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Multi-crore phone call racket unearthed
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, August 8
The police here has unearthed a multi-crore international call racket in old part of the city by misuse of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) for automatic switching of international calls received through Internet leased lines and confiscated equipment of an illegal telephone exchange here.

The police with VSNL officials raided a shop in Gaushala market near Devi Talab Mandir here, where, an illegal telephone exchange was functioning. Equipment worth Rs one lakh — a computer, three telephone sets and a minitelephone exchange was confiscated while the VSNL authorities were busy decoding record of telephone lines used in the racket to ascertain identity of the accused.

While eight telephone connections of Reliance Telecom and an Internet leased line of HFCL was found operational in the shop the police has approached these service providers to get names of the persons, whom the connections had been issued. Preliminary investigation, revealed that these connections were obtained on assumed identities by the accused. We have detained Naresh Kumar of the Tanda road who is owner of the shop, Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu, SP, said.

Mr Sandhu revealed that eight telephone connections were found to be working on Wireless in Local Loup (WLL) technology. Some incriminating were also documents seized from the premises. “Prima facie that international calls from different countries particularly the USA, Canada and the European Union are being received through this illegal channel as telephone connections are being misused by auto-switching of the international calls bypassing authorized gateway of the International Long Distance Operator (ILDO),” He added.

Sources said that the illegal operators were earning more than Rs 10 lakh per month by via such deal to foreign customers.

A senior VSNL official, revealed that cash cards of different denominations bearing a particular pin code number were being sold in western countries by some groups of such telecom operators by luring clients of less tariff. When a customer dials a particular telephone number of India using such cash cards, the same call automatically got connected here in India through these ISDN lines. “The foreign telecom operators pay a small share of the profit earned from the foreign customers with their Indian facilitators, who used to run such illegal exchanges. The money is being transferred to India either through hawala channels or being transferred as a payment for some bill,” He added.

Mr Sandhu added that the shop owner was detained and being questioned. A Naresh Kumar, shop owner, maintained that he was not aware of the racket as the system belonged to Jatinder Singh.

“We hope that this telephone exchange was part of a big racket as we are in the process of developing more information about such exchanges operational in different parts of the district”, Mr Sandhu said.

VSNL officials said that 150 illegal telephone exchanges using V-SAT had been unearthed in different parts of the country in the recent past. A case under Section 379, 420, 120-B of the IPC and Sections 4, 20, 21, 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act has been registered.


 

Accident victim dies, doctors booked
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
Even as Maninder Kumar, an accident victim, died for want of oxygen while being shifted to Ludhiana from the local Civil Hospital, a criminal case was registered against Dr K.S. Brar, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), and a lady doctor of the Civil Hospital for their alleged negligence while treating the patient.

Before the case was registered, the kin of deceased Maninder Kumar, who met with an accident near the lakes in the town yesterday after his scooter was hit by a vehicle, hold a rally on the premises of the Civil Hospital to protest against the negligence of the doctors while treating the patient. Later, they jammed vehicular traffic on the Bathinda-Dabwali national highway for hours together to press the authorities concerned to register a criminal case against the negligent doctors.

The protesters alleged that the doctor, who was on emergency duty when they brought the accident victim to the Civil Hospital, took money from them. They added that even the gold ring of one of the kin of the accident victim was also taken by the doctor. They said that a private doctor was also called for the treatment of the patients and they had to pay Rs 5,000 to that doctor also.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Maninder Kumar was admitted to the hospital yesterday afternoon in serious condition. In the hospital, he was put to treatment immediately and even a ventilator was arranged from the doctor to put him on artificial respiration. When the condition of the victim deteriorated, he was referred to a Ludhiana-based hospital.

While Maninder Kumar was being shifted to Ludhiana, he died on the way when the oxygen cylinders in the ambulance, which were supplying him oxygen for artificial respiration, ran out of oxygen. The attendants brought the body back to the Civil Hospital and started demanding a criminal case against the negligent doctors who did not check the cylinders before shifting the patient to the Ludhiana hospital.

The kin of the deceased, a resident of Paras Ram Nagar of this town, and other persons who were known to him assembled in the Civil Hospital and started a demonstration against the hospital authorities. They raised slogans against the district officials also when they reached the spot. They said that they would not cremate the body till a case was registered against the guilty doctors.

Sources said that the SDM, Mr S.K. Singla, who also reached the spot when the three cylinders fitted in the ambulance were found empty on weighing.

After finding two doctors guilty of negligence, a case under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered against them. No arrest has been made so far in this connection.


 

Doctors to observe strike today
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
Dr Amrit Sethi, president, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bathinda unit, today said that all private doctors, members of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association, wholesale and retail chemists would observe a strike tomorrow to lodge their protest against the registration of a criminal case against two doctors of the local Civil Hospital by the district civil authorities under public pressure.

Dr Sethi, while talking to media persons, pointed out that though the doctors who attended on the accident victim, Maninder Kumar, gave him the best medical care and took all the pains to save his life, who died later, the district civil authorities got a case registered against them by succumbing to pressure of kin of the deceased

He said that the district authorities had done so despite the fact that the Supreme Court had categorically said in its judgement that doctors should not be held responsible for the death of patient. He added that it was an open harassment of the medical professional, which should be resisted and condemned by all the concerned.


 

Ropar police busts gang of robbers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 8
In a major breakthrough, the Ropar police has busted a gang of robbers responsible for eight murders and robbing Rs 1.26 crore from their victims in the past four years in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

The gang, according to the police, is involved in 46 robbery incidents since 2001, including 10 that took place this year. These include the murder of a commission agent in April in Nawanshahr whom they robbed of Rs 3.5 lakh, followed by the killing of a Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) cashier in Morinda in May from whom they looted Rs 7.7 lakh.

Another PSEB cashier at Goraya was murdered by the gang in June after looting Rs 2.5 lakh from him and in July, a post office employee was murdered at Nalagarh from whom the gang extracted Rs 5.9 lakh.

The gang's kingpin, Satnam Singh, alias Satta, a resident of Ludhiana is an engineer and started a pharmaceutical company with his share of the loot while others, including a former sarpanch, Balwinder Singh invested the money in land and properties across Punjab. Satnam Singh was also a member of the Khalistan Liberation Organisation, a terrorist outfit while Balwinder Singh had been arrested once under TADA.

The police has arrested five members of this gang, including Satnam Singh, his cousin, Malkit Singh, Manmeet Singh, both residents of Kaleke, Balwinder Singh, resident of Dera Baba Nanak and Sukhvinder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana. Satnam Singh's brother, Harbhajan Singh is on the run. Cash worth Rs 6.79 lakh, two scooters and two cars along with five pistols and revolvers with live cartridges have been recovered from them.

Giving details of the catch, the SSP Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh told mediapersons at a press conference held here today that Malkit Singh and Manmeet Singh, alias Goldy, used by Satnam Singh as strikers, were nabbed by Inspector Tejinder Singh in charge, CIA Ropar and Inspector Jagdish Singh, SHO Ropar Sadar police station from near the Piyaar Vichoda Gurdwara, Ropar, yesterday. Satnam Singh and Sukhvinder Singh had been arrested by the police on July 30.

The SSP said that the gang had committed their first act of crime in 2001 by looting Rs. 7.1 lakh from a cashier in Haibowal, Ludhiana. ‘‘The gang at that time included another member Harpreet Singh alias Billa who later left them. This gang robbed a commission agent at Batala of Rs 10 lakh in May, 2001, followed by another robbery at a petrol pump in Ahmedgarh,’’he said.

Later, the gang looted Rs.55000 from a milk plant employee at Samrala, killed and looted a school peon at Ahmedgarh, looted Rs 1.25 lakh from a petrol pump in Nawanshahr killing the accountant. The gang struck at another school in Tarn Taran and the PSEB office at Samrala. A Batala commission agent was killed robbing him of 4.5 lakh in October, 2001.

In 2002, the gang struck at Amritsar in April killing a commission agent and his relative. The LIC office was looted at Tarn Taran from where the gang decamped with Rs 10 lakh. In November, 2003, two commission agents were killed at Malerkotla by the gang.

According to the SSP, the strikers would commit the actual crime that would be meticulously planned by Satnam Singh, Balwinder Singh and Harbhajan Singh. The strikers would use a scooter with a fake number first, and after committing the crime, get into a car. Another person would then remove the fake number plate from the scooter number and take it away. The strikers would change their appearance while in the car and hide the weapons and the loot money in a secret dash board in the car.


 

Cash crisis forced Satta to enter world of crime
Tribune News Service


Out of the total looted money, the gang would keep Rs 5,000 aside for organising an akhand path and Rs 20,000 for committing the next crime. The rest of the money would be equally divided among the six members. In three years, members of the gang bought houses, shops and landed property.

Mohali, August 8
In what could be the Ropar police’s biggest catch ever, a gang, allegedly responsible for over 45 robberies and eight murders that took place in the past three years across Punjab, was busted. The gang comprising six educated young men had been operating since 2001.

In these three years the gang robbed a total of Rs 1.26 crore from their victims, including bank and school peons, commission agents, Punjab State Electricity Board clerks, LIC office staff, cashiers etc. Stating that every crime the gang committed was meticulously planned and executed, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, SSP, Ropar, today pointed out that the mastermind behind the gang, Satnam Singh Satta, was an engineer-turned medical representative.

The Ropar police displays cash and weapons seized from the gang at the phase VIII police station in Mohali
The Ropar police displays cash and weapons seized from the gang at the phase VIII police station in Mohali on Sunday.

But why did Satta enter the world of crime? ‘‘I was in a big financial crisis and needed money,’’ said Satnam Singh. He runs a pharmaceutical unit — Darwin Drugs India Limited in Ludhiana.

‘‘Satta is a very clever man. He worked as a medical representative after his engineering. He started a pharmaceutical company in Majra village in Ludhiana that failed. Then he, along with his brother Gurbachan Singh, started small-time nefarious activities. The two were joined by Sukhvinder Singh, a Ludhiana resident. Sukhvinder had lost all his money in the hosiery business, started an STD and came in touch with the two brothers.’’said the SSP at a press conference at the Phase VIII police station.

Satta belonged to a terrorist outfit and owned a 7.65-mm revolver since terrorism days. ‘‘Satnam Singh used a vacant government house in the PAU, Ludhiana, as gang’s hideout,’’ added the SSP.

Giving details of the modus operandi of the gang, the SSP said Satnam, along with Sukhvinder, would plan a robbery and move around in the place for a few days before the crime. ‘‘They would pin point a place at the spot of crime. The person who would be carrying large amounts of money would be identified. The strikers of the gang would use a scooter with a fake number plate and rob the victim at gunpoint and if needed kill him. They would escape on a scooter to a nearby place where a car would be ready for them,’’said Mr S.P. Singh.

The strikers would commit the crime with their heads uncovered but the moment they enter the car, they would change their shirts and put on turbans. They would hide the weapons and the cash in a secret compartment above the dashboard in the car. ‘‘This compartment would be screwed back on immediately. Two cars were being used by the gang and both had been bought by Satnam Singh in Ludhiana,’’said Mr Tejinder Singh, in charge, CIA, Ropar.

Another member of the gang would remove the fake number plate from the scooter and come back on it at the crime site, said Mr Tejinder Singh.

Mr S.S. Grewal, SP (D), Ropar, said while Satnam Singh, Gurbachan Singh and Sukhvinder Singh planned the robberies, the strikers, Manmeet and Malkit Singh, would do the killing. ‘‘I killed three persons. I do not mind if I am hanged for this,’’ said Malkit Singh, 25-year-old cousin of Satnam Singh, before bursting into tears.

The police had proudly displayed their catch at the phase VIII police station. Wads of cash worth Rs 6.79, three scooters, two cars and three pistols and a revolver with live cartridges seized from the gang members were displayed.

‘‘The pistol owned by Satnam Singh illegally was used in every crime the gang committed in Punjab. Another .30-bore pistol, with five live cartridges, was recovered from Balwinder Singh. Another .30-bore pistol, with two live cartridges, was in the possession of Manmeet Singh, the striker. This had been acquired by him allegedly from former terrorist Balwinder Singh Kala. A .32-bore revolver, with five live cartridges, was recovered from Malkit Singh,’’ listed Mr Tejinder Singh.

‘‘The gang operated very smartly as a result it was difficult to nab them. But after the crime they committed at Kiratpur Sahib on July 26, the Ropar police got down to nabbing the gang. We managed to arrest Satnam and Sukhvinder on July 30 after which it was just a matter of time before the others got caught.’’ said the SSP.


 

Trucker’s kin await news from Kuwait
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 8
While Paramjit Singh Karda (41), a resident of Mazari village, near Banga, returned home from Kuwait yesterday, the whereabouts of his cousin, Gurmit Singh, alias Babbi, who had also gone to the country with him to work as a driver, about four months ago, are yet to be known. His wife, Davinder Kaur, with tears rolling down her cheeks, told this correspondent that she had received just one letter from her husband, which he sent after reaching Kuwait. Since then, she has had no communication from her husband.

Her four children – Savita (12), Gurpreet (11), Geeta (5), and Harpreet (6 months), — have also been waiting for their father. Dharam Ram, father of Gurmit, said the anxiety of the family had increased as his nephew, Paramjit told them that he last saw Gurmit in Kuwait while they came across driving their vehicles. He said his son and nephew were working as drivers with KGL company, which had allegedly sent his son forcibly to Iraq. He urged the Centre to take steps to get the whereabouts of his son known and to ensure his safe return to India.

Paramjit Singh returned home, after spending more than one month in Al Sabah Hospital in Kuwait, where he was admitted on June 19 with temperature. According to the report of Dr.Ahmad Moustafa and Dr V.T. Thomas of the Al Sabah Hospital, he was given treatment for intra-cerebral haemorrhage, cerebral infarction and hypertension.

Paramjit said though they were assured of job visa, they were taken to Kuwait on tourist visa. They were not provided with proper amenities in Kuwait. He said the condition of Indians in Kuwait was deplorable and they were being forced to work in Iraq.

They were “forced” to sign on some blank papers before being sent to work in Iraq, alleged Paramjit Singh adding that while he did not sign the papers, Gurmit did. Later, he fell ill and Gurmit was probably sent to Iraq, he added.


 

PoW returns from Pakistan today
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kot Bhai (Gidderbaha), August 8
It will be an emotional moment for Lance Naik Jagsir Singh and his over four-year-old daughter Kuldeep Kaur at Wagah border in Amritsar on Monday when they will see each other for the first time.

Born two months after his captivity in Pakistan, Kuldeep is anxious to see her father. Pointing at the laminated photograph of her father, she told The Tribune team a couple of weeks ago in a toddler language that she prayed God daily for the early return of her father.

Finally, her prayer has been accepted by the Almighty, says Dr Kulwant Singh, maternal uncle of Jagsir Singh. It would be an emotional moment for all of them when they meet after a gap of almost five years. However, that moment will naturally be special for Kuldeep and Jagsir, as they have not seen each other before.

However, some of her photographs were sent to him through post after the family received his letter from a Rawalpindi prison in Pakistan in June.

Jagsir has not been told about the death of his father, Gurdev Singh, so far, Dr Kulwant Singh says. Probably Jagsir is also not aware that he had been mistakenly declared deserter by the Indian Army after his disappearance on September 17, 1999, during the Operation Vijay, popularly known as the Kargil war, he adds.

Dr Kulwant Singh, Jagsir’s mother Chhoto Kaur, his daughter Kuldeep, his another maternal uncle Kala Singh and retired Captain from Bathinda N.K. Kaushal, will leave for Wagah border in the wee hours on Monday.

Jagsir’s maternal uncle thanked the media for highlighting the issue that facilitated his early release. He said Subedar Gurmel Singh of 115 Unit of Engineer Regiment had come to his village and officially told about Jagsir’s release.

His family will be able to meet him just for a few minutes as he will be immediately taken for debriefing by the Army.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere at Kot Bhai village is festive over Jagsir’s release. However, it is expected that it will take a couple of days for Jagsir to visit the village.


 

Indian prisoners in Pak jails to go on fast
Families threaten protest in front of PM’s office
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 8
Indian prisoners languishing in Pakistan jails have threatened to go on fast on August 20 for an indefinite period against the delaying tactics adopted by respective governments despite agreements on their early release announced a month back.

Meanwhile, families of victims who landed in Pakistan jails have threatened to go on a corresponding fast the same day at the Prime Minister’s office to appeal for their sons’ release.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhuller president, International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, said Nidhan Singh of Gurdaspur received a call from a Muslim boy in Lahore jail who told him that Indian boys would go on fast. Another call by Jagjit Singh, imprisoned in the same jail (Lahore) for the past three years, had contacted his parents in Kapurthala revealing that as many as 40 Indian boys there have been admitted to jail hospital. Most of them have been taken seriously ill due to long detention spells, inhuman conditions besides low mental semblance.

Mr Bhuller appealed to Mr Gian Singh, lone Sikh minority member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, to meet Indian prisoners and seek support from the Pakistan Government for improving their conditions and expedite their release and make their freedom to coincide with Independence Day.

Earlier too, Indian detainees had been on fast since May 17 in Lahore jail. Duped by travel agents they had landed in turkey from Greece and were pushed into Pakistan via the Taptan border in Iran. They had resorted to fast following ill-treatment and their illegal detention despite having completed jail terms and had been demanding their immediate release. The families of detained youths revealing heart-rending tales of inhuman conditions they ended their fast after assurances from that the then Prime Minister, Mr Zafarullah Khan Jamali to consider their cases in a humanitarian light. Meanwhile, reports emanating FROM Pakistan prisons also revealed that lengthy verifications were leading to inordinate delay in their release. 


 

Pervez, Manmohan to witness candlelight vigil
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf have been invited for the candlelight vigil programme, to be held on the eve of Independence Day at the Wagah joint checkpost, about 25 km from here.

The decision was taken at a meeting organised by Folklore Research Academy, Hind-Pak Dosti Manch and Punjabi Cultural Society “Sharmchurasi” at Wagah today.

Mr Ramesh Yadav, president of Folklore Research Academy, in a statement said that national-level leaders, including Mr Sitaram Yachury, senior leader of the CPM, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister, and Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, were also invited to participate on the occasion.

Mr Yadav said for the first time in the history of candlelight vigil, candles would be lighted on both sides of the border to strengthen the on-going peace process between the two countries.

Famous sufi and folk singers Hans Raj Hans and Pammi Bai, Balkar Sidhu, Angrej Ali and Preet Harpal are likely to participate on the occasion.


 

Kala summoned to Akal Takht as Ranjit dares Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 8
While Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, has been summoned Mr Jasbir Singh Kala, a former member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), for opposing the directive issued by the Sikh clergy, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, has said that the Jathedar of Akal Takht does not have the nerve to summon him.

Earlier, the role of Bhai Ranjit Singh was reportedly criticised during a meeting held here today between Jathedar Vedanti and Mr Avtar Singh Hit, former DSGMC chief. Both Mr Hit and Jathedar Vedanti alleged that Bhai Ranjit Singh had been impeding the implementation of the directive of the Sikh clergy regarding compensation of Rs 1.1 crore to Mr Hit in lieu of handing over Khalsa School (New Delhi) to the DSGMC.

In a communication to Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, president, DSGMC, Jathedar Vedanti had issued clear instructions that the payment be made to Mr Hit within three weeks. However, supporters of Bhai Ranjit Singh, including Mr Jasbir Singh Kala, openly opposed the move of giving compensation to Mr Hit. Consequently, it was mooted to summon Bhai Ranjit Singh for defying the directives of Akal Takht.

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh said he was waiting for the day when Jathedar Vedanti summoned him at Akal Takht. He said he would depose before the Sikh clergy under the media glare and use the occasion to expose Jathedar Vedanti, who was being used as “rubber stamp” of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Hit alleged that though a small amount of compensation was being given to him in lieu of school worth crores, he did not object to the decision since the case was settled by the five-member sub-committee constituted by Akal Takht. He alleged that Bhai Ranjit Singh and late Gurcharn Singh Tohra wanted to implicate him in an “unrelated case”. Mr Hit alleged that the then Akal Takht Jathedar overstepped his religious powers and got him excommunicated from Khalsa Panth. He claimed that the move to excommunicate him was an attempt to stop him from becoming Rajya Sabha Member at that time .

Mr Hit alleged that he had to cough up huge money to get himself back into the Sikh fold.

Talking about the forthcoming annual election of the DSGMC, Mr Hit said though he had the support of 15 members in the 51-member House, he was not aspirant for the post of president of the committee. He made it clear that his group would not support Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok due to his Congress background. Replying to a question, Mr Hit refuted the charges that he had reached some understanding with Mr Chandok for claiming Rs 1.1 crore in lieu of extending support to him (Mr Chandok) during the DSGMC’s election.


 

Cattle loss hits flood-hit farmers hard
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Khanauri (Patiala), August 8
The stench hits you as soon as one peers down to see the water level of the Ghaggar below the syphons here. One doesn’t take long to discover its origin for the swirling Ghaggar waters have swept hundreds of cattle into the river, many of which have become entangled here.

Though nearly 10 villages are still submerged in flood waters in this subdivision, flood waters have receded by nearly one foot in most of the villages. Part of this is because the waters have now travelled to neighbouring villages in Sangrur, whose Deputy Commissioner Hussan Lal said nearly 20 villages have been submerged in four to seven feet of water.

The loss to cattle in the district seems to be immense and the real figures are likely to be revealed once the flood waters subside. However, there is despondency among farmers, who feel they have been dealt a double blow. “Not only has our crop been damaged but many cattle have perished, while others have been infected during the past one week,” said Jagdev Singh of Bibipur village while talking to TNS.

Jagdev said the entire village was feeling the loss of the cattle. Even those who do not seem infected and are otherwise in good health have also started giving less milk due to scarce feeding. He said farmers who had established small dairies and kept pure-bred animals had suffered the most as each animal was worth Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000.

State Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, during a visit to the Ghanaur areas where flood waters have subsided, also indicated that the milch cattle might be severely affected due to infection and other diseases. The minister said according to a preliminary survey, around 10,000 of the total 50,000 cattlehead in the Ghanaur block had been inflicted with various diseases during the past one week. Mr Kang said the Animal Husbandry Department had formed 50 mobile teams to reach out to the affected animals in various flood-hit villages. He said fodder and straw were being supplied in these villages by the department.

Meanwhile, flood waters continued to submerge crops in a few thousand acres in the subdivision. There was a report of a row over release of flood waters from one field to another with Bibipur residents — Tarsem Singh and Bachan Singh — in a police complaint claiming that former Nizaminiwala Sarpanch Sukhdev Singh and 15 others had fired shots in the air and also thrashed them when they objected to the release of flood waters into their fields.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur today visited the worst affected villages in Samana subdivision. She was taken to the submerged villages in an Army truck and she interacted with people and learnt the difficulties faced by them. She said relaying of lost road and swift assessment of losses would be the first priority of the administration after the flood waters receded in the district. 


 

Preneet visits villages affected by rain
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 8
Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, today visited around six villages of this subdivision where torrential rain had caused massive destruction on Tuesday.

People of the area expressed their resentment over the delayed visit by the MP. Residents of affected villages complained to her of negligent attitude of the district and the local administration in providing relief to them.

The helicopter carrying the MP landed at Government High School, Dera Bassi, at about 1 pm.

Accompanied by Mr Lal Singh, Panchayat Minister, Punjab, and Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, the MP visited villages of Alamgir, Tiwana, Sarseeni, Sandhpura, Khajoor Mandi and some others.

Local Revenue officials distributed a truckload of food packets among the villagers. However, these were distributed a week later an announcement made by the Deputy Commissioner in this connection at Chhat Bir Zoo on Tuesday.

The people also complained regarding the unavailability of food and fodder and apprised her of the loss of property in the rain. They lamented that no officials from the administration turned up to redress their grievances.

The MP directed the officials concerned to prepare a comprehensive report about the losses suffered by the villagers.

The MP’s visit was followed by visit of many local Congress leaders, including Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, former Additional Advocate-General, Punjab, Mrs Sheelam Sohi, Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, both members of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Amritpal Singh, president of the Dera Bassi Nagar Panchayat, and Mr Prem Singh, president, City Congress.


 

Flood situation alarming, says DC
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 8
The flood situation today deteriorated in about 15 villages in the Khanauri and Moonak areas of this district due to the heavy flow of the Ghaggar, especially through the Batisdara (RD 455), leading to the damage of standing crops in more than 15,000 acres.

According to reports this evening, water was spreading on the Moonak-Tohana and Moonak-Patran roads, affecting traffic. Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said the entry of the Ghaggar waters in villages of Sangrur had created an alarming situation. Some villagers had shifted to safer places.


 

Crop loss due to floods worries BKU

Moga, August 8
The Bharatiya Kisan Union’s State Executive Committee has expressed concern over loss of human lives, property and damage to crops in the floods in the areas of Patiala and Sangrur districts. The committee appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to provide full compensation to all those farmers who suffered loss at the rate of Rs 14,000 per acre and ex-gratia grant of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of those killed in the floods. — PTI


 

Badal for special session on floods
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 8
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, while demanding that riparian principles should be adopted for distributing river waters, claimed that he had never stated that canal water supply to Haryana and Rajasthan from Punjab should be stopped as published in a section of the Press.

He was here to preside over a meeting of party MLAs, MPs, members of the SGPC and other office-bearers in connection with the preparations for the 400th anniversary celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Addressing a press conference, he demanded a special session of the Punjab Assembly to take stock of the flood-like situation in the state.

He urged the Centre to use diplomatic channels to make arrangements for the safe return of Punjabis working as drivers in Gulf countries.


 

Tibet lake poses no threat to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 8
Even as experts from the India prepare to go to Tibet to study and suggest ways to punture the blockage in the artificial lake on a tributary of the Sutlej, officials of Punjab’s Drainage Department have ruled out the possibility of floods in the state on this account.

Terming the flood reports in the state as “exaggerated and unfounded”, officials of the department said if all the water from the lake was to flow to Punjab through the Sutlej, even then there would be no problem. Officials said the situation could at best be termed as “alarming but not critical.”

The exact position would be known after the experts study the lake and estimate the quantum of water but going by the satellite pictures released by the Chinese Government and those provided by the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, the surface area was about 900 hectares.

Drainage Department officials said the lake presently held about 2000 million cubic metre of water. Even if all the water was to hurtle through Himachal Pradesh and reach Punjab, the Bhakra Dam alone would be sufficient to check its advance.

The officials said at 6 am today, the water level in the dam was 1,553 feet as against a top storage capacity of 1685 feet. Thus, the dam has the capacity to easily store 4314 million cubic metre of water. In other words, it can easily bear the brunt of the situation.

The Gobind Sagar is 96 km long and its width is about 1 km. The lake on the Parchu tributary in Tibet is less than 2 km long and the width is less than 1 km, the officials pointed out.

They said the water of the artificial Tibetan lake could pose danger in Himachal Pradesh but not in Punjab.


 

Diarrhoea threat looms large in Punjab
villages near UT 

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Recent rains have spelt doom for about five Punjab villages bordering Chandigarh. A survey of these villages, including Badi Perch, Chhoti Perch, Badi Seonk, Chhoti Seonk and Jayanti Devi (Ropar district), has brought to light serious civic problems which the residents of these areas are finding hard to tackle.

The worst among these is the potential threat of diarrhea due to lack of potable water in these areas. The sole drinking water source for these villages lies contaminated in the absence of regular chlorination by authorities concerned. The problem has been compounded after the water supply pipe from Badi Perch village burst during the rains recently.

Badi Perch houses the tubewell that supplies water to other villages. Sarpanch of this village, Ms Kashmir Kaur, says, "Our water tank has not been cleaned up in the past many years. No chlorination is done. We get drinking water only between 6 and 7 am. Rest of the villagers have dug up wells to get some water." Villagers in Chhoti Perch right across the Badi Perch village have been drinking contaminated water for many days. Says Gurdev Singh of this village, "There is no water to drink, and there is no choice either."

Besides this, about 500 households of Badi Perch have been hit hard by irregular power supply. Telephones here have been dead for over a month. To make matters worse, the bridge connecting Badi and Chhoti Perch recently fell, increasing the threat of children being washed away in the gushing river waters.

Ranjit Singh, a Badi Perch resident, says, "Connectivity has been lost completely after the bridge collapsed in the recent rains. Requests to repair the bridge have been forwarded often, but the repair work has always been found lacking. The situation is grave as many children from Chhoti Perch have to cross this river on their way to the secondary school in our village. There have been occasions where children have fallen into the river while trying to cross it."

People travelling between the two villages have to lift bicycles to cross the river, which has a heavy flow due to proximity to Perch Dam. Says Meher Singh of Chhoti Perch village, "Absenteeism in schools is increasing because we are afraid to send our wards. The bridge stands damaged and children cannot cross the river."

However, the most outstanding problem is that of water supply. Badi Perch villagers inform The Tribune that the generator set meant to pump water to other villages does not function properly.

Says Ranjit Singh of this village, "The generator has been repaired on paper several times but cannot even cater to our supply, let alone that of other villages. Another problem is that of the Perch Dam waters coming into our villages. Water from the dam often enters these villages from the valves that are sometimes left open in the night. This has led to massive water logging problem. Mosquitoes are breeding all over such areas."


 

Ludhiana reels under malaria threat
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 8
The city has been in the grip of one epidemic or the other in the recent past. After the outbreak of gastroenteritis, malaria cases are being reported daily. Some cholera cases have also been reported, according to officials of the state Health Department.

Malaria cases have been reported from Ambedkar Colony and the Health Department officials admit that seven to eight confirmed malaria cases have been reported during the past three days. The officials are, however, reluctant to share more information.

Officials of the Health Department claim that teams of doctors have been deputed to examine residents in Ambedkar Colony and supply medicines to prevent malaria.

Similarly, two to three cases of cholera are being reported daily, according to the Health Department. As many as 35 cases of cholera have been reported since July 15. In all, 88 cases of cholera have been reported since January. These cases have been reported from low-lying areas where sanitary conditions are in bad shape.

Cases of gastroenteritis too have not shown any let-up. More than 1,250 cases of gastroenteritis have been reported since January.

Meanwhile, the water samples taken on July 24 from Mauji Colony and Daba village have been tested unfit for human consumption, belying the claims of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation authorities. The MC authorities had claimed that water supplied to Mauji Colony end Daba village, where gastro cases have been reported, was not contaminated. As many as 180 gastro cases were reported from the colonies leading to five deaths.

The Health Department had taken four water samples on July 24 immediately after the spread of gastroenteritis at the two places.

Another four samples of water were taken two days after the outbreak and were found to be unfit for human consumption.

Sanitary conditions in the city are deteriorating by the day and huge dumps of garbage can be seen in residential areas, including posh colonies.


 

Focus on health of rural poor: Dr Johl
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Dr S.S. Johl Of the six determinants, education and health are the driving force behind the economic growth and spread of development in any society. The other four are transport and communication, power, credit and market. And Punjab needs to do more for education, health and medical education.

This was stated by the Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, whose resignation was recently rejected by the Chief Minister, in an interview with TNS here today.

Dr Johl said the growing gulf between rural and urban Punjab in terms of infrastructure and facilities in education and health was a matter of serious concern. For example, not surprisingly, in admissions to the Punjab Agricultural University, more than 95 per cent students were of urban-origin, what to say of medical or engineering colleges.

He warned, ‘’Such polarisation of society and the poor, especially in villages, being left out of the mainstream of the social system covering education, health and medical education, that we have now is a serious distortion that may one day impinge on the social fabric creating tensions. Thus, unless these are strengthened, society will disintegrate with disastrous consequences’’.

Dr Johl emphasised that a state could not abdicate its responsibilities in social sector and the real focus had to be on school education, ‘’a virtual scandal’’, hijacked by the rich, leaving the poor stranded. This had, in return, led to a sub-optimal growth of the economy and skewed the distribution of incomes and benefits of economic development.

Aware of vacancies and ever-growing absenteeism among teachers, as well as students, particularly in villages, Dr Johl said the void between public and government schools needed to be bridged. Children in rural schools needed to be provided with the same infrastructure and facilities as available to children in urban schools. Public school managements could not be allowed to take advantage of government apathy and spread their net to the nursery level, charging hefty fees that willing parents paid.

Students, Dr Johl said, were being turned into ‘’robots and muggers’’ distorting their personalities that were not consistent with ‘’our ethos and values’’. The only benefit of such schools, perhaps, was that children were better prepared for the ‘’mechanically designed’’ entrance tests for promotional and higher education, which was disproportionately low cost. ‘’Thus, incurring a high cost at school enables only the rich families’ students to grab low-cost higher education seats in professional colleges and universities’’. Those rich students, who could not still get into higher educational institutions on merit had the advantage to either ‘’pay’’ their way or avail of ‘’NRI quota seats”.

In such a scenario, Punjab had to reinvent its education system. The state could not abdicate its responsibilities, particularly, when it came to universal, uniform, quality elementary education, irrespective of the economic and social differences and disparities, he stated.

Dr Johl suggested a multi-level recipe that the government should make use of and assume total and absolute responsibility of school education. There should be no role of private institutions in school-level education. And school education should also be free and schools set up on ‘’habitat basis’’, meaning children of one area going to a particular school, irrespective of societal class. He had many radical ideas which he proposed to discuss at the appropriate forum. For instance, he said, there should be no examination for promotion to higher classes up to the elementary level. “Examinations or tests are supposed to be tools of learning, as integral part of teaching, not basis for promotion to the next class’’.

At the end of the elementary education, Dr Johl said, the state should go in for a ‘’talent hunt’’ for professional and technical education and for the selected students establish a few ‘’special’’ high or higher secondary schools, where education should be more rigorous. Even some existing schools could be converted to ‘’special schools’’.

Even health and medical education, Dr Johl said, had gone out of the reach of the poor, as also of the rural people. Government institutions were no longer ‘’sensitive’’ to the needs of the people and absenteeism among doctors was as rampant as among school teachers. Though budget provisions for health had escalated by over 168 per cent, at simple growth rate of 8.5 per cent per annum between 1993-94 and 2001-02, service delivery was not compatible with it.

The root cause of the problems of health delivery system and medical education was senseless commercialisation, money-power over merit and unethical practices in admissions, high percentage share of doctors in diagnostic tests and chemists shops etc. There was also the need to reorganise rural medical services, Dr Johl added.


 

UGC seeks special fund for promoting quality education
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar: The Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Dr. Arun Nigavekar, said that for the first time in the history of India the UGC had strongly advocated for allocating special funds to the tune of Rs. 5000 crore for promoting quality higher education in the 11th Five Year Plan.

Mr. Nigavekar, talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) Decennial Year Lecture on quality higher education and sustainable development held at BBK DAV College for Women here recently said that he had been invited by the Chairman, Finance Commission, Mr. Rangarajan, to make a presentation about setting apart Rs. 5,000 crore tied up fund for the plan on the strategy for improving the academic infrastructure in Indian university and colleges.

The UGC Chairman said that he had also made the strategic presentation for the allocation of the special funds to the President of India, Dr. A P. J. Abdul Kalam, who had taken personal interest for imparting international-level education to our students pursuing their studies. He said that he had been lobbing for this fund and for this he had written personal letters to Governors and Chief Ministers, seeking their support in his endeavour to get this amount under special budgetary allocation cleared by the Finance Commission.

He, however, admitted that there may be certain hurdles but he was sure that the encouragement received from the President of India and the Finance Commission that the UGC would be able to get the requisite finance. Mr.Nigavekar said that these funds would be used to improve the academic excellence, including the support facility, and added that no allocation would be made for construction of new buildings.

The UGC Chairman said that it would be able to monitor the utilisation of funds as the present cess of 2 per cent on various taxes announced in the recent Budget where the higher education would get only Rs. 200 crore while the balance of Rs. 4800 crore had been earmarked for ‘Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan’.

Answering a question about soliciting foreign students for admission into Indian universities and colleges, Dr. Nigavekar said recently they had participated in an Indian education fair held in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, where 28 Indian universities had participated and received excellent response. He hoped that more and more similar education exhibitions would be held in South- East Asia, Africa and Middle East. He said that India for the first time took part in the international quality higher education conference held in the USA, where Indian universities had received excellent appreciation for their education standard.

Dr. Nigavekar, who was the brainchild behind the concept of NAAC 10 years ago, felt completely satisfied over its performance, which too have received appreciation from the global forum of quality higher education. He said that during the last 10 years there was almost 100 per cent growth in the opening of new colleges and universities, which had added tremendous workload and pressure on NAAC for evaluation.

He said that he was working on a new software being developed by a leading company in Bangalore for e-assessment of new colleges to verify their data based on their performance according to the benchmarks set by NAAC. He hoped that this process would be installed within the next three months, which would help in analysing the performance of the universities both at the macro and micro levels. He was critical of certain institutions, which had been manipulating their data for securing the acceptance of NAAC. He strongly favoured initiating reforms for transparent functioning of the institutions.

Commenting on the mushrooming of private universities, Dr. Nigavekar said that he had already formed a group to go into the functioning of these universities as there was a serious concern that such institutions were operating without proper infrastructure including campus and proper faculties.

The UGC Chairman said that by 2008 approximately 1.3 crore students would be enrolled for higher education as against 94 lakh currently studying in universities and colleges out of which only 17 per cent were studying in professional institutions. He said that we would have to invest in our human resources, including teachers and students, as they are the only ones who could bring changes in our socio-economic set-up of the country. 


 
POLITICS

Decision on CM after Pranab visit, claims Brar
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 8
Punjab cannot be isolated the rest of the country on SYL canal issue, said Jagmeet Singh Brar, Secretary, All India Congress Committee, at a press conference here yesterday. He said that there was no doubt that the people of Punjab had maximum claim on the waters of rivers of Punjab. However since the issue was subjudice in Supreme Court of India he refused to comment. But said the decision of the apex court would be binding upon all. The court would decide the quantum of water to be supplied to the states. Mr Brar refused to comment on termination of Water Agreement Act 2004 passed by the Punjab Assembly but added that the state government did not take Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh into confidence before passing the Act.

Brar rued that the memorial of Punjab Mata Vidya Devi mother of martyr Bhagat Singh, raised adjacent to Hussainiwala memorial of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, was inundated in 8 feet deep water by recent floods in Ferozepore. He blamed it on the administration’s negligence.

In reply to a question on recent statement of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal that Punjab should immediately stop supply of water to neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan Mr Brar described the statement as irresponsible to derive short-term political mileage. He criticised Mr Badal for issuing such statements, particularly when the SAD had ruled the state thrice.

In answer to another question on the fate of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and whether he (Brar) aspiring for the post, Brar said that the matter was pending with the Congress high command and any decision in this regard would be taken after the visit of Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, and in charge of Punjab affairs after the Independence Day. He, however, said that if Capt Amarinder Singh who had remained in the Akali Dal for 14 years and served as a minister in the Akali regime, could become the Chief Minister of state there was nothing strange in his aspiring to become the Chief Minister as he had been associated with the Congress party since the time of late Mrs Indira Gandhi.

On the issue of prevailing corruption in Punjab, Mr Brar said that there was rampant corruption in the state at all levels. He said that the campaign launched by the Punjab Government after assuming power two and half years back, had now fizzled out completely. When it was pointed out that the Punjab Government had been unable to appoint chairpersons of the Market Committees of state Mr Brar said that there should be decentralisation of powers and it was an administrative failure of the Captains’s regime.

Championing the cause of the farmers Mr Brar demanded that Rs 9000- crore bank loan to farmers should be waived off and the farmers should further be given aid of Rs 5000 per acre for diversification from traditional crops. He also called for purchase of oil seeds, flowers, fruits etc at minimum support price.

Mr Ashok Kumar Gulbadhar, president, Veopar Mandal, Fazilka, Satish Kumar Dhingra, organising secretary, state unit of Beopar Mandal, Dina Nath Sachdeva, president, Pakka Artiayas Association, Rajinder Kumar Rinwa, Chairman, Zila Pariashad, Ferozepore, Karan Singh Sawansukha, former member PPCC, Hari Chand Kamboj, president, Municipal Council, Fazilka, Roshan Lal Khunger, president, Block Congress Committee, Fazilka, Amar Chand Bhateja, former member, Municipal Council, Fazilka, apprised Mr Brar of the problems of the people of the area. The traders pointed out highhanded attitude of octroi contractors due to which all of them were feeling harassed.

Later, Mr Brar listened to the problems of a large number of farmers at local canal rest house. Majority of the farmers complained of scarcity of canal water for irrigation and its organised theft by influential persons, politicians and so-called in charge of religious deras. Mr Brar assured to take up these issues with the Chief Minister and the Chief Engineer of Irrigation Department.


 
COMMUNITY

Canway Immigration files case for fee refund
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Canway Immigration Consultants have denied the charges levelled against the company in the report “Four youths allege duping by Canway Immigration” appearing in The Tribune on Sunday.

According to a clarification issued by the company a complaint was filed by the candidates. The Chandigarh police investigated into the case and found no case of cheating. The police filed the report after talking to the two parties.

The press note says: Canway charged Rs 5,000 per candidate for arranging admission in Pronto Data College, Canada. Canway got all of them admitted in the college. The remaining money, as claimed by the complainants, was paid through demand drafts in the name of Pronto Data College payable at Canada.

The candidates were however denied visas for travelling to Canada by the Embassy because of non-availability of funds with the candidates. The clarification further said: At no stage were the admission letters arranged by Canway challenged by the Embassy.

Later, on discovering that Pronto Data College had gone bankrupt, the company arranged and filed Calim Forms on behalf of the candidates. Canway also reported the matter to the Canadian police and the Canadian Embassy. The matter is being followed up to get the refund.

According to the press note Canway Immigration is duly incorporated under the Companies Act and is approved and licensed by the Ministry of Labour. 


 

Wassan Singh Zaffarwal turns quack
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 8
After an initial interaction with a six-feet soft-spoken person with flowing white beard at his home in Zaffarwal village, its hard to believe that he was once a terrorist. It is even more surprising to see him give sweet pills to patients coming to his dispensary.

Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, former chief of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), has taken up the vocation of a quack after being caught by the police and having served two years in jail. He has become a homoeopath and claims to have treated about 600 patients till date.

He said he learned homoeopathy during his five-year stay in Switzerland. He, however, could not acquire a formal degree because of lack of knowledge of the Swiss language. He was now planning to appear in examinations in India to get himself registered as an authorised homoeopathic doctor.

He started practising homoeopathy in jail. During his two-year imprisonment in Nabha and Jalandhar central jails, he claimed to have treated co-prisoners. He also claims to have treated paralytic, heart and blood pressure patients.

Zaffarwal also nurses political ambitions. He is planning to contest the SGPC elections from the Dhariwal constituency against the former state PWD Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, who was once said to be his friend. Though the SGPC elections for the Dhariwal constituency have been postponed after the papers of Mr Langah were rejected, Zaffarwal said he was continuing with his campaign.

He praised the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for taking a bold initiative by terminating the water agreement.

He said he had been released in eight of the nine cases registered against him by the police. These included six cases of murder under Section 302, IPC, one under Section 124-A, IPC, and another under Section 468, IPC. One case under Section 124-A, IPC, was still pending against him.

He was released as none of the witnesses of the prosecution stood by their statements in court.


 

Simian terror grips Model Town
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, August 8
A four-year-old polio-stricken boy is struggling for life in the Emergency Ward of the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here after he was attacked by a monkey. The monkey menace here has forced residents of the Model Town locality to stay indoors for the past fortnight.

Residents of the locality on the Seeto road, near the railway crossing, said monkeys had come to the area from Hardwar. They were initially seen in the municipal council complex and had now moved to other areas. Their number had increased as the authorities had completely ignored the problem.

Scores of incidents of monkey attacks have been reported from Gaushala Road, Nai Abadi, Arya Nagar, Singh Sabha Gurdwara street and Post Office street, besides other parts of the town. Consumer rights activist Sat Pal Khariwal said virtually no locality of the town had escaped the impact of the menace.

Mr Harminder Singh, a resident of the Model Town and former president of the Cooperative Spinning Mills Workers Union, Punjab, said women and children were being forced to stay indoors due to perpetual threat of monkey attack. He said schoolchildren, when not being escorted by parents, had been attacked by monkeys in the streets. Ms Geeta Rani, another resident, said she and her sister-in-law were recently attacked by monkeys when they were going for shopping.

Sovik (6) was brushing his teeth in the morning before going to the school when a monkey entered the house from the roof and attacked him. As he struggled to escape, neighbourers fired crackers to scare the animal away but it entered another house and attacked the polio-stricken son of a junior engineer working in a state government department. He had to be taken to the Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

Mr Sukhpal Singh Sidhu, a former president of the Bar Association, expressed surprise at the apathy of officials concerned towards the menace.

Residents said they had approached Wild Life officials but were told that only rural areas came under their department and that the urban localities fell under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. Forest Department officials, when contacted on the phone, said no complaint had been received in writing so far.

Dr G.R. Garg, who had recently taken over as SMO of the Civil Hospital, assured that all efforts would be made to provide proper treatment to the boy who fell victim to a monkey attack.


 

Widow seeks CM’s help to trace daughter
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 8
Ms Darshan Kaur of Panjwar village has appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene to help trace her married daughter who has been missing under mysterious circumstances for the past fortnight.

Ms Darshan Kaur, whose husband was killed by militants in 1990, in a letter to the Chief Minister, said her daughter Manbeer Kaur was married to Gurwinder Singh of Gujranwalli village in Amritsar district five years ago. She alleged that her daughter used to be harassed by her husband and in-laws. She said her daughter was sent to Amritsar from Gujranwalli on July 25 to get some medicine. She said she met her daughter that day and sent her back to Gujranwalli the same day. She was, however, told at night that Manbeer had not reached the village.

She said her son-in-law had not even approached the police in this regard.

Ms Darshan Kaur said she feared that her daughter had been eliminated.


 

Tribune Impact
Huts of poachers along feeder demolished
Tribune News Service

Harike (Amritsar), August 8
The Department of Fisheries has demolished at least 25 huts of Bangla deshis along the Rajasthan feeder following publication of a report in The Tribune about large-scale illegal fishing near the Harike barrage.

Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, has written a demi-official letter to all district police chiefs for taking action against poachers and the “black sheep” of the department (fisheries) who were in connivance with the culprits. In his communication to the SSPs, Mr Kaushal sought the cooperation of the police in checking illegal fishing.

Dr B.S. Sidhu, Director, Fisheries, said he had already sought a detailed report about the illegal fishing. He said he had asked officials of the department to take action against those who had connived with the poachers. He said red alert had been sounded all over the state to check poaching. He also sought the help of people in this regard.

Earlier, he had deputed Mr J.S. Punaich, Assistant Director Fisheries, Ludhiana, to conduct an inquiry.

The Tribune had published a report about the poisoning of fish in the Beas in Gurdaspur district. 


 

Punjab CM to unfurl flag at Hoshiarpur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will unfurl the national flag at a state-level function in Hoshiarpur on the Independence Day.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, will unfurl the flag at Sangrur.

A government spokesman today said the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, would unfurl the Tricolour at Ludhiana and the Deputy Speaker at Muktsar.


 

RSS, Takht panel hold meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 8
In a significant development, the five-member subcommittee, constituted by Jathedar, Akal Takht, and representatives of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) held a meeting here to remove misinterpretation on Sikhism .

The meeting was held in the backdrop of a boycott call of the Guru Manyo Granth Yatra, being taken out by the RSS, by Jathedar Akal Takht. The Jathedar’s call had brought a lot of embarrassment to the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, which had political alliance with the BJP. Suddenly, the five-member committee was constituted by Akal Takht to study the matter and submit a report on time-bound basis


 

In pursuit of meaningful theatre
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, August 8
There was no way the daughter of poet Sajjad Zaheer and writer Razia Appa could have turned out to be anything other than an artiste. When fate thrust reluctant Nadira towards the National School of Drama, her path in life was more or less determined.

Many will be surprised to learn that the woman whose name has become synonymous with meaningful theatre in India for the past 30 years or so, cried and wailed as she was directed by her father to join the National School of Drama. She did not know how to react, she said. She wanted to join a course in library science.

A few months into the course, she took to the stage like a fish takes to water.

In fact, the feature that Nadira Babbar and daughter Juhi Babbar have in common apart from cine star Raj Babbar in their life is the duo’s obsession with theatre. “The magic of live performance — there’s nothing to beat that,” assert both mother and daughter who are in the city to stage their popular play, Begum Jaan.

The pioneer in street drama and Parsi theatre has also successfully adapted western classics to the Hindi stage. Talking about the decline in the popularity and the quality of theatre in the country, Nadira is forthright in admitting that ‘mediocrity’, has seeped into theatre as well.” Well, what else do you expect? Theatre is but a mirror of society,” says the artiste.

Considering that she has had no support from any other quarter apart from ‘Raj’, her husband, Nadira has done well for herself. Talent, good scripts and single-minded devotion to the cause of theatre enable her to win the Sangeet Natak Academy Award-2001.

Both Raj Babbar and Nadira’s passion for acting seems to have been acquired by Juhi. “Despite our best efforts, she has managed to get into the same field,” Nadira says.

“Anyway, working with one’s daughter has an emotional benefit and when the younger generation takes to the field, it is comforting to know that there is hope for theatre yet,” Nadira says.


 

Pingalwara gets donation for adopted women
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 8
The All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, has received a donation of $ 200 from Mr Ajit Singh, who resides in the USA, for the three mentally challenged and abandoned women recently adopted by the organisation, according to Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the society. The case was highlighted by The Tribune in its July 6 issue.

Mr Ajit Singh sent the amount through cheque after reading the news feature on the Internet edition of the paper. He has sent $ 50 for Rukhsana Begum and Charno each, while $ 100 are for Kamla.

Kamla (32), who was found roaming at Malerkotla, was brought to the local Pingalwara, on June 18 by some persons. She was found seven-month pregnant. Charno (45) was brought here on June 18 on the request of the manager of Gurdwara Nanakana Sahib, near here. Rukhsana Begum (30) was brought here on June 26 last by members of the Rotaract Club, Sardoolgarh.


 

Free legal aid offer to kin of killed Dalits
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 8
The S.C. Morcha of Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), yesterday demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation for families of each Dalit allegedly killed in firing by landlords at Kamalpur village, near Dirba, on August 3. It also demanded Rs five lakh compensation for each injured.

Mr Lalit Kumar Garg, district president of the Legal Cell of the BJP, said the cell would provide free legal aid to the families of two deceased Dalits and other injured persons. He also stated that he would fight their case in court free of cost.


 

Harassed subscribers want phones disconnected
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 8
Several telephone subscribers of Dharampura village in this subdivision have requested the GMT, Ferozepore, to disconnect their telephones as these had become source of mental agony and loss.

In a letter yesterday the subscribers said their telephones had not been working for the past six months. Complaints made with the authorities had remained unattended, they claimed. To get rid of this they decided to surrender the telephones.


 

3000 brick-kiln owners go on strike
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 8
More than 3000 brick-kiln owners of the state went on indefinite strike today in protest against government’s notification asking them to use 25 per cent flyash of thermal plants for making bricks. The Punjab Brick-kiln Owners Association’s leader Ashok Prashar, said here today that all brick-kilns of the state would remain closed till the notification was withdrawn as fly ash of thermal plants cost them more. Moreover flyash causes skin diseases, TB and asthma among brick-kiln labourers.


 

Pak infiltrator shot by BSF

Amritsar, August 8
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel today shot dead an unidentified Pakistani national who was trying to sneak into India from the Indo-Pak border near Wagah.

A BSF spokesman here said the intruder was seen trying to infiltrate early this morning. He was cautioned to stop but he ignored the warning and was killed in the ensuing firing by the BSF patrol. — UNI


 
COURTS
 

Lok Adalat settles 92 cases
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
As many as 92 cases were settled at a lok adalat held in the premises of district court complex under the presidentship of Mr Jaspal Singh, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, here yesterday.

Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, said that total 324 cases were placed before different Lok Adalats and out of it 92 cases were settled on the spot. He added that in various cases, the lok adalats facilitated compensation of Rs 1.20 crore to litigants.


 

Bailable warrant against ex-SHO
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 8
A local court has issued bailable warrants against former Kotkapura SHO and in charge of anti-fraud staff Manminder Singh, head constable Jaspal Singh and three other cops in a case of keeping a few persons in “illegal” custody and “beating” them. They have been asked to appear in the court on August 16.

The complainant, Mr Amandeep Singh, in his complaint, said on November 5, 2003, he was returning with his friends from Kotkapura to Panjgarai Kalan, when Manminder Singh, Jaspal Singh and the other policemen started beating him. He further alleged that the cops took him and his friends to the police station where they kept them in “illegal” custody. 


 
AGRICULTURE

Decision to shift farm scientists draws flak
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 7
The fate of the Punjab Government’s much publicised plans about diversification and future of hundreds of daily wage workers have virtually plunged into a sea of uncertainity with the sudden decision of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, to shift farm scientists and the entire budget of the 30- year-old Regional Rice Research Station, set up here with the efforts of Dr. M.S. Randhawa, to PAU at Ludhiana.

Meanwhile, some influential people close to the ruling Congress party, it was learnt, have allegedly set their eyes on the 300-acre prime land of the station, which, was being used by it for experimental purposes.

What makes the whole episode more interesting and even mysterious was that the PAU authorities have been going ahead with their plans to close down the station in a gradual manner despite its immense contribution to Punjab in the form of development of more than 12 varieties of common rice, including PR-106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 and two of “Basmati”-385 and 386, during the past 30 years.

The research work at the station was going on smoothly till the officials received a letter of the Director of Research, PAU, in the first week of July, stating that the entire budget of roughly Rs. 5 crore has been shifted to PAU and that the decision to shift the budget was taken at a meeting held under the chairmanship of PAU Vice- Chancellor. Later, almost the entire research staff was also shifted to PAU.

Farm scientists even shifted the quality- testing equipment to PAU in a truck recently, which, has created a sense of insecurity among hundreds of daily wage workers, whose two to three generations have been working and assisting farm scientists at the station. The station, according to sources, gave employment to over 300 such workers.

Talking to The Tribune, employees of the station maintained that the decision to shift the budget and farm scientists was nothing but an effort to close down the station. “ Its closure would also be a greater setback to the Punjab Government’s plans to diversify agriculture,” said a farm scientist. Employees also alleged that the station was being closed down gradually at the instance of some influential people of Kapurthala, who wanted to usurp the prime land of the station one way or the other. 



 
CRIME

Two sisters commit suicide

Phagwara, August 8
Two sisters, Kavita Thakur and Neetu Thakur, reportedly committed suicide by consuming “sulphas” tablets in Police Colony, Banga, last night.

According to reports received here this morning, Mrs Kavita Thakur, wife of Punjab police head constable Yogesh Kumar, first consumed poison and then her sister, Neetu, swallowed the poisonous tablets.

It was learnt that Neetu had come to see her sister in Banga. Domestic quarrel was said to be the cause of the suicide, the police said . Both the sisters were brought to Guru Nanak Mission Hospital, Dhahan Kaleran, in critical condition where they died.

The post-mortem examination was conducted and both the bodies were handed over to the bereaved family.

A case has been registered. — UNI


 

President, ex-EO of Panchayat held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 8
Mr Jeet Singh, president of the Nagar Panchayat of Cheema village, in the district, and Mr Parveen Kumar, a former executive officer (EO) of the same Nagar Panchayat, were arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday. They were reportedly arrested from Cheema village.

An official of the Vigilance Bureau said here today that the president and the former EO of the Nagar Panchayat of Cheema village had been arrested on account of misappropriation of funds and irregularities in the use of development grants released for the repair of a dharamshala, a veterinary hospital, roads, etc. Besides, a grant of Rs 30 lakh had also been issued to the Nagar Panchayat for the sewerage work which had not been used as per the directions, he added.

Sources said Parveen Kumar, the EO, was now posted in a Nagar Panchayat in Mansa district. The president and ex-EO had been held after a preliminary inquiry of the funds.


 

6 injured in clash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), August 8
Six persons were injured in a clash between seed sellers and farmers at Gur Mandi here yesterday.

According to the information, 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 to protest against the alleged selling of inferior quality seeds. Eyewitnesses said the clash started when the farmers and seed sellers levelled counter allegations against each other.

The injured, identified as Harminder Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Harcharan Singh (all farmers) and Gurpreet Singh (an employee of the shopkeeper), were admitted to Gidderbaha Civil Hospital. The other two employees of the shopkeeper received minor injuries.

However, no FIR was registered. When contacted, Gidderbaha DSP Malkiat Singh said the matter was being investigated and the police was waiting for medico-legal report (MLR) to register an FIR in this regard.


 

17-year-old girl kidnapped
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 8
A 17-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped by her neighbour here last evening.

When the girl did not return home from her school her parents got worried and started inquiring about her from her friends. One of the classmates of the girl informed that she last saw her after the school was over.

A family friend of the victim informed the girl’s father that he had seen Subrat Singh, his brother Vikramjit Singh and their mother forcefully taking away the girl in a car. The father of the victim immediately went to Subrat’s residence in the Pratap Nagar locality here and found it locked. A case has been registered under Sections 363,366 and 120 B of the IPC.


 

Teenaged girl kidnapped
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 8
A teenaged girl of Gill Waraich village has allegedly been kidnapped by a youth of the same village.

The police has registered a case under Sections 363 and 366, IPC, against the accused who has been identified as Pargat Singh (18). 


 

Body found on banks of Ghaggar
Our Correspondent

Lalru, August 8
The body of a man, aged between 30 and 35, was found in the fields on the banks of the Ghaggar at Sitarpur village, near here. The body was noticed by villagers.

According to the police, the river brought the body in the heavy flow.

The police has sent the body to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for post-mortem. The police has started inquest proceeding under Section 174 of the CrPC at Lalru police station.


 
EDUCATION

Pbi varsity accepts students’ demands
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 8
In view of the various problems being faced by students, Panjabi University has decided to accept a majority of the demands of various student organisations.

These organisations had submitted a charter of their demands to the university authorities. The Vice-Chancellor had formed a committee to study these demands. Subsequently, a meeting of various student organisations was called by the Dean (Academic Affairs) in his office on July 21 to discuss the demands put forth by the students.

Later the committee decided to accept most of the demands of the students. The discrepancy fee in the context of examination fee has been abolished in the case of regular students. The late fee for admission in the university departments has also been abolished. The excess fee paid by students on these counts will be adjusted in the semester fee.

About the reappear examination fee, it has been decided that in the case of one paper, the amount of fee will be 60 per cent of the total examination fee and in the case of two papers, it will be 80 per cent of the total examination fee under the semester system.

Regarding counselling fee, it being a collective decision of various universities, colleges and the state government, it is felt that it will not be appropriate for the university to take any decision unilaterally in this connection. The university has already advertised and filled the vacant seats as demanded by the students.

Regarding hostel accommodation, the university has already expedited the construction of two new hostels. It is expected to be over by the first week of September.

As far as the demand about the condition of passing matric-level Punjabi for recruitment in the university is concerned, the university has clarified that this condition had never been withdrawn.

Regarding the demand to restore the Punjabi paper for B Sc medical and non-medical students, it has been decided to not change the decision in view of the overburden on science students. This decision has the backing of a section of students too.


 

Unemployed ETT teachers observe fast
Tribune Reporters

Moga, August 8
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union observed fast in front of the local Congress office on the Amritsar road here today. The state president of the union, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, and the state general secretary of the Diet Students Welfare Association, Mr Buta Singh, led the protesters.

Earlier, the union members held a meeting at Nachhatar Singh Memorial Hall and took out a rally on the GT Road that culminated in front of the Congress office where they started fast.

Mr Sidhu said observing fast was only a way to protest against the state government and if it didn’t pay heed to their demands, they would intensify the stir and Congress ministers would be ‘gheraoed’.

Mr Buta Singh said the struggle would continue till the government started regular appointments. Contractual appointments were not acceptable to them and if the need be they would not hesitate from quitting contractual posts, they said.

JALANDHAR: The police canecharged agitating unemployed elementary teachers and members of the District Institute of Elementary Training (DIET) Students’ Welfare Association near Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today. Four teachers were injured in the incident. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital.

The protesters were canecharged while they were on way to stage dharna in front of the residence of local MP Rana Gurjit Singh here. Later, they stage-dharna in front of the residence of Punjab Revenue Minister Amarjit Singh Samra.

They were protesting against the decision of the state government to appoint teachers on contractual basis, Mr Beant Singh, president of the union, alleged the state government was shirking its social responsibility by doing so. The statewide agitation would continue till the demand to appoint teachers on regular basis was met, he added.

The injured were identified as Ajmer Singh, Kamal Mehboob, Jasdeep and Jagjit.

MALOUT (MUKTSAR): ETT teachers staged dharna and observed fast outside the residence of local MLA Nathu Ram. The dharna was staged under the aegis of the Berojgaar Elementary Teachers Union, the Navniyukt ETT Teachers Union and the Diet Welfare Association.

Addressing the protesters, district president of the Berojgaar Elementary Teachers Union Avtar Batth warned the state government if their demands were not met, they would observe August 15 as slavery day. Mr Kulwinder Singh and Mr Surinder Singh, teacher leaders, also spoke on the occasion. Their demands include abolition of contract system of employment. Ten women teachers sat on chain fast.

BATHINDA: Hundreds of members of the Unemployed ETT Teachers Union and other unions, including the Kisan Union and the Majdoor Union, observed fast and held a demonstration in front of the house of Finance Minister, Surinder Singla here today.

The members of these unions said they had been holding agitation to lodge their protest against the state government’s move to recruit teachers on contractual basis, despite the fact that the Centre Government had said that teachers should not be so recruited.

They alleged that instead of redressing the genuine grievances of the Unemployed ETT teachers, the state government had been trying to muffle their voice by resorting to lathi charge as happened in Jalandhar on August 1.

Sangrur: Members of the district unit of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union and district unit of the DIET Students Welfare Association (DSWA) today took out a protest march and staged dharna in front of the residence of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at Lehragaga. The members also observed a fast in support of their demands.

Protesting against the contractual appointment of teachers by the Punjab Government they demanded withdrawal of “false cases” registered against the students leaders at Jalandhar. They also raised slogans against the government, demanding regular appointment of teachers.

Malkiat Singh Kuthala, Mandip Singh Dhuri, Kulwinder Singh Jahangir, Jatinder Saggu, Harmandeep Punnewal, Neetu Chhabra, Sumandeep, Rajpal Singla, Nikki and Jaswinder Kaur observed fast.

The protesters were addressed, among others, by Mr Mohinder Pal Singh Kaleke, district president of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, Mr Jagtar Singh Ilwal, president of DSWA Mr Hari Singh Tarak and Mr Sukhbir Singh. 


 

Need for effective teaching emphasised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 8
Addressing a seminar-cum-workshop on effective teaching in classroom organised by Divine Light International School at Sirhind today, Mr D.R. Vij, said first we should know why the need for effective teaching arose. He said one should be proud of his profession.

He said a teacher’s personality and his teaching were interrelated. He said teachers should not feel proud of their qualifications and methods of teaching and should come to the mental level of their students.

He said that one should not feel ashamed of his profession. He said a teacher should feel relaxed, cheerful and happy and should have positive attitude.

He said effective teaching needed the abilities to captivate student audience for long time, move them emotionally, instill in them love for subjects, motivate them to work on their own and create the desire to learn more. He said we should keep growing as a professional and as a person.


 

Scholarship offer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Punjab Government College Retired Teachers’ Welfare Association has decided to offer scholarships to 10 poor and deserving students.

In a statement issued here today, the president of the association, Prof Sarwan Singh said a sum of Rs 500 would be given to those deserving students who had a domicile of Punjab and were studying in any degree or professional college in the state.

The needy students could apply on a prescribed form, which would be available from Prof P.K. Bhalla (H. No: 1292, Sector 15-B) and Prof S.P. Dhawan (H. No. 2280, Sector 35-C) in Chandigarh till August 31. The form would be available free of cost, the statement added.


 

Teachers’ dharna on August 27
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 8
The Democratic Teachers Front has decided to organise a dharna and demonstration outside the office of the Block Education Primary Officer, Khuyiansarwer on August 27. The decision was taken at a meeting held here today, Mr Sham Sunder Sharma block president of the Front presided.

The meeting alleged that the state government had not been able to select permanent BEPOs on merit basis for the past five years and some of the centre head teachers had been posted flouting rules, regulations and academic ethics. The Front alleged that the DA for January 2002 and July 2003 had not been withdrawn so far. Teachers were allegedly forced to complete the Recurring Deposit accounts and registers of the Post Offices. The Income Tax Department had reportedly imposed heavy penalty on the office of the BEPO for serious lapses but teachers were allegedly forced to share the burden.

Salary of some teachers was withheld. Instalment of the RD account was deducted arbitrarily before depositing the salary of the government teachers for July in the bank.

The Front regretted that irregularities in the BEPO office were brought to the notice of the SDM and the District Education Officer but no action was started.


 

Institute defies order
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research yesterday defied government directive on fee hike in the nursing institute under it. Mr Dilmegh Singh Secretary, SGPC, said here that the GNM nursing course under its medical institute was asked to hike fee from Rs 15,000 to Rs 35,000 for its three-year course. Directions to increase the fee had come from the state Medical Education Department.


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