P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD protest against Amarinder govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and a large number of party leaders and supporters today demonstrated in the Capital against the “misrule” and “murder of democracy” in Punjab.

As hundreds of slogan-shouting Akalis tried to march towards Parliament, they were stopped by the police. The workers continued to raise slogans and some of them broke the railings.

The police used water cannons to bring the situation under control. Mr Badal and others later courted arrest.

Addressing the party workers, Mr Badal said: “Democratic norms, constitutional provisions, political propriety and decorum have all been brought under a serious peril by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh through 'goondaism'.”

The protest march was held to highlight the alleged electoral malpractice in the Ajnala byelection and the subsequent use of water cannons against the Akali Dal chief, when he demonstrated along with party workers in Chandigarh.

The protest also echoed in Parliament today with SAD members raising the issue during zero hour in the Lok Sabha.

Although Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had not given notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to raise the issue, the Speaker allowed the Akali leader to raise the issue after reprimanding him for not following the rule.

Mr Chatterjee said this should not be taken as a precedent.

Mr Dhindsa said Chandigarh was a union territory. The SAD chief was protesting against the "misrule" of the Punjab Government and was on his way to submit a memorandum to the Punjab Governor when the police resorted to water cannons.

Pointing a finger at the Congress- led UPA government for acting at the behest of the Punjab Government in the state, the Akali leaders demanded a response from the government.

As the government was in no mood to reply to the allegation, the Akali MPs staged a walkout.


Rodrigues launches programme for farmers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 15
To give impetus to diversification of agriculture and to bring about qualitative improvement in produce, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, (retd), Governor of Punjab, today launched a programme envisaging shifting of focus to agricultural marketing for increasing income of the farming community.

The programme was jointly launched by the Government of Punjab, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, to help Punjab overcome agrarian crisis.

Addressing the farmers, General Rodrigues said that the programme would offer a partnership with a guarantee of benefit in terms of maximising the profits on high-value crops of fruits, vegetables, pulses, oilseeds and dairy ventures by improving strategies and instituting a responsive monitoring system.

The Governor said that the rotation of the traditional wheat and paddy crops had resulted in a serious depletion of water table. He said that the improved process of contract farming with better quality of seeds, agro inputs, technology and markets was the only economically viable alternative available with the farmers.


Punjab orders dropping of charge sheet against ADGP
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
The Punjab Government has reportedly ordered the dropping of a chargesheet issued against state’s Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) D.R. Bhatti in the alleged multi-crore wireless scam.

The development is significant as his promotion to the post of Director-General of Police (DGP) was recently stalled following the pendency of the chargesheet.

In fact, Mr Bhatti’s case for promotion was kept in a sealed cover, even though five other officers were elevated to posts of DGP by the Departmental Promotion Committee in January. The ADGP is currently posted at Jalandhar.

Giving details, the sources in the Punjab Home Department said orders regarding the dropping of chargesheet were issued by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh just before he left for Pakistan on a four-day visit.

The alleged scam was brought to the fore after a petition in public interest was filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In their petition, two advocates Ashok Chaudhary and R.K. Kwatra — members of Lawyers’ Initiative — had sought “comprehensive inquiry” by an independent agency into the embezzlement during the purchase of wireless sets.

The two petitioners had asserted that purchases were made “without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment, from a fraudulent company, already blacklisted”.

This, they had further asserted, “was endangering not only the national security, but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force”. Directions were also sought by them for placing on record the report of an inquiry conducted into the alleged scam by then ADGP R.K. Gupta.

During the proceedings of the case before the high court, a letter reportedly written by Punjab’s then DGP was produced before the Bench headed by the then Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy.

In the letter, the then DGP had reportedly expressed opinion that the matter may be handed over to an independent agency for inquiry.

Mr Bhatti and Malwinder Singh Sidhu — another officer chargesheeted by the state government for alleged involvement in the case — had also demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into alleged irregularities during the purchases.

In fact, Mr Bhatti had filed an affidavit stating that he was willing to face the consequences if the CBI came to the conclusion that there was misconduct on his part in the alleged scam.


Kanishka judgment: experts’ testimony holds the key
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
Even as much awaited judgement in the Kanishka bombing case would be delivered in Canada tomorrow, Mr Baldev Durhe, a certified court interpreter for Ajaib Singh Bagri , one of the accused, who works as an agent with the Ministry of Attorney General in British Columbia province of Canada said that the profession (interpretation) required phenomenal skills’ as a single mistake could mar the career of a interpreter .

Mr Durhe (59) who recently visited Amritsar told TNS that the court interpretation and translation was full of challenges. A mistake could affect the judgement and also ruin the life of a suspect. Earlier, at least two translators, Gian Singh Kotli and Surjit Kalsi, had made some mistakes in the Kanishka trial. They were reportedly grilled both by the prosecutors and the defence lawyers

Mr Durhe said he had been a certified court interpreter since 1992. He was also a skilled translator. He had been interpreter in at least two high profile cases.

He also represented the defence team of the Sikh fundamentalists, who were charged with Gurdwara violence following a hukamnama against the practice of serving Langar (community kitchen) on tables and chairs.

When asked about the proceedings of the case, Mr Dureh refused to divulge the details .He said ethics of confidentiality applied to interpreters also and he could not reveal anything before the judgement.

However, he said that proposed judgement would be basically delivered on the basis of the testimony of the experts, who had watched certain audio and video clippings.

Another crucial aspect of the trial court was the witness of Gajjan Singh from Punjab, who personally knew Malik - the main accused. Huge evidences had been collected and that was why the case took 19 years for delivering the judgement.

He helps the Punjabis involved in criminal cases to understand the charges laid against them by the police and the court proceedings. According to Canada’s Charter of Rights, every individual has a right to defend himself in courts in his own native language.

Mr Dureh said that out of about 700 certified interpreters in different languages, more than dozen interpreters were for Punjabi in different areas. Besides court interpretation, they did similar jobs for the Welfare Department, Immigration Canada, Refugee Board, Hospitals, Police and Airports.

The Society of Translators and Interpretors of British Columbia (STIBC) certify them. Vancouver Community College offers courses in translation and interpretation in different languages including Punjabi. Before 1993, anybody could do interpretation. However, the Attorney-General Ministry regulated this profession in 1992-1993. It became mandatory to be a certified interpretor. A qualified interpretor earns $35 per hour. .

The June 23, 1985, mid-air destruction of the Boeing 747 had killed everyone (329) aboard, including 86 children.

In October 2000, the police arrested Ripuduman Singh Malik, a Vancouver businessman, and Bagri, a Kamloops, British Columbia, sawmill worker.


Poachers attack peahen, leave it bleeding
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
February and March are rather unceremonious for the peacock population in Punjab or so it seems. Only last year, a Punjab Government official was caught on February 28 for alleged killing of the national bird.

A year earlier too, at least four cases of peacock poaching were reported over the period of these months. Here we are again with another case coming to light even while the apparently risky spell is not over. This time around, the killing of the national bird has been averted but severe injuries have stayed on its fragile body to tell the tale of poachers’ brutality.

Recovered in a state of grievous hurt from Batala in Gurdaspur, the peahen in question had been attacked by two poachers active in the area. In fact, had it not been for the promptness shown by Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, who is awaiting an extension as honorary wildlife warden, Gurdaspur, the bird would well have been dead, its feathers plucked out for business or for taste.

Cracking down on poachers moving along the canal bank near Bhamri village in suspicious circumstances, Mr Bajwa managed to save the peahen which was reeling with pain consequent upon the damage inflicted upon its feathers. As it was, the bird’s feathers had been closely cut to disallow movement and prevent flight. Because the bird could not be released in captivity, it has been sent to the Tiger Safari, Ludhiana, to recuperate.

Mr Bajwa told The Tribune today, “These men had a greyhound and a huge loaded bag. When asked to stop, they got panicky, dropped the bag and ran away. They were chased till very far but could not be caught”.

On inspection of the bag, the wildlife warden found there was a live peahen in it. A small hole had been made in the corner of the bag just big enough to allow the neck to stick out. This was done to prevent the bird from dying of suffocation and at the same time to restrict its movement.

The Forest Department has been intimated and a case under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, will be registered once the culprits are nabbed. The Act provides for three years’ imprisonment in case of any hurt or killing of the national bird. Protected under Schedule I of the Act, the peacock/peahen cannot even be hunted down. Under the law, disturbing the nests and eggs of the bird is also not permitted.

However, due to lack of proper implementation of the Act, peacock poachers often manage to escape. 


Changing the face of Indian village
Gayatri Rajwade

Tribune News Service

  Kharoudi, March 15
In his address at the Nirmal Gram Puraskar Awards on February 24 last in New Delhi, President APJ Abdul Kalam referred to this village in Hoshiarpur district as a “model” that understood the necessity of clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene as a method to foster public health of the village community.

Kharoudi has changed the face of the archetypal Indian village largely due to an efficient system of sanitation and wastewater management.

A tiny hamlet of 700 people living in 150 homes, Kharoudi is the endeavour of Dr Gurdev S. Gill, an NRI living in Canada. The septuagenarian is a self-effacing man with tremendous zeal and passion for what he is doing.

On one of his yearly trips back to his ancestral home, Dr Gill was appalled at the squalor and filth around the village. “The villages in Punjab practically float in sewage. During the monsoons, it was impossible to cross the street. Stagnant water, overflowing drains and waste piling up ankle deep, made the village a health hazard.”

What started out as an attempt to clean up the road on which Dr Gill has his home, led him to change the ethos of life for the villagers.

Dr Gill and his friend, Dr Raghbir S. Basi, decided to approach the then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who promised a grant that matched the amount they raised. The cost of the project was estimated at Rs 1 crore.

The NRI families, all originally from the village, donated Rs 1 lakh each, raising a total of Rs 50 lakh. The government pitched in with the remaining Rs 50 lakh as promised. The project covered every villager irrespective of his caste, creed and ability to pay.

Today Kharoudi boasts of underground sewerage pipes, water pipes and telephone wires, a waste-water management system which is ecologically viable and provides water to the community, concrete paved streets, a primary school with computer education up to Class V, solar-panelled streetlights and a new panchayat/community centre.

Every aspect of community living was looked into. The ponds and marshy areas, breeding grounds for mosquitoes and flies, were filled up and converted into four parks.

A 30-foot-deep pond that overflowed every monsoon has now been converted into an open space. The area is clean and surrounded by a grille which keeps stray cattle out and keeps encroachment in check.

Rooms were added to the primary school, which caters primarily to the poorer people in and around Kharoudi. Computer education has been added to the curriculum and five computers installed along with a dedicated teacher. It includes a special programme to learn English that was sourced from overseas.

Eleven-year-old Jasmeen’s face lights up when in front of the computer. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Dr Gill says this aspect of the project has been the most fulfilling. The children have picked up a fair degree of English and computers and “when you ask the children in which language they want their eyes tested — English or Punjabi — they all choose English.”

There were, of course, some problems. The grills around one of the four ancient wells of the village were broken, the grass in the playgrounds needed tending and peanut shells lay strewn on one of the street.

Despite these hiccups, the place looks clean and washed and the women consider the changes a “Godsend.”

The economic implications in terms of job creations and the development of a community where children are safe from disease and sickness are impetus enough for the villagers to keep their little haven spruced up.

To be concluded


Move to excommunicate Badal, aides from Panth
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC), led by Mr Dalbir Singh, today announced to mobilise the Sikhs against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and SAD president, along with his associates, after the revelations made in the RSS report published in a section of the Press. He said the committee and other organisations would mobilise the Sikhs for ex-communicating Mr Badal and his associates from the Panth.

The report had revealed that Mr Badal had opposed the solving of alleged criminal cases registered against hundreds of Sikh youths in prisons during terrorism. As per the report, Mr Badal feared that such a move would create difficulties for him to rule and hence opposed the release of the Sikh youths.

In a press conference here today, Mr Dalbir Singh said they would not urge Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, to ex-communicate him from the Panth as he was “gulam” of Mr Badal and would not take any action against him and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former union minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Mr Badal, Bibi Surinder Kaur, his wife, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President SGPC and Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, former Akal Takht Jathedar.

Mr Dalbir Singh who was accompanied by Ms Paramjit Kaur Khalra, Harmandeep Singh Sarhali, chairman, KMC and Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, said they would join the peace march for the release of the Sikh youths languishing in various jails.


BSP workers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 15
The state unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today organised a massive rally here to mark the birthday celebrations of its founder, Mr Kanshi Ram. The rally was organised with twin objectives — to pray for his speedy recovery and to mobilise workers for strengthening the party.

A festival like atmosphere could be witnessed at the site of rally, where thousands of workers holding posters of Mr Kanshi Ram and BSP flags from different parts of the state reached in processions.

Mr Kanshi Ram’s two sisters — Ms Kulwant Kaur and Ms Gurcharan Kaur were also present on the occasion.

Dr Mohan Singh Phallianwala, former MP, Mr Hargopal Singh, Mr Gurmail Singh Saini, general secretaries, Mr Paramjit Gosal, president, Punjab Volunteer Force, Mr Lal Chand Aujla, secretary, and Mr Parveen Banga, president of the district unit of BSP also addressed the gathering.


Daughters perform last rites of father
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
In a state having one of the worst sex ratios in the country daughters performed the death rituals of their father here recently. It was indeed a good effort to break free of ‘Manuwadi’ restrictions.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP state vice-president, attended the cremation, ‘havan’ and other ceremonies that were performed by daughters of engineer Dev Raj Malhotra who died recently.

Even though many questions were raised over the propriety of the performance of rituals but Ms Chawla, whose brother-in-law Dev Malhotra had expired in Pathankot, supported the daughters and son-in-laws performing the religious ceremonies. Mr Malhotra had no son and only three daughters.

Though many insisted that in the absence of son, the rituals and ceremonies could only be performed by a brother or nephew of deceased, Ms Kanta supported Kavita, Gopi and Pooja — three daughters of the deceased and their respective husbands, to light the pyre and perform other rituals.

At the ‘chautha’ ceremony also, the daughters and their respective husbands performed the traditional ‘havan’.

Later, the son-in-laws took the ahses of their father-in-law for immersion in the holy Ganga to Haridwar.


Burns victim not allowed to change dying declaration
Family seeks action against police
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
In a piquant situation, the family of a young woman who died today morning due to burn injuries claimed that the woman wanted to change her earlier statement in which she had absolved her in-laws of wrongdoing but that the authorities of the relevant police station did not act in the matter despite necessary instructions issued by the district police chief.

District police chief A.S. Rai, when contacted, said the family of 27-year-old Nirmaljit Kaur of Saholi village in Bhadson block, near here, did approach him on March 11, asking that the statement given by the victim to the police before a Judicial Magistrate on March 9 be recorded again. He said the application was sent to both Chief Judicial Magistrate and the Sessions Judge but was rejected on the grounds that a dying statement made before a magistrate could not be changed.

The SSP said it was unfortunate that his men could not re-record the statement of the woman, who was on her death bed. He said if the family of the deceased approached him again, he would register a case against Nirmaljit’s in - laws and inquire into the allegations made later by Nirmaljit against her in-laws.

Nirmaljit was brought to Government Rajindra Hospital here on March 9. She had suffered severe burn injuries at the residence of her in-laws in Saholi village under the Bhadson police station. After being brought to the hospital, Nirmaljit, in her statement to the police, absolved her in-laws of any wrongdoing for her injuries, saying she had suffered burn injuries after her bedding caught fire due to a burning candle. The statement was recorded in the presence of a Judicial Magistrate.

However, things took a complete turn on March 11 when Nirmaljit, during a conversation with her sister who had also arranged her marriage, claimed that she had given a false statement to the police, as she was under intense pressure from her in-laws. The woman, who shouted her statement before other patients and people in the ward, said her in- laws had told her that they would take her back with respect and ensure that proper treatment was given to her in case she absolved them of any wrongdoing.

The woman is reported to have said that she was tied up and was thrown into a room in which kerosene had been sprinkled. She said her in-laws had bolted the door from outside and broke it to enter the room and “rescue” her when she had already suffered very severe burns.

The victim’s brother Gurmeet Singh, while talking to TNS, said Nirmaljit’s in - laws immediately fled the hospital when she blurted out the “truth”. He said the family immediately asked the Bhadson police station authorities to record a fresh statement in the case and also approached the district police chief but nothing came out of the matter.


Vasectomy leaves man homeless
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 15
In a bizarre incident, a 35-year-old rikshaw-puller was today reportedly forced to leave his house by his wife when she came to know that her husband had been operated upon for vasectomy at the local Civil Hospital a few days ago.

Talking to mediapersons at the shop of Mr Harinder Pal Singh, president of the city unit of the SAD (A), here today, Atma (35), a resident of the local Kartarpura Basti, blamed the health authorities for his vasectomy operation at the local Civil Hospital a few days ago. He alleged that he had been lured by motivators of the Health Department on the pretext that he would be given Rs 500 for getting an injection administered on his body under a scheme of the department. He said at that time he had no knowledge that he would be operated upon for vasectomy.

Atma said he had got married about 15 years ago and had now three children while his wife had already undergone a tubectomy operation. He said some days ago, he was sitting on his rikshaw at the local Mahavir Chowk, near the Civil Hospital, when two women came to him and promised Rs 500 in lieu of administration of an injection on his body at the Civil Hospital. He said he followed the women to the hospital where an injection was administered on his body. Later, he learnt that he had been operated upon for vasectomy, he added.

Atma claimed that the health authorities gave him Rs 500 and a pressure cooker in lieu of the operation, which he took to his house. When his wife learnt that he had been operated upon for vasectomy, she quarrelled with him and abused him, and compelled him to leave the house. He said now he was on the roads.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, refuted the allegation that vasectomy operations had been conducted in the district by keeping persons in the dark or by luring them. She said everyone had been educated about the non-scalpel vasectomy before the operation.


Dy Chairman of PHRO gets threat calls
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation and prime witness in the abduction and murder case of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist, today allegedly received threatening calls from the SP CID, Mr T P S Sandhu, here to withdraw his statements in the case.

Mr Randhawa was present at a press conference which was called by the Khalra Mission Committee here today where he received a call from Mr Sandhu in the presence of media persons.

The media persons heard the voice of Mr Sandhu on a speaker mobile phone. The SP was reportedly speaking in an inebriated condition. He also offered Mr Randhawa a BMW car as reward award for retracting from his statement in the case being heard in the court of an Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala. Mr Sandhu asked the Deputy Chairman to withdraw his statement and file an affidavit.

The Deputy Chairman has filed a complaint with Mr S.S. Virk, Director-General of Police for registering a criminal case against the police officer. 


Power supply to MC tubewells cut
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 15
Punjab State Electricity Board, (PSEB) today cut the electricity supply to some of the tubewells supplying potable water in the city.

According to information, electricity bills worth lakhs of rupees are pending against the Municipal Committee (MC), due to which the PSEB has taken this action.

Mr Harish Kumar, SDO, PSEB, said the MC had to pay pending bills of Rs 80 lakh to the board, but despite repeated reminders, not a single penny had been deposited by it.

He said the electricity supply to the tubewells would be restored only after some written assurance by the MC or the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board authorities regarding the deposition of the pending bills within a stipulated time.

Huge electricity bills are also pending against the MC pertaining to the electricity consumption by streetlights. When contacted, Mr Baldev Singh Executive Officer of the MC, said he was not aware of the disconnection of electricity supply to the tubewells. He said that he was busy in connection with some writ petition filed against the MC.

Mr A.K. Mahajan, Executive Engineer, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, too replied in the same manner.

When contacted, MC president Nirmal Sahota admitted that the PSEB had cut the electricity supply to some tubewell connections. She said the MC was not in a position to pay such hefty bills unless the state government provided some grants.

She, however, said the MC would try to resolve the crisis by paying some amount so that the electricity connections were restored.

The Electricity Board officials said that the Health Department too had pending bills worth Rs 12 lakh against it whereas the electricity bills of the two police stations, Sadar and City, amounting to Rs 3 lakh were also still unpaid. 


Govt staff block highway
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 15
Traffic on the National Highway No. 10 had been blocked for half an hour between Abohar and Fazilka by hundreds of employees of the state government and various corporations who had assembled to hold a rally at Khuikhera.

The rally and dharna had been organised to express resentment over the transfer of Mr Ram Partap, AJE, of the PSEB from Khuikhera to Jalandhar allegedly under political pressure. Four other employees, Mr Wazir Singh, Mr Radha Krishan, Mr Paramjit Singh and Mr Doongar Ram, had been suspended and then transferred to Amritsar later allegedly for spearheading an agitation over this issue.

Office-bearers of the Technical Services Union, the Field and Mechanical workers Union, the Kisan Mazdoor Mulazam Sangharsh Samiti, the Gram Sudhar Sabha, the Sports Club, the Kirti Mazdoor Sabha, the Bhartiya Naujwan Sabha and the Bhartiya Kisan Union criticised a senior leader of the ruling party and the PSEB management for their alleged attempt to “teach a lesson” to the AJE and other field employees for “daring” to remove “kundi” connection of a political activist.

The demonstrators shouted slogans against the SE and SDE of the PSEB and burnt their effigies. The action committee warned that stir would be intensified if the transfers were not cancelled soon. The District Kumhar Sabha, at a meeting presided by Dr Mohinder Goyal, passed a resolution criticising the leaders of the ruling party and PSEB officials for their vindictive action against the AJE and other employees.


PSEB serves notices on cable operators
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 15
The Punjab State Electricity Board has served notices on local cable operators directing them to deposit the amount of penalty for using electricity poles to give connections to consumers in different localities.

Though the TV dish cable operators had reportedly been misusing electricity and telephone poles, they face action after 15 years of operation.

Sources said that a flying squad of the PSEB, led by Executive Engineers from Muktsar and Bathinda, noticed during checking here that hundreds of electricity poles had cables laid by the TV dish cable operators. At many junctions electricity and TV cables were found touching each other.

Hundreds of houses had cable and electricity wires through the same holes and hooks.

The board officials had directed Sharma Cable Network in Nai Abadi to pay Rs 2.16 lakh, Omega Cable Network was imposed a penalty of Rs 18,680 and Royal Cable to pay Rs 11,675, sources said.

However, the local engineers were not inclined to specify whether the cable operators would be at liberty to keep on violating the prohibitory orders after paying the penalty or they would have to withdraw their network of wires.


87 cattle feed units closed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Taking serious note of the manufacture and sale of substandard cattle feed, Punjab’s Dairy Development Department has ordered the closure of 87 cattle feed factories for specified periods.

Besides this, the registration of three manufacturers has also been cancelled. A case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered against a firm in Gurdaspur district.

In a press release issued in this regard, the Dairy Development and Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, said for checking substandard feed, 10 flying squads had been constituted.

He said as many as 335 samples of feed were collected from different parts of the state. Analysis by the department’s Feed Analytical Lab revealed that 91 of these samples were below the prescribed standards.


BSNL employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 15
Members of the United Forum of BSNL Executives comprising the All-India BSNL Executives Association and the Sanchar Nigam Executives Association today staged a dharna in front of the office of the General Manager, Telecom, BSNL, and started three-day relay fast.

The executives of the BSNL have been protesting against the non-implementation of the time-bound promotion policy to which the government had agreed during the formation of the BSNL and against the fresh recruitments of management trainees.

The executives started non-cooperation today. They also decided to launch a decisive phase of the agitation against the BSNL management.


PTL ordered to replace engine
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 15
The local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Punjab Tractors Limited, Mohali, Sawdeshi Tractor, Bhawanigarh and Sawdeshi Tractor, Sangrur, to replace the engine of Swaraj tractor of Mr Harpal Singh and Mr Joginder Singh, complainants and residents of Majhi village, Bhawanigarh, with a new engine of the same specifications free from any defect and to pay a sum of Rs 7,000 to the complainants as compensation and litigation expenses.

Mr Harpal Singh and Mr Joginder Singh had jointly purchased the Swaraj tractor manufactured by PTL Mohali from Sawdeshi Tractor, Bhawanigarh, the branch office of the Sawdeshi Tractor, Sangrur, on September 10, 2002 for Rs 3.98 lakh.

The owners complained that the tractor was consuming excessive mobil oil due to some defect, besides it was not carrying optimum load while its gear box is also defective.

Sawdeshi Tractor, Bhawanigarh, and Sawdeshi Tractor Sangrur, failed to remove the defects. The Sawdeshi Tractor authorities assured them about the replacement of the tractor, but did not keep their words.

So they filed the complaint with the forum, seeking a direction to PTL Mohali, Sawdeshi Tractor, Bhawanigarh and Sangrur, to replace the tractor and pay an amount of Rs 1 lakh as compensation for mental agony and litigation expenses. On the other hand, PTL and Sawdeshi Tractor denied the defects in the tractor.

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the forum opined that the engine of the tractor had some manufacturing defect, owing to which it consumed excessive mobil oil, and it directed PTL and Sawdeshi Tractor to replace the engine of the tractor and to pay Rs 7,000 as compensation and litigation expenses to the complainants. 


high court
Student challenges amended eligible criterion
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 15
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Ms Justice Nirmal Yadav today issued notice of motion for March 31 on a petition challenging the amended eligibility criteria for the post-graduate entrance test (PGET)-2005 conducted by Baba Farid University.

The petitioner, Dr Manni, completed her MBBS degree course in December, 2003 from Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, by obtaining fourth rank in Panjab University.

In her petition, she stated for 2003 and 2004, the eligibility condition for PGET was that the candidate must be a resident of Punjab. She was, therefore, eligible to take the test but could not do so due to some reason.

However, as per the new eligibility criteria, the candidate must, apart from being a resident of Punjab, also have done his/her MBBS from an institution situated in Punjab. This clause, she stated, is against the principle of equitable estoppel.


Ex-Judge denied membership of Bar association
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 15
The attempt of a former Ropar District and Sessions Judge, Maghar Khan, to take membership of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association came to a naught today. As many as 111 members of the association voted against grant of membership to him.

Mr Khan had been compulsorily retired by the Full Court of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

As per the rules of the association, members can stone-wall membership requests from aspiring members by casting negative votes. For every negative vote cast, the applicant must get four votes to negate the effect of a negative vote.

Therefore, Mr Khan, who remained very controversial during his tenure at Ropar, needed 445 votes to become member of the association. However, he could manage only 224 votes in his favour.

Old-timers in the association say while this is not the first time that a request for membership has been “black-balled”, the number of negative votes cast against Mr Khan are certainly unusually high. However, Mr Khan can again seek membership after some gap.

It may be recalled that Mr Khan’s name had also cropped up during the hearing of a PIL against legality of the Forest Hill Golf Club and Resort, whose demolition was later ordered by the High Court.

In its judgement, the Bench had also noted that the owner of the Forest Hill Golf Club and Resort had made crude attempts to break into the fortress of subordinate judiciary by persuading certain judicial officers to accept concessional membership of the club.

One of the judicial officers who had taken such membership was the then Ropar District and Sessions Judge Maghar Khan. Mr Khan was the officer who had dismissed the civil appeal filed by the Punjab Government and PUDA against the judgement and decree of a civil court in favour of the Dashmesh Education Society headed by club owner Col B.S. Sandhu (retd).


Alleged racketeers get police remand
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 15
The local court yesterday remanded in police custody three alleged racketeers who were virtually running a parallel UK visa office here through fake documents.

It may be mentioned here that the police had arrested the trio and recovered from them Rs 1 lakh, 155 passports, 274 pass books of various banks, over 500 fake stamps of different departments including Army, income tax, sales tax, DTO, banks etc, five fake stamps of UK’s notary, three computers, three printers, one scanner, five punching machines of steel used for punching fake stickers, stationary, files, imported superior papers used for fake visas and sponsorships of the UK.

A press note by Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh said the arrested persons were Parnab Kumar Jha of Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, now residing in Urban Estate Phase-1, Jalandhar, Suman Bhardwaj of Baltana village under Zirakpur police station in Patiala district and Ramesh Kumar Moria of Kanpur village in Sultanpur district of UP. The fourth accused, Vikas Bandhela, of Baltana village is still at large.

The arrest followed a raid conducted by a police party headed by Inspector Nirmal Singh, SHO, city police station, on a tip-off. It was made under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, IPC and Section 24 of the Emigration Act.

The accused were reportedly running a bogus office of a travel agency in Greater Kailash Colony near JCT Mills. They were taking Rs 5 lakh each from those aspiring to go abroad. They reportedly forged visas of UK through fake sponsorships with fake stamps of notary of the UK.

The allegedly duped gullible youths of lakhs of rupees.

The kingpin, Jha, revealed during interrogation that he worked with Anil Bajaj of Delhi in 1997. However, he reportedly formed his own gang last year.


Sarpanch suspended
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 15
The Dakala Sarpanch, Mr Madanjit Sharma, has been placed under suspension by the Rural Development Department under controversial circumstances.

Mr Sharma, who remained sarpanch for 15 years, had defeated Rural Development Minister Lal Singh’s right-hand man, Mr Harmesh Goyal.

At a press conference held here yesterday, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, a former minister elected on the SAD ticket from Dakala assembly constituency, alleged that Mr Madanjit Sharma was being victimised because he owed allegiance to the SAD.


7 robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
The Majitha police today claimed to have foiled kidnapping and dacoity attempts with the arrest of seven persons in two separate incidents. Two persons managed to escape.

Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP, Majitha, in a press note issued today, revealed that the CIA staff, Majitha, nabbed Harjinder Singh of Sainsara Kalan village, Harjinder Singh of Jagdev kalan and Tejbir Singh of Sultanwind and seized a stolen Hero Honda motorcycle along with a 9 mm loaded pistol with eight cartridges.

In preliminary investigations, the accused revealed that they were going to kidnap Suba Singh, son of a relative of Rajwant Kaur, wife of Harjinder Singh (Sainsara Kalan). They said the father of Suba Singh had sold a land worth Rs 60 lakh and therefore they wanted to kidnap Suba Singh, for ransom.

The accused admitted to looting Rs 7000 from Sham Filling Station in Bal village. A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arm Act has been registered against them.

In another incident, the Kathunangal police on a tip-off, nabbed Amanbir Singh of Dharam Kot village, Tarsem Singh of Vahila village, Paramjit Singh of Mangia and Ranjit Singh of Ghania Ke Bet village while their two accomplices Kabal Singh of Kala Afgana and Avtar Singh of Niko Saran managed to escape by firing at the police.

The district police chief said the accused were planning to rob Gramin Vikas Bank, Tahli Sahib, and another bank at Udhanwal village.


Deaf, dumb minor raped
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 15
A 16-year-old deaf and dumb girl was allegedly raped by boy Pawan, alias Raju, son of Siya Ram, residing in her neighbourhood at Lakhasinghwala Hithar Village under the Mamdot police station.

According to the police, the rape took place around eight months ago, but the girl did not inform her parents out of fear and possibly due to her inability to communicate properly.

Police sources said the girl belonged to the Rai Sikh community and used to go to Pawan’s house as a domestic help. However, the family of the suspect denies it.

The incident came to light when the girl became pregnant. On being asked, the girl told her parents about the episode with the help of suspect indicating that Pawan was guilty.

The father of the girl, approached the village panchayat, but to no avail. Instead of taking any action against the guilty, he said, panchayat members told him to get the foetus aborted. The perturbed father then lodged a complaint at the Mamdot police station following which a case was registered yesterday.

Mr Sudhanshu Srivastava, SSP, said a DNA test of the girl would have to be conducted.

Mr Kailash Chander, SHO, Mamdot, who is the investigation officer in the case, said a medical examination of the girl had been conducted at the local Civil Hospital and the report was awaited.

According to the information, the suspect is around 18 years old and belongs to a Christian family.

Meanwhile, the girl has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ferozepore. Dr P.S. Sauna, SMO, while confirming that the girl was pregnant, said she had been kept under medical supervision and the delivery was expected anytime.


Minor girl alleges abduction, gangrape
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 15
A minor Muslim girl, daughter of Abdula of Shehbajpur, village made a complaint to the Tanda police yesterday that four youths, abducted her, kept her in their custody for a month and gangraped her.

According to police sources, the girl stated that on February 10 four youths, Abrahim, son of Abdul Kasim, Mir Hamza, son of Gulabdin, Fatta alias Fateh Mehmood son of Mir Hussain and Ali Hussain son of Abdul Rahem, all residents of Kandhala Jattan, came in a Tata Sumo vehicle, met her on the way while she was going to her uncle’s house. They forcibly put her in the vehicle and blindfolded her and took her to some undisclosed place.

She became unconscious. When she regained consciousness she found herself in the house of Yusaf located at Dinanagar.

They allegedly kept her in the house for a month and gangraped her during this period.

She somehow managed to escape from their clutches and came back to her parents.

Tanda police has registered a case under Section 363, 366 and 376, IPC.


2 cops, 4 women held for drug smuggling
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 15
Two police officials and four women were arrested by the different police teams of the district during a campaign launched to check smuggling of narcotics. The arrests were made in the past 48 hours and huge quantity of opium, poppy husk and smack were recovered from them.

Apart from them, 10 more persons were arrested for their alleged involvement in smuggling of narcotics. Eleven cases had been registered in different police stations of the district under the NDPS Act and total of 16 accused had been arrested.

Police sources said that two police officials identified as Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI), Punjab police, Sukhdev Singh and a Head Constable, Puran Singh, were arrested when they were smuggling 1 kg of opium in a car. Both accused were posted at Ferozepore district and had been bringing opium from Haryana.

Sources added that four women identified as Mammo, Harbans Kaur, Kamaljit Kaur and Baljit Kaur, were arrested in two different cases for their alleged involvement in smuggling of poppy husk. Mammo and Harbans Kaur were arrested in Gidderbha police station area and 2 kg of poppy husk each was recovered from them. Kamaljit Kaur and Baljit Kaur were arrested along with three men when they were smuggling 5 kg of poppy husk in Bariwala area of this district.

Mr L.k. Yadav, SSP, said that these women had been indulging in a sale of poppy husk from door to door in rural areas.

He added that many women were entering into this profession because they were suspected for the same very rarely.

He added that the total recovery of narcotics from these accused included 84 kg of poppy husk, 1 kg of opium and 50 kg of smack.


Principal booked for raising false alarm
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 15
The police has booked a school principal for raising a false alarm against a person alleging him of kidnapping schoolchildren.

Vijay Kumar, Principal of Bliss Public School, Santokhpura, called up at Police Control Room claiming that he had nabbed a person who had tried to kidnap students of his school. On reaching the spot, Mr Charanjit singh, DSP, conducted an inquiry and found that the principal was trying to slap a case against Mr Balbir Singh over a land dispute and had also thrashed him.

The Principal also reportedly used derogatory language on the telephone with ASI Bhajan Kaur. A case had been registered against the principal under various sections of the IPC.


7 lottery stall owners booked
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 15
A PCR team detained seven lottery stall owners near the bus stand for allegedly indulging in betting on government approved online lotteries here yesterday.

The police officials recovered slips and money involved in the racket from the stall owners. The PCR team in charge Jang Singh said he had caught the stall owners red-handed. DSP Daljinder Singh Dhillon said many stall owners had been booked by the police in several cases. 


Meri Duniya editor held

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
The district police has arrested the editor of a weekly newspaper Meri Duniya, being published from Mandi Gobindgarh town for allegedly blackmailing a PCO owner for extorting money from him. A case has been registered. He was produced in a court, which remanded him in police custody for one day.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said Rajesh Kumar, a PCO owner, complained to the police that Arun Thakur, who claims to be the editor of Meri Duniya, had been threatening him and demanding Rs 10,000 from him for not publishing a news item and a photo in his paper.

The SSP said that Arun Thakur had clicked a photo of a girl making call from his PCO and of a boy and was threatening to publish it, if Rajesh did not give him Rs 10,000. Rajesh Kumar complained to the police. The DSP and the SHO, Mandi Gobindgarh, asked him to call Arun at his PCO for taking money. The police arrested Arun Thakur while taking money. OC


Man crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
A rickshaw puller was killed today afternoon when a bus driver pressed the accelerator instead of the brake at a red light near the bus stand here.

The rickshaw puller, Rahul, was crushed between two buses. A case has been registered.


7 copying cases registered
Flying squad sees staff’s hand
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, March 15
Seven copying cases were registered and huge copying material seized from students at the local examination centre during the Punjabi paper of Class X being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) yesterday.

Official sources said Mrs Parminder Kaur, Principal, Adarsh School, Bhagu (Muktsar), and member, Academic Council, PSEB, who led the flying squad which conducted the raid on the examination centre set up at the local Government Senior Secondary School (Boys), had recommended action against the examination centre.

Sources said Mrs Parminder Kaur had pointed out that there was a mess in the centre. After the students learnt of the flying squad, they started throwing the copying material around in the presence of the invigilating staff and the centre superintendent. She said a bagful of copying material was seized. The students were carrying pocket books with them.

A search of the students was carried out and huge copying material was found in the possession of seven of them. Cases were registered against them. She said she had reported the matter to the Controller of Exams, PSEB, and recommended suitable action.

She added that copying was going on at the centre in connivance with some members of the invigilating staff.


Ramayan period historical fact, says scholar 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 15
Noted scholar and Panjab University professor, Dr Ved Prakash Upadhya, today claimed that contrary to popular conception, the Ramayan period was not a myth but a historical fact.

In his keynote address at a national seminar on the “Relevance of Valmiki Ramayan in the Modern Day Context” organised by the Maharishi Valmiki Chair and Sanskrit Department of the university here, Dr Upadhya claimed that the geographical location of the period prescribed to the Ramayan could be corroborated to the recent sites of the same name through scientific inquiry. Dr Upadhya deliberated upon the key thought of good governance, the symbol of “Ram Rajya” which is the modern concept of the welfare state.

Former bureacrat Darshan Kumar in his thought-provoking address said that Sanskrit is a great language which contains in itself the treasures of the knowledge of ancient times. He further said that to understand the ancient granths knowledge of Sanskrit is of paramount importance. While talking about Maharishi Valmiki and his creation, the great epic Ramayan, he said that though Ramayan was created long time, yet its idealism is very relevant in the present day. He quoted that our present-day family system and social ethos are greatly influenced by the teachings of Ramayan”.

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai in his presidential remarks emphasised that Ramayan had influenced society in a great way. While endorsing the views of earlier speakers, Mr Boparai highlighted how the Punjabi University had taken a lead in filling the widening gulf between privileged and under-privileged. Speaking on this occasion the Vice-Chancellor stressed that Sanskrit is one of the few classical languages and Punjabi University shall make every possible effort to propagate it.

Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, Registrar, while proposing a vote of thanks said that Ramayan is a mirror of Indian society depicting the ideals of different relations and sequences. He pointed out that the teachings of Ramayan have become symbols of relevance in the modern time too. Earlier, Dr Sharan Kaur, coordinator of the seminar, while welcoming the guests, introduced the chief guest. Dr. Indermohan Singh introduced the theme of the seminar.


College teachers to court arrest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 15
Protesting against the “anti-education policies” of the Punjab Government, the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) have decided to court arrest at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh on March 17.

Stating this at a press conference here today, Prof S.S. Hundal, union president, and Dr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, secretary, said that a rally would be held on Thursday before the union leaders would court arrest.

The teachers said that despite accepting the UGC package and receiving Rs 70.17 crore from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Punjab Government had denied them provisions like raising retirement age to 62 years, counting of total length of service for promotion, benefit of past service done in other colleges and other benefits to teachers.


Law students meet VC
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 15
Protesting against the undue restrictions imposed on them, the students from the School of Legal Studies from the regional campus of Guru Nanak Dev University, Ladhewali, here met the Vice-Chancellor today.

Second-year students of BA (LLB honours) said that a student from their batch had been suspended for not abiding by the restrictions, and others were being threatened of dire consequences.

Dr Daljit Singh, head of the department, denied any such allegations.


School starts book bank
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 15
Students and management of S D Model High School today started “Our Own Book Bank” with more than 200 students signing ‘oath letters’ stating they would donate books to the book bank.

The scheme was started following encouragement given to the students by the school Principal, Mrs Prem Lata. The Principal told to this reporter that she had noticed that students usually sold off their books to junk dealers at a pittance after their annual examinations.

She said besides urging students not to indulge in this habit and to donate these books to the school’s book bank, she also urged students to donate interesting books to the bank so that others could also benefit.


18 students shortlisted by Dell
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
Eighteen final year students of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib were shortlisted by Dell International Service (DIS), Mohali.

College Principal Dr DS Hira said that the BBSBEC palcement cell of the college arranged campus interview of DIS on the college campus. He said BBSBEC is the first college in Punjab to be visited by DIS to recruit students. He said DIS had shortlisted college student for the post of associates in technical support and financial support.

He said final year students of the college Jasleen Kaur, Komalpreet Kaur, Gursimran Singh, Supreet Bakshi, Inderpreet Singh, Gagandeep singh, Jasmeet Singh, Gurbir singh, Navneet Kaur, Divika Lekhi, Anmol Sandhu, Udey Shelly, Harsimran Singh, Satwinderpal Singh, Varun Chopra, Jagdeep Singh, Rajbir Singh, Neha Bhardwaj were shortlisted in the campus interview.

He said that this year response of companies for campus Placements is tremendous.

Prof IPS Gill, Placement Officer of the college, said the shortlisted candidate could shortly appear in operational round which would be based on computer hardware and its trouble shooting.

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