P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Centre rejects Aulakh’s case for deputation
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The Central Government has reportedly turned down Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) M.P.S. Aulakh’s case for deputation with it. In all, the cases of over eight senior Punjab Police officers have so far been rejected by the authorities concerned. Over two dozen names were initially recommended for deputation by the Punjab Police.

The sources in state Home Department claim that ADGP Aulakh’s case was rejected as he was not fulfilling the necessary criterion for deputation with the Centre.

Giving details, the sources asserted that two years’ service before retirement was necessary for central deputation. But ADGP Aulakh had just 10 months to go before his retirement upon attaining the age of superannuation. The sources added that the ADGP was scheduled to retire in August, 2005.

ADGP Aulakh — intelligence chief during the tenure of Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal — was currently in charge of “rules”. He is posted at the Punjab Police headquarters in Sector 9.

Regarding the rejection of other cases, the sources say that a few of the officers were due to retire in the coming few months. Other officers were not having necessary experience for being sent on deputation.

Controversy had shrouded the list ever since it was forwarded to the Central Government. Describing the entire exercise as “farce”, several senior police officers had all along been saying that the state government was not serious about sending officers on deputation. They were claiming that the state had deliberately forwarded the names of officers unfit for the purpose.

The sources assert that the Punjab Government has always been infamous for not sending enough officers on deputation with the Government of India.

Elaborating upon their contention, the sources claim that as per the rules it is mandatory for the state to send at least 31 police officers on deputation with the Centre. But the Punjab Police has been sending far less number of officers.

At present, there are just seven officers. As many as 24 posts are lying vacant. They add that in a large number of cases the Central Government too was not very keen on having Punjab Police officers on deputation with it.


Warrant against Crime Branch DIG
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 14
Taking strong exception to continuously ignoring the court orders, Mr Raj Kumar Garg, SDJM, here today issued “bailable warrants” against the Deputy Inspector General, Crime Branch, Punjab, Mr Balbir Kumar Bawa, in a criminal complaint pending in the court for the past three years.

Acting on a complaint filed on behalf of Mr Om Parkash, a resident of Ganda Pindi village of this subdivision, the SDJM vide orders dated, September 26, 2001, summoned Mr Balbir Kumar Bawa, an IPS officer, now posted as the DIG, Crime Branch, Punjab and two other cops under Sections 323, 324, 342, 350, 352, 357, 363, 365, 506 read with Section 120B of the IPC.

Leveling serious allegations, the victim alleged that on August 9, 1993 while he was posted as catering manager at railway restaurant, Pathankot, the accused constable Joga Singh and Mr Bawa, enquired about the whereabouts of Rajinder Saini, over which he pleaded ignorance.

The complainant was lifted by the accused in an Ambassador car and taken to police station city Pathankot. The victim was stripped and subjected to physical torture. He stated that he was put in a police lock-up and all accused, including IPS officer, constables Raj Kumar and Joga Singh crossed all norms and decency and used third degree methods to torture him.

He said even his wife and relatives were not allowed to meet him. From Pathankot the victim was shifted to Ludhiana where he remained in the custody of CIA staff.

For about a month he was kept in various cells and subjected to third degree torture by the accused. On October 3, 1993, the victim was set free after obtaining signatures on some blank papers.

According to sources, the police has set up a special cell for issuing summons in all district headquarters. The court has issued summons to the accused at least 20 times but the service agency of the police seems to be helpless in executing the summons against responsible police officials, said victim Om Parkash.


Vedanti ignores SGPC order on foreign visits
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
Only 10 days after the decision of the SGPC executive to clip the wings of the Sikh clergy by imposing restrictions on foreign religious itineraries of Sikh high priests and ragis, Giani Joginder, Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, went to the USA without seeking any approval.

Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, had also gone to the USA, it is learnt. Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, a personal assistant and close relative of Jathedar Vedanti, who had gone to Canada during his previous visit, would also join him in New York.

The decision to impose restrictions as the frequent trips of jathedars and ragis had adversely affected routine religious programmes at home. The ragis would get many invitations from foreign Sikhs after acquiring the tag of “Hazoori Ragi”. This resulted in the quality of kirtan coming down, as most of the “Hazoori Ragis” would go abroad on personal invitations. A surprise visit of Bibi Jagir Kaur found that certain ragis also violated the “Raag Maryada”. The SGPC had reportedly received many complaints from the “Sikh Sangat”, which had expressed deep concern over the quality of kirtan at Darbar Sahib.

Manager Darbar Sahib, Mr Major Singh, when contacted, feigned ignorance about the visit of Jathedar Vedanti to the USA.

Interestingly, in the couple of months, Jathedar Vedanti spent more time abroad rather than remaining in India. So much so that he was away to a foreign country during the crucial general elections of the SGPC and, hence, could not implement the “religious code”, which was issued by himself before the poll.

A meeting of the SGPC executive , presided over by Bibi Jagir Kaur, held here on October 4 had appealed to the Sikh sangat of foreign countries not to invite jathedars, priests and ragis directly. She had urged that the invitations be through the SGPC only so that all religious personalities could get equal chance to preach Sikhism in an effective and desired way. However, the decision had evoked mixed response from different parts of the world .

According to sources close to Jathedar Akal Takht, Jathedar Vedanti did not consult anybody to leave the country, as he wanted to convey clear signals to all concerned that the institution of Sikh high priests was above the SGPC.

As per the programme, Jathedar Vedanti would address the Sikh Sangat at New York on October 16 and 17.


Pensioners seek enhanced allowances
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
In Punjab, pensioners, over 5 lakh, want more. The government says no more. It also rues that its entire revenue receipts are not sufficient to meet even committed expenditure on salaries and interest repayment, what to say of more of pension and retirement benefits.

The salary and pension bills continue to balloon over the years. In a presentation to the 12 Finance Commission in July, the Finance Department had said the salary and wage bill was Rs 5,151 crore and pension bill Rs 1,394 crore in 2003-04.

In a bid to deflate the burgeoning balloon of the babudom, the government initiated certain steps to make administration cost-effective and efficient. For the first time, a master manpower register was proposed to accurately estimate the number of employees on its payroll and vacancies that would arise between 2002 and 2006. However, this register did not identify surplus posts. This was because administrative departments had withheld access to “inside” information.

Though the plan to set up a surplus pool of its employees was announced in June, 2003, it has not yet become operational. While the requisite rules are still being debated, voluntary retirement scheme has not found favour so far.

Thus even as the government struggles to cap its babus and bureaucrats, it has already given enough indication to loosen the cap and allow fresh recruitment into government service. On the other hand, pensioners are restive, who often quote the ruling Congress election manifesto-2002, wherein it had promised to give them their dues, including enhanced medical and house rent allowance.

These retired employees have formed the Government Pensioners Association. Its additional general secretary, Mr Yash Pal Ghai, says, “All we demand is a fair deal from society. In the process of setting its own house in order, the government has discriminated against us”. Several times over, the association has raised its voice, yet there was no response from the government.

The fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 to a retired employee, since January 1, 1998, was too inadequate, while the cost of medicare and health delivery services had shot up several times. Thus, a raise in this allowance was overdue. “Lesser said the better, on reimbursement of medical bills. Meagre allocation in the Budget is a major stumbling block in the clearance of bills, despite intervention of the High Court, on several occasions,” Mr Ghai said.

The benefit of old-age allowance was not extended to the pensioners, who attained the age of 80 years, despite the recommendation of the Third Pay Commission, made 16 years ago, he added. The financial outgo, if this recommendation was implemented, would be negligible, as not even 5 per cent retired persons reached that age, he argues.

In accordance with the recommendations of the pay panel, every pre-1996 retired employee is to be granted 50 per cent pension of the minimum of the revised grade effective from January 1, 1996, of the post held at the time of retirement. This benefit is available to the Central Government and Haryana employees but not in Punjab.

What to speak of government, the pensioners rue that even 1 per cent higher rate of interest permissible to senior citizens over the normal rate of interest offered by banks during the NDA-Government has now been withdrawn by the UPA Government.

The retired employees, may be of the Central or state government, share common woes. Retired Central Government employees continue to get Rs 100 per month, as fixed medical allowance, since 1997. A revision was demanded.


Hope turns into despair for biological parents
Our Correspondent

Harish and Manju with Muskan after hearing in the child-swapping case in Amritsar on Thursday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, October 14
Hope turns into despair for Harish and Manju when the court of Ms Harpreet Kaur Randhawa, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), today dismissed their application for the custody of their biological son, Amarpartap Singh.

In the child-swapping case in the district courts complex here, the court said on the basis of DNA test only, the custody of child could not be given to their reported biological parents at this stage as further proceedings were on in the case. The next hearing in the case would be held on October 21.

Amarpartap was holding his ‘parents’, Sukhminder and Ranjit who brought him up, tightly. He seemed nervous and confused as hoards of mediapersons followed him and his parents for clicking photographs. His fate still hangs in balance as Harish said he would move to the High Court for his custody.

The happiness, which was enlightening them yesterday, eluded faces of Manju and Harish after the decision today. However, putting up brave front, Harish said, “When we have already decided to engage in legal fight for their child, we will fight till the end”.

The couple came to know about their child when midwife, Ramesh Rani, confessed to the swapping of Amarpartap and selling him to Sukhminder Singh and Ranjit Kaur of Raipur village for Rs 4 lakh during investigations in another case.

During the trial of cases registered against Ramesh Rani, the court had ordered for DNA report which later established that Amarpartap was a biological son of Harish and Manju and not of Sukhminder and Ranjit.

Manju had given birth to Amarpartap at a private nursing home owned by Ramesh Rani in 2001. However, she fell unconscious during delivery and later she was told that she had delivered a baby girl who is now being brought up by them.

On the other hand, Sukhminder and Ranjit Kaur were elated over the decision. For now the decision has come as a great relief to them. They said they won’t part from their son. He said Amarpartap was his son and he would too fight the case till the end.


Multiple drug abuse common in Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Is Punjab drugged? Yes, if official figures are an indication. And when the government puts drug trafficking and drug menace on its agenda for talks with the Centre to seek financial and technical help to combat this, the answer is more in the affirmative.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, is on record having expressed concern that a state-sponsored “secret” survey in Ludhiana had revealed that 67 per cent boys and 52 per cent girls in schools and colleges took drugs. He favours a national drug policy to deal with the malady.

To evolve an action plan to tackle the problem of drug abuse, the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, chaired a meeting recently, where the following statistics were revealed, though police representatives had disagreed and tried to downplay the magnitude of the problem:

Multiple drug abuse is common. There is at least one drug addict in a family in over 66 per cent households in Doaba and Majha. Drug addiction afflicts 49 per cent households in urban slum areas and 70 per cent in villages. Approximately 40 per cent youth in the age group of 15 years and 25 years are drug addicts. If narcotics grow on the youth of Majha and Malwa, tranquilisers allure the youth in Doaba.

Who is responsible for this growing menace, its ill-effects on health and emergence as a social evil ? How is it linked to HIV/AIDS infection in intravenous drug users and sex workers? Which are the main sources of drug trafficking and who all patronise this illegal trade? What type of intoxicants, apart from liquor, are prevalent? What factors promote drug abuse? Is the existing law sufficient to deal with this menace? What role can social and religious organisations and NGOs play to educate the people and make them aware of the devastating damage drugs cause to the family’s and society’s fabric?

The answer to such questions is neither unknown nor hidden. Even the modus operandi and source of smuggling of narcotics, drugs, opium, its derivatives, “bhuki”, poppy husk, smack, heroin, synthetic drugs, etc. are also known.

Now, the Department of Social Security, Women and Children Development has been designated as the nodal agency to deal with this subject. An action plan has been prepared, involving departments of health and family welfare, home, education, public relations. Their functions and targets too have been defined.

The Secretary, Social Security, Mr R.L. Kalsia, says that given the serious dimensions of the menace, involvement of the community is imperative to save Punjab. “It is only co-operative, collaborative effort right from the family to the state, which alone can help save the state and de-addict the users”.

It is surprising that despite a plethora of laws and Acts, enforcement is tardy because of inadequacy of the staff and finances. Just one example would do. In the Department of Health and Family Welfare, there are only 7 drug inspectors and 2 assistant drug controllers at Chandigarh, against the requirement of 72. Yet, the department claims to be “vigorously enforcing” provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act and control the sale of habit-forming drugs to a large extent!

Also, were the government serious, the nodal agency would have received the promised Rs 2 crore the Chief Minister had announced at a meeting he had chaired to “review” the extent of drug menace, some time back.

Notwithstanding the intra-departmental disputes over statistics on drug trafficking or percentage of drug addicts or role of enforcement agencies or who all patronise drug smuggling racket etc., the fact is drug menace is widespread and deep in society.

Both the nodal agency and the Health Department talk of operational drug de-addiction centres set up them in different districts, official as well as run by NGOs, and say more were required. No doubt, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment gives money for drug de-addiction centres, the funds were too inadequate.

Claims of action taken under various Acts by different agencies notwithstanding, the problem persists and continues to multiply. It is shocking that even village health functionaries are a source of supply of drugs and intoxicants, besides drug-peddlers, who entice farmers, labour, truck drivers. Quacks, chemists and confectionary shops near educational institutions also act as drug conduits.

Mr Kalsia said society needed more psychiatrists, psychologists and social scientists. In Punjab, Dr Rajeev Gupta, who runs a de-addiction centre at Ludhiana, says: “Drug addiction is becoming an important cause of death among youth. Death can be caused because of overdose of the drug or by an anaphylactic (allergic) reaction. It can also result from sudden cardiac arrest for unknown reasons”.

Punjab has faced not only drug menace but also narco-terrorism. The state can not be allowed to become home of dopes! Is there hope of saving Punjab?


Mandeep’s mother demands capital punishment for Narinder
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Batala, October 14
It is an incident involving love, hatred, revenge and self-righteousness that can easily become a plot for a Bollywood movie. A frustrated lover Narinder Singh threw acid on his paramour and her sister here on Tuesday.

Besides inflicting 40 per cent burns on the victim’s body he also put in jeopardy the marriage of Mandeep Kaur, the elder sister of his paramour. Mandeep Kaur was due to get married on Wednesday just a day after the acid attack on her resulting in the defacement of a portion of her face and the upper part of the body.

A self-righteous person Kawaljit Singh decided to marry Mandeep Kaur despite disfiguring of her face and body. Yesterday he got married to her as per fixed programme. Today while sitting by the bedside of his newly-wed wife in a hospital he told The Tribune that he could desert not Mandeep just because her face had got disfigured. “Had her face got disfigured after marriage what could I have done,” he asked?

Mandeep Kaur
Mandeep Kaur

Kuljit Kaur
Kuljit Kaur

Narinder Singh
Narinder Singh

As if this was not enough the frustrated lover later repenting his act threw acid on his eye and body. Today, when contacted in the police lock-up Narinder said when he came to know that the eye of Kuljit Kaur had been damaged he threw acid on his eye also. His eye was injured due to acid but the police sources told that his vision was intact.

Narinder said he took this decision in a fit of rage. Kuljit Kaur had allegedly rejected his marriage proposal. He had read about the acid attack on a girl in Shimla in newspapers. In frustration the same idea of getting back at the unfaithful paramour struck him. He took acid from his electric goods repair shop and stopped both sisters while they were going to attend duty in a local private hospital. He threw acid on his paramour. Her sister, however, got injured in the attack.

The parents of the girls were, however, inconsolable. Their father Joginder Singh, a labourer, said the acid attack on her daughter had ruined their family.

He alleged that the police was adopting soft attitude towards Narinder Singh. The accused had presented to throw acid on his body just to save himself from the police torture.

The mother of Kulwant Kaur demanded capital punishment for the accused who ruined the life of her daughters. If the police cannot punish the accused they should hand him over to them. An example should be made out of him so that nobody repeats the act, she said with moist eyes.

What troubled the parents the most was that a section of media had made a martyr of the person who ruined the life of their daughters.

Shocked over the incident the girls were not in a position to give their statement. Dr Lakhbir Singh, who was treating them said one eye of younger sister Kuljit Kaur had been damaged. her vision could be restored after retoplasty. Her face had also been disfigured. It could only be restored by plastic surgery, he added. The parents of the girls however, cannot afford the cost of retoplasty and plastic surgery.


Repoll in Garhshankar village today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday ordered repoll at a booth in Kalewal Bhagtan village in Garhshankar assembly constituency. The polling will take place from 8 am to 5 pm on October 15.

The staff under Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) G.S. Cheema revealed that repolling was recommended by the returning officer following attempts by some miscreants to storm in.

The incident had taken place at about 3.30 pm on Wednesday. The reports reaching here had claimed that hooligans managed to escape with poll related material after barging into a polling booth. As a result, polling process remained disrupted for “quite some time”. 


Two deras at loggerheads over charge of gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 14
Tension prevailed at two city gurdwaras today, as two deras are daggers drawn over the possession of one of the gurdwaras. Both the deras are making their claims on Baba Mal Singh Gurdwara situated at Patti Duneke in the old city.

Hundreds of men and women of Baba Mal Singh Dera were camping at the controversial gurdwara, while the other group, Baba Hamir Singh Dera, Janer village, was busy in hectic parleys with the local MLA, Mr Tota Singh, who was trying to resolve the issue at the other gurdwara on the Partap road.

Police personnel were also deployed at Baba Mal Singh Gurdwara to avoid any untoward incident.

Baba Paramjit Singh of the gurdwara in question said he was formally handed over the charge of the gurdwara about 35 years back and followers of Baba Hamir Singh Dera was making efforts to occupy it “illegally”. Mr Jagjit Singh Gill of Baba Mal Singh Dera said their rival group had threatened them that they would come to the gurdwara to take its charge today that led to the convergence of devotees there. According to them, the controversy began when a person sought permission from the municipal council for using a vacant land near the gurdwara on the Partap road for holding some programmes on Janmashtmi. The MC denied him permission after which he approached Baba Mahender Singh of Janer dera who reportedly gave him go ahead.

Mr Gill said dance programmes and gambling were openly organised near the gurdwara premises for six days. A gurdwara wall was also demolished, he alleged. Devotees at Baba Mal Singh Gurdwara alleged that no ‘path’ could be performed for the six days, which was sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.

They also objected to Baba Mahinder Singh’s reported move of allowing the use of space near gurdwara for such activities. They said devotees also sought clarification from him following which he apologised and also organised an ‘Akhand Path’. Mr Gill said they had also talked with SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh who said action would be taken against guilty if they gave a written application for the same.

Mr Gill alleged that yesterday a person from the other group came to the gurdwara and started performing Japji Sahib’s path in the afternoon. Soon devotees from the nearby areas gathered and asked him to leave, but he unsuccessfully attacked a devotee, he said.

On the other hand, the chief of Dera Baba Hamir Singh, Mahinder Singh, showed some documents while making his claim on both the gurdwaras and their property. He said there was no question of taking possession of the gurdwara in question, as it already belongs to them.

He said they had sent five persons to take charge of the gurdwara yesterday, but the other group forced them to leave. He said they wanted to observe the death anniversary of Sant Baba Darshan Singh at Baba Mal Singh Gurdwara. He also showed some pamphlets of the previous years to corroborate his claim that they had been celebrating the occasion at the gurdwara in previous years too. 


Impostor also took Phagwara admin for a ride
Our Correspondent

Phagwara October 14
The impostor, Amandip Mittal, of Kalyanpur village falling under the Lambra police station of Jalandhar district, who was yesterday arrested by the Bathinda police, had enjoyed VVIP treatment and official hospitality at Phagwara, too, for two days by masquerading as Aman, PA to AICC President Sonia Gandhi. He had flaunted his address as 10, Janpath Road, New Delhi, official residence of Ms Gandhi. Mittal, however, had turned out to be merely a Youth Congress activist.

The local administration had got a phone call from the Anandpur Sahib authorities on July 25 that the PA of Mrs Gandhi was coming on a personal visit to Phagwara and arrangements for his stay and security should be made. Mittal came here on July 26 in a Toyota Qualis No PB01-3832.An official from Anandpur Sahib accompanied him. He was received at the local PWD Rest House by a senior officer. A cosy room was booked for him at a local hotel and he was provided with security.

The impostor held a meeting with a senior police official here and discussed the law and order situation with him. He also visited the local Civil Hospital, held a meeting with the SMO. He asked about the welfare of the patients and got his blood group checked. He even met a ‘sevadar’ of the Sant of Domeli village dera who was hospitalised here after he sustained injuries in an assault.

The cringing officials kept saying “Yes Sir! Yes Sir!” to the impostor without anyone bothering to verify his credentials. Even when certain mediamen brought to the notice of a senior official that the “PA” of Ms Gandhi was an impostor, none cared to cross-check. The impostor even promised a local Congress activist to get him a state-level office in the PPCC. However, the Congress activist smelt a rat when the PA asked him to get his vehicle filled with fuel. Even some intelligence persons mingled with Congressmen and almost came to know about the PA being fake.

However, the shrewd impostor got a wind of it and slipped away from his hotel before anything could be done. The SSP, Kapurthala, later ordered an inquiry, on July 28, into the episode but the findings of the probe could not be known. In the meanwhile, the Bathinda police arrested the impostor where, again, he was enjoying official hospitality masquerading as PA of Ms Gandhi. 


‘Sharad Utsav’ to begin on Oct 18
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 14
The three-day annual classical music festival, “Sharad Utsav”, organised by the Kapurthala Heritage Trust will commence at Sainik School here on October 18.

Giving details of the programme, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner and member of the trust, said the festival would begin with a cultural evening to be held on October 18, when a Pakistani singer, Javed Babar Niazai, would enthral the audience. The singer has a link with this city because his father, Tufail Niazi, belonged to Kapurthala Gharana and was recognised internationally for his traditional folk singing.

Well-known kathak dancer, Padma Bhushan Uma Sharma would also perform on the same evening. She will be performing a specially choreographed raas leela of Braj for the season of the Sharad Purnima.

On the second evening of the cultural festival, Javed and Mazhar Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana and grandsons of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, will perform. Pakistani singer Sher Miandad will also enthral the audience with Punjabi sufiana qawwalis.

The concluding day will have Padam Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj, one of the most celebrated vocalists and Sarv Shri Budhaditva Mukerji, country’s most well-known sitarist.

Brig Surjit Singh, heir of the royal family, and one of the chief organisers of the festival, said the festival was organised annually to preserve the legacy of classical music of Kapurthala. He said the place had emerged as an important centre for classical music, especially under the patronage of Kanwar Bikrama Singh and Raja Sir Daljit Singh.


2 top Ludhiana doctors’ licence cancelled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Taking a bold step to enforce medical ethics and the code of conduct prepared by the Indian Medical Council, the Punjab Government has cancelled the registration of two leading Ludhiana-based doctors, who were running a fertility clinic. They have been disallowed to do private medical practice till further orders, said a government spokesman.

A decision in this connection was taken at a meeting of the Punjab Medical Council held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. The Director General of Punjab Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, and Dr Manmohan Singh, president of the council, were also present at the meeting.

There are about 34,409 doctors registered with the Punjab Council. As many as 54 other doctors have also been issued show-cause notices for not following the code of conduct.

Mrs Bhattal said that the council would give full attention to resolve the problems faced by private medical practitioners. She said that at each district headquarter, a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner had been set up to deal with the problems faced by private doctors. The committee would be holding camps to enlist the problems faced by doctors.

At the meeting, a decision was taken to take strict action against the doctors doing practice without registration. To check the growing menace of drugs, a programme has been planned by the council.


Dispensary without power, doctor
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga: The Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) dispensary located at Focal Point here is running without power and water for the last two years. The dispensary that caters to about 2,000 factory workers and their dependants is a picture of neglect.

Sources said that the ESI dispensaries were opened under a Centrally-sponsored scheme but their control lies in the hands of the state governments concerned.

The staff of a firm having over 10 employees can avail the facility of ESI health centres.

According to sources, the ESI dispensary in Moga has no electricity for the last 2 years and its 5-member staff has tolerated two scorching summers in succession without a single fan. Earlier, medicines that needed cooling were ordered in a lot as the dispensary had a refrigerator, but now they order medicines as per their immediate requirement. “Power bill could not be paid as no budget was allotted for the same in office expenses,” sources said, adding that the bill may have run into thousands of rupees.

The dispensary doesn’t have an official arrangement for drinking water and the employees manage the same on their own.

Surprisingly, the dispensary, which has no provision of admitting patients, has about a dozen rooms and 2 halls, besides a couple of toilets that are presently covered with a thick layer of dust. A post of doctor and all vacancies of class IV employees were lying vacant. The dispensary has a single doctor who also has to look after the ESI dispensary in Kotkapura, which he visits twice a week.

There is not a single sweeper to clean up the premises of this dispensary and the staff has appointed a person for the job on their own. They pay him about Rs 500-600 per month from their own pocket. Sources said that earlier the staff had even arranged a gardener to look after the saplings planted on its premises but he was asked to leave as they could not bear the cost of 2 employees.

This spurred the growth of congress grass on its campus, which served as a breeding ground for dangerous snakes. Sources said that whenever a staff member opens a room he first makes it sure that there is no snake in the room. Once a pair of snakes had entered into a locked room through some hole and the hospital staff could not find any snake charmer to get rid of them. After making various efforts for a couple of days they left the room open one day so that they could move out, the sources added.

When contacted, the local Employees State Insurance Corporation officials said that they could not do anything in this connection as the state government has the authority for the same and the dispensary staff should write to their higher-ups for power and water problem. The CMO, Dr S.K. Bansal, expressed his inability to comment on the issue right now and said that he would personally visit the dispensary soon to look into the problem.


Lawyers demand graft case against Ferozepore Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 14
The District Bar Association (DBA) today passed a resolution demanding that a corruption case be registered against the Ferozepore Commissioner, Mr B. Sarkar. A lawyer, Mr Harpartap Singh Sandhu, had levelled graft allegations against him.

A unanimous resolution was passed in the general meeting of the DBA demanding his suspension and registering a case of corruption against him. The DBA chief, Mr Bikramjit Singh, said the Commissioner’s attitude had always been negative and almost all his decisions were suspicious.

It was decided in the meeting that a copy of the resolution would be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Prime Minister, Home Ministry, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, New Delhi, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Governor of Punjab, Chief Minister and human rights commission, demanding a high-level probe against the commissioner.

The association also demanded suspension of all his verdicts. The association members alleged that the Commissioner’s attitude towards people and lawyers was not good.

Mr B. Sarkar has the additional charge of Faridkot division. He has Faridkot, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Mansa, Moga and Muktsar under his charge.


Row over ‘Mundavni’ resurfaces
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
The Damdami Taksal (Bhinderan) and the Akhand Kirtani Jatha seem to be on warpath on a controversy over ‘Mundavni’, authored by Sikh scholar Giani Gurdit Singh. Jatha members claimed that the ‘Maryada’ published by Taksal did not conform to the ‘Maryada’, prescribed by Akal Takht and the SGPC.

While Jathedar of Patna Sahib Giani Iqbal Singh had already imposed a ban on the controversial book ‘Mundavni’, the Damdami Taksal had supported the move. However, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha has openly come in the support of Giani Gurdit Singh and concluded that the bhog of Akhand Path should be on ‘Mundavni’ only. Bibi Harsharn Kaur and Bhai Mohan Singh said that Akal Takht was supreme and its directive on panthic issues should be considered as final. They said other takhts had the right to take up local issues only.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha said the controversy over ‘Mundavni’ was uncalled for as the matter was closed by Akal Takht and the SGPC in 1945. Hence, as per the panthic decision, ‘Raagmala’ has not been recited from Akal Takht since then. The jatha members said nobody had the right to divide the panth by raising controversial issues again and again.


Clay tablets at ‘Sanjhi’ exhibition
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 14
Women from nearby rural areas who had been here for the past three days to recreate the magic of “Sanjhi Devi” by depicting her on clay tablets, saw their work being inaugurated by folk singer of yesteryear Surinder Kaur.

“Sanjhi”, a festival fighting for survival in the state, marks the harvest season during which women decorate their houses with images of “Sanjhi Devi” to ensure prosperity.

Speaking on the occasion, Surinder Kaur, who was accompanied by her daughter Dolly Guleria, said she was overjoyed at steps being taken to save the festival from extinction.

“These images remind me of my youth when these would be plastered on walls in villages. However with the passage of time, this custom disappeared completely,” she said adding that there were very few people left who were conversant with this art technique.

Giving information about the workshop conducted in this regard, coordinator Kamlesh Sharma said more than 40 participants attended the workshop.

She said all participants had been given relevant materials, including clay and other decorative objects, to create their own manifestation of the “devi”.

The creations have been put on display at Banasar Art Gallery in Sheesh Mahal complex.


Implement service condition act: CITU
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 14
Members of the Punjab State Committee of (CITU) here today held a rally to press for the implementation of the Building and other Construction Workers Regulation of Employment and Service Conditions Act, 1996, for eight lakh workers in Punjab. The implementation of the Act has been hanging fire for eight years.

They held a big protest march at Matka Chowk in support of their demands. The march started from the office of the Labour Commissioner, Punjab and ended at the Matka Chowk.

Mr Harinder Singh Randhawa, Punjab State general secretary of CITU, said nearly eight lakh construction workers were living a miserable life in Punjab due to non-implementation of Act. He also made demand of construction of sheds for the labourers at labour chowks.

The Labour Commissioner of Punjab, Mr Som Parkash, assured the gathering that the Act would be implemented in one month. He said the directions had been issued to the Deputy Commissioners to construct sheds at the labour chowks and taken stern actions against those who do not pay the labourers their due.

The rally was addressed by the chairman of the union, Mr Chander Shekhar, Jaswant Sandhu and Balwinder Singh.


Two motor cycles, one number!
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 14
Davinder Singh, a resident of Meerpur village, was in for a crude shock when he inserted the key to start his bike only to find that it was not his vehicle.

When the engine failed to start, he got down and found that the vehicle he was trying to start was in fact someone else’s but bore same registration number.

The vehicle had had been parked by someone adjacent to Davinder’s bike in the courtyard of the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi.

On contacting the owner of the second motor cycle, Jagtar Singh, it was revealed that the registration authorities at the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Dera Bassi, had issued same number (PB-70-5138) to both vehicles in 2003.

Jagtar Singh has now been issued a new number (PB-70-5137) for his bike.


Tributes paid to Col Raminder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
A gathering of mourners today paid a silent tribute to Punjab’s former Director, Sports, Col Raminder Singh, who breathed his last at Mohali on October 4 following a massive heart attack.

Leading the stream of mourners was the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, his wife, Mrs Preneet Kaur, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and members of the Punjab Cabinet, including Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang and Mr Harnam Das Johar. Mrs Jaswant Kaur, widow of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, her daughter Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister of State for Social Security, Punjab, and widow of Colonel Raminder Singh, Mr Amandeep Singh, son, besides close confidants of former Chief Minister Beant Singh were also present.


Judicial custody for woman in cheating case
Our Correspondent

Lalru, October 14
Sukhbir Kaur of Chandiala village, who was arrested by the police for cheating Ran Singh, a youth of Malikpur village on the pretext of providing him a job in Malaysia and was today remanded in judicial custody till October 27. She was produced before the court of Sub Judge A.P. Batra, in Rajpura today.

Her two accomplices — Balbir Singh and Mohinder Singh — are still at large. Raids are being conducted by the police at their suspected hideouts. A case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC has been registered against them.

The trio — Sukhbir Kaur, her son Balbir Singh and brother Mohinder Singh, a resident of Thol in Kurukshetra — were booked for duping Ran Singh of Rs 90, 000 on the pretext of sending him to Malaysia on a ‘work permit’ in March 2004. The youth was arrested by the Malaysia police after he was transported to Malaysia from Thailand.


Traffic first-aid posts in Muktsar soon
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, October 14
The district civil and police authorities have decided to set up two traffic first-aid posts in the district.

Addressing a meeting of District Traffic Control Advisory Committee here on Tuesday, Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, said traffic first-aid posts had become the need of the hour. So far 75 lives had been lost in road accidents in this year. Also a number of people had suffered multiple injuries.

He said traffic first-aid posts had been planned in Muktsar and Malout in the first phase for on-the-spot aid to the road accident victims.


Engineering institute Director suspended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 14
In a significant development, Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, Sant Harchand Singh Logowal Central Institute of Engineering and Technology, Longowal, has been suspended by the Punjab Chief Secretary and Chairman of Board of Governors, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology Longowal.

By another order, the Punjab Chief Secretary and Chairman of the BoG of the SLIET gave Mr H.P. Singh, Additional Director, Technical Education, Punjab, the officiating charge as Director, SLIET, Longowal, in addition to his own duties.


Tyres worth Rs 9 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 14
Hundreds of tyres worth about Rs 9 lakh were stolen from a showroom located on the busy Bhatti road here last night. Thieves broke the shutter with the help of a gas cutter.

The deteriorating law and order situation in the town has led to a sense of insecurity among the residents.

Police sources said the thieves, numbering about 10, also kidnapped the watchman of that area who was later dropped near Rampura town.

The Goniana town, about 15 km from here, has been witnessing incidents of thefts for the past three days. Two days ago, thieves broke the locks of Raja Music Centre and took away goods worth Rs 20,000.

In yet another theft, thieves struck in Goniana town last night and broke the shutters of Sivia Medical Hall and Brar Book Depot. They also struck at the veterinary hospital, Bhokhra village, situated at a stone’s throw from Goniana town.

Fingerprint experts failed to find any clue to the theft at the tyre showroom, sources added.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, could not be contacted as he was busy in a meeting.

In another case, the police seized about 500 grams of opium from Sanjeev, Mahinder and Surinder. They were taking the opium in a Gypsy while they were arrested in the area that falls under the Sangat police station. A case has been registered under the NDPS Act.

Apart from it, Gurmail Singh and Piara Singh were also arrested for their alleged involvement in distillation of illicit liquor.


Rs 80,000 stolen from scooter
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 14
A sum of Rs 80,000 was stolen from the dickey of a scooter parked in front of the local branch of State Bank of Patiala along the Kalka-Ambala highway in this afternoon.

According to the police, Mr Ajit Singh, a resident of Rampur Sainian village, withdrew Rs 40,000 for purchasing a tractor-trailer from the bank and put the money in the scooter’s-dickey. An additional amount of Rs 40,000 was already in the dickey.

In his complaint to the police, Mr Ajit Singh said after putting the money in the dickey, he went inside the bank. He found the dickey broken when he returned. The money was also missing.

Residents of the area said that similar incidents had occurred at the same place many times. Since the bank is located along the busy highway thieves keep an eye on bank consumers who come to withdraw money. 


Punjab to recruit teachers on regular basis
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 14
The Punjab Government has decided that teachers in the state would not be hired on contract but recruited on a regular basis. This was announced by Education Minister Harnam Das Johar at a meeting of the District Grievances Redressal Committee here today.

Mr Johar said the process of filling vacancies for the posts of teacher was being started. He denied that the government was going to close schools with less population of students. He said no school was being closed. Rather the government was taking steps to improve the education system. The government was committed that the children of the state get good and standard education, he added.

He said there was shortage of teachers in the state. There were 12,000 posts of teacher and about 5000 posts of principal were lying vacant in the state following a stay by court.

In order to ensure proper education in rural areas during transfers, he said the authorities concerned had been directed that no teacher should be relieved till the other teacher was available for the same vacancy from rural area.

He said if the panchayat land was be acquired by any body illegally, the BDPO would be held responsible for it. He also directed the forest officials to take steps to save trees in the area.


Planned-post teachers to observe ‘black Divali’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 14
After having observed black Independence Day and black Teachers Day in the past, teachers of government senior secondary schools, recruited under planned category, have started contemplating to observe black Divali, as they have not been paid salaries for the past five months.

Almost all teachers posted in about 500 senior secondary schools of Punjab, which were upgraded in 2001, have been facing the situation where they have started borrowing money for routine expenses.

The state government has failed to sanction the continuation of their posts and subsequently failed to release necessary budget for the payment of their salaries.

Interestingly, a section of principals of these schools are facing a peculiar situation as they have been empowered to draw and disburse the salaries to subordinate staff, but rendered incapable to draw their own salaries.


Acting Principal shifted
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 14
The District Education Officer (Secondary), Faridkot, Mrs Sukhmander Kaur Brar, has relieved Mrs Surinder Kaur from the post of acting Principal of Dr Chanda Singh Marwah Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Kotkapura.

She has been sent to her parent cadre of lecturer in the same institution. Mr Darshan Singh, one of the senior lecturers, has been vested with the powers to head the institution, till the posting of a regular principal by the government.

According to reports, the DEO has taken this step following a series of complaints from hostellers and their parents against Surinder Kaur.


Zonal youth festivals begin
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 14
A three-day zonal youth festival of Punjabi University kicked off to a colourful start at the Government College of Physical Education here today.

Teams from 18 colleges of Patiala zone are participating in the festival wherein competitions will be held in folk and classical dances, painting, poetry recitation, western vocal (solo), cartooning and group shabads besides other categories.

The festival was inaugurated by university’s Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai.

In his address, he said the rich cultural legacy inherited by Punjabis in the form of folk art and dance was not only a source of entertainment but also beacon to follow code of conduct in life.

He added that the aim of the festival was to propagate and protect the folk tradition.

The Guest of honour, MC Mayor Vishnu Sharma, while announcing a special grant for the host college, said financial aid would help turn many city colleges into model institutions of education.

Dwelling on the need for staying in constant touch with one’s roots, he appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University in popularising folk culture of the state.

The Government College of Physical Education bagged first prize in folk dance competition, while second prize was went to Punjabi University.

While the team from university campus won top honours in classical dance, the second place was bagged by the Govt College for Girls, Patiala.

Khalsa College won the folk and ghazal singing competition, while Government College for Girls bagged second position in the event.

The top honours in group singing went to Govt College for Girls, while and second position went to Mohindra College.


Dhillon-Ranu group sweeps PSEB association poll
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 14
The Dhillon-Ranu group has again swept the elections to the Punjab School Education Board Non-Teaching Employees Association, polling for which was held here today. The group has won the election for the fourth time in a row.

The results were declared in the evening. Mr Gurdeep Singh Dhillon, who secured 959 votes, was declared the president of the association. His rival Harbans Singh Dholewal got 762 votes. Mr Ranjit Singh Mann, who contested for the post of senior vice-president got 870 votes against 833 polled by Mr Gurmel Singh Maujewal. Mr Bhagwant Singh Bedi, who was declared general secretary, secured 915 votes while his rival Amar Singh Dhaliwal got 810 votes.

Others who have won the elections are, Mr Jasbir Singh Gill (908), Mr Jaswant Singh Brar (912), Mr Jarnail Singh Chunni (914), Mrs Amarjit Kaur (874), Mr Harinder Pal Singh Harry (921), Mr Dharampal Hoshiarpuri (885), Mr Surinder Pal Singh Shinda (903), and Mr Raghbir Singh Toki (925).

The voting, which started at 10 am, continued till 1 pm. Six polling booths had been set up on the premises of the board while two at textbook sales depots in Amritsar and Bathinda.


Arhtiyas offer marketing plan to Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 14
The Federation of Arhtiya Associations of Punjab has offered a marketing plan to Pakistan during the visit of the country’s Agriculture and Marketing Minister Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon to Punjab recently.

Stating this today, association president Bal Krishan Singla said a delegation of arhtiyas explained the marketing system to the visiting dignitary.

He was told how 140 lakh tonnes of paddy and 120 lakh tonnes of wheat, besides 32 lakh bales of cotton, were marketed within a period ranging from one and half to two months.

While appreciating the marketing technique prevalent in Punjab, the minister said middlemen there neither bought nor sold produce of farmers and instead fleeced them on one pretext or the other.

The minister admitted that proper marketing was not possible without cooperation from arhtiyas and said the interest of farmers could only be safeguarded if such institutions existed.

The association president said the minister invited a team of arhtiyas to Pakistan to teach similar techniques to their counterparts there.

The other members of the delegation that called on the minister were Vijay Kalra, Amarjit Singh Brar, Swarn Singh, Vijay Jhanjhi, Devi Dayal Goyal and Kulwinder Singh.

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