P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Capt’s days in power numbered, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Machhiwara (Ludhiana), December 22
Former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today rashed out at the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Badal focussed his attack on Capt Amarinder and claimed that his days in power were numbered.

Addressing a congregation at the historic Gurdwara Charankamal Sahib here today, Mr Badal said the “large-scale atrocities” of the Chief Minister would no longer be tolerated.

Mr Badal reiterated that SAD had nothing to do with the crisis in the Congress. He denied that his party was planning a no-confidence motion against Capt Amarinder. He said there would be no need for it as his (Capt Amarinder’s) government would fall by itself.

When asked whether the SAD would extend support to any breakaway group of the Congress, Mr Badal said the issue would be decided when such a situation arouse.

The religious function turned into a political rally where the Akali leaders made it clear that they had already started doing the spadework for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the state. Mr Badal was accompanied by former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, local MLA, Inder Iqbal Singh, former Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.


Bhattal stays away from office, Amarinder hosts party
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who has been spearheading a campaign to seek change in the leadership of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party (CLP), was unable to attend the office because of slip disc and bad throat.

Dissidents have decided to meet on December 25 to chalk out their next line of action if the high command did not decide the issue by then.

Amarinder hosts dinner

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had a hectic schedule today, threw a dinner party for his associates and supporters this evening. Exactly, How many ministers and MLAs turned up at the party, it was not known. However, dissidents said none of them was invited by the Chief Minister, thus defeating his own reconcillation move.

Only a few ministers turned up in the Secretariat. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, stayed in his office till late in the evening. Among other ministers, who made to their offices today, were Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Mr Raghu Nath Sahay Puri, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Hans Raj Joshan. When questioned, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that he was hopeful that all ministers would soon return to their offices. Similar call was made by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to ministers of her group.

Countering the criticism of Mrs Bhattal, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that he had been all along implementing Congress policies. “There was no need to call the meeting of the Cabinet at present as nothing was on the agenda”.

Hanspal meets legislators

The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, has started holding meetings with senior ministers and leaders of the dissident camp.

This afternoon he met the Transport Minister, Mr Tej Parkash Singh. Earlier, he met Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, top leader of the dissident group of MLAs and former PPCC Chief, Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, who is father of Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, a dissident MLA from Fatehgarh Churian.

Confirming his meetings with Ms Bhattal, Mr Tej Parkash Singh and others, Mr Hanspal told The Tribune this evening that he had been telling these leaders to work together as it would be in the interest of the party in the long run.

Mr Hanspal, said a dissident minister. In fact, certain dissident ministers today refused to meet Mr Hanspal on individual basis. “We have told him to meet us collectively whenever he likes, but we would not meet him on one-to-one basis as it could send wrong signals in our own camp”, said a group of dissident ministers.


Amarinder lays stone of memorial gates
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 22
Congress MLAs from the district Harbans Lal, MLA, Sirhind ,and Sadhu Singh, MLA, Amloh, were conspicuous by their absence at the stone-laying ceremony of four memorial gates here today, though their names were engraved on the stone. It was presided over by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Their absence indicated that the dissident group was still adamant on the change in the CLP leadership. In spite of their absence Congress leaders, workers and their supporters attended the function. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, was the organiser of the function.

Addressing a press conference after laying the stone in memory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Baba Moti Ram Mehra, Diwan Todar Mal and Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan, at an estimated cost of Rs 50 lakh each, he said when the matter had been left to Congress President Sonia Gandhi by both factions so there was no logic in giving conflicting signals now.

Answering a query whether the party had suffered due to dissidence, he said the Congress had a history that whenever the party had faced such a situation it had come out strong.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he along with his ministers would sit in the Secretariat from Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. onwards to hear people’s grievances. On Thursday afternoons he added that he would sit in the Punjab Congress Bhavan along with the ministers concerned . He said he had already issued instructions to all ministers and parliamentary secretaries in this regard. Referring to another question with regard to the absence of both MLAs, he said it was really unfortunate.

Earlier addressing a massive rally at Madhopur village, the Chief Minister said the state government had constituted a committee to commemorate 500 years of Parkash Utsav of second Patshahi Guru Angad Dev, 400 years of Parkash Utsav of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and 300th martyrdom day of Sahibzada Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh . Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, also spoke on the occasion.

Capt Amarinder Singh announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the Madhopur village panchayat for executing developmental works.

Earlier, Mr Narinder Singh Tiwana, sarpanch of the village, presented the Chief Minister with a siropa.


Patiala Diary
Patialvis may want Captain to stay

Will Capt Amarinder Singh go or stay. Social circles and offices in the city are abuzz with rumours in this regard. For the people the future of the city is linked with Capt Amarinder Singh’s future.

Even though it is nearly two years since he took over the reins of the state, development picked up gradually in the city. This was because the Chief Minister laid stress on getting big projects to the city.

These projects include a new township at Baran village on city outskirts. It will have information technology and agro-industry parks, besides a host of other facilities on international lines. The government has recently acquired the land for the purpose resulting in boom in real estate prices along the Sirhind road on the outskirts of the city. Besides this, a multi-crore sewerage project has already which will cover up most of the colonies that have come up in the past 10 years.

Patiala is also being projected as a tourist city due to its proximity to Chandigarh by the new administration. The Baradari Gardens are being given a facelift under another project while a habitat centre on the lines of the Indian Habitat Centre is also in the pipeline.

Other developments include carpeting of all major roads and providing lighting on the Patiala- Rajpura road and augmentation of water supply.

With so much more on the anvil, the people of the city want the Captain to continue as Chief Minister.

Problem of traffic bottlenecks

All major roads in the city may have been widened but the problem of traffic congestion remains. The presence of five railway crossings at places where traffic flow has increased manifold in recent years has not helped. Residents say doing away with roundabouts and constructing flyovers is the only way out.

At present traffic bottlenecks are a common sight in Leela Bhavan area and the Fountain chowk on the Mall. The residents say there is an urgent need of traffic lights at the Children Memorial chowk, adding that the memorial built on the road divider to commemorate those children who had died in a boat tragedy should be retained while doing away with the chowk. Similarly, in the case of the Fountain chowk it is a case of sentiments despite the fact that traffic lights had already been installed at the site, though they are non-functional.

Residents feel that while constructing a flyover on railway crossing No. 22 the government should also simultaneously build a flyover on railway crossing No. 21. — TNS


Badal for CBI probe as liquor baron justifies project
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
“If they are not able to allot me land as per their policy, I will move back to UP where I have offers to develop major commercial complexes all over the state,” says Ponty Chadha, a liquor baron, whose proposal for developing a multi-use industrial park has run into controversy after the leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, demanded a CBI probe into the allotment of 50 acres of land to him.

“I am not asking for any favour. My proposal for developing four multiplexes is in accordance with the 1993 policy of the government, which promises concessions to those who are ready to invest Rs 100 crore or more in the state,” says Mr Chadha, holding that he has been investing in Punjab, his ancestral state, as no one else has done so.

“If they do not accept my proposal, I will just walk out and concentrate on my projects in UP where I have already built a multiplex at NOIDA. I have proposals from both UP and Uttaranchal Governments for developing more such complexes. I am a businessman and will invest only if I am assured of some returns,” he adds.

Former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, however, described the allotment of land at a notional reserve price to Ponty Chadha’s company, A.B. Motions Private Limited, as an “irrefutable instance of the single biggest deal of corruption” and wanted that the entire case be transferred to the CBI failing which the SAD would file public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

While Mr Badal has questioned the fixing of a notional price of land to be allotted to Ponty Chadha’s company, besides allowing its use for commercial purposes, including shopping malls, multiplexes and housing, Mr Chadha said that he had submitted a scheme to the government which its Cabinet subcommittee had approved before issuing him a letter of intent.

“I had purchased land at Ludhiana for developing the state’s biggest multiplex. It cost me Rs 12 crore in an auction. The drawings of the complex are being finalised,” he said, maintaining that he need not buy land for similar projects in open auctions elsewhere as the state policy offers land at a notional rate.

“I am not new to Punjab. Some years ago, I offered to purchase a sick sugar mill at Dasuya. I have turned it into a profit-making unit by increasing its capacity from 2500 tonnes to 6500 tonnes. This mill has made up-to-date payment for the sugarcane crushed by it.

“I also challenge the Punjab Government that in case I withdraw from the liquor trade of the state, its revenue will drop by a minimum of Rs 50 crore,” he said holding that his investments in Punjab would not only add to economic development of the state but also generate jobs for qualified and unskilled youth of the state.

Mr Badal said that the terms and conditions of allotment of land were questionable.

According to the letter of intent, Mr Chadha had to pay only 15 per cent of the actual land cost and the remaining amount was to be paid in 10 years which meant that he would pay the balance amount from the huge profits by selling off land for shopping malls, multiplexes and residential plots.

Further, the industrial policy being quoted by official sources, Mr Badal said, was only for developing industry but in this case 60 per cent of the total land was to be used for non-industrial use.

Mr Badal also questioned other waivers, including 100 per cent exemption on entertainment duty for 10 years, 100 per cent waiver on stamp duty for seven years and payment of instalments of the actual cost of land in 10 years and offering land worth Rs 100 crore for just Rs 20 crore indicated that this party was being favoured. In case the government was keen to seek investments, it should have followed a proper procedure and invited offers.

Mr Chadha admitted that he had submitted a scheme based on the 1993 scheme of the state government as well as its 2003 Industrial Policy.

Mr Chadha agreed that elsewhere commercial property was only auctioned. “But the problem in Punjab has been that real investors are not coming in. They are not doing me any out-of-turn favour. They have offered land to Quark Media and also to Malaysians on much liberal terms. Why should they question me and not others.”


Daler’s 1995-99 tours abroad come under scanner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 22
Pop star Daler Mehndi’s tours between 1995 and 1999 have come under the scanner as the singer has not provided any record of his visits abroad during this period and is also using a passport which had been issued to him after 1999.

These were two of the issues which came up during questioning of Daler by police officials at the Sadar police station since yesterday. Senior police officers, including Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai and SP (City) R.L. Monga, interrogated Daler in the evening today and it was continuing till 8 pm. A local court had remanded Daler in police custody till December 24 in the human trafficking case.

According to sources, Daler is being asked about his accounts as well as clarifications are being sought from him about the record seized from his office. They said the police was focussing on the period from 1995 to 1999 because it was during this period that most of the accused, including Surinder Singh, Tejinder Laddi, Dhian Singh and Gurdial Mama, were allegedly in touch with him. They said though Daler had submitted a record of his tour programmes to the US after 1999, he had not done that for the period before that. Besides, Daler was also said to be using a passport which was issued to him after 1999 which made it difficult to note his movements before that.

The sources said the police was also examining whether persons who had got visas as members of Daler’s troupe could have gone abroad after having returned to the country once. They said while a visa was usually granted for spells from two to four months, tour programmes were usually shorter and a person could very well go abroad again after having returned to the country once as a member of the cultural troupe.

The police is also likely to verify the antecedents of the complainants who have accused Daler of cheating them by taking money from them on the promise of taking them abroad. According to the sources, some of the complaints which seem suspicious will be cross-checked to verify their authenticity.

District police chief A.S. Rai, who was contacted before Daler’s interrogation started in the evening, said he could not question Daler yesterday and a questionnaire had been framed in this regard today. He said the police would be focussing on whether the pop singer was involved in any racket in which people were taken abroad as members of his troupe and then left there.


PRTC privatisation opposed as losses dip
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Since the PRTC have been reduced by Rs 4 crore this financial year, it was not a fit case for disinvestment, said its Chairman Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, here today.

Disagreeing with the government’s move to disinvest the corporation, Mr Gupta said efforts should instead be made to minimise the losses by increasing the bus fare by six paisa per kilometre. The government had decided to disinvest 29 boards and corporations, which were running into losses, and both Punjab Roadways and the PRTC were on the chopping block.

Pointing out that the PRTC losses stood at Rs 8 crore, he said the PRTC had made several recommendations to the state government, to minimise these losses. A proposal to hike the bus fare had already been made to meet the rising input costs, especially of diesel. Even Haryana had recently increased its fare by five paisa per kilometre in one go which Punjab, which was charging 42 paisa per km should follow suit.

The PRTC had also suggested to the government to establish a state transport regulatory authority on the pattern of State Electricity Regulatory Commission to regulate the terms and conditions of fare revision for private as well as government transport undertakings. “We shall identify and surrender 460 surplus posts to further curtail costs, Mr Gupta said.’’

The PRTC Chairman demanded that the state capital contribution and the loans to the PRTC should be converted in to the share capital.

The PRTC owned 912 buses while 120 buses had been hired under the kilometre scheme. Mr Gupta said the corporation planned to replace 100 buses at a cost of Rs 9 crore. It was also planned to construct modern bus stands at Patiala, Phagwara and Faridkot.

The PRTC was planning to tie up with some national companies to run inter-state de-luxe buses.


Museum on Sikhism at Khadur Sahib
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 22
Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, author of Encyclopaedia of Sikhism who introduced Sikhism globally on multimedia in the 21 century, is busy setting up an international multimedia museum at Khadur Sahib (Amritsar). The “talking” museum will be equipped with liquid crystal display (LCD) touch screens, which is the latest audio-visual technology in the world. People without computer skills will also be able to operate the touch screens.

Dr Bains lives in Canada and is offering services voluntarily to the community at large. In an interview, Dr Bains said that a robot was also being used to disseminate information on Sikhism and guide visitors and tourists visiting the first of its kind museum.

The multimedia museum would be the latest tool to provide visual and interactive information, especially to students, teachers, preachers, lawyers and others who wanted to know the religion, culture, heritage and the history of the Sikhs. It would instil a new spirit in the Sikh youth to practise the Sikh philosophy and work for universal peace, prosperity, brotherhood, in a spirit of ‘sarbat da bhala’ (well-being of human race) and the concept of doing selfless service to the human race as a whole. Dr Bains said he had more projects in mind and he intended to set up such multimedia projects in Punjab and Delhi in the near future.

The “talking” museum is the first of its kind in the world which is being erected to commemorate the fifth centenary celebrations of Guru Angad Dev’s parkash utsav falling on April 18, 2004.


Busy day at Wagah
Our Correspondent

A jatha of Hindu pilgrims from Chhattisgarh bound for Pakistan at the Wagah joint checkpost
A jatha of Hindu pilgrims from Chhattisgarh bound for Pakistan at the Wagah joint checkpost on Monday. — PTI photo

Wagah, December 22
A group of 33 students and teachers from Lahore Grammar School for Boys arrived here today for a two-week-long visit to India.

A senior leader, Ms Nusrat Nilopher Ali, who was leading the group, said they were extremely enthusiastic about their tour.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Mr Aziz Ahmad Khan, left for Lahore. Mr Khan, talking to The Tribune before leaving for Lahore, said he was going to Islamabad to prepare the ground for successfully holding the SAARC summit from January 4.

He said Pakistan was willing to talk with the Indian Prime Minister on all issues, including Kashmir, to find a permanent solution to the dispute which had remained unresolved for past several decades. He said the present atmosphere was quite positive.

Besides, a 60-member strong delegation of Indian jurists crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah joint checkpost at about 11.30 a.m. under apprehensions of a last-minute hitch by the Pakistan authorities.

The first delegation comprising judges and advocates of the Bar Council of Punjab and the Haryana High Court were accorded a warm welcome on the Pakistan side.

A high-power five-member team of the Indian Airlines to work out modalities with their counterparts in Pakistan for the resumption of the Delhi-Lahore and Delhi-Amritsar-Kabul flights from January 1 also crossed over to Pakistan.

A spokesman of the Indian Airlines told The Tribune that the delegation would renew the bilateral air agreement which was suspended after the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament House in December, 2001. He said the Indian Airlines (IA) would reopen its office in Lahore and also recruit some local staff.

In another development, a 49-member jatha of Hindu devotees today crossed over to Pakistan to pay obeisance and celebrate the 295th birth anniversary of Sant Shadaram in Sindh. This is the first jatha in the past four years which was granted permission to visit various Hindu places of pilgrimage in Sindh. The Pakistan Government had banned the entry of Hindu jathas in 1999.


SAD elections in February
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The delegate session to elect the next President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal will be held in February, Mr Daljit Singh Cheema, press secretary of the party, said here today.

Besides the 17 districts of Punjab, the SAD organisational elections would also be held in nine states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, West Bengal etc. Delegates would be elected in countries like the UK, the USA, Canada and Germany, where the party has its units.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, a former Speaker of Punjab, has been appointed the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct the elections.

The election process at the district and circle levels would be completed by January 20. Senior leaders of the party have been appointed observers for the elections.


SAD(A) city panel dissolved
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 22
Mr Harinder Pal Singh, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Sangrur city, yesterday dissolved Executive Committee of the city unit at a joint meeting of the city and Sangrur Circle units of the SAD (A), presided over by Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party, here.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh also announced that new office-bearers of the committee would be announced soon.

The meeting discussed preparations for the Panthic Conference to be organised by the SAD (A) on December 25 at Fatehgarh Sahib.

The meeting also warned the Municipal Council authorities here if heaps of garbage were not lifted from the town soon, the party would organise a dharna in front of the council office and a march in the town.


50 murders in 2003
Number highest in past 10 years
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 22
This district bordering Haryana, which is known for large-scale smuggling of narcotics, has also set a record of sorts as 50 murders have taken place in the current year, the highest in the past 10 years.

The spurt in the number of murders in the educationally backward Bathinda district has witnessed 50 murders so as — one murder a week, on an average portrays the deteriorating law and order situation in this area.

Official figures with The Tribune reveal that in 1993 when crimes committed by terrorists were common, the district witnessed 40 murders in a year that went up to 43 in 1994 and came down to 21 in 1995. From 1996 to 1999, the number of murders every year ranged between 21 and 43.

In 2000, 37 persons were done to death in this district and during 2001, the number of murders came down to 25. In 2002, 34 murders took place. In the current year, the number of murders has touched 50.

According to a study of the crime pattern in this district, the reasons behind most of the murders were illicit relations, domestic quarrel and land disputes. During the past four years, the number of murders due to land disputes has declined while those due to illicit relations and domestic quarrel have gone up. The study revealed that in most cases of murder, the accused were relatives of the victims.

The reason of murders was drug addiction.

Out of the total 50 murders this year, 12 were committed due to illicit relations, 11 due to domestic quarrel where the accused killed his near and dear ones on issues like drinking and nine murders were committed by unknown persons.

In 2002, out of the total 34 murders six were committed due to illicit relations, 13 due to domestic quarrel and three over land disputes.

In 2002, nine murders took place dur to illicit relations five due to domestic quarrel and three due to land disputes.

Official figures revealed that firearms were used in two murders while sharp-edged weapons were used in 17 cases.

Police sources said out of the 50 cases of murder, challans had been presented in the court in 30 cases while 16 cases were still under investigation. Three cases had been cancelled and one case was untraced.


Corporate hospitals target Punjabis
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 22
A fat-rich diet, sedentary life-style, some peculiar genes and lack of facilities at government-run hospitals in Punjab have given the “corporate hospitals” a perfect ground to market their services, particularly cardiology, aggressively in the region.

A large number of private hospitals have started marketing their services in the Malwa belt of Punjab.

The tactics adopted by these hospitals including holding free check-up camps, patient education camps, free initial consultation and doctors’ meetings where senior cardiologists interact with their prospective “clients”. Some of these big hospitals have hired major advertising agencies to market their services.

For instance, a Mohali-based corporate hospital dealing with heart aliments has been frequently organising free heart check-up camps in Muktsar, Bathinda, Kotkapura, Mansa, Barnala and other parts of the Malwa region. Similarly, some major heart hospitals of Delhi are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to maximum number of people of the region. These hospitals have even launched concessional schemes for heart surgeries of certain sections of society.

Moreover, the management of these hospitals have started making various prominent medical practitioners of the region their “agents”. They have been hosting dinners for the medical practitioners and mediapersons for getting adequate media coverage of their camps. Gifts are also given to the participants.

“Nearly 10 per cent of Punjabis suffer from heart attacks and these can be attributed to the fat-rich diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and a blood protein called Homosestain. The high incidence said to be the cause of the high incidence of heart disease and hence, it is easy for use to find customers in this region to make the running of our institution economically viable”, said a marketing executive of a Delhi-based hospital.


Impressive creations by special children
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, December 22
Are they the children of a lesser God? This question haunts you repeatedly while you walk among the special children at Pehchaan 2003, the annual cultural workshop of learning and performing for mentally challenged children.

The oppression that weighs upon your mind starts lifting and sad feelings soon evaporate as the sheer optimism and joie de vivre oozing from these children starts inspiring you.

More so when you scrutinise their creations, which have been displayed for sale.

The annual workshop, organised jointly by Navjivini School of Special Education and the North Zone Cultural Centre, is an exercise aimed chiefly at inculcating a sense of achievement and self-esteem in the participants.

Around 300 children from special schools of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal charm their way into the hearts of many an onlooker by their performances which are marked by spontaneity and loads of laughter.

Besides presenting skits and folk dances, the children also learn quite a few skills here, including clay-modelling, candle and card-making.

A class pertaining to the utilisation of waste material has just ended and the tutor Sunil Jethwani hands you his visiting card, which describes him as a “specialist in handicrafts”.

He also points out various gift items made by him while explaining how he makes them.

No big deal in that except that Sunil suffers from Mongolism and Down’s Syndrome — he is a slow learner with an IQ of 55. You look at him in awe, saluting his indomitable spirit as he rattles on enthusiastically about his work.

As you look around, some stalls put up by Special schools catch your attention.

The Navjivini School of Special Education, Sular, has beautiful multi-shaped candles, artificial flowers, gift items made of jute, cards, pots and wall-hangings. The next stall has been put up by Aradhana, a rehabilitation centre for the mentally challenged.

Its secretary, Ms Radha Jethwani, explains that their stress is on products made from recycled material.

On display are exquisite paper carrybags, envelopes, flower baskets, pen-holders, diaries, file covers and “shagun” envelopes.

Ankur Special School from Korba, Chhattisgarh, has block-printed handkerchiefs, pillow covers, bolsters, chalk boxes and bags to sell. Ms Meera Nimje, who represents the school, says the school participates in this workshop every year. This gives the children an opportunity not only to learn but also to interact with their peers at national level.

As Dr N. S. Sodhi, secretary, Navjivini, says the biggest advantage of such workshops is that these translate into tremendous social gain for the children.

“We have nearly 127 children with us and the focus is always to help them become self-sufficient.

That of course depends upon their specific capacity to learn. Self-management is one of the main features of our curriculum,” he adds.

“The products which are sold by these Special schools have been made by the mentally handicapped.

However, in order to compete in the market we have to polish and finish the goods in a professional manner and therefore, the staff steps in and takes over at the very last stage”, elaborates Dr Sodhi. Navjivini will soon offer a two-year Diploma in Special Education (DSE-Mental Retardation).

This is significant in the light of the fact that at present, there is no centre to provide this training north of Delhi, and as trained staff is a pre-requisite for every institution for the mentally challenged, the introduction of this course may well translate into better facilities for the Special children in the region.


Beggars snatch blankets from DC
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 22
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, who had gone to distribute blankets among beggars and street children today, was shocked as beggars lost their patience and started snatching blankets at the local railway station this morning.

In an unannounced move Mr Gupta and Mr Pravin Kumar, ADC, loaded blankets in their official car and headed towards the bus stand and the city railway station at around 7 a.m. The purpose was to target those beggars who were really needy.

Though they did not face any problem in distributing around 50 blankers at the bus stand, it was not so at the railway station. On seeing them approaching with blankets, some beggars snatched blankets from the DC and the ADC, who were without their usual security cover. This forced the officers to go back, leaving a heapful of blankets at the scene.

Later, Mr Gupta asserted that the move would continue and more blankets would be distributed among needy persons, particularly street children.


Residents seek Nihang chief’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 22
Hundreds of residents of the border township of Bhikhiwind under the banner of Action Committee today organised a protest rally at Bhikhiwind. They were demanding the arrest of Baba Ajit Singh Poohla against whom cases under criminals offences have been registered on the complaint of the villagers. Baba Poohla is the head of the Tarna Dal sect of Nihangs.

Besides Col G.S. Sandhu (retd), president of the Amritsar district unit of Punjab and Chandigarh, Ex-servicemen League members were addressed by Mr Pargat Singh Jamarai of the Shahid Bhagat Singh Naujawan Sabha, Mr Balwinder Singh (CPI), Mr Chaman Lal (CPM-Pasla), and representatives of other different political and religious organisations.

They condemned the activities of the Baba for terrorising residents of Poohla village to grab the village historical gurdwara land which is under the control of the SGPC.

The speakers also raised the other demands of the border area. These include the problems of farmers and filling of vacant posts of teacher in the border area schools.

The police had made tight security arrangements.


12 medicines found spurious
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 22
Twelve medicines of the total samples seized by the state drug authorities in Punjab have been found spurious during current financial year.

This was disclosed by Mr Mohan Singh, Drug Controller, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here last evening. He said that cases against manufacturers of these spurious medicines had been registered.

He said the licences of three chemist shops run in nursing homes in Jalandhar and three in Moga had been cancelled. Besides, the licences of 14 more chemist shops have been cancelled and those of 162 chemists and druggists suspended.

The Drug Controller said 26 cases had been filed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act in various courts of the state.


PSEB staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 22
On a call given by the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Forum, various organisation of the PSEB organised a dharna in front of the office of the East Circle, Patiala, to protest against the “anti -employee” policies of the state government here today. The president of the forum, Mr Jasmail Singh Dhindsa, urged the state government to scrap the Electricity Act, 2003. Members of the forum further condemned the government’s move to privatise the board.

The forum further demanded to end a scheme started by the state government to voluntary retire employees working in the board. They added that the various employees who had been retired under the scheme be reinstated. and the absorption of dependents of the employees who had died during their service. The forum demanded the implementation of the comprise reached between the Joint Employees Forum and the board management in July, 2003. Members of the forum presented a memorandum, addressed the Chief Minister to the SDM, Patiala. Those who addressed the dharna were Mr Balraj Sharda, president TSU, Patiala, Mr Joginder Manbar, president AITC, Patiala, Mr Ram Chand Thana Singh, Mr Balvinder Singh and Mr Lakveer Singh.


Community service camp opened
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 22
Municipal Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma inaugurated a 10-day community service scheme camp at the Industrial Training Institute here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharma urged students of the institutes to participate in the camp and work for the uplift of the society. He said such camps were organised to inculcate the spirit of brotherhood and humanity among the students.

Mr Sharma also appreciated NSS programmes being organised in schools. He said the basic objective of the NSS programmes was to socially awaken children so that they could contribute towards the development of the nation.

The Principal of the ITI, Mr V.K Bansal presented a vote of thanks. NSS officer Manshah Ram, Assistant Director Youth Services J.S Butor and councillor Gopal Singla were also present on the occasion.


Xmas procession
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 22
Hundreds of devotees from all walks of life today participated in a religious procession held here today.

The procession was formally started by Dr Symphoiram Keeprath, Bishop of Jalandhar, with a prayer service. The devotees were holding banners carrying Christmas greetings and Biblical themes.


BKU(E) activists stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 22
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) of the region today staged a protest dharna in front of the Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM) office complex here to draw the Punjab Government’s attention towards the problems and hardship of farmers and press the government to redress the grievances of peasants at the earliest.

The BKU (Ekta) activists submitted a memorandum to Mr Jora Singh Thind, SDM, containing their charter of demands. Mr Thind assured the activists that he would forward their memorandum for action to the Punjab Government. He urged them to cooperate with the Barnala administration by offering fodder and wheat straw to overcome the menace of stray cattle in the region. He said he had held a series of meetings during the past couple of days to solve this problem.

The BKU (Ekta) charter of demands included management of stray cattle which create a nuisance in villages and towns,ensuring power supply for the agricultural sector in the region from 7 am to 7 pm continuously, stopping of arrests and decree orders in the case of farmers not in a position to repay loans, an end to the interference of the police in farmer-commission agents dealings besides other demands.

Prominent BKU (Ekta) leaders who addressed those sitting in dharna included Mr Ruldu Singh, general secretary the Punjab BKU (Ekta), Mr Bhogh Singh, finance secretary, Punjab BKU (Ekta), and Mr Hardev Singh Sakrodi, secretary, Punjab BKU (Ekta).

Mr Manjit Singh Dhaner president, BKU (Ekta), Sangrur unit informed this reporter that six farmers’ associations of Punjab would meet at Barnala on December 27 to discuss the issue of stray cattle management.


Dharam Vir is Revenue Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Government today appointed Mr Dharam Vir as Secretary, Revenue. He will also continue to work as Commissioner, Appeals, Patiala and Jalandhar Divisions.

Mr Gurinderpal Singh, has been posted as DIG, Administration, IRB, Patiala, relieving Mr Paramjit Singh Gill. Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Intelligence, has been given additional charge of the post of DIG, Training and Operations, IRB, Patiala.


810 fake VCDs seized, 1 held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 22
As part of a campaign launched against unscrupulous elements, the police yesterday arrested one person, Surinder Singh, who has allegedly been selling fake VCDs at his shop near Gole market here.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said that after getting the information, a police party raided the shop of Surinder Singh and seized 800 fake VCDs and 10 pornographic VCDs from his possession.

He said during investigation of the case, it was apprehended that the suspect might be having links with an inter-state gang of criminals dealing in fake goods. A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 292, 293, 294 and 420 of the IPC and Sections 51, 52-A, 63 and 64 of the Copyright Act at the city police station.

In another case, four cows were found dead under mysterious circumstances near Bhucho Kalan village yesterday after they were unloaded from two trucks by some people. A case has been registered on the complaint of Mr Ram Singh, former panchayat member, Bhucho Kalan village, at the Bathinda cantonment police station.


Hawala money seized
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 22
Nand Lal, a resident of Rajpura, was nabbed by the Rajpura police while ferrying hawala money to the tune of Rs 15 lakh. The money was found hidden inside speakers of the Zen car he was driving.

Rajpura DSP Prithpal Singh Thind, while talking to mediapersons here, said a police party had set up a check post near the under-bridge in the town after being tipped off by a source. He said a police team comprising SI Ajmer Singh, ASI Sukhbir Singh and others was deputed to conduct checks on vehicles.

Mr Thind said the car, carrying the money, was signalled to stop and its driver was nabbed while trying to flee from the spot. A search of the boot of the car, where the speakers had been fitted, yielded the money.

The DSP claimed the accused admitted during the interrogation that he had been ferrying hawala money from Delhi to various towns in the region since the past six months and was paid Rs 800 for every lakh delivered.

The DSP also claimed that the accused used to deliver hawala money from Dubai to Sirhind, Khanna, Ludhiana, Patiala and Rajpura. A case has been registered under Sections 411 and 414 of the IPC.

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