P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



World Punjabi Conference postponed
Pakistan refuses visas to Indian delegates

Chandigarh, April 15
In the wake of the refusal of visas by the Pakistan High Commission to the Indian delegates today, the ensuing 12th World Punjabi Conference at Lahore has been postponed for an indefinite period.

Over 400 delegates from India, the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada and several other countries were expected at the three-day mega event, which was scheduled to begin on April 17 in Lahore.

The refusal of the visas to the Indian delegates, which led to the postponement of the Conference, coincides with the visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to India, who would be arriving in Jaipur tomorrow before his talks with the Union Government in New Delhi.

“The event has been postponed as the delegates from India have not been granted visas by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi,” Mr A S Pal of the WPC Indian Chapter told UNI here.

Mr Pal said that WPC Chairman Fakhar Zaman in Lahore had informed him on telephone this evening that the conference has been postponed in the wake of the inability of the Indian delegates to attend the event following the refusal of the visas to them.

Film personalities Ramanand Sagar and Prem Chopra were among those who were also invited to the WPC and they were to be honoured at the conference, Mr Pal said.

The aspiring delegates from India also included several journalists from Delhi, Chandigarh and Punjab, three Punjab ministers and Communist Party of India’s Punjab unit secretary Joginder Dayal. — UNI


Nankana Sahib kar seva begins
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 15
The kar seva of holy sarovar at Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev, began today.

The traditional clod-breaking ceremony was performed by Baba Jagtar Singh ‘karsevawalley’ Tarn Taran in the presence of Baba Amrik Singh, Mr Harwinder Singh of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Prithpal Singh, president, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC), Mr Manmohan Singh Khalsa, UK-based leader of Dal Khalsa and Mr Avtar Singh Sanghera.

The ceremony was attended among others by officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) officials, including Mr Izhar-Ul-Hassan, Additional Secretary (Special), ETPB.

Mr Amrik Singh while talking to The Tribune from Pakistan today said the first kar seva of the holy sarovar at the birth place was undertaken by Baba Gurmukh Singh in 1934. The kar seva continued till 1946.

Along with the kar seva of sarovar, other renovations would also be undertaken of the shrine, including white-washing of walls, maintenance, clearing of old plaster besides undertaking structural maintenance work on the historic shrine.

Earlier, a delegation comprising Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Member, Interim Committee, SGPC, (heading the SGPC sponsored-Sikh jatha), Mr Prithpal Singh, AGPC president, Mr Manmohan Singh, and Mr H.S. Sarna met the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Sahukat Aziz.

The delegation took up the issue of easing visa restrictions on both sides of the border, abolishment of quota system for Sikh jathas, besides the long-pending demand of corridor for the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara located on the Indo-Pak border, about 2 km beyond the fencing from India, on the bank of Ravi. The gurdwara has remained “virtually abandoned” for the past 56 years.

In addition to this, the common devotees from both countries got together in the Khemkaran sector at Pir Sheikh Braham’s tomb on the border.

Advocating to usher in a concept of ‘soft boundaries’ between India and Pakistan, they said the “abject need” for the proposed corridor plan to materialise, was evident from the lakhs of devotees, who held a token ardas.


50,000 teachers await salaries
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
About 50,000 schoolteachers in Punjab are yet to receive their salaries in the first month of new financial year.

Sources said the Finance Department had not given the drawing and disbursement powers to the school heads, which has delayed the payment of salaries to middle of the month.

The sources said the department gives drawing and disbursement powers to them at the start of a new financial year.

The sources said the Education Department had also not given nod to non-plan temporary posts.

The government schools in Punjab have about two lakh teaching and non-teaching employees. Out of these 35,000 were non-plan permanent and almost the same number of non-plan temporary posts.

The Finance Department gives its approval to temporary posts at the start of a new financial year. Prior to the approval the district education officers receive a certificate that facilitates nod to these posts for three months and salaries to these employees. But, this time they have not received this certificate. The DEO, Gurbinder Kaur, confirmed the same.

On the other hand, the teachers' organisations said even if this matter was resolved the teachers would not get salaries as school heads would not be able to release the same without drawing and disbursement powers.

Meanwhile, the Finance Department had taken a strong notice of the issue and stated that the schoolteachers were claiming salaries by terming non-plan temporary posts as permanent ones.

The department had asked the Education Department to come clean in the matter. The department is now listing the vacancies on the basis of categories which would give a clear picture.

When contacted, the DPI (Schools), Mr Gyan Singh, admitted that the delay in drawing and disbursement powers was hampering the process in some schools.


Parents burdened with 60 pc hike in school fee
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, April 15
Mr Davinder Singh (name changed), a local resident, has decided to shift his son to another school from the local Police Public School (PPS) after its management made an unprecedented hike in its fee structure.

The parents of Gursimran Singh (name changed), a student of this school, said though they would not shift their son to another school, they would find it difficult to arrange enough money to pay the school fee.

Sources said the school management had made an unprecedented hike of about 60 per cent in the school fee this year as compared to the fee charged the previous year. This has generated resentment among the parents, whose wards have been studying in the school.

Most of the parents, who have been sending their wards to this school, belong to middle class families. The fee hike had forced a number of parents to shift their wards, as they could not afford the unprecedented hike in the fee structure of the school. The agitated parents alleged that by increasing the fee, the management had made it clear that from now onwards the school would be catering to the needs of those only who belonged to the well-off families.

Mr R K Devashwar, Principal of the school, said it was the decision of the management to increase the fee. He said the school had got provisional affiliation with the CBSE, which should be renewed after a specific time period. Last year when they applied for the CBSE affiliation, the board replied that the teachers working in the school were not being paid as per the required norms and the salary of the teachers should be increased to get the affiliation.

Mr Devashwar further said that the fee was hiked to generate enough money to pay the salaries of the teachers according to the norms established by the CBSE. He added that for the present the salaries of the fix-pay teachers and graded teachers had been increased by about 33 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

When asked that when the school had got the affiliation last year, why the fee was hiked this year, the principal said that earlier the matter was pending with the management and as they could not increase the fee in the ongoing session, it was increased this year.

He said, moreover, the school was running losses of about Rs 51,000 every month. He added that as the school mainly catered to the needs of the Punjab police employees’ wards and about 53 per cent of the students fell in this category. They were already being given a significant fee concession. Moreover, the children of class IV Punjab police employees would be paying only 35 per cent of the normal fee. He said after 1999, it was for the first time that the fee was hiked; not even a penny was increased during the past about five years.

The students, who had changed the school, said that the change had not only affected their studies but it had also resulted in tension as they were finding it difficult to adjust in other schools.

Though Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, who is also the manager of the school managing committee, had several meetings with the parents of the wards in this connection, most of the parents were unable to comprehend the fee hike. The SSP said 60 per cent fee hike may seem a significant amount, but if it was divided into installments, it would appear quite reasonable.


First video conferencing on primary education held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 15
In the first video conferencing, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, and Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, today talked from Chandigarh to the district officers, including Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, and sarpanches of some villages of the district, who were sitting in the video conferencing hall in the District Administrative Complex here.

The agenda of the video conferencing was shortage of teachers and a decreasing number of students in the government primary schools besides the condition of primary schools in the rural areas.

On the one hand, the video conferencing gave an opportunity to the sarpanches of the villages to air their grievances, regarding poor performance of primary schools in their villages and shortage of teachers, on the other it proved humiliating for officers, especially Mr Ved Parkash Kaushik, District Education Officer (Elementary), Sangrur.

At one stage, when in reply to a question by Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Kaushik said, “I don’t know”, Ms Bhattal snubbed him by saying that he should have come well-prepared to answer the questions. There were also differences among the DEO (Elementary) and one or two sarpanches over the number of teachers in the primary schools.

During the video conferencing, Ms Bhattal asked the DEO (Elementary) to tell the number of primary schools in the district and the shortage of teachers in these schools. Mr Kaushik said there were 863 government primary schools in the district, while 1,271 posts, including 1,013 posts of JBT teacher, and 227 posts of head teacher, were lying vacant in the primary schools.

Mr Naib Singh, Sarpanch of Ghorenab village (Lehragaga block), said the school of Jhaloor village (Lehragaga block) was not functioning as it was locked. It had only one teacher, who normally did not come to the school. But Dr Maghar Singh, District Education Officer (Secondary), claimed that he had deputed three more teachers there from other schools and the school was now functioning in a proper manner.

Mr Ravinder Rinku, Sarpanch of Gurne Khurd village, asked Ms Bhattal to merge two primary schools of Gurne Khurd and Gurne Kalan villages with each other to remove the shortage of teachers. Two sarpanches also urged the ministers not to involve the teachers in election duties or other survey duties.

Mr Singla said no school would be privatised, but the government wanted to run the schools in a smooth manner and impart quality education to poor students. It had made up its mind to hand over the management of the government schools to private persons, but the salary to the staff would be paid by the government. Mr Singla also said that a meeting would also be held with the parents to know why they sent their children to private schools. He also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh each for 10 villages, whose sarpanches today participated in the video conferencing.


Girl alleges sexual harassment by teacher
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 15
A case of sexual harassment and blackmailing by a teacher of a private tuition centre has been reported in Tanda police station of this district.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP Hoshiarpur, disclosed here yesterday that a case under Section 376, 294, 506, 120 B of the IPC and Section 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1886 was registered against Prof Gurwinderjit Singh, alias Goldi, a resident of Moonak Gali, Tanda for allegedly raping a girl and making her blue CD. Raids were being conducted to arrest the accused, who was still at large.

Mr Angra informed that a young girl of adjoining village of Tanda had made a complaint against Prof Gurwinderjit Singh for preparing her blue CD. She alleged that the accused also prepared posters of her obscene photographs and pasted the same on the village wall.

The SSP said that the complainant was a BEd student. In her complaint to the police, she stated that while doing BEd from Jammu and Kashmir University, she used to go to Mile Stone Tuition Centre, Tanda for getting coaching. During her study in the centre, the accused developed relations with her and allegedly raped her. She alleged that Goldi used to rape her from October 2003 to February 2004. She further alleged that during the accused also took her photographs from a hidden camera. She alleged that after preparing her blue CD, the accused started blackmailing her for sexual favours.

She stated that when she went to Jammu for appearing in annual examination, the accused also reached there and demanded Rs 5 lakh from her. She said that she narrated the entire episode to the Principal of the concerned college in Jammu. The Principal called Gurwinderjit Singh in the college and also informed the police in this connection. She said that when he was snubbed there, the accused apologised for his act and returned the blue CD. She also informed her parents in this connection who took up the matter with the village panchayat. The panchayat tried to settle the issue amicably but could not succeed.

SSP said that the girl stated in her complaint that the accused did not stop his act and continued blackmailing her. He disclosed that the police had taken blue CD and posters of the girl into its custody. The police also seized an audio tape in which the accused had confessed that he had prepared a blue CD of the girl.

Mr Angra said that a thorough probe had been initiated in this regard.


Malta boat tragedy
CBI team takes Joga Singh to Delhi

Tribune News Service

Joga Singh an accused in the Malta boat tragedy case (extreme left) being produced before the court by the CBI in Jalandhar on Friday.
Joga Singh an accused in the Malta boat tragedy case (extreme left) being produced before the court by the CBI in Jalandhar on Friday. — Tribune photo by Pawan Sharma

Jalandhar, April 15
A two-member CBI team today arrested Joga Singh, an NRI hailing from Mandi village near Phillaur, who had created sensation by claiming that suspended Noormahal SHO Manjit Singh had forced him to cough up a bribe of Rs 5 lakh, a part of which had gone to an IPS officer. The CBI team took him to New Delhi on transit remand for further investigation of his role in the Malta boat tragedy.

Joga Singh was booked by the Jalandhar police and by the CBI for his alleged role in the Malta boat tragedy, in which, 170 persons had drowned near Greece, in December 1996. He was declared a Proclaimed Offender after his alleged role in sending of some of victims to Greece was confirmed by some of the 17 agents, who were arrested by the police after the tragedy.

Interrogation of Delhi-based agent Avtaar Singh and two other agents Mandar Kumar Bhola and Satpal Wahi, had revealed that Joga Singh was allegedly instrumental in sending people to Greece after he became an agent of Avtaar Singh. He had managed to send as many as 20 Punjabi youths to Greece as an equal partner of the three agents.

According to sources investigation in this case was stalled in 1998 following a directive by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Joga Singh had managed to go to Greece even though he had been declared a PO by the CBI and the Jalandhar police.

Joga Singh, who had been arrested on the directions of Jalandhar SSP, Satish Kumar Asthana, had created a sensation by alleging that Noormahal SHO Manjit Singh had kept him in illegal confinement and had forced him to pay Rs 5 lakh as bribe and a part of the money had been given to an IPS officer. Though Manjit Singh was suspended following an inquiry conducted by the Jalandhar DIG, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, the allegations had become talk of the town even as Manjit Singh had managed to flee and further inquiry into the matter had been entrusted to Kapurthala SSP Arun Pal Singh.

Investigations revealed that the CBI, which, interestingly could not get information about the entry of Joga Singh in the country despite his being a PO, was informed about Joga Singh’s arrest by Mr Asthana. “I had done my duty and that is all,” said Mr Asthana.

Earlier, Joga Singh was allowed to be taken on a transit remand by the court of Mr K. K. Kareer as CBI pleaded that he was required for further investigation of the Maltra tragedy by the investigating agency.


Punjab wheat production may fall by 10 pc
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The wheat production is expected to go down this year in Punjab. Reports received from villages and a talk with a cross-section of the farmers indicate a fall of up to 10 per cent per acre in the yield of wheat in almost all parts of the state. Punjab’s target this year is to produce 150 lakh tonnes of wheat.

The average yield of wheat has been ranging between 17 and 19 quintals per acre this year. Actually, it should be in the range of 21 and 23 quintals. Most farmers are surprised because the fall in the yield is contrary to their expectations.

In fact, even farm experts had been predicting a bumper wheat crop this year with a very high per acre yield as the weather conditions in January and February had remained conducive to the wheat crop. The temperature, which plays a crucial role in determining wheat production, remained low in January and February and was considered favourable for the crop. The rainfall was also good in February which was the wettest month in the past one decade.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, a farmer from a village near Sanoure, said the average yield in his village was around 17 quintals per acre which was lower than that recorded last year. He said he was expecting an output of 22 quintals. Similar views were expressed by Mr Gurdev Singh of Jhanir village and Makhan Singh of Khaila village.

Identical reports have come from the Jagroan area.

The figures available from the government indicate this trend. Compared to last year’s figure of 49,24, 939 tonnes, only 30,27,355 tonnes of wheat had arrived in the state markets till last evening.

It is true that the harvesting of wheat started late this year because the weather delayed the ripening of the crop. Owing to this reason the total arrival of wheat till last evening, as compared to last year, has been less. However, the huge difference in the wheat arrival figures of both years points to the lower per acre yield of wheat.

Meanwhile, the FCI, a Union Government agency, is lagging behind in the procurement of wheat in Punjab as compared to other agencies. It has so far procured only 13.8 per cent of the total wheat procured by various government agencies in the state. Last year, it had purchased about 19.2 per cent of the total procurement made by the government agencies. Markfed is leading in the procurement operations. It had procured about 26 per cent of the total procurement made by the Government agencies till last evening. It is followed by Punsup with a figure of 23 per cent.


Cotton yield jumps but not the price
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Though the raw cotton production witnessed a significant increase in the state as compared to the last year, it failed to bring cheers to growers and the state government due to its low prices.

As the prices remained low almost throughout the season, the growers could not earn much profit. Similarly, the government could not collect enough revenue on account of 4 per cent market fee being levied on its transaction.

Official sources said last year the marketing board had earned revenue to the tune of Rs 19 crore in the shape of market fee when its production was 13 lakh bales. This year the board could collect only Rs 20 crore despite the production was around 17 lakh bales.

Mr A. Venu Parsad, Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, when contacted, said no doubt there was about 40 per cent increase in production this year as compared to the last year but the revenue from the market fee could not take any significant increase as its prices remained low throughout the season.

He said last year the prices were high even after the cotton season started and it touched a record high. This year the prices went up in the beginning of the season and after sometime these came down and remained significantly low till now. This was the main reason that the board could not generate enough revenue.

Apart from it, a section of ginning and pressing mills owners and traders also indulged in the evasion of market fee.

Mr Parsad pointed out that teams set up by the board had succeeded in detecting evasion of the market fee to the tune of Rs 1 crore in this season. He said efforts were on to detect more evasion.


World Heritage Day today
‘Capital of Gaddri Babas’ in deplorable condition
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Sur Singh (Amritsar), April 15
The oldest residential structure in the state, belonging to Bhai Bidhi Chand, a great follower of, the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Singh, who occupies significant place in the Sikh history, is crumbling and no effort is being made to preserve this invaluable heritage .

The four-century-old structure, made of ‘Nanakshahi bricks’ in this border village, called ‘Capital of Gaddri Babas’ is in dilapidated condition and may fall any time for want of proper attention.

Earlier, a major portion of the 500-year-old house of Bebe Nanki, elder sister of Guru Nanak Dev at Sultanpur Lodhi (Kapurthala) was demolished during ‘Kar Sewa’, to construct a modern building .

Bhai Bidhi Chand was born to Bhai Wasan, who lived at village Sur Singh. His mother belonged to Sarhali, a famous village in Amritsar district. Bidhi Chand was not only a brave and tactful soldier, but also a great devoted Sikh.

The other historical buildings in this border village were damaged in the past. The Sur Singh village played a significant role during freedom struggle . It produced at least 37 Gadri Babas, including those hanged with Kartar Singh Sarabha. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to trace the residences of these Gadri Babas who had made supreme sacrifices for the sake of country and scripted glorious history of the freedom struggle including ancestral house of Baba Jagat Singh in the village who was hanged along with Kartar Singh Sarabha on November 16, 1915 in the first Lahore conspiracy case. His name has got a mention in many novels and books on history.

A renowned Punjabi writer, Waryam Singh Sandhu , who belongs to this historical village said many heritage buildings of the village had already been demolished one-by-one. Recalling old days, he said there was a big structure, built on the pattern of Mughal architecture when he was young. He further said that another structure, which was part of the ‘Samadh of Baba Bidhi Singh’ too was demolished.

It is surprising that neither the state government nor the central government made any effort to convert the historical village as heritage site, which has a great tourist potential.

Master Hira Singh, a retired government teacher took The Tribune team to the ancestral house of Bhai Bidhi Chand, which is in a pitiable condition. The remains of the building need to be preserved at the earliest.


Decision on coal import may hit power consumers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
As the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to import coal, it will jack up the generation cost at the Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar thermal plants.

Informed sources say the PSEB will import 7.2 lakh tonnes of coal this year which will put an additional burden of Rs 183 crore on the board.

Of the total imported coal, 3.2 lakh tonnes will go to the Ropar plant and 4 lakh tonnes to the Lehra Mohabbat plant.

The sources say the power generation cost at the Ropar plant is expected to go up by 9.36 paise per unit and at Lehra Mohabbat by 32.69 paise per unit due to the import of coal. About 92 lakh tonnes of Indian coal is consumed by Punjab’s thermal plants in a financial year to generate 13,870 million units of power. The PSEB spends about Rs 2,128 crore on this account. However, because of the imported coal factor, this expenditure will go up this year to Rs 2,311 crore.

In fact, the sources say the decision to import coal is against the national electricity policy which under imported coal-based power stations at coastal stations are to be encouraged to import coal on the basis of their economic viability.

However, Punjab is several hundred kilometres away from seaports where imported coal will be unloaded for transport via rail to the state’s thermal plants. The freight cost will be very high. The sources say the coal will land at a port in Gujarat. It will prove unviable for the Punjab plants which have been using Indian coal for a long time. “While placing an order to import coal, all electricity boards keep in mind the price factor”, says a senior officer. Obviously, importing coal has proved relatively cheaper for states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The PSEB has justified the import of coal on the plea that there will be a shortfall in domestic coal production in the country and the power utilities will have to resort to imports to meet the shortage. However, consumers will have to pay enhanced power rates, provided the State Electricity Regulatory Commission accepts the PSEB’s proposal on import.


Envoy to project India as secular state
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR: The Amritsar-born, newly appointed Indian Ambassador to Madagascar, Dr Daljit Singh Pannun, who once made last-ditch efforts to avert infamous “Operation Bluestar” by mediating between Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and the Union-Government, has said that he will project the ‘true secular character’ of the Indian Constitution after taking over in the last week of April.

Talking to TNS here Dr Pannun said this was the need of the hour to project this image as most of the Islamic countries had a wrong notion that India was a Hindu state. He said India had the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. It was time to tell the world that India respected all religions. He said during his earlier assignment as Ambassador to Ghana, he had convinced at least four Islamic states, during his special tour to these countries as ‘Special Envoy’ to the then Prime Minister, Mr Narasimha Rao, and emphasised the point that no human rights violation occurred in India due to any sort of discrimination.

Madagascar lies in the Indian Ocean off the south-east coast of Africa.

Talking about his ‘success story’, Dr Pannun said it was his ‘communication skills’ that got him the most important assignments. He shot into limelight when he became a penfriend of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, the then Indian Ambassador to Russia. He was a student of a local school at that time. He wrote a letter to congratulate Dr Radhakrishnan when he was received by Josef Stalin, considered as a historic moment in Russian history. Later, Dr Radhakrishnan invited him to Delhi when he was made Vice-President of India and the relationship continued till his death. He said it was due to his inspiration that he met Indira Gandhi, the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting, who got him appointed as state correspondent of All India Radio at Amritsar. Dr Pannu had also a short stint as a correspondent of Times of India. The relationship with Ms Gandhi strengthened when she became the Prime Minister.

In Punjab Dr Pannun had the longest tenure as the Chairman, Punjab Backward Classes Development Board. He also organised a mass-loaning function in 1980 and introduced ‘yellow cards’ for the downtrodder.


Bridge construction over Bein stalled
Tribune News Service

Bhulath (Kapurthala), April 15
Legal wrangling pertaining to disbursal of compensation of the acquired land has stalled a 1.76 crore project for constructing a bridge over the Bein rivulet.

The delay in the project that began in the year 2000 is causing much inconvenience to thousands of commuters who daily commute from Bhulath to Subhanpur or Begowal townships. This has forced residents to pass through another bridge that is in dire state. This old bridge was constructed was constructed much before Independence but has not been repaired so far. As all types of heavy vehicles, including trucks, buses and tractor-trailers, pass through the bridge almost every minute, the riders can feel it shaking. The bridge is not just weak and dusty; it is also accident-prone.

The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal. Though the span of the bridge was constructed six months ago, the approach roads were yet to be constructed. The contractor had started filling the area across the bridge where approach road was to be made. The owner of the land, Mr Vijay Pal Singh Bajwa, a property dealer, moved the court demanding a stay till he was paid dues for the portion of his land acquired by the government. The court gave the verdict in his favour and the PWD was asked to halt construction work on both sides of the bridge.

Mr Bajwa, an octroi contractor, said his business had suffered ever since the construction of new bridge had been halted and condition of the old bridge had stated worsening. He said people were trying alternative routes for going to Bhulath.

Meanwhile, Mr Ranjit Singh Rimpy, owner of a marriage palace, was also demanding compensation for the part of land acquired for a similar approach road on the Bhulath side of the bridge. The XEN (B and R), PWD, Kapurthala, confirmed that the construction had been stalled due to stay orders issued by the court.


Girl moves rights panel against mother, paramour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
An 18-year-old Batala girl today alleged that her mother and her paramour were trying to marry her off for Rs 3 lakh.

The girl, has moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), seeking directions to the police to safeguard her life and to her husband.

In her petition, filed through advocate R.S. Bajaj, the girl has alleged that her mother, a widow, has illicit relations with Pritam Singh of the same village. Both tried to force her to submit to sexual advances of Pritam.

When she resisted both tried to marry her to a man in lieu of Rs 3 lakh. She also claimed that they even invited certain persons to have a look at her.

She confided in Amarjit Singh, a close family friend. The twosome decided to marry. However, when her mother got the wind of her plan, she beat her up. The two eloped and married. The mother lodged a case against them.

Today, advocate R.S. Bajaj told a PSHRC Bench that by not allowing the complainants to live peacefully, the respondents were violating their Fundamental Right to life.

After hearing him, the PSHRC directed that a copy of the complaint be sent to the SSP, Police District, Batala. The SSP has been directed to look into the matter. The Bench also ordered that the life and liberty of the couple be protected.


Jallianwala Bagh awaits Sonia’s attention
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 15
All concerned about the poor upkeep of Jallianwala Bagh have pinned hopes on chairperson of Memorial Trust Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All India Anti-Terrorist Front, has said a grant of Rs 2.5 crore was sanctioned by former Prime Minister the late P.V. Narasimiha Rao in 1998 for the trust.

The money was to be spent on installing a Son-et-Lumiere (light and sound programme) at Jallianwala Bagh and expansion, repair and maintenance of its gardens and open spaces.

The Son-et-Lumiere was proposed by Mr Bitta, the then president of Indian Youth Congress.

Mr Bitta wrote to Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture in the NDA government, that of Rs 2.5 crore Rs 37 lakh had been misused. “The rest of the money stood frozen in the Central Bank.”

The district administration denies that it has any role in carrying out repair and renovation of the memorial.

Mr S.K. Mukherji, general secretary of the trust, said the project was with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).


New jails at Nabha, Kapurthala
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 15
Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary having the portfolio of Jails and Defence Services Welfare, Punjab, has said that construction of two new jails at Nabha and Kapurthala for housing 5,000 prisoners each has been finalised by the state government. The estimated cost of land for the existing sites of Patiala and Jalandhar jails was more than Rs 500 crore and after selling the land of these existing jails, the money would be utilised for the construction of the new jails.

Mr Birmi was talking to mediapersons here today. He said Rs 15 crore had already been released to the Police Housing Board for the construction of two new barracks each in all 12 districts and central jails of Punjab to reduce the rush of prisoners in the existing barracks. Besides, Rs 3 crore had also been given for the construction of houses for Deputy Superintendent, Jails, and quarters for the jail staff in the state.

Mr Birmi said there were 505 martyrs, including Kargil war heroes in the state. The Punjab Government had released an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh each apart from the grant of Rs 1 lakh each being given to them.

Earlier Mr Birmi distributed an exgratia grant of Rs 70 lakh to 42 parents/widows of war heroes, including eight winners of the gallantry award at a district-level-ex-servicemen rally at Sainik Rest House.


‘Dead’ woman found alive
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 15
A woman who is dead in the police record has been found alive. The story of her disappearance and complaint of her murder, led the police to register a case of murder against her husband’s family.

The woman, Seema Rani (40) of Jaito, was married to Kuldeep Singh here for the past 12 years. She has two children. About a year back she went missing.

Following her disappearance, Ms Jeeta Rani, mother of Seema, had complained to the Punjab Human Rights Commission that her in-law’s had often made demands for dowry and tortured her daughter.

She alleged the family had murdered Seema and destroyed the body.

A case was registered against husband Kuldeep Singh, brother-in-law Sukha Singh and mother-in-law Mukhtiar Kaur under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.

Yesterday, Seema, after a gap of more than one year, appeared before the police.

She was accompanied by the Municipal Committee president and a relative.

SSP Amit Prasad said Seema, who was staying in Ludhiana, appeared before the police and showed ignorance about any complaint of her murder by her family. He said the police was investigating the case.


Bhattal presides over District Grievances Committee meeting
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
A meeting of the District Grievances Committee held here today under the chairmanship of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal remained off-colour as no MLA belonging to the district or any complainant turned up for it. The meeting was over in around half an hour.

Addressing the district officers and members of District Grievances Committee, Ms Bhattal appreciated the working of the Deputy Commissioner. The number of complainants in the district was the minimum in the state, she said. She urged the members of the committee to bring only public related issues in the meeting and not the individual complaints. She directed the district officers to redress the grievances of the public on priority basis and implement the public oriented government schemes properly.

On this occasion, comrade Natha Singh urged the chairperson to direct the district administration to remove encroachments from Tarkhan Majra village, Ms Bhattal directed officials of the PWD to remove encroachments so that accidents could be controlled.

Mr Harinder Singh Kang said the procurement agencies were taking 700 gm wheat from farmers for each gunny bag, whereas the weight of one gunny bags was around 500 gm, Ms Bhattal directed Food and Civil Supply official to take action.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner said his office and residence were open 24 hours for the people. He said all officials of the district were working in coordination and honestly. He said he had directed the council and panchayat officials to remove all encroachments from government land.

Mr P.S. Kaley, Assistant Commissioner (G), Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Mr Pakhar Singh, Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Dr Sikandar Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh Tarkhan Majra, Chairman of the Sirhind MC and Mr Harinder Singh Sidhu of the BJP also attended the meeting.


SGPC flays govt for no Baisakhi holiday
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
The SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has criticised the Punjab Government for not declaring a holiday on Baisakhi and said it had exposed the “real face” of the government. She stated this while talking to The Tribune over the phone.

The SGPC chief said the state government’s move had also showed how much it cared for Sikhism. When asked about the Damdama Sahib Jathedar’s allegation of ignoring the Takht, Bibi Jagir Kaur said she had no clue about it. She denied that Takht Sri Damdama Sahib was being ignored. She said all Takhts belonged to the Sikh community and they were given due respect.

She said she could not make it to Damdama Sahib as she was engaged in amrit sanchar” at Kesgarh Sahib.

The Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, also criticised the state government for depriving thousands of Sikhs from participating in their biggest festival of the year. He termed the state government’s move as “unfortunate”.


Minister trying to shut down my shops, says Saifdipur
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
Prominent social activist Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, who is running a chain of ration shops (modikhanas) across the state, has alleged that Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister, is using his influence to close down these shops.

He said the move to close the shops would prove to be detrimental to the interests of hundreds of poor families.

Interestingly, Mr Saifdipur is a strong contender for a Congress ticket from the Ghanaur Assembly segment of this district. Mr Randhawa has successfully contested the last assembly elections from this segment.

Mr Saifdipur has claimed that due to Mr Randhawa's politically coloured moves to close these modikhanas, nearly 4,500 persons would suffer.

It is pertinent to mention here that Mr Saifdipur is running 28 modikhanas in Punjab out of which 3 fall in the Ghanaur assembly segment.

Mr Saifdipur, who is also President of the International Bhau Bhaichara Sangathan, added that he was running 15 modikhanas in Patiala alone and alleged that Mr Randhawa was instrumental in closing down these too.

Mr Saifdipur said Mr Randhawa was trying to influence the district police due to which he was being allegedly framed up by the local cops.


Seminar on multi-service card held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 15
The district administration today organised a seminar for creating awareness among district officers about the upcoming, prestigious pilot project of multi-service card (MSC), which is going to be implemented in Fatehgarh Sahib on trial basis.

The card is being introduced to provide efficient, friendly and transparent interface between the government and public as well as to ensure objectivity and accountability.

The Centre has adopted Fatehgarh Sahib as pilot district to introduce the Multi-service card. If the scheme is successful, then it will be introduced in the entire state and then in the country.

Addressing the seminar, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, said that e-governance was introduced to speed up work in the government offices as well as to redress the grievances of people on a priority basis.

He said the district administration would make all out efforts to make this project a success.


Road mishap victim awaits justice
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Four years have lapsed since a road mishap in Moga killed his brother and left him injured — physically and emotionally. But the transport company involved in the accident has not paid Swaran Singh alias Rocky even a single penny, despite court orders.

In his orders pronounced on September 4, 2003, Chandigarh’s District Judge had ruled that the claimant is entitled to claim compensation to the tune of Rs 3,60,000.

Earlier, during the hearing of the case, Moga-based Sewak Bus Transport Company Limited had claimed that the court was not having territorial jurisdiction to try the case. They had further claimed that their bus was not involved in the mishap.

Tears of anguish and dejection, meanwhile, flood his weary eyes as he looks straight into your face before saying, “As the general secretary of a students’ organisation in Panjab University, I have fought for the rights of others. But this time, I am sitting on the fence, watching helplessly”.

Trying hard to compose himself, Swaran Singh — hailing from Ferozepore district — mutters, “I never knew the road to justice was full of so many huddles, even if you were travelling with law on your side”.

Sitting tight, he recalls, “At the time of the accident, I was pursuing honours in Geology from Panjab University, while younger brother Akhil was doing plus two in medical from Government College in Mohali”. He recalls the incident, “On July 12, 2001, we were on our way to Ferozepore when a bus coming from the wrong side in Moga rammed into the motorcycle we were riding. Akhil made his final exit from the world instantly, while I was rushed to a hospital. Since then, I have been operated upon five times at PGIMER in Chandigarh and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

“The court ordered compensation, but the amount was never paid, resulting in the filing of an execution petition”. Acting on the same, the court issued warrants of attachment. In fact, the District Judge on March 19 directed the bailiff to attach movable property and “return the warrants on or before April 16.

“Armed with the order, we went to Moga for attaching the transport company’s bus. But they managed to escape from the spot. A first information report in the matter was registered on March 24 at City Police Station in Moga under Sections 353, 186, 506 and 34 of the IPC on the complaint of the court bailiff.”


MC chief quits before no-trust vote
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 15
The Municipal Council president, Mr Krishan Shami Teria, today put in his papers even before facing the no-confidence vote, attributing his resignation to “family problems”. Sources said out of the total 24 councillors, 16 were against Mr Teria, besides the local MLA, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar.

The sources said Mr Teria was known for his proximity with the former Punjab CM, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar.


Nine booked for duping NRI
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 15
Nine persons, including a DC office employee, a patwari, a tehsildar, and an ex-sarpanch, have been booked for duping a non-resident Indian here.

NRI Dalip Singh, in his complaint to the SSP stated that he got married to Chhinder Kaur of Kaliewala village in 1973. They had two sons, but they got divorced due to some differences in 1985. He alleged that his wife, in connivance with the other accused got his fake power of attorney made. Later, she reportedly got his five acres of land and a palatial house on the Amritsar road mutated in her name with the aid of the patwari, the tehsildar and the ex-sarpanch in 2003.

After coming to know of the matter, Dalip Singh lodged a complaint with the SSP on January 27 this year. The SSP asked DSP (City), Jatinder Singh to probe into the matter.

The DSP found the accused guilty, following which a case has been registered against Chhinder Kaur, her brother Avtar Singh, his sons, Jagjeet Singh and Manjit Singh, superintendent in the DC office, Lakhveer Singh, patwari Gurdit Singh, tehslidar Ram Singh, Duneke ex-sarpanch Bhag Singh, and Khukhrana resident Thana Singh under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, and 471 of the IPC.


Two cops arrested in separate cases
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 15
Two persons, including a police constable, have been arrested for extorting money from people under Lambi police station. Sources said ASI Darshan Singh received a tip-off that two motor cycle-borne men wearing police uniform were threatening and extorting money from commuters on the Badal-Mithari road.

The ASI raided the spot where he found a Hero Honda motor cycle parked at the roadside. He arrested both persons and asked them to reveal their identity. They were identified as Gurdeep Singh, a dismissed home guard, and Jagir Singh, a police constable. The police also recovered 15 kg poppy husk from them. A case has been registered against them under Sections 419, 420, 170, 171, and 506 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, another policeman has been arrested for duping a man of Rs 2 lakh in connivance with two others. Sources said the accused cop, constable Fateh Singh, along with Kala Singh and Bhagichand, lured the complainant, Kashmir Singh, to deposit Rs 2 lakh with them on the assurance that they would double it in a short span of time.

Later, when he became suspicious he asked them to return his money. They kept dilly-dallying for a few days and then gave him some gold jewellery in lieu of his amount. The jewellery later turned out to be artificial. A case has been registered against the accused under Section 420 of the IPC. While Constable Fateh Singh has been arrested, the other two accused are still at large.


2 killed, 25 hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 15
Two pilgrims, including a child, were killed and 25 others, including 10 women, were injured when a truck (HP-24A-4699) rammed into the Tata 407 truck (PB-04B-9898), in which they were travelling, at the Chandigarh-Phagwara bypass today.

The pilgrims were coming from the holy shrine of Peer Nigaha in Himachal Pradesh. More than 50 pilgrims, including women and children, were travelling in the truck.

Karan Hans (12), son of Kulwinder Singh, died on the spot, while Yog Raj Singh, son of Nirmal Singh, succumbed to his injuries.


Man booked for selling NRI’s land
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 15
A resident of Chandigarh has been booked by the police on charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust here last night.

According to the police, Mr Tejpal Vashisht, a resident of Chandigarh now settled in London, lodged a complaint that he owned a piece of land in the town here.

He had given the power of attorney for this land to Raj Kumar, also a resident of Chandigarh.

He alleged that his land was sold off by Mr Raj Kumar without taking him into confidence.

He lodged a complaint against Mr Raj Kumar with the Punjab DGP who asked the Ropar SSP to inquire into the matter.

The Kharar DSP held a probe and found out that the land had been illegally sold in 2002 to a resident of Ambala for Rs 4.85 lakh. The police registered a case against Raj Kumar under Sections 406, 420 and 120 B of the IPC.


Illicit liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 15
The Bhawanigarh police and the CIA staff, Bahadur Singh Wala, at a naka laid at the drain of Thaman Singh Wala village on Wednesday seized 378 cases (4,536 bottles) of illicit liquor and 178 cases of beer from a truck and arrested the driver and the cleaner of the truck.

The police arrested Balkar Singh and Harjinder Singh, driver and cleaner of the truck, who were residents of Gurdaspur district.


Atwal flays Punjab decision to privatise govt schools
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 15
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today flayed the decision of the state government to privatise government schools.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Atwal alleged that the privatisation of education was tantamount to depriving poor students of it.

He also criticised the state government for not declaring a holiday on the birth anniversary of Dr B.R Ambedkar yesterday. It was an affront to the author of Indian Constitution as well as an anti-Dalit act, he said.

Mr Atwal, who is normally reluctant to comment upon state issues, keeping in view the norms of his high office, was for the first time very vocal in his criticism of Punjab Government on these two issues.

Without naming the Punjab Chief Minister and the credit that the Chief Minister takes for securing release of Punjabi youths from Pakistani jails, Mr Atwal retorted that it was not an overnight decision as international issues take longer times for settling such issues. Mr Atwal claimed that he had raised the issue of 79 Punjabi youths lodged in Pakistani jails much earlier at a conference in Canada with his Pakistani counterpart. ‘‘I had again raised the issue in Manila at the Conference of Inter-Parliamentary Union with Pakistan authorities in the first week of this month’’, he remarked to drive home the point that continuous and collective efforts were behind the release of the youths from Pakistani jails. It was not a matter of individual credit, he quipped.

Mr Atwal, who was unanimously elected vice-president of the body of 144 countries in the 112th IPU in Manila (Philippines) on April 5 and had presided over its session on April 7, endorsed the decision of Lok Sabha Speaker Som Nath Chaterjee for cancelling his visit to Sydney in Australia in protest against decision of Australian authorities to frisk him at their airports.

Mr Atwal also disclosed that it was decided in Manila Conference that an interaction and coordination would be held regularly between South Asian countries, Asian region and the Indian subcontinent for exchanging views about Parliamentary systems and devising ways to further improve their functioning.


Club agriculture with IT, says IARI chief
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Dr S. Nagarajan, Director, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi, said today that clubbing of agriculture with information technology and commerce had become must to enable the farmers to meet global challenges.

Dr Nagarajan, while delivering the convocation address at Punjab Agricultural University here, cautioned that without making concerted efforts at every level, including the agriculture operations, use of information technology and e-commerce, the Indian agriculture would become irrelevant as it had been facing great global challenges.

“The agriculture henceforth will be driven by the consumers and not by the producers and, therefore, there must be a open and effective dialogue between the two to create a win-win situation,” he said. He added by 2020 agriculture would be knowledge and technology driven and to meet the new challenges the university, developmental agencies and the farmers would have to get themselves readjusted.

Making a special reference to Punjab, he said agriculture needed a reorientation from the present overemphasis on the production of raw commodities towards value addition and product manufactured by appropriate technological interventions. A platform must be created where information and communication technology, advances in the biotechnology, food science, health science and agriculture should converge for making the rural Punjab healthier and wealthier.

The eminent scientist pointed out that the jinx of slow growth could be overcome by mixing appropriate agricultural policies with the dynamism of farming community in the state.

In process of taking the responsibility of producing adequate food grain to thwart hunger, the state had destabilised its ecology due to fall in water table and loss of soil micro-nutrients. To restore its ecology, Punjab needed huge money. Due to ecology and economic stress, Punjab farmers had been getting into debt trap and the accumulated debt had gone to Rs 12,000 crore in 2002-2003 from Rs 5,700 crore in 1997-1998.

He stressed that as India was the second largest producer of the fruits and vegetables in the world, the value addition to the fruits and vegetables should be increased to increase the profitability of the growers.

Dr K. S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, while admitting the fact that Punjab had been paying a heavy price for achieving higher agricultural productivity, said the university had again prioritised its academics, research and transfer of technology programmes.

Earlier, Dr Nagarajan and Dr Aulakh conferred degrees on 197 students.


Privatise mandi fee collection: chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April15
The newly appointed chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Sukhbinder Singh Sukh Sarkaria, today pleaded to privatise the mandi fee collection in the major mandis of Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Sarkaria said the collection of market fees in the fruit and vegetable mandis had shown tremendous grow as the fees collection had gone up from Rs 20 crore to Rs 32 crore after it was given to private parties.

He added the officers of the board did not show any increase and the board was planning to auction the fee collection in Patiala, Haryana and other major mandis in the future.

Expressing his satisfaction over the current wheat procurement drive, Mr Sarkaria said out of the total arrival of 23.43 tonnes, 21.46 tonnes have already been procured.

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