Monday, October 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab not to complete SYL canal: Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced that the Sutlej-Yamuna link (SYL) canal would not be completed at any cost as the state did not have even a drop of surplus water to be given to any other state.

Mr Badal reiterated that his government and the party would continue to fight for the fair adjudication of inter-state river water dispute. He alleged that the Congress was the ‘biggest enemy’ of Punjab and Punjabis as it had withdrawn the case which was filed before the Supreme Court by the Shiromani Akali Dal. It may be mentioned here that the then Chief Minister, Darbara Singh, had to withdraw the petition on the inter-state water issue from the apex court under pressure from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mr Badal who had come here to conduct a “sangat darshan” said that with the installation of the statue of Devi Lal, former Deputy Prime Minister, at Killianwali in Punjab should not be construed as selling out the state’s interest to the adjoining state. “We are very firm on fair adjudication of the inter-state river water dispute and transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas into the state”, he said. Mr Badal tried to clarify that the statue of the former Deputy Prime Minister was installed as a matter of goodwill. “There was a time when Punjabis were hated in the rest of the country, but with the formation of the SAD-BJP government, Punjab was able to earn a lot of respect in whole of the country”.

Meanwhile, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal received a shot in the arm when Mr Kirpal Singh, a former Member of Parliament and President, Chief Khalsa Dewan, joined SAD in the presence of Mr Badal. Mr Kirpal Singh remained an eminent Janata Party leader and is a likely SAD candidate from Amritsar (south) constituency during the forthcoming Assembly elections. With this, Mr Badal has set at rest all speculations about the probability of candidate in this constituency. Interestingly, there was virtually a ‘banner war’ at the venue of “sangat darshan” as all ticket aspirants had put up big banners to impress the party president.

Mr Badal announced that the ‘open nullah’ of the city would be covered on priority basis at a cost of Rs 30 crore. The work to cover the ‘nullah’ has been entrusted to the Punjab Urban Development Authority. Mr Badal also redressed a number of grievances of the residents. Mr Badal also paid his obeisance at Sri Akal Takht and the Golden Temple.

Mr Badal is likely to camp in the holy city in the coming days to finalise the arrangements for a three-day function to be held here to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which will be attended by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Chief Ministers of various states.


Ex-Jathedar wants Gurdev Badal sacked
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht today sought the immediate expulsion of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, as Agriculture Minister and Senior Vice-President, Shiromani Akali Dal and his son Mr Kewal Singh Badal, as vice-president SGPC for their alleged links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The former Jathedar alleged that photographs of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and his son were published in the controversial book, authored by Baba Bhaniara (now banned by the state government). Mr Kewal Singh Badal had already sought unconditional apology from Akal Takht for having participated in a function organised by Baba Bhaniara. Apart from Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and his son, photographs of many senior Congress and BJP leaders, senior police officials and judicial officers were published in the ‘Bhavsagar Granth ‘authored by Baba Bhaniara.

Criticising the torching of Guru Granth Sahib at Tarkhan Majra village in Fatehgarh Sahib district and some other places by the followers of Baba Bhaniara, Bhai Ranjit Singh said such incidents occurred at the behest of those who wanted to vitiate he peaceful atmosphere of Punjab. Bhai Ranjit Singh sought the immediate transfer of all police officers whose photographs were published in the banned ‘granth’. Even the photograph of a Judicial officer was also published in the Granth.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said if the ruling Akali Dal considered Guru Granth Sahib as ‘living Guru’ then a high-level probe should be ordered by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to unearth the conspiracy behind the burning of Guru Granth Sahib. He, however, appealed to the Sikh sangat to remain peaceful and guard the holy Granth.

The former Jathedar also condemned the ban imposed on SIMI and the arrest of its leaders. He alleged that the sentiments of the Muslims were hurt with the imposition of ban on SIMI. He alleged that the ban was imposed with a view to capturing votes of non-Muslims.


Sikhism to be added to NCERT books
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
“We would definitely like to see that Sikhism receives a fair deal both as a religion and as a movement”.

Responding to the communication of Mr Tarlochan Singh, vice-chairman, National Commission for Minorities, Mr J.S. Rajpur, Director, NCERT, assured that history books would be rewritten so that schoolchildren read about Indian history in the right perspective.

Earlier, the Minister of Human Resource Development agreed to remove “discrimination in school syllabi” as pointed out by the Commission for Minorities. The Human Resource Development Ministry has also committed that the NCERT would issue unambiguous guidelines to all textbook writers for the material the commission (NCERT) is to produce in the current academic year.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had also admitted that “injustice was done to the legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh so far as writing of Indian history was concerned” which addressing a gathering to mark the bicentenary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in New Delhi.

While replying to yet another letter of the commission, the NCERT Director has noted in particular the “ill-treatment” to the Sikh period, revered Gurus, the Sikh kingdom with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the role of Sikhs in the freedom movement. The Director has sought guidelines from the commission to make the requisite changes.

In a communication to the Human Resource Development Minister, the Commission has pointed out that the syllabi of NCERT and other educational authorities have totally excluded the mention of Sikhism which is considered the most modern religion and which India is proud of. He felt that only passing references to the philosophy of Sikhism have been made here and there.

He has observed that while the Marathas have been given three pages, the sacrifices of Guru Teg Bahadur at the hands of Mughals, besides the Sikhs’ role in the freedom struggle have only been barely mentioned.

Highlighting the sacrifices of Sikhs, he said they (Sikhs) are part of the Indian glorious traditions and there is immediate need that the young students should at least be aware of this patriotic community. He said that his demand should not be construed as a “religious demand, but to keep our youth at right path, they should be taught basic lesson of dharma”.

The NCERT has also assured the Minority Commission that “derogatory or objectionable” parts of some controversial books would be deleted. Referring to ‘The Sikh Review’ article in which Mr M.S. Rahi has pointed out that certain books published by the NCERT contained derogatory remarks against Sikh Gurus, he said the commission had sought withdrawal of such books.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said that the younger generation must know the achievements of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who had extended his rule even up to Afghanistan. The absence of any reference to Maharaja Ranjit Singh is regrettable as Indian history could not be properly understood without a fair coverage of Sikhism and contribution, he added.


In search of spiritual solace
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Ratwara Sahib, September 30
The affluence and comforts of the Western world notwithstanding, they frequent the headquarters of the Vishav Gurmat Ruhani Mission here every year to look for spiritual solace.

They are not ordinary people but include some of the academicians, scientists, sportsmen, doctors and professionals who have made a mark for themselves in advanced countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and England.

Assimilated into a culture of universal brotherhood, respect for each other with the sole motive of serving suffering humanity, members of this mission, especially those in the USA, took upon themselves the onerous responsibility of not only collecting blood for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA but also contributed their share monetarily besides volunteering to work for the rescue of those trapped in the debris of the World Trade Center towers.

One of them, triple jumper Olympian Mohinder Gill, a medalist of both the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, now heads the US unit of the mission at Turlock in California.

Mr Balvir Singh Gosal is a scientist at Stanford University in California while Mr Jeewan Singh is now settled in Australia. The others include Mr Satnam Singh Atwal (USA), Ms Rubina Sidhu (USA), Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Chahal (Australia), Mr Paramjit Singh (Canada), Mr Satnam Singh Bains (Canada), Mr Sukhwinder Singh (USA), Mr Avtar Singh (England) and Mrs Sukhdev Kaur Cheema (England).

They are some of the prominent NRIs who are here to participate in the 11th annual samagam of the mission.

“The moment Sant Waryam Singh, founder-President of the mission, heard about this awful tragedy, he directed us to join the local people in rescue and relief operations beside organising blood camps and making donations for the rehabilitation of the victims.

“We contributed US $ 10,000 from the Turlock Sikh Society to the Mayor of the city besides asking all members of the mission to donate blood for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

We also undertook a concerted campaign to educate the average American that Sikhs are for ‘sarbat da bhala’, i.e. welfare of humanity at large. We maintained that we have no ill-will against any religion in general or Islam in particular, besides explaining that we have a separate identity. There were stray cases where Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims and attacked because of their turbans and beards. But we were greatly successful in convincing people that we are as opposed to terrorism as they are as Sikhism was born out of terror let loose by Mughal emperors of that time,” Mr Gill added.

Mr Balvir Singh Gosal said that immediately after the September 11 attacks, he did not go out of his house for some days as a precautionary measure. “Though we have lots of Sikhs working in the university and the area we live in, we were a little cautious. Things have almost normalised in our area,” he said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by other NRIs from the USA who hoped that things would become normal in due course.

They were also unanimous in their view that Guru Granth Sahib or Gurbani had all solutions to the problems of modern society. The most serious of these problems, they said, was hatred which had spread all over the globe.

“Gurbani has universal appeal and it has a solution for ending hatred,” they added.

A fluid situation back home notwithstanding — the USA is their permanent home now — they decided to reach Ratwara Sahib in time for the samagam. They described Sant Waryam Singh as a “scientist Sant” who was able to interpret Gurbani scientifically.


Badal has failed farmers: PPCC
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 30
More than 20,000 persons from all over the district participated in a rally held by the District Congress Committee here today to mark the beginning of a series of rallies to be held by the Congress in the state as part of a PPCC programme. Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, presided.

Addressing the rally, Congress leaders demanded ouster of the SAD-BJP government, in Punjab in the coming Assembly elections. They blamed the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his family for rampant corruption in the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh said it was a matter of great surprise that though Punjab topped in contributing 60 per cent food stocks to the central pool, yet 13.5 lakh families in the state still lived below the poverty line. The FCI has surplus food stocks rotting in its godowns and still there are instances in Punjab of suicides due to starvation, he said.

He said Mr Badal had failed to put up the case of Punjab farmers before the Central Government for enhancing the required price of paddy. Experts of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, had calculated the cost of production of paddy at Rs 700 per quintal, but the price being paid to the farmers has only Rs 560 per quintal. He said it was strange that when the UP Chief Minister put up his case before the Prime Minister, the state was given a package of Rs 3000 crore. This, he said, was done to unable Mr Raj Nath to win the coming Assembly elections.

Mr Moti Lal Vora, general secretary of the AICC, said the NDA government had lowered the image of India at the international level.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, accused the Badal government of failure on the administration, financial and social fronts. She said the Badal government had failed to fulfil the promises made to the people of Punjab in their manifesto during the last Assembly elections. It had indulged in sale of rest houses and government land to amass wealth, she said.

Among others who attended the rally were Mrs Ambika Soni, general secretary, AICC, Mr Natwar Singh, member of the Congress Working Committee and Mr Raghunandan Nath Bhatia, chairman of the campaign committee. 


BJP to seek more seats from SAD
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 30
The Punjab unit of the BJP will impress upon the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal to allot one seat each in Sangrur Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib and Nawanshahr districts in the Assembly elections to its candidates.

This was disclosed by Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, President BJP Punjab, while talking to media persons here today. He said the BJP would contest all 23 seats which it contested in the last state Assembly elections. However, seats could be adjusted with the SAD keeping in view the winning prospects of the candidates. He said an 11-member committee had been constituted for finalising the party ticket. However there was every likelihood that all sitting MLAs would get the party ticket.

Mr Rinwa criticised Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and held him responsible for demolishing of entrance of Gauri Shankar Mahadev Temple, in the Civil Lines area. He said had the Commissioner acted wisely, the situation could be averted. He said Mr Badal had tendered an apology for the incidence. Later Mr Rinwa addressed a rally organised by supporters of Mr Tikshan Sud and district unit of the BJP at Roshan Ground here. Addressing the gathering Mr Narotam Dev Secretary Punjab, BJP said that such rallies were being organised in all 23 segments, where the BJP contested during the Assembly poll Mrs Mohinder Kaur Josh Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Mr Tikshan Sud state Minister for Excise & Taxation, Dr Balbir Kapila vice president Punjab BJP and many other local leaders addressed the rally. Mr Sud provided cheques for Rs 70 lakh to 72 panchayats of the Hoshiarpur segments for various development works.

As many as 1300 BJP workers, including sarpanches and panches were honoured for their contribution towards the development of the constituency.


BJP may kick out Mathra Dass
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Mr Mathra Dass Setia, senior BJP leader, on whose writ petition the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the Punjab Government’s move to abolish octroi, may be disowned by the party’s state leadership.

Informations gathered by TNS revealed that the party’s state high command had directed the local leadership not to make any comment regarding the status of Mr Dass in the BJP. Moreover, it has been directed not to place Mr Dass under suspension or issue him a show-cause notice for his alleged anti-party activities.

The party’s state high command has reportedly adopted this stance to avoid further controversy as it has already faced a lot of embarrassment.

Apart from it, the party’s state high command has been thinking that any disciplinary action against him at this movement would automatically make him a member of the party.

Sources said various BJP leaders had been claimed that Mr Dass was not a party member. However, Mr Dass has been refuting this and said he had contested municipal council elections in 1998 on a BJP ticket.

Though the SAD leadership managed to persuade its three municipal councillors Tirlok Singh, M.S. Sohal and Jugraj Singh to withdraw the writ, but the BJP leadership failed to persuade Mr Dass.

Mr Narinder Mittal, President, BJP, mandal unit, Bathinda, when contacted, said the party was not concerned with Mr Dass. He added that if Mr Dass claimed himself to be a member of the BJP then why he had indulged in anti-party activities by filing the writ.

A section of the SAD-BJP leaders to whom TNS talked pointed out that they were hopeful that the state government would take necessary steps to give relief to the traders by abolishing the octroi after the matter was decided in the High Court.


Labourers allege bungling in PF
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Labourers working for the mandi labour contractors and handling contractors engaged by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) authorities in Bathinda district have allegedly been cheated of their provident funds by a section of contractors in connivance with officials of the FCI and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Department.

Information gathered by TNS from the regional office of the FCI at Chandigarh revealed that the matter had been brought to the notice of Senior Regional Manager (SRM), ICI, Mr V.K. Singh.

Official sources said that Mr V.K. Singh had been informed that provident fund which was being deducted from the payments being made to mandi labour contractors (MLC) and handling contractor (HC) was being retained by FCI officials at the district level and was not being deposited with the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Bathinda.

Mr V.K. Singh was informed that in the past the contractors had got refunded lakhs of rupees deducted from the payment as provident fund of the labourers. The modus operandi of these contractors was that first they would allow deduction of provident fund from their payment as MLC and HC and then in connivance with official of the FCI they would retain the money in the district office instead of depositing it with Regional Provident Fund Commissioner.

After this the contractors in connivance with the officials of the FCI and the EPF Department would get sanction for getting the payment of amount deducted from the contractors and labourers in the shape of their contribution as employees provident fund by manipulations.

A section of labourers working for MLC and HC in representations made to Managing Director, FCI, SRM, FCI, Union Labour Minister, Chairman, Punjab State Human Rights Commission and Commissioner, EPF, Punjab, alleged that they had not been given account numbers or statement of accounts of their provident fund since 1997.

They added that though their EPF was being deducted they were being looted by a ‘mafia’ comprising MLC, officials of FCI and EPF Department.

They urged that a high-level probe should be held in this matter and justice should be done to them. They added that their repeated requests to the officials concerned that failed to get them justice.

Mr V.K. Singh, when contacted, on the telephone said general instructions had been passed on to the district office of the FCI not to make any payment to any MLC and HC in future after he came to know about the controversy.

He denied the EPF payments, and added as the labourers had represented their case to Punjab State Human Rights Commission, the FCI authorities would follow the directions of the commission.

Information gathered from a section of officials of the FCI revealed that about eight months ago, an audit team of the department also pointed out misappropriation of lakhs of rupees in the EPF but the FCI authorities failed to take any corrective measures.

It was also revealed that contractors had been getting the payment of EPF by getting no-due certificates from the EPF Department.

Mr K.K. Batra, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Bathinda when contacted, said that the MLC and HC of the FCI were not being forced to observe EPF rules as per the written directions of higher department authorities. He added that his office was only concerned with allotting account number of provident fund to the contractor and it was contractor’s wish to allot provident fund numbers to individual labourers or not.

He denied any bungling by officials of Provident Fund Department. He added that there was no provision for the issuance of any no-due certificate to the MLC or HC.


Desecration: people block traffic
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 30
Sacrilege was committed in a place of worship at Tarkhan Majra village on the outskirts of Sirhind town last night. The priest of the place of worship, who was asleep came to know about the incident after hearing the cracking of panes.

Villagers and residents of nearby town blockade traffic on the G.T. road to protest against the blasphemy. The blockade was lifted after the SSP’s assurance that those responsible for the sacrilege would be arrested in seven days. However, several youths from an institution imparting religious instruction from Ludhiana again came to the spot and blockade the traffic. The blockade was on till the filing of the report.

The priest said that he got up at about 1 a.m. on hearing a noise and noticed smoke in the shrine. He informed his neighbour and both of them saw fire in the shrine. They made an announcement from the shrine, and villagers reached there and doused the fire he added. He suspected that miscreant might have entered the place of worship by breaking the window panes. He said the police was informed and it reached the spot.

The priest said the though the matter was being politicised but the temple management would not allow it to be done for gains by politicians.

Meanwhile, the police has picked up Gurjeet Singh, Labh Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Beeru, Gulzar Singh, Shingra Singh, Joginder Singh and Ram Pal Singh. Residents of the village alleged that sarpanch Mandeep Singh got them arrested. The sarpanch denied the allegation.

Addressing the protesters two opposition Akali leaders criticised the Badal government for its failure to check activities of people out to disturb peace in the state. They warned if the government didn’t arrest the culprits within seven days a protest march to gherao the CM’s residence in Chandigarh would be organised.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh general secretary PPCC, Capt Kanwaljit Singh Finance Minister, Punjab and Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi SGPC chief visited the village and appealed for maintaining peace.

Meanwhile, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Jathedar Talwandi, Prof Manjit Singh and Mr Kirpal Singh OSD to the Chief Minister had consultations with the village panchayat regarding the sacrilege.

The district administration has made elaborate security arrangement and rounded up several persons in this connection. Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr H.S. Saran SSP along with others officials are camping at the sites of incident and dharna.


SGPC probe panel meeting a fiasco
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
The meeting of the inquiry panel constituted by the SGPC to probe the alleged flouting of rules while purchasing 15 mini-buses worth Rs 1 crore ended in a fiasco. The panel comprising Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, and two other executive members has not been able to get details of the controversial buses.

Out of the three purchase committee members, only two SGPC members — Mr Harsurinder Singh Gill, a confidant of Bibi Jagir Kaur, and Mr K.S. Dhouns — appeared before the inquiry committee. Sources said that a heated exchange of words between the inquiry panel and members of the purchase committee took place.

The agitated members of the purchase committee said that they would meet the party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for the ‘humiliation’ caused to them.

They said that it was for the first time that the SGPC members had conducted an inquiry of their fellow members of the committee.


Book Baba for murder: Talwandi
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 30
“If a case of murder under Section 302 of the IPC was not registered against Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, it would lead to bloodshed. I am ready to sacrifice myself for punishing those who burned the holy Guru Granth Sahib ‘bir’. Villagers and Sikhs from foreign countries have also approached me, offering to sacrifice themselves for punishing the culprits,” Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president of the SGPC, said while talking to newsmen here today.

Mr Talwandi was here to attend the function of “pashchatap divas” organised by the SGPC to condemn the alleged incident of burning of the ‘bir’ in Kalheri village near Morinda by followers of the Baba.

Mr Talwandi said the sentiments of the Sikhs were hurt following the burning of ‘bir’. The police authorities in Ropar have shown laxity in apprehending the Baba due to which his activities had been encouraged, he alleged.

About the photographs of various politicians, police officers and other government functionaries published in the Bhavsagar Samunder book of the Baba, Mr Talwandi said that the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC would probe the matter and recommend suitable action. The meeting of the committee has been convened at the Alamgir gurdwara in Ludhiana tomorrow to discuss the issue, he said.

Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib, who was also present on the occasion urged the authorities of various gurdwaras to maintain the security of the Guru Granth Sahib ‘birs’. He said it was unfortunate that people were constructing gurdwaras and placing the birs in them, but were not maintaining the proper maryada.


Panthic Morcha rigid over unity with SAD
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 30
Panthic Morcha leaders are adopting a rigid stand on the question of having unity with the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, of the morcha, said here today that before appearing at Akal Takht to seek forgiveness Mr Badal must reinstall Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht. “We will not accept Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti who is “sarkari” Jathedar of Akal Takht,” he added.

He said the morcha had received an unprecedented response from people of Punjab in general and Sikhs in particular and they were in a position to provide an alternative to the leadership of Mr Badal. “We are fighting against both the Congress and the injustice done by Mr Badal. Supporters of the morcha are being implicated in false cases,” he added.

The convener said the morcha would announce its next programme for the state soon. They would be organising an all-India Akali conference at Ludhiana on October 28.

The morcha would soon restructure the district committees and 51-member committees would be formed to mobilise the people at the district level.

He assailed the alleged fleecing of farmers in mandis by officials of procurement agencies and arhtiyas and asked the government to stop it.

Lashing out at Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara he demanded that he should be tried under Section 302, IPC, for burning a “Bir” of the holy Granth. The morcha would chalk out a programme to mitigate problems of industrialists and traders.

The convener said the Panthic Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party had agreed to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections jointly.


Justice Bhan lauds bar associations
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 30
Mr Justice Ashok Bhan of the Supreme Court today said efforts were being made by the judiciary to provide justice to the people at the earliest in the courts. He said introduction of Lok Adalats was a step in this direction as no appeal or revision could be made against the decision of a Lok Adalat.

Mr Justice Bhan was addressing a seminar on “Free Legal Services in Punjab”, organised by the District Legal Services Authority at the District Judicial Complex here. Earlier, he also lit a ‘jyoti’ to mark the occasion.

Among others who were present on the occasion included Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, Mr Justice K.S. Grewal, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, Mr Justice A.K. Goyal and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, all from the Punjab and Haryana High Court; Mr R.M. Gupta, local District and Sessions Judge and Mr S.N. Aggarwal, District and Sessions Judge, Patiala.

Mr Justice Bhan expressed happiness over the cooperation of the bar associations in organising Lok Adalats. He said the aim and approach of the judges and lawyers should be so clear that no one could raise a finger over the outcome of the cases.

He cited several factors for delays in court’s decisions, sometimes up to 50 years. He said the litigants, lawyers and lack of the requisite number of courts were also responsible for this.

Mr Justice H.S. Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who is also the Executive Chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority, called upon the people to come forward to bring their cases to the Lok Adalats. He said the Punjab Legal Services Authority had provided free legal aid in 29,090 cases till August 31,2001. He also said 2,100 Lok Adalats had been organised in the state so far, in which 1.92 lakh cases had been taken up. He said 1.17 lakh cases had been settled in these Lok Adalats so far.

Mr Justice Bedi also stated that banks had recovered about Rs 40 crore from the debtors through the Lok Adalats in about 10,000 cases which were at a pre-litigation stage.

He said a decision to grant incentives to the judges who held Lok Adalats and their subordinate staff would be taken in two to three months.

Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the District Bar Association, while welcoming Mr Justice Ashok Bhan expressed the hope that their temporary sheds in the newly-built Judicial Complex would not be removed. He also sought his cooperation for the construction of chambers for the lawyers.

Later, Mr Justice Bhan inaugurated a free legal aid camp organised by the Free Legal Aid and Civil Liberties Forum, a wing of the local Adhivakta Parishad, on the occasion of a state-level Lok Adalat organised by the Judicial Department in the newly-built District Judicial Complex here.


Ex-PM for joint efforts to end terrorism
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 30
Former Prime Minister, Chandrashekhar has said that terrorism has been the main cause of global disturbance and that it can be eradicated only when joint efforts at international level are made.

He was talking to mediapersons during his short stay here today while going to Garata village, 25 km from here in Gurdaspur district, to attend a function organised by the Rajput Mahasabha.

He said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had told him that no secret pact had been made with the USA for providing any kind of military help for attack on Taliban. The Prime Minister had assured him that Leaders of the Opposition would be taken into confidence if the situation warranted so, he said. The government had lacked transparent policy regarding external affairs, he said.


Free entry to zoos for one week
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 30
The Wildlife Department of Punjab will celebrate Wildlife Preservation Week from October 1 to 7.

Mr M.P. Rai, Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, said that the public would be allowed entry free of cost to the zoos, including the Chhat Bir zoo.

Films on wildlife and the environment would be shown free of cost to school students at the interpretation centres of the Deer Parks at Patiala, Abohar and Harike.


Ministerial staff’s threat
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
The activists of the Punjab State Ministerial Service Union have threatened to boycott the process of coming elections if the government failed to implement their demands.

Mr G.S. Grewal, President of the Bathinda unit of the union, in a press note issued here today, said if the demands were not implemented by October 20, the activists would start gherao of the MLAs and ministers. 


Special plan for jail inmates
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 30
Dr Ritu Sharma, Director of Ahasaas, has chalked a special programme for the inmates of local central jail.

Dr Sharma said the programme would begin on October 1 and would on for six months. She added that Mr K.K.Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Punjab Human Rights Commission, would inaugurate the programme and Mr R.S. Chalia, IG (Prisons), would be the guest of honour.

The programme comprises three phases which would be divided into AIDS awareness campaign, three month’s yoga classes, medical camps, vocational training for women and youth, plantation of medicinal plants and herbs, and upgradation of already existing workshop facilities.


Ex-servicemen hold rally
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 30
The people of country should be aware of the evil designs of the enemy forces who have been engaged in a proxy war to destabilise the unity of our country.

This was stated by Major-Gen R.N. Suryavanshee (VSM), General Officer Commanding, while addressing a rally attended by more than 5,000 ex-servicemen from Bathinda, Ferozepore, Muktsar, Moga and Faridkot districts today. However, our forces were prepared to meet any challenge, he added.


Army, villagers hold meeting

Fazilka, September 30
A meeting of villagers, Army and civil officers was held at the border village of Rana, 7 km from here, on Friday. The meeting was presided over by Brig S.K.S. Rana, Vishisht Seva Medal, Commander, military garrison, Fazilka. Mr Rana said the meeting was held with an aim of an interaction between the Army and the local residents of border villages for cooperation .


PR official bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Mrs Jaswant Kaur, mother of Mr Surinder Mohan Singh, Deputy Director, Press, Department of Public Relations, Punjab, died of cardiac arrest here this morning. She was 82. She is survived by one son and three daughters. Her cremation at SAS Nagar was largely attended.


Markfed procures 4.18 tonnes of paddy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Markfed has procured 4.18 lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs 234 crore during the first week of procurement of the current season. It thus leads other state agencies active during the procurement operations in the state, according to official information here today.

The cumulative paddy purchases made in Punjab mandis this year till September 29 was 23.59 lakh tonnes. This was more than double the purchases made last year during the same period. Since the quality of paddy was good and the storage and lifting arrangements were complete, there would be prompt payments to the farmers, a spokesman of Markfed said.


Khet mazdoor union conference ends
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
A two-day national conference organised by the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union (BKMU) on the problems of women agricultural labourers concluded here today after passing a 13-point charter of demands. Mr Nagendra Nath Ojha, MP and General Secretary of the union, while reading out the charter of demands said the union would fight relentlessly for the cause of women farm labourers.

Mr Ojha, while talking to mediapersons, said the plight of the farm labourers had always been neglected by successive governments. He alleged that the crime against women in general and Dalits in particular was rising.

Delegates from many states including Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Haryana, participated in the conference. The conference was also attended by Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, Mr N.R. Dasari, MP, Dr Gurcharan Gandhi, member of the national executive of the union, and many senior leaders of the Punjab Istri Sabha, the Communist Party of India and a number of social workers.

The maternity benefits for women farm labourers should be given on the pattern of the formal sector. While the women employed in the formal sector were eligible for maternity leave and upto a maximum of Rs 4,000 per month but the women farm labourers were not getting these benefits.

Mr Ojha demanded that the old-age and widow pension should be raised to Rs 500 per month and steps should be taken to ensure the supply of potable water to the families of the agricultural labourers. The Women’s Reservation Bill should be passed, he added.

The union will observe a fortnight from November 25 to December 10 to highlight the cause of the women farm labourers, he informed.


538.25 lakh given for development work
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
The District Planning and Development Board (DPDB) has been given Rs 538.25 lakh for the development works to be undertaken by various departments in the current financial year. Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, said while presiding over a meeting of the board here on Friday that the funds were given for the rural development, agricultural, dairy, rural drinking schemes. Earlier, Mr Tota Singh while presiding over the meeting of the District Grievance Redressal Committee asked the official concerned to lodge a complaint with the Union Telecommunication Minister against the local Postal Department officials who failed to attend today’s meeting

He formed a committee under the chairmanship of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) to look into the use of substandard material in the construction of roads in the market of Phul town. He said the material should be sent to the Thapar Engineering College, Patiala, for chemical analysis. 


Travel agent booked for cheating youth
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 30
The police has registered a case against Dinesh Kumar, a travel agent, under Sections 420, 406 of the IPC for defrauding Harjit Singh of Rs 2.25 lakh.

It was learnt here today that the travel agent promised to send Harjit Singh to Italy but instead took him to Thailand, took away his passport.

Harjit returned to his village Faujian in Gurdaspur district on February 5, 1999, after borrowing money from somebody in Thailand.

He approached Dinesh Kumar and asked him to return the money who in turn threatened him.

It was only at the instance of the higher police authorities that a case was registered against Dinesh Kumar.


Bid to take away car foiled; 4 held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 30
The Rajpura police foiled a bid to forcibly, snatch a car by arresting four persons, including a woman while they were trying to overpower the vehicle owner. The four had reportedly hired a Tata Sumo (DL-8C A 9136) that was coming from Ludhiana and was on its way to Delhi.

According to the DSP Rajpura, Mr R.K.Sharma, on reaching the Rajpura by-pass, owner of Tata Sumo Gurmeet Singh, was asked to stop by the culprits at a nearby dhaba, on the pretext of eating something. The moment, the vehicle stopped, the four accused overpowered Gurmeet Singh, tied his hands and legs and pushed him on the back seat. The accused were also threatening to kill him.

Meanwhile, a police party led by Focal Point Police in charge, ASI Pawan Kumar stopped the Tata Sumo and arrested the four accused, who tried to run away, and rescued the driver.


Bank employee attacked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 30
Jaswant Singh (40), a bank employee, was attacked last night near his house in the Karampura area, New Abadi, the Rattan Singh chowk.

Six assailants carrying swords reportedly inflicted serious head injuries on him and robbed him of Rs 9,000.

One of the neighbours said Jaswant had recognised one of the assailants as somebody of the Abadi area. No FIR has been registered in this connection.


Anniversary of Chicago address celebrated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
Swami Vivekananda Study Circle of the city today celebrated the 108th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address at the World Religious Parliament in Chicago in 1893 at the local SSD college.

Dr Narinder Kohli, author of three books on the life of Swami Vivekananda, and Lt-Gen J.R. Malhotra, member of the Chandigarh branch of the study circle, were the chief guests on the occasion. Office-bearers of study circles of Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Rampura Phul also participated in the function.

The function started with the recitation of ‘Vande Mataram’. Students of the local DAV School presented a programme depicting the plight of women in India.

Dr Kohli, addressing the gathering, narrated a number of incidents from the life of Swami Vivekananda. He said reading the biography of Swamiji and celebrating his birthday was not enough. 

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