P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rajiv-Longowal Accord, waters issue
dominate SAD function
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sangrur), August 20
Non-implementation of the Rajiv-Longowal Accord by the Rajiv Gandhi government and issues pertaining to Punjab waters today dominated the proceedings at the 19th death anniversary function of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. It was organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) under the presidentship of its president Parkash Singh Badal at Bhai Dayala Public School here.

Besides the top leadership of the SAD, including Mr Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the function was attended by Ms Uma Bharti, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, and Mr Shah Nawaz Hussain, a former Union Minister.

Paying rich tributes to Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, Mr Badal lashed out at the Congress by saying that it was observing Sant’s death anniversary just to derive political mileage. He said this was the main reason that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, and Mr H.S. Hanspal, state Congress president, had not turned up here to pay tributes to Sant Longowal. Mr Badal also criticised the Rajiv Gandhi government for not implementing the Rajiv-Longowal Accord.

Ms Uma Bharti said she had come here to seek the blessings of Sant Longowal for the welfare of people of her state. Regarding issuance of non-bailable warrants against her by a court in Karnataka, Ms Uma Bharti said she always honoured the law of the country, but she was not ready to make any compromise on the issue of country’s honour. Mr Shah Nawaz Hussain said the martyrdom of Sant Longowal was commemorative for the entire country.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister, said as per the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, Chandigarh should have been transferred to Punjab on January 26, 1986.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Punjab Finance Minister, said Capt Amarinder Singh had got passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act to become a hero. He said by keeping sub-clause 5 of the Act, he had allowed the release of Punjab’s waters to Haryana and Rajasthan, thus he had violated the riparian laws.

Among others who paid tributes to Sant Longowal included Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Jathedar Tota Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, all MLAs; Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Chaudhary Abdul Gaffar, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, all former Punjab Ministers, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, both former presidents of the SGPC; and Mr Parkash Chand Garg, a working committee member of the SAD, among others.


Cong, Chandumajra hail Longowal, criticise Badal
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sangrur), August 20
In the absence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and his deputy Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, it was left to Finance Minister Surinder Singla to espouse the ideals of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

Comparing Sant Longowal with Rajiv Gandhi, the Finance Minister said Sant Longowal was a man of determination like Rajiv Gandhi. He said the Sant had shown tremendous fortitude in coming forward to sign the Rajiv-Longowal Accord despite stiff resistance from the fundamentalists.

Mr Singla and other speakers, who spoke at the state-level function organised to observe the martyrdom day of the Sant also highlighted the fact that it was SAD president Parkash Singh Badal who had first voiced criticism against the Rajiv-Longowal Accord. He said it was surprising that the same person who had never observed the martyrdom day function of the late Sant at the official level, was now espousing the ideals of the great leader.

Other leaders who spoke at the function included former MP Mohinder Singh Gill, Parliamentary Secretary Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, legislator Arvind Khanna and senior leader Jasbir Singh. All of them targetted Mr Badal while praising the boldness shown by the state Chief Minister in tackling the river waters issue. Mr M.S. Gill said it was surprising that Mr Badal was now demanding that all water going to Haryana and Rajasthan should be stopped when he himself had done nothing on this issue when in power. Mr Singla and other leaders also took offence to the presence of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti on the SAD stage

Meanwhile, Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh Yadav, who had come to participate at the function of the SAD (Longowal), also said Ms Uma Bharti could not give any message which could be palatable to the minorities. SAD (Longowal) president Prem Singh Chandumajra, while speaking at the conference, alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was trying to play politics by asking for amendment in the waters Act.


CM asks youth to emulate Rajiv
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today exhorted the youth to emulate Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, who envisioned India to be a superpower in the 21st century.

Paying tributes to Rajiv Gandhi on his 60th birth anniversary at a state-level function here, Capt Amarinder Singh said Rajiv Gandhi was a great visionary, who viewed that science and technology was the key to India’s prosperity. He further said the Indian economy had witnessed a sea change after the initiation of economic reforms by Rajiv Gandhi in the form of liberalisation and globalisation.

Capt Amarinder Singh earlier presented a life sized mounted photograph of Rajiv Gandhi to PPCC President H.S. Hanspal. The district Red Cross organised a blood donation camp in the memory of Rajiv Gandhi. In her address, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said Rajiv Gandhi had advocated the empowerment of women and mooted the idea of international cooperation to remove gender discrimination worldwide. The devolution of powers was a major contribution of Rajiv Gandhi to rural development, she said.

Reports of the observance of the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi were also received from Abohar, Amritsar, Barnala, Bathinda, Gurdaspur, Moga and Nawanshahr.


Birmi faction holds parallel function
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, Aug 20
Differences among Congress leaders of Punjab came to the surface today, when a faction led by Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, organised a parallel function at Jamalpur here to pay tributes to Rajiv Gandhi on his birth anniversary.

The official state-level function to observe the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi was held at another venue, where the Chief Minister was the chief guest.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh, former minister and son of Beant Singh, along with Mr Birmi, came to the venue of the official functions, but left before the arrival of the Chief Minister.

Later, talking to The Tribune, Mr Birmi minced no words in criticising the state Congress leadership. “No one had informed me about the state-level function. It was only late at night that I was told about the function here being converted into a state-level function”, he said. Since his workers were involved in the preparation of the function at Jamalpur for the past two weeks, he decided to go ahead with the same.

He lambasted the party leadership for issuing advertisements about the function at Longowal to commemorate the death anniversary of Harchand Singh Longowal, but choosing to keep party workers in the dark about the Ludhiana function being turned into a state- level function.

Mr Birmi said the Congress government had disappointed the people of the state by failing to live up to their expectations. “All development work has come to a standstill and there is resentment among the people towards the government”, he said, adding that he would appeal to the Chief Minister to immediately call a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party so that issues concerning the state could be discussed and further erosion of the Congress was the state was checked.

The function organised by Mr Birmi was addressed, among others, by Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha and Mr Parminder Mehta, secretary, PPCC.

Mr Birmi, when asked if they had staged a boycott of the state-level function, said they did not boycott the function. He had announced the holding of the function to observe the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi two weeks ago, he said.

Mr Birmi said Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, District Congress Committee (Urban), rang him up on August 17 for the preparations for the state- level function, but he told him that he had fixed the function at Jamalpur for August 20.

Mr Birmi’s function was attended by Congress workers and panches and sarpanches of the Ludhiana rural constituency. The participants pledged to follow the path of Rajiv Gandhi.

Mr Darshan Singh Brar and Mr Ishar Singh, general secretaries, attended the function for sometime and later went to the state-level function.

Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary was the only MLA from Ludhiana district who participated in the state-level function.

Mr Harnam Das Johar, Minister for Education, could not attend the function because his wife died this morning.


Theatre artistes pay tributes to Rajiv
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 20
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) celebrated the 60th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as “Rajiv Sadbhawana Theatre Day” here today.

Paying tributes to the leader, NTAS Director Pran Sabharwal and other artistes urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to set up a memorial of the leader at an appropriate place in the city.

He said the leader’s contribution towards establishing seven zonal centres in the country would always be remembered by people of the country. Elsewhere, the District Congress Committee (Urban) organised a function to mark the birth anniversary of the leader here. While paying tributes to leader, president of the committee Ved Parkash Gupta said the day provided an opportunity for them to rededicate themselves to work towards strengthening the unity and integrity of the country for which the leader stood throughout his life.


Death penalty for killing witness
Punjab State Law Commission recommendation
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 20
The Punjab State Law Commission has reportedly recommended death penalty for “causing death of a witness to prevent him from appearing in a trial”. The recommendation has reportedly been forwarded to the Central Government for necessary action.

Though Law Commission Chairman Justice A.S. Garg was not available for comments, the sources in his office claimed that provision to award death penalty in such a case could be introduced in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after following the due procedure.

The Commission was set up by the Punjab Government over a year ago for plugging loopholes and streamlining the legal system. Since then, it has made a number of important recommendations, including death penalty for common murderers,

The sources insisted that the Commission also recommended strict action against those trying to win over, or influence, the witnesses either through money or muscle power.

The development is significant as 21 accused in the Best Bakery case were acquitted allegedly due to the backing out of witnesses. The sources added that prosecution in a large number of cases, including the BMW and the Jessica Lall murder case, had also allegedly suffered a setback after witnesses retracted. Several cases registered under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) had also failed.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also ruled that it would be appropriate for both the Centre and the state governments to expeditiously adopt a programme for the protection of witnesses.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice Virender Singh, had ruled: “During the course of arguments (in a case), it was brought out that time and again the prosecution in some of the most sensitive cases had failed because the witnesses, initially responsible for setting into motion the state machinery, had changed their position when examined in the court.

This happened in majority of the cases registered in the Punjab state under TADA”.

The Bench had further ruled: “It happened again in sensational cases like the BMW case, Jessica Lall murder case and more recently in the Best 
Bakery case. 


Rural schoolchildren doing better than urban ones
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 20
While the enrolment of students and number of teachers in government primary schools has declined, there is a phenomenal increase of 248.5 per cent in per student cost in such schools. The number of schools has gone up.

But the most interesting aspect about such schools is that rural students have been performing better in all six subjects as compared to their counterparts in urban schools. This has demolished the popular belief that students in urban primary schools are better in their scholastic attainments.

In 1992-93 the number of such schools was 12,462 with 18,56,333 students on their rolls, and the pupil and teacher ratio was 35:1. But by 2001-02, the number of schools has gone up to 13,074 but the number of students came down to 18,11,728. With the decline in the number of teachers, The pupil- teacher ratio also climbed up to 44:1.

But interestingly, inspite of the decline in the number students, there is a significant increase- 25.88 per cent - in the enrolment of students belonging to Scheduled Castes in such schools. Yet another surprising fact is that there is 37.06 per cent increase in the enrolment of girls belonging to Scheduled Castes in these schools. This has been revealed in a cost benefit analysis of primary education system in Punjab made by the local Institute for Development and Communication for the Department of Planning, Punjab. The report has been prepared by Ms Asha Sethi and Zehra Zaidi under the guidance of Mr J.N. Joshi.

Mr Parmod Kumar, Director of the institute, while revealing the salient features of the analysis said that the decline in the overall enrolment is mainly due to inadequate strength of teachers in government primary schools. However, increase in the number of SC students is being attributed to special incentives available to such students in these schools. Moreover, students belonging to poor sections cannot afford to send their wards to so-called public schools. But as awareness level among Schedule Castes is going up, these castes have been paying more attention to send their wards to schools.

The performance level of government primary schools is poor compared to private schools. There is significant difference in academic achievements such as pass percentage of government and private schools. Most of the students in government schools do not have the family and other back-up support for the completion of homework and other related guidance and help. Moreover, there is a need to appoint subject-specific teachers, especially to impart education in mathematics, English etc.

As far as per capita cost is concerned, it was Rs 1056 per annum in 1992-93. It rose to Rs 3785 in 2002. Per teacher cost increased to Rs 1.69 lakh in 2002 whereas it was only Rs 38,000 in 1992-93. The pupil and teacher ratio is the best—29:1— in Hoshiarpur and the worst—51:1—in Mansa district. As far as literacy is concerned, Mansa is at the lowest end of the list with 52.50 per cent literacy rate while Nawanshahr is on the top with about 80 per cent literacy rate. Per student cost varies from district to district. Whereas it is the highest —Rs 5052—in Gurdaspur district, in Moga it is the lowest— Rs 2108.

The report says that to enhance the status of such schools, English as a subject should be introduced from the first standard, and also nursery classes should be started. Several other useful recommendations to improve the standard of education at the primary level have also been made. 


Govt’s role limited: SGPC
Guru Granth Sahib celebrations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 20
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has expressed delight over the acceptance of its invitations by the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to participate in the celebrations of the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Giving the details of the celebrations, the Secretary of the SGPC, Mr Dalmegh Singh, said though the detailed programme regarding the President’s and the Prime Minister’s visit here was yet to be finalised, they were expected to participate in the celebrations on September 1 with a gap of four to five hours due to security reasons. He, however, added that the SGPC had no intention of boycotting the Chief Minister’s meeting held here yesterday to finalise the arrangements but due to exigencies of the work relating to the celebrations they were unable to attend it. The SGPC has also extended invitations to all chief ministers of the country, including Capt Amarinder Singh, members of the Union Cabinet, heads of diplomatic missions in New Delhi and other dignitaries in India and abroad.

Mr Dalmegh Singh said as many as four more marches from the birthplaces of Bhagat Dhanna, Bhagat Pippa from Dhuan district, Tak (Rajasthan), would commence on August 28. He added that similar processions will also commence from Sri Damdama Sahib, Srinagar (J&K) and Sultanpur Lodhi and all these processions would culminate here on August 30 and 31. A special commemorative gold coin depicting the picture of Harmandar Sahib and the logo of the SGPC would be released on the occasion.

The SGPC would also hold a seminar dedicated to the occasion at Guru Nanak Dev University on August 28.


Ban on sale of Guru Granth Sahib sought

Amritsar, August 20
The Bhai Mardana Yaadgari Kirtan Darbar Society today sought a ban on sale and purchase of Guru Granth Sahib at shops.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society, said the holy books of the Sikh religion were being sold at shops in Guru Bazar without observing any maryada. He suggested the rights for sale and printing of holy birs of Guru Granth Sahib should only be given to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Earlier too, several organisations had approached the Chief Minister in this connection, he said.

The society also urged the government to decorate railway station, bus stand, airport and every road crossings in view of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. — OC


Illegal colonisers seek anticipatory bail
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 20
Panic has gripped the property dealers of the district after PUDA forwarded the list of the illegal colonisers to the police for registration of cases against them. Though no case till date has been registered in the Gurdaspur police district against the property dealers who developed illegal colonies, most of them have gone underground. Some of them today applied for the anticipatory bail.

The sources said the communication of PUDA regarding the name of illegal colonisers has reached the SSP office at Gurdaspur. The police was, however, examining the papers before taking any action against the guilty. Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, Gurdaspur, said that action would be initiated against the guilty soon.

The Batala SSP, Mr Ram Singh, confirmed that a list of 13 illegal colonisers has been received from PUDA. However, case could be registered against one of the illegal colonisers only as the details of the other accused were not provided by PUDA.

He said the PUDA authorities have been requested to provide complete details against the accused illegal colonisers so that appropriate action could be taken against them.

Meanwhile The Tribune survey revealed that there was not even a single PUDA approved colony in Gurdaspur district. The illegal colonisers had in many cases taken the buyers for a ride by erecting boards advertising their illegal colonies as PUDA approved. The modus operandi of the illegal colonisers here was simple. They paid some advance to the landowners and developed the colony on the land without observing any norm. The buyers were sold the plots by effecting registries from the original landowners, there by duping the government of the stamp duty of one land registry that should have been effected in the name of colony developer.

In some of the cases, the gullible farmers who were the original landowners might get booked, as they are original landowners as per the papers. In some of the cases, the property dealers have given power of attorney in the name of their servants. These servants would now either become scapegoats for their masters or run a way with the police on their trails.

The irony of the situation was that despite the fact that PUDA was going for the registration of cases against the illegal colonisers all over the state, the work on the illegal colonies was still going on in this district. The work on one such colony is going on in Para village in the vicinity of Gurdaspur.


Colonisers in court remand
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 20
Declining to extend the police remand of two of the four colonisers, Amba Prasad, Sunil Saini, G.S. Bhatia and Jai Dev, a Kharar court today sent all four to judicial custody till September 1.

Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate Poonam Ratti also issued a notice to the State for August 23 on the bail pleas filed by the colonisers. The four were arrested on Tuesday by the economic offences wing of Punjab police on the charge of developing “unauthorised” housing colonies in the periphery of Chandigarh.

The accused were also booked on cheating and forgery charges, besides offences punishable under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995.

After the expiry of a two-day police remand today, prosecution sought its extension in respect of Bhatia and Amba Prasad, but the judge declined the plea and sent them along with Saini and Jai Dev to judicial custody.


Girls do their bit for school building
Rashmi Talwar
Tribune News Service

Jagdev Kalan (Amritsar), August 20
At Government Girls Elementary School in this tiny village that holds many a memory of poet Hasham Shah of the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the sight of a group of girls cleaning bricks for the construction of a portion of a school building gives the glimpse of the never-say die Punjabi spirit.

A portion of the school building had been declared dangerous for the past 10 years but owing to fund crunch students had to take lessons in classrooms with big cracks and leaking roofs, said Principal Baljit Kaur.

While the building looks dilapidated, a mazaar of Pir Baba Haji, father of the poet, situated in the centre of the school, stands in sharp contrast as donations running in thousands are received from NRIs for it. A newly built roof, with new fans, besides a nearly completed stone flooring on the surrounding verandah of the mazaar, where an annual mela is held in June, shows the stark disparity even further as students sometimes sit here.

The recent grant of Rs 5,000 by District Education Officer (Elementary) under the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyaan scheme has provided much needed financial support to demolish the old portion of the building and construct two new classrooms for the school that holds three elementary classes and has 100 girl students on its rolls.

“The girls volunteered to help in the construction so that it could be done faster. Besides, their assistance would help complete the construction within the allotted amount,” said one of the teachers.

Sukhjit, a student, enjoying the cleaning of the bricks salvaged from old classrooms, repainting them and laying them in layers while some others take up a pair or two of bricks to masons, under supervision of staff, said they felt comfortable taking on a man’s job in their school as it was a girls school.

At present, some of the classes here are being taken in the open with a portion of old wall painted black, serving as the black-board. Only about Rs 2,000 was given for furniture which is greatly insufficient, revealed the school staff. The school has only two classrooms and have recently built a small office. If the pace of work goes on with the girls providing their help, both rooms would be ready in four days, says a teacher.


Sukhbir terms CM ‘non-resident Punjabi’

Jalandhar, August 20
Launching a scathing attack on Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and MP, said that the former was a “non-resident Punjabi”, for he was away from the state most of the time.

Mr Badal made this comment at a press conference at Circuit House here today. He said that during the recent flood situation in Punjab, the state government had failed to get any relief from the Central government even though the same party was in power there. He said that a SAD delegation had, however, met the Prime Minister, who had assured it of some help. — TNS


Probe sought into delay in refinery project
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 20
The General Samaj Party (GSP) today demanded an inquiry by a Judge of the Supreme Court into the issue pertaining to the inordinate delay being caused by successive governments in the implementation of the Guru Gobind Singh oil refinery project, to be set up at Phulo Khari village in this district by the HPCL.

The Bathinda unit of the GSP, which had organised two rallies at the site of the project to make the people aware of the “misdeeds” of successive governments in connection with the implementation of the project, demanded that those responsible for the delay in the implementation of the project be identified and their accountability be fixed.

Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary, GSP, Bathinda, in a press note issued here, said Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singh had misled the people by making a statement a few days ago that work on the refinery project was going on. He added that today, it had been made clear by Union Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer that work had been suspended since April 2003 after the Punjab Government had refused to give the HPCL 15 years’ sale tax exemption.

He alleged that the refinery project was being delayed with the aim of scuttling the same to appease the industrial house. The previous SAD-BJP government had also done nothing in connection with the completion of this project despite the fact that there was a BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, he said.

Mr Sidhu pointed out that the statement of the Central Government that non-implementation of the oil refinery project would deny jobs to about 1,000 unemployed youths was also misleading as about 50,000 persons would get direct or indirect employment when the project was completed. He added that apart from it, only a refinery project could initiate an era of development in this region, which had been facing backwardness in all spheres since India became independent.

He said the GSP had decided to keep pressure on the authorities concerned. A meeting would be held on August 22 to decide about the new mode of agitation in this connection, he added.


Toothless panchayats face ‘bleak future’
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 20
The panchayats in Punjab are directionless, oblivious of the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, or the 73rd constitutional amendment or empowerment or devolution of funds, functions and functionaries and lack in capacity building. The panchayats have supposedly been given six departments and also powers without the authority to exercise the same.

Panchayats’ overall level to understand and comprehend their role of the Panchayati Raj institutions is low. A majority of the sarpanches and panches are illiterate. The participation of women in the day-to-day functioning in panchayats is negligible and in decision-making perfunctory. Due to age-old feudal system in villages, Scheduled Caste sarpanches and panches are chained to land-owners being economically dependent upon them in the absence of their independent sources of income.

Also, panchayats are deeply worried over the growing cult of drug addiction and diminishing returns from farms and are concerned about the fate and future of farm labour or landless villagers. Of equal concern to them is the growing trend of female infanticide, more prevalent among Jat Sikhs, and lack of pre-natal and post-natal healthcare services. The panchayats are helpless over high rate of dropout of schoolchildren and growing absenteeism among teachers, as well as health staff.

The panchayats are totally disillusioned with the way the government has treated them all these decades, particularly since the propaganda over the transfer to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) of six departments — Education, Primary Health, Public Health, Social Welfare, Social Security and Rural Development and Panchayats.

As there was no linkage between panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads, the entire system continued to operate in vacuum, controlled by bureaucrats, who took full advantage of the ignorance of panchayats, which were weak and lacked capacity to perform.

These observations were today shared by the five-member team, comprising Dr Kesar Singh, Dr B.K. Patnaik, Mr Umesh Rangnekar and Mr Sukhwinder Singh, with TNS, on return after spending two-and-a-half months in the villages to ‘’educate and train’’ members of the PRI and to get feed back on their perception of PRIs. The team had covered five districts — Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar and Faridkot — in Malwa. It had organised 202 two-day block-level training and education workshops for the benefit of 13,253.

Sponsored by CRRID, its Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, also briefed the state Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, on the findings of the team.

The team told TNS that its overall impression was that given the present state of affairs, the toothless panchayats in Punjab faced a ‘’bleak future’’. Malwa accounts for 11 of the 17 districts. Going by the plight of panchayats there, which is backward — socially, economically and educationally — situation was no different in Doaba and Majha.

Panchayats feared that the growing income and economic disparities, frustration due to joblessness, increasing drug menace and lack of governance could one day lead to social strife and tensions.


Kaka expresses inability to face Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 20
Mr Jasbir Singh Kaka, a former member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (DSGMC), today expressed his inability to present himself at Akal Takht citing ill health.

The jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, had summoned Mr Kaka for raising “ifs and buts” on the directives issued by it, (Akal Takht), today.

Giani Vedanti, while talking to The Tribune, said the former DSGMC member had sent a fax message in this regard and had also sent his representative, Mr Charanjit Singh, to plead his cause for postponement.

The Akal Takht had asked Mr Kaka to clear him position, about his utterings against the Takht, in which the DSGMC president Mr Prahlad Singh Chandok was directed to give a claim of Rs 1.10 crore to Mr Avtar Singh Hit, a former president of DSGMC, as compensation for Khalsa high school, Harinagar in Delhi.

It may be recalled that Jathedar of Akal Takht had directed the DSGMC to pay the compensation to Mr Hit but Mr Kaka had opposed the same.


Trade unions hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 20
The Central Trade Union (CTU) held a protest rally under the banner of the District Trade Union Council here today. Workers and employees of the textile industry, banks, insurance, telecom, electricity board, roadways and private transport, Military Engineering Services (MES), Postal Department and Municipal Corporation raised slogans against the UPA government.

The CTU had given the call for urging the UPA government to scrap the decision of enhancement in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom, insurance and civil aviation sectors which would result in the flight of capital, besides endangering national security.

While addressing the rally, Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, secretary, Punjab AITUC, demanded that the rate of interest on the employees provident fund (EPF) deposits be increased.


Doc refutes allegations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 20
Dr Mukhtiar Singh of the Civil Hospital here today refuted all allegations levelled against him yesterday by one Dr Gagandeep Singh, a resident of the local Basant Avenue area.

He said Dr Gagandeep Singh only wanted “to harass him for reasons best known to him”. He said he wanted to enter grievous injuries in the medico-legal report (MLR) to make his “case” strong.

Dr Gagandeep had alleged that Dr Mukhtiar Singh had demanded a bribe of Rs 5000 from him for entering injuries in the MLR. However, Dr Mukhtiar Singh said when he was admitted to the hospital, he even did not have money for his treatment and fees of the MLR.

Dr Mukhtiar Singh said only hospital charges were given by his father Hardev Singh, who came later. He said Dr Gagandeep had 12 injuries, out of which two or three were kept under observation and the MLR was written in front of the policemen, who accompanied him.

He said as per his allegations, he should immediately bring the matter to the notice of the authorities concerned. He claimed that all injuries were mentioned in the MLR.


Clues in theft case of MC chief’s valuables
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 20
The police has got some vital clues in the theft case in which MC president, Joginder Pal Jain’s valuables were stolen from his servant’s quarter. The police will make everything official about the case tomorrow.

Sources said a few persons had been arrested in this connection and recoveries made. A police party had also been dispatched to New Delhi to nab the accused.

Mr Jain had gone out after keeping his valuables packed in three suitcases at his servant’s quarter as a safety measure. His servant ventured out one night, during which thieves decamped with those suitcases.

There had been speculations over this case. Mr Jain was not ready to disclose anything while the police revealed nothing, saying it would come out with its official version after solving the case and making recoveries.

The silence gave rise to speculation that the suitcases contained gold ornaments and cash worth lakhs. With the police making headway in the case, it seems all speculation will end tomorrow.


Shopkeepers protest against crossing closure
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 20
Shopkeepers today staged a dharna at the level crossing No. 22 to protest against its closure due to the construction of a railway overbridge.

The dharna was, however, lifted after the Railways assured them that they would try to partially open one of the gates to enable pedestrians and two-wheelers to cross. The shop keepers threatened an agitation in case the Railways were not able to fulfil the promise. The shopkeepers had become agitated yesterday when the railway authorities while closing the crossing barricaded the entire railway line on both sides with tin sheets. The authorities concerned also put up a notice, saying that the crossing had been closed after permission from the Deputy Commissioner.

The shopkeepers said they were already facing a financial crunch due to the construction of the overbridge and that the closure of the crossing would ruin them further. They have demanded that it be opened to two-wheelers and pedestrians. They have also decided to approach the Railway Ministry and the Punjab Government in this regard.


Markfed issues job letters to deceased employees' kin

Chandigarh, August 20
Markfed today issued appointment letters to the kin of 27 of its employees who had died in harness in recent years. The letters were handed over to the eligible members of the family by Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Horticulture and Cooperation Minister, Punjab.

The eligible dependents were interviewed by the members of the committee in line with the policy guidelines for compassionate appointments,2002, circulated vide Punjab Government instructions dated 21.11.2002. With the lifting of the ban on the appointments on compassionate grounds by the Punjab Government, Markfed is providing employment to the dependents of its deceased employees since the year 2000. — TNS


Bull goes berserk, 15 injured
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 20
As many as 15 residents of this town were injured when a stray bull went berserk after consuming some poisonous substance on the Amrik Singh road yesterday.

The bull, which was hitting every vehicle passing by it, was brought under control by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in about three hours. The bull was ultimately tied with ropes and some medicine was administered on him.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president, Sahara Jan Sewa, said one person, who was injured seriously, had been admitted to the local Civil Hospital where his condition was stated to be stable.


Villagers gherao police station
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 20
Residents of Kotsukhia village today gheraoed the Sadar police station here in protest against the cases registered against them.

Sources said some liquor contractors were selling liquor at the venue of a religious programme organised in the village on August 17. The villagers protested against the contractors’ move and reportedly had a brawl with the contractors over the issue. A case was registered in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, has marked an inquiry to the SDM in this connection.


Mohali resident given relief
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 20
A cheque for Rs 1 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund was given to a resident of the town whose two sons died recently.

The cheque was handed over to Mr Dharam Pal, father of Ashok Kumar and Raj Kumar, who died due to a case of suspected poisoning after they were taken to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The cheque was handed over by Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, at a bhog ceremony organised here yesterday.

It is reported that as the family of Mr Dharam Pal was weak financially, donations were made by a large number of welfare organisations also.


Students examined at dental care camp
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 20
As many as 105 students were examined by doctors at a free dental and general check up camp organised by the Lions Club, TOP at Government Elementary School here yesterday.

Dr H.S. Oberoi and Dr Raman Puri from the local Civil Hospital examined the students.

Mr Naveen Gupta, PRO, said the needy were given free medicines. He said children who needed treatment at the hospital were given the required slips. Expenses to be incurred on their treatment would be borne by the club. The camp was organised under the supervision of Mr Balwinder Singh, president of the club.


High Court
Punjab given time to reply in DSP quota case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 20
The Punjab Government was today directed to file its reply till Tuesday to an application moved by one of the petitioners in the ongoing case concerning alleged irregularities in the selection of DSPs under the sports quota.

Today, just as the hearing started before a Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, the Punjab Advocate General, appearing for the state, sought some time on the plea that the Sports Department Secretary was out of country in connection with the Olympics. He said only the Secretary could confirm if the documents submitted in the court were genuine.

However, the Bench noted that the people whose signatures were stated to be on the documents were in the country and could easily be contacted for verifying the contents of the documents. The Bench was hearing the application filed by Jaskaran Singh Brar, one of the petitioners, seeking permission to place on record some documents concerning the case.

Among the documents sought to be placed on record were some notings on the Sports Department file regarding the selection as well as directives issued by various officials, including the Chief Minister. The documents included the advice of a law officer of Punjab, who had said that the selections were bad in law and it would be difficult to defend them in the court.

DMCH seats

A petition has been filed in the High Court challenging the recent order of the management of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana to extend the last date of receipt of forms for management quota seats. The college had extended the date from July 31 to August 16.

In his petition, Harsh Bhandari, who appeared in the PMET-2004, conducted by Baba Farid University and secured 718th rank, has said that the decision to extend the deadline was arbitrary and without the approval of the Medical Council of India.

The counselling for the seats has been fixed for August 28, which will be affected due to the impugned order.

After hearing his counsel, the Bench of Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt issued notice for September 3.

Status quo on Bakshi unit

In a writ petition filed by M/s Bakshi Industrial Enterprises limited, Ludhiana, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt, has directed the State Bank of India to maintain status quo regarding the mortgaged properties of the petitioner.

The possession of the property had been taken by the bank under Section 13(4) of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002.

The petitioner has challenged the notification dated April 6 2004 issued by the Union Ministry of Finance, whereby exorbitant court fee of Rs 12,000 to Rs 1.5 lakhs has been prescribed for filing an appeal before the Debts Recovery Tribunal against the action of the banks/ financial institutions.

The counsel for the petitioner, Pankaj Gupta, stated in the court that the said notification was legally unsustainable as the same is contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court. The petition will now come up on August 24.

Bhaniarewala seeks security

Baba Pyara Singh Bhaniarewala has moved the High Court, seeking directions to the Punjab government and police to provide him adequate security during his birthday celebrations.

Referring to media reports, quoting some persons who have said that nobody would be allowed to celebrate the Baba’s birthday, Baba Bhaniarewala has stated that law and order situation may be disturbed to prevent his followers from celebrating the birthday.

Today, the case was adjourned due to lack of time. It is likely to come up tomorrow.


BKU demands higher price for paddy
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 20
The Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab, today said that if the state government didn’t fix the price of different varieties of paddy as per their demand by August 27, the union would announce its future course of action at the executive committee meeting on August 28.

The union members demanded that the farmers, who had bore the brunt of drought-like conditions in the region, should be given a compensation of Rs 14,000 per acre. They said that those who had saved their crop with special efforts should be given a compensation of Rs 4,000 per acre. A resolution demanding 10-hour power supply and canal water supply was also passed at the meeting.

The union warned the state government to pay the pending dues of cane farmers with interest. The union would launch an agitation from the sugar mill in Zira on August 23 if the dues were not cleared, the union leaders said.

The union leaders demanded that the family members of the victims of the recent mudslide tragedy in Dhudike village be given government jobs, besides financial aid for the education of their children.


Officials told to ensure supplies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 20
The Punjab Government today said that it had made all necessary arrangements to ensure availability of essential commodities to people during the indefinite “chakka jam” strike by truckers from tomorrow.

Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Transport, today told officers concerned that they should ensure the free movement of vehicles transporting goods. All Deputy Commissioners have been directed to implement the action plan prepared to deal with any contingency.


Police personnel in PSEB to be repatriated
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 20
The Punjab Police personnel, working in the PSEB for a period of over five years are being repatriated. Sources said orders had been issued for the repatriation of 30 police personnel. Most of them were working in the district, at various PSEB installations.

The move to repatriate them was initiated by the ADGP (vigilance), Mr Lalit Bhatia. As per the rules, the deputation of the police employees in the PSEB can not be extended beyond five years. However, many of them were extending their stay much beyond the prescribed.

In place of the repatriated cops, police personnel from the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), are being selected for deputation in the PSEB. The sources said a team of two SP’s one each from the PSEB (Vigilance) and the PAP, have made a list of 140 PAP personnel who could be posted in the PSEB, in place of the repatriated employees.


Newly born baby girl strangulated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 20
A dead body of newly born baby girl was found abandoned in a vacant plot located on the Power House road in this town today.

The body was thrown in the vacant plot by some unidentified persons after strangling the baby.

Police sources said that a case in this connection has been registered under Section 318, IPC, and a special team constituted to find out the fact that whether the child was legitimate or illegitimate.

The police team has also been making efforts to find out the mother of the deceased.


Veterinary officer held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 20
A team of Vigilance Bureau, led by DSP Baldev Singh, caught Dr Charanjit Singh, Veterinary Officer, Veterinary Hospital, Saravan village in Faridkot district, while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 500 today. Mr Jaskaran Singh of Gurusar village informed that the officer demanded money in lieu of certifying the photos of his cow that had died and forwarding the case to the insurance company.

Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, in a press note said Dr Charanjit Singh was caught in the presence of two government witnesses and one shadow witness.

He added that Rs 500, which was taken by him was recovered.

A case has been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Bathinda.


Baba Farid varsity ‘violating’ SC guidelines
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 20
The district president of the General Category Welfare Federation, Mr Sukhbir Singh, has alleged that Baba Farid Medical University has kept 64 per cent seats under reservation for admissions to MBBS in government medical colleges of the state. He said this was in clear violation of the Supreme Court guidelines, according to which only 50 per cent seats could be reserved.

He said there were 350 MBBS seats in Punjab, out of which 30 seats were allotted to the NRI quota and 52 to the CBSE quota. He said 140 seats were kept for the reserved categories leaving only 128 seats for the general category, which were a mere 36 per cent of the total seats. He demanded that the “injustice” meted out to general category candidates be stopped.

Meanwhile, counselling for the BDS course started here yesterday. There are 149 seats for the course, out of which 78 are reserved for the SC/ST and 13 for the BC category.


Seminar on vehicular emission

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 20
A seminar on “Air pollution due to emission” was organised by Mechanical Department of Baba Banda Singh Bahadhur Engineering College in association with the Society of Automobile Engineer (SAE), India, here today.

The college Principal, Dr D.S. Hira, while presiding over the seminar said pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen oxide were emitted by vehicles. He said the problem aggravated with the increase in number of vehicles on roads.

He said under the Euro-II standard, contents of these gases were fixed for emission from vehicles and new models were based on the multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) technology.

Prof Narinder Pal Singh, faculty adviser of the college unit of the SAE and coordinator of the seminar, in his lecture on “MPFI and Euro -II” talked about the international norms of emissions. Prof Jasbir Singh in his lecture said engine speed, ambient temperature, throttle opening were vital parameters taken into account while calculating the amount of fuel injected in cylinders of a petrol engine in the MPFI technology. Prof I.P.S. Gill, training and placement officer of the college, thanked the speakers and participants. — OC


Stress on uniform VAT policy
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 20
The two-day national seminar on “Emerging issues and problems in the North-West region of India under the new economic policy regime organised by the Department of Correspondence Courses concluded here yesterday, Dr H.K. Manmohan, Professor Emeritus and former Vice-Chancellor of the University, delivered a special lecture and chairing the technical session.

Dr Janak Raj Gupta in his special lecture on “Value added tax in the Indian federal set up” observed that VAT had certain inherent advantages and in the changed domestic and global economic scenario it should be adopted soon. He urged the Central Government to continue to levy VAT up to the production base and manufacturing stage and on the states at subsequent stages. However, he said all states should adopt a uniform VAT policy so that the allocation of resources throughout the country was uniform.

Dr Manisha Sharma from the Army Institute of Law, Mohali, in her paper observed that almost two-thirds of the Scheduled Caste households in rural Punjab were in debt. Dr Rajinder Singh in his paper “Institutional agricultural credit in Punjab” took a comprehensive view of the problem and tried to cover varied aspects of agricultural credit. Dr T.M. Thomas in his paper examined the statistical records of economic performance of this region and suggested a few proposals regarding a strategy for improving economic performance.

Dr A.S. Bhullar, A.S. Joshi and Sukhpal Singh from Panjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, presented a combined paper in which Dr Bhullar gave detailed information regarding water and electricity situations in Punjab. He suggested ways and means to solve the problems like irrigation scheduling, water management and new irrigation technology.

Prof R.K. Bansal in his paper explained about the chronic gap between resources and expenditure potentials of the states. Mr Randhir Kanwal in his paper stressed that bank reforms gave agriculture low interest and higher quantum of credit. Prof Kusum Maheshwari from Faridkot in her paper examined whether the regional disparities in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh had widened in the new economic regime or not.

Dr Balbir Singh, seminar Director, while presenting a vote of thanks said a large number of speakers presented their research papers on various aspects of economic policy relating to the north-west region of India.

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