P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



European Sikhs approach EU on turban issue
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Unhappy over the lukewarm response from the Indian Government and the SGPC to resolve the turban issue, European Sikhs have started building up pressure on the European Union (EU) to get the issue resolved in France.

Sikhs settled in European countries have collectively approached the Union to ask the French Government to allow Sikh students to wear turbans in government schools there. The issue, in fact, has already been raised in European Parliament by certain member-countries where Sikhs are in good number.

Revealing this, Mr Bhupinder Singh, who is settled in Holland and is active on this front, told The Tribune here today that Sikhs settled in Europe are not happy over the way the Indian Government and the SGPC have dealt with this issue.

“If the Indian Government had been serious to resolve the issue, it could have done so in five minutes”, said Mr Bhupinder Singh, who heads the Holland unit of the International Sikh Youth Federation.

“The French Government should be told bluntly by India that either it should allow Sikh students to wear turban or all defence deals with it would be reviewed by it (India)”, he said. “As India has been buying defenceware worth several hundred crores from France, it would immediately surrender on the issue once the Indian Government linked up the turban issue with defence trade diplomacy”, asserted Mr Bhupinder Singh, who has written a detailed account of Indian soldiers, especially, Sikh soldiers, killed during the two World Wars in the Europe.

Born and brought up in Amritsar, Mr Bhupinder Singh says that a record number of 8,200 Sikh soldiers died while defending France during World War I and II. We are reminding the French people of the sacrifices made by Sikh soldiers in France to defend them from the Germans”, he added.

“I have also sent to the French Government photographs of French women welcoming Sikh soldiers and pinning rose buds on their uniforms during the World War I”, said Mr Bhupinder Singh. “How could the French Government ignore the sacrifices of Sikh soldiers who shed their blood to defend the honour of the French people”, asked Mr Bhupinder Singh, who was declared the best player of football of Khalsa College, Amritsar in 1967-68. “As the SGPC and the Indian Government had failed to standby us, now we would get this issue resolved ourselves”, he said.

“About 200 Sikhs go every year to attend memorial services at Leper in Belgium and Amsterdam (Holland) in November and May, respectively, to pay tributes to soldiers who laid down their lives during the World Wars as part of the allied forces”, said Mr Bhupinder Singh. The names of Ferozepore, Sirhind and Jalandhar Brigades are specially mentioned during the service.

“I have been successful in arranging exclusive space for placing the photographs of Indian forces which fought in Europe during the two wars in the museums of Belgium and Holland”, he added. A collection of 1000 of letters written by Indian soldiers to their families but could not be posted during the two wars have also been kept in the museum, he added. Respecting Sikh sentiments and their sacrifices in the past, the Holland Government had allowed them officially to wear all five Ks (symbols of Sikh religion) while performing official duties.

“A huge photograph of the late Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, grandfather of Capt Amarinder Singh, has been placed in Inflanders Field Museum there. “I also have a rare collection of certain photographs and other material of the late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, who had served as Indian Ambassador in Holland in 1973-74,” he added.


Advani wanted to take Somnath gate: Mann
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 15
SAD(A) President Simranjit Singh Mann today alleged that honouring Mr LK Advani, BJP President and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, by the SGPC during his visit to Golden Temple, Amritsar, Yesterday was the biggest shame on the Sikhs as Mr Advani was the flag-bearer of extremist Hindu agenda and one of those responsible for the infamous Operation Blue star.

Branding Mr Advani as worse than General Dyer Mr Mann told this correspondent here “bestowing siropa on Mr Advani was more shameful act than the one done by my grandfather Aroor Singh who had bestowed it on General Dyer who was responsible for the Jallian Wala massacre on Baisakhi in 1919.”

Mr Mann had returned yesterday from his two-and-half-week foreign trip during which he had delivered a lecture in Berkley University in California in the USA on the topic of “Indian Constitution and the position of minorities under it”.

Mr Mann alleged that Mr Advani had not come to pay obeisance at Golden Temple but to strike a secret deal with SAD(B) President Parkash Singh Badal.

He said Sikh soldiers in the 19th century had retrieved the huge gate of the Somnath temple which was looted by Mehmood Ghaznavi. This gate was put up in the Darshani Deodi of Golden Temple and Mr Advani now wanted to take back the booty and restore it to the Somnath temple to please the Hindus. We will not allow the SAD or SGPC to return this gate to Advani under the hush hush deal he had done during his visit, he declared.

Mr Advani had come to Punjab to pursue the hidden agenda of the Hindutava and SAD(A) cautioned new Punjab Governor General Rodrigues assuming charge today to take note of this agenda and act immediately to stall it before the Sikhs got provoked, continued Mr Mann.


CM releases Punjab’s Human Development Report today
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The first Human Development Report on Punjab is now available. Brought out under the UNDP project, it is to be released by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here tomorrow.

The 238-page report, replete with statistics and tables, photographs and graphs, mirrors Punjab as it stands today in the comity of other states and Union Territories. Where it presents a contemporary picture of the state, the report also shows projections for the future and draws roadmaps to achieve what it suggests.

The report highlights the human development concerns, identifies backward areas and communities, spots disparities and calls for effective policy intervention and recommends focussed attention and action on sensitive issues from economic to social to infrastructure to human migration to bonded labours to deprived classes and castes, caste conflicts and discrimination, reinventing agriculture and resuscitating industry to improving sex ratios and making best use of strong economic base and best available talent.

Having identified the three key players in human resource development, the state, the people and the civil society, the report goes on to focus on the state, as it alone, it believes can improve the human development resources and goes on to lament about the areas that have lagged behind — powerless Panchayati Raj institutions, lack of people’s participation in ‘’own governance’’ and inequitable distribution of socio-economic services provided by the state.

The report, which has been in the making since 1998, should have been preceded by more such reports, as these are required to be updated and brought out every year. One finds that major focus in the report is on the state of economy, education and health. It refers to lack of basic civic amenities to the people, poor administrative response and respect for people, and above all, a large chain of disparities that range from literacy to infant mortality to child mortality.

The way other states have trampled over Punjab is a sad comment on how Punjab has had a great fall, since mid-80s, accelerated in 90s and is now close to a final crash. The report calls for sound fiscal policies, hard political decisions and committed bureaucratic will to implement its own decisions and economic polices in Punjab’s own interest.

Where it makes special mention of inadequate resource use, negligible investment in

infrastructure, absence of public-private co-operation and investment, lack of accountability of

teachers and attendance of students in schools, it also lays emphasis on the need for reframing of the school textbooks and recasting of the curricula for quality education and honing students’ skills to make them competent enough to face competition in the world.

As a research-cum-policy document, it should serve as a benchmark for taking Punjab forward. But who will do so, when lack of political will and bureaucratic indifference is all pervasive? This is not the first report to draw a roadmap for the future of Punjab. The reports that have preceded this latest addition have been consigned to dusty cupboards. Will it also join the rest or will it serve as ready reference to enable Punjab make its future economic growth sustainable?

The report is deeply concerned over slowdown of economy and declining per capita incomes, drug-abuse, skewed sex ratio, illiteracy etc. Talking of ‘’way ahead’’ the report suggests that Punjab must invest in its ‘’people’’ by ensuring basic needs, such as good schools, effective primary health care and an environment that strengthens and sustains livelihood and creates opportunities to generate jobs.

The report refers to the ‘’impact’’ of various socio-religious movements, sects and communities on the society. It profiles the Scheduled Castes and brings out their raw points and contains case studies of caste conflicts and discrimination in villages as well as plight of migrant and bonded labour. 


NRI shot at in California
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 15
Irked over arrest of their accomplices on the basis of complaint of family of Davinder Singh Taank, a US-based NRI originally hailing from Sherpur village near here, four armed assailants shot at and seriously injured Davinder Singh while he was closing his food and liquor shop in Sainhoze city of California in the US on Diwali night.

Three of the four assailants, however, were arrested by the US police immediately after the attack. Davinder Singh Taank, who had shifted to the US in 1985 was running Taank Food and Liquor Store in Sainhoze city of California. Three of the five shots fired by the assailants hit Davinder Singh Taank, whose condition was stated to be stable.

According to Harvinder Kaur, the Sherpur village-based sister of Davinder Singh four armed assailants came to the store of her brother while he was closing it around 9.15 p.m. on Diwali night. They fired five shots. Three of the five shots hit her brother, who was shifted to hospital in Sainhoze city.

“Two of the cartridges were removed from the abodomen of Davinder Singh. But one cartridge is still to be removed from his chest,” said Harvinder Kaur. Three of the assailants have been arrested by the police.

Harvinder said the assailants attacked Davinder to avenge the arrest of one of their accomplices who had come to her brother’s store with the intention of looting money on November 7. But Davinder’s wife Margita Singh and her daughter Gurpreet raised an alarm and even grappled with one of attackers, who, was later arrested by the police.

“Davinder and his family had been getting threatening calls from the accomplices of the arrested person, a black,” said Harvinder.


Rodrigues to be sworn in today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Former Chief of the Army Staff General Sunith Francis Rodrigues — appointed as Punjab Governor — is scheduled to land in Chandigarh about 75 minutes before the swearing-in ceremony scheduled to be held at Punjab Raj Bhavan on Tuesday at 4 pm. His wife Jean Rodrigues, along with his daughter and son-in-law, besides sister and grand children, are expected to be present during the function.

Gen Rodrigues arrived in New Delhi today and is staying in Kapurthala House. He will leave Delhi in state aircraft for Chandigarh tomorrow afternoon. The sources in Punjab Raj Bhavan say that the Governor would be greeted by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleagues, along with two Aides-de-camp (ADC). After the ceremony, the Governor would be presented a guard of honour by the Punjab Police.

Born in Mumbai, Gen Rodrigues joined the Joint Services Wing of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in 1949 and was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in December, 1952.

Best known for his tenure as Chief of the Army Staff, a post he served for about three years from July 1, 1990, he has held several prestigious staff and command appointments.

Prior to his elevation as the commander of the world’s third largest army, he had two stints as Army Commander — GOC-in-C, GOC-in-C, Central Command from April 21 1989, to October 31, 1989 and GOC-in-C, Western Command, Chandi Mandir, thereafter, till he became the chief. He served as Vice Chief of the Army Staff from November 1, 1987, to April 20, 1989, when the Indian Peace keeping Force was deployed in Jaffna.

He belongs to Goa where he settled after his retirement from the Army. He has three daughters and one son. General Rodrigues was known among his compatriots as a visionary and a strategist. It was during his tenure that the Army started inducting women officers.


CM’s Id gift to Malerkotla
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, November 15
While offering greetings to Muslims on Id-ul-Fitr, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced a giftpackage for the residents of this Muslim-dominated town. As part of the package he announced the opening of B.Ed classes for women at the local Government College. 

Besides, he announced a grant of Rs 7 crore for providing potable water and disposal of sullage in the town and a grant of Rs 2 crore for the development of roads. He also announced a grant of Rs 15 lakh for the development of the local Idgah.

The Chief Minister made these announcements while addressing a big gathering of Muslims at the local Idgah on Id-ul-Fitr. He attended the celebrations along with Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, and Ms Razia Sultana, Malerkotla MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab.

The Chief Minister further said all modalities to start B.Ed classes would be chalkedout by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Talking to mediapersons at the Idgah, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state Government would fill the vacant posts of imams and muftis in the government institutions as and when any demand would be received by the state government in this regard.

He also said the process for the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was in progress. He assured the employees of the PSEB that no one would be retrenched after the privatisation. He added that the drive against corruption was still going on.

Ms Bhattal and Ms Sultana also addressed the gathering. Earlier, a charter of demands was read at the Idgah on behalf of the Muslims with regard to their demands. 


Fervour marks Id celebrations
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur November 15
Id-ul-Fitr was today celebrated here in different parts of the district. The festival symbolised solidarity between people of different religions. The most impressive ceremony was organised at Qadian, headquarters of the Ahmadiya Muslims. As part of the celebrations, Maulana Hamid Kausar offered Id Namaz at about 10 am in the Ahmadiya ground. 

Thousands of Muslims offered Id prayers. A large number of Muslim women and children also offered Namaz.

On this occasion Maulana Hamid Kausar said during Ramadan every Muslim tried to shun bad habits. He said actual happiness would be achieved by abandoning bad habits.

Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, MLA, Chairman, Pollution Control Board, Punjab, Mr Balbir Singh Bath, MLA, Mirza Wasim Ahmad, Chief Secretary, Ahmadiya Jamaat, India, and prominent leaders of the BJP, Congress, Communist Party and Akali Dal (Badal) came to Qadian to greet the Ahmadiya Muslim community.

A special ‘dawat’ was also held here on the occasion of Id. All arrangements were made under the supervision of Mr Nasim Khan, secretary, External Affairs, of the Ahmadiya community.

Id functions were also held at Pathankot where thousands of Muslims offered prayers.


Custodial deaths: NHRC to suggest punishment
Tribune News Service

Wagah, November 15
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will recommend punishment for police officials responsible for custodial deaths in Punjab during militancy days, apart from releasing more lists of persons who had died in similar manner.

This was stated by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Minorities Commission, and ex-officio member of the NHRC, while talking to TNS before leaving for Pakistan here today. He said the NHRC order had established beyond doubt that the police had indulged in extra constitutional activities during the troubled days and needed to be punished as per the law of the land.

Meanwhile, Mr Tarlochan Singh said the NCM had convened a meeting of legal luminaries of all minorities, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, on November 23 in his office for making suggestions for the proposed law on communal rights. 


200 fall ill due to contaminated water
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
Nearly 200 persons are suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting after sewerage water got mixed with drinking water due to leakage blocked sewerage in Gurbaksh Nagar area in the city. Some residents of Guru Nanak Nagar and Jujhar Nagar have also been affected.

According to sources, the problem occurred when a sewer got blocked in Street Number 12 in Gurbakash Nagar. They said the problem was not rectified due to the three continous holidays due to which water leaked from the pipe and got mixed with the drinking water supply.

The Corporation,which was caught napping on the issue as the leakage reportedly occurred two days back, today swung into action with cases of diarrhoea and vomiting being reported from the area. The Corporation has stopped piped water supply to the area and has requisitioned two tankers to meet the drinking water demands of the people of the area.

Akali councillor Rachpal Singh said 200 persons had fallen ill after consuming the contaminated water. He said most of these people were taking treatment from private clinics and had not reported to the Government Rajindra hospital. Meanwhile people of Gurbaksh Nagar said the Corporation had been caught napping despite the fact that the problem was first reported two days back. They said it was the duty of the Corporation to ensure staff was available to cater to sewerage complaints during holidays.

Meanwhile Corporation Health Officer Dr Karamjit Singh when contacted admitted that the sewerage had leaked due to a blockage. He said the problem would be addressed tomorrow adding adequate water was being provided to the people living in the affected areas.

Meanwhile Civil Surgeon Dr Hardev Singh today constituted a Rapid Response Team of 10 doctors to deal with the situation. The Civil Surgeon said this had been done after the matter was reported to him by District Health Officer Dr V.S. Mohi. He said team members had been directed to visited Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) in the area to know about the extent of the spread of diarrhoea cases. Dr Hardev Singhs said a sample of the water being supplied to nearby areas would also be collected to ascertain the spread of the contamination.                         


Seven nominated to Punjab Wakf Board
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
A year-and-a-half after its establishment as a separate entity, the Punjab Wakf Board has become fully functional with the nomination of seven members by the Punjab Government.

The members now nominated by the state government include Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Malerkotla Razia Sultana and Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Mohammad Izhar Alam.

According to the new scheme of things, the ADGP will continue to hold the post of board’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The board looks after the affairs of properties belonging to the Muslim community, besides places of worship in the state. The income generated is used for the welfare of the Muslims, including children and widows. Scholarships are granted and health-care facilities are provided.

The board was common for the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh, till last year. A separate board was carved out for the state of Punjab on August 1, 2003, after a writ petition was filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

But the board’s formation was not without initial hiccups. The relevant rules make it mandatory for the government to nominate a Member of Parliament (MP), along with a Bar Council member, besides a Dera caretaker and an MLA. They, in turn, get together and elect the board Chairman. All members are required to be Muslims.

Even though the government managed to find an MLA for nomination, the authorities failed to locate a Muslim MP, besides a Bar Council member belonging to the same community.

Following the government’s inability to find the “right members” for nominations, the state Home Secretary was appointed the board’s Administrator to look after the affairs. ADGP Alam was, in the meantime, nominated as the CEO.

The government, however, started looking for alternatives after the court was again moved by aggrieved members of the Muslim community. As a result, the authorities “worked hard to constitute the board before the occasion of Id-ul-Fitar” so that it could be gifted away to the members of the Muslim community — at least this is what the sources in the government claim.


From pillar to post-in search of justice
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, November 15
Buta Singh, a victim of Punjab Police's high handedness for his refusal to pay a bribe of Rs 100 has been running from pillar to post for justice for the past more than six months.

In the meanwhile, the Punjab Police has reinstated the three suspended police officers involved in the alleged torture of Buta Singh. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, Mr. Surinderpal Singh, justified the reinstatement of cops citing the reasons that they need the officers on duty.

The SSP, Ropar, told The Tribune that the police officers were suspended for the time being and now they had been taken back as they needed them. He also said that he did not know for how long were they suspended. "The officers are subjected to the departmental inquiry; the action can be taken after the inquiry report. It is no point to keep them off the duty as the inquiry is still pending against them.

On being asked about allegations Buta Singh levelled against the police that there is threat to his life from certain policemen, he said that he did not receive any complaints in this regard. He also said that Buta Singh was making false complains against his police officers. He clarified that there was no formal complaint tendered by Buta Singh and he did not demand any security cover from the police.

Replying to a question he further said that the police had no plans to provide him the security.

It is to be remembered that Buta Singh, a resident of Mohali, had alleged that he was beaten up by Punjab Police cops at the lightpoint of Phase X, Mohali, on June 22. He had alleged that he was dragging his scooter as it ran short of petrol on that fateful day, the traffic policeman stopped him for not wearing a helmet and demanded Rs 100 from him as a bribe to let him go.

He said that on being refused to pay money, in the meanwhile the CIA SHO, Mr. Tejinder Singh, and a few other policemen came to the spot and they all beat him up on the road before taking him to Police Station in Phase VIII.

Buta Singh walks with the help of crutches as he has virtually become crippled after the alleged police torture. His marriage was to be solemnised three days after he was beaten up by the police. He refused to carry on with the fixing of marriage, fearing to have been incapacitated and in that case the marriage would have destroyed the life of the girl.


Badal working for BJP-INLD alliance
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 15
A former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today disclosed that he was mediating between the BJP and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) for a tie-up to ensure the defeat of the Congress in the coming Assembly elections in Haryana.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Badal said the Congress was their biggest enemy and he would spare no effort to ensure the defeat of Congress candidates in the coming elections in Haryana.

“I am in constant touch with the BJP and the INLD leadership over the peace issue and there is every possibility that both parties will join hands before the next elections,” he added.

On reports of the BJP’s return to the Hindutva fold in the wake of its poor performance in the last Lok Sabha elections, Mr Badal maintained that his party would take a decision on the issue of its continuation in the NDA at an appropriate time.

“Mr S.S. Dhindsa, a former Union Minister, is taking part in the meeting of the NDA today even as the decision about our continuation in the NDA will be taken at an appropriate time,” he said, adding that the SAD was a secular party and would continue to adhere to its policies.

Criticising the UPA government for its decision to hike petrol and LPG prices, Mr Badal maintained that party MPs would oppose the move tooth and nail in the coming session of the Lok Sabha to pressurise the government to announce a rollback in this regard.

He asked Left parties to clear their stand on the petrol price hike issue.

He alleged that the Left parties were shedding crocodile tears by opposing the hike in public while supporting the government on the floor of the house at the same time. “The Left parties should withdraw their support to the government, if they are serious about the hardships of the people,” he added.

Reiterating the demand for an impartial probe into alleged hawala transactions involving Raninder Singh, son of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, he said he had submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Punjab Governor, but to no avail.

“We are consulting legal experts and soon we are going to file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking a probe into the issue,” he said.


Government to probe DAP shortage
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 15
Taking serious note of the shortage of diammonia phosphate (DAP) fertiliser being faced by farmers during the current sowing season of wheat and other crops, the Punjab Government has decided to launch an inquiry into the same.

Talking to TNS exclusively here today, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture and Cooperation, Punjab, said Financial Commissioner (development), Punjab, would conduct an inquiry to find out the reasons for the shortage of DAP and the officers of the Agriculture Department, responsible for it.

“We are not going to spare any one found negligent while making adequate arrangements for the fertiliser in the current sowing season”, he added.

He said though sowing of wheat was nearing completion, it was estimated that the DAP supply fell short by 20 per cent.

The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that the state government would take up the matter pertaining to the loss of wheat crop due to late sowing, which had been caused due to shortage of DAP fertiliser, with the Centre.

He added that they would demand adequate compensation for the farmers from the Centre in this connection.

He added that the fertiliser procurement policy would be amended next year.

When asked whether the DAP shortage had taken place due to the fact that the Punjab had reduced the quota of Markfed from 70 per cent of the total quantity of the fertiliser for farmers to 35 per cent, he said the quota was not decreased.

He added that early sowing of wheat had also played a great role in causing scarcity of DAP which further led to panic among farmers, leading to its hoarding by them.

Mr Randhawa claimed that the government had made adequate arrangements for urea.


NRI’s charity walk to Kanyakumari today
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, November 15
UK-based NRI Balwant Singh Grewal (68), will walk from Amritsar to Kanyakumari for spreading awareness and raising funds for the research on cancer and AIDS. He will start his walk from tomorrow.

Balwant Singh today paid obeisance at Golden Temple for the blessings of Gurus before starting his more than 4,000 kilometres of walk from the holy city to the southern tip of the country.

He said so many people were suffering from these diseases. He said “I want to make people aware about the diseases and pitiable conditions of people ailing from these diseases.” He said over 38 million people were suffering from AIDS in the world. He said this great charity walk would provide an opportunity to interact with the common man to educate them about these health hazards.

Chairman of the India Association, a registered charity organisation in England, he said the association was donating money for various other cheritable causes also. He said the association had already supported Great Ormand Street Hospital, the National Blind Children’s Society, the Cancer Research and Sight Savers in the UK.

Mr Balwant Singh, who belongs to Narangwal village in Ludhiana and migrated to England at 22 said initially he wanted to start his walk from Islamabad in Pakistan but the Pakistan Government did not give him permission.

Mr Grewal said he would cover about 30 kilometres in a day and it would take about five to six months to cover the whole distance of more than 4,000 kilometres to reach Kanyakumari.


Police clueless about yesterday’s blast
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 15
The blast on the third floor of the Nehru Shopping Complex located in the Lawrence Road area, that occurred just above The Tribune office last evening, is still a mystery.

While police officials claimed that the blast was the handiwork of some miscreants who used potassium salt (also used in firecrackers) in it, the aluminium splinters found from the spot raised many an eyebrow.

Not a single senior police official visited the site till noon today. The impact of the explosion was so intensive that it almost made a hole in the opposite wall. The windowpanes of the complex, cars parked outside and a few shops in the complex were broken.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Border Range, said the police had initiated an inquiry under the SP (City-II), Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill. He denied any terrorist activity. He said there was no need to panic.

The complex, constructed by the Amritsar Improvement Trust, comprises nearly 360 shops but did not have a proper security arrangement. The third floor and terrace are often used by anti-social elements for carrying illegal activities.

Taking serious view of the explosion in the Nehru Shopping Complex, Mr Shawet Malik, Mr Deepak Kapur and Mr P. K. Chopra, president, general secretary and executive member of the Nehru Plaza Welfare Association, respectively, today urged the authorities concerned to provide proper security arrangement in the shopping complex.

They said the Improvement Trust should lock the gates of the third floor where not a single shop was sold.


Divali bumper draw results
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
A jackpot of Rs 2 crore of Punjab State Maa Divali Lakshmi Puja Bumper-2004 goes to ticket No. A-675838, the draw of which was held at Nehru Sidhant Kender Auditorium here today.

The winning ticket was sold by a Moga-based lottery agent, Shivam Lotteries. The draw was taken out by Mr S.R. Kler, Deputy Director, Punjab Local Bodies. He also launched the lottery tickets for the New Year Bumper, the draw of which will be held on January 14, 2005.

The number of other two series — B and C — won the consolation prizes of Rs 10 lakh each. Other judges on the occasion were Mr M.S. Jaggi, SDM, and Mr A.K. Sharma, Deputy Director, Small Savings, Punjab.

The following 12 numbers (four in each series) — A-361226, A-504486, A-305291, A-833367, B-413475, B-197604, B-644513, B-188179, C-011823, C-475575, C-520546, C-967316 — won the second prize of Rs 10 lakh each.

Over 13, 69,000 tickets of Divali bumper were sold this time. The department netted a profit of Rs 4.65 crore from the draw.


Protest against seer’s arrest

Jalandhar, November 15
Several Hindu organisations, under the banner of the Hindu Dharam Suraksha Samiti, today held protest demonstrations at several places here and blocked traffic on the G.T. road against the arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati in a murder case.

The organisations demanded a CBI probe into the allegations against the seer and criticised the Tamil Nadu Government for behaving in such an insulting manner with the Shankaracharya.

They blocked traffic at several places, including Jyoti Chowk, Bhagat Singh Chowk, Khingra Gate and the Adda Hoshiarpur area of the city before coming to the district administrative complex in procession.

Leaders of the organisations submitted a memorandum addressed to the President, to the Deputy Commissioner, demanding a CBI probe into the episode.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur, chief of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee, has also criticised the Tamil Nadu Government and termed the seer’s arrest as “misuse of power”. — PTI 


Birth centenary of Lala Ganpat Rai tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 15
To pay homage to Lala Ganpat Rai, on his birth centenary and Sher-e-Punjab Lala Lajpat Rai on his 77th martyrdom day, the National Martyrs Memorial Committee has decided to hold a programme at Lajpat Nagar here on Wednesday.

Stating this, Mr Madhu Sudan Sharma, general secretary of the committee, sad that Lala Ganpat Rai was a close associate of Shaheed-e-Azam, Bhagat Singh and was born in November, 1904, at Jastawal village in Amritsar.

Influenced by the non-cooperation movement of Gandhiji, he left Government High School in 1920 and started wearing khadi clothes and joined National High School started by Dr Satyapal.

Mr Sharma said that Lala Ganpat Rai joined National College, Lahore, in 1922, started by Lala Lajpat Rai where he was the classmate of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Yash Pal. He was the founder member of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha that propagated for the cause of revolutionaries. 


Parikshat Sahni makes appearance for Free Masons
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
Film star Parikshat Sahni today took off the grease paint he was using to shoot the film “Choorian” in the city to take on the role of a free mason. Only this was for real. Sahni, who is a free mason himself, presided over the installation of the Master Elect - Dr P K Singla at the Free Mason Hall in the city, yesterday evening.

Speaking on the occasion, Parikshat Sahini said the Free Mason Movement, which was one of the oldest organisation working for brotherhood and truthfulness, had presently evolved into a movement which was also serving the under previleged.

He said the movement was earlier not understood in the right perspective due to the fact that it never invited publicity. Now, however, with the changing times he said it had become more open and invited talent from all professions.

The installation ceremony yesterday was performed by outgoing Master Karamjit Singh. The function also saw the honouring of Capt Pritam Singh on his completion of fifty years of free masonry by “right worshipful brother” H.S. Ranauta who visited the lodge alongwith a delegation from the Regional Grand Lodge of India, Delhi.

Master Elect — Dr P.K. Singla disclosed that the film crew of “Choorian” had shot extensively at the Free Mason Lodge in the city, which itself is a heritage building. He said efforts were now being made to preserve the heritage property of the building.


Stress laid on use of rice bran oil
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 15
Use of vegetable oils, rich in poly unsaturated fatty acid such as sunflower oil and safflower, was no longer advised in view of research findings that sole and prolonged use of these oils could reduce good cholesterol besides adversely affecting the over all health, this was stated by Mr A.R.Sharma, Chief Managing Director, A.P.Solvex Ltd. He was addressing a seminar on “Health benefits of rice bran” organised by the company here today.

A large number of persons from the oil industry attended the seminar. Mr Sharma said scientific studies conducted by the University of Lower, USA, and Human Nutrition Centre, Washington, had shown that rice bran oil has better cholesterol balancing properties than olive oil and canola oil due to the presence of a unique micro-nutrient oryzanol in it.

Higher quantities of natural anti-oxidant present in the rice bran oil gives better oxidation stability which is considered most desirable for health, he added.

Mr Sharma said rice bran oil is an age old concept but was popular in countries like Japan and the USA and recently it entered the Indian market. He said major companies in India had started using rice bran oil in their brands.


DC gives Rs 10,000 for theatre’s promotion
Our Correspondent

Patiala , November 15
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh today gave Rs 10,000 to the National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) Patiala in appreciation of the NTAS efforts for the promotion of Patiala Theatre Movement.

Pran Sabharwal, director NTAS, and president G.S. Kakkar, said that the Sunday garden theatre campaign launched by former Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir in September 2001 was being given a push by the present Patiala Deputy Commissioner. Sabharwal added that 23rd Haas Raag Rang a monthly Sunday garden theatre of humour, music dance and drama focused on the theme of female foeticide and women’s empowerment.


Govt plan to make contract farming fool-proof
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 15
The much-publicised function organised today by Markfed on the 51st All-India Cooperative Week, which was held here, proved to be a lacklustre affair as the chief guest of the function, Mr Surinder Singla, Punjab Finance Minister, turned up late and the gathering was less than expected.

Mr Singla and Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture and Cooperation, who presided over the function, urged the gathering to fight against the existing system prevailing in the various departments of the state government.

Mr Singla said the Punjab Government was planning to bring a legislation to make the system of contract farming fool-proof and farmer-friendly. He advocated that farmers should be given soft loans and the procedure should be simplified. He urged the people to make deposits with the state cooperative banks, while urging the banks to improve their services.

Mr Randhawa, while admitting the fact that agriculture in Punjab was in bad shape, urged the farmers to bring down the cost of cultivation. He said the farmers should go for those crops which were high-revenue yielding and easily marketable. He claimed that the state government had tightened its noose around the unscrupulous traders, who had been trying to make money by selling spurious fertilisers to the farmers.

Expressing his concern over the menace of drug addiction among the youth, he urged the farmers to be prepared to fight against this evil, which had been destroying the youthfulness of Punjab.

Mr Harminder Jassi, Markfed chairman, said it had been trying to serve the farmers by supplying them quality fertilisers, pesticides and procuring their produce at minimum support price. He said Markfed had been planning to launch different farmer-friendly schemes.

Mr S.S. Channy, managing director, Markfed, said it had achieved the rare distinction of winning the national productivity award for five times.


Farmers stage dharna outside CCI office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 15
Some activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Ekta), led by their state senior vice-president, today staged a dharna in front of the district office of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) to express their resentment against the falling prices of cotton.

Mr Ruldu Singh, state senior vice-president, BKU (E), said that the cotton prices had been falling this year due to the operation of a cartel of cotton traders which had been benefited at their cost.

He alleged that the government agencies had failed to check the distress sale of cotton by the farmers of this region.

He claimed that the prices of agri-inputs had been increasing, while the prices of their produce had been falling, thereby reducing their operating margin.

He said that farming had become unviable and a large number of farmers were suffering losses. He said that farmers were being forced to sell their “white gold” at throwaway prices.

The leaders demanded an increase in the minimum support price of wheat and termed the Rs 10 hike as a farce.


Dairy raided, spurious cheese seized
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 15
On a tip off, the local police has arrested an owner of a dairy, situated outside Sunami Gate here, on the charge of preparing spurious cheese, while his brother has absconded in this case. The police has also reportedly seized some commodities, allegedly used in preparing spurious cheese.

The local police told TNS this evening that spurious cheese, milk and desi ghee were being prepared for the city. A police party, led by Mr Jagjit Singh, raided a dairy last night, owned by Lok Nath and Mohan Lal, both brothers. The police said it arrested Lok Nath from there and seized 26 kg cheese, 81 kg desi ghee, 5 kg dry milk powder, 170 kg milk, 17 kg glucose and a refined oil tin.

Meanwhile, the the police today produced Lok Nath before a duty magistrate, who remanded him in police custody for two days. The police also disclosed that the alleged accused prepared spurious cheese by extracting cream from the milk. After that, they mixed refined oil, glucose and dry milk powder etc in the milk to prepare cheese and supply it in and around the town. 


Dowry case registered
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 15
A case of compelling a pregnant woman to commit suicide by her husband and mother-in-law for dowry was reported in Garhshankar police station of Hoshiarpur district last evening.

According to the police, Surinder Kumar, a resident of Ward No. 2, Garhshankar, lodged a complaint against his son-in-law Kulwant Rai, brother Manohar Lal and mother Balbir Kaur of Chack Hajipur for allegedly compelling his daughter Sunita to commit suicide.

In his complaint, he said Sunita was married to Kulwant Rai in 2003. On November 13, he came to know that she had consumed some poisonous substance. She was admitted to the DMC in Ludhiana where she died the next day. A case has been registered.


1 killed as train hits autorickshaw
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 15
An unmanned level crossing on the Jalandhar-Ferozepore track at Nagara village, near here, today took its toll as the DMU rammed into an autorickshaw, resulting in the killing of its driver on the spot.

According to the police, the victim was identified as Balwinder Kumar of the New Kartar Nagar locality.

The incident occurred this morning, when Balwinder allegedly attempted to cross the level crossing when the train was coming from the railway station end.


Convict dies in hospital
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 15
A convict lodged in the local Central Jail today died in Civil Hospital here where he was admitted on November 13. According to the police, the deceased was identified as Prem Chand, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in a dowry case. 

The convict was referred to Civil Hospital on November 13 following illness. He was under constant observation. His condition deteriorated this afternoon resulting in his death.

The deceased was booked under Section 304 B of the IPC for murdering his wife for want of downy. 


4 students of local school to visit UK
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 15
There is a need to promote youth exchange programmes to ensure the overall personality development of students. This will encourage the youth to understand humanity in a much better perspective. This was stated by Mr David Finn, head of the Derby Youth Services Department, during an interaction with students of CT Public School here today.

Mr Finn, who was leading a high-level delegation to select a batch of 12 students under the aegis of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Programme, said “Such exchanges make us understand how to treat a person next to us. Besides, it helps in the overall personality development of the students,” he said. He said four students of the school were selected under the programme, who would visit Derby next year. The chairman of the school, Mr Charnajit Singh Channi, gave a memento to Mr Finn. 


Fancy dress show by schoolchildren
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 15
Students of Bhupindra International Public School (BIPS) lived up to the maxim “variety is the spice of life” by taking on larger than life roles of George Bush, Mahatma Gandhi besides mythological characters as part of the fancy dress competition organised on Children’s Day yesterday evening.

The school, which is the region’s first Information Technology School besides having an ISO certificate, also showcased cultural items on the occasion. BIPS Principal Gurmeet Singh, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said co-curricular activities were a regular part of the school activities. He said the school was already following an IT-based teaching programme with tiny-tots being introduced to computers at a very young age.

The prizes to the winners were given away by Mr Gurmeet Singh.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |