Tuesday, October 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sacrilege: Bhalla panel notified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Punjab Government tonight formally notified the appointment of Justice K.S. Bhalla as a one-man commission of enquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, to probe into burning of birs of the holy Guru Granth Sahib at various places in the State but failed to set the time limit for completion of inquiry.

A formal notification issued by the Home Department said that the commission would submit its report to the state government “as soon as possible”.

The terms of reference for the commission say that it would inquire into the “burning of birs of holy Guru Granth Sahib at Rasoolpur village, Tarkhan Majra village, besides other places in the State.”

The commission shall also enquire who were the “persons responsible for committing the aforesaid crime “ and who all were involved in the “conspiracy, if any”.

Neither the notification nor the terms of reference have any mention of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara or his dera.


Coronation against Sikh maryada: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Vajpayee’s stand praised

Praising the stand taken by Prime Minister Vajpayee, on the Ram Mandir issue, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, criticised the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani. The Prime Minister had taken the right stand on this issue. He had said that either the Ram Mandir should be built after reaching a consensus with the opposing party ( Muslims) or the court’s verdict should be accepted by all concerned. However, Mr Advani wanted to construct the temple without bothering about such niceties. Mr Tohra said his party was not opposed to the construction of the Ram Mandir but was only against the use of terror to built it.

Chandigarh, October 29
Urging the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, not to participate in the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Amritsar in the third week of November, a former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said today that there was no concept of “tajposhi”( coronation) in the Sikh religion.

The Sikhs believed in the supremacy of their Guru and not that of any individual, he added.

Mr Vajpayee was being misled on the coronation by President of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his supporters for their vested political interests. The performance of ceremonies like coronation was against the basic tenets of the Sikh religion, he added. He said Mr Vajpayee should not participate in any activity being organised by sacrificing the basics of Sikhism.”

“The participation of Mr Vajpayee in the function, which was being held in violation of the Sikh maryada, will hit his popularity among Sikhs”, Mr Tohra added. No historian till date had confirmed the coronation of the Maharaja. On what basis was such a function being organised by Mr Badal? he asked.

He said it was clear that Mr Badal was not interested in Maharaja Ranjit Singh. His only interest was to organise a big rally for election purposes by spending government money. It was misuse of government funds, he added.

He said the Maharaja was a firm believer in the supremacy of Akal Takht. He himself turned up at Akal Takht to seek punishment when his conduct as a Sikh was questioned whereas Mr Badal had made all efforts to demolish Akal Takht as an institution, Mr Tohra added.

Opposing the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance ( POTO), Mr Tohra said he would oppose it in the Rajya Sabha and not allow it to be converted into an Act.

Urging Mr Badal to take a stand against POTO, Mr Tohra said there was no need to issue such an ordinance. It had been issued to silence minorities in the country. All Akali factions, including Mr Badal’s, should take a stand against POTO and oppose it collectively. There were a number of parties in the National Democratic Alliance which had opposed POTO.

Mr Tohra said that his party was totally opposed to terrorism and the culture of the gun in any form. Nothing could be achieved by resorting to violence. But at the same time his party was also opposed to POTO-type draconian measures which were often used to inflict excesses on minorities.

First, the Union Government should define the worlds “terrorism” and “terrorist”. Without this it was quite possible that POTO would be misused. Earlier, it had happened in Punjab’s case when the police misused TADA.


Haryana getting water through Bhakra canal’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
Senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, Gurcharan Singh Tohra said today that Haryana had been given excess share of river waters through the Bhakra Main canal by Punjab.

He said that for ensuring more water to Haryana, both banks of the canal had been raised, obviously to increase its capacity.

He said that this while talking to mediapersons at the local Guru Gobind Singh College. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was misleading people by saying that he would not release water in the SYL canal. “When Haryana is getting its share through the Bhakra canal, what is the need for releasing water through the SYL canal, he asked.

He said that reports pertaining to his patch-up with Mr Badal were baseless. No senior leader of the BJP was mediating between him and Mr Badal. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had called him to dinner twice at his residence about six months ago. “I had accepted the invitations”. But when I came to know that Mr Badal would also be there, I did not go on both occasions,” Mr Tohra said. He said he had got the feeling then that Mr Vajpayee might try for a patch-up between them for which “I was not ready”.

Mr Tohra said that immediately after his rift with Mr Badal two years ago, he had called on Mr Vajpayee, Mr L.K. Advani and the RSS chief for resolving their differences, but they did not take interest. That was the end of the matter.

He said the judicial commission set up by Mr Badal to probe the recent acts of sacrilege would serve no purpose. Mr Badal was playing a fraud on the people by setting up his own commission. If the two commissions — one set up by Mr Badal and the other by the SGPC — gave contradictory reports, which report would be accepted, he asked.


Procurement season is their lifeline
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, October 29
Shortly, Chowdhary Ramesh, Shero, Palo, Naresh Yadav and Kallu will disperse from Morinda. They came to the grain market from various places on September 21, the day procurement of paddy got off in Punjab. Procurement operations will stop in a week or so.

Chowdhary Ramesh, a “palledar” engaged in the loading and unloading of paddy, will have about Rs 4000 in his pocket on return. Like several other people from the Balachaur area, every paddy season he earns that much.

“ I will buy medicines (he is an asthma patient), clothes and other sundries with the money. Though a meagre sum, yet it will be enough to provide livelihood for about three months. Then the wheat will arrive and I will be back in Morinda again”, he told TNS. Back home, he remains without work for most of the year.

A ragpicker, Shero, her daughter Bobby and their neighbours Palo and her husband Gurmel earn about Rs 35 each daily from paddy residue that is abandoned by farmers after the sieving of paddy brought to the market.

“ We leave ragpicking to collect the residue during the wheat and the paddy seasons. It is a bit respectable,” says Shero. Each one of us earns around Rs 4,500 by the end of the paddy procurement and also in case of wheat procurement.

For local teastall owner Rammu, the paddy and wheat seasons prove to be fruitful. “In routine I earn about Rs 100 daily but during the paddy season lasting seven weeks, my earning touches Rs 500 daily”. So says a small dhaba owner, Jagan Nath.

Kallu, a tractor driver employed by a sheller owner, makes about Rs 10,000 during the paddy and wheat seasons. Truckers earn between Rs 1,500 and 2,000 daily during the procurement.

For farmers and their sharecroppers, “palledars” and teastall owners, truckers and commission agents, the procurement season is a great source of sustenance.

Approximately Rs 14,000 crore goes into the pockets of farmers, Rs 350 crore to commission agents, Rs 540 crore to labourers and Rs 400 crore to truckers and tractor owners during the procurement seasons.

A revenue of about Rs 1,250 crore by way of sales tax, market fee, infrastructure cess, etc goes to the government treasury and the Mandi Board.

Rural development is mainly dependent on the revenue earned the Mandi Board from the sale of paddy and wheat.

Agricultural economists say that unfortunately in impression has been created that only farmers are benefitted by the sale of paddy and wheat through proper market channels. Perhaps, a section of media, which has not tried to find out how Punjab’s economy is rejuvenated twice in year by the sale of these foodgrains, is responsible for creating the wrong impression. About 80 per cent of the money generated in the market because of the sale of these foodgrains is pumped back into the state’s economy to keep it going.

These crops have become the lifeline of the state’s economy. Even a single failure of the wheat and paddy crops can lead to a socio-economic catastrophe in the state.

One can imagine the fate of thousands of labourers, truckers, tractor owners and their drivers, dhaba and teastall owners, besides commission agents, rice shellers and farmers in case of a failure of these crops.


Crop damage due to ‘spurious seeds’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 29
Farmers of the cotton belt of the Doaba region are in for a trouble this time as cotton crop over about 3000 acres has been destroyed.

Though cotton is mostly grown in the Malwa region of Punjab, but due to dwindling income from the traditional paddy crop, a number of Doaba farmers, particularly, those of the Mand area of Jalandhar and Kapurthala, took to cotton cultivation about two years ago. As a result a small cotton belt developed in and around the Mand area and parts of Phagwara sub-division. But their dreams were not to be realised due to American bollworm and the apathy of the Agriculture Department. The department, the farmers said, had first encouraged them to sow cotton as an alternative crop, but at a later stage started discouraging them, saying that the land was not suitable for the crop as its moisture content exceeded the required limits.

A survey of a number of villages such as Awan Khalsa, Vera, Daria Wale. Bille, Umarwal, Mehatpur, Sangowal and Raipur Raian revealed that nearly 90 per cent of the crop had been damaged by the bollworm and due to “low” quality seeds. “If the average per acre yield last year was between 8 and 10 quintals, this year it was just 40 to 50 kg”, said Ranjit Singh of Beetal Jhuggian, adding that the average per acre cost of inputs for the crop was between Rs 6000 and Rs 6500. “The experiment with the crop yielded good results last year and it had kindled a ray of hope among us,” said Chinder Singh of Raipur Raian, whose crop has been damaged. The farmers claimed that they had purchased “quality” seeds by paying through their nose. “Though the bollworm attack is cited as the main reason, still we think the seeds which were sold to farmers at exaggerated prices were spurious,” alleged Mr Gurjinder Singh, president of the Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab. He said he had met the Deputy Commissioner K. Shiva Prasad, who in turn has marked an inquiry into the matter.

Mr Baldev Singh, a farmer of Maddepur village, demanded that an inquiry should be ordered to verify the quality of seeds.


Power cuts hit cotton industry
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 29
The Punjab Government appeared determined to ruin the cotton industry, Mr Krishan Nagpal, secretary, Cotton Ginning and Pressing Factories Association, has said.

Mr Nagpal regrets that the factories were facing seven-hour power cuts besides weekly shutdown on Saturday.

The factories had to be kept closed for 11 working days in a month.

This had slowed down the ginning and pressing work which would ultimately affect the rates of cotton adversely, he said. Already the rates of narma and desi cotton were at par, which was unprecedented.

Farmers had been claiming that more than 60 per cent of the cotton crop in this belt had been completely damaged due to American bollworm.

Mr Nagpal said the government had not released subsidy to new industrial units on the pretext of paucity of funds.

The factory owners were supposed to deposit the amount of subsidy with the Punjab Financial Corporation from where they had taken huge loans. Industrialists had to pay heavy interest on such loans.

Repeated reminders had been sent to the officers concerned. The biggest cotton spinning mill in the private sector here had already been closed and cooperative spinning mills had not been functioning for the past six months which had cost the government lakhs of rupees. Even then no remedial measures had been taken.

Trade was facing an overall slump in different spheres and the situation was likely to deteriorate if the government did not take any step, he said.


BKU backs cotton growers’ stir
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 29
The Bharatiya Kisan Union Punjab unit, has extended support to the Northern India Cotton Growers Association in its agitation against the failure of the government to pay adequate compensation to farmers who have suffered losses to cotton crop due to bollworm attack.

Addressing the mediapersons here today, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, general secretary, and Mr Bhupinder Singh, press secretary said that the union had urged the government to waive loans advanced to the farmers. The farmers were not in a position to repay loans as many were under huge debt, they said.


UGC disapproves of institutes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 29
Two recently launched high profile institutes of the Punjabi University established on the campus here under the name of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology and the Talwandi Sabo Institute at Damdama Sahib in Bathinda district have come under a cloud with University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Dr Hari Gautam today saying no University could involve a private party to set up such institutes.

The UGC Chairman, who was here in connection with the North Zone Vice-Chancellors Conference, while talking to newsmen said no University could involve a franchisee to impart education. He said even if a private party was to be involved in any manner in the setting up of an institute, the university concerned would have to take permission of the UGC.

Dr Hari Gautam said the UGC would verfiy the antecedents of such private parties to ensure they had the required where withal or not. He however said he did not know the status of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute which is functioning on the varsity campus in collaboration with a private party. He however was emphatic that no varsity would be allowed to violate rules.

The Punjabi University’s plans to start admissions of a foreign University on the campus have also been jeopardised with the UGC Chairman saying all foreign Universities wishing to admit students to their courses in the country would have to first register themselves with the UGC. He said the UGC would check the antecedents of the varsity as well as whether it had the required infrastructure and staff or not.

Dr Gautam when questioned about the large number of false Universities which had mushroomed in the country, said the UGC had received complaints of 19 such varsities and had taken action against them. He said a law was also in the pipeline under which setting up of such institutes would be made a cognisable offence.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Gautam said the Indian Universities have been producing quality education programmes. He called upon teachers and students to work hard to meet new challenges.

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University conferred Maharaja Ranjit Singh Coronation Bicentenary Award on Dr Hari Gautam in recognition of his contribution in the fields of medical sciences and higher education.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr Ahluwalia, said 21st century is characterised by a paradigm shift in our attitude towards knowledge and education. He said the transition from Industrial society to the knowledge society of 21st century was not merely a switchover from industrial age technologies to information technologies, rather it was marked by transition from postulates of the modern western civilisation to those of the new global civilisation. 


PPCC to deal firmly with dissidents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 29
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has decided to deal firmly with the growing dissidence in the party. Steps taken during the past few days have sent a signal not only to the dissidents but also to their abettors.

Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, president, Punjab Pradesh Mahila Congress, has confirmed that the nomination of Ms Rajni Mehta as the state vice-president has been cancelled. Her appointment letter has also been withdrawn by the state president as the appointment had sparked off a controversy. Ms Mehta had also been replaced as district president of the Mahila Congress by Ms Usha Chopra of Ferozepore as she had allegedly spearheaded a campaign against the district Congress president, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar. Ms Mehta was heading a parallel Congress front here to unite dissidents.

Ms Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, state secretary of the PPCC, had issued a communication on Friday stating that the block Congress committees which were reorganised recently without the approval of the DCC president in Ferozepore had been declared illegal. As per norms laid down by the AICC, all block presidents were required to forward the list of the new office-bearers through the DCC, but majority of the block presidents had preferred to give wide publicity to their lists of new office-bearers before sending the same to the PPCC, without taking the DCC president into confidence. Now all block presidents had been directed to strictly follow the guidelines and curb the dissidence effectively.

Some of the dissidents who had been working in connivance with the non-Congress parties over the issue of selection of candidates for the next Assembly elections got another rebuff on Saturday from a senior leader and former Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Balram Jakhar. He told this correspondent over the phone that all such elements and their bosses had been identified and would be exposed at an appropriate time. Nobody will be allowed to harm the hard-earned unity in the Congress by exploiting the issues of caste and creed, he added.

The Congress, under the leadership of Ms Sonia Gandhi, has pledged to oust anti-farmer, anti-employee, anti-labour and anti-trader SAD-BJP government from Punjab during the coming Assembly elections, he added.


SHSAD’s poll pact with BSP

Sangrur, October 29
The Panthic Morcha was having informal talks with Leftists for electoral alliance for Punjab assembly elections, said the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra here today.

Mr Chandumajra talking to reporters said that the morcha would welcome alliance with any political party, which believed in its programmes and policies. A poll compromise had been struck with the Bahujan Samaj Party, he claimed adding , an announcement in this regard would be made soon.

He said that the Panthic Morcha had rejected outrightly the inquiry commission setup by the state government to probe into the incident of sacrilege in Punjab. He said strict action would be taken against any Pathic Morcha leader who was found to be having close links with self-styled ‘Baba’ Piara Singh Bhaniarawala.

He said that a conference of his Akali Dal would be held at Ludhiana on November 24 to prepare election strategy.

Replying to a question, he said that the Panthic Morcha would contest the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee elections only if Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi was removed from its presidentship. UNI


SHSAD youth wing rally on November 1
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Members of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (SHSYAD) will hold a rally here on November 1 to express resentment against the failure of successive governments to punish those responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Hartej Singh Mehta, president of the district unit of the party, said in a press note issued here today that the decision to hold the rally was taken by the state unit of the party.


Drive against dera system
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 29
Taking cognizance of heightened public sensitivity towards the acts of sacrilege, activists of the Dal Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle and Sikh scholars today launched an awareness drive against the “dera culture” and gurudom on the concluding day of the two-day panthic convention held at Patti, 15 km from here.

The function attended by Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, was organised by Mr Kuldeep Singh Mann and Dr Sukhdev Singh, members of the committee constituted by people of 15 villages of Patti tehsil to check the increasing incidents of sacrilege.

Addressing a gathering, Jathedar Vedanti said the culprits behind the recent acts of sacrilege, including Piara Singh Bhaniara, had been booked under the various acts of the IPC and in case they “managed” to secure their release, Khalsa Panth had the potential “to take care of its enemy”. He clarified that the demand raised by certain Sikh leaders to book Bhaniarawala on murder charge was ill conceived since the concept and principle of Guru Granth Sahib could not be murdered. Many Sikh organisations had made the demand to register a case under Section 302 against the sacrilege of the holy book as the apex court had bestowed the title of juridical person on it.

Mr Ram Singh, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann), said the party had asked the government to look into the acts of sacrilege and make suitable amendments to law according punishment for such acts.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Vedanti appealed to the Sikh sangat to oppose those who were running deras and adopting practices which went against the tenets and principles of Sikhism. He said whenever any act of religious misconduct came to light, the matter should be reported to the Akal Takht secretariat.

The Dal Khalsa spokesperson, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, criticised the Akali factions for politicising the Bhaniara episode. He said the Punjab Government had not taken adequate measures to prevent the acts of sacrilege nor had it initiated any stringent action against those found responsible. Taking a dig at the constitution of two separate probe panels by the SGPC and the Punjab Government to look into the origin of the Bhaniara issue, he said no time frame had been fixed for the members of the panel to submit their reports.

He said the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, might delay the report fearing his vote banks might be disturbed as followers of the dera constituted a major chunk of the rural vote.

Earlier, Bhai Baldev Singh, member, SGPC, narrated developments which led to the formation of the SGPC. Another SGPC member Sukhvinder Singh Chabal cautioned people against miscreants who were all set to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the state.

Sikh scholars, including Principal (retd) Swaran Singh Chuslewar and Prof Inderjeet Singh, said the root cause of the present problem was ignorance. They appealed to people to follow the principles and philosophy of Gurmat.


Groping through dark streets
Anita Tayal

Lack of proper street lighting in several busy areas of Patiala has become a driver’s nightmare and has also caused a number of accidents. Recently a 12-year-old boy had a miraculous escape when he was cycling home on his bicycle along the road that passes through Leela Bhavan and Rajindra Hospital. “There is not a single street light in this stretch of road which is one of the busiest roads of the city”, said Mr Naresh Jain, a resident of the adjoining Income Tax Colony.

There are many other localities and busy areas such as Ragho Majra and Power Colony Number 2 which suffer from lack of the adequate street lighting. The road between the polo ground and the cantonment also lacks streetlights.

Similarly, yet another area is the New Lal Bagh Colony. The residents of this colony say that the lack of lighting at the entrance of the colony has made the turning a high risk point. They add that any vehicle turning from the Mall Road towards the colony after dark, runs the risk of a collision if another vehicle happens to be coming from the other direction.

A few more areas demanding attention are Nimwala Chowk near Sabzi Mandi, the area surrounding Modi Mill, parts of Chandni Chowk and Sunami Gate. These are areas which do not have adequate number of street light points and most of the burnt out bulbs have not been replaced. Light coming from the shops and the adjoining houses provide some relief the road users.

In some colonies, the residents, disappointed with the performance of the Municipal Corporation, prefer to change the burnt-out bulbs themselves. This is what some residents of Upkar Nagar and Ghersodhi, near Old Police Kotwali, have done.

Despite repeated requests, the Municipal Corporation prefers to remain indifferent to this problem.


Group loans for unemployed youth
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 29
Groups of unemployed youth will now be entitled to a loan of Rs 3 lakh, while individuals can start their own business by availing a loan of Rs 50,000.

This was said by Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir, while presiding over a meeting to review the Self-Employment Scheme with District Coordinators and district development authorities at Red Cross Hall here today.

Mr Bir said a subsidy of Rs 1.25 lakh would also be given to a group under the self-employment scheme, while Rs 10,000 would be given to scheduled castes and Rs 7,500 to general category in case of an individual project.

He said about 55 self-employment groups had been formed till date in different blocks of the district, of which 33 groups had been provided a loan of about Rs 95 lakh and a subsidy of Rs 30 lakh. Besides, about 140 persons have been given a loan of Rs 43 lakh, with a subsidy of about Rs 11 lakh.

Mr Bir said unemployed youth can benefits from of the scheme under which they can begin with tractor-trolley, knitting, handloom, domestic works, shoe-making, pickle-making, computer training or any other such work. He urged the coordinators to feed required data regarding various schemes into the computers and to make sure that the branches of all banks internet compatible.

He said till June 30, the amount available with banks for development projects for poor sections of society, agriculture and other sectors had been increased from about Rs 1,600 crore to nearly Rs 1,800 crore. He said loans worth Rs 180 crore had been given for developmental process in agricultural sector while the target was Rs 140 crore.

Mr Bir said till September 30, about 80,000 Kisan Credit Cards had been distributed under which amount of Rs 136 crore had been given for agricultural development. He added that Rs 350 crore target had been laid down by the State Bank of Patiala for providing loans to those interested in constructing houses.

The Deputy Commissioner said NABARD will give a grant of Rs 1 lakh to the Patiala Handloom Handicraft Society under which about 50 girls would be provided training in hand made products so that they could start business by getting loans from banks.

Others present at the meeting including the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Mr Manvesh Singh Sandhu, Manager of the SBOP, Mr S. P. Kaul, Assistant General Manager of NABARD, Mr B.N. Batra, and all Block Development and Panchayat Officers.


Chakreshwari Devi fair opens today
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 29
Fatehgarh Sahib is the land of martyrs, saints and gods. Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Rauza Sharif and Mata Chakreshwari Devi Jain Temple, the highly respected religious shrines of Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, respectively, are situated here. Two kilometres from here on the Sirhind Chuni road lies the religious shrine of the Jains, “Mata Chakreshwari Devi Jain Temple”. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country and abroad converge on this shrine every year on the full moon of Kartika. This year the annual fair will be held on October 30 and November 1.

This is the only temple in the country where the idol of Mata Chakreshwari Devi is situated. According to history once Rajasthan faced a severe drought situation. A large number of devotees of Mata Chakreshwari Devi moved towards Punjab on their bullock carts. The idol of the Mata was placed on one of the carts. On the way the devotees stopped near Sirhind for rest. Most of them were Khandelwal Jains. As they set out after a brief rest, the cart carrying the idol of Mata Chakreshwari Devi just did not move. After some time they heard a voice from above to let the idol lie there, as it was the fittest place for the Mata. The devotees subsequently built a temple at that spot. Now a beautiful temple, Amrit Kund, and the other complex for the stay of devotees has been constructed. A free dispensary service has been provided for the residents of the area.

Since then not only Jains but people of other faiths also visit this temple to pay obeisance. Chakreshwari Devi is supposed to have great powers and protects her devotees through crisis. The Sikhs also hold this place in great reverence because “Diwan Todar Mal”, who was also a devotee of Mata Chakreshwari Devi, purchased land by offering gold coins to cover the land selected for the cremation of two younger Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked alive at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and now Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup is situated there.

This year more than 25,000 pilgrims are expected to take part in the annual fair. Mr Krishan Kant Jain and Mr Devinder Nath Jain, President and General Secretary of the Mata Chakreshwari Devi Jain Tirath, respectively, said Mr Surjit Kumar Jiani, Minister for Forests, will preside over the pooja festival and Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, will be the guest of honour. Seth Madan Lal Jain, Col P.D. Jain and Shere Punjab Shri Pal Jain would also be the guests of honour. Children from various Jain schools of Punjab and Haryana will present cultural programmes. A free medical check-up camp by Vaid Madan Lal Jain of Ropar will also be arranged.

The District Administration has made elaborate security arrangements. According to Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, special medical teams, sanitation staff and facilities of drinking water and buses from Sirhind to the mela site have been made. The SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, has been deputed as duty magistrate. The police will patrol the area round the clock. 


Preet Nagar to be centre of culture
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 29
The Guru Nanak Dev University would develop ‘Preet Nagar’, a historic village near here, as centre of literacy and cultural activities. This was announced by Dr S.P. Singh, vice-chancellor of the University while inaugurating ‘Punjabi Week’ celebrations here today.

Dr S.P. Singh said that the university would try to make it a centre of cultural identity. The writers gallery and a museum will be established here shortly.

The vice-chancellor said Guru Nanak Dev University was committed to the development and promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture. He thanked the Preetlari family for its active co-operation for this cause.

Mr Hirdeypal Singh son of Sardar Gurbux Singh Preetlari spoke on the cultural and social contribution of Preet Nagar. Mrs Poonam, editor Preetlari, Mr Kulbir Singh Surin son of Punjabi writer Nanak Singh, Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, Mr Shingara Singh Ajri, Dr Gurmit Singh also spoke.

A cultural programme was also held on the occasion.

A cultural and educational tour for Preetnagar was arranged by the school of Punjabi studies of the University on the eve of the commencement of Punjabi week.

The tour was organised under the patronship of vice-chancellor Dr S.P. Singh and Dr R.S. Bajwa, Professor led the trip to the writer’s home.


‘Anthrax letters’ being examined
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 29
The microbiological laboratory of the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College (GGSMC) has been receiving letters suspected to be containing anthrax powder from Bathinda Cantonment and the city for chemical examination.

Official sources said four such letters had been received at the medical college from Bathinda Civil Hospital.

The sources said two letters sent by the hospital authorities in the past two days had also contained powder.

The first letter was received by Brig P.S. Sanghera at Bathinda Cantonment a few days ago.

After tests were conducted on it in the laboratory at the medical college, it was sent for further confirmatory tests to another laboratory.

The second letter, received by another senior Army official of Bathinda Cantonment, when examined chemically, was found to be containing no anthrax spores.

Information gathered by Tribune News Service revealed that the other two letters was received by a teacher and a lecturer.

The letter received by a Bathinda-based teacher was carrying the stamp of Faridkot. “SIMI” and “786” were mentioned on it.

The letter received by a lecturer was sent from the USA. A powder-like substance was found inside it.

Dr P.K. Jain, microbiologist, GGSMC, said four letters from Bathinda city had been received for examination.

He said the test report of one letter had been sent to the Chief Medical Officer, Bathinda, and the report of the second letter would be sent in a day or two.

He said the contents of two letters received today would be tested in two or three days and the report would be sent to the authorities concerned.


Powder sent for testing
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 29
The district health authorities, Sangrur, have sent a sample of powder suspected to be containing anthrax spores to the Microbiology Department of Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, for conducting an examination.

Dr C.P. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said here today that a person from Badrukhan village, near here, received an envelope containing powder a few days ago. He immediately informed the Medical Officer of the village dispensary. The officer in turn informed the Civil Surgeon’s office, he added.

Dr Bansal said that after receiving information from the MO, he had informed the police.

He said a medical team, led by Dr H.S. Dhillon, District Health Officer, along with the police rushed to Badrukhan village and sealed the envelope for testing its contents.

Dr Bansal said the test report was awaited. 


5 jaundice cases in Sangrur locality
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 29
At least five children have been suffering from jaundice for the past several days in the local Khalifa Mohalla, causing panic among residents of the area.

A Medical Officer working in the local Civil Hospital said he had information about the spread of jaundice in the mohalla as he had met some patients suffering from the disease.

The officer was of the view that the use of contaminated water might be the main cause of jaundice as residents of the mohalla council in this regard.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr C.P. Bansal, said today that some persons had submitted an application in this regard to him a few days ago.

He said the health authorities had decided to take samples of water from the affected mohalla. Later, these samples would be sent to the laboratory at Chandigarh. After receiving a report, action would be taken against the “erring” authorities, he added.


Japan shouldn’t have lifted curbs: Mann
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 29
Condemning the killing of Christians in a Pakistani Roman Catholic church yesterday, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), sought UN intervention for the protection of minorities in Pakistan and India. The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, should initiate steps for defusing the tension arising out of the killing of Christians in Pakistan, Mr Mann said in India, forces of Hindutava represented by the RSS were gunning for minorities while in Pakistan, Islamic fanatics were baying for their blood, Mr Mann lamented.

He also pleaded with Japan to revoke its decision to lift sanctions on India and Pakistan. The three-year-long freeze on aid to India and Pakistan should be continued by Japan till both these countries denuclearised their arsenals, Mr Mann said. 


Farmers given loans worth Rs 640 cr
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 29
Punjab Public Health Minister Raja Narinder Singh today said farmers had been given loans amounting to Rs 640 crore under the Revolving Cash Credit Card scheme.

Presiding over a sports mela at Paleya Khurd village in Nabha subdivision, the minister said farmers possessing upto two acres would be given a loan of Rs 2 lakh and those possessing land less than five acres would be given a loan of Rs 3 lakh.

He said the SAD-BJP combine had taken concrete steps to provide education to dalit girls for which Rs 20 crore was being spent. He said under this scheme, the girls were not only given free education but were also given a Rs 50 stipend.

Raja Narinder Singh said the government had set up toilets for weaker sections in all villages. Deep bores were being dug in villages to provide pure drinking water.

The minister gave Rs 1.6 lakh for the cremation ground and Rs 1 lakh for cleaning the village pond.


Arhtiyas observe strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 29
More than 100 arhtiyas of the local grain market today observed a complete strike against the non-payment for procured paddy by different procurement agencies. Due to the strike, no auction of paddy was done in the grain market.

Talking to TNS here this afternoon, Mr Pradeep Kumar, Singla, general secretary of the local Arhtiya Association, said despite the announcements of the state government that paddy payments would be made within 48 hours of the procurement, the agencies had not made payments to the Arhtiyas for the past more than 20 days.

Mr Singla said due to the non-payment the arhtiyas had been facing inconvenience as farmers were asking them to make the payments as early as possible.

He said the arhtiyas would take-out a protest march tomorrow through the town and close their shops in the grain market to press upon the government to release the payments soon. He said a deputation of the association would also submit a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.


PSEB guidelines ‘anti-employee’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Thermals Coordination Committee, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to wear black badges and to hold protest rallies in the state to show their anger over ‘anti-employee policies’ of PSEB.

In a press note issued here today, Mr M.S. Mari, general secretary Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) Employees Union, said the management of the PSEB was issuing guidelines from time to time which were against the employees. He alleged that the PSEB had decided to reduce the generation allowance, close project allowance and reduce several other allowances of employees of thermal plants.

He added that great resentment prevailed among employees over these “wrong policies” of PSEB management therefore Thermal Coordination Committee had decided to wear black badges from today.


Protest by thermal plant employees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
Hundred of employees of local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) held a rally at the main gate of thermal plant today to oppose the anti employee polices of the PSEB.

In a press note issued here today Mr Parkash Singh, secretary Ad-hoc Committee GNDTP Employees Federation, said that call for rally was given by the Thermal Coordination Committee PSEB. Mr L.S. Kasba, conveyer of federation, Mr Sukhdev Singh Sidhu, conveyer coordination committee and many other office-bearers of coordination committee and federation addressed the rally.

Speaking on the occasion all employee leaders said that state government should not reduce or scrap allowances being given to thermal employees as it would affect their financial condition.


Ministerial staff resent ACR-linked promotions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 29
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union (PSMSU) has condemned the decision of Punjab Cabinet to promote employees on the basis of a confidential reports of past five years of their performances.

Mr G.S. Grewal, president of the PSMSU in a press note issued here today said that many alterations could be made in these reports by influential people thus affecting the employees. He added that it would encourage nepotism. He further told that PSMSU would struggle against this decision in the state.

A meeting in this respect was being held at Jalandhar on November 3. He said that at this meeting future plan of action would be decided and important decision would be taken.


Sale of high-noise crackers banned
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 29
The Ropar District Magistrate, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, has banned the manufacture, storage and sale of high-noise fire crackers in the district. However, he has exempted the sale of small crackers like “phuljharis” at 25 places stipulated by him.

Shops for this purpose would be allotted by SDMs of respective subdivisions. The order, issued under Section 144 of the Cr PC, will remain in force till December 1.


Councillor held on cheating charge
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 29
The police has registered a case under Sections 467, 468, 471, 120-B and 420 of the IPC against Mr Harpal Singh Pali and Ms Santosh Joga, both councillors, Mansa, belonging to the SAD and the BJP, respectively, and Jagjit Singh, a resident of Mansa. The police has arrested Mr Pali and Jagjit Singh.

It is learnt that Jagjit Singh allegedly obtained a false certificate claiming to be a member of the Scheduled Castes and his application was verified by Ms Santosh. Thereafter, Jagjit Singh got Rs 10,200 under the Shagun Scheme of the Punjab Government for the marriage of his two daughters and Mr Pali is reported to have verified his identification at the time of the disbursement of the grant.

Meanwhile, more than 500 persons gathered today to protest against the “false” implication of Mr Pali due to his alleged enmity with some police officials.


Mystery shrouds man’s death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
Mystery shrouds the death of a middle-aged man Gurpal Singh, who was found hanging from a hook in his house in Gurpal Nagar Shimla Puri last evening. The police believes it to be a case of suicide but no suicide note has been recovered from the house so far.

The police said no clue about the actual reason behind the man’s death had been found so far. 


VCs’ stress on quality education
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 29
The Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Dr Hari Gautam, today said that Punjabi University could open training centers in any discipline on its campus but could not work with any franchisee or enter into a joint venture with a private company.

Dr Gautam was here to attend the inaugural session of the North Zone Vice-Chancellors Conference in the campus. Addressing the conference, he said the Indian universities were producing quality education programmes. He also urged teachers and students to strive hard to meet the new challenges ahead.

Dr Gautam was also conferred upon the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Coronation Bicentenary Award in recognition of his contribution in medical sciences and higher education.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, said the 21st century was characterised by a paradigm shift in attitude towards knowledge and education.

Dr K.B. Powar, secretary general, Association of Indian Universities (AIU), said that higher education should give students complete knowledge.

Vice-Chancellor, Prof H.P. Dikshit, IGNOU, said that with liberalisation of the economy, a large number of institutions were looking towards strategic alliances with institutions in other countries. Such collaborations could go a long way in improving the quality of education and training in various disciplines, he said.

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