Monday, October 15, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



NCERT not to allow ‘saffronisation’
To delete objectionable portions on Gurus
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
The NCERT has decided in principle to project secularism and resolved to undo efforts by vested interests to “saffron” education in the country.

It has agreed to remove all objectionable material, especially on Sikh Gurus, from its textbooks.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minorities Commission said the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Directorate of the NCERT had decided to get all portions in textbooks pertaining to religion scanned by the Minorities Commission. The decision of the NCERT reads: “Information about each religion will be incorporated in the textbooks at various levels in schools. Further, it has been decided that the NCERT will send the draft portion on religion to be included in new textbooks to the National Commission for Minorities for vetting before publication”.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the National Commission for Minorities had been able to persuade the authorities concerned to implement the decision before the publication of textbooks for the next academic year.

In yet another significant decision, the NCERT has decided to issue instructions to the CBSE not to carry questions on the objectionable material on Gurus in this year’s examination papers. Such material would be deleted from the books from the next academic session.

The Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities said the commission wanted the education policy in the country to be secular and children be taught about all religions and taught respect for all religions to promote a broader out look to remove communal tension in the country.

He said during a meeting of the commission certain derogatory and objectionable remarks on the Sikh religion were specifically highlighted. He said the director of the NCERT had pointed out that unfortunately the references in the textbooks had been published about 15 years back and no new edition of the book had appeared since.

He said he had promised to endeavour to inculcate in the students a profound sense of patriotism and nationalism. He had said that caution must be exercised on education relating to religions and steps taken in advance to avoid prejudiced perceptions. He was keen to ensure that rituals, dogmas and superstition were not propagated in the guise of education. “All religions, therefore, have to be treated with equal respect”, he had emphasised.


SAD not to convene meeting on sacrilege issue
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 14
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will not convene an all-party meeting, as demanded by the Congress and other political parties, to discuss the issue pertaining to the burning of “birs” of Guru Granth Sahib at various places in the state recently.

This was disclosed by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister while addressing mediapersons after attending a bhog ceremony held at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in connection with the sacrilege of the “birs”.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh claimed that his party had concrete evidence against some Congress leaders. He said the Congress had become so desperate that it was resorting to such political gimmicks like provoking anti-social elements like Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara and his followers to indulge in the burning of “birs”. He said his party would forward the evidence to the Judicial Commission as and when it was set up by the state government.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said there would be no clash of interests between the SGPC, which was setting up its own commission, and the Judicial Commission being set up by the state government. He said the commission being set up by the SGPC was to be headed by a retired judge and thus it had no legal sanctity, while on the other hand the state government’s commission would have legal sanctity and the government would react after the commission gave its findings.

Coming down heavily on the Congress, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the hand of this party was very much evident as it was already proved that the foundation stone of the dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara was laid by none other than Mr Buta Singh, a former Union Home Minister.

Prominent among the others present at the bhog ceremony were Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, OSD to the Punjab CM, Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath, member of the SGPC, Mr Kashmir Singh Mavi, president of the district unit of the SAD (Rural), and Mr Ranjit Singh Nikra, president of the district unit of the SAD (Youth Wing).


Gurdev Badal, son undergo ‘tankhah’
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), October 14
Obeying the edict pronounced by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, on October 12, the Punjab Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Kewal Singh Badal, junior vice-president, SGPC started undergoing their “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, here yesterday.

The Akal Takht Jathedar had pronounced the “tankhah” for five Sikh leaders including, Mr Gurdev Badal, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, former MP Mr Bhag Singh and Mr Surjit Singh, both leaders of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), as they had violated the earlier “hukamnama” and had links with the excommunicated Sikh, Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The Sikh leaders undergoing “tankhah” at the Takht were wearing placards which read that they do not consider any person as their guru and had faith in the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib. They also sought pardon for their mistakes in the past and promised that they would not have another guru, other than Guru Granth Sahib in future.

The leaders washed utensils of the “langar”, dusted shoes of the devotees and listened to the “kirtan” for one hour. The “tankhah” would continue till Monday. They were accompanied by a large number of their supporters and Sikh leaders at the Takht.

The leaders expressed happiness while undergoing “tankhah”. They would be undergoing the same “tankhah” at the four other takhts.

The “hukamnama” pronounced by Giani Vedanti had directed them to undergo the “tankhah” at all five Sikh Takhts and they would seek apology from the “sangat” for their religious misdeeds. It was for the first time that a message reading that they would not consider any human being as their Guru, was directed to be carried around their necks by the Akal Takht Jathedar.

After undergoing their “tankhah” they would again appear before Akal Takht and offer a “karah parsad” of Rs 1,100 each.


‘Ardas’ for peace after sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 14
The bhog of shri akhand path was performed at Sarkari gurdwara here today to express resentment over the recent acts of sacrilege by the followers of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara in different parts of the state.

A large number of people from all sections attended the ceremony. Addressing the congregation after the “antim ardas”, Jathedar Lakhbir Singh Aryianwala, president of the district unit of SAD, condemned the acts of the antisocial elements who were out to disrupt peace in the state.

He appealed to the people to follow teachings of the Sikh Gurus and saints, who had preached humanity and peace for mankind. Mahant Seva Dass Singh, president, All-India Akali Dal (Pheruman) and Mr Makhan Singh Nangal, member, SGPC, also attended the function.


Ardas’ performed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
The bhog of Sri akhand path was performed today at the Akal Takht for the welfare of the ‘Khalsa Panth’. The bhog was held after the incidents of sacrilege of birs of Guru Granth Sahib in various parts of the state.

After the “ardas”, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, prayed for the peace and tranquillity in the state. He stressed the need to protect the holy ‘birs” by making prompt and necessary arrangements. Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, and a large number of devotees were present on the occasion.


PPCC objects to minister’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 14
Punjab Congress leaders have strongly objected to the ‘unabated, irresponsible statements’ of Punjab Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh pertaining to the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary Bir Devinder Singh said here today that the ministers had gone “berserk” and the Chief Minister had lost “control and command over them”.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said if Capt Kanwaljit Singh had any concrete information about the acts of sacrilege, he must make these public and name the persons involved in the conspiracy. The minister was using religious fora and making “irresponsible and highly provocative” speeches aimed at spreading communal hatred in Punjab, he added.


“Summon Khalsa Action panel at Akal Takht”
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
The Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Kahlon) has urged the Sikh high priests to summon members of the Khalsa Action Committee at Akal Takht for raising slogans when the ‘tankhah’ on Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, Punjab his son Mr Kewal Singh Badal, junior vice-president the SGPC and others was being pronounced on Friday.

Mr Kuldip Singh Kahlon, president of the youth wing alleged that the Khalsa Action Committee seemed to be the creation of the Congress party. He said the ‘tankhah’ was not mild as alleged by some vested interests.


Paswan projected as future PM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The Union Coal and Mines Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, here today termed minorities as “border guards” of the country amidst his projection by his Dalit followers as the “future Prime Minister”.

“The minorities are generally concentrated on the country’s borders and they did not come from abroad,” Mr Paswan said at the National Valmiki Conference organised here by the Rashtriya Valmiki Dharma Samaj and attended by LJP office-bearers.

Mr Paswan’s projection as the future Prime Minister, assumes significance after the US strikes caused worry amongst a section of the Muslims.

The importance of the statement also increases with Muslim protests generally earning them the tag of “foreign loyalists” from Hindu hardliners who form the BJP’s core base and have announced plans for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya around the time of the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Mr Paswan, however, later talking to journalists, clarified that he was only reiterating efforts for communal harmony adding that “Muslims, Christians and Buddhists who are on the border are not foreigners but from the country itself.”

The LJP chief said that the issue of contesting the Punjab Assembly poll had been left to the local party unit and he would visit Bathinda on November 1.

Mr Paswan continued his opposition to the contract labour system which was one of the highlights of the pro-liberalisation Union Budget of Mr Yashwant Sinha.

The LJP leader, who broke away from the Janata Dal (United) led by the Labour Minister, Mr Sharad Yadav, denied that there were efforts to reunite Janata parivar.

Rumours were afloat in this regard after Mr Paswan and Mr Sharad Yadav shared the dais recently in Uttar Pradesh.

On the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), he said anti-national activities had to be judged by the government and tribunals in this regard.


BJP stakes claim to 35 seats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 14
It is official now. The BJP will no longer be content to contest only 23 seats in Punjab which it had contested in 1997. It will ask for at least 12 more seats this time. This was made clear by the state general secretary of the party, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, at a press conference after attending a meeting of the senior party leaders and prominent workers here today.

He said the winnability would be the criterion in choosing a candidate. He said the party had already started focussing on 23 segments from where it had contested in 1997 and had chosen 12 more segments, where it was preparing the candidates for the final battle. However, he did not specify any of the 12 segments. “Besides, these 35 segments it will also work in the remaining segments to ensure the victory of the alliance candidates”, he informed. He evaded queries, whether all sitting candidates would be fielded or not. He said, the candidates would be screened and selected by the All India Election Committee after taking into considerations various aspects.

Putting up a strong defence in support of his claim, he said, the party had performed “extremely well” during the past five years and said, it was wrong to claim that the party’s graph had gone down.

Admitting that there was resentment and disillusionment among some workers, Mr Jaiswal hoped it would be overcome soon. He said, unlike other political parties, the BJP workers were not associated with the party with any individual agenda. Disillusionment among party workers was natural once it came to power as “everyone cannot be satisfied every time” he said.

Referring to today’s convention, he said it was organised in connection with the All-India working committee meeting of the party being organised at Amritsar from November 2 to November 4. Besides the party president Mr K. Janakrishnamurthy, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Home Minister Mr L.K. Advani and the Union Human Resource Development Minister Mr Murli Manohar Joshi and Chief Ministers of several states will attend the meeting.

Mr Jaiswal said, although the party workers were keen on organising a rally during the three day session, it was decided that the party would concentrate its energy on the November 13 rally, being organised at Amritsar in connection with the two hundred years of coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Commenting on the prospects of a rapprochement between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, he said: “The BJP will welcome it, since it will strengthen our prospects”. However, he clarified that the BJP had not taken any initiative for a rapprochement between the two. 


Front to contest 40 seats: RPI
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 14
The Republican Party of India (RPI) will contest from 50 segments in alliance with the National Democratic Front, constituted recently, in the forthcoming assembly elections.

Mr Gian Singh Sandhu, President of the state RPI unit said in a press conference here today. He said the front would contest from 40 seats and both (RPI and Front) would support Independent candidates in remaining seats in the state. Efforts would be made to defeat the Congress and SAD-BJP candidates who had exploited Dalits and backward classes and promoted corruption, communalism and nepotism, he alleged.

Mr Sandhu said if the RPI and the National Democratic Front come to power they would reconstitute policies relating to employment, development, agriculture, industry, education. They would also decrease the bus fare and power tariff.


They work under shadow of death
Gayatri Rai
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 14
“It is better to die working than to die of hunger”, said Kiran, a washerwoman working near Gobind Fort here for the past many years. She is among hundreds of people working on the road alongside the wall of the fort, which has been declared unsafe by the authorities concerned.

The local municipal council has put up signboards along the periphery of the fort cautioning: “Beware, the wall of the fort may fall any time and for this reason this road is closed”. People working along the wall of the fort are aware of the fact that they are working under the shadow of death, but to earn a livelihood they chose to ignore it.

The “dhobi ghat” has been here for more than 25 years. At present at least 300 persons work here for 10 hours or more a day.

When this correspondent talked to some of them, they said they wanted to shift to a safe place and for the purpose had met Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, and the municipal council authorities. But nothing had happened so far. Washing clothes was the only work option with them as their children even after getting education could not find jobs. The families had been working here for the past two decades and had seen portions of the fort collapse several times. They alleged that the local authorities had broken their furnaces built adjacent to the fort wall last year without any notice. The authorities had said that saplings would be planted instead for the beautification of the fort premises but even after a gap of so several months, nothing had been done.

Apart from the “dhobi ghat”, a dairy farm, a workshop making quilts and two schools are operating adjacent to the wall and the road is being used for vehicular traffic. The 120-feet high walls have become a constant threat to the people residing in surrounding localities. Encroachers have constructed dwellings without the permission of the municipal council. These permanent constructions on the moat are causing a hindrance in the repair work of the fort.

In the rainy season, the condition gets worse as lime from the walls of the fort, known as the ‘mud fort’, is washed away and bricks fall one by one. But the authorities have failed to make arrangements to prevent the walls from falling. Over the years, a portion of Rani Mehal has collapsed. Out of 36 bastions of the fort, 18 have crumbled.

The fort has lost its significance for tourists due to its dilapidated condition, heaps of debris and unhindered movement of stray animals.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president, Bathinda Municipal Council, when contacted, said the scheme to provide an alternative site for washermen was in the pipeline. Whenever the council tried to get the roadsides and footpaths vacated, the vendors refused to cooperate. In certain cases, the vendors ‘allotted’ the sites originally allotted to them by the council.

He said the council was interested in beautification of the fort surroundings so that it could attract more people, but this was not under its jurisdiction and the ASI considered it as interference in its work.


Visually impaired on warpath
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The visually impaired of Punjab are on the warpath again in protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the state government towards their long-standing demands.

A meeting of the executive committee of the Punjab branch of the National Federation of the Blind held here today took stock of the situation as regards the visually impaired and accused the government of merely paying lip service to the cause of the blind.

Mr Rajesh Mohan, general secretary of the NFB, complained that despite repeated reminders to the Governor of Punjab, the Punjab Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary to the state government, precious little had been done to redress the grievances of the visually impaired, leaving them with no alternative but to resume their agitation. “Ïmproper job reservation for the visually impaired has become a matter of routine with the government”, he complained. “Many a time, posts advertised are not in accordance with the job identification list”.

He also complained that the condition of institutions being run by the government for the education of the visually impaired was deteriorating day by day. Despite reminders, the state government had done nothing to initiate reforms in these institutions. He said that the government did not seem to be serious about the implementation of the Disability Act of 1995. Although the post of Disability Commissioner had been created, he had not been provided with adequate staff.

Meanwhile, World White Safety Cane Day will be observed here tomorrow with a practical demonstration by the visually impaired at a road crossing. According to Maj-Gen Rajendra Nath (retd), chairman of the Institute for the Blind here the concept of observing the day was pioneered by an American, Dr Richard E.Hoover.

Visual impairment imposes severe restrictions on the ability of an individual to move about. Thus, the importance of mobility and orientation in the rehabilitation of individuals with visual impairment is indisputable.

The white cane is still believed to be a great companion of the visually impaired. It helps find surfaces of different textures, stairs, etc. “A person should use certain clues and landmarks while using the long cane for independent travel. The techniques include using the white cane while walking with a sighted person, walking on a shoreline and trailing with the cane,” says General Rajendra Nath.

The objective of observing the World White Safety Cane Day is to create awareness among the public regarding the importance of the white cane in the life of the visually impaired. The cane provides confidence, safety and enormous opportunity to the individual to explore the environment and interact meaningfully.


Directory for blind soon
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 14
The Divine Eye Research Foundation, an NGO, will publish a directory for the blind to help them get treatment.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Rakesh Narula, president of the foundation, said with the help of social service organisations of the region and youth clubs the details about blinds were being collected.

He further said after getting the details the foundation would make arrangements for their check-up and further treatment.

He added that doctors would examine the patients free of cost.


Pensioners unhappy with Punjab Govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Pensioners in Punjab have expressed disillusionment with the state government for its inability to meet their long-pending demands. Government pensioners have alleged that despite repeated assurances by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, regarding the implementation of the recommendations of Fourth Punjab Pay Commission, little has been done by the administration.

They say more than three years have passed since the report containing 10 major recommendations concerning pensioners was submitted to the state government. However, other than the revision of pensions, the government has failed to implement any of the other recommendations. These include old-age allowance at the rate of 5 per cent and 10 per cent on attaining the age of 65 and 75 years, respectively; 97 per cent DA admissible on July 1, 1993, to be counted for gratuity; and benefit in pension for service rendered beyond 33 years.

Other demands relate to the restoration of commuted pension after 11 and a half years; reservation of plots and flats in PUDA colonies; at least 50 per cent pension of the minimum of the revised grade of the post held at the time of retirement; and increase in the expenses incurred on dentures, spectacles and hearing aids. Mr R.N. Sehgal, president of the Government Pensioners Association, says post January, 1996, retirees are also unhappy over the Punjab Government’s notification pertaining to the restoration of commuted pension after 15 years instead of 12 years as is in the case of pre-96 retirees. He says the medicare allowance of Rs 250 per month should be raised to Rs 300 per month and the condition of no reimbursement up to Rs 6,000 on the treatment of chronic diseases should be rolled back.


Conference discusses role of anaesthesia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 14
The two-day conference of the Indian Society of Anaesthesiologist concluded here today. Dr H.L. Kaul, Professor and Head, Department of Anaesthesiology, AIIMS, New Delhi who delivered the “first Dr Pritam Singh Oration” sensitised the delegates regarding the need and skills of practice of anaesthesia required in the next decade for improving patient care. He emphasised the need to develop innovative products, processes and use newly developed technical advances.

Dr Yatin Mehta from Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, discussed his experience of “Anaesthesia for coronary artery bypass graft surgery” developed in the last one decade. Prolonged anaesthesia for this heart surgery required extraordinary skills as it involved extraordinary risks.

Dr R.P. Gehdoo from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, explained the high priority importance of assessment of carbon dioxide (CO2) in blood before and during undertaking any anaesthetic agent and drugs. He focussed the attention of delegates on the importance of transmitting benefits of scientific advancement in decreasing the cost of anaesthetic agents and improving their safety and efficiency.

Dr C.K. Dua from Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, while speaking on the most common method of conducting painless delivery (obstetric analgesia) commented that this practice had led to the elimination of fear, apprehension and anxiety associated with the delivery of babies. The discovery of newer agents and methods to induce painless labour had given relief to would-be-mothers.

Dr (Mrs) Promila Chari, from PGI, Chandigarh, highlighted her newly patent technique in which a woman delivers the baby without any pain and can walk immediately after the delivery.

About 50 research papers were presented. Dr M.S. Khanna, organising secretary of Nzisacon gave away mementoes and prizes to the chief guest, judges, speakers and delegates.

A general body meeting was held in which Dr M.S. Khanna was elected president of the North Zone, Indian Society of Anaesthesia, Dr Katyal, vice president, Dr Onkar Singh, general secretary, Dr Jasbir Kaur, joint secretary, and Dr A.P. Kataria as treasurer. The executive members are Dr S.S. Walia from Punjab, Dr I.D. Santoshi from H.P., Lt. (Col.) Dr Balbir from the Army, Dr Sarla Hooda from Haryana, Dr Sudarshan Gupta from Srinagar, and Dr Abdul Ahad from Srinagar, and Dr K.K. Gomber from Chandigarh.


State ‘retracting’ from responsibilities
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
In his valedictory address on the concluding day of the two-day national symposium on the review of the working of Constitution, political scientist Bhupender Singh Brar remarked that the Indian state was retracting so far as its responsibilities were concerned but was advancing in its moves towards acquiring more power.

He said this was a damaging and dangerous trend and needed to be checked.

The symposium was jointly organised by the Department of Political Science and Laws of Guru Nanak Dev University and sponsored by the National Commission of Review of the working of Constitution of India.

Prof Ranbir Singh, UGC fellow at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla in his presentation said development, then deterioration and lastly decay of the Panchayati Raj system constituted its trajectory. The seventy-third amendment and its creation, the eleventh schedule had not improved the situation. He said there should be separate lists of power to be given to the panchayats. There should also be a separate finance commission and direct election should be held at all levels of Panchayati Raj. He said MLAs, MPs, deputy commissioners and collectors should be kept out of panchayat affairs. Prof Ranbir Singh was of the view that chief executive officers dealing with the panchayats should be removed and drastic land reforms were required. Quoting James Maryall of Cambridge University, he said changes come from the society and not from constitution. One of the major problems was public apathy, he added.

Mr Sohan Lal Amrohi, state president Punjab Yuva Shakti Sangh, however, said it was the thinking of the leaders of political parties, which needed to be changed to make India a better place.


Voters’ I-card preparation from Oct 18
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 14
A campaign to prepare the remaining voters’ photo identity cards is to be launched in the district from October 18. “Voters shall get their I-cards within four days of being photographed,” said Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner and the District Electoral Officer.

He said the exercise would be conducted in Amloh and Sirhind constituencies in this round and the pictures would be taken at the central polling stations, clubbing four polling stations each, to ensure that voters covered the minimum distance for this purpose. He said 43 central polling stations had been designated for preparing cards of voters of 172 polling stations of Sirhind, besides 48 stations for voters of 186 polling stations of Amloh.

He said the administration, besides office-bearers of all political parties, panchayats and Municipal Councils were also being involved to make this campaign a success.

The Deputy Commissioner also said a special revision of electoral rolls would also be conducted in the district for entertaining new claims for induction.

The inductions can be claimed from November 3 to 29, forms for which can be obtained from the office of the Election Tehsildar on any working day.


Ex-servicemen allege discrimination
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 14
Liet Gen M.M. Lakhera (retd.), Chairman, Ex-Servicemen Cell of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) addressed a massive convention of the Ex-Servicemen Cell of the PPCC on Sunday at the Bansal Palace here in which ex-servicemen from Bathinda, Moga, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Sangrur and Ludhiana districts participated in large numbers to share their grievances and discuss various problem being faced by them.

General Lakhera said the cell had decided to organise a national-level convention of ex-servicemen at Ludhiana in December to celebrate Vijay Divas. General Lakhera said the Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi, would be the chief guest at this convention.

General Lakhera alleged that the ex-servicemen all over the country were facing discrimination and getting step-motherly treatment from the Union government. He said the Ex-Servicemen Cell of the AICC was striving to get one-rank one-pension, making efforts for hike in pension and improving the lot of the ex-servicemen in all regards.

He called upon the ex-servicemen to bring Amarinder Singh, state Congress chief and ex-servicemen to power by making a pro-Congress wave in ensuing Assembly poll to get their grievances redressed.

Addressing the convention, Capt Parveen Davar (retd. secretary of the AICC Ex-Servicemen Cell, assailed Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for “encouraging corruption and family rule.” He urged the ex-servicemen to organise themselves and emerge as a force to reckon with.

Col Zorawar Singh (retd.), chairmen, Ex-Servicemen Cell PPCC, while addressing said their right of 13 per cent reservation in government jobs had not so far been granted. He strongly advocated for overhauling of the District Sainik Welfare Boards and registration of security agencies.

Others who addressed the convention were Lieut-Col Jarnail Singh (retd.), Lieut-Col Babu Singh, (retd.) Jasbir Singh former Punjab Minister and Paramjit Singh Maan, president, PPCC Ex-Servicemen Cell, Sangrur.


Kishore Kumar remembered
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 14
A function was held on the 14th death anniversary of late singer Kishore Kumar at Government Education College here last evening.

The programme was organised by the 3-A Creation Club in collaboration with A.S. Music and Dance Academy. Mr Manjit Singh Narang, SDM, Patiala, was the chief guest on the occasion. Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, member of the Press Council of India, and Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, President, District Congress Committee (Urban) were also present at the function.

Rajesh Pancholi sang Kishore Kumar’s songs from films like ‘Safar’, ‘Amar Prem’, ‘Kati Patang’, ‘Blackmail’ and ‘Kudrat’.

Senior Announcer at Akashwani, Patiala, Paramjit Singh Parwana, sang two songs from ‘Yaraana’ and ‘Aap Ki Kasam’. Yet another singer was Bharat Bhushan Bittu who sang ‘Chalte, Chalte...’.


Dev Anand’s village a picture of neglect
Tilak Raj Gupta

Gurdaspur, October 14
Residents of Gharota, 27 km from here native place of Bollywood star Dev Anand are worried about neglect of the area. Mr Jaimal Singh, sarpanch, Dilbeero Rani, Yash Pal and Pritam Chand, panches of Gharota said the village had only one tubewell for the supply of drinking water, which operates only for one hour. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab when visited the area in April this year promised to sink another tubewell and also ordered the public health department to complete the installation of another tubewell within a year, but in vain. He said the main link road from Dinanagar to Gharota and from Gharota to Pathankot are dilapidated. At certain places the road had been washed away. During rains make it difficult to use the road for scooter riders and other two wheelers.

Mr Jaimal Singh said that the streets and drains of Gharota are far from satisfactory. The telephone department digs streets to lay wire and does not repair the roads damaged in the process. The conditions become worse during rains.

He said bus services from Pathankot to Gharota, Gharota to Dina Nagar had been in an operation earlier. But these services had been stopped for last one year. The students who go to Pathankot for higher studies are a worried lot in view of non-availability of bus services. The adversely affected villages of the area included Gharmour, Nalla Chauhan, Jandi Chounta, Dhamral, Summo Chack, Koche.


SHO slaps BJP activist, probe ordered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 14
Mr Anil Kumar, a BJP activist was allegedly slapped by SHO Balbir Singh last night when he was closing his shop.

Mr Anil Kumar alleged that the SHO was under the influence of liquor and mufti when he misbehaved with him.

Following the incident, BJP workers and shopkeepers gathered near the city police station and reportedly protested against the SHO. Later, a deputation of the BJP led by Mr Nanak Chand Kalra, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Sangrur, met the SP (Headquarters), Mr Mandip Singh.

The SHO was medically examined at the local Civil Hospital on the orders of the SP. Dr Sanjeev Jindal, who examined the SHO, said blood and urine samples of the police officer had been handed over to the police.

A deputation of the BJP led by Mr Kalra today also met the Deputy Commissioner. Mr Kalra said the Deputy Commissioner had ordered the SP (D), Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, to look into the matter.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, talking to this correspondent this evening, said he would submit a report in two to three days. He made it clear if the SHO was found guilty, action would be initiated against him. The SHO was not available for comment.


Brahampura opens cultural festival
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 14
Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Punjab Cooperation Minister yesterday inaugurated the three-day interstate youth cultural festival here organised by the Socioeconomic Development Programme (SEDP) of the diocese of Amritsar.

Mr P.K. Samanta Rai, Bishop of Amritsar presided over the function and welcomed the teams from different states participating in the festival.

Mr D.B. Das, secretary of the SEDP said teams from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir were participating in this festival which will conclude on Monday.


Rashtriya Rifles jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 14
Jawan Gurjeet Singh of the Rashtriya Rifles (Mahar), who died fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir on October 11, was cremated with full military honours at his native village Khabra near Ropar. Gurjeet Singh succumbed to his injuries during the encounter with militants at Barakuchan village in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. He had just joined his duty. Gurjeet Singh’s paternal uncle lit the pyre as his parents had already died and he was the only surviving member of the family.

The cremation was attended among others by the Printing and Stationery Minister, Punjab, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Major S.K. Sood of the 302 Air Defence Academy, ADC, Ropar, Mr Krishan Kumar, SDM, Ropar, and the DSWO, Major Pishora Singh.


Patwaris to hold dharna tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 14
All patwaris of Punjab will hold dharna and rallies against the Deputy Commissioner of Police and district revenue office of the Amritsar at various district headquarters on October 16.

This was disclosed by Mr Nirmaljit Singh Bajwa, president of the Revenue Patwar Union at a protest dharna held here yesterday.

The patwaris would also go on relax fast in groups of five persons daily, said Mr Bajwa, alleging that the administration had failed to implement the demands including, GPF and GIS accepted by the authorities.

Meanwhile, the district Kanungo Association also threatened to join the patwar union’s stir.


Bibi Jagir Kaur hospitalised
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 14
Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, was hospitalised following drug reaction which occurred while she was on way to her “dera” at Begowal last night.

She complained of restlessness while travelling. Her followers brought her to the local BBC Heart Care Centre where she was hospitalised late last night.

A team of doctors led by Dr Charanjit Singh Pruthi, of the Heartcare Centre, who is supervising the treatment of the Bibi said condition of Bibi Jagir Kaur was stable now and she was recovering. “Dr Purthi said she was admitted in the hospital with symptoms of low blood pressure and examination revealed that she was suffering from anaphylactic reactions. “Probably, she might have consumed some drug or tablet which led to anaphylaxis and difficulty in breathing. She is alright now and we may discharge her today,” said Dr Pruthi. Her supporters getting the news of her hospitalisation reached the hospital to know her condition.


Probe sought into union leader’s murder
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
Leaders of various political parties, including SAD and BJP, demanded the arrest of those responsible for the sensational murder of union leader Devinder Singh Walia last week.

Ms Ratna, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee while paying tributes to the employee leader at his bhog ceremony here today demanded a high-level probe into the murder. She said it was a matter of concern that despite the fact that accused had been identified by the family yet no arrest has been made so far.

Former Akali leader Manjit Singh Calcutta said the law and order situation in the state had deteriorated. Former member of Parliament Kirpal Singh said the murderers of Devinder Singh should be arrested immediately.


Late train irks passengers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 14
Mr Khushal Dutta, Vice-President, Northern Railway Passengers Association, in a complaint lodged with the Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepore, alleged that train number 345 (down) running on the Ferozepore-Bathinda-Jind section had been running late for sometime and no action had been taken to improve the situation.

Mr Dutta said the shuttle train connect two trains in the city — the Bathinda-Ambala and the Bathinda-Rewari trains, while these two trains run as per schedule. Passengers of the connecting shuttle (345 down) usually miss the two trains.

He alleged that the train was held up at the Goniana railway station for more than 30 minutes which caused the delay.


Slow lifting of paddy resented
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 14
Due to the lifting of paddy at a snail’s pace, nearly two lakh bags of paddy have accumulated in the grain market here.

Mr Pradeep Kumar Singla, secretary of the local Arhtiya Association, said the paddy, procured even on October 4, was yet to be lifted by the procurement agencies. He said the non-lifting of paddy was creating inconvenience to arhtiyas.


Medicinal plant board soon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 14
The Punjab Government is all set to constitute a medicinal plant board in the state. The board will have multiple functions with main focus on conserving, preserving and producing medicinal plants, besides motivating farmers to go for crop diversification and grow medicinal plants, which are claimed to have good export and domestic demand.

Official sources stated that a committee constituted by the Health Minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, had already submitted its report to the government in this regard. The board has been conceptualised by the Department of Indian System of Medicine, Government of India. It has already been constituted at the national level and all states have been directed to constitute their respective boards. The basic aim is believed to be to exploit the ancient knowledge of herbs.

The Director, Ayurveda, Punjab, Mr Sanjay Popli, confirmed that the board was likely to be constituted very soon after the Cabinet approval. In an interview to The Tribune, he pointed out that there was a great potential of medicinal herbs across the country and in abroad. So far, there has not been any organised or planned effort to preserve, develop or improve their quality.

“Now it would be a planned and organised effort at the level of the farming community, which would be encouraged to grow these plants and would definitely be getting very good results”, he observed. The project will be fully sponsored by the Government of India.

The board will have three types of members. The Health Minister will be the ex-officio chairman, the Minister of State for Health, the vice-chairman, while the Principal Secretary, Health, secretaries of forest, science and technology, agriculture, finance, culture and tourism, commerce and industry as members would be its ex-officio members. There will be members from the pharmaceutical industry and six physicians of repute.

The sources added, that the technical members include ayurvedic physician and health columnist Dr R. Vatsyayan, Dr Pradeep Nagrath, Dr S.R. Vats, Dr B.K. Kaushik, Dr Narinder Chawla and Dr N.K. Sharma. All the members will be nominated for a five-year term.


Govt may sell land to encroachers
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 14
Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat while talking to news- persons here today said as much as 4000 acres belonging to zila parishads in the urban areas had been encroached upon by individuals. He said the government planned to transfer this land to the encroachers on prices assessed by the respective deputy commissioners and his team.

Mr Kahlon said the Punjab government had also decided to give one JCB machine for digging in each development block. These machines would be used to dig ponds. The state government had received Rs 8 crore in this regard.

Mr Kahlon said 50,000 acres belonging to panchayat samitis and zila parishads had also been encroached upon by the cases in this connection were pending in the courts. He added that the government was devising ways and means to get rid of these encroachments so that the income made out of the said land could be used in the development in rural areas.

Earlier, addressing a public meeting here, Mr Kahlon warned the people to be cautious of anti-social and anti-religious elements.

Mr Kahlon, who is also a member of political affairs committee of SAD, said the sitting MLA from Gurdaspur assembly constituency will be given another chance to contest the coming assembly elections from this constituency. All statements by the vested interests in this regard were baseless.


Improper records of paddy: 2 issued show-cause notice
Our Correspondent

Lalru, October 14
Two persons, including an employee of the local Market Committee, were issued show-cause notice by the Chairman of the committee for not maintaining proper records of the paddy received in the grain market.

According to sources, the shop of Mr Nand Lal, vice-president of the committee, was raided and it was found that he had entered less quantity of paddy than he received actually.

He also found that Mr Jarnail Singh, a government employee, had not made any entry for the paddy which the farmers had brought to the market yesterday.


Mill worker dies in accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 14
Three deaths have been reported in the area during the past 24 hours, including that of an employees of the local Co-operative Sugar Mill.

According to sources, Major Singh, a resident of Naushehra Pannuan village, an employee of the Co-operative Sugar Mill, Sheron, was killed on the spot when his scooter was hit by a vehicle near Sheron village last night.

He was going back to his village after performing work. The local Sadar police has registered a case under Sections 304-A and 279 IPC.

According to another report a taxi driver, Jaspal Singh, a resident of Thathi Khara village died when his taxi (PB-30-8800) was hit by a speeding truck coming from the opposite side. The local police has registered a case under Sections 304-A and 279, IPC, against the truck driver.

Constable Tejinder Singh posted at Patti died under suspicious circumstances last night.


‘Bully’ Excise men identified
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 14
The Nawanshahr police has identified the Excise and Taxation officials who allegedly harassed late night commuters on the Chandigarh-Amritsar GT Road by raising “Special Naka” near Balachaur on the night of October 12 and 13. The officials who had stopped vehicles including tourist buses and forced the travellers to open their baggage and even misbehaved with them were led by Inspector Pushpinder Singh and five junior officers and not by some Surinder Pal Singh, said a senior police officer from Nawanshahr.

The officials had refused to identify themselves after repeated queries by the commuters. Even the person leading the team had tried to conceal his real identity by introducing himself as Inspector Surinder Pal Singh when this correspondent had reached the spot after getting information about harassment of commuters by some people near Balachaur. Though the inspector maintained that the “naka” has been laid following “specific information” and “orders from the top”, a senior Chandigarh based Excise Department officer expressed ignorance about such orders.


Eunuch shot at for refusing to dance
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 14
Eunuch Seema Mahant got bullet injuries when infuriated Veerpal Singh opened fire on her refusal to dance with him at a function. The incident took place at the house of an NRI, Mr Nasib Chand, at the local Purhiran locality yesterday. Seema Mahant was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Mr Nasib Chand had arranged a party. Seema along with her party went to perform at the function. Veerpal insisted Seema to dance with him. On her refusal, he started firing. A case has been registered.

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