P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vedanti refuses to appear in court
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
The Spokesman case (Punjabi daily) today took a serious turn when Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, announced that he would neither receive summons nor appear in any court.

This development may cause unsavoury situation in the coming days even as the declaration of Jathedar Akal Takht would be considered an open challenge to the judiciary.

Talking to The Tribune here, Jathedar Vedanti claimed that no court of land had the jurisdiction to take any decision on the “hukmnama” (edict), pronounced by the Sikh clergy. He claimed that Mr Joginder Singh, Editor, Spokesman, was ex-communicated as per the age-old tradition and conventions and the Sikh Panth had been accepting the “maryada” (Sikh code of conduct) in letter and in spirit.

Jathedar Vedanti, however, said he did not challenge the jurisdiction of the court with regard to the routine civil and criminal cases and held the judiciary in high esteem. However, no Jathedar of Akal Takht had ever accepted any summons, issued from the “duniavi adalats” (courts) so far as far as religious matters were concerned.

It may be mentioned here that Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh, Ms Kiran Bala, had issued a notice for March 7 to Jathedar Vedanti, SGPC chief Avtar Singh and Media Adviser of Shiromani Committee Harbir Singh Bhanwar, on a contempt petition filed by Mr Joginder Singh, Editor, of a newly-launched Punjabi daily, Spokesman.

Mr Joginder Singh had moved an application that the SGPC President and Jathedar Akal Takht had violated the court direction to maintain status quo by appealing to the Sikh community not to have any ties, either with Mr Singh or his daily, which was launched from SAS Nagar on December 1. The Editor, had, earlier filed a suit for declaring the edict ex-communicating him as void and illegal in the court of judicial magistrate. The court had disposed of the application for interim injunction, directing both parties to maintain status quo.

Jathedar Vedanti claimed that the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurdial Singh Ajnoha, too, had refused to accept the summons issued by a court on the basis of a writ petition filed by late Jathedar Santokh Singh Delhi.

Similarly, Bhai Ranjit Singh had also refused to appear in the court regarding a pending case in New Delhi when he was Jathedar, Akal Takht.

Mr G.S. Lamba , a senior advocate and Editor of monthly “Sant Sipahi”, advised Jathedar of Akal Takht to ignore the court summons. Mr Bhanwar also claimed that Jathedar of Akal Takht was not bound to receive the summons issued by a court.

Jathedar Vedanti said the Sikh clergy might seek report from Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, both former Akali ministers, as to why they had violated the edict by having links with Mr Joginder Singh, Editor Spokesman. 


Dalit bonded labourer’s son freed
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 16
Alleged bonded labourer, Dalit youth Kamikar Singh, son of Mr Ram Singh, of Lasoi village, 12 km from Malerkotla, was freed by Mr Ish Kumar, Warrant Officer, Punjab and Haryana High Court, from landlords of Lasoi village yesterday.

Mr Kamikar Singh told The Tribune today he was picked up by five persons, including Ram Singh, a landlord of Lasoi village, his two sons and two other persons from Roorrike brick kiln on December 12 last.

They took him to the residence of the landlord where he was kept in illegal custody for three days. He also alleged that he had been beaten up by the landlord and members of his family to compel him to bring his father for working in the fields of the landlord. He added he had been spraying pesticide in the field of the landlord when the warrant officer got him freed on December 15 from the landlord.

Mr Ram Singh, father of Mr Kamikar Singh, who belongs to Ramdasia caste, said earlier on November 30 last landlord Ram Singh and his two sons tried to pick him up from a brick kiln of the Lasoi village, but he fled from there. When they failed to nab him then they picked up his son from the brick kiln on December 12 and kept him in illegal custody.

Mr Ram Singh added on this he approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court on December 14 while the high court on the same day appointed a Warrant Officer to search Kamikar Singh in Lasoi village. After this, on December 15 the warrant officer with a police party from Malerkotla and members of the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan (DDVA), including Mr Harinder Singh, Sangrur district in charge of the DDVA, raided Lasoi village and found Kamikar Singh, working in the fields of the landlord.

Mr Ram Singh stated that he had been working as a “Siri” with the landlords including Mr Ram Singh and Mr Bop Singh, for the past 12 years, but they had not been paying any wages to him, they had been giving him meal, clothes and daily needs only. So he decided not to work with the landlord, as he was a bonded labourer of them. He said on September 24 he also made a complaint before the District Magistrate, Sangrur, that he was a bonded labourer of the landlord. He prayed to the District Magistrate to set him free from the bondage. On this the District Magistrate ordered an inquiry by the SDM and after that he left the job of “Siri”, he added.

Mr Ram Singh also stated that the landlord wanted Rs 25,000 from him by saying that it was due towards him. So till he did not repay the amount they would not allow him to work anywhere.

He also claimed that he had taken Rs 25,000 from the landlord 12 years ago, which was still Rs 25,000, he added.


Vijay Divas celebrated with fervour
Tribune Reporters

Commanding Officer Col Ashutosh Kale alights from the jeep that 3 Grenadiers had captured from 35 Frontier Force of Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, at Bathinda Cantt on Friday.
Commanding Officer Col Ashutosh Kale alights from the jeep that 3 Grenadiers had captured from 35 Frontier Force of Pakistan during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, at Bathinda Cantt on Friday. — Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, December 16
To commemorate the exemplary acts of valour of soldiers of the Indian Army, Vijay Divas was celebrated by Chetak Corps here today. 3 Grenadiers also celebrated its Battle Honour Day with traditional splendour and gaiety.

Brig S.S. Tonk of 3 Grenadiers along with special guest Col Satish Khanna (retd) arrived at the celebration venue on a jeep that the battalion had snatched from 35 Frontier Force of Pakistan after a battle at Jarpal sector during 1971 war.

The celebrations was graced by war-widows, a host of retired and serving officers, JCOs and OR of the battalion.

The Station Commander, Bathinda Military Station, Brig Rajinder Singh, laid a wreath at Nand Singh Chowk followed by other senior serving and retired Army officers and civil dignitaries. Over 150 veterans were felicitated at war veterans’ meet.

Addressing the gathering, Major-Gen JS Herr highlighted the welfare measures being provided by the state government and the Army for the benefit of ex-servicemen. Brig Rajinder Singh praised the war veterans for sacrifices made by them. He said even now they were considered a part of the Army and any assistance required would be readily provided to them.

The war veterans were also briefed on Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), besides being apprised of Jai Jawan Awas Yojna, a housing scheme being undertaken by the Army to provide low-cost housing to serving and retired personnel of the armed forces.

Amritsar: Vijay Divas was celebrated to mark the historic occasion of victory by the Indian Army in the 1971 Indo-Pak war at Dograi War Memorial here today.

Brig Raghu Kapoor, officiating GOC, Panther Division, paid tributes to the soldiers who laid their lives for the integrity and honour of the nation.

Relating the significance of the day, Brig Kapoor said the occasion was historic for the Indian Army as on this day in 1971, Pakistan's Lt- Gen Niazi along with 93,000 soldiers surrendered to India.

Various officers, JCOs and other soldiers of Panther Division and number of ex-servicemen were also present on the occasion.


War veterans struggle to survive
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 16
They fought enemy forces with matchless courage in World War II, but today they are fighting battle of survival in twilight years of their age.

Talking to The Tribune at the War Veterans Meet held as part of Vijay Divas celebrations, Mr Preetam Singh, a World War II veteran from Bugar village, said he had two sons, one of whom passed away, while the other was physically disabled. “We’re surviving merely on old age pension and help from fellow villagers,” he added. His wife Surjit Kaur said the responsibility of bringing up her deceased son’s children was also on their frail shoulders.

“After a lot of efforts her handicapped son’s name has been included in the list of beneficiaries of the pension scheme, but he is yet to receive the same,” she said. An octogenarian war veteran, Ganga Singh of Kot Fatta village, has virtually lost his eyesight and couldn’t recognise anybody.

He too was receiving a paltry amount as pension, though he was staying with one of his sons with limited source of income and a family of six to look after. Another war veteran Mr Maggar Singh from Khurd Ali Sher village, who received injuries in his right leg in an explosion during World War II, lamented that they were not extended any medical facility and a monthly pension of Rs 300 was the only solace for them. 


Widows of IPKF soldiers want parity with war widows
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
“We are nobody’s babies. While the state government organises various functions to commemorate the sacrifice of war veterans, there is not a word about those who sacrificed their lives as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka 1984,” lamented widows of IPKF soldiers who came to the Vijay Divas function organised here today.

Drawing attention by protesting mildly, five widows of IPKF soldiers complained that though they were getting pension, their late husbands’ names were not remembered in any of the functions.

“Were they not Indian soldiers? Did they not sacrificed lives as a force sent by the country? Then why not even a mention of them?” questioned Kamaljit Kaur from Sajjo Majra village and her sentiments were supported by others. Her husband Nahar Singh was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam in 1984.

“There is no land or other grants for us. It is fine that we are given pension but we should be treated on a par with other war widows. Why this discrimination?” She asked adding that she was widowed 21 years ago and she had also spent her life fighting difficulties and rearing children single-handedly.

Ms Kulwinder Kaur, widow of sepoy Chamkaur Singh, who was also killed by the LTTE during the operation said that she had four-month-old daughter when her husband died. “Have I not undergone the same struggle a war widow undergoes? Then why should I not be treated equally? It was not my husband’s decision to go and start fighting in Sri Lanka,” she said.

She added that they were only given grant of Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 after their death but no land was announced for them. “They have not fought a war but that does not mean that the country should forget them so conveniently.”


Varsity help sought to hike sugar recovery
Ajay Banerjee

Chandigarh, December 16
Worried about the lowered output of sugar from sugarcane, the Punjab Government today decided to take the help of experts of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, to suggest a comprehensive plan for mills.

The state government has fixed the target of sugar production at 10 kg per quintal of sugarcane. The present output at government-run cooperative mills is nearly 9.6 kg per quintal. Private mills, which use the latest technology, are known to produce much more.

The univeristy has a Department of Sugar Technology and its experts have been asked to study the mills. They will report on the quality of sugarcane, its sugar content, the process to extract sugar and the machinery used for the purpose.

Most of the 14 cooperative sugar mills in the state are making losses. Only five of these were making a profit. Three mills have closed down. Another six have posted long-term cumulative losses.

The loss of production of 400 gm per quintal can be crucial for the profits of these mills. The five mills which have made profits in the past few years need extra production, say officials here. Questions have been raised about the viability of the cooperative mills by various financial experts. To revive all mills, an investment of nearly Rs 400 crore is required, but the Punjab Government may not be in a position to do this.

Already, the private millers pay more to attract farmers and are more prompt in payment.

Analysts have suggested that the need of the hour is to follow the pattern adopted by private mills: first, crush the cane, then use the molasses and also use the residue of the crushed cane for producing power. This formula is being followed by leading private millers.

The cooperative mills only crush the cane and the sale of molasses brings in much less money as compared to private mills. Some private mills even have their own distilleries for in-house use of molasses.


Punjab’s ex-PR man dejected
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Mr G.S. Sodhi, who retired as a Joint Director from the Punjab Public Relations Department several months ago, is a disappointed man now. The department authorities concerned have not released his gratuity of Rs 1.70 lakh.

He is a handicapped person and facing financial hardships because of the huge expenditure he had made to get his fractured leg set right. " I have visited the department authorities several times but no one is listening. I face a lot of difficulty to visit Chandigarh from Ludhiana because of my handicap", he adds.

Mr Sodhi had met with a serious accident in February, 2002. His one leg was almost crushed in that accident. He remained in hospitals at Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Delhi for about two years for the treatment of the leg. The expenditure on the treatment was to the tune of Rs 10 lakh.

" I was lucky that my relatives supported me during my days of crisis", he states. "But now I need money to meet my day-to-day needs as all lifetime savings have been spent on treatment," he adds.

Mr Sodhi said he was given the task of making arrangements at Anandpur Sahib during the Khalsa tercentenary celebrations in 1999. 


Punjabi convention today
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
It was a homecoming for about 150 delegates, who arrived here today from all over the country and the world to attend the 32nd convention of the International Punjabi Society to be inaugurated tomorrow morning.

Accompanied by their wives, they were happy to be back to their "roots" and also to have the opportunity to meet there near and dear ones. However,a common sentiment echoed by all was that the society needed to grow from being a "meeting point" to a society which "can deal with serious issues" and make a difference. "A lot more needs to be done by the society," stated Dr A.S. Marwah, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the society. A founder-member of the society, he stated that he was a little unhappy with the way the society worked collectively. "Individually we all do the best we can and also help each other out.However, together at the society level, a lot more needs to be done."

Dr. RS Upall and Mr Surender Singh Dhall, president and general secretary of the New York chapter, respectively, agreed."The last convention in Chandigarh in 1999 saw us come up with many resolutions.However, no follow-up action was taken." They agreed that the society needed to work towards being more than just a social get-together.

Dr Upall announced that he was keen to start a mobile hospital in Punjab, with its base in Chandigarh. "I have this proposal and will be discussing it with other members. We can bring in doctors from across the world and try and reach remote areas."

Talking about Punjabis abroad, Dr Upall stated that with the next generation the Punjabis would share an equal status with the rest. "Discrimination is there in America and it was felt even more after 9/11. But now things are improving." Happy with the progress Punjab had made, their only grievance was the infrastructure and slow working in the country.

The convention will be inaugurated by the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues. Though there is no formal agenda for the conference, the issue of NRIs coming to India and marrying here and then later duping there spouses for money etc has been proposed to be discussed. The convention is held annually in different parts of the world. The International Punjabi Society was founded in 1968 with late Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir, the then Chief Minister of Punjab as its president, and late Sardar Meharban Singh Dhupia as its honorary general secretary.


Sukhbir dares Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday dismissed as a “bunch of wishful and self-contradictory jokes” the ORG-MARG survey on political trends in Punjab. The report gave the Akalis 38 sure seats and the Congress 25 in the event of an immediate poll in the state and yet in its conclusions gave the Congress the edge.

However, the SAD general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, challenged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to show guts and order an immediate poll to test his popularity against that of the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. “We dare him to go to the election battlefield riding on such sponsored pro-Congress projections. Let him show the courage to believe in his own invincibility. We are ready,” said Mr Sukhbir Singh.

The Akali leader claimed that he had evidence to show at that the survey was funded by the Punjab State Electricity Board at the behest of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Sukhbir Singh was reacting to the ORG-MARG poll published by a section of the Press today. He said the degree of anti- Akali bias in the survey was evident from the vast divergence between details of the findings and the conclusions drawn. 


Advanced trauma centre to be set up in Rajindra Hospital
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The Punjab Government, GOMCO Alumni Association and the Patiala Health Foundation USA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a trauma care centre in Patiala.

Stating this here today, a spokesman of the government said the agreement mainly aimed at setting up of an Advanced Trauma Care Centre on the premises of the Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital to cater to the needs of the people of Patiala and surrounding areas.

The GOMCO Alumni Association Patiala and Patiala Health Foundation USA have both approached the Punjab Government for allocation of 4698.82 sq. yds. of land on lease within the premises of the medical college here.

Giving details of the agreement, the spokesman said GOMCO and Patiala Health Foundation USA would on their own invest a minimum of Rs 6 crore or more on the construction and for providing equipment for the trauma centre in a phased manner within two years of the date of signing of this agreement.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, during her resent visit to the USA had envisaged the setting up of this advanced institute.

Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, would lay the foundation stone of the trauma centre.


Poor bundh upkeep poses problems for BSF
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 16
Wild growth and improper maintenance of the earthen bundh on the Indo-Pak border have created problems for the BSF.

Sources in the BSF said their patrolling parties faced visibility problem while patrolling border from the bundh. They were also facing problems in plying vehicles due to poor condition of the bundh in some of the areas.

The authorities had repeatedly written on the issue to the Punjab irrigation authorities and the Central Government. At present, the maintenance and clearing of the wild growth from the bundh was the onus of the Punjab Irrigation Department. Peeved at the inaction of the department, the BSF authorities had pleaded the Union Government to hand over the work to them, they added.

The bundh was brought up to save border areas from floods, besides acting as defence line. The Union Government had provided a major portion of the amount spent on bringing it up. However, the onus of maintaining the bundh was on the state government.

Officers of the Department of Irrigation said the state had not provided any funds for the repair and maintenance of the bundh ever since it was brought up. Earlier, the department had class IV employees posted at the bundh. They were responsible for maintaining and clearing wild growth. Most of them had retired now, they added.

There were around 5,000 class IV employees of the department posed at the Shahpur Kandi dam. All these were being paid salaries although no work was being taken from them for the past more than five years, since the completion of the Ranjit Sagar Dam.

The field officials of the Irrigation Department had written to the dam authorities to put some employees at their disposal. However, the strong union and interests of local political leaders had prevented any such transfer. The situation was so pathetic that many of the employees, who lived at far-off places, came to the dam just to collect their salary.

The DIG BSF, Gurdaspur, Mr V.K. Sharma, admitted their patrolling parties were facing problem due wild growth and poor maintenance of the bundh.


CM urged to revive NRI Sabha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Mr Narpal Singh Shergill, a UK-based Punjabi writer and columnist, has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to revive the NRI Sabha.

In a statement here today, he said the sabha should include as its members eminent NRI Punjabis who had played some vital role in the development of the state and its culture. There were several NRIs who had been visiting Punjab regularly and had made a big contribution to the development of their respective villages.

Such persons should be taken on the apex body of the sabha by reorganising its entire structure. He said only NRIs could run the sabha.

Mr Shergill urged the Chief Minister to take personal interest in the affairs of the sabha to protect the interests of 30 lakh Punjabis living abroad. The sabha, which had its headquarters in Jalandhar, has been almost inactive for the past two years.


AITUC decries cut in EPF interest rate
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
The government must specify resources in its forthcoming Budget to pay interest at the rate of 9.5 per cent on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). This was stated here by Mr Parduman Singh, vice-president, All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

Mr Singh, while talking to The Tribune, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced recently that for the enhancement of rate of interest, the EPF office must tap its resources. But, neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister had specified the areas where they desire to invest the provident fund to increase the interest rate on the EPF.

The AITUC and other trade unions while decrying the step asserted that they would not allow the government to invest in share market due to the risks involved. “A crash in the share market would spell doom for hard-earned savings of the workers,” he added.

The AITUC vice-president said according to para 52 of the EPF Scheme, interest earned during the financial year on investment of provident fund is credited to subscribers’ accounts and the investment pattern is as per the Government of India decision from time to time.


MC flayed for enhanced water, sewerage charges
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 16
Mr R. P. Dhir, vice-chairman of the Legal Cell of the Punjab BJP, has condemned the act of the Hoshiarpur Municipal Council and the state government in demanding sewerage and water supply charges at enhanced rates in spite of a stay granted by the high court.

In a press note issued here today, he said the local MC enhanced the sewerage and water supply rates after January with retrospective effect from 2003 on flat rates.

On a petition by Simsi Dhir and others, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted stay on the new rates. After the stay order, the MC started charging the bills on the old rates and on the other side it filed an application for the vacation of stay.

The application was dismissed on September 26 this year. Mr Dhir alleged that subsequently the council had started issuing bills on enhanced rates, subject to the decision on the writ petition.

He said the high court had stayed the collection of enhanced sewerage and water supply charges and the action of the MC in demanding the bills on the enhanced rates was not only arbitrary but also unfair.

He said a writ petition was also filed by residents of Ramesh Nagar and Hari Nagar. It came up for hearing on December 15. A Division Bench of the high court again stayed the recovery of the sewerage and water charges at the enhanced rates, in the light of order passed in CWP No. 60006 of 2005 on September 8, 2005.

Mr Dhir urged the MC to abstain from charging enhanced rates till the decision on writ petitions, failing which the legal cell of the BJP would file writ petitions on behalf of thousands of citizens in that regard.

Mr Jagir Singh Thind, Executive Officer of MC, said the stay was only granted to some particular persons who had filed the writ petition in the high court. The court orders were strictly followed and no bill of enhanced rates of sewerage and water supply charges had been issued to them, he added.

The bills at enhanced rates were being charged from rest of the inhabitants of the city, he added.


LPG shortage in Malerkotla
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla , December 16
The residents of Malerkotla are facing acute shortage of cooking gas these days. While black marketers are selling cooking gas at rates much higher than prescribed, the administration is doing nothing and is apparently playing a mute spectator.

Malerkotla has two gas agencies, namely Malwa gas agency of HP gas and Malerkotla Enterprises of Indane gas.

About 21,000 house- holds are registered with Malwa gas agency as domestic consumers. According to an estimate, about 50,000 households of the town use LPG as cooking fuel.

Enquiries made by this correspondent revealed that over 90 percent of consumers, particularly migrant labourers buy LPG cylinders from the black market.

They have to shell out additional Rs 100 per cylinder. The residents alleged that they had to wait for one month after booking to get the LPG refill. But, the persons who pay additional Rs 100 with the original price can get the gas cylinder on the spot.

The Malerkotla Welfare Association president, Mr Munish Jindal, said they would launch a protest against the shortage of LPG if the government and local administration fails to resolve the crisis soon.


Beopar Mandal members lathicharged
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
Tension prevailed in Nangal subdivision in the evening when the police resorted to lathi-charge on members of the Beopar Mandal who were protesting in front of a police station against inaction with regard to slum dwellers living in the town. Six protesters sustained injuries.

The incident took place when the members of the mandal reached the police station raising the demand for the arrest of slum dwellers who had attacked their members yesterday. But the situation aggravated when they came to know that the police had arrested four members of the Beopar Mandal for beating up some slum dwellers and registered a case against five more members.

Giving information to the reporters late evening here, the DSP, Mr Jasdev Singh, said the police had registered a case against 14 persons, including nine of the Beopar Mandal and five slum dwellers under Sections 436, 452, 148, 149 of the IPC as both parties had attacked each other on two different occasions.

So far the police has arrested four members of the Beopar Mandal and five slum dwellers.

Meanwhile, the Beopar Mandal here has called for a bandh in the town tomorrow in protest.


Media seminar highlights women and child issues
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 16
The Press Information Bureau and Voluntary Health Association Punjab today organised a media seminar on women and child health issues and AIDS awareness. The seminar was organised in four sessions. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, inaugurated the seminar, where as Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Security, was the key speaker.

Delegates from all over the state participated in the seminar. Dr Harbans Lal, in his inaugural address, called upon the social organisations to come forward to eradicate social evils from society. He said government alone can not achieve any target, so it is specially the youth, who had to take the responsibility. He appreciated the efforts of these organisations in organising such seminars.

In his keynote address Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Security Child and Women Development touched upon the religious, social and political aspects in controlling crime against women. Quoting figures he said during the past five years 464 women had been murdered, 729 women had died in dowry-related cases, 1,652 rapes had been committed and 5,052 dowry cases had been registered in the state.

He said women were oppressed from womb to tomb due to scientific inventions like diagnostic aids. He said the state had the lowest sex ratio. He said though the PNDT Act was there to curb this menace but without the co-operation of society desired results could not be achieved.

He said media has to play an important role in creating awareness about these issues. The media should indulge not only in criticism but should also highlight social evils and development stories.

Mr Manmohan Sharma, Director, Voluntary Health Organisation, Dr. P.S. Jassi, former Director Health Services, Dr K.C. Dubey, Chairman AIR, Chandigarh, also spoke on the occasion.


Employees’ fast enters 75th day
Our Correspondent

Pathankot December 16
The ongoing relay fast by the employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD) here against the withdrawal of their allowances today entered in the 75th day. Sawarn Singh, Surat Singh, Sewa Singh, Surjit Singh, Balwinder Singh and other employees sat on dharna and observed fast today.

The Joint Action Committee warned the Punjab Government that if their genuine demands were not accepted forthwith, the ongoing strike would be intensified.

The employees and the Finance Department have been at loggerhead over the allowance issue. The Finance Department had stopped the field and project allowance of dam employees with effect from this month.

With the withdrawal of the allowance, around 10,000 employees were set to lose around Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,500 per month.


Police in dark over VIP security duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
It seems the Punjab Police does not know where its staff members are posted. The police, following a high-level meeting yesterday, decided to seek details from VIPs on how many security men were deployed with each of them.

A senior official said this had come about as details of a huge security apparatus appearing in a section of the media did not match with its records. The security wing here maintains the records of persons who are under security cover.

The top brass of the police has decided to write letters to all protected persons asking them to give information on the exact number of security personnel attached with them.

This situation has come about as certain VIPs take security personnel direct from SSP-level officials.

The SSPs have also been directed not to provide any security guard without the permission of Police Headquarters. 


Inaction by PUDA leaves residents harassed

Patiala, December 16
Frequent leakages in the main water supply pipeline and inaction by the Public Health Department of the Punjab Urban Development Authority has left the residents of Phase-II, Urban Estate, here a harassed lot. They have voiced apprehensions about possible contamination of drinking water through the ruptured supply line, while the authorities concerned have shown no hurry or inclination to rectify the problem.

The water supply line has leaked about five times in the past six months. The latest leakage occurred more than two weeks back. The residents complained verbally to the authorities. PUDA workers came on Friday and dug a pit. The residents’ hopes of quick action by the authorities were dashed as the pit was left self unattended for the past week.

The leakage in the main artery of the supply line is along the 60 feet wide road near the Sirhind road bypass. The leaking pipe is about 3 inches in diameter. The pit fills up with water when the supply is turned on in the morning. — TNS


Perneet goes for check-up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Ms Perneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, came to the PGI here today for check-up of certain skin allergy, sources said.

The sources said Ms Perneet Kaur, who is herself a Member of Parliament from Patiala, was admitted to a VIP ward at about 2 p.m.

The CM called upon her at the hospital.


Clear farmers’ dues, Johar tells DC
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
Taking serious note on the non-payment of Rs 5.86 crore dues of farmers pending with Morinda Sugar Mill, the Education Minister and Chairman of the District Grievance Committee, Mr Harnam Das Johar, today directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal, to take up the matter with the Financial Commissioner on priority.

Heading the grievance committee meeting held here, Mr Johar said it was unfortunate that the farmers did not have their dues for the year 2002-2003. “I would also take up the matter with the Financial Commissioner so that the farmers would get their dues as soon as possible,” he said.

Besides other complaints, the Anandpur Sahib, MLA, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, took up the matter of incomplete link road under the Prime Minister Sadak Yojna. The Deputy Commissioner assured that after consulting the Forest Department all link roads would be completed soon.

Out of 14 complaints, four were solved on the spot and eight were referred to the officials concerned.

Replying to water shortage in some of areas of Ropar, Municipal Council officials said Rs 6.67 crore would be spent to provide clean water.

Other officials who attended the meeting included the SSP, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, and the ADC (D), Mr Surjit Singh.


Bajwa promises better roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The Punjab Government has targeted to “improve or upgrade” major state highways in the next one year, the Minister for Public Works, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, said yesterday. He also claimed that the Congress government had done more for the road network than the previous Akali regime led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bajwa was speaking at a meet-the-Press programme at the Chandigarh Press Club here. Also, there was a major plan to decongest Ludhiana and build a six-lane bypass costing nearly Rs 1,000 crore. By next month global tenders would be invited. A Malaysian firm was coming to build a six-lane road between Chandigarh and Ludhiana. A memorandum of understanding would be signed soon. The same firm and a Dubai-based group were keen on constructing this bypass, he said.

Before announcing the plan for the upgradation of the state highways, he admitted that roads in the state were in bad shape and a hue and cry was rightly raised in the media. He announced that a total of 4,500 km of roads, which were categorised as state highways, and major district roads would be covered under this plan. Another 8,000 km of link roads in villages were to be upgraded.

To upgrade the state highways, he said the state government entered into an agreement for two major roads. These were the Balachaur-Garshankar-Hoshiarpur-Dasuya and Patiala-Samana-Patran roads, he added. Mr Bajwa said notice of award had been issued in respect of three roads. These were the Kiratpur-Anandpur Sahib-Una, Ferozepore-Fazilka and Patiala-Nabha-Malerkotla roads.

Bids were under process in the case of the Hoshiarpur-Tanda, Moga-Kot Kapura, Sirhind-Morinda-Ropar, Hoshiarpur-Phagwara, Dhaka-Raikot-Barnala, and Bhawanigarh-Nabha-Gobindgarh roads, the minister said.


Licence of nursing home cancelled
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
The Civil Surgeon, Ropar, Mr Yash Pal Singla, today cancelled the licence of a local private nursing home under the NDPT Act, prohibiting it from the use of ultrasound machine for one-and-a-half month.

The action against the nursing home was initiated following allegations that the ultrasound machine was being allegedly used by doctors for sex-determination tests.


Patwari caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 16
Kamaljit Sharma, a Patwari of the Lehal area in the city, was today caught red-handed by a team of the Vigilance Bureau while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 4,000 from Mr Ram Singh for entering his name in the revenue records in connection with the ownership of a house bought by him.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said the accused had been demanding Rs 10,000 as bribe money from Mr Ram Singh, a resident of Sapera village of this district, for transferring the ownership of the house bought by him in his name in the revenue records. However, the deal was struck at Rs 4,000.

He said Rs 4,000, which was taken as bribe by the accused from Mr Ram Singh, was recovered from the pocket of the shirt he was wearing. He said a search of the house of the accused was also carried out and the documents procured from there were being examined.

A case has been registered in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Patiala.


Man jailed under NDPS Act
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
A resident of Una, Varinder Singh, was yesterday sentenced to a three-year rigorous imprisonment and also fine of Rs 25,000 under the NDPS Act by a local court here today. He was arrested by the police near Buryal village in Kiratpur Sahib for possessing 1 kg of opium on June 12, 2003.


Dullo’s plea to striking ETT teachers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 16
Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President, PPCC, today presided over a meeting of Congress workers here. The meeting was convened by Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, and the DCC president Mr Hari Krishan, for the preparation of the Sahidi Jor Mela.

Answering queries of mediapersons, he urged the striking ETT teachers not to play in the hands of the Opposition as he had promised to them that they would be recruited. He said their demand would be accepted only after they withdraw their dharnas.

Later addressing workers, he called upon them to work unitedly. He said the political conference at Fatehgarh Sahib would be historic and the Chief Minister along with other Central leaders would address the conference.


Bank extends working hours
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 16
The Central Bank of India, Adalaton Bazar branch, has extended its working hours from 9 am to 6.30 pm.

From now, the extended working hours in the first shift will be from 9 am to 2 pm and in the second shift from 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm on all working days except Saturdays. On Saturdays, the working hours will be from 9 am to 11.30 am (first shift) and from 12 noon to 2.30 pm (second shift).

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