P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Creation of vet varsity mired in controversy
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
The decision to set up the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences university could be a major source of embarrassment to the Punjab Government given the fact that the university was being set up in one of the constituent colleges of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), being governed by the Centre.

The issue, that has raked a controversy among political and academic circles, is being debated as why the Punjab Government has decided to establish the university in one of the constituent colleges of the PAU, which was set up in 1970 by the Union Government. The PAU was setup by passing the Haryana and Punjab Agricultural Universities Act, 1970. As the PAU is governed by the Centre and was set up under an Act passed by Parliament, any change in its constitution would require a special amendment. However, the same was not thought necessary by the state government, which has caused resentment among a large section of people, including employees of the PAU.

Given the situation, pressure from political and academic circles might force the government to think over its decision again. A section of those, who are having interests in the PAU, may approach the court to stall the setting up of the veterinary university.

Mr Amrit Pal, general secretary, P.A.U. Employees Union, while talking to The Tribune decided to seek opinion from the legal experts to know whether the setting up of the new university by the state government was legally feasible.

Apart from it, the union would launch an awareness campaign against the bifurcation of the PAU by holding a meeting in front of the College of Veterinary Sciences on April 25 and subsequently a general body meeting of the union would be held on April 26 to work out the further line of action.

Dr A. S. Joshi, former president, Punjab Agricultural University Teachers association (PAUTA), said the association would be holding a meeting on April 28 to work out the strategy to oppose the setting up of the veterinary university dividing the PAU by the state government.

Serious doubts have also been raised over the intention of the state government over the accordance of autonomous status to the veterinary university by all concerned as under Section 47 of the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Bill 2005, powers to run the affairs of the university have been given to the Punjab Government.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Fisheries and Tourism Minister, Punjab, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Tainted Mandi Board GM reinstated
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 22
In an interesting case showing the extent to which the Punjab Government is serious about implementing its much-publicised “anti-corruption” drive, a general manager of the Punjab Mandi Board, who was caught red-handed by the Vigilance Bureau while allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 50,000 last year, has been reinstated by the Punjab Government. The VB is yet to file its challan in the court and another departmental inquiry is pending against the officer.

Mr Sikandar Singh, general manager (marketing), was arrested by the VB from his office in Mandi Board at Chandigarh on July 13, 2004, while he was allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 50,000 from the then secretary, Market Committee, Amritsar, Mr Baljit Singh.

Subsequently, he was suspended by the Financial Commissioner (Development). But, the VB authorities, who were awaiting sanction for his prosecution from his appointing authority, the Financial Commissioner (Development), have got a jolt as, instead of granting sanction to the VB for the prosecution of Mr Sikandar Singh, the office of the Financial Commissioner (Development), it was learnt, has rewarded him by reinstating him. So much so that Mr Sikandar Singh joined duty as the GM (Marketing) at the board headquarters in Chandigarh today.

The VB, it was learnt, had completed all formalities and requested the office of the Financial Commissioner (Development) about two months back to grant permission so that Mr Sikandar Singh could be prosecuted and a challan could be sent to the court. But the VB, revealed a top official, had not got any reply from the office of the Financial Commissioner (Development) and it got a rude shock when it learnt that the officer had been reinstated. “Anyway, it does not make any impact on our investigation and we will do the needful in the case as we were doing earlier.

We can put the challan to court only after getting a formal sanction from the Financial Commissioner (Development),” said a senior VB officer.

What is more shocking is that another departmental inquiry is pending against Mr Sikandar Singh and he is facing charges like misuse of staff car, going abroad without getting ex-India leave permission from the competent authority and a case pertaining to charging of House Rent Allowance (HRA).

The inquiry had already been completed by Ms Indu Mishra, Joint Director (Administration) of the Punjab Mandi Board. But despite that no chargesheet was allegedly issued by the office of the Financial Commissioner (Development) so far. Mr Sikandar Singh, it was learnt, had pleaded with the inquiry officer that two inquiries could not go side by side. At this, Ms Indu Mishra, who was entrusted with the probe by the chairman of the Mandi Board, had asked the VB to clarify whether it was conducting the probe on its part or not about a month back, but she did not get any reply from the VB. “I have again asked the VB yesterday to clarify whether they are conducting their inquiry or not . I am awaiting their answer,” commented Ms Mishra.

Interestingly, Mr Darshan Singh, SP, Vigilance Bureau, who had arrested Mr Sikandar Singh, from his room had also arrested his predecessor, Darshan Singh Aulakh, from the same office in 1997 while he was allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 30,000 in his capacity as a DSP of the VB.


SI gets police remand for Dalit’s death
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 22
Even as Sub-Inspector Satnam Singh was arrested yesterday for the custodial death of a Dalit at the sadar police station, the other two accused, including SHO Jasbir Singh and owner of the Punjab Trading Company, Mahinder Pal Aggarwal alias Mindhi Shah, are still at large.

The police claims to have conducted raids at various places to arrest the other two but has not been able to trace them. The arrested SI appeared in the court today and was given police remand for a day.

The SDM, Mr Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, who has been inquiring into the matter, took the statements of various doctors at the Civil Hospital today. He said he would take another week before giving in the report. The SDM also refused to divulge anything about the post-mortem examination as he said its report had been sealed and would be sent to the Human Rights Department through the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma.

Meanwhile, Mr Arun Pal, SSP, has initiated an independent inquiry into the matter. Mr Gurmit Singh, SP (D), and Mr D.S. Dhillon, DSP, Kapurthala, have been told to come up with their findings. Both the officers had recommended the registration of a case under Sections 302 and 120 B of the IPC yesterday against the three accused on the complaint of the family members.


Badungar maintains ‘studied silence’ on dossier issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, executive member of the SGPC under whose supervision the dossier for seeking heritage status for the Golden Temple was sought from Unesco, is fighting a lonely battle to justify the document that was rejected by the executive body yesterday.

The volte-face on the part of the SGPC has established the “haste” shown by Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, predecessor of Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, in sending the dossier to Unesco without taking the community into confidence. Though the present executive committee has described the dossier as “anti-Sikh” , Mr Badungar has refused to comment.

He said, “I don’t want to speak on this issue’. Does it mean that he has accepted in toto what his successor said about the dossier that it was part of a “deep-rooted” conspiracy against Sikhism ? Bibi Kiranjot Kaur has expressed surprise over the “studied silence” of Mr Badungar.

Meanwhile, Mr Hardip Singh Mohali , member, SGPC, has urged the Jathedar Akal Takht, to summon the editors and co-editors of the dossier who had caused embarrassment to the community.

Dr Jasbir Singh Rai , international advisor to the Jathedar Akal Takht, who was the first to raise an objection on the dossier, while talking to The Tribune from England said that his stand stood vindicated .The World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR) also noted with satisfaction that the executive committee of the SGPC recommended withdrawal of the dossier. The WSC-AR has been advised by Unesco’s World Heritage Centre that only the State Party of India (Government of India through its Permanent Delegation to Unesco) has the authority to withdraw this nomination.


SGPC’s rejection of dossier “unfortunate”
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 22
The factional fight within the Shiromani Akali Dal and SGPC has started reflecting on the working of the SGPC. In a bid to consolidate her position, Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, while rejecting the dossier on Dabar Sahib said a shrine founded by the Guru himself who described it as ‘Dithe Sabe Thaon, Nahin Tudh Jeha (I have seen all places but none is like this) does not need any recognition from any international agency. She might have succeeded in satisfying factional interests without taking into consideration the long-term loss.

Commenting on the decision of the SGPC, eminent Sikh scholar and a former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, and a member of the expert committee on the dossier, Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, said today that the decision was unfortunate in so far as the international interests of the Sikhs were concerned. “It is not only Harmandar Sahib which should be declared a world heritage site, but the community could have also taken up the case of Nankana Sahib. Such an attempt could have solved the issue of Sikh shrines in Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

Mr Kapoor further pointed out that the world heritage site status for Harmandar Sahib followed by grant of similar to Nankana Sahib could have brightened and the future of the Sikhs. The region would have become a ‘no war zone’ which could have ensured lasting peace between India and Pakistan. The beneficiaries would have been Punjab and Sikhs, he emphasised. Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar) also criticised the SGPC chief and the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for rejection of the dossier.

Enquires made by The Tribune show that in 1972 UNESCO decided to prepare a list of such cultural and natural sites which could be classified as world heritage sites. Subsequently it was also decided to prepare a list of spiritual sites. It was during the tenure of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as president of the SGPC that the SGPC decided to prepare the case for the inclusion of Harmandar Sahib in the list.

The project to prepare the dossier was overseen by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a member of the executive committee of the SGPC and grand daughter of Master Tara Singh. The preparation of the dossier was entrusted to professionals based in Delhi. The SGPC paid Rs 20 lakh for its preparation while the Chadha Family Foundation based in Canada paid Rs 20 lakh.


Move to reinstate sacked SGPC secy resented
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
Loyalists of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra are up in arms against the alleged move to reinstate a former secretary of the SGPC who was sacked on charges of getting a job on the basis of a fake certificate.

The executive committee of the SGPC, presided over by Tohra, had imposed a huge fine on Mr Harbeant Singh besides sacking him as secretary. The executive meeting held here yesterday has authorised Bibi Jagir Kaur to seek legal opinion on reinstating Mr Harbeant Singh. This was the first time a senior functionary was sacked on serious charges.

Earlier, an executive committee held at Anandpur Sahib on January 19 last year had imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Mr Harbeant Singh for allegedly ‘defrauding’ the SGPC. The decision to sack Mr Harbeant Singh was taken on the basis of the report of Mr Mohinder Singh, in charge of the flying squad, and later the executive committee endorsed the decision. However, the successors of Tohra had made no efforts to recover the penalty from the sacked secretary.

The sacked secretary had failed to appear before the inquiry committee despite a number of chances given to him to clarify his position. 


Meddling in Sikh affairs Cong policy: Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 22
Ever since Independence the Union and state governments led by the Congress have been interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs and making bids to control management of various gurdwaras. Former Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal stated this while interacting with mediapersons here today.

Mr Badal said it had become a Congress policy to meddle in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. He said the Congress government had no interest in religious affairs and it was holding programmes in Muktsar with political motivation. He flayed the state government for not declaring a holiday on Baisakhi and said it shows how much the state government cares for the Sikhs.

Mr Badal stated that Master Tara Singh, who led the SAD in 1950s, had once taken out a silent protest march against the Congress government’s intervention in religious matters of the Sikhs. He said Master Tara Singh held a meeting with the then PM, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, and signed a pact called Nehru-Tara Singh Pact, as per which there should be no government interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs.

He said the government had also issued a notification in this regard. He said the successive state governments of the Congress had made bids to take over key religious places of Sikhs, but failed. He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was only emphasising on the Congress policy by announcing parallel programmes to mark the tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’ martyrdom in Muktsar.

Mr Badal said the Amarinder government had dissolved the legally constituted Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, but the High Court reversed its decision and reinstated it. He said the Congress also interfering in the SGPC executive elections and they were forced to take the SGPC members out of Punjab.

Talking about a hike of Rs 10 in the MSP of paddy, Mr Badal said the state government was applying salt to the wounds of the state’s farmers. He said never during the Akali regime was this hike less then Rs 30.

He said the government should give compensation to the farmers whose wheat crop was destroyed in fire incidents. He said the latest controversy on the Nanavati Commission report pointed to the fact that some Congress leaders “were involved in 1984 riots”. He demanded that the commission report be made public.


Driver’s family yet to get pension, job
Mukerian rail accident
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 22
Polio-afflicted Karamjit Singh is tired of making rounds to the offices of the Railway Department. Four months after the death of his father, who was a driver of the ill-fated Jalandhar-Pathankot DMU that met with an accident at Mukerian on December 14 last year, Karamjit is yet to get a job in the department, as was committed to him by railway officials.

Not just Karamjit, the entire family of Avtar Singh including his widow, Ms Charanjit Kaur, are distraught with the way the department officials seem to have forgotten the promises that were made to them at that time.

The family is also yet to get a monthly pension that was assured to them by the Railways.

The family members have been running from pillar to post to get their work done but nothing seems to be in sight for them. Elaborate official formalities and red tapism is forcing their sweat out of their guts, but to no avail, they believe.

Says Ms Charanjit Kaur, “We have visited every official concerned. We have discussed about the matter with all high-rank officials my husband worked with but it has only been plain, simple assurances that we have been given every time.”

She adds, “My son Karamjit has passed his BA examination. His father always remained worried about him because of his physical disability. After his death, we were told that one of my four sons could get a job in the department. Since my other three sons are busy with their respective jobs, we all decided to push his case so that he could earn a good job on compassionate grounds. But the matter is being delayed endlessly.”

“Karamjit had once even been called for a written test that was held at Ferozepore headquarters in February 16. Several other candidates had also appeared for the test on similar grounds. An interview was also conducted the same day. Almost two months have passed, but the department is yet to take a decision on holding any appointments,” she added.

Prolonged delay and apathetic attitude of the department has also left the hopes of Mr Sarabjit Singh, the eldest son, shattered. “My father has been the winner of ‘Best locomotive driver award-2003’ that was presented to him by the Divisional Railway Manager of Ferozepore.

But this is the kind of treatment that is being mete out to us after his death,” he told as he pointed out towards his garlanded picture hanging on the wall of the room.

But yesterday’s rail accident at Samalaya has rekindled the hopes of Karamjit as he said that the officers would once again be reminded of the four-month old accident and various commitments that had been made to the family at that time.

While the local officials were not available for comments, all efforts to call the DRM, Ferozepore, in his office proved futile at the officer was reportedly busy with a cultural show that was to be held tonight. The officer also did not answer his cell phone, even as it was dialled repeatedly.


Accounts panel focuses on jail irregularities
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
The functioning of the Punjab Jails Department is in a mess. There have been scandals. A few cases of irregularities and malfunctioning have been highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee of the state Vidhan Sabha.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, has submitted a report to the state Assembly. The committee, having 16 MLAs as its members, had put questions to the department while examining its functioning in the light of reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.

The Open Air Jail, Nabha, produced 1,37,768 litres of milk on its dairy farm between 1996-97 and 2000-01. It was sold at a rate ranging between Rs 4.50 and Rs 7 per litre. However, during the same period, the District Jail, Nabha, which is at a short distance from the Open Air Jail purchased 9, 650 kg of milk powder( equivalent to 77,200 litres of milk) which cost between Rs 12.50 and Rs 13.75 per litre. The report says that it resulted in an avoidable loss of Rs 5.55 lakh. This has been admitted by the department stating that the possibility of transferring the milk from one jail to the other was not explored.

The department in a written reply stated that the necessary instructions for the collection of fresh milk from the Open Air Jail had been issued to the district Jail, Nabha. But now the dairy farm had been closed. However, the committee was not satisfied with the reply furnished by the department. It has asked the authorities concerned to fix responsibility for the loss of Rs 5.55 lakh to the department.

Interesting facts are also highlighted in the report with regard to the closed-circuit television system installed in the Central Jail, Patiala, at a total cost of Rs 61.11 lakh. The system was installed in the two jails in June, 1994, and August, 1997, respectively. However, it was declared non-functional in September, 1996, and January, 1999, respectively, due to the lack of repairs, resulting in idle investment besides non-achievement of the objective of closely monitoring the activities of the prisoners.

The Central Jail, Amritsar, in its reply to the committee said that four cameras and six closed-circuit TV sets had been installed at the jail. The cameras and the TV sets were not in working order but were repairable. The cameras could not be repaired due to the unavailability of funds.

The committee has now asked the Amritsar jail authorities about the period during which the cameras and the TV sets had not been in working condition. The Central Jail, Patiala, has been asked whether the nine cameras have been got repaired and made functional.

The committee has also pointed out extra and avoidable expenditure on the purchase of firewood, etc. Between April, 1996, and March, 2001, three central jails — Amritsar, Bathinda and Patiala — purchased 51,636 quintals of firewood valued at Rs 80.06 lakh from the local market at rates higher than that of the Punjab State Forest Development Corporation and without even obtaining the non-availability certificate from the corporation. It resulted in an extra expenditure of Rs 18.12 lakh.

The Jail Department in a written reply stated that central jails required a heavy quantity of firewood which could not be supplied by the corporation. As such, the purchase of the wood was made through the district purchase committee.

The committee has asked the authorities to explain the reasons and fix responsibility for the failure to obtain the non-availability certificate from the corporation that resulted in the extra expenditure.


Akali Dal all set to expand base in urban areas
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 22
After the announcement of organisational set-up of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by President Parkash Singh Badal a few days ago, the party has now started concentrating on expanding its base in various cities and towns to strengthen the SAD in the urban areas with a view to giving a “crushing” defeat to the Congress in the next Assembly elections in the state.

Mr Parkash Chand Garg, newly appointed vice-president of the SAD, said here on Wednesday the Congress party was of the firm view that it had a strong position in the urban areas, so the SAD could not harm it in any way in the cities and towns.

He claimed by expanding its base and strengthening its position in the cities and towns during the next two years the SAD would certainly be able to demolish the citadel of the Congress in urban areas. He said the SAD would also give due representation to all communities at the district level and in city-level organisational set-up.


BJP leader flays PM on Kashmir issue
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
Senior BJP leader and former MP Lala Lajpat Rai today criticised the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for his shift in the traditional stand of the government on Kashmir. He observed that by not asserting the Indian position that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India during his deliberations with the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, the Prime Minister had “betrayed the nation”. He said Dr Manmohan Singh owed an explanation to the nation as what were the compulsions that led to “almost foregoing our claim over our own land”.


People exhorted to plant trees
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 22
A district-level function was organised to celebrate “World Earth Day” at Dera Mir Miran village here today. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, presided over the function.

Addressing a gathering after planting trees, he said though development was necessary, it should not come at the cost of human lives.

He stressed the need for saving resources like water, air, etc. He said due to the large-scale felling of trees, ecological imbalance had been created.

He highlighted the benefits of trees and urged people to plant trees in their respective areas.

He said the district Forest Department had achieved the target of planting 1.25 lakh trees. NGOs were coming forward to get plants from the department. The plants were being providing at subsidies rates under the farm forestry scheme, he added.

He said to make the district a green one, a tree plantation drive under the “Plant Tree, Save Fatehgarh Sahib” scheme had been launched. Educational, religious, social and even political parties had been involved in the drive. Various panches, sarpanches and other dignitaries also addressed the function.


Cycle rally marks World Earth Day
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 22
The Garden Environmental Society in collaboration with the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) observed World Earth Day at the Baradari gardens here today.

A cycle rally was taken out by students of Atma Ram Kumar Sabha School who pedalled their way through the city holding banners and placards propagating the message of curbing pollution.

A painting competition was held, in which Harleet stood first while the second and third prizes were bagged by Ismat Pal Singh and Jagjit Singh, respectively. Consolation prizes were given to Jatindera Singh, Anamika and Sunita.

A declamation contest was held, in which Priyanka bagged the first prize while Rishi and Usha Rani came second and third, respectively.

Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, urged various NGOs to come forward to grow more trees so that pollution levels decrease. He added that the only way to arrest the depleting water table levels was by planting trees in a big way.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Mr Malvinder Singh, Member Secretary of the PPCB, ADC Shiv Dullar Singh Dhillon, AMD of the PRTC Manjit Singh Narang and Deputy Director (Horticulture) G.S. Cheema.


Govt pacifies employees on privatisation issue
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 22
The Punjab Government today tried to pacify employees of the PSEB, Tourism Department and teachers on the issues of dismantling of the PSEB and privatisation of education and tourism. It organised a conference in this regard for various unions of Punjab at the local thermal plant.

With a view to taking the employees into confidence, the Political Secretary of Chief Minister, Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, discussed the matter with representative of the Punjab Power Employees Federation, Punjab Pardesh Employees Union, Punjab Tourism Karchari Dal, National Fertilizer Employees Union, Nangal, Punjab Pardesh Teachers Union, Sugar Mill Workers Union Punjab, Punjab Kirti Dal and Bharti Majdor Sangh.

Mr Barsat said the Punjab government’s decision to dismantle the PSEB into six companies was urgent to increase power generation in the state. Last year, due to shortage of the power in the state, the Punjab Government spent Rs 2400 crore to purchase power to meet the demands of the people. The division of the PSEB would improve power generation, he added.

The decision of the government would not harm any employee and its position in the PSEB, he stressed. Regarding the privatisation of education, he said as such there was no move to privatise the government educational institutes but the government was looking for ways to improve conditions of education.

Regarding the privatisation of tourism in the state, Mr Surjit Singh Saini, president of the Punjab Tourism Karamchari Dal, said the employees of the Tourism Department had signed a VRS proposal on the condition that the employees should be given their dues in time. But so far, the employees of the Tourism Department who had opted for the VRS had to face humiliation while getting their dues.


Tension over possession of gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 22
Tension prevailed at Gurdwara Chhota Gurusar, Mehraj, yesterday when people from the Harnam Singh Dhooma group and residents of Mehraj came face to face over the possession of the gurdwara.

Sources said Avtar Singh Jathedar of the Dhooma group had the charge of the gurdwara after the death of Thakur Singh of Damdami Taksal. The villagers were now demanding his resignation and the appointment of Baba Sher Singh Fauji instead. They argued that Baba Fauji had played a key role in the ‘kar seva’of the gurdwara and he should be made its in-charge. Harcharan Singh Rode and Gurdeep Singh Bathinda of the Dhooma group along with their aides and people from nine panchayats of Mehraj converged on the gurdwara yesterday.

Sources said police officials, including the DSP and the SHO, had also reached the spot. However, the villagers agreed to Avtar Singh retaining on the post till May 15 but said they would not be extending any cooperation to him now onwards. The villagers have also formed a six-member committee to resolve the issue. Sources said the situation might turn tense after May 15 once the villagers start pursuing their demand again.


Pathankot to have minimum power cuts
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 22
The local residents will now be relieved form power cuts, characteristic of the rural and suburban areas of the state. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to keep Pathankot and Phagwara in A-category of cities where power cuts are kept to the minimum.

Both the cities will now to be included in the city-feeder category just like other cities such as Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar and Mohali.

Mr Raman Bhalla, Member, Administration, PSEB, gave this information while talking to The Tribune today.

Mr Bhalla said the A-categorisation of Pathankot had been a demand for long of the residents. Pathankot, with a population of about 2 lakh, was a major city of the state acting as a gateway to Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The agenda for including the city in A-category was moved by him in the PSEB. Now all the formalities had been completed and people would get the benefit this summer.

He also said that about Rs 55 crore was being spent in Gurdaspur district under the Accelerated Power Development Rehabilitation Programme (APDRP) of the Union Government. Under the programme, the old cables of the district would be replaced. Specific instructions had been given to the field officers to erect new cables in a manner that they did not cross the roofs of the houses so that there were no problems for the owners who wanted to raise additional floors.

The PSEB has sanctioned on ATM billing machine for Pathankot. The machine would be installed soon near the 132 KV substation of the city.

With the installation of the ATM machine, people would get the facility to deposit their bills at any time through the machine rather than waiting in lines at the counter. The ATM machine would remain functional round the clock, he said.

The work for the installation of 220 KVA substation at Dinanagar and 66 KV substation at Manwal was in progress. With the installation of these substations, the load on the Pathankot substation would decrease and the power supply situation would improve in the city and its surrounding areas.

The substation at Dhar has already been upgraded to 66 KV. It has improved the power situation in the most backward area of the district, Mr Bhalla said.


Colonisers pull down boundary wall
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 22
Land sharks here have once again cocked a snook at the authorities. Some colonisers pulled down over 20 feet of the boundary wall of PUDA’s colony in the Urban Estate here last night.

PUDA had reportedly constructed a compound wall around its estate about 15 years ago. However, a large portion of the wall was pulled down for creating a passage for an unauthorised colony proposed to be carved out in the vicinity of the Urban Estate in the adjoining fields, falling in Birk village. Since the proposed colony had no passage, the colonisers demolished a portion of the boundary wall of the Urban Estate in order to create a pathway for the proposed colony, which would be coming up without PUDA’s permission.

The identity of the coloniser(s) could not be ascertained. The labour engaged in levelling the fields for carving out the colony smelt a rat on seeing reporters and refused to speak out.

Meanwhile, the PUDA authorities were unaware about this case of land grab under its very nose. PUDA officials, when contacted, said the case would be inquired into.


SGPC member gets life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 22
Fast track court judge Hardayal Singh has sentenced, Harinder Rania, SGPC member from Badhanikalan in Moga, and two others, to life imprisonment in a case of murder.

Sources said Rania was accused of killing a man owing to some land dispute in 1994. Sources said Harinder Singh along with his 11 aides converged on the land of the complainant, Jarnail Singh, to take possession of it on the night of June 22, 1994. A clash between the two parties followed, in which Harinder Singh reportedly shot dead Kala Singh, son of Jarnail Singh. A case was registered against all the accused at the Badhanikalan police station in Moga. The hearing of the case was shifted to the fast track court a few days back only. The court has sentenced Harinder Singh, Iqbal Singh, and Jagsir Singh, to life imprisonment under Section 302 of the IPC and to seven-year jail term under Section 34 of the IPC, while the remaining four accused have been acquitted.


68 lakh tonnes of wheat procured
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 22
About 68 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured in the state and 75 per cent of the procurement work has been completed. Dr B.C. Gupta, Secretary, Food and Supply, stated this here today after visiting the grain markets of Bathinda and Maud Mandi.

Mr Jagpal Singh Sandhu, Director, Food and Supply, and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, accompanied him.

Mr Gupta said last year 95 lakh tonnes of wheat was procured and the state government was expecting to touch the same figure this time. He said the government’s main priority was to maintain the MSP.

He said for the first time in Punjab the FCI was purchasing 10 lakh tonnes of wheat directly and sending it to other states.

He said Bathinda’s wheat was being sent to Rajasthan.

This would check the storage problem and also save charges on wheat’s storage and repeated transportation.

He said there was 4 lakh tonnes of wheat in the state’s godowns till March this year, which was less as compared to the previous years.

Talking about the problems in lifting, he said the government agencies were carrying it out directly and there were some problems due to the maximum arrival of wheat within a short span of 15 days.

He said the DC holds a meeting of the government agencies daily to ensure that there was no problem in procurement.


Mohinder Pal Singh is OSD to CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, who was recently selected as a PCS officer through the Punjab Public Service Commission, has been appointed officer on special duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

An order in this connection was issued today by the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill.

Before joining the PCS, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh was working as Secretary to the Chief Minister.


Development works reviewed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 22
Deputy Commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia today reviewed the ongoing development works, particularly in rural areas, during a meeting of development officers of the district.

He directed the BDPOs to supervise the ongoing projects in their respective areas.

He asked the DDPO and BDPOs to get illegal encroachments removed from government lands within one month.

He also asked them to redress the grievances of people on priority basis. DDPO J.S. Cheema also addressed the meeting.


3 IAS officers given super-time scale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22
The Punjab Government has promoted IAS officers Jasbir Singh Bir, Vijay Kumar Janjua and Kirpa Shankar Saroj.

According to a press release, they have been promoted to the super-time scale of Rs 18,400-22,400 with immediate effect.


Girl complains against ‘fiance’
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, April 22
In a daring step, a local girl has waged a legal battle against her “fiance cop” who was “secretly planning” to marry another local girl. She has not only succeeded in getting the “secret marriage” cancel but also got him booked under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The girl, Kanta Devi, alleged that she was engaged on February 2, 2002, with Balwinder Kumar, who is working as a constable with the Punjab police.

At the time of engagement, gifts worth Rs 1.50 lakh were presented to Balwinder Kumar and his family members, alleged the victim.

The parents of the victim had been persuading Balwinder and his family members for early marriage but the family of the cop was avoiding marriage on the pretext that Balwinder had gone to Jalandhar for commando training.

Sensing foul play, members of the girl’s family started investigations and came to know that Balwinder had secretly planned to marry another girl. Subsequently, they complained to the police.

According to sources, the anticipatory bail application moved by Balwinder has been declined by Mr Jora Singh, Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur.


Narcotics worth Rs 19 lakh destroyed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 22
Narcotics worth Rs 19 lakh seized by the police from 1995 to 2004 were burnt as per court directions in the presence of DIG Ludhiana (Police Range) Parag Jain and SSP Surinder Pal Singh on the banks of the Sutlej here this evening.

The contraband included 12 quintal poppy husk, 60 gm smack, 1.5 kg charas and 1 kg bhang. Out of the 47 cases pertaining to seizure of the narcotics, 30 had been disposed of while 17 were still pending in various courts. Around 6 kg opium had been sent to a laboratory in Uttar Pardesh for medicinal purposes.

Giving details of the police move to check crime in the state, Mr Jain said they had launched a special drive to catch proclaimed offenders involved in heinous crimes.

In the past four months, the police had arrested 45 proclaimed offenders out of 500 in Ludhiana, he said.

Talking about custodial deaths in the state, he said they had displayed Supreme Court guidelines in police stations to spread awareness about the rights of inmates.

The police personnel had been instructed to deal with accused sensitively without the use of torture.

Other officials who were present were SP (Detective) S.S. Garewal, SP (Head Quarter) Dagdish Singh Kahlon, and DSP Sarbjit Singh.


Forest officials booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 22
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday booked the District Forest Officer, Wild Life Division, Mr Basant Rajkumar, and two wild life inspectors for allegedly defrauding the department of about Rs 13 lakh.

The accused, Mr Iqbal Masih and Mr Rupinder Singh, were nabbed red- handed while preparing bogus vouchers/mustor rolls during a surprise check at Harike on April 5.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Kashmir Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, said the accused had withdrawn Rs 7. 45 lakh and 4.50 lakh, respectively, on March 31. They took the sum to their residences instead of keeping it in the department’s chest.

However, the department got information and raided the residences of both, where they were caught preparing fake vouchers.

The Vigilance recovered Rs 4.87 lakh from Iqbal Masih and Rs 4.35 lakh from Rupinder Singh. The remaining amount was allegedly disposed of by the accused.

Meanwhile, the accused were produced in the court of the CJM where they were remanded to two-day police custody.


Three killed in road mishaps

Jalandhar, April 22
While two persons were killed and one was injured today when a tractor-trailer rammed into their motorcycle near Mandara village on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road, another cycle-borne man was crushed to death in the Suranassi area.

In an accident this afternoon, two of the three riders of a motorcycle were killed on the spot and one was injured when their bike was hit by a tractor-trailer, police sources said, adding that the injured was sent to the local Civil Hospital where his condition was stated to be stable.

The deceased were identified as Twinkle, alias Amandeep and Kapil and the injured was identified as Rinku, sources added.

All three were workers of the local vegetable commission agent and were going to their home from their workplace, sources said, adding that the bodies had been sent for a post-mortem examination and a case regarding the accident had been registered in the Adampur police station.

In another road accident, a cycle-borne man was allegedly crushed under an unidentified car in the Suranassi area, sources said adding that the deceased was identified as Sewa Singh. — PTI


Bid to break open ATM in Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 22
An attempt was made to break open an ATM of the Bank of India last night here. The ATM was installed near the Golden Temple complex. Security guard Manish Gupta who resisted the two burglars was injured in the scuffle.

The burglars tried to use the ATM card of some other bank but when they failed to operate it they threatened the security guard to hand over the keys of the machine to them. When the guard showed his helplessness they hit him with a rod and injured him.


Bathinda boy makes it to IIMs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 22
Kapil Kansal, a Bathinda boy at present doing B.Tech. (Electronics and Communication) from IIT, Roorkee, has made it to the Indian Institute of Managements, Lucknow, Indore, and Kozhikode.

Kapil intends to join IIM, Lucknow. He is also an NTSE scholar. Kapil’s father has served as a mechanical engineer at BHEL, Hardwar.


Vegetable traders protest against contractors
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 22
The vegetable arhtiyas of the local market today blocked traffic on the Dalhouise road here in front of the office of the SP, Pathankot. The traders were protesting against the alleged high-handedness of the contractors who collect market fee.

The tussle between the traders and the contractors has been going on for the past many days. The traders have been accusing the contractors’ henchmen of bullying them. They alleged that the contractors have been allotted the contract for collecting the market fee from the Pathankot market area only.

However, the henchmen of the contractors have set up illegal nakas at Madhopur on the Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal borders. They were forcibly charging money from the traders going to sell in the markets in the adjoining states. The henchmen of the contractors were allegedly intimidating the traders with guns.

Yesterday two such henchmen were caught by the traders and handed over to the police at Sujanpur. However, police officials posted there let the henchmen go and did not take any action against them, the traders alleged.

During the blockade, the traders raised slogans against the Punjab Government and the Sujanpur police. They also threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the administration failed to take action against the henchmen of the contractors.

The work for collecting market fee at Pathankot was privatised this year. In the open auction, the contract registered an increase of 131 per cent. The total market-fee collection from Pathankot was about 1.15 crore. However, in the open auction this year, the contract for collecting the market fee was awarded for Rs 3.81 crore.

The local administration officials alleged that there was a large-scale theft of market fee last year. Due to it, this year the government decided to privatise the collection of market fee. The theft became obvious from a phenomenal increase of 131 per cent registered in the open auction this year.

The traders, however, alleged that they were not averse to giving market fee at Pathankot. But the private contractors could not bully the traders and charge money from them at Sujanpur or borders of the adjoining states.

With high stakes involved on both sides, the issue is likely to generate more heat in the coming days.

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