P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cops’ bid to cremate Dalit’s body
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Lohian (Jalandhar), February 7
Efforts of the Jalandhar police to defuse tension by cremating the body of alleged custodial death victim Satpal Satta of Lohian without allowing the family members to perform last rites failed as strong protests by irate Dalits, residents, and political leaders forced senior police officers to hand over the body to the family.

Satpal, a resident of Lohian Khas village, was allegedly tortured to death by Lohian police officials as he reportedly refused to admit his involvement in a theft case.

Tension gripped the township as a police party, led by a DSP, made an effort to take the dead body to the cremation grounds at Lohian quietly in a police truck after its post-mortem at Nakodar Civil Hospital at around 11.30 a.m.

The family members of Satpal were allegedly not allowed to take possession of the body. Police officers, including DSP Rajjit Singh and SP Rajpal Sandhu, said the family had given its consent and that such an action could cause further tension.

But irate political and social activists, including the BSP state general secretary, Mr Pawan Tinu, senior BJP leader Vijay Sampla, Pendu Mazdoor Union chief Tarsem Peter, and Mr Shangara Singh Lohian, a local leader, sensing the intentions of the police, reached cremation grounds and confronted the police officials.

They alleged that the police had tortured the family by causing the youth's death and by not handing over his body to the family. Though initially police officials were adamant and reluctant, they later bowed to the demand and allowed the family members to take the body home.

While SSP Satish Kumar Asthana took stock of the situation, even as the body was finally allowed to be taken in a procession to Guru Balmiki Dharmshala, where political leaders and activists, including Mr Pawan Tinu, Mr Vijay Sampla, Mr Shangara Singh and Mr Tarsem Peter addressed the gathering. The body was finally cremated amidst tension at around 3.30 p.m. in the presence of family members, including Mrs Jasbir Kaur, widow of the deceased, and three children.

While alleging that excesses on Dalits were on the rise in the state, Mr Tinu, Mr Sampla, Mr Shangara Singh and Mr Peter demanded that family members of the victims should be given compensation of Rs 5 lakh and a government job. Though no senior leader of the ruling Congress, or senior officer of the administration was present, Mr Rajpal Sandhu, SP, assured the gathering that compensation, as demanded, would be paid to the family members.

However, political leaders doubted the police official's statement. Mr Tinu said the BSP would approach the National Human Rights Commission with a complaint against those police officials who had allegedly tried to deny the affected family basic rights. Mr Tinu said the BSP would observe a state-level dharna in Jalandhar on February 14 against increasing incidence of excesses on Dalits in the state.

Meanwhile, the Jalandhar police, in a press note, said a criminal case against three police personnel --ASI Vijay Kumar, Head Constable Surjit Mali and Home Guard Balkar Singh -- under Sections 302, 323, 342 and 34 of the IPC had been registered. Mr Kewal Krishan, SHO, has been suspended.


Probe ordered into Dalit's death
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission(PSHRC) has ordered an inquiry into the alleged death of a Dalit youth, Satnam, after the police torture in Lohian town of Jalandhar district yesterday.

Taking a suo moto notice of the news report published in The Tribune today, the Full Commission comprising Justice NC Jain, Chairman, and Justice RL Anand, Mr BC Rajput, Mr NK Arora and Mr VK Sibal, all Members, initiated the inquiry under various provisions of Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act,1993.

It directed the ADGP of the commission to investigate the matter personally and submit his report on or before February 17. The case will also now come up for hearing on February 17.

Earlier, a human rights activist, Mr Arvind Thakur, had also moved the PSHRC demanding strict action against the guilty police personnel. Mr Thakur alleged that the Punjab Government had not taken any corrective steps to stop the recurrence of such incidents despite directions issued by the commission in the past.

It may be recalled that Satnam alias Satta was picked up by the Lohian police for his alleged involvement in a theft case on February 5 and released in the evening. However, he was again picked up yesterday morning and allegedly tortured in the police custody when he refused to accept his involvement in a theft case.

The incidents had sparked off a widespread protest from the residents of Lohian village, who had damaged the police station property. Various organisations, including the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal,had condemned the incident alleging that the law and order situation was going from bad to worse in the state.


SAD, Cong trade charges on code violations
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 7
Even as Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today accused Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh of playing the communal card and running down the Sikh “maryada” in the forthcoming byelection for the Ajnala constituency, the Congress wrote a detailed letter to the Chief Election Commission for de-recognition of the SAD owing to a blatant violation of the Code of Conduct.

In a statement Mr Badal said that complaints to the Election Commission filed by the Congress against serving of a kar seva langar to political workers smacked of contempt of Sikh religious practices.

However, the Congress accused the SAD of using village gurdwaras for canvassing and luring voters. Mr Jasbir Singh Gill, media in charge of the Congress charged the SAD with misusing gurdwara funds meant for dharma parchar. “Shielding under the SGPC, the SAD was giving construction material, durries, utensils and other things in violation of the Code of Conduct”, it stated.

Giving details, Mr Gill pointed out that the SGPC, which was working on behalf of the SAD, was enhancing the prospects of the SAD candidate by giving material worth Rs 50,000 that included eight quintals of steel bars, 75 bags of cement and 5,000 bricks for construction of a veradah that was under way.

In Shek Bahtti village the SAD candidate announced Rs 50,000 from the SGPC for construction of a gurdwara, out of which steel and cement had arrived.

In Pachian village a truckload of tiles was supplied by the SGPC member Amrik Singh. The Congress also sought attention on the supply of six large carpets in Saidpur village, besides utensils, and urged the CEC to debar and de-recognise the SAD and its candidate.


SGPC in full control of Golden Temple, says UNESCO
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 7
The SGPC today clarified that the inclusion of the Golden Temple on the World Heritage list would only provide international recognition to the outstanding values of the site without compromising its status, ownership, living traditions and practices.

Reacting strongly to the remarks of Mr Hardeep Singh, an SGPC member from Mohali, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, also a member of SGPC, in a press statement issued today, said that the registration unit of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee had expressly stated, “It notes in particular that the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 provides for governmental non-interference in the gurdwara management. Thus evidently, the SGPC has the complete autonomy to act.”

Mr Hardeep Singh had urged that SGPC to withdraw the nomination dossier submitted through the government and also to discuss the entire gamut of the dossier in the general House of the SGPC.

Ms Kiranjot Kaur felt that Mr Hardeep Singh had been misinformed about the whole issue of the nomination.

She alleged that he might be deliberately trying to misread the facts to spread misinformation among the Sikh masses.

Clarifying the statement of fact as mentioned in the dossier, Ms Kiranjot Kaur said the SGPC had the total control over the Golden Temple property while the state government would manage the buffer zone and the surrounding area of the temple in consultation with the SGPC only.

She added that the state government would tackle the issues of management of pollution control, traffic, and urban planning, which form part of the buffer zone.


DGP Virk vows to break nexus of land-grabbers
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Admitting that a deep nexus of land-grabbers involving mischievous property dealers, musclemen or antisocial elements, unscrupulous police officers and certain influential people connected with social and political organisations, exists in Punjab, the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, has asked all district police chiefs to identify all its members and bring them to law.

“It is necessary to identify and break this nexus, “ says Mr Virk, revealing that all complaints about land-grabbing would be dealt strictly in accordance with the law and exemplary action would be taken against policemen involved in the nexus.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon, Mr Virk, a 1970 batch officer, said that the police had an “onerous responsibility to reassert its credibility” by becoming people-friendly and humane.

“We have taken a serious view of the death of a Dalit youth in police custody. A case of murder has been registered against the police officer concerned. Clear instructions have been issued that custodial torture and deaths would be viewed seriously. Stringent punishment would be given to those found guilty in such cases,” said Mr Virk.

‘I am aware of numerous challenges that face Punjab Police. Rising crime is the main challenge. Population explosion, growing urbanisation and unemployment are forcing under and unemployed youth to take to crime.

“On terrorism front, things have remained peaceful. But we still have to remain alert and vigilant. Another challenge has been to put in place a credible public grievances redressal system. There has to be a follow-up and each complaint has to be redressed to the satisfaction of the complainant.

“Some areas of worry for us have been increase in the incidence of white collar crime, cheating, cases involving Non-Resident Indians, cyber crime, land-grabbing and smuggling of drugs. As far as drugs are concerned and since it has assumed alarming proportions, we may soon come out with a comprehensive action plan to curb this menace.

“Similarly, land mafias are responsible for creating social imbalances and disturbances besides affecting police functioning in a big way. Involved in the nexus are policemen who need to be taken to task,” said Mr Virk.

Crime relating to NRIs, he said, was mainly of three types — matrimonial, supari and land-grabbing. “In some cases, we have been successful in tracking down those behind murders and other heinous crimes committed in Punjab at the instance of those sitting abroad. In some cases, we have got convictions while a few other cases are at the prosecution stage. But transnational crime is a big issue as Punjab has high density of NRIs. We understand the problem in its enterity. We would evolve a system so that hardships suffered by NRIs at the hands of their own relatives and friends are eliminated. We want to cover senior citizens and ex-servicemen in this category also,” he said.

Mr Virk said that high fatalities on roads was a major area of concern. “We are examining all aspects as how to bring down the number of these fatalities. Better road and traffic management, starting of driving schools at district level, segregation of slow and fast traffic, removal of bottlenecks and stricter enforcement of traffic rules are some of the issues which are under consideration as a part of an action plan.

“We may on an experimental basis start driving schools in a district police line and depending upon its success, extend this experiment to other districts. Besides, we have to evolve some sort of traffic code to deal with the problem and end chaos on roads.”

Mr Virk says that training is an important component of any police organisation. Besides training policemen at the constable level, “I want to go a step ahead by taking training to the people. For example, those holding licenses for firearms, may not be well versed with their use. And in many an emergency, they are unable to use their weapons because of lack of expertise in using them. To begin with and by involving district magistrates and rifle clubs in districts, we may start some sort of training schools for them to train them in handling small weapons effectively.


Pre-board maths paper available in market
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
Students appearing for the pre-board mathematics exam in the district tomorrow are grinning since question papers are readily available in the market.

Enquiries revealed that the Punjab School Education Board conducts these tests in February which are in addition to the monthly tests conducted by schools. While the tests serve as a tool to gauge the students’ preparedness all over the state, their easy availability in the city has raised a question mark on the functioning of the board’s Secrecy Branch.

A copy of the question paper, which was acquired by The Tribune, revealed that it was of three hours duration and is divided into three parts. While Part A is compulsory, every student has to attempt either part B or C.

In a classic case of passing the buck, officials said the responsibility of maintaining the secrecy lies with the District Science Supervisor. Since he was on leave, an aide at his office said the question papers were dispatched to respective schools a week before the exam and as such it was up to school principals to maintain the secrecy.

The aide maintained that their office had information about the availability of the maths question paper but the exam had been cancelled in the Machhiwara tehsil area only. He said it was not possible to cancel the exam in other areas. He could not answer why the exam could not be held afresh since there were reports of the question paper being readily available in the district.

Sources said this episode had once again focused on the need of conducting the exam as the question papers were always leaked days in advance.

Earlier, too, there had been reports of the question papers of other subjects being available for a price. What is the need of the exam which only affects those who really slog it out round the year, the sources asked?


VB books jail official, holds inquiry against 7 doctors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Continuing with its drive against corruption, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau has booked Patiala's Jail Superintendent, along with two others, for alleged embezzlement during the purchase of wood. An inquiry has also been initiated against seven MBBS doctors.

A bureau spokesman said the doctors had secured admission in MBBS course allegedly on the basis of forged Scheduled Caste certificates. They included Amritsar's Assistant Civil Surgeon Dr Kanwaljit Singh and Senior Medical Officer with public health centre at Verka Dr Gurcharan Singh, besides Dr Hardev Singh, Dr Sukhjit Kaur, Dr Raghav Wadhwa, Dr Risal Singh and Dr Ranbir Singh.

He added that Bhikhiwind's Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) Balwinder Singh, now posted at Patti, had also been booked for allegedly possessing disproportionate assets, along with Morinda-based forester Mohinder Singh.

Giving details of the cases against the jail staff, the spokesman said Superintendent Swaran Singh, along with retired foreman-cum-carpenter Harbans Lal and storekeeper Mohan Lal were booked under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act for their alleged involvement in the embezzlement.

He added that Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau A.P. Pandey, in a state-level crime meeting with Vigilance Range Officers, revealed that four gazetted officers (GOs) and 26 non-gazetted officers (NGOs), along with another person, were booked in 24 corruption cases in January. Seven criminal cases were also registered against a GO, 17 NGOs and five others.


Mahatma’s letter shows way for Dutch relief team
Neeraj Bagga

Wagah, February 7
For Ms Nicolien De Kroon, Director of a Holland NGO, the Motherhood, which had brought 10 trucks of humanitarian aid for the tsunami victims, the visit to India is like living old memories as her grandfather Mr Kwantes was a pen friend of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.

Furnishing a photocopy of a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi from Yervada prison on February 3, 1933 to her grandfather, she said she had brought this one with her. She said the correspondence between the two were not on political topics but on social and spiritual spheres.

Belonging to a family which had a tradition of serving masses, she said her grandfather had given shelter to Jews during the first World War when they were fleeing Germany,fearing their execution by the Hitler's army.

In the letter, Mahatma Gandhi described the progress of Europe as materialistic growth and feared that it was alienating the common people from spirituality. He said “truth and love are the two faces of thecoin”and human beings must adopt these two features to reach God.

She described her visit to India as nostalgic and said she was waiting for the response of the Ministry of Finance whom she had written yesterday.

The Dutch team has been camping at the international border since February 4. She said the jumbo trucks contain humanitarian aid worth nearly Rs 1 crore meant to be delivered to the victims of tsunami disaster in Tamil Nadu.

Dr Paul Sunder Singh, head of the chennai-based NGO, St Karunalaya, while talking to this correspondent over phone from Chennai said he had received a letter from the Customs Commissioner, Amritsar, and has been preparing relevant documents to get the material cleared.

Ms Kroon said she was providing the aid specially to children and mothers.

Showing a commendation letter of Mr M Gorbachev, former President of the erstwhile USSR and president of the Gorbachev Foundation, she said he commended the work of her organisation in Chechenya and Orphans and Children's Hospital in Moscow.


Doctors’ forum resents anomalies in Health Dept
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 7
The Punjab State Senior PCMS Doctors Forum has expressed its resentment over the posting of some junior doctors on higher posts in the department of state health services and different hospitals while denying due promotions to the deserving candidates.

The forum has called a meeting of its members at Ludhiana on February 24, to chalk out further course of action. The forum has also taken up the matter with the state government.

Dr Yashpal Singla, general secretary of the forum, in a press note issued here on Saturday said that in the recent past, the authorities concerned had handed over the charge of civil surgeon of Patiala district to a junior most employee, Dr Varinder Singh Mohi, after the retirement of Dr Hardev Singh.

In this process, the state government ignored a number of doctors who were senior to Dr Mohi.

He pointed out that earlier also the forum had been repeatedly representing to the state government to correct the mismatch created while giving posts to Dr G. L. Goyal and Dr D. S. Virk in the directorate of health services.

He added that the forum had also been demanding that all senior most doctors should be given the posts of deputy directors in the health department.

Dr Singla said the forum had also brought into the notice of the authorities concerned about 15 posts of deputy directors in the Health Department which were lying vacant for the past two years.


MC to regularise illegal water, sewerage connections
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 7
Mayor Vishnu Sharma said today that the local municipal corporation had taken a decision to allow one-time regularisation of all illegal water and sewerage connections in the city.

A press note said those who had gone in for water and sewerage connections on their own had the option of getting them regularised by February 28 by paying the laid down fee. He said the decision had been taken with the aim of accessing illegal water and sewerage connections in the city as well as the need to start with a clean slate.

The Mayor said those who did not disclose their illegal connections would face legal action besides disconnection of the defaulting connection as well as levying of penalty. He said earlier teams had been constituted to identify the extent of the menace and it was found that there were a substantial number of illegal connections.

Mr Sharma said while the number of illegal water connections were more in the city, the number of illegal sewerage connections were more in established colonies and outer colonies. He said the corporation was in the process of extending the reach of its water lines and sewerage facilities.

“While we have gone in for more than 15 new tubewells, repaired existing water tanks and are planning futuristic schemes to ensure optimum water supply in the city, we are already in the process of commissioning a multi-crore sewerage project”. he said.

A drive to ascertain illegal water connections is also being initiated ahead of the summers when the water demand is at its peak. The corporation faces problems in the summer months due to illegal connections as it cannot effectively plan the demand as well as the distribution of water in its pipes.

This leads to loss of pressure in many areas as illegal connections do not have the benefit of superior plumbing and sometimes cause water losses also.


Move to review dismissed Secy’s appeal questioned
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
Even as 10 teachers in the SGPC- run educational institutes have been dismissed following scrutiny of their degrees or certificates, the decision of the shiromani committee to review the appeal of Mr Harbeant Singh , a former Secretary, who was dismissed on charges of getting job on the basis of fake certificate of matriculation , in its forthcoming executive meeting , scheduled to be held on February 9, have raised many eyebrows.

Mr Harbeant Singh was sacked on the recommendation of a panel of three SGPC members when Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was President. Though Mr Harbeant Singh was called by the panel many times , yet he failed to present himself during the investigations . It is learnt that the former Secretary has now submitted a certificate of matriculation of a Uttar Pradesh's educational institution.

The development has reportedly caused resentment among the Tohra loyalists. They said when Bibi Jagir Kaur had already launched an “operation clean” and removed some employees who had got jobs on the basis of 'fake certificates' why a “mercy chance” is being given to the former Secretary who was asked to deposit fine. His dismissal has already been approved by the Executive Committee.


IT campaign against property dealers from next week
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 7
A comprehensive exercise has been undertaken by the Income Tax authorities, controlling the five districts of Punjab, to fetch about Rs 20 crore as additional revenue by detecting evasion of income tax by real estate businessmen on the capital gains made by them in land transactions.

Sources said the Income Tax authorities, which generated about Rs 12 crore as additional revenue by detecting evasion of income tax by real estate dealers on the capital gains made by them in land transactions during the previous financial year, would launch its campaign against real estate businessmen by next week.

It is learnt that to accomplish this task, the Income Tax authorities have collected information regarding the land transactions, including agriculture, residential and commercial, from the municipal councils, tehsils, PUDA and the other authorities concerned in Muktsar, Mansa, Faridkot and Ferozepore districts. Besides, information regarding the land transactions in the town had been collected from the municipal corporation, the Revenue Department and the Collector’s office.

The information has been compiled by identifying the sellers and purchasers, involved in the land transactions. A blue print of evasion by real estate businessmen through manipulation of land transactions and by indulging in transaction directly has been detected. The Income Tax authorities have also collected the information regarding the bank transactions of the sellers, purchasers and middlemen, involved in land transactions.

Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, who has been supervising all survey operations in the region for the past more than one year, said hundreds of illegal colonies had come up in these five districts during the past more than one year. He added that the Income Tax authorities had also come to know about a large number of cases where the real estate businessmen had tried to evade tax on the capital gains made by these by keeping them out of the picture in land transactions.

He said last year about 50 surveys were conducted on the premises of those, who were involved in the real estate business, openly and clandestinely. By doing so, the Income Tax authorities generated about Rs 12 crore as additional revenue in the previous financial year.

He added that this year, 15 surveys had been conducted so far, including the one which was conducted yesterday on the Yadav Group of Muktsar town, and it was expected that additional revenue of around Rs 20 crore would be generated from the surveys.

He said the Income Tax authorities had been facing some problems in expediting the surveys because of an acute shortage, given that there were thousands of land transactions executed by the real estate businessmen so far in the current financial year. He added that surveys could not be carried out in the beginning of the current financial year due to observance of a strike by a section of officials.


Demand to get slum areas notified
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 7
Nine bastis in Kapurthala and eight in Phagwara had been declared slum areas and these now needed to be notified as such.

This demand was made by officials to Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, Chairperson, National Safai Karamcharis Commission, a press note issued here yesterday said.

Mrs Chowdhary held a meeting with officials concerned for taking stock of the implementation of various welfare schemes meant for safai karamcharis. The schemes included a housing scheme, Balmiki-Ambedkar Awas Yojna, slum areas scheme, medical check-up scheme, stipend for wards of safai karamcharis, loans from the SC/BC Finance Corporation, allowance for uniforms of safai karamcharis, etc.

Mrs Chowdhary regretted that the benefits meant for safai karamcharis did not reach them. She asked the officials to judiciously implement the schemes for amelioration the lot of safai karamcharis.

Mrs Gurpreet Kaur Sapra, Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Jalandhar, told Mrs Chowdhary that under the slum areas scheme a Rs 14-crore plan had been sent to the state urban development authority for construction of houses for safai karamcharis in the slums falling under the 29 nagar councils in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts.

The Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala Rakesh Verma underlined the need for getting the slums notified in Kapurthala and Phagwara.

Mrs Chowdhary asked the officials to ensure timely and full salary, allowances and remuneration to safai karamcharis. She opposed the contract system as it exploited daily-wagers recruited as safai karamcharis privately.


Work on Khalsa memorial comes to halt
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, February 7
Even though the Punjab Government has given requisite guarantees for the release of Rs 100 crore loan, the construction work of the prestigious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex at Anandpur Sahib has been halted as the banks involved in the funding of the project have demanded more interest on the loan to be given to the project.

Sources informed that the government had agreed at 7.5 per cent interest rate on the loan sanctioned for the Anandpur Sahib Foundation which is taking care of the project but one of the bank out of the five in the consortium demanded 9 per cent interest.

The project was jointly funded by the Centre and the Punjab Government. It took the Punjab Government several months to give the requisite guarantee for Rs 100 crore loans to the PNB-led consortium of banks.

The consortium of five banks in March 2004 had sanctioned Rs 100-crore loan to the government but it could not be released in the absence of the requisite government guarantee.


PSEB staff hold protest rallies
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 7
Protesting against privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), the Technical Services Union organised rallies at various places in Moga and Faridkot districts.

Addressing the protesters, Faridkot circle president Jagroop Singh and circle secretary Balore Singh alleged that the state government and the PSEB management were misleading the electricity board employees and the common people by issuing different statements on privatisation of the board.

They alleged that the government was privatising the board at the behest of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

They alleged that the government was also trying to privatise profit-making public sector units (PSUs).

They warned to intensify the protest if the state government didn’t shun its “anti-employee” policies.

They said that the union would not tolerate implementation of the scheme under which the electricity board was to be divided into various corporations. They said that implementation of this scheme would put a big question mark on the board employees’ future. They alleged that the state government was denying employment opportunities to thousands of unemployed youths by privatising PSUs.

Later, the union leaders announced that a state-level function would be organised here to pay tributes to those PSEB employees who died during the Sehewala episode on February 9.

The union organised protest rallies in Moga, Badhani Kalan, Kot Ise Khan, Baghapurana, Faridkot, Dharamkot, Bajakhana, Jaito, Bargadi, Bhinder Kalan and Ajitwal.


Farmers stage protest in front of DC’s office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 7
A large number of farmers belonging to various factions organised a huge protest rally outside the district administration complex here today.

Holding placards against the anti-farmer policies, the leaders of various units raised slogans demanding reduction in the interest rate, revision of the minimum support price for wheat to Rs 780 per quintal, restoration of subsidy on fertilisers, review the decision to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board and waiving off all outstanding agriculture loans.

They also sought early payment of the third instalment of Rs 11,500 per hectare as compensation on the agriculture fields under mines during the military deployment on the Indo-Pak border during 2001 and also ensuring free power and water supply to the agriculture sector.

They presented the memorandum to the ADC to be forwarded to the state government regarding their demands.


Takht convenes meeting on Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
The Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee has convened a joint meeting of all the Sikh high priests, presidents of the SGPC and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and representatives of all the Panthic organisations at Patna Sahib for March 13 to discuss the Nanakshahi calendar.

The invitation regarding the proposed meeting was received by the Panthic organisations today.

Though the SGPC had implemented the Nanakshahi calendar last year, the same was not endorsed by Takht Hazoor Sahib and Patna Sahib. These two Takhts had been observing Gurpurbs as per traditional Bikrami calendar.


Trust award for paediatrician
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 7
The Mata Gujri Trust has given its annual Mata Gujri award to consultant paediatrician, Dr Harshinder Kaur, for 2004-05.

The award was given by Trust head Sant Nachhattar Singh Kambliwala at a function held at Sullar Gharat College of Girls near here.

Sant Kambliwala said the decision to institute the award had been taken to give recognition to women who were working for the upliftment of society. He said Dr Harshinder Kaur, who is working in the Government Rajindra Hospital here, was given recognition for organising more than 40 free medical camps in rural and slum areas.

During her short but impressive speech, Dr Harshinder Kaur urged people to help end the female foeticide. 


Local bus service for Bathinda likely
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, February 7
If all goes well, this city is likely to have a local bus service soon.

Though the state government is yet to approve the introduction of the local bus service in this town after a recommendation for the same was made by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, a number of bus queue shelters have started coming up.

Mr Sinha, when contacted, said he had identified seven routes for the local bus service in this town to cover the area falling under the limits of the local municipal corporation. He said the authorities concerned would approve these routes shortly. Mr Sinha said the pattern and timings for the local bus service would be decided after approval.

The local bus service, a persistent demand of local residents, will be introduced for the second time. Earlier, the local bus service, introduced 20 years ago, was discontinued for the reasons best known to the authorities concerned.


Reema is Ms Beautiful
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 7
Ms Kangan, Ms Reema and Ms Kanwaljit were elected Ms Personality, Ms Beautiful and Ms Evening, respectively, at a function held at Gopi Chand Arya Mahila College here last night.

The selection was not made by a private jury but by voice vote.

Dr Upasana Loona, Mrs Satyanarain and Mrs Saneh Goyal were guests of honour.

The function was full of Indian and folk dances.


4 hurt as walls collapse
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 7
Four persons were injured when walls of two rooms collapsed due to lashing winds last night.

Three members of a family were injured when a wall of a room fell in an area near Sunny Enclave. The injured persons were Satish Kumar, Gulab and Chan Prasad. In another incident Parkash Yadav got hurt when a tin roof of an enclosure blew away and a wall fell on him.

All injured persons were taken to the local Civil Hospital.


high court
Wireless scam: Technical inspection of sets ordered
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Directorate of Quality Assurance, Bangalore, to examine the wireless sets supplied to the Punjab Police following the tender process. The Directorate was asked to submit the inquiry report within six weeks.

The Directorate would examine the wireless sets and verify if they meet the technical standards for the same.

A PIL has sought a comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the alleged embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore in the purchase of the wireless sets following the recommendations of the purchase committee.

Two senior police officers - former Additional Director General of Police (Computers and Wireless) D.R. Bhatti and former Superintendent of Police (Telecommunications) Malwinder Singh Sidhu - had been chargesheeted for their alleged involvement in the allegThe petitioners, Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra, both advocates, had told the court that since top officers of Punjab Police were allegedly involved in the matter, the investigation should be handed over to an independent agency.

They had claimed that the purchases were made "without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment from a fraudulent company already blacklisted". This, they asserted, "was endangering not only the national security, but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force".

The hearing will now resume on March 28

Order to DC

A Division Bench of the High Court on Monday directed the DC, Hoshiarpur, to conduct an inquiry within two months into the allegations made in the legal notice sent by the petitioner on January 8.

The DC was also directed to give relief, if any was warranted, within one month after the completion of the inquiry.

In his petition filed through advocate Sunil Agnihotri, Mr Jasbir Singh, who is vice-president of the Truck Union, Mukerian, has alleged that some persons of a rival truck union, with the active connivance of the local SDM, Tehsildar and SHO, forcibly encroached upon the land where the office of the truck union is present.

The SHO was present when the encroachment took place, the petitioner alleged. He sent a legal notice to the authorities to get the encroachment removed but no action was taken.

After hearing advocate Agnihotri, the Bench of Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice Surya Kant disposed of the writ with the directions.


Biomass projects to generate more power
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Agricultural residue like paddy straw, cotton and arhar stalks, which had become a big source of pollution, will now be used to generate additional power as the Punjab Government has drawn out a proposal for setting up 10 biomass-based projects of total 100 MW capacity in areas where biomass was available in abundance. The proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNCES) to seek international funding from Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) under Overseas Development Assistance programme of the Japanese government.

Besides this, funds have also been sought for investing in 16 small/micro hydel projects of 44 MW capacity to further improve the deteriorating power situation in the state. Dr S.S. Sekhon, Director (Technology) of the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), told TNS that generation of electricity from renewable and non-conventional energy resources is high on the agenda of the state government as these projects have major GHG (green house gas) emission abatement and environment benefits.

The sites identified by PEDA, which is the nodal agency for setting up these biomass-based projects are Mansa, Dera Bassi, Nawanshahr, Barnala, Raikot, Garhshankar, Jaito, Sultanpur Lodhi, Tarn Taran and Bathinda, he said. According to a survey conducted by PEDA along with the Ministry officials to ascertain the availability of biomass in 37 tehsils of the state, it was found that an estimated of 342 MW of power can be generated from this sector and setting up of these projects would help harness at least 100 MW of the available potential, he added.

Of the total project cost of Rs 450 crore, 90 per cent (Rs 405 cr) has been sought from the JBIC as a soft loan package at a rate of interest of 1.5 per cent and 10 per cent (Rs 45 cr) will be provided by PEDA. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, will facilitate international funding for these projects.

At present, the state has the capacity to generate about 200 MW of power through these projects. PEDA has already identified 135 small micro/hydel sites having a potential of generating 135 MW of power.


Body of truck cleaner identified
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 7
The mystery shrouding the missing driver and cleaner of a truck along with the vehicle has been partly solved with the identification of the body of the cleaner by the owner of the truck, sources said.

According to information, a farmer noticed some dogs clawing at a heap of sand near his field at Raziasar village in the Sriganganagar area bordering Abohar subdivision. He found a body dumped there and informed the police. Only a red underwear was found on the body.

A post-mortem was conducted which stated that the victim was hit at the head. The investigating team found some blood stains near the sand heap. It appeared that the body was dragged and dumped in the ditch.

The publication of the photograph of the body led to its identification.

Meanwhile, the police reported that a truck (HR 58-9688) was found abandoned near Kainchian village on the National Highway. Its tyres were missing and was parked on bricks. The police rang up to the phone numbers pointed on the truck and was told by Mr Neeraj of Moga that he had lodged a complaint in this connection at Goluwala police station in Moga district.

Mr Gupta has alleged in the FIR that truck driver Raju Singh of Himachal Pradesh and cleaner Ravi Singh of Daula village in Moga district had fled with the loaded truck and Rs 25,000 on January 23. The truck had unloaded goods at Abohar and left for Kandla port after fresh loading at Abohar and Sriganganagar the same day.

Mr Gupta identified the victim from the photographs taken by the police at Raziasar. The police was working on two theories that either the driver might have killed the cleaner and decamped with Rs 25,000 after removing the tyres of the truck or he too might have fallen prey to burglars. A police team was being dispatched to locate the driver at his hometown in Himachal Pradesh, sources said.


Man nabbed for stealing car
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 7
The police today arrested Malkiat Singh while stealing a Maruti car from outside Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara. The police has recovered the car (PB-48- 5577).

According to SHO Dalbir Singh, the police had received several complaints of vehicle theft from outside the gurdwara.

On the directions of DSP Balwinder Singh, policemen in mufti were deputed outside the gurdwara.

Today, a couple parked their car and went inside the gurdwara. A well-dressed person came near the car and opened its door with duplicate keys.

He turned on the ignition of the car and tried to drive away. But when the policemen pulled over the car, the accused tried to flee.

He was overpowered and taken into custody.

The real owner of the car was handed over the vehicle.

During interrogation, the accused revealed that he had stolen vehicles from outside the gurdwara and also from Ambala and other towns.


Jat youths booked for attack on Dalits
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 7
Tension prevails in nearby Variana and other villages following a clash between two groups of Dalits and Jats for allegedly prohibiting Dalits from entering the fields of Jats of Variana village for responding to the nature’s call.

Rajesh Kumari, Kulwinder Kaur, her father Chaman Lal, Raj Kumar and Parwinder Kumar, all Dalits, were allegedly not only attacked and injured by a group of youths belonging to the Jat community last night while they were returning from Guru Ravidas Gurdwara, but were also abused. On the other hand, Narinder Singh, Inder Singh, Amarjit Singh, Ravinder Singh and Kulwinder Singh of the Jat community were also injured.

While Dalits of Variana village had alleged that they were attacked, injured and insulted by Jats, who did not allow them to use their fields for responding to the nature’s call, the injured members of the Jat community had alleged that instead the Dalit youths attacked them with sharp-edged weapons. The police was probing the matter and trying to convince the leaders of both communities to arrive at a compromise.

Mr Rajinder Singh, DSP, however, said a group of Jat youths was found guilty during investigation conducted by SHO Balkar Singh. “We have registered a case against those found guilty during investigation,” said Mr Rajinder Singh.


Youth commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 7
Girdhari Lal Sharma, alias Chinnu, a youth, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the premises of a school situated in the residential colony of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, today morning.

A suicide note was recovered from the body and the youth is suspected to have shot himself from point blank range. However, the police is also working on other theories.

This is second suicide in this district in the past 48 hours. Earlier, a resident of Raman Mandi consumed celphos tablets after alleged torture by a section of residents, including a senior BJP leader.

As per the suicide note, the youth categorically stated that he could not become a good person and used to steal hard-earned money of his father and was wasting the same. He added that he had also tried to kill himself earlier but could not do so. He has reportedly stated that after having failed in his first attempt to kill himself, he stole money from his house and bought a firearm to kill himself. He also mentioned that nobody should be held responsible for his death.

He also mentioned that both the kidneys of his mother had become non-functional and hence his kidneys should be used for treatment of his mother after his death or should be donated to the needy. He added that his dead body should be handed over to volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in this region.

Police sources said a weapon, suspected to be used by him for killing himself was also found alongside the body. So far, the whereabouts of his parents could not be ascertained. The sources added that if the police got any clue regarding foul play, it would take action accordingly.

A case under Section 174 of the Cr PC has been registered.


BSF Head Constable drugged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 7
Mr Balakrishanan, a BSF Head Constable, who was proceeding to his hometown in Mangalore district in Karnataka from Samba (near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir) in a train, was robbed of Rs 10,000 and other valuables after being rendered unconscious by an unknown boy. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital by the military authorities yesterday.

Dr Prabhat Kumar, Emergency Medical Officer, told The Tribune this evening that Mr Balakrishanan had been brought to the local Civil Hospital the previous day by officials of the local military station as the Dhuri Railway Police had informed them that a BSF jawan had been found in an unconscious state. He also said the military officials had told him that they had recovered only Rs 35 from the possession of Mr Balakrishanan. He said the military officials also had a suitcase of Mr Balakrishanan with them. The military officials had prepared a list of commodities found in the suitcase, he added.


Three held for killing sambar
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, February 7
A sambar was electrocuted by migrant labourers, employed at a farm at Nara village, from where skin, meat and other parts of the animal were recovered today by officials of the Forest Department.

The farm, Romy Farm, was recently purchased by a Jalandhar-based eye specialist. Investigations revealed that the arrested persons indicated that they had been supplying meat to some influential persons.

The officials believed that the sambar might be killed in Nara Forests on the night of February 5. The team conducted raid on the farm and arrested three persons, Mohinder, a resident of Jharkhand, who was employed by the doctor four months back, Rakesh and Binjo, both employed at an adjoining farm. Jeet, another employee of Romy Farm, has absconded, said Mr Kulraj Singh, Range Officer, Hoshiarpur.

The arrested employees revealed that they had trapped and killed the animal by laying electric wires near Romy Farm.


Bus driver, conductor booked

Kharar, February 7
A driver and a conductor of a private bus were booked on a charge of attempting to obstruct a public way.

Mr Guracharan Singh, SHO, said that the driver, Naseeb Singh, and the conductor, Beant Singh, allegedly tore the uniform of a police employee, Kulwant Singh, who was travelling in their bus from Chandigarh. They even allegedly beat him up when he got off the bus at the Kharar bus stand.

The two of them even misbehaved with traffic in charge of the town, Mr Paramjit Singh, when he tried to intervene. They also made an effort to block traffic on the national highway.

The SHO said that a case had been registered on the statement of Mr Paramjit Singh. OC

Eloped couple arrested

Jalandhar, February 7
A girl, who allegedly had stolen Rs 1 lakh and 200 gm of gold from her residence and eloped with her boyfriend on January 16, was arrested at Jammu today.

The girl, identified as Kirti, has been absconding since January 16 along with her boyfriend, resident of Neelamahal of the city, police sources said, adding that acting on the complaint of Dharampal, father of the girl, who alleged Pawan Kumar, along with her daughter, fled away after pursuing Kirti to steal cash and gold. — PTI


Witness in Khalra case kidnapped
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 7
Kulwant Singh Jamarai of Khadoor Sahib, one the main eyewitnesses in the disappearance of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist, was kidnapped by some unidentified persons from his residence today.

Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, has condemned the kidnapping of the eyewitness.


Rice-sheller owner’s son kidnapped
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 7
A son of a rice-sheller owner was allegedly kidnapped by three car-borne youths from Ghalamala Chowk here this evening. The kidnappers were in police uniforms, the police said.

According to Mr Parmjit Singh Gill, DIG, Border Range, the boy, Goodu (18), was returning to his house after the tuition when he was kidnapped. He said immediately after receiving a call from one Dimpy about the kidnapping of his son, father of the boy informed the SSPs of Majitha and Kapurthala districts.


Rural university to be established soon: Boparai
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 7
Former Vice-Chancellor of Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Dr P.N. Srivastav, yesterday advocated the need to introduce science at the primary level to make it more popular amongst the coming generations.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the eighth Punjab Science Congress at Punjabi University here, Dr Srivastav also urged the university authorities to introduce such courses at the under-graduate level which would help in enhancing creativity in young minds.

Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Swarn Singh Boparai, while delivering his presidential remarks said constant endeavours are required to keep abreast with latest developments in the world of science.

On this occasion the Vice-Chancellor announced that Punjabi University was in the process of starting a medical college and ultimately was aiming to establish a rural university for the down trodden and underprivileged sections of society.

On this occasion Dr G.S. Khush, Dr K.S. Rai, Dr S.K. Gupta and Dr B.N.S. Walia were awarded honorary fellowship by Punjab Academy of Sciences (PSA) and Dr Anil Kohli Padam Vibhusan was presented with Bhagwan Dass Arora Memorial Oration award.

Dr. I.J.S. Bansal of Punjab Academy of Sciences while sharing his sentiments said PSA was active in universities and institutes of higher learning to promote scientific research and interaction amongst scientists of Punjab to enable them to keep pace with the latest scientific research taking place in the world.


116 students honoured
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 7
As many as 116 students of 29 high and senior secondary schools, who have achieved merit and first division in their respective examinations were honoured at a function organised at Gandhi Memorial School by the Bharat Vikas Parishad here yesterday.

Mr P.C. Pyassa, Joint Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Punjab, was the special guest at the function and Mahashaya Gokul Chandji, founder of the Dainik Prarthana Sabha, was the chief guest. This function is held every year in memory of Bibi Parsinni.

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