P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Poohla booked on abduction, murder charges
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 17
Ajit Singh Poohla, facing allegations of abduction, encroachment and ransom, and six of his associates have been booked on the charges of abducting and killing a Moga resident in October 1990.

The action against Poohla came following a complaint by Sada Singh, a son of the deceased, Mohan Singh.

According to his complaint, Sada Singh’s family came in contact with Poohla in 1971 and he used to visit their residence. When Poohla took over as Tarna Dal chief, Sada Singh’s his father gave him Rs 50,000, five buffaloes, a cow, a horse, and a jeep for organisational work.

In 1988, differences cropped up between Mohan Singh and Poohla, after which the former demanded his money and other items back.

Irked over the matter, Amarik Kaur Amarkot, an associate of Poohla, along with five armed Nihangs, reached Mohan Singh’s house on October 22, 1990, and enquired about him. Sada Singh told them that he had gone to the cattle market, where he was working as a supervisor. They took Sada Singh along with them to the market, from where they abducted Mohan Singh and threw his son out of their vehicle.

The complaint says that after waiting for his father for a couple of days, Sada Singh went to Poohla’s gurdwara to enquire about his father on October 24, 1990. There he met the person in charge of langar, Mahia Singh, who told him that his father had been killed the day before after being beaten ruthlessly. His body was cut into pieces and packed in a gunny bag before it was thrown in a canal at Shri Hargobindpur, he added. Sada Singh immediately approached the then SSP of Tarn Taran, Mr Sita Ram, who, he alleges, didn’t listen to him.

Sada Singh claims that when Poohla came to know about his meeting with the SSP, he visited his house thrice with armed men, but every time luck favoured his family. He says he had seven acres of land at Mirke village, under Valtoha police station, and it was “illegally” occupied by Amrik Kaur Amarkot at the behest of Poohla, whose terror forced him to migrate to Ganaur village in Sonepat district of Haryana.

Sada Singh returned to Punjab after terrorism came to an end and Poohla’s terror subsided.

After receiving Sada Singh’s complaint, the IG, Mr S.K. Sharma, asked the SSP, Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, to probe into the matter and take necessary action. Following the probe, a case has been registered against Ajit Singh Poohla, Amrik Kaur Amarkot, her son Chhana, Kartar Singh, alias Kartari, Balwinder Singh, alias Billa, Gurmail Singh, alias Gaila, Karnail Singh, alias Kaila, under Sections 364, 148, 149 and 120-B of the IPC.


Dimpy ‘hired’ gunmen to murder liquor contractor
Police remand extended till Oct 19
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, October 17
Even as the police remand of Prabhjinder Singh, alias Dimpy, was extended upto October 19 by the local judicial magistrate in the murder case of liquor contractor, Darshan Baja Khana, startling facts were revealed during his interrogation by senior police officials yesterday.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Dimpy had confessed his involvement in the murder of Darshan Baja Khana on February 19, 2004.

Though the police authorities were tight-lipped about the confession made by Dimpy in police custody, sources revealed that he had confessed that he had hired two sharp shooters to kill Darshan Baja Khana and the murder was executed in a planned manner.

Dimpy confessed that before killing the liquor contractor, he had managed to send his two relatives, whose names figured as prime accused in the FIR registered in connection with the murder to Singapore and Bangkok. His relatives returned only after Khana was shot dead by the two sharp shooters engaged by Dimpy. Khana had a common business with Dimpy in Faridkot district at one time but the two had parted ways after some time.

After the killing if the liquor contractor, both his relatives returned to India and surrendered to the police as their names figured in the FIR as prime accused. However, they managed to get a bail from the court by claiming the fact that they were not in India when Khana was shot dead.

Information revealed that Dimpy had done so to weaken the criminal case registered against him and his kin on the statement of Mr Nand Kishore, brother of the deceased, in local police station. Gura Singh, driver of Khana’s car, who was one of the witnesses to the murder also died under mysterious circumstances few months after the murder.

Police sources pointed out that senior police officials were worried over the new development which had taken place in this case as they had been finding it difficult to link the prime accused with the murder of Khana.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, when contacted, while declining to divulge the details of the questioning of Dimpy done by him and other police officials, said Dimpy’s complicity in the murder had been established. 


News Analysis
Dalit, Jat Sikh votes gave cutting edge to Cong
by Prabhjot Singh

Chandigarh, October 17
The ferocity of the contest as was expected, both in Kapurthala and Garhshankar, started disappearing soon after trends from these two Assembly segments, where byelections were held on October 13, started pouring in this morning.

Massive verdicts in favour of the Congress in both constituencies surprised everyone, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

No one expected the Congress to wrest the Garhshankar seat, which it had not contested since 1985, with a margin of 18,080 votes. The victory in Kapurthala was expected, but not with such a huge margin.

While the Chief Minister had declared that the byelections were a referendum on his government, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief had made it a personal prestige issue in Kapurthala. Needless to say, both the ruling Congress and the combined Opposition of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) had put everything at stake in these byelections. The SAD-BJP hopes were high after their magnificent win in the last Lok Sabha elections where it had won 11 of the 13 seats in the state.

But a reversal of trends, more so in rural areas, have not only brought cheers on the face of Congressmen but also put a question mark on the popularity graph of the Akali Dal, priding itself to be a party of peasants, in rural Punjab.

In Kapurthala, for example, the Congress beat the Akalis in almost each of the 116 villages of the constituency besides maintaining its urban supremacy.

In Garhshankar the decisive vote was of Dalits. Upset over the division in the ranks of the Bahujan Samaj Party, they went en bloc for the Congress. Surprisingly, even Jat Sikh votes, which are considered committed Akali votes, changed hands this time and a substantial chunk appears to have gone in favour of the Congress also.

Though the Communists have managed to get their cadre vote in Garhshankar, the biggest loss has been suffered by both the SAD-BJP alliance and the BSP in the constituency where nearly 35 to 40 per cent of the total vote is of Dalits. Had he been supported by the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mr Shinghara Ram Sahungra, who represented the constituency twice in the past, would have made the going tough for Congress candidate.

Interestingly, an Independent, Mr Amritpal Singh, a double postgraduate, who fought the election as an Independent on the issue of education versus addiction (kitab vs sharab), did not get much of the electoral response.

Interestingly, in the Lok Sabha elections held early this year, the BJP candidate, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, won comfortably.

Though the Communists have a big chunk of committed votes in the constituency, it could not polarise enough for its candidate to save his security deposit.

Issues that clinched the battle for the Congress were probably flawless lifting of six crops, stand on rivers water, uninterrupted power supply to rural sector, empowerment of Panchayati Raj institutions, besides the personal appeal of the Chief Minister.

The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and the remaining term of two and a half years of the present Congress government in Punjab were also other factors that swung the vote in its favour. Another important factor has been the Chief Minister’s new image as a tireless campaigner.

In Kapurthala, the Akalis also suffered because of a “weak” candidate. Money and muscle power has become a common feature in elections these days which probably the SAD-BJP combine was no match to the ruling party.

Congressmen were certainly better organised in managing their campaign in both constituencies. While Mr Lal Singh was deputed to oversee Kapurthala, Ch Jagjit Singh was given the command in Garhshankar.

In Kapurthala the campaign manager was Mr Sant Ram Singla, while in Garhshankar, campaign was left to Mr Surinder Singla and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi.

Mr Hans Raj Josan, Minister for Forests and Environment, and Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, who were put as special observers for Kapurthala, worked in certain pockets to bring Kamboj and Jat Sikh votes in the Congress fold.


Punjab plan to make 2,500 villages green
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 17
In a step aimed at making Punjab a green state once again, the Forest Department is planning to kick-start a mega “go green” campaign to plant lakhs of saplings of different species of ornamental and other trees in 2,500 selected villages and 15 major towns across the state within one year.

Interestingly, to ensure proper care and growth of plants in villages, the department is envisaging involvement of school going and other children.

The process to identify 2,500 to-be-green villages has already taken off, while Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Ferozepore, Bathinda and Jalandhar could figure in the list of 15 select cities where the department was planning to plant about 60,000 saplings of various species of ornamental and other trees and plants.

“In case of villages, our plan is to give a sapling to each child and to inspire him or her to take care of its growth. For this, we are working on a plan to ensure that each child, who takes care of a tree, could get some extra marks in his or her examinations as a bonus for having taken care of a tree and its growth. We are going to take this matter up with the Punjab School Education Board. We are planning involvement of children to make them aware of the importance of trees and plants,” said Mr Hans Raj Josan, Forest Minister, while talking to The Tribune.

“In villages and towns, we plan that no open common space should be left out from being greened and our effort would be to stretch the existing green area of the state from 8.1 to 18 per cent by 2010,” says Mr Josan.

Department officials maintained that the strategy would be to plant ornamental trees in and around schools, hospitals, along roads and all common lands in 2,500 selected villages and 15 cities.

In cities, the department would be planting trees without the consideration whether the area fell within the municipal limits or not.

“Besides making villages and cities green, our objective would to be to beautify the ambience by planting flowering shrubs, plants and trees. In Amritsar, we distributed 50,000 saplings so that the area around the Golden Temple could be beautified on the same pattern,” said Mr Josan.

He said the target of the department was to enhance the existing 10,000 hectares of forest land in the state to 12,500 hectares during the current financial year itself.


Students develop ‘intelligent transport system’
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 17
A group of four electronics and communication engineering students have successfully developed an intelligent transport system (ITS) which benefits bus commuters by giving information about the approaching bus and also helps a transport company to keep a track of its fleet in the targeted area.

The ITS has been developed by the team comprising Moksh Sharma of Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology, Moga, Nishat Dhillon from Amity School of Engineering and Technology, Delhi, Nitin Kohli from BBD National Institute of Technology and Management, Lucknow, and Sachin Dhiman from NIT, Kurukshetra. They developed it during the course of their six week industrial training at Bharat Electronics Limited, Panchkula.

Termed the Local Bus Locator and Tracking system, the project targets the general public and transport companies as it’s beneficiaries. Explaining the salient features of the system, Moksh said through the project people waiting at any bus stop would come to know about the approaching bus, it’s route number and only the desired passengers would rush to board the bus doing away with the current practice of crowding while boarding a bus. It would also reduce confusion among the passengers regarding the route number of the bus, he pointed out..

By adopting this system, transport company could trace it’s bus moving in the city leading to all effective management. They would also come to know if any bus had broken down and rush a maintenance team to rectify the fault, he added.

The project could be highly beneficial in cities like Chandigarh and Delhi where more than half the population commutes/travellers by public and private transport, he said.

Demonstrating a working model at The Tribune office, he said they had used microcontrollers to generate a bit pattern and did the execution according to the programme stored in the ROM. This transmitted pattern was decoded by decoders and accordingly the LED’s at the bus stops would indicate the number of the bus and the distance from the bus stand.

Commenting on the commercial success of he programme, Moksh said if integrated on a large scale, the system could have information of any bus throughout India at any given time in a few seconds by having a leased frequency range from any GSM operator.

He said the HRD department of BEL, Panchkula, especially Mr GS Shah, a former DGM, HRD, and Mr Anish Chauhan, Senior Instructor, HRD, motivated and extended their cooperation during various phases of the project.


Oppn MPs to meet President, PM today
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 17
The SAD and BJP MPs would meet the President and the Prime Minister tomorrow in Delhi to bring to their notice the alleged corrupt practices and other misdeeds of Amarinder Singh government in Punjab.

The Central leadership of the BJP will also accompany the delegation which would be headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Badal told The Tribune here today that the state was being ruled by a corrupt government and there was police raj in the state. He said the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the selection of DSPs in the sportsmen quota and the cancellation of liquor vends by the Supreme Court had revealed the amount of corruption prevalent in the Amarinder Singh government. He added that the gagging of the press by the Nehra Commission was also a very unfortunate issue and all these issues would be presented to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

Mr Badal asked Justice Nehra to resign himself for playing a biased role in the inquiry into the alleged irregularities committed by the Chief Minister’s son.

The former Chief Minister described the same as a “clear case of hawala transactions” by the Chief Minister’s son and sought a probe by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence of the Income Tax Department. The Nehra Commission was formed to give clean chit to the Chief Minister’s son, he charged.

Mr Badal also demanded a CBI probe into the selection of DSPs and the cancellation of the liquor vends by the Supreme Court.

Mr Badal said if the President and the Prime Minister did not take any action in this regard, then they would file a PIL in Delhi High Court.

Meanwhile, referring to the verdict to the two byelections Mr Badal maintained that it was not a free and fair election and alleged that the ruling party had indulged in goondaism.

He said there was complete police raj in the two segments and free and fair poll was not allowed. “We had asked the Chief Election Commissioner to deploy paramilitary forces for the smooth conduct of the elections”.

When asked that the Akali workers had taken all precautions to check bogus voting Mr Badal said, “We cannot fight the state which has all means at its command”.

Mr Badal alleged that Mr Jagdev Singh Tajpuri was not arrested by the police but by the goondas of the Congress and similarly a sarpanch, an NRI and some other leaders were taken into custody and a police Inspector was sent to Kapurthala from Patiala to help them”.


Another stock of explosives found
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 17
The police has found another stock of explosives from the Doraha-Sidhwan canal near Sangowal village, the spot where a large quantity of the material was found yesterday. The police claimed to have shifted the material to a safe and unknown place but a team of experts from the armed police was yet to arrive and diffuse the explosives.

While the people of the area were yet to come in terms with the environment of constant and ever increasing fear of explosives being found from the canals the police found another stock of explosives enclosed in bags. Weighing around 2-3 quintals, the explosive included mortar shells, rockets, and anti-aircraft rockets.

After receiving the fresh reports of seizure of the explosives, police personnel rushed to the spot and started taking out the explosives from the canals. Unlike the explosives found yesterday from dry bed of the Sidhwan canal near Jaspal Bangar, the material found near Sangowal was enclosed in bags.

Simlapuri (Ludhiana) SHO, who was busy handling the explosives, said they had received information about the explosives from their sources. These had been shifted to a safe and untold place where the team of the experts and a bomb disposal squad from the Panjab Armed Police would diffuse the live explosives, if any. The squad had not reached the spot by evening.

It was suspected that some scrap dealer had thrown the explosives into the canal due to fear of explosion and police action. 


Tribune Impact
Malpractices by priests will be curbed, says DC
Kali Mata temple premises cleaned
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 17
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, said today that the administration would try to curb malpractices by priests of the Kali Mata temple and evolve a transfer policy for them even as devotees coming to the temple had a reason for cheer with the premises receiving a vigorous round of scrubbing.

The Deputy Commissioner was approached by the Tribune reporter today with regard to misappropriation of the money offered at the feet of the idol of the goddess by the priests.

The priests “hide” these offerings in a separate corner of the temple instead of putting them in the “golak” in front of the idol. The priests have been directed to do this by the district administration which controls the management of the temple.

Mr Tejveer Singh said the district administration had deputed supervisory staff to check the functioning of the temple, including checking of offerings made at the temple.

He said PCS officer Preneet Shergill, who was in charge of the Dharmarth Board, was responsible for getting the “golak” opened in her presence.

He said he would look into the aspect of the transfer of priests from the Kali temple to other temples controlled by the Dharmarth Board besides ensuring that the temple was maintained in a proper manner.

A visit to the temple today saw a vigorous cleansing drive in progress. Some committee members and volunteers took up the responsibility of cleaning the temple premises and did it the entire day.

Volunteers with brooms were seen collecting “parsad” and other offerings which had fallen on the ground. The fountain in the temple which presented a filthy look yesterday was sparkling clean.

Priests were also seen putting coins and currency notes offered at the feet of the idol of the goddess into the “golak”.

Devotees visiting the temple during the Navratras were apparently overjoyed at the development.

“I feel ashamed that such a situation was allowed to carry on for such a long time,” said Krishan Kumar, resident of Katcha Patiala. He said efforts should be, however, made to keep the temple clean by forming a “cleanliness committee” of volunteers. Mr Dheeraj Khanna of Sirhindi Gate said officers of the district administration who held offices in the Dharmarth Board should personally check the cleanliness in the temple instead of relegating this responsibility to clerks posted there.

The situation in the temple is not news for the district administration. Apparently there have been widespread complaints over the manner in which the temple is being run.

A 75-year-old retired officer has submitted complaints to successive Deputy Commissioners. In his latest complaint he has alleged that the administration should check the lifestyle of priests and verify whether any of them had sent family members abroad for education.

He has also alleged that the sweets being sold in the shops inside the temple complex as “parsad” are invariably stale and are sold at very high prices . These shops should be shifted out to maintain cleanliness, he adds in his complaint.

Other issues which have been highlighted include the necessity of keeping a record of the wine and goats offered to the goddess besides other offerings.

It has also been pointed out that there is no master plan for the development of the historical temple and that additions and alterations are being made without taking conservation aspects into consideration.


How Sofats tried to evade action
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 17
It took the Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association about five years to ensure action against Dr Sumit Sofat and his wife, Dr Sumita Sofat. Had it not been the persistence of the IMA and its state president, Dr O.P.S. Kande, the Sofats would not have been brought to book.

Responding to the public outcry against the Sofats for misleading people through their advertisements, the IMA initiated the process of action against the couple in the year 2000. However, they managed to get it delayed time and again.

According to Dr Kande, the IMA had on its own warned the Sofats to desist from issuing advertisements, which is against the ethics of the medical profession. However, the Sofats continued to defy the ethics and the IMA warnings. In the year 2000, the IMA approached the Medical Council of India (MCI) for action against the couple. But the MCI referred the case to the Punjab Medical Council, which at that time was a defunct body.

After the Punjab Medical Council was reconstituted, it started the proceedings against the Sofats.

Sources in the Punjab Medical Council said the revealed that Sofats were served notices to appear before the council three times. Every time, the notice returned undelivered as addressee was claimed to be “not found”. The council confirmed the address from the addresses mentioned in the advertisements. The couple was given one last chance, even then it did not respond.

The sources, quoting a council Act, said if a doctor registered with it remains inaccessible for more than three months, the council could suspend his licence. Finding the couple reluctant the council ultimately decided to suspended the licence.

Meanwhile, the medical community has expressed relief over the action. They said the action should have been taken much earlier.


Development plank clinched the issue for Cong
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 17
The Congress-favoured poll outcome at Kapurthala and Garhshankar has established that people of the two constituencies voted while taking progress and development of their respective areas as a core issue at the back of their mind and almost pushed all other issues in the back in the byelection.

While in Kapurthala the factor which could have worked in favour of the Congress candidate Rana Sukhi could be the hope and assessment of voters that since Sukhi’s brother-in-law Rana Gurjit Singh was already an MP of the area, she might be able to elicit more funds for the area, both, from the state government in capacity as a prospective MLA and from the Centre for Rana Gurjit’s being an MP.

In Garhshankar, apart from development, Congress candidate Luv Kumar Goldi’s being a local could have worked well in favour of party, particularly, as his arch rival Mohinder Pal Maan of the BJP was considered to be an “outsider”, as he was said to be based at Hoshiarpur.

“It made a lot of difference in Garhshankar. People of area felt that since Goldi was from the most under-developed ‘bet’area of the constituency, he knew the problems pretty well and could come out with some solution in the wake of his success,” observed Mr Parminder Singh, General Secretary of the PPCC.


BSP workers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 17
A large number of workers of the BSP, led by the party councillor, Mr Ramesh Kaul, yesterday staged a demonstration on the premises of the local Civil Hospital against the discharging of their injured activist Charanjit “after underplaying the nature of his injuries under political pressure”.

The protesters raised slogans against, Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO, Civil Hospital, Phagwara, Punjab Health Minister Ramesh Chander Dogra and other medical authorities. Mr Kaul alleged that Charanjit was seriously injured after he was attacked with sharp-edged weapons on October 9 by one, Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, and his men. Charanjit was in a hired Tata Sumo, while the assailants were in their Maruti Esteem. After both vehicles were involved in an accident, the occupants of the Esteem assaulted Charanjit with swords and other sharp-edged weapons, alleged Mr Kaul.

He was hospitalised here but was discharged under pressure from the minister, he said. The SMO was in a hurry to discharge Charanjit and hastily constituted a medical board for determining the nature of the injuries, he said. The board was set up only after Charanjit was got examined by a board of doctors at Kapurthala, informed Mr Kaul.

Repeated attempts to contact, Dr Subhash Sharma, on his cellphone for getting his version failed as the cellphone was “either switched off or out of the coverage area”. 


Trees ‘sacrificed’ to widen roads
District heading for ecological imbalance
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 17
The district is heading towards a major ecological imbalance as a large number of fully grown trees, including kikar and eucalyptus, have been axed for widening of 15 km long stretch of Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road along Sirhind canal forest division here.

Apart from this, hundreds of more trees along with canal will also be cut by the forest department for widening of all roads leading to Chamkaur Sahib. The project will most likely be completed by the end of November.

The felling of the trees began two weeks ago when the PWD started widening the roads under a special project started by the state government.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, laid the foundation stone of the project on September 29 at Chamkaur Sahib. He had sanctioned Rs 10 crore under the project for the widening and carpeting of Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road and Chamkaur Sahib-Bela road to commemorate the 300th year of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas at Chamkaur Sahib in December.

The government, however, seems to have overlooked the damage being caused to the environment by the cutting of the trees.

The cutting of trees in the forest area in the district has already caused massive losses to the environment. The water situation in the district is serious with the water level having gone down by several feet due to the cutting of trees. The water flow has also declined in the past few years causing the ecological imbalance.

Moreover, the cutting of the trees had also resulted in drying up of several sub-rivers. Experts opine that the three major tributaries of river Sutlej — Jayanti, Budk, and Siswan — flowing through the Ropar district have vanished due to blind cutting of trees.

In spite of a great threat to the environment in the region, the forest department allowed the PWD to widen the roads about 7 feet at the cost of green belt. The PWD also appears to be least concerned about the green cover.

When contacted the XEN (PWD), Mr K.S. Bhinder, said “the employees of the forest department have cut down trees in the forest area along the Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road after getting due permission from the competent authority. He said the PWD was paying the cost of each tree to the forest department”.


Workshop on spine therapy concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 17
A three-day workshop on manual therapy for spine in a clinical reasoning perspective organised by Exercise Fitness and Health Alliance (EFHA), Patiala, concluded here today. Noted physiotherapist, Prof D.P. Bhatnagar, spoke on the increasing popularity of physiotherapy as a means of improving the quality of life.

On the concluding day today, latest methods based on Mackenzie and Mulligan concepts were taught to the participants and these technical aspects were applied to the patients. Stress was laid on treating lower back pain through this technique by Dr K. Pearlson. Certificates were issued to participants by Dr R.K. Sehgal, Director, University of Engineering.

Thirty delegates from different parts of Haryana and Punjab are participating in the workshop. Participants belonging to the fields of physiotherapy, physical education and sports science would be learning the latest techniques in manipulation therapy from Dr Pearlson, who is a trained physiotherapist from South Australian varsity.

Speaking earlier Prof L S Sidhu, former Head of the Department of Physiotherapy, Punjabi University, said the increasing incidence of degenerative diseases of spine in the society was due to the negative lifestyle led by the people. He further emphasised the role of physiotherapy in dealing with the increasing rise in the prevalence of spine-related problems like cervical spondylosis and low-back pains.

Prof S.K. Verma, president of EFHA said that specialists from different disciplines of health sciences like doctors, physiotherapists, physical educationists, sports scientists, human biologists and nutritionist should join hands and work for the benefit of the society. He further emphasised that EFHA had been created to cater to the needs of the society, where persons belonging to the various health sciences could work together for the promotion of the health of the society. 


TB hospital sans grant
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur October 17
The menace of tuberculosis is spreading its tentacles in the state. According to the data collected during the recently abandoned National TB Control Programme there are about three lakh acute tuberculosis patients in Punjab. These patients are spreading the TB bacilli, a communicable disease, among the masses.

According to the national TB control programme authorities about 40 per cent of the population is carrying the bacilli of the disease and prone to getting infected by it. However, the Health Department is sluggish in implementing measures to check the disease from assuming an epidemic form.

The previous National Tuberculosis Control Programme which was started in 1992 failed to deliver the goods. In the said programme medicines were given to patients in hospitals and acute patients were treated in sanatoriums or special TB hospitals. After 10 years of its implementation the National TB Control Programme achieved a success rate of just 30 per cent.

The Union Government decided to abandon the programme. In its place a revised national TB Control Programme (RNTCP) was launched. It was proposed that after the identification TB patients should be given the medicine at their doorsteps in villages. Supervisors were to be recruited by the TB Control Society to monitor the condition and ensure the supply of medicines to the patients at their doorsteps.

In Punjab, however, though the old programme has been abandoned the new programme has not been launched effectively in all districts. Gurdaspur is one such district in which, the RNTCP is yet to be launched. The said programme has not been launched in the district despite the presence of large number of infected patients here.

Dr Kamal Atri in charge of the RNTCP here, told The Tribune that due to poverty and humid conditions in many parts of the district about 2 per cent of the population was expected to acutely infected with TB.

However, in the wake of starting the new programme grants under the old programme have already stopped. This has put in spot TB hospital being run here. Earlier, it was a 20-bed hospital. However, now due to paucity of funds the facility has been reduced to 10 beds. The hospital also lacks proper sanitation facility and staff. Even the power connection to the hospital has been cut. Presently TB patients have to depend on dangerous kundi connections for power in the hospital.

The hospital is being run with what minor grants were available from the district Red Cross.

Dr Atri when asked about the hospital said under the new RNTC programme there was no provision for a special TB hospital. No grants were available for running the TB hospitals due to which the local hospital was being run with the help of the Red Cross.

Sources said earlier the TB Control Society used to recruit supervisors under the programme for conducting surveys and carrying out the fieldwork.

However, now the TB Control Society has told the Health Department to manage the programme with its own staff. Due to ban on recruitment the Health Department which is already under-staffed is finding it hard to spare the staff for the RNTC programme.


Paucity of funds hits anti-AIDS drive
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 17
AIDS is spreading fast in the district due to paucity of funds, and lack of a definite policy to tackle such cases. As many as 45 new cases have tested positive for HIV this year at Civil Hospital, Ropar. Last year a total of 25 persons had tested HIV positive in the district.

Results show that truck drivers, paramilitary forces and migrant labourers are the main carrier of the deadly diseases. The transmission of the HIV virus from the mother to child also surfaced when two children were found HIV positive this year among the new cases.

These are the cases where the persons voluntarily came for test at VCTC Centre (only place in the district for HIV test) at Civil Hospital. There could be many more cases as lack of awareness and social stigma, prevents people to go for the test.

As many as 177 persons, have voluntarily come for the test this year. Out of which 45 persons tested positive including 26 men, 19 women and two children. Whereas last year a total of 107 persons came for the test and 25 tested HIV positive. These infected persons include 15 men, eight women, and two children.

Although medical officials dealing the AIDS cases rule out the possibility of “red-light” area in the district for the rapid increase in AIDS cases. But sources in the police revealed that there were several places in the district where a number of women were involved in the flesh trade. Truck drivers and migrant labourers were the routine customers there.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rana Harinder, said “The department has been making effort to prevent the spread of AIDS in the region. Therefore, we were charging only Rs 10 for the HIV test, whereas private hospitals charge about Rs 500 or more for the test.”

She said the most of the AIDS patients could not afford medicines because of their high cost. Medicines cost about 2000 per month, which beyond the reach of most of the patients.

She added that one of the HIV positive child was six years old and her father had died probably due to AIDS. The mother of the child, who is also an HIV positive case could not afford the child’s treatment. Therefore, the department was making efforts to get the child treated free of cost.


Angiography facility at Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 17
The city known as the heartland of the Malwa region has added another feather in its cap when an angiography operation was conducted on two heart patients for the first time in the local Delhi Heart Institute and Research Centre.

Earlier, private hospitals dotting this town had witnessed the fitting of stunts in the heart and total hip replacement. The local hospitals have also been handling the patients connected with the neuro-surgeries.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Naresh Goyal, DM (Cardiology), in charge, Delhi Heart Institute and Research Centre, said the main motive to set up the hospital here was to provide the medical care to the heart patients.


248 checked for heart ailments
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 17
Umeed Khanna Foundation, a local social organisation, in collaboration with the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, today organised a two-day free heart check-up camp on the premises of the foundation’s office here.

A spokesman of the UKF said on the first day of the camp, 248 persons had been examined for various heart ailments.

Echo cardiography of about 40 patients and ECG of all 248 persons had been done free-of-cost at the camp, he added.

Nearly 550 persons got themselves registered with the organisers. Remaining persons will be examined tomorrow.


Engineers body seeks white paper
Power sector reforms
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 17
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association has demanded that the state government should issue a white paper on the proposed reforms in the power sector listing the weaknesses of the PSEB at present, the proposed remedies in the suggested model and the time frame in which the same would be achieved.

Addressing a conference of the delegates of the association hailing from about eight districts, Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the association, alleged that the Congress government was trying to push the power sector reforms under pressure from a big industrial house.

He alleged that the government had not made public its plans to dismantle the PSEB even as it was the right of the public and the employees of the PSEB to know about the move.

Claiming that the so-called reforms had not paid the desired dividends in the states where these had been implemented, he demanded that a public debate should be held on the issue. He claimed that the so-called reforms were against the interests of the employees and consumers.

Questioning the expertise of the “experts” who had drafted the proposed unbundling plans of the PSEB, Mr Bajwa remarked that these “experts” were unable to distinguish, ‘kilovolt’ from ‘kilowatt’.

He pointed out that the seriousness of the Punjab Government about the power sector reforms could be gauged from the fact that Rs 125 crore released by the Union Government for the modernisation and strengthening of the transmission and distribution of the PSEB had been lying with the government and had not been transferred to the PSEB.

Mr H.S. Bedi, general secretary of the association, said the government was not serious about stopping power theft as the proposal to set separate police stations had been dropped by the present government. He claimed that during the regime of the previous government the proposal had reached an advanced stage of implementation and even places for setting up these ‘thanas’ had been identified.

He added that the Punjab Government had delayed the stage two of the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant even as no financial assistance from the state government was needed.

He said at present the electricity board was under a unified command and after its trifurcation the lack of co-ordination in its various parts would affect its efficiency. He said power produced cannot be stored and so minute-by-minute coordination in generation and supply was needed.

Leaders of the association claimed that the privatisation and unbundling of the electricity boards had not been successful anywhere in the country and before implementing the same in Punjab extensive study should be carried out.

Mr Padamjit Singh, patron of the association, maintained that stringent laws were needed to tackle the problem of power theft; which he claimed was not a big problem. He added that the transmission and distribution losses of the board were amongst the lowest in the country (25 per cent).

He also added that no fresh recruitments had been made in the PSEB and with the modernisation of the thermal plants, the staff would be ill equipped to handle the plants.


Top official does road repair work
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 17
Translating into practice the adage that self-help was the best help, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Chairman, Punjab Agro Foods Ltd, has himself started levelling pits and potholes on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road, near the octroi post.

These pits had become a constant headache for the general public and pilgrims bound for the Mata Chintpurni shrine in Himachal Pradesh in particular. They were also an irritant for the farmers who had to take their produce to the Grain Market situated on the road. The two to three feet deep and eight feet wide pits had caused many breakdowns of vehicles and accidents.

Nagar council President Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, Block Congress president Manmohan Sharma, several councillors and NGO activists were present.

Mr Mann had earlier cleaned roads and localities himself along with his partymen to prove that practice was better than precept.


Surjan Singh Thekedar cremated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 17
Veteran Akali leader Surjan Singh Thekedar was cremated at the Model Town Extension crematorium here this evening. Mr Kanwalinder Singh, his son, and members of the SGPC lit the pyre.

Wreaths were placed on the body by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, Bibi Jagir Kaur President, SGPC, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, Akali Dal, Delhi, Mr Ajmer Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, on behalf of the state government, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, and Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha.

Among others present at the cremation were Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, Mr Jagmohan Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa and Mr Tota Singh.

Mr Badal earlier went to the house of Surjan Singh and expressed sympathies with the family. 


‘Press’ stickers being misused
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 17
The word ‘Press’ is being misused on a large scale here.

Mr Ram Singh, chief of Batala police district, said he had given instructions to police officials to check vehicles which had ‘Press’ stickers.

He warned car-owners against using black films on windowpanes of their vehicles. He said he had got information that some bad elements had fixed the black films on their vehicles and had installed red beckons.


Villagers complain about bad roads
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 17
Residents of Simbalmajra, near here, today complained that link roads to the village were in bad shape. They made the complaint to, Mr Kewal Krishan, Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who was the chief guest at a sabyacharak mela organised by the gram sudhar sabha.

Mr Kewal Krishan said that such problems should be looked into by the MLA of the area. He said that if the villagers felt that the area was being discriminated against in the matter of development, they could make a formal complaint and he would take up the matter with the chief minister for redress.

A Congress leader, Mr Balbir Sidhu, inaugurated the mela. He called for a boycott of those leaders who had tried to create hurdles in the holding of the mela.


Marriage of two underprivileged girls solemnised
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 17
Marriage of two sisters, Rima and Sunita, was solemnised by residents of Chatti Gali yesterday. The girls don’t have any close relatives.

All the marriage expense was borne by residents of the area. Mr Jagdish Sawhney, former MLA, and Mr Darshan Lal, popularly known as Mahant Bhole Shah, gave certain articles of domestic use to the newly wed couples.

Mr Ashok Kumar Chadda, president, Azaad Hind Sewak Sangh Sabha, said the sabha collected money through contribution made by the sabha members.


Need to check fall in cotton price, says Singla
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
Upset over the big fall in cotton price in the past few days, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, will tomorrow go to Delhi to take up this issue with the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

“There is urgent need to check the fall in cotton price”, said Mr Singla. Otherwise, the process of revival of cotton crop in the Malwa belt would get a big setback, he added.

There has been a fall of Rs 500 per quintal in cotton price. The opening price of cotton was in the range of Rs 2400 per quintal and now it has come down to Rs 1900 per quintal. Fall in the price of cotton has been giving sleepless nights to farmers.

The cotton production is expected in the range of 16 lakh bales this year in Punjab compared to 11 lakh bales last year. In the northern cotton belt comprising Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, cotton production is expected to touch a figure of 37 lakh bales and it is expected to be 213 lakh bales in the country.

After a gap of several years, northern states would be harvesting bumper cotton crop.

What has led to the fall in the price is the import of 15 lakh bales of cotton from Australia. Because of apprehension of drought, order to import of cotton was placed last year. Now cotton has started landing in the country from Australia.

Besides, there has been a carry-over of 26 lakh bales from the cotton stocks of last year in the country.

As the domestic industry has the capacity to consume 177 lakh bales, the available stock by the close of cotton crop season will be to the tune of 277 lakh bales.

“ I would ask Mr Pawar and Mr Ahluwalia to create a price stabilisation fund for the cotton on the pattern of the developed countries.

The government should intervene and use fund in case of big fall in the price of cotton”, he added. From the fund, farmers could be directly helped or some other way could be found to provide them subsidy in case they get less price of cotton, said Mr Singla.

The other issue that is to be taken up with Mr Pawar is regarding the Bt cotton seed.” We would urge him to ask the authorities concerned to officially release Bt cotton varieties for Punjab.

Various agencies have been exploiting farmers by selling them fake Bt cotton seed for the past four years in Malwa belt”, he added.

The State Government was in the process of setting up a Cotton Development Foundation to provide farmers various facilities. Industry engaged in the processing of cotton and in the production of finished products from it would play an active role in the foundation. In the beginning, State Government would contribute Rs 50 lakh and a matching amount would come from the industry to start the foundation.

Cotton is going to be the backbone of the Indian economy in the coming years because of textile garments factor. As the quota system regarding textile garments would come to an end from coming January 1, India and China would become big players in the textile garments international market.

“Because of this reason, Punjab wanted to promote cotton as an industrial crop and not the routine crop”, said Mr Singla.


Dera chief killed, disciples at large
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 17
The head of a dera of Udasi sect, Baba Suraj Muni, was killed allegedly by some of his disciples at Sekha Khurd village last night. The deceased belonged to Bokhri village in Bathinda district.

Sources said that the baba had at least four disciples at his dera who were addicted to drugs. Out of these, two disciples had joined him only a few days back.

According to sources, the baba had recently sold his nearly four acres of land and reportedly had a big amount in his possession. His disciples came to know about it and started demanding money from him. His negative reply irked them and last night they attacked him with sharp edged weapons, killing him on the spot.

The police has registered a murder case against his disciples who are at large.

Villagers are also being interrogated so as to identify the baba’s disciples.


Sainik School students await revision of scholarships
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 17
Tall claims by the state government notwithstanding, students of Sainik School here are waiting for formal orders from the state government for the revision of their scholarships promised to them for the past more than a year.

The scholarship amount of the students has not been revised since 1989. While the fee of the students has been increasing from time to time, no change has been made in the amount of the scholarship ever since, thus causing a financial burden on the parents.

The income slabs of the parents, against which the amount of scholarships has to be decided, has become quite unrealistic in today’s context. As on date, very few salaried parents are entitled to the scholarship, as there are hardly any parents below the defined income slab.

The highest income slab against which a student can get a scholarship is Rs 40,000. The fact that a parent with an annual income equal to or less than Rs 40,000 sending his wards to a school charging nearly as much amount for fee per annum (including hostel, mess and other charges) is by itself self-contradictory. The government also ensures that the scholarship goes to only those students who score atleast 45 per cent marks in individual subjects and 55 per cent in the aggregate.

During a visit to Sainik School in August last year, the Chief Minister had promised that the income slabs and scholarship amount would be revised soon. The government had fixed four income slabs. The lowest was fixed at Rs 96,000 per annum for which the scholarship was proposed to be Rs 26,000. The second slab was that of Rs 1.2 lakh per year for which the proposed scholarship amount was fixed at Rs 19,000.

The parents with an income of Rs 1.44 were assured an amount of Rs 13,000 as scholarship for their wards and those with income up to Rs 1.8 lakh were guaranteed that their children would receive Rs 7,500 as scholarship.

The Chief Minister had also announced that the school would get an annual grant of Rs 75 lakh for the smooth functioning and an annual grant of Rs 1.07 crore for the upkeep of the building through INTACH. The school authorities had even taken up necessary follow-up action and sent repeated reminders so that the process could be expedited for the early release of the grant, but not a single penny from the state government has reached the school till date.

Mr Avtar Singh, ex-serviceman, whose son is a student of the school, said since government was not revising the amount of scholarship or revising the income slabs, it had become impossible for many parents to admit their wards in the school. He said the government must realise that the school had produced some top bureaucrats and Army officers, and regular grants were a must to ensure good training and education facilities for the school.

Another parent, Ms Gurpreet Kaur, said though the state government had been indifferent to their cause, the Ministry of Defence had been kind enough this year to give each cadet a subsidy of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 to share the increase in the fee. A refund for the entire tuition fee for Classes XI and XII for cadets who joined the NDA was another incentive that had been thankfully introduced, she added.


25 teachers found absent
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 17
As many as 25 teachers were found absent in government schools in the border belt of the district during a surprise visit by Dr Rajkumar, Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

Revealing this in a press conference here today, the Parliamentary Secretary said that he visited 15 schools in the border belt. He said he had written to the Director Primary Education (DPE), for initiating action against the erring teachers.

Dr Rajkumar said that in Government Senior Secondary School, Valtoha, out of more than 20 teachers, only two were present, along with four class IV employees when he paid a surprise visit about 10.30 a.m. He said not a single student was present in the school at that time.

He expressed his concern over the alleged expulsion of four Dalit girls of an elementary school in Avan village in Ajnala, near here, by its principal on caste basis. He said the District Education Officer (DEO) was asked to inquire into the matter.

The Parliamentary Secretary said about 10,000 teachers would be recruited for the streamlining education in the state.


SSF decries ‘anti-Sikh’ general knowledge test
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 17
The Sikh Students Federation today opposed the “anti-Sikh” general knowledge test ‘’dedicated’’ to the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib which was taken by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The Federation launched a protest against this by holding a march from Gurudwara Singh Sahib to the SD School in the city which was the centre for the test. Federation General Secretary Jaspal Singh Manjhpur said the ABVP was only promoting the agenda of the RSS through the test and that this was being done in an indirect way by dedicating the entire test to the 400th anniversary of the Granth Sahib.

Mr Manjhpur said the truth was that the test only contained a few questions about Sikh religion and the Granth Sahib while a majority of questions were aimed at promoting the RSS propaganda.

He also criticised the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for remaining silent on the issue. 


‘Baba Banda Bahadur upheld philosophy of Guru Gobind Singh’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 17
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today said the contribution made by Baba Banda Bahadur towards creation of a separate Sikh State had not been evaluated in proper perspective till now.

Speaking at a seminar organised on the birth anniversary of Banda Bahadur at the State Language Department here, the Deputy Speaker said Banda Bahadur had always upheld the philosophy propounded by Guru Gobind Singh and the Granth Sahib in all his actions. He said despite this historians had linked false incidents to him in order to downplay his contribution to the Sikh nation. Mr Atwal said it was the responsibility of historians to correct his injustice to a great soldier and nation builder.

Former SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar said Banda Bahadur had always fought for the rights of the downtrodden and had forsaken to fight against Mughal tyranny. “This itself was a unique commitment in that age and time”, he said adding the exact role of Banda Bahadur in Sikh history should be re-examined.

Punjabi University History Department head Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon said Banda Bahadur should not be studied on the issue of annexation of Sirhind only. “Like the Marathas he sowed the seeds for the creation of separate Sikh State”, he added. Punjabi University Punjab Historical Studies Department head Dr Sukhdyal Singh said it was unfortunate that all sites associated with Banda Bahadur had fallen into neglect and that there was no sign of Lohgarh Quila founded by the great General. He said a suitable memorial should be created in his name to commemorate his achievements. 


Malwa Gramin Bank faces staff shortage
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 17
Malwa Gramin Bank (MGB), a sponsored bank of the State Bank of Patiala, with 41 branches in Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts and head office at Sangrur, has been facing shortage of staff, putting an extra burden on the existing staff, besides an “adverse affect” on the normal functioning in various branches of the bank in rural areas.

In some branches of the MGB, there is no messenger while some branches do not have clerical staff.

As per an official information, the sanctioned staff strength of the MGB is 163 while it has now only 122. The MGB has 51 officers against the sanctioned strength of 63.

Likewise, the MGB has 38 clerks against the sanctioned 56 posts of clerk, while the number of messengers is only 33 in various branches and at the head office against the sanctioned strength of 44 messengers.

Thus, the MGB needs 12 more officers, besides 18 clerks and 11 messengers, to lessen the burden of existing staff and enhance the efficiency and performance of the branches.

The branches of the MGB have no regular security guard. The SPOs of the Punjab Police or the persons, provided by a private security agency, have been performing the duties of security guards in the branches of the bank.

Talking to The Tribune Mr G.S. Multani, Chairman of bank, said though the shortage of staff had not put any adverse effect on achieving targets but it was true that with the sanctioned staff strength, the branches of the MGB could perform much better than now.

He said he had informed several times to the authorities concerned, but no action has been taken yet.

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