P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Arjun to open Punjabi conference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh will inaugurate the World Punjabi Conference at Punjabi University at 2.30 p.m. tomorrow instead of the scheduled inaugural at 10 in the morning. The technical session, which was earlier scheduled for 2.30 p.m., will be held in the morning now.

As many as 106 delegates from Pakistan Punjab are scheduled to reach the university at 9.30 p.m. and will be accorded a traditional welcome by Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai. The conference coordinator, Dr Suchha Singh Gill, disclosed that a total of 400 delegates had confirmed their participation at the conference.

The Pakistan delegates will now also be able to visit Chandigarh during their visit. Earlier, they had been given visas for Amritsar and Patiala only. Dr Gill said the issue had been raised with the Ministry of External Affairs following which the Chandigarh Administration had been asked to facilitate the visit of the delegates to the Union Territory.

Meanwhile, security measures have been tightened in the university and each and every vehicle entering is undergoing a bomb detection drill. Security is likely to be tightened further from tomorrow, with only delegates and guests being allowed into areas where the conference is being held. Security personnel have been posted at key points, with senior officers, led by Zonal Inspector-General Rajinder Singh, personally looking into the arrangements.

University spokesman Baldev Singh Sandhu said besides the Human Resource Development Minister, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal would attend the inaugural ceremony. He said three parallel technical sessions were being organised on the inaugural day.

He said the technical session on Punjabi language and literature would be held at the Senate Hall and would be chaired by Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana.

He said the second session on Punjab art and culture would be held at the science auditorium and would be chaired by the Registrar, Dr Parm Bakshish Singh. The third technical session on agriculture, trade and technology would be held at Kala Bhavan.


Preneet Kaur out to impress Pak guests
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Housekeeping tops the agenda of Patiala MP and daughter in law of the late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala these days. Preneet Kaur has been busy since yesterday preparing the rooms which will be occupied by the Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister and his family entourage of 11 persons during their stay in her Old Moti Bagh Palace residence. Their visit is in connection with coming World Punjabi conference and Indo-Pakistan games.

The MP is not taking any chances. “Mainly because I have not done any house keeping since the last seven years after entering public life”, she says. Just back from a 15-day visit to the South she says she wants to devote the full time towards ensuring that all preparations for the stay of the Pakistani guests were in order.

After inquiring from a maid servant whether she had laid a thin ‘Jaipuri’ quilt or a thicker “razai” for the guests, the MP chose the latter, saying that the weather had become chilly during the last few days. She is herself looking into the making of the beds for the visitors. “Vases would be put at proper place in the rooms when the flowers will arrive tomorrow,” she said.

Mr Parvez Ellahi and his family members will be put up in five rooms, four of which are guest rooms on the ground floor adjoining the big lobby of the palace residence. Mr Ellahi will use a private drawing room while his two sons and their wives will use a joint drawing room. Two nephews of the Pakistani Chief Minister are being put up in a single room while three other women members will be put up in a room on the first floor.

Incidentally, the Pakistani Chief Minister will not taste the culinary specialities of the Patiala ‘khana’ or that of the Rampur gharana cuisine whose eight cooks have already reached the palace. “This is because Mr Ellahi has recently undergone an angioplasty and will take only steamed and light foods”, Ms Preneet Kaur says.

The Pakistani guests would be received by her husband state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. She informed that while Mr Ellahi and other menfolk accompanying him would visit Chandigarh the next day, the women will remain in Patiala. They might go on sight seeing trip of the city or could go shopping. The guests are scheduled to leave for Ajmer Sharif on December 4 and return on the 5. They will be leaving for Pakistan on the sixth, she said.

Ms Preneet Kaur has shifted her office to the main gate of the palace. “Mr Ellahi has been accorded Z plus security, therefore, I am shifting my office to the main gate so that I can meet people coming from my constituency without any problem”, she adds.


Warm welcome awaits Pak CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 30
The holy city is gearing up to accord a warm welcome to Chaudhary Parveiz Elahi, Chief Minister, Pakistani Punjab. While the city is being decorated, an intensive cleanliness drive, too, is underway. Mr K.S. Kang, MC Commissioner with additional charge of the Deputy Commissioner today addressed a meeting of district heads and assigned various duties to them.

Guru Nanak Dev University, has also planned to accord a rousing reception to Chaudhry Elahi on his visit to university campus on December 2.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, stated that the university was proud to honour two distinguished sons of ‘land-of-five-rivers.’ Chaudhary Elahi and Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab would be conferred with Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.) degrees.

The Syndicate and the Senate of the university had recommended them as being qualified for the award of degree of D.Litt. (honoris causa) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.


117 Pakistani prisoners may be released
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
As many as 117 Pakistani nationals, lodged in various jails of the country, including Amritsar and Jammu and Kashmir, may be released shortly even as four officials of the Pakistan High Commission conducted counselling in the Central Jail here today.

Most of the Pakistani nationals have been languishing in jails even after completion of their sentence as the government of Pakistan had not come to their rescue by undertaking their identification.


Medals to depict Quila Mubarak
Gurvinder Kaur

The two faces of the medals for the coming Indo-Pakistan games to be held in Patiala.
The two faces of the medals for the coming Indo-Pakistan games to be held in Patiala. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, November 30
Visiting players from Pakistan will have a chance to carry back with them an imprint of the glorious heritage of Patiala city in the form of a medal on which an impression of the historic Quila Mubarak has been embossed. The design of the two faces of the medals have been finalised.

The medals to be given for the coming Indo-Pak Punjab games, aimed at fostering the spirit of lasting friendship between the two countries , besides depicting their Olympic-style logo on the one side will depict the heritage of the erstwhile Patiala state on the other.

The ramparts of the Quila Mubarak will feature on the face of the medals which are being die cast by a Delhi-based company after the design was approved of by the state government recently.

The medals to be used for the event are being made on the specifications followed by the Olympic medals . Even the logo is similar to the one used for the Olympics. Instead of the five rings depicting the continents the medal for the Indo-Pakistan games has two sets of rings intertwined with each other. Whereas there are three rings representing the Indian tricolour, two rings represent the green and white colours used in the Pakistani flag.

The diameter of the medal is 60 millimetre while its thickness will be 3 millimetre. The medals are being made in both silver and bronze. The gold medal will be made of pure silver however a gold polish will adorn the medals slated to be given away as gold. The ribbons to be used will be blue and golden yellow in colour. According to the organisers, the second Indo-Pakistan games to be held at Lahore next year will see the same logo as there is to be no change in the design which has been adopted as permanent. However, the other face of the medal which presently carries a depiction of the fort along with the city’s name will change each year as the venue of the games will keep on shifting. If the fun-filled release of the mascot “Shera” is any indication the forthcoming games promise much fun and festivity along with sports.


Pak journalists vow to fight ‘honour killings’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
Expressing dismay over large the number of women killings on the pretext of ‘honour killings’ (kara-kari) in tribal areas of Pakistan, which is about 1,000 every year, women journalists, who crossed over to India through the Wagah joint check-post, today resolved to fight against the menace till its eradication.

Celebrity woman writer and columnist from Pakistan Bushra Ejaz, who wrote a number of articles in the daily, Khabren, on this subject said the age-old kara-Kari (honour killings) system was still prevalent in tribal areas, including interior Sindh, Mianwali, parts of the Frontier Province and in certain parts of West Punjab despite the passage of the Honour Killing Bill - 2004 in the Lower House of Pakistan Parliament, which proposed the death penalty or life imprisonment for the crime .

Faiza Sakib, a sub-editor of Punjabi magazine Pancham (Lahore) said apart from kara-kari, the practice of Wani (revenge killings) was common in some parts of the country, including south Punjab, especially in Mianwali . This was due to the continuance of the feudal system in certain parts of Pakistan.

The Pakistani journalists said international NGO Oxfam had already announced to launch a massive drive against such killings in the name of family honour in Pakistan.

The campaign would start from March next year in the southern province of Baluchistan and would be extended till 2011.

According to the Pakistani human rights group, Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), ‘honour killings’ are widespread in Pakistan.

During 2003, a total of 1,261 women were killed in the name of honour. Of the total ‘honour-related crimes’ in the country reported during last year, as many as 638 cases were from Sindh, 463 in Punjab, 120 in the NWFP and 40 in Baluchistan and other parts of Pakistan. In the first half of 2004, 268 cases of ‘honour killings’ were reported in the province of Sindh, according to the women rights organisation, Aurat Foundation.

The legislation also amended a provision in the criminal laws that had allowed a compromise between the family of the victim and the killers, barring them to do so before or during the trials.

However, Waqar Chaudhary, chief reporter, Associate Press of Pakistan (APP) and visiting professor of Punjab University, Lahore, claimed that the incidence of ‘honour killings’ had decreased as both General Pervez Musharraf and Mr Shaukat Aziz, President and Prime Minister of the country, respectively, were committed to eradicating this menace. Wakeel Anjum and Tanveer Zahoor, both journalists of the daily, Jang, Lahore, said ‘honour killings’ were due to lack of education among tribal communities.


PSEB staff oppose privatisation move
Tribune Reporters

Nawanshahr, November 30
On a call given by the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Forum, the various unions of PSEB employees — Technical Services Union, Employees Federation, JEs Council, MSU, AITUC — accompanied by various other employees’ unions organised a protest dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here today to protest against the state government’s move to privatise the board. PSEB union leaders criticised the state government for its move to privatise the PSEB.

The PSEB leaders threatened to intensify the stir if the government did not stop implementing its move to privatise the PSEB.

Earlier, employees held a protest march from the PSEB Circle Office to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. They raised slogans against the state Government. A memorandum was also submitted to the Deputy Commissioner.

SANGRUR: A large number of employees of the Sangrur Circle of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) under the banner of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here, demanding scrapping of the Central Electricity Act, 2003, and protesting against the proposed unbundling of the PSEB.

The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr N.S. Walia, enlisting their demands, to forward the same to the Punjab Chief Minister.

Almost all speakers, addressing the dharna, asked the Punjab Government not to unbundle the PSEB with a view to privatising it. Besides, the Union Government should also scrap the Central Electricity Act, 2003, in the larger interests of the public as well as employees of the electricity boards of the country.

MANSA: Hundreds of activists of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum along with members of different farmers’ union today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here to lodge their protest against the state government move to break the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

ROPAR: The employees of various federations of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) with the active support from kisan unions today protested against the introduction of Electricity Bill, 2003, here. They staged a dharna outside the district secretariat for about six hours.

The leaders of the various unions demanded withdrawal of the Electricity Act and announced one-day strike on December 12 to press their demand.


PSEB employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Force today organised a rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in protest against the alleged move of the government to privatise the board.

The other government employees associations led by Hari Chand, Convener, Joint Action Committee, also announced to support agitating employees.

Addressing the rally union leaders alleged that under the Electricity Act 2003 the state government wanted to dissolve the PSEB into various corporations, so that the way for privatisation was cleared and its working handed over to private contractors. They added that privatisation of any government department had miserably failed in the country.

They warned that if the state government tired to privatise the forcibly, its employees would intensify their agitation.

They also extended support to agitating farmers who were lathicharged in Bathinda. PSEB employees said they would hold dharnas at all subdivisions from December 3 in their support. A dharna would also be organised in front of the Parliament House, Delhi, against the privatisation of the PSEB, on December 10.


Ajeet Cour to boycott awards function
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab Languages Department has suffered another setback. Ajeet Cour, eminent Punjabi writer from Delhi, today announced to boycott the function to be organised to give Shiromani awards to eminent writers and others by the Languages Department at the concluding day of the World Punjabi Conference at Patiala on December 3.

Ajeet Cour has been chosen by the Punjab Government for the Shiromani Punjabi Writer Award (outside Punjab) for year 2002. She was to be given this award at the Patiala function. Earlier, Najm Hossain Syed had refused to accept the award. Even, Amarjit Chandan had been critical about the distribution of such awards. However, Mr Chandan has accepted the award.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from Delhi today, Ajeet Cour, Punjabi Sahit Academy winner, said that she was feeling slighted by the attitude of the Punjab Government as well as the Languages Department. “Today I contacted the Languages Department and asked that I would like to speak for a few minutes at the award-giving function. However, I was told that I could not do so as there would be no time to speak there”, she added.

Feeling humiliated, she said that “she was not supposed to come to collect an envelop carrying Rs 1 lakh at the function”. If the organisers could not give a minute to the awardees to express their views, then it is better not to attend such a function”, she added.


She took to smack trade to sustain family
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
A blind father and his inability to feed his seven children pushed, 19-year-old Geeta into smack trade.

She is full of remorse for what she has done, but candidly that circumstances forced her into the trap of the Nawanshahr-Delhi based drug mafia, which pushed her into drug peddling.

Interestingly, Jagiro, the mother of Geeta, who belongs to Silkiana village on the Phillaur-Nawanshar road, is in Central Jail here for the past about four months for allegedly selling poppy husk.

“My circumstances forced me into this trade about four months ago when my mother was arrested with poppy husk and there was nobody to look after the family. My father turned blind about five years ago. I have three brothers and three sisters, who are younger to me and are studying in school. I failed to find any other way to sustain my big family than to sell smack for handsome profits offered by the trade,” said a sobbing Geeta, who was arrested by the Phillaur police while allegedly trying to sell 50 gm of smack.

She narrated how she was lured into the trade by some people of her own village. “I cannot name them, but there are two-three families of my village which have been doing this business for a long time. I was carrying a consignment of 50 gm of smack, which I had brought from Delhi for Rs 5,000. I was told that I could earn a profit of Rs 1,000 if by selling it. But before I could do, I landed in the police not,” said Geeta, “I won’t do this in future,” she said.


1 dead, 2 hurt in Doraha blast
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
One labourer was killed and two persons were seriously injured in a blast at Bedi Steels factory near Doraha town late this evening. Though the owners of Bedi Steels claim that the blast occurred due to a blockade in the gas pipe, the police suspect that a scrap bomb put in the furnace had exploded.

A number of labourers in the factory told reporters that the blast took place when a recently imported scrap was put in the furnace for melting and moulding into iron and steel.

The police said they were registering a case.

The deceased labourer has been identified as Subodh Kumar Gautam (28) while the injured, under treatment at Sidhu Hospital, Doraha, were Ramesh (30) of Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh and Karnail Singh (50) of Ghutani Kalan village, near here.

Another labourer was discharged after first aid from the hospital. There were 100 labourers working in the factory at the time of the blast, which was heard several kilometers away. Eight labourers were working near the furnace which exploded.


SAD (A) demands Bibi’s removal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 30
Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by district president of the party Jeet Singh Alloarkh, today blocked the Sangrur-Patran road for some time at Sulargharat village, about 20 km from here, as part of their programme to oppose the entry of Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of the SGPC, into the district as she was expected to attend a function in a private school at Chhahar village, near Sulargharat, today. They also raised slogans against Bibi Jagir Kaur and demanded her removal from the post of President of the SGPC, alleging that no “kudimaar” (killer of a daughter) could serve the SGPC as President as per Sikh tenets.

Talking to TNS over the phone, Mr Alloarkh said they blocked the road for an hour and lifted the blockade at 3.30 pm as Bibi Jagir Kaur had not turned up till then.


Baba in trouble as doc tor’s employee spills beans
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Two human eyes in form alin, post-mortem results of a mentally challenged person whose eyes were removed after her death, an employee of a well-known eye hospital who was “caught” with the eyes and the statements of employees working for the All-India Pingalwara are slowly tightening the noose around Baba Balbir Singh, who has seen a phenomenal rise during the past five years.

According to sources, Sharma Eye Hospital employee Mann Singh, who was caught while bringing a pair of eyes to the hospital from the ashram, has spilled the beans on his employer as well as Baba Balbir Singh. They said Mann Singh had told the police that the Baba had been selling eyes to the hospital for the past one year and at least a dozen eyes were sold during this period.

Police sources said the magnitude of the scam could be more as some more people could be involved in it besides Mann Singh and his employers. They said preliminary investigation had revealed that the Baba used to charge around Rs 15,000 per eye. He also used to ensure prompt service. In case of a death, the hospital was informed immediately. The hospital authorities in turn informed the family of the recipient and the process of removing the eyes from the deceased and the process of transplanting these on the recipient started immediately to increase the success rate of the operation.

The police is also investigating the issue of a large number of deaths which have occurred in the ashram this year. A number of inmates of the ashram died within a fortnight in July this year. While three of them are said to have contracted diarrhoea, the others are said to have died due to varied reasons. The Baba had himself claimed in July that the increased death toll was due to the fact that a number of terminally ill patients were admitted in the ashram by their relatives.

If infirm and terminally ill patients are admitted in the ashram, there is nothing to suggest that their lot improves after their admission. A visit to the ashram revealed that there was no doctor posted there nor any specialised nurse or even a makeshift dispensary. Gurmeet Kaur, one of the organisers of the ashram, when questioned on this, said doctors used to visit the ashram from outside on demand.

There are very few inmates who can talk intelligibly as most of them are mentally retarded. However, one inmate who has undergone amputation of a leg, said all he got by way of medicine were pain killers. He said this was also the case with other inmates with none of them being treated for his or her particular ailment. The inmates themselves, especially the women, were locked in a rectangular open shed when the TNS team visited the ashram today. The women were seen sitting listlessly on the ground with many of them infested with fleas and even lice.

Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk said the police had been investigating the dealings of Baba Balbir Singh for the past two months after receiving complaints that he was selling eyes of deceased inmates. Mr Virk said Mann Singh had been arrested on specific information with the eyes of a 35-year-old woman who died at the ashram yesterday. He said the police had secured a two-day police remand of Mann Singh.

(Photo on page 5)


Pension of freedom fighters, widows revised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The upward revision of pension of freedom fighters and their widows by Rs 500 to Rs 2500 a month and granting of loans to persons with disability were among the major decisions taken by the Punjab Council of Ministers at its meeting held here today. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, presided.

A spokesman of the Punjab Government said that the Council of Ministers also approved the re-bidding of concession for operation and maintenance of Ropar-Phagarwa road project for Rs 401 lakh per annum for five years and the Jagraon-Nakodar road project for Rs 41 lakh per annum for two years.

The council also decided to convene the eighth session of the 12th Punjab Vidhan Sabha from December 14 for two days.

The council approved to grant loans to persons with disability through the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), Faridabad. The Punjab State Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation would sanction loans for the self- employment schemes after following the proper procedure.

The state government would have no financial burden as the entire loan amount would be provided by the NHFDC. The role of the state corporation would be to oversee that the funds released were properly utilised for the welfare of the handicapped persons.

It was also decided to change the designation of sectional officers (Junior Engineers) of the Agriculture Department to Soil Conservator Officers.

The administrative reports of some of the departments were approved.


So near yet so far for this PSEB ex-employee
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 30
Dil Bahadur, an ex-employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) who became disabled in an accident while on duty and was awaiting provident fund and other benefits, got the same within a couple of days after The Tribune carried his story (November 27 issue).

Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) also settled his disability claim on the very day the story was carried. The Labour Department, which was earlier asking him to submit a guarantee of Rs 4 lakh to receive his dues, handed him two cheques amounting to Rs 3,61,808 yesterday.

But Dil Bahadur still has a problem. The Labour Department has given him two cheques — one amounting to Rs 2 lakh and the other bearing the rest of the amount. The department has enclosed a letter with the cheque of Rs 2 lakh addressed to the State Bank of Patiala Manager, asking him to put the amount with a fixed deposit for three years so as to prevent its misuse and ensure monthly interest to him. Dil Bahadur reportedly pleaded with them to pay him the whole amount but they didn't listen to him.

Speaking to The Tribune here today, Dil Bahadur said that he was bed-ridden for the past three years and about Rs 1.5-2 lakh, which he had borrowed, had been spent on his treatment. "I need money to pay off my debt, marry my daughter, and educate my children," he said. His wife said they had been spending Rs 300 daily on his medicines. She said what they had received right now would go in repaying debt and they would hardly be left with anything.

"It is ridiculous to keep us waiting for three years when we badly need money now," she said.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Labour Commissioner could not be contacted for his comments.


Mediapersons resent BSF attitude
Our Correspondent

Wagah , November 30
Mediapersons faced uncooperative treatment from BSF personnel at the Wagah joint checkpost today during the arrival of delegates from Pakistan to participate in the three-day World Punjabi Conference to be held at Patiala from December 1.

An officer of the BSF sternly asked and gestured towards some mediapersons for not crossing the rope tied under the “Swarn Jayanti Dwar” when they were talking and taking bites of the visiting delegates.

It ensued an altercation between the BSF official and mediapersons. On this, the official insulted mediapersons by asking his subordinates to tie the rope behind the gate in future and not to allow mediapersons to come forward.

Mediapersons said they were performing their duty and did not desire any special treatment and were merely asking questions from the delegates. The situation was brought under control on the intervention of Dr Raj Kumar, Parliamentary Secretary for School Education, and visiting Pakistani delegates.


Boys who killed friend shifted to Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The Patiala Police today shifted all three boys accused of murdering a five year old boy for Rs 15 in his pocket to the Bal Niketan in Ludhiana. All three boys charged with murder, will also be presented before the Juvenile Court in Ludhiana.

All three aged between eight and 10 years, were arrested yesterday evening. They had strangled to death a five year old boy who was their friend and lived in the same locality in Guru Nanak Nagar day before yesterday. The crime had been discovered yesterday morning.

Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk disclosed all three boys who had been arrested used to mix correction fluid available at form stationery shops with water and imbibe it to get a high. He added the boys revealed that they wanted Rs 15 from Karamjit so that they could buy the fluid and when they did not get it they strangled him by joining togethers strips of cloth lying nearby.


Chahal advised rest, may not appear in court
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 30
Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Media Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has a date with the Punjab and Haryana High Court tomorrow. But there is very little chance of Mr Chahal keeping the date. The criminal contempt case, which was started by the Full Bench of the High Court on October 15 for his alleged attempts to interfere with the administration of justice, comes up for first hearing tomorrow.

He was admitted to Patiala Heart Institute, Patiala, following pain in the chest. He has been advised complete rest for two weeks.


Team to visit jaundice-hit village
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 30
Rapid Response Team will rush to jaundice-scared Chananwal village, 10 km from here tomorrow, for a thorough survey. It will take water as well as blood samples of those suffering from jaundice to determine whether they were suffering from water- borne disease orchronic (blood-borne disease) following orders from the Civil Surgeon, Sangrur.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, made it clear that there was no cause for villagers to get scared.

Dr Walia revealed that out of 11 cases reported as jaundice in the media were mostly alcoholic and chronic patients. A survey yielded information which is not at all alarming. She said the Sarpanch of the village too had said there were no jaundice cases borne out of contaminated water problem.

When this reporter talked to villagers, they said there were cases but they were not concerned about the gravity of the problem.

Mr Kartar Singh said about seven years ago the village panchayat had got approved a reservoir for drinking water, but the project was yet to be completed. They asserted that the construction of the water reservoir was the only solution to get potable water.


LIC staff oppose FDI
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, November 30
Protesting against the proposed increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector, a deputation of LIC employees under the banner of the Northern Zone Insurance Employees Association met Mr Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, and submitted a memorandum to him.

Stating this in a press note, Mr Surjit Ram divisional secretary, said the members apprised the MP of the reasons for opposing the proposed increase in FDI. The members told him about the crisis being faced by the European and US-based insurance companies. They said the only motive behind the move was to appease the foreign companies and to increase the ability of the private insurer to exploit the insurance market and capture the saving of the Indian people.

The insurance employees said the arguments given by the Finance Minister were baseless and there was no need to acquire any technology from the other countries.


SAD (A) hails J.J. Singh’s elevation
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (A) today hailed the elevation of Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh as the Army chief.

Mr Jaskaran Singh Kahansinghwala, general secretary, SAD (A) said today that earlier Lieut-Gen J.S. Arora and Lieut-Gen Shabeg Singh had been wronged by being denied the office of the General. The wrong had been made right with Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh named as the next Chief of the Army, he added.


Light and sound show on Sahibzadas on December 2
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 30
The district administration will organise a light and sound show “Lassani Qurbani of Sahibzadas” on the eve of 300 years of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh on December 2, at Anaj Mandi, Chamkaur Sahib, informed Ropar Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain here today. The show will depict the supreme sacrifice of Sahibzadas.


Sentence of kids' killers changed to life term
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today converted the death sentence awarded to two persons, who had killed two minor children of Jalandhar, into life imprisonment.

The two - Gagan Kanojia and Rajinder Kumar alias Kuka - had been found guilty by the Jalandhar District and Sessions Judge of killing two minor children Heena (8) and Abhishekh (6) after kidnapping them for ransom.

Today, deciding the appeals filed by the duo - Gagan Kanojia and Rajinder Kumar alias Kuka, the Bench of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh dismissed their pleas.

Declining the murder reference of the Sessions Judge, the Bench changed their sentence from death to life.

Gagan Kanojia and Rajinder Kumar had been found guilty of brutally killing the siblings on the evening of June 8, 2000. The siblings had gone on June 8 and their bodies, stuffed in a gunny bag with their heads covered with polythene bags and hands and legs tied, were recovered on June 9 from a vacant plot in the Khurla Kingra area of Jalandhar city.

After kidnapping the children, the duo demanded a ransom of Rs 10 lakh from their father. Fearing identification at the hands of the children, they eliminated them. The gruesome killings had sent shockwaves in the region.

In his order, the Sessions Judge had termed the case as rarest of the rare cases and awarded capital punishment to them.

About 20 witnesses, including key witnesses Sahil and Rakesh Kumar, recorded their statements during the trial which lasted over four years.

However, praying that their conviction be set aside, the duo had stated that prosecution evidence was based only on circumstantial evidence without any corroborating evidence on record. Their counsel, advocates R.S. Bajaj and Mandeep Singh Sachdev, had claimed that they were falsely implicated in the case. They had also claimed that even the motive for the crime had not been proved.

Sometime back, the Bench of Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Virender Singh had admitted their appeals.


Probe DTO’s record, says tribunal
SSP told to register case
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
In a significant development, which could expose alleged malfunctioning of the local District Transport Office, Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge-cum-Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT), today told the district police chief to register a criminal case against that office and investigate its record.

Mr Malwai, MACT, passed this order when while dealing with four accident cases he came to know that register of the District Transport Office was not maintained properly and some of the entries made were doubtful.

In a letter to the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, he asked him to make investigation to find out the fact that whether the entries in the register were being made on the basis of any genuine record or file after the depositing of necessary fee or entries were being manipulated by the office of the DTO to the help certain persons in claiming compensation in accident claims cases by fabricating the entries in old dates.

He said an interim report to the MACT should be submitted within three months to see whether any such other register was also being manipulated in the office of DTOs falling within the jurisdiction of the SSP to find out that fact that whether any person had been managing entries in the record to avoid liability of compensation in accident cases and to put the same on insurance companies.

Against some entries, verification certificates had also been issued and that aspect should also be investigated to find out the fact that whether those verifications had been given in accident claim cases or not. If the verification had been given and the licence was found fake, the criminal case should also be registered against those persons, who had done the same.

Mr Malwai also found that the register led not contain full entries. Some of the entries were without the signature of District Transport Officer (DTO) and possibility could not be ruled out that photographs of some of the persons which had been pasted in the register was not of those persons to whom the driving licences had been issued.

“During the trial of four motor accident claims cases, an official from District Transport Office, Mr Vivek Rattan, was examined. From his statement it transpired that he is not writer of this register and he has just brought the same for production purpose only. The register does not containing the signature of the DTO, he pointed out.

He added that entry number 6829 was made in the name of Mr Sadhu Singh, resident of Goniana Khurd. Later on, the same entry has been made in favour of Mr Ujjagar Singh of NFL colony, Bathinda. Entries number 7109 and 7110 are incomplete leaving the scope to enter any number of old licence. Entries number 7111, 7113 and 7114 are also incomplete. Apart from it, in some of the entries, addresses had been given but there was no mention of the fact that whether the licences had been issued or not. Similary an entry number 7156 showed that Bhola Singh, a truck union had been issued a licence but his photograph was missing.


Farmers demand higher prices for land
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 30
Farmers of villages falling under Kharar subdivision have demanded higher land acquisition prices as compared to farmers falling under Mohali subdivision.

At a meeting of the District Price Fixation Committee held here today farmers from villages under Kharar subdivision demanded that they should be paid a price varying between Rs 45 lakh and Rs 76 lakh per acre.

The officials concerned were shown registration papers to prove that land had been sold earlier at the rates that were now being demanded by them.

Mr Charanjit Singh, president of the local Municipal Council, told members present at the meeting that the price of land falling under municipal limits was much higher. He said land falling under Desumajra village had been sold at Rs 1 crore per acre. He demanded a price of Rs 50 lakh per acre for land falling under municipal limits.

Panchayat members from Nawanshahar, Badala, Khunimajra villages failing under Kharar subdivision attended the meeting.

On the other hand members from Kambala, Kambali, Jagatpura and Saneta villages, falling under Mohali subdivision, demanded a land acquisition price ranging between Rs 32 lakh and Rs 45 lakh.

The meeting was attended by the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, SDMs of both the subdivisions, presidents of the municipal councils and other officials concerned. The MLA recommended that farmers should get higher price for their land.

A report compiled at the meeting would be sent to the government for further action.


Agriculture Director’s selection hailed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab Agriculture Service Engineers Welfare Association has welcomed that for first time a senior technocrat, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu as Director of Agriculture, Punjab.

In a resolution, the association has thanked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for his appointment. Mr Sidhu is M. Tech in agriculture engineering.

The statistical and geological wings of the department have also welcomed the appointment.


BKU (Ekta) activists block traffic
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Activists of the BKU (Ekta), led by its state president, Mr Pishora Singh, today blocked traffic at the Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup chowk here for three hours. Hundreds of farmers also sat on a dharna and raised slogans against the government for its indifferent attitude towards their demands.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Pishora Singh highlighted various demands of the farmers and said the government had always ignored the interests of farmers. He said before the general elections Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, had been advocating their cause, but after the elections he forget all promises made to farmers. He urged the Chief Minister to accept genuine demands of the farmers.

Hundreds of farmers, who have been sitting on fast for the past three months against acquiring of their lands by PUDA, also joined the dharna.


Attack on doctor: 4 cops held, 7 undertrials booked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 30
Dr Bhupinder Singh was injured at the Civil Hospital when seven undertrials who had come for first-aid after an accident, assaulted him and hit a medicine bottle on his head in the presence of police men accompanying them in the OPD room today. The entire staff, including doctors, paramedical staff, nurses and class IV employees, led by Mr Kuldip Rai came out of the hospital and raised slogans against the policemen.

Dr Bhupinder Singh was taken to the emergency ward. later, he told mediapersons that the seven undertrials along with one head constable and four constables from Ludhiana came to him at about 1 pm when he was examining a patient. They asked him to leave the patient and check them first as they had met with an accident. When he told them that he would do so after he had examined the patient, one of them started abusing him. When he resisted this he was beaten up and the furniture and window panes of the room broken. He said he had requested the police personnel to stop this but they refused to do so on the plea that all were hardcore criminals.

On receiving information, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhatti, SP (D) along with Mr Ram Parkash DSP, and a heavy police force reached the hospital and were able to control the situation from getting worse.

Mr Bhatti told the correspondent that Amarjit Singh of Bhagwain, Vijay Kumar of Sundh, Inderjit Singh of Palli Chakki, Chandesh Thakur, Vaneet Kumar and Sunil Kumar, all of Nawab Gunj (UP) and Gurdip Singh of Bheen, all undertrials, along with head constable Surinder Singh, constables Swarn Singh, Nachhatar Singh, Narinder Kumar and Amrik Singh were coming from Ludhiana for appearing in a case in a Hoshiarpur court. Their vehicle met with an accident near Phagwara bypass from where they were taken to the Civil Hospital.

Mr Bhatti said a case against all undertrials had been registered in this regard. A case against all aforesaid police constables and head constable had also been registered for negligence in duty. They had been arrested and would be produced before the Duty Magistrate.


Woman with stag horns held at Attari
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Jaitoon Begum, a Muzaffarnagar district- based woman, has been arrested at the Attari Railway station, in connection with the alleged smuggling of dear antlers to Pakistan. Jaitoon Begum was on her way to Lahore from Delhi on Samjhauta Express, it is learnt.

Mr B.S. Gurum, Assistant Director, Wildlife, Government of India, told The Tribune today that about 5 Kg stag horns had been recovered from her. He said that the woman was presented in Court at Amritsar. She has been sent to judicial custody for 15 days. The Union Government has posted senior wildlife officers at important airports and stations to check the smuggling of wildlife material.

Mr Guram said that it was illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to possess any material regarding protected wild animals such as dear etc. Under the Act, one could be sentenced to imprisonment for three years and fined up to Rs 25,000, he added. It was the second case regarding the smuggling of horns of stag.

Mr Gurum said that custom officials had got suspicious about the goods being carried by the woman to Pakistan. “ They immediately called me, and on search, stag horns were recovered from the possession of the woman”, said Mr Guram.


Two FCI officials held for graft
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau today arrested Food Corporation of India (FCI) Assistant Manager Nirmal Singh and Technical Assistant Shaukat Ali on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs 57,000 from a mill owner of Malerkotla.

Both employees were arrested following a raid at Malerkotla, today afternoon, Vigilance Bureau Senior Superintendent of Police Balkar Singh disclosed. He said while Rs 7,000 had been recovered from the assistant manager, Rs 50,000 had been recovered from the technical assistant.

Mr Balkar Singh said the mill owner — Suresh Kumar was the owner of Guru Nanak Rice Sheller in Malerkotla. He said the sheller owner had alleged that the FCI employees were saying they would allocate foodgrains to his sheller only if he paid a bribe to them. He said following this both of them were arrested while accepting the bribe money by a team led by DSP Jaipal Singh.


Couple booked on charges of cheating
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 30
A Delhi-based couple has been booked by the police on charges of cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal intimidation and conspiracy.

In a complaint lodged with the police, Mr Surjit Singh, a resident of Niamian village, said Rs 24 lakh had been taken from him by Rajvir Singh and his wife Abinash Kaur on the pretext of sending him abroad.

However, they had not fulfilled the promise nor did they return the money. he said the couple lived in Nehru Enclave, New Delhi.

A case has been registered under Sections 406, 420, 506 and 120B of the IPC in this regard. No arrests have been made so far.


VC to be by his son’s side during conference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Punjabi University Vice- Chancellor today took two days leave from for December 2 to be by the side of his son who is set to undergo an operation for multiple fractures on December 2.

While talking to TNS he said he was under no pressure from Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to revoke the suspension of four student leaders to resolve the ongoing student agitation on the campus. “There is no question of their (student leaders) coming back”, he said.

He had taken two days’ said he casual leave to be by his son Vikramjit Boparai’s side when he undergoes three operations for multiple fractures at the PGI in Chandigarh. He said in case there were no post-operative emergencies he would come back to Patiala on December 3 to be able to take part in the concluding function of the World Punjabi Conference which would be attended by Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Ellahi and India Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Vice-Chancellor also denied that he was under any pressure to revoke the suspension of four student leaders from either Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh or Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

He said there was no difference of opinion with Mrs Bhattal who he said was a family friend and with whom he had worked in the past also.

Speaking on the issue of the student agitation, Mr Boparai said there could not be one set of rules for the common student and another for the “dadas”. Some student resorted to ‘goondaism by brutally beating up a hosteler because he had a difference of opinion with them. This cannot be tolerated”, he added.


Boycott awards from VC, say Pbi varsity students body
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 30
The Punjabi University Students Confederation comprising various student bodies today urged the Shiromani Awardees not to accept the honour from the Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University , Mr Swarn Singh Boparai.

In a statement to the press the students ‘appealed’ to the writers to ‘uphold the dignity’ of Punjabi language by refusing to accept the award from the Vice-Chancellor keeping in view his ‘anti-Punjabi’ policies.

The students also organised protest rallies against the suspension of four student leaders at the Khalsa College and the ITI premises in the city today. Addressing the rallies, student leaders including, Student Federation of India`s president Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, Punjab Students Union`s Raminder Singh Patiala stated that the Vice-Chancellor was guilty of diverting from the state government`s stand on promoting the Punjabi language.

They reiterated that their protest against the ‘anti-Punjabi’ policies adopted by the Vice-Chancellor would continue unabated.

Asserting that their demands would have to be met by the university authorities, the leaders said they would not rest till the suspension of four student leaders was not revoked by Mr Boparai. They also stated that the ‘anti-punjabi’ decisions taken by the VC should be withdrawn and Punjabi be restored at the BSc level.

Others who addressed the gathering included Vikramjit Singh Jattana, Gurnam Virk and Sukhjit Chahal.


College teachers block traffic, hold rally
Our Correspondent

Malout, November 30
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today blocked traffic for about half an hour on national highway No. 10 to protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the Punjab Government.

Earlier, the teachers on a call given by the PCCTU also held a rally at local DAV College.

In a press note issued here, Mr B.S. Jassal, assistance president, PCCTU, Muktsar unit, said college teachers of Malout and neighbouring towns of Abohar, Killianwali, Muktsar and Gidderbaha gathered at the local DAV College and took out a protest march through the markets of the town. A rally was also held at the local Gandhi Chowk. Addressing the rally, president, PCCTU, said the apathetic attitude of the state government had compelled them to intensify the struggle.

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