P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BEd Entrance
Council’s condition puts students in fix
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
A section of students belonging to Punjab have expressed apprehension over the validity of the entrance test for one-year BEd course to be conducted by Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak on August 18. This is because the MDU has pegged the eligibility at 45 per cent against 50 per cent as specified by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), Delhi.

The NCTE is a regulatory body which lays down norms for colleges and institutions running BEd and MEd courses.

A section of the students from Punjab had been rendered ineligible for the entrance for BEd course conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala, recently as the minimum marks required to appear in the test were fixed at 50 per cent in graduation or MA.

Pushpinder Kaur (name changed), who had scored 47 per cent marks in BA and could not appear in the Punjab BEd entrance, had made up her mind to appear for the Haryana BEd test. But now she is in a fix as she got information that the NCTE rules specify that the basic eligibility for admission to the BEd course was 50 per cent.

Talking to TNS here today, she said after she inquired about the basic eligibility from the authorities at Punjabi University she was told that the eligibility conditions had been revised from the last academic session. She said even last year the Punjab BEd entrance test had been conducted with 50 per cent as the basic eligibility. She expressed surprise that how the MDU had reduced the eligibility to 45 per cent. A number of students who had applied for BEd entrance, demanded that the Haryana government should promise them that no academic harm would be done to them if the entrance test was not given validity by the NCTE.

Interestingly the NCTE website displays the notification (F.49-4/2006-NCTE (N&S) dated July 21, 2006, which states that the candidates with at least 50 per cent marks either in the BA and/or in the MA or any other equivalent qualification are eligible for admission to the programme.

Senior officials of the MDU admitted that they had kept the eligibility for admission to the course at 45 per cent. They claimed that nobody had pointed out to them that the NCTE condition. When asked that if the matter was brought to the notice of the NCTE what would be the status of students admitted to the BEd course with less than 50 per cent marks, the officials preferred to keep mum.

Meanwhile, no official of the NCTE was available for comments.


Lehra Stage-II
Delay costs PSEB 2,300 cr
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
The PSEB has suffered losses of Rs 2,300 crore due to delay in commissioning of 500 MW Lehra Mohabbat, stage-II, project. This includes loss of Rs 700 crore due to cost escalation, Rs 350 crore due to increase in interest rates and the remaining on account of purchasing costly power from other states.

The project that was to be commissioned by March. But the commissioning of two 250 MW turbines at the Lehra thermal plant is likely to be delayed by at least one year.

Sources in the PSEB said the techno-economic clearance for the stage-II project of the Lehra Mohabbat power plant was received by the board in 1999. It was initially decided that the PSEB would implement it on its own. The PSEB tied up for loans for the project but the state government declined to give counter guarantee for the same. Due to it the loan was declined by financial institutions. Then the government decided to form special purpose vehicles in this regard. The deliberations over the issue continued for 16 months without any result.

Ultimately following a bureaucratic decision, the job for implementing the project was awarded to BHEL. Due to three-year delay the cost of the project increased from Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 1,700 crore. However, now it is being pegged at Rs 2,200 crore.

The PSEB had raised a loan under the Accelerated Generation Program at a soft interest rate of 3 per cent. The low interest rates came with a condition that the project should be completed on schedule. However, as the project had not been completed on time, the PSEB would have to pay higher interest rate. This would cause loss of Rs 250 crore to the PSEB. An additional loss of Rs 100 crore would be caused due to increase in interest rate of other loans. The cost of purchasing power from other states has been pegged at Rs 1,800 crore.

Meanwhile, the engineers association of the PSEB has alleged that the sub-contractors carrying out the work on behalf of BHEL were not adopting proper quality check and safety measures. 


Centre playing politics
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The union government led by Dr Manmohan Singh has started playing politics with the SAD-BJP government in Punjab on the issue of the Bathinda oil refinery.

All credit has been given to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for setting up the oil refinery in a full-page advertisement got published in certain newspapers today by the union ministry of petroleum and natural gas. There is no mention of the SAD-BJP government in the advertisement and no credit for the project has been given to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Certainly, there is a political purpose behind getting this advertisement inserted.

Badal has been claiming that he had brought the project to Punjab when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. He has been saying that the foundation stone of the refinery was laid by Vajpayee during the earlier tenure of the SAD-BJP government in 1998. However, the Congress has been challenging this claim. Recently, speaking in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Kanwarjit Singh, Congress MLA from Muktsar, had stated that his father, Harcharan Singh Brar, former Chief Minister of Punjab, had brought the refinery project to the state.

A few days ago, a delegation of Congress MLAs led by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had met certain union ministers, including petroleum minister Murli Deora, to convey that Badal should not be allowed to get credit for setting up the oil refinery in Punjab when the UPA government had made efforts to revive the project by involving steel baron L.N. Mittal in the project.

Bhattal and other Congress MLAs were upset following comments made by Badal that they ( Punjab Congress leaders) had no say at the level of Prime Minister or Congress ministers in the union government. During their visit to Delhi, Congress MLAs from Punjab had met Deora in this regard and congratulated him on reviving the refinery project. Claiming credit for the refinery by the UPA government in today’s advertisements as well as in earlier advertisments should be seen in the light of these political developments. Sources said t here would be no formal function for its re-launch.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the board of directors of the refinery was held yesterday in Delhi. The HPCL has asked the Punjab government to acquire 200 acres more for the project.


Wolverhampton-India Project
Punjab, Chandigarh schools, JCT Mills to benefit from project
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Punjab and Chandigarh will be major beneficiaries of the Wolverhampton-India Project launched in the House of Commons (UK) yesterday.

According to members of Indian community in the Midlands, UK, of three key elements of the project - trade, education and sports - the region hopes to derive the maximum advantage from the last two. Many e-mails from Punjabi community in the UK and beneficiary institutions in India have hailed the project as path breaking.

Award of a British Council grant for an online project between schools in Wolverhampton and Punjab and Chandigarh on climate change and sustainable future, a friendship agreement between Wolverhampton Wanderers and JCT Mills (Phagwara) football teams and building of an Asian Future centre at University of Wolverhampton through partnership of the Ashram Housing Association are the salient features of the project.

Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, and organiser of the project said, “This project is born out of a desire to seize opportunities presented by globalisation. The world is becoming smaller. Movement of people, goods and capital has probably never been easier than today.

In the first six months of the last financial year alone, UK agencies helped secure 11 new investment projects from India. These figures show globalisation is not a one-way street where jobs and investment flow out of wealthier developed countries into growing developing countries like India and China. It is rather a two- way street. Flow of investment and jobs travels in both directions. And only those countries will succeed which seize opportunities and make the most of these.

By project numbers, India now is the third largest inward investor in the UK, behind the USA and Japan. There are 500 India-owned companies in the UK and we are home to 60 per cent of the Indian inward investment that comes to Europe.

‘Wolverhampton,’ says Pat McFadden, “would gain as it is an attractive location for potential investment. Any Indian investor, thinking of locating in the UK should know that will find help with location, staff recruitment, links with the University and College and an established group of business champions in Wolverhampton.

The establishment of a South Asian Futures Centre in a partnership between the university of Wolverhampton and Ashram Housing as part of a growing relationship with India.

In the area of education a British Council backed project for a cluster of schools in Wolverhampton and a cluster of schools in Punjab will help them to work together to learn more about climate change and how it affects their two countries.

The schools project will use broadband and interactive whiteboard technology to explore how climate change affects each country and what actions individuals; schools and cities can take a deal with the consequences of climate change. WS Atkins, the world’s third largest design company, are sponsoring the multi-media aspects of the project. Schools will communicate using a specifically designed online portal.

The UK Educational and Research Initiative (UKIERI) stipulates the projects should be undertaken for three years initially, so it is thought that year seven would be the best starting point, carrying the project through to year nine.

The project will result in a joint report to be published in 2008 and the production of learning resources, which can be distributed to other institutions.

The four schools from Wolverhampton are: Moseley Park School, Pendeford High School, High fields High School, and Wolverhampton Girls High School. Six schools from Punjab taking part are MGN Public School, Cambridge International School for girls, Police DAV Public School (all from Jalandhar), MGN Public School (Kapurthala), and Guru Nanak High School and Vivek High School (Chandigarh).

And finally in sport, which has so much power to bring people together, a pioneering friendship between Wolves and JCT Mills of Punjab will entail sharing of coaching commercial and mentoring experiences in soccer.

This initiative would make Wolverhampton the first city to have this kind of relationship with a sister club in India. Wolves and JCT Mils will announce an informal ‘sharing of knowledge’ aimed at promoting best practice between both clubs as part of the wider trade initiative. Activities like sharing of coaching skills will mean that one of Wolves’ FA-qualified coaches will travel to JCT Mills and work with the club’s coaching staff to share best practice in the planning and delivery of training sessions.

A delegation of Directors or Executives from JCT Mills will visit Wolver hampton and spend time touring Molineux, the Training ground and Academy Dome in order to gain an insight in to the operation of an English professional club. This will include attending Molineux on a match day to experience the preparation and delivery of a Coca-Cola Championship game. Depending on availability, a reciprocal visit to JCT Mills will be arranged.

Longer term initiatives for future consideration include: A possible JCT Mills pre-season friendly tournament in Wolverhampton in July 2008 and development of co-merchandising opportunities promoting Wolves and JCT Mills across the Punjab and amongst the UK-based Punjabi community. 


This criminal duo definitely not dumb!
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 26
Life is highly demanding for the physically challenged, but this deaf and dumb duo has posed the biggest challenge to the railway police by their criminal exploits on trains as well as railway stations.

Meet Jang Bahadur and Hanuman, a pair of deaf and dumb criminals who have become a bigger headache for the police than criminals with normal senses.

They can neither speak nor hear. But their brains seem to be sharper than others. Unfortunately, they use the mental faculty for all the wrong purposes.

Expert in looting passengers by administering drug-laced eatables and drinks, lifting bags and purses, besides having a proven worth as pickpockets on board a train and at the station, the youths, aged about 25, have only been brought to book once. After their release, they are suspected to be active again, according to the railway police here.

Police sources said the real identity of the two was not known. One was recognised by a tattoo of Lord Hanuman on his arms while the other had inscribed Jang Bahadur on one of his arms.

The two figure prominently in a special booklet of criminals prepared by the Railway Protection Force, Ludhiana. The booklet is circulated among cops for ready reference.

The accused have been booked under sections 137, 153 and 146 of the Railway Protection Act, besides being charged with looting people using drug-laced eatables, manhandling railway security staff and endangering the life of passengers.

RPF in charge Kulwant Singh said the two were active in North India . “They cleverly use their physical-challenged status to their advantage and get away most of the times,” he says.

First, they pass as innocents to cops or passengers owing to their physical condition. Even if caught with the booty, the passengers, moved by sympathy, do not hand them over to the cops.

And finally when they are taken into custody, it is hell of a job for the cops to extract any information or confession from them.

A cop, who had caught them, revealed that it was difficult to understand what the two said during questioning. They were illiterate. The cops have no training in understanding the sign language.

To understand them, the cops arranged an interpretor from Jalandhar last year. After gruelling court sessions, where the interpretor was used, the two were sentenced to six-month imprisonment.


Mohali airport: Punjab asks AAI for funds
Proposal to expand Chandigarh, Amritsar airports 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The setting up of the international airport at Mohali, expansion of the Amritsar international airport with an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore and building of a domestic airport at Sahnewal (Ludhiana) were discussed at a meeting of the senior officers of the Punjab Government with the top brass of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The state government has offered the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to set up the airport at Mohali, adjacent to Chandigarh airport, in a joint venture by becoming equal partner in it. While the state government has offered to provide the requisite 300 acres of land for this purpose, the financial investment will be made by the AAI.

A team of AAI led by the civil aviation secretary, Ashok Chawla, arrived here this afternoon. The team held a detailed discussion with senior officers led by the chief secretary, Ramesh Inder Singh. Ramesh Inder Singh said he expected the Mohali aiport project to materialise in six months. Talking to The Tribune, Chawla said there was a proposal for the upgradation of facilities, including terminal building, at Chandigarh airport with estimated cost of Rs 50 crore. However, if the proposal for the Mohali aiport materialised, then the AAI would prepare a larger project including the upgradation of the Chandigarh aiport.

Chawla said about 300 acres of land would be required for the Mohali airport and 10 acres for the upgradation and expansion of facilities at Chandigarh aiport.

Chawla and other members of the team accompanied by Ramesh Inder Singh would visit Mohali to inspect the proposed site for the airport and then proceed to Sahnewal and finally to Amritsar airport the expansion of which has been planned. Chawla said about 350 acres of land would be required for Sahnewal aiport. Setting up of the international airport at Halwara was finally shelved today.

Chawla said phase I of the expansion of the Amritsar airport had been completed and phase II would be completed by the end of next year. He said 44 acres of land would be required for providing parking and other facilities. The state government had sought 10 acres of land for its flying school from the existing land of Amritsar airport.

“There is 25 per cent average annual growth in internal and external air passenger traffic in the country. And this growth will continue for the next 15 to 20 years,”he said.

Chawla said the AAI was handling the modernisation of Chennai and Kolkata airports while private players are engaged in the modernisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports. He said that Delhi would be having a world class airport by April 2010. Beside it, airport at Hyderabad and Bangalore were also being modernised. He said as a part of new policy frame work, provision had been made for more than one international airport in big cities. Like there would be a new airport in greater Noida in Delhi besides an international airport would be set up at new Mumbai.

Chawla said the government would allow the setting up of airports in private sector also. “We will set up Aiports Regulatory Authority by the year-end. As private players would be involved in airports, the authority is required to deal with issues regarding various kinds of charges and resolving disputes,”he said.


Legal services authority to get more money
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
In a boost to the sagging finances of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority, the principal secretary, finance, D.S. Kalia, and officiating principal secretary, home, S.C. Aggarwal, have agreed to increase the grant-in-aid to the authority from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 30 lakh per annum.

Also, Aggarwal agreed to identify a suitable building or site at Mohali for the Punjab Legal Services Office complex. At present, the authority is functioning from a rented make-shift accommodation.

These decisions were taken during the 10th annual general meeting of the authority presided over by Chief Justice Vijender Jain who is also the patron-in-chief of the authority.

Justice P.Sathasivam, executive chairman of the authority, DGP N.P.S. Aulakh, legal remembrancer Mohinder Pal, advocate-general H.S. Mattewal, High Court Bar Association chief Anmol Rattan Sidhu and Jagjit Puri, secretary, information and public relations, were present at the meeting.

The meeting approved the statements of accounts of the State Legal Aid Fund and the state budget of the authority. Also, Jagjit Puri agreed to the proposal for getting printed any kind of publicity material of the authority for spreading their message of legal aid.


Cong may tie up with Left
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The Congress is likely to revive its tie-up with Left parties for the coming municipal elections in the state. Leaders participating in a coordination meeting of the Congress today gave indications that the party had decided “in-principle” to have an alliance with the CPI and the CPM.

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh did not attend the meeting. During the Assembly elections the Congress had parted way with the Left parties and Amarinder played a major role in stone-walling attempts to have an alliance the Left.

The Congress and the Left had an alliance in the 2002 Assembly elections when the latter won two seats. Its MLAs later joined the Congress.


Bitta dares Amarinder on dera chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 26
Anti-Terrorist Front chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta here today expressed surprise at the studied silence of Capt Amarinder Singh over the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy.

He said Amarinder was very close to dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and it was strange that even after months of controversy, Capt had not come out with any statement. Interacting with mediapersons, Bitta said, “I challenge Capt to have a debate with me on his connections with the dera chief.”


SGPC chief meets Jathedars
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 26
Chief of the SGPC Avtar Singh held a closed-door meeting with two jathedars at Mata Gujri College here today.

The SGPC chief had come here to preside over a meeting of SGPC’s education committee where Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh and Jathedar of Keshgarh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh were also present. Sources in the SGPC said a meeting among them was held to discuss the future course of action to resolve the dera row.

However, without divulging the agenda of the meeting, the SGPC chief said it was “just a routine meeting”.

Later, speaking to mediapersons, he played down the statement issued by the Khalsa Action Committee that the SGPC and Akal Takht were morally bound to help it in its struggle against Dera Sacha Sauda. He said the SGPC and the Takht represented the Sikh community and both organisations did not need to take lessons from the members of the committee. 


Drive against drugs gets VIP status
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
A drive against drugs will be formally launched by First Lady of Punjab Jean Rodrigues and Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, tomorrow at a special function to be held at Behman Diwana village of this district tomorrow.

Under the drive a signature campaign will be launched in which school and college students will be asked to sign a pledge form for not taking drugs. Students, panchayats, volunteers of non-government organisations and other social and youth clubs would be shown movies. They would also been supplied literature for motivation.


Freedom a great feeling: Monica
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chabbewal, July 26
Waking up to freedom is a great feeling, said Monica Bedi at the start of her new life outside jail today. It was exactly after 626 days of incarceration at the Chanchalguda prison in Hyderabad that the one-time actor was waking up to the warmth of her home.

For once, there was no wake-up call, no queuing up for the morning tea or other meals of the day and no lock-up. All the way, it was her call and her day, and she seemed to be savouring every bit of it. As her father Prem Bedi put it: “She is back to childhood days, eager to rediscover the world and live life with renewed zeal. I am happy to see her smiling. I always knew she was innocent.”

For Monica, silence was the mantra of the day, as she sat around aunt Kanta Devi’s house, reflecting upon her past and planning for the future. She was home all day attending to a sea of relatives who brought her sweets and love. Only at noon she decided to brave intense glare of television cameras to head for the spot she has loved for years.

And as she moved towards the historic Harian Belan gurdwara, some 4 km from her ancestral house in Chabbewal, she seemed to be soaking in the beauty of green swathes of land and peacocks that roosted along the way. The gurdwara became the first place Monica visited after her return to freedom from the jail, where she was lodged on November 12, 2005. She was released last morning after the apex court granted her relief in a fake passport case.

“In our family it’s a tradition to visit the gurdwara at the start of everything new. And this is a new beginning not only for Monica but all of us,” said Prem Bedi, who has retail garment business in Norway.

Monica, for her part, said little. Clad in a pastel salwar kameez, she prayed in silence at the gurdwara, where Guru Har Rai had spent three days with his army of 2,200 horses in 1681. The guru brought a piece of vine from the jungles and planted it here. The vine, with which he fed the horses, still stands tall. “Faith goes that it can never wither. It will remain evergreen. Hence the name of the gurdwara,” said jathedar Nihal Singh, who conducted the ritual in which Monica and her family participated.

For Monica, the visit was a virtual homecoming, a reliving of an old, pressing memory. “I remember coming here as a child. This place is as serene as ever. My faith in this place stems from that of my family. I wanted to begin my new life by thanking God for being with me through my worst days,” said Monica, who performed ardas, before heading to her house where a huge media contingent ensured she remained confined all day.

“I am very tired from my long stint in the jail. I really need rest,” was all she said, before locking herself up for the rest of the day. 


Kanwaljit meets RBI dy governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
A delegation, led by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, met Usha Thorat, deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India, and Y.S.P. Thorat, chairman, Nabard, yesterday in Mumbai to impress upon them to provide liberal agricultural credit at cheaper rates, both short-term and long-term, to farmers in the state.

The financial commissioner, cooperation, and the managing directors of Punjab State Cooperative Bank and Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank accompanied the minister. The minister apprised officers of the RBI of the economic crisis being faced by farmers.

The deputy governor assured of an early solution relating to recognition of the newly created central cooperative banks in Tarn Taran and SAS Nagar and advised Nabard to proceed in the matter.

The Nabard chairman assured the cooperation minister to provide a refinance of Rs 2,300 crore for short-term agricultural loans compared to Rs 1,494.08 crore released during 2006-07.


Farmers lay siege to DC office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
On a call given by three farmer organisations, a large number of farmers today laid siege to the office of the deputy commissioner in protest against the failure of the state government to fulfil its poll promises.

Earlier, they took out a protest march that passed through bazars of the city.

State president and working general secretary of the Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, respectively, Darshan Nahar and Baldev Singh Noorpuri, while addressing the farmers, said the Akali-BJP government had forget all promises made in the manifesto. It had backtracked from its promise to provide atta and dal at cheaper rates.

The organisations have urged the Chief Minister to immediately implement the atta-dal scheme and provide 75 kg per month of wheat to poor families with an annual income of Rs 60,000 each.


Drive to check practice by quacks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The last year ending March 31, 2007 Punjab registered the lowest growth of tax revenue among all states in the country.

Evasion is such that fast food giant McDonalds pays Rs 1.50 crore tax while several dhabas having a turnover up to Rs 5 crore were paying nothing as tax. Rather all other restaurants across the state collectively paid Rs 9.50 crore tax, which is nothing compared to tax paid by McDonalds. These figures were revealed in a review of the Excise and Taxation Department, here today.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asked officials to achieve the target of 30 per cent growth in revenue collection in the year 2007-08. Last year revenue collection grew at just 4 per cent. The state was facing financial squeeze.

Badal pointed out states like Gujarat, Himachal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi were far ahead of Punjab and registered huge increases in the tax collection. For example Gujarat’s collection grew by 31 per cent while Himachal and Haryana grew at 26.9 per cent and 26.6 per cent respectively He said traders not paying enough tax should be identified.

Chief parliamentary secretary of the department Jagdish Raj Sahni alleged a nexus existed between the transporters and dealers resisting organised checking. He said the dhabas doing roaring business were paying no tax and he asked the officials to persuade the dhaba owners to pay tax according to turn over.

The department will soon introduce electronic filing of returns and have modern information collection centres.

The Punjab government has decided on a special drive to check medical practice by quacks especially those with fake degrees in the state.

Tikshan Sood minister for medical education said government could not be a spectator to illegal medical practice by doctors who had obtained degrees from un-recogonised universities and teaching institutions. A special committee has been constituted to raid and take criminal actions against such elements.

The minister said it had been decided all ayurvedic clinics, nursing homes and hospitals would display sign boards of specific size with complete educational qualifications of doctors running the clinics. Similarly letterheads and prescription slips of the doctors would also carry their complete name and education qualifications.

Guru Gobind Singh Marg

The Punjab government has decided upgraded Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Anandpur Sahib to Talwandi Sabo as a state highway. The road touches Chamkaur Sahib, Machhiwara, Alamgir, Dina Sahib, Kotkapura, Jaito, Muktsar and Gidderbaha.

A decision to this effect was taken by Badal at a meeting with PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa held here this morning. The Chief Minister said that the entire route of 577 km would be upgraded by widening the road to at least 5.5 metres to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic. Modern signs and plantation of traditional species of trees such as neem and sheesham would be undertaken along with the entire route.

The Chief Minister asked the SGPC authorities to depute its secretary to coordinate with the PWD) to provide basic inputs and background about the historical sites on the route to enable the department to put up reflective boards depicting brief history along with painted photographs about these sites for the information of general public. 


‘Relief’ for ex-chief of temple panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 26
Former president of the Durgiana Temple Committee Surinder Arjun, who was booked by the police on July 19 on the charge of embezzling more than Rs 6 crore during his stint as president of the committee, today claimed that DGP N.S. Aulakh had given directions for a fresh inquiry into the case.

Claiming that he was still president of the committee, Arjun said he met with the DGP at Chandigarh. After hearing the details of the case, the latter found that prima facie there was no substance in the allegations. Aulakh put a stay on the police proceedings against him at Amritsar, Arjun claimed.

Arjun, who is also district president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, alleged that he had been framed by his political opponents.

He claimed that earlier SP (city) Kaustab Sharma had given him clean chit.


Self-employment campaign attracts women
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 26
The first-of-its-kind self-employment awareness campaign launched by the district administration proved to be a big draw among unemployed people, especially the women who turned up in huge numbers here.

The district administration had launched the campaign earlier this month. It was planned to organise awareness camps at block levels along with the urban and sub-urban areas to inform the masses about the self-employment schemes being offered by various government departments.

Deputy commissioner Alaknanda Dayal told Chandigarh Tribune that five camps were held that received an overwhelming response from the women. She said during interactions it came to light that most women were interested in starting small production houses at their residence to generate income. She said women from the BPL families dominated the proceedings of the camps as they sought information on how to start their own businesses.

The deputy commissioner said even as there were various government schemes to help general public form self-help groups and start new enterprises, lack of communication between the masses and the government departments was preventing them from making the most of these schemes.

Sirhind legislator Didar Singh Bhatti also participated in the camps. He pointed out that since the number of desired jobs was dwindling like never before, self-employment schemes were the best way to generate income. He said efforts were being made to reach out to a larger number of people to bring about prosperity for many.

Over 10,000 persons participated in the awareness camps organised by the district administration and received information about the self-employment schemes.


Langah gets passport

Ropar, July 26
The court of special judge G.S. Saran today gave agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah his passport, allowing him to travel abroad.

While Langah had applied for permission to visit Canada from July 25 to August 27 to attend the fifth annual function of Daily Canadian Punjabi Post, a publication, the court allowed him to stay abroad only from July 26 to August 15.

The minister has been directed to submit his passport to the court as soon as he returned. A surety and bond of Rs 5 lakh, each, have also been submitted in the court.

Mann hearing

The court of senior division judicial magistrate Jatinder Kaur Walia has fixed August 18 as the next date for the hearing of SAD (A) chief Simranjeet Singh Mann in a sedition case.

Mann was booked on June 8, 2005, for delivering a provocative speech at Anandpur Sahib. The other accused - Jathedar Bhag Singh Surtapur, Bachan Singh Bains, Amandeep Singh and Sarabjeet Singh - were also booked on the same charges. — TNS


Monkeys create panic at girls' college
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
The monkey menace has again come to the fore in the city with the animals virtually terrorising students of Government Girls College, here.

For the past few days, monkeys had been creating quite a ruckus in the area, which is near the dear park. It has been reported that while one of the girls was bitten by a monkey, another fainted on seeing one and a third fell down the staircase in panic.

The GCG staff has asked the wildlife authorities to provide protection to the staff and students.


71 villages to get deep tubewells
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 26
All 71 villages falling in the constituency of SAD MLA Sant Ajit Singh will soon get deep tube-well connections. Ajit Singh claimed this while addressing media persons at Press Club, here today.

He added that complete care would be taken to give irrigation facilities to the farming community. Regarding setting up a Punjab Institute of Sports at Anandpur Sahib he said, "The centre government has already granted permission for the institute and the work on the project would start soon."

He said besides the master plan for city, work on Rupnagar bypass and four laning of Kurali-Kiratpur Sahib road will start by October this year. Ajit Singh also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the Press Club and promised that state government would help in setting up Press Bhawan at Ropar. 


NGOs gear up against social evils
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
In yet another endeavour to fight social evils, Usha Dhingra, civil surgeon, Patiala, sought the cooperation of NGOs during a seminar organised by the Guru Arjan Sewa Mission at Tikana Bhai Ram Kishan, Sheranwala Gate, here today.

Prominent local NGOs, including the Guru Arjan Sewa Mission, the Bharoon Sambhal Ate Shishu Palan Kender and the National Theatre Arts Society have offered their services for an ongoing campaign against foeticide, drug addiction and sale of banned drugs.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Dhingra disclosed that the civil surgeon’s office had been congratulated by the Punjab government for destroying banned drugs and spurious medicines in drives conducted during the past three months.



Beant Singh Assassination
Finally, the judgment day
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The court of additional sessions judge Ravi Kumar will deliver verdict in the Beant Singh assassination case at Burail Jail here tomorrow.

The over one-decade-old case has seen many ups and downs. More than 200 witnesses had been examined and cross-examined during the course of the trial.

It has taken twelve years for the legal system to finally deliver. According to records, the judgment in the case is to be given within four weeks of final argument. The final argument wrapped up on July 
4, 2007.

On August 31, 1995, at around 5:10 pm there was a bomb blast near the porch of Punjab Secretariat, Chandigarh, killing then Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh along with 16 others.

Investigations into the case revealed that the blast was carried out by human bomb Dilawar Singh. The fact that Dilawar was the human bomb has been established by his brother and father.

A challan was filed in the court in May, 1996. Hearing for the case was initially held seven days in a month. But, for the past couple of years, the hearing had been held daily in the jail.

The alleged mastermind behind the blast is Jagtar Singh Hawara and the other key accused were, Jagtar Singh Tara, Balwant Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Shamsher Singh, Nasib Singh, Navjot Singh and Dilawar Singh. Accused Paramjit Singh Bheora was arrested later. Two proclaimed offenders in the case, Wadhwa Singh and Mahal Singh are reportedly based in Pakistan.

Investigations into the case were carried out by the Chandigarh police while the CBI procured the data. Accused Lakhwinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh were arrested in September, 1995, followed by the arrest of Jagtar Singh Tara and Balwant Singh.

During trial, accused Balwant Singh and Jagtar Singh Tara withdrew the power of attorney and accepted that they were guilty.


High alert sounded

Chandigarh, July 26
In a late night development, the Chandigarh Police sounded a high alert in the wake of tomorrow’s pronouncement of verdict in the Beant Singh assassination case at Burail Jail here. 

Acting on intelligence reports from central intelligence agencies and neighbouring states, the entire force has been asked to be on high alert and keep a strict vigil on vital installations and public places. The security around the jail complex has been beefed up keeping in mind the episode when Jagtar Singh Hawara and his associates had tunnelled their way out of the jail.

The officiating Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dinesh Bhatt, in a late night briefing, asked cops to be extra vigilant and ensure security of the judicial officers connected with the trial.— TNS



High Court
Notice to Punjab on Chahal’s plea 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to Punjab for August 6 on an application filed by B.I.S. Chahal from Patiala jail.

Though the exact contents of the letter are not known, sources said Chahal has sought his transfer from Patiala jail to some other jail outside Punjab. Incidentally, during the previous hearing, when a sobbing Chahal had pleaded for a CBI probe into cases against him, Justice Uma Nath Singh had asked him if he was not happy with the conditions in Patiala jail and would like to be tranferred to Ambala jail.

The judge had also directed that Chahal was at liberty to file an application with the court seeking his transfer to some jail outside Punjab.

Plea on MC wards dismissed

A Division Bench comprising Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice S.N. Aggarwal, today dismissed a petition by Gurdev Singh Punnia wherein he had challenged the delimitation of municipal corporation wards in Patiala.

The state counsel averred that the delimitation was in accordance with the MC order and there was no illegality whatsoever.

With this decision, the way is clear for holding MC ward elections in Patiala as notified by the Punjab government.


HC notice to MC executive officer
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 26
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, acting on five contempt petitions filed by the Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital under sections 11 and 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, has issued a notice to Diwan Chand Verma, executive officer of the municipal council. The petition will come up for hearing on October 11, according to information received here today.

The college said the municipal council had leased out a plot measuring 220x80 ft on July 11, 1979, for 99 years for the construction of the hospital. However, in 1984-85, an area measuring 180x15 ft was taken by the council for construction of a rest house and in lieu of this an equivalent area was given to the college (on the main road).

The college constructed 18 shops in 1986 on the area measuring 102x21 ft and allowed tenants.

The college, however, moved eviction petitions against the tenants on which the rent controller put eviction orders on record.

Appeals filed by some tenants were dismissed on July 30, 2002.

Interestingly, the council filed an application against the tenants of the college under the Punjab Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act, 1973, before the deputy director, local government, Ferozepur, for eviction. The deputy director decided the application in favour of the council on November 30, 1995.

The commissioner, Ferozepur division, on December 17, 1996, ordered the demarcation of land, adding that if the land belonged to the college, then the council would have no right over it.

The demarcation justified the claim of the council. However, the dispute was taken to the high court. A division bench on December 12, 2002, while disposing of the petitions by a consented order directed that a committee of the deputy commissioner and the executive officer of the council be constituted to re-examine all controversies raised in the petition.

The report of the committee will be placed before the additional civil judge, Abohar, where the suit is pending. Till then, the parties shall maintain the status quo.

The college management has now brought it to the notice of the HC that Diwan Chand Verma, executive officer of the council, on May 18, 2007, executed a sale deed of two shops against receipt of Rs 90,000 each. The council, it claimed, had no authority to execute the sale deed.

The woman who purchased the shops sold these to another woman on the same day. The ownership rights along with possession were also transferred. 


Bittu’s remand extended till July 28
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 26
Chief judicial magistrate Sanjay Kumar today extended police remand of senior vice- president of SAD (A) Daljit Singh Bittu till July 28.

Bittu was remanded in police custody on July 23 .Seeking an extension of Bittu's remand today, the police stated it had not been able to extract any information from Bittu on which organisation was funding his activities and from where he had got pro-Khalistan posters printed that were distributed during an anti-Dera protest in the district on May 31.


2 women held for sexual exploitation of girl
Tribune News Service

Kot Kapura, July 26
Two women were held for exploiting sexually a teenaged girl after giving her sedation. SSP, L.K. Yadav has set up a team to probe the matter and to bring to book the persons involved in the crime. The SSP said investigation was on and the matter things would be clear once the report of inquiry was complete.

Police sources said names of several landlords,politicians and even policemen would figure in the case.

Nearly 12 km away from district headquarter ,Faridkot normally peaceful and calm town went into a tizzy when an 18- year- old girl disclosed to the police she had been sexually exploited by her two women neighbours. The police apprehended the two accused identified as Bimla and Saroj.

The victim alleged she used to be given some medicines before sexual exploitation. She said it had been going on for the past two years. However, owing to fear of disgrace to the family she did not tell the fact to anybody. She stated that the two accused exploited her ignorance and she became seven- month pregnant.


MES employee among 2 held with heroin
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
The special narcotics cell arrested two smugglers, including an MES employee, while carrying 3 kg of heroin near the Model Town area here.

Those arrested are Harchand Singh Narli, an accomplice of Paramjit Singh Panjwar of the Khalistan Commondo Force, and Santokh Singh, an MES employee and resident of the New Cantonment area, Khasa Road, here.

The police arrested them following intelligence inputs.

Harchand Singh Narli, a resident of Narli village near the Indo-Pak border in Tarn Taran district, is a notorious smuggler whose brothers, including Davinder Narli and Sukhdev Singh Narli (currently in jail) and Bakhshish Singh Narli (out on bail), are involved in smuggling of heroin and fake Indian currency from across the border.

Sources said the consignment was delivered to them from Khemkaran sector after fixing up with their counterparts across the border.

He said they were nabbed while waiting for their contact man near the railway shed on a motorcycle. A case has been registered.

Jagdish Mittal, DIG (counter-intelligence), referring to the arrest of the MES employee, said the military establishment would be informed about it.


82 caught without ticket
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Officials of the Ambala division, northern railway, today caught 82 persons travelling without ticket in various trains on the Ludhiana-Hisar section.

Twentysix defaulters were sent to jail after they failed to pay the fine. The checking was conducted by railway magistrate Phalit Sharma and railway officials.


Man arrested for murder
Tribune News Service

Jaswant Singh (standing), who has been arrested for murder at a Ropar police station on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph
Jaswant Singh (standing), who has been arrested for murder at a Ropar police station on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph

Ropar, July 26
The Ropar police today arrested Jaswant Singh, a resident of Maangarh Rukali village, on charges of murdering 20-year-old Makhan Singh, also of the same village.

Makhan was found dead on July 22 with his body buried upside down in fields near the village.

A police team under SP Ashish Chaudhary investigated the case. During interrogations, Jaswant confessed to have committed the crime. He said he had killed Makhan as the latter used to tease his sister.

Jaswant said they had a scuffle on July 21, following which Makhan fell unconscious. Jaswant then removed his t-shirt and strangled him, after which he buried him upside down.



3 shops under PDS sealed
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 26
The food and civil supplies department, with the support of the district administration, conducted raids on three shops under the public distribution system and sealed them for selling products on the black market here today.

V.K. Meena, deputy commissioner, who accompanied the raiding team, said the step was taken following large-scale complaints against the accused.

The accused were identified as Harjit Singh of the Mai Godadi locality and Jaswant Singh and Vikram Singh, both from the Govind Nagri area.

He said they were not supplying material on controlled rates to beneficiaries and instead used to sell the same products on higher prices to others.

Brij Mohan Chadda, district food and civil supplies controller, also accompanied the raiding party.


15-yr-old girl goes missing 
Tribune Reporters

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 26
Mamta Rani (15), a resident of Ward No. 11, Amloh, has reportedly been missing since May 19.

Kewal Krishen, the girl's father, said it later came to light that an unidentified person had clicked objectionable photographs of Mamta. “He had also been blackmailing her and could have abducted her,” Krishen said.

The police is investigating the case.


KILLED: Manjeet Singh (47) a resident of Dharamgarh village in Banur was killed this morning when his bicycle was hit by a speeding mini truck on the Banur-Lalru road here.

According to the police, Manjit, a farmer, was going to his field when the accident took place. Manjit reportedly died on the spot and the driver of the mini truck sped away. The police has registered a case against the unidentified driver.

BODY FOUND: The decomposed body of an unidentified person was found in a jungle near the railway lines at Dera Bassi, here this morning.

According to the police, the man died some days ago. There were no marks of injuries on the body. The body has been kept at the Dera Bassi Civil Hospital for identification.


ACCIDENT: Amarnath, a resident of Nagghar Faizgarh village died at the Civil Hospital here today after having suffered serious injuries in a road accident.

Amarnath met with an accident on July 2. He fell out of the bus while boarding it and his legs were thereby crushed.

Manjit Singh, the driver, has been booked for murder due to negligence



Dalit students want removal of VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
The Punjab Scheduled Castes Welfare Association (PSCWA), held an emergency meeting in Gurbax Colony, here today.

In the meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Paramjit Singh Sodh, the association members unanimously demanded the ouster of the Punjabi University, vice-chancellor, Swarn Singh Boparai.

The Punjab Scheduled Castes Welfare Association took serious notice of anti-Dalit policies of Swarn Singh Boparai. The president of the association, Paramjit Singh Sodh, said if Boparai would not be removed, the scheduled castes of Punjab will vote against the SAD-BJP in the coming municipal corporation elections in the month of August.

He further said around 38 per cent Dalit voters were in the state, who will play an important role in the formation of next municipal corporation. He claimed that dalits would vote against SAD-BJP in Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana.

Paramjit Singh Sodh alleged that the anti-dalit stance of the Boparai was evident when he took over as vice-chancellor and reverted to seven senior assistants belonging to the community by abolishing the long existing reservation policy.

He said abolishing the reserve post of H.S. Khokar, an assistant public relations officer, substantiated the vice-chancellor’s anti-dalit stance. H.S. Khokar was compelled to file a written petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court against the VC’s decision.

Later, the president of the association, Paramjit Singh Sodh and all other members unanimously decided to call upon the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal to look into the matter. 


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