P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ex-PSEB Chief Engineer, wife held in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Mr Harjinder Singh Khurana, a retired Chief Engineer of Punjab State Electricity Board, and his wife Satwant Kaur were today arrested by the district police for allegedly killing their daughter-in-law Harneet Kaur (24) for more dowry.

The police has already arrested Mr Kanwarpreet Singh, husband of the deceased, in the case registered under Section 304-B, 34 IPC at the civil lines police station here. Harneet was married to Kanwarpreet only one year back. The body of the deceased has been cremated.

Dr Jaspal Singh, father of the girl, also alleged the involvement of Mr Gurpreet Singh, brother-in-law of the girl who returned from the USA.

Dr Jaspal Singh, a resident of Shimla and father of the girl, talking to this correspondent alleged that he got a call from the family at about 3 am yesterday that Harneet had fallen unconscious. A little later, he again got a call informing him that his daughter had expired, alleged Dr Jaspal. He claimed that Mr Gurpreet Singh, who had returned from the USA was absconding after the incident.

Mr Punit Pal Singh, brother of the girl alleged that since her marriage with Kanwarpreet, she was subjected to mental and physical torture for bringing insufficient dowry. He added that Harneet was an architect and a strong girl. He alleged that before her death, she was subjected to physical torture as evident from impressions on her body. He alleged that she was beaten up by family members.

Police sources claimed that there were signs of strangulation on the body of the deceased. However, the exact cause of death could only be ascertained after post-mortem reports. A case has been registered and further investigations are in progress.

Dr Jaspal Singh said although the police was doing its work, the case could be hushed up as the accused were politically well connected.

Shimla (TNS): The family of Harneet Kaur, who died under mysterious circumstances at her in-laws house in Amritsar, will be filing a case before the State Commission for Women, seeking justice.

Harneet’s body was brought here by her family, and was cremated in the presence of relatives and friends.

A family friend, Mr Anand Suri, said the family was considering filing a complaint before the State Commission for Women, as the family suspected that she was allegedly killed for dowry. He said even when Harneet was here in town to attend the wedding and reception of her brother Puneet, she looked tense and upset.

The family members alleged that Harneet’s in-laws used to demand dowry and their demand was increasing day by day. They admitted that for the sake of happiness of their daughter they gave a lot but ultimately their daughter was killed.


Amritsar medical college faces derecognition
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Can the state government afford the derecognition of the oldest medical college of Punjab to save recognition of another college? This is true in case of Government Medical College Amritsar which was established in 1928.

Many important departments of this medical college have been rendered headless as the government had not transferred back senior professors from Faridkot. As many as 23 doctors were transferred from Amritsar to GGS Medical College Faridkot, leading to a shortage of faculty in the local college. Now, it is the turn of the medical college to face MCI inspection with other medical colleges of the state.

Some of the important units of the medical college which don’t have a head include cardiothoracicsurgery, two units each of surgery and medicine and two out of the three units of gynaecology. The worst-hit departments are anaesthesia, without which no surgery could be imagined. The posts of three professors in the anaesthesia Department are vacant while all four posts of Associate Professors are lying vacant. Only five Assistant Professor of this unit are running the department. Interestingly, while the Department of Cardic thoracic is facing closure, Dr Kuldip Singh Sidhu, head of the department, was shifted to Patiala Medical College where this department does not exist.

As many as 150 post graduate students and about 750 students of MBBS are at a loss due to the transfer of their teachers. There are only five post-graduate students in Faridkot Medical College.

In a communication to the Deputy Chief Minister who holds the portfolio of Medical Education and Research, Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, general secretary of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA), has pointed out that even after the transfer and promotion of 53 doctors, the vacancy at the Amritsar medical college was 30 per cent while it was 29 per cent at Patiala Medical College. The balance of posting and rationalisation was against the medical college (Amritsar) which was a super speciality hospital and a PG institution. If the situation persisted and surplus doctors were not shifted from Faridkot to Amritsar, the medical college would be derecognised.

At least 11 medical teachers in the medical college are surplus and could be transferred to Amritsar.

While one of the Senior Professors had submitted his resignation following his transfer to Faridkot, more may follow suit.

It is difficult to run round the clock emergency in the 900-bedded hospital attached to the medical college.

Also there is no regular Director Research and Medical Education (DRME) for the past about four years. The officiating DRME, Dr JS Dalal, is holding five posts, including that of Principal, Medical College Amritsar, Director, Punjab Medical Institute Jalandhar, Professor and Head, Forensic Medicine (Amritsar), and adviser to the Punjab Government for medico-legal cases. 


Majha-Malwa factor in Taksal split
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 5
The split in the Damdami Taksal is a significant event in Sikh history. Damdami Taksal traces its origin to the 18th century. Baba Deep Singh, a well known martyr in Sikh history, was the founder of the Taksal. The Taksal functionaries have been roaming preachers and exponents of Guru Granth Sahib. It is not for the first time that the Taksal has split. It was after the death of Sant Sunder Singh that the Taksal split when Bhai Mohan Singh was acknowledged as his successor. People from Majha did not recognise him. At that time the Akalis were in power and they accepted Bhai Mohan Singh as head of the Taksal and even gave him a siropa on behalf of the SGPC and the government.

The breakaway faction was led by Sant Kartar Singh who belonged to Majha and he established the new headquarters at Chowk Mehta called Gurdwara Gurdarshan Prakash. He was a very vigorous preacher of Sikhism and he attracted a huge followings. He was active during the Emergency also and was a fearless speaker. He was the spirit behind the tercentenary function organised to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur. He died in an accident near Ludhiana and was succeeded by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Bhai Mohan Singh continues to have his headquarters at Bhinder Kalan near Moga.

As a matter of fact, the present split is like any other split in the Shiromani Akali Dal. The origin of the split can be traced to the appointment of Sant Jarnail Singh as chief of the Taksal after the death of Sant Kartar Singh. The family of Sant Kartar Singh and the vibrant Majha Sikhs wanted Bhai Amrik Singh to succeed his father, Sant Kartar Singh. Having failed at that the Majha faction was successful in overshadowing Sant Jarnail Singh as Bhai Amrik Singh became the chief Lieutenant of Sant Jarnail Singh. The centre of activities during militancy remained in the Majha belt. Bhai Amrik Singh was killed during Operation Blue Star in the premises of Harmandir Sahib along with Sant Jarnail Singh and others.

After the death of Baba Thakur Singh, the faction claiming the legacy of Sant Kartar Singh became active and the group has installed Bhai Ram Singh as head of the Damdami Taksal. Bhai Ram Singh was appointed a granthi at Harmandir Sahib by the SGPC on recommendations of Sant Jarnail Singh and Bhai Amrit Singh. The SGPC found him overbearing in his attitude and he was later transferred.

Since Bhai Ram Singh knows the Akali hierarchy and the SGPC set-up, he could manage to get recognition from established Sikh institutions. This fact has rallied all other factions opposed to the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal behind the Damdami Taksal now led by Bhai Harnam Singh Dhumma.

It will not be fair to brand either groups as hardcore or moderate. As a matter of fact, this has turned out to be a factional fight within the Taksal. The feuds have existed in the Taksal for the past 30 years. Before the factions have politics-oriented supporters.


Mandi board fails to act against DMO despite CM’s order
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 5
The Punjab Mandi Board, has allegedly failed to initiate any disciplinary action against a District Mandi Officer (DMO), despite being directed by the office of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to do so. The said DMO has been ‘indicted’ in probes, conducted separately by the Punjab Mandi Board authorities and the Director, Colonisation, Punjab.

The DMO Amritsar, Mr Rajinderpal Singh Sandhu, had allegedly ‘illegally’ allotted 100 plots and also some area reserved for vegetable and other shops to ‘phariwalas’ in the New Vegetable Market at Vallah in Amritsar. The land in question, according to the Punjab Colonisation Department, was worth around Rs 3.60 crore.

Sources in the Punjab Mandi Board said that the land in question, in fact, belonged to the Colonisation Department which has not allotted it to the ‘phariwalas’. Rather the ‘phariwalas’ have been shifted there temporarily by the board authorities so as to facilitate smooth shifting of the old vegetable market.

On the other hand, the Director, Colonisation, in its report, said that the costly parking land and auction pavements, adjoining plots, earmarked by the Colonisation Department for setting up of 36 shops, had been handed out to the ‘phariwalas’ by the Amritsar District Mandi Office authorities some of ‘phariwalas’ had even started operating after erecting structures for their pharis at the place.

The report further said that area allotted to 73 commission agents near shed nos. 5 and 6 for auction purpose had been divided by permanent partition of bricks, which, had ‘totally finished’ the real objective of an auction platform. The report further revealed that the DMO had given the land to beneficiaries on his own accord and this could affect the future planning of the new vegetable market.

Similarly, in his fact finding report, Mr Jagtar Singh Sanghera, Deputy General Manager (Marketing), Punjab Mandi Board, established that the DMO had done unauthorised allotments while ‘misusing’ his position which was not authorised to do so. His report mentioned that 500 plots were allotted illegally to ‘phariwalas’ at places reserved for 18 vegetable shops and 73 others on portions of auction platform no. 5 and 6. Besides this a PCO was also functioning in a ‘strong’ structure built unauthorisedly with the ‘connivance’ of the DMO. The enquiry report further clarified that the DMO was not empowered to make any type of verbal, temporary or permanent allotments.

Though Mr K.K. Sachdeva had written to the Financial Commissioner (Development) on October 27, 2004 that the September 29, 2004 report of the Director, Colonisation Department had made it clear that the DMO, Amritsar, Mr Rajinder Pal Singh Sandhu, had ‘done unauthorised allotment of plots in Sabzi Mandi, Vallah, and hence the CM desired necessary disciplinary action may be initiated against the ‘defaulting officer’, but, nothing had been done so far.

When contacted, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Secretary, said that the land in question belonged to the Colonisation Department and no permanent allotment had been made to anybody by the Punjab Mandi Board authorities or by the DMO. “It is a temporary settlement of people as we wanted to expedite shifting to the old vegetable market. It is not a allotment. Moreover, we are going to write to the Colonisation Department to formulate a policy about such matters and the land would be restored to the Colonisation Department. We are waiting for the report of our two officers Mr H.S. Sidhu and Mr. Jagtar Singh Sanghera, who have been asked to probe the matter. Any further action would be taken after we get the report,” said Mr Parsad.


Killer roads-3
Liquor vends all along highways
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Concerted media campaigns and directions of the apex court as well as the Punjab and Haryana High Court notwithstanding, national and state highways in Punjab continue to be dotted with liquor vends and ahatas.

The only change witnessed during the past one year has been pushing these vends back from the edge of the highways . Still hundreds of these vends are less than 30 metres from the edge of the highways.

Neither the highway patrol nor any district police tabulates the data to find out how many of the victims of fatal road accidents were under the influence of liquor or were killed by vehicles whose drivers were intoxicated.

A senior police officer revealed to The Tribune that a large number of multi-passenger tourist vehicle — Qualis, Sumos, Jeeps and Maxicabs — drivers are drug addicts and the police had identified certain joints along national and state highways from where they drew their quota of addiction.

In a couple of cases intoxication turned out to be the provocative cause for human error leading to multi-passenger vehicle ramming into a culvert, killing five people and leading seven others injured.

It is not only intoxication or addiction of drivers but also several instances where people under the influence of liquor got crushed by speeding heavy vehicles, including buses and trucks, while trying to cross the road.

In Sangrur, for example, the local police had sent several letters to the Excise and Taxation Department for shifting of a couple of “killer liquor vends” away from the highway. Same has been the case in Ropar and Patiala districts also where “sozzled pedestrians or even cyclists” had been crushed by heavy vehicles.

The law governing the control and maintenance of national and state highways stipulate a minimum clearance area from the edge of the road. This provision is violated everywhere. Intriguingly, many of the vends are located on the land which belongs either to the state Public Works Department or the National Highway Authority of India. Under the Highways Act, officials of the rank of Executive Engineer can order eviction or demolition of any structure which is in violation of the law.

The situation continues to be worse at inter-state barriers and borders where because of the stiffer excise competitions, liquor vends are in plenty. In Mohali, for example, some of the vends are just five metres from the edge of the state and national highways. The situation is no better on inter-state link roads. Enter Haryana or Punjab from Chandigarh and you would be greeted by liquor vends and ahatas. Little has been done to clear these roads of these vends. Last year a couple on a scooter was killed after being hit by a car driven by a group of intoxicated men. — Concluded


Gurpurb celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 5
The birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs and creator of the Khalsa Panth, was today celebrated with religious fervour. Bhog of Akhand Paths were held at Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Model Town, and Gurdwara Akalian. Kirtan, kathas, gurbani vichar, divans and langars were organised on this occasion.

A big nagar kirtan preceded the celebrations. SGPC member-cum-SAD national adviser Jarnail Singh Wahid and chairman, Punjab Agro Foods Corporation, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, separately addressed congregations and highlighted the philosophy and message of the great Guru.


Punjab seeks institute of biotechnology
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Government has submitted a project worth Rs 150 crore to the Union Government to set up a national institute of biotechnology in the state. A few months ago, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had promised to fund the setting up of such a project.

The state government wanted to acquire 300 acres of land at a short distance from Chandigarh, most probably on the Chandigarh-Sirhind or Chandigarh-Patiala road to open the institute. Earlier, there was a proposal to set it up near Amritsar. Best biotechnology courses in pharmaceutical and agriculture fields would be part of the institute's curriculum as per the project.

Whether the Centre would be ready to pay Rs 150 crore for the project remains to be seen. Informed sources said that the Centre was in a mood to pay only Rs 80 crore. However, it would depend on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, how he convinces the Union Human Resources Development Ministry to release Rs 150 crore for the proposed institute.

Asked about the institute, Dr N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director of the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology, said that industrial units required to train students in biotechnology would also be part of the institute's campus. He said a lot of research work had to be carried out by students of biotechnology on the campus.

Meanwhile, the council will set up a biotech park near Dera Bassi where 16 acres of land has been purchased for this purpose. The Union Government has assured to give Rs 10 crore for this park to the council. To carry out the research and development programme at the park, the council would set up incubator facilities where extraction of medical plants will be done.

Already, a number of pharmaceutical companies have shown interest in utilising the incubator facilities. The park is to be set up with private participation. Already booking in this connection has started.

Dr S.S. Marwaha, Director of the council, said an organic food testing and certification facility would be created at the park. Labs for this purpose would be set up by spending Rs 5.50 crore. He said that Punjab would be the first state in this region to provide such facility to the farming community. Organic farming was catching up fast and there was a huge demand for organic foodgrains in various parts of the world. Obviously, certification would help farmers to export the organic food items produced by them.

The Union Government has also approved one centre for training and demonstration of bio-technology application. It would be set up near Talwara in Hoshiarpur district, said Dr Marwaha. " We have started a number of biotechnology projects in Talwara area for women of weaker sections,'' said Dr Marwaha. He said that in that area biotechnology was being used for women empowerment.


PSEB, US firm pact on power generation
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
The stage has been set for private generation of power in Punjab with the PSEB going into an agreement with an American firm whereby the board will buy back power generated by the firm at its proposed 150 MW thermal plant in Bathinda.

Sources said the agreement had come about after an extensive round of discussion. The firm had expressed interest in establishing a thermal plant in Bathinda and had proposed to buy-back arrangement.

However, the terms at which the board will buy back power from the firm are yet to be decided. According to the sources, it has been decided that the buy-back rate will be decided after the firm starts generation in Bathinda and as per the prevailing cost of generation. The project is likely to be completed in over two years. The board has recommended the case to the government so that the formalities can be completed.

Meanwhile, the sources said the board had also written to the state government, stating that the establishment of a gas-based power project at Doraha would be advantageous to the state. According to a board internal survey, this project would also be cost-effective and much cheaper than thermal generation.

The PSEB is veering around to increase generation. It has also been hit by a reduction in hydel generation. Board Chairman Y.S. Ratra has decided to encourage private generation and explore other means, besides thermal and hydel generation. The board is not keen to go in for more hydel generation or sink money in hydel projects in other states due to the nearly 40 per cent reduction in hydel generation which has occurred this year throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the Lehra Mohabbat Stage Two project has also picked up with BHEL starting work on the project.


Power generation stopped at two hydel projects
Lalit Mohan

Gurdaspur, January 5
Already reeling under power crisis the problems of the PSEB are multiplying with two of its hydel projects going shut leading to a generation loss of about 26 lakh units per day. It includes about 20 lakh units per day from the Mukerian hydel project and 6 lakh units per day from the Anandpur Sahib hydel project.

The generation at the Mukerian hydel project has been stopped due to damage to canal at the point where it joins rivers. The problem of the Mukerian hydel canal was perennial. Almost every year, the canal gets damaged at the point and the PSEB authorities have to put stone crates to prevent the damage to the canal.

Sources said that the problem was increasing to the design fault in the canal. At the rear end, due to slope the speed of water in the canal increased towards its rear end. The increased speed of water caused damage to the canal leading to generation loss of crores every year.

To tackle the problem the PSEB had planned to divert the canal, increasing its length and in the process generating an additional 18 MW from the canal. However, the entire project had come to a standstill for the past six month due to the eruption water from the place where powerhouses were to be set up.

Sources in the PSEB said the generation at the Mukerian hydel project was likely to start by January 10 after the repair of the canal was completed.

The generation at the Anandpur Sahib hydel project had been stopped due to fire in the .65 MW transformer located near powerhouse. The sources said that after the said transformer caught fire the flammable oil in it spilled towards the control cable gallery. The fire in the control cable gallery caused damage to the transmission cable.

The generation at the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal is likely to remain suspended for at least another 15 days due to the damage to the control cable.


Constable held for aiding Babbar Khalsa man
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 5
The district police has arrested head constable Gurdial Singh, working in the security branch of the SSP’s office, for allegedly recommending the papers of Prem Pal Singh, member of the Babbar Khalsa International, for making a passport without any police verification by taking bribe. The police has also arrested agent Arvinder Singh, who had struck the deal with the head constable. The police has registered a case under Sections 420, 409, 468, 120-B IPC, 7 at the Sirhind police station.

According to Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Prem Pal Singh was a member of the Babbar Khalsa International and was responsible for the attack on Mr A.P. Pandey, the then SSP of Ludhiana. He had been sentenced by a court, but by preparing a bogus passport, he had managed to flee to the USA.

The SSP said he had committed a fraud in the USA and the FBI blacklisted him. To save his skin, he came back to India and applied for a fresh passport on some other name. He had met Arvinder Singh of Sirhind and they had struck a deal with head constable Gurdial Singh for Rs 25,000 for recommending his papers for a passport to the Regional Passport Office without making any proper police verification.

The head constable had made bogus entries in the police records and recommended his papers for making a passport. On the basis of that recommendation, the Regional Passport Office had issued a passport and Prem Pal Singh was about to leave India when was arrested by the Delhi police. During interrogation, he had revealed the truth to the Delhi police, who informed the Fatehgarh Sahib police.

The SSP said he had got the matter inquired by DSP (H), who had found that head constable Gurdial Singh and Arvinder Singh had connived with Prem Pal Singh and made bogus entries in the police records. The head constable had admitted his guilt and now they would bring Prem Pal Singh from Delhi for further interrogation.


Akali Dal (Longowal) to start Mukti Andolan
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) will be starting a Mukti Andolan on the Maghi Mela to be held in Muktsar on January 13.

This was stated by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the party, at a press conference here today. He said the Andolan would be started with an aim to free the state from vices like apostacy, drugs, female foeticide, unemployment, etc.

He said the year 2005 would be considered as a year of struggle and all efforts would be made to free Panthic organisations from the clutches of non-Panthic bodies.

Condemning the interference of the SGPC and Akal Takht in the matters of the Damdami Taksal, Mr Chandumajra said since the Damdami Taksal did not believe in the ‘maryada’ of Akal Takht and the SGPC, there was no need to intervene in such matters. By giving support to one faction of the Damdami Taksal in the elections, Akal Takht and the SGPC only tried to create a division in the Panth. As to who was to be made the chief of the Damdami Taksal, he said it should only be decided by persons who had faith in the maryada of the Taksal and who participated in the arrangements.

Mr Chandumajra further said during the celebrations of the three Sikh centenaries last year, no panthic directions were given and neither any aim had been fixed by the SGPC. These occasions were only used as personal gains. He said the SGPC could not put up its own stage during the celebrations at Chamkaur Sahib and even at Fatehgarh Sahib. During a nagar kirtan, the SGPC chief sat in a palenquin carrying Guru Granth Sahib, instead of joining the sangat. Party funds were used to turn the celebrations into a Badal show, while funds of the state were spent on making the occasion into a Congress show, he said.

Launching an attack on the Central Government, Mr Chandumajra said the price of sugarcane had not been hiked by the government even when the prices of sugar had gone up. He said the Centre had refused to give incentives to Punjab, which were being given to neighbouring states. The Centre had always indulged in discrimination against Punjab. He said instead, new industrial units coming to the state, the industry that existed was moving to other states. 


PPCC meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has convened a meeting of secretaries and organising secretaries of the PPCC on January 6 at 11 am to discuss plans for mobilising support for tsunami victims, Mr Rajpal Singh, spokesman of the PPCC announced yesterday.


Poor given allotment letters of dwelling units
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Anxious hands trembled with excitement as members of economically weaker sections of society were handed over allotment letters of 370 dwelling units in Jalandhar's 'Rajiv Gandhi Vihar' by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The area has been developed by Jalandhar's Improvement Trust at a cost of Rs.5.88 crore.

Satisfaction was writ large on their faces as they sat through the ceremony held here.

Addressing the beneficiaries, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government was committed towards the overall development and upliftment of the downtrodden.

"It is the firm resolve of the Congress party at the national level to ameliorate the lot of the poor and underprivileged through the implementation of special programmes and schemes," he said.

The Chief Minister also appreciated the initiative taken by Jalandhar's Improvement Trust for giving allotment letters to the beneficiaries on the eve of Guru Gobind Singh's birth anniversary.

He urged the other Improvement Trusts in the state to augment their efforts to launch similar schemes for the economically weaker and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Describing the project as "unique", Local Government Minister Jagjit Singh said they had tied up with Punjab National Bank to provide finance to the prospective buyers at a lowest monthly installment of Rs 1315 per month. He said the total cost of the dwelling unit would be Rs 2 lakh with a covered area of 485 square feet.


Maghi Mela to have heritage show
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 5
The district administration has decided to celebrate in a big way the four-day Maghi Mela in connection with the tercentenary of the martyrdom of 40 “Muktas” who fought the Mughals.

Though the state government has been contemplating a state-level function in this town in May, the district administration has also added an attraction to the mela to be held from January 11 in the shape of Virasat Mela.

In the Virasat Mela, the history of this town, which was known as “Khidrana Ki Dhab” when Guru Gobind Singh fought his last battle with the Mughals here and in which the “Muktas” laid down their lives, would be depicted.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, said a Kabaddi tournament and wrestling competition would also be organised. A procession would be taken out at the beginning to the mela and a kavi durbar would also be held.

He said about 10 lakh devotees from across the country and other countries were expected to visit the historical Gurdwara Tutti Gandi Sahib. Elaborate arrangements had been made for their convenience.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mr J.C. Sabbharwal, SDM, have been appointed as mela officer and assistant mela officer, respectively.

The town has been divided into eight sectors which would be manned by a Duty Magistrate assisted by a police official of the rank of DSP. A civil control room had also been set up in the mini secretariat. The police control room would be set up at the local Government Senior Secondary School. Eight sub-control rooms had also been set up which would be equipped with health facilities. Four mobile teams of doctors would also be pressed into service.

A cleanliness drive had also been launched and the municipal council had been asked to make arrangements for streetlights. Ten fire engines would be arranged during the mela days. Twenty water tankers would also be pressed into service.

The SSP said patrolling had been intensified from today.


26 Punjab MLAs to visit Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
A delegation of 26 MLAs of Punjab will visit Pakistan for a week from January 15. Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, will lead the delegation. As many as 9 Akali MLAs and two independent MLAs will also be part of the delegation. Remaining MLAs will be from the ruling Congress.

Sources said that Dr Kewal Krishan had asked the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly to recommend the names of the SAD MLAs for the visit to Pakistan. The delegations will visit Lahore, Islamabad, Nankana Sahib and other historic places. It would also visit the West Punjab Assembly and see the Assembly records of the pre-partition period.

Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, is also part of the delegation. He was born in Goleke village, which is now in Pakistan. He is excited about the visit to his native village. Likewise, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, is also enthusiastic about the visit. Chowdhary’s father, the late Master Gurbanta Singh, was a member of the Punjab Assembly before Partition.


Pak to repatriate 262 Indian fishermen today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
As many as 262 Indian fishermen who were released from different jails in Pakistan on January 2, will be repatriated from the Wagah joint check-post tomorrow.

They were arrested by Pakistan on charges of illegally fishing in Pakistani waters and were languishing in different jails. The fishermen have reached Lahore from where they would leave for Wagah through land route.

The Pakistani authorities had arrested 895 fishermen for straying into Pakistani waters since November 2003 and seized 159 boats. Some 108 Pakistani fishermen are behind bars in India on similar charges. More than 200 Indian and 93 Pakistani fishermen were released in November 2003 by the two governments on humanitarian grounds.

The Edhi Foundation has met all expenses for the Indian fishermen’s return. They were also given Rs 100 each with a gift pack by Bilquees Edhi.


Beating up of Dalit: teacher given clean chit
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 5
The Education Department has given a clean chit to Mr Kulwant Singh Bhatti, posted as Center Head Teacher at Gobindgarh village near here. Mr Bhatti had been accused of allegedly torturing a Dalit student at Government Elementary School in the village in August last year. Interestingly Mr Bhatti himself heads an organisation that had been fighting for the rights of the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and Minorities. Some vernaculars dailies had highlighted the alleged episode and the matter had been brought to the notice of National SC ST Commission, also the state chiefs of the Police and Education Departments, resulting in various inquiries.

According to a letter received here from the District Education Officer, (DEO), Ferozepore, the Principal of a Government Girls Senior Secondary School had held an on-the-spot investigation in to the alleged incident. As per her report the allegations leveled against Mr Bhatti had not been proved.

The DEO, however, asked Mr Bhatti to take preventive measures to avoid such controversies in future. Sources said that a Block Education Officer had also inquired in to the allegations earlier. But nothing incriminating had been found even then.

Meanwhile, in a resolution the Village Education Development Committee had also exonerated Mr Bhatti of charges framed by some residents of Gobindgarh village. The committee, at a meeting presided by Mr Rai Singh Chaudhry, had passed the resolution.

Members of the committee had inquired from various sources, including students, labourers on work, teachers and heads of other schools who were present on that day. None of them endorsed the allegation that a Dalit student Sat Pal was beaten up by Mr Bhatti. It was found that in fact an uncle of the student had been running an EGS center under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan in the village. As the district authorities had resolved to close the said center, the affected family reportedly had a grudge against Mr Bhatti suspecting that the decision was based on his recommendation. Accordingly a campaign had reportedly been launched to harass Mr Bhatti and create a hindrance in his promotion due as Block Primary Education Officer.

The committee claimed that allegations had not been proved against Mr Bhatti even when a police party conducted an on-the-spot inquiry on August 22.

Parents of the student Sat Pal had got him admitted to a hospital to strengthen their allegations that he had been tortured for a petty excuse by Mr Bhatti. The Education Department had reinvestigated the matter under fresh instructions from the National Commission. The department had now closed the complaint.


Yogi's ashes to be immersed at Kiratpur Sahib
on Jan 11
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The ashes of Sri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib, Harbhajan Singh Yogi, will be immersed at Kiratpur Sahib on January 11.

Carrying ashes of Singh Sahib, Bibi Inderjit Kaur, other family members and about 200 American Sikhs will arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport on January 6 from the USA. Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr Tirlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, and other eminent Sikh personalities will receive the ashes at the Delhi airport.

The SGPC will hold a religious programme in memory of Singh Sahib at Manji

Sahib in the Golden Temple on January 15 and another programme would be held at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib at Delhi by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on January 16.


Happy reunion after nine years

Moga, January 5
It was a happy reunion for 12-year-old Gaggandeep Singh, who was kidnapped from Lohara village of Muktsar district, when just a toddler, and finally met his mother after nine long years. Gaggandeep, who was found in custody of Dar Vijay Pandey, hailing from Uttar Pradesh and living in Bathinda, was working in a ‘dhaba’ (kiosk’) and was rescued by the police after he was admitted to a hospital following an accident.

The boy, who was handed over to his widow mother Satinder Kaur by the police at Muktsar last evening in the presence of large number of people, was kidnapped by some unidentified people in 1995 and a complaint was lodged by his father Mr Pritam Singh.

Mr Singh died in 1997 as he could not bear the shock.

The Muktsar police chief L.K. Yadav said the boy was taken to Loon Karansar village of Bikaner district of Rajasthan where Vijay Pandey had managed to gain custody of the boy from Rajasthan police claiming that he was his missing son.

However he brought him to Punjab and employed him in a ‘dhaba’ here.

According to the police, Gaggandeep developed friendly relations with the sons of the owner of Dhaba and told them that Pandey was not his real father.

However, recently the boy was injured and was admitted in the Bathinda (civil Hospital). It was only then that the Bathinda police started an investigation and with the help of a social organisation Suraksha rescued him. Mr Yadav said a DNA test of the boy would also be conducted. — PTI


Punjabi folk singers give memo to DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 5
A large number of Punjabi folk singers, led by the renowned Sardul Sikandar, under the banner of “Lok Gayak Kala Manch Punjab” presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner demanding a ban on the playing of DJ systems by the so-called artists and sound-system owners at public places in the district.

It had been affecting their business badly, they said.

They alleged that these people played their recorded CDs and brought along women dancers to entertain the gathering. They also exploited these dancers.

They said that genuine artists prepared the CDs by spending lakhs of rupees and popularised their songs by spending on advertisements in the print and electronic media but the real benefit did not accrue to them. Rather these DJ system owners were making money by using their CDs.

They demanded that their recorded songs should be limited only for entertainment in vehicles, houses and personal entertainment.


SGPC aid for tsunami victims

Amritsar, January 5
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak committee (SGPC) sent a 24-member medical team and medicines worth Rs 1 crore for victims of tsunami-affected areas of Tamil Nadu here today.

The consignment and medical team was flagged off by Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director-Principal, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research.

The medical team headed by Dr Partik Bakshi comprised specialists in various disciplines, including medicine and Psychiatry. Besides, two senior Sanitary Inspectors, two pharmacists and nurses (male) were also part of it.

Mr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, a USA-based philanthropist, and a Rakhra family donated Rs 5 crore for rehabilitation of tsunami-affected people. He provided medicines worth Rs 1 crore to the SGPC.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, and Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak committee, will flag off a fleet of 100 trucks containing clothes, food, utensils and other items from Patiala tomorrow.


NFL staff to donate Rs 75 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 5
Employees of National Fertilisers Limited, Naya Nangal, have decided to contribute their one-day wages to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to help the victims of the tsunami disaster.

A press note issued by the NFL here yesterday stated that about 4,900 employees of NFL units would contribute Rs 75 lakh for the victims.


Aid for tsunami victims pours in
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 5
To gather maximum aid for tsunami victims, a meeting of representatives of different business and social welfare organisations was held at the administrative complex here today.

Various individuals and institutions announced financial aid at the meeting only. M/s Devidas Gopalkrishan pledged Rs 1 lakh as aid for rehabilitation of tsunami victims. Other contributors include — Dr Snehlata — Rs 21,000, Dharamkot Mandi — Rs 21,000, Moga Petroleum Dealers — Rs 51,000, private schools — Rs 2 lakh. Apart from this, the Rice Shellers Association, Moga, announced a contribution of 400 quintals of rice. Other bodies like Chemists Association, Bus Operators Association and Truck Unions also assured assistance from their side. The District Education Department also contributed Rs 12 lakh from the salary of its employees. The DC has appealed to people to donate generously for tsunami victims.


Traders gherao octroi post

Pathankot January 5
Traders here today gheraoed an octroi post located near the local SDM office in protest against the alleged highhandedness of octroi contractors.

The tiff between the traders and the octroi contractors started after the contractors allegedly downloaded the entire material of a trader for its physical verification. Office-bearers of trader association got infuriated at the incident and gheroaed the octroi post.

They also disrupted the traffic on the Dalhousie road for nearly one hour. The traders alleged that as per the rules the octroi contractors should levy octroi on the bill of the material being brought into the town.

However, henchmen of the octroi contractors harassed the traders by downloading their material from the trucks and then opening the packaging for the physical verification of the entire material.

This resulted in damage to the material, extra labour and time wastage of the traders in repackaging the material at posts. They alleged that the octroi contractors have no power to asses the material being brought into the town.

They can just levy octroi in the details of the material given in the bill.

The octroi contractors on the other hand alleged that the general bills attached with the material did not indicate the true value or nature of the material loaded in the trucks.

Sometimes the traders hid precious material in the bags to evade the octroi.

So, it was mandatory for them to check the material to assess the real octroi to be levied on it.

The police had to intervene to prevent a clash between the traders and the octroi contractors. The matter was only resolved when the SDM, Pathankot, Mr Amarjit Paul, intervened in the matter.


7 injured as four vehicles collide

Phagwara, January 5
Seven persons, including two women and a child, sustained injuries, when four vehicles, including two cars, one tanker and a scooter, collided with each other near Cheherru on Shershah Suri Marg early today, the police said.

Due to poor visibility caused by thick fog, a Ludhiana-bound car rammed into a tanker parked off the roadside and the other vehicles later collided with these two vehicles, it added.

The seven injured identified as Avtar Singh, his wife Jatinder Kaur and son Dapinderjit of Urban Estate, Ludhiana, and Santokh, Shakuntala, Krishan Lal and Sonu of Shiv Puri also of Ludhiana were admitted with injuries to the local Civil Hospital. The condition of all injured was stated to be out of danger.

Meanwhile, a motorcyclist, Tilak Raj Gandhi, was killed when his mobike was hit by a speeding jeep near the old bus stand in the town this evening.

Another man, Mukesh Kumar, who was riding pillion, sustained serious injuries.

Tilak Raj was first admitted to the Civil Hospital, then shifted to DMC Hospital in Ludhiana where he succumbed to his injuries.

The police has registered a case. The body of the deceased was sent to the Civil Hospital here for post-mortem, the police said. — UNI


Dharna against non-payment of compensation
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 5
Farmers of six border villages in the Fazilka sector staged a protest dharna at Canal Rest House here today to protest against the non-payment of compensation for the land mines laid in their fields two years back.

The NDA government had deployed the Army on the border following the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2002 and subsequently, the strategic areas in the border belt were converted into mine fields.

Hundreds of farmers residing in these areas had to vacate their land and they had suffered considerable financial losses for over one year.

The Union Government had then constituted a parliamentary committee to assess the compensation to be paid to the farmers affected.

This committee had recommended Rs 13,000 per acre as compensation to the farmers in whose fields mines were laid.

After some delay, the farmers had been paid the first instalment of Rs 2,350, followed by another instalment of Rs 4,300.

Those farmers whose land was not vacated for one year were to be paid the first instalment of Rs 6,500 per acre and the second instalment of Rs 5,940 per acre.

Due to alleged political interference, the compensation was distributed in some villages while it was withheld in others. Mines were laid in about 11,830 acres in Mauzam, Mohammad Pira, Pakka Chisti, Mumbeki, Mohar Sona, Mohar Khiva, Mohar Jamsher, Ladhuka, Churiwala Chisti, Mahatam Nagar, Bakhushah, Beriwala, Nooran, Gatti No. 1, Jhangar Bhaini and 48 other villages, where compensation was yet to be paid to some farmers.

Mr Kala Singh, sarpanch of Mauzam, and Mr Balbir Singh of Mansa said civil administration officials had called them for disbursement of cheques, but they were left high and dry. Their work had also suffered as their time was wasted awaiting payment.


Farmers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 5
Farmers of six border villages in the Fazilka sector staged a protest dharna at Canal Rest House here today to protest against the non-payment of compensation for the land mines laid in their fields two years back. The NDA government had deployed the Army on the border following the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2002 and subsequently, the strategic areas in the border belt were converted into mine fields.

Hundreds of farmers residing in these areas had to vacate their land and they had suffered considerable financial losses for over one year. The Union Government had then constituted a parliamentary committee to assess the compensation to be paid to the farmers affected. This committee had recommended Rs 13,000 per acre as compensation to the farmers in whose fields mines were laid. After some delay, the farmers had been paid the first instalment of Rs 2,350, followed by another instalment of Rs 4,300. Those farmers whose land was not vacated for one year were to be paid the first instalment of Rs 6,500 per acre and the second instalment of Rs 5,940 per acre.

Due to alleged political interference, the compensation was distributed in some villages while it was withheld in others. Mines were laid in about 11,830 acres in Mauzam, Mohammad Pira, Pakka Chisti, Mumbeki, Mohar Sona, Mohar Khiva, Mohar Jamsher, Ladhuka, Churiwala Chisti, Mahatam Nagar, Bakhushah, Beriwala, Nooran, Gatti No. 1, Jhangar Bhaini and 48 other villages, where compensation was yet to be paid to some farmers.

Mr Kala Singh, sarpanch of Mauzam, and Mr Balbir Singh of Mansa said civil administration officials had called them for disbursement of cheques, but they were left high and dry. Their work had also suffered as their time was wasted awaiting payment.


MC recommends action against 12 employees
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 5
Following the state government’s orders to initiate action against its employees involved in deletion of names of genuine voters during the last Assembly elections, the local municipal council has recommended disciplinary action against them to the Local Bodies Department.

Out of the 14 employees involved in the case, one has retired while another has passed away. Sources said the employees concerned would not get any promotion or departmental benefit for the next six months. Apart from MC employees, 14 government teachers and an employee of the market committee were also held responsible for anomalies in voter lists.

The Congress candidate, Mr Vijay Sathi, who had lost the elections to the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Tota Singh, by a slender margin of 305 votes, had lodged a complaint regarding anomalies in compilation of voter list with the Election Commission. Later, the Chief Minister had set up a committee to probe into the matter. The then Principal Secretary, the Ferozepore Commissioner and the Moga Deputy Commissioner were members of this committee. Out of the total of 147 booths, the committee had enquired into voter lists of 81 booths under the supervision of the then Deputy Commissioner.

The investigation had revealed that names of 631 voters of 28 rural booths had been struck off without enquiry while 745 names votes termed bogus by the electoral officer were not deleted. There were about 7,000 names that neither had any house number nor address. Apart from this, 317 voters having identity cards were reportedly not allowed to exercise their franchise.

The committee had found 29 persons, including 14 government teachers, responsible for striking off genuine voters and had recommended action against them.


PSEB cashier suspended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
Mr Lal Singh, a PSEB cashier of Badrukhan subdivision was suspended while similar action has been recommended against a revenue accountant, Mr Kuldip Kumar, of the same subdivision after an amount of Rs 5600 was found missing from the chest.

This was confirmed by a senior officer of the Sangrur division (distribution) of the PSEB today.

The officer said it had come to the notice of the PSEB authorities that the revenue officials of Badrukhan subdivision had been using PSEB money for personal use. When the chest of Badrukhan subdivision was checked, about Rs 5600 was found short.

The officer also said investigations were in progress and records of the Badrukhan subdivision were being examined. However, he declined to give details of the total loss to PSEB.


Punjab postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Government yesterday ordered the transfer and posting of three PPS officers. An order issued by the Department of Home Affairs and Justice claimed that the transfers had been ordered “on administrative grounds”.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa has now been posted as Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) at Amritsar in Mr Dilbag Singh’s place. He, in turn, has been posted as Deputy Director (Administration) at Punjab Police Academy in Phillaur.

Mr Dilbag Singh replaces Mr Gurdev Singh who has been transferred as the Commandant of 5th Indian Reserve Battalion in Mr Bajwa’s place.


Showrooms demolished
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
The Municipal Corporation today demolished three showrooms one month after the start of construction work in the Bank Colony area.

A corporation bulldozer was today put into service to raze the illegal construction. Though the house owners tried to prevent the move by requesting the corporation staff to wait till they could make a telephone call, it had no effect on the staff who proceeded with the demolition

Besides the front portion of the showrooms, the stairs leading to the first floor were also demolished.

The sources said the demolition team had been deputed by Corporation Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu. 


Brick prices fixed
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 5
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, has fixed the rates of bricks and tiles for government and semi-government works in the district.

According to a press note, the brick-kiln owners would sell bricks at the rate of Rs 1,500 per thousand and tiles Rs 1,600 per thousand to government and semi-government departments. The rate includes sales tax, but not freight charges. This rate would be in force till March 31, 2005. The rate was fixed following a meeting of the brick-kiln owners with the DC.

The strike of brick-kiln owners had resulted in steep hike in brick prices and it was affecting development works being carried out by government departments. The move to fix prices would speed up development works in the district. 


Panch raped
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 5
A panch of Moom village, about 20 km from here, has reported that she was raped on January 3. In her complaint, she stated that when she was going to see her sister-in-law around 6.30 p.m. on January 3, Raminder Singh, alias Rama, and Gurcharan Singh called her to their house on the pretext of sorting out a land dispute. She added that she accompanied them to their house, where they raped her.

She complained that when she went to the Civil Hospital for medical examination, doctors did not pay heed to her request. She added that she went to the police station to lodge a complaint, but to no avail.

She further stated that she appealed in the court of Mr Karnail Singh, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, for medical examination and the court ordered the Senior Medical Officer of the Civil Hospital to get her medical examination conducted. She revealed that there was a dispute over a plot of her sister-in-law.


Fraud detected in records of medicines
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 5
A fraud has been detected by the Deputy Commissioner in the records of medicines being supplied to patients at the Civil Hospital, Bassi Pathana.

The Deputy Commissioner said during a preliminary inquiry it was found that the embezzled amount in the receipt and supply of medicines may run into lakhs.

He said surprisingly the storekeeper, in his recorded statement, has said that the government supply of medicines to the hospital is in the surplus, but the number of patients is less. So there is no alternative other than burning medicines every year.

The Deputy Commissioner said the patients had been complaining that they were not getting medicines from the hospital alleging that these were sold to chemists in the open market.

The Deputy Commissioner has ordered a thorough inquiry into the irregularities. It will be conducted by the SDM, Bassi Pathana, and Mr P. Kalley AC(G).

After getting their report, action would be taken and all chemists who had been purchasing government medicines would also be booked, the Deputy Commissioner said. He did not rule out the connivance of officials of the Health Department. The Deputy Commissioner has ordered the checking of records in all hospitals and dispensaries in the district. He has directed the SDM to immediately seal the record rooms.


Two women held for kidnapping baby
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Paramjit Kaur and Rajwinder Kaur of Maqboolpura area were arrested by the police for allegedly kidnapping her newborn baby.

A case under Sections 363, 368, 420, 120-B of the IPC has been registered at Vijay Nagar police station.

The police has recovered and handed over the child to the parents. According to police sources, the accused who were relatives of the complainant Harjit Kaur, a resident of Maqboolpura, took her to their house on the pretext of looking after her as she was pregnant. However, after the delivery they took the baby away saying he had died. 


80 pc schools without principals
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 5
Notwithstanding the rationalisation exercise of the Education Department, Punjab, about 80 per cent of government high and senior secondary schools in this subdivision, are being run without principals and headmaster. There are 33 high and senior secondary schools in this subdivision, of which 25 schools are running without principals and headmasters. These schools are being run by senior teachers, acting as officiating heads. The reason behind the schools remaining without heads is that the Punjab Government has neither promoted anyone nor have new heads been recruited.

These schools are functioning without principals and headmasters between 2 and for the past 2 to 11 years. There are 18 schools in which no regular head has ever been appointed since upgradation. According to Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, an educationist, of the 16 high schools in rural areas, headmasters have been posted in only two schools, at Mauzam and Banwala Hanuwanta. The remaining 14 schools, at Arniwala, Kamalwala, Chack Banwala, Kirianwali, Behak Bodla, Hasta Kalan, Shajrana, Chaurianwali, Khui Khera, Bandiwala, Asafwala, Wazidpur Kattianwali, Kabulshah Khuban and Pakkan, have no headmasters.

According to Mr Kalra of the 17 Senior Secondary schools, 12 schools are without principals. These are at Dabwala Kalan, Lalowali, Nukerian, Azamwala, Dangarkhera, Kheowali Dhab, Jandwala Bhimeshah, Nihal Khera, Jandwala Miran Sangla, Ladhuka, Chimnewala and Pattrewala.

Mr Kalra has urged the Punjab government to carry out the rationalisation exercise with caution. The government should promote senior lecturers and teachers to principals and headmasters to fill the vacancies. These lecturers and teachers are nearing retirement. Their promotion should not entail any financial burden on the exchequer, Mr Kalra has added.

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