SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

           J A L A N D H A R

Admn pays Rs 24.31 lakh to MC as house tax
Jalandhar, March 24
The district administration has paid an amount of Rs 24.31 lakh to the Municipal Corporation (MC) on account of house tax that was due from it for the past six years for housing offices of various departments in the District Administrative Complex.

Three held in jeweller’s murder case
Jalandhar, March 24
The police today claimed to have solved the murder case of a jeweller, Rakesh Kumar Luthra, who was allegedly attacked by three persons with sharp-edged weapons near Vaishno Devi Temple in Khingra Gate area on March 20.

Khaira absent from Cooperative Bank general body meet
Kapurthala, March 24
Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, a senior Congress leader and director of the Kapurthala Central Co-operative Bank, was absent from the general body meeting of the bank here today.


EARLIER STORIES

 

Phagwara residents addicted to psychotropic drugs
Phagwara, March 24
The Phagwara administration’s “distress” over rising cases of drug addiction and the health authorities’ tall claims of “stock taking” of the problem notwithstanding, selling and buying of psychotropic drugs over the counter in the town continues unabated.

4 arrested for attack on mini-bus owner
Phagwara, March 24
The Phagwara police has arrested four persons, who had allegedly attacked a mini-bus owner, Harinder Singh, a resident of nearby Ranipur village, with sharp-edged weapons here on Thursday when he was on his way to Phagwara from Duggan village in his mini-bus.

News Analysis
Nakodar rally ‘unites’ faction-ridden Congress

Jalandhar, March 24
After a prolonged session of ‘local level’ discords, the Congress has seemingly emerged stronger and comparatively united in the aftermath of its March 22 Nakodar rally. The rally, perhaps for the first time after the year 2002, was not only a Congress affair sans any visible factionalism, but also one of the biggest shows of strength of the party in Doaba region of Punjab.

Sainik Bhawan at Padhiana gets Rs 3.85 lakh grant
Jalandhar, March 24
The District Sainik Board today approved a grant to the tune of Rs 3.85 lakh for completion of the building of Sainik Bhawan, being constructed at Padhiana village here.

43 ‘bonded labourers’ rescued
Kapurthala, March 24
The local administration ‘rescued’ fortythree ‘bonded labourers’ from a brick kiln at Randawa village near Subhanpur here yesterday evening. However, it has been learnt that so far no action has been taken against the alleged captors.

Woman found dumped in unconscious condition
Phagwara, March 24
Panic gripped the city when a 33-year-old woman was found lying in an unconscious condition on the main Phagwara-Jalandhar bypass on Thursday night. She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital by the passerby.

Govt decision flayed
Jalandhar, March 24
The All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation strongly denounced the decision of the Government of India to refer anomalies regarding teachers’ pay revision of January 1, 1996, to a committee of secretaries.


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Admn pays Rs 24.31 lakh to MC as house tax
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
The district administration has paid an amount of Rs 24.31 lakh to the Municipal Corporation (MC) on account of house tax that was due from it for the past six years for housing offices of various departments in the District Administrative Complex.

The payment was made by the administration after a notice was issued by the MC to individual departments in the complex in this regard on March 21.

The MC had asked the individual departments located in the complex to pay their share of house tax within three days from the receipt of the notice that ended yesterday. A bill to the tune of Rs 50,000 to a few lakhs for the period was issued to the heads of all offices.

Sources in the Municipal Corporation revealed that the notice was earlier sent to the administration, as it had failed to make the payment for a long time.

They said the administration had then replied to the MC to get payment from the individual departments, as it said that it was to further recover some dues from them.

The MC had then issued notice under Section 137 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation (PMC) Act, 1976, directing all departments to pay the outstanding amount in three days or else they would have to pay arrears from then on.

The departments were also told that in case the payment was not received, the recovery would be made by the sale of defaulter’s movable or immovable property.

The notice had surprised officials of all departments, as they said that they were never informed during the past five or six years that they were bound to make any payment of the sort.

The Deputy Commissioner, when asked today about the payment, replied, “We are to make the payment. The MC is to get it. Why is The Tribune worried about it?” Later, he called up claiming that a payment of Rs 24.31 lakh had been made by the administration.

Mr M.S. Kainth, ADC (General), said that the funds had come from the budgetary allocations.

When asked as to why the payment for the past few years could not be made earlier, he said, “That is history. I do not know about that.”

Mr Ved Vyas, Assistant Commissioner, MC, said that the corporation had adopted a perfect way to draw payment.

“We were told by the administration to recover payment from individual departments. So we sent notices to them,” he said.

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Three held in jeweller’s murder case
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
The police today claimed to have solved the murder case of a jeweller, Rakesh Kumar Luthra, who was allegedly attacked by three persons with sharp-edged weapons near Vaishno Devi Temple in Khingra Gate area on March 20.

Those arrested are Ashwini Kumar, alias Munna, a resident of Basti Nau, Achal Vinayak, alias Lucky, a resident of Harbans Nagar, and Gaurav Chawala, a resident of Model House. The DSP City II, Mr Harkamal Preet Singh Khakh, who led the investigations into the case, said the case had been registered under Sections 394, 307, 506, 34 of the IPC. Kumar’s nephew Rahul Luthra and Kiran, a resident of Khingra Gate, reportedly saw the assailants when they were fleeing from the spot on a scooter.

The SP City (I), Dr Surinder Kumar Kalia, said the three accused also looted cash and injured other two persons near Mithua Basti that night. 

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Khaira absent from Cooperative Bank general body meet
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 24
Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, a senior Congress leader and director of the Kapurthala Central Co-operative Bank, was absent from the general body meeting of the bank here today.

When the media persons asked Mr H.S. Parmar, the newly-elected Chairman of the bank, about the reason behind the absence of Mr Khaira, he claimed that the bank management had informed the directors about this meeting through the UPC letters.

However, Mr Khaira, when contacted, claimed that he had not received any such letter. He alleged that the office-bearers of the bank were elected in an unconstitutional way and were working like the directors of a private company.

Mr Khaira, in press conference here yesterday, had alleged that the elections of Mr Parmar, Managing Director Anoop Kalhan and other office-bearers were completed ten minutes prior to the scheduled time yesterday before his arrival at the election meeting.

Addressing a press conference, after attending the general body meeting of Central Cooperative Bank, Mr Parmar, Mr Kalhan and other office-bearers denied all allegations levelled by Mr Khaira.

They blamed Mr Khaira for reaching the venue of election ten minutes late when the election process was over.

Six directors owing allegiance to the Congress, who attended the meeting, lauded the role of Rana Gurjit Singh for “strengthening the party in villages also”.

Mr Parmar disclosed that the bank had earned a profit of more than Rs seven crore during the last year.

The shareholders of the bank had got 13 per cent dividend, informed the Chairman.

He also announced that the head office and the branches of the bank in the district would be fully computerised.

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Phagwara residents addicted to psychotropic drugs
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, March 24
The Phagwara administration’s “distress” over rising cases of drug addiction and the health authorities’ tall claims of “stock taking” of the problem notwithstanding, selling and buying of psychotropic drugs over the counter in the town continues unabated.

One doesn’t have to work too hard to buy the addictive drugs, cough syrups and injections here. The Tribune approached four chemists for an addictive cough syrup, a demand initially turned down by all four. A little persistence, an offer to pay more than the printed price made three of the four chemists say that the syrup was “presently out of stock and could be obtained if the customer had some time to spare”.

It took a few visits to three chemists in Model Town, Satnampura and Subhash Nagar to obtain addictive anti-allergic drugs, morphine injections and strong analgesic drugs. The drugs were obtained without prescription, at double the printed price.

A chemist in Satnampura told The Tribune, “Everyone knows these drugs are not to be sold without prescription, but our ‘patients’ come without slips. We have to provide them drugs for our livelihood. There is a perpetual risk, but raids are seldom conducted.”

Interestingly, most addictive drugs, including cough syrups and intravenous injections, sold by chemists in colonies and slums are not branded and are dubious in origin.

A cough syrup sold by a chemist, supposedly a substitute for a commonly-used cough syrup that assures a high, is being manufactured at neighbouring districts. This, however, has no effect on the price of the product.

Kapurthala Acting Civil Surgeon, Dr Arjun Singh Gill, said, “So far, nothing of this sort has been brought to my notice. If any complaints are lodged, we will look into the matter.”

“We conduct periodic checks across the town to see if the chemists are selling psychotropic drugs without prescription,” claimed Dr Gill.

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4 arrested for attack on mini-bus owner

Phagwara, March 24
The Phagwara police has arrested four persons, who had allegedly attacked a mini-bus owner, Harinder Singh, a resident of nearby Ranipur village, with sharp-edged weapons here on Thursday when he was on his way to Phagwara from Duggan village in his mini-bus.

Harinder Singh, who had been under treatment at the local Civil Hospital, said that when he was coming to Phagwara from Duggan village in his bus, the group encircled his bus and attacked him. When contacted, Rawalpindi police station SHO, Mr Rajwinder Singh, said the police had launched a search operation to nab the other accused. —TNS

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News Analysis 
Nakodar rally ‘unites’ faction-ridden Congress
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
After a prolonged session of ‘local level’ discords, the Congress has seemingly emerged stronger and comparatively united in the aftermath of its March 22 Nakodar rally. The rally, perhaps for the first time after the year 2002, was not only a Congress affair sans any visible factionalism, but also one of the biggest shows of strength of the party in Doaba region of Punjab.

Since it was the first face-to-face interaction of Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, with the people of Nakodar, the rally not only enthused the Congress workers of Doaba, but it also boosted the morale of the Punjab Revenue Minister, Mr Amarjit Samra, a three-time MLA from the constituency.

“It is encouraging that about 35,000 persons from all walks of life came to attend the event. I think it was one of the biggest shows of the party in Doaba,” said Mr Samra, the main architect of the rally.

Observers say Mr Samra’s zeal is not unfounded, particularly, as it was perhaps one of the rare shows of the Congress where factionalism was hard to detect.

Also, in this rally almost all of Jalandhar-based ministers, including Avtaar Singh Henry, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Mr Amarjit Samra and Gurkanwal Kaur, and MP Rana Gurjit Singh converged, shared the dais and showered praises on Captain Amarinder Singh in unison.

It’s an open secret that ministers and MLAs in Doaba have their ‘local level’ differences, which surface off and on. So much so, that till recently the ministers from Jalandhar had remained divided in two camps, led by two ‘strong’ ministers.

But all these signs of differences have seemingly evaporated, at least for the time being.

The unity show seemed to have been well-rehearsed. Earlier, it had become almost a ritual for supporters to chant the names of their own leaders during such rallies.

“After all, elections are approaching and we have to ‘go to’ people. If we show any differences, how will people vote for us the second time?” retorted a senior Congress leader.

Last but not least, the launching of Rs 16.99-crore safe drinking water and sewerage scheme, which was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, may give yet more political mileage to the ruling party.

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Sainik Bhawan at Padhiana gets Rs 3.85 lakh grant
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
The District Sainik Board today approved a grant to the tune of Rs 3.85 lakh for completion of the building of Sainik Bhawan, being constructed at Padhiana village here.

The bhawan had long been demanded by scores of ex-servicemen from the village, who had served the country during the First and Second World Wars. While an amount of Rs 8.5 lakh had already been spent on the construction of the building, the Executive Engineer of Panchayati Raj had prepared an estimate of Rs 3.85 lakh for the remaining work.

Mr Ajoy Sharma, ADC (Development), then sanctioned the requisite amount from the Punjab Government Nirman Funds, which was passed by the board during its quarterly meeting jointly chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Manmohan Singh, the President of District Sainik Board, and Deputy Director Sainik Welfare, and the Deputy Commissioner today.

During the meeting, the ex-servicemen, who are also members of the board, urged the Executive Engineer to complete the project soon. The members also demanded the commissioning of MI room at Sainik Bhawan Shahkot. They also asked for a provision of services of a medical officer thrice a week for the welfare of the army retirees from the area.

Discussion was also held over a proposal of the Ex-servicemen Welfare Union to construct a yoga ashram at Shahkot.

The unionists said that they had already raised funds worth Rs 12 lakh from the NRIs and local donations and that they wanted the DC to release a grant of Rs 2 lakh.

The members of the board also informed that the Improvement Trust, Jalandhar, had completed the installation of musical fountains in Punjab State War Memorial. However, they rued that these had not been formally inaugurated so far. The officials informed that an amount of Rs 3.25 lakh that the board had sanctioned out of District Small Saving Funds had also been used for improving water supply system for lawns, arboriculture works and the work in the “Hall of Fame”.

The members raised the issue of financial distress that a large number of ex-servicemen and widows were facing owing to stoppage of pension by the DPDO due to their non-identification and the lack of information in this regard. The officials informed that the old identification cards would be used this year again. The members also lamented that they were facing problems of dental treatment. “When the army officials were told about this, they replied that they were in the process of getting a dental chair,” the members rued.

During the meeting, the officials of the District Sainik Welfare Department displayed two trophies that they had received from the Governor during the recent state sainik meeting for being able to collect maximum contribution of Rs 15.17 lakh on the occasion of the Armed Forces Flag Day among all districts.

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43 ‘bonded labourers’ rescued
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 24
The local administration ‘rescued’ fortythree ‘bonded labourers’ from a brick kiln at Randawa village near Subhanpur here yesterday evening. However, it has been learnt that so far no action has been taken against the alleged captors.

SDM A.K. Sikka, while talking to The Tribune, said when he and other officials visited the kiln, the labourers and their families, including children, present at the kiln complained against the kiln owners. Their allegations included non-payment of wages and coercion to work, informed Mr Sikka.

There were counter allegations from the side of owners, who said they had made the payments to the labourers in advance and now the latter were refusing to work on their kiln, said the SDM, adding that the owners could not prove their claim.

The labourers were later sent back to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, as per their demand.

Meanwhile, Mr Samir Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, will convene a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue, it was learnt.

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Woman found dumped in unconscious condition
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, March 24
Panic gripped the city when a 33-year-old woman was found lying in an unconscious condition on the main Phagwara-Jalandhar bypass on Thursday night. She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital by the passerby.

According to sources, she was identified as Rajwant Kaur, a resident Haripura locality of Amritsar.

It may be mentioned here that the body of an unidentified woman was found at the same spot a few months back. Three bodies of unidentified persons were also found dumped here. The local police is still clueless about these incidents.

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Govt decision flayed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 24
The All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation strongly denounced the decision of the Government of India to refer anomalies regarding teachers’ pay revision of January 1, 1996, to a committee of secretaries.

Stating this, Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary, said the federation members had decided to organise black flag demonstrations and nation-wide protests against the decision.

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