P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Centre, Punjab ignore gurdwara panel demands
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Gurdwara Election Commission continues to receive little cooperation from Congress governments — both at the Centre and in Punjab — for conducting the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) polls in three constituencies.

Even though the commission had written to the Centre for deployment of paramilitary forces over a fortnight ago, it has not received any response so far. The elections to the constituencies are scheduled to be held on November 7.

Though Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice J.S. Sekhon is maintaining strict silence over the issue, sources in his office reveal that a reminder has been shot of to the authorities concerned in this regard.

The sources add that the commission — sure of the response — has this time not even written to the Punjab Government for appointing election observers. Rather, the commission has asked Haryana Government to forward a panel of four officers.

This is not all. Though the commission had sought strict action against the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, the Punjab Government simply divested them of the charge to conduct the elections.

The authorities went ahead and designated Additional Deputy Commissioners (ADCs) as DCs for the purpose of conducting the elections, resulting in resentment among members of Opposition parties.

The non-co-operation moment dates back to July when SGPC’s general house went to the polls. Then also the commission’s demand for deployment of paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair polls was ignored by the Centre. It had asked for the posting of Central forces after declaring 2157 polling booths sensitive, and another 203 booths hyper sensitive. But nothing was heard from the Centre.

Election experts say that the reason behind the attitude of the Congress governments is not hard to see. Giving details, they say that the Punjab government was feeling sour as amendment effecting the voting rights of Sehajdhari Sikhs was carried out by the then NDA government at the Centre despite its opposition. Moreover, the SGPC elections were declared even though the Punjab government wanted the polls to be postponed.

The government had sought postponement of the polls on the ground that a writ petition filed by the Sehajdhari Sikhs was pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Disturbed by the non-co-operative attitude, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Secretary D.S. Cheema says that the Congress party is indulging in delaying tactics. “For days together, they will ignore the Commission’s communique. In the end they will say it is now too late to deploy paramilitary forces in the state. This is what they did in July. They are all set to repeat the same in November, 2004. Their intentions are clear as they have not posted out the two DCs even though the commission and SAD do not approve of them”.


SAD seeks dismissal of Amarinder govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today met the Governor, Justice O P Verma (retd.), and demanded the dismissal of the Amarinder Singh Government following its indictment and quashing of selection of Deputy Superintendents of Police from the sports quota.

Mr Badal, who led a delegation of Akali leaders, also demanded that criminal cases be registered against the members of the selection committee and dubbed the entire selection as DSP recruitment scandal. "After what the High Court has said there was no need for any further investigation to dismiss the government", he observed.

He repeated the old charge of government's indictment even in the matter of auction of liquor shops by the Supreme Court.

Later, talking to media persons Mr Badal said the DSP selection scandal was similar to Ravi Sidhu's job-on-cash scam in the Punjab Public Service Commission and varied only in magnitude. In both cases money not merit was the consideration.

The demand for suspension and registration of criminal cases against members of the selection committee was made because the offence was committed in Chandigarh and Justice Verma is the Administrator of the Union Territory.

To several related questions, Mr Badal said there was no platform to lodge protest against corruption either in New Delhi or in Chandigarh. There was also no Lok Pal. This institution must be constituted by the Supreme Court, not by any political government at the Centre or state, if real justice was to be given.

''In the wake of failure of all administrative systems, legal course was the only alternative left, which is why we are going to knock at the doors of the courts to seek justice for the state'', he added.

On outcome of the two byelections, he admitted that in every government there was 5 per cent to 10 per cent ''misuse of official machinery'' but what had happened in Kapurthala and Garhshankar was ''blatant misuse''. Looking visibly frustrated, Mr Badal said days of ''fair and free'' elections, perhaps, seem to be over.

Earlier, he had a meeting with principals of the Khalsa educational institutions in regard to the forthcoming tercentenary of the martyrdom of younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh to be observed at Chamkaur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib.

On the issue of ''kirpan'' raked up by the Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, who had refused to enter the US Embassy without the ''kirpan'', SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today said this was a matter of personal opinion. ''Kirpan'' was part of the Sikh dress and tradition for baptised Sikhs. ''We usually wear a small ''kirpan'', symbolically, during air travels abroad. ''There is no cause for taking up the matter with the US authorities''.

To a question, quoting SGPC Act and bylaws, she said there was no truth that before November-end there had to be re-election of SGPC president, as reported in a section of the Press. She also said that a programme of computerisation and linkages of gurdwaras was on the anvil and so was launching of an exclusive SGPC TV channel.


Norms being flouted in import of scrap
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 26
There is blatant violation of norms fixed by the Central Government for the import of iron scrap which is used in steel plants and the steel-rerolling mills of the state of Punjab and other parts of the country.

The death of 10 labourers and recovery of a large number of missiles and other explosives in Ghaziabad has shaken the authorities and there is a hue and cry over the same. But this hue and cry will last a few days only and the same vicious circle will continue.

Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh are the two major consumers of iron scrap and Ludhiana has been a victim of explosion of bombs and shells found from the imported scrap during the past decade. In the latest incident one persons was killed in Mandi Gobindgarh a few days ago in a blast in a steel plant.

Mr R.P. Bhatia, Zonal Chairman, All-India Induction Furnace Association and All-India Steel-Rerolling Mills based in Mandi Gobindgarh, maintains that they have been urging the authorities concerned to get the explosives examined by defence personnel and they were ready to make payment for the same. Even otherwise, the instructions from the Ministry of Finance and Revenue Department are clear on this subject.

The authorities concerned are allegedly not implementing these instructions. Trade sources say that all the required certificates are managed and no strict check is observed.

Again the Finance Ministry directed the customs authorities to follow the instructions in letter and spirit as inspite of all the precautions a blast occurred at the CSF Ludhiana in a consignment of steel scrap resulting in the death of the labourers and injury to a few others. This particular consignment was imported from Kuwait in six containers and blast took place when the goods were being loaded on a truck.

Mr Anil Mishra, Deputy Commissioner, Customs, CSF, Ludhiana, who was not forthcoming about the safety measures claims that they had made fool-proof arrangements for inspection of the consignments.

Mr Mishra disclosed that around 1000 containers of scrap were being received at Ludhiana depot every month. There was congestion at the Mumbai port and huge backlog had accumulated. The CSF Ludhiana has stopped receiving consignments since September 15 because of the congestion at Mumbai.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab, stresses that three tier inspection should be done before the consignment is received. He said import from Dubai had fallen due to levying of $ 67 export surcharge by the authorities.

Mr R.P. Bhatia said defence experts must be involved in the detection of explosive material and they would be ready to pay for the same.

According to latest information, more than 5,000 bombs and shells have been found from six containers in Ludhiana and search of the seventh container is in progress.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, has held meetings with the officers of the Army, PAP and Customs to review the situation.


SGPC-run institute ‘chucks out’ students
Principal denies allegation
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 26
More than 80 per cent of the MBBS students studying in the second prof at the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute have alleged that they have been “chucked out”. However, Dr US Dhaliwal, Principal-cum-Director of the institute, has denied the allegation.

A majority of the students in the class of 50, including four students under the NRI quota, said the institute asked for fees amounting to about Rs 2.72 lakh from them, despite the fact that no final decision has been arrived at by the state fee fixation committee.

Parents alleged that failure to meet the demands of the institute led to their wards’ ouster. A parent of an NRI student said the institute was violating a provision of the Supreme Court barring any institute from charging advance fee from students.

He said his ward had already deposited advance fee of $ 40,000. He alleged that the institute was violating a Supreme Court provision by not paying interest on advance fee. He threatened that they would issue a notice to institute on the matter and said the latter would be responsible for any lecture “shortage”.

Those asked to deposit fees also include wards of some high-profile persons and those under the NRI quota.

Dr Dhaliwal said they had sent notices to all students to pay their fees and not singled out any particular class. He said the institute had waited till October 11 for the High Court decision to finalise the fee structure.

However, he said the state failed to implement the HC direction. The institute then announced the last date for fee payment as October 25. The Principal also stated that during a meeting with Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on September 10, October 31 had been fixed as the last date for finalising fee.

Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakokhe, former working president, SGPC, whose ward also studies in the institute, said he had not gone to his village and so was not aware of this development.

Meanwhile, parents said they were asked to pay Rs 2.72 lakh even though they had already paid Rs 3.58 lakh in the first prof when the fee structure was not finalised and only an agreement on provisional fees was reached.

Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, expressed ignorance of the matter and said he had just returned from Espanola after attending the bhog ceremony of Yogi Harbhajan Singh. SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur was not available on the phone.


Punjab, Haryana far ahead in child sex ratio disparity
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Punjab Govt's initiatives

Secretary, Health, Punjab D. S. Guru, said that the Health Department in Punjab is working closely with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Medical Association of Punjab to influence doctors not to perform sex determination tests. "The Punjab Government is also offering incentives to couples opting for voluntary sterlisation after the birth of the girl child so that the child sex ratio becomes more balanced in the state."

The Secretary said that these strategies seemed to be working in the state as “child sex ratio has slightly improved reaching at 842 girls per 1000 males till September this year.”

Chandigarh, October 26
The need to do something more than mere lip service for protecting and nurturing the girl child was once again reiterated in the region, which carries the dubious distinction of registering the sharpest decline in the child sex ratio in the last decade.

The only difference today at CII's workshop on ``Sex selection and pre-birth elimination of the females'' was the changed platform and the penal of experts. The issue, however, remained as grim yet neglected as ever.

Presenting embarrassing statistics of child sex ratio in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, as registered in the 2001 census, Deputy Registrar General, Census of India, Suman Prashar said that the four otherwise ``economically developed entities'' in India had performed miserably in protecting its girl children.

The three states and the city beautiful have left all other states in the country way behind, accounting for the maximum decrease in the child sex ratio between 1991 to 2001.

State CSR Loss

(difference of CSR in 2001 with 1991)

Punjab 793 82
Haryana 820 59
H.P. 897 54
Chd 845 54
India 927 18

While Punjab leads the tally with a loss of 82 points in the decade, Haryana has lost 59, Himachal and Chandigarh tied at a loss of 54 points each, followed by Gujarat and Delhi which registered a loss of 50 points each.

Only 5 states in the country have shown an improvement in the child sex ratio.

The grim statistics goes down to the level of districts and villages in the states. None of the 17 districts in Punjab, 18 districts in Haryana and 11 of the 12 districts in Himachal Pradesh registered an improvement in the ratio in favour of adding more girl child vis-a-vis boys.

Out of the 12,278 villages in Punjab, 6376 villages have a child sex ratio below 800 in 2001. In comparison, out of the 12,428 villages in the state in 1991, 3853 villages faced this scenario in 1991.

``How can so many girls go missing in these states? It is largely due to the unethical practice of prebirth sex determination and the unchecked female foeticide that has resulted in the situation,'' pointed out Geeta Malhotra, Programme Officer of the Population Foundation of India, the organisers of the workshop.

`The idea of providing the information is to facilitate in the making the policies which can tackle the problem at the grassroots level,'' said Prashar.

Representing the government, the Minister of State for Social Security and Welfare , Punjab, Gurkirpal Kaur, referring to the missing girl child as ``murder in the womb'' ,however, said that `` All responsible citizens should take pledge to protect and nurture the girl child.''

She called for a greater vigilance of law enforcers to deal with the problem.

Child Sex ratio in 2001: Number of female children (in 0-6 years age group per 1000 males)


Punjab gets down to improving girl child sex ratio
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Parents of only one girl child, hold your breath for a while ! There is a heartwarming news for you. Soon, you will be proud of being the parents of your only daughter. And being so will also fetch financial benefits for you.

The Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department has prepared a scheme to provide various financial incentives to the parents having only one girl child.

However, There will be one condition attached to it. Such parents would have to go for sterilisation when the girl child attained stipulated age. Financial incentives will also be available to those having two girls. but, obviously little lesser than those having only one girl child.

The scheme has been given a specific name" Balri Rakhian Scheme"( Girl Protection Scheme). It is the brainchild of, Mr Darbara Singh Guru, Secretary, of the Health Department. " The scheme would be submitted soon to the Planning Department ", said Mr Guru, while talking to The Tribune. " I am sure it will get through all barriers and reach the implementation stage soon", said Mr Guru.

Obviously, the scheme is outcome of the lot of brain storming started after Punjab got the stick from all sorts of socially aware groups at the national and international level for having a most skewed sex ratio in the country.

Punjab, the land of prosperity, has been virtually "mauled" by various social organisations on this issue. " Skewed sex ratio has become a source of big embarrassment for the state", says a sociologist .

After the release of data of census-2001 regarding the sex ratio, Punjab was virtually battered on this issue.

" We have been thinking to protect the girl child. And incentives for parents of only or two girl children is the first step in this connection", said Mr Guru. Even, the Health Department has proposed to the Union Government to release more grants to those villages which have better sex ratio in Punjab under the Centrally funded Reproduction and Child Health Project. " The Union Government is expected to okay it", said Mr Guru.

There will be much more. Health Department will be monitoring child sex ratio on monthly basis.

We would not wait for the next census to judge where we stand on sex ratio, especially in the 0-6 age group. In fact, we have already started such monitoring in urban hospitals. As per the last census( 2001) data the female sex ratio is 798 in the age group 0-6 years.

However, as per the data collected during 2003 in urban hospitals, the female ratio has been counted as 849 and during the first six months of the current year it has been recorded at 842 in 0-6 age group.

As many as 54 cases have been filed against those found holding sex determining tests and licences of 41 ultrasound centres had been cancelled. An advisory committee at the state level has been set up under the leadership of Mrs Preneet Kaur, Member of Parliament and wife of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to initiate various steps to educate people on this issue, says Mr Guru.


Ex-President’s kin awaits pension
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 26
The widow of a World War II veteran, who is also relative of former Indian President Giani Zail Singh, is running from pillar to post for pension after the death of her husband, Arjan Singh on September 1 last year.

The officials concerned did not shy away from asking her to grease their palms to get her work done swiftly.

Arjan Singh’s daughter is married to Giani Zail Singh’s son Joginder Singh.

Speaking to The Tribune here today, ex-serviceman Arjan Singh’s widow Daleep Kaur said she was awaiting pension for the past 14 months.

The Army had sought certain documents for identification of Arjan Singh’s widow for continuation of pension.

“The government doesn’t take a second while accepting donations, but when it comes to handing out money it tightens its purse strings,” says the aged widow.

Though her sons are well off and look after her, what hurts her is the “apathetic” attitude of the government towards the widow of a valiant soldier of the Army.

A frail Daleep Kaur says it is beyond her comprehension as to why the Army was taking so long for the identification despite the fact that they had completed all formalities in this regard.

Arjan Singh joined the Army at the age of 18 on January 14, 1937. He took part in World War II and displayed exemplary courage in North Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma (now Myanmar). Arjan Singh, was felicitated with 1939/45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal for gallantry on the battlefield. His stint with the Army came to an abrupt end on April 8, 1943, as he was declared medically unfit after he received bullet injuries in his shoulder, the left hand and leg during the war.

In 1951, the police honoured him with a commendation certificate for his valuable assistance in the recovery of some firearms.

Daleep Kaur’s son Darshan Singh said following his father’s demise they received a letter from the Army authorities seeking his death certificate and other documents for identification of his widow.

He said they submitted the affidavits signed by the local municipal councillor and an ex-serviceman.

Surprisingly, they had received a letter from the authorities saying that his mother’s name was not found in the long roll.

As if the 14-month wait for pension was not enough, some officials demanded undue favours, including bribe from family members. 


VB arrests XEN, two SDOs
Payments made on fake papers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 26
One Executive Engineer (XEN) and two Subdivisional Officers (SDOs) were arrested by the Vigilance Bureau this evening for their alleged involvement in committing a fraud on the Punjab Mandi Board.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Garg, Executive Engineer and Mr D.S. Gill and Mr Surjeet Singh Bhalla (both SDOs) were arrested by a team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Raminder Singh when it was found that they, along with other officials of the Punjab Mandi Board posted in this district, had committed a fraud to the tune of Rs 20 lakh at different times.

Information revealed that the modus oprandi of the accused was that they used to get fake bills pertaining to execution of civil works of the department prepared and subsequently used to make payments on the basis of the same fake bills to a section of contractors who were their favourites.

During the past few years, the accused had shown in the official record that a number of civil and other works had been executed by a section of contractors, but no work had been done actually.

Mr Raminder Singh, when contacted, said that the fourth accused, who had been identified as Mr Pawinder Singh, Junior Engineer (JE), Punjab Mandi Board, was yet to be arrested.

He pointed out that the accused were found guilty of committing a fraud on the Punjab Mandi Board in an inquiry conducted by him. He said that the inquiry was conducted on a complaint lodged by Mr Gurmit Singh, a resident of this district, to the Vigilance Department.

When asked whether contractors were involved in this fraud, he said that he had been collecting evidence. He said that so far it had been found that the accused had eaten up between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh of the Punjab Mandi Board by fraudulent means. He pointed out that different teams had carried out searches of the residential premises of the accused.

A case in this connection had been registered in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Ferozepore, under Section 13 (1) (D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the IPC.


Half holiday today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Punjab Government today declared half day holiday tomorrow to enable devotees participate in the ‘shoba yatra’ to be held to celebrate the parkash utsav of Maharishi Balmik.

A spokesperson said that the government offices and other organisations, such as boards and corporations, would remain closed during the post-lunch session.


12 detected with mild jaundice
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, October 26
The district health authorities today sent eight water samples, collected from a jaundice-affected locality, to the Bacteriology Laboratory, Chandigarh, for testing. The authorities have asked the laboratory to test the samples as early as possible and send its report to them. These samples were collected from Adarsh Mohalla and Phirni Road area.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said here today that a rapid response team, headed by Dr KC Goyal, District Health Officer (DHO), after visiting the jaundice-affected area had found 12 patients suffering from mild jaundice, which could be treated easily at home. She said the patients suffered from mild jaundice due to consumption of contaminated water.

Dr Walia also claimed that there was no alarming situation in the jaundice- affected area as a majority of the affected persons were recovering rapidly. She said the patients, who were suffering from mild jaundice were Sonu, Manmohan Krishan and his wife Yashika, Parveen Kumar, Sarita, Bimla, Kamlesh, Nishu, Jatin, Vikas, Ravi and Gurinder Kumar, all between 15 and 30 years.

The health authorities today also sent a team to the affected area. The team distributed chlorine tablets by going door to door for cleaning the water as residents are consuming contaminated water through rotten and junk-borne water pipes.

Meanwhile, the Civil Surgeon has made an appeal to the local unit of the Indian Medical association (IMA) to issue instructions to their members, private medical practitioners, to bring cases involving hepatitis and jaundice, etc, to the notice of the district health authorities as and when a patient of such a disease comes to them for treatment.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sekhon, Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council (MC), Mr Moti Lal, municipal councillor of the ward, and Mr Surinder Singh Wahia, SDO, Sewerage Board, today visited the locality. Mr Sekhon and Mr Moti Lal said about 12 persons from the Adarsh locality and Phirni Road were suffering from the disease and some of them were now recovering.

The EO of the local MC, along with his staff was today seen replacing rotten and junk-borne water pipes in the locality. Mr Sekhon said they had replaced such pipes which were leaking and passing through the street drains, resulting in mixing of drain water with piped water. He said they had replaced pipes at 16 points so far.

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Government today admitted outbreak of jaundice in Sangrur district and said the cause of this was contaminated drinking water supplied by the local government, said an official press release.


Restaurants found wanting, challaned
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
One restaurant was caught with cockroaches moving freely in its deep freezer even as 15 others were challaned for various violations of the Municipal Act, including poor sanitary conditions, during a surprise check on restaurants and hotels in the city today.

The check, which was done by Corporation Health Officer Karamjit Singh, saw Jerica restaurant being caught with cockroaches in its deep freezer. Besides, the restaurant kitchen presented insanitary conditions, with no system to segregate leftover food.

In fact, the issue of leftover food was not addressed by most of the restaurants and hotels which were checked today. The Health Officer said most of them had kept leftover food on the same shelves on which fresh food was to be prepared, raising apprehensions of its reuse.

Among the major defaulters was Standard Hotel in the Sheranwala Gate area. The kitchen was found to be completely black due to poor ventilation and a clogged chimney. Dustbins were not covered and the kitchen was emitting a foul smell, according to the Health Officer. He said among the other violators who were challaned today included Green and Godwin restaurant on the Mall road and Harbans Residency.

Dr Karamjit Singh said while Green and Godwin had poor sanitation facilities in its kitchens, in case of Harbans Residency, it was found that the management did not have a licence to operate the hotel. He said even the generator of the hotel was found to be lying outside. Other eateries which were found to be encroaching upon corporation land have also been challaned.

These included Chawla Chicken Corner, whose kitchen is situated on the footpath. The owner used the land outside the tiny shop for sitting and other purposes. Similarly, it was found during the raid that Arjun Restaurant and Happy Chicken Corner in the Leela Bhavan market had also encroached upon government land by taking over a veranda outside the restaurant. Khansama Restaurant in the Railway Crossing Number 22 area was found to be without a licence, with old records showing that the restaurant management had not even heeded to notices in this regard earlier.

Was there any place which the corporation team found hard to challan? The Health Officer said he could not find any fault with the newly made and operational kitchen of Sahni bakery. He said the management of Narain Continental was also found to be tackling the issue of sanitation effectively during the surprise check.

The corporation is set to levy penalties ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 against restaurants and hotels which have been challaned by it under various heads. The Health Officer said the drive, which was undertaken on the orders of Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu, would be undertaken again before Divali to see whether necessary changes had been affected by the defaulters or not.


Mahant’s murder may be insider’s job
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
The murder of Mahant Pritam Singh of the Bhai Ram Kishen Trust seems to be an insider’s job. The investigations indicate that the murder of the mahant could not have been committed for the sake of robbery.

Though the gold ‘kada’ of the mahant and his three rings and a mobile phone are missing after the murder police sources say this could be a deliberate attempt to complicate the case. They say that Rs 4 lakh were lying in an almirah of the same room which could have been easily spotted after a cursory inspection.

The mahant, who lived on the premises of the Bhai Ram Kishen Gurdwara in the Sheranwala Gate locality in the city, was murdered on October 23. His body bore 26 stab wounds. He was running a trust that governed three schools in the city and adjoining areas and was in control of a large sum of money. Sources said the brutality used in committing the murder also proved that it could not be a case of simple robbery.

Meanwhile, sources said the police had found vital clues in the case and a major breakthrough was expected in a few days. However, SP (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk, when questioned on the issue, preferred to keep mum. He said he visited the spot today and remained there for more than four hours with SP (City) R.L. Monga.

A visit to the gurdwara revealed that after a thorough search of the premises during the course of which forensic experts were also called in, the police was now concentrating on questioning close associates of the mahant.


Science city to open in mid-December
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 26
The opening of the much-awaited Pushpa Gujral Science City has now been stalled till mid-December as the authorities are now waiting for the Punjab Chief Minister to decide the name of the VVIP who will inaugurate the project.

While the huge structures that have been erected in the sprawling 71 acres at a cost of Rs 47 crore have already been given final touches, the inauguration is being delayed as the state government has not been able to take a decision on the chief guest for the opening day.

A meeting of the authorities concerned was held at Chandigarh yesterday to take a decision on the exact date of opening but no conclusion was reached and it was left for Capt Amarinder Singh to name the VVIP and take an appointment for opening to be held some time in mid-December.

The officials have decided about the charges of entry ticket that has been fixed at Rs 20 per person. This excludes the charges for entry to special attractions, including stimulators, 3-D cinema and laser shows. The complete package would come for Rs 100 per person and Rs 300 for a family of four. There, however, will be huge concessions for larger groups and schoolchildren.


Prosecute Modi, demands Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 26
The Akali Dal, headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, today demanded that BJP leader Narendra Modi should be prosecuted for “murder of humanity” and for his alleged nefarious bid to create a wedge between Hindus and Muslims.

Meanwhile, the Akali Dal has decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister in New Delhi on December 6 in support of demands made during the 1982 “dharam yudh morcha”, release of Sikh detainees from jails and for revocation of blacklist of Sikhs in India and abroad.

Addressing a press conference here today, senior Akali Dal leaders, including Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, Mr Ranjit Singh Chajjalwaddi, Mr Darshan Singh Isapur and Mr Gurdip Singh Bathinda, said Mr Modi should be prosecuted for the crimes “committed” by him. “We feel that Mr Modi has dared to subject minorities to torture as leaders like Mr Parkash Singh Badal have failed to resist his efforts. We have directed our units to burn effigies of Mr Modi and Mr Badal at all district headquarters,” said Mr Ravi Inder Singh.

The Akali Dal leaders alleged that Mr Badal has converted the SAD into a private limited company and observed that the failure of the SAD to create awareness had led to many evils.


Action sought against Badal
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 26
The cashier of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Baldev Singh Kang, has demanded action against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, for showing disrespect to the symbols of Sikh religion.

He appealed to Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti to call Mr Badal to Akal Takht and announce punishment for him as he had brought disrespect to the Sikhs. He said Mr Badal wanted to please BJP leaders and so he did not condemn the comments made on Sikhs by Mr Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister.

Mr Kang denied that there were any difference between the Punjab Chief Minister and certain Congress leaders.


Small Saving agents observe strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 26
Small Savings agents of the district today observed a strike in protest against the alleged “anti-agents” attitude of the Director, Small Savings, Punjab, and reduction in their incentives and gift items by the department.

The agents from Sangrur, Sunam, Dhuri and Malerkotla took out a protest march and raised slogans in support of their demands. A deputation of the Sangrur Small Savings Agents Union, led by its president, Mr Vijay Kumar Gathi, submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, here today.

Mr Jasbir Singh, press secretary, Sangrur Small Savings Agents Union, said acting upon the proposals of the Director, Small Savings, the Punjab Government had reduced their incentives and decreased gifts given to them on various small savings schemes.

Citing example of reduction in incentives, he said earlier, a small savings agent had been given a gold ginny of 8 grams after the deposit of Rs 13 lakh, where as now an agent gets a gold ginny of 10 grams after the deposit of Rs 90 lakh.

He further said the agents had also decided to boycott the 28th lucky coupon scheme of the scheme. The agents would not receive lucky coupons from the District Small Savings offices to distribute the same among the investors, he added.


Fine imposed for evading market fee
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 26
Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner, today imposed a fine of Rs 42,000 on a rice mill owner of Bareta Mandi for his alleged involvement in evading market fee by purchasing paddy directly from the farmers at his doorstep.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Chaudhary said that the Shiv Shakti Rice Mills of Bareta Mandi had evaded market fee to the tune of Rs 21,000 by purchasing 1,750 quintals of paddy directly from the farmers as per the inquiry made into incident.

He said that Rs 21,000 had been charged from the owner of the rice mill in the shape of market fee, while Rs 42,000 had been charged as fine for evading the same.

He said that the traders and various procurement agencies had already purchased 3,88,000 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy as against 3,38,399 MT of paddy which was procured in the corresponding period last year. About 4,300,000 MT of paddy was to be procured as per the target fixed for this year.


Road mishap leaves 12 injured
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 26
Twelve persons were injured, two of them seriously, in an accident involving three vehicles near Basanwali Chungi here this morning.

While 10 persons received minor injuries, two of them who were travelling in an Army jeep, were taken to a private hospital from where they were referred to the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir. It is learnt that four persons were travelling in the Army jeep.

There was a traffic jam on the road for about half-an-hour after the accident.

The accident took place when a truck, coming from the Chandigarh direction, tried to overtake a car but in the process collided with an Army jeep coming from Ludhiana. The jeep overturned and was badly damaged. Both the driver of the jeep, Bola Singh, and another person, P.S. Parmar, were seriously injured.

After colliding with the Army jeep, the truck later hit a Tata Sumo coming from Faridkot. There were eight persons from the office of the Civil Surgeon, Faridkot, travelling in the van when the accident took place. It is learnt that they were coming to attend a meeting of the Health Department at the head office in Sector 34, Chandigarh. Among the persons who got injured were the Superintendent of the Civil Surgeon, Faridkot, Mr Iqbal Singh, pharmacist, Mr Naresh Kumar, and the Sumo driver, Jaswinder Singh.

The driver of the truck fled from the scene. The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC in this regard.


DC unhappy with MC working
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, has taken a serious view of the working of the Municipal Council, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib. He said though the council had got funds worth Rs 42 lakh from the planning board but no development work in the town has taken place. He added that the people and councillors have been approaching him for even minor jobs.

He said he would get a Vigilance probe done in this regard. He said this while addressing a meeting called by Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, to make arrangements for the visit of PWD Minister to the district on October 29. In the meeting, DCC chief, council president, council EO, councillors along with other Congress workers were present.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Harbans Lal agreed with the views expressed by the Deputy Commissioner and said the council should work effectively and in a transparent manner.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Mr Sadhu Ram, president, BCC, Mr Gurwinder Dhillon, chairman, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, also addressed the gathering.


PWD Minister leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works Department, crossed over to Pakistan through the Wagah joint checkpost here today to invite artistes to participate in the two-day Virasat Mela (heritage festival) to be held in Jalandhar from November 19.

The minister said he would see old heritage and monuments and discuss their preservation there.


Folk theatre fest at Andreta today
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The Punjabi University’s Theatre and Television Department is organising a five days folk theatre festival at Andreta from tomorrow to celebrate the birth anniversary of Norah Richards, who is often affectionately referred to as the ‘nani’ of the theatre movement in the state.

Groups from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh will perform. In addition to this Department of Theatre and Television will be staging two plays “Hinadanduv and Lalit Sher Jang” directed by Dr Yogesh Gambhir and the second one “Luna” written by Shiv Kumar Batalvi.


Camp to promote hyola cultivation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 26
The local office of the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) today organised a farmers’ awareness-cum-interaction camp at a seed farm at Mastuana Sahib, 5 km from here, to promote the cultivation of hyola crop (hybrid gobhi sarson PAC-401), durum wheat (PW-274) and barley (VJM-315) under the contract farming programme in the district.

Besides farmers from Badrukhan, Lidran, Momnabad, Mastuana Sahib, Changal, Batuha and Kanjhla villages, Mr Rattan Mittal, Senior District Manager, PAFC,

Sangrur, and Ms Anju Bhatia, PR, PAFC, Chandigarh, also participated in the camp.

While interacting with farmers, Mr Rattan Mittal, Senior District Manager of the PAFC , said the corporation had fixed a traget of bringing 8,000 acres under the hyola crop this year, while nearly 1,00,000 acres would be brought under this crop through out the state.

He said the hyola and durum wheat seeds were being made available to the farmers through the PAFC centres, Agriculture Department and Cooperative Societies etc at Rs 450 per packet (for one acre) of Hyola seed and Rs 410 per bag (for one acre) of durum wheat seed.


Man beaten up for not serving liquor
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 26
An auto-rickshaw driver of the Radha Swami Satsang area here, who was beaten up for allegedly not serving alcohol to culprits, is running from pillar to post to get justice.

Jatinder Kumar (20), said on May 4 he had parked his vehicle near the Dhangu Peer area. At least three to four drunkards forced him to drop them at Sujanpur. When he refused they started beating him up with sticks and other weapons which they were carrying.

When they reached near Malikpur the auto-driver was forced to stop the vehicle. According to the complainant, the suspects demanded money for buying liquor. When the auto driver refused the culprit again started beating him up. The auto driver suffered multiple injuries. According to doctors treating him, the driver was suffering from trauma of the D 12-1-V disc.

Presently the victim was unable to move and was lying in the bed.

He said despite number of verbal and written complaints to the police no action had been taken against the suspects.

In a complaint lodged today with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, the victim demanded interim compensation of Rs 1 lakh from the Punjab State for violation of his human rights, as well as legal action against the suspects.


Nine colonisers booked
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 26
The district police has registered a case against nine colonisers, including six from Jalandhar, for allegedly demarcating two illegal colonies in Brahmwal village and Bhulath without approval from PUDA.

As per information available from police sources, the builders had demarcated plots in an area of 58 kanals and 15 marlas in Bhulath and a few acres in Brahmwal village and had started the selling process.

The nine builders against whom the case has been registered include Gurdas Singh, Veerpal Singh, Hardyal Singh, Jasbir Singh and Amanjot Singh, all from Basti Bawa Khel in Jalandhar, Kamal Master from Urban Estate in Jalandhar, Kuldip Kumar from Mundi Mor village in Begowal, Paramjit Singh from Brahmwal village and Guggu from Fattu Dhingra.

Mr Ranbir Singh, DSP, Bhulath, said two separate cases had been registered against the accused yesterday. He, however, said that none of the accused had been arrested so far.


VLCC booked for ‘inhuman’ treatment
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 26
When Mr Ghansham Dass, a resident of Maur Mandi, joined the local Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves (VLCC) centre, little did he know that he would have to pay a heavy price for reducing his waistline and shaping up his body.

Mr Dass who joined the VLCC centre in May, 2004, with the hope that he would be slim and trim within a few months, is a disappointed man today as the ‘ inhuman’ treatment given to him at the centre has left permanent scars on his body.

Though Mr Dass got some relief when a criminal case was registered against Ms Poonam Dhani, local Head, VLCC centre, and other staff members under Sections 287,420 and 323 of the IPC yesterday for causing injuries and cheating him, he has been finding it difficult to get rid of the scars which have developed on his abdomen after he was given electric shocks and heat treatments forcibly, despite the fact that he pleaded with the staff that the treatment was causing him severe pain.

Mr Dass, who paid Rs 11,000 to the VLCC centre for reducing his weight by 13 kg within two months, had to spend thousands of rupees for getting treatment for the burn injuries suffered by him at the hands of the VLCC staff.

Though the injuries suffered by Mr Dass forced him to leave the centre for getting treatment, Ms Dhani did not take any action on the complaint lodged to her by him. He was not even allowed to lodge his complaint at the head office of the centre based at Gurgaon.

A team of the Civil Hospital also carried out a surprise check of the VLCC centre to find out whether it was running as per the norms or not. The medical team gave an adverse report against VLCC.

Mr Dass said his only demand was that all those who had played with his life should be arrested immediately and proceeded against as per the law so that they could be stopped from putting lives of others in jeopardy.

Ms Dhani could not be contacted as she was away to Gurgaon after registration of a criminal case against her. No arrest has been made in this connection so far.


28 found travelling without tickets
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 26
As many as 28 passengers were travelling in various express and passenger trains when a surprise check was carried out at the local railway station by Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Special Railway Magistrate (SRM), Punjab.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that while a fine of Rs 6,675 was realised from 18 passengers who were travelling without ticket, 10 passengers were sent to police custody till the rising of the court.

Information revealed that checking started early in the morning and continued till late afternoon. Mr Aggarwal checked various express and passenger trains.


Two chain snatchers held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
With the arrest of two persons at a special naka, the police has claimed to have unearthed a gang of chain snatchers. Some gold chains have been recovered from them.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said two scooter-borne persons snatched the chain of Ms Anju Singla of Mandi Gobindgarh and fled away. They also snatched chains in the Sirhind area.

During a naka at the Focal Point, Mandi Gobindgarh, a police party stopped two persons for checking. A 20 gm gold chain was recovered from them. During investigation, they revealed their identity as Agjit Singh and Dharminder Singh, both residents of Morinda.


German parliamentarian speaks on peace initiative
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
A South Asian representative of the Heinrich Poll Foundation (HPF), Dr Angelica Lossack, former Parliament Member of Germany, here today said that youths, especially students, could play a vital role in suppressing animosity and establishing peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

Her lecture was arranged by the Department of Political Science of Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with Punarjyot, Amritsar, and Rafi Peer Group, Lahore, as part of the ongoing Saanjh Amritsar-Lahore Festival.

Dr Lossack, elaborating the experiences of her country in this context, said that Germany had a long history of animosity with France. The German youth eliminated the feeling of hatred and successfully established peace with France.

Prof Sarwat Ali from the National College of Art, Lahore, Mr Usmaan Peerzada, Director, Rafi Peer Group, and Mr Mohammad Tahseen, Executive Director, South Asian Partnership, Lahore, also presented their views on confidence building measures initiated for establishing peace and friendship in India and Pakistan.

Following the lecture, a discussion and an interaction were held between the students and delegation.

Dr Lossack was honoured by Dr Jagroop Singh Sekhon, Head of Political Science Department, by presenting a set of publications of the university.


School for deaf and dumb promised land
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
After the betrayal of their faith by “philanthropist” Jaskaran Singh Randhawa, the authorities of the School for Deaf, Dumb and the Blind being run at Amar Ashram in the city have found another benefactor in Balwinder Singh Safdipur.

Mr Safdipur, who is the head of the International Bhau Bhaichara has already registered 4,000 square yards of his land in Safidipur village on the outskirts of the city in the name of the school. The land is reportedly worth Rs 35 lakh.

Jaskaran Singh Randhawa, who has now been arrested, had come as a “saviour” to the school on October 17.

The school has been promised money for the construction of another wing of the school on the outskirts of the city.

Col (retd) Karminder Singh, who heads the society which runs the school , says Mr Safidipur had come forward to promise money for the building of the school wing when the society suddenly found itself without a benefactor.

He said Mr Safdipur was expected to compensate the society for the "loss" suffered by it as the Rs 5 lakh cheque given to it by Jaskaran Singh Randhawa bounced

Meanwhile, Col Karminder Singh said Jaskaran was being helped by Kartar Cheema who had been rusticated from the Punjabi University Both of them were staying at Maharaja hotel situated opposite the University. He said it was Cheema who had accompanied Randhawa to the school and expressed the wish to donate money to the Trust.

He said Randhawa during his visit to the school interacted with the children and promised another Rs 35 lakh for the further expansion of the school building.

It was not only Col Karminder Singh who was befooled by Randhawa. He even “donated” Rs 1.5 lakh through a cheque on the occasion of a marriage ceremony of 21 needy couples organised by Balwinder Singh Safdipur at a marriage palace in the city a few days ago.

Col Karminder said Randhawa asked for a Tata Sumo vehicle from Safidipur so that he could visit his friend who was recuperating in a hospital in Chandigarh.

He said by this time he had started receiving news about the suspicious activities of Randhawa and advised Safidpur to only give his vehicle alongwith a gunman.

This offer was rejected by Randhawa.

Both Col Karminder and Safdipur were instrumental in getting Randhawa arrested.


Genetics workshop at GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
A workshop to immortalise human cells will be organised at the Center for Genetic Disorders, Guru Nanak Dev University in association with the National Center for Cell Science, Pune.

Dr S.A. Bapat, scientist, National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, will conduct the workshop in collaboration with Dr Jai Rup Singh, coordinator, Center for Genetic Disorders, of the Guru Nanak Dev University.

In a press note issued here today they said the human cells could not be kept alive in artificial conditions as it had short life span. When kept in different types of culture mediums, they could survive for short duration. However, in the workshop to be organised from November 25 to 29, the participants would be trained to immortalise the cells and cell lines forever with the help of a specific virus known as epstein-barr virus.

Dr Jair Rup Singh said cells modified with the virus could be stored for indefinite period and could be revived back at any time to divide again. This powerful technique, he said, provides a unique opportunity to study the genetic conditions of patients suffering from various diseases.

The current technologies might not be sufficient to identify the exact cause of the diseases. Individuals who suffer from such diseases might not survive with these either. But with this technique the living cells from the affected individuals would be available.

Participants from Jammu, Lucknow, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Chennai also took part in the workshop.


GND varsity exam results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The results of the BCA (I, II and III) BSc-IT (I, II, III and IV), BSc biotechnology (I and II) and bachelor of risk management (I) examinations held in September last would be declared tomorrow.

The results would also be available on the university website www.gnduonline.org in the evening.

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