning of August 9.

They would then be taken to hospital for a medical check-up. They might be kept for about two days by the Army authorities for “debriefing”. Their kin would be kept in the cantonment at Amritsar.

“Debriefing is necessary and is executed every time an Army personnel returns to his own country after release from the custody of a hostile country”, pointed out a senior Army official on the condition of anonymity.

He said both jawans had remained in the custody of the Pakistani forces for about five years and their debriefing could take considerable time.

Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, said the district authorities had not received any official communication in connection but he had asked the SDM and other officials to give the village a facelift so that a heroic welcome could be extended to him.


Man beaten up, moves PSHRC, high court
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Mr Gurpreet Singh, a resident of Bhucho Kalan village, who along with his mother were allegedly beaten up mercilessly by five persons on July 11, 2004, has approached the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the state police authorities for directing the police official concerned to arrest the accused.

In the representations Mr Gurpreet Singh alleged that the accused had been roaming freely and he and his family members were living under threat despite the fact that a case under Sections 326, 452,323, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered against them on July 13, 2004.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, who had suffered serious injuries and remained hospitalised for days together, alleged that he and his mother was beaten up mercilessly by Pritpal Singh alias Poppy, Ranjit Singh (both residents of Phulha), Pardeep Singh, a resident of Bhucho Kalan, and two other unidentified persons. He added that accused used sharp-edged weapons while beating him and his mother in his house.

He further alleged that though the case had been registered against the accused, none of them had been arrested so far by the police.

The SHO, cantonment Police Station, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


One feared dead, 50 hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 7
One person was feared killed and 50 others were injured when a truck carrying devotees from Kiratpur Sahib hit two trees in a ditch after colliding with another truck coming from Ludhiana, near Chak Sarwan Nath village, on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway tonight.

The persons on board the ill-fated vehicle were residents of Islam Gunj here. The accident took place when the drivers of both trucks lost control of their vehicles and the vehicles sideswiped. The truck carrying devotees hit a tree, uprooted it and came to a halt after ramming into another one in a ditch.

Residents of Chak Sarwant Nath village were the first to reach the accident site and rescue the injured. Many persons, including the driver, were trapped in the mangled truck.

The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital and CMC hospital. The condition of at least 15 persons, including some women and children, was stated to be serious.


CPM, KMU support Kamalpur Dalits
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Members of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (KMU) and the CPM today marched from the office of the CPM to the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) here, demanding arrest of remaining accused in the firing incident at Kamalpur village on August 3, in which two Dalits were shot dead, and compensation for the families of deceased Dalits and injured persons. The march was led by Mr Bhup Chand Channo, state president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.

The protesters also staged a dharna in front of the office of the SSP and raised slogans against the alleged attack on the Dalits by landlords. A deputation of the KMU and the CPM leaders also met the SSP and demanded security for the Dalits in the Kamalpur village.

Mr Dev Raj Verma, Secretary, CITU, Punjab; Mr Bant Singh Namol, District Secretary of the CPM; Mr Ram Singh Jawandha, president of district unit of KMU; Mr Kalicharan Kaushik, joint secretary of district unit of the KMU; and Mr Gurdev Singh Dardi, district secretary of the Kisan Sabha also participated in the march.

A compensation of Rs 5 lakh for two deceased each and Rs 50,000 for each injured was also demanded.


Delegation to submit memo to PM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Vishva Bhai Mardana Yaadgari Kirtan Darbar Society president, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, yesterday said that a memorandum on 70-odd detained Punjabi youths in Pakistan jails would be submitted to the Prime Minister in New Delhi on August 9.

The delegation to New Delhi will include family members of the detained youth who will wear black badges. The delegation will also present a memorandum to the External Affairs Minister and Ms Sonia Gandhi.

The signed statement by Mr Bhullar said the Centre should come forward to ensure the release of these detainees, who were being treated worse than prisoners and hostages in Iraq. Mr Bhullar put the blame for this human trafficking and later their languishing in jails abroad on the unscrupulous travel agents who robbed them of heavy sums of money, which the poor youth arranged by mortgaging their land.


IMA welcomes SC ruling on doctors
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
The state wing of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has welcomed the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Dr Suresh Gupta, a plastic surgeon of Delhi, stating that doctors will not be blamed for patients’ death.

The state president of the IMA Dr O.P.S. Kande, said yesterday that the judgment would improve the quality of services as doctors would exercise their expertise a with free mind and would take up serious and emergency cases without fear of prosecution under Section 304 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, the association opposed the suggestion of a state medical college to abolish posts of medical officer in medical colleges and attached hospitals.

The chairman of the in-service doctors wing, IMA, Dr D.S. Bhullar, said there was no financial burden on the state medical education department of the sanctioned posts of PCMS doctors as the budget for the salaries of the medical officers posted in the state was separate from the budget of the medical colleges.

He added that duties and functions of these medical officers were different from those of medical teachers in some departments.

He said during vacation half of the faculty members were available in the hospitals and the medical officers not entitled to vacation except gazetted holidays, were given extra duties for better patient care.

The association appealed to the Deputy Chief Minister to look into the matter.


Punjab Medicos elated over SC verdict
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association today hailed the decision of the Supreme Court that a doctor cannot be held liable for criminal negligence due to the death of a under-treatment patient owing to an error of judgement or an accident.

Chairman (Public Relations) of IMA’s Punjab unit, Dr Surinder Singla said the IMA wanted that the Union Government should enact a law to treat medical negligence as a ‘civil liability’.

Dr Singla said the judgement of the Supreme Court would help the medical fraternity in discharging their duties without fear.

The judgement would also help in improving the doctor-patient relationship, besides cutting down the cost of the treatment as doctors would not adhere to ‘defensive medical practice’ by prescribing costly medical tests or denying timely treatment to the seriously ill patients for the fear of a criminal case, he added.


Bhai Jasbir Singh operated upon
Tribune News Service

Bhai Jasbir Singh KhalsaChandigarh, August 7
Chairman of Shri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital Bhai Jasbir Singh Khalsa Khanne Wale was operated upon at Shri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Hospital at Sohana in Mohali.

According to Dr N.S. Aneja, who has been attending on him, Bhai Jasbir Singh’s condition was stable. As he has been advised complete rest for the next few days, all his engagements have been postponed.


Three injured in accident
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 7
Three persons were injured, two of them seriously, in an accident near Sahora village today.

The injured, Mr J.D. Sharma, Mr Yudhvir Sharma and Mr D.K. Sharma, were brought to the local Civil Hospital. As the condition of Mr Yudvir Sharma and Mr D.K. Sharma was stated to be serious, they were referred to the GMCH, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

According to information available, the three injured persons belonged to Balachaur and had come to meet a relative in Chandigarh. They were going back to Balachaur this morning when Mr J.D. Sharma, who was driving the car, reportedly dozed off for some seconds. As such he lost control on the vehicle which banged into a tree.


6 hurt as seed sellers, farmers clash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), August 7
Six persons were injured in a clash between seed sellers and farmers at Gur Mandi here today.

The farmers were staging a dharna outside the shop of Zimidara Seed Farm under the aegis of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) at Gur Mandi in protest against the alleged selling of inferior-quality seeds. Eyewitness said the clash started when some comments were passed against each other by the farmers and seed sellers. Iron rods were used during the clash.


$ 1,000 donated to Pingalwara
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Ms Gurpreet Kaur, wife of Mr Tirath Singh, from Houston, Texas (USA), donated $ 1,000 to the authorities of the local Pingalwara branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, here last night. She also took a round of wards of Pingalwara inmates, dispensary and kitchen, according to Mr Tarlochan Singh Cheema, Chief Administrator of the local Pingalwara said today.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, in charge of the Pingalwara, said she also expressed satisfaction over the arrangements in the Pingalwara.


282 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
As many as 282 cases were settled at the quarterly Lok Adalat presided over by district and session Judge SMS Mahil here today.

A total of 477 cases were taken up and 282 cases settled. An amount of Rs 81.98 lakh was awarded to complainants.

Till date, 377 Lok Adalats have been organised in Patiala and 40,123 cases taken up.

All type of cases are taken up at the Lok Adalats. A dispute can also be taken to the Lok Adalat at the pre-litigation stage. A person seeking disposal of his case through the Lok Adalat can move an application with the District and Sessions Judge of his district and the additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) concerned.

Persons may also contact Mr Rakesh Soni, Assistant District Attorney (Legal Services), at District Courts, Patiala.


Nursing institute chief granted bail
Our Correspondent

Pathankot August 7
Bail application of Dr Govardhan Dass Sharma, Director, R.N. Tagore Nursing Institute, was accepted by Mr J.P. Mehmi, Additional Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, yesterday.

The city police, under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 354, 506 of the IPC, arrested Dr Sharma.

The judge ordered the police to release the accused on bail on furnishing the bonds of Rs 20,000.


Sarpanch, 4 others in police custody till August 9

Abohar, August 7
Five persons, including a Sarpanch from Jalalabad West subdivision were remanded in police custody till August 9 by a course here. The police arrested them yesterday under the NDPS Act.

Those arrested include Sherbaz Singh Chak Bairoke, Inderjit Singh and Pirthipal Singh Kalewali, Lachhman Dass and Bagicha Singh of Pucci Tibbi villages. A police party reportedly intercepted their jeep and Maruti car near Kular village as they entered the sub division from Rajasthan. Eight bags containing 240 kg of poppy husk seized from the vehicles which were also impounded. Sherbaz Singh was a senior Congress worker also, sources said


Committee to lay guidelines for filling stations
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 7
With a view to securing uniform guidelines for the location of new petrol pumps and filling stations in the state, the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, has constituted a high-level multi-disciplinary committee headed by the Chief Town Planner to propose a comprehensive policy in this regard.

Giving this information here yesterday, an official spokesman said that the following the liberalisation of the retail marketing of petroleum products, a large number of applications were being received by the Department of Town and Country Planning for approval of new sites and issue of no objection certificates (NOCs). However, in presence of multiple guidelines issued by various Central agencies, there was no clarity, either in the minds of the prospective entrepreneurs or the officials of the department. The objective of the uniform policy would be to have one over-arching framework that would also be published for general information.

Presently, the guidelines of the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCDC) of the Government of India are being followed in the urban areas, while those issued by the Indian Road Congress (IRC) have generally been adopted for the rural areas. On the other hand, for the petrol pumps on the National Highways the check list prepared by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway is being adhered to. For towns like Mohali, which have been fully planned and developed by PUDA, and schemes in other towns approved by PUDA or the improvement trusts, the master plan is being strictly followed.

The spokesperson said that a major difficulty arose since guidelines issued both by the TCPO and the IRC prohibit coming up all these filling stations within a fixed distance of “road junctions”. However, unlike in case of National Highways, these two sets of guide lines do not define “Road Junctions”.

The committee has been allowed a period of two weeks to come out with these guidelines, which would greatly facilitate the opening of new petrol pumps in the state.


Woman, child murdered by rickshaw-puller
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Raj Rani, who was living in a trans-railway colony here, and her two-year-old daughter, were killed allegedly by a rickshaw-puller, identified as Jagga Singh, who had an illicit relation with the deceased.

The police came to know about the murder of Raj Rani and her daughter late last evening. The bodies were in a bad shape when taken to the civil hospital. The police was trying to find out time of the murder.

Police sources said Raj Rani was married to Bhola Singh, a resident of Kalianwali town of Haryana. She developed an illicit relation with Boota Singh and gave birth to a baby girl.

Then she developed the relation with Jagga Singh and started living with him. Raj Rani, however, continued to meet Boota Singh and Jagga Singh was opposing it.

When Jagga could not tolerate their relations, he killed Raj Rani and her daughter.

The police sources said a case had been registered with the city police station under Section 302 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Gurdev Singh, brother-in-law of Raj Rani.


10 wounded in ‘deorhi’ row
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
As many as 10 persons were reportedly injured and about 40 persons were rounded up in a dispute over the construction of an upper portion of a “deorhi” (verandah) of Sadhu Ram Sarai in the Putlighar area here today. The accused also allegedly fired five or seven gunshots in air which was followed by stoning and throwing of glass bottles which continued for half an hour.

According to information, Balwant Singh Woodlander, owner of a wood factory in the sarai, has a portion on the roof of the deorhi. Balwant Singh was constructing new structure there. However, residents of the area raised objections over this, claiming that it was a government property.

The accused allegedly brought more than 50 armed persons with him and tried to forcibly construct the portion. However enraged over this, a number of persons attacked them with stones.

The police immediately rushed to the spot and controlled the situation. A large number of policemen have been deployed in the area. 


Killing of two Dalits: 6 more arrested
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
The police here today arrested six more persons—Mandeep Singh, Sandeep Singh, Jatinder Singh and Yadwinder Singh, all from Kamalpur village, Bikramjit Singh from Samana, and Gurbhej Singh from Sular Gharat village,— for firing on Dalit locality by a group of landlords at Kamalpur village, near Dirba, on August 3. Two Dalits were killed and 15 were injured in the firing.

Gurbaj Singh, a resident of Samana, allegedly involved in this attack on Dalits’ basti, was arrested yesterday, while three persons — Bhupinder Singh, Harjit Singh and Kanwaljit Singh — were arrested on the day of firing incident. The police has arrested 10 suspects, so far. The police also recovered two rifles and a car, allegedly used in the crime.

Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon SSP, Sangrur, said here today one more car, also used in the crime, was yet to be recovered.

The SSP added investigation into this case was almost complete.


Two children crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Two children aged seven and two and -a-half years were crushed to death while their father, Krishan Lal, a leading businessman of the city, suffered multiple injuries when an overloaded tractor-trailer hit their scooter near SSD Girls College here late this evening.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that overloaded tractor-trailer hit their scooter when they were going to the site where they were constructing a new house.

The driver of the tractor-trailer fled away from the scene, leaving the vehicle behind.

Meanwhile, several residents and businessman said they would hold a meeting tomorrow to take a decision to launch an agitation against the mismanagement of vehicular traffic by the traffic police.


6 of family hurt

Phagwara, August 7
Six persons of a family including panch Harbhajan Das were hurt and hospitalised here on Friday after they were attacked with sharp-edged weapons by 24 persons in Basant Nagar residence here. Those injured, are Mrs Laxami Devi, Kulwinder, Pardeep, Naresh and Dev Raj. — OC


Management quota seats: DMC extends date
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7
Punjab Medical Education and Research Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal yesterday told a deputation of PMET students and parents that the last date for applying for management quota seats had been extended to August 16 by Dayanand Medical College (DMC).

The parents of affected students, who had formed a committee on the issue, said they met Mrs Bhattal today and she was convinced that the Dayanand Medical College authorities should have waited for the result of the PMET while inviting applications for the management quota seats.

The college authorities, while advertising for the management quota seats, had fixed the last date for applying as July 31. This despite the fact that the result of the PMET was to be announced later. This came in for criticism by parents who said they could not apply for the management quota seats until they knew the result of the PMET.

The students and parents, meanwhile, thanked Mrs Bhattal, the Baba Farid University Registrar, Dr A.S. Sekhon, the Director, Research and Medical Education, Dr Vijay Sharma, and Secretary Satish Chandra for ensuring quick justice to the affected students.


Atwal honours bright students
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 7
The Bharat Vikas Parishad here, held a function to felicitate meritorious schoolstudents here last night. Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, was the Chief Guest. He presented students with mementoes and certificates. Mr Chander Shekhar Gupta, Parishad Secretary, today disclosed that 38 students were honoured. They were from St. Joseph’s Convent School and Sri Mahanvir Jain Model Senior Secondary School. These students had won laurels in middle and matric examinations.

Mr Atwal said that brilliant students were future of our country. Mr Atwal gave Rs 1 lakh his fund to parishad.


Awareness rally by school kids
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
As part of Traffic Awareness Week, students of various schools of the city organised a rally here recently. Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai flagged off the rally from Sheranwala Gate.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Rai said there was a need to spread awareness regarding traffic rules and regulations. A number of accidents could be avoided if people obeyed traffic rules.

The Traffic staff organised a free medical check up camp at the Truck Union office. Dr Bhupinder Singh Gill examined patients and distributed free medicines among them.

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