P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Judgement reserved in SAD MPs’ case
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved its judgement on the issue of maintainability of the petition filed by Shiromani Akali Dal MPs led by former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, seeking a probe by Central Government agencies into the alleged Punjab Intranet scam.

The Bench will decide if any notice of motion should be issued to the respondents in the case.

Today, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain heard the arguments of counsel for the petitioners, who stated that it was a fit case for ordering a CBI inquiry.

Counsel also pointed out that the report of the Nehra Commission submitted on December 17 last has been still pending in the Punjab Assembly. However, the Bench wondered if the High Court could intervene in the issue since the matter was pending in the Vidhan Sabha.

The petitioners have sought an independent probe into the alleged investment of $ 1 lakh (US) by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh in a Dutch company in violation of foreign exchange regulation laws.

The petitioners have sought an inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) into the alleged transaction of $ 1 lakh via a Singapore-based and a Mauritius firm to his Dutch friend Leonard A Freeke for investment in a project named Punjab Internet Company in August, 2003.

The Akali leaders have also sought quashing of the report submitted by Justice Nehra Commission in the matter.

They have alleged that the rule of law was rendered a casualty in Punjab due to the failure of the official respondents to take action as per law by initiating investigation against the Chief Minister and his son despite established facts that they were guilty of hawala transactions.


Infected wheat used in Mid-day Meal Scheme
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
Just when the dust was settling down on the issue of rotten eatables at anganwadis, an incident at Jassi Po Wali village has raised a question mark over the quality of wheat being supplied to some schools of the district under the Mid-day Meal scheme. The Tribune found wheat infested with beetle and rat excreta at Jassi Po Wali and Bhaagu villages.

Indu Kaur, a student of Class IV at Government Elementary School, Jassi Po Wali, complained that some foreign body got stuck in her throat after she consumed “dalia” served under the scheme at the school.

It was by doctors at Civil Hospital Bathinda.

The Tribune team then headed towards Jassi Po Wali village to find out as to how the scheme was being run there. The village sarpanch, Gurjant Singh, showed wheat-infested with dust, beetle, and other foreign particles. A self-help group has been cooking the meals for students here and the wheat stock has been kept at the residence of a panchayat member, Surjeet Kaur. Some of the sacks had poor quality wheat infested with dust and other foreign particles. Surjeet Kaur admitted that she had also complained about the poor quality of the wheat to one Balwinder Kaur, who issues her cheques of payment, working at the BDPO office. Though she was not an official concerned, she surprisingly told her to use that wheat herself and replace it with better quality stuff.

Surjeet Kaur said they had to put in a lot of effort to clean wheat before taking it to flour mill. She said some of the foreign particles didn’t even get crushed in the grinding process. She lamented that they were being paid mere Rs 1.7 per child per day for preparing their meal with ingredients like 10 gm ghee, 20 gm flour, 15 gm sugar, and 10 gm groundnut, for each one of them, besides cooking gas or firewood. She said they didn’t have a profit of single penny in the work.

The Tribune’s next stop was the neighbouring Gehri Bhagi village, where the wheat stock was kept at the residence of Balbir Kaur who has got the work of cooking meal under the scheme. Though wheat was found okay here, there was a lack of proper storage. At the nearby Bhaagu village, too, storage scenario was bad and the quality of wheat was worse than Jassi Po Wali, as wheat in one of the sacks was infested with rats’ excreta.

In Burj Kahan Singh Wala village, wheat stock has finished and children were not getting meals for the past four days.

Similarly, parents of children attending an EGS Centre at Hans Nagar had raised their voice when their wards were served half-cooked meals. The parents complained that “pinnis” given to their children on May 27 and 28 were not prepared properly. The department had reportedly stopped serving them meal due to parents’ opposition.

The DEO (Elementary) had also written a letter to the DDPO in this regard on June 1. The meal was resumed at this centre following a probe on June 2. Sources said the Food and Supply Department directly sends wheat to self-help groups after procuring it from the FCI.

When contacted, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sucha Singh Mast (Development), said he had asked the BDPO, Ravinder Singh, to look into the matter. He said as of now they had received no complaint about the poor quality of wheat.


UK law firm to contest turban case
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Dr M.S. Rahi, an advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said here today that a Bristol-based firm of lawyers had been engaged to contest the turban case in the European Court of Human Right at Strasbourg (France).

He told TNS that the petition had been prepared on behalf of Mr Ranjit Singh, an NRI settled in France. Besides the UK-based firm, certain French lawyers would also extend help in contesting the case.

Mr Ranjit Singh’s welfare allowance was stopped by the French Government as he had refused to get photographed without a turban for the issuance of an identity card there. In France, Sikhs have to remove their turban to get photographed for the issuance of the identity card by the authorities concerned.

Dr Rahi, who had gone to France two weeks ago along with Mr Manjit Singh Khaira, another advocate and Akali leader, said that the preliminary hearing of the case would be before a single judge. Later the case would go to the Double Bench. He said that certain additional documents regarding Sikh history, culture and religion were to be attached with the petition.

He said a book by him on the turban issue would be part of the petition. Copies of the book were to be sent to France by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara management Committee, which had helped get it published.

Dr Rahi said that disunity among Sikh organisations and the divergent views of various Panthic organisations on the turban issue had become a big stumbling block in the legal battle. It was unfortunate that these organisations were not united even on an issue which was related to the entire community.

He said there was also a problem of finances. A lot of money was required to contest the case in French and European courts. “During our stay in France, we distributed literature on the Sikh religion, the turban and related social and political issues among members of the European Parliament and opinion leaders of France,” he added.


Tehelka witness alleges receiving threats
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
Prime witness in the Tehelka scam, Mr Mathews Samuel, today added a new twist to the case by claiming that he had been approached and even threatened by certain senior army officers to depose in favour of the accused.

Speaking to The Tribune after appearing before a general court martial trying Brig Iqbal Singh for professional impropriety in the same case, Mathews said a retired lieutenant-general first contacted him through a common friend and then about a month ago started calling him up on his cellular phone.

While working with news portal tehelka.com, Mathews had physically executed a sting operation which had caught senior politicians, bureaucrats and army officers on video tape while allegedly demanding and accepting bribes from fictitious arms dealers and is an eye witness to the whole operation.

He said he also received a call recently from a landline located in Delhi Cantonment, where the caller claiming to be an army officer asked him to help out Brig S.S. Gill. Brigadier Gill had recorded the additional summary of evidence (SOE) in Brigadier Iqbal’s case. Another witness in the case had alleged that the brigadier had altered certain statements given by him in the SOE. Mathews said that he was told by the caller that if he did not help the brigadier, then no one would come forward to rescue him either.

Prosecution counsel Arvind Moudgil later said that Mathews had forwarded a representation to the court’s convening authority, in which he has highlighted these developments and requested that he be granted time till July 30 for his deposition as he is in shock and not in a proper state of mind to depose.

Mr Moudgil added that the representation also said that statements given by Mathews in the SOE had been tampered with and certain additions had been made to favour the accused.

Earlier, on appearing before the court at the start of the day’s proceedings, Mathews said that he had been approached by certain officers to support the accused in his deposition and was also threatened. He was advised that he could file an FIR with the police or appraise the convening authority in this regard. He added that he was not-well and suffering from severe backache and not in a condition to depose before the court. He sought time from the court so that he could avail medical treatment. The court has fixed July 26 as the next date of hearing.

The defence counsel, Maj R.S. Randhawa (retd), however, termed the whole episode to be a “drama” enacted to prejudice the court. He said that the witness had made these claims to get out of certain uncomfortable statements made by him during the SOE.


Three Hawara accomplices held
Tribune News Service

Khanna, July 16
The Fatehgarh Sahib police has arrested three alleged accomplices of Jagtar Singh Hawara, who had allegedly planned to kill former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal.

One of the alleged terrorists had facilitated Hawara’s stay in a house in Model Town colony of Ludhiana. This has been revealed for the first time that Hawara had stayed in Ludhiana too.

The police recovered one AK 47 rifle, 25 live cartridges, two grenades and a Zen car on Saturday.

The arrested terrorists were identified as Inderjit Singh of Barmali Pur, Randhir Singh of Khant and Aman Singh Lapran. All three were arrested in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

Sources in the police said the terrorists were arrested while travelling in a Zen car. Inderjit Singh has confessed to the murder of Dr Jasvir Singh of Chunni. The police said Hawara committed the murder with the help of Inderjit Singh.

Randhir Singh Dhira, a resident of Khant village, had planed to kill Bhajan Lal in a rally in Hisar by planting bombs in the last Assembly elections.

The third accused, Aman Singh Lapran, had helped Hawara to hide in a residence in the Model Town area in Ludhiana for more than one month.


Harbourer held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Kudowal village near Kartarpur, has been arrested on allegations of harbouring terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara in his house for a couple of days during Hola Mohalla days in March.

Sukhwinder Singh had allegedly been deported from the USA, where his family was still putting up.

Though the police was still investigating the case, police sources said Hawara stayed with Sukhwinder for two days after Hola Mohalla.

In his defence, Sukhwinder Singh, it was learnt, has told the police that he did not knew that the person, who was referred to by one of his USA based friends was, in fact, Jagtar Singh Hawara. As his friend had told him that some Jagtar Singh, who would be meeting him at Machhiwara, needed his help, he brought him from Machhiwara and arranged for his stay in his house without knowing that he was Jagtar Singh Hawara, the head of the BKI.

The Jalandhar police, that has booked Sukhwinder Singh under Section 212 of the IPC, was looking into all aspects and was subjecting Sukhwinder Singh to exhaustive questioning to ascertain his role.


Remand of wife, others extended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
The judicial remand of Balwinder Kaur, wife of Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) in India, was extended till July 30 by a Dhuri court today.

The court also extended the judicial remand of Sukhdev Singh, a granthi of Dohla village (near Dhuri), who reportedly got performed the marriage of Balwinder with Hawara, Amarjit Singh, a resident of Kalka, and Pargat Singh, a resident of Sujadpur, till July 30.


Govt shuts eyes to erosion by Beas
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dhilwan (Kapurthala), July 16
Residents of a number of villages situated on the banks of the Beas are up in arms against the state government as no efforts have been made to save their land from erosion due to change in the course of the river.

Residents of Mand Butala, Chakoki, Dhilwan and other villages have decided to launch an agitation in case no steps are taken immediately to save their land.

“We sent a letter to the Deputy Commissioner on July 12 demanding action to save their land from erosion otherwise the villagers of the area will have no alternative than to starting an agitation against the government,” said Mr Mohan Singh Bal of Mand Butala village.

“We would prefer to face the bullets of the Punjab police during our agitation rather than committing suicide after our land is washed away by the river,” said Mr Gurdevjit Singh, Sarpanch of Chakoki village.

Dr Swaran Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar Range, visited the area on June 22 to take the stock of the situation after the authorities in Chandigarh took the notice of a news item published in The Tribune columns in May regarding losses suffered by farmers of the area due to erosion of their cultivable land.

The Commissioner had told the villagers that temporary bundhs would be constructed to save their land and after the rainy season steps would be taken to tackle the problem on a permanent basis.

In a survey conducted by the Drainage Department it has been found that the rate of soil erosion is one foot per day. The land alongside the river has been eroded up to 24 feet since the tour of the Commissioner.

“Our agony is not difficult to be imagined as our land is being snatched in front of our eyes and we can do nothing except requesting the government for help,” lamented Mr Ajit Singh, a former Sarpanch of Chakoki village.

Meanwhile, the river has started changing its course in other parts of the area also. With an increased water flow during rainy season the river is now flowing just 20 feet away from the Dhussi bundh at the place between a railway bridge and a road bridge near Dhilwan.

In case there are heavy rains in the area there is every possibility of water flowing over the Dhussi bundh on the left side of the river in Kapurthala district as right end of the river is on a higher surface, claimed Mr Gurmail Singh Sandhu, member of the Zila Parishad, Kapurthala.

On the other hand, Mr Sameer Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, denying any threat of floods in the area, said the water in the river was receding and the steps to contain the land erosion were under consideration of the government.


Harike beset with problems
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Harike, July 16
A visitor entering the Harike aviary sanctuary these days may not find a single bird, fish or any other peculiar animal but will certainly be able to watch plenty of grazing animals, pigs, tall grass and vast patches of water hyacinth floating on the dirty waters stretching up to 86 sq km of this North India’s largest wetland.

As one walks inside the sanctuary on the muddy path, there are cows and buffaloes sitting after every short distance. Going a little ahead one may spot a few monitor lizards, popularly known as “goh”, coming out of their burrows along the path and feeding on tiny insects and termites.

Somewhere further, one can climb up the watch towers and see a few pigs and jackals treading through tall sarkanda grass along the swampy edges of the wetland. Using binoculars up on the tower, one may keep a vigil for hours but only to find a cormorant or a heron.

Passing over the same path, one can even see a few blooming lotus flowers on the water surface and lots of water hyacinth forming a huge mat over the water. All along the path there are machines meant for dragging out the hyacinth but these are simply getting corroded as these have not been used for the past several months.

One can take a round or two on the muddy 8-km path of the sanctuary but cannot find a single fish in the water, clearly indicating the possibility of anaerobic conditions due to water hyacinth and presence of excessive amounts of pollutants in the water.

Sources revealed that water hyacinth infestation was leading to a reduction in the number of fish, causing an adverse effect on biological diversity in the wetland, but nothing was being done to control it. They said it was also a hindrance to motor boats as these often got trapped in the mesh formed by this “floating nightmare”.

The only major exercise that was ever made to prevent choking of the vast water body due to excessive growth of water hyacinth was by the Vajra Corps of the Indian Army in 2000. The Army had demonstrated the effective use of innovative mechanical system of weed removal.

Harike is beset with several other problems, including silting and shrinking of the water body, encroachment, fishing, plantations, pollution and poaching. Employees of the sanctuary said they had caught at least 14 men a few months ago who had managed to enter the sanctuary to capture rare wild species of animals.

Though a number of state agencies like the Forest and Wildlife Department, the Irrigation Department, the Soil Conservation Department, the Punjab Pollution Control Board, the Punjab Energy Development Agency and various research institutes are actively involved in conservation activities related to wetlands, these often act in isolation. Since the triangular water body also has three districts touching on its sides, the local officers of the three districts also have not bothered to devise a management action plan for a coordinated conservation.

Mr A.S. Dogra, Chief Wildlife Warden, said he did not have complete details of the funds coming for the purpose and he should be contacted personally in his Chandigarh office for details. Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board, said the board could only act on specific complaints received by it over mixing of industrial effluents in the Sutlej, the Beas and the Kali Bein which have their confluence at Harike.


No sulking in PSHRC, says secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has refuted a news-item published in The Tribune headlined ‘PSHRC members sulking’ on July 10.

A letter issued by the Secretary of the Commission, Mr R.C. Nayyar, says that the part about some members of the PSHRC sulking has been found to be subjective, tendentious, vague, contradictory as well as inaccurate by the commission. The release says that the sulking portion is also contradictory as the news-item goes on to say that some members have adopted a confrontationist attitude towards the High Court.

“The inner withdrawal from psychological pressure associated with sulkiness is not in the commission’s view consistent with the aggression associated with a confrontationist attitude,” the release says.

The letter also says that “it is a matter of regret that your correspondent did not meet any of the members in person or spoke to them on telephone before filing his report, which seems to be a creative piece based on fancies, rather than an accurate depiction of facts.”

The letter says that the PSHRC is acting as per the mandate given to it by the statute and the law laid down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court is Jatt Ram v/s State of Punjab. It also says that the so-called threat by a member that he would rather resign than work in such a manner is also a figment of imagination and sounds mischievous.

It also claims that the PSHRC is functioning as smoothly and in harmony as before.

Tribune correspondent replies: While I do not wish to get into the issue of whether a person can be sullen and confrontationist at the same time or not, I stand by the use of words “sullen/sulking” in the story.

One does not need to say anything to convey that he is sulking. Mere actions are enough to convey the message. In their (some PSHRC members) case, complainants and lawyers appearing before them gave ample instances to indicate that they were sulking.

As for the charge that I did not meet any of the members, I wish to state that I spent half a day in the PSHRC office, meeting among others, the Chairman, the Secretary, police officials and a member whom I do not wish to name.

The report is not a figment of imagination and sources did tell me that a member had actually threatened to resign. As for work coming to a standstill, a lawyer has been quoted as giving the correct picture.


Wall demolition leads to tension
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 16
SDM Jaskiran Singh and DSP Narinderpal Singh were expected to send their reports to the DC and the SSP, Ferozepore, on Sunday through special messengers regarding the role of the Executive Officer (EO) and Sanitary Inspectors of the local Municipal Council in the demolition of boundary wall of privately owned Shyam Vihar Colony last evening, which could have led to communal riots, sources said.

The council, under the police protection, had demolished the boundary wall of the Shyam Vihar Colony on Thursday to allow passage to 25-acre municipal land, located behind the colony. Mr Davinder Kumar Goyal, EO of the council, said the council had resolved to auction 20 acre for developing a residential colony to raise funds and a five-acre strip was to be utilised for constructing residential quarters for sanitation workers. However, residents of Shyam Vihar Colony, most of them from Vaish and Arora communities, said the government had not so far approved the plan for creating the colony.

They reconstructed the demolished wall on Friday and started akhand path of Ram Charit Manas.

Sources said the EO, the Municipal Engineer and Sanitary Inspectors took the help of more than 100 safai sewaks, members of their families, including women and children, for removing the wall again. The mob reportedly ransacked the premises where recitation of Ram Charit Manas was in progress. Demolition of the wall also caused damage to the ‘palki’, in which the holy book had been placed. Some devotees received minor injuries.

The residents alleged that the EO and his colleagues had hatched a conspiracy by instigating the Dalits and engaged representatives of the Vaish community in negotiations somewhere else. The EO, however, refuted the allegations. Mr M.L. Puri, Tehsildar-cum-Executive Magistrate, reached the spot late in the evening and informed SDM Jaskiran Singh that the situation was worsening as more members of both communities were pouring in.

BJP workers and social activists also reached there and started raising slogans against the administration. They maintained that the residents had offered to install an iron gate for the proposed colony at their own expenses, but the EO and his associate officials remained adamant on demolishing the wall.

The SDM and the DSP reached there and controlled the situation by pacifying the residents of the colony. They assured them that action would be recommended against the guilty council officials. They decided on the spot that the residents would be permitted to reconstruct the wall. Women resumed recitation of the holy book this morning.

Mr Sandeep Rinwa, general secretary of the district BJP unit, while condemning the council officials for their act demanded that they be sacked immediately. Many religious, social and business organisations said after a joint meeting that they would wait for action against the council officials who, according to them had created ripples among two communities, till Monday for giving call for a Bandh.


Suspected gastro cases in Basti area
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
Gastroenteritis has reportedly gripped some localities in the Basti area due to the alleged supply of contaminated drinking water, even as, the health authorities vehemently denied this and said not even a single case of gastroenteritis had been reported from any part of the city so far.

The supply of water, which was allegedly unfit for consumption, has apparently taken its toll and about 40 residents of the Basti area, particularly, from localities of Basti Danishmandan, were reportedly suffering from gastroenteritis, and were getting treated at private hospitals. So much so that Sain Dass, a resident of New Rasila Nagar, has alleged that he suspected that the death of his wife Swarna was caused by gastroenteritis, for which, the supply of contaminated water was responsible.

Similarly, Gaurav, Rajni, Laxmi, Mohammed Nazrool, Feroza Khatoon, all from basti area localities were allegedly being suffering from gastroenteritis and were being treated at private hospitals of the Basti area.

Meanwhile, Dr Y.C. Markan, Civil Surgeon, said 25 teams of the Health Department, which, have virtually scanned the city for gastroenteritis patients, have not come across even a single case of gastro affected patient so far.

“We have collected four water samples from Bhagat Singh Nagar and have asked the MC to take remedial measures as far as the supply of drinking water is concerned. But gastro symptoms like dehydration and vomiting are not prevailing among people. It is another matter that the consumption of cut fruits and contaminated water was showing its results in Basti areas. But at the same time, we, along with MC, are destroying uncovered cut fruits and other material being sold in certain areas,” said Dr Markan.


Dalit alleges police torture
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
A case of alleged torture of a Dalit youth, Surjit Singh of Kotdoona village, near Dhanaula, by the police came to light when he was admitted to the local Civil Hospital today.

Talking to The Tribune in the hospital, Mr Surjit Singh said on July 8 Mr Jeet Singh, a landlord of his village lodged a “false” complaint with the Dhanaula police against him that he (Surjit) had his missing he-buffalo in his possession or knew about it.

Following the complaint, he had been taken to the Dhanaula police station by the police, where he had been harassed in illegal custody by the policemen for four or five days, he added.

He said on July 14 he had been beaten up by the policemen mercilessly at the police station. When he was in a semi-conscious state, the policemen started massaging his legs and arms. His brother-in-law took him to a private doctor for treatment, he added.

During his “illegal detention”, the Dhanaula police had pressurised him to admit about having the he-buffalo of the landlord or name of any other person in this regard. But he declined to accept both suggestions of the police, as he had no knowledge about the missing he-buffalo, he added.

The SHO of the Dhanaula police station refuted the allegations levelled by Mr Surjit Singh. He said neither the police brought the Dalit youth to the Dhanaula police station nor tortured, interrogate, or beat him up.

On the other hand, Dr Makhan Singh, Emergency Medical Officer (EMO) at the local Civil Hospital, who treated Mr Surjit Singh, said he had sent a message to the police about this medico-legal case. He said in view of internal injuries to Surjit Singh, an X-ray test of Surjit Singh would be done.

Besides, an opinion about internal injuries would also be taken from the surgeon.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagtar Singh Changal, district president of the Bahujan Volunteer Force, asked the authorities concerned to initiate action against the “erring” police officials. Mr Surjit Singh has urged the SSP, Barnala, to register a case against the “erring” policemen.


Passengers escape unhurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 16
The passengers of the 2926 Dn Amritsar- Bandra Paschim Express (Delux) had a providential escape today when the train had a mishap with a truck at the Mehtan village level crossing on the outskirts of Phagwara on the Jalandhar-Phagwara railway track.

The train driver Ram Kishan sustained minor injuries on his hand after splinters of shattered windowpanes of the railway engine hit him.

The mishap occurred as the railway barrier was not down. A truck (PB05H9570), loaded with cement, was going from Anandpur Sahib to Firozepore via Mehtan village. As the truck was passing through the open level crossing, the speeding train rammed into it, damaging its rear part. A portion of the front part of the railway engine was damaged. The train could be stopped about 500m from the mishap site. The truck driver Ashok Kumar of Mallanwala in Firozepore also escaped miraculously.

The gateman Sateyi Lal has been arrested under Section 175 of the Railway Act and Section 427 of the IPC. The gateman, when contacted, said that he had given green signal to 3049 Dn Duplicate Howrah. He had enquired about the arrival of the Paschim Express. He did not down the barrier as he was told that the train was still at Jalandhar Cantonment, he said.

However, Ram Kishen, driver, and Rajinder Kumar Assistant driver of the train, said that since they had got a clear line and

there was no signal down, they kept the train moving.

The mishap occurred at 9.40 am when a heavy downpour was lashing this area. The track was blocked by bags of cement strewn all around. It was cleared around 11.30 am.

About six trains and thousands of passengers were stranded at Phagwara, Chaheru and Jalandhar Cantonment railway stations. These included Amritsar-Howrah mail, Channai-Jammu Andeman Express, 5208 Dn Amritsar- Brauni Janseva Express, 1058 Dn Amritsar-Dadar Express.


Raising day celebrations conclude
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 16
The 35th raising day celebrations of the Sudershan Chakra Division concluded here today with a dare-devil motor cycle performance by the Army Signal Corps.

Earlier, a women's meet was held last night followed by a cultural function that included folk dance and song performance by the Bhola Panchchi troupe.

The auditorium at the Military Station near Sadhuwali village was renamed General Joshi Auditorium, dedicated to Gen B. C. Joshi, former Chief of Army Staff. Major-Gen G. S. Sandhu and Major-Gen A.S. Lamba presided over the ceremony.

Similarly, the main entrance to the military station was renamed Ram Singh Dwar in the memory of Major-Gen Ram Singh, who was posted with the Sudershan Chakra Division in 1971 operations. General Lamba and Brig Bant Singh inaugurated the renovated entrance.

The celebrations were graced by Lieut-Gen P.K. Grover, Major-Gen G.S. Sandhu (retd), Major-Gen S.K. Jaswal, Brig Bant Singh (retd) besides a large number of other officers and jawans along with their families.


5 days on, no trace of two boat tragedy victims
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 16
Even though five days have passed, the bodies of the two persons, including a woman, who were among 12 persons swallowed by the Sutlej on the evening of July 11 in one of worst-ever boat tragedies in the district, have still not been traced.

Though the rescue operation is still going on, and Army and BSF motor boats are making a last-ditch effort to trace the bodies, the chances seem to be remote as the bodies might have been swept into Pakistani territory, said an official.

Meanwhile, Mr Hans Raj Jossan, Minister of State for Forests, who visited Kamalwala, Dhia Dhara and Talli Gulam village today to distribute interim relief to the bereaved families, said the state government had ordered a magisterial probe to ascertain the exact reason behind the tragedy.

He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the boat was in poor condition and it was being navigated by an untrained person.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, who is conducting the inquiry, said Rs 2 lakh had been already provided for the purchase of a new boat, but somehow the order was never placed. He said the BDPO concerned of Valtoha block, under which the area falls, had been asked to explain the delay in the purchase of the boat.


Ban orders imposed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 16
To ensure the safety of life and property of the residents of the district, Ms Jaspreet Talwar, District Magistrate, through an order issued under Section 144 here has made it mandatory for all landlords to give the lists of their tenants to the nearest police station. In another order, the District Magistrate has banned the open sale of 106 medicines without the prescription of Registered Medical Practitioner so that the menace of drug abuse could be controlled.

She has ordered the fixing of reflectors on cycles, rickshaw, trolleys, rehris and other vehicles, so that the accidents may not occur during night. She has banned the plying of loud speakers, orchestras in marriage palaces, crackers and other noise polluting equipments from 6 pm to 8am. She has also banned the loud speakers in religious places, so that the studies of the students may not be affected.

A ban has also been imposed on the photography of 16 places in the district, including bridges over Bhakra Canal, various 220KV Grid Stations in the district and other sensitive places. She warned that if any one found violating the orders would not be spared. To avoid the accidents on roads during night, he has also banned the plying of rickshaws, trolleys, tractors, cycles and every type of vehicle without reflectors during night. All these orders would remain in force upto September 13.


Martyrs memorial parks to be set up
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 16
Mr Vinod Khanna, local MP, today announced that a park would be set up in the memory of martyrs in each constituency of Gurdaspur. A grant of Rs 15 lakh for each park would be given from the MP's local area development fund.

Mr Khanna, who was on a two-day visit to his constituency, made the announcement after visiting the houses of martyrs in Hariyal village near here. Around five Army personnel belonging to the village laid their lives in the recent anti-insurgency operations.

A memorial would be erected in each park containing names of all martyrs from the respective constituency. About Rs 1.35 crore would be spent on the proposed parks.

Mr Khanna appreciated the Punjab Rajput Sabha in helping the families of the martyrs in day to day problems.

Mr Khanna also visited the flood-affected areas in Kathlore village where the locals accused the drainage department of large-scale misuse of the funds.


Vigil stepped up at Madhopur barrier
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 16
After the arrest of five terrorists in the Mendhar area of Poonch district in connection with the recent attack on the Ram Janmabhoomi complex in Ayodhya, checking of vehicles has been stepped up at the “entry point” of Jammu and Kashmir in Madhopur, near here.

The vehicles, carrying weapons and explosives which were used in the attack, had crossed various barriers in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. The Punjab police has even set up two permanent nakas on the Madhopur.

It is believed that some local people might have guided the terrorists for the safe passage of the vehicles carrying weapons.


Parivar youth burn Salman’s effigy
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, July16
Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), led by its district president Avtar Singh Mand, today burnt the effigy of Salman Khan at Gol Chowk on the G.T. Road and blocked vehicular traffic.

The activists were protesting against the film star for his alleged underworld connections and threat calls to Aishwarya Rai.

The protesters also sent a memorandum to the President demanding the arrest of Salman.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Mand, said it was a matter of shame that the film star had not only admitted his connections with the underworld but had also flaunted these. All his films should be stopped from screening, he added.

Pathankot: Activists of the BJYM forced the MSP theatre authorities to stop the screening of the Salman’s film “Maine Pyar Kyon Kiya”.

The activists blocked traffic in front of the theatre to force the administration to stop the screening. The impasse was resolved when the administration ceded to the demand of the protesters.


MLAs’ Australia visit delayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The visit of a group of legislators of Punjab to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong has been delayed because of the unavailability of air reservations.

A group of 36 MLAs, which was originally scheduled to leave on July 16, would now leave Delhi on July 24 and return on August 9, it was officially stated here.


Farmers protest against hike in petrol price
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
A large number of farmers belonging to various organisations, including Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Punjab Kisan Sabha and All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha yesterday protested against the hike in petrol, diesel and electricity charges outside the SDM office here.

They raised slogans against the government and carried placards. They also held rallies.


Nine Punjab IPS officers promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab Government has cleared the promotion of nine IPS officers in the state. The promotions were pending for more than two months as the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) could not meet due to one reason or the other.

The DPC had finally met in the first week of July following which the file was cleared by the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Three 1978 batch IPS officers, at present in the rank of Inspector-General (IG) of Police have been promoted to the rank of Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP). Another six 1987 batch officers have been promoted from the rank of Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) rank to the IG rank.

The new ADGP’s are Mr Rajan Gupta, Mr P.M. Das and Mr H.R. Chaddha. About three months ago, these officers had been given the charge to officiate on posts which are normally held by ADGP-rank officers.

Meanwhile, six new IG’s will be Mr G.S. Sahota, Mr M.K. Tewari, Mr C.S.R. Reddy, Mr V.K. Bhawra, Mr Rajpal Meena and Mr G.S. Grewal.

Interestingly, Mr Dinkar Gupta, also of the 1987 batch, now of deputation to the Central Government, was promoted earlier as IG.


Gateman suspended
Our Correspondent

Phagwara July 16
The Railways authorities have suspended gateman Sateyi Lal and ordered a departmental inquiry into the Paschim Express mishap.

It was learnt from the Railways sources this afternoon that a prima facie case of negligence had been established against the gateman. He has already been arrested.


Murder comes to light after three years
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
The Lehra police has arrested two alleged killers of Sukhdev Singh, a resident of Haryau village, who was murdered about three years ago. One of the alleged killers is deceased’s step-brother Bhola Singh. He was arrested yesterday. Two other persons, including the wife of Bhola Singh, allegedly involved in the murder, are still at large.

Mr Sushil Kumar, DSP, Moonak, said the preliminary investigations, indicated that Sukhdev Singh was murdered by Bhola Singh, his wife Surjit Kaur and two other persons, Ramphal and Modan Singh, about three years ago with an intention of grabbing his land.

After the murder, the body was buried in a field at Haryau village by the accused.

After the disappearance of Sukhdev Singh from the village three years ago, his real brother, Gurdev Singh made all efforts to search him, but could not locate him.

He brought the matter to the notice of the police on July 14 this year and expressed suspicion on Bhola Singh.

The police registered a case and arrested Bhola Singh.

On the information provided by Bhola Singh, the police recovered the body of Sukhdev Singh from a field in Haryau village last night.

The DSP said Ramphal, another accused in the case, was arrested today while Surjit Kaur, wife of Bhola Singh, and Modan Singh were yet to be arrested. Bhola Singh was produced in a Sunam court today which remanded him in police custody for two days.

The police has registered a case against the four accused under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC.


11 injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, July 16
Eleven persons, including four members of a family, were injured in a clash between two groups of residents of Dhakansu Majra village, near here, late last night.

Members of both the groups allegedly used axe, rods and sticks in the clash. They even pelted each other with stones.

The problem started when Davinder Singh, a transporter, and his brother Kuljit Singh were going back to their house in a car, at around 10.30 pm. They asked Bhagwan Singh, a shopkeeper, to give way to their vehicle by shifting his goods from the road.

Following arguments, members of the Bhagwan Singh group and the Davinder Singh group assembled on the spot and indulged into a clash.

Mr Davinder Singh alleged that Bhagwan Singh and his accomplices Narinder Singh, Vinod Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Krishan Singh, Raj Kumar and Dyal Singh attacked him and his brothers, Mr Kuljit Singh, and Mr Ranjit Singh and his uncle Mr Sadhu Singh.

On the other hand, Mr Bhagwan Singh alleged that Davinder Singh and his relatives stormed into his shop and damaged his goods and other commodities. He also alleged that the assailants attacked them with sharp-edged weapons.

Injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, and the police has started investigating into the matter.


Rs 71 lakh scam in Irrigation Dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
A Rs 71 lakh scam has been unearthed in the Majitha division of the Punjab Irrigation department. It relates to the Upper Bari Doab Canal which supplies water to the Majha region.

Certain officials of the department are allegedly involved in the scam. A clerk, who is said to be the brain behind it, has gone abroad.

The Principal Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, had ordered an inquiry into the matter. A special audit team was set up to check the records of the division.

The Chief Engineer of the Irrigation Department, Mr V.K. Mant Rao, said the inquiry had been completed and the report submitted to the authorities. Further action would be taken after examining the report.

Sources said that for several years, the money earned from the sale of sand from the canal and land belonging to the department was not deposited in the government treasury.


Robbers’ gang busted; goods recovered
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 16
Mr Arun Pal Singh, SSP, in a press note issued her yesterday, claimed that a gang of robbers had been busted with the arrest of six of its members, including women.

Among those arrested are Bimla, Ram Sajwal, Tarkeshwar, Sanjay Kumar and Mohan Rao (all belonging to UP and Bihar and at present residing near Phagwara) and Daljit Kumar, a resident of Shivpuri in Phagwara.

The police reportedly recovered from them a .38 bore revolver, three live cartridges, two mobile phones, a camera, CD, DVD, digital radio. TV, remote batteries, three bags, stitched and unstitched clothes and Rs 4,000 in cash which they had looted from the house of a retired teacher, Mr Soni Banga, at Khothran village near Behram on June 5.


Two booked for assault on Sub-Postmaster
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 16
The Barnala police has booked two persons, Ved Prakash Chhabbra and Parmod Kumar, for allegedly manhandling the Sub-Postmaster at the main post office here recently.

Mr Bahadur Singh, Sub-Postmaster, had been manhandled in his office on July 13 and he sustained injuries on his hand and elbow. Agitated colleagues had paralysed postal services thereafter but on intervention of the Superintendent of Post Offices, Sangrur Division, the services were restored.

Following complaint by Mr Bahadur Singh, the Barnala police registered a case against Ved Prakash Chhabbra and Parmod Kumar under Sections 353, 332, 186 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code vide FIR No 180 dated July 13 at Kotwali police station, Barnala.


2 women beaten up in gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Mr Surjit Singh, personal assistant of Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala, MP, today alleged that two women, who along with their children had gone to a local gurdwara in Ajnala, were beaten up by a manager and security persons of the gurdwara.

In a letter signed by a former sarpanch and residents of the area, Mr Surjit Singh alleged that one of the woman was pregnant. They alleged that the police failed to take any action. He said the accused beat up the women alleging that they had stolen a child from the area.


RMP killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 16
A Registered Medical Practitioner was crushed to death when an unidentified vehicle hit the scooter he was driving on Thursday.

Sources said that Bhim Sain, who had opened his own clinic at Nihalkhera village after getting training at a local children care hospital, was returning to Dangarkhera village alongwith Mahabir at 9 p.m. on Wednesday when a speedy four-wheeler hit them on the Abohar-Fazilka road.

A private vehicle took Mahabir to the Civil Hospital here and informed the highway police ambulance about the second casualty.

Mahabir was immediately provided medical assistance and survived but Bhim Sain died on the spot, sources said.

The police have registered a case.


Patwari held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 16
The local vigilance officials caught Prabod Kumar, a patwari posted at Kauntapur village, on the charge of accepting bribe. A trap was laid on complaint by Mr Chand, a resident of the village.

The complainant had alleged that the patwari was asking for a bribe of Rs 500 for providing him copies of his land record. The Vigilance Bureau laid a trap and caught the patwari red-handed while accepting Rs 500 from the complainant.


Senior manager of Markfed held
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 16
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested a senior manager of Markfed, Chandigarh, on the charges of amassing wealth more than his known sources of income. According to sources, vigilance bureau officials from Kapurthala and Jalandhar arrested Mr S.P.S. Garewal from his residence in Ludhiana yesterday night.


BDS students to gherao VC’s office
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
The BDS students, who are desperately trying to get their case resolved regarding unusually high number of supplementaries, have blamed the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University, Faridkot of not taking any action on the recommendations of a committee specially constituted for looking into the issue, despite a lapse of five days.

They said they were given one month to join internship after the declaration of results, but more than 15 days had passed and they were worried about their future. They said if the university did not take immediate action, they would gherao the office of the VC on Monday.

They said the committee had faxed its recommendations to the university, but the VC had not taken any action on these. Though the exact contents of the recommendations were not known, indications were there that the students’ demands had been partly addressed. The students had demanded that they be given 14 grace marks (one per cent of the total marks) or rechecking of the prosthodontics paper. When contacted, the VC’s office refused to divulge any details.

Thirty students out of 49 in two dental colleges in the city have been affected while the state figure of the aggrieved students was 95 out of total of 200. The result was declared on June 28. Students alleged that the number of students placed in the supplementary list this year was “unprecedented”.


Compartment cases denied admissions
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
Students having compartment or re-appear cases in plus two (arts group) have been denied admissions to BA (Part I) by various universities of Punjab.

Ms Raj Gupta, Principal of Swami Vivekananda Girls College, Bathinda, and coordinator of various colleges, told The Tribune here today that students of medical, non-medical and commerce steams had been given the facility to appear in re-appear or compartment examinations in June, 2005, results of which would be declared soon, so they could save one year and get admissions to respective courses.

Ms Gupta said even Panjab University, Chandigarh, had allowed admission in BA (Part I) and other streams to those students who had 20 per cent marks in compartment papers. Why not Punjabi University, Patiala, and the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, could do so? she asked.

She said admissions with a late fee with the Vice-Chancellor’s permission continued up to October and the examinations were held in September and the students could easily clear the examinations by that time thus saving their precious one year.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, said the university was simply following the guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for not admitting the candidates to the BA (Part I) courses who had re-appeared or had compartments in plus two (arts).

He said the candidates could be admitted to BA (Part I) courses if they had cleared their plus two (arts) papers at the time of admission.


PMET counselling to ‘hit’ interests of SC candidates
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 16
The Dr Ambedkar Bhalai Manch here has demanded proper implementation of the reservation policy during the PMET counselling for admission to the MBBS and BDS courses which begins on July 20.

The manch president, Mr Kirpal Singh, said that the counselling for the MBBS course of all reserved categories had been slated for the first day itself. This would hit the interests of the Scheduled Castes (SC) candidates. Besides, it was against the reservation policy settled by the Supreme Court in the case of R.K. Sabharwal vs State of Punjab and the instructions issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (dated July 2, 1997).

He said that as per the instructions and the settled law of the land, SC candidates selected on their own merit would not be adjusted against the reserved seats. The reserved seats would be filled separately from the eligible SC candidates who were lower in merit than the last candidate on the merit list. The manch president said that to call SC candidates on the very first day of counselling was a “conspiracy”. The counselling for the SC candidates should be rescheduled and they should be called on the last day of counselling. A reserve member of the admission committee deputed by the Welfare Department should be specifically asked to look into this aspect at the time of counselling so that the reservation policy might be implemented in letter and spirit.

The manch has submitted a memorandum in connection with the PMET counselling to Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Punjab, and Mr Niranjan Singh, Chairman, Punjab State SC Commission.


5 students for young leaders’ meet
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Five students of the district have been given a chance to represent India on the international arena.

They have been invited by the Washington DC Council and the UNO to participate in a two-week Global Young Leaders’ Conference to be held in New York.

Parliamentary Secretary (Industry and Commerce), Punjab, K.I.P Rana interacted with these students at a ceremony organised by the academy here yesterday.

The students are Preetinder Kaur, Amandeep Kaur, Arshpreet Kaur, Saral Bhola and Bikramjit Singh.

They have been chosen to discuss current global issues like global terrorism, global warming and AIDS.

Preetinder Kaur, who hails from Pathreri Jattan village, said: “It’s like dream come true.”

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