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State tense after dera, SGPC workers clash
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, May 15
The situation here turned tense today evening after SAD workers and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda clashed near the bus stand. SAD workers led by vice-president Ranjit Singh Nakra and Mohinderjit Singh Kala, leader of the NRI wing, gathered at the traffic lights near the bus stand at about 4 pm and burned the effigy of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sacha Sauda.

A few followers of the dera came to the spot and allegedly beat up the SAD workers who were burning the effigy.

The police reached the spot and controlled the situation. No one was injured seriously in the clash.

However, SAD workers made a bandh call after the incident. SAD activists on motor cycles and two wheelers managed to get shops closed in many walled areas of the city.

The police has started patrolling the sensitive areas of the city. No police official was available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact them on phone.

The situation returned to normal after about two hours of intensive police patrolling in the city.

Ban sought

Hoshiarpur: Members of the SGPC along with activists of various Sikh organisations of Hoshiarpur led by Harjinder Singh Dhami, secretary of the SGPC, in a memorandum presented to the President of India through Deputy Commissioner here today sought ban on Dera Sacha Sauda for anti-Sikh activities which could disturb peace in the state.

In the memorandum they alleged that since the formation of the SAD government in the state, the Congress had been hatching a conspiracy with Dera Sacha Sauda for dividing the state again. The chief of the dera, Baba Ram Rahim Gurmeet Singh, allegation of murders against whom had been levelled, was protected by the previous Congress government, they added.

On account of defeat in the last state Assembly elections, the Congress had allegedly instigated the dera followers to attack SAD party workers in Bathinda yesterday.

Earlier, a meeting was held at the local Gurdwara Singh Sabha in this connection.

Protest staged

Ferozepore: Tension prevailed in the town following a protest by the Sikh Student Federation against Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim, head of Dera Sacha Sauda. Activists of the Sikh Students Federation raised slogans against the dera and tried to burn effigy of its head. But prompt action by the police saved the situation from taking an ugly turn after DSP Paramjit Singh Parmar snatched the effigy from an activist.

Thereafter, the enraged students started raising slogans against the police and district administration, which led to a minor clash between the two. Soon DSP Parmar arrested 12 federation workers and sent them to the city police station. Following this the federation workers blocked traffic at Shaheed Udham Singh Chowk and damaged the roof of a police vehicle.

Meanwhile, hundreds of dera followers gathered at the dera after they got the news of the protest. They were waiting for a signal to retaliate in case the Sikh bodies burn the effigy of their head.

The International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society also lodged a protest against the dera. Its president Harpal Singh Bhullar along with other members of the society submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Bhagwant Singh in this regard.

Effigies burnt

Jalandhar: Several agitated Sikh youths today burnt the effigies of Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim, head of Dera Sacha Sauda, to lodge protest. The effigies were burnt at the football and BMC chowks. The protesters raised slogans against the baba and also sat on dharna at the chowks.

Interestingly, two of the agitated youths climbed late Chief Minister Beant Singh’s statue at the BMC chowk and removed the garlands from the statue during the protest. All-India Anti-Terrorist Front chief Maninderjeet Singh Bitta had garlanded the statue this morning after SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjeet Singh Mann and his supporters had protested yesterday against the installation of the statue.

 

Dera followers lift blockade; IG to hold probe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, who had been blocking traffic on the Bathinda-Mansa road near the local Rajindra college since yesterday noon, lifted the same late in the evening today after a compromise was reached between their representatives and a section of senior police and civil officials of the Punjab government.

Under the compromise, M.K. Tiwari, IG, zonal, Patiala, will hold a free and fair probe to find out the reasons of the violence which took place yesterday and today. The compromise was reached between the administration and representatives of followers of the dera at a meeting, which started at 5 pm. The meeting was presided over by Chander Shekhar, ADGP (law and order), Punjab police. IG Tiwari, Jatinder Jain, DIG, Faridkot range, and V.K. Janjua, commissioner, Faridkot division, were present at the meeting. Ram Singh and Gurbaz Singh represented the Dera followers.

Rahul Bhandari, deputy commissioner, said so far no criminal case has been registered in connection with the violence. He said followers of the dera had also been assured that the authorities concerned would not allow the happening of any untoward incident in future. He said all those policemen who had suffered injuries in the violence would be given medical treatment free of cost.

Mob attacks followers

Two followers of Dera Sacha Sauda were injured when attacked by a mob near the Guru Nanak Pura area of this town while they were going back to their respective destinations following the lifting of the traffic jam, organised by them on the Bathinda-Mansa road since yesterday, late evening today.

Another follower of Dera Sacha Sauda Nirmala Devi, a resident of Haryana, was also beaten up by unidentified youths at the local railway station . The unidentified youth also caused damaged to vegetable vendors in the local Paras Ram Nagar area.

The mob, which was waiting for the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda near the Multania overbridge, also damaged their vehicle. Though policemen, along with civil officials, reached the spot immediately, the followers were forced to change their route after the mob stopped them from passing from that area.

Those injured in the attack had been identified as Palwinder Singh and Lakhwinder Singh. Civil hospital sources said while Palwinder suffered injury on his head and Lakhwinder was hit in his stomach by the attackers. Both injured were in a stable condition and had started responding to treatment.

Rahul Bhandari, deputy commissioner, said some anti-social elements were trying to disturb the peace.

 

Panthic meeting tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
Seeking immediate ban on the activities of Dera Sacha Sauda, the Sikh clergy today decided to convene a Panthic meeting at Takht Damdama Sahib on May 17 to chalk out the next course of action .

The resolution passed by the Sikh high priests at a marathon meeting also sought the immediate arrest of Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim, head of the dera. Akal Takht also took a serious view of the holding of a public function at Salabatpura village in Bathinda district.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Giani Iqbal Singh, Giani Tarlochan Singh and Giani Jotinder Singh, jathedars of Akal Takht, Damdama Sahib, Patna Sahib, Kesgarh Sahib and deputy jathedar, Hazoor Sahib, respectively, asked the Central, Punjab and Haryana governments to ensure peace by curbing the activities of the dera.

However, the meeting was marred by slogans like “Bhinderanwale zindabad” outside the Akal Takht secretariat by activists of Damdami Taksal and other Sikh organisations.

Meanwhile, Akali MLA Mohan Lal Banga has tendered a written apology before the Sikh clergy for taking oath of secrecy and office without a turban. The MLA said he was not a follower of Ashutosh Maharaj. However, SGPC chief Avtar Singh openly blamed the Congress for encouraging the dera chief to indulge in anti-Panthic activities. 

 

SAD, Cong leaders appeal for peace, trade charges
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
While making appeals to the people of the state to maintain peace and communal harmony, senior leaders of two major political parties --- the SAD and the Congress --- have blamed each other for disturbing the hard-earned peace in the state. As Punjab is once again on the boil, politicians of various hues continue to make attempts to score points against one another.

Some parts of the Malwa region have witnessed tension and violence over the past 48 hours because of confrontation between supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda and some panthic organisations.

“ Our politicians have not learnt any lesson from the past. Instead of making a joint effort to save Punjab from sliding into civil strife, politicians are trying to belittle one another”, said a Punjab watcher. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC chief Avtar Singh, leader of the opposition in the assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Shamsher Singh Dullo have urged the people of the state to maintain peace.

Speaking separately to mediapersons, these leaders have stated that peace had returned to Punjab at a great price paid by its people in the recent past and it should be maintained.

Badal urges parties to cooperate

Chief Minister Badal said it was the duty of all parties to maintain peace. “I urge all political parties and others concerned to cooperate in restoring peace in the state.”

Asked about the incidents at Bathinda yesterday, Badal said the government was keeping a close watch on the situation there. He said he would ensure that law and order was maintained and officers who failed to perform their duty efficiently would not be spared. Asked about the failure of intelligence agencies and the police at Bathinda to anticipate the trouble, Badal said he would not comment on this issue at this stage. “ We are probing the matter and will speak in this regard at the appropriate time.”

Asked whether he would call an all-party meeting to take senior leaders of all political parties into his confidence to restore peace, Badal said he would think in this regard and take a decision in a day or so. He said that no one should hurt anyone’s sentiments in any manner. Asked whether he saw any conspiracy behind the happenings at Bathinda and Jalandhar, Badal said he was watching the situation closely.

Dullo says govt a failure on all fronts

PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo says that the Badal government has failed on all fronts. Its intelligence agencies had failed to gather information with regard to sensitive happenings in the state. The police had no information with regard to the plan made by Simranjit Singh Mann and his supporters to dishonour the statue of Beant Singh in Jalandhar.

Banks were being looted. Supporters of “Khalistan” had started their activities again. The government should probe the activities of such elements.

He said no could become Guru Gobind Singh. Instead of levelling false allegations against Congress leaders, the Badal government should reflect on its failures and take effective steps to restore peace in the state.

Bhattal says Badal has failed to maintain law and order

Opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said the Badal government should take steps to maintain peace and not be a silent spectator to what was happening in the state. She said the Badal government had failed to maintain law and order in the state. The Congress was feeling concerned about what had happened in Punjab in the past 48 hours.

She said Badal had even failed to check “Khalistani” elements. What happened at Jalandhar yesterday was a serious matter, she added. All religions should be respected and it was the duty of the government to talk to all concerned to resolve the issue.

Asked whether the Congress was in agreement with the advertisement got inserted by the dera chief, she said she had not seen it. “ The government should probe whether the advertisement was genuine or mischief was played by someone to disturb peace in the state”, she added. She said all issues could be resolved by talking to each other and not through confrontation.

She said there was no harm in convening an all- party meeting. The issue was linked to peace in the state and all efforts should be made to maintain it. She said if Badal could not run the government, he should hand over the same to the Congress.

When told that the SGPC chief had blamed the Congress for the trouble, Bhattal said Sikh students federation leaders supported by the SGPC chief were responsible for fomenting trouble in the state. She appealed to all to maintain peace. The Badal government, she said, had no job except to book Congressmen.

Avtar Singh blames Cong

SGPC chief Avtar Singh has blamed Congress leaders, including Amarinder Singh, Shamsher Singh Dullo and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for the incidents of violence at Bathinda.

He said the Congress leadership had not digested the fact that Badal had formed the government in Punjab. “ As the Congress is out of power in the state, it is resorting to various tactics to create trouble in Punjab”, he said.

The Congress was an anti-Sikh party. “ It is also trying to divide Sikhs in Haryana”, he alleged.

 

Seed Scam
VB ex-chief had shut inquiry
BKU for reopening of the case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
Former chief of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau A.P. Pandey had shot down the move of conducting a high-level regular inquiry in the controversial PAU seed scam case, even as officials, including SSP, vigilance, Ludhiana, DIG and joint director-prosecution had in their investigation and analysis found enough evidence for further investigation.

Vigilance documents procured under the Right to Information Act by a former PAU employee have revealed this fact. The vigilance investigation into the alleged scandal, which had named a former vice-chancellor as one of the accused, had started on a high note four years ago but was suddenly stopped.

It is again in news with the Bharati Kisan Union (EKTA) seeking re-opening of the case. Besides this, the union has also demanded to be incorporated as a party in the case.

Darshan Singh Kohli, district president of the union, has in a memorandum to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sought re-opening of the case. He claimed that the union had substantial evidence with regard to the scam. He alleged that money had exchanged hands to close the case file.

ADGP A.P. Pandey, who is now posted with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), said he does not remember the case or the circumstances but if his noting was there on the documents, he owned it. “As vigilance head I had every right to order a regular inquiry, registration of a case or close the file. My subordinating staff may have recommended something opposite to my views but I took decision by my judgement.”

When asked did he take any action against the subordinating officers, if he considered they had done improper investigation, Pandey said reprimanding officers was only possible and done in cases where there was a strong suggestion or evidence of subjective, biased reporting.

The vigilance documents said seeds raised at Nabha based PAU seed farm were auctioned on paper only and a number of officials misappropriating the funds. These also claimed that the price of the seeds was three times higher than the market, yet the financial returns shown by the PAU were far less than the normal earning than should have been. 

 

98-yr-old widow on fast for pension
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
After trying her best to prove her entitlement to freedom fighters’ pension and having failed, Gurnam Kaur (98) resorted to an extreme step this morning. The widow of Tara Singh Brar, honoured with Tamra Patra in 1972, started indefinite fast secure pension. She has been fighting for her dues for 29 years and on May 1 at a sangat darshan at Chandigarh told the Punjab Chief Minister to clear her case or face consequences.

Accompanied by daughters, with whom she lives at Nihalsinghwala, Gurnam Kaur travelled 40 km from home to reach Moga district headquarters where she was greeted with indifference, as usual. But the old woman battled physical and mental odds to keep hunger at bay embarrassing the district administration staff and by afternoon, the DC office’s senior officers (except the DC), could not convince the woman to break fast and trust them.

After repeated pleas throughout the day, assistant commissioner (grievances) and the SDM, Nihalsinghwala convinced Gurnam Kaur to put off her fast for a fortnight. They gave her in writing that her case had been to the Punjab government and a favourable response was expected. Gurnam Kaur, reluctantly, suspended the fast for 15 days, as requested by the district administration. “Next time, I will not give you any rope. You have disgraced me enough,” said the widow recently abandoned by her sons. But for her daughters, she would have been on the road.

Meanwhile, sources in the district administration told The Tribune they had looked into Gurnam Kaur’s case after The Tribune highlighted it on May 2. “Following the news, the Punjab government asked us for the report. The problem in her case lies with the freedom fighters’ pension rules. Anyone claiming this pension must either have documentary evidence to prove the participation in the freedom struggle - jail records, arrest warrants etc. The alternative is to have statements of two contemporaries of the freedom fighter in question,” said the assistant commissioner (grievances), Moga.

In Gurnam Kaur’s case, both pieces of documentary evidence are missing. Her husband was jailed in Attock, Pakistan records of which can’t be summoned. His colleagues are also dead; therefore their statements are out of question. Officials, however, said they had recommended Gurnam Kaur’s case and quoted her neighbours testifying Tara Singh was a freedom fighter. The case file is pending with the principal secretary (freedom fighters), Punjab. But the matter is in the court of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who can relax the “mighty” pension rules. The pension incidentally is Rs 3,000 a month.

 

Cong activists raise slogans
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 15
Activists of the District Youth Congress, led by their president Arun Dogra, raised slogans against Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (Amritsar) chief, and burnt his effigy at the local Prabhat Chowk today for hanging a portrait of Dilawar Singh, an assassin of Beant Singh, on the statue of former Chief Minister, at BMC Chowk, Jalandhar.

They condemned the district administration of Jalandhar for its failure in protecting even the statue of the slain Chief Minister Beant Singh, with whose efforts terrorism in Punjab was routed out and peace was restored. They demanded the registration of a case against Simranjit Singh Mann and his accomplices.

Dogra also condemned the alleged role of Tikshan Sud, minister for medical education and research, forest and parliamentary affairs, in getting postponed the election for the president of the Municipal Council (MC), here yesterday.

 

Cong MLAs to meet on May 18
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has convened a meeting of Congress MLAs here on May 18.

The meeting has been convened to discuss the law and order situation in the state and the dishonouring of the statue of Beant Singh in Jalandhar.

SGPC chief meets CM

SGPC chief Avtar Singh held a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

Badal refused to disclose what transpired at the meeting. “We discussed various issues”, he said. However, sources said that both discussed the violent clashes between supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda and SGPC workers at Bathinda yesterday.

Meanwhile, senior leaders of the SAD held a meeting here at the residence of Badal.They discussed the political and law and order situation in the state.

 
 


50 structures razed
Bipin Bhardwaj and Bharat Bhushan Dogra
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 15
Following directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the local administration launched an anti-encroachment drive and razed over 50 structures, which had come up illegally on the Amritsar-Pathankot-Kullu road, here today.

Equipped with three earth-movers, two fire-tenders and an ambulance, the enforcement wing of the administration carried on the demolition drive. To avoid any untoward incident, a large police force with anti-riot vehicles was also pressed in service.

All exit and entry points to the city, especially to the Amritsar-Pathankot-Kullu road, were sealed.

The demolition drive began at the Pathankot-Gurdaspur road and over 50 illegal structures including a petrol pump, hotel, dhabas and roadside shops were removed. Besides these, about 10 shops, signboards and hoardings along the road were also pulled down. Shopkeepers, who had encroached upon the road, were also seen removing their illegal structures.

Sources in the administration said the Pathankot Improvement Trust had released a list of 154 encroachments.

Today, members of the PBM who were protesting against the drive, were detained by the police. They were later let off after the demolition drive ended this afternoon.

The SDM said the demolition drive would be carried out till all encroachments were removed. The High Court has asked the administration to file a report after clearing of the road of encroachments by May 28.

 

Harassment to Transporter
PSHRC orders action against cops
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Taking a serious note of a case of police highhandedness, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has recommended appropriate action against the guilty cops who not only harassed a transporter but also extracted money from him.

Narrating his tale of woe, transporter-cum-financier Tejvinder Singh Prabhakar said on August 14, 2006, he was standing at a petrol pump in Madhupur, near Pathankot, getting his vehicles filled with diesel when a petrol pump employee came running to him.

The employee told him that the locks of his two vehicles, which were parked there, were being broken by the police. At this, Prabhakar immediately went to the cops and enquired about the matter.

The constables referred him to the SHO Dev Dutt Sharma who alleged that those vehicles were not his own but stolen.

Prabhakar’s plea that all relevant documents were in his possession fell on deaf ears. The SHO refused to budge from his position and, in fact, went to the extent of handcuffing Prabhakar.

This was not all. Prabhakar was humiliated further as the SHO took him to the Madhupur market in a Maruti Gypsy while he was handcuffed. Seeing him in trouble, Madhupur sarpanch, who was in the market, rushed to him. The sarpanch pleaded with the SHO and vouched for Prabhakar’s integrity but to no avail.

The SHO, then, took him to the Sadar police station, Gurdaspur, on August 18, 2006.

Prabhakar was released only after he paid Rs 1 lakh to the SHO. As if this was not enough, Rs 50,000 more were demanded for the release of his trucks, failing which, the SHO allegedly threatened, weapons would be placed in the vehicles.

When Prabhakar and his father went to the SHO on August 20, 2006, he informed them that since the matter had gone to the higher-ups, Rs 4 lakh would have to be paid instead of Rs 50,000 as demanded earlier.

When they refused to the bribe, the whole family was targeted and even women were not spared. Prabhakar’s sister, who had a fractured leg, was dragged resulting in her plaster coming off. The same brutality was shown towards his mother.

The matter was brought to the notice of Amritsar IG Mohd Mustafa who asked the SSP Gurdaspur to look into the matter. The SSP, then, summoned the two SHOs - Dev Dutt Sharma and Paramjit Singh, SHO, Thana Sadar, Gurdaspur.

On September 6, when the SSP came to Pathankot, Prabhakar’s guarantee was given by responsible persons of society following which he was told to go to Amritsar and take his vehicles back.

Instead of handing them the vehicles, the erring SHOs sought their custody. Exhausted and dejected, Prabhakar and his family members approached Arvind Thakur, a human rights activist, with the Gurdaspur police.

With Thakur’s help, the PSHRC was moved on September 22, 2006. The commission ordered an inquiry. The inquiry found that SHOs had taken money and harassed Prabhakar and his family. At this, the commission on May 10 recommended action against the errant cops.

Now, Prabhakar his planning to seek damages to the tune of Rs 50 lakh from the cops and is going to move the PSHRC in the matter.

 

Baba Jiwan Singh Memorial: File goes missing
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
In a new turn to the controversy over the setting up of the Baba Jiwan Singh Memorial in Ranjit Avenue, executive members of the Baba Jiwan Singh Memorial and Research (BJSMR) Trust here today claimed that the deed for the land identified for the memorial could not registered because the Improvement Trust had misplaced its file.

Talking to mediapersons, Devinder Singh Mann, president of the trust, rubbished allegations made by the Ranjit Avenue E-Block Welfare Association that the trust was trying to grab the 1042-sq-yd plot.

He said the trust, which was registered in 1984, had been corresponding with the Improvement Trust, after making due payment for the land. The case for reconstruction of the file had been sent to the additional secretary, Local Bodies.

The Improvement Trust had not challenged the allotment of land to the BJSMR Trust, as indicated by its correspondence.

On the other hand, Kulwant Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the association, maintained that the Improvement Trust had never confirmed the claim of the BJSMR Trust on the plot. 

 

Shaheed Sukhdev’s centenary observed
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 15
Events, including cycle rally, blood donation camp, declamation and painting contests were organised to mark the birth centenary of Shaheed Sukhdev, who, along with fellow comrades, smilingly embraced gallows for the sake of freedom.

DIG Ishwar Chander addressed students gathered at the function organised by the district administration to commemorate the occasion.

Several government officials, freedom fighters, teachers and thousands of school students were present on the occasion.

Earlier, ADC (Development) Rahul Tiwari flagged off a cycle rally from the National Martyrs Memorial, Hussianiwala. The Youth Services Department organised a blood camp to mark the occasion.

 

Human Trafficking
Process initiated to declare travel agent PO
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, May 15
Amidst intelligence reports of the fleeing of Paramjeet Kaur’s agent Joginder Singh to Toronto, the district police has initiated the process of declaring him a proclaimed offender (PO) and, subsequently, attaching his property.

Talking to The Tribune, SSP Rakesh Agarwal said that the process of declaring Joginder Singh a PO had already begun with getting his arrest warrant twice from a city court.

Subsequently, the police will get a permission from the court to paste a notice on the door of his house stating that he was wanted by the police in the human-trafficking case.

After pasting these notices twice, he would automatically become a PO. Subsequently, his property will be attached after getting directions from the court in this regard. The entire process might take some months, he added.

According to sources, he first went to Nepal by road and from there, he flew to Toronto where his wife Manjeet Kaur has already been living for past several years. Joginder Singh, reportedly, also owns a house in Canada.

However, the SSP neither confirmed nor denied intelligence reports of his flight to Canada.

 

Delay in MC president poll resented
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 15
Naresh Thakur, former minister and a senior Congress leader, sharply reacted over the failure of Congress municipal councillors in electing the president of the Municipal Council (MC), Hoshiarpur, despite a majority in the House.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Thakur said dissidence among Congress municipal councillors was due to the failure of observers of the PPCC.

Referring to the recent resignation tendered by Ajay Mohan Babbi from the post of president of the MC, Thakur said it was the fault of observers of the PPCC in curbing the dissidence among the councillors, which resulted in the ouster of Babbi. He urged Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, to personally intervene and get the matter settled.

 

Special kids get hearing aids
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 15
At least 131 special children were given tricycles, wheelchairs, clutches and hearing aids at a function organised under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyaan at Government Senior Secondary School (boys) here, today.

These children were identified during a survey conducted in the district. The material for the special children had been procured with the help of the District Disability and Rehabilitation Centre, Patiala.

Deputy commissioner Alok Shekhar, while presiding over the function, said the abhiyaan had led to the improvement of infrastructure in the schools. He appealed to the parents of the students to extend helping hand for implementation of the scheme so that all children between the age of six and 14 could get compulsory education.

He said a school for deaf and dumb students had been opened in Kherabad village, near Ropar, in which about 65 students had already been admitted. Another school would be opened in Nurpurbedi.

 

high court
Ludhiana Improvement Trust Case
Ch Jagjit Singh granted interim bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Following a marathon two-hour hearing, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted interim bail till July 30 to former Punjab local bodies minister Ch Jagjit Singh in the Ludhiana Improvement Trust case.

The counsel for Ch Jagjit Singh submitted that eight of the co-accused in the case had been granted either anticipatory or regular bail, while his client was still waiting for relief for the past 54 days.

A prayer was made that the petitioner, Ch Jagjit Singh, was willing to cooperate with the investigating authorities and will obey any conditions imposed by the court.

It was further submitted by the petitioner’s counsel that the inquiry report by the Vigilance Bureau did not point fingers at the former minister.

The petitioner’s counsel highlighted the fact that Zee News sting operation relating to the scam never attributed any role to Ch Jagjit Singh.

The prosecution hammered hard on getting the custody of the petitioner submitting that it was essential for the efficient interrogation and thorough probe.

When Justice Ranjit Singh asked the prosecution’s counsel as to why he needed the custody of the petitioner, the counsel replied that the custody was needed to recover money allegedly paid to the former minister as kickback and to unravel the knots of the scam.

Incidentally, a Ludhiana court had issued non-bailable warrants for Ch Jagjit Singh’s arrest last month following the registration of a case by Vigilance Bureau against the former minister and others.

Another accused in the improvement trust case, Amit Sardana, was given bail by Justice Ranjit Singh today. The accused had been in judicial custody since March 31.

Notice to Punjab on Amarinder’s plea

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the Punjab Government and others on a petition by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in which he sought permission to visit Nepal from May 17 to 26.

The application, moved by Amarinder under the section 482 CrPC, further sought directions to authorities concerned to not to detain him at the time of his departure to Nepal and on his arrival to New Delhi at IGI airport by virtue of a lookout notice or red corner notice, if any, issued by the Punjab Government.

It was prayed that in case of the arrest of the petitioner, he should be released on bail to the satisfaction of the arresting authority and that he would join investigations as and when summoned.

Captain Amarinder Singh said he was in the process of writing a book titled ‘Last Sun Set’ relating to Sikh history and wanted to visit Nepal for research work.

The notice has been issued for May 16.

 

City Centre Scam
Court refuses interim relief to Sibia
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, May 15
Special judge Gurbir Singh today refused to grant interim relief to Paramjit Singh Sibia, former chairman of the Improvement Trust, a prime accused in the multi-crore City Centre Scam.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had given him a clean chit in scam, during his speech at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Sibia, in his anticipatory bail application, claimed that the government had publicly exonerated him.

He said that at the time of opening of bids on May 17, 2005, trustees S.P. Singh Bindra, Sanjay Talwar, Bhupinder Singh Basant, and Navkar Jain, executive officer, were also present along with him. He also justified the allocation of the mega project to Today Homes.

The judge, without granting any interim relief, issued a notice to the Vigilance Bureau to produce its record on May 23. 

 

State Round-up
Central schemes: Nodal officer appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
To streamline the implementation of centrally sponsored schemes for Punjab, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has appointed Gurkirat Kirpal Singh special nodal officer in the Chief Minister's office. The officer has been appointed additional principal secretary to the Chief Minister.

Gurkirat Kirpal Singh will pursue with the central government all proposals of the Punjab government regarding centrally sponsored schemes. He will also monitor and pursue with different ministries plans submitted by the state government under such schemes. A separate nodal officer is also being appointed in Delhi to pursue the cases of Punjab with different ministries.

Wheat procurement

Chief Minister Badal today asked the union government to extend the date of wheat procurement from May 31 to June 30.

Badal has written to the government of India pointing out that wheat arrivals in the mandis of Punjab have been late this year due to late maturity of the wheat crop and manual harvesting. He said that since wheat was still arriving in the mandis, it would be appropriate to extend the date of procurement.

Sangat darshan

R.I Singh, state chief secretary, and N.P.S. Aulakh, director-general of police, will hold sangat darshan at the Chief Minister's residence here every Wednesday.

This was stated today by media adviser to the Chief Minister Harcharan Bains. He said the Chief Minister would, however, continue to hold sangat darshan on Tuesdays.

Dasmesh Academy

The board of governors of Sri Dasmesh Academy, Anandpur Sahib, which met here today under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, approved a grant of Rs 65 lakh for the smooth functioning of the academy in addition to Rs 10 lakh from the Chief Minister's discretionary fund for the repair and maintenance of the building.

A government spokesman said the Chief Minister constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the deputy commissioner, Ropar, to dispose of about 9 acres of the academy land in the Tarapur road area. This was not required by the academy any more. The money from the sale of the land would be utilised as an endowment fund for the upkeep of the building. He also directed the deputy commissioner to depute the SDM, Anandpur Sahib, and the executive engineer, PWD (B&R), to jointly inspect the academy for getting different blocks of the institution repaired by building contractors of repute.

Lt-Gen Daljeet Singh, GOC-in-C, western command, suggested to the Chief Minister to explore the possibility of converting the academy into a sainik school.

 

Quack arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
An alleged quack, Rashpal Chana, who claimed to cure AIDS, was today arrested by the police. A case has been registered at Kotwali police station.

Meanwhile, drug inspector Dinesh Gupta today conducted surprise checks at Kullar Medicos and Ranjit Medicos at Nabha and seized 40 types of drugs.

Civil surgeon Usha Dhingra directed the drug inspector to check the shops on a complaint. Most of these drugs are misused as intoxicants. During the search, 56,692 tablets, 4,850 capsules, 287 bottles of cough syrup and 297 injections were seized.

The owners of the medical shops failed to produce any purchase record of these drugs.

On checking Sky Lab Medical Agencies, Natan Wali Gali, Patiala, 58 types of drugs, which were marked as physician sample, were seized.

 

20 held for gambling

Patiala, May 15
The local police arrested 20 persons involved in operating Satta from different locations of the city here today.

The police raided various places falling within the area of Kotwali police station. According to the information, 17 cases has been registered against the accused under section 420 of the IPC and section 13A/3/67 of the Gambling Act.

The police also recovered Rs 29,500 from their possession.

In this operation, Mandeep Singh, SP (city), Gurmeet Singh, SP(detective), and Sharanjit Singh, DSP, supervised the raids. — TNS

 

PMT to go online from 2008
Tribune News Service

Patiala May 15
The pre-medical entrance test (PMT) in Punjab will go online from next year. The students will be able to perform in the test from their own personal computers and centres authorised for the purpose in their towns and cities.

Minister for medical education and forest Tikshan Sud gave this information while talking to newsmen at the Government Medical College, Patiala, today.

He was here to oversee the demonstration presented by six software companies for conducting PMT online.

The minister said earlier the government had decided to conduct PMT online from the current year. However, due to time and fund constraint the target could not be achieved .

He said since the medical university did not have adequate funds for implementing the project, the government provided money for making PMT online. A committee comprising experts from Baba Farid Medical University, Thapar university, Punjab Agricultural University, Guru Nanak Dev University and Panjab University had been formed to complete the formalities for implementing the project from next year.

The director, Medical Education and Research, would be secretary of the committee.

Responding to a query, the minister said the schedule for the PMT exam for the current year would be announced soon.

A project was also being formed to revamp Ayurvedic College, Patiala.

About the reduction of post-graduation seats in government medical colleges of Punjab by the Medical Council of India, the minister said steps were being taken to recruit the staff and upgrade infrastructure as per norms.

 

PU tells colleges to adopt villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
With a view to help rural students and to reduce the gap between rural and urban students, Panjab University has asked colleges across the state to adopt one or two villages around them to help and guide 10+2 students to prepare for the various entrance tests.

PU Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti mooted the idea while addressing college principals during the second phase of his visit to PU’s affiliated colleges at Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana.

Stating that the university is ready to extend all possible help to rural students, Sobti said the university can conduct mock entrance tests at these colleges for such students.

He said a standing committee had been set up for the preparation of guidelines, syllabi, etc, for the add-on courses and innovative programmes being started by colleges. An ‘add-on-cell’ had been created at the university under the charge of an Assistant Registrar.

He also proposed setting up of a separate cell under the aegis of Dean, College Development Council, for providing guidance and information to colleges from the university. This would require an additional expenditure of Rs 1.5 crore which he wanted the colleges to meet.

He assured the principals that he would take up the issue of retention of science classes of 10+2 level with colleges with the Punjab Government. He said there was a need to lift the ban on the recruitment of lecturers against aided posts and review of posts and extension of 95 per cent grant in-aid to all the posts.

The college principals demanded that electricity charges should be collected at domestic rates and students of un-aided affiliated colleges be also provided the facility of bus passes.

He informed the principals that results would not be declared till the detail mark sheets were ready.

The Vice-Chancellor asked colleges to collect DMCs within three days of the declaration of the results. Private students would get the DMCs within seven days after giving the proof of their identity.

 

Pak team visits GND varsity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
A delegation from Pakistan, led by a renowned television artiste Aysha Tasleem, publication consultant of the National Council of Arts, Pakistan, visited the Guru Nanak Dev University campus here today, to explore the possibilities of promoting cultural and educational exchange programmes for mutual interests of the two neighbouring countries.

Aysha held discussions with the vice-chancellor and other senior faculty members of the university.

The VC said since the university was located close to the border, academic institutions of Pakistan can look at educational exchange programmes under which students, faculty and research scholars could go across the border to get more exposure. 

 

Punjabi University
Rs 20 crore earmarked for development
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
Punjabi University, Patiala, has chalked out a plan to spend Rs 20 crore for raising of new buildings, infrastructure and new courses at its four neighbourhood campuses at Jhunir, Karandi, Rallah and Rampura Phul in Mansa and Bathinda districts.

The four campuses were introduced last year with panchayats of these villages donating 300 acres of land worth Rs 100 crore for the project.

Vice-chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai said of the allotted Rs 20 crore, Rs 10 crore was given as financial aid by the Planning Commission of India.

“This has provided a big fillip to Punjabi University’s effort of providing technical and professional education to rural underprivileged students,” he said.

The university will spend the money in a phased manner. While Rs 12 crore will be spent during 2007-08, the remaining Rs 8 crore will be spent in the next financial year,” Boparai added.

The first phase will see the construction of buildings for a B.Ed college and girls’ hostel at the Baba Dhian Dass neighbourhood campus at Jhunir. While Rs 5.50 crore each will be spent in the first phase on the girls’ hostels and teaching blocks at the Karandi and Rallah campuses, another Rs 2.70 crore has been earmarked for constructing a B.Ed college complex at Rampura Phul in Bathinda district. The construction work of an engineering college and hostel is already in progress there.

The university has already spent around Rs 1.10 crore for the renovation, furnishing and infrastructure of various labs and workshops in these campuses.\

The new courses, slated to be introduced the next academic session at the campus at Rampura Phul, include MCA and BTech in electronics, communication and computer engineering. BCA and MSc(IT) courses will be introduced at the Rallah campus from the 2007-08 session.

 

Blame Game
Ex-dean accused of swindling funds
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
The Punjabi university authorities today accused Dr Baltej Singh Mann, professor, and former dean, resource mobilisation, of embezzling NSS funds.

In the press release issued by the university spokesperson, it has been stated that NSS program coordinator Dr B.S. Mann issued grants to many organisations on fictitious grounds and mustered large amounts from NSS accounts.

Dr Mann had been sending NSS money to those institutions where no student was enrolled, the authorities alleged. They maintained that vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai had ordered an inquiry into the misuse of funds.

Dr Mann when contacted, however, termed the allegations as false and fabricated. He said the accounts of the NSS were audited by the accountant general office. The registrar of the university was also responsible for the audit of the NSS account, he said, adding that if no objection had been raised as yet by the registrar and the audit department then why these allegations were being leveled against me.

The authorities have also accused Dr Mann of having committed fraud in accounts of Baba Fraid Sewa Kendra (BFSK). The BFSK was opened as Patiala chapter of the Baba Farid Memorial Society. Dr Mann was the secretary-general of the Patiala chapter.

Khubi Ram Sharma, finance secretary of the BFSK, in a complaint to the VC alleged that Dr Mann used forged signatures of many of the members to swindle funds of the organisation. Dr Mann, however, said a similar complaint was lodged against him with the police in 1996, but the police found no substance in it.

 

Students suffer due to unavailability of books
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 15
Some books prescribed for different classes by the Punjab School Education Board are still unavailable to students in elementary and high schools of the state despite the start of academic session on April 2.

These books are the second language Hindi book of Class IV, mathematics book of Class VII in English medium, social studies book of Class VII in Hindi medium, and mathematics book of Class X in English and Hindi medium.

A local bookseller said that a large number of students had been visiting his shop for the past one and a half months to buy these books. These books were not available even at the local field office of the Punjab School Education Board.

According to a teacher, the unavailability of these books was effecting children’s studies in a big way.

When The Tribune today contacted Anil Kumar Sharma, district manager of the local field office of the Punjab School Education Board, in this regard today, he said he could not say anything about the reasons behind the non-availability of these books. He added that he had not received these books from the regional office of the board for distribution of the same among the booksellers.

 


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