P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


FIR faux pas leaves police red-faced
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 7
The police today found itself in an embarrassing situation when it had to delete Section 307 in a case registered against an alleged drug peddler, who was reportedly shot at by a police party under Behniwal police post last night.

According to sources, the incident occurred when 42-year-old Rajinder Singh was asked to stop at a check post set up by Behniwal police post in charge Gurmeet Singh Gill last night.

Rajinder alleged that as soon as he alighted from his vehicle the police fired at him injuring his hand and thigh. He was admitted to Civil Hospital, Bathinda, where it came to light that he had lost one of his fingers in the firing, while another had to be chopped off. Surprisingly, the police charged him with attacking it and registered a case against him under Section 307 of the IPC at Jorkiyan police station. On the other hand, he claimed that he didn't have any firearm at the time of the incident. Sources said just prior to the incident he had sped towards Mansa after he was signalled to stop at a check post at Singo village in Talwandi Sabo.

Mansa SSP Ram Singh said they were deleting Section 307 from the FIR and would take future course of action on the basis of statements of Rajinder and others involved in the incident. He said he would also take appropriate action against the Jorkiyan SHO.


Badal tells officers to stamp out corruption
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 7
Tehsildars used to collect money to spend on hospitality during the Chief Minister and ministers’ visits to different districts during previous Parkash Singh Badal-led governments in Punjab. Mr Badal made this admission during his first visit to the city on Wednesday after becoming Chief Minister for the fourth time.

Addressing a meeting of senior civil and police officers of the district at district administrative complex, in chaste Punjabi Mr Badal said ‘Mainu pata tehsildar sade vaaste vi paise ekathe karde rahe ne.’

Mr Badal said ‘automatic’ corruption while registering sale deed of immovable property was prevalent in Punjab. `There are several places where the tehsildars collect even Rs 2-lakh as bribe per day in this way. (Kai-kai shaharon che do-do lakh roz de ban de ne)’ he added.

Probably this was not all, he asked ‘is there any tehsildar present at the meeting.’ At this, senior civil officers pointed out at tehsildar number one, who stood up in his seat. Mr Badal told him to stop all type of ‘automatic’ corruption, if he and his staff were involved in that.

The Chief Minister said corruption should be sealed because it was the root cause of the mal-administration. He said his government was committed to stamp out corruption from the state and no laxity at any level would be tolerated.

Mr Badal said he did not require any hospitality from officers as had been prevalent. Elaborating he said he and his cabinet ministers would adhere to the self-imposed code based on morals, no welcome gates, no hospitality and pump and show during official visits of ministers, including the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister said he had decided to take simple meals at the residences of workers of the SAD and the BJP, alternatively, during his visits in the state.

However later he could not give any satisfactory reply when asked by The Tribune that Capt Amarinder Singh also had tried to present his government’s image as corruption free especially in initial days, would Badal succeed to eradicate it in real sense. He merely said he had much ground-level experience compared to former CM Amarinder Singh.

Mr Badal was all praise for SSP Vigilance Dilbagh Singh Gill who nabbed SDM Shahkot Bakhtawar Singh in a bribery case and asked the officers to come forward to display such courage and professional commitment as shown by the said officer. He announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 from his pocket in recognition of his services. 


Will Vigilance Bureau get back its teeth?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Will the Punjab Vigilance Bureau get back the teeth it had after the previous Congress government assumed office five years ago?

The decision of the new SAD-BJP regime to scrap the Punjab State Vigilance Commission and reinforce the Vigilance Bureau notwithstanding, not many in the new set-up favour the registration of cases at the drop of a hat or on the basis of “rukas” -- slips-- without any preliminary investigation into allegations of corruption by public servants.

Taking the new dispensation in the state at its word that it would neither pursue any personal vendetta nor politically victimise any of its opponents, it is likely to refer cases of “favours and special concessions” granted to a select few by the previous regime.

Things will start falling in place after the Vigilance Bureau is revamped and given a new mandate to complete preliminaries and register cases only when prima facie charges of doling out favours and concessions or resorting to corrupt practices are made out.

An equally daunting case for the Vigilance Bureau would be how to handle and pursue the existing cases registered against members of the new ruling clan by the previous government. This includes cases against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members.

While the income tax inquiry reports may give the bureau a lever for a complete volte-face in cases against the Badals, the same may not be applicable in cases against others, including a member of the Cabinet.

Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, who will also be the administrative head of the Department of Vigilance, in a brief statement has said that all cases of corruption by public servants will be handled firmly and professionally. He has also ruled out the possibility of any vindictiveness in the functioning of the bureau.

Another onerous task for the bureau would be to shed its image of a “terror tool” of the government. There were allegations and counter-allegations that in the past five years the Vigilance Bureau had “misused” the free hand given to it in forcing or terrorising people into submission. That, many analysts point out, was a reason for many state government employees turning against the ruling party in the just-concluded elections.

Though the Congress government realised that the “free hand given to the bureau was misused at times”, corrective measures taken, including the setting up of the state Vigilance Commission, came too late.

At present, the Vigilance Bureau is headed by a police officer of the rank of director-general. Once the police administration is revamped later this week or early next week, the Vigilance, too, will get its new team but perhaps not the teeth it had five years ago.


Manpreet aims to make Punjab number one 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has a clearly defined goal of making the state number one again in the country. “Punjab was a number-one state but it has slipped to fifth or sixth slot in the country. My all energy will be focused on regaining the prime position in the country,” said Manpreet immediately after becoming the finance minister today.

Obviously, to regain number-one position, lot of sacrifices would have to be made by all concerned. “Once we achieve our goal of becoming number one, then we can afford to be liberal in spending,” he adds.

Quoting Winston Churchill, who had asked his countrymen in 40s that he needs their blood, sweat and tears to put his war-torn country back on rails, Manpreet said to move ahead on the path of development and to meet new challenges sometimes one has to give his blood, sweat and tears for his people.

Punjab has been sliding down on education, health, infrastructure, modern industry, agriculture and other important fronts. “Parkash Singh Badal has given me a most important task to rebuild the state. I would go all out to live up to his expectations,” he added.

“I am of the view that there should be consensus among all concerned on the economic policies to be pursued by the state. There is no scope of making economic policies a tug-of-war among the competing political forces within the state,” he added.

One of the major area of his concern is weaker sections of society. A lot was required to be done to improve the lot of the poor, many of whom live in miserable conditions in the state, he said. He is for a heavy cut on the expenditure on the government. “We can afford to cut expenditure on the government,” he asserts.

Manpreet, who did bar-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn in London after doing Masters in history with honours from Stephen’s College, Delhi, is a voracious reader. He reads a lot about political economy.

He said he would seek the cooperation from the union government to put Punjab on fast-growth trajectory. NRIs would be asked to invest in the state liberally. Bureaucracy would be urged to make the environment investment friendly in the state.

“All bottlenecks impeding the path of growth of the state will be removed at the earliest possible with the help of all concerned,” he said. “For me it is a make or break situation,” he said.

“Our social indicators do not cheer us. We have to do a lot to achieve better standards in the field of education, health, sanitation, urban infrastructure and environmental sectors,” he said.

Manpreet, who loves to talk in Urdu and to quote the verses of political awakened poets like Faiz and Iqbal, says the SAD-BJP had put in place its manifesto before the Assembly elections. 


Action against Dimpa, errant cops hinted
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wadala Kalan (Beas), March 7
Unfolding the list of police officials, who had allegedly tortured the Akali leaders following Vigilance raids, Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, said such officials would be brought to book for resorting to unconstitutional third degree methods during the Congress regime.

He, however, hastened to add that his government would initiate action against such officials as per law of the land and personal vendetta won't come in the way.

Addressing an election rally on the ground of Government High School, here today, Badal said his government would not act in revengeful manner but those who had deliberately targeted the Akali leaders to please the former government would not be spared.

Interestingly, Badal asked Manjinder Singh Kang, Akali candidate from Beas, to name senior police officer who had tortured him during the custody. When Kang revealed the name of the IPS officer, Badal directed his personal staff to record his name in the diary who had given him electric shocks. Badal said he saw Kang in a critical situation when he visited the hospital after his arrest by the Vigilance department.

Giving clear signals to take action against the beleaguered Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa, he said his government would also order inquiry into the alleged illegal buses belonging to Dimpa. Badal said his government would ensure that good officials were given appropriate reward.

He called upon the public to cooperate the government in its drive against stamping out corruption. Badal announced to give Rs 10,000 from his own pocket to a complainant who got the SDM, Shahkot , Bakhtawar Singh, arrested while taking a bribe of Rs 50,000. He said those who would help in arresting corrupt officials would be rewarded.

After distributing portfolios,Badal addressed about 12 election rallies in Beas, including Chowk Mehta, Dhardeo, Dhulka, Khilchian and Rayya. Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, SAD, and Manpreet Singh Badal, finance minister, and other cabinet ministers also addressed the election rallies.


Show-cause notice to Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Bir Devinder Singh, a former MLA from Kharar, is among 10 Congressmen who have been served show-cause notices by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee for alleged anti-party activity in the recently concluded Assembly elections in the state.

They have been asked to explain their position by March 20. In case no reply is filed ex parte proceedings will start, said a press release of the Congress. The leaders include Pawan Kumar Adiya, chairman, Improvement Trust, Hoshiarpur, Raja Balbir Sodhi, chairman, Improvement Trust, Phagwara, Sawinder Singh Kathunangal, a former MLA, Majitha, Bir Divinder Singh, Harnek Singh Gharuan, a former minister, Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, a former OSD to Amarinder Singh, Kishan Chand Bains of Gurdaspur, Harjit Singh Parmar, a former chairman, Improvement Trust, Phagwara, B.B. Maini of Mohali and Mehar Singh of Gurdaspur. 


PSEB accepts suggestions of study group 
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 7
The Punjab State Electricity Board has accepted the recommendations of the high-level study group headed by Chief Engineer (North) Parminder Singh Sandhu,which visited Andhra Pardesh to assess power system there. The PSEB now has started steps to prevent kundi connections especially in rural areas and introduced a scheme to reduce power loss.

Parminder Singh Sandhu said here today that all nine lakh tubewells of the state would be connected directly to power transformers and all low-tension wires would be removed to save power and prevent kundi connections in different phases. Mr Sandhu said, the scheme was being implemented and 30,000 tubewells had been provided transformers till now.

The engineer-in-chief said the Union Government had sanctioned Rs 2700 crore for this scheme under the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programmes and the PSEB was working on “No LTW (Low Tension Wires) No Loss”. He said power theft could be prevented. He said the PSEB was facing 24 per cent power loss in the state, but in his area it was only 16.4 per cent, which would be reduced by 2 per cent more in a few months. He claimed the PSEB could avoid raising tariff for one year by saving only 1 per cent power and if the Board was able to save more increase in power tarrif could be avoided for more years.

To a question on power theft in urban areas, Sandhu said that the PSEB was identifying “power theft prone areas” in the urban areas and a new scheme had been introduced for these areas under which meters pillar boxes would be set up for 20 houses near the houses and all 20 meters would be set up in these boxes under seal to prevent power theft.

On power shortage the Chief Engineer said the PSEB had deposited Rs 100 crores as advance with private companies engaged in 14 thermal and hydel projects to get 2250 MW power ie Rs 1 crore per 200MW.

These private companies were generating power in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. He said the PSEB needed total 11,000 MW power daily and the PSEB was purchasing power from other states through the “Power Trading Corporation” he said.

On Billing the Board would soon introduce ‘Sumuterised Sport Billing Scheme’ in which the board had invited tenders from private firms, employees of which will go from door to door to get meter reading and prepare and hand over electricity bill on the spot. Sandhu said these private employees would collect e-Bills payments and issue required receipts on the spot and the PSEB would pay Rs 2 to Rs 3 for each power connection.

The scheme would be introduced in 12 divisions of Ludhiana this month, and would be implemented in the state in phases. Training programme for the employees was being conducted in Ludhiana, Sandhu said.

To another question on computerization of the system the Engineer said the PSEB was considering to introduce e-filing of the payments of the electricity bills.

He added the PSEB was also working on a scheme in which “One computerised complaint centre would be set up in one town which will receive complaints and forward these to the offices concerned for redressal.

The PSEB reportedly suffered losses of Rs 2000 crore due to delay in the revision of tariff which was withheld due to Assembly elections in the state.

In view of assembly elections the PSEB had not applied for the revision of tariff, while it used to be done in the month of November every year and the PSEB applies for tariff revision for the next year, but board officials did not submit papers to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) under political pressure.


Urbanisation affecting life: Experts

Amritsar, March 7
With the fast pace urbanisation in the world, the quality of life is declining while poverty is increasing.

This was sated by K.L. Sharma, former vice-chancellor, Rajasathan University, while inaugurating a two-day national seminar on "Quality of Life in Urbanising World" organised by the Department of Sociology, Guru Nanak Dev University, under the UGC special assistance programme here today. He said the West had nearly 90 per cent urban population, whereas in India less than 30 per cent people were living in the urban areas.

He said urbanisation had improved the quality of life for many but it had also affected the other section of society. More wages did not necessarily imply a better quality of life and vice-versa.

Vice-Chancellor Jai Rup Singh in his presidential remarks spoke about the need for synthesising the ill and good affects of the urbanising world. He said that the fundamental flaw was due to faulty planning. There was a need for visionary planners of urbanisation.


Widow awaiting pension for 2 years 
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 7
The Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) has been representing the Centre to grant two pensions to widows of ex-servicemen who drew two pensions during their lifetime, but the government has not granted the same so far.

Surinder Kaur, widow of Nk Malkeet Singh of Ghaggar Serai village in the district, has been a victim of apathy of the principal controller, defence accounts (PCDA), pensions, Allahabad.

Rules provide for only one pension, whichever is opted for, to such widows.

If the widow opts for the civil pension of her husband, she is required to produce a non-grant of family pension certificate, which is issued by the PCDA, after the cancellation of a joint notification PPO in respect of her husband.

Unless it is issued by the PCDA, the widow does not get her pension from the civil department where her late husband had served.

Malkeet died in harness while serving in the Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala, on March 15, 2005.

Surinder Kaur had opted for the family pension from the PSEB, Patiala, instead of the Army.

The civil department demanded a non-grant of family pension certificate, which she could not procure from the PCDA even after two years, in spite of writing to the office concerned in the Army many times.

The defence pension disbursing office, Patiala, had written to the records officer, records signals, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, in this regard.

The records officer, records signals, Jabalpur, had requested the PCDA to issue the certificate.

The adamant PCDA had been sleeping over the case so far.


Manmohan’s next flick on illegal immigrants
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 7
Renowned producer-director Manmohan Singh, who has had a hat trick of successful Punjabi films, today shot some sequences of his forthcoming venture “Mitti Wajaa Maardi” at Khemuana village, near here.

Closely associated with the Yash Raj camp, he has revived Punjabi cinema with films like “Jee Aya Nu”, “Asa Nu Maan 
Vatna Da” and “Dil Apna Punjabi”.

Addressing a press conference, he said his new film is a story of a US-born Punjabi who falls in love with a girl during his maiden visit to Punjab. The story also dwells upon the travails of illegal immigrants, a burning issue in the state.

He urged the state government to check piracy besides taking other necessary steps to promote Punjabi films. “Mitti Wajaa Maardi” has an impressive line-up of stars in the form of Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann, Miss World Punjaban 2006 Japji Khera, Vivek Shauk, Deep Dhillon and satirist Gurpreet Ghuggi. The film's story has been penned by Baldev Gill, while Babu Singh Mann has written its lyrics.


Rs 24 lakh for research on Sikh history
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
The UGC has sanctioned Rs 24 lakh to the Guru Nanak Studies Department of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) for research on Sikh philosophy and religion, comparative study of religion and Sikh history. The UGC has provided this grant to the university under the Special Assistance Programme (SAP) for a period of five years.

Balwant Singh Dhillon of Guru Nanak Studies Department has been appointed as the coordinator of this research project. In addition, two posts of project fellows have also been sanctioned for the project. Giving details, Dhillon said the department would follow an inter-disciplinary approach to conduct research on Sikh philosophy and religion, comparative study of religion and Sikh history.

In addition to improving the infrastructure, Dhillon said, this grant would be utilised to carry out field work and to host national level seminars on Sikh studies.


‘Analyse Namdhari literature’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 7
A national seminar on “Historian and the region: The 20th century”, organised by the ICHR and the ICSSR at the department of history, Punjabi University, concluded here yesterday. Delegates from all over India participated in the seminar.

Raj Kumar Hans from the M.S. University, Baroda, in his paper on “Difficulties of historians in doing history of Gujarat as a region: A historiographical exploration”, underlined the dearth of regional history in Gujarat.

Venugopalan Nair from the Goa University, in his paper on “State, land and peasant: Histories from Goa”, stated that the historiography of Goa had for long been dominated by historians, whose main focus had been institutions bearing a distinct Portuguese character. He emphasised the need for a relook at the Indo-Portuguese historiography with the bulk of documentations in the Goa archives and oral traditions.

Prof Jigar Mohammed, in his paper on “Modern historiography of Jammu and Kashmir state”, critically analysed the historical works of modern scholars on the history of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ladakh region.

S.S. Sohal from the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, in his paper on “Prof Brij Narain’s nationalist critique of colonial economy of the Punjab (1919-47)”, attempted to situate Prof Brij Narain’s nationalist critique of colonial economy in a historical perspective to understand its long-term working in Punjab.

K.L. Tuteja from the Kurukshetra University gave a detailed critical analysis of Ruchi Lam’s contribution to the historical writings on the gurudwara reform movement. Joginder Singh from Amritsar, in his paper on “Constructing Namdhari history”, emphasised the need for analysing the textual literature of the Namdharis, which had remained unexplored.

Nangal Singh from Patiala, in his paper on “Polity and the formation of region: The study of Patiala”, stated that on the basis of recent historiography, region formation could be established in a new way.

Sukhmani Bal, Sheena Pall and Karamjit Malhotra from Chandigarh also presented papers during the seminar.

The seminar concluded with the valedictory address by Prof Indu Banga from the Panjab University, Chandigarh. Speaking on “Regional approach and the study of Punjab history”, she identified the variables which could be used by the historians for the study of regions in terms of geography, demography, administrative and territorial units and interplay of social, cultural and economic factors.


Seminar on ‘cause of death certificate’

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 7
The district health department organised a seminar for medical officers in the district on the medical certificate of cause of death here yesterday.

Dr S.M.S Sidhu, civil surgeon, inaugurated the seminar. At least 40 medical officers and other staff members participated in it.

A team from the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare and the Directorate of Census imparted training to medical officers for investigating and locating the exact cause of death. J.K. Sharma highlighted the importance of the cause of death certificate.

He cleared misunderstandings and doubts of medical officers to determine the cause of death. Medical officers had an interactive session, in which Sharma answered their queries. — OC


New fast food joint

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 7
McDonald’s yesterday opened its outlet at Patarsi village in the district on national highway 1. Joint venture partner and managing director Vikram Bakshi inaugurated it. He said it was the latest offering in the state and would be a destination itself. 
— OC


Badals case: Verdict on March 9

Ropar, March 7
After hearing arguments from both sides on the issue of framing of charges, the special court judge G.S. Saran today reserved his order on a plea moved by the Punjab Government seeking further probe in a corruption case involving Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and members of his family in view of income tax reports and also on other issues raised by defence counsel for March 9.

Other issues raised by the defence counsels before the court pertains to seeking information about the status of public servant witnesses in the case, seeking contempt proceedings against the prosecution for taking a different stand in the apex court, high court and special court regarding the charges to be framed against Sukhbir Badal and concealing the facts about tax reports. Besides it, the defence counsels had also raised an issue of termination of charges against the Badals and other accused in the case.

In another plea moved by public prosecutor Pradeep Mehta today, on behalf of Punjab Government, he asked the Special Court to dispose of the petition for grant of formal permission to conduct further investigation before deciding and adjudicating all other issues regarding the hearing on the charges.

On the other hand, Badals counsel while completing their arguments, said the Badals deserved to be discharged after IT reports gave them the clean chit. — TNS


Farmers’ gamble pays off
Cotton crosses Rs 2,500 mark
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 7
It seems that the farmers who gambled to hold back their stock has ultimately paid off, as cotton prices in the region have shot up to Rs 2,500 per quintal. It fetched as high as Rs 2,524 per quintal in the local market today.

Former chairman of the north India cotton association Ashok Kapoor said the farmers, middlemen and stockists, who held back their cotton, were cashing in on this sudden price hike. He said the cotton prices had crossed Rs 2,500 mark in 2003 also when it reached a high of Rs 2,850 per quintal. He attributed the rise in prices to cotton arrivals not picking up to the expectation following a spell of bad weather and the assembly elections.

Kapoor said though the crop size was much better than the last year’s, but the reduced availability at the fag end of the season had contributed to the price rise. He said while cash-rich mills had enough stock with them, a section of mills with limited stock pressed the panic button, which added fuel to the fire and the prices shot up further.

He said a majority of North Indian mill owners prefer Punjab's cotton due to its better quality, easy transportation and lower tax burden. He said the scarcity, which should have occurred in summer season, was being felt now and everyone holding cotton stock was talking bullish. Ruling out a major decline in cotton prices in the near future, he said it had reached a point of no return.

Kapoor said the farmers who were firm on their decision to hold back their stock had been fully compensated. He said out of the estimated production of 46 lakh bales in North India, 43 lakh bales had already arrived in the region's market by February end.

Harnek Singh, a farmer, says: "I came here expecting a price of about Rs 2,400, but when bidding of my produce headed close to Rs 2,500 I felt that my risk of holding back the stock has borne fruit." 


Progress of govt schemes reviewed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 7
Deputy commissioner Jaspreet Talwar reviewed the progress of government-sponsored schemes for the agricultural sector and weaker sections of society during a meeting of the standing committee of banks here yesterday.

She urged banks to disburse loans sanctioned under government-sponsored schemes immediately.

She called for the strengthening of coordination with government departments and officials concerned so that loan-seekers did not face difficulty.

She directed banks to open savings accounts to encourage the habit of saving.

She said of the target of Rs 691.46 crore of banks for loans, Rs 698.62 crore had been disbursed.

She directed banks to disburse loans of upto Rs 25,000 without security and issue self-employment credit cards upto Rs 25,000 by March 31.

She called upon child development project officers, women’s programme development officers and banks to form as many self-help groups as they could.

She directed district coordinators to go to rural areas to spread the message.

NABARD AGM Ashwani Mahajan said 989 self-help groups had been formed in the district and 839 had been provided loans by various banks.

He impressed upon banks and departments to identify cases under capital investment subsidy schemes for organic farming and under interest subsidy schemes for dairy, poultry and water harvesting schemes for SC and ST farmers.


Camp for farming women
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 7
Former minister Sajjan Kumar Jakhar today inaugurated a four-day training camp for farming women sponsored by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) at Khuyiansarwar village in this subdivision.

He complimented the Asia’s largest cooperative society for launching the project in the remote area of the state close to the inter-state and international border. He said he was pleased to know that the rural women who had not been able to visit even the city due to financial and social constraints would be taken to the soft-toy manufacturing unit and international border during the programme.

This, he said, coincided with the International Women’s Day and should be termed as a positive move towards women empowerment.

IFFCO area manager Amarjit Singh said IFFCO, having increased its sale to 82 lakh tonne in fertilisers, was expected to achieve 100-lakh tonne target by the year-end. 


Administrative reshuffle after March 9
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Minutes after joining as the chief secretary of Punjab, Ramesh Inder Singh today reiterated the stand of the SAD-BJP government saying there would be “no witch hunt and no vendetta, though anybody who has committed a wrong will have to face the law”. He said an administrative reshuffle would be carried out after March 9.

After the scrapping of the state Vigilance Commission, the Vigilance Bureau will be headed by the chief secretary and his role in the registering of cases of corruption, if any, will be crucial.

The new chief secretary, who took over around 3 p.m., avoided comment when asked about his opinion on scrapping Section 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. 


Duping Youth 
Many travel agents in dock, few convicted
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 7
The police may have booked several travel agents for duping those aspiring to go abroad; but few convictions due to lack of evidence has enabled agents to continue with their vocation.

At least two cases being registered against travel agents every month in the district for duping youths, who desire to settle abroad, many are feeling concerned and demanding check on the activities of the agents.

Observers maintain with shrinking landholdings and fewer opportunities of work here, youths visit travel agents for help in getting visas to go abroad. However, many are left with shattered dreams as even after paying hefty amounts to travel agents, they are unable to go abroad.

Some travel agents even promise rewarding jobs to the aspirants for which they charges extra money.The charges may vary between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh depending upon the circumstances. Generally travel agents charges anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh for preparing documents required for visa. The agents make promises of getting visa of the desired country.

After failing to reach promised land, the youths find themselves and their parents in debt and some even have to sell properties to repay the debt. Narinder Singh an aspirant who could not make it to the USA said it was his dream to settle abroad. Out of teens, Narinder approached a travel agent who made tall claims and assured him that if could pay around Rs 15 lakh, he could settle in the USA.

It is not an isolated instance, many like Narinder are looking forward to settle abroad. This craze to settle abroad has led not only to mushrooming of travel agencies across the district but has also provided agents with opportunities to cheat. Senior police officials stated that maximum complaints received in connection with alleged cheating were against the travel agents. Though many are booked but they are rarely convicted as the victims are not in possession of any proof of money transactions that took place between them and the agents and thus the agents go scot free. Police said in some cases the aggrieved persons strike a compromise with the accused to recover a smaller amount to money paid to the agent by them.

Sources in the police confided the conviction rate in such cases was quite low. “There are only a few cases in which the victims were in possession of documents that could prove dishonesty of the travel agents, said a senior police official. He maintained despite some shortcomings in checking the travel agents, the police was making efforts to protect citizens from such persons.


SI’s bid to abduct 2 girls foiled, held
Tribune Reporters

Tarn Taran, March 7
A drunkard sub-inspector, Satwinder Singh (32), was overpowered by two girls with the support of public when he allegedly made an attempt to kidnap them in front of a Government Senior Secondary School, at pistol point, here today .

The girls mustered courage to cling to a window of Santro (PB10 AY 4667) of the sub-inspector and raised an alarm. He was allegedly beaten up by angry persons in the full public view before he was handed over to the police.

Police sources said the culprit had earned bad reputation for such incidents in the past and remained under suspension for sometime.

P.K.Rai, the district police chief, confirmed the arrest of the accused under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. 


70 LPG cylinders seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 7
The police during a raid today seized 70 LPG cylinders from a house and arrested three persons under section 420, IPC, and section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.

According to sources, the police in view of complaints from consumers on black marketing of LPG and under-weight cylinders, this afternoon raided a house located in Street 10 of Idgah Basti, a slum area near the Johri Mandir road, and reportedly nabbed an employee of a gas agency red-handed along with his two assistants.

They were identified as Brajesh Kumar, Rambir and Suresh Kumar. Their friend Ram Parkash fled.

The police seized 67 filled and three empty cylinders, besides equipment used for filling the LPG cylinders. The owner of Bharat Gas agency, however, feigned ignorance on the conduct of the employee.


Heroin, fake currency seized
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 7
The BSF foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs and fake currency into Indian territory. According to BSF sources, at 1.30 am today morning, BSF men Vinod Auren and Surinder Kumar, deputed at border outpost Bahadur Ke spotted some movement along the cobra fencing near Indo-Pakistan border in Fazilka sector.

The two jawans after getting instructions from Subedar Vir Singh, opened gun fire to prevent any attempt to infiltrate inside Indian territory. BSF Commandant Sham Lal Sharma said as BSF jawans opened fire, smugglers ran away and escaped leaving a consignment of drugs and fake currency meant to be smuggled into India.

BSF officials recovered 9 kg of heroin and fake Indian currency worth Rs 1,12,500/- from the spot. Fake currency notes were in denomination of Rs 500/-. DIG Mohammed Akil, Commandant Sham Lal Sharma, Commandant Ajaib Singh and other senior BSF officers reached the spot.


China keen on joint academic plans
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
China is keen to have collaborative academic programme with Indian universities in the field of higher education. In this context, China has already signed agreements with Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University.

This was revealed by Sun Xin Quan, first secretary, educational department of embassy of the People's Republic of China in India, during an interaction with Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Jai Rup Singh and other senior faculty members of the university here today.

Quan said his country, through the Chinese Embassy at Delhi, was in touch with the University Grants Commission and the Association of Indian Universities for faculty and student exchange programmes with the Indian universities. This process, he said, would be completed by the end of this year. These academic exchange programmes are being initiated under the MoU already signed between India and China.

The Chinese first education secretary said China is attracting Indian students for higher studies for which sufficient knowledge of English language is compulsory. In China, the language at pre-school stage is only Chinese. In India, he said, there is a diversity of languages at the regional level but in China, the national language is Chinese.

He further said in China, there were 650 colleges and universities in various provinces. China University of Political Science and Law was eager to explore the opportunities of cooperation with Indian universities in the field of law. He said under the China-India Agreement, all disciplines of science, applied science, social science, life science, language and culture could be covered for academic cooperation with the various Indian universities.

Earlier, Jai Rup Singh said GNDU was interested in having academic collaboration with the Chinese universities in the areas of science, social science, law. but before signing the agreement financial and other administrative implications would have to be sorted out.


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