Saturday, March 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Sacrilege : DGP blames Hindu Vikas Parishad
Tribune News Service

Laddowal (Ludhiana), March 23
Four companies of the Indian Reserve Battalion, two each at Malerkotla and Amritsar, have been pressed into service by the Punjab Police to maintain communal harmony and peace in the sensitive areas of these places. The state police has also found evidence that a Hardwar-based organisation was behind the incidents of religious sacrilege taking place in some parts of the state.

Disclosing this to reporters here today, Punjab DGP Sarbjit Singh said Hindu Vikas Parishad had been identified as the one behind the incidents. The DGP said the police had been alerted in the state to avoid any untoward incident. Aggressive patrolling was being carried and special vigil kept at the religious places and sensitive areas, he said.

The police action comes in the wake of incidents of religious sacrilege reported from Amritsar and Patiala in the past two days. Ludhiana has also remained tense in the past 24 hours. Though no incident was reported rumours of communal clash and disturbance were being spread. The police has also arrested three persons suspected of planning to create some disturbance in the city.


Patiala tense, seven suspects held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 23
There was tension in the city even as the district police chief, Mr H.S. Sidhu, said seven persons were arrested today, in the case pertaining to the alleged burning of a religious book at Arya Samaj Chowk here yesterday.

Mr Sidhu said, Jaswant, Davinder Kumar, Narinder Joshi, Sunil Kumar, Satish Kumar, Ravi Kumar and Jamaal were picked up by the police from various parts of the city.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Gill, SP (City), has confirmed that the security cover given to Sanjeev Bhardwaj, the main accused in the case, had been withdrawn and a massive manhunt launched to nab him. Bhardwaj is the President of the All India Hindu Suraksha Samiti.

Mr Sidhu, also said that the police was also trying to nab the other suspect, Sanjeev Kumar Babla.

Meanwhile, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, has condemned the incident. In a press release, she said, “Such incidents to play with communal harmony were the result of the inefficient control of the law and order situation by the incompetent ruling SAD-BJP combine”

The situation throughout the day remained tense, although no untoward incident was reported from any part of the city.


Muslims hold protest march
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 23
Muslim community members here today wore black badges and hoisted black flags atop mosques as a mark of protest against the burning of a copy of the holy Quran at Amritsar on Wednesday.

A large number of Muslims attended Friday prayers after the protest. The peace march started from the Jama Masjid and ended at the Sirhandi Gate. Special security arrangements were made by the district police in Malerkotla, the only Muslim-dominated town in Punjab.

A special vigil was kept outside temples where police personnel were deployed. Besides, CID personnel in civil dress were asked to keep a vigil in the city especially around mosques and temples.

Political leaders from almost every party took part in the peace march. not a single slogan was raised against any community during the march. Mufti Fazal-ur-Rehman Hilal Usmani Mufti-e-Punjab appealed to the Muslims to show restraint.

Mr Kulchander Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, said in view of the sensitivity of the situation, forces from rural areas had been called in to assist the city police along with reserve battalions and commandos.

Muslim leaders, including former MLA Sajida Begum, former Minister Choudhry Abdul Gaffar, Chairman of the Improvement Trust Mumtaj Ahmed Shah and Congress leader Anwar Mehboob, demanded the arrest of culprits.

Sangrur: Members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Jeet Singh, district president of the party, today held a protest march in the town against the burning of the Quran in Amritsar and the expose.

The protesters, carrying banners, demanded resignation of the Vajpayee government and punishment to those who had burnt the Quran and thrown pig flash in to a mosque.

The protesters were addressed by Mr Jeet Singh and Mr Megh Singh Sangali, member, executive committee of the SAD (A).

Mr Gopal Singh Jawanda, member, executive committee of the SAD (A), Mr Harinder Pal Singh, president of the Sangrur unit of the party, and Mr Bashir Mohammed, district president of the Muslim wing of the SAD (A), also participated in the march.


Sacrilege condemned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Mr Balwant Singh, secretary, Punjab State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), today condemned the incidents of sacrilege at Amritsar and Patiala by anti-national and communal elements who wanted to engineer communal violence in a sensitive border state.


Cong condemns sacrilege
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, today condemned the incidents of sacrilege at Amritsar and Patiala during the past few days.

In a statement issued here, he said such incidents were responsible for disturbing the peace in Punjab. An enquiry should be conducted into these and the guilty must be punished, he added. The PPCC chief said all right thinking parties should get together to ensure that communal peace was not allowed to be disturbed by a handful of fundamentalists.


Budget : unanswered questions 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
When the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, presented the Budget estimates for 2001-02 in the Vidhan Sabha on March 19, he and his political teammates in the SAD-BJP knew pretty well how fierce the political battle ahead would be. Therefore, while attempting to impress the Treasury Benches, since there was no Opposition seated in front of him, and the people he talked at length how he had navigated the state through troubled financial waters, since June,1997, to steady the rocking economic boat.

He took passed the blame for the financial mess and slow-down of the economy and the resultant heavy debt burden to the Congress giving some credit to non-Congress governments, one of Mr I. K. Gujral and the other of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, for steering the state out of the storm, and apportioning the rest to himself and the socio-political transformation that he claimed the SAD-BJP had ushered in.

But as the import of the Budget sinks in, several questions arise. Has the Finance Minister succeeded in inspiring voters? How sound is his strategic-planning for the future? Will his calculations sustain the economy bringing in revenue from sales tax, etc? Is public scepticism justified in the absence of any concrete proposals regarding agriculture vis-à-vis the Centre’s attitude? Does the Budget reconcile the political ideologies of the SAD and the BJP since the two differ vastly in the Budget presented in Parliament and the one in the Vidhan Sabha? Is the Budget a reflection on bad economic planning and bad financial management? How realistic are the proposals and promises? Will the Budget initiatives, not visible, translate into votes when the elections are held?

Interpretations on any Budget vary. But Capt Kanwaljit Singh is emphatic. His Budget is “different”. For this he has even got a soft applause in the Press. After all, it was his fifth consecutive Budget, a record for even the Akalis! Browsing through the Union and State Budgets, one finds that the co-partners, the SAD and the BJP, in the government pursue no fusion of the political ideologies. Even the idiom of the two Budgets is as different as is cheese from chalk. The Union Budget talks of “dismantling” the system of minimum support price and procurement of foodgrains (wheat and paddy) and the public distribution system while maintaining silence on the World Trade Organisation regime, its impact on agriculture offering neither assurances nor solutions safeguarding the kisan.

Crying “foul”, the Punjab Budget says: “The Centre wants to wash its hands of the foodgrain pricing, procurement and distribution system”. While it “strongly urges” the Centre to continue with the present system it also displays how dependent (and helpless) Punjab is on the Centre. If the Union Budget offers no hope, the state Budget is eloquently silent and disappointing on how Punjab, of its own, proposes to deal with such a situation if the Centre were to ignore its pleas. Merely mentioning the preliminary recommendations of the experts’ committee in the Budget speech, addressed to the Centre, is not enough. Is food politics at play?

The real engine of growth of an economy that accelerates development and public interest institutions is capital expenditure. Revenue expenditure is the one spent on salaries, pensions, debt repayment, etc. Ideally speaking, in the revenue account, the receipts should outbid expenditure, thereby, sparing enough money for capital formation and spending. In the Punjab Budget the situation is the reverse. When debt rises, repayments suffer pushing a government into a debt trap. A debt is normally expected to be not more than 33 per cent of the GDP. Where is Punjab placed?

As per the Budget speech, (Part-A, page14,) public debt was likely to increase by Rs 4,551 crore in 2000-01from Rs 23,758 crore (1999-2000) to Rs 28, 309 crore by the close of the current financial year. Though the public debt has increased to Rs 4,551 crore, as per the Budget speech (page 9), capital formation/expenditure has been to the tune of Rs 1,518 crore in 2000-01. This means the total debt increased by Rs 4,551 crore. And out of this increased debt only Rs 1,518 crore was utilised for capital projects and the remaining for meeting the day-to-day expenses of running the government. How good is such financial management? Is the trend likely to be the same in next year’s Budget?

Perhaps, yes. In his speech, (Part-B, page 74,) this is clearly indicated. According to it, government expenditure will be Rs 13,956 crore under revenue account and Rs 1,454 crore under capital account—a total of Rs 15,411 crore. Therefore, to meet the balance requirement, the government will have to raise loans or show deficit. The statement of the Finance Minister shows that the government will raise loans of Rs 9,657 crore towards the Consolidated fund and Rs 1,067 crore towards public account. Out of these loans, Rs 10,724 crore (Rs 9,657 crore + Rs 1,067 crore) the government will be retiring the previous debt of Rs 6, 488 crore and increasing public debt to the tune of Rs 4,236 crore. As the government will only be making Capital expenditure of about Rs 1,454 crore out of this increased public debt, can one call it good economics?

The announcement of the voluntary retirement scheme—VRS—is one of the much-talked about items of the Budget proposals as is the money (Rs 2 crore) kept for payment as compensation to next of kin of farmers committing “suicide” due to indebtedness. This scheme is effective from April 1 next. Is the government offer a premium on “suicide” giving it a legitimate status?

The VRS is a laudable step. An outlay of Rs 50 crore is proposed. The number of employees in the government and public sector undertakings is about four lakh. Even if 5 per cent (a minimum expected to avail themselves of the offer, though Capt Kanwaljit Singh says the response is “enthusiastic”) opt for the VRS, the bill will come to a whopping Rs 2,000 crore. How will the government cope with the exodus as is expected?

Capt Kanwaljit Singh gives a six-year gestation period to his proposals. Is Punjab ready to give the SAD-BJP a re-run or will it give “runout” in the next elections? These are only some of the blues of the March 19 Budget on which the House has concluded “discussion” and to which the Finance Minister has replied. Voting on the Budget estimates as well as the Appropriation Bill is slated for Monday next. 


Performance card of SGPC members sought
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
Taking a cue from the ‘open letter’ written by Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, the Damdama Sahib Dal Khalsa has urged all SGPC members to submit affidavits to Akal Takht enlisting their ‘performance’.

Many SGPC members may find themselves in the dock as after the high priest, a radical Sikh organisation has criticised them for their ‘non-performance’, for indulging in factionalism and for their family members becoming ‘patit’ (apostate).

The setup of Giani Kewal Singh and the Dal Khalsa may embarrass the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and other factions as most of the members do not have much to their credit in the field of religion during their four-year stint. Though the basic aim of the Dal Khalsa in seeking affidavits from the members is to take ‘political mileage’ in the light of the coming election of the Shiromani Committee, due next year, yet most of the members are unlikely to respond to its call.

Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, has alleged that most of the members had become ‘dummies’ as power was centralised with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The party (SAD), which had been fighting for the decentralisation of powers, had vested all powers with its chief as far as the ‘maryada’ and functioning of the SGPC was concerned.

He alleged that the Sikh high priests had also failed to review the performance of the SGPC members.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, has asked Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Damdama Sahib, to name the members whose family members were ‘patit’. He said if Giani Kewal Singh did not have guts to disclose the names of such members, he should not give ‘vague’ statements charging the entire general house of the Shiromani committee. He said there were many SGPC members who had done sincere efforts to propagate the faith.

Releasing a copy of a letter addressed to SGPC members along with a copy of the affidavit, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, chief spokesperson of the party, said the Dal Khalsa had taken upon itself to play a “constructive” role as a ‘link’ between the Sikh electorate and their elected representatives.

He said that the SGPC was the sole organisation articulating the socio-religious aspirations of the Sikh Panth. Its functioning was not transparent unlike a democratic set-up. There was a general feeling amongst the Sikh masses that its members were more interested in enhancing their political career than serving the interests of the Panth.

“To make them accountable and answerable for their role and obligations before the ‘open court’ of the Sikh Panth, we sent copies of letter and affidavit to all 180 members of the present House”, said the leader of the Dal Khalsa. “We forwarded the copy to the Akal Takht Jathedar for his perusal” he added.

He claimed that his organisation has no intention to drive political mileage out of it.

He said the move initiated by the Dal Khalsa would provide an opportunity to the SGPC members to set their house in order.

Excerpts of the affidavits to be filled by the members read, “I take an oath before the open court of the Khalsa Panth that I do not consume intoxicants like liquor, opium, etc. I recite my daily prayers and meditate on the holy name every day as laid down in Sikh rehat maryada.... I do not keep faith in any religion other than Sikhism and believe in no other holy book other than Guru Granth Sahib.... I follow the contents of the Sikh rehat maryada accepted and published by SGPC”.

It may be mentioned here that many members of the SGPC were “guilty“ of violating the maryada as alleged by Giani Kewal Singh and the Dal Khalsa.


HC warrant officer raids police station
Two illegal detainees freed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 23
A warrant officer from Punjab and Haryana High Court reportedly got released two persons, allegedly detained illegally at the Khuyiansarwer police station in this subdivision, yesterday. This was the second raid conducted at this police station during the part one month following petitions in the high court, sources said. Earlier, the wanted person was not found in the lock-up there.

Mr Ram Chander of Jalalabad (West) located on the Abohar-Ferozepore road, had stated in his affidavit that he, along with Mr Hukam Chand of Lamochad village, were going to Lamochad village on their jeep when a Tata Sumo intercepted them. They alleged that SHO (Khuyiansarwer), who was in the Sumo asked them to hand over their jeep to them.

According to the affidavit, when the occupants of the jeep refused to hand over their vehicle, they were allegedly beaten up by the police party. Later, they were taken to Khuyiansarwer police station and put them in the lock-up on March 14.

Their relatives located them on March 18 and requested the SHO to release them. It was alleged that the relatives reportedly struck a deal with the police for getting the complainants released by paying a heavy amount. But the police was allegedly not satisfied with the amount.

Finally, the relatives filed a complaint in the high court. A Warrant Officer raided the police station and reportedly got both person released but in the affidavit, it was alleged that the detained persons and their relative were beaten up in the presence of the warrant officer. They were later taken to Jalalabad (West) hospital for a medical check-up. The warrant officer asked the SHO to attend the high court on March 26 with a written explanation in this connection. A deputation today met senior police officers at Ferozepore and demanded that the SHO be sacked immediately.

The local DSP and other police officials could not be contacted as they had gone to Ferozepore. 


Record sold to junk dealer
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 23
How irresponsibly some employees can compromise the security of sensitive projects of the country, is illustrated from the incident that happened in the Design Directorate of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) at Nangal.

A head draftsman in the directorate got an idea to make a few hundred rupees by selling old records of the department.

He sold about five gunny bags full of the records containing the sensitive documents of the time when the Bhakra was being constructed, to a junk dealer.

The theft was detected by his colleagues when his attempts at stealing grew bolder and he stole an almirah of a junior engineer of the same office. The junior engineer grew suspicious of the accused and investigated the matter on his own. He found that five bags of sensitive records regarding Bhakra were missing from the record room.

On questioning the suspected employee, the authorities found that he had sold the record to the junk dealer. Fortunately, when the authorities approached the junk dealer he had not yet disposed of the purchased record. The authorities claim to have recovered the record.

The accused official, Kulbir Singh Rana, has been relieved of the charge and, according to sources, may be sent back to his parent state of Punjab.

According to the Central Government instructions, records of the security-sensitive institutes like the Bhakra, should be destroyed only after proper scrutiny by a record destruction committee that is formed for the purpose. The record should be sold to paper recycling mills and destroyed chemically in the presence of a responsible officer.

The Chief Engineer (Irrigation), BBMB, and the Director, Design, were not available for comments on the issue.


Salemgarhia is MC President
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), March 23
Mr Lachman Dass Salemgarhia of the BJP has been elected president of the local municipal council.

The election for the posts of president and vice-president was held today at the municipal council office.

Mr Kulwant Rai, a Youth Congress leader, has been elected vice-president.

Mr Salemgarhia and Mr Rai defeated Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhola (SAD) and Mr Mohinder Singh (SAD), respectively.

The district administration and the police had made arrangements to conduct the elections in free and fair manner.

Mr S.K. Sabarwal, SDM, who was the Returning Officer and Mr Parkash Singh Lamhey, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), supervised the election process.


Jakhar denies link with joint front
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 23
Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, president, District Congress Committee (DCC), Ferozepore, has denied having any link with a joint front constituted at Fazilka. While talking to this correspondent, he said he was dedicated to the Congress. Mr Jakhar was commenting on a meeting organised by some persons having links with the Congress.

It is stated that a front has been constituted by certain persons, who had claimed having covert support of Mr Jakhar but now he has denied having any link with such a front.

He also opposed the use of his and party name by the members of the front. The DCC chief claimed that the party was united in the district. 


Probe into jail inmate’s complaint
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 23
Mr Justice R.L. Anand of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered an inquiry into a complaint of an inmate of the central jail of Bathinda in which he had alleged that he was beaten up by some jail officials when he said he could not provide quality food due to lack of proper raw material.

Mr Justice Anand who was here to inspect the jail listened to the problems of the inmates and ordered the inquiry to be conducted by a sessions judge.

Ami Chand, the complainant, said he had made it clear before the jail authorities that the raw material was not sufficient for all prisoners, but the authorities did not take it seriously.

He alleged he was beaten up by the jail officials when he added water to a “dal” in order to increase its quantity.

He said due to this he was not being given a parole. He alleged that some of the inmates were being given “personal” attention and others were being deprived off basic facilities.

He said the jail authorities did not forward the documents related to his parole.

Mr Swaran Singh, Jail Superintendent, said Mr Justice Anand had ordered an inquiry into the complaint of Ami Chand that his parole papers were not being shifted from Bathinda to Mansa.

He said the allegations made by Ami Chand were wrong and he was motivated by bad elements in the jail.

He said all inmates were living peacefully and they did not have any complaint against the authorities.


Solar plant for Khatkar Kalan
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Khatkar Kalan (Nawanshahr), March 23
Mr M. Kannappan, Union Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Sources, laid the foundation stone of a Rs 700 crore grid interactive solar photovoltic power plant and dedicated it to the memory of Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh at his ancestral village here today.

On completion, it will be one of the largest projects of its kind in the country.

Mr Kannappan said that ministry had sanctioned its share of Rs 383 lakh towards the project, while the remaining amount of Rs 250 lakh would be provided by the Punjab Government. Any shortfall would be met through a soft World Bank loan and the installation work completed within a year, Mr Kannappan said.

He said the basic objective of setting up the project in Punjab was to provide voltage support to the rural grid based on the “distribution utility” concept. The purpose of the plant was to generate grid quality power and to improve power in the local area by providing reactive power support.

The project would work in the grid stand mode and supply power to as many as 90 streetlights from dusk to dawn at the village periphery and the road connecting the villages with the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Museum compound. The project would also have backup support.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, said the Punjab government was committed to using the solar photovoltic technology which was environment-friendly for meeting small-scale power requirements. The government had already declared the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh as the first solar village of the state.

Punjab Science and Technology Minister Chiranji Lal Garg said the state government was encouraging the use of solar power technology through the Punjab Energy Development Authority (PEDA, which had launched a massive solar photovoltic demonstration programme supported by the ministry and had installed two 50 kw solar power stations in the state.

He said the PEDA had decided to install solar water pumping systems in the state during the current year and had already provided 500 such pumps to farmers.

Mr Ajit Gupta, Adviser to the ministry, said the Government of India was financially supporting solar photovoltic grid interactive power stations under a special programme to supplement and augment grid power.

Mr Rajan Kashyap Chairman of the PEDA, said the SPV plants were very effective in meeting the peak-load demand, mostly during the day as well as mitigating the problem of line drops. Solar photovoltics was the only technology which could produce adequate amount of power in a cost-effective and environment-friendly manner.

Sangrur: The Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev was observed by the Rikshachalak-Malik Union here which organised a function at the main bus stand. The function was presided over by Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development.

Paying tributes to the martyrs, Mr Balian urged the gathering to take a pledge to follow the path shown by the martyrs for the welfare of the country.

Mr Balian announced Rs 35,000 for the union. He also said work at the martyrs’ memorial at the bus stand here would be completed with the help of the local Municipal Council.

Among those who paid tributes to the martyrs were Comrade Jagdish Rai, freedom fighter, Giani Narinder Singh, DPRO, Mr Hans Raj, president of the local Rikshachalak Malik Union, Mr Rajinder Kumar, president of the Rikshachalak Union, Punjab and Mr Kehar Singh, president of the Rikshaw Union, Barnala.


SGPC to buy TV channel for Gurbani
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The joint meeting of SGPC executive and Sikh High Priests held at Anandpur Sahib yesterday having failed to resolve the issue of ‘maryada’ due to continuous absence of Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple from the meetings of Akal Takht, the matter may get complicated in the coming days.

According to sources, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi was virtually shaken during the joint meeting due to the stand taken by warring High Priests, Earlier, Mr Talwandi had assured that the matter would be resolved during the joint meeting, but in vain.

Sikh circles feel that the SGPC has to take a drastic step as the deadlock may continue for some more time. Mr Talwandi had reportedly conveyed his displeasure to the executive members belonging to the ruling party, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and SAD (Amritsar) and even the High Priests who were present at the meeting for having failed to help him (Mr Talwandi) in resolving the issue of ‘maryada’.

Meanwhile, the SGPC executive has decided to buy a channel to transmit ‘Gurbani’ exclusively as the previous agreements with different channels could not come up to the expectations of the Sikh masses. The SGPC stated that the private channels inserted ‘objectionable’ advertisements in between the transmission of ‘Gurbani’.

The SGPC executive has also decided to distribute Guru Granth Sahib free of cost.


Wings of SGPC Secretary clipped?
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The wings of Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, have reportedly been clipped by the SGPC.

According to reliable sources, the SGPC executive, which met at Anandpur Sahib yesterday, decided to give the powers of Secretary to Mr Harbeant Singh, Additional Secretary, in the wake of the increase in the workload of the SGPC. Mr Harbeant Singh, who was present at the executive meeting today, confirmed that he had been asked to handle work earlier being looked after by Dr Bachan.

Insiders say the decision to transfer the powers of Secretary from Dr Bachan to Mr Harbeant Singh was taken unanimously by the executive. Mr Harbeant Singh said formal orders were likely to be released shortly. However, Dr Bachan denied that the SGPC had taken the decision to “clip his wings.”

The Guru Nanak Dev University Syndicate and Senate has decided to appoint Dr Bachan as Head, Guru Gobind Singh Chair. He is expected to join the new assignment shortly. Dr Bachan, who was with the university as NSS Coordinator, has been on deputation with the SGPC.


Opinion divided on akhand path issue
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Even as the Punjab Government has issued strict instructions not to hold any religious function in government offices, opinion is divided among members of the ruling party and religious leaders against the directive. While some local leaders find nothing objectionable in holding akhand paths and kirtans in government offices, there are others who say such acts should not be permitted.

An akhand path was recently held at the office of the Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana. Officials say this is an annual feature, but several eyebrows have been raised over the incident.

Moreover, the issue assumes significance in view of the Akal Takht hukamnama, prohibiting taking out of the Guru Granth Sahib from gurdwaras, even for wedding ceremonies, which made it mandatory that Sikh marriages be solemnised in the gurdwaras only. Besides, much furore was caused when the RSS decided to bring the Guru Granth Sahib to temples for celebrating the Gurpurab.

Senior Vice-President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Avatar Singh Makkar says, “Such directives are unwarranted and rules must be changed to let people hold religious functions anywhere they want”. However, he adds that it must be ensured that there was no disrespect of the holy book. He has no objections to taking the holy book to government offices, but he is against holding such religious functions in hotels or other similar places.

Not everyone agrees with Mr Makkar. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, General Secretary Nahar Singh Gill says, “The government is confusing the people by holding double standards on its own directives”. He says the government should have set same rules for everyone. “No one should be allowed to hold such functions at public places. Such functions should only be held either at home or in gurdwaras where people can be invited to participate”, he observes.

A former Akal Takht Jathedar, Prof Darshan Singh Ragi, when asked if holding of such functions in government offices amounted to sacrilege, said, “I would not like to generalise, but would prefer to study each case individually”.

Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who is also a member of the ruling alliance, says no one should have any objection if someone organises such religious functions. He disclosed that the path at the Civil Surgeon’s office had been organised by the employees union, but, refused to make any comment when asked if this amounted to any violation of the Akal Takht directive.


Akal Takht not to meddle in Budha Dal affairs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 23
The Akal Takht Jathedar has no intention of intervening in the internal matters of Nihang factions.

A press note issued by Mr Prithipal Singh, personal assistant to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has clarified that a decision on the chief of the Budha Dal or any other faction of the Nihangs is their “internal matter”. Hence, Akal Takht has always accorded recognition to chiefs of Nihangs selected or elected as per the Sikh tradition or ‘maryada’.

Earlier, Jathedar Vedanti had stated that Baba Santa Singh would continue to lead the Budha Dal after his re-admission into the Sikh Panth. However, in a volte face, he reportedly said yesterday that Baba Balbir Singh chief of the rival faction of the Budha Dal, would remain the chief.


False medical certificate: SMO denies charge
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 23
Senior Medical Officer and in charge of the Civil Hospital, Dr Pritam Singh Sauna, refuted the allegations of issuance of false medical certificate in order to prevent a person booked in a case of fraud from being interrogated in police remand.

Denying the charges levelled against him, he said the facts had been twisted to malign his image. Narrating the sequence of events, he said at the time when Narinder Bajaj was brought to the Civil Hospital by the police as per the direction of the court, Dr Mahesh Markan, who was on emergency duty, attended to him. Dr Markan examined the patient and advised an X-ray and an opinion of a surgical specialist. He, however, did not issue any MLR. 

Later, the police took the patient to court where his counsel demanded medical re-examination and opinion of a specialist. The court ordered a re-examination and the patient was again brought to the Civil Hospital where Dr S.P. Kataria called Dr Sauna as the orthopaedic surgeon had gone to the PGI at Chandigarh. Dr Sauna examined the patient and found that there was swelling around the ankle joint with no external injury marks on the rest of the body. He said the X-ray of the left foot was done by Dr Hardit Jyoti, a radiologist, and it revealed a fracture. After examining the X-ray report, Narinder Bajaj was admitted to the trauma ward. 

He was again taken to the court of the CJM the next day where the CJM, on the request of the complainant, Mr Gulati, again ordered the re-examination of the patient by a board of doctors at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot. He was sent to Faridkot where the doctors said there was swelling around the left ankle and he was unable to bear any weight on the left heel. They suggested that he should be sent to the PGI to rule out any doubt of a fracture.

Dr Sauna clarified that he had issued no medical certificate to the patient. 


‘Riza’ rediscovered Ghalib
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
The death of Kalidas Gupta ‘Riza’ has come as a shock to lovers of Urdu and admirers of Ghalib. Riza died following a heart attack hours before he was scheduled to receive the Padmashree from President K.R. Narayanan in New Delhi yesterday.

Riza had rediscovered Ghalib, exploring various facets of his personality — as a poet, a human being, a husband, a friend and a father who had lost all seven children. His biography of Ghalib, “Ghalib Darune Khaana” was well received by critics as it exploded various myths that had been created about Ghalib. However, he achieved fame with his critique “Dewane Gahlib Kamil”, in which he had incorporated over 2,000 unpublished couplets of Ghalib.

Born in a prosperous traditional bania family of Jalandhar on August 25, 1925, Riza was sent to England to study law. He had a thorough knowledge of finances as his father was a well known financier of his time. He left the bar as he was awarded the chief agency of the England Insurance Company for East Africa. “It was a lucrative proposition as the business did quite well”, Riza told The Tribune in an interview about a fortnight before his death. It was his last interview after receiving Shiromani Sahityakar Puraskar for Urdu from the Punjab Government.

However, the writer in Riza could not be subdued by financial concerns. He did not give up his pursuit for Urdu. He wrote 62 books — 22 on Ghalib. He has 14 poetry collections of his own, five critical books on Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast, four on Josh Malsiani and one on Firaq Gorakhpuri. He returned to India and settled down in Mumbai.

Riza was a versatile genius. He studied law from Lincolon’s Inn London. He also had a deep interest in medicine. He learned music for 12 years and practiced homoeopathy. He was also fond of sports. He studied at the London Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Society of Arts. He studied Persian and Urdu at Cambridge.

Earlier there used to be two schools of Urdu — the Lucknow and the Delhi school, but with him, there emerged another school as Bombay School given the level of activities and work on Urdu scholarship in Mumbai after Riza settled there.

The other awards he received include Ghalib Award, Bahadur Shah Zafar Award, Maharashtra State Award, Duha Qattar International Award, European Urdu Society Award and Agra Bazme Maikasha Award.

Notwithstanding the prevailing cynicism about Urdu Riza was optimistic about its future in India. He observed that a synthesis was evolving with Urdu and Hindi combining together to provide a new language. Moreover, he was of a strong belief, that Urdu will survive in India as India was its birthplace.

Riza will always be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the language. He left many tasks unfinished. Kismat ki khubi dekhye ki tooti kahan kamand, jabki do char hath lab-i-bham reh gaya. 


Chief Secretary pays Rs 25,000 as fine
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 23
A representative of the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, today deposited a demand draft for Rs 25,000 in the municipal council, Samrala, as compensation as per the orders of the Supreme Court. The draft was delivered to the President of the council, Mr Bhajan Singh.

The judgement was delivered last month holding the Chief Secretary guilty of not issuing a notification regarding the election of Mr Bhajan Singh as President of the council. He had been unanimously elected in 1998. 


Rs 1 lakh grant for village 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 23
Though Dakala has the distinction of being represented by a minister in almost every government so far, it is the most underdeveloped Assembly segment of Punjab. Spread over more than 225 villages and Sanour township, there are just 12 high schools and 7 senior secondary schools.

A few dozen primary schools are closed for want of teachers and more primary school buildings are in the bad shape. The primary health care and rate of government employment is also insignificant. There is no industry in the area. This is the result of continuous neglect of the area by its elected representatives (MLA’s) who always happened to be outsiders. Both the main political parties, SAD and Congress, always forced outsider candidates on the people of this constituency.

The people of Dakala area are solidly behind Mr Parkash Singh Badal, but there is great resentment on this issue, as stated by Mr Harvinderpal Singh, sarpanch, Naina while addressing a big gathering at the newly-built Gurdwara Sahib Harinagar Kherki on the occasion of Parkash Samaroh of Guru Granth Sahib. He appealed to SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to take a lead in future in nominating someone from the area.

He announced the construction of the link road to Dera Bazigar and Rs 50,000 for Dharamshala village. Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, MLA, Sunam, thanked the SAD workers of the area for actively campaigning for him.

Mr Dhindsa announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for development works in the village. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, also addressed the gathering. More than 100 panchayat members of the area were honoured with siropas. Dr S.S. Malhi, joint director, welcomed the guests and Mr G.S. Punia thanked those present on the occasion.


Dharna against shifting of hospital
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 23
Activists of various political parties and social organisations today organised a dharna in protest against the process of shifting the general and children hospital, located in the heart of the city, to the Civil Hospital.

The activists of the CPI, CPM, Congress, BSP, Beopar Mandal, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Insaaf International, Chemist Union, Automobile Union, and municipal councillors participated in the dharna.

Although voluntary and social organisations had conveyed the public opinion regarding the decision to shift the hospital to the authorities concerned, nothing has come of it. Mr Jagroop Singh, former president of the municipal council, addressing the rally said the BJP-SAD alliance was working against the wishes of people. He said residents and patients of various localities would have to face problems if the hospital was shifted from its present location.

He alleged that the Punjab Government had given directions to the authorities to sell the property of the municipal council.


Lawyers seek chambers
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 23
Mr Justice R.L. Anand yesterday held a meeting with the Bar Association here and was in agreement with all demands of the association.

The major demand of lawyers was to construct chambers for them in the New Judicial complex. Mr Justice Anand said the high court was making all efforts to get their chambers constructed by the state government. However, he advised the Bar members not to forestall the inauguration of the judicial complex before construction of their chambers.


Arrangements made to procure wheat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 23
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Punjab Minister for food and Supplies, today said all arrangements had been made for the procurement of wheat which would start from April 1.

While talking to mediapersons, Mr Mittal said 1625 purchasing centres had been established throughout the state for the purpose.

He assured that there won’t be any shortage of gunny bags as about 75 per cent of the total stock of gunny bags had already reached in the mandis and the remaining would be sent in the first week of April.

He added that if any complaint regarding the non-procurement of wheat due to the unavailability of gunny bags reached the head office, it would be immediately dealt with.

He said although the experts had said the production of wheat was expected to be 5 per cent less than the previous year, but the department was expecting that the procurement of wheat would increase this year as market price and minimum support price were the same.

Mr Mittal said about 1.2 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was expected to reach mandis of the state. He said the storage capacity in the state had also been increased.

He said about 60 lakh metric tonnes’ storage capacity had been added to the existing capacity in the state.

The minister said for the purchase of wheat, about Rs 5,500 crore would be needed, for which the state government had held talks with the Reserve Bank of India.

The minister said at present, there was no proposal for dismantling the Food Corporation of India (FCI). He said the agency would procure wheat in the state.

Mr Mittal said the FCI would purchase 33 per cent of total produce while the Markfed had been asked to procure 20 per cent of the produce. 


Punjab to spend 172 cr on welfare
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 23
The Punjab Government will spend Rs 172 crore under different welfare schemes for the Schedule Castes and other weaker sections of society during the next financial year in the state.

A major part of the amount will be utilised to provide houses and stipends to the needy.

To make the housing scheme effective the government will construct houses and acquire the shamlat land lying with the gram panchayats in this respect. Moreover, if the land required will be more it will be purchased by the government.

This was stated by Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Minister for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes at a press conference here yesterday. He stated that the earlier scheme of allocating a fund of Rs 15,000 to 25,000 for constructing houses was not successful.

He stated that those who want to apply should send their applications either to the Deputy Commissioner or to District Social Welfare Officers in their respective districts.


Rs 5.98 cr approved for development
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 23
The Sangrur District Planning and Development Board at its meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Punjab Food and Supply Minister-cum-Chairman of the board, here yesterday, approved the spending of Rs 5.98 crore on development works in the district.

The meeting also reviewed the released amount of Rs 12.94 crore.

Mr Mittal also directed heads of different departments, who had so far not submitted utilisation certificates, to submit the same to the office of the Deputy Commissioner soon.

Among others who attended the meeting included Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian and Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, all Punjab ministers.


3 booked on cheating charge
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, March 23
Even as the dust raised by the incident of brother marrying his real sister in this region in order to go abroad is yet to settle down, another case in which father, his daughter and son-in-law connived and prepared plans to go to Canada by concealing the status of the daughter came to light here today.

The father, Mr Hardyal Singh, his daughter Mrs Harjasvir Kaur and her husband Gaganpreet Singh, all residents of this sub-division, tried to send Harjasvir Kaur to Canada by showing her status as unmarried. After sending Harjasvir Kaur to Canada, they were also planning to go there through her.

To execute their plan, first the accused showed Harjasvir Kaur unmarried and then made her contact another person Ajmer Singh (Name changed), a resident of Canada for the mission.

Harjasvir Kaur, who was well known to Ajmer Singh started corresponding with him through letters in Canada and started taking guidance from him to get entry into that country. Ajmer Singh told her the means and ways to get entry into Canada.

The correspondence between the two which has been going on for a long time came to the notice of kin of Ajmer Singh and a woman, KD, who is a close kin of Hardyal Singh made a complaint in this connection to the district police chief, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain.

She alleged in her complaint that Harjasvir Kaur had applied for Canadian visa on the basis that she (Harjasvir Kaur) was unmarried. She added that Harjasvir Kaur, her father Hardyal Singh and husband Ganganpreet Singh had also managed to the same facts verified from the police when the Canadian Embassy inquired about it. She added that all fake documents to get visa for Harjasvir Kaur was prepared in this town.

Police sources said the investigations done so far showed that Harjasvir Kaur, who was married tried to go abroad by making fake documents and cheating the Canadian Embassy.

A case in this connection had been registered against Harjasvir Kaur, Gaganpreet Singh and Hardyal Singh under Sections 420, 468, 120-B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the local police station.

Earlier, the police had also registered a case of cheating against Rajinder Singh, a resident of Mehraj Basti of this town, allegedly for marrying his real sister, a resident of Canada to go there.


BJP activists booked
Our Correspondent

Samana, March 23
As many as nine persons, including Punjab BJP secretary Dr Lachhman Dass Sewak, have been booked in a criminal case for allegedly attempting to beat up Mr Tarsem Lal Sharma, Executive Officer of the local Nagar Council, yesterday in the office of the council.

Police sources said a case under Sections 452, 323, 332, 148, and 149, IPC, was registered against them on a complaint of Mr Sharma who has been undergoing treatment at the local Civil Hospital.

The case was registered against Sham Lal Garg, Des Raj Sharma, Rattan Lal, Amrit Lal, Anil Kumar, Ramsharan, Vijay Singla and Chaman Lal all BJP activists.

Mr Ashwani Kumar DSP said a case was also registered against those persons who had allegedly thrown rubbish and dead pigs in front of the house of Mr Sham Lal Garg, president of the party, Samana unit.

Meanwhile employees of the local council, including safai karamchari, have gone on indefinite strike and held a dharna. They also took out a procession against the “high-handedness” of the culprits and demanded their arrest.


KCF (Zaffarwal) activist held
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 23
The police today arrested a KCF (Zaffarwal) activist Sarwan Singh, a resident of Aulakh, who had been evading arrest since October 1990, for his involvement in a terrorist case.

According to Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, a case under various Sections of the IPC, Arms Act and TDA (P) Act had been registered against the accused at police station, Kahnuwan, on October 1, 1990. He was declared proclaimed offender in 1996.

The SSP said the other accomplices of the accused, including Banarsi Dass of Kot Dhanaula, Partap Singh and Dalwinder Singh, both residents of Harchowal, Lakhwinder Singh of Udhoke, all KCF activists, had been arrested.

The SSP said the accused in connivance with guards of Mohan Singh of Vadhai attacked his residence and killed his wife Sawinder Kaur and son Puran Singh. The guards had been arrested and dismissed from service, he added.


Primary education in tatters: survey
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 23
Girls are ahead of boys at the primary level in government schools in the Patiala block, according to a recent survey. However, the results are nothing to gloat about. Tests in mathematics and Punjabi by the project committee have revealed that only two per cent of the boys and four per cent of the girls obtained pass marks in mathematics and only 12 per cent of boys and 14 per cent of girls could muster 33 per cent marks in Punjabi.

The committee, which includes eminent academicians led by a former PGI Director, Dr J.S. Neki, surveyed the Patiala three primary education block to arrive at these conclusions.

According to Dr T.R. Sharma, Chairman of the Punjab Elementary Education Project launched by the Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi, children of primary schools in the block were largely ignorant of mathematics.

He said the survey had revealed that children of even Class V could not answer elementary questions on mathematics. He said an interaction with students had revealed that teachers at the primary level basically concentrated on the teaching of Punjabi. Besides this, the survey revealed that as many as 94 per cent of the schools did not have any teaching aids due to which the teachers could not explain simple mathematic concepts to the children.

However, understanding of the Punjabi language though slightly better was also not up to the mark with only around 10 to 12 per cent of the children passing a simple Punjabi test. This the survey noted was due to the manner of teaching of the language, which was mainly in oral form. Proficiency in other subjects was no better.

Dr Sharma said the survey had revealed that inadequate infrastructure, shortage of staff, extra non-academic duties imposed on the staff and absence of guidance were responsible for the poor educational standard of the children. He said a discussion with parents and sarpanches revealed that parents were seldom approached either for consultation or for help in school matters. Most parents were dissatisfied with the working of the schools. The Parent Teacher Association was either non-functional or non-existent.

He said another problem which had surfaced during the course of the survey was the large number of schools with only two teachers. He said out of the 63 schools surveyed as many as 31 schools had only two teachers with a few having only one teacher. He said the council had stepped in to correct the balance by appointing 20 teachers in schools which were under staffed. He said the teachers, who had been working in the various schools since December last year, were being paid by the council.

Dr Sharma said besides this the council had also constructed one class room along with attached verandahs and two toilets at Ablowal Jhungian school. He said besides this the council had provided financial help of Rs 15,000 to needed students and was in the process of vitalising parent teacher association besides holding training courses for teachers.

The project chairman said the council had made a plan to construct 27 class rooms with attached verandas at a cost of Rs 27 lakh, 22 toilets at a cost of Rs 15,000 each, provide volunteer teachers to 50 schools, conduct orientation courses to 220 serving teachers in groups, besides introducing school projects.


Students hit it off with cyber cafes

Place: Posh 22 No Phatak in Patiala. Time: Afternoon. Loud aggressive music. Several glowing computer monitors. Keyboards worn smooth by thousands of twitching fingers. For Vikram, a university student, and hundreds of other computer-Savvy Patialavi’s like him, it’s another afternoon out at the cities numerous cyber cafes cruising on the integrated circuits.

Vikram and others of his ilk are increasingly clicking on to the world of cyber romance. Love birds have started singing in the numerous cyber cafes dotting the city, where droves and droves of teenaged students are cruising the boulevards of a virtually non-existent world for companionship.

A survey revealed that 90 per cent of the cyber cafes in the city are much like hot tubs full of strangers, where cyber-romantic freaks seem to be grouping under the bubbles as they soak it with small provocative talk. There is no concrete proof of virtual affairs’ translating themselves into real affairs.

Confides a cyber cafe owner, “In today’s world of competition, where workload transforms itself into stress and everybody prowls tirelessly for that better deal, few get time to pursue the real romance. It’s easier just making out on the Net.”

Somewhat similar views are echoed by another cafe owner.’ On any given day, countless teenagers of the city engage in intimate conversations, chatting endlessly. Students, particularly in professional colleges, make a beeline to cyber cafes once their classes are over. The number of such sites has trebled over the last one year and the number of youngsters has increased manifold”, he says.

Admits Anjali, a freak who regularly chats with her boyfriend in Australia,” I have seen bleary-eyed youngsters chatting for three to four hours. And there are the extreme cases who overdose for nearly eight hours’. Anjali, chats throughout the wee hours of the morning, because of the time difference between India and Australia.

A lot of people are trying to figure out why this phenomenon has become so compelling an addiction. Says a college computer lecturer,” The main reason in that deep, anxious, ancient urge to mate. Romance seems to spread like jimson weed in the vast, virtual plains of cyberspace, that intangible either between one computer and another.”

Shailja (name changed) aged 18 years a Patiala-based professional college student, sits at her laptop in her hostal room and makes contact with her cyber boyfriend Amandeep Singh, a sophomore in New Delhi. Says Shailja, “nearly all my friends and seniors are into this. Some have friends in USA, others in Europe. Because we don’t have time in the day, we freak out during the nights”. Reason enough for bleary-eyed students reaching late for classes and sometimes even bunking them.  
Ravi Dhaliwal


Paper cancelled
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 23
The Punjab School Education Board has cancelled the social science paper held at Government Senior Secondary School, Pati (Block 2), Baba Sheikh Farid Senior Secondary School, Sherpur-2 , Sangrur, and Government Senior Secondary School, Valtoha. The examination centre at Sherpur has been changed to Sahibzada Fateh Singh Senior Secondary School, Malerkotla (Sangrur).

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