P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM declines to be member of PGPC panel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has declined to be a member of the advisory committee of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The Pakistan Government had recently announced the advisory committee for the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to improve the condition of gurdwaras in Pakistan. The Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the president of the Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, were taken as ex-officio members of the committee.However, Capt Amarinder Singh was nominated as member by name and not in ex-officio capacity.

In fact, Izhar-ul-Hassan, Additional Secretary of the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board, had released a list of the names of the 15-member advisory committee. Of these, 5 members have been taken from India and the remaining from western and other countries where sikhs are settled in good number and visit Sikh religious places in Pakistan on a regular basis.

Informed sources said that on the direction of Capt Amarinder Singh, the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, had conveyed to the authorities concerned in Pakistan that the CM could not be member of the committee for certain technical and official reasons.

In fact, sources said that the Chief Minister is the elected head of the Punjab Government and he could not be a member of any official body in another country without the permission of the Union Government and otherwise also. Moreover, the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which is indirectly managed by the Property Trust Board, an official body of the Pakistan Government, has not been recognised either by the Union Government or by the state in any capacity. The CM appears to be aware of the fact that his acceptance of the membership of the committee could kick up a big political controversy and give handle to the Akalis to be lash out at him.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who will visit Pakistan in the first week of February during the Basant festival, has also requested the West Punjab Pakistan Chief Minister, Mr Pervaiz Elahi, not to allow anyone to tamper with the structure of Sikh heritage buildings, especially historic gurdwaras in Pakistan in any manner.

The CM had the apprehension that babas,who would be doing kar sewa of various Sikh religious places in Pakistan, may damage the original structure of the gurdwaras as they have done in case of most historic gurdwaras in India. These babas have wiped out all historical buildings such as Chamkaur di Garhi at Chamkaur Sahib, the historic wall in which the two younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked alive at Sirhind and Thanda Burj associated with the Sikh history. These buildings have been replaced with monolith religious buildings.

During the visit, Capt Amarinder Singh would lay the foundation stone of Nankana Sahib motorway that would go straight to Nankana Sahib from the Wagah border. With the construction of the motorway, the travelling time to Nankana Sahib from Wagah would be cut by about an hour, it is learnt.


266 fishermen repatriated from Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Wagah, January 6
At least two fishermen, out of total 895 Indian fishermen, who had strayed into Pakistani waters in November 2003 died in Karachi jails, while as many as 266 repatriated to India through Wagah land route, but without their boats.

Some of the Indian fishermen who have been languishing in Karachi jail were suffering from different diseases, especially of skin.

Giving reason for not returning the boats, the released fishermen claimed that the Pakistan authorities had been using Indian boats to trap Indian fishermen in the sea. The fishermen, who belong to poor strata of the society, said without boats it would be difficult for them to resort to fishing again as they did not have money to buy new boats.

They said while fishing, they got trapped by the Pakistanis who used Indian boats for this purpose. “In the absence of buoys or any visible mark, it is practically difficult to differentiate between Indian and Pakistani waters,” they said.

This is for the first time that the fishermen had been repatriated through the Wagah land route.

The fishermen were handed over by Mr Afzal Bhatti, Wing Commander, Pakistan Rangers, to the Indian authorities. The senior BSF officials, including Mr Pardip Katyal and Mr B.S. Bhadauria, apart from the officials of district administration, including Mr Kirandip Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM were present at the joint checkpost to receive the fishermen. The fishermen were given blankets by the local district administration. A team of Fishery Department of Diu and Daman also reached to identify the fishermen.

Those who were released from Pakistan’s jail belonged to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Daman island.

The two fishermen who died in Karachi jail have been identified as Parshotam and Sidhi Nath.


Martin cancelled visit over marriage Bill row
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Same Sex Marriages Bill, which is to be introduced in Canadian Parliament (House of Commons) in its session beginning on January 31, is said to be the main reason for the cancellation of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's visit to the Golden Temple, where he was to pay obeisance on January 15.

As many as four Sikh members of Canadian Parliament--- Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, Mr Ujjal Dosanj, Ms Ruby Dhalla and Mr Navdeep Bains---were to accompany Mr Martin to the Golden Temple. One senior member of the proposed entourage of Mr Martin told The Tribune today on the phone from Canada that now Mr Martin was expected to visit India only for one day. He would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Delhi. In fact the Canadian PM, who is to visit India, China, Japan,Sri Lanka and Bangkok, has made a major change in the schedule of his visit.

Sources said that six Sikh MPs are sharply divided on the issue of same sex marriage issue, which is to be permitted in Canada by Martin's Government by passing the Bill in the coming session of Parliament. Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, an MP of the ruling Liberal Party, and Mr Gurmant Singh Grewal and his wife, Mrs Narinder Kaur Grewal, both MPs of the Opposition Conservatives, are opposing the Bill openly.

Mr Ujjal Dosanj,who is a minister in Martin's Government, is obviously supporting it because without the approval of the Council of Ministers it could not be introduced in Parliament. Interestingly, Mr Navdeep Singh Bains, a young Amritdhari Sikh MP of Canada, is said to be supporting the Bill, while another MP, Ms Ruby Dhalla, is yet to make her stand clear on it. Sources said that the Bill would get through as it had the support of a majority in the House because certain Opposition MPs are also supporting it. Otherwise, Mr Martin is heading a minority government that is supported by only 135 of the 308 MPs in the House.

In the Sikh religion same sex marriages are not allowed. It is taken as against the law of nature. Indian law also does not permit such marriages. But legal action has not been initiated anywhere as yet in India though reports of such marriages have appeared in the media.

Sources said that Mr Martin was advised that as he was considered the principal votary of the Bill, the Sikh clergy may not present him and other Sikh MPs supporting the Bill with the siropas during their visit to the Golden Temple.Non presentation of siropas would hit the Liberal Party hard politically because most of the Sikhs supporting it in Canada would turn away from it, keeping in view the posture adopted by the Sikh clergy.

In fact Mr Martin's Government could fall any time after the session. General elections would follow the fall of the government. In that election the Liberal Party would be requiring the support of Sikh voters, say sources. Because of this reason, Mr Martin wanted to avoid the siropa controversy.

In fact already a number of Sikh religious bodies of Canada have informed the Sikh clergy and the SGPC with regard to the controversy about same sex marriages and the stand taken by various bodies in this regard. The Ontario Sikh Gurdwara Committee, an apex management body of 15 Sikh gurdwaras, have publically taken a stand against the Same Sex Marriages Bill. It has built pressure on Mr Bains to oppose it. In fact a large number of churches are also opposing the Bill and campaigning against it.


Illegal mining: HP seeks Punjab’s help
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, January 6
The Himachal Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh today stressed on a joint operation by the Punjab and Himachal governments against the illegal mining in the Chaki river bed.

While talking to newsmen at village Lahroon on the Punjab Himachal border, the Chief Minister alleged that the illegal mining was continuing in the area due to non-coordination between the two governments.

At many of places the stone crusher owners were resorting to illegal mining taking advantage of the disputed border of two states. This was not only causing the ecological loss in the area but also revenue loss to the state governments.

The Himachal has already strengthened its laws concerning issuing of mining licenses in the state. Before issuing the mining license, the Department of Mining would now have to obtain a no objection certificate from the Department of Forests and all other concerned departments.

The people of the Dhar area of Punjab have been complaining against the illegal mining in the Chaki river bed which not only destroy the ecology of the area but was also damaging the water supply schemes.

The water supply schemes were the lifeline of the area since there was no under ground water or natural water resources. Still in many areas of the Dhar block of Gurdaspur, district people have to travel more than 5 km to fetch drinking water.

The Department of Public Health has been raising alarm over the decreasing water level in their supply schemes due to the large scale illegal mining in the Chaki riverbed. Almost all the drinking water supply schemes for the Dhar area are located in the Chaki river bed. These schemes have been brought under the NABARD-aided schemes.

However, due to the illegal mining, the water discharge in them has decreased from 8,000 gallon per hour to just 2,000 gallon per hour. The reason for decreased water discharge according to the Department of Public Health was that the stone crusher owners have picked up the top water retaining soil of the Chaki River.

The illegal mining was also damaging the old bridges over the river which were the vital connecting links in the area. The sources said that the bridges were designed keeping in view the river bed and the natural erosion that could be caused by water. However, now the river bed has gone down by about twenty feet due to illegal mining.

Due to this the pillars of most of the bridges on the river are getting eroded. Recently, the Department of PWD had to spend more than Rs 50 lakh on the repair of the main chaki bridge on the national highway in Pathankot. The pillar got damaged due to water erosion as the riverbed level went down.


Kisan bodies form joint front
Our Correspondent

Phagwara January 6
Agitating farmers' bodies have formed the Joint Kisan Manch on the Chathewala issue and have decided to stage a dharna in front of the Chief Minister's residence in Patiala on January 17.

This was stated here this afternoon by Mr Lehmber Singh Taggar, national joint secretary, All-India Kisan Sabha and general secretary of the Punjab Kisan Sabha.

He claimed that the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Bharati Kisan Union(Ekta), the Kisan Sangharsh Committee and the Bharati Kisan Union(Krantikari) held a meeting which was presided by the president of the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Mr Rashpal Singh.

While the first three bodies decided to form a joint front, the fourth organisaion declared to support it from the outside.

It was alleged that the administration had again decided to attach on January 20 the property of debt-trapped farmer Balwant Singh of Chathewala. Stalling this move was a challenge before the kisan movement and the January 17 protest was aimed at it, informed Mr Taggar.

Earlier, the government had to drop the move of “kurki” of Balwant Singh’s land under pressure from the farmers. The administration was trying to put roadblocks in its implementation, he alleged.

The farmers would first assemble in front of the head office of the PSEB in Patiala and raise their voice on power-related matters and then proceed to the CM’s residence.

The other demands include ridding farmers and farm workers of debts, abandoning the move to privatise and corporatise the PSEB, restoring free power and water facilities, withdrawing false cases against farmers, and giving remunerative price of sugarcane by fixing it at Rs 135 per quintal.

The meeting also mourned the victims of tsunami and Mukerian train accident, besides the deaths of the girls who died at Fatehgarh Sahib and those killed in police firing in Rajasthan during a kisan andolan. A two-minute silence was observed in this regard.


Virk seeks time to reply to charge sheet
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Punjab's Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) S.S. Virk — blamed for "willfully disobeying" orders terminating his inter-cadre deputation — has sought 10 days additional time from the Central Government for replying to the charge sheet issued against him.

The development is significant as Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to take up the issue regarding Mr Virk's continuation in the state with Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil during the period.

The Chief Minister has already written to the authorities concerned in Delhi for extending Mr Virk's deputation in the state. He has also made it clear that Mr Virk will not be relieved as he had served the state when terrorism was at its peak. In fact, the officer was shot at by the militants during the crusade.

A 1970-batch Maharashtra-cadre officer, Mr Virk is considered a hot contender for the post of Director-General of Police (DGP). The present incumbent, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, is scheduled to retire on January 31 upon attaining the age of superannuation.

Mr Virk was initially given 10 days time for submitting "written statement of defence" and also to inform the authorities concerned whether he wanted to be heard in person. The period expired on January 4.

His inter cadre deputation was terminated on April 12. Since then he has reportedly been staying in Punjab without authorisation. The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claim that Mr Virk has also been blamed in the charge-sheet for misconduct and misbehaviour, besides violating the provisions of All India Service (D&A) Rules of 1969.

The charge sheet, issued on December 21, adds that the President of India intends to hold an inquiry against him under the provisions of the service rules. The sources claim that Mr Virk has been asked to either admit or explain his conduct.

Even though Mr Virk refuses to comment on the issue, the sources in his office deny the allegations. They categorically state that Mr Virk is still in the state because he has not been relieved by the Punjab Government.

The matter, the sources add, is between the state government and the Centre. As far as Mr Virk is concerned, he will comply with the state government's orders as and when they are issued.

Mr Virk, it may be recalled, was initially asked to explain why disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated against him for "wilfully disobeying the orders" directing him to return to his parent cadre by April 30 this year.


GND varsity don quits post
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, Professor, School of Punjabi Studies, GND University, today resigned as Head, Nanak Singh Chair.

In his resignation letter addressed to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Bhatia said his honorarium and other incentives, meant for the Head be donated to Tsunami relief fund. He clarified that since his alleviation as Head of the Chair on November 23 last year he had not used any contingency or hospitality funds. He, however, thanked the VC for offering him the responsibility.

He said he wanted to continue research on the great novelist and freedom fighter Nanak Singh who had served the mother tongue and country without any vested interest or monetary benefit. He said after his appointments as Head of the Nanak Singh Chair, he thought it to be fit not to claim any extra facility benefit for avoiding any research on this subject.

Though Dr Bhatia has not assigned any solid reason for resigning as Head of Nanak Singh Chair yet it is believed that it was ‘bickering’ in the School of Punjabi Studies which compelled him to take this step.


Khanna family perishes in tsunami
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Khanna, January 6
A pall of gloom has engulfed the Ahluwalia street in the town following the news that a local resident’s daughter, her husband and two children, who had been missing since December 26 last year died in tsunami disaster in Nagapattinam district of South India. The whereabouts of five more relatives are still not known.

Meena (32), the eldest daughter of Mr Ram Gopal Dhiman, resident of Ahluwalia street, her husband; Sahil (34) and their children; Yasmin (11) and Sohail (9), had been missing since the disaster. But when Mr Dhiman and his family reached Nagoor city of Nagapattinam district, they were told that the bodies of the four were found and cremated by a social organisation.

Five relatives of the deceased are still missing and Dhimans are on the lookout for them in Nagapattinam. When a Tribune team reached the house of Mr Dhiman today, it was found locked as the entire family had gone to Nagoor. Their neighbours said they would return on January 15.

Mr Dhiman confirmed the news of the death of his daughter and her family to a neighbour, Ms Manmohan Kaur, here over the phone yesterday. She said Meena was settled at Madurai in Chennai and on the fateful day the entire family had gone to the seaside in Nagapattinam and Kanya Kumari as Sahil’s brother and his family was visiting them from Malaysia. They are still missing besides Sahil’s mother, father and sister.

Ms Manmohan Kaur said on the fateful day, wife of Mr Dhiman was sitting with her and watching the tragedy on the TV when she received a telephone call from Nagoor. ‘‘Just after the phone call, she started crying. We could not know what had happened. Her daughters and neighbours kept asking her and she said her eldest daughter was missing. We could not understand what was Meena doing at Nagoor as she did not live there.’’

Then the neighbours advised them to leave for the place immediately. ‘‘We did not have their phone number so we could not contact them all these days. Finally Mr Dhiman called up yesterday and told us that he could not even perform the last rites of the deceased as they were cremated by a social organisation.

Mr Dhiman said Meena could have survived had she not jumped into the water to rescue her children. The bodies of Meena and her children were found clinging to each other.’’ she said.


Badal flags off relief supplies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal today announced that he would head relief supplies donated by prominent non resident Indian Darshan Singh Dhaliwal to Tamil Nadu to distribute the same among people affected by the tsunami.

Flagging off around 100 trucks containing relief material for the tsunami victims, Mr Badal said besides him, SGPC President Jagir Kaur, Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra and a team of doctors and 500 Akali workers would also go to Tamil Nadu.

The relief material, which includes rice, cereals, powder milk, cooking oil, salt, tea, clothes and medicines would be sent to Tamil Nadu by train. Mr Dhaliwal said he had been in contact with the office of the Governor of Tamil Nadu and only things which had been requested for by the state were being sent as part of the relief effort.


BBMB gives Rs 56.75 lakh cheque for relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has contributed Rs 56.75 lakh towards the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for rehabilitation of tsunami victims. The BBMB employees have contributed one day’s salary and several officials have contributed more for this cause.

The BBMB Red Cross Society, Talwara and BBMB Red Cross Society, Nangal, have also contributed Rs 1 lakh or this purpose.

The Chairman of BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, handed over the cheque to the Union Power Minister P.M. Sayeed in Delhi.


Club donates Rs 51,000 for tsunami victims
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 6
Members of the Ferozepore Club handed over a draft for Rs 51,000, earmarked for the New Year function, to the patron of the club, Maj-Gen B. Sivasankar, to forward it to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to help tsunami victims at a function here.

Mr Anirudh Gupta, executive member of the club, said the amount was voluntarily contributed by the members of the club towards the noble cause. He said the club had earlier cancelled all New Year related programmes.

While speaking on the occasion, General Sivasankar praised the members of the club for helping the tsunami victims. Besides senior Army officials of Golden Arrow Division, members of the executive committee of the club, including Dr Kamal Baghi, Mr V.M. Singhal, Dr Harsh Bhola and Group Captain R.S. Mainaise (retd), were present on the occasion.


Anti-collision device on rail tracks likely
Tribune News Service

Hussainpur (Kapurthala), January 6
While terming “human failure” as the cause of the Mukerian rail tragedy, Mr R.Velu, Minister of State for Railways, said the Railways was planning to introduce automatic anti-collision device on all routes so as to rule out any mishap in case of any such error.

The minister stated this during his visit to the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) soon after he flagged off the 15,000th coach manufactured here since its inception.

Mr Velu said the Railways was planning to switch over to automatic systems so that no such accidents caused by carelessness in receiving or sending of signals could occur. He said the device would ensure that the engines of the trains approaching each other on the same line stop automatically.

The minister said the device had been designed by the Konkan Railways and had been proven successful during its trials being held in a track of 1,750 km in North-Eastern Railways and Southern Railways.

He said the device would be installed in phases and would gradually be fitted on almost all major routes.

Talking about the Mukerian accident, Mr Velu said the inquiry report that had been prepared had shown that it was a mistake of the station masters of Bhangala and Mirthal who gave the clearance to the drivers even as the rail line was engaged.

He said in case one system of communication had failed, there were alternate systems, including paper line clearance and VHF that they could have used.

He said the inquiry that had been going on could even lead to dismissal of both station masters and registration of cases of criminal negligence against both of them depending of the veracity of the case.


NGO to celebrate 25th anniversary
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 6
Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, an NRIs' sponsored NGO and a brain-child of social worker Dr Budh Singh Dhahan, is a unique and worth emulating social service organisation as it has not only set up huge infrastructure facilities to provide health care and education facilities, but also given new dimensions to the community service. The Trust, which is a beacon for other community service institutions, is gearing up to observe silver jubilee celebrations of its inception on February 5 and 6.

Prominent political, social, religious leaders and representatives of NGOs from across the country and abroad would participate in the celebrations, aimed at mooting new role, strategies and directions for the NGOs, to enable them to undertake community service projects in planned manner.

Baba Budh Singh has started organising meetings in different towns to mobilise people for participating in the celebrations. The trust, which runs a 250-bed multi-speciality hospital, a nursing school and college having partnership with the UBC School of Nursing, Vancouver (Canada), a 15-bed de-addiction centre and a senior secondary school, is spread over 30 acres donated by the village panchayats of Dhahan and Kaleran on the Nawanshahr - Jalandhar highway.

Besides, the trust in collaboration with the Canada-based organisations, CIDA and CIES, has been running a project "Building Capacity for Primary Healthcare in Rural Punjab".

The trust has recently started the construction of a 39-bed trauma and cardiology centre.

Bhai Mohinder Singh, pramukh sewadar, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewa Jatha, UK, and Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, have assured cooperation in executing the project, which would be first of its kind in the state.

Baba Budh Singh Dhahan, also called "Baba ji", founder president of the trust, says that the need of the hour is to plan the community service projects well in advance so that the resources do not go waste.

He said the NRIs desirous of serving their country should also see that their money was being utilised for ameliorating the sufferings of their community with the same spirit with which such donations were made.

Baba Budh Singh, who had been a political and social activist here, had left for Canada in late sixties. During his stay there, he got inspiration of community service from the Christians and the Jews. Besides, he also experienced that other communities in India, particularly in South, have also made rapid strides in making quality health care a routine aspect of rural life.

After coming back to India, Baba Budh Singh set up the Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust in 1979 and motivated the panchayats of Dhahan and Kaleran villages to donate the land for setting up a hospital.

A number of NRIs and NGOs based in various countries, including Canada, UK, USA, started contributing towards the community service projects undertaken by the trust in the Doaba region.

Baba Budh Singh is now looking forward to set up a medical college at Dhahan Kaleran in the Doaba region, which has been deprived of any medical college or university by the government.


Sugarfed to raise Bhogpur mill capacity
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 6
The Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has directed the Punjab Sugarfed to enhance the existing sugarcane crushing capacity of Punjab’s oldest Bhogpur Sugar Mill by about five times so as to utilise the abundant crop of farmers of Bhogpur and the surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, Punjab Sugarfed was also tossing with the idea of setting up a 20 MW power plant and a distillery in the Bhogpur sugarmill.

The sugarmill has been facing problems like strikes by employees in the past and the present sugarcane capacity was just 1200-1300 quintals per day. Though the Bhogpur area of Jalandhar district has been known for rich sugarcane crop, but due to less capacity and other problems, the farmers have to take their produce to mills at Mukerian, Dasuya and other places, resulting in a lot of difficulties to them.

But keeping in view the problems of the farmers, the Punjab Sugarfed authorities had planned to enhance the capacity of the mill and subsequently the Punjab Chief Minister has given his nod for the project, the estimated cost of which is to be around Rs. 125 crore.

The existing per day capacity of 1200-1300 quintal will be enhanced to 6,000 quintals and the Punjab Sugarfed authorities feel that this should be sufficient to meet the requirements of farmers of the area.

“We have got the CM’s nod for the project and we are likely to accomplish it within a year. The survey of the project is being planned and an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh is being given to a Delhi-based company. The Punjab Sugarfed will contribute Rs 12.5 crore towards the project, while the rest of amount will be generated by arranging loans from banks and from other sources,” said Kanwaljit Singh Lalli, the Chairman of the Punjab Sugarfed.

In addition to this, we are also envisaging to set up a 20 MW capacity power plant for generation of power from wastage and a distillery. As a substitute to the distillery, a cattle feed making unit can also be set-up in the Bhogpur Sugar Mill for utilisation of wastage.

The Punjab Sugarfed, according to Mr Lalli, has also decided to clear the arrears of sugarcane growers worth Rs 60-65 crore within two months. “From next year, sugarcane growers will get cash payment for their crop.”


A generous ATM!
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 6
“If you are an account holder of the State Bank of Patiala (SBP), you may withdraw more money than you have in your bank account from the automated teller machine (ATM) of the local main branch of the SBP as sometimes it shows the same balance even after the withdrawal of amount from the bank by an account holder”.

This has been observed by some account holders who found the same balance in their accounts at the ATM even after withdrawing thousands of rupees from the bank. It has been reportedly happening for the past some months, perhaps due to technical fault in the ATM. Two to three account holders had reportedly brought the matter into the notice of the local bank authorities, but the situation remained the same.

Mr Mahesh Kumar, a government employee, had reportedly withdrawn Rs 80,000 during the past some days through the ATM against the balance of about Rs 50,000 in his bank account at Bhawanigarh. After that he brought the matter to the notice of the bank authorities here. Mr Mahesh Kumar told TNS over the phone today that he had withdrawn excess amount of Rs 30,000 just on the trial basis, so he had today deposited the amount in the bank at Bhawanigarh.

In another case, a retired Principal, Mr Ajit Singh Jawanda, issued a cheque for Rs 4 lakh on December 10 last year to get the amount deposited in the post office’s “Senior citizen scheme”. The cheque was cleared on December 11 and Mr Ajit Singh got an entry recorded in his post office passbook. But even after some days, the ATM was reportedly showing balance more than Rs 4 lakh in his account. Mr Ajit Singh Jawanda told this reporter that he brought the matter to the notice of the bank authorities and after that balance in his account was corrected.

Mr Karamvir Madan, a post office agent and chief representative of UTI, said his cousin sister Anjali withdrew Rs 2,500 from the bank in June last year, but the balance remained the same even after withdrawing the amount. He claimed that despite bringing this to the notice of the bank authorities, nothing was done.

When contacted today, Mr V.K. Gupta, Assistant General Manager (AGM) of the local main branch of the SBP, admitted that it had come to his notice that there was a fault in the ATM, due to which it had been showing same balance even after the withdrawal of money from the bank by an account holder. He said he had already informed about it to the head office of the SBP at Patiala. He said that remedial measures were being taken by the bank in this regard.


PSEB increases load of tubewell connections
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
The Punjab State Electricity Board have earned more than Rs 3.5 crore by increasing the electricity load of about 11,000 tubewell connections installed in its western zone, comprising Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Muktsar districts.

Mr S.S. Sangha, Chief Engineer (Distribution), PSEB, Western Zone, in a press note issued here today said, farmers who had been applying for the increase of load of their tubewell connections were being charged at the rate of Rs 1,000 per horse power despite the fact that earlier they were charged at the rate of Rs 3,000 per horse power. He said the farmers were being given concession under a special scheme launched for them by the PSEB. The scheme would be remain in force till January 31.


Dal Khalsa threatens to de-recognise Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
The Dal Khalsa today threatened to de-recognise the Jathedar of Akal Takht for allegedly playing a partisan role in affairs concerning the Damdami Taksal.

Addressing a press conference here, party president Harchranjit Singh Dhami said instead of becoming a party in the factional feud of the Taksal , the Jathedar of Akal Takht should have remained neutral .

A spokesman of Akal Takht Secretariat while ridiculing the decision of radical organizations claimed that being a ‘rootless’ organization , de-recognition by Dal Khalsa won’t have any impact on the Jathedar. Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, a former personal assistant to the Jathedar of Akal Takht alleged that the Dal Khalsa had no mass following. He accused the Dal Khalsa of adopting ‘double standards’ on important Panthic affairs.


SAD (Amritsar) to hold protest at Gwalior Air Base
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president , Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today announced a boycott of goods imported from France and to organise a protest at Gwalior Air Base in protest against the ban on turban. He termed the French Government decision as undemocratic and non-secular.

In a press conference here today, he said as per the Indian government’s policy to purchase military equipment from those countries which supported India in getting membership of the UN Security Council, it should also pressurise the French Government to lift the ban of turbans and if it failed to do so, the government should terminate import business with that country.


Takht pays homage to Indira’s assassins
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
Tributes were paid to Satwant Singh, Beant Singh and Kehar Singh, alleged assassins of Ms Indira Gandhi, at Akal Takht, here today.

While the senior leaders of SAD (Amritsar) and other radical Sikh organisations were present on the occasion, leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal were conspicuous by their absence.

Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, appealed to the Sikh Panth to commemorate the death anniversaries of the ‘heroes’ of the Panth on a large scale. Among those who participated in the function included Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Ajaib Singh, manager, Darbar Singh and other dignitaries.


Langar started at medical college
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 6
Kar Sewa Jatha Jand Sahib today commenced ‘langar’ for patients admitted to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here. The ‘langar’, which would be served daily, was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, the chief of the Jatha, Sant Ajeet Singh, said earlier a canteen was catering to the needs of patients, but due to paucity of funds it was shut down about six years back.

He expressed the hope that their endeavour would benefit the patients and their attendants, especially those who had come from far-flung areas.

He said the patients would be given food as per the recommendations of the hospital’s dietician.

The district secretary of CPI, Mr Pawanpreet Singh, said that the facility of ‘langar’ would be of great help to patients from poorer sections of society.

Red Cross secretary Gurdial Singh, Dr H. L. Kajal, and others were also present on the occasion.


Income tax staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
A large number of employees of the Income Tax Department today staged a dharna in front of the local office of the IT Commissioner on a call given by the Income Tax Gazetted Services Association and the Income Tax Employees Federation in support of their demands.

In a press note here, representatives of various employees’ federation said their demands included implementing revised pay scales of Income Tax Officers and Inspectors with effect from January 1, 1996, promotion of the cadres for which recruitment rules were yet to be notified on the basis of the instruction issued on June 4, 2001, and filling vacant posts.

The other demands include promotion of the cadre of Assistant Commissioner Income Tax for the recruitment years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 and Joint Commissioner Income Tax for the recruitment year of 2004-2005, besides the promotion of Group D employees to fill 25 vacancies in the cadre of Tax Assistants which were earmarked for this category. 


CM to unfurl flag on Jan 26 at Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh will unfurl national flag on Republic Day in the sports stadium here on January 26.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today, said arrangements were being made to celebrate the function in a big way and a high level meeting in this regard was held today.

He added that full-dress rehearsal would be conducted on January 24. A committee under the chairmanship of Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, ADC (D) had been constituted to select the cultural programme.


High Court
Punjab Govt’s decision challenged
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 6
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice for February 17 on a petition challenging the authority of the Punjab Government in bestowing Cabinet and minister of state rank on chairpersons of State-owned boards and corporations.

The petitioner, Mr Rajan Bir Singh, son of slain Congress leader Balwant Singh, has challenged the decision of the government in bestowing Cabinet rank on the Chairpersons of two boards/corporations and Minister of State-rank on some others.

In his petition, Mr Rajan Bir has questioned the decision to give Cabinet minister status to Mr J.S. Mann, Chairperson of Punjab Agro Foods Limited, and Mr Brahm Mohindra, Chairperson of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation. He has also challenged grant of Minister of State status to Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairperson of Punjab Communications Limited and Mr Mohinder Rinwa, Chairperson of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

The petitioner has stated that by giving Cabinet and Minister of State status to the four, the government has circumvented the provisions of the Constitution as also the 91st Amendment.

Today, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla issued notice to the respondents for February 17.

Contempt notice

Mr Justice Pritam Pal of the High Court has issued notice of contempt to Mr Sagli Ram, Chief Manager and Mr A K Manchanda, Manager of State Bank of Patiala.

The notice was issued on a petition filed by Mr Kulwant Singh, whose grievance was that despite court orders to maintain status quo regarding the mortgaged properties of M/S Baljindra Rice Mills, the bank took possession of the same.

In his plea, Mr Kulwant Singh alleged that this order was violated by one Balwinder Singh who illegally trespassed on the mortgaged properties of the petitioner and started running the drier of the rice shellar with the connivance of the bank officers.

During hearing, advocate Pankaj Gupta, counsel for petitioner, contended that the officers of the bank failed to discharge their duty, as they were required to take care of the properties in their custody.

The case will now come up for hearing on March 1.


Naqvi, Khurana court arrest in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Continuing with their “fight for the rights of Dalits” allegedly forced to drink urine from the slippers of upper caste members in Fazilka district, BJP’s vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Delhi’s former Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana courted arrest in the national Capital this morning. The two leaders were accompanied by the alleged victims and other party workers.

They were marching towards the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi when they were taken into custody by the Delhi Police, according to BJP leader-cum-national executive of the party’s youth wing Vineet Joshi. The delegation also moved the National Scheduled Caste Commission, Mr Joshi added. “An inquiry has been ordered”, he said.

Giving details of the developments, he said the delegation initially met BJP president L.K. Advani at the party headquarters before marching towards Ms Gandhi’s residence. The other BJP leaders courting arrest included Vijay Sampla, Swarna Ram, Rajesh Baga, Balwant Rai, Rajkumar and Manjit Bali, besides Vineet Joshi.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has already ordered a probe into the incident. Commission Chairman Justice N.C. Jain on Tuesday directed Additional Director-General of Police (Crime) to look into the incident and submit his report. Justice Jain had also directed the ADGP to “ensure through a responsible officer that no harassment was caused to the complainants”.

Giving details of the incident, the three victims — Bittu Singh, Gurbaksh Singh and Piara Singh — had claimed that the “aggressors” were nursing a grudge against them. The reason, they added, was that their relative Jangir Singh’s son Nanak Singh had quarrelled with classmate Amarjit Singh, belonging to the upper caste members. The fight had taken place during a cricket match on November 22.


Contempt notice to Jail Superintendent
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 6
Taking a serious note over the delay in producing accused, who were lodged in jail in Nabha, in the court the Ropar district court today issued a contempt notice to the Superintendent of the jail.

While issuing the contempt notice, the District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr A.K Sharma, stated in his order that “a contempt notice be issued to the jail Superintendent, Nabha, for the delay in producing the accused in the court and disobeying the orders of the court to produce the accused before 10 am”. In addition to it, the Judge has also stated that the notice should be issued to the Superintendent as to why his salary should not be attached. He was told to file reply on February 15.

As per the court orders, the jail authorities was to produce the undertrials, who were lodged in the Nabha jail before 10 a.m in the court. But today the bus carrying the undertrials, reached late the court and an ASI from the jail produced them in the court about 1 p.m.

The Judge issued the contempt notice to Superintendent while hearing the proceeding of the murder case. The statement of Surinder Kaur could not be recorded in the case as the accused were produced late in the court.


Khet Mazdoor Sabha for continuation of pension
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 6
It was a day of protests in the city. While the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha staged protest outside the DC’s office seeking continuation of pension to elderly, widows, and disabled, the Trade Union Council took out a rally against the suspension of two teachers from a private college.

A large number of elderly men and women participated in the rally taken out by Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha. The rally culminated outside the DC’s office where the agitators raised slogans against the state government.

Addressing the rally, the national council member of All India Khet Mazdoor Union, Ms Kushal Bhaura, demanded that the pension to elderly, widows, and disabled be resumed immediately and their monthly pension be hiked from the present Rs 200 to Rs 600. It was also demanded that if a pensioner dies then his/her pension deposited in the bank be given to his kin. The union leaders urged the government to make a provision of Rs 2,000 to pregnant labourers and ensure minimum 20 days of work to farm labourers in a month. The union leaders alleged that there was lot of bungling in the Central Government’s welfare schemes.

They sought a probe into embezzlement in various schemes and punishment to guilty. The state office-bearer of CPI, Mr Jagroop Singh, demanded that farm labourers be given 150 units free electricity every month and the below poverty line (BPL) limit be revised to Rs 30,000 per annum.

The union leaders alleged that new ration cards were not being issued to labourers and sought the same immediately. They urged the state government to check “police atrocities” against Dalits.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Council took out a rally against Satya Sai Murlidhar Ayurvedic College management for suspending Mr Navneet Jindal and Ms Sushma Jindal.

The council members also burnt the effigy of the management committee secretary, Mr Balkrishan Jindal.

Addressing the rally, the council leaders, Mr Darshan Singh Toti and Mr Varinder Kaura, alleged that both the teachers were “illegally” thrown out of their jobs and now no one was hearing their side of the story.

They alleged that the management committee was running away from talks on the issue.

They warned that if both the teachers were not reinstated the council would intensify its agitation. Other unions, including the government-aided Private School Teachers Union, Punjab Government Transport Workers Union, Private Transport Workers Union, PSEB Employees Federation, and Bank Employees Federation also participated in the rally.

In yet another protest, the Lok Sangram Manch protested against their leader Mr Tara Singh’s arrest in Bihar. Tara Singh is the state committee member of the Manch. Aurat Mukti Manch, BKU Krantikari, Pendu Mazdoor Manch, Radical Students Union, and Nepali Jan Adhikar Samiti, also joined the protest march.

The state general secretary of the Manch, Mr Balwant Makhu, addressed the gathering.


Farming conference from tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 6
The delegates from Nepal and various Indian states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir will take part in the two-day conference on agriculture, beginning here on January 8.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian, state president of the Punjab Khetibari Te Kissan Vikas Front, said the Punjab Khetibari Te Kissan Vikas Front and Nature Human Centric People Movement would jointly host this conference.

Mr Kulrian while dwelling on the aims and objects of this conference revealed that this conference was being organised to focus attention on most serious crisis being faced by the agriculture sector all over the world, which was adversely affecting the environment as well as humanity.

He divulged that the conference would cover all dimensions of agriculture i.e. its historical origin, international, national, regional and ground levels.

He said the conference would also hold parleys on Punjab agriculture which was facing its worst moment.

He said a celebrated intellectual, Mr. R.P. Saraaf, would present his paper in this conference.

Apart from this, a team of agriculture experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Kissan Union leaders, farmers, and agriculture experts from various parts of the country were expected to participate in this conference.


3 businessmen assaulted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara January 6
Three businessmen, including a father-son duo, were assaulted with a sharp-edged weapon by four car-borne youths on a service lane along GT Road last night.

The car of one of the businessmen was also damaged by the assailants.

The businessmen who were assaulted are Mr Ashok Sethi, Director, Fine Group of Companies, local Industrial Area, Mr Rajesh Bhanot, owner of a departmental store, and his son Arjun Bhanot.

Mr Rajesh Bhanot and Mr Arjun Bhanot were admitted to Civil Hospital here. Mr Sethi was admitted to a private hospital but later discharged.

Mr Sethi sustained an injury on his right thigh. However, Mr Bhanot sustained multiple and serious injuries. His son got minor injuries.

The police has registered a case under Sections 324, 325 and 427 of the IPC against four assailants — Chander Mohan, alias Sona,Vishal Bugga, Deepak Kumar, alias Dara, and Ranjit Singh, alias Rana.

It was learnt today that the three businessmen were standing on the side of the service lane and chatting. A car hit one of them mildly. When one of them asked the occupants of the car to drive carefully, they attacked them with a sharp-edged weapon. They also damaged the new Ford car of the Bhanots.

The assailants were allegedly inebriated.


Murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 6
The police today claimed to have solved a murder mystery by arresting three persons. An 18-year-old Rajbir Singh, alias Sonu, was attacked and critically injured on December 16 when he was returning along with his friend to his native Mauli village from Phagwara. He succumbed to his injuries the next day.

The police continued the probe and traced the killers. The police disclosed that one Rupinder Singh, alias Pinda of Jandusingha village had his maternal relatives at Mauli. He made a plan with his friend Kuldip Singh, alias Deepa of his village and Harjinder Singh, alias Jinder of Talwandi Arayian village to snatch cellphone from the deceased Rajbir Singh. They chased Rajbir on a sccoter and hit him with the handle of a handpump. The accused fled after snatching his mobile, Rs 1,500 and a wrist watch.


Poppy husk burnt
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
More than 72 quintals of poppy husk seized by the police of different police stations of this district in the past few years was destroyed after burning the same at Jassi Pau wala village under the supervision of a committee, comprising Mr G.S. Grewal, DIG, Faridkot range, Mr S.K. Verma, SP (H), Bathinda, and Mr Gurdeep Singh Pannu, SP (H), Mansa, today as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said the poppy husk, which was destroyed today, was seized in about 266 cases.

He added that all policemen, including officials working in Bathinda district had contributed their one day salary amounting to Rs 3.15 lakh, as contribution to the relief being extended to the victims of tsunami disaster.


Man’s body found
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 6
The body of an unidentified person was found from a nullah in the Bariyali village today.

It is learnt that Mohan Lal, a resident of the village, who went out in the fields to ease himself saw the body in a nullah this morning. He informed the police which reached the scene and took out the body.

The body is in a decomposed state and has been kept in the mortuary at the local Civil Hospital for identification. The post mortem will be carried out after two days.


Bir Devinder promises infrastructure in college
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 6
Proper infrastructure will be provided to the local government college, which the institution was lacking till now. Funds for various works have been cleared in this regard.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, while talking to mediapersons here today after holding a meeting with officials of various departments on the premises of the college.

He said a student’s centre was being constructed at a cost of Rs 39.50 lakh. The construction work on the double-storey building would start on February 1. Apart from having a canteen facility, the centre would have a large hall for interactive sessions. Ramp facility would also be provided for physically challenged persons.

The MLA said that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had announced that a computer centre would be set up at the college at a cost of Rs 28 lakh. A plan of the project had been prepared and the Chief Minister had been requested to release funds for the centre from his discretionary quota. The centre would have 20 computers, two servers, two laser printers, a multi media project, a scanner and would use an advanced software.

Planning for carrying out plantation on the campus had been made for the next 50 years and the work of landscaping at the college had been handed over to the Forest Department. A milk bar and a juice bar would also be set up for the convenience of students.

He said funds released for upgrading science laboratories were inadequate for the work. A sum of Rs 70 lakh was needed to bring the laboratories up to the mark. A tubewell on the campus was not functioning for the past more than one year. A new tubewell would be sunk at a cost of Rs 16.46 lakh and the work would be completed in about two months time. The MP of the area had been approached to release funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh out of his quota for updating the college library.

Regarding a proposal of the government to construct offices of the directorate of the Education Department on the college campus, the MLA said he had written to the Chief Minister and other ministers concerned to cancel the decision, which had been taken by the previous government.

He said the decision was wrong as the college would become a centre of agitations if offices were constructed here and this would adversely affect the academic atmosphere of the college. Moreover, as the offices could not be given a direct entry from the national highway, the route would be through the college.


Panel to submit report on religious varsity: Badal 
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 6
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President SAD (Badal), today presided over the meeting of the trust, constituted for the formation of “Guru Granth Sahib 4th Century World University” at Fatehgarh Sahib by the SGPC, at BBSB Engineering College here.

After the meeting, he told the mediapersons that a four-member committee, consisting of former Chief Secretary R.S. Mann, former Advocate-General Mr H. S. Mattewal, former Vice-Chancellor Punjabi University Jasbir Singh Ahluwaia and Darshan Singh Rakhra, has been formed for the purpose.

He said the study of the Sikh religion as well as the comparative study of other religions would be provided on the priority basis.

He said Mr Ahluwalia would be the secretary of the committee and the committee would present its report soon. He said that services of foreign experts would be taken to set the academic pattern. He said Mr Rakhra had offered to bear all expenses for preparing the project report and also for preparing the architectural design of the university. He added that the SGPC had agreed to give 80.

However, majority of the members, who took part in today’s meeting expressed concern over the nomination of Mr Ahluwalia as the secretary.

Among those who attended the meeting included Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Dalmegh Singh, Bibi Kiranjit Kaur and Mr Didar Singh Bhatti.


Seminar held on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
A two-day seminar on the theme “Guru Granth Sahib and 21st Century” was organised by the Department of Guru Granth Sahib Studies. It was inaugurated by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Takht Kesgarh Sahib. Vice-Chancellor, Dr Swarn Singh Boparai presided over the function.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the domain of religion is being dominated by political interests of a dominant section in politics and, in his opinion, people have drifted from the path shown by the Gurus. He added that there was a need to make available the message of Guru Granth Sahib to people of all religions and backgrounds, as Guru Granth Sahib is the common spiritual heritage of whole mankind

Dr Jasbir Singh Rana, in his key-note address, highlighted the principles of independence, equality and brotherhood in Guru Granth Sahib. Punjabi University Registrar Dr Param Bakhshish Singh talked about some negative effects of advancement of science and technology. Dr Gurnam Kaur, Head of the Department, introduced the theme of the seminar and blamed Sikh politicians who always try to keep apart the academics and the religio-spiritual stream of Sikhism.”

A book “Maran Kabul”, written by Dr Sarbjinder Singh, was released on the occasion. Dr S.S. Joshi presented a vote of thanks.


Bengal institute students hold protest
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 6
Students of Bengal Institute of Medical Sciences, Raikot, Ludhiana, held a protest outside a hotel in Phase IX here today where a meeting of the officials of the Punjab Nursing Council was being held.

Students raised slogans against the college authorities and demanded immediate migration. They said the Raikot institute should be closed down as it was playing with the future of the students. The protesters even tried to gherao officials of the nursing council when they moved out of the hotel after the meeting ended. Some of the students tried to block the way and did not allow the car of the chairman of the council to move for some time.

Officials of the nursing council met today to discuss the issue of the Bengal Institute of Medical Sciences. It is learnt the show-cause notice will be issued to the institution.

Students alleged that they were being threatened by the college authorities after they had started a protest demanding adequate facilities. They further alleged that the college authorities had hired staff on a temporary basis when a team of officials of the nursing council had gone to the institution for inspection. They said the college was facing acute shortage of staff and students were not made to do any practicals. The institution did not have any building of its own and was being run in a rented accommodation. A cattleshed had been turned into a hostel and students had to go to a nearby petrol station to take a bath.

The students said that the college had admitted 60 students even when permission for 50 students had been granted by the Punjab Nurses Registration Council.

Mr Nirmal Singh Mahant, a former MLA, who has rented out two buildings to the college, alleged that the college authorities were trying to manage with only one or two teachers and were also charging fees much more than the norms specified in this regard. He further alleged that officials of the nursing council were aware of the situation but no action was being taken against the college authorities.

Mr J.S. Dalal, chairman of the council, refused to divulge the details of the meeting. He said the decisions taken would be forwarded to the security concerned as the final decision had to be taken by the government. He said a video film of the institution had been prepared which was shown to members at the meeting. He assured the students that their demand of migration would be conceded to.

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