P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Politics behind Giani Puran Singh’s removal
Bibi Jagir Kaur behind ouster
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 14
Giani Puran Singh, who was removed as the Head Granthi today, refused to accept 'siropa' (robe of honour) from his probable successor,Giani Gurbachan Singh, at the sanctum sanctorum.

When Giani Puran Singh completed his duty hours, Giani Gurbachan Singh rose to present him a 'siropa' as a mark of 'farewell', yet Giani Puran Singh went straight away to his residence without receiving the same.

Though the then acting president of the Shiromani Committee, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, had given him an extension for one year (which ends on January 2006), yet it was not approved by the SGPC executive.

However, Mr Pakhoke said it was unfortunate to remove the Sikh high priest unceremoniously.

He said like other Sikh high priests, who were allowed to continue even after their superannuation, the extension of Giani Puran Singh should have been endorsed .

He said it was 'unfortunate' that the decisions taken by him were being reversed.

Interestingly, the removal of Giani Puran Singh on January 14 assumes significance as it was the same date when he confronted Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, over implementation of the Nanakshahi Calendar in the year 2000.

While, the SGPC chief wanted to implement the calendar, Giani Puran Singh ( he was Jathedar of the Akal Takht at that time) was against it.

It is learnt that Bibi Jagir Kaur deliberately chose this day to settle scores with Giani Puran Singh who had excommunicated her from the Sikh Panth through a controversial 'Hukmnama' (edict) which she never accepted.

A strong lobby of the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership from the Majha region had been lobbying for the continuation of Giani Puran Singh as the Head Granthi, as he had accepted the post of Jathedar, Akal Takht, at a crucial time when Giani Mohan Singh had refused to succeed Bhai Ranjit Singh.

The SAD leadership told the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to reciprocate the gesture of Giani Puran Singh.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, however, was of the view that Giani Puran Singh was accused of violating the 'Panch Pardhani' maryada and had never attended any meeting of the Sikh clergy which was mandatory for the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple.

She had also told Mr Badal that Giani Puran Singh had described the Sikhs as descendants of 'Luv and Kush' which he had never rebutted. Incidentally, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht and the SGPC had stated that the Sikhs had separate identity.

Interestingly, Giani Mohan Singh, who was earlier removed as the acting Head Granthi, Golden Temple, was reappointed under pressure from the panthic circle about few months back.


Direct Cong-SAD fight in Ajnala
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Akalis and Congressmen have started warming up for the Ajnala byelection scheduled to be held on February 23. This Assembly constituency was declared vacant following the election of Dr Rattan Singh, who represented it in the state Assembly as an Akali MLA, to the Lok Sabha last year.

As things are shaping up at the political level, there will be a direct fight between the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in this byelection.Other parties do not have much political stake in this constituency. However, certain Akali factions opposed to SAD may put up their candidates to create problems for Mr Badal’s party.

There is,otherwise, not much political significance of this byelection except that politicians, especially Congressmen and Akalis, will be having a good time for about a month to lambast their political rivals. The outcome of this byelection will neither give any decisive turn to the state’s politics nor make any difference to the political fortunes of any of the main contestant parties. As the general elections for the state Assembly are to be held in two years from now, this byelection will not be a political trendsetter for those elections in any manner.

Among the strong contenders of the Congress ticket are Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala (retd) and his other brother, Mr Harpartap Singh. Major Rajbir Singh and Mr Harpartap Singh are sons of late Harcharan Singh Ajnala, who was Speaker of the State Assembly and also remained Education Minister.

The SAD ticket may go to Mr Amarpal Singh, son of Dr Rattan Singh, MP and former Akali Minister. Dr Rattan Singh said that his family would abide by the party’s directive. “ If the party asked my son to contest the election, my family is prepared for it. And if the party asked me to support any other candidate, it would also be acceptable”, he added.

Talking to The Tribune, Major Rajbir Singh, said that he is an aspirant for the Congress ticket. He had earlier contested in 1997 but was unsuccessful. His brother, Mr Harpartap Singh, who contested as independent candidate in the last Assembly elections (2002), had lost to Dr Rattan Singh, with a thin margin of 356 votes. In that election the official candidate of the Congress, Mr Ravi Rajbir Singh, had remained on the third spot and was defeated with a big margin. It is expected that the Congress would go for Mr Harpartap Singh this time.

Going by the past record of this constituency, one can say with certainty that the areas falling in its jurisdiction are the stronghold of the akalis. This constituency has been electing akali candidate since 1985. The only exception was 1992 Assembly elections when the Akalis boycotted the elections.

In 1985 Dr Rattan Singh had won from this constituency with a margin of 19,000 votes. Later, he was elected from this Assembly segment in 1994,1997 and 2002. He had to vacate this seat in 1994 as the party directed him to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Tarn Taran. Whenever, he contested, he won from this constituency, he claims.

Usually byelections are won by the ruling party which makes full use of the vast sources at its command by virtue of being in power. Last two byelections — Garhshankar and Kapurthala — held recently were won by the ruling party with a good margin. However, as this constituency has been a stronghold of the akalis, Mr Badal and his associates would go all out to match swords with Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, who has decided to leave no stone unturned to score another victory over Mr Badal and his party.


Cong, SAD conferences flop shows
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Takhtupura, January 14
The conferences of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress, organised to mark Maghi Mela, here today turned out to be flop shows in the absence of star speakers of both parties. While SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir had to attend court hearing, PPCC president H.S. Hanspal could not make it due to a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

In absence of the father-son duo from the Badal family, it was left to Giddarbaha MLA Mandpreet Singh Badal and senior party leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to manage the show.

Addressing the conference, Mr Dhindsa said there was never a shortage of urea and DAP during the Akali regime, but today everything from gas to fertilisers was being sold on the black market.

Mr Manpreet Badal said the state government had a debt of Rs 55,000 crore that spoke volumes of what it had done to improve the economic condition of the state in the past three years.

He said the state government had failed to redress power woes and fight corruption.

Later, interacting with mediapersons, both leaders said the state government should bring down its non-plan expenditure. When asked as to why the SAD was not taking up the issue of poor state of health services and the education sector with the government, Mr Manpreet Badal said there was only one-day Assembly sessions in six months. In such a situation, political stage was the only platform to voice such concerns.

Mr Dhindsa had a tough time justifying his party’s alliance with the INLD despite of their conflicting stand on the SYL issue. He said they were supporting the INLD while maintaining their stand on the SYL issue. This was because only the INLD could defeat the Congress in Haryana.

The conference failed to draw crowd in the absence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Badal.

The Congress conference initially drew crowd, but people were seen leaving after sometime, as the party could not even manage a state minister to attend it.

Addressing the conference, ex-minister Darshan Singh Brar and other party leaders said the state’s farmers faced a lot of problems during the Akali regime, but now they were producing bumper crops despite odds. They were not faced with any difficulty when it came to paddy procurement, they added. They alleged the Badal government had ruined the state’s economy by taking huge debts from international organisations like the World Bank. They said it took a lot of efforts to bring the state’s economy back on the track.

The party leaders alleged that the SGPC had ignored historical gurdwaras like the one in Takhtupura. They said the state government had given Fatehgarh Sahib the status of a district, besides erecting four gates in memory of Sahibzadas.

They said grants of Rs 4 to 5 lakh each would be given to various villages for development works.

Senior Congress leaders, including Jagroop Singh Takhtupura, Gurbachan Brar, and district Congress president Ranwinder Singh Pappu, attended the conference.


‘If Chautala desists, Cong will not make SYL poll issue’

Muktsar, January 14
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh yesterday said if the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, would not make the SYL canal an issue in Haryana in the coming Assembly elections, then the Congress would also not make it an election issue.

Addressing a Press conference here yesterday on the occasion of Maghi Mela, he said when the SYL canal issue did not bother Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had taken seven Assembly seats from Mr Chautala for fielding its candidates then the SYL issue would not come into the picture in the election campaign of the Congress leaders.

He added that he would go for campaigning in Haryana if asked to do so by the AICC.

When asked about the corruption case against Mr Badal and his family members, Capt Amarinder Singh said as the matter was subjudice he would not make any comment.

He, however, added that once the stay on the trail of Mr Badal and others was vacated by the court, he (Mr Badal) would face trial. — TNS


Maghi Mela concludes
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 14
On the fourth and concluding day of the Maghi Mela, which is held every year to mark the supreme sacrifices made by 40 muktas, a sports and cultural festival was organised here today.

Competitions were held in kabaddi and wrestling. Youths from Muktsar and its neighbouring districts participated in these contests. The kabaddi team of Faridkot downed the Muktsar team, 37-28.

In the Wrestling competitions for boys, Randhir Singh bagged the first position, while Rajeev Guruhar Sahai stood second. In another contest, Vimpal of Gidderbaha and Bageecha Singh of Faridkot stood first and second, respectively.

In the girls’ section, Renu Bala of Faridkot and Gurpreet Kaur of Bathinda got the first position, while Parminder Jeet Kaur and Neelam remained at the second place.

Punjabi singers Pargat Bhagu, Balvir Chotia, Gurpal Singh Pali, Rimpy Grewal and Rupinder Kaur entertained the audience on the occasion.

Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, thanked the people of the town for their cooperation during the mela.


Gurdwara panel for amending poll rules
Sends reminder to Centre
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Gurdwara Election Commission continues to receive little support from Congress governments both at the centre and in the state. Though two Deputy Commissioners were recently transferred on the Commission’s recommendations, precious little has so far been done to amend Gurdwara Committee Election Rules of 1959. Even the constituencies for local gurdwara committee elections have not been notified.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice Jai Singh Sekhon has shot off a reminder to the Central Government for amending the rules.

The amendment, sources in his office assert, is essential because the local gurdwara committee elections — as and when held — stand the risk of being declared void due to discrepancy between the Gurdwara Act and the rules.

The Act empowers only the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections to supervise and conduct the gurdwara committee elections.

The rules, on the other hand, authorise the Election Commissioner to conduct the poll in the absence of the Chief Election Commissioner.

The sources claim that the possibility of government interference cannot be ruled out if the elections are not conducted by the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections.

Giving details of the variations, the sources say that the power to conduct the committee elections vests only with the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections under Section 47-A of the Gurdwara Act. Only he is empowered to prepare the electoral rolls, besides supervise and conduct the election process. But the rules say that the Election Commissioner too can conduct the elections.

Quoting Section 146 of the Act pertaining to the framing of rules, the sources say that the same have to be in consonance with the Act. There cannot be any variations or discrepancies between the two.

As far as notifying constituencies by the state government is concerned, the sources say that the relevant rules make it mandatory for the authorities to do so as early as possible.

The gurdwara committees, the sources say, are required to be formed for gurdwaras having income of over Rs 1 lakh. They add that each committee comprises five members. One members is nominated by the SGPC, while others are elected. That is why the constituencies have to be notified.

Reacting to the developments, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President (SGPC) Bibi Jagir Kaur says, “The entire thing is patently wrong”.

She adds that the government has so far paid little heed to the Commission’s recommendations. But the authorities should now step forward and conduct the elections in accordance with the Act.


MC pulls down illegal structures
Land worth over Rs 50 crore reclaimed
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 14
Under its most daring and much- delayed demolish operation, the municipal corporation today pulled down scores of illegal buildings and structures that had come along the erstwhile “nahar” and reclaimed prime government land worth more than Rs 50 crore.

The MC demolition squad, however, spared the backyards of the Oxford and BBC Heartcare hospitals as their managements gave an undertaking that they would remove the structures themselves within 15 days. The hospitals, which had about 30-feet extension over the “nahar,” had urged the MC Commissioner, Mr Satwant Singh Johl, that the demolition would harm the oxygen plants installed there.

What came as a surprise to residents was the prompt action taken by the MC against illegal structures after a long time. However, the demolition squad had to face the ire of the residents who resisted the action initially, alleging that the MC had not given them any notice and that it was resorting to a pick- and-choose policy.

A large number of residents alleged that though small encroachments in shape of lawns, walls and bathrooms were removed, the MC did not touch influential violators.

The Tribune investigations have revealed that encroachments on this part of the old “nahar” was just the tip of the iceberg as the total worth of government land that had been encroached was more than Rs 350 crore. The encroachment had been done by individuals, business houses, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and owners of makeshift kiosks.

“I am aware of this part of the encroached land. Today we have removed structures and buildings from a 1.5-km area. My only objective is to ensure that public property should be utilised by people and no one else,” Mr Johl said.

Arguing with the Commissioner during the demolition, Mr Krishan Dev Bhandari, leader of the opposition in the MC, stressed that the demolition should be carried out without any discrimination.

Led by Mr Shiv Dayal Chugh, district president of the BJP, the residents said they had set up temporary structures for security reasons but some influential people who had constructed pucca buildings were not touched.

On this, the Commissioner assured them that encroachments would be removed without any bias and since the logic of the hospital owners was genuine, they had been given 15 days' time to remove the encroachments. The owners of the hospitals had given an undertaking that they would remove the structures and that they would not go to court for stay. "If they don’t remove the encroachment after this period, I will do it even if I am transferred,” he added.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Channi, general secretary of the district unit of the SAD, alleged that some senior MC officials were resorting to a pick-and-choose policy.


Govt not keen to privatise PSEB, says member (admn)
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 14
Differing with the Punjab Finance Minister over the proposed privatisation of the PSEB, Mr Raman Bhalla, member(Administration) of the board, today said that the state government was not in favour of privatisation.

The PSEB, meanwhile, was taking steps for the speedy disposal of corruption cases involving its employees and for the recovery of arrears worth Rs 22-23 crore from government departments.

After disbursing relief cheques among dependents of employees who were either killed or injured while on duty, he said though the unbundling of the PSEB after making small corporations was required under the provisions of the Central Act 2003 and for the sake of more accountability, privatisation was not on the agenda of the government.

The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, has reportedly been saying that the PSEB would be privatised. Mr Bhalla, however, said: “Anyone, including big companies, is welcome to participate in power generation, but there is no government intention to privatise the PSEB, which has more than 80,000 employees. He(the Finance Minister) should tell us which private parties, if any, are there. Big players and interested people can come forward for power generation and we welcome them if they are ready to generate and provide power to people at the rate being charged by the PSEB. I have already put forth my view about privitisation before the Chief Minister.”

He said arrears amounting to crores were due towards various government departments, including the police. “We have already informed the office of the Chief Secretary about this and we hope to get the amount soon,” he said, adding that power theft worth Rs 20-22 crore was detected by the enforcement teams of the board during the past year.

Talking about the delay in corruption cases against the employees, he said:"I am for the speedy disposal of corruption cases. Apart from the ADGP(PSEB), we have our own wing to tackle corruption in the board and I don’t see any conflict between the office of the ADGP and the board wing.”

The board felt that sugar mills and other industrial units with power generation potential should become self-sustained by generating power. “We can provide technical knowhow to such units. Moreover, the PSEB is in the process of setting up small power generation units of 10-12 MW capacity where power can be produced by utilising paddy husk. One such unit is running successfully at Jalkheri in Patiala district,” he said.


Hundreds of employees awaiting salaries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Hundreds of government employees in Punjab continue to suffer as they have not been paid salaries for the past over two months. The salaries of these employees working in various departments have been stopped because of the indifferent attitude of their superiors in completing the required official formalities.

According to information available, 40,000 teachers and employees in the Education Department, 3,500 in the Animal Husbandry Department, 1,000 in the Health Department, besides a few others are among those who have not been paid their salaries so far. Sources in the Finance Department attribute this to the information supplied by these departments regarding their employees not tallying with the records already available with them. The department had asked all the departments to furnish details about the status of the employees working with them, their present place of posting and the place from where they were drawing their salaries. The department has made it clear that salaries for these months would be released only for those departments who would furnish the details sought.

More than 3,500 employees of the Punjab Animal Husbandry Department have not received the salaries, including the drawing and disbursement officer, treasurer, a blind employee, widows and lower-level employees. The officials simply pacify them by writing to the Finance Department asking them to release their salaries. Of the 6,800 employees working in this department, 50 per cent have not received any salaries for November till date.

Employees working in the Sector 17 head office told TNS that they were suffering for no fault of theirs. Even as they have put in decades of service, the Finance Department was not releasing their salaries on the grounds of their service being temporary. This has made their financial position so weak that they are not even in a position to seek loan or credit from any financial institution.

In the absence of regular flow of income, they are finding it hard to pay their electricity, water and telephone bills and have to borrow money even to pay the school fee of their children.


Two-time PCS qualifiers appointed
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab Government has appointed Mr Rahul Gupta and Mr Sukhjit Pal Singh to the Punjab Civil Service (Executive Branch). Both were in the 1999 batch of the Punjab Civil Service which had been selected by the Punjab Public Service Commission headed by Mr Ravi Sidhu.

The government set aside the 1999 appointments after the recruitment scam was revealed. They took the test conducted by the Public Service Commission headed by Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh Sanghera in 2003-2004.

Intriguingly, they not only qualified again, but Mr Rahul Gupta even improved his overall merit from ninth in 1999 to seventh this time. Still, they were denied appointments while rest of their successful batch mates of 2003-2004 batch reported for training last year.

A first class honours in electronics from Punjab Engineering College, Rahul Gupta had completed his MBA from University Business School of Panjab University. He worked for a leading telecommunication company for three years before taking the 1999 Civil Services test.

Mr Sukhjit Pal Singh has been appointed to the PCS against the reserve category.

According to orders issued yesterday, both Mr Rahul Gupta and Mr Sukhjit Pal Singh have been asked to report to Chief Secretary’s office for assuming charge. In all probability they will get their interse seniority as had been promised by the government while holding a fresh entrance-cum-recruitment test for those who had been removed earlier because of the “recruitment scam”.

Others who were selected along with Mr Rahul Gupta and Mr Sukhjit Pal Singh have been undergoing training at the Sector 26 Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration.


Aid for tsunami victims
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 14
Tiwari Model Senior School, vice-president of the Tripari Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Rajnish Shori and president of the District Youth Congress, Mr Sanjeev Sharma today donated Rs 35,000 to the Rajiv Gandhi Welfare Relief Trust and Rs 5,000 to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the people devastated by tsunami in coastal areas of the country. The draft has been presented to the President of the Youth Congress, Punjab, Mr Raminder Aawla.

President of the Rotary Club, Mr S.C.Sharma here today informed that the club had donated Rs 21,500 for the tsunami victims and had handed over the cheque to the Local MP Preneet Kaur.

Meanwhile, members of Prem Dham Sarvhitkari Vidya Mandir organised a culture programme on the premises of the mandir and collected Rs 51,000 for the tsunami victims.


BJP, RSS collect 48,000 for tsunami victims
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 14
The local units of the BJP and the RSS on Wednesday collected funds for tsunami affected. They went door to door in the main market and collected money by demanding Lohri from shopkeepers.

They collected Rs 48,000. This was stated in a press note issued by Mr Ranbir Bhushan.

The money has been sent to the Prime Minister Relief Fund.

Mr Makhan Sharma, President of the Municipal Committee said his staff had contributed one-day salary for the relief fund.

Employees of the local Punjab National Bank have also contributed one-day salary for the tsunami affected.


PTDC to wind up in Punjab, too
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) after having wound its operations in other parts of the country, is in the final stages of closure in Punjab also. As part on the ongoing proceedings, the corporation has offered voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to all its employees and officials after collecting details about their property.

Official sources said that the corporation has shot a letter asking all its employees/officials working in various tourist complexes across the state to furnish details about their property in the next 15 days. The state government had decided to wind up the business of the corporation as it happened to be among the loss-making units. The corporation is planning to dispose off the property of all its 17 tourist complexes in the state and wants to do away with the 400 employees working in them. Fifty of these have already been packed off after they were offered VRS.

A senior official of the corporation confirmed that VRS was being offered to the remaining employees also and the same would be done after the property details were received. Following this, these properties would be auctioned. The process may take about an year, he added.

The recent developments have created panic among the employees who are even thinking in terms of transferring their property in the name of their children or spouses.

The Managing Director of the corporation, Mr Jagjit Puri, said there was no connection between offering of VRS and asking for their property returns. Since the corporate office had received complaints that some of the employees possessed assets beyond their known sources of income and had even purchased property in the names of their family members, they have been asked to furnish the necessary details. The same is not being done for the purpose of VRS. However, the properties would be disposed off as per the directions of the state government, he added. The employees who were offered VRS earlier would be shortly paid their dues.


107 posts of medical officer vacant in Ferozepore
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad January 14
Out of 219 sanctioned posts of medical officer in Ferozepore, District, more than 107 posts of medical officer and many posts of paramedical staff were lying vacant, according to Dr Birander Paul Singh, Civil Surgeon. He was talking to The Tribune at the closing ceremony of a free eye camp organised by the Dairy Union and Friends Club here yesterday.

Dr Singh admitted that most of the dispensaries in rural areas were without any doctor, but added that in these dispensaries at least a pharmacist had mandatory been posted so that the minimum required medical facility could be provided to the people.

The Civil Surgeon revealed that there were only four gynaecologists posted in the entire district and a number of main hospitals were without this facility.

He acknowledged that nearly 50 per cent vacancies in the district had adversely affected the medical services of rural areas more than in the urban areas.

Addressing a gathering, Dr Singh said that despite a scarcity of medical staff, the doctors had been posted in such a manner that medical facility reached the maximum people. 


Ex-informer’s detention kicks up row

Jalandhar, January 14
The alleged picking up of a former police informer from his Daultpuri locality house yesterday by the Jalandhar police and not showing him as duly arrested has kicked up a row, with the police maintaining that the accused had run away ,while leaving behind four 100 gm packets of smack after being signalled to stop at a naka near the PAP complex here. Sunil Mehta was allegedly picked up by a police team from his Daulatpuri locality residence in the wee hours, sources said.

However, the police says Sunil Mehta fled leaving behind his car when signalled to stop at a naka near the PAP complex. The police, which has registered an FIR against Sunil Mehta, maintains that the search of the vehicle led to the recovery of smack, the market price of which was about Rs 1.5 lakh.

The family members of Sunil Mehta, however, alleged that he was picked up in the wee hours from his house while he was asleep. Highly placed police sources revealed that Sunil was detained by police officials and had not run away as was being projected. “He was being questioned,” revealed an official on condition of anonymity. Sunil Mehta, who has reportedly been denying his involvement in any criminal activity, it is learnt, had been working as an informer of the police in the past and was said to be behind the recovery of large amounts of illicit liquor belonging to alleged liquor mafia of the city. — TNS


Police effects Samra’s arrest in 4 cases
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 14
The police has effected the arrest of Gurwinder Singh Samra, presently in the judicial custody, in four criminal cases registered against him about two years back. According to the police, these criminal cases were registered against him under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC for cheating and criminal breach of trust on the complaints of Darshan Singh of Kamalke village in Moga, Jagir Kaur of Mokel village in Bhogpur, Balwinder Singh of Daulewala village in Zira and Paramjit Singh of Bhushan Shah Basti in Jalalabad.

Samra was arrested following registration of a case under Sections 420, 469, 501 and 506 of the IPC at police Division No 6 on August 9 last year. Later, he was remanded in the judicial custody in the case. During the course of investigation of the cases registered at the Kartarpur police station, the police sought Samra’s custodial interrogation to effect his arrest.


LBP to kick off drive against toll tax

Takhtupura, January 14
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) today came out against what it termed as “open loot” at three toll tax barriers on the Ludhiana-Delhi road and announced to hold a conference at the Doraha barrier on February 5 to sensitize common man on the issue. The party president, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, made this announcement at the party’s conference on the occasion of Maghi Mela here.

Addressing a rally, Mr Ramoowalia stated that the firm having the contract of these barriers was “looting” Rs 490 crore annually. He said that about 46,000 vehicles took this route daily and Rs 250 each was being charged as toll tax, an amount unheard of in any part of the world.

He said that the LBP would practise the politics of serving people. He said that the party had raised issues relating to farmers, Dalits, NRIs, girls ditched by NRIs and youths languishing in foreign jails.

He said the party had set a target of enrolling five lakh new members till June 30, of which 700 would be made office-bearers at various levels. The party also planned to have its units in 35 countries.

Expressing concern for tsunami victims, he announced that the party was sending a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

Mr Ramoowalia lamented that the Punjab Government did nothing to provide succour to women ditched by NRI grooms. He said the government had also failed to act strictly against travel agents and NRIs involved in such cases.

He said that he had given a letter signed by 60 MPs to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in this connection, but still the government had done nothing on this issue. He sought clarification from the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard.


Flying restarts at Jalandhar Club
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 14
Flying restarted today at the Jalandhar Flying Club which is housed in the aviation field here after a direction to this effect by Punjab Civil Aviation Director Rakesh Chandra.

Flying had come to a grinding halt at the club after its Chief Flying Instructor. Capt S.S. Kang. was allegedly caught accepting a bribe during a Tehelka sting operation. He was pictured accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000 for issuing a student pilot licence (SPL) and promising help to obtain a commercial pilot licence (CPL), even though he denied the charge saying the Rs 50,000 was accepted as due fee from the student. The State Civil Aviation Department, after suspending Capt Kang in mid-December, had given charge of the club to Capt G.S. Mangat of the Ludhiana Flying Club.

Though Capt Mangat had taken charge of the club here, flying could not be restarted. Sources said when this fact was brought to the notice of the Director, Civil Aviation, who directed that flying should be restarted at the club.


Youth murdered; mother, brother injured
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, January 14
A youth was murdered with a sword and his mother and brother received serious injuries during a brawl at Mundi village of Bhulath late last evening. While the youth, Makha, succumbed to injuries at Maqsoodan Hospital in Jalandhar last night, the mother, Ms Jasvir Kaur, and brother, Swaran Singh, are still admitted to Begowal Civil Hospital.

Makha was attacked by his neighbours with sharp-edged weapons who wanted to take revenge with him over a quarrel. The neighbour’s son had felt demeaned during an incident in the same morning when he was stopped by Makha while the former passed some remarks over the latter’s sister.

Bulath police station has registered a case against nine persons, including four women, on the complaint of the father of the deceased, Mr Piara Singh.


Brothers killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 14
Joginder Singh (45) and Jaswinder Singh (38), both sons of Mr Dalbir Singh of Monak village, died on the spot when the motor cycle (PB-21A-8102) on which they were going from Mukerian to their village, was hit by a jeep (DL-3C-411) today. Both were employees of a sugar mill.

The police has registered a case against Deepak Sethi of Pathankot, driver of the jeep.

In another accident, an unidentified person died on the spot when an unidentified vehicle hit him near Nangal Shaheedan village last night.


Cops deployed as tension mounts in school
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 14
The police has been deployed to avert a clash between two factions of teachers and students over the transfer of a maths teacher at Government Elementary School in Government Seed Farm Colony early this week. The colony which is inhabited by tenants has a separate panchayat.

According to information, the District Education Office (Elementary) had shifted Mr Ashwani Bajaj, a maths teacher who had been with Government Elementary School for eight years, to Dutarawali village on the Seeto road, about 14 km from here. He had also been working as in charge of the school.

The transfer has sparked off an agitation by the students of the primary and middle classes who boycotted the classes, staged a dharna, and held a demonstration to express their resentment over the transfer of a “dedicated and devoted” teacher.

Initially, a senior woman teacher took over the charge but a day later, Mr Ramesh Kumar was posted to fill the vacancy.

The Sarpanch, while justifying the transfer, said he had sent a recommendation to the DEO after receiving numerous complaints from women teachers about Mr Bajaj behaviour. He had humiliated them on various pretexts, they had alleged.

Mr Bajaj, however, denied the charges and said some teachers had been coming late and were violating the service code of conduct.

The rival faction alleged that the agitation by the students was stage- managed by Mr Bajaj and his friends. The students reportedly removed bricks from the boundary wall of the school, broke them and pelted the same on classrooms where the teachers were teaching some “loyal” students.

As tension mounted, the students were denied entry in the school. They were found preparing for their annual examination, scheduled after a fortnight, in the gurdwara of the village.

As the panchayat and the teachers feared more trouble, the authorities today deployed half a dozen police constables in the school complex, sources said. 


B.Ed college at Gurdaspur approved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 14
Dr S.S. Johal, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Punjab, has said courses of study and the syllabi of the universities of the state should be as per the requirement of the international market.

Addressing the meeting of the Academic Council here today, he said universities must lay more stress on providing facilities to the rural, and needy students. He said the educational institutions should come forward to grant more benefits to the underprivileged classes of society.

He said higher education had become very expensive. He appealed the managements of the educational institutions to take care of the financial background of the needy students while revising the fee structure.

The Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr S.P. Singh, who chaired the meeting, said to fulfil the statutory stipulation of raising the educational standards of backward classes, the university had made a provision of five extra seats in each course for meritorious but needy students.

He said a provision for tuition and examination fees, hostel charges and even scholarships had been made for such students. A similar provision had also been made in colleges affiliated to the university, he added.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university had also launched an "earn while learn" scheme for providing financial assistance to the deserving students. He said central and departmental libraries, hostels, laboratories, sports, printing press etc were the places of work where students could work and get money. Examinations, scrutiny and decoding were the other job areas that had been identified.

The Academic Council accorded its approval to establish a B.Ed college on its regional campus at Gurdaspur from the academic session 2005-06. The meeting also approved the syllabi, outlines of tests and courses of various subjects.

Dr Jagrup Singh Sekhon, Head of the Political Science Department, urged the state government to resume free transport facility for students from the rural areas.


NSS volunteers exhorted to create AIDS awareness
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 14
The Punjabi University Dean Academic, Dr S.P.S. Virdi, today exhorted the NSS volunteers and programme officers to dedicate their efforts towards social service, AIDS awareness, environmental programmes and women empowerment.

Presiding over the annual meeting of the University Advisory Committee on NSS, Dr Virdi sought to arouse the social consciousness of the students through the NSS and to provide them an opportunity to work with the people on the educational campuses creatively and constructively.

Dr B.S. Sandhu, Dean Students Welfare, pleaded for the involvement of NSS volunteers in the youth leadership training programmes.

Among the major decisions taken at the meeting were integration of the NSS with the curriculum, incentives for NSS volunteers, synergising with various NGOs and involvement of the NSS in the disaster management and national integration programmes.

Mr S.K. Sawhney, Deputy Programme Adviser, NSS, Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, while commending the AIDS Awareness Programmes of the NSS, announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh on behalf of his ministry for the HIV-AIDS Counselling Centre of Punjabi University.

Col Manjit Singh, Group Commandant of the NCC, underlined the need to organise combined NCC and NSS camps for community service.

Mr Yogesh Agarwal, Managing Director of the State Bank of Patiala, while appreciating the work of the NSS volunteers of Punjabi University, offered funds under the community services banking programmes.

The Dean Academic Affairs presented a memento to Mr Agarwal on behalf of the university.

The principals of the colleges who participated in the discussion included Dr Madhu Chitkara, Dr Jarnail Singh, Dr Harbir Singh Kathuria, Prof T.S. Sohi, Mrs Nirmal Kalsi and Dr J.S. Anand. The student leaders, Jenus Pannu and Karan Raj Singh, thanked the Chairman for granting duty lectures and weightage for the NSS camps.


Milkfed to export milk products worth Rs 15 cr
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 14
Milkfed, Punjab, will export milk products worth Rs. 15 crore to the Arab countries in the current year against the export of milk products worth Rs 12 crore in 2004. Mr Vikas Partap, Managing Director, Milkfed, Punjab, who was here to preside over the function organised in connection with the bonus distribution to the members of the milk producer cooperative society, Nathana town, said to meet the increasing demand of milk products in the Arab countries, the export quantity had been increased.

Milkfed had installed a tetrapacking plant in Chandigarh through which milk could be preserved for six months. He said the consumption of preserved liquid milk would be encouraged in the country.

He said 80 bulk cooling units with the capacity to store about 2000 liters of milk would be installed in the next two years for the 6,500 milk producer cooperative societies that had been working in Punjab. While in about 100 cooperative societies, these units had already been installed.

Mr Partap said Milkfed had decided to directly purchase milk from those big producers of milk who were not willing to join cooperative societies.

The milk unions, which were related to different milk plants and had been running into losses, would be given financial help of Rs 4 to 5 crore through the rehabilitation scheme of the government.

The bonus of about Rs 95,000 for the financial year 2002-03 was distributed to members of the Nathana Milk producer cooperative society at the function.

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