Friday, November 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PM gave nothing to Punjab: Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Mounting an attack on the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Punjab Congress said today that he had given nothing to the state during his recent visit to Amritsar whereas Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had been given a package of Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore, respectively, by the Centre.

Cautioning the people against the alleged false propaganda of the SAD-BJP combine with regard to the so-called package of Rs 1,500 crore announced by the Prime Minister in Amritsar, Mr Surinder Singla, chairman of the media committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said that “actually Mr Vajpayee has given nothing to the state”.

He said the money for various proposals announced by the Prime Minister was already a part of the state’s development plan. Announcing the existing budgetary provisions as a new package merely amounted to propaganda to mislead the people.

He said it did not behove the Prime Minister to make such populist announcements when the Assembly elections were nearing. The Election Commission should take suo motu notice of such announcements and take appropriate action. When asked whether his party would approach the commission, Mr Singla said it would like the poll panel to act on its own.

Punjab had been crippled on many fronts during SAD-BJP rule. Political and administrative corruption were rampant, farmers were committing suicide, the agrarian and industrial economy had been shattered and lakhs of youth were facing a bleak future. Mr Singla said the Prime Minister should have announced a comprehensive package a few years ago when the state had started sliding downward.

He said the SAD-BJP government had failed to even implement the prestigious oil refinery project which had been got approved by the previous Congress government. Mr Singla said the charge sheet against Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been approved by the Congress high command and it would be made public at the appropriate time.


No differences with Brar: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi, (Amritsar), November 22
Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today denied any differences with Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, senior vice-president of the PPCC.

Capt Amarinder Singh and others were earlier addressing a rally here in continuation of series of ‘rallies for change’ that the Congress had undertaken in view of the forthcoming elections. Mr Brar was conspicuous by his absence today.

The PPCC president said Mr Brar was presently calling for fairness towards kith and kin in the distribution of tickets for candidates, whereas he had been raising this issue for the past three months. Lists of candidates were being processed and these would be announced shortly, he added.

Sweeping aside the possible unity among Badal-Tohra-Mann factions of the Akali Dal as a threat to his party, Capt Amarinder Singh said this was obvious all along and the present scenario of “unity” just before the election was merely a gimmick to influence voters. He asserted that votes were not garnered on face value of political assignments but on performance and issues dealing with day to day existence. The fact that the ruling coalition had failed on all fronts could cause its fall and hence made no dent in the Congress votes.

Criticising the Prime Minister’s recent largesse for the state he said these financial allocations had already been earmarked earlier and the announcements were made only to gain political mileage.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Congress would start constituency-wise rallies from December 1 in which four segments would be covered each day in December. He said elections were likely to be held by February 12.


UCPI to contest poll along with Cong
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 22
The United Communist Party of India (UCPI) in collaboration with the Congress plans to contest forthcoming elections for eight Assembly constituencies in Punjab.

The constituencies include Panjgrain Kalan, Gidderbaha, Pakka Kalan, Malout, Khadur Sahib, Samana, Kotkapura nd Khanna. Although the party has selected candidates for six constituencies, their names would be released after discussions with the Congress.

This was stated by Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal, President, UCPI, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said a five-member committee comprising Charan Singh Gill Baljit Singh Gill, Pritam Singh Prem and Gurcharan Singh Dhaliwal and including him had been constituted to discuss the issue with Congress leaders.

The UCPI secretary, Mr Mohit Sen, had approached the AICC President, Mr Sonia Gandhi.

Welcoming the decision of the CPM to join hands with the Congress in the elections, Mr Dhaliwal appealed to parties to form a joint strategy to defeat to the SAD-BJP alliance.

He clarified that his party was ready to fight the elections even on the symbol of the Congress Meanwhile, the UCPI will hold conventions at Varsala (Khadur Sahib), Gidderbaha (Muktsar) and Kotkapura (Faridkot) on November 23, December 5 and December 17, respectively.


Riot victims feel left high and dry
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 22
Victims of 1984 riots settled in this district are critical of the Punjab government’s policy of rehabilitation. A riot victim keeping his identity secret, said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, before coming to power had promised to raise their pension, provide education free of cost, in addition to other facilities. 

Tenure of the Badal government has almost come to an end but the commitments made to riot victims remain unfulfilled even today.

the riot victims said that interviews for appointment to class III and class IV posts for the dependents of riot victims in government jobs were held more than three months ago but, so far, no appointment had been made.

He added that elections to Punjab Assembly was in February next year and formal announcement would be made in a month leaving little scope for those interviewed to get appointments in view of the Election Commission’s code coming into force.

The riot victim said that a meeting of riot victims was held here on Monday last to redress grievances. It was presided over by Mr Kirpal Shankar, Director, Rehabilitation and attended by Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner. 

The riot victims criticised the government and described the meeting as an election stunt. There are 35 riot-victim families in the district. 

The DC when contacted said that the riot victims interviewed for jobs in this district three months ago would probably get appointment letters a month before the start of the election process.


Tohra will not join Badal, says Bhai Ranjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
Bhai Ranjit Singh, former jathedar of Akal Takht, today alleged that Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an Akali MLA, and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, a former president of the DSG MC, both confidants of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, had been stabbing in the back of the Panthic Morcha.

The former Jathedar claimed that there was not an iota of truth in Mr Tohra joining hands with the ruling Akali Dal as speculated in the media. He said Mr Sarna and Mr Calcutta took Mr Tohra to New Delhi to meet Mr Badal where he was hospitalised.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said Mr Tohra won’t join hands with Mr Badal as he knew that Mr Badal was responsible for the denigration of Akal Takht and Sikh institutions. He charged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, and other high priests with working at the behest of the ruling party. 


Badal to consult colleagues today

Amritsar, November 22
With five days left for the annual election of the SGPC chief, the game of permutations and combinations is at its peak. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, has convened an informal meeting of his senior colleagues tomorrow at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, on this issue. Though the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee ( PAC) of SAD has been fixed for November 25 at Chandigarh, but as usual the power of nominating the candidate for the coveted post would be given to Mr Badal. The announcement of the candidate is likely to be made on November 27, day of the election. 

The supporters of Bibi Jagir Kaur have been lobbying for her election as the SGPC chief. Many SGPC members have already given her an unconditional support during a ‘show of strength’. She had also held closed-door meetings with her supporters in the SGPC complex. Sources said if SAD decided to replace Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi as the SGPC president then it could give a ‘green signal’ to the high priests for initiating action against him. TNS


Bid to unite Akali factions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
As a sequel to the appeal made by the five Sikh high priests to bring about unity among different factions of the Akalis, a number of influential persons have started making efforts in this direction.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, general secretary of the World Sikh Council, said today that he was trying to rope in like-minded Sikh intellectuals to build pressure on the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and a former SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, to make them sink their differences and unite in the larger interest of the Panth.

He said he had already contacted certain persons who were ready to play a positive role in this connection. 


BJP can help effect Akali unity: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 22
Rapprochement between veteran Akali leaders would improve the poll prospects of the SAD-BJP alliance in the forthcoming assembly elections in the state. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, stated this while talking to mediapersons at Nangal today.

Mr Mittal said the BJP could help reaching a truce, if asked to do so. He said as the leaders did not want the return of the Congress, so, it was expected that they would come together without the intervention of the BJP. He was here to attend the bhog of path organised at Gurdwara Bhabour Sahib.

Court summons Badal, son

Chandigarh, November 22
Chandigarh Chief Judicial Magistrate C.L. Mohal today issued summons to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal to appear on January 19 in a recovery suit filed by a former Additional Director of the Punjab Public Relations Department, Mr Jagdeep Singh Chauhan. UNI


Badal improving
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s condition is improving and he has begun taking physiotherapy.

Dr P.S. Maini, Chairman, Department of Orthopaedics, Ganga Ram Hospital, who operated upon Mr Badal on Sunday told TNS that his wound was okay. “The X-ray report is normal. He has slight fever which is very common after surgery. We made him sit today and hopefully, we will be able to make him stand tomorrow. We have already started physiotherapy.”


Aided polytechnics face closure sans grant
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 22
Fate of hundreds of students and employees of the government-aided polytechnics in the state continues to be uncertain due to non-compliance with the orders of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, revoking instructions of the Punjab Finance Department on abolition of grant-in-aid scheme in a phased manner.

The management committees reportedly are proposing to close down the polytechnics for not having received the grant for the past two years leading to panic among the students and employees.

Employees of these technical institutions have been demanding the implementation of the orders of the Chief Minister. They have not received salary for the past six months.

Mehr Chand Polytechnic, Jalandhar, Thapar Polytechnic, Patiala, Ramgarhia Polytechnic, Phagwara and Guru Nanak Polytechnic, Ludhiana, were set up as private educational institutions in early sixties as there was no government polytechnic before Punjab was reorganised.

The Punjab Government extended aid to these institutions to impart technical education at the grass-roots level. The grant-in-aid subsequently was continued to be raised from time to time since 1965 and gradually it was raised to 95 per cent with the managements contributing only 5 per cent till last year. The Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Department had formulated a new policy imposing a cut in the grant by 33 per cent in 2000-2001, 67 per cent in 2001-2002 and 100 per cent from 2002-2003. The department had been providing grant to the extent of Rs 15 crore per annum to these institutions as salaries and development funds.

The policy further states that these institutions were allowed to ‘sell’ 50 per cent of their allotted seats to make good the deficit. Also the fees were raised for the candidates joining these institutions and were brought on a par with the private polytechnics, leading to resentment among students of poor families. Earlier, fee structure of government polytechnics and these four polytechnics was similar.

The employees of these polytechnics reportedly were conveyed that there was no choice but to close the institutions as it would be difficult for the managements concerned to bear annual deficit of more than Rs 2 crore. The employees have not been paid salary for the past more than six months.

“Contrary to June 14 orders of the Chief Minister continuing grants, the department has not released Rs 2.58 crore. Though we have met the Finance Minister and the Technical Education Minister in this respect, but nothing concrete has been done beyond promises,” Mr S.K. Sehdev, president of the Government-Aided Privately Managed Polytechnics Staff Association, alleged. “We have decided to meet the Chief Minister at Delhi to seek his intervention into the matter,” Mr Sehdev added.

Meanwhile, Paramjit Singh, a student of the Mechanical Engineering diploma course at Mehr Chand Polytechnic, said it would be difficult for students of poor families to continue studies due to sudden hike in the fees. Those who could pay the huge amount could easily get a seat under 50 per cent paid category and would harm the interests of bright candidates, he alleged. 


Flip side to world heritage week
Harinder Dhillon

Amritsar, November 22
While the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is celebrating the world heritage week and holding seminars to sensitise people, heritage buildings and sites in Punjab are in utter neglect. Although Punjab has a large number of historical buildings and sites, very few have been put under the protected category. Buildings owned by the ASI are badly managed although many conservators and caretakers draw their salaries every month for their maintenance. The ASI is allegedly wasting its funds on mare formalities.

The state unit of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) comprising a historian, a sociologist, an anthropologist, an engineer and a conservation architect, has visited some of the protected buildings under the ASI in Punjab and found that these buildings need better upkeep, care and maintenance. The team visited Sarai Amanat Khan and Takht-i-Akbari in this border district. Takht-i-Akbari is a protected site where the coronation of Akbar took place.

However, other buildings like Lukan Meechee have crumbled. Sarai Amanat Khan was built by Amanat Khan, a Mughal noble and calligrapher of Taj Mahal. It is situated on the old route between Lahore and Delhi via Amritsar and was meant for overnight stay of travellers. The sarai had a well, space for horses and bullocks and a number of residential cells around a quadrangle with the imposing Lahori Durwaza and Delhi Durwaza. It is a protected building but the INTACH team found large-scale deterioration due to neglect. Although a caretaker was present, donkeys, buffaloes and dogs were found living there.

When contacted, the state convenor of the INTACH, Dr Sukhdev Singh said “It is important to celebrate weeks and days but what matters is our commitment to the cause. We must fix our priorities about where to spend the public money”.

Mr Harkamaljit Singh, member of INTACH said, “Heritage buildings must be made relevant by promoting heritage tourism”.

A conservation planner and member of INTACH, Mr Gopal Johari, commented that the state government must sign an MoU with INTACH to develop plans for heritage conservation. “To make history were alive, heritage tours for students should be made a part of the curriculum”, said Ms Simmi, another member of INTACH.


Rural games in memory of Kargil martyrs
Nishikant Dwivedi

Kubahedi (Ropar), November 22
This may not equal the euphoria of the ongoing National Games, but it sure qualifies as a national event of sorts. Dedicated to two indomitable sons of the soil, who gave up their life defending the national security at Kargil, this rural games spectacle at Kubahedi, which was held today, is more than just games. It is a befitting tribute to Havildars Bikram Singh and Sukhpreet Singh, who died at Kargil in 1999.

Hundreds of villagers today gathered at a especially-laid-down road for the purpose, to witness, among others games, a bullock-cart race. The race marked first day of the four-day event called Kargil Shahid Memorial Tournament.

More than the technical aspects, it is the spirit behind this tournament which impresses an objective visitor to Kubahedi.

As always, the residents of Kubahedi and those of the nearby villages collect money and hand it over to Havildar Bikram Singh, Sukhpreet Singh Yuvak Sevawan Club, Kubahedi, which organises the meet.

This small village of Ropar district was in the news during the Kargil war, when Bikram and Sukhpreet, cousins, lost their lives in Kargil on July 6 and September 9, 1999, respectively. The village had earlier lost Ajaib Singh and Gurdev Singh during the 1962 Indo-China war. Paramjit Singh, a constable with the Punjab Police and uncle of these two Kargil martyrs, was also killed by terrorists in an encounter.

The patriotic villagers proudly claimed that there were a large number of youths of the village in the armed forces and ‘‘many more are in line to join the forces’’.

The enthusiasm of the villagers for these games could be gauged form the fact that they had laid a 700-meter-long road overnight to hold the bullock cart race. The road was completed just before the race started today at around 3 pm.

In the morning there were football matches between teams of various villages, but everybody seemed to be waiting for the cart race. Participants for this race had come to the village from districts like Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Ludhiana and Ropar. Some participants were professionals racers, like Harminder Singh Chinda of Ludhiana, who had just purchased a Rs 2.30 lakh bull to participate in this race. There were also some first timers like Gurnam Singh of Majra village, who appeared nervous.

Besides the football matches and bullock cart race, kabaddi matches and athletic events would also feature during the meet.

A community kitchen for the participants and spectators is also running.

Interestingly, the villagers did not leave the venue until results of the cart race were declared. Ajit Singh of Ludhiana, with a timing of 27.04 seconds, was declared the winner. Other winners in order of merit were Baba Amarpuri Chano of Sangrur (27.73 seconds), Mahinder Singh of Ropar (27.88 seconds) and Randhir Singh of Ludhiana (27.91 seconds).

Caught in an emotional frame, Mr Jaswinder Singh, uncle of the martyrs, said, ‘‘The government may forget them but we, as Indians, never can. We owe them this’’. He urged the government to complete the two link roads to the village which were named after his martyr nephews.

Earlier, the villagers honoured mothers of some of the Kargil martyrs, including Major Harminder Singh, Havildars Bikramjit Singh, Sukhpreet Singh, Narata Singh and Ranjot Singh.


SAD (A) to field 6 candidates  in Doaba
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will field candidates for six Assembly seats of the Doaba area and leave remaining 21 seats for its alliance partners.

This was stated in a press note by Dr Harjinder Jakhu, general secretary, of the SAD (A) and party’s in charge of the Doaba area, here today. Phagwara, Kapurthala, Sham Chaurasi, Noormahal and Phillaur were among these seats Dr Jakhu said.

Dr Jakhu said similar stands had been taken against reservation for Dalits the RSS and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan’s Khalsa Raj Party. He said if voted to power the Panthic Morcha would further consolidate the reservation for the Dalits reject the Janjua Commission report and clear backlog of jobs. Party president Simranjit Singh Mann besides other leaders would address conference to be held here and at Sultanpur Lodhi on November 30. 


CPM’s Sangrur dist unit splits
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, November 22
The Sangrur district unit of the CPM today split with the formation of a parallel 31-member district executive committee and election of Mr Major Singh Punnawal as district secretary by the dissident group of the party owing allegiance to Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, former state secretary of the CPM’s Punjab unit.

The dissident group organised a conference today at Benra village 2 km from here. Nearly 280 delegates of the CPM Sangrur district participated in the conference, which concluded in the evening. The conference was held under the presidentship of all five tehsil secretaries of the CPM of Sangrur district in the presence of Mr Mangat Ram Pasla and Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, state committee member of the CPM.

In his inaugural speech, Mr Pasla criticised top leadership of the party for abandoning real programme and policies of the party. The participants also named 35 delegates to elect the State Secretary of the CPM.


Democratic set-up eroded in state: Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 22
Veteran Congress leader and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Dr Balram Jakhar, lashed out at the ruling SAD-BJP government stating that the democratic set-up in the state had been completely eroded. Mr Jakhar said the SAD-BJP alliance had virtually broken the backbone of economy in the state as corruption was rampant everywhere.

Mr Jakhar asserted that the rule of law had been converted into ‘jungle law’ and there was a widespread misuse of the administrative machinery at whims and fancies of the leaders. He said a large number of suicides by farmers bear a testimony to the deteriorating financial position and the erroneous policies of the Akalis. Once the most affluent state in the country is in a pathetic shape due to the SAD-BJP misgovernance, Mr Jakhar added.

He prophesied that the SAD-BJP alliance in the state would be ousted sooner than later. While describing the sangat darshan programme as “fraud darshan”, Mr Jakhar said on one hand, the state government was in the red with a huge debt on its shoulders and on the other huge grants were being doled out for the so-called development works.

Answering a question about the Congress infighting, Mr Jakhar, while denying it, asserted that the party stands united and was as solid as a rock. He said the mood of the electorate was in its favour. He said the zila parishad election result in Gujarat was an eye opener for the NDA government. The Congress captured power in 22 out of 23 districts in the state, he added.

As regards the allocation of tickets to the aspirants, he said the high command was seized of the matter and the tickets would be given to the persons who were honest and had integrity. 


MLA slaps cop: plea to withdraw case turned down
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 22
Mr S.K. Singla, Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Sunam, yesterday dismissed the application of the Assistant Public Prosecutor, Sunam, under Section 321 of the Cr. P.C. seeking the withdrawal of the case registered against Manmohan Singh Sathiala, an MLA of the ruling Akali Dal.

The case was registered against Sathiala under Sections 353, 506, 186 of the IPC and 134 and 131 of the Representation of People’s Act on the day of polling in Sunam Assembly byelection on September 29, 2000 at Lehra Gaga police station on the complaint of Punjab police constable Ranjit Singh. The constable, who was on poll duty at a polling booth in Daska village, had alleged that Mr Sathiala slapped and pushed him to the ground when he (Ranjit Singh) objected to the entry of Mr Sathiala into the booth.

Counsel for the complainant, said today at Sunam that earlier the court had ordered summoning of the accused (Sathiala) to the court but later it recalled the summoning order after the filing of an application by the APP for the withdrawal of the case.

Mr Singla said now the court again ordered to summon the accused on December 20, next date of hearing in this case.

The government reportedly had asked the authorities in Sangrur to withdraw the case, registered against Sathiala. On this, the APP, Sunam, filed an application on July 16 last in the court for the withdrawal of the case.

Ms Gurcharan Kaur, mother of Mr Ranjit Singh, had filed an application last year with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) to seek justice for her son. The Commission sent the same to the Punjab Government for inquiry which was held by the SP (Special Staff), Crime Wing, Punjab. The inquiry officer found that MLA Manmohan Singh Sathiala abused constable Ranjit Singh and also pushes and slapped him when he (Ranjit Singh) was in uniform and on duty. 


Water tanks dry for 27 years
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 22
Crores of rupees have gone down the drain on account of non-functioning of four huge overhead water tanks after these were set-up by the then municipal committee authorities in 1974 in a bid to ensure uniform water supply to all parts of the city.

Water supply tanks at the Tagore Park, Prahalad Nagar, Green View Park and the Railway Mandi locality invite attention. Though these tanks were constructed in 1974 by the civic body authorities, yet these were never put to use—not even for once—for a number of reasons, including alleged flaws in design and use of low quality material. Residents alleged that the civic authorities could not fulfil its basic objective of supplying water and maintain uniform pressure of water to all parts of the city. We have been watching these “minarets of corruption” standing idle for past 25 years but no effort ever been made by any quarter to put these tanks to use. How can they waste public money with such an ease?” questioned Mr Rattan Singh Rajput, a resident of the Bahadurpur locality. He further said the quality of the material used for construction of these tanks even failed to withstand the experimental tests. “These had started leaking as soon as water was filled in with the help of tubewells,” said Mr Rattan Singh.

Similarly, Mr Mohan Singh Saini of the Railway Mandi locality said these tanks were used by children of the locality for playing. “The purpose which these tanks serve is to provide a platform for children for playing” he said.

He said the non-functioning of these tanks had forced the civic authorities to supply water to residents directly from tubewells. “In case you supply water directly from tubewells, you cannot ensure proper chlorination, which is much easy in case of water stored in overhead tanks,” said a retired municipal engineer.

Meanwhile, the civic authorities tried to shift the buck by maintaining that though the MC had spent the money, the construction of the tanks was carried out by the Punjab Sewerage and Water Supply Board. “The board people failed to construct these tanks properly and according to the specifications,” said an official of the civic body.


Scribe among 8 granted bail
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 22
A scribe of a Hindi daily was among eight persons who were granted bail by Mr Harbhajan Dass, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, here in a criminal complaint filed against them under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Child Marriage Act, Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 109 of the IPC, it was learnt yesterday.

A former block Congress (urban) President, Mr Madan Mohan Bajaj, had filed the complaint against 16 persons on July 20 alleging that the marriage of his son, Pankaj, was illegally solemnised by the accused with an eye on his property.

He had alleged that he was pressured and threatened to get his minor son married. However, out of 16 accused, only eight had appeared in the court on November 20 and had applied for the bail.


Robberies scare residents
Jangveer Singh

A spate of armed robberies in Patiala has brought back the fear of the “Kale Kachchewala” gang which had struck the city about two years ago. The modus operandi of these gangs which operate in areas around the city and Dera Bassi is similar to that of the “Kale Kacchhewala” gang.

The police had claimed to have burst the gang behind the robberies two years ago by arresting some members of the Boria tribe of Madhya Pradesh. This time there seems to be no clues to the identity of the assailants who are clearly not Punjabis. Once again, the robbers have preferred to strike at isolated houses or farmhouses. They attack the residents immediately after entering a house, instead of trying to commit a robbery without waking anyone.

The victims of the recent robberies claim that the robbers were not Punjabis and spoke Hindi or a similar dialect. However, the identity of the gang is still unknown even though one of its members was shot dead at Dera Bassi.

Residents of the peripheral colonies, struck by fear, have started ‘thikri pehras’ so that any stranger is easily identified, particularly at night.

* * *

Children of Blossoms School observed Grandparents Day with a cultural show exclusively for their grandparents. The Principal of the school, Mrs Ravi Singh, said the idea was mooted to establish links with the children’s grandparents who were generally not involved in the school activities of the children. She said the function was also aimed at encouraging the joint family concept which was on the decline.

* * *

Modern education, coupled with environment awareness, was the message of the annual function of Kainthal Junior school. The school, which has started imparting knowledge of Information Technology to its students, has also started a mass awareness programme to make students conscious of their environment. The Principal, Ms Neena Dhundia, said trees and shrubs had been planted all around the school.

The function, which was presided over by Mr Anirudh Tewari, Member (Finance) of the Punjab State Electricity Board, included plays in English and Hindi staged by the students. While the English play was “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the Hindi play was titled ‘Sabzion ki Ladai’.



Collective action must to end terrorism’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
A meeting of the state executive of the Punjab BJP youth wing was held here today with Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary (organisation), in the chair. He spoke on terrorism and how September 11 had changed the world scene triggering global action against terrorism. He said: "We firmly believe that the problem of terrorism can only be solved by collective action. We should be prepared to offer any assistance to the USA and other members of the coalition for action against terrorism. India's assistance in this regard has been in pursuance to our established policies."

Mr Jaiswal cautioned the people against identifying terrorism with Islam, even though many individuals and organisations had spoken of committing acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

Stressing the need for effective steps to fight terrorism in India, he said “our experience showed that terrorists have received encouragement from our legal framework as well as judicial procedures that are not effective enough to suitably punish them. Therefore, the need for POTO to combat terrorism. All parties should rise above petty political interests and support POTO in Parliament”.


Ultimatum to SSP to vacate building
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 22
Dr Bal Gopal Goyal, president of Model Town Welfare Society, Hoshiarpur and its other members have given an ultimatum to the local SSP either to vacate the community centre of Model Town occupied “illegally by the police” within 15 days or face agitation.

The police had occupied the centre during terrorism days in Punjab. Since then a police station is being run from the centre.

Dr A.K. Sethi, secretary of the welfare society, told this correspondent here today that the society had been trying to get the centre vacated since 1987. Innumerable representations had been made to the administration. Even orders of the Chief Minister in this regard had been ignored, he said.

Dr Goyal would start an indefinite fast if nothing was done within 15 days, he added.

Mr Sanjeev Kalra, SSP, said the police was looking for a suitable building in the area and as soon as it was found, the centre would be vacated.


24 cows die in 2 days
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 22
As many as 24 cows have died since yesterday and another 10 are battling for life at a “gaushala” at Bulandpur village, near here.

Though the reason behind the incident could not be ascertained, yet the “gaushala” authorities maintained that the cows had died after consuming poisonous fodder which was suspected to have been supplied by some visitors. The “gaushala” authorities have sent samples of fodder for chemical examination to the veterinary laboratory of the Punjab Veterinary Department on Ladowali road here this evening.


Bihar comes alive in Bathinda
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, November 22
Ten-year-old Pushpesh was unhappy as his family was not going to Bihar this year to celebrate the Chhatt festival. But on participating in the celebrations of the festival in the city, he saw Bihar come alive in Bathinda.

Thousands of migrant labourers, mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, converged on the bank of canal on the outskirts of the city to offer prayers and seek the blessing of “Ranvi Mai” (Chhatt Devi) The Chhatt festival, a six-day event, concluded here last night.

About 25,000 persons reached here from nearby areas to offer prayers. Attired in clourful clothes, men, women and children thronged the Bathinda-Goniana road. Local residents, who were not aware of the festival, thought that it was a procession or a rally. It was the first time that the Chhatt festival was celebrated in Bathinda with fanfare. On the concluding day, families holding fruits, vegetables and other items offered their prayers together.

When this correspondent talked to Parmod Kumar, a resident of Begosarai village (Bihar), Kamroodin and Ramchander of Sonapur (Bihar), besides Sadanand Purnia, Raju and Shivanand from Uttar Pradesh they said it was their biggest festival. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh it is celebrated at various places. People offer prayers on the banks of the Ganga, they said.

Many of their acquaintances had gone home to celebrated this festival and those who could not go, were celebrating it here, they said.

The festival is celebrated after Divali for six days. People worship “Ranvi Mai” and seek prosperity and happiness. For the first three days, people go on a fast and do not touch any utensils. No work is done during these days. They sleep on the floor for six days. Interestingly, husband and wife sleep separately during the period. The devotees pray twice a day during the festival. In the morning, they pray for about an hour before sunrise and perform puja for a few hours before sunset. They believe that issueless couples would be blessed with a child if they perform puja while standing in water.

On the concluding day, known as “Nisar ka din,” people visit each other’s houses to wish them happiness. 

at ‘mazaar’

Noormahl (Jalandhar), November 22
Tension gripped this sleepy historical township when two groups of people clashed and resorted to stone-throwing following objections by the management of Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai over the dancing and beating of “dhol” by followers of a “mazaar” located within the gurdwara premises tonight. 

The Phillaur DSP Satinder Singh said the police intervened to save the situation. Three persons were injured in the cane charge, sources said. Mr Satinder Singh said people from both side had been called to participate in a meeting tomorrow. TNS



Conference on panchayati raj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
A one-day state conference of representatives of panchayati raj institutions is being organised at the CRRID here tomorrow.

The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N. K. Arora, will be the chief guest, while the Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr J. S. Kesar, among others, will address the conference, according to a press release.


Help physically challenged: Kanjla
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 22
“The government is making all possible efforts to enable physically challenged persons to lead a normal life, but its efforts cannot succeed without the cooperation of people, said Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, Minister for Social Security and Women and Child Development, while presiding over a function organised in connection with the Children’s Day at the local school for deaf and dumb today.

Mr Kanjla said the main motive of celebrating the function at the school for the deaf and dumb was to attract the attention of society towards the problems of the deaf and dumb.

Later, addressing a press conference, Mr Kanjla said nobody would be allowed to misuse government welfare schemes. He said 9.5 lakh aged persons were being given pensions in the state.


Photo I-cards made mandatory
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
No one would be allowed to cast vote without photo identity card in the forthcoming state assembly poll as these have been made mandatory by the Election Commission of India, disclosed Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, after presiding over a meeting of district officials, leaders of parties, municipal councillors, prominent citizens and revenue officials here today.

He urged all those voters, who did not possess the identity cards to get these prepared during the special campaign launched in both constituencies of the district from November 18 to December 2 for 78 Amloh and from December 3 to December 15 in 79 Sirhind Assembly constituencies so that people might exercise their right to franchise.

He also urged the representatives of parties to motivate people for making photo identity cards as these would also be used for other purposes to establish their identity.

He also directed the revenue officials to constitute teams comprising partwaris, panchyat secretaries and anganwari workers to visit door to door in the rural areas for educating and motivating people to get their photo I-cards.

On the similar pattern the teams comprising municipal officials and employees would go from door to door.

He also said that those who had already got made their voting I-cards, but had some discrepancies or lost their I-cards could also get new I-cards during this special campaign.

He further told that the decision regarding the issuance of photo I-cards to new voters would be taken after the necessary directions of the Election Commission.

He urged the people to take the benefit of this special campaign so that they might participate in the election process and strengthen the democracy.


Five thieves held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 22
The district police claims to have busted a seven-member gang of thieves with the arrest of its five members and seizure of two pistols from their possession.

Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa, SP (Detective), stated here today that after receiving the secret information last night that seven armed persons had assembled at an abandoned place in the local Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar locality and were planning to commit a robbery, the CIA staff along with the police division No. 6 officials raided the spot.

While five of them were arrested, the other two escaped. The arrested persons were identified as Ramesh Chander and Sham Lal, both of the local Tilak Nagar locality, Lal Chand, Santosh and Ramesh Kumar, all of the local Ghas Mandi. Two .12-bore pistols were seized from them. 


Armed gangs loot two ‘deras’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 22
Members of two heavily-armed gangs donning “kala patkas” struck at two “deras” at Sangha Jagir and Sharakpur villages in the Nakodar-Noormahal area and forced the inmates to part with cash and other valuables before fleeing under the cover of darkness early today.

A gang of 8-10 members armed with iron rod, lathis and swords barged into the “dera” of Alam Hussain, a Gujjar, in Sharakpur village near Nakodar around 12.30 a.m. and forced him and his family members to hand over cash and other valuables. Alam Hussain and his family had to part with Rs 4,000 and some jewellery. Later, the gang members went to the house of Alam’s brother Hajura Hussain and forced him to hand over cash and jewellery.

Similarly, another gang attacked the “dera” of Harbans Kaur around 3 a.m. at Sangha Jagir village near Noormahal and decamped with Rs 10,000 and jewellery belonging to her daughter-in-law. Harbans Kaur said the gang members forced her to hand over the keys of the almirah. After committing the robbery, the gang members escaped.


Four gangsters arrested
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 22
Four gangsters were arrested by the police after an encounter with them, near here, late last night. Under “operation night dominance,” a police party put a naka at the Drain bridge near village Dharampura village. Late last night, the police saw four unidentified persons heading towards the main road. When asked to stop, one of them reportedly opened fire at the police. The gangsters tried to flee, but the police chased them and arrested them. They are Sukhwinder Singh of Kamalwala (Jagraon), Chander Parkash of Chunawadh (Sriganganagar), Sukhminder Singh of Padampur tehsil (Sriganganagar) and Kanwaljit Singh of Sri Karanpur (Sriganganagar). The police seized revolvers and cartridges from them.

The police said during interrogation it was revealed that they were members of an interstate gang led by Jaswinder Singh Jassa of Mankiwala (Malerkotla) and Devinder Singh of Sriganganagar.

The police said the gang had kidnapped an owner of a petrol station in Kotkapura and reportedly recovered heavy ransom from him.


Quick raise for awarded GND varsity teachers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
The teachers getting national and international award would be given accelerated increments. This was informed by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, in a press note here today.

To promote research on the campus, the university will provide incentive to the researchers in the form of infrastructure, facilities for field work and contingency expenditure. He said the workload of the teachers would be adjusted so that they could devote more time for the research. The university will also publish the quality research work and will pay 5 per cent more than the existing royalty on the published work.

Presently more than 200 students can use computers round-the-clock at the university café. The students have to pay a nominal fee of Rs 10 per hour while the research fellows and staff are allowed to use this facility free of cost, he said.

The university has introduced a scheme of “earning while learning”. He said more than 400 students would be imparted jobs in examinations, printing press, computer labs and the library under the scheme.

He said in addition to the main convocation, the university had on demand of its students, decided to hold faculty-wise convocations. From this academic session, the university will hold seven convocations, he added. 


Degree issue worries PTU students
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, November 22
Students of various study centres of Punjabi University Patiala and Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar have been facing uncertainty ever since their courses were started by these universities. The question whether the degrees awarded by these universities would be recognised by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the apex body in the country to approve technical courses or not, is causing a great deal of anxiety among them.

While the regional office of the AICTE issued a public notice in leading newspapers recently, restraining students from seeking admissions in the master of computer application (MCA) course at four institutes, two in Bathinda and two in Patiala, the university contested the claim of the apex body. The students are not sure even to this day about the validity of their degrees. Interestingly, Punjabi University, Patiala, which hosted the regional conference of universities recently faced embarrassing situation when the Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Mr Hari Gautam, said that no university could run educational courses in collaboration with any private company. His statement led to protests by students of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology, being run by the university in collaboration with a private company from Delhi. While the UGC Chairman did not denied his statement, the university authorities clarified their stand and claimed the validity of degrees awarded by them.

Students of Punjab Technical University also face a similar dilemma. At least 18,000 students are said to be on the rolls of its various study centres. The university is running computer training centres at village levels in collaboration with private companies. Fees collected from students is shared among the university, the study centre and the master company as per the contract. Highly placed sources said the role of the master company was limited to providing coordination facilities only, but it was making profit in crores while the facilities and quality of teaching provided at these centres can always be questioned. Students of a local PTU centre said the authorities at the centre had failed to satisfy their queries.

Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (D), who heads the eight centres of PTU being run in this district with the help of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), expressed ignorance about the approval by the AICTE. He said the degrees awarded by the university must be valid, by its nature itself.


Working of PTU centres to be monitored: VC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 22
Mr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, said today that various study centres established by the university would be monitored for quality of infrastructure and teaching to maintain the credibility of the university.

Mr Gurm, who was here today in connection with the inauguration of the new block of the Architecture Department at the Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology, while addressing a press conference said about 15,000 students were on the rolls of the university.

He denied having any knowledge of PTU computer study centres running without proper infrastructure. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Education Minister, Punjab, who was to inaugurate the block failed to keep his date. The block was inaugurated by Mr Narinder Singh, Principal of the college, and Mr Gurm.

Referring to the alleged non-approval and non-recognition of some of the degrees awarded by PTU, Mr Gurm said the dispute had arisen because of the nomenclature of the degrees.

The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had powers to recognise/derecognise the bachelors and masters degree in engineering and other technical courses but the M.Sc (IT) and B.Sc (IT) do not come under the purview of the council, he claimed 

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