P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Ban on Non-basmati Export
Mandis to be closed for 2 days 
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, October 22
The stakeholders in the rice export trade, including farmers, commission agents and brokers, have decided to shut down the grain markets in this region in protest against the abrupt ban on the export of basmati rice in the country.

Backing the rice exporters, the Association of Kutcha, Pucca Arhtiyas and Brokers has decided to continue with the strike till the government relents and withdraws the order which has triggered a sharp drop in the rates of sharbati and PUSA 1121 varieties in this area.

President of the Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association Rajiv Setia today out pointed that the farmers who had switched over to these varieties in a major diversification programme in Punjab and Haryana and were reaping the economic benefits would now lose Rs 10, 000 to Rs 12,000 per acre due to the faulty policy of the central government. He said the government must review this anti-farmer policy and open the trade.

He addressed a series of meetings in Amritsar and Tarn Taran mandis to create awareness among various sections of the grain trade about the ramifications of this ban.

Setia felt that the government which had unleashed a series of economic liberalisation policies in the nineties was trying to bring back draconian measures to curb free trade by imposing these restrictions.

He said the exporters, with the efforts of APEDA and the Ministry of Commerce, had carved out new markets for this long grain fine quality rice in West Asia and Europe and they now stand cheated as these markets would be switching over to other sources to meet their requirements.


Firing Over Land Dispute
Cong jt secy claims he was not involved
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 22
The case against two Congress councillors for firing gun shots at AISAD supporters over a land dispute in the Jallianwala Bagh locality took a new turn here today with Congress state joint secretary Harpal Singh Bhatia, son of councillor Ajit Singh Bhatia, claiming that he was actually travelling in the Amritsar-bound Frontier Mail from Delhi when the incident took place.

Harpal said,“On getting a tip-off about the possibility of a clash, I called up the SSP from the train and asked him to take precautionary measures. My father and I have been framed in the case.” He produced photocopies of the train ticket, along with receipt of J.J. Hospital in Delhi, where he had stayed for the night.

One person had sustained bullet injuries in firing between Congress and SAD leaders over a house in the Jallianwala Bagh locality on October 20. A case has been registered against Harpal Singh Bhatia, Navdeep Goldy, who is a Congress councillor, besides 25 others for attempt to murder.

Harpal claimed that seat No. 22 of bogey No. S-7 had been booked in his name and his ticket No. was 62797. He further said his father was attending a function organised by the Navdurge Naujawan Sewak Sabha when the incident took place and pictures and video clips of the event could be produced as proof.

Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, SSP, said if Harpal was not present at the spot, he would be absolved during the course of the investigations. The police, he said, had arrested two persons and an Indica, believed to be of Goldy, had been found from 
the spot.

Police sources said while Congress councillors Goldy and Ajit were on one side and SAD leaders Satnam Singh Kanda and Bikramjit Singh Kanda were on the other. They reached the spot with their supporters and bullets were allegedly fired from both sides. Joginder Singh, a relative of Bikranjit Singh Kanda, was hit in the chest.


Land dispute: 2 cops hurt in stone-pelting
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 22
High drama was witnessed for almost five hours this morning when a man along with his wife climbed atop their house in Teh-Thika village, near Dhariwal, and exchanged stone-pelting with policemen, leaving two cops injured.

A sub-inspector and a constable sustained minor injuries in the stone-pelting.

The incident happened when a police party led by station house officer of Kalanaur Sukhdev Singh reached the village on a complaint of former sarpanch Gurmeet Singh for questioning Tarsem Singh, Joginder Singh and Gurdev Singh, over a land dispute.

According to villagers, Gurmeet Singh had allegedly raised walls on the disputed land on Saturday night. Tarsem Singh, Joginder Singh and Gurdev Singh, however, removed the construction on Sunday, which irked Gurmeet and he complained to the police against the three.

Eyewitnesses said Gurdev Singh and his wife climbed to the terrace of their house after noticing policemen at the main gate and started pelting stones on cops at about 9 am.

The cops also exchanged stones and the drama continued till 2 pm.

The station house officer brought the incident to the notice of the SSP, Gurdaspur, who asked SP(detective) BS Khaira to visit the site.

Accompanied with a heavy police force, the SP (D) and DSP (D) reached the spot and pacified the irate Gurdev Singh after one and a half hours.

Eyewitnesses revealed that armed with stones batons and other weapons, villagers, including women and children, came to the rescue of Gurdev Singh and cordoned off the police party that reached for the questioning of the man. Additional police force had to be called from Gurdaspur to bring the situation under control.

They alleged political rivalry behind the issue as Gurdev Singh had already obtained bail from a court, apprehending harassment by a political leader in power from the area.

BS Khaira claimed that Gurdev Singh, a nephew of Tarsem Singh and Joginder Singh, created ruckus for over four hours and was arrested and a case under Sections 307, 353 and 186 of the IPC registered against him.

He revealed that SI Gurcharan Singh and constable Sarwan Singh sustained minor injuries in the exchange of stones.


Ludhiana blast leaves Mary and Maxy stressed out 
Jupinderjit Singh

Ludhiana, October 22
Mary and Maxy, twin sisters of the Labrador breed and star canine detectives of the police dog sqaud, do not jump to action at the sound of approaching footsteps of their master.

Dogs being cared for: SSP

Sources revealed that the medical report by veterinary doctors has said Mary and Maxy have fallen sick due to overwork, SSP R K Jaiswal said due care of the dog squad is being taken. “These were the trying times not only for these two but for the entire force. The dog squad wing is taking special care of the dogs.”

Over 150 hours of forced work in the aftermath of the Shingaar cinema blast has taken a serious toll on their health, leaving them badly stressed, down with 102 degree fever and seriously fatigued.

Maxy has suffered an injury on her forelegs also. She walks with a limp.

White haired Mary and black beauty Maxy had to be hospitalised yesterday at PAU Veterinary Hospital. On being advised rest by doctors, they are resting in their individual cells in the Police Lines now.

As a result, the anti-bomb squad of the local police has been left to answer hoax bomb calls without the help of the canines. This has seriously handicapped the police work. Members of the anti-bomb squad run more risk in the absence of the canines.

The job of frequently climbing up and down the police van, innumerable searches of explosives at the railway station, bus stands, Ramlila grounds, Dussehra venue, markets, VIP route, VIP stages and answering dozens of hoax calls about abandoned bags and suitcases has left the duo seriously stressed.

But no one seems to bother. If the cries of the cops cribbing at 12 to 14 hours of VIP route duty does not reach anywhere, the deteriorating health of these two sniffer dogs, has no hope .

These are the unsung workers of the police dog squad. With only these two specialists available with the Ludhiana police for sniffing explosives, they have taken much on themselves after the blast. The vast pressure of work has not moved the authorities to bring more dogs.

As per the norms established for their good health and effective working, the dogs are supposed to rest for six hours after every two hours of work. But the Shingaar blast has changed everything for them leaving them badly fatigued and resulting in them turning their heads away at the call of the master.

The norms also require the dogs to have five minutes of rest after working for 20 minutes but this has remained a distant dream for Mary and Maxy. Born on June 3, 2006, both live in cells situated opposite each other.

Though they sleep on the floor, a wooden bed is kept in the cell. A trunk with the name of the dog is placed on the bed. In the trunk, the kit of the dogs is kept.


Earth Cave-in
SDO, JE suspended
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Kharar, October 22
Managing director of Punjab Sewerage Board Pradeep Chaudhary today suspended SDO Jaswant Singh and sewerage board JE Mohan Singh for their negligence in the October 19 earth cave-in incident that killed one labourer and left two injured. The accident took place in the evening when labourers were working on a sewerage line at Randhawa Road.

The Mohali XEN has also been instructed to immediately suspend the work supervisor. Shiv Kumar, the contractor, who was arrested on Sunday, has been

while talking to The Tribune, Chaudhary said the action had been taken following a preliminary inquiry conducted by the Chandigarh quality control cell, XEN K.C. Gupta and SDO K.K. Jindal, who visited the spot today.

Earlier, Jalandhar XEN M.L. Bansal conducted an inquiry and gave a clean chit to the JE and the SDO. Not convinced by the report, Chaudhary got another inquiry conducted.

“The preliminary inquiry has revealed that both the JE and the SDO were negligent in orderly executing the work. Lapses have been detected on their part,” he said. Chaudhary added that the contractors were supposed to make proper arrangements for power backup if work was on at night. “However, as soon as the earth caved in, there was power failure in the area, thus hampering the rescue operation,” he added.

When apprised that the rescue call to the Mohali fire department was cancelled on the pretext that a JCB machine had been summoned, Chaudhary said, “It is not wise to use JCB machines for rescue purposes as they can cause more harm to the person who is buried.”

He said the concerned XEN had been directed to file a charge sheet against the two officers in the next seven days. Thereafter, the SDO and the JE would be given 21 days to file a reply, after which a detailed inquiry would again be conducted. Meanwhile, Ropar SDO Rajinder Singh has been given additional charge of Mohali.


SAD, BJP ‘trust level’ should go up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The level of “trust” between the BJP and the SAD needs to be improved even as the BJP was committed to complete the full term of the present government and carry forward the alliance, said BJP’s Punjab in charge, Balbir Punj, while talking to The Tribune today.

Punj said the SAD was one of the oldest and most trusted allies of the BJP, yet he made it clear that it was no single-party government in Punjab and the SAD must realise this. It was for both the alliance partners to respect the “dharma of coalition” and the onus was not on the BJP alone, he added.

Meanwhile, president of the BJP’s Punjab unit Rajinder Bhandari said “we respect the advice of Badal as he was like the head of the family, however, our stand on the power tariff hike is justified and it needs to be resolved”. 


Seminar on job avenues
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 22
Prospective job seekers were made aware of various employment avenues at the mass counselling programme organised by the district employment generation and training department at MSD 
Senior Secondary Public School here.

Experts from different fields informed the students about the availability of forms for various competitive examinations and the techniques for its preparation. The students were also made aware of the benefits of vocational training and other job-oriented programmes.

Motivating the students to prepare for the armed forces and allied services, the speakers highlighted the advantages of technical studies, including the ITIs, polytechnic and home science courses.

Deputy director, employment, Harpal Singh said the seminar would provide a platform to students from rural areas who have the potential but are unaware of job avenues. He also emphasised the need to educate girls in order to make them self-reliant.

As many as 26,000 job seekers are already registered with the local employment exchange.


SGPC wakes up to declining sex ratio
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
The SGPC will soon release a book on the declining sex ratio in the state. Besides the book, literature on ills of female foeticide will also be published and distributed free of cost in all gurdwaras functioning under the SGPC.
As per the latest data, Sansarwal village in Patiala has a sex ratio of 438/1000, Churpur 464/1000, Dhughet 465/1000, Bosar Kalan 625/1000, Budhae Majra 611/1000, Babipur 528/1000, Sadarpur 550/1000, Shekhupur 467/1000, Ase Majra 608/1000, Khunti Chaura 556/1000, Dharaura Kalan 559/1000, Jalal Kher 563/1000, Dhareri Jalan 584/1000, Dhoni Majra 636/1000, Baramhpura 567/1000, Malomajra 583/1000, Mahmoolpur 586/1000, Ramgarh 608/1000, Butan Singh Wala 600/1000 and Bohpur 605/1000.

Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti has given the task of penning the said literature to Harshinder Kaur, who has been working in the area for the past more than five years.

He was here to release her book on child psychology. The book was released by the jathedar in the presence of Punjabi scholar Pritam Singh.

Harshinder said the jathedar was moved by the latest statistics regarding the declining sex ratio, especially in the 0-6 age group in the state. Besides foeticide and infanticide, the single-child norm being adopted by Punjabi families was one major reason for the declining sex ratio. Families in the state are increasingly opting for single child in which the male child is the obvious preference.

“The jathedar immediately told me to pen down a book on the dangers posed by the declining sex ratio in the state. He also said the matter would be discussed with other Sikh high priests and the clergy could consider issuing a hukamnama on the issue, she said.

The message from the highest seat of Sikh religion, Akal Takht, can make a considerable difference in changing the attitude of people towards girl child, she said and added that the latest figures released by the health survey of the state have made Patiala as the district having the lowest sex ratio in the state. The villages extending from Rajpura to Patran have been found to be having about an average sex ratio of just 600 per 1000 men, which could be the lowest in the country.

As per the 2001 census, Fatehgarh Sahib district had the minimum sex ratio of just 754/1000 while Patiala had 870 females per thousand males. However, as per the latest one Patiala seems to have surpassed every district in terms of the declining sex ratio.


Ex-communicate Sarnas: SGPC
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, October 22
The Sarna brothers from the Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGPC) have wrongly exported Birs of Guru Granth Sahib along with garments to Dubai.

The interim committee of the SGPC has condemned the brothers for this move, after conducting an inquiry into the episode. It has decided to appeal to Akal Takht to oust the Sarna brothers from Sikhism for bringing insult to the sacred Birs.

The interim committee met here today. SGPC president Avtar Singh said secretary Dalmegh Singh conducted an inquiry into the episode and found that the Sarna brothers had exported around 100 Birs along with garments from the Mumbai port.

Acting upon a request sent by Sikh inmates at Delhi’s Tihar Jail, the committee commissioned the issuance of infrastructure for celebrating four main occasions: the birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev and Baisakhi.

The committee decided that similar facilities would be extended to all inmates languishing in various jails.

Taking a serious note of the incidence of over two dozen Birs getting burnt in a short-circuit fire in the Nathana block of Bathinda, the SGPC has appointed a five-member inquiry committee. The committee will look into the matter as to why so many Birs were stored in a small gurdwara.

It also decided that copies of Guru Granth Sahib will be available only at SGPC-authorised shops and at the literature house of the gurdwara notified under Section 85 of the SGPC rules. The committee will soon place orders to buy two machines for coloured printing of Guru Granth Sahib from Germany at the cost of Rs 4.5 crore each.


Rs 1 lakh for giving blast info
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
The city police has announced a cash award of Rs 1 lakh for any person giving concrete information about the persons behind the Shingaar cinema blast.

Announcing the award today, SSP R. K. Jaiswal said the information must be exact and authentic. It could be given to him directly at his cell phone (98158-00402) or at his office number (0161-2414903). The other numbers for giving information are SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh, (98158-00405), DSP -Detective (0161-2414954).

The SSP has warned the callers to refrain from making hoax calls. He said some people have been disturbing the police since the Shingaar bomb blasts by making hoax calls. Such persons would be taken to task now as sufficient warnings have been issued.

Meanwhile, the police carried out a massive house-to-house search operation in Basti Joidhewal areas, especially in labour and migrant colonies. It took record of strangers and outsiders who had frequented the city.


We are against killings: Babbars

Amritsar, October 22
Babbar Khalsa International here today sought to clarify that it was not involved in the blast at the Shringaar cinema in Ludhiana. This was stated by chief of the organisation Wadhawa Singh.— TNS


Delay in plant: PSEB to seek compensation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, October 22
Unhappy over delay in commissioning two units (stage II) of the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant, the Punjab Government as well as the Punjab State Electricity Board(PSEB) has decided to seek compensation from the BHEL, which was given a contract.

Sources said the state government and the PSEB would soon issue a notice in this regard to the BHEL. “we have already conveyed to the BHEL authorities that the PSEB had suffered a loss worth several crores because of delay in the commissioning of the two units-each of 250 MW- of stage II of the plant,” said a senior officer.

“We would like to recover this loss from the BHEL,” said a senior officer of the state government.

Sources said that the BHEL authorities were conveyed the unhappiness of the state government during a visit to the plant by the chairman of the PSEB, Y. S. Ratra, and principal secretary, Power, Suresh Kumar.

The first unit of stage II was to be commissioned for commercial generation of power by December 31, 2006 and the second by March 31,2007. However, till date even the first unit has not been completed.

Sources said today that the boiler of the first unit of stage II was fired by the authorities concerned for testing. It would take at least two months more to start the commercial generation by the first unit, sources added. The second unit would not be ready till June 2008, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has asked the Union Power Ministry to allocate 15 per cent power to the state from the central quota.


Delhi HC admits Punjab’s plea 
State challenged water tribunal’s resetting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice Tirath Kumar Thakur and Justice Veena Raj Birbal today admitted a writ petition filed by Punjab challenging the constitutional validity of the Ravi-Beas Water Disputes Tribunal’s reconstitution vide a notification dated June 10, 2003, under the provisions of the Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act, 1956.

Information made available by the office of Punjab advocate-general Hardev Singh Mattewal says: “In the petition, the state of Punjab has also sought a writ against the Government of India for publishing an award dated January 30, 1987, under Section 6 of the “Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act, 1956”, on ground that it had lost its relevance under the changed circumstances, which included decrease in the available water and decline in the ground water level.

The state’s contention is that the publication of award after 17 years is untenable in law. The opposite side was represented by the states of Haryana and Rajasthan.

The tribunal, headed by Justice V.B. Eradi, was constituted by the Central government for adjudicating the issues arising from “paras 9.1 and 9.2” of the Punjab Settlement of 1985. On January 30, 1987, the tribunal passed its award under section “5 (2) of the Inter-State River Waters disputes Act, 1956”. However, all states, party to the matter, including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, filed petitions in 1987 only seeking clarification or explanation under “section 5 (3) of the Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act, 1956”.

These petitions have been pending before the tribunal since then. In the meantime, Justice Ahmadi, a member of the tribunal, was elevated to the Supreme Court. The vacancy was, subsequently, filed by the appointment of Justice B.C. Bannerji. He was also later elevated to the Supreme Court.

The Centre, vide notification dated January 10, 2003, appointed Justice Iqbal of the Jharkhand High Court to fill the vacancy. Mattewal said ever since the Akali-BJP combine took over the reigns all-out efforts were being made to protect the interests of the state on the “water front”. The state had already challenged the provisions of the 1978-79 Punjab Re-organisation Act, along with the Hansi-Bhutana project. The Chief Minister too had issued strict instructions against laxity of any sort in the water matter. 


Remand of Virk, Dimpy extended

Ropar, October 22
The judicial remand of former DGP Punjab Sarabdeep Singh Virk and Congress leader Vijay Pal Singh Dimpy has been extended to November 5. The court of district session Rekha Mittal passed these orders today.

On October 8, the court had rejected their bail application and observed that Virk had not been in police custody till then. — TNS


14-day remand for scribes

Nabha, October 22
Two electronic media reporters arrested by the city police on the charges of extortion and blackmailing were today sent on 14-day judicial remand after the completion of one-day police remand.

Standard TV reporter Narinder Johar and Time TV cameraman Ravinder Khippal were arrested on Saturday. Their accomplice Harbhajan Singh Bindra, reporter Time TV, and Jarnail Singh, cameraman Standard World, are still at large.

SHO, Nabha, Gurinder Bal said apart from the extorted amount, identity cards, cameras and cassettes used in the crime had been recovered. — OC


Trident Issue
Farmer unions threaten to go all out

Sangrur, October 22
Annoyed with the Badal Government over its dilly-dallying tactics in the implementation of government-farmer agreement regarding enhanced compensation to farmers of Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages, three farmer organisations will hold a joint meeting in a week to chalk out the future programme.

General secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan) Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan today claimed that the Badal government’s intentions were not clear regarding the implementation of the agreement. He said as the issue had been lingering for a long time, they would now fight a decisive battle, for which these three organisations had been holding separate meetings. — TNS


Biodynamic farming is the new mantra
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Daburji (Rupnagar), October 22
As Jaspal Singh Chattha, a farmer from Musewal village, near Nakodar, rattles off factors leading to increasing input cost of production in organic farming, he stumbles upon a rather sophisticated term “biodynamic farming”, a step ahead of organic farming.

“I have been practising biodynamic farming for the past three years on my 30 acres and results have been excellent. Not only the natural vegetation seems to have grown in my fields, I have more avian and mammalian guests, coupled with various kinds of organisms,” said Jaspal, a faculty of prestigious SUPA Agriculture Research Group, Nainital.

He added organic farming is the need of the hour, but farmers cannot do it all alone. They need guidance and resources to adopt organic farming. “First, the Punjab government needs to realise the quantum of problem the overuse of pesticides has created, leaving soil bereft of nutrition and increasing cost of inputs for farmers.” He opined that states like Maharashtra and Uttarakhand were more sensitive towards overuse of pesticides than Punjab. “It’s much due to the fact that we have less literate politicians and that too with rigid mindset. Since the literacy rate is less, the lesser things percolate down as policies for the masses,” he added.

He appreciated a few NGOs working towards organic farming and sensitising the farming community against non-judicious use of fertilisers and pesticides. The government should awake from its slumber before Punjab starts having patches like Kohlapur, where 40,000 acres lies barren. Not even a single sprig of grass grows there, he added.

Chattha said the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, was more into propagating use of chemicals, rather than teaching farmers the basics of agriculture and encouraging them to go back on ancient farming methods.

During his visit to Daburji Jaspal gave tips to farmers on efficient farming. He said small farmers need not burn paddy stubble and instead should root out the same manually. Or the Punjab government could form cooperative at the village or cluster level and give them a machine to weed out stubble. It could be run on a rotation basis. 


Exorcist beats woman to death
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 22
Balwinder Kaur (45), of Dasmesh Nagar here, was allegedly beaten to death by witch doctor Sukhi Bazigar and his wife Soma, besides Sukhdev Singh, husband of the deceased.

DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said today evening Sukhi, Soma and Sukhdev Singh had beaten Balwinder Kaur up with a “chimta” ( iron fire tongs) and a “ghotna” (wooden club) previous night on the pretext that she was under an evil spirit’s spell. Due to this she died early in the morning today, he added.

The DSP added the police had arrested Sukhdev Singh while Sukhi Bazigar and his wife Soma were absconding. The police has registered a case against them under Sections 304 and 201 of the IPC.


BJP leader, sons booked for murder
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 22
The police has registered a case against a senior BJP activist, his sons and seven others in connection with the murder of a farmer, sources said this evening.

According to a complaint lodged by Kamla Rani of Dhaani Heera Wali, near Waryamkhera village, in this subdivision, car-borne miscreants accosted her husband Madan Lal on Saturday evening near Jhurarkhera village as he was returning home after picking “narma” at Chak Sherawala village. The miscreants, who were carrying sharp-edged weapons, chased him as he tried to escape in the nearby cotton fields. After attacking her husband, they left the spot assuming him dead.

Madan Lal was admitted to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here at night.

The family even alleged that the doctors did not give proper treatment to Madan who later died due to excessive discharge of blood.

An FIR has been registered under Sections 302, 342, 148 and 149 of the IPC against the alleged attackers, including Shiv Kumar Bhadoo, his sons Parveen and Narender and three residents of Rampura village of Tibbi subdivision, Hanumangarh district. No arrest could be made, the sources added.


VAT Evasion
2 excise men among 11 held 
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 22
The district police has arrested 11 persons for having evaded VAT to the tune of Rs 200 crore. They were arrested after the assistant excise and taxation commissioner (AETC) filed a complaint against them.

The Mandi Gobindgarh police registered a case against industrialist Suresh Kumar. Police sources said during interrogation, Suresh Kumar named other persons believed to be involved in the case. It was alleged that Suresh Kumar's firm was sending goods to other states, but not paying VAT. The firm reportedly evaded payment of Rs 10.13 crore by showing fake entries.

The matter was reported to the excise and taxation department,a team of officials raided the firm and it was found that bogus entries were indeed being made by the firm. The matter was reported to the police, which started investigations.

The police then arrested Subhash Chander, Rakesh Modi, Gurjit Singh , both residents of Mandi Gobindgarh, Ravi Inder, Satwant Singh, both residents of Doombali (Bathinda), Vajir Ali Khan, a resident of Bathinda, Varinder Singh, a resident of Muktsar and Rajwinder Singh, a resident of Ropar.

Two officials of the excise and taxation department Subhash Chander, a resident of Khanna, and Karamjit Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, were also arrested.

The two were earlier posted at the Information Collection Centre (ICC) at Balongi and would help the accused transport goods without paying tax. Subhash Chander was suspended by the department in another case.

The arrested were produced before a local court and sent to judicial custody till October 31.


‘Education agents’ fleece
Charge consultation, 1-yr fee in advance
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
Much hue and cry is being made about the travel agents duping Punjabi youths on the pretext of sending them abroad. However, no attention is being paid to the foreign and Indian agents who are working without any regulation for admitting students to foreign universities.

A survey by The Tribune revealed that the agents working in the field of education are charging varied amounts from students taking admissions in universities in Australia, Canada or Europe in the name of consultation fee. They are charging amounts ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 30,000 as consultation fee. In addition many agents are forcing the students to pay one year fee in advance, which is against rules even in foreign countries.

Most of Indian agents sending students abroad are working as registered companies. They are at least paying taxes as per company law and employing Indians in their offices here. However, the foreign agents are not paying any taxes as their companies are not registered in India and payments to them are made by foreign universities at their offices there. Such companies are allegedly violating the foreign trade regulations and evading the taxes they are liable to pay on their earning for operations in India.

No Indian agent on the contrary can open office in any foreign country without undergoing the laid rules and regulations there.

Sources available here said foreign agents had opened offices in India on the pretext that they are extension counters of foreign universities. Since education is a non-profitable business in India, the universities do not have to pay any tax for admitting the students.

However, the foreign agents admitting Indian students here are working in individual capacity or in the form of foreign companies and are making handsome profits. While they are paying taxes in foreign countries, nothing is being paid to Indian government, despite the fact that they are making huge profits from the Indian students.

As per rough estimates the India students are spending Rs 2,000 crore per annum in Australia alone for getting education in universities there. The basic motivating factor forcing Indian students to opt for foreign universities is a chance to settle there.

Sources in the sector said the government should regulate the business of sending students to foreign countries. This would not only be beneficial for the students but also lead to tax earnings for the government. Higher education might be non-profitable as per the Indian law but for foreign universities admitting Indian students it is a profitable venture.

Division commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia said operations of foreign universities in the state were not regulated. “However, in my opinion there should be some regulation”, he added. The other officials of the district administration were also not aware about any regulation on agents working on behalf of foreign universities.

Vice-chancellor of Punjabi University Swarn Singh Boparai was for least regulations in the field. He said at a recent conference of VCs at the national level, he, in fact, had urged the Union Human Resources Ministry to provide level-playing field to the Indian universities in foreign countries. The Indian universities should be allowed to expand their horizons beyond their restricted boundaries.

Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board said proper regulation should be there to maintain quality of education and prevent exploitation of students.


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