P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


eleven years on, emotions run high
Relatives not allowed to meet convicts
Swati Sharma & Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Children of Shamsher Singh, one of the convicts, standing outside Burail jail waiting to meet their father.
Children of Shamsher Singh, one of the convicts, standing outside Burail jail waiting to meet their father. — Tribune photograph by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, July 27
The relatives of those involved in the Beant Singh assassination were not permitted to meet those convicted at Burail Jail, today. Emotions ran high as they struggled to see the face of their dear ones whose fate was decided more than a decade after the trial began.

However, it has always been problematic for the relatives to meet those in custody. The mother of Lakhwinder Singh, one of the convicts, passed away on May 3, 2004. However, he was not allowed to attend the funeral.

“Initially, the authorities gave their go ahead for the same, but they backtracked at the last moment,” lamented Hardev Singh, Lakhwinder’s brother.

An aunt of Lakhwinder, one of the convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case, at Burail Jail.
An aunt of Lakhwinder, one of the convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case, at Burail Jail.

Jan Singh, the brother-in-law of accused Lakwinder Singh, said, “Though we were allowed to enter the jail, the police didn’t let us enter the courtroom.” Jan Singh has come all the way from Ludhiana to meet his relative.

The situation was worse for the sister of Jagtar Singh Hawara - the mastermind in the case. She was denied entry on the jail premises while the others were let in. Baljit is also suspected of helping Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Shamsher Singh dig the tunnel at Burail jail. It was alleged that she had arranged the car for the three to flee.

When questioned about this, she said, “They are mere allegations and nothing has been established as yet. During police custody, I was tortured both mentally and physically and I have come here only for my brother.”
Dev Singh, uncle of Jagtar Singh Hawara.
Dev Singh, uncle of Jagtar Singh Hawara

For the children of Shamsher Singh, who was also convicted, the journey back home to Palsora was sadder as they could not meet their father.

The wife of another convict, Naseeb Singh, Avtar Kaur said: “I don’t know why we could not meet him despite making it in time.”

A radical group, Khalsa Action Committee, turned up at the jail premises but was disappointed after the pronouncement of the order.

They claimed that they had come to show solidarity with the convicts and later dispersed peacefully. The members of the group said: “We hope that the higher court will eventually take all aspects of the case into consideration and resolve the matter in a truly humane manner.”

A brief altercation

A delegation of radical Sikhs, led by former bureaucrat Gurtej Singh, had a brief altercation with jail authorities as they wanted to enter the jail premises. However, the jail authorities did not allow them to proceed. “We are here to express solidarity with the accused,” Singh, who was accompanied by some members of Khalsa Action Committee (KAC).


Total Recall

This was the car which blew up, killing Beant SinghAugust 31, 1995: This was the car which blew up, killing Beant Singh

Beant SinghA powerful car bomb killed 11 people in Chandigarh, including Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, outside the government headquarters. The blast destroyed three vehicles, broke windows in nearby buildings, and ripped Singh and his guards’ bodies. The murders are ironic: Singh and his police chief were widely credited with ending years of violence in the state.


For police, the nightmare is over
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh yards away from his seat of administration and outside the fortified Civil Secretariat building was a case that the Punjab police may not want to remember for too long.

More than a decade after the worst-ever militant strike in the high security zone, Punjab Police have had many embarrassing moments in the case investigations, which were handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) despite the fact that the Punjab Police, then headed by super cop KPS Gill, wanted to handle the case.

Incidentally, Gill, credited with wiping out militancy from Punjab, was not somebody who would have allowed a central agency to take over the investigations, but for the pressure from the Centre.

No entry

Gurkanwal Kaur, daughter of late Chief Minister Beant Singh, was denied entry to the high-security courtroom in Burail jail where the final order was pronounced today. Kaur, who was Social Welfare Minister in the previous Amarinder Singh Congress government, assailed the action of the Chandigarh security agencies, questioning their order of denying her the right to be present in the court when the order in her father’s assassination case was being pronounced.

Interestingly, Chandigarh police had first handled the case of militant strike at the Civil Secretariat, which left a younger brother of the then Punjab IAS officer Niranjan Singh dead. However, no breakthrough was made in the case.

The gruesome incident occurred minutes before Gill or any officer, especially those in the CM’s Secretariat, could come down at the end of the day. Though initial investigations had all the three agencies - Punjab Police, Chandigarh police and the Central Bureau of Investigation - in a contradictory mode, each zeroed on the ‘human bomb theory’ after the identity of the main suspect, Dilawar Singh, who was also killed along with Beant Singh, established.

Doubts were raised about the efficiency of both intelligence and security agencies as the militants, not only held a reconnaissance of the area, but also a pre-operation drill and executed their plan professionally, leaving everyone stunned.

This was one case in which almost all advanced techniques of crime detection, including DNA test, were used for corroboration.

However, there were more embarrassing times ahead for the Punjab Police. Two of the main suspects in the case, Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, virtually played hide-and-seek with the investigators; not to forget the sensational Burail jailbreak case in which the main suspects, including Jagtar Singh Hawara, escaped for the prison after tunneling their way out.

Subsequently, it was Delhi Police, and not Punjab Police, which was successful in capturing Hawara.


Whistleblower Balwinder fears for life
Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Balwinder Singh, the whistleblower and a prime witness in the Beant Singh Assassination case, faces threat to life. Even as the Chandigarh Police claimed tight security in the city on the judgement day, security personnel attached to Balwinder and his family were reportedly found in an inebriated condition.

Balwinder petitioned the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana today, demanding appropriate security for him and his three children.

Balwinder, who painted the car allegedly used by militants to trigger the bomb at the secretariat on August 31,1995, had helped the security agencies arrest Lakhwinder Singh. Through Lakhwinder, the security agencies had zeroed in on the main accused-Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora.

Talking to Tribune here tonight, Balwinder said he was concerned about earlier this year. His demand for a security vehicle was pending with the authorities.

Commenting to the judgement, he said strict punishment should be awarded to the guilty in the “national interest.”

In 2005, he was issued a “defective” revolver. For the new weapon, which has reportedly been issued to him, he has been asked to pay Rs 25,000, which is beyond him.

Rajesh Sharma, president of the local unit of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front has condemned the authorities for the shabby treatment to the whistleblowers in important cases.

He brought the matter to the notice of high-ranked police official today.


For Navjot, innocence came at a heavy price
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Special CBI Court today acquitted Navjot Singh in the high-profile Beant Singh assassination case today as the prosecution during the trial failed to produce sufficient evidence of his involvement in the crime.

Navjot was charged by the CBI of providing shelter to the accused and assisting in assembling explosives, which killed former Chief Minister Beant Singh and others outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat on August 31, 1995.

A post-graduate in English from Panjab University and a former employee of Ranbaxy Laboratories, Navjot, who was one of the seven accused, was only 25 years old when he was arrested.

He was arrested under the charges of conspiracy to kill the then Chief Minister Beant Singh and was booked under Sections 302, 306, 307, 109 and 120-B of the IPC. He was also booked under Section 5 & 6 of the Explosive Substance Act.

For 11 years, Tarlok Singh and Santosh Kaur prayed for the day when their son Navjot would walk a free man again. Today, when the day is here, admittedly, they are happy. But that cannot take away the bitterness for the fact that their son and they had to face humiliation and disgrace for more than a decade.

With tears in his eyes, Navjot’s father Tarlok Singh, a retired bank employee, rues that it took so long to prove his son’s innocence.

For 11 years, when Navjot’s sister Anita used to send the rakhi from Germany, a heavyhearted Santosh Kaur used to take it to the jail so that his son could tie the scared thread on his wrist.

Venting his anger against the justice system, Navjot’s father says, “I am happy that my son has been declared innocent but I fail to understand how they can label anybody as a terrorist without any proof. All the eight witnesses turned hostile in my son’s case.

Meanwhile, Navjot’s house in Phase VII, Mohali, is all ready to welcome its son. Santosh Kaur has already started thinking about his son’s marriage. “My son is God fearing and I was sure that he can never commit such a crime,” she says.

Meanwhile, Navjot’s father is thinking of filing a defamation suit against the Punjab government.


Beant Case Verdict
Security, did you say?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Though the cops had sounded high alert in the wake of the pronouncement of the verdict in the Beant Singh assassination case at Burail Jail today, the Chandigarh Police appeared rather lax about it.

There were only two constables on a motorcycle at the southern end of the prison, where the court proceedings were on. No security was seen anywhere else.

The Chandigarh Police had last night sounded an alert following intelligence reports. SSP Dinesh Bhatt had said that the security around the jail would be beefed up and a 24-hour patrol of the jail area ensured.

At the only checkpoint, a few metres from the entrance on the road from Colony No. 5, eight CRPF personnel were seen stopping relatives of prisoners.

A sniffer dog, supposedly brought to check visitors’ vehicles, was tied to a tree.

“There is special security at all seven vigil towers inside the jail. From this gate, only relatives of the accused and mediapersons are being allowed in. All other routes leading to the jail have been blocked,” said a police official at the checkpoint.

On receiving information that supporters of the accused had started from Gurdwara Amb Sahib, Mohali, towards the jail, more force was requisitioned.

“We have deputed 100 personnel around sensitive points here,” said DSP K.I.P. Singh (South). Asked where these personnel were, he said: “You can’t find them as they are under cover.”


Reasons for delay

  • Two simultaneous trials took place. One was the main assassination trial, the other in which Paramjeet Singh Bheora is being tried as he was arrested four months after filing of the charge sheet. The prosecution insisted that the trial should be held separately.
  • Due to a special provision under Section 268 of the CrPC, the trial had to be conducted on the jail premises itself due to the high security risk. Led to wastage of time of the court staff as the counsels had to commute every day to the jail.
  • There were too may witnesses.
  • Burail jailbreak in January 2004 stalled the trial for seven months.
  • Constant dharnas by the accused.
  • The special judges hearing the trial kept on changing.


FIR against defence lawyer?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Arvind Thakur, one of the defence lawyers in the Beant Singh assassination case, today alleged that the jail administration was proposing to take action against him and another lawyer, A.S. Chahal, for bringing an unauthorised person inside Burail Jail premises.

Thakur told The Tribune that he had received a call from UT DSP (South) informing him about the jail administration’s accusations against him and Chahal and that probably an FIR would be registered against them.

He denied the allegations and said that the jail administration had earlier also filed five complaints against him with the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana.


Timeline: August 31, 1995-July 27, 2007

Aug 31, 2005: Beant Singh assassinated

Sept 1995: Main suspects arrested

May 1996: Trial begins, witness examined: 236; total witnesses 516

Nov 95-Nov 97: Four charge sheets filed

Jan 1998: Balwant Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara confess

Jan 2004: Jailbreak in Burail

Feb 2004: Trial resumes, media entry banned

June 2005: Delhi Police arrests Jagtar Singh Hawara; Bheora

March 2006: Bheora


Oct 31, 2005: Trial court told to wind up the case with day-to-day hearing


State to give 44 acres more to Rajasansi
Airport upgradation to be completed by March
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 27
The upgradation of the Rajasansi Airport, aimed at making it truly “international” would be completed by March 31, 2008, with the Punjab government willing to give 44 acres of additional land, required for immediate expansion work, to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

This was stated here today by Ashok Chawla, secretary, Department of Civil Aviation, Government of India. Chawla was in the city today to take a round of the Rajasansi International Airport. Work on phase two of the airport has already begun and it would be carried out at a cost of Rs 225 crore.

Talking to mediapersons, Chawla said he had held a meeting at Chandigarh last night with officials of the AAI and the Punjab government had agreed to give additional land for expansion work.

Besides this, he added, the flying club at the airport would be re-opened, the area of the terminal building would be increased by more than double of the existing 41,000 sq m, four aerobridges and parking area for planes would be added.

“The air traffic at Amritsar has increased manifold, something we had not anticipated during the first phase of its construction. As of now, the airport is catering to 62 flights per week and the number would only increase with time. There has been an increase of about 25 per cent in international and domestic flights this year,” he said.

Replying to a question about the lack of proper infrastructure at the airport, Chawla said problems like waterlogging outside the terminal building would be taken care of once the expansion work is completed next year.

He added that it had been decided in principle to set up an international airport in Mohali and for this about 300 acres of land would be made available by the Punjab government. The project would be taken up as a joint venture of the state government and the AAI.

“However, if the land transfer does not materialise then the existing airport at Chandigarh will be expanded at a cost of Rs 500 crore, but that will only serve domestic flights. The Chandigarh airport is a defence airport, under the Indian Air Force and the Chandigarh Administration has offered to give nine acres of land for its expansion,” he said.

He further informed that it had also been decided to re-open the airport at Sahnewal so that it serves as a domestic airport.

The Sahnewal airport has 128 acres of land at present but for the re-activation of the airport, the Punjab government would have to provide more land as a minimum of 400 acres is required, he said.


16,670 school teachers to be appointed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Badal government today gave the green light to the education department to recruit 16,670 teachers in government schools. The teachers will be recruited through department committees.

A decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Sources said a decision was also taken for the special development of three schools in each vidhan sabha segment by spending Rs 1.5 crore. Such schools would be provided with all infrastructure and other facilities such as laboratories, library and teachers for commerce and science subjects.

Thousands of posts of teacher have been lying vacant in government schools for the past five years. The previous Amarinder Singh government had dithered on filling the vacant posts for four years. Now the Badal government has taken five months to decide the number of teachers to be recruited.

It will take at least two months more for the department to complete the recruitment process. And by that time half of the current academic session will be through.

The teachers will be recruited on the basis of academic merit. Weightage will be given for teaching experience. However, there will be no points for the interview. The teachers recruited through the department committees will be paid salary on a lumpsum basis.

As about 80 per cent of the schools are without regular headmasters and principals, a decision was also taken to expedite the process of promotions to fill the vacant posts of school head.

Meanwhile, the state government has issued appointment letters to 430 art and craft teachers. The cases of 119 such teachers have been rejected for appointment following the detection of several irregularities in their selection.


SAD announces names of Patiala MC candidates
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
After days of hectic discussions, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) high command finally announced a list of 24 candidates for the Patiala Municipal Corporation elections, at Chandigarh. The meeting to announce the list was chaired by SAD acting president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Also present at the meeting were SAD district president Indermohan Singh Bajaj, former MLA's Surjit Singh Kohli, S.S Rakhra and a host of prospective candidates.

SAD candidates will be contesting for 35 of the 50 seats of the Patiala MC. The remaining 15 seats will be contested by candidates fielded by SAD’s ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The SAD high command has put on hold names of candidates for 11 wards.

Today's list contains the name of Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, the son of Surjit Singh Kohli, who was the SAD candidate trounced by Capt Amarinder Singh in the last Assembly polls. The party has withheld the name of its candidate from Ward No. 45 from where Amarinder Singh, who is son of SAD district president Indermohan Singh Bajaj, is seeking a ticket.

The following is the list of candidates: Ward No.1: Surjit Kaur Ablowal, Ward No. 2: Gurcharan Singh, Ward No. 3: Jaswant Singh, Ward No. 5: not announced, Ward No.6: Prabhdeep Singh, Ward No. 8: not announced, Ward No. 9: not announced, Ward No. 10: Charanjit Kaur, Ward No.11: not announced, Ward No.12: not announced. Ward No. 13: Balwinder Kaur, Ward No. 14: Sukhminder Pal Singh Minta, Ward No.17: not announced, Ward No.18: Rachpal Singh, Ward No. 20: Amarjit Singh Bathla, Ward No. 26: Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, Ward No. 27: not announced, Ward No. 29: Inderjit Singh Mann, Ward No. 31: Ramanjit Kaur, Ward No. 32: Narinder Singh Chandhok, Ward No. 33: Hardeep Singh Deepa, Ward No. 35: Kamaljit Singh Gona, Ward No. 39: not announced, Ward No. 40: Lovleen Kaur, Ward No. 41: Sohan Lal Jalota, Ward No. 42: Gurcharan Singh Khalsa, Ward No. 43: Amarbir Kaur Bedi, Ward No. 45: not announced, Ward No. 46: not announced, Ward No. 47: Parminder Souri , Ward No. 48: Inderjit Singh Kharoud, Ward No. 49: not announced, Ward No 50: Balbir Singh Kharoud.


Ludhiana MC poll: SAD announces candidates
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
Ending days of suspense, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announced the tickets for the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana elections late last night at Chandigarh.

The party candidates for the civic bodies of Amritsar and Jalandhar were declared by SAD acting president Sukhbir Singh Badal. The candidates were chosen after many days of hectic parleys.

A perusal of the list shows of the 38 seats to be contested by the Akalis out of a total of 75, candidates have not been announced for three Wards - 39, 45 and 60.

Of the heavyweight and probable candidate for the post of mayor, Hakam Singh Giaspura has been given the ticket from Ward number 72 while his son too has been cleared from ward no 74. Another former mayor and winning candidate Upinderjit Singh Grewal has been fielded from Ward no. 56.

Minister for jails and tourism Hira Singh Gabria has managed to secure tickets for 15 of his supporters.

The wards from where the announcement has been delayed include Ward no. 39 which was represented in the previous house by veteran leader Kulwant Singh Dukhiya. Since his son is in the fray along with other strong contenders, the party will ponder over their strengths and weaknesses.

An pointer of the state of affairs was that the candidature of Pushwant Kaur Gohalwaria (Ward 70) and Surinder Kaur Sheera (Ward 67) had been changed in favour of Kulwinder Kaur Gohalwaria and Varinder Kaur Ubhi, respectively.

The ward wise list of the candidate is as follows: (2) General- Ranjit Singh Dhillon, (3) General - Surinder Singh Bajwa, (4) Women -Joginder Kaur, (5) General - Tarsem Singh Bhinder, (7) SC Women- Mandeep Kaur Sandhu, (8) General - Rachhpal Singh Fauji, (9) SC - Randhir Singh Ladi, (11) General - Pal Singh Grewal, (12)General- Sukhwinder Singh Mundian, (15) General- Sukhdev Singh Gill, (23) General -Ajit Singh Dhillon, (26) SC - Yashpal, (28) Women -Gurjit Kaur Kang, (39) to be announced, (45) General - Inderjit Singh Gill, (46)Women -Surjit Kaur Bhatia, (47) General - Harbhajan Singh Dang, (48) General- Manvinderpal Singh Makkar, (53)General- Parminderpal Singh, (56) General - Upinder Singh Grewal, (57) General - K.L. Chhabra, (58)SC Women - Paramjit Kaur Shivalik, (59) General -Tanvir Singh Dhaliwal, (60) SC - to be announced, (61)Women - Gurdeep Kaur, (62) General- Jaspal Singh Sandhu, (63) General- Jagbir Singh Sokhi, (64)Women - Sunita Rani, (65)BC - Swaran Singh Maholi, (66) General- Balbir Singh Manku, (67) Women- Varinder Kaur Ubhi, (68) BC - Sohan Singh Goga, (69)General- Arjan Singh Cheema, (70) Women - Kulvinder Kaur Gohalwaria, (71) General- Simrajit Singh Bains, (72) General- Hakam Singh Giaspura, (74) General -Jaspal Singh Giaspura, (75) General- Sher Singh Garcha.


Cong councillors being denied NOCs
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
With the municipal corporation elections at hand, several Congress municipal councillors are alleging that the Patiala administration has been denying them no objection certificates (NOC).

Congress councillor Gurdev Singh Punia alleged that although he visited the Patiala corporation office several times, the officers there are refusing to give him the NOC.

He said the corporation authorities had been asking him information regarding 20 streetlight points installed in their wards as if he was the person concerned.

Punia further added that the corporation authorities are asking for a map of his house even though he had constructed his house in an area that was not under the Patiala municipal corporation. It did come under the jurisdiction of the corporation later. “These are just ways to deny me the NOC so that I can’t contest the elections,” he Punia said.

Another Congress municipal councillor also said the corporation has been asking him for the map of a house that he inherited from his father in 1973.

The councillor also alleged that local administration officials have been are threatening him with dire consequences if he contested on a Congress ticket.

“We have been receiving phone calls from officials threatening that corruption cases would be registered against us if we contested the elections,” they added.

Despite repeated attempts to contact the Patiala municipal corporation authorities, they were not available for comments.


Bitumen Scam
Minister hints at loopholes in probe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The Vigilance Bureau has left loopholes in the bitumen scam inquiry. This let officials and other influential persons involved in the scam go scot-free. Parminder Singh Dhindsa, PWD and B&R minister, gave this information while taking to The Tribune here today.

He said the scam involved illegal sale of government bitumen on the black market during the stint of the previous government. A case was registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at that time. However, vigilance officials who investigated the case deliberately delayed the proceedings that helped the guilty officials.

Dhindsa was here on a visit to Punjabi University today. He visited the Business Administration Department from where he had completed his MBA in 1997. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the department.

Responding to queries, the minister admitted that the policy on road toll adopted by the previous government had put additional burden on local residents. The present government, however, could not review the agreements made by the Congress government as it would put huge financial burden on the state exchequer.

However, the new built, operate and transfer (BOT) roads proposed by the previous government had been put on hold. The present government had decided that it would first complete those BOT roads work on which was already in progress. The toll policy would be suitably amended, he added.

Dhindsa further said reports had been received regarding diversion of funds by the previous government with regard to Nabard roads. The matter was being inquired into. He also admitted that most of the development works of the PWD had been stopped due to financial crunch.


SOS Village girl to tie knot
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, July 27
In 1996, the Government of Punjab donated 13.6 acres of land for setting up of SOS Children's Village at Rajpura for children who had lost their parents in the decade-long violence in the state. About 11 years later, the village is solemnising the marriage of its eldest girl, Nisha, who had come here soon after its inception.

Having lost her parents at a young age, the world seemed to have come to an end for Nisha. But today she appeared to be on cloud nine.

“If I had not been brought to the village, I don’t know where I would have ended,” said a beaming Nisha. She is the first among the 180 children being brought up at the village, to get married on Sunday.

“The time that I spent here was the best part of my life,” said Nisha, adding, “I will always remain associated with the village and keep coming back to the place which has been nothing less then a home to me.”

The SOS Village is one of the 32 villages set up across the country that provides a family and permanent home to children in need, who have lost their parents. It has 14 houses, each providing shelter to a family of eight to 10 children.

Each family has an 'SOS mother' who takes care of clothing, education and emotional needs of the children. They live together and grow up as brothers and sisters. The objective of the village is to lay a strong foundation for an independent and secure life.

The children are supported by the organisation till they are able to earn their own living or get married.

And Nisha will be the first to leave the village. Many other children in the village are also heading toward a bright future with some already close to getting jobs in reputed companies of the area.

Kuldeep Sharma, village director, said the funds for Nisha's marriage had been raised by the organisation itself with help from local donors.

Having done various courses in embroidery and fine arts, Nisha is marrying a businessman of Chandigarh, whose family had got in touch with the SOS Village, seeking her hand.

Nisha who was quick to reveal her attachment with the village said, “I pray to God that I am able to earn enough money that I can donate for the children of this village.”

Finding it hard to hold back her happiness, Nisha said that she considered herself to be the luckiest person on earth to have got so many brothers and sisters at the village, which was unlikely in a nuclear family.


NIT develops mechanism to prevent bird flu
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 27
Hundreds of labourers engaged in cleaning bird droppings in cages in poultry farms can be saved from the deadly avian or bird flu with the new cleaning apparatus invented at the Dr B.R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology here. The mechanism has been invented by Kuldeep Singh Nagla from the robotics lab of the Deemed University. Controller, Patent Office, New Delhi, has passed the invention and the patent is in order to grant.

Claiming it to be a life-saving device invented at NIT, Nagla says his invention is very simple to construct as compared to the patents obtained so far mostly in the USA. “Low in cost, the mechanism is simple to construct and there is no need to alter the previous design of the cage in the poultry farm,” says Nagla. He describes it as an “electro-mechanical mobile cleaning device fitted with wiping system controlled by micro processors.” “The apparatus can be fitted under the cages which can efficiently clean birds with some robotic mechanism without human intervention. It, thus, cleans debris as well as saves human-beings from coming in contact with the birds and bird waste, which can spread bird flu,” says Nagla. “It can also be pre-programmed at desired intervals and is low in power consumption,” adds Nagla.

Quoting David Rapport, honorary professor of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, Nagla says the environmental stresses increase the risk of avian flu from birds to humans. “Bird waste can spread and breed infection such as avian flu,” says Nagla adding, “While vaccines, livestock culls etc can provide short term relief, long-term benefit can only be achieved if poultry system is re-examined through measures like adopting the new cleaning apparatus”.

NIT applied for the patent for the mechanism invented by Nagla in August, 2003. The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh, forwarded the request to the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessments Council, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi. The technical specifications were submitted to the Patent Office, New Delhi, after which two examinations were conducted to ascertain its novelty. Later, it was cleared for patent which is now in order to grant.


Drug addicts should be given unconditional love: Jean
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
The wife of Governor, Punjab, Jean Rodrigues today said love was the best tool to bring those who are hooked to drugs back into the mainstream of society. After formally inaugurating the Drive Against Drugs launched by the police, by lighting the ceremonial lamp, she said addicts should be given unconditional love. She added that all sections of society, including citizens, non-government organisations and other social organisations, should be involved in the war launched against drugs.

Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while directing the officials concerned that war against drugs must be a continuous process, said all sections of society should be motivated to take a pledge to create a drug-free environment.

She categorically asked the police functionaries not to spare those involved in the sale of drugs.

A massive campaign against the drug abuse was launched here to make the region free from the curse of drug addiction. The main architect of the campaign Jatinder Jain, DIG, Faridkot range, Punjab Police, also got released books and a signature book from the chief guest on the occasion.

The function got massive response as people belonging to all walks of life participated in it. Punjabi singers and comedians also presented items giving a message against drug addiction. The district police chiefs of Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot and deputy commissioner of Bathinda also attended the function.

While Narinder Mittal, president, BJP (Urban), Bathinda, advocated that Punjab should work towards bringing prohibition on the Gujarat pattern and ask the Centre to ban the sale of drugs in other states, Paramjit Kaur, MP, said some chemist shops and drug de-addiction centres had become a major source of addiction and, hence, this problem should be taken care of by all concerned.

DIG Jain said, “We cannot be mute spectators to the events happening in society. Smack has reached professional colleges. The need of hour is to make everyone sensitive to this problem.”

Nau Nihal Singh, SSP, Bathinda, said police authorities would not allow any sort of laxity in the efforts to end the menace of drug addiction in the region.


DDPO case hots up
Tribune Reporters

Gurdaspur, July 27
Various unions of the Revenue Department have given a call to assemble on the premises of the veterinary hospital in Batala tomorrow if the police failed to arrest the remaining assailants of Ranbir Singh Mudhal, DDPO, Gurdaspur, who was thrashed by certain villagers.

After three days of the incident the police had arrested only Sukhwinder Singh of Angwan village and Mohan Singh of Chakkanwali village.

BATALA: A large number of Akali workers assembled in Gandhi Chowk, Batala, on Thursday and blocked the road for about three hours in front of the office of the SSP. They raised slogans against the police for falsely implicating their party workers. A large contingent of police was present there to check the situation from turning bad. Paramjit Singh Teja, SP(HQ), talked to the protesters to calm them down.

NAWANSHAHR: Activists of the District Rural Development Officers Association and allied organisations staged a protest dharna against the dilly-dallying approach of the authorities concerned to take action against the accused in the assault on Randhir Singh DDPO, Gurdaspur, here on Friday.

TARN TARAN: From Class IV officials to the additional deputy commissioner (Development), the whole staff in the district of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department abstained from work and organised protests at the block level against the murderous attack on Ranbir Singh Mudhal, DDPO, Gurdaspur, five days back at Batala.

Parkash Singh, ADC(D), Sarabjit Singh Walia, DDPO, Amandeep Singh, BDPO, of the local block, along with the staff of the BDPO office sat on dharna here on Friday.

Similar dharnas were organised at the block headquarters Nausherha Pannuan, Cholha Sahib, Patti, Khadoor Sahib, Gandiwind and Bhikhiwind.


MC chief’s resignation accepted
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 27
The Punjab local bodies department accepted the resignation of Bassi Pathana municipal council chief Amita Tangri, who had put in her papers on health grounds. Ramesh Gupta has taken over as acting president of the council.

Earlier, councillors, associated with the Bassi Pathana Vikas Manch, had filed a complaint against Tangri.

They had also sought a vigilance inquiry against her. However, after Tangri moved her resignation, the complaint was withdrawn by the councillors.

Sources in the MC said the SAD-BJP alliance was keen on appointing their favourite candidate as the chief of the council.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Alak Nanda Dayal today issued an agenda for a meeting to elect the next Bassi Pathana municipal council president. The meeting will be held in the MC office on July 30 at 12 am.

Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli, a senior SAD (B) leader of the area, told The Tribune today confidently that SAD (B)-BJP-backed candidate Sunita Malhotra would be elected the next president.


Atta-dal scheme to cover 13.57 lakh families
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab government has identified 13.57 lakh families as beneficiaries under the atta-dal scheme to be launched from August 15.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the distribution of blue ration cards would be completed by August 5 in all districts except Patiala , Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda where municipal corporation elections were being held and the model election code was in force. The distribution of ration cards in these five districts would begin after August 8, after the elections were over.

Bird flu

In view of reports of bird flu in Manipur, the Punjab government has set up a high-level panel to offset the threat, if any, of the disease.

Minister for animal husbandry Gulzar Singh Ranike said the government was geared up to prevent any outbreak. There was no cause for panic as there was no trade of poultry from Manipur to Punjab and other northern states.


Workers demand wages
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 27
Daily-wage workers of the Punjab Forest Department, Gurdaspur, today staged a dharna in front of the office of the divisional forest officer (DFO) for not getting wages for the past over six months.

He said the daily-wage workers of forest ranges of Aliwal, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Quadian had also not been paid wages.

They also demanded that the 60 daily-wage workers who had been shown the door by the department be taken back. A delegation of the union later met the DFO and gave a representation of their demands.

DFO Chaman Lal said the payments to certain daily wagers would be made in the next few days.


Project on child health
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
Chairman-cum-executive director of the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (North), Punjab, P.H. Vaishnav inaugurated a project of reproductive and child health, Government of India, a Fatehpur village, recently.

This project, under the assistance of the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA), has been started for three years, sources said.


Monica keen on returning to films
Our Correspondent

Chabbewal, July 27
Bollywood starlet Monica Bedi said though some politicians had approached her during her stay at Chanchalguda prison in Hyderabad to join their respective political parties, she had no intention to join politics. Moreover, no member of her family was ever in politics.

Monica was talking to this correspondent at her aunt Kanta’s house at the village today.

She emphasised the need for granting interim bails to all innocent women languishing in prison for a long period on account of their cases pending in the courts.


Bathinda SSP in PSHRC loop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) yesterday took notice of media reports according to which the SSP, Bathinda, had asked a cop to do push-ups in full public view at the mini-secretariat on Monday.

The cop was allegedly meted out the said treatment when his motor cycle failed to start in the first go.

The panel said it was prima facie of the opinion that the contents of the media reports amounted to violation of dignity of a human being in full gaze of public.


Teej festival from Aug 11

Patiala, July 27
A meeting of the Patiala Kala Parishad was held under the chairmanship of S.K. Ahluwalia, president of the Patiala Kala Parishad-cum-divisional commissioner, Patiala division, here on Thursday. Giving details, Ahluwalia said a two-day teej festival would be celebrated on August 11 and 12 at Baradari Garden.

This festival also welcomes monsoons. Swings are hung from trees and decorated with flowers. Women tastefully attired, swing on them and sing songs in celebration. — TNS


School auto overturns, nine injured
Tribune News Service

The school auto that overturned, injuring nine persons, in Kharar on Friday.
The school auto that overturned, injuring nine persons, in Kharar on Friday. — A Tribune photograph

Kharar, July 27
Nine persons, including staff and students of Saint Ezra International School in Khanpur, were injured when a school autorickshaw collided with a tractor-trailer this afternoon.

The injured included five teachers, Navisha Jain, Neha, Navjot, Kuldeep Kaur and Poonam, and Ashreet and Jaskaran, students. Both drivers were got hurt in the accident.

The injured were discharged from the civil hospital after first-aid. The police is investigating the case.

Till the filing of this report, no case had been registered.


Scribes flay Jalandhar incident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ) today condemned beating up of journalists at Jalandhar by the CRPF personnel.

A statement issued here today demanded a high-level-probe into the case.

It also demanded the arrest of the CRPF personnel and their suspension.

It demanded compensation for the cameramen, whose cameras broken in the assault.


What a relief!
Border no bar for tubewell connections
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to give major relief to farmers on the Indo-Pak international border. They will be issued tube well connections for irrigating their lands located beyond the border fencing.

Chairman of the PSEB Y.S. Ratra said the decision in this regard had been taken at the behest of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The farmers whose lands are located between the Ravi and Indo-Pak border would also be issued tube well connections.

The rationale behind this is to provide relief to farmers of border areas who are already facing problems due to difficult accessibility to their lands. The farmers who had land across the fence were earlier denied power connections by the PSEB. They were denied these as the entry into the area was restricted either by the BSF or Army.

The chairman stated that the limit for farmers to get the unauthorised loads for tube wells regularised had been increased by two months. The farmers could now get this done by depositing a nominal fee by September. He further said the farmers who want to take the connections on priority basis would have to deposit Rs 3,200 per BPH.


SAD to corner Centre on farmers’ issues
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 27
In the ensuing monsoon session of Parliament the SAD will raise the issue regarding keeping Punjab under the disturbed area category even after return of normalcy. The SAD will put pressure on the Central government to withdraw the notification vide which it had declared Punjab a disturbed area.

Talking to this reporter on the phone today, secretary-general of the SAD Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said due to the disturbed area status Pakistani Muslims who visited the state, especially Malerkotla, were the worst sufferers as they could not get direct visa and had to first go to Delhi. Dhindsa said he had met the Prime Minister twice for scrapping the disturbed area notification, but it seemed that the Centre was not serious in accepting the demand.

He stated that in the ensuing session they would compel the Centre to declare the MSP of paddy as Rs 1,000 per quintal for the coming procurement season.


Head constable suspended for harassing couple
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 27
Head constable Gurnam Singh of the Baloungi police post was suspended today for misbehaving with a married couple.

In their complaint to Ranbir Singh Khattra, SSP, Mohali, residents of Baloungi Pankaj and Mamta stated that the head constable had misbehaved with them yesterday.

“After dropping my kids off at school, I left my wife, Mamta, in front of the Baloungi police post. She said she would go home on her own,” stated Pankaj.

Pankaj added that the constable, standing nearby, thought they were having an illicit relationship and so stopped him a few metres from the post. “I was asked who the lady I was talking to was. Even though I told him that she was my wife, he refused to believe me. Gurnam then called up my neighbour, who also confirmed that we were married, but still he did not believe us,” said Pankaj, a driver by profession.

The couple then produced their marriage certificate as proof, only after which they were allowed to go home late in the evening.

The couple today met Harinderjeet Singh Sidhu, SP (headquarters), and complained against Gurnam, following which he was suspended.

An inquiry has also been initiated against the constable and action will be taken accordingly.


Ghuman nominated to advisory body
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The Punjab Government has nominated noted economist Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, professor in the department of economics, as member of the State Advisory Committee of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Sources said Dr Ghuman had worked extensively to promote higher education in Punjab. At present, Dr Ghuman is working on two projects relating to local agricultural labour and socio-economic analysis of rural studies in professional colleges of Punjab. These projects have been funded by the Punjab State Farmers Commission and Punjabi University.


Medical Colleges
Sud hints at reasonable fee hike
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 27
The decision to hike fees of medical colleges in the state has perturbed parents. Commenting on reports in a section of the press, minister for medical education and research Tikshan Sud denied that there was a proposal to hike fees of medical colleges by 200 or 400 per cent.

The parents rue the fact that the PMT prospectus does not mention anything about the fee hike.

“Many parents, who have take a loan or arranged money for the admission fee, are in a fix as to how much money they should arrange. Many have already forgone more expensive seats in other courses offered by colleges of other states in the hope of getting admission in a Punjab college. The PMT prospectus does not mention anything about the possible hike in fees,” says a parent.

The prospectus mentions annual fee for medical colleges is Rs 1 lakh while for dental colleges it is Rs 55,000 and for ayurvedic and homeopathic courses it is Rs 35, 000 only.

The minister, however, denied drastic hike in fees, saying, “I never said anything about a 200 per cent or 400 per cent hike in fees but the medical institutions have to run and a fee hike is long overdue. A committee, headed by secretary, medical education and research, Jagjit Puri, has been constituted to look into the revision of fee structure.


Seminar on SSA held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 27
The Koshish Welfare Club, Sunam, today organised a seminar on the Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) at the Government Primary School (Sachkhand) at Sunam. President of the club Rakesh Aggarwal presided over the seminar while retired executive engineer of the PWD,B&R, Joginder Singh Chandhar was the chief guest.

Chandhar asked the Punjab government to provide buildings, staff and other facilities in the schools.


Cable War
Politics takes over network; police mum
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
Politics has taken over the cable network business in the district. A particular cable network is being favoured by the local police and administration.

Proprietor of CCO cable network Naresh Mittal and honorary adviser Mohan Thakur have been put behind bars by the police.

The cases registered against them in March this year during the stint of previous government have been reopened by the police, allegedly on the directions of the government.

The CCO network is the biggest one in Patiala and its surrounding areas, comprising 100 dealers. However, bad days of operators under the network started with the change of government.

Most cables of the network have been damaged by the opposition network, which is allegedly supported by the ruling party in the state. This has rendered large areas of Patiala without the cable facility for over a week.

With male members behind the bars, the wives of the CCO cable operators have taken up the cudgels to fight against the government repression.

Today, they organised a dharna outside the office of deputy commissioner Patiala D.S. Grewal.

Mita Mittal, wife of Naresh Mittal, has alleged that henchmen of Vikas Puri and Gurpreet Singh, who have the support of top-rung leaders of the SAD, fired shots at their house last night.

They threatened to kill them in case their network went back to air.

They also alleged that their cable network and its equipment was being stolen. The opposition cable network was using their wire to relay their signal, they claimed.

They alleged that 12 reports regarding the charges have been given to the police but to no avail.

The women alleged that over thousand workers have been rendered jobless due to the “state-sponsored terrorism” by a particular cable network.

Naresh Mittal had also approached the state human rights commission that directed the Punjab DGP to inquire into the matter. However, no action had been taken so far.

The protesting wives and family members of cable operators threatened to hold indefinite dharna outside the office of local police officials if no action was taken against those resorting to bullying to takeover their business.

Sources available here said those associated with the network were being harassed as they had reportedly helped the Congress during the Assembly elections.

The cable network owners have, however, denied the charge maintaining that they were just doing their business and not politics.


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