P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Human Trafficking-II
Who cares for these misguided youths
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Manish of Talwara whose spinal cord and backbone have suffered major injuries during torture by Turkish Guards. Vasudev, who has bleeding blisters on his feet.
Manish of Talwara whose spinal cord and backbone have suffered major injuries during torture by Turkish Guards. Vasudev, who has bleeding blisters on his feet.

Chandigarh, December 22
“It is unfortunate that our wards landed in the hands of cruel Turkish border guards. But then there are others who have been lucky and managed to sneak into Greece or Lebanon.”

This is how some of the family members of the “battered and tormented” Punjabi youth, languishing in Teheran gurdwara, reacted to the reports of the plight of their wards.

“No doubt, we have been saddened by the stories. But why do you want to highlight their suffering? When we decided to send our wards through travel agents, we were well aware of the risks involved. It was a gamble. We invested a major portion of our savings in sending them abroad,” said a close relative of 18-year-old Manish Kumar, who suffered injuries to his spinal cord during his detention by Turkish guards.

“Besides Manish and Gurpreet, there were three others from Talwara in the same group. One of them is an uncle of Manish. And these three managed to cross this Turkey barrier and have reached their destination,” she added, holding that in the absence of any job or employment opportunities in Punjab, the youth had no choice but to take to these “illegal routes to greener pastures abroad.”

Even family members of Gurpreet Singh wanted that his tale of woe should not be highlighted. “We will request you not to write about them,” they said, holding that unless the governments woke from their slumber, unemployed youth would continue to suffer.

Each one of these 76 youth had churned out anything between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15 lakh to get to their destinations, from Lebanon to Greece. Ninety per cent of this money, say sources, is shared by the agents who keep on “scouting for their victims at ports, bus stations, railway stations, ports and even airports.”

Victims are always kept in the dark about their movement. They are given instructions or marching orders from one hideout to another, from one mode of conveyance to another and from one territory to another. There is a proper head count at the time of handing over and taking over between two different agents.

“Many disappear and a few unlucky ones lose their lives as they are unable to bear the extremes of weather and terrible living conditions in the transition camps ,” remarked one of the victims who returned home via Iran only last month.

“But then there is no way out to go abroad,” he rues, claiming that all his attempts to get a genuine visa to Europe failed. “I am financially broke. I lost not only about Rs 20 lakh and a precious year of my youth but also suffered heavy physical and mental torture. I still want to go abroad but this time in a proper manner,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Mr Pervinder Singh Chandhoke, a social worker of Teheran, says that unless governments, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and social groups get activated, this serious menace of human smuggling would continue to flourish because of shrinking economic opportunities in developing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

“No one is sympathetic to these boys. We have been appealing to various organisations but hardly any one lends a helping hand. We are able to look after them in the gurdwara because of the support from our sangat here,” says Mr Pervinder Singh.

“Only Lalvanis — Mr Kartar and Mr Partap — have come forward and sent money besides promising all other possible help in looking after these stranded and misguided youths,” he adds.

It is not only in Iran that these “battered and bruised youth” are provided shelter. In Pakistan they are prosecuted for wrongful entry and sent to jails. Since they do not possess any travel documents, their repatriation gets delayed for want of documents. At present there are more than 80 such youths languishing in various jails in Pakistan.

To be concluded


Thousands take part in nagar kirtan procession
Bipin Bhardwaj

The Panj Pyaras head a massive nagar kirtan procession to Fatehgarh Sahib. The nagar kirtan was organised to observe the 300th year of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, in Banur on Wednesday.
The Panj Pyaras head a massive nagar kirtan procession to Fatehgarh Sahib. The nagar kirtan was organised to observe the 300th year of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, in Banur on Wednesday. —  Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan

Banur (Patiala), December 22
A sea of humanity attired in saffron turned up to participate in a nagar kirtan organised to observe the 300th year of the martyrdom of the younger sons (Sahibzadas) of Guru Gobind Singh here today.

Led by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) general secretary and the MLA of the Banur Assembly constituency Kanwaljit Singh, thousands of women along with children also joined the procession. A 2-km-long stretch of the Chandigarh-Patiala highway here was packed to capacity, leaving hardly any space for commuters to move around.

After offering prayers and paying obeisance to the Sahibzadas, who were bricked alive in a wall by Mughal Sub Sirhind Wazir Khan at Fatehgarh Sahib, Capt Kanwaljit Singh carried the ‘Bir’ from Baba Banda Singh Bahadar Gurdwara, Banur, in a well-decorated procession.

The procession was headed by the Panj Pyaras amid the beating of drums and display of gatkas (martial arts). Mounted on horses, camels and elephants, the Nihangs raised the slogans of ‘bole-so-nihal sat sri akal’, and the procession marched towards Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

Thousands of enthusiastic devotees lined up along the highway, raising slogans, besides showering flowers on the vehicles carrying the holy book and the Panj Pyaras.

With flags on their motor cycles and saffron-coloured turbans and cloths on their heads, scores of youths belonging from various Sikh organisations rode ahead of the procession. Hundreds of vehicles, including cars, jeeps, tractor trailers, buses and trucks, having saffron banners and flags were used by the devotees to participate in the procession.

Scores of residents of nearby areas stood atop their houses and other buildings along the highway to have a better view of the procession.

The procession reached Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara after passing through various villages like Saneta, Landran, Chhapar Chiri and Chuni. The villagers had organised langars at various places for the devotees in the procession heading towards Fatehgarh Sahib.

Earlier, Capt Kanwaljit Singh while addressing the gathering at the gurdwara, appealed to them to follow the foot-steps of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh. He asked the youth to contribute in the nation’s development. He also highlighted the sacrifice made by the two Sahibzadas.

Besides the devotees, those who participated in the procession included members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Surjit Singh Garhi and Nirmail Singh Jaula Kalan and members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) youth wing of SAD, Patiala.

Vehicular traffic on the busy Chandigarh-Patiala highway was also disrupted for over four hours following the massive procession. There was no traffic movement on the Banur-Rajpura stretch of the highway.


Nagar kirtan disrupts traffic for 6 hours
Our Correspondent

Banur, December 22
Traffic on the busy Zirakpur-Patiala highway was disrupted for over four hours following a massive nagar kirtan organised to observe the 300 years of the martyrdom of the younger sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh here today.

Vehicles heading towards Patiala and Rajpura were diverted from the sales tax collection centre to the Banur-Tepla road that rejoined the highway near the senior secondary school, Banur. Traffic coming from Rajpura was diverted towards an internal road in the town that rejoined the highway at the sales tax collection centre.

Passengers travelling in long-route buses were put to hardship following the traffic diversion. Goods carrier, however, remained stranded on the highway for over six hours as the police had closed a lane of the highway to heavy vehicles.

Worst affected were the patients, schoolchildren and office-goers.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Saranjit Singh, Station House Officer (SHO) Banur police station, claimed that the traffic on the highway was controlled by 25 police personnel, including a company of commandos. He, however, claimed that traffic was disrupted for an hour only.

He claimed that the public, especially commuters, cooperated.

The traffic was restored at 1.30 p.m.

The MLA of Banur assembly constituency Capt Kanwaljit Singh also joined the nagar kirtan.


‘Shaheedi shardha yatra’ departs for Fatehgarh Sahib
Tribune reporters

Malerkotla (Sangrur), December 22
Today was a historic day for residents of this Muslim-dominated town as a “shaheedi shardha yatra” in the form of a nagar kirtan commenced from Gurdwara Haa Da Naara Sahib this morning. It would culminate at Fatehgarh Sahib to observe the martyrdom tercentenary of Sahibzadas and mother of Sri Guru Gobind Singh.

The yatra was led by Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Five Nishanchis with saffron flags and Panj Piaras also accompanied the yatra. Ragis were reciting gurbani in a vehicle while devotees were reciting “Satnam Sri Waheguru”. The participation of Muslims in less numbers was felt by many here though almost all top local Muslim Akali leaders joined the yatra.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP from Sangrur, and Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, former president of the SGPC, told the devotees that the yatra was purely a religious affair so nobody would raise any political slogan.

Prof Badungar said with this yatra brotherhood among various communities would strengthen as members of all communities were participating in nagar kirtans being taken out throughout the country.

He also said the main aim of taking out the yatra from Gurdwara Haa Da Naara Sahib to Fatehgarh Sahib was to express gratitude towards Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Malerkotla who raised a “Haa Da Naara” in favour of the Sahibzadas and against the unjust decision of then Subedar of Sirhind.


Akali Dal (Amritsar) threatens direct action on turban issue
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 22
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has threatened to launch direct action against the French Government to force it to resolve the turban issue to the satisfaction of Sikhs. As a first step, the Akali Dal has appealed to Sikhs the world over not to travel by French airline, Air France and boycott all products of French make. A formal resolution in this regard will be moved at the historic Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib on December 25 to mark the tercentenary celebrations of two Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) said the Akali Dal had to give this call with a heavy heart as all efforts to get the turban issue resolved amicably had failed. He has personally taken up the issue in Delhi with the French authorities and visited France as well and apprised the French authorities of the importance of turban for the Sikhs which is an article of faith for them. He said he apprised the French authorities of the contribution of Sikhs in France during the First and Second World Wars. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has also sought direct diplomatic activity by the government and has asked the Indian Government not to buy French arms till the issue of turban was resolved to the satisfaction of Sikhs.

Mr Mann was confident that the Sikh diaspora would respond to the call of the Akali Dal (Amritsar).

Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) said despite the assurance in the Lok Sabha, the general feeling amongst the Sikhs in France was that the turban issue required more serious effort to force the French Government to accept the demand of the Sikhs that their children should be allowed to wear the turban in schools. This was so because as early as on November 30 another student was expelled from the school for his refusal to remove the turban.

Prof Jagmohan Singh said while the issue of turban had not been resolved, another major humiliation of all Sikhs irrespective of age by the French authorities defies reason, logic and history. “All Sikhs in France have to compulsorily remove their turban and even the small keski while being photographed for identity cards. The Sikhs even have to untie their hair and this has been going on for may years”, he revealed.

He said during his visit to France, he had brought this issue to the attention of the French authorities and his party had continued its campaign against this injustice. Unfortunately the French authorities had stuck to their line.

Inquiries made by this reporter show that the population of Sikhs in France is estimated to be around 5,000 and mostly comprises young Sikh job seekers who have made France their home over the past two decades. Most of the Sikhs living in France are French speaking and though they maintain their religious identity, they have mingled well in the French society.

The right to wear the turban has been upheld by the British House of Lords as well as parliaments in Canada and the USA.

Besides, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) many Sikh organisations all over the world including the SGPC and Akali Dal (Badal) have appealed to the French Government to resolve the turban issue and allow Sikh children to wear the turban in the schools. Many Sikh organisations overseas are busy making preparations to petition the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg in France. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has also taken up the issue. Mr Mann said that the Government of India should serve an ultimatum on the French Government as it had done in the case of Fiji to save the government of Mohinder Chaudry.


SGPC ignoring Sikh interests, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Blaming the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for ignoring the interest of the Sikh community, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today claimed that efforts were not made by it to retrieve “historically important” goods and articles taken away by the Army during Operation Bluestar.

Regarding the controversy shrouding the staging of play “Bezhti” penned by Gurdeep Kaur Bhatti, he refused to comment directly, but added that the misuse of gurdwaras was a reality. He also quoted examples to substantiate the allegations.

Addressing a press conference at the Sector 10 residence of his lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal, SAD president Simranjit Singh Mann said steps were not taken by the SGPC to retrieve the articles, including ornaments, and Rs 30,93,936, cash despite specific court directions.

Giving details, he said the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while disposing of a petition filed in the matter, had observed that the government would be well advised if the valuables taken away by the Army are returned to the SGPC at the earliest.

He added that the SGPC was also asked to move the appropriate authority to get back the valuables. “Even though the orders were passed in April 2004, the SGPC has done little to recover the valuables,” he added.

Describing SGPC as the “custodian of articles”, he further added that it had “miserably failed to protect the Sikh heritage”. Mr Mann added that the articles were not only historically important, but meant a world to the Sikh community. The government, he asserted, had shown scant respect to the sentiments of the Sikh community.

He added that four of the gurdwaras were now running in losses because funds were diverted for contesting the Kapurthala and Garhshankar byelections held recently.

It may be recalled that a Division Bench of the High Court, while disposing of the petition seeking return of valuables, books, scriptures and paintings, had ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), besides the Punjab Government, to return whatever material was lying with it expeditiously.


Punjab heading towards poverty: WB
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 22
The World Bank has stated that Punjab was once a rich state but is fast moving towards poverty. The state grew rapidly (at 6 to 7 per cent) when much of India recorded a low rate of growth at 3 per cent per annum, but it slowed down after the mid-eighties when the rest of India took off on a higher growth path. The slowdown in Punjab is primarily attributed to stagnant agriculture.

While the government had shown its intention to reform and blueprints existed, these are yet to be implemented.

The World Bank’s report on ‘Resuming Punjab’s Prosperity’ was released during a workshop organised by the Institute of Communication and Development in collaboration with the World bank here today.

Probably the only international report that has taken cognizance of the economic impact of militancy in the state, the authors pointed out that there was an extensive decline in the growth rates across all sectors during this period. “Our calculation show that the output loss suffered by Punjab on account of militancy could be as large as Rs 13,000 crore in today’s prices.” Punjab experienced a major spurt in the growth of civil services during President’s rule and the fiscal cost of insurgency has been felt overtime through higher interest payments and lower revenue base and productivity.

The authors of the report — Vikram K Chand and Deepak Misra — point ed out that Punjab was one of the slowest growing Indian states during the 1990s and though agriculture brought prosperity to Punjab, it was now responsible for some of its miseries. “While Punjab continues to have agrarian economy, Maharashtra has diversified into industry and services and since the latter sectors tend to grow more rapidly than agriculture. In the long run it is certain that Maharashtra will grow more rapidly than Punjab in the coming years,” said Mr Misra.

Punjab’s industry has done well despite the adverse geographical and historical problems. However, productivity of Punjab's manufacturing firms falls short of more industrialised states, and the investment climate is perceived to be of moderate quality. Punjab’s actual tax collection is at least 25 per cent lower than its estimated capacity.

On any one day 36 per cent of Punjab's primary schools teachers are absent from school. The rate is the third highest across Indian states, following Bihar and Jharkhand.

Nearly 39 per cent of doctors and 44 per cent of other medical personnel are absent from their place of work. This also leads to gross under utilisation of health infrastructure across the state.

Dr Vikram Chand said Punjab had one of the most over-staffed and over-paid civil services in the country. The civil services also suffered from premature transfers and inadequate use of modern technology and fragmented administration.

The World Bank report noted that in sectors like power, agriculture, disinvestment and fiscal policy, there already exist blueprints for reforms which have yet to be evolved for health and education. “But where the government has been less successful is in implementing the policies laid down in its strategy papers. In a few cases it has actually done the opposite — rolled back reforms when these were beginning to show results,” said Mr Chand.

The World Bank put the hidden liability of the state at Rs 15,467 crore other than the Rs 37,060 crore as given in the Punjab Budget. Recommending three critical steps to restore fiscal balance, the report said Punjab needed to comply with its own Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act passed in 2003. It had to create a fiscal space by cutting the staff in government departments and aggressively pursue tax policy and administrative reforms.


Experts flay World Bank report on Punjab
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 22
The World Bank report on ‘Resuming Punjab’s prosperity’ released during a workshop here today met with sharp criticism from a host of academics, policy planners, economists and other experts attending the workshop. The workshop was organised by the World Bank and the Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh, to facilitate discussion on the report.

While many experts termed the report superficial and lacking in in-depth analysis of problems, some others lamented that the report did not recommend any viable solutions to the problems that it listed. The participants also questioned the recommendations that the report made to improve the dismal fiscal situation of the state. Some economists even rejected the report stating that the Punjab’s economy was not in a dismal state at all.

The presentation of the report started on a positive note showing that Punjab was India’s most prosperous and developed state with the lowest poverty rate. At the end of the 1990s, more than 94 per cent of Punjab’s citizens were above the poverty line, 70 per cent were literate, 94 per cent of the six-year-old were enrolled in primary schools, 72 per cent of infants were immunised, 99 per cent of households had access to safe drinking water and the average life expectancy of its citizen was 68 years.

However, state’s development experience was paradoxical: its private sector is one of the most prosperous in the country, yet its government is impoverished; it has virtually eliminated gender gap in primary education, yet it suffers from the problem of widespread sex-selective abortions and female foeticide and although it has a growing and large middle class, the quality of public services is stubbornly poor.

Prof G.S. Bhalla, former member, Planning Commission, stressed the need for deeper analysis on issues relating to diversification, subsidies, social security and labour policies. He was the view that the deceleration in agriculture during the 90’s was due to decline in investment in agricultural research and technology.

Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, Institute for Development and Communication, said Punjab represented peculiar development paradoxes. It had high per capita income, but dismal social development index. It had no general poverty level for population. Poverty among the Scheduled Castes was five times more. It had highly developed infrastructure, but quality of public service delivery was deteriorating.

Dr Kumar also mentioned that the focus of the reform process should have been to increase capacity for competition, both in agriculture and industry, to build forward and backward linkages of agriculture. There was need to have targeted industrialisation with a focus on high-value added industry, he added.

Prof A.C. Julka mentioned that the World Bank report was comprehensive, but it had not captured the culture of the state and its spirit. The report, according to him, had also missed out on the quantum of commodity inflow and outflow, not undertaking manpower planning and corresponding development of educational infrastructure.

Prof H.S. Shergill said the report did not have any analysis of the causes of the problems listed. “And whatever stray remarks have been made in lieu of analysis are misleading and dangerous,” he said.

Mr I.S. Jaijee said the report could not be representative of the true picture in the state since it was based mainly on government data which was more often misleading.

On power reforms, Prof Surinder Kumar pointed out that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was among the most efficient power production, distribution and transmission unit. This was in contrast to the states where power reforms had already been implemented.

Dr Rainuka Dagar mentioned while gender concerns were reflected in the report, but these were not integral to the reform strategy proposed by the  World Bank.


Mohd Rafi neglected in his own village
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Kolta Sultansingh (Amritsar), December 22
The one room desolate memorial of Mohammad Rafi, the most popular playback singer of the country, in his native village here, narrates the apathy of the district administration, state government and villagers towards the celebrity.

He was born in this non-descript border village on December 24, 1924.

Mohd Rafi articulated the joys and sorrows of millions of Indians through his everlasting songs, but nobody bothered to raise a suitable memorial in his name. He belonged to a poor Muslim family of this village.

When this correspondent visited the memorial, a few villagers came forward and requested not to highlight the issue. A retired Subedar, Mr Tarsem Singh, however, said the villagers would to celebrate the birth anniversary of the great singer for the first time on December 24.

He rued that the district administration had never made an attempt to raise the memorial, which could be great attraction for the tourists.

Recalling Rafi’s early life, Mr Gurbax Singh (90), who was once a companion of the celebrity singer, say Rafi moved to Lahore when he was 14 years old. He later got a job at a barber’s shop in Lahore. It was where he met the Director of Radio Lahore. The Director recognised talent and took him under his wing.

He was introduced to Radio Lahore by composer Feroz Nizami and made his film debut as playback singer in the Punjabi film Gul Baloch (1944).

Rafi shifted to Bombay where music director Naushad gave him an opportunity to sing in Pehle Aap (1944).

Rafi was blessed with such a range that he could easily sing in three octaves without veering out of control. There he studied music under Khan Abdul Waheed Khan, Jeevanlal Matto and Ghulam Ali Khan, Mr Gurbax Singh recalled 


NRI Sikhs make documentary on SYL canal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 22
A documentary film of 30 minutes on the controversial SYL canal, produced by UK-based NRI Sikhs, which has used the footage of Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and many leaders of the Congress and Akali parties, will be released by the Dal Khalsa on December 24 at Fatehgarh Sahib.

The film has projected Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, as a hero of the Punjab farmers in terminating the Punjab Agreements Act with the support of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The documentary uses many adjectives like the “lion of Punjab” for the Chief Minister for his action. It accuses many stalwart leaders of the SAD and the Congress for “stabbing” the Punjab farmers in the back.

Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman, for the Dal Khalsa, said his party would screen the documentary before the Sikh sangat during the tercentenary functions at Fatehgarh Sahib. He said the Dal Khalsa would also distribute its CDs among intellectuals and opinion makers.

The documentary alleges that the root cause of the Punjab problem, which had claimed many lives, was discrimination against Punjab on adjudication of inter-state river waters. It says the riparian rule was not honoured by the Union Government while signing any treaty, pact or agreement on waters. It further says that if a fair deal was not given to Punjab, farmers will continue to commit suicides. The documentary quoted reports published in various newspapers, including The Tribune, to substantiate its point of view on the water dispute. The fertile land of Punjab will turn barren if justice was not done to it while allocating inter-state river waters.

The footage of the late Darbara Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab, who withdrew the case from the court on water sharing, has also been used. The other senior leaders who have been shown in the documentary include Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi and Mr Om Prakash Chautala.


Gurdaspur, Amritsar DCs among 4 shifted
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
After ignoring the recommendations of the Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC) for nearly six months, the Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of Amritsar and Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioners, Raminder Singh and Harjit Singh, respectively. The two officers had failed to produce record before the GEC in violation of the instructions.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the GEC had sought action against the two officers under the Service Conduct Rules. In fact, the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice Jai Singh Sekhon, had reportedly shot off a communique to the Union Home Department in this regard. Justice Sekhon had reportedly recommended major penalty proceedings against them.

Coming down heavily on the DCs for their failure to produce the record, Justice Sekhon had also directed the issuance of notices to them. Taking up petitions filed by three senior Akali leaders, the Judge had also asked them to show cause why proceedings should not be initiated against them for disobeying the Commission’s orders.

Accepting the petitions by the Akali leaders, Justice Sekhon had also quashed the orders passed by the DCs rejecting their candidature for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections. Their candidature was cancelled as huge amounts were allegedly outstanding against their wards admitted under the NRI quota to the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Dental College.

Amritsar DC was, subsequently, grilled by a Division Bench of the High Court during the hearing of petitions filed by the three leaders, challenging the decision of rejecting their nomination papers.

Taking up the matter, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Amar Dutt, had come down heavily upon the DC for refusing to follow the Chief Commissioner’s orders.

After asking him to file an affidavit explaining his actions and conduct, the Bench had also directed him to specify under whose instructions had he refused to follow the orders.

The Judges had observed that the DC had acted in a wrong way and he could not be allowed to go scot-free after committing the act. The Bench had further questioned the DC if he knew the repercussions of acting in “such a manner”.

Along with Amritsar DC Raminder Singh and Gurdaspur DC Harjit Singh, the government today ordered the transfer and postings of five other bureaucrats, including Municipal Commissioners. The orders, issued by Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill, said posting against vacant post of Additional Secretary (Power) would be ordered soon.

According to the order, Special Secretary in the Department of Revenue Bidhi Chand Thakur has been posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore, in place of Ranjit Singh.

His services have been placed at the disposal of the Department of Local Government for appointment as Commissioner of Bathinda’s Municipal Corporation in place of D.K. Tiwari. He, in turn, has been posted as Hoshiarpur DC. Gurdaspur DC Harjit Singh has been posted in Mr Thakur’s place as Special Secretary in the Department of Revenue.

Amritsar DC Raminder Singh has been posted as Punjab’s Additional Registrar of Cooperative Societies at Chandigarh against a vacant post. His place has been taken by Hoshiarpur DC Kirandeep Singh Bhullar. Additional Secretary (Power) Vivek Pratap Singh has been posted as Gurdaspur DC.


Kin of youths in Pak jails lathi-charged
Tribune News Service

Dhilwan (Kapurthala), December 22
As many as 265 persons, who were to block traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road here, were lathi-charged and arrested this morning.

Demanding intervention of the government for a quick release of their kin languishing in the jails of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the protesters had planned to block the traffic from 11 am to 4 pm.

They had just started gathering on the road a little before 11 am when the police started lathi-charging them.

They lamented that they were lathi-charged very badly and even women were not spared. Many women received injuries on their heads and soldiers.

Fortythree protesters were arrested from their homes late last night, they said.

Mr Gurnam Singh, one of the protesters, said this happened despite the fact that it was pre-decided that all important vehicles, including ambulances, Lahore bus and processions would be allowed to pass.

Mr Piara Singh, another protester, said it had now been decided that the agitation would be intensified. Later, all members assembled at Nehru Garden in Jalandhar to discuss the future course of action.

They decided that a major rally would be held outside the residence of Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director-General of Police, on January 9 to demand suspension of the police officials who ordered the lathi charge.


Home Dept told to get Nehra report examined
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Government has asked its Home Department to get the Justice D.S. Nehra Commission report on hawala transactions of Punjab Intranet to be legally examined before taking a final view on the future line of action, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced here today.

Talking to newsmen, the Chief Minister said that the commission had made some stringent observations in its detailed report submitted to the state government day before yesterday.

“I read the report yesterday and referred it to the Advocate-General,” he said.

“After examining all aspects of the proposal, we had closed the file on December 8, 2003, as the two-part project was not feasible. The first news report about the involvement of my son in the Punjab Intranet, a company which never existed, came on December 28 at a time when the dissidence activity was at its peak.

“The second report came when the by-elections of Garhshankar and Kapurthala were to be held in October this year. Intriguingly the Opposition — Shiromani Akali Dal — raised the issue in the Lok sabha only today when the winter session was about to end. Why did they not raise it earlier in Parliament, especially when the case is almost a year old? I see a clear link in the chain of events,” said the Chief Minister.


Move to shift lab apparatus irks villagers
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 22
The Education Department's bid to shift the science laboratory apparatus from Government Senior Secondary School, Guru Teg Bahadur Garh, near Rode village, has irked the students as well as the panchayats of the nearby villages.

The students and the village panchayat forced a team, which reached there to shift the apparatus from the school's science laboratory to another school in Khosa Pando village, to return empty-handed.

Sources said science had been a regular subject in the school since it came into being in 1962. The school also had a well-equipped laboratory for the same.

They added on Tuesday the department constituted a team and entrusted it the responsibility of shifting the apparatus from the school's laboratory. The villagers alleged that the students and the panchayat were not taken into confidence in this regard.

However, when they came to know about the department's move, they gathered outside the school. Their protest compelled the team to return leaving the instrument in the laboratory.

Village Sarpanch Jagdish Singh Disha, SAD leader Gurjant Singh Bhutto, Rajeana Sarpanch Dayal Singh Brar and Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) leader Harjinder Singh Rode said the Education Department had discontinued science two years back despite the fact that there were sufficient science students.

Harjinder Singh Rode alleged that the discontinuing of science at the school was "pre-planned" and students were discouraged to opt for science. He warned that if the department made another bid to lift the laboratory apparatus and if the subject was not resumed they would stage a dharna.

When contacted, the District Education Officer, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, said the subject was discontinued at the time of the previous regime and he was unaware about the reasons behind it.

He said if the villagers wanted to get science teaching resumed, they should give an application to the authority concerned.


Lawyers divided over voting rights issue
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 22
Differences on the voting rights to "outsiders" and non-practicing lawyers today led to the division in the District Bar Association (DBA) with one of the groups electing Mr Naseeb Bawa as its president.

The other group had already elected Mr Rajvinder Singh Gill as its presidents on December 15.

The Returning Officer for the elections, Mr Varinder Kashyap, said the nominations for the elections, which were supposed to be held on Friday, were invited till mid-day today. Interestingly, only one candidate each had applied for key posts of the association, which led to their unopposed election and declaration of the results today.

As per a statement issued by the returning officer, Mr Bawa has been elected as the association president, Tarsem Singh Gill as vice-president, Manwinder Singh Saggu as general secretary, Krishan Kumar Tiwari as joint secretary, and Dharampal Bansal as finance secretary.

Meanwhile, the Gill camp said they had nothing to do with the other group's elections as they had already chosen their president. The chief of the other faction, Mr Rajvinder Singh Gill, said they had already dissociated themselves from the other faction, as they didn't want "outsiders" and non-practicing members to exercise their voting right.


436 Pak Qadian Muslims arrive
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 22
As many as 436 Qadian Muslims ( Qadian is a persecuted community in Pakistan) today crossed over to India through Wagah to participate in the three-day-long annual conference scheduled to be held at Qadian from December 26 .

While most of the Qadian Ahmadiyya Muslims were silent on their persecution in Pakistan where they are treated as “non-Muslims”, yet a few came forward to express the “cruelty and step-motherly”, treatment Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan on condition of anonymity.


PSEB recovered 24 lakh by detecting thefts
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board recovered Rs 24 lakh by detecting electricity thefts during the past two months, Mr Ajmer Singh, Executive Engineer, said here on Tuesday.

He said special camps would be organised on Thursday for the farmers who want to upgrade the load of their motors.

The last date for upgrading of load is December 31.


136 votes polled against 126 total votes!
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 22
A court here has restrained the returning officer for IMA elections Punjab, and the state IMA from declaring the result of the Sangrur IMA elections without verifying authenticity of the votes.

Mr K.K. Singla, Civil Judge, gave the stay orders on a petition of presidential candidate, Dr K.G. Singla of Sangrur, who claimed that there was hanky-panky in the elections as 136 votes were reported polled where as number of votes was just 126.

The judge directed the defendants, Dr O.P.S. Kande, President Indian Medical Association Punjab, Dr Jagmohan Singh, returning officer, IMA, Punjab, Dr Nirmal Dhiman, Secretary, election panel, IMA, Punjab, Dr Jaskaran Singh Gill, Member election panel, IMA and Dr Lal Chand Bansal, not to declare the results of election of Sangrur IMA unit without verifying the authenticity of the votes.

It also ordered that the result should not be declared without deciding the objections raised by the petitioner and the votes, which may or may not be opened, and whose names do not figure in the voters’ list.

Dr K.G. Singla pleaded that the election was held through postal ballot on December 15. He claims to have secured 54 votes against 53 votes polled by Dr Lal Chand Bansal.

However, he was not declared elected due to dispute over some votes. He apprehended foul play as number of controversial votes were being cast in favour of the rival candidate.

He drew the court’s attention that the foul play was evident from the fact that 136 votes were polled where the voters list circulated mentioned only 126 voters.

He said a number of voters did not receive the postal ballot but their votes were cast and then there were some voters whose name did not figure in the voters list. He claimed that one sealed envelope containing the votes of Dr Balwinder Singh Gill was found whereas he had furnished and affidavit complaining that he had not received any ballot paper.

The court has posted December 23 as next day of hearing in the case. The petition said the counting of votes was held at Sahnewal due to which the petition was filed in Ludhiana.


Woman, paramour get 6-year jail
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 22
Additional District and Sessions Judge Sukhdev Singh has sentenced a woman and her paramour to six-year imprisonment for abetting her husband to commit suicide, besides slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 each on them.

According to sources, the convict, Kuldeep Kaur, was married to Paramjit Singh of Nathuwala Garvi in 1995. The other convict, Resham Singh, was her acquaintance and used to visit Kuldeep’s home even after her marriage.

Paramjit suspected illicit relations between the two and once he spotted them in a compromising position.

Following this incident, he committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance. The father of the deceased had lodged a complaint with the police following.


Baljit Sidhu is Dhuri Bar chief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 22
Mr Baljit Singh Sidhu was unanimously elected president of the Bar Association, Dhuri, at a meeting of the association held at Dhuri today.

Mr Raghbir Rattan, Returning Officer for the association’s elections, said today that Mr Rajiv Singla, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Meemsa and Mr Darbara Singh had been elected vice-president, secretary and cashier, respectively, of the association.


Flying Instructor Capt Kang suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 22
The Punjab Civil Aviation Department today ordered the suspension of Northern India Flying Club Chief Instructor Capt S.S. Kang and handed over the charge of the club to the Chief Instructor of the Ludhiana Flying Club. The action has been taken to ensure that flying could be restarted at the club.

Disclosing this, Punjab Civil Aviation Director Rakesh Chandra said Capt Mangat of the Ludhiana Flying Club had been given charge of the Northern India club. He said the club was expected to renew flying immediately.

Mr Chandra said though the state government had suspended Capt Kang pending inquiry, it had a limited role to play in the matter. “We will conduct an inquiry into the entire issue but it is up to the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to take action against Capt Kang by suspending his flying licence”, he said. Though Mr Chandra said he did not have any knowledge about the status of suspension of the flying licence of Capt Kang, sources said even this action had been taken by the DGCA.

Meanwhile, Capt Kang attended office today, saying he had not received any communication regarding his suspension. The Chief Instructor was seen giving directions to the employees of the club. Speaking about the Tehelka sting operation in which he is shown accepting bribe money, the pilot said he had taken the money under DGCA rules. “Would I take a bribe in front of my office while sitting in the open”, he said, adding the Tehelka reporter who had come to him to get a student pilot licence (SPL) had been given a receipt for the money.

Sources disclosed that in case the DGCA took further action against Capt Kang it would be up to the Punjab Government to forward the case of another Chief Flying Instructor to the DGCA. They said then it would be up to the DGCA to approve the name.

They said the DGCA was also getting the matter examined. It deputed Capt Deepak Raina to go into the charges and also verify the record of the Northern India Flying Club to crosscheck the charges. Capt Raina during his visit to Patiala has taken some documents with him to Delhi and is likely to submit a report in this regard to the DGCA.


Cop booked for opening fire
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 22
Paramjit Singh and his companions struck terror in Sangatpur village on Monday night by opening fire in the air and pulling down a wall, which had become a bone of contention.

Paramjit Singh, a cop with the Punjab Armed Police, and his family had a dispute with Bhajan Singh of the same village over construction of a wall. After opening fire in the air from his service revolver, Paramjit broke down the wall and snapped the telephone and electricity wires of the house of Panch Nirmal Singh.

On the complaint of Bhajan Singh, the police has booked five persons, including the cop, under Sections 447, 427, 506, 336, 148 and 149 of the IPC for criminal trespass, mischief causing damage, criminal intimidation, act endangering life or personal safety of others, armed rioting etc.


Medical officer held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 22
A team of the Vigilance Bureau, led by Mr Jaspal Singh, DSP (Vigilance), Mansa, today arrested Dr Rajinder Singh Grewal, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), posted at Primary Health Centre, Longowal, for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500 from a medical practitioner.

When contacted over the phone this evening, Mr Jaspal Singh said Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a resident of Gagowal village had submitted a complaint to the vigilance authorities alleging that Dr Grewal had demanded Rs 3,000 from him, failing which he would check his certificates and other papers relating to the running of the medical practice shop. The deal was struck for Rs 1500 between them.

The DSP said the team today laid a trap near Dr Grewal’s residence at Sangrur and caught him when he was accepting the bribe money from the complainant. He said the SMO had been arrested and a case under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against him.


12-year-old girl raped
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 22
A 12-year-old girl, a resident of Daburji village, was allegedly raped by Labu of the same area.

A case has been registered at Sultanwind police station here.

The complainant alleged that the accused took her to his home from his shop and raped her.


Students, staff block traffic
Our Correspondent

Phagwara December 22
Students and staff of the local Government Senior Secondary School for Girls today boycotted classes and blocked traffic in front of the school and at Gol Chowk in protest against the registration of a case against schoolteacher Nirmal Singh under various provisions of the SC/ST Act. They also took out a protest march in the town.

The protesters presented a memorandum to SDM Pritam Singh at the site where the traffic was blocked. He assured them that the DSP would probe the matter thoroughly and hold meetings with both parties. After his assurance, the blockade was lifted.

The protesters raised slogans against the police alleging that it had implicated Mr Nirmal Singh, Commerce Lecturer, in a false case due to political pressure.

They demanded the scrapping of the case and an inquiry into the incident by a high-level agency. They also demanded check on the misuse of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

The students, including Dalit ones, stated the teacher had never used any cast-specific language against any student and that his was always very polite and friendly with students.

The protesters were addressed by Giani Pritam Singh, CPI leader, Mr V.K. Malhotra, Mr Sushil Sharma, Mr Narinder Sharma, Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhullarai and Mr Amarjit Singh.

Mr Nirmal Singh is an office-bearer of the General Categories Welfare Federation. The Ambedkar Sena, joined by other Dalit outfits, yesterday burnt an effigy of Mr Nirmal Singh on GT Road for allegedly using a caste-specific language against Satnam Kaur, a Pluss II student of the school.


2 GND varsity teachers get fellowships
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 22
The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) has selected Dr Narpinder Singh, Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology of Guru Nanak Dev University, to award Fellowship.

A university press release issued here today said that the Fellowship had been conferred on him for his outstanding contribution in the field of Food Science and Technology.

The Indian National Science Academy also conferred the INSA Medal for Young Scientist in 1993 in recognition of his outstanding research contribution. He had worked on Commonwealth scholarship as visiting scientist during 1995-1996 at the Institute of Food Research, UK.

Another teacher of the university, Dr Pratap Kumar Pati, lecturer in the Botanical and Environmental Sciences, was awarded BOYSCAST Fellowship for 2004-2005 in the area of life sciences.

The Fellowship is offered by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, to carry out advance research in overseas research institutes.

With the above Fellowship, Dr Pati will work on “functional genomics of root morphogenesis in Rice” in CIRAD-Amis Montpellier, France, for a year.


Residents seek replacement for transferred teachers
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 22
The residents of Rureke Kalan, about 20 km from here, have demanded the permanent transfer of three teachers of the local Government High School, who had been shifted temporarily from the school on the administrative grounds. They also asked for the appointment of their replacements soon.

The teachers, Ms Iqbal Kaur, Mr Janak Raj and Ms Sandeep Kumari, were shifted temporarily by the District Education Officer (DEO), Sangrur, following the demands of the Pendu Sikhia Vikas Committee of Rureke Kalan, Shaheed Baba Sidh Bhoi Sports Club and the residents.

In a statement, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Sarpanch and Chairman of the committee, Mr Mohinder Singh Cheema, Mr Surjit Singh and Mr Avtar Singh advocated strongly in favour of their permanent transfer.


10-day NSS camp inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
A 10-day National Service Scheme (NSS) camp, organised by local DAV College, was inaugurated by the Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner, at Sivian village in this district today.

The camp was being attended by about 130 boys and girls along with three programme officers.

Mr J.S. Anand, Principal, DAV College, welcomed the chief guest and informed the village panchayat of the various activities and projects like cleanliness drive, pollution check, etc. to be undertaken by the NSS volunteers during the camp.

While appreciating the efforts of NSS volunteers, Mr Kharbanda exhorted the NSS volunteers to shun bad habits, particularly drugs.

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