P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Good roads prove Punjab’s bane
Planning Commission refuses funds
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Punjab Government has protested to the Planning Commission for cold- shouldering its demands for allocation of funds from the Central kitty.

After holding several meetings with the Planning Commission officials concerned, Punjab officials realised that the eligibility for infrastructure schemes favoured the least developed states.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder ,had asked the Planning Commission last week for funds to improve the existing rural roads and electrification networks. The Chief Minister was told that Punjab had already met the national norms on various indicators of development hence did not qualify for grants.

A senior functionary gave examples of rural roads and electrification, saying just because Punjab had achieved full road connectivity or electrified all villages, it does not qualify to gets funds for new projects for rural roads and power supply.

The least developed states like Bihar or Orissa, among others, which had not built their infrastructure in the rural sector, were taking away a major share of the grants from the Central kitty.

A document presented to the Planning commission and also in the possession of The Tribune quotes examples to bolster the claim It says, Punjab could derive "marginal" benefit from the newly launched Bharat Nirman Programme as the norms for availing the financial benefits were such that state did not qualify. The state has launched its own Punjab Nirman Programme and demanded that the Commission should support the project financially. Another example quoted is of the funding provided by Central Government for major projects launched under the public-private participation. The need of the hour is to provide more funds as the provision of money was not optimal, opined the Punjab Government .

It also goes on to say that projects for drinking water, sewerage, solid waste management and sanitation already launched by the Punjab Government in 124 towns need more money from the Central kitty. "The Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission which was set up last year has very limited coverage and the funding was not even enough to make a significant contribution to the urban renewal", The Punjab Government has pointed out.

On the infrastructure front the Government has demanded that the specialised rail freight corridor should terminate at Amritsar and not at Ludhiana as planned. The gas-grid carrying natural gas has already reached North India and it should be extended up to Punjab while the special road expressway from Ambala to Amritsar should be extended up to the Attari- Wagah border.

On the agriculture front the state has pointed out that the minimum support price (MSP) for crops was "unrealistic" and did not match the galloping input costs.


Baba charges dera chief with ‘inflicting mental torture’
To expose ‘misdeeds’ of ‘dera’ functionaries
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 9
The absconding Baba Amrik Singh, who has been expelled from the dera of Baba Jagtar Singh Kar Seva Wale, Tarn Taran, alleged that the dera chief and his followers inflicted “mental torture” on him for several days in captivity and hatched a conspiracy to “eliminate” him to finish all ‘proofs of embezzlement’ , collected by him (Baba Amrik Singh).

Talking to The Tribune on telephone from an undisclosed place, Baba Amrik Singh alleged that he was ‘picked up’ by followers of Baba Jagtar Singh when martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev was being observed. He alleged he was not given proper food though he was ill. He said it was the Almighty, who had accepted his prayer and he could escape from the dera since he had not indulged in any embezzlement. He claimed that he was not absconding and would appear before the Sikh Sangat at an appropriate time to clarify his position. Describing the allegations of dera chief against him a ‘bundle of lies, he claimed he had documentary proof with him to expose ‘misdeeds’ of senior functionaries of the Dera of Kar Sewa. However, despite repeated attempts, Baba Jagtar Singh could not be contacted for his version .

Meanwhile, on the complaint of Baba Mohinder Singh, treasurer of the ‘dera’, a case under Sections 420 and 406 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered by the city police station, Tarn Taran against Amrik Singh and his two relatives.

Refuting charges of ‘embezzlement of Rs 2 crore’, levelled by Baba Jagtar Singh, Amrik Singh said the fact was that he had dedicated his life to ‘kar sewa’. When asked why he had purchased land in Hoshiarpur district in his name, he said he should not have been punished for this mistake since he wanted to develop some project for the sake of Sikh Sangat . He said the Almighty knows that he was ‘innocent’.

Amrik Singh has also sent fax message to The Tribune office, clarifying his position, withholding his telephone number, so it is difficult to tell his whereabouts .

On the ‘Kar Sewa’, carried out in Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Amrik Singh said he had met Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, then Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president there . He said he had accepted the challenge of ‘Kar Sewa’ of gurdwaras in Pakistan on the request of Mr Sarna. Amrik Singh claimed that in all Rs 5.50 crores had been spent on the ‘Kar Sewa’ of gurdwara Chunna Mandi, Lahore, serai and other gurdwaras of Nankana Sahib, out of which Dera Jagtar Singh spent Rs 2.50 crore. The rest of the amount was spent by Mr Sarna and his relatives .

Leveling serious charges , Amrik Singh said that he had developed sharp differences with Baba Jagtar Singh since he had objected to his (Baba Jagtar Singh) ‘anti- Kar Sewa’ activities.


Firing incident in village: SHO shifted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 9
Keeping in view the constitution of an inquiry into the exchange of firing between the occupants of a Qualis van and Sub-Inspector, Paramjit Singh, Station House Officer, Mahilpur police station of this district, at Dadian village last evening, the latter was transferred today. This was stated by Mr R. N. Dhoke, SSP, Hoshiarpur, here this afternoon.

He said he had initiated SP (D) to conduct the inquiry into the FIR no. 133, registered under Sections 307, 353, 148 and 149 of the IPC and sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act, at the Mahilpur police station against the unknown occupants of the Qualis, who were absconding.

It may be recalled that two youths — Devinder Singh son of Harpal Singh of Thoda, and Chander Pal of Bhulraie (Phagwara) — got bullet injuries when Mr Paramjit Singh, SHO, Mahilpur police station, opened fire on them while they were going with their four companions in the Qualis at Dadian village.

The SSP further said that he had also written to the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, to get a magisterial inquiry conducted in the incident.

Briefing about the incident, Mr Dhoke said that yesterday, the Mahilpur police station received information on telephone that Mr Garib Dass, sarpanch of village Dadian, along with his son Sohan Singh and relative Parkash Singh had engaged at least 35 persons equipped with arms, and they were forcibly trying to capture the panchayat land of the village adjoining a gurdwara.

SHO Mahilpur along with police post in charge Ajnoha reached Dadian village, where watchman Joginder Singh, son of Saggi Ram, met them and got recorded his statement about the capturing of 4 marlas panchayat land. On his statement, a case under Sections 447, 148, 159 and 506 of the IPC had been registered against the village sarpanch and others.

The SSP said that when SHO Mahilpur, after instructing both parties to come to the police station with their relevant records of land, was going back, he saw three motor cycles and a Qualis coming from the opposite side near Lakshian village. On seeing the police vehicle, they took a U-turn and tried to flee. The SHO who became suspicious on their action, started chasing them. The occupants of Qualis suddenly stopped their vehicle and opened its back door and fired on the SHO.

In self-defence, the SHO retaliated by firing. On this, they speeded up their vehicle and fled.

Meanwhile, the police arrested sarpanch Garib Dass, his son Sohan Singh, Pritam Singh, alias Pappu, son of Parkash Singh, all of the same village, Lakhwinder Pal and Roshan Lal, sons of Ram Lal of Mananhana in the land grabbing case.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, District Magistrate, Hoshiarpur, today ordered a magisterial inquiry into the firing case. He has deputed Mr Harminder Singh, SDM, Garhshankar, to conduct the inquiry and submit his report within a week.


Dhindsa to head SAD-BJP seat-sharing panel
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 9
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Secretary General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will head the nine-member committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the SAD on the seat-sharing arrangement for the Assembly elections.

This announcement was made by SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal and BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley during a joint press conference here today.

The other members of the committee were Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal of the SAD and Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, Prof Rajinder Bhandari and Mr Vijay Sampla of the BJP.

Mr Badal and Mr Jaitley claimed that there were no differences between the alliance partners on any issue.

They said the candidates’ ability to win and commitment to the alliance would be the main criterion for selection.

Mr Badal said he had nothing to do with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti’s assurance to some Sikh leaders to review the hukamnama against Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann and others.

He hastened to add that Mr Mann had no standing in Punjab politics, stating that Mr Mann’s party was no longer recognised by the Election Commission of India.

Mr Badal claimed that the Akal Takht hukamnama, asking Sikhs to boycott the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was not an issue and was being raked up by vested interests.


Family loses two sons to Sutlej
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
Tragedy struck a family from Chhota Khera village after their two sons drowned in the Sutlej while they, along with three friends, were taking bath there. The bodies of Raj Kumar (22) and Tinku (18) were fished out with the help of divers after two hours.

The family originally belongs to Gorkhapur in Uttar Pradesh. While Raj Kumar had married four months ago, Tinku’s engagement ceremony had been performed recently.

The brothers, along with their friends, had left home about 10.30 am. After washing their clothes in the river, the five decided to take a bath, ignoring the fact that the two brothers did not know how to swim.

The mishap took place about 12.15 pm when rain had just begun and Tinku slipped and fell into the river. He was noticed by others when he raised the alarm.

Seeing that Tinku was gasping, Raj Kumar jumped into the water.

Panic gripped villagers as the news of the brothers spread to the village. The DSP, Mr Didar Singh, and SHO Manveer Singh reached the spot. Six divers were called to fish out the bodies. About 2.30 pm, the bodies were found.

“I have lost everything. My son never went to take bath in the river. This is the first time when they came here. I have three sons. My eldest son had left home three years ago and we are not aware of his whereabouts and now I have lost my two sons”, the father of the deceased, Rammaan, said.

After the postmortem, the bodies were handed over to the family for cremation.

A board warning against entering the river was also there.


PSEB officers facing graft charges go scot-free
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 9
Certain PSEB officers charged with corruption are not only being allowed to go scot-free, but are also being rewarded with plum postings. As per documents available with The Tribune, Mr Rajit Sharma, the then AEE at the Nehru Garden subdivision in Jalandhar, and Mr Darshan Singh, ASE in charge of the east division at Jalandhar, had been found guilty in a technical audit investigation report of the PSEB.

The first investigation report was related to 303 missing meters and in the inquiry report, it had been pointed that the meters missing were installed by Junior Engineer Kulwant Singh, working under the above-mentioned officers, as unauthorised connections.

The meters had been set up in installations within 100 feet of declared highways, in unauthorised colonies or in places disconnected due to the non-payment of bills.

The billing of the meters, worth crores, had been pocketed by the officers, causing a direct loss to the PSEB.

One such meter had been found installed on the premises of a streetlight consumer, where energy worth Rs 10 lakh was not accounted for in PSEB books.

Meters had been found installed on the premises disconnected due to the non-payment of bills.

The second allegation was that Mr Rajit Sharma illegally increased the load of industries falling in the red category and situated in residential areas by 25 per cent.

Such industries were required to take NOCs from the municipal authorities and the pollution control board before getting load extension.

The officers did not care to take NOCs before extending the load of polluting industries in residential areas.

The move, besides causing a financial loss of Rs 4,90,405, had exposed the general public to extra pollution.

Under political pressure, the officers had been allowed to go scot-free, with the punishment of one increment stoppage, without any future affect.

Mr Darshan Singh and Mr N.K. Arora, the then Chief Engineer, distribution system, North Zone, had been chargesheeted for favouring a real estate group.

The charge sheet related to land acquisition for building a 132-KV substation at Dogri village in Kahanpur on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road.

Notifications for the acquisition of land were issued in 2000 and the matter was taken to court, with the project being revived in 2003 after court orders.

When the project revival proceedings were on, the above-mentioned officers, to protect the interests of real estate developers, had said the land was no longer required.

The PSEB had then taken second opinion and the project had been saved, with an inquiry report noting that the officers supplied wrong information to the PSEB.

Inquiry proceedings had been dropped due to political pressure and the officers concerned given plum postings.


Akalis committed sacrilege in past too: Dullo
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 9
Refuting the allegations of the SAD on the Manji Sahib episode, the PPCC President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today said that it was not the first time that the Akalis had perpetrated sacrilege of Akal Takht and such unruly scenes were often witnessed at their meetings.

He stated this while addressing a public rally at Rampura Phul here. Mr Dullo said Akalis had themselves invited Mr Simranjit Singh Mann to the function and the Congress had nothing to do with it. “The Akalis have formed a habit of putting the blame on the Congress for anything and everything,” he said.

Denying allegations that the Congress was trying to spoil the state’s atmosphere ahead of the elections, he said the state was peaceful under his party’s regime. When his attention was drawn towards the crime graph during the past six months, he said: “The state was peaceful as compared to other states like UP and Bihar.” He said the law and order situation in the state was under control.

On skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, the PPCC chief said the government would strengthen the public distribution system and make people available pulses and sugar at subsidised rates. He said the supply would be made through societies in rural areas and depots in urban areas.

Regarding speculations of the Chief Minister’s son, Mr Raninder Singh, being fielded in the coming Assembly elections, he said all party candidates would be decided on the basis of feedback from the party workers.

Earlier, addressing a public meeting, he claimed that the Congress had fulfilled 65 promises it made in its manifesto and the only assurance left about grade to government employees would soon be met.

Today the state government launched its scheme of giving Rs 600 monthly honorarium to village sarpanches. Mr Dullo and the Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, distributed cheques among 306 sarpanches of the district. They also inaugurated a modern cotton market that came up at a cost of Rs 2.14 crore, besides laying the foundation stones of a water supply and underground sewerage.

Meanwhile, the rally was marred by a protest from unemployed BEd teachers and PTIs who started raising slogans against the government as soon as Mr Dullo rose to address the rally.

The police resorted to a cane charge before rounding up about 30 protesters. Sources said 31 protesters, including nine women, were taken to Phul police station and they were not let off till the evening.


Dhumal raps Cong for price rise
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 9
Senior BJP leader and former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal yesterday said the SAD-BJP alliance would form the next government in Punjab as its people were fed up with the Congress government due to its failure to control the spiralling prices of essential commodities.

Talking to mediapersons at the culmination of “Cycle Rosh Yatra”, led by state BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna, he said Punjab would lead the nation in wiping out Congress rule in the country.

He said the BJP would organise a bandh on August 1 to protest against the rampant corruption and rising prices in his state.

He said price rise was a sensitive issue and the governments had fallen whenever they had failed to control it in the past.

Professor Dhumal said the UPA government at the Centre had washed its hands of the issue by claiming that it was due to hoarding by traders.

He said the government could not run from its responsibility and should take action against the hoarders.

Challenging the Congress claim that there was no provision in the Constitution for convening a special meeting of Parliament on such issues, he said the same party had convened a special meeting to repeal POTA (Prevention of Terrorist activities Act) in terrorist affected states.

Commenting on the setting up of industrial units by Reliance in Punjab and Haryana, Professor Dhumal said the Congress was selling the interests of the states in the hands of big industrial units. The fact that presidents of the two state Congress committees had protested against the setting up of industrial units in their respective states was a testament to Congress’ misplaced policies, he added.

Similarly, the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh had allocated a big chunk of prime forest land to Hero Honda for setting up a plant in Mandi.

On the question of law and order situation and the recent finding of dead bodies in Solan district, he said the situation there was better than Punjab.

Earlier, Mr Khanna thanked the party workers for joining the yatra despite hostility shown by SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann towards the yatra.

He also rebuked the state government for not providing security for the yatra.


Calcutta to form coordination panel of Akali factions
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, July 9
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a senior Akali leader, announced that a Panthic Coordination Committee of Akali Dals would be formed soon to remove Mr Parkash Singh Badal from the presidentship of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Addressing reporters here today he said discussions were on and committee would take shape in a fortnight. To a question on taking part in Assembly elections he said initially they would concentrate on bringing Akali Dals on one platform and resolve their differences. He added a political forum would emerge from it subsequently.

He termed his expulsion undemocratic and illegal and added the disciplinary committee could only make a recommendation to the president of the party who had the authority to expel him. Referring to Mr Badal he said he did not want to come out in the open and preferred to play his game from behind the curtain.

He said Mr Badal had turned the Akali Dal which once had units in the USA and the UK and other countries with sizeable Sikh population, into a regional party. He said the Akali Dal now was associated with some hundred families only. He pointed out that Mr Badal had always acted against senior Akali leaders since he had joined the party.

He alleged the SAD (B) president had made the Akali Dal subordinate to the BJP and allowed it to tinker with Sikh history. He said Mr Badal to perpetuate his hegemony in the Akali politics, appointed persons of low calibre to high posts like that of Jathedar of Akal Takht.


Govt plans to assess pollution level of Sutlej, Beas
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Punjab Government is preparing a report to assess the extent of pollution of river Sutlej and the Beas caused by discharge toxic sewage and industrial waste.

The Punjab Chief Secretary had during a meeting held on June 23 regarding the problem, directed various officials to assess the pollution load in the two rivers from the industries, urban and rural domestic waster water and any other source. He had added that a report was indispensable in order to tackle the situation effectively.

It was felt during the meeting that highly toxic sewage and industrial waste was being discharged into river Sutlej at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phillaur and Phagwara causing heavy pollution in the state's water bodies, including the canals. This waste was not only used for irrigation purposes but also for human and animal consumption, especially in the south-west districts, where ground water was not potable.

It was reported during the meeting that the total wastewater generated by chrome tanning units at leather complex Jalandhar was about 5MLD of which only 1.5 MLD was being treated by the treatment plant installed by the government. This was resulting in the discharge of highly toxic wastewater into the Kala Singha drain which ultimately reached Harike through river Beas.

It was further pointed out that at focal point Ludhiana where a large number of electroplating units were running, the treatment plant of the government was not operational due to lack of adequate quantity of trade effluent for viable operation.

In order to tackle urban domestic wastewater it has been decided that work of completion of the sewerage treatment plants under construction at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Phagwara be monitored on priority so that these are functional by the end of this year. Also, according to the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board officials, sewerage treatment plants at Machhiwara, Nawanshahr, Banga, Rayya, Patti, Dasuya, Tanda Urmar, Bhulath, Mukerian and Pathankot are likely to be completed by the end of 2008.

The Chief Secretary had also suggested that the septic tank scheme undertaken by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat in 141 villages of the state should be extended to more villages, specially at Ropar, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Amritsar located on the banks of the Sutlej and the Beas.


Village ravaged by squall awaits relief
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 9
Nearly 6,000 residents of Jandwala Meerasangla village, which was devastated in a squall in January, 2003, are still awaiting the Rs 1-crore special development grant announced by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during his address to a rally here five days after the calamity.

The CM had also promised to develop the village as “sunder gram” (beautiful village) under the Centre-funded RDF scheme, but there has been no sign of its implementation.

Villagers told this correspondent yesterday that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had also visited the village after the calamity and distributed compensation in cash and promised more relief from the SGPC, which never came.

The state government had given Rs 2 lakh each to two families whose members were killed in the squall. Some money was released for carrying out repairs of houses that had been damaged. But the work could only start after help came from followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa.

The Chief Minister had promised to build a dispensary, but in the absence of it, the panchayat ghar was turned into a makeshift dispensary.

Even furniture, which is the responsibility of the Health Department, had not been supplied.

The doctor was found absent from work at 11 am yesterday when the correspondent visited the complex. The junior employee, recruited on contract, had no answer. Patients lamented that the dispensary had no medicines, barring a few painkillers.

All three employees of the Rural Health Department were also found absent.

All water storage tanks were found dry. The state government had handed over the charge of the waterworks to the panchayat.

Water is drawn to the waterworks from a canal, 4 km away, for only 14 hours a week through a watercourse that remains damaged. Consequently, villagers only get two-hour water supply every week.

Contamination in groundwater has resulted in cases of arthritis and other physical ailments among villagers.

Moreover, villagers rued that a former sarpanch had built a road linking the periphery road to his house, which had resulted in inundation of their houses during rainy season.

They added that the former sarpanch had illegally exchanged five acres of fertile panchayat land with a piece of barren land to benefit a resident.

They alleged that two ponds had been encroached upon by vested interest and no action had been initiated against them. The former sarpanch could not be contacted for his comments.

However, the current sarpanch claimed that the Congress MLA had been cooperative in providing funds for extension of the purchase centre, raising height of the boundary wall of the local school and building drainage system but feigned ignorance over the grant of Rs 1 crore by the Chief Minister.


Impounded bus parked in Nehru Complex
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, July 9
Constructed at a whopping cost of Rs 12 crore, the Nehru shopping complex on the busy Lawrence Road has also been converted for the parking of impounded vehicles by the police.

The complex is already plagued with numerous problems, including poor supply of water, falling tiles from walls and dirty and non-functioning toilets. An impounded bus (PB-07-T-9768) has been parked in the complex now. The bus reportedly crushed a middle-aged woman to death on the Hukam Singh road on the night of July 6. Thereafter, the bus was parked at Nehru Complex, which also houses a police chowki.

When contacted, Mr Chaman Lal, SP City (II), said normally an impounded vehicle was parked close to the police station or chowki in the area where the incident took place.

Mr Prem Chopra, owner of a shop in the complex, said the complex presented a dismal look. Indifference of the Improvement Trust had aggravated the problem. He pointed out that the building was about 10 years old but had developed several cracks.

He said no shop on the top floor of the four-storeyed building had been occupied so far. The complex had earned the sobriquet of “dirtiest shopping plaza” due to the absence of proper drainage. There was accumulation of water even during minor showers or cleansing operations, as water entered shops and offices.

He rued that staircases were stinking and there was litter in the absence of proper bathrooms, which presented a pathetic sight.


Old man forced to spend life in pingalwara
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 9
Eighty-year-old, Mr Sham Sunder of Himachal has been forced to spend life at Sangrur pingalwara as his family of sons, grandsons and a wife, has abandoned him.

The Himachal police, instead of coming to his rescue, tried to side with the grandson, who had pocketed a huge amount of his grandfather on the pretext of keeping it safe from burglars. The old man had kept the money for the treatment of his knees after selling one of his shops.

A resident of Manali in Himachal, Sham Sunder had been suffering from knee problem and doctors at the PGI had told him that Rs 1.5 lakh would be needed for the surgery to treat his knees. His two sons instead of getting him treated argued long walks would be good for his knees.

“I was upset that my sons, whose children were dependent on me till three years ago, refused to take me even to hospital. I sold off a shop that I had kept with me for my old age and decided to get the treatment at the PGI three years ago,” said Mr Sham Sunder to The Tribune.

As nobody in the family agreed to accompany him to the hospital, Sham Sunder persuaded one of his friends to look after him during his stay at the PGI. “But I was distressed to find that my grandson refused to handover me Rs 2.80 lakh, he had taken from me for keeping it at a safe place in stead of placing it under my pillow at night,” told the old man saying all his efforts to get the money back were futile.

Role of the Manali police also hurt Sham Sunder. “When I asked the police to get my money back from my grandson, they instead of redressing my grievance, sided with him and asked me reach a compromise with other members of the family,” rued the old man.

After being thrown out by his sons and grandsons in the presence of his wife, Sham Sunder came to Chandigarh in search of some job. But partial disability due to restricted articulation of knee
joints dashed his hopes of spending old age in dignity. “I do not remember how I came into contact with Dr Inderjit Kaur, who, first rehabilitated me at Amritsar Pingalwara and then shifted here,” said Sham Sunder.

Sham Sunder is in a fix, whether to submit to destiny and allow nature to have its course or teach his kin a lesson by moving a court. The house occupied by his kin is still in his name.


Bansal in Pak for SAARC FMs’ meeting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
The first-ever meeting of Finance Ministers of SAARC countries, to be held in Pakistan, will hold discussions on various trade and economic issues, besides generating unanimity on the South Asia Free Trade Association (SAFTA) agreement, which was implemented on July 1.

This was stated by Finance Minister for State Pawan Kumar Bansal, before crossing over to Pakistan for his five-day visit, here today.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Bansal said the Finance Ministers of SAARC countries would hold discussions on the changes and challenges in the field of trade and business after the implementation of much-awaited SAFTA agreement.

The SAARC meeting is likely to be held on the Indian side next year and India might present a proposal in this regard during the meeting, Mr Bansal said.

Additional Secretary, Finance, T.C. Gupta, Undersecretary, Finance Department, Preeti Saran, Ashok Chawla and Madhu Bansal are accompanying the minister to Pakistan.

Official at the Indian High Commission to Pakistan Vinod Chadda received the minister.

Mr Bansal said in the Budget the government had decided to provide loans for two crops to farmers at the interest rate of 7 per cent, out of which the Centre would provide 2 per cent interest rate.

He said it would result in the benefit of Rs 1,800 crore to farmers.

He added that various steps were being taken to improve the working of cooperatives.

Efforts were afoot in this regard so that economic conditions of rural people could be strengthened, he added.


Providential escape for cine-goers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Hundreds of cine-goers had a narrow escape when fire broke out in the Anam cinema hall here at around noon today when Hrithik Roshan-starrer “Krrish” was being screened.

About 250 persons were watching the movie when the incident occurred. According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out due to a short-circuit in an air-conditioner, which resulted in sparking. Smoke was seen coming out from ventilators of the building. The entire balcony, projector of the film and some machines were gutted in the fire. The Fire Brigade deployed six fire-tenders which succeeded in extinguishing the fire after about two hours.

The viewers had a lucky escape as no one was injured. Mr Tarlochan Singh, Fire Officer, said the cinema hall did not have fire extinguishers to deal with any such eventuality. He said it did not even have an NOC.


Ropar to have de-addiction centre
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
Continuing campaign launched in the district against the drug abuse, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Sekhar, announced to set up drug de-addiction centre for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Mr Sekhar announced it while he was inaugurating a seminar organised by Rotary Club on drug de-addiction and free check-up camp here today.

He demanded that NGOs and social workers, who wanted to work for the betterment of the society, should come forward to help the youths who were trapped in the cycle of drug abuse.

"Besides, we have decided to organise a play to spread awareness among the villagers about the menace of drug abuse in each sub-division," he added.

Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr R.S Parmar gave information about the drug menace and its ill effects to the gathering.


Breach in minor leads to inundation of crops
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 9
Hundred of acres of standing cotton and paddy crops were submerged at Rupana and Dhigana villages following a breach in the Arniwala minor early this morning. Water also entered a Dalit locality at Dhigana village. Farmers Gurtej Singh, Darshan Singh and Balkar Singh alleged that the tragedy occurred due to excess release of water in the minor.

They claimed that they had warned Canal Department officials on June 21 that excess release of water could lead to a breach in the minor, but nobody listened to them.

They lamented that their crops were ruined in a similar manner last year, too.

On the other hand, the authorities concerned said they released water in the canal keeping in mind the demand of villages falling at the tail-end.


Dimpy cremated at Chandbhan village
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 9
The body of Prabhjinder Singh, alias Dimpy, a gangster, who was killed in Chandigarh on Friday night, was consigned to the flames at his native place, Chandbhan village, near here, today.

A large number of people attended his funeral and the prominent among those was SAD (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann. Dimpy was a relative of Mr Mann and was closely associated with him before making his entry into the world of crime. Local Congress and Akali workers were also seen at his funeral.

Dimpy was released from jail about one and a half months back after he secured bail in a case from Lucknow court.


SDO caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
The local Vigilance Bureau today caught an SDO working with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) accepting illegal gratification from one of his subordinate officers.

According to Mr G.S Bhullar, SSP, Vigilance, Patiala, the SDO, Prem Singh, who was posted at Sangrur subdivision of the PSEB, was caught accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000 from his subordinate, Mr Karam Chand, who is working as a Junior Engineer at the same place.

Mr Bhullar disclosed that acting on a complaint made by Mr Karam Chand, a team, led by DSP Jaspal Singh, raided Prem Singh’s residence at Dhuri today.

Prem Singh was demanding the bribe amount for verifying and testifying certain entries made in a register maintained by the PSEB for recording entries of goods given to consumers from Mr Karam Chand.

Mr Bhullar added that the SDO had illegally taken the register to his Dhuri residence today where the team, led by DSP Jaspal Singh, caught him in the presence of two government witnesses, Randhir Singh and Mr Mohinder Pal, SDO and JE, respectively, working in the PWD Department.

The bribe amount was recovered from the SDO and a case registered by the Vigilance Bureau against him.


Cops, quack nabbed for cheating man
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 9
The police has nabbed a head constable, a constable, a quack and a juice-seller for cheating a person in the name of changing viscera of his son’s body.

According to police sources, Head Constable Kulwant Singh, Constable Kamaljit Singh (both posted at City police station), quack Jasbir Singh, practising in Mohan Singh Basti, and juice-seller Kulwant Singh were booked on Nachattar Singh’s complaint. Actually, Nachattar Singh’s son Sukhpal Singh died about three months ago. He had allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance as he had been allegedly harassed by some persons. An FIR in this regard was lodged at Sadar police station.

Viscera of Sukhpal’s body was sent to Patiala lab for examination. Nachattar Singh alleged in his complaint that the quack, two cops and the juice-seller had told him that they had links in the lab and they would get viscera changed and a definite report of consuming poison would come.

Following which, the complainant reportedly gave them Rs 25,000. However, the viscera report reportedly stated that Sukhpal Singh had died due to excess drinking.

At this, he submitted a complaint to the police. Subsequently, an FIR under Section 420 of the IPC was registered against the accused and they were arrested.


Two booked for killing labourer

Moga, July 9
The police has booked Kala Singh of Kishanpura and his unidentified accomplice allegedly for killing Gurmel Singh of the same locality here yesterday.

Gurmel Singh’s brother, Gurdev Singh, has alleged that the accused had some old enmity with Gurmel and they had killed him by mixing poison in his liquor. — TNS


Varsity inspected, gets the thumbs down
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
The issue of setting up a national-level law university here seems to have taken a serious turn as a high-level team of the Bar Council of India, led by Mr Jagan Nath Patnaik, which inspected the infrastructure at the local Mohindra Kothi today, expressed disappointment at and displeasure over inadequate arrangements to run a university.

Though officials of the Punjab Government and officials appointed at the local Rajiv Gandhi National Law University made repeated requests to the inspection team to give them some time to make all arrangements as per norms, they did not promise anything.

The inspection team expressed disappointment at and displeasure over the inadequate arrangements and remarked that those were not enough to run a college.

They directed the Punjab Government officials and others concerned to visit other law universities in the country and then made arrangements accordingly.

They were disappointed at the lack of a proper building to run classes, inadequate library and hostel facilities and the non-appointment of a Dean Academics and a Dean Faculty, rejecting permission to run a university.

When the Punjab Government officials and others concerned made repeated requests, they said they would consider if the authorities concerned should be allowed to make the university functional from this year on the condition that all arrangements would be made within an year.

The university authorities had sold hundreds of prospectus-cum-admission forms for admission to 80 students in its inaugural academic session, to be started from August 1, and had fixed the entrance test for July 9.

Mr G.S. Sandhu, Registrar of the university, said entrance test centres had been set up at Delhi, Chandigarh and Patiala while the centre at Jalandhar had been cancelled.


Release list, say unemployed teachers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
Unemployed B.Ed teachers, who have applied for the 450 vacant posts of teacher in schools in district, today staged a dharna in front of the Zila Parishad office against the delay in releasing the list of the selected candidates.

They complained that earlier they were informed that a list of selected candidates would be released within a week after the selection of EET teachers. But officials of the Zila Parishad and administration were now saying that it would take at least 20 more days to release the list.

The unemployed teachers accompanied by the district president of Unemployed B.Ed Teachers Front, Mr Amarjit Singh, later submitted a memorandum to the Parliamentary Secretary, Industry and Commerce, and local MLA, Mr K.P.S Rana, seeking their intervention in the matter.

The students also alleged that some selected candidates against the ETT post in the school procured fake certificates of residential proof. These selected candidates originally belong to Himachal but managed to get fake certificate of their residence of Anandpur Sahib sub-division of the Ropar.


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