P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Police missed chances to nab Bheora
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
For the second time in less than a year, the Delhi Police, has managed to nab a dreaded terrorist while the Punjab Police, that was also in hot pursuit, could not succeed in doing so.

Information about Bheora’s movements had been reaching central intelligence agencies and Punjab Police and the trail had been “positive” in the past few weeks. Going by efforts made by the Punjab Police, which often takes the credit for wiping out militancy in Punjab, it is a case of missed chances in the past few months. Police officials termed these as “near misses”.

This morning three terrorists of the Babbar Khalsa International group, including its India operations chief Paramjit Singh Bheora, who was allegedly involved in the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, were arrested in Delhi. Earlier the Delhi Police had nabbed Jagtar Singh Hawara, from Patiala leaving the Punjab Police red-faced. Hawara had been roaming around freely in Punjab and the Police faced criticism for their inability to nab him. He is also an accused in killing Beant Singh, who was blown-up by a human bomb outside his office on August 31, 1995.

Bheora was arrested in 1996 and was lodged in the Burail Jail here, from where he along with Hawara escaped in January, 2004 after digging a 100-feet long tunnel.

In the past couple of weeks the Punjab Police had sent its teams to various locations. They had alerted Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh in the recent past on leads about Bheora and his activities. The trail may have been the right track as the Delhi Police has confirmed today that a consignment of arms was to be picked up by these people in Rajasthan, however, they were nabbed this morning before the Punjab Police could lay its hands on them.

Two of Bheora’s associates Jasbir Singh and Bhupinder Singh, who, according to sources, have been carrying out reconnaissance missions in Chandigarh were based in Holka village in Patiala. A team of the Punjab Police went to that village about two weeks ago, however, the duo had escaped by then. Similar searches were carried out in Ropar District on suspected hideouts on Bheora’s harbourers at that time. Bheora’s movement was reported by informers of having being seen driving a truck near Mohali.

In November, there was “concrete information” that Bheora and his associates were to meet at a hotel in Rajpura. This information also yielded no result as Bheora did not turn up at the venue. A person, close to Bheora was picked up from Bathinda, who had revealed the plan.

Notably, it may be mentioned that the Punjab Police had not formed any special investigation team to handle the case. On the other hand, the Delhi Police had formed an SIT under ACP, Mr Ravi Shanker, following the arrest of Hawara last June.

Now the Punjab Police is in close touch with Delhi Police to crack the remaining persons, who may have been in touch with Bheora. Technically, Bheora, like Hawara, will have to be handed over to Chandigarh Police. The Chandigarh Administration has issued a notification under section 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr P.C) which prohibits the movement of Jagtar Hawara and Bheora outside Burail Jail.


Bheora’s news brings relief to family
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Bheora (Ropar), March 20
The family members of Paramjit Singh Bheora have expressed relief over his arrest by the Delhi Police saying they are happy that their son is alive. They had earlier thought that the police might have killed Bheora by concocting the false theory of his escape from the Burail jail about two years ago.

Bheora’s parents, who are living in a small village, Bheora, here, today claimed that they had no contact with their son after he ran away from the Burail jail. He was lodged in the jail for his alleged involvement in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The first call from the elder brother of Bheora from Delhi this morning about his arrest gave his family members hope that their son was alive. Thereafter the family remained glued to television to see Bheora throughout the day.

Sitting in his house, which today witnessed much activity after the TV channels flashed news about Bheora’s arrest, the 86-year-old father of Bheora, Mr Jagjit Singh, said, “We lost everything in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. The rioters had burnt our two houses in Nanak colony in New Delhi and a Muslims family from Muradabad had rescued us”.

“That incident had a bad impact on the mind of Bheora, who was then in Class VIII. Thereafter he was sent to Rajpura to live with his sister. He completed his Class X from Rajpura and later did ITI from Ropar. He also worked in a factory in Delhi”, he added.

“Before Beant Singh’s assassination on August 12 a large number of police personnel raided our rented house in New Delhi, but Bheora managed to escape”, he said.

Bheora’s father also showed articles written by his son when he was lodged in the Burail jail. These articles had appeared in Punjabi magazines in which Bhoera expressed his anguish over the Army attack on Darbar Sahib in Amritsar and also over the killing of the Sikhs in riots in Delhi.

“I had filed a case in the district court, Chandigarh, apprehending that the police had killed Bheora. It’s only when the main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case, Jagtar Singh Hawara, was arrested by the Delhi Police that we could have little hope about he being alive”, said Mr Jagjit Singh.

“We have applied for compensation recently announced by the Central Government for the 1984 riot victims. We have no source of income, we have only half an acre of agriculture land that could not yield us anything. We are meeting our daily expenses from meagre pension of Rs 300 and Rs 200 that I and my wife get from the government, respectively. My son, who lives in Delhi, also sends us money”, he said.

Bheora’s mother, Amarjit Kaur, was initially reluctant to share information about her son, but later burst into tears blaming the government and the police for the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. “I received the first call in the morning from my elder son Jarnail Singh from Delhi about Bheora’s arrest. He informed that the news about Bheora’s arrest was being telecast by news channels. But so far no police official or any other agency has given us a call about his arrest”, she added.

“Bheora was mature enough to take his decisions. He did not reveal his plans to us but the riots in Delhi could be the reason behind his joining the hardliners to take revenge”, she added. The police also implicated him in a false case during militancy in Punjab. However, the court later acquitted him”. He was a close of friend of Jagtar Singh Tara, who also had escaped from the Burail jail and had not been arrested so far. Tara and Bheora used to meet in Delhi”, she said. 


SGPC to honour PM with siropa
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has conveyed to the state authorities to for providing foolproof ‘security umbrella’ by its task force to Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister inside the Darbar Sahib complex, during his visit, scheduled for March 24. The Prime Minister is coming to his hometown to flag off the Amritsar Nankana Sahib bus service.

The SGPC has also decided to honour Dr Manmohan Singh with a robe of honour in its information office. The PM is visiting Darbar Sahib in the morning so that his visit did not cause inconvenience to the Sikh Sangat. Mr Roop Singh, manager Darbar Sahib said that all arrangements had been completed to welcome the Prime Minister in the Information Office. He, however, suggested that the most appropriate time for the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh to sanctum sanctorum is between 5.15 am and 6 am when he could sit for a while and listen holy hymns.

Meanwhile, the venue of public rally to be addressed by Dr Manmohan Singh has been shifted from Attari to Amritsar. The Municipal Corporation has pressed heavy machines in to server to cut green trees for Pandal (500X 300 Sq Yards) in local Mr Ranjit Avenue here on Rajasansi airport road to accommodate more than 20,000 persons. The state government in general and district administration in particular has been making all out efforts to mobilise general people to attend the rally so that this event historic when a bus would link two ancient cities — Amritsar and Nankana Sahib. The city has been converted into police cantonment even three days before the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh. The sources said that the police from at least eight districts had been requisitioned.

Eight persons have purchased tickets for the inaugural Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus. They may not get chance to visit Nankana Sahib in the inaugural bus because the official delegation, including ministers and senior officers of the state government may like to go to Nankana Sahib in the 40 seater Volvo bus. 


SGPC chief for removal of Josh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Taking a serious note of clubbing of Sikhs with Hindus in a statement by newly appointed member of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mr Harcharan Singh Josh, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar today called for his immediate removal as NCM member.

Strongly objecting to the statement by the member, the SGPC chief censured his appointment and called him a “stooge” of the Congress, which had appointed him to the post.

Mr Josh had earlier stuck to his stand and declared that “Sikhs were part of Hindus” and had dared Akal Takht to summon him on his statement.

The SGPC president said it was strange and a reason for anguish that a person appointed to represent the Sikh community was ignorant of the rich history of the Sikhs.

He asked if Sikhs were part of Hindus, why had the Constitution declared them a minority. He further said, “Mr Josh should remember that he was appointed to protect the rights of the Sikhs and not to negate their identity, which was causing insecurity among the community”.

Mr Charanjit Singh Chadda, president, Chief Khalsa Diwan, too, castigated the NMC member for his alleged irresponsible statements that amounted to erasing the distinct identity of Sikhs and called for his removal from the post.


Irregularity in MC contract alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Alleging irregularity of Rs 1.20 crores in the Municipal Corporation here, Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress vice-president Gagan Bhatia, demanded a high-level or judicial probe at a press conference here today.

Mr Bhatia alleged that the MC gave contract for the maintenance of streetlights in the city to three companies Linko Electrical Flower decorations, Karachi Engineers and Tarn Taran Electric Company against rules. They did not fulfil conditions given in the tender. He alleged the corporation authorities issued work orders of Rs 1.79 crore, more than the amount decided by the corporation.

He further alleged even the extension was granted to these companies in violations of norms, which led to loss to the corporation of Rs 35 lakh. The youth Congress will bring the matter to the knowledge of the Chief Minister and seek action.

Mr Kulbir Singh Kang, commissioner, MC rubbished the allegations. The contract was given as per rules through the Finance and Contract Committee of the corporation and all payments were audited before clearing the bills. He said certain people go to the Press with ulterior motives. Some people were trying to tarnish the image of the government and the corporation. He was ready to face any probe, he said.


Sangrur MC passes annual budget
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
The local Municipal Council (MC) passed its annual budget of about Rs 10.83 crore for the financial year 2006-07 at its meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Parminder Bajaj, acting president of the MC, here today. The budget was passed for Rs 6.58 crore for the 2005-06 financial year.

The Council has shown proposed income of Rs 10,82,82000 crore during 2006-07 from various sources, including Rs 4.04 crore from octroi, Rs 3.50 crore from the sale of property, Rs 1.20 crore from water supply and sewerage charges, Rs 80 lakh from fire brigade contribution by other MCs, Rs 30 lakh from excise duty, Rs 30 lakh from house tax collection and Rs 25 lakh from octroi collection from the Punjab State Electricity Board.

The Council has also shown proposed expenditure of Rs 10, 82,42000 during 2006-07 on various items, including Rs 3.20 crore on salaries of the staff, Rs 4.22 crore on non-committed development works, like construction of roads, slum development, street lighting, new municipal office, Rs 3.20 crore on committed development works, like payment of electricity bills, maintenance of street lighting and water supply, return of HUDCO and LIC loans, and Rs 49 lakh on contingency.

Talking to The Tribune after the budget meeting here today, Mr Jatinder Kalra, group leader of the BJP Municipal Councillors, termed some proposals of the budget as "fake" and "misleading" by saying that as the state government had already announced the abolition of octroi by May 31 how the Council would earn Rs 4.04 crore from octroi and meet the proposed development expenditures during 2006-07.

Besides, how the Council would earn Rs 3.50 crore from the sale of property when the local Improvement Trust was not "ready" to purchase the old Truck Union site. Under these circumstances, the salaries of the staff i.e. Rs 3.20 crore and expenditure of Rs 3.20 crore on committed development works could only be met. So this budget was "misleading".


Tainted BPEO back, teachers protest
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 20
Primary teachers of Gurdaspur block today organised a dharna in front of the office of the District Education Officer (DEO), Elementary, Gurdaspur, to protest against the reinstatement of tainted Block Primary Education Officer (BPEO).

The BPEO was recently shifted from the block after she was accused of swindling the amount collected illegally from a private recognised school falling within her jurisdiction. However, just a month later, she has been posted back in the same position and this has peeved the teachers who brought the scam to light.

Addressing the dharna, the protesters alleged that the Congress government had maintained that it had cracked down against corruption. However, the way tainted officers were coming back to their coveted positions, it seemed that the Congress government had gone the SAD way. The teachers also threatened to intensify their agitation in case the accused BPEO was not shifted.

The District Education Department authorities have been allegedly swindling the amounts collected from recognised schools in the district. All recognised private schools in the district are depositing Rs 10 per student per annum with the respective BPEOs.

Most of the schools are also being issued receipts of the amount paid by them to the BPEOs. The Tribune has in its possession photocopies of many such receipts issued by the BPEO of Gurdaspur. The receipts that contain the stamp and signature of the BPEO have been issued on a simple paper. They indicate the amount paid by the school but not the purpose or fund for which it has been collected.

Highly placed sources said the entire amount collected from the private recognised schools was not deposited anywhere with the government or the District Education authorities but it was allegedly swindled by the officials concerned.

The swindling of amounts collected from private recognised schools has been going on for a long time. In 1998 an account was opened by the District Education authorities in the Bank of India to deposit the amount collected from private recognised schools. However, only the one-time fee collected from the school at the time of recognition is deposited in the account.

The rest of the amount is collected annually from the schools is not deposited anywhere and is swindled by authorities concerned.

The authorities, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was no guideline under which they could charge Rs 10 per student from a private recognised school. Even if the amount is collected it should either be deposited in the government Treasury or with the District Education Officer.

There are 22 primary education blocks in Gurdaspur district. Hundreds of recognised private schools are running under these blocks. Lakhs of rupees were being collected by the District Education authorities at the rate of Rs 10 per student by the BPEOs from the said school.

However, that entire amount was being swindled.

If an inquiry is conducted into the matter it could turn out to be another scam in the department of education at Gurdaspur. Already, the district administration is finding it hard to find the records of about Rs 18 crore spent under the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan in the district.


DC comes to rescue of mentally challenged man
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 20
Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar today came to the rescue of another mentally challenged man Pipal Singh, hailing from Koharwala village of Ferozepore district, and got him admitted to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital.

Family members of Pipal Singh told Mr Shekhar that he became mentally ill after his sister-in-law and parents passed away in quick succession. They said he would abuse villagers and even pelt stones at them on being left free. They had no option but to keep him chained. They said they could not afford his treatment due to their poor financial condition. His brothers worked as daily wagers to eke out their living.

They said that earlier they used to tie him up while leaving for work, but when his condition deteriorated, they chained him permanently.

Following media reports, the Deputy Commissioner had asked the Red Cross secretary to take stock of his condition and submit a report to him. Mr Shekhar then decided to extend medical aid to Pipal Singh and brought him here. He said the entire expenses of his treatment would be borne by the Red Cross.


Kin of deceased accuse doctor of negligence
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
Even as the police has registered a criminal case against Dr Neena Gupta, who runs a private nursing home here, for allegedly causing death to Devinder Kaur due to negligence, dozens of kin of the deceased vandalised the nursing home and staged a dharna in front of it.

Though Devinder Kaur died in a Mohali-based multi-speciality hospital today after she had been shifted there from the local Nitin Nursing Home about a week ago, her condition allegedly deteriorated after she had been transfused blood at the local nursing home before operating upon her for removal of a tumor.

Mr Inder Preet Sharma, in charge, Model Town, police post, said a case under section 304-A of the IPC had been registered against Dr Neena Gupta on a complaint lodged by the kin of the deceased. He said action in this connection would be taken after the receipt of the post-mortem examination report. He had also received a complaint from the nursing home management against the kin, who allegedly caused damage to it, he added.

Mr Manmohan Singh Chadha, brother-in-law of the deceased, told Chandigarh Tribune that the condition of Devinder got serious after she had been transfused blood around 10 am at the nursing home. Her legs became immobile and she started shivering. When her condition deteriorated, Dr Neena Gupta had been attending a function. The doctor reached the nursing home around 1.30 pm, he added.

He alleged that Devinder had been kept in the nursing home for 36 hours by the doctor after the blood transfusion, despite her deteriorating condition. Dr Gupta herself arranged for an ambulance for shifting Devinder to the other hospital. Owing to the negligence on part of the doctor, one of her kidneys got affected, he added.

He said today they went to the nursing home to lodge their protest with the doctor peacefully. Instead of allowing them to enter the nursing home, the guard, who was manning its entrance, started hitting them with a lathi.

Dr Neena Gupta claimed that Devinder was given the best treatment in the nursing home after some sort of reaction in the blood, which was transfused to him. The blood had been procured from the local blood bank. She alleged that a mob, including the kin of the deceased vandalised the nursing home and beat up its guard.

She claimed that when Devinder was being given blood, she was being attended by Dr Nitin Gupta. When the reaction due to blood transfusion took place, the process was stopped immediately and the patient was given treatment according to her condition.

When she returned to the nursing home from the conference and checked up the patient, Devinder was complaining of pain in her right leg, she added. The patient was kept under observation for 24 hours and her condition was normal. She was shifted to a the multi-speciality hospital in Mohali when the need arose. She said no negligence was used while treating the patient.

She said now they were living under fear.

Meanwhile, Dr D.S. Bhuller, secretary, IMA, Patiala, while condemning the attack on the nursing home by the mob, demanded that criminal case should be registered against them.


Staff burn Budget copies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
On a call given by the Punjab and UT Joint Action Committee, employees of various departments today assembled at the mini-secretariat complex and held a rally in protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands.

The employees, including women, took part in the protest in large numbers. They burnt the copies of the Budget for the next financial year.

The leaders, who addressed the rally, said despite commitments made in the manifesto four years ago and assurances during the past two years, the Finance Minister did not even grant a penny to the employees in the Budget.

They alleged that the minister had given the employees a step motherly treatment. The Congress government, after coming to power in the state, had reduced the percentage of commutation of pension and abolished thousands of posts.

It had started privatising various departments and adopted contractual system for employees. The Congress, in the manifesto, had promised to give higher time scale on completion of four, nine and 14 years’ of service on the pattern of PCS officers, DSP, engineers and doctors, but it had failed to provide group “D” employees with even uniforms for the past 10 years, the leaders said.


CM urged to raise age limit for docs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
The in-service doctors’ wing of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab, today urged the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to abolish the upper age limit of the doctors for appointments in rural dispensaries or at least 10 years’ relaxation be given as there had been no appointments of doctors in the state for the past eight years.

Dr D.S. Bhullar, chairman of the IMA (Punjab), said doctors should be appointed through the Punjab Public Service Commission only. Their minimum salary should be equal to the entry scale for the PCMS doctors. He urged the state government that separate budget should be provided for the Health Department for the salaries of those doctors.

Dr Bhullar said the administrative control of those doctors should be given to senior medical officers as there was a strong apprehension that there would be unwanted interference at the village level in the functioning of the health centres.


Society for holiday on Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 20
Mr Sukhwinder Singh Toni and Mr Anil Kumar Matharu, activists of Sankalap Society, yesterday started a hunger strike at the Old Adda, Mahilpur, in protest against the state government's decision to cancel the gazetted holiday on the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

The society is demanding a gazetted holiday on March 23. 2006.

A spokesman of the society said the strike would continue till March 23.

A function will also be organised in which Ms Bhupinder Kaur, niece of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All- India Anti-Terrorist Front, and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, will participate.


Labourer falls to death at NFL plant
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
A labourer died and four got injured when a mechanised winch erected by an epoxy-painting contractor failed while in operation at National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) plant here today.

Sources said five labourers were working on the winch that failed due to sharing of pinion leading to their fall from a substantial height. The deceased has been identified as Veerpal while the injured as Tejpal, Jagat, Narinder and Irfan. Most of them were migrant labourers.

Two of them belonged to Rampur in UP, while another was from Gajraula. The NFL authorities said a senior plant official had already been told to probe the matter and medical assistance had been extended to the injured.

Three injured have been admitted to a private hospital, while another was recuperating at the local Civil Hospital.

Earlier, a labourer, Mangu Singh of Siwian village, had died at the NFL plant while he reportedly fell down while cleaning a boiler on Saturday night.


Foundation holds health check-up camp
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
The local Umeed Khanna Foundation (UKF), a non-government organisation, today organised a community health check-up camp at Badrukhan village near here.

Ms Tessa Brewer, Mayoress of London, and Ms Nagindra Khanna, mother of Mr Arvind Khanna, chairman of the UKF and local MLA, were the guests at the camp.

More than 500 patients were examined for various ailments at the camp, which was inspected by Ms Tessa Brewer. Medicines were given free of cost to the patients.

Ms Tessa Brewer lauded the performance of the UKF in the villages of Sangrur and Mansa districts, praising it for extending medical assistance to the downtrodden, weaker sections and slum dwellers. 


Mock exercise at factory creates panic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
A mock exercise at the factory of Indian Acrylic Limited at Harkishanpura village on Sangrur-Patiala road, about 10 km from here, today created panic not only among the people of the nearby areas but also among the police as no prior information regarding the exercise was given to the police. The authorities as a result had to divert traffic towards Patiala and Sangrur through villages for about two hours.

It was learnt that the police received information from the factory that the temperature in the chemical tank area of the factory had increased, which might get hazardous any time. Due to this, the police started taking precautionary and safety measures by diverting the vehicular traffic and asking the people to remain away from the factory area. Fire brigade was also sent to the factory.


Two canals to remain closed

Chandigarh, March 20
An official spokesman of the Irrigation Department, Punjab, said today that the Rajasthan feeder, a canal, will remain closed for urgent repairs from April 1 to 20. The Abohar branch, another canal, will remain closed from April 1 to 10 for carrying out repairs at a bridge on it. — TNS


Hindu jatha from Pak

Amritsar, March 20
A 140-member Hindu jatha from Sindh, Pakistan, arrived in India via the Indo-Pakistan joint check post at Wagah today.

The jatha led by Nand Lal Setia of Shahdani Darbar that has ‘Gurgaddi’ in Raipur in India would visit Ujjain, Mathura, Delhi, Hardwar, parts of Maharashtra before returning to Pakistan on April 17. — OC


Power panel puts off hearing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has postponed to March 27 a public hearing ,which was to be held tomorrow, with regard to the reply of the Punjab State Electricity Board in connection with its( PSEB) annual revenue requirement.

The commission provides an opportunity to power consumers to raise objections to the proposals submitted to it by the PSEB in connection with its annual revenue requirement.


high court
Recruitment of constables: Punjab restrained
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the Punjab Government and the Punjab Police from finalising the process of selection of 675 constables for the proposed Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB).

Taking up the application filed by the petitioners - Mr Harjinder Kumar and others - the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice J.S. Narang and Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall directed the authorities not to finalise any selections in pursuance to the advertisement dated January 31, 2006.

The petitioners, who are at present working as Special Police Officers (SPOs) in Patiala and Sangrur districts for the past 15 years on a consolidated monthly salary, have challenged the recruitment process on the ground that by deciding to make all the selections through open recruitment, the authorities were denying them their rightful claim on the posts.

Seeking quashing of the advertisement through which applications had been invited for appointment as constables for the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), the petitioners have stated that instead of making fresh recruitment, they should be considered for posts as per the direction of the High Court in another matter.The High Court had, in its judgement dated November 28, 2002, provided for 50 per cent reservation for SPOs and home guard jawans in fresh recruitment.

They have also stated that while granting sanction to the raising of the IRB and recruitment of 657 constables, the government had also said that first preference must be provided to them if they fulfilled the physical norms.

However, now, they have stated that despite their writs being pending in the court, the authorities are going ahead with the recruitment process, with the physical verification test starting today.

Sometime back, the High Court had issued notice regarding stay to the respondent for April 6.

Govt claim questioned

The BJP MP from Amritsar, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, today questioned the claim of the Punjab Government vis-à-vis release of excise duty arrears to the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar.

In an affidavit filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Sidhu claimed that while the government had some days back submitted before the court that it had already released the entire amount of Rs 148 crore to all the civic bodies in Punjab, the annual budget of the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, presented on March 13, showed an arrears of Rs 19 crore due from the government.

Maintaining that the stand taken by the government is not borne from the documents of the MC, Amritsar, Mr Sidhu has prayed that in view of the contradiction, the civic body must be directed to disclose as to whether or not it has actually received the entire amount of arrears of excise duty.

He has also stated that while he wrote two letters to the Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, requesting him to clarify the position on payment of arrears, so far there has been no response.


Justice Dhaliwal made Lok Pal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Justice Daljit Singh Dhaliwal, a retired Judge of the Patna High Court, has been appointed the Lok Pal of Punjab.

An official spokesman said the notification regarding the appointment of Justice Dhaliwal had been issued by the Punjab Governor under the Punjab Lok Pal Act, 1996.


Farmers ‘arrested’ before holding protests
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
Hundreds of farmers who had converged in Barnala to participate in anti-government protests under the Jameen Bachao Morcha were arrested in the wee hours today, alleged BKU (Ekta) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan.

In a joint statement released here, union president Joginder Singh Ugraha and Mr Kokrikalan alleged that the police had sent hundreds of farmers to different jails, besides impounding 10 tractor-trailers containing langar, utensils and other items.

Terming the police action as “anti-democratic”, they alleged that the police conducted raids at various places and arrested farmer leaders in large numbers. They claimed that effigies of the state government were burnt in scores of villages across the state today.

The Congress government was giving undue advantage to the Trident group by displacing over 125 farmer families from their land, the leaders alleged, adding that the farmers raising their voice against this injustice were being thrown behind bars. They said they would oppose tooth and nail “anti-farmer policies” of the government, which was “serving the interests” of companies like Trident, Reliance and Pepsi.


Tight security foils BKU stir
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 20
Elaborate police arrangements in and around Barnala yesterday foiled Bharatiya Kisan Union's bid to begin an indefinite dharna in front of the SDM's office to protest against the Punjab Government's decision to acquire 376 acres in Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sanghera villages for setting up a sugar mill ,a paper mill and a textile unit.

The BKU (Ugrahan) had given a call for indefinite stir in front of the SDM's office. The police had made adequate arrangements to seal all entry points to the SDM's office in the local courts complex stopping BKU activists on the outskirts of Barnala.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan ,president, BKU (Ugrahan) Punjab, while talking to this correspondent here yesterday informed that the police did not allow BKU activists to enter Barnala where they organised protest rallies and blocked vehicular traffic for two hours.


Use technology to benefit farmers: expert
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
“Nano-technology is the science of future and US scientists are trying to find out new nano-material that could be imbedded in the sole of the shoes to walk on the walls.”

Observing this, Dr D.V.S. Jain, professor emeritus, Panjab University, said the biggest challenge before the scientists of Punjab was to develop new and green technologies for crop protection and food processing in the state.

Dr Jain was here to inaugurate a two-day National Symposium on New Challenges in Chemistry, organised by the Department of Chemistry of Guru Nanak Dev University. Dr Gurnam Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, presided over the inaugural session.


Thieves decamp with gold, cash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
In a daylight robbery, thieves struck at a Birla Mill Colony residence and decamped with gold jewellery and cash here today.

Sources said thieves gained access into house of Mr Surinder Kumar Aggarwal, a trader, and collected cash and valuables. Nobody was at home when robbery took place. While Mr Aggarwal was in his shop, his wife had been to her relatives.

When his son returned from examination, he heard some noises from inside and raised the alarm. But, the thieves fled as soon as his neighbours converged on the residence.

The exact details of losses were awaited till the filing of this report. The police has registered a case and launched a manhunt to nab the unidentified thieves.


Man kills step-mother, step-sister over property dispute
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, March 20
A 25-year-old married man allegedly threw his three-month-old stepsister on the floor to death after killing his stepmother Vanita in Joriana, here, this morning. He also allegedly made a murderous attempt on the younger sister of his stepmother.

Sandeep and his two accomplices managed to escape after the killing the two at his father Bhopal Singh’s house.

The cause of the murders is believed to be the property of Mr Bhopal Singh. Sandeep feared that he would have to share the property with his stepsibling(s), said police sources.

Mr Bhopal Singh, a property dealer, also works in a local factory here owns property worth crores of rupees. Sandeep is said to be at loggerheads with his father and stepmother ever since the marriage. His father Bhopal Singh had entered into a second marriage with Vanita (25) about three years ago.

Superintendent of Police Sultan Singh who visited the spot said the exact cause of the murder would be known only after the arrest of the accused persons. Shalini, who is admitted in a private hospital, was not in a position to narrate the sequence of events properly.

Police parties have been constituted to arrest the accused and team has also been dispatched to UP.


One held for molesting minor

Rajpura, March 20
The Ganaur police has arrested a 20-year-old youth—Anshuman—on the charge of outraging the modesty of a minor girl.

According to the police,the accused had taken the girl to Delhi a few days back and reportedly married her at a temple there.A search warrant was issued against the accused by the local SDM on March 18. A police party brought back the girl and the boy yesterday. TNS


526 students awarded degrees
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 20
The annual convocation of Government College was held here today. Dr A.K. Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, announced the convocation opened and degrees were conferred on 104 postgraduates and 422 graduates by Ms Paramjit Kaur Pasricha, Principal of the college.

Addressing the students, Dr Kidwai called upon the teaching community to equip the minds of students with the latest knowledge to meet the challenges of globalisation.

While lauding the role of Government College, Hoshiarpur, Dr Kidwai said Mr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, first remained student of this college and later became a lecturer of economics in the institution. Besides, the college had produced a number of students who had brought laurel to it by achieving distinctions in the Indian Administrative Service examinations and other fields.


Teachers oppose societies running medical, dental colleges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
Dr Baljeet Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, said today that formation of societies to run government medical and dental colleges in the state would be opposed.

The association will also boycott the societies if these came into being. The association had rejected the government move to set up the societies.

In a press note here, he said a decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the apex body of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association held yesterday.

Members of the association expressed concern at the move of the government. Association members resolved not to work with the societies because if the government could not run medical and dental colleges due to paucity of funds, wherefrom the funds would come.

The association also resolved the process of the registration of the societies should be stopped failing which the association would launch an agitation. Move to increase tuition fee and user charges to raise funds to run the societies was also decried.

This would make treatment and medical education out of the reach of common people.


History conference concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
The three-day Punjab History Conference, organised by the Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, ended with the conclusion of its 38th session on “Social stratifications in Punjab : politico cultural manifestations” here today.

The valedictory function of the conference was presided over by Dr Sadhu Charan Pandey, Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University of Culture, Bhubneswar, Orissa.

In the today’s session, 225 delegates were present and more than 100 research papers, including nine in ancient India section of the conference, 25 in the medieval section, 40 in the Punjabi section and 45 papers in the modern section, were presented.

Prof Harun from Islamabad University, Pakistan, read out his paper on terrorism in the world. Prof Rashid Hussain Rana from Islamabad University and Prof Akhtar of former Christian College, University, Lahore, also shared their views.

In the concluding remarks, Dr Shrimali said he had not seen such a disciplined organisation, such as the Punjab Historical Conference. He said the proceedings of the sessions of the conference could be compared with those of the Indian History Congress, which was a prestigious institution of the country.

Dr D.S. Dhillon and Prof B.D. Yadav gave a detailed observation about the research papers.

Dr Sukhdial Singh presented a vote of thanks. Dr Navtej Singh, Head of the Department and director of the conference, thanked the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar and other administrative staff for cooperating in organising the conference.

Earlier, in the Sita Ram Kohli Memorial Lecture, Prof S. Bhattacharya, former Vice-Chancellor, Vishwa Bharti University, Shanti Niketan, West Bengal, said the colonial ideology and colonial historiographers had justified the British rule in India.

Prof G.S. Dhillon, while delivering the presidential address in the Punjabi section of the conference, highlighted the classification of society in Punjab and the Sikh ideology. Addressing the ancient section, Prof Karamtej Singh Sarao said narrated the stories of Jatakas, which revolved around Taksila, the most important centre of education.

In the medieval section, Prof Azizuddin Hussain from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, spoke about the Sufis of Punjab and also highlighted the various factions of the Sufis. Prof B.D.Yadav presided over the modern section and shared his observations on some major historical writings on the socio-culture aspects of Punjab since the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849. 


Engg institute opens collegiate club
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 20
The Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology (CIET) inaugurated its collegiate club under the aegis of the Society of Automotive Engineers (International), Northern India Section, on its campus here today.

Inaugurating the club, Mr A.D. Sindwani, Consultant, Northern India Section of the SAE (International) said the SAE (India) was a member of the SAE (International) and its membership represented practically every engineering and scientific discipline. It was a worldwide information resource for everyone involved in design and manufacture of all types of vehicles and components — passenger cars, trucks, farm and construction equipment, aeroplanes and spacecraft.

“Information and ideas for advancing the engineering of mobility systems are shared by these members. The technical committees under SAE write more new aerospace and automotive engineering standards than any other standard writing organisation in the world,” he added.

The institute has thus become a member of the most prominent technical institutes like IITs, in North India. SAE is an international body with headquarters in the US and its membership is spread over 83,000 engineers, business executives, educators and students from more than 97 countries.

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