Thursday, August 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


R E G I O N A L   B R I E F S

  • The ‘kala pani’ of Himachal

  • A paen for Punjabiat

  • The ‘power’ behind the CM


MEETING: The proceedings of the general body meeting of the BSNL Employees’ Union, held here on Tuesday were released to the Press on Wednesday. According to it, the union demanded cancellation of transfers of Mr Prahlad Singh from Amloh, Mr Prem Singh from Chanarthal Kalan and Mr Som Nath from Hussainpura exchange. The union also decided to launch an agitation in case the transfers were not cancelled. Copies of the resolution were sent to the minister concerned and union headquarters.

TRIBUTES PAID: The local RSS unit today paid tributes to Mr Sham Lal, Mr Kanti Sain Gupta, Mr Dinkar Nath and Mr Sudhakar Chakravarti, all “pracharaks” kidnapped by the National Liberation Front of Tripura on August 6, 1999. The Tripura Government declared them as killed only recently (July 28). Speaking on the occasion, Mr Pardeep Garg, district president of the RSS, alleged that the NLFT had been indulging in terrorist activities since 1980s to convert Hindus to Christians. People belonging to Hindu community were not allowed to display pictures of their Gods/Goddesses in their houses and women were not allowed to put on bangles or ‘sindoor’. Mr Garg demanded imposition of total ban on the NLFT by the Central Government.

EX GRATIA GRANT: Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said in a press note here on Wednesday that the state government has decided to give ex gratia grant to the kin of those killed by militants. The grant and maintenance allowance would be given to the kin of SPOs, home guards and those whose family members were killed by the militants before 1990-1991.

TIPNIS’ VISIT: Air Chief Marshal Anil Yashwant Tipnis will visit the Bathinda Air Force station on August 10. He will be accompanied by his wife and president of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association, Ms Molina Tipnis. This was stated by the station authorities in a press note here on Wednesday.

DENTAL CAMP: A dental care camp was organised at a school of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here on Wednesday. Mr U.S. Lucky, General Manager of the plant, inaugurated the camp. About 400 schoolchildren were examined by Dr J.L. Jindal and Dr S. Goyal of the local Civil Hospital.

ATTACKED: Anil Kumar, a contractor of the city, was injured when four persons him allegedly attacked him in the Birla Mill area here on Monday. Police officials said a case would be registered in this connection.

STOLEN: Thieves reportedly stole about Rs 70,000 in cash, a VCR and VCP from a shop in the local Dhobi bazar on Monday. Police officials said a case would be registered in this regard.

ALLEGED: Mr Madan Lal Kapoor and Mr Bimal Gupta, state president and patron of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, respectively, alleged in a press note here on Tuesday that the government’s step to abolish octroi in the state from August 15 was to woo the business community in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections. The mandal would contest elections from 25 Assembly constituencies and the list of the candidates was likely to be released next month, they added.

RPI CONFERENCE: The Republican Party of India will hold a state-level political conference here on August 11. Stating this here on Tuesday, Mr Sukhdev Singh Pandhi, state general secretary of the party, added that speakers at the conference would emphasise the sanctity of the Constitution and review the national economic policies.

PENSIONERS’ DEMANDS: A deputation of the Punjab Government Pensioners Association, led by its president, Mr O.P. Gabha, submitted a memorandum to the Irrigation Minister, Punjab, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, for the consideration of the Chief Minister. In the memorandum, the association requested the government to immediately implement their already accepted demands which included old-age allowance and revision of cost of dentures and hearing aids.

SMUGGLER HELD: The police has arrested Daljit Singh who was wanted in a case under the NDPS Act and seized 40 kg of poppy husk. The SSP, Mr H.s. Sidhu, said the police was on the lookout for Daljit Singh for the past two months when his accomplices were arrested while trying to smuggle 18 bags of poppy husk in a truck, but he managed to give the slip.

BASIC AMENITIES: The Punjab Government will spend Rs 32 crore to provide basic amenities to the residents of border villages along the zero line. Stating this during tour of border villages, Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, said all farmers having land holdings across the fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border will be given a compensation of Rs 3,000 per acre each by the state government.

OFFICE-BEARERS: The following have been chosen office-bearers of the District Brahman Sabha: chairman — Mr Ajay Joshi; patrons —Mr Satpal Mola Fazilka, Mr Munshi Ram Zira and Mr Kewal Krishan Jalalabad, president — Mr Ravinder Kumar Ravi of Gur Har Sahai; and vice-presidents — Mr Manmohan Kali Abohar and Mr Madanlal Sharma of Vajitpur.

CONDEMNED: The Akhil Bharatiya Kalyan Manch and the Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojna Samiti here have condemned the kidnapping and murder of four preachers of the Suyam Sidh Sanyasi Sangh by the National Liberation Front of Tripura.

ELECTED: The following have been elected office-bearers of the local LIC Pensioners Association: president — Mr Ram Bhalla; senior vice-president — Mr Karamjit Singh; vice-president — Mr P.P. Mehta; secretary — Mr Gurdial Sharma; joint secretary — Mr M.L. Chawla and treasurer — Mr P.N. Sharma.

BRIBERY CASE: A case under Section 8/9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against Sukhdev Singh of Bainsa village and Joginder Singh of Kotla village for offering a bribe of Rs 1 lakh to Mr Sital Singh, Station House Officer, Mahilpur police, on Sunday for favouring a person in a murder case registered on July 27. Instead of taking the bribe, Mr Sital Singh registered a case against these persons.

BOOKED: On a complaint of Paramjit Kumar of the Salwara locality here, the Sadar police on Monday registered a case under Sections 420, 406 and 506, IPC, against Gulshan Gabha of Goraya. According to police sources, Gulshan allegedly took Rs 2 lakh from him for sending him abroad. Paramjit Kumar was sent to Greece illegally where he was arrested and later deported to India.

CASE REGISTERED: On a complaint of Renu Balla of Gambowal, the Dasuya police on Monday registered a case under Sections 498A, 323, 506 and 34, IPC, against her husband Tajinder Singh, brother-in-law Lucky, father-in-law Mehar Singh and mother-in-law Rajinder Kaur of Khiala, New Delhi. She alleged that soon after her marriage they started torturing her for not bringing more dowry.

RESENTMENT PREVAILS: Resentment prevails among students of Tractor Mechanic Trade of ITI, Garhshankar, against the authorities concerned for providing them with a question paper on the mechanic diesel theory instead of their own trade in the recent annual examination. They have submitted a representation to the Secretary, examination, branch of the Technical Training Department, Punjab, in this connection.

CELEBRATED: A function was organised by Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, State Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, at the local Bibi Tani Nursing Hostel on Tuesday to mark the Teej. Giddha was performed and sweets and fruits were distributed among participants.

APPOINTED: Mr. Nasim Ansari, president, Mulsim Aman Society, Punjab, has been appointed Chairman of the Ludhiana Congress Urban’s Minority Department , according to an intimation from the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee’s minority department.

CONDOLENCE MEETING: The Government School Lecturer Union organised a condolence meeting at Government Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar, to mourn over the demise of Prof Vijay Sharma, who was working as lecturer of economics. Prof Sukhdan Singh Rana, president of the union, presided over the meeting and Mr Gurdial Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Dr Jarnail Singh, Prof Subhash Singla and Prof Tejwant Singh Pandher were also present at the occasion. Antim ardas of Prof Sharma will be held on August 14 afternoon at Gurudwara Sant Ishar Singh, Bhagwan Chowk, said the union members.

ELECTED: The following have been elected office-bearers of the Patarkar Union of Bareta town in the district: patron — Mr Madan Lal Garg; president — Mr Harmesh Singla; vice-president — Mr Sanjay Mahajan; general secretary — Mr Sohan Lal Goyal and secretary — Mr Ratan Lal Goyal.

ONE ARRESTED: The district police has arrested four persons in connection with the murder of Mangail Singh of Bhaloor village. Stating this here on Tuesday, the SSP, Dr Sharad Satya Chauhan, said the main accused Inder Singh who allegedly committed the murder was still absconding.

EYE CAMP: As many as 16 blind persons of the district regained their eyesight after getting treatment at a special eye camp organised here by the Moga Eye Bank Society. The SSP, Dr Sharad Satya Chauhan and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, removed the bandages tied on the eyes of the patients.

RURAL MEETINGS: The Senior Superintendent of Police, Dr Sharad Satya Chauhan, told mediapersons here on Monday that it had been decided to hold rural meetings in the district to solve problems of people.

MEETING HELD: The executive body meeting of the district unit of the Punjab State Aided Teachers and other Employees Union was held at Doaba Arya Senior Secondary School here on Monday under the chairmanship of Mr H.R. Sharma. He and Dr Gurmit Singh Sra, president and general secretary of the union, respectively, in a press note said that though the government had issued a notification in March, 1999, saying that pension to the retired teachers would be paid as per new scales, the pension cases prepared as per the new scales had not been accepted by the department concerned.

DEMANDED: Residents of the Baghapurana town, 15 km from here, on Wednesday complained that a pond in the town was stinking as carcasses of animals, including pigs, were floating on the sullage water of the tank. They have demanded that immediate steps be taken by the local Municipal Committee in this connection.

ONE ARRESTED: The district police has arrested four persons in connection with the murder of Mangail Singh of Bhaloor village. Stating this here on Tuesday, the SSP, Dr Sharad Satya Chauhan, said the main accused Inder Singh who allegedly committed the murder was still absconding.

EYE CAMP: As many as 16 blind persons of the district regained their eyesight after getting treatment at a special eye camp organised here by the Moga Eye Bank Society. The SSP, Dr Sharad Satya Chauhan and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, removed the bandages tied on the eyes of the patients.

FUNCTION HELD: The Lions Club City Smile, Banga, organised a function at Chak Kalal village, about 15 km from here, on Tuesday. Thirty metres of cloth, 201 thread rolls, 30 knitting frames were distributed among girls of a sewing training centre being run by the District Literacy Society, said Ms Santokh Jassi.

DHARNA HELD: Teachers of middle schools of Banga block in the district held a dharna in front of the local treasury, about 13 km from here, in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the past two months. Mr Pardeep Singh Gill, a teacher, criticised the government for its failure to give salaries to the teachers in time.

APPOINTED: Mr Manmeet S.P. Singh, chairman of the Artistic Manifestation of World Cultural Heritage Committee, has been appointed national representative of India during a meeting held here on Wednesday.

OFFICE-BEARERS: The following have been elected office-bearers of the Pratap Nagar Sudhar Sabha Committee: president — Mr Hardiyal Singh Bhatti; vice-presidents — Mr Balvir Singh Kharor, Mr Iqbal Singh Virk, Mr Ram Saran Das and Mr Jasbinder Singh; general secretary — Mr Kulwant Singh; joint secretaries — Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Lajpat Rai and Mr Chamanpal Singh; and treasurer — Mr Dharam Singh Hundal.

TEEJ CELEBRATIONS: Blossoms School organised a Teej function here on Wednesday. Various competitions were held on the occasion. Performance of the students was judged by Ms B.M. Singh, Principal of the school and Mrs Bedi, coordinator of the function. Priyanka Gogia and Jasleen were adjudged Teej queens. Jaspreet won the first prize in dry flower competition. In the rangoli, Supinder and Priyanka bagged the first two positions. Harpreet and Amanpreet won the Rakhi making competition. Bharat Mittal and Amit bagged the fresh flower jewellry competition. The function concluded with a Haryanvi dance.

OCTROI ISSUE: The abolition of octroi by the Punjab Government from August 15 has been condemned by the Punjab Nagar Palika Karamchari Mahasangh during a meeting held here on Wednesday. A press note stated that employees would hold dharnas and rallies in protest against the move. Another meeting of the sangh would be held at Jalandhar on August 19 to discuss the issue.

AFFILIATION: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has selected three colleges affiliated to Punjabi University, namely Patel Memorial National College, Rajpura, Khalsa College, Patiala, and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Arya Mahila College, Barnala, for starting vocational courses in computer applications and computer maintenance. Giving this information, Dr Janak Raj Gupta, Dean, College Development Council of Punjabi University, said each college would get a grant of Rs 17 lakh to meet the recurring and non-recurring expenditure for five years.

NEW CONG CHIEF: Mr Ashok Prashar has replaced Mr Madan Mohan Bajaj as president, Block Congress Committee (Urban), Phagwara. While DCC general secretary Balvir Raja Sodhi on Wednesday claimed that Mr Bajaj was removed from presidentship, Mr Bajaj asserted that he had resigned in protest against the failure of the party to take action against Congress councillor Kusum Sharma and her supporters for creating ruckus in August 5 rally of the party here.

CREMATED: M.P. Kohli (59), officiating Principal of SBDSM Khalsa College, Domeli, who died here on Tuesday, was cremated on Wednesday. Mr Surjit Singh of the local gurdwara Sukhchaina Sahib placed a shawl on Kohli’s body on behalf of the SGPC.

VANA MAHOTSAVA: The Shaheed Surjit Singh Youth Club and Behlolpur Gram Panchayat organised vana-mahotsava on Wednesday. About 500 saplings were planted. Capt Sukhwinder Singh Brar, SDM, Samrala, inaugurated the function by planting the first sapling. He appealed to the persons gathered there to plant two saplings each. Captain Brar also explained in detail various schemes, like shagun scheme and old-age and widow pension schemes. A memento was also presented to him by the club and panchayat members.

DANGAL: A dangal will be organised at Kulewal village, 5 km from here, on August 13, according to Mr Prem Singh and Mr Sher Singh, sarpanch and lambardar of the village, respectively. Only those wrestlers who are below the age of 40 years would be allowed to take part in the competition, they said, adding that cash and attractive prizes would also be given to the winners.

GOVT FLAYED: The employees working in ITIs of Punjab are upset over the “anti-employee” policies of the government. Talking to the mediapersons here on Wednesday, Mr Manjot Singh Dhoot, secretary, State ITI Employees’ Union, alleged that the government was not bothered about their demands. He said main demands included a pay scale of Rs 5,800-Rs 9,200 for all instructors, adjustment of Class IV employees in Class III posts, release of pay to the employees working under plan scheme, implementation of court orders applicable to hostel superintendents and English teachers, etc. Mr Dhoot added that if 500 posts of instructors lying vacant were not filled, it would affect about 8,000 students who would be unable to get proper training. He also opposed the move to privatise ITIs. Mr Dhoot appealed to the Chief Minister to accept the demands of the employees, otherwise they would be compelled to start an agitation in the first week of September.

STRIKE: The local Bar Association observed a one-day strike on Wednesday in protest against the demolition of old courts complex by PUDA. At a meeting held here under the presidentship of Mr M.G. Prasher, the lawyers decided to meet the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court with the demand to issue a stay order till a new place was allotted for the complex.

FELICITATED: The Shaheed Karnail Singh Youth Club felicitated Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli and Mr Tejpal Singh on Wednesday on their election as secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress and vice-president of the PPCC, respectively. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kotli said barsi of Late Mr Beant Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab, would be observed at Payal on August 31.

NOMINATION: Mr Navamarbir Singh Pannu, son of Mr Balbir Singh Pannu, senior vice-president, SGPC, along with hundreds of his supporters on Tuesday filed his nomination papers for the post of sarpanch of the Naushehra Pannuan gram panchayat for which election will be held on August 19.


TRIBUTES PAID: The local unit of the RSS organised a “shrdhanjali samaroh” to pay tributes to the four RSS workers of Tripura, who were killed by extremists recently, at the Parshu Ram Bhavan in Sector 37 here on Wednesday. Prominent among those, who paid tributes were Justice J.V. Gupta, regional sanchalak (northern) of the RSS, Mr Parsann Kumar, parcharak of the Chandigarh region, Mr R.C. Jewan, Principal of the local DAV College, Mr Pavitar Singh Namdhari and Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP.

NSS CAMP: A one-day NSS camp was organised by the Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45, here on Wednesday. Prof Ramesh Kapoor, Dean, College Development Council of Panjab University, was the chief guest on the occasion. Nearly 100 saplings were planted on the occasion. Talks were also delivered in connection with Road Safety Week.

SAPLING PLANTATION: Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) will plant a sapling in the GMCH, Sector 32, on Thursday as part of the ongoing van mahotsava in the institute. According to the Medical Superintendent, GMCH, Prof Raj Bahadur, senior UT Administration officials, faculty members and students of the GMCH will participate in the function.

HIKE CONDEMNED: The private House Owners’ Welfare Association, Sector 11, condemned the proposed water and sewerage tariff hike, here on Wednesday. The office-bearers of the association said the hike was exorbitant. They urged the Haryana Urban Development Authority to reconsider its decision and withdraw the proposed hike.


MC SUB-COMMITTEES: Three subcommittees of the Municipal Council, Ambala Sadar, were unanimously constituted here on Wednesday. The members of the finance subcommittee include Mr Narendra Sharma, Mr Anil Nagar, Ms Neelam Sharma and Ms Bhagwati Devi. The works subcommittee includes Mr Jasbir Singh, Ms Beena Sharma, Mr Lalita Prasad and Ms Sunila Vig. The cleanliness subcommittee includes Mr Nirmal Aggarwal, Mr Gokulesh, Ms Mohindro and Mr Rajkumar Aggarwal.

FELICITATED: Dr R.S. Paroda, Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, was felicitated by Chaudhry Charan Singh Agricultural University here on Tuesday. He has been appointed Head of the Facilitation unit of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research for Central Asia. Mr Vinay Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, described Dr Paroda as a science administrator par excellence.

TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS: The capacity of the local telephone exchange is being expanded and telephone connections to the subscribers will be available on demand in the city by October-end this year. This was stated by Mr Manoj Kumar Singh, Telecom District Manager, while talking to mediapersons here on Tuesday. A new 1000-line telephone exchange was being set-up at the local Patiala chowk, he added.

ORDER: Apprehending strikes from the gang of Kale Kachhewale, the District Magistrate, Mr Abhilaksh Likhi, has promulgated Section 3 of the Punjab Village and Small Town Patrol Act, 1918, ordering all able-bodied adult male villagers in the district to perform patrol duties at night. The order had been enforced with immediate effect and would remain in force till further orders, Mr Likhi said.

POTABLE WATER: The district administration has spent Rs 2.6 crore on augmenting availability of potable water in 11 villages during the past two years. Stating this here on Tuesday, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anil Malik, added that the availability of piped water was being increased from 40 to 55 litres per capita per day.

REVIEWED: A delegation of the Union Agriculture Ministry visited the district to review the cotton crop situation and progress made under the Mini Mission-II of the Technology Mission on Cotton Crop. The delegation comprised the Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr A.K. Chauhan, the Director of Agriculture, Haryana, Mr Rajeev Arora, the Director, the Directorate of Cotton Development, Mumbai, Dr A.M. Narula, former Director, the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur, Dr M.S. Kairon, besides scientists from Chaudhary Charan Singh Agriculture University, Hisar, and the local CICR.

CASH STOLEN: A sum of Rs 1.08 lakh and two gold bangles were allegedly stolen from the house of an SDO in the PWD (B&R) Colony here on Tuesday. None of the members of the family was reportedly present in the house when the theft occurred.

BODY RECOVERED: The Kharkhauda police found the decomposed body of Pankaj, an eight-year-old boy, from a field at Sehoti village, about 20 km from here, on Tuesday. The victim had reportedly been missing since Rakhsha Bandhan. A case has been registered.

SANCTIONED: The Board of National Capital Region has sanctioned a financial assistance of Rs 7 crore for strengthening fire services in 16 towns and cities of Haryana. The state government will reportedly provide all necessary fire-fighting equipment to 40 out of 68 civic bodies during this financial year.

BODY FOUND: A body of 60-year-old man, whose one hand and one leg were amputated, was recovered by the police on Tuesday. According to the police, the person was named Sheelpuri and was residing at the cremation ground at Jourian, near here. The body had been sent for postmortem examination.


OXYGEN BANK: The Rotary Club has opened an oxygen bank here for patients. The bank was inaugurated by the district governor of the club, Mr Subhash Garg, here on Monday. According to Dr K.K. Jain, president of the club, a nominal fee of Rs 100 will be charged for hiring the cylinder for 10 days.

SAPLINGS PLANTED: The State Bank of Patiala organised a vanmahotsava on the premises of Women’s Polytechnic College, Kandaghat, on Tuesday. About 150 saplings were planted. Mr I.D. Sharma, Principal of the college, and Mr Aman Singh, Branch Manager of the bank, urged the students to protect the plants.

OFFICE-BEARERS: The following have been elected office-bearers of the HPSEB Employees Union, Unit 3: president — Mr Khem Singh Thakur; senior vice-presidents — Mr Amar Nath and Mr Bhupinder Dutt; vice-presidents — Mr Krishan Chand, Mr Surat Ram, Mr Thumbi Ram, Mr Devi Ram and Mr Jagar Nath; secretary — Mr Vishwa Dev; and treasurer — Mr Durga Singh.

LIVESTOCK SHOW: Mr S.S. Parmar, Financial Commissioner-cum-Secretary, the Department of Animal Husbandry, on Tuesday said the 55th Northern Regional Livestock and Poultry Show would be held from October 7 to 10 at Palampur in Kangra district. Presiding over a meeting in this connection, he said the show was being sponsored by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the Government of India, and would be organised by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Himachal Pradesh.


The ‘kala pani’ of Himachal

TIPRI, a sleepy hamlet in Jaswan subdivision of Kangra district with a rich history, has earned the dubious distinction of being Himachal’s ‘‘kala pani’’. During the days of the Raj, this outlying village enjoyed all basic amenities which, comprised a primary school, a health centre and a post office.

“Those were the days when we were cared for. Tipri fell on bad days after we became free from alien hegemony. The oft-quoted expression ‘azadi’, has brought us nothing but misery, exploitation, despair and disillusionment”, says Mangat Ram, a septuagenarian who has seen this village grow.

Notwithstanding the state government’s tall claims to link even the remotest of the villages by road, Tipri remains without a road even 50 years after Independence. So much so there is not even a jeepable ‘‘kutcha’’ road, in the absence of which residents have to cover long distances to reach their destinations. A survey on the proposed road has been conducted so many times, but nothing tangible has come out. The road would connect Tipri with Bathu, Bathra, Chaplah, Chanaur and its neighbouring villages.

Since there is no health centre here, residents have to suffer in stoic silence. It turns out to be a nightmarish experience when they have to carry a patient or a pregnant woman in critical condition to the nearest hospitals at Dada Siba (15 km) or Dehra (20 km). More often than not, they have to be carried in palanquins. They have to first reach Chanaur by wading through knee-deep water of the Tipri-Chanaur khud which swells at the slightest downpour and takes days to recede. In such a situation they have no choice but cover this 4-km long, and lonely stretch at their own risk.

Incredible as it may sound, Tipri has no school, which is a cause of concern for residents of this ‘‘kala pani’’. A majority of the village youth, especially girls, is deprived of their right to education, as no sane parent would like to send their wards to schools at Bathu, Bathra, Chanaur which are far away. Hardpressed by circumstances as they are, they have started moving out of Tipri and settling down elsewhere.

The other problems that dog Tipri are those of power and banking. The residents have to walk miles to deposit their electricity bills or lodge a complaint regarding a breakdown. For banking purposes, they have to shuttle between Tipri and Dhaliara or Badhal Thore.

Besides a host of other reasons, the finger of accusation is pointed at the elected representatives for turning their little village into a ‘kala pani’. They tour the area during their hectic electioneering tours and announce packages for the integrated development of Tipri; which remains to be seen. They make promises which they seldom keep.

A paen for Punjabiat

In the recent death of Ms Kulwant Kaur (54), mother of Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, president of the Folklore Research Academy, Punjab has lost a brave woman who stood vigil against terrorist attacks in her village Talwandi Sipahi Mal during the peak of militancy.

Mr Bhupinder Singh was a member of the CPI (M-L) in 1983 when Communists were targeted. The village formed a self-defence force and conducted day and night vigil (by rotation) to thwart any attack from terrorists. In case of slackness during night vigil, Kulwant herself used to take a gun and remain on vigil throughout the night. This had earned her respect, especially from village women who not only came to her with petty squabbles and marital discord cases but also for moral support while facing adversities in life. Despite occasional encounters with terrorists, Kulwant always stood for Punjabiat and felt that the loss of life whether a terrorist or not was a loss for Punjab, recalls her son.

On the occasion of her bhog, villagers showered praises on her bravery. What really brought her immense pain was when her daughter-in-law (Mr Sandhu’s wife ) died of heart failure when terrorists were about to gun him down.

The ‘power’ behind the CM

The venue was Delhi. The occasion was a conference in which power ministers and officials of the Union and state governments gathered to chalk out power policies and strategies. In between the break, a dark looking man in a light gray suit— the Chief Secretary of a southern state— held the hand of a spectacled gentleman, and took him to a corner. This man tells his Chief Minister, “Sir, meet him, he is Harsh Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary and HPSEB Chairman. “The response of that Chief Minister was very warm and with a gleaming blushing face. He said: “Oh ! you are Harsh Gupta, considered the powerman of Himachal Pradesh.”

Suddenly a dhoti-clad power minister of a northern state joined in and added another new enconium: “Harsh’s electrifying contribution to the Himachal’s power sector in the past one year is really remarkable and full of such colourful achievements that he is today called “Shaktiman” of the power sector in India, particularly in his state, Himachal Pradesh.”

The instant response of that Chief Minister was — “Harsh I would like to give you an open offer, would you like to serve my state?” The reply from Harsh was instant and he became little emotional and said: “Sir, thanks a lots for your kind gesture. Though I belong to Delhi, and am from the IAS cadre of Himachal Pradesh, I was born in Dehra Dun, the adjoining hill state, now called Uttaranchal. My brother is currently the Chief Secretary of the new state. But I have spent 90 per cent of my childhood and professional career in H.P. Hence I cannot dream of anything but Himachal and see it grow and prosper. Though I am physically before you, my heart and soul is permanently in H.P. “The Chief Minister also became emotional and patted Harsh on his shoulders and told — “your love towards H.P. is unparalleled. You are a true son of the soil of H.P. I am sure, your Chief Minister must be lucky to own a proud shaktiman like you.”

There was a lot of dramatic, flimsy political pressure tactics to supersede Mr Harsh Gupta for the top-notch post of Chief Secretary. When all this hi-tech drama failed they even went to the extent of telling the CM that the candidate was so simple that he did not even wear a suit! But all this fell on deaf ears. At last though quite late, Mr P.K. Dhumal had taken this decision and the result — now his government is bound to take a leap forward. Moreover at this very crucial juncture at the general administration, which is in a lackadaisical shape, shall be positively geared.

The track record of Harsh Gupta is like a live rainbow. He has served in the Union Ministries of Steel, Mines, Defence Production and Commerce. In all these capacities he has excelled and did innovative things which later became popular. His stint as Additional Chief Secretary and HPSEB Chairman in the past 13 months has been with distinction. Several MoUs were signed and power projects set up. And Himachal’s 21,000 MW potential target shall soon be harnessed.

A 89-year-old freedom fighter who had come to congratulate Harsh said: “ I only wish if P.K. Dhumal had appointed Harsh Gupta as CS three years ago all development activities initiated by him would have been fulfilled. In a nutshell he has been given and acquired a goods train, it has to be made and run like a Shatabdi.

Contributed by Ramesh Dhiman, Rashmi Talwar and Illa Bali

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