P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



It will be Amarinder versus Badal again
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The border town of Ajnala is all set to witness yet another battle for electoral supremacy between the ruling Congress and the unified Opposition comprising the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Stakes will be high both for the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, after the ruling party had recorded impressive wins in the previous two byelections in Garhshankar and Kapurthala.

Ajnala seat had fallen vacant after the previous incumbent, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2004 General Elections.

Major Rajbir Singh (retd), who resigned as chairman of the Punjab Livestock Development Board in protest against the denial of Congress ticket to him, has at last, to the great relief of partymen, decided against opposing his younger brother, Mr Harpartap Singh.

And Akalis, too, must have heaved a sigh of relief as the Shiromani Akali Dal 1920 of former Punjab Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, decided to boycott the byelection.

Though a couple of Independents are in the fray, yet the constituency will witness a battle between Mr Harpartap Singh (Congress) and Mr Amarpal Singh Bony (Shiromani Akali Dal).

Congressmen have every reason to be elated at their initial success of persuading Major Rajbir Singh (retd) to stay away from the contest. Supported by the entire might of the state government, Mr Harpartap Singh, who lost narrowly - by 356 votes in the 2002 Assembly elections - will now look forward to avenging his defeat.

At that time, he was a novice to electoral politics. And this time, his opponent, Mr Amarpal Singh “bony”, is making his debut in poll politics.

Incidentally, both Mr Harpartap Singh and Mr Amarpal Singh come from families of politicians who have represented the constituency in Punjab Vidhan Sabha more than once.

While the Congress made a massive show of its strength on February 2, the day its nominee filed his nomination papers, the Shiromani Akali Dal also attempted a similar show of strength yesterday when Mr Amarpal Singh filed his nomination papers.

Ajnala, which borders Pakistan, has diversity in its electoral college. It has a fairly large percentage of both Christians and Rai Sikhs while Hindus are a minority in the constituency.

Ajnala town has witnessed some progress and development in the recent past as it has a new subdivisional administrative complex. The town is mainly twined around the single road bazar.

Polythene-made Tricolour buntings and banners were fluttering on the day entire Punjab Congress leadership descended on the town to accompany Mr Harpartap Singh to the office of the Returning Officer for filing nominations.

Though there are no major issues for the byelection, the Congress intends to seek votes on the basis of the development it has done in Punjab, especially for improving the fiscal health of the state, besides ensuring smooth procurement of each and every grain produced by farmers of the state.

The fight against corruption and safeguarding interests of the state - Termination of Water Agreements Act - are some of the other planks on which it will try to garner support

Mr Parkash Singh Badal has been campaigning in the area for the past several days. Accompanied by other senior Akali and BJP leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Bibi Jagir Kaur and former Test cricketer, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, he has been moving from village to village holding corner meetings to convince voters that the Congress regime in the State was not only anti-people, and anti-farmer but also anti-Punjab.

They are criticising both the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for rising prices, including those of petroleum products, sugar and disappearance of farm inputs, including urea from the market. The state government is being attacked for the reign of terror on all sections of society, including farmers, elementary teachers and chemists.

Both the Congress and Akali Dal have inducted all senior functionaries to campaign here. Many of the Punjab ministers, MPs, MLAs, Mayors and other Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) office-bearers, too, have been assigned duties in different pockets of the constituency.

The Akalis, supported by the BJP, are also not taking any chances. 


Major Rajbir not to contest
Direct fight between SAD, Cong in Ajnala
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, February 5
With Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala (retd), elder brother of Congress candidate Harpartap Singh, deciding not to file his nomination paper as rebel candidate today, it is a now straight contest between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, in the forthcoming Ajnala byelection scheduled to be held on February 23.

Though three candidates filed their papers as Independents on the last day , raising the total number of candidates to seven , yet the actual contest will be between SAD candidate Amarpal Singh Bonny and Mr Harpartap Singh.

Addressing a rally of supporters at Congress Bhavan here, Major Rajbir Singh said he had decided not to contest the election being a disciplined party worker he, however, said that he would participate in the campaign only if Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh personally visited his house and persuade his supporters.

The meeting was arranged at the behest of senior Congress leadership, including Cabinet Minister Jasjit Singh and Mr Sardul Singh Bundala. Earlier, both ministers held a closed door meeting with Major Rajbir Singh Ajnala. Major Rajbir Singh had resigned as Chairman of the Punjab Livestock Development Corporation in protest against the denial of party ticket for the bypoll. Two Block Congress presidents of Ajnala and Mr Harsha Chhina had also resigned in support of Major Rajbir Singh. It is learnt that both block presidents would withdraw their resignations.

Those who filed their papers today were Mr Sukhwant Singh, Mr Harwinder Singh and Mr Raj Kumar.

The scrutiny of papers would be held on February 7. The withdrawal of papers would be on February 9.

Meanwhile, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has convened a review meeting in the main election office of the party here. Mr Lal Singh, Cabinet Minister, Mr Sant Ram Singla and senior leaders of the Congress would participate.


SAD wants forces for Ajnala byelection
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 5
A deputation of the MPs of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), led by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP from Sangrur and secretary-general of the SAD, will meet the Chief Election Commissioner of India on Monday in New Delhi to urge him to depute paramilitary forces and send more Central Election Observers for the Ajnala Assembly byelection to ensure free and fair elections.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Mr Dhindsa said the SAD was of the view that the Congress and the Amarinder government would use every tool to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate in the byelection. He said the camping of a large number of Punjab ministers and administrative officers in the Ajnala constituency supported their apprehensions about possible “rigging” by the official machinery in the byelection.

Mr Dhindsa also stated that the SAD had divided the Ajnala Assembly constituency into several zones to ensure free and fair elections and prevent the Congress and the government from doing anything wrong in the byelection. He said the 14-number zone had been allotted to Sangrur district by the party, for which duties had already been assigned to the Akali workers of the district.

Mr Dhindsa also said no exit poll should be allowed before the completion of all phases of the elections in the country as the exit polls of the first phase became instrumental in changing the minds of voters of the second, third or the fourth phases.

With regard to implementation of VAT in Punjab from April 1, Mr Dhindsa said SAD experts on economic affairs were examining the VAT provisions. After the report of the experts, a meeting of the party would decide on the matter. About corruption charges against Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, Mr Dhindsa said a deputation of the SAD had already met the President of India in this regard. He said the party still demanded that a high-level inquiry should be conducted by an independent central agency to bring the truth on record in the Rana Sodhi case.


Move to turn national spotlight on heritage fest
CM to invite Renuka Chowdhary for craft mela inauguration
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
The Patiala Heritage Society has decided to invite Union Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhary to inaugurate the craft mela of the Patiala Heritage Festival on February 13 in order to bring the festival in national limelight.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, is set to personally invite Ms Chowdhary for the inauguration of the crafts mela of the festival. The festival will start on February 12.

The Heritage Society is still pitching for the start of a light and sound show at the Quila Mubarak to showcase the fort complex in all its glory. This project was earlier conceived by the ITDC and will also be executed by the company. However, funds for the project have still not been cleared by the ministry. The Heritage Society under the chairmanship of Patiala MP Preneet Kaur is expected to pitch for the start of this show this year itself and getting the Union Tourism Minister is expected to give a fillip to these efforts.

Coupled with the Heritage Festival, the Heritage Society wants the Crafts Mela held here to have the same kind of fan following as the Surajkund Crafts Mela. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the mela, which was sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, would have more than 150 master craftspersons participating in it. He said besides stress on crafts, folk dances, rural entertainment and food stalls would form a part of the mela. He said this time efforts would be made to entertain more crafts persons from Punjab as well as from Patiala.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Society has planned to provide a mix of excellent music, dances and qawwal maestros who will perform during the week-long festival. For the first time a Patiala theatre group, led by Manpal Tiwana, son of the late Harpal Tiwana, will be participating in the festival. The group will stage Harpal Tiwana’s famous “Sirhind di Deewar”.

The detailed programme of the festival is as follows: Malavika Sarukkai, a Bharatnatyam dancer, will perform on February 12; sitar maestro Shujaat Ali Khan and acclaimed vocalist Parween Sultana will perform on February 13, Savita Devi and Pt Anant Lal will present ‘jugalbandi of vocal and Shehnai of the Banaras gharana on February 14 alongwith a santoor recital by Shiv Kumar Sharma. Kiren Segal and Bharati Shivaji will perform a ‘jugalbandi’ of Odissi and mohiniattam dance on February 15 alongwith mohan veena specialist Vishvamohan Bhatt who will perform on the same day.

On February 16 there will be a seminar on “Punjabi influence on Hindi Cinema” and “Sirhind di Deewar”, on February 17 a fashion show will showcase the works of Sabyasachi Mukerjee, Satya Paul and Rina Latif besides a kavi darbar. On February 18 an exhibition of paintings curated by Dr Rajiv Lochan of the National Gallery of Modern Art will be inaugurated at the Banasar Art Gallery. Ashish Khan will perform on sitar while Farid Ayaz from Pakistan will give a ‘qawwali’ performance the same day. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will give a qawwali performance on February 19 while February 20 will see a pop concert being held at the YPS stadium.


Customs refuse to clear tsunami aid from Holland
10 trucks stranded at Wagah
Neeraj Bagga

Wagah, February 5
Motherhood, an NGO from Holland, brought 10 trucks of aid material for the victims of tsunami after travelling 10,000 km only to get stranded at the international border here as they were refused customs duty exemption.

Ms Nicolien De Kroon, founder and director of the NGO, said they had come on a humanitarian cause after they received e-mails from various people from Tamil Nadu who had suffered immensely during the tsunami tidal wave devastation.

She said after the 22-day long exhaustive journey they were shocked to learn that the aid was not exempted from the payment of tax. She said they had spent nearly 30,000 euro on the transportation of the relief material, including, daily need items like toothbrushes, pastes, soaps, creams, clothes for children and women, medicines, tents, equipment for purification of water and dry milk.

Mr P.S. Bisht, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, said his department had not received directions from the Finance Ministry to exempt any aid passing through the border.

The NGO started its journey on January 14 from a small village in Holland, Andjik, and passed through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.

Ms Kroon, talking to this correspondent, said officials in the Indian Embassy in Holland had assured them that they would get visas on arrival at the checkpost here, but to their horror they had to send five members of the team to Islamabad for arranging travel documents to enter India with the relief material.

The 14-year-old NGO has been in the forefront of extending help to people living in the trouble regions, including Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Iraq, Sudan, Albania, Chechnya and Israel.

Ms Kroon said they were facing dilemma and unsure as how to get deliver the aid to the victims. She felt some NGO in India could come forward to help them.

She said some 20,000 children were involved in collecting these items. Some children had donated their pocket money and toys.


ETT admission criteria changed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
In a sudden move, the Punjab Government has changed the mode of selection for admission to the elementary teachers training( ETT) course in the state. The government today announced not to hold the entrance test for admission purpose.

Now the admission would be made purely on the basis of marks secured in the plus two examination, that is the minimum qualification required for admission. There would be no interview of candidates.

There are 3400 seats of the ETT course, 200 seats in each district. The entire money for this training is given by the Central Government.

In a statement, the government said the admission to the ETT course would now be based only “on the merit of the candidate in plus two examination and there would be no entrance test and interview as announced earlier”.

The government said that a fresh advertisement would be issued to seek applications for admission in this course. However, those who have already applied against the earlier advertisement issue in this regard, would have not to apply again as their old applications would be considered for admission purpose.

The government had earlier issued an advertisement in newspapers on December 30, last year, seeking applications for admission. The last date for submitting the applications was January 27 and the entrance test was to be held on February 27.

Informed sources said in response to December advertisement, over 80,000 applications have been received for admission to this course. The government had charged Rs 200 as entrance test fee from each applicant besides selling each prospectus for Rs 300. Over Rs 4 crore has come to the state treasury by way of selling the prospectus and fee for the test.

As now the government has cancelled the entrance test, will it refund the money charged for sitting in the test from the candidates, who have applied responding to December advertisement is a moot question.

The state Education Department authorities had last evening issued an advertisement to various newspapers that decision has been taken to cancel the earlier advertisement published in the newspapers on December 30 with regard to the admission in the ETT course.

However, today the government came out with the statement that it had changed the mode of selection for admission. As over 80,000 candidates had applied for admission, the government must have realised today that the cancellation of the earlier advertisement would create a furore.


Online fiction work sparks debate
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 5
An online fiction work on same-sex marriages has sparked off debate among Sikh circles in Canada and India.

The matter of same-sex marriages has been an issue of interest recently in India after Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Federal Minister for Health, Canada, revealed the Canadian Government’s plan to table a Bill endorsing same-sex marriages in parliament.

The short-story titled “Major” by Gurpreet Singh, a Canada-based short-story writer and broadcaster, Radio India, Surrey BC, Canada, appeared on website ‘chetna’. It aims at preaching ‘tolerance’ for same-sex marriages. The story revolves around a Sikh, Major Singh, and his small family of his widowed sister Gurjot and his niece Baani, besides three close friends.

With initial leanings towards communists, Major Singh agrees to become a gurdwara president at Cresent beach, a location in Canada after facing the horror of the killing of his family in a plane bombing engineered by a Sikh fundamentalist in Canada, much like the Kanishka bombing.

It is a poignant tale about Major Singh who initially hesitates to endorse and pursue the issue of same-sex marriages in Canada.

A chance brush with beating up of an old “gay” by a group of students and his close friends, convince him to take the line of “tolerance” despite arguments that the Sikh religion allows marriage only between man and woman and not the persons of the same sex.

However, in his argument that he became a gurdwara head to rid it of religious bigotry by a select few fundamentalists, he is able to convince that shedding feelings of ‘hate’ and ‘intolerance’ were foremost virtues of Sikhism and “if we oppose the emerging changes, we hold on to an old value system and deny people their rights and thus propagate hate and intolerance.” He is thus able to win the argument.

The story has sparked off debates among online readers at the website’s communication and publication network feedback over the feasibility of acceptance of such human behaviour that may be against religious ideals and defy social acceptability.


Over 25,000 chemists observe strike
Tribune News Service and agencies

Kharar, February 5
Over 25,000 retail and wholesale chemists across Punjab observed a complete strike today on the call of the Punjab Chemists’ Association (PCA) in protest against alleged police action against some chemists at Malout in Muktsar district.

Responding to the state-wide bandh call, over 950 chemists in Ropar district participated in the strike, paralysing health services, claimed PCA vice-president Harish Chander Sethi.

Mr Sethi said chemists from the entire state would hold a protest against the Congress in the forthcoming Ajnala Assembly byelection if the Malout DSP, whom he accused of ‘’unleashing terror’’ against the chemists, was not suspended with immediate effect.

Divulging the details of the Malout incident, the PCA vice-president, said the Malout police not only conducted ‘’illegal’’ raids on the chemist shops, but also resorted to a lathicharge on peaceful protesters, leaving 12 injured. It also put 20 chemists behind the bars.

SANGRUR: Members of the local Chemists and Druggists Association kept their shops closed till 3 p.m. here in protest against the lathi charge on the Malout chemists.

They took out a protest march through the town and held a rally. The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the administration.


Chemists block traffic at Rajpura
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, February 5
Chemists closed their shops in the city, besides blocking traffic at Rajpura to protest against a lathicharge on their counterparts during a protest at Malout yesterday.

Chemists downed shutters all over the city today creating problems for patients, especially those at Government Rajindra Hospital. ROPAR: Chemists in the district did not open shops on Saturday in protest against the lathicharge on chemists. The president of the Chemists Association, Ropar, Mr Arunjit Singh, condemned the incident and appealed to the Chief Minister and the DGP to suspend the police officials responsible for the action.


Bring safai karamcharis under Labour Act:
national panel

Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 5
The chairperson of the National Safai Karamcharis Commission, Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, on Thursday underlined the need of bringing safai karamcharis under the ambit of the Labour Act.

Addressing a press conference here, she disclosed that she would urge the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Union Labour Minister about the issue and hoped that safai karamcharis would be brought under the purview of the Act. She demanded that the municipalities, nagar panchayats and the corporations should be included in the Act.

She regretted that the practice of scavenging of human excreta was still in vogue in the country even after about 60 years of Independence. She said there were 15 to 20 lakh persons still engaged in lifting filth on their heads. She expressed her dissatisfaction over the fact that the Commission was being taken for a ride with misleading reports by states about the matter.

She said Himachal Pradesh and Punjab asserted to be scavenger-free states, but the facts spoke on the contrary. Even in Phagwara, scavenging was still going on, she asserted in the presence of Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma and Phagwara Nagar Council president Malkiat singh Ragbotra.

She further alleged that the states were diverting funds meant for the welfare of safai karamcharis, to other areas like payment of staff salary and development of roads etc.

She disclosed that out of Rs 20 crore meant for the welfare of safai karamcharis, over Rs 1 crore was sent to MP and Rs 12 crore were sent to Karnataka. The remaining amount was unutilised, she added.

She said the safai karamcharis in Uttar Pradesh had not been paid salaries for the past five years.

She stressed that for the welfare of safai karamcharis, a central package should be announced. She disclosed that she was sending a quarterly report of the Commission to the Prime Minister and had given suggestions for the welfare of safai karamcharis.

She spelt out three-pronged strategy for the eradication of scavenging. First was identification of the exact number of such persons. Second was persuation to end the practice and third was to rehabilitate those who abandon scavenging.

Mrs Chowdhary later addressed safai karamcharis and heard their grievances. The Municipal Safai Karamcharis Union presented her a memorandum. She also held a meeting with district officers, including the Deputy Commissioner Mr Rakesh Verma, the SDM Pritam Singh and others. Chowdhary Ram Lubhaya, an MLA from Sham Chaurasi also accompanied her.


Trust celebrates silver jubilee
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 5
The Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran (Nawanshahr), today started its silver jubilee celebrations with the aim of mooting fresh strategies in community service.

A large number of political and social leaders as well as NRIs are participating in the celebrations.

Dr Budh Singh Dhahan, founder president of the trust, in his welcome address, said the doctrines of community service and bringing equality in society by the great Gurus could only by translated into reality by concerted and missionary efforts.

He stressed on the need to transform the spirit of community service into a mass movement. He said NGOs should lay emphasis on providing better and affordable healthcare and education facilities as these sectors were the key to prosperity of any society.

Dr Dhahan expressed his gratitude for Canada India Education Society, Vancouver, International Akal Mission, UK, Guru Nanak Mission Education Charitable Society, USA, North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha, UK and others for contributing towards improvement in community service projects of the trust.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, SGPC General Secretary, Bhai Mohinder Singh of Guru Nanak Nishkam Seva Jatha, UK, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister, Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, MP, Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Tarlochan Singh Soondh, MLA, Banga, Mr Mohal Lal, former MLA, addressed the inaugural session.

They said the Punjabi youth had been undergoing social and religious degeneration. They expressed concern over the rise in drug addiction among the youth and exphasised the need for launching concerted efforts by intellectuals and NGOs to fight the menace.

Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated a photo exhibition depicting the 25 years journey of the Trust.


37 water samples in Ropar district fail test
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 5
About 44 per cent of the people living in the five major towns in the district have been consuming water unfit for drinking. The fact came to light as 37 samples out of a total 87, taken by the District Public Health Department from water supply sources of Anandpur Sahib, Kurali, Ropar city, Morinda and Mohali, were found unfit for drinking.

The water samples of Nangal and Nurpurbedi town yet to be examined by the Health Department.

The reason was attributed to the lack of mixing of bleaching powder at the water supply sources. Surprisingly, some of water supply departments do not even have chlorinators and the employees mix bleaching powder manually. There are also shortage of bleaching powder at many places.

As per the report prepared by the Health Department, out of eight samples taken from the water supply sources of Municipal Council, Mohali, five were found potable and 3 unfit for drinking. Out of 18 samples taken from the sub-divisional offices (Public Health) at Mohali, seven samples were declared unfit.

Even the residents of Ropar city, which is the district head office are not getting clean water. Out of eight samples taken from the sub-divisional offices of Public Health Department here, five were declared not potable.

The three samples out of six taken from the Municipal Council, Morinda, three were found unpotable. In Anandpur Sahib out of 11 samples, five were declared unfit for drinking.

In the rural areas, out of 27 samples taken from the water supplied by the sub-divisional offices, 13 were found unpotable.

Sources said, that the Public Health Department took the sample in the month of January as per the directions issued to the department by the Punjab Human Rights Commission, acting on a public interest litigation.

When contacted the Civil Surgeon, Civil Hospital, Ropar, Dr Rana Harinder, said the Health Department had served notices to the officials concerned directing them to make arrangement of potable water. The officials had also been asked to make necessary arrangements within ten days.

She informed that the report had also been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, for the necessary action.


Punjab to have special economic zone
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 5
The Punjab Government would create a special economic zone (SEZ) on the Amritsar-Batala road to encourage industrial production in the state. This was stated by the Minister, PWD (B&R), Punjab, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, here today. Mr Bajwa was speaking to mediapersons after laying the foundation stone of a bridge on the Kambala-Dharamgarh-Kandala road.

Mr Bajwa said the industries that would be set up in the SEZ, would get all those incentives as were being given by the Himachal Government to its industries. He added that Rs 1,200 crore would be spent on the SEZ, which would be spread over 5000 acres of land. He also said over 30,000 persons would be employed in the SEZ.

Mr Bajwa pointed out that the government had received Rs 264 crore as part of the Nabard scheme and an additional sum of Rs 50 crore each had been received from the Centre as part of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna and the Gramin Sadak Yojna. Mr Bajwa added that over Rs 12 crore had been spent in the Kharar constituency in the past two years and another Rs 10 crore would be spent in the coming two years.

Giving details, the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the construction of the bridge would cost over Rs 84 lakh, while the strengthening of Kambala-Rurka-Dharamgarh-Kandala-Jagatpur road would cost over Rs 50 lakh.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he had received Rs 1 crore for his constituency from the 11th Finance Commission. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for Kambala village.


Documents released to prove Bhindranwale’s death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (International) led by its president and former MP Atinder Pal Singh today released documents and photographs to authenticate the death of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who died during Operation Bluestar in June 1984.

Mr Atinder Pal Singh, who was acting president of the All-India Sikh Student Federation at that time, also released the photograph of the damaged portion of Darshani Deori.

He appealed to the Sikh leaders not to mislead the community and accept the death of Sant Bhindranwale. He criticised political parties who had announced to observe the birth anniversary of the Sant on February 12.

He said the SAD (International) had decided to raise memorials to Sikh martyrs at their native places.

He flayed the dynastic rule pursued by all political parties to further the interest of their families.


962 complaints of five subdivisions disposed of
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 5
As many as 962 complaints lying pending over the past many months with five subdivisions of Ropar district were disposed of at a camp organised here today.

Eleven cases were registered after taking opinion of the District Attorney. Most of the complaints disposed of at the camp were related to family, neighbourhood disputes and financial matters.

The maximum number of cases were lying pending with the Mohali subdivision. Of the 660 cases 426 were disposed of. As many as 252 of 316 complaints were disposed of in the Kharar subdivision. Similarly, 103 of 129 cases lying pending with Morinda subdivision and 58 of 115 with Anandpur Sahib subdivision were also disposed of. Of the 128 cases of Ropar subdivision that were lying pending 123 were disposed of.

Mr Parag Jain, DIG, Ludhiana Range, visited the camp and listened to some municipal councillors and representatives of welfare bodies.

Mr Jain said informal channels had been formed with people in Chandigarh and Panchkula to tackle the hike in cases of crime. He added that residents would have to play a more responsible role in bringing down the number of theft cases by taking the necessary precautions.

Appreciating a suggestion given by Mr Amrik Singh Bhatti that a senior citizens cell should be set up, the DIG immediately directed the Ropar SSP to do what was needed.

A camp for making learners’ licences was also organised where 200 persons got these on the spot.


Punjab jails to be modernised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab Government will install close-circuit cameras in all barracks and towers, besides providing television sets for accessing news, religious and informative channels, fans and round-the-clock water supply, in the jails being constructed, upgraded and modernised in the state at a cost of Rs 340 crore.

The other facilities include separate cells with attached toilets for two prisoners. Disclosing this, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Jails) Malkiat Singh Birmi said each jail would also have a community centre with 3,000-sitting capacity, along with a gurdwara, a mosque, a temple and a church. The intention is to convert the jails into ‘reformatories’ for the prisoners.

He said two ultra-modern high security jails would be constructed at Nabha and Kapurthala. The state government would provide land and funds for the purpose. The construction would be completed in 18 months. Each jail would have a capacity to house 5,000 inmates. The inmates of Patiala and Jalandhar jails would be shifted to these prisons.

He said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, after visiting a few jails in the state, had deputed him and Advisor (Prisons) A.P. Bhatnagar to study the functioning and administration of jails in Australia so that the required changes could be made in our jails.

He added that on their way back from Australia, they also analysed the prisons of Malaysia and were impressed with the set-up there. They subsequently roped in a Malaysian construction company for setting up two ultra-modern jails. The company has already made detailed presentations to the Chief Minister and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is likely to be signed shortly.

Mr Birmi said, in the second phase, three more ultra-modern jails would be constructed at Ferozepore, Amritsar and Bathinda. The first two jails would have capacity of keeping 2,500 inmates each, while the Bathinda jail would accommodate a thousand prisoners.

He further said the state government had planned to sell some land belonging to Bathinda and Jalandhar Jails and hoped that it would generate funds to the tune of Rs 350 crore approximately which would be used for the purpose.

He disclosed that there were seven central jails situated at Patiala, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, in addition to five district and 11 sub-jails. These jails have an authorised accommodation facilities for 9484 prisoners, but some jails have occupancy rate as high as 150 per cent.


Bypass project gets ministry’s nod
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
The southern bypass project, which was first conceived in 1985 and was lying unimplemented despite acquisition and transfer of land to the Border Road Organisation (BRO) in 2000, has finally been cleared by the Ministry of Defence.

The project will be taken up by the BRO at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore. The Ministry has cleared a proposal for construction of a two-lane road which will take off from the Rajpura road near the Octroi post and then join the Sangrur road after bypassing the city. The bypass will be 20 km long.

Even though the district administration has received information about the approval of the project, an effort is being made to get the bypass broadened. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh while talking to TNS said presently the road would be 7.5 metres broad. He said the administration was of the view that the road should be double the size to take care of future exigencies. “As Army traffic will be moving on the road and it would be better if it is four laned”.

He said the matter had already been taken up with the Army authorities and that the Western Command authorities were already in touch with the Defence Ministry in this regard. He said Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh could also be approached on the issue at a later date adding enough land had been acquired to make a six-lane expressway if needed.

Meanwhile, the clearing of the proposal is a major relief for the state government after it was first planned by the Army in 1984. The project was conceived with the aim of smoothening Army traffic on the Chandi Mandir — Bathinda section as there were three sharp turns in this section besides the fact that Army traffic routinely clogs traffic on the Mall road in Patiala.


Gurdwara panel reconstituted
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 5
The state government has re-constituted the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC). A notification to this effect was issued last evening.

Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa have been nominated to the commission and so has Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, a former president of the commission.

It is learnt that Mr Patti is likely to be elected President of the commission.


28 urologists to attend meet at Lahore
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 5
A group of 28 eminent Urologists from all over India crossed over to Lahore to participate in the first international conference of the Pakistan Association of Urological Surgeons at Lahore.

The chief coordinator of the conference, Dr Samir Rai told mediapersons that the head of the postgraduate medical institute in Lahore Prof Sajjad Hussain, had been instrumental in organising this international meet.

Top Indian urologists including Prof N.P. Gupta, Head, department of Urology, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, would participate in the three-day meet.


Chhibber hails Modi’s changed stance
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 5
Hailing the restoration of holiday on Gurpurb and Good Friday in Gujarat, former Punjab Governor Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber, said yesterday that none should be allowed to tinker with national and gazetted holidays.

Punjab Ministers Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Amarjit Samra also hailed the step taken by the Modi Government. “Finally, he was come to understand the importance of these holidays, they said.

Mr Anurag Sood, convener of the Hoshiarpur-based Sarv Dharam Sadbhawna Committee, congratulated the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee for spearheading a movement on the issue.


HC sets aside sentence of lifer
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has set aside the conviction of a person for alleged involvement in a murder case, while upholding the sentence ordered to two other.

In its detailed order, the Division Bench of Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh gave benefit to doubt to Sharanjit Singh, alias Happy, but upheld the orders of the lower court with regard to the other two persons found guilty.

Sehajpal Singh, alias Yusi, Maninderpal Singh, alias Raja, and Sharanjit Singh, alias Happy, had been convicted by the Amritsar Sessions Judge on December 18, 2002 for the alleged murder of a youth in Amritsar.

While Sehajpal and Maninderpal had been found guilty and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment as also pay fine of Rs 500 each, Sharanjit had been awarded the same punishment.

The deceased, Shishpal Singh, son of Raja Singh, had been allegedly stabbed to death by the convicts after he took to task Sehajpal and Sharanjit for passing vulgar comments on young women.

After being convicted, all three filed appeals in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Appearing for Sharanjit, advocate Hemant Saini stated that the ocular evidence pertaining to the part attributed to Sharanjit did not fit in with the medical evidence. He stated that the participation of Sharanjit in the occurrence was highly doubtful.

The Bench held that the criminal appeals filed by Sehajpal and Maninderpal had no merit and hence stand dismissed, the Sharanjit was given benefit of doubt and hence acquitted of the charges framed against him.


CIA files chargesheet in land fraud case
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 5
The CIA staff, Kharar, has filed chargesheet against Karamjit Singh, a resident of Chilla village, Kharar, in a case of fraud filed by 85-year-old Pritam Singh of the same village. Pritam Singh had in December 2004 alleged that his land was fraudulently sold by Karamjit Singh in connivance with the lambardar of the village, Sher Singh and the then Tehsildar, Mohali, Sucha Singh.

However out of the six person named in the FIR lodged at the Sohana police station on December 12, the police has filed chargesheet against only one of the accused, while the names of the others have been put in column number two, virtually giving them a clean chit in the case.

Filing the chargesheet before Judicial Magistrate R.K. Khullar, the investigating officer in the case, Mr Gurdeep Singh, listed the names of Tehsildar Mandeep Singh Dhillon, naib tehsildar Sucha Singh, registry clerk in tehsil office Ashok Kumar, patwari Dilbagh Singh, village lambardar Sher Singh, lawyers Anand and Devinder Gupta and two others, Harbans Singh and Jaswant Singh in column number two.

A list of 29 witnesses in the case were also listed in the case by the police which included the name of SDM, Kharar, who had conducted an independent inquiry into the matter.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has last week issued the notice of motion to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar and SDM, Mohali, among others in this case.

On a complaint by Pritam Singh, the petitioner, an FIR in the case was registered at the Sohana police station against Karamjit Singh, Sher Singh, Devinder Gupta, Anand Mohali, Sucha Singh, and Harbans Singh.

The case was initially investigated at the Sohana police station and later the inquiry was shifted to CIA staff. In December, 2004, the DC, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, marked an inquiry into the matter to the SDM, Kharar, Mr S.S. Gill, following a preliminary report submitted by the SDM, Mohali, Mr M.L. Sharma on the incident.


Attri elected Kharar Bar chief
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 5
Despite elections to the Kharar Bar Association being held today, lawyers serving in the Kharar courts split into two groups and chose their presidents. By the end of the day, other that the elected president of the Bar association, office-bearers to the Bar were also chosen by another group of lawyers.

Sources added that initially two candidates S.K. Attri and Ashok Kabli were contending for the post of the president. However, it was reportedly decided that instead of having elections a common candidate, Mr Harwant Singh be unanimously chosen as the president.

But in a last-minute change, elections were announced today. Of the total 76 votes poled, Mr Attri secured 72 and was chosen as the president. Mr Gurmit Singh Kora was chosen as the vice-president and Mr Gurbir Lali was chosen as the general secretary.

Mr Harwant Singh’s group reportedly boycotted the elections. However, Mr Attri’s group claimed that Mr Harwant Singh had come and voted.

Interestingly, Mr Harwant Singh was declared elected president by his supporters. Mr Natrajan Kaushal was chosen as the vice-president, Mr Harpreet Singh Gill was general secretary while Ms Paramjit Kaur Gill was chosen the cashier.


Notification yet to be issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab Government has not yet issued the required notification regarding enhanced stamp duty of 3 per cent that would be charged after the issuance of appropriate orders.

A spokesman of the Revenue Department said it was for the information of the general public that the enhanced rates of stamp duty would be chargeable from the date of notification in the Punjab Government Gazette.


3 killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 5
Three persons, including a two-and-a-half-year old girl, were killed and two others injured when the Maruti car in which they were travelling, collided with a truck near Cheema village in the Sunam area this afternoon. The occupants of the car were going to attend a marriage party.

The Sunam police told TNS over the phone tonight that the occupants of the car, namely, Paramjit Kaur, his son, Gurtej Singh, and a small girl had been killed, while Ms Raminder Kaur, wife of Gurtej Singh, and Sumandeep Singh, son of Gurtej Singh, were seriously injured.

The injured had been admitted to the Sunam Civil Hospital. The car was going from the Bhikhi side to the Sunam side, while the truck was bound for the Bhikhi side. The family, involved in this accident, belonged to Khiala Malikpur village in the Mansa area, the police added.


Four of family hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 5
Four members of a family were injured in an accident on the national highway adjoining Kharar here today.

The injured — Mr Baldev Raj, his wife, Raj Kaur, his son, Mr Rana Singh and daughter-in-law, Ms Neelam, were taken to the Civil Hospital here.

It is reported that the family was coming from Delhi and going to Ghanoli village near Ropar. The Maruti car in which they were travelling hit an Indica coming from the Kharar bus stand side.


ISRO chief visits GND varsity to discuss Edusat link
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 5
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is on the threshold of a unique breakthrough as its scientists are on the verge of developing an indigenous cryogenic engine.

The Chairman of ISRO, Dr Madhvan Nair, talking exclusively to The Tribune during his brief visit to Guru Nanak Dev University to discuss the possibility of providing it the (Edusat Education Satellite) link, said in the aftermath of the Pokhran nuclear test in 1996, the Americans had banned the transfer of cryogenic engine technology. It is used for putting their satellites the orbit for Scientific, educational and communication purposes. He said the first such cryogenic engine with liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel would be tested next year, giving a major boost to country’s space programme.

Dr Nair said the government had already approved an ocean satellite project for forecasting natural disasters, including tsunamis. The satellite would be installed into orbit by 2007. This high-tech project would be used to predict and monitor any natural disaster likely to occur around the periphery of India’s vast ocean around South-East Asia. India would be using its own cryogenic engine to place the satellite in orbit for gathering scientific data and weather forecasting.

Dr Nair had now been credited with revolutionising the education system through Edusat.

The ISRO Chairman said they had already received approval from the government for Edusat, which would work as a virtual classroom for the spread of education throughout the country. Guru Nanak Dev University had approached ISRO for providing them this facility for their distance education programme to reach out to a large number of students, especially in the rural and remote areas who can not find access to quality higher education in their areas.

He said he was convinced that the university would make optimum use of this facility to impart scientific and technical education through the virtual classroom concept through Edusat. He said this system would provide the video conference as well as take questions through the two-way system.

ISRO would launch a high-power communication satellite for the spread of direct-to-home television facility to the remote and far-flung areas of the country.

Dr Nair was accompanied by Mr B.S. Bhatia, Director, Development and Educational Communication Unit in ISRO. Later DR Nair paid obeisance at the Golden Temple before returning to New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University today announced to start a regional channel in Edusat (educational satellite) on the campus for the dissemination of lectures in the E-learning mode.

While acknowledging the efforts being made by the university in expanding higher education, Dr Nair and Dr Bhatia assured the university authorities of all possible help and added that ISRO would sent a team of experts next month for formal technical consultations regarding upward and downward linking facilities. They also agreed in principle that university had justified its claim for the allocation of a regional channel.


Education Officer directed to stop increment of 14 teachers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 5
The Director Public Instructions (DPI), Punjab, has directed the Circle Education Officer (CEO), Faridkot to stop the annual increment of 14 teachers who had been indicted by the Election Commission for making bogus enrollment during the revision of the electoral rolls in 2002.

According to reports the CEO will have to ensure that negative entries are also marked in the service book of the teachers who were posted in the government schools at Azamwala, Bandiwala, Behak Bodla, Chuwarianwali, Karnikhera, Lalowali and Nihalkhera villages during the revision of the voters list for Municipal Council elections at Fazilka.

The BJP leaders had complained to the state Chief Election Commissioner, Punjab, that several thousand residents of the villages had been enrolled as voters in different wards of the Municipal Council, Fazilka.

They had alleged that the government employees were playing into the hands of the ruling party to ensure defeat of the BJP that had been in majority in the council. As the local Returning Officer had rejected the plea of the complainants, the CEC got it inquired through the Additional Deputy Commissioner. As the allegations were substantiated during an on-the-spot investigation, the Election Commission struck down the names of 1,750 voters added to the list during revision.

The CEC had issued notices to the teachers, found guilty, to explain their conduct within two weeks of receiving the notices. They, however, preferred to maintain silence hoping that political shelter might save their skin.

One of the teachers however asserted that he had been discharged of election duty a day before the revision of rolls was initiated.

He too had not explained his position to the commission earlier.

The condemned teachers otherwise denied having received such notices. They were ignorant about the notices having been returned with a report from the postal authorities that the addressees were not inclined to take delivery of the said letters.

Other government departments were yet to initiate action against their employees for their involvement in dubious revision of the electoral rolls, sources said.


NSUI’s state unit dissolved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 5
The National Students Union of India (NSUI) has dissolved its Punjab unit and constituted a state coordination committee. The committee will coordinate the forthcoming programmes to be held in various districts, universities and colleges of Punjab.

The committee comprises four members of the Punjab state NSUI. They, include: Mr Jaspreet Singh from Ludhiana, Mr Gautam Majithia from Amritsar, Mr Sandeep Singh Sonu from Moga and Mr Abhishek Sharma from Patiala.

A meeting of the NSUI was held here today under the chairmanship of the district vice-president, Mr Amritpal. The meeting discussed in detail the functioning of the NUSI in the state. It regretted that despite being the leading students’ organisation in the state, it had not been able to provide any leadership to the students. The meeting was told that the decision to dissolve the state unit was taken at a meeting presided over by Mr Ashok Ghelot and attended, among others, by the national secretary and in charge Punjab, Mr Pankaj Guddewar. The union will intensify its activities in the state and provide dynamic leadership to the students by raising various issues.


College teachers keep away from classes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 5
Private college teachers in Sangrur district today stayed away from their classes in the third, fourth and fifth periods and observed February 5 as “Anti-Punjab Finance Department Day” in response to a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU).

Giving this information this afternoon, Prof R.K. Sharma, president of the district unit of the PCCTU, said the PCCTU’s call to observe February 5 as “Anti-Punjab Finance Department Day” in private colleges of the district evoked an encouraging response.

Teachers kept away from classes in S.D. College, Barnala, R.D. Jain College for Women, Malerkotla, Khalsa College, Sandaur, GTB College, Bhawanigarh, Guru Gobind Singh College, Sanghera, Desh Bhagat College, Bardwal (Dhuri), and Akal Degree College, Mastuana.

The teachers staged protest dharnas and organised rallies at college campuses to express resentment against the “negative” attitude of the Punjab Finance Department.


Unemployed teachers on fast in jail, claims union
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
Sixteen representatives of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union who are lodged in the Central Jail here after their arrest for violating peace by defying the prohibitory orders during a protest march recently, are reportedly on a fast in the jail. Two girls are also among them.

The jail authorities, however, deny this. Jail Superintendent Gursharan Singh Sidhu said all unemployed teachers were partaking of jail food.

Union president Jaswinder Singh Sidhu said jailed teachers were not partaking of any food. He said the 16 members of the union were not released today even though Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had promised the same two days back.

The union today announced that it would protest in Ajnala in this connection. Mr Sidhu said the protest would be further intensified in the coming days.

Meanwhile police sources said the 16 persons may not be released for some more days as they would be presented before a local court on February 12.

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