P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pope John Paul supported Sikhs on various issues
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Schoolchildren pray for the departed soul of Pope John Paul II at a school in Amritsar on Sunday
Schoolchildren pray for the departed soul of Pope John Paul II at a school in Amritsar on Sunday. — PTI photo

Amritsar, April 3
The meeting of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Pope John Paul II in January 2002 would be remembered as a “historic event” when the former and his team was allowed to carry a three-foot long kirpan during his visit to Assisi and Vatican to mark the Prayer for World Peace.

It was after initial hiccups that security agencies had allowed them to carry the kirpan. Initially, senior officials of the security agencies had told the Jathedar that nobody could carry any “weapon”. The security agencies were extra cautious about the security as the World Peace Prayer was held a few months after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the USA. However, the religious personalities who accompanied the Jathedar told them that kirpan was part of the ceremonial dress of the Jathedar and he could not part with it.

Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, who accompanied the Jathedar as his secretary, told TNS that after detailed discussions, officials of Vatican and Assisi agreed to permit Jathedar Vedanti, Baba Mohinder Singh of ‘Nishkam Sewak Jatha’, UK, Baba Daljit Singh Chicago and Mr Harbans Singh, president of the Sikh Religious Society, Italy, to carry the full-length kirpan.

Meanwhile, Sikhs around the world remember the intrepid Pope for his moral support to the community on human rights. The Pope had rallied behind them on various occasions. According to the United Sikhs Mission, only last year Pope John Paul II threw his weight behind Sikhs to oppose the French Government’s ban on religious signs, including the Sikh turban, at schools, saying ‘’the government cannot be an arbiter in any religious matter.’’ Mr Sameep Singh, inter-faith director of United Sikhs, a global human development organization, said the Pope had always supported the cause of the community and worked for the betterment of Sikhs globally.

The Pope’s message had come after the Sikh community sought his intervention to oppose the French ban on the Sikh turban, an expression of the Sikh identity and faith. Pope John Paul II, in his message, had said, “In recent times, we have witnessed in some European countries an attitude that could endanger the effective respect for religious freedom. Everyone may agree to respect the religious sentiment of individuals but the same cannot be said of the religious factor, that is the social dimension of religions.”


Water purification plant to be installed in Durgiana Temple
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
The devotees will get clean water from ‘Har ki Pauri’ of the 80-year-old Durgiana Temple here from Baisakhi.

The Shree Durgiana Temple Management Committee (SDTMC) is also contemplating widening the “Parikarma” of the temple. Built in 1925, the temple echoes not the traditional Hindu temple architecture, but that of the Golden Temple. It rises from the midst of a tank and has canopies and the central dome in the style of a gurdwara. Its foundation stone was laid by one of the greatest reformers and political leaders of resurgent India, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. It is a well-known repository of Hindu scriptures.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Surinder Arjun, working president of the SDTMC, said the forthcoming meeting of the SDTMC was likely to give green signal to the budget of Rs 1 crore that would be spent in three phases on the beautification plan of the temple. This is for the first time that a water purification plant is being installed to purify the “sarovar water”.

Five “Mahatmas” (the most-revered religious figures) from various parts of the country would perform the ceremony regarding the installation of the purification plant. Mr Arjun said that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, would specially visit the temple to mark the occasion. The ceremony would be performed with gold spades and silver bowls.

Earlier, Kar seva for cleaning the sacred pool of Golden Temple was done on March 25 last year in which a large number of devotees from all over the world took part.

Giving details, the working president of the SDTMC said that Ionex Engineering Company of Ahmedabad would take up the responsibility of installing the plant.

Mr Arjun said that despite financial constraints, the SDTMC was determined to complete the ongoing projects.


Govt companies, PSUs incur huge losses
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Government companies, statutory corporations and public sector undertaking (PSU) in Punjab are in financial mess due to misappropriation of funds, loss of revenue and failure to recover crores from other departments and their consumers.

This has been pointed out by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) in the audit (commercial) report for the year ending March, 2004.

Due to deficiency in management, at least 11 companies and four corporations incurred an aggregate loss of Rs 345.10 crore and Rs 568.73 crore, respectively.

Take the case of the Punjab State Electricity Board. It failed to recover Rs 1.03 crore from a consumer involved in power theft as it delayed communicating the decision of the Dispute Settlement Authority and accepted the appeal without requisite deposit.

Another Rs 16.75 crore were wastefully spent due to non-revision of advance consumption deposit immediately after the revision of tariff as the board could not receive additional interest free fund of Rs 56.90 crore from the consumers on the connections and the additional load released during November, 1998 and April, 2001. This could have saved the interest expenditure up to March, 2003, the CAG has pointed out.

Again, the board lost a revenue of Rs 17.53 crore due to its failure to implement instructions regarding clubbing of more than one connection running on the same premises resulted in the loss of revenue due to non levy of surcharge. Failure to ensure daily transfer of funds, delay in crediting and transferring the funds by banks to board’s main account resulted in the loss of interest of Rs 2.54 crore during 1998-2003.

In the case of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, lack of control over milling operations and non-adherence to milling policy resulted misappropriation of rice and paddy amounting to Rs 194.46 crore by rice millers. Though a similar irregularity was not pointed by the CAG in its report for 1999-2000, neither the state nor the corporation took remedial measures. Consequently, there was further misappropriation of 14,841.79 tonnes of rice in five district offices which resulted in the non-recovery of Rs 29.33 crore.

The Punjab Agro Food grains Corporation suffered a loss of Rs 6.45 crore on the disposal of wheat damaged due to improper maintenance and failure to upgrade the damaged wheat. The CAG has pointed out that due to deficiency in the one time settlement policy of the state government, the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation suffered a loss of Rs 3.37 crore.

The position of the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation and the Punjab State Forest Development Corporation is equally bad. The Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation suffered a loss of Rs 17.13 crore due to its failure to get the paddy milled in time in 2000 and 2001. This happened as against the period of 180 and 200 days for milling and delivery of rice to the FCI. Further, due to inadequate control over milling operations and violation of milling policies, the company suffered a loss of Rs 5.2 crore.

There was misappropriation of 23,122 metric tonnes of rice in eight districts, resulting in the non-recovery of Rs 39.92 crore from the erring rice millers. Another Rs 22.63 crore could not be recovered from the FCI on account of claiming transport charges beyond 8 km during 2001-03.

Punjab State Forest Development Corporation Limited suffered a loss of Rs 1.06 crore on account of royalty to the state government due to lower output norms for standing eucalyptus trees. Besides, out of 3.88 lakh battens at five saw mills as on March 31, 2003, 3.80 lakh battens were more than three year old and have been defective due to lack of timely disposal. Realising value of these battens was Rs 4.29 lakh against their normal value of Rs 95.67 lakh, resulting in a loss of Rs 91.38 lakh.

The Punjab Agro Industries Corporation and the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation also suffered losses of different accounts.


Illegal mining continues
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 3
Illegal mining in the Khadi rivulet continues despite the Mining Department writing to the Deputy Commissioner and the police to ban it.

When The Tribune photographer went to click photographs of the illegal mining in the Khadi rivulet yesterday he was attacked by a group of men. The matter was reported to the SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh who assured to take action.

The General Manager, Mining here, Mr Randhawa also confirmed that the mining had been banned in the rivulet. The area in which the illegal mining was taking place was near the government school due to which mining cannot be allowed.

He said the district administration and the police had been informed about the illegal mining and now it is their duty to take action against the guilty officials.

Sources also revealed that besides the PWD contractor the Department of Irrigation was also carrying out illegal mining in the area. The irrigation and the Drainage Department was carrying out the remodelling work on the UBDC canal in the Gurdaspur area. Tenders worth about Rs 1 crore have been issued for the supply material, gravel, for the remodelling process.

The irrigation authorities were allegedly mining illegally gravel from the Khadi rivulet

The sources also reported that an alleged nexus between politicians and bureaucrats was responsible for the continued mining due to which the police as well as the district administration officials were dithering to take action.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh, when asked to comment about the illegal mining said that he had not yet received any letter from the Department of mining. As soon as the letter was received action would be taken.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.


Punjab seeks Rs 510 cr under Central road project
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 3
The Government of Punjab has demanded its due share of Rs 510 crore from the Union Government under the Prime Minister's Gram Sarak Yojna (PMGSY).

This was stated by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD, Punjab, while talking to The Tribune. He said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had written a letter to the Prime Minister in that connection.

He said the Government of India had created a National Road Fund of approximately Rs 5,600 crore per annum by levying a cess of Rs 1 per litre on diesel. As much as 50 per cent of the cess so collected was placed at the disposal of the Union Ministry of Rural Development for further allocation of funds to the states under the National Rural Road Development programme, he said.

Punjab was contributing approximately Rs 105 crore per annum towards the PMGSY fund by way of cess on consumption of high-speed diesel. However, the allocation of funds to Punjab under the PMGSY was only Rs 24.66 crore, Rs 74.39 crore and Rs 38.45 crore during 2000-01, 2001-03 and 2003-04, respectively. Thus in terms of allocation, Punjab was yet to get Rs 510 crore under the scheme, he said.

Mr Bajwa said the Ministry of Rural Development believed that Punjab already enjoyed nearly 100 per cent rural connectivity. However, a substantial part of this connectivity had been achieved by commercial borrowings worth nearly Rs 600 crore during 1998-2001.

Thus, any shortfall in the allocation would amount to double taxation on people of Punjab. They would have to pay full cess as well as interest repayment on commercial borrowings.

Though theoretically Punjab might have provided pucca roads to most of its villages, in its endeavour to connect maximum number of villages, the specification followed on those roads had been much lower than required.

The growth of traffic on those roads over the years had rendered the existing roads absolutely insufficient. Therefore, there was an immediate need to upgrade those rural roads, Mr Bajwa said.

The core network, as per PMGSY guidelines, had been finalised for the state and a length of 7,487 km had been identified. Even on a conservative assessment, such roads needed Rs 1200 crore for their immediate improvement to the specifications prescribed under the PMGSY. 


Imported varieties to help citrus cultivators
Poonam Bath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The arrival of eight high-yielding varieties of citrus root stock and 4,200 budwood plants belonging to as many as 18 varieties at Tropicana/Pagrexco R and D farm from California at Jallowal village in Jalandhar district is yet another step forward to help citrus cultivators in Punjab touch the international market.

The Managing Director of Pagrexco, Mr Himmat Singh, told TNS that the cultivation of these much-awaited foreign varieties of plants and seeds would give a fillip to citrus cultivation programme in the state, being undertaken in collaboration with Tropicana. The new varieties would not only help the cultivators fetch a better price due to their quality, but also increase their output. It would be anything between 1,000 to 2,000 oranges per tree per season, he said adding that the fruits of the project would however visible within the next three to four years.

The varieties selected for import this season, he said were shortlisted from among those species and plants which were imported earlier and had shown promise for enhanced productivity and growth during the past two years. With this import, the output was likely to go up from the earlier limited production capacity of 20-40 thousand plants per year to 2 to 4 lakh plants per year. The successful introduction of cultivation and mass production would find a channel for processing and table purpose citrus cultivars in the state.

Dr Jim Keithly, an expert from Tropicana, USA, who has arrived along with the plant material, will be supervising the budding/grafting of these plants and introduce the cultivators to the new varieties.

Additional infrastructure facilities in the form of one more advanced green house and three more screen houses having state-of-the-art climate control, including temperature, humidity and light for the proper nursery production of these plants would help in their proper growth. They would help in their proper growth.

They would in turn be used to grow mother trees from which additional budwood would be generated for commercial production. Once ready, the cultivators will have access to different varieties for at least six months and will go a long way towards facilitating the commercialisation of the production of citrus fruits.

Mr Himmat Singh said this time they had also imported some high-yielding budwood varieties of lemon and grapefruit such as bearss lime, Lisbon lemon, redblush grapefruit and flame grapefruit, besides oranges. The one-and-a-half lakh citrus seeds, including carrizo citrange, C 35 citrange, volkameriana and rubidoux trifoliate, were also being put in specially prepared and sterilised soil with the right mixture of organic matter (humus).

They would be initially grown in trays so as to be ready for further transplantation after germination.

PepsiCo, meanwhile, plans to create a large sourcing base here as it is presently importing concentrated juices from the USA and Brazil for the Tropicana brand. India, they feel has a huge potential for outsourcing if it can just produce internationally competitive products. This will also help bring down the cost of pure juices to as low as that of juice drinks.


Coming back to roots
Kiran Deep

Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 3
It has been almost 58 years after Partition but he never forgot the days he spent in his ancestor village here. He had desired many times to visit the village but the atmosphere was not conducive on both sides of the borders. The long wait ended today for Mr Rana Mohammed Yusuf, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Pakistan (CPP), who visited Bhagwantpura village, about 10 km from Ropar. He was accompanied by Imdad Qazi, general secretary of the CPP and Kastro Imdad, president of the Democratic Students Federation, Hyderabad.

The entire village was excited with Mr Yusuf visit. As he began to locate his house, the villagers were on the streets accompanying him to trace his house. He did not take much time to identify his house though in a much changed outlook.

I had beautiful memories about my childhood day that I spent here. It was my desire to be once in the village and meet the people who had been associated with my father and grandfather, said Mr Yusuf while interacting with villagers in the house once belonged to his family and now owned by Bant Singh.

Mr Yusuf said there was favourable environment in both the countries. So the dialogue on Kashmir issue could be delayed and people of the both the countries allowed to visit each other's country freely”, he said. Earlier, the delegates were welcomed by the Parliamentary Secretary (Industry and Commerce), Mr K.P.S Rana, along with local leaders.


MCPI conference ends with anti-globalisation call
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
The two-day conference of the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) concluded at Longowal village, about 20 km from here, today with the adoption of a resolution calling upon all patriotic, progressive and democratic forces to rise against imperialistic globalisation.

This, the resolution said, would push the country towards economic and political slavery.

The conference condemned the Central Government for not increasing the minimum support price (MSP) of crops, including wheat, paddy and cotton.

More than 20 delegates, including Mr Gurdev Singh Sarabha (Ludhiana), Mr Kamaljit Singh (Chandigarh), Mr Sukhwinder Singh (Hoshiarpur), Mr Nidhan Singh (Bathinda) and Mr Labh Singh (Patiala) took part in the discussion on the organisational report of the party.

Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the Kirti Kisan Sabha, Punjab; Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, national general secretary of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) Mr Malkiat Singh, general secretary of All-India Centre of Trade Union (AICTU), and Mr Gandrav Sen, secretary, Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Committee, Jalandhar, also spoke.

The conference elected 40 delegates for the all-India MCPI conference to be held from May 6 to May 8 at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It elected a 25-member Punjab state committee of the party, including Mr Jagjit Singh Layalpuri, Mr Prem Singh Bhanghu, Mr Kuldip Singh and Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon.


Ravinder Singh re-elected SAD (A) dist chief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
SGPC member Ravinder Singh Khalsa was unanimously re-elected district president of the Youth wing of the SAD (A) at a meeting held at Kila Harnam Nagar residence of Simranjit Singh Mann, here today.

National president of the Youth wing Varinder Singh Mann presided over the meeting. Hundreds of party workers participated in the meeting.

Addressing the workers, Varinder Singh said other “Panthic” leaders had forgotten the “Panthic” agenda and were playing into the hands of the BJP and other communal forces. He said his party would launch an agitation for the release of Sikh youths detained in various jails.

Iman Singh Mann, son of Simranjit Singh Mann, in his address alleged that the SGPC had become a den of corruption. He lashed out at the Congress government for ignoring the interests of Sikh youths and farmers.

Ravinder Singh Khalsa said he would continue to work towards strengthening the organisation.


Taraksheel society gets new body
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 3
A two-day-long delegate session of the Punjab Taraksheel Society, which began here at the local Gobind Bansal Charitable Trust Complex on Saturday evening, concluded here on Sunday. Two hundred delegates from 80 units of 11 zones of Punjab took part in the delegate session of the Punjab Taraksheel (Rationalist) Society. They elected the state executive committee for the next two years and adopted four resolutions.

Disclosing this to The Tribune at the Gobind Bansal Charitable Trust Complex today, Mr Harinder Lali, assistant media incharge of Taraksheel Society, said the delegates participating in this delegate session from all parts of Punjab held parleys over issues of sensitive nature like separation of religion from politics.

Mr Lali revealed the delegate session adopted four resolutions. Through the first resolution the society demanded the government must make a law for stopping interference of religion in politics. The recognition of political parties mixing religion with politics must be discarded. The society expressed concern over the conviction of members of the Kiranjit Kaur Abduction, Rape, Murder Action Committee by a local court. In the wake of this decision, forces fighting against tyranny and excesses would be adversely affected.

Through another resolution, the society demanded a ban on unscientific propaganda made through serials and other programmes in the electronic media. The society demanded that such criminal sections initiated in the wake of certain utterances injuring someone’s religious sentiments go against the constitutional freedom of expression should also be scrapped.

The delegates elected the state executive body of the Punjab Taraksheel Society for two years. Those elected included Mr Bhura Singh Mehmasarja (organising secretary), Mr Hem Raj (Finance Secretary), Mr Balwinder Singh (In-charge of the National and International Co-ordination Committee), Mr Sunit Singh (media incharge), Mr Balbir Longowal (in-charge of the Publication Department), Mr Rajinder Bhadaur (in-charge of the Psychiatric Wing), Mr Avtar Godara (in-charge of the Editorial Wing), Mr Sukhdev Phagwara (in-charge of the Cultural Wing), Mr Sukhwinder Baagpur (in-charge of the Printing Wing), Mr Harinder Lali, (Assistant Media in-charge) and Mr Gurmail Singh (assistant finance secretary).


Farmers, commuters suffer due to cattle menace
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 3
In the absence of a definite policy to tackle stray cattle menace, farmers of the district continue to suffer crop damages and a number of persons lose their lives in road accidents. The animal population has increased manifold in the past few years but the administration has yet to woke up to listen to the problems being faced by the farmers and commuters.

One of the reasons for the rise in stray cattle has been attributed to cattle market being held every month in three subdivisions of the district — Ropar city, Morinda and Kurali. The animals are brought from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for sale in these markets. But a large number of old animals which could not be sold here, are abandoned by their owners as the cost of transportation to take them back would be much more than their actual price.

The problem has assumed a serious proportion, as the place allocated to the animal markets was adjacent to main roads. The animal market is held twice a month near Bassi road in Morinda district, Adharera village in Kurali, near to National Highway-21, and in Malikpur village, near the national highway passing through Ropar city. During these days, the national highway remains blocked and prone to accidents.

Besides, a number of stray dogs are seen roaming on the National Highway-21 causing accidents.

The problem of cattle menace was brought up at the Grievance Committee meeting, which was attended by senior functionaries of the administration and local MLA, but no step has been taken so far to solve the problem, farmers complaint.

“Last year, four persons lost their lives when the van in which they were travelling met with accident in an attempt to save cows on a road in Kurali. Besides it, every alternate day, mostly two wheelers usually become victim of the cattle menace. We are constructing a shed for these animals,” said Jaswinder Singh, resident of Kurali.

“Due to cattle menace farmers have been suffering a lot. To reduce the damages caused to crops by the stray animals, we have made a special shed for them and feed them there, so that they do not destroy our crops. It costs us significantly as the number of stray cattle increases every year” said Bhupesh Sharma, a progressive farmers who owns land in Malikpur.

“During night stray animals come out on roads, specially in summer. I am living near animal market and has witnessed a number of accidents caused by stray animals. I have admitted the injured to a hospital. A few years ago, the only son of an engineer in Thermal plant had lost his life when he met with an accident due to stray cattle on the National Highway-21, said Bobby, a resident of Ropar.

Tejinder Singh and Sant Ram Vashisht, farmers of Boormajra village in Morinda subdivision, said, “We have to spend nights in our field to protect our crop from stray cattle. One member of the family remains in fields when the crop is ready”.

When contacted, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr Harnek Singh, said the cattle menace was everywhere. We were looking for an appropriate solution.


Poor response to octroi bidding costs MC dear
Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 3
The municipal council (MC) is suffering a loss of Rs 20,000 daily in octroi posts, as none of the contractors has come forward for bidding after the state government increased the reserved bid by 15 per cent.

Sources said the MC had auctioned its octroi posts at Rs 3.25 crore in February 2004 and this contract expired a couple of months ago. The auction last year had registered an increase of Rs 70 lakh and it boosted the income of the MC. Sources said the Punjab Government raised the reserved bid of octroi posts to 3.74 crore this year but the government move to fill the MC coffers boomeranged and no contractor made a bid for the contract. Surprisingly, the bidding dates were scheduled thrice. However, no contractor was ready to shell out more than Rs 3.25 crore. Every time the bidding had to be suspended owing to very poor response from the contractors. Sources said the MC would have earned Rs 90,000 daily if it had given octroi posts on contract, but now when it was running the posts itself, it was earning 70,000 daily. This has already caused it losses to the tune of lakhs of rupees in the last two months.

In an effort to shed responsibility of failing to auction the octroi posts, the MC held a meeting in March-end and demanded from the government to reduce the reserve price. It is yet to receive any response from the state government.


Expedition team begins tour
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
A four-member team, comprising Mr Dasvir Singh Dalee, Mr Amrik Singh, both advocates, Mr Gurminder Singh Grewal and Mr Mohinder Singh, a photographer, today left the town to touch the capitals of all states of the country in 17 days as part of their “India Expedition of Adventure” programme.

During the expedition, they will spread the message of world peace, protection of human rights and protection of environment and wild animals.

Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), performed the flagging off ceremony at the PWD Rest House here. Among others present were Mr Harkewal Singh Sajuma, president of the Sangrur District Bar Association, and Mr Bahadur Singh Bhasour, district general secretary of the SAD (A).

Mr Dalee, leader of the expedition, said the team would cover about 16,140 km distance. The aim was to get the names of the team members mentioned in the Limca Book of Records.


Arrest Ashutosh, demand Sikh organisations
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 3
The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) and other Sikh organisations have demanded the arrest of Ashutosh, head of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) also known as Noormehlias for misinterpreting the teaching of Sikh Gurus and the Gurbani.

The demand was raised in the resolutions passed at a conference organised here today by the KMC and other Sikh organizations.

In the other resolutions passed in the conference it demanded a ban on the DJJS, withdrawal of cases registered against the Sikh leaders after the clash of Sikh activists and activists of the DJJS here on March 29 and the release on Sikh detainees lodged in different jails in the country.

Bhai Ranjit Singh former Jathedar of Akal Takht , Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab State Human Rights Organisation, Bhai Sawarn Singh of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal, Mr Dalbir Singh, patron of the KMC, and others addressed the conference.


PSEB employees hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 3
Hundreds of Punjab State Electricity Boards employees, labourers and farmers led by the Technical Services Union, Fazilka Division, staged a protest rally outside the office of the Executive Engineer, PSEB here on Friday to demand revocation of the transfer of an assistant engineer and suspension of four other employees of Khui Khera electricity subdivision.

These employees have allegedly been victimised at the behest of the local MLA as the board officials had detected power theft by an influential person having proximity with the ruling party about two months back.

Mr Satish Verma, state secretary of the Punjab State Karamchari Dal, while addressing the rally, alleged that Ram Partap, Assistant Engineer, who is also vice-president of the Technical Services Union, Khui Khera unit, was transferred to Jalandhar and four assistant linemen were suspended although they were performing their duty.

Mr Verma and other speakers, including Mr Balbir Singh Kathgarh, Mr Ram Niwas, Mr Gopi Ram, Mr Vasawa Ram, Mr Kundan Singh and Mr Virender Kumar, all office-bearers of different unions, said they would take their struggle to streets if the suspension and transfer were not revoked immediately.

Hundreds of protesting activists, including women, later held a protest march in the bazars and demanded that there should be no political interference in the performance of their duties. They raised slogans against the local MLA and the Punjab Government.


Pak move to buy F-16 jets decried
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 3
We condemn recent decision of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to purchase F-16 strike fighter aircraft from the US as there was no need to spend such huge amount. The amount could be spent on development and welfare of the people as 40 per cent of the people in Pakistan still do not have basic amenities said Imdad Qazi, the general Secretary of the Communist Party Pakistan while interacting with the press here today. He visited the city along with two other members of the Communist Party.

The leaders of India and Pakistan forgot all rivalry and opened all channels to bring peace and people closer to each other. Kashmir issue could be discussed later. First the people of the India and Pakistan should be allowed visit freely,” he said.


Sangrur MC chief resigns
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
Mr Harbans Singh Garcha, president of the local municipal council, has resigned from his post. However, the reasons behind his resignation are still unknown. Mr Garcha was elected president of the MC on March 21, 2003.

Sources said Mr Garcha had sent his resignation to local MLA Arvind Khanna on March 2 and Mr Khanna had forwarded his resignation to the local MC authorities to discuss the same at a meeting of the MC. In view of this, the Executive Officer (EO) of the local MC had now convened a meeting of the MC on April 5 to discuss Garcha’s resignation.


Punjabi Theatre Day fest opens
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
The 92nd International Punjabi Theatre day festival, organised by the National Theatre Arts Society, opened here today with a performance of ‘paisa bolta hai’, a Punjabi satire adapted from Bengali.

The festival was inaugurated by Mr A.P. Dubey, Manager, State Bank of Patiala, district courts branch at the Barandari ground today morning. Mr Shyam Lal Gupta, MD, hotel Flyover classic, distributed prizes.


8 NRIs booked for demanding land
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 3
Eight non-resident Indians have been booked on the charges of demanding 11 acres of land from the parents of a married woman and harassing her. These NIRs are settled in England and Holland.

The complainant, Sukhdeep Kaur of Badhanikalan, had stated that she got married to Sukhrajpal Singh, a resident of England, on March 29 last year and her parents had spent about Rs 10 lakh on their marriage, besides giving a lot of jewellery to her in-laws.

She said her husband had promised to call her to England soon, but just when the process of her immigration had started, her in-laws put forth a demand that her parents would have to give 11 acres of land for her immigration. She alleged when her family expressed their inability in fulfilling their demand, they started dilly-dallying her immigration.

Taking serious notice of her complaint, the police has booked her husband and seven others under Sections 406, 498A and 120-B of the IPC.


Spurious cotton seeds worth 40 lakh seized
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 3
The Muktsar police has seized spurious cotton seeds worth Rs 40 lakh. Sources said following a tip-off, the city police set up a naka near a petrol station on the Malout road and stopped a Mahindra jeep (RJ13G-0089), On searching the jeep, the police seized a large quantity of spurious cotton seeds, which the accused were planning to sell off to cotton farmers in the area.

Ratan Singh of Dharam Nagri, Abohar, was driving the vehicle, while Mahil Singh from Rajasthan was accompanying him. Agriculture Department officials, Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mr Harvinder Singh, were also present at the time of seizure of seeds.

The seized stock is estimated to be worth about Rs 40 lakh.

A case has been registered against both the accused under Sections 420, 467, 468, and 471 of the IPC.


Immolation bid by Hindu Samiti leader
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
A local politician, last night tried to immolate himself after dousing himself with kerosene in the busy Sheranwala Gate area of the city.

Mr Sanjeev Bhardwaj, who is the national president of the Hindu Suraksha Samiti, was protesting against the decision of the municipal corporation to demolish iron grills installed by the samiti on a piece of land, near one of the gates leading to the Kali Devi temple.

The samiti had recently launched a beautification drive under which all shops selling liquor and meat were to be removed from the vicinity of the historic temple. The samiti had also installed iron grills on a piece of land and had removed some rehris selling meat products from that area.

However, late last night the MC authorities sprung into action and removed the iron grills which provoked Mr Bhardwaj to register a protest by dousing himself with kerosene oil in front of nearly 200 supporters of the samiti in the busy Sheranwala Gate area.

A DSP, along with a posse of policemen reached the spot and managed to calm Mr Bhardwaj down.

The SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, confirmed the incident.

Earlier, a delegation of the samiti members had met the Patiala MP, Mrs Preneet Kaur, and urged her to remove meat and wine shops from the vicinity of the temple complex.


Three arrested for fraud
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 3
The police has arrested Rajesh Kumar Joshi of Ali Mohalla, Jalandhar, Harwinderpal Singh of Gopal Nagar, Jalandhar, and Vikas Sangar of Mohalla Karar Khan, under Sections 420, 465, 467 and 468, IPC, for fraud, forgery and faking valuable security.

This was disclosed here today by Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh. They were remanded in police custody.

Giving details of the case, Sub-Inspector Gurwinder Singh, SHO, Sultanpur Lodhi police station, said that Mr Gurjant Singh, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Sultanpur Lodhi, had written to him about a complaint by Bahadur Singh of the Amarjitpur locality against Rajesh Kumar Joshi under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act.

Summons were sent to Joshi of Ali Mohalla. He appeared in the court on October 30 last year. Harwinderpal Singh furnished his bail bond of Rs 50,000. The bail document was attested by Lambardar Vikas Sangar.

However, later Joshi abstained from the court. The honourable judge sent the “jamabandi” for verification to the Tehsildar of Jalandhar-II. The Tehsildar informed the judge that the “jamabandi” documents were fake. Even the signatures of the patwari concerned were forged by them, he said.

Consequently, a case was registered and all the three were arrested, the SHO added.


60-yr-old woman stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 3
Unidentified persons stabbed a 60-year-old woman to death here last night. Sources said the deceased, Surekha Malhotra, was alone at her house when the incident took place.

The murder came to light when her son, Subhash Kumar, returned home late in the night. Sources said there were injury marks on the left side of her chest that suggested use of sharpedged weapons in her murder.


Minor boy sodomised
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 3
A four-and-half-year-old boy was allegedly sodomised at Thatha village under Bhikhiwind police station last evening by Harchand Singh (19) a youth of the same village .

A case under Section 377, IPC, has been registered against the accused .

Police sources said here today that the case had been registered on the complaint of the father of the victim boy.

The boy has been admitted to the hospital in critical condition.


Robbers strike at factory
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
More than eight armed robbers struck at a factory in the Industrial Area Extension-A last night locked two employees on night duty and decamped with over Rs 4 lakh worth nickel plates.

Mr Padam Kumar, owner of the Appu International Factory, claimed that the dacoits were armed with pistols and knives and struck at his factory but the Division No 6 police had registered a case of theft in this regard.


6 held for immoral trafficking
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
Six persons, including four women, were arrested by the police here for allegedly being involved in immoral trafficking.

The police has registered a case under the prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (Prevention ), 1956 at the Kotwali police station.

It was run by Jeeti, at her residence in the Mathura colony area of the city. The raid was made under the supervision of Mr B.S. Sidhu, DSP (City-1) and Mr Jassa Singh, Inspector CIA staff.


Colourful start to Spectrum — 2005
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 3
The four-day long sports and cultural extravaganza — Spectrum-2005 — organised by the local Government Medical College got of to a vibrant start at the college auditorium here yesterday.

The event, which will run till April 4, is being organised to mark the 50th foundation day celebrations of the college.

The meet, which has attracted participants of 25 medical and dental colleges from all over the country, was formally inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The meet, which has been revived after a gap of 13 years, got a tremendous response from the medical students who packed the auditorium in large numbers.

In his inaugural speech, the CM said that his government would provide funds to improve the facilities in the auditorium, including the upgradation of the acoustic system. Students of the college presented traditional 
Punjabi items which 
was lapped up by the 
audience. The principal, Dr Kiranjit Kaur, and the chief co-ordinator of the show, Dr Angel Rajan Singh, also spoke on the occasion.


Examinations postponed

Bathinda, April 3
On a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), teachers of private-aided and unaided colleges of this district on Saturday boycotted university examinations.

Prof N.K. Gosain, district president, PCCTU, said due to boycott by teachers Punjabi University, Patiala, had to postpone all its papers.

He said the teachers were demanding, among other demands, the merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance in the basic pay. — OC


School organises cross-country race
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
Saffron City School Kotla Bajwara here organised Cross-Country Race for class I to X. Classification for the race was done as per age, the junior section run from 1.5 km to 2.5 km, where as senior section ran upto 3 km. Other school children and hundreds of viewers lined up on both sides of the road.

Abishek Tripathi among boys, Simranjot Kaur among girls in Ist and 2nd class stood first, in 3rd and 4th class Sandeep Singh and Aeshdeep Kaur stood first, in 5th and 6th class Taranpal Singh and Sukhneet Kaur stood first, in 7th and 8th class Piyush and Sumandeep Kaur stood first, in 9th and 10th class Avinder Singh and Amanpreet Kaur in boys and girls section remained first.

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