P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Charge sheet against ADGP Virk
Blamed for overstaying in Punjab
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Blaming IPS officer S.S. Virk for “willful disobedience” of orders terminating his inter-cadre deputation, the Central Government has issued a charge sheet against him. Disciplinary proceedings have also been initiated against Mr Virk. His inter-cadre deputation was terminated on April 12. Since then he has reportedly been staying in Punjab without authorisation.

The development is significant as Mr Virk, a 1970-batch Maharastra-cadre officer, was reportedly in fray for the post of Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP). The present incumbent, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, is scheduled to retire upon attaining the age of superannuation on January 31 next year.

The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claim that Mr Virk, posted as Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP), has also been blamed for misconduct and misbehaviour, besides violating the provisions of the All-India Service (D&A) Rules of 1969.

Mr Virk refuses to comment on the issue. The sources in his office, however, deny the allegations. They add that Mr Virk is still in the state because he has not been relieved by the Punjab Government.

The matter is between the state government and the Centre. As far as Mr Virk is concerned, he will comply with the state government’s orders as and when they are issued.

The charge sheet, issued on December 21, says that the President of India intends to hold an inquiry against him under the provisions of the service rules. The sources add that Mr Virk has been asked to either admit or explain his conduct. The same can be done in person or in writing within 10 days of receiving the order’s copy. In case of his absence, ex-parte proceedings will be initiated.

The order adds that no extension was granted to Mr Virk since April 4, 1998, and he has been working in the state of Punjab unauthorisedly thereafter. It further adds that his inter-cadre deputation was finally terminated in April and he was deemed to have been relieved after that.

Mr Virk was earlier asked to explain why disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated against him for “wilfully disobeying the orders” directing him to return to his parent cadre by April 30 this year.

The sources add that a Joint Secretary had even asked ADGP Virk to join the duty in his parent cadre of Maharastra not later than April 30 failing which the Ministry would initiate action against him under service rules.

Taking up the matter on his behalf, the Punjab Government had added that Mr Virk should be allowed to continue. The authorities had further claimed that the Union Home Ministry had sought Mr Virk’s explanation without taking into consideration a letter written by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in this regard. In his letter written sometimes in May, the Chief Minister had also sought extension of Mr Virk’s deputation.

Meanwhile, going into the background of the matter, the sources reveal that ADGP Virk’s inter-cadre transfer to state of Punjab for a year was approved of by the Union Government on February 27, 1996.

He reported for duty in Punjab on April 2, 1996. His deputation was extended till April 1, 1998, on the Punjab Government’s request. Subsequently, the Punjab Government continued to request the Union Government for extending the deputation till the Home Ministry refused to agree.


Human Trafficking-III
Touts, travel agents running flourishing business
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Though the Union External Affairs Ministry had in a recent communication to all state governments urged them to take stern action against touts and agents who had been luring youth by promising them immigration and jobs overseas, little was done by the states.

The ministry had maintained that the problem of the stranded youth was being faced by Indian missions in various countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

The ministry was of the view that a large number of young Indians, especially Punjabis, who try to migrate to Europe or North America by illegal means after paying huge sums of money to touts and agents, land up in jails overseas after being caught by the police or immigration authorities there. The ministry also observed that many of the victims even lost their lives in their undercover operations of sneaking into other countries without proper travel documents.

“Only pro-active steps to address the problem at its source by taking stern action against those agents who were making money by selling miseries to the ambitious and courageous youth was the only solution,” the communication said.

Unmindful of such instructions, which are issued from time to time, these “travel agents and touts” forming a part of the worldwide network, have flourishing businesses. Interaction with some of the victims, now convalescing at Teheran Gurdwara, reveal the names of some of the agents and touts.

They are based not only in Punjab — Nawanshahr, Banga, Phagwara, Amritsar and Jalandhar — but also in the Union Capital, besides having their contacts in Lebanon, Greece, Turkey and other countries. In Punjab and Haryana a number of travel agents and touts had been under police scrutiny but no preventive action was initiated against them.

“In a majority of the cases, when the victims return home, battered and bruised, they turn up at police stations to complain against agents. Till then the victims and their families keep quiet. They become aggressive only when the agents dilly-dally returning their money or just disappear,” remarks a senior police officer.

If one scans through old cases, conviction rate in such cases has been hardly two to three per cent. Generally, the agents get benefit of doubt as they had taken money from the victims or their families in cash leaving no evidence of payment. Convictions are generally for keeping passports of their victims or on charges of forging documents, including visas and passports.

In Punjab the most fertile land for such agents and touts had been the Doaba region. But of late they have spread their tentacles to other districts also. On scanning through the list of victims, one finds youth from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and even Uttaranchal as sufferers.

The most intriguing operations are by agents based in Lebanon and Greece who have their contacts and touts active in the unemployed youth market. These overseas agents get their payments through a complicated but reliable network.

The government, say parents of some of the victims, did not learn a lesson from Malta boat tragedy. And during the past two years, hundreds of Indian youth, especially from Punjab, have returned after undergoing a harrowing time in jails in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

— To be concluded


Nehra panel report to be tabled today
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder said today that an English daily was writing against him knowingly and if it continued to write in that manner, he knew very well how to respond.

He was talking to the media persons after participating in the commemorative function to dedicate Diwan Todar Mal Commemorative Gate to the people on the 300th anniversary of martyrdom of the two younger Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri at Sirhind today.

He said the timings of the appearance of this news report in the daily with regard to the involvement of his son in the Punjab intranet was published on December 28 last year at a time when the dissidents were active on the issue of change in leadership in the state.

The appearance of second report almost coincided with the byelections of Garhshankar and Kapurthala during October this year. “Similarly our main opponents — the Shiromani Akali Dal raised this issue in the Lok Sabha yesterday, when the Winter Session was about to end. The timing obviously raised many doubts in the mind, especially when the case was almost one year old why did they not bother to raise this issue earlier on many occasions in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha,” asked Capt Amarinder Singh.

Answering another query, he said the Justice D.S. Nehra Commission report would be placed before the State Cabinet at its meeting scheduled to be held tomorrow and later on it would be sent to all members of Legislative Assembly as per the provisions of Inquiry of Commissions Act.

He said the copies of the report would also be made available to the media.

He said that on the recommendations of Nehra commission, the final decision whether to register a criminal case or not would be decided only after receiving legal opinion of the Advocate General.

Earlier addressing a religious congregation, Capt Amarinder Singh said that it was matter of great pride and honour for all of us to keep the memories of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Baba Moti Mehra, Nawab of Malerkotala, Sher Mohammad Khan and Diwan Todar Mal alive through the installation of magnificent commemorative gates on this historic occasion.

He said all these four towering and devoted personalities did a great service towards the Sikh Panth thereby upholding the rich moral values in their own humble way under very trying circumstances.

He said that these gates would also act as source of inspiration to imbibe the qualities of self-sacrifice, humility, tolerance, love, harmony and compassion.


Sikhi Sidak March begins from
Takht Damdama Sahib

Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, December 23
Thousands of people belonging to all sections of society participated in Sikhi Sidak march, organised by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) to mark the tercentenary occasion of supreme sacrifices made by four Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, which began from Takht Damdama Sahib here today.

The march led by Panj Piare started after an ardas was performed at Takht Damdama Sahib. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), along with other party leaders and members followed the march in a cavalcade comprising hundreds of vehicles. The march will reach Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow.

Before the march started, hundreds of persons who had come from far off places paid obeisance at the Takht Damdama Sahib and partook langar.

A section of school boys and Nihangs played “gatka” in front of the march.

Though a number of persons, who participated in the march, including Panj Piaras were given “siropas” the same was denied to Mr Mann by the management of Takht Damdama Sahib controlled by the SGPC.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, while addressing a press conference, said he had written a letter to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, not to accept the invitation extended to him by Bibi Jagir Kaur to participate in the function to be organised by the SGPC in connection with the martyrdom tercentenary of sacrifices of the Sahibzadas as she was trying to use him for her personal interests.

He added that the SAD (Amritsar) would announce its plan of struggle to be launched against the French government for banning the Sikhs to wear turbans on December 25.

Mr Mann alleged that the SAD (Badal) and the BJP leadership was responsible for those Sikh youths, who had been languishing in various jails of Pakistan without trials for the past many years.


Badal releases calendar on Sikhism
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal today inaugurated an e-calendar dedicated to 300 years of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh at the committee room of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib. The calendar traces the history of the birth of Khalsa to the martyrdom of four Sahibzadas.

Mr Badal appreciated the efforts of the college for designing the calendar. It was also launched on the college website www.bbsbec.org.

College Principal D.S. Hira said the team of the college had visited many historic places and took photographs for preparing the calendar.

Member secretary of the college trust Kirpal Singh Libra said the college would bring more software on the history and philosophy of Sikhism. He said the college would bear all expenses of the project.

Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, Prof Gurpal Singh, Prof Amritbir Singh, Prof I.P.S. Gill, Prof Rajbahadur Singh were also present on the occasion.


Sikhs from Greece hold langar
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
Sikhs from Greece have set up community kitchen as far as on the eve of the tercentenary of the martyrdom of the younger Sahibzadas at Fatehgarh Sahib. It was inaugurated today by the secretary of the Sant Samaj Baba Hari Singh ji Randhawawale after performing an “ardas”.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Mewa Singh, Kulwant Singh, Ajaib Singh and Bhupinder Singh, all from Greece stated that though they live away from their motherland, they too are imbued with religious fervour and spirit of service enshrined in the Sikh religion. They said as the tercentenary commemoration of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas had been advertised all over the world, so the sangat of Krinidi town in Greece, decided to organise a langar at Fatehgarh Sahib. They said that the sangat collected approximately more than Rs 5 lakh for the purpose and they have come on their own expenses. They said they got visa and tickets on a priority basis and even their employers supported them and granted them leaves for the purpose.

They added that to commemorate the event in Greece more than 15,000 Punjabis settled there would organise religious divans on December 31 and January 1 at Thiva.

Earlier, devotees from Greece visited the dera of Sant Baba Ajit Singh ji Hansaliwale and took his blessings to start the community kitchen.


Holiday in Punjab today

Chandigarh, December 23
The Punjab Government has declared December 24 a holiday to commemorate the 300 years of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas. The holiday has been declared under the Negotiable Instruments Act, according to a government spokesman. — TNS


Single Window Clearance Act in final stages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
The Punjab Government is in the process of finalising the Single Window Clearance Act and the draft would be presented before the Cabinet for approval during the Budget session in February, 2005.

This was stated by Mr S.C Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, at an interactive session on “Resuming Punjab’s Prosperity”, organised by CII, Punjab State Council, in association with the World Bank at Ludhiana today.

The Single Window Clearance Act would be based on the Andhra Pradesh model and would aim to make these clearances more practical, down to earth and result oriented. The approvals would be given within a specific time frame and would have a clause to provide deemed approvals in case the department concerned does not reply within the prescribed timeframe.

On the issue of promoting the housing and real estate sector in Punjab, Mr Aggarwal said PUDA is already proposing to put a system in place wherein the letter of intent would be made available to the investor/developer within 30 days of the filing of formal application. He said the state government was playing the role of a facilitator to improve the investment climate.

Mr Deepak Mishra, senior economist, stressed upon the growing sense of uneasiness about Punjab’s future, the areas of concern being growth slowdown, fiscal distress and deteriorating public services.

In his presentation Mr Vikram K. Chand, senior public sector management specialist of the World Bank, appreciated the government’s drive to reduce corruption in the state, he also suggested further measures to stem corruption through the implementation of access to information and transparency in procurement laws and speedy e-governance system.

During the panel discussion, Mr D.L Sharma, convener, Labour Reforms Panel, CII, Punjab State Council, said the industry and state government would need to work together to improve the employment opportunities.

Implementation of labour laws reforms, focus on knowledge-based industry, skill development, maintenance of infrastructure in the existing industrial estates/focal points are some of the measures to be implemented by the state government to build the confidence of the industry, he added.

Dr G.S Nanda, Director, Research, PAU, emphasised on the need to further develop agri-research in the state so that the farmers get more opportunities to enhance their incomes.

Earlier, S.K Rai, past Chairman, CII, Punjab State Council, stressed on the need to market Punjab as an attractive investment destination.


CM stresses for bio-technology,
vocational education

Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 23
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today stressed the need to go for bio-technology and vocational education to enable the youth to face challenges of the present era of rapid strides in the field of science and technology.

He said the state government was making a comprehensive plan with a view to make Punjab a leading state in the field of bio-technology. An Information Park at a cost of Rs 35,000 crore was being set up at Mohali, which would provide employment opportunities to about one lakh youths in the state.

The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering on the concluding day of the three-day ‘Amardeep Mela’, organised by the Amardeep Singh Shergill Memorial College, Mukandpur, about 20 km from here, to mark the 11th foundation day of the college.

Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state government was taking steps to bring in improvement in the infrastructure in the private rural colleges and a sum of Rs 4 crore had been earmarked for the purpose. The private rural colleges having strength of 700 students would be provided grants up to Rs 25 lakh for infrastructure development. He asked the rural private college managements to start science and vocational courses. He also inaugurated the newly constructed building of the college.

The CM lauded the contribution of Mr Gurcharan Singh Shergill, chairman, Amardeep Singh Shergill Memorial College Trust and members of the trust and Overseas Committee in the field of education. He said that the infrastructure developed at the Amardeep Singh College was on par with the international standards. He asked the college management to start bio-technology classes and assured financial help from the state government for the purpose. The CM also honoured the NRIs who had made contribution towards the development of the college.

The Cheif Minister also released ‘Ranga Di Gagar’, a Punjabi book authored by Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman, State Planning Commission.

Dr S.S. Johl, while-speaking on the occasion lamented the deplorable condition of higher education in the rural areas. While enumerating the various achievements of the Amardeep Singh Shergill Memorial College, Dr Johl said it was the only private rural college, which had been providing education in different streams, to the rural youth, including 50 per cent of girl students belonging to about 200 villages.

Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, MLA, Phillaur, Rana K.P. Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner and Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, Principal, addressed the gathering. The college students presented a colourful cultural programme on the occasion.


Primary school that teaches how to cook
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Bhadel (Hoshiarpur), December 23
Getting a cooked mid-day meal is still a distant dream for the students of Government Primary School of this village, one of the 22 primary schools of this once “most literate” district of Punjab. What is more, the students are not even fortunate enough to get a single regular teacher to teach them.

While the academic future of the students hangs in the balance, the one thing they are learning to do is cook their own meal. The distribution of cooked mid-day meal is once a week affair here and that too when the students themselves take part in the cooking.

Government Primary School of Bhadel presents the collective story of 22 remote or not-so-remote villages of Hoshiarpur district. A majority of them are being run without a teacher while others are being run on some “arranged” basis.

A visit to the school revealed that just like the other 22 primary schools, there was no teacher at the school. The school looked deserted at 1.41 pm and the children playing nearby admitted that they had become habitual of “getting freed” anytime after 9.30 or 10 a.m. as per the whims and fancies of the teacher.

The lone teacher here has been posted at the nearby Thakkarwal village school and he has been holding the additional charge of this school since April this year when the only regular teacher retired.

“He (the teacher) does not teach us and sometimes he leaves for the day at around 10 am and sometimes at 12.30 pm,” said Manpreet Kaur and Gurdeep Singh, students of the school. Their statement was corroborated by village Sarpanch Surinder Kaur and a group of elders.

Mr Shiv Singh and Mr Sodhi Singh said academics were virtually non-existent as the teacher rarely came to the school. “What he can do? He has the charge of two to three schools.”

Gulvinder Singh, a Class III student, adds: “We cook our ‘dalia’ once a week.” Asked as to why the students do the cooking, they retorted, “Who else would do the cooking for them.”

Mr Shiv Sinvh and Ms Surinder Kaur alleged that the school remained closed if the teacher had to attend some official meetings at Mahilpur. “There is no system to check on anything. How can a single teacher teach five classes and that too within an average time of one to three hours.”

Official sources maintained that the 22 primary schools, including Kahiwal and Lit villages (Bhunga), Bhadel (Mahilpur), Jugial (Talwara) and Veh Kusel (Talwara), were running without regular teachers. At some schools, like at Bhadel, the teachers were “arranged” from nearby schools for teaching students for a few hours. About 303 primary schools out of the total 1263 were running with a single teacher, they added.

Education Department official sources, however, said the number of teacherless schools could well touch the figure of 40 in Hoshiarpur. “We have not closed those schools and have made arrangement of teachers from here and there,” said an official.

The ambitious mid-day meal scheme too was practically non-existent at these schools for lack of manpower and resources coupled with lack of will among teachers to cook food.

Under the modified scheme, 100 gm of wheat is being supplied to each student by the FCI and the Punjab Government has also chipped in the scheme by providing Re 1 per student to provide them cooked meal.


Punjab declares 7-day mourning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
The Punjab Government has declared seven-day state mourning following the death of India’s former Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao. No official functions will be held during the period. A meeting of Council of Ministers has also been convened on Friday to condole the death.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, also expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise. In a condolence message, Capt Amarinder Singh said the former Prime Minister was a great statesman and seasoned parliamentarian. India made rapid strides in the fields of telecommunication, science and technology, besides industry during his stint.

Member of Parliament from Patiala Preneet Kaur also mourned the death of the former Prime Minister, along with Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. The other ministers who expressed heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family included Jagjit Singh, Lal Singh, Partap Singh Bajwa, Surinder Singla, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Ramesh Chander Dogra, Avtar Henry and Amarjit Samra.

Ministers Sardool Singh, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Harnam Dass Johar, Gurkanwal Kaur, Rakesh Pandey and Hans Raj Jossan also expressed grief. Parliamentary Secretaries Sunil Kumar Jakhar and Rana K.P., too, condoled the death.


Rodrigues mourns Rao’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
General S.F. Rodrigues (retd), the Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh, has expressed profound grief and sorrow over the demise of P.V. Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister of India.

In a condolence message, General Rodrigues said that Mr Rao was a true patriot, a great statesman and an able administrator who led the nation successfully.

General Rodrigues said Mr Rao’s achievements were illustrious and many-sided and his contribution to our national life is varied and laudable.

The country progressed in all directions under his stewardship and his liberalisation initiatives won laurels for India at the global level. The country has lost an efficient leader and a visionary par excellence, the Governor added.


CM committed constitutional improprieties: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Shiromani Akal Dal president, Parkash Singh Badal today dismissed as “total hogwash and utterly irrelevant’’ the so-called inquiry report of the Nehra commission in the infamous multi-crore Internet money laundering scam involving, among others, the son of the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Badal wanted to know from where did Rs 15 crore still lying in the account of Mr Leonard A. Freeke came from. Why has the commission not gone into this aspect despite Mr Freeke himself confirming it?

Mr Badal also accused the Chief Minister of committing serious constitutional improprieties.

Mr Badal further said that the setting up of the Nehra commission was itself a flawed and prejudiced act, meant only to mislead public opinion on the massive corruption involved in the international money laundering scam.

Posing pointed questions at the commission, Mr Badal asked, ‘‘The main accused in the case were the Chief Minister, officers of the Chief Minister’s office, the CM’s son, Raninder Singh and Leonard A Freeke. Has the commission summoned any one of these for their version? What was the compulsion because of which the commission refused to observe the customary formality of summoning official records in the matter?”

Mr Badal said that the CM had committed grave constitutional impropriety by releasing the report in a brazenly politicised manner. ‘‘How could the findings of a report of a commission constituted by the state government be released to the press even before the Council of Ministers had seen it. The report also needed to be submitted to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for consideration before the officers of the CMO could treat it as a personal document meant for the CM’s political PR,’’ he added.


Shovel fails to find owner despite
Rs 1 cr spent on its repair
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 23
It is the way things work in the government departments. A CT-4 150 B Buoyrus Erie electric shovel that has worked for almost two decades in the construction of the Ranjit Sagar Dam has got no owner. This, despite the fact, that more than Rs 1 crore has been spent on the repairs of the machine against its cost of Rs 7,71,221.

Recently, an executive engineer posted at the Ranjit Sagar Dam has spent Rs 30 lakh on the repairs of the said machine. However, the government has failed to locate its owner when it decided to dispose it off.

The sources said that the Punjab Irrigation Department procured the machine from the Beas-Sutlej Link Project (BSL) in 1978. At that time its cost was evaluated at Rs 7,71,221. During the construction of the Ranjit Sagar dam, the machine worked efficiently digging earth, sand and gravel from the Salari Khad. During its more than 20-year service to the Dam, the officials here spent more Rs 1 crore on its repairs.

However, nobody was in charge of the machine. It was surprising that the work orders totalling more than Rs 1 crore were placed for the repairs of the machine while in papers nobody owned the machine. If an inquiry into the repairs, carried on the machine was carried out many startling facts were likely to come.

The machine was still lying in the Salari Khad as the villagers did not allow the department to shift the machine demanding payment for the mineral taken out from their Khad.

The authorities of the Ranjit Sagar Dam are exchanging correspondence to know the status of the machine. As per the documents available with The Tribune, Chief Engineer of the Ranjit Sagar Dam has written to the concerned officer that the machine should be taken to the disposal division of the dam and Form-A should be prepared for its disposal.

However, the concerned officer was finding it hard to act on the said direction, as for the disposal of the machine he should possess the record of procurement and ownership of the machine.


Ammunition found near Pathankot
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 23
The Gurdaspur police has seized two empty magazines of the AK-47 rifle and 44 live cartridges near the Khath bridge in Pathankot town. Village boy, who informed the police, allegedly first noticed the ammunition.

The SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, when contacted, said the ammunition seemed to have been dumped in the area about five to seven months ago. Further investigation into the matter was still on.

The recovery of ammunition just near Pathankot town has once again indicated a security threat in the area. Just a few months ago, the police had arrested two ISI agents and three Punjab terrorists along with a large cache of arms and ammunition, including about 15 kg of RDX.

The sources in the police said that Pathankot town was the gateway to smuggling of arms and narcotics to other parts of the country. The arms and narcotics were first allegedly smuggled from the unfenced Punjab or Jammu and Kashmir border and further smuggled to other parts of the country through trucks and illegally operating busses.

In the recent past, the Gurdaspur police managed to confiscate large quantities of narcotics from the trucks passing through the area, besides the said arms and ammunition cache.


Shiv Sena (H) to gherao PM’s residence
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 23
About 10,000 activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan), led by its national president, Mr Pawan Gupta, would gherao the PM’s residence on January 10 next in protest against the shaby treatment being meted out to Kanchi seer Shankaracharaya Swami Jayendra Saraswati in jail and his unwarranted arrest.

This was disclosed after a meeting here today by Mr Ajay Mehta, district president, Shiv Sena(H). The meeting demanded handing over of the entire case to the CBI and dismissal of the Tamil Nadu Government for causing affront to Hindu samaj with the arbitrary and atrocious arrest of the seer. It criticised the Congress-led UPA government for being party to the disregard being shown to the seer who occupied a high place in Hindu samaj.

Shiv sainiks from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh would take part in the gherao, added Mr Mehta.


Air Chief visits Adampur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 23
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, visited the Air Force Station at Adampur today.

Recalling his fond memories of the station when he was posted there in the sixties, he said that Adampur was one of the premier bases of the Indian Air Force. He said that effort should be made to train youngsters and make them worthy of being selected for many qualified fields like Ustad and Garud Force. The Air Chief Marshal said that the IAF had also started training personnel of foreign air bases.


Dowry Prohibition Board set up

Moga, December 23
To check the menace of dowry , a district-level Dowry Prohibition Board has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh.

According to a press release issued here yesterday, other members of the board included the SSP, Ms V Neerja, District Social Security Officer S.K. Bansal, Satish Garg, Mrs Indu Puri, Mrs Nirmal Dhir and Devinder Singh Khosa. After the meeting the Deputy Commissioner said that the District Programme Officer, Mr Ashok Sharma, had been designated as Dowry Prohibition Officer. — TNS


Court comes to PSEB’s rescue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was today successful in getting an injunction from a local court restraining members of the Mritak Mulazim Ashrit Sangharsh Committee from holding demonstrations or any other form of protest within a 300-metre radius of its headquarters building here.

The court has also restrained the agitating committee members from obstructing the entry of employees and officers of the PSEB into the head office here. A notice has been issued to the defendants for January 3 in the case.

Meanwhile, board Industrial Relations Director M.P. Pandove said the board had approached the court to obtain the order as members of the agitating committee were trying to hamper the functioning of the board by repeatedly holding protests at the entrance of the main gate of the board. He said though the PSEB had withdrawn the policy whereby dependants of deceased employees were recruited on compassionate grounds, it had provided for a lump-sum compensation to the dependants, besides ensuring that they would continue to get the last drawn salary of the deceased till his projected retirement and pension thereafter.


Baby killer remanded

Phagwara, December 23
Serial baby killer Darbara Singh was secured on production warrants by the Phagwara police and presented in the court of the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mr Rajiv Beri, last evening. — OC


Distress sale of cotton in North India
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 23
Cotton growers of northern region comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan continue to make distressed sale of cotton due to low prices. The cotton prices have failed to pick up in the region. The cotton prices range from Rs 1680 to Rs 1815 per quintal of narma varieties (American cotton). The cotton growers are left with no alternative except to bring their produce to the markets. The prices of cotton are lower because of the bumper cotton crop in the country and prevalence of low prices all over the country. Even the prices of cotton in the international market are lower this year as compared to those of last year.

Enquiries made by the The Tribune show that the entry of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) in the markets has not helped in stabilising the prices. The daily arrivals of cotton in the mandis of three states are in the order of 30,000 bales and the mandis have received eight lakh bales, while Haryana mandis 7.5 lakh bales and Rajasthan (Ganganagar circle) 2.5 lakh bales respectively.

Cotton Corporation of India is buying between 8000 to 10,000 bales daily in the region. Punjab Markfed has not shown much interest in buying cotton this year.

According to trade sources, Punjab mandis are receiving 12,000 bales daily with Abohar mandi receiving 1500 to 1800 bales. The prices of cotton in Abohar are mentioned at Rs 1680 to 1730 per quintal. Muktsar is another important mandi which is getting 1000 to 12,00 bales the prices being Rs 1750 to Rs 1815 per quintal. The prices in the mandis of the three states are lower by Rs 800 per quintal compared with the prices of last year. The prices in the mandis of Haryana are from Rs 1730 to Rs 1815 per quintal.

Textile trade sources estimate that the overall production of cotton in the country will be around 210 lakh bales this year against 175 lakh bales last year. This has resulted in the crash of prices in the country. The prices of cotton in Maharashtra range between Rs 1800 to Rs 2300 per quintal. Trade sources maintain that quality of cotton in Maharashtra and Gujarat states is better and the minimum support price is also higher. The MSP in Maharashtra is Rs 1960 to Rs 2040 per quintal while in Punjab it is Rs 1815 per quintal. The markets in the country have received between 70 lakh to 75 lakh bales so far. The Maharashtra State Cooperative Federation is making 80 per cent purchase while in Gujarat the prices range from Rs 1700 to Rs 2000 per quintal.

No export of cotton is taking place from India nor is there scope for any import this year. Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, general secretary, of the Bharti Kisan Union, alleged that the Cotton Corporation of India was purchasing cotton (bt cotton and other narma varieties) at the rate of Rs 1815 per quintal whereas the MSP was Rs 1970 per quintal.

They demanded that the Punjab Government should take up this matter with the Union Government.

Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman, National Textile Committee of the CII, has pressed upon the Union Government that a cotton reserve should be created of 1.5-2 million cotton bales. This reserve would help in tiding over the shortage which cannot be ruled out due to vagaries of weather. Based on current prices, total investment for creating strategic reserve would be less than Rs 1500 crore and carrying cost for even full year would not be more than Rs 150 crore.


Kang opens fish seed farm
Tribune News Service

Katli (Ropar), December 23
The Minister of Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, today inaugurated a fish seed farm for ornamental fish at Kalti village.

The project has been launched to generate employment for youths so that they could set up their own fish-breeding units in private sectors. Under the project about 100 fish breeders of different ornamental fish have been procured and breeding of fish will be taken up from February and March next year. The seed of these fish will be reared and supplied to those interested at reasonable price.

Mr Kang said, “there was a shortage of ornamental fish in the region. The demand for the tropical ornamental fish was being met through imports mainly from Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai because these cities have emerged as major breeding centres due to ideal climate conditions,” he added.

Mr Kang said the demand for good quality ornamental fish is increasing day by day and the fish traders have been charging heavy amount. This had led to the rearing ornamental fish within the state.

With a view to imparting training to employees of the Fisheries Department for fish productions, he said the department had planned to send more officers to the CIFA, Bhubaneswar and West Bengal, to cope up with the rapid development of technology in ornamental fish breeding and also to popularise it on commercial basis. Besides this, a demonstration unit would also be set up at the farm where practical training shall be imparted in batches to aspirants of the trade.


Sanaur Nagar Council chief, deputy resign
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
The Sanaur Nagar Council, near here, today saw its president and vice-president bowing down to the pressure from other councillors to quit their seats. Both president Surjit Singh and vice-president Kuldeep Singh Kala submitted their resignations to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, who has forwarded the same to the Director, Local Bodies.

The Sanaur Nagar Council had been unable to pass any agenda in its meetings since past one year due to bitter factionalism. This period has also seen the president of the Council — Surjit Singh being unable to hold his own in the council. This despite the fact that all thirteen members of the council are Congressmen.

Sources said the latest development had occurred after the Food and Civil Supplies Minister Lal Singh gave the go ahead. They said the minister had been trying to resolve the crisis in the council for quite some time but had to give in to the demand of the dissidents who were not willing to allow Mr Surjit Singh to continue in office.

Nearly two years ago, when the council came into being, Mr Surjit Singh and Mr Naresh Goyal were the aspirants for the presidentship. During the past one year or so, Mr Goyal has been able to win over most of the councillors to his side.

Mr Goyal, who is tipped to take over the post, said the council would immediately set about passing the development works and various other welfare schemes which had not been implemented for some time now.


Ban on use of polythene bags
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 23
Taking a serious note of the environmental hazards being created by use of various plastic items, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, today imposed a blanket ban on the manufacture and use of polythene bags in the district.

In an order issued, Mr Sinha said plastic bags which were made of virgin plastic and recycled plastic having thickness of less than 20 microns would not be allowed in the district henceforth.

The use of carry bags made of recycled plastic for storing, carrying, dispensing of packing of food stuffs has also been banned.

Shopkeepers will not sell polythene bags having thickness less than 20 microns and all wholesale dealers will have to get their firms registered with the Pollution Control Board within 10 days.


Couple disappear under mysterious circumstances
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 23
The Punjab police has joined the Haryana and Rajasthan police in the search of a newly-wed couple, who has disappeared mysteriously after filing a petition for protection in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to information, Ami Chand Bishnoi, resident of Dabwali, had lodged a complaint on October 29 at the local police station alleging that Maan Singh, resident of Abubshehar, had kidnapped his daughter Vijay Luxmi. The FIR had been registered u/s 363, 366, 368 of the IPC.

As the police initiated the proceedings to locate them, the young couple filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court claiming that they had got their marriage registered in a civil court as per law. As they expressed apprehension that their parents might harm them physically or go to the extent of separating them forcibly, the couple requested for security.

Sources said the court directed the SSP, Hisar, to ensure protection of the newly weds and produce them before the court. They were, however, not traceable since then.

The SSP had sought help of the Rajasthan and the Punjab police indicating that the couple might have taken shelter in the Bishnoi dominated areas of Abohar or Sriganganagar district.

The city police, on a tip-off, raided a house here late last evening but could not find the couple there. All police stations and the posts in this sub-division had been altered to look for the couple.


PSEB accountant held for graft
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 23
A Vigilance team has caught a revenue accountant of the Punjab State Electricity Board posted at Mudki while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 500 for transferring a power connection.

According to sources, the complainant, Nirmal Singh of Fidde village, had given his land on contract to Rachhpal Singh who had taken a temporary power connection in 1996.

Nirmal Singh had recently shifted back to his village and wanted to get the power connection transferred in his name. He had filed an application for the same at the electricity board’s Mudki office, but the revenue accountant, Darbara Singh, demanded Rs 500 from him for the job.

Nirmal Singh then approached the Vigilance Bureau with his complaint, following which a team led by Vigilance DSP Surjeet Singh Khosa, laid a trap and caught the revenue accountant while accepting bribe.

A case has been registered against Darbara Singh under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Girl alleges rape by landowner’s son
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 23
A teenaged girl, who was married recently, alleged that the son of a landowner had raped her on Saturday.

According to a report lodged at the Khuikhera police station near here, 18-year-old girl said that a landowner of Khippanwali village had engaged her husband for farming on annual contract for Rs 28,000. As she was picking cotton on Saturday afternoon the son of the landowner raped her despite strong protest. Her husband, working in other fields, rushed to her rescue on hearing her cries but the miscreant had run away by then.

The police said an FIR had been registered.

In another incident Kirpa Ram of Begawali village alleged that a sarpanch intercepted him on his way and allegedly tried to strangle him to death using a rope. He, however, escaped.

The complainant is now under treatment at Civil Hospital. The sarpanch described the allegations as baseless. The police was investigating.


Bank manager held on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau has arrested a Manager of Primary Cooperative Development Bank, Patran, while accepting a bribe of Rs 2,500 from a farmer who wanted to loan from the bank to buy buffaloes.

A Vigilance team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Gursharan Singh Bedi arrested Manager Balkar Singh Dhindsa yesterday. The bribe money has been recovered from him and a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act registered at the Vigilance Bureau here.

According to Vigilance sources, farmer Kuljinder Singh, who belongs to Sangra, near Patran, had applied for a loan of Rs 1.40 lakh to buy buffaloes to start a dairy business. Kuljinder Singh, in his complaint to the Vigilance Department, said in June this year he got the first instalment of the loan amounting to Rs 84,000 from the bank. He alleged that when he was to be handed over a cheque for the remaining amount of Rs 2,500, the bank Manager asked him for a bribe. The Manager said he would sign the second cheque only when he was handed over “his commission”.

The complainant said the issue was finally settled when he agreed to pay a bribe of Rs 2,500 to the Manager. He said he then consulted the Patiala Vigilance Bureau, and its Senior Superintendent of Police B.S. Sidhu deputed DSP G Gursharan Singh Bedi to probe the case. consequently a raid was conducted when the complainant was handing over the chemically tainted notes to the Manager.


125 bottles of liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 23
As many as 125 bottles of liquor, which were being smuggled from Chandigarh to Punjab, were seized at a police naka here today.

According to the police, a naka was laid near the quila complex. A car coming from the Chandigarh side was signalled to stop. The driver of the car, however, made an effort to flee, but his vehicle hit a small bridge on the road and got overturned. He, however, managed to escape.

The police seized the liquor from the car and registered a case under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act.


50-year-old-man commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
A 50-year-old resident of Lahori Gate, Harbhajan Singh today allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself with a turban at his residence.

Sources said the man was undergoing mental tension due to an ongoing family dispute. However, some of his family members have alleged that Harbhajan Singh may have been murdered. The police is investigating the case.


Woman killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 23
A woman was killed in an accident near Desumajra village when she was hit by a Tata Sumo.

The woman Bachan Kaur, died on the spot. The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304 of the IPC in this regard. No arrest has been made so far.


New turn to GND varsity tussle
G.S. Kang to be Head of Physiotherapy Dept
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Even as Guru Nanak Dev University has decided in principle to elevate Dr G.S. Kang, Reader, as Head of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy Department from January 1, Mr Anand Kumar V, ad hoc lecturer, has resigned in ‘protest’.

However, the university authorities claim that Mr Anand had pre-empted the move of university which was in the process of relieving him for allegedly going against the interest of the university. Mr Anand denied that he was one of the petitioners who had moved the Supreme Court against the elevation of Dr Kang.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has dismissed the petition of the students who had challenged the appointment of Dr Kang. Registrar of the university, Dr R.S. Bawa, confirmed the dismissal of the petition.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said as per the statutes of the university, headship could not be denied to Dr Kang.

There is three-year rotation for the headship and hence it was the turn of Dr Kang to take over as next head of the department.

However, in his ‘protest resignation’ sent to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Anand has stated: “The students are facing with difficulty the alleged callous and inconsiderate attitude of the university authorities. The university authorities are bent on foisting on the students an unqualified head of department, who is from arts background and who will ruin their career.

“If this person from arts background takes over as head of department , the students would lose their accreditation by the Indian Association of Physiotherapists, which is the only academic body of professionals controlling the Physiotherapy Association in India.”

Though Mr Anand, in his resignation has alleged that Dr Kang had threatened the agitating students with ‘shoe-beating’, the latter has denied it.

While Dr Jaspal Singh, who is likely to be relieved as Head of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy after December 31, has forwarded the ‘protest resignation’ of Mr Anand to the Deputy Registrar, the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association has submitted a request to the Vice-Chancellor to relieve him (Mr Anand) immediately for his ‘anti-university’ approach.

The Vice-Chancellor said Mr Anand could be relieved any time.


Withdrawal of pension scheme decried
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 23
The Private Aided School Association at its annual meeting here last evening criticised the Punjab Government for withdrawing the pension scheme with effect from May, 2003.

The meeting recalled that late Beant Singh had introduced the scheme as Chief Minister but the present incumbent had not only withdrawn the scheme but also backtracked on all other promises made to the teaching community during the last Assembly elections.

The association warned that no government that adopted anti-employee policies had ever survived. The teachers posted in the government-aided schools be treated at par with government teachers in letter and in spirit as they had established their excellent performance in academic results, besides cocurricular competitions.

The meeting elected Ms Rajwinder Kaur as president, Ms Kanchan Arya senior vice-president, Ms Asha Vij vice-president, Mr Bal Kishan Gupta and Ms Raj Karni secretaries, Ms Saroj Rani joint secretary and Ms Sunita Rani as cashier of the local unit.


ETT teachers to hold dharna on Dec 30
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 23
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union have decided to hold a dharna on December 30, at the district headquarters to lodge their protest against the non-regular appointment of about 6000 ETT teachers by the state government.

In a press release here yesterday, Mr Jagsir Singh Sahota, senior vice-president, Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, said the Punjab Government had promised to start the recruitment process of ETT teachers by October 18, but the same had not been done so far.

Sahota said that more than 28,000 posts had been lying vacant in government-run schools and instead of focusing on the recruitment of teachers, government had been busy in appointing committees to deal with the same.

Mr Sahota added that even after the acceptance of their demands by the government, the teachers had still been waiting for regular appointment. The union would continue its struggle for the implementation of the demands.


5 college students in merit list
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 23
Five students from a local college were placed in the merit list of the Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. Examinations for different engineering courses held by the university in May this year.

Among the first 10 positions declared by the university, these five students secured fourth, sixth, seventh and 10th positions in the merit list. All five students are from the GGS College of Modern Technology.

Mr Kulwant Singh, Principal, said Vir Varinder, a student of Electronics and Communication, secured the fourth position by getting 86 per cent marks. Another electronics student, Harvinder Singh Saini, got the sixth position. Vishal Dhiman of Mechanical Engineering was also placed fourth in the merit list. He had got 85 per cent marks. Nitin Dogra and Maninder Pal Singh, also from Mechanical Engineering, secured the seventh and 10th ranks by getting 84 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively.

The Principal said the foundation running the college had granted 50 per cent concession in the fee for the year to Vir Varinder. Other students who were placed in the merit list would also be rewarded.


Inter-faith dialogue marks X’mas celebrations
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 23
Singing of Christmas carols, presence of Santa Claus, exchange of Christmas and New Year greetings and discourses on the salient features of Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism marked the ‘inter-faith dialogue’ organised by the Rotary Club, Patiala, at a hotel here yesterday.

Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean, Academic Affairs, Punjabi University, was the chief guest. He said religion brought about discipline in society without which life would be chaotic. He said religion had provided answers to vital question as regards life and death. However, he said religious fanaticism and intolerance had led to a lot of violence and bloodshed in the world. The need of the hour, he said, was to promote national integration through proper understanding of various faiths.

Rev Wilson Shah, pastor of the Methodist Church, and Rotarian D.S. Sodhi spoke on “Fellowship of Jesus” and Guru Nanak’s philosophy and the Golden Temple, respectively.

Prof S.C. Sharma, president of the club, underlined the need for initiating inter-faith dialogue at a largerscale to build bridges of goodwill and promote understanding among various communities Brig G.S. Sekhon, Col Randhir Singh, Dr S.P. Pandov, Dr Ashok Gupta, Mr H.S. Arora and Mr Manmeet Singh also took part in the discussion. Ajay Seth extended a vote of thanks on behalf of the club.

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