P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Women dominate election scene in Bholath
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Bholath (Kapurthala), September 17
With majority of political parties fielding woman for a seat in the Municipal Council from different wards of Bholath township, the nagar panchayat poll here are witnessing a high drama.

Most political parties took to this strategy after a rumour went around that the MC President seat this time was reserved for a woman. As a result, as many as 18 women of the total 31 candidates are contesting elections this time from 13 wards falling in Bholath. Of these just three are reserved for women and one for SC woman.

In fact, most of these women are acting as proxy-candidates as they are hardly aware of the current civic issues and are keeping their husbands on the forefront. Even most posters pasted on the walls around the township tell the real story as the name of the women candidates is less bold than that of their husbands.

Interestingly, wives of both the prominent rival group leaders are also contesting the elections. Mr Ved Prakash, sitting President of the council is contesting from ward number 8 this time, has fielded his wife, Ms Vipin Khurana, against himself from the same ward as an independent candidate.

This had been done with a key motive of keeping the MC President seat safe in his own family, the Opposition party leaders revealed. “He is now telling everyone to vote for him instead of his wife as he has now somehow managed to know that the seat will not be reserved for women, it could be for an SC candidate. His opponent from SAD, Mr Babu Ram, had been allegedly pressurised to withdraw as some 100 new bogus votes had been added by the Congress in the ward this time. He has paved a clear path for himself at least it his ward,” a senior SAD member said.

On the other hand, Mr Joginder Pal, former MC President from SAD, sitting MC President’s arch rival and a business competitor, is not fighting the battle himself and has fielded his wife, Ms Raj Rani, as a candidate from ward number 4. Ms Raj Rani is facing competition from Ms Baljit Kaur, a Congress candidate and wife of a vernacular paper reporter. In its bid to divide the Akali vote, the Congress is also supporting a rebel Akali candidate, Ms Neelam, fighting out as an independent candidate.

Significantly, it is not just one reporter fighting out the elections, there are two others who are being supported by SAD. Mr Bhupesh, a vernacular paper reporter is contesting a very tough fight against Mr Joginder Singh Bhinder from ward number 3. Another scribe from a Punjabi daily, Mr Sukhwant Singh Takhar, is being supported as an independent candidate by SAD from ward number 9 which is dominated by the Christian community. The Congress members here are lamenting that their genuine 36 votes have been deleted wrongfully.

The fate of ward number 6 will be decided by dominating the Lubana community. Both rival parties have fielded the candidates from the same community. Ms Nishan Kaur, former Vice-President of the MC standing as an independent candidate supported by the Congress, is fighting out a decisive battle against Mr Balwinder Singh, sitting councilor and an NRI.


Stage set for municipal bypoll
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, September 17
Electioneering was at feverish pitch as final countdown began for the byelections in three wards of city, namely ward No 60, 56 and 34, scheduled for tomorrow.

The byelections necessitated due to the death of three councillors promise an interesting contest in ward no 34 between Raman Bakshi (Cong), a relative of Mayor Mr Sunil Datti and an independent candidate Savinder Satta, a close confidant of independent MLA Mr Om Parkash Soni (also a former Congressman).

The elections in this ward falling in the zone of Mr Soni is virtually a test case for seeking Congress ticket for MLA’s seat for both MLA and the Mayor.

Both Mayor and MLA were trying to establish their supremacy in the area . The matter of ticket allotment to Mayor’s relative in this election had also reached Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, PPCC chief.

The Mayor has joined campaigning for Mr Bakshi, while Mr Soni has kept away from extending open support. However, his close confidant Deputy Mayor Sawinder Singh of the Congress has openly endorsed Mr Satta against official Congress candidate, thus promising a crucial fight between the two.

Other candidates in this ward include SAD’s Harwinder Singh Kuka and Mohinder Pal Singh Walia of the CPI.

The BJP has fielded a former councillor Dr Renu Goel for ward No 56 (reserved for ladies). The BJP candidate here would be facing the Tung family after the demise of Sukhjit Kaur Tung, her daughter-in-law Inderpreet Kaur (Cong) being in the field.

The area falling in this ward is totally backward. Therefore, issue of civic amenities takes centerstage. The presence of CPI’s Balwinder Kaur makes it a triangular contest. The BJP and the Akalis are doing hectic campaigning for Dr Renu.

A straight contest is expected in ward No 60 between SAD’s Malkeet Walia and Congress’s Navdeep Singh Hundal. Others in the fray here are Dalbaaz Singh (CPI) and independents candidates Harcharan Singh, Gulshan Kumar and Darshan Singh.

Meanwhile, Dr Renu has complained to returning officer apprehending booth capturing, false polling and threats to voters for booth number 2, 3, 4, 4-a, 7, 8 falling in ward 56. Mr Amarjit Asal, district secretary, CPI, has raised objections over the inclusion of the photograph of Mr R.L. Bhatia, Governor, Kerala, in posters for candidate Mr Hundal (Cong) of ward No 60.


Dry day today

Kapurthala, September 17
The district administration has declared September 18 as a Dry Day in Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Bholath, Begowal and Dhilwan due to the municipal committee elections that day. — TNS


Army officer cremated with full military honours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The mortal remains of Lieut-Col Amardeep Singh of 18 Engineer Regiment, who was drowned in the Sutlej on September 8, was consigned to the flames with full military honours here today.

The officer was among 34 Army personnel who fell into the raging Sutlej after the bailey bridge they were reconstructing at Kharo collapsed.

Besides grieving relatives and friends, a large number of Army personnel as well as representatives of the Punjab Government and Chandigarh Administration attended the funeral.

Wreaths were laid on the body by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, General Officer Commanding 2 Corps Ambala, Lieut-Gen K.D.S. Shekhawat, the Chief Engineer, Western Command, Major-Gen Arun Bedi, and other senior officers.

Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry Jagmohan Singh Kang, who is also related to the bereaved family, and Ms Lakhwinder Garcha, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister were also present.

A guard of honour reversed arms while buglers sounded the Last Post, followed by the Rouse. A three-shot volley was also fired as a mark of respect to the officer who had died in the line of duty.

The pipes and drums from 2 Maratha Light Infantry played the funeral march as the Tricolour draped casket, with regimental officers acting as pall bearers, was brought to the cremation ground.

While Colonel Amardeep, father Mr Rabinder Singh and wife, Manreet maintained a stoic posture, his mother Jasbir Kaur broke down. Earlier, when the casket containing the body was being brought to the cremation ground, Mr Rabinder Singh took the place of one of the officers as the pall bearer.

Besides his parents and wife, Colonel Amardeep, who was 35, is survived by two children, six-year old Gulnaaz and three-year old Fateh Veer Singh. The children were not present at the funeral. The only son of his parents, he also leaves behind a sister, Mona. He had been commissioned into the Army in June 1991 and got married in 1997.

His parents were settled in Mohali while his wife’s parents are in Chandigarh. The officer, along with his wife and children was residing in K-Area near Zirakpur where his unit is based.


Assaulted by officer, jawan awaits justice
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 17
Inderjit Singh, a jawan of the 9 Sikh Light Infantry, had joined the Army with zeal to serve his country but 10 years down the line failure to complete a ‘pithu race’ changed his life forever.

Made to run five miles with “pithu” (weights) on his back in August 1999, he could not complete the race and as a result Inderjit was beaten up so severely that he lost hearing power in one ear and can hear from the other with the help of hearing aid.

A fact finding court of inquiry set up by the Army found all those involved in the incident guilty and also found Inderjit Singh, then Lance Naik, guilty of being absent from duty.

Years later and despite the ‘court of inquiry suggesting that strict disciplinary action should be taken against the Commanding Officer of the unit, a Captain who was guilty of hitting Inderjit, a Lieutenant, a Subedar, Naib Subedar and a Sepoy, for giving false evidences in the case, the guilty have been promoted and no action has been taken against them.

Inderjit Singh who was demoted for being absent from duty, is still awaiting justice to be delivered on the basis of the report of fact-finding court of inquiry. Frustrated, he has now sought legal recourse, and is demanding financial damages for the physical injury suffered by him.

Inderjit Singh, who fought for the country in the Kargil war, had barely returned from his leave when he was repeatedly hit on his right ear so hard that he lost hearing power completely. He was hospitalised for 47 days and came out of the hospital with severe hearing loss. As a result he was bracketed in medically unfit category and was denied promotion, says Inderjit who is to retire in a year.

The court of inquiry expressed the opinion that Inderjit’s superior, ‘Capt P.S. Arora had hit him hard with his left hand on the ear causing severe injury to him on August 23, 1999, at the practice session”. Inderjit Singh had reportedly taken a short cut to complete the race. The court also stated that efforts were made to hush up the case by the 9 Sikh Light Infantry. Col H. Bahadur did not report the matter in writing to the next formation headquarters. The court also found that there was a gap of seven months in the completion of the court of inquiry and it was forwarded to Brigade after a gap of seven months more.

Capt P.S. Arora was held responsible for hiding facts and giving false statement during the unit court of inquiry and staff court of inquiry, according to the opinion of the court. Lieut A.K. Dharwal, Subedar Malkiat Singh and Naib Subedar Gurdev Singh, were held responsible for giving false statements in the case of manhandling of Inderjit Singh.

The court maintained that sending Inderjit Singh on nine day casual leave after the incident was also a wrong step. The headquarters of the 25 Infantry Division and HQ 120 Infantry Brigade were pulled up for not taking cognizance of the matter.

Inderjit, on his part, has now sought legal recourse in the matter in the Sessions District Court and the counsel appearing on behalf of the officers involved has asked the court to grant him time till October 18 to prepare, a reply in the matter.


Accountant’s error costs schoolboy two teeth
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 17
When Manjinder Singh’s mother sent him to school yesterday morning she had no idea that the day would turn out to be a traumatic one for the 9-year-old. He was allegedly slapped by the school Director a number of times, and after one particularly severe blow he fell down and broke his two front teeth.

His fault allegedly was that his father had not paid his school fee. Manjinder was then admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital.

The police swung into action as a medico-legal case was made out.

It turned out that Manjinder had to pay for a mistake in the accounts section by the school, Apollo Public School, Urban Estate, of which he is a student.

According to his father, Jitender Singh, a Railway employee, the school fee of Rs 11,600 for the whole year had been paid well in advance on March 23, 2005, through cheque No. 099352 of the State Bank of Patiala. Yesterday, Manjinder was called to the office and told that his fee had not been deposited.

He was again called to the office today for the purpose. When he said the fee had been paid, Mr T.L. Lumba, Director, and Mr Grover, beat the boy, alleged Jitender Singh.

Then the school van dropped Manjinder and his younger brother, who is also a student in the same school, home at 11.30 am.

“I was home today. I saw Manjinder was crying. When I asked him the matter, he told me of the whole incident. I brought him to the hospital. He is still in trauma,” said Jitender Singh.

Mr Lumba, however, denied the charges and said the fee had not been submitted, so the children were sent home. They were not touched at all. In fact, Jitender Singh came to the school, used abusive language and threatened the management, he added.

Jitender Singh says the receipt that he had received after paying the fee bore No. 3440 but the fee was deposited in the account No. 3404 by the school accountant.

Meanwhile, the Mr M.S. Brar, the SHO of Sadar Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the school falls, claimed that it was out of personal animosity that both Mr Lumba and Mr Jitender Singh were trying to rake up a controversy.

He added that the doctor’s report had made it clear that no teeth of the child were broken and that a case under Section 7/51 of the IPC would be made out against both parties.


Congress-bashing at SAD conference
Tribune News Service

Guru Ki Dhab (Faridkot), September 17
Shiromani Akali Dal leaders today made the most of the party’s conference here for “Congress bashing” and singing praises of the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. All speakers spoke at length about how the Congress had “unleashed a military attack on Golden Temple and massacred Sikhs” in 1984.

Addressing the party rally, Mr Badal accused the Centre of not acting against the Congress leaders like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, and HKL Bhagat, despite the Nanavati Commission report revealing “credible evidence” against them. He said his party had waged a fight for justice on the issue and wouldn’t rest till these guilty of 1984 riots were brought to book.

He said Sikhs had played a vital role in the country’s freedom struggle and laid down their lives for their motherland in wars against neighbouring countries. He said Sikhs had been instrumental in shaping the destiny of the nation, but the Congress had “hurt the community religiously, socially, and economically”. He said his party would hold a massive rally in New Delhi on the issue on November 4. Mr Badal said the state of farmers and youths in the state was pittiable. He said farmers were committing suicides and educated youths were indulging in crimes due to frustration.

MP Sukhbir Badal began his address with a scathing attack on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He accused the Chief Minister of ruining the state and trying to weaken SAD by implicating its workers in false cases. He said the Congress leaders were misleading people by stating that Amarinder Singh had got Punjabi youths released from Pakistani jails and that he had played a key role in Lahore-Nankana Sahib road. “If he is so powerful why doesn’t he build Kotkapura-Moga road,” he quipped. SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur said the SGPC was setting up a number of schools and hospitals for people of the state, as government schools and health centres were in bad a shape.

Surprisingly, while showering praises on Mr Badal some party leaders also gave him credit for the Prime Minister’s apology for 1984 riots and removal of Tytler and Sajjan Kumar from their posts.

Later, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Badal laid the foundation stone of a school in Jaito. The SGPC would construct the school at a cost of Rs 8 crore. Party leaders — Manpreet Singh Badal, Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Sikander Singh Malooka, Tota Singh, and Mantar Singh Brar — were also present on the occasion.


Mann against Bibi leaving India
Tribune News Service

Guru Ki Dhab (Faridkot), September 17
The high court has faltered in allowing SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur to go abroad, as she has been charged with murdering her daughter and a strong evidence has also been recorded against her, stated SAD (Amritsar) President Mr Simranjit Singh Mann while addressing his party’s conference here today.

Mr Mann said Bibi Jagir Kaur could get death sentence or life imprisonment in the case and apprehended that she would not return from America. On India striking a deal with France on Scorpene submarines and aircrafts, he said India should have waited for France to end its racist policy against Sikhs before going ahead with it.

He alleged that both Mr Badal and Mr Amarinder Singh had backed out of commission of enquiries under pressure from the Centre. He accused Mr Badal of giving up his entire agenda for making his son acceptable to all.


Ramoowalia derides Cong, SAD policies
Tribune News Service

Guru Ki Dhaab (Faridkot), September 17
Passing a resolution to oust those practicing politics of self-interests, money power, and nepotism from the state’s political arena, the Lok Bhalai Party president, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, today said the present state of politics in the state could lead to a civil war. Mr Ramoowalia stated this while addressing his party’s conference here.

Coming down heavily on the SAD and Congress, Mr Ramoowalia alleged that 98 per cent of leaders of these parties were selfish and corrupt. He said political leaders today were busy making money through octroi and liquor contracts and they had nothing to do with people’s problems.

“Many political leaders and parties have become a disgrace for us. We hang our heads in shame due to their acts,” he said.


Dullo ridicules Advani’s remark
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 17
Ridiculing the reported assertion of senior BJP leader, Mr Lal Krishan Advani that Dr Manmohan Singh was a “weak Prime Minister”, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo today said that Advani’s statement showcased the “anti-minority” psyche of the BJP leadership.

Mr Dullo, said that he was going to take up important issues like lifting of ban on government recruitments and free power to dalits on lines of farmers with the Punjab CM within next week. Mr Dullo, who was accompanied by veteran Congress leader Dr Lekh Raj and senior Youth Congress leader Mr Bobby Sehgal, was here to pay his obeisance to Sidh Baba Sodal and was invited by the managing committee of the Sodal temple.

Addressing a press conference after visiting the ongoing Sodal mela’, Mr Dullo said not only Mr Advani, but no BJP leader could tolerate that a secular person, belonging a minority community of the country, should be the PM.

Mr Dullo said he has advised senior ministers, who, were heads of district planning boards, to hold at least four public meetings in their respective districts in a month. Similarly, four such monthly meetings would be held at sub-divisional and block levels. “This way we will cover 117 constituencies within three months,” observed Mr Dullo.

He said that he was going to meet the CM next week and will discuss important issues with him.


Aganwari workers’ protest continues through rain
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
“The Punjab Government is so thick- skinned that we had no idea in this regard on the day we resolved to march from our villages and towns to the Matka Chowk in the City beautiful to launch an indefinite agitation to get justice,” says Mrs Hargobind Kaur, president of the Punjab Aganwari Workers and Helpers Union.

Obviously fighting hard to protect her flock of about 50 workers and helpers, who had come from Dehlon block to sit in dharna on their turn Mrs Hargobind says that continuous rain has made the life hell for them. As the tents put up for the night stay at the Matka Chowk started leaking, we had to shift to the main bus stand building last night. At the dead of night, it was a horrible experience for us, she added. They have faced rough weather many a time since August 25, the day of launching the agitation.

“But we are determined to fight to the finish”, says Mrs Hargobind Kaur, who has the backing of more 25,000 workers and helpers. Explaining what she describes as callous attitude of the government, Mrs Hargobind Kaur says that “even though women, we have been continuing our struggle for the past three weeks, but no one from the government side, neither a minister nor an MLA, has come to us. Even Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, a minister, has not spared a minute for us. At least, As a woman she should have come to see our plight.

However, we are thankful to people in general. “Many of them, who come for a morning walk in the Rose Garden, express at least lip sympathy,” add agitating workers. After all we are also mothers who have left their school-going kids behind to camp here fighting for justice.

What the government gives to us is less than that of a daily-wage earner. To each Aganwari worker, the Union Government gives Rs 1000, and Rs 200 are contributed by the State Government. To each worker, the Union Government, gives Rs 500 and the State Government contributes Rs 100.

“Though many of us have been working for the past 25 years, still we even get less wages than the rate fixed by Deputy Commissioners in the state”, say Aganwari workers.

Not only we give duty for five hours daily, we are also asked to perform all odd jobs. Once we were put on the job of counting beggars and flush toilets in villages. “We fill forms for old persons for pension, handle surveys regarding leprosy, TB, malaria and even asked to register voters by SDMs. We take care of various schemes meant for below-poverty-line families and also look after the kanya jagriti scheme. We fill forms for the issuance of birth certificates,” they add. However, what we get in return from the State Government is just pittance.

There are 14,000 aganwaris. And they are not asking for the moon from the government. They want appointments of aganwari workers and helpers should be made by the State Government. They are for stopping interference of panchayats in Aganwaris because at many places sarpanches try to harass aganwari workers for no reason.

The government should stop the practice of putting workers on jobs not part of their duty. Instead of opening pre-nursery schools, aganwari workers should be given the duty of looking after kids to be enrolled for pre nursery schools and their wages should be increased on a pattern followed by the Assam Government.


BJP for all-party meeting over suicide issue
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 17
The state unit of the BJP today asked the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to convene an all-party meeting on the issue of suicides by farmers and traders in the state.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary and spokesman of the Punjab BJP, said there was a need to convene an all-party meeting on the issue of suicides as not only farmers, even traders were committing suicides in the state. He said the meeting was a must to find a solution to this problem at the earliest.

He also criticised the Amarinder Singh government for not paying attention to the suicides, being committed by farmers and traders in the state.

Regarding the setting up of a Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh, Mr Grewal said a statement made by Ms Sushma Swaraj in this regard was the opinion of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. He said she had given the statement as the Chairperson of the committee and not as a leader of the BJP. He said the stand of the Punjab BJP over Chandigarh was very much clear and according to it Chandigarh was a part of Punjab and should remain with it.

He said statements issued by leaders of different parties were being issued in this regard just to spoil the image of the BJP.

Mr Grewal said the state BJP unit and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would contest the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections as alliance partners on the issue of development. He said the alliance between the BJP and the SAD had not been formed to take any political advantage, but it had been formed to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood among various communities in the state. Mr Grewal also criticised the Amarinder government for allegedly adopting the policies of privatisation.


Tarlochan defends Ponty
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 17
The National Minorities Commission Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Tarlochan Singh, said Indian prisoners released from Pakistan should not be feted and welcomed, instead they should be prosecuted once they were back in the country.

Their release may be good for their respective families, but the country suffers as concessions have to be made to get them back. The government should, in fact, work for the release of the prisoners of war who were languishing in Pakistan jails, he added.

He was in the city along with liquor baron Ponty Chadha in connection with the golden jubilee celebrations of Dhudial Khalsa Senior Secondary School.

Mr Chadha has assured that he would give funds to construct the third storey of the school building. The foundation stone for which was laid today.

The school is in name of Dhudial village in Jhelum district of Pakistan. It was opened in 1956. Mr Chadha’s father, Mr Kulwant Singh, and Mr Tarlochan Singh had migrated from the same village to India after Partition.

When questioned about running a liquor mafia in Punjab, Mr Chadha reacted by saying, “Mafia doesn’t generate revenue for the government, but I have been adding huge sums to the state exchequer by doing business.”

He said he had decided to diversify in other trades also and would venture into westend malls, sugar industry, besides housing. He hoped to invest hundreds of crore in his new projects.

Attacking the SAD for levelling allegations against Mr Chadha, he said political parties should not drag businessmen into political battles.

Giving the liquor baron a clean chit, Mr Tarlochan Singh said Mr Chadha had done no wrong as he was depositing more revenue with the state exchequer than previous years.

He was the highest bidder in the state any way, he added.

“The economy of the state had suffered tremendously during terrorism. Now businessmen from outside should be invited to the state. They should be given a conducive atmosphere to do business and promote interests of the state,” he said.

He said the Centre should encourage exchange programmes of people between India and Pakistan as it would further help improve relations between the two countries.

Former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGMC), Mr Prahlad Singh Chandok, Lieut-Gen Kirpal Singh Kohli (retd) and former Haryana Chief Secretary, Mr Kulwant Singh, were also present on the occasion.


Resentment among pensioners
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 17
Resentment prevails among pensioners of the Punjab government over the non-fulfilment of promises, including an increase in their monthly medical allowance from Rs 250 to Rs 500 and house maintenance allowance facility to the pensioners by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister. These promises were made by the Congress in its manifesto during the previous Assembly elections, when Capt Amarinder Singh was state president of the PPCC.

Stating this here, Mr Sukhdev Singh Jassal, DSP (retired) and a member of Punjab State Government Pensioners Advisory Committee, constituted on October 25, 2004 by the Punjab government for the welfare of government pensioners, further said even after more than three years of the formation of Congress government in Punjab, it seemed that Capt Amarinder Singh had forgotten his promises, made with the pensioners during the previous Assembly elections.

Mr Jassal said he had dispatched some registered letters to Capt Amarinder Singh, reminding him his promises, regarding an increase in the monthly medical allowance of the pensioners from Rs 250 to Rs 500 and house maintenance allowance facility to the pensioners, but Capt Amarinder Singh had not bothered about these letters so far.

Mr Jassal asked the Punjab Chief Minister to fulfil the promises, with regard to an increase in the monthly medical allowance of the pensioners from March 2002 and house maintenance allowance facility for the pensioners, without any further delay. He further urged the Chief Minister to fulfil all other long-standing demands of the pensioners, which had already been recommended by the Punjab Pay Commission to benefit the pensioners.


Daya Ram advised against meeting ‘kin’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 17
Doctors of Dr Vidhya Sagar Government Mental Hospital here today advised Daya Ram, who was released by the Pakistan government recently in an unstable mental condition, against meeting any person claiming to be his relative.

Dr B.L. Goyal, director of the hospital, said that last day’s events had deteriorated the condition of the patient. He said yesterday many people had been pestering him with various questions to make him recall his earlier life. Subsequently, doctors gave him special treatment to bring him back to normal state last evening, he added.

He said today he was in a good condition. He had directed the security staff of the hospital not to allow anybody to meet him. He said their main thrust was to give him proper treatment to cure his mental disorder, which was a lengthy and cumbersome procedure and cautioned that a little fault could spoil the long efforts.

He said the much-needed psychological test to ascertain the extent of torture had to be postponed for this reason. He said it would be started from Monday and would take about four days. At this juncture, it could not be stated with authority what drove Daya Ram to this state of mental instability, he added.


Proposal on old-age pension hailed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 17
The All-India Central Government Pensioners’ Association has hailed the UPA government’s decision on formulation of model legislation for promoting care and protection of the elderly in the country.

Stating this, Mr V.S. Jolly, general secretary, of the association, said the UPA government’s proposed Bill could benefit thousands of aged persons as they could hope to receive old-age pension or social security payments. He said the proposed bill would have the way for the setting up of old age homes by the state governments in a phased manner beginning with at least one in each district.

Mr Jolly said the salient features of the proposed Bill had been circulated to them by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He said the Union Minister, Ms Meira Kumar, should convene a meeting of the National Council for Older Persons to deliberate upon the problems of senior citizens. He alleged that no such meeting of the council had been held for the past more than three years.


Housefed cancels booking of flats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 17
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau, in its preliminary investigation of the controversial super deluxe flat scheme of the Housefed, has found ample substance of activities to help some select persons in the allotment of flats.

The report says some insiders in the Housefed probably leaked the information about the scheme to select individuals.

The Housefed authorities had already cancelled the scheme which was opened and closed yesterday morning. Protest by several aspirants, who had come to submit forms, led to the cancellation.

A senior official of the bureau said the method of allotting the flats was highly suspicious. He said though the advertisement was issued yesterday morning only stating that the allotments would be made on first come first served basis at 9 a.m. yesterday. Aspirants had come from as far as Gurdapsur with the required draft of Rs 75,000.

The bureau officials said several top ranking employees could be involved. The report has sought institution of a regular inquiry into the incident so that a case can be registered.

A large number of aspirants for the scheme, who had come from all parts of the state, staged a protest outside the office of the Housefed yesterday.

Mr K.K. Bawa, Chairman, Housefed, said he had cancelled the booking following the allegations. He further said the scheme would be re-advertised.


Power colony goes powerless
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 17
The power colony here where the residences of Chief Engineer, SEs , SDOs, Junior Engineers (JEs) and many linesmen of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) are located remained powerless for most part of yesterday and today.

While residents tried to contact the power colony substation its phone allegedly remained off the hook.

Mr Rajiv Kumar Sen of area admitted that power was disrupted today due to technical fault. Mr Paramjit Singh Varpal in charge of the area said they were facing maximum breakdowns in the area and had written a DO letter to SE protection and maintenance (P&M).


MP for action against travel agents
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 17
A Rajya Sabha member, Mr M.S. Gill, has demanded criminal action against the travel agents who had duped the Punjabi youth.

The government should not spare unscrupulous elements who duped the youth of their money as well as freedom. It was surprising that many politicians reached the Wagah check post to get their photos clicked with the prisoners returning from Pakistan. However, none of them demanded action against the agents who were responsible for the misery of those prisoners.

Many released prisoners have narrated their woes that the agents took huge amounts from them promising greener pastures in western countries.

However, it was sad state of affairs that the Punjab Government was not taking suo motu of news-reports regarding the travel agents.

Mr Gill said he had written to the Chief Minister to give financial help to the released prisoners.


Sikh jatha crosses over to Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 17
A jatha of 86 Sikhs left for Pakistan with special visas for Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib for first time today .

The jatha would observe the death anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji there . Normally, four jathas in a year were given permission for the pilgrimage but for the first time, a fifth jatha was permitted, said jatha leader Mr Baldev Singh of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

The jatha crossed over from the Indo-Pak joint checkpost at Wagah. Mr Baldev said all 190 pilgrims were granted visas and the rest would cross over to Pakistan tomorrow.

The jatha members would also participate in kar sevas at Gurdwara Janam Asthan Chuna Mandi, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda (Faroqabad), Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) and Gurdwara Dera Sahib (Lahore) during the 15-day stay there.


HC seeks details on undertrials in mental hospital
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Government to furnish a fresh list of all the under-trial prisoners lodged in the Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta also sought other details and complete particulars of such under-trials.

Among the details that have been sought are the court/jail, district of the place where they are jailed and the offences under which they are facing trial.

The Bench also asked the court counsel and counsel for the State Government to assist the court as to why proceedings against such undertrial patients, depending upon the period of their confinement in judicial custody, not be quashed in light of their mental health.

Hearing will now resume on October 20.

Some years ago, the High Court had taken suo motu notice of media reports regarding the issue. In fact, in 2003, Dr A.S. Anand, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), had come across one Jai Singh, a mentally unsound under trial at Ambala. The NHRC chief, who was on a visit to Ambala, discovered that the under trial had been in custody for nearly 17 years. The NHRC then became a party to the ongoing case in the High Court.

A report, prepared by the NHRC, which talked of the steps needed to take in such case, was also submitted in the court.


Vacant posts of HC judges to be filled
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 17
The process to fill 24 vacant posts of judges in Punjab and Haryana High Court has already started, the Chief Justice, Mr D.K. Jain said while inaugurating the District and Sessions Court here today.

The Chief Justice said with the filling up of these posts about two lakh pleas that were lying pending for hearing would be taken up. Addressing a gathering, Mr Jain said people should also sort out their disputes at the panchayat level so as to reduce burden on the judiciary. He said the setting up of sessions court in the district would facilitate quick and cheap access to judicial process for people.

He said a court of judicial magistrate would be set up in Sardulgarh on fulfilment of basic amenities. Mr R.P. Nagrath took over as the first sessions judge of the district. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhuri, said the establishment of sessions court in Mansa would take away the “backward” tag from the district’s name.


Shifting of Justice Roy: Mann writes to Kalam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, yesterday expressed his resentment over the nod of the Union Ministry of Law to transfer Chief Justice of the Guwahati High Court B.K. Roy to the Sikkim High Court.

The Law Ministry had forwarded the recommendation, made by the Collegium of Supreme Court Judges, to transfer Mr Justice Roy for the second time in less than six months to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, for his approval earlier this week.

In a letter written to the President, Mr Mann urged Dr Kalam to intervene in the matter and ensure that ‘’no injustice is done to Mr Justice Roy’’.

Copies of Mr Mann’s letter were distributed at a Press conference here.

On the rejection of his plea seeking the removal of the Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, Mr Mann said he would move an application in the Supreme Court contesting the appointment of Mr Virk. He alleged that the DGP had earlier been chargesheeted and should be removed.


Legal literacy camp
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 17
To create legal awareness among people at the grassroot level, the District Legal Services Authority today organised a camp at Nandpur Kalour village here.

The participants were educated about the concept of free legal aid and Lok Adalats.

The camp was presided over by Mr Nanu Ram, Assistant District Attorney (Legal Services), Fatehgarh Sahib. A large number of people attended the camp.

Mr Nanu Ram said the SCs/STs, children, women, mentally and physically challenged persons, industrial workers, victims of natural disasters, victims of human trafficking and persons having annual income less than Rs 30,000 annually were entitled to get free legal aid in courts. It included counsel’s fee, processing fee and other miscellaneous expenses.

He also highlighted the importance of Lok Adalats.


Cop remanded in 3-day police custody
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 17
The SHO of Kotwali police station in Ludhiana, Inspector Harjinder Singh, was remanded in three days’ police custody by a court here today.

Inspector Harjinder Singh was arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau team, led by DSP Kanan Singh, on a charge of accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 which was allegedly a part of a deal.

The bureau arrested the suspect from his house in Ludhiana on a complaint lodged by Mr Bal Kishan, a lottery agent. The complainant had alleged that the SHO had threatened him to implicate him in a false case if he failed to pay the amount the latter had demanded.


Graft charge against SDE
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, September 17
Members of different associations of industrialists here have alleged that Mr Kulwinder Singh Dosanjh, SDO at Sub Urban Sub-Division, demanded a ‘woman’ and a sum of Rs 12,000 from Mr Vishal Puri, a proprietor of a rubber products manufacturing unit in Nasrala village for the replacement of the electricity meter that was damaged due to a short circuit. The industrialists further alleged that the SDE, even after taking the money, did not replace the meter but kept on lingering the case for more than three days.

Members of these associations have even complained to the PSEB Chairman against the official, besides from launching a protest, demanding the registration of an FIR against him for harassing them. They have also demanded immediate suspension of the SDO and also give a representation to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

On the other hand, members of different unions of the PSEB employees have also launched a protest from a common front against the industrialists who allegedly stormed into the SDO’s office and reportedly, used abusive language with the staff. They alleged that the industrialists disrupted them from performing their duties, ransacked the office and made over 10 staff members captive for a long time. Demanding that cases be registered against the industrialists, the union members threatened to intensify their protest.

Mr Vishal Puri, alleged that he complained to Mr Dosanjh about the defaulted power meter of his industrial unit on September 12 and even gave a sum of Rs 12,000 to the board authorities for its replacement after a team of flying squad wing of the PSEB checked it. “I made a phone call to the SDO, who demanded a ‘woman’ in lieu of the work. I explained the matter to my father, Mr Satish Kumar Puri, and subsequently to the Factory Owners Association”, claimed Mr Puri.

Mr C.M. Puri, president of the Factory Owners Association, complained to the Chairman and the Members Secretary of the Board, following which the authorities marked an inquiry to Mr Opinder Singh Khamba, Executive Engineer.

When contacted, Mr Kulwinder Singh Dosanjh, SDO, denied the allegations, saying the industrialists had been trying to frame him in a false case. He added that the department had charged fee for the replacement of the power meter from the consumer after the flying squad team submitted its report. He further added that the industrialists disrupted his staff from performing their duty and had been trying to save their skin after the PSEB employees demanded the registration of criminal cases against them.

Mr Bhagat Singh Saini, Superintending Engineer, was not available for comments.


Disrupted bus service hits students
Rajbir Sekhon

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), September 17
The dispute between residents of Rampura Phul and bus transporters over the increase in bus fare has hit the students of University College hard.

The college is located halfway on the road joining Rampura town and Phul village. They are finding it very difficult to reach the college after the discontinuation of bus service.

The transporters have stopped the bus service between Rampura town and Phul village after the people of nearby villages and local residents protested against the move to increase the bus fare from Rs 3 to Rs 4.

The routes of the buses, which earlier used to ply between Rampura and Phul, have been changed and these now pass through Mehraj village to avoid the commuters of Rampura Phul.

Though girl students of the college have the facility of college buses but the boys and the staff are finding it difficult to commute daily.

Mr Charandev Singh Mann, District Transport Officer, he said the dispute over the increase in bus fare had not been brought to his notice. But after talking to the transporters, Mr Mann said the transporters alleged that they had been threatened by some residents to maintain the fare at Rs 3.

He said apprehending that activists of various unions might damage their buses, transporters had discontinued the bus service. He said he would look into the whole matter and solve it as early as possible.


Nursing Council meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The Director Research and Medical Education, Dr J.S. Dalal, said here yesterday that a meeting of the Punjab Nursing Council would be held on September 20 to decide about the admission in nursing institutions in the state He said 50 nursing institutions had submitted proforma that they were asked to fill by the council about the infrastructure available in such institutions. 


Engineering seats increased
Tribune News Service

Landran, September 17
Chandigarh Engineering College, Landran, was today allowed by the All-India Council for Technical Education, New Delhi, to increase seats in electronics and communication and computer science courses by 30 each.


Singla announces bonanza for Bathinda
City to be textile hub of Malwa

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 17
Finance Minister Mr Surinder Singla today came out with the details of a plethora of development works for his constituency including refinery, textile units, and infrastructure development schemes.

Mr Singla said of the two textile projects of Rs 1,000 crore each the empowering committee had already approved one, while the other was awaiting nod. He said Bathinda would be developed as textile hub of Malwa. The Finance Minister also announced that the Chief Minister would visit cotton fields of the region next week.

He said a special assessment had been ordered to find out the damage caused to cotton crop due to intermittent rains in the past one week. He assured the cotton farmers better prices for their produce.

He said the state government had urged the Centre for creating a price stabilisation fund so that farmers didn’t suffer. He said a meeting would with experts would be held on the issue of octroi abolition in Delhi on September 22, which would discuss the most suitable alternative of the four proposed.

Mr Singla said he came here to find out the status of development projects already announced and initiated by him three months ago. He also gave Rs 50 lakh to the municipal corporation for development works.

He said 11 roads would be re-laid in the city with NABARD’s aid by October end. He also announced construction of a railway under bridge for residents of trans-railway colonies, an over bridge for national highway, and widening of a canal bridge, for regulating traffic flow in the city. He said the Union Finance Minister had asked him to meet a NABARD representative to chalk out a development plan for Bathinda.

He said projects worth Rs 120 crore had already been sanctioned for providing basic amenities to the city residents. He said all these works would be started within two months and shall be over before next elections.


Motor cycle company holds exchange fair
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 17
To celebrate 50 years in India, Royal Enfield is organising a special loan and exchange fair for the first time in India. It began here at Khoobsurat palace, Phatak No. 22, and will continue till September 20.

On display are all Royal Enfield models and variants. The State Bank of Patiala has tied up with the oldest manufacturer of motor cycles in the world to provide instant finance to buyers.

For motorbike freaks, the mela offers free test ride of any model and spot exchange of any old vehicle. The company is launching two new bikes — Electra 5S and Thunderbird.

The company is 104 years old. The UK Government recently released a stamp on Royal Enfield while the Government of India is planning to release a stamp on it in November this year.

According to the organisers, the response to the mela is overwhelming and Royal Enfield hopes to sell around 300 bikes during the mela.


Showroom inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 17
Piaggio opened its new showroom at Sirhind on the GT Road, here today. Mr Parbhjot Singh Kalra, DPRO, Fatehgarh Sahib, inaugurated the showroom and handed over the keys of new model three-wheelers to customers.

Mr Sadhanshu Shiromani, regional manager of the company, presided over the function.

Mr Kalra said new technology in every sphere was the need of the hour, especially in automobiles and the IT sector. He said India was not lagging behind in the field of automobiles as a new range of luxury cars was now available in India. Mr Sadhanshu Shiromani said the company proposed to sell 1,000 vehicles in Punjab in one month.


Beopar Mandal office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 17
Mr Mahinder Singh was unanimously elected president of the District Beopar Mandal at a meeting held here today.

Mr Sudershan Singh was elected chairman of the mandal, and Mr Nek Chand vice-chairman. Mr Balwinder Singh would be the senior vice president while Mr Paramjit Singh would be the general secretary.

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