P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Withdraw bus fare hike, demands SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
While the Punjab Government has issued a notification increasing the bus fares by 4 paise per km with immediate effect, the Shiromani Akali Dal today urged it to reverse the decision.

The bus fare for ordinary buses earlier was 42 paise per km. It has now gone up to 46 paise per km.

Source said that the Transport Department had suggested a way out to the government to keep the bus fares at the existing level. It had proposed to reduce the road tax. However, this proposal was rejected by the Finance and Taxation Departments, it is learnt.

A government spokesman said the fare for ordinary buses would be 46 paise per km, for express buses 57.50 paise and for semi-deluxe buses 69 paise per km. In the case of deluxe buses, the fare would be 92 paise and for air-conditioned buses 115 paise per km.

Justifying the increases, the spokesman said that at present the Himachal Pradesh Government was charging 50 paise per k.m. for the plains and 75 paise for the hill areas. The Haryana Government was charging 45 paise per km.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has criticised the hike in the bus fares and said that this amounted to financing the luxurious lifestyles of the “rulers” by bleeding the already suffering populace of the state. He demanded an immediate reversal of the decision.

Mr Badal said that it was amazing that on the one hand the government claimed to have enough money to afford highly expensive luxury cars, helicopters and planes for the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues, while on the other it cited fiscal constraints as the reason for imposing fresh charges and taxes.

He said that only a highly insensitive Chief Minister could have sanctioned the fare hike at a time when the people had not even recovered from the crippling blows from the massive hike in petrol and diesel prices and the 20 per cent increase in electricity charges.


Punjab’s slide started after Emergency
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 30
With only one-and-a-half year left for the polls in Punjab, political parties are girding their loins for the impending struggle to seize power.

Punjab today presents a tragic story. A review of the scene reveals that the slide started after the Emergency. It has to be noted that friction between political parties vying for power got sharpened during this period. The conglomerate of political parties that attempted to replace the Congress had inherent contradictions which could not lead them to success. In Punjab, the Akali Dal and Janata Party provided the alternative. Mr Parkash Singh Badal became the Chief Minister and his basic approach had been to cater to the rural vote bank. He embroiled himself in all types of local politics from panchayats to cooperatives and market committees. The Janata Party members were given the urban portfolio and it was the time the decay of urban administration stated and Mr Badal spotted pliable officers and made them his henchmen to run the administration. This politicised the police and the bureaucracy.

In the 1980 elections, the Congress brought back a leader of the Kairon era, Mr Darbara Singh, and the state needed a man with a strong grip on the administration. He tried to give effective governance in Punjab. He brought Ropar Thermal Plant to completion which has helped the state in meeting the power needs of the state. He tried to bring financial discipline as well. But his own background as a factional leader proved to be his undoing. The disenchanted Sikh youth helped by Naxal elements organised themselves. The after effects of Nirankari-Sikh clash in Amritsar also surfaced during this period. Following selective killings, his government was dismissed by his political rival, Giani Zail Singh, who was the Union Home Minister. A year later, the people of Punjab were administered the severe shock in the form of Operation Bluestar.

The return of the Akalis to power in 1985 after the Rajive-Longowal accord could not assuage the feelings of the Sikhs. Mr S.S. Barnala could not do much for Punjab as he was branded a stooge of the Congress and his Finance Minister, Mr Balwant Singh proved to be too overbearing. Mr Badal also pushed the carpet beneath his seat. The assassination of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal left the Rajiv-Longowal accord without relevance. The political horizon of Punjab became hazy with the dismissal of the Barnala Government in 1987 and militants got an opportunity to have their fulplay.

Mr Sidharath Shankar Ray who was appointed Governor of Punjab during the President’s Rule gave full liberty to the police and the bureaucracy to crush militancy. But he himself proved incapable of providing the leadership. It was during this period that the governance of Punjab got derailed. Schools in rural areas were abandoned done and teachers were paid salaries without work. Similarly the health system in the rural areas also got disrupted. Funds were diverted to meet the high cost of police operations.

After the exit of Mr Ray, Mr Nirmal Mukerjee who succeeded him was a well intentioned man who tried to restore the confidence of the people in the administration. He, too, left the state and elections were announced in 1990 in Punjab which saw killing of as many as 26 candidates. The elections were cancelled 24 hours before polling by the newly constituted Narasimha Rao Government in the Centre.

In 1992, the Congress came to power with Mr Beant Singh as Chief Minister with the thinnest percentage of votes ever polled in any election. Mr Beant Singh was a tireless worker and he tried to put the administration on even keel. But the powerful bureaucracy and the police administration proved to be too much for him. However, he fell to the bullets of militants before he could achieve any economic security for the state.

His successors, Mr H.S. Brar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, could not have any grip on the administration and it was because of this that in the next election, the bureaucracy and police quietly supported the Akali Dal and Mr Parkash Singh Badal became Chief Minister.

Mr Badal did nothing against corrupt officers despite the explicit promises made in the Akali manifesto. Mr Badal did not have the acumen to restore the administrative efficiency. He rather concentrated the entire power in himself. The Akali-BJP Government soon got a bad name because of rampant corruption. To divert the attention, Mr Badal started ‘sangat darshan’ programmes and also put the entire state treasury to the same.

Mr Badal tried to get loans waived by the central government but failed. There was no industrialisation of the state although neighbouring states like Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal got special packages from the Centre and a number of industrial units shifted to the states. Mr Badal miserably failed to get any package from the Centre despite being a partner in the NDA Government.


Bihar Chief Secy Kang takes leave on SPs’ transfers
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
“Transfer of Superintendents of Police without the knowledge of the Chief Secretary is a serious issue,” says Mr Gurminder Singh Kang, Chief Secretary of Bihar, maintaining that newspaper reports about the transfer of several SPs prompted him to take the decision of proceeding on long protest leave yesterday.

“I went to my office at 10 a.m. yesterday and dictated a four-line letter to the Governor, Mr Buta Singh, saying that since the Chief Secretary was overall responsible for the law and order situation in the state, issuing the transfer orders of police officers without his knowledge was a serious issue. It indicated as if I was not needed for taking such vital decisions,” he said.

Talking to The Tribune on the telephone from his Patna residence, Mr Kang said that he was not consulted before ordering the transfers in the Police Department. Under the rules,the Chief Secretary was the overall head of the crime administration of the state.

Interestingly, it was Mr Buta Singh who had appointed Mr Kang the Chief Secretary of Bihar after the previous incumbent, Mr K.A.H. Subramanian, completed his term on May 31 this year.

“Everything was moving smoothly till a few days ago,” said Mr Kang, maintaining that he had no differences with either the Governor or anyone else in the administration.

Mr Kang, a 1970-batch officer, is due for superannuation in September next year. Before his elevation as Chief Secretary, Mr Kang was Development Commissioner.

Earlier, he was the Food Commissioner of Bihar also. Known for his stand on transparency in the civil administration, Mr Kang was not on the “favourites’ list” of the previous RJD government of Mrs Rabri Devi. As Food Commissioner also, he had opposed the transfer of honest and dedicated officers.

Mr Kang, who belongs to Samrala in Punjab, graduated in 1965 from the Sector 10 Government College for Boys here. He then joined the Panjab University campus and did postgraduation both in history and English before joining the Indian Administrative Service in 1970.

Bihar has been under President’s rule ever since the last assembly elections which gave a fractured verdict.

After writing the letter, Mr Kang left his chamber in the Secretariat and returned his official vehicles and mobile phone.


Cotton may be white gold for farmers this year
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The cotton crop can virtually prove to be white gold for farmers of Punjab, Haryana and the Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan this year.

Reports from Gujarat and Maharashtra, two major cotton-growing states, indicate that this crop has suffered a substantial setback there. Obviously, the loss there will be Punjab, Haryana and the Ganganagar belt’s gain.

Informed sources said that earlier the cotton crop could not be sown in vast areas of Maharashtra because of the delayed monsoon. Later heavy rain damaged the crop in that region. The same had happened in Gujarat. There will certainly be a major drop in the overall yield of cotton in the country this year, leading to a sharp increase in its domestic price. Obviously, it can prove to be a turning point in the economy, which has been in a shambles for several years, of the cotton belt of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The cotton crop in this region is shaping up well at present. Punjab is expecting a yield of 20 lakh bales this year from 5.8 lakh hectares under the crop. The overall production in this region, including Haryana and Ganganagar, will be 40 to 45 lakh bales. Punjab produced 17 lakh bales last year and the production in the region, including Haryana and Ganganagar, was around 37 lakh bales.

Punjab farmers have for the first time sown the officially released varieties of Bt cotton this year. Farmers and the state government authorities have high hopes from these varieties, though there are also groups of experts and the NGOs, which have expressed serious doubts about the yield potential.

Though heavy rain in the first week of July in the cotton belt of this region had hit the crop in certain pockets, the overall damage was insignificant. “The damage to the crop in Punjab has been very little,” said Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab. He said that farmers had grown other crops in fields where the cotton crop had withered because of waterlogging.

Mr Sidhu said he had visited the cotton belt early this week. “At present, the crop is free from all sorts of diseases and attack of pests”, he added. “We are constantly monitoring the crop and it is maturing as we had expected”, he added. He said that all would depend on how farmers managed the crop in the days to come.

To the good fortune of cotton growers, there was not much rain in the cotton belt during the past three weeks. “Though dry weather is not favourable for paddy growers, for cotton growers it is proving to the highly beneficial”, said Mr Sidhu. The cotton crop needs a dry spell at present.

In a week’s time, the crop will enter the flowering stage. Its picking will start in the last week of September or the first week of October.


Potable water eludes most SCs in 3 dists: study
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Potable drinking water still eludes a majority of the population of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts.

The fact has come to light during a study of the rural drinking water supply schemes conducted in the three districts by the Centre for Research and Industrial Development (CRRID). The schemes were funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

The awareness about water-borne diseases and benefits of safe drinking water has been found to be lowest among the Scheduled Castes and backward castes.

In the study conducted by a team of investigators, the impact and utility of at least 16 rural water supply schemes to the end users has been studied. It has been revealed that of the total public stand posts in the three districts, only 37.50 per cent had been installed in the Scheduled Caste clusters and for the backward caste clusters the figure was just 10.94 per cent.

In Ropar and Hoshiarpur districts which have a high ratio of Scheduled Castes and backward caste population, the availability of the stand posts was 35.04 per cent and 7.69 per cent, respectively. The kandi area, adjoining the lower Shivaliks in the two districts, has been facing water scarcity and a number of soil and conservation projects were being run under the centrally-aided schemes.

Due to poverty and low income, the people of the disadvantaged sections were unable to manage their own sources of water and also could not afford private water connections. Of the total household studied, around 25 per cent had income between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000 per annum.

As a result of lesser number of private connections, the potential of the schemes was not fully utilised. Analyzing the schemes for all category of users, the investigators have cited the example of a water supply scheme in Kiratpur village, Ropar. Against a capacity of around five lakh litres, there were just 140 connections, which means just 0.25 connections for 1000 litres of water. Similarly, there were just 20 connections against a water supply scheme with a capacity of around 2 lakh litres in Lam Lehari village, Ropar.

There were 316 connections against a scheme in Jugial village, Gurdaspur, which has a capacity of around 3 lakh litres. The CRRID has suggested that community involvement, coordination between the various departments and increase in the number of connections could make the schemes sustainable.

The investigators have expressed concern on water being supplied to the end users without chlorination. It has been revealed that in 55.55 per cent of the schemes in Ropar and 60 per cent in Gurdaspur, the potable water was being chlorinated.

A serious concern has also been expressed concern over the underutilisation of funds. In the majority of the schemes, the actual amount spent on the installation of the infrastructure was less than the sanctioned amount.

In a positive note, the report has indicated that 36.76 per cent of the women, who had to spend around two hours daily to collect water from other sources, were utilising their energy on productive activities in the agricultural sector. The dropout rate among the girls, who had to accompany their mothers to fetch water, had also gone done.


Secretary seeks report on disposal of syringes
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The role of staff employed by agents entrusted with the task of carrying medical waste from hospitals in Punjab to the dumping grounds in the state has come under a scanner in the recycling-of-syringes case.

The Punjab Government is reportedly looking into the possibility of their involvement in the pilferage of used syringes for the purpose of recycling. The government has also sought detailed report from all hospitals in the state regarding the system of disposing of the syringes, needles and other medical wastes. Directions in this regard have been issued by Punjab’s Secretary (Health), Mr D.S. Guru.

Giving details of the probe, the state Health Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra, said two or three “big operators”, deputed by the State Pollution Control Board, were involved in the task of disposing of the medical waste, including disposable syringes and needles. In fact, the agents had units in Ludhiana and some other cities where they were “burning” the waste.

He added as of now it was not feasible for him to rule out the possibility of the staff selling of the syringes to unscrupulous agents for recycling before these could reach the units for final disposal.

Elaborating upon his contention, the minister said, “As of now we are looking into the involvement of drivers and other staff members involved in actual process of transporting the waste material.”

Mr Dogra claimed that he would submit a detailed report in the matter to the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, after looking into the process of waste transportation and also after visiting all such units in the state.

He was earlier asked by the state Chief Minister to look into the matter and come out with a detailed proposal regarding the disposal of the hospital waste, including syringes, after taking cognisance of news reports carried in these columns.

The sources in the state Health Department, meanwhile, claimed that Mr Guru had issued directions to all concerned to submit their report within a week. For the purpose of carrying out the task, the Managing Director of Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) has been deputed.


Suspected militant denies hand
in attack on migrants

Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 30
The Kapurthala police today got the custody of two alleged terrorists on production warrant from Gurdaspur Jail for interrogating them regarding an attack on migrant labourers on June 5, 2001, at Razapur village.

According to the police, Sarup Singh and Nirmal Singh, both residents of Null village under police station Lohian Khas, Jalandhar district, were arrested by the CIA staff, Pathankot, from the Samrala Chowk, Ludhiana, on September 5 last year. The two had during interrogation confessed to their involvement in the attack on migrant labourers in which five persons were injured at Razapur village situated on the Nakodar road.

On the contrary, Sarup Singh, while talking to this correspondent, denied any involvement in the case or any links with the Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar).

According to Sarup Singh, he got arms training in Pakistan from 1994 to1998. He was transported to Pakistan from Moscow, where he reached through Balbir Singh, a travel agent based at Pehowa near Kurukshetra, whom he had paid Rs 1.5 lakh for immigration to Germany.

“I was sent to Islamabad in Pakistan instead of Germany by the travel agent and there I came in contact with the brother-in-law of Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, who took me to Lahore. I stayed in a posh house on the outskirts of Lahore with other terrorists. From there I was sent to some hilly terrain for arms training,” said Sarup Singh.

“While crossing over to India, I was caught on the border and put in the Jammu Jail, where I came in contact with Ravinder Singh Jammu, another terrorist of KCF,” added Sarup Singh.

After I and Ravinder Singh were released from the Jammu Jail, Ravinder promised to take me into his gang. He asked me to reach the Samrala Chowk in Ludhiana on September 2, 2004, to get the delivery of arms. However, the Pathankot police arrested me before the supply of arms,” claimed Sarup Singh.


SAD legislators boycott meeting
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 30
None of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA of all the three Assembly constituencies, Faridkot, Kot Kapura and Punjgrain, falling in the district attended the District Grievances Committee meeting held here yesterday.

The three MLAs are Mr Gurdev Singh Badal (Punjgrain), Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon (Faridkot), and Mr Mantar Singh Brar (Kot Kapura).

Telling the reasons for their non-participation in the meeting, Mr Mantar Singh Brar, in a press statement here today, described the Grievences Committee as a puppet show of the ruling Congress government to meet its personal ends. He levelled charges of violation of democratic norms against the government in the distribution of various kinds of development funds and laying of foundation stones of different projects by the non-elected members or defeated MLAs of its party in the recent past in the district. This, he said, deprived the elected members of their rights in this connection.

He accused the state Congress government of adopting a revengeful attitude towards many senior SAD leaders, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, former state Chief Minister and Agriculture Minister, respectively, along with their other family members by involving them in false corruption cases.

While flaying the government for failing to fulfil its commitment to strengthen Faridkot district by including 100 more villages in it besides shifting of various divisional offices, including of DIG (Police) to Bathinda a few months back, Mr Brar made it clear that his party would not bear the highhandedness of the Congress government and fight to protect the interests of the residents of the area.


Villagers thrash ‘inebriated’ cops
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
Residents of Phus Mandi village today thrashed two
“inebriated” policemen for beating up a Dalit woman of the village. Both of them have been suspension.

According to sources, both policemen reached the home of Nirmal Singh, resident of Phus Mandi, with their friend Ramesh Kumar this morning. They rashly drove their vehicle to the village, where a seven-year-old boy, Luvpreet Singh, escaped being hurt when they drove past him.

The driver of Civil Lines police station, Roop Singh, waited outside, while the other cop, Harmesh Singh, went inside. They found Nirmal Singh not at home and reportedly thrashed his mother Balwant Kaur and threw her on the ground. Soon villagers gathered and started beating up the policemen.

The villagers also held them hostage for some time and released them only after police officials reached there. Both policemen were in uniform and used a government vehicle of Civil Lines police station.

Unconfirmed reports said the policemen were reportedly drinking liquor at Jassi Chowk last night. They sought lift from Nirmal Singh, which he denied. Infuriated they barged into his home today.

A case has been registered against them under Sections 452, 323, and 34 of the IPC.

Medical examination of both of them was conducted at Civil Hospital, Bathinda, while Balwant Kaur was admitted there for treatment.


Bheora’s father unaware of son’s arrest
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 30
Family members of Paramjit Singh Bheora, one of the accused in the Beant Singh assassination case, who has escaped from Burail Jail, expressed ignorance about the arrest of Bheora and his whereabouts.

Living in Bheora village on the Ropar-Chandigarh national highway, Bheora’s family members said they came to know about Bheora’s arrest only through newspaper in the morning.

Bheora’s father Jagjit Singh (81) kept watching television throughout the day for confirmation of the news. “After Hawara’s arrest, policemen came to our house and questions about Bheora. But since yesterday, no police personnel have contacted us or raided our house” he said.

We met Bheora in January last year, a few days before he escaped from Burail Jail. We had met him in the jail on Lohri. But after his escape, we have had no contact with him,” he added.


Recovering loans through dharnas
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 30
Though the staff and managers of the Fatehgarh Sahib Central Co-operative Bank and its branches at Bassi Pathana, Sirhind and Mandi Gobindgarh have developed a novel method for recovering loans from defaulters, by staging dharnas, the defaulters have alleged that banks have adopted a pick and choose policy. They alleged that the bank manager and staff of the Sirhind branch of the bank did not organise dharnas in front of the offices of a powerful politician and a press reporter of a vernacular daily of Sirhind.

The staff has so far organised dharnas in front of 25 defaulters at different towns.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh Dhindsa, manager of Fatehgarh Sahib Central Co-Operative Bank, told The Tribune that the bank had launched this campaign to recover loans from non-agricultural sector defaulters. He said dharnas would be organised in front of all defaulters irrespective of his political or social position.

Giving an example, he said Mr Amar Singh, resident of Sehri village, had been arrested and send to Patial jail for non-payment of loan.

Managers of these banks stated that many defaulters apprehending insult and social stigma have started negotiations with banks and this campaign has yielded good results.


No salary for two months
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 30
Resentment prevails among the employees of the Irrigation Department for the non-receipt of salaries for June and July.

A meeting was organised in this connection at Kandi Canal Circle here yesterday. Addressing the meeting presidents of the PICA, Diploma Engineers Association, Punjab PWD Draftsmen Association and Class-IV Employees Union said due to the non-receipt of salaries the employees were facing hardships.

They urged the state government to release their salaries immediately.


3 killed as jeep overturns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
Three persons were killed and four others, including a woman, were injured when a jeep overturned near Bhucho Mandi last night.

According to sources, the accident occurred when the jeep carrying seven persons was on its way from Bhucho to Nathana. Sources said the driver reportedly lost control over the jeep and it overturned resulting in the death of three persons on the spot.

The deceased were identified as Avtar Singh, Charanjit Singh and Jagsir Singh. Another person, Gurmail Singh, sustained serious injuries. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda.


Pak infiltrator killed

Amritsar, July 30
Border Security Force personnel killed a Pakistani infiltrator while trying to intrude into India in the Naushera Dhall region along the Indo-Pak border.

A BSF spokesman said today that the intruder, aged around 45, was spotted by the BSF patrol last evening. He was asked to stop and surrender but tried to run back to Pakistan.

The securitymen opened fire which left the man dead, the spokesman added. — UNI


Employee dies on duty
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 30
A Nagar Council employee posted as clerk at Chachoki octroi post died of cardiac arrest while on duty here today.

According to sources, Varun Bansal in his early thirties of Rajputan Mohalla Phillaur, complained of uneasiness while on duty at the octroi post. A private doctor was summoned. By the time the doctor could reach the spot, he breathed his last and was declared dead.

His body was sent to his native place at Phillaur.


Protest by shopkeepers
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 30
Shopkeepers blocked traffic on the Kharar-Landran road today in protest against the bad condition of the Arya College road. The DSP, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, intervened and got the blockade lifted.

The protesters said the condition of the road was bad and there was no proper arrangement for the disposal of rainwater.


Zaffarwal acquitted in sedition case

Amritsar, July 30
A local court has acquitted former terrorist
and erstwhile Khalistan Commando Force (KCS) chief Wasan Singh Zaffarwal in a 16-year-old sedition case for want of substantial evidence.

District and Sessions Judge M.S. Randhawa passed the acquittal order yesterday as the prosecution witnesses, including a few scribes, could not turn up in the court for recording the statements.

The case was filed against Zaffarwal on April 13, 1989 for allegedly participating at the reported meeting of the Panthic Committee (Baba Sohan Singh) at Gurdwara Shahidan here to draw strategy for “Khalistan Movement”.

Later, Zaffarwal had fled the country and remained in Pakistan, England and Australia till 2001. He was arrested the same year soon after his return to India as he was wanted in nine cases of sedition, murder and robbery. Later he was released on bail.

This was the last case pending against him. He had already been acquitted in eight other cases. — UNI


Tehelka: Prime witness retracts statement
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
Prime prosecution witness in the general court martial trying Brig Iqbal Singh in the Tehelka case today retracted a statement supposed to have been made by him in the summary of evidence (SOE) earlier.

During his cross-examination by the defence counsel, Maj R S Randhawa (retd), witness Mathews Samuel’s attention was drawn to a question whether he agreed that he had wasted his time, effort and resources on Brigadier Iqbal and that he had got nothing in return. The answer in the SOE was recorded as affirmative and that what he expected from the brigadier did not materialise.

When he was shown the manuscript of the SOE during his deposition, Mathews denied have given such an answer. He, however, identified his signatures on the page concerned as well as on other pages of the manuscript.

He also stated during his cross-examination that though he had not gone through the SOE thoroughly before his deposition, he could identify portions where changes had been in statements given by him.

He said he had paid about Rs 20,000 to Major-Gen S P Murgai for arranging his meeting with the then Master General of Ordnance (MGO) at Army Headquarters. He had also paid Rs 80,000 to Lieut-Col V.P. Sayal, besides offering him material bribes and the services of girls, for getting access to senior officers in Army Headquarters.

Mathews added that the accused had asked him for a cut in the deal for Hand-Held Thermal Imagers for himself as well as for the MGO during his meeting with him on November 5, 2000, in Hotel Park. He added that after November 5, the accused had not asked anything.

Mathews said he had also paid Rs 2,000 to a clerk in Army Headquarters for getting access to senior officers. He said he had seen a clerk feeding monkeys outside Army Headquarters during one of his visits and on instinct decided to cultivate him.

His attention was also drawn by the defence on Mark Tully’s recently released book, India in Slow Motion, where a full chapter, Corruption Top to Bottom, is devoted to him and his sting operation. The defence pointed out while he had mentioned the names of a host of senior Army officers, including several generals who had allegedly demanded and accepted bribes, no mention was made about Brigadier Iqbal Singh.

The court also saw emphatic arguments between the defence counsel and the prosecuting officer, Lieut-Col Sanjay Sitanshu over allowing the witness to see the SOE to refresh his memory during his deposition. The witness had sought to see his statements recorded in the SOE. The court opined that there was no provision under which the witness could be shown the SOE at that stage. The court will re-assemble on August 1 for Mathews’ cross-examination to continue.


11 robbers held, 25 pistols seized
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 30
The police has busted a gang of robbers involved in a large number of criminal activities not only in different parts of the state but also in neighbouring states.

The police arrested 11 members of the gang and seized huge cache of arms, including 25 pistols, besides cash and jewellery, from them.

Addressing a press conference here today, the SSP, Mr L.K. Yadav, said the gang had perpetuated many crimes in the region in the recent past and the arrest of its 11 members came after the police intensified their search.

He said the CIA in charge, Mr Ram Parkash, got a tip-off last night that some armed men were planning a robbery at Aulakh village. He immediately rushed to the spot along with a police party and managed to nab the gang members.

Those arrested were identified as Paramjeet Singh, alias Pamma, Baljinder Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Bhagwant Singh, Sukha Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Sucha Singh.

A huge cache of arms was also seized from them. A case has been registered against them under sections 309 and 402 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, Kotbhai SHO Mukhtiar Singh arrested Nishan Singh, Harjinder Singh, Gursewak Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Satnam Singh and Manjeet Singh, at Madhir village where they were planning a robbery.

The SSP said their interrogation revealed that Pamma was the head of the gang. Pamma had created a wide network of his men spread over different parts of the state. Two persons belonging to the target area served as guides, while a 11-member team of the gang used to commit criminal activities.

He said the gang leader seemed to be well-acquainted with the working style of the police and left no clue at the crime scene. They were not even using mobile phones. They have carried out criminal activities in various parts of Muktsar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Dabwali, and Ganganagar.

The SSP said the gang members were all Punjabis and in the age group of 16-30. He said they had established a hideout near Bhuleria and Alamwala villages, where they would meet before and after committing any crime.

The SSP said the police had recovered 25 pistols, 326 cartridges, Rs 56,000 and jewellery, from them.

The SSP felicitated Head Constable Balraj Singh who played a key role in busting the gang of criminals. 


Woman dies after abortion, doctor booked
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 30
The district police on the complaint of the Civil Surgeon has registered a case under the MTP Act against the owner of a private hospital at Chuni Kalan after a woman who underwent an abortion at the hospital died.

The owner of the hospital, Dr A.R. Khan, has been arrested.

The health authorities also raided the ultrasound centre in Mohali where the ultrasound was conducted and took in custody the record pertaining to the case.

Dr H.P.S. Sandhu, Civil Surgeon, said he had got a complaint from Gurmeet Singh of Rasoolpur village, saying that his wife underwent an abortion at the Public Hospital, Chuna Kalan, on July 19. She developed some complications and he took her to the hospital and the doctor took her for an ultrasound to Mohali. She was given some medicines and they came back. He alleged that on July 24, she died due to the negligence on the part of the doctor.

The Civil Surgeon said he had constituted a team to visit the village of the victim.

The team was told that she had four children and at the time of the abortion, she was six-week pregnant and she died due to negligence.

Meanwhile, sources claimed that the abortion was not performed by Dr Khan but by a woman doctor. The police is looking for her.


Sons kill father over land tiff

Amritsar, July 30
Three brothers killed their father and a brother following a tiff over a land dispute at Kot Mohammadpura in the Tarn Taran region of Amritsar district today.

A police spokesman said here today that Sundar Singh and his son Balbir Singh were working in their agricultural field this morning when Sundar’s other three sons — Gurmel Singh, Jagtar Singh and Lakhwinder Singh — attacked the duo with sharp-edged weapons.

The family was having a dispute over the division of five acres of land among Sundar Singh’s five sons. Sundar Singh wanted to transfer the land to his sons Balbir and Jagmel Singh and the accused were annoyed with their father over this. Sundar Singh’s fifth son, Jagmel Singh, an armyman, was away on his duty. — UNI


Kabbadi player, 6 others held for planning dacoity
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 30
Unemployment and lure for easy money made the 25-year-old Karnail Singh, a Kabbadi player who had represented the state at the national and international levels and had done graduation with 63 per cent marks, to join hand with criminals. He was today arrested by the Ropar police along with six others while they were allegedly planning a dacoity.

The police has seized four countrymade pistols and rods from their possession. The other accused have been identified as Jagtar Singh Tari, Kulbir Singh, Surjit Singh, Jagroor Singh, Ramesh and Surinder Singh. The police also suspects that the gang is involved in various other cases.

Karan said he had never imagined that one day he would be arrested in such a case. "I have always been a good student and was active in sports. I have represented the state at the national and international events and recently played a match in Pakistan” he said.

“I have done graduation from Baundanli College at Faror in Samrala with good percentage. I have applied for various jobs, but have not got any response despite good qualification. I have once selected for a wireless operator job, which were later cancelled," he said.

“I did not have any source of income so I came close to this group. I got addict to their company in lure of easy money” he added.

Earlier, on a tip-off the police led by CIA in charge Gurdeep Singh arrested the accused from near Chamkaur Sahib,SP Harbaj Singh said.


PNB cashier booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 29
On the complaint of Mr Naresh Kumar Sharma, Branch Manager, Punjab National Bank, Binjon, the Mahilpur police has booked the cashier of the branch, Mr Krishan Kumar, on the charge of misappropriating money.

Many bank customers found withdrawals from this accounts without their knowledge and they brought this to the notice of the Bank Manager a few days ago. They also brought this discrepancy in the notice of the Senior Regional Manager, PNB, Hoshiarpur

Mr Chand Singh, Senior Regional Manager, said there were about 2,200 accounts in the bank branch. four bank officers had been deputed in the branch to check all accounts to ascertain the extent of embezzlement. He said once the assessment was over claim cases of account holders would be sent to the zonal office of the bank for payment. He appealed to all account holders to get their pass books tallied with the bank’s ledger to ensure the correctness of their balance amount. He made it clear that the embezzled amount from any account would be given to the account holders.


Four cops booked on PSHRC orders
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 30
Following the directions of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), four policemen, including an SHO, have been booked for reportedly picking up a youth and torturing him.

Those booked have been identified as Samalsar SHO Ajmer Singh, ASI Vikram Singh, Gurjant Singh, and constable Sahab Singh.

According to sources, Surjeet Kaur of Kot Ise Khan, in her complaint to the human rights commission, alleged that Ajmer Singh, who was then posted at the CIA staff, Zira, raided her house on July 21, 2004, and forcibly took away her son, Manjeet Singh.

She alleged that Ajmer had tortured her son. Taking serious notice of her complaint, the commission had asked the ADGP to probe into the matter.

The probe report holding these policemen responsible in the case was submitted to the commission. The commission asked the Moga SSP to book the guilty policemen.


Man booked for cheating wife

Hoshiarpur, July 30
On the complaint of Babita Patial, a local resident, the Police yesterday booked her husband, Dr Chaman Lal of Kot Ise Khan, Moga district, for cheating her in the name of marriage.

According to police sources, Babita has stated in her complaint that she was married to Dr Chaman Lal on July 4, 2003, according to Hindu rites. She alleged that after marriage her husband got her signatures on a blank judicial paper on gunpoint and left her at her parents house at Hoshiarpur on the assurance that he would take her back after some time.

When her husband did not turn up for months together, she along with her brothers and neighbourers went to her husband’s house. When she tried to stay there, Dr Chaman Lal did not accept her and on pistolpoint told her that she was not his wife and she had only been working with him as a nurse. She further alleged that after making inquiry about the character of Dr Chaman Lal she came to know that he had already married thrice.


Constable held for graft
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 30
The Vigilance Bureau arrested a head constable, Jarnail Singh, posted at Kotwali police station on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 here today.

According to information, Jeet Kaur, a resident of Boota village, near here, had caught on the charges of possessing liquor in huge quantity a few days back. At the time of raid, the head constable struck a deal with the accused for favoring in the case if she could pay him Rs 1,000. Jeet Kaur handed him over her ear ornaments on the spot on the condition that she will exchange her ornaments after paying Rs 1,000 to him later on.

Meanwhile, Jeet Kaur contacted the Vigilance Bureau which caught Jarnail Singh red handed while accepting the money near district library and registered a case under the Anti-corruption Act.


Six hurt in clash over meat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 30
Six persons were injured in a group clash over the sharing of goat meat here today.

Some residents of the old vegetable market purchased a goat and got it slaughtered at a meat shop near Dolphin hotel. They came home merrily with the meat. However, a youth reportedly objected to the way the meat was being distributed and alleged that his family was not given its due share.

This started the fight and another person allegedly thrashed the youth. His family members, besides others were also injured.

Six members of two families, including two women, were injured and were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The Division No. 4 police had to intervene to stop the clash.


Shopkeeper, customer shot at
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 30
A shopkeeper and his customer were shot at by two youths in broad daylight here today. Both of them were seriously injured.

According to sources, two motor cycle-borne youths came to Mahendra Book Depot at about 1 pm and asked for a recharge coupon of a mobile phone company. The shop owner, Mr Naresh Kumar, gave them the coupon, after which they asked him to open his cabin for them, as they wanted to talk to him.

Naresh Kumar told them to move out. This led to an altercation between the two parties. Suddenly, one of them started his motor cycle while the other took out a pistol and fired at Naresh and his customer Sarwan Singh.

Both of them were rushed to Civil Hospital from where they were referred to Ludhiana. Their condition was reported to be critical.


Bus driver attacked, robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 30
Nearly 12 armed assailants last night broke windowpanes of a private mini bus near Jagpalpur village and robbed the conductor of his cellphone and handbag containing Rs 2,500.

The driver, Parmod Kumar, and his brother, Sandeep Kumar, of Rampur Sunra village, were dragged out of the bus and beaten up. Both were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara.

Incidentally, there was no passenger in the bus when it was waylaid.


Plea for change in teacher’s role
Tribune News Service

Dr Romila Soni
Dr Romila Soni, Teacher Educator, NCERT, New Delhi, at a workshop for teachers organised by Woodlands Overseas School, Dasuya Road, Hoshiarpur on Saturday.

Hoshiarpur, July 30
A workshop for teachers was organised by Woodlands Overseas School, Dasuya Road, here today which was conducted by Dr Romila Soni, Teacher Educator, NCERT, New Delhi. A votary of stress-free education among children, Dr Soni has authored many books which emphasise on pre-school and primary education. She has also conducted intensive training workshops for teachers in India and abroad.

Apprising the teachers of latest techniques and methods of education, Dr Romila Soni stressed on the need to change the teacher’s role from that of a transmitter of information to that of a facilitator of learning. She also recommended inter-active teaching based on teacher-student dialogue.

Later, she went round the campus and expressed satisfaction over the world-class facilities being provided in the school. She congratulated the management for its commitment towards providing quality education.


Forum accuses Boparai of nepotism
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
Accusing Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, of acting in an “arbitrary and despotic style”, the Forum for Educational Action and Reform has asked the Chancellor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), to cancel Mr Boparai’s extension before it came into effect from August 28.

In a letter to the Chancellor signed by Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, the forum has said the university, set up in 1962, was not fulfilling its objective of the development and promotion of the Punjabi language.

The forum has said Mr Boparai didn’t have adequate academic qualifications to head a university, which should have an academic at the helm. Being a bureaucrat, Mr Boparai does not have an academic agenda. In other allegations levelled against the Vice-Chancellor include “a record number of suspensions, pre-mature retirements and dismissal of employees, including senior teachers of the university” during his tenure. A number of cases in this regard are pending in the high court.

The forum has also levelled charges of nepotism against the Vice-Chancellor. They have alleged that he favoured the appointment of Mr Parambakshish Singh Sidhu as Registrar. Mr Boparai got a revised advertisement issued, according to which Mr Sidhu became eligible for the post.

They have accused the Vice-Chancellor of paying “scant respect to university acts, statutes, ordinances and reducing the Syndicate to a mere approving body.”

When contacted, Mr Boparai said, “I would not like to comment on the campaign carried on by Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon.”

His other comments were of a personal nature.

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