P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Akali MLAs to refuse luxury vehicles
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
SAD today came down heavily against the Punjab Government’s move to buy expensive luxury vehicles for MLAs and declared that if the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, went ahead with the proposed move in this direction, the Akali legislators would refuse to accept the new vehicles.

However, if the Chief Minister persisted with the move despite Akali opposition, then the party would approach the Speaker and if necessary, the Governor, and ask them to ensure that at least the money to be spent on vehicles meant for the legislators belonging to the Party (SAD) be diverted to the repair and construction of roads and other infrastructure-development projects.

Obviously, SAD wanted to score a political point over the ruling Congress party as the Assembly elections are nearing. Earlier, the leadership of the SAD had opposed the visit of MLAs to Europe and other countries. But its MLAs accompanied the Congress MLAs, who visited Europe recently.

“What Punjab needs today is not luxury vehicles for its legislators, ministers and parliamentary secretaries but roads, drinking water, medicines and other facilities for the people already reeling under the impact of non-governance and mismanagement,” said the Akali chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in a statement here today.” SAD could not even dream of its legislators going to the already suffering people in villages and towns of the state in expensive luxury vehicles. With what face will we justify this conspicuous luxury when people are finding it hard even to travel across from one town to another because of a combination of exorbitant travel expenses and the shocking plight of roads. A majority of villages and towns in the state go without electricity for more than 14 hours every day. That is where the government money should go, and not on buying luxury items for people’s representatives and ministers,’’ Mr Badal said.

The Akali chief wondered at what he described as the “shocking insensitivity of the Chief Minister in pushing the move at a time when the government was not even in a position to pay salaries to its employees regularly. He said there was a virtual outcry among the people against the absence of basic civic amenities such as drinking water, medicines, teachers for schools and doctors for government hospitals and power for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other sectors.

“To think of squandering precious public money on luxury items when people are being starved of bare necessities is the height of thick-skinned politics,” said Mr. Badal. He adding that it was strange that on the one hand the Chief Minister almost daily cited fiscal stringency as the main reason for not providing development projects and discontinuing policies for social welfare, on the other he was busy negotiating deals for the purchase of lavish and luxurious aircraft, helicopters and vehicles. If the government really had such slush money to be spent on unproductive facilities, how could it justify the back-breaking hikes in bus fares, electricity charges and other taxes, he said.

Mr Badal said in a country like India, and especially in a state like Punjab, the lifestyles of people’s representatives must reflect the social realities.” In Punjab, where farmers have been reportedly committing suicide because of indebtedness and the government has been expressing total helplessness due to the reported paucity of funds, it would require an exceptional degree of insensitivity on the part of leaders to go to the people riding luxury cars purchased at the expense of providing basic and essential amenities for them.


Dairy board helpless on milk adulteration
Chitleen K. Sethi

Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 3
Even as the Punjab Dairy Development Board is busy these days checking household milk for adulteration and coming up with shocking results, board officials feel helpless as they cannot take any substantial action against unscrupulous household milk suppliers.

The board, with the Chief Minister as its Chairman, was constituted to develop dairy in the state, but its mandate is limited to controlling milk plants and is not authorised to take action against household suppliers and dairies. The Health Department of the state, however, wields this authority under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954.

Sources hinted while the Health Department had over the past one year organised joint raids to nab those supplying adulterated milk and milk products, the effectiveness of these checks was limited due to the dearth of coordination between the board and the department.

These joint raids were conducted at Ludhiana, Gurdaspur and Sangrur following information that certain milk contractors in the area were supplying adulterated milk to milk plants and households. Punitive action against the suppliers was also initiated by the Health Department but did not have the desired deterrent effect on others involved in such practices.

Sources said this issue came up for discussion during the last meeting of the board held on July 27, under the chairmanship of Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Chief Minister was told while the Health Department was doing its best to check adulterated food, there was lack of focus since the department had many other issues to tackle. It was suggested that the board be given the authority to check adulteration in milk and milk products only so that a single body could exercise focused control over a single food product.

Meanwhile, the board’s office in Chandigarh continued to be flooded with queries regarding testing of milk for adulteration. “Other than the calls, we received over 40 samples at the office. Only two samples conformed to the standards. Most were adulterated with water. In fact, the extent of water in some samples was as high as 45 per cent and the minimum was at 8 per cent but in majority of the cases it was as high as 25 per cent. Neutraliser was not found in any of the samples checked today. In the districts our deputy directors have collected milk samples from Ropar, Patiala, Jalandhar and Abohar,” said Mr Anil Kaura, Director, Punjab Dairy Development Board.

The Tribune had carried a report on Monday that the milk being supplied by milkmen to households could be highly adulterated containing bacterial water and chemicals and consumers could get milk tested by contacting the board’s office in Chandigarh.

Mr Kaura added that consumers could also get milk tested using do-it-yourself kits which are easily available in the markets.

“There is a small kit available for Rs 100 that conducts seven tests. Another kit is available for Rs 2000 and conducts 100 tests. These are useful and handy,” he said.


Mega project which can change face of Punjab
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
From its foundation ceremony in 1998 to the HPCL’s threat to shift it to Rajasthan in 2004, the prestigious Rs 16,000 crore Guru Gobind Singh Refinery Project, Bathinda, has witnessed many ups and downs before the recent announcement of its re-launch in the coming days.

The Tribune explored the long journey of the mega project that can well change the face of Punjab.

The Former Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, announced this project as part of an economic package for the state that was grappling to return to normalcy post-militancy in December 1995.

When Mr HD Deve Gowda-led United Front government came to power the then Union Minister Mr BS Ramoowalia, pursued the clearance of project with Mr Murasoli Maran, the then Union Minister of Industries who confirmed the issuance of Letter of Intent in favour of the HPCL. Mr Ramoowalia then took up the matter for establishing the project in Bathinda with the Mr Deve Gowda. However, the road ahead didn’t turn out to be smooth.

Local people raised apprehensions about increase in pollution and low compensation. They staged demonstrations against the site selection team of the HPCL officials who came to inspect the infertile land near Talwandi Sabo.

Later, some persons closely associated with the project took up the matter with the protesters and explained them about pollution control devices and compensation schemes planned by the HPCL.

Sources said the HPCL officials were initially apprehensive about the attitude of the new Akali government that came to power in 1997. However, Mr Badal extended support to the project and it got the final approval in 1998. The then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, laid its foundation stone on November 13, 1998, and the project was to be completed in 48 months. Land acquisition, seeking necessary approvals and company formation consumed a considerable span of time before the project faced rough weather with the rise of the Congress government in the state.

The government raised strong objections to the earlier sales tax exemption clause, which, as per initial estimates, would have cost the state a whopping Rs 15,000 crores over 15 years.

About 2,000 acres of land was acquired for the project and before the suspension of the work the state government and the HPCL had spent about Rs 300 crore to raise basic infrastructure at the project site. Frustrated over the delay in clearance of the financial package by the state government, the HPCL threatened on October 14 last year to shift the refinery project to Rajasthan if the state government failed to fulfill its promise of extending sales tax exemption and other concessions.

“The Rajasthan government had even offered to give all concessions sought by the HPCL. The Petroleum ministry then gave a fresh look to the project and sent a new proposal to Punjab reducing the state’s revenue loss to Rs 600 crore instead of the Rs 15,000 crore estimated earlier. The project was finally revived earlier this year with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh playing a key role in it.

The project also witnessed a blame game between the two main political parties of the state. While the Akalis attributed the Congress government’s objections to vested interests, the government said the state could not afford exemptions.

As far as public opinion is concerned, it has always been in the project’s favour, as amply proved by an Internet poll conducted by The Tribune on February 3, in which 76 per cent people approved of concessions given for the project.

Likely to generate employment for thousands of unemployed youth, project would give a much-needed boost to the state’s economy. Though the finalisation of the project’s terms took six years and its cost has also shot up considerably, the HPCL and the state government should now concentrate on executing the project at the earliest.


Refinery’s re-launch on Aug 12
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
The work on the Rs 16,000-crore Guru Gobind Singh Refinery would restart on August 12 in the presence of Union Petroleum Minister, Manishankar Aiyar and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh here.

Finance Minister Surinder Singla disclosed this while talking to The Tribune on the phone today.

Mr Singla said the HPCL had worked out the configuration of the refinery and a revised deed between the company and the Punjab Government would be signed on the day of the refinery’s re-launch in Bathinda.

He said the HPCL looks forward to complete the work on this prestigious project within 24 to 30 months.

He said a delegation of a Chinese firm experts in building municipal services would be visiting Bathinda tomorrow.

He reiterated his commitment to the development of the city.


Jilted jawan shoots at fiancee, kills self
Gurbux Puri

Tarn Taran, August 3
Disturbed over his broken engagement an Army jawan today shot at and injured his fiancé by barging into the nursing school hostel here and later committed suicide by shooting himself from point blank range with a 5.56 INSAS rifle.

The incident took place early in the morning at the local school of nursing where the girl was doing a nursing course. The Army jawan, Satnam Singh, forced entry into the hostel of the school by firing in the air indiscriminately. He forced Parmjit Kaur (21), a resident of Sattowal (Baba Bakala) village, to come outside and shot at her. After this he shot himself in the neck and head.

While Satnam Singh died on the spot, Paramjit was immediately rushed to the local civil hospital in a serious condition. She was later shifted to a private hospital in Amritsar where her condition is stated to be out of danger.

A case under Sections 307, IPC, and Sections 25, 27, 54, 59 Arms Act, has been registered at the city police station against Satnam Singh.

Satnam, a resident of Nangli Naushehra, posted at 268, engineering regiment Western Command, was engaged to the girl about two years back. However, soon after the girl took admission in the nursing school, her parents refused to marry their daughter to Satnam.

Disturbed over this decision Satnam apparently decided to take the extreme step of killing the girl and himself. Earlier, the jawan intoxicated the guard on duty and took away his 5.56 INSAS rifle. He reached the school after fleeing from his regiment.

One Ravinder Singh, brother of the school Director, tried to stop him but he forcibly entered the hostel situated on the upper story of the building. He inquired about Paramjit from the other girl students present there. They initially hesitated to reveal anything about the girl but told that she was in the adjoining washroom when Satnam threatened to kill them. As soon as Paramjit came out of the washroom he fired at her and injured her seriously.

Meanwhile, Col N.P. Singh from Satnam’s regiment arrived to take the first hand information about the whole episode. The police has seized the rifle along with 10 cartridges. 


Death to girl’s rapist-killer upheld
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded to a Mansa resident for having raped and murdered a seven-year-old girl.

The accused Amrit Singh had raped and killed Rajpreet Kaur alias Ruby, a student of Class II, and then dumped her body in a cotton field, which, incidentally, was his own.

As per the prosecution case, the accused caught hold of the deceased on the evening of November 3, 2003, while she was returning home from her friend’s home after playing.

The body of the girl was later recovered from the fields by her parents in naked condition, with blood stains on her private parts. A post-mortem examination confirmed that she had been raped and then murdered.

A case was registered by the Mansa police on the next day and a manhunt was launched to nab the accused, who had gone missing. After about a week, he finally surrendered in the presence of a village panch, Mr Karamjit Singh. He denied the charge.

However, what clinched the case for the prosecution was presence of accused’s hair in the hands of the deceased and the statement of a witness, who had seen Amrit taking the girl with him towards the fields.

On March 19, 2005, the Additional Sessions Judge, Mansa, convicted Amrit of the offence and awarded death sentence to him.

In his appeal against the judgement of the Mansa court, Amrit claimed that there was no concrete evidence against him.

However, writing the judgement for the Bench, Mr Justice Pritam Pal observed that the court had found no extenuating circumstances in favour of the accused for taking any lenient view in the matter. “Rather, there are aggravating circumstances against the accused wherein he is proved to have acted in most cruel and inhuman manner,” the Bench held.

The Bench also comprised Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill.

Saying that they were of the view that the case was one of the rarest of the cases where death was the most appropriate punishment, the Bench allowed the murder reference, thereby upholding the lower court judgement.


Surprise checking of government offices by DC
24 employees found absent
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 3
In a surprise check of government offices by Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Husan Lal, at Bhawanigarh town, 22 km from here, this morning, the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Naib Tehsildar, Assistant Treasury Officer (ATO), Executive Officer (EO) of the Municipal Council along with 20 employees of their respective offices were found absent from duty.

Besides, four employees of the Bhawanigarh Market Committee and two Anganwari workers of the Anganwari Centre, Phaguwala (near Bhawanigarh) were also found absent from duty.

During the checking Mr Gurtej Singh, SDM, Sangrur; Dr Maghar Singh, DEO (Secondary), Sangrur; Mr Ved Parkash, DEO (Elementary), Sangrur, also accompanied the Deputy Commissioner. They also checked two government senior secondary schools at Bhawanigarh and one school at Phaguwala village. In schools the staff was found on duty.

Talking to The Tribune this afternoon, Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said he started surprise checking at 9.10 am from the office of the BDPO at Bhawanigarh where the BDPO and 10 employees of his office had been found absent. In the Tehsil office, the Naib-Tehsildar, a clerk and two peons were found absent. The staff of the treasury office, Assistant Treasury Officer and two employees, were found absent from duty as the office had been found locked. In the Municipal Council office, the EO and five employees of his office had also not been present. In the Market Committee office, four clerks were found absent. During checking of the Anganwari Centre at Phaguwala village, both anganwari workers were also found absent, the Deputy Commissioner added.

The DC said explanation would now be sought from the absentee officers and employees. Following their replies, suitable action, including disciplinary action, would be taken. He said both anganwari workers of the Anganwari Centre, Phaguwala, had been suspended and for further action, letters were being written to the department concerned.

The Deputy Commissioner said during the checking of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Bhawanigarh, he found the bio laboratory and chemistry laboratory in dilapidated condition, for which the DEO (Secondary) had been directed to take action and submit a report in a week in this regard. He further said in the Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Bhawanigarh, lapses had also been found in the functioning of the school library as there was no catalogue for the convenience of students. Besides, books had also not been kept in order in the almirah, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner also inspected the Bhawanigarh Civil Hospital and office of the Child Development and Project Officer (CDPO).


Jagmeet Brar falls out of favour, key men sacked
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 3
A senior Congress leader and former Member of Parliament from Faridkot, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, suffered a jolt yesterday when the Punjab Government removed one of his close relatives, associate and member, PPCC, Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon, along with his other colleagues from the coveted posts of chairmanship, vice-chairmanship and membership of the Market Committee, Sadiq 15 km from here, without assigning any reason.

The government nominated another team led by Mr Mukhtiar Singh Dhillon and comprising other members reported to be staunch followers of Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC, and former MLA from Faridkot.

Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon and his team was nominated on different posts about eight months back. The former MP, who changed his parliamentary constituency from Faridkot to Ferozepore with the full support of AICC President Mrs Sonia Gandhi due to political compulsions and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha poll held in May last year, was facing the ire of both the state govt and the PPCC in connection with monitoring “anti-party” activities in Punjab.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) of the state Congress expelled him Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar for six years from the party about four months back. However, in view of the decision of the DAC against the party norms later, Mr Hanspal, with the support of the Chief Minister, commended to the central party body for his expulsion from the party.

The matter could not materalise due to close proximity of Mr Brar with the senior central leadership of the party. Under the circumstances, the state government and the PPCC leadership allegedly adopted an aggressive attitude and removed his younger brother, Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, from the chairmanship of the Punjab Energy Development Authority.

Admitting his close relationship with the former MP, Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon, while regretting the “hasty” decision of the state government, recounted a number of development works done by him and other those members for the welfare of the area during short their term.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar refused to make any comments on the latest or other developments. Meanwhile, an impressive function, attended by over 3,000 people of the area, was held at Sadiq village yesterday during the oath-taking ceremony of the new team headed by the old Congress leader, Mr Mukhtiar Singh.

Mr Avtar Singh Brar, who was the chief guest at the function, said the decision would raise the morale of other party workers.


Landlords control SGPC: Dullo
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 3
PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo said today that SGPC had been under the control of landlords in the state and they did not honour the martyrs instead had praise for terrorists.

Mr Dullo, who was talking to reporters at the residence of Punjab Agro Foods Limited Chairman-cum-MLA Joginder Singh Mann here this evening said that notification regarding Municipal Corporation elections would be issued before August 15.

On abolishing octroi in the state he said it would be abolished soon.

On development activities in the state he said all roads in the state would be repaired within four months.

To a query on sending periodic report of ministers’ performance to party high command, Mr Dullo reiterated that the reports on the performance would definitely be sent to AICC President Ms Sonia Gandhi. When told that his statement had not been taken kindly by the Punjab CM, Mr Dullo shot back that like the CM, he, too, as PPCC President, was accountable to party high command, especially Ms Gandhi. He denied differences with the CM. He added bureaucracy should be reined in and Congress party workers should be given respect in offices.

When asked whether elevation of first Dalit to the office of PPCC Presidentship would make any inroads into the base of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mr Dullo retorted that the BSP won’t simply be visible in Punjab. He alleged that the BSP had given up its ideology. Mr Dullo claimed that Dalits would join the Congress. The Congress had gave them their due.


Kapurthala science city to be completed in two years
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab Government’s ambitious project — Pushpa Gujral Science City (PGSC) at Kapurthala — is slated for completion in two years. Some parts of the Science City were opened to the public since March 20 this year, and there has been a good response, especially from the student fraternity to the interactive, informative, educative and entertaining displays at the place.

The PGSC announced the commencement of the second phase of its construction today. At an estimated cost of Rs 30 crore, it will have five highly specialised exhibition galleries, some of them sourced by technical collaborations with Canadian and German science cities. These will be in addition to the existing exhibits and structures already on display.

According to the Director-General of the PGSC, Dr R.S. Khandpur, “The second phase is going to strengthen the scientific part of the science city. The first phase dealt largely with infrastructure facilities.”

World-class attractions will provide special value to the city. The Object Theatre for the Climate Change Show is aimed at educating people about the adverse effects of global warming through simulations where the audience can feel the changes in temperatures and weather patterns. This is considered to be one of the Science City’s most prestigious projects.

The other displays deal with evolution, scientific principles of games through virtual reality, understanding the functioning of the human body in an interactive way, an environment and ecology awareness park and the emerging technologies gallery, which take a look at our lives in the future and how gadgets and science will change how we will live.

In addition, a volcano and earthquake simulation machine is also being added along with a biotechnology gallery and a special behind-the-scenes experience of how the Science City innovatively deals with its waste stream, including teaching children about concepts like rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and recycling of solid waste all in an interactive way.

The State Energy Park being developed in collaboration with PEDA (Punjab Energy Development Agency) and financial assistance from the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources is also nearing completion. The park will have informative exhibits on solar energy, bioenergy, hydel power and wind energy and the building housing these exhibits will also be powered by these sources. A solar-powered restaurant is also on the anvil.

Balancing questions regarding the price of the tickets, Dr Khandpur said that in all probability, the cost of the tickets would remain the same even after the new attractions were opened to the public. “The attempt is to gain financial self-sufficiency once the park is completed, with the income generated by it hence the tickets are priced keeping in mind, maintenance, overhead costs, addition of new attractions and overhauling of old exhibits.” He also stressed on the fact that absolutely no one had been allowed in free so far!

This disabled-friendly Science City has caught the imagination of the young and old alike because it allows people to have fun while learning scientific concepts. Dr Khanpur said the project has been specifically created “to nurture curiosity of young minds towards a rapidly developing technologically advancing world”.


Mid-day meals at anganwaris to be more nutritious
Poonam Batth

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab Government has prohibited the supply of “mini-meals” from outside to anganwaris, following reports that sub-standard stuff was being distributed in these institutes. Now, the nutritious meal at the anganwaris will be supplied by its own organisations like the FCI, Milkfed and Sugarfed.

The decision in this regard was taken just over a fortnight after the issue of “rotten’’ eatables being supplied to anganwaris at Bathinda came to light.

In an attempt to ensure against the supply of “rotten” stuff to these institutions, the government has now asked these organisations to supply the mid-day meal to the institutions under its “Integrated Child Development Service Scheme”.

The meal is made available to children up to six years, besides pregnant women and adolescent girls at these anganwaris in the form of `panjiri’, `dalia’ and kheer.

But of late, surveys by the media and other agencies had revealed that the ready-to-eat food stuff being supplied by the private contractors from Rajasthan and neighbouring areas was sub-standard.

As per the new arrangement, “panjiri’ and wholesale milk powder (WMP) will be made available by Milkfed, foodgrains like wheat and rice by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and sugar by Sugarfed.

The government has also directed the organisations concerned to get the products certified by the Nutrition Board of India before distribution at these centres. Each beneficiary is to be given approximately 300 calories a day.

The Managing Director of Milkfed, Mr Vikas Pratap said they had already received orders for supplying 3,500 metric tonnes of `panjiri’ and 1,100 metric tonnes of WMP to the anganwaris in all 18 districts of the state for a year.

He added that the “panjiri’’ had been specially prepared as per the recipe given by the Department of Social Security, Child and Women Development, at the mechanised unit set up specially at the Milk Plant, Jalandhar.

The product, he claimed, was of a superior quality as the ingredients used were in-house and had proper packing to ensure safe transportation of the same. Priced at Rs 38 per kg, it can be stored for at least 90 days. Set up at a cost of Rs 15 lakh, the automated plant at present has a production capacity of 3.5 metric tonnes per shift. It also has proper storage and packing facilities available.

The wholesale milk, which contains 26 per cent fat, will be supplied in 10 kg tin packs to these centres and will be used to make available liquid diets like dalia, porridge and kheer etc. To begin with, supplies have been despatched to Nawanshahr and Muktsar districts and orders of other districts were in the pipeline.

Similarly, orders have been placed for sugar to Sugarfed and better quality wheat and rice properly certified to the FCI for the whole year.

A senior official of the Social Security, Child and Women Development said they were catering to the nutrition requirements of 14,730 anganwaris in the state under the centrally sponsored scheme. The work of procurement and distribution of the same has been left to the Zila Parishads, Block and Panchayat Samitis, who also appoint the supervisors and workers at these centres.


Dullo for lifting ban on buying land in HP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 3
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has said he will seek the intervention of the Central Government to bring uniformity of rules in different states, paving the way for lifting ban on the purchase of agricultural land in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and J&K by the outsiders.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Dullo said it was unfortunate that Punjabis could not purchase agricultural land in these states. He, however, alleged that the boundaries of Punjab were reduced due to vested interests of the Akali Dal. He said most of the inter-state problems arose with the disintegration of “Maha Punjab”.

Mr Dullo said he would shortly meet his Haryana counterpart for finding amicable solution to all pending issues.

Mr Dullo said the SGPC and the SAD were giving step-motherly treatment to the Dalits.

He said the Dalits were always on the forefront and made supreme sacrifices since the time of Sikh Gurus.

However, the Sikh clergy adopted different measures for the Dalits and upper castes. He alleged that heavy dose of “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) for more than 50 days was given to Mr Buta Singh (now Governor Bihar), while Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, was absolved of all charges. He said though he had never expected siropa (robe of honour) when he had visited Harmander Sahib, he would take discrimination against the Dalits to the masses.

Mr Parminder Singh, General Secretary, PPCC, who also accompanied Mr Dullo, said the organisational set up of the party would be strengthened in the coming days.


Police dubbed innocent as robbers: parents
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 3
Close on the heels of facing the charge of dubbing an innocent man a human bomb, parents of some of the robbers arrested last week today accused the police of falsely implicating their sons.

Six out of 11 gang members arrested by the police belonged to Wadia, while four hailed from Bhuleria village.

The police claimed to have recovered a huge cache of arms, police uniforms and I-cards from their possession.

A former sarpanch of Wadia village, Mr Darbara Singh, told that the liquor had been stolen from a liquor vend located at Lundewala village a few months back. He said the police used to round up youths from their villages and leave them after interrogation. He said the Kotbhai police had called Gurpreet Singh, alias Ladu, and Satnam Singh, alias Satta, to the police station in this connection sometime back.

He said the parents of these youths were stunned to see their sons’ photographs along with those of four other youths from the village, published in various newspapers as those of members of a gang of robbers. Gurpreet’s uncle Surjeet Singh told that he used to work as a TV mechanic in the village and he had a tiff with Nishan Singh who was nursing a grudge against him. He said when Nishan was arrested he named Gurpreet as one of the gang members to in order settle scores with him.

Similarly, Satnam’s wife Amarjit Kaur said he used to work as a daily wager. She said once in lieu of work Nishan Singh gave him a bottle of liquor that turned out to be from the stolen stock of the liquor vend. She alleged that the police dubbed her husband him a robber after that incident. She said a day before he was termed a “robber” the Kotbhai police had called him and he had not returned ever since.

In Bhuleria village, 80-year-old Juginder Singh, whose son Sukha Singh alias Tony has also been arrested, said they had a dispute with their neighbour Harbans Singh and had filed a plea in this connection at Malout police station. Harbans’ son Dilbagh Singh alias, Mota, used to threaten them, he alleged.

He said the Malout police had called Tony about 14 days back with regard to this case and after that they saw his photograph along with those of the members of a robbers’ gang. He alleged that Mota, who had also been arrested, had deliberately implicated Tony in the case.


Auction of prime land fetches Rs 78.50 crore
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, August 3
Today everyone was surprised when a piece of prime commercial land, measuring 10,000 square yards, fetched Rs 78.50 crore during an auction, conducted by the local municipal corporation, thereby creating a history of sorts in the land price in the region. The huge amount will help the municipal corporation, which is in the red, to undertake developmental activities

The rate of Rs 78,500 per yard is mind-boggling and is being considered as an index of potential and growth of the holy city.

The city has emerged as a major tourist destinations with the launching of many international flights, apart from opening of trade with Pakistan through the Wagah land route.

Mr Sunil Dutti and Mr K.S. Kang, Mayor and Commissioner, respectively , said that now they would be able to pay the old liabilities and could start the work of building infrastructure required to make it a world class city.

This is for the first time that such a big plot was auctioned in one go with as many as 22 bidders taking part. The successful bidder was RSA Properties and Builders, New Delhi whose highest bid of Rs 78, 500 square yards clinched the deal with fall of hammer. The names of the large bidders who participated in the ‘historic auction’ included DLF, Omaxe , Zee TV , India TV and Software Bottlers.. The reserve price per square yard was fixed as Rs 20,000 but the bid went up by almost four times.

The site would be used for raising a multiplex. This site is opposite the historic Ram Bagh, the summer palace of legendry Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which is a protected area.

With the Mall Road being converted into an commercial area , traffic is likely to increase manifolds with little provision for organized vehicular parking . The residents of the Mall have been crying hoarse with the establishment of commercial complexes. They say that the Mall in the adjoining Lahore has been preserved in its original shape while Amritsar’s Mall had lost its pristine glory. More than 40 properties owners on The Mall have already applied for commercial change of land use . With the absence of master plan of the city, mushrooming of commercial sites had already eroded the glory of the holy city.


PNB cashier surrenders
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 3
Krishan Kumar, cashier of Punjab National Bank, Binjon, who was booked by the Mahilpur police on a complaint of the manager of the branch on the charge of misappropriating money from various accounts of customers, surrendered before the police, according to Mr Chand Singh, Senior Regional Manager of Punjab National Bank, here today.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Chand Singh said that scrutiny of half of the bank accounts of the said branch had been done so far. It was found that about Rs 50 lakh had been withdrawn from various accounts of customers by the said cashier. Scrutiny of the remaining accounts would be completed as early as possible.

As many as 97 claims of account holders had been received so far, of which seven had been settled and payment of Rs 4.80 lakh had been made to them. The process for finalising the other claims was in progress which would be completed very shortly and thereafter payments would be made to all the claimants.

Mr Chand Singh appealed to all the account holders of the branch to get their passbooks tallied with the bank’s ledger to ensure the correctness of their balance amount.


PPS officers decry Home Dept’s statement on seniority
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
The Punjab Police Service Welfare Association today termed the statement by the state Home Department regarding PPS officers’ seniority against facts and misleading.

The Home Department, in a statement, issued to a section of the press, had claimed that the list of PPS officers for their promotion to IPS cadre was finalised after taking laid down norms into account. It had said seniority list was revised and was based on the order of the Supreme Court.

In a statement, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP City, and president of the association, claimed that no court of law had ordered to review the seniority list of DSPs. He said promotee officers approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) as their case for promotion to IPS was being delayed even after the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order to the government to complete the promotion process. Instead of complying with the order of the CAT, the Home Department started reviewing the seniority list to punish those who had approached the CAT, he alleged.

Mr Gill said that the apex court never ordered to give seniority to the person when he was not even in the service. The association alleged that the committee was formed to delay the matter instead of complying with court’s order. It said the committee circulated a tentative seniority list of the officers promoted between 1989 and 1998. All promotee officers were shown at the eighth place. It alleged that the recommendations of the committee were biased and against facts to benefit direct recruits under political pressure.

The president alleged the judgment of the Supreme Court was being misinterpreted to help direct appointees. The judgment passed in 1979 was being wrongly implemented from 1989 with orders passed in 2005 to spoil careers of a group of promotee officers.

The PPSW association urged the Home Department to reconsider the wrong done to the promotee officers who lost family members while fighting militancy in Punjab.


DC denies move to revive shooting range
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
While some shooting enthusiasts are reportedly making a bid to revive shooting range near Deer Park here, the People For Animals (PFA) has come out against it stating that it would disturb the ecological balance of the area. However, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, has denied any plan to revive shooting range.

Sources said the shooting range located in Bir Talab area had come up in late 1970s, but was closed within a year. Sources said the Irrigation Department had transferred 236 acres of land, which was a pond area, to the Forest Department in the 70s. According to sources, memo no. 10978-IW(2)-72/10420, dated May 23, 1973, from the Commissioner of Public Works to the Chief Engineer, Irrigation Works, stated that the Irrigation Department would retain 120 acres of land for pond area, while 236 acres of land, which had already been given to the Forest Department, will remain with them. Later, a letter (No. 14442-IW(2)-73/28099) dated November 26, 1973, from the Commissioner for Public Works again to the Chief Engineer, Irrigation Works, stated that the figures and words ‘236 acres of land’ appearing in the second line of the earlier memo be replaced with ‘161 acres of land’. Sources said currently only 161 acres are under the possession of the Forest Department as per the land records.

Mr Shekhar Garg of the PFA said the shooting range had been constructed on plot No 34 of compartment no 5, which fell within these 161 acres of forestland. He said the shooting range was abandoned after the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, came into being, as according to the Act, no forest land can be put to use for any non-forest purpose without the prior consent of the Central Government.

He said the Bir Talab area fell under the classification of second class forests as per the provisions of the then Patiala Forest Act. He said as the shooting range was a non-forest activity, it could not be raised within a forest. He said the Bir Talab forest housed a Deer Park in which black bucks, cheetals, sambars, and various bird species were kept. Having a shooting range in the area was in contravention to the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, he added. The PFA has also written to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and animal rights activist, Maneka Gandhi.

This Tribune reporter on his visit to shooting range today found it was in a bad shape. Weeds had been uprooted and the entire range was cleaned up prior to the Deputy Commissioner’s probable visit. The shooting range is located hardly 300 metres from deer park and any such activity is likely to scare the animals and birds kept there.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said some people told him that there was a shooting range at the Bir Talab area so he just ordered to clean it up “only to see what exactly was there”. He said if anything needed to be done in this regard it would be done legally.


Former BSF jawan seeks cash assistance
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 3
A Border Security Force (BSF) jawan, who had been decorated for showing exemplary courage during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking directions to the respondents, including the Punjab Government, to give monthly financial grant given in such cases.

The petitioner, Mr Dayal Singh, who was mentioned-in-dispatches for his brave act in successfully completing the dangerous task of collecting important information vital to war, planning from deep inside the enemy territory, hails from a village in Amritsar district. His act of bravery earned him a mention in dispatches in May, 1974.

This entitled him to get some financial assistance from the Punjab Government, but despite passing of so many years and endless efforts, the same was not provided to him. His efforts also received a setback due to the lackadaisical attitude of the BSF Headquarters, which said it did not have record pertaining to his case.

Taking up the petition, the Division Bench of Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Virender Singh issued notices to the Union Home Secretary, Defence Secretary, Director General, BSF, Principal Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, Punjab, and Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, for September 9.

They have been directed to file replies to the petition.


Mill workers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 3
Workers of the Kharar Textile Mill staged a protest outside the factory here today in support of their demands.

They complained that the management wanted to close the unit on the pretext that the factory was running in losses. But this was not true.

Mr Dinesh Prasad, president of the employees union, demanded that the wages of the workers should be raised as these were low.

He said the employees who were retrenched by the management should be taken back on work. The VRS facility should be given only to those employees who were interested in it.

He demanded that the Central Government should help the unit in providing raw material so that the factory could run in a proper way.


Plan to preserve Ram Tirath Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 3
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) will evolve a plan to preserve the ancient Ram Tirath Temple.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President, PPCC, said here today that he would shortly meet the Prime Minister for releasing funds for the overall beautification of the temple. He said the temple, having great religious tourist potential, remained ignored for the past many years.

Mr Dullo said he would made sincere and earnest efforts to bring about the amicable settlement among warring factions who are presently claiming to have the right to manage the affairs of the temple.


Ranu elected to Central Council of Homoeopathy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu was elected for the lone seat from Punjab to the Central Council of Homoeopathy. The council is under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The result of the election was declared in the office of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, by Dr A.S. Thind, returning officer.

Giving this information here today, Dr Ranu said 11 candidates had filed their nominations and only two were found to be valid. The nomination papers of Dr Tejinder Pal Singh, Director, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Homoeopathic Medical College, Ludhiana, and the Dean of homoeopathic faculty, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, were rejected on technical ground.

A petition challenging the decision of the returning officer, filed by Dr Tejinder Pal Singh before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was also dismissed on July 29.


Protest against water shortage
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 3
Upset over an acute shortage of drinking water, residents of Thathiaran Mohalla, near Sandoora Mandir Chowk, yesterday protested against the erratic water supply in the area for the past three months.

Residents raised slogans against the Nagar Council authorities and sat in dharna, demanding steps to end the drinking water and power crises. Residents alleged that all their pleas to the civic authorities had fallen on deaf ears.

Eventually Mr Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, along with the Nagar Council President, Mr Malkiat Singh, had to intervene to save the situation from taking an ugly turn. The dharna was lifted after the SDM assured them that their problems would be sorted out within the next 24 hours.


Taxi owner goes missing
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 3
A taxi owner of Mohalla Rampura, Phagwara, has been missing since July 21 at New Delhi. A son of NRI Chain Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Gurdarshan Singh, owned a taxi, Scorpio, and a driver plied it at Amrit Tour and Travels at Asif Ali Road, New Delhi.

Family members told newsmen yesterday that Gurdarshan Singh left for Delhi on July 18. He kept phoning home as usual but after July 21 noon no telephone call came. His father, Mr Chain Singh, on learning about the mysterious disappearance of his son, came here from abroad.

The family members rushed to Delhi in search of Gurdarshan Singh.


DC warns nursing homes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 3
Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, today called a meeting of owners of ultrasound centres and nursing homes in the district and warned them against sex determination tests.

She made it crystal clear that anyone found violating law on the issue would be brought to book.

Addressing the meeting, Mr H.P.S. Sandhu, Civil Surgeon, assured the Deputy Commissioner that the Health Department would conduct regular checking of the nursing homes.


BJP activists meet MC Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 3
After giving a hearing to the residents’ complaints pertaining to civic problems for the last few days, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists held a meeting with the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, demanding quick action by its employees.

At a meeting with the Commissioner, Mr Chander Shekhar Talwar, the local BJP member said that the residents were disturbed due to water shortage and sewage problems.


Langah’s plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 3
The Special Court Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, today dismissed an application moved by former PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah for dropping of corruption charges against him. He had moved the application in a case of possessing assets beyond known sources of income registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.


2,600 kg confiscated desi ghee found to be adulterated
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 3
The 2,600 kg Nova desi ghee confiscated by the Department of Food and Civil Supplies from M/s J.B. Manga Ram and Sons, a Pathankot-based wholesale dealer, has been found to be adulterated. Even the ghee samples have been found to be unfit for human consumption.

The Civil Surgeon, Gurdaspur, Mr Niranjan Singh Suman, said the test reports of the ghee were received recently from testing laboratories in Chandigarh. The exact nature of the product being sold as desi ghee has not been indicated in the report. The report would be forwarded to the police and Food and Civil Supplies Department for further action.

The racket of the fake ghee was busted due to rift among traders. A wholesale dealer of Nova ghee in Pathankot had complained to the Food and Civil Supplies Department that some traders were selling fake ghee in the market. The dealer alleged that the desi ghee cost him Rs 130 per kg at wholesale price, but some agents were selling the same product at less than Rs 100 per kg.

On his complaint, the department confiscated 2,600 kg ghee from godowns at Pathankot and Sarna. A complaint was registered at the Pathankot police station.

Meanwhile, a letter written by the District Food and Civil Supplies Controller to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, has pointed out that about 200 boxes of the confiscated ghee that were in police custody were returned to traders.


6-year-old boy kidnapped; police clueless
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 3
A six-year-old son of a physically handicapped STD/PCO operator was abducted for ransom from Vinoba Basti, Sriganganagar, 40 km from here, late last night.

Police and family sources said Prinjal son of Mr Deepak Kapoor was playing under a sodium vapour light in the street near his Vinoba Basti house at 9 pm. A motor cycle stopped there and the rider asked children about the location of a house owned by Rajesh. As one of the children was pointing towards the house, the pillion rider got down and forcibly got hold of Prinjal. The youths, one of whom had a small beard, sped away after the abduction.

The children rushed to inform the Kapoor family. Mr Kapoor was yet to return home from his Sukhadia circle STD booth. Some residents of the locality chased the abductors on two wheelers but could not locate the motor cycle. The family received a telephone call at 9.30 p.m. threatening them to pay Rs 5 lakh to save Prinjal’s life.

Prinjal talked to his family on the phone. He appeared to be frightened. Prinjal’s grandfather Mr Santosh Kapoor, had recently retired from the Income Tax department. Additional SP Luxman Gaur waited for the second call from the abductors till 12 am but left afterwards.

Panic-stricken residents were seen sitting in the street till 2 am as the police repeatedly visited the area. It questioned the operator of the Gaushala road STD/PCO from where the abductors made a telephone call to Kapoor family last night.

Political activists have been expressing concern over the deteriorating law and order situation.


Gang of mobile phone thieves busted, three held
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 3
The District Police Chief of Batala, Dr Jatindra Kumar Jain, told mediapersons here today that the local CIA staff led by Sub-Inspector Harjinder Singh arrested three persons, Amrik Singh, Deepak and Saravjit Kaur and recovered 18 mobile phones, one inverter, one STD meter, seven ATM cards, six wrist watches and some women’s purses. The gang comprised seven persons out of which four, namely Amarjit Singh, Samuel, alias Johny, Paramjit Kaur and Kuldeep Kaur managed to escape.

All of them were members of a mobile thieves gang. Their modus operandi was to visit mobile phone shops on the pretext of purchasing cellphones. Afterwards, they would carry out thefts at these shops.

Dr Jain further said that Amrik Singh told the police party that last night he along with Paramjit Kaur and Kuldeep Kaur broke open the locks of a Spice showroom, Ganpati Telecom, at Smadh Road, Batala, and stole mobile phones and other accessories. A case has been registered at the city police station.


Inter-state gang of truck thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 3
The Phagwara city police today busted an inter-state gang of truck-lifters by arresting two brothers and recovering from them three trucks stolen by the duo from New Delhi. A few forged documents were also recovered from them.

Sources said that the arrested gangsters included Hardip Singh and Rajwinder Singh of Jagatpura village under Jhabal police station of Amritsar district. The arrest was made under Sections 379,411,467,468,471, and 120-B of the IPC. The gangsters used to steal vehicles, forge their Registration Certificates, and signatures of officials concerned and sell the vehicles at cheap rates.


Looter arrested, Rs 1 lakh recovered
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 3
The district police has nabbed a driver of a businessman who had allegedly absconded with Rs 1.3 lakhs.

On Saturday last, Avtar Singh, alias Manga, of Batala, who had been working as a driver of Mr Prabhjot Singh Bedi, had reportedly fled with the latter’s cash while the latter had stopped his car for some piece of work near Kapurthala Chowk. A case was registered under Section 381 of the IPC. The police again conducted a raid this morning on his house and arrested Manga with Rs 1 lakh. 


Project on Guru Granth Sahib okayed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
Punjabi University, Patiala, has approved a project named `Recitation of selected shabads from Guru Granth Sahib in English’ with the aim of linking the new generation with Gurbani around the world. The project has been assigned to the Gurmat Sangeet Department of the university.

According to a press note, the project would help “globalising the divine messages enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib and to spread these among those who do not understand Gurmukhi.”

Dr Gurnam Singh, Head, Gurmeet Sangeet Department, said that the musicological aspects of Gurbani would be kept in mind while reciting shabads under the new project.


Quiz contests on August 22
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The Languages Department, Punjab, will conduct quiz competitions on children’s literature on August 22 at 10 a.m. at all district headquarters of the department and Punjabi Cell, Mini Secretariat, Sector 9, Chandigarh, according to information given by the Deputy Director (Publicity).

The competitions would be held in three categories. Category A would have competitors till Class VIII, category B would have students from ninth to classes IX to XIII, while category C would have competitors from BA, BSc and B.Com.

Questions would be related to Punjab’s languages, literature, religions, culture, history, geography and personalities.

The competition would be in the written form at the district level. An institution could send only two students for the competition, according to Mr Mohan Ram Banga, Additional Director. The last date of entries is August 10.


Stone laid for girls hostel
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 3
Mr H.R. Gandhar, Director (Schools), DAV Managing Committee, New Delhi, laid the foundation of a hostel for girls at DAV College here yesterday. Mr Gandhar, who had served as a lecturer in the college for more than two decades and as Principal for 13 years also, was received by the Principal, Dr B.C. Josan, members of the teaching and non-teaching staff and senior students.

Dr Josan said girls had responded well to postgraduate courses beginning in three science subjects from this session. The hostel construction was likely to be completed within next two months, he said.


Notify Majithia panel report, say parents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The parents of students doing professional courses in various private medical, dental, nursing, homoeopathic and ayurvedic colleges yesterday urged the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, to get the recommendations of the Majithia Committee notified at the earliest.

A deputation of the parents, who had come from various parts of the state, met Mrs Bhattal at her residence and submitted a representation to her in this connection. Earlier, they had submitted similar representations at the Chief Minister’s office and to the Secretary, Medical Education and Research.


Varsity gets grant
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The Punjab Government released a grant of Rs 5.72 crore to Punjabi yesterday. The release of the grant was due for the past two years.

According to a press note, with this amount the university will be able to maintain the pace of its development activities on the campus and regional centres.

Residents of Rampura village have offered 30 acres to the university to establish a centre for job-oriented courses for girls, according to the note.


Railways to invite tenders in Ferozepore division
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 3
The Railway authorities have decided to invite fresh tenders from the vendors at the railway platforms in the Ferozepore Railway Division as most of the vendors have not paid their dues, as per sources.

The Railways had evicted number of vendors from the stations after they failed to pay rent as per the Supreme Court verdict.

The apex court has ruled that vendors at the railway stations pay enhanced rent at the rate of 12 per cent 1999 onwards in place of 3 per cent earlier. At least 2000 of vendors were affected.

The Vendors Cooperative Society Sale and Supply Union, which includes vendors from Ludhiana, Phagwara, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Ferozepore, Patiala and part of Jammu and Kashmir, said that members do not have money to pay that much amount”.

According to highly-placed sources, the step to call for fresh tenders is being taken keeping in view the inconvenience to commuters.

“Around Rs 4 crore is pending towards them, of which only a few lakhs has been deposited.

Those who have deposited the amount would be allowed to continue, but others just don’t have that option,” said Mr R.K. Suman, Station Superintendent, quoting Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Ferozepore Division.

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