P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SC, ST panel holds probe, flays police role
Villagers forced to drink urine in slippers
Raj Sadosh

Patrewala (Abohar), January 19
Mr Faquir Bhai Vaghela, Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for the SC and ST, today expressed resentment on the role of the Punjab Police in dealing with complaints of some villagers of Patrewala village in which they said had been forced to consume urine in slippers and liquor early last month.

He wondered SHO Rattan Singh had not bothered to register even an FIR though the media had reported the shameful incident.

The district authorities told Mr Vaghela that orders for shifting of the SHO to the police lines had been issued today by the SSP, Ferozepore. Mr Vaghela felt that a fair inquiry could not be possible, if the SHO was not shifted from the Khuikhera police station of the Fazilka subdivision.

Mr Vaghela reached the village today and conducted an open inquiry in the lawns of Government Senior Secondary School. Over 12 residents, including members of Rai Sikh, Mazhabi Sikh and other backward classes, narrated the incident that had brought the village again in limelight.

Mr Vaghela, assisted by Mr Tenzin Vengyal Director of the state commission, was told by the residents that some influential persons, affiliated with the ruling party, and the Sarpanch of the village, had intercepted Jangir Singh and his relatives on their way to Patrewala village. They said one resident of the Mazhabi Sikh and two of Sikriband communities were forcibly taken to the house of the Sarpanch, beaten up there, forced to consume urine in slippers and liquor. They were Naamdharis. They wanted to teach them a lesson over an altercation between the two groups of students.

The witnesses told the commission that two ASIs and SHO Rattan Singh of the Khuikhera police station had not only detained the complainants but also humiliated other members of the affected families in public and at the police station. They were allegedly forced to sign a letter of compromise under threat by the police. No officer listened to any complaints. Rather they were getting threats of life, if continued praying for justice.

However, Mr Gurdas Singh Jakhar, Sarpanch of the village, said he was present with members of his family at a cultural function held at college on that evening and had no role in the incident.

Mr Vaghela listened to three students, named in the complaint as the root cause of the incident, in a separate room.

Mr Vaghela later told newsmen that he would submit his findings in 15 days. Meanwhile the commission will recommend that the police officers, who had not handled the matter properly and tried to shield the “miscreants”, should also be booked under Section 4 of the Atrocities on Harijans Act, if they were indicted in the inquiry report.


Power shortage to continue in region
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, January 19
Power crisis in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, will continue till May due to the low generation of power in Bhakra Dam triggered by paucity of water in its reservoir. Power generation at Bhakra Dam was today reduced to 50 per cent as compared to last year due to water shortage.

Water level in Bhakra Dam has gone down by 54.41 feet in comparison to last year. The water level in Bhakra was 1548.52 feet at 6 am today whereas this was 1603.03 feet last year. Officials of the dam have been releasing 12,000 cusecs of water per day for power generation whereas the last year the discharge of the water was 18, 300 cusec per day. The shortage of the water in Bhakra Dam will continue till the next filling period of the reservoir.

Bhakra Dam has been generating 156 lakh units every day while last year the power generation was 249.6 lakh units per day. As a result Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh will get almost half of the their share in power supply from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) as compared to last year till May.

The power generation at Bhakra Dam is based on the storage of the water in the Ranjit Sagar reservoir during the filling period between May and September from rainfall in Himachal and melting of snow from March to June.

Sources said that less snowfall in parts of Himachal so far had become a cause for worry for the dam officials as less water would be stored in the Bhakra reservoir due to melting of the snow in the Himalayas from March to June. The only hope left is heavy rain fall in Himachal from May to September which could help to improve the power generation at Bhakra Dam.

Sources in the PSEB said there was shortage of 122 lakh units of power in Punjab every day the consumption of power in Punjab was 852.60 lakh units everyday while it has been getting 630.60 lakhs unit from all sources.

Chief Engineer Power Generation, BBMB, Nangal, Mr Amrik Singh, when contacted said low water level was the cause of low production this year. The water level of Bhakra was about 100 feet less than its storage capacity during end of its filling period (in September).

When contacted the Chief Engineer, Water Regulation, BBMB, Nangal, said the water level of Bhakra was low in comparison to last year. But power crisis in the states getting power supply from Bhakra could not be attributed to low power supply from Bhakra only.


BKU complains against irregular power supply
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Agitated over the irregular and inadequate power supply to the rural areas by the Punjab State Electricity Board, the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) today filed a complaint against the Board before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission.

Leveling a serious allegation of discrimination by the board against rural areas, the general secretary of the BKU, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, in the complaint requested the commission to issue appropriate directions to the board authorities concerned to notify the time-table for the agriculture sector and to supply uninterrupted and regular supply during th day time for 12 hours.

It is, perhaps, for the first time that Punjab is facing the worst power crisis during the winter. As drought-like conditions persisted for the past two years in this region, the water level in all reservoirs have gone down tremendously, thus severely hitting power generation in almost all power generating hydro-electric projects in the region. The PSEB is resorting to heavy power cuts in the countryside as the power situation continues to worsen in the state.

Mr Rajewal has alleged that the board was not only resorting to irregular and interrupted power supply to rural areas but it also provides the power supply to the agriculture sector during night when it becomes very difficult for farmers to operate their tubewells in the freezing cold. There has been no regular schedule to supply power during night. On some days, it is supplied between 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and other days it is supplied from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Undeclared power cuts by the board authorities have made life hell for farmers in the wintery conditions. No prior information is provided to farmers with regard to power cuts, says Mr Rajewal in his complaint.

Worst affected is the domestic sector in rural areas where power cut often lasts for 18 hours in a day. In the existing power scenario in the rural areas, farmers have been feeling demoralised and discontented. it is a known fact that farmers in Punjab have committed suicide. Farmers pay power bills but get less power compared to the industrial sector and urban areas.

Seeking equal distribution of power, Mr Rajewal has prayed to the commission to issue directions to the board to place on record the time table of power supply to the agriculture and industrial sectors during the past one year. He said that to discriminate with the farming community on the issue of power supply, which has become a basic necessity, was a serious human rights violation and the board should be asked to stop such violation.


Residents face power cuts
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 19
Unscheduled power cuts for several hours in the rural and urban areas for the past one month has made the life of residents of this district miserable. The people living in the rural areas have been facing more than 10-hour power cuts while in the city residents go without power for more than six hours. There is a shortage of 92 lakh units in the district every day as the total power required in the district is 1,300 lakh unit every day while it has been getting just 1,208 lakh units.

The reason of the shortage is attributed to the less supply from both thermal and hydel power plants. One unit of 210 MW at Guru Govind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, has been closed for 45 days for annual maintenance while two hydel power generation plants, Ganguwal and Nakiyyan at Anandpur Sahib, which become operational yesterday after a gap of more than a week, could not produce the required generation.

The Superintendent Engineer, PSEB (Ropar), Mr Surinder Pal, said the district had been getting less power from all sources to fulfil the requirements. The power situation will improve after the power plants at Ganguwal and Nakkiyan will become fully operational.

The General Manager of the Ropar thermal plant, Mr R.S. Sohal, said the shortage in the power supply was not because of closing of the one of the units of the plant but because the district was not getting power from hydel power plants due to shortage of water.


CM focuses on home constituency
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 19
With just a little more than two years to go for the present government, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has decided to focus on Patiala again and has asked officials to start projects planned for the city immediately.

The Chief Minister held a meeting at his new Motibagh Palace residence recently, which was attended by members of the Patiala Development Authority (PDA). Capt Amarinder Singh made it clear that too much time had been spent on planning projects for the city. He stressed that all the planned projects should be initiated immediately with a clear cut time schedule.

This means the city, which has already seen a spurt of development activity in the last one year, will witness further projects being taken up in the next one month or so. The Chief Minister also reviewed the progress of ongoing works and cleared bottlenecks which were delaying the completion of some projects at the meeting.

It has also been decided to initiate new projects for the city. These include starting work on a new overbridge at Railway Crossing Number 21 in the city. Work on this bridge, which will be a four-laned one, will be started once the overbridge coming up on Railway Crossing Number 22 is completed. The latter project is now expected to be unveiled by March 15, according to Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh.

He said the state government expected the Railway authorities to clear the new project Railway Crossing Number 21 within a week time, adding that the construction of the bridge was expected to start by April.

Besides this, it has also been decided to construct a new bus stand on the outskirts of the city. This bus stand will now come up adjoining the Kedarnath temple on the Rajpura road and not on the grounds of the Atma Ram Kumar Sabha Society as planned earlier. The Atma Ram Kumar Sabha Society has resisted all attempts by the government to give away their ground for the new bus stand. Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta has been asked to initiate the exercise to construct the bus stand.

The new bus stand will also house a Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) which is being funded by the Union Government. The reception centre, for which Rs 1 crore has been given by the Centre, will house a motel, restaurant, bank facility, rooms for travel operators and public conveniences.

Other projects which are likely to be speeded up include converting Rajindra Kothi into a Heritage Hotel.


Woman tries to kill children, self
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, January 19
In a shocking incident, a 28-year-old woman attempted to kill herself and her minor children at her Sant Kartar Nagar residence here this afternoon. The poor economic state of the family reportedly prompted her to take such a step.

According to the police, Meenakshi Marwah attempted to kill herself by cutting the vein of her left hand with a knife. Injured Meenakshi then attacked her six-month-old son, Rahul. She attacked Rahul in the stomach with a knife. The badly wounded infant fell on the floor.

She then turned towards her six-year-old daughter, Mrigakshi, and inflicted serious injuries on her stomach. She also forced Rahul to consume some poisonous substance.

After this, she made an abortive attempt to hang herself from a fan. She then tried to cut the vein of her right thigh but the cries of the frightened children caught the attention of some neighbours.

The neighbours immediately reached the spot and found Rahul in a pool of blood. Meenakshi and Mrigakshi were lying in a semiconscious state on the floor.

Rajeev Marwah, Meenakshi’s husband and an employee of a mobile telephone company, was informed about the incident. He with the help of the neighbours and some family friends took the victims to a private hospital.

The doctor attending the victims said Rahul was successfully operated upon and was out of danger. Sources maintained that the condition of Mrigakshi was however critical, while Meenakshi was still in a semiconscious state.

DSP (City) Charanjit Singh said a case has been registered against Meenakshi under Section 307 and 309 of the IPC. He said poor economic state of the family forced the accused to commit the crime.


Baradari set to regain glory
Gurvinder Kaur

PATIALA: The historic Baradari Gardens, once famed for exotic plant species, are set to regain their glory. The first phase of an ongoing beautification drive undertaken by the Patiala Development Authority (PDA) in collaboration with the State Bank of Patiala will give a facelift to the entire Baradari area.

Situated in the heart of the city, the sprawling gardens, which have long been considered its lungs, were in a state of neglect when the newly formed PDA took over and started work almost a year ago. The PDA was lent support by the bank, which announced its plan to chip in with Rs 1 crore, the first instalment of which ( Rs 25 lakh ) has already been released. The state government gave a matching amount last week. The development agency, which has finalised a master plan for the area, has taken care to ensure that the original character of the area remains intact. As a result, even the railing round the gardens has been built as a replica.

The gates of the gardens are being constructed keeping in view the aesthetics of the area which houses many old buildings. Work on the footpaths is almost finished, the roads have been improved and benches placed at various points. Heritage-style lighting in the gardens will enhance their beauty.

Though the work on the railing and the gates will be completed by the first week of February, the first phase of the plan is expected to be over by September. An efficient irrigation system will be created besides reactivating the old one so that the huge greens can be sustained even during peak summers. A small eatery and an ATM counter in the gardens have been included in the master plan.

A major replantation drive is also on the cards which will include replacing hedges and other plants which have withered away. Another ambitious proposal involves the conversion of the rose nursery into a rose garden.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Tejveer Singh, a demand of residents for the provision of a musical fountain in the lawns will be considered. Efforts are on to include it in the master plan.

Meanwhile, the State Bank of Patiala has announced that it will provide more funds for Baradari’s development if the state government gives a matching grant.


Sad (A) activists try to gherao Bibi
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 19
Activists of the SAD (Amritsar) led by its youth wing president Varinder Mann and national general secretary Gursewak Singh Jawaharke tried to gherao SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur who was here today to preside over the annual prize distribution function of a college.

Policemen, who were present in large numbers, provided her a safe passage.

The Bibi's supporters working at Takht Damdama Sahib, who were armed with lathis and swords, had prepared themselves to take on the activists of the SAD (A).

The SAD (A) activists, who raised slogans against Bibi Jagir Kaur and SAD (B) president Parkash Singh Badal on the Bathinda-Talwandi Sabo road, alleged that the police did not allow them to proceed towards Mata Sahib Kaur Girls College, where the Bibi was invited for the annual function.

Mr Mann and Mr Jawaharke alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur was being shown undue favour by the police under the diktats of the state government.

They said they only wanted to express their resentment against Bibi Jagir Kaur in a peaceful manner for her "misdeeds", but the police had deprived them of their democratic right. They said they would continue their protest against Bibi Jagir Kaur wherever she went to attend public functions as they wanted to "expose her misdeeds, including her killing of her pregnant daughter, who married a boy against her wishes".

Bibi Jagir Kaur, talking to mediapersons after the function , claimed that the SAD (A) had been working on a one-point agenda of opposing her and Mr Badal on every account. She said the functioning of gurdwaras would also be reformed. Earlier, she inaugurated the building of the administrative block of the college. Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MLA, Sardulgarh, attended the function.


50 pc posts of paramedical, medical staff lying vacant
Rajbir Kaur Sekhon

Bathinda, January 19
The seriousness of state government about its commitment to provide better health services to the people could be judged from the fact that more than 50 per cent of posts of medical and paramedical staff have been lying vacant in this district for the past many years.

The authorities concerned have not bothered to take any action despite repeated requests made by the district health authorities to fill the same.

The district health authorities have been facing lot of problems due to the shortage of medical and para- medical staff despite the fact that water-borne diseases and road accidents are common in this region and the rush of patients has been increasing day by day.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, 202 posts of doctor and paramedical staff, including medical specialists out of total 392 sanctioned posts in this district have been lying vacant for the past many years. There are only 98 medical officers working in various hospitals and dispensaries in this district against the sanctioned strength of 189.

Not only this, some of the community health centres, civil hospitals and children hospitals of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) are functioning without medical officers and specialists. There is only one doctor in Bhagta block and two doctors in Balianwali block against the strength of 17 and 14 sanctioned posts, respectively.

Sources said apart from doctors, 79 posts of staff nurses were also lying vacant. Eight posts of radiographer against 11 sanctioned and 24 posts of laboratory technicians against 55 sanctioned were lying vacant, which was adversely affecting the health services in this region.

Not only large number of vacancies have been depriving the people of better health care facilities, but number of imported and expensive medical equipment worth crores of rupees have been lying unutilised due to shortage of technical man power.

As many as eight x-ray plants have not been functioning for the past many months due to shortage of radiographers. In the absence of medical staff in rural dispensaries, some untrained persons have started practising in those areas thereby causing risk to the lives of rural population.

Due to the lack of specialists, the rural people of this region have to rush to cities for emergency medical services despite presence of dispensaries in their own villages and they have got no other option but to go for expensive treatment in private hospitals.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, who could not be contacted for his comments, had been writing to higher authorities for the past three months but invain. He had also discussed the problem in meetings of civil surgeons with the state health authorities. The hospital sources said some temporary arrangements of staff had been made in some of the hospitals in the district, but those arrangements were not sufficient.


Police violates court order, arrests scribe
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 19
Violating a court order, the police today arrested a vernacular daily correspondent, Mr Sanjeev Gupta, on the charge of blackmailing a Moga resident, though the police released him as soon as the court orders were produced before it. Mr Gupta stated that he had submitted the copy of the court order on January 31, 2000, issued by the then Faridkot Sessions Judge, Mr H.P. Handa, to the local police station. As per the order, he could not be arrested without a two-day notice.

The complainant, Mr Kuldeep Singh, had alleged that Mr Gupta had blackmailed him and demanded Rs 10,000 from him. He alleged that a news report of this correspondent, which was reportedly against a private clinic of his son, appeared in a vernacular daily on August 13 last year.

However, Mr Gupta denied this charge and said he had not mentioned the name of any private clinic in his story.

Sources said the correspondent had been falsely implicated in the case at the behest of a higher police official, owing to his proximity with the complainant. The sources said a few years back the then DSP (City), Mr Bhulla Singh, had probed into the complaint, but no evidence was found against the correspondent. Later, a fresh probe was ordered under the DSP (D), Jatinder Singh, reportedly due to pressure from higher police officials, following which a case had been registered against him under Sections 384, 465, 466, 468, 469, and 471, of the IPC.

Narrating the turn of today’s events, Mr Gupta said he was sitting at another journalist’s office when ASI Surjit Singh and one official Sahab Singh came looking for him. They told him that the SHO had called him to the police station. When Mr Gupta said he would be there within 10 minutes, they held his hand and asked him to accompany them.

On reaching the police station, policemen were told to put him behind the bars. A friend of Mr Gupta, who was accompanying him, intervened, after which he was told to sit in a room.

The Press Club, Moga, took a strong exception to the humiliating manner in which Mr Gupta was arrested. A delegation of the Press Club had gone to the SSP office, but failed to meet the SSP, Ms V. Neeraja, even after an hour, as she was busy at a meeting with the police officials.

The Press Club has demanded from the SSP that an impartial probe should be ordered into the matter, as there was no evidence against the correspondent and he had been falsely implicated The Press Club has also written to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking its intervention in the matter. The club has also written to the Chief Minister, DGP, IG, and DIG Ferozepur, demanding a fresh investigation into it.


Rodrigues to unfurl Tricolour at Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Punjab Governor, General (retd.) S.F. Rodrigues will unfurl the national flag and take the salute during state-level Republic Day function to be held at Jalandhar on January 26.

The flag will be unfurled by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Bathinda, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at Hoshiarpur and Vidhan Sabha speaker Dr Kewal Krishan.

Local Government Minister Jagjit Singh will unfurl the flag at Ludhiana, while it will be unfurled by Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Lal Singh at Amritsar, PWD (B&R) Minister Partap Singh Bajwa at Nawanshahar, Housing and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahay Puri at Gurdaspur, Health and Family Welfare Minister R.C. Dogra at Faridkot, Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang at Moga, Excise and Taxation Minister Sardul Singh at Sangrur, Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee at Mansa, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Avtar Henry at Kapurthala, School Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar at Fatehgarh Sahib, Revenue Minister Amarjit Singh Samra at Muktsar, Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa at Ropar and Finance Minister Surinder Singla at Patiala.

Deputy Speaker Darbari Lal will unfurl the flag at Batala, State Minister Science and Technology Rakesh Pandey at Garhshankar, State Minister Forest Hans Raj Josan at Zira and State Minister of Social Security Gurkanwal Kaur at Phagwara.


Thikriwala to be developed as a Model Town
Tribune News Service

Thikriwala (Barnala), January 19
After paying tributes to a freedom fighter and founder of Riayasti Parja Mandal Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today that the Congress would announce its candidate for the Ajnala Assembly byelection by the end of this week as Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had gone to New Delhi to discuss about it with the party high command. She said after the return of the Chief Minister, the name of the Congress candidate for the Ajnala Assembly byelection would be declared.

Mrs Bhattal was here in connection with the annual three-day function organised to commemorate the martyrdom of Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala who sacrificed his life for the freedom of the country in a Patiala jail 70 years ago. Besides, Mrs Bhattal, Mr Bachan Singh Pakho, a former MLA; Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, a member of the District Planning Board; Mr Gurdial Singh Chatha, Chairman, Market Committee, Sangrur, also paid tributes to the martyr.

Mrs Bhattal tried to evade a direct reply to a question about the setting up of a chair in a university in Punjab in memory of Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala by saying that there was a financial crunch in the state.

Paying tributes to the martyr, Mrs Bhattal announced a grant of Rs 45 lakh for the development of Thikriwala village and assured the villagers that the village would be developed as a Model Town, equipped with modern facilities. She also promised that memorials would be set up to freedom fighters at the district and block levels in Sangrur district.

Mrs Bhattal criticised the SAD leadership by saying that it had done nothing during its regime from 1997 to 2002 for the fulfilment of demands of Punjab. She said the Badal government had left Punjab in a state of financial crisis.

When her attention was drawn towards the problems of private college teachers of Punjab, she said the state government had already released Rs 30 crore to the private colleges during the past some months for their survival. She said the state government could not alone bear the burden of private colleges, the management committees of these colleges should also take steps to generate their own financial resources for the welfare of teachers as well as students. She said that she would, after the Ajnala Assembly byelection, meet the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) leadership to sort out the problems being faced by the staff of private colleges.


Petrol station owner refutes charges
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 19
A local petrol station owner, who was under the scanner for allegedly filling the tank of a car owner with more fuel than its certified capacity, has refuted allegations of fleecing customers.

The owner of Hem Kunt petrol station, Mr J.S Sahni has asserted that the Indian Oil Corporation, (IOC) under whose jurisdiction the station falls, inspected the pump on January 16 and certified that everything at the station was in order. He added that the IOC mobile laboratory also inspected the station the same day and noted no discrepancy.

It may be recalled that the station employees on January 12 filled 40.81 litres of fuel against the tank’s capacity of 35 litres of the Santro car owned by Amandeep Singh. A proper receipt was also issued to the car owners.

Meanwhile, the customer has decided to move the consumer court against the station owner.


Street play on tsunami
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 19
To highlight the tragedy of tsunami victims , the Naiti Theatre group yesterday performed a street play at State College of Education here.

The play, named ‘ Kudrat Da Tandav’, has been produced by Mr Gurcharan Singh and written by Mr Bunty Waraich.

The artists tried to replicate the scenes of the tsunami disaster. Speaking on the occasion Mr Gurcharan Singh said the play was staged to encourage youngsters to join the relief operations. The music was composed by Mr Mandeep Lucky.

Mr Gurcharan said they would perform the play in different colleges to collect funds to send as aid to the people who have been devastated by the tsunami in southern India and added that the collected amount will be sent to the Prime Ministers’ Relief Fund.


Mann moves HC against Virk’s appointment

Jalandhar, January 19
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the reported move of the Punjab Government to appoint Mr S.S. Virk as the new Director General of Police (DGP).

Talking to reporters here today, party president and former MP Simranjit Singh Mann said his party was against the appointment of Mr Virk, an IPS officer of Maharastra Cadre, who had continued to stay in Punjab even after expiry of his term of deputation.

Mr Mann said Mr Virk had come on deputation to Punjab in 1985 and had not gone back to his parent state despite several reminders and directives from the Home Ministry.

He alleged that Mr Virk was also responsible for unlawful acts in the past and a case was pending before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission against him. Mr Mann said his party was against the appointment of such an officer as the police chief and had filed a petition today before the High Court. — UNI


Ropar selected for agriculture promotion
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 19
Ropar district has been selected under the agriculture technique management agency (ATMA) by the Union Government to promote agriculture at the ground level.

The Central Government has granted Rs 80 lakh to provide facilities to the farmers to improve the quality of farming, dairy, fishery, soil conservation, forestry and animal husbandry.

A committee comprising 15 members from various sectors under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain was formed this afternoon. Ms Jain said the administration had decided to involve progressive farmers to provide need-based valuable suggestions as per the requirements of areas in each block of the district. She said for the first time, 30 per cent women of the district would be involved in the project.

The Director, Punjab Agriculture Management Education and Extension, PAU, Dr S.P.S Brar, discussed various aspects of the schemes with members of the committee.


Inside Babudom
Cadre management problems everywhere: Siddiqui
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
"Uniform once issued is never taken back," says Director-General of Punjab Police A.A. Siddiqui, holding that once the removal order from service of an officer has been given, no further action needs to be taken.

"Only in some cases, the belt and piping are taken back," he said.

Referring to the removal of seven Deputy Superintendents of Police recruited against the sports quota, Dr Siddiqui said that the department had done whatever was possible. Removal from service notices were sent not only to the Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur, besides their residential addresses, but have also been published in newspapers. The appointment of the seven DSPs was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Talking about his future plans, Dr Siddiqui wants to return to his home town of Allahabad, saying that he has been greatly impressed by Punjab, its people and always considered the state as "another home".

Dr Siddqiui is due for superannuation on January 31. "I will be working till the last day," he said, while responding to a question if he intends to go on leave before retirement."Our visit to Pakistan may materialise some time in February. We plan to have two Sufi foundation functions in Pakistan, one in Lahore and the other in Karachi," he said.

He said that there were "problems in cadre management not only in Punjab but in other states also. In Uttar Pradesh, they have promoted a 1972 batch officer and had to promote all seniors to him as Directors-General".

Dr Siddiqui, who has become a "Haji" only recently, says that he would remain active in social life in general and the Sufi foundation in particular. He also intends to write a few books, including convert his doctorate thesis into a book.


Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has appointed Mr Rahul Gupta as Assistant Commissioner (General), Jalandhar. Mr Rahul Gupta, who originally belonged to the 1999 batch of the PCS (Executive branch), was among the select few who took the second test in 2004 and got back into PCS by improving his merit. In case of Mr Gupta, since he had already undergone training and worked as AC (GA) in Patiala, he has been given a posting.

Mr Sukhjit Pal Singh, whose appointment to PCS was cleared only last week, has been posted Extra Assistant Commissioner (Training) at Faridkot.

Mr Daljit Singh has been shifted from Dhuri to Fatehgarh Sahib as Subdivisional Magistrate.


Local Government Dept website launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
For bringing complete transparency, Punjab’s Local Government Minister Jagjit Singh yesterday launched a website of Local Government Department. The official website can be logged at www.localgovt.punjab.gov.in

He said the process of computerisation of all urban local bodies in the state had already been initiated. Besides this, a notification regarding solid waste management had recently been issued to monitor the progress and adoption of the municipal solid waste rules of 2000. Principal Secretary of Local Bodies B.R. Bajaj said the website gave complete information relating to the department and its function.


Family suicide: doctor arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 19
The police has arrested Dr Ranjit Singh Rana, an RMP doctor, who allegedly pushed four members of a family to commit suicide.

He was nabbed by the police near bus stand of Nath di Khuhi, while he was trying to flee. The accused had taken shelter in gurdwara Nanaksar (Verka).

The four members of Rajdhana village, about eight km from Rayya, were Naresh Kumar (35), his wife Manju (30), son Rinku (14) and daughter Shalloo (9) committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance on January 15 night. The incident came to light when only surviving member Amolak raised alarm on the next day.

The accused was presented before the media here today. Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP Majitha police district, revealed that the victims had borrowed Rs 85,000 from the accused for his grocery shop in the village, including Rs 20,000 on interest. However, they could not return the money to him. As a result, accused started to blackmailing him and his family.

According to preliminary investigations it was found that the accused forced Naresh to bring his wife to him and allegedly raped her. Unable to bear this act, he, along with his wife, committed suicide. Before committing suicide they administered poison to Rinku and Shallo. However, their youngest son, Amolak (7), did not consume the poison and went to bed after taking banana. The couple, before committing suicide, scribbled on a wall of the house, levelling serious charges against Dr Rana. They had alleged that Dr Rana was blackmailing the family from the long time. After finding these suicide notes, the police had registered a case under Sections 306 and 376 of the IPC at the Mehta police station.

Dr Rana told mediapersons after listening to the incident he went to their house and saw the suicide notes on the wall. He immediately fled the scene with his family and was taking shelter in the gurdwara to avoid arrest. He admitted before the media that he had raped Naresh’s wife.

The district police chief said the accused would be presented tomorrow in the court.


Cops seize 24 kg of opium in a week
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 19
The district police has resolved to curb the activities of smugglers to make this region drug-free.

It has pressed various police teams into service. The teams have succeeded in nabbing notorious smugglers and recovering huge quantity of narcotics.

Mr L. K. Yadav, SSP, talking to TNS today, pointed out that in the past seven days, the district police had seized more than 24 kg of opium and more than 950 kg of poppy husk from nine smugglers.This recovery was unprecedented.

He said not only this, Maghi Mela was used as an occasion to educate and motivate people to fight the social evil.

A police station depicting policing during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was set up at the mela where a number of steps were undertaken to educate about 50,000 people about the menace of drugs.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the smugglers had been trying to bring the narcotics into this district for sale to prospective buyers at the mela , cashing in on the fact that the police would be then busy making security arrangements.

This district has become prone to rampant smuggling due to its geographical location as it shares borders with two states,Haryana and Rajasthan.

Due to porous borders, inter-state gangs of smugglers have been operating in this area freely. Even women with their faces veiled have been active in this illegal activity.

Mr Yadav said intelligence inputs revealed that most of the opium and poppy husk came to this district from Rajasthan and Haryana .The police had identified specific sites from where large quantities of opium and poppy husk was being sent to this district.

He pointed out that new strategies were being worked out to curb smuggling and cooperation of the people had been sought in this task.

Police sources said in the past few years, the district had witnessed a significant jump in the smuggling of smack and heroin. The number of women joining this illegal trade had also been on the rise.


Bank manager held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 19
The Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Mr R.K.Garg, today remanded the Senior Manager of Bank of India, Maan Market branch here, to judicial custody till February 2.

The accused, D.K.Gupta, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday for accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from the complainant Mr Arun Mahajan, owner of M/s Shudh Industries located at Jugial near here.

According to the DSP, Mr Bakhshish Singh, head of the raiding team, the complainant had obtained a loan of over Rs 9 lakh from the bank. The complainant failed to repay the loan amount till January 15, as agreed. Thereafter, he approached the accused D.K.Gupta to settle the dispute. The accused allegedly demanded Rs 25,000 for settling the case. The complainant then reported the matter to the Vigilance Bureau.

The police claimed that the accused was caught red-handed while accepting the bribe at his residence. A case under Sections 7-13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.


PCO owner, 2 women held in rape case

Jalandhar, January 19
The police today arrested three persons, including two women, on the allegations of rape and forcing a woman to abort the foetus.

A woman, in her complaint, alleged that she was employed as an attendant at a PCO, near Reru Chowk here, owned by Gopal Krishan. She further alleged that Gopal had raped her for about five months.

When she got pregnant, Gopal, in connivance with two midwives, got her foetus aborted. The police has registered a case against the accused. A special police party today arrested Gopal, Kamaljit Kaur and Shushi. — OC


Windowpanes of travel agent’s house broken

Kharar, January 19
Some residents of Chhajumajra village, near here, broke the windowpanes of a house of an agent had duped them of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad.

It is learnt that the agent, Amarjit Singh, had collected lakhs of rupees from the people on the pretext of sending them to the USA. Many people had been told they were to fly that country on January 14. It is alleged that after making huge collections the agent secretly sold off his house and even left the village without being noticed.

The residents who had been duped of their money started throwing stones at the house, which earlier belonged to the agent, when they saw someone in the house. It was only after the damage had been done that they got to know that the agent had sold off the house and the new owners had come to occupy it. OC


300 PAU graduates get degrees
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The eleventh convocation and prize distribution function of the College of Agriculture, PAU, for the years 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2004-04 was held here today. Two hundred and thirty students were awarded BSc Agriculture (Hons) and while 70 graduates got BEd degrees.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, awarded the degrees and medals to the students.

Hargeet Kaur, Puneet Kaur and Taniya Dhillon were awarded university gold medals. The S.S. Labh Singh Gold Medal was given to Tarinder Kaur, ASPEE Gold Medal to R. Rajwinder Singh, Puneet Randhawa and Navreet Kaur Gatoria, while Dr J.S. Pruti Prize was conferred on Prabhdial Singh, Pooja Arora and Manjot Kiran. Sixteen meritorious students were awarded prizes for three academic sessions.

Nine students from Mozambique, one each from Timor and Uzbekistan have been admitted to BSc Agriculture (Hons) programme during the current academic session under general Cultural Scholarship Scheme of the Government of India.

Dr S.S. Johl, Vice-Chairman, Punjab State Planning Board, was the chief guest. Dr Johl highlighted the role of the college in ushering in Green Revolution that enabled the state to contribute over 20 million tonnes of food grain annually to the central pool.

Making a strong case for diversification of crops and replacing the cultivation of paddy, Dr Johl said the state government, farmers, industry, services sector and domestic sector had to suffer and pay heavy price to save the paddy crop in Punjab.

It is this huge contribution of food grain, especially rice, to the central stock by the state that has exhausted its soil, water resources, environment and put its agriculture sector at the crossroads and the state is now left licking its wounds, he said.

Dr Johl said depleting natural resource, exploitative central policies, profit squeeze on farmers, decreasing incomes, shrinking employment opportunities, dependence on wheat-rice rotation, stiff competition in the national and international markets, application of WTO regime, changing consumers, preference, new products, innovative marketing techniques, e-commerce and fast developing marketing technologies are a few of the challenges that had to be tackled.


Students accuse teachers’ body of misinformation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 19
Students of the Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy Department of Guru Nanak Dev University have alleged that the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) was misleading the media and authorities.

The students alleged that the association was wrongly presenting facts over the headship issue of the department to media as well as the Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university.

They claimed that while Dr G.S. Kang had done his post-graduation and PhD in physical education, they said Dr Kang possessed a master’s degree in philosophy and not in psychology. As per the UGC norms, a person must possess a master’s in the relevant subject to teach a particular subject. Therefore, he could not teach psychology as per the directions.

The students added that the Head of Department (HoD) was purely an administrative post. They said the HoD was also the chairman, Board of Studies and chairman, Board of Control, which were both academic bodies.


Teachers threaten to intensify agitation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar January 19
The Government Teachers Union, Punjab, resorted to dharna outside the DEO (Secondary) office for release of their salary for the past two months, here today and threatened to intensify the agitation during the Ajnala byelection.

The union demanded filling of vacant posts of teacher and reopening of schools that were closed due to shortage of teaching staff. They demanded to restore 12 per cent interest on general provident fund (GPF) and restoration of higher grade which had been withdrawn by an act.

Mr Sucha Singh Ajnala, state union general secretary, alleged that thousands of teachers had not been paid since November, 2004, due to collection of some numerical data since 1966 from school sought by the government.

The union alleged that the data should have been in the offices of the Education Secretary and the DPI.

Expressing resentment over reduction of interest rate to 9 per cent from previous of 12 per cent, the union alleged that government was resorting to anti- teacher policies.

Mr Ajnala stated that it was strange that even senior officials were deprived of their salaries as department had details of posts.


Malaysian delegation visits GND varsity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19
An eight-member delegation of the State of Perak, Malaysia, led by Dr Zambry B. Abdul Kadir, State Minister for Education, Human Resources and Multimedia, visited Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Dr. S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, apprised them of various academic programmes being run by the university at its three campuses located at Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and at its 106 affiliated colleges.

Interacting with the Vice-Chancellor and other senior faculty members, Dr Zambry said the main purpose of their visit in Punjab was to enter into bilateral relationship with the state of Punjab in the areas of education and cultural exchange especially with Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr Zambry said they were working to promote the State of Perak (Malaysia) as a centre for education and academic excellence.

Besides Dr Zambry B. Abdul Kadir, the other members of the delegation included Mr Kamarudzaman B. Mahmud, Mr Goradial Singh, Mr Ahmed Subki Bin Hussin, Mr Mohd. Syaifu Abdullah, Mr Azhar B. Mat, Dr Noridah Ibrahim and Professor (Dr) Azrin Esmady Ariffin. The delegation also visited the Golden Temple where they were honoured by the SGPC.


Punjab to set up new industrial units
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 19
The Punjab Government will set up new industrial units in the state to generate employment and Rs 10,000 crore will be spent in this regard.

This was stated by Mr H.S. Hanspal, PPCC chief, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. He said the government would be making efforts to improve the lot of the sick units in Punjab. The work under the industrial policy would start during the current year. He said it was not possible for the government to give jobs to people. The problem of unemployment could be reduced only by bringing industry to the state.

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