P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Singla justifies new taxes, power reforms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
The Finance and Planning Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, has justified raising rates of stamp and electricity duties besides ensuring reforms in power sector in a manner and at a pace which are feasible and beneficial to the state.

Reacting to editorial: “Planned mess — Punjab shows the way” in The Tribune on February 3, Mr Singla said the Congress inherited a government with empty treasury and stagnant growth. The Congress government has taken definite measures to improve the state’s fiscal health and restore and increase its rate of growth.

The economy of the state has improved over the last three years, though a lot more needs to be done. The growth rate of gross state domestic product (GSDP) has increased 3.87 per cent as compared to 1.8 per cent in 2002-03. The revenue deficit as a percentage of receipts has come down from 42.34 per cent to 29.35 per cent in 2003-04. Gross fiscal deficit has decreased from 7.1 per cent to 6 per cent. Further, the state’s own tax revenue has increased at the rate of 13.8 per cent per annum during the last three years, Mr Singla said.

“We inherited the situation whereby the entire revenue of the state was pre-empted by salaries, pension and debt servicing. The state government has been pleading with the Union Government for assistance to break free out of fiscal straight jacket. It is correct that the state government pleaded for expeditious clearance of Structural Adjustment Loan with the Planning Commission, but it is incorrect to say that our request was turned down outrightly. The state government highlighted its fiscal achievements and desired that Structural Adjustment Loan by the World Bank may be expedited.”

“The state’s planning and fiscal reforms programme should not be studied in isolation. It needs to be considered in a historical perspective. Owing to internal law and order disturbances faced by the state for over a decade, investors’ confidence was too low, debt burden was exorbitant and governance too regulatory. All these are now being changed through various plan interventions and reform measures,” said Mr Singla.

Punjab had a record of over 100 per cent Plan performance from the early nineties till 1996-97. The performance declined to 71 per cent in 2002-03 and further to 56 per cent in 2003-04. The utilisation of Plan funds has started improving and it is expected that current year’s performance would be about 80 per cent.

He said the state government had taken a number of measures for ensuring higher utilisation of Plan resources. These measures include power sector reforms, infrastructural development and promotion through the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and mobilisation of additional resources for social security and welfare by raising stamp and electricity duties.

The state has invested over Rs 800 crore in roads and bridges and a number of new initiatives, including 18 road corridors, 12 flyovers and ROBs, bus stations at Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana, 10 bus stations in sub-divisions, 10 ITIs, polytechnics in Gurdaspur, Sangrur and Jalandhar and district-level hospitals at Amritsar and Bathinda have been planned with an investment of over Rs 2,000 crore, which the state government hopes to leverage through the PIDB.

He said the state government also plans to set up an urban renewal fund of Rs 250 crore to improve basic civic amenities in cities and towns. Another dedicated social security fund of Rs 450 crore was being set up to ensure hassle-free disbursement of pensions to Rs 15 lakh old aged, widows and destitute.

Raising rates of stamp and electricity duties would contribute to this fund.

“Investors’ increased confidence is clearly visible from the fact that the state government has sanctioned industrial projects worth over Rs 8,000 crore in the first nine months of the current year. We hope to attract more investment once our proposals to set up an IT-based SEZ in Mohali and another SEZ in Amritsar are approved by the Government of India.”

“The industry would get a major boost in the state after establishment of an international airport at Phillaur, which is currently under consideration of the Centre. The size of the state annual Plan 2004-05 was fixed at Rs 3,480 crore. This has been realistically appraised in keeping with the position of the source availability and revised to Rs 2,750 crore. The state annual Plan for 2005-06 has been fixed at Rs 3,550 crore, 31per cent of which would be dedicated to the power sector. This Plan size can be revised upwards after implementation of the report of the 12th Finance Commission. We are also hopeful that state’s World Bank projects on roads and rural water and sanitation would be cleared. The Council of Ministers has already cleared the proposal to take advantage of Swajal Dhara Scheme of the Centre.

“It is surprising to learn about scuttling of power sector reforms through your editorial. We are unaware of any such move. The state government is fully committed to ensure power sector reforms in a manner and at a pace, which is feasible and more beneficial to the state.

Except in your editorial, not many have questioned the state government’s decision to set-up social security fund by raising rates of stamp and electricity duties. It merely implies to tax those who are capable to pay for those who are unable to sustain two meals a day on their own,” said Mr Singla.


Coop bank in soup over investment in non-govt bonds
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur February 6
The management of the Pathankot-based Hindu Cooperative Bank is in a soup over investment in non-government bonds in alleged gross violation of the provisions governing the cooperative banks. Highly placed sources in the Department of Cooperative told TNS that a preliminary inquiry had indicted the Managing Director(MD) of Hindu Cooperative Bank for allegedly investing in non-government bonds in violation of the rules.

The Department of Cooperative has, however, started a further inquiry into the channels through which the investment was made. The inquiry against the bank MD was ordered by the former Parliamentary Secretary for Cooperative Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa after he received complaints of serious corruption against the former.

In a complaint, it was alleged that the bank MD had purchased 6000 bonds of the Kolkata-based Industrial Investment Bank of India despite the fact that it was a weak financial institution. Moreover, as per the rules, the cooperative banks can only invest in government bonds, whereas the said bank, besides being financially weak, was technically a PSU.

It was also alleged that the said bonds of the bank were sold on April 15 and 19 last year at a price of Rs 17,900 per bond against the prevailing market rate of Rs 17,950 per bond.

After selling the said bonds, the bank MD allegedly purchased bonds of other state public sector units. Bonds worth Rs 7 crore of the Vadodra Hotel and Bridges were purchased allegedly at a price higher than the prevailing market price. Besides, allegations have also been levelled that bank money was invested in Himachal Pradesh in gross violation of the rules.

Other allegations against the bank MD were that he kept his brother as the sole advocate on the panel of the bank for Pathankot in violation of the guidelines of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. As per the guidelines of CVC, the government officials cannot give direct or indirect benefit to their kin.

The bank MD when asked, however, said that earlier there were four advocates on the panel of the bank. However, two of them died and one became an MLA. Due to it, accidentally his brother remained as the sole lawyer on the panel of the bank.

Allegations were also levelled that sister-in-law of a bank director was recruited in the bank on the basis of a fake certificate. She was terminated from service but no case was registered against the officials who recruited her on the basis of the fake certificate.

However, the authorities of the Department of Cooperative are focusing on just the charges of investments made in non-government bonds in violation of the rules rather than on other charges mentioned in the complaint.


New excise norms to hit pharma industry
Our Correspondent

Nabha, February 6
The Central Government’s notification to charge excise duty on retail price of drugs has created confusion in the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier, excise was being levied on first billing price, but now as per new notification it will be charged on 65 per cent of (maximum retail price) (MRP). Consequently the small-scale pharma industry shall lose its marketing edge, making them commercially unviable and lead to the closure of these units.

The Confederation of India Pharma Industry (CIPI) has urged the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to reconsider the decision. The CIPI claims the notification has come like the proverbial bolt from the blue leaving everyone stunned in the industry, who are already facing a financial crunch due to implementation of new schedule “M”.

Recognising the importance of small-scale industry, the Government of India has granted exemption from excise duty upto turnover of Rs 1 crore, but the new notification will reduce the limit considerably and defeat the purpose of exemption. The CIPI alleged that the notification is neither revenue friendly nor consumer friendly. The conclusion is based on the fact that if the notification continues to be in force, the small and medium scale industry which contribute about 55 per cent of medicine production in the country by way of volume and 30 per cent by value shall have no other choice than migrate to tax-free zones like Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Jammu & Kashmir or to close their units permanently. In both cases a capital investment of Rs 6,000 crore is likely to go in drain apart from making almost 20 lakh jobless. In case these units wish to continue at there present locations, they have no other choice but to increase the MRP by 20 per cent.

But this is not as easy as it seems to be, goods of SSI shall become incompetitive if excise burden is passed to the consumer” says Mr V.D. Gupta, owner of Stadchem of India, Faridabad.

By eliminating small-scale pharma industry the sales of Rs 9,000 crore shall go to multinational companies who will further manifold this,” fears Mr Vipul Ghai of Biologics & Psychotropics, Faridabad.

The Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) has also appealed the government to reconsider this decision.


Paucity of funds stalls Education Guarantee Scheme
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 6
The idea of the Central Government to educate children of poor section of the society in the district under the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) has failed to take off due to paucity of funds. Even after the lapse of 11 months, 70 per cent of funds are yet to be released by the Centre due to failure of the state government to contribute its share in the project. The fund was to be released to the Education Department by the end of March last year for the year 2004-2005, the sources said.

The Education Department had made a proposal of Rs 8 crore to educate the children living in the slums and backward areas. Out of it, Rs 6 crore was to released by the Central Government while Rs 2 crore was to be contributed by the state government. So far, only Rs 93.22 lakh has been released to the Education Department to pay salaries to the teachers.

As per the scheme, students of such 100 schools functioning in the district after getting basic education were to be enrolled in the primary government schools. But so far the EGS scheme, a part of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, could not yield any fruitful result. When the scheme was launched a year ago, a total of 3,956 students below the age of 14 were enrolled, but now the strength has been reduced to 2,761. Only 108 students from the schools have been enrolled into primary schools of the district so far.

Due to paucity of funds, the schools are being functioning in open without basic infrastructure. The teachers have not been provided chairs and the students have no mat or benches to attend the classes. The authorities have failed to arrange even the black boards.

Its not all, about 117 teachers working in the schools are getting very low salary. Each teacher, irrespective of their qualification, is getting only Rs 1,000 per month, which is much less than the minimum wages fixed by the government. There are many teachers who have done post graduation.

A visit to a school with a strength of 245 students situated at Haweli Kalna (Muslim colony) here, shows the grim picture of official neglect. Insanitary conditions were prevailing all around and only 100 students were attending the classes in the open.

The teachers did not have proper chairs and benches. Moreover, the teachers have to change the venue everyday as no permanent space was available to them in the colony.

When contacted, the District Coordinator of the EGS scheme, Mr Narinder Singh, said they had been doing their best to educate the children who could not afford to attend the regular schools. He said the schools would be regularised after completion of two years and added that as per the scheme, local people of the areas had to provide the school building. Mr Narinder Singh said the senior education official had assured them to provide basic infrastructure soon.


Tribune Impact
NGOs come forward to clear Holland aid for tsunami victims
Our Correspondent

Wagah, February 6
The nine-member team of Motherhood, an NGO from Holland, are putting up at the international border braving the inclement weather while residing in their 10 trucks since Friday noon.

They had brought 10 large trucks stuffed with humanitarian aid but could not proceed to Tamil Nadu as the Customs Department had not exempted duty.

However, after reading the news item in these columns published on February 5, numerous NGOs had come forward to help the Dutch NGO in its task. The United Sikhs and Earth Care Institute and Chandigarh-based Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust had rung senior custom officials. Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Asian Director of the institute and former secretary SGPC, and Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema said they were trying to get the material aid clear.

They said though the Central Government had already announced not to take any aid from outside, the fact should not be forgotten that the Dutch NGO had brought these trucks after travelling 10,000 km. They said it would not be in good taste to return them.

Ms Nicolien De Kroon, Director of the NGO, today wrote a letter to the Customs Department in New Delhi demanding that if not exempted the duty must be charged in Chennai. She said some NGOs based in South India had urged her to bring the material aid. These NGOs are St. Karunalaya, Thomas Hospital, both based in Chennai, and the BGM Social Service Centre in Kerala.

Ms Kroon said that she had not yet received any information from their five other members who had gone to Islamabad for arranging travel documents to enter India.

Mr Willem Van Der Zwaag (66), the oldest member of the group, said that they slept in the trucks for two nights and faced no problem as they carried the required material with them. He said they had adequate experience of such situation. Mr Jarno Kooiker (20), the youngest member of the team, said that they were desperately waiting for the clearance.

The other members of the group are Mr Henk Zieleman, Mr Kokko Belga, Mr Jan Hoving, Mr Feike Sybrandi, Mr Jaap Vinke and Mr Jan Posseth.

Mr P.S. Bisht, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, said the department had forwarded the request letter of Ms Kroon to the Delhi office and it was upto them to decide.


BJP leader among 4 booked for death of BSNL worker
Our Correspondent

Raman Mandi (Bathinda), February 6
Om Parkash Lakhani, a local resident, who was involved in some financial transactions with people of the Raman mandi area, died today after he was allegedly forced to consume celphos tablets by four persons, including a BJP leader and a doctor.

Following the death of Om Parkash Lakhani, who was working with BSNL, a case was registered against Mr Sunil Bitta, general secretary of the BJP of the Bathinda district unit, Dr Tej Ram Garg, Mr Satish Kumar of Mansa and Mr Jeet Gupta Kandewala on a complaint by Mr Kuldeep Raj, brother of the deceased.

Police sources said that a case under Sections 306, 506 and 34 of the IPC was registered against the four in the local police station.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that Om Parkash, who was involved in financial transactions with some people of the area, consumed celphos tablets last evening when he was allegedly being pressured by the four to give money, which he owed to them. Unconfirmed reports said that a suicide note was also recovered from the possession of Om Prakash.

When Om Prakash failed to pay money and declared himself to be insolvent, he was pressured to transfer the ownership of a shop owned by him in the name of the accused in lieu of the money owed.

Sources said that Om Prakash was kidnapped by the accused and was beaten up a day before he allegedly consumed celphos tablets. He was also threatened of dire consequences.

Relatives of Om Prakash took him to a hospital in Ludhiana where he died today.

Police sources said that after the accused came to know about the fact that Om Parkash had consumed celphos tablets, they went into hiding. Though police raided their possible hideouts no arrest was made so far.


Virk’s office to review promotion orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Acting fast, the office of the new Punjab Police chief, Mr S.S. Virk, has flashed instructions to all the district police chiefs and other officers such as DIGs, IGs and ADGPs concerned not to implement the orders of promotion of various police ranks issued bypassing the administrative wing by the office of former DGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui.

Informed sources said today that a teleprinter message was sent to all the police officers concerned last night in this connection by the office of the new DGP. Field officers had been told to send the cases of promoted persons back to the state police headquarter here. It had come to the notice of the office of the new DGP that certain promotions of constables, head constables, ASIs and other ranks were ordered without routing through the establishment branch of the Police Department. Such promotions would re-examined.

Sources said that about 300 promotions of various ranks were ordered. Orders in some of the cases had already been implemented. But certain police officers in the field had not executed the promotion orders.

Defending the promotions, sources close to Mr A.A. Siddiqui, who retired on January 31, had stated earlier that promotion orders were issued by remaining within the purview of powers bestowed on the DGP by the relevant police rules. Nothing wrong was done. And some of the promotions were ordered on the recommendations of police officers in the field.


Doing away with ETT entrance test to hit rural students
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) course aspirants from rural areas will be hit hard by the Punjab Government’s decision to do away with the entrance test for admission to this course.

In a sudden move, the state government had announced last evening that it would admit candidates in the course on the basis of pure merit to be finalised taking into count the marks secured by them in the Plus II examination and not to hold the entrance test and interview of candidates for admission.

It is an established fact that students in urban areas secure better marks than their counterparts in the rural schools a majority of which are in a bad shape for various reasons, including non-filling of thousand of vacant posts of teacher by the state government. What to talk of securing high marks, even the pass percentage in schools in the rural areas is very low.

Urging the authorities concerned to revise the decision regarding entrance test, educationists based in the rural areas say that students secure high percentage of marks in urban schools because they enjoy far better facilities in urban schools compared to the rural schools where education system has almost collapsed.

They say there would be remote chances of admission of rural students in the ETT course in case the government made the admission on the basis of pure merit. “It is easier for rural students to perform better in the entrance test because the syllabus for such a test is limited. Moreover, rural students join private coaching academies available in even small towns to prepare for this test”, they add.

If the admission in B.Ed, MBBS, engineering and other professional courses is made on the basis of entrance test, then what is the logic to do away with it in case of ETT course, educationists ask.

Otherwise, there is only 2 per cent reservation in seats for rural area students. Out of 200 seats of ETT course allocated to each district, 50 per cent are reserved for girl students. And there is further reservation of 50 per cent seats for various categories such as SCs (25 per cent), Backward Classes (5 per cent), Border-Bet area (2 per cent) wards of PAP and Punjab Police jawans (3 per cent), handicapped persons (3 per cent) and so on.

Earlier, the state government had fixed February 27 to hold the entrance test. But this condition was removed yesterday. The government has stated that it would issue another advertisement to seek fresh applications for this course. However, no time frame has been fixed whereas already over 80,000 aspirants for admission have applied to take the entrance test in response to an earlier advertisement given by the government on December 30. In fact, students had already joined coaching classes in the light of entrance test which was to be held on February 27.


Liquor smuggling is big business
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 6
Smuggling of liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab has become big business. The alleged smugglers from Chandigarh have a strong network with connections with officials of the state Excise Department, the police and the smugglers.

The major centres of consumption of liquor from Chandigarh are Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Moga.

Enquiries by The Tribune reveal that a case of Bagpiper Whiskey from Chandigarh costs Rs 900 and is sold for Rs 2,000 per case at Ludhiana and Rs 1800 per case at Jalandhar and Moga, respectively.

In retail, the price is Rs 75 per bottle, which is sold at Rs 220 per bottle in Ludhiana, according to sources.

With the wedding season at its peak, the overall sales of liquor, including countrymade liquor are high.

In Ludhiana district alone, more than 50,000 bottles of countrymade liquor are being sold by official liquor vends, according to the officials of the state Excise Department.

The liquor smugglers operate in a ‘regulated’ manner. They operate in three vehicles. First one vehicle moves in advance to inform the carrier of the liquor if the route is clear.

Then the vehicle carrying the liquor is followed by an escort vehicle. In case of its being caught, the escort informs the operators, who “manage” the things with the police and the Excise Department.

The vehicles used in the smuggling are normally luxury cars. Smugglers earlier used to use bicycles. They have become rich and own luxury cars.

It is learnt that the liquor from Chandigarh is also smuggled to Delhi on trucks. The reason for large-scale smuggling of liquor from Chandigarh is the low rate of excise and sales tax.

It is learnt that the unemployed youth is engaged by the operators and in some cases women are also involved.

Meanwhile, liquor contractors of Punjab, who have high stakes in the business, have raised private armies who check vehicles at the borders of the districts without any legal authority. They have become law unto themselves.

These liquor contractors have strong political clout and their private armies go to marriage places to find out if the liquor being served there is after a valid licence.

These goons allegedly misbehave with members of the marriage party.


Jagmeet meets Hanspal
Calls for meeting on delimitation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 6
A senior Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, who had recently ruffled many political feathers by adopting a critical approach on the issue of development and functioning of the state government, held a closed-door meeting for over two hours with the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, here today.

“There were many issues to be discussed with Mr Hanspal. So, I meet him at his residence,” said Mr Brar. “I earlier met senior leaders of the Congress high command to discuss various matters relating to Punjab. All those issues also came up for discussion with Mr Hanspal,” he said.

Mr Hanspal had instructed all senior leaders to stop issuing statements against each other till February 23, the day polling for the Ajnala byelection is to be held, said Mr Brar. “I respect what Mr Hanspal has said in this regard,” he added.

“As Mr Hanspal has asked me to devote maximum time in the Ajnala constituency, I would be proceeding to Ajnala soon,” said the leader. He said Mr Hanspal deserved appreciation for the efforts made by him to convince Maj Rajbir Singh to withdraw from the contest against the official candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh.

Recently Mr Brar was not given time to speak at a political conference held at Muktsar.

“I have asked Mr Hanspal to call the emergency meeting of the Congress to discuss the issue of delimitation of various Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies,” said Mr Brar.

It was an urgent issue and should be discussed at the earliest possible. Mr Hanspal has assured that the meeting would be called immediately after the byelection, he added.

Joining the issue with the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Brar said: “I am ready for a full-fledged debate with Ms Bhattal on the issue of development and functioning of the government.”

“What I have been saying about the development in the state was also stated in the Punjab Human Resources Development report and in the World Bank report released recently,” he added.


Discipline to be maintained at all costs, says Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
The Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president HS Hanspal said here today that the case of allegations against the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, could be handed over to the CBI if the government felt the need for this. He pointed out that the government had already marked an inquiry to an ADGP.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Hanspal said Mr Sodhi had already clarified to him that he was not involved in the case.

On the issue of Mr Jagmeet Brar, Mr Hanspal said he had already clarified and sorted out all differences with him. So much so, Mr Brar had announced that he was ready to work for the party in any capacity as deemed fit.

He said discipline would be maintained in the party at all costs. Mr Hanspal observed that the PCC was totally united and there were no differences in it.

Mr Hanspal said the state government was committed to all-round development in the state.

The PCC president claimed that the Congress was comfortably placed in Ajanla and was certain to win the byelections there.

He said the power situation will soon be controlled and all regions in the state will get due and adequate power.

He pointed out that despite all odds the state government had ensured that there was regular and uninterrupted power supply to the farm sector.


Mann warns Cong not to play Hindutva card
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 6
The SAD (Amritsar) president, Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, on Friday warned the Congress Party not to play Hindutva card and create trouble for minorities.

Mr Mann, who was on a visit to Minia village here, said the Congress was meant to be a secular party. He said that former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi played Hindutva card in Jammu & Kashmir polls after she became the Prime Minister in 1980 and later by sending the Army to the Golden Temple. He said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi followed her footsteps and declared Anandpur Sahib agreement “secessionist” and Sikhs “anti-national”.

He alleged at the time of Babri Masjid’s demolition the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao sided with the BJP. Mr Mann said the party should desist from playing Hindutva card, as the BJP could outdo it at every stage.

He said the party should learn a lesson from the way people gave verdict against Hindutva in the last Lok Sabha elections and threw the BJP out 
of power.


Corruption main issue in byelection: ex-minister
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 6
The former Punjab Finance Minster, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said here today that a corrupt Amarinder government would be the main issue in the Ajnala by-election.

Talking to mediapersons after inaugurating Nishan Health Club, he said the government claimed to remove corruption at all levels but it proved to be the most corrupt government.

He said the government had imposed fresh taxes to the tune of Rs 450 crore and wasting money on pleasing its leaders by accommodating them in various boards and corporations. He critisised the government for increasing stamp duty from six to nine per cent and duty on electricity bills from three to 10 per cent.

On the VAT issue, he said the Akali government had decided that VAT would be implemented after consulting traders and now the government was showing undue haste in implementing it. 


Children from Jammu pay obeisance at Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
From their appearance, they looked like children next door. But after speaking to them one comes to know about the trauma they had passed through. “We and our parents had passed fearful days and nights in trouble-torn areas of Kashmir before shifting to migrant camps in the Jammu region,” says Kirti, a student, who along with a group of 25 militancy-affected children from Jammu region, visited the holy city here today.

They are on an educational tour organised by 16 corps operating signal regiment. The tour was flagged off from Nagrota (Jammu and Kashmir) on February 4. It has been organised under the “Operation Sadbhavana” programme launched by the Army.

The group, including 18 boys and seven girls in the age group of seven to 19 years, paid obeisance at Golden Temple. “It is very peaceful here and people are roaming freely without any fear” said Preeti. Unlike here, there are security guards in every nook and corner of Jammu and Kashmir, she added.

They are student of Government Higher Secondary School, Nagrota, Doman and Sri Ved Mandir Bal Niketan Orphanage Centre, Jammu. Ms Sushma, Mr Bansi Lal, Col Mohar Singh and Major Vaishali Singh, all teachers, are accompanying the group.

They prayed for improvement of the Indo-Pak relations and establishment of peace in the trouble-torn valley. They also visited Durgiana Temple, Jallianwala Bagh and Wagah Border.

Col Mohar Singh while talking to mediapersons said the main objective of the tour was to assist students in identifying themselves more closely with countrymen, motivate them, make them aware of the country’s rich heritage and update them of the progress made in other parts of the state.

He said these students would visit historical monuments, places of tourist attraction and interact with schools children in New Delhi and Agra. While in Delhi they would also have the privilege of visiting Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Anti-tank bombs found at junk shop defused
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 6
The live anti-tank bombs, recovered from the junk shop of Jagdish Chander near the military station here, were defused by a special squad yesterday.

DSP Narender Pal Singh held a meeting with the local junk dealers at the city police station yesterday. He asked them to check their stores. If any thing suspicious was found, it should be deposited at the police station, he said.

The junk dealers were assured that no action would be initiated against them if they surrendered such explosive metal objects immediately. They were warned against buying such scrap in future.

Meanwhile, the Junk Dealers Association yesterday paid Rs 6,000 as compensation assistance to the affected families.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, former minister, who returned from Chandigarh yesterday, visited the families of junk dealers, Jagdish Chander and Surjit Singh Grover, who had been killed in the bomb explosion on Thursday evening. He offered his condolences to the bereaved families and assured them of compensation on behalf of the state government. A condolence meeting of the city Congress committee was also held yesterday to mourn the tragic deaths.


Income Tax official’s arrest tip of iceberg
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 6
The CBI raids on the premises and office of an Assistant Commissioner Y.K. Saxena and lawyer, Mr Kamaljit Shelly, and later the arrest of the Assistant Commissioner Saxena by the CBI are reported to be part of a much bigger operation of the CBI into unaccounted money and complaints of corruption against a very senior officer of the Income Tax Department based at Chandigarh handling a very sensitive wing of the Income Tax Department.

What has been revealed during the raids at the premises of Mr Saxena and questioning of Shelly are stated to be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The CBI is said to be after very big fish of the Income Tax Department against whom there had been numerous complaints of corruption and many enquiries were held against him in the past.

According to sources in the Vigilance Department, the vigilance wing got complaints that some officers of the Income Tax Department, Chandigarh, had been forcing businessmen in Ludhiana as well as in northern region to deposit huge sums of money in a private trust called ‘Mother India Fund’. The vigilance wing of the Income Tax Department in Delhi asked the Chief Commissioner, Income Tax Chandigarh, in a letter in October, 2004 to collect facts on the complaints that many businessmen in Ludhiana as well as in the northern region were being harassed by officers for collecting money in the name of a fund called, ‘Mother India Fund’ for which a bank account was opened in the ICICI Bank and people were being asked to deposit cash in order to avoid any enquiry or survey. The vigilance wing had asked the Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chandigarh, to get details of the bank account of ‘Mother India Fund’ and all other necessary information related to this fund and the persons operating the account.

When the Vigilance Department received details of the ‘Mother India Fund’ account from Chandigarh, it revealed that almost around Rs 8 crore to Rs 10 crore had been deposited in this account in Ludhiana in a period of about 17 months from June 16, 2003 to November 8, 2004 and as much as Rs 8 lakh to Rs 9 lakh was deposited in cash in some entries. The Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax Department, Saxena, who was arrested at Ludhiana, was known to be the right-hand man of the senior officer based at Chandigarh who was allegedly the real beneficiary and was in a position to twist the arms of businessmen. The lawyer, Shelly, was very close to this officer who was earlier posted at Ludhiana for about seven years.

The investigations into the ‘Mother India Fund’ have revealed that it had its headquarters as mentioned in their cards of the ICICI Bank as F-4/2A, DLF Phase-I, Gurgaon, Haryana. The account was opened in the ICICI Bank, Jandu Towers, Miller Ganj, Ludhiana.

The details of deposits and withdrawls are revealing. In seven months there have been as many as 81 entries of cash deposits, out of which 22 are of the deposits of more than Rs 2.5 lakh each. There is one entry of Rs 9 lakh, two entries of Rs 8 lakh each, 4 entries of Rs 5 lakh each, two entries of Rs 4 lakh each, 13 entries of over Rs 2 lakh each. The remaining entries are mostly of Rs 2 lakh and 1 lakh.

The investigations show that most of the amount has been transferred to the account of Agni Productions of which there are 74 entries and some entries of money transfer are to one auto company. An interesting feature is that as soon as some money is accumulated in the ‘Mother India Fund’, the money is immediately transferred to the Agni Productions account and some other account leaving a few thousand rupees in the account.

The main suspect in this investigation was holding a very important post at Chandigarh and was recently transferred following complaints. This senior officer had been having long political arms and always escaped enquiries. Even now he was using a central minister to pressurise the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, to get his transfer cancelled. But ultimately he had to leave. This officer had been having special interest in Ludhiana, the biggest industrial town in the region. Last year he was pressurising Mr Chidambaram through his political connections to get his Chandigarh office shifted to Ludhiana and to retain his house. But he could not succeed and he had to vacate his Ludhiana house after many months having occupied it even after his posting to Chandigarh. The CBI is pinning hopes on the interrogation of Assistant Commissioner Saxena to reveal the facts.

According to RBI guidelines, no bank is permitted to have cash deposits of more than Rs 50,000 and if the cash deposit is for more than Rs 50,000, the depositor has to give the permanent account number (PAN) along with the deposit. The ICICI Bank, Ludhiana branch, will have to explain all this to the CBI and also identify those who made these deposits and if the bank fails to do so, the complicity of the bank staff, particularly the manager will be proved in this scam.

The CBI during the raids at Ludhiana at the house of Mr Saxena found huge details of properties and recovered cash. He is in police remand and his interrogation will make further sensational revelations. Besides, the questioning of lawyer Shelly will also help the CBI in unmasking the hidden wealth. Shelly is known to have close relations with the income tax officers.


Wild animal kills 22 sheep
Our Correspondent

Mania Wala (Muktsar), February 6
Panic gripped the residents of this village in Muktsar district following the killing of more than 20 sheep and a buffalo by an unidentified wild animal suspected to be a wolf, during the past three days.

The residents of this and its surrounding villages, including Samaag and Rukhala, said that a large section of the farmers remained absent from their fields and schools dotting this areas witnessing thin attendance due to the fear of the wild animal.

Panic-stricken residents had moved an application to the Kot Bhai police station urging the police authorities to make arrangements for the safety of their life and cattle by capturing the wild animal.

Mr Baldev Singh, a resident of Rukhala village, pointed out that a section of the villagers had seen the wild animal, but they were not sure whether that was a wolf or not. He added that villagers had started organising “thikri pehra”.

Information gathered revealed that repeated announcements were made from the public address system of local religious places to make the residents alert for protecting themselves and their cattle.

Mr Vikramjeet Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Kot Bhai police station, when contacted, said that after receiving an application, he had taken a round of the area where the presence of the unidentified wild animal was suspected.


Economic census field work to start in Nawanshahr
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
As many as 233 enumeraters and 110 supervisors will be deployed to carry out field work for conducting survey for the fifth Economic Census-2005 in Nawanshahr district.

The economic census is the official count of entrepreneurial units located within the geographical boundaries of the country and involved in any economic activity of either agricultural (excluding crop production and plantation), or non-agricultural sectors of the economy, engaged in production or distribution of goods or services nor for sole purpose of self-consumption.

Presiding over the first meeting of Nawanshahr district monitoring committee constituted by the Punjab Government, at Nawanshahr on Tuesday, Mr H.I.S. Grewal, the Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner, exhorted members of the committee to undertake the task of conducting the economic census in the district seriously and meticulously as the results of the census would provide inputs of crucial importance for preparing the Five-Year and annual plans of the Centre and state governments, social and economic development, administration and improving the estimates of national income. He said the Fifth Economic Census is being conducted under the aegis of the Central Statistical Organisation of the Ministry of Statistics and Programing Implementation. “With a view to filling in the data gaps, especially, in the organised segments of different sectors of the economy, four economic censuses and 18 follow up surveys based on economic census have been undertaken so far since 1977 when the first economic census was conducted.

He said enumeraters and supervisors would be drawn from departments of Education, Rural Development and Local Government. They would be imparted training by charge officers, who, in turn would be trained by Mr Munish Kumar, Deputy Economic and Statistical Advisor-cum-Assistant Census Commissioner, at the district level. The field work would get kick started on April 1 and would be completed by May 31 he added.


95 pass out from police training centre
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 6
Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture, took salute from 95 recruits of various courses at an impressive passing-out parade at Police Recruits Training Centre, Jahan Khelan, 8 km from here, today.

In batch, number 227, Kirpal Singh was declared all-round first in indoor subjects and Onkar Singh in outdoor subjects. In batch number 228, Varun Kumar secured the first all-around position in outdoor subjects, while Kuldip Singh in indoor subjects.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa appealed to the pass outs to perform their duty honestly and with dedication. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the welfare of recruits and for the improvement of the centre.

The Parliamentary Secretary announced a grant of Rs 18 lakh for the repair of roads of the centre. Mr R.S. Khatra, Commandant, PRTC, Jahan Khelan, said 13 days in-service course training to 1200 police employees had been imparted last year. 


Vaid Mandal holds ayurvedic sammelan
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 6
A state-level ayurvedic sammelan was organised by the Vaid Mandal, Hoshiarpur, here today. Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, presided over the sammelan. Vaids practising in ayurvedic system of medicine from all over the state participated in the sammelan.

Various problems being confronted to vaids were discussed. Vaid Suman Kumar Sud, president ,Vaids Mandal, Hoshiarpur, Vaid Parmod Tiwari, president Ayurvedic Congress Punjab, and many others urged the Health Minister to register all those vaids who were practising in ayurvedic system of medicine for the past five years in the state as registered medical practitioners irrespective of their qualification.

They also demanded withdrawal of false cases registered against some of the vaids during their agitation. They said there were more than 20,000 qualified vaids in state. Besides, about 80,000 unqualified vaids were also practising in the state. They demanded that the government should promote the plantation of medicinal plants by setting up a herbal park for this purpose. 


Welfare scheme for women launched
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 6
“Swyam Sidha Scheme” has been launched in the district by the Centre under which the women will be made aware and educated about rights and participation in every field.

Special seminars, meetings and discussions will be arranged through CDPOs for the women, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, after presiding over the meeting of the Bhartiya Gramin Mahila Sangh held here.

He said a most modern community hall for the women would be constructed in Khera Block of the district at the cost of Rs 10 lakh, out of which Rs 6 lakh had been sanctioned by the government. He said Khera had become the first block in the state where this scheme has been introduced.

He said that under this scheme camps would be organised at various places in the district to educate the women, so that they may become economically and socially stronger. He said that under this scheme the women would be given training regarding dairy farming, detergent making, candle making, mushroom plantation.

Mr Ram Parkash Sharma, Secretary Bhartiya Mahila Gramin Sangh, Ms Rajinder Kaur, state organiser of the Sangh, Ms Krishna Attri, CDPO, Khera, Ms Amrit Kaur, chairperson Block Samiti, Khera and District Attorney, AGM, NABARD also addressed.


Jubilee celebrations of Guru Nanak trust end
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 6
Political, social, religious leaders, intellectuals, representatives of NGOs from here and abroad, converged at the concluding session of the silver jubilee celebrations of Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, Nawanshahr. They lauded the contribution of the Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust and of its founder president, Dr Budh Singh Dhahan, for mobilising funds for providing better healthcare and educational facilities to the rural people. They also urged NRIs to cooperate in completing the construction work of ultra-modern trauma center and for setting up a medical college at Dhahan Kaleran. Mr Parkash Singh Badal announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh to the trust on behalf of Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker and SAD MP from Phillaur, who could not turn up on the occasion.

The trust also honoured NRIs and NGOs, who helped in launching various projects for providing better healthcare and education facilities as well as improving community service projects of the trust.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former chief minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, SGPC general secretary, Mr Jarnail Singh Wahid, Mr Mohinder Singh Hussainpuri, SGPC members, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, state BJP chief, and Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state BSP chief, were present on the occasion.


Tumour removed from 60-yr-old’s heart
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 6
Doctors of the Patiala Heart Institute have successfully removed a tumour from the heart of Angrej Kaur, 60, a resident of Karali village in Samana. The tumour, as big as heart, was blocking the blood supply to the organ.

Dr K.C. Mukherjee said here today that besides losing weight she was suffering from complex liver and kidney malfunctions. She was admitted to the institute after she became unconscious and had difficulty in breathing. He said she was operated upon after the tumour was diagnosed. Dr Mukherjee said “I could not even wedge my finger in to know its size and character as it was embedded in the left atrium of the heart”.

He said the complexity of the case could be gauged from the fact that the tumour (3 inches in diameter) was occupying a chamber (2 inches in diameter) and partially pushing it into the main ventricular which was the pumping chamber of the heart. He said Dr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, Dr S.P.S. Bagga and Dr Bishvajit performed the open heart surgery on the patient for removing the tumour by bits and pieces. “Later on the defect caused by the tumour was also repaired using artificial synthetic material”, he added.

The patient has now recovered and will soon be discharged. 


Canadian docs to correct lip disorders
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
About 100 persons with lip shape disorders such as harelip and cleft palate, would undergo state-of-art corrective plastic surgery by a team of 25 doctors from Canada free of cost under an international project.

The team of Canadian doctors, including plastic surgeons and anesthetists, would operate such patients as part of a worldwide campaign launched by the Rainbow Operations, a Canada-based philanthropist organisation, which has already organised 12 such camps in different parts of the world so far.

According to Dr Shangara Singh, coordinator of the project, Jalandhar Nursing Home in the city would be the venue of camp till February 14.


MCI recognition for hospital
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 6
The Medical Council of India has recognised the Civil Hospital, Ropar, for compulsory rotating internship training to medical graduates for award of the MBBS degree for the session starting this year. The information was given by the Civil Surgeon, Ropar, Dr Rana Harinder, here today.

She said earlier the medical graduates belonging to the area had to go to far-off places for undergoing compulsory training for want of recognition to the hospital.


1,700 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 6
More than 1,700 persons, especially from rural areas, were examined at a two-day mega medical check-up camp for various diseases of heart, eyes, skin and ENT. The camp concluded at New Grain Market, Sunam, 13 km from here, today.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, presided over the concluding function of the camp. The camp was organised by the Sunam Lions Club in collaboration with the Arhtiyas Association and other social and religious organisations.

As per information, about 300 persons were examined for various heart diseases by a team of doctors from the Escort Heart Hospital and Research Institute, New Delhi, while about 800 persons were examined for various eye diseases by a team of doctors from the CMC Hospital, Ludhiana. 


Play decries female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 6
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) today presented “Kalakh Hanere” a musical satire produced by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal and directed by Harpal Singh Randhawa at Baradari Gardens, here.

Written by Ajmer Singh Aulakh and staged as 26th Punjabi Haas Raag Rang programme of first Sunday monthly garden theatre movement was inaugurated by Dr Hardev Singh former Civil Surgeon Patiala last week.


Two brothers sentenced to death for murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
The Sessions Court here yesterday sentenced two brothers to death, awarded life imprisonment to their mother and ordered a minor son of one of the accused to be sent to a juvenile jail in Faridkot for killing four members of a family.

Mr Sharanjit Singh, a resident of Bhitewind, had alleged that his two grandsons, their mother (his daughter-in-law) and a great grandson had murdered four members of his family on August 21, 2000.

Those killed were Sharanjit’s youngest son Kulwant Singh, Kulwant’s wife Sarabjit Kaur and his two minor children Davinder Singh and Gurvinder Singh.

The Sessions judge, Mr Dhain Singh, yesterday pronounced the death sentence to two brothers-Judge Singh and Gurvail Singh, grandsons of Mr Sharanjit Singh, booked in the murder case on August 23, 2000.


2.5 kg smack, intoxicants seized
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 6
The district police has seized about 2.5 kg of smack worth Rs 2.5 crore in the international market and about five lakh intoxicating tablets, injections and capsules during the past 24 hours in the district.

In the 36 days this year, more than 35 kg of opium, 1,161 kg of poppy husk, 5,71,211 intoxicating injections, tablets and capsules and 2.536 kg of smack has been seized in the district.

While one suspect identified as Boru Khan had been arrested for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of 2.5 kg of smack from the Kotli Devan-Buda Gujjar link road of the district, his accomplice, who was the kingpin and identified as Manoj Mama, escaped from the spot.

While 47 suspects were arrested for their involvement in smuggling and consumption of smack, 29 suspects were arrested for their involvement in smuggling of poppy husk. Eleven suspects were arrested for smuggling of opium and six for storing and selling intoxicants in 44 cases registered so far in this year.

Mr L.K. Yadav, SSP, while talking to The Tribune said that apart from the suspects arrested so far, the district police had also obtained the arrest warrants of Dr Gurdev Singh Bahia, his son Jaswinder Singh and Pawan Kumar, who were kingpins in the smuggling of opium and poppy husk and Manoj Mama, who was the kingpin in the smuggling of smack in the district.

He added that proceedings for identifying the properties acquired by these kingpins by generating money out of this illegal business had also been started.

He pointed out that due to its location, the district, which shared its border with Haryana and Rajasthan, had become a convenient place for the smuggling of narcotics, originating from Haryana, Rajasthan and other states.

He said in Malout town, a police party raided the premises of two chemists with the help of the drug inspector and seized more than 3.27 lakh tablets, 7,800 capsules and more than 200 injections, which were being sold by the suspects to customers for intoxication.

Three chemists, who were involved in this illegal trade, had been arrested.

He said these suspects had been using bedrooms and in their dwellings as godowns to store intoxicants so that these could be concealed whenever a police party raided their premises.

He pointed out that most of the smugglers, who had been caught so far in the district, belonged to this district only. However, a significant number of smugglers, who had been operating in this area and had been caught, belonged to other districts of Punjab and its neighbouring states like Haryana and Rajasthan.


Vice-chief of Zila Parishad attacked
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 6
The vice-chairperson of the Zila Parishad, Bibi Jasvir Kaur Lande, was attacked by some persons of her village on Friday evening reportedly due to political rivalry. She is associated with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Sources said that the assailants gagged her by putting a piece of cloth in her mouth and hit her with iron rods. They also snatched Rs 17,500 and a mobile phone from her.

Bibi Jasvir Kaur Lande alleged that when she was on her way back home after taking some cash from Mr Mahinder Singh’s home, two persons associated with the Congress, Mr Ajaib Singh and Mr Dev Singh, attacked her with iron rods.

She also alleged that the assailants tore her clothes and tried to rape her.

While the assailants were thrashing her, village sarpanch Makhan Singh, who was passing by along with his aides, challenged them, forcing them to run away. She was rushed to the Civil Hospital in Baghapurana.

Sources said that during the recently held panchayat byelections at Lande village tension prevailed between the two groups.

Akali MLAs, Mr Tota Singh and Mr Sadhu Singh Rajeana, who visited Bibi Jasvir Kaur Lande in the hospital, alleged that the law and order situation during the Congress regime was deteriorating.

The police has registered a case against the accused under Sections 107 and 151 of the IPC.


IRB jawan kills wife, flees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 6
Sham Singh, a constable with the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), allegedly murdered his wife, Gurmeet Kaur last evening with a sharpedged weapon when she refused to dispose of her property, which she has inherited from her parents.

Though the accused, a resident of Gurusar village in Muktsar district, ran away after committing the crime, the police said that Sham Singh killed Gurmeet Kaur at her rented house in the local Hajji Rattan Mohalla where she had been living along with her two children for the past about six months. She was killed after she refused to sell her share of property which she has inherited from her widow mother, Angrej Kaur, a resident of Bangchiri village in Muktsar district. The accused, who was a drug addict, had been telling his wife to sell the property for the past about three months so that he could get the hard cash.

Police sources said that the accused was not having a good service record and had been on leave for the past many months.

The sources added that the deceased had rented a house at Bathinda after she was allegedly beaten up by her in-laws in July, 2004.

At that time a case in this connection was registered against her kin under Section 326 IPC, at Gidderbaha police station. But the deceased had reached a compromise with her husband about four months back and then Sham Singh along with his elder brother, Iqbal Singh, started living with the deceased.

The police said that when Angrej Kaur reached the house of her daughter late last evening, she found the body of Gurmeet Kaur lying on the bed. Sham Singh, Iqbal Singh and the two children of the deceased were not in the house.

Volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa shifted the body to the local Civil Hospital. After a post-mortem examination, the body was handed over to Ms Angrej Kaur.

A case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against Sham Singh and Iqbal Singh. 


ASI booked for making inmates dance in nude
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 6
The local police has booked a local ASI, Mr Sanjeev Kumar, for allegedly torturing three persons in the police lock-up while he was posted in Division No. 2 police station of Pathankot.

Sources available here said three persons of Pathankot, including Subhash Chander, Raj Kumar and Gurmail Singh were in the lock-up when the ASI came drunk at about 2 p.m.

He took out all the three inmates from the police lock-up and forced them to strip. The complainants were allegedly forced to dance in the nude. They were also humiliated and beaten.


Three killed in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 6
Three persons were killed while one was seriously injured in two road accidents here today.

In the first incident, a Toyota Qualis collided with a minibus near Mehna on the Moga-Ludhiana road. The driver of Qualis, Chamkaur Singh of Saholi in Ludhiana, died on the spot, while Sukhdeep Singh of Battia in Ludhiana sustained severe injuries. Sukhdeep has been referred to a Ludhiana hospital. Sources said that both were accompanying a marriage party that was on its way from Baghapurana to Mullanpur. The minibus driver and cleaner sped away as there were no passengers in the bus.

In another incident, two persons were killed when a Tata Sumo collided head on with a truck near Dhurkot village. Those killed have been identified as Satveer Singh of Rania and Inderjeet Singh of Bhai Roopa village. The truck driver fled after the incident.


JE, kin held for theft of VIP’s cell phone
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 6
Mr Narinder Handa, Junior Engineer, Public Works Department (PWD), and his brother-in-law, a cycle parts dealer, were arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in stealing the cell phone of Mr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Punjab, from the local Circuit House about a week ago.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, when contacted, said the cell phone from Mr Handa and his brother-in-law had been recovered.

The local police had been on its toes to trace the phone set. Mr Gupta had given his cell phone to a gunman for charging the battery of the same.

A section of officials of the Police Department and the Food and Supply Department, at the Circuit house were thoroughly questioned and searched by senior police officials. Even vehicles belonging to these officials were searched.

The local police took the help of the state police in detecting the EMI number of the mobile set and a formal request in this connection was made to an ADGP rank officer.

A case was registered under Section 379 of the IPC.


Drug addict killed

Faridkot, February 6
A drug peddler reportedly killed one of his associates over some dispute on money transaction. However, the accused has denied the charge and pointed the finger at some other persons. Sources said that the accused, Sarvjeet Singh, was allegedly dealing in smack, while the deceased, Bhupinder Kumar, was a resident of Harike Kalan.

Bhupinder, who was a drug addict, had come to the town after being disowned by his parents. He was staying at Sarvjeet’s residence for the past two months and was assisting him in his. — TNS


National seminar on education held
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 6
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, inaugurated a two-day national seminar on “Exploring alternate paradigms of education today” organised by the Department of Political Science, BUC College, Batala.

The seminar was sponsored by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Singh said we should try to make reforms in the existing education system instead of trying to find new paradigms.

He congratulated the management and principal of the Baring Union Christian College, Batala, for holding the seminar.

Principal Prof (Dr) Hepesh Shepherd, read out the welcome address. Bishop A.C. Lal, vice-chairman, Baring Union Christian College Association (BUCCA), in his orientation lecture said in the present age of globalisation and post-modernism, the delegates should try to deliberate on the design, structure and content of education in the broader framework to serve the masses.

Dr H.K. Puri, former chairman, Ambedkar Chair, GNDU, Amritsar, in his thought-provoking keynote address, emphasised that education should be given more importance as Japan had emerged a developed nation even after its destruction in World War II.

He felt more stress should be laid on applied learning of theoretical knowledge. Moreover, teachers should try to restore the faith in the competence of teacher by updating his or her knowledge from time to time. 


Cut in state funding of education worries experts
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 6
On the second day of a two-day national seminar on “Exploring alternate paradigms of education today”, Dr R.B. Singh, convener of the seminar and Head of the Political Science Department, Baring Union Christian (BUC) College, in his paper highlighted the contradictions in the present system. He said, “On one hand we want a human society based on ethics and morality, on the other, multinationals want market-oriented machines. He urged the delegates to suggest possible paradigms for education to reconcile these two aspects.”

Dr R.N. Sharma, Senator, Panjab University, Chandigarh, expressed his concern over the reduction in the state funding of education which resulted in the problem of ad hocism and contractual employment, generating disinterest among teachers and loss of quality of education. He criticised commercialisation of higher education.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, presented a model of education which laid more stress on the expansion of primary and secondary education in rural areas by opening schools managed by NGOs and village panchayats, and funded by the government.

Dr Anil Wilson, Principal, St. Stephen's College, Delhi, expressed his deep concern over the degeneration of values in education. He advocated academic flexibility in colleges to run various new courses in tune with time.

Bishop A.C. Lal, Vice-Chairman of Baring Union Christian College Association (BUCCA), assured the delegates that continued and consistent efforts would help in evolving alternate paradigms of education in future.

Rev R.M. Chaudhary, secretary, BUCCA, asked the organisers to send the outcome of seminar in the form of published documents to the authorities concerned for government consideration.

Two students, Satinder Kaur and Manpreet Kaur, also presented their papers on the condition of government schools in rural Punjab.

Sponsored by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), Ministry of Human Resource Development, was inaugurated by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, yesterday.

The seminar was sponsored by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

Dr Singh opined: “We should try to make reforms in our existing education system instead of trying to find outrightly new paradigms as the Indian education system had produced top technocrats and intelligentsia of repute.”

Principal Hepesh Shepherd, in his welcome address, asked the delegates to try to deliberate on the design, structure and content of education in this broader framework to serve the people.

Dr H.K. Puri, former Chairman, Ambedkar Chair, GND University, Amritsar, in his keynote address emphasised that education should be given more importance. He felt that more stress should be laid on learning theoretical knowledge. The teachers should update their knowledge from time to time.


UGC seminar ends
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 6
Economists at the UGC national seminar on agricultural and rural development in Punjab, which concluded here yesterday, recommended cooperative agro-processing activities with the state government providing the seed capital as an effective alternative to crop diversification.

They argued that contract farming involving private enterprise was not likely to succeed in view of year-to-year fluctuations in agricultural prices.

The seminar was organised by the Punjab School of Economics Department, Guru Nanak Dev University.

Experts discussed the issues relating to Punjab agriculture and rural development like contract farming, farm and non-farm rural employment, sustainability of Punjab agriculture, sex ratio in rural Punjab, the WTO and Punjab agriculture, agro-based industries, ground water problem, educational development, health and sanitation problems in rural areas.


Top scientists take part in seminar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 6
The two-day national seminar on “E-contents of Edusat,” which saw participation by top scientists of the country, including the ISRO chairman, Dr G. Madhavan Nair, and more than 1,200 delegates from all over the country, concluded at DAV College here yesterday.

Appreciating the efforts of the DAV College, Jalandhar, to keep pace with the times by way of remaining in the forefront of technology quest, Dr U.R. Rao, Chairman, Research Council India, said Edusat was India’s only hope for education and world-class technology.

Dr Rao, delivering the keynote address after inaugurating the national seminar on “E-contents on Edusat” on Friday, said it was heartening to note that institutions like DAV were showing a keen interest in new vistas of education and making uses of the Edusat, a satellite used for beaming education programmes.

He said Edusat was India’s only hope for registering a quick march in the field of education after being left behind by other countries like China and Japan. Emphasising the quality of education in India, Dr Rao expressed concern at the deterioration in quality education as a result of mushrooming of educational institutes.

Dr Madhavan Nair, Chairman ISRO, said Edusat had a huge potential in creating countrywide interactive virtual classrooms. He lauded the efforts by the DAV in the field of education.

Dr M.L. Aeri, Principal Director, DAV, said the college would soon be connected to Edusat programme. Prof K.K. Bajaj, a former Registrar of Himachal Pradesh University, delivered the concluding speech.

About 1,200 delegates from all over the country participated in the seminar. More than 70 papers were read out by scholars.


College teachers’ protest on Feb 8

Barnala, February 6
Agitated over the “indifferent”attitude of the Punjab Government towards the grievances of thousands of college teachers serving in 170 private colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to observe February 8 as “Victimisation Day”.

Prof R.S. Brar, president, PCCTU, said here yesterday that college teachers in private college of Punjab would stay away from classes in the fourth, fifth and sixth period. They would hold protest rallies to express resentment against the “highhandedness” and “whimsical” attitude of college managing committees. — OC


Degrees conferred on 339 students
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 6
Degrees were conferred upon 339 graduates and postgraduates at the 29th convocation-cum-annual prize distribution function of the local Kamla Nehru College for Women yesterday.

Mr Jarnail Singh Wahid, Chairman- cum-MD, Wahid-Sandhars Sugars Limited, Phagwara ,was the chief guest. He distributed degrees among students. Mr I.K. Sardana, president, college management, and the college Principal, Ms Kusum Verma, were also present on the occasion.

Ramandeep Kaur was honoured for being the head girl of the college. Amnik was given the best student award in the Fine Arts section. Raj Kumar was felicitated for being the best Class IV employee of the college.

In his presidential address, Mr Wahid stressed on the need of promoting women education. A woman, as a mother, was the architect of the family, society and nation, he quipped. He also called upon students to respect their teachers.

He gave Rs 1 lakh to the college. Mr I.K. Sardana, President, College Management, presented a vote of thanks. A cultural program was also organised on the occasion.


Phone on demand after March 31
Our Correspondent

Phagwara February 6
The waiting list in all the 216 telephone exchanges in the Jalandhar Telecom Circle would be cleared by March 31 after which telephones would be provided on demand within 24 hours for which a home service would also be available.

This was stated yesterday by Mr Gail Chand, Chief General Manager, Telecom Department, Jalandhar Telecom Circle, after inaugurating a 19-facility customer service centre here.

He disclosed that a brandband Internet service would be started in Phagwara soon. The “tarang seva” had been streamlined.

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