P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dissidents, SAD sarpanches take part in Cong rally
CM visits dissident’s residence
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, February 2
Many dissident Congress leaders and Akali Sarpanches and Panches today participated in a rally organized by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee to mark the filing of nomination papers by Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala here today.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, visited the house of Mr Ravi Randhawa, who had a grouse against the Congress nominee, Mr Harpartap Singh. During the previous Assembly elections, Mr Harpartap Singh had contested the election as a Congress rebel when Mr Randhawa was the official nominee of the party. Mr Randhawa and his supporters complained to the Chief Minister that Mr Harpartap Singh had 'annoyed' a large number of party workers in Ajnala. However, Capt Amarinder Singh assured Mr Randhawa and his supporters that he himself would ensure that all the dissidents were given due importance by the candidate and bureaucrats after the byelection.

Apart from Mr Randhawa, president, and nine counsellors of the Ramdass Municipal Committee, many Panches and Sarpanches from Ajnala constituency also attended the Congress rally.

The Akali leaders who joined the Congress in the presence of the Chief Minister were Mr Jagir Singh, Mr Virsa Singh , Mr Bachiter Singh, Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Niranjan Singh, Prof Amrik Singh and Mr Jaspal Singh. Interestingly, Mr Sukhdev Singh Chhina, Security Officer, Guru Nanak Dev University, also joined the Congress party on this occasion.

Commenting on the dismissal of the public interest litigation against his son (Raninder Singh), Capt Amarinder Singh said it was good that the court order had come at a time when Congress party had launched its election campaign today . The Chief Minister said the PIL was filed with the intention to keep the issue alive during the Ajnala byelection. The PIL was filed by Akali Lok Sabha members seeking an independent probe by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate or the CBI against Mr Raninder Singh (CM's son) for alleged hawala transactions relating to a project called Punjab Intranet. Meanwhile, Chief Minister dismissed the demand of SAD for a CBI inquiry against Mr Rana Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary.

Earlier, addressing the party rally, the Chief Minister made his intentions clear to hijack the Panthic agenda by celebrating all the centenaries connected with Sikhism. He said like the quadri-centennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib and other centenaries, the Congress would observe the forthcoming tercentenary celebrations of ' 40 Muktas' ( 40 liberated ones) of Muktsar in a big way. He said SAD had been raising objections over such celebrations by the Congress, as the Akalis had understood that the Sikh masses were no more with them. He asked: "Are the Congressmen not Sikhs and can't they celebrate the centenaries?"

The Congress is also likely to highlight the party's magnanimity towards Sikhs by elevating Dr Manmohan Singh and General J. J. Singh as Prime Minister and Chief of the Army Staff, respectively. He said while the Congress had done so much for the Sikhs, Punjabis had started asking Akalis what they had done for them when they had political alliance with the BJP at the centre.

Mr H. S. Hanspal said the Congress Government had released required funds for the 'Galilara Yojna' (beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple) while the SAD Government had failed to complete the same during their five-year term in the past. 


Dhindsa to meet CEC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD, secretary general and former Union Minister, will meet the Chief Election Commissioner on February 7, according to Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Badal said the SAD would demand deployment of paramilitary forces in Ajnala for conducting free and fair elections.


Punjab ministers flay Modi action
Ex-Army officers to meet Governor
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 2
The unprecedented action of the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government of Gujarat, which has cancelled the Gurpurb holiday, has come under sharp criticism from senior Punjab ministers, political and social leaders of Punjab.

These leaders said the Narendra Modi led-BJP Government was out to tarnish the democratic fabric of the country by adopting “Nadirshahi” tactics and by resorting to petty gimmicks.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Avtaar Henry, the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister, said the BJP Government had no right to play with sentiments of the people. “Guru Nanak did not belong to one sect or religion. His philosophy is relevant to the entire world and he is worshipped by crores of people across the globe. I condemn what Mr Modi has done and all of us should do it unitedly,” said Mr Modi.

Echoing similar sentiments, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Punjab Transport Minister, said he was stunned over the “unfortunate” development, effected by the Modi Government.

“Almost the entire world celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Even in countries like England and Canada, people observe the day with respect. But Mr Modi and his government has acted in a manner which is not only unprecedented in the history of the country, but, was also highly undemocratic and a direct interference in religious freedom,” said Mr Kaypee.

Mr Amarjit Samra, the Punjab Revenue Minister, termed the withdrawal of the Gurpurb holiday as deception of the people of India by the Modi Government. “It is not a matter of Sikhs alone, but concerns sentiments of people of the country. Mr Modi should not act in such an immature manner,” said Mr Samra.

Mr Anurag Sood, convener of the Sarb Dharam Sadhbhawna Sabha, Punjab, said Mr Parminder Singh, the general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, who has been spearheading the movement against the action of the Modi Government, should meet the President and Prime Minister at the earliest and seek their intervention.

On the other hand, Mr Partap Singh Chautala , younger brother of Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala also condemned the action of Mr Modi and said that this could distance the BJP from “right thinking” people.

When contacted, Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, said a five-member delegation of ex-Army officers led by Brig Z.S. Maan (retd) would meet the Punjab Governor at Chandigarh on Wednesday to apprise him about the situation and “hurt” sentiments of Punjabis and Sikhs. Senior Congress leaders, including Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, have also condemned the action of the Modi Government, said Mr Parminder Singh.


Key witness identifies cops in Khalra case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
A key witness in the Jaswant Singh Khalra case today identified the police officials facing trial in the case as those who had dragged the human right activist out of his Kabir Park house in Amritsar and taken him away in a Maruti van which was accompanied by a PCR vehicle.

The witness, Rajiv Singh, who claimed that he was present at Khalra’s house when the episode occurred, also listed a number of “false” cases slapped on him by the police force during the past five years to force him not to appear as a witness in the case. He claimed that he had been discharged in all cases which also included a murder case.

Rajiv Singh, while deposing in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S.P. Bangarh, said he was waiting in the drawing room of the human rights activist on September 6, 1995, when the incident took place. “Khalra was out washing his car while I was waiting for an Indian Express journalist who was to visit the house”. He said he was forced to go out when he heard raised voices and came face to face with a police team.

Rajiv Singh said the police team was headed by DSP Jaspal Singh and included the now deceased, DSP Ashok Kumar, SHOs Surinderpal Singh, Satnam Singh and Jasbir Singh besides SI Amarjit Singh, ASI Rachhpal Singh and Head Constable Prithipal Singh. He said he heard Jaspal Singh telling Khalra to accompany the team as he had been called by the then Tarn Taran SSP, Ajit Singh Sandhu.

“I intercepted in the matter and requested the DSP that Khalra would present himself before the SSP in proper attire but I was pushed aside”. Following this, he said, the DSP pushed Khalra into the Maruti van and his last words before leaving the place were to a senior police officer on his walky talky saying “kaam ho gaya”.

The witness claimed that after the kidnapping, he immediately rang up Mrs Paramjit Kaur Khalra who was in the library of Guru Nanak Dev University. He said at his instance Mrs Khalra came to the main gate of the university and he took her in a car to the nearest police station. “We were told that Khalra had not got there following which we rang up former Justice Ajit Singh Bains and also Shiromani Akali Dal human rights wing chairman Jaspal Singh Dhillon.

Rajiv Singh said he also took Mrs Khalra to meet the then DIG, Border Range, Mr D.R. Bhatti, who after listening to them asked them to contact the then DGP, Mr K.P.S. Gill, as the “issue was very serious”. He said despite various attempts, they could not find any trace of the human rights activist.

The witness also documented the number of cases filed against him during the past five years alleging this was done to stop him from giving witness in the case. He said a case was slapped on him when he went to give a memorandum to the United State’s First Secretary in the Golden Temple in 1998 under charges that he was getting a book on Khalistan released on the occasion. He said he was discharged in the case as well as in two others in which he was accused of indulging in a bank robbery and also being involved in the murder of a bank manager and a gunman. Rajiv Singh said a case was also registered against him for allegedly giving a bribe of Rs 50,000 to another witness in the case, Kuldeep Singh, which was also found to be false by the State Human Rights Commission.


This is not our India, say harassed NRI investors
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune News Service

"Yeh mera India…I love my India…"

This has been a favourite tune hummed by nostalgic non-resident Indians but once they come to back to invest in India the sentiments turn topsy-turvy with bureaucratic hurdles, corruption and hostile treatment paving the way to enterprise. This often has them exclaiming: "This not my India." This is also the case with the UK-based Derewal father-son team which has been running various charity projects in the country since 1999 and are now in the process of building a multi-facility hospital on the Sirhind road near Patiala.

Telling their woes in an interview at Chandigarh, they said that lured by the promises made by the Government of India and the Punjab Government, NRIs who had invested heavily in various sectors are a sad lot today. As member of the Institute of Asian Businessmen, London, Ranjit Singh Derewal, who recently received the Hind Rattan Award at the Parwasi conference in the last week of January, says: "The moment people in India come to know we are NRIs, the bribe and bazaar rates double. This is a major deterrent to NRI investment in the country." His son Jasbir Singh adds, "The situation in Punjab is worse and we shy away from being identified as NRI investors as we will be virtually ripped off."

The Derewals, who deal in real estate and run a chain of nursing homes in the UK, say that they were always proud of their humble Indian origins and are keen to invest in their homeland but the climate here is proving counter-productive. Speaking of his personal experience, senior Derewal says, " I do not mind paying what is due but I do not wish to pay double just because I am an NRI. At one point I was about to set up a mineral water plant near Gurdaspur but an official wanted to force on me a 10 per cent shareholder who would not invest anything." The junior Derewal adds, "In fact I find younger people in India responding better but the old mindset needs to be changed."

Recounting tales of disillusionment of several NRI investors, Ranjit Singh says, "Giving dual citizenship to NRIs has no meaning until the Indian system stops treating them like second- class citizens." He added that many NRI businessmen were now investing in countries like Bulgaria, Tazakistan and some other disintegrated Soviet states, for they were offering various concessions and facilities to foreign investors. "The scene must change here for the better for we would rather come back to our own country. We do love our India."


Hearing in turban case in France on Feb 11
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 2
The ban on turban in French schools had hogged the limelight in recent months. However, the French Sikhs are continuing their struggle to be able to freely support turbans in their day-to-day life and not face any discrimination on this count.

The turban issue, had come under public glare in France after an Amritdhari Sikh, who had settled in France in 1970, was refused a duplicate copy of his identity papers as he had not provided his photographs without the turban.

The issue had caused much consternation among the Sikh community in France in view of the fact that Mr Mann Singh Shinghara was a naturalised French by a decree. Earlier, he had faced no such problem.

Mr M Francois Jacquot, public prosecutor, was entrusted with his case.

However the United Sikhs, an organisation fighting for the rights of Sikhs the world over, has expressed grave concern over the discrimination meted out to Mr Shinghara and many others like him.

It expressed the view that the “right to non-discrimination” or the “right to equality” should actually mean a “right to difference” as inserted in the programme of presidential campaign by Mr Francois Mitterand in the 56th proposal. However, since a quarter of a century, no one heard about the matter nor tried to pursue it, it added.

The organisation stated it was a shame that the country’s quasi-unanimous political community pretended to be unaware of the fact that it was discriminatory to treat different people in a similar manner, just as it would be to treat in a different way similar people.

The first hearing in the case will be held on February 11.

According to a TNS report from New Delhi, France has assured India that it would respect the sentiments of the Sikhs within the framework of its law, adding that the ban on wearing turbans by Sikh students in French public schools was not intended to discriminate against the community. Rajya Sabha MP and president of the Indo-French Parliamentary Friendship Group Ashwani Kumar said the assurance was given on his recent visit to Paris on the invitation of President of the French Senate Christian Poncelet to attend a meeting of parliamentarians and businessmen, with focus on India.

Mr Kumar said he told the French Government that there was a need to assuage the sentiments of the Sikh community as it regarded the turban as an integral component of its way of life and religion. He said Mr Poncelet and other ministers assured him that the French law was not intended to discriminate against the Sikh community and the French Government would do its best to respect sensitivities and feelings of the Sikhs. The Rajya Sabha MP told The Tribune that he also invited French businessmen to invest in Punjab in food processing industries and IT.


Bank, Vigilance at loggerheads over corruption case against manager
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 2
The management of the Bank of India and the Punjab Vigilance are at loggerheads over the implication of a Pathankot-based senior manager of the bank involved in a corruption case.

The Punjab Vigilance sleuths had claimed to have caught a senior manager of the Bank of India posted at Pathankot, Mr D.K. Gupta red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from a local businessman in January. A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Mr Gupta and he was remanded into judicial custody.

In less than a fortnight after the incident, Mr Gupta is out on bail and has rejoined duty. It has been claimed that the bank management, in an inquiry conducted by its own officials, has given a clean chit to Mr Gupta and ordered his reinstatement at the same post in Pathankot.

It has also been claimed by the bank management that Mr Gupta had taken harsh measures against the bank defaulters by sealing their properties. Due to it, some loan defaulters conspired and got him trapped in the Vigilance net.

However, the reinstatement of the bank manager has the vigilance officials fuming. The DSP, (Vigilance), Gurdaspur, Mr Bakshish Singh, said the bank management had not contacted or consulted them before reinstating Mr Gupta. Though he had been reinstated by the bank, the case of corruption against him still stood, he said.

Sources said all nationalised banks came under the Union Government. The CBI generally handled the cases of corruption against the employees of the Union Government. Even if the Punjab Vigilance arrests some Union Government employee while accepting a bribe, it had to further hand over the investigation into the case to the CBI.

The DSP (Vigilance), when asked as to why the case had not been handed over to the CBI, said the practice of handing over the Union Government employee cases to the CBI was followed earlier. Now the Punjab Vigilance handled such cases on its own.

However, still if the CBI wanted to take over the case, we would hand it over to them.

The bank employees also accused the Punjab Vigilance officials of high-handedness. They alleged that generally the work of the bank pertained to handling of cash. If some loan defaulter came to a bank official and handed over some amount, it was generally understood that he was returning the loan amount. However, taking advantage of this, defaulters got the bank officials trapped just by handing over the cash to them. The Vigilance officials should assess the credibility of the complainant before taking action against bank officials.


Employees not to allow NHPC to take over Shahpur Kandi project
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 2
The joint action committee of the employees of the Ranjit Sagar dam yesterday declared that the employees would not allow the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) to take over the Shahpur Kandi project. At a press conference held at Shahpur Kandi today, the members of the joint action committee alleged that the government was trying to hand over the dam work to private contractors via the NHPC.

Recently the Government of Punjab signed an MoU with the NHPC in which the latter has been appointed as consultants for the long-pending Shahpur Kandi project.

The employees alleged that no private company was ready to take over the Shahpur Kandi project at a cost less than Rs 2,000 crore. However, the employees and management of the dam was ready to give an undertaking that they would complete the work within four years in less than Rs 1,000 crore provided the funds were provided timely by the government.

About 50 per cent of the material needed for the dam, including steel, machine parts and heavy earth moving machinery, was lying unutilised at the dam site. Moreover, the government was paying salary to about 10,000 employees without getting any work from them.

If the dam work was done through the department, the government would not only save the labour component but would also not have to pay anything for creating the basic infrastructure. Any private company taking over the construction work of the dam would take about 20 per cent as administrative charges. Even these could be saved if the work was done through the department, they maintained.

The employees threatened to gherao the NHPC team as and when it visited the site of the dam for inspection. They have also called a convention of the retired and serving employees of the dam on February 25 to present their case.

The employee leaders of the Ranjit Sagar dam who were present at the today’s meeting of the joint action committee included Mr Gian Chand Loomba, Mr Naresh Kumar Bajaj and Mr Harinder Randhawa.

Though the officers of the dam were not present at the meeting, their tacit support for the move was obvious from the fact that the members of the joint action committee were provided with official set up for organising the programme.


Punjab Roadways staff block own, CTU bus traffic
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 2
Employees of the Punjab Roadways today blocked the entry of CTU buses into Punjab and of their own vehicles into Chandigarh in protest against “unfair” practices adopted by the CTU authorities.

The protest started early in the morning near the Civil Hospital in Phase VI here with buses being parked across the road to block traffic. The traffic blockade was, however, lifted in a short time by the police.

The protest caused inconvenience to hundreds of commuters bound for Chandigarh and Punjab.

The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, and the SP, Mr Rakesh Agrawal, reached the scene and tried to pacify the protesters and contacted senior officials of the CTU.

Mr Jarnail Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Roadways Karamchari Dal and member of the joint action committee, told Chandigarh Tribune here this evening that the protest was lifted after an assurance was given by UT Home Secretary that the matter would be sorted out at the earliest. He said if no solution was found by February 15 then the protest would be restarted.

He said buses of the Punjab Roadways were not allowed to enter the main bus stand in Sector 17, Chandigarh. We have been asked to operate only from the bus stand in Sector 43, Chandigarh, which was causing a lot of inconvenience to passengers. He said the CTU had only eight route permits but were running 113 buses. Moreover, they were not carrying passengers holding Punjab Roadways bus passes. Buses of the Punjab Roadways were paying Rs 50 as parking fee in Chandigarh but the CTU buses did not enter Mohali bus stand and did not pay any fee leading to a loss of revenue.

Mr Jaswant Singh, general secretary, AITUC, Punjab, said many meeting had been held with senior officials regarding the problem but no solution was found. Protests were to be held in January but officials kept on asking us to put them off. He said buses of the Punjab Roadways had been challaned by CTU about three months back. Each day five buses were being challaned and this went on for about 15 days. A fine of Rs 2,000 was imposed each time.

Mr Pishora Singh and Mr Kanhaiya Lal, president and general secretary, respectively, of the CTU Employees and Workers Union, said the Punjab Governor had issued a notification according to which all buses coming from the Ropar side were to terminate at the Sector 43 bus stand, including those of the CTU. This was done to avoid traffic congestion in the city. They said many buses that had entered Punjab yesterday were not allowed to come back to Chandigarh today. About 25 CTU buses had been stopped at Ropar and about 30 in Ludhiana. All buses entering Punjab had the required permits. The SDM said the matter had been brought to the notice of senior transport officials of Punjab and Chandigarh. They would be holding a meeting in this regard.

Ropar: A large number of passengers travelling in CTU buses faced inconvenience today as members of the Punjab Roadways Employees Union did not allow buses to go to Chandigarh. They were demanding that Punjab Roadways buses should be allowed to carry passengers from Sector 17 bus stand in Chandigarh.


Autorickshaw drivers stop CTU buses
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 2
As an offshoot of the dispute between Punjab Roadways and the CTU, autorickshaw drivers in the town also resorted to protest and got CTU buses in the town vacated here today.

It is reported that autorickshaw drivers formed terams and went to various points like bus stand and stopped CTU buses. They then requested passengers to alight from the buses.

Mr Rajinder Singh Randhawa, president of the Sahibzada Ajit Singh Auto Rickshaw Union, said they had to resort to such an action because the Chandigarh police in connivance with CTU employees allegedly harassed autorickshaw drivers who carried passengers to Chandigarh today. “Autorickshaws were stopped and passengers were asked to get off. We were not even allowed to collect the fare from the passengers,” he added.

He said later in the day a meeting of various unions was held where it was decided that if the Chandigarh police did not allow them to enter UT tomorrow, CTU buses would not be allowed to enter the town. He said that autorickshaw drivers were challaned for overloading but CTU buses also went overloaded but the police did not take any action against them.


Elimination of corruption uphill task: Preneet Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 2
While admitting the presence of corruption in the state, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, has expressed serious concern about the rising incidence of female foeticide in Punjab.

Talking to The Tribune at residence of the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Avtaar Henry, during her private visit here, Ms Preneet Kaur said corruption was deep-seated in the state machinery and its elimination was an uphill task. “It has its deep roots in the officialdom. It needs a great deal of effort to remove corruption from the state. It is a different matter that corruption is on the decline due to the increased vigil and an ongoing drive by the Congress government against the vice,” she said.

Expressing concern over increasing female foeticide in the state, she said it was worrisome to observe that people of Punjab try to shun the girlchild. “It is so unfortunate. But primarily economic factors work behind this attitude. I am confused where the state will go by adopting such an attitude. We won’t find girls for our boys. The sombre scenario is bound to being bad consequences,” she said.

Stressing the need to sternly implement the PNDT Act in the state to put an end to the practice of female foeticide, Ms Preneet Kaur said awareness among schoolchildren was the only long-term solution to put an end to female foeticide. “We can hardly change the mindset of grown-up people. So, our effort should be to make our children aware about the fallout of the practice in future. Personally, I feel that parents must have a girl child for balanced upbringing of their children. Though I could not find time in the past, but now I would make all out efforts to make people aware,” she asserted.


BJP holds protest march
Seeks repair of roads
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 2
The state unit of the BJP, led by its chief Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, held a march from Dasuya to Hoshiarpur city today.

On 40-km route the BJP workers were received by people at Randhawa, Garhdiwala, Dosarka, Bhunga, Kang Mahi, Hariana, Bhikhowal, Bagpur and Hoshiarpur where rallies were staged. Participants raised slogan: “Sarak banao ya gaddi chhoro”

Addressing the rallies, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna and other leaders criticised Capt. Amarinder Singh regime for completely ignoring the interests of public and allegedly failing on all fronts.

They said all roads, including state highways and link roads, had not been repaired for the last three years. The government had failed even to carry out patch work on those. The travelling in Punjab had become very unsafe now and frequent accidents were reported daily, they added.

They said the government had made no effort to procure power from the national grid or from any other state. Frequent and undeclared power cuts had badly hit the industrial growth and the industrialists were facing financial crisis.

They said almost all buses of the Punjab Roadways had either covered their scheduled mileage quota or had completed seven-year stipulated period. These had become unserviceable now. No new bus had been added to any of the roadways depot, they added.

They said salaries were not given to government teachers for December, 2004, and January, 2005.

Mr Khanna said a memorandum in this regard would also be given to the Governor of Punjab. The march culminated at the town.


MLA conducts raid on MC office, finds 23 absent
Council chief calls it publicity gimmick
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 2
As many as 23 staff members, including senior officials, were found absent from office during a raid conducted by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, on the office of the Municipal Council in Phase VII here today.

The Municipal Engineer, Mr Tarsem Singh Rai, the Additional Executive Officer, Mr Charanjit Singh, three SDOs, five junior engineers, a superintendent, two accountants and three inspectors were among those who were absent in the office.

The action of the MLA drew strong criticism from the council president, Mr Kulwant Singh, who said Mr Bir Devinder Singh would not interfere in the working of the council. He said the MLA should pay more attention to development works in his constituency, particularly in the rural areas which were in a state of neglect, instead of indulging in publicity gimmicks.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who is also the ex-officio member of the council, accompanied by the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, reached the office at 9.15 a.m. and took the attendance register in his possession. Staff members who reached the office after the arrival of the MLA were not allowed to mark their attendance.

The MLA said attendance of the employees of the octroi wing had not been marked since January 17 but the salary statement of the employees was ready. Nearly 25 leave applications had not been recorded.

The state of affairs at the council office was brought to the notice of the Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, Mr B.R. Bajaj, by the MLA.

Later, the Chief Vigilance Officer of the department visited the council office here and questioned various employees. He took a report prepared by the Executive Officer with him.

The SDM pulled up Mr Mewa Singh, a superintendent, for not maintaining proper office records while he praised the work done by Ms Satwinder Kaur, stenographer.

Among those who were found absent were Mr Ajit Singh Kataria, Mr Rajinder Rai and Mr Narinder Singh Dalam, all SDOs, Mr Mohinder Pal, Mr Kamaldeep Singh, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Lali, Mr Sukhwinder Singh and Ms Neelam Mehmi, all JEs, Ms Rama Kalyan, superintendent, Mr Vijay Kumar and Mr Raghunandan Singh, accountants, Mr Naseeb Singh, Mr Mastu Singh and Mr Amrik Singh, inspectors, Mr Krishan Joshi, computer programmer, Mr Padam Prakash, Ms Sunita Rani, Ms Asha Rani, clerks, Roshni Devi, Harjinder Singh and Rajinder Singh sewadars.

Mr Kulwant Singh said he had called a meeting of some of the staff members of the engineering wing of the civic body yesterday in connection with a match being held at the cricket stadium in March. He had asked those present at the meeting to give a report regarding various works that had to be undertaken by the civic body before the match. A report in this regard had to be given by them by 10.30 a.m. today in the office as estimates for various works to be undertaken before the match had to be prepared. These estimates had to be cleared at the general house meeting to be held this month. As such instead of coming to the office direct, staff members had gone to the field.

Regarding other employees coming late to the office, the president said on many days they worked overtime and coming late to the office by a few minutes was not a very serious offence. He said that the MLA should have allowed them to mark their attendance and their time of arrival could have been mentioned in the records.


Disrespect to national emblem
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 2
Call it the printer’s mistake or the callous attitude of the publisher, the insignia of the Ashoka pillar which symbolises and defines the sovereign status of India, has been published in a wrong manner by the Ministry of Forest and Environment on the cover page of one of its books titled, “Guidelines and Instruction for Teacher Trainers on Environment”.

The horse and bull in the state emblem on both sides of the ‘dharmachakra’ has been published wrongly: the horse has been published on the right side and the bull on the left whereas it should have been the other way round. Besides, the horse and the bull, which should face the left side, are shown facing the right side.

Sources said the book priced at Rs 100 had been given free of cost to members of eco clubs of various schools and had also been circulated among those NGOs of the state, connected with environmental protection.

“Such a big mistake show the callousness of officials of Ministry of Forest and Environment and can be called nothing less than an insult to the national emblem, which represents the sovereignty of the country”, said Mr Chander Mohan, Joint Secretary, Punjab Law Forum. The forum would take up the matter at an appropriate level, he added.


‘Rogue’ monkeys get new home
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
Dharmender may finally get his mate. But he will have to go to Gurgaon for the purpose. The simian, Dharmender, is being rescued by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and can now look forward to companionship and spacious quarters at the monkey rescue centre in Gurgaon.

Dharmender and 17 other ‘rogue’ monkeys were being kept intermittently in two cages of 10 feet by 10 feet over a period of eight years at the Deer Park here. The monkeys had become even more ferocious because of the cramped quarters and the authorities had been forced to put up a wire mesh around the front bars of their cage to ensure any playful children did not get his hand bit by them.

Surprisingly the monkeys, who have built up a reputation based on their acts of menace, were bundled off into cages and transported into a van for further journey to Gurgaon yesterday without any hitch. “This is because of the special relationship they share with us”, says Sadhu Singh, who is one of the handlers of the ‘’rogues”.

The handlers have built up an empathy with the monkeys over the years. “We understand how they have been driven out of their natural habitat”, he says. The handlers say once a monkey is driven out of his natural habitat, he strikes back against perceived aggressors as a kind of reflex action. “Most monkeys keep to themselves but some do become rogues”, they add. Speaking about the various monkeys which have been kept in the two cages here, Sadhu Singh said Dharmender had got his name due to his good looks and daredevil antics. “We have monkeys who used to go after clothes or ladies purses and do similar such antics”, he adds.

Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) P.C. Ataliya admits that the state does not have any rehabilitation centre for the rogues. “They were being kept in cramped quarters because of lack of any specialised facility for them”, he says. The officer said, moreover, the two cages had seen their capacity being stretched to the utmost. “We started with keeping three to four monkeys in the beginning but over the years their number increased with all rogue monkeys being caught at various places in the state being transported here”.

Ataliya is happy to see the monkeys go. “The rescue centre by the name of Hanuman Vatika at Sultanpur in Gurgaon has come up according to the design specifications of the CZI”. He says the monkeys are likely to be given more space and movement in their new habitat which may in fact make them less aggressive over a period of time.


Providential escape for 35 bus passengers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 2
Over 35 passengers had a providential escape when the private bus in which they were travelling overturned on the Kalka-Ambala highway, near Bhankharpur village, early this morning.

The bus reportedly rammed into a tree and then rolled down into a ditch. The bus (DL-1PB-1724), carrying tourists, was heading for Delhi from Jammu.

According to eyewitnesses, the bus got stuck in the tree and later fell into the ditch after the passengers made a hasty exit.

While some passengers made their exit from the door, others jumped out of the windows.

The injured were given first aid at some local clinics. The passengers managed to make alternative arrangements for onward journey.

The traffic on the highway was disrupted for more than six hours following the accident.


Shopkeepers urge SSP to regulate traffic

Moga, February 2
A delegation of shopkeepers of the main bazar today met the SSP, Ms V. Neeraja, and urged her to rid the market of daily traffic congestions.

The delegation informed the SSP that Ram Ganj Road, Partap Road, Dussehra Ground Road, and Bagh Gali Road, experienced traffic snarls daily and it was left to commuters to manage the traffic on their own. They alleged that traffic policemen were not keen on regulating traffic flow on these roads. According to them, shoppers parked their vehicles in front of their shops, leading to traffic congestion and the situation worsened at the time of opening and closure of various schools in these areas. They demanded that parking lots should be located at some distance from the main bazar.

The delegation told the SSP that tractor-trailers, trucks, and rehris choked the traffic to such an extent that neither the Fire Brigade nor an ambulance could reach anywhere in case of an emergency. They demanded a ban on heavy vehicles and rehris in the main bazar and posting of traffic constables on these roads between 10 am and 6 pm.


Punjab Radio accessible in India
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 2
Listeners in India would now be able to relish Punjabi programmes aired by London-based Punjab Radio through satellite.

Mr Surjit Singh Ghumman, Managing Director, Punjab Radio, and Ms Navjot said here today that the programmes of the station would now be available for listeners in India through direct-to-home channels. “Though the programmes of the station could be listened to all over the world, except the USA, Canada and India, now we have made these programmes available to people of the USA and Canada through the Internet and to people of India through DTH,” said Mr Ghumman.


2 convicted on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Markfed’s Field Officer and a Head Constable have been convicted by special courts in different corruption cases registered by Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Disclosing this here today, a bureau spokesman said Field Officer Iqbal Singh, posted at Mandi Chuni Kalan in Fathegarh Sahib, was convicted by District and Sessions Judge Sabina. He was sentenced to two years and 10 months imprisonment. A fine of Rs 7000 was also imposed.

He was allegedly caught red handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 2000 from complainant Harnek Singh for purchase of paddy lying with an Aartia.

In the other case, HC Sucha Singh posted at Rajpura was convicted by Patiala’s Additional District and Sessions Judge Surinder Gupta. He was sentenced to one-year imprisonment.

He was allegedly caught red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 200 from complainant Mukesh Bhuneja for making an entry of his lost driving licence in daily diary report.


Farmers urged to adopt vermiculture
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 2
The District Agriculture Department organised a training camp for farmers at Randhawa village here today.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the camp in which more than 500 farmers from the area participated. During the camp, farmers were imparted training on how to adopt vermiculture and organic farming.

Mr Ahluwalia called upon the farming community to benefit from such camps. He said with the advent of globalisation only those farmers with technical expertise could survive.

He said it was imperative to adopt diversification of crops as the production per acre as well as the utility of soil had already achieved saturation point.

He urged the farming community to explore other potential areas such as vermiculture and organic farming so that cost of production could be reduced and production increased.

Later, the Deputy Commissioner visited the vermiculture farmhouse of a progressive farmer, Mr Jit Singh Randhawa.

He also attended a demonstration of organic farming and vermiculture.

Mr S.B.S. Sidhu, Director Agriculture, Punjab, highlighted the various activities initiated by the department for the betterment of farmers. He said the department was preparing the farmers to compete in the world market.

Mr Ashwani Mahajan of Nabard gave information about the facilities and loans given by banks to farmers for vermiculture technology.


Punjab to recruit 1372 doctors within two months
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Punjab Government will recruit 1372 doctors within two months to fill vacant posts in the state.

This was disclosed by Mr R.C. Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, here today.

Mr Dogra said that to curb absenteeism among doctors and paramedical staff in hospitals and dispensaries, specially in rural areas, a team of senior officers had been constituted at the headquarters. The team would conduct surprise checks in different hospitals and dispensaries and strict action would be taken against those found absent.

Mr Dogra said that for controlling and treating TB in the state, all districts have been covered under the revised national T.B. control programme. Earlier, nine districts of the state were under this programme. With sustained efforts of the doctors and staff, the state had become polio free in 2004, whereas 130 cases of polio had been detected in the other parts of the country.

The 154 secondary-level health institutions, district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals and Block-level community health centres, have been renovated under the Rs 450-crore World Bank-Aided health systems project.

The Health Minister also added that in order to reach the patients in far flung areas, six Rajiv Gandhi mobile hospitals were made operational in six districts — Bathinda, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepore, Gurdaspur and Patiala. The Punjab Government would have 20 more mobile hospitals by the end of this fiscal year. In order to make other hospitals strong in terms of infrastructure, 138 new ambulances and 17 surveillance vehicles have been added.

As announced by the Finance Minister in his last Budget speech, seven community health centres (CHC) would be upgraded. These are CHC, Mehraj (Bathinda), CHC, Singowal, CHC, Bhiani Mian Khan, CHC, Sujanpur (Gurdaspur) CHC, Patran (Patiala) CHC, Bhol Kalota (Hoshiarpur) CHC, Tappa (Sangrur).


Govt seeks suggestions on service rules
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
For rationalising Punjab Civil Services Rules the government has solicited comments and suggestions on draft rules from departments within a month.

Disclosing this a spokesman said the state Chief Secretary had asked Financial Commissioners, Principal Secretaries, Administrative Secretaries, heads of departments and Deputy Commissioners to comply with the instructions.

The spokesman revealed that a sub-committee for comprehensive review and simplification of Punjab Civil Services Rules has submitted the draft rules. He added that the Chief Secretary has asked the Departments of Home Affairs and Justice, besides Defence Services Welfare, Health and Family Welfare, Excise and Taxation and P.W.D. to pay special attention to provisions of fixed and permanent travelling allowance.

The spokesman said the comments of employees’ organisation could also be obtained to consider their views before finalising the rules. The spokesman further said in case comments had not been received from any department within the specified period, it would be presumed that the concerned department had agreed with the revised rules.


Punjab postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Additional Secretary with Punjab’s Local Government Arvinder Singh was today posted as Additional Secretary (Transport) against a vacant post. Additional Secretary (Cooperation) Amrit Lal Garg was posted as Additional Secretary (Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs).

According to an order issued by the state Personnel Department on behalf of the Governor, Mr Garg has also been posted against a vacant post. The orders have been termed as routine.


Chowkidar suspended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 2
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner has ordered the suspension of the chowkidar of the tehsil complex on a charge of dereliction of duty.

About Rs 3 lakh in cash and stamp papers were stolen from the record room of the complex which were illegally kept there by two stamp venders on Tuesday night.

The lock on the door was broken to gain entry into the room. It is learnt that the Tehsildar had sent a report to the Deputy Commissioner about the incident, apart from making a complaint to the police.


Chemist’s body found
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 2
A local chemist was found murdered under mysterious circumstances here last night. His body was found today near godowns located on Faridkot-Machakimal Singh Road, about 4 km from the town, whereas his scooter was found near Teachers Colony on the same road.

According to family sources the chemist, Surinderiqbal Singh Sukhija (48), ran his business from the Dogar Basti. His family got worried when did not return home till 10 p.m. and started looking for him.

However, in the wee hours today they got information that his scooter was lying near the Teachers Colony and around 9 p.m. they got report that his body had been found near the godowns.

The head of the deceased had been badly mutilated by stray dogs. An iron rod was also found lying near the body.

According to family sources Sukhija had closed his business premises about at 8.30 p.m. and might have been attacked by the killers on his way back.

His purse containing around Rs 17,000 in cash was also missing, said Mr Mohinder Singh Sukhija, father of the deceased.

Meanwhile, the local police has launched a vigorous search for the killers and also deployed sniffer dogs to get some clue.


Employee arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
An employee of the Food and Civil Supplies Department posted at Kapurthala, was caught red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a farmer for issuance of a ration card.

Mr Tulsi Ram, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, stated here today that Mr Gurmeet Singh of Dyalpura village in Kapurthala, in his complaint alleged that Mr Jagir Singh, who was posted as Inspector with Food and Civil Supplies Department, was demanding a sum of Rs 5,000 for issuance of a ration card of his family members. The deal was finally struck for Rs 2,000. Subsequently, the VB team laid a trap and caught Mr Jagir Singh red-handed while accepting marked currency notes worth Rs 2,000 from the complainant in the presence of two shadow witnesses.

A case under different sections of Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered while the arrested persons was being produced in the court.


Gas agency owners arrested
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 2
The police has arrested the owners of Super Associates, gas agency, on the charges of duping customers. The action against the gas agency was taken on the complaint of customers. The superintendent of police, Mr Manminder Singh, said that police had been receiving complaints against the gas agency. The district Food and Civil Supplies Controller, Mr Sukhdev Singh, was informed about the complaints.

He, accompanied by a police party yesterday raided the godown of the gas agency located at Dalhousie road. During the raid it was found that the agency officials were charging Rs 292 per cylinder from the customers against the godown price of Rs 283.45 fixed by the government. The rate of Rs 292 could be charged only if the cylinder was delivered at the doorstep of the customers.

The statements of the customers present on the spot were recorded and a case under the Essential Commodities Act was registered against Maharaja Krishna and Ramesh owners of the agency.


One held in fraud case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
The police yesterday detained a person who had allegedly submitted fake documents to the bank authorities concerned to get a housing loan.

The Lotus Tower branch of Punjab and Sind Bank had received an application from Harvinder Singh of the Ekta Vihar locality here with regard to sanctioning of the housing loan of Rs 10 lakh. The bank authorities found some documents to be fake.

Meanwhile, a person was arrested for purchasing psychotropic drugs from a medicine shop in the Dilkhusha market here. Lakhwinder Singh of Katyalpur village in Tanda was arrested with 300 capsules of psychotropic drug.

In another incident, major portion of a rubber chemical manufacturing unit near the Devi Talaab temple here was gutted. Material worth over Rs 2 lakh, was destroyed. It took fire brigade more than one hour to control the fire. The owner of the factory said a short-circuit was the cause of the fire.


Youth killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 2
Kanwal Kumar, a local youth, was killed on the spot when a mini truck (PAT-4853) coming from Gurdaspur side hit him at Gandhi Chowk here yesterday.

The truck driver, Pritam Masih, was handed over to the police. Mr Narinder Bedi, DSP, said a case against the driver had been registered under Section 304-A, 279, IPC.


Mobile phone thieves held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 2
The local police has busted a gang of mobile phone thieves operating in the Kanuwan area. In a press note issued here today, the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, said the accused Gurnam Singh, Navneet Singh and Nishan Singh, all residents of Bhikhari Harni village, looted mobile phone shops at Nainekot and Sathiali bridge.

The police has recovered 15 mobile sets, 13 mobile batteries, 20 Spice connections and other stolen instruments from the accused.


Arrested ETT teachers to be released soon: CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
The 19 unemployed ETT teachers who were lathi charged and arrested by the Patiala police for protesting against government on January 29, would be released soon.

This assurance was given by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during a brief meeting with the representatives of the ETT teachers at Ajnala.

He was in Ajnala on the occasion of filing of nomination papers by the Congress candidate Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala for the byelection to be held on February 23. He said the criminal case registered against the protesting teachers would be withdrawn paving the way for their early release.

A large number of agitating unemployed elementary teachers had been protesting and seeking jobs as there were a large number of vacancies in the schools of the state and the government had been dithering over the issue for quite some time.

The Chief Minister also assured that he would arrange a meeting of the unemployed teachers with the Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, to sort out their pending problems.

Earlier, 26 unemployed teachers were rounded up by staff of the civil line police station while they were on way to join the protest march during the Congress rally at Ajnala in response to a call given by the association leaders. They were later let off after the Chief Minister invited them for a meeting.

The police had made elaborate arrangements so that the agitating teachers could not disrupt the visit of the Chief Minister and whisked away the protesting teachers to a distant place where they were allowed to hold a rally.

The teachers were demanding the implementation of Kapurthala agreement and to start regular appointments which had been pending for a considerable time.


Teachers seek Kalam’s intervention
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
Even as the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) has sought the intervention of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, over Governor’s interference in the headship issue of department of physiotherapy and sports medicine, Prof M.P.S. Ishar, Dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences, also came in favour of the teachers.

Prof Ishar said universities were not like military academies, required only for training some professionals. The universities were to create and disseminate knowledge.

Meanwhile, Dr Davinder Singh, President of the association, claimed that points raised by the Governors office were both technically and factually wrong. He said it was not in the jurisdiction of the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the university, to direct the university authorities for amendment in the statutes.

He said the association was contemplating holding a rally and dharna by teachers of all universities in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, under the banner of the PFUTA.


Importance of Sikh Studies stressed at contact programme
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 2
The inaugural session of the first personal contact programme of the newly started MA, Sikh Studies (correspondence courses) was held in the Punjabi University Campus, today.

Former Vice-Chancellor Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr J.S. Grewal, inaugurated the function while Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai presided over it.

Dr Grewal emphasised that Sikh Studies was a vast subject which contained the concerted study of History, Political Science and cultural dimensions related to the Sikh religion.

Dr Grewal added that the ideology of Sikh-Studies, which was a system of inter-disciplinary approaches, provided a unique area of research in the field of comparative study of various religions of the world.

Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, in his presidential remarks said the ideology of Sikh Studies should be understood in its historical perspective.

The Vice-Chancellor further said the Sikh history was full of democratic citations which were not present in other religions, hence its study would not only enlighten other religions but also be of great help in uplifting humanity.

Earlier, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, Head of the Correspondence Courses Department, said this course would cover all aspects of Sikh Studies including political, historical, cultural and comparative analysis.


They express themselves through Kangra paintings
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
For the four hearing and speech impaired children from Kangra it was an experience of a lifetime. They not only got to paint at a workshop held at Modern Senior Secondary School here, but were even able to sell them at an exhibition later.

The workshop-cum-exhibition was organised by the Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development (CORD), which operates from Sidhbari in Dharamsala. Gaurav Chopra, who organised the workshop on behalf of CORD, said the four children who were participating in it belonged to villages in Kangra district.

They first interacted with children from Modern Senior Secondary School before started painting in the Kangra miniature style. Later, in the evening these miniatures were put on sale on the school premises. Gaurav Chopra said the children had been adopted by CORD, Sidhbari, and given training in Kangra style of miniature painting to make them self-sufficient.

School director Reena Sofat, who presided over the workshop, said the exhibition was a unique example of self-help and it should be encouraged. She also urged teachers of the school to donate Rs 10,000 to CORD for the purpose. School Principal Pratibha Sharma also spoke on the occasion.


Annual function of Rayat college
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 2
Bhangra, gidda, classical and western dance were the main attractions of the annual day celebrations of Rayat College here today. Student of all seven institution run by the Rayat Educational and Research Trust took part.

Students of the seven institutions were honoured. The students honoured for securing first position include Nidhi Kumar, Jagwant Kaur (ECE), and Chandni Kapoor.

Those honoured for sports achievements include Nitika, Anchal, Harman Preet and Depinder Kaur Surbhi Babbar was honoured for winning silver medal in classical dance competition in PTU youth festival; Shvinder Pratap Singh, Bhim Kaul, and Aviral Vyas for winning silver medals in PTU youth festival in quiz competition, Shvinder Pratap for best speaker , Amandeep Singh, for best software designer, Ritesh Sharma and Sarin both best in pre-developed software.


Principal nominated to Academic Council
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 2
The Governor of Punjab has nominated the Principal of DM College, Moga, Dr S.K. Uppal, as member of Academic Council of the Punjab School Education Board.

Dr Uppal is also the executive member of Punjab University Sports Committee and a member of the PU Academic Council as well as library committee. He has authored four books of which two are in English. He has received international recognition for his book, ‘Alienation in Contemporary Indian Poetry’.


Funds for school for deaf, dumb
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 2
Special funds of Rs 1.25 crore would be kept as deposits in the bank for running the local Mahant Gurbanta Das School for deaf and mute children, said Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the general house meeting of district Red Cross Society here today.

Mr Sinha thanked the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, for a grant of Rs 50 lakh. He said technical courses for these special children would be started shortly.

The annual budget for Red Cross Society was also passed in the meeting.

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