P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Fernandes debunks Nanavati report
Rahon-Machhiwara bridge opened
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Machhiwara, August 13
National Democratic Alliance Convener George Fernandes today rubbished the Nanavati Commission report on the 1984 Sikh pogrom in Delhi and the action taken by the Congress but chose to maintain a silence on whether CM Narendra Modi would be asked to step down if indicted by a similar commission probing the carnage in Gujarat.

He was addressing the gathering at Gurdwara Charan Kanwal Sahib after attending a bhog of an akhand path as thanksgiving for the completion of the Rahon-Machhiwara bridge over the Sutlej.

He said the commission was a whitewash job since it had practically absolved the then PM Rajiv Gandhi and other senior leaders by stating that they had no role in the massacre. Everyone knew about the chilling observation of Rajiv on the earth trembling when a big tree is felled after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. The late PM’s secretary P.C. Alexander in his book had mentioned about Rajiv’s tacit approval of the killings, he pointed out.

Mr Fernandes said the promises of rehabilitation were an attempt to buy justice for the victims, but the NDA would leave no stone unturned to bring the guilty to book. A high level meeting had been convened in Delhi on August 16 to decide the further course of action, he revealed.

SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal spoke on the same lines and remarked that Ms Sonia Gandhi should have apologised to the Sikhs instead of the PM. “ She is from the family which has heaped untold misery and suffering on the community and it is only fair that she should make a personal gesture to assuage the hurt feelings of the victims,” he added.

Commenting on the bridge controversy, he said they should have been allowed to dedicate the bridge to the people since the project was sanctioned during the Akali regime. By not allowing them to do so, the Congress was trying to claim credit where it was not due to them.

Mr Badal also dared CM Amarinder Singh to convene a special session of the state Assembly to condemn the 1984 massacre.

Meanwhile a faceoff between the Akalis and the Congress was averted today with the Akali leadership deciding to stick to the venue and not march towards the bridge as was being feared by the government. Commuters were allowed to use the bridge today though the police was deployed in strength along the road leading to the bridge.


’84 riots: SAD for probe into Gavai’s charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
A meeting of district presidents of the Shiromani Akali Dal here today criticised the role allegedly played by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the “brutal massacre of thousands of Sikhs in November, 1984” and demanded a high-level independent probe into the allegations levelled by former Lt-Governor of Delhi P.G. Gavai in this regard.

The SAD in a statement said that the district heads also asked Ms Sonia Gandhi to apologise on behalf of her family and her party for what they described as a “long history of sins and crimes against the Sikh community”.

Referring to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s statement against the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the district presidents said the former must be out of his mind to ask Mr Badal to apologise for the violence in Punjab. The violence was clearly the outcome of the political machinations of the Congress, which repeatedly propped up one radical Sikh leader after another in a bid to finish off the Akalis politically and, at times, even physically.

The district presidents, according to the statement, wondered at the amnesia of the Punjab Chief Minister, who had said that not a single Akali leader had been harmed during the days of militancy. He had forgotten how more than 29 Akali candidates fell to militants’ bullets in the aborted elections of 1990. He had also forgotten the martyrdom of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal has asked Capt Amarinder Singh to show ‘moral courage to speak the truth about the role of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the massacre of Sikhs in 1984’.

“The Union Government must prove its sincerity by immediately ordering the arrest and prosecution of Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and others named in the Nanavati report.”


SGPC member seeks apology from Sonia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s public apology in the Upper House, on Sikh riots has evoked a mixed reaction. While it was welcomed by some while it failed to appease certain other sections.

Mr Harinder Singh Delhi, member of the SGPC, sidelined the apology of the PM. Instead, he sought an apology from Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC, on Sikh riots and the role played by her party in 1984.

Seeking jobs for the dependents of those mercilessly killed in communal frenzy and prosecution of the guilty, the SGPC member said finding solutions and improving the standard of living of victims was the need of the hour.

Meanwhile, a joint convention by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and SAD (Delhi) at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj here today, attended by a number of Sikh organisations from Haryana, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan resolved that this was the first time some goodwill was shown by any Congress PM. They requested the Panth to evaluate it sympathetically in the interest of creating a congenial atmosphere between the aggrieved community and rest of the country.

In a significant decision, it was unanimously agreed that in view of the failure of the police being cited as a major reason for the riots, members of the Sikh community and other minorities should be recruited in the police and paramilitary forces in such a proportion that the police would not prove be ineffective in future.

In another statement, SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur clarified that statements attributed to him that he had welcomed the apology tendered by PM were false and said he was misquoted by a section of the press.

Asserting that the PM’s public apology put a formal stamp on the fact that Congress was responsible for the massacre, he added that merely tendering resignations by Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar would not assuage the hurt of the Sikh community. 


1984 riots: Badal trying to get mileage, says Khaira
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira today said the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was adopting petty tactics to keep the issue of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 alive to get political mileage.

He said Mr Badal had tried to belittle the magnanimity and grace shown by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who had tendered an apology in Parliament. The statesmanship shown by the Prime Minister had taken the “wind out of the political sails” of the SAD.

Mr Khaira said that instead of asking Mrs Sonia Gandhi to apologise, Mr Badal should seek an apology from the public for “shielding” Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of the SGPC, who was facing serious criminal charges in a case. Mr Badal should also ask her to resign.


Effigies of Tytler, Sajjan burnt
Tribune News Service

Protesters at a rally organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal at Sanaur demanding punishment for those named in the Nanavati report
Protesters at a rally organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal at Sanaur demanding punishment for those named in the Nanavati report on Saturday. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, August 13
Action was demanded against those found guilty for the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi by the Nanavati Commission during a protest rally organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal at Sanaur, near here, today.

The rally wound through all the major markets of the town before reaching the bus stand.

Effigies of Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and the government were burnt. The police kept the protesters under control.

Slogans against Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and the Congress government rent the air as protesters demanded capital punishment for the guilty.

Addressing the rally, Mr Krishan Singh Sanaur demanded the resignations of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Chief Minister, Punjab, Amarinder Singh for failing to get justice for the Sikhs.

He said nothing less than capital punishment for those responsible for the carnage in 1984 would satisfy the victims.

Mr Ajit Singh Sandhu charged the Congress with being anti-Sikh and said the party had always worked against the community.


Process for sale of PNFCL completed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 13
The process has been completed to sell the Punjab National Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited (PNFCL). The maximum bid for purchasing all the assets of the PNFCL situated in Naya Nangal has been offered Rs 25 crore in a tenders opened by the liquidator appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The PNFCL was shut down in 1999.

As per the copy of the minutes of meeting available with the Tribune, a total of 24 persons, including the officials and bidders were present in the meeting held in Chandigarh in the office of liquidator regarding sale of the assets of the company.

The Janakj Raj Gupta and Company has given its bid of Rs 25 crore for the purchase of lots including 83.520 acres factory land, building, residential colony comprising of 240 quarters, M.D kothi, guest house, hostel, lease hold land, plant and machinery, stock finished goods, vehicles and rail locomotive, Railway tract, furniture, fixture, railway sites and track, electric and water pipes.

For individual lot Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Limited had offered the highest bid of Rs 6,05 crore for the purchase of the PACL necessities reservoir 3990 square metre. Representatives of the Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Limited had stated in the meeting that combined bid for the assets for 25 crore of Janak Raj Gupta and Company was a conditional bid and not in consonance with order of the High Court. Therefore the same should not be considered.

The unsuccessful bidders except for M/s Janak Raj Gupta Company and Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals Limited, have been refunded their earnest money when contacted the Liquidator of the PNFCL, Mr Ashish Vajpayee, said that offers from the companies had been received but nothing has been finalised so far.

At the time of the closing of the PNFCL, 428 persons were employed with the factory. The employees union alleged that the sale offer was far less than its actual price. The actual price of the PNFCL is about Rs 77 crore. They said that employees did not get their salary since September 1999. Besides, 135 employees have been staying in the quarters said Mr Dharmpal Bhangar, president of the Kirti Majdoor Welfare Union PNFCL.


Declare agriculture an industry: Left
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI), CPM (Punjab), CPI (ML) and the All-India Forward Block called upon the people of the state to oppose and fight against the policies of the Centre and the state government at a convention here today.

The convention passed a special resolution demanding that the persons indicted in the Nanavati Commission report regarding the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, Politburo member of the MCPI, expressed concern over the condition of the farmers. Due to anti-farmer policies of the government, debt-ridden farmers were committing suicides. Collective debt of the farmers stood at Rs 22,000 crore, he said. Demanding that agriculture be declared an industry, he asked the government to frame an independent agricultural policy. The convention also demanded that the interest on long-term agricultural loans be slashed to 4 per cent and the other loans be waived.

The demand for the taming of Ghaggar river was also raised. The resolution said a permanent solution should be found to tackle the floods that wreaked havoc in Patiala and Sangrur districts every year. A dam should be constructed at Panchkula to regulate water. Other steps could be to construct siphons over the Narwana branch in Ghanour block to ease the flow of the water in the river.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, state secretary, MCPI, attacked the Centre for pursuing policies of privatisation, globalisation and liberalisation, terming them as anti-people. The government was not doing enough to provide essential education and health services.

Mr Chander Shekhar, state Secretariat member of the CPM (Punjab), charged the government with destroying small-scale industries, thus rendering thousands of workers unemployed. He opposed the labour reforms undertaken by the government, saying they were more to the benefit of the multinational companies than the common workers. The policies were generating poverty and unemployment, he said.

The convention was organised by Mr Iqbal Singh Mandouli, Hari Singh Daun Kalan, Gurdeep Singh Sarala Kalan and Mohinder Singh.


Abandoned baby: suspected parents’ blood samples taken
Bipin Bhardwaj

Rajpura, August 13
To establish the parentage of an abandoned 24-hour-old baby boy, a team of doctors took blood samples of suspected father, mother and the child at the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, here today. The blood samples were later sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, for DNA tests.

The baby, Sahil, was found at a causeway on a road linking Madanpur Chalehri village with the GT Road in wee hours of July 10.

The suspected father Tirath Singh, alias Sonu, who was arrested by the police two days ago, was taken to the hospital while the baby boy was accompanied by SOS village mother, Shanti Lata. The suspected mother, a 17-year-old girl, was also brought to the hospital by her parents.

A team of doctors comprising Dr Anju Khurana and Dr Bipinjit Singh took blood samples of the three besides conducting some other tests.

Sources in the police said the girl and Sonu had been having physical relations for a long time. The two used to meet in a house owned by Malkiat Singh.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the ‘mother’ claimed that Sonu was threatening her of dire consequences if she disclosed their relations to anybody. Denying the allegation Sonu claimed that the girl had been implicating him in a false case as she and her family were eyeing his property.

Mr Punit Singh Chahal, incharge of the Shambhoo police post, said the police had laid traps to nab Rani and Rainky, two other co-accused in the case.


Politicians top in possessing endangered animal articles
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Top politicians and industrialists account for largest number of declarations of animal skins/articles made from Punjab under Schedules I and part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act. A majority of them have also been issued ownership certificates by the Punjab Wildlife Department.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his family share the distinction of holding the biggest chunk of shahtoosh items declared from Punjab. Of the 651 shahtoosh items (shawls) declared from Punjab, close to 100 are said to be from the CM’s family alone. Inherited from royalty, these items have been tested for authenticity by the Punjab Wildlife Department which has issued ownership certificates also.

Applications for declaration of shahtoosh and other animal articles like ivory were reportedly received in the names of the CM, his wife Ms Preneet Kaur, son Raninder Singh and his wife.

Of the total declarations made, shahtoosh accounts for the maximum - 651, followed by ivory - 456; tiger skins - 25 and leopard skins -43. About 106 other articles like trophies have been declared from Punjab.

In the category of shahtoosh, other prominent people who have been issued ownership certificates include Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Youth and Sports Welfare Mr Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Food and Supplies Minister, Punjab, Mr Avtar Henri, Rajya Sabha MP Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, formerly MP from Gurdaspur, and also Kumari Selja, who, despite belonging to Haryana, has sent her declaration to Punjab.

Top notch Ludhiana industrialists, mainly Oswals and Munjals, are also proud owners of shahtoosh shawls, as well as other animal skins/items declared from the state.

It may be mentioned here that illegal and undisclosed possession of articles made from endangered animals protected under Schedules I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act is an offence under the law. It is a non-bailable offence punishable with three years imprisonment. Accordingly, the Government of India gave people the last chance of declaring the above mentioned articles so that their ownership can be legalised.

In Punjab, total declaration applications received till October 14, 2003, the last date, were 452, of which only 284 cases have been processed and 125 ownership certificates issued. Officials maintain the verification of animal articles is a lengthy process.

It is, however, noticeable that Punjab has not resorted to as foolproof a system of checking animal articles as Haryana and Chandigarh. Punjab has not even kept any fee for submitting declaration applications under the amnesty allowed by the Government of India in 2003.

Haryana and Chandigarh have, contrarily asked for a fee of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 per application, respectively. They have used the money to purchase computer chips which will be inserted in declared articles, post verification. Said Mr Ishwar Singh, UT Chief Wildlife Warden, “The chip serves as the most authentic identification mark and can’t be tampered with.”

Punjab, however, like Rajasthan and Himachal, chose to mark/stamp the declared animal articles. Small wonder the department has received applications from owners residing in neighbouring states.


MCs told to set up treatment plants
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalahdhar, August 13
Taking a step towards implementing the directions of the Supreme Court, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has asked the Municipal Corporations to install effluent treatment plants for their slaughterhouses.

The PPCB has directed all civic bodies and cantonment boards which have slaughterhouses to set up treatment plants so that solid waste and effluents like blood, which, ultimately pollute water sources could be treated.

Except for Amritsar, no municipal corporation of Punjab, is running slaughterhouses, even though it is mandatory for the civic bodies to set up slaughterhouses under the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act. For this reason, the residents of these cities are forced to eat meat of doubtful origin and are solely dependent on the assurances of meat shop owners or private slaughterhouses, most of which were also not even registered with the municipal corporations. Only a small number of municipal committees or nagar panchayats have the facility.

“We are giving them 15 days to comply with the prescribed norms and to set up treatment plants as soon as possible,” said Mr Harbir Singh, senior Environment Engineer and head of the Jalandhar office of the PPCB.

On the other hand, certain civic bodies have pleaded that they were facing a financial crunch and there were very few animals, meant for slaughter in their areas, and it would be very difficult for them to set up treatment plants.


Blocked sewerage creates problems
Balraj Mahajan

Batala, August 13
The blockages in sewerage pipes have been creating problems in many parts of the town, but officers concerned are not attending to the complaint. One has to pay a hefty amount to sewerage workers for getting the blockages removed.

The overflowing blocked pipes are creating a breeding ground for house flies and mosquitoes. Such unhygienic conditions are prevalent in Mohalla Khanda Khola, Mian Mohalla, Thathiaran Mohalla, Prem Nagar, Harnam Nagar, near Kaushalya Devi Sanan Eye Hospital and old Mall Mandi in the town.

The inhabitants of the area had lodged numerous complaints to the municipal and sewerage authorities but to no avail. The municipal authorities evade their responsibility on the pretext that the maintenance of the sewerage is the responsibility of the Punjab Sewerage Board.

There is every possibility of the outbreak of an epidemic in the areas. The cases of diarrhoea hepatitis, skin diseases and viral fever have increased because of this.

Many manhole covers in the city are broken and are can cause accidents.

This correspondent contacted the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Mr Parneet Bhardwaj, on Monday, regarding the problem. The SDM asked Mr C. Lal, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), Punjab Sewerage Board, to look into the matter, but nothing has been done till date. Even this correspondent talked to Mr Lal and Mr Dhirat Ram, JE, Sewerage Board, Batala on phone but to no avail.


Pak theatre brings kids to holy city
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
A 40-member team, including 15 children of Ajoka Theatre from Pakistan, is in the holy city to interact with the people of the city and produce two plays — ‘Toba Tek Singh in Preet Nagar’ and ‘Border-Border’. These plays would be organised under the aegis of the All-Punjab Performing Artistes Network (APPAN).

Madeeha Gauhar, Director, Ajoka Theatre, Lahore, while talking to The Tribune said the Pakistani children had brought with them a message of peace and friendship. She said the collaboration would involve learning about each other, making friends and learning theatre and artistic skills. The children would come in direct contact with their Indian counterparts and may realise that the Indian children are hardly different from them, sharing similar interests, aspirations and culture.

Madeeha said adults, politicians, bureaucrats, generals and intellectuals were at a loss as to how to get out of the mess they themselves have created. These children offered us hope and enthusiasm and could provide the much-needed impetus to the peace efforts.

In ‘Border-Border’, children from India and Pakistan who meet on the border not only share the same names but also idolize the same heroes and heroines. These children who always wanted to visit the place where their grandparents lived once, break the border formalities and sneak into forbidden areas.

The play, which is aimed at spreading peace and harmony, highlights the similarities people share in both countries. It also highlights the more tolerant and forgiving attitude of women in both countries.

The sequences of the play right from the prejudices of the people to the children crossing over the border, the political efforts like Samjhauta Express and introduction of bus services, are dotted with funny yet meaningful songs composed by Mohammad Aslam.

The play is directed by Harinder Sandhu, Director, Punarjot, and Naseem Abbas. It is written by Shahid Nadeem.

Madeeha, who is the coordinator of the Pakistani chapter of APPAN, said its objective was to provide a common platform for the artistes of both Punjabs.


FM radio station sought
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 13
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP from Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency, demanded installation of FM Radio Station here. Mr Khanna has made this demand in a letter submitted to Mr Jai Pal Reddy, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister.

He stated that Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry was going to install 29 FM radio stations in the country. Hoshiarpur was known as historic and religious city situated on the border of Himachal Pradesh. He stated that with the installation of FM Radio Station at Hoshiarpur, people of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh would be benefitted. He urged the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister to issue a notification in this regard.


Communist leaders’ meeting ends

Jalandhar, August 13
To explore the possibilities of forming an All-India Revolutionary Communist Party, veteran trade union and Communist leaders held a two-day meeting that concluded here yesterday.

The meeting was attended by Haradhan Roy, V.B. Cherian and Mangat Ram Pasla and leaders from West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab, respectively. The members decided to carry forward the revolutionary political understanding contained in the 1964 programme, which, they said, had been badly diluted by the revolutionists under the garb of updating it.

In a joint statement, the Communist leaders stated that their contingents of revolutionary communists would extend full support to the scheduled all-India general strike on September 2. — TNS


Use security gadgets, say cops
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 13
Awareness about security gadgets was provided to people of the area at a public-police meet held here today.

A company manufacturing security gadgets gave demonstration. The DSP, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, suggested that people living in secluded colonies and farmhouses should make use of such gadets. He said the police, with the help of NGOs would try to provide the gadgets to people who could not afford those.

A police control room would be set up in the town on August 17. The town would be divided into six zones for security purposes. Patrolling on motor cycles would also be started.


Music album released
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
Arvin Music released a music album of renowned Punjabi singer Dr Harphool at a largely attended ceremony here yesterday.

The album has eight songs all of which reflect Punjab’s rich culture and history in different forms. Lyrics for the album, which according to Dr Harphool can be listened in a family atmosphere, have been provided by Amarjit Hathoiwala and Dr Harphool himself.


Court frees electrician in Hawara case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The ordeal for Gurjant Singh, alias Genta, who was arrested by the police in the Jagtar Singh Hawara case, is finally over. Gurjant was discharged by the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr M.P.S. Pahwa, here today. No evidence was found against him. Gurjant of Ablowal village, on the outskirts of Patiala, was arrested along with Jasbir Singh, alias Jassa and Baljeet Singh, alias Bhao, on June 19, 2005, by the Patiala Sadar police. He was charged with helping and harbouring Babbar Khalsa International chief Jagtar Singh Hawara, the main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case and the Burail jailbreak case. Gurjant was lodged in the Nabha jail.

Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, said the police did not present the challan against Gurjant as they found during the investigation that he was innocent. “He was arrested on suspicion that he harboured Hawara and knew about his activities. But we found that it was not correct and Gurjant didn’t know that the person in whose house he had worked was Hawara. We wanted to be very sure that no innocent person was framed in this case. In fact, we only want to frame charges against those persons who are die-hard supporters of the movement and had knowledge of their activities. The charges against the other two have been framed.”

The police realised during the investigation that Gurjant had met Hawara a few times, but that was more in his capacity as an electrician. Gurjant lived in Darshan Colony, which was near Adarsh Colony where Hawara had rented a house. He had gone to Hawara’s house to fit an air conditioner.


Man gets life term for killing son, daughter-in-law
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 13
The District and Sessions Judge, Mr K.C. Puri, today sentenced a person to life imprisonment for murdering his son and daughter-in-law.

According to sources, convict, Harnek Singh, a resident of Chughe Kalan village, had some dispute with his son Harvinder Singh and daughter-in-law Paramjeet Kaur. Irked over the matter, he fired gunshots at both of them on September 6, 2002. Both of them were rushed to the local Civil Hospital, from where Harvinder was referred to Ludhiana.

On the basis of his wife’s statement, a case was registered against Harnek Singh under Section 302 of the IPC and the Arms Act.

While Harvinder died on the same evening, his wife’s condition deteriorated later and she too succumbed to her injuries on September 11, 2002.

The convict got retired from the Canal Department in 1994. Following his arrest, the hearing of this double murder case began in the court of the District and Sessions Judge.


2 railway cops convicted for robbery in train
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 13
The Ludhiana Judicial Magistrate, Mr Jaspal Verma, has convicted a headconstable of the Government Railway Police, Gurcharan Singh (42), hailing from Kapurthala, on the charges of robbing Ravinder Singh of England and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for two years.

He was also sentenced to six months imprisonment on the charges of pretending him to be an ASI at the time of the offence by wearing the uniform of an ASI.

The judge also awarded same sentence to co-accused, Shamsher Singh, a constable from Sarinh village, Ludhiana. The duo were ordered to pay fine of Rs 5000 each.

“The accused have committed grave offence of robbery on the passengers of the train, on which they were deputed for safeguarding the interests of the passengers. So they are not entitled to leniency”, remarked Mr Verma while declining the plea of leniency raised by the accused.

An FIR was registered against them under Sections 392/419 and 34 of the IPC at the GRP Police Station, Ludhiana, in April 1996, after an inquiry conducted by the Railway police, following the directions of the DGP (Railways).

The inquiry had held both the employees guilty for robbing £ 35, $ 2 and currency notes of Rs 3,200.


Farmers gherao police station, block traffic
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 13
Hundreds of farmers and activists of the BKU and trade unions gheraoed Sadar police station after resorting to a half-an-hour traffic jam at the municipal general bus stand here today. They were expressing anguish over the failure of the police in taking action against a couple booked under Section 364/34 of the IPC for allegedly kidnapping Manminder Singh. Student of the multipurpose health workers course at an Amritsar-based institute of the Health and Family Welfare Department on August 1.

Ms Chhinderpal Kaur, mother of the victim, had alleged that her second husband and his second wife were responsible for kidnapping Manminder after he left Burj Hanumangarh village for Dabwala Kalan village on August 1.

The purpose behind the alleged kidnapping was to prevent Manminder from attending the hearing of his ancestral property dispute case, which was fixed for August 3, she alleged in her affidavit and the FIR.

The complainant had claimed that her husband died in 1975 and she was re-married to the younger brother of her deceased husband. She had two children after her second marriage. Her second husband allegedly deserted his family and married another woman in 1984. Her son had filed a suit for claiming share in the property owned by his “father” and was to contest the case on August 3.

The protesters led by Mr Bogh Singh, Mansa, state treasurer of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Sidhupur), assembled at Nehru Park and marched to Sadar police station. They jammed traffic preventing movement of buses for nearly half an hour.

They gheraoed Sadar police station.

Mr Hardev Singh Jaisinghwala, district BKU president, Bathinda, Mr Gurmail Singh Kotbhai, Mr Jagjit Singh, president Faridkot district, Mr Budh Ram organising secretary, BKU (Lakhowal), Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhangu, Mr Jaimal Ram, president, Kisan Mazdoor Mulazam Sangharsh Samiti, Mr Ram Kumar, president, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujwan Sabha, Mr Avtar Singh, secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Mr Gurmej Lal, secretary, Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, Mr Jagga Singh of the Dihari Mazdoor Sabha, Mr Jassa Singh Shamkhera, Mr Puran Singh Mahnikhera and Mr Kulwant Kirti addressed the rally.

While lambasting the police for not making any effort to trace out Manminder Singh the speakers announced that Independence Day would be observed as black day by wearing black badges. The BKU workers and members of the allied organisations would resort to “chakka jam’’ on August 17.


Two cops suspended

Kapurthala, August 13
Two police personnel posted at the Bholath police station were suspended and sent to the Police Lines on the charges of dereliction of duty and harassment to the complainant by Mr Tajinderpal Singh Sandhu, SSP, Kapurthala last night.

According to sources, Sub Gurdeep Singh (retd ), a resident of Bhadas village, was robbed of his wallet, which contained Rs 2,500 and some documents by four car-borne persons on the night of August 8 near Kartarpur. When the victim went to the police station with an affidavit to get a complaint registered about the incident the police personnel on duty ASI Dalbir Singh and Head Constable Balwinder Singh allegedly registered a complaint as a matter of lost money.

Yesterday, during the investigation of the murder of a Jalandhar businessman Sumesh thamman, the Jalandhar police enquired about the incident of snatching near Kartarpur on August 8. But on the scrutiny of record, the tampering with the affidavit and manipulation in the details of the case came to light. — TNS


PUDA XEN killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

The mangled remains of the car after it collided head on with a bus on the Zirakpur-Patiala road near Rajpura
The mangled remains of the car after it collided head on with a bus on the Zirakpur-Patiala road near Rajpura on Saturday. — Photo by J.S.Virdi

Rajpura, August 13
An Executive Engineer with the Punjab Urban and Development Authority (PUDA) died and 16 others, including 15 members of a Delhi-based family, were injured in two separate road accidents, here today.

Rajinder Singh, XEN was crushed to death when a private bus carrying over 20 passengers collided head-on with his Maruti Zen car on the busy Rajpura-Banur road this afternoon. Mr Singh was driving the car (PB-11AA-2609) towards Banur when the bus (PB13N-7625), belonging to Gaurya Bus Service, coming from opposite direction collided head-on leaving the car driver dead on the spot.

According to the police, the bus rammed onto the car after its driver lost control over the steering-wheel while overtaking a truck loaded with gravel. The bus first hit the truck and subsequently the car. The truck also rolled down into a deep ditch along the road. The truck driver and helper got stuck inside the vehicle. The helper, Harbash Singh, lost his leg in the accident. A case has been registered.

In another accident, 15 members of a family of Shalimarbagh locality in Delhi were injured when a private tourist bus in which they were travelling rolled down into a ditch along the GT Raod near Rajpura bypass this afternoon.


Candidates allege discrimination by Army Institute of Law
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Candidates seeking admission to the Army Institute of Law (AIL), Mohali, under the “Punjab resident” category for admission to the five-year law course have alleged discrimination and ignoring of merit by the institute’s management in selection process.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court a few days ago, some the candidates affected have alleged that those in the “Army category” who had not even qualified in the written test have been admitted, whereas candidates in the other category who had not only qualified in the test and but also scored higher marks than those in question were ignored.

The High Court has issued notice of motion to the respondents, which include the GOC-in-C, Western Command, who is the institute’s patron, Registrar, Punjabi University, Patiala and the institute’s senior functionaries..

The petition has contended that as per the AIL prospectus, the minimum qualifying marks in the test will be 30 per cent and that admissions will be made on merit.

Further, the prospectus stated July 16 as the date for counselling for left over seats, but no counselling was held on that day. It was on July 28 that counselling was done for left over seats and 10 seats were filled by candidates from the Army Category who, as per the results, had not qualified.

The petition stated that there was no public notice or advertisement to announce the new date for counselling for left over seats, expect for a mention on the AIL’s website.

Stating that there was no provision in the prospectus whereby a candidate who has been declared as “not qualified” can be called for counselling and thereafter, admitted in the course, the petition has termed the action on the part of the AIL management as illegal, unconstitutional and discriminatory.

A representation in this regard was also submitted to the AIL authorities earlier. The AIL was established in July, 1999, under the aegis of the Army Welfare Educational Society.


SGPC medical institute staff get hike in pay
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 13
The SGPC President gave a whopping raise in salary to employees of its medical institute at Vallah here today.

The DA to all employees of the Guru Ram Dass institute of medical sciences was increased from 25 per cent to 61 per cent, claimed to be equivalent to Punjab Government employees.

The salary of senior residents was increased from a former of Rs 13,000 to Rs 20,000 per month, which was claimed to be the highest in the region. The salary of house surgeons was hiked to nearly double from Rs 4,800 to Rs 8,000 that was claimed to have surpassed the government salary.

The SGPC sanctioned an increase in starting salary of nursing teachers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 monthly.

Bibi Jagir Kaur assured to make the 1000-bedded hospital functional with the release of necessary funds and installing of an MRI machine in the hospital at cost of Rs 4 crore.

The SGPC President gave sanction to the proceeds for an increase of seats in the MBBS course from 50 to 100 from the next academic session. She approved the suggestion to give UGC scales with attractive total salary to nursing professors to start a college for the BSc nursing course.


Teachers approach Dullo with grievances
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 13
Getting poor response from the Punjab Government to solve their problems, teachers and other employees of the aided schools in Punjab today approached the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to intervene in the matter.

Over 10,000 teachers, besides non-teaching staff, of 484 aided schools functioning in Punjab have demanded that the state government should take back it’s decision regarding the withdrawal of 95 per cent of the grant on their salary.

They said the government decision would also affect the life of about 4 lakh students of these schools. If grants to the aided schools were stopped, it would lead to the closure of the schools due to the paucity of funds.

Besides, there are 3,000 pensioners of these aided schools who have been deprived of many retirement benefits, including pension, the teachers complaint.

They said if their demand was not accepted, then the teachers from all over Punjab and non-teaching employees would observe black day in Chandigarh and hold protest on September 5.

Giving details to The Tribune, state president of the Punjab State Aided Schoolteachers and other Employees Union, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, said the Punjab Finance Department had issued instruction to the Education Department to change the Delhi pattern of grant-in-aid system, which had been in force from December, 1967. The aided schools had been getting 95 per cent grant on the salary of the teachers and other employees. The grant to the aided schools had been ordered to be reduced to zero in the next 10 years, he added.

The aided schools of the state which would be affected from the government decision included the schools run by the DAV’s Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Jain Sabha, Christian churches, Waqf Board and other local registered societies on the charitable basis, he added.

“We also demanded that pension should be released to the teachers and other employees who retired from aided schools after June, 2003, at par with counter retirement benefits given in government schools,” said the general secretary of the union, Mr Romesh Kumar Sharma.


College girls vow not to marry dowry seekers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara August 13
Twenty students of the Kamla Nehru College for Women, Phagwara, today vowed not to marry men who demanded dowry. They took this vow at a state-level dowry prohibition day function held in the College. Members of NGO and representatives of political, social and cultural bodies were among those who attended it.

The Minister of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development, Punjab, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, presided over the function, an official press note said. Local MLA-cum-Chairman Punjab Agro and Foods Corporation Joginder Singh Mann was the chief guest and Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Sameer Kumar was the guest of honour.

Ms Gurkanwal Kaur listed various efforts made by Punjab government to overcome the menace of dowry and skewed sex ratio.She cited an amendment in the Dowry Act of 1961 for making it more stringent so that the dowry-seekers could be brought to book.Under the new notification of February this year, all sub-divisional magistrates had been made dowry prohibition officers in the state,she said.

However, the minister admitted that the social evil of dowry continued despite the anti-dowry efforts.

She said that evils like dowry were responsible for the skewed sex ratio, particularly in Punjab where it was among the lowest at 780:1000.

Mr Mann quoted from Guru Granth Sahib to drive home the point that no society could progress unless it respected its women.


DAV students go on rampage
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 13
Irate students of Mohan Lal Uppal DAV College, Mehtan, Phagwara, today went on the rampage. As they trooped out of classes, broke wires of the generator set,overeturned the water tank, snapped the electric supply of the college, burst crackers in protest, smashed earthen pots of plants, raised slogans against authorities and blocked vehicular traffic on the GT Road in front of the college to press for the acceptance of their demands.

College Principal RK Mahajan had to call the police to control the situation.

Students leaders Jatinderpal Singh, Rohit Sharma, Pardeep Singh and others told newsmen that they were not getting adequate facilities in the college. They alleged that the Principal and staff behaved with the students in a rude manner. They also resented the ban on the use of cellphone by students on college premises.

They alleged that the college authorities had forced two teachers — Ms Richa Sharma and Mr Tejinder Singh Sidhu — to resign and demanded their recall. They further alleged that water supply in the college was both contaminated and scarce. Canteen service and snacks were also of poor, qualities.

However, the Principal denied all the allegations. He attributed today’s trouble to a student, Rohit Sharma, who is the brother of Ms Richa Sharma. He claimed that both the teachers had themselves resigned.

“I had asked all freshly appointed teachers to submit their original cerificates as per the condition of the UGC, university and DAV management”, said Mr Mahajan. While all teachers had done so, the two teachers instead submitted their resignation, he disclosed.

He also informed that fittes had been fitted in the water tanks for supplying clean drinking water to students.

The Principal refused to allow the use of cellphones either by students or staff.

However, the Principal declared that a submersible pump would be installed to augment drinking water supply by Monday.

Mr Mahajan alleged that today’s trouble was fomented by some outsiders.

Phagwara DSP Navjot Singh’s intervention eventually led to an amicable settlement of the issue.


Students go on strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 13
Alleging that a large number of students of Khalsa College who were involved in last year’s strike against the then Principal of the college are not being given admission in new courses by the Principal, the students of the college today went on an indefinite strike.

Parampal Singh, president of the Students Welfare Association of the college, alleged that the then Principal was accused of misappropriation of student funds and had hatched a conspiracy to physically hurt the students. He was later sent on leave and shifted to B.Ed College for this.

Those who were denied admission included him, Milap Singh, Amar Singh, Inderpal Singh, Manjit Singh, Sandeep Singh, etc, he alleged.

However, Dr Daljit Singh, Principal of the college, refuted the allegations. He said he had nothing to do with the admissions. He said the admission process was the function of academic council of the college management committee and screening committee further screened selected students list and its recommendations used to be implemented by the Principal.

The students started strike at 11.30 am today. They collected outside the office of the Principal and raised slogans against him. The students alleged that the Principal pushed some students and indulged in physical attack, a charge rebutted by Dr Daljit Singh.

Dr Daljit Singh added that the academic council had decided not to admit the students who had failed in the exams in the last two years. Therefore, these students were denied admission.


SBI to launch general insurance
Tribune News service

Patiala, August 13
With a view to generate more business and to outdo private and foreign banks in matters pertaining to the customer services and to increase profitability, the State Bank Group has decided to launch general insurance after getting encouraging response from the field of life insurance.

Not only this, all 14,000 branches of the seven associate banks of the State Bank Group would be inter-connected through the best system available so that customer of one bank could become a customer of all seven banks.

While disclosing this at a function organised in connection with the inauguration of Infotech Academy of the State Bank of Patiala here, Mr A. K. Purwar, Chairman, State Bank Group, said apart from it, its management had consulted the International Security Consultant Company to create a system in the computerised banking operations to check the commission of any cyber crime. He added that a letter of indent had been issued to the International Security Consultant Company in this connection.

Mr Purwar, who had informal talks with the mediapersons, pointed out that by creating a system to check the commission of cyber crime, the interests of the customers would be watched by bank officials. He added that presently, the state bank group had been giving facility of life insurance in its 6,000 branches and it would be extended to all branches by the end of this year.

Claiming the bank with its branches all over the world had been providing better service than the private and foreign banks to the customers at affordable prices, he said the management had been trying to increase profitability of the banks by using latest technology and re-engineering the business process.

“State Bank Group which is one of the largest- loan lending bank in the world has been looking after the grievances of the sick corporate units so that they could perform in the changing economic scenario of the world as its contribution for building up the economy of nation,” he pointed out.

In connection with the Infotech Academy of the State Bank of Patiala, Mr Purwar, said it would be one of the best training institutes of the banks in the country and it would facilitate in adopting new and more powerful technologies for extending faster, more accurate and value added services to customers.

He added that the academy would have facilities of video conferencing, local area network and wide area network through which it would be connected on line to head office and other important offices of the State Bank of Patiala.

On the occasion he donated a 22-seater bus to school for deaf and dumb and blind, Patiala, costing Rs 6.36 lakh and Rs 24 lakh to the Panchkula Welfare Trust, Mani Majra, for acquiring a digital X-ray machine for their charitable diagnostic centre at Mani Majra.

Earlier, Mr Purwal was accorded a warm welcome by the high-ranking officials of the State Bank of Patiala.

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