P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder gives Badal anxious moments
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 5
The mega event of the 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple has passed off with all its glamour, festivity and devotion. But it has left behind a trail of political ramifications. Institutionally in the Sikh system, it was the SGPC which was expected to be in the forefront. But it was not visible anywhere. Mr Parkash Singh Badal officiated for the SGPC everywhere. As a matter of fact, Mr Badal has not faced any challenge to his leadership and the SGPC functionaries were not of the stature of Mr Badal.

Secondly it cannot be denied that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, gave a few moments of anxiety to Mr Badal. But it was Mr Badal who played the first round by deliberately ignoring the presence of Captain Amarinder Singh on the dais when President APJ Abdul Kalam was being felicitated. It was the President who took note of this lapse and invited Capt Amarinder Singh close to him. The President was gracious enough to ensure that there was no illwill between the two on this historic and religious occasion.

On the other hand, Captain Amarinder Singh was at his best at the seminar held in Guru Nanak Dev University as he spoke with erudition on the importance of Guru Granth Sahib. When Dr Manmohan Singh came to pay obeisance with his wife, it was Mr Badal who stole the show and presented siropas to them. It may be mentioned here that the SGPC executive had decided that no siropa would be presented in the sanctum sanctorum. There was a competition between Mr Badal and Captain Amarinder Singh to beat each other as the Chief Minister was quick enough to announce at the main function held at New Amritsar that the PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, would read a message of the Congress President, Mr Sonia Gandhi. It left all Akali leaders stunned. This was virtually a masterstroke by the Chief Minister who himself had resigned as Member of Parliament in protest against Operation Bluestar.... and left the Congress. Dr Manmohan Singh on his own has left a mark on the people of Punjab and Sikhs in particular. His humility and response to the demands made by the Chief Minister and Mr Badal earned him adoration from all and sundry.

In fact he used this moment to effect reconciliation between the Sikhs and the Congress successfully. It is for the first time that such a huge package has been announced for the border and holy town of Amritsar.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal decidedly had an eye on the byelections to the three Vidhan Sabha seats in Punjab scheduled to be held on October 13 while making preparations for the big function. But Captain Amarinder Singh has also shown that he is conscious of the Akalis moves and he did not lose any opportunity to show himself in full activity during the celebrations.


Hunters fall in wildlife net
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Acting on a tip-off from the villagers in Batala, Punjab Wildlife officials have nabbed five hunters belonging to the infamous Shikaligar tribe just before they were about to net eight wild cats for food.

Shikaligars are responsible for the declining numbers of small wild cats and rabbits in rural Punjab. Jackal and fox have almost become extinct from Punjab. However, jackal can be seen in some areas of the Kandi belt.

Though five hunters were caught following an operation by Honorary Wildlife Warden, Gurdaspur, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, also in charge of Batala, others escaped under the cover of night. Those arrested are Kandu Singh, Satpal Singh and Tota Singh from Tarn Taran in Amritsar.

The information regarding the activities of the hunters was provided by villagers of Bhadurpur Rajoa in Batala. The villagers also actively participated in getting the poachers arrested. Proceedings against the poachers are on. Mr Bajwa informed The Tribune today that eight nets were recovered from the poachers’ possession. The poachers had laid the trap for small and big wild cats, hares, deer as well as wild boars. Partridges had also been netted by them during the day. The catch was also recovered from their possession.

Significantly, the Shikaligars are extremely active in the Kandi belt where they use big nets to trap deer and wild boars. Said Mr Bajwa: “I have closely watched this area throughout the breeding season to ensure the safety of partridges, rabbits and jungle cats which abound here. Otherwise Shikaligars are very active here.”

Deputy Wildlife Warden, Punjab, Mr Gurmeet Singh, also confirmed that cases of poaching by Shikaligars had come to light in Ropar, Garhshankar and Mirzapur areas. He said they were extensively involved in hunting of wild boars and poisoning of peafowls.

Infamous for indiscriminate killings of animals for food or money, the Shikaligars are traditional hunters who have mastered the skill like no other tribe in the world. They come from Rajasthan and are better hunters than others like the Sansis and Baazigars. They generally work during the day, while they reserve the nights for trapping animals.

Most of Shikaligars live below the poverty line but they are experts at tracking wild animals and reading their hoof and pug marks on the ground to find the path they followed. A day after the rainfall is their favourite time to kill wild animals because all the old tracks are washed out and only the fresh ones of the previous night remain.


Banned fish being bred in Moga, Ferozepore
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH: Are panchayats of various villages in Punjab aware that Thai magur, which they consider as a profit-yielding fish species, is, in fact, banned ? Do they know that this species that they harvest in ponds can harm the native fish fauna, if it accidentally entered nature?

A visit to various villages of Moga and Ferozepore districts revealed that most fish farmers and panchayats knew that they were breeding a banned species, but they continue to do so as it supplements their earnings.

Investigations by TNS revealed that almost all panchayats have leased out ponds at a price ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 on an annual basis.

Native to the Niger and the Nile, Thai magur is highly carnivorous and voracious eater with a marked tendency to feed on benthic organism. At times, it feeds on its offspring also. Highly resistant, if can survive extremes of aquatic de-oxygenation and even desiccation. It can also crossbreed, causing genetic degradation.

The Ministry of Agriculture on December 19, 1997, had directed the state governments to destroy the stock of Thai magur.

Mr Sunder Singh, sarpanch, Mansoor Deva, near Zira, in Ferozepore district, says: “No other fish but Thai magur can survive in this oxygen-deficient water. Its farming is profitable as it grows with a little care”.

When told that this species had been banned by the government, he said: “The government is not providing sufficient funds for the development of the village. So, there is no harm in leasing out the village pond, which is full of toxic effluents”.

Angrez Singh, a leaseholder of a pond at Balkhandi village, says: “The demand for Thai magur is good throughout the year and middlemen buy the stock from the village itself. Moreover, when all species failed in this toxic water, this species survived and made us earn profits. So we see no harm in breeding it”.

“The panchayat has only given the pond on lease, it is the leaseholder who is violating the law. The panchayat is getting an income of Rs 11,000 per year,” says Ajmer Singh, a resident of Mehro village in Moga district.

Kuber of Charik village says: “Earlier we used to breed rohu, mrigal and catla. Of late, the quality of water in ponds deteriorated, making the survival of these species difficult. So, we started farming Thai magur, which lives on poultry waste. It also helps in cleaning ponds”.

Similarly, the ponds of Ramoowala Chotta, Ramoowala Bada and Budhsinghwala villages in Moga district and Chattre, Khosa Pando, Khosa Ranbir and Khosa Jalal villages in Ferozepore district are home to this exotic species.

Village ponds, which once played an important role in the protection and improvement of environment, are currently under stress. Urbanisation and lack of sewers has forced the villages to release toxic water into the ponds.


Eyebrows raised over appointment of SGPC Secretary
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
The appointment of Mr Raghbir Singh, personal assistant to the SGPC President, as Secretary has raised eyebrows.

Since Mr Dalmeg Singh is already working as Secretary, Mr Raghbir Singh would automatically become Chief Secretary on the basis of his seniority.

Though the five-member Scrutiny Committee, formed on a directive of the SGPC executive on May 28, had recommended the promotion of Mr Raghbir Singh, yet the Working President, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, issued the formal order on August 11. However, these orders were kept secret. When contacted, Mr Raghbir Singh confirmed that he had joined as Secretary on Friday.

After the formal notification about the cooption of 15 members by the Union Home Ministry, Mr Pakhoke ceased to be Working President and hence the promotion of Mr Raghbir Singh by him amounts to a violation of bylaws of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, is likely to be challenged in the Sikh Judicial Commission. Interestingly, Mr Pakhoke is not even a member of the new House of the SGPC.

However, Mr Raghbir Singh claimed that he was senior to Mr Dalmeg Singh by about eight years. When Mr Dalmeg Singh was promoted as Secretary, Mr Raghbir Singh had written to then SGPC chief Gurcharn Singh Tohra, accusing him of “favouritism”.


Rare Adi Granth manuscripts in Paris
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
Rare manuscripts of the Adi Granth, considered among the oldest, have been found in Paris.

This has been disclosed by Mr Jean-Marie Lafont, a recognised historian who has written some books on Sikhism, in a communication to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.

In his letter, Mr Lafont said a copy of the Adi Granth of 970 pages is kept in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris along with “Historie de Nanak, Prophete des Sikhs”.

These two manuscripts form part of the collection brought from India to Europe by French-Swiss Colonel Polier in 1785. Mr Lafont said he was contemplating to put these manuscripts on a website financed by the European Union.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said these manuscripts would help scholars do more research on the Adi Granth.


News Analysis
Punjab caught between political indiscipline, fiscal crunch
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, September 5
Punjab is in the pincer of political instability and financial crunch. If political estrangement rather than political engagement, both within the Congress and between the Congress and the Akalis, is an impediment in ensuring sustainable development, so is the continuing grim financial situation.

While the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003, is expected to show results with the current financial year as the base-year, in-house political crisis, since December last, gives little or no breathing space to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to act, such is the Congress high 
command’s culture and control mechanism.

The growing perception in the state is that if the Congress high command did not mend its ways or did not come up with firm solutions and answers to control indiscipline in the state Congress, both organisational and legislature wings, it would lead to political disaster or possible debacle, sooner than later.

The humiliating defeat in the Parliamentary elections and the poor performance of key dissident ministers in their respective Assembly segments notwithstanding, there is growing apprehension within the party that it may fail, yet again, in the up-coming by-elections to the two Assembly segments, Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala on October 13.

Second, the abrogation of all agreements on the sharing of river water by the state Assembly on July 12 has been repeatedly used as a stick to punish Punjab. Critics within and outside the Congress have been attributing motives to that act of Capt Amarinder Singh. Over 300 articles have appeared in the print media over river water and the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, so far. Yet , not a single one has suggested any better alternative to the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. The issue is now before the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. Punjab has repeatedly said it will abide by its decision.

The political analysts say that rather than patronising certain ministers and dissidents, the party high command should direct them to focus on policy, planning and performance. Instead, New Delhi simply twiddles its thumbs, as political situation slips out of the hands.

Analysts ask, who gains from such in-house fighting? Is the Congress getting any stronger by allowing its cadre and leaders to openly revolt against the Chief Minister? Is it possible to provide good governance to the people under such circumstances? Why does the high command not deny unfounded stories in the media that harm both the state and the party? Whose cause is the high command espousing by its political machination? Certainly, not of Punjab.

While politics impedes the performance of the government, there is a forlorn ray of hope that financially Punjab is showing feeble signs of recovery, as indicated by high revenue and fiscal deficits and huge debt stock. The Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, says by the close of the current financial year, the state will have cleared the backlog of substantive funds received from say Nabard, Central Government or 11th Finance Commission.

There has been a wide-ranging ‘’diversion’’ of such funds. It has assumed scandalous proportions. The failure to submit ‘’utilisation certificate’’ had held up the flow of more money from the central agencies. Punjab is locating where the money has gone. In fact, Rs 125 crore out of such funds have been released.

Mr Lakhanpal says Punjab has gone in for a debt swap worth Rs 5,000 crore. It has now sought exemption from the Centre for six months to replace high-cost debt with low cost interest to consolidate its financial situation. A fiscal review is on the anvil.

Political observers say that the high command must take positive steps to stem the rot in the state and stop politicking. Till then, Capt Amarinder Singh cannot be expected to implement the reform agenda, ensure sustainable development or take bold decisions and provide good governance. And soft options in the past have led to complacency.


4 released from illegal police custody
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 5
Four persons who had allegedly been kept in illegal custody at police station, Khui Khera, in this subdivision were released after a raid by Warrant Officer of Punjab and Haryana High Court around midnight. According to available details the persons, kept in illegal custody included Buta Singh (80) and Jagnandan Singh (65). The other two have been identified as Karmjit Singh and Balwinder Singh. All four are residents of Azamwala village in the subdivision.

Information regarding their alleged illegal arrest was reportedly conveyed to the Warrant Officer of Punjab and Haryana High Court by their relatives. Acting swiftly upon the complaint the Warrant Officer issued orders for their release immediately and directed Rattan Singh, SHO, Khui Khera police station to give his version in the High Court on September 16.

However, no official in the police station was ready to give details or comment on the arrest of the four persons.

On the other hand Surjit Kumar Jyani, former MLA, Fazilka, and former Forest Minister, has condemned the alleged illegal confinement of the four persons.

He said they were taken into illegal custody as they were related to Gurvinder Singh Tikka, president, BJP Kisan Morcha Mandal, Fazilka (rural) and Bhupinder Singh, president, BJP Yuva Morcha, Azamwala village. Both these leaders had been implicated in alleged false case of dacoity. Mr Jyani alleged that the police had been completely politicised and had virtually become a puppet in the hands of the ruling party.

He alleged that during the past two-and-a-half years over 2000 false police cases had been registered against BJP and Akali Dal workers in Fazilka Assembly constituency only to intimidate them.

He revealed that in some cases women too had been implicated. Mr Jyani further alleged that scores of cases under Sections 107, 151 had been registered only against BJP and Akali Dal workers.

He said as the Opposition does not expect any justice from the police or the government in this regime so it has moved several such cases of police excesses before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission.

Swarndeep Singh, DSP Fazilka, however, denied the allegations and said the police was acting in a fair manner and without any prejudice.

He said the police was not concerned about the statements of the politicians.


Rejected for job, topper writes to Kalam
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
Punjabi University does not apparently believe in its own examination system. The university has ignored a girl who topped in its Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology while selecting three former students of the Psychology Department for posts of Technical Assistant, who are to give specialised training in counselling to students of the department. Ironically the topper, who had earlier also topped the MA (Psychology) examination of the university, was not found fit to be included even in the waiting list.

The topper — Nagma Virk, whose father has consistently been opposing the university’s policies on the issue of Punjabi language, is not the one to keep quiet on the issue. She has not only imitated Nisha (the girl who wrote to then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asking him what was to become of meritorious students) by putting her case before the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, but has also shot off a letter to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The girl has also filed a writ petition in a local court to stop the university from implementing its selection, which is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Punjabi University has not selected Nagma for the post of Technical Assistant, whose work the Selection Committee’s Chairman, Dr S.P.S. Virdi, says is to conduct practicals in counselling. This despite the fact that Nagma has received the gold medal in the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology this year itself, which specialises in giving practical training in counselling psychology.

Dr Virdi said experts from the Psychology Department, who had interviewed all students, probably did not find her fit for counselling purposes. He, however, said there was no denying the fact that she was academically “very bright”.

Nagma, while talking to TNS, maintains that she has approached the Chief Minister as that is her only hope for getting justice in the case. She said besides topping in the MA (Psychology) and the postgraduate diploma, she was also a gold medallist at the BA level. She said after the interview process, she felt that there was a deliberate attempt to keep her away. “Of the five eligible candidates, I was placed fifth in merit list, which is against all logic”. The disappointed girl maintains that there is a major difference of 14 to 27 per cent marks between her and the merit of selected candidates if the percentage of both the MA and diploma are taken into consideration.

The topper was a green card holder till last year. “I gave up my green card status last year hoping I would serve my birthplace”. In her letter to the President, the topper says even if nobody stands by her side, she will fight against the “injustice” because it is beyond her capacity of tolerance.

Nagma’s father Anup Virk, who was earlier Head of the Punjabi Department at Mohindra College, fears Nagma may be discriminated against when she submits her synopsis for PhD she aims to pursue from the Psychology Department of the university. He says he has been fighting for the cause of Punjabi at various forums, but did not feel it would lead to the victimisation of his daughter.

Meanwhile, former Punjab Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh, while speaking on the issue, said the university Chancellor should keep the order in abeyance and appoint an outside committee to inquire into the selection procedure. The Congress leader said he would also separately request Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is in charge of the Higher Education Ministry, to ask the university for the facts of the case.


Software to convert Punjabi script to Shahmukhi script
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Punjabi University, Patiala, has developed a software enabling the conversion of the Gurmukhi script to the Shahmukhi script with just a click of the mouse.It will be gifted to eminent guests from West Punjab (Pakistan)at the World Punjabi Meet to be held in the university from October 11 to 13.

The university's Advance Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture has prepared the software. In Pakistan, Punjabi is written in the Shahmukhi script, identical to the Urdu script, while in East Punjab( India) it is written in the Gurmukhi script. Consequently, the Punjabis of West Punjab face a great difficulty in reading Punjabi literature being produced in East Punjab. But thanks to Punjabi University, this problem is over.

Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal, Director of the centre and Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering, says a major breakthrough regarding converting the Gurmukhi text to Shahmukhi has been achieved. The next step will be to convert the Shahmukhi script back to Gurmukhi.The software, which will be released at the meet, can convert a medium-sized book into Shahmukhi text in just a few minutes.

Dr Lehal, who did his Ph.D on Gurumukhi Optical Character Recognition System( OCRS),is a pioneer in the development of Punjabi language software on scientific lines in India. Punjabi language will now be able to compete with other world- class languages.

Another landmark achieved by the university is an elaborate software prepared for the online teaching of Punjabi. The programme will be uploaded on the university home page soon and can be accessed through Internet. The package developed with the latest multimedia has the animation of the Gurmukhi alphabet along with the sound,tones, pictures and description.There are also inter-active quizzes designed to test the users' knowledge of the Punjabi alphabet and vocabulary.

The centre has also prepared a software for the Sangrur district police regarding the automatic monitoring of complaints. It has a beatwise date base of villages and towns.

Dr Lehal has also made some personal achievements. The Optical Character Recognition System developed by him has been checked by the Software Testing and Quality Control Directorate of the Ministry of Information Technology and its accuracy has been found to be around 97 per cent, compared to any such system prepared for other language scripts.

A word processor, named 'Akhar', has also been developed by him. It addresses the typical problems faced by Punjabi computer users. It is a window-based word processor that functions on the lines of MS Word. For operating 'Akhar', an onscreeen keyboard in Punjabi has been provided and keys have been laid in the alphabetical order. The keyboard also checks wrong character and grammatical combinations.

Dr Lehal has also developed the first Punjabi spell-checker and the first Gurmukhi sorting algorithm. The spell- checker has a data base of around 1.50 lakh words along with inbuilt usage-based dictionary. In addition, Punjabi to English and English to Punjabi dictionaries have also been incorporated in the word processor. A text analysis utility has also been developed, he adds.


DC orders probe into torture of students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
Fear has gripped students of Government Elementary School of Chak Ruldu Singh Wala village of this district after some students of third standard were allegedly tortured by a teacher yesterday as a punishment for making noise in the classroom.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that as many as 14 students were made to walk on their knees for a considerable time for making noise in the classroom. They were freed only when their knees were bruised and started bleeding. Before the students were made to walk on their knees, they were made to stand in the sun. The students alleged that the teacher also beat them up with a stick.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Singh, had ordered a probe into the incident. He had asked the District Education Officer, Elementary, Ms Surinder Kataria, to hold the probe. He said that this was a shocking incident and the guilty would not be spared.

The agitated parents of the victim students also approached the SP (headquarters), Mr Shiv Kumar Verma, yesterday. After listening to their complaint Mr Verma asked the Station House Officer (SHO), police station, Sangat, to conduct a probe.

Mr Verma said that the parents and the students should have approached Sangat police station. He added that he had asked the SHO to look into the matter and report to him. He hoped that the report of the SHO would come by afternoon tomorrow.

Information revealed that the SHO, Sangat, today went to the village and recorded the statements of the concerned persons.

Ms Kataria, DEO (Elementary), who was away to Ludhiana today to attend a state-level function organised in connection with the Teachers Day, could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, District Congress Committee, while condemning the incident, said that the incident would be brought to the notice of the Punjab Education Minister.


Singla pitches for FCI’s privatisation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla today made a case out of proposed privatisation of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and handing over of the procurement process to private traders, saying the country would make major savings in the process.

Speaking at a function organised by the Maharaja Aggarsain Sewa Dal led by Punjab Agro Corporation Vice-Chairman Sanjiv Garg, the Finance Minister said the FCI was being given Rs 25,000 crore in subsidy but still was not able to maintain the foodgrain stock in proper condition. “As much as 11 per cent of procured foodgrains were destroyed due to improper storage”, he said.

The Finance Minister also claimed that corruption was rampant in the FCI and rice shellers were operating under various constraints were and were sure of making profits. He assured all help in the setting up of an Aggarwal Bhavan in Chandigarh and announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the purpose.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur while speaking on the occasion, said the Congress government had given due representation to the Aggarwal community in the government. She said the government was determined to address all genuine demands of the community. Kurukshetra MP Navin Jindal said the Aggarwal community in Haryana had supported the Congress in defeating Haryana Chief Minister O.P. Chautala’s son, Mr Ajay Chautala, from the Kurukshetra constituency. He urged the business community to come on a common platform so that its demands were met by the state government.

Maharaja Aggarsain Sewa Dal President Sanjiv Garg said the Zirakpur - Bathinda highway should be named as Maharaja Aggarsain Marg. He also demanded that the Central Library in the city be renamed after the saint, besides installing a stature of Aggarsain in the library complex. Mr Garg also demanded a holiday on the anniversary of the saint, besides accommodating members of the community in market committees in the state.

The Sewa Dal honoured Mr Navin Jindal, Dr R.L. Mittal and Dr Radha Rani Mittal, who have been awarded Dr B.C. Roy award, Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Gupta, Patiala Judge Surinder Gupta and Punjabi University history Professor Dr S.K. Gupta.


Punjab to set up third Finance panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Punjab is shortly to set up the Third Finance Commission. It will be headed by a former Chief Secretary, Mr A.S. Chatha, who was earlier Chairperson of the Chief Minister’s Advisory Committee on Industrial Growth and Development of Relevant Infrastructure. That report was submitted in July, 2002.

Informed sources told TNS today that other members of the commission would be Mr Tapas Sen from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Administrative Secretaries of the Departments of Local Government and Rural Development and Ms Anjali Chib Duggal from the Finance Department.

Now the Governor’s approval was awaited for issuing a notification constituting the commission. The sources said the commission would decide on the devolution of funds, functions and functionaries to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and the urban local bodies.

The World Bank’s “Punjab Development Report, 2004”, says revenue powers devolved to panchayats seem to be rather limited. The First Punjab Finance Commission had recommended transferring to the PRIs 20 per cent of the net proceeds of five taxes — stamp duty, Punjab Motor Vehicles Tax, electricity duty, entertainment tax and entertainment cinematography show tax.

This recommendation has been implemented only partly. About 40 per cent of the due amount, Rs 150.98 crore from the budget outlay, is yet to be transfered.

Likewise, the Second Finance Commission had recommended that the house tax levied by gram panchayats be enhanced and a land holding tax be imposed. “In an agriculture-rich state like Punjab,” the World Bank report says, “such a tax could be a major source of local revenue to finance services that benefit farming households”. The commission had also recommended a tax to pay the cost of street lighting. No decision has been taken on any of these recommendations, so far.


Cong not to hold rally on Abdul Hamid’s martyrdom day
Tribune News Service

Assal Uttar (Amritsar), September 5
The Congress has decided not to hold a parallel rally to mark the 39th martyrdom day of Hav Abdul Hamid on September 9 who had destroyed three Pakistani Patton tanks during the Indo-Pak war of 1965, in the Khemkarn sector here.

This will be for the first time that the ruling party in the state will not be participating in the rally.

When questioned Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, a Cong MLA said Mr Surinder Singh, who was the main organiser of the rally last year should be asked this question.

It is learnt that Mr Bhullar who had reportedly joined the ‘rival camp’ during the tug-of-war between Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is not interested in holding the rally.

Last year the Chief Minister, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, an Akali leader and the then Union Minister had addressed parallel rallies. Both parties had tried to take political mileage by organising the rallies. While the Congress rally was organised by the Abdul Hamid Memorial Society, the Akali conference was organised by the gram panchayat.

Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a senior Akali leader said his party will participate in the proposed rally in a big way. Dr Rattan Singh, an Akali MP will be the chief guest. He said a cultural programme will also be organised.


Prospect of Defence Act worries civilians
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot: The very 'existence' of the town is under threat due to the delayed enforcement of the Defence Act 1903 by the Army and air force authorities. Under Section 3 of the Defence Act 1903 no construction is allowed within 1 km periphery of the ammunition, ordnance or air force stations.

However, the Pathankot town is surrounded on all sides by ammunition and ordnance depots or the air force station. Nobody cared about the implementation of the Act earlier. The constructions came up and Pathankot grew amidst ammunition, ordnance depots and the air force station over the past 50 years.

Even most of the government constructions as the ITI Institute, the PWD dump and the PSEB colonies came up within1 km periphery of the ammunition depots and the air force station.

However, every thing changed after an accidental fire in the Mamoon ammunition depot located near Pathankot. Though there was no casualty in the incident, the army authorities became aware of the alleged illegal construction within the 1 km periphery of the Mamoom ammunition depot and the 9 field ordnance depot. The air force authorities also took up the issue of illegal constructions within 900 metres periphery of their station.

The result was that all constructions that comprised about 75 per cent area of the Pathankot town in the said limitations were declared illegal. The further sale and purchase of land in the areas has also been declared illegal. Due to it prices of property have crashed in most areas of the town. The people who have spent their life's earnings on their houses after getting the maps approved from the local municipal council are a worried lot. Even some of the army officers have been hit by the latest move of the Army. One such officer said that the civilians were not supposed to know about the Defence Act 1903.

The civilians bought the land after paying all charges to the government besides getting their maps approved, then how can now the Army suddenly tell them that their houses were not legal.

If the Army feels that no construction should be allowed under the Defence Act then it should acquire the land and compensate the owners for their loss.

The ban on the construction near 9 field ordnance depot was more unjustified. This depot contains just ordnance supply rather than any ammunition. So in case of accidental fire there can hardly be any casualty of the people residing in the surrounding areas.

If the Army was concerned about the welfare of the people by not allowing them construction near the ammunition or ordnance depot then why was it allowing construction of the official residence of army men and their families in the area, they alleged.

The truth is, had this Act been earlier enforced, the situation would not have come to such a pass.


Malhi for simplifying Canada’s immigration policy
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 5
He immigrated at the age of 26 and today he is the first turbaned MP of Canada. Mr Gurbax Malhi, who recently became a Canadian MP for the fourth successive time, was in the city on the occasion of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Malhi spoke at length on issues ranging from his achievements in Canada to winds of change blowing in Punjab. Highlighting one of his biggest feats, he said when he became the MP for the first time in 1993, no one sporting turban was allowed in the House. He took up the matter with the competent authorities, which ultimately broke the barrier and paved the way for his entry into parliament.

He also succeeded in getting permission for the MPs to hold silent prayers according to their belief instead of a specific prayer. His other major triumphs included getting a Canadian posts stamp, featuring ‘Khanda’, released to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth.

Mr Malhi also hosts Baisakhi celebrations in Canada every year. “It has become a tradition now and the Canadian Prime Minister also participates in it,” he said. The credit to host first ever Diwali celebrations in Canada, in which the Canadian Prime Minister was also invited, also goes to Mr Malhi.

On his entry into the political arena, he said prior to shifting base to Canada he was helping people in organising election campaigns. He joined Liberals in 1987 and keenly participated in their poll campaigns for various elections for the next five years.

In 1992 he won the party’s nomination for the parliamentary elections and he became the first turbaned MP of Canada. Mr Malhi is impressed with the endeavour of the Punjabi community in Canada. “Indians are leaving no stone unturned to script their success stories there. They are doing all sorts of jobs from delivering pizzas to driving taxis. They are working hard and are contributing to the Canadian society in every sphere of life,” he said.

Mr Malhi said the Canadian Prime Minister has given him the responsibility of looking after immigration work. He said the Canadian Government was also providing training to skilled persons so as to ensure better living for the new immigrants. Canada offers a great opportunity to skilled workers and professionals, he added.

Revealing his plans, Mr Malhi said he was working on simplifying immigration policy of Canada. The focus would mainly be on three categories — visitors’ visa, parental sponsorship case, and skilled workers’ visa. His message to the youth falling prey to travel agents and landing up in jails is simple — instead of paying agents just approach the embassy of the country you want to immigrate to.

“The advanced technology has also made things easier for the aspiring immigrants and they can get every bit of relevant information about various countries on the Internet,” he said.

Mr Malhi, who was also the member of justice, legal affairs, and human rights committee, held an exhibition in Parliament Hill in 1995 in which videotapes and literature showing human rights violation during 1984 anti-Sikh riots were displayed. “I always raise my voice against the human rights violations be it anywhere in the world,” he said.

Population growth was his answer when asked as to how different is today’s Punjab from the one he left in mid-70s. “People have become rich and they own big houses, cars etc. Big hotels and marriage palaces dot the cities like Ludhiana and Chandigarh,” he said.

Mr Malhi was all praise for cellphone services in India. “The technology here is quite advanced and it is easier to operate mobile phones in India,” he said.

Mr Malhi, who visited his native village of Chugha Kalan recently, was in high spirits after spotting a number of girl students in his village school. “In our days there were hardly any girls in the village school,” he said.


Migrants protest against police inaction
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 5
A large number of migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar today staged a dharna and held a demonstration in front of the city police station here to express resentment over the police failure to nab the son of a dhaba owner.

Shiv Pratap Singh, a resident of Nai Abadi, in a complaint lodged at the old police station had alleged that he and his wife went for labour work on September 3 leaving their six-year-old son and a daughter aged 12 at home. A son of the dhaba owner, residing near their street, allegedly entered their house when their son had gone to a sweets shop to bring curd. The intruder bolted the door of the house from inside and tried to rape their daughter. As she cried for help the intruder forced a piece of cloth into her mouth.

Meanwhile, their son returned home. He started weeping and shouted for help sensing troubled. Some women in the neighbourhood shouted and forced the intruder to open the door. But the miscreant managed to escape pushing the women aside.

The matter was brought to the notice of the police. Family members of the miscreant allegedly threatened Shiv Pratap Singh of dire consequences if the complaint against their kin was not withdrawn. Enraged over the threat the migrants demanded that the boy responsible for outraging the modesty of the girl be arrested.

Meanwhile, the All India SC BC ST and Minorities Ekta Bhalai Manch today faxed a complaint to the Chief Minister demanding stern action against the landlords, who had allegedly raped two Dalit women at Khairpur and Maujgarh villages in this subdivision during last week. The organisation regretted that as many as 30 cases of rape of Dalit women had been reported in the media in the state during the past four months.

Mr Kulwant Singh Bhatti, Chairman of the organisation, urged the Chief Minister and the DGP to deal with such cases firmly.


Railway union demands white paper on loss
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 5
The Uttriya Railway Mazdoor Union today organised a function at Railway Station Sirhind to celebrate Golden Jubilee of the Union. Hundreds of delegates from the Mandal participated in the celebrations.

Addressing the function Mr B.C. Sharma, General Secretary Uttriya Railway Mazdoor Union said that it is a matter of proud that the Union is celebrating its Golden Jubilee and the Union has always fought for the cause of the employees. He said that the Railway administration has been introducing new trains every year but the recruitment of the staff had been banned and more over additional staff is not being provided to share the work load, which is causing great mental tension on the employees handling the traffic activity, which results in accidents also sometimes. He alleged that contract system is being promoted under a well planned conspiracy and the contractors use sub standard material and don’t have any expert technical know how and they work just to get maximum profit. He demanded that 6th wage board should be constituted and till its formation interim relief should be given. He said that duty of all gatemen traffic and Engineering should be 8 hours. He called upon the employees to strengthen the union.

In his address Mr Vijay Chopra, Mandal Secy. Ambala demanded that the action should be taken on Assistant Mandal XEN Rajpura and XEN Ambala for the loss to railway track between Sambhu and Ambala City during floods as well as for disruption of traffic. He said that both these officials were directly responsible for this great loss to Railways. He demanded that White Paper should be issued on expenses for the maintain ace as well as for the restoration of the track.

Mr Pardeep Kumar, Convener of the function appreciated the efforts of Union leaders for fighting the cause of the employees. He called upon the employees to learn united. He urged the Union leaders to implement the opening of primary health centre at Sirhind as per the decision taken by officials.


Portugese Ambassador visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
Mr Marcuss, Ambassador of Portugal to India, along with his wife, Maria, and daughter paid obeisance at the Golden Temple last night.

They were accorded a warm welcome by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, honoured them with “siropas”. They listened to Gurbani.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Honorary Secretary, SGPC, presented a set of books and a picture of the Golden Temple to the family. They later witnessed the retreat ceremony at Wagah border.


Rafi award for Shakti Kapur
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
Famous Bollywood actor in villain and comedian role, Shakti Kapur, would be awarded with the best comedian and character artist award by the Mohmmad Rafi Memorial Society at the 24th Mohmmad Rafi award function to be held on September 5 here.

Informing this at a press conference here today, Mr Tarlochan Singh, president of the society, said that Agam Nigam, father of famous playback singer Sonu Nigam, would be given the best singer award, while Vandana Vajpayee for the best female singer, Shamsher Sandhu for the best lyricist, Surinder Ladi for the best folk singer and Sabar Koti would be given the best Sufi singer award. Ms Navjot Noor would be given the best compere award.

A special award has been instituted in the memory of founder president of the society late Rana Jaspal Singh, which would be given to the best culture and art promoter to P.S. Purewal, managing director of a magazine, Film and Music.


Be prepared for post-WTO scenario, says forum
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 5
The Forum for Common Cause has appealed the government and agencies concerned to gear up for the post-WTO scenario in education in the country.

Speaking here yesterday, president of the forum Mohinder Singh Walia said education being part of the service sector would be open to global players from January 1 under the WTO agreement. Foreign universities and institutions would be allowed to open their centres in India. He said foreign players would enter the country with strong financial background, equipped with latest teaching tools/materials, professional management skills and backed by sophisticated marketing strategies. In such a situation, attracting and holding talented and bright students would become difficult.

The forum urged the government to bring out strong points to prospective customers as survival depended upon the preparedness of the institutions.


Pherurai threatened me: Vigilance DSP
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 5
Former Ferozepore SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai has reportedly threatened Vigilance DSP Surjeet Singh Khosa who is investigating a complaint against him. Mr Pherurai hit the headlines during the PPSC's job-for-cash scam and for issuing fake arms licences.

According to Mr Khosa, Mr Pherurai called him up on Friday night and threatened and abused him.

The police has registered a complaint against Mr Pherurai on the basis of Mr Khosa's statement.

Mr Khosa alleged that Mr Pherurai warned him of dire consequences once the Badal regime was back in power in Punjab. He told that he was investigating a case in which Mr Pherurai was accused of giving promotions to his “favourite” police personnel in Ferozepore. He alleged that Mr Pherurai wanted him to close the file.

Mr Khosa said that he had lodged a complaint with the police on Friday night and had also informed the senior police officials about the matter.

Mr Pherurai could not be contacted for his comments.


PCMS Association condemns arrest of doctor
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
The PCMS Association, Bathinda, today condemned the arrest of one of its members, Dr Ramesh Maheshwary, Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, by a team of Vigilance Bureau yesterday by falsely implicating him in a corruption case.

Mr Indu Bhushan, press secretary of the association, said that at its emergency meeting, the association had also decried the attitude of Sun Pharma as Dr Maheshwary was implicated in a false corruption case on the complaint of one of the medical representatives working with it.

Meanwhile, Dr Maheshwary, who was allegedly caught red-handed yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 4,000 from Mr Surinder Kumar, medical representative, Sun Pharma, in lieu of prescribing the medicine of his company to the patients, was remanded in judicial custody when he was produced before the judicial magistrate.


PSEB officials held hostage, freed
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 5
Farmers of Tiwana village yesterday held hostages Punjab State Electricity Board officials from Sangrur when they reached the village to snap the connections of those who had not paid power bills. The farmers led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (BKU) held them hostages for about three hours and let them off only after they restored their power connections.

Sources said at a meeting of the BKU Ekta leaders said that whosoever would try to snap their power connections would face similar consequences.

Sources said that the board officials had reached the village at about 11 am and they had snapped three connections when a large number of farmers from Machhike and Himmatpura villages led by the district president of the BKU Ekta, Mr Trilok Singh Himmatpura, reached there and held them hostages near a tubewell.


Baba crawls on a peace mission

Phagwara, September 5
In a unique “world peace mission”, Baba Mohan Dass, know as Ludhkan Baba, who started his “crawling journey” from Ambey Ashram Kalmorra in Madhya Pradesh on January 28 to Amritsar, reached here this evening.

Several citizens welcomed and greeted the Baba who was hopeful that he would soon be issued a passport for his journey to Pakistan where he wanted to meet Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf with a message of peace.

The Baba told reporters here that he had completed more than 2300 km of his journey by crawling with the mission of world peace and passed through Ujjain, Dewas, Ashta, Bhopal, Rajgarh, Guna, Gwalior, Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan, Delhi, Panipat, Karnal, Ambala, Ludhiana and will visit Harmandar Sahib, the Durgiana Mandir and Jallianwala Bagh and would then enter into Pakistan through the Wagah border.

An eight-member team was accompanying him in a jeep. — UNI


Lawyers strike work
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 5
Members of the District Bar, Fatehgarh Sahib, yesterday observed strike in protest against the alleged lathicharge on lawyers at Lucknow.

They held a meeting under the presidentship of Mr Narinder Singh Tiwana and passed a resolution condemning the act of the police. They demanded that a case should be registered against the erring police officials.


No dearth of fertilisers in Punjab, claims Markfed
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
For farmers in Punjab, there will be no dearth of fertilisers, at least this is what Markfed — supplying 35 per cent of plant food in the state — is claiming. The reason, Markfed authorities say, is not hard to see. The organisation has tied up with Indian Farmers Fertilizer Corporation (IFFCO) and other corporates to procure “preferred brands” of plant food.

Markfed Managing Director S.S. Channy says that a memorandum of understanding has been signed. Markfed will be procuring 50,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser from IFFCO. Another 12,000 metric tonnes of plant food will be procured from two other giants — HINDALCO and GSFC.

As of now, the total demand of fertilisers in the state is 160,000 metric tonnes, the sources in Markfed claim. They add that the fertiliser procured by Markfed will also be supplied to co-operative societies not attached with “nodal point societies”.

The development is significant as procuring “preferred brands” by Markfed will not only go a long way in ensuring against shortage of fertilisers in the state, but the farmers will also have more options.

A substantial number of agriculturists in the state had all along been claiming that they were being forced to buy whatever Markfed was supplying. They had also been alleging that the fertiliser being supplied through the agency was not up to the mark. They were asserting that the fertiliser available in the open market was of much better quality.

The allegations were, however, termed as false by the Markfed authorities. Refuting the charges, the authorities were claiming that the organisation was working strictly in the interest of the farmers and the fertiliser supplied by it of “best quality”.

The apprehensions regarding shortage of fertiliser in the state had gripped the farmers soon after a decision was taken by the Punjab Government to reduce the supply of plant food through Markfed.

The sources in Markfed say that until recently the government was supplying fertiliser to the farmers completely through the organisation. But last year a decision was taken by the government to reduce the supply share by as much as 50 per cent. The sources claim that the authorities have now decided to further reduce the supply share by another 15 per cent. Only 35 per cent of the fertiliser will now be supplied through the agency.

Though the Corporation and Horticulture Minister, Jasjit Singh Randhwa, had recently clarified that there would be no shortage of fertiliser in the state, the farmers all over were still feeling perturbed.


TV journalist accused of blackmailing doctor
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
The Bathinda unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today alleged that Mr Rajiv Singla, a local correspondent of Jain TV (a news channel) had made an attempt to blackmail one of its members, Dr O.P. Mittal, by threatening to telecast adverse publicity material about the doctor.

Dr Mittal has lodged a formal complaint against Mr Singla to the SSP for launching criminal proceedings against him for his alleged involvement in extortion.

Mr Singla, while denying the allegations pertaining to his involvement in any sort of extortion, made counter allegations that Dr Mittal had offered to give an advertisement of a clinic run by him on the channel in lieu of preventing the telecast of adverse publicity material collected against him.

Mr Singla, who was present at the press conference, held by the IMA, said when he resisted the temptation offered by Dr Mittal, the allegations of extortion were levelled against him. He said it was part of a conspiracy and added that he had told the doctor that the news channel was willing to telecast his advertisement but the news story against him would not be stopped from being aired.

Dr Amrit Sethi, President, IMA, Bathinda and Dr Mittal, who addressed a press conference, alleged in the presence of Mr Singla that he had demanded money for suppressing the news story done against Dr Mittal. They added that they had also taken a photograph of the correspondents, who had come to Dr Mittal’s clinic to collect money on September 4 in lieu of suppressing the news story. They added that the correspondent, who was accompanied by another person, managed to flee from the clinic before he could be apprehended.

They pointed out that SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, was informed about this incident on September 3 when the correspondent had come to his clinic for the first time and had taken some shots of the same. Mr Dev had sent some policemen in plain clothes to the clinic on September 4 when the correspondent was supposed to come to collect the money.

On the other hand, Mr Singla alleged that Dr Mittal had been claiming through the advertisements that he could operate and send a patient suffering from piles to his or her house back in one hour. He added that some of the patients of piles belonging to Rampura Phul town of the district who had undergone the operation had been facing numerous post-operative complications. He added that he had come to Dr Mittal’s clinic to do a news story on the basis of complaints lodged by those patients.

Mr Dev said complaint from Dr Mittal had been received and added that action on the same would be taken after investigations.


Police registers case against student leaders
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 5
The police has registered a case against three students who were allegedly involved in a murderous brawl with another group on the campus last Thursday although no arrests have been made till yet.

The Sadar police station has booked three students — Gurnam Singh Virk, Sukhjit Singh Chahal and Kartar Singh Cheema — under Sections 452, 323, 148 and 149, IPC. A case has also been registered against three others whose names do not figure in the FIR. Gurnam Singh Virk is the convener of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, while Sukhjit Singh is the patron of Punjabi University Students Harmony (PUSH). The third accused Kartar Singh Cheema is the President of PUSH.

Three leaders had been in the forefront of an agitation launched by students against the management. According to the FIR, all the three accused barged into the hostel room of Surjit, Singh where they attacked Supinder Singh, Amritsherpal Singh and Surjit all students of the Physical Education Department, with sharp-edged weapons. The university authorities taking cognisance of the incident have already suspended all the three accused.


Villager murdered
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 5
An old villager, Avtar Singh (75), was allegedly murdered with sharpedged weapons by some unidentified assailants at nearby village Raipur-Raina in Phillaur subdivision this afternoon.

The deceased was alone at his house when the assailants murdered the villager.

The police led by DSP Kamaljit Singh Dhillon rushed to the spot, but the assailants escaped after committing the crime.

The body was sent to the Phillaur Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 34, IPC, and investigating the matter. Old enmity was said to be the cause of the murder, the police said.


FCI’s wheat stock recovered
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 5
The police has recovered 600 quintals of wheat out of the total of 725 quintals sent from Kotkapura to Udaipur.

The truck drivers, who absconded with the wheat stock on the way, have also been arrested. Three trucks have been seized.

Sources said that Pankaj Singla of Kalka Transport Company had sent this stock from the FCI godown in Kotkapura to Udaipur. When the stock didn’t reach Udaipur in time, he enquired into the matter and came to know about the drivers’ act. He then lodged a complaint with the police in this connection.


Woman held for running brothel
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
The police raided a house on the Hareri road here today and arrested a woman for allegedly running a brothel.

Mr Harjinder Pal Singh, SHO of Sadar police station, here, said on a tip-off, the police raided the house of the woman and recovered a girl who had been allegedly “supplied to customers” by the woman from there. He further said the girl belonged to a village situated under Bhawanigarh police station.

The SHO also stated that both had been arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act.


Suspended cop held with stolen car
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 5
The CIA staff of the district has arrested a suspended police constable, Surjeet Singh, and his aide, Jaswant Singh, alias Jassi, and recovered a stolen car, four fake number plates and two fake registration copies from their possession. Surjeet was reportedly involved in about half a dozen cases of theft and robbery.

Both were on their way from Amritsar to Moga to sell a stolen Fiat Uno car. The police, acting on a tip-off, set up checkpoints and arrested them at Lohara Chowk.

Sources said the accused were also reportedly involved in a robbery of mobile phones worth Rs 5 lakh from a telecom store at Landeke village in Moga, duping people by selling fake gold biscuits in Jagraon and stealing a car from Sultanwind.

The police has registered a case against them.


Teachers’ recruitment to start soon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 5
Taking serious note of absenteeism by teachers and students in schools, Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar said he had directed all district education officers and circle education officers to frequently check the schools and submit their performance reports.

He was speaking at a state-level function to mark Teachers Day at Guru Nanak Bhavan here today. He said the state government had chalked out a comprehensive plan to bring about substantial improvement in the standard of education in government schools, so that the mushrooming of private schools could be checked.

The minister also declared a holiday on September 6 in all schools of the state.

Twelve teachers were honoured for their outstanding performance on the occasion. The award includes a medal, shawl, citation and Rs 10,000 in cash. The awardees are Ms. Harpal Kaur, Principal, Senior Secondary School, Karamsar, Mr. Harbans Lal, Lecturer, Senior Secondary. School, Balachaur, Mr. Santokh Singh, Lecturer, Senior Secondary School, Dadhahoor, Mr. Gurdip Singh, Principal, Senior Secondary School, Middapur, Ms Manjit Kaur Sidhu, Principal, Senior Secondary School, Amritsar, Mr Mehar Singh Sandhu, Principal, Senior Secondary School, Gohlewal, Mr Gobind Singh, Head Master, Govt. High School, Gehri Devi, Mr Amar Singh Baling, Science Master, Senior Secondary School, Salana, Mr Netar Singh, Lecturer, Senior Secondary School, Kheri Naudh Singh, Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Lecturer, Senior Secondary School, Ferozepur, Mr Jagdev Singh, Senior Secondary School, PAU, and Mr Sukhdev Singh, Lecturer, Malu Nangal.

He alleged that the SAD-BJP regime had completely damaged the education system in state and no attention was given to fill vacant posts of teacher. The government was going to start the recruitment process shortly and disclosed that all teachers would be recruited purely on merit and there would be no marks for the interview.

Expressing his concern over the menace of a large-scale copying in examinations, the Education Minister asserted that without prior permission of the government , no new examination centres in any private school would be allowed and the supervision would be made foolproof. He said the state and national awardees would be asked to suggest ways and means to check the menace.

He said the school education board would only recognise schools having recognition of the Education Department. With a view to developing the all-round personality of the students, Mr Johar said the morning assemblies in all schools would be made compulsory and a teacher and student would deliver lecture on the current topics daily.

Mr Johar, while paying tributes to Dr Radha Krishanan, the first President of India, said he was a great scholar and a dedicated teacher.

Ms Tajinder Kaur, Principal Secretary, Education, said at one stage Punjab was nearing number one position in education in country, but now our position had gone much down. She asked the teachers to take pledge on this day to work with full devotion and dedication to regain the lost position of the state.


Study for 6 months, pay for 12
Medicos resent fee anomaly
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 5
Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, and Government Medical College, Amritsar, have been overcharging students of the MBBS (final year) for the past several years. This has led to resentment among students, who have threatened to launch an agitation.

The MBBS course is completed in four and a half years and the colleges charge a yearly fee. The resentment is against the fact that the two colleges charge the fee for the entire fifth year even though the course gets over in six months.

The general secretary of the Medical Students Association, H.S. Darling, alleges these colleges have been “looting” the students by charging the fee for the whole year. He says Rs 15,000 should be charged from the hostelers, including Rs 7,500 for hostel charges and the academic fee. That is what Government Medical College, Patiala, charges but Faridkot and Amritsar college students are paying Rs 30,000.

While the number of final-year students in Faridkot is 50, it is 150 in Amritsar, taking the total to 200. Calculating on that, these colleges are overcharging Rs 30 lakh annually in all, say students.

They demand that if the college in Patiala can do it then why not their colleges. They say they have met college officials in this regard many times but to no avail.

When contacted the Principal of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Dr Rajesh Rani, said clarification had been sought from the government on the matter. The fee would be charged as per the instructions of the government, she said.


Fate of six students hangs in the balance
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
The fate of at least six students seeking admission to BDS course at Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences hangs in the balance even as the Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust under the SGPC called an emergency meeting of its members in Chandigarh to solve the vexed issue.

The students said that they had already deposited provisional fees fixed by the state government. However, they claimed they had been told that they would be admitted provided they deposited Rs 2.05 lakh.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director and Principal of the institute, said the matter was pending with the institute trust. He said an emergency meeting headed by Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, SGPC working president, and attended by Mr Dilmegh Singh, and Ms Kiranjot Kaur, secretary and member of the SGPC, respectively, Dr Balwant Singh, former DRME, Mr H.S. Mattewal, former Advocate General, Dr L.S. Chawla, former Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid University, and five other members of the 11-member trust, had been called in Chandigarh to deliberate on the issue.

The meeting would review the fee structure, provisional fees and also decide on the pending issues such as the number of seats, their adjustments, NRI seats etc.

In a communication to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Minister for Technical Education and Research, the students stated that the act of the institute of not admitting them was violative of the notification issued on June 17 this year by the Department of Medical Education and Research (health –III Branch). They urged Ms Bhattal to help end the crisis and save their careers.


Giani Dit Singh’s anniversary
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 5
The 103rd anniversary of Giani Dit Singh, a Sikh scholar, writer, journalist and great philosopher would be commemorated at Giani Dit Singh memorial auditorium at BBSB Engineering College on September 6th by Giani Dit Singh Memorial International Society.

According to Mr Surinder Singh, Secretary of the Society a seminar would be organised in which scholars from Panjab University, Punjabi University, GNDU, Himachal University and from Haryana would read papers.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister, would be the Chief Guest, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra would preside over the function and Mr Harinder Singh Khalsa, former Ambassador to Norway would be guest of honour. He said that the college students would recite Gurbani, Shabads and present Dhadhi Darbar.


Dr Tung quits Farid varsity board
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 5
Dr.B.S.Tung,a founder member of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences(BFUHS), here quit the Board of the management of the varsity recently .His differences n with Dr.J.S.Gujral ,Chairman of the Board and Vice-Chancellor of the University, which surfaced during a board meeting at Chandigarh in May last,are said to have led this action.

Dr.T. Jesupadam , Registrar and Dr.Nacchattar Singh and Dr.Jarnail Singh both Controllers of Examinations resigned from their posts due to differences with the Vice-Chancellor during the past about three years.

Dr.Tung, Chief Medical Officer at the Beas Hospital ,Beas, discounted the reason of differences behind his resignation. He said that he was too busy at the hospital to afford time for any other institution.


‘Free teachers from other duties’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 5
Mr Kuljit Singh Walia ,vice-president, National and State Awardee Teachers Association, Punjab ,has sought the abolition of the interference of Panchayts in schools. Adequate facilities like residence and transportation should be provided to the teachers working in border and other far flung areas. Mr Walia said this in a press note here yesterday .Teachers should also be freed from performing election, census or any other duties. Mr Walia also demanded the immediate implementation of the seven Centrally sponsored schemes.

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