P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD to prepare charge sheet against Captain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal today decided to prepare a charge sheet against the Punjab Government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh.

A seven-member committee consisting of Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Tota Singh and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, had been constituted to prepare the charge sheet by May 15.

The decision about the charge sheet was taken at a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee and party MLAs here today.

The SAD has also decided to organise dharnas at the district headquarters from May 20 against what it described anti-people policies pursued by the state government. Dharnas will be held at Ludhiana on May 20, at Sangrur on May 25, at Ferozepore on May 30, at Bathinda on June 10, at Mansa on June 15, at Amritsar on June 20, at Moga on July 1, at Jalandhar on July 20 and at Hoshiarpur on July 25.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that Capt Amarinder Singh had levied taxes worth Rs 1000 crore by implementing VAT in the state. He said his party was against the implementation of VAT in its present form.

The government had found an indirect method to impose heavy taxes on the agriculture sector, he added. All sort of agriculture machinery, and inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides etc had been taxed while other states such as Haryana, MP had exempted the agriculture sector from such a tax. He said that because of this reason, the SAD would oppose the VAT and stand by traders, businessmen, industrialists and others who have raised their voice against this tax.

He said: “My party is also strongly opposed to the privatisation of government schools and levying of services charges etc on health services.”

The present state government had not given a single job. Unemployment was on the rise. The crime graph was going up. Political interference in religious affairs such as the SGPC had become the most favourite job of the state government.


Experts’ panel divided on heritage issue
Sends report back to SGPC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
Sharply divided on the dossier issue, the five-member expert committee, set up by the SGPC to examine the contents of the dossier, which has been submitted to UNESCO to seek world heritage site status for Harmandar Sahib complex, today failed to reach a consensus whether the dossier should be withdrawn or resubmitted after making the necessary corrections.

The experts, who held a lengthy meeting here this afternoon, have sent the report in a sealed envelop to the SGPC authorities concerned expecting that it (SGPC) should decide what course should be adopted after going through the report. All five members, including Mr Pirthipal Singh Kapur, Dr Darshan Singh, Mr Sarabjinder Singh, Mr Niranjan Singh Dhesi and Mr Jasbir Singh Sabir, were present at the meeting.

Informed sources said three members — Mr Sarabjinder Singh, Mr Niranjan Singh Dhesi and Mr Jasbir Singh Sabir — were for rejecting the dossier in toto and for its immediate withdrawal. They according to sources, were of the opinion that big blunders had been committed while preparing the dossier and it should not be allowed to be part of the history of world heritage sites. All the three have got their viewpoint incorporated in the report.

However, Prof Prithipal Singh, a Sikh historian and former Pro-Vice Chancellor, in a dissenting note in the report, said “certainly there are deficiencies in the dossier and it can be corrected”. He however feels that any decision to take the dossier back from UNESCO should be taken at the top level of the SGPC.

In his note, according to sources, he has stated that “there can be different views on the dossier in different circles, but what is important is an international protection will be available to Hadmandar Sahib complex with its inclusion in the list of heritage sites”. He said the entire issue should be viewed and discussed from the constructive angle and the policy to condemn the dossier should not be adopted. No hurry should be made to withdraw the dossier from the proposed list of world heritage sites.

Sources said Dr Darhsan Singh, another eminent Sikh scholar adopting a different stance at the meeting expressed the view that there should be proper discussion on the dossier at various Sikh forums and a large section of Sikh community should be involved in this process. On the basis of that discussion, an appropriate decision should be taken. He said if the community, by and large, okayed the proposal, then the corrected version of the dossier should be prepared for necessary action.

Sources said a lot of politics was involved in the dossier issue. Big guns of the SGPC were directly or indirectly involved in this dossier politics. Certain senior leaders of the SGPC were trying to settle scores with their potential rivals in the SGPC.

Meanwhile, the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that his party would go by the advice of the expert committee. But he gave an assurance that SAD would ensure that no harm is done to the importance of the Harmandar Sahib complex in any manner because of the heritage status controversy.


Alcohol, AIDS claim more lives than tsunami each day: Ujjal Dosanjh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 8
Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Health Minister of British Columbia, today said the number of people who died of alcoholism, drug abuse, AIDS and female foeticide in one day in the world was more than the number of lives claimed by tsunami waves.

Mr Dosanjh, who was accompanied by his wife, Raminder, was addressing the gathering at a seminar on “alcoholism, drug abuse and female foeticide”, organised by the management of the local Guru Nanak Mission Hospital on the hospital premises.

He said all these maladies, most of which were preventable, had acquired the shape of an international problem. “As the demon of AIDS is gobbling up so many lives, we should not shy discussing sex with children freely so as they get aware about the menace. Discussion can bring about a lot of positive change,” said Mr Dosanjh. He said female foeticide had become a big problem in India, where the male-female sex ratio is 1000-850.

Punjab Health Minister Ramesh Dogra, Mr Balbir Singh Saini, secretary of the Guru Nanak Mission Hospital Trust, Mr Prem Singh Syal, vice-Chairman of the trust, Dr Jasbir Dosanjh and Dr Sarabjit Singh also spoke.


NRI lays stress on technical skills
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
Leading NRI businessman J.S. Sidhu today emphasised the need for providing technical and professional skills to Punjabis to make them competitive at the global level.

Mr Sidhu, Chairman, Sovereign Bancorp, Pennsylvania, USA, was delivering a special lecture on “Leadership and the role of higher education in developing leaders” on the Punjabi University campus.

While, welcoming the chief guest Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai highlighted various on-campus activities of the university towards the development of Punjabi language and technical education under the jurisdiction of the university. The Vice-Chancellor stated that very soon the university would establish “neighbourhood campuses” in Rampura Phul, Mansa and Ratwara Sahib. He disclosed that the university planned to start a new engineering college at Rampura Phul to cater to the otherwise educationally backward area of the Malwa region.

Mr J.S. Sidhu appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University in disseminating technical education in Punjab. While touching upon the qualities of a good leader, Mr Sidhu emphasised that honesty, integrity and humbleness were some of the virtues of a good leader.

Mr Sidhu shared his personal experiences as to how he developed a business empire with a right approach and hard work. Earlier, Mr Sidhu interacted with the senior faculty of the Department of Business Management to explore ways for a possible collaboration with the Sidhu School of Leadership at Wilkes University.

On this occasion, Dr Gurpreet Lehal , Director, Centre for Technical Education in Punjabi Language, demonstrated a computer software prepared by the department . The Vice-Chancellor also presented a set of university publications to Mr Sidhu and Dr Dhanwant Singh, of renowned eye surgeon who was a special invitee to this function. Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean Academic Affairs, proposed a vote of thanks. Dr Parambakhshish Singh, Registrar, Dr T.A. Sarma Dean Research, and Dr B.S. Mann, Coordinator, NSS, were also present on the occasion.


Suicide by 5 of family: DGP asked to probe
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab DGP to get the investigation of the case relating to the suicide by five members of a family due to the alleged harassment at the hands of former Amritsar Senior Superintendent of Police Kultar Singh done at his own level.

Taking up a PIL filed by Mr Simranjit Singh, member of the Voices for Freedom, a human rights organisation, the Division Bench of the Chief Justice, Mr Justice D.K. Jain, and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta said the DGP must investigate the case at his own level in view of the serious allegations. The writ was then disposed of.

It may be recalled that five members of a family had committed suicide on October 31, 2004. They included Hardip Singh, his wife Gurjit Kaur, his mother Jaswinder Kaur and his two sons Imran and Sandeep.

Three suicide notes, written by Hardip, which surfaced later, indicated that he was being allegedly blackmailed by Kultar Singh. In fact, a note written on one of the walls of the room where the deceased was found also said the same. He had also named his relatives who were blackmailing him. Four of them were arrested thereafter.

The petitioner had prayed for a CBI investigation into the matter and the registration of an FIR against the real culprits.

Alleging that attempts had been made to sidetrack the investigation, the petitioner also pointed out that the investigation was transferred from Mr P.S. Gill, DIG, Border Range, to Mr P.S. Sarao, DIG, Jalandhar Range, without any reason. Two handwritten notes of Hardip were also found to have been tampered with.

In the suicide note, Hardip had confessed to having murdered his father Sunder Singh. He would have gone scot-free had his relative Sabreen not witnessed the crime. Later, she and her father-in-law started blackmailing him. Thereafter, some other relatives also got wind of the case and started blackmailing him.

When Hardip reportedly decided to surrender before the police, the SSP allegedly demanded money to hush up the case. The suicide note said Hardip had already paid Rs 5 lakh to the SSP.

Interestingly, Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar, MLA, Amritsar South, who also claimed to have received a suicide note, later withdrew from the matter without any apparent reason.

The initial inquiry was conducted by Mr P.K. Rai, SP, Amritsar City-I. But, he soon sought that the inquiry be handed over to a senior officer as SSP Kultar Singh was his senior.

The petitioner's counsel, advocate P.S. Grewal, told the Bench that the conduct of the inquiry so far left a lot to be desired. He also pointed out that the report of the CFSL, Chandigarh, said the tampered name was that of Kultar Singh.


Punjab Vidhan Sabha adjourned again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha was adjourned today after paying rich tributes to one of its former members,Mr Sant Ram Singla, who died at the PGI here last night. It was the fourth consecutive adjournment of the House after obituary references. No legislative business has been transacted during the last three sittings of the House.

When the House assembled today after a four-day recess, its Deputy Leader, Ch Jagjit Singh, informed members about the death of Mr Sant Ram Singla, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board. Describing Mr Singla as an able parliamentarian and a good administrator, he proposed that the House be adjourned after passing a condolence resolution so as to enable members to attend his funeral in Patiala later in the afternoon.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was joined by Mr Tikshan Sood (BJP) and Mr Sucha Singh Chhottepur, in endorsing the condolence resolution. The House observed two minutes, silence as a mark of respect to Mr Singla.

Before the House could be adjourned, Ch Jagjit Singh, suggested that the House should reassemble on April 11 at 10 am instead of 2 pm to which Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder of the Shiromani Akali Dal objected, saying that members needed time to come prepared for discussing legislative business.

Previously, the House was adjourned three times after making obituary references. It started on March 31 when the House was adjourned soon after the news of the crash of the helicopter carrying two Haryana ministers — Mr O.P. Jindal and Mr Surender Singh - came.

The next day, it was adjourned again after paying tributes to the two Haryana ministers, O.P. Jindal and Surender Singh. On April 4, it was adjourned after obituary references to Pope John Paul II and Harjinder Singh Lally.


15 Punjab to commemorate 300 years of valour
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
One of the oldest and most highly decorated battalions of the Indian Army, 15 Punjab (Patiala), will be commemorating its tricentenary next week at its field location in the Western Sector. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will be addressing a special sainik sammelan to mark the occasion.

About 20 war widows from the unit will also be honoured by the Chief Minister's wife, Ms Parneet Kaur, on the occasion.

The Department of Posts is also releasing a postal stamp on the battalion. As many as 72 lakh stamps of Rs 5 denomination have been produced by the department.

A war memorial service, the release of a book on the battalion's history and a tricentenary journal, a pagal gymkhana and a barakhana for the troops, a religious function, a tricentenary dinner and a display by the Army Service Corps' Tornadoes dare-devil motor cycle team are other events being held. As part of the celebrations, a motor-cycle rally from Sriganganagar to Pooh was flagged on March 31. The rally will culminate at the unit's location on April 13.

Presently commanded by Col Aditya Madan, 15 Punjab was raised on April 13, 1705, by Baba Alla Singh, founder of the Patiala state. It is the Army's second highest decorated battalion, with 22 Battle Honours and the Theatre Honour, "Punjab", which was conferred upon it for the battle of Hussainiwala, where it stalled three successive attacks by a Pakistani brigade supported by armour, in 1971.

During the First World War, the battalion took part in operations in the Suez, Gallipoli and Palestine. Designated as 1st Patiala, Rajindra Sikh Infantry in 1932, the battalion fought in Waziristan during the Second World War and then went to Burma where it cut Japanese lines of communication. Later, it sailed to Port Disckson for action in Malaya and Batavia, now Java.

Post Independence, the battalion's finest moment was at Zoji La in 1948, where ill-equipped and unaclimatised troops achieved a resounding success against Pakistani raiders, winning eight Maha Vir Chakras, 18 Vir Chakras and the Battle Honour Zoji La. In 1951, it was re-designated as 15 Punjab (Patiala).

In 1988, the battalion established new posts on the Line of Control and was awarded one Yudh Seva Medal and four Sena Medals. From 1992 to 1995 it was deployed in counter- insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, where its haul of 50 awards included one Kirti Chakra, two Shaurya Chakras, 11 Sena Medals and one Chief of the Army Staff's Unit Citation.

Operation Vijay in 1999 saw the battalion again deployed in the Northern Sector, where it received, among other awards, one Vishisht Seva Medal and four Sena Medals. During Operation Parakram in 2002, the battalion was involved in intensive mine- laying and mine- recovery operations.


Tribune Impact
Relief pours in for 16-year-old rape victim
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 8
Relief has poured in from various quarters for the pregnant 16-year-old rape victim of Malkipur Taparian village in Ropar district. Following The Tribune report highlighting the state of the victim and her family, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, today announced that the district administration would take care of the entire medical needs of the victim. “I have talked to the Ropar Civil Surgeon and a special medical card of the girl will be made at the health centre nearest to her house where she will be taken care of free of cost,” said Ms Jain adding that if the family later wanted to give the girl’s child for adoption, the district administration would do so following the rules laid down for the process.

The Deputy Commissioner said she had also received calls from abroad offering to help the girl. “I have requested all those who want to help the girl monetarily to send their donations in the name of the President, District Red Cross, Roopnagar. A covering letter stating that the donation is specifically for this victim should also be sent,” said Ms Jain.

Members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) will be arranging a monthly pension for the girl’s grandmother Jagir Kaur so that she can assist the family.

A Mohali-based NGO Generation Saviour has offered to help the girl monetarily as well as provide her free legal assistance. The Youth Welfare Sports and Health Club and the Market Welfare Association, Mullanpur Garibdass, has offered to pay for the medical needs of the girl and also later arrange for the girl’s wedding when she turns 18. “We are also going to help the family with some money that we have collected,” said Mr Arvind Puri of the club.


Election of sarpanch set aside
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 8
Mr B.C. Thakur, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Presiding Officer of the District Election Tribunal, Ferozepore, while setting aside the election of a person as sarpanch, has recommended disciplinary action against the Returning Officer also.

Mr Om Parkash and Mr Iqbal Singh had challenged the election of Mr Sumit Singh as sarpanch of Gaddandob village in this sub division before the District Election Tribunal on July 29, 2003. The petitioner alleged that the Returning Officer, Mr P.C. Bangar, SDO, Public Health, had given their nomination papers to Mr Sumit Singh. The latter tampered with the nomination papers by putting names of the candidates as proposers and forged signatures on the same.

Thereafter, Mr Bangar rejected nomination papers of all other candidates on the ground that they had proposed the names of other contestants in violation of election rules. Thus Mr Sumit Singh was declared elected unopposed as sarpanch.

However, Mr Sumit Singh and Mr Bangar rebutted the allegations.

Mr Thakur accepted the election petitions and set aside the election of Mr Sumit Singh. He directed that a copy of the orders be sent to the Secretary, Public Health, Punjab, for taking appropriate disciplinary action against Mr Bangar, SDO, PWD (Public Health), for extending undue favour as Returning Officer to Mr Sumit Singh in getting him elected as sarpanch of Gaddandob panchayat by rejecting nomination papers of the petitioners.

The Deputy Commissioner also requested the State Election Commission also to ensure that action was taken against Mr Bangar by his department. A copy of the detailed orders was received here today officially.


Raids on Chautala properties a vendetta, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said the CBI raids on the properties owned by the former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, were a part of the political vendetta started by the Congress against leaders of opposition parties, especially regional parties.

He alleged that as Mr Chautala’ s party was only organisation which could challenge the Congress in Haryana, the Congress targeted him. It was a wrong tradition set up by the Congress. The party had been targeting the leaders of regional parties, which do not toe its line and were politically inconvenient to it.

The raid by the CBI on the residence of the Congress MLA was a drama enacted to justify the raids against Mr Chautala and his family members, he alleged.


Patiala bids adieu to Singla
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
Gentleman politician and Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla was given a tearful adieu by citizens of this city who gathered in thousands around the flower bedecked mini-truck which took him to his last journey to the Rajpura road cremation ground after doing the round of the traditional city bazars and the Kali Mata temple.

Singla’s last journey started from his house near Shahi Samadan in the old city. Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and Haryana Minister Randeep Surjewala besides close family members, including Singla’s son and Punjab Youth Congress Vice-President Vijayinder Singla, sat in the open mini-truck which took nearly two hours to reach the cremation ground.

Traders closed their shops in the main bazars besides coming out in large numbers to pay their last respects to the late leader.

At the Rajpura road cremation ground, people had gathered even before the body reached the cremation site. SGPC President Jagir Kaur, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, Mr Jagtar Singh Rajla and Mr Surjit Singh Kohli represented most of the Akali leadership of the area. Among Congressmen Cabinet Ministers Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Lal Singh, Amarjit Singh Samra and Jasjit Singh Randhawa were present. Congress legislators Randeep Singh Nabha, Raj Khurana, Malkit Singh Dakha, chief parliamentary secretaries Harbans Lal and Malkit Singh Birmi, senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar, Anti-Terrorist Front Chairman Maninderjit Singh Bitta and senior civil and police officials were present at the cremation.

Wreaths were laid on the mortal remains of Singla by senior IAS officer B.C. Gupta on behalf of the Punjab Governor, by Ms Preneet Kaur on behalf of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and by Mr Avtar Singh Brar on behalf of the Punjab Pradesh Congress.

Singla’s son Vijayinder lit the pyre in the evening.

In the morning people came in droves to the house of Singla. Prominent citizens visiting his residence in the morning included senior Congress leaders Brahm Mohindra and Brij Lal Goel, both of whom described Singla as a true Congressman who had upheld the principles of the party till his last breath.


Public money diverted to Dunes Club
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 8
While the state government has been quite generous in granting funds for the government officers’ Dunes Club, the budding sports talent of Malwa is crying for a gymnasium that has been awaiting the sanction of a mere Rs 3 lakh for its completion.

According to sources, the Dunes Club, which has been built after encroaching upon the land of the PWD, has all the sports facilities for the government officers. A modern gymnasium has also come up near the club, which is located on the Circuit House premises, at the cost of Rs 12 lakh. Sources said till now about Rs 17 lakh had been spent from the state exchequer on the luxuries of this club. Now, about Rs 1 lakh had been issued from the Small Savings Department. The Deputy Commissioner had got this fund issued from his government quota.

The Executive Engineer of the Provisional Division of the PWD, Mr A.K. Singla, said no approval was taken from them for the construction of the gymnasium. He still made it clear that if the gymnasium had been built with the government funds then it could not be termed illegal.

On the other hand, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, said they had taken the consent of the PWD for the construction of the gym and it was built after raising funds from the members, which sources say, made it an encroachment.

Sources said the former MP of Bathinda, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, had granted Rs 10 lakh on June 9, 2003, (Letter No. 196) for building sports infrastructure close to the Circuit House, but the officials used those funds for their Dunes Club. Similarly, the District Planning Board had allotted Rs 7 lakh for sports infrastructure on January 1. This amount was spent on building a tennis court, a badminton court, and a squash court etc at the Dunes Club. About Rs 1.25 lakh was spent on the lights of the tennis court alone.

While the administration is making all efforts to bring all facilities to the Dunes Club, the sports stadium near the Panchayat Bhawan is a victim of government apathy. The stadium’s gymnasium is lying incomplete for the past one decade.

The Deputy Commissioner, who is also the Chairman of the Dunes Club, said the PWD had been told that its permanent rights on land would not be taken away. Regarding the sports stadium, he said he had taken up the matter with the authorities concerned. He said the stadium only needed Rs 3 lakh, but no one was willing to donate for it.


PUDA to start ‘land pooling’ scheme
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 8
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has decided to implement a “land pooling” scheme for farmers whose land has been acquired by the government for development. This was decided during the 30th meeting of the authority held under the chairmanship of the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, here today.

According to the new scheme, the land owner whose land was being acquired by the government would be given an option of being compensated with either money or a developed plot of land. According to a press note issued by the authority, the farmer would have to make his options clear after the issuance of the acquisition notice under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, but before the compensation amount award was announced. The implementation of the scheme would, however, require a nod from the Cabinet.

According to another vital decision, PUDA would be increasing the cost of residential plots allotted by it across the state. These rates had not been revised since 1997. It was, however, decided that there would be no change in the rates of houses below 100 square yards in size.

The revised rates would be the same for PUDA Urban Estate plots at Zirakpur and Amritsar, Khanna and Batala, Nawanshahr and Bathinda, Gurdaspur and Phagwara and Fatehgarh and Kapurthala.


Sinking tubewells put on backburner
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 8
With the temperatures soaring and the demand for water increasing several tubewells in the city are dry. As many as 14 tubewells in and around the city have been in a state of disrepair for the past many months. It has been alleged the municipal corporation is dragging its feet on the job of sinking new tubewells.

While the Municipal commissioner Mr K.S. Kang, denied allegations of ignoring the problem, he said at the next Finance Committee meeting tenders for these had been called and the corporation was committed to solving the problem as soon as possible.

However, residents of certain areas were greatly perturbed over the corporation’s slackness in taking suitable measures before the onset of summer.

The areas that were allegedly bearing the brunt of the dry spell include Tehsilpura, Shivala Park Colony, Bhalla Colony, Guru Nanak Pura, Tanda Colony, Pink Plaza, Roopnagar, Bhagatwala, industrial areas like East Mohan Nagar, some walled city interior areas such as Gali Khuwali, Dhab Wasti Ram and Kesri Bagh besides posh avenues like Tailor Road and Shastri Nagar. Many areas in the city were also reporting contaminated supply of water. Residents of Bagh Ramanand had reported contamination of water supply from sewerage pipes.

It is alleged slow action by the MC in taking immediate measures to call tenders again when a whopping number of 132 tenders of the O&M cell worth Rs 6 crore were cancelled on February 16, 20 and 23 last year by the municipal corporation on directions of commissioner had put things on the backburner .

Following the cancellation of tenders, the commissioner had written to the local government about the alleged involvement of the Municipal Councillor Mr Rajinder Bhalla, who was also served a chargesheet recently.

Interestingly, the MC had earlier reportedly allowed a tubewell to be sunk at Dhab Wasti Ram Grain Market without calling a tender for it despite the model code of conduct imposed at the time. A senior politician of the ruling party inaugurated this tubewell costing Rs 7.50 lakhs, in September.

At present, 258 tubewells exist in the municipal limits out of which 60 are small.

However, not a single generator has been installed with any of these to cater to emergency supply in case of power failure. The matter of substitute power for the MC’s Fire Brigade was debated recently. There were apprehensions that due to the imposition of VAT the tenders for new tubewells would become costlier, causing a loss to the MC, which could have installed the same in a lesser amount.


ASI seeks probe into allegations by tenant
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, April 8
Alleging blackmailing, Ms Sheetal Kaur, an Assistant Sub-Inspector in the Majitha police district and resident of Kucha Nihal Singh, today urged the SP city, Mr P. K. Rai, to hold a high-level inquiry into the allegations made by one Mr Pardeep Singh to some senior police officials and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC).

Mr Pardeep Singh, a tea vendor and resident of same area, had alleged that he was forced to live in an open park near his house as his house was forcibly occupied by some persons.

He alleged that on April 4 he was kept in illegal custody by the police where he was mentally and physically harassed.

He said he was a tenant of Ms Sheetal Kaur. He said on April 3, he along with his family had gone to a marriage. However, when returned, he saw lock of the house broken.

In a letter to SP City, Ms Sheetal Kaur, who is a widow and live with her in-laws, said her father-in-law had given the house on rent for last six months to Pardeep Singh.

She alleged on April 4, the accused along with several other armed persons, attacked her house with bricks and sharp edged weapons. However, they had to flee when a number of people came to their rescue after listening their shouts.

She said later it was decided to give Rs 30,000 to Pardeep Singh for leaving the house and deposited with the C-division police station. She said the next day the room was opened in presence of police officials. Pardeep Singh alleged her of stealing of 17 tolas of gold jewellery and about Rs 7000 in cash. She said the accused also threatened to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, a number of residents of the area today came forward in support to Ms Sheetal Kaur. They submitted a ‘majornama’ undersigned by the residents to the SSP and asked the police to take action against Pardeep. Mr Jaswant Singh, father-in-law of Ms Sheetal Kaur, urged the authorities to hold an inquiry.

Mr Kamal Bhatia, a resident of the area, questioned how an ordinary tea vendor could have gold jewellery worth thousands of rupees. He said he was unnecessarily threatening and harassing the family.

When contacted Mr P. K. Rai, SP city, said there were allegations and counter allegations from both parties. However, he said they would hold an inquiry into matter.


Protest against setting up of liquor unit
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, April 8
Residents, including women and children, of over 32 villages protested against the setting up of a Vodka manufacturing unit, Neway Organic Naturals India Limited, at Devi Nagar village, about 2 km from here, today.

The villagers, under the banner of the IIaqua Bachaao Committee, assembled at the village where a team of officials from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had organised a meeting for hearing objections from the general public.

The team comprised Ms Usha R. Sharma, Special Secretary of Science and Technology and Environment, Punjab, Mr Malwinder Singh, member of PPCB, and Mr GS Randhawa, Joint Commissioner of Excise and Taxation Department (Patiala division), along with Mr Priyank Bharti, SDM, Rajpura, and some other officials from the local administration.

Holding placards, the protesters raised slogans and criticised the government for compounding the pollution problem in the area by allowing the setting up of such industries which create air and water pollution.

They complained that various diseases had spread in the area because of the water and air pollution created by some industrial units set up by the government in the locality years ago.

The industrial waste had been proving a health hazard to human beings as well as their milch cattle and other pet animals, alleged Mr Rajinder Raja, president of Rajpura Municipal Council.

Those who spoke on the occasion include Mr Surinder Ghari, member of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), and Mr Narinder Shashtri, local Congress leader.

Ms Sharma’s efforts to convince the protesters about the benefits of setting up of the industrial unit proved futile. She claimed that the unit, supposed to be set up in the village, was a joint venture of Neway Organic Naturals India Limited and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, in which the surplus and low quality potato would be used for manufacturing liquor.

She claimed that with the setting up of the unit a number of locals would be benefited in one or the other way. 


Fire damages shopping plaza
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
Mehta’s Mega Mart, a local shopping plaza, suffered losses worth lakhs of rupees after a fire broke out on its top floor yesterday, causing damage to different goods, including the AC system.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that though the reason of fire could not be known yet, it was believed that a short-circuit caused the fire. Three water tankers and one fire jeep were immediately pressed into service to bring the fire under control.

Though the plaza was situated in the main market of the town, the flames of fire were brought under control within about 15 minutes before the same could spread to the adjoining shops.

While some goods were reduced to ashes, no damage to any human life was reported as when the fire broke nobody was there on the top floor.


Action against naib tehsildars flayed
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 8
Following the arrest of two naib tehsildars in a fraud case, an emergency meeting of all the revenue officers of Ferozepore Division was convened at PWD Rest House here today.

The meeting flayed the action of the Vigilance Bureau and sought actions against the “erring officials”. The revenue officers alleged that the action of bureau was “retaliatory” as its sleuths had failed to implicate Rajiv Verma, a tehsildar posted at Ferozepore, in a false case. The case was withdrawn on the intervention of the Punjab Chief Minister and the Revenue Minister.

A delegation of tehsildars and naib tehsildars today met the Ferozepore Commissioner and told him about the “highhandedness” of the Vigilance Bureau.

The Revenue Officers Association also demanded shifting of the “erring” Vigilance officials who had “taken law into their hands”. The association gave a 15-day notice to the Punjab Government to act in the matter, else the revenue officers of the entire division would go on strike. 


Visa denial to Pak guests for convention flayed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 8
Mr Shyam Khosla and Mr Ashok Singhi, President and Secretary, respectively of the Media Centre here and Dr H.S. Lall, President of the Punjab Union of Journalists, have condemned the attitude of the Indian High Commission authorities in Islamabad in making false promises and declining visas to Pakistani guests for an Indo-Pak media convention scheduled for April 11 and 12 here.

“It is indeed shocking that an External Affairs Ministry officer, on being contacted said they had cleared the file and there should have been no reason for the High Commission, Islamabad, to decline visas.”

In a statement issued here they said, “It is a setback that the Indian High Commission declined to give visas to our Pakistani guests after making promises.” According to the statement, the organisers are making efforts to finalise new dates for the convention, ‘Punjabiyat 2005”, in consultation with leaders of the Pakistan delegation.


108 names deleted from ‘Baisakhi jatha’ to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
As many as 108 names were deleted from the list of pilgrims who had filed for visas on the occasion of Baisakhi celebrations to visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, said today that a list of 1,980 pilgrims was sent for visa, but more than 100 names were deleted. He added that on one hand the governments on both sides were working towards closer ties, on the other, visas were being denied to a large number of devotees.


Special drive to check faulty transformers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Y. S. Ratra today said that the board had initiated a special maintenance campaign to take care of loose overhanging wires, sagging LT lines and faulty transformers.

Mr Ratra said these steps were being taken to prevent any triggering of sparks from transformers as well as high-tension cables passing over ripe wheat fields in the State. He said directions to conduct maintenance works had been given to all field officers of the board.

The Chairman in a statement here advised farmers to keep the land below the transformers free of any vegetation, adding water should also be stored in an improvised pond near the transformer.


Pulse polio campaign
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department has made elaborate arrangements for administering pulse polio drops to more than 37 lakh children up to the age of five under the National Intensified Pulse Polio Immunisation (IPPI) round scheduled to be held on April 10. This was disclosed by Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra.

He said no positive case of polio had been reported from the state in 2004. Giving details, he asserted that immunisation booths would be manned by 70,000 vaccinators, drawn from the departments of Health, Education, Social Security and Women and Children Development besides non-governmental organisations.


Director goes ga ga over new film
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 8
Jeet Matharu, director-producer of much publicised and first all women Punjabi film, said today that making the film was an exhilarating experience for him as he discovered immense talent exhibited by first time actresses, who were students of BBK DAV College of Amritsar.

“Addi-Tappa”, according to Matharu, turned out to be a once in a life time experience for him as its completion passed through a number of memorable phases.


SAD passes resolution on Pope’s death

Chandigarh, April 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal at its high-level meeting here today passed resolutions expressing shock and grief over the demise of Pope John Paul II, Congress leader Sant Ram Singla and Akali leaders, Harjinder Singh Lali and Ujjagar Singh Rangreta. Resolutions were also passed condoling the death of Surender Singh and O.P. Jindal, both Congress leaders from Haryana. Yet another resolution was passed expressing grief over the death of Bhapa Pritam Singh, a Delhi-based Punjabi publisher, and Mr Narinder Singh Pahra, former member of the SGPC. — TNS


DC reviews arrangements for Navratras
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh and SSP A.S. Rai held a meeting with executive magistrates and other officers of the police department of this district to review arrangements for Navratras at the Kali Devi Temple.

The DC added that more sweepers would be engaged to ensure cleanliness of the temple and the Mall Road.

The DC informed that executive magistrates with police officials would maintain law and order. Mr Tejveer Singh added that Kali Devi Temple would be beautified soon. SP (City) K. Sharma, ADC Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon and SDM T.PS. Phoolka also attended the meeting.


Lawyers submit demands’ charter to HC Judge
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 8
The local Bar Association has demanded the setting up of the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge in the town. The demand was raised in a charter presented to the inspecting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, here yesterday.

Mr Justice Gill was here to inspect local courts.

The bar association said as per the rules, before an injured person was examined by a medical officer for issuance of a medico-legal report (MLR), he was required to procure a chit from the police officials concerned. At times the police officials were biased. Hence, the Area Magistrate should be authorised to issue the chit for the MLR instead of the police officials.

The Bar Association also stated that there was shortage of space for new members of the bar at Pathankot. A demand was raised to shift the labour court to the court and tehsil complex.

Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, besides inspecting the courts, inspected the local sub-jail.


Woman’s murder: judicial remand for husband
Tribune News Service

Kharar, April 8
Saudagar Singh, who was accused of stabbing his wife Harpreet Kaur to death in Mohali on Monday, was today remanded 14 days of judicial custody by a court here. While the prosecution demanded an extension of the police Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Poonam Ratti, ordered that he be sent to in judicial remand till April 22.

Yesterday the magistrate had extended the police remand by one day. Saudagar’s counsel yesterday pleaded innocence alleging that police had tortured him in to make him confess the crime.


Two jailed for life for killing nine-year-old girl
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 8
Raj Kumar, a resident of Naya Gaon and his relative were today sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his nine-year-old daughter by a Ropar court here.

The two were convicted and also fined Rs 3000 each by District and Sessions Judge, A.K. Sharma.

According to the prosecution Raj Kumar had been living with his relative Rita Rani after death of his wife.

Jyoti had been beaten to death by the two accused and later her body was buried by them in their house in Janta colony. The girl was often beaten by Raj Kumar and Rita, the police had alleged.

The Naya Gaon police registered a case under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC against the couple on October 2000.


Meeting on relief to farmers on April 11
Tribune News Service

Bholath (Kapurthala), April 8
The meeting of the high-powered committee constituted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to assess and compensate losses suffered by farmers in Punjab due to distress sale of paddy in the year 2000 will be held on April 11.

This was stated by Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, member of the committee and president of the Progressive Farmers’ Association (PFA), at a press conference after the inaugural function of farmers training camp held by scientists of PAU here yesterday.

Due to the distress sale of paddy in 2000, the farmers of Punjab could not get the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. On the basis of 500 affidavits collected by the association, it filed a petition in 2001 in the High Court demanding Rs 1,000 crore compensation for all farmers.

“The High Court constituted the committee headed by Dr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, to complete its work within three months of its order dated 18.03.2005,” said Mr Khaira.

“This is for the first time that any farmers’ organisation has achieved success in a legal battle,” claimed Mr Khaira.


Use of combine harvesters at night banned
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 8
Deputy Commissioner, S.K. Ahluwalia has banned combines for harvesting of wheat at night till July 5 in the district as it increases moisture content in grains. Combine owners/operators will also have to get operation worthiness inspection from agricultural officers before using combines, so that farmers do not face any problem at the time of procurement of wheat. 


Villager shot
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
Manjit Singh, alias Santy, a resident of Bagher Mohabbat village in this district, allegedly shot dead Avtar Singh, a resident of the same village, yesterday.

Police sources said that the accused was nursing animosity against the deceased after they develop differences in the panchayat elections held about more than two years ago. The accused shot the deceased with a .12-bore licensed gun after they had arguments over some issue. The accused could not be arrested so far.

A case in this connection has been registered at Kot Fatta police station under Sections 302, IPC, and Sections 27,54, 59 of the Arms Act.


One held with spurious Bt cotton seed
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 8
The police has arrested a person near Bhidiwala village and seized 49 packets of spurious Bt cotton seeds from his possession.

Sources said following a tip-off, ASI Kuldeep Singh along with Agriculture Department officials, stopped a motor cycle-borne person at Bhidiwala, near Lambi.

The police seized 49 packets of spurious cotton seeds from him. Each packet had 450 gm of cotton seeds.

The accused has been identified as Subhash Bishnoi. He had brought the spurious seeds from Sangaria Mandi in Rajasthan.

A case has been registered against him under Section 420 of the IPC and the Seed Control Act.


Missing girl recovered, two nabbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 8
The Kapurthala police has recovered a 15-year-old girl Jaswinder Kaur of Sultanpur Lodhi, missing for the last two and a half months and arrested two persons in this connection.

Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh said today Amarjit Singh, father of the girl, had lodged a complaint at the Sultanpur Lodhi police station that her daughter was missing.

The police suspected two persons, Tejinder Singh Sabhi and Dalip Singh, of Sultanpur Lodhi. A police party raided Nadala village in Gurdaspur district, arrested the duo, recovered the girl and restored her to her parents.


Couple killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 8
The husband and wife were killed and a three-month-old baby was injured when the scooter on which they were travelling met with an accident with a tractor-trailer coming from opposite direction.

Sources said that last night Sulakhan Singh, a resident of Ramkalma village in Narot Jaimal Singh block, was coming to Pathankot on the Suber Chak road along with his wife, Kanchan, and three-month-old child on a scooter when the accident took place.

While the husband and wife died on the spot, the child was still in a critical state at the Pathankot Civil Hospital. A case has been registered.


Robbery case solved, 7 held

Chandigarh, April 8
Almost a week after armed robbers barged into a jeweller’s shop in Jalandhar before decamping with ornaments and money, the Punjab Police today claimed that it had solved the case with the recovery of the loot and arrested seven accused late last night.

The Punjab DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, told mediapersons here one of them was closely related to the jeweller and had allegedly told his accomplices that the target was an easy one. The kingpin, Ranjit Singh Fauji, was an Army deserter belonging to Tarn Taran district. He, along with another accused, were still absconding with half a kg gold. The police also recovered 3 kg gold, Rs 60,000 cash and arms. — TNS


Privatisation move of govt schools condemned
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 8
Various teachers’ organisations today declared that they will not allow privatisation of government schools at any cost.

The teachers from different areas had come to attend a meeting with the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, here today. The meeting was called to discuss measures which could be adopted to improve the level of education in government schools. However, no substantial discussion took place on the agenda item.

The representatives further said that at the time when such a meeting was held, there were 223 vacant posts of block education officers out of a total 228. It was promised that these posts would be filled on a permanent basis but only temporary arrangements were made in this regard.

Later, while talking to mediapersons the minister said that government schools would not be privatised.

When asked about discussions being held with the managements of aided private schools, the minister said that at present the matter was only being discussed.

This was being done to bring about an improvement in the level of education in government schools.


Forensic workshop held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
A five day national workshop on “Forensic Facial Reconstruction” organised by the Department of Forensic Science in Punjabi University concluded here today. Mr Rajinder Singh, Inspector general of Police, Patiala Range, was the chief guest.

Mr Rajinder Singh appreciated efforts of the Forensic Science Department in organising the workshop which he said would be a boon for security agencies. He said policing has now become modernised and new techniques invented by the forensic experts help a lot in nabbing criminals.

Dr R. Sudha, Dr Shahnwaj, Dr H.P. Rathore, Professor Seman, Dr Chandershekhar and Mr Ischan from India and abroad shared their experiences at the workshop. The participants were also awarded certificates and a CD by the chief guest.


UK teachers visit rural schools
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
A delegation of UK-based primary and middle school teachers visited various schools falling in rural areas in this district yesterday.

The delegation, whose visit has been sponsored by the Indo-British Arts and Education Programme Barthmelow.

Mr Barthmelow said the teachers were impressed by the functioning of Jasdev Public School located at Kauli, near here.

He added that once the delegation returned home, he would ask the British Government to invite students and teachers of the Kauli school to the UK so that they could get a chance to study the system of education there.

The delegation, which comprised 10 women teachers, also witnessed a cultural programme.

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