P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dhillon, others apply for bail
Liquor case: Cong MLA’s name in FIR
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 17
PPCC vice-president and Barnala MLA Kewal Singh Dhillon has come under the scanner of the local police as it is investigating an old case against him pertaining to recovery of huge quantity of liquor. Apprehending his arrest Dhillon has moved an application in local court for seeking anticipatory bail. The bail application will be taken on April 19.

A day prior to the Assembly elections, the Barnala police had recovered 1,441 cases of country-made liquor from a godown near the residence of Dhillon. The police had also recovered 12 kg poppy-husk from a car parked in the godown. The police had registered an FIR under the Excise and the NDPS Act against unknown persons as nobody had come forward to claim this liquor.

Then after a few days after the elections, Gurjinder Singh came forward to claim this liquor. A local court had sent him to judicial custody but when the police declined to accept his claim, he was released.

Soon after Congress block president Balwant Singh Sekha, whose close relatives owned the godown from where liquor was seized, presented an affidavit to the police that he had nothing to do with this liquor.

He said he had given this property to Kewal Singh Dhilon on oral terms for use as an election office.

Now the Barnala police, after an inquiry held by the SP(D), has included Kewal Singh Dhillon, his son Kanwar Inder Singh Dhillon and Balwant Singh Sekha in the case. Apprehending arrest, both Dhillon and Sekha have separately moved an application seeking anticipatory bails.

Meanwhile, Dhillon has termed his inclusion in the case as an outcome of political vendetta.


Four Nihangs expelled from Dal
Followers asked to boycott them
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 17
In a significant development, which could initiate a war of succession in the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal (Panjwan Takht), four Nihangs belonging to the sect, who allegedly attacked another follower Balbir Singh on April 15 with fire arms, have been expelled from the Dal by its head Baba Santa Singh.

At a meeting of leaders of Nihangs, a resolution was passed in which the followers of the sect were asked to boycott the four expelled Nihangs.

The four, Surjeet Singh, Paramjit Singh, Malkit Singh and Sukhbir Singh, allegedly attacked Balbir Singh with fire arms while he was coming out of Degsar gurdwara on April 15 after attending the bhog of Akahnd Path.

Though Balbir Singh escaped unhurt, Prince, a 14-year boy, suffered bullet injuries and was shifted to Civil Hospital, Bathinda, in serious condition. A case was registered against the attackers and their unidentified accomplices at the local police station.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Surjeet Singh was harbouring animosity against Balbir Singh after he (Balbir Singh) was tipped as successor of Baba Santa Singh. After Balbir Singh parted company with Baba Santa Singh about a decade ago, Surjeet Singh, who was close to Baba Santa Singh, was tipped to be his successor.

Baba Santa Singh said action against Surjeet Singh and others had been taken as they tried to kill Balbir Singh when he was going towards his (Santa Singh’s) room after performing the bhog Akahnd Path in Degsar gurdwara.

Meanwhile, the local Judicial Magistrate remanded Surjeet Singh and his accomplices, who were involved in the attack, to two days’ police custody when they were produced in his court last evening.


CLU issue: Crucial meeting today
Varinder Walia/TNS

Amritsar , April 17
The crucial high-level meeting, convened by Som Parkash, Chief Administrator, PUDA, will be held at Mohali tomorrow to assess the change of land-use (CLU) approvals, granted to promoters of mega-housing projects in the state by the previous government.

The meeting will be attended by Directors, Pollution Control Board, Industries, Local Bodies and Chief Town Planners. Earlier, few days after the formation of the SAD-BJP government, the state had withdrawn the CLU approvals granted to promoters of mega-housing projects in the state. The development had created panic among the builders, investors and even bankers in the wake of the huge investment involved. So much so, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had revoked all no-objection certificates (NOCs) issued to promoters of residential colonies, following a decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Chief Administrator, PUDA, said the report on the CLU would be completed within a fortnight after collecting data from the field. He said it would be sent to the state government for necessary action.

It is learnt that during the Congress rule many promoters had got approvals within a short period. The former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, himself had inaugurated one of the PUDA approved mega project on the Wagah Bypass here that led to rise in property prices.

On the other hand, some of the builders have reportedly received notices for constructing multiplexes in the periphery of Ram Bagh, Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a protected national monument.


Contempt: Chahal not coming to court today
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, will not be present in the Punjab and Haryana High Court when a Full Bench resumes hearing of the contempt case against him.

Chahal is learnt to have moved an exemption application in the High Court, praying that in view of his ill-health and ongoing medical treatment, he should be granted exemption from personal appearance.

It is also learnt that Chahal has appended a medical certificate issued by a hospital in Scotland, which says that he needs to undergo angioplasty.

Chahal and a former officer of the Punjab Sports Department are facing contempt of court proceedings for their questionable role in an important file pertaining to the selection of DSPs under the sportspersons category by the previous government going missing. The file had been ordered to be produced before the Bench hearing the matter.

While setting aside the selections made by the government, the court had issued contempt notice to Chahal and another. Sometime back, the court had observed that after going through the file relating to the alleged contempt of court committed by Chahal it was of the opinion that it “was the worst case of contempt of court in the history of judicial administration”. It had also refused to grant exemption from personal appearance to Chahal.

On March 21, the last hearing, Chahal was missing from that court while his lawyer had informed the court that he was unwell and had been advised complete bed-rest by a doctor in Glasgow (Scotland).

The medical certificate issued by Dr V.K. Madhok of Glasgow, which was submitted in the court on the last hearing, had said Chahal was diagnosed a patient of uncontrolled hypertension and chest pain suggestive of angina.

However, the amicus curiae assisting the court in the matter had questioned the veracity of the medical certificate, alleging that it seemed to have been procured.

Thereafter, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain, Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice Surya Kant had given four weeks’ time to him and directed him to be present in court on April 18.

However, in his latest application Chahal has not given any time-frame for exemption from personal appearance. Tomorrow, the court will deal with the latest plea by Chahal.


Raids at chemist shops, intoxicants seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 17
Three teams of doctors, including drug inspectors, set up by the state health authorities, today carried out raids at 14 chemist shops in various parts of the district and made huge seizure of intoxicants.

Till the filing of the report, the team, which carried out the raids, had seized 12,000 tablets, 600 capsules, 250 bottles of cough syrup and 150 injections, used for intoxication, from most of the shops. The full details of the recovery would be made by tomorrow.

This is the second biggest raid conducted by the district health authorities with the support of state health authorities in the past three weeks. Earlier, a team of the district health authorities carried out raids on four chemist shops in Rampura Phul and all four chemists were found selling intoxicants 
to people.

Ajay Singla, assistant drug controller, Punjab, who along with civil surgeon, Bathinda, Manjinder Singh, monitored the raids, said the teams, which carried out raids , were sent to different parts so that kinds of chemist shops could be covered.

He said the shops included Devindra Medico, Vishal Medico, Kansal Medical (Bathinda town), Klair Medical and Mathura Dass Medical (Rampura), Rajasthan Medical and New Sidhu Medical (Kotshamir village).The names of other shops were yet to be confirmed. He said so far it could not be known whether these shops were selling drugs illegally.



Evolve guidelines for mentally ill inmates: Prisons reforms report
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The report on prison reforms in Punjab calls for guidelines to manage mentally ill prisoners held in custody in the jails of the state. Underscoring the need for a new prisons act and new prisons manual, the report lays down rules for reconfiguration of prisons to consolidate prison resources of the state. It suggests ways of energising the system of listing jail visitors, who are watchdogs of jail administration. While proposing a prisons corporation to evolve measures for the correction of inmates, the report recommends a permanent prisons commission to advice the state on the development of prisons administration on a uniform basis.

Submitted to Punjab chief minister recently, the report examines the futility of having 26 prisons and suggests phasing out of prisons except those at Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Sangrur which, it says, should be upgraded to house more prisoners. Drafted by A.P. Bhatnagar, adviser (prisons), Punjab, it proposes five new prisons at Kapurthala, Nabha, Tanwandi Bhai, Amritsar and Bathinda. The rest, it argues, should be sold off to facilitate purchase of land for new jails. These jails should be spread over 50 to 100 acres to enable the provision of rehabilitative measures.

In an interview with The Tribune today, Bhatnagar explained the logic behind reconfiguration of prisons: “There are 26 jails in Punjab; of these 12 are sub-jails and five district jails. Earlier, these prisons were necessary to keep the undertrials close to courts and ensure security by preventing their escape during transit. But now, with video conferencing in place in courts and prisons, the need for frequent travel of prisoners to courts will not arise. That’s why the proposed reduction in the number of prisons.” The proposal is important considering some jails in Punjab are as old as 100 years.

Role of gadgetry has also been stressed by Bhatnagar, who recommends a control room for each prison. Major chunk of the document is, however, devoted to segregation, correction and rehabilitation of prisoners, with emphasis on the care of the mentally ill inmates. For this, Bhatnagar relies heavily on the report of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), which comprehensively deals with guidelines for protection of human rights of mentally ill undertrials.

“A scientific system for segregation of prisoners is a must. So is a facility for the treatment of mentally ill inmates. We must accept the fact that our prisons have inmates with mental problems. Denial is no solution,” says Bhatnagar, while recommending a Punjab Prisons Corporation with head of the prisons department as chairman. “This corporation should run vocational activities by collaborating with the private sector. The arrangement should be made on a profit-sharing basis,” says Bhatnagar, while demanding that official and non-official jail visitors should be people who understand the sensitivity of their role.

The report, it may be mentioned, was inspired by a public interest litigation filed in the high court last year. The PIL called for improved conditions in Punjab jails and provision of proper care and support facilities to prisoners. 


Parliamentary secys’ appointment
Attempt to circumvent central law

Ludhiana, April 17
The appointment of 14 chief parliamentary secretaries (11 on Monday and three earlier) by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has raised many questions of propriety and the way the present political system functions in the country. There was no limit for appointing ministers in the Constitution.

The Amarinder Singh’s government had also appointed chief parliamentary secretaries and parliamentary secretaries. But the number was less than the present strength. In fact, it is an attempt to circumvent the central legislation restricting the number of ministers and the indications are that the present appointments are likely to raise some dust within the ministry and will also affect the functioning of the government. The BJP has already demanded that the parliamentary secretaries should be attached to the ministers and need to have some powers to oversee the departmental affairs. How the Chief Minister will be able to manage this is to be watched.

In addition to this the major coalition partner, the SAD has to see that its image is not blurred. Badal and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal have already indicated that the financial health of the state is not satisfactory. The burden of Rs 3 crore on the state exchequer will surely tell on the fiscal arrangements. It is interesting that such appointments have been challenged by the party which was earlier in the Opposition. Such appointments were described as offices of profit and the SAD had moved the Election Commission. What the people of the state have to watch is the political implications that might follow and consequent threat to the stability of the present government.

Badal is also planning to revive the Upper House - the Punjab Legislative Council (Punjab Vidhan Parishad). It was abolished by the Gurnam Singh government, which described it as a burden on the state exchequer. It was during Beant Singh’s tenure that a resolution was passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha seeking the revival of the Punjab Legislative Council. But after his death, the matter was not persuaded. Outgoing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also tried to revive it. Even Badal is keen to revive because he finds many of his close associates of his party having been worsted in the elections. Moreover, Chief Minister needs to satisfy the aspirations of all who have remained out of power.


42 villages to be in Lehragaga subdivision
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 17
With a view to translating into actuality the announcement of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to give subdivision status to Lehragaga sub-tehsil, the district administration had sent a proposal a week ago to the financial commissioner (revenue), Punjab. As per the proposal 15 villages of the Gaga Kanungoi circle and 27 villages of the Lehra Kanungoi circle are to be included in the proposed new Lehragaga subdivision.

Though for the time being only these 42 villages will be included in the Lehragaga subdivision, the adinistration has also sought consent from the panchayats of the villages of Kanungois Dirba, Chhajli and Sular about their inclusion in the proposed subdivision. After getting consent in the form of resolutions from the panchayats, a separate proposal to include them in the subdivision will be sent to the state government.

The names of 15 villages of the Gaga Kanungoi Circle, to be included in new Lehragaga subdivision are, Gaga, Khokhar, Chingaliwala, Nagla, Sangtiwala, Gidariyani, Ladaal, Hariayo, Daska, Ratta Kherra, Phlera, Kanakwal Bhangua, Daula Singh Wala, Sangatpura and Fatehgarh.

The names of 27 villages of the Lehra Kanungoi circle are, Lehra, Arkwas, Khai, Ghodenab, Kalbanjara, Ramgarh Sandua, Khandewal, Rai Dhariayana, Bhutal Kalan, Lehal Kalan, Lehal Khurd, Bakhaura Kalan, Bhkhaura Khurd. Gurne, Churarah Khurd, Churarah Kalan, Kalian, Chotian, Alampur, Ali Sher, Jhalur, Rore Wala, Bhai Ke Bhasaur, Shikuwas, Kotla Lehal, Rampura Juwharwala and Gobindpura Juwharwala.

The district administration has also written to the Punjab Government about the building for the SDM’s office by saying there is a good building of the market committee at Lehragaga, so for the time being it will be suitable for the functioning of the SDM’s office while the staff of the market committee can be shifted to a nearby old building.


30 cases settled at sangat darshan

Muktsar, April 17
About 30 cases were settled on the spot while 40 others were handed over to officers’ concerned to sort out the matter with in a week in the second sangat darshan organised by deputy commissioner Vikas Garg and SSP Parmod Ban along with officials of other departments of the district.

Complaints lodged by panchayats and individuals were against the revenue department, district social security officer, PSEB, the police, municipal councils, district welfare officer and health department officials. — TNS


‘Unsigned apology by Mandira unacceptable’

Amritsar, April 17
Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has refused to accept the unsigned apology sent by cricket anchor-cum-model-cum-actress Mandira Bedi in a recent controversy in which she had appeared with a tattoo in a TV show supporting Ek Onkar (God is one).

Vedanti said the matter would be resolved only when the TV anchor appeared before Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs.

Mandira had raked up a controversy when she appeared in a TV channel programme sporting the religious symbol which had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community all over the world. Earlier too, she had generated a controversy three years ago after she gave Sikh names to her two pet dogs saying they were her family members and after protests from the community she had tendered an apology.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has decided to install jammers in and around the Golden Temple complex to curb the use of cell phones which disturb the religious serenity in the complex. — TNS


Bus operators block traffic
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 17
Private bus operators today blocked traffic for more than an hour today in protest against the authorities of toll plaza for breaking the agreement of charging toll once in a day instead for every trip of their vehicles till a decision on the issue by the Punjab government, at Lachowal toll plaza on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda, Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) road.

Blockade left hundreds of passengers, including women and children in buses, cars and trucks, stranded in the sun on the either side of the toll plaza . Later the SHO of the Bulhowal police station intervened and had the traffic resumed.

A spokesman of the agitating transporters said the toll plaza companies had agreed to charge toll once a day instead of for every trip till a final decision on the dispute for which the Chief Minister Punjab had convened a meeting yesterday.


Dimpa’s mother petitions Governor

Chandigarh, April 17
Satvinder Kaur, mother of Jasbir Singh, alias Dimpa, former MLA of Beas, today petitioned the Punjab Governor saying women in her family were being falsely implicated in police cases under political pressure.

Two Congress MLAs, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, also handed over a copy of the petition to DGPN.P.S. Aulakh. The MLAs said the names of the wife of Dimpa and the wife of his brother Harpinderjit Singh had been added in the supplementary challan. — TNS


Foundation stone vandalised
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 17
Some unidentified miscreants vandalised the foundation stone of the Master Gurwanta Singh memorial community hall on the local municipal council premises yesterday.

The stone was laid by former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Council president Narinder Goyal, while strongly condemning the vandalism, threatened to launch an agitation if the police failed to nab the culprits within four days.The community hall is now nearing completion.


16-hr power failure in Malerkotla
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 17"
There was a power breakdown in some areas of Malerkotla last night. Power engineers struggled to resume the supply till today evening.

Electricity went off due to a technical fault in the transformer located near Kali Mata Mandir. The lights went out when an equipment failure ignited a big fire on the power transformer. Residents had to go without power for about 16 hours.

The electricity department officials stated that the equipment is being repaired to handle the situation in future.


Gosain pays obeisance at Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 17
Deputy speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Satpal Gosain after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Temple said today that the government would take steps to meet power shortage in the state besides initiating various developmental projects.

The deputy speaker said the SAD-BJP would fulfill all promises made to the people during the recently held elections. More and more poor people would be brought under the public distribution scheme in which the wheat flour and cereals would be provided at Rs 4 and Rs 20, respectively.


MLA: Oppn impeding development

Mohali, April 17 
Kharar MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said here today that municipal councillors belonging to the opposition group were allegedly trying to create obstacles in the way of development by levelling allegations of discrimination.

Sidhu said it was the responsibility of the council to take care of the development of the town and not only of certain wards. The president of the council had taken this aspect into consideration while putting up items relating to development works on the agenda of the civic body meetings.

He said since the new team of councillors took over in August last year, estimates for development works to the tune of Rs 13.65 crore had been cleared at various meetings. Estimates for works in wards of 12 opposition councillors stood at Rs 5.44 crore. — OC


Death for triple murder convict
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 17
A city court today awarded death sentence to a person who had killed his wife and two children in March 2005.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Karnail Singh sentenced Sushil Kumar of New Raseela Nagar, Basti Danishmanda, to death while pronouncing the judgment today.

Observing the crime as the rarest of the rare, the ASJ held Sushil guilty for the triple murder on the basis of circumstantial evidence as no eyewitness was present when the crime occurred.

However, the death sentence is subjected to be confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court within 90 days of the receipt of the reference required to be sent by the trial court within 30 days of the pronouncement of the judgment, said a city lawyer K.K. Arora.

The ASJ convicted Sushil Kumar on April 13 and reserved his judgment for Tuesday after hearing the arguments of prosecution advocate, deputy DA legal R.L. Khaira, and defence counsel D.S. Cheena.

Sushil had stabbed his wife Pooja, son Jatin and daughter Sophia (4) to death on March 4, 2005, as he reportedly suspected Pooja’s character.

Interestingly, in an attempt to mislead the police, he tried to give the triple murder shape of a robbery and consumed poison to show his `sorrow’ over the deaths of his wife and two children.


high court
PIL seeks special tribunals for poll petitions
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 17
A PIL seeking directions to the Union government and others for setting up special election tribunals to exclusively deal with election petitions came up for hearing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today.

Election petitions, the PIL says, take up much of the time of the courts that could otherwise be utilised to deal with pending cases. The PIL also suggested that election petitions should be decided within six months.

Petitioner advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti has also prayed that in case the government was unable to set up special tribunals for the purpose, it could either appoint more judges in the High Courts for hearing election petitions only.

The PIL also says that services of retired judges could be taken to decide election petitions expeditiously.

Referring to reports in the media which have talked of large number of election petitions having been filed challenging the result for many constituencies in the recent Punjab elections, the petitioner has also pointed to the recent statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Chief Justice of India about the massive backlog of cases in the courts.

Today, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notices for May 11.

Jagjit’s bail plea

Former Punjab local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was on Tuesday directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to approach the court concerned at Ludhiana within three days with his pre-arrest bail plea.

Disposing of the petition filed by the former minister for grant of anticipatory bail, Justice Ranjit Singh also directed the lower court to decide his plea within a week.

Jagjit had moved the High Court for grant of anticipatory bail in the alleged Ludhiana City Centre (LCC) scam in which he is an accused along with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and 18 others, who were recently booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB).

Some days ago, a Ludhiana court had issued the warrants of arrest against Chaudhary Jagjit, former Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) chairman Paramjit Singh Sibia and Congress functionary Capt Rajesh. The three are reported to be absconding.

In his petition, Chaudhary Jagjit had stated that he was being framed in the matter by a vindictive government. He had also stated that he was ready to join investigations and cooperate with the investigation agency.


Inside Babudom
New regime: Will IAS officers be reverted?
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The bureaucracy in Punjab is abuzz with happenings in the past. Questions are being raised if half a dozen-odd IAS officers, who had been promoted into the IAS from the Punjab Civil Services cadre, may face the embarrassment of being reverted ?

The Punjab Government yesterday night re-fixed the seniority of PCS officers and there is a possibility of a reversion actually occurring.

Also more than 20 officers which includes IAS, IPS and PCS officials are “awaiting posting” for the past one month or so. Some of them had handled important assignments in the previous regime. The new regime removed them but have kept them without a posting.

Meanwhile, sources within the government said the seniority issue of PCS officers was decided through an order of the Chief Secretary.

The Supreme Court gave a judgement following which the seniority had to be re-fixed. About half a dozen IAS officers were promoted with a rider that their promotion into the IAS will be subject to the outcome of a pending litigation filed by their colleagues in the PCS.

To demote these officers and to promote new ones as per the re-fixed seniority, the Punjab Government will now have to write to the Union Public Service Commission and also the Government of India detailing the new facts about the seniority of officers.

Sources said the exact number of officers who may have to suffer would be known only when a through review is done on the vacancies, the re-fixed seniority. Also the government may also take some time in actually implementing re-fixed seniority.

As per the new seniority the government has decided that a rota system will be followed.

This means the seniority list will have one officer who came through the competitive examination and the next in seniority will be an officer who was nominated from within the government.

The same will be repeated. Earlier, the nominees were clubbed together and were placed ahead in the seniority list than those who came through competitive examinations.

The ones who came through the examination system had challenged this, saying it was wrong to fix seniority on this basis.

The problem had risen as the batches of the PCS from 1984 to 1986 have a large number of officials.

Since only a limited vacancies exist for further promotion into the IAS, the infighting intensified and the matter carries on.


Licences of 19 ration depots cancelled
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, April 17
The district food and supply controller (DFSC), Bathinda, has got registered criminal cases against two licence holders of ration depots apart from cancelling the licences of 19 depot holders of this subdivision on the directions of the director, Food and Supplies, Punjab, after they were found guilty of making bunglings in the distribution of subsidised food and other items to the beneficiaries.

Not only this, Surinder Gupta, local inspector of the department, has also been placed under suspension for his alleged involvement in facilitating the depot holders to indulge in hanky-panky by the state Food and Supply Department authorities.

A criminal case under Section 7 of the EC Act was registered against the licence holder of Bittu Oil Store and another licence holder Pawan Kumar, both of this town. Out of total 19 depots, whose licences have been cancelled, 11 are located in this town while the remaining eight are located in different villages of this sub division.

In the report submitted to the director, Food and Supply, deputy director, Fields, Food and Supply Department, Bhupinder Pal Singh, alleged that most the depots were found closed when he carried out the checking of ration depots in this area on April 5 and April 6.

Apart from it, a number of depot holders refused to give him the record maintained by them in connection with the receipt and distribution of subsidised food items to the consumers. He also alleged that Surinder Gupta, inspector, Food and Supply, Rampura Phul, did not cooperate with him in the checking process.

However, the cancellation of licenses of 19 depot holder and suspension of Surinder Gupta has created a controversy of sorts as Surinder Gupta in a representation made to the director claimed that Bhupinder Pal Singh did to record the statement of those depot holders, which he found opened during the checking despite the fact that he (Bhupinder Pal Singh) took their record into his custody.

Surinder Gupta also pointed out that neither the statements of the consumers were recorded nor he was given an opportunity to explain his position by Bhupinder Pal Singh before recommending action against him and the depot holders. He added that he was not taken along by Bhupinder Pal Singh when he (Bhupinder Pal Singh) carried out the checking.

On the other hand, a section of depot holders, whose licences have been cancelled in a joint representation moved to the director, Food and Supply, pointed out that they had been distributing the subsidised food items to the beneficiaries as per the directions of the department. They added that they had not been bribing any official of the department to indulge in any hanky panky.

Official sources said that Bhupinder Pal Singh did not take the district food and supply controller, Bathinda, Sukhdev Singh, along when he carried out the checking of the ration depots.

S. P. Singh, director, Food and Supply, Punjab, when contacted, said that representations moved to him by Surinder Gupta and depot holders were being examined and if needed, action would be taken on the same. Bhupinder Pal Singh, when contacted, refused to make any comment.


Sex racket: 9 cops get notices
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 17
Nine policemen, including two ASIs, have been issued notices under Sections 16 and 17 CC (service code of conduct rules) for their alleged involvement in the sex racket that had rocked the region on the arrest of two girls from the girls hostel run by the Department of Social Welfare at Sriganganagar, 40 km from here, on June 25, 2006.

SP Vineeta Thakur reportedly signed the notices on Monday evening. Most of them have been accused of allegedly helping Babita, kingpin of the racket, in fleeing and allowing immoral traffic against receipt of fixed amount every month, sources said.

Those who were served notices include ASIs Loona Ram, Ramesh Kumar and Krishan Pareek, constables Kuldeep Kumar, Rakesh Jhajhria, Ravinder Chauhan, Mangat Kalra, Ragubir and Bharat Kumar.

They have been given 15-day period to explain their conduct. If their explanation is not found satisfactory, an officer not below the rank of the DSP would investigate the case.


Man booked for raping daughter-in-law
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 17
A father-in-law has been booked for raping his daughter-in-law and torturing her for bringing more dowry.

The Tanda police booked Harjinder Singh and his wife Kulvir Kaur of Ganipur Badhana village of Hoshiarpur district last night.

According to police sources, Ranjit Kaur, daughter of Bagicha Singh of Baghiari village, said in a police complaint that she was married to an Army personnel Manvir Singh, son of Harjinder Singh of Ghanipur Badhana,on October 1,2006.

After the completion of annual leave, her husband returned to his unit. In his absence, Harjinder Singh and Kulwinder Kaur allegedly started torturing her to bring more dowry.

She further alleged that on April 14, 2007, when her mother-in-law went to her maternal house and she was alone in the house, her father-in-law allegedly raped her. 


Opposed, lovers commit suicide

Moga, April 17
Faced by opposition from parents, two lovers committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance here today. Their bodies were found on an abandoned piece of land near Kotkapura bypass.

According to the police, the deceased were identified as Baljit Singh, a resident of Jujhar Nagar and Sandeep Kaur of Faridkot. Police sources said that Baljit Singh worked as a lab technician in a private nursing home in the town while Sandeep Kaur, too, worked in the same establishment as a nurse. The sources said that both wanted to get married. However, their parents objected to this inter-caste marriage.

The police said though no suicide note was found from the bodies but preliminary inquiries so far revealed that both had committed suicide out of sheer frustration of not being able to marry each other.

The district police has registered a case. The bodies were shifted to the GGS medical College, Faridkot, for postmortem examination. — TNS


Two killed in accidents
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 17
Two persons, including a minor girl, were killed in separate road accidents on the Patiala-Chandigarh road today.

The driver of an Indica car (HP-62-0673) was killed on the spot when the vehicle collided head-on with a PRTC bus coming from Patiala. The identity of the deceased could not be ascertained immediately. The bus driver has absconded.

In another accident, 15-year-old Manpreet was killed and her maternal uncle Lakhwinder Singh was injured when their motor cycle was allegedly hit from behind by a Scorpio vehicle near Basantpura village.


Slapping: Girls resent GND varsity inaction
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 17
Resentment is brewing up among girl students of Guru Nanak Dev University over yesterday’s incident, in which a boy had slapped a junior girl student, as the varsity authorities were yet to take any action against the accused.

According to sources, the boy is not of good character and often passed comments at the varsity girls. The accused also used to harass the junior students on one pretext or another. Though many complaints had been lodged against him earlier also in this regard, no action had been taken by the authorities concerned.

The accused, a student of M.Sc-II of applied physics, had slapped his junior studying in M.Sc-I of the same department yesterday. The other girls present had immediately reported the matter to the in charge of the department. The accused had hit her so hard that the girl had fainted and had to be shifted to a private hospital after being given first aid at the varsity’s dispensary.

The girls have also submitted a written complaint to vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh and security officer S.S. Chinna and urged them to take strict action against the accused, who had been harassing the girl students of the department for the past couple of years. But the university authorities were yet to take any action in this regard. 


Entrance test dates clash

Chandigarh, April 17
The combined entrance test (CET) of Panjab University, scheduled to be held on May 20, is clashing with the medical entrance test of Delhi University. Students who have applied for both tests have requested the Panjab University to change the date of the CET so that they can appear for both tests.

Prof M.L. Sharma, officer on special duty (entrance tests), said the VC had received representations in this regard but it had been decided that the date of the test would not be changed. “We were the first to announce the test. Other universities announced their dates later,” he said.

The entrance test for MEd of Panjab University, which was scheduled to be held on June 7, will now be held on July 1. According to prof Sharma, the date and time of the other O-CET entrance tests would remain the same. — TNS


PTU merit list

Kharar, April 17
At least eight students of GGS College of Modern Technology, here, have made it to the merit list of B.Tech computer science (seventh semester) of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. These students are Harleen Kaur, Simerpreet Kaur, Gaurav Bakshi, Sandeep Kaur, Neha Dogra, Nalini Thakur, Kavita Chaudhary and Sugandha.

Surinder Pal Sachdeva, chairman, Baljeet Kaur, member of the management, and Dr Gurdip Singh, principal of the college, congratulated the students for securing the first 10 positions of the PTU. — TNS


Poultry farmers up in arms against mega projects
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Poultry farmers in Punjab are up in arms against the integrated poultry projects being sanctioned by the previous Congress government. Demanding a rollback in these projects, these farmers have threatened to take an agitational recourse.

These farmers allege that the big companies coming to the state with these projects will not create any new employment, rather they will wipe out the small poultry framers in the state. They have also expressed fears that the entry of these private companies will lead to over production of poultry products, ultimately leading to a crash in prices, making poultry farming economically unviable.

A meeting of poultry farmers and representatives of the companies setting up these projects has been called by the Minister of Animal Husbandry, Gulzar Singh Ranike, tomorrow to resolve the issue.

So far, Tamil Nadu-based Suguna Farms, Indonesian major Japfa, Venkys and Godrej - have been given a go-ahead to launch poultry farming on contract in Punjab. Venkys started its contract farming operations in the state in April last year, but following a stiff resistance from the poultry farmers, they were forced to rollback their project within six months.

Suguna Farms and Japfa have already launched their operations in the state. These companies will set up hatcheries, breeding farms, chicken processing farm, feed mills and model poultry farms.

Talking to TNS here today, G S Bedi, president of the Amritsar Poultry Industry Association, said integration in poultry farming operations would not just create unemployment among poultry farmers, but also among feed manufacturers, feed dealers, medicine dealers and sales representatives, poultry dealers, slaughterers and poultry equipment dealers as all the work would be done by the companies. “With money power at their command they are bent upon controlling the poultry industry, to dictate terms to poultry farmers, who would be forced to abandon their business,” he said, while adding that there are about 3000 poultry farmers, 20 hatcheries, 30 feed factories, around 300 feed dealers and 1200 poultry products.

Surjit Sagri, chairman of the North Zone Broiler Breeders Association, said over eight crore broilers were produced in the state and 60 per cent of the produce was sold in Jammu and Kashmir.

“When these companies enter the market, they will increase the supply and over production will lead to price reduction and maker broiler farmining economically unviable.

These companies would then force the poultry farmers to come under their control when they incurred losses,” he said. Sagri said even now the companies who have launched their operations have done so with the closed poultry farms, which meant that there was no new employment generation.


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