P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Power bills worth lakhs not paid
Lawmakers breaking rules
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Batala, April 24
Lawmakers have been violating rules with impunity in this subdivision for the past couple of years. Top officials from the various government departments have been causing revenue loss worth lakhs of rupees to the PSEB due to non-payment of electricity bills for the past several years.

The officers in the police, water supply, public health, irrigation, health, revenue and even education departments have caused revenue losses worth Rs 37.10 lakh to the state exchequer by not making payments of the electricity bills of their departments.

Enquiries by The Tribune revealed that the board has not received payments of electricity bills from the Batala SSP (Rs 22,44,000), civil hospital (8,58,000), SDM office and residence (Rs 1,87,000), the department of water supply (Rs 1.81 lakh), irrigation (Rs 97,000), tehsil complex (Rs 95,000), public health (Rs 22,000) and government schools (Rs 23,000).

The revenue department, however, made a payment of Rs 92,710 on March 31, while the no payment was made thereafter.

Sources in the department revealed that the officers keep on changing and they hardly think of clearing dues before leaving to other places of posting.

Senior medical officer, Batala, Sukhdeep Singh, claimed that a payment of Rs 10 lakh was made from the funds issued to the hospital by the state government. The SSP, Batala, RN Dhoke, said he would look into the matter as he was posted here recently.

The SDM Sandeep Rishi claimed the payments would be made shortly.

The PSEB authorities claimed that they have been issuing notices to the officers concerned time and again but the officers concerned instead of making payments of electricity bills settle the cases at top level officials of the board.

When asked why power connections to these defaulters were not cut, an official in the board said that power supply to government department is cut only after the permission of top-brass officials.

Gurvel Singh Balpurian, convener of employees federation, Punjab Electricity Board (Border Range), expressed concern over non-payment of electricity bills worth lakhs of rupees by the government departments. He said bills from government offices would be charged on the same pattern as the general consumer. 


Protect party workers or quit, Preneet tells Dullo
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
“If Shamsher Singh Dullo, president of PPCC, does not find himself capable of protecting Congress workers being victimised by the SAD/BJP government, he should resign from the post and allow Capt Amarinder Singh take over the party,” said Preneet Kaur, Patiala MP and wife of former Chief Minister in an interview today.

She was reacting to the statement of the PPCC president as reported in media today that Capt Amarinder Singh should return to protect the Congress workers. It was a sad state of affairs that despite the PPCC president being present in state, the Congress workers were looking towards the former Chief Minister to protect their interests

It was for the first time that Preneet Kaur reacted sharply to accusations being levelled by the warring Congress camps against her husband and former Chief Minister.

She alleged that party workers in different parts of the state were being victimised. There were reports of registration of illegal cases against Congress workers at Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar and even Mohali. Even the Congress MLA from Bolath was booked on flimsy grounds. However, Dullo had not lent any support to victims of such violence,she said.

When asked about the allegation levelled by Dullo that crores were pumped by aides of the former Chief Minister to ensure his defeat, she said: “If we had such a large amount,we would have liked to invest the amount in ensuring our victory rather than wasting it on defeating someone.”

About the return of Capt Amarinder Singh to Patiala, she said he would return soon, but did not specify the date.

Preneet Kaur held a meeting of her supporters at her residence today and condemned the attack on the Dera Sacha Sauda monument at Mansa. She said it spoke of the intolerance among SAD leaders. “If some religious dera supports the SAD, none of them sees any fault.However, if a dera now declares support for their political adversaries, they are trying to communalise the issue and harm the interests of their followers,”she said.

Preneet Kaur further said she would soon be holding a meeting of Congress workers at Patiala to mobilise them for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections.The Congress would contest the election united to ensure the victory of the party.


Ludhiana City Centre Scam
From whistle-blowers to scamsters
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
From whistle-blowers in the City Centre Scam to the alleged party to the corruption and finally to the alleged nucleus of the entire scam, the role of the accused LIT officials, Chief Engineer Manmohan Singh and Executive Officer D C Garg underwent a rapid change with the progress of the project as well as the irregularities.

Vigilance officials said Manmohan Singh went on to set a 'monthly' fee for allegedly facilitating the irregularities, while D C Garg had allegedly taken a bribe of lakhs of rupees for keeping silent. A sum of Rs 40 lakh recovered from Garg yesterday was part of the booty.

The Vigilance FIR naming 19 accused and the subsequent investigation traces that the two were the first to remind P S Sibia, ex-chairman Ludhiana Improvement Trust, about the violation he was committing in the execution of the project. It was on their report that the senior officials of the state Local Bodies Department, including a Principal Secretary, intervened.

After that the two allegedly joined hands with the consortium of companies, chosen for the project to such an extent that Manmohan Singh set a monthly price for the company officials to allegedly keep mum. He was Superintendent Engineer at that time. He was controversially promoted to the post of Chief Engineer in September last year.

Highly placed Vigilance Bureau officials revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that no doubt Manmohan and Garg were the first to complain to the seniors about the alleged irregularities, but after that they become an active player in the game.

Vigilance officials claim that Manmohan started demanding more and more money from the company officials. They paid him Rs 5 lakh in one go and then another Rs 5 lakh in three instalments. However, as his demands grew, the company officials set him a 'monthly' payment of Rs 1 lakh with mutual understanding that it would last till the project was realised completely.

The Vigilance official said this was apart from the routine presents and cash he allegedly received from the company officials.

The first time their names are mentioned in the case is in the FIR where the officials are said to have reminded the then chairman P S Sibia of the government norms being violated in the opening of the bid. The FIR further said they informed the seniors. 


SAD (A) wants Katara’s membership cancelled
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 24
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) here today condemned the involvement of Member of Parliament Babu Bhai Katara in human smuggling on a fake passport.In a press statement Ram Singh, general secretary of the Dal said parliamentary membership of Katara should be cancelled and legal proceedings initiated against him.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party had history of having such leaders and an ex-president of the party, Bangaru Laxman was also caught taking money.


Chemists sore over minister’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
The Punjab Chemists Association has condemned the statement of Tikshan Sood, minister for medical education and research, that every wholesale medicine dealer should recruit a qualified pharmacist. A convention of the state chemists was held here today. It was attended by over 10,000 chemists from all over Punjab.

President of the association Surjit Mehta said recruitment of a pharmacist by a wholesale medicine dealer was against the norms as a wholesaler dealt with chemists only.

“The Drugs Act is formulated by the central government, not by the state government. To check the drug menace, the government should ban the entry of psychotropic drugs into Punjab and we will fully support the government on it.”

The sabha has also condemned the recent police raids on certain medicine shops in Fatehgarh Sahib. 


Pak refuses to own its national

Abohar, April 24
The Pak Rangers has reportedly refused to own a Pakistani national who had intruded into the Indian territory on February 12.

The matter was discussed at a flag meeting held between the BSF and Pak Rangers near the zero line in the Anoopgarh sector yesterday.

Indian officials told their counterparts that Mohammed Sunaullah of the Bahwalpur area had crossed the border by mistake. — OC


high court
Notices to govt, Ludhiana MC over encroachments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Notices were issued to the Punjab government and the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, (respondents) over a public interest litigation highlighting the misuse of residential areas for commercial activity, encroachments, traffic congestion and pollution in the city.

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijendra Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla, issued the notice to the aforesaid respondents seeking their reply on the matter on May 2, 2007.

The main petitioner Rajesh Inderpall, through his counsel Ravi Sodhi, contended that there were rampant encroachments and misuse of residential property for commercial activities in posh areas of Ludhiana.

Some of these areas like Civil Lines, College Road etc were strictly meant for residential purposes but the rules were being flouted with impunity and commercial activity was on unhindered.

The petitioner highlighted the mess the city was in and rued that even the right of privacy of women was being infringed upon. Traffic jams and environmental pollution was eating into the vitals of the city and there were violations galore of building bylaws of 1997.

He further asserted that pollution-free environment was part of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.


Taking a grim view of the messed-up solid waste-disposal system in Amritsar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the city’s municipal commissioner to appear before it on May 25.

While hearing a public interest litigation, filed by the Pollution Control Committee (a registered society), the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and justice Rajive Bhalla, made some strict observations on the sorry state of sanitation in the holy city.

The petitioner had sought directions from the high court whereby the respondents (Municipal Corporation and the state of Punjab) be told to shift the dumping place of solid waste and dead animals to an authorised and approved place in accordance with the provisions of MC solid waste rules-2000.

It was also requested that the disposal of municipal waste and dead animals should be done in a scientific manner, thus ensuring that lives of residents were not endangered or negatively affected.

It was stated in the petition that the Municipal Corporation was dumping the waste adjacent to the grain market, Bhatanwala, which was not in keeping with the rules and regulations.

Action sought

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to the Punjab government and other respondents, including some newspapers, over a public interest litigation seeking action against ‘tantriks’ who were misleading the public through advertisements.

Petitioner Aarti sought action against the ‘tantriks’ who were publishing misleading advertisements in various newspapers and were openly fooling the public by claiming their expertise in black magic.

The petitioner contended that under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement Act), 1954, there was a bar on such advertisements and as such this illegal profession should be stopped.


Probe begins into misuse of jeep
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 24
A two-member sub-committee of the local municipal council today began an inquiry into the alleged misuse of a jeep of municipal fire brigade by the staff.

The sub-committee comprising two municipal councillors, Jatinder Kalra of the BJP and Parvinder Bajaj of the Congress, was formed at the last meeting of the council when its members levelled charges on the fire brigade authorities regarding the misuse of the jeep and sought a probe into the matter.

Talking to The Tribune here, Jatinder Kalra said the sub-committee began the probe. He said they recorded the statements of sub-fire officers, Karam Singh, Amarpal Singh, and driver of the jeep Mohinder Singh.

Kalra said it was found that Rs 10,000 were required for the repair of the jeep while the fire brigade authorities had sought Rs 25,000 from the council for the purpose. Besides this, they also found some discrepancies in the log-book of the jeep. He said the staff had also been asked to produce the entire record at a meeting of the sub-committee to be held in a week.

The members of the council had brought to the notice of the House at the meeting that the jeep was not being used in council/public interest. The jeep was being used by the fire staff allegedly for personal use.


Transfer SSP, demands Khangura
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 24
In a new development in the ongoing investigations into the Ludhiana City Centre scam, the Kila Raipur MLA Jassi Khangura has demanded the transfer of SSP (Vigilance) Kanwarpreet Singh Sandhu for his alleged vindictive attitude towards his family.

In a letter addressed to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,Kila Raipur MLA, who belongs to the Congress, alleged that Sandhu appeared to be pursuing personal agenda against his family by trying to involve his mother Gurdial Kaur Khangura, who was a member of the dissolved Ludhiana Improvement Trust, in the scam.

Khangura alleged that Sandhu had an old grudge against him and his family as they had got him transferred in 2003 for "exceeding his brief". He alleged that Sandhu, who was SSP(Vigilance) at that time, had tried to conduct a raid on the hotel with the obvious aim of implicating Sukhbir Badal to establish that he had shares in the hotel which would substantiate the case of disproportionate assets against him (Sukhbir). He said this proved counterproductive and he was transferred out of Ludhiana.

The Kila Raipur MLA said now he wanted to avenge that transfer by falsely implicating his mother in the case. He said Sandhu had no authority to go to the media on the basis of the statement of an accused that the money was exchanged in her (his mother's) presence. "Does Sandhu know whether she was in the country or abroad at that time when he claims that she was present in the hotel?" he asked.

Accusing the SSP of malicious intentions, Khangura said, "The intentions of the SSP, Vigilance (Ludhiana), in this matter are malicious. Let us not forget that this is the same person who conducted a raid on our hotel (Park Plaza) in 2003 to investigate an alleged share in this hotel held by your son Sukhbir Singh Badal as a result of which he was transferred out of Ludhiana....Earlier your son was his target, now it is my mother".

To a question about the allegations made by one of the trustees Subha Harbhajan Singh that he had also been approached by the Today Homes with the gifts on Diwali along with other trustees, Khangura vehemently denied it saying, "I can say it with confidence about my mother that she did not accept anything". He expressed surprise as how Singh, as he was being quoted by Vigilance, could speak on behalf of other trustees that they had accepted the gifts from Today Homes, which he had refused. 


Cops at receiving end
Ajay Banerjee/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
If you think only the members of the public feel aggrieved with the Punjab Police, change your opinion. A group of cops have also been at the receiving end and their careers in the police have been ruined.

The Punjab Police released a tentative seniority list of ASI’s of the telecommunication and wireless wing, a few days ago. It put several people behind their own juniors in seniority. Cops who were recruited directly as probationary ASI’s in September/ October 1988 have been put made junior to those who were promoted as ASIs from within the force in 1989.

The story repeats itself with regularity. Direct recruitees in 1989 have been placed behind the cops who were promoted from within in 1990. And also in case of those who were recruited directly in 1993. They have been made junior to those poepl who were promoted from within in 1994.

Within the wing a group of Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASI’s) of the have been continuing on probation and their services have not been confirmed. The aggrieved ASI’s have petitioned the Punjab Police to correct the anomalies

To add a double blow to their miseries. Last year their batchmates, who were recruited in other wings of the Punjab Police, were promoted as DSP’s. And If this was not enough the Punjab Police has added to their woes. For three years it has been dithering to merge the wireless wing with the general cadre of the Punjab Police or to, at least, bring the promotion avenues in both the cadres on a par.

Despite the disparity, these ASI’s continue to manage the crucial communication network in the Police. Officials are tight lipped as to why these ASI’s are still in the queue for being confirmed in their service. Interestingly being a science graduate was the minimum qualification for being taken into the communication and wireless wing. Normally to be recruited as an ASI the candidates needs to be a graduate.

Sources disclose that with the 3100-member wing having its own line of promotions, there is acute stagnation. In many cases, those recruited as DSPs may have to retire in the same rank. Promotions in the general cadre were governed by the police rules, those in the wireless wing were based on seniority-cum-merit. 



Five commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 24
Five persons committed suicide in the neighbouring Sriganganagar and its surrounding areas yesterday.Two children died of drowning while alert swimmers rescued a married woman as she jumped in to the city canal.

A farm worker,Allah Mehar, of Rajasar Bhatial village,strangled himself to death by hanging from an iron girder last evening.

Ami Chand Nayak (21) consumed poison when he was spraying insecticide on vegetables in the field.

Hari Parsad (46), a medicine shop owner and resident of Brahmin mohalla, consumed poison inside the shop and died late at night.

Devi Lal reportedly burnt himself using kerosene at Mohanmagria village near Tibbi.

Mukh Ram (35) reportedly died after consuming insecticide at Karnisar village last night. The family said he was a habitual drinker and consumed insecticide by mistake in the dark when electricity supply failed late at night.

Mahabir and Sharwan Kumar, minor boys from tribes families based at Arjunsar village, drowned in the Kunwersain lift canal yesterday.

A married woman made an unsuccessful bid to commit suicide by jumping into a 12-ft canal near the city bypass after having a tiff with her family in the Nai Abadi locality. Alert swimmers rescued her last evening. 


Cop held for killing wife
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
The police here has arrested assistant sub inspector (ASI) Harinder Pal Singh posted at Mansa for killing his wife Rupinder Kaur. The wife of the cop, who was staying at 21 Model town area of Patiala had received burns on April 14. She was shifted of DMC Ludhiana where she succumbed to burns.

In her dying statement Rupinder Kaur had alleged her husband had set her on fire. The police today arrested the accused ASI. A case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code was registered against him. He was produced before a court today which remanded him in judicial custody for 14 days.

The accused, a drug addict, had strained relations with his wife. He used to beat his wife up. The women’s cell of the district recently tried to resolve the differences between the couple. They brought them together on an assurance from the ASI that he would treat her well.


FCI official held for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 24
Vigilance Bureau officials today arrested an FCI official while he was accepting bribe from a rice miller for issuing quality certificate for rice consignment. SSP Vigilance Bureau (Ferozepore Range) Rajinder Singh said Dharampal Bhardwaj assistant manager ( quality) FCI at Talwandi Bhai had been delaying the issue of quality certificate to the consignment of Kohinoor Rice Mill. The SSP said the official used to demand Rs 2800/- per quintal for every consignment of rice. The rice millers requested the FCI official they could not pay this amount and the matter was settled for lesser amount.

Today when Mohinder Singh son of Gian Singh,a worker of the rice mill handed over Rs 25000/- to the FCI official as token payment according to the deal, the Vigilance team arrested Bhardwaj.

The SSP added Harbans Singh deputy DEO (secondary) and Basant Singh SDO PWD (B&R) were present on the spot as government witnesses when the FCI official was 


Land row: Woman killed by son, daughter-in-law
Tribune News Service

Kot Bakhtu (Bathinda), April 24
Jarnail Kaur of this village was murdered by her son and daughter-in-law when the deceased refused to transfer a piece of land in the name of her son’s wife. She was done to death by her son identified as Malkit Singh and his wife Manjeet Kaur with a sharp-edged weapon. The old woman ran for safety towards her fields after the accused attacked her, but was chased and given repeated blows with a ‘gandasi’ and a‘dah’.

Women working in fields nearby raised the alarm and Buta Singh, elder son with his sister also ran towards the fields to save their mother, but she died before being shifted to a hospital.

Manjeet Singh, SHO, Raman Mandi, police station said Malkit Singh, a sepoy in the 13 Punjab Regiment of the Army, had been insisting that his share in the land of the family be transferred in the name of his wife Manjeet Kaur. On finding his mother Jarnail Kaur opposing his plan, he and his wife murdered her. After committing the crime, the couple fled the scene.

He said a year ago, accused Malkit Singh started fighting with his elder brother Buta Singh, who was unmarried , over the division of land holding of the family. To save the situation their father Sohan Singh had the holding divided. However, after some time, both brothers again started joint cultivation of the land.

A few months ago, Sohan Singh made his will in which he transferred rights over the holding to both sons.

The SHO said raids were being made to arrest Malkit Singh, who had come on leave from his unit and his wife Manjeet Kaur. A case has been registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code by the Raman Mandi police station. 


Unauthorised travel agent nabbed; fake visas seized
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 24
In the wake of human trafficking case of BJP MP Babubhai Katara, the Kapurthala police nabbed an unauthorised travel agent, Harbhajan Singh, from a locality falling under the Maqsoodan police station in Jalandhar on today morning.

Three fake visas, including those of America and Canada, were recovered from his possession, said Kapurthala SSP Rakesh Agarwal while talking to The Tribune.

Besides 34 passports, fake letterheads and stamps of different departments, computer, scanner and printer were also recovered from his.

Hailing from a village in Bholath subdivision, Harbhajan Singh was also operating from the Shanti Vihar locality here.

A Kapurthala team, led by DSP Bholath, Balbir Singh, raided Harbhajan Singh’s premises and nabbed him.Harbhajan was arrested on a complaint filed with the police by one Pritam Singh of Bholath in which the latter alleged that the former had taken Rs 8 lakh for sending him abroad, but neither he sent him abroad nor did he return him money.

An FIR under Sections 420 and 406,IPC, has been registered against Harbhajan.

Meanwhile, Agarwal said the recovery of fake visas and other related items were not found to be connected with human trafficking case of BJP MP Katara.

The parents of Paramjeet Kaur,whom Katara had tried to take to Toronto in his wife Shardaben’s diplomatic passport, belong to Feroze Sanghowal village falling under Bholath subdivision itself.

In the meantime, Agarwal said efforts were on to nab Paramjeet Kaur’s agent Joginder Singh of an adjacent Fatehgarh Seikri village.


Women teachers rally behind VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
After ad hoc employees, women teachers of Punjabi University rallied behind vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai today. In a representation to the Chief Minister and chancellor-cum-governor, as many as 77 women teachers praised the role of the vice-chancellor.

They alleged that fear psychosis was earlier prevailing among the women teachers of the university.They termed the agitation being carried out by the members of the joint action committee seeking VC’s removal as an assault on the dignity of women teachers.

Recently, Mamta Sharma, a lecturer of Psychology Department, was hackled by the members if the joint action committee. They have demanded action against the agitators.

Meanwhile, the members of the committee once again blocked traffic at the main gate of the university from 8.30 am to 11 am today. At the dharna outside the gate, agitators raised slogans against the VC and demanded his removal.

The convener of the committee Manjit Singh alleged that the signatures of the women teachers were managed by the VC. “It is a ploy of the VC to divert attention from his misdeeds. We have great respect for the women staff,” he said.

On the complaint of the university authorities, the local police has registered a case against three student leaders of the joint action committee, including Gurnam Singh Virk, Raminder Singh and Rajinder Singh, for allegedly disrupting the atmosphere of the university in violation of the court orders. Despite the registration of the case, students participated in today’s dharna.


Students seek grace marks

Amritsar, April 24
Students of ECE and EEE courses of Punjab Technical University have demanded that the results should be revised by awarding grace marks. The results were declared yesterday.

Of the 66 students of the ECE, 32 will have to appear for supplementary tests. The students said most of the questions were outside the syllabus and incorrect or incomplete with vital figures missing. — TNS


Harvard law graduate not good enough for GND varsity’s PhD
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
He is LLM with honours from Harvard University, a reputed advocate with 40 years standing in the supreme courts of the USA, the UK and Pakistan and a former adviser to the President of Pakistan.

But all this is of no consequence to the authorities of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, who have been sitting on barrister Iqbal Jafree’s case for admission to PhD (Law) for three years. Reason - Harvard is not a recognised foreign university with Guru Nanak Dev University.

Lesser-known American universities like Butler and Yale are recognised, but not Harvard, America’s oldest university with an enviable law department. GND varsity says it didn’t recognise Harvard because it never earlier received an application from there. If it checks its records it’ll realise Jafree had earlier applied for PhD in 1982 when Pakistani nationals were not allowed to pursue courses in Indian universities. He again applied in 2004 and is still waiting.

For 70-year-old Jafree, already DLitt in law, a PhD from GND varsity holds no commercial value. “I want to study here due to my admiration for Guru Nanak Dev who had a special relationship with my ancestors. They were spiritual guides to Khwaja Nazimudin Aulliya,” Jafree told The Tribune today.

Under the impression that his case was being processed, Jafree was recently shocked to learn that GND varsity had cancelled his enrolment to PhD due to delay in paper work. Head of law department Kuljit Kaur said she had inducted someone else in his place. The delay, however, was caused on university front as it has still not started the process of recognising Harvard.

Jafree has now written to Kuljit Kaur saying he would file a writ against GND varsity next week if he doesn’t get a satisfactory reply to what happened and why.

Earlier, GND varsity had said it was sending Jafrree’s case to the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) for recognition of Harvard. In fact, AIU already recognises Harvard as an accredited foreign university, which means GND varsity could have settled Jafrree’s case within its equivalency committee, which is posted of the case.

University sources say, “Before we could pursue the case with AIU, HoD, law recommended the cancellation of Jafrree’s enrollment. She has now told us to reopen it.” The reopening follows Jafree’s stern letter to the university. It’s significant that earlier GND varsity had asked Jafrree to get Harvard authorities to send them a copy of LLM curriculum so that their research committee could review it.

“No top-class university would do that. I hope the V-C uses his special powers to decide my case,” says Jafree, conferred with “The Living Legend of Pakistan” title in 1994.

Interestingly, his CV shows he is academically more qualified than university’s law faculty.


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