P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Power cuts imposed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
A severe shortfall in hydel power generation due to inadequate melting of snow in the higher reaches as well as insufficient rain has created a demand-supply gap in Punjab and forced the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to impose power cuts in both urban and rural areas.

The board has officially imposed a power cut of five hours in villages, four-and-a-half hours in small towns, four hours at district headquarters and three-and-a-half hours in major cities.

The generation has fallen by as much as 200 lakh units (LU) per day which translates into a daily loss of around 800 MW. Against a production of 360 LUs per day from the hydel projects in the state at the same time last year, the board is presently drawing only 150 LUs.

Board sources said the water supply in the three major dams from which it draws power has gone down considerably in the last month or so.

They said presently, the water level at Bhakra Dam was 1517 ft, while on the same date last year, it was 1575 ft. Similarly, at Pong Dam the water level has come down to 1292 ft from 1350 ft during the same period last year. At Ranjit Sagar Dam, the level has gone down to 500 m from 518 m last year.

The reduced hydel power generation has also resulted in a downward spiral in the combined grid frequency ensuring that the board cannot overdraw from the grid in times of need. It has also forced the board to go in for power cuts.

Sources said the board’s resources are already stretched out. Thermal generation, which cannot be increased any further presently, is already witnessing problems with the units in Ropar tripping.

Two units at Bathinda are closed - one for maintenance and the other due to leakage in its boiler. However, once these units become operational, the board is scheduled to close down Unit No. 2 at Ropar for maintenance.

So, there will not be much increase in outage from thermal plants in the coming days. The board is also presently receiving only 25 LUs of power every day as part of the power banking arrangements with other states, including HP, WB and the North-East.


Punjabi set to be made mandatory
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Punjabi will be official language of all subordinate courts at the district, sub-divisional and other levels.

And its use will also be mandatory not only in government and semi-government institutions but also in the private organisations.

The Punjab Education and Languages Department, which has devised a two-pronged strategy to enforce Punjabi in various spheres of administration and non-administrative activity, has proposed amendments in the Punjab Official Language Act and also to enact a separate new Act - The Punjab State Learning of Languages Act.

It will be enforced to make the teaching of Punjabi mandatory in all schools up to class X and Hindi from class III to VIII in the state.

There will be a state-level authority to enforce and monitor the use of Punjabi language in administrative and non-administrative areas of activity besides schools. The authority will be empowered to take action against those violating the provisions of the laws to be framed in this regard.

At present, one can file a case in Punjabi in various subordinate courts in the state but it is not mandatory.

However, with the enforcing of the Punjab Official Languages (Amended) Act, the use of Punjabi in these courts would become mandatory.

The use of Punjabi in private organisations will certainly be a new development. Sources said the use of Punjabi on all sign boards, milestones etc would be mandatory after the enforcing of the amended Act.

A provision of disciplinary action had been proposed for failure to use Punjabi in official dealings in various government departments and other organisations concerned.

As far as enforcing the teaching of Punjabi in public schools and other educational institutions affiliated to the CBSE was concerned, the authorities concerned have proposed a fine up to Rs 20 lakh in case of failure to teach Punjabi and Hindi.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education and languages minister, is spearheading the move to enforce Punjabi at various levels at the earliest.

The sources said in case of first complaint with regard to violation of the Act, the school concerned would be fined up to Rs 2 lakh.

For the second violation, the fine would be up to Rs 5 lakh and for next violation, the fine will be up to Rs 8 lakh. It could be up to Rs 20 lakh for further violations.

However, after four violations, the state government would have the power to close the school. The sources said the teaching of Hindi would be mandatory up to class VIII, but it could be taught up to class X.

However, the teaching of Punjabi will not be mandatory in the college and university level. However, any university can make its teaching mandatory, as has been done by Punjabi University, up to degree level, especially in the humanities stream.


Badal writes to PM seeking help for industry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has sought the personal intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for imposing a ban on forward trading in steel, besides scraping import duty on the import of scrap to save Punjab’s industry.

In his appeal to the Prime Minister, Badal has also demanded a 25 per cent cess on the export of basic iron or steel.

In his letter, Badal urged the Prime Minister to declare iron ore as national heritage as this product and its stocks were limited. He said the setting up of a regulatory commission would be a right step to resolve all issues relating to steel prices.

Punjab has a large number of small-scale industrial (SSI) units and is one of the largest consumers of steel.

The units are engaged in the production of cycle parts, machine tools, hand tools auto parts etc.

Badal has pointed out that the representatives of industries have brought to his notice that the main producers of steel like the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd (TISCO) and Rashtrya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) raise prices of steel arbitrarily and at frequent intervals, which are adversely affecting growth of industries in Punjab.

The Chief Minister referred to the demands raised by legislators from various political parties in the last session of the Punjab Assembly and said since Punjab was a border state and had a locational disadvantage with regard to steel plants, the steel units in the state had to pay higher freight charges, as compared to other states.

Resultantly, the SSI units of Punjab could not compete in the market. Therefore, these units required a special rebate on steel from main producers.


US company to help light streets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
A United States company, Econoler International, is all set to light the streets of municipal areas of Punjab.

Leon Biaou, managing director of the company today held a meeting with Bikram Singh Majithia, Science, Technology and Environment minister, to explain the conceptual plan of the company to provide energy-efficient street lights.

He said his company had already successfully completed the self-financing energy efficient street light projects for Indore and Ujjain that resulted in annual power saving of 35 per cent, recovering the cost of project within three years.

Biaou explained to the minister that the company would suggest the latest technology to the municipal corporations and Punjab would not have to spend a single penny in upgrading the street light infrastructure.

He said energy-saving companies would bid for every MC and recover the cost of the project from the energy saved by the new lighting system.

Appreciating the novel project, Majithia said the Science and Technology Department would facilitate the project and coordinate with the Local Government Department for the successful execution of this project.

He said a team of the two departments would visit Indore and Ujjain to study the operational success of this project.

Prominent among those who participated in the meeting included A.S. Chhatwal, secretary, Science and Technology, and T.P.S. Sidhu, CEO, PEDA.


Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti Poll
SAD leaders give lists of probables for Patiala dist
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The SAD gets into poll gear in Patiala district with top leaders of the area, including MLAs and a former MP, backing their supporters for all 21 zila parishad and 168 panchayat samiti seats of the district in front of the SAD’s Patiala in charge, Bibi Jagir Kaur.

The elections are scheduled for May 12 in the state. Top leaders of the district, including cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Surjit Singh Garhi, Raja Narinder Singh, Hamir Singh Ghagha, Hardev Singh and Surjit Singh Garhi held discussions with Bibi Jagir Kaur here today.

They also handed over the lists of probable candidates from their respective constituencies and areas of influence to her. She said she would hand over these recommendations to SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, who was the final authority.

Sukhbir reportedly was keen to ensure that his party fought the poll in a well-planned manner, particularly in Patiala, so as to further break the ‘citadel’ of Amarinder Singh.

The lists supplied by each of the top Akali leader for each seat had three to five names and most of these probable candidates were those workers and leaders who were considered to be close to top leaders. Bibi Jagir Kaur, however, did not reveal the names.

Constituencies like Banur, Rajpura and Ghanaur are likely to witness an interesting war of supremacy. If Capt Kanwaljit Singh is interested in getting his men selected as candidates in Rajpura and Banur, Chandumajra is said to be keen on seats falling in the Rajpura area. Patiala district has two SAD-BJP MLAs - Capt Kanwaljit Singh from Banur and Raj Khurana (BJP) from Rajpura.

Madan Lal, an Independent MLA supported by the SAD, represented the Ghanaur Assembly segment. Interestingly, he has reportedly decleared that he will put up his own candidates.


Cong appoints dist in charges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PPCC chief, today appointed senior leaders of the level of vice-president and general secretary as in charge of each district of the state for the ensuing zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections.

In charge of each district has been entrusted with the job of holding parleys in their respective areas of operation for allotment of party symbols to the contestants. Besides, the senior leaders would also talk to local leaders in this regard.

Chief spokesman of the PPCC Bir Devinder Singh said the following office-bearers had been appointed as in charge of different districts of Punjab: Amritsar (Mohinder Singh Kay Pee, working president, PPCC), Tarn Taran (Malkiat Singh Dakha, ex-minister), Jalandhar (Tej Parkash Singh, MLA), Kapurthala (Amarjit Singh Samra, MLA), Ludhiana (Lal Singh, MLA), Patiala (Sardul Singh, ex-minister), Sangrur (Avtar Singh Brar, MLA), Moga (Vijay Khullar, vice-president, PPCC), Fatehgarh Sahib (Brahm Mohindra, MLA), Nawanshahr (Gurbinder Singh Atwal, ex-MLA), Muktsar (Bal Mukand Sharma, former minister), Faridkot (Avtar Henry, ex-minister), Bathinda (Kewal Singh Dhillon, MLA), Ferozepur (Gurchet Singh Bhullar, ex-minister), Barnala (Harminder Singh Jassi, MLA), Mansa (Upender Sharma, ex-minister), Hoshiarpur (Pratap Singh Bajwa, MLA), Ropar (Harnam Dass Johar, ex-minister), Gurdaspur (K.K. Nanda, general secretary, PPCC), Mohali (Darbari Lal, ex-deputy Speaker)

Bir Devinder Singh added that the presidents of the district Congress committees had been directed to hold meetings of committees comprising MLAs, ex-MLAs, block Congress presidents and district heads of frontal organisations and submit their final recommendation through the district in charge by April 27 to the president, PPCC.


Poll panel asked for Rs 4 cr: Ex-MLA
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
Former Congress MLA Harjinder Singh Thekedar today announced withdrawal from the race of ticket seekers of the Congress for the forthcoming Amritsar (South) byelection scheduled for May 22.

Thekedar today alleged that members of the election committee, including a former minister, had laid the condition of giving party funds to the tune of Rs 4 crore for getting party ticket.

However, Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, termed the
allegations as baseless.

Meanwhile, party sources said the party ticket was likely to be allocated to Navdip Singh Goldi, a municipal councillor.

Among others who are in the race included Manjinder Singh Heera, former chairman of the Improvement Trust, Ashani Pappu, Narinder Singh Walia and Rajwant Kaur.


‘Kidnapper’ of minor girl dies in police custody
Judicial probe ordered
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
Mystery shrouds the death of 20-year-old Jagtar Singh in the Chowk Mehta police lockup today.

Jagtar Singh was brought to the police station on a complaint lodged by Raman Kumar, a resident of the same town, that his minor daughter was kidnapped by four accused, including Jagtar Singh.

However, after four hours of his arrest, he was found hanging from the roof of the lockup with a torn blanket.

The agitated relatives and friends of the deceased staged a massive dharna in front of the police station causing traffic jam.

SDM, Baba Bakala, Rajinder Paul Singh and senior police officers rushed to the police station on hearing the death of the youth.

A press statement, issued by Iqbal Singh, district police chief (Rural), said judicial probe had been ordered.

The relatives of the deceased also tried to stop the police from carrying the body to Amritsar for post-mortem.

Talking to The Tribune, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a former Congress MLA, however, sought the registration of a murder case against Harjit Singh Bajwa, SHO, Chowk Mehta.

He alleged that the youth was tortured to death in police custody. The former MLA further alleged that the SHO was also involved in a number of torture cases.

The Congress leaders alleged that the youth was tortured at behest of an Akali leader who is close to the family of the kidnapped girl.

A press statement, issued by the Police Department, however, alleged that the four youths started threatening the parents of the minor girl who was kidnapped. However, the girl has been handed over to the parents.


Stage set for biggest job fest of region
25,000 students to try luck
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
The stage is all set for the biggest job fest of the region in which 25,000 engineering and IT students from North India will try their luck in the one-of-its-kind campus placement.

Being organised by the Rayat and Bahra Group of Institutes, the three-day fest will start on May 2 at the institute campus at Sahauran village, near Chandigarh.

It is being conducted in association with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) through its nationally accepted and rated NAC-TEST, a national assessment and certification programme recognised and valued by all leading MNCs and top notch companies in the corporate world.

Gurvinder Singh Bahra, vice-chairman of the group, informed that the group's effort to provide platform to unemployed IT and engineering students of the region and showcase the talent before 150 companies was their largest endeavour so far.

An estimated 25,000 students will be examined and scrutinized over three days for on-the-spot job offers. As many as 1,200 students over the past six months have landed jobs in campus interviews.

Students of MBA, BTech, MCA, MFC, MBE, MCom, MSc, BBA, BCom, BCA, BSc, BA, polytechnic and ITI can appear for the interviews.

Special efforts are afoot for plus II students. Also BE, BTech and MCA passouts of 2007, 2008 and BE and BTech batches passing out in 2009 will also be eligible for the interviews. About 2,000 NAC-Tech certified engineers passing in 2009 will be available for placement from May 3 this year as well, he pointed out.

Elaborate arrangements have been made for hundreds of representatives and officials of various companies even as every effort is being done to ensure a smooth and hassle-free round of interviews.

Gurvinder said their group was setting up an education city in Hoshiarpur which would have a number of institutes, including two engineering colleges, one for girls and the other co-ed, a dedicated nano technology campus, college of pharmacy, management and education.

Gurvinder also shared plans for the expansion of Mohali and Ropar campuses that would see more courses and more seats in various streams in the coming session.

He further added that a medical city on the Delhi-Kundli border was next in the scheme of things.


Pay Commission
Term of reference to financial situation irks staff
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Bodies of government employees have taken a serious note of the terms of reference of the Sixth Punjab Pay Commission that has invited comments and representations from employees.

The commission has asked the organisations to submit their views and representations by May 15.

One of the terms of reference says the commission will have to take into consideration the financial condition of the state while making recommendations to the state government on the revision in pay scales, allowances etc.

Under that term, the commission has been asked to suggest cap on expenditure on salaries, wages and pensions as a percentage of revenue receipts of the state.

While doing so new staffing structures and norms are also to be suggested to the government by the pay panel. Employees have not liked the mention of the financial condition in the terms of reference.

Objecting to this reference, Oma Kant Tiwari, president, Punjab Non-Gazetted and Gazetted Employees Organisation, opposed this rider to the commission by the state government. It had defeated the purpose of setting up the commission, he added.

Employees were not responsible for the existing financial condition of the state. It was for the state government to see ways to improve financial condition of the state, but not by denying employees their due.

Tiwari said the government had enough money to buy luxury cars and provide facilities to top administrative set -up, it should have not problem in paying better pay to its employees.

He said Punjab had always been providing better pay scales to its employees compared to other states and it should stick to that practice.

He said the pay commission should take into account the rise in the price index since 1996 to decide the new pay package for various government employees.

The buying power of money had gone down in the past few years and the basic necessities of life, including education of kids, health services and transport, had become costly manifold in the past 10 years.

The pay commission should collect data in this regard to base its pay package on that, he added.


Stone-crushing units shut down in protest
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 25
The state government move not to grant monthly extension in contracts to owners of stone-crushing units for quarrying at various riverbeds has put thousands of families in a quandary.

These families in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepur districts are directly and indirectly associated with this industry. The worst affected are the families of Gurdaspur since the district has a maximum number of stone crushers that have been fulfilling the requirement of the northern states.

Up in arms against the state government, the members of the Gurdaspur Stone Crushers Union today held an emergency meeting in Pathankot and decided to shut down their units from 6 pm.

The union members have also decided not to sell their material till further decision. Sources said the government had decided not to grant extension to the contractors for quarrying.

The decision was taken by the Department of Local Government after it failed to auction the quarry sites at various riverbeds in these districts last month.

The extension date had lapsed on March 31 and the bidders had failed to come to the bid due to the ongoing litigations over quarrying.

Talking to The Tribune, Vijay Passi, state president of the Stone Crushing Unions, said the government should either grant them extension for quarrying or follow policies implemented by the Himachal Pradesh government on the stone-crushing industry.

"We would rather be happy if the government fixes maximum limit for charging royalty on per ton basis or sets up its own barriers for collecting charges," added Ashok Mehta, general secretary of the union.

A delegation of the union members would meet Manoranjan Kalia, minister, Department of Local Government, and take up the issue with him. The union would decide the next course of action after that, he said.

Surinder Kumar, owner of a stone crusher, claimed that the government should motivate stone crushers and help revive the industry rather than 'snatch' the livelihood from people associated with the industry.


PSHRC comes to the aid of rape-bid victim
Police arrests accused
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
Coming to the rescue of the victim of an attempt to rape in a moving bus that had sent shock waves in the state, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the state government and the SSP, Ludhiana, to submit a status report of investigation in the case.

Action follows in the wake of a newsreport carried in these columns yesterday highlighting the plight of the accused who was being presurised by the police and the accused to effect a compromise.

The commission, while taking congnizance of The Tribune report stated that it was a case of violation of human rights, especially of the weaker sex, if the allegations were correct prima facie.

''She is craving for justice as her rights relating to life and dignity have been violated, as a result she might be leading a life under trauma which is certainly a violation of her rights to life and dignity,'' remarked the commission.

At the same time it hoped that the investigation would be taken to its logical end without being influenced by any pressure or other considerations and the culprit be brought to book in accordance with law. The case comes up for hearing on May 28.


Brick-kiln workers gherao DC office
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 25
Activists and members of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union (LJPBMU) and other organisations today gheraoed the office of the deputy commissioner (DC) here for more than two hours and staged a dharna there in support of their demands.

They were demanding increase in their wages according to rise in the price index and arrest of three brick-kiln owners for allegedly kidnapping district general secretary of the CPI (ML) Liberation Harbhagwan Bhikhi and vice-president of the LJPBMU Gurpreet Singh Rooreke.

After the gherao of the office of the DC, they started march towards the office of SSP Arun Pal Singh in the Police Lines here for getting the three brick-kiln owners and two other persons arrested, but they blocked road near fire brigade office for about 15 minutes.

They lifted the blockade when an assurance was given to them that a meeting between their leaders and the SSP would be arranged.


Book on intoxicants, an eye-opener
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 25
Punjabi writer and project director of the local Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre Mohan Sharma has made an effort to open the eyes of people against the social evil of the use of intoxicants in a big way.

Expressing concern over the rampant use, especially by youth of the state, he has published a book, “Nashian ’ch Rurda Punjab”, on intoxicants in Punjabi language this month. The book is yet to be released.

In other words, the main thesis of his book is that Punjab is in the grip of intoxicants nowadays, so there is a dire need to save it from converting it into a river of intoxicants, in place of Punj Aab (five rivers).

In his book Sharma has even mentioned about the indulging of police personnel in the intoxicants trade, besides the use of intoxicants by policemen themselves as a habit.


Suspend tainted bureaucrats: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann today called for suspending all bureaucrats whose names have figured in the list submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.

In a statement here, Mann said the bureaucrats should also be kept away from performing administrative duties till such a time they were cleared.

He also appealed to the Union Cabinet secretary to hold a thorough inquiry
into their wrongdoings.


Agro-processing units resent hike in taxes
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
Piqued over the hike in infrastructural development fee by the state government, the Punjab Rice and Millers and Exporters Association has said this will jack up the rate of essential commodities and foodgrains in the state.

The Punjab government through its public notice, which was released in various newspapers, has raised the infrastructure fee under the Punjab Infrastructure Development and Regulation Act, 2002, from 1 per cent to 2 per cent on commodities specified in the schedule with effect from April 1.

A senior functionary of the association K.R.S. Sobti told The Tribune that state had imposed the highest rate of taxes on agricultural commodities to the extent of 12.5 per cent while in Haryana, the taxes were lower than Punjab.

He said this raise would further give spur to inflation and foodgrains would become costlier. He said that the state government must immediately review the taxation proposal and withdraw the public notice with immediate effect to save the food processing industry in the state.

Sobti said the rate of taxation in Punjab on foodgrains included 4 per cent purchase tax, 4 per cent rural development fund along with market fee and now the two per cent infrastructure cess.

This would account for significant levies which would burden the industry in the state which was already reeling under various economic pressures.

He strongly advocated that the government must abolish VAT to bring down prices, thus giving major relief to the common man and the food processing industry.


Resignation of Sikh Warden
SGPC writes to PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 25
Taking serious view of the incident in which a Sikh serving as a traffic warden in Pakistan resigned from his post, the SGPC has sent a missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart.

The letter written by SGPC president Avtar Singh criticised the Government of Pakistan for showing callous attitude.

He urged the Prime Minister to use his good offices to prevail upon the Government of Pakistan to not accept his resignation.

Gulab Singh had claimed that he was not being treated on a par with his colleagues due to his being a non-Muslim. He said his colleagues made fun of his religion while his seniors did not take the issue seriously.


High Court
Plea to increase retirement age
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Disposing a petition for raising the retirement age of Punjab government employees from 58 to 60 in sync with the Union Government policy, Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh asked the authorities concerned to take expeditious decision on a representation in this regard.

The Judges ruled the matter strictly fell within the domain of the state government. A public interest litigation in the matter was filed by federation of state government departments employees.

Pherurai case

A special Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Vijender Jain on Friday directed the summoning of witnesses, who had resiled from their earlier statements made in connection with the recovery of fake currency from Ferozepore’s former district police chief Gurcharan Singh Pherurai.

It had eventually led to his acquittal by the special judge, Ambala, where the case had been transferred from Punjab. The matter is before the court after suo moto notice by Justice Ranjit Singh on media reports on the officer’s acquittal.


Moga Sex Scandal
Remand of Garcha, Sandhu extended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The special CBI court extended the judicial remand of two senior officers of Punjab for their alleged involvement in the Moga sex scandal till April 29.

The officers are Davinder Singh Garcha, former senior superintendent of police (SSP) and P.S. Sandhu, superintendent of police (headquarters), Ropar.

Earlier in the day, the CBI raided their residences in Jalandhar and Ropar, respectively, and found documents relating to property during the search.


Serial baby killer gets life term
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
Additional District and Session Judge B.K Mehta today sentenced serial baby killer Darbara Singh to life imprisonment in yet another case for raping and then killing a girl.

Following the kidnapping of both his granddaughters, Diksha (8) and Ashu (6), the complainant Jhumer Lal of local Rasta Mohalla had lodged a complaint with police division No. 4 on April 18, 2004.

In his compliant he maintained that his granddaughters were kidnapped from near the Company Bagh Chowk here.

According to the police, Darbara took both girls to a secluded place near the Beas where he raped Diksha and then killed her. Meanwhile, Ashu managed to flee from his clutches.


Heroin worth Rs 90 cr seized, 3 arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The district police has seized 18 kg of heroin valued at Rs 90 crore in the international market and arrested three smugglers along with a .32-bore revolver and five cartridges.

Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, SSP, told mediapersons here today that they had been on the trail of Jagjit Singh Havelian village, Mahavir Singh of Dhun village near Harike Pattan and Kripal Singh of Guru ki Wadali village in this connection.

He said all three of them had received the contraband from Pakistan through Fazilka. Three cases had been registered in this regard.

The SSP revealed that the consignment was sent to the Indian side from the Khem Karan segment from across the border by Bhola Ghurkiwala of Gazal village, Pakistan, through his conduit Boota.

The district police chief said the police tracked down the calls made through their mobile phone which led to the arrest of the accused.

He said a Ford Ikon car with Jalandhar registration number was also impounded in which majority of the consignment was concealed.

More than 100 policemen and senior officers were involved in the 12-hour-
long operation.


Bank employees robbed of Rs 20 lakh
Tribune Reporters

Batala, April 25
A gang of armed men robbed three employees of the State Bank of India (SBI), Bhattian branch, of a steel trunk containing Rs 20 lakh at gunpoint on the busy Batala-Qadian road at Dhanna Cheema village, near here, today.

The robbers also decamped with a gun and two mobile phones of the victims.

The incident occurred at about 12.50 pm when two bank employees Harvinder Singh (cashier) and Satnam Singh (gunman) were carrying the cash in a Maruti car driven by Mangat Ram.

The bankers were returning after withdrawing cash from the SBI branch at Batala. As the car occupants reached near Dhanna Cheema, a Tata Indica car (PB-10CC-
3971) overtook the Maruti car and directed its driver to stop it on the roadside.

Batala SSP R.N. Dhoke said the robbers were armed with pistols and using Haryanvi language. Sketches of the suspects would be released by this evening, he said

A case has been registered at Qadian police station in this connection.


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