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President, PM to attend quadricentennial
celebrations: CM

Installation of Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here today to preside over a meeting of advisory committee to review arrangements for quadricentennial celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib, confirmed the participation of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in the ceremony on September 1.

Lashing out at SAD president Parkash Singh Badal at the press conference, the Chief Minister said before asking the state to block all water to neighboring states of Haryana and Rajasthan, he should first block all water supply to his farmhouse in Balasar and Sriganganagar.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state-level committee at its earlier meeting held at Chandigarh last month put forth certain proposals, including the setting up of a national institute or a research centre for Guru Granth studies in Punjab, international seminar/conference on Guru Granth Sahib, issue a commemorative stamp, establishing five chairs of Guru Granth Sahib studies at Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Nagpur, complete and comprehensive translation of Guru Granth Sahib, setting up national award of Rs 5 lakh for original writings/research on Guru Granth Sahib, retrieval of the old scriptures and their preservation, opening a corridor for Kartarpur in Pakistan for visa-less access, summit of world spiritual leaders, Punjabi-English/Hindi dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib, establishment of Guru Granth Sahib Bhavans at all state headquarters, burying a capsule for posterity, putting up pillars along the highways and crossings with sayings from Guru Granth Sahib, setting up of three memorial gardens and award of scholarships to promising Dalit students.

The Chief Minister that he would take up all proposals discussed at today’s meeting with the national committee constituted under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the celebrations on August 23 at New Delhi.

Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh visited and inspected the venue of ‘Parkash Sammelan’ at New Amritsar, the proposed Guru Granth Sahib Marg from Gurdwara Ramsar to the Golden Temple and complex of Punjabi Virsa Vihar. He also paid obeisance at Durgiana Mandir and evinced keen interest in the kar sewa of gold plating of the tombs.

The Chief Minister ruled out the media reports regarding the revival of terrorism and said that law and order situation in the state was under control and intelligence wing of the police department was keeping a strict vigil on the activities of anti-national and anti-social elements.

 

Haq for changes in buffer zone around Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Prof Eman-ul-Haq, one-man commission of UNESCO on an assessment visit to Golden Temple with regard to declaring it a world heritage site, would send the copy of ‘assessment report’ to the Chief Minister. The report would be presented to UNESCO in September.

Prof Haq at a meeting with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today made certain observations and sought the state government and SGPC’s cooperation to undertake certain amendments and alterations in the buffer zone around the Golden Temple.

The Chief Minister said the government was proposing to rename the buffer zone as the ‘heritage protection site zone’. Apart from this, he also proposed to set up a ‘heritage development authority’ on the pattern of Patiala. On the deplorable condition of the corridor (galiara) around the temple complex, he said his government would take up the issue of release of the sanctioned amount of Rs 55 crore for the phases IV and V of the galiara project that have been hanging fire since years.

Ms Gurmeet Rai, Director, Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative, a firm that is providing technical assistance to the SGPC on conservation also attended the meeting. She said according to the Chief Minister the ordinance linked to the Punjab Regional and Town Planning Act, that became a legislation on May 6 last year, would be used for planning and implementation of development in the areas around the Golden Temple. This is for the first time that the Act that has only been used for urban planning and developing extensions of old cities would be used for ‘renewing’ development in and around the Golden Temple. This is for the first time that the Act that has only been used for urban planning and developing extensions of old cities would be used for ‘renewing’ development in and around the Golden Temple.

 

Where does money Punjab gets from Centre go?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
A search has begun for big money — about Rs 1,500 crore — that has given Punjab under various Centrally sponsored schemes and projects or institutionally funded projects that went missing, probably diverted with impunity towards meeting the state’s committed expenditure — pay, pension, interest repayment. The amount involved dates back from the year 1994-95.

Earlier too, a huge sum, around Rs 2,400 crore, given to the state by the Reserve Bank of India as cash credit limit for procurement of foodgrains, was

“Misutilised’’ for meeting essential expenditure. This is explicitly stated in the “White Paper’’ on the state’s finances brought out in March, 2002, placing the blame at the door-step of the previous SAD-BJP government. But before a new separate food account was opened for procurement on instructions from the RBI, more ‘’irregularities’’ have been committed even by the present Congress Government. The present estimate of food account money ‘’gone missing’’ was around Rs 4,500 crore!

Therefore, the Finance Department has now got cracking to track down the Centre’s money — around Rs 1,500 crore. ‘’We hope to complete this task well before the close of the current financial year, say in about three months from now. Hopefully, we will meet some of our requirements to spare money for development’’. This was all the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, was willing to say on the subject.

For quite some time, due to tight financial position, whatever money Punjab received under various Centrally sponsored schemes and projects or from institutions was withheld. It was neither passed on to the departments concerned nor would the state contribute its share. Consequently, utilisation certificates could not be submitted to the Centre to maintain the cyclic flow of money.

This persistent practice pushed the state into the vortex of ‘’defaulter’’. All development came to a grinding halt. Punjab began to top the chart among all states showing fiscal fatigue and distress due to low tax rates and faulty monitoring and collections. So much so it even failed to implement its successive annual plans.

Today Punjab has the distinction of being one unique state where the government has either failed or refused to implement its own decisions, though cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Fiscal Management, headed by the Chief Minister.

Punjab cannot be expected to get any economic package or financial relief from the Centre unless it improved its own house-keeping, which it was politically unwilling to do, while bureaucrats whiled away their time. Talk with a cross-section of the political executive and bureaucrats today revealed that solution to the state’s problem was in Chandigarh more than in New Delhi in terms of governance, administrative and other reforms, economic stagnation, financial mess, stalled development, plateauing farm-factory production, poor infrastructure etc.

‘’Unless Punjab leant to govern itself and focus on the following aspects, things could simply fly out of hand’’, remarked a senior bureaucrat. The need was to improve quality of service delivery corresponding to increased user charges in social sector. Of late, as observed by the World Bank, service delivery has suffered badly. ‘’Punjab is placed at number 11 in the quality of service delivery across 16 states. In education it is at the bottom, in drinking water facilities at number 14, in transport and public distribution system at number 10, though it is at number three in health.

In education and health, the state needed to replace the existing institutional systems with more cost-effective and efficient mechanism, rather than sinking money in the existing cost-ineffective and inefficient system. The same was true of the power sector. In all these, outsourcing, public-private partnership, decentralisation and community participation was imperative.

Punjab, it transpired during interaction at different levels in the government, lagged behind in giving effect to decisions already taken by the Cabinet Committee on Fiscal Management (there is a move to re-designate it as Cabinet Committee on Economic Management), which also encompassed such of the steps as administrative reforms involving assimilation and elimination of departments, framing rules for voluntary retirement scheme, for surplus pool staff’s adjustment and re-deployment, for implementing new pension schemes, making appropriate use of the master manpower register and planning for future requirements of the staff in the government.

In fact, as the World Bank Punjab Development Report says, there was no shortage of good policy recommendations. A number of useful reports already exist, including the White Paper, studies by the National Institution of Finance and Policy in 1994, 1998, report of the Punjab Public Expenditure Reforms Commission, 2002, World Bank’s note on ‘’Some Key Reform Challenges’’ 2003, Experts’ Group’s report on power sector reforms, 2003, bank report on ‘’Revitalising Punjab’s Agriculture’’, 2003, and the state’s own report on Disinvestments, 2002, to name a few.

In this backdrop Mr Surinder Singla, who was earlier Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Fiscal Reforms and is now the Finance Minister, must have had a close look at fiscal management or otherwise in his previous assignment. Perhaps he also must have prepared some reports for the government, about which not much is known.

Punjab Food Supplies Department has prepared an exhaustive note for the Centre to seek pending dues amounting to nearly Rs 4,000 crore, spent by the state procurement agencies to buy foodgrains on behalf of the Food Corporation of India, which was not clearing the dues.

Thus the onus now was on Mr Singla to get what was due from the Centre and also to convince his Cabinet colleagues to take some ‘’hard’’ decisions or at least implement what was already decided upon in the larger interest of the state, rather than living with a myopic vision focused only on the vote bank!

 

Villagers invite Verma to see their plight
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Morinda, August 18
While landless labourers, workers and other poor sections of society have tried hard to break themselves free from the age-old poverty in villages like Doomcheri, Ballan, Kajauli etc, near here, what has been hurting them most is the Punjab Government’s “ non-caring “ attitude towards them.

One daily comes through several statements of ministers, and other government officers regarding poverty alleviation programmes and schemes meant for the welfare of poor sections of society especially Dalits.” What has saddened us that no officer of the Punjab Government and even of the district administration visited us to see what we have been ourselves doing to defeat poverty”, said a member of a self help group of Doomcheri village. “Even a small word of praise from any senior officer of the state Government would have done a lot to boost our morale”, say members of group.

“There can be no better example to prove how our ruling politicians and bureaucracy have been keeping aloof from poor sections of society in the countryside”, said another member of such a group.

“We have heard a lot about various government schemes to help poor people, especially those who are below the poverty line in rural and urban areas. But no official agency has time to work at the grass root level to implement such schemes. Officers have to work hard, which they are not ready to do, for the successful implementation of any scheme. Moreover, corruption has been preventing the implementation of such schemes”, said a senior functionary of a self-help group of Kajauli village.

Their disappointment regarding the “ non-caring” attitude of official and political machinery is very much visible. Mr Gurmail Singh, Sarpanch of Doomcheri village and member of one of the self groups, met the Governor at the Raj Bhavan here. He briefed the Governor about the efforts being made by poor sections of society, especially Dalits in his and other nearby villages to overcome poverty. He was invited to the Punjab Raj Bhavan by the Governor.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Gurmail Singh requested the Governor to visit his village as it would be a source of inspiration for their ongoing battle against poverty. Justice Verma told him that he would ask the Punjab Government to send some minister to the village.

Instantly, Mr Gurmail Singh declined to accept such a suggestion from the Governor. He again request the Governor that he and other poor people of the village would be happy to receive him in their village.

Mr Gurmail Singh says that he, along with other members of the self groups, is eagerly waiting for a response from the Raj Bhavan.

 

Punjab Govt fails to act on Army advice
Steps to prevent damage to border fencing
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 18
The state government has failed to act on the Army advice for taking measures to prevent damage to the fencing on the Indo-Pak border. Lieut-General Hari Prasad in a letter written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in December, 2003, had urged for the immediate construction of the embankments/ stone studs at the Lasian enclave. The enclave is an 8.5x2.5 km area bounded by the Ravi from the south and Ujh river from the east on the Indo-Pak border near Pathankot.

He had stated in his letter that over a period of time due to changing course of the said rivers, massive soil erosion was taking place in the enclave decreasing its parameters. The erosion is not only damaging the fencing on the border, but also Army and BSF posts. The enclave is of strategic importance to Army. The outposts here are guarded by the BSF to check infiltration and smuggling from Pakistan. Already due to soil erosion about 30 meters of the fencing has been damaged making the vigil difficult for the BSF men posted there.

The sources in the Army said erosion in the enclave has increased over the past few years as the Pakistan had constructed an embankment to protect its areas from flood waters of Ujh river. The embankment constructed by Pakistan was 15 feet high and 6 km long. Due to the said embankment the Ujh river water flows back into the Indian territory after striking with the embankment causing massive erosion in the enclave.

The Army authorities had suggested to the Punjab Government to construct studs and embankments on the Indian side to stop the soil erosion in the enclave area. It would also prevent damage to border fencing and the BSF outposts in the areas, they said.

Following the letter from Lieut-General Hari Prasad, the Punjab Government directed the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, to work an estimate for the construction of the studs and embankments in the said enclave.

The Deputy Commissioner in a letter written to the Principal Secretary (irrigation) on March 5, 2004, had sent an estimate of Rs 4.10 crore for the project.

 

Accident victim kicked by cop, dies in hospital
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
Showing utter disregard to human life, a PCR cop of the Phagwara police allegedly kicked an accident victim several times in his chest besides abusing him instead of arranging medical care for him near Capital Bank, on National Highway No 1, Phagwara, late last night.

All pleas of the victim, Vijay Kumar alias Dimpu of Janakpuri, Ludhiana that he was in deep pain and had done nothing wrong fell on deaf ears. Some passersby came to his rescue and shifted him to civil hospital here but could not save him.

The victim, a 20-year-old BA final year student and son of a dairy owner, died of multiple fractures in his ribs. It is yet to be ascertained whether he suffered injuries in the accident or later due to the beating by the policeman, who was identified as Head Constable Sukhdev Singh.

Vijay was returning from Chintpurni late last night with a friend, Amandeep, also from Ludhiana, on a motor cycle. Amandeep Singh, a witness to the shocking episode, has given a written statement in this regard to the Phagwara police. The police has, however, not registered any case against the policeman and had proceeded under Section 174 of the CrPC only.

According to Amandeep Vijay who was driving the bike reportedly dozed off due to long travelling and lost control of the vehicle. The bike jumped off the road divider and both of them were thrown several feet away.

A PCR cop, Sukhdev Singh saw them lying on the road and took them as drug addicts and started abusing them. Amandeep who had suffered injuries on his arms and legs tried to convince him that they had met with an accident but Sukhdev refused to listen. He then started kicking Vijay in his chest directing him to get up and called him an addict.

Vijay reportedly begged for mercy. The statement of Amandeep says that he repeatedly cried, “mother save me, please” but the cop refused to listen.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom fell on Street No. 5 Janakpuri here where the victim lived. His father Kulwant Singh said, initially the police was not recording the statement of Amandeep regarding the inhuman behaviour of the policeman but agreed only when they contacted senior officers.

He has demanded stringent punishment for the accused.

 

Railway man faces harassment for exposing ‘corruption’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 18
Mr Mohinder Singh, an employee of the Indian Railways, has been repenting the moment when he wrote to the higher railway authorities and other agencies of the Central Government, about more than two years ago, regarding corrupt practices being followed in a section of the divisional office of the Indian Railways here.

Instead of getting any reward for exposing corruption in a section of the finance wing of the divisional office here, he has been allegedly undergoing harassment continuously since then. Besides, neither any agency of the Central Government nor the higher railway authorities have taken his complaints to their logical end.

Mr Mohinder Singh in his repeated complaints to the railway authorities, including a Union Minister, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the President of India, alleged that a section of officials of the finance wing of the local divisional office had been taking commission while making payments of items purchased by the department and from the contractors for the works executed by them.

Though the Secretariat of the President of India had informed him that his complaint had been sent to the minister concerned for appropriate action, he has been in the dark as to what action had been taken in the matter so far.

After finding that his harassment will continue, he has not been attending his office for the past many weeks. He apprehends danger to his life from those against whom he had levelled allegations of committing financial irregularities. He had written to the Union Minister that he would be able to attend the office only when the corrupt employees were brought to book. He had demanded a CBI probe into the veracity of his complaint.

Interestingly, a senior official of the finance wing of the local divisional office issued a charge sheet to Mr Mohinder Singh, who has won a number of appreciation certificates, including meritorious service certificate-2003, by holding him guilty of using disrespectful language and sending/lodging complaints without routing these through the proper channel besides other allegations.

Mr Chander Mohan Jindal, Senior Divisional Finance Manager, Ferozepore, who issued the charge sheet, denied all allegations levelled by Mr Mohinder Singh, adding that the latter was mentally disturbed for the past one year and hence he had been making false complaints to the higher railway authorities and other government agencies. He demanded a CBI inquiry into the allegations levelled by Mr Mohinder Singh.

He said Mr Mohinder Singh had been charge-sheeted as he was absenting himself from work without any authorisation. He should have not approached the higher railway authorities and other agencies directly, as he was required to file complaints through the proper channel.

 

Independent MLA to join Cong today
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 18
Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, local MLA, who defeated Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi and SAD nominee Mohan Singh Bangi, by contesting as SAD rebel candidate in the last assembly elections from this seat, is likely to join the Congress tomorrow at Chandigarh.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Sidhu would join the Congress in the presence of state Congress President H.S. Hanspal and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

A function in this connection would be held at Congress Bhavan, Chandigarh, and a section of senior Congress ministers would attend the same.

Though Mr Sidhu, when contacted, neither denied his joining the Congress nor confirmed the same, he said that he was really impressed with the stand taken by Capt Amarinder Singh on the SYL canal issue. He added that so far no Chief Minister had dared to take such a bold step to protect the interests of Punjab.

He added that history would not be made on the fact that which person remained chief minister of Punjab for what time, the history would record the fact that which chief minister did what for Punjab.

He pointed out that one day when Capt Amarinder Singh asked him about his political programme in future, he said that he would support him (Capt Amarinder Singh).

Though an inquiry into the official conduct of Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), who is also father of Mr Sidhu, was launched after Capt Amarinder Singh became Chief Minister and launched a crusade against corruption, the relations of Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu remained cordial with Capt Amarinder Singh.

Though Capt Amarinder Singh remained elusive to a large section of party workers whenever he visited this area, he gave due regard to Mr Sidhu at public functions. Mr Sidhu also used to fly with Capt Amarinder Singh in a chopper whenever the Chief Minister made a visit to this area.

Political observers feel that if this development takes place, it would change the political alignments in the Malwa region which is being considered as traditional stronghold.

 

Cong not in favour of poll pact with CPM
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 18
President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) H.S. Hanspal said that the state unit was not in favour of aligning with the CPM for the forthcoming byelections in three Assembly constituencies in the state.

The PPCC chief said this while talking to the media persons at the residence of Baba Rajinder Singh Johal, president of the Congress Committee (Rural), here today. He said this in reaction to the announcement of the CPM candidate from Garhshankar yesterday. Mr Hanspal said that the CPM made such a declaration without having a word with him or any other party official.

Mr Hanspal said that the Congress did not feel the need of alignment with the party for the elections and would announce its own candidate from Garhshankar. He said that the message in this regard would be conveyed to the party high command for a final decision in this regard.

In reaction to the recent demand of the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to hold a special Assembly session to bring about amendment to the Termination of Waters Agreements Act, Mr Hanspal said that his plea had been refuted.

 

Malta tragedy: relief sought for victims’ families
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 18
The khula darbar being organised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can go a long way in solving the problems of those who had suffered at the hands of bureaucrats. This was stated by Mr Balwant Singh Kherra, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, while talking to mediapersons here this evening.

He said members of the mission would participate in the khula darbar and apprise the Prime Minister of the callous and insensitive attitude of the state government and the Centre towards the tragedy. He said neither Parliament nor the Punjab Assembly had discussed the issue. Mr Kherra urged the Prime Minister to order the retrieval of the remains of the victims from the sea, the establishment of a memorial and the payment of adequate compensation to the families of the victims. Mr Kherra demanded stern punishment for international human traffickers, including their local henchmen, working as travel agents. He asked the Union Government to become a party in the cases, going on in courts in Italy, Greece and Malta and in the country. He condemned the partisan role of the NRI Association, Punjab, which had paid Rs 5 lakh each to each the next of kin of Indian hostages in Iraq. He said a dharna would be organised at Nehru Garden in Jalandhar on September 1 to highlight the problems of the victims’ families.

 

Homage paid to first Kargil hero
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD), the Defence Services Officers Association (DSOA) and the Amritsar Welfare Society today paid homage to Major Baljit Singh Randhawa of Rajput battalion who sacrificed his life while capturing formidable hill “Crooked Finger” in the Kargil sector on May 17, 1965. Major Randhawa was decorated with Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.

The RRD and the DSOA organised a function and paid floral tributes to the martyr. The president of the RRD, Colonel Bal said during the 1965 war Pakistan troops infiltrated into our areas and occupied the hill vacated by our troops in December, 1964. Major Randhawa led his battalion attack uphill and without caring about his life recaptured the hill.

 

Cop poorer by Rs 4,000 as bank gives ATM card to wrong person
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 18
A classic case of mistaken identity cost a Punjab police employee Rs 4,000. The local branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) gave his ATM card to another person having a similar name who withdrew the amount from his account. Though the police has registered a case of fraud, nobody has been arrested in this connection.

The complainant, Mr Sukhmandar Singh, son of Mr Jaswant Singh, is a Punjab police employee here. He holds an account in the local branch of the SBI.

He said he had applied for an ATM card, but he didn’t get it for long. He also met bank officials in this regard, but they kept delaying the matter. They also made him apply afresh, but to no avail.

Mr Sukhmandar Singh said he had over Rs 9,000 in his account and he filled a voucher for withdrawal of Rs 7,000 on July 15, but he was taken aback when bank officials told him that he had only Rs 5,000 in his account.

Investigations revealed that Rs 4,000 had been withdrawn from his account through the ATM card on June 25 and that another Punjab police employee having a similar name, Sukhmandar Singh, son of Mr Chanan Singh, had got the complainant’s ATM card and he had allegedly withdrawn the said amount.

The bank sends the ATM card through post and the account holder has to take the secret code from the bank personally.

According to sources, an account holder is given this code after a proper verification of his account. The photograph and signature of an account holder are also matched.

The bank manager, Mr P.C. Arora, said there was no negligence on the part of the bank in this case. He said the other Sukhmandar Singh used to visit their bank and he also had his salary account here.

 

State award for blood donor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Mrs Jaswant Kaur, who earned name and fame as an avid blood donor and social activist, has been presented with a state award by the Punjab Government for the current year. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh gave her the award on Independence Day function at Hoshiarpur.

Besides a gold medal, she has been given a cash award of Rs 11,000 and also a shawl and commendation certificate. Mrs Jaswant Kaur, a native of Rampura Phul in Bathinda district and presently employed in the Animal Husbandry Department of the Punjab Government, has donated blood over 40 times along with her husband, Mr Balwant Singh. In fact, this couple celebrates their wedding anniversary by donating blood every year. Her son Amardeep and daughter Sandeep have also donated blood 20 and 10 times, respectively.

She has organised about 33 blood donation camps to collect about 6000 units of blood for the PGI and other important hospitals. Along with her husband, she has pledged that after death her body should be donated to the PGI for medical research. She has also been motivating people to fill forms to donate eyes. She has been organising health education programmes for people at camps to make them aware about dreaded diseases like AIDS. She is also a recipient of Bhai Khanaiya and Baba Farid Award.

 

Clash between farmers, traders averted
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha (Muktsar), August 18
Even as a clash among the farmers and the traders, who held separate rallies against each other here, was averted by the local administration by handling the situation tactfully, a large number of commercial establishments, including tea kiosks, remained closed in support of the traders.

While members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) held a rally to lodge their protest against the alleged attack made on them by a section of the traders a few days ago, when they were protesting against the sale of spurious cottonseeds to a farmer by a local trader, the traders, who had come from all parts of the state, held the rally to express their solidarity with the local traders and to lodge their protest against the “high-handedness” of the farmers in dealing with the traders.

Leaving nothing to chance, the district administration had made foolproof arrangements to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn.

The entire town was converted into a police cantonment and a number of senior officials of Muktsar district were camping in the town since early morning.

The situation had become tense after the traders announced that they would also hold a rally to counter the rally to be held by the farmers.

The farmers had announced that they would hold a rally in front of the office of the SDM. The traders held a rally in the town.

Addressing the rally, the leaders of the BKU demanded that all those traders who were involved in an attack made on a section of farmers on the day when the latter lodged their protest against the sale of spurious cottonseeds should be booked in a criminal case.

Besides, the farmer, who had suffered on account of growing spurious cottonseeds, should be given a suitable compensation and the tractors belonging to the farmers, which were impounded by the police on the day when they were attacked by the traders, should be released immediately. They also demanded that a police official posted at the local police station should be transferred immediately.

The traders alleged that a section of the members of the BKU were trying to extort money from them. They added that they were now fed up as they had been facing such a situation for the past many years. They said that they would not allow the same thing to happen again. It is learnt that Mr Narinder Singh Bath, SDM, succeeded in defusing the situation as he managed to pacify the BKU leaders. Mr Bath promised to the BKU leaders that their tractors would be released immediately. He also promised that action against the traders would be taken as per the law and as per the medical report. He also asked the BKU leaders to lodge a proper complaint against the trader for his involvement in the sale of spurious cottonseeds so that it could be processed by the officials of the Agriculture Department.

The local administration persuaded both the traders and the farmers to lift their respective dharnas.

 

Relief supplies flagged off
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
The Congress activists led by Punjab Youth Congress general secretary Vijay Inder Singla today flagged off trucks to Delhi, for the distribution of foodgrains to the flood-affected areas in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, he said the social service was being done on a call given by the Indian Youth Congress president Randeep Singh Surjewala.

He said the wheat collected will be flagged off alongwith other foodgrain by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 20.

 

10 injured in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
Nearly 10 persons were injured when a Chandigarh-bound PRTC bus overturned near Ghabdan village on the Sangrur-Patiala road, 8 km from here, today.

The police said the bus overturned when its driver lost control over it, while overtaking a truck. Some injured persons were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The injured persons were allowed to go home in the afternoon, according to a doctor.

The injured persons included Mr Atma Singh, Mr Bachan Singh, Ms Amarjit Kaur, Ms Dayawanti, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Ms Ishro and Mr Sukhdev Singh.

 

Rs 50,000 returned to owner
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 18
An activist of a non-government organisation (NGO) Mr Balwinder Singh Bittu found a bag which contained Rs 50,000. He returned the amount to the owner.

It was learnt here yesterday that Ms Swaran Kaur of Naurangpur village had come for shopping here.

She also made purchases from the shop of Mr Bittu but forgot her bag at his shop.

On finding an unclaimed bag in his shop Mr Bittu told helpers to open the bag to their surprise they found rupees 50,000 in it. They returned the bag and the money to Ms Swaran Kaur. 

 

Scrap NRI quota, says IMA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) appealed the state government to scrap NRI quota in all three medical colleges of the state.

Dr R.C. Garg, state secretary of the Punjab, IMA, said that commercialisation of medical education in Punjab should be stopped.

 

Sikh body to meet Takht chief today
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 18
The Sikh Nation Organisation has fixed a meeting with Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti for tomorrow to discuss Sikh issues and the ban on turban and religious symbols in schools of France.

The president of the organisation, Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa Bholeke, said the controversial law, which would take effect from September 1, used coercion on French Sikh children to go bareheaded to schools opening in the first week of September.

The organisation had filed a petition with United Nations against the Government of France on March 17, which was admitted by the UNO under 1503 Procedure. 

 

Appeal to replace hanging with lethal injection
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 18
The Forum for Common Cause today appealed to the Union Law Minister and the National Human Rights Commission that the procedure of executing offenders by hanging should be replaced with administering intravenous lethal injection.

The president of the forum Mohinder Singh Walia said, “Execution is a judicial punishment and it should be decent.” He said even the Law Commission of India had come out with a report favouring this mode of death.

The United Nations Economic and Social Counsel and General Assembly in 1984 had suggested that death sentence should be carried out in such that it inflicted minimum possible suffering.

 

High Court
DSPs' selection: Punjab Govt asked to file reply
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the Punjab Government to file reply by Friday to an application moved by one of the petitioners in the ongoing case concerning alleged irregularities in the selection of Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) by the Punjab Government under sports quota.

In his application, Jaskaran Singh Brar, has sought permission to place on record some document concerning the case. Among the documents sought to be placed on record are some notings on the Sports Department file regarding the selection as well as directives issues by various officials, including the Chief Minister. The documents include the advice of a law officer of Punjab, who has said that the selections are bad in law and it would be difficult to defend them in the court.

Today, advocate M.P. Goswami, counsel for the petitioner, stated that the documents, which are photocopies of the file and other relevant record, not produced in the court despite directions, were sent through post to him.

He said that the documents exposed the mala fide of the Punjab Government in not producing the entire record concerning the selections in the court Poll petition Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court on Wednesday dismissed the election petition filed by Manpreet Singh, the defeated Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate from Banur constituency. In his petition, Mr Manpreet Singh had sought setting aside of the election of former Punjab Finance Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh from the seat in the last Assembly elections.

Poll petititon

Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court on Wednesday dismissed the election petition filed by Manpreet Singh, the defeated Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate from Banur constituency. In his petition, Mr Manpreet Singh had sought setting aside of the election of former Punjab Finance Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidate Capt Kanwaljit Singh from the seat in the last Assembly elections.

 

3 brothers jailed for life in murder case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 18
Three brothers Satnam Singh, Gurwinder Singh and Rajinder Singh residents here have been sentenced to life for the murder of Sanjiv Kumar of Mehli Gate here, it was learnt here yesterday. District and Sessions Judge Kapurthala Sham Sunder Gupta awarded the sentence and fined them Rs 2000 each. Sanjiv Kumar and his brother Suresh Kumar owned a factory in Mehli Gate. Their relations with their neighbours — Troika were not cordial.

The three brothers assaulted two brothers on October 10,2001 and injured. Sanjiv Kumar succumbed to the injuries at DMC Ludhiana on October 19. The police later added Section 302 of the IPC to the other Sections of the IPC i.e. 323, 324, 452, 34 in the case.

 

Farmers hold protest rally
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
On a call given by state the working committee, a large number of farmers, led by the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, held a protest rally against the anti-farmer policies of the state government at Company Garden here today.

Later they presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in connection with their demands. The Border Sangharash Committee and the Kisan Union, Atari, also supported their agitation.

Mr Najar Singh, Mr Raghubir Singh, Dr Satnam Singh, state president, secretary and district president of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, respectively, while addressing the farmers criticised the Central and state governments for a marginal increase of Rs 10 in the paddy MSP. They alleged the government was showing reluctance to issue compensation to drought-hit areas. They also condemned the government for increasing petrol and diesel prices.

The farmer leaders demanded the paddy MSP as Rs 720, to fix interest rate of loans to farmers at 4 per cent and to provide free water and electricity to the farmers.

 

Sub-standard pesticide ruins crop
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 18
Sub-standard pesticides are taking a toll on the cotton crop of farmers, already bearing the brunt of drought-like conditions prevailing in the region. One such instance is of a small farmer of Nangal village, Mr Kewal Singh, whose cotton crop spread over three acres was destroyed after he sprayed a sub-standard pesticide on it.

In a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kewal Singh stated that he had only three acres to earn his livelihood from. He said he had bought a pesticide from a shop at Kotkapura. He sprayed this pesticide on his crop, which started wilting and soon the whole crop was ruined.

When he told the shopkeeper about the damage, he asked him to come to the shop next day, but did not help him. Mr Kewal Singh later approached Agriculture Department officials and showed them his crop. He sought compensation for his losses and demanded strict action against the company concerned.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, has asked the Chief Agriculture Officer, Mr B.S. Chahal, to probe the matter and submit a report to him. Mr Chahal said the department had taken samples of the pesticide and if these failed, strict action would be taken against the firm concerned.

 

Pesticide dealers observe strike
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 18
The Pesticide and fertiliser dealers of this town today observed a strike to protest against the harassment meted out to them by officials of the state Agriculture Department.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, president, Muktsar Pesticide and Fertiliser Dealers Association, while talking to The Tribune alleged that yesterday a team of Agriculture Department officials descended on this town and started taking samples of the pesticides being sold by the dealers.

He added that dealers started objecting when the officials took more than one samples from a single shop without making payment of the same. He said that by doing so, the officials violated the rules

When the officials did not listen to their complaints, the shopkeepers raised slogans against them and downed their shutters. He said that a meeting of the association would be held tomorrow to work out the further course of action.

 

286 encroachment cases pending
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 18
At least 286 cases of encroachment on government land are pending with the local courts, out of which a maximum number of 44 cases have been filed by the Forest Department while stating this, Mr Ranjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the heads concerned of various departments had been instructed to pursue these cases in the judicial courts.

He said any official showing negligence or a shack approach in pursuing these cases would be dealt with strictly and departmental action would be initiated against him. He said some of these cases of encroachment on government land had been pending for a long time due to lack of interest shown by the government department concerned.

Forest Department officials said in some cases certain people had encroached upon land belonging to the department in connivance with officials of the Revenue Department. In some cases, girdawaris of the land belonging to the Forest Department had been changed in favour of encroachers.

Taking cognizance of the matter, the Deputy Commissioner ordered the Tehsildar, Mr Rajesh Verma, to investigate into these cases and conduct a special checking of the girdawaris of the forest land in the Hussainiwala and the Mamdot areas.

He also instructed the Revenue officials to demarcate the government land on a priority basis and take into possession the land whose cases had already been decided.

 

MC told to stop sewage flow towards IAF station
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 18
The Director (Local Government) has directed Pathankot Municipal Council to stop the flow of sewage towards the Air Force station here. He has directed the municipal council authorities to construct sedimentation tanks and install meshes within three months to stop the flow of sewage towards the Air Force Station.

The Director has initiated the action after the matter was reported in The Tribune. The Air Force authorities had been complaining since long regarding the flow of Pathankot sewage in their base here. They had alleged that due to the flow of sewage their flights were getting restricted. As the sewage was attracting birds, the Air Force authorities here were able to use just one part of their runway.

The SDM, Pathankot Mr Harminder Singh, admitted that the said directions have been issued to the Pathankot municipal council authorities.

 

DM orders removal of hoardings

Amritsar, August 18
The District Magistrate today ordered the removal of hoardings and display boards in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. In a press note issued here today, the District Magistrate, Mr Raminder Singh said the order had been passed under Section 144, CrPC, for the preparations of the installation of 400th year of Guru Granth Sahib from August 28 to September 1. — OC

 

2 travel agents booked
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 18
The cantonment police today booked two agents who allegedly duped some residents by demanding Rs 8 lakh for sending them abroad.

The two accused are Dalbir Singh, a resident of Beant Nagar, and Piara Singh, a resident of Anup Singh of Bhurmandi. The main accused, who managed to elude the police, is D.P. Gupta of New Delhi.

In the complaint filed by Mr Charanjit Singh of Gurdaspur, it has been stated that Piara Singh and Dalbir Singh had demanded Rs 10 lakh for sending him to the USA and the deal was struck at Rs 8 lakh. He said that he paid him the first instalment of Rs 4 lakh on December 16, 2000.

The complainant stated that on January 12, 2001, he received a call that his visa was ready and he should come to Jalandhar to collect it. He was also told to get the second half of payment. He said that he arranged the amount by mortgaging his agricultural land.

Mr Charanjit Singh said that he was taken to Delhi and told that his visa was for Canada and he could move to the USA through that route, to which he refused. He said that since then, he had been demanding his money back but to no avail.

 

Two crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 18
Two local residents were crushed to death by a mini-truck near Gurdwara Nanaksar opposite the New Grain Market last night.

Shagan Lal of Panjpeet Colony on the outskirts of the town and Raj Kumar and Hans Raj, residents of street 15 here, were returning home after selling prasad and other items at Dangarkhera village, 7 km from here. They had gone there on the eve of a monthly fair at Basanti Mata Mandir. When they were passing by the gurdwara, a Canter reportedly hit them.

All of them were rushed to the Civil Hospital with injuries. Shagan Lal succumbed to his injuries in the hospital, while Raj Kumar died on his way to a hospital in Ludhiana, where he was referred. Hans Raj was said to be out of danger.

The bodies of Shagan Lal and Raj Kumar were handed over to their families after poet-mortem examination. The police has registered a case under Section 330, 304A and 427 of the IPC against the driver of the Canter.

According to information, the Canter later overturned on the Abohar-Malout Road but the driver escaped leaving the vehicle.

 

DEO caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 18
District Education Officer (Primary), Mansa, Palwinder Singh, was caught red-handed today by a team of Vigilance Bureau while he was accepting bribe of Rs 2000 from Mr Nachhattar Singh, for transferring his niece Jagdishpal Kaur, a teacher, from a school located in Khiali Chailanwali to some other school.

Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, in a press note issued here today, said on getting information, Mr Vinod Chaudhary, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Mansa, laid a trap and recovered Rs 2000 from his possession in the presence of two government witnesses.

A case was registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

 

4 booked for murder
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 18
A resident of Preet Nagar here, Ajmer Singh, was murdered last night. Sources said that the deceased’s nephew was married to the accused, Anokh Singh’s daughter, while his niece was married to Anokh’s son, Mangi. Both families were involved in some dispute due to which both girls had returned to their homes.

Last night, when Ajmer was going somewhere, four persons, including Anokh Singh, waylaid him and started beating him up. He was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The police has registered a case against Anokh Singh, Mangi, Haria and Mahinder Singh under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC.

 

College students go on strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Students of Khalsa College here went on an indefinite strike today in protest against the alleged beating up of a student, Jaspal Singh, of the college by security guards of the institution. The students demanded the withdrawal of police guards from the college complex and to hold an inquiry into the alleged beating up of the student.

Gursharan Singh, president of the Students Welfare Association, Khalsa College, alleged that security staff of the college and policemen beat up the student without provocation. All students today boycotted classes and organised a protest rally in front of the Principal’s Office. They raised slogans against the Principal, Dr J.S. Dhillon. They said the strike would continue till the security guards and policemen did not apologise to the students. Gursharan Singh alleged that the college had been turned into a police station.

The students urged the management of the college to ban the entry of the police in the premises of the college and to control the security guards who misbehaved with students.

Dr Dhillon, denied the occurrence of any such incident. He said security guards had stopped the students who were fighting. He said the security guards and the police, who were unarmed, were deputed for the prevention of the entry of anti-social elements and outsiders. He said tomorrow, a meeting with students had been called in this regard.

 

Abohar topper gives credit to lecturers
Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR: Mukesh Chawla, a student of D.A.V. College here, has topped the CMC entrance test for admission to medical colleges. Earlier he had topped the state PMT and Plus 2 (Medical) examination of the Punjab School Education Board . Punjab National Bank had put banners in the city to congratulate Mukesh on his hat-trick as his father Raj Kumar Chawla was working in the main branch of the bank here. So there were jubilations in the DAV campus, housing three colleges and a senior secondary school. Assumption Convent School was also proud of Mukesh as he had done his matric there.

‘’My grandpa (mother’s father) Prem Kumar Sachdeva, who had settled in England after superannuation, had been visiting India almost each winter to encourage me to excel in studies,’’ Mukesh said in an interview as Principal B. C. Josan and senior teachers invited him to the campus to congratulate him. Mother Rekha Chawla is working as a science teacher at Swami Keshwanand Senior Secondary School here.

Mukesh said besides his parents his teachers, including Mr B. B. Sharma, Mr. V. K. Mehta and Mrs Saroj Madaan shared the credit for his achievement. Mr S. K. Dhawan, Mr. Rishi Kaushal and Mr. R. L. Raina inculcated in him moral values

He had secured 94 per cent marks in the matriculation exam of the ICSE, 92.4 per cent in the medical group in Plus two exam of the PSEB, 488 out of 600 marks in the CBSE PMT preliminary test and stood first in the state PMT with 692 out of 800 marks.

 

College told to refund fee
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 18
The Consumer Forum has asked Dashmesh Dental College to refund fee of Rs 26,000 to a BDS student along with 9 per cent interest on the same and Rs 500 as expenses borne by the complainant in the case.

The complainant, Smriti, a resident of Patiala, had taken admission to the BDS course (first year) in 2000-01 and she had deposited the tuition and hostel fee. In 2002, when Smriti was in the second year, she appeared in a test for vacant seats of the same course in Amritsar and Patiala Colleges. She got admission in Dental College, Amritsar, and asked Dashmesh Dental College to refund her fee, but the college denied the same to her. She then approached the Consumer Forum which took up her case. Later, presenting their version, the college authorities said that one seat in the college was left vacant owing to Smriti’s admission in Amritsar and, therefore, they had every right to keep the fee with them. But, the forum decided in Smriti’s favour and asked the college to pay back her fee.

 

Seminar on problems in North-West
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 18
The Department of Correspondence Courses, Punjabi University, organised a two-day seminar on “Emerging issues and problems in the North-West region of India under the new economic policy regime” in collaboration with the ICSSR, Chandigarh, at the campus here today.

The Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, presided over the seminar. Prof Harbans Singh Sidhu, Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, Mohali, presented the key-note address.

Speaking on the occasion Dr H.S. Sidhu urged the scholars of the area to ponder over the problems and challenges being faced by inhabitants of this region.

He urged researchers to take stock of the dangerous situation emerging out of the politically motivated approach of politicians and bureaucrats towards natural resources of the region.

Dr Sidhu cautioned policy-planners at the Centre that Rajasthan should not be encouraged to produce paddy and compete with Punjab on this account, simply because if it had been able to grab waters of Punjab through Indira Gandhi Canal, which should otherwise be used in Rajasthan in a judicious manner.

The other significant issues highlighted included the need to take care of quality of human resources of the state. The fact that every fourth person was unemployed clearly reflected the failure of the system.

More investment in the area of research and development in the agriculture sector and fundamental research in agricultural sciences could alone save the situation from turning into a major disaster.

Rural education needed immediate and major overhaul otherwise the widening gap in rural urban segments would destabilise the social system.

Earlier, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, Head, Correspondence Courses Department, welcoming the guests said the future plans and areas had to be identified and developed for a better economic future in a phased manner.

Dr Balbir Singh, seminar director, introducing the theme of the seminar, stated that the objective of the seminar was to assess the economy of the North-West and evaluate the impact of the new economic policy regime.

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