|P U N J A B||
Monday, December 27, 1999
infusing Cong culture: Tohra
Case filed after 15 yrs on SC
Steady rise in crime graph
Gurdwara panel move on SGPC
Badal opens focal point
Pension scheme : govt
Govt to expand use of computers:
3 held for duping finance company
Shaheedi Jor Mela begins
Withdraw ST on fertilisers: CPI
Dry winter setback to wheat yield
Crop cultivation hit by border
Lawyers' body splits into 3 groups
Tribune journalist bereaved
40 panchayats get Rs 1 lakh each
Badal infusing Cong culture:
CHANDIGARH, Dec 26 The Sarbhind Shiromani Akali Dal President and former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, here today charged the Chief Minister and SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with inculcating "Congress culture" into Akali politics, thereby, changing its very complexion reflecting deceit, corruption and the dynasty rule syndrome.
Incensed by the incessant allegations at him of being hand-in-glove with the Congress, Mr Tohra hit back with a vengenance and demanded that Mr Badal should set up a three-member commission of enquiry consisting of Sikh judges of his (Mr Badal) choice to establish who was pro-Congress and who provided patronage and established "family ties" with known Congressmen.
Mr Tohra who was addressing newsmen, stressed that neither he feared nor sought any favours from any Congress government the way Mr Badal did and unlike him he had no landed property and business interests. He termed the allegation of his connivance with the Congress as "malacious and hitting below the belt. "Even my ashes after I am gone will refuse to merge into the soil touched by the Congress".
To substantiate his charge that Mr Badal provided patronage and protection to Congress proteges in the administration, he listed several appointments made by him of persons who had once sung the praise of the Congress and its leaders. Mr Badal even went to the Prime Minister at least three times to suggest appointment of a particular officer to the miniorities commission despite that officer having spent much of his life with former President Giani Zail Singh, he alleged.
If Mr Badal was not "soft" on the Congress how come despite several suggestions he decided to constitute a "weak" institution of Lok Pal, which has now been "freezed" by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and whose decisions had been undone by the former Governor? Moreover, why does Mr Badal feel shy of appointing a commission to go into the question of who have been the perpetrators of terrorism in the state since Akalis have all along held the view that the Congress was the "mother' of all acts of terrorism in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir."
So much so that a particular judge when suggested to become Lok Pal was rejected out of hand by Mr Badal on the argument that one day that particular Lok Pal may even wrap Akali leaders, alleged Mr Tohra.
To a question Mr Tohra offered a deal to Mr Badal. Since a byelection to the Nawanshahr Assembly constituency was expected early next year let that seat be left for an SHSAD candidate with Mr Badal and others supporting the candidate. The aim was to defeat the Congress at all costs and not allow it to surface. When there is another vacancy at any given point of time let the SAD put up its own candidate. He said even Akali MLAs owing allegiance to him (Mr Tohra) were clear in their minds that they had to support the SAD-BJP Government and not act in any manner prejudicial to the interests of the Panth.
Though acts of omission and commission committed by Mr Badal have changed the character of the Akali Dal, whose main function was to protect the rights of the Sikhs, a minority community, and safeguard the states interests and protect rights of all Punjabis. Somewhere Mr Badal lost sight of this objective. Therefore, Mr Tohra emphasised that his mission and political ambition was to bring the original SAD back to its well-carved out path and enable it serve the Panthic interests.
He was upset that bad governance had cast its shadow on the state, it was unfortunate that Punjab was suffering economically and otherwise when Akalis happened to be in power.
The SHSAD chief questioned the wisdom as to why Akalis should have coalition with the BJP since other parties had scant regard and respect for Punjabis sentiments and Punjabs interests. The Centre had failed to rescue Punjab from its financial and economic snarl. Moreover the Central projects were hanging fire and the state was smarting under financial crunch and bad planning.
On the proposed visit to Amritsar on December 28 of Ms Sonia Gandhi, he said: She does not deserve bakhshish (honour) till she apologises as Congress president for the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 for which her party was responsible. However, she had the right to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple like any other devotee.
The SHSAD president condemned the hijacking of an IA plane and expressed his sympathy for the stranded passengers in Kandahar describing their misery as deep.
He commented on the
All-India Gurdwara Act and Nanakshahi calendar issues.
His view was that it was for the Sikhs, collectively to
decide what they wanted. On Punjab and old Akali demands
Mr Tohra said the solution lay in a
federal structure of
politico-administrative governance with states being
granted autonomy. How come Mr Badal has forgotten all
those demands for which Akalis strived and spoke all
Case filed after 15 yrs on SC
SULTANPUR LODHI (Kapurthala), Dec 26 The Supreme Court directions to the police to register a case regarding missing of a school student, Gurvinder Singh, hailing from Gidderpindi village of Jalandhar district has generated a ray of hope among Swaran Singh and Parkash Kaur, aged parents of Gurvinder, who have been waiting for the return of their son for past 15 years.
Gurvinder, a student of local Sain Dass School, has been missing from his village since July 13, 1984, when he was last seen by his mother studying in the veranda of his house. Interestingly, no case had been registered by the police in this regard for 15 years in spite of best efforts of the parents and relatives and despite the fact that a person, who was suspectedly behind the "abduction", for extorting money was nabbed by the police within a few days of the incident.
An FIR under Section 364 of the IPC was registering by the police only on December 21 after the Supreme Court, acting on a complaint by Swaran Singh, directed it to do so.
Happy at the "police action for at least registering the case into the matter, Parkash Kaur, presently residing near historic Gurdwara of Sultanpur Lodhi, expressed hope that her son would return home one day, "We are waiting for that day, he might come home after knowing our predicament from somebody after the publication of the news" said Parkash Kaur and her husband.
Recalling the fateful day of mysterious disappearance of her son, she said: "I had gone to my brother-in-laws house leaving Gurvinder, at home. When I returned back after 20-25 minutes, I found the door of the home locked from outside. Initially I thought he might have gone to a neighbours house but I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that he would not return again," said a sobbing Parkash Kaur. "When he did not return till evening I called Harminder and Harvinder, my two sons, from Sultanpur Lodhi where they were doing their business, who launched a search for Gurvinder, but without any success. Later, a complaint was lodged with the Lohian police station and my husband, an ex-serviceman working in Abu Dhabi, was informed," she said.
Then started the ordeal for the family, when three days later Harjinder Singh, elder brother of Gurvinder, got a letter in Hindi saying if Rs 5000 were not paid, Gurvinder would be killed. The letter asked him to deliver the money to a man wearing white shirt and goggles outside a hospital in Ludhiana. But, when Harjinder accompanied by the Lohian police in civil dress, went at the spot nobody, except a suspect, of the said description turned up . The suspect who was from Lohian and had worked as a helper of "halwai" during an "akhand path" at Gurvinders home in 1983. He was nabbed by the police after found roaming in mysterious circumstances. During preliminary questioning he said he was there to to inquire about some patient admitted to the hospital. But his statement was reportedly found incorrect when cross-checked by the police.
"The police let him off after three days under pressure of a political group from Lohian," said Swaran Singh, showing the ransom letter. What generates curiosity is that the letter, which according to stamps on it, was posted on July 16 was received by the family on July 17 in a remote village where normal postal delivery time from nearest Lohina post office is between three to seven days. According to police sources, it was also possible that the extortionist might have delivered the letter after getting it stamped from the post office and the suspicion that he might have known the family could not be ruled out. But the sources failed to divulge as to why there was delay in registration of the case and why the suspect, the only vital link and a potential clue, was released without proper investigation.
Meanwhile, the family is yet to get out of trauma caused by the disappearance of Gurvinder. "We have been in trouble for years altogether and do not want more troubles," said Swaran Singh. He said his son might have been killed by the police and it was also possible that he might have been eliminated by some terrorist group for want of ransom.
The hope, however, is
there and is visible in his remark: " We still wait
for him. We have spent a lot of fortune locating him and
are still doing that," said Swaran Singh, who has
involved himself in painting".
The situation was very
CHANDIGARH, Dec 26 The Punjab Police feels that it has handled very well the crisis situation when the hijacked Indian Airlines plane landed at Raja sansi airport on December 24. "We had pushed commandos under experienced senior officers at the airport and tried our best to delay the departure of the hijacked plane. In fact those officers who had earlier been successful in handling such crisis situations were there", senior officers here said.
A detailed note was sent to The Tribune, obviously to deny the charge levelled by the former Punjab Police Chief, Mr K.P. S.Gill. He had said that the plane should not have been allowed to leave Indian soil.
Senior officers here recalled the two hijacking in Augu,st 1982, one on August 4 and another on August 20 when the local police succeeded in forcing the hijackers to release the hostages and one of them Museebat Singh was killed on the spot. This happened before Mr Gill's arrival here.
The police said: "These allegations are not based on facts as there was complacency or inefficiency in the handling of such a sensitive situation during the halt of the flight for about 50 minutes at Rajasansi airport. Senior officers in Amritsar were fully seized of the matter much before the arrival of the plane. On receiving information about the hijacking of the I A plane senior officers of the district immediately left for the airport on the presumption that the hijacked plane might land there. The members concerned of district- level crisis management group and essential services were immediately alerted. Mr J.P.Birdi, IGP Commando, who had first-hand experience of handling hijacking situations was in control and initiated operational measures required to meet the exigencies. The DIG, Border Range, much before the landing of the hijacked plane had got the operational component positioned at strategic points and given confirmation to this effect to the senior officers at the headquarters. Minute-to-minute liaison was maintained by the district control room and the Punjab Police control room with various agencies".
The press note added that "as soon as the flight landed up at Raja sansi airport, police commandos quickly cordoned off the plane. They exercised utmost restraint, keeping in view the gravity of the situation. The DIG, Border Range , and other senior officers positioned at the air traffic control tower at the airport made efforts to establish communication through the pilot and the ATC staff with the hijackers. The purpose was to cause as much delay as possible to enable NSG commandos from Delhi to arrive and take control of the situation."
whose identity was not known, were not willing to talk to
the officers and were only pressing their demand for
immediate refuelling of the aircraft failing which they
would start killing passengers. The pilot was extremely
shaky and panic as he kept on reiterating that one of the
hijackers had put a pistol on his head and was
threatening to kill him.The NSG headquarters in Delhi was
kept informed of the developments and as well as other
agencies. Throughout this period the hijackers had made
the pilots keep the engines running and were not willing
to take any chances. At the time when the fuel tankers
were moving towards the aeroplane, the hijackers probably
panicked and immediately asked the pilots to take off.
Had the fuel tanker tried to block the runway in such a
situation , the results would have been disastrous."
Overseas Sikh Sabhas vote
Bhindranwale greatest Sikh
CHANDIGARH, Dec 26 Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, with the prefix "Shaheed", was today declard the "greatest" Sikh of the 20th Century.
The announcement was made on behalf of certain prominent individuals and several organisations, political and apolitical, by Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, at Gurdwara Kanthala Sahib in Chandigarh.
Along with the declaration of Sant Bhindranwale being voted the "greatest" Sikh, the organisers also released a list of 77 individuals and institutions, who voted for him. Most of the listed institutions are Singh Sabhas and gurdwaras located in the USA and Canada, while, individuals who are said to have voted for Sant Bhindranwala include Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a former minister; Mr Sarbjot Singh Bedi of Sant Samaj, Mr Harminder Singh Gill of AISSF, and Mr Raghbir Singh, an assistant secretary of the SGPC.
Mr Gurtej Singh said the Number Two Sikh was Bhagat Puran Singh of Pingalwara fame, Amritsar. There was a big gap between him and Sant Bhindranwale.
Asked as to what factors contributed to the choice of Sant Bhindranwale, the organisers explained that this was due to the "political consciousness" awakened by Sant Bhindranwale in Sikhs; for "sacrificing" his life in defence of the Golden Temple in Amritsar when the Army attacked the place in 1984; and for being "true" to his convictions and resisting Operation Bluestar.
No leader of the SAD was listed as the choice for the titled.
The use of the prefix "Shaheed" with Sant Jarnail Singhs name was, however, not explained convincingly.
The selection of the "greatest" Sikh was screened by a 15-member committee. There would be convention on Baisakhi on "martyrdom of Sant Bhindranwale".
Steady rise in crime graph
LUDHIANA, Dec 26 The crime graph of the city during 1999 registered steady rise as against the last year, with the maximum number of cases registered for disruption of peace, followed by cases of cheating and fraud.
According to the information available here, 493 cases were registered during the year for disruption of peace (Sections 107 and 151 of the Cr PC as against 650 cases last year. As many as 329 cases of fraud and cheating were registered this year as against 228 cases last year.
However, it was the increase in the number of cases of abduction of minor girls and other kidnappings that had become a cause of concern during the year. As against 50 cases of kidnapping registered in 1998, 60 cases were registered this year. Of these 60 cases, the police was able to trace 47 cases.
Interestingly, while the number of males accused in these cases was 13, 43 females were accused of kidnapping.
Police sources said in majority of kidnapping cases, minor girls had eloped with their boy friends. The actual cases of kidnapping were not more than 10, claimed the sources.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldip Singh said "In case of minor girls eloping with their boyfriends, the general tendency of parents is to get a case of abduction registered against the other party. In most of these cases, we have been able to establish that these cases were of elopement".
There was also a sudden spurt in the recovery of smuggled narcotics in the city. During this year, the police recovered 46.90 kg of poppy, 6,510 kg of opium and 46 quintals of chura post. As against this, the police had recovered 22.23 kg of poppy, 5.16 kg of opium and 23 quintals of chura post during 1998.
During the year, seizure of alcohol from people without a legal permit also showed a spurt. The police recovered 3234 litres of English wine, 1130. litres of country made liquor and around 1000 litres of hooch.
The number of cases registered under Motor Vehicles Act during 1999 also increased by over 16 times from 352 cases registered last year to 5856 cases.
The traffic police challaned 65082 violators.
This year, 286 cases of road accidents were reported the city and 158 persons succumbed to their injuries received during these accidents.
Gurdwara panel move on SGPC
AMRITSAR, Dec 26 The district president of the Sarb Hind Youth Akali Dal, Mr Jaspal Singh, had filed a complaint with the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) on December 22 challenging appointment of Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, first as officer on special duty and later as secretary of the SGPC.
The petitioner said that appointments of Mr Bachan and Mr Hardip Singh, chief adviser, should be declared void under the provisions of the Gurdwara Act 1925 and they should be removed from service. The petitioner also sought that the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, should be declared disqualified to be member of the SGPC for a period of five years.
Quoting from the service rules of the SGPC he said it was mandatory on party of the SGPC to advertise in newspapers the post of any employee before appointment and the person should be selected only on merit.
Badal opens focal point
AMRITSAR, Dec 26 Criticising the previous Congress government, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, claimed that the scheme of focal points was his brainchild and was started in 1977.
He alleged that the Congress government as totally corrupt and did not encourage industrial growth in Punjab.
Mr Badal was speaking here today in Jabbowal village while inaugurating a new focal point. He said his government was willing to extend all possible help to the agricultural sector.
He stressed the need to adopt the mushroom farming model being followed at Dera Bassi.
Pension scheme : govt
JALANDHAR, Dec 26 Apparently keeping in view the Nawanshahr by-election, the Punjab Government has allegedly implemented the pension scheme for panchayat samitis and zila parishads without finalising the mandatory draft rules.
A gazette notification inviting objections and suggestions regarding the scheme was issued by the Punjab Government on November 18 and employees were asked to register these within a period of 30 days.
Interestingly, what raised the eyebrows was the launching of the pension scheme by the government on November 30 at Nawanshahr, where byelection is likely to be held in February polls.
While confirming that the pension scheme had been launched at Nawanshahr on November 30, a senior officer of the department said cheques to seven pensioners of the department were handed over by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Another interesting aspect of the issue is that though the Panchayat Secretary Union has asserted that it had sent a memorandum to the department in response to the notification, the officer said he was not aware whether any such objection or suggestion was received by the department. On the other hand, Mr Subhash Sharma, general secretary of the union, said he had sent the memorandum through speedpost four days before the expiry of the prescribed time limit. He wondered how the scheme could be implemented without finalisation of rules and their acceptance by the employees of the department. However, the department sources said the rules could be finalised at a later stage.
Mr Bidhi Chand, Director of the department, said the main demand of the employees that the scheme should be implemented from January 1990 could not be implemented. However, their suggestions, if received before the finalisation of the draft rules, would be taken into account, he said.
The union has also urged the government to amend the rule which did not provide commuting of the pension.
According to Mr Sharma
the Rule 12(3) was anti-employee as it put the onus on
employee to ensure that his share of pension was
contributed by the employer. He said the rule should be
amended and the employer be made accountable for that.
Saka Sirhind, source of
FATEHGARH SAHIB:THE renowned Hindi poet Maithillisharn Gupt commemorates the Saka Sirhind in his poem:
jaati, desh ke bachche,
(The community and the nation which are capable of such a heroic sacrifice have a great future in store for them regardless of their present.)
Saka Sirhind, a unique sacrifice, is a historical event, which has created an indelible mark on the minds of people. The martyrdom of two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh is unique in the annals of world history. The barbarous incident of bricking the two sons alive for refusing to embrace Islam took place on December 25, 1704. To commemorate the event, Shaheedi Jor Mela is held every year from December 25 to 28.
The family of Guru Gobind Singh got separated while crossing Sirsa Nadi, after leaving Kila Anandpur Sahib. Guruji, along with two elder sons and followers, went to Chamkaur Sahib, while the younger Sahibzadas, along with their grandmother Mata Gujri, took shelter at the house of Gangu cook of Guruji. The greedy cook informed the "kotwal" of Morinda about the stay at his residence of Gurujis family, which was arrested.
The two sons of Guru Gobind Singh were presented in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan, the then Governor of Sirhind. Mata Gujri was imprisoned at "Thanda Burj". The Nawab ordered nine-year-old Zorawar Singh and seven-year-old Fateh Singh to embrace Islam, but they turned down his command. Baba Zorawar Singh said in a soft but determined voice that they had been taught to bow before the Guru and none else. As for accepting Islam, he said, "We have in our veins the blood of Guru Hargobind, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh. None can force us to renounce the faith of our forefathers."
Every one in the court was impressed to hear the bold reply. Wazir Khan ordered the two boys to be taken to prison and bring them before him the next morning. Men were asked to frighten them into submission, but the two boys remained firm. The next day they again behaved in the court of the Nawab with great dignity and firmness. The Nawab was mad with rage and wished to give them the severest punishment. Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Malerkotla, who happened to be there, earnestly pleaded that the children were too young and innocent to be punished, but on the advice of Sucha Nand, Nawab Wazir Khan ordered Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh to be bricked alive. When the wall came up to the chest they were told that they could still save their lives by giving up their faith, but they remained firm. They were bricked alive.
Recent research has thrown new light on the martyrdom of the two Sahibzadas. Prof Harbans Singh, a renowned Sikh scholar, in his book, "Guru Gobind Singh", writes that when the two Sahibzadas were bricked, the brick structure tumbled down time and again and the unconscious Sahibzadas were taken back to jail. And for the third time, on December 27, they were presented in the court, but they remained steely in their resolve. So the Subedar ordered them to be beheaded. "They (Sahibzadas) were slain in the order of their ages by the sword of a Ghilzai executioner". Bhai Rattan Singh Bhangu, an eminent Sikh scholar, in his book, "Prachin Panth Parkash", Bhai Santokh Singh in his book, "Suraj Parkash". Bhai Sukha Singh in "Gurbilas" and Mohinder Singh Manupuri in his prize-winning poem, "Saka Sirhind", confirm this belief.
Diwan Todar Mal broke this news to Mata Gujri which proved fatal to her. A wave of anger swept the nation as a reaction to this bloody incident. It soon burst like a volcano and people joined hands to wage a relentless struggle against the Mughal tyranny.
When Guru Gobind Singh came to know about this incident, he did not betray any emotion and remained unshaken. He made up his mind to punish the culprits. He did not allow this wave of protest to cool down and prepared the Sikhs mentally to take on the mighty Mughals. The situation reached such a pass that within the next four years, the entire Sikh community cried for revenge. Guru Gobind Singh chose Baba Banda Singh Bahadur to lead the Sikhs to take revenge from the Mughals. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur marched like a hurricane from Nanded. After defeating the Mughals en route he reached Sirhind. A decisive battle was fought against Wazir Khan on May 14 and razed the city to the ground.
Now the Sikhs had gained ascendancy and they scored several victories over the Mughals. The Mughal pride was thus razed to the ground. The foundation of a sovereign Sikh state was laid which ultimately culminated in the rise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a great political force. However, the Sikhs continued to express gratitude to the Muslim rulers of Malerkotla, whose ancestors had disapproved the forcible conversion and killing of the Sahibzadas.
The eastern gate of
Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib has been dedicated to the memory
of the then Nawab of Malerkotla. Saka Sirhind remains
even today a source of inspiration and strength to the
masses. It will continue to remind them to their rich
heritage of being ready to make any sacrifice for their
Govt to expand use of
BATHINDA, Dec 26 The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has said that the state government has struck a deal with a private concern for expanding the use of computers in government offices and in education.
According to a press note issued here yesterday by the public relations wing, Mr Badal, while speaking at the annual function of Girls College at Bhucho Mandi, said the Punjab Government was introducing computer education in colleges to help the youth become self-reliant by making them computer-literate.
He added that the private concern would provide the latest technology in computers to the state government for use in its offices and educational institutions.
Mr Badal said the first report of an experts committee, constituted for changing the existing educational policy, had been received by the state government. The government would revise the present educational policy after considering the recommendations of this report.
The Chief Minister said his government was making concerted efforts to impart better and qualitative education in rural areas. He added that the performance of the Adarsh schools opened in rural areas was satisfactory.
Mr Badal pointed out that the state government was very particular about imparting education to girls and added that parents should also make efforts to provide education to their girl child.
3 held for duping finance
JALANDHAR, Dec 26 The local police has arrested three miscreants for duping a local finance company.
Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said one of the alleged accused Pakhar Singh, a resident of Bhinder village in Amritsar district, had taken a loan of Rs 3.5 lakh and purchased a bus. The accused, who was later arrested on a complaint filed by the company, however, did not pay any instalment and revealed during investigation that he had sold the bus to former a Punjab Youth Congress chief. Though the bus is yet to be recovered by the police, a case under Sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered.
Cong backs stir by jobless
HOSHIARPUR, Dec 26 The Congress will not remain a silent spectator and will support to unemployed agitating teachers if the state government failed to stop their harassment.
This was stated by Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MP from Hoshiarpur, in a press not released here today.
Mr Channi supported the demands of unemployed teachers and said the proposed appointment of plus two passed candidates as teachers was illegal.
Giani Zail Singh remembered
FARIDKOT, Dec 26 The Congress and SAD held a joint "shradhanjali samaroh" to commemorate the fifth death anniversary of a former President, Giani Zail Singh, at his native village, Sandhwan, 8 km from here, yesterday.
The Punjab Chief
Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, laid the foundation
stone of Giani Zail Singh Memorial Samarak in the
village. The project will cost about Rs 25 lakh and is
likely to be completed within a year. He appealed to the
villagers to contribute funds generously for constructing
the memorial in a befitting manner.
BKU to launch agitation
MOGA, Dec 26 Members of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union have decided to launch an agitation in support of their demands which include fixing of Rs 910 per quintal compensation for the losses suffered by cotton growers during the past three years due to heavy rain inclement weather conditions and increase in prices of other rabi crops.
This was stated here today by the president of the Punjab unit of the BKU, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhoiwal, and the general secretary, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesary. They said members of the BKU would demonstrate outside Parliament on December 29, if their demands were not accepted.
Shaheedi Jor Mela begins
FATEHGARH SAHIB, Dec 26 The annual Shaheedi Jor Mela began here today with enthusiasm. Thousand of devotees thronged the town today on the opening day of the three-day annual mela held in memory of younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked alive.
In spite of cold wave, the devotees paid obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and Jyoti Swarup Sahib. Long queues were witnessed at the Gurdwaras.
The Deputy Commissioner inaugurated an exhibition depicting achievements of various departments. A kavi darbar was also organised.
On the second day of the mela all political parties will organise their conferences. The preparations for the pandals are going on. Workers of the SHSAD seen to be over enthusiastic as the pandals constructed by them has maximum capacity.
administration has divided the mela into six zones and 12
duty magistrates have been deputed to oversee the
arrangements. Three information centres have been set up
for missing persons. Langars have been organised at a
number of places.
Tanker driver found dead
JALANDHAR, Dec 26 An oil tanker driver was found dead inside the tanker at Dhilwan village near Nakodar this morning.
The body of Swaran Chand, hailing from Mehatpur village near Nakodar, was found accidentally when a group of children playing cricket perched atop the tanker to find the missing ball. Instead of finding the ball, they found the body when they peeped inside the tanker.
Probably Swaran Chand (35) consumed some poisonous gas which might have been there in the tanker, police sources said.
Bin Ladens effigy
PATIALA, Dec 26 Activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti today burnt effigy of Osama bin Laden to register protest against hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane.
Samiti president Sanjeev Bhardwaj said Laden had emerged as the most powerful enemy of India. He said an inquiry should be held to ascertain how explosives and arms had been smuggled into the plane.
Withdraw ST on fertilisers: CPI
BATHINDA, Dec 26 Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, member, State Council of the CPI, Punjab unit, has urged the state government to withdraw its proposal to impose four per cent sales tax on agriculture inputs, including fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, from January 1.
In a press note issued here yesterday, he said this move would further burden the Punjab farmers who were already reeling under heavy debts.
He said the farmers, who were facing a financial crisis due to repeated bad crops during the past few years, would not be able to pay an additional Rs 65 crore towards sales tax on these items. This action of the Punjab Government would force the fertilisers and pesticides companies to shift their businesses from here to other states, which would adversely affect the transport and the labour sector.
He pointed out that under the regime of the SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab, which claimed itself to be a champion of the farmers, the farmers were getting DAP and urea at much higher price from the cooperative societies than those prevailing in the open markets.
Crop cultivation hit by border fencing
FEROZEPORE, Dec 26 (PTI) The fencing erected along the 134-km stretch of the Indo-Pak border in the district to check smuggling of arms and infiltration has hit crop production in the area.
"When the fencing was not erected, farmers were free to go to their fields at any time. Now they are given stipulated time to work in fields. The insufficient time for cultivation has affected crop production," says Chanan Singh who owns five acres of agricultural land on the other side of the fence.
Citing an example, he says a fortnight ago he had to start crop plantation but could not do so as the gates to cross the fence were not opened for eight days by BSF personnel. "Late sowing of crops costs more and the yield will be less," he laments.
Farm hands engaged by the farmers are also not allowed to work the full day for security reasons. This is done despite the farmers paying them full daily wages, says another farmer, adding, "We have to bear more labour expenses for less hours of work".
Kulbir Singh Sidhu said 9,123 acres of agricultural land
fell on the other side of the fencing. Chief Minister
Parkash Singh Badal had been apprised about the
difficulties of the farmers in border areas, he added.
Lawyers' body splits into 3
SANGRUR, Dec 26 The District Bar Association here has split into three factions following its annual elections held recently.
The association has a strength of over 300 members.
After the polling and counting of votes, the returning officer, Mr Hakim Singh Jawanda, declared that Mr Ram Sarup had been elected the president of the association, defeating Mr Satish Kansal.
Mr Sudarshan Kumar Garg and Mr Ranjit Singh were declared elected as Vice President and Secretary, respectively.
However, the defeated presidential candidate, Mr Kansal alleged that the poll had been conducted in an unfair manner and declined to accept the results. His supporters held a meeting next day and "elected" Mr Kansal as the "president" of the association.
The Kansal group claimed that their meeting was attended by 83 lawyers.
However, a third group
of lawyers held a separate meeting two days later and
"elected" Mr Jatinder Paul Singh Khurmi as
their "president". The third faction claimed
that its meeting was attended by 90 lawyers.
Tribune journalist bereaved
AMRITSAR, Dec 26 Father of The Tribune Senior Staff Correspondent Varinder Walia, Sewa Singh Walia (80), passed away this afternoon.
Mr Walia is survived by his wife two sons and three daughters.
He had retired as police inspector after having served in the force in united Punjab. He joined the service before Independence and had been posted at Lahore, Amritsar and Himachal Pradesh. He played an important role in helping a large number of people who were uprooted during Partition.
His funeral will take place at his native village of Kalwan, near Nurpur Bedi, in Ropar district at 12 noon tomorrow.
Amritsar region bags cultural
LUDHIANA, Dec 26 The Amritsar region of Punjab National Bank won the overall trophy in the 17th PNB Punjab Zone Inter-Region Cultural Competition, which concluded here today. The General Manager of the bank, Mr S.K. Chawla, inaugurated a two-day meet in which as many as 150 staff members participated.
During the competition, the Kapurthala region was declared second and Mr U.S. Gill of Ferozepore region was declared the best actor of the zone. The results of other competitions are as follows:
Classical instrumental: Mr D.K. Patti (Amritsar) 1; and Ms Shashi Sharma (Jalandhar) 2.
Classical vocal: Mr Ramesh Bhagat (Amritsar) 1; and Mr Vijay Firaq (Jalandhar) 2.
Light vocal (solo): Mr Ramesh Bhagat (Amritsar) 1; and Mr Vijay Kumar (Kapurthala) 2.
Light vocal (duet): Mr R.S. Chattha and Ms Kiran Deep Kaur (Ludhiana) 1; and Mr Ramesh Bhagat and Mr Sudershan Grover (Amritsar) 2.
Dry winter setback to wheat
LUDHIANA Dec 26 With no rainfall during the winter season so far, the agrometereologists of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) are predicting a setback to the wheat yield in the kandi area of the state. At the same time, these weather conditions are being predicted as beneficial for the cotton crop.
The rainfed areas, including Hoshiarpur, Dasuya, Gurdaspur and parts of Ropar, can have a much less wheat yield because of no rainfall. Even in the central areas of the state like Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Faridkot the demands on electricity are increasing with the canal waters being used extensively for irrigation.
Dr S.S. Hundal, Head, Department of Agrometereology, says generally a few showers are received in the region from October to December. But this year the region has no rainfall. He says the westerlies, which cause rain in the region, have been effective only in the higher altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
He says, however, there is little need to worry as a rain system is developing near the Caspian Sea and likely to reach India soon after travelling over Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.
Interestingly, whereas the dry spell is a bane for the wheat crop, agrometereologists claim that it is a boon for the cotton crop and, after almost five years, a bumper cotton crop is expected, courtesy the favourable weather.
Dr G.S. Mahi, senior
agrometereologist, says the clean weather prevailing,
after the timely withdrawal of the monsoon, is beneficial
for cotton as it hampers the damage caused by insect
pests which thrive in moist conditions. After many years
cotton has escaped the damage, he adds.
40 panchayats get Rs 1 lakh
GURDASPUR, Dec 26 Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Minister of State for Public Relations and Revenue, yesterday distributed cheques for Rs 1 lakh each among 40 panchayats at a function held at Kahnuwan, 15 km from here.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Mr Sekhwan said directions had been issued to revenue officers to undertake the mutation and demarcation of land on priority. All pending mutations and demarcations would be completed by January 31, 2000, he added.
The minister said the patwaris had been directed to record mutations within one month, tehsildars within two months and disputed mutations would be settled within six months. Mutations henceforth would be recorded on the spot in the presence of nambardars and sarpanches.
Detailing steps taken by
the Punjab Government for the development of the Kahnuwan
assembly constituency, Mr Sekhwan said Rs 2.35 crore had
been spent on digging drains, resulting in the
reclamation of a large acreage of land for cultivation.
Vultures spotted in Dinanagar
GURDASPUR, Dec 26 Though the vultures have disappeared from common places, their presence in large numbers can be spotted at Bhimpur and surrounding villages in Dinanagar block in the district. No doubt, they are a cause of nuisance in the area.
The vultures, which are natural scavengers, can be sighted perched atop peepal and sheesham trees on the left bank of the Upper Beas Doaba Canal in a track of 3 km extending from Bhimpur to Tibri. A week ago villagers saw more than 200 vultures gathered at a spot where a carcass was lying.
LUDHIANA, Dec 26 Renowned agricultural economist Dr S.S. Kahlon (88) breathed his last here today. He is survived by his wife, eminent educationist P. Kahlon, and three sons.
Milk supply stopped
MOGA, Dec 26 Milkmen, who used to supply milk to various concerns in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other adjoining states, have decided to stop the supply of the same with immediate effect following the failure of these concerns to repay their dues running into several crores of rupees.
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