P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Probe all ‘cats’, why only mine: Virk
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Arrested DGP S.S. Virk today opened his heart out on the issue of “cats”, militant-turned informers, while challenging the Punjab government to “show guts” and probe the other police officers who adopted similar means. Indirectly, he named a few informers and went on to explain the alleged land deals, the timing of his arrest and the behaviour of the arresting party.
  • Cats are a reality and cannot be written off now
  • Saini is exposing the very people who helped the police fight terrorism
  • I am paying the price of not being a turncoat
  • Arrest timed to scuttle a move of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to re-instate me

The Tribune managed to speak to Virk despite a ring of policemen around him. Virk claimed that the entire case against him was fabricated and said, “I am paying the price of not being a turncoat as several other officers did and sided with SAD in the run-up to the elections.”

On keeping “cats”, Virk said, “Whatever I did was in line with my duty. I was a middle-level official and part of the system fighting militants while the policies were made by the seniors.” All officers during those times had their own sets of “cats”, claimed Virk while asking the government to find the real identity of police inspector Gurmit Pinki. Also, who got him recruited in the police. But Virk stopped short of naming any more persons, saying that he would never reveal the names of militants who turned informers or were rehabilitated.

“Cats are a reality and cannot be written off now, but action is not being taken against all officers, why me alone?” said Virk.

He alleged, “Sumedh Singh Saini is an erratic chap and now he has exposed the national strategy to fight terror. Just to harm me, Saini is exposing the very people who helped the police fight terrorism.”

However, Virk said his arrest was not possible without the consent of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Virk alleged that Saini held a personal grudge against him saying “differences had cropped up between us after Saini arrested journalist Gautam Dheer in a case”. The media had reacted sharply and Dheer had to be freed while the investigation was taken away from Saini.

Not colony, but cooperative society

On the case of colonisation against him, Virk said it was not colonisation, but a cooperative society in which more than 50 IPS and IAS officers are members. Since owning a house in Chandigarh was impossible, a piece of land was purchased in Dera Bassi. Virk alleged, “Among the initiators of the project was Surinder Pal Singh, now SSP Vigilance, and the investigating officer (IO) in my case.”

He said his property shown in Kasauli could be taken by the government as “it is not mine” and added that he had informed the government of all other purchases.

“But why not check, did all officers inform the government of the purchases they made?” he asked

Virk claimed that his arrest had been timed to scuttle a move of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to re-instate him. The Punjab police was keeping tabs on the developments and ensured that the arrest was made before the MHA could issue the orders.

On reports in a section of the media that SSP Vigilance, Patiala, Shiv Kumar, has shown some disrespect to him, Virk said, “It is incorrect. All men have been addressing me with due respect and nobody, including Shiv Kumar, had show an iota of disrespect at any point of time.”

Meanwhile, sources said Shiv Kumar had an exchange of words with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh when he went to the PGI yesterday, chiding him that Virk did not even heed the words of the former CM during his tenure. A source said Shiv Kumar even reminded the former CM how Virk had tuned down specific requests sent by Amarinder Singh. The latter retaliated by saying that he did not want to enter into an argument.

Shiv Kumar then went on to remind Amarinder Singh that the police only obeyed the orders of the incumbent Chief Minister and claimed that it he who arrested former chief of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravi Sidhu at the orders of Amarinder.


Virk’s condition softens Vigilance?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Did medical condition of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk change aggressive posture of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the past 24 hours? The PGI has decided in case Virk requires surgery or intervention for the cancer of the urinary tract, he will be referred to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai where Virk was operated upon a couple of years ago by Dr Murli Kamat. Kamat still works there. Sources said the doctors had informed the cops such delicate surgery, if required, should be referred to the doctor who first did the surgery. The VB realised in case of medical complication this could snowball into another controversy. This afternoon when investigating officer Surinder Pal Singh suggested in court Virk might be sent in judicial custody, it was evident the VB had information on Virk’s ailment

With Virk now being in judicial custody the onus is not directly on the VB. Meanwhile sources in the PGI said if a person had been operated upon once for such type of cancer, it was better to let the same doctor examine him before any intervention was carried out.


Is stable: PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The PGI today reported “there is better control of blood pressure of arrested DGP S.S Virk, but fluctuation still persists.” Echocardiography examination of the cop has suggested the presence of a hypertensive heart disease.

Virk remained in room number 19 of D block on the fifth floor at the PGI.

Among others who visited Virk today were the son of former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar and now Congress MLA from Muktsar Sunny Brar. Brar, however, could not meet him as Virk was in Mohali court at that time.

Virk was taken to the District Courts Mohali at noon. After the court passed order to send him to judicial custody till September 24, Virk returned to the PGI at 1.30 pm.


Vigilance to wait till Virk’s discharge
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Who is TRR? This abbreviation, probably used to refer to a businessman, figures prominently in diaries and handwritten documents recovered from the briefcase of DGP Sarabdeep Singh Virk.

Vigilance suspects that this abbreviation stands for TR Reddy, a Pune-based friend of Sarabdeep Singh Virk, with whom he has substantial business and financial dealings.

Diaries and other handwritten notes also mention names of several Punjab VIPs, including politicians, police officers and several civil servants, with whom either Virk or his family had any financial or business transactions between 2000 and 2007.

Vigilance, which earlier in the day requested the court to remand Virk in judicial custody because of his ill health, maintains that it will wait for him to be discharged from the hospital for further questioning and interrogation.

Though a huge bunch of keys was recovered from his briefcase, the decision to open his bank lockers was deferred till “he is able to join prove.”

Though the registration of a case against DGP Virk has created ripples both in political and administrative circles, yet no one could doubt the honesty and integrity of the Vigilance chief Sumedh Singh Saini and his team which made the arrest from Maharashtra Bhavan in the Capital without anyone getting a wind of it.

While scanning through pages of one of the diaries, investigators have not only noticed routine entries, including money spent at a departmental store or at gas stations, but also entries which corroborate statements of bank accounts of the family members of the DGP.

Counter-foils of cheque deposits, recovered from his briefcase, also reveal that various financial transactions were made for the purchase and investments in property. For example, recorded on the backside of a counter foil of a cheque deposit slip says it was payment for the sale of plot number 8 at Zirakpur. One A. Minocha gave the cheque. Another cheque deposit foil is about payment for plot no 79 and cheque was from some M. Gupta.

Documents also indicate a sum of Rs 50 lakh was given as advance to Vijay Pal Singh Dimpy for purchase of land. These counter foils and payments pertain to the account of Jaswinder Kaur Virk.

While vigilance sources promise fair investigation in case of VIPs figuring prominently in the diary and handwritten documents, a few of them have reportedly gone underground fearing action.

One entry of 26 January, 2000, says “Paid 3.5 to Yash Sharma towards plot payment (16+8+10+3.5) = 16+21.5 = 37.5. On January 30, diary reads, went to Pune by IC 849 (Indian Airlines flight) and paid 3.00 to TRR (total 40.50).

Calculations made on a piece of paper recovered from the briefcase make interesting revelations. On this piece of paper, price per square yard of land measuring 15 acres has been worked out at Rs 275 suggesting that a kanal would go for Rs 4,37,500 and 70 one-kanal plots from 15 acres would go for Rs 4.17 crore against their purchase price of Rs 2.70 crore.

The purchase cost has been mentioned as Rs 18 lakh per acre. Immediate payment, it says is Rs 40.50 lakh (15 per cent) followed by second instalment of 35 per cent (Rs 94.50 lakh) and remaining 50 per cent after six months.

Another handwritten page gives details of A and B accounts of “self, J.V., Jasleen Kaur and Pradeep plus accounts in Citi Bank, SBI, SV, saying “put in names of JV, self, Jasleen and Sarabdeep in FD (4.00) each and fix loan limit of 3.00 each.


CM evades queries on Virk
Dharmendra Joshi

Tribune News Service

Khiala (Adampur), September 11
“I do not speak like Amarinder Singh.” This was the response of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the queries of mediapersons related with the arrest of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk and the Vigilance Bureau raid at a former militant-turned police cat Sukhjinder Singh Sukhi.

Talking to mediapersons after a function at a private educational institute here today, Badal evaded direct replies to the question asked to him regarding Virk, Sukhi and police cats.

However, in reply to a question about the statement of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh justifying the phenomenon of police cats, he said whatever is required to be done, should be done legally.

He agreed to the proposal of setting up of an ayurvedic university in Hoshiarpur district. Chief Parliamentary Secretaries Mohinder Kaur, Sohan Singh Thandal, MLA Jagbir Brar and Baba Malkit Singh were also present.


Amarinder’s statement on ‘cats’ absurd, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Terming the statement of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the issue of “cats” as absurd and preposterous, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann today said such a person, who had also been a Member of Parliament, was expected to express an opinion within reason, logic, law of the country and its Constitution.

Mann said, “The Indian Constitution vide Article 21 states that no person will be deprived of his life and liberty without the procedure laid down by law. Our party asked Amarinder under what law the state gave S. S. Virk, J. Ribeiro, K.P.S. Gill and the police a right to create “cats” in the state by killing innocent persons and then giving them (cats) fake names?”

Taking anyone's life by the state was the duty of a law court, Mann added in a statement sent through e-mail.

In the name of fighting terrorism, certain police officials were given a carte blanche to amass wealth and properties disproportionate to their known sources of income.


DSGMC, Sarna decry Virk’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, SAD, Delhi, have condemned the arrest of S.S. Virk, a former DGP, Punjab as an act of “vengeance”.

In a press note Sarna said the Punjab government had sought the services of Virk for his honesty and dedication. He said it was not a crime to bring misguided youth into the mainstream life.


Badals’ Orbit widens with big takeovers
Bid to have monopoly over passenger transport

Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Apparently, in a bid to have absolute control over the passenger transport in the state, Orbit Transporters Private Limited and Dabwali Transport Private Limited, owned by the ruling family of Punjab are making takeovers of different transport companies all over the state.

The two companies are learnt to be trying all possible means and methods to buy as many route permits as they can.

This has reportedly led to a massive increase in the prices per kilometre for the route permits. A route permit that would ordinarily sell for Rs 3,500 per km in the recent past is learnt to be now fetching about Rs 12,000 per km.

The two companies have already bought the transport companies which were running in losses, while making fabulous offers to others. And those who are not ready to fall in line are made to lose business by unfair competition.

While some small transporters are making the best of the opportunity with such “hard to resist” offers, others are offering stiff resistance, particularly those operating buses on the profit making routes. On such profit-making routes, parallel buses have already been started.

For example, against the existing timing of a bus from Patiala to Bathinda at 5.06 am, another bus has been allotted the same route at 4.51 am, 15 minutes ahead, with obvious motives. Similarly, from Bathinda to Patiala a parallel bus has been introduced against the existing one which would start at 4.46 am. The new bus will start from Bathinda at 4.28 am. This practice has been adopted on most of the profit-making routes where the existing operators are resisting the takeover bid so that they are forced to give in.

During the recent days, the two companies are learnt to have purchased a fleet of about 12 vehicles along with route permits in Mansa and about 20 buses in Ludhiana. These are also learnt to have bought about 50 buses from a Jalandhar-based defunct transport company.

The takeover bid has shaken the transport industry across the state as it fears that it will give unbridled monopoly to the two privileged companies with full support from the government. The two companies have already got monopoly in the Malwa region, and now the target is the rest of the state.

Industry sources expressed surprise as to why Badals were so interested in transport when it was no longer a profit-making business. Particularly, when the company is buying the route permits for exorbitant prices. If a route permit is valued at about Rs 4,000 per km, the company is buying it at Rs 12,000 per km.

The Transport Department has sought objections, if any, against the transfer of several routes to Orbit Transporters Private Limited, VPO, Badal. While the routes cannot be sold or purchased, the transporters show the transaction of the bus along with the “operating permit”.

Another Gidderbha-based transport company supported by one of the ruling family members who is also a minister, has also jumped into the fray with a few takeovers. But it is nowhere near the Orbit and Dabwali transport companies.

While Orbit Transport Company has its headquarters at Badal village, Dabwali Transport Company is based at Bathinda. Dabwali Transport Company was earlier named Dabwali Transport and Real Estate Private Limited. It has submitted an application with the Transport Department for the change of name.


Court notice to Badals on Punjab plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Justice Surya Kant of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for September 19 to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur Badal, son Sukhbir Singh Badal and seven others who are accused in a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Vigilance Bureau.

The notice came in the wake of the Punjab government’s plea seeking directions to set aside the order, dated August 20, by the special judge, Ropar, G.S.Saran, who was hearing the aforesaid case filed by the bureau against the respondents.

The trial court had, vide the impugned August 20 order, rejected the public prosecutor’s application to examine investigating officer of the case Surinder Pal Singh before proceeding further in presenting the prosecution evidence. The trial court had, while declining the request, observed that it would be appropriate if the officer were examined after the examination of the remaining material witnesses.

Subsequently three more witnesses had been examined who also did not support the case of the prosecution.

Significantly, 20 witnesses had already refused to toe the prosecution’s version in the case. The state counsel sought an urgent intervention of the High Court in the matter as the next hearing at Ropar in the case was scheduled for September 12 and 13 for recording of prosecution evidence.

The Punjab government had filed the petition before the court under Section 482 of the CrPC, arguing that the orders of the trial court were against the settled principles enshrined under the code and its reliance on Section 135 of the Indian Evidence Act was untenable.

Incidentally, the case against the Badals, their relatives and associates was registered at Mohali in June 24, 2003, under Sections 420, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Apart from the Badals, the other respondents to whom notice has been issued are Narottam Singh Dhillon of Sainik Farms, New Delhi, Nirbhjit Singh VPO Midda (Malout), Pavttar Singh, Darshan Singh, Jagnandan Singh and Harbans Lal, all from Killianwali village in Muktsar district, and Gurpinder Singh Grewal of Sector 40, Chandigarh.


BSF delegation returns from Pakistan
Rangers’ assurance on three POWs
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Attari, September 11
Pakistani Rangers have assured Border Security Force (BSF) officials to locate three BSF prisoners of wars (POWs) suspected to be in Pakistan jails since 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Stating this to the media late this evening, G. S. Gill, additional director general, BSF, said the Pakistan authorities informed them that they had failed to locate the POWs in any of the jails in their country as the photographs (provided by relatives of the prisoners) have pictures of their youth time and their faces might have changed.

Gill, who was leading the 18-member high-level delegation which returned to the country after attending a bi-annual meeting of BSF and Pakistan Rangers held in Pakistan, said the meeting was held in very cordial and friendly environment. He said both sides had agreed to put in sincere efforts for the smooth management of the international borders.

While delivering the details of the meeting, he said the deliberations were held to resolve the issue of repatriation of persons who inadvertently crossed the border and both sides had decided to evolve a mechanism for their earlier release and repatriation. So far the Indian government had repatriated 192 Pakistani nationals since their last meeting out of which 65 were fishermen, he added. As on date there were only eight Pakistani fishermen lodged in Indian jails. The Pakistan had also reciprocated by repatriating 185 Indian nationals during the same period out of whom 151 were fishermen. With the benefit of experience, this mechanism had further been streamlined to avoid delay and eliminate avoidable suffering of inadvertent crossers and their families, he said.

The ADG said narcotics and arms smuggling was another important issue discussed in the meeting and resolved to work in coordination to fight this menace together. He said coordinated patrolling, repair of boundary pillars and firing practices close to the border were also discussed in the meeting.


Kohli nominated Patiala mayor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
Though the Constitution has been amended to empower the local governments, it seems to be just in papers. The election to the post of mayor of the Patiala Municipal Corporation is an illustration to the fact.

Today, 28-year-old Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, son of Sarabjit Singh Kohli, former minister, was declared the mayor of Patiala. Instead of an election for mayorship, the proceedings in the House were comic.

SAD leaders brought an envelope that allegedly had the decision of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal in the presence of divisional commissioner of Patiala S.K. Ahluwalia, who was the presiding officer.

The envelope had the letterhead of SAD president on which the name of Ajit Pal Singh Kohli was typed. He was announced the new mayor on the diktat from the party high command.

Even the nominations for his name, an official formality, were completed after declaring his name. There was no voting for the election of mayor as the candidate chosen by the party high command was considered to be nominated.

Similarly, Anil Bajaj of the BJP was declared senior deputy mayor of Patiala and Sonia Devi of the BJP as deputy mayor.

Minister for local governments Manoranjan Kalia and Bibi Jagir were also present.

About 20 municipal councillors owing allegiance to Surjeet Singh Rakhra and Inder Mohan Singh Bajaj, district president of SAD, held a meeting to decide their future course of action. They were, however, pacified by senior leaders of the party.


PSEB acts tough to recover pending bills
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 11
More than 1.25 lakh residents of this subdivisional town, considered most prosperous in the district, will be deprived of basic amenities including drinking water, health services and streetlights from today onwards.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has disconnected water supply to the water works and sewer water disposal centre run by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The board had defaulted on payment of bills worth Rs 9.40 lakh.

However, sources said the municipal council was to bear the expenses and had not made the payments. The PSEB team then stopped electricity supply to the 100-bed Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital to recover pending bills worth Rs 12.77 lakh. The hospital had been served reminders in the past but failed to clear the bills.

The PSEB authorities today reportedly directed the technical employees not to switch on streetlights in the town, as the municipal council had not paid bills worth Rs 70 lakh. The perusal of accounts indicated that the council, run by the Congress, had not paid bills even once during the past four years.

According to sources the PSEB officials now plan to disconnect supply to the subdivisional police stations and residential accommodation of the officials as the department was yet to pay a balance of Rs 3.10 lakh. The PSEB has thrice disconnected power supply to the police complex during the past five years.

There were reports that the present government had not released funds against contingencies since its formation due to financial crunch resulting in an abnormal delay in clearing the pending bills of other non-official and semi-official claimants also.


Promoting ayurved, unani systems through herbal garden

Hoshiarpur, September 11
Herbal medicine is perhaps the oldest form of treating any illness known to mankind. Excessive reliance on allopathy, however, has kept people from using herbal medicines. Fortunately, herbal gardens have now been set up to grow rare medicinal plants and there are experts on hand to provide knowledge about them to the people.

Just two miles from Hoshiarpur district lies Satial, a forest range in the Shivaliks. The climatic conditions here are favourable for the growth of medicinal plants and the state Forest Department has cashed in on this to establish a herbal garden on more than an acre.

The garden has almost 70 types of medicinal plants and is now a tourist spot and a training centre for both students and farmers. The trees, herbs and shrubs that are grown here can cure illnesses such as diarrhoea, epilepsy and pulmonary tuberculosis.

“We are creating a herbal garden to promote old systems of medicine like ayurveda and unani. If we use these raw materials, at least our coming generations would be aware about the utility and the services provided at this herbal garden,” said Ishwar Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, Chandigarh.

The herbal nursery in Chandigarh is spread across 35 acres and is the home to 65 varieties of medicinal trees and 55 herbal varieties, including herbs and shrubs.

The concept of herbal parks and nurseries is a step to conserve medicinal plants for study and research and also to popularise the use of local medicinal and aromatic plants in the area. This pioneering effort by Punjab is now being followed by Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that four billion people, 80 per cent of the world population, presently, use herbal medicines.

Aloe vera, which has for centuries been recognised for its remarkable health-enhancing properties, is being promoted extensively among farmers. It has become an alternative source of farming in the state.

The marketing mechanism plays an important role in promoting alternative farming. Once that marketing mechanism develops, then farmers can produce items of very good quality and quantity. “The main bottleneck in this sector is that we have to establish very strong linkages between the market and the producer,” said one official. — ANI


Girls being denied medical care in Punjab: Study
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 11
The state government has been successful in checking female foeticide through stringent measures taken recently, but the undying obsession amongst parents to have a baby boy has set a new trend of denying proper vaccination to a girl child, leading to a high mortality rate among girls.

A recent study conducted by Dr Harshindar Kaur, a senior pediatrician, who had been actively pursuing a campaign against female foeticide, had concluded that 823 girls were given BCG vaccination in the Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib region at the time of birth as against 1,000 males, only 550 girls were administered DPT vaccination, which is given after two months’ interval, revealing that girls were not being given the required care.

Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Kaur said it was shocking to note that lesser number of girls was being admitted to hospitals.

She said in January this year, only 714 girls were admitted to hospital for medical treatment as against 2, 274 males, that leads to a conclusion that the sex ratio was not more than 313 females against every 1, 000 males. 


Protesters, cops hurt in clash
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 11
In a lathicharge on protesters by the police and stone-pelting on the police by the protesters near the district administrative complex (DC office) here today, several persons were injured. While the protesters claimed that four or five of them, including young Harpal Singh, had sustained injuries in the lathicharge, the police claimed that three policemen had received injuries due to stone-pelting by the protesters.

On the allegations that policemen had lathicharged women protesters, Sangrur deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri ordered magisterial inquiry in this regard. He also assured the protesters that he would talk to the Patiala Zone DIG to transfer the investigation of this murder case to the police of any other district, as they had not faith in the local police.

Local DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said Gurmail Singh and Didar Singh, both head constables, and Kamal Kumar, constable, were injured in the stone-pelting. The police had registered a case against 40 persons by name and more than 100 others.

The situation took an ugly turn when hundreds of protesters, including a large number of women, returned to the traffic lights chowk, near the DC office, after holding a protest march and demonstration through the town. They were demanding the inclusion of names of advocate Kiranjit Singh Sekhon and Karminder Singh, alias Galoori, in the FIR and their arrest immediately in the murder case of a 26-year-old youth of local Baguana Basti Harjit Singh, who was allegedly shot dead on August 13 here. In this murder case Sanjay Chohan, owner of Punjab Public School, Baguana Basti, Sangrur, and his driver Rakesh Kumar have already been arrested.

Kiranjit Singh Sekhon said today that he was innocent.


Eucalyptus plantations affecting natural water bodies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
The eucalyptus plantations carried out by the Department of Forests in the Shivalik ranges of Punjab have come under a scanner. The plantations that had been made under a Japan-aided bank project in already water-scarce areas of the Shivaliks are adversely affecting water in natural bodies if the study conducted by the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Institute, Dehra Dun, is believed.

Director of the institute V.N. Sharda while talking to The Tribune said they had carried a study on the impact of eucalyptus plantations on natural water bodies in the Nilgiris. The results of various parameters of the study had been published in 2000.

In the study it has been observed that if eucalyptus is allowed to grow around a natural reservoir for about 10 years, the water in it gets reduced by 16 per cent. If the off-shoots of the same plant are again allowed to grow for another 10 years the water goes down by 27 per cent. The results have also indicated loss of moisture ranging from 10 to 12 per cent in the areas where the eucalyptus trees are allowed to grow for more than 20 years.

The suggestions have been adopted by many state governments, including Tamil Nadu, that have banned the plantations of eucalyptus around natural water bodies. The plantations are, however, recommended around the water-logged areas, Sharda said.

According to the study the eucalyptus trees will reduce the inflow in natural rivulets of the Shivaliks. This will also affect water level in small dams in the Shivaliks, which are used for irrigation and drinking water purposes in kandi areas.

Principal chief conservator of forests B.C. Bala said the eucalyptus had been planted in private forest areas as these were beneficial to farmers commercially. About the impact of plantations on ecology water reserves, he said it varied from one area to another. He said that he had not gone through the report.


Go-ahead for Banur sewerage line
Tribune News Service

Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh addresses a press conference at Banur on Tuesday.
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh addresses a press conference at Banur on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Banur, September 11
Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and the Banur MLA met the Banur Municipal Council members, here today. It was unanimously decided that the work of providing sewerage facility in the township should begin immediately.

Council’s executive officer S.S. Sandhu said the sewerage facility would be provided as part of Punjab government’s scheme that has covered 40 cities, which included Banur. The council would have to shell out 20 per cent of the total cost of over Rs 5 crore for laying the sewerage line.

As many as 12 out of the 13-member council also agreed on the shifting of bus stand site to the one near the old veterinary hospital. A new bus stand would be constructed here. The site where the bus stand is located would be sold to earn revenue, Sandhu said.


SGPC man suspended

Amritsar, September 11
A flying squad, headed by senior SGPC member, Jaswinder Singh today nabbed an employee of Dharm Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Committee red handed for selling the sets of “panj kakkas” (five Ks), meant for distribution among the devotees at the time of baptism ceremony.

The accused employee, Davinder Singh Patti, has been placed under suspension and a charge sheet is being issued to him. The flying squad had arranged a decoy who had “purchased” a bag of “panj kakkas” from the residence of a relative of the accused in Sharifpura locality.

The alleged accused had loaded the “panj kakkas”, that were packed in a gunny bag, in a rickshaw when the flying squad reached there. — TNS


Board set up to tackle unemployment

Hoshiarpur, September 11
To provide job opportunities to those in the age group of 18-40 years, the state government has recently established the Punjab Youth Employment Generation and Training Board in this connection.

According to official sources here today, the board has been established under the direct control of the Chief Minister for tackling unemployment.

As many as 4.42 lakh unemployed youths are registered with the district employment exchanges in the state as on March 31.

The board had recently directed all deputy commissioners to get surveyed the actual number of unemployed youths in their respective districts.


High Court
Relief to Hindu migrants from Pak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
In a major relief to a host of Hindu migrants from Pakistan, who came to India in 1994 and are residing in Rajpura, the Division Bench comprising Justices Uma Nath Singh and Rajive Bhalla today asked the ministry of external affairs and other respondents not to deport them from the country till their citizenship applications were considered and disposed of by the Union Government.

During the proceedings in the case titled ‘Rajkumari and others Vs Union of India and others’, the counsel for Punjab averred, on instructions from Amarjit Singh, Senior Assistant, office of the Divisional Magistrate, Patiala, that all necessary formalities had been completed and the Punjab government would send the applications regarding the grant of citizenship to petitioners to the Centre.

The petitioners had prayed for the grant of Indian citizenship to them. They averred that their forefathers were Hindus and the petitioners were born in Hindu families at Loralai village, now in Pakistan. They came to India in 1994 and started residing in Rajpura, Patiala district.

Eventually, the petitioners were granted residence permits and were running businesses and doing labour since their date of arrival. Significantly, their stay was extended from time to time and they had no criminal record whatsoever. In fact, some of the petitioners were already married to Indian citizens and parents of some of the petitioners had been granted Indian citizenship.

Rajkumari, petitioner no 1, had come to India on May 10,1994. It was submitted that children of most of the petitioners were studying and thus deportation would seriously disrupt their lives.


Jail for SDM’s steno

Ropar, September 11
Gurmukh Singh, a steno posted at SDM Kharar’s office in 2001, has been sentenced to one and half years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 in a corruption case.

The court of special judge G.S. Saran handed down the sentence today. The Punjab vigilance bureau had arrested him on March 28, 2001 for accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from Sahab Singh, a resident of Dola village, for providing him with some documents.

He was caught red-handed and booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act. — TNS


Squall hits cotton, paddy in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 11
Standing paddy and cotton crops in about 800 acres of area of this district suffered damages after a squall hit this region late last night.

While the cotton crop suffered damage ranging from 2 per cent to 4 per cent, the paddy crop suffered damage from 7 per cent to 10 per cent.

Deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari has asked Revenue and Agriculture officials to make inquiries so that the quantum of loss could be assessed.

Paramjit Singh Sandhu, chief agriculture officer (CAO), when contacted, said the loss caused to the cotton and paddy crop would certainly hit the production target of these crops.

He added that reports connected with damage to crops had been received from Sangat, Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo blocks.

He added that on the other hand, Agriculture Department officials had controlled the attack of mealy bug on the cotton crop and efforts were on to deal with the tobacco worm on this crop.


SAD leader booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 11
The district police have booked district general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal Kashmira Singh and two of his relatives on charge of committing a fraud.

The case was registered after one Gurvinder Singh filed a complaint alleging that Kashmira Singh had hatched a conspiracy along with his son’s father-in-law Jharmal Singh and his wife to take possession of land that his father had bought from Jharmal Singh in 2001.

Police sources said Gurvinder’s father had bought 7.5 acres in Harlalpur village. However, before he could get the land registered in his name, he expired. Later, Jharmal Singh got the land registered in Gurvinder’s name.

He alleged that recently when the rates of property sky-rocketed, Kashmira Singh conspired with Jharmal Singh and asked his wife to move an application with the police, alleging that Jharmal Singh was mentally unfit and Gurvinder had got the land registered in his name fraudulently.

However, after conducting an inquiry, the district police rejected the claims made by Jharmal Singh’s wife. Later, after intervention of senior officials, the matter was reconsidered and a case was registered against Gurvinder Singh.


BJP leader’s kin attacked

Bathinda, September 11
Darshna Devi, a widow and kin of Mohit Gupta, a senior BJP leader of this district, was today allegedly attacked by Baldev Singh, while she along with her son was coming out of a court here after appearing in it in connection with a case.

In a complaint to SSP Nau Nihal Singh Aulakh, Darshna Devi alleged Baldev Singh caught her by the neck and threatened to kill her and her son if she did not withdraw the case instituted by her against him (Baldev Singh) in a court.

Later when she along with her son went into the chamber of advocate Mithu Ram Gupta, Baldev along with others again threatened her, she said. Baldev denied the allegations. — TNS


An Abhiyan for Sarv Shiksha

Phalah Pind (Ajnala), September 11
In Punjab’s rural areas, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is contributing in improving capabilities in children via community-owned quality education. In a response to a demand for quality basic education, the SSA was started by the government.

“There is also another goal to bridge the social, regional and gender gaps with the active participation of the community in the management of schools,” said Davinder Kumar, a teacher. Besides helping poor children to get education, the SSA also provides financial assistance for their daily meals, books, school bags, school fee and for building classrooms in the schools.

Education for girls, especially those belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other minorities, is a principal concern of the SSA.

Amandeep Kaur, a resident of Phalah Pind, said: “I could have been deprived from the education if this system had not been introduced in our village.”

There are nearly 20,300 schools in the state where children are being provided free education under the programme. The aim of the SSA is to provide elementary education to all children in the 3-6 years age group and in the 6-14 years age group by 2010. — ANI


Teachers stage dharna

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 11
Teachers of Mata Gujri College (MGC) staged a dharna to protest the non-fulfilment of their demands, here today. Prof Dalbara Singh Sohi, president of the MGC unit of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) said the teachers struck work for four periods and raised slogans in support of their demands relating to pension and gratuity, withdrawal of the ban on fresh recruitments against covered posts, HRA for rural colleges, restoration of 95 pc grant-in-aid, etc.

He called upon the state government to meet their demands at the earliest and warned that if it was not done, the teachers would launch a state-wide agitation. — TNS


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