P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM defends free power to farmers
Says govt can do without World Bank aid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today stuck to his guns on the free power issue, by saying that even if World Bank thought free power was a hurdle in helping Punjab, the state had enough resources to go ahead with such policies.

“World Bank has been following the policy of dangling the carrot . If it comes to our assistance, we will be happy, but even if it does not and think’s that free power is a bottleneck, we will go on our own,” the Chief Minister said at a function to present Udyog Ratna Awards to industrialists here today.

Making a forceful plea for fulfilling the poll promise, he said the state could not renege on its commitment. This was imperative in view of shrinking landholdings and low earnings in agriculture. “Once we make a commitment, it has to be met. Three years ago, when the Congress came to power, the state was in a shambles. Since then, revenue has gone up and so have exports,” he said, while explaining on the need to provide free power to farmers in the state.

Reiterating his government’s commitment on abolition of octroi, he said : “We are abolishing octroi. But before that various aspects have to be dealt with as the abolition would cost us almost Rs 750 crore.”

He said the state was on a growth trajectory where attaining an annual growth rate of 9 to 10 per cent would be easily achievable in the coming days. “Land rates have gone up manifold in the last could of months, which shows that those who are making investment in real estate see Punjab as a rapidly growing state.”

On the ongoing power crisis in the state, the Chief Minister said over 27 per cent of plan expenditure was going towards power. “The government is taking all measures to improve generation. We have tied up with GAIL for gas pipeline and even a leading private company is interested in investing in the power sector.” He said he, too, had to sweat it out during power cuts.

He said the state was an attractive investment destination. “Ludhiana will soon get major investment from a leading IT company,” he said. Asserting that developing infrastructure was a priority with the government, he said a tie-up with the UAE for constructing an outer ring road had been effected. He said he was open to the idea of making the airport at Chandigarh international.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, attributed the current situation to lack of proper planning, which should have been done 10 to 15 years ago. “Planning, which should have been done 10 to 15 years ago, was not done. However, the government is making all efforts to improve the power situation,” he said.

The Chief Minister later presented Udyog Ratna Awards to 24 industrialists for their contribution towards economic development at the centenary celebration function of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Dalit girl ‘held hostage’ in Singapore
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 7
Among hundreds of cases of duped Punjabi youths trapped in different foreign countries, the incident of a Dalit girl hailing from Dhurkot Kalan village of the district being “held hostage” in Singapore has shocked one and all here.

The parents of the girl in question, Veerpal Kaur, alleged that a woman travel agent had held their daughter hostage and feared that she might be pushed into flesh trade. Her father, Mahinder Singh, who works as a daily wage worker said he had sent his daughter to Singapore last year in a bid to boost their family’s monetary condition. He paid Rs 51,000 to a Moga-based travel agent who tied up with his woman companion in Singapore to pave the way for Veerpal’s immigration. Her mother Amar Kaur said they last received her letter on May 29, 2004, in which she had narrated her tragic story. Showing her letters, they alleged that the agent, who also got her employed, snatched $ 700 from her earnings and later accused her of stealing $ 18,000 from a house. They alleged that the agent was not letting her go so as to recover the “stolen amount”. In a letter to her parents, Veerpal alleged ill-treatment and a bid to outrage her modesty at the house where she was employed. She also attempted suicide after this incident. When her parents took up the matter with the travel agent in Moga he said, “Your daughter has stolen $ 18,000 and in lieu of it she would have to work in Singapore for her entire life. If you want her back you will have to pay Rs 3 lakh that I would send to Singapore to ensure her release.”

Her parents alleged that despite complaints to the government no action had been taken so far. However, district police officials said the probe was on in the matter. Meanwhile, Lok Bhalai Party chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia has extended a helping hand to the aggrieved family. In a statement released here, he said the party would stage a dharna outside the DC’s office demanding government help for Veerpal’s release on September 16.


Retired teachers on warpath
Demand restoration of pension
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 7
The freeze on pension by the Congress Government in the state in 2003 has left retired teachers from private aided schools in the lurch. For Mangu Ram and others like him who struggled to get pension for teachers of private aided schools in the state implemented, it is a bigger blow.

The government, however, says teachers, retiring after date of freeze imposed on pension, irrespective of their years of service, will be covered under a new pension scheme, which is in the pipeline.

They are demanding that new recruitments should be brought under the preview of the new pension sheme, while the teachers serving for over three decades must be given their due.

Private aided schoolteachers were granted pension benefits as per the Pension Act, 1992, after a lot of struggle. The Congress government froze the pension on May 31, 2003, and ordered grant for pension only to those who retired by May 31, 2003.

The affected teachers have now threatened to take to the streets, demanding restoration of their pension.

A state awardee and Principal of MDSE Senior Secondary School, Dr Ashok Chaudhary, says the government has Rs 100 crore lying with it which has been collected through the fund deposited by these teachers for getting pension. Since the money is not being refunded, the interest on it can be utilised to pay pension to these teachers, he says.

However, the government is adamant on its decision.

The Secretary, School Education, Tejinder Kaur, said, “ The government’s decision is final in this regard and those retiring after the cut-off date will be covered under the new pension policy, which is yet to be finalised.”


Witness in Ravi Sidhu case threatened
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 7
An official witness in the graft case of the former PPSC Chairman Mr Ravi Sidhu, Mr Prem Sagar, has alleged that some persons who got their candidate selected for the post of DSP by shelling out money have threatened him through “Babbar Khalsa” to recover their amount.

At the same time, he suspected that it might be a ploy to frighten him as the letter had been written on a plane paper and not on any letterhead. He said the letter had ‘Babbar Khalsa Zindabad’ written on its top.

Mr Sagar accused a former police official and his son, who is also a Congress leader, of threatening to eliminate his entire family. He alleged that first they were threatening him on phone and now they had shot off a letter, demanding Rs 60 lakh, which they had paid for the selection of the police official’s younger son. The selection of the ex-police official’s son was scrapped after the scam came to light. Mr Sagar had stated before a special judge that Sidhu had handed over Rs 60 lakh to a person working as Markfed DM for the job. He had given the same statement before the investigating agency.

Mr Sagar said he had apprised CM, DGP, ADGP (Security) and SSP of the situation. He said when he became an official witness he was promised three gunmen, but got two, of which only had got a weapon. He said he had got only one firearm, while his son was yet to get a licence for the same.

Meanwhile, the SP (H), Mr Surjeet Singh, said the DSP (D) had been asked to probe into the matter.


Docs protest against NPA row
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, September 7
The doctors of the civil hospital here today protested against the non-practicing allowance (NPA) controversy. Wearing black badges, they raised slogans against the Finance Department for raising controversy regarding the payment of their NPA on the revised basic pay.

The doctors in Punjab are paid 25 per cent NPA on the basic pay. The controversy started after 50 per cent dearness allowance was merged with basic pay as per the implementation of the new pay commission report. This increased the basic pay of doctors beyond the upper cap of Rs 25000 per month in Punjab.

The Director, Health Services, following the Central pattern, increased the upper cap of the basic pay of the doctors to Rs 38500 per month that was the pay of the Chief Secretary. This was done to retain the existing formula of paying 25 per cent NPA to the doctors over the basic pay. However, the finance department has objected to the raising of the upper limit of basic pay for the doctors.

It has ordered the department concerned to recover the extra amount paid to the doctors for the month of August and pay them further as per the earlier basic pay cap of Rs 25000. If the upper limit of the basic pay was restricted to Rs 25000 and the NPA was not paid to doctors according to the increased basic pay the each doctor suffered a financial loss ranging from Rs 1500 to Rs 4000 per month.

The protesting doctors today alleged that the officials of the Finance Department were unnecessarily creating hurdles in the payment of their NPA as per the new basic pay. The doctors across the state would launch a state-wide agitation in case their revised salaries were not released by the department.

BATHINDA: PCMS doctors of Bathinda today assembled at the Civil Hospital gate wearing black badges to protest against non-fulfillment of their “long-pending genuine demands” and “discriminatory decision” of Finance Department regarding NPA on dearness pay, PG increments and conveyance allowance.

The doctors sought the Chief Minister’s intervention on the issue. They demanded that the letter of Finance Department denying the benefit of NPA be withdrawn. They sought PG allowance/increment to all post-graduate in service doctors, besides conveyance allowance as recommended by the fourth Punjab Pay Commission. Their other demands included clearance of probation of doctors of 1998 at the earliest. In Mansa also, Senior PCMS Doctors Forum and PCMS Association organised a protest.


Pre-’47 soldiers get financial benefits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today sought to rectify a “historical shortcoming” by equating gallantry of soldiers who had fought for British Army in the pre-Independence era with those of who had fought for the Independent India after 1947.

Addressing ex-servicemen after inaugurating a war museum, only of its kind, in north India, near Amaltas here today evening, he extended all financial benefits to all pre 1947 soldiers, recipients of Mention in Dispatches (MID) by the British with effect from the issuance of the notification dated May 5, 2005 on a par with the post 1947 recipients.

Under the May-5 notification, the state government equated winners of Victoria Cross, a medal awarded by the British gallantry awards by the Indian Army.

It is historical fact that it was mainly the Army of the Patiala princely state which participated with the British forces in the World War I and II when the wave of freedom struggle gripped the country. It was also a fact that it was the Patiala state army that virtually saved the country’s frontiers in the Indo-Pak war of 1948.

“Bravery is Bravery, whether it was before Independence or after Independence.” said the Chief Minister while announcing the equating of the awards. Minutes before him, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Jails and Defence Services Malkiat Singh Birmi praised forces of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala state which had helped the British forces in the two world wars.

The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs.7.25 crore for the completion of the remaining galleries to be constructed in the memory of the soldiers who laid down their lives in the World Wars, 1965 Indo-China war and two Indo-Pak wars.

He urged the youth to join defence services to serve their motherland thereby following the legacy of our gallant soldiers who laid down their lives for safeguarding the borders from the internal and external aggression and had always been on the forefront from times immemorial.

Earlier, the Chief Minister paid floral tributes to valiant soldiers at the memorial and visited the three galleries namely Ancient History, war Heroes and Kargil Galleries.

He disbursed grant of Rs 1 lakh each to the eligible ex-servicemen and their widows to the extent of 
Rs 52 lakh.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary Jails and Defence Services M.S.Birmi thanked the Chief Minister for various decisions taken during the past three years for the welfare of the ex-servicemen and their families.

Mr BIS Chahal, Adviser to Chief Minister, Mrs Geetika Kalha, Principal Secretary Defence Services Welfare, Brig J.S. Jaswal, Director Sainik Welfare and Vajra 11 corps Lt-Gen Mandata Singh were among those present on the occasion.


‘White paper’ sought on fuel price hike
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, September 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) today asked the Union Government to issue a “White paper” on the hike in the prices of the petroleum products.

Talking to mediapersons here, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the SAD (Longowal), said the Union Government should immediately withdraw the hike. He further said any hike in the prices of petroleum products would adversely hit the agriculture and industry sectors. Prof Chandumajra said the hike would badly hit the economy of the state.

Commenting on the free power supply to all farmers in Punjab by the Amarinder government, he said it was a good step, but the government should now ensure adequate power supply to the tubewells. He also criticised the previous SAD-BJP government and the Amarinder government for not initiating steps to increase power generation in the state.

Prof Chandumajra asked Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of the SGPC, that there was no need to approach the Supreme Court to decide that the Sikhs were not a part of the Hindu religion. He said this issue had already been settled by Guru Gobind Singh when he created “Khalsa Panth”. So the Sikhs did not need any certificate from any court in this regard.

PHAGWARA: The SAD- BJP and the BSP leaders, including Jarnail Singh Wahid, organising secretary, SAD-cum-member SGPC, and Ch Swarna Ram, state vice-president, BJP, and former minister, Ashok Sandhu, secretary, BSP, Punjab have flayed the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel and demanded its roll back.

In separate statements here on Wednesday, they alleged that the increase of Rs 3 and Rs 2 per litre in the price of petroleum products would break the back bone of the public, especially the common and the poor persons.

The hike in the price of diesel would further worsen the condition of debt-ridden farmers, added the leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashok Sandhu, state secretary, BSP, Punjab said the Congress government had increased the price of petroleum products five times during its one and a half year rule. He further said it would hit severely farmers, transporters, commoners and middleclass. It would also aggravate unemployment as those youths engaged in small-time transport/taxi jobs would find it difficult to bear the brunt of the skyrocketing hike, added Mr Sandhu.

Ms Krishna Kainth, chairperson, Phagwara Block Samiti, Ms Jasvir Kaur Khera, member, Zila Parishad, Kapurthala, Mr Harbhajan Khalwara, former member Zila Parishad, several sarpanches and panches also flayed the hike.

JALANDHAR: The Communist Party Marxist (CPM) has strongly protested against the price hike of petrol and diesel by the Union Government. At a meeting held under the chairmanship of the CPM state secretary, Mr Chander Shekhar, the party passed a resolution against the petrol price hike and the members condemned the decision of the Union Government.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Member of Parliament and the BJP Chief, Punjab, strongly condemned the price hike of petrol and diesel at a party meeting here on Wednesday. Mr Khanna alleged that the price hike had crossed all the limits during the regime of the UPA government. This would affect the common man. He further strongly criticised the Left parties for posing them as protectors of the poor. But they always remained silent spectators whenever the UPA government had hiked the prices of petrol and diesel, he alleged. Mr Khanna demanded the immediate withdrawal of hike in petroleum products

Mr Tikshan Sud, leader of legislatures of the BJP in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, also condemned the price hike.

He said the hike would further increase the prices of essential commodities. 


Suspicious calls to CM: DGP hopeful of breakthrough
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Punjab police is trailing a man who has been calling up Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, posing as Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil. The same person allegedly called up the Chief Minister claiming to be Pillai, a secretary of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The police has managed to lay its hands on two telephone numbers, said the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk. The DGP refused to give out details, saying that they are trailing a few persons and a result may be out soon.

Sources in the police said one of the phone calls was made from a mobile number.

A few days ago a man had called up the Moti Bagh residence of the Chief Minister in Patiala. He claimed to be Union Home Minister Patil and even addressed Capt Amarinder Singh by his first name. The Chief Minister reportedly could not recognise the voice as that of the Home Ministers.

The caller surprised everyone in the Chief Minister’s security when he called up the Chief Minister’s retreat in Dochi, Solan district.

The telephone exchange in both places have recorded the incoming numbers but there is no voice recording.


Student’s death: Principal’s car smashed in protest
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 7
Irate students of the GGS Institute of Modern Technology here today smashed the car of the principal before going on strike to protest against his alleged “inaction” in dealing with the death of a student in an accident yesterday.

A diploma student of the institute, Rishi Sharma, a resident of Dadu Majra, Chandigarh, was crushed to death and two other students were injured when the motorcycle they were riding was run over by a tractor-trolley on the busy Morinda- Kharar highway yesterday afternoon.

Agitated students gathered this morning on the Kharar-Ludhiana main road that leads to the college and stopped the Principal’s car from entering inside. They started hitting the car, trapping the Principal inside. He barely managed to get out and rush to the safety of the college campus before the students vent their wrath on the car which was smashed and turned turtle by the students.

The students alleged that they had called the Principal for help the moment they came to know about the accident but he carelessly told them that he was having his lunch and would deal with the incident later. The students raised slogans against the Principal and announced to go on strike till appropriate action was taken against the Principal by the institute management.

According to the Kharar DSP, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, angry students had in fact started agitating outside the Civil Hospital gate yesterday when the Principal finally arrived but the situation was brought under control by the police and the SDM, Kharar, who was also there.

The Principal could not be contacted for comments. However, Mr S.P. Sachdeva, college Chairman, said he would be looking in to the matter and talk to both the students and the Principal about the issue. The Chairman added that all possible assistance had been provided to the family of the student who had died and those of the injured.

Rishi Sharma was driving the motorcycle while his two friends, Parminder Singh, a resident of Patiala, and Parminder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, were riding pillion when the accident took place. Eyewitnesses told the police that the three were first hit by a car and they fell down from the motorcycle. A tractor-trolley coming behind them then ran over them. Rishi died on the spot and his friends, one of whom was critically injured, were removed to the Kharar Civil Hospital.

Parminder Singh of Patiala was later shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh, following deterioration of his condition. He is said to be in a stable condition.


People join hands against drug menace
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Disappointed over the failure of the Punjab Government and its various organs to check the menace of drugs, people have themselves started public action against the drug mafia operating in the Khizrabad-Kurali-Ropar- Anandpur Sahib belt. Drugs have ruined several families and led to the death of a number of youths.

Several sarpanches, panches and youths have joined hands under the banner of the Area Reformation Committee( ARC), headed by Mr Kamal Kishore, to launch a peaceful struggle against drug peddlers, the owners of medical stores involved in the sale of narcotics and the mafia operating behind the scenes in the trade. It is the first public action of its kind in the state on a social issue.

Though the Punjab Government has been making tall claims with regard to the tackling of the drug menace, it is virtually spreading like wildfire in the countryside. It appears that police officials, drug controlling officials, and government agencies, which should have checked the sale of narcotics, have shut their eyes for “ obvious” reasons.

Though everything is happening in front of government officials working in the countryside, none of them dares to take action. It appears that the government has lost touch with people and is depending wholly on its administrative machinery that always paints a rosy picture before those who decide the postings of officials.

The Tribune team visited several drug-affected villages in the Kurali-Ropar belt. It came across several tales of woe of families ruined by the use of drugs in Khizrabad, Thana Gobindgarh and other places. There is, perhaps, not a single village in the area which is free from the drug menace. In almost every village a good number of youths have become drug addicts. The use of various kinds of cough syrups, sedative tablets, ganja and poppy husk is common among drug addicts.

As the number of addicts in the area is growing, petty thefts have also increased manifold in the belt. Villagers say addicts resort to petty thefts.

What surprises one is the opening of a large number of chemist shops in the areas. In fact, there are villages which have a good number of chemist shops but no doctor. Why have these shops been opened? Most of the owners of these shops sell drugs to youth, says Mr Kamal Kishore, chairman of the ARC.” In the first phase we have started pasting posters on walls in all villages against the use of drugs and their sellers”, he adds, describing the use of drugs as the biggest crisis of the new century so far in Punjab.

Besides, he says they have formed a youth club in each village that will act as a vigilante group against the sellers of drugs.

Led by him, several youths today took an oath in Kubaheri village, 40 mm from here, to join the public action against drugs. Mr Som Nath Verma and Mr Parbodh Joshi, both social activists, say that Kurali has emerged as the biggest centre as far as sale of drugs and narcotics is concerned. Most of the chemists take drugs from Kurali for sale in villages. As the committee has started exerting pressure on chemists involved in the narcotics trade, they have started selling drugs through their agents who move about in villages on bicycles.


Grabbing properties conman’s aim, says Bishop
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
The visit of an alleged imposter, claiming himself to be Metropolitan of church of India (Anglican), CIPBC (Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon) in the Holy City, and consequently spreading ‘disinformation’ has created ripples in church circles here.

Taking a serious view of the ‘disinformation campaign’ of the alleged imposter, Bishop of Amritsar The Rt. Rev. P.K. Samantaroy today called upon masses to beware of such elements that wanted to ‘grab’ the church properties in connivance with the ‘land mafia’. The Bishop said the church was contemplating legal action against the ‘imposter’ who wanted to dupe the gullible persons in the name of church.

The Bishop of Amritsar, however, clarified that CIPBC, in its three -day ordinary session of the general council held at Kolkata, from January 2, 1970, had passed a resolution to join Union of Six denominations of the Church to form Church of North India (CNI) which was inaugurated on November 29 at Nagpur. Hence, no church in the name of the CIPBC existed. Anybody claiming himself, as office bearer of the CIPBC was ‘illegal’, he claimed.

The Bishop of Amritsar produced documentary proof which shows that the person who had made ‘important’ statements in a press conference, held in a four star hotel here last week regarding the church properties was in fact a ‘conman’ who was already booked in certain fraud cases. The Bishop of Amritsar alleged that the sole purpose of the ‘conman’ was to grab the church properties. He sought high-level probe into the whole matter. He urged the Chief Minister and Director General Police to order immediate arrest of all those who were making attempts to usurp the properties belonging to Christians in the name of church.

Mr Daniel B. Dass, Coordinator Socio Economic Development Programme (SEDP), and Rev Ayub Daniel ,Finance Officer of Diocese of Amritsar and Treasurer , Amritsar Diocesan Trust Association , in a joint statement said that the church would not allow anybody to grab the church properties at any cost . They said that action would be taken against such persons after consulting legal experts. 


More than 1450 trees felled
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, September 7
A major part of green cover in the local milk plant has been chopped off by the authorities concerned during the past few days.

Though the authorities concerned claimed that only those trees had been cut which had dried up, the local Divisional Forest authorities claimed that a majority of the chopped trees were young and green.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that more than 1,400 trees of eucalyptus, shesham, kikar and other species were felled and subsequently sold off by the milk plant authorities for about Rs 12 lakh.

The milk plant authorities had been planning to plant 5,000 saplings of different varieties to compensate the loss of the green cover. The authorities have also caused a considerable damage to a section of trees growing in the protected forest area running between its boundary wall and the main road.

Mr Narinder Singh, General Manager, Milk Plant, said trees had been felled only after the completion of required formalities. While Ms M. Geethanjali, Divisional Forest Officer, said the forest authorities had assessed those trees and had given the estimate cost to the milk plant authorities. She said forest authorities could only suggest them not to cut the trees but could not take action as the trees were on the land owned by the establishment.

She said notice would be issued to the milk plant authorities for damaging trees, which fell under the protected forest area.


Nagar Council poll re-scheduled
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 7
The poll for the two posts of Vice-Presidents of Phagwara Nagar Council have been re-scheduled. These will now be held on September 15 instead of September 9. The schedule was fixed by Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Mr Sameer Kumar, who had delegated the powers of Observer for these polls to Phagwara SDM Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal.

When contacted, Nagar Council president Malkiat Singh Ragbotra confirmed the re-scheduling of poll for the two posts.

Sources said that the election date was reportedly modified as local Congress MLA-cum-Chairman, Punjab Agro and Foods Corporation Joginder Singh Mann had gone abroad. Mr Mann was ex-officio member of the council. He was expected to return from his foreign trip here within a day or two, said sources.

The term of the previous vice-presidents had expired on July 17. The two vice-presidents were elected for a term of one year. It would be the third such election of vice-presidents of the Council.

While one contender was elected as senior vice-president, the other was elected as vice-president. Though the ruling party had a comfortable majority in the 28-member council, the Opposition combine of SAD-BJP-BSP had managed to get their candaidate Iqbal Singh Kundi of SAD elected as vice-president last year. The ruling party’s Sanjeev Bugga was then elected as senior vice-president. Since both these incumbents had outlived their term, the September 15 schedule was fixed for filling these two offices through election.

Since the ruling party is plagued with factionalism, the consensus is likely to elude it this time.Its three fiuding groups, headed by local MLA Joginder Singh Mann, Improvement Trust chairman Balbir Raja Sodhi and former trust chairman Harjit Singh Parmar have foelded their own contenders for these posts.


Normalcy returning as sweepers call off stir
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 7
The situation in the city was limping back to normal after decision to call off the strike by sweepers on the intervention of local MP Rana Gurjeet Singh here today afternoon.

The sweepers in the city had decided to go on indefinite strike in protest against the damage at Bhagwan Balmiki Chowk and demanding withdrawal of cases filed against Dalits for their alleged involvement in the violent incidents including attacks on a gurdwara and a temple during the bandh on Monday against Gohana incidents.

The influence of Rana Gurjeet Singh on the administration and social organisations proved handy to defuse the communal tension which erupted in the city following attacks on a gurdwara and a temple by unruly mob and subsequent damage to the Bhagwan Balmiki Chowk by anti-social elements.

On Monday, immediately after the violent incidents Rana was successful in making the opposite factions like BJP, Bajrang Dal, Akali Dal and Dalit organisations reach a compromise and not to escalate the tension at a peace committee meeting while assuring strict action against the police authorities and district administration for their failure to tackle the situation properly.

Though the orders for transfer of Kapurthala SSP were released yesterday evening, it was an open secret for Kapurthala media on Monday evening, that the post of local SSP was being replaced by Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, due to annoyance of the MP with district police chief for his failure in handling the situation properly.

But protesting against the registration of police cases against Dalit leaders on Monday, the sweepers of the city had declared the strike for indefinite period.

Today again the MP was successful in breaking the ice after assuring the Dalits at a meeting that their grievances will be redressed amicably by involving the other aggrieved groups within five days.

After the meeting, Mr Kulwant Singh Bhandari, a prominent Dalit leader and Chairman of Improvement Trust, Kapurthala, announced the withdrawal of strike by the sweepers in the city.

Meanwhile, Mr Samir Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the public to file their claims for damages caused to their properties in violent incidents of Monday at SDM or DC office, Kapurthala.


Police to buy rubber bullets for mob control
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Punjab police plans to buy rubber bullets for controlling mobs and unruly crowds. These bullets do not cause serious injury but create fear among mobs.

Similar bullets have been acquired by major police forces across the country. Rubber bullets and rubber batons, again aimed at avoiding serious injury, are part of a Rs 26 crore modernisation programme approved for the Punjab police. The Punjab Government has sent a communication to the police indicating the release of the money.

The modernisation plan for this year is pegged at Rs 64 crore. Forty per cent of the amount is to be given by the state government while the rest will come from the Centre.

Another major initiative this year is a centrally sponsored scheme for computerising all police stations in the state and connecting these to the police headquarters here. Also, all police stations will be interconnected. Besides, other police stations across the country will be online, providing for good feedback and faster communication.

The modernisation plan includes the construction of eight new police stations, and the purchase of special equipment to check overspeeding.

On managing traffic on the highways, the police plans to buy new vehicles. A forensic laboratory is to be set at the Punjab Armed Police lines in Jalandhar.

The police has already purchased 10 vapour detectors costing Rs 2.5 crore. These help detect explosives. Last month, 42 sniper rifles were bought from an Austrian company.

Another Rs 9 crore has been approved for the Punjab Police Housing Corporation.


PWD employees stage dharna

Abohar, Sepember7
The Technical and Mechanical Employees’ Union of PWD (B&R) and the Public Health departments today staged a dharna in front of the Public works division office here on the Malout road.

Mr Piara Singh Mangat, the vice president and other senior leaders of the union strongly criticised the Executive Engineer and other officers for abstaining from their office. They said that the officers, by adopting delaying tactics, had vitiated the environment. The Specifications were not adhered to while taking up the development works. Sub standard material was allegedly used in construction of buildings and roads. Earthwork had become a prime source of siphoning off government funds. Complaints made to the Chief Engineer and the Vigilance Directorate at Chandigarh had no response. Later, hundreds of employees, braving scorching heat, marched to the office of the Sub-divisional Magistrate to submit a memorandum. — OC


Traders protest against power cuts
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 7
Protesting against frequent power cuts, the Federation of Jalandhar Engineering Associations held a dharna in front of the office of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) here today.

The members of the association raised slogans against the board officials and used hand fans to show their protest over the erratic power supply. They said that due to the extensive power cuts, the industries had been suffering major losses for the past three months.

Mr Pramod Chopra, president, said that the board should not enforce minimum charges and should charge the bills based on actual consumption of the electricity from June onwards.


All set for 5-day ‘aagman purb’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 7
All arrangements have been made to celebrate the five-day 20th “aagman purb” of Sufi Saint Aba Sheikh Farid here from September 19.

During the programme visitors will be made aware about the historical background of this town, besides the teachings of the Sufi saint by holding heritage rallies and cultural events. The functions will start with a three-day state-level painting workshop and a drama festival depicting the life and teachinqs of the Sufi saint.

A seminar on Sufism will be held at the local Government Brijindra College.

Giving details about the programme at a press conference here today, Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, said renowned artists from North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala, will present cultural and folk programmes on September 22.

On the same day, the Waddali brothers will enthral the audience with a Sufi programme.

Besides, sports events will also be held during the celebrations.


Slow pace of projects irks Commissioner

Abohar, September 7
Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, Ferozepore division has conveyed his displeasure over the slow pace of city beautification projects. The projects had been started with the help of banks, industrialists and non -government organisations.

Mr Sidhu, at a meeting held at the sub divisional complex here today, asked sponsors of the projects to complete the work before September 30. Those present included SDM Jaskiran Singh, managers of some banks, Executive Engineers of departments concerned. — OC


Khalra’s death anniversary
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
The Khalra Mission Committee observed the tenth death anniversary of Jaswant Singh Khalra in Kabir Park here yesterday. It was informed during the meeting that a six-member committee under Justice (Retd) Ajit Singh Bains, president, Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) had been formed to include Mr K.P.S. Gill in the Khalra murder case.

This was informed in a press note by Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, PHRO.


Regiment to remember Asal Uttar battle
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 7
The Three Cavalry regiment would remember the battle of Asal Uttar fought at the borders in 1965 by organising a gala function at Pathankot on September 9 and 10.

On these dates in 1965, the Pakistani Patton tanks launched an offensive across Sutlej in Khemkaran sector to capture the Beas bridge. The idea of the Pakistan army was to capture Amritsar areas and cut off communication with Kashmir. The 3rd Cavalry regiment posted in the area thwarted the plans of the Pakistani army. The battle between the Centurion tanks of Three Cavalry and 1 Armoured Brigade and 4th Cavalry of Pakistan took place in Asal Uttar village in Bikhiwind.

In the battle, 103 Patton tanks were destroyed. The sector later came to be known as Patton Nagar “the graveyard of Pakistani tanks’. The regiment also captured the commanding officer, two Majors, one captain and 17 ORs of the Pakistani armoured brigade.

The feat earned the regiment the battle honour ‘Asal Uttar’ and theatre honour ‘Punjab 1965’. The awards list included one Maha Vir Chakra, one Vir Chakra, eight sena medals, eleven Mention-in-Dispatches and three commendation cards.

A captured Patton M-47 A-1 now stands as a war trophy with its gun fully powered in front of the regiment headquarters even today.

The regiment also led the Indian attack on Pakistan in 1971 war in the Khem Karan sector. It was the first regiment to go on offensive, crossing the Pakistan border in Operation Cactus Lily with 48 Infantry Brigade. It took active part in the capture of Shehjra bulge, a highly fortified village. Further south, the regiment participated in the battle of Hussainiwala and capture of Mamdot bulge. In the North it prevented the enemy ingress across the UBDC in Khalra sector as part of 65 infantry brigade.

The function being held at Pathankot would be attended by large number of retired officers, junior commissioned officers and other ranks who took part in the 1965 battle. The celebrations would include paying obeisance at the mandir and gurudwara, sanik sammelan, wreath laying and paying homage to the martyrs. The GOC-in-C of the 9 Corps Lt Gen Jamwal would preside over the function.


Poll code comes into force
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Punjab State Election Commission announced the imposition the code of conduct for the forthcoming elections to the two Municipal Committees and 23 Nagar Panchayats to be held on September 18.

The State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, said here today said no grants can be released out of discretionary funds by the ministers between September 5 and September 21, when the poll process would be completed. September 18 would be dry day in the areas where the polls are to be conducted. The commission also directed government employees, other than those on security duty, to stay away from election-related meetings. It also banned the use of official vehicles in the polls.

The general code of conduct governing the conduct of politicians, ministers and MLAs had also been issued to the respective District Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioners. 


Concessions likely for residents of urban areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, said here today that the state government would give concessions to those living in the urban areas.

An exercise in this connection was on and an announcement regarding the concessions would be made soon.

Mr Dullo said there was a possibility of slashing sewerage and water charges and house tax in the urban areas besides the abolition of octori. Eligible poor persons would be given plots to build houses soon, he added.


Bandh evokes good response
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 7
The bandh call given by the Kharar Block Balmiki Sabha in protest against the burning of houses belonging to the Dalits at Gohana received a good response here yesterday.

Almost all shops, except chemist shops and nursing homes, remained closed till midday. Some confrontation reportedly took place between some shopkeepers who wanted to open their shops and members of the sabha. The administration, however, intervened, and brought the situation under control.

The Sabha also organised a protest march which started from near the Pucca Darwaja and culminated at Mahavir Chowk. The protesters condemned the Gohana incident and demanded a CBI inquiry in this regard. They said that the accused should be arrested at the earliest and the affected persons should be given suitable compensation.


Woman dies ‘accidentally’
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 7
A 30-year-old married woman, a resident of Gurudwara Road here, died at the PGI today after she consumed a poisonous substance yesterday.

According to the police, her father, Mohinder Singh has said that it was an accident and they had no complaint against her daughter’s husband or anyone else. The police has handed over the body to the family after a postmortem.


Kathak Rachna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
Kathak dancer Rachna Yadav of the Lucknow gharana enthralled the audience here last evening with a riveting performance.

The performance was in three parts. The first part was titled “Guruve Namah”, a tribute to the Gurus as source of inspiration and knowledge. It had two Sanskrit shlokas. Five different taals were put together in the composition. They were: rupak, jhap, ek, dhamar and teen taal. The second part followed the traditional format, with excellent display of footwork.

The last piece celebrated the spring. Based on a bandish that described the Vasant in all its beauty, the ‘tukras’, ‘tihai’ and ‘parans’ were performed in drut laya, teen taal.

The ‘bandish’ was originally composed by Shubha Mudgal. All pieces were choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas.

The vocals were rendered by Samiullah Khan while Yogesh Gangani was on the tabla and Rakesh Prassanna played the sarod and flute.

Rachna is a late entrant to the world of classical dance. She had no consistent training in her childhood. After finishing college in Delhi, she entered the field of advertising and then moved on to interior designing.

A performance by Aditi Mangaldas inspired her to learn kathak


PCMS doctors demand promotions
Tribune news Service

Patiala, September 7
PCMS doctors have appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to undo the “injustice” done to them by the state Finance Department and accept their long-pending demands as recommended by the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission.

Dr M.S. Randhawa, Dr D.S. Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary, respectively, of the PCMS Association, Punjab, described the decision of the Finance Department as unjust and discriminatory.

They said there was strong resentment prevailing among the PCMS doctors on the issue of denial of service benefits of annual increments and time-scale promotions to the doctors of the 1998-99 batch. They have been declared ‘not tainted’ by the government. The association has demanded the clearance of the probation periods and restoration of service benefits due to the doctors who are working on the basic pay for the past six years.

They also demanded conveyance allowance on the Central Government pattern for effective implementation of the National Health Programme and PG allowance to all postgraduate doctors.


Directive on claims
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
The Deputy Commissioner’s office yesterday informed that those who had made claims before the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, on losses suffered during the 1991 Gulf War, should approach the office of the DC, along with proof within 15 days.


10-year term for three
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
Special Judge, B.S. Sodhi today sentenced Amolak Singh alias Mola (35) of Thatha village in Amritsar, Sukhbir Singh (42) and Kashmir Singh (49) both residents of Mohali to 10 years jail in the Sahnewal encounter case.

They were convicted for possessing 2 kg of heroin and fake currency notes. Attempt to murder case registered against them under Section 307 of IPC for firing on police officials to escape arrest is pending. Then SSP Ludhiana Harpeet Sidhu was awarded ‘President’s Award’ in this case. The court also fined them Rs 1 lakh each.

The accused were booked at Sahnewal Police Station, under Sections 22/29 of the NDPS Act and 489-C of the IPC on March 18, 2003.

The then SSP, Ludhiana had informed DSP-SnehDeep Sharma that accused — Sukhbir Singh and Amolak Singh were going to have a deal of narcotics and fake currency at Sahnewal. Following this the DSP went to the place at Sahnewal, with a police party.

When Sukhbir Singh handed over a bag containing heroin and fake currency to other accused, the police tried to arrest them but the accused allegedly started firing on police officials. During cross-firing, Kashmir Singh had escaped. The police had recovered two packets of heroin and fake currency notes of the denomination of Rs 500 amounting to Rs 20,000. Later the police had arrested Kashmir Singh and recovered fake currency worth Rs 36,000.


Punjab appoints 11 more law officers
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 7
Buckling under pressure from various quarters, particularly ministers and senior Congress leaders, the Punjab Government today appointed 11 new law officers in the office of Advocate-General (AG), Punjab.

In doing so, the government has again taken the total number of law officers to 80. Of the 81 law officers appointed by it earlier, 12 had refused to join as they were not satisfied with the posts given to them.

The government has also re-designated a Senior Deputy AG as Additional AG.

Incidentally, the new list also contains names of two advocates appointed as Attached Assistant AGs.

The new law officers are Mr Amol Rattan Singh, Mr R.K. Rathore, Mr Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Mr Anupinder Singh Grewal (all Additional AGs), Mr Manwinder Singh Sidhu (Senior Deputy AG), Ms Baljeet Kaur Mann and Mr Mohinder Singh Joshi (both Deputy AGs), Mr Himmat Singh Shergill, Mr Ashutosh Hoshiarpuri and Mr Amarjit Singh Ladhar (all Assistant AGs) and Mr Arshwinder Singh and Mr Deepak Kumar (both Attached Assistant AGs).

Some of the new law officers have worked in the office earlier also.

Sources say the AG, Mr Rajinder Singh Cheema, mounted a stiff resistance to the government move to appoint more law officers. Following the AG’s reluctance to have more law officers, the government scaled down the list considerably taking the plea that it was only filing the posts, which had fallen vacant due to the refusal of some previously-appointed law officers to join duty.

However, sources also added that at least half a dozen more lawyers had been assured that they would be appointed law officers soon.

With Vidhan Sabha elections less than two years away, the government might try to fit in the kin of as many supporters as possible in the AG’s office.


Vinod Khanna deposes in criminal case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 7
Former Union Minister and Member Parliament, Mr Vinod Khanna, deposed in a pending criminal case in the court of Mr R.K. Garg, SDJM, here today.

Wearing white kurta-pyjama, the Bollywood actor-turned-politician was subject to cross examination by the defence counsel, Mr Harish Pathania, for about an hour.

On September 1, 1999, when Mr Khanna was busy in his electioneering campaign he was reportedly attacked by some Congress leaders and others following which a case under Sections 342, 332, 506, 323, 160 and 427 of the IPC was registered against the accused.


Mann’s plea on Virk’s appointment dismissed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed the PIL filed by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann seeking quashing of the appointment of Mr S.S. Virk as DGP, Punjab.

During resumed hearing of the PIL, the counsel for the Punjab Government again reiterated the government’s stand that the PIL should be dismissed. It was also argued that even the Supreme Court has held that no PIL must be entertained in service matters.

On the last hearing, the government had stated that by filing such writs, Mr Mann was promoting animosity between Hindus and Sikhs. The PIL, it had asserted, should not be heard further as only public-spirited persons can file PILs and not people like the former MP, who is himself facing serious charges of sedition.

Sometime back, the High Court had directed the Union of India to furnish all relevant record pertaining to processing of extension of deputation period of Punjab DGP S.S. Virk to the court. The record to be produced included the officer’s request for change of cadre to Punjab and the status of the case.


Youth stabbed to death, 2 held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Two persons murdered a youth by stabbing him in a crowded market in Jawahar Basti allegedly over winning the love of a dancer girl employed with a local orchestra.

The Model Town police and area residents, shopkeepers managed to hold the accused youths Tony Gill and Ashok Kumar, who had allegedly stabbed the victim, Sanju, twice in the heart and several times in the abdomen today late evening.

Sanju died on the spot. Though no one came to his rescue when he was being attacked, the residents nabbed the accused who tried to flee. SI Rajesh Kumar, SHO Model Towns, and a police team, which was nearby, reached the scene and arrested the two accused. They had, in initial questioning by the police, claimed they had murdered Sanju for is alleged closeness to a dancer girl. 


Seven booked in land-grab case
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 7
Seven persons, including two women, a Patwari and a Lambardar, have been booked for grabbing a piece of land measuring about 88 kanals belonging to NRI Swarn Kaur in Sangwan village under Patti police station.

The police has registered a case under Sections 420 and 120 B, IPC, in this regard.

Police sources told this correspondent yesterday that Mrs Amar Kaur, an aged woman, a resident of Sangwan, a close relative of Mr Swarn Kaur, the NRI, got the power of attorney from her. Mrs Amar Kaur, taking advantage of the absence of Mrs Swarn Kaur, sold the land to her relatives. She sold 12 kanals to her niece, Lakhwinder Kaur, while 17 kanals were sold to Mr Ranjit Singh, another relative.

The other relatives to whom she sold the land include Mr Jassa Singh and Mr Sawinder Singh. Lamberdar Kashmir Singh and Patwari Lachhman Singh allegedly helped them in the sale.

Police sources said besides the main accused, Mrs Amar Kaur, Ms Lakhwinder Kaur, Mr Sawinder Singh and Mr Jassa Singh have also been rounded up.


13 hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 7
Thirteen persons including three women, were injured when a CTU bus collided with a car on the Ropar-Nangal road this afternoon. The seriously injured, district president of the Nationalist Congress, Jagjit Singh Jagga, was admitted to the PGI.

The mishap took place at 1 pm when the CTU bus (CH1G-8153), coming from Dharmsala to Chandigarh collided with Maruti car (DCA-6520), and fell into a field. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar, by the SHO, Sadar Police Station, Mr Varinder Singh, along with others.

Those injured include Pawan Kumar, Jasbir Singh, Ravi Kumar, Vinod Kumar, Kartar Chand, Chander, Ekta Sharma, Sarbjit Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Joginder Gupta, Sukhwinder Kaur and bus driver Ranjit Singh. 


Scooterist killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Ghanaur, September 7
One person was killed after his scooter was hit by a truck near here. The truck driver sped away after the accident.

Sources in the police said Mukhtiar Singh (40), a resident of Bhagora village, near here, who was on the way to his home on his scooter with another person. The truck hit their scooter leaving Mukhtiar Singh dead on the spot. Avtar Singh, the pillion rider, sustained serious injuries. He was admitted to a local hospital.

A case has been registered against the truck driver.


2 stamp vendors booked
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 7
On the directions of Mr Daljit Singh, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, SHO, Sirhind, booked two stamp paper vendors allegedly for selling pensions and ration card forms at Rs 20 each at the Lok Suvidha camp organised by the District Administration at Sirhind town today.

The alleged malpractice was brought to the notice of the SDM by certain journalist.

The SDM expressed his displeasure at the CDPO, Sirhind, AFSO, Sirhind and their staff for not issuing forms through a counter.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, along with Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the camp.

Many elderly persons and widows, were disappointed when they learnt they were to fill forms. Similarly, aspirants for Yellow Cards also returned disappointed. Most of the complaints and grievances were marked to the respective department heads.

The forms of more than 200 pension seekers were completed, more than 400 learning driving licences were issued.

The revenue department did more than 200 mutations, hundreds of affidavits were attested.


Law students hold protest rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
Students of the Law Department of Punjabi University held a protest rally in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, on a call given by the Punjabi University Students Confederation here today.

The incident took an ugly turn as the university authorities accused the students of hooliganism and indiscipline. The student leaders say teachers of the Law Department misbehaved with them and condemned the dictatorial attitude of the university authorities. Two students Rajinder Singh of the Punjab Students Union and Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal of the Students Federation of India have been suspended and their entry banned in the university campus.

The rally was addressed by various students leaders. They have alleged that the chairperson of the department, Mr Charanjit Singh, did not allow the students to go out for the rally while Dr Guriqbal Singh Sandhu misbehaved with the student leaders.

The students had been raising a few demands for the past some time. A meeting in this regard was held with the Vice-Chancellor on Monday. The Vice-Chancellor had agreed to most of the demands but refused to discontinue the internal assessment of the students of law. Today’s rally was in this regard.

The student leaders have alleged that the chairperson of the Law Department tried to restrain the students from participating in the rally by closing the doors of the classrooms. But the students came out to join the rally.

The university authorities maintain that the incident took place when a senior teacher was taking a class. A group of students led by their leaders entered the classroom and disrupted the class. The teacher allowed them to address the students. When no student followed them outside they tried using force. The teacher stopped them and asked them to leave. They continued to shout. The chairperson came and took them out. They returned after a few minutes and attempted to break the door. The teacher reported the matter and demanded disciplinary action.

The university authorities ‘have taken a serious view of the hooliganism and instituted an enquiry.


PAU official threatens indefinite fast

Ludhiana, September 7
Mr Sat Pall Sharma, Accounts Officer, College of Home Sciences, who has been served a show-cause notice for termination of services by the university has threatened to go on fast unto death if the orders are not withdrawn. He alleged that the decision was “illegal” and if it was not withdrawn, he would start the fast from September 13. — TNS

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |