P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Boat tragedy: 3 more bodies recovered
Magisterial probe ordered
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Muthianwala (Amritsar), July 12
When they set out into the swollen Sutlej river late yesterday evening, passengers of the overcrowded boat, steered by an untrained and unauthorised person, knew that their journey could be hazardous. At least 25 persons had boarded the boat against its capacity of a dozen.

But the passengers took a ‘calculated’ risk because river travel in this area, near the Pakistan border is a way of life that saves them more than 80 km of road journey. This forces them to go for a ‘risky ride’ in the troubled waters every day. Muthianwala, less than 5 km as the crow flies from the international border, is divided by the Sutlej river and its land is divided between Amritsar and Ferozepore districts. Residents of more than 100 villages of both the districts board the only boat, owned by an individual even at the risk of their lives. The Army has failed to construct the bridge despite the fact that a similar mishap had occurred a couple of years ago in which five persons were drowned. The tragedy occurred because neither the Amritsar nor the Ferozepore administration has deputed any official to regulate traffic even as more than 1000 persons use the ferry service on either side. Unlike the Ujh river in Pathankot where an Army boat is used to ferry persons and their vehicles across the river, only one private boat is used for this purpose. The boat is given to a private contractor on annual contract. However, residents of many villages take unauthorised shares. Many residents allege that the mishap occurred due to negligence of the administration, which had failed to monitor the ferry traffic. The river journey becomes more dangerous when it starts after sunset.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner has ordered a magisterial inquiry by SDM Bhupinder Singh who will submit his report within a week. The Chief Minister has announced Rs 50,000 to the kin of each of the deceased while the district administration of Ferozepore would add Rs 10,000.

Though Army and BSF jawans and their boats were pressed into service, they could retrieve only three more dead bodies today with the help of local people. Two dead bodies were fished out yesterday. Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, who reached the spot on a tractor-trailer, said the administration might request the BSF officials to take up the matter of searching bodies with their Pakistani counterparts as the dead bodies might have flowed into Pakistan territory. Sutlej flows zig zag, covering a long stretch in Pakistan side. He, however, said that the dead bodies might be traced tomorrow after they get floated.

However, Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, Mr Sidhu admitted that there was a lapse on the part of administration for having failed to take preventive measures.

Mr Gurpartap Singh, Block Development Officer, Valtoha, who conducts the auction for the boat, said the administration would maintain a proper register for keeping a record of the passengers who use the boat in future as a preventive measure .

Shockingly, the boat was being navigated by an untrained Amrik Singh, a resident of Kamalwala village though the administration had forbidden its operation for the past five days due to the swollen river.

While two of the family members of the so called boatman had drowned, he and his son swam to safety. The villagers allege that the tragedy was noticed after three hours when two women who succeeded in swimming to safety reported the matter to the villagers. Due to heavy rain and current, coupled with the problem of darkness, rescue operations were hampered yesterday. The water flow at Harike Headworks was reduced so that dead bodies could be retrieved. The BDPO said from now onwards, the boat would be kept in ‘safe custody’ to prevent any unauthorised use. The residents said district officials should have anticipated the problems when they knew that it had been raining heavily in the catchment areas..

Some of the victims were going back towards Ferozepore after attending weddings in Toot and Muthianwala. An eyewitness, Mr Mehal Singh, alleged that the passengers continued to board the boat though it was already overcrowded.

Four bodies had been identified as Bohar Singh, alias Mahna, his wife Shanti, Aman and Mahni. Those missing included Geeta, Kartar Singh, Bhagwan Singh, Ramavtar, a BSF jawan, Kabal Singh, Gurmail Singh, Veero and Surjit Singh.

Those who survived the mishap are Prakash Kaur, Kailasho, Dara Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Subeg, Baldev Singh, Bohar Singh, Pargat Singh, Amrik Singh, Sarja Singh, Sahib Singh, Sukha and Shailendra Singh.


Ludhiana co stands to gain Rs 17 cr, thanks to govt
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Thanks to the largesse of the Punjab Government, a leading Ludhiana-based company stands to save Rs 17 crore which is otherwise meant to go to the state exchequer. The money is part of a payment which the government was to receive from the company having the backing of a leading politician of the state.

The government’s industrial development arm, the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), and the Ludhiana-based company are partners in a major manufacturing project.

The group had defaulted on repayment to the PSIDC. According to the compromise formula, the PSIDC had to recover Rs 57 crore. The industrial group says it can pay Rs 40 crore. The concession is set to get formal approval from the Project Approval Board headed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, tomorrow.

The official memo put up before the Project Approval Board, points out that the Board of Directors of the PSIDC had clearly stated that no departure could be made from the one-time settlement (OTS) scheme and no concession given to the company. Despite this, a detailed note on the special concessions to the company is ready.

To benefit the group, Rs 17 crore is to be waived by granting additional concessions over and above the OTS scheme of the Punjab Government. The OTS scheme envisages a settlement policy for defaulting units under which the interest of the defaulters is reduced. A total of 14 industrial houses in the state have already availed themselves of the OTS bailout and paid back the PSIDC.

Under the financial collaboration agreement, the PSIDC holds equity stake in the Ludhiana-based company to the tune of 26 per cent. To buy back these shares from the PSIDC, the company has to make a payment of Rs 57 crore. Actually, say sources in the PSIDC, the market value of these shares is Rs 70 crore, but according to the OTS formula the payment works out to Rs 57 crore. Going by the market value, the loss to the state government will be Rs 30 crore. Why not sell the stake in the open market? says an industrial analyst.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago the Ludhiana group made an advance payment of about Rs 28 crore to back its claim for “some concessions”. The group also says that since April, 2003, it has been wanting to buy back the shares and the delay is on the part of the PSIDC. Thus, no interest should be charged since April, 2003.

While investing in the equity stake, the PSIDC had entered into an agreement that the company will buy back the stake after a period of eight years. The scheme was floated in the early 1990s when Punjab was coming out of the phase of terrorism and needed to attract investment to project that normalcy was returning.

Now if the PSIDC gives such special concessions, other defaulters can also claim the same benefits, and the PSIDC will even have to pay back crores of rupees it collected from defaulters under the OTS scheme.


Vigilance grills EO of local body
Probe into leasing out land to hospital begins
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 12
A two member team of the Vigilance Department today reportedly grilled the Executive Officer, Mr Davinder Kumar Goyal, of the Municipal Council here for more than one hour during investigation into leasing out land already occupied by tenants to Homoeopathic Medical College at the throwaway rates, sources said.

He reportedly failed to explain under what circumstances he had now recommended to the council that an additional piece of land should be leased out in favour of the college, whereas the previous lease given to it had been cancelled.

Mr Tulsi Ram Dhaulia, president of the council, who had been evading face-to-face conversation with the Vigilance team since its arrival yesterday evening, today signed a statement that he had proceeded the matter in public interest.

According to official sources, he had referred proceedings of the meeting held on May 20 under the chairmanship of President Tulsi Ram Dhaulia to the Principal Secretary of the Local Self Department, Punjab.

The principal Secretary had not only stayed the implementation of the resolution but also asked the Chief Vigilance Officer to initiate a probe into the case.

The state government had reportedly received a representation from local residents alleging that the council had illegally resolved to evict all tenants who had been paying rent to the council regularly and had taken up the matter with the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A Double Bench of the court had referred the matter to the Deputy Commissioner. But even when the balance of convenience vested in favour of the council and the DC was yet to finalise the negotiations the council arbitrarily resolved to relinquish its ownership claim and “betrayed” the tenants by giving an additional portion of prime land to the college increasing an old lease deed rate by 50 percent.

The council had already resolved to hand over land vacated by Army Hospital, opposite the HMCA, to the Improvement Trust. The trust had claimed that it would fetch millions of rupees in auction.

The tenants, who had been paying rent to the HMCA initially had now started paying revised rent to the council as the latter had won cases filed against the HMCA for subletting the property that was not a part of the lease agreement. The council was likely to suffer a loss of Rs 72,000 per month by transferring tenancy to the hospital.

According to information Mr Goyal today told Vigilance officers that the council had on November 15, 1978, passed a resolution leasing land totaleing 1990 sq. ft to the HMCA. The council had preserved a 234-ft strip to construct a market adjacent to the college. Later the college got 10 shops constructed arbitrarily but the council had rejected the site plan. The college had rented these illegal shops at Rs 300 per month. The council initiated proceedings against the college on August 31, 1994. As the college management had violated terms of the lease, the council cancelled the agreement by passing a resolution on February 19, 1998. He had apprised members of the council about these facts when they went ahead to pass the “controversial” resolution.

The team visited the HMCA complex and recorded statements of the tenants before leaving for Chandigarh this evening. 


81 law officers appointed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 12
Despite making tall claims about its commitment to drastically reduce the number of law officers, the Punjab Government has failed to do so. The list of new law officers is 81-strong, just 13 down from the present 94.

According to a notification issued by the Home Department, there will be three Senior Additional Advocates-General (AG), 11 Additional AGs, eight Senior Deputy AGs, 22 Deputy AGs and 23 Assistant AGs. Interestingly, the government has also appointed 14 Attached Assistant AGs, though nobody is aware of their status and position.

Not only this, the list is a repeat of the previous lists under the Congress regime in so far as the names of kin of high and mighty are concerned.

Ms Vibha Pandey (Vigilance Bureau chief A.P. Pandey’s daughter-in-law), Ms Mala Chaudhary (Congress MLA Santosh Chaudhary’s daughter), Ms Poonam Josan (Minister Hans Raj Josan’s daughter) and Ms Sonia Virk (Ropar SSP Surinderpal Singh’s daughter) all are part of the list of the new law officers.

Apart from the current Senior Additional Advocate-General, Mr N.S. Boparai, the two other Senior Additional AGs are Mr Sarup Singh (for Delhi) and Mr Chander Mohan Munjal.

While Mr Sarup Singh had been dropped from the same post last year, Mr Munjal was Additional AG before he resigned during the pendency of a contempt case against him.

The Additional AGs are Mr D.P. Singh (for Delhi), Mr Atul Nanda (for Delhi), Mr Kuljit Singh Sidhu, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, Mr Ashok Aggarwal, Mr Ajit Singh Virk, Mr Paramdev Singh Chinna, Mr Arun Palli, Mr Devinder Singh Jandiala, Mr Kulwant Singh Boparai and Mr Sanjeev Sharma.

The Senior Deputy AGs are Mr Satish Bhanot, Ms S.K. Bhatia, Ms Charu Tuli, Mr G.S. Cheema, Mr Anupinder Singh Grewal, Mr M.C. Berry, Mr Sarbjit Singh Randhawa and Mr Harpreet Singh Sandhu.

The Deputy AGs include Mr Ranjit Kapur (for Delhi), Mr Harmeet Singh Grewal, Mr Mansoor Ali, Mr Uttam Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Narinder Singh Sitta, Mr A.G. Masih, Mr H.P.S. Gill, Mr Jagdish Singh Bedi, Mr Gurinderjit Singh, Ms Reeta Kohli, Mr Vinod Sharma, Mr Ashish Kapur, Mr Harinder Singh Gill, Mr Sandeep Vermani, Mr Ramandeep Singh Sandhu, Ms Ravinder Kaur Nihalsinghwala, Mr Jagvinder Singh Dhillon, Mr Gurinder Singh Bhandari, Mr D.P.S. Kahlon, Mr Sushant Maini, Mr I.P.S. Sidhu and Ms Mala Chaudhary.

The Assistant AGs are Mr Bikramjit Singh Batth, Ms Urvashi Dugga, Mr Kewal Krishan Behniwal, Mr Rajiv Kumar Sharda, Mr Brajeshwar Singh Chahal, Mr Rajdeep Singh Cheema, Mr Nirbhow Singh Gill, Ms Nilofar A. Parveen, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Mr Aridman Singh Sandhu, Mr Maninder Singh Patti, Mr Jayender Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh Joshi, Mr Narinder Kapur, Mr Gurbir Singh Brar, Mr Prem Kumar, Mr Eklavya Kumar, Ms Sonia M Aggarwal, Mr Gurpratap Singh Gill, Ms Gagganjit Kaur, Ms Jaswinder Kaur, Mr Prem Kumar and Ms Parvinder Kaur.

The Attached Assistant AGs are Ms Vibha Pandey, Ms Poonam Josan, Mr Hari Om Verma, Ms Sonia Virk, Mr Bhupinder Beniwal, Ms Sudeepti Sharma, Mr Ashok Singla, Ms Kirti Singh, Ms Rajan Soni, Mr Shiv Charan Singh Chahal, Mr Ashish Sharma, Mr Sarabjot Singh, Mr Pawan Sharda and Mr Mehar Deep Singh Dulat.

Incidentally, as it was last year, this list also contains some names of persons who are not expected to join as also some law officers who have been demoted. They include Mr Kuljit Singh Sidhu, who did not join last year at the same post. Among those who have been demoted are Ms Urvashi Dugga and Mr Kewal Krishan Behniwal (both Deputy AG to Assistant AG).

Sources also said that some more names are expected to be added at a later stage.


Akshay mingles with jawans
Not to venture into film production
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 12
“Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi” Akshay Kumar has come a long way from working in a Bangkok restaurant to a glittering world of glamour.

Akshay, who was in connection with the shooting of a programme, impressed army jawans not only with his sense of humour but also with his simplicity.

Though born in Delhi, Akshay said he had his roots in Punjab as his family hailed from Amritsar. Akshay told this correspondent that he loved to visit Punjab and that he said a quiet visit to the Golden Temple a couple of months ago, wearing a turban and covering his face partly. Akshay said he stood in the queue like any common visitor and waited for almost an hour for his turn to seek Waheguru’s blessings.

Akshay who interacted with the army jawans, played a few games of volleyball with them and shared lighter moments with the men in olive green. He said the best thing he liked about the jawans was their discipline and honesty. Akshay said that in the Bollywood, most of the people lived an artificial life but it was not so in the Army.

When asked about any plans to venture into film production on the lines of other stars like Shahrukh Khan, Pooja Bhatt and Juhi Chawla, Akshay said he just wanted to lead a relaxed life and was happy with the way he was doing at the moment.

With three box office hits last year under his belt, Akshay said he was quite happy with his performance in these films and would like to continue as an actor only. About the Bollywood Akshay said: “I don’t like to socialise much, and rarely mixed even within the industry. When I am not shooting, I love to spend time with my wife and kids.”

While answering a question, Akshay said though he had no plans to join politics but given a choice, he would love to become a minister for sports as our country was really lagging behind in that area. He said it was really unfortunate that our country could bag only one medal in the Olympics and that too by an army man, who managed to salvage our pride by winning a lone silver medal in shooting.

At the moment, he said, he was happy with his real life role of being the Brand Ambassador for the Special Olympics (for the mentally challenged) from India.

“I felt honoured for being chosen for something as noble as this” , he said candidly, and “believe me, these boys have an undying zeal and a never-ending spirit to perform notwithstanding their disabilities”, Akshay also said that he wanted to contribute his mite to promote sports among mentally challenged in India.

Akshay, who was accompanied by noted comedian Vivek Shauq, visited border areas and showed his skill as a shooter. He proved that when it came to action, he was second to none.


Congress leaders allege misrule 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 12
It may appear strange to see leaders and workers of a ruling party agitating against "misrule" during their party's regime, but fed up over "prolonged indifference" towards their demands, a group of office-bearers and workers of the Jalandhar District Congress Committee have decided to protest against "corruption" and "inadequate" facilities for visitors in the District Administrative Complex (DAC) here.

Blaming DAC officials, the office-bearers have alleged that both, corruption and inadequate facilities, were spoiling the credibility of the party among the people and it might have to bear the brunt of it in the forthcoming elections. The workers have even decided to hold a dharna in front of the complex on Wednesday.

Levelling allegations against the officials, Mr Sanjay Sehgal, vice-president and media in charge of the DCC, Mr Sudesh Gulati and Mr Anil Vashisht, both vice-presidents, and Mr Karnail Singh Bhatia, senior vice-president, said the entry to the complex remained to be a cesspool most of the time, which caused inconvenience to the visitors. Similarly, the lift was not working and insanitation greeted the visitors everywhere, they said.

"Besides, there is rampant corruption in the DAC. No land deed is registered without bribe and the DTO office has become a 'den' of corruption and agents rule the place fleecing innocent people," alleged Mr Sehgal, adding, "Nobody is ready to listen. If this is happening with ruling party leaders and workers than anyone can imagine the position of common people. This is spoiling the name of the party and that is why we have come out to oppose this. Certain officials have asked us not to hold dharna and have promised that everything would be set right, but we are going ahead with our programme."


Factionalism in BSP comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 12
Factionalism in the Bahujan Samaj Party come to the fore when Bahujan Samaj Party Punjab ex-vice-president M.P. Singh Goraya raised his voice against Punjab BSP president Avtar Singh Karimpuri, alleging Mr Karimpuri wanted to wind up the party in Punjab.

Talking to newsmen here today, he alleged that Mr Karimpuri had hatched a deep rooted conspiracy to wind up the party, as Mr Goraya alleged that Mr Karimpuri had joined hands with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Demanding the immediate removal of Mr Karimpuri from the post of the state president of the party, Mr Goraya said he along with his other colleagues would meet Ms Mayawati soon to apprise her of the latest development.

Denying allegations that he had joined hands with the family members of Mr Kanshi Ram, Mr Goraya said he was a sincere and loyal worker of the BSP headed by Mr Kanshi Ram and Ms Mayawati. He claimed the support of BSP’s ex-vice president Sukhbir Singh Shalimar, ex-chairman Harbhagwan Singh Sareen, and ex-state general secretary Captain Sohan Singh.


Cong secy joins BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
A secretary of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Mr Surinder Singh Shahi, today joined the BJP and alleged that corruption in the Punjab Government started right on the doorstep of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

He said he had contested the Assembly elections in the state in 1985 from Tarn Taran on Congress ticket and had been working with the Congress for more than 30 years.

He along with Mr Harinder Pal Singh of the Sarb Hind Akali Dal and Mr Manjit Singh Dhillon of the SAD joined the BJP.

He alleged that the Congress government was virtually auctioning posts. The Congress was raising the bogey of terrorism and this was just to garner votes by projecting itself as the saviour against terrorism, he added.


8 Congress supporters elected directors of milk producers’ union
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 12
A Congress nominee is likely to be the chairman of the Sangrur District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (popularly known as Verka Milk Plant, Sangrur) as in the election to the posts of directors of the Milk Producers Union candidates from eight zones, loyal to the Congress party, won the elections, which concluded at various places in the district today. Three candidates having allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), won elections in three zones.

Elections were not contested by the Congress and the SAD on party basis, but candidates, having allegiance to these parties, were reportedly supported in a big way by leaders of both parties to capture the milk producers union.

There were 12 zones in the district to elect the same number of directors. Out of 11 elected directors, three, reportedly belonging to the Congress, were earlier elected unopposed while elections to eight posts of director were held today. Election to the zone number 12 (Gharachon-Jhanerri) could not be held as nomination papers of the lone candidate from this zone were earlier rejected on technical grounds.

Giving details of results election, Mr Randhir Singh Mann, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Department, Ludhiana, who was Returning Officer for the elections, said Mr Labh Singh Mour won from zone number 1 (Sehna-Bhadaur), Mr Nirmal Singh Kaire from zone number 2 (Mehal Kalan), Mr Kewal Singh Bhogiwal from zone number 3 (Sandaur), Mr Avtar Singh Naromajra from zone number 4 (Manvi-Naromajra), Mr Zora Singh Jainpur from zone number 5 (Jainpur-Bagrian), Ms Paramjit Kaur Kattu from zone number 6 (Badbar), Mr Navtej Singh from zone number 7 (Bahadurpur-Kherri), Mr Harinder Singh Palasore from zone number 8 (Bhojowali-Bhalwan), Mr Khushpal Singh Bir Kalan from zone number 9 (Chhajli-Sangatpura), Mr Jagseer Singh from zone number 10 (Kamalpur-Gujran) and Mr Baldev Singh from zone number 11 (Lehal Kalan-Hamirgarh).

Mr Nirmal Singh Kaire, Mr Jagseer Singh and Mr Baldev Singh, who have allegiance to the Congress party, were elected unopposed, while Mr Kewal Singh Bhogiwal, Mr Avtar Singh Naro Majra, Ms Paramjit Kaur Kattu, Mr Navtej Singh and Mr Harinder Singh Palasor, also having allegiance reportedly to the Congress party, were elected in the direct contests. The names of three winner candidates, who have allegiance reportedly to the SAD, are Mr Labh Singh Mour, Mr Zora Singh Jainpur and Mr Khushpal Singh Bir Kalan.

The Returning Officer Mr Mann said the elections to the posts of chairman and vice-chairman of the milk producers’ society were expected to be held in a month.


Construction work goes on even after 14 years
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 12
Even after 14 years, the construction of Ropar district jail has not been completed. The project was initially started by the PWD in 1991. Later it was handed over to the Punjab Police Housing Corporation. For whatever reasons, the work is still going on at a slow pace.

At present, about 35 undertrial have been lodged in the Sub-Jail, Ropar, while most of the undertrials hailing from the district have been lodged at other jails in Patiala, Nabha and Ludhiana due to paucity of the space.

The delay in the construction of district jail has been putting an additional burden of several lakh rupees on the state on account of transportation of undertrials from other jails to Ropar district court for hearings.

Besides, the family members of the undertrials have to spend a lot of money and time to meet them in the distant jails. There were also chances of escape for undertrials as they have to stay till evening in the court and then wait for bus to take them to their respective jails.

There have been several instances, when the undertrial escaped from the police custody while they were being produced in the court.

With the completion of jail construction work which is spread in 23 acre, it will have capacity to accommodate about 800 undertrials and convicts. Till date, four barracks, main gate, security walls and some official quarters have been completed but work of langar hall, hospital and women cell is yet to be completed.

When contacted Sub-Jail, Ropar, DSP, Chander Mohan, said that he had joined recently and did not have details about the construction of the district jail. The under-trials in Sub-Jail were lodged as per the capacity, he added.


Rly commuters for waiving Rs 10 extra charges
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 12
A large number of railway commuters here today sent a representation to the Union Railway Minister, the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and the DRM, Firozepur Division, Northern Railways, pleading for waiving Rs 10 supplementary charges per trip from commuters on superfast trains and not designating New Delhi-Amritsar Express, covering a distance of less than 500 km and having several stoppages as superfast train.

Mr Vijender Singh Rana and Mr Manjit Singh, argued that mere change of name of a train to a superfast train without providing additional facilities to commuters and charging Rs 10 extra should not be done.

This affected their budget as commuters were mostly low-paid employees, they remarked.

The commuters claimed that while the daily passengers from Phagwara to Ludhiana paid Rs 145 per month for monthly season ticket, they were made to cough out Rs 500 extra per month for the superfast charges at the rate of Rs 20 add ional for two trips daily.

They asserted that the New Delhi-Amritsar Express, now changed to a superfast train, did not provide any additional benefit to passengers.

This train covered a distance of 450 km and had more than 15 stoppages between Amritsar and New Delhi which proved it was not a long-distance train.


CVO asked to probe corruption charge
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 12
The Chief Vigilance Officer of the Local Government Department, Mr A.K. Kansal, has been asked to probe a charge of corruption levelled against the accountant of the local Municipal Council by a widow of an employee of the civic body.

According to information available, Surjit Kaur, wife of late Om Parkash, who worked as a safai sewak with the vicic body, alleged that the accountant, Mr Harbaksh Singh had taken Rs 10,000 from her on the promise of helping her get a job in the council on compassionate grounds and releasing other pending dues. Surjit Kaur had also lost her son who, too, worked as a safai sewak in the council.

In a complaint the widow had alleged that the accountant was neither returning the money taken from her not making any effort to get her a job in place of her son. Other financial benefits had also allegedly not been given to her so far.

The matter was brought to the notice of the Principal Secretary. Local Government, Punjab, Mr B.R. Bajaj, who then marked an inquiry in the case.

It is reported that a son of Surjit Kaur was given the job in place of his father on compassionate grounds. But unfortunately the son also died after some time. As such the daughter-in-law of Surjit Kaur was then given the job due to the death of her husband. The daughter-in-law had got a succession certificate from the Ropar Deputy Commissioner in this regard. However, Surjit Kaur claimed that she should have been given the job due to the death of her son.

Mr Kansal said that he had been asked by the Director, Local Government, to probe the matter and the investigations in this regard were going on.


PM urged to release stamp on Darbar Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur urged the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to release a commemorative stamp to mark 400th year of installation of Guru Granth Sahib, during his proposed visit to the city next month.

In a letter to the PM, she stated that the stamp was earlier scheduled to be released on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev on June 16, but due to “unsupportive” stance of the ruling party it could not be released. Buttressing the claim for the honour, the SGPC president said Guru Granth Sahib was first installed at Gurdwara Ramsar, hence the Golden Temple was the most ideal location for release of the stamp.


Pension arrears to be released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab Government has decided to release arrears of pensions granted under various categories. A sum of Rs 97 crore has been released and till March next year the entire sum which accrued as arrears will be cleared in two instalments, announced Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh here today.

A total sum of Rs 195 crore will be released as pension arrears till March next year. The pensions are for the aged, widows, destitute women, disabled persons and Scheduled Castes, among other categories. About 10 lakh persons stand to benefit from this, said the Chief Minister while talking to media persons after inaugurating the revamped media room at the Punjab Civil Secretariat here.

The Chief Minister went on to claim that he had informed his party as well as the Government before leaving for Dubai. He went on to add: “ How can I go missing for three days. As per the security plan, a red alert will be sounded within minutes of me going missing.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the government said another 50,684 applications from rural areas for pension and financial assistance pending under the schemes for the aged, widows, destitute women, dependent children and disabled persons would also be disposed off soon.

The spokesperson further said that a sum of Rs 50 crore had been earmarked during the year 2005-06 to provide houses to Scheduled Castes in rural and urban areas thereby covering 25,000 families.

This year a sum of Rs 350 crore has been earmarked for 14. 58 lakh pensionary beneficiaries. This includes a sum of Rs 264 crore under the old-age pension for 11 lakh beneficiaries. Likewise an amount of Rs 44 crore, 18 crore and Rs 24 crore had been earmarked for beneficiaries under the scheme for widows and destitute women, dependent children and disabled persons respectively.


Get SC certificate in Rs 100
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 12
A Brahmin youth succeeded in changing his caste here, courtesy “testimony in Rs 100”. An ex-councillor of Bathinda tehsil reportedly gave a wrong testimony on his certificate.

According to sources, the tehsil issued a certificate of Ramdasia caste on June 23. The sources said he reportedly got the certificate to take advantage of reservation. Tripta Devi, an ex-municipal councillor, gave a wrong testimony for Rs 100. This despite the district administration’s order that only the ward councillor could give testimony on any such paper.

Pradeep Kumar had lodged a complaint against the fake caste certificate case. 


30 children from J&K visit Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
As many as 30 children from various areas of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) reached here today on a two-day visit under the Sadhbhavna programme of the Army.

Major General S.C. Sharma, GOC, Panther Division, welcomed and interacted with the children. He emphasised on the importance of contribution of youth towards the national integrity. He also highlighted the importance of self discipline and hard work in life.


Army jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Pahtankot, July 12
The mortal remains of jawan Parmodh Dhiman were today consigned to flames at his native Tharyal village with full military honours. Parmodh lost his life near Kishatwar in Jammu and Kashmir during an encounter with militants on Sunday.

Wrapped in the tricolour, the body was brought last late night at his residence. Parmodh joined the Army about two and half years ago and was attached with Dogra Regiment and later posted with 11 Rashtriya Rifles.

A contingent of the Army reversed their arms and sounded the last post when the pyre was lit. Those who attended the cremation and paid tributes, include Col P.K.S. Dadwal, Major Deepak, Capt Anju Tiwari and Mr Naresh Puri, president of the Muncipal Council Sujanpur.


Residents hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 12
Residents of Ward Nos. 8 and 9 of the Industrial Area yesterday held a demonstration near the ESI Hospital against the indifferent attitude of the Nagar Council towards sanitation and sewerage problems in the residential area and demanded the resignation of the councillors of the wards.

Slogan-shouting protesters alleged that a majority of the residents had been suffering from water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis and cholera.

Beset with problems, the residents have been for the past few days drinking contaminated water.


Tribune employee bereaved

Amritsar, July 12
Mr Ram Lal Sharma, father-in-law of Mr Subash Sharma, In charge Tribune office here, died of heart attack today morning at Pathankot. He was 72 years old. He is survived by two sons and three daughters. — OC


Supply free power, water to all farmers: BKU
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 12
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) has urged the Punjab Government to supply free power and water to farmers of Punjab in accordance with the pre-poll Congress promise that it would extend these two facilities to the farmers free of cost if it came to power in the 2002 Assembly elections.

The BKU (Ekta) has also demanded that the supply of free power and water should be irrespective of size of land holdings and the facility should be extended to all farmers.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, the state general secretary of the BKU (Ekta) said it was resolved at a meeting held here under the presidentship of party chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan that “big landlords” like Captain Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal did not deserve the facility of free power and water .

Another resolution of the party was that power bill arrears of farmers should be waived. Mr Kokrikalan said 14 organisations would hold a joint state-level rally at Barnala on July 21 in which more than 5000 farmers would participate. He said his organisation was also toying with the idea to bring out a quarterly magazine, “Kisan Ekta,” which would highlight problems of farmers. 


Licences of 9 depot holders suspended

Moga, July 12
Deputy Commissioner of Muktsar Dalip Kumar has suspended licences of nine depot holders and issued show-cause notices to 16 depot holders of Muktsar district on the charge of committing fraud in distribution of wheat under Antodya Scheme and also to those living below poverty line people. Dalip Kumar, while presiding over the district development committee meeting at Muktsar today, said he had received large number of complaints against depot holders.

He got the complaints verified through a committee consisting of the District Food and Supplies Controller and the Block Development and Panchayat Officer.

On the recommendations of the committee, the DC took serious notice of such irregularities as how these depot holders never supplied the wheat under the schemes and sold it at higher price of Rs 6.22 per kg to the common man. — PTI


Two held in robbery case, three absconding

Jalalabad, July 12
The police has claimed to have solved a robbery in which three motor cycle-borne robbers had snatched a bag containing cash from Pawan Kumar and his brother while they were returning to their home after closing their shop.

Two suspects, Balkar Singh of Mamdot and Falak Singh of the city have been arrested with one .12-bore pistol, six cartridges and one Yamaha motor cycle.

One of the suspects has told the police that at least five persons were involved in the crime. Krishan Singh, Surjit Singh and Gurdev Singh are absconding.

The police said Balkar Singh, alias Fauji, was involved in a number of other criminal cases and was arrested from his residence. Falak Singh was arrested near his house. — OC


Five arrested for duping people
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 12
The police has arrested five persons for collecting wheat from various villages of Malwa under the pretext of ‘kar seva’.

According to sources, posing as volunteers of the Loh Langar, Anandpur Sahib, these men would visit rural areas and seek wheat from unsuspecting people. They would also lift wheat sacks if they found a woman alone in a house. They also had a letter pad of Loh Langar that they used to deceive villagers. They also had a canter to load wheat gathered from the villages. Luck ran out on them yesterday when they had no money to fill diesel in their vehicle. The accused, five in number, reached Navjot Cement Factory and snatched Rs 1,429 from the factory owner’s son at knife point before fleeing. The police succeeded in nabbing them and recovered the robbed amount and a knife from their possession, besides impounding their vehicle, which had a fake registration number. One of them, Balkar Singh, was booked last year too for the same offence.

The police has booked gang leader, Lakhbir Singh alias Lakha, and his aides — Chhinder Singh, Dhyan Singh, Harbhajan Singh, and Balkar Singh, under Sections 395, 450, 402, 420, 468, and 471, of the IPC at Sadar police station.


Five held for robbing businessman
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 12
The police has arrested five persons allegedly for committing robbery at a cement unit located at Chahal, village 5 km from here, two days back. A canter bearing fake registration number used by them has also been seized.

The accused have been identified as Lakhvir Singh, alias Lakha, Sinder Singh, Dhayan Singh, Harbhjan Singh all from Amritsar and Balkar Singh, a resident of Kotkapura in the district.

During investigation, the accused admitted of committing a number of robberies. A case has been registered.


PTU MSc (IT) gets recognition
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 12
The distance education programme being run by Punjab Technical University (PTU) received a new dimension as M.Sc.(IT) degree being imparted under the course has been rated equivalent to the British-taught master degree standards by the UK government.

Dr R.P. Singh, Dean, Distance Education, PTU, said that a few who passed out students from the learning centres had asked the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC), UK, a national agency for providing official information and advice on the comparability of international qualifications, for the comparability of her degrees/diploma as per UK education system.

In response to query, the students received a letter stating that “Master of Science-Information Technology, awarded by Punjab Technical University is considered comparable to British taught Master’s Degree standard.”

Dr R.P. Singh said, “This is significant achievement of the university considering that most of Indian students migrating abroad are asked to take some additional courses from the local universities of that country after they are given equivalence of qualification.”


GND varsity VC gets extension
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today cleared the file to give one-year extension to Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University.

According to sources in the Punjab Civil Secretariat, the file has been sent to Punjab Bhavan and the Governor-cum-Chancellor of the university is likely to issue notification in this regard tomorrow.

Dr S.P. Singh, who was appointed as Vice-Chancellor on July 22, 2001, was given one-year extension last year . His term was to be completed on July 23 this year.


Failed MBBS students seek grace marks

Chandigarh, July 12
The Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, here today assured a deputation of students of government medical colleges in Punjab that she would instruct the Secretary, Medical Education, to look into the demand made by the deputation for grace marks in the annual examination.

The deputation told Mrs Bhattal that 140 students appeared in the final year of the MBBS this year in the state and 50 of them got “supplementaries” in one or two subjects. Most of the students had failed to clear the medicine and surgery examinations. — TNS


Bank signs MoU with motorcycle company
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The State Bank of Patiala (SBP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the brand name “SBP-Royal Enfield Super Saver Plan”. Under the new alliance, buyers of this motorcycle brand would be getting finance at very low interest rates.

According to a SBOP press release, the bank would provide hassle free loan to the customers of this brand with minimum processing time. On its part, the motorcycle company would be providing the additional free servicing along with the other benefits to the customers.. The MoU was signed by General Manager (Planning and Development) Mr Sebastian Chakko and General Manager, Royal Enfield, Mr Maharaj Krishan.

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