P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Nine courier employees found in illegal custody
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, December 28
Even as no one came forward to lodge a formal complaint with the police into the “snatching” of drafts worth several crores four days ago, nine staff members of a courier service were allegedly made the scapegoat and tortured in illegal confinement by the police.

The police had rounded up the nine suspects, all of them employees of Deepak Courier Service, including the owner. But they were found in illegal custody by the warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court last night.

They were produced in the local court and remanded in one-day remand today.

The staff of the courier service claimed that some motor cycle-borne persons armed with “kirpans” had intercepted their rickshaw and snatched the bag containing the packets.

They added that they had reported the matter to the nearby Durgiana police chowki.

However, the next day they were taken into illegal custody and sent to the CIA office (reportedly under pressure from the business community whose drafts had gone missing).

Promilla Dhawan, wife of the courier service company owner Vipin Dhawan, alleged that they were not informed about the whereabouts of the staff members.

The family members of the employees then approached the High Court, which appointed the warrant officer to locate the nine and get them released.

According to the counsel for the victims, the High Court has now summoned the SSP, SHO of the D-Division police station and in charge of Durgiana temple police chowki on January 6.

Ms Dhawan alleged that the staff members were tortured and given electric shocks. She added that the police, in its bid to save its skin, implicated her husband and other staff members in a false case of snatching of Rs 10,000 registered in Kotwali police station earlier this year.

Meanwhile, SHO D-Division police station Rajinder Singh said no formal complaint regarding the snatching of the drafts had been received so far.


Panchayats to observe black day on Jan 1
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 28
Accusing the state government of "discriminating" with panchayat members, the Panchayat Union today announced its decision to observe New Year as "Black Day" on January 1.

In a statement issued here, the union alleged that the government was under pressure of "corrupt bureaucracy" of the state, due to which such laws were being framed, which were compelling panchayat members to become "brokers" of the police, revenue and panchayat officials.

Producing figures, the union alleged that public representatives in urban areas were treated much better as compared to panchayat members. The union members claimed that municipal council chiefs receive a payment of Rs 5,000 per month and councillors get Rs 2,000 per month, while the public representatives from rural areas don't get even a single penny as allowance.

Giving Kerala's instance, they said a sarpanch in Kerala received Rs 3,500 per month, while panches got Rs 1,250 per month, besides Rs 90 as allowance per meeting. They said every village panchayat should be given Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore per annum for development works.

Talking about the 73rd amendment, they said instead of handing over the charge of 29 departments, including financial resources, it had given the right of withdrawing money to BDPOs.

They alleged that in the name of more powers the government had assigned them jobs like disbursing pensions, collecting water bills and catching stray cattle.


Akalis protest against security cut
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 28
In a development that can snowball into a political controversy, the recent guidelines of the Punjab Police on reducing the security cover have not gone down well with the Akalis. The police had cut the security cover of several political leaders and this has led to protests from them. A few of them have also approached the DGP with requests to restore their security.

The Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has already telephoned the DGP and other senior officers to protest against the cut in the security cover for his party men. Later this evening Mr Badal alleged: “The security cover is being withdrawn on a systematic pattern by the ruling party to create fear in the minds of Opposition leaders.” In some cases the security cut has been imposed even on persons who faced attacks during the days of terrorism, Mr Badal alleged, adding that he had told the senior officers about this.

A minister in the previous Badal government approached the DGP today. He was here to express “fears” about his security and how he was feeling “exposed” with a year to go before the Assembly poll. Sources said at least six Akali leaders had already met senior officials, seeking the restoration of their security cover.

In a separate development, the Punjab Police yesterday issued fresh norms for providing security cover, cars and Gypsies for escort parties accompanying protected officers. The norms also cover retired officers.

The orders issued by the Additional DGP, Administration, Mr Mohd Izhar Alam, on behalf of the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, say that all vehicles provided by the Intelligence wing should be withdrawn immediately. Also, the Provisioning wing has been told that all vehicles that are in excess of the new norms should be withdrawn immediately. The orders say that all cars in the future will be provided through the Provisioning wing while all escort vehicles will be provided through the Security wing.

The ADGP, Punjab Armed Police, and the heads of the India Reserve Battalion and the Commando units have been asked to withdraw all security and vehicles which they have provided on their own to any officer.

The Punjab Police has also made two categories of protected officers. A committee consisting of the IG Intelligence, the IG, Headquarters, and the SP, Security, will decide where to place the protected officers on the security list. The number of Gypsies carrying security personnel accompanying the senior officials has also been spelt out in the new orders. The guard at the residence of most officers has been maintained. Excepting the DGP, Mr Virk, all other officers will have only one escort vehicle.

This will also apply to all Range IGs , DIGs and SSPs. The police has, however, allowed a guard at the residence of the wives of these field officers. However, the wife should not be posted in the same city as her husband to be eligible for this guard.


Conference of Ahmadiyyas ends
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Qadian (Gurdaspur), December 28
The 114th annual international conference of Ahmadiyya’s concluded here today. In the three-day session, religious head of the community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, stressed giving rights to women in the Islamic society. Yesterday, he gave away medals to 19 Ahmadiyya girls who had topped in their respective universities.

He said the countries that had not given social, economic, political and religious rights to women could not progress. Islam had sanctioned right to women to inherit ancestral property 1,400 years ago. Islam was the only religion that not only recognises the socio-economic rights of the women but also vests them with the power to choose her life partner and the right to divorce. However, certain fanatics were misguiding the society over the rights of the women in Islam.

The concluding session of the conference was attended among others by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, and Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), and MLA from Qadian. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was scheduled to attend the concluding session but he failed to turn up.

The concluding address was delivered by spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

The Ahmadiyya movement has progressed since it was launched by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1889 with just 40 members at Qadian. Today, the community is established in 178 countries constituting of more than 150 million followers. The community has the privilege of running its own TV channel, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya.

According to historians, the Ahmadiyya movement arose amidst the turmoil of the downfall of the old Islamic and the infiltration of the new culture in India. It primarily rose as a protest against the success of Christian proselytisation and the Sir Sayyid Ahmad’s rationalisation and westernisation.

The founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was initially proclaimed as great reformer among the Muslim community. However, the differences arose between Muslims and Ahmadiyya’s in 1889 when Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced that he had received a revelation authorising him to receive men’s allegiance as the promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. However, the Muslims took this announcement as blasphemy.

The result of the conflict was that today the Ahmadiyya’s have been declared as non-Muslims in Pakistan. They are not being allowed to perform the Haj pilgrim.

The movement also split with the passage of time. One section sets its headquarters at Lahore under a lawyer Muhammad Ali while the other section has its base at Qadian.

The Ahmadiyya’s differ from Muslims is that the former being a small community are closely knit. The movements urges for helping its fellow members materially and by providing employment to the unemployed of the community. It imposes taxes on its members that are used for schools and even courts to settle the disputes among the members. The movement also claims 100 per cent male and 75 per cent female literacy.


Give due status to women, says Ahmadiyya head
Tribune News Service

Qadian, December 28
On the second day of the annual international conference of Ahmadiyya’s yesterday, religious head of the community Hadhart Mirza Marror Ahmad urged his followers to give due status to women. During the first session of the conference he distributed 19 gold, silver and bronze medals among the girls of the community who topped in the examinations of their respective universities.

The preaching of the Hadhrat Mirza Marror Ahmad was in direct contrast to the recent “fatwas” issued against women by mullahs. The fatwas issued by some clerics against Indian tennis star Sania Mirza had come in for wide criticism from various sections of society.

The women in Ahmadiyya’s enjoy more freedom vis-a-vis other Muslim women because of the progressive thought of the community.

Hadhrat Mirza Marror Ahmad warned his followers against falling in the trap of fake godmen and godwomen. The Muslims should be progressive in their thought and give modern education to their children, he said.

The second day of the annual convention saw religious discourses by various leaders of the community. The organisers of the conference claimed that 60,000 delegates from around 100 countries were participating in it. They included around 20,000 women.


15 complaints in 2 months under Information Act
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 28
Within two months of the Right to Information Act (RTI) coming into force, the Punjab State Information Commission has received 15 complaints pertaining to denial of information to the public.

Most of the cases were disposed off as the officials accused of denying information agreed to provide the same, said Mr Rajan Kashyap, State Chief Information Commissioner. He was here today to check arrangements in connection with the implementation of the Act.

“India is the 55th country to have adopted such a law and there are several countries that did not have any provision for penalty. But in our case, denial of information will lead to penalty. Every Public Information Officer can be penalised Rs 250 per day up to a maximum of Rs 25,000 for not accepting application or delaying information without reasonable cause,” he maintained.

“The information officer has to provide information within 30 days after getting an application from any citizen. In a novel approach, the time limit is reduced to 48 hours where the information sought concerns the life and liberty of a person,” he added.

“There is lack of awareness among the public about the Act. The process of creating awareness would take some time to complete. The implementation of the Act has simplified the things for the people. The information that they could not obtained easily earlier, would now be available in one month only under the Freedom of Information Act, 2002. Besides, we are taking measures like providing training to government officials pertaining to the same,” he added.

He said the state government would organise training programmes for all Information Officer in the state in February next year.

He said in order to ensure proper implementation of the Act, he had been visiting districts across the state to check the arrangements.

Asserting that increased awareness would improve things, he said the commission had received complaints where the complainants had not submitted the minimal fee required to be paid while seeking information.

“Such cases highlight the need for generating awareness about the Act at all levels,” he added.

The Act allowed the public and the media to have access to every information related to government functioning, except the information under the Official Secrets Act, he said.


Health cover scheme for rural coop members
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 28
Aiming to provide cost-effective quality healthcare to its farming community, the state government has come up with Sanjivni Health Care Scheme, which aims at providing health insurance of Rs 2 lakh per annum per beneficiary/family to members of rural cooperative societies.

Expected to go a long way in helping debt-ridden farmers avail themselves of better health services, the scheme has MedSave Health Care Ltd as third party administrator (TPA) that will ensure “cash-free hospitalisation” of the beneficiaries for various ailments at well-equipped private hospitals, which are part of its network.

The beneficiaries can also avail themselves of treatment at specified government hospitals under the scheme.

Interested cooperative society members need to pay Rs 300 as annual premium and 10 per cent of it for each of their dependents. But, for dependents over 60 years old, 15 per cent of annual premium will be charged.

Also, on his total annual premium, he will have to pay 10.2 per cent as service tax and Rs 10 as society charge.

The scheme will not apply to OPD treatment and hospitalisation under 24 hours.

But, it will facilitate treatment of diseases like dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, eye surgery and coronary angiography, which require under 24 hours of hospitalisation.

The policy shall cover all medical/surgical diseases costing up to Rs 2 lakh annually per beneficiary/family.

The policyholders will be issued ID cards and they will have to get pre-authorisation form signed from the authority concerned before getting admitted to any of the network hospitals of MedSave.

In case of government hospitals, they can get their medical bills reimbursed on producing required documents.

Ailments prior to subscribing to the scheme will also be covered. Maternity will be covered up to the maximum limit of Rs 10,000 per pregnancy and not exceeding Rs 25,000 annually per beneficiary.

The child will also be covered under the scheme right from the time of his/her birth.

Meanwhile, sources said the scheme had received a lukewarm response from local farmers and they attributed it to lack of proper training of the department staff, who appeared ill-equipped to sensitise them on benefits of the scheme.

The scheme has already suffered a jolt with reports in a section of media that farmers are being forced to enroll in the scheme.

While Deputy Registrar Harmail Singh could not be contacted for comments, Assistant Registrar Gurjant Singh Sidhu denied that anybody was being compelled to enroll in the scheme.

He said they had received around 4,000 enrollment forms from 158 cooperative societies of the district since November 17.


Survey: Badal’s reaction shows ‘frustration’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 28
A group of Punjab Ministers today dubbed Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s criticism of the ORG-MARG survey that gives the Congress a lead in the state, as “an outburst of his frustrated mind”.

The Ministers, Mr Lal Singh, Irrigation and Power, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Public Works (B&R), Mr Avtar Henry, Food and Supplies, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa Cooperation, and Mr Surinder Singla, Finance, said ORG-MARG had conducted the survey on a scientific basis.

The Ministers also ridiculed Mr Badal’s idea of writing to the Election Commission for seeking action against ORG-Marg and reminded him that the state was not subject to any code of conduct.

They further alleged that Mr Badal’s, unnecessary criticism of the survey and his outcry on the issue was sheer desperation on the part of the Akali leadership.


Moti Ram Mehra’s sacrifice recalled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib,  December 28
After the Shaheedi Jor Mela held in the memory of younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, the martyrdom of Baba Moti Ram Mehra also important. Lakhs of devotees belonging to the Mehra community thronged Gurdwara Moti Ram Mehra here to pay obeisance to the great martyr. Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a servant in the kitchen of the Nawab of Sirhind. He used to serve food to Hindu prisoners. Mata Gujjar Kaur, along with her two grand children, who were in the custody of Nawab of Sirhind, refused to accept the food of the Nawab’s kitchen. Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a great follower of the Sikh Gurus. He used to serve Sikhs on their way to Anandpur Sahib and back to their homes. The Sikhs used to rest at his mud house where the mother of Baba Moti Ram Mehra and his wife used to prepare food for these pilgrims.

When Mata Gujjar Kaur refused to accept the food, Baba Moti Ram Mehra could not tolerate the Sahibzadas going without food. He came home and told his family members that he would serve milk and fresh water to the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri. His mother and wife persuaded him not to take such a step. They told him that the Nawab had made an announcement in the town that anyone who tried to serve food to the sons of the Tenth Guru, he along with his family would be put to death in a kohlu (oil squeezer). This information could not change the mind of Baba Mehra.

As he was determined to his mission, his wife gave him her silver jewellery and some coins and urged him to “bribe the gatemen of the burj to keep the act secret.” The Baba praised his wife for participation in the great cause. Baba Moti Ram served milk and water to the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujjar Kaur for three nights.

On December 27, the Sahibzadas were martyred and Mata Gujjar Kaur also breathed her last. He also arranged sandal wood for their cremation. Someone told the Nawab that his servant had served those prisoners with milk and water. The Nawab ordered the arrest of Baba Moti Ram Mehra and his mother, wife and a little son. He did not conceal his act and boldly told the Nawab that it was his pious duty to serve the imprisoned children and their grandmother. Hence Baba Moti Ram Mehra, along with his family, was sentenced to death. His followers deserve his martyrdom every year at the memorial at the end of December.


Protest against book on Bhagat Singh
Tribune News Service

Khatkal Kalan, December 28
Residents of Khatkal Kalan village in Nawanshar district today protested against the publication of a new book “Some Hidden Facts: Martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh” and burnt effigies of the co-authors of the book.

Kharkal Kalan is the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The residents of the village expressed resentment against the publication of the book that had distorted the facts about the death of Bhagat Singh.

The protesters raised slogan, “Bhagat Singh Amar Rahe”, and demanded a ban on the book and a criminal case to be registered against Mr Kulwant Singh Kooner and Dr G.S. Sindha, co authors of the book. They also demanded that the sale of the book should be banned all over the world and the government should take action against the duo, who had been misleading the country for their vested interest.

The irate villagers complained that the co-authors wanted to make money by selling the book. The villagers had also demanded an inquiry to find out the reality.

Kewal Singh, sarpanch of the village, said the co-authors of the book had started raising a controversy about the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. This is the first time after 1931 when someone had raised doubts that Bhagat Singh was not hanged but shot. Ms Amar Kaur, a sister of Bhagat Singh, was the witness who had receive the ashes of the martyr, claimed Mr Kashmir Singh, a former sarpanch.

The residents have also expressed resentment with the state government for terminating a holiday on March 23, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. 


Body not cremated under protest
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 28
Surjit Kaur, wife of Mr Paramjit Singh of Langeri village, whose body was found floating in a well yesterday, was not cremated and was kept in the mortuary of Bharta village today under protest by her family members for not registering a case of her murder.

It may be recalled that her body was found floating in an abandoned well of Bharta village yesterday. She had gone to the fields on December 22 and had not come back home. Since then she had been missing.

After getting a post-mortem examination in the local Civil Hospital, the police handed over the body to the family. But Mr Paramjit Singh, husband of deceased, and Mr Manjit Singh, Sarpanch of the village, were stressing on registration of a case of murder of Surjit Kaur. They alleged that she was murdered by Roshan Lal of their village and Nirmal Kumar of Kala Bahain (Jalandhar).


Valtoha to sue two SGPC members
Our Correspondent

Amritsar December 28
Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, Akali leader and former member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, today lashed out at the SGPC members, Mr Jagjit Singh Bhuller and Master Shinghara Singh, terming their allegations as ‘false’ and mischievous.

He stated that he would file a defamation case against the two for alleging that he had used gurdwara funds for the “bhog” ceremony of his mother. He further said that he would file a petition before Akal Takht and get them summoned to clarify their allegations.

In another statement released by the SGPC, Mr Dilmegh Singh said that no SGPC employee was “on duty” on the occasion of “bhog” ceremony. He also stated that no “langar” was organised by the SGPC for the occasion. He, however, said that it was possible that some SGPC employees might have participated on a personal level.


Hopes for a take-off in New Year
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 28
Even as the Punjab Government is upbeat on the future of investment in infrastructure, there are crucial projects which have been pending for a long time or have got delayed. This year things were a bit different. Work on some of these projects got off to a start, but it will take some more time before things are on the right track. Some of the projects are still at the planning stage.

Notable among others is the Bathinda oil refinery project. An agreement was signed between the Punjab Government and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). The project had been held up for more than a decade. BPCL has even signed a contract with a foreign collaborator. Work is expected to start on the ground in the coming months.

Another long-pending project is the Shahpur Kandi dam on the Ravi. The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), in its latest report, has pegged the cost of constructing the dam at Rs 2,600 crore. The NHPC submitted the design project report to dam officials a few weeks ago. It will be a while before work starts on the dam. The NHPC’s projection has been contested by employees’ unions, which claim that the cost is “too high”.

The fate of the defence academy is not known. A former Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, had promised to set up the academy at Anandpur Sahib in 1999. This was to be an academy to train junior commissioned officers. This never got through, however, in its new shape as it was suggested that the academy should be opened at Sainik School, Kapurthala. Now the state government has suggested that a defence university should be set up in Patiala.

Another project relating to the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa was the Khalsa Heritage Complex. Funds for it were released by the Central Government after a long delay. The first phase may be ready by Baisakhi next year and the section will be opened to the public.

A similar thing has happened with the demand for an international airport. Punjab has been pressing the Central Government for setting up such an airport in a central part of the state. An area near Ladowal, about 10 km from Ludhiana, was suggested. Then Punjab was also keen on having a cargo-loading terminus in Chandigarh. Finally, the plan is to have a civil terminus at the Halwara airbase. It may take more than a year for the work to start.

A bypass in Ludhiana is planned but no work has started on it. The much-awaited four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section of the National Highway has been approved, but work on it will begin next year. The four-laning of the Chandigarh-Ambala section and the Chandigarh-Kiratpur Sahib section of the National Highway is also expected to start next year. The same is true for the widening of the Ludhiana-Chandigarh and Ludhiana-Ferozepore roads.

The state government had also planned a grand opening of its biotechnology incubator and park at Dera Bassi, near Chandigarh. This was cancelled at the last minute in November when the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, cancelled his visit. The park and its projects will start next year.

The recently revived sports complex project at Mohali is also a project which has been pending for a decade. Several proposals had been made in this regard over the years.


Councillor warned of disqualification
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 28
Even as Mr Harwinder Singh Nippy, a Congress councillor of the local Municipal Corporation (MC), started Akhand Path at his illegally built showroom in the Urban Estate area here yesterday, allegedly to use religion as a tool to pre-empt the move of the authorities concerned to demolish the same, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, issued him a warning that either he should demolish the same on his own within two days or face disqualification from the House.

Though Mr Nippy could not be contacted for his version, Mr Ahluwalia said Mr Nippy sought two days for the completion of Akhand Path with the promise that after that he would demolish the unauthorised structure on his own. Mr Ahluwalia added that if Mr Nippy would not fulfil his promise, he would write to the higher authorities for his disqualification from the House.

The ‘liberty’ given to Mr Nippy by the authorities triggered a wave of resentment amonng a large section of residents. The residents said the MC authorities had razed various unauthorised structures in the town in the past few days.

Information gathered by Chandigarh Tribune revealed that Mr Nippy had given a written undertaking a few days ago to the MC authorities that he would raze the illegal structure constructed by him.

After that, the MC authorities had brought down a couple of illegal structures built adjacent to the Mr Nippy’s structure, but had left the same on the plea that he had given in writing to the MC authorities that he would demolish the structure within two days.

A section of residents, whose unauthorised structures had been razed by the MC authorities, said if the MC authorities extended any benefit to Mr Nippy, they would launch an agitation.


Power theft detected
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 28
As many as 18 squads of the enforcement wing of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) conducted checking of industrial and business power connections at Ahrana Jattan, Mahilpur, Shamchaurasi, Banga and Goraya in Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts today.

Mr Shamsher Singh Bajaj, Director Enforcement, Jalandhar, stated here this evening that as many as 43 industrial and 86 business power connections were checked and 45 cases of power theft and excessive load were detected. Besides, seven cases of wrong metering and 39 of other discrepancies were also found. A fine of Rs 22.29 lakh was levied on the defaulters.


Vedanti asks CM to take action
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 28
Taking serious note of carrying Guru Granth Sahib at a disputed site of Sabzi Mandi by certain vegetable and fruit merchants here today, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, asked the Chief Minister and the district administration to take strict action against all those who tried to use the Bir for vested interests.

Jathedar Vedanti said that he might summon all those who were involved in this “most shameful act”. He said a Sikh clergy would contemplate to chalk out a plan to stop such practices in future.


Consumer forum jails 2 commission agents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 28
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum today ordered imprisonment of two commission agents.

The forum had decreed a complaint of Mr Vijay Kumar Jagga, of Nanak Nagari here. Mr Om Parkash and Mr Satish Kumar Punchii, commission agents, on July 20, 2005. The commission agents had been told to pay Rs 1,57,875 each with cost of Rs 1000 and interest at the rate of 12 per cent from June 24, 2003. The order was to be complied with in 30 days. Mr Jagga had deposited a sum with the commission agent here but the deposit was paid him back

Mr Jagga on October 25, moved the forum again under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 alleging that the respondents had not complied with the orders of the forum. Respondent Om Parkash pleaded that he had filed an appeal before the Punjab State Consumer Commission and the same was to be heard next month. The other respondent moved an application that he should be provided with legal aid, as he was not in a position to engage a lawyer.

Mr Amarjit Singh Katari, president and Ms Parveenjit Kaur member of the forum observed in the orders pronounced today, that the applications aimed at delaying the proceedings. The forum held the proceedings could not be stayed merely because the respondents had filed an appeal before the State Consumer Commission.

Both respondents were found guilty under Section 27 of the Act and sentenced to simple imprisonment for Rs 10,000 fine each.

The forum directed the police to take the respondents, who were on bail, in custody and send them to jail to serve the sentence. 


Rice millers stage dharna again
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 28
A large section of rice millers of this town staged a dharna for second consecutive day and did not make delivery of rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to lodge their protest against the demand for bribe allegedly by a section of officials of the FCI for accepting their rice stock under the custom milling category.

Mr Sanjeev Goyal, president of the Patiala Rice Millers Association, said though the district manager of the FCI, Mr Sukhchand, had assured them that he would take action against those officials who were demanding bribe for acceptance of the rice stock, the agitation would continue till the harassment was stopped.

He pointed out that rice millers started facing harassment at the hands of a section of FCI officials after they took a pledge that they would not give bribe to any official and instead, would deliver quality rice to the FCI under the custom milling category as per specifications.

He added that an official of the FCI, who was agitated over the appearance of a news item in a section of the press, which exposed the corruption prevailing in the FCI, misbehaved with a senior member of the association in the FCI buffer complex, when the millers were taking care of their trucks loaded with rice bags. He said a complaint in this connection was lodged to a senior FCI official accordingly.

He pointed out that on account of non-delivery of rice, the FCI had not been making any payment to state procurement agencies for the past two days and hence, delay in the payment would cause loss to the tune of lakhs to state procurement agencies on account of interest. He added that due to the attitude of a section of FCI officials, a section of rice millers would face delay in carrying out the milling of their paddy stock.

The rice stock, which had been lying in their rice mills, was prone to the vagaries of the weather as the same was not being shifted to godowns in time. The FCI officials had been delaying the acceptance of rice to make the millers suffer on account of damage due to rain and hence, were indulging in blackmailing tactics.

Mr Sukhchand, DM, FCI, when contacted, said no miller had ever made any complaint against any FCI official in connection with the demand of bribe. He added that millers were staging a dharna on their own without any reason. He denied that any official of the FCI misbehaved with any miller today.

He said he had made it clear to the millers that their genuine problems would be solved on the spot. They would be given no relaxation or favour as far as quality of rice was concerned.


Illegal colonies raided
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 28
Raids were conducted by police personnel in areas around the town today to check the mushroom growth of illegal colonies.

A team of seven officials headed by an ASI went around the area giving a tough time to property dealers operating around the town.

The police team had taken a photographer along to record the activities of the persons allegedly involved in selling plots in illegal colonies.

It is reported that while some property dealers fled after putting a lock on their shops, others had tried to cover the signboards with paint.

Property dealers had been called by the police for an interaction earlier but none of them had reached the police station.


One held for getting job on ‘fake’ certificate
Rashmi Talwar, Gurbaxpuri

Patti (Tarn Taran), December 28
A case has come to light whereas a person had submitted ‘fake’ certificate of date of birth (DOB) to get an inspector’s job in the Cooperative Department. The inspector has been arrested by the police under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120B, of the IPC.

Mr Jaswant Singh, inspector, Cooperative Department, a resident of Kairon village in Patti subdivision got the job of a supervisor.

He was also promoted inspector and drew salary from the Cooperative Department for 24 years since 1981.

Mr Rajwant Singh Mann, father-in-law of Mr Jaswant NRI from Canada, had complained to the Cooperative Department and the Vigilance Bureau about the alleged ‘tampering’ with date of birth by the accused to get the job. His actual date of birth is 1946. It was changed to 1953 making him seven years younger in the ‘fake’ certificate said Mr Tarsem Masih SHO.

Anticipating his arrest the accused sought voluntary retirement. He was granted voluntary retirement by the department, confirmed Mr Ajit Singh Khera, Deputy Registrar Cooperative Department. The department made no move either to act against him or recovery the salary that was ‘fraudulently’ drawn by him over the years. It has raised eyebrows.

Clearance of voluntary retirement of the accused despite “fake” certificate of date of birth has put a question mark on working of the Cooperative Department.


Duped of Rs 4.50 lakh by travel agent
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 28
A case of duping an innocent person of Rs 4.50 lakh by a travel agent was reported at Mahilpur police station last evening.

According to police sources, Narinder Singh of Dhada Kalan lodged a complaint against Jeeta Ram, alias Jit, a so-called travel agent of Bhora village (Nawanshahr). Narinder Singh alleged that he had given Rs 4.50 lakh and the passport of his son, Harjinder Singh, to Jeeta Ram for sending him abroad in 2002. But Jeeta Ram neither sent his son abroad nor returned his money.

The Mahilpur police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420, IPC, against Jeeta Ram.


Conference on thermodynamics
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 28
The scientists should explore more application of thermodynamics in fields of bio-energetic, aggregation, fermentation and natural phenomena like tsunami and volcanic eruption. These remarks were made by Prof D.V.S. Jain, Chairman of the National Advisory Committee of Indian Thermodynamics Society, while delivering a lecture on the inaugural day of the three-day national conference on 'Thermodynamics of Chemical and Biological Systems' at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) .

Prof Jain emphasised the role of Thermodynamics in chemical system, biological, pharmaceutical, geological and natural systems and their applications in day-to-day life.

The conference is being organised by the Indian Thermodynamics Society in collaboration with the Departments of Applied Chemistry and Chemistry, GNDU.

Dr Gurnam Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, presided over the inaugural session while Dr J.S. Sandhu, former Director of the Regional Research Laboratory, Johrat (Assam), presented the keynote address. Dr Tarlok Singh Benipal, organising secretary, gave a detailed outline of the conference.

Dr Sandhu said the molecular interaction was a phenomena of drug action that was not completely understood because of its complicity.

Dr Gurnam Singh said that nature had mysteries and it was for the scientist to unravel them and produce the best results. Efforts should be made to popularise science subject among young generations.

Earlier, Prof J.C. Ahluwalia, senior vice-president of the Indian Thermodynamic Society, welcomed the delegates and other participants while Prof M.P. Mahajan proposed a vote of thanks. 


Refresher course ends
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 28
A three-week refresher course on human rights, organised by the Academic Staff College, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), concluded here yesterday in which 26 teachers from different colleges of Punjab, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir took part.

Dr Inderpal Singh, former Pro-Vice Chancellor, GNDU, delivered the valedictory address and gave away certificates to participants.

Dr S.K. Bhatia, Course Coordinator, Academic Staff College of the university, said the key areas like the rights of women, children and prisoners were discussed. Eminent scholars, Dr D.J. Singh, Deputy Director, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy, Phillaur, Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Adviser, Jails, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Mr Satnam Singh Manak, Dr A.S. Narang from IGNOU, Dr G.S. Bajwa, Director, IAS Training Centre, Patiala, Dr H.K. Puri, Dr Kashmir Singh, Dr S.C. Sharma, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar and Dr Gurnam Singh, touched upon various aspects of human rights during the-three-week course.

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