Sunday, May 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ex-SP confirms Bhindranwale’s death
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 19
In government records, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, head of Damdami Taksal, is a dead man.

Even as the acting chief of Damdami Taksal, who succeeded Bhindranwale, had recently claimed that he (Bhindranwale) was in high spirits and would re-emerge at an appropriate time yet it is a fact that he was killed on June 6 along with Bhai Amrik Singh, the then president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, Maj-Gen Shabeg Singh (retd) and Baba Thara Singh during the infamous Operation Bluestar in 1984. His body was recognised by his brother, Subedar Major Harcharan Singh Rode (who retired as a captain), the Superintendent of Police and a battery of police and civil officers in the presence of the military.

The controversy over the death of Sant Bhindranwale has assumed significance as the Sikh high priests found themselves in a dilemma after the announcement by 10 Sikh radical organisations that they would organise bhog ceremony of the sant at Akal Takht on June 6 to coincide with the 17th anniversary of Operation Bluestar. The family members of Sant Bhindranwale have left the issue of his death to Akal Takht and Damdami Taksal. However, the matter is getting complicated with each passing day.

However, Mr Apar Singh Bajwa, the then DSP (City) at that time, gave startling information about the Army operation, the death of Sant Bhindranwale and the removal of more than 800 bodies from the Golden Temple complex.

When the TNS team approached Mr Bajwa he showed reluctance in speaking on this sensitive issue. However, after much persuasion Mr Bajwa started giving first-hand information.

Though the body of Sant Bhindranwale was recognised by his brother and an SP officially yet the help of Mr Bajwa was sought unofficially as he knew the sant and leaders of Damdami Taksal and militants as he remained the main investigator of the Sikh-Nirankari clash on April 13, 1978.

Mr Bajwa said as part of his official duty he had met Sant Bhindranwala and leaders of the Taksal hundreds of times. Though the late Rajinder Singh, the then SP, was head of the team constituted to investigate the Sikh-Nirankari clash yet he (Mr Bajwa) did most of the investigations.

Mr Bajwa, who retired as SP in 1995 after meritorious service (he received the President’s Police medal in 1980), revealed the Army had full control of the cremation ground near gurdwara Shaheedan and the Punjab police personnel and civil officials were not allowed to enter the cremation ground. Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, the then Deputy Commissioner (now Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister) who was posted on June 3, Brigadier Talwar, Brigadier Chadda, Pt Harjit Singh the then SP (CID) and Army personnel in thousands were present at the time of cremation.

He said when querried by Army officers he recognised the body of Bhindranwale who was injured on the right side of the face. He had bled profusely in the abdomen. He said on his personal request the Army officers agreed to cremate the bodies of Sant Bhindranwale, Gen Shabeg Singh, Baba Thara Singh and Bhai Amrik Singh as per Sikh rituals while the rest of the bodies (the number must be more than 800) were cremated en masse.

Mr Bajwa said the Army allowed him to cover the body of Sant Bhindranwale with a sheet and pour ghee on it. He said curfew had been clamped on the entire district when en masse cremation took place. He said the government media, including All India Radio and Doordarshan, had announced the death of Sant Bhindranwale in the evening itself. The official announcement also stated that the cremation of the sant was done as per Sikh rituals. The Army had also released the photograph of the body of Sant Bhindranwale (though unofficially) to a leading English news magazine.

Mr Bajwa said he was deputed by the district administration to supervise the cremation of bodies from the Golden Temple premises.

Mr Bajwa said there was not an iota of truth in the allegation that Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and other leaders had surrendered before the Army at the time of Operation Bluestar. The fact is that the Akali and AISSF leaders, including Sant Longowal, Mr Tohra, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, now AISSF president, Mr Harinder Singh Sandhu, the then general secretary of the AISSF, Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla (now member of the Punjab Public Services Commission) and Bhai Rajinder Singh Mehta were gheraoed by the military and then bundled into waiting Army trucks. While senior leaders like Sant Longowal and Mr Tohra were taken into camp jails, the second rung leaders were taken into the Army School which was also converted into a camp jail.

Mr Bajwa revealed that the family members of Sant Bhindranwale had approached him through someone to know the truth about two months ago. He said he had clearly told the messenger that he was a witness to the death of the sant. “After that, the family members never approached me,” he said.


Punjab to take strong stand against WTO
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
As the impact of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on the Indian Agriculture will be debated at length in the meeting of the Chief Ministers to be presided over by the Prime Minister in Delhi on May 21, the Punjab Government has decided to take a strong stand against WTO.

Informed sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal would ask the Union Government to come out with a new bold policy initiative to counter the devastating adverse impact of WTO on farmers, traders and small scale industrialists.

It is the first time that such a high level meeting of the chief ministers is being held under the chairmanship of the PM to discuss very important issues pertaining to Indian agriculture and food vis-a- vis implications of WTO in these areas.

As the State Government has got a chance to speak its mind on the subject, It has prepared an elaborate response to the Union Government’s agenda circulated among states a few days ago in this connection. “ We have consulted all experts to prepare the response to the agenda”, said a senior functionary of the State Government.

Moreover, Mr Badal is expected to utilise this opportunity to attack the Congress party, which is going to be a principal challenger in the coming elections to the State Assembly. Sources said that Mr Badal would go all out to put all the blame on the Congress party for signing WTO without consulting states in 1995. In his public speeches, Mr Badal, has often said that the Congress Government at the Centre signed the “death warrants” while putting its signatures on the WTO agreement.

The WTO agreement is going to be one of the important issues in the coming Assembly elections in the state. The Chief Minister is seeing the meeting as an opportunity to clarify his stand “ against WTO.

Sources close to Mr Badal told TNS the Chief Minister would tell the Prime Minister at the meeting that the Country was not prepared for the WTO agreement when it was imposed on its people six years ago. The apprehensions expressed by experts about the negative impact of the WTO agreement on Indian agriculture especially on the small farmers have strong basis.

Mr Badal, according to the sources, feels that small farmers cannot compete at international level in absence of level playing field provided to them. Moreover European countries have a strong system of providing hidden subsidies to farmers in various ways. Whereas in India neither the Union Government nor states governments have resources at their disposal to pay such subsidies to farmers.

The market access to multinational companies to sell their agriculture products in the country would finish not only small farmers, but even big farmers in a very short span. Take the case of wheat. Multi-national companies could provide wheat to Indian consumers at a far less price than the Minimum support price( MSP) without which the farming community especially in Punjab and Haryana would be ruined. If farmers are sustaining in this region, it is all because of the MSP. As the agreement binds the signatory countries to stop direct subsidies to farmers, they will be hit hard in due course when such subsidies are withdrawn fully on fertilisers and certain other inputs.

Moreover as India is a very small player with a less than 2 per cent share in the world market in agriculture, it is bound to be adversely affected because of further expected imbalance in the agriculture imports and exports. Already oilseed industry is passing through a difficult time because of the heavy import of edible oils in the past months.

Sources said that Mr Badal would press upon the Prime Minister to urge for all sort of support in the shape of various direct and indirect subsidies to farming community. India should resolve to provide subsidies to farmers under the “green box” provisions in WTO. Farmers need help to compete in the international market. Without the government’s help not only farmers but small industrial producers, traders (commission agents), agro-based industry like rice shellers, sugar mills would perish in no time.


Agitated Cong MCs walkout
Allege land grab against minister
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 19
As many as seven municipal councillors belonging to the Congress today left the function organised in connection with the inauguration of a meeting hall in protest against the remarks allegedly made by the Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, against their party.

The seven municipal councillors, who came to attend the function in keeping with the decision taken at a meeting of the council that nobody would be allowed to use the occasion for any political purpose, also raised slogans against the minister when he made remarks against the Congress. The function was presided over by the former Union Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

They alleged Mr Garg remarked that terrorism in Punjab was a gift of the Congress. At this, all Congress municipal councillors starting raising slogans like “Chiranji Lal go back” and “Punjab sarkar murdabad”. They added that certain policemen then tried to push them out. After that, all municipal councillors of the party staged a dharna in front of the municipal council office. However, they were forced to leave that place also by the policemen.

Mr Sewak Ram Bhola, Mr Shivji Ram Sharma, Mr Varinder Kumar Bhola, Mr Jeet Mal, Mr Balwant Rai, Mrs Paramjit Kaur Brar and Mrs Rajni Sharma, all Congress municipal councillors, in the joint press note issued here said at the council meeting it had been decided that only issues relating to the city could be raised in the function.

They alleged it was the SAD government in Punjab which had been patronising hardcore terrorists like Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and this step of the Punjab Government would disturb peace which was hard won by late Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary of the District Congress Committee said at the meeting of party workers held later in the office that Akalis had become active only after Beant Singh brought peace in Punjab.

He said the party had demanded all documents relating to the alleged grabbing of 1800 square yards of land by Mr Garg should be sealed so that the records could not be tampered with.

He said the party had demanded that Rs 1 lakh which had been spent on today’s function should be paid by the president of the municipal council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, as it was used by Akalis to condemn the Congress.

Mr Garg when contacted said he did not make any remark against the Congress at the function. He added that he had simply said that peace established by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would be maintained at all costs. He said no municipal councillor raided any slogan against him.

Regarding the controversy relating to alleged grabbing of a piece of land by him, he said he had purchased a plot in 1970 and he was in possession of its registered sale deed along with the mutation record. He denied he had ever tried to grab any piece of land. He alleged certain vested interests were trying to malign his image.


Sack 2 ministers, urge SAD workers
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, May 19
Local SAD workers have condemned two Punjab ministers for allegedly taking four persons from Punjab to Canada under the garb of ‘Panj Piaras’.

They urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister to immediately dismiss the two ministers from his Cabinet who played with the religious sentiments of Sikhs residing in Canada, tarnishing the image of Panth in the world. They also urged Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi President, SGPC, to take up the issue at Akal Takht and excommunicate them from the Panth.

A meeting of workers was held under the presidentship of Jathedar Karnail Singh Koharpur, a senior leader of SAD, at Mahilpur 24 kms. from here last evening in which all participants criticised the ministers who introduced them as religious dignitaries for carrying holy artefacts to be displayed at the Baisakhi parade at Vancouver there. They alleged that Rs 5 to 8 lakh each had been charged from them by these ministers. The incident had embarrassed leaders of Vancouver’s Sikh community when the aforesaid persons later disappeared from the scene.

Mr Herb Dhaliwal, Fisheries Minister of Canada, who personally vouched for three persons for their participation in Ross Street temple’s Baisakhi, is also facing punishment due to their disappearance. One of them had already applied for refugee status to him for staying in Canada. The other are also likely to apply for their asylum. 


Badal harps on riots, skirts demands
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 19
Punjab Chief Minister and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Parkash Singh Badal today preferred to touch the sensitive issues like Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and appealed people to stand by the SAD in future.

The Chief Minister also held the Congress responsible for agonies of people of Punjab and tried his best to dub the peaceful atmosphere in the state as the biggest achievement of the SAD-BJP combine government and that of the Vajpayee government at the Centre.

Touching the issue of Operation Blue-star after a long gap, Mr Badal turned emotional and narrated how Army tanks attacked the Golden Temple and how Sikhs were killed in the 1984 anti Sikh riots. But at the same he kept mum about the demands, which were the basis of the long Dharam Yudh Morcha initiated by the Akalis. “The 45-year-long Congress rule is also responsible for poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and communal disharmony. Moreover, Punjab, which has unparalleled contribution towards the freedom struggle and played a great role in making the country self-reliant in the field of foodgrain production has always been mishandled and mistreated by the Congress,” lashed out Mr Badal, who was addressing a SAD-BJP rally at the local Model Town Dasehra Grounds here today. “On the other hand, the Vajpayee government provided Rs 100 crore for celebration of the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth and was a part in celebrations in connection with the 200th coronation anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Similarly, the Centre has decided to provide a grant of Rs eight crore for the construction of a panorama at Amritsar. The panorama would be ready by November 13, he added.

He criticised Congress leaders Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar for their “rhetoric” against his “Sangat Darshan” programme, aimed at “redressal” of grievances of poor. “I challenge the Congress leaders to sit in sangat darshan programmes from morning till evening without having food, he said adding, “Mr Tohra has been hand in glove with these people and has been working for disturbing peaceful atmosphere in the state. He alleged that breakaway factions of the Akali Dal have been strengthening the Congress and appealed the people to give a thought to the achievements of his government and that of the Congress.

Others who addressed the conference, included the SGPC president, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, the SAD general secretary Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Punjab Ministers, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Mr Tota Singh and Mr Manoranjan Kalia. The former SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the local Improvement Trust Chairman Sarbjit Singh Makkar also addressed the conference. Earlier, Mr Badal, held a meeting with the visiting World Bank mission headed by Mr P.C. Jain regarding Integrated Watershed Development Projects (Hills) at the local Circuit House this morning.

Mr J.R. Kundal, Secretary, Public Health, Punjab disclosed that different teams had visited the Kandi area and villages identified facing scarcity of water and where people were ready to maintain tubewells. Mr Badal said deep tubewells were being installed in Jalalabad, Fazilka and Guru Harsahai for the installation of deep tubewells. He also ordered allotment of 2.5 kanal land for the setting up of a Press Club at Jalandhar.

Mr Prakash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister said today that he had taken up the issue of opening of Canadian consulate in Chandigarh with the Union Government, which assured that the same would be operational in near future. PTI


25 pc SAD ticket for YAD: Sukhbir
Chander Parkash and Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, May 19
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and MP; said today about 25 per cent of the party ticket would be given to members of the Youth Akali Dal (YAD) in the next assembly elections.

Mr Badal, who was here today to inaugurate the newly built meeting hall of the municipal council, said three would also be new faces which would be fielded in different assembly segments whenever the assembly elections would be held.

He added it was up to the party leadership to decide who should be nominated to the Rajya Sabha as there was a vacancy after Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha was elected MLA. He added a decision to this effect would be taken by the party’s working committee.

He disclosed that all political issues, including territorial issues, pending between Punjab and Haryana and other states would be solved shortly. He added that more than 95 per cent economic issues relating to Punjab had been solved by the Central Government.

Mr Badal when asked whether he was in favour of forming a group of Sikh MPs in Parliament as advocated by the Deputy Chairman, Minorities Commission, Mr Tirlochan Singh, said pressure groups of Sikh MPs should be formed to protect the interests of Punjab. He added that even he was in favour of farmers and traders becoming MPs so that they could protect the interests of that class.

He pointed out that a joint fight by Punjab MPs would bring more development in the state.

When Mr Badal was told opposition MPs and MLAs were levelling allegations that they were not being invited to any government function and discrimination was being done in connection with the release of grants for the areas represented by them in the sangat darshan being held by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he said these allegations were baseless. He alleged Congress leaders never wanted development of Punjab and always indulged in negative politics.

He pointed out that the overall development of rural and urban areas was being done by the Punjab Government as it had managed to generate enough funds needed for the same by fiscal management without imposing any new tax on any section of society. He said the sangat darshan scheme launched by the Chief Minister after the SAD-BJP alliance came into power in the state had been yielding better results as the people had been getting justice on the spot.

He said the state government had fulfilled the long-pending demand of Bathinda citizens by starting the construction of a railway overbridge on the Parasram Nagar level crossing. The railway overbridge would connect Bathinda city with trans-railway colonies.


Beopar Mandal to contest Assembly poll
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has decided to field its candidates in the Assembly elections in Punjab which are due next year because it feel that the ruling SAD-BJP alliance has deceived the trading community in the state.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, in a press note issued here today said ruling alliance had not fulfilled its promises which it had made in its election manifesto four years back. He said the most important of them was that the octroi would be abolished in the state. He said the traders had voted for the alliance, so that it would fulfil their promises. But, he alleged, that instead of abolition of the octroi, its contract of collection was given to private contractors who harass the traders.

He said the beopar mandal would contest at least 25 seats. He added that it would work for the defeat of the BJP candidates on all seats that the BJP would contest.

Mr Kapoor said the mandal would approach the Election Commission for seeking registration as a political party and would demand from the commission that it should be allotted an election symbol.

He added that it could make alliance with other political parties who would fight for the cause of the business community. 


Sangat darshan ‘misuse of govt money’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 19
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi Congress MP from Hoshiarpur Parliamentary Constituency strongly criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister Punjab for disbursing government money recklessly at sangat darshan programmes for political motives to get votes for the SAD in the ensuing elections of Punjab state Assembly. This money is actually meant for improving agriculture and relief for loss and and damage to crops due to natural calamities.

In a press note released here today Mr Channi said that ‘sangat darshan’ programmes were being conducted earlier by bureaucrats in their respective areas. But these could not produce ealier results due to non-performance of the SAD-BJP government of Mr Badal keeping in mind the election year Mr Badal himself started conducting these programmes and now was acting if he was a “Maharaja” of Punjab. He pointed out that Mr Badal was now justifying sangat darshan programmes on the plea that bureaucrats failed to feel the pulse of the people for direct contact with people through single window system.

Mr Channi questioned what was Mr Badal doing for four years. He said Mr Badal started sangat darshans only when elections were one year away. Mr Channi said that recent remarks of Mr Badal against bureaucrats of Punjab not only upset them. There was also resentment among them. He said that Mr Badal started distributing cheques of huge amounts on the recommendations of his henchmen. He has already distributed more than Rs 75 crore at these programmes by utilizing the money meant for Rural Development Fund (RDF) and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB). He said that Mr Badal realising people growing resentment growing against his Government’s non-performance is now racing against-time. Due to mismanagement and improper utilisation of government money the state already was facing financial crisis which would increase further. Many of the properties of the government had been sold and loans from various agencies like NABARD and other Banks obtained to raise funds for personal ends.


Rally held against Power Minister
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
Thousands of employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday jammed traffic on Mall Road. They held a rally and took out a procession in the city under the banner of the Technical Services Union (TSU) as part of their 11-month-old struggle against the Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, and senior officials of the PSEB.

The activists of the union, who had come from seven districts of the western zone of Punjab, shouted slogans against the minister and the officials who were allegedly harassing the employees.

The agitation of the employees had started last year when some of them were allegedly transferred on political basis. Since then they had been holding rallies, taking out processions and showing their resentment through other means.

The TSU members have alleged the senior officials of the PSEB management were giving stepmotherly treatment to the members of their union. They said the leaders of their union were being implicated in false cases by the senior officials. They said the senior officials of the board were working as agents of the minister.

They alleged the minister had politicised the board and its working. They alleged the minister was preventing the board management from coming to the table for negotiations.

The speakers on the occasion said their struggle was not only against the transfer of a few employees but it was also against the privatisation of the PSEB. They said the government was implementing the policy of privatisation of public sector undertaking and government institutions under the pressure of super powers.

They said their struggle would continue till their demands were fulfilled despite the pressures of the Power Minister and senior officials. They said the members of their union were lured to join the union formed by the minister. They alleged they were being threatened that if they did not also do the same they would have to bear the consequences.

The TSU leaders alleged the employees who were suspended by the PSEB management to weaken their struggle were not given the allowances for which they were entitled under the rules. They alleged whenever any member of their union went to the office of a senior official he was maltreated.

The union has decided to hold a state-level rally. It would be held at Patiala on May 29 in front of the head office of the PSEB.


Insult to memory of Maharaja
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 19
Even as the Punjab Government is in a celebration mood today, it being the second centenary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation, the monument made by the Maharaja are crying for attention.

A glaring example is the Ram Bagh gate, which is the only one that survived the wrath of the British. While other gates were demolished, this is the only gate which is partially intact of the 12 gates that Maharaja Ranjit Singh built in 1823. To add insult to injury the municipal corporation has built a urinal against its imposing pillars. As if this was not enough, a liquor outlet is also operating there.

Mr Brij Bedi, husband of supercop Kiran Bedi, has brought this utter disrespect to the historical monument to the notice of the municipal corporation but has had no response from the corporation authorities. Commenting on the issue, Mr Bedi says, “The corporation has become immune not only to the suffering public but has also been callous in its attitude towards our past.” “By erecting a urinal all limits of decency have been crossed. They have exposed the attitude of belittling a place that should be held in the highest regards,” he added.


Exploring his roots through poetry
Vimal Sumbly

It is an odyssey Harmohanjit Singh of Canada has embarked upon. It is an odyssey aimed at exploring his roots that run through Punjab, its land, its people, its heritage, its culture, its past and its present. It has been nourished by the blood and sweat of hundreds and thousands of Punjab’s sons who have been guided by the great Gurus.

Born in Canada to Sikh parents, Harmohanjit had an innate urge to explore his roots. Not just explore these, but to stick to them and make them a guiding force. “Once tied to your roots, you are bound to stand firm on your ground. Even strong winds may not be able to shake you”, he observes. That is what makes him focus on his roots in his writings.

A student of English literature, Harmohanjit says he has been inspired by “my history, my experiences, my culture and my literature”. Besides, he has been fond of legends like John Keats, T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats. He has also studied Chinese Canadian literature.

In fact, he is himself a part of a new genre that is emerging and may rightly be called “immigrant Canadian literature”, which could further be classified into “Indo-Canadian, Chinese Canadian and Sikh Canadian”. This, according to the poet, is the outcome of the “sense of void” created and caused by the immigration. It is manifest in various forms and the identity crisis is one of them.

And to overcome that identity crisis, “going back to the roots” is the best course available for Harmohanjit. “Besides giving you confidence in your past, it also creates and consolidates the sense of belonging”, he remarks. Although he prefers to describe himself as a Sikh Canadian and not a Canadian Sikh, his poetry reflects his urge for striking a balance and arriving at a reconciliation among various contradictions, as he writes in one of his poems,” Sikh Canadian”.

He is aware of the problems being faced by the first-generation litterateurs who are busy creating “first-generation immigrant Canadian literature”. At the same time, he says, he does not do it for any gain. “It is labour not for any reward as I have done it only for myself”.

At 24, he has already brought out a collection of poems, “Sugar, Steel and the Maple Leaf”. It includes a long poem,” Khalsa: 300 years in Bloom”, which is almost the history of the Khalsa in brief. In the poem he says: “Now wherever you travel, be it near, be it far.

You are sure to come across a gracious Gursikh Sardar.”


Residents harassed as offices shifted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
The shifting of offices of various departments from their present position to some other places in the city for facilitating the construction of a multi-storeyed district administrative complex (DAC) have created problems for the residents as no proper announcement or “munadi” was done in the city to inform them about the new location of the offices. Most of the offices were shifted to the building of the old hospital which was in turn shifted to the premises of civil hospital. The residents were aware about this location because for quite some time certain social organisations were opposing the shifting of the old hospital.

The problem is maximum regarding those offices which have been shifted to some other places like the office of the district police chief and other police officers, the office of the Assistant Excise and Taxation Officer and his subordinates.

The office of the SSP has been shifted to the building of the market committee situated in the grain market and the office of the AETO has been shifted to the building of the de-addiction consultancy centre near the civil hospital which is already being used by the District Child Development Department and as a working women’s hostel.

The residents, particularly those who came from nearby villages for various works, were finding it difficult to locate the new building where the offices were shifted. They were not able to grasp the idea that the building where the offices were situated would be demolished. They were wondering about the need for this when the building was in such good condition. A resident of a distant village said he had been searching the office of the DTO for about four hours but without any gain. He said he had been running from one place to the other since morning but could not find the office.

Although the administration had made all arrangements for making the shifting as smooth as possible but it failed to tell the people about the new location of the offices. The other obstacle that the residents were facing was that due to the shifting of the files of the departments were not easily traceable.


People resent inconvenience
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, May 19
The Punjab Chief Minister’s visit to address a joint rally of the SAD-BJP here today may have cheered local Akali workers and leaders, out to rubbish Congress propaganda that the CM was ignoring urbanites, but city residents found themselves in a piquant situation as roads leading to the Dasehra ground in Model Town, the place of the rally, were sealed and traffic diverted at several points in the city causing in- convenience to common man.

The police made elaborate security arrangements in and around Dasehra ground at Model Town as more than 300 policemen were deployed for the security of the CM. Roads around Dasehra ground were sealed from all ends causing inconvenience to residents and shopkeepers. Traffic was diverted from all entrance points of the place to other routes and no vehicle was allowed to ply on the roads leading to Dasehra ground. Managements of Guru Amar Dass Public School and Dayanand Model School, situated adjoining to the the ground, had to declare holiday in their schools.

The district administration, keeping in view special security arrangements for the CM, reportedly had issued verbal orders to the school managements to close the schools. Shopkeepers of the area alleged that the police cordoned off the area since yesterday and all roads leading to the place of the rally were sealed. They further said that the residents were not allowed to move on these roads causing loss in business today. Mr Lucky Kumar, a shopkeeper, said, “This political rallies are causing huge loss in business to the shopkeepers of the area. This can be gauged from the fact that not a single customer visited my shop till afternoon due to barricades put up at both ends of this road barring entry of vehicles. 


Show-cause notice to cable company
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 19
The local Municipal Corporation has decided to slap a fine of Rs 30 lakh on the HFCL, a private telecom service provider company, for its failure to repair streets dug in various parts of the city to lay telephone cables.

Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Commissioner, said here today that the civic body had issued a show-caused notice to the HFCL, asking why an amount of Rs 30 lakh should not be deducted from its bank guarantee of Rs 50 Lakh provided to the civic body as it had failed to repair the roads in different parts of the city within a stipulated period of 21 days.

After receiving numerous complaints from residents, the civic body recently conducted a survey of different parts of the city. It found that the telecom company had failed to repair the roads within the prescribed time limit of 21 days.

“Though the HFCL had entered into an agreement with the Local Bodies Department last year that it would repair all roads in the city, it had failed to fulfill its commitment,” Dr Roshan Sunkarla said. Officials of the HFCL were not available for comment.


Tripura Governor visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 19
The Tripura Governor Lt-Gen (retd) Mr K.I. Seth today visited the Golden Temple where he was presented with a siropa and a set of books by SGPC Secretary Gurbachan Singh Bachan. In the visitors’ book the Governor noted that he had found “an ideal” for his life. 


Caning of lawyers boorish: Dadhahoor
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 19
Mr Gurcharan Singh Dadhahoor, member, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) and a former Member of Parliament, from Sangrur has condemned the caning of lawyers in Sangrur yesterday by the Sangrur police. Talking to this reporter on phone yesterday, Mr Dadhahoor termed the lathi charge on lawyers as “unfortunate” and “boorish” in which a large number of them had sustained injuries. Mr Dadhahoor said instead of intimidating the lawyers, the district administration should have redressed the long-standing grievances of the lawyers. 

wants ‘impartial’ probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, may 19
Mr Balwant Singh, Sarpanch of Nadampur village in Sangrur district today alleged that the inquiry against him was ordered under political pressure by the Minister of State of Rural Development and Panchayats. Rejecting the findings of the inquiry held against him by a Deputy Director of the department, the Sarpanch said that he was ready to face a fresh inquiry conducted by an impartial government agency or the CBI.

He claimed there was no embezzlement of panchayat funds in the village.


Arhtiyas, BKU men stage dharnas
Tribune News Service

Ballianwali (Bathinda), May 19
At least 500 commission agents today staged a dharna in front of the local police station to press the authorities concerned to make arrangements for their security and safety as some activists of the BKU (Ekta) have allegedly been threatening their lives and properties.

On the other hand, activists of the BKU (Ekta) led by district president of the unit Jhanda Singh Jethuka have started an indefinite dharna in front of the police station to press by the police authorities to withdraw a criminal case registered against Gurdev Singh and his two sons after they allegedly ploughed up the crop sown by Sham Lal, a commission agent of Maur Mandi in his land in Jhundeke village.

Rajesh Jain general secretary of the Arhthiya Association of the district, alleged that Gurdev Singh and his sons sold-off his piece of land to Sham Lal and later started levelling false allegations that the land had been fraudulently transferred in his name by Sham Lal. Police sources said commission agents, including some farmers, who staged a dharna in front of the local police station demanded the arrest of Gurdev Singh and his sons.

On the other hand, the BKU (Ekta) activists had been pressing the police authorities to set free Gurdev Singh without any condition.

Sandeep Kumar, son of Sham Lal, said the land was purchased about three years ago and cash paid to Maggar Singh, son of Gurdev Singh Maggar Singh, who had been unconcerned about the sale of land had recently started levelling false allegations against his father.


Forest Dept objects to PUDA activities
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 19
Following the publication of a report in The Tribune on May 16 regarding the transfer of 72 acres near the Upper Bari Doab (UBD) canal "Land transfer to PUDA leads to bickerings", the Forest Department has taken serious note of the plot cutting by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) at a location which has been declared as green belt under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

In a letter to the Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, the Forest Department on Thursday sought a halt to the sale of plots in the Swarn Vihar area under the optimum utilisation of vacant government land (OUVGL) scheme carried on by PUDA. Copies of the letter have also been sent to the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintending Engineer of the UBD canal citing government orders that “prohibit the transfer of forest land to other government departments for non-forestry purposes”.


4 pc quota of plots for Army men
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Punjab Government has reserved 8 per cent quota of plots of various sizes for defence and para-military personnel in the urban estates in the state.

Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Defence Services Welfare Minister, said today that 4 per cent quota had been reserved for defence personnel and 2 per cent each for the BSF and the CRPF jawans.

He said bravery award winners, eminent sportspersons, artists and those who have rendered meritorious services in other fields would also be considered for allotment of plots from the government quota.

The government has also decided to allot 3 per cent of the HIG, the MIG and the LIG houses to defence personnel and ex-servicemen and 2 per cent to war widows . Five per cent plots have been earmarked for war widows and ex-servicemen in industrial focal points.


Cop ‘involved’ in poppy husk trade
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 19
Men in uniform allegedly on the behest of the then SHO of Khamano police station have been selling poppy husk in the area and minted a large sum of money in connivance with poppy husk smugglers.

On getting complaints in this regard, officials of the Punjab Police, including the ADGP (Intelligence), IG police zone 1, DIG, Patiala range, and SSP of the district took prompt action and initiated separate inquiries.

According to sources, an anonymous complainant had alleged that Mr Balwinder Singh, ASI, had been selling poppy husk in the area in connivance with two other smugglers, Gurdial Singh and Najar Singh, both residents of Bilaspur village in the district. A large number of youths of the area were becoming drug-addicts due to it.

On inquiries, officials found that Mr Prem Singh, the then SHO of Khamano police station, had registered an FIR under Section 15 of the NDPS Act against Najar Singh, Gurdial Singh, Jarnail Singh and Kuldeep Sharma and showed seizure of 60 bags of poppy husk, whereas the actual recovery was of 95 bags. It is alleged that he forced his subordinates to sell the rest of the poppy husk. Besides this, ASI Tikka Singh seized 10 bags of poppy husk from a farm house at Bilaspur village, but did not record it anywhere.

Entries in this regard were made by one of the police officials of the district in a case diary of the police station. It has been further mentioned in the report and the case diary that the SHO did not arrest the suspects. Instead he took Rs 2 lakh from two of the accused.

The facts came to light when all police personnel involved in the racket and the smugglers were interrogated by the detective branch of the police. They alleged in their statements that they were intimidated and forced by the SHO to connive with him as they were his subordinates.


Gang of robbers busted, 8 held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 19
The police claims to have busted a 15-member gang of robbers by arresting its eight members. The gang was wanted by the police for a looting spree in the Adampur police station area on the night of May 15, when they had struck at four deras in the area and looted cash and other articles.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that on night of May 15, four deras situated on the peripheries of Dhogri and Jandu Singha villages were looted by a gang of 15 masked persons. They were armed with “gandasis”, iron rods and dangs. The gang first struck after midnight at the dera of Avtar Singh in Dhogri village where they injured his servants — Prem Paswan, Shshil Paswan and Ram Bharose — and looted cash and wrist watches. Then they went to the deras of Agya Ram, Ved Prakash of Dhogri village and Gurdip Singh of Jandu Singha village. The robbers had looted a sum Rs 36,000, some wrist watches and household articles from the deras.

A case in this connection was registered at Adampur. Yesterday evening following a tip-off a naka was laid on the bridge of the canal passing through Dhogri village and eight persons were arrested who have been identified as Budhu, Jeet Ram, Vinod, Chiriya, David, Gopal, all residents of Dhogri village, Pramod and Raju of Bihar.

A country-made pistol was seized from the possession of Raju and a knife was seized from Budhu. Iron rods and dangs were also recovered from the possession of others. An amount of Rs 5000 was also confiscated from their possession.

They admitted to having committed a robbery at the house of Sohan Singh, gate man of the railway crossing near Jandu Singha village. Other members of the gang included Hansa, Budhu Ashok, Happy, Shammi, Bobby and Gulshan, all residents of Dhogri.


Probe ordered into locking up of students

Moga, May 19
The Punjab police today ordered an inquiry into alleged locking up of eight students of class V of Gandhi Memorial Senior Secondary School, Kotkapura three days ago.

A DSP will submit his report to the SSP within three days.

On inquiry if any body found guilty, a case would be registered, Faridkot SSP Arun Kumar Oraon said here.

The SSP said he had received the complaint from the parents of the students that how the innocent students were kept in separate room as punishment for not doing their home work.

The SSP said the preliminary investigation revealed that the class teacher reported to the principal that these students had not done their home work. On this the principal asked the teacher to keep these students confined in an adjoining room. PTI


Teaching shops’ cashing in on B.Ed trend
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
With the controversy over the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) test for the academic session 2001-02 finally being solved the city has seen a sudden increase in the number of coaching centres trying to attract students.

Over the past few years the city has emerged as the largest coaching centre for the medical and engineering entrance exams. Now the city has witnessed a rapid growth of institutes claiming good and ‘sure’ results in the ‘latest’ trend for the students — the B.Ed test.

The hype over the B.Ed entrance test is not very difficult to explain. For the past few months many educationists and even Mr Tota Singh, Minister for Education and Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, have been hinting that the course may be stopped for the next five years. The statements were issued as their ‘personal opinion’ where they said to eradicate the large-scale un-employment of qualified teachers, discontinuation of the course was necessary. Punjabi University, Patiala, will conduct the entrance test this year, on July1. The seat distribution would be according to the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) guidelines.

To cash in on the rush for the ‘prestigious’ degree, more than 20 different coaching centres have come up in all the nooks and corners of the city during the past few days. Some of these centres have even tied up with private hostels in the city and offer additional incentives to the students. The coaching centres have varied modus operandis from inserting pamphlets and posters to personal contacts and even mailing letters to students. Most of the students who received such letters from these academies and centres have expressed concern over the trend. A group of girls who had received these letters alleged that their addresses were ‘sold’ by their respective colleges for a meagre sum. “The matter should be inquired into”, they demanded.

Some of these ‘teaching shops’ have inserted pamphlets in newspapers making claims that more than 200 students were selected last year after being ‘trained’ in their academies. The claim was made along with photographs. The centres also claimed to be more than a decade old. However, it is not known if these centres who are claiming that more than 200 of their students were selected last year had filed their income tax returns genuinely.

The fees being charged for a one month and half course ranges from Rs 2000 to Rs 2500, for which some of these centres do not issue receipts. Others which do, have got the receipts printed in names which sound similar to their centres and unaware students generally do not bother about it. Estimates reveal that in a short span of about two months the total ‘business generated by B.Ed. courses is more than Rs 10 lakh in the city, not including satellite towns.

Not only the private academies and coaching centres but even the government is not averse to ‘looting’ students in the name of entrance tests. Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, who was here last month, in connection with a function at the government college, had admitted the total receipts from B.Ed entrance run to about Rs 4.5 crores.


PUTA stir uncalled for: Front
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 19
The Teachers Welfare Front of Punjabi University and the World Sikh Intellectual Council today urged the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) to keep the larger interest of the teachers in mind and not resort to dharnas when a ‘’favoured few’’ did not get promotions.

In a statement here, Teachers Welfare Forum Convener Tara Singh Antal said PUTA ‘s allegation that two teachers were not given promotion following interviews held recently as they did not attend “lunches and dinners” hosted at the behest of the Vice-Chancellor was baseless and false. He said his front had hosted a lunch on the last day of the academic session during which a Kavi Darbar was also organised in which young budding teachers alongwith the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia had recited their compositions.

Mr Antal said the purpose of this function was to be together on the last day and depart on a happy note to reassemble in July with “vigour and vitality”. He said this lunch and Kavi Darbar had nothing to do with the selection process and added that there was no pursuasion from the authorities to organise the lunch.

The front Convener said PUTA was blaming a section of the teaching community for the rejection of the two teachers even though the authorities had started the process of selections in a vigorous manner keeping in mind the seniority of the candidates. He said rejections had taken place earlier also but PUTA had never resorted to dharnas on the issue. He said the announcement of the agitation now when a few favourites of the organisation had been rejected, seemed to be a sinister design to stop the process of selections.

In a separate release the World Sikh Council in a meeting presided over by Mr Baldev Singh Balluana appealed to PUTA not to carry out an indefinite dharna on the issue of promotions of teachers on the campus until the process of promotions under the Career Advancement Scheme was completed.

Mr Balluana said the council members felt that while the promotion process was going on smoothly in Punjabi University and many teachers of the university had been promoted, the PUTA President Dr B.S. Khaira, and his associates were bent upon disturbing the academic atmosphere on the campus. 


DEO’s transfer ‘not’ as per rules
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
A cross-section of educationists of the city yesterday said the transfer of Mr Gurdev Singh, District Education Officer (DEO), was not according to the rules.

In a press note signed by Mr Maggar Singh, president of Guru Kashi Vikas Manch, Talwandi Sabo, Mr Mann Singh, Dalit Sena spokesman, Dr Naresh, secretary, People Intellectual Forum, Mr Ram Singh, vice-president, Anti-corruption Cell and Mr Surinder Singh Gill of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Trust, said as per the notification of the government, no employee who had to retire in the near future could be transferred.

They said the DEO who had to retire in November was feeling humiliated.

They said they had spoken to local ministers and it was found that none of them had recommended the transfer.


Never-ending circle of tuitions
Gayatri Rai

“My day starts at 6 a.m. and I go for my first tuition at 6.30 a.m. At 7.30 a.m. I return home and within 25 minutes get ready for school. In the evening, I go for more tuitions from 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. and back home around 8.45 p.m.,” says Khushboo Patel, a student of plus two, who is also attending coaching classes for her medical entrance test.

Anshuman Dogra, student of plus one, said his schedule was very hectic. “I go to school early in the morning and come back at 2 p.m. I hardly get an hour’s rest and attend tuitions up to 6 p.m. and then it is time for homework,” says he. Shikha Khosla, student of plus two, said the plus two students had to bear the additional burden of appearing for competitive examinations alongwith their plus two exams. “There is no time to pursue hobbies or a social life; I have to keep on studying until I get admission in a good engineering college”, she added.

The story is common to almost all teenagers who after their board examinations join various career coaching classes. For them life becomes a never-ending circle of tuitions, school, homework and extra coaching classes.

Even when the final examinations are a year away, they slog day and night preparing for various competitive examinations. They have little time to relax. On an average they spend 13 hours a day studying and in hopping from one tuition class to another. The situation is worse for those teenagers who belong to nearby villages and have to come to the city for their tuitions and school. After spending 15 hours in classes and tuitions, they do their homework in the remaining hours with little time left for themselves.

Mr Prem Kumar, professor in a local college, said the students had to prepare for two kinds of syllabi on different patterns, one for the board exams and the other for entrance tests. It added to their burden. The problem could be solved by changing the syllabus of one examination, he added.

Ms Anuradha Kumar, a psychologist, said students were finding it difficult to follow such a hectic schedule, with no time for relaxation. Studying for about 15 hours a day burdened their minds and was affecting their health. They were totally cut off from any social life and the outer world which was making them more self-centered and less talkative. Their interaction with the members of their families and friends was also decreasing.

Parents should try to understand the aptitudes of their children and should not force them to join a particular stream of studies. It would be better if they consulted a counselor before joining a particular course of studies, Ms Kumar added.

It was easy to blame teachers and parents for the stress these teenagers were bearing. Due to the increasing burden of studies, teenagers seemed to get more depressed and suicidal, especially when they found that they were not fulfilling the expectations of their parents and were left behind in the race of ‘achievers’, a leading psychiatrist of the city said.


Teachers hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 19
The Government Teachers Union, Punjab, took out a protest rally in front of the District Education Office, pressing for its demands for framing permanent rules for transfers and promotions, transparency in appointments, removal of anomalies in pay scales and time-bound promotions. They also demanded all vacant posts should be filled. The rally was addressed by Mr Sucha Singh, president of the Government Teachers Union, and Mr Dina Nath Chohan, general secretary of the state unit.


Rain hits sale of water-melon
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 19
Even as heavy downpour in the region has brought some relief to people reeling under the scorching heat, melon and water-melon sellers are finding it hard to cope with it. The rainfall brought down mercury levels that had touched 40°C in the past few days and with it sale of the fruit has also reduced.

Water-melons and melons had flooded the market and were attracting customers in large numbers due to its prices, thus affecting the sale of other fruits adversely.

Heat wave that had gripped the region and forced the residents to have the fruit has subsided. As a result demand for melons and water-melons increased and the sellers earned huge profits, till the rain played spoilsport.

Melons and water-melons brought from Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts by the wholesale fruit-sellers or by farmers themselves and sold in the local market at retail prices.

Water-melons and melons are being sold at Rs 200 per quintal and at Rs 3 to 5 per kg.

A fruit-seller, Jupinder Pal Singh, said melon cost them about Rs 8 per kg if the cost of labour and vehicle engaged in selling was taken into account. The rainfall was detrimental to their business, he said. Another fruit-seller said the rain had reduced their income by 40 per cent. They would have to sell the fruit at a loss to lure customers.

Dr K.S. Brar of the local Civil Hospital, when contacted, said the reason that the fruit was avoided in the rainy season was that it could cause gastro-enteritis.

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