P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Supply of poor-quality seeds to farmers
Horticulture Dept wants payment despite losses
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 1
Farmers have been hit hard by the poor quality flower seeds supplied by the department of horticulture. It has come to the fore as a scam in which officials of the department had procured poor-quality flower seeds under the national horticulture mission scheme at higher rates and dumped them with the farmers who suffered losses.

Sources said the department procured gladioli bulbs or seeds and supplied it to farmers under the scheme. In Patiala alone, 10 lakh seeds were procured by the department. It is stated that the seeds were imported from Holland at Rs 3. 38 per seed.

However, farmers alleged that the seeds were procured locally. Its size was just 4 cm whereas the size of imported seed is above 8 cm. The price of locally procured gladioli bulb is Rs 1.5 per seed whereas the department procured similar one for Rs 3.40 per seed in papers and further supplied it to farmers.

It has also been alleged that the department did not evaluate the quantity of seed required by farmers. It just procured the seeds and then dumped it with a few farmers.

Patiala-based farmer Kawaljit Singh in a representation to the Chief Minister has alleged that department dumped 2 lakh seeds at his farm. Kawaljit said he was already doing flower cropping in his 18 acre farm in Patiala. Without taking my consent the department dumped seeds at my farm. Since, the bulbs were of poor quality they did not give even 10 per cent yield.

Now, the department is pressurizing Kawaljit to give them the cost of the seed supplied to him. It is only later that they have told him that 2 lakh bulbs or seeds were purchased for Rs 3.80 lakh. The government has given 50 per cent or Rs 1.90 lakh subsidy on it and the rest has to be paid by Kawaljit, he alleged.

Lakhwinder Singh has also alleged that he was being forced to pay for the bulbs that he never asked for and has suffered losses.

The department of horticulture authorities when contacted seemed to be in no mood to accept the blame. Horticulture director Kulbir Singh when contacted said the seeds for Patiala were procured by the local authorities so they alone could comment on it.

Horticulture deputy director, Patiala, Gurdev Singh Cheema when contacted denied the charges.

When asked about the complaint lodged by Lakhiwnder Singh he alleged that he was making excuses. He does not want to return the government’s money for the seed supplied to him.

The sources said under the scheme not more than 40,000 seeds or bulbs were to be provided to a farmer.

Officials of the Haryana horticulture department when contacted said the cost of per seed was Rs 3 while in Patiala it was procured at Rs 3.38 per seed.

Lakhwinder Singh has demanded a high-level inquiry into the supply of poor -quality flower seeds to the farmers in the name of imported ones from Holland.


Vote and make Taj Mahal stay on Seven Wonders list
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Taj Mahal, “a tear drop on the cheek of eternity”, as Gurudev Rabinder Nath Tagore described it, may cease to be one of the seven wonders of the world after July 7 as it is facing tough competition from 20 other wonders. This is despite the fact that India has over one billion people but not too many who could vote to ensure that the Taj remains in the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.

The new seven wonders is a proposed revision being initiated by a Swiss-based organisation, New Open World Corporation (NOWC). The selection is being made by free and paid votes through telephone and online. The first vote is free to registered members of the organisation and additional votes may be purchased through payment.

The project was launched by the NOWC in September 1999. By November 24, 2005, 177 monuments were up for consideration. To be included on the new list, the wonders had to be man-made, completed before 2000 and in an acceptable state of preservation. On January 1, 2006, the NOWC said the list had been narrowed to 21 sites and later to 20, following complaints from Egypt. The final list of new seven wonders would be released worldwide on July 7.

In the final round Taj Mahal faces competition from Acropolis of Athens, Alahmbra in Spain, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Chien Itza in Mexico, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Colosseum in Italy, Easter Island Moais in Chile, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Great Wall in China, Hagia Sophia in Turkey, Kiyomizu Temple in Japan, Kremlin, Red Square and Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Machu Picchu in Peru, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, Petra in Jordan, Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge in UK, Sydney Opera House and Timbuktu in Mali. The Pyramids of Egypt have been taken out of competition following protests from the Egyptian government.

Surprisingly, not many in India know about the voting. Even the Government of India and Ministry of Tourism and Culture did not take note of the issue till recent past. With time running out, the ministry has now put a banner on its website to vote for the Taj. The awareness level in India is so poor that only 2 per cent of votes have gone from India. As of today, Taj Mahal figures 14th in the list.

However, there are some people like Zuben Chanakya Bhambi, Surinder Sharma, Puneet Dhawan and Mohit Arora from Ludhiana, who have taken the lead to create awareness among the countrymen to vote as still more than a month is left for voting. It can be done through mobile by simply typing Taj and send to 4567.

Among the celebrities who have joined the campaign include musician A.R. Rehman and environmentalist M.C. Mehta. Voting is currently going online on new7wonders.com. An organisation, India United for Taj, has also been formed in this regard.

The campaign has also faced severe criticism as some contenders like the Bahai World Centre in Haifa, Israel or the Lotus Temple in Delhi, which receives more visitors than the Taj Mahal, have not been included.

The Pyramids were taken out of the competition following Egyptian culture minister Farouq Hosni saying that the pyramid is “the only surviving monument of the original ancient wonder”.


1,300 snap ties with Sacha Sauda sect
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 1
As many as 1,300 followers of Dera Sacha Sauda from 26 villages and Sangrur town today snapped ties with the sect at a religious function held at Gurdwara Gurparkash Sahib at Kherri Sahib village, about 7 km from here. Those who left Dera Sacha Sauda were from Kherri, Nagri, Kanoi, Lad Banjara, Chhajli, Sandoha, Mehlan, Mangwal, Aklian, Uppli, Rangian, Kattu, Kular Khurd, Dhanaula Khurd, Kaulserri, Batuha, Bhaini Jassa, Nihalgarh, Dhandoli Kalan, Kotduna, Kalabula, Kila Hakeema, Gaggarpur, Khetla, Kila Batuha, Kammo Majra villages.


Hanspal’s charge
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 1
Former PPCC president H.S. Hanspal has alleged that the law and order in the state is in a poor shape. Goons are on the rise. This can be proved with the apathetic attitude towards his nephew Mahinder Partap Singh who is battling for life at the Civil Hospital here.

Addressing a press conference here today, Hanspal alleged that the administration was providing shelter to goons who had attacked his nephew on May 23. He was severely beaten up and his legs and arms were fractured.But the police registered the case under Section 107/51,IPC, only against 11 assaulters.

Hanspal said the dispute was about the possession of 10 acres of land. The apex court had given verdict in favour of his nephew. As per court orders, his nephew had to take the possession of his land situated at Dhaula on May 26, but the opposite party attacked him on May 23 to prevent him from doing so.

Hanspal also expressed dissatisfaction over the medical treatment being given to Mahinder at the hospital. He demanded the formation of a separate medical board for the examination of his nephew.


Vasundhara’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 1
The unrest in Rajasthan over the Gujjar community’s demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list spread in the district today with a protest taking place in Garhshankar town, 40 km from here.

Members of the community assembled at the local truck union office and took out a protest march and burnt an effigy of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje at the Nangal chowk.

Later, they went to the SDM office and staged a rally there. 


Dissolve MCs, demands BJP

Pathankot, June 1
The district unit of the BJP has demanded the dissolution of Municipal Councils, Pathankot and Sujanpur. It was alleged that these had become dens of corruption.

Ashok Prashar, president of the district unit of the BJP, at a meeting here today alleged that in the Pathankot MC seven municipal councillors (including 5 from the Congress) had submitted a memorandum to the executive officer of the council here on Wednesday. In it they had asked him to convene a meeting of the House and ask civic body chief Sharvan Kumar to prove his majority within 14 days. Likewise in Sujanpur, six municipal councillors had submitted a memorandum of no-confidence motion against MC chief Naresh Puri. — OC


MC charged with misuse of funds
Tribune News Services

Sangrur, June 1
Did the Sangrur Municipal Council (MC) misused Rs 2 crore earned from the sale of municipal land of the old truck union?

This question arose today when residents of two-three bastis and a market outside the Sunami gate here met Sangrur additional deputy commissioner Indu Malhotra and handed over a complaint addressed to the Chief Minister, demanding an independent inquiry into the alleged misuse of Rs 2 crore by the MC.

They also sought strict action against those found guilty.

In the complaint it has been alleged that the MC authorities had spent Rs 2 crore earned from the sale of municipal land on various development and other works without prior approval of the director, local government. In a letter issued on December 8, 2000, by the Department of Local Government it had been stated that the amount earned by the urban local bodies from the sale of properties must be kept in a separate account and specific proposals needed to be made for utilisation of the same.

In the letter the officials of the local bodies had also been asked to send the proposals along with the estimated expenditure, so that sanction was accorded by director, local government.

The main grudge of the residents was that the municipal authorities had spent such a huge amount on works which were less important.

Indu Malhotra told The Tribune that she had sought comments from the EO in this regard.

She had also sent this complaint to the Chief Minister for further action.


Mentally ill? Go to prison: jail manual
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
Incredible it may be but the Punjab Jail Manual, drafted in 1996, provides for detaining “non-criminal lunatics” in district prisons, even though the Mental Health Act, which came into existence nine years earlier, clearly says mentally ill patients can be admitted only to psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes.

This is not all. The word ‘lunatic’ was replaced by ‘mentally ill person’ much before the manual was drafted. Yet it has a complete chapter devoted to ‘lunatics’ in violation of the Mental Health Act of 1987, and the Supreme Court of India’s directions.

These and other infirmities have now been brought to the notice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by a city resident, Dr Upneet Lalli.

Seeking directions to the State of Punjab, through the Secretary, Department of Home, for amending the Jail Manual in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, MHA, Dr Lalli has also asked for setting aside ‘Chapter XXX’ dealing with ‘lunatics’.

Taking up her petition filed in public interest, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, has issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab for October 3.

In her petition Dr Lalli has asserted that the Jail Manual of 1996 was drafted to replace the previous manual as it contained over-a-century old enactments, which had lost their relevance.

But the entire exercise was more of a ‘lip service’ carried out without thorough research or application of mind, even though the intention was to bring the manual in conformity with the changing laws for laying stress on reformation and rehabilitation.

Dr Lalli added that even the Apex Court in “Sheela Barse versus Union of India and another”, reported in 1993, had declared the admission of non-criminal mentally ill persons to jails illegal and unconstitutional. Issuing the orders, the Apex Court had even issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of all states directing them to strictly comply with its directions. Yet the manual was legislated by the Punjab Government in violation of the directions.

She also adds that the Jail Manual only mentions ‘leprosy’ as ‘contagious’ and ‘infectious disease’, even though tuberculosis has been second highest factor responsible for prison deaths. Otherwise also, doctor-prison ratio was extremely low. As such, the manual needs to specify the ratio, besides providing for the adoption of urgent measures to establish clinical laboratories in the district and central jails across the state. Initiation of steps for medical screening prisoners coming to prisons has also been asked for. 


Centre allocates power to state
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
The union government has allocated 270 MW of power from its quota to Punjab.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had taken up the matter with the union government for the allocation of power to the state from its share of unallocated quota.

The union government has its quota of 1,500 MW from central sector power projects. It is allocated to various states on need basis. Badal had told the union government that it required more power from the central pool for the transplantation of paddy in June and later for nursing the paddy crop.


PSEB to launch VDS scheme
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 1
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to introduce voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS) for the regularisation of unauthorised extension in the load of the tube well consumers in the state. PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra said this scheme had been introduced for a period of 2 months extending from May 15 to July 14.

The chairman said the charges for regularisation of excess or unauthorized load declared under VDS should be Rs 1,000 per BHP as service connection charges and Rs 200 per BHP as ACD without levy of any load surcharge.

He, however, added that new AP connections released either under general category or any other category should not be allowed to get unauthorized load regularised under the VDS for a period of three years from the date of release.


Rs 2.5 lakh grant for journalism dept
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 1
As much as Rs 2.5 lakh has been sanctioned to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, by the Ministry of Science and Technology for conducting a national seminar on development and science communications.

According to Dr Harjinder Walia, head of the department, the seminar would be conducted in the second week of July. Eminent professors, media people from all over the country would participate, he added.

A book will be compiled of papers presented during this seminar. The science and technology department has been making efforts to develop scientific outlook among common people and this seminar is being conducted as a part of this effort, Dr Walia said.


High Court
Chahal’s plea for pre-arrest notice allowed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
In a lengthy hearing enlivened by animated arguments, Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that B.I.S.Chahal, media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, cannot be arrested till July 4 without a four-day advance notice in any case, other than Ludhiana City Centre case, to be or likely to be registered against him.

The judge pronounced: “For reasons to be recorded later, the petitioner’s prayer that he should be given a seven-day notice prior to his arrest in any other case (other than Ludhiana City Centre case) to be registered against him is allowed but to the extent that till July 4, the petitioner cannot be arrested without a four-day notice in advance if any such case is to be registered. The petitioner is also granted the liberty to move the court under Article 226 of the Constitution.”

The proceedings started on the same exciting note where they had ended yesterday with Advocate-General of Punjab H.S. Mattewal asserting, with liberal references to apex court rulings, that Chahal’s petition for ‘blanket’ protection was not even worthy of being entertained by the court.

He said barbs of R.S. Cheema, Chahal’s counsel, against the Punjab Vigilance Bureau were totally uncalled for and based only on news reports.

To impute ulterior motives to an important investigation wing of the state machinery that too without any evidence was utterly baseless, he emphasised.

He mentioned that Chahal had, till date, not even filed an affidavit authenticating his charges against the Vigilance and Badals.

Mattewal filed an affidavit by the additional secretary, Vigilance, Punjab, which stated that allegations of mala fide against the Vigilance Bureau were false, vague and unfounded and the petition was not maintainable. The affidavit was later withdrawn.

R.S. Cheema, as unrelenting as ever, continued on about the threat to Chahal by the Vigilance and cited various Supreme Court judgments to buttress his point in seeking pre-arrest notice for the petitioner.

The scene really heated up when Cheema informed the court that the high court had been swarming with undercover Vigilance men on May 30, the day Chahal first made his appearance in the court.

This infuriated Justice Uma Nath Singh, who then asked for an affidavit be given by Cheema as well as Mattewal as to how many and which officers were present in the court, along with their department’s duty register.

However, the judge later did not press upon the said affidavits and made no mention of the same in his pronouncement.


Lok Adalats’ schedule released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
The Punjab Legal Services Authority (PLSA) has released a schedule of Lok Adalats to be organised in Punjab from June 1 to September 30.

Disclosing this here today, member secretary, PLSA, said if the Lok Adalat could not be held at any place on the date fixed in the schedule, than it should be held on the day (working one) next succeeding of preceding week, as appropriate, with prior intimation to this office and other concerned.

Giving details regarding the schedule, member secretary said on August 3, Lok Adalat would be held in the Labour Court, Amritsar and Bathinda.

On August 11, the adalat would be held in Amloh, Ajnala, Abohar, Anandpur Sahib, Barnala, Batala, Balachaur, on August 25, in Baba Bakala, Dhuri, Dasuya, Fazilka, Garhshankar, Jagraon, Kharar, Muktsar and August 31, at Labour Court in Gurdaspur and Jalandhar.

On September 8, the adalat would be held in Amritsar, Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala Ludhiana, Patiala, Ropar, Sangrur and Mansa.

On September 14, the adalat would be held at Labour Court, Ludhiana, and also in Patiala. On September 15 in Khanna, Malerkotla, Nakodar, Moga, Nawanshahr, Nabha, Jalalabad (West), Mohali.

On September 22, the adalat would be held in Malout, Moonak, Patti, Pathankot, Phillaur, Phagwara, Rampura Phul, Rajpura, Sardulgarh and on September 29, in Sultanpur Lodhi, Samana, Samrala, Sunam, Talwandi Sabo, Tarn Taran, Zira and Gidarbaha.


SDM initiates criminal proceedings against father
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
A woman PCS officer, posted as SDM (West) here, has initiated criminal proceedings against her father, a stepmother and two stepbrothers and another person, for allegedly making false certificates of stepbrothers to usurp the property owned by the SDM’s family.

In FIR lodged at Division No. 8 police station, SDM Amrit Kaur Gill has charged her father, Jaswant Singh, of maintaining illicit relationship with a woman and giving birth to two children. The birth certificates of the two children were allegedly forged with wrong names of the parents.

On the basis of her complaint, the police has booked Jaswant Singh, his alleged sons Daljeet Singh and Dalraj Singh, along with their mother, Rupinder Kaur, and one Surinder Singh under Sections 420, 465,467,468, 471 and 494 of the IPC, besides Section 120-B for allegedly trying to grab the property.

The SDM also alleged that though in the false birth certificates, Daljit and Dalraj were shown as children of Rupinder Kaur and Surinder Singh. They were children of Gurbachan Singh and the supporting certificates and documents were appended with the FIR.


Advocate fears threat to life
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 1
Fearing threat to his life and members of his family an advocate of Baba Bakala has urged the state government to provide security to him besides arresting the accused who had allegedly assaulted him and four others on March 11. Addressing media persons here today advocate Navtej Singh and member Baba Bakala Bar Association said the police had failed to arrest SAD worker Jasbir Singh, who was roaming freely in the area along with his two gunmen. He alleged SAD MLA Manjinder Singh Kang was sheltering the accused against whom a case had already been registered.

Kang said baseless allegations were being levelled against him to malign his image. He said he had never sheltered any culprit against whom criminal case had been filed. Singh said he had also written to the DGP, IGP and the SSP Amritsar (Rural) in this regard but no action had been taken . However, district police chief Iqbal Singh said an inquiry had been marked to the SP-rank official. 


Court without judge for 18 months
Tribune News Service

Patiala June 1
The Labour Court, Patiala, is without judge for the past 18 months. This has hit the justicial system, especially in cases of labourers that have been pending in the court.

The sources here said more than 10,000 cases had been lying pending in the court for the past two years. Besides, 5,000 fresh applications had been received that were yet to the enrolled.

Kuldeep Singh Toor, a labour law advisor, has written to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to intervene in the matter and get a Labour Court judge appointed at Patiala.aGenerally an Additional District and Session Judge is posted as the Labour Courts Judge. The sources said due to the inadequate infrastructure provided by the government ,nobody wanted to be appointed as a Labour Court judge.


Hafed, Markfed enter into contract farming
Rope in Punjab, Haryana farmers to grow paddy
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation (Markfed) and Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation, Haryana (Hafed) have roped in hundreds of farmers in Punjab and Haryana for contract farming of basmati and sharbati varieties of paddy, on 22,000 acres across 16 districts in the two states.

Punjab has decided to increase the area under contract farming from 16,000 hectares to 20,000 hectares, across 13 districts of Amritsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Moga, Muktsar, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ropar. On the other hand, Haryana, which had started contract farming of paddy on 800 acres last year, will now be bringing 2000 hectares in Karnal, Kurukshetra and Kaithal, under contract farming this year.

While Punjab is going in for contract farming of both basmati and non-basmati varieties like PB1, PB1121, super basmati, and HBC 19, Haryana is going in for contract farming of only basmati varieties.

Officials in the two state cooperatives told TNS that both state cooperatives would enter into contracts with farmers directly, and buy back the produce from them. Last year, while Hafed had entered into contract farming directly, Markfed had acted as facilitator between the farmers and some private firms for contract farming of paddy. However, after the private firms offered less rates to the farmers as compared to the market rates at the time of procurement, this year Markfed has decided to go on its own and buy back the produce.

Last year, contract farming in Punjab was done at pre-determined parameters of quality, price and trade. However, this year the contracts are being signed with farmers and are linked to the market price at the time of harvest.

Hafed, too, is signing contracts by offering farmers model prices as listed in the two mandis of Tarawari and Thanesar. These initiatives will ensure that the farmers in the two states get more than the market price and are not at a loss. The farmers will get certified seeds from the state cooperatives and also be provided with subsidy on inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, and insecticides. Free advisory services will also be provided to the farmers in the two states. While Hafed has hired a private consultant for the purpose, Markfed is making use of the state resources for providing technical guidance to farmers. The aim is to enhance produce and its quality so that both farmers and buyers stand benefited. 


Payment to farmers through cheques
Board passes resolution 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 1
Punjab Mandi Board has passed a resolution advocating making payments to farmers through cheques. The resolution has been sent to the government for approval.

Chairman of the board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal admitted that the resolution had been sent to the government. He said the decision taken by the former Congress government to make payments to farmers through account payee cheques was stalled but not withdrawn. The board had endorsed the decision as it was in the interests of the farmers.

“As chairman I also have to protect the interests of the commission agents. They will continue to get the commission at the prescribed rates,” he added. However, the arhtiya association is up in arms against the proposal. They are alleging that making payments directly to the farmers would affect their jobs.

As per rough estimates, arhtiyas have extended loans worth about Rs 12,000 crore to farmers. However, they fear that in case the farmers get payments through cheques they would loose the money extended to farmers for sowing the crops.

The association is planning to take up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. They have started a campaign of getting signatures from farmers against the government move to give payments through cheques. However, leaders of the farmers association are alleging that presently the farmers are at the mercy of arhtiyas. They can easily get their signatures on any papers as they are under debt.


2 held for cutting forest trees
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 1
Two persons were caught by the special task force (STF) constituted by the forest department while they were illegal cutting trees in an adjoining forest yesterday night. Conservator of forest Praveen Kumar said the STF raided the forest adjoining Bariya Pattan village yesterday night and arrested two persons identified as Balvir Singh and Kala Singh in this regard.

STF sleuths seized three trees and an equipment from the spot. DFO M.Geetanjali along with forest officials inspected the adjoining area and found that 14 more forest trees had illegally been cut estimated to be worth more than Rs 1 lakh. In addition to this, the two had illegally encroached upon 5 Kanal in the forest which they were

using for agricultural purposes in violation of the Forest Security Act 1980.

Both of them have been arrested under the Wildlife Security Act 972, Indian Forest Act 927 and the Forest Security Act 1980.


Student’s Murder
A case of revenge
Contract killers were hired; 2 arrested
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 1
The investigation into the murder of Amandeep Singh, a student of the local engineering college, which took place on the night of May 28, has brought contract killing into light.
Naunihal Singh, SSP, shows the photos of the absconding contract killers.
Naunihal Singh, SSP, shows the photos of the absconding contract killers.

The investigation by the a special team led by DSP Vinod Chaudhray has concluded that Amandeep was murdered by contract killers for Rs 4 lakh. The body of Amandeep was found in a field near Model Town.

The killers were hired by Charanjit Singh, an employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), to avenge the death of his son Harkirat Singh, which took place in July 2004.

Nau Nihal Singh, SSP, said Charanjit in a complaint to the police had named Amandeep and others in connection with the death of his son. However, due to lack of evidence the police authorities found Amandeep and others innocent.

Charanjit hired the killers through a barber, Rajiv Kumar, and they have been identified as Sukhminder Singh and Kinder Singh. The accused were paid Rs 50,000 as advance. The killers further engaged a boy, Jatinder Kumar, who developed friendship with Amandeep.

On May 28, Jatinder along with Amandeep took liquor. Then Jatinder took him to the farms owned by Nachhattar Singh. There he along with the hired killers committed the crime.

The SSP said Charanjit and Jatinder had been arrested.


Man murders wife

Bathinda, June 1
Muni, a 30-year-old woman and mother of three-year-old child, was allegedly murdered by her husband Mewa Lal at their house located near Khialiwala village of the district late last night.

Working as labourer at a brick-kiln, Mewa Lal first thrashed his wife with sticks and then allegedly strangulated her to death. After committing the crime, the accused, who belonged to UP, fled along with his child.

The murder came to light when other labourers went to the house of Mewa Lal and found her lying dead. A case has been registered. — TNS


NRI held for duping girls into marriage
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, June 1
The free run of NRI Nirmal Verma, who allegedly duped Punjabi girls into marriage on the pretext of taking them abroad, ended today with the local police arresting him and his driver Baljit Singh.

He was arrested on the complaint of Navdeep Kaur, a resident of Garg Colony here.

SHO Bikramjit Singh Brar said his modus operandi was to give matrimonial advertisements in newspapers and marry girls on the pretext of taking them to the UK.

Verma (49), who posed as a divorcee, married Navdeep on April 6 last year. Later, he took Navdeep to the UK where she came to know that he was already married to Balwant Kaur, a resident of Patiala.

When she objected to this relationship she was allegedly tortured by the NRI. However, Navdeep escaped from his clutches and lodged a complaint with the Rajpura police on her arrival in India.

Police sources said the NRI again inserted a matrimonial advertisement in a Chandigarh-based newspaper on April 4.

The police arrested him and his driver after it got information about his presence in Rajpura today.

The police also booked NRI’s father P.S. Verma, mother Sakuntla Verma, and another woman Kamlesh in the case.


Cops demand Rs 15,000, sent to Police Lines
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 1
Two head constables, posted in the Sadar police station area, allegedly stopped a person at Bahabwala check post located on the Hanumangarh-Abohar road yesterday. The man was smuggling 15 kg poppy husk from the neighbouring Hanumangarh in Rajasthan.

The policemen allegedly forced the man to hand over 14 kg poppy husk and demanded Rs 15,000 for not booking him under the NDPS Act. Then he was let off. Later, he was again stopped by a patrolling party near Rohiranwali village and arrested for possessing 1 kg poppy husk which the two head constables had left.

The patrolling party produced the man before DSP Parampal Singh, who heard his story. The two head constables were sent to the district police lines. The SSP was told to initiate further action against the erring cops, sources said.


Maths, English pose hurdles
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
English and mathematics continue to be high hurdles to negotiate for school students in Punjab.

In government and recognised schools, 49.76 per cent of the students have cleared the mathematics examination of class VIII conducted by the Punjab school education board for the academic year 2006-07.

In English, the average pass percentage is 61.26 for the session 2006-07. Compared to the last academic year, the fall in the pass percentage in mathematics is about 17 and in English about 2.5 per cent.

As far as the overall performance of students is concerned, a disaster has seemingly hit school education in the state. Of the 4,11,653 students of government and other recognised schools who appeared in the class VIII examination, only 2,27,992 cleared the examination. The pass percentage in this regard is 55.38. The fall in the pass percentage as compared to last year is about 9.6.

Of the 1,02,324 students from non-recognised schools, 5,37,02 cleared the examination. The pass percentage of these students is 52.48, less by 10.20 per cent as compared to last year’s figure.

“It amounts to emotional harm to young students,” says Manohar Lal Chopra, educationist and former member of the board. Chopra said the state government, the board and the teaching community were responsible for the prevailing mess at the school education level. He said the Badal government had talked a lot about improving school education but had not initiated a single step to improve it so far.“Without restructuring the institutions managing school education, no improvement is possible”, he added.

In fact, in the case of most of the schools, the pass percentage does not reflect the real picture. The pass percentage of most government schools varies between 10 and 30. There are schools with a pass percentage of even below 10 .

Only one student out of 62 cleared the examination from a government school in the Sultanpur Lodhi constituency represented by education minister Upinderjit Kaur. Several such examples can be given from various other parts of the state. Even in some urban areas, the pass percentage is very low.

When questioned in this regard, Upinderjit Kaur said she had expressed concern over the results to the officers concerned. She said because of the strict check on copying, the pass percentage had gone down. Moreover, this year limited grace marks were allowed. And the evaluation of the answersheets was also strict, she added.

The board has copied the syllabus of the CBSE, but there is big mismatch in conditions prevailing in CBSE schools and government schools of Punjab.

The board has become a purely commercial organisation which is least bothered about improving the standard of education. Most of the members of the board never attend its important meetings.

Besides, the government has not filled vacant posts of teacher for years. It has also not allowed government-aided private schools, which have made a huge contribution to education in Punjab, to fill about 1,500 vacant but approved posts of teacher.


National institute to replace languages dept 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 1
The Punjab languages department, which has been in a state of neglect for a long time, will be upgraded into a national institute of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

This was stated here today by higher education minister Upinderjit Kaur.

She said: “ I need the support of all, including academicians, experts in the field of culture and others concerned to set up such an institute”. Talking to The Tribune in this regard, she said “ all suggestions coming from experts with regard to the setting up of the institute will be welcome”.

“We need such an institution”, she said, adding that a lot of duplication in works being published by various universities with regard to the Punjabi language and literature could be curtailed as the institution could play the role of coordinator.

“ I am of the view that besides other eminent persons in related fields, all vice-chancellors should be members of the governing body of the institute”, she said.

Asked whether she had talked to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this connection, the minister said: “ I will discuss the matter with him soon”.

Asked about the languages department, she said at one point of time it was one of the most prestigious institutions in the state. “ Its achievements in the past were excellent. But for some years, due attention has not been paid to it”, she said. 


Rural students do well in engineering exams
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 1
First batch of students under the Golden Heart Scholarships Scheme of the Yadavindra College of Engineering (YCoE), who took their first engineering examination (B.Tech Ist semester) in January 2007, came out with flying colours as 46 students out of the total 72 secured first division.

The university authorities in a press release issued here yesterday claimed that students of the YCoE with rural background, who faced a major constraint in English language, took the examination that was on line with the University College of Engineering (UCoE), and gave a sterling performance as compared to the students of the UCoE.

Had the charity of the people not available to them to bear the burden of the fees, their talent and potential would not have been explored. Most of the UCoE students are from urban background and from well-to-do families with exposure to best possible facilities available as opposed to the students of the YCoE.

A total of 72 students of the YCoE took the examination while 210 students appeared for the same examination at UCoE. As many as 71 per cent students of the YCoE passed this examination while 78 per cent students of the UCoE cleared the first semester.


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