P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CMs of 2 Punjabs may go together
to US for Baisakhi
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Chief Ministers of two Punjabs — Capt Amarinder Singh and Ch Pervaiz Elahi — may be travelling together to North America from April 8 to 18 this year to participate in Baisakhi celebrations in all major towns, says Mr Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, a US-based NRI.

“This will help further in strengthening the movement of friendship between two Punjabs as North America has significant population of Indian and Pakistani diaspora. We often get together at social functions. But the presence of two Chief Ministers will have a positive impact in bringing the two overseas communities together,” feels Mr Bajwa, currently on a tour of India.

“Next week I will be in Pakistan and call on Ch Pervaiz Elahi and extend to him invitation to join the Baisakhi celebrations,” says Mr Bajwa, hoping that the visit of Capt Amarinder Singh to North America would also act as a catalyst to attract NRI investment in Punjab.

“Though the Chief Minister and members of his Council of Ministers made a fervent appeal to Punjabi NRIs during the Parvasi Bharti Divas in Mumbai to come and invest in their home state, we want him to come visit us. We want the Punjab Government to set up trade and tourism centres in North America from where NRIs could get the latest information about investment opportunities available in Punjab,” he said.

Mr Bajwa, who originally belongs to Patiala, had his schooling in Chandigarh at St John’s before immigrating to the US in 1979.

Mr Bajwa, who is Vice-President of Indian National Overseas Congress, say that some of the NRIs were skeptic about promises made from time to time but were not honoured. For example, he said, the Punjab Government promised to promise NRIs as nambardars in villages. But it did not happen even after more than a year.

“Dual citizenship is welcome. But citizenship without political rights means nothing. Take the example of Israel where the President came from the US after living there for 30 years. Why not allow NRIs to participate in the political process of the country to give them a sense of security and equality,” asserted Mr Bajwa.

He said that NRIs, especially those in the USA, were doing their best for the country by supporting and partially funding India Caucus which has now 103 Congressmen, both of Republicans and Democrats.

Mr Vikramjit Bajwa, who unsuccessfully contested California Governor’s election against Mr Arnold Schwazangger, feels that Indian community in USA was still keeping itself aloof from the political system there. Except for gurdwara elections, where they spend lakhs of dollars, they refuse to get into political process. “My effort was to make them move from gurdwaras to get assimilated in the local political system as well. Now I have set my next target to Congress election in 2007,” said Mr Bajwa.

Mr Bajwa said that he was also keen to seek a long- term solution to major problem of NRI grooms and bridegrooms leaving their spouses back home. “It is something which is affecting the whole community. There is a large community of Indian immigrants whose applications for political asylum are pending. They are also responsible to a large extent for this problem as they cannot sponsor their spouses till their cases are settled.”


Subcommittee on education reforms
dies second death

Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 18
The term of the subcommittee on education reforms in the state, “reconstituted” by the Punjab Government in August, last year, expired once again without holding any meeting.

Interestingly, the member secretary, who was supposed to convene meetings of the subcommittee, was ignorant about its constitution or existence.

In March, last year, the Punjab Government had constituted the subcommittee headed by former Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Prof R.P. Bhamba. It had 10 members.

Since the subcommittee had not been provided with any infrastructure, the chairman had refused to continue as its head. Moreover, the Planning Department was also not found cooperative.

It was at the assurance of providing facilities to the committee by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that the chairman had accepted to continue. But even the Chief Minister’s assurance did not yield dividends.

After the term of the subcommittee expired in June, last year, the Planning Department reconstituted it with Prof Bhamba as its chairman.

This time, the department reportedly ensured that all technicalities were fulfilled. While the earlier committee had 10 members, six more members were added to it in the second term.

The Director General of the School Education (DGSE) was made its member secretary, who was supposed to convene meetings and give fortnightly reports to the Planning Department.

But again the subcommittee did not hold any meeting. Surprisingly, no member had been informed about its constitution. Even the member secretary and the DGSE did not have any idea about its existence. The DGSE refused to give any comments on the issue to The Tribune saying that the issue could be raised with the Education Secretary.

The notification makes it clear that “the DGSE, being member secretary of the committee, will convene meetings of the Education Reforms Subcommittee and submit the report fortnightly to the Planning Department”.

The subcommittee was supposed to submit a detailed report to the government on or before the date of its expiry.

Mr A.R. Talwar, who had issued the notification for the reconstitution of the subcommittee as the secretary planning, had clarified that it could not be provided any infrastructure in the first term since there was no member secretary who could convene the meetings.

During the second term, the lacunae had been removed and the DGSE had been made member secretary. But even then the committee could not hold any meeting.

One of the members of the committee, Professor Sharma was bitter in his comment: “It was only a rumour that the subcommittee had been reconstituted as none of the members had been informed about it.”

He said he had confirmed from some other members also and nobody had received any information about its reconstitution although it had been notified in the Punjab Government Gazette on August 23, 2004.


Chathewala case: farmers withdraw stir
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 18
Kisan bodies have withdrawn their decision to send farmer’s jathas to Chathewala village from tomorrow to check January-20 auction of a peasant’s land following cancellation of the auction.

Disclosing this here this afternoon, Mr Lehmber Singh Taggar, general secretary,Punjab Kisan Sabha, said the decision to call off agitation was taken in the emergency meeting of the Joint Kisan Manch comprising Punjab Kisan Sabha, Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) and Kisan Sangharsh Committee, spearheading struggle since long against the proposed auction of the land of a marginal farmer, Balwant Singh.

However, the manch, through a resolution, demanded a legislation for banning any move to auction land of any debt-trapped farmer. It asked the Punjab Government to bring forth such a legislation without any further delay.

The meeting also demanded be withdrawal of “false” cases against farmers who had been taking part in Chathewala as well as other kisan struggles.

Farmer Balwant Singh and Raman, Mandi-based arhtiya Ram Kumar called it a truce yesterday, leading to the cancellation of the auction of the land. A marginal farmer Roop Singh of Chathewala village owed some money to commission agent Ram Kumar. After he failed to clear the debt,the farmer was reportedly compelled by Ram Kumar to transfer his 10 kanals of land to Balwant Singh, another client of the arhtiya, on December 3, 1999.

The commission agent procured a blank promissory note from Balwant Singh in lieu of the land transferred in his name. Ram Kumar kept the power of attorney of the land with him, which was required for land mutation. Balwant Singh also failed to take the possession of the land due to objections by the villagers,who advised him not to play in the hands of the arhtiya.

Later, Ram Kumar got a fraud case registered against both the farmers. They had to undergo imprisonment in the case.

On the basis of the blank promissory note,the commission agent filed a court case for recovery of Rs 4.39 lakh debt from Balwant Singh. The court ordered the auction of 35 kanals of land belonging to Balwant Singh to recover the money.


Ajnala byelection
SAD nominee for Ajnala on Jan 20
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
Former Chief Minister and President, SAD Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while accusing both Centre and state Congress governments of destroying the agriculture in Punjab under a conspiracy, said his party would make this an election issue in Haryana Assembly elections and in Ajnala bypoll in Punjab.

Mr Badal, who was here today to attend a function, said under the conspiracy the Congress governments at the Centre and Punjab had closed spinning mills and disposed these of. Now, the Congress government was planning to disposed of cooperative sugar mills and it would give a major set-back to sugarcane growers.

Apart from it, the Punjab Government had failed to sell its sugar stock in the market despite the fact that sugar prices had gone up. It had also failed to protect the interest of potato growers. He added that if this trend continued, the farmers would be on streets with begging bowls in their hands.

He said SAD would announce its candidate for Ajnala bypoll on January 20. He added that though the ruling Congress would make all efforts to win the Ajnala by-poll, his party would oppose all misdeeds of Congress leaders. The SAD would also oppose the Congress leaders attempts to woo the voters by the use of money power.

Earlier, a section of residents of trans-railway colonies submitted a memorandum to Mr Badal urging him to use his influence for constructing a way under the overbridge connecting the main city with the trans-railway colonies.


3 SGPC men to campaign for Cong in Ajnala
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18
Three SGPC members today flagged off a caravan of Congress leaders from the local District Congress Committee (rural) office here, who left for Ajnala amid slogans of ‘’Bole so Nihal’’. They would campaign in the coming byelection, scheduled to be held on February 23.

Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, DCC (Rural) President, said this was for the first time that SGPC members would openly campaign for Congress candidate.

The SGPC members, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu, Mr Shingara Singh Jodhsinghwala and Mr Jagjit Singh Bhullar (all from Amritsar district), said they would expose the alleged partisan role of the Sikh clergy who had become the ‘’rubber stamp’’ of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal.

When asked that the Congress had been criticising the Akali Dal for mixing religion with politics, the SGPC members said there was no harm to campaign for the Congress which had given so much to the Sikhs.

Meanwhile, the DCC (Rural) has sent a panel of five probable candidates to the party high command for the Ajanala byelection. They are Mr Harpartap Singh, his elder brother Major Rajbir Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh Chhina, security officer, Guru Nanak Dev University, Mr Ravi Rajbir Singh and Mr Ajaib Singh Bagga.


SGPC employees’ certificates to be scrutinised
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18
The SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has directed the secretary, Shiromani Committee, to scrutinise certificates and personal files of all employees so that action could be taken against those who had got employment on the basis of ‘bogus certificates’.

Talking to TNS on telephone today, Bibi Jagir Kaur said she was shocked to learn that Giani Puran Singh, who had been removed from the post of Head Granthi, Golden Temple, on January 14, had submitted no academic certificate on the basis of which he had got the job.

She said Giani Puran Singh was removed on the basis of a ‘simple list’ available with the Manager, Darbar Sahib, where he had served as a priest for a long period. ‘It is shocking that nobody bothered to scrutinise the personal files of such employees so far’, she said .

Earlier, Mr Harbeant Singh was sacked from the post of secretary, SGPC, for getting the job on the basis of a ‘bogus certificate’ of matriculation. She said there might be more employees who had got jobs on the basis of ‘fake certificates’.


Councillor takes oath after 8-month wait
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 18
After a wait of over eight months, Municipal Councillor Paramjeet Kaur was finally administered oath of office following the verdict of Punjab and Haryana High Court in her favour.

Talking to The Tribune today, MLA Malkeet Singh Keetu (SAD) while expressing happiness said they would take up the issue of “victimisation” of the councillor at the party forum.

He said he would also raise the issue of filing a suit in Punjab and Haryana High Court against her “victimisation” with party president Parkash Singh Badal.

Paramjeet Kaur, wife of Santokh Singh Sanghera, contested the MC elections from ward No. 2 on March 9, 2003. But her main rival, Amarjeet Kaur, lodged a protest with the Returning Officer during the counting of votes.

Later, the counting of votes was conducted on the directions of the High Court. Paramjeet Kaur secured 1,635 votes, while Amarjeet Kaur managed to get only 22 votes.

The High Court finally ordered the local administration to administer the oath of office to Paramjeet Kaur as elected councillor from ward No. 2 on April 26, 2004.

Thereafter, Paramjeet approached SDM Jora Singh Thind to administer oath to her, but to no avail. According to her, they requested the SDM and MC’s executive officer K.S. Brar for the implementation of the High Court order on a number of occasions, but they delayed it on one pretext or the other.

Finally, Paramjeet Kaur approached Deputy Commissioner Hussan Lal on January 3 and threatened legal action against the officials concerned if the oath was not administered to her.

The DC issued an order to the SDM the same day for administering oath to the councillor. But the SDM office received the communication after 10 days.

Paramjeet Kaur was finally administered oath last evening in the presence of MC president Makhan Sharma and Malkeet Singh Keetu.


KLF militant alleges forcible confession
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
A dreaded Khalistan Liberation Force(KLF) militant, Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who has been awarded death penalty by the Supreme Court in a case related to the attack on the former Indian Youth Congress(IYC) chief, Mr MS Bitta, today alleged that his confession was forcibly recorded by the Delhi Police.

Talking to reporters outside the District Courts here today, Bhullar alleged that a team of the Delhi Police, led by the then DCP, Mr BS Bhola, forced him to own responsibility for the terrorist attack outside the IYC Office in New Delhi on September 11,1993. This confession was later used by the police to build up a "fabricated" case against him in a TADA Court, he alleged.

Meanwhile,the District and Sessions Judge, Mr HS Bhalla, today fixed February 25 as the date for the consideration of charges in another case relating to attack on the former Chandigarh SSP, Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, in 1991.

Counsel for Davinder, who was brought on production warrant by the local police from the Tihar Jail and produced in the court amid tight security, claimed he had later retracted from the confessional statement. However, since the police confession was admissible in the TADA Court he was sentenced on the basis of the confessional statement.

Later, a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, through a majority decision, had awarded him death penalty. Thereafter, his mother had moved a mercy petition to the President of India for condoning the death penalty and it is reportedly still pending with the Union Home Ministry.

Alleging his framing in the Saini attack case, counsel said this had been done to prevent him from pursuing the case of his missing father, allegedly at the instance of the Punjab Police.

Counsel also alleged that his religious sentiments were hurt when he was not allowed to wear turban and "patka" inside the Vikaspuri Police Station in New Delhi last night.

In may be recalled that addressing a press conference here on August 24 last year, Mr Bitta had alleged that efforts were being made to get the death penalty of Bhullar converted into life imprisonment by the "vested interests."

In a representation to the President to expedite a decision on mercy petition of Bhullar, Mr Bitta had demanded a CBI inquiry into the "delaying tactics" adopted by the Home Ministry in forwarding the Bhullar's file to the President.

He had also flayed the reported statements of the Union Ministers, Mr Hans Raj Bhardwaj and Mr Kapil Sibal that the government had no objection if Bhullar's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.


Teachers to turn chefs, thanks to admn
Mid-day Meal Scheme put on hold in some schools
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Nihalsinghwala, January 18
The Midday Meal Scheme, which had lost steam midway, has been discontinued in some primary schools of the tehsil owing to the administration’s new proposal to provide fresh cooked food to these students.

Sources said students had not been provided meals, which mostly constituted of biscuits and “marunda” etc., for the past one week.

While the administration is busy working out the new system, teachers are feeling the heat, as, according to them, they would end up cooking food and managing utensils everyday.

“The administration’s move would hit studies hard, especially now when exams are round the corner,” said a primary school teacher on the condition of anonymity.

Sources said the administration had issued orders to all primary schools in this regard. Teachers, who had seen the copy of the order, said they had no clue regarding arrangement of stove and utensils.

They said the scheme of providing items like biscuits was good, as contractor used to deliver it to them and they had to just distribute it among students.

“We used to get seven biscuits daily, at times even eight, but for the past one week we hadn’t received anything,” said a group of students at the local Government Primary School.

Regarding benefits of the scheme, teachers said they could not say anything about the increase in admissions as they were yet to start, but there had been a marginal increase in the attendance following the resumption of the scheme.

A teacher said some parents had even objected to the scheme saying their children got good food at homes and they were sent to the school just to study.

“Cooking stuff like rice and kidney beans is not our cup of tea. Moreover, it would consume a lot of time and divert our attention from teaching,” he said.

A few teachers seemed to have compromised with what is in store for them. “If the administration wants us to don the chef’s cap, we will since we have to follow its orders,” said a woman teacher of a Government Primary School.

The DEO, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, said a meeting of Block Education Officers was held on January 13 in which they were asked to continue the scheme as per the old plan till the new plan was chalked out.

The Nihalsinghwala BEO also denied that the scheme had been discontinued in any of the schools.


IT Dept conducts surveys of 10 premises
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
More than 10 teams of income tax sleuths today conducted surveys of about 10 premises, including a jewellery shop, two schools, a junk shop and a tent house, to find out whether they had evaded income tax or not.

The surveys by the teams, led by senior officials of the rank of Additional Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and Income Tax Officers, which was started around 11 am has been continuing till the filing of this report.

Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, who had been monitoring the outcome of the surveys, talking to TNS, said the surveys would come to an end by late evening today. He added that some surveys had finished early while some had taken a considerable time. He added that the officials of the Income Tax Department, deployed in Muktsar, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Mansa and this district, were put to carry out surveys.

He said the premises, which were surveyed by the teams included the business premises of Sheehmahal Developers, Silver Oak schools located on the Bibiwala Road and Barnala bypass road, Super Industry, a diesel generator manufacturing unit, Super Steel, Super Jeweller, Guru Nanak Tent House and the business premises of Mr Jeet Ram Jhumba, a scrap dealer.

The main purpose of the surveys was that the authorities wanted to know about the fact whether sheeshmahal Developers had recorded the sale of scrap of that old industry into their books or not.

Mr Nayyar pointed out that it would take considerable time to analyse the business transactions of all business firms where the surveys were conducted.

He said some surveys, which were conducted on the premises of those who had been dealing in the real estate business, had yielded a considerable amount and during the last financial year, the department had collected Rs 10 crore more as revenue as compared to the previous years.


CM on persuasion mission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who is scheduled to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands on January 20 and 21, will be having very difficult task to handle there.

Sources said Sikh ex-servicemen and other Punjabis settled in and around Campbell Bay wanted to shift to Punjab. They had made a request in this connection to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who had visited the tsunami-hit islands early this month.

The Prime Minister, according to the sources, has asked Capt Amarinder Singh to somehow convince such ex-servicemen to stay back and assure them that the government is there to help them.

The Union Government had allotted land to these ex-servicemen in 1969. Not only Punjabis, but a good number of ex-servicemen from other states are also reportedly settled there. The Union Government wanted that these people should live there as it would be in the interest of the country from the security point of view. Once, the exodus starts from Campbell Bay area, then there will be no end.

Accompanied be Revenue Minister Amarjit Singh Samra, who holds the Relief and Rehabilitation portfolio and his Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar, Capt Amarinder Singh will meet Lieut-Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Ram Kapse and Chief Secretary R.B. Bhatt on January 21. He will also meet senior Army officers.

The next day the Chief Minister will visit Campbell Bay and other affected areas and meet Punjabi ex-servicemen. Only after a detailed interaction with them will the Punjab Government prepare a plan for starting the rehabilitation work in the affected areas assigned by the Prime Minister to Punjab.


PSEB to schedule power cuts
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
After more than a fortnight of unscheduled power cuts, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to schedule them even as power availability in the state is showing no signs of improvement in the near future.

Board Chairman Y.S. Ratra is expected to preside over a meeting in this regard tomorrow. The board is expected to schedule power cuts for the rural and urban consumers as well as the industrial sector.

Presently rural consumers are facing a power cut of 14 to 16 hours even as important cities are going without power for as many as four hours. Small towns and mandis are facing power cuts of eight to 10 hours. The industrial sector is facing four to five hour power cuts.

The PSEB is buying 200 lakh units of power daily but this purchase is not enough to cater to the power demand. Even though consumption of power presently is less than last year, the board is facing problems because of non-availability of power. The board used to traditionally buy power from the South in the winters with more than 800 MW watts of power available daily from this region. Tenders for power purchase which were opened in December last year disclosed a power availability of only 200 MW in the region due to the failure of winter rain in South India.

Sources said the board was exploring other banking arrangements so that more power could be purchased to meet the demand position. Though it has arranged for power purchase for the first quarter of the year, negotiations are being initiated to increase power purchase in the summer months when the demand will increase manifold.


PSEB employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 18
Hundreds of employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) under the leadership of Mr Harbans Singh, district convener of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, today staged a protest dharna and held a rally near the office of the Deputy Commissioner here demanding the withdrawal of case registered against 12 PSEB employees by the Malerkotla police on the complaint of the Vigilance authorities on August 21,2004.

Mr Avinash Sharma, secretary, PSEB Employees Joint Forum, Sangrur Circle, said the case had been registered against the PSEB employees by the Vigilance authorities on the charge of creating obstruction in the performance of their duties on August 21,2004, when they had gone to 66 KV Grid Colony, Malerkotla, in connection with an alleged corruption case against Balwinder Kumar Singla, SDO, PSEB, Malerkotla.

Mr Sharma said after seeing that some persons had been “misbehaving” with Balwinder Kumar Singla and his family, some employees, present on duty and living in the colony, went there with an intention of resolving the dispute, but when the employees had been informed by the Vigilance authorities that they were the members of a Vigilance team, the employees preferred not to interfere in the functioning of the Vigilance team. However, the Vigilance authorities later registered a case against 12 employees, he added.

On August 21, 2004, Mr Balwinder Kumar Singla, SDO, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on the charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from the owners of a factory at Malerkotla.

Almost all speakers while addressing the dharna criticised the Vigilance authorities for getting a case registered against the PSEB employees by saying that these employees had not created any obstruction in the performance of the duty by the Vigilance team.

They claimed that the members of the forum had met the district administration several times to get the case withdrawn, but to no avail. They warned the administration that if the case against the employees was not withdrawn, the agitation would be intensified.

The dharna was addressed among others by Mr Harbans Singh, district convener of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum, Mr Kaur Singh, leader of the PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC), Mr Mohinder Singh Kala, leader of the Technical Services Union, Mr R.M. Bansal, leader of the Council of Junior Engineers, Mr Inderjit Singh Dhillon, and Mr Bharpur Singh, leader of the Ministerial Staff Union.


Traders hold protest against VAT
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 18
Local shopkeepers and traders protested against the proposed implementation of VAT from April 1 next by putting up small black flags on their shops and wearing black badges here today.

Mr Amarjit Singh Titu, president of local Beopar Mandal (Titu), warned the state government against the implementation of VAT from April 1 in the state. He said either the government should withdraw the proposed implementation of VAT or be ready to face an agitation by the shopkeepers and traders in Punjab.

Mr Titu said with the implementation of VAT, small shopkeepers and traders would be affected adversely.


Allegations of atrocities on Dalits ‘false’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Preliminary investigations carried out by the Punjab Police have revealed that the allegations of atrocities levelled by three Dalits were "patently false". The trio had earlier claimed that they were forced to taste urine — and insult — from the slippers of upper caste members.

Giving details of the probe carried out by Ferozepore's Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Punjab's Director-General of Police A.A. Siddiqui says the allegations were levelled following a feud between the complainants and the other party.

''The officer looking into the matter has not been able to find anything to substantiate the allegations,” Mr Siddiqui adds.


Dalits hold protest
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 18
More than 500 Dalits, led by Bahujan Samaj Party general secretary Pawan Tinu and vice-president M.P. Singh Goraya, held a demonstration and dharna at Ambedeker Chowk and blocked vehicular traffic in Nakodar in protest against indifferent attitude of the civil administration towards the Dalit community yesterday.

The demonstrators condemned the administration for ignoring their rights and for not allowing them to arrange langar on the mela at the samadh of Bhai Khazan Singh at Meham village. A protest dharna was also organised, which was addressed by several BSP leaders, including Mr M.P. Singh Goraya and Mr Pawan Tinu, who urged the administration to accept their genuine demands by February 7. They announced to hold a demonstration on February 7 at Jalandhar.


Stray cattle menace curbed

Faridkot, January 18
The district administration today claimed to have curbed the stray cattle menace in the city while handing over a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to the chief of a gaushala at Bir Sikhawala village, Baba Malkit Singh.

Municipal Council officials had agreed to pay Rs 10 per animal to the “gaushala”, besides taking the responsibility of erecting a shed and providing drinking water to stray cattle. Following this, the district administration succeeded in driving out about 600 stray cattle from the city.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, said that people from urban as well as rural areas had extended their help in making this drive a success.

He said the rural populace was told to send stray cattle to the “gaushala” instead of pushing them into the city limits.

He told that there was a proposal to set up a “gaushala” on 30 acres of land near Tehna village.


200 examined at asthma camp
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 18
More than 200 patients were examined and given medicines free of cost at medical camp, organised at the Tajpur road here Sunday.

A number of prominent city doctors along with Lupin company and Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Sanjay Colony, had organised the camp.

Dr Pardeep Kapur, Dr Suresh Goel and Dr Rajiv Sharma from Oswal Cancer Hospital took part in the camp. The main focus was on educating the people about the asthma and its prevention and cure.


Amloh Block Samiti contributes Rs 1 lakh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 18
Mr Joginder Singh Narayangarh, member, Block Samiti, Amloh submitted a cheque worth Rs 1 lakh for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia.

The Deputy Commissioner informed that a cheque for Rs 1 lakh had already been given to him by Mrs Amrit Kaur, chairperson, Block Samiti, Khera, for tsunami victims.


Murder trial: Poohla appears in court
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 18
The controversial Nihang chief of Tarna Dal, Baba Ajit Singh Poohla, facing a number of murder, extortion, kidnapping and other cases, appeared with his armed supporters in a local court here today.

He appeared for hearing in a murder case of a Nihang, Jass Singh, who was allegedly killed by Poohla and his supporters in June, 2001 at Poohla village.

He reportedly pleaded the judge to change his lawyer, following which the court fixed January 24 as the next date of hearing.

Poohla was brought from Ludhiana Central Jail to appear before the local court.

Colonel Sandhu, chairman, Poohla Eviction Committee, alleged that supporters of the accused raised slogans outside the court and threatened the witnesses against deposing in the court.


Centre, states to sign MoU on foodgrains
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 18
The Union Government has proposed to sign Memorandum of Understanding with the state government’s on procurement of foodgrains.

The Ministry of Food and Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs has sent a draft to the states in this regard. Under this proposal, the state government’s and their agencies will cover operations of procurement and storage of foodgrains for the central pool and their handing over to the Food Corporation of India. According to the draft, the state governments and their agencies will work for and on behalf of the Government of India to procure foodgrains and make arrangements for their safe storage under scientific conditions until the stocks are delivered to the FCI. The FCI will devise a mechanism to inspect the foodgrains procured and stored with the state agencies to check that the stocks conform to prescribed specifications. The state government and agencies will not be entitled to any reimbursement of losses incurred for stocks procured below the prescribed specifications.

According to the draft, the ownership of the stocks will lie with state government and the agencies till the same are handed over to the FCI.

Contrary to the belief that the Union Government wants to get rid of the MSP (minimum support price), the draft maintains that the state government and agencies will not procure any foodgrains at prices higher or lower than the MSP declared by the government. The state agencies will be responsible for proper and scientific storage of wheat procured by them so as to ensure that the quality of stocks is maintained at the permissible standards under the TPDS (targetted public distribution system) or any other scheme until the same are delivered to the FCI. Under the MoU, the state agencies shall make their own financial arrangements to meet the procurement costs of foodgrains and the local taxes.

At present the state government gets cash credit limit (CCL) from the Reserve Bank of India for procurement of wheat and paddy every year.

For settlement of disputes between the FCI and the agencies, the Union Government will set up a committee.

Dr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Punjab, when contacted said they had sought comments from the state agencies on the issue of signing of the MoU.


MoU on booking at Katra signed
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Gurdaspur), January 18
The pilgrims from Punjab going to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine can now book accommodation in Katra town of Jammu and Kashmir at their doorsteps. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed here today between the authorities of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

As per the MoU, the board has allotted a 100-bed facility to the PTDC in its newly constructed Trikuta Bhavan building at Katra. The PTDC would open booking for these rooms in all its complexes and tourist information centres from April.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Tourism, Punjab, who presided over the function, said the booking facility would also be available online on first-come-first-serve basis. The modalities of the MoU signed between the two organisations would be completed later.

Discussion was also being held with the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to provide booking of the priority “darshan” facility to the pilgrims from Punjab at the PTDC complexes. Besides the complexes, the advance booking facility would also be available to pilgrims at the international airport in Amritsar.

Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism Jammu and Kashmir, while speaking on the occasion, said the number of tourists coming to the Mata Vashino Devi shrine had been increasing over the years. About 61 lakh tourists visited the shrine last year. The shrine board was also trying to bring private hotels of Katra within its preview. Once the exercise was completed the booking of private hotels of the area would also be provided online.

Earlier, the MoU was formally signed by the PTDC Managing Director, Mr Jagjit Puri, and Mr Rohit Kansal, ACEO, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

Later, Mr Jagjit Puri, while talking to mediapersons, said that the Punjab Government had chalked out a programme to develop the Ranjit Sagar Dam as model tourist spot. The government besides getting the project funded by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) would also invite private investment for the project. A meeting would soon be held for the development of the project.

Besides, seven new fast food joints would be developed by the PTDC, including those at Morinda, Kurali, Mohali and Sultanpur Lodhi. After the construction of the fast food joints, the government would likely lease them out to private entrepreneurs for operation and maintenance. The Department of Tourism was also planning an amusement park in the vicinity of Chandigarh, he said.

When asked about the status of the PTDC, Mr Puri said all the dues of the 44 employees who have been relieved from the organisation till date had been cleared. A payment of Rs 2 crore had been made to the workers who had been given VRS by the department.

Though Mr Kang stated that the government might retain some of the profit-making complexes of the corporation, Mr Puri declined any such possibility.

The Chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma, and the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, were also present.


105 plots allotted in ‘Suvidha’ camp
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kabirpur (Kapurthala), January 18
Under programme to provide on the spot facilities to the needy 105 plots were allotted among homeless people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and loans over Rs 20 lakh were distributed by banks among the applicants at the third “Suvidha” camp organised by the district administration at Kabirpur village today.

Documents of the plots to the persons were handed over by Mr Rakesh Verma, Deputy Commissioner. He said grievances were addressed and various facilities were provided among residents of 58 villages falling under the Kabirpur Kanungo circle during the camp, which proved to be a mobile secretariat as the entire administration had gone to their doorsteps for providing them with all those facilities for which they had to go to Kapurthala.

Twelve water connections were provided by the Village Water Supply Department, while loads of as many as 18 motors were enhanced by the PSEB. As many as 310 new ration cards and 25 duplicate ration cards were issued by the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department.

According to Mr Vinay Bublani, District Transport Officer, 132 learning licences were issued to applicants on the spot. Similarly, a number of pension cases, passport and arms licence applications were processed during the camp.

Addressing the gathering, Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, who inaugurated the camp, said such “Suvidha” camps can remove grievances of people, particularly, those belonging to the rural areas in one day.


Parishad chief suspends accountant
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 18
The Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Ropar, Ms Kuldeep Kaur, yesterday suspended her accountant for issuing cheques worth Rs 24.50 lakh without her consent to the Minister of Animal husbandry and Fishery, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, to distribute the same among villages for development works .

Mr Jagmohan Kang had given away the cheques to 24 villages for various developments works at a function held in Majri on December 26. The Chairman has also stopped payment against the cheques.

Ms Kuldeep Kaur told The Tribune that the accountant, Dharmbir, was suspended as he had issued cheques from the Zila Parishad fund without seeking her permission. Giving details, she said the Zila Parishad had received Rs 33 lakh from the administration, which was to be utilised for various development works in the district.


Murdered, then burnt in cane field
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 18
A case of murder came to light this afternoon in which a person was first murdered and then his body was set on fire in sugarcane field of nearby Khangura village.

The police recovered a badly charred body and brought it for a post-mortem to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara. The murdered person was in his twenties and bore injuries on his head, giving clear indications that he was first murdered and then dumped into the sugarcane field to destroy the evidence.

Kerosene seemed to be sprinkled on the body for burning it. Part of the sugarcane crop also got burnt in the process.

Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh, SP(D) Mr Gurmit Singh and other police officers rushed to the site.

A case under Sections 302, 201, 435, IPC, was registered against the murderer. The case was registered on a complaint of Mr Tara Singh, farmer. It was Mr Tara Singh who had noticed that a portion of his sugarcane crop was burnt and then spotted the body. The fields belonged to Mohan Singh of Palahi village.

SSP Arun Pal Singh declared that the killer would be traced.He said every effort would be made to get the body recognised.

Meanwhile, the police took into its possession the partly burnt clothes and other things of the victim.


SDO, lineman caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 18
A team of the local Vigilance Bureau caught Subdivisional Engineer Satinder Singh and lineman Tota Ram of the PSEB, Subdivision Shamchaurasi, while accepting bribe of Rs 4,000 and Rs 1,000 from a farmer of Dhode Majara, respectively, today.

According to official sources, a case under Sections 7, 2 and 13 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 1988, has been registered against them at Vigilance Police Station, Jalandhar.

DSP Ram Aasra said the arrested employees would be produced in the court tomorrow and the bureau would seek their police remand.

It is reported that farmer Avtar Singh of Dhode Majara village had filed a complaint against the SDO and lineman with the local Vigilance Bureau for allegedly demanding Rs 5,000 from him for shifting his tubewell connection from a old bore to a new one in his fields for which he had applied.


Two truckloads of wheat stolen from FCI godown
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 18
About 15 armed thieves struck at a Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown and fled with two truckloads of wheat after locking three guards on duty in a room here on Sunday night.

According to information available, at about 1.30 am unidentified thieves scaled the boundary wall of the FCI godown situated on Talwandi Road. At that time SPO Iqbal Singh and Home Guards jawans Ajaib Singh and Ranjeet Singh were on duty.

The thieves tied their hands and legs before locking them in a room. Three armed men stood outside the room, while the other thieves started loading wheat on trucks, after which they broke open the locks of the godown’s main gate and sped away.

The incident came to light when another Home Guards jawan Kewal Singh reached the godown next morning.

He traced his other colleagues who were on night duty and were reportedly thrashed by the thieves. They reported the matter to the FCI officials and the local police.

The district FCI manager said that a probe had already been ordered into the matter, while the police was investigating the matter.


Case against teacher, son
Our Correspondent

Phagwara January 18
A case under secitons 323, 341 and 506 has been registered at the Sadar police station here against a woman teacher, Ms Vijay Kumari, and her son Anurag on the charge of criminal intimidation of Rakesh Kumar,a ninth class student of Govt Senior Secondary School, Jagatpur Jattan.

However, no arrest has been made. Rakesh had to be hospitalised here after he was subjected to corporal punishment for not completing his home work .

Anurag, a tenth class student in the same school and son of the teacher, had also thrashed Rakesh outside the school the same day.


ASI commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 18
Naseeb Chand, an ASI posted at police control room, Khanna, today committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance.

According to information, Naseeb Chand, resident of local Krishna Nagar, Khanna, consumed selphos tablets this evening. He was admitted to local Civil Hospital from where he was referred to a Ludhiana Hospital. He died on the way to Ludhiana. The body was sent to Civil Hospital for post-mortem examination.


Undertrial escapes

Jalandhar, January 18
Deepak Kumar, an undertrail prisoner escaped from the custody of the Himachal Pradesh police from outside the District Court Complex here this afternoon. A resident of Shankar village in Nakodar subdivision, Deepak Kumar, presently in judicial custody of the HP police in some other case, had been facing charges here under Section 499 of the IPC. — OC


Legal opinion goes against college Principal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 18
In another setback to Dr J.S. Dhillon, Principal, B.Ed Khalsa College, the legal opinion sought by Guru Nanak Dev University regarding depositing of his son’s fee, who had got admission in the B.Tech (Electronics) course under teacher’s quota, has gone against him. He may now have to deposit full fee for the admission of his ward. The legal opinion also reads that the extraordinary leave ,granted to Dr Dhillon (during his stint as a reader in the university) was not in accordance with the varsity calendar.

Dr Harbhagvan Singh, Advocate General, Punjab, giving his opinion ,the copy of which is with The Tribune said the fee concession given to the son of Dr Dhillon was not admissible unless granted by the competent authority. He added that Dr Dhillon be charged full fee as per the university rules.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University, when contacted confirmed that the legal opinion has gone against Dr Dhillon.

The university had sought legal opinion from the Advocate General on two issues. First that he got his son Gurkeerat Singh Dhillon admitted to the B.Tech course under the NRI quota on concessional fee meant for the wards of the university employees. However, at the time of his admission in the first year, Dr Dhillon, was appointed as reader in Academic Staff College on a temporary basis.

In the other case in which the opinion was sought, Dr Dhillon had taken extraordinary leave later on when he was selected as Principal, Khalsa College of Education (B. Ed Khalsa College) being run by the Khalsa College Management Committee. On his request he was granted extra-ordinary leave for one year without pay by the then VC to enable him to join as Principal of the said college. However, Dr Dhillon was a temporary teacher and as such could not be granted extraordinary leave without pay for more than three months at a time.

Giving his opinion in the case, Dr Harbhagwan Singh said granting leave for one year in the very first instance was not in accordance with the Statutes (Calendar 1999 volume-I, part-C Statute 89 (A) regarding grant of extraordinary leave to temporary teachers).

Dr Bawa, said the matter would be taken up in the forthcoming Syndicate meeting.


ETT candidates write to Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 18
In a letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab, the students, who are willing to appear for the elementary teacher training (ETT) entrance test, have urged the authorities concerned to carry out the revision of syllabus from which the examination paper would be set.

They pointed out that the authorities concerned would conduct the entrance test by using Punjabi as a medium of instructions which would create problems for them in the science and mathematics papers. They demanded that these papers should also be set by using English as the medium of instructions.

The aspirants of the ETT entrance test, being conducted by the State Council for Education, Research and Training (SCERT) on February 27, alleged that the test was being conducted after a gap of about four years and in the same period some new chapters had been added to the syllabus of both the Punjab School Education Board and the CBSE0 and hence those applicants who had not studied those new chapters would find it difficult to attempt the questions. They have sent copies of this letter to the Punjab Education Minister and the Director, SCERT.


Teachers march barefoot to CM’s residence
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 18
In response to the call given by Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), teachers working in non-government colleges in Patiala, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Mansa and Chandigarh staged a march barefooted from the Fountain Chowk to the Chief Minister’s residence here today.

The PCCTU is demanding the immediate release of third quarter grant, merger, of 50 per cent DA with pay, solution to the problems of staff affected by shifting Plus two classes, full budget provision under 95 per cent salary deficit grant in the aid scheme, relaxation of condition of refresher courses, pension-cum-gratuity as per the scheme of 18.12.96, and the release of HRA for rural colleges.

Addressing the rally, Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, PCCTU, flayed the Punjab Government for its failure to find solution to the problems. Prof R.S.Brar, co- president of the union, cautioned the government that its anti-education policies would adversely affect the economic development of the state in the long run.

Prof. Brar said Capt Amrinder Singh that he has become Chief Minister of Punjab on the basis of the manifesto, which promised the restoration of 95 per cent quarterly deficit grant and the Pension-Gratuity scheme. The speakers also condemned the administration for creating unnecessary hurdles in the way of their democratic protest.


Teachers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 18
Members of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) today held a dharna in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor for three hours to protest against the headship issue of Department of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

The GNDUTA has been spearheading a movement to press upon the authorities to appoint Dr G S Kang as the head of department as per the University Calendar.

Dr Davinder Singh, president, GNDUTA, said that the general house had unanimously resolved not to allow any amendment to the university statues regarding the rotation of headship among professors and readers of the academic departments.


Seminar on career held
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 18
On the initiative of the Principal, Dr Hepesh Shepherd, Career Guidance, Counseling and Placement Cell (CGCPC), Baring Union Christian College, Batala, organised a seminar today on “Career in service industries” in the college for the final-year students of various streams.

Welcoming Mrs Shalini (branch head, Frankfinn Institute of Airhostess Training, Jalandhar), Mr Neeraj Sharma explained the students the need of awareness in the field of service industries.

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