P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM to look into violations in distribution of funds
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 12
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that he would look into the violations allegedly being done by MLAs and ministers in the distribution of grants to different organisations and institutions out of their discretionary fund quota.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here to preside over the annual function of a local school being run by a private industrial house, made this statement when he was asked about the action being taken by him in connection with reports in various dailies pertaining to the distribution of grants by ministers and MLAs in violation of the established norms.

The Chief Minister said though he had not come across any such report so far, he would certainly look into the matter if it was true.

Sources said a section of the Akali leaders had been raising a hue and cry over the fact that the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, had given grants worth about Rs 90 lakh to various clubs, organisations and societies, which came up overnight and got themselves registered.

They alleged that after the Congress formed the government in Punjab, it started making recoveries of the grant given by the former Chief Minister and ministers out of their discretionary fund quota. These grants, it was alleged, were given against the norms laid down by the state government. The Congress government even launched proceedings against certain clubs and organisations.

The Chief Minister said there was a laid down procedure regarding the distribution of grants to different private organisations and all the MLAs and ministers were supposed to adhere to it. He added that he had not received any complaint in this connection so far. He added that grants given by the ministers and the MLAs should be used meaningfully.

Meanwhile, in a major policy decision, the Punjab Government has sought the participation of the private industrial houses in education in the state. Stating this here today, the Chief Minister said that he had received a good and a positive response from some leading industrial houses to help in running some schools in the state. However, the Chief Minister clarified that this should not mean that the state was going to privatise education in any manner.

Spelling out the plan, after formally inaugurating the Satpal Mittal Memorial School here today, he said, the idea was to arrange teachers for schools, particularly in rural areas. All costs like the salaries of the teachers and other expenses would be borne by the industrial houses and the students would get education free of cost. This, he pointed out, could help in bridging the large gap in the availability and demand for teachers in the schools. He said, he had received “a very good response” from the industry to help in running schools, mostly in the rural areas.

The Chief Minister maintained that there were 13,000 posts of teacher lying vacant in various schools in the state. He said, although the government was prepared to make contractual appointments against these vacancies, the trained unemployed teachers were not prepared to join on contract.


Government looking into issue of removal of
Dasmesh Academy Trust, says CM

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Intervening on the important issue of Dasmesh Academy, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today in the State Assembly that the government was legally examining the mater of the removal of the academy trust headed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

He said this was being done to streamline the functioning of the academy, which was facing problems because of the dual system of its management. Whereas the trust was headed by a former Chief Minister, the governing body of the academy was headed by him, the Chief Minister said. “There should be only one management to run the academy and there was no logic in having the trust headed by a person in perpetuity” when the government had been paying money from the state treasury to run the institution.

The question regarding the academy was asked by Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, (Congress).

Reacting to the reply, Mr Badal got up to ask how many meetings of the governing body had been convened by the Chief Minister in the past three years. Mr Badal said the trust would make the academy the best institution in the world and efforts in this regard had already been started. However, the Chief Minister reiterated that he would do away with the trust that had been superimposed on the governing body.

Hangar allotment to Birmi’s school

Another issue that rocked the House for a while immediately after question hour was the allotment of a hangar at the Northern India Flying Club, Patiala, to Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi’s academy. Mr Badal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder raised the issue. However, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, said the issue could be mentioned during the discussion on the Governor’s Address. But Mr Badal insisted it was an important issue that required immediate attention.

He said if Ministers, who were custodians of public property, started “gobbling up” government property, what would be the fate of the state. He asked the Chief Minister to make a statement on the issue.

Capt Amarinder Singh immediately stood up and said that the hangar had been allotted to Mr Birmi’s flying academy for three years with the approval of the Council of Ministers. In due course, Mr Birmi would construct his own hangar. He said that as Punjab did not have a good academy to train pilots, the decision to allot the hangar had been taken in the interest of Punjabi boys, who would be able to secure good jobs after getting training at the academy.

Doctors' appointment

Earlier, during question hour, another important issue regarding the appointment of three doctors from Haryana in Punjab attracted a lot of attention. Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health Minister, who faced a volley of questions from the Treasury and Opposition Benches, said that they had been appointed in accordance with the rules and with the approval of the Council of Ministers.

Most of those who put questions, including Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Tikshan Sud and Mr Randeep Singh asked the Minister to make it clear whether the three were new appointments or the doctors had been transferred to Punjab from Haryana.

The main concern of those asking the questions was how the three persons had been appointed when there was a ban on the recruitment of doctors in the state. The Chief Minister had to intervene to say that there was no ban on recruitment, but a system had been put in place to regulate recruitment in various departments.

However, the Treasury and Opposition Benches stressed the point that the vacant posts, which numbered 1,374, should be filled soon to ensure health services to people.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, tried to emphasise the point by reciting an Urdu couplet that indicated the poor state of the health services in the state.


Pranab cancels meeting with Cong leaders
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The much awaited April 14 meeting of senior leaders of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and the Punjab Congress Legislature Party (PCLP) with the Union Defence Minister and incharge Punjab Affairs in the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has been cancelled.

Sources said Mr Mukherjee would come to Chandigarh on April 14 to deliver a lecture at Panjab University, but he has dropped his programme of visiting Punjab Congress Bhavan.

Though no reasons were given for cancelling the Congress Bhavan meeting, mounting tension between supporters of the ruling group in both the PPCC and the CLP and the dissidents supporting Mr Jagmeet Brar on certain issues appears to be the reason for the change in Mr Pranab Mukherjee’s programme.

Incidentally, some senior members of the CLP, including ministers, had reportedly flown to the Capital this morning to apprise the party high command of the gravity of the situation, apprehending an open confrontation or even a clash between warring groups during the meeting.

It is pertinent to mention that both the PPCC and the CLP recommended to the party high command strict action against Mr Jagmeet Brar for his anti-party activities. They wanted him to be expelled from the party for six years.

On the other hand, Mr Jagmeet Brar had challenged the authenticity of signatures of members of the CLP maintaining that at least 20 of the signatures were forged. He said if a secret ballot was used to determine the popularity of the leader of the House — Punjab Vidhan Sabha — the Chief Minister would get 22 and not 62 votes as claimed by the group opposed to him in its representation to the AICC.

Mr Brar had earned the wrath of the Chief Minister as well as the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, by criticising certain actions of the government and the party. He fired a salvo at the Chief Minister last month by alleging large scale irregularities in the recent excise auctions.

The excise auctions issue has snowballed into a major issue, both within the ruling party as well as in the Opposition. In fact the entire Opposition used the auction issue to browbeat the ruling party throughout the ongoing Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

There are clear indications that the issue may not die down soon and rather prove a rallying point for various groups of dissidents to unite again.

On the other hand, loyalists of the Chief Minister and the PPCC chief have been maintaining that Mr Brar was a leader without a follower and that he had been working against the interests of the party which in the next Assembly elections could put Congress to a lot of embarrassment.

The high command too has been dilly-dallying the issue. So far no action has been initiated on the recommendations of the PPCC and the CLP. Mr Brar had been claiming that he had explained his position to the national leadership.


Dead farmers claiming compensation
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 12
Believe it or not persons who died long ago are withdrawing compensation cheques for the area mined by the Army on the Indo-Pak border for a period extending from 2002 to 2004. The Tribune has in its possession death certificates of four farmers of the Bamiyal bloc of the district who surprisingly withdrew compensation awarded to them after their death.

As per the death certificate of Ram Singh, a farmer from the Bamiyal bloc, shows that he had died on October 15, 2003. However, 20 days after his death, Ram Singh received a cheque (No. 241658) for Rs 4,359 as compensation for the damage caused to his crops due to mining of the Indo-Pak border by the Army. The bank later honoured the cheque. The amount was withdrawn by an unknown person.

Three other persons, who received the compensation after their death, were Raghubir Singh, son of Galu, through cheque No. 810535; Kunjo through cheque No. 810536, and Sardaru through cheque No. 810537. All three were residents of the Bamiyal bloc of the district.

The sources said these cases were just the tip of the iceberg. Large amounts out of the compensation, awarded to farmers for agriculture land in which the Army laid mines, had been swindled by revenue officials in connivance with some influential persons of the area.

Due to tension on the Indo-Pak border the Army had laid mines in the entire border area. Farmers living in these areas were shifted to rehabilitation camps. Some areas of the border remained mined for about two years. For the loss suffered by these farmers the Union Government has till today released compensation worth Rs 8 crore. The compensation has been awarded at the rate of about Rs 11,000 per acre for the agricultural land.

However, large numbers of affected farmers were lodging complaints about the misappropriations in the distribution of the compensation. Most of the complaints are coming from the Bamiyal bloc where more than 300 acre of agriculture land was mined.

Many farmers have alleged that they were paid compensation for just a part of their land mined by the Army. Instead farmers whose land was not mined have received compensation in connivance with some revenue officials.

They alleged that if the maps of the Army, indicating the positions of the area mined, were compared with the area for which the compensation had been awarded a huge misappropriation would come to the fore.

They also said they had forwarded their complaints to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, and the SDM, Pathankot. However, till date no result has come out.

The death certificate of Ram Singh, a resident of Bamiyal, who received compensation for his agricultural land mined by the Army, after his death
The death certificate of Ram Singh, a resident of Bamiyal, who received compensation for his agricultural land mined by the Army, after his death.


Tension in Mahem over place of worship
Tribune News Service

Mahem (Jalandhar), April 12
Tension brewing between the Jat and the Dalit communities in this village for the past several months over control of a gurdwara-cum-samadh took a new dimension today when a group of Dalits observed a fast to protest against the holding of a langar by Jats. The Deputy Commissioner imposed Sections 144 and 145 to ensure peace in the village.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested 13 persons each from both sides as a preventive measure even as a strong deployment of police force has already been made to prevent the situation from worsening.

The tussle is said to have its roots in efforts by both the groups to assume control of a gurdwara-cum-Dera Bhai Khajaan Singh, which has largely been under the control of the Jats so far. They had also constructed a gurdwara at the site about “six or seven years back”. What led to tension in the village was the alleged refusal of a group of Jats to allow Dalits to hold langar at the site on occasion of Maghi.

The Jats held a langar and the Dalits objected to it saying a status quo from court was in force and it were they who have been undertaking ‘seva’ at the site since 1968 and hence they should not have been stopped from holding a langar by the Jats on Maghi day.

A group of Dalits, led by Makhan Lal Bangar and village Sarpanch Mohinder Pal, observed a fast today to protest against the organisation of langar by the Jats.

The Nakodar SDM, Mr G.S. Khera, is reported to have been appointed receiver of the shrine.

Mr Pawan Tinu, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the BSP, has alleged that the police and the administration were not according justice to the Dalits and that a Congress leader of the area was patronising a group of Jats. He said the Dalits had not objected when the Jats had constructed a gurdwara at the site about six or seven years back, so why were the Jats stopping the Dalits from performing religious activities.


TA, DA of Punjab IAS officer
run into lakhs of rupees

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Hold your breath. This information was tabled in the Punjab Assembly today in response to a question by the Akali MLA, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

The question was how many Punjab IAS officers were working on a regular or additional charge basis at more than one station. The Chief Minister was also asked to give details of the monthwise expenditure incurred on the DA and TA of such officers.

In his reply, the Capt Amarinder Singh, stated that there were six IAS officers holding charge at more than one station. They were the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, the Principal Chief Minister, Secretary, Mr Mukul Joshi, the Resident Commissioner-I, Mr Himmat Singh, the Resident Commissioner-II, Mrs Anjuly Chib Duggal, the Secretary, Mr Dharm Vir, and the Commissioner, Mr B. Sarkar.

However, what was special in information were the details of the TA and DA of Mr Himmat Singh, who is also posted as the Managing Director, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, in Chandigarh. Besides, he holds charge of Commissioner-1, Punjab Bhavan, New Delhi.

The TA and DA disbursed to Mr Himmat Singh, as stated in the House, runs into several lakhs of rupees from March, 2003, to March, 2005. As TA and DA, he got Rs 35,423 in March, 2003, Rs 44,860 in April and Rs 9,660 in May. In June, he got Rs 1,55,911, in July 1,25,114 and in August Rs 1,48,180. In September, he got Rs 53,835, and in October Rs 1,17,330. In November, he got Rs 42,091 and in December Rs 1,61,105.

In 2004, Mr Himmat Singh got Rs 68,670 in January and Rs 4,483 in February. In March, he got Rs 5,031, in April Rs 14,339 and in May Rs 11,335. In June and July, he got Rs 37,339 and Rs 73,989, respectively. In August, the amount went up to Rs 1,01,810 and in September it came down to Rs 4,685. In October it was Rs 12,970, in November Rs 23,610 and in December Rs 17,256. In the current year, he got Rs 71,459 in January, Rs 20,890 in February and Rs 4,869 in March.


CBI produces original Tehelka tapes before GCM
Tribune News Service

CBI DSP K.Y. Guruprasad with prosecution officer, Lieut-Col Sanjay Sitanshu, and prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, before producing the Tehelka tapes at a military court in Patiala
CBI DSP K.Y. Guruprasad (second from right) with prosecution officer, Lieut-Col Sanjay Sitanshu, and prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, before producing the Tehelka tapes at a military court in Patiala on Tuesday. — A Tribune photo

Chandigarh, April 12
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today produced the “original” video tapes shot by news portal tehelka.com before the General Court Martial (GCM) trying Brig Iqbal Singh on charges of professional impropriety at Patiala today. The tapes feature senior army officers allegedly demanding and accepting bribes from operatives of Tehelka posing as arms dealers.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, K.Y. Guruprasad from CBI Headquarters, New Delhi, handed over seven tapes to the court. He also produced the original report on the tapes forensic examination conducted by M.J. Cass of Bureau of Forensic Science Limited, London.

Brigadier Iqbal Singh, who has now retired from service, is being tried on three charges of professional impropriety under Sections 45, 63 and 69 of the Army Act. He had allegedly accepted Rs 50,000 from the Tehelka team, accepted hospitality of wine and women and interacted with representatives of foreign firms without permission. The seven-member GCM, which re-assembled after being adjourned for about three weeks, is being presided over the General Officer Commanding, 1 Armoured Division, Major-Gen Pardeep Khanna.

On being questioned by the prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, Mr Guruprasad said the tapes produced by him were the original, unedited tapes which were produced by tehelka.com before the erstwhile Justice S.N. Phukan Commission of Inquiry. These tapes were handed over to the CBI after the commission was wound up.

Deposing before the court, the commission’s secretary, Mr S.K. Dasgupta said out of the entire lot of tapes submitted to the commission, 18 had been sent for forensic examination to London. He said no other than Justice Phukan and himself had excess to the tapes when they were in the commission’s custody.

Earlier, the defence counsel, Maj R.S. Randhawa (retd) raised objections to the prosecution changing its counsel. He also objected to the court changing the prosecution officer on the grounds that he had met the officer repeatedly during hearings by the Phukan Commission and that the officer was aware of his defence strategy.

The defence counsel also sought time to cross-examine the witnesses as advance notice under Army Rule 135 was not given to the defence. The prosecution said that information about production of witnesses was made available to the defence during hearings on the accused’s plea to stay the GCM proceedings before the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.


Governor greets Punjabis on Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) today extended greetings to all Punjabis living in the country and abroad on the eve of Baisakhi.

In a message, General Rodrigues said Baisakhi had a multi-faceted importance. It marks the ripening of the rabi harvest, a time of great joy for the farmers to gather the fruits of their labour.

The Governor further said that this auspicious occasion has a special significance in the glorious history of Sikhism as on this day in 1699, the 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh, founded the ‘order of Khalsa’, to fight against the tyranny of the Mughals and to preserve human and secular values.

General Rodrigues further said that this day also marked a watershed in our freedom movement as in 1919 many known and unknown martyrs sacrificed their lives on this day, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, for the attainment of freedom. This massacre gave a great impetus to the freedom movement.


Precious little done to check water contamination
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Every year so many residents — suffering from diarrhoea and other aqua borne diseases — are admitted to hospitals in Punjab during summers after consuming portable water mixed with sewage.

But the state government has so far done precious little to prevent the outbreak of epidemics by distancing sewerage pipelines from water supply lines to avoid mixing.

Sources in the Punjab Health Department admit that the possibility of an outbreak due to mixing of drinking water with sewage following leakages in pipelines cannot be ruled out this year too.

Water pipes actually pass through open drains in Patiala, Bathinda and some other cities.

Fearing the worse, the PCMS Association has decided to request the authorities concerned in the state government to ensure the adoption of preventive measures and ensure complete co-ordination among different departments.

Giving details, Association President Dr Hardeep Singh says the work of preventing leakages and creating distances between the pipelines is that of the local Bodies Department. The doctors can only generate awareness among the masses and treat the patients in case of an outbreak.

For tackling any untoward situation, complete co-ordination between Health and Local Bodies Department is as such necessary.

Quoting the example of last year, Dr Hardeep Singh says at least four doctors were indicted for outbreak of epidemic in different parts of the state, even though they were not to be blamed for the same in the absence of preventive measures.

The sources in the Health Department. meanwhile, say that the matter regarding complete segregation of pipe was taken up two years back. In fact, a demi-official letter was written by the then Secretary in the Health Department, Mr D.S. Jaspal.

The sources add that several other letters were subsequently shot to the authorities concerned. In May 2004, the need for creating a distance between the two pipelines was once again reiterated during a high-level meeting.

It was also decided to take immediate steps for plugging leakages. Directions were issued for supplying potable water through tankers in case of leakage


Curse haunts farmer’s family
Seven deaths leave villagers shocked
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Gajewas (Samana), April 12
The villagers here say the curse of former owners of this land continues to haunt the family of Mr Sadhu Singh. The former owners were Muslims who were reportedly forced to leave the village in 1947. They are said to have given their gold and money to Mr Sadhu Singh for safe keeping. They returned after a spell of 12 years to reclaim their belongings but were turned back.

Following this, Mr Sadhu Singh brought 90 acres of land but one calamity after another befell his family. Till now seven members of his family have committed suicide by jumping into the Bhakra, the latest being his daughter - in - law and two grand daughters. While the body of his daughter - in - law was recovered yesterday, that of his two grand daughters were recovered last night from Jortian village near Khanauri.

Mr Sadhu Singh’s tale of misery is a long one. In 1997 one of his daughters and his grand daughter committed suicide by jumping into the Bhakra canal. The daughter had come to ask for money from her father and when she was refused, she had to face humiliation from her in - laws. Faced with such a situation, she took a Tempo and jumped into the canal near Nabha with her daughter.

In 1999, one of Sadhu Singh’s sons, Suraj Bhan, committed suicide in a similar manner. Villagers say Suraj Bhan had to give around Rs 600 to a drug peddler and when he did not get his regular supply of opium he committed suicide.

The latest incident of suicide in the family occurred when Suraj Bhan’s wife Harjinder asked her father- in- law for money claiming her daughters aged 19 and 17 were approaching marriageable age. Not only was she refused any help, the family patriarch transferred a major chunk of his land to one of his younger sons and grandson. This created friction in the family ending in the disappearance of Harjinder and her two daughters, Mandeep and Nirlep.

The parents of Harjinder had been combing the canal since the past one week for clues of their daughter as well as grand daughters. While Harjinder’s body was discovered near Mansa on April 8, that of the two girls was discovered last night near Jortian village. Villagers said Harjinder tied the hands of both the girls before sending them to their death in the canal.

Both the bodies recovered yesterday were brought to the Government Rajindra Hospital today for post mortem by a board of doctors. Meanwhile, in Samana town today more than 100 villagers from the native village of Harjinder held a demonstration demanding that a case of murder be registered against Mr Sadhu Singh as well as the latter’s brother, Mr Gurbachan Singh. They also submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Sub- Divisional Magistrate.


PUDA’s action angers residents
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
“We would prefer death to being homeless”, says septuagenarian Balbir Kaur, a resident of Dhobiana Basti, whose house has been taken over by PUDA for the construction of the Ring road here.

Talking to The Tribune, Balbir Kaur said she had been residing in the locality for the past two decades. She rued that PUDA had not given them justified compensation and they had only been paid for the rooms they had constructed earlier and not the whole building. She said they had raised five more rooms a few years back. She said her diabetic husband was mentally upset and he accepted the compensation without consulting anyone.

“PUDA officials locked my home yesterday. While my son and grandchildren have gone to a relative’s place, both of us are putting up in a local gurdwara,” she said. Balbir Kaur has kept her household goods at her sister’s house.

Hardam Singh, a frail looking elderly man, was looking for a rented accommodation in the locality. He is a daily wager, while his two sons work at a shop. Hardam said he was paid a mere Rs 53,000 for his five-room house, of which he was asked to return about Rs 12,000 as “some tax”. His entire belongings were dumped in a single room and he had been told to make alternative arrangements today. His family, which includes his two grandchildren, has also taken shelter at a gurdwara. They alleged that they were forced to take the compensation and leave their houses.

They said officials told them that their houses would be demolished after April 15 once the police force was relieved from a Baisakhi fair. Sources said about 80 per cent of the locality’s population was poor. They said 50 houses had been identified for acquisition, of which 14 families had already been awarded compensation.

Residents of the locality also protested against PUDA in front of its office on the Bhagu road last evening.

Meanwhile, the Additional Chief Administrator, Mr Kirpal Singh, said PUDA’s role in this matter was only limited to land acquisition. He said only those houses were being acquired which had come under a survey conducted by the PWD (B&R). He said the affected people were being awarded compensation as per the government rates. He said the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board would undertake the construction of the road. 


Society commends Bansi on pagri issue
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 12
Savera, a society for creating social awareness, which is working against gender discrimination and female foeticide, today appreciated Mr Bansi Lal, former Chief Minister of Haryana, for tying the pagri to his granddaughter, Shruti Chowdhary, at a function held at Bhim Stadium, Bhiwani, yesterday to pay homage to Surender Singh.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Ajay Bagga, general secretary of Savera, said the old-age practice of tying the pagri to the eldest son of the deceased led to gender discrimination. Mr Bansi Lal’s decision to tie the pagri to Shruti needed to be emulated by others in society.

Dr Bagga and his wife Mrs Jai Shree have already authorised their elder daughter Aastha Bagga to perform their last rites after their death.

Savera started the campaign against female foeticide and gender discrimination on Punjab Day, 2004, by organising a public function at which Swami Agnivesh, Chairperson of the United Nations trust fund on contemporary forms of slavery spoke on ‘Parents, have a heart for the daughter.’ Since then, Savera’s representatives have been calling upon religious leaders visiting Hoshiarpur and urging them to appeal to their followers not to indulge in female foeticide.


Goods worth lakhs burnt in fire
Our Correspondent

Firemen extinguishing the fire that broke into a godown of a tent house located in Caliber Market in Rajpura
Firemen extinguishing the fire that broke into a godown of a tent house located in Caliber Market in Rajpura on Monday.

Rajpura, April 12
Goods, including carpets, curtains, tents and other items worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a fire that broke out in a godown of a tent house located in Caliber Market last night.

Mr Jeevan Sood, a shopkeeper of the locality, noticed flames billowing from the godown and he informed family members of Mr Ranjit Singh, the godown owner. Family members reached the spot and subsequently the Fire Brigade was informed.

Two fire engines along with half a dozen firemen fought the fire for over 30 minutes. Owners of the nearby shops also helped the firemen in extinguishing the flames.


PSEB staff stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 12
Members of the PSEB Employees Joint Forum staged a dharna in front of board’s office in protest against the move of the management to unbundle the board.

A large number of employees from the border zone, north zone, west zone and the non-operation circles took part in the dharna and blocked traffic on the Mall road.


high court
Notice issued on Kahlon’s petition
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for May 20 on an application filed by former Punjab Rural Development Minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

In his application, Mr Kahlon, who is facing trial in the court of Special Judge, Ropar, in a case relating to alleged irregularities in the selection of panchayat secretaries by the previous Akali government, has challenged the legality of the May 2, 2003, notification issued by the Punjab Government.

Through the notification, the government had handed over investigation of the matter to the CBI. However, the applicant has claimed that the Punjab Vigilance Bureau has already presented a challan against him in the same case. Further proceedings in the case were sometime back stayed by the Supreme Court.

The applicant has stated since he has already been investigated and challaned in the case, a second inquiry does not make any sense. He has sought quashing of the notification.

Today, Mr Kahlon’s counsel senior advocate H.S. Mattewal and advocate Gurminder Singh told the Bench headed by the Chief Justice that he was being harassed only due to his political differences with the ruling party. They stated that the CBI had also registered an FIR in the matter and summoned the applicant to Delhi for questioning.


Punjab Agro not buying mustard, allege farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
A group of farmers from Baho Sibia village today alleged that Punjab Agro was not buying their mustard yield and they were compelled to sell it off to private firms.

Talking to this reporter,a farmer,Gurdeep Singh, alleged that Punjab Agro had not made arrangements for the purchase of mustard produce and they were forced to dump their stock at the shop of an arhtiya who was now seeking a commission of 2.5 per cent from them.

He alleged when they asked Punjab Agro to pay the commission, the agency denied the same. Another farmer, Avtar Singh, said Punjab Agro officials had come to them at the time of sowing mustard and assured them of buying it at Rs 1,700 per quintal. They said they had bought mustard seed from the agency at Rs 450 per kg hoping for its smooth procurement.

On the other hand, the Punjab Agro District Manager, Mr Narinderjit Singh, said the farmers from Baho Sibia had approached him yesterday and they seemed to have been instigated by some people.

He said Punjab Agro was procuring its contracted crop - Hyola 401 at its fertiliser sale centre at the Grain Market and proper arrangements were also made for the same.

He said Punjab Agro had asked the farmers to sow this variety of mustard whose MSP had now increased to Rs 1,700 per quintal. He said they were purchasing mustard directly from the farmers and there was no place for middlemen in the deal.

He said cheques were being issued to the farmers on the same evening. He said paying commission to arhtiyas was not in their system. Punjab Agro inspector Sukhdev Singh Walia said he had also written to the Secretary of the Market Committee regarding the farmers from Baho Sibia. He said till now they had purchased 125 quintals of mustard and the permissible limit of moisture was 6-8 per cent.


2 killed, 13 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 12
Two persons were killed and 13, including three women, were injured when a Haryana Roadways bus (HR-55A-9798) collided head on with a truck (PCR-4869) near the Darapur Chowk bypass, Tanda, 32 km from here, this morning. All the injured passengers were admitted to Civil Hospital, Tanda. It is reported that the bus was going from Jalandhar to Pathankot and the truck was coming from Pathankot.

According to police sources, the deceased were identified as Jia Lal Gupta, son of Hans Raj Gupta of 35, Ashok Nagar, Shahdra, Delhi, and Nikka Ram, driver of the truck and resident of Nurpur Abanna in Kapurthala district.

The injured were identified as Kamla Kanta, wife of Jia Lal Gupta, Radhey Sham Tiwari, son of Kamal Tiwari, and his wife, Indu Bala, all of Delhi, Dev Raj, son of Bhagat Ram, Parshotam Lal, son of Diwarka Dass, both from Jammu, Champa, wife of Piare Lal of Kathua, Hans Raj, conductor of the bus, son of Ganpat Rai, Yashpal, driver of the bus, son of Hira Lal, both from Bhiwani (Haryana) and Hans Raj, son of Hari Ram of Pathankot.

In another accident, Karnail Singh, son of Dalip Singh, a resident of Sikri village, was crushed to death by a bus (PBO-06D-5374) of a private transport company at Adda Saran, about 25 km from here, last evening.


4 buyers of fake certificates held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 12
With the arrest of four buyers of fake certificates/ degrees by the Malerkotla police today, the total number of arrested persons in the case of fake certificate/degree racket, busted by the police a few days ago, has risen to nine. The names of four arrested buyers of the fake certificates/ degrees are Kulwant Singh (Sandaur), Jasbir Singh (Kalyan), Balwinder Singh (Acharwal) and Bhajan Singh (Ahmedgarh).

The police had earlier arrested Amar Singh Katil, head of the gang of fake certificates and degrees, Gurmail Singh, Karamjit Kaur, Bhupinder Singh and Pawan Kumar, all members of the gang.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Sangrur, said the police had seized 155 fake certificates/degrees from members of the gang so far. He said these fake certificates/degrees included certificates and detailed marks-sheets of Class V, VIII, X and XII examinations of the Punjab School Education Board, certificates of Class X and XII examinations of the CBSE, degrees of BA (I, II, III) of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

The SSP said the police had also seized two computer sets, one printer, one CPU, two scanners and CDs from the arrested gang members. He said the police had seized all these things from a house, situated in Habowal Kalan (Ludhiana), where the gang members had been preparing fake certificates and degrees for a long.

He said the gang had been active for the past about 18 years. He said though there were 13 members of this gang, the police had succeeded in arresting five so far.

The SSP said Amar Singh Katil, the gang leader, was a proclaimed offender (PO) and had been selling fake certificates and degrees for Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 while he had sold the fake D. Pharmacy degrees from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.50 lakh. He said Amar Singh Katil had also sold a degree of D. Pharmacy to Surinder Singh who was now running a medical store.

Besides, the gang was selling fake certificates to travel agents for sending the aspirants abroad.


3 nabbed for looting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 12
The district police today claimed to have busted a gang, which used to loot people on the pretext of doubling their money.

Jarnail Singh, a resident of Kale village, Kuldeep Singh of Kotla Doom and Gurpreet Singh of Bama village falling under Jandiala Guru Police station were arrested by the police at a naka at India Gate. The police has recovered Rs 1.98 lakh and one country made pistol, live cartridges and a Maruti car and scooter.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, in a press conference here today said that the accused had looted about Rs 2 lakh from Paramjit Singh Pamma and his uncle Amrik Singh of Shakri village in Tarn Taran. Pamma had lodged a complaint in this regard.

He said the accused used to call their “clients” to selected places and when they gave money for doubling, they rose “fake alarm” of arrival of the police and decamped with the money.

He said Pamma had met Jarnail Singh on their way to Hazoor Sahib. Jarnail Singh assured Pamma to provide fake currency double the amount given by him. He said Pamma met his uncle Amrik Singh who had collected Rs 2 lakh by selling a piece of land.


Five hurt as truck operators clash
Ashok Grover

Jalalabad, April 12
Two brothers, Surinder Singh and Bhupinder Singh, and their nephew, Gagandip Singh, were seriously injured following a clash between two rival factions of the local truck operators union here this morning.

A dispute over transportation tenders for the ongoing rabi crop is stated to be the cause behind the clash.

Mr Surinder Singh, whose both legs suffered fractures in the clash, while talking to mediapersons accused a close relative of the state forest Minister and local MLA, Mr Hans Raj Josan, was behind the incident. He alleged when he was driving out of his house in his car Mr Raj Baksh, president of the local truck union, accompanied by 10 persons carrying iron rods and sharp-edged weapons, dashed his Bolero jeep into his car.

He was then dragged out and beaten up. His brother and nephew were also severely beaten up and attacked with sharp-edged weapons when they came to rescue him.

He charged the local police with having a bias. He said neither an FIR had so for been lodged nor his statement recorded. He also accused hospital officials of being indifferent to his plight.

When contacted, Mr Gubhej Singh, SHO, said the doctor at the civil hospital had told him in writing that the injured were not in a position to have their statement recorded.

He said as soon as they were in a position to give a statement action would be taken against the guilty.

Sarvan Kumar and Jagdish Chand, both of whom were injured belonging to the other faction, said when they were inspecting the special railway rake Surinder Singh and Bhupinder Singh attacked them all of a sudden, resulting in their injuries.


Bank defrauded of Rs 70 lakh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 12
A local bank was allegedly defrauded of about Rs 70 lakh by a resident of the Dhann Mohalla locality and his four family members, who allegedly attained a loan by presenting “fake” land registration deeds to the bank authorities.

The local police has registered a case against Deepak Kumar, a resident of the Dhann mohalla locality and four of his family members under Sections 420, 406, 409, 465, 467, and 471, IPC on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Bardana Bazar branch of the State Bank of India.

The accused, according to the complaint, had taken a loan of Rs 70 lakh in 2001 after presenting registration deeds of two pieces of land at Lidran and Randhawa Masandan villages to the bank. But after some time, the flow of instalments was stopped. At this, the bank examined the land records and found that the deeds were fake and the accused were not present in their house.


Imposters rob woman
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 12
Posing as power meter readers, two thieves broke into a house in the Shahid Udham Singh Nagar locality here today and decamped with cash and jewellery worth lakhs of rupees after beating up and locking up a woman and a migrant labourer in the house.

Ms Kamal Moti, the wife of a factory owner, Mr R.S Moti, got suspicious and tried to shut the door. They pushed her aside, entered the house and brandished weapons. The youths locked her up in a room. A migrant labourer, Ramgopal, who heard her cries tried to help her. But the youths tied him up and took away cash and jewellery.


Flesh trade racket busted
Tribune News Service

Kharar, April 12
The Kharar police today claimed to have busted a flesh trade racket in Sahora village near here. According to the police four persons, including two men, allegedly involved in the racket were arrested from a hotel in the village on the Chunni-Landran road. The police said both men and one of the women belonged to Ludhiana while the other woman belonged to Dhuri in Sangrur district.

The four, according to the police, were nabbed with the help of two constables who posed as customers and approached the four in the hotel. The rest of the police team raided the hotel and nabbed the four exchanging money with the decoy policemen.

A case has been registered by the Kharar police.

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