P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



14 Punjabi youths in Pak jail write to SGPC chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
As many as 14 Punjabi youths, lodged in a Pakistani jail, have made a fervent appeal to Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, to use her good offices for securing their release and return to India.

In a joint letter sent from the District Jail, Quetta Huda (Balochistan), the youths have stated that, looking for greener pastures, they wanted to go to Europe. However, they were duped by travel agents and landed in the Pakistani jail, they claimed.

They said the agents travel left them in Turkey where they were beaten up. Subsequently, they were deported to Iran, where also the police dealt with them inhumanly.

Thereafter, they were pushed into Pakistan through the Taftan border. They said though they had completed their sentence some 15 months ago, they had not been freed yet.

They wrote that they had written to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and offices of the Indian Government in New Delhi pleading for their release, but to no avail.

The names of some of the youths are: Jaspal Singh, Jarnail Singh, Charanjit Singh, Avtar Singh, Gagandeep Singh, and Yash Pal, all from Hoshiarpur, Mohinder Singh of Nawanshahr, Gurdeep Singh of Sangrur, Baljit Singh and Harish Kumar, both from Amritsar, Tarsem Singh of Kapurthala, Pardeep Kumar of Jalandhar and Basharan from Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu.


Punjabi youth leading miserable life in Pak jails
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 1
Dozens of Punjabi youth, who were cheated by Indian travel agents and have been languishing in Pakistani jails, are leading miserable lives. This was stated by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and chief of the Punjab unit of the BJP, here today.

He said a number of parents of such youth from all over Punjab met him here yesterday. A committee was being constituted for taking up the issue with the governments of India and Pakistan, he added.

He said he had written a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan seeking the release of the youth and had also taken up the issue with the Union Foreign Ministry. If necessary, he would go to Pakistan to take up the issue with political leaders and approach media there soon.

Mr Khanna said Narinder Pal, son of Sat Pal Lahoria of Nadala village in Kapurthala district, Bhajan Singh, son of Sohan Singh of Kaloya village, Hoshiarpur, and Jarnail Singh, younger brother of Capt Harbhajan Singh of Bhushan village, Hoshiarpur, were languishing in the Kot Lakhpat jail. Father of Jarnail Singh died due to a shock when the news of his son being imprisoned in a Pakistani jail was broke to him.

Das Ram of Kangniwala village, Jalandhar district, told Mr Khanna that after getting visa for Jordan through a travel agent, his son Manohar Lal (37) went from Delhi to Greece on March 22, 2004. But all members of Manohar Lal’s family were shocked when they received a letter from the Pakistani jail mentioning about the imprisonment of Manohar Lal.

In his letter Manohar Lal stated that he was arrested by Pakistan police on the charge of illegal entry into the country. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by a Pakistani court on June 28, 2004, and was sent to the Machh jail of Blochistan.

Half of the chapati was given to them with tea in the morning. Two chapatis each were given in lunch and dinner. Out of 22 prisoners of this jail, ration was being given to 11 only. As many as 200 prisoners lived in a single room. They were dragged out from the room at 5.30 am and stuffed in it at 6.00 pm, Manohar Lal added.

Piara Singh of Kapurthala told that his son was also imprisoned in the Kot Lakhpat jail. He stated travel agents had a big network in India, Turki and Greece. Kamaljit Kaur of Kalewal Bhagtan village said she had approached both Indian and Pakistani Governments seeking the release of her husband Surinder Pal.

Balbir Singh of Hariana told that his son Charanjit Singh, along with Jarnail Singh, went to Cyprus for study through a local travel agent. On account of non-payment of college fees, Charanjit had to leave Cyprus.

They went to Turki and were arrested there. They were sent to Iran from where they were handed over to the Pakistani authorities. They were housed in the Nuski jail and were later shifted to Queta. Balbir Singh had received a letter from his son from the Pakistani jail. Mr Khanna said Amarjit Singh, Harbans Singh, Rulda Ram, Harbans Lal and Nidhan Singh also narrated similar woeful tales of their sons Sohan Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Surjit Singh, Pardeep Kumar and Sukhbir Singh.


Modalities being worked out to dispose of jail land
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Punjab’s Prisons Department is working out the modalities for disposing of prime jail land in Patiala and Jalandhar before shifting the prisons. At present the jails are situated right in the heart of the two cities.

The sources in the department reveal that senior authorities are expected to discuss the matter regarding the shifting of the jails and selling of the land after meeting Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh within this week. A number of other projects pertaining to the upgradation and modernisation of jails in the state are also likely to figure in the discussions.

The sources in the department reveal that the authorities are also expected to approach the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) for allotment of land in the precincts of the cities after finalising the plans for disposal.

They add that the jail in Amritsar was recently shifted after the land was sold off by the authorities concerned. They further add that the process was a part of a larger exercise to improve the jails and the facilities being provided to the prisoners.

In all, there are seven Central Jails in the state at Patiala, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. In addition, there are five district jails and 11 sub jails. The prisons have authorised accommodation for 9484 prisoners.

The sources add that a five-member committee has already been constituted by the state government to finalise the modalities. It is headed by Punjab’s Prisons Advisor A.P. Bhatnagar. The other members include Additional Director-General of Police J.P. Birdi and Inspector-General (Prisons) S.K.Dutta.

The sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters claim that the Police Housing Corporation has commenced the work. They add that the entire operation pertaining to the repair and upgradation of several jails — including the ones located at Bathinda and Sangrur — has to be completed by March-end.

Giving details of modernisation plan, the sources say that besides renovating the existing jails, the authorities are finalising plans for setting up new barracks in some of the overcrowded jails. The sources add that the occupancy rate in some of the jails in the state is as high as 150 per cent. The problem of over crowding is worse in the district jails.


No salaries for power project employees
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
A maze of governmental paper work, rules and confusion over rights to exercise power has meant that nearly 460 employees of Punjab working under the Ranjit Sagar dam project and the upcoming Shahpur Kandi dam project did not get their salaries on pay day today. About 150 of them did not get their wages for the second consecutive month.

These 150 employees are working with the hydel design wing of the Irrigation Department but draw salaries from the Shahpur Kandi project. All these 460 employees are based in Chandigarh and returned home empty handed on pay day.

The hitch is that the Treasury Officer has observed in writing that the Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO), Mr Darshan Lal, who signed the salary bills of the employees, cannot hold the powers of DDO. Therefore, the salary bills cannot be cleared. The employees are up in arms and say it is not their fault. Mr Sukhdev Singh Ghuman, cashier of the Punjab Draughtsmen Association says: “ we will launch an agitation if employees do not get their salaries.” The general secretary, joint action committee of Punjab & UT employees, Mr Gurmel Singh Sidhu, says the matter needs to be sorted out soon as it is not the fault of employees.

The delay in payment has affected employees posted in the Ranjit Sagar dam design organisation, the Shahpur Kandi design directorate and the hydel design wing of the Irrigation Department.

In the case of the hydel design employees, the matters are complicated. Some employees are drawn from the Punjab State Electricity Board while others are from the Irrigation Department. However, the entire salary bill is debited to the PSEB since they design hydel power projects run by the PSEB. The formula has been working smoothly since 1961.

The Treasury officer has written to the hydel design office that allowance like design, pay, conveyance and electricity cannot be paid. The logic given is that these employees draw salaries from the Punjab Treasury, and the rules do not permit for the allowances which are on the PSEB pattern.

Actually, there is no letter by the government to stop the said allowances, and expenses like salaries and allowances have been cleared in this year’s budget. Thus, the treasury should not have stopped payments, point out the employee unions.

Interestingly, a meeting held on January 20 had cleared the salaries for employees of the hydel design office. However, its approved minutes are still not available.

Even as this was being sorted out the treasury raised the point that the DDO did not have the powers to sign salary bills. Sources said the details and records of debiting the salaries to the PSEB is also untraceable, and this point has also been raised.

The matter is in the know of the Punjab Government and the last time these employees got their pay was on December 1.


Drugs on sale at dhabas outside educational institutions
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 1
Dhabas outside educational institutions in the district are becoming centres of drug supply to students. As per information collected from drug addicts by the authorities of the district drug de-addiction centre, dhabas near Beant Engineering College and the Institute of Hotel Management here are selling intoxicants to students.

The intoxicants being supplied to students include psychotropic drugs, opium, bhang mixed in ‘paranthas’ and even illicit liquor. The drug de-addiction centre authorities have forwarded this information to the SSP, Gurdaspur, requesting stern action against the culprits.

The survey by the drug de-addiction centre has also indicated certain alarming trends regarding proliferation of the drug abuse in the district. With the police tightening its noose around the retail chemists selling psychotropic drugs in the district, the trade has now percolated to peer groups.

In many cases the drug addicts who come for treatment at the 20-bed hospital at the drug de-addiction centre say peer groups among the addicts have also become the suppliers of the psychotropic drugs. They purchase the drugs directly from the wholesale chemists and supply them to other addicts in their areas. In some of the areas it has been reported that suppliers on bicycles administer psychotropic injections to addicts at their doorstep. In such cases syringes are used to administer injections to addicts, thus increasing the risk of the spread of AIDS.

Mr Romesh Mahajan, project director of the drug de-addiction centre here, said they were treating drug addicts of all age groups. Recently Surinder Pal (13) and Jaswant Singh (82) were treated at the centre.

The Gurdaspur SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, when contacted, said he met the drug addicts at the de-addiction centre recently. The police was on the lookout for such culprits. Drug addicts being treated at the Gurdaspur centre have been motivated to provide information regarding the sale of drugs to the police, he added.


‘Sweet miracle’ of a bitter tree
Bipin Bhardwaj

According to botanists, there is no such phenomenon in which sap oozes out from a tree continuously for the entire day . People at religious places generally manipulate such things for their vested interests.

Dr M.L. Sharma, Head of the Botany Department of the Panjab University, says that the tree branch may have some infection and so sap was dripping from it. During healing mechanism, the sap extracts on wounds. The gurdwara management may have considered the sap as the holy water, he points out.

Rajpura, February 1
A 'sweet-tears-oozing' neem tree has been attracting thousands of devotees in Salempur Jattan village, near Ghanour, on the Punjab-Haryana border about 35 km from here.

The neem tree has become the centre of attraction since December 3 after some liquid started oozing from its branches.

The news spread like wild fire when the gurdwara sewadars tasted the liquid and found it 'sweet' and reportedly got relief from skin diseases and joint pains after drinking it.

Believing that the tree has some supernatural powers, devotees have started using the liquid as a medicine.

Besides this, members of the gurdwara management committee and the villagers have also been organising community kitchen (langars) and round-the-clock prayers in the gurdwara from the very first day.

The gurdwara management has even deployed sewadars to control the vehicular traffic on the road leading to the gurdwara besides providing parking space for the visitors on a piece of land nearby.

Believing the liquid to be a remedy for all diseases, the devotees have been using it for various diseases like joint pain, skin diseases, asthma and diabetes.

With the gradual increase in the number of devotees, the gurdwara management has hung two frying pans to collect the 'miraculous liquid' from the branches of the tree. Moreover, the liquid is being distributed among the devotees as prasad (holy water) after they pay obeisance in the gurdwara.

While talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Rattan Singh, a sewadar who was the first to notice the liquid dripping from a branch of the tree, claimed to have recovered from an old skin infection after applying some drops of the liquid.

"The quantity of the liquid increased gradually as the number of visitors went up day by day.

About six litre of the liquid has been oozing out of two branches in a day and the same is being distributed among the devotees as elixir," claimed Mr Amrik Singh, president of gurdwara management committee.

Mrs Savitri Devi, an elderly lady from Shekhpura village, believes, "Holy water is oozing from the tree which has been proving a remedy for every kind of ailments and diseases."

"Yeh sab wahe guru ki kirpa hai jo neem ke ped te amrit barsa rahya. (This all is due to grace of god that the Holy water is dripping from a neem tree)," she asserts.

A visit by this correspondent to the place revealed that some water-like substance was continuously dripping from two branches and the gurdwara management had put two pans for the collection of the sap along with white coloured froth.

The 'superstitious' people including ailing and suffering from skin diseases were thronging the gurdwara for the miraculous water.


Financer ‘escapes’ with Rs 25 crore of investors
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 1
The Managing Director of a local finance company has reportedly fled with about Rs 25 crore belonging to its investors.

Sources said the financer had “disappeared” about three weeks back, but his office remained open during this period. The case did not come to light earlier, as none of the investors had lodged a complaint in this regard. A delegation of about 100 investors yesterday met the SSP, Mr B. Chander Shekhar, and urged him to register a case against him, besides ensuring repayment of their money.

Sources said the financer was running his business in the district for the past 25 years and was giving handsome interest on investments. Sources said mostly people hailing from nearby villages had invested in the finance company, on which the firm was paying them 24 per cent interest.

It was also lending money on heavy interest rates. With the matter coming to light the borrowers have heaved a sigh of relief, but the investors are spending sleepless nights. Unconfirmed reports said that the company had an investment totalling Rs 25 crore, whereas it had to recover only Rs 50 lakh. The SSP has assured the investors that justice would be done to them.

It may be mentioned here that about three years back a finance company had downed its shutters after duping people of Rs 5 crore in 15 days.


NCP seeks Singla’s resignation

Bathinda, February 1
The district unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has decided to submit a memorandum, signed by 50,000 persons, to the Governor and the Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha to force the local MLA and state Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, to quit his post. This was stated by Mr Jagjiwan Balli, President of the unit, here yesterday.

Party activists have also urged Mr Singla to quit the Cabinet on his own as he had failed to fulfil any promise made by him during the last Assembly elections. He had visited the town only for 42 days in the past three years, Mr Balli said. Mr Singla's promise that he would industrialise the town on the lines of California in the USA has proved a joke. Though Mr Singla had been claiming that he had played a role in bringing the oil refinery project to the district, the facts revealed that the then Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, had brought that project to Punjab. — TNS


Distribution of cheques by Kang to be probed
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 1
An inquiry into the ongoing controversy over the distribution of cheques worth Rs 24.50 lakh by the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Mr Jagmohan Kang, was today marked to the Secretary of the Rural Development and Panchayat.

The committee comprising the Parliamentary Secretary (Industry and Commerce), Mr K.P.S Rana, the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, the Anandpur Sahib MLA, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, the Chairman of Zila Parishad, Ms Kuldeep Kaur, and others took this decision at a general house meeting of the Zila Parishad.

The general house also passed a resolution to take action against the administrative official, who was responsible for issuing a huge amount to Mr Kang while ignoring others.

It also decided to stop the payment of cheques distributed by Mr Kang to 24 villages for various developments works at a function organised at Majri village on December 26.

Sources said the meeting continued in the Zila Parishad office in Ropar for more than 2 hours. It was divided into two groups. A group comprising Mr Rana, MLA from Nangal, Mr Bir Devinder, Ramesh Dutt Sharma, representative of the MLA from Chamkaur Sahib and the Chairman raised objections over the distributions of the funds by Mr Kang. While another group led by the Vice-Chairman of the Zila Parishad and representative of Mr Kang justified its distribution. Mr Kang was not present on the occasion.

MLAs of various constituencies raised question as to how Rs 24.50 lakh out of Rs 34 lakh was released for Mr Kang while keeping in dark other Assembly constituencies like Nangal, Anandpur Sahib, Kharar and Chamkaur Sahib.

They decided to probe into the matter and take action against the administrative official responsible for committing this mistake.

Dharmvir, Zila Parishad accountant, who was placed under suspension for issuing cheques to Mr Kang today made a statement before the house that he had issued cheques as per the orders of the administrative official. Thereafter the general house revoked his suspension order.

When contacted the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, said “The money, which was given to the district administration, had been transferred to the account of ADC (Development) and also to that of the Chief Executive officer of the Zila Parishad, Mr H.S Garcha, in wrong way. Thereafter the money was allocated to one constituency while ignoring the others. The case was referred to the Secretary (Rural and Development) to probe under whose influence the administrative official transferred the funds.

He said, “Why should one village suffer due to an official’s negligence. The action was sought against the official concerned as per the Civil Services rules. The general house also decided that the fund of the Zila Parishad should be handed over to the Deputy Commissioner. Later on, it could be equally distributed among all constituencies”.


More hydel projects needed to meet power crisis
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 1
Punjab needs to harness hydroelectric power in the region to mitigate the power crisis it is currently facing and for that it should set up projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

Since Punjab is situated close to the hill states it can exploit the vast hydel power of the latter. The parent states are not able to do so due to lower consumption levels and the high cost of developing infrastructure on their own.

These are the findings of Mr V.K. Bhatia, Deputy Chief Engineer, Central Zone, Ludhiana, whose paper, Management, Operation and Maintenance of Small Hydro Projects in Punjab State Electricity Board and Punjab Energy Development Authority, was adjudged the best entry at the two-day national conference on power engineering and energy management organised by the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, at Patiala.

Mr Bhatia, who has a rich experience in power generation, said that leave alone big projects in hill states, Punjab can generate more a substantial amount of power if small hydro power projects can be set up on all the extensive network of canals in the state.” I have conducted a study of the network and have come to the conclusion that more small hydro projects are the need of the hour,” he added.

Elaborating further, he said the PSEB was aware of the potential but so far only eight small hydro projects — Dalla, Narangwal, Tugal, Chupki, Khatra, Kanganwal, Jagera and Bowani — had been set up in the state. This was not enough since the existing projects only generated 7 MW of electricity, while the state had the capacity to generated 170 MW of power, he said.

Citing an example, he said Punjab has a shortfall of 1000 MW of power each year but there was no addition to its generating capabilities other than the ones at the thermal plants. But states like HP and Uttaranchal alone had the potential to generate more than 1300 MWs of power and Punjab could benefit by entering in MoUs with the former, he pointed out.

Mr Bhatia said the experience of running small hydro projects had also shown that private parties were better equipped to handle the projects and their output was also more.


Manch members present memorandum to SDM
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 1
About 2,000 activists belonging to the general categories today held a protest march and took out two rallies, first at Hargobindnagar market and then in front of the SDM’s office in the courts complex. They presented a memorandum to Mr Pritam Singh, SDM, Phagwara, for onward submission to the Punjab Chief Minister, demanding scrapping of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, withdrawal of “fabricated” cases registered under the Act against 11 persons of the general categories, including Mr Nirmal Singh, general secretary, General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, and a school lecturer. The memorandum also demands action against those who were whipping up casteist hatred for vitiating the peace of the city. It also demanded an end to power cuts, keeping in abeyance VAT and creation of employment opportunities.

The protest was organised by the General Samaj Manch. Activists of various social, religious and voluntary organisations joined the protest.

The protesters declared to file a PIL against the Act in the Supreme Court. They said a delegation of the manch would meet the President and the Prime Minister against the misuse of the Act to harass the general categories.

Women teachers, participating in the protest, accused the administration of adopting delaying tactics which had resulted in snowballing of the issue into a casteist one. They threatened that school teachers would boycott the annual examinations of the Punjab School Education Board slated for this month. The SDM had announced at the rally that he had convened a meeting of both the parties in his office on February 8 to resolve the matter. DSP Jaspal Singh and SHO Nirmal Singh were also present on the occasion.

A case under the Atrocities Act was registered against Mr Nirmal Singh, a lecturer in commerce at the local Government Senior Secondary School for Girls after a plus two student, Satnam Kaur, had lodged a complaint that he had used caste-specific language against her on October 7 last year. Mr Nirmal Singh had denied it. However, the Ambedkar Sena and other Dalit bodies had staged a violent demonstration last year, demanding action against Mr Nirmal Singh.


Campaign against female foeticide launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
A multi-media campaign to abolish female foeticide was launched by Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member Parliament, at UT Guest House, here today.

The two-month campaign will be carried under the aegis of the Inter-Media Publicity Coordination Committee (IMPCC) by various wings of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bansal said the low female sex-ratio in northern India was alarming. He said there were many deterrent laws against the female foeticide but the tendency was persisting. He added that there was a mindset for the male child as compared to the female, which made it all the more important to educate the people.

Dr C.P. Bansal, Director Health Services, said his department was taking initiatives to reverse the trend. He said a constant watch was being kept on all alleged sex selection centres for any violation of the PNDT Act. He stated that there was at present 63 ultrasound centres registered under the Act and their reports were being regularly monitored.

Mr K.S. Dhatwalia, chairman of the IMPCC, said whereas the UT Chandigarh sex ratio in the 1991 census report was 790, it declined to 773 in the 2001 census.

Mr Dhatwalia said in the campaign students of schools and colleges would also be involved apart from the common people.


CTU buses not to ply in Punjab today
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 1
Hundreds of commuters using the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) buses to reach various parts of Punjab will face inconvenience tomorrow as the joint action committee of the Punjab Roadways Employees Union today decided not to allow any CTU bus to ply on the state roads tomorrow. The decision was taken here by the committee to show its resentment against the Punjab Government for not replacing the old buses of the roadways and a discriminatory attitude of the CTU authorities.

Punjab Roadways employees held a gate rally at the city bus stand protesting against the Punjab Government for making false promises to them regarding purchase of new buses. In a press note issued here, the president of the Punjab Roadways Employees Union, Mr Jagjit Singh, said the Punjab Roadways buses were allowed to get passengers from the Sector 45 bus stand in Chandigarh while these were not allowed to get passengers from the Sector 17 bus stand. 


Elderly couple awaits “missing” son’s return
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, February 1
Even though the recent kidnapping of students in Bihar has hogged the limelight due to the elections but there was hardly anybody to listen to the woes of Gupta couple residing in the Ranjit Avenue area here whose only son, Vikas Gupta (22), has been missing since three years.

Vikas left his house on October 9, 2001, for Rampur Bushahr to collect money for his firm but did not return. His father, Mr Kishore Chand Gupta, said Vikas was working in a hardware firm located in Bazar Kathiyan near Golden temple. He said their distant relative Mr Ramesh Aggarwal of Anand Avenue owned the firm.

Mr Gupta said his son used to frequently travel to different areas in Himachal Pradesh to collect money for the firm. He said as per schedule on the morning of October 9 a car sent by Mr Aggarwal came to fetch Vikas in which besides driver, Arjan Singh, Kewal Gupta, an employee of the firm, was also sitting. They were scheduled to go to Rampur Bushahar in Himachal Pradesh, he added.

Vikas mother while recalling that fateful day said that it was after 17 years of their marriage they were blessed with a son. She said her son was supposed to return in the morning of October 14 but he did not. “When he did not return till the evening they became restless and contacted Mr Aggarwal, who failed to reply satisfactorily “, she added.

Mr Kishore Chand said the other two persons who had accompanied Vikas returned their houses safely. However, he said, when contacted they were not sure of Vikas whereabouts. He alleged all three above mentioned persons were not revealing the truth. He said he had written to various authorities, including the then Home Minister and the Chief Minister, but not action had been taken so far.


Mann withdraws PIL on Virk appointment
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed as withdrawn the PIL filed by Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann seeking directions to the Punjab Government not to appoint Mr S.S. Virk as Director General of Police.

Today, when the case came up for hearing, Mr Mann's counsel prayed that he be allowed to withdraw the petition as Mr Virk had already been appointed DGP and had even assumed charge. He also stated that Mr Mann intended to file an amended petition in the matter.

Mr Mann had also sought directions to the government to repatriate Mr Virk to his parent state of Maharashtra. He had contended that the Union Home Ministry had chargesheeted Mr Virk sometime back for refusing to return to his cadre state despite repeated reminders.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann said that he would file an amended writ in the High Court by Monday to challenge the appointment of Mr Virk as DGP, Punjab.

He said that the officers, whom Mr Virk superceded to get the plum post, would be named as respondents in t"We will take our fight to the highest court of the land to ensure that the wrong committed by making Mr Virk the DGP of this sensitive state is corrected," he said.

He also questioned the decision of the Union Home Ministry to withdraw the chargesheet served on Mr Virk to facilitate his promotion as DGP.


Residents gherao official of sewerage board
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, February 1
Hundreds of residents of this town today gheraoed the junior engineer (JE) of Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) for hours together to lodge their protest against the slow execution of work pertaining to the laying of underground sewerage pipe under the railway level crossing.

Mr Sunil Bitta, a senior BJP leader, who led the protest, alleged that for the past many months, the contractors concerned had dug up big pits on the road.

He added that due to the digging work, the already laid sewerage system in a number of colonies had become non-functional and it had led to flooding of different streets. Not only this, the big pits, which had been dug up by the contractors, had also caused considerable damage to the houses situated nearby as they had developed cracks.

He said after the matter was brought to the notice of Mrs Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, Member of Parliament, Bathinda, she took necessary steps and asked the authorities concerned to take action.

He added the gherao of the junior engineer was lifted only after the residents were assured that work pertaining to the laying of the sewerage system under the level crossing would be completed by coming Sunday and subsequently it would be made functional.


ADGP’s order against erring cops ignored
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
Even though the Additional Director-General of Police (Crime) has directed the district police here to file a charge sheet and initiate action against the erring police officials in a corruption case registered about one and a half years ago, the police has failed to comply with the order even after more than two months have passed.

This was alleged by Mr Ashwani Kumar, complainant in the case, at a press conference held here today.

Mr Kumar alleged that he was continuously by getting threats of having to face dire consequences from the accused police officials and that he was being forced to compromise with the erring police officials.

Giving details, Mr Ashwani said he was kept under illegal detention by Inderjit Singh, SI, Gurbaksh Singh, ASI, and Gurwinder Singh, Head Constable, posted at CIA staff at that time. He alleged that the accused took Rs 25,000 from his father to release him, adding that earlier they had also kept his brother in illegal custody.

Till now, he alleged, the police had not filed a challan. He said the accused police officials were never suspended. Even the security provided to him by the then SP was withdrawn by the police, though he was getting threats to his life from the accused.

He said the ADGP (Crime) also directed the SSP to withdraw a false case in which he was allegedly involved by the erring policemen. He said he contacted higher police officials a number of times, but in vain.

Mr R.P. S. Brar, district police chief, said he had recently joined as SSP, Amritsar, but he would definitely look into the matter and ensure that they accused were taken to task.


Punjab DGP (GRP) lists departmental problems
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 1
One day after being promoted at Director-General of Police (DGP), state government railway police (GRP), Mr S. C. Jain, said today that the hierarchy of his department was laughable as he was commanding only one Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) and three (DSPs).

Mr Jain said he should at least be given two more DSPs and that Bathinda and Ludhiana should be made railway subdivisions. The police officer also made a plea for conversion of most of the railway chowkis in the state into police stations.

The DGP also maintained that the state GRP was ill- equipped to handle its responsibilities due to meagre vehicles, man power and equipment at its disposal.

He said the state GRP also had to provide security to moving trains responsibility for which should have been shifted to the railway protection force (RPF) after the Railway Act was amended in 2004.

Speaking about the other problems of his department, Mr Jain said only 702 out of the 1,674 railway gates in Punjab were manned. He said since 2002 as many as 22 accidents had taken place leading to 47 casualties.

Mr Jain said nine murders had taken place in 2004. The police officer said there had been two cases of attempt to murder, two of robbery, three of poisoning, 30 of theft and 20 of cheating.


Thousands gather to hear Sant Rahim
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 1
Thousands of devotees from different parts of the state yesterday converged on the New Grain Market grounds here to listen to the discourse of Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa.

The entire township was given a facelift prior to the Ruhani Satsang and it was decorated with buntings. Markings were made on all roads leading towards the venue of the satsang. People from different walks of life attended the satsang. Addressing his followers, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh exhorted them to work for the welfare of humanity. "We have been granted birth as human beings only to serve humanity, which is the true karma," he said. He said illegal means to earn money could not give happiness and people should work hard to make their living.

Meanwhile, traffic snarls were witnessed near the venue and total chaos prevailed at Joginder Singh Chowk, especially when the satsang concluded. Even a dozen policemen were finding it difficult to manage the traffic with buses and trucks jam-packed with devotees queuing up on GT Road. They were seen regulating traffic despite the traffic lights functioning well, which added to the confusion.


Restore holidays, demand Muslims
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 1
While welcoming the decision of the Punjab Government to restore holidays on Shivratri, Holi and Good Friday, the Muslim Society of Punjab and the All Punjab Jamat-e-Salmani Biradari, have urged the Punjab Government to restore gazetted holidays on Moharrum and Eid-e-Milad.

The holidays of Eid-ul-Zuha, Moharrum and Eid-e-Milad were struck off from the list of gazetted holidays for 2005 and were included in the list of restricted holidays. Mr Abid Hassan Salmani, general secretary of the All-Punjab Jamat-e-Salmani Biradari, and Mr S.S. Hassan, convener of the Muslim Society, Punjab, today said in the present system of restricted holidays, only government employees were in a position to avail restricted holidays, but school going children could not avail these holidays. “Moreover, schools are at liberty to organize exams or any other activity on these festival days, which, in turn put parents and their wards in a peculiar position. This scenario leads to spoiling of importance of these festivals,” said Mr Salmani and Mr Hassan.

Both the leaders have appealed the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Governor to restore the holidays and uphold the high and just traditions of democracy.


Ex-DGP Sarabjit bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Mr Gurcharan Singh, a former Superintending Engineer of the Punjab Public Works Department (Buildings and Roads) and father-in-law of Mr Sarabjit Singh, a former Director-General of Punjab Police, was cremated at the Sector 25 electric crematorium here this afternoon. Mr Gurcharan Singh had died last night after a brief illness. He was 80.

He leaves behind his widow and two daughters. Family sources said that bhog will be held on Sunday (February 6) at the Sector 11 gurdwara.


Idols installed at Baltana mandir
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 1
The installation ceremony of the idols of Ram Parivar, Baba Balak Nath, Shitla Mata, Hanuman and Shani Dev was performed at the Tribune Model Gram Mandir at Baltana village, near here, yesterday.

The ceremony started on January 26 by pandits from Hardwar and continued for the week.

A “havan” was performed in the morning, followed by a bhandara in the afternoon. The residents of the colony themselves prepared the bhandara.

The programme was largely attended.


Dr Coonar takes charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
Professor and Head of Faridkot’s Department of Community Medicine, Dr P.P.S. Coonar, has taken over as Punjab’s Joint Director of Medical Education and Research. Dr Coonar has done his Masters in Health Management from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has also served in the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He is a member of Government of India’s Rapid Response Team, besides being involved in the National Polio Eradication Programme.


Cotton price crash
Traders spreading rumours among farmers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 1
Prices of raw cotton have crashed in North India following a reduction in its demand by textile manufacturers and panic created by unscrupulous traders among farmers to get their produce at throwaway prices.

Raw cotton (narma) has been fetching a price ranging from only Rs 1,550 to Rs 1,750 per quintal against its minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,815, Rs 1,785 and Rs 1,765 in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan respectively. The prices have crashed despite the fact that the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has been purchasing about 8,000 or 10,000 bales of cotton daily on MSP from various markets to keep the prices intact.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that a section of unscrupulous traders had been spreading rumours that the CCI would stop purchasing raw cotton within a few days and the farmers should bring their produce to the markets at the earliest.

A large section of farmers have started selling their produce at any price being offered to them by the private traders even though the CCI has been educating farmers to bring their produce to markets slowly so that they could get better prices.

The daily arrivals have not picked up significantly as the farmers have been selling their produce to the traders at throwaway prices as soon as their produce is unloaded in markets.

Almost all textile and yarn manufacturers from Mumbai, Gujarat and southern and northern states had reduced their daily buying, leading to a further fall in the prices of raw cotton. They are waiting for the prices to fall further.

So far more than 27 lakh bales of cotton have arrived in northern India against its estimated production of 35 lakh bales. Out of it, more than 12 lakh bales have arrived in Punjab, 10 lakh in Haryana and five lakh in Rajasthan.

Mr S.R. Mittal, Manager, CCI, Punjab, said a section of traders, who had been spreading rumours to create panic among the farmers, was a major cause of the fall in the prices of raw cotton. Apart from it, a section of mill owners had stopped purchasing raw cotton due to space scarcity following the accumulation of cotton stock as their mills were not running at full capacity due to frequent power cuts.

He said the CCI had taken up the matter with the state government and the PSEB for exempting the ginning and pressing mills from power cuts.

He pointed out that the CCI had also been writing to market committee officials to start zoning of the grain markets so that farmers could sell their produce easily to the buyers without getting panicky over huge heaps being unloaded there every day.

Mr Ashok Kapur, Director, Northern India Cotton Association (NICA), said the demand of raw cotton had also come down due to the fact that production in the current year was more than two crore of bales in India as against 1.7 lakh bales that used to be produced in previous years. He said the state government should make efforts to protect farmers from being looted by the unscrupulous traders.


KKU for united stir against state govt
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 1
The state president of the Kirti Kisan Union, Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, has called for a united agitation by all farmer bodies against the state government’s “anti-farmer” policies.

Speaking to The Tribune here today, Mr Sandhu said a state-level meeting of the union would be held on February 4 during which the union leaders would discuss a common minimum programme on which various farmer bodies could agree and kick off a stir against the state government. He said the state farmers’ woes would be the focus of the union’s convention to be held in Jalandhar on February 18. Mr Sandhu alleged that the Congress Government had adopted a tough posture against the state’s farmers who were already burdened with heavy debt.


Farmers protest outside DSP’s office
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, February 1
Hundreds of farmers of Razzapur and Majaran Kalan villages today staged a massive demonstration outside the local DSP’s office after marching through the town with bodies of a farmer and a woman who had died in the morning under mysterious circumstances when a joint team of the Forest Department and the Phillaur police tried to take control of several acres of alleged forest land from the farmers.

While the police claimed that the two persons, Jangeer Singh of Razzapur village, and a woman of Majaran Kalan had died a natural death, the villagers led by kisan union leaders alleged that the two had suffered a heart attack while fleeing from the piece of land when the police and forest officials used force.

Mr Lehmbar Singh Taggar, a kisan leader, alleged that besides the death of the two persons, the farmers were also upset that the police and forest team forcibly ploughed the standing wheat crop. They said the departments had ill-timed their operation which hit the farmers badly.

Apart from the residents of these two villages, men and women from several surrounding villages also gathered there and took part in the demonstration. The demonstration was called off in the evening when the police assured the protesters that they would not accompany the team of forest officials in future. The villagers did not press for post-mortem examination of the deceased.

Police force from Nawanshahr and Bilga police stations was also called to Phillaur to control the mob.

The alleged incident took place today morning when the joint team swooped down to take possession of several acres of land from farmers, who are officially termed ‘abaadkars’ (cultivators) of the land.

Mr Taggar alleged that the team used force at the protesting farmers due to which the agitated farmers had to take to the streets. He has demanded suitable compensation for all farmers and special relief to the next of kin of the deceased.

DSP Phillaur, Kamaljit Singh told reporters that the police was just assisting the forest team and denied that any force was used. He said the farmers were convinced at the police argument due to which they returned without pressing for post-mortem examination of the deceased.


Govt to collect Rs 14,000 crore as service tax
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
The Commissioner, Central Excise and Service Tax, Mr G S Narang, said the Government of India was expecting to collect Rs 14,000 crore as service tax during the current financial year.

Addressing a workshop organised by local industrialists in association with the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Friday, Mr Narang said the present contribution of the service sector in the gross domestic product was around 50 per cent which was unique among developing countries of the world. As such the government had decided to bring the services under the ambit of taxation. He added that when this tax was introduced in 1994 only three services, including telecom insurance, were brought its ambit but last year 71 more services had been added to mop up revenue of more than Rs 14,000 crore.

The services segment is perhaps the fastest growing sector in the country with information technology leading over the rest.

He added that the goods transport service had also been included in the service tax net, which had become effective from January 15. He advised all business houses and commercial establishments to get themselves registered with the department. 


Youth’s murder in Manila plunges town in grief
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 1
Noormahal town of Phillaur subdivison was plunged into grief as the news of the murder of a youth of the town in Manila reached here today. Manjit Singh (28) was reported to have been shot dead by armed robbers in Manila, capital of Philippines, a few days ago.

According to reports received here today, Manjit Singh was returning to his home in Manila from his job when a few armed robbers stopped him, shot him, snatched his valuables from him and sped away on bikes.

When this correspondent went to his house in Noormahal to see his family members, his mother Ms Darshan Kaur, said she was waiting for his arrival as he had told her on telephone that he would come to Noormahal on February 12. The entire family was shocked and grieved on hearing about the murder of Manjit Singh. She said Manjit Singh had gone back to Manila on May 24 last year after performing the marriage of his younger sister.


Maximum murders due to illicit relations, domestic quarrels
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, February 1
Mr Baldev Singh, a resident of Virk Kalan village in this district, was done to death by his son, Gurmail Singh, in May 2004 after getting agitated over denial of his share in their land holding.

Dhuta Singh and his wife Veerpal Kaur of Jhanduke village of this district set on fire Binder Kaur (wife of Jagsir Singh, elder brother of Dhuta Singh) on July 23, 2003 after they developed differences with Jagsir Singh over division of the ancestral house. Binder Kaur died in hospital.

Veerpal Kaur, who was married at Killi Nihal Singh Wala of this district, was murdered by her husband Lakhbir Singh, on January 17, 2003 after the accused allegedly developed illicit relations.

Once known for its well-knit family structures, the district has been witnessing an astonishing increase in number of murders due to illicit relations and domestic quarrels. What is happening within the four walls of a house does not become public until the matter reaches the point of crime.

Out of a total 182 murders, which have taken place in the past five years (from 2000 to 2004) in this district, 81 have taken place due to illicit relations and domestic quarrels. Violence in the families has resulted in 45 murders while illicit relations have led to 36 murders.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that the major reason for such increase is active participation of female members in the crime. In most of the cases relating to domestic quarrels, women had assisted the main accused in the murder. Interestingly, most of the victims had been women in case of illicit relations, while mostly men had been murdered in domestic quarrels.

Domestic quarrels have led to 13 murders in 2002, 12 in 2003, 11 in 2000, five in 2001 and four in 2004, while illicit relations took 12 human lives in 2003, nine in 2001, six each in 2000 and 2002 and three in 2004.

Information revealed that murders due to land dispute had also been taking place in significant number in this district having its agriculture-based economy. As many as 21 murders had taken place in the past five years due to land disputes with the maximum number of seven in the year 2000. Though the number of murders decreased subsequantly, in 2004, seven murders took place over land disputes.

The number of murders committed by strangers for various reasons like theft and rape were also significant as 25 murders had been committed by them in the past five years. Quarrels had resulted in 11 murders while murders which took place due to old enmity and water disputes were seven and two, respectively. A total of 35 cases of murder were registered by the police in the past five years. Information revealed that the year 2004 witnessed a significant decline in number of murders as only 35 murders took place as compared to 51 murders in 2003. In 2001 only 25 murders were committed.


Man held for giving bribe to SP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
Officials of the Vigilance Bureau arrested Baldev Singh, a resident of Udonangal village, for allegedly giving a bribe of Rs 25,000 to Mr Harinderpal Singh Kang, Superintendent (Counter Intelligence) at his residence to hush up a case. Mr Kang is an SP rank officer in the counter intelligence wing of the bureau.

A case under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against accused and Rs 25,000 seized.

Giving details Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SSP (Vigilance) said here today that Baldev Singh made fake passport under the name of Surjit Singh, a resident of Jalandhar. The case was being inquired by the SP (Counter Intelligence). Mr Bajwa said when the accused was called for questioning, he tried to give bribe to Mr Kang.


CBI arrests Income Tax Officer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The CBI today arrested a Ludhiana-based Income Tax officer (ITO) for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000 from a businessman of the industrial city of Punjab.

The ITO, R.K. Arora, was allegedly arrested red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000 from the businessman, Ashok Kumar, for settling a notice on the income tax return of 2001-2002. Ashok Kumar has a steel furniture manufacturing unit.

The CBI is still carrying out searches in the Ludhiana and Amritsar premises of the ITO.


Cash, stamp papers stolen from tehsil complex
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 1
Cash to the tune of about Rs 3 lakh and stamp papers were stolen from the record room in the tehsil complex last night.

The theft came to notice this morning when the lock put on the door of the record room was found broken and the door was lying open. The thieves took away cash which was kept in two separate bags and stamp papers, worth thousands of rupees, which were kept illegally in the record room.

It is learnt that two stamp vendors — Mr Sanjay Kumar and Mr Maan Singh — used to keep the cash collected by them during the day in the record room before leaving for their homes. They used to deposit the cash in the treasury the next day and used to buy more stamp papers. All this was being done in connivance with employees of the tehsil complex.

Initially, the tehsil staff was not aware that cash had been stolen from the record room. It was only after the two stamp vendors came to collect their bags that employees got to know that cash had been stolen. The police was informed about the crime.

The police has recorded the statement of the registry clerk who said that the lock of the room was found broken. As the cash and the stamp papers had been illegally kept in the record room, no mention about the theft has been made to the police either by the tehsil staff or the stamp vendors.

The police believes that the theft has been committed with the help of an insider who was aware that the two stamp vendors used to keep their cash and stamp papers in the record room every day.

A complaint was given to the police by the Tehsildar, Mr Baljinder Singh. He said the record of the tehsil was checked after the lock was found broken and nothing was found missing.

The police has registered a case under Sections 380, 457 and 511 of the IPC in this regard.


Youth festival concludes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 1
The 46th Inter-Zonal Youth Festival of Panjab University, which started on January 28, concluded at Swami Premanand Mahavidyalaya, Mukerian, near here, last evening. Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, presided over the concluding function. Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Panjab Vidhan Sabha, announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the college on behalf of the Chief Minister.

The Principal of the college, Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma, highlighted the achievements of the college. Such festivals go a long way in inculcating good qualities among the students, he said.

The following are the results:

Shabad/bhajan: first MTSM College for Women, Ludhiana, second SGG Janta College, Raikot; group singing (western) first Govt. College for Women, Ludhiana, second Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore; group singing (Indian) first Khalsa College for Women, Ludhiana, second Govt. College GCB, Ludhiana; light music (ghazal) first Ramgarhia Girls College, Ludhiana, second SD College for Women, Moga.

Light music (geet) first JCDAV College, Dasuya, second MTSM College for Women, Ludhiana; light music (folk song) first GN Khalsa College for Women, MT, Ludhiana, second GHG Khalsa College, Guru Sar Sidhar; orchestra (Indian) first MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36, Chandigarh, second Govt. College for Women, Ludhiana; instrumental music (percussion) first GGDSD College Sector 32, Chandigarh, second GNN College, Doraha, Ludhiana.

Instrumental music (non-percussion) first Govt. College for Women, Ludhiana, second GHGH College of Education, Sidhwakhurd; classical music (vocal) first Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore City, second Govt. College for Women, Ludhiana; music (vocal western solo) first RSD College, Ferozepore, second BS Govt. College, Gursal Sadhar; land scape drawing: first Govt. College of Arts, Sector 10, Chandigarh, second Govt. College of Arts, Sector 10, Chandigarh; still life drawing: first DAV College, Hoshiarpur, second GCW, Ludhiana.

Drawing from life: first DAV College, Hoshiarpur, second Govt. College of Arts, Sector 10, Chandigrh; collage-making: first SGHRS College, Chabbewal, Hoshiarpur, second Govt. College of Education, Chandigarh; clay-modelling: first GN Khalsa College, Ludhiana, second Govt. College of Arts, Sector 10, Chandigarh; poster-making: first DAV College, Hoshiarpur, second GN Khalsa College, MT, Ludhiana; cartooning: first Govt. College of Arts, Sector 10; rangoli: first MBBGRGC College, Mansowal, second Saini Bar College, Bullowal.

Creative writing (poem): first SCD Govt. College, Ludhiana, second M.R Govt. College, Fazilka; creative writing (short-story) first GGDSD college Sector 32, Chandigarh, second Govt. College of Education, Chandigarh; creative writing (essay) first Govt. College of Education, Sector 20, Chandigarh, second DAV College, Hoshiarpur; drama (one-act play) first D.A.V. College , Abohar, second DAV College Sector 10, Chandigarh; histronics: first Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore, second B.S. Khalsa College, Abohar.

Classical dance: first GCG Sector 11, Chandigarh, second DAV College Abohar; bhangra: first GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana, second GHG Khalsa College, Gurusar Sadhar; skit: first GN Khalsa College for Women, Ludhiana, second DAV College for Women, Ferozepore.

Mime: first Dev Samaj College for Women Ferozepore, second Arya College Ludhiana; mimicry: first DAV College of Education, Abohar, second Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore; poem-recitation: first GCW, Ludhiana, second DAV College of Education, Abohar; debate: first A.S. College, Khanna, second GGDSD College, Chandigarh; elocution: first GCG, Sector 11, Chandigarh, second LR DAV College, Jagraon.

Group dance (general): first GCG, Sector 11, Chandigarh, second Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 10, Chandigarh; giddha: first GCB Ludhiana, second RSD College, Ferozepore.


New guidelines issued for board exams
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 1
The Punjab School Education Board has taken steps to maintain the sanctity of examinations which are starting from February 16 and continue till March 2.

Apart from requesting the Deputy Commissioners of all districts in the state to get Section 144 of the Cr.PC implemented near examination centres, various guidelines have been sent to centre superintendents and controllers by the board authorities for a fair conduct of the examinations.

In letters sent to all superintendents of various examination centres, the Controller of Examinations, Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur Saroya, said according to the new policy the board would appoint centre superintendent. The board had given the powers to the centre superintendent to appoint 50 per cent of the invigilation staff and the remaining 60 per cent staff had to be appointed by the centre controller. In centres where one deputy superintendent had to be appointed, depending on the strength of students, the superintendent has been authorised to make the appointment. But in case two deputy superintendents were needed, the controller would be making the second appointment.

In a letter which was issued today to the Deputy Commissioners of 17 districts in the state, Mrs Saroya said Section 144 should be implemented near examination centres as it had come to their notice that parents accompanying students to examination centres made efforts to help their wards through unfair means.

The responsibility of maintaining law and order outside the examination centres has been given to the centre controller while the superintendent has been asked to maintain the sanctity of examinations inside the centre.

The superintendent has been asked not to allow even board employees or officials and newspersons to enter examination centres. Only officials carrying green cards or authority letters from the board would be allowed to enter.

The controllers have been asked to make efforts through district education officers to take the help of the administration in this regard. They have been asked to remain in touch with the police stations falling in their area.


Modified Midday Meal Scheme launched
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 1
Moga today became the first district of Punjab to implement the modified Midday Meal Scheme, under which freshly cooked meals would be provided to about 65,000 students of 339 government primary schools and 118 EGS centres in the district.

Inaugurating the scheme at a government school in Ghal Kalan village, near here, the Deputy Commissioner, said Moga had repeated its feat in becoming the first in launching this scheme. Earlier, following the Supreme Court directions, Moga was the first in Punjab to kick off the scheme on November 2. He expressed the hope that the modified version of this scheme would help boost the attendance in primary schools. He said there was no shortage of funds for the scheme and he had distributed cheques of Rs 27 lakh to the BPEOs yesterday. He said self-help groups formed in various villages and some non-government organisations had also come forward to assist the administration in running this scheme.

Addressing the gathering, the ADC, Mr Nilkanth Ahvad, said that the scheme’s new version would promote the concept of community kitchen among children, besides inculcating sense of discipline and hygiene among them. He said the school staff, village panchayats and parents had to put in a combined effort to make the scheme successful and achieve desired objectives.


Sahitya Akademi journal publishes lecturer’s study
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 1
A comparative study by Dr Lakhwinder Singh Gill, a Lecturer in English at the local SR Government College, of two famous playwrights has found a place in the prestigious Sahitya Akademi bi-monthly journal on Indian literature, in its golden jubilee year issue.

The issue of September-October 2004 released recently has published the full content of Dr Gill’s study on two plays “Yayati” by Girish Karnad, an acclaimed film and theatre actor-director from Bengal, and “Fate” written by Sant Singh Sekhon, a renowned Punjabi writer from Punjab.

The study draws parallels between the two plays and concludes that Freudian overtone is the distinguishing mark of both and the Oedipus complex (attraction between a son and a mother) is evident in both.

Mr Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharya, Editor of the bi-monthly, has commented on Dr Gill as “a young upcoming critic and scholar”.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Gill said, “It took four months for the article to be published and my joy knew no bounds to see my observations in print in the prestigious literary journal”.


Refinery capable of exporting diesel to Pak: HPCL
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 1
The Bathinda oil refinery, for which the deed of assurance was approved by the Punjab Council of Ministers yesterday, will be having enough provision to export diesel to Pakistan, if required.

“We have export component very much in mind and the refinery would be built up in such a manner that it would be having enough capacity to prepare diesel for export purpose”, said a senior officer of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited today talking to The Tribune from Mumbai. “After all we are a big corporate organisation and will be keeping all factors in consideration while installing the project”, he added.

There is a standing offer from India to supply diesel via Jalandhar to Pakistan, which is currently importing it from Kuwait. The offer was extended to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, by Indian Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, during the former’s visit to India in September, last year. Mr Aiyar’s offer was to export 1.5 million tonnes a year. Pakistan’s Punjab province is the major consumer of diesel that comes there via Karachi port. Later the same offer was discussed with Pakistan Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz by Mr Aiyar.

The HPCL authorities are eagerly awaiting the deed of assurance approved by the state government to revive the project. “ Whether the assurances deed meets our expectations or not, that is the moot question which could be answered only after examining the deed’s contents”, the top HPCL functionary said.

“We have not got the approved draft of the deed from the state government yet. Obviously, it would be placed in the meeting of the board of the HPCL after examining its details”, he added. “We are in a position to start the work on the project at the earliest but of course it would depend on the acceptance of the deed by the HPCL’s board”, he said.

Already, the basic infrastructure at the project site is in place. So, there would be no problem to take up the work immediately at the site. Besides sales tax deferment,the HPCL is expecting exemption in octroi, electricity duty etc. “There were 10 to 12 items which are to be required to be settled with the Punjab Government. Let us see what the state government has done in this connection. The state government’s attitude was positive in the past few months”, the officer added.

Meanwhile, Mr M.A. Tankiwala, General Manager of the Bathinda refinery, who has his office in Delhi, said that the HPCL had big plans for this project. “ We wanted to make it a focal point of our activity regarding the distribution of petroleum products and LPG in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J and K and other areas within reach”. He said that this project would certainly give a big boost to the economy of Punjab.

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