Sunday, November 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


TOP STORIES


 

Cong to prove charges if CBI probe ordered
Properties owned by Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The Congress said today that it was ready to prove the allegations about the huge wealth and immovable property owned by Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal provided the latter ordered a probe.

Mr Birdevinder Singh, PPCC General Secretary, said the Congress would submit the list of allegations supported by evidence and affidavits against Mr Badal to the CBI if an inquiry was ordered. The party was firm on its stand about the charges levelled against Mr Badal.

The Congress has asked the Chairman of the party’s legal cell, Mr Shamsher Singh Gill, to serve a counter legal notice on Akali leaders, including Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mrs Upinderjit Kaur, Dr Rattan Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh, who had served a legal notice on Congress special invitee, Kulbir Singh Prempuri for levelling certain charges against Mr Badal.

Mr Prempuri, who joined the Congress on November 1 after quitting the New York unit of the SAD, had stated at a press conference here that he had details about Mr Badal’s property in New York. He showed his passport to mediapersons today to prove that he returned from New York on October 21.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said that Akali leaders had threatened Mr Prempuri by serving a legal notice on him. Mr Prempuri would not be cowed down by such threats and the Congress would extend all legal support to him.

How Mr Bhunder and others could serve a notice on Mr Prempuri? What was their locus standi ? he quipped. The allegations were levelled against Mr Badal and let him issue a legal notice to Mr Prempuri, he said.

He said if Mr Badal had courage, he should serve a legal notice on PPCC President Amarinder Singh, who was the first to release a list of properties alleged directly or indirectly owned by Mr Badal.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said that Mr Badal and most of his Cabinet colleagues had gone abroad to manage their properties. He also said a number of bureaucrats were also going for this purpose. He urged the Akali ministers and Mr Badal to publish the reports with regard to their foreign visits. 

People of the state, who had paid for such visits had every right to know what ministers had done for the state while on foreign trips. How much foreign investment came to Punjab because of their visits. He said the Congress would make public the names of those bureaucrats who had invested money aborad.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said if reports regarding the purpose and the achievements accrued from foreign visits were not made public by Mr Badal, the Congress, if voted to power, would order a CBI inquiry into all foreign visits by bureaucrats and ministers of the SAD-BJP Government.

Had Mr Badal got a certificate from local medical authorities that no treatment was available for the ailments suffered by him in the country before opting to go abroad for treatment?the Congress leader asked. 

While leaders like Mr Badal were going abroad for getting minor ailments treated, they were not bothered about lakhs of people who had to depend on civil hospitals the functioning of which was a shambles.


 

Meeting gives headstart to alliance
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 3
The two-day national executive meeting in the border district, especially at a crucial time when Assembly elections are round the corner, has given a headstart to the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.

It may augur well for the ruling partners as the resolutions on terrorism and agriculture were aimed at wooing both rural and urban voters. While deliberations on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) may strengthen Hindu vote bank the resolution on the World Trade Organisation and agriculture is likely to please the farming community.

The venue of the national executive, the border district of Amritsar, servega clear signal to Pakistan and its Inter Services Intelligence and Kashmiri militants that it is prepared for a long and relentless battle against terrorism from across the border.

The significance of holding the meeting here is clear from the fact that more than 25,000 persons had died during the hey-day of terrorism in the border belt comprising Amristsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore. Most self-style chiefs of militant outfits belonged to this belt.

They are slain Babbar Khalsa chief Sukhdev Singh, Gurbachan, Singh Manochahal, chief of the Bhinderanwale Tighers Force, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, chief of the Khalistan Commando Force (now in Pakistan), Labh Singh, selfstyle general of the KCF and Mehal Singh of the Babbar Khalsa belonged to Amritsar.

The meeting has enthused the party rank and file which had witnessed an erosion in the BJP bage. It is for the first time that the national executive of the BJP has been held in Punjab. Again, it was for the first time that a workers’ meeting was organised to mark the national executive meeting, for reasons obvious. A cross-section of residents who participated in the rally told this correspondent that any party which promised peace and resolved to fight terrorism would improve its prospect during the elections.

The presence of top party leadership, especially the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister has acted as a morale-booster for the party cadre.

The decision of the BJP to give a free hand to its state unit to reach a poll pact with its political partner has clarified the party stand on the alliance well before the elections.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal played a crucial role in the arrangement for smooth holding of the meeting. 


 

Time to halt Punjab’s downslide
P.P.S.Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Punjab is beset with problems having roots in distortions in the politico-economic set-up. These can be rectified only through a comprehensive restructuring of the political, economic and constitutional structures.

This was implicitly stated in the Budget Speech (March 22, 2000) of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who had called for abiding welfare of Punjabis through “consensus” on an economic agenda. He had sought the cooperation of everyone, in and outside the Vidhan Sabha, pleading with the Opposition that prosperity of Punjabis must not be made a subject of partisan politics.

Has any political party responded? If not, there is still time to do so in the interest of the state and the Punjabis, who are the real asset. For lack of political (and bureaucratic) leadership this asset has become complacent. Since Punjabis love good things in life their changed style of living is as much to blame for the socio-economic stagnation as is the unresponsiveness of the state.

Measured on the prescribed socio-economic parameters, Punjab is rolling backwards in social welfare, economic uplift, rural development, education (primary, higher, technical, vocational), health, veterinary services, sports, sanitation, etc.

The uncontrollable migration to Punjab’s big cities from other states and shift in population from villages to smaller towns for jobs has changed the demographic profile. This calls for new initiatives and new plans to cater to the demands of the migrants. Is Punjab geared up to meet the new challenges ?

Punjab is a paradox; an enigma, where poverty and plenty, affluence and indebtedness (“suicides” by farmers?) co-exist; where education in cities and towns is okay but absenteeism among teachers and drop-out syndrome in students is common, more true of villages; where hospitals and dispensaries exist but doctors are missing so are the medicines and medical equipment; and where female, male sex ratio shows distortions.

Punjab once boasted of its soldiers and sportspersons. Where are rural sports fields, equipment, coaches and boys and girls undergoing training? Wrestling, kabaddi, football, and hockey are being replaced by cricket.

With the advent of the Green Revolution not only farming techniques and technology have changed, even manual labour has been replaced by machines. New health problems and diseases have cropped up due to changed food habits. With the change in living style and standards, robust health, strength and stamina in youth has also vanished. Consequently, health of Punjabis is deteriorating. They are becoming prone to cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.Tuberculosis is on the rampage. Dental cavities and eye problems in children in schools do not seem to worry anyone.

Myopic vision has hindered crop diversification. The wheat-paddy pattern has affected economy and environment.

The re-thinking on procurement of foodgrains in the Centre, faulty public distribution system and dwindling demand for the two food grains elsewhere pose new challenges to Punjab. The concept of value-addition and agro-processing is a far cry. If horticulture is nascent, bio-technology is in embryonic stage, dairying has not caught on.

Lengthening queues of the unemployed, shrinking profitability from land and presence of large percentage of land-less Scheduled Castes and backward classes further sharpen the socio-economic differences. Problems and possible solutions to these issues are known. The question is how and where and how to begin.

The industry is in a shambles, agriculture is at the crossroads. Forests are nil and the Shivalik is getting denuded leading to soil erosion and environmental degradation. Even social and service sectors are in a poor health.

Punjab has no disaster management plan. It has no blueprint to educate people on new warfares — nuclear, biological and chemical?

Punjab must turn around. Punjabis’ spirit of resilience must be rekindled. The state’s socio-political economy must be put in place. And Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s dream of “har khet vich hariali, har ghar vich khushali, har chehre te lali” must be realized. 


 

Dhindsa’s no to scrutiny panel
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 3
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Secretary-General of the Shiromani-Akali Dal (SAD) today said “there is no need to set up a scrutiny commission with regard to probing anti-Sikh riots in 1984, as the newly appointed commission by the Vajpayee government was already functioning. The lawyers, engaged by the SAD, are requesting the commission to release an interim report on the anti-Sikh riots to expedite the process of awarding punishment to the guilty”.

Talking to reporters at the local PWD rest house, Mr Dhindsa was replying to a question whether he supported the demand of the SHSAD to set up a commission to study the reports on the riots, already prepared by the commissions, appointed by the government and other non-government organisations, to expedite the process of exposing and awarding punishment to those who were behind the killings of Sikhs during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 in the country.

Mr Dhindsa said SAD lawyers were submitting reports, prepared by government and non-government organisations, to the new commission. Thus, the scrutiny of the reports of the previous commissions was already in progress. By demanding the setting up of a scrutiny commission SHSAD leadership wanted to dilute the issue, he added.

On the presidentship of the SGPC, Mr Dhindsa said there was no possibility at this stage to change the candidate (Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president of the SGPC). But Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had all powers in this regard, was consulting his colleagues on the issue while the final decision would be announced on the day of election, he added.

On the criticism by the SHSAD of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation ceremony functions, Mr Dhindsa said the SHSAD leaders should go through the history which told that Baba Sahib Singh Bedi in 1801 applied “tilak” on the forehead of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when he became Maharaja. If applying of “tilak” was not coronation then the SHSAD leaders should tell the definition of coronation ceremony to the Panth. He said it was greatness of the Maharaja that he released “sikka” (coins) in the name of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and ruled the state in the name of “Khalsa”.

Mr Dhindsa also said that with regard to support to the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), the SAD would discuss its legal aspects at a meeting.

He also refuted the charges of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann that Mr Badal was a “Khalistani”. He said the SAD had never demanded “Khalistan”, it always was more powers to the states.

He also clarified that Mr Kulbir Singh, who claimed himself as president of the SAD’s New York unit, was not even a primary member of the SAD.


 

Living gurus’ biggest threat to Sikhism: Kewal Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
An intense debate has begun among the Sikh intelligentsia to stem the rot in various Sikh institutions and to revive their past glory and strength.

Several questions with regard to the continuous decay of Sikh institutions came up on the first day of a two-day seminar organised by the Institute of Sikh Studies on the “Institutional Failure in Punjab with respect to Sikhism” here today. 

Several eminent Sikh scholars are participating in the seminar, Sikh institutions. In fact, today’s seminar is the second in a month organised to discuss the decadence of the Sikh institutions and the steps to be taken in this connection.

Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, said Sikhism was facing a biggest threat from the “living gurus” who had established their “deras” at various places in Punjab and elsewhere. 

He called upon Sikh scholars to have a serious look on the mushroom growth of such “deras” parallel to Sikh institutions. There was lack of dedicated and honest leadership among Sikhs, he asserted. 

He urged Sikh scholars to launch a sustained campaign to improve Sikh institutions. The Sikhs and their institutions, he lamented, were passing through a sad period and there was need for reversing the downslide.

Enlisting various problems faced by Sikh organisations, Dr Kharak Singh, a renowned Sikh scholar, suggested that there was need for setting up an apex institution to resolve these difficulties. 

Having the required authority to enforce its decisions, it should be a representative body of Sikhs in the country and abroad. 

This view was endorsed almost by all. It reflected the lack of faith of Sikh scholars in the SGPC to handle competently the affairs of Sikhs.

Dr Kharak Singh said at the time of any crisis, Sikhs turn to Sri Akal Takht. It is regarded, as indeed a panacea for all ills. It, however, lacks the organisational structure and Technical support to perform its functions. 

Also, while the authority of Akal Takht is accepted by all without question, there is no such unanimity on the absolute authority of its Jathedar”, he said.

Though the SGPC was called the Parliament of Sikhs it also was not truely representative as Sikhs abroad and even those living beyond Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal were not represented on it, Dr Kharak Singh said. 

There was at present no agency to represent the Sikh Panth and to take decisions on its behalf and hence the need for setting up an apex institution, he added.

The main functions of the Institution should be appointment of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, coordination among various Sikh bodies, chalking out programmes for the welfare of humanity, to set guidelines to celebrate centenaries of Sikh Gurus and eminent personalities.

Dr G.S. Kalkat, a former PAU Vice-Chancellor who presided over the first session of the seminar, supporting the contention of Dr Kharak Singh, said a resolution should be passed urging the SGPC to call a meeting of all concerned to take the initiative for setting up the proposed institution. 

Some practical steps should be taken to achieve what had been suggested by Dr Kharak Singh, he added. He urged Sikh scholars to pay attention towards the deteriorating quality of education in rural areas.

Earlier, delivering the keynote address, Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, an eminent scholar said there was need for reorienting and rejuvenating the Sikh institutions in the light of their ideals and past traditions.

Among others who spoke at the seminar were Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Nanak Singh Nishtar, Dr Man Singh Nirankari, Major Gen Jaswant Singh ( retd), Dr Amrik Singh, Dr Shamsher Singh and Dr Kirpal Singh.

 

Kewal Singh’s appeal to Sikh scholars
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Making a significant appeal to Sikh scholars, the Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh, here today urged the scholars to play an active role to bring the Akali leaders together. Leaders should be told not to humiliate the community by their actions. Also having a dig at Sikh intelligentsia, he said, it was difficult to understand what “divides them in different camps or groups”.

He said he was prepared to extend his full cooperation to improve the lot of Sikhs by the scholars.

 

No takers at Punjabi book fair
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
Punjabi fiction and non-fiction is destined for dark days if one goes by the response of the general public to the state level Book Fair organised by the State Language Department during the ongoing ‘Punjabi Week’. There are hardly any visitors or sales at the fair, which is causing sleepless nights for publishers and book sellers participating in the fair.

Lack of sales at the fair has upset publishers who are even ready to sell books at discounts ranging from 40 per cent to 50 per cent. However, even at these rates, there are no buyers.

Navyug Publishers, Delhi, stall in charge, Amar Nath, said he had been able to sell only three to four books during the past two days and even today there were no visitors. Similar is the refrain of Lok Geet Publishers representative, Satish Jain, who said that besides declining interest in reading, lack of proper planning on the behalf of the Language Department was also responsible for the lacklustre response to the Fair.

He, along with representatives of Ramesh Books, said youngsters did not seem to be interested in reading even Punjabi fiction television watching, was probably the reason for this. Book-sellers said though the Language Department had tied up with some government schools whose children visited the fair, the students did not deign to pick up any book.

“What is the use of this fair”, said Amar Nath of Navyug Publishers, saying that the Department should have done the needed publicity to make the fair a success. He said the situation was such that even most of the city residents were not aware that a Book Fair was going on in the city. He said no banners were put up in the city to advertise the fair due to which very few people were coming to visit it.

Already this year the Book Fair has attracted only eight publishers and a few Book-sellers besides government publishers. Mr Satish Jain said earlier, around 30 to 35 publisher used to participate in the fair, but had been discouraged by declining sales. The book sellers also lamented the lack of proper facilities.

They complained that there was inadequate lighting in the area during the evening which forced them to shut shop earlier and that even their stay at the Writer Home was not secure with an undertaking having been taken from them that they would have to vacate their room in case a writer wanted to avail himself of the facility.

The Language Department, however, maintained that all facilities were being provided to the publishers and that they had been given stalls without taking any fee from them. It also maintained that publicity had been given to the Book Fair by putting up posters and involving children of nearby schools to participate in it.

 

 

‘Cong to give 15 pc seats to BCs’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 3
To give due representation to the backward classes, the Congress will allot 15 per cent seats to candidates belonging to backward classes in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

According to the data collected by the backward classes cell of the PPCC, these classes constitute about 15 per cent of the state’s population.

Representatives of the cell took up the matter with the PPCC President who assured them that they would get due representation. This was stated by Mr Jasbir Singh, Chairman, backward classes cell, PPCC, here yesterday.


 

Paddy purchase to be poll plank: SAD
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 3
Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal, talking to reporters at Killianwala village, 40 km from here last evening, said that smooth procurement of paddy would be a major poll issue in the Assembly elections.

He added that farmers, commission agents and others connected with agriculture-based commercial activity felt that only SAD-BJP combine government was saviour of their interests.

The SAD leader added that PPCC leaders had been feeling without an issue to attack the Akali government.

He claimed that hike in the minimum support prices (MSPs) of various agriculture commodities during the present government was the maximum.

Mr Badal claimed that the Congress was disunited and faction-ridden, it was trying to cover up its disunity in accusing its opponents.

In the past five years problem of waterlogging in thousands of acres of land in the state had been solved. Agriculture loan procedure made simple, recovery of cooperative loans from farmers had been suspended and compensation worth crores of rupees paid to the farmers on account of distress sale of paddy.

 

CPM-led front ruled out in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
While the 15-member Pasla group stayed away from the meeting of the state committee of the Punjab unit of the CPM, the party appears to have ruled out the possibility of forming a CPM-led people’s front to contest the coming Assembly elections in the state.

Today’s meeting was called to discuss the situation in the state vis-a-vis Assembly elections and organisational matters. Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, General Secretary of the CPM, and Mr Parkash Karat, member of the Politbureo of the party, were present.

Informed sources said that the CPM blamed the CPI for creating hurdles in the way of forming the people’s front. The CPI instead of entering into a political dialogue with the CPM, preferred the Congress party for electoral tie-up, they said.

The organisational matters, according to sources, by and large remained unresolved. The state committee authorised the party’s secretariat, a seven-member apex body, to resolve the matters. There were three views regarding the organisational matters.

While certain leaders said that differences with the Pasla group should not be given any further air at this stage as it would not be in the interest of the party because of the coming elections, some others said that a serious view should be taken of the activities of those organising parallel conferences at the tehsil level. The third view was that with the highlighting of the differences in the organisation, the party’s capacity to bargain for seats with the Congress would be hit.

 

A rail station sans waiting room
Vikrant Jindal

Malerkotla
Malerkotla is an industrial belt of Sangrur district which can boast of more than 2,000 small, medium and large industrial units producing iron, steel and textiles, providing employment to over one lakh persons.

Passengers at the railway station have to put up with the same facilities as before Independence. It is alleged that the Northern Railway is giving step-motherly treatment to this erstwhile princely state of Punjab due to lack of a strong political leadership which could persuade the Centre to provide the same facilities as given at other stations.

Products being manufactured here are supplied to industrial and domestic consumers in every corner of India. That is why manufacturers and their representatives have to travel to distant parts of the country regularly.

There is no computerised reservation centre here. People have to rush to Ludhiana to get reservation done which takes at least four to six hours. Therefore a computerised reservation centre should be installed here.

A long-pending demand of the local people is for a short halt of the Navyug Express. Industrialist allege that the Navyug Express halts at Qila Raipur, a small village, for a few passengers.

Mr Ish Kumar Gupta, an industrialist, alleged: “We have been asking for a short halt of the Navyug Express at Malerkotla, but the Railways paid no attention.

Mr Nand Lal Gogia, an other industrialist, said that their request to reschedule the timing of the Jakhal-Ludhiana Passenger along with the New Delhi-Bhatinda Express in such a way that the passengers of both trains may be able to carry on with their journey to Jakhal and vice-versa. These are the last trains before midnight for passengers who need a connection halt at Dhuri junction. This would definitely add more to the revenue of the Indian Railways. The passengers at various railway stations on this section will benefit.

Mr Munish Jindal, president of the Malerkotla Welfare Association, pointed out that lack of an overbridge at the railway station endangered the life of passengers hence a bridge from the main platform was required for the convenience of public.

Due to the short halt of goods trains, industrialists and traders alleged that to despatch their loads, an extra fee was levied by station staff as well as train staff.

The passengers suffer a lot due to non-availability of goods at the station. Besides the waiting room and canteen have been demolished. These facilities are still to be rebuilt.

There is no boundary wall or fencing around the railway station due to which animals loiter in the premises. Passengers have to sit in the sun and rain in the absence of a roof.


 

Action against Shahi Imam as per law: CM
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 3
“The Union Government has taken cognizance of recent utterances of Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in support of Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden and his subsequent call for Jehad. A suitable action will be taken against him according to the law of the country.”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, stated this while talking to reporters here today. Asked to specify the action being considering against Shahi Imam, he said, “It is for the members of the union Cabinet to announce. But one thing is sure that anyone found involved in anti-national activities would not be spared.”

Justifying the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the Chief Minister said that it had helped in containing anti-national activities of SIMI in Uttar Pardesh in particular and in different parts of the country in general.

Asked about the recent attempts by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to violate the Supreme Court ruling by entering into the disputed structure at Ayodhya particularly on the eve of the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state, Mr Rajnath Singh said that as the Prime Minister had already committed, they would do everything to check violation of the apex court’s ruling.

“We had already ordered an inquiry into the matter besides suspending two officials for the negligence of duty,” he added.

In Uttar Pradesh, the ruling party will win absolute majority and the BJP would align only with Ajit Singh’ Rashtriya Lok Dal for the next elections, he added.

Asked whether the BJP would accept the demand of the RLD to create separate state of “Harit Pradesh”, Mr Singh, in a lighter mood, said that the matter would be solved amicably with Mr Ajit Singh.


 

Two heads of account attached
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 3
Ms Poonam Ratti, Civil Judge, Junior Division, Bathinda, has issued two warrants of attachment. In one warrant issued for Rs 76,134 it has been ordered to attach the head of account relating to pay and allowances of the office of District Education Officer, Secondary Mansa, Ms Bhupinder Kaur and her official vehicle number and through another warrant for Rs 32,635.50 it has been ordered to attach the head of account relating to pay and allowances of the office of Headmaster, Government High School, Dalel Singh Wala and his office furniture, besides the photostat, duplicating, machines and other office material of the office of DEO (S) Mansa.

According to information available, the orders of warrants of attachment were delivered to the District Treasury Officer, Mansa and he has made compliance of the orders in accordance with the rules and provisions of the law, resulting in the non-payment of salary to the staff of the above said offices. Both warrants of attachment have been issued in favour of Mr K.K. Jindal, a retired senior assistant in the office of the DEO (S) Mansa.


 

Cut in allowance to hit power generation’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 3
Mr V.K. Sharma, regional secretary, PSEB Engineers Association, in a press note issued here today, said any move of the PSEB authorities to stop or curtail the engineers’ allowances would reflect badly on the power generation of the three thermal plants of the state.

Mr Sharma said the PSEB authorities had brought almost 70 per cent of the engineers under Grade III and IV for TA/DA purposes, entitling them to Rs 80 to Rs 200 allowance per day, for hotel charges. The rule was applicable to the metropolitan cities also and it was very difficult to get an accommodation at this rate, he said.

He said the PSEB was also taking steps to reduce the generation allowance. The power plants of the state had been producing record power and the generation allowance was a morale booster. “A single-day generation loss at the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant costs Rs 2 crore”, said Mr Sharma.

Mr Sharma alleged that the PSEB was also ‘planning’ to withdraw staff cars from the senior officers which would reduce the mobility of the officers thereby affecting power generation.


 

PSEB resumes checking
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday claimed that it had “revived” vigorous efforts to plug theft of energy throughout the state under which surprise checks were being conducted on industrial, commercial and domestic connections.

An official press note here said all naked joints in service and sub mains were being covered with epoxy compound and metering equipment of all industrial consumers was being shifted near the main operative entry gate.

It said in case of medium supply and small supply connections transformers were being shifted away from the metering equipment. It said insulation coats were being applied on LT line conductors to curb mid-span taping for theft of energy.

It said besides this electro magnetic meters were being replaced by electronic meters. Electronic meters were also being installed at the sending end of all independent feeders. The board had also started a periodic check of all metering equipment besides remote montoring of large supply consumers.

The note said to ensure honest consumers were not harassed and to limit checking only with respect to theft of energy units mobile meter testing squad (MMTS) had also been put into operation.


 

Pharmacists to gherao minister
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 3
The Punjab Health Minister, Mr Baldev Raj Chawla will be gheraoed in Punjab by the activists of the Punjab State Pharmacist’s Association.

Besides this, pharmacists from all parts of Punjab will organise a massive protest rally and demonstration on November 18 in Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Assembly constituency Lambi.

Mr Shishan Kumar and Mr Rajinder Kumar, Secretary and Press Secretary respectively, of the Punjab Pharmacist’s Association District Sangrur in a joint press statement said State Pharmacist Association has decided to resume its agitation which they had earlier postponed following an assurance given by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister in a meeting held on 22nd June, 2001 with them wherein he had conceded to their demand. 


 

Women throng bazars on karva chauth
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 3
As market here is decorated for the karva chauth celebrations with bangles, beautiful sarees, embroided suits, stalls of sweets and eatables, a number of artistes have come to the city from Jaipur, Agra and Delhi with their special mehndis to decorate hands of women.

Ishwar Singh Rathore, who has come from Jaipur, said he came with a hope to earn good money on the occasion but it seemed that city residents did not have an artistic taste. It was for the first time that he visited Bathinda, earlier he used to go to Delhi on the occasion, he added.

Iswar said he had special Arabian mehndi or Kali Mehndi, which gave brownish black colour. “This mehndi is applied after heating the paste for some time which helps in darkening its colour,” he said, adding that the main attraction of this type of mehndi was that it dried in ten minutes after it was applied. Moreover, the colour of the mehndi did not fade for more than fifteen days.

Akash, an artiste from Delhi, who has come to the city with a hope to earn quick money during the festival, said earlier he used to go to Ludhiana but increased competition there these days had compelled him to look for some other city. He said he used green mehndi, which gave reddish-brown colour. Sidharth, who has come from Agra, said he could draw new designs by adding silver and gold colour powder to mehndi to give it a more glamorous look.

The artistes claimed that the mehndi work being done in beauty parlours situated in the city was in no way of the same quality, which they could do, as they were doing it for decades. They charged Rs 25 to Rs 500 for the work depending on the mehndi and the design used.

The artistes said the city residents had disheartened them as there was little response for their work even on the occasion of karva chauth. Ishwar said on karva chauth he used to earn Rs 1,000 every day in Delhi. But Dasehra and karva chauth had not attracted many customers here.


 

SC, ST rally today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 3
Members of the Punjab Gazetted and Non-gazetted SC/BC Employees Welfare Federation will participate in a social transformation rally being organised by the All-India SC/ST Confederation on November 4 in Delhi.

President of the district unit of the union, Mr Hans Singh, said in a press note here yesterday that the rally will be addressed by the chairman of the confederation, Mr Ram Raj.

The rally will urge the Government to fulfil the demands of the employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes, he said.


 

Propagating tradition
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
The Punjab Heritage Foundation is engaged in propagating traditional folk forms in the state. Today the foundation held a cultural mela at the Baradari Gardens here. The main attractions included performance by Baba Pokhar Singh’s jhumar team. Renowned artist Baba Kashinath also held the audience spellbound through an excellent performance on the “been”. 

Traditional “kavishar” group led by Master Bhim engaged the audience through a satire laden performance. The ‘mela’ ended with sufi artist Barkat Sidhu giving a classical performance.

 

 

Special ID cards for ‘sangat darshan’

Ropar, November 3
Due to perceived threat to the security of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, due to Afghan crisis and stepped up terrorist activities of Punjab Government officials approaching his inner security ring would now be issued special identity cards. Direction in this regard was issued to district officials who are to attend the ‘sangat darshan’ programme of the Chief Minister at Kharar on November 7.

The ADC Ropar, Mr Krishan Kumar, while addressing officers present in the ‘sangat darshan’ held here yesterday said no officer without the special identity card would be allowed to approach the Chief Minister. He also directed the officers to get their identity cards issued or they would be treated as absent from the ‘sangat darshan’ programme.

 

Five held, foreign currency seized
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 3
The district police has arrested five more accused in the Rs 1.22 crore foreign exchange robbery case and recovered foreign currency worth Rs 8.5 lakh from their possession.

The SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, said four persons, who were riding a motor cycle and a scooter, were intercepted at a naka laid by a police party for routine inspection at Talwan village near here today. Foreign exchange, including US dollars, Saudi rials, Dutch marks, Swiss franks and Belgium franks worth Rs 8.5 lakh was recovered from them. They were arrested and identified as Chander Parkash and Manjit Singh of Dakoha village in Jalandhar, Sukhdev Singh of Nagra village in Nawanshahr and Harpal Singh of Qadian village.

A head constable of the Punjab police, Mohinder Singh, father of one of the accused, Harpal Singh, was also arrested for harbouring the accused. The SSP said the arrested persons revealed during the interrogation that they were the members of a gang, which was involved in the foreign exchange robbery. 


 

Judicial remand for 10 in betting racket
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 3
All 10 persons arrested by the police under Sections 420 and 120-B, IPC, and various sections of the Gambling Prevention Act were remanded in judicial custody till November 13 by the Judicial Magistrate Mr L.K. Singla, yesterday. They were produced before Mr Singla after interrogation in police custody.

The police had arrested them and seized modern communications system from a well-furnished house in the heart of the town on Wednesday.

SSP Harchand Singh Sidhu had recently briefed the police on information received from different sources that betting on cricket matches was going on in this subdivisional town on a large scale. The police raided the house of Ashok Kumar alias Billu in street No. 15 here and found 10 persons involved in betting.

The accused have been identified as Ashok Kumar and Jagdish Kumar, Gulshan Kumar, Manmohan Kumar, Ramesh Kumar, Desh Mitter, Kapil Kumar, Narinder Kumar, Prem Parkash and Shagan Lal. The police party claimed that three colour TV sets, telephones, mobile phones, audio video cassettes, a computer, Rs 47,000 in cash and other equipment used for booking bets were seized.


 

A forgotten educationist
Tribune News Service

Mohali November 3
Has Dr Sukhmandar Singh, been forgotten by the Punjabis? This question was asked at a literary gathering at Mohali yesterday by Mr N.S. Tasneem, former Professor of English at Government College, Ludhiana, about the great educationist of undivided Punjab. The answer, collectively, was in the negative.

The views expressed on the occasion can be summed up thus: Dr Sukhmandar Singh was a man of principle. He was a stickler for rules and dedicated his entire career to the promotion of education in Punjab.

He was born on March 2, 1927, at Faridkot. At the age of 20, he embarked upon a long and distinguished career of school education. and retired as the Director, state Council of Educational Research and Training, Punjab, in March, 1985.

After acquiring his Ph.D on “Realism in Punjabi Short Story”, he produced three books. But, failed to complete his autobiography because education management did not give him time to do so.

An interesting incident to took place while he was alive. Once Partap Singh Kairon, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, raided his office at Karnal. Dr Sukhmandar Singh was working as the District Inspector of Schools then. When nothing incriminating could be found in the office, Kairon ordered to search his house. While the house was being searched he (Kairon) noticed Dr Sukhmandar Singh’s wife, Parkash Kaur, doing the ‘path’ of Guru Granth Sahib in an adjoining room. Instantly, he realised that the person had been harassed unnecessarily on the basis of false reports.

Dr Sukhmandar Singh died at his residence in Mohali last year. 


 

Students hold ‘chetna yatra’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 3
To educate people regarding the social evils prevailing in society, students of the local DAV College and Arya Samaj institutions in the city organised a “chetna yatra” here today.

Thousands of students of DAV College, RB DAV Senior Secondary Public School, Mahatma Hans Raj Senior Secondary School, Arya Girls School, Arya Model School, Gurukul and members of the Istri Arya Samaj in the city held a march through various streets and bazars of the city. The students were holding placards bearing slogans against various social evils. The motive of the rally was to create awareness in society and motivate people against drug abuse, the dowry system, casteism, sex determination tests, child labour, etc.

The yatra started from DAV College and ended at the local MHR School. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, and Mr S. Marriya, Principal, DAV College, were among those present during the beginning of the march. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jain said efforts of the Arya Samaj institutions should be appreciated by all.

He said to end social evils, educational institutions could play a vital role. He said without the participation of people, government departments, including the police, could not do much to eradicate such evils.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, former chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr P.D. Goyal, district president, Arya Samaj, Dr Gora Lal Singla and Mr Jethu Ram Bansal, president and manager, respectively, of MHR School and Ms S.L. Latka, Principal, DAV School.


 

Students take part in “Jan Chetna” rally
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 3
Hundreds of students and teachers of DAV educational institutions of the district took part in the “Jan Chetna rally,” organised by the DAV Managing Committee, to create awareness about female foeticide and other social evils here today.

Holding placards carrying moto like “Beti ko na samjhen sharap, bhroon hatya hai maha paap and dahej pratha ik abhishap, lena dena dono pap” the students started the march from the local Sain Dass Senior Secondary School and passed through the Mai Hiran Gate, Adda Tanda, Bhagat Singh Chowk, Milap Chowk, Nehru Garden Road, Civil Lines, Jail Road before ending it at Patel Chowk.

Earlier, Mr G.P. Chopra, president of the Committee, while talking to mediapersons said they have decided to take strict action against those teachers and students who indulge in social evils.


 

Degrees conferred on 500 students
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 3
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has exhorted graduates to accept the degree as a challenge.

Addressing the 26th convocation-cum-annual prize distribution function at the local Kamla Nehru College for Women here today, Dr S.P. Singh underlined the importance of the multidimensional role that a woman played as a mother, sister, daughter and wife.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor inaugurated a computer lab in the college.

Mr I.K Sardana, college president and Ms Kusum Verma, Principal, welcomed Dr S.P. Singh and his wife, Prof Jagjit Kaur.

Degrees were conferred on 500 graduates. Prizes were also distributed.


 

Cultural show with a difference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
Students and staff of St Peter’s Academy celebrated the school’s annual day function by organising a colourful cultural show symbolising love, peace and harmony.

An event which went down well with the audience was the play, ‘Yatna, crucification of Jesus Christ.’ A one-act play titled, ‘Christmas Card’, based on a Charles Dicken’s novel sent a message to shun selfish motives.

The function was inaugurated by Mr D.P. Reddy, Commissioner, Patiala division, who extolled the virtues of good education. Mr Reddy distributed merit certificates and mementoes to students of Class X who excelled in the CBSE examination. Heena Bharti, a roller skater, who was a member of the bronze medal-winning Indian team that took part the 9th Asian Roller Skating Championships which concluded in Taiwan recently, was also honoured on the occasion.

Tiny tots performed ‘Ras Lila’. The children representing Radha, Krishna and other characters were attired in colourful clothes. Among other events performed were dances like ‘Deva’, a Rajasthani dance and traditional Punjabi folk dances like gidha and bhangra.

Rt. Rev. Gerald Mathies, Bishop of Simla and Chandigarh presided over the function. Earlier Sister Alvina, principal of the school, welcomed the Chief Guest and read out the annual report of the school.

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