P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


India, Pak exchange 57 prisoners
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
As many as 57 prisoners — 38 Pakistani and 19 Indian — were repatriated to their native countries at the Wagah joint checkpost today after serving their imprisonment in various jails of India and Pakistan.

The 19 Indian include eight Punjabi youths who were duped by fake travel agents in search of greener pastures to western countries and landed in Pakistan jails. Various BSF officials, besides the district administrative authorities, including Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM, welcomed them, while Major Faizal of the Pakistan Sutlej Rangers received the Pakistan prisoners, including 16 from Amritsar Central Jail, 15 from Jammu and Kashmir jail, four from Rajasthan and one each from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi jails.

Malkit Singh, a resident of Hoshiarpur, who was released by the Pakistan authorities, said he was defrauded by travel agents who promised him a good job in Greece. He said he was caught in Turkey while going to Greece illegally along with several other persons. He said their passports were snatched and they were thrown in Iran’s territory that further pushed them to Pakistan.

Abdul Rashid of Shahiwal (Pakistan) said he had entered India inadvertently when he had gone to Kasur to meet his friend. He said he was sent to five years' imprisonment. He learnt the Punjabi language during his stay in Bathinda jail.

Speaking to media persons, Zulfakar, a resident of Ghawindi (Lahore), expressed his happiness on returning to his home country. He said he had a departmental store and his village was near the Indo-Pak border, just opposite to Khalra village on Indian side. He said he entered the Indian territory in an intoxicated condition. He alleged that Border Security Force jawans caught him and later fabricated a false case of smuggling against him. He said the court sent him to nine months' imprisonment. He said about 31 Pakistani prisoners were still in Amritsar jail.

Muhammad Yunas of Quetta said his father came to India about 16 years back and married here and did not return home. He said he wanted to meet his father and, therefore, decided to sneak into Indian side without any valid documents. He was nabbed by the BSF during his attempt. He said the Indian court sent him to jail for a week but he was returning to Pakistan after one and a half year.

Shehzad (17) of Faislabad said he entered India after a conflict with his parents and he would now apologise to his parents after returning home after two and a half years.

Abdul Nasar, who was released from Jammu jail, urged the governments of two countries to keep the prisoners of two countries who inadvertently crossed to neighbouring country, in open jails and provide proper medical treatment to ill prisoners.


Liberate Akal Takht from vested interests
Badal tried to influence two jathedars against Tohra,
says Bhai Ranjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, today claimed that Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, then Jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, tried to act as ‘conduit’ of Mr Parkash Singh Badal for declaring Jathedar Gurcharn Singh Tohra “Tankhaiya” (guilty of religious misconduct) allegedly for visiting Nirankari Bhavan, Patiala, during elections when the case came up for hearing in 1998.

Talking to The Tribune, here today, the former jathedar alleged when he (Bhai Ranjit Singh) found the complaint of Capt Amarinder Singh against Jathedar Tohra ‘baseless’, both the high priests (Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh) wanted that he (Bhai Ranjit Singh) should speak to Mr Badal first before giving a clean chit to the then SGPC chief (Jathedar Tohra). ‘I had refused to accept the advice of colleagues-both the jathedars and told them that they could give a dissenting note if they did not agree to the decision’. However, ultimately, both jathedars signed on the decision issued later on the letterhead of Akal Takht.’

Bhai Ranjit Singh said it was most unfortunate that the SAD chief tried to influence the tradition of ‘Panch Pradhani’, in force since Guru’s period. He said if the SGPC or any other Sikh institution wanted to celebrate 400th installation anniversary of Akal Takht, they must endeavour to strengthen this age-old institution for the ‘high spirits’ of the community. He said denigration of Akal Takht by those who were supposed to safeguard the Sikh interests and corruption which crept into the institution of jathedars had lowered its status all over the world.

Addressing reporters here on February 5, 1999, Giani Kewal Singh had stated on record that “he too was responsible for some wrong decisions taken by the Sikh clergy, to which he was one of the signatories…. One such mistake was the bailing out of SGPC president, Gurcharan Singh Tohra. The second was the “Hukamnama” on an important Panthic issue which virtually divided NRI Sikhs”. The meeting held on June 25, 1998 however, freed Mr Tohra of the charges.

Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that the SAD (Badal) always wanted to use Akal Takht for personal agenda like promoting family and settling scores with political rivals.

Claiming that he still was Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh said he would assume his duties at an appropriate time. He called upon the Sikh masses to ‘liberate Akal Takht’ from those who wanted to use it for vested interests.

Quoting from ‘Gurbani’, Bhai Ranjit Singh said the Sikhs had passed through bad days when Akal Takht was ‘weakened’ or its authority was ‘misused’. “Had Maharaja Ranjit Singh, selected his successor through Akal Takht, the Sikh rule would have never declined. Bhai Ranjit Singh said Mr Badal should learn from history and let Akal Takht, supreme temporal authority of the Sikhs, work independently.

The former jathedar alleged glory of Akal Takht had witnessed upward trend which could not be tolerated by the SAD (Badal) and even then SGPC chief Tohra in an oblique reference to an edict had pointed out that he (Bhai Ranjit Singh) should have consulted him (Tohra) before issuing such an edict. He alleged attempts were made to distort the concept of ‘Miri-Piri’. So much so an official magazine of the SGPC had published an article, reversing the age-old concept of ‘Miri-Piri’.


Summon Darshan Singh to Takht, say SGPC members
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
Akal Takht is contemplating to summon Prof Darshan Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, on the basis of his controversial speech, delivered by him at a function held to mark the quadricentennial of the foundation of Tarn Taran on June 16.

The ground is being prepared to charge the former Jathedar with allegedly giving a “clean chit” to Congress for ordering “Operation Bluestar”. In an oblique reference to the BJP, Prof Darshan had stated that the main culprit for the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev was Dewan Chandu, who had incited the then Mughal Emperor to torture the Guru.

In a written statement, issued on the official letterhead of the shiromani committee, at least eight SGPC members today urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, to summon Prof Darshan Singh, for allegedly absolving the Congress from the charges of “Operation Bluestar”.

The SGPC members, in a joint press note, alleged that Prof Darshan Singh’s volte-face on the role of the Congress for ordering the Army operation had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh masses.

They alleged that the former Jathedar had committed a “big sin” by eulogising the Congress. The SGPC members urged Jathedar Vedanti to pronounce religious punishment to Prof Darshan Singh by summoning him to Akal Takht.

Interestingly, the demand has been raised when Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD supremo, the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh, and others Sikh leaders were present in the city to celebrate quadricentennial of the foundation of Akal Takht.


Religion, politics can go together in Sikhism: Badal
Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said religion and politics could go together in Sikhism. He said the concept of “miri-piri” had been a guiding force for the community

Mr Badal the concept had been prevalent in ancient times as mentioned in various Hindu scriptures.

Mr Badal was here to deliver presidential address at a seminar organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to mark the quadricentennial function of the foundation of Akal Takht today.

Accusing the Congress for allegedly interfering in the internal matters of the Sikhs, Mr Badal said whoever had tried to question the sovereignty of Akal Takht had to face the consequences. Mr Badal said various governments, which had ruled the state, had failed to learn lesson from the mistakes of past. He said there was need for all Panthic forces to unite so that the attack of the enemy from outside the country could be repulsed.

Almost all Sikh intellectuals expressed their concern over the denigration of Akal Takht by certain “anti-Sikh” forces.

Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti addressing the participants called upon the Sikh masses to defeat the nefarious designs of anti-Panthic forces, who were out to denigrate and challenge the authority of Akal Takht.

Earlier presenting his paper, Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, Khalsa College, said there were demands for separate committee firstly by Pakistani Sikhs and now by Sikhs in Haryana. He said Sir Malcolm Hailey while passing the Gurdwara Act, 1925, had remarked: “Why delay the Bill and let the government share the blame. Give it to them and also their gurdwaras. They will then quarrel among themselves. The government will be free to do something else.” He urged the SGPC to take remedial measures to keep the Panthic forces united.

Jathedar Trilochan Singh, Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Jathedar Balwant Singh, Takht Sri Talwandi Sabo, Jathedar Iqbal Singh, Takht Sri Patna Sahib and Jathedar Joginder Singh Takht Sri Hajoor Sahib, Kirpal Singh Badungar and Harnam Singh Dhumma were among those present on the occasion.


Centenary celebrations a low-key affair
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The first day of the three-day celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Akal Takht Sahib remained a low-key affair. The SGPC and the Shiromani Akali Dal failed to mobilise the Sikh masses for the occasion.

The seriousness shown by the SGPC to celebrate the mega event could be judged from the fact that its president Avtar Singh arrived from abroad today. Senior functionaries of the SGPC too were away to foreign countries on the pretext of mobilising Sikhs there.

Interestingly, when Mr Badal arrived at Harmander Sahib early in the morning, only a few members of his party were present. When he reached the Akal Takht for the bhog of “akhand path”, except for Akal Takht Jathedar there was nobody from the SGPC present to mark the ceremony.

Unlike previous centenaries, the local public is indifferent towards the celebrations. Even Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedars of Akal Takht and Damdama Sahib, respectively, were found taking nap during a seminar held to mark the occasion at Khalsa College here today.


Morinda bypass informally thrown open to traffic
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Morinda, June 30
Unable to get the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to inaugurate the much-touted Morinda bypass on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road, the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) has thrown the bypass open to the public, providing much relief to commuters on this segment as they have waited for years at the Morinda railway crossing for this facility. The bypass, that was informally opened over a week ago, will be formally inaugurated once the Chief Minister finds the time to do so.

Initially, the PWD was trying to tie up with the Railway authorities for the inauguration of the Chandigarh-Morinda railway line that passes under the overbridge on this bypass. But since several issues pertaining to technical clearances had cropped up and delayed the opening of the rail line, the bypass has now been opened. However, since not may people are aware about the current status of the bypass, they continue to drive on the old route, making the traffic flow on the bypass scant.

The opening of the bypass will reduce the travel time between Chandigarh and Ludhiana by at least half an hour, not so much on account of the distance, but due to the time spent at the level-crossing.

The opening of the bypass had been delayed for over a year due of the non-completion of the overbridge by the Railways. This Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) project was then handed over to the PWD for the construction of this bypass.

The 6.75-km-long stretch of the four-lane bypass has been constructed at a cost of about Rs 18 crore. Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, MLA from Morinda, has expressed satisfaction at quality of construction, but said, ‘‘The project could have been completed at least a year earlier’’. Under the original plan, the bridge was to be completed by January,2005. As the construction company failed to meet the deadline, the PIDB issued notice to the contractor and imposed a penalty to the tune of Rs 70 lakh.

Local residents, however, say that the purpose of the bypass is defeated as there is another level-crossing on the new bypass. A senior PWD official said, ‘‘Another overbridge is needed to make the bypass obstruction-free’’. However, Railway officials say that since the Chandigarh-Morinda rail line will witness scant traffic, there is no urgent need to construct such an overbridge.


Concrete paving: tender allotted to higher bidder
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 30
The rates at which the Pathankot Municipal Council and Improvement Trust have been paving of floors carrying out has raised eyebrows.

After the Punjab Nirman Funds were released by the government over Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for concrete paving within the municipal limits of Pathankot. It includes Rs 80 lakh released to the Municipal Council of which 70 per cent has been spent on concrete flooring and Rs 1.03 given crore given to the Improvement Trust.

Due to differences between president of the Pathankot Municipal Council Shrawan Kumar and local MLA Ashok Sharma council authorities allowed competition in calling tenders for concrete flooring carried by it. Due to it tenders were allotted at rates ranging from 200 per cent to 100 per cent lower than the Punjab CSR rates.

The CSR rates for concrete flooring are Rs 2000 per cubic metre.

However, due to competition between contractors the Municipal Council got concrete flooring done at rates of Rs 1200 per cubic metre. The Improvement Trust, Pathankot, however, has allocated tenders for concrete flooring in the Municipal Council areas at full rates Rs 2000 per cubic metre.

The engineer executing the works at the Improvement Trust, Mr Saini, when contacted said though the tenders had been allotted they would resort to post-tender negotiations for getting the rates lowered.

He, however, admitted the rates could come down at the most by 10 per cent. It means the Improvement Trust would get the concrete flooring executed at a rate of at least Rs 1900 per cubic metre whereas the council got the same work executed at just Rs 1200 per cubic metre.

The Trust authorities as stated by Mr Saini were planning post-tender negotiations.

However, post-tender negotiations were against the directions issued by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). Mr Saini when asked if they were violating the recommendations of the CVC, 
said that it was a general practice followed in the Local Government departments.

Mr Shrawan Kumar, when contacted, admitted the council had got the concrete flooring work executed a rate of Rs 1200 per cubic metre.

The Municipal Council and the Improvement Trust authorities are also at loggerheads over the execution of concrete flooring at the old dispensary near Gandhi crossing area.

The council after calling tenders had allotted the work for the dismantling the dispensary and concrete flooring at the site to a contractor at Rs 10 lakh. The contractor has already dismantled the structure. However, the Improvement Trust has tendered the work of concrete flooring at the same site to some other contractor.

With both organizations wanting to get the work executed through their own contractors the matter is likely to get embroiled in litigation.


Ex-CMO surrenders in court
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 30
Dr V.P. Goyal, a former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Malerkotla Civil Hospital, today surrendered in a court here in connection with a case registered against him under Section 304-A of the IPC by the police yesterday. The case was registered against Dr Goyal in connection with the death of Muslim woman Akbari, who was operated on for hysterectomy on June 10 by Dr Goyal. Akbari died on June 14 at the PGI, Chandigarh.

On his surrender he (Dr Goyal) was taken in the custody of the court. After that a notice was issued to the prosecution to call the Malerkotla SHO with record to know whether any offence has been added in the case after the registration of the FIR against Dr Goyal. The record was produced by SHO Sukhdev Singh and the investigating officer (IO) Harbans Singh.

In the record it was shown that the alleged accused was booked under Section 304-A of the IPC, which was a bailable offence. To ensure proper investigation by the police the court handed over the custody of the alleged accused to the IO on his request with the direction to proceed with the law.

SHO Sukhdev Singh, said Dr Goyal had been released on bail following court orders. He said a three-member committee had been constituted to look into this case and after the completion of the inquiry, proceedings would be initiated.

In his application, filed today by Dr Goyal in the court with regard to his surrender and release on bail in the case, he has stated that one Akbari (40) was operated on for hysterectomy by him on June 10 and after the operation it was detected that the patient was suffering from disseminated intra-vascular coagulation for which the patient was referred to the CMC, Ludhiana, from there she was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. The patient was moved to the CMC as well as the PGI by the relatives of the patient. The patient, however, expired on June 14 in the PGI. During treatment at the CMC and the PGI no fault of the doctor (Goyal) was found. After a few days of the death of the patient, complainant party on the instigation of the political persons started putting pressure on him to give them Rs 3.5 lakh.

In his application, Dr Goyal has also alleged that on June 29 the complainant party collected thousands of persons and raided his house and threw bricks. Window panes and doors of his house were broken. The mob tried to burn his house and his family members, including him. But the police remained a mute spectator there.


Dhindsa counters ministers’ statement on Reliance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said that the agreement signed by the Amarinder Singh government with Reliance Industries is one of the corrupt deals of the present regime that will be immediately reviewed when SAD gets a chance to form the government in the state. The party alleged that Reliance was behind the scuttling of the Bathinda oil refinery.

The SAD Secretary General, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said here today that the agreement with Reliance was a cover for a massive real estate fraud and, if implemented, would virtually mean a death warrant for the farmers and the traders of the state.

“It would guarantee unchallenged monopoly to the company both in purchase of the farmers’ produce at arbitrary prices and in discretionary retail sale prices of the finished goods,” he said.

“The only beneficiary in the whole deal would be Reliance Industries which would effectively kill the potential for competitive sale of farmers’ produce and eliminate the century old institution of ahrtiyas. (commission agents)”, said Mr Dhindsa, ridiculing the statement of eight ministers of the Amarinder Singh government who criticised Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal’s earlier statement against the Chief Minister on the issue.

“Every time, an Akali leader says something, the Congress needs at least eight to ten ministers to reply to it. If they were right, one would be enough,” he said.

Mr Dhindsa said that the agreement with Reliance was lose-lose proposition for Punjab as the company had been given unprecedented and unimaginable benefits and concessions without any reciprocal commitment.


SAD office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today appointed Jathedar Mohinder Singh Hussainpur as the President of the Nawanshahr unit of the party and Ludhiana based lawyer, Mr Harish Kumar Dhanda, as the President of the legal cell of the party.

According to party secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Jathedar Hussainpur was elected twice as a member of the SGPC from Balachaur constituency and has also been an executive member of the SGPC.

Similarly, he said that Mr Harish Kumar Dhanda was the Chairman of the Punjab and Haryana Bar council and has been the president of the Ludhiana Bar Council seven times.


PPCC general secretary fails to turn up for hearing
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 30
Mr Jaspinder Singh Jakhar, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, did not turn up for recording his statement before the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Tiwari, though he had sought a week’s time on Thursday last.

No communication was received on his behalf for the absence. Sources close to him said that Mr Jakhar was upset over the decision of Mr Vishawajit Khanna, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, who had reportedly quashed Mr Jakhar’s election as Director of the Punjab State Cooperative Bank Ltd.

Mr Rajinder Singh Brar who had served as Director from this zone for several years had challenged the election.

Mr Tiwari, while taking up the complaint lodged by Ms Rajwinder Kaur, Headmistress of Singh Sabha Kanya Pathshala challenging her suspension by the managing committee headed by Mr Jakhar recorded statements of different persons for three hours, sources said.

According to available information Mr Raminder Singh Hayer, a member of the school managing committee, reportedly deposed that Mr Jakhar had misled him while getting the proceedings book signed. He along with other members did not approve the action taken by Mr Jakhar against the Headmistress. They lamented that no individual could be permitted to run the school.

The Superintendent from the District Education Office also appeared before the ADC. He reportedly described the action of the faction headed by Mr Jakhar as illegal. The managing committee had no power to suspend the Headmistress without the prior permission of the department, he said.


Drug addiction report blames government
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The report on drug addiction in Punjab, prepared by Dr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Professor, Department of Sociology, Guru Nanak Dev University, on the directions of the state Governor, Lt-Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), has called for reviewing the existing excise policy with a view to save the youth.

The report, “Drug Addiction in Punjab: A Sociological Study”, suggested that the candidates, seeking elections to the state legislative Assembly or Parliament or any other elected body, be declared ineligible if found distributing drugs while campaigning.

The report reads, “The state excise policy is liberal through which it is getting more than Rs 1,600 crore per year, which is a major source of income for the state. There were 5,600 liquor vends in the state in 2005-06, however, the government has opened more than 8,000 vends this year to make liquor available to the people at their doorsteps. This needs some pondering over”.

The report called for waging a war against the menace of drug addiction, which is spreading like cancer and eating away vital component of human resources in the state.

On the existing smuggler-police-politician nexus, the report stated that drug trafficking was on the rise in spite of government’s actions. According to a senior police officer of the state, political protection to smugglers and political interference in the working of the police acts as a major barrier in acting against drug smugglers”.

More than 73 per cent of drug addicts belong to the age group 16-35 years, thus corroding a very vital component of human resource in the state.


Campaign against drug abuse launched
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 30
The district administration today launched a campaign to spread awareness among the youth about drug abuse by involving youths clubs and Department of Theatre and Television, Punjabi University, Patiala.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Sekhar, said we had 215 registered and 231 non-registered youth clubs involved in spreading awareness against drug abuse. Besides, the Department of Theatre and Television, would perform play “Miti Sunder Kare”, for the same purpose. Help from a religious body running a centre at Anandpur Sahib to help the youths to get rid of drugs had also been sought, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner also held a meeting with the advisory committee of youths at Nehru Yuva Centre in this regard. He also held a separate meeting with senior officials of the Education and Police Departments.


Youth’s body with disfigured face found
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 30
The body of a handicapped youth with badly disfigured face was found between the villages of Manuke and Rau Ke falling under Baghapurana police station in Moga district last night.

The right ear, the right eye, the nose and two front teeth were missing from the body of the handicapped youth, Lakshman Singh, a resident of Sukdaulat village under Jagraon police station in Ludhiana district, but had been living at his maternal grandfather’s house at Manuke village for past about two years.

While the damaged face of the body indicated some foul play behind the 20-year-old Lakshman’s death, the Baghapurana police claimed that he had committed suicide by consuming pesticide.

On the other hand, confirming that the several parts of the face were missing, Dr Vikramjeet Singh Dhillon, who conducted a post-mortem examination, told The Tribune that the viscera had been sent to Patiala for examination.

Interestingly, Baghapurana SHO Nachattar Singh has another story to tell. When contacted, he said that he had left Manuke village for Sukdaulat on his tricycle as he was unable to walk because his both legs were affected with polio.

The SHO said during the investigation, it was found that instead of reaching at his residence, he purchased some liquor and pesticides. He consumed pesticides after drinking to end his life as he was reportedly frustrated.

Surprisingly, he has his own explanation to the badly damaged face of the body. He said that some dogs might have devoured some parts of his body. However, the question arises why the dogs left the trunk and limps of the body and cut his right ear, right eye, nose and two front teeth.

Some of the villagers, on the condition of anonymity, said that Lakshman Singh had an affair with a girl and he had been eliminated by her relatives.

When asked, the SHO ruled out this possibility and said that Lakshman had not any affair as his both legs were affected with polio.

Interestingly, contrary to the doctor’s statement, he claimed the post-mortem report had confirmed that he had committed suicide and said that viscera had not been sent to Patiala for examination.


Hike in loans to MLAs on anvil
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The General Purpose Committee of the Vidhan Sabha, headed by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, has asked for a hike in the amount of loans that are available to MLAs.

If allowed, the MLAs in Punjab would be entitled to get larger amounts as loans for building houses, buying cars and getting repairs done in existing houses.

Functionaries of the government have asked for a detailed proposal to indicate the additional money that will be required to meet the demand.

Normally, a budgetary allocation is made for this purpose. In case, the demand of the General Purpose Committee, which has members of all parties, sends in a demand, a fresh allocation is sought. In all likelihood, the allocation will be made and it will entail an additional expenditure of nearly Rs 10 crore.

As per sources, an MLA is entitled to a loan of Rs 10 lakh for buying a house. The demand is to hike it to Rs 15 lakh. Similarly, the committee has suggested that the limit on car loans be increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh. Also, so far, the MLAs are not allowed any loan for the repair of their houses. The committee has asked that Rs 2 lakh be allowed for this purpose.

Besides the loans, the committee has demanded that the travelling expense of the MLAs be hiked from the existing Rs 6 per km to Rs 10 per km.


‘‘Custodial’’ death: probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 30
The Deputy Commissioner, Dr Arvinder Singh, has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of Rinku, son of Baiju, a resident of , Basti Shekhanwali, Ferozepore, during investigation in a theft case.

The death had sparked a violent protest that caused damage to the property inside the police station concerned. Officials on duty had asserted that Rinku had committed suicide but the public alleged that it was a case of custodial death.

Mr Bhupinder Singh SDM, Ferozepore, was today asked by the Deputy Commissioner to conduct the inquiry.

The SSP, Mr Arpit Shukla, has assured people that strict action would be taken against the guilty on the receipt of inquiry report.

Mr Shukla had already issued necessary instructions to all Station House Officers against using coercive measures against culprits during interrogation, official sources said.


Inquiry ordered into custodial deaths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Taking cognizance of news items published in a section of the Press about two alleged custodial deaths, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today ordered an magisterial inquiry into both cases and submit a detailed report within one week.

The inquiry shall look into the death of a youth in police custody in Ferozepore and the death of a newly born baby of a Dalit woman at Majitha because of alleged torture in police custody.

A spokesman of the Punjab Government said the ones guilty in these cases would not be spared.


SAD farmer wing flays PSEB
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Farmer wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal has criticised the Punjab State Electricity Board’s management for not providing eight-hour uninterrupted power to farmers during the ongoing paddy season.

In a press note, Satnam Singh Behru, president of the Punjab unit of the SAD (Kisan wing), said farmers were also peeved at the board’s management for not providing power connections for tubewells. Behru added that the board was also not repairing burnt transformers and claimed that the field staff behaved in a rude manner when farmers asked them to rectify faulty transformers.

Behru added that the board should increase the power generation to the agriculture sector to tide over the present power crisis during the paddy season.


Power relief for industries
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Scattered rains, which have swept the region over the past few days, have proved to be boon for the Punjab State Electricity Board authorities, who have decided to give relief to the industrial sector.

In a press note, Mr Y.S Ratra, board Chairman, said from today the general industry, which was earlier observing two weekly off days, would now observe one weekly off day.

Mr Ratra added that arc furnace consumers, who earlier were observing three weekly off days, would now observe just one weekly off day.

However, for induction furnaces, there would be three weekly off days applicable. Similarly, a four-hour cut on category-II industrial feeders would also continue till further instructions.


Bus fare hike notified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Punjab Government today issued a formal notification to marginally hike the present rate of bus fare by 3 paise per km from tomorrow.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesman of the Punjab Government said that now the bus fare rate would be 49 paise per km. Earlier it was 46 paise per km. The spokesman further said that this decision was taken due to the recent increase in fuel prices.


4 of family drowned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
Four members of a family, including three children, were drowned in Sultanwind canal here.

The incident came to light when the body of one the victims surfaced near Bohru village.

However, the divers were still looking for the other three till the filing of the report.

The four had been missing since June 28.

The deceased have been identified as Harpal Singh of Tarn Taran Road, his son Rup Singh (4) and two daughters Hardeep Kaur (6) and Amandeep Kaur (10).


One dies in freak accident
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Ashok Kumar (22) used to trudge daily to this city from Mardanpur village, nearly 25 km from here, in his endeavour to make it big in the field of computer education.

After attending computer classes yesterday he was asked by his friends to have lunch at the Baradari gardens under a tree. Ashok was enjoying a nap after having the lunch when a large branch of a tree fell on his chest, killing him.

Wailing relatives and police arrived at the scene and once the police completed the formalities, his body was kept in the mortuary of Rajindera Hospital.


Cheques distributed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
The Punjab Government today gave away cheques for Rs 2 lakh each to kin of the two children who drowned in the gushing flood waters of the Ganda Nullah here recently.

Mrs Preneet Kaur, member of Parliament from Patiala, visited the residences of the deceased children at Top Khana Mor locality of the city to hand over the cheques to their kin in the presence of district-level Congress leaders.


BJP to protest against price rise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The BJP President, Mr Rajnath Singh, will lead a protest and dharna of BJP workers against rising prices at Ferozepore on July 5. This was stated here today by Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, secretary of the national unit of the party.

Akali leader Sukhbir Badal will also take part in the dharna. In the afternoon, Mr Rajnath Singh, will flag off a bicycle yatra of BJP workers in the state against rising prices.


Medical camp held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
The Desh Bhagat Group (Punjab), a voluntary social organisation, marked its first anniversary celebrations by organising a medical check-up camp at Passey Road, near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib, here on Wednesday.

Dr Hardev Singh, Dr O.P. Goyal, Dr Sunita Sharma examined the patients. Nearly 265 patients attended the camp. They were provided with medicines free of cost.


Action against forest official recommended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 30
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, has recommended disciplinary action against a forest official, Mr Gamdoor Singh, for an alleged violation of the forest laws.

According to sources, the DC had asked the ADC (Development), Mr Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, to investigate the matter. In his probe report, the investigating officer submitted that the forest official opened a school and accepted its chairmanship without seeking permission from the department. The investigation revealed that he also chopped off some tress to clear the approach road to his school. Later, to cover up the matter he termed those trees as “dead” and presented a “supardaginama” of the same, which reportedly turned out to be forged.

The ADC (D) said he was found guilty of violating forest laws despite himself being a Forest Department official.


Finish Shahpurkandi project on time: CM to departments

Chandigarh, June 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today asked the departments of Irrigation, Power and the Punjab State Electricity Board to coordinate effectively to complete the prestigious Rs 2,000 crore Shahpurkandi project within the stipulated period. — TNS


2 Markfed officers suspended

Chandigarh, June 30
Markfed today placed under suspension field officers Mr K.C. Sabharwal and Mr Gurcharan Dass posted at Bhagapurana in Moga district and Mr Tirloki Nath and Mr Ladha Singh posted at Barnala in Sangrur district on account of embezzlement and pilferage of government stocks of foodgrains. — TNS


Father drowns new-born daughter

Gurdaspur June 30
The Pathankot police has booked the father and the paternal uncle on charges of killing new- born girl. The SSP, Mr PS Umranangal, told The Tribune that the police recently recovered the body of a new- born baby girl from Dhira head work.

An investigation was carried out in the case and it was found that wife of Madan Lal, a resident of Dhira village gave birth to a girl a few days ago. Madan Lal already has two daughters. As soon as his wife gave birth to the baby they took it away from the mother who was unconscious.

He and his brother Charanjeet took the baby on a scooter to the Dhira headwork and threw her in water. The child drowned to death and her body floated to the bank. People reported the matter to the police.

When Madan Lal’s wife and mother asked about the baby, he told them that he had handed her over to an issueless couple. He justified this on the plea that they already had two daughters. — TNS


Five booked for attack on doctor’s hospital
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, June 30
The local police has registered a case under Sections 353, 332, 506, 186, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC against five persons, including two women, in connection with making an attack on the house and hospital of Dr V.P. Goyal, a former Chief Medical Officer, Civil Hospital here yesterday.

The doctor’s house and hospital (JC Memorial Hospital) was attacked following the death of a Muslim women.

Family members of the deceased woman alleged that she died due to the negligence on the part of Dr Goyal. They, in the shape of a mob, attacked the house and hospital with stones and bricks, smashing windowpanes.

According to SHO Sukhdev Singh, the police had registered a case against Ala Mann, a son of Munna, Kali Mohd, a son of Mohd Sayeed, Rohl Khan, a son of Mohd Khan, Sabri and Meena Begum. No person had been arrested in the case so far.

Meanwhile, the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) decided to go on strike following the registration of a case under Section 304-A, IPC, against Dr Goyal. The health services in the town remained paralysed today following the strike by IMA members.

At an emergency meeting held at the Malerkotla Club this morning, the IMA criticised the incident of pelting stones at the house and hospital of Dr Goyal. The IMA demanded strict action against the persons who were responsible for the incident.

Local Congress and Akali leaders, including Mr Saddiq Ansari, Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Mr Bashir Ahmed, member of the Congress executive committee, Mr Gulam Hussain, District Grievances Committee member, and Namdem Anwar Khan, member of the general council of the Shiromani Akali Dal, also condemned the incident.


Teacher dupes dept
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 30
A case against a teacher has been registered for duping the Education Department to get job on a fake degree.

A case under Sections 420, 465, 467 and 471, IPC, has been registered at Verowal police station. Police sources said here today that the case had been registered on the inquiry conducted by the DPI (S). The department, when scrutinised the degrees of all the newly appointed teachers, found about 75 teachers had succeeded in getting job on fake degrees.

The accused in the case has been identified as Didar Singh of Jahangir village. He got the job on compassionate grounds as his father, who was a JBT teacher, died during service. Didar Singh produced a fake degree of B.Ed issued by Mukda University, Bihar, to get the job. Didar Singh is said to be absconding.


6 hurt in attack over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
Six persons were seriously injured when they were attacked with sharp-edged weapons following a land dispute at Balbhera, 10 km from here, this evening.

The injured — Mohinder Singh, Babu Singh, Labh Singh, Jang Singh, Gurjinder Singh and Sarabjit Singh — have been admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital here today.

According to police sources, the six were attacked by a rival group following a dispute over shamlat land (panchayat land). The sources disclosed that one of the injured, Sarabjit Singh, was in possession of the disputed piece of land, which had irked the rival party.


Computer teachers demand regular pay scales
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Hundreds of computer teachers and computer faculty members, who had come from various parts of Punjab, today held a demonstration in front of the office of the Director-General, School Education, Punjab, here today urging the state government to give them regular scales on the pattern of other school teachers.

They said that though they were taking about 48 periods in a week and hold degrees in computer education, they were being humiliated by the state government which was paying them Rs 3,960 per month. And, certain computer teachers were being given Rs 3,080 only.

For imparting computer education, every student up to middle level has to pay Rs 20 per month as fees. In secondary schools, Rs 25 is being charged per student. Computer education is mandatory for all students and even Scheduled Caste students have to pay this fee on a par with general category students.

The agitating teachers said that even a labourer employed under the National Employment Guarantee Scheme earned more wages than them. There was no provision of medical and other leave. “We are allowed only 10 casual leaves in a year and treated like bonded labour in most of the schools. In case of illness, we are made to take leave without pay,” said certain computer teachers.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Gurpreet Singh, President of the Punjab Computer Teachers Union, said that all computer teachers and faculty members had been employed on a contractual basis. They impart education to students from Class III to Class XII.

He said the government had made computer education a profitable venture in most of the schools.

Quoting instances in this regard, he said, “According to a computer teacher from Mansa, Rs 4.8 lakh were collected from the students for imparting computer education in the Government Girls School there. However, the total expenditure made on computer education including salary of computer teachers and faculty members was only Rs 3 lakh. The government saved about Rs 1.8 lakh from that school alone.”

Some computer teachers said that they were made to do all sort of jobs in schools. If a teacher of any other subject went on leave, the computer teachers were told to take their classes. Besides, that they were made to do all sort of clerical jobs.


PTI teachers pick up begging bowls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Berozgar (Unemployed) Physical Training Instructors (PTI) Teachers’ Union of Punjab picked up begging bowls and asked for alms in Sector 17 here today in protest against the lackadaisical attitude of the government in listening to their grievances.

The ‘dharna’ in front of the DPI Office entered its fifth day. Mr Rajwinder Singh Dhillon, president, said nearly 1000 posts were lying vacant in the state. Despite poll promises, the government had done nothing to make any place for the deserving.

It is worth pointing out that scores of agitating teachers have played for the country at the national and even international level in their respective sports.


Admission date for MA (philosophy) extended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
Guru Nanak Dev University has extended the last date for submission of application forms for admission to some seats lying vacant in MA (philosophy) and MA (religious studies) till July 17 without any late fee.

Desirous students should submit their forms in the office of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies. The entrance test for these courses would be held on July 20.


Asia’s largest petrol station and highway mall near Rajpura
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Come January and the Rajpura-Patiala stretch of the GT Road will have Asia’s largest petrol station complex having state-of-the-art facilities for the entertainment of travellers.

A brainchild of Chandigarh-based real estate developer, Mr Harmit Singh Chawla, the petrol station complex is all set to change the concept of highway malls in the region. Besides the petrol station, the Rs 20-crore project will have 2 lakh sq feet of commercial area comprising retail outlets, food courts, motel and entertainment joints, Mr Chawla told The Tribune here today.

‘‘Patterned on the Caltex gas stations in Australia, it is designed to be a single-stop solution for the convenience and entertainment of travellers on the GT Road,’’ Mr Chawla said.

The petrol station, being developed in collaboration with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), will have the capacity to fuel 16 trucks and 20 cars simultaneously. With this, the waiting period for refuelling vehicles will be drastically cut and travellers can utilise their time for shopping and entertainment at the complex.

‘‘Major brands, including Adidas, Music World and Cafe Coffee Day, have evinced keen interest in setting up shops at the complex. This, coupled with our experience in the running the petrol station, should stand us in good stead for the current project’’, he said.

The setting up of the complex is the outcome of a survey conducted by the promoters. With thousands of vehicles, including cars and trucks, passing through this stretch of the GT Road daily, the strategic area provides an ideal place for the setting up of the petrol station-cum-highway mall.

In fact, the promoters, Chawlas, seem to have the right credentials for the starting of the ambitious project. It may be mentioned here that Chawla Filling Station, along with a restaurant Pakhtoon, on the Mohali-Kharar road has been a favourite haunt for highway travellers for a long time now.


IOC holds medical camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 30
The Indian Oil branch at Dhiru Ki Majri, Lower Mall, here held a function to mark its “customer excellence year” yesterday. A medical camp and an AIDS awareness programme were also held.

Mr Vikas Gupta, Sales Manager, IOC, was present at the camp where more than 100 patients were examined. People were educated about the HIV virus. The programme was organised in collaboration with the Patiala Civil Surgeon.


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