P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Whistleblower BSF jawan ‘narrates his woes in custody’
Ashok Sethi 
and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, December 23
Nabbed whistleblower Border Security Force jawan of 77 Battalion S.C. Gautam today smuggled out a note to his wife giving an account of his woes while in custody of the battalion.

The letter, a copy of which is with ‘The Tribune’ said that two BSF officials including Alok Shukla and S.M. Prem Pal removed his clothes, taunted and humiliated him.

Mr Gautam alleged that on the same day of his forcible ‘kidnapping’ and torture by his colleagues and officers left him totally shattered. He said, he was beaten up and his uniform was torn. Later, he recalled while he was in pain, a doctor administered an injection, which made him unconscious.

On regaining conscious, he said, he came to know that he was taken to the Commanding Officer’s office in an unconscious condition where he was punished in state of shock. He pointed out the officers were scared that if the case was highlighted and brought to the notice of the IG, the persons involved in the racket would face action. He said he was being forced to give all evidence, which he had collected about the alleged ‘corruption and serious irregularities’ including cutting of forest along the Pakistan border.

Mr Gautam was seriously beaten up after taken in custody allegedly at behest of senior officers. Though family members of Mr Gautam including his wife, Ms Renu Gautam, alleged that his husband had been ‘missing’ since December 10. The Deputy Inspector- General, Mr Anupam Kumar Sarolia had disclosed that he was awarded “punishment for creating ‘indiscipline”.

Mr Gautam had taken pictures of being cut trees, misusing of cooking gas by the force and sent the same to higher authorities. Earlier too, he was ‘beaten up’ and punished by the BSF authorities for creating ruckus. However, the DIG said that Mr Gautam was taken into custody following complaints of ‘misbehaviour’. He alleged that Mr Gautam had tried to interfere in the working of the BSF.

Earlier Mr Gautam had complained against an assistant commandant and some other authorities, allegedly for conspiring against him and punishing him without any reason.

However, Mr R. S. Dalal, IG Border Range Punjab could not be contacted for comments as he was out of station.


Dirty insulating discs may have caused power failure
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Lack of rain in the past three months and continuous foggy conditions have played a significant role in today’s major power breakdown in the entire north-western region, preliminary findings by senior power engineers have revealed.

Going by technical reasons, lack of rain can also indirectly cause harm to the power supply equipment on the power grid. The only way to avoid this harm is through proper maintenance of a piece of equipment called “insulating disc”, said a source. The maintenance was obviously not carried out.

Explaining this phenomena top-ranked sources in the power sector said one of the major causes of tripping was the “bad conduction”' of current through “insulating discs” that developed cracks in existing weather conditions.

These brown coloured discs are 4 inches to 12 inches in size and are used to join two segments of high-tension wires. These are an important part of power supply equipment.

The snag, the sources say, developed because of fog and delayed winter rain. Due to fog, the dust on the transmission lines turns into paste. This paste gets wet in fog and sunlight causes cracks on the insulating discs. The discs with cracks become a bad conductor of current thus leading to pressure of power supply on the high-tension wires and tripping, an engineer explained.

The discs, that are made of porcelain, are naturally washed.

Under normal circumstances these discs should be cleaned by the respective state electricity boards, which are partners on the Northern Power Grid. In the developed world the power companies have a system by which these discs are cleaned through machines. In India also there is system of “hotline” cleaning, but it is not followed by the respective boards.

The matter of dirty discs has been discussed at various high-level meetings of the power authorities of the region, another source added.

It may be recollected that after the grid failure in 2001, the then Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu, set up a committee to fix responsibility for the sudden failure of the Northern Grid. Mr R.N. Srivastava, the then Chairman of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), enquired into the breakdown and submitted his report. The suggestions on the insulating discs were not followed.


Tribune Impact
Probe ordered into sterilisation case
Drug addicts getting operated upon for money
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 23
The shocking case of sterilisation of an allegedly mentally-challenged youth at the behest of some friends in the Civil Hospital here could lead the police to some drug addicts who allegedly got sterilised in a desperate bid to arrange money for buying narcotics.

Even as the District Health Department launched a probe into the case following the publication of a news item in these columns today, the Jagatpuri police post has in its investigation so far found that apart from the alleged victim, one of his friends, identified as Kala, who was married and had accompanied him, had also undergone the operation to arrange money for satiating his desire for drugs.

City-II DSP Simratpal Singh Dhindsa and ASI Satwinder Singh, in charge of the Jagatpuri police post said Kala and the mentally-challenged youth were on drugs and needed money urgently.

They have, however, transferred the case to the Division No 2 police station explaining that the operation took place in the Civil Hospital which falls in the jurisdiction of that police station.

They stressed that the main action had to be taken by the Health Department and if the police found the information given by the youths as false, all of them, including the victim, could be booked for cheating.

The Civil Surgeon , Dr Rajinder Kaur, told The Tribune that Dr Manorma Awasthi, District Family Planning Officer, had started a probe on how an unmarried and allegedly mentally-challenged youth could be operated upon. She said the staff had no accurate means to find out if the person was lying or not. She said the report would be finalised in a few days and action taken accordingly.

She said it was difficult to believe that the staff could not notice that the victim was mentally challenged. She said a person had to undergo urine and blood tests before the operation and during the process one could easily make out.

Interestingly, police sources said in such a case the health staff could also make out that the subject was a drug addict and could be doing this for making money only.

Dr Rajinder Kaur said the probe would find out the truth. She agreed that sterilisation was not meant for unmarried persons.

Mr Surinder Pal, the father of the victim, maintained that his son was mentally challenged since birth. He said for the past few months, he had taken to smoking in the company of some youths.


FLASHBACK 2005: Punjab politics
Pak gurdwara factor gains significance
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
While the current year saw the rise and fall of a number of political personalities, it also witnessed several controversies involving influential politicians in Punjab.

However, among the events which stood out was the number of visits of Punjab politicians, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to Pakistan via the Wagah border. The Wagah route remained the busiest as far as the visits of political leaders and other VIPs from India to Pakistan and from that country to India were concerned.

A new Pakistan factor has entered at least in the politics of Indian Punjab which revolves around Sikh religious shrines in that country. With the active support of Delhi’s Sikh leader, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, Capt Amarinder Singh has advanced his “religious agenda” in Punjab by repeatedly visiting gurdwaras in Pakistan and by getting the proposals approved to start a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore and Amritsar and Nankana Sahib. This has been done to break the hold of the Akali leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on Sikh religious politics.

However, the mix of religion and politics is always considered a deadly potion. Obviously, religion has once again started dominating Punjab politics. Excessive dependence on such politics can lead to harmful consequences in the state.

Two controversies which drew the maximum attention of politicians and the public related to Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to the Dixie Gurdwara, a stronghold of supporters of “Khalistan” in Canada, and his hush trip to Dubai. Both controversies provided much-needed ammunition to his opponents, especially Mr Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh, to attack him. Both Akali leaders tried their best to link Capt Amarinder Singh to “Khalistanis” abroad and a hardcore section of the Sikhs in India.

A highlight of the year was a debate on terrorism in the Punjab Assembly. Though the debate failed to throw light on the real causes of terrorism, it generated a lot of political heat. As was expected, the debate ended in a blame game that has been going on between Akali and Congress leaders for decades.

What surprised all was the elevation of Mr Avtar Singh Makkar to the office of president of the SGPC. With the blessings of Mr Badal, an unknown political face outside Ludhiana, Mr Avtar Singh, now heads the most powerful religious body of the Sikhs. And the elevation of Mr Avtar Singh saw the fall of his predecessor, Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Another political change was the selection of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). He has tried to infuse new life into the party which had lost touch with people after capturing power in the state. Mr Dullo’s rise saw the political decline of his predecessor, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who has not been seen around after quitting as president.

Another change, which has remained almost unnoticed so far, was the election of Comrade Jagroop Singh as secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI in place of Dr Joginder Dayal, who had completed two terms.

The rapidly increasing control of the Shiromani Akali Dal by Mr Sukhbir Singh, son of Mr Badal, in the past months is also seen as a big development, at least in Akali circles. In fact, the powerful political bodies of the party expanded this year by Mr Badal have an impressive presence of supporters of his son. Mr Sukhbir Singh has tightened his grip on the party, of course with the tacit support of his father.

A few weeks ago,the Congress leader, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, levelled serious allegations of corruption against the Local Bodies Minster, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh. However, the issue died after a few days. The year also saw growing political cooperation between Capt Amarinder Singh and the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who were earlier pulling in different directions.


FLASHBACK 2005: Punjab Tech varsity
An unenviable year
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 23
Like previous years, year 2005 too was not auspicious for authorities of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) who remained surrounded by controversies throughout the year.

Prolonged strikes, CET mess and inability of the authorities to restart its tele-education programme for its students enrolled in the distance education programme hampered the functioning of the university.

Strike by over 200 first- year B.Tech and B.Pharmacy students, who had flunked in majority of the subjects in July examination, was probably the longest one, forcing the Punjab Technical University authorities too roll back the decision over implementation of a new examination rule on them.

Then the biggest of the controversies was CET-2005. Even as the examination passed off peacefully, sans any leakage, the PTU committed a blunder in preparing results. The PTU did not admit its blunder for three days and finally blamed it on faulty computer software.

The Dean (examinations), Mr Manohar Singh Saini, who was blamed for the mess, was shifted as Dean (planning and development) for sometime and when the controversy faded out, he was sent packing to the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, from where he had come.

If the students did not have much problem in counselling this time, college authorities faced some brunt. Hundreds of seats fell vacant in the PTU affiliated engineering, management and architecture colleges even months after counselling was over.

The much-hyped programme could not take off since August last year when the university had collaborated with Mindlogicx, a private company. The tie-up soon had to be snapped. The university got its new satellite, retained equipment but could not get going.

The university prepared itself for yet another tie-up recently which has not been materialised till date. In association with the Department of Technical Education, Punjab, a tie up was to be entered with the New South Wales State Government Department of Education and Training, Australia, for starting a B.Tech course that got shelved temporarily as approval from the Union Government was delayed.

The luckiest time for the university perhaps was when Lord Swaraj Paul signed a Rs 6 crore project for setting up a “PTU-Swaraj Paul School of Excellence in Manufacturing and Material Sciences” at the site of the Punjab Technical University near Wadala Kalan.

Lord Paul offered to bring in top-notch faculty from the UK for setting up the required infrastructure for introducing latest courses in techniques, including laser construction, plasma building and inert gas welding to university students.


Councillor’s showrooms spared in demolition drive
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, December 23
Party loyalties allegedly surfaced in the demolition drive launched by the local Municipal Corporation authorities on the Rajpura road here today.

The MC authorities had issued written instructions to demolish four showrooms considered to be illegal structures near the Urban Estate on the Rajpura road. However, the JCB machine deployed for this purpose by the Municipal Corporation razed two structures but spared two other showrooms today. Interestingly, the showrooms, which were spared from the demolition drive, are allegedly owned by a Congress-backed Municipal councillor.

Sources revealed that in an attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the city residents, the MC authorities had extracted a written assurance from the councillor concerned that he would demolish the structures within two days. The Commissioner of the MC, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, said that the councillor’s showroom had not been spared and had been partially, demolished.

He added that since it was a three-storeyed structure, the MC’s JCB machine could not fully demolish the entire structure. Mr Ahluwalia added that there was no party politics at play and moreover the councillor concerned had assured the corporation in writing that he would himself demolish the structure within two days.

However, this logic of Mr Ahluwalia is countered by the fact that the proprietors of the demolished showrooms were also ready to give a written assurance to the MC to raze their structures within two days, then why did the MC not listen to them and why did it only pay heed to the councillor’s assurance?

Sources revealed that the MC had given enough time to the councillor to move the court and obtain stay orders against the proposed demolition. However, when questioned, Mr Ahluwalia said that the MC had already filed caveat in the court and the councillor could not obtain stay orders.

It is pertinent to mention here that earlier too a Congress councillor had illegally constructed a shop near the Thikriwala chowk, adjacent to the Government Rajindera Hospital. However, the `deliberate’ dithering on the part of the MC authorities enabled the councillor to get a stay order in his favour from a local court in the process pre-empting the MC from demolishing the shop.


MC gives octroi collection on contract
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 23
Despite opposition by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Municipal Councillors, the Municipal Council (MC) at a meeting here under the presidentship of Mr Parvinder Bajaj, acting president today decided to give octroi collection on contract for one more year from February 24, 2006.

Mr Jatinder Kalra, a BJP municipal councillor, said he had got his note of dissent recorded in proceedings against the decision of the MC on octroi collection on three counts namely statements by the Punjab Chief Minister and Local Government Minister regarding the abolition of octroi by March-end in the state, no provision of local tax in the VAT regime, and harassment to people by octroi contractors.

Mr Parvinder Bajaj, admitted that five members belonging to the BJP and the SAD — namely Mr Jatinder Kalra, Mr Surinder Singh Pappu, Ms Bhagwanti Devi, Mr Amarjit Singh Titu and Mr Sajjan Ram, had opposed the MC decision on octroi collection.

The MC also decided to stop one annual increment each of a junior assistant and a peon in connection with the embezzlement these employees of municipal funds, the MC decided to write about a cashier, posted in the local MC some years ago (now an accountant in Moonak Nagar Panchayat), to the Director, Local Government, Punjab, for action against him for embezzlement of municipal funds.

A municipal councillor said these employees had already deposited the “embezzled” amount with the MC, despite this the Director, Local Government, Punjab, had written to the MC to get the FIRs registered against these three employees. However, the MC today took a lenient view and decided not to get the FIRs registered against these employees.

Mr Bajaj said the MC today also constituted a three-member committee, comprising Mr Jatinder Kalra, Mr Jaswinder Singh Prince and Mr Krishan Kumar to ascertain who was responsible for not making payment to the firm, from whom the MC had purchased a submersible pump some years ago as a local court recently ordered the MC to make payment to the firm with interest of Rs 50,000.

Mr Kalra said the submersible pump had been purchased from a Bhawanigarh firm four years ago. After that a dispute over the payment started between the MC and the firm, due to which the firm moved to a court to get payment of Rs 1.42 lakh.


Cancer-hit villages to get potable water
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
The dawn of New Year will bring in hope of better health care and life for the future generations of Jajjal, Gayana and Malkana villages, which were in the limelight for high incidence of cancer and other ailments, thanks to a newly raised modern water supply project that will facilitate pure drinking water sans heavy metals and other impurities.

The trial run of the Rs 40-lakh project is already on and will continue till its formal inauguration in the coming days. Concerned over reports of cancer from these villages, the Talwandi Sabo MLA, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, took the initiative for providing potable water to the residents.

Talking to The Tribune, he said people were suffering due to contaminated water, a fact highlighted in a joint study of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the PGI, Chandigarh.

The study pointed towards presence of heavy metals and toxins in groundwater, which people consumed for years, he added. Comprehending enormity of the problem, he proposed a water supply scheme fetching water from any nearby canal to the government.

“The project has been completed last week and we are drawing water from Talwandi Minor branch,” he said.

Sources said potable water could now be provided to each individual seeking the amenity. Some common water outlets would also be set up for community purposes. With the opening of the project, people would also get rid of many other water-borne diseases.

Earlier, various experts, including Dr Ashutosh Halder from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had recommended that villagers should rely on quality water. He had carried out a survey that revealed pre-mature aging of the people in the area. A team led by Dr N.K. Kochhar of the Department of Geology had said groundwater could be a reason behind the high incidence of cancer, premature aging and other diseases reported in these villages.


Delay in passports due to notebook shortage
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 23
Navjot Kaur, a resident of Gurdaspur, is migrating to Australia. But she would be forced to leave here minor children behind. The reason being the regional passport office at Jalandhar has not been able to renew passports of her minor children.

While talking to The Tribune Ms Navjot Kaur said that she had approached the regional passport office authorities to renew passports of her minor children under Tatkal or any other scheme. However, despite instructions that passports of minor children should be issued within fifteen days, the officials have declined the possibility of passports to children being issued in near future. Even if the passport office issues passports in January one academic year of her children would be wasted. The academic year in Australia starts from February and the family would have to move to country in the first week of January to settle their children there, she said.

Kanwarpal Singh is also migrating to Canada. He had applied for passports of his whole family on September 12. However, even after about three months the passports have not been issued to him and his family. He said all his efforts to get immigration to Canada might fail due to failure of authorities to issue him passports. Canada was changing its immigration rules from January 1,2006 and he might said face problem in case he did not get passports before that.

Officials at the passport office said that they had not receiving passport notebooks from their office concerned which had created a backlog. They were receiving just 2,000 passport copies per fortnight whereas about 1,000 applications were being received by the Jalandhar office from the area falling under its jurisdiction. The Jalandhar-based regional passport office caters to Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts.

This problem was being faced by applicants since the last two months. The passport notebooks are received by the regional passport office from Nasik- based printing press. Despite repeated reminders the press at Nasik has not been able to supply them with adequate number of passport notebooks. Though all formalities for issuing passports have been completed the applicants cannot be issued the same due to shortage of passport notebooks.

Some of the officials alleged that they had been facing problems since the former External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh got embroiled in oil for food scam. The work of the ministry had been hit as the minister concerned was not available. Even now the portfolio for External Affairs was with the Prime Minister. Due to absence of someone who could pay full attention to the ministry the work was suffering.

The Regional Passport Officer was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him.


Stage set for Saheedi Jor Mela
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a press conference here today, said that all the arrangements have been completed for the smooth conduct of annual Shaheedi Jor Mela starting from December 24 to December 27 here. The mela is held to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of younger Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked alive here.

Though all the administrative and other arrangements have been completed by the administration, co-operation of “sangat”, religious and political leaders is most important. She said that special parking sites have been earmarked for the devotees on all the entry point of the mela. She urged devotees to park their vehicles only at the parking sites, otherwise it would cause a great inconvenience to the public. She urged the social and religious organisations to enter their vehicles in Mela territory carrying Langer goods between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. only, so that traffic may not create inconvenience to devotees.

She said that instead of light and sound program, a new programme “Sirhind di Diwar”, a play of Harpal Tiwana Foundation, would be staged at Aam Khas Bagh. There would be no swings, circus, skill games, amusement games, gambling stalls and sale of intoxicants.

In and around 3 km territory of Gurudwara Sahib, there would be no sale of liquor. Wine shops would remain close during the event. No shops, stalls, conference or community kitchens would be allowed on both sides of the roads from Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Gurudwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib and towards Roza Shariff. Five enquiry centres and dispensaries would work round the clock. She said that the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, would lay the foundation stone of a super-speciality hospital for children at Peer Jain on Dec. 25th. He would also inaugurate an exhibition depicting various achievements of the government and would address a political conference.

She told that five information centres would be set up in the mela jointly by the district police, Electricity Department, public relation department and Duty Magistrate for the convenience of the devotees. 


AMIE engineers flay demand for reversion
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur December 23
The AMIE (I) Engineers Association of Punjab has condemned the demand made by the Diploma Engineers Association for their reversion.

In a press release issued here yesterday, Mr S.N. Bansal and Mr Surinder Singh Kler said that promotions to the AMIE junior engineers were made as per the Punjab Civil Services (Class-II) Rules of 1941.

The promotions to the AMIE holders were given after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed instructions prescribing 31 per cent promotion quota for ineligible persons. The Supreme Court also upheld the decision. The High Court had directed that 45 per cent promotion quota should be distributed among categories eligible for promotion.

As per the rules prevailing at that time only the AMIE qualified or degree-holder junior engineers and draftsmen were eligible for promotion against the 45 per cent promotion quota. The association demanded that the posts that fell vacant prior to amendment to the Civil Services Rules should be filled by making promotion of left-out AMIE/BE junior engineers as per old rules.


Driving by underaged: parents to face music
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Parents could be penalised if underaged children were found to be driving vehicles on forged documents. This was stated here yesterday by Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Traffic).

Speaking on the traffic awareness and enforcement week conference, he said decisions had to be taken in the interest of the public. Principals of schools should ensure that students refrained from coming to school on two-wheelers.

The IG said a traffic helpline by Airtel would be introduced shortly so that people in need could contact the police on highways by dialling 1100. Other cellular operators were also going to introduce the scheme but the numbers would be different. He said they had asked the Health Department to provide paramedical staff on highway patrol vans.


Cremation of Kanshi’s mother today

Ropar, December 23
The kin of Kanshi Ram decided to cremate his mother Bihan Kaur tomorrow. The family members of Kanshi Ram took the decision when they came to know that the hearing on the application moved by them to bring Kanshi Ram here was adjourned by the apex court till January 2.

Mr Dalwara Singh, brother of Kanshi Ram, said that they had moved the application in the Supreme Court but the hearing on the case was adjourned, till January 2 therefore they decided to perform the cremation tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Earlier the Sports Minister in the Mulayam Singh government, Mr R.K Chowdhary, met the family members of Kanshi Ram in Bunga Sahib.


Book released

Patiala, December 23
Former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, released a book by Dr Kuldip Singh Kahlon titled ‘Eductional Implications of Guru Nanak Dev’s Concept of Man’ at a seminar held at the academy of Sikh religion and culture, under the aegis of Global Friendship Forum Patiala, yesterday.

While congratulating the author, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the book was a result of inspiring and soul-searching study. Dr H.S. Deol, former Commissioner, Linguistic Minorities Commission, and Dr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, Additional Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, praised the efforts put in by Dr Kahlon. Dr S.S. Nanda, a known authority on Political Science, was also honoured. Earlier, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, president, said the forum had been established for social and educational activities. — TNS


Birla Plus apologises to SGPC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
Birla Plus Cement Industries apologised to the SGPC for publishing its advertisement on the front and last pages of Gutkhas of Japuji Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib. The company assured that it had ordered to withdraw the Gutkhas.

An SGPC press release issued here today said the company apologised by writing a letter to it.


high court
Contempt plea admitted
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has admitted for further hearing a contempt petition filed by the estranged daughter-in-law of Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Vir Singh Lopoke against him and six other members of his family.

In her petition, Ms Navjot Kaur of Amritsar has prayed for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Mr Lopoke, his son and some other members of his family for having deliberately interfered in the administration of justice.

In May-end 2003, Mr Lopoke and others had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for grant of blanket bail. However, the High Court turned down their plea.

Two days later, when the court was closed for summer vacations, the MLA and his kin again filed a petition, this time before a Vacation Bench, for grant of bail.

In this fresh plea, they did not disclose the fact that their similar plea had been turned down just two days ago. Instead, in their affidavit, they claimed that no such plea had earlier been filed by them. They also suppressed the fact that the plea had been turned down by the court.

The Vacation Bench adjourned the matter for sometime, after which they were granted blanket bail.

In her petition for initiation of contempt proceedings against the MLA and his relatives, Mr Navjot Kaur has stated that the respondents polluted the stream of justice by knowingly misleading the court.

After hearing her counsel, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Viney Mittal admitted the matter and ordered that it be listed for hearing in March next year.

Notice issued

A Division Bench of the High Court on Friday issued notice of motion for January 12 next year on a petition filed by a retired lecturer.

In his petition, Mr Sohan Lal Dhand, who retired as lecturer from Sardar Dara Singh Memorial Government Senior Secondary School, Salana, Fatehgarh Sahib, has challenged the order dated October 27, 2005, of the government to bring down his pay with effect from August 30, 1978. He was also asked to return the excess salary paid to him.

The Bench also stayed the recovery of the salary dues from him.


Cotton prices fail to maintain a high
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
After remaining at a high of about Rs 2,200 per quintal for 10-15 days, cotton prices failed to sustain their swift and sharp rise. They are now hovering between Rs 1,900 and Rs 2,100.

Experts attributed the decline to immature price rise, withdrawal of local millers after piling up huge stocks, and sharing of demand with other states. The prices of raw cotton had come down by Rs 150-200 a few days back, while lint cotton went down by Rs 125-150. Raw cotton prices in various markets today stood at over Rs 2,000.

Sources said local buyers got panicky as they neither had any export enquiry nor demand from other states. On the other hand, cotton growers were in a hurry to cash in on the upward trend of the market. They said cotton prices in north India went up due to its availability and quality, but now with cotton arrivals picking up in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh demand of cotton had dipped in the region. 


26 kg heroin seized

Chandigarh, December 23
The Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) seized 26 kg of good quality heroin from the Indo-Pak border area in Ferozepore district today.

Giving details, sources in the NCB, Chandigarh zonal unit, said acting on specific information the NCB sleuths in a joint operation with the Punjab police arrested two persons with contraband from the Indo-Pak border area.

The search led to recovery of 26 kg of heroin and a China-made revolver. The accused were identified as Avtar Singh, alias Tari, and Jassa Singh, alias Jassa, both of Muthiyan village in Ferozepore district. A case has been registered under the provisions of the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985, in this regard. The NCB officials claimed that this was the biggest seizure on the Indo-Pak border. — OC


Governor clears Lovely University Bill
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
The decks have been cleared for the setting up of the first university in the private sector in Punjab, as the Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today gave his assent to the Lovely University Bill, which was passed by the state Assembly in October.

Sources said the Governor signed the Bill following an assurance from the government that it would address the concerns expressed by him with regard to the legislation.

The sources said that after the Governor’s assent, the Bill, which had now become an Act, was sent to the government this evening by the Governor’s office. After the issuance of a notification by the government, the Act would come into operation.

The Bill, which was attacked in the Assembly by the Congress MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, because of certain “shortcomings” in it, had been awaiting the assent of the Governor for the past two months. Mr Bir Devinder Singh had raised questions in the Assembly regarding the qualifications for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, the Controller of Examinations and other functionaries.

The sources said that while putting his signature on the Bill this afternoon, the Governor had also written a detailed note asking the state government to ensure that the interests of students, who would join various courses in Lovely University, should not suffer at any stage because of the lack of safeguards in the rules and regulations governing the functioning of the institution. The authorities had been advised to put a system in place to protect interests of the students. Earlier, the Governor had sought a number of clarifications from the government regarding the Bill which were provided to him.

For the past few weeks, the university had ceased to exist as the Governor had not given his approval to the Bill.

Lovely University, which runs a number of educational institutions in the Doaba region, will be the first private university having almost “unlimited” powers as far as the opening of institutions and running of various professional courses are concerned.


Corporal punishment: revised education code soon
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
With the human rights commission taking a serious notice of rising instances of corporal punishment in schools, the state government will soon come out with a revised education code.

Sources said the Education Department had already taken up the matter with the state government, which could soon issue a notification to bring the revised code into effect. The sources said as per the current education code, a school principal could cane each student 10 times to enforce discipline in his institution. As per norms, the punishment given to a student has to be conveyed to his parents. The sources said the Education Department also felt to do away with corporal punishment with changing times. DPI (Secondary) Sadhu Singh Randhawa said the revision work of education code was in final stage and soon a notification would be issued. The sources said on the one hand revision of education code would come as a major relief for students, on the other it would restrain teachers from handing corporal punishment to the former.

The sources said the Punjab State Human Rights Commission took a strong notice of corporal punishment to school students. The sources said after one such incident at Panjoli village of Patiala, a department official talked about making changes in the education code before the rights commission. Subsequently, the department swung into action on this front. The sources said a teacher had thrashed 17 school students at a school in Panjoli, following which the rights commission had asked the authorities concerned to pay a compensation of Rs 5,000 each to the students. The Malwa region too had witnessed such incidents in Faridkot, Goniana Mandi, Lehra Mohabbat and Chak Ruldu Singhwala.


Students awarded at annual function
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 22
Divine Light International School, Sirhind, organised its annual prize distribution function today. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary presided over the function and distributed prizes.

Dr Harbans Lal stressed the need for inculcating work culture among the students, who have to steer the destiny of the nation in future. He congratulated all those students, who won prizes in sports, academic and cultural activities.

He urged them to keep up their good work to win laurels for their school and parents. He lauded the efforts of the school in ensuring allround and harmonious development of the personality of the tiny tots. He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the school.

Earlier, Prof Ashok Sood, Director of the school, highlighted the achievements of the school in various spheres. Mrs Gurpreet Kaur, Principal of the school, read out the annual report.

The students of the school presented an impressive cultural programme. The parents of the students and dignitaries of the area in large number attended the function.


Christmas celebrated in schools

Patiala, December 23
Students of Sri Guru Harkishan Public School celebrated Christmas here today with fun and frolic. School director Dardi, Principal Kanwaljit Kaur, chief guest Naresh Mittal and Father Stephen gave warm wishes to the students.

The students in festive mood made the occasion a success. Various competitions were held, including best Santa Claus and best crown. Students of Bhupendra International Public School also celebrated Christmas with great enthusiasm. Festivities commenced with hymns, followed by Ganesh vandana. Santa Claus distributed sweets among the students as the function concluded with a speech by the Principal, Ms Indu Sharma. — TNS

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