P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress has no role in postponement: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 30
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today claimed that his government did not play any role in the postponement of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

The Chief Minister, who talked to newsmen after attending bhog ceremony of Manjit Kaur, a sister-in-law of Congress Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa at the Sheesh Mahal gurdwara, said his government had only made the Home Ministry aware of the situation in Punjab. He said it was up to the Home Ministry to take a decision in the matter adding his government had still not received official information regarding the postponement of the poll.

Capt Amarinder however said formalities needed for the holding of the elections had not been completed. These formalities, he said, included finishing the process of delimitation of seats and also resolving the issue of voting rights of "Sehajdharis". He said as far as the Sehajdhari issue was concerned, the case was still in court with the next bearing scheduled for July 19. He said the Akalis were resorting to needless allegations on the issue of postponement of the SGPC elections. "The elections were scheduled to be held since 2001, why did they not hold them earlier", he added.

Meanwhile SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, who was here to mourn the death of the mother and BJP Beopar Cell General Secretary Bhupesh Aggarwal claimed the SGPC elections had been postponed under a conspiracy.

Mr Badal said the Congress had again hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs by giving a place in the Union Cabinet to Jagdish Tytler an accused in the anti Sikh riots of 1984. He said similarly Mr Kapil Sibal, who had fought the case of the accused, had also been rewarded the Union Cabinet.

When questioned about the. fate of suspended senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra who recently claimed that the party President was unavailable to him, Mr Badal said Mr Chandumajra could contact him any time. He said he had also requested the Committee headed by former Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to submit a report. in the matter to him at the earliest.


Nothing political was discussed with
Bhai Ranjit Singh: Hanspal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Admitting that he had met former Jathedar of Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh in Amritsar on Friday, the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, said here today that nothing political was discussed during the meeting.

Mr Hanspal said he had met Bhai Ranjit Singh by chance and nothing political should be read into it. He said he had gone to the shop of his relative at Amritsar on Friday when he met Bhai Ranjit Singh, who invited him to his house.

Although his party had nothing to do with the SGPC elections, these should not be held now for various reasons, he said. When Gurcharan Singh Tohra was alive, he had also opposed the SGPC elections, citing celebrations regarding various religious centenaries this year. Tohra had written to the Central Government in this connection, he added.

Mr Hanspal said he had written a letter to Mr Anil Dutta, Mr Surinder Mahey and Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu to convey displeasure regarding the holding of a press conference here a few days ago against Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. However, he said no action was being taken against them.

He said he had asked all party leaders not to air their views in the media but talk about party affairs on organisational platforms. If any leader violated his direction, action would be taken against him or her, he added.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that party candidates, who lost the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, had blamed the state government for their defeat, he said they should also have not gone to the media on this issue. “I have told them to give in writing the reasons for their defeat,” he said.


SGPC’s honour to be maintained, says Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will oppose the move of the Punjab Government to postpone the elections of the SGPC. Describing the step as unfortunate and a clear interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs, the party will initiate all peaceful actions to maintain the honour of the SGPC which is considered as the mini-parliament of the Sikh community. The party is likely to hold a meeting of its political affairs committee shortly to finalise its strategy to check the anti-Sikh activities of the Congress in the state. This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, General Secretary, SAD, and MP and son of former state Chief Minister and SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal while talking to mediapersons here today.

He who had come here to thanks voters for giving him an overwhelming support during the Lok Sabha elections from this constituency. Ridiculing the Congress government which got a defeat in the recent Lok Sabha poll he claimed that the Sikhs would not entertain it in the forthcoming SGPC poll. In reply to a question regarding the exercising of votes by Sehajdharis, he said the matter would taken up for discussion after the outcome of the decision of the new Central government.

Alleging that the state government was responsible for the deterioration of law and order and failure on all fronts, Mr Sukhbir Singh promised to revive all earlier concessions to the people after coming to power. He also promised to fight for the cause of the state in Parliament. Terming the Congress as enemy number one of the SAD as well as of the Sikhs, he, however, said the party would appreciate any measures taken by Dr Manmohan Singh for the betterment of Punjab.


Politics behind SGPC elections
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Everytime there are the SGPC elections, even the ''secular'' Congress gets interested, interfering covertly or overtly, as do Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) factions.

All past Chief Ministers, Akali or Congress, have tried various tricks to find access to the SGPC. To them political exigencies matter more than religious issues.

The present apprehension — whether these elections are held on schedule on July 11 or delayed — and the politicisation of the entire process are once again out to vitiate the atmosphere in the region, particularly in Punjab. This had happened in the run-up to the SGPC presidential elections in 2002 when Capt. Amarinder Singh went overboard to ''help'' the late Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, all in the name of maintaining ''law and order'' or avoiding bloodshed and violence'' in the Golden Temple complex.

Though Mr Badal's candidate, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, had then won by 23 votes, defeating Mr Tohra nominee, Sant Virsa Singh Madhoke, the outcome had bruised Mr Badal, as his protege had polled 10 votes less than in 2001. The situation is different today. Mr Tohra has passed away. The two factions have joined hands and won eight out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats.

However, all is not well within the SAD (Badal) and Tohra factions. There is a calculated move to ''isolate'' SGPC Honorary Secretary, Manjit Singh Calcutta after his comments on the election of Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and his observations on the Congress and Ms Sonia Gandhi.

As if this was not enough, SGPC acting President, Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke effected some key transfers, ignoring the presidium constituted to take important decisions. As a result, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta (stayed away from the SGPC executive committee meeting at Anandpur Sahib on May 28, where the Presidium was disbanded) as no provision for this existed in the Sikh Gurdwara Act. Such a crisis before the SGPC elections reflects the SAD's inner conflicts and contradictions. While doubts persist over the holding of these elections, a formal notification from the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, is expected on June 1.

Several factional Akali leaders have teamed up against Mr Badal. The rival factions want to capture the SGPC and weaken Mr Badal. Those getting together include Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Mr Bharpur Singh Balbir, Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dham, Dr H.S. Dilgir.

The present elections to the SGPC general house were in fact scheduled in 2001. Approximately 54 lakh voters across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh will select 170 members from 120 constituencies. Of these, 50 are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and women. Of the 30 reserved for women, five are for Scheduled Caste women.

For the first time, Sehajdhari Sikhs stand debarred from voting. They number 8,00,000 in the region. Clause 10-A of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, defines ''Sehajdhari'' as a person who 1 performs ceremonies according to Sikh rites; 2; does not use tobacco or kutha (halal meat) in any form; 3 is not ''pattit''; and 4 can recite ''Mul Mantar''. Both ''Keshadhari'' and ''Sehajdhari'' Sikhs were covered by Section 2 in Clause (10) and (10-A), having the right to vote and to become members of the SGPC. The ''Sehajdhari'' Sikhs got the right to vote for the first time in 1959 when PEPSU gurdwaras were brought under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. But that right has been snatched away in the up-coming elections.


Ravi Inder flays Badal on SGPC poll

Jalandhar, May 30
Senior Akali leader Ravi Inder Singh today said that former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was raising unnecessary “hue and cry” over the reported postponment of the SGPC election and wanted to know the source of his information in this regard.

“Badal should clarify who told him that the SGPC elections are going to be postponed,” the President of the Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) told PTI.

“Badal’s claim of knowing the internal decision of the Congress to postpone the SGPC election shows that he is having some nexus with the Congress at higher level,” Ravi Inder Singh alleged.

Mr Badal’s statement on the SGPC election came after the rejection of his plea in the corruption case pending against him in Ropar, Ravi Inder Singh said. “This shows that since Badal knows he can be in trouble after July 7, when the Ropar court is likely to frame charges against him, he is trying to get political sympathy by confusing the SGPC voters,” he alleged.

He claimed it was not the Congress, but the SAD, which had postponed the SGPC election since 2001. “In March this year also, during the leadership of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a resolution was passed by the SGPC for not conducting the Sikh supreme body’s election in 2004,” he added.

During last three years, Mr Badal managed to postpone the election on one pretext or the other to continue his “illegal hold” on the SGPC, Mr Ravi Inder Singh said, claiming that Mr Badal’s defeat in the SGPC poll was sure. — PTI


SAD in favour of siropa for Manmohan Singh

Patiala, May 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said that it was in favour of honouring Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with a siropa at the Golden Temple.

“We are in favour of bestowing a siropa on Dr Manmohan Singh at the Golden Temple whenever he would like to visit the shrine,” SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today said while talking to reporters here.

However, on the issue of the postponement of the SGPC elections, Mr Badal criticised the Congress, alleging that the Congress governments in the state and at the Centre were interfering in the Sikh religious affairs by initiating the move of postponing the SGPC elections.

Mr Badal alleged that the Congress wanted to grab the SGPC by adopting unethical means.

He said that Punjabis, comprising Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and others, were with the SAD and this was evident in the recent Parliament elections, where the SAD-BJP combine got a massive mandate.

The SAD president alleged that the Congress wanted to tamper with the SGPC voters’ lists. “The idea is to include bogus voters by excluding genuine Sikh voters.”

Mr Badal said a political affairs committee (PAC) meeting of the SAD has been convened on June 1 in Amritsar to discuss the issue of the SGPC elections.

When asked about the row between the SGPC chief Secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta and Acting President Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, Mr Badal said it was a family affair and would be resolved very soon. — UNI


Cong interfering in Sikh affairs: Sekhwan
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 30
“The Congress is directly interfering in the affairs of the Sikhs under a deep-rooted conspiracy as is evident from the reported postponement of the SGPC elections scheduled to be held on July 11.

Talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib near here today, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, a former Punjab minister and an observer of the SAD for the district unit of the party organisational elections, further alleged that the Congress wanted to give the control of the SGPC affairs in the hands of those who would act as per its wishes. He also stated that the Congress had not made Dr Manmohan Singh Prime Minister not because he is a Sikh, but due to its own compulsions.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the SAD, said the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections had proved the supremacy of the SAD. This was the main reason that Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, was putting pressure on the Central Government to postpone the SGPC elections, he added.

Mr Dhindsa, in reply to a query with regard to the absence of the Barnala factions from the organisational elections for the party district unit today, said he did not want to create a controversy on this issue.

However, Mr Dhindsa said he was still ready to accept those, who had opposed him in the Lok Sabha elections. But if anybody opposed party candidates in the SGPC poll, he would not be spared, he added.


Dhindsa to nominate SAD office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 30
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary General of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and newly elected Member of Parliament of the party from Sangrur, was today authorised to appoint office-bearers, including president, of the district unit of the party and select candidates for the coming SGPC elections by the SAD delegates of the district.

This was decided at a meeting held under the supervision of Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, party’s observer for the organisational elections, at Nanakiana Sahib Gurdwara near here.

However, members and supporters of the Barnala family, including Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, Dhuri MLA, and son of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pradesh, were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting. Among those present on the occasion were Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union minister, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, all MLAs, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, both former ministers, Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, the Sangrur district SAD president.


Separate SGPC for Haryana against Sikh
interests: Jagir Kaur
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur has said that move of a separate committee was a dangerous trend and hence not in the interest of the Sikh community.

In a press release, here today, the former SGPC chief said that the formation of separate Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Committee had already caused loss to the SGPC. She said if a separate SGPC for Haryana became reality then it would be difficult to complete Medical College at Shahabad Markanda at cost of Rs 90 crore. Bibi Jagir Kaur said that efforts were to open more SGPC-run educational institutes in Haryana.


Sekhon to head gurdwara tribunal
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab Government has issued a notification appointing Justice J.S. Sekhon President of the Sikh Gurdwara Tribunal. The post had been lying vacant for almost two years after the retirement of Justice Amarbir Singh Gill, a Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge.

The tribunal, constituted by the state government, deals with disputes relating to properties of gurdwaras, deras and other such institutions. In the tribunal President’s absence, at least 10 cases filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and other petitioners are reportedly pending before the tribunal.

The disputes, SGPC authorities claim, pertain to properties worth crores of rupees. The committee’s standing counsel, Mr B.S. Guliani, confirmed the information. In an attempt to expedite the process of appointment, the SGPC had also filed a writ petition in the High Court here.

It was disposed of today by a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt. Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Judges directed the respondents to initiate the process of appointment at least six months before the vacancies arose so as to avoid the filing of such petitions in the future.

Though senior officers in the Punjab Home Department refused to go into the background of the issue, sources asserted that retired Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge J.S. Sekhon’s consent had been obtained for taking over as President. Permission from the Union Home Ministry had also been obtained as Justice Sekhon was already functioning as the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections.

The tribunal is presided over by a sitting or retired High Court Judge. The two other members include a Sessions Judge and an advocate with at least 10 years standing.


Literacy level low among Pak Hindu, Sikh girls
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 30
Though the information technology (IT) has made inroads in every nook and corner of Pakistan, including the North-West Frontier Province, Sikh and Hindu girls still don’t attain education beyond the primary school level.

This was revealed by Mr Gian Singh, the lone Sikh MP of Pakistan and member of the Pakistan National Standing Committee on IT, during an interview with The Tribune at the residence of Dr Mandeep Singh Sethi here today. Mr Gian Singh was on his way back to Pakistan.

“We are marching with the rest of the world as far as the IT is concerned. Even in my village in Swat district, computer and Internet were available long back. We are not lagging behind in this field. But the educational level of our (Sikh and Hindu) girls is deplorable. They don’t cross primary school or generally are not allowed to do so for various reasons, including the fear psychosis, which has been pervailing in the minds of our people till now. Economic factor also contribute to this. At the same time, I would like to clarify that there has not been a single instance of eve-teasing of our girls so far,” said Mr Gian Singh.

According to him, there are about 22,000 Sikhs, including Sehajdharis, in Pakistan and about 1,000 of them are Keshdharis, who elicited full respect from Muslims and others in all parts of Pakistan. Most of Pakistani Sikhs are into trading, while a few of them are professionals like doctors and engineers while none of them is in the police, army or administrative services and there is no inter-caste marriage, except for sometimes, between Hindus and Sikhs. “Poverty has gripped lower-caste Sikhs and Hindus as they don’t have any avenues to change their lot,” said Mr Gian Singh, who has been an active student leader belonging to the Pustoon Students’ Federation and a member of the Muslim League. He has been jailed for a number of times during his civil engineering student days.

Contrary to the common belief in India, Mr Gian Singh said, minorities were more safe in Pakistan, and particularly the Pervez Musharraf government made it a point to instil a feeling of safety among them. “Now minorities are more safe than the majority in Pakistan. Even in the past, there has nothing been against minorities, except for when things like Babri Masjid demolition took place in India,” said Mr Gian Singh.

While maintaining that the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has not been notified by the Pakistan Government so far, Mr Gian Singh was equally critical of the SGPC and the PSGPC, even as he depicted a bit soft corner for the PSGPC. “Till the coming of the PSGPC into being in 1999, the condition of almost all gurdwaras was deplorable. The SGPC people and the Evacuee Trust Board used to take all donations, but, did not spend these on the maintenance of gurdwaras in Pakistan. Now the condition of gurdwaras in Pakistan is better. Whenever, the SGPC people came to India after major religious events, they took along donations of gurdwaras in bags to India,” said Mr Gian Singh. “The PSGPC has not been notified as yet and the real committee would be made now. Also no exact details of gurdwara properties in Pakistan was ever given by the Evacuee Property Board,” said Mr Gian Singh.

Earlier, Mr Gian Singh was welcomed by Dr Swaran Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, who also apprised him of the efforts to preserve the real Punjabi culture by the recently formed organisation Panjan Panian Di Virasat headed by him.


PSGPC Act to end anti-Sikh activities in gurdwaras
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
After the enactment of the Act for the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), no Sikh shrine of Pakistan would be allowed for anti-Sikh activities or launching movement for Khalistan .

In a categorical statement, Mr Gyan Singh, a Sikh Parliamentarian (Member of the National Assembly) from Pakistan said no other activity other than religious functions would be allowed from gurdwaras in Pakistan. He had arrived here to pay his obeisance at Golden Temple here along with Mr Gursharan Singh, a Hindu MLA from Pakistan.

Mr Gyan Singh, evaded a reply when asked whether he would use his good offices to hand over 20 most-wanted Indian fugitives including five Sikh militants, to India.

In yet another significant statement, Mr Gyan Singh said many temples and gurdwaras in Pakistan were being used for running schools and government offices. He said the Pakistan’s Evacuee Property Trust Board had already placed corrupt officials under suspension who were found misusing the property of historical Sikh shrines in the past. He said the persons belonging to minority community would be recruited to replace Muslim officials in the near future.

Mr Gyan Singh said reservation in different government jobs for the minorities was stopped in 1996 by the Government of Pakistan. However, parliamentarians of the minorities would try their best to revive the reservation.

Ruling out the possibility of forming an International Sikh gurdwara prabandhak committee, Mr Gyan Singh said the PSGPC would be run by Pakistani Sikhs only. He, however, said the representatives from the SGPC American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee would be included in the international committee which would have an advisory role. He, however, said that maryada (Sikh tradition) approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht would be implemented in all gurdwaras of Pakistan. He said the PSGPC would welcome any suggestions from the SGPC, which was supreme body of the Sikhs.

He admitted that out of total 174 at least 30 gurdwaras had vanished with a passage of time.


Washing away of fence poses security threat
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Tash Pattan (Gurdaspur), May 30
The washing away of border fencing and floodlights of the border outpost on Ujh river here has become a security threat. The matter has been highlighted in the reports submitted to the state and Central governments by the Army, BSF and Committee on special remedial works for flood protection, embankments on the Sutlej and Ravi many times in past.

This has increased the chances of infiltration from across the border. Significantly, the communication sent by Lieut Gen Hari Prasad, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in this regard has not elicited any response even after five months.

A visit to the Lassian Enclave across the Ravi presented a picture of the indifferent attitude of all those concerned . The GOC-in-C in his letter stated that the enclave is bound by the Ravi and Ujh from the east and the south, respectively, near the international border. Over a period of time due to the changing course of both rivers, massive soil erosion had taken place, resulting in decrease in the width and depth of the Enclave (measuring 8.5 km by 2.5 Km). He further stated that though the district administration had taken measures to arrest the soil erosion, the desired results had not been achieved due to lack of funds. The GOC-in-C said to prevent loss of more land a concerted effort had to be put in by the Army and the civil administration for the construction of embankments/stone studs at suitable sites in areas prone to erosion.

The Border Security Force also sent a representation to the central committees, stating that border fencing on the right side of the Ravi (RD 61000) is under threat. A creek coming from Pakistan at Wadhai Cheema (Pulkhu Nullah), which form a sharp loop, has been threatening the border outpost tower, it added.

Satellite photographs available with the Drainage Department show that Pakistan has constructed deflections in the form of spurs, studs and bundhs for diverting the river course towards India. This has caused immense damage to our agricultural land and village areas. The Government of India has failed to take the required measures to counter this.

An official note state that Pakistan had constructed Hajipur Gujjran Bundh and another at Kot Doaba and Tikka Khann villages opposite the Indian border outpost at Adhian in this regard.

The course of the Ravi had been narrowed down near Herowal village (Indian village) and Rosse village (Pakistan) after construction of a 7 km long bundh, posing threat to village population and agricultural land.

Another bundh was constructed by Pakistan near Daulat Chakk and Nain Kot village opposite Thakarpur, Jainpur, Chakri and Chauntra village on the Indian side.


PUDA must consult public to fix rates: Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 30
The Deputy Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and MLA Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has urged the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to consult various representatives of public in fixing the sale price of plots developed by PUDA.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh was addressing mediapersons yesterday during a visit to the clinic of his friend Dr Jasmer Singh here. Stating that he supported the cause of the villagers protesting against the acquisition of their land by PUDA, Mr Bir Devinder pointed that their anger against the authority was justified. ‘‘PUDA buys land from the villagers after paying them peanuts but when it comes to selling this land, every piece is sold at the cost of diamonds. Either PUDA should give a share of their profits to the villagers or evolve a system by which there is not such a vast variation in the buying and selling price of land by PUDA,’’ he said.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that the representatives of public were involved in the acquisition process only when the price of the land was to be fixed for paying compensation to the land owner. ‘‘The village sarpanches, the local MLA and MP should be involved at a earlier stage so that problems do not arise at a later stage,’’ he said. He also said that the local MLAs, MP and village sarpanches whose lands had been acquired should also form a part of the process that was undertaken by PUDA to fix rates at which developed land was to be sold. ‘‘This will help reduce the vast variation between the buying and the selling rates,’’ he said, adding that PUDA should endeavour to shed the image of a purely commercial organisation.

The Price Fixation Committee, Ropar, had recently fixed the price of over 16 kanals in Mohali, more than 10 years after it had been acquired. ‘‘The land was, till now, considered the property of Godrej factory here. Recently, however, the land was offered to Quark for sale, and it was discovered that some parts of the land were still in the name of the original land owner. An emergency meeting of the PFC was called in a hurry and we were asked to fix the rate in a hurry without any papers or documents to go by,’’ said Mr Bir Devinder Singh, adding that the role of the public representatives was considered a mere formality by the district administration.

Meanwhile, PUDA officials yesterday met a delegation of the agitating farmers. ‘‘All that they called us for was to know what we wanted. We told the Chief Administrator that we do not want any compensation for our land, instead we wanted a developed plot in lieu of our land according a pooling scheme,’’ said Mr D.P Singh, the convener of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee.

Mrs Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Chief Minister, today met the agitating villagers and assured them of her support. She told them that she would be meet the Minister for Housing and Urban Development tomorrow and try to resolve the issue in their favour. She added that she had already apprised Capt Amarinder Singh about the problem and he had asked her to resolve the matter amicably.


Akoi is organising secy of SAD wing

Sangrur, May 30
Mr Jaswinder Singh Akoi, officiating press secretary of the district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), has been appointed organising secretary of the youth wing of the party.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, today handed over the appointment letter to Mr Akoi of his new assignment of the youth wing at a function at Gurdwara Nanakiana Sahib near here today. — TNS


PNB loan only hope for Khalsa heritage project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 30
The construction work on the prestigious Khalsa heritage memorial complex at Anandpur Sahib has almost come to a standstill due to paucity of funds. The Larsen and Toubro (L&T) company that was carrying on the construction work has shifted most of its staff from the construction site to other places. Only a few labourers could be seen cutting sand stones.

The state and union governments have failed to provide funds for the project. Now the Rs 100-crore loan sought from Punjab National Bank (PNB) by the Anandpur Sahib Foundation seems to be the only hope for further development of the project.

The onsite officers of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation told The Tribune that the Rs 100-crore loan had been principally sanctioned by the consortium of banks headed by the PNB. However, the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation Mr D.S. Jaspal, when contacted told that the bank was yet to sanction the loan. He, however, added that process of sanctioning was at an advance stage and loan was likely to be through very soon.

The complex was planned at Anandpur Sahib by the SAD/BJP government to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa. The US-based Israeli architect Moshe Safdie conceptualised the complex in 100 acre scenic location in the foot hills of the Shivalik ranges at Anandpur Sahib. It’s foundation stone was laid on November 22, 1998.

The construction work of the complex was expected to be complete with three years. The L&T company was entrusted with the construction of the basic structure of the complex while the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, will do the interiors. The total cost of the project was estimated at Rs 300 crore.

Till date Rs 65 crore have been spent on the project. With this amount, the basic structure spread across 23225 square metre has come up. The constructed structure of the complex contains an 400-seat auditorium, double storeyed library, galleries to put up exhibitions and a series of water bodies.

However, now the work has come to a standstill due to the paucity of funds. Chief architect Moshe Safdie during a recent visit to Anandpur Sahib had expressed his concern at the slow progress of work. He had stated that the slow progress could damage already constructed structure.

Many of the state and national leaders, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, and the former Union Tourism Minister, Mr Jagmohan, have visited the site of complex and promised financial aid for the project. However, none of the promises made by the leaders have realised as yet.

With the donations for the project not coming through, the loan from the PNB seems to be the only hope for completing the project.


Minister moots Amritsar development authority
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
The Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, yesterday mooted the setting up of Amritsar development authority.

Addressing mediapersons after reviewing the progress of the prestigious Rs 5 crore Maharaja Ranjit Singh panorama project being constructed at the historic Ram Bagh Gardens by the National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata, and funded by the Government of India, Mr Sekhri said Amritsar had emerged as an important city due to the Golden Temple.

Mr Sekhri said the development authority would upgrade the existing infrastructure.

He said the government was preparing a proposal to beautify the historic Ram Bagh Gardens by restoring the “deoris” built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He said the four “deoris” would be restored and the work on the project would commence soon. He said the department was planning to establish mini-museums which would showcase some artefacts, including manuscripts, ancient weapons, traditional headgears, etc.

The minister said UNESCO would take up the issue of granting world heritage site status to the Golden Temple next year as it had already accept the proposal in this grgard.

Giving details of the progress on the panorama project, he said it would be completed by March 2005.

The minister felt that by declaring Amritsar a tourist centre more jobs would be produced.


Attempt to downplay PPS-IPS row

Ferozepore, May 30
Downplaying the apparent rift between the Provincial Police (PPS) Officers’ and those of the Indian Police Service (IPS) in Punjab, PPS Officers’ Association President Inderjit Randhawa has criticised the statement of one of the office-bearers who accused IPS officers of bias.

Mr Randhawa, SSP Vigilance Ferozepore rang and President PPS Officers Association, in a statement, has criticised Mr Harmanbir Singh, General Secretary of the Association, for his statement in a section of the press in which he allegedly levelled allegations against a section of IPS officers in the state.

Mr Harmanbir had reportedly alleged that a section of IPS officers belonging to others states under a strategy wanted to keep PPS officers away from important positions in the department. He had said that PPS officers would not accept this injustice and, if need be, will protest and even move court. Meanwhile, Mr Randhawa said that the statement of the said officer was damaging, uncalled for and not in accordance with the constitution of the PPS Association.

He said that matter concerning the posting of PPS officers on cadre posts and IPS officers on non-cadre posts was sub-judice and it was up to the state government to take a decision and watch the interests of the PPS officers in the state.

An IPS officer, Mr Nilbh Kishore, recently filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the posting of PPS officers on cadre posts. — PTI


Most buildings in cities not quake resistant
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 30
India has several highly populated cities falling in high seismic zones, but a majority of constructions in these cities are not earthquake resistant”.

This was stated by Mr M.C. Munjal, Vice-Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (Punjab council), while addressing a session on “Pre-disaster measures necessary for facing earthquakes and fire hazards in Indian cities”, organised jointly by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the CII and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here on Friday.

Mr Munjal said if an earthquake struck even one of these cities, it could turn out to be a major disaster. Elaborating on the measures taken by the CII to deal with the issue of pre-disaster management, Mr Munjal said the CII had formed the National Committee on Disaster Management in 2000 and the committee had already taken initiatives to create awareness among the industry about dealing with natural and man-made disasters.

Mr T. R. Sarangal, Commissioner, Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, said the role of the state government and the municipal bodies in disaster management was of paramount importance. He said since Jalandhar city fell in seismic zone IV and was vulnerable to earthquakes, all of us should be prepared to face any eventuality. He said state governments had become more focussed towards disaster management measures after the Gujarat earthquake.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kainth, Additional Deputy Commissioner, observed that various safety concerns were not being followed in the construction of buildings and company premises. He informed the participants that the district administration had taken a number of steps in terms of creating awareness through posters and community meetings and urged industrialists to adhere to all safety measures prescribed in building bylaws.

Mr Gursharan Singh, a member of the CII (Punjab council), urged industrialists to follow safety rules and install all kinds of equipment and observe other measures required to handle a disaster.

Technical experts who made presentations at the session included Prof S. Arya, National Seismic Adviser, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms Mrinal Mathur, Project Officer UNDP, and Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Fire Station Officer, Mohali.


MC chief for action against temple panel head
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
A tussle between the Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Mr K.S. Kang and the working president of the Durgiana Temple Management Committee Mr Surinder Arjun, has deepened with the Commissioner threatening to take up the matter with the Chief Secretary regarding alleged remarks by Mr Arjun describing him as a “communal” person.

Mr Arjun had alleged that the Commissioner was a ‘communal’ person since he had not made efforts to solve problems faced by Durgiana Temple premises, including the deplorable sewerage condition in the ‘Shivpuri’ (cremation ground) area managed by the temple committee.

The Commissioner had demanded action against the latter for derogatory remarks against him. He had demanded that Mr Arjun should withdraw his remarks besides urging Mayor Sunil Datti to convene a house meeting to discuss the issue.

The matter had soured between the two after the Commissioner took a stand against the temple management for violating land lease agreement meant for a primary school on which shops were being built ‘illegally’ by the temple committee. The Durgiana management went as far as to get the matter in the agenda of the corporation house through a councillor.

Subsequently the Commissioner had replied to the local government department that he had recommended demolition of the illegal structures.


2 electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 30
Yesterday evening two persons were electrocuted in a nearby village, a report said. One of the grandsons of Mr Bhola Singh died in Raunta village under Nihalsinghwala village in Moga district when a water tap, he was bathing under got electrified.

In another incident, Sewak of the same village died on the spot after receiving a shock when he was involved while shock while repairing electric wires. 


Check wasteful expenditure at marriages: sabha
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 30
Mr Jagdish Nagpal, state president of the Arorvansh Sabha today exhorted the Arora and Khatri communities to follow the teachings of Aroot ji Maharaj, the founder of the communities, to root out social evils.

Speaking at the birth anniversary function of Aroot ji at Arorvansh Bhavan here, Mr Nagpal regretted that wasteful expenditure in marriages had touched a new high. Use of alcohol and orchestra at the marriage functions was one of the reasons for fall in moral values. The North India Arorvansh Conference had issued a model code of conduct to all branches that needed to be followed in letter and spirit.

Later floral tributes were offered to Aroot Ji Maharaj.


PSEB denies graft charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
An Additional Superintendent Engineer,(ASE) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today denied allegations by Ranjit Singh of Gandiwind village that an executive engineer of the board had demanded Rs one lakh bribe from him .

Mr Ranjit earlier alleged at a press conference that the official had demanded the bribe to weaken the case of the PSEB against him.

The Additional ASE in a statement today said that Ranjit Singh had allegedly encroached upon the PSEB land and this encroachment was ordered to be removed on orders of the DC on May 25.


Sarpanch returns excess amount to bank
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 30
In these days of commercialism, there still are honest persons. Mr Sucha Ram, Sarpanch of nearby Mehtan village, had withdrawn Rs 5 lakh from a bank here yesterday, it was learnt today.

However, when he counted the amount after reaching home, he found that Rs 50,000 were in excess. He rang up the concerned Bank. The manager and other staff members reached the house of the village elder, got back Rs 50,000 and thanked and praised Mr Sucha Ram for his honesty.


BJP condemns harassment to vehicle owners
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president, BJP, alleged that the Chandigarh Police had been harassing vehicle owners having number plates in Hindi.

In a letter to Mr O.P. Verma, Governor Punjab, she stated that it was strange that nowhere in the country except in Chandigarh vehicle numbers in Hindi were becoming a source of harassment. She further stated that it was national shame that in India number plates in mother tongue were being frowned upon.


4 of family fall unconscious after having food
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 30
Four members of a family living in Jalal village of the district fell unconscious after allegedly consuming poisonous food today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though all four members of the family of Ms Gurmel Kaur fell unconscious under mysterious circumstances, Mr Jagsir Singh, her eldest son, stated before the police that they fell unconscious after consuming poisonous food.

The four members, Ms Gurmel Kaur, Mr Jagsir Singh, Mr Satta Singh and Bhola Singh, were rushed to Civil Hospital, Bhagta Bhai Ka, where three of them were admitted.

Civil Hospital sources said they were responding to treatment.


Goods trains engine derails
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 30
The engine of a special military goods train was derailed at Chakki Railway Station on Saturday.

Confirming the incident, Assistant Inspector of Works, Railway Gurvinder Singh, said the engine got off the track when it was shunting. The engine, after breaking the barricade, slammed into the land adjoining the track.

A relief train was immediately despatched to the site of the incident, he added. There was no damage to life or property, he said.

The wagons of the train were brought to the Chakki Railway Station to clear the track.

The train, carrying military vehicles, was scheduled to leave for New Delhi at 5.30 a.m., sources said.


Punjab Law Officers' term extended
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 30
The term of the present team of law officers of Punjab has been extended for one more month as the government has decided that it wants to review the working of all the law officers before finalising the new team.

However, sources said that tomorrow's meeting of Punjab Chief Secretary J.S. Gill, Advocate General Harbhagwan Singh and Principal Secretary (Home) Sanjit Kumar Sinha will be held as per schedule.


90 pc dairies shifted out of Jalandhar

Jalandhar, May 30
On the very first day of its move to shift city-based dairies to nearby Jamsher Dairy complex, the local municipal corporation got success in shifting 90 per cent of the dairies.

Equipped with the Punjab and Haryana High Court order to shift the city-based dairies by June 15, Mayor of the city Surinder Mahey along with a team of corporation officials and the police went to the areas of Bhargo Camp, Ekta Nagar, Chapali Chowk, Buddhamal Park, Upkar Nagar and Santokh Pura, where a large number of daries were still operational, and shifted the same to the specially made jamsher dairy complex on the outskirts of the city.

“Over 90 per cent of the dairies were shifted on the very first day and the remaining ones will be shifted tomorrow,” Mr Mahey said denying that the help of forces was used to shift dairies.

“Since the public was also against the dairies and helped us persuading the dairy owners into shifting their ventures, we did not find much problem in the action,” he added.

He revealed that since most of the dairies were located in the areas like Bhargo Camp, Ekta Nagar, Chapali Chowk, it was one of the major reasons of the outbreak of gastroenteritis in these areas.

“Although most of the dairies had already been shifted to the specified complex at Jamsher, which was built one and a half year ago, but about 200 dairies were still based in the city, which were allegedly contributing to the problem of frequent choking of sewers and spread of diseases in some parts of the city”, the Mayor claimed. — PTI


Khemkaran SMO suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Mr R.C. Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, today said that Dr Harjap Singh Mahal, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), at Khemkaran had been suspended.

Mr Dogra said he had got the report that Dr Mahal did not attend on an injured boy and indulged in corrupt practices. He has been suspended on the basis of report submitted by the Chief Medical Officer, Amritsar.


SHO arrested on corruption charge
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 30
Mr M.F. Farooqui, SSP, here said today that Mr Piara Singh, SHO, Behram was arrested under Sections 201, 217, 218 of the IPC and 7, 12, 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988, for taking bribe, registering false case of theft against Harjinder Singh son of Bhajan Singh of Taharpur village and keeping the accused persons in illegal custody. The police has also recovered the bribe money (Rs 25000) from him. The court has given one day’s remand.

The SSP, giving details said that on May 28, he received a complaint from Mr Bhajan Singh of Taharpur village, alleging that SHO, Behram, Piara Singh had falsely implicated his son in a case of theft.

Mr Gurmukh Singh, DSP was asked to enquire into the matter. He submitted his report on May 29 and found the SHO guilty of keeping persons accused of buffaloes’ thefts at Kattan and Dhandhua villages on May 17 and 18, into illegal custody for 10 days.

Later, he took money from them to cover up the incident, the SHO registered a false case against Harjinder Singh.


9 arrested for flesh trade racket
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 30
In a drive launched against the anti-social elements, the police today arrested nine persons, including a woman and her son, on charges of running a brothel in this city.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, stated in a press note that Gurdev Kaur, alias Jatti, and her son, Jugraj Singh, were running the brothel.

The other arrested persons have been identified as Kali, Nisha, Pooja, Suman, Parmod Kumar, Parminder and Amarjit.

A case against has been registered against them under Sections 3 and 4 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act.


PAP employee booked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 30
The Tanda police has registered a case under Sections 307, 34 of the IPC and 25, 54, 59 of the Arms Act against Ajit Singh, an employee of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), for firing at Bhullar Singh, a former sarpanch, at Nangli village, as a result of which another villager, Dharam Singh, received bullet injuries yesterday.

According to an FIR, Ajit Singh had dismantled brick-paved street before his house and stopped the passage for inhabitants there. He also erected a new door of his house in the street. Some of the villagers including Jasbir Singh, Kirpal Singh, Manjit Singh and Mohinder Singh and Bhullar Singh went to the site to ascertain the facts.

When they reached the spot they found that Ajit Singh was standing there carrying a DDBL gun. After, an exchange of hot words Ajit Singh fired at Bhullar Singh but the shot hit Dharam Singh, who was passing by there. He again fired at Bhullar Singh but missed.


Women looted by armed scooterists
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 30
Two women Anoop Juneja and Sandip Bedi were looted by two armed scooterists on Phagwara-Palahi road when they were returning on a rickshaw from Palahi village to Phagwara on Friday. Both women and the rickshaw-puller were also beaten up by the unindentified looters.

One gold chain, five tola worth of gold bracelets, one cellphone and Rs 1500 cash were looted from the women at pistol point. A complaint was later lodged with the police.


Rs 50,000 looted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 30
Two unidentified scooterists looted Rs 50,000 from a person. The police busted a gang of five-member looters last evening.

Police sources said today here that Mr Major Singh of Talwandi Bhai (Ferozepore) was coming back after collecting the money from Mr Amritpal Singh resident of Sugga village when he was looted.


Rs 24.81 cr arrears released for PAU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
The Punjab Government has finally released a sum of Rs 24.81 crore to Punjab Agricultural University which was outstanding as arrears of the CPF and GPF of the teachers and non-teaching employees of the university for the past four years.

The release of the amount is a much-needed relief to the university which has been facing a serious financial crisis. A sum of Rs 24.81 crore has been outstanding since 1999-2000 when the grades of the university employees were revised along with employees of the state government.

In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, PAU, the state Finance Department has written that the department has agreed to make additional budget provision of Rs 24.81 crore as one-time grant to be released in nine equal instalments beginning from July 2004 on the condition that the amount will not be utilised for anything else other than crediting the same in the respective funds of its employees. By making this budget provision the grant in-aid to this university will become Rs 104.81 crore during 2004-2005.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh in a communication to the Punjab Government on April 19 this year had stated that the non-crediting of CPF/GPF pension fund into the accounts of the employees was a serious offence which might lead to legal complications at later stage.


1,844 EET teachers appointed on contract

Amritsar, May 30
Punjab Education Minister Darbari Lal today claimed that all unemployed youths holding the degree of Elementary Education Teacher (EET) would be adjusted in Government service forthwith.

Talking to reporters here, he said, “the Education Department in a bid to evade unemployment and to provide better education has invited applications for the teaching jobs for all Elementary School across the State.

“The State Education Department has received merely 1844 applications and all applicants have been interviewed district wise by the respective District Education Officers. All the District Education officers have been directed to allocate the nearest school to the applicant, in order to ensure maximum presence in the school so that maximum care could be given to the poor students of the society who come to Government Elementary schools to attain education on free of cost”, he said. — PTI

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