Sunday, April 15, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pak agencies ‘recruiting’ elderly women
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 14
After the arrest of a sizeable number of male “savaris” (carriers of contraband) in the recent past, elderly women have become targets for such operations between India and Pakistan. This came to light after two such women were arrested at Attari railway station on April 12 for carrying forged travel documents.

The lure of money and the fact that women are less suspected, has made them prime recruits for these operations. This was the second such incident after three months in which older women carriers were found possessing fake travel documents.

The carrying of commercial goods by these persons is of secondary concern to the Indian security agencies. What has alarmed them is that these women are easy targets for Pakistan’s ISI and Field Intelligence Unit for espionage activities. This can be substantiated from the fact that these women used fake travel documents for entry into Pakistan.

A top intelligence official, on condition of anonymity, said the recent arrests had revealed that these women, in the age group of 50 to 60, took the help of expert counterfeiters to tamper with their passports as visit to Pakistan was restricted to once a year. Pages marked “refused” or “verification awaited” were cleverly changed from another passport that was unused. These pages were incorporated with their passports. Also, the page with “overstay” remarks was replaced with a fresh copy that had no remarks.

Those arrested have been identified as Mahira Begum (55) of Selampur, Delhi, and Samira of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of these recruits are first scrutinised. They have to be needy, “relatively free from family duties” and confident of carrying out the operation. Later, they are used for spying and other related activities. These women have a history of family disputes and are widows or divorcees with no steady income. The false travel documents were detected by an equipment with UV rays used for document verification at Attari.

The goods carried by them are mostly beauty-related products, in addition to “paan”, “supari”, bangles, contact lenses, medicines etc from India. They bring back footwear, linen, Chinese silk etc and for each visit they are paid up to Rs 2,000, besides commission from their contacts on both sides.

An immigration official said more than 20 carriers had been working for the Pakistani intelligence agencies and using elderly women as an alibi. About 15 days ago, a passenger was arrested for carrying fake currency worth Rs 60,800 in a Rajasthani turban. He was accompanied by his “mother” to avoid suspicion.

The women who were arrested have been booked by the general railway police under Sections 420, 468 and 471, IPC. Both were remanded in judicial custody for 15 days by the Duty Magistrate, Amritsar, yesterday.

meanwhile, four others were arrested for carrying fake currency worth Rs 1,500 each on Thursday. Three of them were Pakistani nationals. They are Wazir Ali, Abdul Baghir and Moin-ul-al Khan, all of Karachi, and Mohammad Rehmat of Kolkata. They were also remanded for 15 days in judicial custody yesterday.


Santa Singh, Baisakhi come together after 17 years
Chander Parkash and Jaswinder Paul Singh

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
History repeated itself here after 17 years when Baba Santa Singh, head 96 Crori Budha Dal Nihang sect, led the processions taken out on the concluding day of the three-day annual Baisakhi mela.

Baba Santa Singh, who was excommunicated in 1984 from the Sikh Panth for the reconstruction of Akal Takht, which was damaged due to intensive shelling by the Army in Operation Bluestar, was readmitted into the Sikh Panth again after he completed his “tankha” (religious punishment) awarded to him by Akal Takht, could not participate in the “mohalla” here for about 17 years.

On the concluding day of Baisakhi mela, it is a tradition that Nihangs play “gatka” and show their horsemanship to mark the end of the festival.

This year the “moholla”, led by Baba Santa Singh, started from Ber Sahib located near the Chhauni (cantonment) of Nihangs at about 3.30 p.m.

Young and old Nihangs, who assembled here in thousands and donned their traditional blue and saffron dresses, played “gatka” (martial art) and demonstrated their horsemanship.

This is for the first time that there was no danger of a clash between the followers of Baba Santa Singh and Baba Balbir Singh, who also claimed himself to be chief of Budha Dal.

Baba Balbir Singh, who was a disciple of Baba Santa Singh, parted ways over some issue and started claiming himself to be the chief of Budha Dal. He also got the patronage of the Punjab Government in the previous years. However, Akal Takht had recognised Baba Santa Singh as the real head of the Budha Dal in the recent past.

After Ber Sahib, the “moholla” went to Jandsar Gurdwara and then to Likhan Sar Gurdwara and then to Takht Damdama Sahib. It ended at Ber Sahib.

The district administration and the police authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of the devotees and to avoid any untoward incident.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, when contacted, said there was no report of any untoward incident from the mela.

The Civil Hospital authorities said during the three days of mela no case of food poisoning was reported.


More militants may follow Zaffarwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The reports of a top militant missing from his Pakistan hideout for sometime now notwithstanding, certain other activists of the Khalistan movement, who have been operating from outside India, may surface here soon.

These activists, who reportedly belong to Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan’s school of thought — of giving themselves up before the authorities for the old and pending cases before starting an above-the-ground movement for their goal — are believed to have been sending feelers to the security and intelligence agencies for the past some time now.

Sources reveal that some of these activists are actually here and have been closely monitoring the progress of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s case before making their next move.

One of them, a confidant of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who had remained imprisoned at Jodhpur Jail for more than three years before leaving the country via Pakistan for Europe from where he managed to reach the USA, the country of his present abode. The main charge against him was waging war against the nation.

Though he is not among the top-rung militants wanted by the security forces, he is considered important for his “surrender” or “arrest” may pave the way for others to follow suit.

His presence in the city and Punjab since the beginning of March has mostly remained unnoticed though he reportedly visited several important offices and buildings in the city, including the Civil Secretariat.

These activists, sources said, had been meeting the political leadership of the State to facilitate their “early rehabilitation” in the system as they decided to return to India on an assurance that they would not be “unnecesarily harassed or tortured by security forces” for their suspected involvement in cases pending against them.

Also reported present in the city has been a close relative of the England-based strong votary of Khalistan. Though he may not be on the wanted list but his presence here assumes tremendous significance in the wake of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s arrest and the subsequent developments which may unfold in the coming days.

A social function tomorrow may witness the presence of some of these activists there as they “want to rejoin the mainstream” by taking to legal recourse.


‘World of innocence’ at Zaffarwal house
Tribune News Service

Zaffarwal (Gurdaspur), April 14
Oblivious to the decade-long militancy in Punjab and their uncle Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s association with it, several children form a “world of innocence” at Zaffarwal’s ancestral house here they feel happy when they are told by their elders that their foreign-returned” uncle might join them shortly.

After crossing the wheat fields and entering the courtyard of Zaffarwal’s half-kutcha half-pucca house on the outskirts of the village, a visitor is likely to be greeted by an army of about a dozen children in age group of six to 10 years. The house has 12 children — three of Zaffarwal’s and nine of his three brothers, one of whom is working at a sugar mill while the two are truck drivers.

What the little ones could not hide was their innocence, their mischiefs and the belief that every visitor was a guest “with some good news”. The “visitors” have increased during the past week following the “arrest” of Zaffarwal in Amritsar. “Have you come to ask about our uncle? He is back,” says Zaffarwal’s five-year-old nephew Navjot, who was the first to greet this correspondent. Nonchalant about the identity of a stranger, he, along with his excited four-year-old sister, called the other members of the family to the courtyard. Three teenagers, including Zaffarwal’s 19 year-old daughter Aman and kids of his other brothers, were initially reluctant to come out. They came out only when Zaffarwal’s wife Darshan Kaur and his brother Sukhwinder Singh instructed them to do so. Once out, they said: “None of us has ever seen or talked to our father, though we had been yearning to meet him. we do not know what has been done by him, but we keep reading about him in newspapers, “said Aman, studying in the village school. Navjot came forward to share his achievement, I am in class I”.

As this correspondent conversed with the other family members, the children formed a cordon and kept interfering before they saw an elderly ice-cream vendor in the street and ran towards him shouting, “Oye ice-cream wale, saanu ice-cream de de. The friendly vendor, seemingly an old acquaintance, obliged them, even as they kept touching his bicycle and his ice-cream box. With ice-cream cones in their hands, the kids climbed on the rooftop before following The Tribune team with repeated requests that they should also be photographed as were the elders of the house. “Phir kadon aaoge, uncle?” was another question they kept asking.


CM criticised over Zaffarwal case
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 14
Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP from Ropar Lok Sabha constituency, has alleged that the Chief Minister actually wanted to win the coming Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections with the help of terrorists. He said it was visible from the way the Punjab Government had enacted a drama for the arrest of the Khalistan Commando Force chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal by the Majhitha police and the VIP treatment given to him after his arrest.

Mr Dullo was addressing a press conference here today in the presence of Mr Malkiet Singh Dakha (former Punjab minister) and a large number of local Congress workers.

He said earlier also SAD leaders had relations with many top terrorists, including Budh Singh Wala, Kauli and Sukhdev Singh Babbar.

He alleged that the intelligence agencies had failed to give information about Zaffarwal.

Mu Dullo alleged that the state government had won the Majitha byelection with the help of Zaffarwal.

He criticised Mr Badal for not passing any resolution in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha regarding the 25,000 persons, who lost their lives during the days of terrorism, as they have passed a resolution about the 1984 riots and Operation Bluestar.


Kanshi Ram wants power for Dalits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 14
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mr Kanshi Ram, and the Secretary General, Ms Mayawati, exhorted the Dalits to unite and get the “master key” of power so that their lot could be improved. They were addressing a party rally here to mark the 110th birth anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

The BSP leaders said; although Baba Saheb had given the best Constitution but the successive regimes at the Centre and the state never wanted to uplift the Dalits, because they are governed by the “manuvadi” (status quoist) mindset.

Exhorting the Dalits to unite, he said, they had got a golden chance to come to power as elections were not far away. He assured them that he would take the struggle launched by Dr Ambedkar to its logical conclusion.

Ms Mayawati said, although Dr Ambedkar had ensured a respectable place for the Dalits in the Constitution yet it was not given to them by the successive rulers. “Power is the maserkey for getting our due,” she added.

The BSP secretary general said the party would go it alone in Punjab and ensure that it comes to power.

Earlier Mr Kanshi Ram, Ms Mayawati and the state party leaders paid floral tributes to Dr Ambedkar. Others present on the occasion included the state vice-president of the party, Dr D.P. Khosla, the Secretary, Mr Gurdial Singh, and other senior leaders.

JALANDHAR: Almost all major political parties except the SAD (Badal) and the BJP organised rallies and conferences on the occasion of the anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar here today.

The BSP organised a massive rally at the Ambedkar Chowk. The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) held the Scheduled Caste and Backward Class employees awareness conference at the local Red Cross Bhavan while the Congress leaders paid tributes to the Dalit leader by garlanding his statue at the Nakodar Chowk.

The Bahujan Samaj Morcha Chief and former MP from Phillaur, while addressing the party workers and employees at the conference said. “One should not sell his right of vote for a liquor bottle or for money since it will revoke their upliftment for years and the coming generation will not forgive them for favouring a wrong candidate in the elections”.

He said the BSP had got detracted from the path shown by Dr Ambedkar and had become a party of leaders. “The BSP, which claims to be champion of the Dalits has failed to safeguard the interests of the community since it had joined hands with communal parties and are against the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society, in the past,” he added.

The Congress leaders, including the Vice-President of the Punjab Congress, Mr Avtar Henry, the CLP leader, Mr Jagjit Singh, the President of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Davinder Singh Babbo and the General Secretary of the Punjab Congress, Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, former minister and hundreds of workers participated in a function.

Meanwhile, Dr Ambedkar Mission Society, Punjab, organised a colourful procession which started from Ambedkar Bhavan and moved through the Nakodar Chowk, Jyoti Chowk, PNB Chowk, Namdev Chowk, Circuit House, Guru Nanak Mission Chowk. Hundreds of followers of Taba Sahib and school kids participated in the function.


BSP’s moratorium on electoral tie-ups
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Kanshi Ram today announced that his party would not indulge in any electoral tie-up with any other political party in the country for the coming four years.

Addressing a largely attended gathering in the ground on the Rajpura road here to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar, Mr Kanshi Ram said he had announced this moratorium on the party as it had been observed that the party did not gain from any electoral tie-up in the recent past and that there was a neccessity to go it alone in future elections to consolidate the Dalit vote.

The BSP supremo said the past had shown that whenever the BSP entered into any electoral alliance with another political party, its votes were transferred to the other party, but the votes of the other party were not transferred to BSP candidates. This decision was being taken in party interest and that the party would single-handedly contest all the 117 seats in the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Assembly.


Maharaja’s kin feel ignored
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
They do not have any royal airs. They do not want anything from the Punjab Government. However, there exists a feeling of hurt and anguish among the descendants of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at ‘not being recognised’ on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of the last sovereign king, launched recently from this city itself yesterday.

For the descendants of the late Maharaja, it was an impromptu reunion as they had collected at the bhog ceremony of a family elder at the Academy of the Sikh Religion here. The opportunity was also used to take stock of the situation following the launch of the bicentenary celebrations and to take steps to complete the family tree.

“It is our endeavour to complete the family tree as people of Punjab have been led to believe that Maharaja Ranjit Singh did not leave any descendants,” said Air Cdre Kanwar Dalinderjit Singh while talking to The Tribune. He said even a noted historian like Khushwant Singh had propounded this view. Today’s occasion was used by family members to make the detailed family tree and fill in linkages which were not clear. Other family members, Kanwar Harinderjit Singh and Col Kanwar Iqbaljit Singh were also of the same view.

The family members are disappointed that the entire clan of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is not being recognised by the Punjab Government. “On an occasion like the bicentenary at least we should be recognised as descendants of the late Maharaja,” said Col Kanwar Jagmohan Singh, a serving Army officer posted at Ambala. He said the family members felt that this should have been done before launching the bicentenary celebrations.

The same point was corroborated by others, who said it was unfortunate that the government had not ensured their participation at the inaugural function organised to launch the bicentenary celebrations on the Punjabi University campus yesterday. “It is surprising that the government did not include us in the inaugural function despite the fact that some family members had evinced interest in being associated with it,” said another family member.

Lt Col (retd) Kanwar Karanvir Singh, a resident of Zirakpur, said he would have liked to speak at the inaugural seminar. He said the family members were interested that people should know the details as to what had happened to the family after the death of the late Maharaja and the disintegration of the Sikh state. He said there were many facets of the Maharaja and the Sikh state which the descendants could throw light upon.

The former Lt Colonel and others said they would also like to be directly associated with the bicentenary function. ‘’We do not want to hijack the function as we understand that the Punjab Government is organising it and it is not a personal affair,’’ said Air Cdre Kanwar Dalinderjit. He, however, said the government could recognise the entire family of the late king and they could be given recognition cards. Their help could also be taken for various functions to be organised in memory of the late Maharaja.

The legacy of the late King is representative of the Sikh diaspora with one branch having shifted to the Terai region in Uttar Pradesh and another being concentrated in Amritsar district. Some family members are presently living in Patiala and Delhi. For all of them, the bicentenary is an occasion to rediscover their roots and correspond with other members of the family tree. “The bicentenary had brought us together and we want to take benefit of it to make the world know more of the late king and his family members,” said Col Kanwar Jagmohan. He said a promise in this regard by the Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, Kirpal Singh Badungar, who attended the bhog ceremony of late Lt Col Kanwar Jagwant Singh, was a welcome step.


Istri dal to strive for Indo-Pak amity
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 14
Dr Shawinder Kaur Johl, President of the recently reorganised Istri Shiromani Akali Dal (ISAD), has said that her party would work towards bringing peace and harmony between India and Pakistan.

The ISAD, has held a political rally in Talwandi Sabo on April 12, during which a resolution was passed to reorganise the party and to elect Dr Johl as its president and Ms Harjeet Kaur as general secretary, who is the daughter of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President of the SGPC.

Dr Johl, while talking to The Tribune here today, said that a resolution was passed during the rally to work for peace and harmony. She said that the members of his party would visit the militancy-affected state of Jammu and Kashmir to meet the wives and other female members of the militants’ families to ask them to pursuade their male members to join the mainstream.

The Dal was in constant contact with the government so that its members could go to Pakistan for finding some solution to the tension between the two countries.

Dr Johl welcomed the “homecoming” of dreaded militant Wasan Singh Zaffarwal and said that others should also follow suit. She said that the government should treat such cases sympathetically so that more militants could come to the mainstream.

Another resolution was passed at the rally to demand the release of the Sikhs who had been detained in the jails after Operation Bluestar in 1984. She said that if they were guilty they should be punished according to law, but if they had not committed any crime, they should be released immediately.

The state government should give 33 per cent reservation for women. Mr Badal, Chief Minister, had promised this while giving tickets for the assembly elections during his address on Women’s Day at Sherpur in Sangrur.


Badal announces sops for Dalits
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 14
In a significant development obviously aimed at garnering their support, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced several sops for the Dalits. These include providing plots and legalising the unauthorised houses constructed by the Dalits on the government land.

Addressing a state-level function to mark the birth anniversary of the Dalit leader, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the Chief Minister said all the roofless Dalits living in villages would be provided plots for the construction of houses. The plots would be provided from the panchayat land. However, in such villages where the panchayat did not possess any land, the government would purchase it for allotting the same to the Dalits.

He also announced that the Dalits who constructed houses on the government land and had no legal sanction would be allotted the same. The officials concerned would be directed to settle the price of the land and the owners given permanent ownership rights. The Chief Minister declared that he would ensure that there was no roofless Dalit living in Punjab and those living without proper accommodation would be provided land. He would issue orders and direct the officers to ensure that these orders are taken to their logical conclusion, Mr Badal added.

Mr Badal said Ambedkar Bhavans would be constructed at all district headquarters. These would serve as the centres for promotion, progress and development of the Dalits, besides providing them a forum to highlight their problems.

He said Dr Ambedkar was a great visionary. “It is not just the Dalits, but the entire nation who owes credit to him, the credit for giving us a Constitution that has satisfied everyone and also survived the test of the time”, Mr Badal pointed out. He said the best tribute to Dr Ambedkar would be to implement the agenda he had set for the country.

Paying rich tributes to Dr Ambedkar, the Chief Minister said that the unmatched contribution of Baba Saheb to ensuring the uplift of the Dalits would be remembered for ever and the whole country was indebted to him for making provisions for the growth of a harmonious society.

Referring to the demands made on this occasion by the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj and Dr Ambedkar Sangarsh Morcha, Mr Badal announced that the construction work of Ambedkar Bhavan here would be started within a month. He also announced that two new schools, one each for boys and girls would be set up to impart quality education to the children of the poor families.

Addressing the function, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, said that Baba Saheb was the far sighted son of the country, who ensured equal opportunities for the down trodden people in the constitution. He appreciated the social service being rendered by the leaders of the Bhartiya Dalit Dharam Samaj and Dr Ambedkar Sangarsh Morcha and assured that the state government would extend full attention to solve the problems of the Dalits.

Among others who paid their tributes to Dr Ambedkar include Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Minister, Mr Sat Pal Gosian, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sadhu Singh Ghudani, MLA, Mr Vijay Danav, Chairman, BVDS, Mr N.K. Dhingan, President Dr B. R. Ambedkar Sangarsh Morcha, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Vice President, SAD, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Mr Jagdev Singh Tajpuri, ex- Minister, and Mr Atik-ur-Rehman, President, Indian Muslim Council.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal today said that law would take its own course on the issue of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal who was arrested by Punjab Police recently. He denied the charge that the government was going soft on the issue or there was any deal struck with the dreaded militant.

Talking to reporters after addressing a function to mark the birth anniversary celebrations of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Mr Badal said, the police had not committed any laxity. “The moment the police came to know about his whereabouts he was arrested”, he claimed, while asking, “what else could be done?” He said, the case would be dealt strictly according to law without any favour to anyone.


Tiffin culture catching up
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, April 14
Four decades ago Bathinda was considered a backward area. But yesterday, with development in every social strata, trends are changing. The culture of ‘purdah’ has given way to the jean culture. The city of sand-dunes has become a city of thermal chimneys, lakes, industries and a large cantonment area full of greenery. Much more is on the anvil.

Gradually, Bathinda is adopting the culture of metros.

The emerging ‘tiffin culture’ is one pointer to the change. With a large number of students and professionals coming to the city for better education and coaching for competitive exams and for jobs, from the region, the tiffin system is welcome.

Students and professionals staying alone rarely like to prepare food by themselves. It costs them a couple of hours and is generally considered a big hassle.

Also, the oily and spicy food of hotels and dhabas, can’t be eaten daily.

Mr Joginder Pal claims to be the first person to start this business in the city. He decided on this option while doing his job as a peon.

He used to prepare his food at the canteen in the lunch time, where many people not only of his office but also from neighbouring offices requested him to prepare food for them also.

Mr Pal took premature retirement six months ago under the voluntary retirement scheme and started the business of supplying food to houses and offices.

He says, “We supply home-made food that is simple but tasty and healthy.” He himself supply the tiffins at customer’s doorstep.

As many as 40 students and professionals are his customers.

Food is supplied three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It comprises ‘paranthas’ with curd for breakfast, and seasonal vegetables, dals, salad, rice and chapatis for lunch and dinner.

On a specific day in the week, non-veg and sweet dishes are also given. On demand, something is also be prepared for the customer but on extra charges. The food is given at reasonable rates.

Vimal Rai, student of a local coaching centre says, “The tiffin system provides home-made delicious food. It is available at the doorstep.”

More people are adopting this business and earning well. A housewife whose home is near the shopping complex, serves food to 60 persons in lunch hours at her residence. She also supplies food in tiffins to different places.


Chhat Bir Zoological Park draws a lot 
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir (Patiala), April 14
The first of lucky draws that have recently been introduced by the Wild Life Society of Punjab to raise funds for Chhat Bir Zoological Park, was held on the zoo premises here today.

The scheme has been introduced to attract visitors and discourage the zoo staff from reselling tickets. Earlier, the staff allegedly used to recollect tickets from visitors to resell these, which resulted in huge revenue loss to the zoo.

Ms Gurbinder Kaur Chahal, Financial Commissioner of Forests, declared 13 visitors the winners in this first draw. Mr Gurmeet Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, was also present on the occasion.

Ms Chahal said four draws would be held every three months. The draw would be held on the second Saturday of every third month and would include tickets sold in that period.

She said the Wildlife Welfare Society had been formed in the state to promote the cause of wildlife conservation and education.

Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden (Zoos) of Punjab, said there was a proposal to develop more lawns and a better seating arrangement for visitors to the zoo.

He said, out of the 13 winners, three had been declared first, second and third, respectively, while the rest had been given consolation prizes.

A cooler was the first prize, a mixer-grinder the second prize and a folding-bed the third prize. The 10 consolation-prizes winners received a wall-clock each.

Dr Sharma urged visitors not to return their tickets to the zoo staff and preserve these for the lucky draws.


Punjabi Development Conference ends
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 14
Acamedician Surjit Hans has asserted that politicians in a democracy these days were protecting the rich while in the days of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh the interests of the common man were protected instead of the rich.

Dr Hans was quoting from a Persian book, “The Book of Politics During the Reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh”, at the concluding day of the 18th Punjabi Development Conference on Punjabi literature today.

While delivering the keynote address, Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, a Punjabi writer and member of Parliament, said Maharaja Ranjit Singh was secular not only in outlook but in practice too. In the first academic session prominent among those who presented their papars were Prof Piara Singh Padam, Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar, Dr Harmander Singh Bedi and Prof Kulwant Singh Grewal.

In the valedictory session held in the evening, Dr Dhanwant Kaur, Head of the Department of Punjabi Development, presented a report on the conference.


Train extended to Hardwar
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 14
The Jodhpur-Kalka Mail train (4887 Up) has been extended upto Hardwar.

According to reliable Railway Department sources here, the train leaving Jodhpur for Hardwar will pass through Barnala at about 1.20 a.m. with effect from today. The sources disclosed that the train would reach Hardwar at 9.20 a.m.

The train leaving Hardwar for Jodhpur would pass through Barnala at about 3.20 a.m.

With the extension of this route of the train, thousands of passengers on Jodhpur-Hardwar route would be benefited.


One killed, 9 injured in wall collapse
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 14
One person was killed and nine others were injured in a wall collapse mishap this afternoon at Rajgarh Road, Dhanaula, 12 km from here.

According to reliable sources, a new wall was being constructed by Jiwan Rice Mills. The incident took place while the newly constructed wall was being watered and 10 persons were buried under the debris.

The deceased has been identified as Kewal Singh, a resident of Dhanaula. Out of the nine injured three were sent to the Civil Hospital and the rest were treated at the Primary Health Centre, Dhanaula.


Manual harvesting dominates Punjab scene
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Intermittent showers and overcast conditions notwithstanding, harvesting of wheat, Punjab’s golden crop worth more than Rs 10,000 crore, has started picking up with the beginning of Baisakhi celebrations. The harvesting is at a more advanced stage in the Malwa belt than in the rest of the state.

A Tribune team, which undertook an extensive tour of Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Patiala, Sangrur , Bathinda and Muktsar districts, made an interesting observation that in the first phase manual harvesting has overtaken mechanical harvesting in this most mechanised agricultural state of the country.

There may be reasons for this unprecedented development. The most significant and apparent reason could be damage to the crop by a three-day spell of inclement weather in the first week of this month, which not only flattened the nearly ripe crop but also caused lodging in some areas. To salvage whatever they can from the flattened crop, the farmers have opted for, though costly and time-consuming, manual harvesting.

In and around Barnala, the harvesting operations are in full swing. Farmers are using both mechanical and manual means. Because of the intermittent showers yesterday and this morning, they are not taking chances.

Innovative, as they are, the farmers in this area are using tarpaulin covered tractor-trailers for loading freshly thrashed wheat grains. At places even the wheat husk was being cleared from the fields simultaneously.

In case of manual harvesting, the crop is quickly carried home or to a safer place for threshing. Another interesting development has been that in many areas, the manual harvesting is being undertaken by local farm workers in the absence of an acute shortage of migrant labour in the state.

Against Rs 600 to Rs 700 charged for mechanical harvesting of crop in an acre, the farmers have to dole out Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,300 an acre for manual harvesting and threshing of wheat. These charges exclude ration and other facilities extended to combine harvester operators or farm labour engaged in the operations.

In case of flattened crop, the rate of manual harvesting goes up by Rs 200 an acre.

Near Morinda, there were 12 Nepalese migrant labourers engaged in manual harvesting of flattened crop. “We will get Rs 1300 an acre. Our job will include threshing of wheat and storage of wheat husk,” says Mr Narinder Singh, Nambardar of the group. They say they can finish an acre a day.

This Nepalese group has been coming to Morinda for the wheat harvesting operations for the past several years. “There is more demand for manual harvesting this time because of the extensive damage to the crop by the rain accompanied by both dust storm and hailstorm early this month,” says Mr Narinder Singh maintaining that such crop can not be harvested by the use of mechanical means.

The other reason given by those engaged in manual harvesting is the soaring price of wheat husk. All those who run dairy farms and have some head of milch cattle, want to save wheat husk by opting for manual harvesting. In mechanical harvesting, they lose the husk. The yield otherwise has been very good.


A reason for farmers to smile
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, April 14
The farming community in the state is in a upbeat mood. Reason being the high yield of wheat this year. The arrival of wheat in the main grain markets in this part of the country has started picking up, though in certain pockets inclement weather in the past 24 hours caused a bit of worry to the farming community.

Farmers are expecting an output of nearly 23 quintals per acre in the state. However, there are farmers who claim the yield may go up to 27-29 quintals per acre. The quality of the grain is by and large fine but as the temperature remained low in the first half of April the ripening of the grain is not up to the mark in some cases. Because of this reason, the moisture level in some of the wheat stocks brought for marketing has been found higher than the permitted limit of 12 per cent. However, it has a negligible affect so far as far as the procurement of wheat is concerned.

If all goes well in the coming four weeks and weather remains fine, Punjab can expect over 16 million tonnes of wheat. Last year about 10 million tonnes of wheat were procured by the government agencies in the state and area under wheat was 34 lakh hectares, whereas this year it was slightly over 33 lakh hectares.

In the local market, the arrival of wheat today touched 14,000 quintals. An official of the procurement agency told The Tribune that so far 53,548 quintals of wheat has arrived in the local market compared to last year’s figure of 39,000 quintals. About 48,065 quintals were procured by the government agencies.

Mr S. Ram, president of the local Arhtiya Association, said the procurement process was going on smoothly except in case of certain stocks of wheat, which had not been procured by the procurement agencies in the first round because of excess moisture.

Interestingly, the arrival of wheat in the markets in small towns is a bit slow. In Khamano market, where rain water pools were a common sight, 100 quintals of wheat has arrived so far. While last year’s figure till date was 15,239 quintals. Mr Bant Singh, who had brought wheat from Thikriwal village, said unfavourable weather had hampered the wheat harvesting operations. He said he was expecting over 22 quintals of yield per acre.

Mr Gurmeet Singh of Gaggarwal village said the yield in his farm would be over 25 quintals. He said the wheat varieties, which were sown a bit late, had given better yield than those sown early.

Even in Morinda area, the arrival of wheat is yet to pick up. Mr Paramjit Singh, a commission agent in the Morinda market, said within the next few days, the Morinda market would be flooded with the wheat. He said farmers were waiting for their turn for getting the wheat harvested from combine harvesters. 


3 held for drug smuggling
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14
The district police, in its campaign against drug peddlers, has arrested three inter-state smugglers and recovered 1.75 kg of opium, 60 kg of poppy husk and three bicycles from them.

In a press note issued here today, the district police chief, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, said in one case Jangir Singh of Amritsar district was arrested at a place near Chak Ruldu Singh Wala village and 1.75 kg of opium was recovered from him.

The accused could not produce any licence or permit to keep opium and during interrogation the accused revealed that he had been smuggling opium from Jandewala village in Haryana for the last 10 years and used to sell it in retail in various villages of Punjab.

In another case Makhan Singh and Chinda Singh, both residents of Assa Butter village in Muktsar district, were arrested at Raike Kalan village. The accused along with their one other associate were carrying a bag containing poppy husk on their bicycle.

They revealed that they used to smuggle poppy husk from Doda Kular and Haripur village in Rajasthan state and used to sell it in retail in the Muktsar area. The accused confessed that they had been doing so for the past four years.

Their third accomplice managed to escape.

Cases have been registered under the NDPS Act at Sangat police station and city kotwali.

In another case, three persons have been arrested under the Excise Act and illicit distilled liquor and working still recovered from them. The accused has been identified as Jeet Singh, Hans Raj and Prem Singh.


Two injured in attack
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 14
Two boys Deepak and Balwinder were injured when they were attacked by certain motor cycle-borne persons with sharp edged weapons near village Narur yesterday.

The youths were returning to Phagwara.

Personal enemity was stated to be the reason behind the attack, the police said. A case has been registered.


1 killed, 18 hurt in bus accident
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 14
One person died on the spot and 18, including a driver, were injured, one of them critically, in a bus accident near the milk plant here today. The seriously injured has been referred to Amritsar.

According to an eye witness, the driver of a private bus, in a bid to save a cyclist, lost control the bus and it rammed into a tree.

The bus has been impounded and the driver arrested.


Man kills father
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 14
In a fit of rage, Jasbir Singh of Jhal Laiwala village, falling under Sultanpur Lodhi police station, killed his father Shanker Singh (58) who returned home in a drunken state after attending Baisakhi festival at Sultanpur Lodhi.

According to report lodged with the police, Swaran Kaur, the wife of the deceased, alleged her husband who had retired from the Indian Army was addicted to liquor and was doing farming in the village after the retirement. Jasbir Singh used to stop him from consuming liquor and both quarrelled over this several times.

She alleged that when Shanker Singh returned drunk after attending Baisakhi festival at Sultanpur Lodhi, Jasbir Singh had a quarrel with his father and in a fit of rage, hit his father with bricks, resulting in serious injuries which caused his death.

Harjinder Singh, the other son of the deceased, who tried to intervene also suffered injuries.

The police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against Jasbir Singh who has absconded.

In another incident, Kamal Kishore (60) of the local Sheranwala Gate died in a bus following heart failure today. He had boarded the bus from the local bus stand to go to Jalandhar.


CM has commercialised education: panel
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14
The All-India Save Education Society has alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister has commercialised education in the state and pushed the poor and downtrodden towards illiteracy.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, spokesperson for the society, alleged that on the one hand, Mr Badal had been giving liberal grants to private educational institutions and on the other hand, he had been causing great harm to public and government educational institutions.

He pointed out that at a meeting of the society held here today, it was alleged that Mr Badal had been creating inferiority complex among the poor and downtrodden people and it should be checked by mobilising teachers and others against it.

Mr Kaushal said that it was also decided to meet the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, and other authorities to urge them to make arrangements to check the mushrooming of education shops in this area, which had been looting innocent parents.

These education shops were being opened against the established norms and had no recognition from the authorities concerned.

The society also urged the authorities concerned to take strict action against those government teachers, mostly of science faculties, who had been taking private tuitions and earning crores.

It demanded that science classes should be held in a proper manner in school and colleges of the district.

It expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of the government schools. The Punjab Government, on the one hand, had been denying scholarships, books, furniture and sports equipments to school students and on the other hand, had been allowing the private companies to loot students on the pretext of imparting computer education, the society alleged.

Recognised government-aided schools had been charging more fee than that prescribed from the students and were blackmailing them by taking fake roll call.

These aided schools also took heavy amounts from their teachers when they were recruited, it alleged.

Mr Kaushal said that the society had demanded that income tax authorities, district education authorities and district administration should intervene in the matter and take necessary corrective steps.


PUTA demands Dean’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 14
The Punjabi University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) today took a serious note of the humiliation of teaching faculty Dr Kuldip Singh Dhir, Dean Academic Affairs, on the occasion of bicentenary celebrations of coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Punjabi University yesterday.

In a statement here the PUTA President, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, and the Secretary, Dr Balwinder Singh, condemned the behaviour and act of Dean, Academic Affairs, who they said was proving to be a liability to the Vice-Chancellor.

They said earlier that the Dean humiliated the faculty by issuing an autocratic circular for compulsory presence of more than 400 teachers at a venue where only 250 persons could be accommodated. As a result of which many teachers kept standing inside the Science Auditorium while many could not get the entry in the Auditorium because of the non-availability of space. PUTA fails to understand the compulsion of selecting Science Auditorium as a venue for this function where such a large gathering was asked to assemble although the halls with much more capacity were available.

PUTA had already apprised the Vice-Chancellor about the inefficiency, incapability and arrogant attitude of the Dean, Academic Affairs.

The leaders said PUTA demanded the resignation of Dr Dhir. They said if he does not resign, then the VC is requested to dispense with such an inefficient, partisan and incapable person as Dean and appoint another person who could uphold the dignity of this office.


‘Transport sector needs regulation’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 14
The subsides in the capital investment and other incentives for upgrading the industry should be given to the new upcoming entrepreneurs. This was stated by members of the Patiala Chamber of Industries here today to shun the policies which impede the production of goods on mass scale.

The President, of the chambers, Mr N.S. Khurana, said no duty should be charged on the import of raw materials and at the same time export of raw materials should also be discouraged by imposing heavy duties on such commodities. Mr Khurana added that the goods related to information technology (IT) should be easily made available to different industrial sectors at cheap rates.

Mr Khurana said the Research and Development Centres should be established at government levels to ensure a proper demonstration of the upgraded technology.

The members notified that the transport sector in the state needs regulation since the transporters were charging rates at their own will rather than on rational basis. Talking about the financial institution, members said they were playing a significant role in providing working capital and other financial assistance.

India ,being a WTO member, lifted the quantitative restrictions on 715 items from April 1.This has created panic among the small and medium industrial sectors about their future in the face of global trade and competition. The members of the Patiala Chambers of Industries felt that the Indian industry was perturbed about the fundamental competitiveness in relation to the WTO, Chinese and South East Asian imports, infrastructure and regulatory and environmental impediments.

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