Monday, April 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Sukhbir denies govt talks with Zaffarwal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 8
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Rajya Sabha member and General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), has categorically denied that the Punjab Government is having any dialogue with Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and other hardcore militants. He charged senior Congress leaders, particularly Capt Amarinder Singh, for spreading such rumours to defame the ruling party and mislead the people in the state.

However, he made it clear that if any militant wanted to return to the mainstream, his party would welcome the step.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said the state government was committed to maintaining peace and communal harmony in Punjab.

Mr Sukhbir Badal admitted that there was a shortage of power supply due to shortfall of rain and low water level in the Bhakra Dam. However, the government was taking necessary steps to improve the power situation by seeking help from the Centre and the Himachal Government.

Two more 250MW units would be set up at the Lehramohabbat thermal plant, Bathinda in this connection, he said.

Mr Sukhbir Badal ruled out only possibility of conducting early Assembly elections in the state.

In reply to a question, Mr Sukhbir Badal said he had received many complaints regarding the functioning of the local Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and he would discuss the issue with the Vice-Chancellor within a day or two.

He informed that the state government had allocated Rs 10 crore for the construction of university complex on the Faridkot-Talwandi road and work was likely to start in the next two months. He said the state government had also decided to hand over the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital to the university to make its working more effective.

He said several development projects, including a housing colony and a focal point on the Faridkot-Kotkapura road, besides a nursing college, would come up in the district in the next four months.

Later, Mr Sukhbir Badal inaugurated the first website started by the district administration and the district cultural society to provide in-depth information about the district’s past and present.

He also inaugurated a medical conference at the Government GGS Medical College and laid the foundation stone of a Rs 1.9 crore shopping complex of the local improvement trust.


‘Include NRI Sikhs in SGPC’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Nangal Khurd (Hoshiarpur), April 8
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) must give representation to overseas Sikhs, says Mr Didar Singh Bains of the USA and former head of the World Sikh Organisation.

“There is a substantial Sikh population outside India which needs to be given representation in the SGPC. This will help not only in better coordination and management of Sikh affairs but also facilitate in solving most of the ‘Panthic problems’ amicably ,” said Mr Bains who is here in connection with the bhog ceremony of his father, Gurpal Singh, who died in the USA on December 31 last year.

Talking to The Tribune at Dera Bishanpuri, Mr Bains said though a new body called the North America Gurdwaras Management Committee has been set up, the SGPC must give the overseas Sikhs in general and the Sikhs in America in particular a fair representation.

Mr Bains maintained that when he visited India the last time in connection with the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa, he had urged both the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, to review the “black list” of overseas Sikhs.

“I think there are still a large number of educated and highly qualified professionals, including doctors, engineers and university professors, in the black list. They were never involved in any criminal activity. Their only fault was that they felt emotionally disturbed at incidents back home, including Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots. They expressed their sentiments against these events.”

At that time, they had promised to review the list. I do not say that they should abolish this list. If there are people who have a criminal record and are wanted in heinous and serious crime, let their cases be investigated. But in other cases, the government must not prolong the agony of well- meaning professional and respectable Sikhs and delete their names from the list and permit them to visit their motherland,” Mr Bains said, hoping that on his way back to the USA next week, he would try to call on both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, to impress upon them the need to review the black list.

Mr Bains said though he has no plans to make any investment in India or Punjab, he would love to leave a retired life in his native village here.

Mr Bains also supports general amnesty for all. “Those who have been languishing in jails for a long time must be released forthwith. They have already undergone sufficient punishment.

“And those who want to surrender and join the mainstream, let them lead a normal life,” said Mr Bains with reference to Khalistan Commando Force chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, maintaining that while he headed the WSO, he often knew about all those involved in the struggle for Khalistan.

He said, “Sikhs outside are generally very emotional , sentimental and independent people. Their emotional outburst should not be construed as approval for terrorism or militancy. I must say from my experience that the majority of the Sikh community is good and nationalist.”

“The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is a good friend and we are with him,” Mr Bains said, adding, “but now I am tired and want to live a retired life.”

Mr Bains lauded those who were ploughing back some of their earnings under the Village life Improvement Programme in their villages here. For all those who migrated, the initial struggle was to settle themselves, then settle their families and then came the villages. Some of them were now making investments in their home districts and some were keen to do something for the state, he said.

Earlier, among those who paid rich tributes to Gurpal Singh were the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Union Chemical and Fertiliser Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a former Punjab Education Minister, Mr Umrao Singh, and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, and heads of various Sikh sects and deras.


CM’s move on “blacklisted” Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 8
The Punjab Government has approached the Central government to revise the list of “blacklisted” Sikhs who are living abroad and do not come to India due to their alleged links with terrorist outfits.

This was disclosed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab while talking to mediapersons at Nangal Khurd village near Mahilpur, this morning. He said that names of many innocent Sikhs, who had no links with any terrorist outfit, had been included in the list based on false complaints.

Mr Badal said that there was no government move to get KCF Chief Wasan Singh Zaffarwal to surrender. However, if he willingly surrendered himself, it would be welcome. About the honouring of those who provided information of corruption cases, Mr Badal said the scheme had been dropped for certain reasons.


Unfinished work in coop sector
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
When the SAD-BJP government looks back at the end of its present five-year term, it will discover, despite showing initial initiatives, that it is leaving unfinished tasks. One such unfinished task pertains to the promised revision of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, and structural reforms in the working of cooperative banks.

Punjab has also not been able to put in place the Self-Reliant Cooperatives Act, a referential Act for adoption and adaptation based on the Brahm Perkash Committee report, the Ramakrisnayya report on the Andhra Pradesh Act study, the AP Mutually Aided Cooperative Societies Act, 1995, and the Mirdha Committee report. This was so despite action on all these “reforms” in co-operatives being initiated by none else than the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in 1998.

In fact, the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, in his 1998 Budget speech had said, “The system of agricultural cooperatives in our country is plagued by bureaucratic and political interference at many levels. As part of a concerted programme to revitalise the cooperative sector, the government will shortly bring forward a model cooperative law to replace the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984, and will encourage the states to make similar amendments to their own Acts”.

It was in this backdrop that the then Financial Commissioner, Cooperation, Mr Rajan Kashyap, constituted a committee on rewriting the Punjab Cooperative Socities Act, 1961, and suggesting structural reforms to improve and professionalise the working of the cooperative banks. A perusal of the record available with TNS shows that even at the last ‘’review’’ of the Department of cooperation in February last, the item on “structural reforms in the cooperative sector’’ was deferred on the plea that it would create “confusion and dyarchy’’ in the administration of cooperatives in the state.

The state has with it a draft of the Punjab Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 1999, containing 57 amendments, approved by the Council of Ministers. It was never placed in the Vidhan Sabha. In the same way the report on structural reforms is gathering dust. The irony of the situation is that despite meetings at different levels, beginning with the first one on April 13, 1998, chaired by Mr Badal where he first initiated the idea of “reforms’’, till February 2, 2001, the entire exercise seems to have gone waste and the “reforms’’ continue to remain in limbo.

Nevertheless, in a bid to “free’’ the cooperatives from “undue’’ controls, including bureaucratic, professionalise the system making it people-friendly and people-oriented, instructions have been issued by the Registrar, Cooperatives, Mr Suresh Kumar, at least on one aspect of the “reforms’’—human resource development through improvement in housekeeping, training and refresher courses for the staff engaged in cooperatives all along the administrative hierarchy.

These instructions, sources told TNS, were based on the report of a committee on “Training Policy Vision 2010 Circa’’ submitted on May 11, 2000.The committee was headed by the Additional Registrar, Mr Bhupinderjit Randhawa.

As per a circular a training schedule has been drawn up for the department officers from the deputy registrars down to various institutions, including the one at Pune. The training is three-tier: induction, orientation or refresher and specialised. Familiarisation will be as much with the cooperative institutions as with cooperative societies and unions. Stress will be on modern management techniques, including cooperative marketing, credit and financing, agro-processing, banking and, of course, computer and information technology.

The training programme is aimed at the “sensitisation’’ of the staff and imbibing of the principles and values of cooperatives and management in the emerging social, economic and political environment by adjusting to global and open market influences.


‘Gullidanda’ hits wheat again
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Pamal (Ludhiana), April 8
The dreadful weed, ‘gullidanda’, which caused havoc for the wheat growing farmers in the early 90s and according to the state government was controlled, has raised its ugly head again and caused severe damage to the crop.

While reports of the spread of the weed have come up from allover the state, the incidence is the highest in this district. A survey by The Tribune revealed that almost 90 per cent of the cultivated area under wheat is infested by this weed. The farmers claim to have suffered a loss as the yield per hectare has reduced sharply. According to estimates, almost 25 per cent of the yield is lost.

While PAU scientists attribute the spread of the weed to overuse of chemical weedicides, the farming community has blamed the government, scientists and the quality of chemicals for their ordeal. They allege that the chemicals sprayed were not checking the growth of the weed and little advice or help had come from the scientists or the government.

The problem stares at the face of the government which had claimed of having provided the proper remedy of the weed to the farmers. A survey of many villages, including Mullanpur, Bassian, Waraiach, Mullanpur Dakha, Kila Kailpur and Lalton Kalan, revealed that almost all fields were heavily infested. The weed was more visible than the crop itself.

Even at Laddowal village, where the state government has a research farm, the fields were heavily afflicted by this disease.

Mr Manjeet Singh, a farmer from Hambran village, said that 90 per cent of the fields in his village were attacked by gullidanda. He said, “Due to the attack of this weed, we will lose 4 to 5 quintals of wheat per acre. This is a big loss to us.”

Mr Gurmeet Singh Bassi from Lalton Kalan village said that he had used ‘Topic’, a weedicide chemical which cost him Rs 600 per acre. “But the gulli danda is still standing. This is known to be the costliest and the best method, but it has failed in my fields. What should I do now? It seems our agriculture is doomed. Sometimes it is affected by bad weather and sometimes the policies of the government. Now it is this weed,” he rued.

While the farmers have their own tales of woe, experts at PAU blame the farmers for the comeback of gulli danda. They say that the injudicious use of chemicals has resulted in this situation.

They say, “Due to the overuse of chemicals, the weed has developed resistance to these toxics. So they have stopped affecting it and it is growing. We had advocated against the overuse of chemicals, but nobody paid heed”.

Botanically known as Phalaris minor, the weed competes with the crop for nutrients and being sturdier, outgrows the wheat. Scientist recommend the use of “Topic” for controlling it. But it must be used within the recommended doses.


Drugs major problem in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The use of drugs has become a major problem in Punjab. The worst affected are youth. Every third male and every seventh female student in the state has “tasted” drugs. And this figure is official, based on a survey conducted by the state Health Department authorities.

“We are really worried. The situation has turned alarming on this front,” said a senior officer of the state government when quizzed in this connection. In fact, certain measures had been proposed to the government to tackle the situation, he added.

The Malwa belt, facing economic destabilisation for the past some years because the setbacks on the agriculture front, has slipped into the poppy husk trap. Visit any village in this belt and you will find poppy husk addicts and users in substantial number. While poppy husk peddlers and smugglers have made a fortune out of this business, the state authorities have not shown the desired concern to curb the menace.

Lately, the distribution of poppy husk has become a part of election campaigns in the state. The use of poppy husk is not confined to the Malwa belt. People in other parts of the state are also using it because it is cheap as compared to opium.

Top official sources told TNS that the state government had been requested to take up with the Union Government the issue of bringing the use of certain intoxicating salts in various medicines under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. By doing so, the sale of such medicines could be regulated by the authorities.

Under the Act, the Union Government can issue a notification declaring certain salts or chemicals used in various medicines as narcotics. The state government would have to make a request to the authorities concerned in the Union Government in this connection, the sources said. Once the notification is issued, the state government authorities will be in a position to authorise only a very limited number of chemists to sell such medicines, as is done in the case of other medicines covered under the Act.

At present, there are a number of cough syrups containing codeine phosphate. Likewise, there are many other medicines having dextro-proxyphene in their formulation. Such medicines are commonly taken as drugs, mostly by students and other youth. At present the use of these salts in various medicines is allowed.

Besides forwarding the proposal to the state government, social action has been planned to check the drug menace. Meetings have been held with chemists at places like Phagwara requesting them not to sell cough syrups and other medicines which are commonly used as drugs to young persons. They have also been told not sell such medicines without a valid prescription. However, the officials concerned say the securing of a prescription is not difficult these days keeping in view the large number of doctors and quacks in every city.

Chemists and non-government organisations have also been urged to organise seminars and lectures against drugs in schools and colleges and exhibit video films in cinema houses.

Recently, the Sikh high priests had expressed their concern at the growing menace of drugs, especially the use of poppy husk, in the state. They had urged politicians and the state government to take steps to eliminate it.


Tandon: 300 crore for civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
The Punjab Government has declared 2001 as the year of development and many ambitious projects will be undertaken by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) at an estimated cost of Rs 1,905 crore.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, Labour and Employment, who was here today to lay some foundation stones and inaugurate a market developed by the local Improvement Trust, said while talking to mediapersons that the state government had arranged a loan of Rs 300 crore from HUDCO which would be used in providing civic amenties.

Sources in the local municipal council said shortage of funds with the local body had hit the development works severely and now a loan of Rs 58 crore from HUDCO had been sanctioned to carry out the development works in the city.

Mr Tandon said Rs 100 crore had been reserved under the Urban Development Fund which would be spent to provide civic amenities in different cities. Many roads, including the Ludhiana-Chandigarh, Ludhiana-Ferozepore, Chandigarh-Patiala and the Chandigarh-Nawanshahr-Phagwara roads, would be four-laned at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

To control the problem of encroachments on government land, it had been decided that the encroachers would be given a chance to own the land legally.

The price of the land would be determined in accordance with the prevailing market price and 50 per cent of the market price would be charged from those who had encroached upon more than 1 kanal of land.

It had been decided to avoid litigation and undue harassment and chance would be given only to those who had encroached upon the government land more than five years ago, he added.

The civic authorities had been directed to construct parking slots, of three stories each, in cities to control the problem of traffic.

Replying to a question, he said the state government had formed a foreign employment cell to help those seeking employment in foreign countries.

The application for registration for the cell could be obtained at the local employment offices of the districts.

Mr Tandon, however, evaded reply to a question regarding the employment in government departments and the blanket ban on all types of recruitment, which was lifted recently, reportedly keeping an eye on the coming Assembly elections in the state.


Machhiwara bridge stone laid
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Machhiwara, April 8
Thousands of people gathered on the Machhiwara side of the Sutlej river, on the Machhiwara-Rahon road, to watch their dream of a bridge come true.

Interestingly, there were more people watching the construction work of bridge going on than those listening to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who laid the foundation stone of the bridge.

The bridge to be completed within 18 months is being claimed as the start of the infrastructure revolution in the Sidhwan-bet area. The area has remained backward because of a poor road network and lack of bridge on the Sutlej. The bridge will connect Machhiwara, to Jammu and Kashmir, Pathankot and Dasuya area, reducing the distance between Khanna and Hoshiarpur by about 42 km.

The bridge is being constructed by Chandigarh-based V.K. Sood Engineering and Construction company. It is important not only for the rural public but from the defence point of view also. It will reduce congestion on the GT road in Jalandhar, Phagwara and Ludhiana.

Addressing a mammoth gathering, the Chief Minister declared, “The government will spend about Rs 100 crore on the Khanna-Nawanshahr road, including Rs 30 crore on the bridge. About Rs 40 crore will be spent to widen the road to 33 feet. An overbridge at the Khanna railway line and two bypasses at Rahon and Samrala are also planned under the project.’’ Five other small bridges would also be constructed on the Sirhind canal, Chamkaur drain, Kum drain, Old Sutlej drain creak no 1 and no 2, he added.

Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Public Works Minister, Punjab, said, “The government intends to build and repair about 8000 km roads in the current year. It will cost about Rs 2,700 crore to complete this work. The work on all the roads will be started before June 30.”

Mr Charan Singh Atwal, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Minister of State for Public Works, Punjab, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, Mr Mohan Lal, MLA from Banga, and Mr Nandlal, MLA from Balachaur, were also present at the function. 


Third front rallies from April 17
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 8
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia member, Rajya Sabha, and President, Lok Bhalai Party, said here today that the People’s Front (third front) would organise rallies in all the states to expose the corruption of the BJP-led Central Government and against the exploitation of the religious sentiments of the people for self-promotion.

Mr Ramoowalia told The Tribune that the first such rally would be held in Lucknow on April 17. The Punjab rally would be held in Ludhiana in the last week of April.

The senior leaders of the front namely Mr Jyoti Basu, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Laloo Parshad Yadav, Mr Deve Gowda and others would address these rallies.

Mr Ramoowalia said that the political polarisation was taking place in the country and in Punjab too, this would be effective very soon.

He claimed that in Punjab, 80 per cent of the people were against the ruling Akali Dal and the Congress. They were ready for the third front as an alternative, he claimed.

He alleged that in Punjab votes were purchased with black money and the courts were also censuring the government in the state.

The secular forces in Punjab were getting united.

Mr Ramoowalia charged the Central Government with using money power for propaganda.

The Lok Bhalai Manch chief also assailed the Punjab Chief Minister for promoting dynastic rule in the state.

“The entire focus is on money making and the Chief Minister has completely forgotten issues like the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and settlement of river water issue, for which the Akali Dal launched a dharam yudh morcha and put Punjab into a period of turmoil.

Why is the Chief Minister not talking of these issues”, he asked.

Unemployment was also on the rise in Punjab, he said.


Mofar ‘betrayed’ party
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 8
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann described Mr Ajitinder Singh Mofar, his party MLA, who recently joined the Congress, “traitor” to the panth, as he had joined a party responsible for Operation Bluestar, anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and bringing disgrace to the Sikh women. He has stabbed the Sikhs in the back. He called upon the Sikh community to boycott Mr Mofar.

Mr Mann was addressing a meeting of party workers in Sulisar Sahib gurdwara in the district yesterday.

The meeting was called to take stock of the situation after the joining of Mr Mofar the Congress. He said Mr Mofar had joined the Congress to win in the next Assembly election, but he would not be allowed to do that. He said both Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief and Mr Mofar would be taught a lesson. He said none of the party worker except, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, has left the party.

He said Mr Mofar was and is ungrateful as he had betrayed the party which made him an MLA and party vice-president and arranged his visits to England and the USA, thrice.

He added splinter groups of the SAD would unite after April 20 on the return of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra who had gone abroad. Mr Mann also nominated Mr Gursewak Singh Jawaharke as the president of his Akali Dal for Mansa district as the seat had fallen vacant after the joining of Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, former president, the Congress with Mr Mofar. He also appointed Mansa block president Mr Harcharan Singh advocate. Among others Mr Charan Singh Luhara, Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala both state general secretaries, Mr Barjinder Singh Mansahia, Mr Jaswinder Singh Bhaini and Mr Simranjit Singh Sekhon addressed the meeting.


Tohra must reconsider decision: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has appealed to the former SGPC chief and President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, to reconsider his decision on joining hands with the Congress.

Talking to The Tribune here this morning, he said Mr Tohra must draw a lesson from history as anyone who had trusted the Congress had been cheated.

Mr Dhindsa said the Congress had always been “anti-Sikh”. He said his vote had not been declared invalid in the Nanded Sahib Gurdwara Management Board as claimed by Mr Tohra. Votes cast by Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder were declared invalid as these were by mistake put in the same envelope.

Mr Dhindsa said in that election while some Congress MPs wanted to cast their vote as per their conscience, a formal directive was issued to them by the party high command to vote for Mr Tohra and Mr S.S. Libra.

This clearly proved that the Congress had backed Mr Tohra and Mr Libra in the Nanded Sahib elections, Mr Dhindsa added.


Heart diseases “on rise among urbanites”
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 8
Delivering the key note address at a seminar on “Management of Heart Problems”, Dr V.M. Kohli, Chief Cardiac Surgeon, Dayanand Medical College (DMC), Ludhiana, said heart diseases were rising alarmingly especially, among the urban population.

Dr Kohli added that nearly nine per cent urban population, mostly young persons between 35 and 40 years, was suffering from different heart diseases these days.

The seminar was organised by the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in which more than 100 doctors participated here last night.

Dr Kohli also said that giving up smoking, management of stress, relaxing exercises, yoga, control of high blood pressure and diabetes, and dietary precautions could help cure and even prevent heart diseases. He said low-fat diet, vegetables and fruits etc had protective effect on the heart.

Dr Surinder Singla, secretary of the local unit of the IMA emphasised the need for providing health education to the people to prevent various diseases at the initial stage. He also stressed the need of a tobacco-free society. He said the IMA, Punjab was planning to launch “quit tobacco for health” campaign from May 31 next, the “World No-Tobacco Day”.

Dr B.L. Jindal, a retired Civil Surgeon, emphasised on educating rural persons on preventive and curative aspects of various diseases, including heart.

Dr Nirpal Singh, President of the Sangrur IMA, said the association had been organising such seminars to update knowledge of doctors on latest diagnostic techniques and treatment of diseases.

Dr C.P. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, lauded the association for organising the seminar for doctors and the public.

Dr V.M. Kohli, was also honoured by the association for his services in the field of cardiology.


Youth conference concludes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 8
The two-day all-India conference of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) ended here last night giving a clarion call to the youth of the country to strongly oppose the policies of the Central Government with regard to globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation.

The conference also called upon the pro-people forces to join hands in launching a campaign to expose the brutal face of globalisation and its ill-effects and the so-called economic reforms.

The conference also appealed to the youth of the country to fight against the imperialistic policies of the Group-7 countries which were trying to capture the economies of the under-developed and developing countries.

The conference also condemned the deliberate game plan of interference in educational and administrative matters by the BJP-led government with RSS elements. It expressed anxiety over the withdrawal of volumes of history, documenting the Indian freedom struggle, edited by historians of high academic repute and credibility, and rewriting of history to suit the Saffron needs.

The conference also adopted several resolutions, including condemnation of increase in college and university fee, criticism of criminalisation of politics and industrialisation of public offices, education for all, promotion of healthy culture, complete literacy, fight against social evils and anxiety over the expose.

Nearly 200 delegates from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka and Delhi participated in the conference. Four sessions were held to discuss international and national issues concerning the Indian youth and to build a youth organisation to achieve the goals of education, employment, healthy culture, peace and communal harmony.

The conference also elected its first central committee comprising 21 members from all participating states.

Mr D. Vijay from Andhra Pradesh was elected president of the AIFDY while Mr Virender Chaudhari from Rajasthan and Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon from Punjab were elected vice-president and general secretary, respectively. Mr Naseer Shah from Uttar Pradesh and Mr Kamaljit Singh from Chandigarh were elected joint secretary and treasurer, respectively.


Hotel staff, family clash, 4 hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, saved the situation for a family from Delhi which included a newly married couple, who had an altercation with hotel staff in Kairon market on Friday night.

The family had an altercation with the hotel owner over refusal of the hotel management to switch on a generator at night after a power failure. All the four male members of the family, in a duel with the hotel staff, were injured following which the hotel owner called the kotwali police. Meanwhile, the women were locked in their rooms.

Two of the male family members were taken away by the police and the women were also let out. The women tried to fend for themselves and their menfolk throughout the night through a local relative of the family who informed Ms Chawla who approached the SSP, Mr Parmpal Singh Sidhu, for the release of persons in illegal detention as no member of the opposite side was arrested.

The two members were released at 5.30 a.m. The family had come from a visit to Vaishno Devi shrine and were here to visit the Golden Temple and other places on the occasion of a wedding in the family.


Wadala for amnesty to terrorists
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) has demanded that state government should bring all terrorists in the mainstream grant general amnesty to them, who had migrated to western countries due to alleged excesses by the state police during the decade-long terrorism in the state.

Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, president of the SAD (Democratic), addressing a press conference here yesterday said that though the SAD (Badal)-BJP government had been fighting all court cases pertaining to police officers who were allegedly involved in the killing of Sikh youths during those days of terrorism. Why these Sikh militants could not be granted amnesty who had fought for the “genuine” demands of the Punjabis.

When asked about the Congress allegation that free movement of KCF chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal would disturb the hard-earned peace in Punjab and all terrorists should be arrested immediately, Mr Wadala said that there was no such threat instead the state government should try to ensure their participation in democracy by granting general amnesty to them.


British police team visits orphanage
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 8
A team of South Yorkshire police from Northern England today visited “Unique Home”, a rescue home for orphans and spent several hours with these orphans.

The team of police officers led by Mr Michal Venebulz, an inspector, handed over a cheque of Rs 1.3 lakh meant for the welfare of these orphans to the convener of the Unique Home, Mrs Harbhajan Kaur.

Mr Michal said they were committed to help different communities having different cultures in Britain and through out the world.

He further said they were planning to organise a conference on “International Community Policing” in Punjab or Jammu and Kashmir.

“The visit will help us in projecting the true picture about the social and cultural set up of Punjab among the British. That is why we have included 10 Punjabi NRIs in the delegation so as to gain more knowledge about the state,” he said.

The children of the “Unique Home” also presented a cultural programme on the occasion.


Paucity of funds hits construction
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 8
Paucity of funds is holding up the progress of this district and maintenance. Even a mini-secretariat which was proposed to be build here three years back after giving Moga the status of district headquarter has not, so far been built and offices of various departments are situated at different places and remote areas causing inconvenience to the residents of town.

On the other hand three Badals including the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal and also former Union State Minister for Industries Sukhbir Singh Badal who had announced construction of a stadium here and also six community centres in different towns of this district three years ago had not been build and the foundation stones which were laid by them three years ago had been demolished by the villagers where these stones were laid by them.

Similarly government earlier had announced to make the Moga-Chandigarh road four-lane but no work of its construction had so far been started and all the promises made by the Punjab government had been forgotten. All roads leading to Railway station, Gandhi road, grain markets and also certain other areas are in dilapidated condition and no repair work of these has been started.

Under such circumstances certain heads of government, here have occupied local rest houses for residence and also their offices. People of the town have therefore urged the government to make arrangements of all development work announced earlier.


Water shortage worries residents
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 8
Residents of the Kandi area under Dhar subdivision and Bamial block along the Indo-Pak border in the district are a worried lot due to scarcity of drinking water.

Whenever a minister or a bureaucrat visits the area, the residents have raised their demand regarding the shortage of drinking water but in vain.

Mr B. Vikram, Deputy Commissioner, said 42 abadis in Dhar subdivision had been identified for acute scarcity of drinking water. The situation was grim due to a long dry spell.

The Deputy Commissioner has arranged the supply of drinking water in most of these areas through tankers.

Mr Vikram said a majority of the water supply schemes were launched way back in 1973 keeping in view the population of the area at that time whereas the population had increased manifold since then necessitating the augmentation of the existing water supply schemes.

Subedar Parkash Singh, a resident of Dunera in the area, said at times the people had to wait for months to get the piped water supply in certain parts because of the “apathy” of the Public Health Department authorities who took a long time to rectify the faults.

All natural water sources in the area have also gone dry and women can be seen with pitchers on their heads travelling long distance to fetch water.

Mr Vikram said the Public Health Department had received Rs 5.5 crore from NABARD for providing drinking water in the area while it would receive Rs 1 crore within three months.

The problem of drinking water in Bamial block along the Indo-Pak border, however, is different. This block comprises 24 villages which are located between the Ujh and the Ravi rivers. The water available in the area at present contains chemicals which make it unfit for human consumption.


Buddha’s reference in Koran pointed out
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 8
Criticising the Taliban rules of Afghanistan regarding demolition of the world-famous Buddha statues, noted Islamic scholar, Prof Nisar Ahmad Farouqi, has said even the holy Koran has reference about Buddha.

“Can they (the Taliban) banish Buddha from Koran?,” he asked, while delivering a keynote address at one-day seminar on Sufi thought held at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy, here yesterday.

The noted Islamic scholar pointed out that each religion teaches love and respect for others and so does Islam. He made a specific reference to the Taliban act of vandalism at Bamiyan and pointed out that the Koran includes a reference to Kapilwala which was a reference to Buddha. He asked, “Can Buddhism be banished from the Koran?”

Inaugurating the seminar, the Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab Agricultural University, Prof K S Aulakh, observed that Sufism was a philosophy of life and embodied sacrifice, truth, justice, honest living, negation of ego and contentment and love for the divine. He profusely quoted from the Sufi poets like Baba Farid and Bulle Shah.


Reprieve for small plot owners
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
The Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today reprieved the small plot holders of the Green Avenue area by announcing that they would not be displaced from their dwellings for making a ring road.

Mr Tandon, who was here in connection with the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the ring road, assured a delegation of small plot holders that they would not be asked to leave their homes and their pieces of land would not be acquire for executing the ring road project. The delegation which met Mr Tandon today also submitted a memorandum to him, urging him to cancel the notification of acquiring the land for ring road issued by the Chairman of the Improvement Trust.

In the memorandum, the residents pointed out that they were small plot holders and constructed their houses after getting the site plans sanctioned from the Local Municipal Council authorities. Nearly 60 to 70 per cent construction had been done in the streets numbers 3 and 4 which was proposed to be acquired for ring road project, the residents maintained.

They said to acquire that particular area was neither in favour of Improvement Trust, nor of the residents as it would deprive the residents of their basic rights.

Many residents of Green Avenue said Mr Tandon had assured them that their property rights would be kept intact.

The residents would have to pay the minimum charges of development to the Improvement Trust authorities for the same, he added.


5 women hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir (Patiala), April 8
The controversy over the disputed land here took a new turn today when a clash occurred between the rival groups injuring five women.

According to information available, two groups, owing allegiance to the BSP and SAD pelted stones at each other when the SAD group tried to stop the other group from encroaching upon the disputed land again. Women, who were injured included Gurdeep Kaur, Nashattar Kaur, Kamlesh, Asha Rani and Parkash Kaur.

The police has booked Narmail Singh, Dalwinder Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Gurcharan Singh along with the five injured.


11 donate blood
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
The local United Welfare Society organised a cultural programme-cum-blood donation camp here today, at which 11 volunteers, including three women, donated blood.

The camp was organised at Amarpura Basti. Mr Bhupinder Singh, Station House Officer, City Kotwali, was the chief guest.

School children and some folk singers and artistes presented a cultural programme on the occasion.

Blood donors Vinod Bansal and Hardeep Singh, who have donated blood 69 and 29 times, respectively, were felicitated by the District Red Cross Society.

In an another blood donation camp organised by the Dost Welfare Society Mr Balramji Dass Tandon Minister for Labour, Employment and Local Bodies, was the chief guest.

A total of 11 units of blood was collected at the camp. Mr Tandon gave a grant of Rs 50,000 to the society.


Villagers donate 25 lakh for bridge
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 8
The Punjab Tourism Minister, Mr Swarna Ram, on Friday laid the foundation stone of a bridge over Bein rivulet at nearby Lakhpur village. The bridge, with an estimated cost of Rs 35 lakh, is expected to be completed by June 30.

While Rs 10 lakh for it had been granted by the Punjab Government, Rs 25 lakh had been contributed by villagers, an official press note said. When completed, the bridge will benefit the residents of Sangatpur, Chakprema and Lakhpur villages.


Seminar on Gadar movement held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 8
The relevance of the principles on which the Gadar movement was launched by freedom fighters was stressed by the speakers at a seminar to mark the 89th foundation day of the Gadar Party at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today.

Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga, freedom fighter and president of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall Committee, said in his inaugural address that the Central Government’s policy of privatisation and liberalisation was likely to harm small-scale industries and lead to large-scale unemployment in the country.

A paper on “The poem of the Gadar movement — its political, social and culture relevance” by Dr Kesar Singh, a noted Punjabi critic, was read by his wife, Dr Jasvir Kaur.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, Dr Chaman Lal, Mr Harvinder Bhandal, Mr Piara Singh Bhagat, Mrs Lakhbir Kaur, Mr Sawaran Singh Sanehi, Mr Charan Singh Virdi and Prof Ved Vattak, who is the patron of the Gadar Heritage Foundation in California, also spoke on the occasion.


Raising Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 8
The 128 Air Defence Regiment celebrated its 50th Raising Day in the cantonment yesterday.

Lieut-General Naresh Chand, Director-General of the Air Defence artillery addressing the special sainik sammelan, exorted all ranks to be alive to the current security environment and rededicate themselves to the service of nation. The unit, which was raised on April 1, 1951 at Arkonam near Chennai, had performed creditably in the 1965 and 1971 wars by winning accolades and gallantry awards including one Vir Chakra.


Disease hits rapeseed, wheat crops
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 8
Farmers of various villages of this district yesterday complained that their rapeseed and wheat crop had been damaged considerably following a disease and they would suffer heavy losses if no measures were taken to save the crops from disease. They said here yesterday that 10 to 15 per cent damage had been caused to these crops and demanded compensation. 

They added that shortage of canal water, absence of rain and also reportedly due to spurious insecticides supplied to them this year were the causes of this damage. They urged the experts of Punjab Agricultural University to intervene and help the farmers to save their crops from the disease. They said that the leaves of the crops had turned dry, pale and rendered unfit for consumption.


State to curtail paddy area
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 8
The Punjab Government has formulated a comprehensive plan to curtail the area under cultivation from 26.11 lakh hectare to 16 lakh hectare during the next five years to utilise its various resources like quality of soil, ground water and marketing system for other crops in the state.

Initially 24 lakh hectare will be brought under paddy cultivation during the forthcoming season. This was stated by Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Minister for Agriculture, while presiding over a district level farmers training camp here on Saturday.

He said this step had become necessary to improve the economic conditions of farmers in the state.

Mr Badal said the Central Government had selected Gurdaspur district in Punjab to produce the export quality of Basmati rice. Under this plan 1.25 lakh hectare would be covered and the entire financial aid to promote this crop would be borne by the Union Government, he added. A proposal had been finalised to enhance the area under cotton crop cultivation from 4.74 lakh hectare to 6 lakh hectare to get a yield of 17.65 lakh bales of cotton during this year, the minister said. Special measures had been taken to grow more and to improve the quality of sugarcane, particularly in Jagraon, Zeera, Malout, Patran, Amloh, Dhuri and Ajnala, to meet the needs of 22 sugar mills in Punjab, he added. He said to make this programme more effective a registered cane growers scheme had been launched to check the day-to-day demand of the mills during the crushing season.


Breach in minor damages crop
From Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 8
Nearly 250 acres of standing crop was damaged due to breach in Boha rajbaha in Gamiwala, Dharampura, Mander and Saidewala villages in the district. A 90-ft long breach occurred in the said rajbaha as a result of which water spread in large area, causing extensive loss to standing crop. Nearly 150 acres of crop is still under water.

Ms Raji P. Shrivasatava, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Yurinder Singh Hayer SSP Mansa, along with officials of the Canal Department reached the spot to plug the breach with the help of villagers. Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, MLA Budhlada has demanded compensation.


Urban Development Board set up
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
The Punjab Government has set up Urban Development Board to facilitate the development of urban areas in the state.

This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of the district administrative complex near the district jail here today.

Mr Badal said the state government had set up the Urban Development Board with initial fund of Rs 100 crore. In order to relieve the common man of bureaucratic hassles and to see that the entire work of the district administration was performed from one place, his Government had decided to construct district administrative complexes (DAC) at all district headquarters. DACs had already been inaugurated at Gurdaspur, Sangrur and Bathinda, he added. The DAC here would be a five-storeyed complex and would be completed within a time span of 11 months at a cost of Rs 39 crore. 

The Chief Minister said that the four laning of the Zirakpur-Bathinda road would be completed this year. The government had already sanctioned Rs 120 crore for constructing bridges at Sidhwan Bet, Rahon and Mukerian. The international airport at Amritsar was being built at a cost of Rs 80 crore and would be completed within this financial year.

He urged farmers to change cultivation pattern as the water table in the state was depleting due to paddy cultivation.


Shoot-at-sight orders issued

Faridkot, April 8
Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued by the Border Security Force to prevent entry of infiltrators along the Punjab border, and a large number of raiding parties and checkposts augmented for round-the-clock vigil, BSF sources said today.

Taking a serious note of the mass infiltration threat in Punjab by Pakistani ultras, despite wire fencing of the entire 550 km-long state border covering Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore districts, “Operation Night Dominance” has been intensified by the BSF.

The sources said the BSF had information that a large number of infiltrators were waiting to sneak into India to create disturbances, utilising the extension of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. UNI


3 held for looting passenger
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 8
Seema, Aneeta and Rajiv, arrested on the charge of drugging and looting a passenger in a train, were yesterday remanded into police custody for two days.

The victim, Mr Ashok Kumar Rai Chaudhary, Superintending Engineer, ONGC, Agartala, had gone to Dehra Dun in connection with his work. He was approached there by Seema, who coaxed him into visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine.

On the way to Hardwar, Seema, Aneeta and Rajiv allegedly drugged Mr Chaudhary and robbed him of about Rs 10,000, a gold chain, a bracelet, a cell phone and a briefcase containing important documents.

The three were about to escape after flinging Mr Chaudhary near the Phagwara railway station when the local Railway police nabbed them. Mr Chaudhary was rushed to the local Civil Hospital.


Drive to improve primary schools
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 8
As part of a novel attempt, the district administration here has uplifted infrastructural facilities in 23 primary schools under a recently introduced ‘model primary schools’ campaign. These schools are designed to have separate classrooms for each class, besides staff room and headmaster’s room.

All over the state it is a common sight to have children in government schools sitting under tree shades during summer. At places, they are packed like sardines with just one teacher handling more than two classes. There is hardly any primary government school in the district which has the required number of classrooms, required teachers or related study material.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr K.J.S. Cheema, the Deputy Commissioner, said as many as 23 sites had been transformed into new-look centres. These included eight from the Lambi constituency area and five each from the Malout, Gidderbaha and Muktsar areas.

Mr Cheema said an effort had been made to “create an environment in a planned manner where a teacher can take pride in teaching and a student enjoys learning.” There had been support from outside agencies like the Gujarat Ambuja which had funded three schools. The PUDA had also contributed to it. Small facilities like the toilets had also been looked into. The school design had come from the Chief Architect of Punjab.

Various citizens’ organisations had met the Deputy Commissioner. It had been felt that a change was required in the existing staff deployment keeping in mind the new goals. The administration had assured to look in this direction.

“One very small attempt in giving grace to the purpose is asking children to turn up at these schools in proper uniform. Majority of children in these schools belongs to the weakest strata of society. Parents, however, have assured full support here which is a very positive signal for improvement,” Mr Cheema said.

There had been, however, no denial of the fact that even lower middle class parents preferred to send their wards to private schools which had multiplied rapidly, particularly in the past few years.

Mr Cheema said there was no intention for change in the existing syllabi for classes. “There is nothing wrong with the course content. Teachers do not seem interested nor are the students these days as a consequence of emergence of a system that has grown over the years. Informally, an attempt is also being made to introduce English in a more serious fashion.”

A government primary school teacher welcomed the intended change. “I have taught for nearly 32 years in government primary schools. In majority of schools, there are largely far less than the required staff. Often the teachers rely on “intelligent” students of senior sections to take classes. There are several other duties which have to be done by teachers like election duties and population census besides others, but the existing system was far from helpful.”


Headmistress pocketing 102 kids’ stipend
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 8
Inspite of the fact that the Punjab Government spends a considerable portion of its resources on education, the condition of government schools remain pitiable.

Like many other government departmental projects, a major portion of funds allocated to the Education Department are siphoned off by those in power. In one such case, according to Headmistress of Government Primary School, Mohalla Prem Nagar (Old Dara Salam), Mrs Chander Kanta, there are reportedly 160 students on the rolls of class I to class V. However, as reported by the local residents on the condition of anonymity, there are only 58 students actually studying in these classes.

According to information, the government pays Rs 200 to Rs 500 per student per annum as stipend. Thus the Headmistress pockets the stipend of 102 students every year.

Residents of the area while appreciating the stipend scheme of the government to lure children to schools lamented the pilferage by school authorities. They said this was one case in their knowledge and if an enquiry is conducted fairly, many more such cases could be seen elsewhere in the state. They urged the Education Minister to order a high-level probe and punish the culprits.


Cancellation of exam centres sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
As reports of mass copying in examinations conducted by the Punjab School Education Board continue to pour in from various centres in the district, examination superintendents have called for the cancellation of some examination centres and recommended a re-examination.

The situation is no different in Gurdaspur district. In a written statement to the District Education Officer, Gurdaspur, two examination superintendents of centres in Bhullar village and Batala have alleged that there was “outside interference” during the science examination conducted in the morning session and demanded that the centres be cancelled. The complaints were received by Prof Surinder Singh, in charge of the flying squad for examination centre No. 1945 at Government Senior Secondary School, Bhullar, and centre No. 6, Batala.

In a written statement, Prof Surinder Singh, lecturer at Government College, Ludhiana, said five unfair means cases had been detected.

It is learnt that wards and kin of politicians and bureaucrats use pressure tactics in these areas to facilitate copying for their near and dear ones at examination centres where there is a shortage of supervisory staff.


DAV students get degrees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
The Rajya Sabha MP, Mr Lajpat Rai today while addressing the annual convocation of DAV College here, said the RSS was one of most disciplined cadres in the country.

He announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the college. The Principal while delivering the convocation address said that the students should take inspiration from the DAV founder, Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

Over 700 graduates and post-graduates were conferred degrees.

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