P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Proceedings in EPF scam get murkier
Ropar police withdraws case against guilty
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur April 6
The proceedings in the Employee Provident Fund scam in the thermal plants of the Punjab State Electricity Board are getting murkier. While at Bathinda a challan has been presented in the court against the guilty contractor, Mr R.S. Sodhi, the Ropar police has withdrawn the case against about 20 officers and the same contractor held guilty by the ADGP (crime) in the EPF scam.

Adding another dimension to the proceedings, the DGP, PSEB, vigilance, Mr Lalit Bhatia, has once against written to the Chairman of the board to book the officials guilty for the scam and impose a major penalty against them. Mr Bhatia wrote the letter in the case after the Employee Provident Fund authorities imposed a penalty of about Rs 74 lakh besides the principal amount of more than Rs 1 crore on the PSEB for delay in depositing provident fund of about 2,000 contract labourers that were working in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) for period from 1991 to 1994.

Mr Bhatia has written that the board had to suffer financially due to dereliction of duty on the part of the officials of thermal plants. The EPF scam was not possible without the active connivance of the thermal plant officials so a case should be registered against them.

The genesis of the EPF scam in Ropar and Lehra thermal plants of the PSEB lay in the contract labour system that was earlier adopted in their coal handling plants. About 2,000 contract labourers were working mainly under M/s Sodhi contractors and M/s Calcutta construction company at the Ropar thermal plant. M/s Sodhi contractors were also working at the Lehra thermal plant.

The said contractors allegedly did not deposit provident fund of the employees for period from 1997 to 1999 at Ropar. An approximate amount of about Rs 1 crore was swindled. After the scam was detected M/s Sodhi contractors deposited the swindled amount of Rs 50 lakh with the EPF authorities while M/s Calcutta construction company declined to deposit the amount. A case was registered against the proprietor of M/s Calcutta construction company, Mr Deepak Chadha, while action was taken against the proprietor of M/s Sodhi Contractors who rose to become a major contractor in thermal plants.

A similar EPF scam was allegedly committed at the Lehra thermal plant by M/s Sodhi contractors. After Mr Lalit Bhatia took over as the vigilance chief in the PSEB, he wrote to the SSPs of Bathinda and Ropar to register a case against the contractors and officers held guilty for the EPF scam.

The then SSP Bathinda, Mr Ishwar Singh, got the fake challan presented in various banks by M/s Sodhi contractors forensically examined and booked him under Sections 468, 471 and 420 of the IPC. In that case the challan has been presented against the accused in the court of law.

The inquiry in the EPF scam at Ropar was handed over to the crime branch at the request of Mr Bhatia. After inquiry the ADGP (crime) ordered the registration of a criminal case against about 20 officers of the Ropar thermal plant and the accused contractor.

However, after the current SSP, Ropar, Mr S.P. Singh, took over, he decided against putting up the challan in the case. Due to the failure of the police to present a challan in the case the court has sent back the case to the police putting the entire investigation in the case back to square one.


Govt teachers up in arms
Move to hand over schools to private bodies
Amarjit Thind & Mahesh Sharma

Ludhiana/Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 6
Even as the state government has invited representatives of over 500 private aided school managements to explore the possibility of handing over the running of government schools to private institutions in Punjab tomorrow, government teacher unions have termed the move as an attempt to keep education out of the reach of poor students.

Lakhs of students study in 3,121 senior secondary schools and 15,336 elementary schools in the state, where the standard of teaching is “below average.” The condition of schools in far-flung, border and bet areas is dismal with lack of teachers, infrastructure and crumbling buildings.

With a view to eliciting views of private school owners, which is being seen as a prelude to handing over the running of government schools to private institutions the Education Ministry last evening faxed an invitation of Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar inviting presidents and managers of private aided school managements in the state to reach the Punjab School Education Board in Phase 8, Mohali, tomorrow at 11 a.m.

The issue of handing over the running of senior secondary schools in urban areas on a trial basis would also be discussed at length at the meeting.

Although the issue has surfaced in the past, this is the first time that the department has gone ahead and called the managements for an interaction soliciting their ideas and suggestions. Department officials will discuss the possibilities of handing over the management of government schools on certain terms and conditions.

Referring to the desire of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in revamping the education set-up, Mr Johar stated that the government would seek help from management committees on the issue of improving the standard of teaching in all government schools.

The meeting will also discuss the changes to be made in case the government decides to hand over the government schools to private managements.

The ministry has observed that the management committees were well-versed in successfully running the schools and the same could be extended to the government schools with good results.

Sources in the education department revealed that all education officers at the district and circle levels had also been asked to attend the meeting.

Various teacher unions and political parties are up in arms over the “blatant attempt to commercialise education making it impossible for the poor to educate their wards.”

Mr Nachhatar Singh Jahangir and Mr Balbir Singh Dhaler, presidents of the state and block level units of the Adhayapak Dal, respectively, accused the Education Minister of acting at the behest of education mafia in the state which is bent on closing down the government schools.

“If the government is concerned about the future of the students, it should fill 30,000 vacant posts of teacher in the government schools instead of auctioning them to the profit-oriented private school managements,” the duo alleged.

Mr Gurmel Singh Chandhar and Mr Ram Singh Dehliz, state leaders of SC/BC Teachers Union, termed the move as an attack on the right of Dalits to get their children educated. They apprehended that fee structure in the schools managed by the private persons would be changed according to their whims and fancies rendering education out of reach of the poor.

Mr Sikander Singh Jartoli, office-bearer of the state body of the Government Teachers Union, called upon the leaders of all employee unions to join hands to thwart the anti-people design of the government to privatise school education in the state.


Kanwaljit for selective privatisation
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The theory of privatisation propounded by the Congress government will not be the panacea for all economic ills of Punjab, says the State’s former Finance Minister and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Talking to The Tribune here, Capt Kanwaljit Singh says that in a country like India, where half the population exists outside market forces, the market economy cannot be advocated.

“Privatisation for the sake of privatisation will not work for the welfare of the common citizen,” he says, ridiculing the claim of the government that no final decision has been taken with regard to the involvement of the private sector in the delivery of education, healthcare and basic civic amenities.

“The Budget speech is basically the policy statement of the government,” holds the Captain who supports privatisation on a selective basis which fits into the overall context of the welfare of society at large. “It can be attempted as we had done in the case of the setting up of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board to attract private investment to the infrastructure development in the state,” he adds.

Coming to the fiscal health of Punjab, the SAD general secretary holds that the economy of the state has been stagnant as the state finances are under extreme stress. “What is required is a strategy that can take Punjab out of this mess. Unfortunately, it is this specific point which is missing from the Budget.

“If the government accepts the fact that education in government schools is not up to the mark, then it should, keeping in view its social, constitutional and moral obligations, come out with a specific plan to rectify and improve matters. Palming off its responsibility by suggesting the handing over of the delivery of education to the private sector will not be acceptable. There is no country in the world where school education is completely private.

“Intriguingly, if government schools in Chandigarh and institutes like the PGI can work wonders and produce results by remaining a part of the government, why not in the case of Punjab ? What is required is developing a proper policy on the delivery system of public services and their subsequent efficient and effective implementation,” he says.

Coming to agriculture, he says, this sector, which contributes 45 per cent of the GDP, has been in a serious economic crisis because of stagnation in its growth and the declining income of farmers.

For the past two decades, he says, the governments at the Centre have not come out with an agriculture policy to attract fresh investment to the sector. Similarly, very little has been done to generate employment in the state.

The government has awarded Lehra Mohabbat II to BHEL and not even a single youth from Punjab has been employed there. Little has been done in the sphere of human resource development.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh says that Punjab’s economic growth has been among the lowest in the country. being landlocked and the economy nearly stagnant, its industrial development inherent with problems.

“We have to develop industry with a strong agro-base that the state provides. Value addition to agro-processing will give a fillip to agro-economy. We should not go for the Western model of privatisation as our economy is broadly based on the strong human resources we have. We have to develop our own genius,” he adds.

Referring to the “tax-free” Budget, Capt Kanwaljit Singh says the common man in Punjab has been reeling under new hidden taxes worth Rs 550 crore. Direct taxation has reached saturation point in the state. To improve the fiscal health, it is making effective and efficient the tax collection machinery. There is scope for raising an additional Rs 1,000 crore from the existing taxation system, he adds.


Dream of greener pastures makes him poorer
by Rs 15 lakh

Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 6
A case of duping residents in the name of sending them abroad by husband-wife duo has been reported at the Mahilpur police station by Manjit Singh Indira Colony, Jalandhar. The police has registered a case under Section 420, IPC, against Raj Kumar, alias Malhi, and his wife Rajniwala.

In his complaint Manjit Singh said he was a building contractor and came into the contact of Raj Kumar in December, 2003, who lured him for sending him to Canada and demanded Rs 15 lakh for this. After arranging money from his relatives and friends, he gave Rs 9 lakh along with his passport to Raj Kumar at Paldi village and promised them to pay the balance amount at the earliest.

On April 4, 2004 both husband and wife went to Manjit Singh and told him that his documents would only be completed within 15 days after receiving the remaining amount. He somehow arranged Rs 4.50 lakh and gave the same to them on April 11 and told them that he would now pay Rs. 1.50 lakh at the time of his flight for Canada.

On August 14, 2004, Raj Kumar informed Manjit Singh on telephone that his flight for Canada was scheduled for August 23, 2004, from Delhi. On August 22 both husband and wife went to the house of Manjit Singh and demanded the remaining amount for which the latter told that he would give Rs 1.50 lakh to them after receiving his visa, passport and air ticket. On this they took him to Delhi and stayed in a hotel in the Paharganj area.

Next day they took Rs 1.50 lakh from him on this assurance that they would bring his passport, visa and air ticket after some hours and left the hotel. Manjit Singh waited them till August 25 in the hotel but they did not come back. He searched them everywhere but could not succeed.

On September 26, 2004, he came to know that both of them had come back to Paldi village. He along with his relatives rushed to the village and insisted them to return his money. After persuasion they made a written agreement about the return of his money and after some days gave him a cheque of Bank of Punjab for the amount. However, the cheque bounced.


Economic census runs into trouble
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, April 6
The ongoing Economic Census survey being conducted by the State Economic and Statistical Adviser, Department of Planning, Punjab, has run into rough weather with the District Education Department declining to send its staff to the field to collect data.

The Department of Planning had enlisted the services of the staff of the Education Department. More than 1,300 employees, a majority of them secondary and elementary teachers, were supposed to fan out in villages to collect the data.

The teachers were given a 15-day crash course for conducting the survey, which is being held in Punjab after six years.

Various teachers’ unions of the district had opposed the decision of the Planning Department to enlist the services of teachers for the survey. The unions had shot off an angry missive to the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, expressing resentment.

They had pleaded that since it was the start of the new academic session, they were required more in the classrooms than anywhere else.

Reacting to the development, the DPI (Schools), Punjab, wrote to District Education Officers (DEOs) throughout the state, asking them not to send any teacher to conduct the survey. The DEO, Mrs Pritpal Kaur Sidhu, issued verbal orders asking teachers not to report for duty for this purpose.

Interestingly, when the Planning Department had asked teachers to report at the office of the Deputy Statistical Officer (DSO) at Patiala, a majority of them got their duties cancelled. Sources said every second teacher in the district managed to approach the DSO here through various district-level political functionaries to get their duties cancelled.

The census, which commenced on April 1, was to be completed by May 31. Now nobody knows when it will be completed and the relevant date sent to the Government of India which is to print reports on the basis of the data collected by the first week of July.


Revision petition of kidney scam accused dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 6
In a major setback to Dr P.K. Sareen, main accused in the Amritsar kidney transplant scam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed the revision petition filed by him. Dr Sareen had sought quashing of the order of an Amritsar court to frame charges against him in a case relating to murder and violation of various sections of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.

The Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADJ), Amritsar, last year ordered framing of charges in the FIR registered by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to investigate the scam. The FIR charged Dr Sareen with being responsible for the death of one Sudesh Kumar and also flouting the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.

Sudesh had allegedly died under mysterious circumstances after donating his kidney to a Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) resident, Mulkh Raj Goyal. The transplant was done at Dr Sareen's hospital. He was also allegedly instrumental in hush-hush cremation of the deceased.

In his petition, Dr Sareen had challenged the order of the ADJ on the grounds that there was no evidence to prove his involvement in the case. He had also asserted that since one FIR already stood registered against him, the second FIR was impermissible.

He also maintained that the Transplantation of Human Organs Act was clear that no court can take cognizance of any offence unless by way of a complaint by an authorised officer of the government or an appropriate authority.

However, advocate Arun Palli countered the stand of Dr Sareen and asserted that the court was within its right in taking cognisance of prima facie case against him.

Mr Palli stated that there was strong presumptive opinion that Dr Sareen was actually involved in the crime. This was also supported by the statement made to the police by the kidney recipient's son as well as the driver of the van in which the deceased was taken for cremation.

He also pointed out that the Transplantation of Human Organs Act clearly states that before any organ transplant, the nod of the State Government-appointed authorisation committee is a must. However, in this particular case, Dr Sareen allegedly misrepresented facts while seeking permission for the transplant. While deceased Sudesh was shown as a domestic help of the recipient living in Mathura, this was not the case. The authorisation committee was told that Sudesh was an orphan, but the SIT found that he had a brother, sister and mother.

As for the second FIR, Mr Palli told the court that the first FIR was general while the second FIR was more specific and was the result of new facts coming to light.

In his order, Mr Justice Pritam Pal dismissed the revision, holding that there was nothing wrong in the order of the ADJ.


Pranab to address Punjab Cong men
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
Will former MP and member of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) Jagmeet Singh Brar be invited to the April 14 meeting of senior Congressmen of Punjab?

“We are not issuing any individual invitations for this meeting,” says the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, holding that anyone who was covered by the general invite extended through the media could come and attend it.

The Union Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who looks after Punjab affairs in the AICC, will address the meeting at Punjab Congress Bhavan here. Mr Hanspal and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will also address the meeting to be attended by the party’s past and present MPs, MLAs, state Ministers, the heads of front organisations and cells and the presidents of District Congress Committees.

Mr Mukherjee, sources said, agreed to spare a couple of hours for a meeting with senior party leaders of the state as he had been invited to deliver a lecture at Panjab University on that day.

The visit of Mr Mukherjee may see several senior party functionaries, especially those critical of Mr Brar, dropping out of the group visiting Pakistan for the Baisakhi celebrations there. The Congress group is scheduled to leave on April 11 and return on April 15 or 16.

“I am not going,” says Mr Hanspal, holding that the visit of Mr Mukherjee may not affect the Pakistan trip of PPCC men. “I do not know the exact programme. But I am told that under the Nanakshahi calendar, Baisakhi is to be celebrated on April 14 and not 13.

“We will have our rally at Damdama Sahib (Bathinda) on April 13,” adds Mr Hanspal, who returned to the Union Capital late in the evening after participating in the Dandi march in Gujarat. “I did not see Jagmeet Brar there,” he quipped.

The PPCC leadership has been gunning for Mr Brar, accusing him of anti-party activity. It wants that Mr Brar, who lost the Lok Sabha elections from Ferozepore, should be expelled from the party for six years.

The PPCC had sent a letter signed by 62 Congress MLAs to Mr Mukherjee to which Mr Brar objected, saying that half of the signatures were forged. Instead of talking to each signatory to the letter in Delhi individually, Mr Mukherjee reportedly decided to visit Chandigarh and address the state leadership. He has not visited the state ever since he was made in charge of Punjab affairs in the AICC.

Although the PPCC did not include him in its official group that took part in the Dandi march in Gujarat today, Mr Brar, accompanied by three of his staunch supporters, went there to participate in the event as a member of the AICC.


Commission agents withdraw strike
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 6
The three-day-old strike of vegetable and fruit commission agents, shopkeepers and rehriwalas of Sirhind ended today with the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner.

They had gone on strike and closed their shops in protest against the decision of Sirhind Market Committee to give the collection of market fees to a private contractor.

The residents of the town had been facing acute shortage of vegetables and fruits as the Subzi Mandi and all shops remained closed since the last three days. The people had to purchase vegetables from adjoining towns.

Rehriwalas and vegetable sellers had been organising protest dharnas in front of the Market Committee office.

Mr Ramesh Gupta, District Mandi Officer, said the collection of market fees of the Market Committee had been Rs 36 Lakh inspite of best efforts and certain commission agents had been indulging in the evasion of market fees, so they decided to give the task of collection of market fees to a private contractor for Rs 50.20 lakh, making an increase of Rs 14 lakh.

He said the commission agents had been apprehending harassment from the private contractor but he had assured them that no one would harass them unnecessarily.

He said there was no problem of rehriwalas and whatever the misunderstanding they had with contractor was amicably solved.

He said the auction of vegetables was going on smoothly.

On the other hand, the commission agents and rehriwalas alleged that the employees of private contractor had started harassing them unnecessarily and had been searching all vehicles and rehris and checking their books and interfering in their business. The contractor was demanding Rs 10 per rehri as parking fee, so they had gone on strike.

They said there was a complete bandh in the town and people were facing problem to get fresh vegetables.

Today a meeting of the contractor, representatives of commission agents, rehriwalas and Market Committee officials was called by the Deputy Commissioner and all the apprehensions of the commission agents were cleared and the contractor was warned not to harass them unnecessarily.

They were also told not to evade market fees. After the meeting the strike was withdrawn and the shops would open from tomorrow as usual.


Course on traffic education
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 6
While inaugurating a capsule course on traffic education for drivers and helpers in the unorganised sector, Mr S.K. Sharma, Inspector-General Police, Jalandhar, expressed concern over the increase in road accidents. He was addressing two-day course being organised jointly by the Society for Accident Aid and Traffic Help (SAATH) and Traffic Wing of the Punjab Police at the Police Recruit Training Centre at Jahan Khelan, 8 km from here, today.

He said Punjab had no road safety council on account of which there was lack of coordination among seven major government departments directly involved in the road safety. Besides there was no provision for emergency medical services in the state. Only police or some NGOs provide this service.

Mr Sharma said he had requested Capt Amrinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, to constitute the council for regularising vehicular traffic and to find out ways for reducing the road accidents. He said the Police Traffic Institute, Phillaur, was studying to ascertain real causes of the increase in road accidents in the state.

Mr Sharma said various insurance companies had to bear an annual loss of Rs 1,300 crore for providing compensation to the kin of the deceased of road accidents and for the damages of vehicles in Punjab.

Mr S.S. Chauhan, Director, Police Traffic Institute, Phillaur, Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, Hoshiarpur, and Mr R.S. Khatra, Commandant, PRTC, Jahan Khelan, also addressed the gathering.


Tenant alleges harassment
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, April 6
Mr Pardeep Singh, a tea vendor and resident of Kucha Nihal Singh, Chowk Krori, in the walled city is forced to live in a park near his residence as his house has allegedly been forcibly occupied by some persons at the behest of the ruling party MLA, Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar.

Mr Pardeep Singh alleged this in a letter to the Chairman, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC). He also sent copies to the DGP, the DIG and other police officials, besides Jathedar Akal Takht and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and president of the SAD.

However, Mr Thekedar strongly refuted the allegations and said that his name was unnecessarily being dragged into the controversy to take political mileage. He said that he had no time for such minor quarrels between a house owner and a tenant.

He alleged that on April 4 the police kept him in illegal custody and harassed him mentally and physically. He said that the policemen pulled his hair and removed his turban.

He said that he was residing as a tenant in the house of one Sheetal Kaur, who is an ASI in Majitha police district. On April 3, he along with his family had gone to a marriage. However, on return, he saw the lock of the house broken. He alleged that the owner of the house at the behest of the ruling party MLA, and his personal assistant and two other persons, Paloo and Biloo put another lock on the door of the house.

He said that he approached senior police officials but in vain.

He urged the PSHRC and senior police officials to take action against the accused.

Meanwhile, Mr Kanwalnain Singh, councillor of the area, alleged that Mr Pardeep Singh was being pressured by the police to compromise and vacate the house.

Mr P.K. Rai, SP, city, said the matter had come to his notice and had also called both the parties. He said ‘influential persons’ were trying to bring about a compromise in the case.


Sikh body for resolution on turban issue
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president, Sikh Nation Organisation, today urged Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, to move a resolution in the current session of the Punjab Assembly to express concern of the people of Punjab over Human Rights violations in France.

In a communication to the Chief Minister, Dr Randhawa said the coercion, by the Government of France over the turban issue amounted to unreasonable restrictions on their right to personal liberty.

Talking to TNS, Dr Randhawa said the Sikh masses had pinned hope on the present state assembly with regard to turban issue. The move of the France Government violates the spirit of its Constitution as well as various UN declarations on human rights.

Dr Randhawa informed the CM that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, had already acknowledged that a petition against human right’s violations by France had been admitted.


8 ‘birs’ destroyed in fire
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Eight “birs” were burnt in a fire triggered allegedly due to a short-circuit in Gurdwara Charankanwal Sri Guru Singh Sabha in the Basti Sheikh locality in wee hours today.

Three “palki sahibs” were also damaged. Sikh sangat of the area made a beeline for the gurdwara after the news of fire spread.

Later, the Sikh sangat, led by panj piaras, left with remains of the “birs” for Gurdwara Baoli Sahib at Goindwal Sahib. The “birs” would be immersed in water in accordance with Sikh rituals there.

The incident came to light when Gurdip Singh, Head Granthi of the Gurdwara, went to the place where “sukhasan” of the birs” was done at around 3.30 am today for doing his prayers.

When he saw smoke billowing out from the room, he informed the gurdwara president Surinder Singh Kochhar. Mr Kochhar said the incident occurred due to short-circuit.


No local bus service in town
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
Have you ever come across a city with a number of bus stops on main road, but no local bus service? Bathinda has achieved this rare distinction in Punjab.

These bus stops dotting the city’s roads are now functioning as mere advertising points of various mobile companies. According to sources, nothing has been spent on these bus stops from the state exchequer and the private firms interested in putting on their advertisements have built them.

Sources said the district administration had identified seven routes for erecting these bus stops. A panel comprising officials like the SP (H), and executive officer of the MC was formed to mark the points for bus stops. The panel identified 28 such points on various routes including Mall Road, Bibiwala road, Bathinda-Goniana road, and Bathinda-Mansa road. Each bus stop has about eight seats for commuters. These bus stops are now either serving as resting points for rickshaw-pullers and taxi drivers or “shops” for ice-cream vendors to sell their products. A letter has also been sent to the State Transport Commissioner for launching a local bus service in the city.

Sources said as the state government didn’t have adequate funds for the bus service, the transport department would invite tenders for private participation in the service. It might take a few months or even a year before the local bus service starts and till then the private firms may find it difficult to maintain these bus stops.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, said the administration had already sent a proposal for the local bus service to the State Transport Department and was awaiting a go ahead from it. He said there was nothing wrong in getting these bus stops constructed prior to the start of bus service, as not even a single penny had been spent from the state exchequer on them.


Rally to mark Dandi march
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 6
Hundreds of school children, freedom fighters and prominent citizens today participated in a rally to mark the 75th anniversary of Dandi march. It started from the historic Jallianwala Bagh and concluded at the statue of the Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi, in Ram Bagh here.

Prominent freedom fighters, including Bapu Shingara Singh, Charan Das, Jugal Kishore Topi Wala and Chaman Lal Paehalwan, were honoured with a shawl on the occasion at a special function at Government School on the Mall Road.

Earlier, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Chairman, Amritsar Improvement Trust, flagged off the rally which passed through various bazaars, including Town Hall, Hall Bazar, Bhandari Bridge, Crystal Chowk and Lawrence Road of the city.

The programme was organised by the Geet and Natak Division of the Department of Information and Broadcasting, Chandigarh, with the assistance of the local administration.

The valedictory function was held in Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Mall Road, where cultural troupes of the song and drama division presented a composite programme on national integration and cultural glimpses of all states.


Physically challenged calls off fast
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 6
The physically-challenged Mr Vipin Kumar Vinayak today called off his relay fast on the third day on the intervention of local SDM Pritam Singh.

It was learnt this afternoon that the SDM served him a glass of juice and assured him that the needful would be done about the issues highlighted by him.

It was also learnt that a meeting with certain railway officials, slated to be held today regarding these issues, was postponed till tomorrow.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Vinayak, who is in his sixties, is crippled below the waist and is confined to a wheelchair.

He started a five-day relay fast three days ago to demand a pathway at the railway overbridge site on the local Satnampura railway crossing, pending completion of the overbridge.


Health Secretary visits jaundice-affected areas
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 6
The Principal Health Secretary, Mr D.S. Guru, rushed to the city to visit the areas affected by jaundice even as two more cases of the disease were officially reported from the walled city.

Mr Guru held a meeting at the circuit house which was attended by the Civil Surgeon Dr S.K. Goel and the District Health Officer Dr V.S. Mohi. Members of the rapid response team, comprising of Dr Sampuran Singh, Dr Tarsem Malhi and Dr R.S. Dhaliwal, also attended the meeting. The team was constituted by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh yesterday to handle the situation.

A control room has also been set up in the office of the civil surgeon who disclosed that ample quantity of chlorine tablets had been distributed in the affected areas.

Mr Guru directed the civil surgeon to station medical teams in Jattan- Wala- Chauntra from where two cases of jaundice were reported today.


‘Kavi darbar’ in memory of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Poems depicting valour of legendary Sikh General Jassa Singh Ramgarhia were recited at a “kavi darbar” organised at Gurdwara Ramgarhia here on Sunday by Ramgarhia Virasat.

According to Mr K.S. Bahra, Chief Engineer (R), Punjab State Electricity Board and spokesman for the organisation, a calendar published by Ramgarhia Virasat was also released on the occasion.

Olympian shot putter Bahadur Singh Saggu, Dr Shangara Singh, Mr S.S. Ajimal, Mr H.S. Sagar and Dr Balwinder Singh were honoured on the occasion.


Man sentenced to death for killing wife
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 6
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Sukhdev Singh, today sentenced a man to death for murdering his wife.

Sources said a case of murder was registered against Vikramjit Singh, alias Vicky, a resident of Ghalkalan village, following the statement of Amarjit Kaur, the victim’s mother, on July 7, 2002. In her complaint, she had stated that her daughter, Meena, got married to Vicky on March 3, 2002. She said on July 3, 2002, her son, Deepak Kumar, had brought Meena to their home in Baghapurana.

On the same evening Vicky came to take her back. After a couple of hours they received a call from a chemist hailing from Ghal Kalan saying that their daughter had met with an accident. When they reached there they spotted her body stained with blood and Vicky was missing. Later, investigations revealed that Vicky had killed her with some sharp-edged weapon.

The complainant alleged that her daughter had come to know of Vicky’s illicit relations with another woman, after which he had decided to kill her. Vicky was facing trial for the past couple of years and the court after finding him guilty sentenced him to death today.


Women allege thrashing by cops
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 6
Ms Sarabjit Kaur and Ms Jagdish Kaur, both sisters-in-law, have alleged that they were roughed up by three cops yesterday at Nangal Khera village near here. They were hospitalised here after their alleged thrashing.

The young women today told newsmen that they had a dispute with their neighbour regarding a passage in the street and a meeting was scheduled to be held in the evening yesterday for settling the dispute. Meanwhile, three cops barged into their house when their husbands were away, the women alleged. Initially, they started beating up Sarabjit. When she raised an alarm, her sister-in-law Jagdish came rushing to her. She was also beaten up by the cops and their clothes were torn, they further alleged.

However, SHO sadar police station Phagwara Lehmbher Singh denied these allegations. He said the family had a dispute with their visually challenged neighbour. Even though the neighbour had won the case twice, the family of these two women was not giving him the passage, he informed. The visually challenged person was rather being harassed by these two women and their family members, said the SHO. The police just removed some bricks to make way for the neighbour and did not even enter their house what to talk of thrashing them, added the SHO.


3 arrested for defrauding bank
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 6
The police has arrested Amar Singh, his son Gurmeet Singh, and Gurmail Singh, manager of Punjab and Sind Bank, Qadian, for defrauding the bank.

Talking to the media persons here today, Batala district police chief Jatindra Kumar Jain said that Amar Singh, in connivance with Gurmail Singh, tried to get a loan from the bank.

Gurmail Singh had assured Amar Singh that he would get the loan sanctioned for him, for which Amar Singh was advised to furnish fake bills. Gurmail Singh got the loan sanctioned but did not pass the money to Amar Singh.

Meanwhile, in order to make a false claim from Bajaj Allianz Insurance Co., Amar Singh lodged a complaint with the police that a theft had been committed at his factory. When a police party, headed by SHO Sanjeev Kumar, reached the spot, it suspected foul play.


Loan on fake documents: four arrested
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 6
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested two Naib Tehsildars and two bankers for disbursing loans to a couple of farmers on the basis of fake documents.

Sources said Sardul Singh and Harbans Singh of Ghumiara village had applied for a loan of Rs 3 lakh each for farm work at the State Bank of Patiala branch in Killianwali by producing fake documents. Sardul got Rs 2 lakh as the first instalment of the loan, while Harbans received Rs 2.25 lakh. Both the farmers were booked for fraud on September 10, 2004, at Lambi police station.

The Vigilance DSP, Mr Raminder Singh, said the then Naib Tehsildar Baljinder Singh, who is now posted at Fazilka, had given no-dues certificate to both the farmers and later the Tehsildar of Lambi, Jagmail Singh (now in Hoshiarpur), verified their documents. Later, the field officer of the bank, Ravinder Mittar, and its legal adviser, Om Prakash, termed the documents genuine and sanctioned their loans.

All the four accused have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC and Sections 13/2/88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Burglars decamp with gurdwara ‘golak’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 6
Burglars decamped with offerings worth Rs 6,000 at Gurdwara Chaunta Sahib at Babeli village, 15 km from here, last night.

The burglars entered inside after removing the grills of a window. They broke open the lock of the “golak” and decamped with the money.


5 killed in road mishap

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), April 6
Five persons, including a child, were killed and four others were injured when a Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck near here today. 

According to sources, Rajesh, a Central Government employee posted at Chandigarh, was on his way along with his family to attend a relative’s funeral in Abohar.

Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck coming from opposite direction while it was overtaking another vehicle near the Gill police post. Three women and a child were among deceased. The injured have been admitted to Civil Hospital. — TNS


Trader robbed of Rs 2 lakh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
A trader dealing in pesticides was robbed of Rs 2 lakh in broad daylight here today. The victim, Manish Garg, was about to leave for bank to deposit the amount when the culprit approached him in front of his Arya Samaj Chowk residence.

He forced Manish to clean his scooter’s rear part and in the meantime fled with the cash kept in its dickey. A case has been registered against the unidentified accused at Kotwali police station.


Patwaris held
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 6
Sleuths of the Vigilance Bureau have arrested two revenue patwaris, Roop Singh and Mohinder Pal, while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 from Niranjan Singh, son of Banta Singh, a resident of Mudki.


Man killed by slitting throat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 6
Parmjit Singh, (35), a resident of Nangal Khurd village, was allegedly killed at Bhondian village, near Bhogpur, last night.

The examination of the body of Parmjit has revealed that his throat was slit by some unidentified assailants. Other parts of his body also bore injury marks. 


Woman immolates self
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 6
A 50-year-old woman killed herself by setting herself on fire on the terrace of her neighbourer here yesterday.

Joginder Kaur, a resident of Mohalla Sikka in Sultanpur Lodhi, succumbed to the burns before anyone could come to her help. A plastic container, supposedly containing kerosene, was also found on the rooftop of the neighbourer, who is also her brother-in-law.


3 arrested in murder case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
The police has arrested three persons, including the main accused, in the murder case of Jaswinder Singh, a taxi driver, whose body was found in a minor, near Goniana, on April 4. Those arrested have been identified as Gurmit Singh, alias Vicky, Rajinder and Manjit Singh.


ITI students protest against fee hike
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 6
Protesting against the privatisation of the ITIs and fee hike, students went on a strike under the banner of the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) here today.

Instructors and technical staff of the institute also participated in the protest rally. Addressing the rally, student leader Sukhwinder Singh said by implementing an unnecessary hike in the fee and privatising the ITIs the state government was taking away the right of education from the students of poor and middle class sections of society.

He said ITI students, instructors, and common people, would kick off a joint protest the government’s “anti-people” decision. The president of Instructor Union, Mr Gursharan Singh, and the Lok Morcha leader, Mr Swaran Singh, said their unions would extend full support to the students’ protest as the privatisation would not only affect them but also the instructors who might be thrown out of jobs.

Meanwhile, students of the DAV College wore black badges while appearing for examinations to protest against the state government’s decision to cut grants to aided colleges by 95 per cent.


ITI students block traffic against fee hike
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, April 6
Students of Industrial Training Institute (ITI) protested against the proposed fee hike in various ITIs of the state here today.

The protesters also flayed the Punjab Government’s move to privatise technical institutes from the next academic session. Students associated with different student organisations held a protest march and staged a dharna at the ITI chowk for over two hours.

The protesters also blocked traffic.

They also raised anti-government slogans. The students rued that the government’s move to privatise ITIs would not only affect poor and needy students but also commercialise technical education.

Various student leaders, including state president of the Students Federation of India Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, addressed the protesters at the chowk.

The student organisations have threatened to intensify the agitation if the government failed to withdraw the fee hike by four times and review its decision to privatise technical institutions soon.

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 |