P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Food row takes new turn; SIT to probe matter
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 26
The controversy over a dispute, which arose between a group of youths and the owner of a local hotel over the alleged serving of food with some foreign material in one of the dishes, has taken a new turn with the constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the matter by SSP Ishwar Singh on the one hand and with allegations levelled by the hotel owners that entire ‘drama’ was enacted at the instance of land mafia, which wanted to usurp one of their hotels.

According to Mr Harcharanjit Singh, owner of a local hotel, a group of four youths came to dine at a hotel, owned by his brother Preet Mohinder Singh. After some time, they started objecting that one of dishes served by hotel contained a small ‘stone’ and said that they would not pay for the food. Though this was agreed upon by Preet Mohinder Singh, the youths then started alleging that the food had some insect.

As the hotel staff tendered an apology and said they need not pay for the food served to them the youths started alleging that the hotel management had used casteist remarks and left the place. “The next day we were surprised to find that an FIR was got registered by youths against me and my brothers Preet Mohinder Singh and Brij Mohan Singh. Actually, none of us had neither abused them nor used casteist remarks as we don’t believe in casteism. Moreover, I and my brother Brijmohan were present at a meeting at the Punjab Press Club at that time. This can be verified. Still a case was registered to frame us,” said Harcharanjit Singh, brother of Preet Mohinder Singh. He said this was another move by the same “land mafia”, run by a local leader, which wanted to usurp his hotel.

Meanwhile, the incident has caused a scare among those associated with the hotel industry. “This way any hotel owner can be subjected to harassment by anybody. The false case should be withdrawn,” said Mr Parmjit Singh Buddhiraja, the president of the Punjab Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said no injustice would be done to anybody. “The SIT, to be led by SP Pawan Rai, will verify the facts. We feel that the case is doubtful. We assure that justice will be done and anyone found guilty will have to face the music as per the law of the land,” said Mr Ishwar Singh.


Save Sarabjit campaign at Wagah
Varinder Walia and Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Wagah, August 26
The “Save Sarabjit Singh campaign” today reached the Wagah’s zero line here with emotional slogans. It was the first “people-to-people appeal” made at the time of the daily Retreat ceremony.

Raising the slogans of brotherhood and bonhomie, the Indians gathered at the place urged their Pakistani counterparts to prevail upon Gen Pervez Musharraf to grant clemency to Sarabjit Singh, who has been given death sentence. They said such a gesture of goodwill would rekindle the hope for the early release of hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis, languishing in jails of both countries. Rising above political considerations, leaders of various political parties and students of the Gurukul School of Arts, where daughter of Sarabjit Singh is studying, reached near the zero line to express their solidarity with the family.

Though the relatives and family members of Sarabjit Singh and leaders of various political parties were not allowed to meet the Pakistan Rangers, the appeal was received by Mr Pardip Katyal, Commandant, Border Security Force, who promised to hand over the same to his Pakistani counterpart during the forthcoming joint meeting.

The appeal, addressed to Gen Musharraf, read “Considering that Allah has bestowed upon your honour His grace and power to pardon, we the people of India entreat upon yourself to save the life of Sarabjit Singh who has been languishing in Pakistani jails for the last 15 years. This one action of yourself, with His blessings, shall not only provide succour and solace to the wife, young children and other family members of Sarabjit Singh but shall also instill in the minds of crores of Indians a sense of deep gratitude for your excellency and for the people of Pakistan.”

In a goodwill gesture, some human rights organisations and members of the National Assembly of Pakistan have reportedly launched a campaign to rescue Sarabjit Singh. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, claimed that many Indian prisoners lodged in various jails of Pakistan were likely to be released shortly.

Meanwhile, Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman of Damdami Taksal, in a missive to Gen Musharraf appealed for granting clemency to Sarabjit Singh.


Indian youths’ kin in Pak want them freed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 26
Sarabjit Singh, who has been awarded death sentence in Pakistan, is not alone. Several innocent youths of the district have been in Pakistan jails or facing tough time in other countries.

The body of Shami Khan of Jandali village in Anandpur Sahib sub-division was yesterday received by his family members after two months of his death in Saudi Arabia. He had died under mysterious circumstances there.

In another case, a Rajvir Singh (22), of Dhoomcheri village in Morinda town of the district has been in Pakistan’s jail for more than a year as he was also cheated by travel agent.

On September 26, 2003, he left with the travel agent for Greece. But the travel agent took him to Turkey where he was kept for two months. The travel agent made an attempt to send him to Greece illegally. But Rajvir Singh was caught by the Turkey police. After a few days of humiliation, he was left on the Iran border by the Turkey police. He was again caught by the Iran’s army and later he was dropped at the Pakistan border.

He was caught by the Pakistan army on January 26, 2004. Thereafter he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, but even after the end of his sentence, he has not been released.


85th Amendment: govt to await SC verdict
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
In a crucial move affecting all government employees in the state, the Punjab Government will now wait for a decision of the Supreme Court before implementing the 85th Amendment to the Constitution.

The amendment, if implemented, will pave the way for faster promotions for employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

The Punjab General Category Welfare Federation has challenged this amendment in the Supreme Court.

The matter is to come up for hearing before a seven-Judge Constitution Bench in the coming days. The federation feels that if the state government implements the amendment, it will be detrimental to the general category employees.

Keeping this development in mind, senior bureaucrats have reportedly advised the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, against implementing the 85th Amendment at this juncture. On July 27 the Chief Minister had announced that the amendment would be implemented.

A source said if the amendment was implemented at this stage, it would lead to benefits for the SC and ST employees. However, in case the Supreme Court found fault with the amendment it would be difficult for the Punjab Government to revert those who would get the benefits. This could lead to a political backlash.

The matter of enforcing the amendment had been hanging fire for a long time. With an eye on the Assembly elections less than 16 months away, several Dalit Ministers and MLAs had been lobbying on this issue.

The senior vice-president of the welfare federation, Mr Prabhjeet Singh, feels the amendment is disadvantageous for the general category employees while it provides “double benefits” to the SC and ST staff.

He said the SC and ST employees, who would get faster promotions, would block the avenues of others.


Carpenter’s dream goes sour
Forced to beg abroad by fake travel agent
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Taragarh (Hoshiarpur), August 26
His passion to earn money brought his family under a huge debt. Instead of getting a job abroad, he was forced to beg for survival in Kuwait.

After an ordeal of over eight months at the Hisabi locality in Kuwait, a carpenter, Ram Pal (26), of this village, about 15 km from Hoshiarpur, returned home late last evening. Duped of lakhs by a “self-styled’ travel agent, Ram Pal was allegedly taken captive in a house in Hisabi for months together allegedly by Kuldeep Kumar, a resident of Ajoli village in Nangal township of Ropar district.

Ram Pal came in contact with Kuldeep Kumar through his friends about four years ago. Kuldeep, who had been to Kuwait, called Ram Pal on his mobile and assured him of a job on a much higher pay package.

Impressed with the salary assured by Kuldeep Kumar, Ram Pal insisted his father Krishan Lal and mother Joginder Kaur to arrange Rs 1.50 lakh so that he cloud avail this offer. “We arranged the money by mortgaging 2 acres of agriculture land with Canara Bank. Even the jewellery of our daughter-in-law was mortgaged with a local financer to fulfil the dreams of Ram Pal,” claimed Joginder Kaur.

Krishan Lal claimed that they paid a sum of Rs 1.10 lakh to Kuldeep Kumar’s sister Shushma at her residence in Gardhiwala town to arrange a visa for Ram Pal.

Narrating his tale of woes to The Tribune, Ram Pal claimed that Kuldeep Kumar started harassing him after a month when he enquired about the visa and the job.

“Kuldeep Kumar took me captive in a house in the absence of a visa. Since I was left with no money and there was no scope to go out, I even begged for food from some Indians residing in the same house,” Ram Pal said.

“Whenever I enquired about the job and the visa, I was beaten up. I was helpless and ashamed to disclose it to my family. Since my parents had already spent a huge amount on my journey, I tolerated the torture for over seven months. Later, one day I made a phone call to a TV channel and the media helped me out from the clutches of the agents,” he said.

Soon after Ram Pal retuned home, no government official visited the family even though the case was highlighted at the national level.


Bibi defends nomination of defaulters on trust
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
The President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Bibi Jagir Kaur, today defended her decision to appoint those persons as trustees of the Sri Guru Ramdass Charitable Hospital Trust who had defaulted on payments to SGPC-run educational institutions.

Addressing mediapersons after the first meeting of the reconstituted trust, here, Bibi Jagir Kaur said: “If someone is a defaulter it does not mean that he does not have the intellectual capacity to guide us in running the trust and the hospital. We are just making use of their expertise and there is no pressure to appoint them.”

At least three persons, including two former ministers of the previous Parkash Singh Badal Cabinet, are allegedly among the defaulters of the SGPC. They are on the reconstituted trust. The SGPC controls the trust and has to recover about Rs 2.5 crore from the defaulters, who have not paid the fee of their wards studying in various colleges of the SGPC.

Meanwhile, a former minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, who is also on the trust, defended himself saying: “Even if a penny is pending against my name, I will quit politics. These are all rumours being spread by my rivals.”

Bibi Jagir Kaur also defended the decision to appoint Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, as head of the World Sikh University, Fatehgarh Sahib. She said: “We are keen on making use of his administrative experience and we are not concerned about his personal life.” She went on to add: “Allegations are part of public life. Let the matter be decided in court. Till then, we will be making use of his experience.”

Earlier, Bibi Jagir Kaur announced that Sri Guru Ramdass Medical College and Hospital would now have a 1000-bed facility. The building was ready and the trust had sanctioned Rs 9 crore for equipment. Out of this Rs 4 crore was meant for the MRI and related machines. Also the hospital would be developed as a cancer specialty hospital. Dr Davinder Singh Sandhu, formerly with the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, had been recruited.

A project report had been sought on the methods to tackle cancer. The best specialists in the country would be hired for this, she said.

Bibi Jagir Kaur announced that the SGPC would fund poor children from Sikh families who were keen on appearing in the civil service examination or studying aboard.

The B.Sc (nursing) course had been approved and the staff would be recruited on pay scales laid down by the University Grants Commission.

The SGPC at its meeting also approved dearness allowance of 61 per cent for all staff in the medical and dental colleges run by the body. This would mean an additional burden of Rs 17 lakh per month. The pay of a senior resident would rise from Rs 13,000 per month to Rs 20,000 per month, she said while giving an example. The new salaries would come into effect from September 1.

On the Majithia Committee report she said the fee structure prescribed by it was barely enough to meet the salaries.


VB report given quiet burial
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
In October 2004, the Vigilance Bureau (VB), Punjab, launched a state-wide operation to monitor the functioning of 93 nursing institutes. This move came after the VB received complaints of large-scale irregularities being committed by managements of the institutes.

The report submitted by the VB to the Home Department brings out the fact that many nursing institutes were cheating gullible students. But, neither the Punjab Government nor the Punjab Nurses Registration Council (PNRC) took any action on the report.

One of the first things that the VB sleuths stumbled upon was a bogus nursing school running at Ferozepur Cantonment in the name of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Nursing College. A case was registered against the persons running the college. The VB reports also said that the Punjab Nurses Registration Council had not conducted the mandatory yearly inspection of most of the institutes. And, in cases where inspections had been done, they were done in a casual manner without the inspection teams bothering to visit the institutes. The VB report also questioned the integrity of the inspection teams.

None of the 20 nursing institutes in Ludhiana range had adequate faculty. One institute, Mata Sahib Kaur Nursing Institute, Mohali, was found to have admitted more students than it was permitted.

In Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepore and Jalandhar ranges, the VB teams came across cases of serious lapses in implementation of guidelines. The VB said the PNRC had been unable to enforce the instructions laid down by the government and the Indian Nursing Council.

It also said that inspections carried out by the PNRC before and after the grant of affiliation were “superfluous” and had resulted in “large-scale violation of the laid down norms and regulations”.

The report, which was sent to the Home Department on December 30, 2004, also recommended that institutions that were running for over three years without necessary infrastructure should be de-recognised. It also favoured initiation of criminal and administrative action against the defaulters.

But, in spite of a damning VB report, the government and the PNRC did nothing.

When asked about the action initiated, if any, on the VB report, PNRC President Dr J.S. Dalal said the report was being “studied”. “We will take action soon,” he claimed.

However, most of the institutes named in the VB report for irregularities continue to function, all with the overt help of senior Punjab Government functionaries. In one such case, the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who also holds the Medical Education and Research portfolio, directed the PNRC, an autonomous body, to allow Dr Dayal Singh Memorial School of Nursing, Nangal, to admit students.

The institute had sent a representation to Ms Bhattal on August 18, 2004, for permission to admit students in the nursing courses.

On August 23, 2004, Ms Bhattal asked the Registrar, PNRC, that since the Indian Nursing Council (INC) had given a feasibility certificate and the PNRC had conducted inspection, the institute should be allowed to start admissions.

However, on August 31, 2004, the Registrar, PNRC, informed the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, that the institute could not be granted recognition in view of the guidelines which clearly said that institutes running in rented accommodation could not be given recognition.

But, on September 7, 2004, Ms Bhattal again wrote to the PNRC. She expressed anguish over her earlier directive not being implemented and ordered the PNRC to implement the same.

And, the pressure worked. The process for grant of necessary permission was finally started on September 9. Ms Bhattal is not the only politician forcing the PNRC to bend rules. A large number of similar directives were also given by Chief Minister’s office over a period.



PSHRC withdraws probe from ADGP on Dalit’s death
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
Over six months after the custodial death of Satnam Singh, alias Satta, a Dalit of Jalandhar district, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has decided to conduct an inquiry into the case itself.

Apparently dissatisfied with the inquiry being conducted by the ADGP, the commission has withdrawn the investigation from him. “The commission considers that it is a case of custodial death and the report of the ADGP has not been received so far,” a recent commission order said.

“It would be appropriate if the inquiry pertaining to the death of Satta is conducted by the commission itself. Therefore, the commission withdraws the investigation pertaining to the inquiry in this matter from the ADGP of the commission, who is directed to send the entire file of this case to the commission for further proceedings,” a commission order said.

And with a view to speedily dispose off the case, the commission directed the Jalandhar SSP to send the inquest report and the magisterial inquiry report to it. The post-mortem report and its video recording had also been summoned by the commission, which has fixed September 12 as the next date of hearing.

The functioning of the Punjab police had come under a cloud following the death in police custody, and the PSHRC had taken cognizance of a report published in The Tribune under headline “Dalit beaten to death by police” on February 7 this year. He was allegedly beaten to death for his refusal to accept his involvement in a theft case.

The commission had asked the ADGP to conduct the probe personally and submit his report by February 17.However, the ADGP had been seeking more time and informed the commission last month that the statement of the wife of the deceased had not been recorded. Further, the cause of the death could not be known on account of the non-availability of the viscera report, the ADGP reportedly told the commission.

The Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) through Mr Arvind Thakur, had also approached the commission. Similarly, the Asian Centre for Human Rights also approached the commission. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had reportedly also taken cognizance of the custodial death.


Of 50 lakh HIV infected, 20 lakh have TB, says expert
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 26
“AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) are closely inter-linked diseases, so the government and the non-government organisations (NGOs) will have to work with dedication and missionary spirit to control the further spread of HIV/AIDS and TB in a big way. The alarming scenario of the spread of AIDS and TB is being further aggravated with the increasing trend of drug-abuse, especially among the youths”.

This was stated by Dr Surinder Singla, a Chest and TB specialist and chief coordinator of “TB awareness project” of District 321-F of the Lions Clubs International, at a seminar on ‘TB, AIDS and drug-abuse’, organised by the Dirba Lions Club on the premises of Truck Union at Dirba village, yesterday.

Dr Singla said keeping in view the rising trend of drug-abuse, the government and the NGOs would have to create awareness at a large scale among the masses to check the menace of drug-abuse. He told the gathering that out of about 50 lakh HIV-infected cases in India, more than 20 lakh had also been suffering from TB, as HIV-infected persons easily became vulnerable to TB and other life threatening diseases, as HIV debilitates the immune system of body. Similarly TB in a person infected with HIV accelerated progression of HIV into AIDS, he added.

Dr Singla said with directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) under the government’s revised national TB control programme (RNTCP), TB was curable even among the HIV-infected persons and AIDS patients.


AI plane grounded due to bird-hit
Ashok Sethi, Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 26
As many as 172 passengers booked on Air India’s flight from Mumbai-Delhi via Amritsar to Birmingham en route to Toronto were stranded this morning when the aircraft failed to arrive from Delhi at 8.25 a.m.

Station manager Air India Ashwani Arora said that the aircraft while taking off at Delhi International Airport was grounded due to a bird-hit which partially damaged one of its engines and had to return. He added that Air India engineers at Delhi Airport were trying to repair the aircraft as to press it back into service for onward journey. Mr Arora said that Air India was also trying to arrange a new aircraft to take stranded passengers booked for Birmingham and Toronto.

He, pointed out that a special aircraft was likely to be flown in at midnight tonight to pick up stranded passengers.

Meanwhile, confusion prevailed at the Rajasansi as more than 30 passengers were offloaded from various flights headed abroad. As many as 28 passengers who had booked for Air-India flight-187 headed for Amritsar -Birmingham- Toronto were offloaded and were stranded here. They raised slogans against the airlines for offloading them. Many passengers including Mr Gurdip Sajna, headed for Toronto with family of four said despite their tickets being confirmed they were not allowed to board .

Some passenger from Air Italy AEY-813 for the morning flight today were also offloaded and complained to airline staff at airport, confirmed Mr Ravinder Singh, OSD airport .

Couple Bikram Sandhu and Poonam Preet Dhillon headed for Vancouver via the Singapore Airlines were told that they could not board flight today . Bearing ticket numbers 5166687101-02 , the woman was to take citizenship oath in Vancouver was distressed over the cancellation despite ‘OK” status of their tickets . No positive headway was forthcoming till the filing of the report as the Singapore flight was for late night.

Meanwhile Air-India made special arrangements to accommodate them in different hotels of the city and added that all facilities would be provided to them till they board the aircraft for respective destinations.


Punjab witnessing longer power cuts
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 26
After having experienced comfortable situation during the past few weeks, Punjab has again started witnessing longer power cuts following the failure of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to fulfil the demand of power.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that situation could become worse as the PSEB authorities had been finding it difficult to make arrangements for adequate power from its own units and other sources to meet the ever-rising demand from all the categories of consumers.

Official sources said that the PSEB authorities had been left with no other option than to impose power cuts ranging from five hours to 15 hours a day after the demand of power crossed 1500 lakh units daily against 1200 lakh units daily which it had been managing to arrange.

The demand for power came down considerably a few weeks ago when Punjab witnessed widespread rains and farmers stopped running their tubewell motors for irrigating paddy fields by drawing underground water. As for the past few days, the state had been receiving no or little rain, the farmers have been forced again to run their tubewell motors to draw underground water to irrigate paddy fields.


Residents reel under power cuts
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 26
More than 10 hours of unscheduled power cuts for the past three days have made miserable the life of city residents. The residence complained of shortage of water supply and felt reluctant to send their children to schools.

The situation is worse in the rural areas as the villagers have been facing more than 14 hours of cuts.

Power consumption has increased much in the past few days following an increase in the use of ACs and fans.

“The residents are having sleepless night due to irregular power cuts. Those living in the second and third floors get water through motors. In the absence of power, they have been facing acute shortage of water, said Ravinder, a resident of Giani Zail Singh Nagar.

Ajay of Uchha Mohhala said the parents were not willing to send their children to schools due to power cuts. The power cuts began at 7.30 am and continued till 3 pm.

The situation aggravated during night as generators switched on to beat the heat lead to noise and air pollution.


Punjabi translation facility sought in RS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
A member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr M.S. Gill, has written to the Chairman of the Upper House to make permanent arrangements for translating his speech from Punjabi into other languages such as English and Hindi.

Mr Gill said he would like to speak in Punjabi in the Rajya Sabha more often and there was need to provide translators.

Mr Gill told The Tribune yesterday that Punjabi was a constitutionally recognised language and a speech could be made in Parliament in it. However, if one were to speak once in a while, notice had to be given three days in advance to make the arrangements for a translator. However, if any member wanted to speak in Punjabi frequently, arrangements for a translator were made accordingly on a permanent basis. But a request had to be made to the Chairman in this regard.


Tubewell billing pattern to be half yearly
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 26
To provide additional benefit to farmers the government will convert their electricity billing pattern for tubewells from monthly to half yearly. The government was working on a proposal to direct the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to collect power bills of tubewells from farmers at the end of each cropping season or six months. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD B&R, Culture and Archives, gave this information while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He stated that the idea behind this billing period for farmers was to give them full benefit of the recently floated government scheme. Under the scheme the government will provide Rs 300 per month as electricity bonus to farmers who have less than 5 acres. The amount is to be paid after six months. So, if the half yearly billing pattern for tubewells is introduced them the farmers would be able to clear the electricity bills after they receive the amount from the government.

This would save the farmers from paying the electricity bills initially and further get the subsidy of Rs 1,800 after six months. By deciding to pay the farmers from its coffers the state government has not burdened the PSEB. 


Protest against water shortage
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 26
Anguished over a shortage of water and other problems, residents of Ward Nos 43 and 44 held a dharna in front of the zonal office of the local Municipal Corporation at Bir Babrik Chowk here today.

Residents were led by former municipal councillor Kamaljit Singh Bhatia and Rajan Arora, a local BJP leader.

Residents alleged that they were not only facing shortage of potable water and choked sewerage but no major development work had been carried out by the local civic body in their respective areas.

“No roads have been relaid for years. The condition of the existing roads is so poor that it is very difficult for residents to drive their vehicles for deep potholes,” alleged Mr Bhatia.

Residents also raised slogans against the local Municipal Corporation authorities.


Chief Secy orders removal of illegal gate
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 26
Chief Secretary, Punjab, Jai Singh Gill yesterday directed the Deputy Commissioner to get an iron gate blocking an old lane in Chheharta township, near here removed.

Mr Gill intervened following a request made by veteran CPI leader Satya Pal Dang to personally take up the matter with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh regarding the illegal erection of an iron gate in a public street by some mischievous persons supported by certain VVIPs.

The All-India Sikh Students Federation in a memorandum stated that residents of the area and sevadars of Guru Nanak Nam Leva Sabha had written complaints to Mr Harmandeep Singh Gill, SP City, and SHO, Chheharta, in this regard but to no avail. The federation threatened to launch an agitation in case no action is taken.


Youth’s family seeks 2 days to decide on panchayat order
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, August 26
The family of a youth today sought two days’ time to take a decision on the order issued by village panchayat over accepting a Dalit girl as bride.

According to information, the Khuyiansarwer police had booked Sanjeev Kumar, son of a registered medical practitioner, Shriram, under Sections 363, 366, 120-B of the IPC for kidnapping Rubina (name changed) on February 21. Sanjeev belonged to Kumhar (backward class) community, while the girl was from a Scheduled Caste family.

The complainant said Sanjeev, after a few days’ meetings at their village Sappanwali, located on the Abohar – Sriganganagar Highway near here, promised to marry her but he said it was possible only after leaving the village. She was taken to Sriganganagar and many other places by Sanjeev. Finally, Sanjeev started living with Rubina in a rented room at Ashok Vihar Colony in New Delhi.

Rubina alleged that Sanjeev had started exploiting her sexually after kidnapping here. At New Delhi, she realised that she had become pregnant. Worried over this, Sanjeev contacted a nurse for the illegal termination of pregnancy but could not succeed, as the nurse found it to be risky.

On August 1, Sanjeev reportedly made a false call from a STD PCO at New Delhi to convince Rubina that their parents had agreed for their marriage and asked them to return home. They arrived here on August 2 by train. Sanjeev reportedly asked Rubina to wait for a few minutes, as he was to look for a vehicle to reach Sappanwali village but he did not turn up.

The railway police questioned her, as she looked nervous while occupying a bench at the platform alone. The police contacted her parents but neither they nor Sanjeev’s family was inclined to accept her. SDM Jaskiran Singh asked the village panchayat to provide her shelter and solve the problem.

The panchayat succeeded in getting her statement recorded at the Khuyiansarwer police station. The police was apathetic due to political and other kinds of pressure but finally nabbed Sanjeev from a village near Sriganganagar yesterday. Both families were summoned to the police station along with members of the panchayat. The panchayat asked Sanjeev to marry Rubina but he and his parents refused to accept the panchayat order, arguing that the girl belonged to a lower caste. This created tension. Mr Shriram sought two days for his family to take a decision. The panchayat members were of the opinion that Rubina should be forcibly handed over to Sanjeev’s house but the police asked them to wait for the next 48 hours. Some NGOs also joined the issue and were threatening an agitation if Rubina was not accepted as bride.


The only day when men have access to this temple
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 26
Janmashtami has a unique significance for men devotees here. It is the only day in the year when the doors of an all-women temple are thrown open for menfolk! In an era of male chauvinism, Phagwara prides itself in having a temple meant exclusively for women and managed entirely by them.

Shri Sandooran Devi Mandir in Purbian Mohalla here does not allow the entry of men, even boys, throughout the year, except on Janmashtami.

Men devotees made a beeline to pay obeisance at the temple on the occasion of Janmashtami today. They came from near and far off places.

Sadhvi Sindooran Devi, head of the temple, is a revered mother figure here. She has also set up similar temples at Kot Duar, Hardwar, and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Janmashtami was celebrated with religious fervour in other temples here. The teachings of Lord Krishna were preached. Besides, bhajan and “bhandaras” marked the day.


Structures razed
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 26
More than 45 illegal structures on government land were razed during a major joint anti-encroachment drive carried out by various agencies of the local Nagar Council (NC) here today.

Two JCBs and about one dozen labourers, headed by NC officials, were pressed into action during the six-hour drive carried out outside the court complex and the local bus stand.

Sources informed that the demolition squad razed 45 illegal structures that had illegally come up on the government land for years together in and around the bus stand and the court complex.

Though there was some resistance from shopkeepers no untoward incident was reported. The NC authorities also took away with them belongings of the shopkeepers.

NC authorities also removed and confiscated as many as 14 ‘tullu’ pumps from Professor Colony and the Guru Harkishan Nagar localities.


CM misinformed on bridge status: panel
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 26
The Railway Underbridge Sangharsh Committee, which has been making efforts for the construction of an underbridge at the railway crossing level No.C-206, on Wednesday demanded a probe as to how the Chief Minister was misinformed about the status of the underbridge.

In a press note issued here, the committee president, Mr Jatinder Agra, said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, announced during the Independence Day function here that the railway underbridge would be constructed after getting sanction from the railway authorities.

He informed the Chief Minister that the railways had already sanctioned the underbridge, following which Capt Amarinder Singh asked his OSD to do the needful.


Roadways workers stop buses plying without permits
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 26
Workers of various Punjab Roadways unions today stopped several buses plying on the roads without any permit. They launched a campaign in the morning in front of new bus stand here. Drivers of some of the private buses stopped by the employees did not have any valid documents.

Interestingly, the driver of a private bus stopped by members of union said there was no need for any permit as the bus was owned by a former minister. The Roadways employees then asked all passengers to get down and seized the bus.

However despite a number of calls, no official from the district transport office came to issue a challan to the private bus owner for using wrong route and for plying the bus without valid documents. Only traffic police personnel came and challaned the bus owners, this was stated by Gurdev Singh, state joint secretary of the Roadways Union.


Villagers protest ash dumping

Ropar, August 26
Residents of Tappar Majra village today protested against the dumping of ash and release of polluted water in their agricultural land by paper mills. The situation become tense in the afternoon when the villagers gathered in front of the factory and demanded action from The Punjab Pollution Control Board and police.

Later, the police reached the spot. Farmers Bhupesh Sharma, Sukhwinder and Nasib Singh said they had sent a complaint to the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board as they had been facing a lot of problem. Some of the villagers had also developed skin problems due to pollution from the paper mills.

A partner of the paper mill, Mr Daljit Singh, said ash was being dumped in the panchayat land which was taken on lease by the mill. The water was also released after treatment in the plant. TNS


One killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 26
One person was killed on the spot and another injured, when a TATA 407 hit a motor cycle at Sirhind this evening.

The motor cycle riders were identified as Kulwinder Singh 29, who died on the spot, and Joginder Singh, 27.

The victims are brothers and residents of Nabipur village. The injured was admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh.


Scabies: five medical teams deployed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has issued instructions to the Health and Family Welfare Department to step up efforts to check the spread of scabies in some pockets of Bathinda district.

Five medical teams, three from Bathinda district and two from Sangrur district, have been deployed in Jethu-ke Khera village and adjoining areas for providing treatment. Free medicines will be provided to the patients.


Bumper cotton crop likely this year
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 26
Even as cotton experts are optimistic about the revival of “white gold” with a bumper crop like 1989-90, cotton yield may fall short of expectations in absence of rainfall in the coming 8-10 days.

The Director of the export cell of the Northern India Cotton Association (NICA), Mr Ashok Kapur, hopes for 50 lakh bales of cotton from the Punjab, Haryana and Sri Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan, as against the official figure of 41 lakh bales last year. He attributes this expectation to the increase in the area under cotton cultivation by 1.5-2 lakh hectares this year.

According to him, sowing of Bt cotton on a large scale and favourable weather are working to the benefit of cotton growers. Although a bit late, still a shower or two will do wonders to the cotton crop, he opined.

He said if dry weather continued to prevail in the coming days the bolls might burst and the desired length and tenderness would lack in cotton. Though he was not much apprehensive of any damage to crop in case of no rainfall, he admitted that the quality of cotton would suffer, which would ultimately lead to a drop in its yield.

He didn’t rule out forced plucking by cotton growers to fetch high prices during the initial phase.

A Cotton Corporation of India official said they were hoping for a cotton yield of above 20 lakh bales in Punjab as against 17.95 lakh bales last year.

Meanwhile, sources said the scenario was almost similar in Haryana with no bollworm attack coming to the fore so far and farmers going for an average of two sprays.

The cotton production in the state was likely to shoot up by 4 or 5 per cent.


Sainik School wards await revised scholarships
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala: Though the Punjab Government had revised scholarships for the wards of Sainik School, Kapurthala, after a gap of 16 years, no grant for the purpose has reached the school even after its students have passed out their previous session.

The decision of the government to revise the scholarship amounts and income slabs of the parents against which they were to be awarded the said amount had brought cheer among all students whose parents had been finding it hard to bear the ever-increasing expenses. But almost five months after the completion of all necessary formalities, the students and their parents seem to have only been left in the lurch.

In an official facsimile by the Special Secretary, School Education, that reached the school office on February 9, it had been stated that only those students from the state enrolled in the annual session 2004-05 whose parents had an annual income up to Rs 1.8 lakh would be eligible for the scholarships. Hundreds of students eligible under the criteria had applied for the same but they are yet to receive any grant.

Mr Buta Singh, a parent, said, "We had long been pressing for the revision of the scholarship amounts as there had been no change in the amounts ever since these were introduced in the year 1989. On the contrary, the fees of the students had been increased from time to time, causing a huge financial burden on most of us. We were happy that our demand had been accepted but now most of us are worried as the assured grant has not yet arrived."

During a visit to the Sainik School in August 2003, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had promised that the income slabs and scholarship amounts would be revised soon. The government had fixed four income slabs. The lowest was fixed at Rs 96,000 per annum for which the scholarship was proposed to be Rs 26,000. The second slab was that of Rs 1.2 lakh per year for which the proposed scholarship amount was fixed at Rs 19,000. The parents with an income of Rs 1.44 lakh were assured of an amount of Rs 13,000 as scholarship for their wards and those with income up to Rs 1.8 lakh were guaranteed that their children would receive Rs 7,500 as scholarship.

Mr Tara Singh Goraya, another parent from Gurdaspur, added, "The previous income slabs of the parents against which the amount of scholarships had to be decided had become quite unrealistic in today's context. So we had been urging the government to raise the slabs. After much of an effort, we are yet to get the promised amount."

Mr Surjit Singh, a parent from Sultanpur said, "The delay in the release of the grant has made us apprehensive. If we do not get the scholarship amounts, many parents may not be able to continue with the education of their children in the school."


100 govt schools identified for nursery classes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 26
With a view to promoting quality pre-school education among children in the age group of three to five years under the Early Child Care Education Project of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the district education authorities have identified 100 government primary schools in Sangrur district to open nursery schools there. One nursery school will be opened in a room of every identified primary school.

According to information, the 100 identified government primary schools for opening the nursery schools in 13 education blocks of Sangrur district are situated in rural as well as urban areas. The names of some villages and towns, where nursery schools in the district will be opened are Sangrur, Ghabdan, Kherri, Balad Kalan, Bhadaur, Sehna, Biggarwal, Dhandauli Kalan, Dirba, Bassi Arak, Nathumajra (Ahmedgarh), Dhurkot, Barnala, Longowal, Dhuri, Kila Hakima, Bhojowali, Lehra, Moonak, Bagrian, Kishangarh, Kup Kalan and Bhogiwal.

Sources said one teacher and one helper would be selected on the basis of merit for every nursery school by the respective Village Education Development Committees. The selected candidates would be appointed on a contract basis.

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