P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Governor for umbrella body for all ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today called for the setting up of an umbrella body for all ranks of ex-servicemen that would act as a common platform for the welfare of the ex-servicemen and their families.

Presiding over the 28th meeting of the Punjab Rajya Sainik Board at Raj Bhavan here, he said that the umbrella body would help in providing a more effective and responsive mechanism to respond to the needs of the ex-servicemen and the redressal of their problems under a time-bound programme.

He suggested that the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare may initiate the process of dialogue with different ex-servicemen groups for creating a single forum through general consensus.

Emphasising the need for expanding opportunities for ex-servicemen to utilise their potential, experience and expertise, General Rodrigues said that they can become instruments of change for the transformation of society.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Defence Welfare, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, in his remarks said that the Punjab Government was making sincere efforts for resettlement and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, disabled soldiers/widows and their dependents by adopting multi-prolonged strategies.

Prominent among others who attended the meeting included Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr J.S. Gill, Secretary Defence Welfare, Mrs Geetika Kalha, Director, Sainik Welfare, Brig. J.S. Jaswal, Secretary to Governor, Mr N.S. Kang, and senior army and civil officers.


SGPC accepts existence of PSGPC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today accepted existence of the six and half-year-old Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC).

SGPC chief, Avtar Singh said that he would lead a delegation of Shiromani Committee members to Pakistan to take up issues like the restoration of ‘Maryada’ (Sikh code of conduct) and carrying out ‘Kar Seva’ in Sikh shrines of Pakistan. This is first major development when the SGPC chief reversed the decision of his predecessor, Bibi Jagir Kaur who had adopted the policy of ‘non-cooperation’ with the PSGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur had stopped sending ‘Jathas’ to Pakistan to protest against the formation of the PSGPC on April 15, 1999, two days after tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth.

The announcement of virtual recognition of the PSGPC came after a day of the ‘Palki’ procession taken out from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib. The announcement seems to have been made to counter the clout of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President DSGMC, especially in Pakistan.

Though the late Jathedar Gurcharn Singh Tohra, a former SGPC chief and many other Sikh organisations initially had stated that Pakistan being a sovereign country could form the gurdwara committee, yet the SGPC had failed to reconcile with the fact that its control over Pakistan gurdwaras had been taken out forever.

Mr Avtar Singh announced that the SGPC would cooperate with the PSGPC for installation of Guru Granth Sahib in all the the gurdwaras in Pakistan.

The SGPC chief had a closed-door meeting with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, and discussed Panthic issues. Earlier, he had said that Jathedar Akal Takht was seized of various Panthic issue including allowing baptised Sikh women to perform kirtan or cleaning sanctum sanctorum of Harmandar Sahib or other religious issues.

The SGPC chief, however, denied that there was boycott of the golden palanquin carrying Guru Granth Sahib .He claimed that instructions were issued to all gurdwara managers of historic gurdwaras in Punjab and Haryana to serve Langar, apart from taking necessary arrangements for the Sikh Sangat participating in the religious procession.

Meanwhile, the SGPC chief made surprise checks in various departments and found at least 40 employees not adhering to dress code or those coming late in the office. Giving a warning, he said indiscipline or violation of service rules won’t be tolerated.


News Analysis
Sena developments lesson for SAD
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
Developments in the Shiv Sena are obviously of little consequence to Punjab. But for the Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, these should serve as a lesson.

Mr Badal may find himself in similar circumstances in the near future as Mr Bal Thackerey is right now, when the battle for succession begins within his own party. As Mr Badal is ageing, the issue of his successor has already started cropping up in the SAD.

There is already talk of Mr Sukhbir Badal being groomed for the top post. He is even projected as a chief ministerial candidate, much to the chagrin of the aspiring probables like Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and even Mr Surjit Singh Barnala.

There are strong parallels between the Shiv Sena and the SAD. Both have their ideological foundations in religion. Mr Badal’s SAD depends too much on his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, and his nephew, Mr Manpreet Badal, as Mr Thackeray depended on his son, Mr Udhav Thackery, and nephew, Mr Raj Thackeray. Both remain family-run enterprises. Interestingly, both are the alliance partners of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Like Mr Badal has his bete noire in Capt Amarinder Singh, a former Akali and close confidante, who ensured his jail yatra, Bal Thackeray has Mr Chagan Bhujbal, who also tried in vain to ensure Mr Thackeray’s imprisonment at one time. Now Mr Thackeray has another rebel in Mr Narayan Rane, followed by his own nephew, Mr Raj Thackeray. The list may get longer in time.

Besides the parochial and religious ideologies, both the Shiv Sena and the SAD have been playing up regional sentiments. The Shiv Sena’s space is already being filled by the Nationalist Congress Party. Small wonder that the NCP got more seats in the assembly elections than its alliance partner, the Congress, and much more than the Shiv Sena. The NCP is gaining ground at the expense of the Shiv Sena.

So far, Mr Badal did not have to worry much on this count as he thought his party was the only alternative to the Congress as it could conveniently mix religion and regionalism to its own advantage. The Shiv Sena was not only communal and parochial, it was even xenophobic. The alliance with the BJP tried to neutralise its xenophobic tendency as that was contrary to the BJP’s idea of Hindutva. Similarly, the alliance of the SAD with the BJP in Punjab also tried to neutralise its somewhat “exclusive Sikh appeal”.

Now Mr Badal is being challenged on his own turf. It is not only Capt Amarinder Singh who is fiddling with religion and snatching away Mr Badal’s agenda, on which he thought the SAD had an exclusive patent, the proactive approach of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee (DSGPC) president, Mr PS Sarna, should definitely be a cause of concern for Mr Badal.

This is particularly after the phenomenal response his politically motivated ‘golden palki march’ to Nankana Sahib got from the Sikh masses. The splinter Akali groups and their leaders, most of whom have at one time or other been part of the SAD or associates of Mr Badal, would also try to capitalise on the huge response of the people to the march.


Badal ups the ante on Jagjit Singh issue
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 30
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, said here today that his party would take up the issue of alleged corruption, raised by the Kharar MLA, against Ch Jagit Singh, Punjab’s Minister for Local Government, in the Vidhan Sabha.

Mr Badal, who was talking to mediapersons after inaugurating a residential colony here today, said the Congress had one set of laws for the ruling party and another for the Opposition.

He said when the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who also held the post of the Deputy Speaker earlier, was levelling allegations of corruption against a minister, the Chief Minister should have inquired into the matter instead of giving a clean chit to Ch Jagjit Singh.

In the case of Akali leaders, cases were registered on the behest of the government on the basis of allegations, he said.

He alleged that corruption was going on unabated during the Congress rule in the state. Unauthorised residential colonies were mushrooming and no action was being taken by the authorities concerned in this regard.


Bir Devinder says ball in Dullo’s court
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 30
“I have not levelled allegations of corruption against Ch Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Government, Punjab. Whatever I have said, was Hakikat.”

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, while talking to mediapersons at a function in the Civil Hospital here today.

He said he had no differences with Ch Jagjit Singh but had only brought out some issues related to the Minister to the notice of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

When asked why the Punjab Chief Minister had given a clean chit to Ch Jagjit Singh, the MLA said: “Captain can overrule the comments of a soldier”.

He said he was served a show-cause notice by the state party president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to which he had given a reply which ran into 107 pages.

The MLA refused to divulge the details of the reply. He said the ball was now in the court of the party president and it was to be seen what action would be taken by him in this regard.


Political scene hots up in Malwa
Cong to begin poll campaign from Lambi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
With Assembly elections just a year away the Congress and SAD have started flexing their muscles in Malwa region. Both parties are set to hit the campaign trail in the coming two weeks.

While the Congress, in a bid to make inroads into Mr Badal’s citadel, seemed determined to enter electoral arena with a “historic rally” at Lambi on December 11, the SAD had already displayed its might at the inauguration of party supremo Parkash Singh Badal’s old age home at Badal village a couple of weeks back.

The Congress was earlier planning to hold the Lambi rally in mid-November, but state mourning after the death of former President Mr K.R. Narayanan led to its postponement. However, it came as a boon for the ruling party, as the region’s farmers were busy sowing wheat crop and it could have turned out to be a lacklustre affair.

The Congress would leave no stone unturned to bring in hordes of people for the Lambi rally, as central party leaders, including Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni, are expected to attend the same.

The PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, during his recent tour to Lambi, made it clear that the party would lend top priority to Malwa in its electoral campaign.

Sources said the party was also facing the challenge of keeping jobless ETT teachers and agitating PSEB employees at bay during the rally, as they might play a spoilsport.

On the other hand, the SAD has also switched over to election mode. Though Mr Badal had clarified that his newly built old age home had nothing to do with politics, there was a buzz in political circles that his move was aimed at capturing votes of senior citizens. Some even termed it a “shrewd move” to garner votes of the heads of families, which would further rope in votes of their family members.

While Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was busy wooing Sikh voters through “palki politics”, the SAD was eyeing the Congress’ vote bank and it would hold rallies for Dalits and Hindus in the coming days. The first “Hindu rally” would be held in Bathinda on December 18 and the party leaders had been told to make sure to gather an impressive crowd, largely comprising Hindus, as Mr Badal would address the rally.

Prior to it, the party would also hold a rally to mark the 33rd death anniversary of Sant Baba Fateh Singh at Badiala village on December 5.


Cong infighting leaves cooperative bodies without office-bearers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 30
Face-off between leaders of ruling party here has been keeping many cooperative bodies in the district without office-bearers. It has been affecting working of the bodies as bureaucrats are controlling these and not elected members.

Major cooperative bodies that are without office-bearers include the Labour and Construction Cooperative Society, the Market Committee, Gurdaspur, the Gusdaspur Central Cooperative Bank, the Land Mortgage Bank and the Gurdaspur Agriculture Cooperative Bank.

Election for office-bearers of the Labour and Construction Cooperative Society is due since the Congress government came to power in the state. Sources said elections to the office-bearers were not being held due to ruling party leaders, who want their men at the helm of these bodies.

Election to the office-bearers of the Market Committee, Gurdaspur, has also not been held due to similar reason. Local MLA Khushal Behl and Rajya Sabha member from the area Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, want to appoint their men to key posts in the Gurdaspur Market Committee. The sources here said that the Gurdaspur Market Committee was the only committee in the state for which office-bearers have not been appointed.

Fight for elections for office-bearers to the Gurdaspur Central Cooperative Bank has already begun.

Earlier the post of Chairman of the Gurdaspur Central Cooperative Bank was held by SAD leader Jagdish Singh Walia. Now Congress men want to wrest control of the bank. However, infighting has been marring their chances. A group of Congress leaders are supporting Mr Ravinder Sharma, for the post of chairman of the bank. Another group was lobbying for the son of a minister from the district.

Elections to the office-bearers of the Land Mortgage Bank and Gurdaspur Agriculture Cooperative Bank were also pending since the present government took charge.

Congress men from the district are of the view that the infighting between their leaders was marring their chances to gain control of the cooperative bodies. The leaders have also harmed interests of cooperative members by leaving control of the bodies in the hands of bureaucrats.

Now with just one year of Congress government left, it was their last chance to put their men at the helm in cooperative bodies in the district.


Inside Babudom
Three officers in race for Chief Secretary’s post
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Who will succeed, Mr Jai Singh Gill, as Chief Secretary of Punjab. This issue has become a hot topic of discussion among babus, politicians and others concerned in the state.

Mr Gill, one of the most discreet bureaucrats will retire in two months from now.On retirement,he is expected to be appointed as Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission in place of, Mr R.S. Mann, who is to retire in January, 2006.

Sources said three IAS officers were in a race to fill the slot to be vacated by Mr Gill. They are Mr P.K. Verma, an IAS officer of 1970 batch, his batch mate, Mr A.K. Dubey, and Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, an IAS officer of 1972 batch. All these three officers are holding important posts and are in the good books of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. While, Mr Verma is holding the post of Financial Commissioner (Development), Mr Dubey is Principal Secretary (Home) and Mr Lakhanpal is Principal Secretary (Finance).

After Mr Gill, the seniormost IAS officer at present is Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj, who will retire on December 31, a month before Mr Gill.

If one is to go by the seniority list, Mr Bikramjit Singh will be the seniormost officer after the retirement of Mrs Bajaj and Mr Gill. However, his chance of becoming the Chief Secretary is almost nil. He is considered close to Akalis especially, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in whose government he served as a Principal Secretary to the CM for a brief period.

Next comes Mr Verma in seniority. He is to retire on November 30, 2006. If he is appointed, he will be having only 10 months to serve as Chief Secretary.

That means, Capt Amarinder Singh, will have to bring a new face as Chief Secretary in December, only two months before his government completes its tenure of five years in February, 2007.

After Mr Verma in seniority comes the number of Mr V.N. Ojha and Mr K.K. Bhatnagar. Mr Ojha is to retire in September, 2006. Mr Bhatnagar in June, 2007. Then comes the number of Dubey. He is to retire on October, 2007. His chances of becoming the Chief Secretary are quite high. After Mr Dubey, in seniority comes the number of Mr B.R. Bajaj, Mrs Satwant Reddy, Mr Amitabha Pande and Mr Lakhanpal.

Mr Bajaj is from the 1970 batch and is to retire in January, 2008 and Mrs Reddy and Mr Pande are from 1971 batch and Mr Lakhanpal, who is to retire in August 2007, is from 1972 batch.

It is every IAS officer’s dream to hold the office of the Chief Secretary, which is considered the most cherished position in a career of a bureaucrat. Sources said that two lobbies of industrialists were working hard in support of two different officers to get the top job for the officer of their choice.

As the next year is the election year, it will be crucial for Capt Amarinder Singh to pick up the officer for the top slot in the state.


DC sanctions Rs 21,000 for 70-year-old’s grandchildren
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
Even at the age of over 70 Hari Singh of Balhar Mehma village has been forced to work as daily wage worker to rear his three grandchildren, who were left behind by their mother following a love affair. A Lok Suvidha camp at Goniana Mandi brought reprieve for him in the form of financial aid and facility of school uniform and books.

Narrating his tale to The Tribune, Hari Singh said he had two granddaughters — Sarbjeet (8) and Veerpal (6) and four-year-old grandson Satnam.

His daughter-in-law Rajjo eloped with a villager three years back, which left her husband Balbir Singh shocked. He now was bed-ridden, while Hari’s wife was visually impaired. His other son has separated from the family and lived separately.

Hari had been working as daily wage worker to feed his family of six, besides doing household chores, as his wife could only extend little help. He said though he admitted his grandchildren to the village’s elementary school, he didn’t have enough resources to educate them. “I can’t earn much at this age, as my health doesn’t allow me to work beyond certain limit,” he lamented.

Hari Singh today approached Deputy Commissioner, Rahul Bhandari, with his grievance. The DC asked the Red Cross general secretary to open bank accounts in the name of his grandchildren, besides making arrangements for school uniforms, woollen clothes and stationery. He said he would deposit Rs 21,000 in their account to be operated by their grandfather.

Meanwhile, the DC sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for the re-construction of the bus stand at Goniana Mandi, besides granting another Rs 2 lakh for water supply in the area. The camp witnessed redressal of grievances of 2,500 people through 25 counters of various departments.


Jalandhar, Amritsar to have ART centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
With a view to strengthening partnerships for safer tomorrow, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Northern Region, in association with doctors, policy makers and representatives from State AIDS Control Society, Haryana, today made various solution-seeking deliberations on the issue.

Present on the occasion was Mr D.S. Guru, Secretary Health, Government of Punjab, who said various measures had been initiated by the state government to address the problem which was no longer merely a health issue but had socio-economic ramifications as well.

“To this end, two new ART (Anti-Retroviral) centres are being set up at Jalandhar and Amritsar,” said the Health Secretary. He added that auto disposable syringes were being supplied at all the health centres to prevent the spread of the disease through used syringes.

He, however, stressed that efforts should focus on generating awareness and support from the industry on the issue. According to him the industrial sector stands the most vulnerable as the HIV virus targets a workforce which is in its economic prime. Discussing the school AIDS programme, Mr Guru said the principals in the eight districts of Punjab had been trained and the programme was being taken up seriously in nine other districts of the state.

Chairman, CII Chandigarh Council Krishan Goyal highlighted the issue as the biggest developmental challenge of all times. Mr Goyal informed that the organisation had taken on the mandate of catalysing industries involvement in India’s social development agenda, particularly HIV/AIDS.

As a social ambassador, Gursewak Maan who is a popular Punjabi singer, requested the youth to be responsible citizens and urged the masses to join hands against the growing menace of HIV/AIDS. Dr Ajay Wanchu, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, PGI, too added that though the available treatment was non-curative but was suppressive enough to enable a normal life for years.


3 black bucks killed in sanctuary
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 30
Three black bucks have been killed in the wildlife sanctuary here, official sources confirmed this evening.

According to reports, Raj Kanwal Suthar, a mason, found a skinless carcass of a black buck in a room as he finished his work at the farmhouse of Kaka Singh near Himmatpura village today.

The farmhouse is located on a road 4 km from Bishanpura village close to the Rajasthan border. A jute bag covered the carcass.

Suthar preferred not to raise alarm and informed members of the Akhil Bhartiya Jeev Raksha Bishnoi Sabha.

Armed activists of the sabha reached to the farmhouse. Kaka Singh, smelling the trouble, had already left the farmhouse by then along with his family. The carcass too had been removed from the room.

Sources said officials of the Wildlife and Forest departments too reached village Himmatpura village and a search was launched. After a few minute, skins, legs and horns of three black bucks, dumped near a toilet, were found.

Official sources said a case under sub-sections 16, 26, 9, 18 and 39 of the Section 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act had been registered.


Sambar rescued
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 30
Former wildlife warden member of the state Staff Selection Board Kamal Bakshi yesterday rescued a sambar from getting killed at the hands of stray dogs and villagers. Mr Bakshi said the sambar strayed into Malumua village near the Indo-Pak border.

Stray dogs started chasing the sambar. Some villagers also tried to hunt down the animal. However, after getting information Mr Bakshi reached the spot and rescued the animal.

The sambar was taken by officials to the Dhar forest areas and released. Forests of the Shivalik hills in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Una districts have small population of sambars.


Army aspirants duped of lakhs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
Even as cheating of aspirants in recruitment of teachers and employees in other sectors was common, a gang of swindlers had duped a number of unsuspecting youths of lakhs of rupees promising them a job in the Army.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Hardeep Singh of Jaimal Singh Wala village alleged that an ex-serviceman claimed that he could get him and his brother Baljinder Singh recruited on a civil post at Bathinda cantonment.

He alleged that they were issued verification certificates bearing stamps and signatures of cantonment officials. These certificates were to be verified by the Deputy Commissioner office in Sangrur.

However, when Hardeep scrutinised these certificates along with Capt Kirtan Singh (retd) of his village they turned out to be forged. He alleged that another youth was duped in a similar way. On being approached, the ex-serviceman refunded money of one of them and gave a cheque of HDFC Bank to another. But the cheque bounced due to insufficient money in the account.

Now, these youths are looking for him and his aides, but have failed to trace them. Jagjeet Singh of Nathana village also disclosed that he had paid the same gang Rs 90,000 for getting his brother-in-law Harpreet Singh and his friend Sukhbir Singh recruited in the Army, but nothing materialised. The gang didn’t refund their money. Disillusioned with the incident, these aggrieved youths had now lodged a complaint with the police.


Bungling of MC funds alleged
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, November 30
At a meeting of the Municipal Council here today, a senior councillor Vimal Thathai, of the ruling Congress party, lambasted officials allegedly for conspiring to siphon off funds. Mr Thathai, speaking on the very first resolution, wondered the council had not been able to arrange funds for the fire engines donated by the Punjab State Mandi Board two decades back. He regretted, working of the fire station had not been streamlined. He opposed the sanction of Rs 10,000 more to a fireman for getting an ‘abandoned’ vehicle repaired asserting that the funds would be siphoned off.

Mr Thathai again took civic officials to task when they sought Rs 25,000 for preparing site plans for the immovable property. He reminded the authorities of similar expenses made in the past without achieving any goal. Some BJP and SAD Councillors used the opportunity to attack the ruling party. They said that the Congress-ruled council talked of financial crisis but today moved a resolution for spending Rs 1 lakh on putting sign boards to welcome the Chief Minister for fulfilling election promises.

The council resolved to put sign boards on the national highway crossing in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court. The council, taking up a resolution at the same meeting said since it was facing paucity of funds for development, the offer by the Truck Operators Union should be accepted.


Khalra panel cries foul
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 30
The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) and the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) in a press statement issued here today alleged that the policemen convicted in the Jaswant Singh Khalra murder case were moving freely.

Ms Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of Mr Khalra of the KMC, and Justice Ajit Singh Bains and Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, chairman and deputy chairman of the PHRO, alleged that workers of their organisations had seen Jasbir Singh Bhagupur, former SHO of Manochahal, moving on a motor cycle on November 24 at Patti, while Satnam Singh, former SHO of Chabal, was seen in Batala the same day. The signatories said that they had proofs in this matter. The signatories demanded a judicial inquiry into the allegation.

The leaders further alleged that the state government, the Union home ministry and the Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk, are behind this illegal act. 


Dhindsa for probe into Sikhs’ killing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, today urged the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Mrs Vasundhra Raje, to order an inquiry into the brutal killing of three Sikhs in Moosa Khera village in Alwar district on November 24.

In a letter addressed to the Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr Dhindsa said that even after six days of the crime, no action had been initiated by the authorities concerned. “As such, Sikhs in Alwar district were under constant fear and threat from other communities. There is also tension in the area,” wrote Mr Dhindsa.

He also wanted that suitable compensation should be announced for next of kin of those killed in the November 24 violence.


AIDS workshop
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
A workshop on HIV/AIDS was organised at Swami Vivekananda Girls College, Bathinda, on Wednesday. Principal Raj Gupta sensitised the students about the transmission of HIV, its symptoms, testing and counselling.


Court awards higher relief for farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
Following the claim of some farmers whose land was acquired for Guru Gobind Singh Refinery, the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Raj Shekhar Atri, has termed their land as irrigated in his verdict, paving the way for payment of another Rs 75,000 per acre to them.

Sources said at the time of acquisition of land for the refinery project the land rates were fixed at Rs 2. 75 lakh per acre for barren land and Rs 3. 5 lakh per acre for irrigated land.

Dissatisfied with the assessment process, a section of the farmers from Rama Mandi, Malkana and Phulokhari had accused revenue officials of deliberately showing their land as barren. They had taken up the matter with the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who ordered a special girdawri, which revealed that the land in question was indeed irrigated.

The farmers then claimed genuine price of their land as per the Land Acquisition Act. The collector referred the case to the court that announced its verdict in the favour of the farmers yesterday.


Male child aborted after wrong test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 30
A couple here, due to wrong detection of the sex of foetus lost male child whose sex could be known after illegal abortion only.

The police has booked the doctor and the couple for the abortion of male child.

According to information, Vinod Kumar of Sultanwind road who already has two daughters asked Dr Ravi Sharma of a private diagnostic centre in hide market here to determine the sex of his unborn child. He asked Dr Ravi to abort the girl child after getting the report from him. The doctor hired a midwife, who went to the house of Vinod Kumar and aborted the child.

She fled the scene when she came to know about the real sex of the child after abortion.

When this came to the notice of Vinod Kumar and his family, they went to doctor’s clinic and found the doctor missing from the centre. They informed the police which reportedly recovered Rs 23000 from the spot and got the post-mortem examination of the aborted child done. The police registered a case against the accused doctor and the couple who are absconding after the incident.

The Health Department had sealed the ultrasound machine on November 29, 2004 and September 29, 2005 for same reasons.

But, the accused doctor continued with illegal practice after the sealing of machine by the Health Department.


Jagnoor declared best debater in inter-varsity contest
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Jagnoor Singh, a fifth semester student of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib, was declared best debater at the National Inter-University Debate Competition organised by the Indian Association of Parliamentarian on Population and Development (IAPPD) at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi recently.

The Principal of the college, Dr D.S. Hira said IAPPD had organised a national debate on vital topic “Rapid Population Growth Leads to Environmental Degradation and Slow National Development” which was won by Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar .

He said the PTU team, included Jagnoor Singh of BBSBEC, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Varun Kumar of DAVIET, Jalandhar.

He said university teams from all over the country participated in this national event and after zonal and Inter-zonal competitions finally 20 university teams were shortlisted for the final competition. In the final competition Jagnoor Singh was declared national best debater.

Prof Gurpal Singh, in charge cultural affairs of the college, said the PTU team won cash Prize of Rs 5000 along with a trophy and Certificates. 


Banda Bahadur college gets ISTE award

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
The Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) Best Chapter Award 2005 has been awarded to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee-run Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Principal D.S. Hira said ISTE, New Delhi executive secretary Raghuvir Singh in a communique to the college said Fatehgarh Sahib had been identified as the best Chapter of the ISTE among Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kahsmir on the basis of the activities carried out during 2005. He said the award consists of a medallion and a citation. The presentation of ISTE awards will be made during the inauguration function of the 35th annual convention of the ISTE on December 15, 2005, at Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology, Davangere, Karnataka.

He said apart from the ISTE college chapter, the college was also member of other professional bodies — Institution of Engineers India, Computer Society of India and Society of Automotive Engineers, which promotes technical skills of students along with their education. OC


2 students hurt in lathi charge
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 30
Two students were injured when police yesterday reportedly resorted to a lathi charge on the students, who were blocking Sunam-Mansa main road at Cheema village, near Sunam, as part of a traffic jam call by seven student organisations.

The students had blocked the road in support of student organisations demands, including reinstatement of expelled student leaders of Punjabi University, Patiala, and stoppage of privatisation of the educational institutions in the state.


BSNL cuts call rates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has announced significant reduction in the call rates of its prepaid cellular services “Excel” in Punjab Circle with effect from today. Besides the reduced call rates, BSNL is also introducing a new recharge coupon of five-year validity for its prepaid customers.

Giving this information, Mr G.S. Bhatia, Chief General Manager, Telecom, Punjab Circle, said now the local call rates (cell to cell within BSNL network) for Excel customers in Punjab will be Rs 0.40 paisa per minute instead of the earlier rate of Rs 0.90 paisa per minute. The SMS rates have also been drastically reduced from the earlier tariff of Rs 0.60 paisa per message to Rs 0.10 paisa per message for messages sent within the Punjab telecom circle.

The call rates have also been reduced for local cell to cell calls to other mobile service providers from Rs 0.90 paisa per minute to Rs 0.60 paisa per minute. These reductions in call rates are applicable to all existing and new Excel customers without any additional rental.

Mr Bhatia informed that BSNL has introduced a special recharge coupon in the Punjab circle of Rs 4,000 denomination, in which the customers can get validity of five years without any further recharge or condition of minimum balance. In addition to the validity of five years, the customer will get a talk time of Rs 1,200 at the reduced call rates.

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