P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Reporter freed on bail
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 29
Following pressure from the Punjab Chief Minister, the Ropar police today bailed out Indian Express reporter Gautam Dheer from police custody on medical grounds. Dheer furnished personal bonds in the presence of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, before being let off.

Dheer walked out of the Kharar police station at 8 pm, almost 24 hours after he was arrested by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab police in connection with a rape case registered at the Nayagaon police station in 2003. It is learnt that Dheer had been booked by the SIT under Sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1998 along with Sections 213, 506 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.

Ex-SHO gets remand

The former SHO of Kurali, Mr Jagjit Singh, who was also arrested yesterday by the SIT on similar grounds was remanded in two days of police remand by a local court. He would be now produced before the court of Chief Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Ranjan Khullar on August 31.

Hundreds of mediapersons from all major newspapers in the region waited outside the Kharar police station through the day as the police allowed free access to Dheer. His family and friends sat with him in the waiting room, showing solidarity with him. A battery of lawyers was also present at the police station to represent Dheer.

Mr Pawan Girdhar, Dheer’s lawyer, said: “The Ropar police chief came to the police station and under his supervision the SHO released him on bail on medical grounds. This was done in view of provisions of Section 437 part (2) of the CrPC. However, the release does not absolve Dheer from the charges levelled against him and the police can ask him to make himself available to them for the purposes of investigations,” he said.

With assurances from the Punjab Chief Minister that Dheer would be let off by the police and the SIT reportedly refusing to do so, confusion prevailed through the day regarding the ways in which Dheer would be released from police custody.

Initially, it was being presumed that he would be released under Section 169 of the CrPC at the police station itself. However, no member of the SIT that had arrested Dheer along with former SHO of Kurali Jagjit Singh came to the police station to effect his release.

It was also thought that Dheer would be discharged from the case in the court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Kharar. However, it was later realised that the Sections under which Dheer had been arrested did not fall within the Kharar court’s jurisdiction and the discharge could be effected only at the level of a Sessions Court. However, by the evening, it was clear to the Dheer family that the SIT had refused to discharge him in the case.

Some lawyers also believed that since the SIT that had arrested Dheer had been constituted on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, only the high court could take a subsequent decision in the matter.

Finally, when the SIT reportedly refused to carry out the Chief Minister’s assurances, the local police on its own took up the issue and let off Dheer. The reporter was released on bail on furnishing personal and surety bonds of Rs 10,000 each before the SSP of Ropar who came to the police station after 7 pm to carry out the release.


I was falsely implicated: Dheer
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 29
Despite having spent a harrowing 24 hours in the lock-up at the Kharar police station with hardened criminals as his cell mates, Gautam Dheer, the Indian Express reporter, remained calm and contained through the day today.

In interviews to mediapersons, Dheer alleged that he had been falsely implicated in the case as he had done a story against Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, IG, Punjab, who is heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) looking into a 2003 rape case. He added that he had neither intimidated the rape victim or her family nor taken any monetary gratification on behalf of the accused in the case as had been alleged by the SIT yesterday.

Gautam Dheer had yesterday done a story quoting a petition filed by the wife of one of the accused in the rape case before the Punjab Human Rights Commission. The petitioner had levelled allegations against Mr Saini which had been reproduced in the report.

“The story appeared last morning and I was picked up from my residence at 8.15 pm by a group of policemen and brought here. The person who led the policemen identified himself as the SHO of Kharar and was in uniform and had his name lapel on. However, no arrest warrants were given to me and neither did any one from the Panchkula police accompany these policemen. Once here, I was thoroughly frisked and then pushed into a cell where another five persons were lodged. A small 3-foot wall separates the cell from an open loo which was full of filth. I stayed the night here. I was offered food but I refused to eat. Despite repeated requests, I was not allowed to contact my lawyer or my family members. I told the police that I was hypertensive and needed medical aid but was refused that too. Finally, the SSP of Ropar along with the DSP of Kharar allowed my parents and wife to meet me in the wee hours this morning,” he said. 

Stating that his role in following the rape case was limited to journalistic pursuits, Dheer said he wanted to confirm a piece of information that he had received from the court about an affidavit filed by the rape victim. “However, every time I called her (the rape victim), her brother picked up the phone and finally she called me back. Then her father also called me on the same issue. But since I did not see a story developing, I did not do it. The same day, Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, member of the SIT, called me and told me that I should not be calling up the rape victim, adding that the father of the victim had given a complaint against me regarding the phone calls. I brought the matter to the notice of my Resident Editor. That same evening, I got a message that I should contact Mr Saini which I did and we had a normal conversation for over 45 minutes. After that day, I never contacted any one in the case,” he said. 

Members of the SIT had alleged that Dheer had on August 5, called up the rape victim and “intimidated her” and her family. They had also alleged that Dheer had done all this to favour the accused, who had through a middleman, bribed him. SIT members added that they had evidence to prove their claims and had arrested him only after a thorough inquiry into his role had been conducted by the SP (D) Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr P.S. Virk, an SIT member. 
Dheer pointed out that in case an inquiry was being conducted why was he neither questioned nor informed about it. “At least they could have informed my Editor about the inquiry or the money transaction that the SIT alleges took place,” he said.

SIT member suspended

According to sources, Harbans Singh Riar, Circle Inspector of Kharar and Mohali, and member of the Special Investigation Team, was suspended this morning on the orders of the SSP, Ropar. Riar had picked up Dheer from his residence last night.


Spy tortured there, neglected here
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 29
Sarabjit Singh may be an exception and the luckiest one to get attention of the country and mercy pleas are being made for him to the Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf from every quarter. But there are about a 100 others, who have been held for espionage and are undergoing the worst torture in Pakistani jails.

Kishori Lal Sharma, a former spy, laments that the government has focussed its attention on Sarabjit alone, while nobody bothers about others awaiting the worst fate than that of Sarabjit.

He pointed out if diplomatic channels were explored, Sarabjit could still be saved. But now some people had started laying conditions like demanding the similar clemency for Afzal Guru who had been sentenced to death for his involvement in the attack on Parliament.

Kishori Lal has spent eight years in Pakistani jails. A trained engineer having diploma in automobile engineering, he joined the Military Intelligence at Jalandhar. He was assigned the task of finding out faults in the tanks supplied to Pakistan by China in the aftermath of the 1965 war. He was caught in 1966 and sentenced to 12 years’ of imprisonment.

However, Kishori Lal has all praise for Ms Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, who made it cleat to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that all prisoners in Pakistani jails up to 1971 should be released. He said a similar approach was to be adopted this time also. He maintained that among those release in 1974 alongwith him following the Simla Agreement, two were facing death penalty. “If leaders are strong enough like Ms Gandhi, securing Sarabjit’s and others release would not be any problem”, he said.

Kishori Lal said for the prisoners like Sarabjit and hundreds others, death seems to be the only deliverance. “They torture you in every manner. At that stage you would like to die...but they won’t let you”, he said, while showing his torture marks. “Regretfully”, he adds, “even if you escape death and sent back in your country you die a slow death as nobody is there to own you”.

Since Kishori Lal was a trained engineer and young enough (when he was released from Pakistan, he was just 32) to start his life again. He is working with a leading private firm. “But”, he laments, “others are not lucky like me as most of the spies are not much educated and they cannot survive if the government and Intelligence agencies do not come to their help”. And they never do. He remarked, terrorist organisations are better than Intelligence agencies. At least they own up their people and take care of the families of their members in case of death, besides compensating them handsomely with money”.


Release of Indian youths sought
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 29
Family members of 64 Indian youths detained in Pakistani jails today converged in the city and appealed to the Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan to discuss the release of Indian and Pakistani prisoners on priority in their forthcoming talks.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, said at today’s meeting the family members rued that despite peaceful relations between the two countries and completion of their jail terms these youths were not released. They said if their release was delayed further their children would start fast from September 10, following which they too would resort to same measure in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi. Mr Bhullar said he had a talk with the Secretary of International Affairs who assured him that the issue would be discussed in Islamabad meeting on August 31. The family members also sought strict action against the travel agents who duped them of their hard-earned money that led to their children’s deportation to Pakistan. They said above 4,000 travel agents were active in the state and the government should be tough with those deceiving unsuspecting people.


Punjab committed to power reforms: Captain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Punjab Government was ready to set up a power-generating project jointly with Haryana, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh. His Haryana counterpart, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, speaking on the same lines said states had to cooperate in power sector and inter linking of rivers to augment infrastructure in region.

The two Chief Ministers made a rare joint appearance to collectively inaugurate the new building of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), in Sector 19 here today. Both the states are major stake holders in the power and irrigation projects of the BBMB.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government was committed to the reforms in power sector as per the Electricity Act, 2003 with the prime objective of achieving commercial viability and to provide uninterrupted power to all sections of society at affordable prices. Expressing concern over the rapid fall of ground water in the state, the Chief Minister said Punjab Government was trying to find ways for the recharging of ground water.

Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that after the Darbara Singh government nobody invested a single penny for the growth of power sector in Punjab. It was only during his regime almost 50 per cent of the budget was allocated for power sector.

Meanwhile the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, urged the neighbouring states to cooperate each other for generation of more hydro-electric power and interlinking rivers and power grids so as to enhance the prosperity in the region infrastructure development.

He said that the Haryana Government was greatly concerned with the rapid fall in ground water level in the state.

Mr Hooda congratulated the management of the BBMB and its engineers who had ensured the continuing prosperity in the region. Mr Hooda said he was reminded of the inauguration of the Bhakra Dam in 1963 which he had attended as a young boy. Mr Hooda re-collected that his father Mr Ranbir Singh was holding the portfolio of Irrigation and Power in the Cabinet headed by Mr Partap Singh Kairon in the joint Punjab.

Meanwhile the BBMB’s new building will have 15,000 square feet of space and was constructed at a cost of Rs 1.6 crore. The offices of the Chairman, Members of the Board, Secretary, Special Secretary and other senior functionaries will be located in the new block. All other offices of the BBMB operating out of rented buildings will be accommodated in the old block.

Rainwater harvesting system is the special feature of this building. Entire electric lighting is with energy efficient fittings. Acoustic treatment is given to interiors of the committee room to avoid the effect of echo.


Poachers escape due to slackness of officials
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 29
Political pressure and slackness of the Forest Department officials helped escape hunters and possible destruction of the evidence in a poaching case.

Yesterday at 9 am former wildlife wardens from Gurdaspur Sukhdeep Bajwa and Gunraj Singh informed the Dasuya and Gurdaspur Forest Department officials about the movements of poachers in the area. They passed the information that some poachers from area of Gurdaspur had hunted down blue bulls in the forests of Himachal along the border of both the states. They brought the kills to area and were selling the meat among the locals.

However, it took forest officials of Gurdaspur more than six hours to raid the said area where the accused were selling meat of hunted animals. The forest officials raided told areas at 3 pm. Due to the delay in the raid they recovered just pieces of uncooked and cooked meat suspected to be of the hunted animals.

They arrested Mussa Mohamad from whose house the meat was recovered. Other members of group that allegedly carried out the poaching could not be arrested. The sources available here told that other accused in the case could not be arrested due to the political pressure exerted by the senior Congress leaders and government functionaries from Qadian. A forest official from Gurdaspur told on the condition of anonymity that he received at least 24 calls from the persons in high positions issuing orders against booking all accused in the case.

DFO Pathankot Range Sahota told cooked and uncooked meat recovered from the accused has been sent to the Hyderabad forensic laboratory for examination on delay on the part of the forest officials in raiding the spot where the meat of hunted animal was being sold, he said as per the information provided to them the meat of hunted blue bulls was being sold at a place of worship of a particular community. So, they had to exercise caution while entering the place of worship to avoid tension. About the political pressure exerted for letting the accused off, he said that pressure for releasing in the accused in hunting cases was a routine matter and does not affect their functioning.

Mr Sukhdeep Bajwa, the former honorary wildlife warden from the area said that since the government had not extended their appointment since February 2005 they did not have the power to nab the culprits despite having definite information regarding their activities. Still they informed the Forest officials about the movements of the hunters. The poachers accused in the said case have earlier also been apprehended for hunting in the Himachal area. Two cases of poaching have been registered against them in Una district of Himachal.

Honorary wildlife wardens Sukhdeep Bajwa and Gunraj Singh had caught former SDM Pathankot Puneet Geol for hunting a peacock in the jungles of Hoshiarpur. Since then they have helped the Forest Department towards many poachers who were openly in the area. However, despite the good work the government has not extended their posting as honorary wardens. The government was not availing free services of experts who had helped them tackling the menace of poaching in Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts.


No takers for PTU courses
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 29
With as many as eight colleges affiliated with Punjab Technical University it has (PTU) not been able to fill even a single seat for MCA, the course seems to have got a beating in two consecutive counsellings organised by Punjabi University this year.

While majority of the remaining 25 colleges affiliated with the PTU are finding it hard to fill even half of their total seats, authorities of Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University have managed to fill all campus and off-campus seats.

Officials in Punjabi University revealed that the number of applicants for the course were far too low than the total number of available seats. While a common MBA-MCA counseling was held for a total of 4500 seats, only 2923 candidates applied for the same and 1800 of them appeared for counselling in the two courses that concluded last Sunday.

The eight colleges that failed to fill a single seat in counseling include Doraha Institute of Management and Technology, Ludhiana, Ludhiana College of Engineering and Technology, Ludhiana, Bhutta College of Engineering and Technology, Ludhiana, Jamna Devi Institute of Management and Technology, Muktsar, Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Management, Dhudike, Moga, Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ghal Ghelan, Moga, St Soldier Management and Technical Institute, Jalandhar, and Indo Global Institute, Abipur, Chandigarh.

With counselling now over, the seats are free for all, even for those who did not appear for the common entrance test held last month. The colleges are repeatedly advertising about direct admission to the courses in their colleges through media but are hardly finding a candidate or two.

In fact, most technical colleges of the state had sensed the trouble and got into action much before Punjabi University even received the Punjab government notification to conduct the test. Many PTU-affiliated colleges had started conducting admission to the management seats even before the test was to be held so as to ensure maximum occupancy against available seats.

The MBA course has also not got a very good response as most of the colleges have filled only half of the total seats. The engineering course too seems to have lost its sheen as nine of the total 43 colleges have not been able to fill a single seat in general category quota even after the second counselling.

Directors of the local colleges, however, blame it on proliferation of technical institutes in the state owing to relaxation on affiliation given by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). College authorities also claim that very few technical jobs were available in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh vis-a-visa the number of degree holders.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, said that since he was away to Chandigarh for a meeting, he did not have complete details about the outcome of MBA/MCA counselling.


Tedious testing procedures affect HIV infected
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
For the HIV infected who came from Punjab villages to attend a consultation on AIDS organised by the Population Foundation of India in Chandigarh today, access to treatment and the cost involved are the two big challenges.

Although all districts of the state have voluntary counselling ad testing centers (VCTCs) to determine HIV status of patients, the reports, patients say, are invariably not accepted at the PGI. Presently, Punjab has 2034 HIV + people and 334 AIDS affected people. There have been 92 virus related deaths in the state.

Infected people who were at the Chandigarh Press Club today for the consultation said HIV/AIDS tests had to be conducted all over again and took several days. An infected woman from Ropar said, “I have made 20 visits to the PGI but have not been put on treatment. I spent my money on the treatment of my husband who died due to the infection two years ago.” Wife of another infected patient said she had not been able to get medicines for her husband despite getting his tests done. She has now started going to quacks who offer cheap medicine.

These and more issues were raised during the consultation conducted by Ms Usha Rai, eminent journalist and expert who is preparing a manual on HIV/AIDS news coverage for the Population Foundation of India.

Raising vital issues related to the problem which is assuming alarming proportions, Ms Rai shared salient features of the study conducted to find out how various newspapers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were handling HIV/AIDS related issues. She concluded that a majority of the news items on HIV/AIDS (44 per cent) were of national complexion, while very few stories highlighted state-level issues. Vernacular press, she said, did not give much space to reports related to HIV/ AIDS.

Stressing responsible media coverage of AIDS related issues, Ms Rai managed to raise a debate on related topics which concerned the infected people most urgently. One of the main recommendations of the consultation was to make testing and report collection available under one roof. In this connection, Dr Sonia Trikha, Project Director, State AIDS Control Society, UT, said the society was working on ways to lessen the suffering of infected people, especially who traveled long distances for treatment.

A proposal of making testing speedier and report collection easier for patients had been forwarded to four departments of the PGI. Dr Trika also said something on the lines of Model VCTCs which Mumbai had can be developed for the HIV infected persons of the region. She also shared vital bits of information with the infected patients telling them about the facilities like counselling and nutrition advice which the PGI provides.

The issue of special care for children suffering from HIV/AIDS was also hotly debated and the group attending the consultation made a recommendation regarding policy formulation on this issue. 


Cong, SAD misusing power, says Kainth
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 29
In its bid to create awareness among poor and Dalits about their rights, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), led by former MP Satnam Singh Kainth, has decided to launch a statewide, “Lehar Banao- Hit Bachao Andolan”, based at district rallies.

The rallies would take place at all district headquarters from September 24 and the first such rally would be held at Hoshiarpur, said Mr Kainth and senior BSM leader Ramesh Chohkan.

Mr Kainth and Mr Chohkan, who were addressing a press conference here today, alleged that neither the Shiromani Akali Dal nor the Congress had ever taken up to Dalit issues seriously and that the two parties had been misusing the Dalit power for their vested interests. “They have been giving catchy slogans and nothing more than that. Take the example of custodial deaths. It were always Dalits who have been the victims whether it was Akali regime or Congress rule,” alleged Mr Kainth. He said that the 85th amendment to the Constitution had not been implemented by the Amarinder Singh government, which in itself was an example that the Congress was an “anti-Dalit” force.

He said the main motive behind the Hoshiarpur and other rallies was to create awareness among the Dalits and 14.5 lakhs of those people, who were living below the poverty line about their rights and about the duties of the state towards them.


Khera to lead delegation to European countries
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 29
Chairman, Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, Balwant Singh Khera will lead a delegation to various countries of Europe next month.

A press note of Mr Balwant Singh Khera said yesterday that the delegation would visit Greece, Malta, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium to meet government officials, ambassadors, mediapersons on Malta boat tragedy, to pursue legal cases of the victims and plead for compensation to aggrieved families.

Meanwhile, Mr Khera has been allowed to appear as a witness before the Court of Assise of Siracusa, Rome, Italy, for the next hearing of the case scheduled for October 12, the press note added.


Cardiology department faces staff shortage
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
The Cardiolgy Department of the local Government Rajindra Medical College and Hospital is facing closure as the state research and medical education authorities have transferred the only doctor working in that department recently.

The hospital took up the matter with the authorities concerned and urged them to revert the doctor to the same position as assistant professor.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the department was being run by a senior resident doctor despite the fact that as per the norms there should be one professor, one associate professor and one assistant professor. Not only this, the hospital authorities had deputed a doctor from the medicine wing to look after the working of Cardiology Department.

Officials sources said Dr Dharampal, who was working as assistant professor in the department for the 18 years, had been transferred to the Paediatrics Department of the college. This was done despite the fact that the paediatrics Department already had enough staff.

Sources added that the post of professor of the Cardiology Department had been lying vacant for the past four years.

“The authorities concerned in Chandigarh have been categorically conveyed that the transfer of Dr Dharampal should be cancelled,” pointed out a senior functionary of Rajindra hospital while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity.

Dr B.S. Sohal, Secretary, Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, said they had lodged a protest against the transfer of Dr Dharampal as it had been done by violating norms. He added that association had also sent a representation in this connection to the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The Director, Research and Medical Education, Dr Dalal, said he was not aware of any thing and hence he would take up the matter shortly.

Dr Kiranjot Kaur, Principal, Government Rajindra Medical College and Hospital, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Protest rally by Dalits
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 29
Nearly 150 Dalits from various parts of the district under the banner of the “Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan”, led by Mr Sanjay Kumar, project coordinator of the andolan, today held a rally here and took out a march through the town in support of their demands. They also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Husan Lal, to forward it to the Chief Minister.

The protesters are demanding eradication of bonded labour system in the state, minimum wages to all agricultural workers, allotment of plots to members of weaker sections of society and reservation in the private sector.

The speakers urged the government to save the Dalits from the alleged atrocities of landlords. They said at several places, the agricultural workers were not getting minimum wages fixed by the government.

Mr Sanjay Kumar said they would meet the Chief Minister in Chandigarh and submit the memorandum, enlisting their demands.


I was tortured in jail, Mann writes to Lahoti
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, August 29
Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar) has complained to the Chief Justice of India that he was tortured mentally and physically.

In a letter to the Chief Justice of India, Mr RC Lahoti, written from the Central Jail, Ludhiana, on August 26, Mr Mann stated: “Doctors from the Civil Hospital have examined me and recommended to the government that my cell in prison have an air-conditioner and a proper air-conditioned vehicle should be provided to me when I am taken to courts to attend the hearing of my cases. The Punjab Government has ignored this advice and the Chief Minister has stated that he has sent me to prison and watch my behaviour. Has the state a moral police here as prevails in Islamic countries.

Secondly, the Chief Minister has stated that on getting bail, if I misbehave he will send me back to jail and forget where he has thrown the keys of the jail lock. Is this the sort of constitutional and legal society, we live in”.

In a seven-page hand-written letter, Mr Mann had touched upon other issues, including the case against BSP supremo Mayawati in connection with the Taj corridor, review petition by Mr KPS Gill, former Punjab DGP, death sentence of Devinder Singh Bhullar, corruption cases against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and the case against SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur in connection with the mysterious death of her daughter.


Residents gherao MC office
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 29
Agitated over a shortage of drinking water, residents of the Basti area of the city, gheraoed the office of the local Municipal Corporation here today.

Interestingly, sensing the mood of the anguished residents of the Dhukvaian, Sonaya, Sattran localities, led by Mr Kamal Sharma of the BJP, most of officials of the civic body preferred to leave their seats for some time.

Agitating residents alleged that despite their repeated complaints, the MC authorities were not doing anything to solve their problem, particularly shortage of water.

Earlier, residents of Ward No. 43 had held a protest in front of the zonal office of the MC in the Basti area.

Residents, who handed over a memorandum for the Commissioner of the civic body, said in view of the prevailing shortage of potable water, they were forced to bring water from adjoining localities. 


PSEB staff hold protest
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, August 29
Angered over the non-implementation of an agreement reached upon by the management of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the Technical Service Union (TSU), over 100 employees of the PSEB held a protest outside the office of the Executive Engineer, PSEB, Rajpura division, for two hours today.

Speaking on the occasion, representatives of the TSU said the management was backtracking from the agreement reached upon by the management on June 21 this year.

President of the TSU Sukhdev Singh and secretary Gurprashad in a joint statement alleged that the management of the PSEB was turning away from its promises.

As per the agreement, the management had agreed to give job to a family member on compassionate grounds after the death of an employee, not to give project works and workshops on contract, to scrap the Electricity Act-2003 and stop victimisation of employees besides other demands.

They threatened to intensify the agitation if the management failed to implement the agreement.

Circle president Vijay Dev, vice-president Nachtar Singh, treasurer Jatinder Singh Chadha and other representatives participated in the protest.


Usha Mata cremated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 29
Maha Mandleshwar Usha Mata was cremated this afternoon. Swami Mahadev from Khanpur Dera of Usha Mata and brother of Usha Mata Deepak Chadha from Agra lit the pyre.

More than 25,000 devotees of Usha Mata attended the cremation. Earlier, the body of Usha Mata had reached Bassi Pathana town early morning at 1 a.m. All bazaars of Bassi Pathana remained closed today as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

According to Mr Gora Lal, sevadar of the Bassi Pathana dera, ashes would be collected tomorrow and kept in the Bassi Pathana dera for three days.


Bhakra level rises to 1672 ft
Tribune News Service

Nangal, August 29
The water level of the Bhakra dam today rose to 1672 feet which is just 8 feet less than its maximum capacity to store water.

Only 22 days are left to end the filling period of the dam. The filling period, which began on May 20, would end on September 20.

The inflow of water at the Bhakra dam was 32,876 cusecs, while the outflow was 27,181 cusecs.

Sources said the BBMB will hold its monthly tomorrow with officials of the electricity and Irrigation Department of consumer states to decide on their requirements of water and electricity.

Meanwhile, more than an eight-hours power cut in urban areas and 12-hours in rural areas in Punjab will continue till September 10. Sources said power consumption in the state has reached about 1450 lakh units per day, while power supply from all sources is about 1195 lakh units.

The coal stock in Guru Gobind Singh Thermal Plant, Ropar, one of the major suppliers of power to the state, is left for nine days, which is said to be below the safety limits.


Shahbaz Khalsa launched
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
The Global United Research and Service Institute of Knowledge for Humanity (GURSIKH) today launched a Panthic organization, Shahbaz Khalsa to reach out to the rural youth and common man for spreading Gurmat, releasing religious shrines from clutches of corrupt political leadership and building a public movement against the drug menace.

Mr Ratinder Singh, president of GURSIKH, while launching the organisation said it would also make the general public and rural people aware of the reality of “deras” and the so-called “babas” or “gurus”. About 150 youths today joined the organisation during an ardas at Gurdwara Angitha Sahib.

Mr Amardeep Singh Amar, novelist, has been appointed chief sevadar for five years. Mr Jagdip Singh Faridkot, Mr Avtar Singh Delhi, Mr Kuldip Singh Batala and Mr Sukhminder Singh Karmoowal have been nominated as vice-sevadars. 


Boy falls in gutter, dies
Tribune News Service

Begowal (Kapurthala), August 29
The body of Ravinder, a seven-year-old boy of Gourav Colony, was found in a gutter. He reportedly fell into the gutter while playing here last evening.

According to information, the family of Ravinder shifted to this colony from Bhatnura Lubhana village of Jalandhar district just a fortnight back. Ravinder and his three year-old sister Rupinder were playing in the locality.

A girl living in the neighbourhood informed their mother, Charanjeet Kaur, that Rupinder had slipped into a gutter. After reaching the spot the mother took out Rupinder in an unconscious condition from the gutter and rushed to the hospital where she was declared out of danger. After this the family noticed the absence of Ravinder. On searching, the body of the boy was found in the same gutter.


Work on Ram temple within 5 yrs: Mohan Gopal Dass
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 29
Mahant Nritya Gopal Dass, president, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and Shri Krishan Janmabhoomi Seva Sansthan, declared today that work on the Ram temple would start at Ayodhya within five years.

He was talking to mediapersons at the Hanumangarhi temple.

All dharamacharayas, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal would launch a "parchand janjagran” movement in the country for creating an atmosphere for the construction of the temple, he said.

Expressing indebtedness of Hindu samaj to the Sikh gurus for making the supreme sacrifices for the protection of the samaj, the Mahant said that if the Sikhs joined the movement of the Ram temple the construction process would get a boost.

He expressed concern over the growing incidents of conversion in the country. It was a grave threat to national unity and integrity, he warned.

He claimed that Mathura was the birth place of Lord Krishan and no masjid existed there.


Two get life term for rape, murder
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 29
The District and Sessions Judge, Mr Sham Sunder Gupta, sentenced two persons to life and rigorous imprisonment for 10 years to their two accomplices in a rape and murder case here today.

Ramu Kundlana, Sukhdev Kundlana, Salman Munda and Kishori Tirkhi, all residents of Jharkhand, were arrested by the police in November, 2004, in a rape and murder case of Champa, a maid at Panchta village near Phagwara.

The body of Champa was found in a water tank of tubewell of the village on October 30 last year.

The Sessions Judge, in his judgment, sentenced Sukhdev Kundala under Sections 302 and 34 and Ramu Kundlana under Sections 302 to life terms and imposed a fines of Rs 2,000 each, along with 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 and four years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000. In case of non-payment of the fine, an additional one-month rigorous imprisonment would have to be served upon the convicts. In his decision, Mr Gupta maintained that all sentences would run concurrently.

Salman Munda and Kishori Tirkhi were sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000.


Cotton growers save Rs 300 cr by lesser use of pesticides
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Farmers in the cotton belt of the region have reason to cheer. The reduction in the use of pesticides due to plantation of Bollgard (Bt) cotton and favourable climatic conditions have helped the cotton growers save the input costs by over Rs 300 crore so far this season.

Officials in the plant protection, Department of Agriculture , have estimated that since the crop has been largely pest free, there has been a considerable decline in the use of pesticides in the cotton fields. This has resulted in a net saving of approximately Rs 375 crore as input cost on spraying, said Dr Gurdev Singh Gill, Deputy Director in the department.

As many as six varieties of BT cotton have been extensively sown for the first time in the state in over 1.25 lakh acres of the Malwa belt. As a result, these cotton growers did not have to face the attack of American bollworm. Officials maintain that much of the pesticides were being used in the previous years for killing American bollworm but there have been no reports of any such attack this year.

According to information available, so far the farmers have sprayed their cotton plantations twice only as compared to 6-8 sprays in the corresponding period last year.

Dr M.S Sandhu, in charge cotton crop, said that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Insect Resistance management (IRM) programmes being undertaken by the department with the help of a private group in nearly 190 villages in the belt had also extensively helped the cotton growers save the input costs. Farmers have been made aware and trained not to go on in for blind spraying, but should focus on need-based spraying.

Earlier, farmers would approach the `arhtiyas’ at the local grain market for buying pesticides as soon as they would notice any disease on the crop.

Dr Gill explained that one or two rounds of pesticides had been mainly used to eliminate sucking pests like aphid, jassid and white fly, besides tobacco caterpillar. None of the harmful insects had afflicted the cotton crop this season .

Even the company representatives of leading pesticide companies like Monsanto and Syengta India confirm that pesticides sales this year so far had been only about Rs 100 crore. In the previous years, the sales had been to the tune of Rs 400 crore during the season.

Heavy losses due to severe damage by bollworms is reportedly one of the reasons behind the country’s comparative low cotton production. Referring to Government of India’s official estimates, Mumbai-based firm Monsanto India Limited claims that Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan had earlier suffered a colossal loss of Rs 1,363. 6 crore.

Experts add that the economic benefits of Bt cotton came from its superior bollworm control. It results in cost saving of 50 per cent on insecticides and labour. 


Premature plucking leads to early arrival of cotton
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 29
Premature plucking by a section of farmers has led to the early arrival of cotton in the cotton market here. Surprisingly, if cotton farmers’ are to be believed then unauthorised bt varieties are dominiating the market.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Ashok Kumar, an arhitya, said 100 quintals of cotton arrived in the market today only. He said though there was some wetness in cotton its quality was better compared to previous years.

He said cotton growers were getting a price of anywhere between Rs 1740-Rs 1770 from private buyers as against this year’s MSP of Rs 1835. Mahinder Singh, a farmer from Mehta village, brought four quintals of cotton. He has sown cotton on 30 acres and is satisfied with initial yield. Surjit Singh hailing from Chuge Khurd village has come with 3.6 quintals of cotton. He had sown cotton on 1.5 acres of land. Iqbal Singh, another farmer from Mehma village, appeared content with first phase of plucking and hopes to reap a rich harvest in the coming two weeks. Sources in the market said the arrival would pick up after 15-20 days. Sources said the sale of 200 quintals had already taken place in the last 3 to 4 days.

When contacted, Chief Agricultural Officer, PS Aulakh, said early maturing varieties of cotton had arrived in the market. He said production of these varieties might fall short as compared to that of varieties sown in time. 


Farmers to intensify agitation
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 29
Farmers of Fatehgarh Chhanna, Dhaula and Sanghera villages under the banner of the Ujaara Roko Sanghursh Committee, and protesting against the Government move to acquire their 376 acres, have decided to intensify their stir. The next course of action will be announced on September 1.

Stating this here today, Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian, president of the Punjab Khetiwadi Kisan Vikas Front said. The fast, by the action committee since August 16 in Barnala was continuing. 


Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 29
The police has unearthed a gang of thieves and arrested three of its members.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, said here today that three members of this gang, Bhag Mal, alias Babbu, a son of Darshan Lal of Allahabad, Bunti, a son of Sat Pal, and Vinod Kumar, alias Khanna, a son of Chanan Ram, both residents of local Mohalla Khanpuri Gate, were arrested.

With their arrest a theft case on the night of July 11, 2005, in Mohalla Ekta Nagar had been solved.

He said the miscreants broke opened the locks of the house of Amit Gupta of Ekta Nagar while he, along with other members of his family, was serving “langar” to the pilgrims at Adamwal.

The miscreants took away gold ornaments and cash from the house. A case was registered in this connection.

The SSP said the stolen gold ornaments and watches had been recovered from them.


Vehicles carrying 215 bottles of liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 29
In a dramatic incident, some alert liquor smugglers fled, leaving behind two vehicles and consignment of illicit liquor, after they sensed police presence near Reru village and at another point near the milk plant on the city outskirts today.

The consignment of about 215 bottles of liquor was suspected to have been smuggled from Himachal Pradesh, where liquor prices were comparatively low.

Sub-Inspector Surinder Pal of the Maqsudan police station received an information that a group of smugglers were in the process of transporting illicit liquor, brought from Himachal Pradesh, and their current location could be anywhere near the city on the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway. Subsequently, a naka was put up near Reru village. But a Tata 207 vehicle, coming from Pathankot stopped at a short distance before the naka and a group of persons travelling in it fled away after leaving their vehicle behind.

The police searched the vehicle, which, in turn, led to seizure of 92 bottles of illicit liquor.

In a similar fashion, a group of people travelling in an Esteem left their car just short of a naka near a milk plant and its subsequent search yielded 123 bottles of illicit liquor, which was also said to have been smuggled from Himachal Pradesh.

Though no arrest could be made, but the police was examining the documents of the abandoned vehicles to ascertain their ownership.


In-laws booked for dowry death
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 29
A case of dowry death of Gurpreet Kaur resident of Kala Afgana village, allegedly by her in-laws was registered at Fatehgarh Churian.

Dr Jatindra Kumar Jain, SSP, Batala, told mediapersons here today that Gurpreet Kaur, stayed at Kot Khalsa, Amritsar, got married on November 02, 2003, with Sarwan Singh of Kala Afgana village she was pregnant at the time of her death. Soon after the marriage, her in-laws started demanding dowry and constantly asking her for bringing dowry. Many a time, she was severely beaten up and sent back to her parents’ house.

It was further told by Dr Jain that on August 26, Sarwan Singh, her husband, brought her back to the village on his personal surety, and on the next day, she was murdered by her in-laws.

Someone from the victim’s village telephonically informed the girl’s parents that their daughter had died of heart attack. Mr Gurdeep Singh, father of victim, on seeing her daughter’s body, found string marks on her neck and reported the matter to the police station, Kala Afgana.

Sub-Inspector Hardev Singh, along with a police party immediately sent the body post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital, Batala. Relatives of the deceased got the body after the post-mortem examination today.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered at Fateh Garh Churian police station against the husband, Manjot Singh brother-in-law and Monu (sister-in-law) under Section 304 - B and 34 IPC.

No arrest has been made so far in this regard till the filing of this news.


Youth held for cheating Dalit girl
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 29
The Khuyiansarwer police last night arrested Sanjeev Kumar on the charge that he and his parents had allegedly refused to accept Rubina (name changed), a Dalit girl, as bride. Other members of the family have left Sappanwali village overnight without telling anyone. Residents of the village this morning found their house locked.

The family had sought two days’ time to consider the decision of the village panchayat that Sanjeev of Kumhar community should marry Rubina, who is six-month pregnant. Sanjeev had allegedly promised to marry her and took Rubina to Sriganganagar, Salasar and Bikaner in Rajasthan. He was living with her in a rented room at Ashok Vihar, New Delhi. Rubina got pregnant and it could not be terminated as it involved high risk.

To convince Rubina Sanjeev reportedly told her that their parents were ready for their marriage. They arrived here by a train but he deserted her at the railway platform.


2 held for gangrape
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 29
The Ropar police today arrested Muna Dina and Lakhwinder Singh for their alleged involvement in the gangrape case of a 33-year-old city resident.

The two were identified by the victim and the police is conducting raids to arrest the other accused involved in the case.

The victim was allegedly abducted from near the old bridge by four persons in a car on Friday and raped in a farmhouse near Kakot village.

The victim alleged that she was forced to consume wine and drugs in the night by the accused.

She said two of them next afternoon left her in Ropar in another car.


Fast by students over admission issue
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
Last year’s students of Khalsa college who were denied admission this year by the Academic Council today sat on fast to press acceptance of their demands.

Mr Parampal Singh leader of the students said that Mr Karanpuri and Mr Milap Singh who were refused admission in the college sat on fast in the Ganga building area on main G T Road 300 metres away from college. Dr Daljit Singh, principal of the college had taken a stay order against strike or any protest in or around the 300 metres periphery of the institute as the protesting students used to stop students outside the college. He said the students would protest till they get admissions in the college.

He said the admissions in the other college had ended and they would not be able to get admissions there. He said usually college gives admission to their students. But this was unprecedented that a college refused admission to own students. He said they would continue their protest till their demands were met.

Meanwhile, “Ardas Divas” was celebrated in the Khalsa College with bhog of Sri Akhand Path to seek blessings of the Almighty at the start of the academic session 2005-2006.


Stay on vet varsity cheers PAU unions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 29
There was joy and excitement on the Punjab Agricultural University campus as the news of Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the start of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University spread here today. A petition in this regard was filed by the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Union (PAUTA) and the Punjab Agricultural University Employees Union.

The two unions had challenged the setting up of the university on various grounds saying that although the government could set up a university, but it could not bifurcate the existing university. The High Court has stayed the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Act which had come into effect from August 9.

Senior PAUTA leaders, including Dr Hari Singh Brar, said the agricultural universities had been set up across the country after a thorough research was conducted jointly by the Indian and US experts. Where as the veterinary university had been conceived by a few people only without looking into its practical aspects. Moreover, the PAUTA leaders, argued that the experts at the national and international levels had always insisted on the integrated study of agricultural, animal and veterinary sciences.

Reacting to the stay, the Punjab Agricultural University Employees Union leaders said, “All political parties, including the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, had given their nod to the setting up of the veterinary university without examining the practical and technical aspects”. They said, instead they should have taken a prior opinion from experts, scientists and planners on such an issue concerning national development.

The setting up of the veterinary university was unanimously opposed by the PAUTA, non-teaching employees, PAU Students’ Association, PAU Class IV Workers Union, Punjab Agri Technocrats Action Committee and several farmers’ organisations.

The union leaders reiterated that they were not against the setting up of the new independent university but they were against the bifurcation of PAU.


Pbi varsity, IHBT sign MoU
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Punjabi University and the Institute of Himalayan Bio resources Technology (IHBT) to initiate academic and research programmes between the two institutes in the areas of bioscience, biotechnology and chemical sciences on the university campus here today.

According to the MoU, the IHBT scientists will take part in the teaching and research programmes pertaining to biotechnology, pharmacy, zoology, botany and chemistry, at the university. On its part, Punjabi University will recognise the IHBT as an accredited centre for pursuing research leading to Ph.D degree.

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