P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Statewide protests against ATR
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, August 10
Family members of the victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984 staged a protest march and burnt the effigy of the Congress party here today for failing to give justice to them. The protest was held under the aegis of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Joginder Kaur, who lost her husband Thakur Singh and son Rashpal Singh in the pogrom that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi at district Mirzapur (UP), said they would only get justice when senior Congress leaders named in the Nanavati Commission’s report were brought to book.

Mr Baldev Singh Sirsa, Working Committee member of the SAD (A), said the SAD and the NDA were playing politics over the Nanavati Commission’s report.

He said it was shameful that even after 21 years the victims were not given justice. The protesters were raising slogans against Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of AICC, and other Congress leaders, including Mr Jagdish Tytler, Mr H.K.L Bhagat.

Various Sikh organisations here and abroad condemned the Nanavati Commission’s Report.

The secretary general of the US-based World Sikh Council, Mr Tarunjit Singh, said the report had “effectively exonerated” the political leaders alleged to have organised killings.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha International headed by Baldev Singh accused the Nanavati Commission of cracking a cruel joke on the Sikhs. He charged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with playing with Sikh sentiments. The Dal Khalsa termed the report as mere eyewash.

SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur today condemned the ‘baton charge’ on victims and families of anti-Sikh riots, who were protesting against the Nanavati commission’s report in the Capital.

In a statement released here, she said the protesters who were shocked by the recent report of the Nanavati Commission, besides having lost their loved ones in the riots, should have been handled more sympathetically. She said the Congress stance was clear towards the Sikhs from the ‘baton charge’ and the sheltering of the guilty.

SANGRUR: A large number of activists and members of the SAD on Wednesday staged a protest dharna and held a rally near the office of the Deputy Commissioner here against the Central Government for allegedly giving a clean chit to those held responsible for the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 by the Nanavati Commission.

The protesters also went to the DC office in procession and held a demonstration there, demanding the implementation of the Nanavati Commission’s report” and punishment to all those responsible for the riots. The protesters also burnt the effigy of the Central Government.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, both MLAs Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, district president of the SAD and Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, a member of executive committee of the SGPC.

HOSHIARPUR: SAD workers led by Mr Surinder Singh Bhulewal Rathan, district president of the party, Mr Balbir Singh Miani and Mr Des Raj Dhugga, both MLAs, and Mr Jatinder Singh Lali Bajwa, district president of the youth wing of the SAD, staged a dharna and blocked vehicular traffic for about two hours at the local Prabhat Chowk on Wednesday. They raised slogans against the Congress, the Delhi Police, Mr Jagdish Tytler, Mr Sajjan Kumar and Mr H.K.L. Bhagat. They described Nanavati Commission’s report as a bundle of lies.

Speaking on the occasion all leaders condemned the role of Congress leaders in the massacre of innocent Sikhs. They demanded that the guilty persons be brought to book.

KAPURTHALA: SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur said on Wednesday that the SAD would hold meetings on August 14 and 15 in Chandigarh to discuss the fallout of the Nanavati Commission’s report and the action taken report.

Bibi Jagir Kaur was here to lead a protest march of the local SAD leaders and activists.

GURDASPUR: SAD workers organised a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office against the action taken report of the Union Government on Nanavati panel’s report. The SAD workers led by district party president and former minister Sucha Singh Langah, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, both former ministers, held a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Mr Langah said the action taken report had exposed the true intentions of the Congress.

PHAGWARA: Commenting upon Dr Manmohan Singh’s speech in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that no action could be taken against anybody merely on the basis of doubt expressed in the Nanavati Commission’s report, SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur said the Prime Minister’s statement had disillusioned Sikhs, who had thought that they would get justice at least from a Sikh Prime Minister.

The intervention of Prime Minister on an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha today had added insult to the injury of the festering wounds of the Sikhs, rued Mr Bhaur. He said if no action could be taken against Congress leaders on the basis of high probability of their involvement stated in the Nanavati panel’s report, then why Kehar Singh was hanged to death for Indira’s assassination just on the basis of doubt.


Badal demands action

Kharar, August 10
It is the moral duty of the Prime Minister to ensure action against persons allegedly responsible for the 1984 Delhi anti-Sikh riots. And if the Prime Minister is not capable of doing so he should give his resignation.

This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of SAD, while talking to mediapersons here today. He allegedly that the government at the Centre was making efforts to save Congress leaders who were named by the Nanavati Commission for their role in the Delhi riots.

He said that the SAD was considered to be a communal-minded party by others even when it was the most secular party which had played a vital role in the freedom struggle. The party had also been fighting for the interests of Punjab and for issues related to humanity.

He said every section of the society was fed up of the wrong policies of the government. No stress was being laid on education and even the health facilities were not being provided to the people. The Congress government which had promised to rout out corruption was itself allegedly involved in it. The position of law and order was also quite bad in the state, he added.

Mr Badal said that the administrative set-up in the country was such that the states did not have adequate powers. As such they had to depend on the Centre for help. The Central government had allegedly always indulged in discrimination as far as Punjab was concerned. Many incentives were being given to industry, but only in the neighbouring states which had adversely affected industry in Punjab. TNS


SAD stages dharna

Fatehgarh Sahib: The district unit of the SAD (B) on Wednesday organised a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office against the action taken report.

Hundreds of party activists led by Jathedar Swarn Singh Chanarthal, district president of the party, started protest march from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and marched towards the DC's office. They raised slogans against the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister and the Nanavati Commission.

Several party leaders, including Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, Mr R.S. Cheema and Mr Devinder Singh Bhappu, addressed the gathering. The leaders demanded that strict action should be taken against the Congress leaders responsible for the 1984 riots.

Meanwhile, Bhai Ranjit Singh, former jathedar of Akal Takht, while talking to The Tribune here today, lashed out at Mr Badal and said by organising dharnas he was just befooling the Sikh community.

He said Mr Badal was in power for more than seven years during the BJP government, but he did nothing for the community. He also criticised the Nanavati report and said the Congress had saved its leaders.

Angry voices

Mohali: Angry voices continued to pour in from various Sikh organisations and political leaders in the township demanding justice for victimis of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The Youth Akali Dal Punjab Spokesperson, Mr Harsukhinder Singh Bubby Badal, said today that by allowing Jagdish Tytler to get away with resignation would be too mild a punishment. “About 3,000 lives were lost thus those responsible should be hanged. This is the test of the Indian judicial system and all right-minded citizens should demand action against the guilty,” he said adding that efforts would have to be made for poverty-stricken widows and children.

Members of the Sikh Danga Pirat Parivar Society demanded that the President of India should accept the resignation of Union Minister Jagdish Tytler and book him for instigating riots in New Delhi in 1984. According to Mr Harpal Singh, General Secretary of the society, Sajjan Kumar should also be booked on similar grounds.

Meanwhile, members of the 1984 Sikh Massacre-Affected Welfare Society, Punjab, today demanded justice for those massacred as a part of an organised and pre -planned operation. Mr Sukhvinder Singh, president of the society, said Sikhs had been denied justice even 21 years after the riots by the government.

The World Sikh Intellectual Council meeting was held at Chandigarh today under the chairmanship of Mr Baldev Singh Baklluana. It was unanimously resolved that the commission had not done justice to the aggrieved persons and the guilty had been left untouched.

Effigies burnt

Patiala: SAD workers today burnt effigies of Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar — whose role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been indicated by Justice Nanavati in his report tabled in Parliament recently.

Thousands of Akali workers, led by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, held a demonstration in front of the mini Secretariat complex here today morning.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh urged the Central government to register criminal cases against both Mr Tytler and Mr Sajjan Kumar. The government should either sack Mr Tytler or asked to submit his resignation.

He added that the Prime Minister, despite being a Sikh, had failed to protect the rights of the community and asked the PM to resign. He said that by exonerating the tainted ministers the Central government had rubbed salt on the wounds of the Sikh community. 


Dullo sidesteps queries on Nanavati report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
Visibly taken aback at the flurry of questions from mediapersons on the Nanavati Commission report, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today sidestepped the issue, saying that the Punjab unit of the party had left it to the Centre to answer questions on the findings of the panel and also the government’s Action Taken Report.

He was speaking at his first meet-the-Press programme since he took over about a month ago.

Mr Dullo, said the Centre would take whatever legal action was necessary against the guilty persons. He said the Congress as such could not be held responsible for the anti-Sikh violence. “Individuals can be held responsible, but not the party,” he said parrying comments on the report of the commission and the ATR which sparked protests by Opposition parties and Sikhs.

Mr Dullo said “ riots are always unfortunate whether in Gujarat or Delhi. We have always condemned the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.”

To persistent demands for his comments on the report, Mr Dullo said he had sought a copy of the full report and would be able to comment only after reading it. Asked if the Nanavati panel report would have any effect on the Assembly elections due in the state after 17 months, he said,: “ Time will only answer this question.”

He said the Punjab unit of the Congress would contest the 2007 elections to the state Assembly on the issue of development. Corruption, which was made an issue by the party in the 2002 poll, could only be reduced and not eliminated. “Besides the government, society, including politicians, have to decide not to indulge in corruption,” he said.

He also declined comments on allegations of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that members of the family of his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had amassed assets worth Rs 3,500 crore whereas the charge sheet presented in a Ropar court in the disproportionate assets case detailed properties worth only Rs 78 crore.

Mr Dullo said he was against any attempts to privatise the education and health sectors in the state. He said all vacancies in these sectors would be filled. When asked how the Mayor of Jalandhar and a government official went on a foreign trip without seeking official sanction, Mr Dullo said it was their private visit.


PMET: GND University VC had sought counsel’s ouster
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
Peeved at the stand taken by counsel for Baba Farid University, Faridkot, during hearing of a petition filed by Saumil Garg and other candidates seeking quashing of the result of the second examination of PMET-2005 conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, its Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, had sought the ouster of Baba Farid varsity counsel.

In a communication to the Health and Medical Education Department of the Punjab Government, Dr S.P. Singh referred to the utterances of advocate Anupam Gupta during hearing of the case and requested that either Baba Farid University be asked to change its lawyer or counsel be directed to support the stand of the Guru Nanak Dev University.

During one of hearings, Mr Gupta had informed the Bench that he had consulted the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, as also four leading experts in the subjects of botany and zoology. The experts were “appalled” with a majority out of 21 questions whose answers were alleged to be wrong or ambiguous by the petitioners. The same experts were also critical of the standard of question paper setting and usage of a “kunji” (guidebook) for the same.

The advocate had also informed the Bench that the PU VC had offered to study the entire question paper and the answer code keys and submit a detailed report about the same.

On its part, Guru Nanak Dev University had claimed in a sworn affidavit that its experts had re-checked the controversial questions and their answers and had found nothing wrong with them.

However, as it has turned out now, Guru Nanak University’s claim that its experts did not find anything wrong with the questions and their answers did not have the backing of all the experts, with some of them even claiming that they were not consulted at all.

Incidentally, during last hearing in the case, Mr Gupta, while commending the CBSE for doing a fine job of revaluating the controversial questions and their answers, pleaded that the entire question paper be again revaluated.

He also informed the court about the letter written by Dr S.P. Singh, adding that it was a minor pinprick.


PMET: varsity ‘shielding’ actual culprits
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, August 10
A tiff reportedly took place between the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S. P. Singh and eight experts, appointed by the university for evaluating the answer sheets of the pre-medical entrance test (PMET), here late yesterday evening.

The experts blamed the university authorities for making them “scapegoats” in the ongoing controversy regarding re-evaluating the answer sheets. They charged the university of shielding the actual culprits, who were the paper setters for the examination. They said they were being blacklisted for no fault of theirs.

According to sources, the university authorities were planning to move the apex court over the High Court’s order to re-evaluate the answer sheets and the results of the PMET-2005. However, this is likely to prove a setback as the experts expressed their resentment to Dr. S. P. Singh over the filing of the alleged ‘fake’ affidavit.

Meanwhile, the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) is up in arms against university authorities regarding the filing of the alleged fake affidavit containing declarations on behalf of the experts.

Though the experts remained tight lipped and avoided giving a direct statement to the media, Dr Devinder Singh, president of the association, while talking to The Tribune said although he had got a number of calls from the experts in this regard, they had not approached the association as yet.

However, he added that if the teachers would not approach them, the association could take the matter at its own level as the issue was related to whole teaching community.

He said the decision would be taken tomorrow.


PMET: criminal case against VC demanded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Association of Parents of the PMET candidates has urged the Punjab Government to register a criminal case against the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University in the light of a statement given by certain experts of the university.

The experts had reportedly stated yesterday that the university authorities misled the Punjab and Haryana High Court by submitting a wrong affidavit. They say that “facts” attributed to them in the affidavit were not stated by them at any stage.

Seeking a CBI inquiry into the PMET scandal, parents here today urged the state government to immediately seal the answersheets of the students. These answersheets should be kept in safe custody till their revaluation was done by the authorities concerned as per the direction given by the high court.

The parents have the apprehension that the university, which can go to the extent of submitting a false affidavit as has been alleged by its own experts, can also play any mischief with the answersheets at any stage. “As the conduct of the university authorities concerned has become suspect in the eyes of all concerned, the state government should take steps to ensure that no further mischief takes place at the university level,” said parents.

The parents expressed surprise over the “stunning silence” maintained by the Punjab Government on the issue. The state government authorities had become silent spectators to the entire issue. “The parents have been fighting to get justice on behalf of their wards but the government does not seem to be in a mood to take any action in this connection yet,” they added. “So much has happened on the PMET front in the past two months and the government has just been maintaining silence,” the parents added.

They said this scandal had deep roots and only a CBI inquiry could bring out the truth. They said in fact the PMET should be quashed in the interest of the students and those responsible for creating the mess should be booked and prosecuted.


GND varsity man ‘forced’ Taruna to sign papers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 10
Taruna Khosla of Mandi Gobindgarh, who won the battle against Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has alleged that an employee of the university came to her residence and enquired about her father, Mr Ravi Khosla. When she told him that he was out of station and he forcibly took her signatures on some papers. Taruna said she told her father about this. When her father made enquires, the man’s identity was revealed.

Mr Ravi Khosla, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune said a resident of Jassran

village who works in the university had forced his daughter to sign on some papers in his absence. He said his daughter had challenged the PMET test conducted by the university and moved the High Court. The court passed the vedict in her favour. Now the university has moved the Supreme Court. The apex court will hear the case on August 8. It directed the university to serve summons to the petitioner. Mr Khosla apprehends that the employee might have got her signatures on summons. He said were not against accepting the court summons but the university must get it served through a court’s server. He said they have sent telegrams to those concerned in this regard.


Baba Farid varsity VC may face action
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Punjab Government is studying various options to take action against the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Dr J.S. Gujral. Legally, no action can be taken till the Vigilance Bureau submits its final report on the matter. However, some action is likely to be taken in accordance with the legal position, said sources in the government.

Yesterday the Vigilance Bureau had submitted an interim report to the government saying the leakage of question papers of the entrance test exam for the Pre-Medical Entrance Test was the result of “supervisory failure” of the Vice-Chancellor.

The Punjab Government may also write to the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University, seeking his approval for taking action against the VC. Officials of the Vigilance Department clarified today that no concrete evidence had come out against Dr Gujral to pinpoint his direct involvement. However, the needle of suspicion points at him. The VC is on medical leave for more than a month.

The report mentions that there has been a trend of leaking question papers from the University ever since it started conducting the PMT in 2002. The report also states that during the investigation, besides financial bungling, irregular recruitments of some top officials was also found. And since Dr Gujral is the VC the needle of suspicion clearly points towards him.

Already the Vigilance Bureau has said that the question paper was set by Dr Gujral on his laptop. Printouts of the same were taken and the binding was done in the presence of the VC. It may be re-collected that the Tribune had broken the story on how the question papers were being leaked. The examination was cancelled and Guru Nanak Dev University was asked to conduct the exam afresh. Later the exam conducted by GND University also came under cloud and the matter went to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Regarding allegations that specific coaching centres were involved, the report states a comparison was being made to ascertain this. During the course of its investigations the Vigilance has found that a sum of Rs 60 lakh for construction of the building of the University had been forwarded to a Chandigarh based architect while the University was yet to even purchase the land.

The Vigilance has also found that several purchases had been made without calling for tenders or quotations and bills were prepared for inflated amounts. In another case a Central grant of Rs 1 crore for purchasing computers had been mis-used, said Vigilance sources.


Govt-aided school teachers hold protest
Tribune Reporters

Abohar, August 10
All the government-aided recognised private schools in this subdivision remained closed today as teachers proceeded on mass leave and left to participate in the dharna and protest march in favour of their demands.

A spokesperson of the Government-Aided Recognised Privately Managed School Teachers Union said they had participated in the dharna at Matka Chowk, Chandigarh, last month. An OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister had assured them that their demands would be considered soon. But the state Cabinet did not discuss even one of the demands.

The union regretted that the Congress-led government had not accepted applications for pension from the teachers of the aided schools who retired after March 2003, whereas they had been regularly contributing to the pensioners benefit scheme. The government had refused to merge DA with the basic salary at par with government teachers. Neither the SAD-BJP-led government nor the present government had allowed management of private schools to fill vacancies. This had overburdened the teachers. Surprisingly, the state government considered that grant in aid amounting to Rs 109 crore given to such school was a burden on the state exchequer.

The present government had initially promised that the teachers would be paid salaries on seventh of each month but it had failed to maintain it. The union demanded that teachers of the private schools, credited with better academic performance in the Punjab School Education Board results, be treated at par with government employees.

NAWANSHAHR: Hundreds of teachers and non-teaching employees of the government-aided private schools of the district today went on a mass leave and took out a protest march in the town. Slogans were raised against the state Chief Minister and Education Minister. They staged dharna in front of the office of the District Education Officer here on the call given by the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union.

The protest was a part of the state-level programme to protest against the alleged step-motherly treatment being meted out to the teaching and non-teaching employees of the government-aided schools and the proposed policy of the state government to introduce cut in 95 per cent grant-in-aid being given to these schools.


Honour for gallantry award winners
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 10
Lying motionlessly on his bed with his speech and hearing impaired, 86-year-old Gurcharan Singh, a retired Subedar, is not aware that he is one of the 52 Gallantry Award winners who are to be awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh by the state government at a function in Ludhiana on August 22.

His wife, Ms Raj Kaur, is also not ready to believe that her husband could receive a state honour. “We have been informed about such awards and honours a number of times, but never have such assurances turned real”, she says.

Among the various medals Subedar Gurcharan Singh received were the Raksha Medal, Burma Medal and Defence Medal. His wife also proudly shows a commendation that he had received from the Royal Indian Army Service Corps in September 1946.

Ms Raj Kaur also shows a very old piece of telescope that her husband had received in Japan, which she has now kept safely inside a leather cover. Even as her husband was hardly able to talk, he kept on gazing and wondering what was happening around him. Then his wife somehow managed to explain to him that he was going to get an award but he responded by shaking his hands in disgust.

Ms Raj Kaur, however, said, “Even as my husband cannot move even a bit, I will definitely take him for the function with my children. We will go by car and take his wheel chair so that he himself receives the honour he has been waiting for years”.

Mrs Sawinder Kaur, widow of Guriqbal Singh, PO TAS, Indian Navy, would be another beneficiary. She said she had been reading about the news pertaining to the decision of the government to award Rs 1 lakh to 52 gallantry awardees but she had not got any information from the Sainik Welfare Department till date.

Showing various citations and pictures of her husband, she tells that he had received Kirti Chakra posthumously in the year 1975. “We were together at Visakhapatnam at that time when my husband proceeded in Indian naval ship Kamotra to sea on December 29, 1972. In the course of trials, a rocket failed to fire. When my husband was testing it for fault along with his two colleagues, it burst. My husband pushed the two aside and saved their lives but he himself got severe burns and lost his life at the age of 29 years.”

When asked about the honour that she would be getting, she replies “There has been no happiness in my life ever since. Even as I receive the honour on his behalf, the emptiness will continue to haunt my life forever”.


Row over Mayor’s foreign ‘jaunt’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 10
Jalandhar Mayor Surinder Mahey’s reported weeklong secret foreign “jaunt”, allegedly along with a senior controversial official of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation and a select group of journalists, has kicked up a controversy. The Mayor has allegedly violated the norms by not seeking permission for undertaking an ex-India tour from the Punjab Local Bodies Department.

The Mayor has neither denied nor admitted his reported weeklong visit to Singapore from July 31. He has been maintaining that, he could “undertake any visit in his personal capacity and nobody should have any objection to it.”

But according to legal experts of the Punjab Local Bodies Department since a Mayor was a public servant, undertaking of any foreign tour without prior sanction of the state government would amount to violation of Secions 44 and 45 of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1976.

But what has raised many an eyebrow is the purpose behind alleged reported accompaniment of three journalists with the Mayor. Whether the visit of the Mayor was private one or official, how the journalists reportedly travel with him, with what motive and in which capacity.

Interestingly, two members of the foreign jaunt had obtained passports “within 24 hours” in the “Tatkaal” scheme in the first week of July, while, the third already had a passport.

Another aspect of the story is that the Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr C.S. Talwar was “oblivious” of the visit of the Mayor and in his official observation “the Mayor had been in India” during the said period .

Though Mr Mahey has been denying the allegations sources in the MC said a senior officer of the MC, who was also said to be part of the tour, had managed the entire trip with the help of the “BOT (built’ operate and transfer) lobby”, which, was undertaking a number of development projects in the city. It was also learnt that the group also enjoyed “ complimentary shopping” in Singapore in a big way.

When the senior officer of the MC was asked to comment, he said he was not bound to answer any of the queries.


Farmers stop paying power bills
Free power decision to cost PSEB crores
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
About 50,000 farmers of the west zone have become defaulters, as they are yet to pay the power bills of their tubewells. Now, with the announcement of free power, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is apprehensive of losing crores of rupees to them.

According to sources, if the free power scheme gets implemented from August 20, it would be difficult for the board to recover its dues from the farmers.

A section of farmers had stopped paying power bills. The board has to recover about Rs 17.51 crore from the farmers of the region’s six districts. Sources said orders had already been issued for snapping power connections of about 5,000 farmers, but due to their protest, the orders could not be implemented.

The board officials fear that once the free power scheme is implemented, it would not be easy to recover dues from the farmers. The farmers of the west zone owe the maximum payment to the board. According to the information available, 50,080 farmers from Moga, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore, and Bathinda, owe Rs 17,51,21,000 to the electricity board. This is the figure of July 2005 and is increasing.

The farmers of Rampura sub-division alone have to pay about Rs 1 crore. Sources said 11,578 farmers from Bathinda and Mansa had failed to pay their power bills amounting to about Rs 5.35 crore, but orders of snapping their power connections had remained restricted to paper. The board could not recover the dues owing to protest from farmers’ bodies.

Sources said 13,624 farmers of the Faridkot circle had to pay about Rs 4.86 crore, while 16,058 farmers of Ferozepore owe about Rs 4.39 crore. Similarly 8,822 farmers of Muktsar are yet to pay about Rs 2.9 crore to the PSEB.

There are about 12 villages in Bathinda where farmers have not paid their power bills. These farmers had stopped paying their bills the day the announcement of free power was made.

As the Assembly elections were approaching, it would be difficult for the Congress to act tough against the state’s farmers.

The board would have to find a new way to recover its dues.

Meanwhile, PSEB SE Niranjan Singh said as per the norms, they could snap farmers’ power connections to recover their dues. He said though free power supply would begin, the power of snapping connections would remain with the board.


Govt may give free power to small farmers, says Dullo
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 10
The Punjab Government is planning to give free power to farmers who have land holdings less than 5 acres. This was stated by Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, PPCC president, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said it was not possible for the government to give free power to all farmers in the state, adding that the government was considering to provide 200 units of power free of cost to people living below the poverty line.

He visited the family whose three members were killed by a gang some days ago. He said there was a need to improve law and order situation in the area.


Amarinder ignoring SCs, say PPCC members
Tribune News Service

Dhanaula (Sangrur), August 10
Mr Bachan Singh Pakho, a former Congress MLA and now a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today accused the Amarinder government of ignoring Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state. He said due to indifferent attitude of the government, the SCs could revolt against the Congress party.

He said no representation was given to them at the time of nomination of chairpersons or vice-chairpersons of the market committees and Improvement Trusts in the state.

Mr Pakho, who was here in connection with assumption of charge by Ms Balwinder Kaur Bhattal as chairperson of the local market committee, further said no SC person had been appointed as chairperson of the market committee in the Sangrur, Bathinda and other districts.

Mr Pakho urged the PPCC President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to look into matter otherwise the Congress would have to pay a heavy price in the next Assembly elections.

He demanded 33 per cent reservation in the appointment of chairpersons of the market committee.


4 SAD activists hurt in clash
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 10
Four SAD activists were injured in a clash near Chowk Hussainpura, here today.

The tiff between the groups of Mr Mandip Singh Manna, Youth Akali leader, and Mr Rajinder Singh Marwaha, general secretary, SAD local unit, was held when activists were assembled near the District Courts complex to protest against the findings of the Nanavati Commission. Supporters of one group also opened fire. In the clash, four Akali activists, belonging to both the groups, were injured.

Mr Manna alleged that Marwaha supporters opened fire, but Mr Marwaha denied the allegation.

Interestingly, it was a “photo session” at the dharna site that was the reason for the clash. The Akali activists of both the factions were vying with each other for the photo during the dharna.

Later, both the groups reached a compromise on the direction of the party high command.


Preparations for refinery’s re-launch begin
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
Preparations are on at war footing for the re-launch ceremony of the prestigious Guru Gobind Singh Refinery here on August 12.

Union Petroleum Minister Manishankar Aiyer and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will attend the ceremony.

Strong security arrangements have been made, keeping in mind the presence of VIPs who are expected to grace the occasion. Police force has been deployed on the refinery’s premises and strict vigil is being maintained on all roads leading to the refinery.

Phulokhari and Ramsara gates of the refinery have been opened and both of them are being decorated for the ceremony. A tent spread over about 10 acres of area is being erected.

About 500 labourers have been pressed into service for making preparations for the much-awaited ceremony. A helipad has also been made at Phulokhari gate to facilitate landing of VIPs

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said sitting arrangement for 15,000 persons had been made and 30 water tankers had been pressed into service. He said transport arrangement to ferry people were also being made, for which services of PRTC had been sought.

On the other hand, the district Congress is leaving no stone unturned to ensure huge turnout on the occasion.

Congress leader Anil Bhola said they had ordered cut outs of Amarinder Singh and Sonia Gandhi.


Community Policing Resource Centre launched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 10
After becoming the first police district in the state to start a regular video conferencing between the SHOs and the senior police officials, the Jagraon police has now set up a fully computerised Single Window System Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) in the office of the SSP Jagroan.

The aim of the centre is to ensure efficient clearance of the routine works of the people relating to the Police Department.

This project is executed at the initiative of the present Senor Superintendent of Police, Mr Rajiv Ahir.

Giving details about the concept of the CPRC, Mr Ahir said the centre would help in eliminating the avoidable inconveniences.

Referring to the services, the SSP informed that at the main services include clearance, service verification, foreigners’ registration and permission for public functions.

He said the CPRC would also act as counselling centre for the victims of domestic violence, besides acting as the nodal agency for all community policing projects undertaken in the district. Mr Ahir said the activities of the CRPC were administered under the supervision of a committee consisting of community members and was headed by the SSP.

The SSP further informed that the CPRC has seven different counters, including a reception counter for police clearance, arms license, police permission etc, reception counter for foreigners’ registration, passport and service verification, enquiry counter for registered criminal cases, enquiry counter for pending petition inquiries, information counter for all sorts of information pertaining to laws, police working and counselling centre for the victims of domestic violence.

Mr Ahir further said the Jagraon police had also taken another significant leap forward with the introduction of Alternate Mechanisms of Redressal of Grievances in the district.

He said three types of mechanisms, including financial advisory committees, crime against women and children cell and Shkayat Nivaran camps had been developed to redress the problem.


Health insurance for coop society members
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ghanaur (Patiala), August 10
The Punjab Government has decided to provide health insurance cover to the members of all 4,200 cooperative societies functioning in the state from October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi.

The health insurance cover to thousands of members of all functional cooperative societies will be given under the Sanjivini Health Care Insurance Scheme. The authorities concerned have started creating a common fund for this task.

Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Punjab Cooperative Minister, who was here today to preside over a function organised in connection with formal taking over the offices of newly nominated chairman and vice-chairman of local market committee, said under this scheme each member would have to pay Rs 240 per annum and he or she would be entitled to get insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh for getting treatment in any hospital.

Mr Randhawa, who also held informal talks with the mediapersons, disclosed that the government had been making efforts to open the recruitment of employees to fill the vacancies existing in different departments before August 20 and a case in this connection for getting sanction for the same had already been sent to the Chief Secretary, government of Punjab. He added that state government was committed to filling the vacant post at the earliest.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sukh Sarkaria, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, who also accompanied Mr Randhawa, said by the end of June 2006, new roads measuring 1,500 km would be constructed in Punjab at the cost of Rs 150 crore. He added that the Punjab Mandi Board had already got link roads measuring more than 17,000 km repaired at the cost of Rs 678 crore.

He pointed out that under its decentralisation of powers at the grass-roots level plan the Punjab Mandi Board had nominated chairmen and vice-chairmen of about 137 market committees. The chairmen and vice-chairmen of remaining eight market committees would be appointed shortly. He said the board had managed to increase its income from market fee by 37 per cent by giving the collection of same in 80 vegetables and fruit markets.

Earlier, Mr Surinder Singh Sarwara and Mr Gurdev Singh were handed over the offices of chairman and vice-chairman of the local market committee respectively. A section of those, who suffered injuries while doing agriculture-related works, were given compensation of Rs 3.6 lakh on the occasion.


Attacks on Sikhs: Badal conveys concern to UK official
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today conveyed his concern over incidents of racist attacks against Sikhs in the wake of the recent bomb blasts in London to Ms Joanne Caley, First Secretary (Political) in the UK High Commission in India, here today

Mr Badal gave her a memorandum for consideration by the British Government highlighting the need for taking effective social, psychological and administrative steps to prevent the recurrence of unseemly and sad developments like those that followed the London blasts.

Ms Caley assured Mr Badal that the British Government had accorded the highest priority to the need for social awareness among Britons about the positive contribution made by Punjabis in general and the Sikhs in particular.


Badal visits Chhajjumajra
Tribune News Service  and agencies

Kharar, August 10
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal today visited Chhajjumajra village here to pay condolences to the family of Prem Singh who lost his brother and two sons to an attack by robbers on Sunday.

Mr Badal went to the house of the victims. He expressed concern over “the alarming drift towards gruesome violence, utter lawlessness and the rule of the jungle in Punjab.”

He also called up the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, and told him that the family was not satisfied with the investigations.


Probe report on Basali resort awaited
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 10
After raising an alarm against the construction of a luxury resort at Basali village in Nurpurbedi, the Punjab Forest Department seems to have now turned a mere spectator in whole issue.

The Forest Department had marked an inquiry to the district Revenue Department two months ago apprehending that the construction was being done in violation of the Forest Land Act and also the Punjab Land Preservation Act. But nothing has been done in this regard so far and the forest official seem to be helpless without any report from the administration. The weakness of the forest department in the case became evident as in spite of sending a number of reminders to the official concerned of the Revenue Department to submit the report in this case it has failed to get a reply so far.

The District Forest Officer, Mr S.S Bhatti, said he had sent reminders to the Revenue Department officials concerned but had not got any reply so far.


Special train for pilgrims
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 10
The Railway Ministry has decided to run a special train on the Ferozepore-Hoshiarpur section for pilgrims.

The Divisional railway authorities said today that the railway would run a special train for pilgrims to pay obeisance at Mata Chintpurni. The train would leave Ferozepore for Hoshiarpur daily at 6.25 in the morning.

Earlier, the train used to terminate at Jalandhar for which pilgrims had to cover the long distance by buses.


MC employees plan agitation
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 10
While talking to the mediapersons here yesterday Mr Bakshish Singh president of the municipal Karmchari Sangh said they were not being paid their salaries regularly as per the agreement between the sangh and the Municipal authorities.

The sangh and the authorities had agreed that the employees would get their salaries from the 25th of the month to the 10th of the next month and no other payment was to be made during this period. The employees had agreed not to go on strike in return.

However, the authorities made a payment of Rs 5 lakh to the contractors, thus violating the agreement.

The sangh has served a notice to the municipal authorities regarding their proposed agitation, for the release of their salaries.


Justice after 15 years!
Our Correspondent.

Faridkot, August 10
Fighting a battle against the Punjab Government for about 15 years to get their dues, two terrorist-affected police families here at last got justice.

Deciding the case in favour of Ms Kasturi Devi, who lost her son, Constable Rajinder Singh, on January 24, 1991, while performing his duty at Batala, the junior division court here directed the state government to pay all arrears and the special family pension, equal to the last pay drawn by the deceased.

The court also ordered to pay the interest at the rate of 12 per cent from the filing of the suit till the realisation of the entire amount. However, the litigation expenses incurred by the plaintiff and the defendants would be borne by them individually, said the court.

Taking a serious view of the matter against the government for failing to maintain the dignity of laws, Mr Jarnail Singh, civil judge of the court, asked the law makers to pay special attention to redress the grievances of those families who lost their wards while fighting against smugglers, extremists, dacoits and other anti-social elements.

In another case, Ms Anup Kaur, mother of Constable Gurwinder Singh of Kotkapura, who was killed in an encounter with militants at Kharar on August 17, 1992, Mr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, civil judge (senior division), Faridkot, asked the government to pay special family pension and arrears along with the interest rate of 12 per cent. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Punjab Police Pensioners Welfare Association (PPPWA) has also drawn the attention of the government to pay special heed to resolve the problems of the terrorist-affected police families on priority basis.

In a representation, Mr Sardul Singh, DSP (retd) and senior vice-president of the state unit urged the government to accept the judgement of the court and implement it in the true spirit.


Court sends rape victim to Nari Niketan
Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
Adding insult to injury of a minor rape victim, a Jalandhar district-based couple allegedly “tried to hush up the matter by accepting money from the accused”, forcing the girl to flee to her sibling’s house. But for the victim, there was no solace even there.

The police, after looking into the matter on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, informed Mr Justice Surya Kant that the sister and her husband were “likely to throw her into some sort of immoral activity”.

Faced with the “piquant situation”, Mr Justice Surya Kant ruled that it would be highly unsafe to hand over the victim’s custody to her natural guardians and directed her to be lodged at Jalandhar’s Nari Niketan.

The matter was brought to the court’s notice after a habeas corpus petition was filed by the girl’s parents alleging that their daughter had been illegally detained by “none else than her own elder sister and her husband”.

Taking up the petition, the court initially directed the sister and her husband, to be present in the court, along with the girl. Appearing before the Judge, the girl alleged that she was raped in July this year. Subsequently, a first information report, alleging rape, criminal conspiracy and other offences under Section 376, 342 and 120-B, was registered by the police against three persons.

She, however, refused to accompany her parents after accusing them of hobnobbing with the accused and added that her parents wanted to hush up the matter after accepting money from the accused.

The state counsel, meanwhile, informed the court that it would not be in the girl’s interest to allow her to stay with her sister and brother-in-law as they were likely to make her indulge in immoral activity.

After hearing the arguments, the Judge observed that the victim could not be left at her family’s mercy. As such, she would initially be taken to the Nari Niketan in Chandigarh for “transit stay”.

In his detailed order, the Judge also directed Jalandhar’s Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) to make arrangements for her stay in government run, controlled or managed Nari Niketan in the city.

The Jalandhar-based Niketan’s management was further asked to ensure that no one, except for the investigating officer accompanied by two women police officers, should be allowed to meet the girl till the challan was presented after the completion of investigations.

The Judge added that the girl would be handed over to her parents only if the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP were satisfied that they would not sell her off or throw her into any other illegal activity.

Before handing over her custody, a written assurance in this regard, to the satisfaction of the District Administration, will be accepted. Even after handing over her custody, the police will “continue to monitor the situation and see that the innocent girl did not fall prey to anyone’s greed,” the Judge ruled.


10 years’ RI for possessing opium
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 10
Mr S.K. Aggrawal, Additional Sessions Judge, sentenced Sodhi Ram, a resident of Talwan village, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for possessing opium and acquitted Kebo, a woman of Chak Kalan village in a poppy husk case for want of evidence in two separate judgements yesterday.

Sodhi Ram, was arrested by the Jalandhar police in 2001 along with 5 kg of opium in Sangowal village and was booked under Section 18 of the NDPS Act, while, 105 kg of poppy husk was allegedly seized from the house of Kebo in 2002.

In the case of Sodhi Ram, Mr S.K. Aggrawal awarded 10 years’ RI and slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh. In case he fails to deposit the fine, Sodhi Ram will have to undergo an additional imprisonment for a period of two-and-half-years.


Gang of drug traffickers busted
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 10
Dr Jitendra Kumar Jain, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), told mediapersons here today that the police had busted the gang, indulging in drug-trafficking and selling of CDs of blue films. One person has been arrested.

Santokh Singh, a resident of Thalin village, was carrying opium weighing 20gm in his pocket at the time of arrest. The police has registered a case against him under Sections 18/61/85 of the NDPS Act.

Dr Jain said the police had arrested Jagjit Singh of Fatehgarh Churian and recovered CDs of blue films and 62 pirated CDs from his possession. A case under various sections of the IPC and the Copy Right Act, 1957, has been registered.


6 held for murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 10
With the arrest of six persons the district police today claimed to have solved the blind murder case of a retired bank employee in Feteh Singh Colony who was found strangled on July 27.

Those arrested are Sanjeev Kumar, Satinder Singh, Gurdip Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, all residents of Himmatpura and Ranjit Singh of Mullochak.

Mr R P S Brar, SSP, in a press note issued here today said during investigations it was found that the accused were living nearby areas. They were absconding from their houses since the murder. He said the police raided the suspected hideouts of the accused. He said after the specific information police parties raided at a garden and arrested them. He said the accused had confessed the crime. They had stolen a CD player, a mobile phone, four silver coins and Rs 6,500.


Son kills father
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 10
Mukhtiar Singh (60), a resident of Rajoke village falling under police station Khalra was killed by his son Chanan Singh this morning.

The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, against the accused, who is said to be absconding, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP said here that the accused was drug addict and demanded land to be transferred to his name. The accused killed his father with a sharpedged weapon and run away.


Truck driver dies in accident
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 10
A truck driver was killed and three other travelling in it were injured when the truck hit a tractor-trailer near the Hargobindnagar traffic-lights around 4 a.m. here today.

The truck (PB-08 AC 9858) was carrying milk from Jalandhar to Phagwara. On reaching the Hargobindnagar traffic-lights, the truck driver lost control over the vehicle and it rammed into the tractor-trailer laden with wheat husk from behind.

Truck driver Dinesh Kumar (25) of Baba Khel, Jalandhar, died on the spot.


Rule book for youth fests
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
The Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, today released a book of rules for youth festivals of the university.

The Director Youth Welfare, Ms Sunita Dhir, has prepared the rule book to bring transparency in the system of organising festivals that earlier used to be marred by controversies.

Speaking on the occasion, the VC said youth festivals should not only be taken as a source of entertainment, but these should provide a direct medium for coming closer to one’s culture.

Ms Dhir, giving introduction about the rules and events for zonal, inter-zonal and inter-varsity competitions, highlighted the achievements of the university on this front at the national level. She said the allotment of zonal competitions to various colleges would be on rotation.

Prof Kirpal Kazak, an authority on folk arts, stressed on the need to organise workshops for those who train and monitor the participation of students at the college level.

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