P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD attacks Cong on graft, terrorism
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal lambasted the ruling Congress on the issues of corruption and terrorism In the Punjab Assembly here today. Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, speaking on behalf of the SAD, said: “The Chief Minister and his colleagues are neckdeep in corruption”. He went on to challenge the Congress: “I am ready to face any action if any of the ministers can get work done without paying money”.

On terrorism he went on to say: “The recent admission by the Director-General of Punjab Police on rehabilitating former militants, vindicates the stand of the SAD that it was the Congress that was responsible for terrorism in Punjab.” He also sought the resignation of the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, saying: “If he has an iota of professionalism in him, he will resign”. Mr Manpreet Badal, went on to sarcastically ask: “Can the country also pardon Dawood Ibrahim who, like these terrorists in Punjab, also waged war against the nation?”

Mr Raj Kumar Verka pointed out to Mr Manpreet Badal that it were the Akalis who used to attend the bhog ceremonies of militants during the phase of terrorism.

Mr Manpreet Badal, MLA from Gidderbaha and nephew of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was speaking on the Motion of Thanks and discussion on the Governor’s Address initiated by Mr Sunil Jakhar. The latter had hailed the achievement of the Congress government in having fulfilled all promises it had made at the time of going to the polls. Mr Jasbir Singh Gill had seconded the motion.

Earlier, Mr Manpreet Badal began by opposing the Motion of Thanks and added: “The Address was uninspiring and far removed from reality”. The Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), had addressed the Assembly two days ago.

From here on Mr Manpreet Badal launched an attack on the Congress and with each example recited an Urdu couplet and extensively quoted famous poet Iqbal. He said in the past four years the government had been run on the policy of oppression and revenge. The state exchequer was being looted while the bureaucracy had been politicised.

He alleged: “We fear crores of rupees have changed hands in the finalisation of mega projects in the state”. If ministers were accepting bribes, one could imagine what was happening in the state, he added.

The Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, challenged Mr Manpreet Badal to name the minister and not paint the entire Cabinet as tainted. Mr Manpreet Badal clarified that he was not hinting at Mr Johar. The Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, also asked him to prove which minister was taking money.

Mr Manpreet Badal continued: “The Chief Minister knows full well who are part of the land mafia, which officer and minister owns land in Ropar district”. Carrying on in the same vein, he said: “When Mr B.I.S. Chahal’s son got married where did the money come from for holding such a lavish wedding ? Does the Chief not know?” Mr Chahal is the Media Adviser to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. His son got married a few months ago.

People in Punjab, Mr Manpreet Badal alleged, were paying a “vigilance cess”. The Vigilance Bureau was itself in the forefront of corruption.


Farmers stage dharna over MSP
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, February 22
Workers and activists of five farmers’ organisations, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the BKU (Sidhupur), the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and the Punjab Khetibarri Kisan Vikas Front, staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here today.

Their main demand was Rs 850 minimum support price (MSP) for wheat. They gathered at the office of the CPI, near Mahavir Chowk, and marched to the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Their other demands included complete ban on the import of wheat, waiving the loans of farmers, free water supply for irrigation, payment of pending bonus of Rs 20 per quintal on paddy, payment of arrears to farmers for sugarcane crop and roll back in the prices of diesel, pesticides and fertilisers.

The protesters were addressed among others by Mr Achhra Singh, former CPI MLA from Dhuri; Mr Hardev Singh Bakshiwala, district secretary of the Punjab Kisan Sabha; Mr Amar Singh, district secretary of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha; and Mr Karnail Singh Jakhepal, a leader of the Khetibarri Kisan Vikas Front.

They also submitted a memorandum enlisting their demands to the Deputy Commissioner.

The district unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) also held a separate dharna and rally on the DC office complex under the presidentship of Mr Gurdev Singh Amargarh, district president of the union.

They also opposed the acquisition of 376 acres by the Trident Group of Industries in Fatehgarh Chhanna, Dhaula and Sangherra villages.

The dharna was also addressed by Mr Kapur Singh Chhahar, state vice-president of the union, Mr Raghbir Singh Chhajli, Mr Darshan Kumar Sangrur, Mr Gurcharan Singh Chananwal, Mr Jagroop Singh Dhura and Mr Surjit Singh wazidke, all kisan leaders.

However, they left the rally venue without handing over the memorandum to the DC saying the DC himself should have come to receive it.

Amritsar: A similar protest was held in Amritsar also. The rally started from Ram Bagh, passed through various markets and culminated at DC office with the submission of a memorandum.

The activists raised slogans against the government. Five farmers organisations had given call for the protest from February 22 to 24.

Jalandhar: The BKU has demanded that the government decision to import wheat should be withdrawn and the families of farmers committing suicides be given financial help up to Rs 10 lakh each. It has also demanded that the remaining payments be made towards the procurement of sugarcane and the loans of Dalits, labourers and farmers be waved off.

A rally was held in front of the local DC office calling for immediate redressing of their grievances. They said the country was self-reliant in foodgrain and did not need any imports.

Moga: Seeking a review of the UPA government’s decision to import wheat, the BKU staged a protest in front of the DC office here.

The BKU secretary general, Prof Manjit Singh Kadia, demanded Rs 900 MSP for domestic wheat as the imported variety would cost Rs 1,050 at the sea port. They said the current market rate of wheat was also Rs 1,000 and in such a situation paying only Rs 650 per quintal was “total injustice” to the farmers.


Farmers for regular supply

Ropar, February 22
The farmers associated with Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) today staged a dharna in Maharaja Ranjit Singh Park here demanding 12-hour regular power supply in rural areas, rise in the price of crops, vegetables and milk. They also demanded carpeting of the roads in villages and construction of cow sheds for stray animals. TNS


Discussion on police patronage to ex-ultras
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab Assembly today decided to hold a special discussion on the issue of police patronage to former militants like Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi. The move came after the Shiromani Akali Dal raised the issue, forcing adjournment for an hour today.

The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, rejected an SAD adjournment motion on the law and order situation with reference to the issue involving Sukhi but later allowed a special discussion on it.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal and 12 other SAD members raised the issue with specific reference to the case of Sukhi, who had been living in Jalandhar under an assumed name with the knowledge of the police, including the Director-General of Police, Mr S. S. Virk.

Mr Badal said his party had no objection to the announcement of the Chief Minister on the rehabilitation of former militants, including Wassan Singh Zaffarwal. But, he added “nothing should be hidden, let them surrender openly”.

When the House reconvened after the adjournment, the bureaucracy came in for fire from the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, who took offence to the fact that just two senior functionaries from the bureaucracy were present during the call-attention notices. After the Speaker said this, six officers trooped in.

Meanwhile, during question hour, the Punjab Transport Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, assured the House that the government would take up with Himachal Pradesh the issue of the levying of entry fee on vehicles registered in other states entering the hill state through various inter-state borders.

The Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, assured the House that the government would consider the demand to hike the relief amount being given to the victims of the anti-Sikh violence which was last revised in 1998.

The exemption of 32.10 acres on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway from a 188 acre scheme of the Improvement Trust of Amritsar came up for heated debate.


PIL seeks names of persons declared dead
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 22
A petition in public interest (PIL) has been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking directions to the respondents, including the Punjab Police, to make public the names of all those persons who have been declared dead by the police even though they are very much alive.

The PIL, filed by World Human Rights Protection Council (WHRPC) through its Chairman Ranjan Lakhanpal, also seeks that directions be issued to the respondents to initiate action against the erring police officers who declared living persons dead. It also prays that the practice of declaring living persons dead by the police be put an end to.

Referring to recent media reports, which highlighted the fact that Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, a former militant, who had been declared dead in an encounter with the police, has been leading a normal life in a Jalandhar locality with his family, the petition says that the police acted illegally in declaring living persons dead. Sukhi has been leading a normal life on an assumed name.

The petition also points to the recent acknowledgment by the DGP, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk, about the fact that Sukhi was alive. In a press conference some days ago, the DGP had said that Sukhi, and many others like him, had been rehabilitated with the full knowledge of various Chief Ministers and Governors.

The DGP had put the number of such persons at over 300, saying that they had helped the cops during the ‘‘war against terrorism’’ in Punjab.

The PIL also cites the case of former alleged terrorist Harpreet Singh alias Happy, who had been declared killed in an encounter by the Punjab Police. The cops had also claimed the reward of Rs 30 lakh that the alleged terrorist was carrying on his head. However, sometime back, Happy made a dramatic appearance before the court, seeking protection. He had said that while the cops had been taking credit for his death, he was working as a servant in a Chennai house.

The WHRPC petition is likely to be taken up for hearing soon.


Badal: Cong got SAD candidates killed by ‘cats’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said that the Congress had got killed 24 SAD candidates through police “cats” during the campaign for the Punjab Assembly elections which were cancelled 12 hours before the polling in 1991.

He said when the Assembly elections were held in 1992 not a single Congress candidate was killed. The 1992 elections were boycotted by the SAD, he added. The matter was worth investigating. He said that otherwise also several senior Akali leaders were either killed or attacked in the 90s. Talking to a group of mediapersons at his party office in the Punjab Assembly complex, Mr Badal said: “We have been saying for a long that the ruling Congress is maintaining a private army of criminals and ‘cats’.” Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has asked the Union Government to give two years’ extension in deputation to Mr Virk.


Dullo flays DGP on Sukhi issue
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, Feb 22
The Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today joined the opposition chorus of criticising the Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr SS Virk, for admitting that the police was providing protection to a former terrorist Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi along with 300 others. He demanded that cases against all these terrorists must be reopened for trial in the court of law.

Addressing a press conference at the Circuit House here today, the PCC president maintained that by joining the mainstream the terrorists cannot escape from their past sins of killing of hundreds innocent of people. He said the police must not act as the judges and let the court's decide whether they are innocent or not.

Mr Dullo maintained that it was not proper on the part of the DGP to admit in public that the police was providing shelter to former terrorists in the name of fighting militancy. This would send a wrong signal. The PCC president said he would meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue for registering cases against all the 300 former terrorists, whom the police was providing protection.

On the nomination of candidates from various Assembly segments, the PCC president said, he would recommend only those who would be enjoying the support of the grassroot workers.


Closed lab adds bite to bird flu
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 22
Even as the outbreak of bird flu has sent alarming bells throughout the country, the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory catering to this region, stretching as far as New Delhi has virtually been non-functional for the past several months.

The regional laboratory, which caters to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and New Delhi, has been undergoing renovation at a very slow pace owing to which the entire set-up is lying disrupted. The laboratory equipment, including pipettes, burettes, flasks and other items, have been put in the animal post-mortem room, due to which disease diagnosis of dead animals seems to be practically impossible.

The huge government poultry farm in the same complex of the laboratory has long been evacuated. The only animals available for testing purposes are the pigs that are in abundance and in overgrown sizes. Officials, however, claim that there was no need to maintain the farms as they could easily approach private farms close by for taking samples.

The laboratory is currently being headed by Joint Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, Dr H.S. Sandha. There are nine doctors, technicians and other staff working for the lab. The post of a parasitology specialist has been lying vacant since long.

Dr Sandha, however, claimed that even as renovation was on, there was no problem in taking samples. He said 5000 samples of poultry and migratory birds had been sent from the laboratory that had tested negative in Bhopal.

The doctors, when asked as to whether they had masks and other protection covers available, could not show these items immediately but they said they could get these items whenever there was a need.


Team monitoring migratory birds
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 22
Keeping in view the outbreak of the bird flu virus in Maharashtra, officials of the Animal Husbandry Department here today took samples from poultry firms in the wetland area.

The four-member team headed by the Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry, Mr Ram Singh, took 178 samples from poultry firms and blood samples of birds species in the wetland area. The samples were sent to a laboratory in Bhopal.

Three species of migratory birds suspected to be carriers of bird flu have arrived in the wetland area, the natural habitat of these birds till December 6.

The wetland area here is providing shelter to more than 250 species of local and migratory birds.

Officials of the Forest Department circulated photographs and details about these three species among villagers living along the wetland area.

There is no need for panic as no case of bird flu has been detected in Punjab. All samples sent to the laboratory earlier have been found negative.

A control room had been set-up in the Animal Husbandry Department in Ropar to monitor the situation, said the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Mr Ram Singh, to The Tribune.

The Deputy Forest Officer, Mr Satnam Singh, said after the outbreak of bird flu in Maharashtra, the surveillance of birds had been increased. Special teams of Forest Guards had been instructed to visit the wetland land area everyday to monitor the conditions of birds.

Meanwhile, the Health Department has set up a control room in the Civil Hospital.


Man recovered from police station
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 22
A Warrant Officer, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, conducted a raid at the City Police Station here last night and recovered Mr Balbir Singh, alias Beera, a local resident, from the station.

Mr Beera said here today that he had been in the illegal custody of the local police since February 19 (Sunday) when the in-charge of the city police station, along with a police contingent, bundled him into a police canter from his shop and took him away.

He said the in-charge of the city police station wanted that he should pay rent to Shiromani Panth Akali Buddha Dal (Damdama Sahib) for the shop (occupied by him as a tenant in Idgah Market) though there was a stay order in his favour. Mr Beera said he had been recovered by the Warrant Officer at about 8.45 pm on February 21.

He said the Warrant Officer had been appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court the previous day on a criminal writ petition, filed by Mr Ravi Charan Singh Deol who was a friend of his son, seeking his release.

When contacted, Mr Darshan Singh, incharge, City Police Station, Sangrur, refuted the allegation that Balbir Singh had been kept in illegal custody for three days.

He said Balbir Singh had come to the police station on the pretext of lodging a report just two minutes before the arrival of the Warrant Officer at the police station.

When the Warrant Officer had entered the police station, Balbir Singh was found sitting in the room of munshi where any one could sit.

The in-charge also said he had no links with the rent issue of his shop and he had never put any pressure on Balbir Singh to pay rent to any one.


Widow loses seven sons to drugs
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
The 70-year-old Mohinder Kaur, a widow of Maqboolpura, a ramshackle locality on the fringe of Holy City here lost all her seven sons to drugs! The last son, ‘Happy’ died this week.

Shaken Mohinder Kaur, who lives with her widowed daughter-in-law in the locality of drug-addicts here, cannot recall the names of all seven sons and dates of their deaths.

On hearing about the plight of the destitute widows, local BJP member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu visited the affected families in the locality and announced first instalment of Rs 5 lakh for the uplift of the widows, their wards and the ‘Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir’, a school for the children of drug addicts in the colony.

Moved by the plight of Mohinder Kaur, Mr Sidhu gave Rs 5000 from his personal account. Mr Sidhu appreciated efforts of Mr Brij Bedi, convener, Citizen’s Forum and Master Ajit Singh for their selfless endeavour to convert Maqboolpura — the ‘haven for addicts into heaven for orphans’, by providing them (orphans) education free for cost.

The locality has lost more than 150 bread-winners in the last few years to drug abuse. The addicts administering morphine injection is a common sight with the administration remaining a mute witness.

Maqboolpura, fast converting into a ‘slum of addicts’ may see a ray of hope with Mr Sidhu promising financial aid from the central government to rehabilitate the affected families. He was appalled to see the collapse of the sanitation system in the colony where more than 20,000 souls, most of them lived the poverty linelive. Mr Brij Bedi told Mr Sidhu that residents of Maqboolpura were compelled to live in the hell-like situation.

MP announced to adopt the locality for its overall development and uplift of its residents . Mr Sidhu said that he would make all-out efforts to improve condition of residents and raised his voice against drug pedalling. He was told sale of drugs had been going on unchecked and with alleged connivance of law enforcement agencies.

He, however, was impressed with the stitching centre and computer section being run by the Citizen’s Forum in Maqboolpura.


SAD workers, panches join Cong
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 22
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers including panches of Gulam Nabi village near Naushehra Majha Singh today joined the Congress in the presence of PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa. The minister announced Rs 12 lakh for the repair of roads, Rs 1 lakh for community hall, grant for the village church and plots for poor in the village.

Mr Bajwa said that the government was soon launch a recruitment drive in the state. No primary school will remain without teacher after March.

The SAD workers, including panches who joined the Congress today, include Mr Kuldeep Singh, Mr Hari Singh, Mr Bua Singh, Jagir Singh, Ms Nirmal Kaur, Joginder Singh, Gian Singh, Kulwant Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Jarnail Singh, Rajinder Singh and Raghubir Singh.

Later Mr Bajwa also inaugurated a medical camp organised at Khanuwan. The camp was organised at the foodgrain market of Khanuwan.


Snag hits Harmander Sahib filtration plant
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
In less than two years of the 'Kar Sewa' of 'Amrit Sarovar' (Holy Tank), held amid religious fervour and fanfare, a snag has developed in the Rs 5 crore filtration plant, donated by US-based 'Tut brothers', compelling the SGPC to reduce the level of Sarovar by several feet, much to the chagrin of the devotees.

The "seva" was started by five Sikh saints — Baba Jagtar Singh Tarn Taran, Baba Harbans Singh Delhi, Baba Labh Singh Anandpur Sahib, Baba Seva Singh Khadur Sahib and Baba Mohinder Singh of the Nishkam Sevak Jatha Birmingham (UK) — with five spades and bowls made of gold and silver, respectively, in accordance with Sikh traditions on March 25, 2004.

Before the installation of the filtration plant, the then Head Granthi, Harmander Sahib, Giani Puran Singh and senior experts had raised objections on the plea that it (filtration plant) was not workable.

However, Mr Roop Singh, Manager, Darbar Sahib, claimed that the current problem was short-lived since the snag in the filtration plant stood removed.

He, however, said that there was 'no problem' with regard to the filtration process since new pipes had been inserted in the holy tank. Everything would be alright within couple of days.

Steps were taken to stop draining the water after washing sanctum sanctorum of Harmander Sahib. Separate route of drainage had been designed for making sarovar water cleaner.

The construction of the Golden Temple tank undertaken under the supervision of Guru Ram Das, assisted by Baba Budha Ji started on November 6, 1573, and the digging was completed by 1577 AD. While the tank was under construction, Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, then thought of building a temple in the midst of the tank (giving lotus-like shape).

After the constitution of the SGPC, the first kar seva to clean the sarovar was undertaken on June, 17,1923. Second kar seva was launched on March 31, 1973 by five Sikh Saints during Army operation in June 1984 as the sarovar got desecrated with the dumping of arms and ammunition and bodies of the visiting pilgrims. The temple complex was handed over to the Sikh clergy on September 29.

The kar seva of the sarovar was again undertaken on October 12, 1984, the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Ram Das.

After Operation Black Thunder a kar seva was also conducted on May 19, 1988.


State Human Development report discussed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
A two-day workshop to discuss Punjab Human Development Report, sponsored by the UNDP, was inaugurated at Punjabi University here today.

The workshop seeks to disseminate awareness about the report and initiate a discussion on key developmental issues relevant to the socio-economic development in Punjab.

Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Dean, Social Sciences, dwelt on the genesis of human development index evolved by UNDP expert Mehboob-ul-Haq and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to overcome deficiencies of per capita income as a measure of social, economic and political development.

The key parameters covered by the HDI include purchasing power per capita, health and education, based on which the first Human Development Report was published by the UNDP in 1990.

The Punjab Human Development Report 2004 is the first report on the state. It places Punjab second to Kerala in human development with high level of per capita income and social development.

However, the report brings out that Punjab lags much behind southern states and even Himachal Pradesh with respect to gender equality and educational attainment.

It also highlights the serious crisis in Punjab agriculture, which is considered the backbone of the state’s economy.

Prof A.S. Dhesi brought into focus the flaws in economic development model adopted by Punjab, which focussed on peripheral activities like agriculture and small-scale and traditional industries, bringing in only short-term gains.

However, these activities require low skills, low capital investment and generate long-term economic growth which needs capital-intensive industries requiring high skills and capable of paying high wages.

This model has not fulfilled the aspirations of the Punjab youth, who are migrating out. This model has kept a majority of people dependent on agriculture with small land-holdings, resulting in low productivity and poverty of peasantry.

Prof Dhesi said education required not only infrastructure but proper competitive environment which would raise the aspiration level of the youth in rural Punjab.

He expressed apprehensions about the authenticity of data in the report at some places.

Prof P.S. Raikhy highlighted the need for industrial development in Punjab and emphasised on restructuring the District Planning Board. He highlighted the need for neighborhood schools to impart quality education in rural areas of Punjab.

Prof R.S. Ghuman pointed out at the non-shifting of workforce from the agriculture sector to the non-agriculture sector, which had adversely affected livelihood in rural areas. Prof R.S. Bawa questioned the quality of education being imparted at the school level.


Three mentally ill rescued
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 22
Roshan Singh, a mentally ill person, who had been chained for the past four years at his residence in nearby Sadik village, was able to achieve freedom today.

Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar and Red Cross secretary Gurdayal Singh visited the village before admitting him and two other mental patients at Sadik to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here.

Roshan’s family members said he was married and had four children. He worked as a daily wager to eke out his living, but four years back he became mentally ill and started wandering around the village. They said they were compelled to chain him, as he began pelting stones at the villagers.

They also got him treated at various places, but to no avail.

When the DC was in the village for Roshan, the villagers brought two more such cases to his notice.

Ms Veerpal Kaur, the mother of 14-year-old Soni, told the DC that once her son had temperature when he was two-and-a-half years of age, after which he became mentally ill.

Mr Darshan Singh, brother of Prakash, said the latter had been mentally ill for the past many years. “His condition deteriorates in July and August and he often ventures out of home in those days,” he added.

The DC assured them free medical aid for these mental patients.

Earlier, Kala Singh of Mani Singh Wala village and Malkit Singh of Marak village were offered free treatment by the Red Cross and now both of them were leading normal life.


PSEB workshop concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 22
A three-day training workshop on advanced management programme for the PSEB senior and middle-level executives for distribution system officials concluded here today at the Board’s head office here today.

The programme was attended among others by Engineers-in-Chief, Chief Engineers, Superintending Engineers and Senior Executive Engineers of the distribution system.

The programme was addressed by Dr A.S. Chawla from the Punjab School of Management and associated with the executive education programme of Harvard Business School.

During these three days, the distribution officials interacted with the faculty on management issues like leadership, motivation, team building, communication and transactional analysis.

Mr H.S. Sohi, Member (Finance and Accounts), PSEB, said such HRD initiatives were required to change the mindset of senior functionaries of the board and help them to analyse strengths and weaknesses of their working. Mr Sohi said that through modern management techniques, it was possible to improve the power sector. Mr Sohi said the HRD initiative in the PSEB to improve its overall performance will continue.


Bhutan’s most wanted visits Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 22
More than one-sixth of Bhutan citizens striving for a democratic set-up in their country had to flee the hilly kingdom. These activists are termed as terrorists and have to face inhuman punishment there.

This was alleged by Mr D.P. Kafley, general secretary of the Human Rights Council and one of the most wanted fugitives of Bhutan while talking to TNS here yesterday. He carries a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head.

He had come here to participate in a seminar on “The problem of terrorism in South-Asian countries,” organised by the Folklore Search Academy, Amritsar.

He said many Bhutanese were languishing in various jails of the country for raising voice against the atrocities committed on the citizens.

He said he was one of the 14 Bhutanese who carried an award of Rs 5 lakh on their heads. He alleged there was no written constitution of the country and hence the voice of pro-democracy citizens was being muzzled using inhuman methods.

He said they would continue their struggle till true democracy was set up in the country.


SAARC workshop on water
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
The United Nation has already declared 2005-2015 as "Water Decade" to save water.

These remarks were made by Dr Malwinder Singh, member secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Patiala, while inaugurating a three-day 6th Saarc workshop on water-saving technologies being organised by the United States Educational Foundation in India in collaboration with the Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of Guru Nanak Dev University here at its Guru Nanak Bhavan Auditorium.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided while Prof (Mrs) Jean Schuloske, Executive Director of the foundation, gave the introduction about the workshop.


PSEB vigilance for action against five

Patiala, February 22
In a case of embezzlement in the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power Plant, Bathinda, the Director-General of Police (Vigilance and Security), Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Lalit Bhatia, has recommended action against five employees.

After investigation, the Vigilance found five, including an Assistant Engineer and a Storekeeper, guilty of embezzlement of Rs 1.75 lakh. Mr Bhatia recommended initiation of disciplinary proceedings for major penalty and the registration of a criminal case. TNS


Power unit shut down at Ropar plant
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 22
One unit of 210 MW capacity out of six at the Super Thermal plant here was shut down today after developing a technical snag. The non-functioning of the unit has resulted in a loss of 50 lakh units to the state per day.

As a result, people in the rural and urban areas faced longer power cuts than scheduled. Sources said that due to a leakage in boiler of Unit-2, the unit had stopped functioning. It is expected to become operational tomorrow.


3 injured in blast

Muktsar, February 22
Three persons were injured seriously following a blast in the Ghass Mandi area of the town today, the police said.

Rinkoo (22), his sister Neenu (15) and their neighbour Shinder Kaur (45) were injured when a blast took place while they were engaged in manufacturing fireworks, the police said.

The injured were referred to a hospital at Ludhiana.

Senior police and civil officials rushed to the spot.

Due to the blast considerable loss was reported to the roof of the house as the victims were manufacturing fireworks while sitting on the roof. — PTI


IAF man insulted for carrying ‘choti’
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 22
Another controversial issue has cropped up at air force station here. Naresh Kumar, posted at 18 Air Force Wing at the air force station, has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against orders of senior air force officers asking him to remove the tuft of hair at the back of his head.

In the orders, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, it has been stated that the tuft of hair on the back of his head was against the rules. As per the directive, the authority should take appropriate action (that is to remove the tuft of hair).

The petitioner has alleged that he is a Brahmin. He has been a supporting tuft of hair (Choti) at the back of his head after a religious ceremony was held at the age of five. He joined the Indian Air force in 1987and joined the duty at the Pathankot air force station in 2003. For all these years no one had objected to it.

However, recently he complained to the authorities against the use of abusive language against him on duty by one of his senior officers. Instead of redressing his grievances, the authorities had started victimising him. An inquiry officer, instead of listening to his views, further used abusive language against him.

On the petition of Naresh Kumar, the high court has issued a notice of motion to the air force authorities at Pathankot and the Ministry of Defense and directed them to reply to the charges within 15 days.


Nabha jail official suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Assistant Superintendent of the Nabha jail, who was allegedly involved in branding an objectionable word on the back of a 20-year-old Dalit undertrial, Narinder Singh, has been suspended, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, announced in the Punjab Assembly today.

The Chief Minister said such persons had no business to be in government service and added: “ If I had my way, I would have dismissed them from service.

However, the rules and procedures have to be followed”.

Narinder Singh had alleged that the objectionable word was branded on his back and then he was paraded naked in the jail.


Stop flow of dirty water into canal, XEN told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
In a letter written to the Executive Engineer of Sangrur Division (Irrigation Department), Mr Daljit Singh Sandhu, the Superintending Engineer, Mr Harbans Singh, has directed him to stop the flow of dirty water from a village into first Patiala feeder (canal).

Drawing the attention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement in this regard, Mr Harbans Singh has asked the Executive Engineer to implement the order of the court immediately. The copy of the letter has also been sent to the Chief Engineer (canals) here.

It was alleged in the complaint that dirty water was flowing into the canal near Jandali village, 15 km from Doraha. The canal supplies water to various parts of the Malwa region.


Verma new Home Secy

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab Government today appointed Mr P.K. Verma Home Secretary, replacing Mr A.K. Dubey, who has been appointed Financial Commissioner, Appeals -II, which is considered an insignificant posting.

Mr Verma will continue to work as Financial Commissioner, Development. Mr Dubey, whose name has been forwarded to the Union Government for deputation, will replace Mrs Sujata Dass, who has been appointed Commissioner, Enquiries. — TNS


Four killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 22
Three persons were among the four killed near Pucca Sarna village on Sriganganagar road late last night. One of the victim Sanjay Jhorar, resident of village Kheowali Dhab near here, was the only son of late Banwari Lal, a small farmer. He leaves behind wife, four years son and an unmarried sister in the family.

According to information, the victims had gone to Pucca Sarna village reportedly for buying liquor to celebrate the marriage of their brother-in-law at Morjand Khari village. The marriage party had returned last evening from Dholipal. Witnesses said their ill-fated jeep (RJ-13C-6817) rammed in to an oil tanker (HR 38 H 2764) parked on the roadside due to some mechanical fault near Uttamsinghwala village at 11.30 PM.

Two of the occupants died on the spot, while others died on way to the district hospital, Sriganganagar, 40 km from here.

The victims were identified as Sanjay Jhorar, Vijay Singh Panniwala, Krishan Lal (all brothers-in-law of the bridegroom) and driver Vinod Sharma. The police has launched a search for the driver of the oil tanker who reportedly fled from the scene after the accident.


Rs 15.5 lakh looted from PNB
Our Correspondent

Thekerewal (Barnala), February 22
In broad daylight, three unidentified persons have looted Rs 15.5 lakh from Punjab National Bank at Thekreewal village, about 7 km from here.

According to witnesses, three youths came in white Maruti car at about 1 pm. One robber snatched the rifle of security guard of the bank, while another person entered the bank and held the pistol on the head of bank manager Satish Kumar Arora. The third robber started collecting the cash from bank.

Soon after the incident, the bank manager called up the police. SSP G.Nageshwar Rao said red alert had been sounded in the state. The white car, which was used for robbery, was bearing registration number PB-18 2405 which was a fake number. The police is suspecting that the looters can be in the Jagraon area.


Peace panel member commits suicide

Abohar, February 22
Harpreet Kaur, a member of the Peace Committee, reportedly committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets at Dabwala Kalan village, last night, sources said.

According to information, Harpreet was alone at her house when she consumed the poisonous tablets. A member of the village panchayat rushed her to the Civil Hospital with the help of neighbours as she fell unconscious. Efforts by the doctors to save her proved futile. The police could not record her statement. An FIR was registered on the statement of her son, Gurpreet Singh, but he did not hold any one responsible for the death.

Sources said her husband had complained to senior police officers in the past three months objecting to the visits of an ASI of Punjab police then posted at Fazilka. — OC


Prisoner escapes from hospital
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 22
Dilraj Singh, a prisoner in the high security Amritsar Central Jail, today managed to give the slip to the police from Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, here. The incident came to light during a routine check by the jail authorities in the hospital.

When contacted Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh confirmed the incident. He said that Dilraj Singh was admitted to the hospital for treatment after the court orders.

It is pertinent to mention that Dilraj Singh was going through rigorous imprisonment under smuggling, rape and looting cases. He had earlier also run away from the hospital in a similar manner.


Takeover of medical institute: Centre to be approached
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Governing Council of Shaheed Beant Singh Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Jalandhar, at a meeting here today decided to approach the Government of India to take over the institution on the pattern of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who chaired the meeting, would soon call on the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to urge him to direct the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to take over the PIMS. This would go a long way in providing super-speciality services to patients in the northern region.


SGPC institutes to retain minority status
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The Punjab Government has decided to continue to treat professional institutions being run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) as minority community institutions.

In other words, the state government will not withdraw their status as minority community institutions. Sources said the issue was discussed here this afternoon at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The dominating opinion at the meeting was that the SGPC was an elected body of Sikhs of three states — Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh — and that it did not represent Sikhs of Punjab only.


Dr N.P. Singh is ISTE regional head
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 22
Dr. N. P. Singh, Acting Director, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, has been nominated the Chairman of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh for three years by the president of the ISTE, New Delhi. The ISTE is the top body of the country for the improvement of technical education.


Income tax awareness camp organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 22
The Income Tax department of the Patiala Zone has started an awareness campaign to educate people about the department. Under this, camps are being organised in small towns and remote rural areas, said Ms Promila Bhardwaj, Commissioner of Income Tax, Patiala.

She had come to address the awareness camp, organised by the Department at Aam Khas Bagh today.

She said the concept of organising camps in rural and small towns had yielded good results and the income tax assesses in the Patiala Zone had increased from 1,83,512 to 1,93,756. In these camps people are educated that to pay tax is their duty and they should come forward voluntarily to pay taxes. She said the primary purpose is to teach them the benefits of paying taxes. She said the department is for their help and they should not be afraid of it.

On this occasion, Mr Varinder Rattan, president, District Beopar Mandal, highlighted various problems being faced by traders and demanded that more branches of banks in all towns of the district should be authorised to collect various types of taxes.

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