P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Zee News showed doctored clip: Bittu
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 9
Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, president of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal, today alleged that there was a “definite design” by the Indian state to malign the image of people, who were fighting for their democratic and constitutional rights. He regretted that certain media organisations also appeared to be playing into the hands of the (Indian) state and were becoming part of the design.

Mr Bittu, one of the staunch votaries of a separate Sikh state, maintained that theirs was a democratic way of protest. He pointed out there was a definite space for dissent in democratic societies, but regretted that the same was being denied to them in India. He pointed out while the Prime Minister was inviting people like Yasin Malik for talks those resorting to peaceful ways were being “damned as threat to the national security”.

Referring to his interview to Zee News, he alleged, “It was distorted and presented out of context”. He revealed that he had been interviewed for more than an hour and only a single “doctored clip” was aired so as to make out as if “we advocated armed rebellion”. He warned, “Don’t push us to the wall just because we want to be peaceful in our protest and demand”. He claimed that even the Supreme Court had ruled in one of its ruling that demanding Khalistan was no crime as long as the demand was made in a peaceful and democratic manner.

The Khalistan ideologue asserted that the movement was still enjoying a widespread support, which may not be manifest right now. He said people like him were trying to build up an alternative to the traditional political parties. The alternative, he said, would have the Sikhism as its basic priority. “Sikhism comes first and Punjab next, the nation (India) can wait”, he remarked.

Mr Bittu criticised the government for arresting Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan for his statements to Zee News. At the same time he regretted that Dr Chohan was trivialising an important and serious issue of Khalistan by his non-serious talks. He appealed to him to exercise restraint and not to make an important and serious issue, which concerns millions of people, look ridiculous.

The general secretary of the Dal Khalsa, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, was also present on the occasion.


Fresh case against Chohan; Khalsa Raj Party office sealed
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, March 9
The police here has booked Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, a proponent of Khalistan, in a fresh case of creating lawlessness and pulled down ‘controversial flag’ fluttering atop the building of a charitable hospital being run by him in Tanda, 32km from here.

The police reportedly also sealed the office of the “Khalsa Raj Party” inside the hospital premises after taking certain objectionable documents and a computer into possession. Sources in the police disclosed that a case under Sections 121, 124-A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against Dr Chohan by Tanda police last night.

Police officials were reluctant to register a case against Dr Chohan but they have to book him under pressure, sources in the police disclosed.

Highly placed sources revealed the police had also detained certain family members of Dr Chohan, including his wife Mrs Charanjit Kaur, and friends for questioning in the case. Apart from taking some documents from his office, the police also took some computers and other electronic communication instruments for investigations.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, claimed that Khalistan ideologue Chohan was booked for creating lawlessness by making anti-national statements. Mr Harish Kumar, Superintendent of Police (Detective), has been asked to conduct investigation in the case.

The SP (D) claimed that certain flags, a computer and some pamphlets were taken into possession after searching the office of the Khalsa Raj Party inside the building of Chohan Charitable Hospital in Tanda, last night. He said during search neither the currency notes, nor any passport, postal stamps and blueprints of Khalistan were found in Chohan’s office.

Mr Kumar added during questioning Chohan’s wife disclosed that the currency notes, passports and other documents pertaining to Khalistan were in England. The SP (D) also claimed that the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of the computer is being examined for detecting Mr Chohan’s links with other Khalistan ideologues in the World.

The police in civil dress have been deployed in Tanda and other towns to keep a watch on associates of Mr Chohan for establishing his links with other ‘outfits’, police sources disclosed.


Badal for probe into controversial TV programme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The controversial television programme regarding "Khalistan" today echoed in the Punjab Assembly.

The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while demanding an independent inquiry into the matter, blamed the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his close aides for having "engineered" the programme to create terror with regard to "Khalistan" in the minds of people ahead of the coming Assembly elections.

Mr Badal and his party demanded an independent inquiry by a Judge of the High Court or the Central Bureau of Investigation into the matter. He also demanded that all those who were involved in filming and telecasting the programme should be found out.

He called the programme " politically motivated" and added that it was aimed at "defaming the Sikh community and dividing Hindus and Sikhs who are like brothers."

Speaking for the government, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said the Congress was ready for any probe into the matter.

She, however, added that a formal announcement about the inquiry would be made by the Chief Minister tomorrow. She also said that the government would write to Zee TV asking it to conduct an inquiry on its own how the programme was filmed and telecast and who all were involved in it. Earlier, Mrs Bhattal said "we all have to move ahead" and reminded the Akalis that Mr Jagjit Singh Chohan, who had been arrested for raising the demand for "Khalistan," had come back to India after a long period during the regime of the NDA. She also said that a Khalsa sammelan was organised by separatist elements a few years ago in which certain Akali ministers and the SGPC had participated.

Earlier Mr Badal had said that Mr Chohan and terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara, in separate instances, had praised Capt Amarinder Singh.


Anti-national forces won’t be spared: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 9
The sinister designs of the anti-national elements, who were trying to foment trouble in Punjab by spreading misinformation about the revival of terrorism, would be crushed with a firm hand and no one would be allowed to ruin the atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the state. This was stated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing a public rally near Goluke village in the Guruharsahai Assembly constituency of this border district, represented by his close aide, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that with renewed and congenial relations with Pakistan Punjab, the border belt of Indian Punjab, especially the districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur, would be immensely benefited, and the increase in bilateral trade between the two nations would open new vistas for the people of Punjab.

He said the initiatives of the Congress regime with the government of Pakistan Punjab, under the leadership of Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, had fostered a feeling of goodwill, mutual trust and friendship between both Punjabs, besides enormously aiding the governments of Pakistan and India.

He said the normalisation of the Indo-Pakistan relations through concerted efforts would further pave the way for the opening up of Wagah Border, Hussainiwala and Dera Baba Nanak Borders, which would boost trade and commerce activity in the border belt of the state. Parvez Elahi had positively responded to his request for undertaking the development of the native village of Sikh warrior Hari Singh Nalwa in Gujjranwala district. He also said that Mr Elahi had also promised to extend the Wagah-Nankana Sahib road up to Gurdwara Sacha Sauda in Pakistan for the convenience of the visiting Sikh devotees from India.

Addressing a gathering of Congress workers, supporters and electorate of the region, Amarinder Singh said that the policies of the present Congress regime had instilled confidence among prospective entrepreneurs and industrialists, who have evinced keen interest to set up their ventures in the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore.

Earlier, Capt Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone of the building of Shaheed Udham Singh Government College at Guruharsahai to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3 crore. The foundation stone of this college was laid by late Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1996. The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of a modern bus stand at Guruharsahai, which would be completed at a cost of Rs 80 lakh. Besides, he also launched a Rs 3- crore scheme to ensure 100 per cent potable drinking water and sewerage facility to the residents of Guruharsahai. He also presented a cheque for Rs 11 crore to Chief Parliamentary Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs and local MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi for the execution of various ongoing development projects. He also announced to construct a railway underbridge at a cost of Rs 80 lakh at Guruharsahai.


House seeks release of 54 Indian soldiers in Pak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Exhibiting rare unity, the Treasury and Opposition benches today unanimously passed a non-official resolution asking the Union Government to take up the matter regarding the release of 54 prisoners of the 1971 war lodged in Pakistani jails.

It was, perhaps, for the first time after a long time that a non-official resolution was passed unanimously by the House.

The resolution regarding the prisoners was moved by Mr Randeep Singh, Congress MLA from Nabha, and was forcefully supported by Akali MLAs, including Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Tota Singh, Congress MLAs, including Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the BJP MLA, Mr Tikshan Sud.

Mrs Bhattal, who spoke in the absence of the Chief Minister and Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, assured the House that the Chief Minister would personally apprise the Union Government of the contents of the resolution and impress upon the authorities concerned at the Centre to take up the issue with Pakistan immediately to get the prisoners released.

While moving the resolution in the House, Mr Randeep Singh said that reports regarding the Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails had come numerous times. As relations with Pakistan had improved, it was time to get all those prisoners released.

Making an emotional speech and quoting from military history of the region, Mr Manpreet Badal said there were references in certain books regarding the presence of Indian war prisoners in Pakistani jails. " Though technically they are called war prisoners, they are our heroes and we should do the maximum to bring them back to India", he added.

Mr Tikshan Sud said that certain mistakes were committed during the signing of the Simla Agreement. The Indian authorities at the time of the signing of the agreement should have insisted on the release of all Indian prisoners from Pakistani jails before releasing 90,000-odd prisoners from Indian jail camps.


Centre forms core committee for Wagah, Attari: Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Bowing to the pressure mounted by the BJP, the Union Government has constituted a core committee under the chairmanship of a Union Secretary to make recommendations for improving infrastructure at Wagah and Attari, a BJP MP from Amritsar, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, claimed today.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had informed me that it was also in the process of appointing a consultant to prepare a detailed project report in this regard, the firebrand cricketer-turned-politician, said at a press conference here.

Demanding the opening of a visa centre at Amritsar, Mr Sidhu alleged that the border town which he represented in the Lok Sabha had been discriminated both by the Punjab Government and the Centre. People wishing to travel to Pakistan or do business had to first go to Delhi to get a visa, Mr Sidhu lamented; favouring the opening of the Wagah border to allow free trade with Pakistan.

Training his guns on the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government, he alleged that the Chief Minister for serving his narrow political interests had scuttled the Rs 1,200 crore SEZ project at Amritsar already approved by the Centre.

He claimed that the Congress government had not fulfilled most of its promises made in its election manifesto and pointed out to "anomalies" in the implementation of VAT and "failure" to abolish the Octroi system despite promise to do so.

The common man had been left to fend for himself even as the Punjab Government was patronising the land and liquor mafias, he alleged.

He also criticised the Centre's decision to import wheat, saying it would adversely affect Punjab farmers once the imported wheat flooded the markets.

Maintaining that he had lot of promises to fulfil which he had made to the people of Amritsar, Mr Sidhu, however, did not rule out his possibility to contest the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections from Patiala constituency.

Asked to comment on reports appearing in a section of the Press that the BJP was preparing to pitch him from the Patiala constituency represented by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the cricketer-turned-politician said he had no knowledge about any such move. However, if instructions came from the party high command, I would obey, he added.


Copying rampant in exams
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur (Gurdaspur), March 9
Rampant copying is going on in the Class XII examination of the Punjab School Education Board in this part of the district.

When The Tribune team visited some schools in which the physics paper was being held in the afternoon shift, outsiders were seen clinging to windows at examination centres to help candidates.

Some outsiders were seen risking their lives and limbs by climbing steep walls to provide material to students.

The staff posted at a centre were mute spectators and the school compound was full of people helping candidates.

People who had gathered outside the examination centre told The Tribune that only a select few were being allowed to cheat.

The students who were being helped had approach either the supervising staff or local politicians.

Three policemen were deputed to check copying at the examination centre at the Government Senior Secondary School in Sujanpur, but none of them made any effort to stop outsiders from helping students.

Mr Happy, a Shiv Sena leader from Sujanpur, alleged that copying had been going on in connivance with the staff posted at the examination centre.

Sources said cheating in remote areas of the district was going on in connivance with the Education Department authorities and was more prevalent during difficult papers like physics and mathematics.


Rain winds flatten wheat crop, farmers’ hopes
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
Even as unexpected spell of hot weather in February took heavy toll on wheat crop sown late, rain accompanied with strong winds last night flattened early sown varieties of wheat over thousands of acres adding to the apprehensions of crop losses among the region’s farmers.

The Tribune team today spotted lodging (flattening) of wheat crop on vast stretches of land in the villages adjoining the city where the farmers were lamenting uncertain weather. Gurmail Singh, a small farmer from Jassi Pau Wali village, said: “Strong winds and rain flattened our hopes at a time when we were coping with the losses caused due to a long spell of heat last month.” He rued he had lost half of his five acres of wheat crop to soaring mercury in February and last night’s shower. Sukhdev Singh from Gehri Bhagi village said earlier his brother, who had sown cotton, had suffered immense losses in September rain and with his three-acre wheat crop suffering the damage, he too had little hope of breaking even. Gurjant Singh from Kattar Singh Wala village, who had sown wheat on four acres, said 25 per cent of his wheat crop was flattened by rain. “Now I would have to pay more to labourers for harvesting the crop.

The rain has also spoiled chances of having good fodder for our livestock,” he added. Baldev Singh having merely 1.5 acres of wheat crop was the worst-hit. Disillusioned with the successive state governments, he said: “I don’t expect a single penny in compensation from the government. Crop losses due to rain always make only news that is followed by girdawari, which never translates into fair compensation. I haven’t got anything despite suffering huge losses in the last few years.” Reports of damage to wheat crop have also been received from Rampura Phul, Maur Mandi, Nathana, Goniana and Joga areas.

On the other hand, Dr GS Buttar from the Department of Agronomy, PAU, said the rain would certainly affect yield as lodging of wheat had been witnessed in early sown varieties. He said the crop watered yesterday would have suffered more damage.


36 cops on SAD ‘hit list’
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has prepared a list of 36 police officers who have “committed atrocities” and have registered “false” cases against SAD workers on the behest of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during the past four years term of the state government.

This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of the SAD, while addressing a gathering at the annual mela in the memory of Muslim saint Sheikh Braham at Mianwala Uttar village, 10 km from Khemkaran, here, today.

Mr Badal condemned the government for poor performance and said the government had done nothing except adopting a revengeful policy during its more than four years rule.

Prof Virsa Singh Valtoha, former member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, Bhai Manjit Singh were among others who spoke on the occasion.


Trees marked for felling without criterion?
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 9
Has the Forest Department marked trees on government land for felling? Though forest officials deny it but there was no way to ascertain the fact.

To a question asked under the Right to Information Act the DFO, Gurdaspur range admitted that the government lands in his jurisdiction have not been demarcated. According to rules felling of trees on government land is not permitted. In Gurdaspur range forests on village common lands are unidentifiable for private forests protected under Sections 4 and 5 of the Forest Act.

While the demarcation has not been done which criterion has been adopted by the Department of Forest to separate government forest from the private forests. The sources here said that the demarcation to identify the government forest from private forest had not been done to facilitate felling in the former case.

The words, canopy of trees, bunch of trees, and solitary trees are the basis for felling of trees in the protected forests in the state. The definitions have been used explicitly for marking trees for felling.

However, the Department of Forest has no explanation for the words they use to fell thousands of trees every year in the state. Due to subjective use of words in different forest areas former wildlife warden Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa had sought from the DFO, Gurdaspur range objective definitions of canopy, bunch and solitary trees as used in felling under the Right to Information Act.

In a written reply to the query the officials have stated that the information regarding the definition of said words could be had from the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun as no such information was available at Gurdaspur DFO’s office.

As per felling rules of the Forest Department no tree could be marked for felling in a bunch of trees. The rules also state that no tree can be marked if it leaves a permanent gap in canopy or if the tree is standing solitary. If the Forest Department officials do not have any objective criteria for identifying the canopy, bunch of trees or solitary trees, how do they mark trees in the forest for felling every year.

In other information given to Mr Bajwa the DFO, Gurdaspur, said that 9669 trees had been marked for felling in four villages of the range. In Bar Sudal village alone 5763 trees had been marked for felling.


Case against kin false, says Dalit
Rights panel seeks report, DSP denies charges
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Sangrur, through ADGP/IVC-cum-Human Rights, Punjab, on or before the next date of hearing — May 8, 2006 — on the complaint filed by a Dalit woman, Ms Malkeet Kaur, wife of the late Gurmukh Singh, resident of Burj Sedha village in Dhuri Tehsil in this district.

In her complaint, Ms Malkeet Kaur has alleged that on February 8, Nirmal Singh, Gurjit Singh, Jasbir Kaur, Gurmukh Singh and Bhagwan Singh attacked her and injured her. She also alleged that they used caste-based objectionable words against her. Later, her relatives took her to Dhuri Civil Hospital for treatment, she added.

She also alleged that she reported the matter to the Dhuri SHO and DSP for taking action against the accused, but as the Dhuri DSP was “hand in glove” with the accused, in place of registering a case against the accused the Dhuri police registered a false case on February 8, 2006 under Sections 452,427,506 and 34 of the IPC against her brothers-in-law (husband’s brothers) Roop Singh, Baghel Singh advocate, and nephews Gurjant Singh and Kuldip Singh.

Ms Malkeet Kaur has asked the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to provide her justice by getting a case registered against the persons who attacked and abused her, and cancelling the case registered by the Dhuri police against her brothers-in-laws and nephews.

When this reporter contacted Dhuri DSP Paramvir Singh over the phone today, he refuted all allegations levelled by Ms Malkeet Kaur against him and the Dhuri police. He said the complaint was false and had been made to put pressure on the police for getting the case registered against her relatives, including Baghel Singh advocate, withdrawn. The DSP said the Dhuri police had registered a case against four persons, including Baghel Singh, as they had gone to the house of Nirmal Singh where they threatened and abused members of Nirmal Singh’s family and damaged their motor cycle.


Doctors opposed to contract system
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association has demanded regular selection of doctors through the Punjab Public Service Commission. The association has opposed temporary recruitment of doctors through zila parishads on contract, saying that it would do more harm than good and was against the interest of the public as well as the doctors.

Dr M.S. Randhawa, Dr D.S. Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary of the association, respectively, in a joint statement said here today that such a recruitment was bound to compromising the impartiality of the medico-legal duties.

The medical service providers would be at the mercy of local political bosses, who would act as their appointing and governing authorities and could adopt arm-twisting methods to settle scores with their local political and personal rivals.

The association maintained that any step that resulted in deviation from impartial character of the Judiciary and medical services could damage the social system and erode public faith in fair governance. The selection and appointment of judges and medical officers should be purely on merit and through constitutional bodies like the PPSC.

The association argued that a sense of responsibility would be far less among the doctors on contract in the absence of checks and balances of the service rules as applicable under the regular Punjab Civil Medical Services, putting rural population to serious risks due to lack of accountability.

The doctors selected on contract for three years would also suffer as most of them would become overage for regular selection into the PCMS after putting in three years in the service on a contract.

The association said the temporary recruitment would indefinitely postpone selections through the PPSC, which were overdue.

The association alleged that the government was adopting underhand methods to eyewash already underprivileged people living in rural areas to save money by privatising medical services. By adopting such tactics the government was shirking from its responsibility of providing quality medicare to the rural masses, it alleged.


Telefilm on female foeticide released
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, March 9
‘Kanjka da Katal’, an 82-minute telefilm aimed at curbing female foeticide, was released to mark International Women’s Day here yesterday.

It has been produced by the PNDT Cell and directed by its Project Officer Sadhuram Kushla.

The film is about a Jat Sikh family, in which a woman craves for a grandson from her elder daughter-in-law, but her younger son, in connivance with a doctor, gets male foetuses aborted to avoid division of land.

When the PNDT Cell tightens its noose around the doctor, a female foetus is saved and the girl grows up to become a jail superintendent.

“It has depicted gender bias prevalent in society and conveys the message that a daughter’s birth does not mean loads of worries and dowry,” said Ms Harjinder Kaur, a housewife, after watching it.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari said the telefilm would be shown on cable television in cities and through projectors in villages.

“We hope that the telefilm will help bring about a positive change in the people’s mindset and they will allow the girl child to step into the world,” he said.

As a result of efforts of the PNDT Cell, set up here in 2003, the number of girl child per 1,000 boys had shot up from 740 in 2002 to 808 in 2005.

NAWANSHAHR: International Women Day was celebrated to spread awareness among the masses regarding the alarming situation arising due to rapid decline in the sex ratio.

Besides organising a seminar on female foeticide, special langars were organised at different spots on the main roads.

ABOHAR: Thirtythree women were honoured as the Punjabi Sabhyachar Manch, the Arya Mahila Propkarani Sabha and the Mahila Suraksha Samiti joined hands in celebrating International Women Day here on Wednesday. Mr Jaskiran Singh, SDM, was the chief guest.

AMRITSAR: The local unit of the All-India Women Conference organised a free medical camp.

Ms Lakshami Kanta Chawla, a BJP leader, in a press release stated that a meeting of “Shakti”, an organization for women, was held on Wednesday. They expressed concern over the rising graph of female foeticide.

Besides, crime against women had risen to an alarming proportion during the past years and urged the government to take strict action against the offenders.


Centre concerned over PSEB losses
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
The Union government has expressed concern over the mounting losses of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) which is touching Rs 596 crore during 2005-06 as against a commercial profit of Rs 175 crore during previous financial year.

Punjab Government’s decision to supply free power to the agriculture sector has been mainly blamed for adversely affecting the financial health of the board. The state government is unlikely to take any hard decision this year to improve its health, as it is already in pre-election mode considering the state assembly elections by early next year.

“As per information compiled by the Power Finance Corporation, the PSEB suffered commercial loss of Rs 436 crore during 2002-03 and Rs 596 crore during 2004-05 while it earned a commercial profit of Rs 175 crore during 2003-04 on accrual basis,” said Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today.

“Reduction in hydel generation, which resulted in increase in power purchase cost, increase in employee cost and increase in renovation and modernisation cost led to increase in losses, whereas average revenue remained more or less same in comparison to the previous year,” said official sources in the Power Ministry.

The decline in Punjab’s share from the Bhakra dam, from 1327 MW in 2004-05 to 1257 MW in 2005-06 up to September 2005 also contributed to these losses, since the state is getting power at a much cheaper rate from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Sources said that issue of free supply of electricity and mounting losses of the board is likely to be raised in the meeting of state chief ministers called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The meeting will also prepare a roadmap of energy sector for the coming years.

Under investment component of Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP), he said, government has provided a financial assistant of Rs 178.78 crore to Punjab during the period from 2002-03 to 2004-05. During 2005-06, Ministry has provided Rs 45.28 crore as incentive grant under the APDRP for actual reduction in losses, added the minister.

To bail out the board, the Rural Electrification Corporation has so far extended a loan of Rs 579.03 crore this year and Rs 53 crore has been offered by the Power Finance Corporation.


Animal lovers flay move on hunting
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 9
Conservationists and animal lovers across the state have flayed the Punjab government move to allow hunting of wild boars and blue bulls. They have termed the decision to allow hunting of endangered wild animals as arbitrary and unjustified.

Noted wildlife expert Lt-Gen (Retd) Baljit Singh while talking to The Tribune alleged that the decision of the Punjab government to allow hunting of animals was against the Wildlife Conservation Act. The Act totally prohibits the hunting of animals. It allows only culling of animals and that only after all other options have been exhausted. However, in the case of Punjab, the government neither tried to relocate the animals nor provided them alternative habitat.

He questioned the methodology adopted by the Wildlife Department of Punjab for estimating the population of blue bulls in the state. The blue bulls migrate across the borders of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The department should have calculated the population of blue bulls through random sampling across a period of time. Figures projected by the Wildlife Department may be inflated.

After estimating the population, the department should have estimated the number of animals that could be sustained in forests. This could have given them the numbers to be culled.

Moreover, the department should itself cull the extra animals. The culling has to be scientific. In natural environment there is one blue bull after seven females. If the hunters are allowed to kill the animals unscientifically it could spell doom for the entire population.

The department can also hire the services of marksmen from the Army for scientific culling of extra animals as is the practice in South Africa to control the population of elephants.

Mr Sandeep Jain, executive member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said the lobby of hunters had forced the government to open hunting of wild boars and blue bulls in the state. This notification would open the Pandora's box.

The Wildlife Department is ill equipped vis-à-vis the influential lobby of hunters in the state. They would not be in a position to check which animals are being killed by hunters once permit was obtained by them. The hunters would poach other animals such as barking deer, sambar and peacock under the garb of killing wild boars and blue bulls.

Mr Sukhdeep Bajwa, former honorary Wildlife Warden, said as per the Wildlife Protection Act, wild animals are state property. Once killed or culled, they have to be cremated by the Wildlife Department. The government has not made any arrangement to prevent killed animals being taken away by hunters. If the arrangements are made, no hunter will come forward to kill the animals as they are only after meat.

Mr Prabhat Bhatti, who runs an environmental NGO, Jagriti, in Ropar, said their activists would not allow hunters to kill the animals. They would also challenge the government notification in a court of law, he said.


Govt wants ‘proof’ of publicity campaign
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 9
With the countdown to the Assembly elections in the state already began, the Punjab Government has gone all out to convey its message to the ground level. The officials of publicity department have been directed to personally carry the message of the government to the sarpanches across the state.

Measures have also been taken to ensure that propaganda material reaches the grass-root level. The officials carrying the material to the sarpanches have been directed to get their photograph clicked while handing over the publicity material with the recipient. The photographs are to be submitted to the Block Development Officers (BDOs) who are to bear the expenses for the same.

While talking to The Tribune some of the sarpanches said the material being given to them included a printed letter from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, which states the achievements of the past four-year Congress rule in the state.

The sources said the government had launched advance propaganda campaign, as it would not be possible once the elections were announced due to election commission guidelines. The ruling party also wants to perpetuate their message among the masses before the election campaign of the opposition parties gathers momentum.

The move of the government has, however, drawn flak from the leaders of the Opposition. Former BJP minister Mohan Lal alleged that the Congress was using government machinery for its party propaganda.

Most of the achievements enlisted in the publicity material being distributed among the villagers are the proposals or facilities being extended in the election year. The government has claimed that it has given 200 units of free electricity to the Dalits in the state.


Ex-servicemen seek quota of seats in Parliament
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
The district unit of the Indian Ex-Services League has warned the government that if the demands of the ex-servicemen were not met soon, they may follow the path of agitation to get their demands fulfilled.

Mr H.S. Chahal, general secretary of the district unit of the league, said one of the main demands of the ex-servicemen was one- rank, one-pension which had not been fulfilled so far despite the promises made by various political parties, a former Prime Minister and a former Defence Minister in the past.

Mr Chahal said there should be reservation of seats in Parliament, state assemblies and local bodies so that the ex-servicemen could also serve society without any pressure from any political party. He demanded that the payment for the canteen smart card should be made from the profit of the canteen in place of by any individual ex-serviceman.


All set for Hola Mohalla
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 9
The administration and SGPC have made separate arrangements to facilitate lakhs of devotees from India and abroad to visit Anandpur Sahib to pay obeisance at historical gurdwaras on Hola Mohalla, the five-day festival starting tomorrow.

Nine sectors have been made in the town to organise various religious and political conferences provide services like parking slots, community kitchen, temporary toilets, water and medical aid.

A large number of policemen will be deployed here during the festival to maintain the law and order, including 10 duty magistrates, eight SPs, 29 DSPs, 47 inspectors, 236 NGOs, 324 head constables, 1232 constables, 82 traffic police personnel and 60 women constables, said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S. Garewal.

"The police will be deployed here round the clock. To avoid traffic chaos, 12 parking slots have been made for the devotees at different places," said the SP (Headquarters), Mr Jaspal Singh. The full strength of the police force will be deployed on March 11 when the town is likely to witness a great rush of devotees.


Vehicles stoned during Army recruitment rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
A large number of youths, gathered at the Khasa cantonment, about 8 km from here on the Amritsar-Attari road, for recruitment in the Army, stoned vehicles plying on the GT Road today. At least nine persons were injured.

The Assam Rifles had organised a recruitment rally. A large number of aspirants from all over the state gathered in the cantonment area.

The authorities allegedly called only seven persons on the campus and announced that recruitment had been closed.

This enraged the candidates and they started pelting stones on vehicles. They also damaged some buses.

Policemen reached the spot and controlled the mob. They reportedly rounded up seven persons.

Col J. Chandan said they had written to the police authorities, but they did not make proper arrangements. The Chheharta police said it did not get any such information.


Punjabis can now meet on the Net
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 9
Lakhs of Punjabi families could now meet on the Net, thanks to the efforts of a Jalandhar-based journalist who has launched a website which is dedicated to all Punjabis of the world.

Most of Punjabis would find a place on the website along with their photographs and other particulars. Punjabis settled in India and abroad would also be able to post details about their friends and relatives on the website, “www.apnapunjab.com”.

The names, addresses and telephone numbers of important persons, including the DCs, the SSPs, judicial officers, the SDMs and media persons have also been displayed on the website, said Satwinder Singh.


Sarpanch beaten up
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 9
Mr Pali Ram, Sarpanch of Surl Kalan village, was injured when he was allegedly beaten up by three residents of the village on the premises of the AP Jain Civil Hospital here today.

According to reports, the accused—Sohan Lal, Manmohan Lal and Harbans Lal—exchanged hot words with the Sarpanch at the hospital before giving him a severe beating.

It may be recalled that Mr Pali Ram is a witness in a complaint case against the son of Sohan Lal, Bunty, who is accused of sodomising a seven-year-old boy of the village. Earlier also, Mr Pali Ram was threatened with dire consequences if he did not back out from his statement to the police against Bunty.


Six get 18-month RI for trespass, assault
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 9
Six persons — Manohar Lal, Ajay Kumar, Anil Kumar, Ram Kumar, Sushil Kumar and Jagdish — of Haripura village, near here, have been sentenced to 18 months’ rigorous imprisonment by a local court.

The court has also fined the accused and in case of non-payment, they will have to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for between 7 and 15 days.

Mr Ram Sarup, a landless worker of the same village, had alleged in his complaint that the accused, armed with weapons, trespassed on his house and attacked members of his family, caused injuries to them.

The complainant had stated that Manohar Lal asked him and his wife to pluck the cotton crop in his fields, but they refused as someone else had engaged them, following which Manohar Lal and his friends attacked them.

The complainant had alleged that the accused threw their household articles out of the house, damaged the house and took away some gold ornaments and cash.


Rakhra kisan mela on March 17
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Punjab Young Farmers’ Association will organise a state-level kisan mela at Rakhra, near Patiala, on March 17.

It will be inaugurated by the Punjab Minister for Co-operation and Horticulture, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa. Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa will preside over the function.

The theme of the festival is “Diversification for future”.

Association secretary-general Bhagwan Dass said the participating farmers would be given the foundation seed of the highest yielding Pusa-44 variety of Paddy and the latest varieties of Basmati, Pusa-1121 and Pusa-2511. The farmers will be taken round the demonstration fields of the newly developed high-yielding varieties of wheat — Pusa-Gold, Pusa-Vishesh, Urja and the fine grain HD-2643 varieties. An agricultural exhibition will also be put up on the occasion.


US team for adopting modern farm techniques
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 9
Though the soil of Punjab is rich and people are capable and have strong potentiality to provide the desired results, orthodox techniques in agriculture make them lag behind in farm production compared to the USA. These views were expressed by a seven-member delegation of class 35 California Agricultural Leadership Programme United States while talking to mediapersons here today.

They said they had visited a number of villages around Delhi and Punjab during their one-month tour to India. A lot of improvement in transportation system for carrying agricultural produce to market was required.

The delegation consisted of Mr Harry S. Gill, Mr Johan S Arellano, Mr Robert Goodwin, Mr Sohan Samran, Mr Scott Shehadey, Mr Mike Young and Mr Tom Chandler. Mr Harry S. Gill belonged to Maksudra village of Ludhiana and Mr Sohan Samran to Badala Mahi of Hoshiarpur district.


Three die after consuming spirit
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
Three residents of the local Dhebar Nagar today died after allegedly consuming spirit. There were rumours about three more deaths in the town due to consumption of liquor or spirit in the past 24 hours, but these could not be confirmed.

Residents of Dhebar Nagar told mediapersons that Pappu (32), Naresh (28) and Kaka consumed spirit the previous day. As per the sources in the Civil Hospital here, Pappu and Naresh died in the hospital.

They were admitted to the hospital in a serious condition. The death of Naresh was shown in the hospital records as a suspected case of poisoning while Pappu’s death was linked to consumption of spirit.

The deceased had allegedly purchased liquor from a liquor shop outside the Sunami Gate near Dhebar Nagar.

The police would get the liquor shop sealed in assistance with the Excise Department to check the quality of liquor.


Robbers’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 9
Mr Arun Pal Singh, SSP, in a press release issued here today claimed to have busted an inter-district gang of robbers by arresting its four members, Avtar Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Amandeep (residents of Ludhiana) and Sat Pal of Makkowal Jabha village (Kathgarh), on the basis of a complaint lodged at Rahon police station on March 8 by Bhag Singh of Usmanpur village (Nawanshahr).

In his complaint, he had said that on March 7 when he was going to supply Bisleri water bottles worth Rs 50,000 on Canter (PB-10AQ-6748) from Ludhiana to Kapurthala, the four unidentified persons, standing on the road along with a Maruti car (PB-10X-3989), stopped him near Pallian Kalan village (Bholath).

They tied him with rope and robbed him of Rs 900, driving licence and mobile phone and decamped with the Canter.

The police had registered a case under Sections 392 and 323, IPC.


Brick-kiln worker murders wife
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 9
In a bizarre incident, a brick kiln worker allegedly axed his wife on Tuesday night and made an unsuccessful bid to commit suicide, sources said yesterday.

Ganpat Ram Bawri (28) a contract worker at Balaji brick kiln at Hathianwali village on the Abohar- Sadulshehar road, suspected his wife's fidelity. When she was sleeping, the culprit allegedly axed Ms Santri and jumped into the water tank near their dwelling at 10.30 pm. However, he changed his mind and came out using the water pipe fitted on the wall.

Initially he preferred to run away but returned to inform the owner of the brick kiln early in the morning, official sources at Sadulshehar police station said. SHO Sarwar Ali said the culprit originally belonged to 22SSW village in the neighbouring Hanumangarh district.

The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, against the culprit on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mr Mani Ram. The body was taken to Civil Hospital at Sadulshehar for post mortem, sources added.


2 die in mishap
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 9
Two persons were killed when their Mahindra jeep (HR-22-4454) going from Hamirpur to Jalandhar, rammed into a parked truck (HP-23A-9331) in front of a dhaba at Ram Nagar Dehan village 14 km from here, on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar road last mid night.

According to police sources, both the deceased were identified as Naresh Kumar, a son of Rasila Ram of Dakoh, and Bimal Thakur, a son of Vishnu Thakur of Kango, both of Nadaun (HP). The police sent the bodies for a post-mortem examination at the local Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case in this connection.


Body of child found in bushes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 9
The body of an unidentified eight-month-old boy was found in bushes at Mehangrowal village in this district last evening.

According to police sources, Sudesh Kumar, a son of Daulat Ram, who was grazing cattle in the fields, noticed the body and informed the police. The Hariana police has registered a case under Section 315, IPC.


Seminar on skewed sex ratio held
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 9
A seminar on female foeticide was attended by officials of different departments, sarpanches, panches, councillors, doctors, teachers, students, NGOs etc, was organised at Shivalik Public School here yesterday, to mark ‘International Women’s Day’, to spread awareness among people on decline in sex ratio.

Ms Anjali Bhawra, Commissioner, Patiala Division, in her presidential address, called upon people to shun gender prejudice to end discrimination against women and join hands to create social environment for that purpose. She lamented due to age-old prejudices in society, discrimination against the girl child existed at every level be it nutrition education and opportunities for career development. These prejudices were not related to literacy and prosperity. Instead literate and prosperous sections of society had been misusing medical technology for causing imbalance in the sex ratio. Decline in sex ratio had reached a situation that the girl child had to fight even for a chance to live. She lauded Deputy Commissioner Krishan Kumar and the NGOs for the drive against female foeticide in the district.

Earlier, Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said efforts of different departments, sarpanches, panches, councillors, ANMs, anganwari workers, students, teachers and NGOs, had been yielding results. People have started raising voice against ‘errant’ couples and nursing homes in the district. As many as 77 villages in the district had more number of girls than boys in the age group of 0-6 in the district.

Ms Harbeen Bhardwaj, CJM-cum-secretary, District Legal Services Authority, made people aware of women’s rights and free legal service facility available for the women to protect their rights.

Ms Guriqbal Kaur, wife of Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Ms Amarjit Kaur, wife of the Commissioner, Jalandhar division, Ms Sarita, wife of Mr Krishan Kumar, Mr Balwinder Singh Multani, Mr Arun Pal Singh, SSP, also present.

The sarpanches, panches , NGOs, officials and employees of the different departments contributing towards the drive against female foeticide were honoured on the occasion. Artistes of the Pragati Kala Kendra, Landheran and Sikh National College, Banga staged plays and choreography on female foeticide. Mr S.C. Bhattacharya, a Chandigarh-based cartoonist, organised exhibition on female foeticide.


Khalsa College for Women wins
Kalpana Chawla Memorial Declamation Contest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
Khalsa College for Women here won team championship of Kalpana Chawla Memorial Declamation Contest organised by the NSS unit of Guru Nanak Dev University to mark International Women’s Day on the University campus here yesterday.

Mansi from BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, Sukhraj and Jaspreet of the university were awarded ‘Individual Best Speakers Awards’ in the contest.

Ms Vibhuraj, SSP Majitha, was the chief guest and gave away prizes to the winners. Dr M.D. Singh, Dean, Students Welfare, presided over the function. Ms Shelly Sharma, Principal, Madhav Vidya Niketan Public School, Ms Harjeet Kaur, Reader, School of Punjabi Studies and Ms Manpreet Kaur, Lecturer, English from Khalsa College for Women, were judges of the contest.

Dr Viney Kapoor, NSS programme officer, highlighting the need to celebrate the Women’s Day pointed out increasing incidence of crimes against women and inability of law to combat the menace.

NSS volunteers performed a choreography on ‘Rape’ and a skit highlighting the impact of globalisation and liberalisation on our lifestyle was also presented.

Dr Jaspal Singh, NSS Programme Officer of Unit-I, gave an account of NSS activities of the university. Mr Pardeep of Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy Department of the university was honoured with volunteer trophy.


NSS volunteers, students celebrate Women’s Day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
The Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle unit of the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadhur Engineering College and the NSS today organised a function on the college campus to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The women staff and girl students of the college participated in various competitions. Ms Manjeet Kaur Hira, wife of Dr D.S. Hira, Principal of the college, was the chief guest.

Lectures on women-related topics and a quiz — “Famous woman world” — was organised. Ms Hira, while addressing the function, stressed the need for simple living and high thinking, particularly for woman. Prof Gurmeet Kaur from Punjabi University, Patiala, discussed in detail the problems of working women.

Prof Niraj Bala, Prof Jasmine Kaur, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur, Librarian, also spoke. The Principal of the college, Dr D.S. Hira, gave away prizes to the speakers.

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