P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Favour of Rs 40 cr to hydro company alleged
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 21
Officials and higher authorities of the Department of Irrigation have locked horns over alleged favours being given to the Hydro Power, a company raising micro hydel project on the Kotla branch of the Bhakra canal. They have written to the Chief Minister and vigilance regarding the matter.

The irrigation department officials allege that the company has been allowed to carry out work on the canal on its own in violation of the Canal Act 1873. To facilitate it the original agreement has been amended with just one company due to which the government stands to lose Rs 40 crore.

In addition to that the inspection reports of the irrigation officials regarding the below-specification works being carried out by the company on the canal are also being ignored. The sources in the department of irrigation said that the inspections were carried out by irrigation officials in May on the works being carried out by the company on the Kotla branch canal. In the inspections it has been found in many of the area poor quality of earth was put on the canal banks that was prone to breaches once the water was released in the canal. However, despite the inspections no action was being taken by the higher officials of the department of irrigation or the ministry concerned.

Kotla Hydro power under a tripartite agreement between the Punjab Irrigation department, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) was allotted the work to raise micro hydel projects on Kotla branch canal in 2001.

As per the clause 3 of the original Tripartite agreement Punjab Irrigation Department was to allow storage of water to be created in the upstream of the proposed power houses. The maintenance of canal works connected with the power house was to be done by the Irrigation Department at the expense of the company or promoter.

However, on February 25 this year the government amended the said clause 3 of the agreement to suit the company. As per amended clause the now the maintenance of the canal connected with the power houses instead of the Irrigation Department would be done by the company at its own cost.

The clause 8 of the original agreement states that the work for re-canalization was to be done by the Irrigation Department at the expense of the company.

However, as per the amended clause the company would carry out the re-canalization work on its own under the supervision of the Punjab Irrigation Department.

The sources said after the allotment of the work the Kotla Hydro power proposed to combine the micro hydel project sites allotted to it. This involved major re-canalization and realignment works of the original canal. The Punjab Irrigation Department worked out an estimate running in crores for the realignment.

As per the earlier clauses of the agreement the companies had to deposit the amount required for realignment or re-canalization in advance. To escape the huge expenditure company got the clause amended.

Besides had the Department of Irrigation carried out the work the said work the company as financial rules of the department the company was liable to pay 27.5 per cent as overhead charges of the total estimate. These overhead charges that include the labour charges, alone amount to Rs 40 crore. The amount would have gone into coffers of the government. The sources told that had the amended clauses being offered to other companies also the government would have attracted much better offers for setting up micro-hydel projects. However, the manner in which clauses of agreements have been amended later and inspection reports are being ignored to favour a company the involvement of higher authorities of Department of Irrigation cannot be ignored in the matter.


Industry flays hike in power, petrol prices
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
The steep hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and power has pushed the industry in the border area towards recession. The industrialists here claim that the present scenario was even worst than the crisis during the militancy period.

The recent hike has come as a bolt from the blue for the industry which is already reeling under doldrums.

Expressing serious concerns, Mr H.S. Makhani, honorary general secretary of the Textile Manufacturers Association said the state government was totally apathetic about the impact of the most important inputs that would cripple the industry in the area.

Lamenting the power tariff hike of more than 12 per cent, Mr Makhani said the government had not bothered to engage representatives of the industry for a dialogue about the power crisis.

Mr. Makhani added that the Punjab Government had been promising the release of capital and cash subsidy for the past eight years but had failed miserably thus blocking several crore rupees of the industry.

Mr Arwinder Pal Singh, vice-president, All India Rice Exporters Association, resented that the state government had been failed to fulfil its commitment to grant export freight subsidy for the past two years. He said inspite of the budgetary provision of Rs 50 crore for the years 2003-04 and 2004-05 the government failed to pay up. He said the exporters had made numerous representations to the Chief Minister but to no avail.

He said the highly ambitious Rs 1,100 crore special economic zone (SEZ) for Amritsar announced by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year was yet to be kicked off. He said the government seemed to be delaying the project due to its own vested interest thus depriving the holy city of its industrial glory which had suffered immensely due to lack of infrastructure.


Power crisis deepens with rising temperature
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 21
The power situation in the state today further deteriorated with the rise in the demand for power to more than 1,400 lakh units against the supply of 1,271 lakh units per day. Besides, a 50 MW hydel project of the PSEB in Joginder Nagar in Mandi today shut down for 10 days following cracks in turbine blades. The state would lose about 10 lakh units per day with the closure of the unit.

The PSEB sources said as a result of power shortage most cities in the state continued to face more than 6 hours unscheduled power cuts while in rural areas the cuts were more than 10 hours.

The sources said despite increase in the power generation by 50 lakh units for the past one week by restarting one of the unit of the thermal plant in Ropar, which had been shut for more than 25 days, there was no respite from power cuts as the demand had increased manifold.

More than 350 lakh units had been supplied to the tube-wells keeping in view the rise in power demands for paddy plantation. Besides, the domestic power consumption had been increased much more than earlier triggered by the rise in the temperature, the sources added.

At present, out of 13, 12 units of three thermal plants including Ropar, Lehra Mohhabat and Bathinda, had been functioning and contributing a total of 470 lakhs units to the state. The Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal plant, Ropar, has been contributing 300 lakhs units, 100 lakhs units from Lehra Mohhabat while the thermal plant in Bathinda had been contributing 70 lakhs units. One unit of Bathinda had been shut down for annual maintenance, the sources said.

The state had also been getting 360 lakhs units from hydel projects, including 167 lakh units from the BBMB, and another 480 lakh units from the central grid.


PSEB to act tough with striking staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
Taking a tough stand, the PSEB authorities have decided to take disciplinary and legal action against those employees who go on strike on June 22 and 23 against the partial privatisation of the board.

The authorities have also made it clear to the employee, who plan to observe strike on June 22 and 23 that they might face break in service and forfeiture of the past service.

The authorities said for any inconvenience or loss caused to public due to strike and subsequently failure in the electricity, the striking employees would be held responsible.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman, PSEB, said the pretext on which a section of the PSEB employees was going on strike on June 22 and 23 was baseless and no way related to their own service conditions.

He added that a section of the employees had been pressing the PSEB authorities to carry out all works departmentally by appointing fresh staff.

Mr Ratra said it was a known fact that the PSEB had been reckoned as the overstuffed electricity board as compared to other state electricity boards and hence it was not in a position to recruit additional employees.

He said as far as the genuine demands of the board employees were concerned, the PSEB authorities were always considerate towards them.

Mr Ratra asked employees not to proceed on strike and to come forward to settle their demands amicably.


PSEB, staff reach accord
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Punjab State Electricity Board and its employees reached a compromise here tonight to call off the impending strike by employees. In the process, certain promises had been made to woo workers, said officials.

The Chairman of the PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra, said, “I have not promised anything and the employees may have withdrawn the strike as good sense seems to have prevailed upon them.”

Meanwhile, sources said the PSEB had agreed to roll back some of the major changes it had initiated in the past few months to modernise the board.

The move seemed aimed at appeasing 80,000 workers of the board, who had threatened to go on a day-long strike from midnight tonight.

The compromise between the board and the workers was reached around midnight following extended talks on the subject.

Employees claimed the board rolled back changes on introduction of outsourcing of various works. They had been protesting against outsourcing of generation of bills in Patiala and also laying of new power lines in villages located across the bank of the Ravi in Gurdaspur district. PSEB workers had clashed with private contractors on a few occasions.

Already the Union Power Minister, Mr P.M. Sayeed, had announced that there would be no unbundling of the board immediately.

Mr Ratra said the Punjab Government would be in a better position to tell if the unbundling of the board into three separate units would go ahead or not.

The board also agreed to regularise the work-charged employees of the board who had spent a certain number of year in the organisation.


PSEB stir call withdrawn: Ratra

Chandigarh, June 21
The Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Y.S. Ratra, said here this evening that employee organisations of the PSEB had withdrawn their call for a two-day strike. Speaking to The Tribune on the phone, Mr Ratra said negotiations were on with the organisations. — TNS


Jinnah was forced to make secular speech: Kirpal Singh
Sarbjit Dhaliiwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
It is often said that there is a story behind every big story. What forced Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to make a speech, the recent quoting of which by BJP supremo L.K. Advani during his visit to Pakistan created political turmoil in the country, in the Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947?

Communal riots involving Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were at the peak in August, 1947, in various parts of Punjab.

Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff of the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten, called Jinnah and told him categorically to issue a statement assuring all communities, including the Sikhs and the Hindus, that Pakistan was not only for the Muslims but for all the communities. It was required to check the communal violence that had been spreading fast.

Jinnah followed the advice of Lord Ismay, who had been obviously asked by Lord Mountbatten to direct the Muslim leader to do so to curb the bloodshed. In his speech in 1947, Jinnah had stated “you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship... you may belong to any religion, caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of state.. you will find that in the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense,... but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

This fact, that Jinnah was told to make such a statement, was told by Lord Ismay to Dr Kirpal Singh, an eminent historian, who has written several books on Partition during the past 50 years.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Kirpal Singh, former Professor and Head of the Department, Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, told TNS today that he had interviewed Lord Ismay on August 17, 1964, at his residence in England.

Had Mr Advani read Dr Kirpal Singh’s book, he, perhaps, would have been more careful while quoting Jinnah’s Assembly speech. But experts say that there is also a story behind the description of Jinnah as a secular and great man. Obviously, Mr Advani not only projected himself as a liberal and secular democrat in Pakistan but also attempted to send a political message to 15 crore Indian Muslims about the BJP’s departure from the “Hindu-only” approach to widen its constituency.

Dr Kirpal Singh has published the full text of that interview in his book, “Select Documents on Partition of Punjab-1947 (India and Pakistan),” published in 1990. The text of the interview is on page 740 of the book. Dr Kirpal Singh visited England thrice — first in 1964, then in 1966 and again in 1986. His first two visits were sponsored by the Punjab Government and the Indian Council of Historical Research. In fact, Dr Kirpal Singh had the privilege of interviewing top British authorities associated with Partition.

His book includes interviews with Lord Attlee, who was the Prime Minister of England in 1947, with Sir Francis Mudie, the then Governor of West Punjab, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the then Punjab Boundary Commission.

Dr Kirpal Singh says that Jinnah was not a secular man. Jinnah on several occasions expressed the view that the exchange of populations was essential along with the Partition of India. Dr Kirpal Singh cited Jinnah’s speeches made on December 10, 1945, November 15, 1946, and on other occasions regarding the exchange of populations. “If Jinnah had been secular, he would never have talked about the exchange of populations”, said Dr Kirpal Singh.

And then Lord Attlee sent his confidant, Prof Moris John, to India in May, 1947 to persuade Jinnah to keep the existing Army units intact for the joint defence of India and Pakistan, which were to be two sovereign nations. However, Jinnah did not agree. The British authorities, who had raised the Indian Army at that time, were of the opinion that it was one of the best defence forces in the world and to divide it into two would be the worse thing to happen in the subcontinent.

Dr Kirpal Singh says that no Indian from the North- West region, who has suffered the trauma of Partition can agree with Mr Advani’s inference that Jinnah was a secular man.


Badal returns bullet-proof car, Gypsy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
A day after Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal raised fears about her security, former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today returned his bullet-proof car and a Maruti Gypsy which were part of his security apparatus, saying the vehicles were in “bad condition”.

Mr Badal is under the Z-plus category of security which is accorded to individuals at very high risk.

Mr Badal, who is the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), had informed the state police several times about the poor condition of the security vehicles but these vehicles were not replaced, SAD secretary Daljeet Singh Cheema said in a statement issued here today.

The SAD secretary said Mr Badal talked on the phone to the Punjab DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, and the ADGP (Security), Mr Shashi Kant recently and informed them that these vehicles often broke down.

The SAD secretary further said that the party felt that an effort was being made to put Mr Badal’s life in danger as the government was not responding to the request for replacing the vehicles.


Pak delegation’s visit to Punjab postponed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
In what may seem like the “frosting of relations” between the two Punjab’s divided across Pakistan and India, the scheduled visit by Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs) of Pakistan’s Punjab has been postponed. The Union Government has advised the state government against the visit for the time being citing heat-wave conditions in northern India and also saying that the letter seeking visas for the Pakistanis was wrongly routed.

The 52 MPAs — equal to MLAs in India — were to visit Punjab, Rajasthan and parts of western Uttar Pradesh like Agra from June 24 onwards. This was to be a return visit led by the Pakistani Punjab Province Speaker. Earlier a delegation of 28 MLAs from Indian Punjab had visited Pakistan in May

The Pakistani delegation was invited by the Punjab State Assembly. Sources in the Punjab Government confirmed that the visit had been postponed and added that a technical glitch had forced this. The Secretary of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr N.S. Mavi, told The Tribune that the letter seeking visas for the Pakistanis had been sent out by the office of the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Dr Kewal Krishan. The letter should have been routed through the Punjab Government and this was the error pointed out by the Government of India.

Another cause for the postponement could be the ongoing heat wave, Mr Mavi said while adding that the visit would take place after the monsoons.

Temperatures have touched nearly 50°C in parts of Rajasthan and the delegation wanted to visit Ajmer and Agra.

Separately, a controversy has been going over Pakistan Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmad’s visa for Kashmir. India had refused to grant him the visa following revelation of his active participation in training Kashmiri militants.

Yesterday, an Indian boxing team was forced to cancel a tour of Pakistan after Pakistan’s Interior Ministry refused visas to the boxers. A 14-member Indian contingent was scheduled to take part in the inaugural Asian Junior Boxing Championship, beginning in Karachi on Tuesday. The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation is headed by Mr Abhay Singh Chautala, a son of former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.


2 militants held in Dhilwan
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 21
The police today nabbed two militants having connection with the Babbar Khalsa International and the Damdami Taksal from Wadi Miani village of Dhilwan subdivision.

Resham Singh (26) of Baba Bakala and Ajaypal (27) of Sathial in Beas were arrested. Police officials claim that they were informed by a boy sitting in a group about anti-national activities of militants.

A special team raided the place and caught both of them while they were trying to motivate villagers to launch movement against the state and central government and various Hindu leaders.

DIG, Jalandhar range, Paramjit Singh Gill, said the duo had met Jagtar Singh Hawara at least three times at Ropar and Patiala through Amrik Singh, a militant of the BKI, nabbed from Bathinda three days ago. Resham and Ajaypal had reportedly met Amrik Singh at Guru Darshan Parkash gurdwara near Mehta Chowk where they used to perform religious duties. Amrik Singh later gave them training to handle arms and ammunition, a revelation reportedly made during police investigation.

The DIG said that this depicted that militants of the BKI and the Damdami Taksal, which worked separately till previous years seemed aligned. DSP Bhulath Amrik Singh, revealed that the duo had planned to attack Jagdish Tytler, Nihang Ajit Singh Poohla, Ashutosh and Baba Bhaniara.


Fighting odds to realise Everest dream
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

An avid reader of adventure stories, she grew up with a dream of conquering Mount Everest. She almost made it, when nature forced her to return from the virtual cliff. But she hasn’t lost hope and is raring to go for it again.

Born and brought up in Muktsar, Sukhwinder Kaur Sukhi was a tomboy from her childhood. Unlike other girls, she would not bother about the latest fashion trends. Sukhi used to help her father, who is a carpenter and blacksmith. She used to share his workload in her college days apart from taking tuitions to support her family.

Her interest in mountaineering began in her school days when she began reading adventure stories appearing in newspapers and magazines. The beauty of nature and mountains always attracted her. Declared the best trekker and a colour holder of Punjabi University, she did a rock-climbing course from McLeodganj and a couple of mountaineering courses from Manali. She climbed Mount Kamet (25, 650 ft) on July 14, 1998. She along with her friend, Pammi, led a group of 21 girls on a cycling tour from Anandpur Sahib to Damdama Sahib in 1999 to mark the tercentenary of the Khalsa. The tour was aimed at spreading the message of curbing the drug menace and AIDS in the state.

Sukhi received the Red and White Bravery Award from the Punjab Governor in 2000.

The two friends traversed the highest motorable road of the world (18, 380 ft) on cycles. They travelled from Muktsar to Khardung La in 2000 and created a world record, but they could not get their names included in the Guinness Book of World Records as they had not maintained a logbook.

A couple of years later Sukhi went on an expedition to Sasarkangdi, the highest peak (7,672 metres) in the Karakoram Range. She conquered Sasarkangdi on July 14, 2002. The duo did not rest after achieving these feats. They again made it to Khardung La in 2004, this time on a motor cycle. They returned to Muktsar within 14 days.

Sukhi’s determination to achieve her goals can be gauged from the fact that the driver of a Canter that carried rations for her and Pammi during their expedition to Khardung La in 2000 returned even before covering half the distance, saying: “You girls will continue cycling your way to the top all day without caring to have food and water in time, but I can’t do it any more.” The two girls had got bruises on their thighs and injuries on their feet, but they did not stop. “We could not wear shoes due to the injuries and had to cycle barefoot for quite a distance,” says Sukhi.

Sukhi also had a close encounter with death while descending from Mount Kamet. She had a 2,000-foot fall resulting in the fracture of the collarbone. “I remembered God thinking that I was going to die. I managed to slow down my fall to some extent. Blood was oozing out of my ears and nose. I was also vomiting blood,” she says.

During her expedition to Sasarkangdi, a stone rolled down and struck her on the head leading to an injury. Her team was not carrying a first aid box. She continued her climb to the top and got medical attention 12 hours after the injury.

Following several big triumphs, Sukhi set her sights on Mount Everest this year. As she comes from a lower middle-class family, her priority was to raise funds. The International Adventure and Sports Helpline and residents of Muktsar gave her monetary assistance. They helped her raise about Rs 5 lakh. During her search for an agency that could manage her expedition, she zeroed in on Project Himalaya, as it offered her some concession. At that point of time she did not know that the agency would compromise on certain amenities to be provided to her. She also chose the north side of Mount Everest despite it being the toughest to ascend, as one has to pay less for it.

She began her journey in the first week of March. The agency, she claims, promised her rations and oxygen cylinders till she made it to the top. However, later she was told to arrange food beyond the advanced base camp (ABC). She urged the agency to arrange it for her saying that she would pay for it on her return. However, on reaching the ABC her team members denied her the required food and handed over some chocolates to her. She did not complain and stayed at a height of over 8,000 metres without proper food for about a week waiting for the inclement weather to end so that she could make it to the top. That did not happen and she returned without achieving her childhood dream.

Pammi justifies her weeklong stay there saying Sukhi knew how tough it was to raise funds for her expedition. Besides, hometown had great expectations from her. Sukhi was also aware that it would be more difficult to collect money for her next attempt. Things started looking up within days of her return. Kartar Lalwani, an Indian industrialist based in the UK, offered Sukhi a course in mountaineering from any of the training schools in Austria or Switzerland. His offer has rekindled hope in Sukhi.

Sukhi laments that Punjab does not have many mountaineering enthusiasts. She attributes this lack of interest to those Punjabis who return to narrate horrifying tales of their expeditions. “If you love nature and go on your expedition with that sentiment, you will come back with tales that will encourage scores of persons to take up mountaineering,” says Sukhi.

Marriage does not feature in Sukhi’s plans as of now. She wishes to conquer all peaks with a height of more than 8,000 metres in the world. Right now, she is determined to conquer Mount Everest along with Pammi.

Surprisingly, after he courageous feat of reaching 8,500 metres on Mount Everest, no word of appreciation has come from the Punjab Government. Sukhi is disappointed with the attitude of the government towards her. It did not give monetary assistance to her for her expedition to Mount Everest despite an assurance from the Chief Minister.

When asked what keeps her going, Sukhi says: “I have a scenery in front of my bed that says: ‘Hold on your dreams, your day will come.’ That is enough to keep me in high spirits throughout the day.”


Rally, dharna by farmers for release of leaders
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 21
Activists and leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Sidhupur), led by Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, state president of the union, today held a dharna and a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here. The protesters were demanding unconditional release of remaining 30 farmer leaders and activists, lodged in jails of Sangrur, Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Barnala and Bathinda in connection with farmers’ June 10 Tapa rally. They also demanded punishment for all the arhtiyas of Tapa, who allegedly injured eight farmers on June 2 there.

The protesters also demanded that the issue of farmer Bhola Singh of Dhilwan village be settled at the earliest. Besides, an inquiry should also be initiated into the case, filed by an arhtiya of Tapa in a court to claim a huge amount from Bhola Singh, to decide whether the case was genuine.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur also raised an objection to the detaining of 30 farmer leaders and activists by the government in jails by saying that when 1100 farmers had been sent to jails under Sections 107/151 of the Cr.PC. in connection with June 10 Tapa rally, then under which rule only 30 farmers had been kept in the jails while all other had been released from jails unconditionally. He described this move of the government as a discriminatory action.

Mr Sidhupur also announced that the BKU Ekta (Sidhupur) would organise flag marches from July 1 to July 15 in the state against the “anti-farmer” policies of the state government. He also said on July 18, the union would organise a big rally at Chandigarh in case the BKU’s jailed leaders were not released till. He also said the union would also submit a memorandum on July 18 to the Punjab Governor, seeking cancellation of the life sentence of three members of the Kiranjit Katal Kand Action Committee.

The protesters also raised slogans, “Punjab Sarkar Murdabad”, “Doshi arhtiyan nu giraftar karo” and “ Giraftar kisan riha karo”. A deputation of the union also submitted a memorandum to the administration, regarding demands of the union.

Among others who addressed the dharna, included Mr Mani Singh Chak and Mr Hardev Singh Sakrodi, vice-president and press secretary, respectively of the BKU Ekta (Sidhupur); Mr Gurbakhsh Singh, president of the district Patiala unit of the union; Mr Nirmal Singh, president of the Ludhiana district unit of the union; Mr Swaranjit Singh, district president of the Democratic Employees Front; Mr Hari Singh Tark, state president of Association for Democratic Rights; and Mr Gurmeet Singh Bhatti, general secretary of the Sangrur district unit of the union.


Protest march by BJP against govt, MC
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 21
The BJP today condemned the state government and the Municipal Council headed by the Congress.

BJP workers assembled at Geeta Mandir located opposite Amritbela office here this morning and started protest march at 10 a.m. Some were carrying lighted candles in their hands and others were beating broken tin containers expressing anguish of the people to the deaf and dumb government.

Those who participated in the protest march included Mr Sandeep Rinwa, district general secretary, Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, former MLA, Mr Brij Mohan Sharma and Mr Om Parkash Kataria, president and secretary (Press) of the district BJP unit, Mr Bhupinder Snehi, city unit president, office-bearers of women and youth wing of the party.

The procession passed through the Circular road and main bazaar and staged a dharna to block the entry to the office of the Municipal Council. They criticised the UPA government for making petrol and diesel costlier and condemned the state government for enhancing electricity charges. Interestingly, the PSEB authorities enforced power cut 30 minutes before the schedule in the morning hours.

The BJP leaders said the general bus stand had become a centre for dumping garbage. Sewer water overflowing from manholes had entered houses in some localities. The engineering staff of the council and the Executive Officer had ignored encroachments. Streetlights were not maintained properly.

Dr Goyal said the Congress government had not fulfilled even one promise made to the electorate during the last Assembly elections.


‘Assault’ on Dalit girl gets political tinge
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 21
A case, in which a son of a sarpanch had reportedly cut hair of a Dalit girl and threw her into nullah after thrashing her, has got political tinge with the SAD supporting the girl and the Congress siding with the sarpanch.

A son of Samalsar sarpanch, Angrej Singh, and his friends were booked in the case yesterday. Sources said sometime back victim Amandeep Kaur, had accused a woman of the same village of having loose character, and had complained to sarpanch Sukhdev Kaur. Angrej had opposed her at that time.

Since then both parties nursed a grudge against each other. Recently when similar charges were levelled against her brother, Buta Singh, Angrej Singh reportedly barged into her house with some policemen a couple of days back. He had an altercation with her after which he returned. But, after an hour he came back along with his aides and allegedly started thrashing her. They reportedly sheared her hair and threw her into a nullah. She was taken to a government hospital where Dr Varinder Singh told that she had received some serious injuries.

On the other hand, the sarpanch denied allegations levelled against her son. The police has registered a case against Angrej Singh and his 14 friends under Sections 452, 427, 295A, 323, 148, and 149, of the IPC, and sections 3/4 of the SC/ST Act, nobody has been rounded up for interrogation. Baghapurana DSP, R.S. Sandhu said the police was investigating the matter.

Some social and political organisations have threatened a stir if justice was not done to the Dalit girl.


Private bus operators demand hike in fares
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 21
Due to rise in the price of diesel, private bus operators have demanded rise in the bus fares immediately.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, a leading transporter of Punjab, said the recent hike in the diesel price has made it impossible for private bus operators to ply buses. He said the fare was last revised when the price of diesel was Rs 16 per litre and with subsequent hikes the diesel price has touched Rs 28 a litre.

He said the cost per km has also increased due to increase in the cost of tyres, spare parts, man power and chassis of the buses. Mr Libra said the government was not considering their genuine demand for long.

Another Ludhiana-based transporter Fateh Singh Libra said if government failed to revise fares it would be uneconomical to ply the buses. He said taxis and three-wheelers raise the fares after every hike in diesel price but transporters can’t do this without the consent of the state government.

A Barnala-based transporter C.S. Khatra said the revision of fares should be based on the present inputs to private transport sector which include rate of diesel, spare part, tyres, etc.


Jathedar decries cremation in gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib has taken a strong notice of the cremation of Bibi Mahatma at a local gurdwara. Bibi Mahatma used to run her activities to spread Sikhism from Gurdwara Baba Ajit Singh and died a few days back.

The jathedar has issued a notice to the gurdwara management and asked for an apology. He said the gurdwara management was planning to build her ‘samadh’ on the gurdwara premises. He said firstly cremation in a gurdwara was forbidden and constructing a ‘samadh’ was against the tenets of Sikhism.

He said action would be taken if the management didn’t apologize for their act.

On the other hand, one of the management committee members of the gurdwara, Advocate Kulwant Singh Gill, said the gurdwara was a personal property of Bibi Mahatma, adding that Bibi was ‘puran sant’ and she was supposed to be cremated at her ancestral house. He clarified that there were no plans to make ‘samadh’ on the gurdwara premises.


Sikh jatha crosses over to Pakistan
Our correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today lamented that the management of historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Pakistan was still under the control of non-Sikhs which was against the Sikh maryada.

She was speaking while flagging off a 400-strong Sikh jatha, including 98 women and three children, which crossed over to Lahore to participate in the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to be held at gurudwara Dera Sahib, Lahore.

The Jatha, led by Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, member, SGPC, would also visit Nankana Sahib, Sacha Sauda Gurdwara, Panja Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that although the renovation was being undertaken at various gurdwaras in Pakistan, it should have been handed over to SGPC for kar sewa. She said that the panth would not accept the new construction and renovation done by government-sponsored organisations.

She said that during their 10-day stay in Pakistan, the jatha would pay obeisance at various historic Sikh gurdwaras.


SDM alleges victimisation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 21
The alleged multi-crore scandal over sale of more than four acres of prime land in the city in which a Vigilance inquiry was being conducted, took a new turn when SDM M.S. Jaggi claimed that he was being victimised as he had refused to fulfil the illegal wishes of the complainants.

Refuting the charges that he had demanded Rs 8 lakh, Mr Jaggi said that the complainants, Mr Ravinder Singh and Mr Neeraj Khosla, had purchased a prime property worth crores, owned by an NRI, Mr Sant Singh, through his power of attorney in November, 2004. However, the owner, Mr Sant Singh, said he had never issued any such power of attorney, and alleged that the power of attorney used by the complainants was a forged one.

He revealed that the Ludhiana police had already registered an FIR on January 23, 2005, against the complainants under Sections 429, 420, 467, IPC, and the local Civil Court had issued an order to maintain status quo regarding possession over the land. ‘‘All the hopes of the complainants were badly shattered as they failed to achieve their ulterior motive when I rejected the mutation about five months back,’’ he claimed.

He said the complainants had lodged a complaint against him after a long time. He said the late night registry of the land deal did not come under his duty and a separate inquiry into that episode was going on.


Shops of 3 quacks sealed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
The district health authorities today sealed the shops of three quacks, who have been playing havoc with the health of unsuspecting and innocent people belonging to rural areas.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, who carried out the surprise checking in the rural area, told TNS that he found that three quacks had been running shops in the Dakoli area of this district. He added that when it was found that they were not having valid certificates to practise medicine, their shops were sealed.

He added that he had directed all the senior medical officers (SMOs) that if any quack was found practising in their respective area, they would be held responsible for the same. He had deployed the staff in various pockets of the district to keep a watch on the activities of the quacks.

Dr Singla said to prevent the outbreak of hepatitis, gastroenteritis and other water-borne diseases in this district, he had set up teams which would discourage the sale of cut fruits, uncovered eatables and consumption of unfit water.

He said of the 57 samples of water drawn from different areas of the district, 21 failed to meet the prescribed standards.


Steps taken to check water-borne diseases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Punjab today claimed to have made “all arrangements” to ensure a gastroenteritis and hepatitis-free summer in the state.

The civil surgeons have been directed to frequently test the water being used by ice factories and water candy units.

The Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr D.S. Guru, said the chlorination of water was being carried out in risk-prone urban areas. People were also being made aware of the importance of clean surroundings and safe drinking water.


Struggle for freeing farmers to go on
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The CPI ( ML-Liberation), the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and other organisations today decided to continue their struggle to press the Punjab Government to release the leaders of various organisations arrested in connection with the farmers’ agitation at Tapa Mandi in Sangrur district on June 10.

A spokesman of these organisations said here that the agitation was started to free farmers from the clutches of money-lenders.

He said while the state government had released a number of farmers and their leaders, 100 were still behind bars. The government had freed some farmers’ leaders to create division in their ranks, he added.


Councillor flays colonisers
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 21
A municipal councillor has complained to the Director, Local Government, Punjab, that the local Municipal Council was taking no action against colonisers who were creating problems for residents of the area.

In the letter, the municipal councillor of ward no 1, Mrs Amrik Kaur, stated that colonisers were constructing walls around the land acquired by them which obstructed the flow of rainwater. In one case, a coloniser had damaged property belonging the civic body, but officials failed to take any action even when the matter was brought to their notice.

Mrs Amrik Kaur alleged that officials of the civic body were hand-in-glove with the colonisers and availed themselves of personal benefits


Coop staff unions to meet

Chandigarh, June 21
Employees of the state-run undertakings under the Department of Cooperatives will hold a meeting on June 23 to finalise the future course of action to seek benefits for the staff.

The president of the Markfed Employees Joint Action Committee, Mr Harbhajan Dass, said unions of the Punjab Cooperative Bank, the Punjab Agricultural Development Bank, Housefed, Milkfed and Markfed, among others, would participate. — TNS


3 new PCS officers join
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 21
The district got three new officers today. Mr Dharrm Pal Gupta today joined as new ADC(G). He replaced Mr M.P. Arora, who has been posted in office of the DPI (Colleges). Mr Gupta was earlier SDM, Munak.

Ms Hargunjeet Kaur joined as new Assistant Commissioner(G). Earlier she was Assistant Commissioner, MC, Patiala. Mr Rajesh Tripathi today joined as new District Transport Officer. He was earlier under-training at Chandigarh.

All the new officers after taking the charge today hold the meetings with their staff.


Conman remanded for selling others’ plots
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
A conman, who had duped several persons of lakhs, has been remanded in judicial custody till July 5.

Police sources said accused, Pawan Kumar used to show plots belonging to others and sell those off to unsuspecting people. He would take advance ranging between Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh and escape before the date of the registry. He had duped five to seven persons in a similar way in city.

He also sold off his motor cycle to three persons giving each an affidavit saying he would hand them over vehicle after a week. He also took Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 advance payment from each of them. After making good money he fled to Hardwar in November last year.

Later, he was declared a proclaimed offender here. Pawan Kumar continued to deceive people in Haridwar too. He impersonated as an Army officer posted in Roorkee and approached unemployed youths in Hardwar saying that he could help them get a job in Army. He would charge them between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 for job. Already married Pawan Kumar reportedly married a woman in Roorkee exploiting his status of an “Army officer”. But his luck ran out on him and Roorkee police nabbed him following some complaints on May 28.

The police got the information of his arrest and soon brought him to the city last week. He was first remanded in police custody for a few days.

During interrogation, he revealed that he had spent most of the amount that he had received from people, while a bank account having Rs 2 lakh had been sealed by the Roorkee police.


Cotton trader declared PO
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 21
Once known as one of the pillars of the cotton trade, Mahabir Prasad Navetia has been declared proclaimed offender by a trial court here.

The court passed the order after recording the statement of the police here in cases registered under Sections 464, 465, 467, 468, 471, 406, 420 and 120-B, IPC.

The complainants, Mr Vidya Sagar Ahuja and Mr Ravi Kant Ahuja, sons of late Mr Chuni Lal Ahuja and residents of Street 10 here, had stated that Navetia was partner in the firms, Ashoka Cotton Company and Tek Chand Daulat Rai Ahuja, dealing in cotton. Partnership deeds were executed in June, 1992. Women of their families were sleeping partners but Nevatia’s sons were active partners in the said firms.

According to details given in the FIRs registered at the city police station in January, 1999, Navetia dealt with the main branch of Punjab National Bank here. Nevatia allegedly siphoned off nearly Rs 51 lakh and Rs 71 lakh, respectively, against bogus goods receipts and hundis (sale documents) of cotton consignments that had never been dispatched.

Bank officials facilitated the transactions during October-November, 1998, reportedly without verifying the documents given by these firms.

The Ahuja brothers alleged that Nevatia had siphoned off the money by sending demand drafts on the bank payable to his close relations, Sagar Mal Nevatia, New Delhi, and Mr Kanti Lal Parikh, Ahmedabad. The startling facts came to light in 1999 when Nevatia and his family left the town overnight and the PNB supplied statements of accounts maintained by the firms.

The police had not been able to locate Nevatia and others named in the FIRs. Hence the court proceeded against Mr Nevatia.


Order on Mann’s bail plea reserved
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 21
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, today reserved order on the bail application moved by President of the SAD (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann in a case of sedition registered against him for tomorrow. While opposing the bail application, the state counsel said that Mr Mann did not deserve the concession of bail as he had been arrested on the charge of sedition.

On the other hand, the defence counsel argued that Mr Mann was falsely implicated in the case under political pressure and deserved the concession of bail. He said that Mr Mann could not be booked under sedition charges as his speeches did not incite violence or created disturbance.


Vegetable vendor crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Jandu Singha (Jalandhar), June 21
Manohar Singh, a vegetable vendor was crushed to death and a pedestrian was injured seriously as the driver of a private bus allegedly lost control of the vehicle and it dashed into the vegetable vend at Y-point on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road, near this village, today.

The bus allegedly belong to Golden Bus Service and its driver fled after the accident alongwith the vehicle.

The driver of the bus, coming from Jalandhar side, perhaps lost control as it reached the Y-point and it rammed into a vegetable vend, set up on roadside by Manohar Singh, a resident of Chuharwali. Manohar Singh died on the spot, while, Piara Singh, an unsuspecting pedestrian and resident of Kangniwal village in Jalandhar district who was walking along the road, was injured in the accident. The real cause of the accident, however, was yet to be ascertained.

The police has registered a case at Jandu Singha police post.


Elderly woman dies after ‘rape’
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 21
A woman in her 90s belonging to Kotla Rai Ka village today died after being reportedly raped by Harbhajan Singh of the same village.

Sources said the victim, Man Kaur, was staying in the village with her two sons and grandchildren. The sources said Harbhajan Singh was mentally upset since his wife deserted him a few years back.

On last Friday afternoon Man Kaur was sleeping in her verandah, while her other family members had gone out on work. The sources said Harbhajan took advantage of the situation and raped her.

Later, she narrated her tale to her family members and villagers.

The panchayat was reportedly in favour of a compromise between the two parties and leaving Harbhajan Singh after a sound thrashing, as a police case “would bring bad name to the village”.


Patwari held for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Banur, June 21
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) today caught a patwari of Banur Circle red-handed while he was taking a bribe of Rs 1,000 from two residents of Banur.

According to sources, Gurmukh Singh, was caught red-handed by a team of the VB when he accepted a bribe of Rs 1,000 from Mr Surjit Singh and Mr Kamaljit Singh.

The VB told Chandigarh Tribune that the patwari had been demanding Rs 1,500 from the complainants for registering ‘intkal’ of a 14-bishva piece of land.

After complaining to the VB, the complainants, accompanied by the VB team, today approached the patwari for the documents of their land. A deal between both the parties was settled for Rs 1,000. As the complainants handed over the ‘bribe’ money to the patwari, the police caught him.

Sources in the police revealed that the VB sleuths have also conducted a raid at Gurmukh Singh’s residence in Khairpur Jattan village near Banur.


Gujjar girl abducted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 21
A 15-year-old Gujjar girl has allegedly been abducted by three Gujjar youths from Dhadiala village, near Adampur, in Jalandhar district.

The alleged abductors have been identified as Ranjha, Surnu and Gami on the basis of a complaint lodged by Bashir Gujjar, father of the girl.

According to Bashir, the girl had gone missing on June 16 and the search launched by him failed to yield any result. He has apprehended that Gami could have abducted her along with his relatives.

The Adampur police has registered a case under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC. A search operation has also been launched by the Adampur police.


PCCTU’s state-level protest dharna today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 21
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will stage its state-level protest dharna in front of the office of the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, at Chandigarh tomorrow to press upon the state government to redress the long-standing grievances of thousands of college teachers of privately managed colleges of Punjab.

Prof P.K. Sharma, state secretary of the PCCTU (Punjabi University area), said the Private Colleges Non-Teaching Employees Union had also decided to extend its support to the PCCTU’s protest dharna of June 22 by joining the same at Chandigarh.

He said the PCCTU had urged the Amarinder government to implement the recommendations of the Johl Committee promptly. He said the PCCTU had also appealed to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Higher Education Minister, to convene a meeting of the high-powered committee at the earliest to address sensitive issues pertaining to higher education as well as the problems of private college teachers.

He said the PCCTU had decided to fight the Ministry of Union Human Resources Development to seek parity for DPEs and librarians with lecturers as these two categories of teachers had been facing discrimination for the past many years.


Student’s plea to CM on PMT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
A large number of students who were unable to appear in the PMT, which was cancelled two weeks ago, have requested the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to direct the authorities to allow them to sit in the PMT to be conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University at the end of this month.

The students blamed Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences for their failure to sit in the PMT conducted earlier. They said the Baba Farid University authorities did not send them the examination admit cards in time. They claimed these were despatched late by the university.


Summer camp ends
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 21
The summer camp organised by Kidzee Periwinkle School concluded with “Kidzee Boom” culture function at G.S Estate in the city last evening. The cultural programme included bhangra, gidha and western dance. The cultural items were presented by more than 170 children who had attended the summer camp.

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