P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Azad’s statement on patka creates confusion
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The statement made by the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, in Parliament that Sikh students have been allowed to wear the patka in French schools has created confusion among Sikhs not only in Punjab but also in France.

Dr M.S. Rahi, advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court who has filed a petition on the turban issue in the European Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Sikhs against the French Government, told The Tribune yesterday that Mr Gurdial Singh and Mr Ranjit Singh, both Sikhs settled in France, had told him on the phone that the French authorities had given no relaxation in the rules to allow Sikh students to wear the patka.

Dr Rahi had written to Mr Azad seeking a copy of the instructions issued by the French Government or the schools concerned allowing Sikh students to wear the patka instead of the turban in schools. Responding to the letter of Dr Rahi, the Secretary of the Ministry of Parliament any Affairs, Dr V.K. Agnihotri, has stated that Mr Azad had made the statement on the turban issue on the basis of the brief provided to him by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Mr Agnihotri in his letter to Mr Rahi has given the text of that brief. It says: “I have been informed by the Ministry that in some schools a formula has been worked out between the French Government and those who are running the schools and the community that instead of wearing a turban, they have been allowed to use the patka. Most of the schoolboys have agreed to follow this formula, but in some schools children are still resisting.

As I said, the Government of India is still in a continuous process of dialogue with the French Government and the matter has been taken up as late as last month”.

Dr Rahi said the Union Government should immediately seek a clarification from the French Government on the turban and patka issue to remove the confusion that has been created among Sikhs following the statement made in Parliament by Mr Azad.


Pressure on CM to remove Parliamentary Secys
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Chief Parliamentary Secretaries( CPS) and Parliamentary Secretaries (PS) of Punjab will have to quit. This is what legal experts say. Already their counterparts in Himachal Pradesh have submitted their resignation after the quashing of their appointment by the high court there.

In fact, pressure is mounting on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to seek the resignation of his 13 CPS and PS in the light of the development in Himachal. A sort of political crisis has started for the Punjab Government.

Informed sources said the Chief Minister had discussed this issue informally with his confidants. The thinking in the government is that it should await the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court where a number of writs are pending in this connection. Mr Rajanbir Singh, treasurer of the SAD, had filed a public interest litigation challenging the appointment of the CPS and PS in Punjab in December, 2004.

The Punjab Government says that it has already filed a reply to all writ petitions in the high court challenging such appointments.

Mr Umrao Singh, former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Punjab, said today that before the appointment of the PS two years ago he had told Capt Amarinder Singh that there was no provision under the Constitution and any Act for making such appointments.

Mr Satyapal Jain, national convener of the legal cell of the BJP, said here that Capt Amarinder Singh should immediately sack his CPS and PS. He said that as such appointments had been declared illegal in Himachal, there was no reason why these could be called legal in Punjab. In fact, such appointments were made to neutralise the impact of the 91st Amendment to the Constitution under which the number of Ministers had been fixed at the Centre and in the states.

Mr Jain said he would file a caveat in the Supreme Court making an appeal that he should be heard in case the HP Government filed a special leave petition to challenge the decision of the high court regarding the quashing of the appointment of the CPS and PS.

Mr Rajanbir Singh said “no law gives powers to the Punjab Chief Minister to administer the oath of office and secrecy to the CPS and PS and such appointments are null and void.”


Small farmers to get ‘energy bonus’
No division of land to be allowed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
Fears of large-scale theft of power has forced the Punjab Government to come up with a two-pronged formula to implement its promise of “free power” benefiting nearly eight lakh marginal or small farmers in the state.

First, from September 1 onwards, when the notification to announce the new power policy is to be issued, no division of land will be allowed. This will stop any move by farmers having large land holdings to quickly divide their land amongst their kin and be eligible for the “energy bonus”.

Secondly, farmers having less than 5 acres will continue to pay their power bills and the Punjab Government will reimburse these. The money will be called “energy bonus.”

A senior government functionary explained that there would be no free run and power bills would continue to be issued. Without this, stopping the theft of power or even the underhand sale of power by farmers enjoying this facility would be impossible. In 1997, when Punjab introduced free power for farmers, no bills were issued and the Punjab State Electricity Board was in a financial mess while the World Bank stopped loans citing lack of reforms.

Two slabs have been fixed for the payment of the “energy bonus”. One slab is for areas that have a fairly good availability of underground water or canal water. In these areas farmers operate 5 HP tubewells and the PSEB charges a flat rate of Rs 300 per month. This will be reimbursed. This will mean an annual cost of Rs 3,600 per farmer to the state.

The second category will be the semi-hilly kandi area in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur and also certain blocks like Dakala, Abohar and Jalalabad, among others. In these areas farmers have to operate 7.5 HP tubewells and are charged Rs 450 per month by the PSEB. This will be reimbursed, making it a payment of Rs 5,400 per farmer annually.

The payment will be made every six months. However, the payment of power bills by farmers will be a precondition to get the “energy bonus”. Also, a nodal officer will be appointed in each district to have a liaison with farmers, said Mr Surinder Singh, Finance and Planning Minister, Punjab. A passbook will be issued by the Revenue Department and farmers will be paid in cash. The Mandi Board will finance this.

The revenue wing, which has the land records, is making lists of farmers who have less than 5 acres. Also, the PSEB has a list of farmers who run 5 HP and 7.5 HP motors. The patwaris and tehsildars have been told to be careful while accepting applications for the division of land. Only those cases will be allowed where the owner has died and the heirs want to divide the land.

Also, those small farmers who do not have a power connection and run diesel motors to draw underground water will be given power connections on priority basis.


Badal: fraud on farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today criticised the move of the Punjab Government to give a staggered six-monthly payment of “energy bonus”, saying it was a “massive fraud on the peasantry” and would add to needless paperwork for the government.

He said a one-line order to implement the free power scheme would have sufficed as was done by the SAD-BJP government in 1997. “What stopped the government from waiving the entire electricity burden of farmers?” asked Mr Badal here today.

“The ‘energy bonus’ is a mischievous bureaucratic brainwave to prolong the issue till the formation of an Akali government in the state and to bail the present government out of its commitment to the farmers,” he said. The payment of bonus on paddy to farmers had been pending for four years. He wondered how the government expected to promptly disburse the promised “energy bonus”, and that, too, when it would be in no position to disburse beyond the second instalment falling due in September, 2006”.

Ridiculing the reimbursement plan, Mr Badal said if the government was to return the amount paid by the farmers through power bills, why should they be made to pay in the first place. “Why did the government want to double its own workload by first collecting and then disbursing the money in the shape of a bonus?”

He also wanted to know the yardstick by which the government had decided that those owning 6 acres to 8 acres would be treated as big landlords and kept out. This plan would result in needless formalities making it difficult for farmers to get any benefit.


Officials among 6 booked in midday meal scam
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 19
The police has booked six persons, including four government employees, in connection with Rs 2.44 crore midday meals scam in neighbouring Sriganganagar, official sources said today.

The action followed a complaint lodged by Mr Jagdish Juneja, Development Officer, Panchayat Samiti, Sriganganagar. The fifty page report was based on the findings of the special audit conducted after complaints from different quarters alleging embezzlement in the distribution of wheat under the National Nutrition Programme of the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development.

The auditors reportedly detected anomalies that indicated that actual quantity of wheat dispatched to schools in the rural areas of Sriganganagar, Raisinghnagar, Anoopgarh and Suratgarh was much less than the quantity lifted from various godowns. Apparently, the stock had been sold on the way in private market by contractors in connivance with employees of the Education Department.

Interestingly, the contractors had received payment of Rs 5 lakh against bogus goods carrier receipts. Physical verification and inquiries made from heads of the educational institutions and panchayats indicated that in total Rs 2,44,34,141 had been embezzled.

The police has booked Ramjas Chirodia, former Block Education Officer, Vijay Kant Pathak, Block Education Primary Officer, Ramesh Soni and Kishori Lal, both clerks in the block education offices, Jugal Kishore and Gomati Devi, both contractors. A case under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC has been registered, sources added. 


NRI murdered near Sutlej bridge
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 19
A UK-based NRI of Bhanoki village, Mohan Singh Biring, was murdered near the Sutlej bridge here last evening.

According to reports today, the victim along with his cousin Gurdev Singh were returning to their village from Ludhiana and had meal at a dhabha.

The victim was attacked by unknown assailants, when he was washing his hands.

He was taken to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Gurdev Singh alleged that six persons came in a Scorpio, and started hitting Mohan Singh with iron rods.

The NRI had purchased two plots in South City Ludhiana and allegedly had a dispute with his neighbours there.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302, 148 and 149, IPC.


Police gets setback in Gurcharan murder case
Accused alleges he was pressured to turn approver
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 19
In a major setback to the Mohali police in a murder case of Gurcharan Singh, former Chairman of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal, the Ropar court today dismissed the application moved by one of the accused, Rashpal Singh, who earlier wanted to become approver in the case.

The order was passed after accused Rashpal Singh, in a complete U-turn from his earlier stand, gave a statement to the court that the police had pressurised him to become approver in the case and he was given an allurement of Rs 20 lakh and a flat. The accused also alleged that he was pressurised by a senior Punjab police official and his brother while he was lodged in Nabha Jail. The court reserved the order on the application moved by the accused leveling allegation against the police officer for August 22.

Earlier, the police had supported the accused plea to become approver in the case and submitted to the court that the police had no objection if the accused become approver in the case.

Gurcharan Singh was murdered outside his house in Mohali on June 21, 2003. The police had registered a case against three persons — former trustee of the Bhaddal Engineering College Bakshish Singh; Rashpal Singh and Satvir Singh. The three accused were lodged in jail.

Meanwhile, the police official has moved an application in the court to handcuff the three accused in the case. The court has fixed next hearing of the case for August 22. Besides it, accused Bakshish Singh had moved an application in the court that he be allowed to attend the Bhaddal Engineering College trust meeting to be held in Chandigarh on August 26. The court has also fixed August 22 the next date of hearing on the application.

The senior official of the Punjab police who allegedly threatened the accused Rashpal Singh, when contacted, denied the allegations.


Blindness no curse for this 15-yr-old
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 19
He is blind, but unlike most of others of his ilk who continue to grope in dark, he is not only leading a normal life but has excelled in various fields like music, painting, and studies. Hailing from Muktsar, 15-year-old Mangal Ram has formed probably the first-ever music band comprising blind children.

Coming from a poor background, Mangal Ram plays musical instruments like flute, tabla and harmonium, like a maestro. His music band showcased its musical skills in England in the first week of this month following an invitation from World Red Cross. Impressed with his knowledge of English, the organisation has also offered him further studies in England after Class X, besides seeking his services in teaching blind children.

His father, Chiman Lal, was a labourer, who was left bed-ridden following an accident. His two-room residence speaks the tale of his poverty. It has no doors and is in a dilapidated state. Interestingly, despite being blind, his mother Bimla Devi works as a domestic help with ease. His other three siblings are healthy. Mangal Ram studied with normal children at a government school in Muktsar till Class V, after which he got admitted to a Red Cross school for blind, in Faridkot, where he is studying Brail.

When this correspondent asked him about his visual handicap, he said he had got so much power in him that he treated himself on a par with normal children. Surprisingly, he can move around without any stick and can visit any of his friend’s home in the city. He also plays with other children in park and carries out household works.

He has displayed his talent in National Olympics, All-India Confederation of Blind, and World Red Cross. He also bagged the national award for painting from former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. He gives the credit of his success to his school head Prabhjot Kaur, teacher Mahavir Shekhawat, and music teacher Parkash Kaur.


Blame game at Cong, SAD rallies
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
Even as the PPCC President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, to cooperate with the government in building “new Punjab,” the SAD supremo dubbed the Congress anti-Punjabi while addressing their respective political conferences at Baba Bakala, about 40 km from here, to mark Rakhar Punnian.

The conferences turned out to be pre-election rallies with the Congress expressing hope that Punjabis would re-elect the ruling party in the Assembly elections on the basis of its performances. The Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, said his government would constitute a commission, headed by a Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, to expose those who tried to create unrest in Punjab since 1973.

Mr Dullo said his party was ready for an open debate in the Vidhan Sabha for fixing responsibility for militancy.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the descendants of Sai Mian Mir, who had laid the foundation of Harmander Sahib, and Bhai Mardana, companion of Guru Nanak, were allegedly humiliated by SGPC members during a recent visit to Darbar Sahib.

He challenged Mr Badal for an open House debate on the Nanavati commission report and those responsible for the militancy. He alleged that Mr Badal had sent his son and nephew abroad while he encouraged innocent youth to become “Marjiwdas”. Coming heavily on Bibi Jagir Kaur for her statements against the Congress, he said she had no moral right to issue such statements as she herself was facing numerous cases.

Mr Badal sought an unconditional apology from Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, for the anti-Sikh riots. He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh did not speak for three days after the tabling of the Nanavati report Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, were among those who addressed the Akali rally.


Probe begins into SI’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 19
A day after the Vigilance Bureau chief ordered a probe into the controversial arrest of EO Wing Sub-Inspector Mohan Lal, the Vigilance SP, Mr MS Chhina, today visited the area from where he was caught and recorded the statements of eyewitnesses.

While the case has taken a new turn with official witnesses coming out with suspicious statements, a number of social and political organisations have given a bandh call in the city on August 22.

The Punjab Police Pensioners Association also handed over a letter to Mr Chhina terming the Vigilance’s action as “totally wrong” and accusing its officials of implicating the cop in a “false case”.

As soon as the Vigilance SP arrived here about 24 social and political leaders and the same number of eyewitnesses recorded their statements. The complainant, Mr Naresh Kumar, told the SP that a person had lodged a complaint against him and the Sub-Inspector was probing into the matter.

He alleged that the cop was seeking bribe from him in the case, following which he approached Vigilance officials in Chandigarh. A trap was then laid to catch him red-handed while accepting bribe. Naresh made the whole incident “dubious” stating that when he met the Sub-Inspector in his office he was told to contact him at 5 pm.

Later, after the alleged instructions from the Vigilance DSP, Mr PS Khehra, he, along with his aide, chased the cop and they themselves nabbed him after giving him the bribe at a PCO. According to the complainant, the Vigilance team got delayed in reaching the PCO as they were unaware about the city streets. He said they kept hold of the cop till the team arrived.

The Vigilance SP, said he would submit his report to the higher authorities and those found guilty would not be spared.


For a change, councillors work for development
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 19
Rising above party and petty politics, the Councillors of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, unanimously passed 30 resolutions relating to various development projects in the town. Mr Charanjeev Channa, president of the council, presided over the meeting and 16 out of 17 members, including Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, attended the meeting. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, played a major role in bringing unanimity among the councillors.

While talking to The Tribune, Dr Harbans Lal said it augured well for the town that all councillors had joined hands for its development. He said in the meeting about 30 resolutions were passed. The major resolution was about the setting up of a water treatment plant at Sirhind town at the cost of Rs 2 crore.

Resolution regarding an old age home to be set up on 2 acres, a community hall in ward No. 17, 24 hours’ regular supply to Chakreshwari Devi temple, setting up of sodium lights on the GT Road in Sirhind to octroi post No. 4, maintenance of Dashera park, setting up of hand pumps in town were passed, he added.

Dr Harbans Lal said the council also decided to cancel the allotted work of those contractors, who did not complete their work in allotted time.

Mr Charanjeev Channa said all resolutions had been passed unanimously.


NCC felicitates selected cadets
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 19
The 2 Punjab Girls Battalion NCC Group today felicitated its nine senior girl cadets who had been selected for National Thal Sainik Camp to be held in New Delhi next month.

Col D.S. Goraya, Group Commander, awarded prizes to the girls as he said the Jalandhar NCC group was sending its biggest ever contingent for the national camp this year. He said the girls had performed very well and stood second in all categories from among eight participating teams of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chandigarh in an inter-group contest held during Thal Sainik Camp that concluded at Shahtalai in Himachal Pradesh last week.

The selected cadets — Sawanti Sharma, Sohawab Hashmi, Parmeet Kaur, Anamika, Harjit Kaur, Kuljeet Kaur, Anjana, Priyanka Thakur and Ramanjit Kaur — were a part of a group of 40 senior and junior girls studying in different schools and colleges of Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur who had represented the Jalandhar girls' battalion in the camp. 


State police to get youthful look
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, August 19
“Is the Punjab police aging?”

“Yes”, says the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, holding that no recruitment has been made in the police for the past 13 years. “We do not have many young, energetic and enthusiastic constables. That is why we have decided to make fresh recruitment in the force so as to retain its youthful look.

“This recruitment will be other than that for an India Reserve Battalion which we are raising for the security of banks and other financial institutions in the state,” the Chief Minister told The Tribune here on Wednesday.

He said that a final decision on the number of constables to be recruited had been left to the Home Department. “Fresh recruitment in the police has been part of a larger decision to lift the ban on employment.

“It has been left to the departments concerned to decide the actual number of vacancies they have to fill. The Education Department plans to employ nearly 4,000 teachers. Similarly, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has been permitted to recruit doctors and others,” he said.

He said the Advocate-General, Mr R.S. Cheema, had been asked to submit a list of retired judges who could be considered for appointment as Lok Pal.

“There is a high court direction to appoint a new Lok Pal within a stipulated period. The search for a suitable candidate has been on for a while but we could not shortlist any. Now the search job has been left to the Advocate-General,” the Chief Minister said.

Talking about the new Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, the Chief Minister said that a search for a technically qualified and eminent veterinarian for appointment as Vice-Chancellor was on.

“At present, the university has an acting Vice-Chancellor,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that he was not happy with the previous set-up in the new universities in the state. “Baba Farid University of Medical and Health Sciences has been functioning on a shoesting budget. It does not have a proper campus and other basic infrastructure.

“The same is the case with Punjab Technical University. The government is keen that each university should have a proper infrastructure and adequate budget to conduct its academic activities well.

The Chief Minister revealed that the vigilance probe had exonerated the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University in the PMT paper leak scam. 


Cops need to mend ways, says Justice Anand
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, August 19
With more than 80 per cent complaints of violation of human rights coming before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) concerning abuse by Punjab police cops, a four-member delegation of the commission today gave a clarion call to the “men in khaki” to amend themselves.

The delegation consisting of Justice R. L. Anand, Mr N. K. Arora, both members of the commission, Mr R. C. Nayyar, Secretary, and Mr H. R. Chadha, IGP of the commission, visited the academy for an on-the-spot assessment of how the academy was sensitising the cops under training for protection of human rights.

Making his observations at a “hardtalk” delivered to the academy high-ups and some trainees, Justice Anand said Punjab police personnel were the main violators of human rights in the state and should urgently amend themselves.

‘‘The regular occurrence of incident of custodial violence, rape and deaths, apart from illegal detaining and torture, is a black spot on the face of the police,’’ he said.

Justice Anand said more than 80 cases of human rights violation coming before the commission were against the Punjab police.

Mr R. S. Gill, Director of the academy, told the delegation the academy was alive to the problem of human rights violations. The academy was calling cops accused of rights violations for a special sensitisation programme.


Retired Colonel ends fast, gets land back
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 19
Lt-Col Onkar Nath Chopra (retd) ended his indefinite fast late last night. Additional Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari offered him juice after urging warring factions to reach an amicable settlement on disputed property in Chanankhera village, near here. The SDM and the police were also present when Colonel Chopra and his rivals signed the agreement.

According to information, the opposite party will allow smooth mutation of the prime agriculture land on the basis of a registered will executed by Colonel Chopra’s mother in his favour. The matter had been pending for a long time due to objections by his relatives and those who had purchased the land from the wife of Mr Iqbal Nath Chopra, brother of the Colonel, without completing the process of family division. Colonel Chopra will donate two-and-a-half acres to her.

Activists of the SAD involved in the dispute had claimed that she had given them the land on long-term cultivation contract.

Colonel Chopra had complained that the activists had illegally dispossessed him of the ancestral property by misleading his “bhabhi” who had no knowledge of Punjabi scripts.


The killer stretch
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
Avoidable accidents can brutally cut many a promising career short. One such accident more than 10 years back led to the demand of installation of traffic lights in front of Punjabi University on the Patiala-Chandigarh road.

Meera Kalia of the Department of Correspondence Studies, Punjabi University, was killed in a car accident in front of the university gate. The lights were installed to avoid such accidents but traffic violations continued unchecked.

A few weeks ago Assistant Registrar Jitender Walia lost her brother in an accident here. She had lost another brother on the killer stretch a few years before.

The 1 km stretch from the university has heavy traffic. With residential quarters coming along both sides, the problem is expected to worsen.

Apart from trucks and buses, students zipping past, without waiting for the green light, are the main culprits. On two-wheelers and cars, they are most in hurry. There is no speed limit and policemen are rarely seen to deter rash drivers.

“It is a question of social security. These drivers neither fear for their own lives, nor care for others. This is a rural university, in the sense that most of the students are from small towns or villages. They don’t follow traffic rules most of the time. They should be educated about traffic rules”, says Dr Kuldip Singh Dhir, who retired as Senior Professor, Department of Punjabi, from the university.

He recalls that Prof Satnam S. Khumar lost his life in an accident here. He was not only the Head of the Psychology Department, but also a state awardee in the subject and an Urdu poet. Sewak Ram, university canteen proprietor and dispenser Charanjit Singh also paid with their lives in accidents here.


Tandon welcomes inquiry move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
A former Industry, Labour and Employment Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, yesterday welcomed the move of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to set up a commission to probe the causes and factors behind the violence in the state.


Police remand of Pak national extended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
The District Court today extended the one-day police remand of Tazviz Khan, one of the 11 Pak nationals who went missing during the Indo-Pak cricket match series at Mohali. He was arrested by the Delhi police and brought to Amritsar on a production warrant by the Gharinda police where a case under Section 14 of the Foreign Act was registered against them.

Talking to newsmen, he said that watching cricket was only pretext, he had come for heart treatment. He said after watching cricket match he went to Kolkata for treatment. He said he remained there for many days and was returning to his country when arrested by the Delhi police.


High court
Notice to DGP
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 19
Mr Justice S. K. Mittal has issued notice of motion to the Director-General of Police, Punjab, for September 6 on a petition filed by Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwarpal Singh.

In his petition, Mr Kanwarpal Singh has prayed for directions to the Punjab Government and the police to protect his life and liberty.

The petitioner also prayed that the police be directed to give a week’s notice to him before arresting him.

Alleging that he and his party members were being targeted due to their political ideology, the petitioner claimed that in 1999, when the SAD-BJP alliance was in power in Punjab, he was falsely implicated in three cases which were later withdrawn.


Kharar Courts
Police remand for former XEN
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 19
A local court today remanded the retired executive engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Mr Rajpal Singla, to a day’s police custody. Mr Singla was arrested yesterday by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau for allegedly accepting a bribe in 2002. He had been arrested then too, but subsequently bailed out.


A local court today sent Ravinder and Chajju to 14 days’ judicial remand. The two were arrested by the Punjab Police special investigation team (SITI) for alleged involvement in the murder of three members of a family, who were bludgeoned to death.


A local court remanded Mohan Lal, Sub-Inspector, posted with the anti-fraud staff, Moga, to 14 days’ judicial remand. The state Vigilance Bureau had arrested him red-handed accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000. Mohan Lal was allegedly caught red-handed by the bureau team while he was accepting the bribe from the complainant, Mr Naresh Kumar, a clerk posted in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Moga, for help in a case.


Drive to check water samples in schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Punjab Health Department has launched a campaign to check water samples in government schools in the state.

Stating this here today, Mr D.S. Guru, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, said that district vigilance committees had been formed under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners to take immediate remedial measures and ensure follow-up action if the samples were found unsafe. 


Inside Babudom
Departments refuse permission to prosecute tainted staff
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
In what can be called a telling comment on the functioning of the Punjab Government, two of its departments have refused to grant “ permission to prosecute” their senior functionaries. The Vigilance Bureau had sought this permission.

The Forest Department and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have recently turned down the request in separate cases. Separate communications have been received from these two departments, sources in the vigilance wing confirmed yesterday. Without this permission the bureau cannot even file a charge sheet in a court, thus the nabbed officials are more or less “off the hook”.

The first case is against an Indian Forest Services officer, his department has turned down a request to prosecute him. The Vigilance Bureau had claimed in September, 2002, that a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh had been recovered from his house which was a bribe handed out by divisional forest officers.

In another case the PSEB has denied permission to prosecute 10 of its employees, including a Chief Engineer and a Superintending Engineer. A criminal case was to be registered against them. They had allegedly connived to hike the cost of project from Rs 76 lakh to Rs 1.56 crore. The Vigilance Bureau had claimed in 2003 that the two senior engineers along with two Executive Engineers, two SDOs and four Junior Engineers had carried this out to bring about a loss to the exchequer.

The PSEB has also denied permission to prosecute three SDOs and one Junior Engineer , who had been nabbed in separate cases while accepting bribes.

Sources pointed out that several departmental heads used their discretion and turned down the Vigilance Bureau permission in the process saving tainted employees, nabbed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. The practice has been in vogue in the past two years.

The parent departments of such tainted employees have been holding back the permission to prosecute even as the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government has issued clear instructions to weed out corrupt elements.

At present, the Vigilance Bureau has a pile of more than 90 cases in which permission to prosecute has been awaited for more than one year. Out of this about 25 cases are of those employees who were nabbed more than two years ago but cannot be charged in court as their parent departments are “not cooperating”. These cases are against doctors, irrigation engineers, patwaris, tehsildars and even bankers in the cooperative sector.


Patwari held for tampering with records

Amritsar, August 19
The Vigilance Bureau today booked Ajnala tehsildar Nirmal Singh, kanungo Avtar Singh and patwari Kanwal Shamsher Singh for tampering with the revenue records.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the accused. Kanwal Shamsher Singh has reportedly been arrested while other two accused have absconded.

The DSP said the family of Kartar Singh, including Khazan Singh, Surjit Singh (both sons), Gurjit Kaur (daughter) and wife Shaminder Kaur, residing in West Bangal, gave power of attorney of more than 24 kanals to Hardip Singh of the village. He sold the land to Avneet Singh and Parajit Singh. The “intekal” (registration of transfer of deed) took place in 1997 and from year 1996 to year 2001 the intekal was never in the name of heir of Kartar Singh. — OC


Gang of cheats busted
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 19
With the arrest of fugitive truck driver Joga Singh Mangat Singh of Khujala village, the police has unearthed a gang indulging in cheating transport companies.

An information was received that Joga Singh, a truck driver and Dilbagh Singh, used to get job of truck driver in different transport companies on the basis of forged driving licences. After cheating transport companies, they used to run away.

A special naka-bandi was held and Joga Singh was arrested from bridge of Hansali, Bank Colony, Batala, with a fake driving licence in the name of Parminder Singh.


Three killed as train hits scooter
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 19
The festival of rakhi proved fatal for the family of Avtar Singh (32), a resident of Isrra village, near Dhuri, when his scooter collided with the Ludhiana-Hisar bound passenger train at an unmanned level crossing near Babanpur canal (near Dhuri) this morning.

His wife Rupinder Kaur (30), eight-year-old son and one-year-old daughter were killed while Avtar sustained serious injuries. He has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

SHO Ajaib Singh said the bodies after the postmortem examination had been handed over to the family. The police had registered a case against Avtar Singh under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC, he added.


Three held in murder case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 19
The police today claimed to have solved a murder case with the arrest of three persons while two other accused are still absconding.

Police sources said Bhola Singh, Kala Singh and Mandar Singh, all of Badal village had been arrested allegedly for murdering Jassa Singh of the same village. Earlier, the police had found the body of the victim near the cremation ground of the village. A case of murder was registered.

Investigations by the police revealed that the victim was involved in poppy husk trade along with the accused and Lakha Singh and Jagga Singh. Jassa reportedly owed Rs 40,000 to them.

To arrange the money, Jassa allegedly stole a buffalo from Maan village and sold it off to a trader at Killianwali cattle market.

Bhola Singh and his accomplices got wind of the incident and considered it to be an opportunity to recover their dues. They took him to village fields and Lakha attacked him with an iron rod before strangulating him to death. 


Teachers to retire only at session-end

Chandigarh, August 19
School teachers in Punjab will now retire at the end of the academic session in March each year and not when they turn 58, the Minister of School Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, said here today.

He gave this assurance at a state-level meeting of district education officers to review their reports on the checking of schools, improvement in the examination results, the attendance of students and teachers and the provision of basic amenities.

He said the process of transfer of transfer of teachers had already been completed. No teacher would be transferred during the session. The Education Department would approach the H C for providing extension to private schools being run in residential houses, which were facing closure after the court orders, till they could arrange alternative premises. — TNS

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