P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Prabir’s kidnappers held
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Rajpura (Patiala), April 1
After eluding the Special Investigating Team (SIT) for nearly two months, Sukha and Kanta, responsible for the kidnapping of Amritsar boy Prabir on February 7, were finally arrested by the police at a special naka at Bapraur village on the Ambala - Rajpura road, near here, last night.

Sukhjit Singh, alias Sukha, and Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, found it difficult to escape the naka laid specially for them, mainly because the SIT members had become well-acquainted with their style. Sources said the duo had become so adept at impersonating as Punjab police policemen that they had on one occasion even been saluted by the checking staff before being allowed to proceed.

This time, however, according to Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk, there was no escape. “We had received information about their intended visit to the state three days ago and had put up a naka near Bapraur”. He said yesterday when it got very late, the SIT decided to block the road completely to ensure that each vehicle was forced to stop.” They tried to escape after stopping short of the naka but did not be succeed,” he added.

The duo were travelling in a Maruti Zen (PB 02 AN 2295) when they were arrested. Heroin worth Rs 4.50 crore, Rs 5.34 lakh in cash and a revolver with 24 cartridges besides three mobile phones, including one belonging to Prabir, were seized from the duo. A case has been registered against them under both the Narcotics and the Arms Act. Both of them were produced before a Judicial Magistrate here who has remanded them in police custody till April 4.

According to police sources, the SIT formed to investigate the case was hot on the heels of the accused for more than a fortnight when members of the same gang were arrested from Jalandhar. The police was able to know about the identity of both the suspects and also the number of the car in which they were travelling. The information helped as the same car had earlier been parked for repair at a garage and had also crossed a number of check points with ease.

According to police sources, Sukha had earlier been involved in militant activities. He had committed three murders for which he also remained in jail for a few years. Kanta on the other hand is an old smuggler who has been smuggling drugs from Pakistan for a number of years. The sources said Kanta had also been arrested once from Rajasthan with 150 kg of heroin. The duo were at present involved in smuggling activities besides forming a gang to carry out extortion and kidnappings. Their links with Uttar Pradesh-based gangs are also being established.

Though the police is tightlipped yet on the ransom issue, sources said the suspects had received a ransom of nearly Rs 1.25 crore from Prabir’s family. The police has also initiated a move to recover some of this amount with both the suspects saying that they still have around Rs 30 lakh in their possession. A police party today took both of them to recover this money.

It is learnt that Prabir was kept in a rented house in Urban Estate Phase II on the Dugri road in Ludhiana after he was kidnapped from Amritsar and he remained there till shortly before his release on February 17.The police said since the house had been constructed recently in a new area, the boy’s detention there did not catch anyone’s attention.


Hanspal writes to Pranab to expel Jagmeet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has written a letter to Mr Pranab Mukherjee demanding stern disciplinary action against former MP and member of All-India Congress Committee (AICC), Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar.

He has appended to the letter a list carrying signatures of 62 members of Punjab Congress Legislature Party (CLP), who, says Mr Hanspal, have endorsed the resolution adopted by the office-bearers of the PPCC and Presidents of District Congress Committees demanding expulsion of Mr Brar from the primary membership of the party for six years.

Maintaining that he has been keeping the party high command posted of various anti-party activities of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Hanspal said that since assembly elections were not very far, it was the feeling of partymen in the State , unitedly and firmly want that immediate action should be taken against Mr Jagmeet Brar.

He said that Mr Jagmeet Brar had worked against the party not only in the Ajnala by-election but had been making allegations of corruption in auction of liquor vends in the State. Further, alleged Mr Hanspal, Mr Brar misguided people about the Scheduled Caste status granted to Rai Sikhs.

"Mr Brar has been behaving as if he is an Opposition leader who has to oppose to every move of the party and the government without any rhyme or reason," wrote Mr Hanspal.


PWD contractor resorts to illegal mining
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 1
A contractor of the PWD Department has been resorting to illegal mining in the Khadi rivulet passing through Pathankot. Mining in the rivulet has been banned. The Department of Mining had banned mining in Khadi due to its proximity to Pathankot town and lack of natural material flowing in it for the past many years. However, despite that the PWD contractor was resorting to illegal mining in the rivulet.

When The Tribune team visited the site a JCB machine was being used by men of the PWD contractor to illegally mine the gravel and stones from the river near Senior Secondary School, Lamini. The material was being carried in trucks and a tractor-trailer.

Sources available here said the material illegally mined from the rivulet was being used for construction of the Pathankot-Shahpur Kandi road. The contractor, instead of buying the entire material, was lifting it from the nearest rivulet to save money.

The General Manager, Mining, Gurdaspur, Mr Randhawa, when contacted by The Tribune admitted that the department had banned mining in the Khadi rivulet. On being informed, he sent a team of officials to the site. Later in the evening, Mr Randhawa told The Tribune he had written to the district administration and the police authorities for registration of a case for resorting to illegal mining in the banned rivulet.

The illegal mining in the rivulet was posing a threat to the culverts constructed in the rivulet. Besides, it was also a threat to the agricultural land and the Lamini government school property. The sources said the illegal mining, besides bringing about ecological loss, was also causing revenue loss to the government and the village panchayat under whose jurisdiction the rivulet fell. One has to pay a cost to the government and royalty to the panchayat under whose jurisdiction the area falls if one wants to lift material from a natural resource. Besides, a sales tax of 12 per cent and octroi was also levied on the material mined legally.

The rampant illegal mining in the Pathankot area has led to a drastic fall in the water level. According to the Department of Public Health sources, in places surrounding the sites of mining the water level has fallen by about 70 feet in the past 10 to 12 years. The Department of Public Health has written to the district administration to check illegal mining but no action has been taken.

The district administration, through an order, has banned the lifting of soil for making bricks within 100 meters of all national highways and vital installations like bridges and building. However, no ban has been imposed on illegal mining using heavy machinery like JCBs.


Driving licence scam: VB gets tough on DTO
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 1
The Vigilance Bureau has asked the District Transport Office (DTO) to hand over the records relating to the driving licence scam sought by it. It has warned of taking recourse to legal means in case of any failure to furnish the records. However, the District Transport Office is still dilly-dallying.

The Additional District Judge, Mr D.S. Malwai, who was also a part of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, had exposed the scam in which lakhs of rupees were misappropriated. Mr Malwai had asked the SP, Vigilance, Bathinda range, on November 29 last year (letter no 1727) to probe into the matter and book all those involved in the scam. The scam revealed the records of the DTO had been tampered with. Two driving licences having similar numbers had been issued to claim lakhs of rupees from insurance companies. Many of these records neither had the DTO’s signature nor the photograph of the person concerned. The District Court had given three months’ time to the Vigilance Bureau to investigate the matter but the DTO had been delaying the same. Meanwhile, sources said the DTO, Faridkot, had already submitted its records to the Vigilance Range, Bathinda. Sources said the Vigilance Bureau had adopted a tough posture following the strong notice taken by the court over the delay.

The SP, Vigilance, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, said despite making a number of requests the DTO had been delaying handing over the records. He said the records were also sought through the Deputy Commissioner but to no avail. He said the delay had also been reported to the court through a report submitted on March 30. He said a letter had also been sent to RTA, Ferozepore, in this regard. Now, a final notice had been despatched. He said the DTO had been deliberately delaying the matter. He said the records of the DTO, Faridkot, had been found okay.

Meanwhile, the DTO has deployed the Assistant DTO for handing over the records to the Vigilance Bureau. The DTO, Mr Sucha Singh Mast, said the records sought by the Vigilance Bureau were too old and their sequence had been broken in the course of shifting of the office. He said certain records had already been given to the Vigilance Bureau while the rest would be handed over to them soon. He denied any other reason behind the delay. The DTO has also engaged a number of its employees in searching these records. 


American Sikhs garner support for workplace Act
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 1
American Sikhs and the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), an NGO, are jointly making a case to encourage support for workplace religious freedom Act (WRFA) reintroduced in American Senate recently.

The American Sikhs strongly support congressional action on and passage of the Act as it promotes that no employee be arbitrarily forced to choose between obedience to his/her faith and keeping a job.

The overwhelming support is due to fact that it would benefit more than 5,00,000 American Sikhs as they face discriminatory practices at workplace.

Strongly advocating the Act, Dr Rajwant Singh, convener SCORE, said the organisation had been part of this legislative initiative since its inception in 1997. The Act would help people belonging to diverse religions and faiths .

Dr Singh, buttressing claims of several cases of bias against Sikhs, contended that “ religious freedom at workplace was of fundamental and special importance to Sikhs. We support this Act as the Bill would ensure that Sikhs could practice their religion freely without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs for jobs.

“Several American Sikhs face challenge on these basis. Daily reports in press and otherwise perturb Sikhs as they adhere to their faith at workplaces. There have been many instances of employers who refuse to make reasonable accommodation for obligation of Sikh faith that require supporting a turban, and beard. The Act would guard and restore the religious accommodation provision, that Congress originally intended”, he added.

The organisations gave a call to American Sikhs to garner support for the WRFA

Many Americans, including Sikhs, Americans are fired from jobs because their religious practices supposedly conflict with workplace obligations. Although in 1972, Congress amended the Civil Rights Act to require employers to provide reasonable accommodation for their employees’ religious practices, it is left to the employer to interpret these terms.

Only a few employers adhere to Civil Rights Act while most do not. This Act would make religious freedom at workplace “obligatory” for employers, leaving no scope for “optional or whimsical” policies.


Traders burn effigy of Punjab Govt
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, April 1
The Shastri Market Cloth Dealers and Manufacturers Association has threatened to start non-cooperative movement against the government if certain clauses of VAT were not removed.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, secretary of the association, said the new tax in its present form would ruin the business. He said the majority of traders were not educated enough to follow and understand its guidelines. He appealed that VAT should be simplified so that the traders could follow it.

He said VAT would increase the intervention of government officials in their day-to-day business. He feared that it would give rise to ‘Inspector Raj’ and bribery.

SANGRUR: The local traders and shopkeepers burnt the effigy of Punjab Government and Value Added Tax (VAT) here today in protest against the implementation of VAT. Though the traders and shopkeepers kept their shops closed on the third consecutive day, but a large number of shopkeepers opened their shops in the afternoon.

Mr Rajinder Singh Josh, general secretary of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, termed the Punjab Government as “anti-traders” and “anti-people” by saying that it had been ignoring the sentiments of the people on the VAT issue.

HOSHIARPUR: On the last and final day of the protest against the implementation of VAT, almost all shopkeepers observed complete strike here today. The traders at Talwara and Tanda burnt effigies of the state government against the implementation of VAT.


BSP releases list of district presidents
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 1
Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state BSP president, today released the list of district presidents of the party. While addressing media persons, he said that all the castes and communities had been given due representation to strengthen and broaden the party organisation with an eye on the next Assembly elections.

The following have been made district presidents: Mr Summitar Singh Sikri (Hoshiarpur), Mr Parveen Banga (Nawanshahr), Mr Ram Saroop Saroye (Jalandhar-Rural), Mr Raj Kumar Hans (Jalandhar-Urban), Mr Tarsem Thaper (Kapurthala), Mr Shiv Chand Gogi (Ludhiana-Rural), Mr Mohinder Singh Dhandari (Ludhiana-Urban), Mr Charanjit Singh Ghai (Ropar), Mr Gursewak Singh (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr Ram Saroop (Patiala), Mr Pavittar Singh (Sangrur), Mr Ajmer Singh (Mansa), Mr Mohinder Singh Bhatti (Bathinda), Mr Harpal Singh (Faridkot), Mr Pargat Singh (Muktsar), Dr Kuldip Singh (Ferozepore), Mr Ravinder Kumar Hans (Amritsar-Urban), Thekedar Balwinder Singh (Amritsar-Rural), Mr Malook Singh Tatal (Tarn Taran), and Mr Ved Pal (Gurdaspur).


Punjab MLAs get notice in assets case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Acting on an application of a Punjab Akali leader, a local court today issued notices to all Punjab MLAs for August 1 in an ongoing case relating to declaration of their assets.

Earlier, in his application before the Civil Judge, Mr R.K. Mehta, the Akali leader, Mr Gurmeet Singh Matharu, alleged that 69 Congress MLAs, including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, were yet to declare their assets even after three years of the Punjab Assembly elections.

The declaration of their assets by the MLAs, as promised in the election manifesto released prior to the February, 2002, Assembly elections, was necessary for the transparent working and accountability of the government, counsel for the petitioner, Mr N.S. Minhas, said.


CAG report points to govt’s failure to utilise funds
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Administrative failures, irregularities in spending government funds, non-spending of funds provided by the Central Government and Nabard in Punjab are some of the important highlights in the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for year 2003-04. The report has been made public after its presentation in the state Assembly.

The failure to adjust surplus employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam in March 2001 resulted into a wasteful expenditure of Rs 91.11 crore up to February 2004. Out of 11,501 employees, 6,001 employees of 83 categories were declared surplus. These were to be adjusted elsewhere. To redeploy them as per requirement, a committee was constituted in March 2003. The Commissioner, Surplus Pool, was appointed its Member Secretary. But no rules were framed to redeploy surplus staff. Due to delay in redeployment, the department had to incur an expenditure of Rs 91.11 crore on surplus staff, which was performing no job. It was a big administrative failure.

A strong indictment of the PWD (PH branch) has been made in the audit report. It says that an evaluation of internal control system in this department has revealed the non- compliance of rules, manuals, codes in the area of Budget preparation, expenditure, accounting of transactions and maintenance of stores. For instance Budget estimates for 2001-02 to 2003-04 were prepared without taking into account actual requirements. Budgetary demands were 26 to 67 per cent higher than actual expenditure incurred.

In 11 divisions, 209 works worth Rs 51.12 crore were executed up to March 2004 without the sanction of estimates. Even there was excess expenditure above estimates to the tune of Rs 2.4 crore in nine divisions. And then in eight divisions over 50 per cent money was spent in the last quarter.

With a view to providing better and improved communication facilities in the rural areas, the PWD (B&R) with the assistance of Nabard constructed interconnecting roads and bridges. Of the loan assistance of Rs 223.77 crore, funds of Rs 56.59 crore were not released by the Finance Department resulting in the delay of completion of works, besides the creation of liability of Rs 25.51 crore. The state government did not release its share of Rs14.52 crore.

And then the retention of funds outside the budgetary control of state legislature has been detected. The scrutiny of three funds has revealed that Rs 260.30 crore were realised as the cattle fair fund (Rs 3.73 crore), the Punjab Infrastructure Development fund (Rs 161.49 crore) and the Punjab Infrastructure Fund (Rs 95.08 crore). These funds were not deposited in the consolidated fund.

Report also throws light on how funds under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, a 100 per cent centrally sponsored scheme, were wasted? The construction of 25 roads of 55.59 km was abandoned due to the non-availability of land width, which resulted in useless expenditure of Rs 7.66 crore. Thirteen link roads of 37.10 km were constructed at a cost of Rs 4.21 crore in two districts. Funds of Rs 40.11 crore remained unspent as on March 2004, whereas 252 villages were still awaiting road connectivity.

Industries and Commerce Department extended a package of incentives to different industries in the form of interest free loans, sales tax exemptions etc. to inadmissible units. In Hoshiarpur district, the Director of Industries released interest-free loan of Rs 41.97 lakh to a sick unit in 1994. Though the General Manager Industries of the district had informed him that the unit had gone sick. Because of it, the government suffered a loss of Rs 98.54 lakh up to March 2004. The loan, with interest, is yet to be recovered from the unit. Irregular sales tax exemption of Rs 7.41 crore was allowed in November 2002 at Mohali. Likewise, such exemption of Rs 3.15 crore was given to small-scale unit in Ludhiana district in June 2003 violating the policy. Over Rs 15 crore of interest free loans were still to be recovered from 46 closed units.


SAD stir against private bus stand
Tribune News Service

Goniana Mandi (Bathinda), April 1
The SAD (Badal) today came out in support of local residents who had launched a stir against coming up of a private bus stand, while the District Congress president today claimed to have resolved the issue after talking to the action committee.

The local residents yesterday clashed with the police resulting in a lathicharge. About 100 persons were booked, nine of them under Section 307 of the IPC. They were of the view that the private bus stand was far away the town and discontinuing the bus service from old bus stand would cause inconvenience to them. They were demanding closure of the new bus stand, while the contractors were opposing it. They argued that if buses would halt at the old bus stand then it would be impossible for them to pay Rs 63,000 per month to the municipal council as per the contract.

The District Congress President, Mr Inder Singh Sahni, claimed that the committee and the administration had reached a compromise as per which bail applications of those booked would not be opposed and cases against the rest would be withdrawn.

On the other hand, Bathinda MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, Sardulgarh MLA Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Budhlada MLA Harbant Singh Datewas, and former Akali minister Sikandar Singh Malooka, arrived at the town and met the committee members.

They flayed the state government for booking the innocent people under Section 307 of the IPC and alleged that it was “stifling” democracy in the state. They said a SAD delegation along with the committee members would take up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP.


PSEB being divided into six companies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Despite opposition by various political parties and employees, the Punjab Government has started unbundling the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The authorities have procured six sets of documents from the Registrar of Companies, Jalandhar, to register six companies. For the registration of each company, a set of three names has been picked.

The PSEB is being divided into six companies. Besides the holding company there will be one each generation, and transmission company and three distribution companies. The three distribution companies will supply power to the state which would be divided into three zones.

The Punjab Government had recently sought three months to complete the process of unbundling of the PSEB.


SGPC delegation meets Home Minister
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
The SGPC yesterday sought to enhance the term of its President to two-and- half years from the existing one year term. A delegation of the SGPC led by its President, Bibi Jagir Kaur today called on the Union Home Minister Mr Shiv Raj Patil in New Delhi and sort his intervention to enact a law to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925.

The SGPC urged the Home Minister to allow them to operate the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib (Pakistan) bus Service for carrying Sikh devotees to historic Gurdwaras in Pakistan.

Bibi Jagir Kaur also requested the Home Minister not to accede to the request of Haryana SGPC members for a separate entity and sought his personal intervention in this matter.

The SGPC was competent to handle the affairs of Sikh gurdwaras in Haryana as well as in other parts of the country, she said.

The delegation also asked the Home Minister had to allow Haryana Sikh to take their own jathas to Pakistan.

The SGPC chief was accompanied by the Secretary, SGPC, Mr Dilmagh Singh and member of the committee, Mr Harinder Singh Dilli and Mr Kuldip Singh Bhogal.


Rodrigues mourns ministers’ deaths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (Retd) today expressed grief over the demise of two Haryana Ministers, Mr Surender Singh and Mr O.P. Jindal and also the pilot Col T.S. Chauhan in a helicopter crash yesterday.

Gen Rodrigues conveyed his heartfelt sympathies to the members of the bereaved families and prayed to the Almighty to grant peace to the departed souls.


Baisakhi jatha to leave on April 11
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
The government today made a change in the schedule of the Sikh jatha to Pakistan on Baisakhi .

According to a press release issued by the SGPC, the jatha would now leave on April 11 from Wagah to Panja Sahib and return to India on April 20.

Originally the jatha was to leave on April 12.

The SGPC has asked devotees to collect their respective passports from them on April 10.


Life term for 2 in kidnap and murder case upheld
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 1
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice Surya Kant has upheld life imprisonment awarded to two persons who were found guilty of having kidnapped and later killed a nine-year-old Ludhiana schoolboy in 1999.

The case had made headlines in 1999, with concerned residents of Ludhiana demanding strong punishment for the guilty.

The two — Jatinder Kumar, alias Bawa and Nirmal Singh, alias Nimma — had been convicted for having kidnapped Harman Singh, a Class III student, for ransom and strangulating him to death. Their third accomplice, who was a minor at the time of crime, was tried by the Juvenile and Justice Court.

In his order, dated May 8, 2003, the Sessions Judge, Ludhiana, had convicted Jatinder and Nirmal and awarded them life imprisonment for having committed the offence. They were also fined Rs 5,000 each.

As per the prosecution Harman’s father, Mr Avtar Singh, who owns a factory in Ludhiana, reported to the police on March 26, 1999, that his minor son, who had gone to play in a nearby park, had gone missing. Mr Avtar Singh had also received a phone call from an unidentified person, telling him that his son had been kidnapped and demanding a ransom of Rs 10 lakh.

During the course of trial, the prosecution also presented a number of witnesses to buttress its case against the accused. One such witness, Mr Gurbachan Singh, the then Principal of Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, had also told the trial court that he had heard the three accused conspiring to kidnap a minor for ransom. However, he did not act on the same as he thought that the youths were not serious.

Another witness had said that the three accused had kidnapped Harman and had tied him up. Later, fearing recognition by the boy, the kidnappers allegedly strangulated him to death.


Fast track courts lack presiding officers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Some facts about fast track courts in Punjab: though 34 posts of presiding officers were sanctioned, only 18 could be filled. This was not all. Approximately Rs 8 crore were sanctioned for the courts, but Rs 3.5 crore were spent.

The sources in the Punjab Government say that lack of suitable candidates for appointment as presiding officers in the state is one reason behind the existence of vacancies in the fast track courts.

They add that even though the authorities concerned are of the opinion that 18 officers are enough for the functioning of fast track courts in Punjab, the sources in the government assert that the appointment of additional officers would have further improved the performance.

The fast tracks courts had hit the headlines recently with the Supreme Court of India extending their life till April 30. The orders were passed after the Apex Court took a serious view of non-allocation of funds by the 12th Finance Commission for continuance of fast track courts.

The Judges were of the opinion that the winding up of the courts would result in a chaos as the cases would require rehearing and the Judges would have to be readjusted.

The sources in the Punjab Government, meanwhile, assert that the existing fast track courts are doing a good job in the state. That is, perhaps, the reason why the state government is setting up two fast- track courts in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur for expeditious disposal of revenue cases relating to non-resident Indians. The courts will take up matters pertaining to "partition", "mutation" and "correction of khasra girdawari.”

Otherwise also, dispensing speedy justice is an obligation on part of the state, the sources say. Giving details, they add that an undertrials' right to speedy justice is directly linked to the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.


Cultivation of Bt cotton recommended
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 1
Punjab Agricultural University has recommended cultivation of six Bt cotton varieties which have been tried and tested in Punjab and the GEAC has approved the cultivation of the same. Recommendations by the PAU have been made on ad hoc basis and the same would be released on regular basis next year after field trials this year.

According to Dr G.S. Chahal, Additional Director Research (Agriculture), PAU, the six varieties approved by the GEAC are RCH 134, RCH 317, MRCH 6301, MRCH 6304, Ankur 691 and Ankur 2534. These varieties have been approved on the basis of their field performance in Punjab for three years.

Meanwhile, unscruplous agents have been selling the seed of unapproved Bt cotton varieties in Punjab and Punjab Agricultural University experts have warned cotton growers to beware of such elements. The police has also seized huge quantity of such seeds in the cotton belt.

Dr Chahal has observed that though all these six Bt cotton varieties have good yield potential, nothing can be said about the genuineness and yield performance of other unauthorised hybrids being sold through personal contacts by different agencies.

Sponsoring companies of these approved Bt cotton hybrids got permission to produce the seed which shall be marketed in Punjab by them. The seed companies — Mahyco, Rassi Seeds and Ankur Seeds should be contacted to get Bt cotton seed of six genuine outlets.

Dr Chahal has advised farmers not to purchase Bt cotton seed of these six or any other so called Bt cotton without valid receipts.

Farmers can file cases against seed traders in case of failure of the seed if they possess the receipts.

PAU has also asked the Department of Agriculture in Punjab to constitute special teams to monitor and conduct raids on seed dealers to identify and book agents selling unapproved seed under the brand of Bt cotton. Such a process should be continued throughout the sowing season to minimise the sale of spurious Bt cotton.

Dr Chahal points out Bt cotton cultivation is economical. However, there are several misconceptions and rather over expectations about it.

He emphasises that Bt cotton is not a no spray variety and is not effective against sucking types of pests.

PAU has prepared a special pemphlet for insect management of Bt cotton which shall be supplied to various extension agencies.

Dr Chahal has called upon the cotton growers to start sowing Bt cotton right now and this should be completed within April. The Canal Department has promised to release mater for sowing from April 5.


Gupta likely to take over as RCF GM
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 1
Mr Yash Pal Gupta, Assistant General Manager, South-East Railway, Calcutta, is likely to take over as General Manager of Rail Coach Factory here, following the 
retirement of Mr Mohammad Sirajuddin yesterday.

Mr Sirajuddin had joined the Indian Railways in 1968 and served it for 37 years. Earlier he worked for South-Eastern Railway, Western Railway, Northern Railway and Diesel Locomotive Works.


Computerised system soon
Tribune News Service

Barnala, April 1
The long-awaited computerised public reservation system (PRS) at Barnala railway station will become operative within a fortnight.

This will facilitate the rail passengers to get their reservation done at Barnala instead of going to Bathinda, Ludhiana or Dhuri for the same. Mr Manohar Lal, Station Superintendent, said here on Thursday.


Posts of Asst & Joint Commissioner, XEN abolished
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
The local municipal corporation has taken a lead in reducing its salary bill by abolishing three important posts, including that of the Assistant Commissioner, the Joint Commissioner and the Executive Engineer.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday after a meeting held to pass its annual budget of Rs 45.60 crore for the next financial year, Mayor Vishnu Sharma said it was felt that a large portion of the corporation’s budget was spent on paying salary to officers. Keeping this in view and to ensure more money was spent on development works, the mayor said the General House today moved a proposal to abolish these posts. The proposal was accepted by the House and now the approved agenda would be sent to the Local Bodies Department for approval.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said all three posts were superfluous and the corporation would save Rs 12 lakh annually through this measure. He said during this financial year one third of the corporation’s budget was spent on salaries alone.

Giving details of the budget passed by the corporation, Mr Vishnu Sharma said there had been a substantial increase in the budget. This year’s budget was only Rs 31.50 crore. Now Rs 19 crore were expected to be spent on salaries while the remaining amount would be available for development purposes. He said during this year only Rs 6.50 crore was available for development purposes.

The mayor disclosed that the corporation was also getting strict on contractors who were not following due legal provision while digging roads to lay water and sewerage connections. He said the corporation was expected to make contractors make a payment of Rs 50 lakh on this account while this year they had been levied only Rs 6.50 lakh.

Mr Vishnu Sharma said the corporation was also expected to raise its income through hoardings from only Rs 1.50 lakh earned by it under this head this financial year to Rs 50 lakh. He said revenue would also be generated from publicity vehicles. He said the corporation had fixed a target of Rs 18 crore for octroi collection in the next financial year against Rs 13 crore collected this year. Similarly, it had fixed a target of collecting Rs 8 crore through water and sewerage bills, against Rs 6.5 crore collected during this year, he said.

The mayor also disclosed that the shifting of the junk market on the Bahera road was in its final stage and that the process of shifting of the market to Transport Nagar on the outskirts of the city would be completed in a few months. Mr Vishnu Sharma said a detailed plan had also been prepared to shift the vegetable market outside the city. This plan would also be implemented this year, he added.


MES engineer held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 1
The Vigilance Bureau arrested an Assistant Engineer of the MES while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 here yesterday.

According to sources, the Fairdeal Construction Company had carried out some electricity work at the MES, Bathinda, and a payment of about Rs 2 lakh was due to the firm. The firm owner, Mr Jeewan Kumar, approached the Assistant Engineer for clearance of his bill, but he demanded Rs 10,000 for the same.

Mr Jeewan Kumar informed the Vigilance Bureau about the deal and a trap was laid. A Vigilance team led by the DSP, Mr Ashutosh Sharma, caught Talwar red-handed while he was accepting bribe from Mr Jeewan Kumar.

Meanwhile, in another case, the Vigilance Bureau has arrested the patwari of Akliakalan village for graft. Sources said Mr Jagsir Singh of the village had to get a piece of land mutated in his name. The plot was earlier registered in the name of his mother. The patwari, Darshan Singh, demanded Rs 5,000 for the job.

Following a tip-off, the Vigilance Bureau laid a trap and caught him accepting bribe. A case has been registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Two women killed, 9 hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 1
Two women were killed while nine others including seven women sustained serious injuries when the tempo they were travelling in collided with a car coming from opposite direction near Chamkaur Sahib. All persons hail from Mundyna and Chandliyna village in Ludhiana district.

The mishap took place in the morning when the victims were on their way from Ludhiana to Chamkaur Sahib. When they reached near Kandola village, the tempo carrying 11 persons turned turtle after being hit by a car coming from opposite direction.

One of the deceased Harbansh Kaur died on the spot while Rajinder Kaur died on the way to PGI, Chandigarh. The two seriously injured Surinder Kaur and Malkiat Kaur were admitted to PGI, Chandigarh while Baldev Kaur, Charanjit Kaur, Balwinder Kaur, Ajmer Kaur and a driver of the tempo, Satnam Singh, have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Chamkaur Sahib.

The two other injured Sukhdev Singh and Hardeep Singh have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. The police has arrested the driver of car and registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.


4 held for smuggling liquor
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 1
The police has arrested two women while illegally fermenting liquor. In a press release here today, the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, said that the accused women, Chanchala Devi and Pushpa Devi, were caught red-handed by the Dorangla police while fermenting illicit liquor.

About 18,000 ml of illicit liquor was seized from the accused.

In another major catch, the Pathankot police arrested Devi Ram, a resident of Sarna, and Pawan Kumar, a resident of Garota Lari village, while trying to smuggle 24,000 ml of illicit liquor. The duo were smuggling illicit liquor in a Fiat car.

A case under the Excise Act has been registered against the accused.


7 absconding criminals held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 1
In a major breakthrough, the police has arrested seven criminals absconding from different parts of the state.

In a press release issued here today, the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, said that the absconding criminals who had been arrested included Manjit Kaur of Tangla village who had been absconding from Pathankot since last month, Sarwan Kumar of New Delhi who had been absconding since 2000, Des Raj of Shahpur who had been absconding since January, 2005, Mukhar Singh of Patti Mohabattan absconding since 2002, Ramesh Kumar of Ambala absconding since 1997 and Sanjeev Kumar of Pathankot absconding since 2003.


15 students hurt as bus turns turtle
Tribune News Service

Ropar April 1
Twentyfive persons, including 15 students of a public school at Anandpur Sahib, sustained injuries when the bus in which they were travelling met with an accident at Railau this evening. The condition of four injured persons was said to be serious.

The mishap took place at about 7.30 pm when the bus turned turtle after the driver lost control in an attempt to save a cyclist.


Body of petrol station owner found
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 1
The body of the petrol pump owner, Amarjit Singh Malhotra was found in the forest area of the city today. While the relatives of the deceased alleged that Amarjit Singh was murdered following a property dispute but the police is clueless and said that the cause of the murder could be found out after the post-mortem report tomorrow.

A relative of the deceased on condition of anonymity said only last week he had won a court case regarding property dispute. Amarjit had come to Ropar for some official work in the Police Lines. Last person he called up at about 8 pm was the driver of a tanker at Anandpur Sahib.

Thereafter there was no contact with him. Only in the afternoon we came to know about his death, he added.

“He was brutally murdered. Even he was not wearing proper clothes when his body was found,” said the relative.

The SHO concerned, Mr Manvir Singh Bajwa, when contacted said the police was trying we to trace the call made by the deceased.


Two women die in road accident
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 1
Two women were killed while seven others sustained serious injuries when the Tempo in which they were travelling collided with a car coming from the opposite direction near Chamkaur Sahib in this district. All the persons travelling in Tempo hailed from Ludhiana district.

The mishap took place in the morning when the victims were on their way from Ludhiana to Chamkaur Sahib for getting medical treatment.

Harbansh Kaur died on the spot while Rajinder Kaur died on the way to the PGI, Chandigarh.Two seriously injured women, Ms Surinder Kaur and Ms Malkiat Kaur were admitted to the PGI, while Ms Baldev Kaur, Ms Charanjit Kaur, Ms Balwinder Kaur, Ms Ajmer Kaur and the driver of the Tempo, Satnam Singh, have been admitted in civil hospital, Chamkaur Sahib.

The two other injured persons, Sukhdev Singh and Mr Hardeep Singh, have been admitted in Civil Hospital, Ropar.

The police arrested the driver of the car, Mr Harminder Singh, and registered a case of causing death due to the rash and negligent driving against him.


Deaf and dumb students excel
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, April 1
Overcoming their disability, a section of students of local Mahant Gurbanta Dass School for deaf and dumb and blind students has made a mark in the field of education by securing first division in the class V conducted examination by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT).

Fourteen students of this school, including nine girls and five boys appeared for the first time in the examination which was held in February this year. Ms Sonam Rani stood first by securing 74.9 per cent marks, while Ms Manpreet Kaur and Ms Sunita Rani stood second and third, respectively, by securing more than 70 per cent marks.

Other students of the school who secured first divisions include Dilpreet Kaur, Kulwinder Singh, Amandeep Kaur, Sandeep Kaur, Lovepreet Singh, Sarbjit Singh, Ravinder Singh, Kavita Chauhan, Gaganjot Kaur, Degbans Singh and Manpreet Kaur.

The deaf and dumb students, who have been getting education in this school from Ist standard, made this mark despite the fact that the students had to go to far away schools to take their examination as their own school was not made examination centre.

The environment of the school was such that every person was relishing the success of these students. When some students were contacted, tears rolled down their eyes as they were unable to express their joy in words. The sparkle in their eyes and glow on their faces conveyed their happiness more than the spoken words. They hugged and kissed their near and dear ones to share their gladness.

The overjoyed Principal of the school, Ms Maninder Kaur, while talking to this correspondent, said the successful students of the school were unable to express their happiness when they were informed about their result today. She said that she was expecting such a marvellous performance from these special students as she had already realised their potential through other extra curricular activities.

On being asked about the further studies of these students, she said the students would be given admission in the sixth class as they had already planned to start it from the coming academic session.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, said the performance of these special students, had proved that they could not only compete with the normal students, but they could make the miracles happen if taken care properly with the latest know-how to enhance their learning capability.


Samta school presents a cultural show
Our Correspondent

Lalru, April 1
The enthusiastic students of Samta Public School, Lalru, performed various cultural items at a cultural programme on Thursday.

The students who were adjudged the best in various fields were also given prices by the school management on the occasion. Mr Nirmail Singh Jaula Kalan, member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, was the chief guest.

He presented mementos and certificates of merit to the students for excellence in studies and other co-curricular activities.

Parents, students, teaching staff and prominent persons of the locality were also present on the occasion.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |