Monday, October 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

 

punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


TOP STORIES


 

Gurdev Badal may be summoned
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Akal Takht may summon Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, senior vice-president of the SAD and Cabinet minister, his son Kewal Singh Badal, junior vice-president, SGPC, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, a former MP, Mr Buta Singh, a former Union minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, a former minister and other leaders of various political parties for having links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara who has been excommunicated.

Though Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, who arrived here after a two-month religious tour abroad, refused to divulge the agenda, he confirmed that he would convene an emergency meeting of the Sikh clergy at Akal Takht next week with a view to taking strict measures against the torching of the Holy Book in various parts of the state. He said the sole agenda would be on the sacrilege of the Holy Book which seemed to be a conspiracy to disturb peace. He said the Sikhs would not tolerate this insult to their “living Guru”.

He, however, said there was need to cut across party affiliations and unite to defeat nefarious designs of “anti-Panthic forces”. He said instead of taking political mileage, the Sikh Panth should come forward to expose the forces behind the acts of sacrilege.

Mr Vedanti said he would attend the joint meeting of the SGPC executive, the Sikh High Priests and the Dharm Parchar Committee being held at Takht Kesgarh Sahib tomorrow to plan a programme against the activities of Baba Bhaniara and his followers. “We would discuss ways and means so that such incidents do not recur”, he said.

Though Akal Takht cannot summon BSP supremo Kanshi Ram, District and Sessions Judge Maghar Khan, Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra as they are non-Sikhs, Sikh leaders of the Akali Dal, Congress and other political parties could be summoned for having links with Baba Bhaniara. Among those whose photographs have been published in the banned book authored by Baba Bhaniara include Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo and Sant Shamsher Singh Jagera. The photographs of Sikh officers include Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, DIG, Mr Gurmeet Singh, SP (Operations) Ropar, Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP, Mr Jagtar Singh, DSP, Mr Avtar Singh, DSP, Mr Chawla, DSP (CID), Mr Hari Singh, Tehsildar, Mr Kuldip Singh, DDPO (Ropar), Nihang Satnam Singh and Mr Niranjan Singh, a former Deputy Commissioner. The joint meeting scheduled for tomorrow is likely to be stormy as members of the SHSAD and the SAD (Mann) would demand immediate action against Mr Kewal Singh Badal.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then SGPC chief, was summoned at Akal Takht for visiting Nirankari Bhavan in violation of the edict issued by the Sikh clergy to severe all relations with Nirankaris. Opposition members have already sought immediate dismissal of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal. Earlier too, Mr Kewal Singh Badal had sought an apology from Akal Takht for participating in a function organised by Baba Bhaniara. The Opposition members would say if Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, his son and other Sikh leaders could have links with Baba Bhaniara, the edict under which he (Baba Bhaniara) was excommunicated would render “meaningless”.


 

Panthic Morcha to seek CM’s dismissal
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 7
The Panthic Morcha has decided to organise “Khalsa march” on October 17 from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh under the aegis of Akal Takht and the Sant Samaj and submit a memorandum to the Governor demanding dismissal of the Badal Government for failure to protect the ‘Guru’ of the Sikhs, said Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht addressing a gathering at Tarkhan Majra village today at the Bhog ceremony in connection with the desecration at Tarkhan Majra place of worship. He said this decision was taken at a meeting of the Panthic Morcha at Mohali yesterday. He appealed to people to join the march.

He warned that if the Governor failed to concede the demand, then “direct action” would be initiated to be announced later.

He said that recent acts of sacrilege was not the brainchild of Baba Bhaniarawale. Rather, it was a deep-rooted conspiracy and the government should unearth it. He said the Sikh sangat should not expect justice from the present law.

He said that Nirankaris’ banned books were still being sold. He urged the Sikhs to identify the real conspirator as Baba Piara Singh was only a tool. He alleged Barjindar Singh Hamdard, Prof Manjit Singh and Badal were real enemies of the Sikh quam. He said Mr Badal had appointed his relative chairman of the Gurdwara Commission board who consumes liquor. He said Badal denigrated Akal Takht under influence of political power given by the Sikh sangat.

He said Mr Pannu, Bhai Puran Singh and Baba Mangal Singh have met their fate for betraying Akal Takht.

He urged those loyal to Mr Badal that if they had respect for Guru Granth Sahib they should part company with Mr Badal and join the Panthic Morcha.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha in his address said that Mr Badal should ‘act or quit’,

Jathedar G.S. Tohra in his hard hitting speech lashed out at Mr Badal and urged him answer his queries through the press. He questioned why Mr Badal remained silent for 19 days and has issued an appeal in press now. Why did not he visit any place of worship where sacrilege had been committed whereas he had been attending bhogs of people in his constituency by using helicopter. Third he asked why Baba Piara had not been booked U/S 302 IPC and why his press conferences were arranged and VIP treatment given to him by CIA staff.

He lauded Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President SGPC for visiting every place and demanding stern action against Baba and the cabinet colleagues of Mr Badal who had been visiting his dera. He urged Jathedar Talwandi not to go to the threats of Mr Badal and speak the truth. He said Mr Talwandi had history of sacrifices and he should not act as a slave rather resign on this issue to create another history.

He said Mr Badal and his cabinet colleagues were followers of Bhaniarawale. He said Mr Badal and all Jathedars were also responsible as they had failed to call meeting to give a programme to Sikh sangat. He said Mr Badal was a trader of votes and acts only keeping in mind the politics of vote.

Mr Simaranjit Singh Mann MP in his address said it was unfortunate that sacrilege occurred during the Chief Ministership of Sikh Government. He said if Mr Badal could not stop sacrilege he should quit.

On this occasion the Sant Samaj gave a call to boycott followers of Bhaniarawale. They said the Sant Samaj would file a writ in the High Court for the punishment to Baba.

Mr Hari Singh Randhawa, Secretary Sant Samaj, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Charanjit Singh Loharan, Bhai Surjit Singh of Damdami Taksal, Thekedar Surjan Singh, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Baba Man Singh Pehowa, Kirpal Singh Libra Karnail Singh Panjoli also spoke.


 

Puran Singh sees plot to kill him
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple and former Jathedar, Akal Takht, has alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill him after a murderous attack on Baba Mangal Singh Satlani, acting president of the Gurmat Gurbani Parcharak Sant Samaj, on October 4.

The Sikh High Priest alleged that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the murder of Baba Satlani which needed to be probed by ordering a high-level inquiry.

Giani Puran Singh said immediately after the attack on Baba Satlani, some unidentified persons had gone to the house of his daughter in the wee hours and knocked at the door. When she refused to open the door, they gave her wrong information that Baba Satlani had succumbed to his injuries in a private hospital. They asked her to go to the house of her father (Giani Puran Singh) and tell him to rush to the hospital where the body was lying.

Giani Puran Singh said he might have been attacked if he had gone to the hospital on hearing the “rumour” Baba Satlani succumbed to his injuries two days later.

He alleged that though the attack on the Baba in the Golden Temple complex was the first such incident in the Sikh history, his killer was being treated as “VIP” in police station.

It is pertinent to mention here that Baba Satlani was a confidant of Giani Puran Singh. He had supported every act of Giani Puran Singh, including the edict issued by him in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht, wherein he had excommunicated the then SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and three Sikh High Priests. Giani Puran Singh remained in the web of controversy as he had categorically refused to participate in the meetings of the Sikh clergy which was mandatory as per the Sikh traditions.


 

SAD calls for ardas on October 14
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal today charged the Congress with acts of sacrilege aimed at disturbing peace and communal harmony in Punjab with an eye on the next Assembly elections.

It is a serious charge coming as it does in the form of a resolution adopted by the party’s Political Affairs Committee that met with the President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in the chair. The resolution speaks of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by the Congress that had no plank on which to go to the people of the state in the coming Vidhan Sabha poll. The resolution also says the Congress is trying to tarnish the fair name of the Khalsa Panth by its diabolical designs.

The entire Panth has been urged to perform ardas for the glory of the Khalsa Panth and peace and prosperity of all Punjabis on October 14. All Sikhs, party office-bearers, MPs, MLAs, and SGPC members have been directed to ‘’safeguard’’ gurdwaras ensuring that acts of sacrilege engineered by men like Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara are not repeated. The Baba has been described as an agent/stooge of the Congress. His dera’s foundation-stone was laid by the Congress leader, Mr Buta Singh, says the resolution, charging him with various other anti-Panthic acts.

The first accusing finger at the Congress for such acts was raised by Punjab’s Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in Tarkhan Majra village in Fathegarh Sahib on October 4. The Congress leader, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had objected to his remarks and cautioned against politicising the issue. The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Capt Amarinder Singh, today reiterated his demand for an inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court into the acts of sacrilege warning the SAD against using ‘’dangerous tactics’’ just because it was on a sticky wicket.

The most unfortunate part is that Punjab is again caught in the political cross fire between the two principal rivals. But enquiries by TNS at the administrative level reveal there has not been any serious investigation, so far, into the allegations of the Congress having hatched any conspiracy relating to the incidents of sacrilege. The aim of the Congress and the Akalis engaged in verbal exchanges is to get votes.

This is not the first time that the two political parties have indulged in such allegations. Name any issue, the two have repeatedly crossed swords lynching Punjab, wounding the Punjabi psyche and traumatising Punjabiat. Several questions falling in the realm of the “blame game’’ have remained unanswered for decades, often leading to playing with the sentiments of the people. Who is guilty, the Congress or the Akalis, when it comes to Who bartered away the rights of Punjab on Chandigarh or territory or sharing of river water? Who should be apportioned the blame for the events prior to Operation Bluestar or the anti-Sikh riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi? Who is responsible for the economic loss suffered by Punjab and the lengthening queues of the jobless? Who has nurtured corruption and nepotism?

The dangerous diatribe once again threatens to envelop Punjab. Neither of the two parties, the Congress and the Akalis, has learnt any lesson from the past. The two, perhaps, refuse to learn. Never has any party attempted to draw up a minimum common programme in the larger interest of Punjab that must be adhered to irrespective of which of the two comes to power.

Ironically, thus far, no concrete evidence has been placed before the people of the Congress involvement or conspiracy. Capt Kanwaljit Singh promises to do so shortly. The atmosphere in Punjab is being continuously vitiated by statements and counter-statements/allegations. Knowledgeable sources in the police say that followers of Baba Bhaniara mostly belong to the weaker sections, who are the “diehard’’ types. When the first incident of the burning of the Bhavsagar Granth of the Baba was reported from Ludhiana, his message to his ardent followers, sources said, was to ‘’retaliate’’. That set off a chain reaction and acts of sacrilege while the Bhavsagar Granth was proscribed.

The police has, so far, rounded up nearly 100 followers of the Baba. The granth, sources said, took nearly 11 months to complete and was compiled by at least 23 persons. The alleged mastermind, Darshan Singh, has also been arrested.

Photographs of politicians belonging to both parties have been published in the Press. Some former ministers of the Congress had reportedly met the Baba at his dera after the Rattangarh incident. The Akalis, including the Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and his son have already admitted their mistake out of misinformation and are ready to appear before Akal Takht. Mr Gurdev Singh attended the Political Affairs Committee meeting today, where he reiterated his innocence.

The meeting was not attended by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan for various reasons, explained the SAD secretary, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, who also released the resolution.

An emergency meeting of the Sikh high priests, the SGPC executive and members of the Dharam Parchar Committee is scheduled to be held tomorrow on the sacrilege issue, he added.

Besides the Congress and the SAD, the issue is being politically fanned even by the Panthic Morcha much to the consternation of the ruling Akalis. The general belief is that in the ongoing politco-religious battle, the ultimate sufferer will be Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiat. Is it not time Punjab politicians showed political maturity rather than playing with the sentiments of the people of a state still recovering from the shocks of terrorism? 


 

Badal asks all political parties to unite
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 7
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, has appealed to the leaders of all political parties not to take political benefits from the incidents of sacrilege at some places recently and should join hands in fighting those forces who wanted to disturb peace in the state.

Mr Badal was talking to Chandigarh Tribune in Gharuan village on the Kharar-Morinda road today where a ‘Bir’ put on fire by some miscreants on October 4 at Gurdwara Maliksar Sahib. The CM visited this gurdwara this afternoon. Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, vice-president of Youth Akali Dal, Punjab, Mr G.S. Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr Suresh Arora, DIG and Mr G.S. Bhuller, SSP, Ropar were present on the occasion.

Mr Badal said this incident was unfortunate and he did not have words to explain it. He assured that the Punjab Government would soon nab the culprits who were behind these acts of sacrilege.

Earlier, the people who were assembled in the gurdwara told Mr Badal, that it was not only Baba Piara Singh Bhaniaranwala responsible for this but it was a big conspiracy behind all these acts of sacrilege. They appealed to Mr Badal that the Punjab Government should remove all encroachments on government land by various religious leaders. They demanded that cases under Section 302 of the IPC should be got registered against those who were responsible for these acts.

Meanwhile, the bhog of Shri Akhand Path in the gurdwara where act of sacrilege was committed would be held tomorrow at 10 a.m.


 

Banned book in circulation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Even as the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has written to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to ban ‘Purkh Guru’ authored by Mehar Singh and published by Namdhari Darbar, Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana), the controversial book is still in circulation. However, the Namdhari sect has claimed that it has not published the new edition of the book.

Though the book of excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara has been banned by the state government, but no such action has been initiated against the sale of ‘Purkh Guru’.

Though Mr Surjit Singh Cheema, a former executive member of the SGPC and convener of the Khalsa Panth Tercentenary Sub-Committee (Jalandhar) has sent at least three letters to the SGPC and Akal Takht since 1999 yet no action has been taken in this regard.

Mr G.S. Lamba, a senior advocate and Sikh intellectual, said today it was a matter of shame that the controversial book has not been banned so far. He alleged that though the Namdharis did not consider Guru Granth Sahib as ‘living guru’, yet Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, gave undue importance to the sect during the tercentenary celebrations. 


 

PPCC chief for judicial probe into sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 7
A judicial commission under the observation of a high court judge should be set up in the state to probe the “deep-rooted conspiracy” behind the recent acts of sacrilege committed at various places.

Stating this while addressing a Press Conference, Capt Amarinder Singh, president, of the PPCC, said the setting up of a commission was must to check such acts lay religious fanatics.

Taking serious note of the prevailing conditions, he said strict action should be taken against those responsible for such acts. He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal spoke about the incident nine days after an act of sacrilege had occurred. If he had said something earlier, protesters would not have come on to the streets.

He alleged that Mr Badal was trying to create circumstances by which the forthcoming Assembly elections could be postponed.

He termed such acts as politically motivated and added that measures should be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Speaking about the issue of octroi, he said it was a “pre-planned conspiracy” because if the ruling government was serious about the abolition of octroi, the decision would have been taken by now.


 

Paddy scam: CBI indicts 11 FCI officials
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
The Central Bureau of Investigation has indicted 11 officials of the Food Corporation of India for their role in the 1994-95 paddy scam in which paddy worth crores of rupees was allegedly pilfered, causing a huge loss to the exchequer.

However, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, the then Senior Regional Manager of the FCI who is now Additional Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and was also named in the case, has been exonerated by the CBI. There was no criminal charge against Mr Kaushal. The charge of misconduct against Mr Kaushal has also not been established who has, therefore, been given a clean chit by the CBI.

The CBI, in its report submitted to the FCI a few days ago, has recommended departmental action against 11 officials — Mr L.C. Verma, a former District Manager, FCI, Bathinda, Mr D.S. Nayak, a former Assistant Manager (Depot), Mr Shamsher Singh, the then Assistant Grade-I, Mr Joginder Singh, Assistant Grade-II, Mr V.K.Misra, Assistant Grade-I, Mr Swaran Das, Assistant Grade-I, Mr Ujjagar Singh, Assistant Grade-II, Mr Ram Parsad, Assistant Grade-II, Mr Santokh Singh, Assistant Grade-I, Mr Dharam Pal, Assistant Grade-II and Mr Nirmal Singh, Assistant Grade-III.

Punjab had a bumper paddy crop in 1994-95. The FCI procured 27.4 lakh MT of paddy. Of this, 15 lakh MT was stored by the FCI on the premises of private millers because of the shortage of storage space. It was alleged that certain rice millers colluded with the custodians and other officials of the FCI and siphoned off paddy stored on the millers’ premises. It was also alleged that paddy was sold under the open-sale scheme at prices much lower than its economic price. Another allegation was that the paddy pilfered from the millers’ premises was also sold to the millers resulting in bogus sale. In most cases, undue benefit of “moisture-driage” to the extent of 2 per cent was also allegedly granted in favour of the rice millers.

The charge related to certain millers of Bathinda and Gurdaspur districts. More than 65,392 MT of paddy was stored on the premises of 22 millers of Rampura Phul and Goniana Mandi while 60,433 MT was stored with 35 millers in Gurdaspur district. A good portion of the stored paddy was allegedly siphoned off.

According to official sources here, the FCI is now in the process of initiating regular departmental proceedings against the 11 officials who have been indicted for misconduct and dereliction of duty by the CBI in accordance with the draft articles of charge, specific statement of imputation of misconduct, list of witnesses and the list of documents furnished to the FCI by the CBI.

Regarding the involvement of Mr Kaushal, according to the sources, the CBI came to the conclusion that the decision to store paddy on the premises of the private rice millers was not taken at his level. In fact, Mr A.V. Gokak, the then Managing Director of the FCI, had taken the said decision because of acute storage space crunch caused by the bumper crop and low evacuation. The FCI HQ conveyed the decision to go in for the same pattern of paddy storage at private rice mills as was the prevailing practice in the case of the state procurement agencies.

During investigation by the CBI, Mr Kaushal was found to have issued the necessary directions to the District Managers of the FCI to carry out fortnightly checking and physical verification of the paddy stored on the premises of private rice millers and to strictly abide by contractual obligations. He was actually found to have initiated action against the FCI officials who were responsible for causing a shortage of paddy under their charge. He constituted vigilance committees to conduct physical verification of the stocks and took action against those found guilty at any stage.

The CBI also took cognisance of the fact that the then MD of the FCI, Mr Gokak, had instructed Mr Kaushal that wherever there was proper acknowledgment with the custodians about the storage of paddy at the rice mills, a lenient view could be taken while fixing responsibility for the disappearance of the paddy though efforts should be made to recover paddy, rice or money which had disappeared or had been manipulated by the rice millers.

Rates of sale of paddy under the open-sale scheme were found to have been approved by the Ministry of Food, Government of India, while Mr Kaushal had only intimated the said rates to the District Managers of the FCI, the Government of Punjab and its procurement agencies.

As regards the sale of paddy at low prices, the CBI found that the MD, FCI, had requested the Union Food Ministry for a reduction in the price of paddy. The Government of Punjab had also made an identical demand. The decision to reduce the price from Rs 442 to Rs 395 per quintal was taken at the level of the Government of India.

The CBI detected 16,500 MT of paddy misappropriated by some rice millers of Gurdaspur district. The FCI had lodged 20 FIRs against the rice millers and also invoked arbitration clauses of the contract to make recoveries. Further, the CBI reportedly calculated the sale of 87,228 quintals of paddy at rates varying between Rs 375 and Rs 395 per quintal against tender sale, for which the FCI invoked the arbitration clauses against the rice millers concerned.


 

Controversy over MP Fund distribution
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 7
A controversy has erupted following the change made in the pattern of distribution of funds of a member of Parliament, Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, allocated under the MP Local Area Development Fund (MPLADF), between Bathinda and Mansa districts, by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venkat Ratnam.

Mr Bhora, in a letter to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Bathinda, alleged that his rights had been violated as only Rs 30 lakh out of Rs 1 crore had been sent to Mansa district from the MPLADF. He added that this had been done despite his written directions that Rs 40 lakh should be sent to Mansa district.

He added that first a delay of about one-and-a-half months was made in sending the funds to Mansa district and when the funds were sent, only Rs 30 lakh instead of Rs 40 lakh was given to it. Mr Bhora, while talking to TNS today, said he had asked the ADC (Development) that he should be informed about the rule under which only Rs 30 lakh had been sent to Mansa district. He added that only he himself was entitled to make any change in the pattern of distribution of funds.

He said he would raise the matter with the Privilege Committee of Parliament in the next session and also raise the matter during the meeting of MPs with the Chief Secretary, Punjab, being held on October 9 in connection with the review of the MPLADF.

He alleged that the Punjab Government was discriminating with MPs belonging to opposition parties by giving them vehicles which were not roadworthy and was trying to take control of the use of the MPLADF fund through its officials.

He said that if an MP was not able to use the MPLADF as per his priorities and planning then what was the fun of giving Rs 2 crore every year to an MP by the Centre for carrying out the development works in his constituency.

The Deputy Commissioner said the distribution of money from the MPLADF had been done on the basis of ratio of population of Bathinda and Mansa districts. He said his action was not arbitrary and was as per the guidelines laid down for the use of the MPLADF.


 
COMMUNITY

Marriage palace flouts norms
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
Six years back ignorance of safety measures cost hundreds of students their lives when a fire break turned into a major tragedy at a marriage palace at Dabwali. But it seems a local marriage palace has not learnt any lesson from the tragedy and is making the same mistake.

A marriage palace situated at picnic spot ‘Blue Fox’ is not following the safety norms which are mandatory to be provided in such buildings. The owner of the marriage palace has not got the no objection certificate from the authorities concerned before its construction.

The violation of safety norms by this marriage palace came to light when Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, leader of BJP Municipal Councillors, wrote letters to the Chief Minister, Punjab, the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, Chandigarh, the Deputy Commissioner and the local SSP urging them to intervene in the matter.

Mr Garg said the place developed as a picnic spot was given on lease to a private party by the local municipal council, but the party constructed a marriage palace on its premises without the permission of the authorities concerned.

He said the ‘pandal’ of the marriage palace was made of cloth. There was no arrangement for storing water.

Mr Garg urged the higher authorities to demolish the illegal construction and take necessary action against those who were involved in the illegal act.

Mr Krishan Kumar, owner of the marriage palace, could not be contacted, but Mr Sandhu, an employee, said the arrangements for the safety were being made. But he refused to give details.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, executive officer of the municipal council, said the council had issued a notice to the owner of the palace in this connection. The owner of the palace had got a stay over the notice. The council was verifying the allegations about the safety arrangements in the palace.


 

200 TB patients adopted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 7
As many as 200 poor persons afflicted with TB were adopted by the north zone unit of the Indian Chest Society for treatment free of cost during a function held at the local Ranjit Hospital today.

In the first phase of the adoption exercise, the patients were made to undergo different tests and subsequently they were given anti-TB medicines. The camp was inaugurated by the Punjab Health Minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla.

Addressing patients and their relatives the minister admitted that the incidence of TB was rising sharply and awareness about the disease and its early detection could help save lives. He also announced a grant of Rs 30,000 to the society.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr H.J. Singh, secretary of the society, said TB had emerged as a major killer disease after heart ailments.

“About 40,000 TB patients die in Punjab every year, though in India the disease was claiming one life every minute. What is alarming is that the disease is witnessing a steep rise and such a situation needs serious handling, particularly on the part of the parents and other family members of a patient,” said Dr H.J. Singh. Diabetic people were ten time more vulnerable to the disease, he added.

Mr Vijay Chopra, Chief Editor of the Punjab Kesri Group of newspapers, expressed concern over the rise in the incidence of the disease in the state and the failure of the state government to give adequate attention. He also adopted five patients and announced to bear the expenses of their treatment.

Mr Ashok Jelkhani, Director, Jalandhar Doordarshan Kendra, said the media could play a great role in educating people about the disease.


 

10 pc villagers face risk of blindness
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 7
About 10 per cent of the rural population in the age group 30-40 in the rural areas of this district are suffering from corneal opacity, a disease which if not detected at an early stage, leads to permanent blindness. This was stated by Dr Charanjit Singh, who has organised several eye check-up camps in the area, and was at Passiwal village near Nangal, today to organise another such camp.

He said due to the windy conditions in the Shivalik foothills, people working in the fields generally sustained injuries in the eyes which further led to fungal infection. This infection caused corneal opacity if not detected at an early stage.

Lack of awareness about eye ailments has given this disease a form of an epidemic. The situation has further worsened due to lack of proper eye treatment facility in the area and the dependence of people on quacks.


 

Kargil heroes, families honoured
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 7
The Jai Jawan Welfare Society, an NGO, organised a function at Jagjiwan Hall of the local Sainik School yesterday to honour Kargil heroes and their families.

Lt-General Ranjit Singh Dayal (retd) presided over the function.

Major-General S.P.S. Sidhu (retd) and Brig K.S. Chandpuri also participated in the function as guest of honours.

Prominent among those who were honoured are Hav Yoginder Singh Yadav and Hav Sanjay Kumar, both PVC awardees, Ms and Mr Girdhari Lal, parents of Capt Vikram Batra, PVC (posthumously), Ms Mohini Pandey and Mr Gopi Chand Pandey, parents of Lt-Manoj Pandey, PVC (posthumously).

They were given gold-plated medals and shawls. The atmosphere became gloomy when Ms Mohini Pandey and Mr Gopi Chand Pandey broke down while receiving honour on behalf of their son.

Silver medals and shawls were given to Capt Balwan Singh (MVC), Col Y.K. Joshi, Major Vikas Vohra, Capt Sachin Nimbalkar, Sub Nirmal Singh (posthumously), Sub Raghunath Singh, NK Mehar Singh and NK Satpal Singh, all winners of Vir Chakras, Major Ravinder Singh Parmar and Capt Rajesh Adhau, both Sena Medal awardees, and Col Kushal Thakur Yudh Sena Medal.

Brig M.P.S. Bajwa, Station Commander and man behind the function, narrated eye witness accounts of the Kargil conflict. Shots from videos films and computer graphics were also shown on the occasion.

The organisers did not invite any politician and no speech was made.

Mr Manu Dev Gautam, senior lawyer and founder of the society, urged the Central Government to give more facilities, including free air travel, to Kargil heroes and their family members. He appealed to industrialists to come forward and honour these national heroes.


 

Long delay in park development
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot
A park named after Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria, a Param Vir Chakra winner, has not been developed here even years after its setting up was announced by the authorities.

While the Punjab Government had contributed Rs 10 lakh for it, it is alleged that the Army has so far not given any funds for its development.

According to Mr Sukhdev Singh, brother of the martyr, the Army authorities want to change the name of the park to the Northern Star Environment Park.

Mr Sukhdev Singh said certain vested interests were instrumental in the delay in its development . The Army authorities were trying to prevail upon the Punjab Government to change its name. He regretted that the park had not been opened to the public so far.

Captain Salaria was martyred in 1961. On January 26, 1962, he was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra by the President of India.

In 1976, the Punjab Government had announced a plan to set up a park in memory of Captain Salaria.

Resentment prevails among residents over the failure of the authorities to open the park and efforts to change its name.


 

CM for joint efforts on AIDS awareness
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 7
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at a national conference on the HIV and AIDS here has called for a joint effort by social organisations and the government to spread awareness among the people about the AIDS.

Mr Badal said medical courses would begin to train doctors and nurses to serve HIV patients and an institute would be constructed in this connection. He also announced a grant of Rs 4 crore for the Peoples Health Organisation.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology said a research centre would be built at Jalandhar.

Mr I.S. Gilada, secretary general, headquarters, and Mr S.P. Dewan, president of the organisation, also spoke.


 

Union’s threat to gherao MLAs, ministers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union has threatened to gherao Punjab ministers and MLAs if the state government did not implement the already accepted demands of the union.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gurdev Singh, general secretary of the district unit of the union, said the union had decided to boycott coming Assembly elections to show resentment over the adamant attitude of the state government towards its demands.

The union would resort to intensive agitations if its demands were not accepted, he added.

Mr Gurdev Singh said the state government at a meeting held on August 1 accepted a number of their demands.

The accepted demands were — the restoration of three-scale pay for clerks, Junior Engineers’ grade and status to senior assistants, revival of pay scale and allowances to stenographers, grades of gazzeted posts to circle superintendents, equal facilities and power to refund general provident fund to DDOs, 4-9-14 time scale to class three and four employees, bonus to all state employees, DA installment according to the Centre’s pattern and 15 per cent house rent to employees of the district as it has gained the status of class-A city according to recent census.


 

Auditorium stone laid in memory of writers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 7
Foundation stone of an auditorium in memory of noted Punjabi writers Gurbax Singh “Preetlari” and Nanak Singh “Navalkar” was laid at Preet Nagar by Thakur Uday Singh namdhari here today.

Mr Preetam Singh, president of the foundation formed in the memory of these writers, lamented that the government had done little to promote writers especially Punjabi writers. He pointed out that besides Tagore even noted writers, like Munshi Prem Chand had no memorials.

On the occasion, MLA of the area Mr Veer Singh Lopoke, announced Rs 50,000 for the auditorium Mr Narinderjit Singh Soch a noted writer said the government should encourage writers and the nation should know these writers.

Thakur Uday Singh in his address said that Gurbax Singh and Nanak Singh gave new direction to Punjabi writing. Development of the community depends on its language and religion and government of the day should realise this.

The 2000 square yard auditorium costing about Rs 50 lakh will have a library, meeting hall, theatre hall, green room and research centre for doctorate students. Various noted writers including Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, were also present on the occasion.


 

Centre’s hands tied on Kashmir: BJP
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, national general secretary of the BJP, while stating that political compulsions of the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre were responsible for the non-solution of the Kashmir problem, claimed that the Centre had been successful in creating a favourable atmosphere at the international level towards the Indian viewpoint.

Mr Gautam, who was here in connection with a programme of the Other Backward Classes Association, while talking to mediapersons today, said due to the political compulsions of the NDA government bold steps could not be taken to resolve the Kashmir issue.


 

Colonies lack basic amenities
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 7
The Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWA) of the New Mehar Singh colony and the Mehar Singh colony have strongly resented the attitude of the Municipal Corporation.

In a press release, the residents of the twin colonies have complained that they were getting a raw deal from the municipal authorities due to which the sanitation and sewerage systems had become totally redundant and roads were full of potholes.

The main complaint of the residents is that the poorly laid tarmac surface has become a drivers’ nightmare and needed immediate attention as the incidents of accidents had increased manifold. Mr Pritpal Singh, general secretary of the associations, claimed that the colonies were approved under scheme 5-A by the Town Planner yet nothing was done to improve the pitiable condition of the roads.


 

‘Regular check-up after 50 must’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
Regular medical examination of all those who have crossed 50 years of age is must to overcome prostate diseases. This was stated by Dr Baldev Singh Aulakh, a pioneer in laparoscopic removal of kidney stone in the country and the Head of the Urology and Transplant unit of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, while delivering keynote address at a seminar held on the topic of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by the Physician Forum, here last night.

At least 100 medical practitioners from Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo, Rampuraphul, Goniana and Maurmandi participated in the seminar.


 
AGRICULTURE
 

Shanta satisfied with procurement pace
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 7
Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, said here today, new foodgrain policy was in the offing as the Prof Abhijeet Sen expert committee is formed for the purpose would submit its report shortly.

Talking to reporters he said, India had become one of the major exporting countries in the world. The minister said export target for this year was 20 lakh metric tonnes of wheat products, 50 lakh metric tonnes of wheat, 30 lakh metric tonnes of rice and 10 lakh metric tonnes of sugar.

He added that officials concerned had been directed to procure paddy per “government specifications”.

Expressing satisfaction over the procurement of paddy the minister said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab yesterday (Saturday) told him that procurement was going on smoothly.

On the shortage of godowns Mr Shanta Kumar said four states including Punjab, had been given guarantee period of seven years for building more godowns for the storage of food grain.

The Minister said under the food for all programme 24 lakh metric tonnes foodgrains had been issued. However drought hit states had been extended 32 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains. Under the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana, 50 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains were supplied this year, he added.


 

Plea to raise MSP of wheat, paddy
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 7
General secretaries of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union today urged the government to increase the maximum support price (MSP) of wheat to Rs 912 per quintal and of paddy to Rs 720 per quintal taking into consideration the unprecedented rise in prices of insecticides and other inputs.

Talking to newspersons here, they said if the government was not ready to increase the support price it should give a special bonus to farmers.

They also said all loans to the farmers should be waived as they were not in a position to repay them. They also urged the agencies to lift all stocks from grain markets.


 

Lok Adalat for farmers soon
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority, today said a special Lok Adalat to settle disputes of commission agents and farmers in connection with loans would be organised in Muktsar district shortly.

Mr Justice Bedi, who presided over a state-level Lok Adalat here today, said the special Lok Adalat would be organised to stop farmers reeling under huge debts from committing suicide. He added that so far talks held with the commission agents in this connection were fruitful.

Mr Justice Bedi said even though the largest number of cases pending in the high court were related to state governments, the response of government departments to solve these through the Lok Adalats was poor.

The Lok Adalats had become an effective tool to dispose of various civil disputes and reduce the burden of higher courts, he said. He lamented that even though the order of the Lok Adalats was equal to the decree of a civil court, various departments of the state governments did not bring their cases to the Lok Adalats.


 
CRIME

Fake currency seized, one held

Jalandhar, October 7
The special cell of the district police today arrested a person dealing in counterfeit Indian currency and seized fake notes worth Rs 1.20 lakh from his possession.

Claiming this here today Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said on specific information a Sub-Inspector of the special cell arrested Om Prakash from near Rasila Ashram in the Basti Danish Mandan locality of the city. On search of his luggage the counterfeit currency notes, all of hundred denomination were seized, he added.

Om Parkash is a resident of Shaktinagar near Fatehabad in Haryana.

Giving details, the SSP said Om Parkash during interrogation revealed that he was a member of a national-level racket, which had its roots in Bihar. He used to receive the fake currency from a person, whose identity was yet to be established, belonging to Patna, he added.

Om Prakash used to pay Rs.40 (genuine) for every Rs 100 counterfeit note that he received from the man from Patna, the SSP said.

He would in turn sell the fake currency locally by taking a clear margin of Rs 10,000 after every Rs 1 lakh of counterfeit notes, he added.

Mr Yadav said certain unscrupulous elements in the city were involved in purchasing the fake notes from Om Prakash and efforts were being made to arrest them.

The supervision of the investigation in this case had been entrusted to SP (Hq) M.F. Farooqui and more arrests were expected, he said. UNI


 

Opium seized
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 7
Mr Dilbagh Singh Gill, SSP, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday said the police had seized 2.2 kg of opium from the house of Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha, of Borawal village in the district. In another case, the Sardulgarh police seized 1 kg of opium from Nirmal Singh of Rori village in Sirsa district. Cases under the NDPS Act had been registered, he added.


 

Man kills father over land dispute

Jalandhar, October 7
A man murdered his father over a land dispute in Alampur Pacca village in the district last night.

A report here today said Kashmir Singh allegedly hit his aged father Gurmit Singh with an iron rod on the head when he was asleep. The blow proved fatal. UNI


 

Jacob to honour toppers
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 7
The first three toppers in the middle, matriculation and senior secondary examinations during the past three years will be honoured by the Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), at a function to be held on the Punjab School Education Board premises on October 16.

A spokesman of the board said as many as 61 students would be honoured at the function. In the senior secondary examination, the students obtaining the first three positions in the humanities, commerce and science streams would be honoured.

The Anuwant Kaur memorial award and the Parshottam Dass Batra memorial award would also be given to the toppers in the Punjabi language in the matriculation examination.


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