P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



In another case, Governor had pardoned DSP
who killed Khalra
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
It took the courts over 10 years to convict the six accused police personnel guilty of kidnapping and liquidating human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra in 1995.

The human rights activist, who was secretary-general of the human rights wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal, was picked up on September 6, 1995 and his body was not found.

The case, which went on for years at a court in Patiala, finally saw Punjab police Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaspal Singh, and a serving inspector being handed out life imprisonment in the case. Four other cops were awarded seven years' rigorous imprisonment.

But, the smiling pictures of DSP Jaspal Singh, which adorned the front pages of most newspapers, did not show an officer fearing for his future. If he appeared confident, he had a reason to be so.

Just a few weeks back, the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), acting on a Punjab Government communiqué, had granted pardon to the same officer in another case in which he had been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. Another DSP, who is now retired, was also pardoned in that case.

The officers had been found guilty by a Patiala court of kidnapping and causing the death of Amrik Singh. A PIL challenging the pardon is pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Ironically, less than a year before the officer and his colleagues kidnapped and eliminated Jaswant Singh Khalra, he had been awarded the President's Police Medal for Meritorious Service.

DSP Jaspal Singh is also an accused in another high-profile case. It relates to the torture and murder of Kuljeet Singh Dhatt, a sarpanch. Dhatt was the son-in-law of Ms Parkash Kaur, the sister of freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Dhatt's case was one of the first cases during terrorism in Punjab in which the Supreme Court had ordered an inquiry by a retired Sessions Judge.

Noted human rights activist and Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Rajvinder Singh Bains, who is also counsel of Khalra's wife, says the previous pardon granted to Jaspal Singh was highly unusual.

"We are not sure if he won't be let off again. Even earlier, the government must have known about his involvement in other cases. So, who decided to pardon him?" he wonders.


Show-cause notice to Atwal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Punjab Pradesh Congress President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today served a show-cause notice to party MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal for criticising the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Atwal was asked to submit his reply by November 26.

Confirming the action, a party spokesman, Mr Rajpal Singh, said Mr Atwal was asked to explain his position vis-a-vis a news item, attributed to him, which appeared in Punjabi Tribune today. Mr Atwal is the second MLA to be served a show-cause notice in a week.

Earlier, Mr Bir Devinder Singh was given the notice for making a statement against the Local Bodies Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh.

In fact, statements made by Mr Atwal and Mr Bir Devinder Singh have clearly indicated that all was not well within the party. It appeared that the ruling party had no strategy at the moment to control the damage caused to it by the statements of the MLAs.

Mr Atwal, an MLA from Nurmahal, had reportedly said by entering in a secret pact with a former Akali minister, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, the Chief Minister had harmed the Congress. In this connection he referred the election of office-bearers of Jalandhar Central Cooperative Bank, where a Congress leader had been elected Managing Director with the support of Akali directors, while all other posts, including the bank’s chairman and executive, had gone to the Akalis.

Mr Kohar’s son was elected chairman of the bank, while the Congress directors, supported by Mr Atwal, failed to make to the list of office-bearers.

Mr Atwal had openly alleged that the Chief Minister played a crucial role in this election. In fact, Mr Dullo had also taken a notice of the developments in this regard. He had told mediapersons that he would ask all concerned to explain that how the Congress directors failed to become members of the executive and how the Akali directors were elected.

Meanwhile, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, in his latest statement, has urged the Chief Minister that instead of threatening him, a meeting of the legislators should be called to discuss various issues confronting the party. He asked the Chief Minister why he had not called the meeting of the party legislators for the past two years.

The Chief Minister should tell what was the role of the MLA if he did not speak against corruption and was not provided opportunity to present his viewpoint at the meetings of the legislators. Mr Bir Devinder Singh further stated that “if Chowdhary Jagjit Singh was an honest person, there was no corrupt person in the state”. Without holding an inquiry against him, how could a clean chit be given to the minister by the Chief Minister?


Kanwaljit seeks probe into Bir Devinder’s charges
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 19
Taking advantage of the Capt Amarinder Singh-Bir Devinder Singh rift in the ruling Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary and former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, fired a salvo against the Chief Minister and demanded a probe into the allegations levelled by senior Congress leader Bir Devinder Singh against the certain ministers and the government.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said since the allegations had come out of the Congress ranks and not through the Opposition or the SAD, so the government should get them probed thoroughly so that the people could know the truth. He accused the Congress government of trying to cover up the issues concerning corrupt practices and misuse of authority being raised by their own partymen. “But these issues can’t be treated in the realm of the Congress as they were of serious nature,” he added.

Throwing his weight behind estranged MLA Bir Devinder Singh, the Akali stalwart drove the point home saying: “The happenings and public accusations by elected representatives against the government is a serious indication that the Congress is cracking up. There is a serious revolt brewing up in the party. The Congress government has pursued a personal agenda rather than development in the state.”

Capt Kanwaljit Singh demanded a statement from the Chief Minister in the Vidhan Sabha on the issue as the issues were regarding misuse of public funds and corrupt practices. The issue should be debated at length so that the public could be made aware of the functioning of the Congress, he added.

The former Finance Minister tried to counter Capt Amarinder Singh on the issue of debate on militancy in the Assembly by saying that the debate on the corruption and law and order should precede any other debate as these issues were of relevance today. Taking the Chief Minister head on, he said the present government had come to power on the issue of checking corruption but now its own MLAs and partymen were levelling charges of corruption against the ministers.

He asked the Chief Minister and President of the Punjab Congress to clarify their stance on corruption by their ministers. Accusing the present government of witch-hunting, he added that during the last four years, a number of false cases had been put up against SAD leaders, workers and sarpanches.

On the issue of palanquin being taken to Pakistan by DSGPC chief Parmjit Singh Sarna, he advised the Chief Minister “to give good governance to the state instead of interfering in the jurisdiction of the SGPC, the rightful authority to conduct the Sikh religious affairs.”


‘Illegal confinement’ of two sparks row
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 19
The alleged illegal confinement of two local residents today sparked of a row when they were booked on the charge of sedition at almost the same time when their families were holding a press conference regarding their “disappearance” for the last couple of days.

The police revealed that both of them, along with a jail warden posted at Central Jail, Barnala, had been arrested on the charge of sedition and having links with terrorists.

Addressing a press conference here today, the families of Gurjit Singh, Parasram Nagar resident, and Gurdeep Singh, Dhobiana road resident, alleged that the police rounded them up on Thursday and since then they had not returned. In a telegram sent to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Ms Shinderpal Kaur, wife of Gurjit Singh, said the police came to their home looking for her husband on November 15 when he was out of town. Next day 20 persons of the locality presented her husband before the police and he was released on the same night after interrogation.

She alleged that four-five members of the CIA staff again came to their home on November 17 and took him along with them. She said her husband, who worked as an electrician, was the sole bread winner of their family.

Mr Nihal Singh, father of Gurdeep, alleged that his son was first picked up on Tuesday and released after interrogation the next day. But, the police again rounded him up on Thursday, he alleged. Both the families alleged that the police officials were unwilling to come clean on the issue.

The SAD (Amritsar) also came out in the support of the aggrieved families.

When contacted, the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, said both of them had been arrested on the charges of sedition, harbouring offenders and having links with anti-national elements. He said a case against them had been registered at Kotwali police station and they were in the custody of the CIA, Bathinda.

He said Gurpreet Singh, a jail warden, posted at Central Jail, Barnala, had also been arrested and the police suspected that he had also visited Pakistan. The SSP said the case against them was registered in the afternoon.


Promised job eludes Sukhdev
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Makrona Kalan (Morinda), November 19
Sukhdev Singh, the trailer driver who faced trauma in the captivity of Iraqi extremists for 48 days in July-August 2004, is now experiencing the apathy of the Punjab Government.

The Iraqi extremists had taken him hostage along with other two Indians — Antaryami and Tilakraj — over their demand of the ouster of the US Army from Iraq. The three, who went to Iraq in search of greener pastures, were held along with other nationals by the 'Iraqi jehadis' on July 21, 2004.

They were released after 48 days. On return to India, the Punjab Government assured to gainfully employ Sukhdev. But a year later, Sukhdev is coming to terms that the promises made to him and his family, may not be fulfilled after all.

"The government gave me Rs 1 lakh as compensation and promised to provide a job immediately," says Sukhdev Singh, who still trembles at the thought of the nightmare he went through while in detention. Sukhdev is still without a job. However, not giving up on the promise, Sukhdev has written a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister.

"I wrote a letter to Chief Minister five months back and got a response from the Employment Exchange of Ropar two months back. The letter asked me to register my name in the exchange with the copy of my driving licence. I did the needful immediately."

At present, he is cultivating his two-acre land in the village. "It is very difficult to make both ends meet. I have old parents to look after and even meeting the bare necessities is a challenge," says a dejected Sukhdev, who is unmarried.

Asked if he was still considering shifting base to a foreign country, Sukhdev replies, "I have to earn to support my family. In spite of what I went through, I am willing to take the risk again, because the government here has done nothing for me. I am open to settling down in any country, except Iraq."


Medical students denied roll numbers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
The Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research College has once again denied roll numbers for sitting in examination to about 36 medical students of second profession, admitted under the PMT or Sikh minority quota, even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted stay on the same and asked the medical college to allow the students to appear in the examination starting from Monday.

The parents were not allowed to meet the Principal of the college and securitymen in civil clothes were posted outside the Principal office. They expressed anguish over this unsavoury development that may jeopardise the career of their wards. This correspondent was also not allowed to meet the Principal for taking his versions.

The parents threatened to go on an indefinite dharna in front of the college if the authorities failed to issue the roll numbers to the students.

Quoting a Supreme Court case, the college issued a “final notice” on November 3, ordering the students to deposit the fee as per prospectus or as prescribed earlier by November 16, failing which action would be taken by stopping them to attend classes and not permitting them to appear in university examinations.

The parents alleged that the institution was deliberately ignoring the directions of the apex court, which had given clear-cut guidelines to the state fee structure committee to fix the fee according to the infrastructure of the professional medical and dental colleges. The committee had recommended the fee structure to be implemented by the college, which was not accepting the fee structure and demanding excess amount for the students, they added.

The parents pointed out that the SC orders, quoted in the notice, were wrongly interpreted by the college authorities to suit their interests. They said they would approach the apex court against the institution in this regard besides filing petition in the high court for the mental harassment caused to them and their children.


Probe Punjab Govt links in scam: BJP
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 19
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and president Punjab unit of the BJP while addressing a press conference at the residence of Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, former minister and president of the Punjab unit of the BJP Kisan Morcha, at Katehra village, last evening, demanded a high-level impartial probe into the links of Punjab Government in Rs 300 crore oil-for-food scam, highlighted by the Volcker Committee report.

He alleged that corruption in the Congress regime was prevalent at the state and national levels but now it had reached the international level bringing global shame for India.

He revealed that a meeting of the BJP members of Parliament would be held in Delhi on November 23 to work out strategy to fight corruption.

He criticised Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister for giving clean chit to Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister Punjab without having any probe. 


Bhajan for early resolution of SYL issue
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 19
Former Haryana Chief Minister and president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, Bhajan Lal said yesterday that he was “quite optimistic” about the early resolution of various pending issues between Punjab and Haryana, including the sharing of water.

Mr Bhajan Lal, who was on a private visit to the city, told The Tribune that this was high time when leaders of the two states resolve all pending issues. Without going into details or making any specific suggestions, asked: “Is there anything in the world which cannot be resolved by dialogue and discussion”.

He said he was not aware of any initiative taken by anyone. But he suggested that initiatives needed to be taken without bothering as who takes these. He suggested that the leaders of the two states belonging to all major political parties must sit together and resolve the issues. At the same time, he warned against “politicising” the issue.


Petrol station in lawn of house
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 19
Imagine a lawn of a residence on the posh Court road, few yards away from the District Court complex here, converted for setting up a petrol station overnight!

The ‘construction’ to set up the petrol station could not be detected for months because the ‘clandestine operation’ was carried out inside the four walls of the residence. The residents woke up to the launching of the outlet when the front wall was demolished to sale the petrol products.

Couple of days ago panic gripped in the residents of the area when fire broke out due to a spark to a generator set at the time of decanting of petrol, which was extinguished later.

The mad rush of oil companies to allot petrol stations in alleged gross violation of rules and norms has resulted in clustering of ‘highly explosive’ products in the residential area which could cause havoc. Some of the petrol stations have been established on the busy international Amritsar- Lahore , Majitha, Ramtirath roads, etc, even as all departments concerned including local municipal corporation, Municipal Town Planning , Chief Town Planner , PUDA and police ‘showed magnanimity’ to give No Objection Certificates (NOC) to such petrol stations .

The Corporation Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang , said he was not aware of the NOC and would look into the matter with regard to the change of land-use . He, however, said the safety of the residents was of paramount importance for the corporation.

Deputy Commissioner, Kirandip Singh Bhullar, said he had given NOC when officials of the Indian Oil Corporation approached him for opening petrol outlet for selling petroleum products to two and three-wheelers only.

The Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association (PPTA) president, Mr J.P. Khanna, said outlets were being opened in brick kilns, close to industrial units and residential areas and added that a single spark could wreak havoc on the vicinity. He alleged that PUDA, corporation and the police, besides administration were issuing NOCs without physical verifications of the locations. Thus it was being done in gross violation of the norms and guidelines of the Union Ministry of Petroleum.

Describing the development as a ‘big scam’, the PPTA sought immediate inquiry by the CBI into the matter. He said many heads would roll after an independent inquiry.

The oil companies have also announced setting up of 524 petrol stations in Punjab, including in border district of Amritsar.

However, the Town and Country Planning Department, Punjab, has claimed that ‘there is no illegality in the issuance of NOCs. All NOCs were issued in accordance with the guidelines with the condition that the land-use change must be done from the competent authority”.

Area Manager of the Indian Oil Corporation, Tarun Dhamija , however, claimed that all approvals were sought before the allotment of the petrol station in Amritsar .

The owner of the petrol station, Mr J.S, Randhawa, claimed that he had started the station after the ‘completion’ of all necessary formalities.


Elevated road to Golden Temple soon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
Construction of an elevated road connecting the GT Road with the Golden Temple will begin soon. This was decided by the government in coordination with the state Local Bodies Department.

Consultants for the project, with an initial outlay of Rs 14 crore in the first phase, will arrive here tomorrow to deliberate on the planning of project, aimed to decongest the area and bring some semblance to traffic menace.

The elevated road towards the Golden Temple will have traffic access to vehicles coming from the Wagah border or New Delhi/Chandigarh to the Golden Temple/Jallianwala Bagh .

The bidding for project is scheduled for December 5 and the project will be given a go ahead on January 5, 2006, said Mr K.S. Kang, MC Commissioner.

As per the preliminary planning, this is the first project of its kind in the holy city which will involve hi-tech techniques to install “pre-fabricated segments” that would not disrupt traffic flow to a large extent in the highly congested area. This would mean that most of the framework would be prepared elsewhere and installed at spot in the later stage.

On a query about the structural engineering report, Mr Kang said the study on soil data and the coordination of foundation, keeping in mind the seismic sensitivity of the zone, would begin shortly.


Palanquin row continues
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19
Baba Amrik Singh, Kar Sevawale, today refuted the claim of Mr Manohar Singh Gill, Member, Rajya Sabha, that the golden palki (palanquin) would be placed by disturbing the marble canopy at sanctum sanctorum at Gurdwara Janamasthan at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Mr Gill had given a statement against any modification to the historic marble palki and stated that the act would be against the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

Baba Amrik Singh said it seemed that Mr Gill was issuing statements at somebody’s behest. He said Mr Gill’s father, Col Partap Singh, used to take part in the kar seva and was a devout Sikh. He said instead of supporting, Mr Gill was creating obstacles in this religious work.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, DSGMC, will lead a religious procession from Delhi that will carry the palki via the Wagah border to the gurdwara on November 29.

Earlier, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, had expressed reservations on participating in the procession as she did not agree with the replacement of the historic palki for the golden one.


CM to inaugurate controversial lodge today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Even as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has sought a status report on a luxury forest resort being developed on ecologically fragile land in the Lower Shivalik Hills near Basali village, Ropar, the Kikar Lodge is scheduled to be inaugurated tomorrow by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The issued came to light in May when the gram panchayats of Brari, Basoli, Chandpur and Kangar villages alleged that a major part of the land on which the resort was planned was “locked” under various provisions of the Forest Conservation Act.

Following this, the regional office of the ministry had asked the Punjab Forest Department to file a detailed report on the nature of the violations. The Regional Conservator of Forests, Mr S.K. Aggarwal, said the state Forest Department had been asked twice to file a report. “I can comment on the issue only after verifying whether any status report has been filed,” he said.

The resort is located about 25 km off the Ropar-Nangal road. Villagers of the area claim that the gram panchayats of Brari, Basoli, Chandpur and Kangar had been knocking on the doors of various officials for the past several months but in vain.

In the representation, the villagers said grazing right on the land had been given to them following court orders. The courts had directed the then owners to give them half of the revenue earned from the sale of grass and timber from the area covering 13,674 kanal and 18 marlas.

After the matter was reported in the media in May, the Divisional Forest Officer, Ropar, had directed the district revenue authorities to undertake the demarcation of the land under khasra nos. 252, 253 and 254. A major portion of the structure has come up on this piece of land.


Kavi darbar stirs up emotions
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 19
Words full of emotion and poignant moments made a resplendent Punj-Aab Kavi Darbar a memorable one for the audience as well as the participants. Organised by Department of Punjabi, Punjabi University, Patiala, at Kala Bhavan last night the function was graced by Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, Saraswati Award winner and other eminent personalities.

Nazms and ghazals of pain and pangs of Partition flowed like the waters of five rivers which metaphorically came together as 12 poets from across the Wagah border led by Afzal Shahid and 10 poets from this side of Wagah recited their works.

The dominant theme of poetry was the motif of a divided mother and motherland. Emotions reigned supreme as the two Punjabs united and the boundaries blurred in the poetic realm. Those from across the border spoke of the same Nanak, Bulle Shah, Heer, Mirza, Mahiwal and others shared pain as did the poets from our Punjab.

Among those present were Surjit Pattar, Hari Singh Dilbar, Salim Tahir, Sultana Munnawar, Abbas Mirza, Kamal Mushtaq, Darshan Buttar, Sukhwinder Amrit, Gurbhajan Gill, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti and others. Hari Singh Dilbar’s couplets won the hearts of the audience.

It was not only reminiscences of the past but also the present that came through the poetry. Grave issues like piracy, female foeticide, corruption and ugly side of politics are the joint shared legacy of both sides.

Sultana Munnawar regaled the audience with her lovely ghazal in an equally melodious voice. The mushaira turned poignant as Afzal Raaz paid tributes to doyen of Punjabi literature Amrita Pritam, working on her famous lament “Aj akhain Waris Shah nu”. He recited “Aj Akhain Waris Shah nu goh nal meri gal sun”. Afzal Shahid announced the decision to establish an Amrita Pritam Chair at Shah Hussain University in Pakistan.

Amjad Ali Bhatti ruled the hearts of the young as he evoked laughter while negating the whole concept of the gain of delights of paradise for the warriors (the rewards of jehadi enterprise). The underlying message was refreshing change and more in the contemporary setting. The poetic session came to an end with Satish Verma’s nazm on partition and its aftermath. The function concluded with the honouring ceremony of all the poets by the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai.


Fearing for life, officials seek security
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 19
Claiming that they have been fearing threat to their lives, the officials of PWD and a private company involved in the construction of the rail overbridge across National Highway-21, passing through Kurali, yesterday demanded security from the district administration to restart the work.

Acting on their plea, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, has directed the SDM, Kharar, to look into the matter, said the director of the company, Dr R. Sharan, while addressing a press conference here.

Giving details, Dr R. Sharan, also alleged that a local MLA had been putting hurdles in the project. As a result, work on the project was stalled for the past three months, he added.

He said that the project worth Rs 21 crore was awarded to company in 2003.

The company had to bear the cost of the project and would collect toll from commuters for over six years after the completion of the project, he added.


General category employees to boycott Dullo
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 19
The General Category Employees Welfare Federation has called upon local leaders of the Congress and people of the area to boycott functions of the PPCC President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. Mr Dullo will be on a three-day visit to the district from Monday onwards.

The federation in a press statement issued here today said their members would boycott any Congress leader joining the functions of Mr Dullo. The PPCC President had harmed the interests of the general category employees by forcing Punjab Government to implement the 85th amendment of the Constitution in the state.

Giving reservation in promotions was unjustified. The Punjab was only second state in the country after Tamil Nadu that had allowed reservation even in promotions.

The decision of the Punjab Government would lead to exodus of trained employees of the general category from the services. The doctors and intelligent engineers from the general category would prefer leaving government job now as they would have to work as subordinates to people much junior to them.


CRPF jawan cremated
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, November 19
Deepak Sharma (24) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who was killed in terrorist attack in Srinagar four days ago, was cremated in his native village Khamera, yesterday. The body of the martyr was brought by 129 CRPF battalion men here in this morning.

Deepak of 150 CRPF battalion laid down his life for the safety of 180 CRPF men who were in a bus which was on its way to the base camp. As the terrorist attacked, Deepak Sharma, fought bravely with the attackers till the bus carrying CRPF personnel reached safer place, said, Dhyan Chand from the same battalion. Deepak was injured in the attack. Later he was admitted to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, he added.

A large number of locals and official of the district administration and the police reached there to pay respect to the CRPF man.


Illegal quarrying in rivulets
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 19
Large scale illegal quarrying of sand is continuing in the seasonal rivulets passing through the district despite the fact that contract of the earlier auctioned site had expired in March this year. Besides, mining mafia is also engaged in illegal activities on forest land along rivulets.

Illegal quarrying continues at Lohan seasonal rivulet and Sirsa seasonal rivulet which was detected by the district Forest Department. The Forest Department has issued a notice to the mining contractor under the Punjab Land Preservation Act.


11 hurt as tractor-trailer overturns

Abohar, November 19
Eleven farm workers were injured, three of them seriously, as the tractor-trailer in which they were travelling overturned near Jandwala Hanwanta village this morning.

Sources said Mr Vinod Kumar, working as a driver with Mr Inderjit Bhadoo, a resident of Waryamkhera village, had gone to Tootwala village to get farm workers for picking cotton in a tractor-trailer. While coming back, the tractor jammed due to some technical fault and overturned along with the trailer attached to it. — OC


Indira remembered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has welcomed the decision of the Punjab Council of Ministers with regard to the implementation of the 85th Constitutional Amendment in Punjab.

Mr Rajpal Singh, General Secretary, said the Congress Government had accepted the long pending demand of the Dalits and also fulfilled one of the major poll promise. He said the Congress was also committed to provide concessions to people belonging to upper castes.

He said 88th birth anniversary of the Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister, was celebrated today in the Punjab Congress Bhavan. Mr Kewal Dhillon, Mr Ram Pal Dhaipi, and other senior leaders were present on the occasion.


Cultural fest concludes
Tribune News Service

Talwara, November 19
A three-day cultural fest, organised by The local National Youth Development Club, concluded here last evening. About 450 youths from 15 states across the country participated.

The participants from different states presented folk dances of their areas. Participants from Assam presented bihu. Natti was presented by youths from Himachal Pradesh.


Lok Adalat held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 19
A state-level Lok Adalat organised by the District Legal Services Authority was held at the judicial courts, complex, here today.

Prominent among those present were the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court-cum-patron-in chief, Punjab Legal Services Authority, Mr Justice D.K. Jain, and Mr Justices H.S. Bedi and J.S. Khehar.

Mr Inderjit Singh, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, Patiala, and Mr M.S. Sullar, Registrar, Punjab and Haryana High Court, were also present.

A permanent Lok Adalat for the disposal of cases under the public utility services was also inaugurated by Mr Justice D.K. Jain.


ST Inspector arrested for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 19
A team of the Vigilance Bureau, led by Mr Banarasi Dass DSP, Patiala, yesterday caught Sarup Singh, Inspector, Sales Tax, posted at Sunam, when he was “accepting” a bribe of Rs. 1,000 in his Sunam office from Mr Chhinder Singh, owner of a petrol filling station, situated near Sunam.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Vigilance, Patiala Range, said the Inspector had demanded Rs 1,000 from Mr Chhinder Singh for forwarding his file, relating to allotment of VAT number for his petrol filling station. He said as the Inspector had not been forwarding his file. So Chhinder Singh approached the vigilance authorities to take action against the Inspector.

Mr Bhullar said the vigilance had recovered the file from Sarup Singh. The vigilance authorities had also conducted a raid at his residence at Patiala. A case under Sections 7, 13 (2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against the Inspector.


Labourer’s murder: Nepalese held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 19
The district police has solved the blind murder case of a migrant labourer with the arrest of a Nepalese citizen. The police has also recovered some goods.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, stated that on the night of November 15 Sashi Kumar of Iqbal Nagar, Mandi Gobindgarh, was found murdered in his room. The murderer had fled with some household goods and cash.

To trace the murderer a special team under Mr Pritpal Singh Virk, SP (D), comprising Mr Daljit Singh Rana, DSP, Amloh, and Mr Harbans Singh SHO, Gobindgarh, was constituted and within two days arrested the murderer identified as Santosh Kumar Singh of Nepal.


Legal literacy mission launched
Our Correspondent

Pathankot November 19
The District and Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, Mr Jora Singh, launched a legal literacy mission in the local sub jail here today.

The mission will improve access to justice by focusing on the promotion of legal literacy, knowledge of legal rights and awareness of availability of free legal assistance to the deprived, disadvantaged and women.

The mission defines legal literacy as legal education of people’s rights, educating the citizens about their fundamental duties and legal obligations, education and awareness about the process of delivery of legal aid to the disadvantaged, provisions of legal aid and empowering members of judiciary and lawyers resulting in a holistic legal empowerment of individuals.

Those who addressed the jail inmates included Mr Jora Singh, Pathankot subdivisional Judicial Magistrate Mr R.K. Garg, Additional District Attorney, Mr Tajinder Singh Bal, former Rotary Club president, Mr Raman Puri, former Bar Association president, and Mr M.S. Thakur, a senior advocate.

Mr Jora Singh heard the problems of prisoners and directed the authorities concerned to solve them.

According to Mr Tajinder Singh Bal, till today as many as 138 Lok Adalats were organised at Gurdaspur district, 14785 cases were taken up and 8043 were decided with mutual consent at these adalats since 1991.

He said the mission would be implemented through a nationwide network that had been envisaged under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under the Act, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is the apex body constituted to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame most effective and economical for legal service. The authority is chaired by the Chief Justice of India.


‘Minerva 2005’ concludes
Tribune News Service

Rail Majra, November 19
Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology (RIEIT) organised the inter college technofest, here today. ‘Minerva 2005’, a two-day festival for the Punjab Technical University (PTU) colleges witnessed a big student participation on the inaugural day.

As many as 14 teams from affiliated colleges of the PTU participated. More than 500 students of these colleges are participating in the event at 10 different venues for the events on campus.

Dr I.K. Bhatt, Director, NIT Hamirpur, inaugurated the festival. He asked the students to use the opportunity to experiment their skills and draft them as per their aptitude. Dr Bhatt accompanied by Mr Gurvinder Singh Bahra, vice-chairman of Rayat group, also welcomed the students and guests on the occasion. While addressing the gathering, he said in student life these festivals had a unique importance.

The first day had a series of the technical items like digital art, sell it, and debugging sessions. These items had a great response from the participants.

In the ‘Sell It’ event Amandeep and Sahil, both from Rayat and Bahra College of Engineering and Bio-Technology, Kharar and Abhishek from CIIS Canadian Institute For International Studies, Mohali, hogged the limelight.

The winners of the model display contest included the team of Miyank Talwar, Paramvir Singh, Sandeep Singh from Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology; team of Harjit, Inderjeet and Vikas from BMSCE , Muktsar; and the team of Kunal, Alok and Vikram from Beant College, Gurdaspur.

The team of Rashmi Yadav, Jaspreet Hundal from SUCET, Tangori, won the debate contest. The team of Mose and Petronela from PCTE, Baddowal was second while the third place was bagged by Anupam and Dawar from Beant College Gurdaspur.


Governor urged not to okay Lovely varsity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19
Mr Varinder Pal, Finance and Development Officer (FDO), Guru Nanak Dev University, in pursuance to his earlier petition has urged the Punjab Governor, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), to withhold assent to the Lovely Professional University Bill 2005.

In his communication, he has sought the attention of the Governor on the alleged bypassing of guidelines of the apex court wherein 117 universities of Chhattisgarh were declared null and void of which the Lovely University, Jalandhar, was one of them. Quoting the judgment, he said several guidelines would be flouted to bring such a university to function.

He suggested that in view of the provisions required for acknowledging the university and subsequent pressure from some quarters, it would be advisable to reserve the Bill for consideration of the President of India, in exercise of his power under Article 200 of the Constitution, as the issue entails wider legal ramifications.

In his address, he stated that many private universities have challenged the provisions of the amending act itself thereby exposing their intention and purpose “that they do not want to create any infrastructure but merely want to have right of conferring degrees and earning money”.

Earlier, the Governor had sought clarifications from the government regarding the Bill passed by Punjab Assembly on October 18 with an aim to set up university at Jalandhar by Lovely International Trust.


Students urged to cleanse political system
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 19
While delivering a lecture on “Students and politics” at the Akal Degree College for Women here today, Mr Dalbir Singh, Deputy Editor of Punjabi Tribune, called upon the students not to indulge in politics based on religion, caste and regionalism etc. He said they should also understand the politics in a good sense as they had a capacity to change society as a whole.

He further said if the students adopted the right path in the political field, they could play a vital role in building the country and society on a strong foothold. He said they had also power to set up a corruption-free political system.

Mr Dalbir Singh also stated that the capitalistic system always tried to divert the attention of the youth towards contests like Miss World or other vulgar cultural activities, so that they could not think about problems of the country, due to which the countrymen were facing poverty, illiteracy and unemployment.

Dr A.S. Mann, president of the Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum, Sangrur, said there should be specific qualifications for the ministers. He also said the ministers, former ministers, MLAs or former-MLAs should not enjoy facilities like security, as the same attracted bad elements of society to enter the politics.

Among others who spoke on the occasion included Prof Jagdev Singh Sohi, Prof Santokh Kaur, Principal Harjit Kaur, Mr Sham Lal, a former Principal of a local school; and Mr Jaswinder Kumar, press secretary of the Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum.

Earlier in the day, Mr Dalbir Singh also delivered a lecture on “Students and politics” on Pharmacy College campus at Mastuana Sahib. Mr Balwant Singh Gill, president of the Akal College Council, Mastuana Sahib, presided over the lecture.


Textile mill workers on strike
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 19
Workers of the Kharar Textile Mills continued their strike in support of their demands outside the factory here today.

The workers of the mill, which is a unit of the National Textile Corporation, have been agitating since November 12. As many as 336 workers, who were relieved by the management on September 30, protested against the failure of the factory to pay their dues.

They said that they were relieved under the modified voluntary retirement scheme (MVRS). At that time they were given an assurance that they would given their dues under the MVRS within a month. If this was not done, they would be given a monthly salary till the date the dues were released. They lamented that so far they had been given neither their dues nor the promised salary.

It is alleged that the protesters were not allowing 28 retained officials to enter the factory as a result of which work had been hit.

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