P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Miffed at ‘prefixes’, Dang to return Padma Bhushan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 11
Irked at the prefixing of awards like 'Padma Shri, 'Padma Bhushan' to their names, in gross violation of the rules, by awardees, the veteran CPI leader, Mr Satyapal Dang, today decided to return the prestigious 'Padma Bhushan' award conferred upon him in the year 1998.

In a communication to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Mr Dang said the recipients of these awards had been prefixing the awards ('Padma Shri','Padma Bhushan' or 'Padama Vibhushan') to their names, as if they were titles, in gross violation of the instructions.

He said he would hand over the award to the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, within next few days.

Earlier, the Union Home Ministry had asked the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, to stop using the honorific 'Padma Shri' either by prefixing or suffixing it to his name or in any other form of official communication.

The Home Ministry, in a letter on August 31 last year, had asked him to explain the factual position with regard to use of the 'Padma Shri' as a prefix or suffix to his name on the letterheads, visiting cards and invitation cards issued by him or on his behalf.

The Supreme Court had ruled that national awards did not amount to titles and could not be used as such.

A Home Ministry communique had informed the Vice-Chancellor that a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had impleaded the Union of India, had claimed that he was using the award of 'Padma Shri' as a title disregarding the orders of the Supreme Court.

The communication of Mr Dang reads: "A representative of the DC had come to ask me whether I was willing to accept this award, I had replied in the negative. Despite this, the then Union Home Minister, late Inderjit Gupta, included my name in the list. I was not happy but did not want to embarrass late Gupta, who had been the topmost leader of the CPI. So, I did not refuse to accept it. I had been thinking of returning it since then and finally decided to do that now".

Mr Dang said the contribution of a person should be judged by his deeds and not through awards. The practice of presenting awards should be stopped forthwith.

He said the violation of instructions was to the extent that names of some 'Padma Shri' awardees had been appearing in newspapers with this prefix repeatedly and the government had not taken any note of it.

It suggested clearly the fact that the government was not serious in maintaining the spirit of awards and assure compliance of explicit instructions of which awardees were reminded from time to time.

Mr Dang had fought relentless battles for the downtrodden, in his 65- year-long social career.

The most memorable event in Mr Dang's life was 'Naval mutiny', a year before the Independence. He actively supported the mutineers of the British Indian Navy in 1946 which was one of the most spectacular episodes of the revolt against the British Raj.


Girl marries despite knowing NRI groom’s HIV status
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
It is one of the strangest of strange cases. Sanjit Singh (name changed), son of a rich rice miller in Sanaur, landed in Australia in 1991 and sought a refugee status claiming that he was being persecuted by the Government of India for his political beliefs.

Last year in March, Sanjit came to his native village and married Kulvinder (name changed). A day before the marriage, the Patiala police landed up at the girl’s house and told the parents that the prospective groom was HIV positive. The family ignored the information and the reports attached with it and solemnised the wedding claiming that a jealous relative was behind the canard against their foreign-based son-in-law.

Shortly after the wedding, the bride’s brother “went abroad” and some other near and dear ones are waiting for their turn.

Kulvinder’s parents now claim that their daughter knew of the HIV positive status of the boy, but married him “because she loved him”. The economic status of Kulvinder’s family is much lower than that of Sanjit. According to the police, it took action as soon it received information that an HIV positive NRI was trying to tie the knot with a much younger girl. It traced the family of the girl, but they refused to react to the news which was given to her, her brother and even the panchayat members of the village.

The Tribune is in the possession of a medical report and prescription from the Prince of Wales Hospital in New South Wales in which the boy had been diagnosed as an HIV positive in 1994, a decade before he married the Indian girl. Though the report has the certification of information being true, yet there is no independent confirmation of the report because of the secrecy law in Australia prohibiting the authorities to do so. The matter had been reported to the Minister of Police, New South Wales, the Federal Attorney General and the Australian government’s Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, yet the marriage could not be stopped.

As per the Australian law, if the fact of HIV positive is hidden in a marriage, it is considered to be an attempt to murder. But India does not have any particular law to stop an Indian becoming a victim of a deadly disease. Inquiries made from the authorities reveal that one can not do anything if such a fraud is committed in India. A foreigner has to report his arrival to the police, but the police or immigration authorities or even the passport do not find any mention of such a disease in travel documents to protect gullible Punjabis who can go to any extent to settle abroad.

The mothers of the girl and the boy, whom the The Tribune contacted in Barnala and near Patiala, accepted that they knew about the some deadly disease, but neither confirmed nor denied that the boy was HIV positive which could pose a danger to the life of the girl. The mother-in-law of the girl now says that the girl is very religious and her devotion will cure her husband.

According to the mother of the boy, the families agreed for a marriage of the two as the boy and the girl had an affair before marriage. However, the estranged relative dismissed the claim saying this twist is being given as the police is under pressure because of a Punjab minister who is close to the family of the boy. During the investigation it came out that there is no arrangement in India where the fact of a person being HIV positive could be confirmed before a marriage. The girl, Kulvinder, does not have a father and she was married off by her brother who is now settled abroad.

Now the estranged relative of the boy, who is also an Australian citizen, has been informing the authorities in Australia to block the entry of the girl in the man’s adopted country. He says he does not want to drain the money of the tax payers of his adopted country nor does he want to destroy an Indian girl. The girl is now living with the parents of the boy near Patiala. The boy is in Australia.

The estranged relative alleged that the marriage was solemnised as the boy’s family wanted the girl to take care of their son. It had been advised in the medical report that the man needed a “care taker”.


Construction unabated in prohibited area
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, March 11
A letter purported to have been written by the Army authorities granting permission to construct buildings within 1000 metres of the restricted area, has created confusion among residents of the area.

Although according to various letters written by the Army to the civil administration, blanket ban had been imposed on the construction activity within a radius of 1000 metres, rampant construction and sale of property was going on in an unauthorised manner.

According to highly placed sources, quoting provisions of the Works of Defence Act, 1903, incorporated in the Government of India Gazette Notification No. A| 6149|LW [North]|539|1319-US[C] Lands 2003, dated November 14, 2003, the authorities concerned have served notices to the people residing within prohibited zones to stop construction with immediate effect.

Under the directions of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), revenue officials have started assessing the value of the properties in these prohibitory zones. The revenue officials have assessed the valuation to the tune of Rs 1,08,595 crore and sent it to the MoD. According to sources, the MoD, in a letter, had asked to get the buildings constructed in the restricted areas vacated. A copy of the letter was also sent to all heads of commands across the country.

According to the sources, the Army has not accorded any permission to raise construction in the restricted areas, but some miscreants are using this letter for selling properties in the restricted areas.

The local police claims to have acquired a list of about 12 violators for constructing within the prohibited area and has booked two persons in this connection under Section 188 of the IPC.

The revenue officials here, who are executing the sale deeds in violation of the ban orders showed ignorance in the matter.

The property promoters and dealers are doing good business and the gullible people are being duped in the wake of alleged ‘permission’.

Meanwhile, the local Military Estate Office here has swung into action to verify the correctness and its consequences and have chalked out a comprehensive campaign against the violators.


Thrashing by teacher ‘damages’ student’s backbone
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Goniana (Bathinda), March 11
The backbone of Sahil Bansal, a student of Class VI of the local government school, was allegedly damaged by Hindi teacher Nachhattar Singh on March 7, when the former was thrashed mercilessly by the latter for not sitting in the class properly.

Mr Nachhattar Singh while denying the allegations levelled against him said he had not touched Sahil and this issue was being raised against him by vested interests to defame him and bring a bad name to the school.

However, Mr Jagan Nath, guardian of the student, alleged that Mr Nachhattar Singh had beaten up Sahil, which had damaged his backbone. He added that Sahil was now finding it difficult to walk and sit for a long time.

He alleged that Mr Nachhattar Singh had beaten up Sahil without any reason. He said initially Sahil did not tell any thing about what had happened to him in the school but after the pain became unbearable he disclosed everything.

Mr Gurdev Singh Gill, principal of the school, said the incident had affected the image of the school and had brought a bad name to the teaching community. He added that he had been making efforts to bring about a compromise between Mr Nachhattar Singh and Mr Jagan Nath. He claimed that so far Mr Jagan Nath had not lodged any complaint with him. He added that his inquiry revealed that the boy was only chided and not thrashed.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), police station, Nehianwala, said Mr Jagan Nath had lodged a complaint against Mr Nachhattar Singh. He added that a report in this connection had been registered in the DDR. He added that in the medical report of the boy it was mentioned that it seemed that his backbone had got injured.

Mr Gurminder Kaur Dhillon, District Education Officer, said she was not aware of the incident.


Yogi’s portrait installed in Sikh Museum
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
A portrait of Bhai Harbhajan Singh Yogi was installed in Central Sikh Museum on the Harmandar Sahib premises here today. This was done in recognition of his contribution in spreading Sikhism all over the world.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC president, unveiled the portrait.

A 'shabad kirtan' was organised by Hazoori Raagis on the occasion. The SGPC president praised Yogi for spreading Sikhism in America and other parts of the world.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary of the SGPC, said Yogi did great panthic service and the committee was performing its duty by installing his portrait in the museum.

Also present on the occasion were Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta etc. 


Brar’s status in Cong unclear
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
What is the current status of Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar? Is he under suspension or continues to be a full-fledged member of the party? There is no answer to this question even with senior leaders of the Punjab Congress.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said here today that he was “awaiting the party high commands’ instructions in this connection. I will go by what it says. I have briefed the person incharge of party affairs, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, on the current situation in the party and the statements made in recent days by various Congress leaders that spoilt the image of the party”. He said he met Mr Mukherjee in Delhi yesterday.

A few days ago, Mr Hanspal had stated that the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) of the Punjab Congress could not suspend Mr Brar as he was a member of the All-India Congress Committee. But at the same time he had stated that as Mr Brar had been suspended and the party high command had been informed in this regard by the DAC, it was now for the high command to give directions to him.

Mr Hanspal said that Mr Mukherjee would take up the issue next week.

It was certain that the party high command, especially Mr Mukherjee, would take to task all those Congress leaders who had made statements which harmed the party.

Mr Hanspal said he would advise all party leaders to exhibit unity. He said the party contested the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab as a divided house and lost. But it contested the three recent byelections as one formidable outfit and won.


SAD MLAs to meet in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
A meeting of Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs will be held at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi on March 15. This was stated here today by the party spokesman.

He said the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would preside over the meeting. After the meeting, the SAD leaders would stage a dharna in front of Parliament House to protest against the alleged murder of democracy in Punjab by the Amarinder Singh government.


Akali Dal (1920) to contest  MC poll
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 11
The Akali Dal (1920) will be fighting the local municipal elections which are to be held by the end of the year.

Mr Jaspal Singh, general secretary of the local unit of the party, said here today that a high-powered committee had been formed in this regard under the chairmanship of Mr Harbans Singh Khandola (SGPC member). 


It is ‘holiday’ in Mini-Secretariat
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
The ongoing cricket test match between India and Pakistan in Mohali has virtually halted the functioning of various offices of the district administration. Most of the senior officials of the administration were busy in performing duties in the Mohali cricket stadium.

A large number of people who came form far-flung areas in the mini-secretariat were disappointed as they received only one answer from each department that the official concerned had gone to the cricket stadium.

A visit to Mini Secretariat revealed the crippled functioning of the various departments. It’s virtually holiday in the Secretariat. Many of the offices were found locked and those which were open found virtually empty. Right from the Deputy Commissioner, the District Transport Officer, most of the officials had gone to perform their duty or witness the match in Mohali.

Unlike routine days, the scene at the Secretariat was completely different today. The hall outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office, which remained jam-packed with people from all over the district in routine days, was completely empty. There was pindrop silence in many of the galleries in the Secretariat.

Even those present in the offices were gripped by cricket fever. The mobile phone provided them the latest score.

Some junior officials who did not have chance to witness the match complainted that this time, the PCA did not send passes to officials of the district administration.


Prabir was kept in Ludhiana, says captor
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 11
Prabir, son of an Amritsar-based rice miller, was kidnapped by an eight-member terrorist-ex-cop cartel and was kept in a rented house at Ludhiana till his release on February 18.

Prabir was set free at a place near Sirhind after ‘huge ransom was paid’ to the gang and not near New Delhi as was projected earlier. Interestingly, the family of Prabir had claimed at time of his release that no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

This has been revealed by ex-militant Labh Singh, who used to serve ‘langar’ to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and was a resident of Bhunni Khera village in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. He was the 5th member of the gang who was arrested by the Jalandhar police today. Four other members of the gang were arrested by the police on March 7. Kulwant, Sukhjit Singh Sukha, Gurcharan Singh Chana, Kulwinder Singh Bittu and Kuldip Singh, members of the gang, were ex-cop-turned-criminals.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, said Labh Singh was arrested by a police party from near the general bus stand this morning. Around 5 kg of RDX, a number of switches, detonators and other assorted items used for explosions were seized from him.

Information elicited from him and four already arrested accused has revealed that Prabir kidnapping was the brainchild of Kulwant Singh Kanta, a resident of Kaleke who was once arrested for terrorist activities.

Prabir was chosen by the gang as its target and his activities were watched till February 7, when he was kidnapped from in front of his tuition centre on the Majitha road.

On that day, he was followed by gang members from his home to the tuition centre in a Zen car while one member was on a scooter.

Those in the car were Sukhjit Singh Sukha, Gurcharan Singh Channa, Kulwinder Singh Bittu, Kulwant Kanta and Kuldip Singh, while Harjit was on scooter. They were heading towards Ludhiana.

After reaching Beas, Sukhjit Sukha, Gurcharan Singh Channa and Harjit halted there for night, whereas, Prabir was taken to a secluded house in Urban Estate, Ludhiana. The house was taken on rent by Kanta in January. It was there that Labh Singh was waiting for them.

Initially, Prabir’s car was parked in the parking lot of the CMC Hospital. Sukhjit Sukha, Gurcharan Channa and Harjit joined the gang at Ludhiana. Sukhjit Sukha and Kulwant Kanta made calls to family members of Prabir from different cities of the state demanding ransom for the safe release of their child.

On February 18, Prabir was set free by the gang at a place near Sirhind after ransom was paid to the gang, said Mr Asthana.

The police has recovered a key of the rented accommodation where Prabir had been kept. The key was with Labh Singh.


Revenue staff protest against Tehsildar’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 11
The work pertaining to the Revenue Department remained totally paralysed in the entire district following the arrest of Tehsildar, Rajeev Verma, by the Vigilance sleuths in a graft case.

Hundreds of revenue officials blocked the Mall Road for over seven hours today and sat in a dharna in front of the tehsil office in protest against the arrest of the Tehsildar. The police had to divert the traffic through the officer’s colony, which caused inconvenience to commuters.

Mr J.C. Parinda, chairman of the Revenue Officials Action Committee, said the Tehsildar had been implicated in a false case and the charge of accepting bribe levelled against him by the Vigilance Department was baseless. He said the court had granted stay on the registration of the piece of land in question and there was no way that the Tehsildar could effect its registration.

The revenue staff in the local tehsil office is contending that the Tehsildar did not accept the money, but it was deliberately thrown under his table by the Vigilance officials to implicate him in a false case.

Revenue officials met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur, who assured them of an independent investigation into the case.

The staff said it would continue to protest till Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), who is scheduled to visit here on Monday, orders an inquiry into the case and action is taken against the erring Vigilance officials, along with the complainant.

Mr Parinda said if the case was not withdrawn immediately, the revenue officials would be forced to launch a statewide protest.

Meanwhile, Mr Ishwar Chander, DIG (Vigilance), also came here to carry out investigations in connection with the case, which has created ripples among the political circles as the Tehsildar, who has been arrested, was considered close to certain politicians.

Mr Inderjit Randhawa, SSP (Vigilance), said the Vigilance authorities had demanded a police remand of five days, but the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Surinder Mohan, remanded the Tehsildar in judicial custody till March 24.

The Tehsildar was admitted to the local Civil Hospital yesterday after he complained of pain in the chest.

Mr Randhawa said there were a lot of complaints against the Tehsildar and the action against him was not due to prejudice or any kind of pressure.

The Tehsildar was arrested by the Vigilance team yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 15,000 from one Surjit Singh, a resident of Basti Vakilanwali, for effecting registration of a piece of land measuring 54 kanals and 3 marlas.


Seminar on Guru Granth Sahib held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
As a part of the fourth centenary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib, a seminar was organised at Government College for Girls here today. Dr Manmohan Sehgal, a renowned scholar, was the chief guest. College Principal Dr G.K. Jaggi while welcoming the chief guest and other dignitaries, elucidated on the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib. She also exhorted the students to adopt this philosophy in their day to day life.

The function started with the recitation of the shabad shubh karman te kab hoon na taron by the students.

Dr Manmohan Sehgal in his address, emphasised upon the uniqueness of Guru Granth Sahib, which is the only holy book of the world which is called Guru.

He released a book ‘Ab Toon Hi Main Nahin’ written by Mrs Sarabjit Kaur Sandhawalia, lecturer in Botany ,who later also presented a vote of thanks.


Army recruitment rally on March 14
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
An Army recruitment rally will be organised on March 14 at Amritsar cantonment for technical soldiers. All candidates could participate in the rally for which tokens would be distributed on March 14 morning.

Stating this in a press release here today, Mr M. Selvaraj, Colonel Director, Recruitment, BRO here, said that candidates should have passed either Class XII with English, mathematics, physics and chemistry as subjects or cleared three-year diploma in engineering (mechanical, electronics, electrical, automobile and computer science) with 40 per cent marks in each subject and 50 per cent marks in aggregate.

The candidates were required to bring their documents relating to education, caste, residence, character or other related documents. 


Patiala Gharana exponent excels
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
Patiala Gharana was back in its hometown yesterday evening with noted vocalist and its proponent Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty explaining all its subtleties at a performance at the Punjabi University last evening.

The vocalist had earlier held a three-day workshop on the Patiala Gharana in the Gurmat Sangeet Studies Department.

The performance was special because the vocalist explained how the Patiala Gharana had evolved after a mix of four different gharanas.

Pt Chakrabarty, who has mastered the art of reproducing the subtleties of human voice with his gayaki, literally commanded the audience. He started slow and fast recitations in ‘raga yarnan’ with khyal traditions of music.

Pandit Ji also presented a beautiful composition of Punjabi language in ‘mag hameer’. Thereafter he kept the audience spell bound with his heart rendering presentation in ‘paharri rag’ by singing the composition “Mitar Pyare Nu”.

He remarked that the Patiala Gharana was a blend of the best Indian musical traditions. In a very emotional tone he said “I am here to return you your rich heritage of Patiala Gharana”.

Mrs Satwant Kaur Boparai presided over the musical evening. She presented a set of four volumes of translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty.

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swam Singh Boparai, conferred senior fellowship on Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty for his meritorious musical talents. 


Family planning camps on March 14, 15
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 11
The district Health Department will organise family planning camps for men on March 14 and 15 at the local Civil Hospital.

According to Dr Harkirtanpal Singh Sandhu, Civil Surgeon, the camps will be non-scalpel vasectomy camps and all beneficiaries will be given a free blanket. He said the Health Department had been organising awareness camps and interactions with the employees of various government departments.


HC stays proceedings in defamation case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 11
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed further proceedings before a Chandigarh court in a defamation case filed by a lawyer against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Taking up a petition filed by Capt Amarinder Singh seeking the quashing of proceedings against him, including summons issued to him to appear before the court, the Bench of Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh also issued notice of motion for May 19.

Defamation proceedings are currently on against Capt Amarinder Singh following the petition of advocate N.S. Minhas, who was earlier secretary general of the Chandigarh unit of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The petitioner had alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had indulged in character assassination of SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal during the 2002 Assembly elections in Punjab.

Sometime back, a Chandigarh court had directed Capt Amarinder Singh to appear before it in person.

In his petition, Capt Amarinder Singh pointed out that similar defamation cases had been initiated against him by Mr Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal. Both petitions were pending. He questioned the locus standi of Mr Minhas in filing the case against him. The case will now come up on May 19.


Ishar Dy Chief of planning panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Mrs Ishar Ahluwalia has been appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Punjab Planning Commission. She is the wife of Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India.

Mrs Ahluwalia, an expert in industrial economy, has accepted the appointment on the request of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Singla said Mrs Ahluwalia would be given the status of Minister of State. She would not take any salary. She would work for Punjab mostly from Delhi.


Truck with Bt cotton seeds impounded, 4 booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
A criminal case has been registered against four persons in connection with the impounding of a truck loaded with the Bt cotton seeds at the information collection centre at Doomwali, on the Punjab-Haryana border in the district, today. Though the truck loaded with Bt cotton seeds, the sale of which is banned in Punjab, was seized about a month ago, the police registered a case after the Agriculture Department authorities failed to take any action in this regard and no body claimed it.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a case was registered against Pardeep Sales Corporation, Maur Mandi, in whose name the consignee note of the seeds was made by Gujarat-based firm. More than 25 quintals of Bt cotton seeds have been seized. Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, Bathinda, sealed the truck on February 19.

When the sales tax authorities tried to contact the business firm in Maur Mandi, it was found that the firm had disappeared under mysterious circumstances after the truck was impounded.

Interestingly, a section of tax practitioners approached the sales tax authorities and offered them to meet the tax liabilities in this convection on behalf of the owner, whose identity was kept secret.

The agriculture officials on their part pointed out that they were not able to draw samples of the Bt cotton seeds in absence of the owner of the same to take any action against him as his signature was mandatory for the same.


Minor held for trying to cross over to Pak

Amritsar, March 11
A 12-year-old Mohammad Munir, a resident of Karachi, was arrested by the Border Security Force while he was trying to cross over to Pakistan without any passport. He was later handed over to Gharinda police where a case under Section 3, 34, 20 of the IP Act was registered against him.

According to information, Munir was sent to his grandmother by his father Mohammad Ali four years back after the death of his wife. Munir’s grandmother died a few days ago at New Delhi. He reached Wagah border on his own to go to Pakistan. — OC


Wife, 2 others held on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 11
Three persons, including the wife of the deceased, have been arrested in a murder case. The police said here today that the main reason behind the murder was illicit relationship of the deceased’s wife with his nephew. The arrested include Mantee, nephew Star Ali and maternal nephew Faquirian Khan.

Star Ali and Faquirian Khan murdered Malamdeen with a sharpedged weapon on the night of March 2 at Lohgarh village. Malamdeen’s wife, Mantee, had made the plan with the other two accused to do away with her husband as she was having illicit relationship with Star Ali for the past four years.

Malamdeen had come to know about the relationship one year back.


Rs 4 lakh looted from bank
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 11
A combing operation on this side of the inter-state border was launched as five unidentified persons looted nearly Rs 4 lakh from a rural branch of the Punjab National Bank at Parlika, 14 km from here on the other side of the border.

The Rajasthan police flashed message to Punjab and Haryana police to help in nabbing the culprits an hour after the incident.

According to information, the accused arrived at the branch office located in the heart of the village in jeep and a motor cycle. The same jeep had reportedly taken a round of the village a day earlier, witnesses said.

While three of them waited outside, two entered the bank premises with revolvers in their hands. They forced the customers and staff members of bank in a room and looted nearly Rs 4 lakh from the cashier’s counter. The cashier, Mr K.N. Kanwal, was beaten up when he tried to resist.

Another branch of PNB was looted at Thaladka village last month, but the police failed to nab the culprits. Senior officials suspect that some inter-state gang of criminals was responsible for such strikes at petrol filling stations and banks in the rural areas.

The bank branch at Parlika village had no security guard, officials said. All accused were in the age group of 30-35.


Recruitment record of teachers missing
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
The record pertaining to the recruitment of more than hundred teachers in 1997 has been found missing. This has put a question mark on the authenticity of the recruitment. An advertisement as regards these posts was given in 1996.

Though these teachers continue to teach students in various schools, the district police authorities have been finding it difficult to get the official record on the basis of which they were recruited.

The discrepancy came to light when a case was registered against Mr Gurwinder Singh, a science teacher working in a school in Amritsar district, after the experience certificate used by him to get that job was found fake. The police was conducting an investigation into a complaint lodged against the teacher by a local advocate, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon.

During investigation, the police found that neither the DPI (Schools), Punjab, nor the District Education Officer (Secondary), Bathinda, was having any official record in connection with recruitments made during that period.

After the district police authorities failed to get any official record in connection with these recruitments from the office of the DPI (Schools), Punjab, and the DEO (Secondary), Bathinda, a regular inquiry was launched.

Mr Sukhpal Singh, DSP (D), who had been conducting a regular inquiry into this case, said he had asked the authorities concerned to produce relevant records, but he had not got these documents so far. The official record as regards these recruitments had been missing, he said.


College employees observe strike
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 11
Non-teaching staff of all the colleges on DAV campus here observed a complete strike today. They had been observing a pen-down strike for two hours daily since March 1.

The employees staged a dharna blocking the main entrance to the campus, held a demonstration, raised slogans against the state government.

The non-teaching union demanded that a 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the colleges be restored and 50 per cent dearness allowance merged with the basic salary. 


Lift ban on appearance in entrance test: students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
Resentment prevails among those residents of Punjab who have completed their MBBS courses from medical colleges located outside the state over the ban imposed by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) on them from appearing in the postgraduate entrance test being conducted by it on April 3.

In representation to the authorities concerned the students pointed out that such ban had been imposed for the first time by the BFUHS authorities.

They added that the university authorities had imposed the ban by claiming that it had surrendered 50 per cent seats of postgraduate medical courses of Punjab medical colleges to the central pool for which the entrance test would be conducted by the Union Government.

They added that though 50 per cent seats in government medical colleges of Punjab had been surrendered to the central pool, Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College of Ludhiana had not surrendered 50 per cent of their respective seats of postgraduate courses to the central pool, and hence they would be deprived of admission in these colleges.

They urged the state government to list the ban imposed by the BFUS on the residents of Punjab, who had done MBBS from the colleges located outside Punjab, from appearing in the entrance test for postgraduate courses being conducted by it.


Engineering college convocation held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 11
As many as 335 students were given B.Tech degrees at the fourth convocation of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, by Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Techincal University yesterday. The degrees were awarded to 2003 and 2004 graduates at the convocation which was held at Gaini Ditt Singh Auditorium of the college.

President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Bibi Jagir Kaur , while presiding over the convocation said the achievements of the college at international and national Level had made SGPC proud. She said GNE, Ludhiana, and BBSBEC were being run by the SGPC were rated among the best engineering colleges in the region. She said with the cooperation of SGPC members she was trying her level best to improve the educational institutes run by SGPC. 

MLA gives Rs 55 lakh to schools in Kharar
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 11
Grants totalling more than Rs 55 lakh were given to various government schools falling under Kharar constituency by the MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, at a function organised at Government senior Secondary school, Phase III B-1, here today.

Government Primary School, Bhagomajra, Government Primary School, Phase II, Mohali and Government Primary School, Bakarput, were given a grant of Rs 2 lakh each in connection with CRC building.

As many as 28 schools were given a grant of Rs 1.20 lakh for constructing additional classrooms. Forty two schools were given Rs 35,000 each for the construction of toilet blocks and for providing drinking water facility.

Speaking at the function, which was attended among others by District Education Officer, Mr Surinder Singh and Deputy District Education Officer, Mr Purshotam Lal, the MLA said that infrastructure in schools had to be improved. The MlA lamented that commitment on the parts of teachers in government schools was lacking.


Schemes to boost agro marketing
Tribune News Service

Rauni (Patiala), March 11
The Punjab Government is set to give a new impetus to agricultural marketing with the Mandi Board initiating scholarship schemes in this field at the Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana.

Disclosing this today at the one- day Kisan Mela organised at the university's centre at Rauni village, near here, Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla said 284 scholarships had been initiated for poor and deserving students. He said scholarships were being provided in the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry Department and students were getting a stipend of Rs 600 per month under the scheme.

Mr Singla said the Mandi Board had geared itself to provide the necessary infrastructure and help to the farmers of Punjab. He said the Board had taken on the responsibility of extending 24-hour power supply to 700 villages in the state.

Besides this, he said, all link roads were being repaired in a phased manner. He said the Board was going in for repair of roads which were constructed since 1994 so that all-round progress could be achieved in the state. He also called for diversification by evolving a model which was suitable to the state as well as its economy.

Earlier, in his presidential address PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh said Punjab had paid a heavy price by adopting paddy cultivation. He said though this had brought prosperity, it had resulted in the depletion of underground water level, shortage of electricity, damage to soil health due to excess usage of pesticides.

Mr Aulakh said the state government had approved Bt Cotton with the aim of diverting part of the area under paddy cultivation to cotton.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Govinder Singh Nanda, Director of Research, said the PAU would work for the maintenance of paddy straw approved by the government. He advised the farmers to use natural water resources judiciously and use less pesticides and insecticides to maintain soil health. He also advised the farmers to purchase seeds of two new maize varieties developed by PAU — PB Maize — 1 and Pb Maize — 2.

The Deputy Director, Training, Dr Jagtar Singh Chandi, said the Rauni centre had ogranised 56 training camps till now in the field of crop science, home science, agricultural engineering, plant protection, animal science and hybrid seed production. A question- answer session was also organised on the occasion.


VAT awareness camp held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 11
In view of the implementation of VAT in the state from April, the district Excise and Taxation Department organised a VAT awareness camp at Sirhind town today. The representatives of various trader organisations, rice millers associations, the General Merchants Association, commission agents, industrialists, petrol station owners, karyana merchants, jewellers, chemists, advocates and chartered accountants attended the camp. Mr Y.S. Matta, AETC, presided over the camp.

Mrs Sangeeta Sharma, ETO from Excise and Taxation School, Patiala, and Mr Surinder Garg, ETO, addressed the participants at the camp. They said VAT issues should not be politicised as VAT was in the interest of the business community. They said VAT was introduced by the previous BJP Government. The then Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh had introduced it. They said the present Government had adopted the same provisions of VAT without any major changes.

Mrs Sharma explained the various provisions of VAT in detail. She said VAT was people-friendly and transparent. It was a simple system which would reduce the interference of the Excise and Taxation Department. There would be self-assessment by dealers and traders, which would reduce the existing cumbersome process.

They also explained that VAT had been adopted by more than 115 countries, including all our neighbouring countries. Representatives of various associations had an interactive session with officials of the department and sought clarifications.


Ludhiana zone tax collection pegged at Rs 800 cr
Our Correspondent

Phagwara March 11
The Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Ludhiana Zone, Mr S.J.S. Pall, today said that a tax-collection target of Rs 800 crore has been fixed for this year in Ludhiana Zone and added that Budget would not hit growth of tax revenue but infact help it.

Ludhiana zone included Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Banga, Phagwara and other small towns of this area.

Tax totalling about Rs 625 crore had been collected so far, claimed Mr Pall after inaugurating the Income Tax Complex of Phagwara IT Department at Guru Hargobindnagar here.

We would achieve the target in remaining days of this month, he said and disclosed that the tax growth rate was between 25-30 per cent.

He said that though tax receipts had increased, however, the increase was not as much as it should be.

He attributed the fact to lack of awareness among prospective assesses.

He disagreed that tax concessions given in the Union Budget would hit growth rate of tax revenue. Rather, the growth rate would swell, he said.

Mr Pall promised a hassle-free, assessee-friendly and a simplified tax regime.

When asked as to why public was so panicky about the department, Mr Pall quipped that it was all psychological. We offer friendship to tax payers, he claimed.

Addressing a function earlier, Mr Pall maintained that the number of tax payers was the index of the progress and prosperity of a country.

This number would be increased by rationalising tax regime and not by harassing anybody, he assured.

Mr Pall praised Punjabis for being good tax payers. Punjabis were both prosperous and leaders in country as far as paying tax was concerned, he remarked.

He promised facilities to assesses. Mr Pall was felicitated with a silver plaque.

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