P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PM wants Lokayukta but Punjab Govt thinks differently
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said that the UPA Government at the Centre was in favour of having Lokayuktas or Lok Pals.

Not only this, he also said that there was broad consensus of bringing his own office under the purview of the Lok Pal.

However, while the Centre is still waiting for Parliament to pass the Lokayukta Bill, the Prime Minister' own party's government in Punjab has quietly killed the institution called Lok Pal?

Over 21 months after the then Lok Pal Justice D.V. Sehgal (retd) died in office, the Capt Amarinder Singh government has done almost nothing to appoint a new Lok Pal.

Instead, his government has done everything to finish the office of the Lok Pal. The entire staff which used to assist Justice Sehgal in discharging his duties as Lok Pal, has been sent home.

No action has been initiated on the over 250 complaints that were pending when Justice Sehgal passed away.

After Justice Sehgal's death, the officers who were relieved from duty included Registrar J.K. Goel, a former District and Sessions Judge, and Joint Registrar H.S. Doabia, a former Joint Registrar in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Not that there is no staff in the Office of the Lok Pal. While the government has shown no intention of appointing a new Lok Pal, senior police officers, who are not in the good books of the government, are posted here.

Among the prominent persons who were under investigation by the Lok Pal's office when Justice Sehgal passed away were minister Harbans Lal, some MLAs, former chief secretary and present PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra, former Chief Administrator -PUDA, and 16 ministers in the previous Parkash Singh Badal government.

Sources say that though investigation had been ordered in almost all the complaints, investigative wing of the Lok Pal has stopped investigations.

"The Congress government, which claims to be anti corruption, has wound up the office of the Lok Pal. And, files of all the pending cases have been given in the custody of an officer of the Vigilance Department, a step that the state government could not have legally taken," notes a former officer of the Lok Pal.

Soon after the death of Justice Sehgal, the government wound up the judicial wing of the Lok Pal, the only fully independent wing of the quasi-judicial body. As per rules, the staff of the judicial wing is appointed by the Lok Pal and could have been removed only by him.

That the Punjab Lok Pal Act, 1996, bars any Punjab Government officer or his representative from being given charge of the complaints did not matter to the government.

When contacted, Punjab Advocate-General Harbhgwan Singh said that so far no names were being considered for appointment of Lok Pal. Only a retired Judge of a High Court can be appointed as Lok Pal.


3 p.c. DA for Punjab employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
The Punjab Government will give 3 per cent dearness allowance to its employees with effect from July 2004. This will mean an additional annual financial burden of Rs 230 crore on the exchequer.

He also said that he had cleared the file to implement the 85th constitutional amendment that would give breathing space to reserved categories in promotion. The clearance of the file to implement the amendment was subject to the outcome of the case pending before the Supreme Court. All Congress-ruled states had implemented the same but not Punjab.

This was stated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while talking to news persons at Raj Bhavan.

The announcement of dearness allowance has been done on the central pattern. To a question, the Chief Minister said when the Centre could announce DA for its employees, with the election process under way, why cannot Punjab?

On the reports of violation of the election code of conduct by using helicopter, he said he went to the constituencies concerned in a private vehicle. It was not just the byelections. As Chief Minister he had other functions to perform in the interest of the state as well. There was no violation. ‘’We have hired a private chopper for going to a constituency, Kapurthala or Garhshankar. The Congress would foot the bill.

To another question, he said it was ‘’unfortunate’’ that the Election Commission had ordered suspension of the SDM, Kapurthala, who had not done any wrong or registered any bogus voters, as was alleged. The Commission had even directed that an FIR be registered against him.

Turning to the complaints by SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to the Election Commission on every conceivable issue, the Chief Minister said Badal suffered form poll-phobia. He described Mr Badal as “rubble-rouser”.


Punjab CEO seeks report on poll meetings
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Taking cognizance of a news report appearing in these columns regarding government officials attending Congress poll meetings, Punjab's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) today asked Director of Youth Services to submit a report after looking into the allegations.

The report had stated that two Punjab Government officers had violated the model code of conduct by attending a workers' meeting organised in favour of Congress candidate for Kapurthala byelections Sukhjinder Kaur Rana.

The news report was on Thursday forwarded to CEO G.S. Cheema by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members.

Seeking action against the erring officers involved in electioneering, the SAD members claimed that Punjab Government officers were openly participating in the election rallies addressed by the Chief Minister

The report, it may be recalled, had stated that the meeting was presided over by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. It was attended by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief H.S. Hanspal, besides several other ministers.

The two officers present during the meeting were an Assistant Director of Youth Services and an Executive Engineer with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The two officers had tried to wriggle out of the situation. One had claimed that he was there with his brother. The other had denied working with (PSEB)

In a related development, the election department authorities have decided to come down heavily on those issuing surrogate advertisements in compliance with Section 127-A of the Representation of the People Act.

The Section says that "no person shall print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any election pamphlet or poster which does not bear on its face the names and addresses of printer and the publisher thereof".

The Section adds that any person who contravenes any of the provisions shall be punished with imprisonment extending to six months or fine extending up to Rs 20,000 or both.

The CEO has already ordered the setting up of a three-member committee for looking into the advertisements issued on the television and cable network.

The committee, set up in compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court of India, will be headed by Assistant CEO Babu Lal.


Private chopper being used for poll: CM
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, claimed here today that government machinery was not being misused by him in the current byelections in the state. Whenever he went to a poll area for campaigning, he used a private helicopter hired by the Congress.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was speaking to newspersons after inaugurating a building of the junior wing of the local Yadavindra Public School, said that even to this function he had come in a private chopper. He said the expenses would be borne by the PPCC and not the Punjab Government.

When asked about any expansion of the ministry, the Chief Minister said there was no plan for that as such, but the strength of parliamentary secretaries could be increased if the need arose.

Talking about Uma Bharti’s visit to Punjab in connection with the Tiranga Yatra, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government had made appropriate arrangements for her visit, but as she did not get the desired response from the people, she “had to put the blame on someone for this.”

He said that the 85th Constitutional Amendment was going to be implemented in letter and spirit. The Council of Ministers had empowered him to take the final decision. He had already cleared the file and the notification in this regard would be issued shortly.

Reacting to the controversy of bogus votes involving the Kapurthala SDM, the Chief Minister said he did not want to comment on the action taken by the Election Commission against the SDM. But he himself felt that the SDM had not done anything wrong. He said 8,000 applications for the making of votes had been received, out of which 4,000 were rejected outright and only 3000 were scruitinised, out of which only 800 persons were registered as voters.

Asked about the stand of the CPI on extending support to the CPM candidate in Garhshankar, Capt Amarinder Singh said that cutting into the votes of the secular forces amounted to giving support to the RSS and the BJP.

Talking about the attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, he said the matter had been taken up with the External Affairs Ministry. Pakistan authorities had even apologised in this regard and now a commission had been constituted to look into the matter, he added.

Coming to the sphere of education, the Chief Minister said the state was short of 28,000 teachers. He said the atmosphere these days was such that nobody wanted to work in rural areas. The student-teacher ratio in certain schools in urban areas was 7 to 1 while there were no teachers in certain schools in rural areas, he added.


Case against Badal: tension in court
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 30
The district court here was today virtually converted into a political battleground as hundreds of Congress and Akali workers raised slogans during the hearing of disproportionate assets case against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members.

Tension prevailed in the court premises in utter violation of the imposition of 144 CrPC by the District Magistrate, as near clash-like situation continued for six hours.

It was a show of strength by the two rival political parties, the Congress and Akali Dal. When Mr Sukhbir Badal, the sitting MP and a son of former CM reached the court along with his mother, Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, their Akali supporters raised slogans against the Amarinder government. The Congress activists present there in equal numbers raised counter slogans, demanding the arrest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his associates.

A large number of police personnel deployed there turned mere spectators, and allowed Akali Dal activists to gather on one side of the entrance gate of the court while Congress activists on the other side.

Later the situation became tense, when both parties continued slogans against each other. The police then sealed the area by placing barricade and putting rope around the entrance gate of the court. As a result, lawyers and litigants faced harassment and not allowed to attend their cases.

The situation deteriorated, when the police personnel started misbehaving with the lawyers, litigants and reporters. Thereafter, the District Bar Association Ropar held a meeting and took up the matter with the District and Sessions Judge, Ropar. The DBA condemned the district administration and the police for deliberately allowing the gathering of 600 Congress activists and sent a resolution copy to the High Court and the Bar Council. The defence counsel Mr H.S Mattewal alleging harassment by Congress workers also took up the matter with the District and Sessions Judge.

As the court proceedings began before, the Special Court, Judge, Mr S.K Goel, the defence counsel, Mr Mattewal pleaded that in such circumstances the case could not be argued. He said that it was deliberate attempt of the Congress to harass Badal and his family members. He also raised doubts over the reply of the prosecution in connection with allegations of tempering with evidence. He said the prosecution had not mentioned that when it filed documents related to prosecution of the accused Nirbhajit Singh, and the documents in the court file did not have the stamp. Moreover it is not known yet who had filed the documents through which channel. Later he cited various apex court judgements claiming that the Badal was falsely implicated in the case.

Denying the defence allegation, the Special Public Prosecutor, Mr Uday Lalit, argued that the court was not concerned what was happening outside. There was good atmosphere in the court for the arguments. He said that the protest outside was from both sides. Then the defence counsel pleaded that the family members of Badals had to reach Delhi to attend the court proceeding on the SLP listed for hearing tomorrow in the Supreme Court. Therefore the matter be adjourned. The judge adjourned the case till October 6 for arguments on the different applications moved by the defence.


Cops stop media from recording court proceedings
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 30
Officials of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today tried to prevent mediapersons from covering the proceeding of the Badal case in the Special Court here. Annoyed with the Press for reporting the alleged tampering with court records, senior officials had deputed the SP and the DSP to restrain reporters from entering the court.

They even tried to take them out of the courtroom during the proceedings, claiming that the District and Sessions Judge had ordered them to do so. When the matter was taken up with the judge, it was found that no such order had been passed.

As heavy security was deployed at the entrance gate, newspersons managed to reach the courtroom through a window of one of the administration official’s room.

While the reporters were attending the proceedings, police personnel asked them to move out.

The situation became normal when the reporters told the police officials that if they disturbed them again, the matter would be reported to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The District Bar Association has condemned the action of the police.


21,000 employees surplus in Irrigation Dept
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
As many as 21,000 employees have been declared surplus in the Irrigation Department, Punjab. This was disclosed here today by Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Finance Department.

While talking to The Tribune on various fiscal and other issues, Mr Lakhanpal said that the rules and regulations with regard to the surplus pool of employees would be notified soon. Exercise to declare employees surplus and to deploy them at other places where their services could be utilised for productive purpose was on.

As work on a number of irrigation-cum-power generation projects had been completed in recent years, thousands of employees have been rendered surplus in the Irrigation Department.

Even employees posted on the SYL canal project have no work to do and they are getting salary without doing any duty. There is urgent need to initiate some other major irrigation and power projects to put these employees on work again. But taking up of any such project in the near future seems to be a bleak possibility.

Asked about the progress on the fiscal structural adjustment loan from the World Bank, Mr Lakhanpal said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had approached the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the Union Finance Minister to help the state government in securing this loan.

Both the PM and the FM had assured to intervene on behalf of Punjab in this matter, he added. The state government has sought $ 150 million from the World Bank to pull the state out of the liquidity trap. It would be an untied loan and help the state to stabilise the destabilised situation on fiscal front.

Agreeing to the point that the process of reforms on various fronts has slowed in the state, Mr Lakhanpal said that the state government was trying its best to stay on the course of reforms despite various problems and hurdles. “We had have attained success on certain fronts by enforcing reforms but a lot more is required to be done. We are on the job”, he added.

It may be mentioned here that the WB likes to evaluate the performance of any state on reforms front before approving loan for that very state.

Asked about the development loan from the WB, he said that the state government was expecting to get about Rs 2300 crore from the WB.

He said that of Rs 2300 crore, Rs 800 crore had been sought for drinking water, Rs 1000 crore for roads and Rs 500 crore for urban infrastructure such as for the laying of sewer etc. Punjab would get this loan in eight months time as almost all formalities had been cleared, he added.


Fresh probe ordered into PAU seed scam
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 30
The alleged multi-lakh Punjab Agricultural University paddy seed scam at Nabha Farms involving some officials of the university took an interesting turn today when the Patiala police ordered a fresh probe by the Director, Agriculture Department, into the allegations levelled by a former PAU teacher.

On the plea of the retired teacher, Dr Balwant Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Patiala police to investigate the matter in September last year. The police, however, asked the PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, to conduct an inquiry. Dr Balwant Singh had named Dr Aulakh as one of the accused. Peeved at the turn of events he then served a notice on the Patiala police asking it as to how could it ask the accused to inquire into the allegations against himself?

Explaining the matter, the Patiala SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, said it was an oversight. He said there was no motive behind his previous move to get an inquiry conducted by the VC. He said he actually wanted a technical understanding on the matter.

He said for the same reasons, the expertise of Director, Agriculture, Punjab, had been sought. He said the police had not taken any sides in the case and would act as per the law. He said the university inquiry report would serve only as a technical back up on the issue and the arguments of the petitioner would be duly taken into account.

The PAU inquiry report conducted by two teachers on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor states that the allegations levelled by Dr Balwant Singh were baseless. The report says that the allegations failed on technical grounds as Dr Balwant Singh had misunderstood some facts and made a false case. The report stressed that PAU had not lost lakhs as alleged by him but had earned quite a lot from the sale of seeds.

Dr Balwant Singh had in a communication to the SSP, sent a rejoinder to the inquiry report submitted by PAU. He claims that it was not possible for Dr Aulakh to state that the seeds would remain unsold before the advent of the kharif season, 2003.

He claimed that the argument that there were no facilities to store paddy seeds at Nabha/Naraingarh did not hold good. Just a few months before that, over 3000 quintals of wheat was stored at the Naraingarh farm.

In fact, PAU had increased the area of PR-111 (Foundation Seed) from 25 acre to 62 acre in view of the growing demand of this variety to the farms. The sale of seeds fetched over Rs 11 lakh whereas it would have easily netted nearly Rs 40 lakh if the seeds had been cleaned and packed as per the original plan.

Significantly, the technical experts of the seed certification authority (PSSCA) who carried the final inspection of the paddy crop on October 10, 2002, (just six days before its auction) said in their report that the condition of the crop was very good and that a yield of 27.5 quintals of seed per acre was expected where as later the university claimed that the yield was little over 20 quintal per acre .

He maintains that the seeds were sold at Rs 700 at a huge loss as the official fixed rate was Rs 1250 per quintal.


Probe indicts SHO for his role in murder case
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 30
The National Human Rights Council has issued report in the murder case of Joginder Singh, a resident of Kheda Daroli, who was killed over a land dispute in August.

Addressing mediapersons while releasing the report here yesterday, the Punjab Chairman of the council, Mr J.S. Mattoo, said Joginder Singh wanted to build a cremation ground with the aid of the gram panchayat. The land where he wanted to build the cremation ground belonged to the panchayat of Dharamsinghwala village, but Nishan Singh of Fatehgarh Panjtoor had illegally occupied the plot, the report said. When the panchayat members asked Nishan Singh to vacate the land, he threatened them with dire consequences, Mr Mattoo added. When panchayat was preparing to start the construction activity, Nishan Singh along with his aides stole bricks from the site on June 11.

According to the report, the panchayat complained to the BDPO, Kot Ise Khan, demanding action against the accused. The BDPO asked the Kot Ise Khan SHO to register a case against the accused, but he was allegedly “hand in glove with the accused” and didn’t follow the instructions of the BDPO.

Mr Mattoo told that the SHO concerned “openly supported” the accused and “encouraged” them to continue with their work. The panchayat of Dharamsinghwala village also complained in this connection to top police and district administration officials and had asked the SHO to take action against the accused, but he ignored their orders, he added.

Showing various complaints made against the accused, Mr Mattoo said that Joginder Singh was murdered over the land dispute near Fatehgarh Panjtoor on August 13. He said the victim’s hands and legs were broken. A case was registered against Nishan Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Bhola Singh, and Tarlok Singh under Sections 302, 34, and 120B of the IPC. He said Joginder Singh laid down his life for public cause and not over a personal matter. Mr Mattoo said the Kot Ise Khan SHO was also allegedly involved in the murder case and sought legal action taken against him.

He said the accused were roaming freely due to the police protection. He said one of the accused, Tarlok Singh, was a Vigilance Bureau employee at Ferozepore and the accused were relatives of former DGP Mahil Singh Bhullar. Releasing the probe report prepared by the council officials, Mr Mattoo, through a letter to the Moga SSP and DC, demanded the immediate arrest of the accused. The SSP, Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.


SGPC wants Pak to review decision on kar seva
Our Correspondent

Phagwara September 30
The SGPC today took exception to reports about the handing over of the kar seva to the Delhi Akali Dal of a 500-room serai and other buildings proposed on the land of Guru Nanak Degree College, Nankana Sahib, and demanded the review of the decision.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting here today, Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary of the SGPC, asked the Pakistan government, the PSGPC and the Pakistan Evacuee Properties Trust Board (Aukaf Board) to rescind the decision as the kar seva was the sole right of the SGPC and the Delhi Akali Dal had no locus standi on it.

The Delhi Akali Dal was a political party and not a religious body and represented only Delhi-based Sikhs while the SGPC was a religious body elected by 50 lakh Sikh voters, he claimed.

Jathedar Bhaur, would be leaving for Pakistan in a few days along with some others to take stock of the situation after the September 25 attack on Nankana Sahib Gurdwara.

He thanked the Pakistan press, people and the administration for condemning the attack on the gurdwara.

The five-member SGPC delegation would meet Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the Prime Minister and the Punjab Chief Minister for security of gurdwaras and Sikhs in Pakistan, he said.

Earlier, a meeting of principals of 17 SGPC-run colleges and 52 managers of historic gurdwaras, flayed the attack on the gurdwara.

The meeting also decided to update education in the SGPC-run colleges and make it hi-tech. Job-oriented courses would be started and a “vishwa” Sikh university would be set up, he said.


180 cases of gastroenteritis in Rajpura
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, September 30
Fear gripped residents of the industrial township of Rajpura when 180 cases of gastroenteritis were reported from a single colony late last night.

Confirming the figure, the District Health Officer (DHO), Mr V.S Mohi, said the main reason for so many cases was that for the past three days they were drinking highly contaminated water from a tank installed by the mandi board near Dana Mandi. However, most of the patients are Bihari migrant labourers.

There have been conflicting reports of the total number of persons being infected by the disease, but the DHO has pegged the figure at 180.

While nine patients have been admitted to AP Jain Hospital, Rajpura, seven admitted to Government Rajindera Hospital, Patiala. At Rajindera hospital, three are still in a serious condition.

Meanwhile, the administration has constituted four teams of doctors to oversee the treatment of patients at Dana Mandi where a first aid van has been stationed. A rapid reaction team, led by epidemiologist Dr Sampuran Singh, has also been constituted.

Mr Mohi said 20,000 chlorine tablets had been distributed among labourers. The administration has rushed three water tankers, one from Nabha and the other two from Patiala, to Rajpura after news of the disease trickled out this morning.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, has asked the Rajpura SDM to seal the mandi board water tank and an inquiry has also been initiated.


14 cases of jaundice reported
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 30
Certain areas of the city and the surrounding areas are in grip of jaundice due to the alleged contaminated drinking water supply. A large number of patients are reporting for treatment at Civil Hospitals, dispensaries and private clinics.

According to information available, at least 14 patients are reportedly suffering from jaundice in the kuccha quarters area, four marla plots of the city. Three patients are getting treatment in Pathankot Civil Hospital, two in Badhani and six in Gharota and Sujanpur government hospitals.

While the Pathankot SMO, Dr Ravi Dogra, said the situation was not alarming and was under control, he confirmed that three patients had been admitted in the Civil Hospital. “But these cases are of routine nature”, Dr Dogra added.

Private doctors, on the other hand said, on an average five to six patients had reported for treatment of jaundice at their respective clinics in the Mission Road area of the city.

While the health authorities had taken four water samples from the city following complaints of contaminated water, municipal council officials on duty, said there was absolutely no complaint about contaminated water in the city as the tanks were regularly chlorinated.


Finally, HIV girl gets a school
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
The desire of Neena Goyal (name changed) to go to school like other normal children has been fulfilled. She has started getting education at local Police Public School (PPS).

Neena Goyal, whose father died when she was in her mother’s womb, became orphan at the age of two when her mother died on December 1, 2003. The worst happened when she was found HIV positive like her father.

Neena got parents again when Mr Vijay Goyal, a social activist, adopted her. Though after adoption she started getting love and affection of parents, she felt disappointed because she was not getting admission to any school.

The story of this HIV victim was carried by The Tribune on September 29. Mr Kapil Dev, district police chief, took personal interest in this case and managed regular study for this girl in the Police Public School.

Mr Kapil Dev said Neena had started getting education in the PPS, but she was not formally admitted as the last date for admissions was over. The Principal of the PPS, said Ms Indu Patel, a dedicated teacher of their school, had taken the responsibility to teach Neena.

Asked about Neena’s first-day response, he said, “Neena is a very active and bright girl; she talks fluently and expresses herself well, and has given an excellent response.”

Overjoyed with Neena’s regular school, Mr Goyal said the district administration had played an excellent role in arranging a school for Neena.


MC clears construction of water treatment plant
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 30
Various development works for the town were cleared at a monthly meeting of the municipal council held here today.

The House decided to use the land falling in Aujlan and Khanpur villages, that had been retrieved from illegal possession by the civic body, for the construction of a water treatment plant. The council had earlier cleared a proposal to get water from the pipeline coming from the Kajuali Waterworks. This water, when made available, could be treated at the plant.

A proposal to demolish the council office building, buildings that housed the block samiti offices and the bus stand was also cleared at the meeting.

The council wanted that a modern bus stand should be constructed in the area and the offices of the civic body and the block samiti should be housed on the first floor of the building. It was decided to approach the Ropar Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

Councillors decided to use the land, which at present was being used as a PWD store, for constructing a mini bus stand. A proposal to purchase the block samiti land near the police station was also cleared. The civic body plans to construct a multi-purpose hall in the area.

The council has directed one of its driver, Amrik Singh, who is working at the office of the Director, Local Government, Punjab, to join duty at the local office within a month failing which his salary would be stopped. The driver was drawing his salary from the local council office but working at the head office in Chandigarh. The issue came up for discussion when a proposal for a loan for the repair of his house was discussed at the meeting.


Change in cops’ uniform by next year
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 30
The Punjab police is likely to switch over from khaki to proposed grey or blue uniform from next year onwards. This will be done in phases. The implementation of the new uniform will be based on the report finalised by the Additional Director-General of Police, Mr G.S. Aujla.

Mr A.A. Siddiqui, the Director-General of the Punjab police, who was addressing mediapersons at the PAP headquarters here today said, the colour of the proposed uniform could be either blue or grey as suggested by the report to be filed by Mr Aujla within a month’s period.

The report would then be sent to the state government’s approval after which the order will be implemented next year.

Talking about Garshankar and Kapurthala byelections, Mr Siddiqui said since the law and order situation was under control there was no need for the deployment of paramilitary forces. “900 policemen would be deployed at Garshankar and 700 at Kapurthala after being detailed from Patiala and Ferozepore ranges,” Mr Siddiqui said.


Notice issued in suspension case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 30
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion and notice for stay on a petition filed by the suspended principal of Government College, Mohali, against his suspension.

The notice was issued for October 7 by the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice J.S. Narang.

In his petition, Mr Harkuldip Singh, whose suspension was ordered by the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, on September 22-23, has levelled serious allegations against Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh.

The petitioner was suspended following a surprise visit to the college by the MLA and SDM, Mohali, M.L. Sharma, on September 16. He was on medical leave.

He has claimed that the DPI (Colleges) yielded to the pressure tactics of the MLA and suspended him without any reason.

The petitioner has said that his suspension is a result of mala fide and hence illegal.

Mr Bir Devinder has been made party by name in the petition.

The case will now come up on October 7.


Samra’s bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 30
The bail plea of Dr Gurvinder Singh Samra in the ICICI Bank loan case was rejected by the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Karnail Singh, here today.

Dr Samra was currently in judicial custody after he was booked by the Jalandhar police in August on the basis of complaints filed by the ICICI Bank that he was not returning parts of two loans of Rs 18 lakh and Rs 20 lakh taken by him for the purchase of two vehicles.

The Jalandhar police had booked Dr Samra under Sections 420, 467 and 468 of the IPC.


Legal awareness camp on Oct 15

Pathankot, September 30
A legal awareness camp will be held on October 15 and lok adalats will be organised here on December 18.

This was decided at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Mr R.K. Garg, SDM.

It was also decided to provide interim legal services to the weaker sections of society. — OC


Grain market row puts farmers in tight spot
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Lack of coordination between the Punjab Mandi Board and the Food Supplies Department has left farmers of Killi Nihalsinghwala and its five nearby villages

They have dumped their paddy stock at the village grain market that has been set up with the permission of the Punjab Mandi Board, but the Director, Food Supplies, has not given his consent to the grain market owing to “lack of staff”.

According to sources, if a grain market is notified by the Mandi Board it should simultaneously be allotted by the Food Supplies Department, which has not happened in this case.

The Sarpanch of Killi Nihalsinghwala, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, told The Tribune here today that the Punjab Mandi Board had given them the permission for setting up a grain market in their village on September 9.

He said the Mandi Board had even made arrangements for light and drinking water at the market, besides opening their office and appointing a peon and a watchman.

He said farmers from the nearby villages had dumped thousands of quintals of paddy at the market about 15 days ago hoping for its early procurement, but not a single grain had been procured from the market till date.

He said the denial of permission from the Director, Food Supplies, had put the farmers in a fix, as they could not shift their paddy stock to other markets, which were already overflowing with paddy.

He said these villages had no grain market in their vicinity, which made them seek the permission for the same in their village. He said it was a prerequisite to provide 2 acres for setting up a grain market and they gave 4 acres so that the village farmers did not have to transport their stock to far-off markets.

He said arhtiyas had even employed labourers to clean paddy at the market.

He said farmers had also engaged 10 to 15 labourers for loading and unloading work, but they were now sitting idle.

Sources said villagers had spent a lot of money on levelling the land they had provided for the grain market.

“Left with no option, farmers are now shifting their paddy stock to the grain markets of Deon, Bhalaia, Goneana, and Gidderbaha,” the Sarpanch said.

He added that yesterday’s shower also caused loss to farmers, as their paddy was lying in the open. He said about 100 farmers, including panchayat members and farmers belonging to Piseana, Kothe Phulewala, Burj, Burj Mehma and Mehma Bhagwana villages had met the Deputy Commissioner, in this connection.

They sought his permission for setting up a grain market at Killi Nihalsinghwala and demanded that government agencies should start paddy procurement there at the earliest.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, said there were anomalies in 2 or 3 cases like Killi Nihalsinghwala. He said the affected farmers should approach the Director, Food Supplies, in this connection, as they were awaiting allotment from his side.


FCI’s here, so produce isn’t
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, September 30
Notwithstanding the tall claims being made by the district administration and paddy procurement agencies, ground realities suggest that the authorities are coming out with inflated figures, which is only adding confusion among farmers. A quick survey of different blocks revealed that officially, 97 procurement centres had been set up in the district and the procurement was formally started in the district by Member of Parliament Preneet Kaur at the anaj mandi.

Four days down the line, out of the 97 centres, paddy procurement was being done at just 50 centres while the rest of the 47 centres had yet to see a grain being procured. This was being attributed to the fact that farmers were wary of bringing their produce to these mandis because of the presence of the Central agency, the FCI.

A union leader revealed that going by their past experience, farmers were wary of delivering paddy to the FCI, mainly because of payment problems they would have to face once their paddy was disposed of. The farmers were content disposing of their produce to state government’s procurement agencies like Markfed, Punjab Agro, Punsup and Punjab Warehousing Corporation.

The confusion has been compounded primarily to a last-minute change in the decision of the State Food and Supplies Department pertaining to the allotment of procurement agencies, including the FCI, to various mandis. Earlier, Markfed and Punsup had been asked to lift paddy from the Bunarheri mandi, but at the last minute, the FCI had been asked to lift stocks. Similarly, in the Balbera block, Punsup had been asked to pull back and in its place, the FCI had been assigned the job of procuring stocks.

A top Punjab Government official revealed that the FCI had been assigned the task of lifting paddy in mandis of Patiala district at the last minute as the state government, keeping in view the exigencies of the two Vidhan Sabha byelections in Gharshanker and Kapurthala, thought it prudent to keep the Central Government agency away from the procurement process in both Assembly segments. In the process, the government adjusted the FCI in Patiala’s mandis after making it opt out from Jalandhar and Kapurthala regions.

During the past two days, a total of 26,201 metric tonnes of paddy had been procured by various agencies, out of which 15,600 metric tonnes of paddy had been lifted by government agencies. This figure is lowered than the period of the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, various associations have joined hands and have appealed to the government to take back the decision of replacing state-owned agencies with the FCI. Mr Surinder Mittal and Mr Gurmajor Singh, president and senior vice-president, respectively, of the Rural Rice millers Association, and Mr Ved Parkash, president of the Patiala Commission Agents Association, have submitted a memorandum to the District Food and Civil Supplies authorities, in which they have stated that if the FCI is not pulled back from the grain markets, they will boycott the paddy procurement process.


Kidwai sworn in Punjab Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Mr A.R. Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, was today sworn in as Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh during the leave period of Justice O.P. Verma (retd), who has proceeded to USA & UK till October 16.

The Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, administered the oath of office to Mr Kidwai at a simple ceremony held at the banquet hall of the Punjab Raj Bhavan.

Mr Kidwai took the oath in English. He signed the oath form which was counter-signed by the Chief Justice. Later, Mr Kidwai, signed separate charge reports, both as Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh.

Earlier, Mr Kidwai, had arrived at the banquet hall of Punjab Raj Bhavan in a ceremonial procession.

Later, the Governor inspected the guard of honour. Immediately after the swearing-in-ceremony, the Governor was congratulated by Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and other Cabinet members. Mr Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the Administrator, Mr R.S. Gujral, Home Secretary, UT, Mr Rajesh Kumar, Inspector General of Police and Mr Arun Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, and other dignitaries were also present in the function.


Official raids MC office
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 30
A check was conducted by the Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ludhiana, at the Municipal Council office here today.

Ms Sarojini Gautam, who visited the office after 4 pm, took a round of the various branches. She called for the record of the engineering wing related to development works carried out in the town during the current year, the works that were in progress and even those whose estimates had been cleared by the House.

It is learnt that she took away some of the documents along with her for a proper check.


Shopkeepers duped by lottery company
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 30
As many as 15 shopkeepers gave a representation to the SSP today, urging him to register a case of fraud against the ITSPL (Sun Shine India
Lottery) and their distributor Fortune Online Marketing Network Private Limited for allegedly duping them of several lakhs of rupees.

In the complaint they alleged that three installments of Rs 50,000 each were given to the company through its distributors which was the required amount for opening online lottery stalls.

This amount according to the agreement was refundable. But the company refused to honour their commitment and return the money, they alleged.

They pointed out that even after the lapse of eight months the company had failed to return their money in spite of the fact that they had given notices to the company as per the requirement of the agreement.

The vendors claimed that there were about 167 aggrieved persons like them in the state who had been duped by the company.


SSPs told to check smuggling of drugs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
The police chiefs of Mansa, Faridkot and Bathinda districts have been told to take strict measures to check smuggling of intoxicating drugs in their respective areas.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the DIG, Mr G.S. Garewal, said that police station heads of border areas had also been told to curb inter-state smuggling of drugs.

He said that Sanjeev Pardhan, who was arrested recently and 4 gm of smack and 870 gm of opium were seized from his possession, used to supply drugs to a number of students who had come from other states to study here.

He said that the police stations had been told to redress the people’s complaints after conducting a thorough probe.

Stern action would be taken against the police stations not registering cases and ignoring people’s complaints, he added.


Panch shot
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 30
In a firing incident at Ladda village, near here, last night, Baljinder Singh (25) a panchayat member, was killed while Sukhman Singh and Gurmeet Singh were injured. The incident took place due to alleged enmity between two groups.

Talking to TNS over the phone today, Mr Jugraj Singh, SHO of Dhuri Sadar police station, said Baljinder Singh succumbed to his injuries on the way to the Civil Hospital.

Baljinder Singh belonged to the group of Jagjit Singh, who unsuccessfully contested the last panchayat elections for the post of sarpanch.

Sukhman Singh and Gurmeet Singh belonged to the group of sarpanch Sukhwinder Singh.

The SHO said in a complaint, Jagjit Singh had alleged that Sukwant Singh, accompanied by three persons, opened fire on them, and a bullet hit Baljinder Singh.

The other group, however, alleged that Jagjit Singh opened fire on them, due to which Sukhman Singh and Gurmeet Singh received bullet injuries.

No arrest had been made so far. Cases had been registered against both groups.


Woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 30
Kamlesh Rani allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in the house of her in-laws in Garrha village in Phillaur subdivision last night.

Swaran Lal, father of the deceased, alleged that his daughter committed suicide due to regular dowry demands.

The Phillaur police has registered a case against Paramjit, her husband, Surjit, her mother-in-law, and Bindi, her brother-in-law.


Man duped of Rs 85,000
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 30
A travel agent has been booked for duping a person of Rs 85,000 under the pretext of sending him abroad.

Sources said that Ranjeet Singh, a resident of Thatha Dalalsingh, wanted to immigrate to Italy and gave a travel agent, Sukhmandar Singh, Rs 1.2 lakh as advance money to him in 2002.

Later, when the travel agent failed to get him migrated to Italy, the complainant asked for him to return his money. Sukhmandar returned only Rs 35,000 and when Ranjeet demanded the whole amount paid to him Sukhmandar threatened him with dire consequences. A case has been registered against the travel agent under Section 420 of the IPC.


Poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
The police today seized 315 kg poppy husk from a house in Kangar village.

No one has been arrested in this connection, as there was nobody in the house at the time of the recovery of poppy husk.

All three accused, who are at large, belong to the Dayalpura area of the city. A case has been registered against them under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Armed men force PUDA officials to leave site
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Some armed persons today forced officials of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to leave when they visited a colony to measure the vacant plots.

Sources said that a part of the land in the colony was earlier encroached upon by the same people and the PUDA had recently got the land vacated.

Today when the PUDA officials reached the colony, a number of people armed with swords and sticks forced them to leave. The police has registered a case against Harjinder Singh, Jatinder Singh, and Gurmit Singh under Sections 353, 186, 506, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Students give fresh call for strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 30
Members of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) today virtually hijacked the stage meant for an inter-college quiz competition in Khalsa College to play the audio recording of the alleged conversation between the Principal, Mr J.S. Dhillon, and an old college student Danish, purportedly “hatching a conspiracy” to eliminate some students to end the strike.

Student leaders gave a fresh call for the strike and later proceeded on to the stage and asked organisers of the quiz competition to let them use the stage.

Tejwinder and Parampal, whose names were taken by the Principal in the tape as “troublemakers”, alleged that the Principal had “hatched a criminal conspiracy” against the students.

They gave a call for an indefinite strike until the Principal was dismissed and an inquiry instituted against him.

Meanwhile, Mr Charanjit Singh Chadda, vice-president of the college management committee, today denied uttering any word against members of the management.

The students would take the issue to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, tomorrow.

Despite several attempts, Mr Dhillon could not be contacted. His wife said probably he was at a meeting with the college management. “By advanced technology anything is possible including visual and audio,” she said.


Varsity renames libraries after Punjabi scholars
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 30
In recognition of scholarly contributions of eminent Punjabi writer Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha and Sikh historian Dr Ganda Singh, the Punjabi University has named its Central Library and Punjabi Reference Library as Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha Library and Dr Ganda Singh Punjabi Reference Library respectively.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Swarn Singh Boparai, unveiled the portraits of these two luminaries at the entrance points of the two libraries.

Paying tributes to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha and Dr Ganda Singh, the Vice-Chancellor emphasised the need to make academic environment of the university vibrant and flexible, which could give direction to the Punjabi youth. “For this we need to become more tolerant to divergent view points and criticisms, which always proves beneficial for the development of minds”, he said.

On the occasion, Major A.P. Singh, a descendant of Bhai Kahn Singh, remembered some of the rare and unique incidents relating to the personal life of Bhai Kahn Singh, which never became known to general public.

Similarly Dr Parm Bakhshish Singh, Registrar of Punjabi University, who spent a long time with Dr Ganda Singh as his colleague in the Department of History, narrated events from Dr Ganda Singh’s personal life, which showed the saintly dedication and commitment of the historian in unraveling the Sikh history.

Dr Devinder Kaur, Librarian, welcomed the guests and expressed joy on this ceremony.

Other dignitaries present on the occasion were Mr S.S. Dhillon, former Health Minister, Prof S.P.S. Virdi, Dean Academic Affairs, and other members of faculty. Dr Jasmer Singh, Deputy Librarian, proposed a vote of thanks.


Tech-fest at varsity from October 2
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 30
A three-day national-level technical festival, La-Fiesta 2004, is being organised by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev University, from October 2 to 4.

Dr Hardeep Singh, Head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said Dr S. K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, would inaugurate the festival.

He said besides technical events like spot-programming, web-page designing, IT quiz, seminar and debugging, the students would participate in antakshri, tambola, singing, dancing, choreography and collage-making.


NAAC award for Batala college
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, has been awarded B++ grade from the National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC).

According to Ms Veena Watni, principal of the college, this grade is the highest for any college in the Gurdaspur district. Dr Indrani Chakravarti was the chairperson of NAAC peer team and Dr M.S. Negi and Dr A.K. Srivastava were the members of the team.

RR Bawa DAV College is the only college of Batala which has been accredited so far.


Industrialists seek 50 pc concession in plot area use
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 30
The Industrial Welfare Association, Phase IX, has demanded a uniform policy in the state under which the Punjab Government had allowed 50 per cent of the floor area of industrial plots for residential purposes in some towns.

Mr Prabhjot Singh Sandhu, president of the association, said at a press conference here today that the Punjab Government had allowed 50 per cent of the floor area of industrial plots for residential purposes in case of focal points at Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Hoshiarpur. He said that the concession should also be allowed in the case of the focal point, Phase IX, Mohali, and other areas. This step would help small scale units to perform better, he added.

Mr Sandhu said a deputation of the association had met the Managing Director of the Punjab Small Industry and Export Corporation (PSIEC) for extending the concession to other focal points as well.

A letter had also been written to the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard. He said that a notification issued by the Director of Industries, Punjab, earlier had allowed 33 per cent of the floor area for residential use.

He welcomed the move of the Punjab Government to attract large scale industry in the state. But at the same time the interests of the small industry should not be ignored, claiming he said, that some incentives were being given to small units had been withdrawn.

Mr Sandhu said the PSIEC had enhanced the prices of industrial plots and was under the impression that it was getting a good response as it had received a large number of applications from interested persons. He said that most of the applicants were only interested in making investments and not in running industrial units.

Mr Sandhu demanded that entry tax should not be imposed on raw material entering the state but on finished goods. He said that if industrial unit owners would have to pay entry tax on raw material, they would not be able to compete with other states.

The association said that the government should set up hydel projects in the state to meet power demand instead of buying power from other states. The shortage of power had hit industrial production.

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