Monday, March 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Enhanced MSP ‘may’ hit sale of wheat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have heaved a sigh of relief following the decision of the Central Government to increase the procurement price of wheat and other rabi crops. The decision has been taken against the recommendations of the Commission of Agriculture Costs and Prices.

Prof P.S. Rangi, a marketing expert in the Department of Economics and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), however, says there is neither sufficient storage capacity in government godowns nor adequate takers of wheat through the public distribution system (PDS).

The Commission of Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) has recommended a decrease in the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat by Rs 60 but the government decided to increase it under the pressure of the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana and various kisan lobbies.

Prof Rangi says the government’s decision to increase the procurement price from Rs 580 to Rs 610 per quintal will result in more farmers selling their produce to government procurement agencies as the prevailing market rate of wheat is substantially lower than the MSP announced by the government.

He says more than 50 million tonnes of foodgrain are being stored in government granaries and by the end of April, about 13-15 million tonnes of wheat would be added to the stocks. There will be few takers in the market as the food-deficit states are not coming forward to take foodgrain through the PDS.

In the international market, the prevailing rate for wheat is hovering between $ 105 and $110 per tonne that is about Rs 500 per quintal. The government agencies will have to spend around Rs 150 per quintal more as handling and transport charges on the procured wheat resulting in up to Rs 750 per quintal as the consumer’s price for wheat.

Prof Karam Singh, a senior economist in the Department of Economics and Sociology, says, “After announcing the foodgrain prices, the government should initiate a food for work programme on a large-scale in the food-deficit states, some of which have been badly hit by drought.”

The government should subsidise the consumers to increase the offtake of foodgrain through the PDS and to build infrastructure in these states else it will be difficult to dispose of wheat in the market. The government can also subsidise the export of wheat to handle the glut in the market, he adds.

Prof Rangi brushes aside the apprehensions. He says, “There is no actual glut in the country when there are more than 30 crore people living below the poverty line who cannot have three meals a day. The government should announce a decrease in the price of wheat and other cereals provided through the PDS instead of providing subsidy to the FCI to handle foodgrain or to export it at a lower rate to other countries.


Nihangs recognise Santa Singh as jathedar
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 25
The controversy regarding jathedar of the Budha Dal was put to rest with heads of various Nihang sects recognising Baba Santa Singh as the real jathedar after he completed his ‘tankha’ after 17 years of his excommunication, at Likahsar gurdwara here today.

Baba Santa Singh, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth for carrying out the construction of Akal Takht after Operation Bluestar against the ‘Sikh maryada’, rejoined the Sikh Panth when he was given a ‘siropa’ by Giani Man Singh, Head Granthi, Takht Damdama Sahib after reciting the ardas.

Baba Partap Singh, Head Granthi, Sach Khand Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra) and Baba Nihal Singh Harianbela, who addressed the gathering in the gurdwara after the ‘ardas’ pointed out that Baba Santa Singh was the real jathedar of 96 ‘crori Budha Dal.’

Baba Harianbela said the SGPC had no authority to nominate jathedar of the Budha Dal. He added that jathedarship of any sect was bestowed according to traditions, conventions and customs of the Nihang sect.

However, earlier reports had indicated that the SGPC had recognised Baba Balbir Singh as jathedar of the Budha Dal after Baba Santa Singh was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth.

Heads of about 20 Nihang sects participated in today’s gathering and made offerings when they met Baba Santa Singh at his dera.

After the completion of the ‘tankha’, Baba Santa Singh was taken to his “chawni” (cantonment), the tradition headquarter of Budha Dal. Young Nihangs played ‘gatka’ enroute.

It was a colourful procession as the Nihangs donned their traditional blue and kesri attire.

At his dera, Baba Santa Singh in the presence of other Nihang chiefs, told mediapersons, that he was a victim of conspiracy, to keep him out of the Sikh mainstream.

He added that he had always recognised the supremacy and sovereignty of Akal Takht as a humble devotee.

Justifying his action of performing kar seva for the reconstruction of Akal Takht, intensively damaged due to shelling in Operation Bluestar, Baba Santa Singh said he had attempted to salvage the image of the Sikhs who were being branded as terrorists.

He said his action of devotion to the ‘Guru Ghar’ and service to the community was misconstrued by his opponents and selfish politicians.

In response to a question, he said the government had acted in a haste in ordering the Operation Bluestar. The Nihang patriarch said had the government approached the Panth it would have cleansed the Golden Temple complex of all undesirable elements.

Baba Santa Singh justified his submission before Akal Takht as an attempt to create harmony among the Sikhs remove all misgivings and apprehensions.

He said he had never intended to defy the authority of Akali Takht as the ‘maryada’ of this temporal seat was established by the initiators of the Budha Dal whom he claimed were the real custodians of the legacy of Guru Gobind Singh.

Baba Partap Singh said today’s development where Baba Santa Singh had completed his ‘tankha’ was as historic as the submission of Maharaja Ranjit Singh before Akal Takht.


Nihangs ‘not to accept’ ban on bhang
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 25
The campaign against drug addiction launched by the apex Sikh clergy from the Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib on the occasion of Hola Mohalla, today received a major set-back when Baba Santa Singh, Jathedar, Budha Dal, along with 20 chiefs of Nihang sects refused to accept the ban on consumption of ‘bhang’ (cannabis).

Baba Santa Singh pointed out that the consumption of ‘bhang’among the Nihangs was not a new phenomenon. He said it had been going on ever since the Nihangs came into existence and fought battles against Mughal and Afghan invaders.

He further pointed out that Nihangs were having their own customs, traditions, conventions and attire and no-body would be allowed to force them to change the same.

It may be mentioned here that on the occasion of Hola Mohalla, a procession was taken out and the followers of Baba Balbir Singh, who was installed as Jathedar of the Budha Dal after Baba Santa Singh was excommunicated, decided to shun the consumption of bhang in presence of the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and the Jathedar, Takht Keshgarh Sahib and Jathedar of the Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh.


Sheesh Mahal dome cries for repair
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Sheesh Mahal is one of the finest palaces built by the Phulkian dynasty, which ruled Patiala for around 200 years. Built by Maharaja Narinder Singh, it is a blend of Mughal and Rajasthani style with huge European-styled gardens. While most of the building is at present occupied by the National Institute of Sports, part of it is under the Punjab Government which has converted it into a museum.

It is the small part of the building under the Punjab Government’s control which is not being maintained properly. The reaction time of the government can be gauged from the communications of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums which is finding it difficult to release Rs 2,000 to repair a dome, a portion of which was damaged recently.

The department was informed on January 6 that a part of the dome in the Sheesh Mahal had been damaged when its plaster fell off. This had affected an area of around one and a half square metres. It was urged to repair the dome immediately failing which it would be endangered if there was any rain leading to its caving in.

Sources said if the dome caved in it might be difficult to reconstruct it and that other parts of the building might also be irreversibly damaged. It was necessary to do restoration work whenever the need arose immediately, said art lover Ishu Singla.

The department was informed that Rs 2,000 was needed for the job along with hiring of an experienced mason and labourers. It was also informed that another dome in the complex had weakened with the passage of time and needed repair. The department has still to release the money due to which even maintenance work cannot be done.

Sources said while the dome may need immediate attention, it was not the only area demanding the attention of the Archaeology Department. Various “jharokas” in Sheesh Mahal had become weak and needed to be reinforced. Similarly, the tank at the complex also needed repair. The department had been requested for Rs 20,000 for this work, including restoration of a pathway, but it was still to receive any amount.

In addition to money not being provided for repair of the dome or the water tank the department in another communication on February 13 directed the local office provide drinking water facilities at the complex. Sources however, said even this directive could not be enforced as no funds had been provided.

The manner in which the sandstone railing of the two minarets situated in the tank in the Sheesh Mahal complex are falling is symptomatic of the importance given to the maintenance of cultural heritage in Punjab.

The situation has become such that now a sudden gust is sometimes enough to make part of the failing fall and crumble to the ground. The railing is being religiously stored in the complex although nothing is being done to tackle the problem for which little money is required.

The sandstone railing is the life of three-storeyed minarets which was used to enable royalty to get fresh air when going up as well as view the tank below. The borders of the railing on all three-floors enhance the architectural beauty of the minarets. It has been noticed that wherever a portion of the railing falls it leads to a cascading effect with the other part of the railing also giving way slowly.

The Assistant Conservators have over the years sent various estimates to carry out repair as well as install a new railing where needed. The first estimate was sent on January 18, 1997, the second six months later the third last May and the latest one on January 28. According to the last estimate, Rs 53,000 was needed but the department is yet to release funds.

The situation has turned precarious now. Assistant Conservator Yog Raj disclosed that a part of the railing constituting three “jaalis” had fallen down after being weakened a few days back. Holding a private painting competition in the compound of the complex by the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) in which a few thousand children participated has not helped matters. Even on that day in mid-February a portion of the sandstone railing had come crashing down when children was on the first floor of the minaret. The railing, which fell recently, is on the same floor.

Assistant Conservator Yog Raj said he had written a letter to the NZCC stating that Sheesh Mahal was a protected monument and such private functions should not be held in the portion occupied by the NZCC. He pointed out in the letter that the NZCC did not take permission to hold the function from either the officer in charge or senior officers of the department at the headquarters. He said the minarets and “jhula” installed over the water tank could be endangered by movement of people in hundreds, if not thousands.

Mr Yog Raj said only a small portion of the railing which had fallen over several years could be used again and that the joints had been accumulated in a store in complex. Most of the railing would have to be installed again He said the foundations of the railing which were still standing in the minarets needed to be strengthened to ensure they did not fall off easily. For this only plaster work needed to be done.


Malta boat tragedy facts on website
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 25
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, said in a press note here yesterday that the CBI had decided to place information on Malta boat tragedy on its website. Mr S.K. Upadhyaya Joint Director, CBI, whom a deputation of the mission met at Delhi, said human trafficking was increasing day by day and the prevailing laws were not sufficient to deal with the craze of the youth for going abroad. He also agreed to request the CBI court to make available the records of the Malta boat tragedy given by it to the courts in Greece and Italy.

Mr Khera who probed this tragedy said on the eve of Christmas in 1996, over 290 youngmen from Asia had lost their lives because the mafia had intentionally drowned them. But expectations that justice would be done had been belied. Most of the main accused were out on bail; none of them had served a jail term of more than a week and several of them still continue to work as travel agents. He said the latest revelation of Mr Sunil Kumar of Khanna and Mr Satnam Singh of Hoshiarpur had established that a Mohali-based travel agent Ajmer Singh, a so-called NRI, was illegally operating for the past so many years, but the state government and the police authorities were not arresting him. The latest account had made it clear that the Malta boat tragedy had not made any difference to the style of functioning of the unscrupulous travel agents.

Mr Khera said a deputation of the mission met, Mr S. R. Tayal, Joint Secretary, CPV, Ministry of External Affairs, who advised the mission to take up the ongoing cases in Italy and Greece by raising its own sources and organising the NGOs and Human Rights Activists of those countries because the Indian Government was unlikely to be a party to such cases.


BSP eyeing non-Dalits’ votes
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 25
The Bahujan Samaj Party, which has decided to go it alone in the forthcoming Punjab Assembly poll, has left most other political outfits far behind as far as election preparations are concerned.

Though the battle in the political arena is less than a year ahead, no political party has begun gearing itself for the poll. No activity aimed at poll preparations is visible so far. But the Bahujan Samaj Party has put itself in top gear and has virtually left other parties far behind on this front, primarily due to the fact that its leadership wants to change the party image in the minds of the people of the state from being a purely Dalit party to an organisation representing people belonging to the “Bahujan samaj” comprising Dalits and Backward Classes. The party leadership is seriously contemplating opening its doors to those belonging to upper castes.

The BSP President, Mr Kanshi Ram, who has been in Punjab since the past two months, is confident that his party will be able to form government on its own due to the presence of a large number of Dalits and Backward Classes in the state. He has already appointed five vice-presidents, who represent Dalits as well as different castes like Ramgarhias, Chimbbas, Kumhars and Rajputs. They have been directed by the state President, Mr Mohan Singh Phallianwala, to strengthen the party’s base among people of their respective castes and groups.

To organise the “scattered bahunaj force” in the parliamentary secretaries to look after the party affairs at the parliamentary constituency level. Those who have been assigned the job are Mr Satish Kumar Bharti (Phillaur), Mr Vipin Kumar (Jalandhar), Mr Hargopal Singh (Hoshiarpur), Mr Raj Kumar Kundra (Gurdaspur), Mr Mohan Singh Bhogowalia (Amritsar), Mr Surjit Singh (Tarn Taran), Mr Gurdial Chand (Ludhiana), Mr Maan Singh Manhera (Ropar), Mr Gurbachan Singh (Patiala), Mr Sham Singh Jaura (Bathinda), Mr Subash Maletia (Ferozepore) and Mr Lal Singh Sulhani (Faridkot). Nobody has been nominated for the Sangrur unit.

The next step will be to appoint 117 joint secretaries in the first week of April. Each joint secretary will look after an Assembly constituency, which will be further divided into seven sectors. This exercise is likely to be completed by the BSP supremo before the birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar by the party on April 14 in all four municipal corporation cities of Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

Except for the 29 reserved seats, party sources said, the strategy of Mr Kanshi Ram would be to put up a maximum number of non-Dalit and Backward Class candidates so as to also corner non-Dalit votes. Mr Kanshi Ram claims that Dalits and Backward Classes together constitute 75 per cent of the population of the state and this is where he sees a silver lining for the revival of his party fortunes. He has already ruled out a pact with the SAD-BJP alliance.


No poll pact, says Lok Jan Shakti
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 25
The Lok Jana Shakti will have no alliance with any party in the coming Assembly elections of the state and will contest all 117 seats on their own.

Stating, this, Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, state President of the party, talking to mediapersons said here today, that the party would not enter into any alliance before or after the elections.

He said the alliance of the party at the national level was a different matter. In case of hung Assembly, it would go in for an issue-based support.

He said to mobilise people and increase the membership to the party, a rath yatra would be organised next month. People were in search of a good alternative to the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine, he said.

Making a scathing attack on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he said all issues of the state had been pending.

When Mr Badal was not in power, he raised these issues but now all issues had been dumped.

Issues of Chandigarh, water-sharing, octroi, Hindi/Punjabi speaking areas had not been discussed by Mr, Badal ever since he came into power, he said.

Commenting on the increase in the MSP of wheat, he said only when wheat was procured at the announced MSP, could it be believed. Paddy package was announced by Mr Badal, but it had not been given to farmers, he alleged.


Widow may have to pay for MC’s fault
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, March 25
Poonam, widow of Vinod Kumar, an employee of the local municipal council, may have to pay a heavy price for the negligence of the authorities in not depositing the amount of the life insurance premium which had been deducted from the salary of the deceased.

Poonam, after having been denied justice by the authorities involved in the scam has filed a complaint before the District Consumer Forum, Ferozepore. She said that her husband Vinod Kumar had entered into an agreement with the local municipal council and the local branch of the Life Insurance Corporation of India. As per the agreement, the council was required to deduct the amount of the premium from the salary of the employees and the amount so collected was be deposited with the LIC. To keep the insurance policy alive, it was obligatory on the part of the council to deposit the amount of the premium regularly and in time.

The complainant said that her husband had taken the insurance policy for Rs 50,000 on March 26,1999. The council has started deducting Rs 440 per month from his salary as instalment of the premium for the policy.

It was later learnt that the council neglected in depositing the premium after October 1999 even when the amount had been deducted regularly from the salary of the employees. Vinod Kumar died on February 21, 2000. When Poonam approached the LIC office, she was told that the amount of the policy could not be paid because the council had not been paying the premium. The amount was perhaps paid to the LIC few months after the death of the employees, it was learnt.

The local office of the LIC vide letter PS/SSS dated August 5,2000, had sought an explanation from the municipal council, but no reply was received. The LIC again on September 9, 2000, slapped a reminder on the council requiring to reveal the source out of which the premium, paid after the death of the employee, had been deducted.

If the premium was actually deducted out of the salary, why was the amount remitted so late to the LIC.

The municipal council in a letter signed by a junior employee on behalf of the Executive Officer stated that the financial position of the council was weak, so the amount deducted as premium from the salary of the employee could not be deposited with the LIC. The letter further confessed that such amount was deposited after the death of the employee as per practice.

This confession of the municipal council has sparked another controversy. Mr. Sat Pal Khariwal, Chairman of the Consumer Movement, a voluntary organisation, today said more than 300 employees of the council had been covered under the same agreement.

The council has been allegedly deducting monthly instalments from their salary but misutilised the amount for other purposes, instead of depositing it in the LIC office.

This amounts to criminal breach of trust and gross administrative negligence.

Joining the issue, Mr Vimal Thathai leader of the main opposition Congress group in the council, Mr Mohinder Kumar Chandolia MC and tehsil unit president of the BSP, Mr Suresh Phutela, a rebel BJP MC, blamed the president of the council for alleged financial crunch and misutilisation of funds not only in terms of deductions of LIC premium from the salary of the employees but also on account of provident fund. They alleged that the employees had repeatedly been complaining to the state government that the council had not deposited their provident fund amount for a long time and the same was misutilised on wasteful expenditure.

After protest from its employees, the council had deposited only a part of the amount in the bank.

The MCs and the Consumer Movement demanded that officials and political functionaries responsible for misappropriating the amount of LIC premium and PF of the employees should be booked under relevant sections of the IPC.

They also demanded that action under the Municipal Act be also taken immediately.


Rs 2 crore spent on Talwandi Sabo: MP
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 25
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, senior Akali leader and Member of Parliament, today said Rs 3.50 crore was being spent on the construction of a new water house and so far the Punjab Government had spent Rs 2 crore for the development of Talwandi Sabo, a historical and a religious place.

Mr Bhunder, who was here to lay the foundation stone of a sewerage water disposal project, said the Punjab Government had paid special attention to the development of religious and historical cities such as Anandpur Sahib, Amritsar, Muktsar, Tarn Taran, Fatehgarh Sahib and Talwandi Sabo. Mr Bhunder said the Khalsa Memorial Complex was being constructed at Anandpur Sahib which would work as a lighthouse for the coming generations.

He added that the Punjab Government had done a lot of development work for the farmers, labourers, businessmen, employees and poor sections of society. He pointed out that all development works done during the past four years would be reviewed on April 13, 2001, at Talwandi Sabo.

He also distributed cheques to the Sarpanch of Talwandi Sabo for development works.


Milk vendors plan tit for tat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 25
Irked over the move of the Punjab Government to hold camps to check the quality of milk supplied by vendors, the Punjab Dodhi Union, has decided to counter the government move by organising similar camps for testing milk processed and packed by government milk plants.

Without touching the issue of adulteration by milk vendors, the union claimed that selling of fresh milk by vendors was an integral part of the “Punjabi culture” Pasteurised milk, on the other hand, usually took two to three days to reach the user and hence was harmful to health.

“Various government organisations have been defaming milk vendors under a conspiracy by organising free milk testing camps in five cities. It is an effort to malign the image of milk vendors. Another campaign has been initiated by certain persons that milk vendors are opposed to the proposed setting up of the dairy board”, said the union spokesman Madan Lal Sharma here today.

Mr Subhash Mukhija, president of the union said though the state government had lifted ban on carrying load beyond a certain limit on motor cycles, the order was not being implemented at the district-level and milk vendors were being harassed account.


Jathas may face insults: Bibi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 25
Joining issue with her successor on several counts here today, Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC President, asserted that without the required amendment in the SGPC Act 1925, it was an insult to the SGPC as well, as the Sikhs to accept a Pakistani Muslim as head of the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and send Sikh jathas to Pakistan.

She was talking to select mediapersons at the office of her close associate Gurjit Singh Khalsa.

Bibi Jagir Kaur claimed that “pardhan sahib (Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC President) was a member of the SGPC general house when a decision to ban Sikh jathas to Pakistan was taken during her tenure.

Former ISI chief-led PGPC had been floated to “divide” Sikhs and to embarrass the SGPC and the Government of India.

“Would one accept the control of the Darbar Sahib by a Pakistan-based chairman of the SGPC”, she asked. She cautioned that Sikh jathas would face insults in Pakistan by those who had floated the PGPC to “violate Sikh rehat-maryada”.

Without naming Mr Talwandi and addressing him as “pardhan sahib”, she dared the SGPC President to prove his often-repeated allegation that she had appointed “Lubanas” and candidates from her Bholath constituency to various posts in the SGPC. All appointments were made on merit and as per the rules, she asserted.

There was neither overstaffing in the SGPC nor 70 per cent of the SGPC budget was being drained on salaries as was being alleged, the Bibi said. Even in SGPC-run colleges, appointments were made strictly according to rules.


Give up slave mentality, Dalits told
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 25
Mr Kiranjit Singh Gehri, President, Dalit Sena, Punjab, said the Dalits would have to struggle to be psychologically independent in today’s world.

Mr Gehri, who was the chief guest at a workers’ conference at Chak Bakhtu village of this district, said most of the Dalit leaders were slaves of the colonial system and only Mr Ram Vilas Paswan was fighting for the cause of the Dalits.

He said, Dalit Sena units would be set up in all villages of Punjab and the work would be completed by December 6, 2001.

He added that the Dalit Sena would organise a conference on the birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar in which the problems being faced by the Dalits would be discussed.

This was stated in a press note issued here today by Mr Harbans Singh, General Secretary, Dalit Sena.


Saplings given at eye camp 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 25
A unique eye checkup-cum environment awareness camp was organised at the local Akal Eye Hospital today where apart from free diagnosis, saplings of various species of shady trees were distributed by the hospital management among at least 1000 patients.

A spokesman of the hospital said the objective of Sadhu Singh Bhaura Memorial Camp was to provide free treatment and conduct operations on needy patients.

He said most eye ailments were caused by air pollution and the only solution to the problem was planting more trees in urban and rural areas.

Environmentalist Ram Singh Dhesi said each citizen should strive to plant more trees for health reasons.


Traders ‘harassed’ by ST officials
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 25
The Punjab Yuva Beopar Mandal (PYBM) has alleged that traders are being harassed by the Sales Tax officials after the Punjab Government took the decision to realise more sales tax from traders.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ashok Garg, President, PYBM, said the traders were being exploited by the Sales Tax officials and the fear of strict implementation of the law and meting out punishment was being created among traders by them.

Mr Garg pointed out that the traders from different states were not coming to Punjab due to the ‘nakas’ organised by the Sales Tax officials. He said the traders in Punjab were being given a step-motherly treatment by the state government and their demands were not being fulfilled.


TSU decides to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 25
Activists of the Technical Services Union (TSU) has decided to intensify their struggle in protest against the Power Minister, Punjab and the Superintending Engineer (SE), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

In a press note issued here today, Mr Karora Singh, representative of the TSU, said the effigy of Power Minister and the SE would be burnt on April 10 to express their rage against the government which had not accepted their demands so far.


IG announces remission for convicts
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 25
The IG, Prisons, Mr K.L. Sharma today announced a remission of five days, per month, of the sentence undergone on the basis of good conduct for each convict of the local district jail. There are about 125 convicts in the jail.

Mr Sharma made this announcement while presiding over the concluding function of the 12-day “vipasana camp” (introspection camp) in the district jail complex here. As many as 11 jail inmates and three jail employees attended the camp.

He appealed to the jail inmates to give up intoxicants and adopt meditation to live a peaceful life. He asked the administration to make arrangements for the mental check-up of the jail inmates after every three months. He announced honorarium and appreciation letters for those employees who contributed to the success to the camp. He also gave away mementoes to the campers.

Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, asked Mr Sharma to arrange such ‘vipasana camps’ in other jails of the state.

Mr Gurmukh Singh Sidhu, who imparted training of ‘vipasana’ at the camp, urged the jail authorities to make arrangements for daily practice for those who had got training at the camp.


57 kg opium seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 25
The sadar police on Saturday arrested Avtar Singh, Jasbir Singh and Lakhwinder Singh of Amritsar and seized 57 kg of opium from their possession.

Mr Harchand Singh Sidhu, SSP, had reminded the subdivisional police that on the eve of harvesting of wheat crop, there had been a spurt in smuggling of poppy husk and opium in the past. Poppy husk was freely available in Rajasthan province bordering this subdivision and opium had been smuggled from Madhya Pradesh en route Rajasthan.

There has been a check on gold smuggling from across the international border due to fencing and lower margin. There has been only one big catch of gold in the Fazilka sector near Chuhrianwali village during last three years. The consignment was received on this side of the border through tubewell pipes.

Sources said a police party, led by SHO Nagaur Singh, got suspicious about a truck loaded with bananas and parked at a kutcha road link near the Ramsara village drain. DSP Gurmeet Singh Randhawa was informed of the matter. When the police party searched the truck in Mr Randhawa’s presence, a tin drum was located hidden under the banana bunches. Upon opening it, the police found opium weighing 57 kg. All three occupants of the truck were taken to sadar police station here.

The arrested persons were produced before a judicial court here and remanded in police custody for further interrogation. Sources said all of them were today sent to Amritsar for further questioning. Preliminary questioning has reportedly revealed that the opium was brought from Madhya Pradesh and was to be taken to Amritsar.


2 constables held
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 25
Two constables Surjit Singh and Parminder Singh have been arrested and a case has been registered against them under Sections 399 and 411 of the IPC.

According to police sources, following efforts of the CIA staff the arrest of the constables became possible.

Mr Deepak Kumar, son of a gold dealer from Jagraon, was reportedly stopped by the constables on the pretext of a search on March 3. Mr Deepak Kumar was carrying gold and cash in a briefcase.

He was asked to prove the validity of gold and cash.

Mr Deepak went to contact his father on the phone leaving the briefcase with the constables.

But when he returned he found that the policemen had slipped away with his briefcase.

According to police sources, Surjit Singh, who was with the CID wing of the police, was on leave since March 1.


Liquor vend looted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 25
Three persons looted 28 bottles of wine and Rs 2,700 cash from a liquor vend at Lakhanpal village late last night.

According to the police, the trio came to the vend and ordered for some bottles of liquor which were given to them by the vendor Gobind Singh.

But when he asked them to pay, they refused and roughed him up before fleeing with the amount and bottles. A case has been registered.

In another incident, thieves struck a mobile phone outlet at Waryam Singh Nagar and decamped with mobile phones and other accessories worth about Rs 25,000 last night.

Mr Sanjiv Joshi, owner of the outlet, said he came to knew about the incident only in this morning when he came to open the shop and was told by his landlord about the open shutters of the shop.

He said a complaint with the police has been lodged and a case registered.


Ludhiana woman dupes 22 persons
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 25
A fraud involving a Ludhiana-based woman, who duped 22 persons of Rs 60 lakh, came to light when they presented themselves before the media yesterday. The lady had promised them migration to Canada in lieu of Rs 2 lakh each.

Interestingly, all affected persons had also paid an additional sum of Rs 22,000 each on an assurance from her for getting dollars in exchange. The lady also took Rs 10,000 each from these persons on the pretext of getting them voting rights in Canada.


Inquiry ordered against “erring” invigilator

Dharamkot (Moga), March 25
An overly duty-conscious invigilator who disallowed a student to go out and relieve himself during the board exams, is all set to face an inquiry.

Amandeep Singh, a Class X student, had sought permission to ease himself during the mathematics paper, but was told by the Superintendent to wait till the exam was over.

In a complaint to the District Education Officer (DEO), Chairman of the board and the Education Minister, Amandeep’s father, Mr Jaswinder Singh said his son had to write the exam in “utter discomfort”, which could cost him crucial marks.

“How can a 16-year-old be expected to concentrate on his paper with a full bladder?” he asked.

It is learnt that the DEO, taking serious cognizance of the matter, has ordered an inquiry against the “erring” invigilator. UNI


Students criticise exam postponement
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 25
In a memorandum to the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, post-graduate students of three major Government Medical Colleges have decried the postponement of examinations till September or later than that.

The students feel that if examinations are held in July or August it will help them complete their courses in time. They said MD/MS student of their batch had already suffered a lot due to delays and by a recent government notification further delay was possible.

Accusing the university of having a ‘partisan attitude’ towards suggestions given by principals of three medical colleges, the students fear that their career could be affected due to delay in examinations. 

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