P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Akalis create ruckus; raise excise auction issue
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
After creating a ruckus over a ruling of the Speaker on zero hour leading to an adjournment, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chose the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor's Address to mount an attack on the state government by reverting to the excise auctions in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today.

Since no business could be transacted during the last three sittings of the House on account of adjournment after obituary references, the current session, which was to end today, has been extended till April 15.

It was an eventful day as soon after question hour, the Chief Whip of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, wanted to raise the issue of harassment of an NRI by the Jalandhar police to which the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, objected saying that it was a law and order problem and should be taken up during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks.

Mr Manpreet Badal, however, insisted that since it was an important issue he wanted to use zero hour for raising it. The Speaker's ruling that there was no provision of zero hour prompted a protest from the entire Opposition, creating a ruckus in the House.

All attempts by the Speaker to continue the proceedings with call-attention motions were foiled by slogan-raising SAD legislators. Though the Speaker offered to take the issue to the Rule Committee and the Business Advisory Committee, the Opposition did not budge from its stand, forcing an adjournment for an hour.

It was during the break that the Business Advisory Committee reportedly decided that the convention of zero hour would continue as before.

As the House reassembled, Rana Kanwarpal Singh moved the Motion of Thanks accusing the previous SAD-BJP government of leaving the state in shambles. He said that problems like corruption, unemployment, stagnation in agriculture, flight of industry to other states and increasing debt because of poor fiscal management had pushed an advanced state like Punjab to the brink of disaster.

Diversification and contract farming were the only means of rejuvenating the agricultural sector. Increased agricultural production, setting up of several mega projects in the industrial sector, better management of the Punjab State Electricity Board, improved supply of power to the farm sector and above all, a solution to the vexed river water problem were among the major achievements of the Congress government in three years.

Rana Kanwarpal Singh said the initiative of the Punjab Chief Minister in opening trade, cultural and other links with Pakistan were admirable. The overwhelming welcome given to Capt Amarinder Singh's entourage in Pakistan, laying of the foundation stone of the Wagah-Nankana Sahib road by him and getting released hundreds of Indian youths from jails in Pakistan were laudable.

He said that to ensure that widows, old persons and other sections of society got pensions, the state government had created a new fund of Rs 450 crore to ensure timely disbursement to the beneficiaries.

Seconding him, Mr Randeep Singh Nabha not only attacked the previous SAD-BJP government for its failures but also said that the present government was making every possible endeavour to put Punjab back on the road to progress and all-round development.

Opposing the motion, Mr Manpreet Badal not only reeled out a number of figures to say that Punjab was slipping in various fields but also maintained that the Congress government had been rocked by scams, mismanagement, maladministration and criminalisation of politics. Besides, it also resorted to the politics of revenge.

He not only hinted at the aborted selection of Deputy Superintendents of Police against the sports quota but also held that corruption was rampant and welfare schemes had been discontinued.

The worst thing, he said, was that the present government was completely alienated from the masses as the Chief Minister was working for his personal glory. Giving a call to both the ruling Congress and the Opposition, he said that they should come together at least on a common programme to ensure the economic growth of the state.

Haryana, he said, had a better collection of sales tax, its roadways was in profit and each town had a master plan. "Punjab towns and cities do not have any master plan and if they have, these are blatantly violated," he added.

Quoting from the Human Resource Development Report of the World Bank, he said that the collection of taxes was just 50 per cent, the bureaucracy was heavy and e-governance was only in name.

Excise auctions dominate discussion

A former Technical Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, mounted an attack on the Congress government in Punjab, accusing it of giving a benefit of over Rs 1,500 crore to liquor baron Ponty Chadha, Participating in the discussion on the Motion of Thanks, Mr Garcha spoke for about 45 minutes on the excise auctions before the House was adjourned for the day. He challenged the Chief Minister saying that neither he nor other members of the trade owing allegiance to his group were allowed to participate in the auctions which were mere eyewash.

Claiming that he had in-depth knowledge of the liquor trade in which he had remained an active participant from 1963 to 1997, he reiterated his offer of giving an increase of Rs 26 crore in revenue in Ludhiana division alone. Maintaining that he would give a total increase of Rs 150 crore for the entire State against Rs 25 crore recorded by it, he alleged that by not increasing the quota of Punjab medium liquor as well as Indian made foreign liquor, the state had benefitted the present liquor lobby by Rs 1,582 crore during the past two years. Of this increase only Rs 47 crore had come to the state exchequer, he added.

Though the Treasury Benches tried to interrupt him by raising points of order, Mr Garcha, supported by the thumping of desks by SAD and BJP legislators, held that even last year, the state had passed on a benefit of Rs 17 crore to the liquor lobby by overlooking the directions of the Supreme Court. There were protests, both at a Council of Ministers' meeting and by senior bureaucrats in the state, he added.


Sikh jatha leaves for Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), April 11
As many as three trains were pressed into service for a Sikh jatha which left for Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi festival here today. There were 3000 pilgrims in this jatha.

Earlier as many as 1,613 devotees were flagged off by SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur from Teja singh Samundari Hall in the SGPC complex. The jatha was led by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, member, Interim Committee of the SGPC while the deputy leaders of the jatha were Mr Hardayal Singh Sursingh and Mr Harcharan Singh Mansa , both SGPC members. About 300 Kashmiri Sikhs are also accompanying the jatha this time.

Mr S.K. Maidan, Station Superintendent, Attari Railway Station, said 2,200 pilgrims left in special train (22 coaches) for Pakistan. Reportedly the immigration staff had a hard task clearing passengers as more than 4,000 had to be cleared, including normal passengers. Another batch of 1,200 passengers had to wait till the evening for clearance. According to reports from Pakistan the jatha was welcomed by PSGPC members like Mr Mastan Singh, president, Mr Sham Singh, former president, and the Evacuee Trust Property Board ‘s, Mr Izhar-ul-Hassan, and the Additional Secretary (Special), Mr Syed Faraz Abbas.

Sant Baba Sewa Singh talking to The Tribune before boarding the train said about 55 devotees would visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib for karseva. He said a gold ‘chattar’ worth Rs 20 lakh would be installed at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib before proceeding for Baisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib. The Jatha would return on April 20 after visiting Panja Sahib Gurdwara, Hassan Abdal where Baisakhi would be celebrated, Nankana Sahib, Sacha Sauda Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore and Sikh shrines at Emnabad near Gujjranwala. However, some devotees who arrived from far off places to join the jatha were left high and dry after they found that signatures of Pakistan High Commission were absent in their visas.

Narinderpal Singh from Jaipur and Kawaljit Singh from Jalandhar were among those who were denied entry for the yatra.

Meanwhile, a jatha of 243 Sikhs and Hindus from Pakistan which included 153 from Peshawar and 90 from Karachi arrived for Baisakhi celebrations in India. Bibi Jagir Kaur has requested the Union Government to allow SGPC members to meet Gen Parvez Musharaff on his forthcoming visit to India. She said the SGPC would like to take up issue of repair and restoration of Sikh shrines in Pakistan, denial of visas to jathas and Punjabis in Pakistan jails.


Metre gauge chair car coach flagged off
Tribune News Service

Hussainpur (Kapurthala), April 11
The Minister of State for Railways, Mr Naranbhai J. Rathwa, flagged off the first metre gauge AC chair car coach, manufactured by Rail Coach Factory (RCF), here today.

The coach has been handed over to the Railway Board, which is likely to send it to Rajasthan where trains are still being run on metre-wide tracks. On the occasion, the minister was taken inside the coach where he was told that two roof-mounted package units of five tonne capacity each on both ends were a special feature of the coach, as here the ACs would keep on working even when the train halted unlike other coaches where the ACs were fitted under the floor and failed to function when the train moved at a speed of less than 55 km per hour.

The minister was told that an AC two-tier metre gauge coach that would be a part of the same rake was also being manufactured at the RCF. The coaches had other features, including fire-retardant paints on Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) panels on sidewalls and ceilings, modular toilets having fittings with injury-free features, UIC vestibules for proper sealing of the pathway between two coaches and chairs with built-in arm rest, magazine bags, bottle holders, snack tables and adjustable footrest, the minister was shown.

In a short interaction with mediapersons inside the coach, the minister failed to respond to most of the questions. When asked about failure of the Railways to complete work on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh track, he said he was not aware of it. To a query about the fastest Shatabdi proposed to shuttle between New Delhi and Bhopal, the minister was again caught unawares.

In reply to a question pertaining to the problems that traders dealing in rail components were facing due to implementation of VAT, the minister said everyone would have to abide by the new system of taxing. Regarding the rail tragedy at Mukerian, the minister gave a one-liner reply saying that the inquiry was still on.

Later a platinum jubilee ceremony of Indian Railways Accounts Service was held in the administrative office where the minister presided. He was accompanied by Mr P.N. Garg, member of the mechanical section of the Railway Board, Ms Vijaya Laxmi Vishwanathan, Finance Commissioner, and Mr Ravindra Sharma, General Manager of Diesel Locomotives Work, Varanasi, who has been given additional charge as General Manager of the RCF, Kapurthala, after the superannuation of Mr Mohammad Sirajuddin last fortnight.


Singla disburses grants worth Rs 90 lakh
to unregistered bodies

Favours clubs linked to his PA
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 11
While blowing its trumpet of launching an anti-corruption” campaign against Akali leaders after taking over the reins of the state, the Amarinder Singh government seems to have forgotten to look within.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla had disbursed financial aid worth lakhs to some unregistered and religious organisations last month from his discretionary fund.

Mr Singla had distributed cheques worth Rs 89.37 lakh to 79 organisations here in the last week of March. Sources said most of these clubs came into being overnight.

Azad Cricket Club, Guru Nanakpura, Bathinda, got registered on March 29 (registration number 200) with the Industry Department and it got the grant on the same day. The Baba Farid Welfare Society got registered on March 21 and it received a grant of Rs 1 lakh within a week. The society belongs to a block Congress committee member. The Ekta Welfare Society was formed on March 21 and it received Rs 60,000. Ajmera Welfare and Sports Club, whose president is the general secretary of the city Congress, got registered on March 15 and received Rs 50,000 as grant. Baba Namdev Club’s president, Mr Jasvir Singh, is a close associate of the PA to Mr Singla.

Similarly, Green Avenue Youth and Sports Club, Sri Ram Youth and Sports Club, Shakti Nagar Welfare and Sports Club and Vishal Nagar Welfare and Sports Club, were formed on March 15.

The minister also gave away a grant of Rs 50,000 to the Punjab Medical Representatives Association despite it being a body of private professionals. Funds were also disbursed to about a dozen such organisations that didn’t have any address in records.

Sources said soon after coming to power, the Congress government had asked over 40 organisations of the district to return grants sanctioned to them by the previous Akali regime, saying that either they were unregistered or religious organisations. The list of these organisations is also in possession of The Tribune.

In the notices issued to these organisations they were told to return the amount sanctioned to them within a stipulated time or else their property would be auctioned for recovery. Surprisingly, Mr Singla went ahead and gave away funds to a number of such organisations that feature in this list.

One such instance is the District Tax Bar Association to which the Akalis gave Rs 30,000, but the Congress government sent recovery notice to it. Now, Mr Singla has given Rs 50,000 to the same association. Some clubs were given funds for constructing their offices, but they didn’t have a place for the same.

The minister had also been quite generous in disbursing funds to religious organisations, which included the Peer Sewa Dal Society, Sri Ram Seva Samiti, Ram Sarnam Society, Hari Om Shankar Charan Paduka Sewa Dal, and Sri Agrawal Sabha. The sources said disbursing government funds to religious bodies was against the norms.

They said out of the total amount disbursed, about Rs 40 lakh had gone to the clubs linked with the PA to Singla, Mr Anil Bhola. Rs 3 lakh were given for boxing rink of the Police Public School and Rs 2 lakh for its athletic track. The District Cricket Association also received Rs 2 lakh. On the other hand, Mr Singla has turned a blind eye to the local stadium’s gymnasium that is lying incomplete for the past one decade.

When contacted, the Finance Minister said: “I don’t know anything about it. Please check it up with my political secretary.” However, his political secretary could not be contacted for his comments. Meanwhile, Bathinda MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan has termed it as misuse of government funds.


DIG summons EPF scam records
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 11
The DIG, Ludhiana range, Mr Parag Jain, today summoned all records of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scam involving contractors and officials of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, and the Lehra thermal plant. The investigating officer from Ropar has been called by the DIG to furnish all details in this regard.

The investigating officer, Mr Jagdish Singh, submitted the records in the DIG’s office this evening, sources said.

The police department took serious note after the vigilance department of the PSEB raised objections of the police report, which led to the cancellation of the case against one of the contractors.

A Ropar court on December 12 ordered to cancel the FIR against one of the contractors, M/s Sodhi Erector, on the statement of the complainant. The complainant had agreed with the cancellation report of the police.

Documents of the Ropar plant in the possession of this correspondent revealed that even at the time of the registration of the case the complainant, Mr Satinder Singh Dhindsa, who is a former Superintendent Engineer (headquarters), Ropar, had shown unwillingness to register the case against M/s Sodhi Erector.

Meanwhile, Mr Jain was not available for comments. However, senior officials of Ropar confirmed that the documents were submitted to the DIG.


Mayawati calls on two sisters of Kanshi Ram
Action seen as political message
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
For sure, it was a sort of political coup executed this morning with finesse by the BSP leader, Ms Mayawati, in Pabhat village on the fringe of City Beautiful.

On her return from Una, Ms Mayawati spent over two hours at the residence of Mrs Gurcharan Kaur, a younger sister of Babu Kanshi Ram, whose mother, Mrs Bishan Kaur, and a brother, Mr Dalbara Singh, had recently dragged her (Mayawati) to court on the issue of the treatment of the ailing BSP chief. In fact, in the recent past there was bad blood between Ms Mayawati and the mother and brothers of Babu Kanshi Ram. Her relations with the mother and brothers of the BSP’s supremo are still tense.

Ms Mayawati also attended the bhog of the akhand path which was held to celebrate the birth of Simarpreet Kaur, granddaughter of Mrs Gurcharan Kaur. And last evening, Ms Mayawati had visited Mrs Kulwant Kaur, another younger sister of Babu Kanshi Ram,who lives in Solkhian village, a short distance from Ropar.

By visiting both sisters, Ms Mayawati has sent a clear message to the mother and brothers of Babu Kanshi Ram that half of the family is with her. It appears that Ms Mayawati has good rapport with the family of Mrs Gurcharan Kaur.

Ms Mayawati said it was not a pre-planned visit to the family. “As I was on the way to Delhi from Una, I decided to call on the family with which I have had good relations for a long time,” she added, rejecting the suggestion that any politics was being played by her by doing so.” When I was on the way to Una last evening, I called on Mrs Kulwant Kaur, another sister of Babu Kanshi Ram, in Solkhian village”, she added. “I thought if today I did not call on the family of Mrs Gurcharan Kaur, she would be angry with me. For me, both sisters are equal”, the BSP leader asserted.

Talking about the treatment of Babu Kanshi Ram, Ms Mayawati said that all allegations levelled against her were false. She said that those members of Babu Kanshi Ram’s family who had moved the court on the issue of the treatment were in fact doing so at the behest of political forces inimical to the BSP.

“On my directions, our advocate made a prayer to the court to get Babu Kanshi Ram examined by an expert team of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences to find whether he was being given proper treatment. And this request was accepted by the court”, she said. Babu Kanshi Ram had himself told all concerned earlier that he was being looked after well. But some selfish persons spread all sorts of rumours in this regard, she said.


Mayawati presses Centre for job quota
in private sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The BSP leader, Ms Mayawati, whose party has been supporting the UPA government from outside, said today that her party would give some more time to Dr Manmohan Singh's government at the Centre to order reservation in jobs in the private sector for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and backward classes.

Making her stand clear on the issue of privatisation at a press conference here, Ms Mayawati said her party was not against the privatisation of the public sector as such, but there should be reservation in jobs for the SCs, the STs and BCs in the private sector. When asked how much more time her party would give to Dr Manmohan Singh's government in this regard, she said it could be a year or even less. She said she could not fix an exact time frame in this regard at this stage.

There was reservation in jobs for various categories in the public sector, but that was not the case in the private sector. Owing to the privatisation process, reserved categories would be hit hard in the absence of jobs. Therefore, her party was pressing the Union Government to frame a law to provide for reservation in jobs in the private sector, she added.

Ms Mayawati, who was accompanied by the president of the Punjab party unit, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, the secretary, Mr Parmjit Singh Kainth, and other senior leaders, said her party was also pressing for reservation in the higher judiciary, the Rajya Sabha and in the Council of Ministers (CoMs). At present, there was no reservation in the CoMs and it was the discretion of the Chief Minister concerned to give representation to the reserved categories in his Cabinet.

Ms Mayawati said her party was closely watching the performance of the Congress governments in states. It would see whether these governments were doing something worthwhile for Dalits, she added.

Asked about the performance of the UPA government, Ms Mayawati said her party was also keeping a close watch on the performance of the government, but would not make any comment as it (government) had not even completed one year yet. "To pass judgement on the government too soon will not be appropriate", she added.

Ms Mayawati said there would be no political compromise with Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh. "I have already launched a people’s movement against Mr Yadav's government”, she said, adding that there was “jungle raj” in that state. The crime graph was going up in UP.

For fresh mandate in Bihar

Ms Mayawati said Bihar should not be subjected to President's rule for a long time and fresh elections should be ordered for the formation of a popular government there. She said her party would not enter into an alliance with any party in Bihar.


Woman alleges rape, police says no marks of injury
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, April 11
A widowed mother of five children in mid forties has not been able to convince the Punjab Police for eight months that she had allegedly been raped by an uncle of her husband in Fatehgarh district.

Despite the fact that a Fatehgarh Sahib court had dismissed the anticipatory bails to the accused, who are also her in-laws, the police is dragging its feet to arrest them.

The SHO of the Sirhind Police Station Dalbir Singh investigating the case suspected the statement of the woman, saying that there were no injury marks on the body of the woman and report of chemical examination is still awaited.

In his order (B.A. No. 77/17.3.2005) of March 30, 2005, the District and Sessions Judge, Mr J.S. Klar, while dismissing the anticipatory bail applications of the accused, said the accused Gurdial Singh, father-in-law of the victim, Gurnam Singh, younger brother of Gurdial Singh and Harpreet Singh, nephew of Gurnam Singh in order to prevent the victim from going to court, forcibly abducted her by locking her from outside on August 26, 2004. On the same day at around 8:30 pm, the accused forcibly entered her house with the intention to rape her. They took the complainant to a separate room in her house and stripped her. Then Gurnam Singh put some medicines in her mouth and allegedly raped her. The victim fell unconscious later. Thereafter, the daughter of the victim and the victims' son-in-law Baljeet Singh, were called and they took the victim to a hospital, where she was medico-legally examined.

The court recorded the statements of the victim, her daughter Harpreet Kaur, son-in-law Baljit Singh and summoned the accused in an order dated December 17, 2004.

The victim, Channi, alleged that on April 2, 2005, she was coming with her son-in-law Baljeet Singh. They stopped at Bassi bus stand and Baljeet Singh went to a shop to buy some thing. There accused Gurnam Singh came and attempted to kidnap her in broad daylight. She raised the alarm and Baljeet Singh rushed out of the shop to her rescue and with the help of some passers-by and saved her. She alleged that her clothes were torn in the attack and the accused left the spot threatening her.

When contacted, the Station House Officer of police station, Sirhind, Mr Dalbir Singh, said, "The woman is making false complaints. No marks of any injury were reported in the preliminary medical investigation. We have sent samples for the chemical examination to the Chemical Laboratory in Patiala and its reports are awaited. He assured that the action would be taken against the accused if something incriminating was found in the report."

Mr Dalbir Singh also added that both the parties had a property dispute and were contesting the same in the court. He also said they had not received any directions from the court to take action against the accused.


Dossier against Gurdwara Act: report
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
The report of three members of a five-member sub-committee, constituted by SGPC to review the dossier on Harmandar Sahib, has dubbed the document as being against the very spirit of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, and amounting to the denigration of Akal Takht and other age-old Sikh institutions.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar , a member of the sub-committee, alleged that the dossier seemed to have been formulated under a “deep-rooted” conspiracy. Dr Sabar gave many references from the voluminous dossier, having glaring distortions of the Sikh history. Quoting from the dossier , Dr Sabar alleged that the contents were against the spirit of “Sikh prayer” too. He claimed that three other members of the sub-committee, including Prof Niranjan Singh Dhesi , Dr Darshan Singh and Dr Sarbjinder Singh, were unanimous on this.

Meanwhile, Dr Tarunjit Singh, secretary-general and chairman of the Interfaith Committee, World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR), has said that the SGPC was not competent to withdraw the dossier . He claimed that Unesco’s World Heritage Centre had advised them in the past few days that the SGPC did not have the authority to withdraw the nomination. He said as per the rules, the State Party of India (Indian Government) through its permanent delegation to Unesco can withdraw the nomination. He alleged that the current development had put the SGPC in a fix and had subjected the Sikh community worldwide to a serious misadventure. 


Home serves apathy to inmates
Chander Parkash & Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 11
The wish of getting a satisfying meal and other basic amenities remains an unfulfilled dream for the inmates of the local observation home. They are allegedly underfed and have been living in unhygienic conditions due to apathetic attitude of authorities concerned.

Not only this, the claim of the authorities concerned that juvenile offenders are being given proper shelter, good environment and education also seems to be a hollow one. Several inmates aged 15 years and above disclosed that they were still being taught alphabet of English and Punjabi languages despite the fact that they were ready to move on to the higher level.

There is general fear that the home, instead of reforming the juvenile offenders, was in fact serving as a breeding ground for criminals. There is no segregation of juvenile offenders lodged in the home for committing petty crimes from those sent there for committing heinous crimes like rape and murder.

‘‘We are given less food and that too is half cooked. This has been giving us stomach problems. The tea being served to us twice a day is not fit to be served even to animals’’, alleged a section of inmates of the local observation home. They aired their grievances in front of Director, Social Security, Women Welfare and Child Development, Punjab, Mr S. R. Ladhar, who visited the home recently.

The shabby clothes and rugged appearance of the inmates also served as a proof of their tale of woes. The children had mustered the courage to complain to a senior officer in the presence of the officials of the home so they were anxious about the repercussions. ‘‘ Sir, please ensure that we are not harassed later on’’, they repeated several times.

According to the inmates the state of hygiene and cleanliness in the home was also very bad. ‘‘The inferior quality of soap being given to us has caused skin allergies. There are only two taps for 100 inmates. There is not enough space in the rooms and as many as 10 to 12 inmates have been bundled into a single room", they pointed out and added that even though summers had set in, the authorities concerned had failed to make arrangements for the adequate number of ceiling fans to keep their rooms airy and cool.

After listening to the grievances of the inmates, Mr Ladhar directed the in charge of observation home to give each inmate 600 grams of food every day instead of 460 grams of food being given to them at present as per the norms. He added that as the juvenile offenders were growing physically so they needed more food for their proper physical growth.

Mr Ladhar also directed the authorities concerned to make arrangement for cable TV connection for the inmates.

After the inmates brought their problems to the notice of Mr Ladhar in presence of observation home authorities, including its in charge, Ms Krishna Aggarwal, they also requested him to ensure that they were not harassed by the authorities for taking this step.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that as many as 94 juvenile offenders, both convicted and undertrails, had been living in the local observation home.

Ms Aggarwal, however, denied the allegations levelled by the inmates and claimed that the observation home was being run properly and its inmates were being given the facilities as per the norms. She added that some inmates had been trying to make issue out of a non-issue as the observation home authorities were not allowing them to take liberties with the established rules and regulations.


Honesty is still alive
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
A local industrialist, Mr Rajesh Jalota, and a Kota businessman, Mr Lalit, who recently went to a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, were relieved when they were handed over their bags which they thought had been lost.

During their visit, they had hired a "pithu" (load- lifter) for carrying their bags. However, they suddenly got separated from the “pithu”. They waited in vain for him for a long time and when the “pithu” was nowhere to be found, the perturbed pilgrims reported the matter to the Katra police.

Mr Jalota was pleasantly surprised when he got a telephone call from Mr Dalip Singh, SHO, Katra police station, that their bags had been found. Mr Jalota rushed to Katra. He was told that the “pithu” had deposited the bags with the police.

On searching the bags, everything was found intact. The bags contained valuables, including camera and clothes worth Rs 50,000. On his return from Katra Yesterday, Mr Jalota was all praise for the honesty of the police and the “pithu”.


Close shave for two labourers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 11
Two labourers had a miraculous escape when they were trapped in a mudslide while they were digging a well at Bhokhra village, near here, today.

Sources said four labourers were digging a well in the agricultural land of Nirmal Singh. While two of them were standing on the well’s face, the other two — Jasvir Singh and Ranjit Singh — were carrying out the digging work. Suddenly there was a mudslide when they had dug up till 25 feet.

Villagers gathered around the spot. Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva Society and administration officials rushed to the mishap site. After over three hours of effort, they spotted Ranjeet’s face.

A team of doctors had already arrived from Goniana Mandi.

They gave him oxygen and other treatment there before extracting him fully.

After about 20 minutes Jasveer was taken out in a similar way.

Both were rushed to the Civil Hospital in Goniana where their condition was reported to be stable.


No shortage of bricks, says minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Supplies Minister, today informed the Punjab Assembly that all 1600 brick-kilns have started functioning in Punjab. Responding to a question asked by Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal, he said first-class bricks were being sold at a price ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,200 per thousand. The minister said there would be no shortage of bricks during the coming months.

It may mentioned here that during the strike of brick-kilns, rates of first-class bricks had jumped to Rs 2,800 per thousand.

The Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, said there was no move to hand over the publication of books to the Education Department and to withdraw the same from the Punjab School Education Board. A question in this connection was asked by Mr Manpreet Badal and Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon.

Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, said there was no proposal to regularise the services of employees who were working on a contract, daily and ad hoc basis in the treasury, accounts and examiner and local fund accounts.

Responding a question by Mr Birdevinder Singh, the Punjab Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, said the authorities concerned would make adequate arrangements provide drinking water to residents of Mohali this summer.

He said the lease of Punjabi University with regard to a building in Mohali had been extended for 10 years. However, permission for the expansion of the building had not been granted for technical reasons.


Poor quality coal affecting power plant
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 11
The supply of the poor quality of coal continued affecting power generation and putting more burden on maintenance cost in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Power Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) here with 1260 MW capacity for the past many years. But the PSEB appears to be helpless to improve the quality of coal.

Sources in the thermal plant revealed that as per the PSEB report, the plant was using coal of 3825 Kcal/Kg calorific value which in fact required coal of 4400 Kcal/Kg calorific value.

The use of poor quality coal besides affecting the efficiency of the plant also causing damages to various parts of the machinery and producing more ash waste.

Every year, the plant require an average 50 lakh tonnes of coal. In 2003, the plant used 45.51 lakh tonnes and 52.43 lakh tonnes in 2004. The plant is getting coal from Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

The use of huge quantity of coal also produced ash content in tonnes every year and caused emission of more sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the sources said.

The ash spews out from the plant has a visible effect in the surrounding areas, which was not only contaminating the ground water in nearby villages, but also causing health problems.

The low calorific value coal led to faster erosion of the coal burners and flue gas path, reduced plant load factor (PLF), increased the consumption of oil in the plant and also reduced flame stability requiring additional oil support, a senior official of the PSEB said.

When contacted the General Manager of the plant, Mr R.S. Sohal, said the decision to supply the quality of the particularly type coal had been taken by the Centre.

He said low quality coal affected the efficiency of the plant, but we had been producing good generation and this month only we had set new record of power generation.


Adequate steps for purchase of wheat
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 11
Adequate arrangements have been made by the local administration in connection with the purchase of wheat in various mandis.

The SDM, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, today had a round of the mandi here and also talked to farmers who had brought their produce to the local mandi.

He said adequate provision for water and power had been made for the farmers apart from taking care of the sitting arrangements.

The SDM had directed the agencies procuring wheat from the mandis to make payments to the farmers at the earliest.

Mr Dalbir Singh, secretary, Kharar Market Committee, said 29, 980 quintals of wheat had arrived in the local mandi and the maximum procurement here had been done by Punjab Agro which had purchased 18,620 quintals of wheat.

Punsup had purchased 5510 quintals while Markfed had procured 5470 quintals. Only 380 quintals of wheat had been purchased by private commission agents.

In the mandi falling in Chunni village 15,500 quintals of wheat had arrived and the entire stock was purchased by Punsup while in Desumajra only 1640 quintals of wheat had arrived which was purchased by Punjab Agro.


Rehriwalas protest against fee
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 11
Fruit and vegetable vendors carrying on their business on rehris went on strike today.

The president of the Rehri Union, Mr Raj Kumar, said here today that the union had launched an agitation against 4 per cent fee imposed by contractors of the recently privatised market committee.

He said that rehriwalas also paid a fee of 9 per cent at Amritsar while lifting fruits and vegetables from the market there. He said that the rehriwalas paid Rs 2 to Rs 5 per item to the brokers.

Mr Raj Kumar alleged that neither the contractors nor the brokers issued any receipt for the payment made to them.


BSNL staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 11
BSNL employees today staged a dharna against their local authorities.

The employees are agitating against the transfer of the union leaders who raised their voice against fake receipts issued in the Pathankot office.

The union leaders alleged that certain employees in the Pathankot office issued fake receipts to customers and in the process swindled about Rs 3 lakh.

This led to harassment of a larger number of customers whose telephones were disconnected due to non-payment of bills.


Villages’ profile to be on Net
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The profile of each village in Punjab will be available on the Internet once block samiti offices in the state are computerised.

The process of computerisation is expected to be completed soon and is likely to go a long way in bringing about complete transparency in panchayati raj institutions, Punjab’s Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Lal Singh said today.


SAD(A) men gherao gurdwara manager’s house

Ropar, April 11
Workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today protested against the alleged misbehaviour of a son of the manager of Gurdwara Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib with Dalit women of the town. The workers of SAD (A) gheraoed the residence of the manager in Anandpur Sahib in the afternoon. The manager, Mr Karam Singh, denied the allegation and said it was conspiracy of some persons to implicate them in a false case and added that the woman had already made a statement in their favour. TNS


PUDA guidelines
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 11
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta on Monday directed owners/occupiers of PUDA houses/plots in the urban estates of Punjab to comply with the guidelines framed by PUDA on encroachments along road berms within three months.

Passing this order during hearing of the petition filed by Anti Encroachment Committee through its president, Mr S.R. Chaudhary, the Bench directed that PUDA would be free to take appropriate steps for removal of encroachments on public land as per the procedure laid down by law.

The Bench observed that PUDA had placed on record its policy on landscaping of road berms in front sites of plots in the urban estates. It further observed that the policy framed by PUDA on November 22, 2004, deserved to be given a trial.

In case, the house owners or the public at large faces any difficulty, it can be taken care of at a later stage. The Bench directed that owners would bring front portions of houses strictly within parameters laid down in the said policy and have the landscaping done accordingly.

The Bench further said that standardised colour and design of fencing and dimensions of standard vision in terms of the provisions of the policy would be notified by PUDA within two weeks from the date of order.


Auction of plots fetches Rs 8.37 cr
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
The Improvement Trust earned Rs 8.37 crore by auctioning 25 commercial and residential plots here today.

The Chairman of the trust, Mr Jugal Kishor Sharma, MLA, told newsmen that against the reserve price of Rs 25 lakh, the auction bid got them Rs 66 lakh of the commercial shops.

He added that the residential area of Ranjit Avenue got about Rs 15,000 for per square yard against the reserve price of Rs 7,000.


RPO to issue police clearance certificate
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 11
The police clearance certificate (PCC) to people for the purpose of submission to foreign diplomatic missions in India for visa and migration purposes will be issued by the Regional Passport Office, the Deputy Commissioner said here today. The PCC would be attested only if the certificates issued by the passport office and the Indian missions were submitted together.


Gang busted, fake certificates recovered
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 11
The local police yesterday busted a three-member gang involved in making fake certificates, registration certificates of vehicles, fixed deposit receipts of banks, income tax returns and birth certificates. The police recovered a large number of certificates and stamps from their possession.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the SSP, Mr Amit Prasad, said gang members were identified as Gurdeep Singh, Satnam Singh and Gurmeet Singh. He said Gurdeep had opened a college near bus stand along with Satnam and Gurmeet, where they used to prepare fake certificates.

The seized certificates included 10 detailed marks-sheets of the Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training; two matric certificates of the Punjab School Education Board; one degree certificate of BA; two FDRs of Punjab National Bank; four blank copies of registration certificate; two fitness certificates of vehicles; and two income tax returns.

The police has also arrested five persons and recovered two pistols, four cartridges and six scooters from their possession.

The arrested persons were identified as Balwinder Singh, Amandeep Singh, Nirmal Singh, Avtar Singh and Jaswinder Singh.


Heroin worth Rs 3 cr seized, one held
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 11
The district police today arrested an Amritsar resident for smuggling of narcotics and seized heroin valued at Rs 3 crore from his possession.

Mr Arun Pal Singh, SSP, said here, they received information that Jasbir Singh of Hakimawala Bazaar in Amritsar was moving in the Nizampur area and was possessing 3 kg of heroin.

A police party laid a naka at Nizampur and signalled two persons, riding on a black Hero Honda motor cycle (PB05-C-0119) to stop. The driver of the vehicle, however, stopped ahead of naka and escaped from the spot, while the police overpowered his accomplice.

The search of his suitcase led to recovery of 3 kg of heroin. He was arrested and identified as Jasbir Singh. The main accused was identified as Rajinder Singh, alias Vicky, of Shaheed Babu Labh Singh Nagar in Jalandhar.

The police was conducting raids to nab the absconding accused, while a case has been registered under various sections of the NDPS Act.


Fake certificate racket busted
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 11
The Malerkotla police has unearthed a racket of fake degrees and certificates of different boards and universities with the arrest of five members of a gang.

The police recovered 40 fake certificates of different universities and boards from their possession.

Mr MS Malli, DSP Malerkotla, while talking to this correspondent here yesterday said Mr Akam Singh of Farwali village in a complaint lodged with the police had alleged that certain persons had taken Rs 10,000 from him for allegedly increasing the marks of his daughter in ten plus two board exams. Later, these persons issued a certificate to his daughter.

The certificate issued by these persons was fake. On his complaint the Sandaur police registered a case under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, 120 IPC, against five persons namely Gurmail Singh, Karamjeet Kaur, Amar Singh, Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, and Pawan Kumar, a resident of Ahmedgarh.

All the accused have been arrested by the police.


Punjab Police SI caught accepting bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
A Punjab Police Sub-Inspector who had earlier served in the Vigilance Department was today caught red-handed by personnel from his former department while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000.

Sub-Inspector Bakshish Singh had invited the complainant in the case to the traffic police post in the Sheranwala Gate area to hand over the money to him. As soon as he stepped out to receive the money, he was arrested.

The complainant in the case, Sukhjit Singh Rathian, had landed in the police custody on April 5 when a quarrel broke out between two groups at Rathian village. Bakshish Singh headed a police party to the village the same night. During this period, the complainant tried to put across his viewpoint to the cops and later in the heat of the moment also fired in the air.

The complainant was nabbed by the SI and taken to the Sadar police station. Here he was kept in the lock-up till the evening of April 6. The revolver with which he had fired in the air was also seized, but this seizure was not recorded.

Following this, the Sub-Inspector started asking Rathian to bribe him to get the revolver released from the police station. The SI asked for Rs 15,000 but eventually a deal was struck for Rs 10,000. The SI was caught accepting that amount.


Gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 11
The district police today claimed to have busted a five-member gang of robbers with the arrest of three of its members from the cremation ground at Saintpur village while they were allegedly planning to commit a robbery.

According to the police, after getting specific information, the Bholath police raided the cremation ground and nabbed Parmjit Singh of Uttar Pradesh, Thomas of Raipur Arian and Sukhvinder Kaur of Chugawa. Their search led to recovery of one country made pistol, two cartridges and one mobile set.

Two of their accomplices escaped from the spot.


Ishar Ahluwalia visits GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Punjab needs to strengthen its economy by long-term planning or policies in the agriculture and health sectors, said Dr Ishar Ahluwalia, Vice-Chairperson, Punjab Planning Board, while interacting with the faculty of Guru Nanak Dev University here today. While acknowledging the university ‘s work here, she stated that contribution and suggestions put forward by the university would be given weightage while formulating state policies

Dr Ahluwalia said that the dying industry of Punjab was really a matter of concern, and pleaded for more agro-based industries in the state. She said innovative techniques, contract farming, diversification of crops be encouraged for better yields.

“The products having more commercial value were needed in view of the demands in the international market and this could be done by organising agriculture fairs, meetings, seminars and awareness to farmers about the latest techniques. She revealed that the government was planning to launch horticulture centres for the purpose.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, honoured Dr Ahluwalia with a set of university publications.


Nano-biotechnology seminar at varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Dr Lalit M. Bhardwaj, Head, Bio-Molecular Electronics and Nano-technology, Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), Chandigarh exhorted students to be innovative and avoid duplication. He urged them to undertake path-breaking work in nano-biotechnology, as it was an upcoming science with enormous growth potential.

He was speaking at seminar on nano-biotechnology organised by the Department of Human Genetics, Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

Dr Bhardwaj discussed how nano-biotechnology could be used to make devices of sizes up to atomic scale as used in supercomputers. He said the human body had most efficient bio-molecule, the DNA, and the ability of one c.c. of DNA was equivalent to trillion of compact discs.

He described in detail how DNA could be used as a nano-wire and application of such nano-wires to make bio-molecular chips. Such chips could store enormous information on a pinhead medium, to be used in sophisticated instruments like spacecrafts.

While elaborating the utility of these techniques in medicine, diagnostic of infectious and immune disorders, in forensic studies and in coding sensitive material for intelligence purposes, Dr Bhardwaj discussed in detail the Micro Electrical Mechanical System as total analysers on a chip for field studies of diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and HIV.


Education panel suggests new courses
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Go global — that is what a committee constituted by the Punjab Government for preparing a document on higher education has recommended. In its report submitted today to Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the committee has suggested the introduction of fresh courses for students living abroad.

A “slight hike” in tuition fee for students studying in government colleges has also been recommended by the committee headed by Director of New Delhi-based Consortium for Educational Communication, Dr G.D. Sharma.

The committee was of the opinion that the universities and colleges in the state were doing well and enjoyed good reputation in India and abroad. As such, the introduction of applied courses would attract students settled abroad. Besides enhancing prestige of the institutions, the move would result in the flow of foreign exchange.

The members have also recommended the diversification of courses being offered by the universities and colleges for making the education system more job-oriented.


Sikh quota eligibility test on June 12
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 11
The SGPC has announced that this year’s eligibility test for Sikh quota seats in the SGPC-managed technical institutes will be conducted by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib, on June 12.

Dr D.S. Hira, Principal, BBSBEC, has been appointed coordinator of the test. He said the test would be conducted at the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Science, Amritsar, and the BBSBEC, Fatehgarh Sahib, on June 12. He said students who maintain complete Sikh appearance and do not cut hair and have words Singh’ or ‘Kaur’ in their names were eligible to appear in the test.

He said candidates scoring more than 36 per cent marks in the religious test would be eligible for admission under the Sikh quota seats. He said 50 per cent seats of B.Tech in SGPC-managed Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, and 50 per cent diploma seats in Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic, Ludhiana, were also reserved for Sikhs.

He said applications on prescribed forms were to be submitted to the BBSBEC at Fatehgarh Sahib and roll numbers would be issued on the spot from June 1. He said an affidavit under personal oath mentioning that “I belong to Sikh religion, abide by principles of Sikhism, have faith in 10 Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib, maintain complete Sikh appearance would have to be submitted. He added that photocopy of the CET admit card, along with a demand draft of Rs 400 in favour of the coordinator and payable at Fatehgarh Sahib, would have to be submitted with the application.

The result would be declared on June 13 on the college website www.bbsbec.org, he said.


BA (I) paper outside syllabus
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
Students of BA (I), appearing in the annual examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, were surprised today when they found the English (compulsory) question paper was outside the syllabus. According to students, questions worth 21 marks out of 100 were outside the syllabus.

Teachers in local colleges also confirmed the faux pas by the university. They demanded at least 20 grace marks in the paper.

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