P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ropar police in Delhi to get Hawara
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 19
It won’t be an easy task for the Ropar police to bring the main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case, Jagtar Singh Hawara, from Delhi where he will be produced in a court tomorrow. The reason being more than 10 teams of police officials, including from Ropar, Chandigarh and Delhi, will make their claim to get his custody from the court in the cases pending against him in their respective areas. Hawara was at present in the custody of the Delhi police in connection with the cinema bomb blast case and his police remand will end tomorrow.

A senior Punjab police official associated with the investigative team which had arrested several persons linked with Hawara, told The Tribune that the Ropar police had procured production warrants against Hawara in two cases pending him in the district and had left for Delhi.

The police seeks Hawara’s custody in connection with the recovery of explosives, including RDX and PENT, arms and ammunition from his two associates. Besides, Hawara is also the main accused in the bomb blast that took place in the dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarewala in Nurpurbedi town few months ago. While the Chandigarh police seeks his remand in the Beant Singh assassination case and the jail break case.

The Ropar police had arrested two persons, Swaran Singh and Paramjit Singh, linked with Hawara on June 15 from Kharar and Morinda.

During interrogation, the accused confessed that Hawara had handed over the explosive material to them after his escape from Model Jail, Burail. The two had also confessed that Hawara had hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Bhaniarewala and had planted a time bomb at his dera.


Warrants against Hawara issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
A local court has issued production warrants against Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) India chief Jagtar Singh Hawara in the case of tunneling his way out of Burail Jail. The warrants were issued on the request of the Chandigarh police, which had sought Hawara’s custody to interrogate him.

The team led by DSP, Mr B.D. Bector, would seek the remand of Hawara. On January 22, 2004, Hawara and his three accomplices had tunnelled their way out of the jail.

Accused in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, Hawara and two of his associates had been lodged in the high-security Burail Jail in Chandigarh, last year.


Hawara’s aide arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 19
The police has arrested Amrik Singh Ratakheda who reportedly had links with Babbar Khalsa International chief Jagtar Singh Hawara. He was allegedly hatching a conspiracy.

The Phul police has registered a case against Ratakheda under Sections 25, 54, and 59 of the Arms Act after some pistols were seized from his possession.

Sources said the police might conduct raids at some places tonight. After escaping from the Burail jail, Hawara had reportedly spent the first night with Ratakheda who was in the Mehteana area at that time. The sources said the police had also got some evidence that pointed to Ratakheda’s presence at Hawara’s marriage.

The pistols seized from him had been kept at a village in Fatehgarh Sahib district. The house where these arms were kept reportedly belonged to another Hawara aide.

One of the pistols was found in a book that had been cut out and it hinted to some big plan.

The police had arrested Ratakheda on the night of June 14. The CIA staff had also rounded up Ratakheda’s other associates — Anokh Singh, Kuldeep Singh, and Harjinder Singh.

During interrogation, Ratakheda had revealed that they were about to form a new faction of the Damdami Taksal and it was to be announced on June 18. The Ratakheda group was peeved with the Damdami Taksal as it had declared Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a martyr while his faction believed he was alive.

Ratakheda was produced in a court at Rampura Phul today and he has been remanded in judicial custody till June 24.


Cops close in on Hawara aides
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali/Patiala, June 19
Even as the Ropar police today left for New-Delhi to bring chief of the Indian chapter of Babbar Khalsa International Jagtar Singh Hawara to Punjab for interrogation, the network of the Babbar Khalsa rebuilt by Hawara in Punjab in the past one year seems to be falling like a pack of cards.

With the arrest of Baljit Singh, the area commander of the militant outfit in Patiala, along with another associate, Gurjant Singh, today, the Punjab police claims to have closed in on the second-in-command of the BKI, Gurdeep Singh, and the two jailmates of Hawara — Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora.

However, as the story of how openly and freely Hawara was operating across Punjab in the past one year unfolds, with each arrest it becomes more and more difficult for the Punjab police to explain its negligence.

Stating that most of Hawara’s associates were still in Punjab, the SSP of Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, today pointed out that it was a matter of days before the entire gang of Hawara associates was busted. “However, the key person remains Hawara who would be in our custody for questioning in the next few days. A team of 30 persons in a large convoy of vehicles has left for New Delhi to bring back Hawara to Punjab for interrogation. The team is being led by an SP and a DSP,” said the SSP.

The Patiala police today nabbed Baljit Singh, known as Bhau in the criminal circles of Patiala and Rajpura, who had, along with Hawara and Gurdip allegedly attempted to kill “controversial” Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawale in a bomb blast at Dhamana village in Ropar on January 9, 2005. Other than this, Baljit Singh who was also known as Mota Singh, Kuljinder Singh and Bai had been reportedly involved in cases of kidnapping and dacoity in the area.

According to the SSP of Patiala, Mr A.S. Rai, Baljit Singh had started as a parking contractor in Chandigarh and has a checkered criminal record. Baljit, son of an Army officer, was first booked for an economic offence by the Chandigarh police in 1994 when he failed to execute a parking contract for the PGI. “Then he was booked for rioting in Patiala in 1997. He surrendered in 2001 and was sent to Burail Jail where he came in contact with Hawara. Baljit came out of the jail in 10 months and got involved with the Tota gang of Chandigarh with whom he indulged in a highway dacoity in 2003.”

“Hawara, following his escape from the jail, contacted Baljit in July, 2004. Hawara started having regular meetings with Baljit, Gurdip and Sukhdev Singh and declared Baljit as the area commander of the BKI for Patiala, Sirhind and Sangrur. 

Sought by Delhi, Punjab, UT cops
The SSP said there would be more than one claimant, asking for Hawara’s remand in the court tomorrow in New Delhi. “The Delhi police crime branch whose remand of Hawara is ending tomorrow is expected to cooperate with the Punjab police. But the Delhi police special branch might also ask for Hawara’s remand for questioning. The Chandigarh police is also expected to be there but it has production warrants for June 22. The Punjab police production warrants for June 20 and 21.

“Though there are more cases for which Hawara is wanted in Punjab, we would be asking for a remand on the basis of these fresh cases that had been registered against him,” said the SSP.

The four would meet at Khanna and even at the McDonald’s restaurant in Doraha,” said Mr Rai.

Mr Rai added that Baljit was instrumental in getting Hawara married to a minor girl of a village in Dhuri, introducing Hawara as Sahib Singh, his NRI brother from California. Baljit Singh arranged for a house for Hawara in Ahlowal road where he shifted on May 7. Hawara reportedly got married on May 11 and moved in with his wife. “The two shopped for household goods for the next few days, including a large TV and other items they needed. A Hyundai Accent car was also bought by Hawara during this period. The idea was to show his would- be in-laws that he was indeed an NRI with a lot of money who was here to marry,” said Mr Rai.

He lived in the house for at least 10 days before he left for Samrala where he was allegedly being sheltered by Hardeep Kaur. Hawara’s wife was sent back to her parent’s place. Hawara was caught by the Delhi police while he was on his way to get his wife from the village, said Mr Rai, adding that Gurjant who lived in a nearby house on Ahlowal road kept a watch on Hawara’s house. “We have questioned the landlord of the house where Hawara lived but it seems he did not know that Hawara would be occupying it. He gave it to Baljit on rent,” said the SSP.

Hawara reportedly paid over Rs 7,000 a month to Baljit for his assistance and also gave him a pistol that was recovered by the Patiala police today. “Hawara had promised to give Baljit sophisticated weapons and ammunition but only after they succeeded in a big incident,” said Mr Rai. The police is on the lookout for another associate of Baljit — Jassa Singh of Fakkan Majra village on the Patiala-Sirhind road who was allegedly assisting Hawara and Baljit in Patiala.

Yesterday, the Punjab police had attained the production warrants for Hawara for his trial in the courts of Ropar and Kharar in different cases. A Kharar court issued production warrants against Hawara for June 21 in a case lodged under various Sections of the Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act on June 17. The warrants were issued on the request of the Kharar police, which had sought Hawara’s custody to interrogate him. A Ropar court had also issued production warrants for June 20 against Hawara in connection with a bomb blast case in an attempt to kill “controversial” Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawale at Dhamana village in Ropar on January 9. A case against Hawara in this regard was registered in Ropar on June 15.


2 gurdwaras searched for Hawara aides
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 19
The Police today searched Gurdwara Patshahi Dasvi in Gidderbaha and Gurdwara Gandi Sahib for aides of BKI chief Jagtar Singh Hawara.

The SGPC senior vice-president, Mr Gurpal Singh, said the police teams in civil dress searched both the gurdwaras in the wee hours today.

The police said they were looking for a Hawara aide Sukhmandar Singh.

The SSP, Mr L.K. Yadav, said gurdwara incharges were also detained.


Militancy can’t revive: Barnala
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 19
Expressing concern over the recent activities of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Tamil Nadu Governor, said there was no possibility of revival of militancy in Punjab as peace-loving people of the state had suffered a lot for 10-12 years.

Mr Barnala was speaking at the 93rd Shahid Parivaar Fund function organised by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers here today to distribute relief worth Rs 22.50 lakh among 150 terrorist-affected persons.

Mr Barnala said militancy had shattered Punjab for over 10 years and incidentally he was the Chief Minister of Punjab during those “black days” and a number of measures were taken to put an end the menace of terrorism.

Pointing towards the recent activities of the BKI in the state, he said people should be alert about designs of those who wanted to destabilise the peace of Punjab.

He also commended the contribution made by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers towards the tsunami-hit people.

Mr Prithvi Raj Chauhan, a union minister of state attached with the PMO, said after Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir was also progressing on the path of peace. “The Central Government is treading with caution and is serious about the threat of terrorism. While peace is being discussed at all levels, including with Pakistan, yet there has been no let up in the government’s resolve to weed out terrorism from the valley, said Mr Prithvi Raj Chauhan.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the fight of terrorism was a fight between pen and gun but ultimately they had failed in their nefarious designs. “Actually, spectre of terrorism was created by foreign powers so that people of India could be made to fight with each other and process of development of India could be derailed. Terrorism could only be contained with the active public support,” said Mr Hooda.

Later, talking to mediapersons about the issue of separate SGPC for Haryana, Mr Hooda said formation of a separate SGPC in Haryana was a matter of Haryana-based Sikhs and it was being looked into by the Chatha committee and it would be set up after the panel report.

Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, hoped that the state was going to see peace flourish in the valley shortly.

Mr Sat Mahajan, a minister of Himachal Pradesh, said Himachal Pradesh would keep extending message of peace as people of the hill state were peace loving.

Mr Amarjit Samra, Revenue Minister of Punjab, said leaders had sacrificed their lives to put an end the menace of terrorism.

BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana, journalist Kuldip Nayyar, writer Sayyad Naqvi, communist leader Mangat Ram Pasla, senior BJP leader Baldev Raj Chawla also spoke.


BKI was recruiting volunteers from West: police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
To carry out strikes on human targets in the country, the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) was preparing volunteers in the West. They were supposed to land in the country a few days before carrying out the strikes.

The identity of the individuals, who were being motivated to become volunteers in the USA and Germany, was being kept a secret due to operational reasons. Even the top BKI activists in Punjab were not aware of their identities.

They were to land only after the BKI chief in India, Jagtar Singh Hawara, signaled his “masters” in the west that the logistics and strategic planning had been accomplished.

During interrogation being carried out jointly by the central intelligence agencies and the Delhi police, Hawara disclosed that picking volunteers from outside would mean that in case of seizure of the arms and busting of the local network before their mission, little information about the identity of the volunteers would keep them out of the hands of the police.

It may be mentioned that in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh, a Punjab police constable Dilawar had been motivated to become a human bomb.

Sources in the Punjab police said the theory being given that Hardeep Kaur and Sukhdeep Singh had been identified as human bombs did not hold much ground. It is learnt that the fact that Hardeep Kaur and his cousin were to act as human bombs has reportedly been denied by Hawara during interrogation.

The sources disclosed that for carrying out a recee of the house of Jagdish Tytler in Delhi, Hawara had used the contacts of a Sector 34 based resident, Mohinder Singh. Mohinder Singh, who had met Hawara in Burail Jail, arranged the travel for Hawara by requesting a Chandigarh-based family to give him lift in their car while going to Delhi.

The BKI chief had also sent a close aide for recce of K.P.S. Gill while he was at a meeting in Kolkata.

The sources disclosed while remaining in Punjab, Hawara channelled funds and material. He moved in Ropar, Fatehgarh, Ludhiana and Patiala districts after escaping from the jail. His aides managed to bring RDX from Kashmir and through other parts of border with Pakistan.

After the arrest of Hawara from Delhi, the consignments have been moved out to hideouts of sympathisers of the BKI. The total consignment of RDX could be above 50 kg, said the sources.


Babbar Khalsa man held
Tribune News Service

Mohali/Patiala, June 19
Even as the Ropar police today left for New-Delhi to bring Babbar Khalsa International chief Jagtar Singh Hawara to Punjab for interrogation, the Patiala police today arrested Baljit Singh, the area commander of the militant outfit in Patiala, along with their another associate Gurjant Singh.

Baljit Singh alias Mota Singh alias Bhau had, along with Hawara and Gurdip Singh, the second in command of the BKI, attempted to kill “controversial” Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawale in a bomb blast at Dhamana village in Ropar on January 9, 2005.

According to the police, Baljit was instrumental in getting Hawara married to a minor girl of a village in Dhuri, introducing Hawara as Sahib Singh, his NRI brother from California. The SSP Patiala, Mr A.S. Rai, said Baljit Singh arranged for a house for Hawara on the Ahlowal road. Hawara got married on May 11 and moved in with his wife. He lived in the house for at least 10 days before he left for Samrala where he was allegedly being sheltered by Hardeep Kaur.


PSEB staff told to ensure customer satisfaction
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Following increasing number of complaints regarding ill-treatment by electricity board officials, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has issued special instructions to its field officers to regularly visit their areas, particularly during the paddy season, and ensure the satisfaction of customers.

The PSEB has instructed the field officers to co-ordinate with sarpanches and panches and get detailed information of electricity complaints.

Sources said the anomalies were detected during surprise checks conducted by PSEB officials in Sohana subdivision. One JE and two assistant linemen were even suspended on Friday for being absent from duty without information.

The villagers in the area apprised officers about their complaints. They also complained that officials did not visit their areas and their complaints were not even registered and listened to.

It was also observed that complaint registers were not being maintained properly at complaint centres.

As a special meeting conducted at Patiala to review the situation yesterday the administrative member, Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, directed the officials concerned to maintain complaint registers properly and ensure the speedy redressal of complaints.

The instructions have been sent to all Chief Engineers and SEs in the distribution wing of the PSEB.

Instructing the officers to coordinate with sarpanches and panches of villages, he said they should also taken down telephone numbers of the sarpanches and panches.

He said senior officers of the PSEB would conduct surprise checks and strict action would be taken against officials found neglecting their duty.

Earlier, in view of the soaring temperature, the PSEB had instructed field officers and employees to stay put at their headquarters for the redressal of the customers’ complaints.

Meanwhile, the sources informed that the board was trying to procure more power to meet the increased demand during paddy season.

While official cuts of three to six hours are being imposed in various areas, apart from cuts on industry, supply to agricultural consumers is, reportedly, still insufficient in various villages. Against the promised eight hours of power supply, the PSEB has managed to provide power for only seven hours in most of the areas.


Electricity board to gather consumers’ views
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 19
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities will launch a survey to know views of consumers on the board’s functioning to make amendments accordingly.

Initially, the PSEB authorities will elicit views of its consumers of all categories on the functioning of its employees, status of power supply, quantity and quality of power supply. Survey may also take views of consumers on the unbundling of PSEB.

“The PSEB will make survey about consumer’s satisfaction on its functioning. It will also know about what kind of services are being provided to consumers by the PSEB and what kind of impact these have been leaving on them,” said a senior functionary of the PSEB today.

Survey, perhaps first of its kind in Punjab, will bring out real feelings of people on the functioning of PSEB to the fore and it would help PSEB authorities to make field staff more consumer-friendly to bring down complaints drastically, he added. The PSEB authorities will to make drastic changes in its functioning if suggested in the survey report.

The PSEB had engaged the ORG-MARG company, famous for poll survey, for carrying out the survey. Format of the survey, is yet to be finalised.

ORG-MARG officials have been supplied information connected with consumers of all types including domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural, its offices, ‘complaint’ centres and projects.

The senior functionary revealed that there were 55 lakh consumers of the PSEB in the state and the ORG-MARG company would be covering about 70,000 consumers as sample. He added that it was yet to be seen whether survey should be conducted in summer and winter seasons or only one survey would be sufficient. The survey will be cover all 17 districts of Punjab.

He added that tenders were floated by the PSEB for inviting companies to carry out such type of survey and the ORG-MARG, which offered cheaper rates had been selected out of total three companied which made bids. The PSEB will pay Rs 30 lakh for the survey.

The survey will benefit PSEB authorities to know complaint of consumers and it would be easy for the authorities to solve these, said the senior functionary.


Cops, motorists pass by dying couple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 19
The callous attitude of the police and that of people caused the death of a couple who were in pain due to an accident near Jantipur village yesterday.

Arranging aid for the victims and their succumbing to their injuries on the way to hospital happened before Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a senior BJP leader, who was heading for Pathankot from here.

She said around 3.45 p.m. they reached the Jantipur road and noticed the severely injured Amrik Singh, ASI, and his wife. They were aghast to see that people were passing by, unmindful of the accident. Her repeated pleas to nearby residents fell on deaf ears as they said if they provided their vehicles, the police would harass them by asking them to file various papers.

Ms Chawla said then she spotted a private jeep in which some policemen and civilians were traveling, but they said they were on duty to seize illegal liquor. They declined to help without even knowing that the dying man was an ASI posted at Batala.

Her continuous calls to different district officers failed to elicit response. In the meantime, Amrik Singh regained consciousness and muttered his house number. Ms Chawla called his house and got to know that he was an employee of the Punjab police. She immediately rang up the SSP Batala who rushed a vehicle to the spot.

However, it took too much time and Amrik Singh had bled profusely. She said throughout he was crying “Koi mainu chukko te sayee” (at least please pick me up). She said his wife had sustained head injuries. 


Bodies of youth, woman found from box
Suicide pact of lovers suspected
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 19
The police recovered two bodies from an iron box at Mianpur village, falling under Mulepur police station, last night. The dead have been identified as Baljit Singh, 21, a resident of Mianpur village and Kanu Rani, a resident of Rajpura.

According to the police, both were lovers though woman was already married. Both allegedly consumed some poisonous substance and shut themselves in an iron box.

The police said family members of Baljit Singh informed it last evening that the bodies of an unidentified woman and their son Baljit Singh were lying in a box at their residence at Mianpur village. The police tookout the bodies from the box.

The police said family members of Baljit Singh had gone to attend some function. When they returned in the evening they found the doors of the house locked from inside. After getting no response they broke open the door. They found the lock of the iron box broken. When they opened the box they were stunned to see the bodies of Baljit and the woman.

The police took both bodies to the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, for post-mortem. The bodies were later handed over to the families of the dead. Though none was willing to talk about the reason behind this extreme step, the sources said both were friends. The girl had got married. She came to the residence of Baljit yesterday and both allegedly committed suicide.

Dr Jindal, who conducted the post-mortem, said the viscera had been sent for chemical analysis. A case has been registered under Section 174, IPC.


Liquor prices up by 20 pc
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 19
Liquor prices in Punjab continue to rise, thanks to the monopoly control of the liquor trade. There has been more than 20 per cent increase in the prices of liquor as compared to last year.

The liquor trade in Punjab has been highly politicised and the politicians of the ruling class are also partners in the trade as a result of which prices have not witnessed any fall. Rather the liquor contractors maintain that the prices will rise further. The liquor consumers are feeling the pinch of the high prices and in rural areas, the liquor consumers are turning against the government, admit the liquor contractors.

More than 70 per cent of the liquor trade in Punjab is being controlled by just one liquor baron.

Politicians of the ruling class have their share in the trade in districts of Patiala, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Sangrur and Ludhiana. Interestingly, the state government has not fixed the maximum prices of liquor but has fixed the minimum price.

Enquiries made by The Tribune have shown that the economy brand of liquor like Bagpiper is being sold for Rs 220 against Rs 190 to Rs 200 per bottle. The official price is Rs 150 per bottle. The same is true for other brands too.

Even the prices of Scotch Whisky have also witnessed a rise of Rs 1000 to Rs 2500 per box. Black Dog is being sold for Rs 1700 per bottle against Rs 1600 of the last year.

Country-made liquor is sold for Rs 130 per bottle against Rs 90 per bottle of last year.

Beer is being sold for Rs 75 per bottle against Rs 60 per bottle.

The liquor contractors have raised their own private armies to check the illegal sale of liquor or smuggled liquor. The men of the liquor contractors raid the marriage palaces and even the private premises to check the alleged illegal sale of liquor.

Some of the liquor contractors also put up nakas on highways to check the smuggling of liquor. Enquiries show that smuggling from Chandigarh to Punjab and other states has decreased now as the same has come under the control of the “liquor king” of Punjab. But some smuggling is taking place from Himachal Pradesh.

Enquiries reveal that the sale of liquor has not come down but the number of bottles being sold is definitely less because of the high prices of liquor.

It is pertinent to mention here that there was only 1.7 per cent increase in the excise revenue of Rs 1400 crore this year.

Against this the increase in excise revenue of Haryana was 17 per cent although the liquor vends were auctioned there on similar pattern. The sources close to the liquor contractors concede that the revenue in Punjab could also increase manifold if the state government had not encouraged monopoly in the trade.

Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh are the only four states in the country where auction of liquor vends takes place. All other states have now introduced a licensing system.


PMET paper leak: hunt on for suspects
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 19
After the arrest of Surinderpal Kapoor, Superintendent of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), in connection with the PMET paper leak, a special investigation team (SIT) of the Vigilance Bureau has intensified its search for K.P. Singh, Assistant Registrar-cum-PA of the Vice-Chancellor of the university to get more breakthrough in the episode.

During the past two days, it has conducted a number of raids at his residence and the university complex to nab the senior officer, but in vain. The university staff has also shown its helplessness to give any detail about his whereabouts. His absence is not only causing delay in the investigation but has also made his integrity doubtful, who filed an FIR with the local police on June 6 regarding the paper leak.

According to Mr Chaman Lal, SP, (Vigilance), the SIT team was also facing hardships to interrogate Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of the university, who got admitted to Fortis Hospital due to some medical problems as told by experts of the hospital.

He said the doctors refused the investigating team to talk to the Vice-Chancellor. Moreover, the non-availability of the keys of the offices of both the Assistant Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor were also creating hurdles in checking the record to pursue the matter further, he added.

Meanwhile, the team took Kapoor and the other three accused — Buta Ram, Rakesh Kumar, peon and helper, respectively, of the university and Ramesh Kumar, driver of the Vice-Chancellor — who were allegedly involved in the episode to Chandigarh after getting their police remand till June 22 for further interrogation. However, the other three namely Balwinder Singh of Muktsar, Kamaljit Singh of Ferozepur and Nanad Kishore, an exployee of local Government Medical College and Hospital, who were involved in the paper purchase case, were sent to judicial custody till June 22. It is learnt that Dr Vinod Khanna of Ferozepur, who was also involved in the paper purchase case, and was referred to PGI, Chandigarh, on June 15, had returned last evening and later remanded to judicial custody here.


Protest by SAD(A) men starts today

Phagwara, June 19
Activists of the SAD(A) will launch tomorrow its statewide series of black robe protest marches against the arrest of party President Simranjit Singh Mann, torturing him in the judicial custody, search of his residence and raids against other senior party leaders. The protests will start from Sangrur, said Dr Harjinder Jakhu, general secretary, SAD(A), here today.

Dr Jakhu claimed in a statement that a similar protest march would be held at Jalandhar on June 28 and Chandigarh on July 4. A memorandum would be presented to the Punjab Governor at the culmination of Chandigarh march, he said.

Party workers would wear black “cholas”,put black “pattis”(strips) on their mouths and hold peaceful protest marches against gagging of their right to speak by the Congress government in Punjab at the behest of the Badal party, said Dr Jakhu.

“Though we are underground, we are making preparation for Jalandhar protest, he declared. We are using restraint and reining in our workers despite grave provocations by the Punjab Government,” he said.


Shiv Sena burns Mann’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Pathankot June 19
Activists of the Shiv Sena today burned the effigies of the president of the SAD (A), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The activists, led by the state vice-president, Mr Parveen Minhas, gathered today at the Ramlila ground and raised slogan against Mr Mann. They also held a rally.

Sources said activists of the SAD (A) had planned to disrupt the programme but tight police security thwarted their move.

Mr Minhas, talking to newspersons, alleged that Mr Mann was again trying to communalise the atmosphere in the state. The state government was also supporting Mr Mann and news reports indicated that VIP treatment was being given to him even now, he alleged. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, allegedly took Mr Mann in his own car from Ropar to Ludhiana, he alleged, adding that Shiv Sena would intensify its agitation if the SGPC went ahead with the project of raising a memorial for Bhindranwale.


Villagers plug nine breaches in Ghaggar
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 19
After the state government failed to plug nine breaches in the Ghaggar, residents and the flood- affected farmers of four villages, Hotipur, Gular, Jogewala and Rasoli, situated on the bank of the Ghaggar in Patiala and Sangrur districts, took initiative and got the breaches plugged.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Jugraj Singh Hotipur, Chairman, Ghaggar Control Committee and a member of the Sangrur District Flood Control Committee, said due to nine breaches occurred during floods in the Ghaggar the previous year from Khanauri village to Rasoli village (a stretch of nine km), standing crops in about 35,000 acres in Shutrana (Patiala) and Lehragaga (Sangrur) Assembly constituencies destroyed. Despite the hue and cry by the affected farmers to get these breaches plugged, nothing could be done by the government in this direction. At last the affected villagers of the four villages took initiative and plugged these nine breaches, including the Pannewali breach, the Chhinianwali breach, the Jhabrawali breach and the Sampuran Singhwali breach, he added.

Mr Hotipur said though the authorities of the Drainage Department had assured them about the plugging of the breaches, nothing could be done. The affected farmers of four villages plugged the breaches by spending about Rs 1 lakh.

Mr Hotipur expressed the hope that with the plugging of these nine breaches in Ghaggar, standing crops in about 30,000 acres would not suffer any damage in case of normal rains this year.

Mr Hotipur also demanded installation of a regulator, on the pattern of a regulator on the Jhambowali choe, on the Momian drain near Rasoli village to save standing crops in thousands of acres during floods. He said the residents of the area were also demanding completion of the Momian drain at the earliest. He also demanded financial assistance for those people who had contributed for plugging the breaches. 


AMIE: postpone promotional committee meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
A deputation of the AMIE (India) Engineering Association, Punjab today met, Mr K.K. Sachdeva, officer on special duty of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to seek the postponement of the meeting of the Departmental Promotional Committee (DPC) fixed for July 23 for the promotion of sub-divisional engineers by the Irrigation Department.

Mr Surinder Singh Kaler, spokesman of the association, said the department was going ahead to promote diploma holder junior engineers to the posts of the SDEs in gross violation of settled rules and regulations. He said the 31 per cent promotion quota of junior engineers was quashed by the court in 1998.

He said 45 AMIE qualified junior engineers, who were entitled for promotion, were being denied promotion on one pretext or the other even as a number of posts were lying vacant in the department.

He said the department had fixed the meeting of the DPC to promote diploma holder junior engineers whereas the vacancies, which would be filled, had occurred when old rules were in force under which AMIE qualified junior engineers were eligible to be promoted. He has asked the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter and do justice to the AMIE qualified junior engineers.


Delhi Sikh panel funds Punjab advocates
To file petition in France
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
As the SGPC allegedly refused to meet the expenditure to file a petition on the turban issue in the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has come forward to help the two Sikh advocates in this connection.

Dr M.S. Rahi, an advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who this evening left for France accompanied by other advocate, told TNS here this morning that the SGPC had held a number of meetings with him for filing the case in various courts of Europe to get the ban imposed on tying the turban in schools there lifted. “I was even taken as a member on the committee set up by the SGPC on the ‘kirpan’ issue in Denmark”, he added.

Dr Rahi said that he had been preparing the petitions over the past three months. “I have made a lot of research on international declarations such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National, or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities-1992 and so on to make relevant portions of these a part of the petitions to filed in the European courts. Besides it, a book entitled ‘Removal of Turban in France’ had been authored by me which would be attached with the petitions for reference purposes to enable the judges concerned to understand the whole issue.

He said the SGPC had promised to pay the money to get the book published and also to get it translated in French for distribution among various human rights organisations and also among members of the European Union. However, the SGPC had even refused to give money spent on the book, he added.

“Now the Delhi committee has given the required financial assistance to me in this connection”, he added. The President of the Delhi committee, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, was generous enough to even get some other material published in French for distribution among various human rights organisations there. He said that the SGPC had “let him down on this issue”.

Dr Rahi said that he accompanied by Mr Paramjit Singh Khaira, former Advocate General of Punjab, would file the petitions in both the European courts.


Use of pesticide containers for water storage worries officials
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Worried over growing use of pesticide and insecticide containers for storing drinking water in rural areas, the Punjab Government has decided to launch a concerted awareness 

The problem was apparently alarming in some parts of the Malwa belt and Ropar district where incidence of cancer has been on the rise. Sources in the Department of Health and Family Welfare maintain that besides using pesticide/insecticide containers for storage water, washing of fertiliser bags with potable water, especially at hand pumps, was other area of concern.

Recent findings of the Centre for Science and Environment that cocktail of pesticides was found in the blood in villagers of Punjab had sent alarm bells ringing. Even the Punjab Pollution Control Board had in a study found that the potable water samples taken from various parts of the state were unfit for human consumption.

Leakages leading to mixing of sewerage with drinking water at various places was other reason for growing number of drinking water samples failing tests. During the first quarter of the current year, out of 1063 drinking water samples taken, 333 were declared unfit while results of 251 samples were still awaited.

With summer at its peak and demand for drinking water rising, the state government has taken a series of steps to check the spread of water-borne diseases.

To ensure quality potable water, the Punjab Government had set up a task force headed by the Secretary Health and Family Welfare, Mr D.S. Guru. In its first report submitted to the state government , the task force has highlighted various grey areas where agencies like local bodies, water supply and Sewerage Board, Health and Family Welfare, Rural Water Supply and others have been asked to be vigilant.

According to Mr Guru, the Health and Family Welfare Department has initiated awareness drive to caution farmers and producers against using open sewerage nullahs and ponds for washing fruit and vegetables before bringing them to the market.

Water supply agencies have been instructed to ensure proper chlorination of drinking water besides maintaining sufficient stock of chlorine tablets. They have also been told not to permit tullu pumps on direct drinking water supply lines besides ensuring that water connections do not pass through manholes and open surface drains.

Chlorination and disinfection of open wells was another step taken in rural and remote areas to ensure that people do not consume contaminated water from these sources.

Mr Guru said each department had been asked to set up a task force whose report would be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that during summer and monsoon months, supply of quality potable water was maintained throughout urban and rural Punjab.


4 of family killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 19
Six persons, including four of a family, were killed when a speeding truck hit two scooters simultaneously on the Moga-Dharamkot road last evening.

Sources said the truck (PB-04G-9767) left Moga at around 5.30 pm. On reaching near Dharamkot the truck reportedly went out of control and hit two scooters coming from the opposite direction.

Rajkumar, a resident of Moga, his wife, Rani, and their son and daughter, who were on their way home on a scooter, died on the spot.

Another scooterist, Darshan Singh of Talwandi Sabo, was killed in the accident, while his pillion rider Vijay Kumar of Bathinda sustained serious injuries. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Moga, where he died in the evening.


Constable dies in bus
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 19
Ajay Pal Singh, a constable attached with the IG, Punjab (Traffic), died while he was travelling in a Punjab Roadways bus which was on its way from Amritsar to Chandigarh here today.

The driver of the bus said Ajay had boarded bus from Jalandhar and went unconscious near Ropar. Thereafter he was brought at the Ropar Civil Hospital, where he was declared dead. The exact cause of death could not be ascertained but the doctors have recovered a number of unnamed capsules from his pocket.


Infant dies of diarrhoea
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 19
A one-year-old infant, Chhoti, who had been suffering from diarrhoea died here today.

The girl who hailed from Muradabad had been ill for the past three days. The family of the deceased lives in a colony near Ananj Mandi.

Another three-year-old girl suffering from diarrhoea was admitted to the local Civil Hospital here today.


Bar on power cuts to courts
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 19
On a civil suit filed by the local District Bar Association through its president R.P. Dhir on June 14, 2005, Mr Kishore Kumar, Civil Judge (Senior Division), has restrained the local PSEB authorities from imposing any cuts in the power supply to the subordinate court as well as to the premises of the District & Sessions Judge here during working hours.

He has further directed that if any repair work is to be done, it should be done after the working hours or preferably on a holiday.

The compliance of this order be made under Order 39 rule of the CPC and the plaintiff is directed to get effected the service of this order on defendants at his own responsibility otherwise exparte injunction order granted shall be vacated automatically.

The decision was taken keeping in view the orders as well as instructions issued by the Punjab Government to the PSEB authorities on the basis of orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of September 10, 1998, for a regular supply of the electricity to the subordinate courts without any failure as it causes delay in administration of justice.


Farmers to gherao power offices today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
Various organisations of farmers owing allegiance to the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) will organise dharnas in front of offices of Executive Engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board tomorrow to focus attention of the government on their long outstanding demands.

According to Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, General Secretary, BKU (Ekta), Mr Kanwal Preet Singh Pannu, Convener, Kisan Sangarsh Committee, and Mr Lehembar Singh taggar, General Secretary, Punjab Kisan Sabha, farmers have been forced to resort to agitational approach because of poor and erratic power supply to the farm sector.

The main provocation for the farmers has been discrimination in cuts in power supply to rural and urban consumers. They are demanding 24-hour supply to domestic consumers and a minimum of 16 hours uninterrupted supply to tubewells.

Other major demands of farmers include scrapping of proposal of the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board, unconditional release of all farmers arrested by the police at Tapa and other places, arrests of farmers for loan recoveries be stopped and free supply of water and power be made to farmers as was mentioned in the election manifesto of the Congress.

The farm leaders also demanding that all pending power and water bills outstanding against farmers be waived and the recent hike announced in the power tariff be withdrawn.

They are also demanding action against police officials responsible for attempted robbery at the house of Satnam Singh Pannu.


Save cotton from pesticides, says Devinder Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 19
The Kheti Virasat Mission has demanded emergency steps in the cotton belt to check blatant use of pesticides in the region.

Addressing a joint press conference, chief of the Forum of Biotechnology and Food Security, Dr Devinder Sharma, and mission’s director, Umendra Dutt, said widespread use of pesticides was leading to fatal diseases among people of the cotton belt and pesticides had also seeped into agricultural land poisoning food products.

Dr Sharma said Punjab’s soil had turned poisonous in the past four decades, water table had gone down drastically, and the water quality had become poor. He said when entire world was against bt cotton the state government had opened gates for it. He termed bt cotton harmful for the environment. Mr Dutt said agricultural experts and the agricultural university became “mute spectators” to blatant use of pesticides and today the farmers were paying its price. Farmers of cotton belt were suffering from a diseases like cancer. They held the agricultural university responsible for the plight of the state’s farmers.

Mr Dutt said the cotton belt had reached such a situation where the government should declare an emergency. All funds and plans would have to be reviewed. He said a major chunk of funds should be allotted for conserving environment and measures taken for the treatment of those affected from diseases caused due to pesticides.

He also demanded the setting up of International Health Crisis Management Task Force in Punjab. He said farming based on pesticides had created a vicious cycle in the cotton belt.


Amritpal promoted

Chandigarh, June 19
The Punjab Government has promoted Mr Amritpal Singh Sarkaria as Deputy Director and posted him in the State Transport Directorate here. — TNS


One arrested with 5 kg opium
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 19
The police has arrested a person and seized 5 kg of opium from his possession at a checkpost near Dumwali village last evening.

Sources said the Sagat SHO, Mr Balwinder Singh, had set up a checkpost. He stopped a Santro car (PB-03G-6396). The police searched the car in the presence of the DSP (D), Mr Sukhpal Singh, and recovered 5 kg of opium from it.

The driver, Jaspal Singh, who is also the car owner, has been arrested. A case has been registered against him under Sections 18/61/85 of the NDPS Act.

During interrogation he said that he had been smuggling opium for the past three years. He used to supply opium to his clients in Barnala and Ludhiana.

He had bought the recovered stock from Malkit Singh of Jandawala (Haryana) at Rs 23,000 per kg.

He has been remanded to police custody for further interrogation.


Gang kingpin arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 19
The naka team of the local police nabbed Paramjit Singh, alias Tota, a resident of Fatehpur, with a .12-bore pistol and two live cartridges from the Chabal-Amritsar road last night.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, said here today that the accused was the head of a seven-member gang indulging in a number of looting, thefts and murder cases in the state. The SSP further said that five of the members of the gang, Jaspreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, Surjit Singh, Manjit Singh and Manmohan Singh, are already behind bars, while the seventh member, Jograj Singh, alias Joga, has been declared a proclaimed offender by the court.

The SSP said that the gang also involved in the murder of Lalit Kumar, a jeweller of Amritsar.


BEd aspirant alleges mismanagement
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 19
The alleged mismanagement of Punjabi University, Patiala in conducting B.Ed. entrance test has come to light.

Deepali Malhotra of Batala, who is a candidate for the entrance test to be held on June 22, 2005, said here today that the university charged Rs 50 in the form of postage stamps for forwarding the roll number, but it failed miserably in delivering this same.

When Deepali did not get the roll number till yesterday she contacted the university authorities, who directed her to collect it from Jalandhar. But when Deepali went to Jalandhar, she was informed that her roll number was not there and was sent to Gurdaspur. Not finding her roll number even at Gurdaspur, nervous Deepali contacted the Office of the Controller of Exams where she was instructed to collect it from Amritsar where again she could not find it.

With barely three days left for the exam, now she has been told by the university to collect her roll number from Chandigarh on June 21, 2005.

Visibly upset, the young girl wondered why she had been harassed for many days, the time could which she could have spent in preparing for the test.

Deepali said she was not the only candidate who had not got the roll number, there were numerous other candidates in the state who were running from pillar to post to get their roll numbers. 


Nursing students allege cheating by off-campus centres
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 19
After veterinary pharmacists it is nursing students who have been allegedly duped by off-campus centres of the deemed universities.

Rajni, a resident of Pathankot, took admission in B.Sc. Nursing in Bhai Kanhaiyyaji Para Medical Institute. The institute was affiliated to an Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, a deemed university based in Sardarshahar, Rajasthan. For two years she kept on attending classes and appearing in semester examinations paying hefty fee for the degree.

Now after two years she has come to know that the All-India Nursing Council rejected affiliation to the deemed university in November 2003. However, the institute authorities did not inform the students about the development. They kept on charging hefty fee from them.

Now after investing their two academic years the students have come to know that their entire money and labour had gone in vain. Like the said institute, there are many other institutes who are duping the students in the state, Rajni told.

The sources told The Tribune after the Nursing council rejected the affiliation to the deemed university, they changed name of the courses being run by its off-campus centres run by private persons. In a letter written to off-campus centres on 1.11.03 the university authorities directed them change the name of degree being run by them B.Sc (Nursing) to B.Sc (Community Health). The letter also assures off-campus centres that the name of the course would once again be changed to B.Sc (Nursing) once permission was granted by the Nursing council.

After the university communication many of the institutes stopped running the course. However, some of the institutes kept on running the course thus duping the students. 


Forum seeks Punjabi University VC’s ouster
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 19
The Forum for Education Action and Reform (FEAR) at its meeting held here today asked the Centre to remove Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor S.S. Boparai.

In a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the forum asked her to take corrective measures before it got too late.

In a press note, forum president Amarjit Singh Dhillon said the decision to award a three-year extension to the VC was premature and unprecedented. He sought a CBI inquiry into reported arrest of terrorists from the campus.

In the letter, the forum members demanded that universities be headed by eminent academics. Mr Dhillon added that similar views were expressed by Prime Minster Manmohan Singh during the recently held Assembly elections in Haryana.

The forum said it was unfortunate that the university had been headed by a retired bureaucrat since 1999.

It said the situation had changed after the recent developments involving university authorities reportedly harbouring terrorists.

Supporting statements were also issued by allies of the Central Government — the CPI and the CPM — who demanded the removal of the VC for his alleged links with terrorists.

FEAR said various news reports appearing in the media relating to the developments in the university had also been sent along with the letter to Sonia Gandhi, which included news reports that mentioned Jagtar Singh Hawara making telephone calls to his contacts in Pakistan through PCOs outside the university campus.

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