P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




India not to sign NPT: Pranab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
India will not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as it is ‘’discriminatory and flawed,” says the Union Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. He was talking to reporters after the new chief of the Punjab Congress, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, took over, here today.

Mr Mukherjee, who was accompanied by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Rajya Sabha MP, Ms Ambika Soni, and Mr Dullo, said there was no question of India signing the NPT and the stand would not change in view of India’s increasing defence cooperation with the USA.

When asked about the repeated infiltration of militants from across the border, Mr Mukherjee said it was time the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, kept the promise he made in January, 2004, to eradicate terrorism from his country. “India has repeatedly told the neighbouring country to stick to its commitment not to allow its land to be used for terrorist activities,” he added.

On continued terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, he said infiltration would not end unless the terrorist training camps were disbanded in Pakistan.

The Defence Minister, however, noted that there was a decrease in infiltration from across the border. “As per the assessment of the Home Ministry and Military Intelligence, there has been a decrease in the infiltration,’’ he said.

Regarding disinvestment, in public sector units (PSUs), the Defence Minister said it would not go beyond 49 per cent in profit-making PSUs. This had been articulated by the government several times. However, PSUs which were earlier in profit but were facing losses due to the lack of technical upgradation would be bailed out. Another category comprised PSUs which were consistently making losses. These would be sold keeping in mind the interests of the workers, he clarified.

Replying to a question about a newspaper report which said that the French police had to let off Mehal Singh Babbar, one of India’s wanted terrorists, after the Punjab police failed to provide his photograph and fingerprints, Mr Mukherjee said: “If fingerprints are not there, how can we provide these to France? Terrorists are not expected to come and give their fingerprints in advance,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his first interaction with the media, Mr Dullo made an apparent effort to remove the impression that his candidature for the party presidentship was opposed by the Chief Minister. “My name had been recommended by almost everybody in the Congress, be it Ms Soni, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Capt Amarinder Singh or Mr Jagmeet Brar”, he said.

When asked which government was better, the one headed by the late Beant Singh or that by Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Dullo side-stepped the issue, saying:” Everybody has his own style of functioning.” Mr Dullo was the Excise and Taxation Minister in the Beant Singh government.

Capt Amarinder Singh said: “it was a very emotional day as thousands of workers responded to the change introduced by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.” It showed that the party workers were enthused with just 18 months to go for the elections.


3 Hawara accomplices held from Nurpur Bedi
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, July 20
Three more aides of main accused of the Beant Singh assassination case, Jagtar Singh Hawara, were today arrested from Nurpur Bedi town of the district for providing shelter to Hawara and also for hatching a conspiracy with him to kill Baba Piara Singh Bhanirewala.

The three arrested include Amarjit Singh of Sanghaul village in Patiala district, Gurdeep Singh of Kidi Afgana village and Avatr Singh of Dhimana village of Ropar. Amarjit Singh was arrested by the Sangrur police while Gurdeep Singh and Avtar Singh were arrested by the Nurpu Bedi police from different places of Nurpur Bedi town.

The three were produced in the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM), Anandpur Sahib, Mr R.K Kaundal, at 4.30 pm. The magistrate, remanded them in police custody till July 22.

Another three accomplices of Hawara include Dharminder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Amritpal Singh arrested by the CIA staff of Ropar police from different parts of Ropar with RDX and detonators two days ago, were today also remanded in police custody till July 22.

The two, Amritpal of Rattangarh village and Sukhwinder of Sandhua village of Ropar were remanded in police custody for their involvement in Bhaniarewala case by the SDJM, Anandpur Sahib. While another accused Dharminder Singh was sent in police custody by a Ropar court. Gurdeep Singh was a relative of another accused in the case Sukhwinder Singh, police sources said.

The police sources said that the aides of Hawara were arrested on the information revealed by Hawara to the Delhi police during interrogation. Hawara had confessed to his hand in the bomb blast that took place in the ashram of Bhanirewala this January.

Hawara had also revealed names of several persons involved in the blast. Hawara had told the Delhi Police that time bomb was planted in a dharamshala of Bhaniarewala’s Ashram in Nurpur Bedi to kill Bhaniarewala. The bomb had exploded before time. The blast had damaged the walls of the dharmshala, police sources added.

Hawara told the police that his aides had collected the information about Bhaniarewal’s movement and suitable places for planting bomb. Hawara also revealed that he held a meeting with his accomplices in various places in Ropar district including Morinda and Chamkaur Sahib.

Police sources added that Hawara had developed links with a several persons of Ropar district while he was lodged in Burail Jail. Those persons proved helpful to him to get shelter and also for carrying out activities. After his escape from jail, Hawara contacted those persons he had developed relations in the jail and also those recommended by the other accused lodged in jail for his help, the police sources investigating the case said.

It is difficult to find out all involved in Hawara’s network, as he did not introduce different persons with each other. He met them separately at different places, the sources said.


1 held with RDX, human bomb belt
Tribune News Service

Jaswant Singh being produced in the court at Muktsar on Wednesday.
Jaswant Singh being produced in the court at Muktsar on Wednesday.

Muktsar, July 20
Continuing with its crackdown following the arrest of BKI chief Jagtar Singh Hawara, the police has arrested Jaswant Singh of Sohnewala village with RDX, a belt used for making human bomb, a six-volt battery, 145 cartridges of AK 47 and a magazine.

According to sources, Jaswant Singh, Sukhmandar Singh Khara, and their two aides were planning a robbery near Bahmanwala village. The Bariwala police got information about their conspiracy and started conducting raids. But they managed to give the police a slip. Later, the police stopped Jaswant Singh at a check post near Harike Kalan village. It recovered a .12 bore pistol from his possession. A case was registered against him under Sections 399 and 401 of the IPC at the Sadar police station.

During interrogation, he admitted that he had buried half kg RDX, a belt used for making human bomb, and arms near Sohnewala village. The police took him to the spot today and recovered the ammunition. Following this, a case has been registered against him under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Explosives Act and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

The police produced him in the court of Mr Harinder Singh Gill who sent him to police remand till July 24.


Khalsa Dal to defend Hawara in court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The Shiromani Khalsa Dal, headed by Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, will defend Jagtar Singh Hawara and his accomplices in various courts. Stating this, Mr Surinder Singh Kishanpura, a member of the Working Committee of the party, said the assistance of various advocates, including, Mr Amar Singh Chahal, Mr Puran Singh Hundal, Mr Arvind Thakur and Mr Sarabjit Singh would be taken to defend Hawara and others in cases registered against them.

Mr Kishanpura hailed the decision of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission regarding the removal of Bibi Jagir Kaur from the presidentship of the SGPC.


SGPC members lash out at Badal, Jagir Kaur
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 20
The three SGPC members from the district belonging to SAD (A) have welcomed the decision of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission that has indicted Bibi Jagir Kaur, president SGPC, and imposed a ban on her for contesting SGPC elections for five years.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, SGPC member, said the decision has exposed how Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur had been allowing their supporters to loot the “golak of Guru” for their petty political gains.

He said during elections to the SGPC, their party had raised the issue of fees outstanding towards the wards of SAD leaders and SGPC members worth crores. The amount belonged to the Guru Ram Dass Trust that ran medical colleges. When it became an issue among the Sikh Sangat, Mr Badal issued a statement urging defaulters to deposit the pending amount.

But after the elections, he forgot all this and pressurised the SGPC presidents from time to time to waive the pending dues of the wards of his men. He said Bibi Jagir Kaur, who had been embroiled in one or the other controversy, crossed all limits and decided to waive all pending dues causing a loss to the tune of Rs 2.55 crore to the SGPC and the “Golak of Guru”. By causing a financial loss to the supreme organisation of the Sikhs, both Badal and Bibi had committed a heinous crime and the Sikh Sangat would not spare them, he said.


Disqualification of Bibi: hearing today
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, July 20
A day after the disqualification of Bibi Jagir Kaur as SGPC chief for five years by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), employees of the Shiromani Committee today spent the day discussing the outcome of the order today.

Confusion prevailed among mediapersons when the publicity wing of the SGPC and close confidants of Bibi Jagir Kaur rang up senior journalists that the SGJC had granted stay on the implementation of its order. However, Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, President, SGJC, said the hearing on the application, moved by the SGPC had been fixed for tomorrow.

The lawyer of the SGPC had moved an application in the SGJC, praying for granting stay on the decision pronounced against Bibi Jagir Kaur, disqualifying her for five years . The lawyer said that the execution of the SGJC order required to be stayed, as shiromani committee wanted to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court as per the provisions of the law.

HOSHIARPUR: Hailing the decision of the Shiromani Gurdwara Judicial Commission for removing SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur from the post as well as the Sikh body’s primary membership, the Dal Khalsa said “her past sins had come to haunt her”.

The party working President, Mr H.S. Dhami, in a statement here today alleged that her arrogant style of functioning had taken a toll on her. “She doesn’t deserve the post but was elevated to it because of her proximity with Mr Badal”, said Dhami. “After she took over the reins, the SGPC was reduced to extension counter of the SAD politics”, he alleged. The Dal Khalsa blamed her for eroding the credibility of the institutions. “Corruption was rampant in the SGPC under her, but Mr Badal ignored it,” alleged Mr Dhami.


Canadian helpline goes off air
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
One-and-a-half years of phenomenal success. Five hundred grievances of Canadian Punjabis redressed. Today, it’s a snapped connection. The helpline that served Punjabis hundreds of miles away from their homes lies defunct.

The radio NRI Helpline being run by Toronto-based Asian Connections in collaboration with the NRI Cell, Punjab Police, to attend to grievances of NRIs from Punjab in Canada, is off air, courtesy the clamoring free-loaders clambering on the bandwagon of its success.

The achievement of this radio channel, it seems, has become the envy of many other Toronto-based radio programes producers who want similar “connections” established. And, while talks are on to “accommodate” these channels, the helpline awaits a revival plan.

Launched with much fanfare by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in January last year, the helpline served as a link between the Punjabi community in Canada and the Punjab Police for dealing with the former’s problems pertaining to properties, civil disputes with their relatives and matrimonial conflicts among others.

The Helpline received an overwhelming response in which NRIs dialed their local radio station in Toronto and voiced their grievances. Fatehgarh Sahib’s Senior Superintendent of Police, also in charge of the NRI cell, Mr Varinder Kumar, would present an “action taken report” a fortnight later on the complaints received in the previous programme.

The NRI Helpline’s popularity grew with every programme among the members of the Punjabi community. Aired every fortnight on a Thursday, it brought accolades for the Punjab Police as well for the “exemplary” work being done with regard to handling complaints of the NRIs.

Sources said that during the Punjab Chief Minister’s visit to Toronto recently, programme producers for Canadian radio met him, asking him to intervene and urge Asian Connections to share the programme with them.

With Asian Connections not willing to share its expertise in organising the show with other channels, it was discontinued last month. “While we don’t not want to share our programme, Asian Connections is not averse to the Punjab Police starting similar programmes and placing other police officers at the disposal of these helplines — to attend to problems and work out solutions for NRIs,” Mr Rajinder Taggar, representative of asian Connections in the city, said.

The tug-of-war between the various other radio stations and Asian Connections for sharing rights of airing the programme continued but the latter stuck to its stand, willing to go off air rather than sharing the show.

When contacted, the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk, confirmed that the radio programme had been suspended for the time being on account of other players evincing interest in running similar helplines.


2 brothers face teachers’ ire
Allegedly beaten up because of mother’s profession
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 20
A teacher of the local Arya Model School reportedly thrashed a couple of students yesterday only because their mother was a dancer.

Both the children sustained injuries and their medical examination was conducted at the Civil Hospital, Bathinda. Akash, a student of Class III, and his brother Tarun, 5 a student of Class IV told that their teachers had often asked them to leave the school. They alleged that they were beaten with a stick having an iron nail on it which caused injuries on Tarun’s leg and Akash’s neck.

Akash also sustained injuries in his arm.

They alleged that their teachers used to tell them - “Your mother is a dancer. You don’t deserve to be in this school.” Their mother Rupa Sharma, had also complained to the president of the school management committee in this connection. She said she would lodge a complaint with the SSP in this regard.

On the other hand, the president of the school management committee, Mr P.D. Goyal, said both the students were weak in studies and were not eligible to be kept in school. “Their mother stays in Bangalore and comes to the city once in month or so.” He said they were mischievous. He denied that the two boys were beaten up. He said no such incident had taken place in their school.


SAD to raise Dubai issue in Parliament
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has decided to raise in Parliament, the issue of the ‘secret visit’ of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to Dubai. The SAD would also seek a high-level probe into the ‘hush hush’ visit.

This was disclosed by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of the SAD, here today. Talking to mediapersons, he said the party would seek clarifications about Capt Amarinder Singh’s controversial visit to Dubai from the Prime Minister during the forthcoming Monsoon session of Parliament.

Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had violated rules which clearly specified that all public servants must obtain written permission about their visits abroad and mention about the host whose the hospitality they are going to enjoy during any such visit.

He said the SAD had decided to raise the issue in the Parliament and would seek a direct reply from the Prime Minister about the visit which was in violation of directives of the government. Mr Badal alleged that the Chief Minister had stayed in one of the most expensive hotels in Dubai during his visit and sought an explanation about the payment of bills.

Mr Badal, while commenting on the disqualification of SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur yesterday by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission said the commission was working at the behest of Capt Amarinder Singh, who, he alleged, had been directly interfering in Panthic affairs. He said from the beginning the Chief Minister had been trying to divide SGPC in order to control its affairs and that during his three-and-a-half year rule the SAD and SGPC had managed to thwart several such attempts.

He urged the Panthic leaders and workers to remain united and not to allow the Congress to break their resolve to continue their fight against government’s oppressive policies.

He said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed all verdicts announced by the commission under the chairmanship of Mr Kashmir Singh Patti.

Levelling serious charges against the Chief Minister of having links with terrorist groups Mr Sukhbir Badal said Jagtar Singh Hawara, the most wanted terrorist in the state, had been roaming freely in Punjab for the past 18 months and it was the Delhi Police that had managed to nab him along with a number of human bombs. He alleged that the credibility of the state police was at stake as it had been unable to trace and arrest Hawara from Punjab after his escape from Burail jail last year.

The SAD was in the process of compiling a charge-sheet of scams and corruption highlighting the inefficiency of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government. He said the charge-sheet would be brought out to portray true picture of the state which was literally in shambles and its economy was facing a serious crisis.

Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala, MP, Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, MP, Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike and Mr Bikram Singh Majithia, among those who attended the press conference.


Assets to be declared on AICC nod: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that he along with his Congress colleagues in the state would declare their assets when the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) asked for details. The AICC had not yet sought details, he clarified.

When pointed out that it was part of the Congress manifesto that all elected members would declare their assets, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “It was mentioned in the manifesto that the assets will be declared when asked by the AICC and nobody is supposed to declare anything on his/her own. It is not that we are supposed to send reports of our assets to Badal or anybody else,” the Chief Minister said. “Everything in the manifesto will be implemented”, he added.

Meanwhile, speaking on the functioning of the Congress in Punjab, the newly elected party president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, said he would not replace anybody in the 51-member team of the outgoing president Mr H.S. Hanspal. He added that those working effectively would not be removed.


150 Taksal members join Ram Singh group
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
Nearly 150 activists of the Damdami Taksal headed by Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma yesterday joined the parallel Taksal headed by Baba Ram Singh.

Addressing mediapersons here, Baba Ram Singh, a former priest of the Golden Temple, said the Taksal activists had accepted him as 16th Jathedar of Taksal. He paraded 25 persons before the media to prove his point.

Bhai Balwant Singh, the leader of the breakaway group, said Baba Dhumma, who claimed himself to be the Jathedar, was a government-appointed person. He claimed that Baba Dhumma organised “havans” in the Taksal that were against Sikh tenets.

He alleged that Baba Dhumma was involved in the arrest of various persons close to them, including those arrested from Bathinda last month for their alleged allegiance with Jagtar Singh Hawara, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International.

Baba Ram Singh, accompanied by the vice-president of the SAD, Bhai Manjit Singh, said the government was hell-bent on destroying the harmony of the state. He claimed the government had arrested 800 Sikh youths in the name of associates of Hawara. He said he would provide all assistance, including legal aid, to the arrested persons.


No relaxation in curfew
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 20
No relaxation in the curfew was given today at Gharsana, Rawla and Anoopgarh by the district authorities of Sriganganagar, neighbouring Abohar. The District Magistrate, Mr Kunji Lal Meena, decided to clamp a curfew on Anoopgarh located close to the Indo-Pak border with effect from 11 last night as the Kisan Mazdoor Beopari Sangharsh Samiti resolved to shift the venue of its protest rally from Gharsana to Anoopgarh following clashes with the police during the “chakka jam” agitation.

The samiti, however, succeeded in holding a rally at Sakhi village a few metres away from the international border in the Gharsana area. Those who addressed the rally included Mr Shepat Singh Makkasar, former MP, Mr Amra Ram, MLA, Sant Lekha Singh, organiser, Kisan Mazdoor Beopari Sangharsh Samiti, Mr Navrang Chaudhary, a senior CITU activist, and Mr Vasudev Sharma of the CPM.

They said that the authorities had shifted Mr Het Ram Beniwal, former MLA, from Nokha jail to Ajmer as the samiti workers had got agitated there also.

The rally resolved to hold a state-level demonstration at Sikar on July 28, and gave a call for “mahapadav” (indefinite dharna) from August 1 at Gharsana.

The leaders demanded that the farmers of the border region be given due share in the canal water. They also demanded unconditional release of Mr Beniwal and others, besides withdrawal of criminal cases registered against them on Tuesday. Hundreds of farmers made their way to Sakhi village to participate in the rally by removing all hurdles created by the authorities, including barricades.

The administration enforced a curfew in all the three towns by deploying more than a thousand security force men at sensitive junctions.


Post-mortem in presence of Magistrate
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 20
Ruckus created by relatives and family members of a Kapurthala-based registered medical practioner (RMP) in front of Oxford Hospital late on Monday night after the death of the RMP under mysterious circumstances in the hospital during his treatment, took a new turn yesterday as the post-mortem examination of the body of the victim was today conducted by a three-member board of doctors in the presence of an Executive Magistrate.

Relatives of Muni Lal (70), who was a resident of Harnam Nagar in Kapurthala converged in front of the Oxford Hospital after death of Muni Lal, at 10 p.m. on Monday night and protested against hospital management, while, alleging that the death of Muni Lal was due to negligence and was caused by angiography of the patient, which, was conducted against the wishes of the family.

This was, however, denied, by the hospital management and senior doctor Raman Chawla, who, said that the patient had died of heart attack and he was not subjected to angiography at the hospital. The hospital management had also taken the plea that the family was satisfied with the treatment of the patient till his death and it was clear by the fact that family had deposited Rs 13,500 for conducting angiography of the patient on its own and before they changed their decision and resolved to not to go in for angiography. This, was, however, contested by the family, which, had alleged that one of relatives was forced to give his consent by doctors for going ahead with the angiography process.

As the situation started deteriorating, a large number of police officials were deployed at the hospital and post-mortem of the body was ordered to be conducted by a three-member board of doctors of the local civil hospital, headed by Dr. Bawa, in presence of the EM and the process was videographed.


3 Indian cyclists on world tour
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, July 20
Three Indians from the Society for Cancer in Oral Cavity Prevention through Education currently on a world tour on bicycles reached here yesterday.

All of them hail from different parts of the country. They include Mr Sudhir Kumar Mohanta of Bira Kisorepur village, Keonjhar, (Orissa), Mr Suresh Rathore of Jhalara Patan village, Jhalawar, (Rajasthan) and Mr Moti Lal of Beas.

Mr Mohanta started the world tour hoping to cover 150 countries, from Keonjhar. Mr Rathore joined him at Jaipur while Mr Moti Lal joined them at Beas. Mr Rathore will accompany them only in India and the remaining journey will be covered by Mr Mohanta and Mr Moti Lal.

Mr Mohanta informed that they had covered about 20,000 km in 24 states and the other states on their itinerary include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh. He said from there they would enter Nepal. He said the aim of the world tour was to create awareness among people about the ill effects of tobacco, universal love and world peace. Besides he said they were also on a mission to enlist one billion signatures against the use of tobacco. He claimed that the campaign was started with the signature of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on July 14, 2004.

He said SCOPE, located at Hyderabad, had Dr B. Chandrakanta Rao as its Director. He said SCOPE was bearing their travel expenses. They visit schools, colleges, universities and prisons on their way. Mr Mohanta expected that their journey would conclude in 2020.


Child dies of gastroenteritis, SMO denies
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 20
A one-and-half-year old girl, Deevanshi, today died of suspected gastroenteritis in the local Ratanpura mohalla. It was reported that the child started vomitting last night and was taken to a private hospital. She again vomitted today and could not be saved. Deevanshi was daughter of Kailash.

One of the family members Raj Kumar is still down with gastroenteritis, The SDM, Mr Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, visited the locality as well as the parents of Deevanshi. The SMO, Civil Hospital, Dr Yash Mitra, also visited the area.

Nagar Council President Malkiat Singh Ragbotra and EO Jagir Singh Thind also visited the area. The SDM directed the Council authorities to do the needful. The SDM also asked X-En-sewerage Board Mr Jaswinder Singh, to solve the problem of sewerage of the locality.

It may be mentioned here residents of Gali No 9 to Gali 18 have been afflicted by gastroenteriris for the last fortnight due to supply of contaminated drinking water and squalor. Every house has its patients. At least 50 persons, including women, were suffering from it.

The enraged residents today showed contaminated and foul smelling water to the SDM.

When contacted Dr Yash Mitra, SMO, Civil Hospital, denied that Deevanshi had died of gastroenteritis. The girl had one or two vomitings and died in a private hospital, he said.

However, as precautionary measure, teams of doctors had so far distributed 2000 tablets of chlorine in Ratanpura mohalla, disclosed Dr Mitra. Two samples of water had been taken, he said. More chlorine tablets were being disributed and more water samples were being taken, added Dr Mitra.


A mega centre for kids on the anvil
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 20
A unique proposal for the setting up of a state-of-the-art children activity mega centre at Mohali has been forwarded by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development for implementation.

Complete with a doll house, a traffic park, a theatre complex, indoor game rooms, a cricket pitch, a bowling alley, a skating rink and a dance floor, the activity centre is proposed to be established in the township to cater to the families of IT professionals expected to work here in the future.

A brainchild of Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh, the suggestion was sent to the Chief Minister for consideration, who then forwarded it to the department concerned.

"I had proposed the setting up of a place that will offer a whole gamut of hobbies to children under one roof. This is a one of its kind project in the country," said Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

"Children are endowed with energy that needs proper direction and flow, and this would be a place where the young, budding minds can bloom. This becomes important in the present scenario where both the parents are working and get little time for their children. This centre would provide a number of options to them," he said.

Host of activities have been planned for the children at the centre. The aim is to expose the child to as many pursuits as is possible. A children doctors clinic, a mechanics workshop, a building blocks room, an astronomy lab, a small kitchen, a splash pool, a soft toy room, games like table tennis, basketball, badminton courts, sand pits, a swimming pool, amphitheater, an open air theater, a gymnasium, topiary jungle, an aquarium, a painters workshop, a personality development workshop, a dining room to teach table manners, a craft centre, and a budding musicians workshop would be part of this park.

"Also we have put a lot of thought in what parents would do while the children are busy at the centre. A reading and repose place for the attendants, a beauty parlor for moms and dads, spas and massage saloons and also a yoga centre to combat stress is being planned for them" pointed out Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

Other than this, the services of a psychiatrist as a counsellor for the children and their parents, and facilities like a daycare centre and a crèche would also be available at the proposed centre.


Abandoned baby boy’s mother identified
Bipin Bhardwaj

Rajpura, July 20
Ten days after a baby boy was found abandoned along a causeway on a road linking Madanpur Chalehri village with the GT Road, the Rajpura police today identified an unmarried minor girl of Chalehi village as the mother of the infant.

Besides the mother, the police has arrested her parents and an aunt for abandoning the baby. An autorickshaw owner, who took the mother and her parents to a private nursing home in Rajpura, has also been arrested.

The police has also started searching the father of the infant, who is said to be absconding.

Acting on a tip-off, a police party led by Mr Preneet Singh Chahal, in charge of the Shambhoo police post, laid a trap and rounded up the autorickshaw owner Narinder Singh, alias Toni, a resident of Chalehi village. The police said that during questioning, Toni disclosed that an unmarried girl of the village gave birth to a baby in his vehicle when he was carrying the girl, her father Jagir Singh, mother Surinder Kaur and aunt Paramjit Kaur of Neparn Kalan village, to a private nursing home at Rajpura on July 9 night.

The police questioned the owner of the nursing home and got the information about the mother. The nursing home owner also disclosed that after taking treatment and a stay of over two hours, the family members left the place.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Manmohan Kumar Sharma, when taking to mediapersons, claimed that the suspects had been arrested. During questioning, they admitted to having abandoned the child fearing social boycott of the family.

A case under Sections 317 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered against the girl, her father, mother and aunt at the Sadar police station.

Sources in the police revealed that the girl had developed physical relations with a boy, aged about 19, of the same locality, following which she got pregnant. Her pregnancy went unnoticed and the news spread only after the girl gave birth to a male child on July 9 night and the news was carried by some newspapers the very next day.

Sources also revealed that the girl also disclosed the name of the father of the baby to her family members. The family approached the boy’s parents seeking their approval for the marriage of their girl with the boy. The boys parents had turned down their request, sources added.

Mr Mohinder Singh, grandfather of the girl, has also complained to the Rajpura police against a boy of the same locality for maintaining physical relations with his grand daughter after luring her on one pretext or the other.

Presently the infant, Sahil, is being looked after at SOS village, Rajpura.


Bank employees hold protest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 20
Protesting against any attempt of privatisation of banks, their mergers, disinvestment of their capital, the United Forum of Bank Unions held a massive demonstration in front of Dena Bank here today.

Addressing the gathering of employees and officers from different banks of the city, Mr Amrit Lal, convener, said attempts being made by the government for delution of government capital in PSUs would be resisted tooth and nail.

The convener said bank employees would participate in national strike on September 29 at the call of the Central Trade Unions and the National Federations of Trade Unions. They demanded lifting of ban on recruitment, removing ceiling on bonus, constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission for government employees, implementation of the Labour Laws and strengthening of public distribution system.


Son restored to mother

Phagwara, July 20
The police has arrested Neeraj Sharma and recovered from him his 11-month-old son Shivaye which he had kidnapped and restored the child to his mother, Madhu.

The DSP disclosed today that Neeraj Sharma was arrested under Sections 363, 452, 323 IPC on charges of kidnapping, tresspassing and assault or wrongful restraint and causing hurt.

Neeraj and Madhu had a love marriage two years ago. But their relations soured. Neeraj lives at Nigahan Mohalla in Mehligate.

A son was born to her while she was staying with her parents. However, Neeraj yesterday stormed into her house, thrashed her and escaped in his car with the child. — OC


Red Cross Society to celebrate Teej
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 20
The district Red Cross Society would organise teej festival on August 8 at Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, said Mrs Jaspreet Talwar Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairperson District Red Cross Society. She was presiding over a meeting of officials in this regard.

She said that competitions would be held in junior and senior category for the district students only. The participants can deposit entry fee in room No 119 of District Red Cross Society in Administrative Complex by August 3. She said that up to 12 years would be considered junior and above 12 as senior. She said that besides this Miss Teej for unmarried women, Teej Queen for married women and ‘Teej Bebe’, for above women of 60 years would also be held.


SBP staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 20
More than 2,000 employees of the State Bank of Patiala staged a dharna in front of the head office of the bank here today.

Employees from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh participated in the dharna on a call given by the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, according to a press note of the federation.

The employees were protesting against the decision of the management to close 20 branch extension counters of the bank in various institutions in the country.


Civil Hospital renamed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 20
The Punjab Government has given its approval to change the name of the Sangrur Civil Hospital. It will now be called the Comrade Jagdish Chander Civil Hospital. Jagdish Chander was a freedom fighter. This information has been given in a letter written to the Director, Health and Family Welfare, recently by the Under Secretary, Health, Punjab.


Now hire tractor from coop society
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 20
Small and debt-ridden farmers of Malwa who couldn’t afford to buy a tractor would soon have one to plough their fields.

Cooperative societies have extended a helping hand to these farmers, as a result of which they would have to pay a small amount for using tractor for particular period of time.

Sources said a section of farmers had gone bankrupt and could neither pay back loan taken for buying tractor nor maintain it. Hundreds of tractors could be seen lined up on roadsides on the outskirts of Moga every Sunday and each seller had a tragic tale to narrate. In the wake of these developments, the Cooperative Department has started providing tractors to cooperative societies and every member of these societies can avail this facility. They would have to pay a small amount as charge for using the tractor.

Six cooperative societies of the district have decided to buy tractors. The societies would also keep agricultural implements for different type of crops so as to give all types of facilities to farmers under one roof. The department experimented in Deemawali village prior to launching this scheme. The village’s cooperative society bought a tractor, following which a number of farmers sold off their tractors. The farmers could avail this facility at 20 per cent less rate as compared to the market rate. These tractors would be of more horsepower that would lead a better output for farmers.

The sources said the society of Sukhanand village had purchased two tractors and it had evoked a good response from farmers. They said 12 tractors were also bought in Moga district, while Faridkot had got three. If the scheme became successful it would increase the rush in second-hand tractor market, besides hitting the sale of new tractors.

Interestingly, the Cooperative Department has also come up with an insurance scheme for the members of cooperative societies. In case of any disease, the farmers could seek medical aid from the society. They would be insured for a sum of up to Rs 2 lakh. The department has chalked out this scheme under the Health Care Scheme for rural Punjab. Apart from this, the societies would also give loan to farmers for paying their electricity bills. The society would also give them a cheque book. They would simply have to submit their power bill along the cheque to the society that would do the needful.

The Deputy Registrar of the department, Mr Jarnail Singh, said tractors were no more economically viable for small farmers. He said about 50 per cent of the societies of the district already had agricultural implements and tractors would soon be purchased. he said six profit-making societies had been selected in the first phase of the scheme. The tractors would function round the clock and drivers would be employed on contract. The department had started buying tractors for six districts of the Ferozepore division.


Water board’s warning to MC on pact
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 20
The Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) has warned the Municipal Council here against violating the agreement on maintenance of drinking water supply and sewerage disposal, sources said.

The council had signed an agreement with the PWSSB on August 11, 1999, in pursuance to the resolution passed in the meeting held at the municipal town hall on July 26, 1999. As per terms of the agreement signed by the president, vice-president and Executive Officer on behalf of the Council and XEN, SDE and JE on behalf of the PWSSB, the maintenance of water supply and sewerage, including revenue collection was transferred to the board with effect from September 1, 1999. The council had agreed to the condition that all powers vested with it would be delegated to the Sub-Divisional Engineer of the PWSSB. This included grant of new connections and disconnecting connections of the defaulters in payment of current bills and dues on account of water supply and sewerage.

The council had transferred 13 employees to the board on deputation in the revenue section for collecting water and sewerage charges. As per terms the difference of expenditure and income on maintenance and demand on these schemes was to be met by the council. Parties to the agreement were to compile monthly expenditure and income statement. The council had agreed to pay bills received from Punjab State Electricity Board, Punjab Pollution Control Board and Irrigation Department related to water works and disposal centre.

Sources said the council had many compulsions to hand over maintenance of water supply and sewerage system to the board. Rain and sewerage water had flooded the Sub-divisional complex, including judicial courts in July 1999 but the non — technical council staff failed in clearing the water and faced threat of legal and administrative action. Moreover the council staff had failed in effecting recovery of water and sewerage bills from hundreds of consumers. It is understood that the council again resolved on July 4 that collection of revenue be taken back from the board but responsibility of maintaining water supply and disposal of sewerage would vest with the board. Well-placed sources said the board employees, including those on deputation from the council, had earned the wrath of some defaulters.

Mr S.R. Bajaj, Sub-Divisional Engineer, PWSSB, in a letter delivered to the Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, had objected to such a resolution and told him categorically that it would be a violation of the agreement dated August 11, 1999, as the council had given all responsibilities related to water supply and sewerage to the PWSSB.

If the council goes ahead in taking back revenue collection, it will have to run water supply and sewerage independently. Divided responsibility is no responsibility, Mr Bajaj told the EO.

The council had decided to take over collection of revenue from the board with effect from August 1, 2005.


Lower stamp duty for women
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
In a bid to encourage property transactions in favour of women, the Punjab Government has reduced stamp duty by 1 per cent on conveyance deeds or sale deeds of immovable property executed in their favour.

Normally, stamp duty is levied at 9.9 per cent on urban property and within a radius of 5 km of urban areas. In all other areas stamp duty is 6.6 per cent. Women will now have to pay a lower duty.

Stating this here today, a spokesperson of the Revenue and Rehabilitation Department said a notification in this regard had already been issued.


Ropar MC okays water, sewerage project
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 20
The Ropar Municipal Council, at a general house meeting, today passed a project worth Rs 3 crore to provide water supply and sewerage system the city residents. The Municipal Council has to pay 20 per cent out of the total cost of the project while rest of the funds for the project would be given by the Punjab Government.

The Tribune had highlighted the problems being faced by the residents in the absence of sewerage system and paucity of the water on Tuesday “Development eludes district headquarters”.

Besides it, the Municipal Council had also decided to recruit 15 sweepers to keep the city clean, said that the president of Municipal Council, Mr Ashok Bahi, at the general house meeting of the MC this afternoon. Besides it, the MC had decided to install tubewells at the Sada Bart area, he added.


Ban orders
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 20
The District Magistrate, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal, today banned the assembly of five or more persons in periphery of the district secretariat. As per the order, without permission, no agitation or dharna by any organisation or institution would be allowed in the restricted areas.


Doctor held on molestation charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 20
A doctor has been arrested on the charge of molesting a woman who had come for treatment at his clinic in Talwandi Sabo today.

Police sources said Amarjeet Kaur of Laleana village had approached Dr Subhash Chander with some dental problem a few days back. On that day he had asked her to visit him on Wednesday and said he would uproot the teeth.

When Amarjeet, along with her mother-in-law Angrej Kaur, went to his clinic today he first uprooted her teeth and asked the latter to bring some medicines from a nearby medical store. When Angrej Kaur left for the shop, he molested her daughter-in-law.

In the meantime, she returned and called for help. A number of people gathered at the doctor’s clinic. Both the women then lodged a complaint with the police following which a case was registered against him under Section 354 of the IPC. Talwandi Sabo SHO Balbir Singh Grewal said the doctor was immediately arrested.


2 held for trucker’s murder
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 20
The Kharar police today arrested two persons Hushan Lal and Gurdeep Singh, both residents of Fatehpur Machhiwara, on charges of murdering a truck driver in Kharar early this year.

The two had been earlier arrested as part of a gang by the Patiala police and were brought by the Kharar police on transit remand. The two were remanded to police custody by a local court today.

The Kharar police had found a body with injuries on it on January 24, 2005 in Chappar Chiri village near here. While it was initially believed that the victim, who still remains unidentified, was murdered, later the police thought that it could be an accident case.

According to the Additional SHO, Mr Jarnail Singh Kharar, the two had admitted before the Patiala Police that they had waylaid a truck carrying sugar bags and killed the truck driver at Kharar. They had then sped away with the truck and thrown the driver’s body at Chappar Chiri.


Two die in assault cases
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 20
Two cases of murder were reported at Tanda and Hariana police stations in Hoshiarpur district yesterday.

According to police sources, four persons, including Parminder Singh, son of Surjit Singh, Beant Singh, son of Gurcharan Singh, Sunny, son of Amarjit Singh, all residents of Nangal Khunga village, and Dharminder Singh, alias Kaka, of Shahbajpur, allegedly assaulted Sucha Singh at his house in Nangal Khunga as a result of which he died.

Sources said that there was a land dispute between deceased Sucha Singh and Parminder Singh. The Tanda police has registered a case under Sections 302, 452, 506 and 34, IPC.

In another incident, four persons, including a woman, allegedly assaulted Sham Sunder with sharpedged weapons and lathis at Janauri village, while he was going to take water. Sham Sunder died. The Hariana police has registered a case against Lekh Raj, younger brother of the deceased, his two sons, Ajay Kumar and Suresh Kumar, and wife Nirmla Devi.

Police sources said that there was also a land dispute between the brothers over providing path to the deceased.


Man injures relatives
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, July 20
Two members of a Dhanksu Kalan-based family were allegedly attacked by their relative about 3 km from here this morning. The victims have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, with serious injuries.

The assailant is a local leader and is politically well connected who allegedly attacked Ajay Kumar (29) and his father Bhagwan Das with iron rods after entering their house around 9 am.

Ajay Kumar sustained grave head injuries while his father, a paralytic, received injuries on his defected leg.

According to the neighbours, Narinder Kumar Nagpal, a brother in-law (husband of the sister of Ajay’s wife) of Ajay, trespassed the house of the victims and attacked them. He then fled from the spot.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune at the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, Bhagwan Das said Narinder Kumar Nagpal was against the marriage of his sister-in-law with Ajay. He had been opposing the marriage from the very beginning and finally took revenge by injuring him critically.


Students scale house to reach school
Our Correspondent

Students scale a house to reach their school at Balluana village near Abohar as the school remained cut off from the road for past 15 days due to accumulation of rainwater.
Students scale a house to reach their school at Balluana village near Abohar as the school remained cut off from the road for past 15 days due to accumulation of rainwater.
— Photo by Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 20
Students of a primary school at Balluana village, 7 km from here on the Abohar-Malout road, have been scaling a house adjacent to their institution for past 15 days to continue studies as the road leading to school has been submerged in water.

Mr Gurdas Burja, a resident of the village, said rainwater had accumulated in the pond located on other side of the road due to heavy rain early this month. Water had poured in from other localities also resulting in overflow that submerged the road used by the students to reach the school. No efforts has been made to pump out the water from pond.

Many residents of the village, including schoolchildren, complained of skin disease and respiratory problems due to stagnation of water.

Residents said their elected representatives had drawn attention of officials of the block development and panchayat office and requested them to pump out the water. They had also requested the Health Department to take preventive measures to check epidemic. However, none of officers responded to their request, they alleged. They apprised the local MLA of the situation but the problems remain unsolved till day. The students of primary classes were using wooden ladder to climb the roof and then step down in the school complex. An old lady of the house had to supervise the students twice in a day fearing any mishap.


SDM ‘raids’ school
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 20
The SDM Kharar today “raided” a private school building near the Civil Hospital here while he was on his way to the office after attending a blood donation camp.

According to the SDM, “I saw this Guru Nanak Public School on the way. It was being run in a small shabby building that had a tin roof. The small rooms were overcrowded and jam packed with small children. There was not enough space for the children to study in comfort.”

The SDM asked the school principal to improve the conditions of the school within the next fifteen days and provide the students with an alternative space, failing which he would take upon himself to lock the school. The school has 95 students and is till Class V.

The SDM also found that three students had been punished by the class teachers and asked to stand in the open with their hands up. The three students were in a bad shape due to the heat when the SDM found them.

The Principal, Ms Kusum Punia, told the SDM that her school was providing enough facilities to the students but would now improve upon these. She, however, pointed out that she was not aware that three students of the school had been punished like this.


New Principal of Dasmesh Academy
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, July 20
Mr Arun Kumar Sharma today joined as Principal-cum-Director of Sri Dasmesh Academy, Anandpur Sahib. The post had been lying vacant since February 28 after the resignation of Mr Nicholas Gomes.

The institute was in news a few months ago when its management had decided to close down the academy due to a financial crunch. The vice-president of the trust of the academy, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, had donated Rs 1 crore to the academy.


Abolition of octroi: traders feel betrayed
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 20
Announcements, being made by the Punjab Chief Minister and other ministers, regarding the abolition of octroi in the state soon, seem to be a “lollipop”, being offered to traders of the state as on the one hand the Chief Minister and the ministers have been making statements, regarding the abolition of octroi, while on the other hand the Municipal Councils (MCs) in the state are issuing auction notices in newspapers for the collection of octroi on contract to private contractors.

The Municipal Council, Tapa (Sangrur) got published an auction notice in a newspaper on July 15 last for giving the collection of octroi on contract to contractor through an auction for one year i.e. from August 5, 2005 to August 4, 2006.

Likewise, the Municipal Council, Banga (Nawanshahar) also got published an auction notice in a newspaper on July 19 for giving collection of octroi on contract for one year i.e. from July 25, 2005 to July 24, 2006.

Statements by the ministers, regarding the abolition of octroi soon, and issuance of auction notices by the various Municipal councils to give the collection of octroi work on contract have been confusing traders as they have been compelled to think whether they should rely upon the statements of the Punjab Chief Minister and other ministers or they should believe the auction notices of municipal councils, on the collection of octroi on contract.

On June 25 last Mr Surinder Singla, Punjab Finance Minister, had disclosed at Sangrur that he had been directed by the Punjab Chief Minister to abolish octroi soon in the state as he (Capt Amarinder Singh) is committed to abolish octroi because after the imposition of VAT in the state there could be no local tax. However on July 1, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Government, Punjab, had stated at Sangrur that the Punjab Government had not fixed any time frame yet to abolish octroi in the state.

On July 6, Capt Amarinder Singh announced at Chandigarh that octroi would be abolished in the state, but it might take some months.

Mr Rajinder Singh Josh, general secretary, Punjab Beopar Mandal, said in view of the auction notices in newspapers for collection of octroi on contract by Municipal Councils, the traders of the state felt that they had been “betrayed” by the government as the Congress party had made a promise to people in its manifesto during Assembly elections that octroi would not be imposed. He said the state government had no firm stand on the issue of abolition of octroi as its ministers were changing statements on the issue.

Mr Josh further said now the collection of octroi was being given on contract by the Municipal Councils till July or August 2006, it seemed that the state government was not ready to abolish octroi in the state till then.

It also showed that the government was “betraying” the people of the state on the issue. In case, the state government abolished the octroi before July or August 2006 then the octroi contractors might move the courts to get justice. It seemed that octroi regime would not end for at least one year in the state, he added.


Punjab to set up Investment Commission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The Punjab Government has decided to set up a Punjab Investment Commission to boost investments in the state. A high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was held here yesterday to attract investments to create a self-sustaining economy.

This will help create a world-class environment for business activity in the changed scenario of globalisation and liberalisation. The Commission would also monitor the flow of investment in the state. It will also advise the government on the policy matters to attract fresh investments to ensure industrial and infrastructure growth in the state.

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