Thursday, October 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Few buyers for paddy at MSP
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Khanna, October 2
A day after the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, launched the procurement process here yesterday, the farmers are finding it hard to sell their paddy for Rs 560, the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the central government for the standard variety.

While yesterday, in the presence of the Chief Minister, paddy sold for as much as Rs 587 per quintal, today not a single heap (dheri) could be sold for more than Rs 560 per quintal. And even this rate was offered only to a lucky few.

On the second day of the official procurement, even the government agencies were very selective in purchasing paddy. They ensured that they purchased only the standard variety which qualified the specified norms. Everything else was left for the private agencies like the millers and the commission agents.

A rough estimate after an extensive survey of the market today revealed that the government agencies purchased only about one third of the paddy today at the rate of Rs 560 per quintal. The farmers said that the official agencies were randomly moving from one heap to another and offering the minimum reserve price. Since no private agency was present, the farmers had to sell it for the same price only. And not many farmers were lucky to sell their paddy to the state agencies also.

Even the arhtiyas (the commission agents), who purchased the paddy for Rs 587 per quintal were quite reluctant to pay the MSP today. One of the millers, who quoted higher prices yesterday, pointed out that most of the paddy in the market does not meet the specified standards and it was difficult to purchase it at such a price.

Despite assurances from the government the farmers are not prepared to wait for long. Most of the farmers who could not find the state agencies for their paddy sold it to private millers and commission agents who offered them rates ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 540 per quintal. "That is the maximum we can offer to the farmers", said Mr Ranbir Sood, one of the oldest commission agents in the market.


SAD seeks full bonus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Former union minister and SAD General Secretary, Sukhbir Singh Badal said here today that the reported decision of the Punjab Government to give Rs 10 per quintal as partial bonus during the current season to the paddy growers had exposed Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s claim about the poor financial situation in the state as reason for not giving the bonus.

He also demanded that the full bonus of Rs 30 per quintal promised by the Congress before elections must be paid in lumpsum and not deferred to next year.

About the state government’s ability to pay the bonus, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had been projecting a financial crisis in the state to use it as a stick not only to criticise the SAD-BJP government but also punish employees, farmers and other sections of society.

Describing the decision on bonus of the government as a victory of the farmers of the state and a vindication of the stand of the SAD in this regard, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister’s earlier refusal to decide in this regard was motivated by political considerations.

Mr Badal came down heavily on the government decision to close DIET institutions.


Punjab needs another green revolution
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Bhadson (Patiala), October 2
If Punjab has to maintain its lead in economic growth it will have to usher in a second agricultural revolution like the green revolution of the late ’60s. To achieve this, the state and central governments will have to play the role of facilitator to attract private investment in agriculture and rural development sectors, said Dr Satish C. Jha, former Director and Chief Economist at Asian Development Bank (ADB) here today.

He was addressing a seminar on ‘Agriculture Extension — Challenges and Goals,’ organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bhadson Pilot Extension Project that was supported by The Ford Foundation, USA and Community Development Project, Government of India. The seminar was organised by the Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust.

Mr Jha said: ‘‘Punjab was leading all states in agricultural production till the ’80s. However, it started to lag far behind later due to a decline in public sector investment in agriculture from about Rs 2,000 crore annually to about Rs 1,000 crore and failure of the state machinery to adjust with the challenge of liberalisation. Ironically, during the post-economic reform period, Punjab’s growth rate has been estimated at 4.11 per cent in comparison to national growth rate of 6 to 6.5 per cent. The future of the state’s prosperity is at stake unless corrective steps are taken by the government.’’

Referring to the Bhadson pilot project, Mr Jha said it was the first major project in India that helped farmers increase their production manifold through high-quality seeds and other inputs. The model was replicated throughout India leading to the green revolution and surplus foodgrains. However, he lamented, the subsequent governments failed to keep up the momentum.

Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, Chairman of the Cheema Foundation, disclosed that Bhadson was the first village in the country to show signs of the green revolution. The harvesting combines were first manufactured in this village. The seminar was aimed at, he said, preparing the ground for export-led second revolution in agriculture.

Referring to the present agricultural scenario in the state, Prof K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University ( PAU) said: ‘‘After initial success in increasing production, the farmers have also slowed down, and their dependence on migrant labour and machinery has increased manifold. Apart from assured price for alternative crops, they will also have to come up once again to meet the challenges of the global competition.”

He lamented that due to lack of marketing support farmers were not prepared to diversify their crops. What they needed was not subsidies, but assured price for their crops. The R&D at the PAU was suffering due to shortage of funds. The farmers would have to cut down their expenses on unnecessary social functions and unite under cooperatives to compete with the global giants.

Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, was of the view that Panchayats should not waste the grants on unwanted projects like building gates at the entry of village, and should invest in education and health facilities.

Among others, Mr Anirban Ganguly, Programme Associate, Ford Foundation, Dr R.K. Rampal, Director, Agriculture, Punjab and Mr Anand Kumar and Assistant General Manager, ICICI Bank also spoke on the occasion. An exhibition by the Cooperative Department was also organised.


Heritage status for Golden Temple: survey begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 2
A team comprising SGPC officials, INTACH and representatives of the Central Government today started a survey on the elevated road project between the GT Road and Jallianwala Bagh, here today. The road will help ease traffic congestion around the Golden Temple as devotees visiting it face difficulty before paying obeisance.

The high-level joint meeting approved the involvement of the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) — Central Government undertaking for urban transport planning and designing access routes for a “topographical survey” of the elevated route.

Mr Harbeant Singh, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, secretary and general secretary, respectively of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee, Mr Inderjit Chawla, Chief Engineer of Punjab Local Government, Additional Commissioner Kirpal Singh, an eminent conservationist and Director, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Ms Gurmeet Rai, and Ms Poonak Thakur. RITES team which included Mr V. C. Rishi and Mr O.P. Kapoor General Manager (RITES) and members of the Municipal Corporation also attended the meeting.

The proposed project would be a double-way route up to ‘Phurey Wala Chowk’ from Ram Talai Road. The survey is to submit report in a month. The project ‘if favoured’ will have budget of Rs 38 crore. There is also a proposal to acquire four acre near government senior secondary school close to the temple for a multi-storeyed parking complex for visitors traffic to the Golden Temple said Mr Kirpal Singh.

Ms Gurmeet Rai said regulation of traffic via the elevated road is sensitive and serious as the site being of historical importance the world over and especially as an epicenter of Sikhism and its history. The decision to implement the project would be made after the survey report. As the temple was a symbol of the evolution of the city and a nucleus around which human habitation developed here therefore the project was not being considered in isolation but encompassed heritage conservation in its totality, she added.


World Sikh varsity to function from November 19
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 2
The proposed World Sikh University on the pattern of Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University will start functioning from November 19, the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Devji, at Anandpur Sahib after “Ardas” by Singh Sahibans at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

At a press conference here last night, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann and Dr Gurcharan Singh, who claimed to be president and vice-president, respectively, of the “World Sikh Foundation” said the World Sikh University would start functioning with the setting up of the Department of Comparative Study of Religions, Indian Ancient Studies, Martial Arts Studies, and Human Resources etc.

Mr Mann said the University’s headquarter would be at Anandpur Sahib. Its branch would also function near Chamkaur Sahib where eight panchayats had passed resolutions to donate land for the university. He said foundation stone for the university buildings would be laid in April next by Akal Takht Jathedar and Shankaracharayas of Peeths at Anandpur Sahib.

Mr Mann and Dr Gurcharan Singh said the World Sikh Foundation would request the Punjab Government for 100 acres of land at Anandpur Sahib for the university. The foundation will also request the SGPC, the DSGMC, and the Chief Khalsa Diwan to help the foundation. They added the foundation would be by seeking donations from institutes and individuals.

Mr Mann said the university would be a minority institution to be governed by UGC rules and regulations. He said the World Sikh Foundation with headquarter at Chandigarh would set up not only the World Sikh University but also other institutions like Medical and Engineering colleges. 


Protest march by DIET students
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, October 2
Hundreds of members of the district unit of the DIET Students Welfare Association, led by its president Jagjit Singh, observed a black day today and took out a procession through the main streets of the city, which concluded at the Nehru Garden.

Around 400 students, including girls, holding black flags, took part. They raised anti-government slogans and alleged that they were being victimised by the police.

“It is shocking that the Punjab Chief Minister is keeping mum on the issue even as students are being lathi charged by the police at different places in the state for using their democratic right to protest against the new education policy,” Jagjit Singh said.

The protesters demanded that the SHO of the Adampur police station should be suspended immediately for ordering the lathi charge on students at Jandusingha village on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road yesterday, in which five policemen and 20 students, including 12 girls, were injured.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal criticised the state government’s decision to cancel the admission of 3,400 ETT students and the lathi charge on agitating DIET students, particularly girls, here yesterday.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Badal said the government instructed the police to resort to a lathi charge on the students, adding that it was the democratic right of the students to oppose the “wrong” policies of the state government.

Amritsar: Hundreds of DIET and ETT students, led by Surinder Singh Sodhi, general secretary of the local DIET Students Welfare Association, took out a rally through the city on Wednesday, protesting against the lathi charge on students and the indefinite closure of DIETs in the state.

Meanwhile, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP leader, Mr Manjit Singh Bhooma of the AISSF and Mr Varinderjot Singh of the Sikh Student Federation, criticised the decision to shut DIETs.

Gurdaspur: The police foiled the attempt of DIET students to take out a procession here and block traffic here on Wednesday to protest against the government’s decision to close down DIETs in the state. The students held a protest meeting on the premises of the local DIET and condemned the attitude of the government towards ETT students.

The speakers demanded opening of DIETs immediately and scrapping of the new education policy. This included two-year internship for ETT teachers and enhancement of qualification for admission to the ETT course from Class XII to graduation.

Nawanshahr: Students of DIET, Naura, Nawanshahr, blocked traffic on the Chandigarh Chowk here on Wednesday to protest against the “callous attitude” of the state government towards ETT students who had been protesting against the new education policy. Mr Som Nath, president of the district unit of the DIET Students Welfare Association, said the government, by resorting to a lathi charge on ETT students during their demonstrations, had been forcing the agitating ETT students to follow the “revolutionary path”. He criticised the government for closing the DIETs for an indefinite period.

Ropar: Students of the local District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) observed Gandhi Jayanti as “black day” on Wednesday. They wore black badges and took out a march, carrying black flags, led by Mr Mukesh Bhandari, president of the local DIET students body. They were protesting against the Education Policy, 2002, cancellation of admission of 3,400 ETT students and closure of all DIETs for an indefinite period in the state.

The students raised slogans against the Punjab Government. They also held a rally and staged a dharna in front of the DIET here.

Mr Bhandari said the DIET students condemned the lathi charge on DIET students in Jalandhar on Tuesday. He said the students wanted the “erring” police officials to be punished.

Meanwhile, Mr Sucha Singh Khatra, president of the district unit of the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, criticised the state government for the lathi charge on the DIET students. He assured full support to the DIET students.

Bathinda: After the closure of DIETs and cancellation of admission of 3,400 ETT students, the agitating ETT students got another jolt on Wednesday, when eight of their leaders belonging to Faridkot, Muktsar and Bathinda districts were booked. None of them had been arrested so far.

Sources said the student leaders were booked as they disrupted vehicular traffic for about three hours on the national highway the previous day by organising a dharna on a canal bridge. The students were accused of creating problems for the general public and charged with misbehaviour with the police personnel on duty, the sources added.

The student leaders booked were state treasurer Swaranjeet Singh Bhagta, Bathinda unit office-bearers Satwinder Singh, Kanwaljit Kaur, Jarnail Singh, Faridkot unit leaders Balwinder Singh and Gurdit Singh and Muktsar unit leaders Bakhshish Singh and Daljit Kaur.

The registration of the cases showed its impact as the march taken out by the ETT students on Wednesday was not much-effective and the protesting students did not block traffic.


CM ‘trying to destabilise SGPC’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 2
The SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, today accused the Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of trying to engineer a coup in the SGPC. Prof Badungar was talking to newspersons at Sant Baba Dalip Singh Memorial Khalsa College at Domeli, 20 km from here, before addressing an SGPC-sponsored seminar on the role of the Babbar movement in the freedom struggle of the country.

Dilating upon his point, Prof Badungar alleged that the Chief Minister was indulging in arms-twisting tactics to demoralise SGPC members by ordering Vigilance raids at them. This was being done under a conspiracy to force members to switch loyalties to the rival Akali faction headed by former SGPC President Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

He warned the Congress to keep off the religious affairs of the Sikhs.

Prof Badungar claimed that the Vigilance Bureau had no jurisdiction over the SGPC as the body or its members were not drawing any benefits from the state exchequer. This Vigilance raids on SGPC members’ houses were illegal.

He reiterated his demand for disbanding of the PSGPC and for the restoration of the control of Sikh shrines in Pakistan to the SGPC and the association of the SGPC with the inquiry ordered by the Pakistan government into embezzlement of Rs 20 crore worth of gold and cash by a former ISI chief who had headed the PSGPC.

When asked if the SGPC would ban sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan in protest against the embezzlement of funds and the violation of maryada, Prof Badungar skirted a direct reply by merely saying that the government had banned the sending of Jathas due to border tension.

Addressing the seminar later, Prof Badungar called for a second Sikh renaissance for combating and curbing social evils like abuse of drugs, dowry, female foeticide and apostasy among Sikh youths on the one hand and the onslaught of ‘Gurudom’ and deraism’ on the other.

Dr Surjit Singh Narang, Professor, Political Science Department, Dr Joginder Singh, Professor, History Department, Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar, Dr Harinder Singh Mehboob, a Sikh scholar, Mr Bakhshish Singh Nijhar, an authority on the Babbar movement, were the other key speakers.


BJP behind delay in SGPC poll: Dal Khalsa
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 2
The Dal Khalsa alleged today that the BJP-led government at the Centre was using tactics to delay Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) general election to help the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Punjab.

Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, a spokesperson of the Dal Khalsa, speaking at Pheruman village, 40 km from here today said that on the one hand, the BJP was not supporting to Sikh demand refuse voting right to Sehajdharis while on the other hand it (BJP) was helping delay of SGPC election to give advantage to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), the dominant SGPC Akali faction. The resolution passed at the convention, asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, to prevail upon the Centre to hold SGPC election at the earliest.

Challenging the self-styled living gurus, the resolution warned them against being addressed as “gurus”, using the hymns of Gurbani and propagating contrary to the philosophy and the teachings of 10 Gurus.

Representatives of various groups pledged not to allow even a drop of river water to flow from the state to other states as Punjab did not have “surplus water” to meet demands of others. A resolution passed to this effect stated that Punjab had the inalienable right to use its river waters.

The Punjab government was criticised for not making public the report of the committee constituted to look into the activities of Ashutosh. The resolution said that the ‘studied silence’ of the Punjab government on the matter was dangerous. The government was blamed for ignoring the directions of the National Minority Commission which had demanded a ban on the congregations of the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan.

The resolution further stated that the 31-member panel formed under the aegis of Akal Takht had failed to formulate an action plan to counter activities of the likes of Ashutosh which had not only embolden the latter but also created suspicion amongst Sikh masses on the credibility of the panel.

Terming of the trial by media of Akal Takht by certain Sikh groups as most unfortunate, Mr Sarabjit Singh of the Dal Khalsa said that it had set a wrong precedent. An appeal in the form of a resolution, was made to such groups not to damage prestige of Akal Takht Jathedar.

SGPC general secretary Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, said that ‘mushrooming’ of ‘deras’ and self-styled living ‘gurus’ in the recent past had been having destabilising effects on Sikh religion. She called upon the Sikh masses especially Sikh women to shun all practices and rituals, contrary to Sikh principles and ethos.

Mr Narain Singh, convener of the Akal Federation, and Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, president, Sarb Hind Youth Akali Dal also spoke at the convention.


Govt ‘acting like robber’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today accused the Punjab Government of acting ”like a highway robber”. Reacting to the “abduction” and illegal detention of Mr Prahalad Singh, a close relative of Mr Badal’s former Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Mr Hardeep Singh Bhamra, by vigilance officials, the Akali leader described it as a disgrace and slur on the face of the present regime.

Mr Badal said the government had been targeting all those who had been directly or indirectly associated with him in official or political capacity during his tenure as Chief Minister. The issue, which deserved special attention and intervention at the highest judicial level, would come up for discussion in the meeting of the SAD Political Affairs committee on October 4.

Mr Prahlad Singh was abducted by officials of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau from the residence of Mr Hardeep Singh in Mohali at 2.15 p.m. yesterday. They misbehaved with him and took him away without fulfilling legal formalities or even allowing him to inform his relatives in Amritsar.


Money power behind defection: CPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Reacting to the joining of the Congress by two CPI MLAs — Mr Gurjant Singh and Mr Nathu Ram — today, the secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said this issue would be taken up with the Congress high command by the CPI.

He said that though it was an unfortunate development, “money and muscle power have played a role in this whole affair”. One could not expect such a “ poaching” from a party ( Congress) which repeatedly claimed to strengthened the secular forces in the country.

The electoral tie up between the Congress and the CPI in the Punjab Assembly elections was a result of intervention by the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, after the matter was taken up with her by the CPI high command. Even now the relations between the Congress and CPI high commands are cordial as the Left parties have stood by the Congress on various national issues while opposing the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.

However, the latest development pertaining to the joining of the Congress by two CPI MLAs will have a bearing on the CPI’s relations with Mrs Gandhi. Dr Dayal said that he would oppose the pro-WTO policies of the Congress government in Punjab and also the communal forces represented by SAD and the BJP.

He said that the culture to bring elected representatives from other parties in the fold of the Congress by using “foul” means was promoted by former Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao. Capt Amarinder Singh had maintained that tradition. But such a step of the CM would make the CPI strengthen its resolve to oppose the state government on all public related issues.


Mann takes action against 4 leaders
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 2
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), has taken action against four of its top leaders for violating the party discipline.

These are Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary, Mr Balwinder Singh, president of the party’s youth wing, Mr Balvir Singh, president of the party’s Jalandhar unit, and Mr Gurnam Singh president of the Tanda circle (Hoshiarpur). They had allegedly issued letters to some persons for taking political asylum abroad.

According to a letter issued by the party’s head office, Bhai Ram Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh have been divested of their powers while Mr Balvir Singh and Mr Gurnam Singh have been suspended from the party with immediate effect.


NGO’s drive to green Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
For Bathinda, synonymous with pollution with its smoke spewing thermal plant, an effort by a local NGO to green the city is now showing some result. Over the past two years, thousands of saplings of shady and ornamental trees as well as flowering shrubs have been planted in the city.

This is in sharp contrast to other such drives launched in fits and starts by the government authorities. Most of the saplings planted by the NGO have survived, thanks to the proper post-plant care and regular watering.

Saplings have been planted in the open spaces of the city as well as in the premises of various educational institutes and religious places, besides the police lines. Medians and dividers on the major roads are also being covered under this project.

Rising pollution level in this city is a major concern with the residents here. Besides, the thermal plant which emits huge quantities of smoke, particulate matter and ash into the atmosphere, emissions from an ever-growing number of vehicles as well as the widespread use of pesticides and chemicals by the farmers also add up to the problem.

After planting the saplings, volunteers also go around the town watering them at regular intervals, besides ensuring that the beds are clean and free of garbage and other toxic substances that may affect the growth of plants. In fact, the NGO has only recently bought a new tractor and a water tanker to ensure that the plants are watered regularly. Earlier, it was depending on Municipal Corporation tractor as and when it was available.

Appreciating the efforts of the NGO, the district SSP also issued orders that the NGO was free to use the police tractor and the water tanker parked at the police lines whenever it felt the need to do so.

However, support from the local residents is lacking; Mr Vijay Goel, who heads the NGO, Sahara Jan Seva, said “The public has not shown any interest in the drive, even though it would ultimately benefit them, he told TNS. “Often the saplings are trampled upon or the tree guards erected to protect the saplings are stolen or broken,” he added.

Volunteers feel that shopkeepers or businessmen having their establishments along major roads where the drive is carried out can contribute a lot to the effort. “Even if one shopkeeper takes care of one sapling, it would be of immense benefit,” a worker added.


Netaji’s ‘death’ certificate revives controversy
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 2
Dr Yoshimi Teneyoshi, who had reportedly treated Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in a hospital at Taihoku in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, after the air crash in which Netaji allegedly received serious burns, has now stated that he never knew Ochira Okura in whose name he had issued a death certificate, which was according to the Japanese Government pertaining the death of Netaji.

Disclosing this here today, Mr V.P. Saini, Chairman of the Netaji Research Foundation, said that this statement of Dr Yoshimi clearly proved that the whole story about the alleged death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the air crash had been based on concocted and distorted facts and versions.

Mr Saini also stated that besides this, Dr Yoshimi had also admitted before Mr Justice M.K. Mukherjee, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, appointed by the Union Government in March 1999 to inquire the alleged disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, that he did not know Netaji at all and that he had been told by a Japanese military officer that the person whom he had been treating was Netaji.

Mr Saini also stated that Dr Yoshimi had created confusion by issuing such a death certificate in the name of one “Chandra Bose” in 1988 certifying the “death” of Netaji after 43 years of the alleged air crash. Mr Saini also expressed astonishment over the statement of Dr Yoshimi by which he (Yoshimi) had now stated that he did not remember at whose instance he had issued the certificate in the name of “Chandra Bose”.

Mr Saini also stated that as per the Chairman of the Inquiry Commission, Mr Justice Mukherjee, the commission was pursuing the Japanese Government to make available to it the relevant documents, pertaining to Netaji’s disappearance.


Mahatma Gandhi, Shastri remembered
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, October 2
The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated at the District Congress Committee office here on Wednesday. Paying tributes to the Father of the Nation, Dr Kuldip Nanda, Mr Raman Khullar, Mr Rajnish Tandon, Ms Tarunjit Sethi and other local Congress leaders said the country could come out of the present crisis only by following the Gandhian ideology. A former Prime Minister, the late Lal Bahadur Shastri, was also remembered on the occasion.

Mr Bhola Ram, a 101 year-old freedom fighter, arranged a langar at the local Kotwali Bazar. The Lok Sewak Mandal also celebrated the birth anniversary of the Mahatma and Lal Bahadur Shastri at Lajpat Rai Senior Secondary School. Mr Tara Singh Hundal, Mr B.S. Khera and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MLA addressed a gathering.

BATALA: Liquor shops remained opened here on Wednesday even as the nation paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Earlier, October 2 used to be observed as dry day as a mark of respect to the Father of the Nation.

A meeting of the old Citizens Council, Batala, was held at Sati Lakshmi Devi Samadhi to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

FEROZEPORE: A district-level leprosy eradication and awareness programme was launched here on Wednesday to mark Gandhi Jayanti. The programme will continue till October 30. 

Dr G.S. Dhillon, district Leprosy Officer, said seminars would be organised at various places. Besides, free medical camps would be organised at all hospitals and primary health centres in the district on October 3, 7, 10, 14 and 17.


March against drug abuse
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 2
Stating that all possible help would be given to NGOs to eradicate the menace of abuse of narcotics, Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma today said stern action would be taken against chemists selling medicines and syrups abused by youths without prescription.

Mr Verma while leading a procession taken out by Sankalp, an NGO aimed at educating people against abuse of narcotics, said a meeting of office-bearers of the chemists’ association would be called soon and chemists would be told not to sell medicines that could be used as narcotics without prescription.

The procession started from the local fire brigade chowk and passed through various markets. The NGO Sankalp, formed by office-bearers of the Sahara Jan Seva, would launch a drive to expose the chemists that sold drugs without prescription.

The participants in the march carried placards with anti-drug slogans on them. The youths participated in large numbers in the march.

Punjab folk artiste Sarup Parinda said he would urge other artistes to be a part of the campaign as they could generate public opinion against the abuse of narcotics jointly.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Jan Seva, said a long-term programme had been chalked to generate awareness against use of narcotics. He said with the help of administration, it would not only educate the people against the use of drugs, but would also keep a vigil on those sold the same.


CBI probe sought into kidney scam
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 2
A CPI leader, Mr Satya Pal Dang, today sought a CBI inquiry into the alleged illegal trade of human organs which has been going on for more than a decade.

In a complaint faxed to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana the Chief Minister, Mr Dang said “an inquiry by the CBI is likely to reveal startling facts”.

Mr Dang expressed shock that the SSP had given a “clean chit” to doctors on the basis of a preliminary inquiry while the investigation into the kidney scam was still in progress.

Our Correspondent adds: All nine cases of kidney donors were kept in abeyance by the authorisation committee for organ transplant here on Wednesday.

The committee, headed by Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College, and having three other members, including the Civil Surgeon, Dr K.K. Sharma, kept all cases pending following its decision to cooperate with the police after the kidney transplant racket was exposed in the city with the arrest of 14 persons, including three agents and three donors.

The donors were told to submit their ration cards for verification following their claim to have been working as domestic help in the recipients’ houses for many years, said Dr O.P. Mahajan.

The verification has been necessitated in view of alleged victimisation of donors by agents, who promise them handsome financial returns in exchange for donating their kidneys.


Order to pay pension 10 yrs after death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Nearly 10 years after a Ludhiana district resident received news about her soldier son’s death, the Lok Adalat of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed Union of India, Chief of Army Staff and other authorities to pay ordinary family pension to her with effect from November 1992.

In her petition, Sukhdev Kaur of Patti Chandu had sought the quashing of an order rejecting her claim for special family pension. She had asserted that the military authorities were responsible for her son’s death due to suicide and pension was not paid to her. Going into the background of the case, she had submitted that her son sepoy Narinder Pal Singh had left his village after spending his holiday in November 1992. After about a fortnight, the family received information that the sepoy was no more. No reason was, however, given in the telegram. She was later informed that her son had died due to a bullet injury.

Rejecting her claim for pension, the authorities had asserted that Narinder Pal Singh’s death was neither attributable, nor aggravated by military service. It was added that ordinary family pension was not admissible as the sepoy had died a bachelor.

Seeking grant of pension, Chairman of All-India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association Bhim Sen Sehgal had contended on the petitioner’s behalf that the respondents’ plea attributing suicide to problems at home was totally false. He had added that the “deceased had harmonious relationship with his parents as well as other family members”. Moreover, he was happy when he left his home after spending about two months at his village.

It was added that the action of the respondents in rejecting the petitioner’s claim for pension, as well as her subsequent appeal, was totally illegal, null, void and unconstitutional.

Taking up her petition, Lok Adalat President A.L. Bahri and member Reva Gandhi observed: “Both the parties have agreed that the writ petition may be allowed with the direction to the respondents to pay ordinary family pension to petitioner Sukhdev Kaur with effect from November 18, 1992. It is so ordered. Let the orders be complied within three months”.

Record shown to PCS (E) counsel

In compliance with High Court directions, Punjab Public Service Commission officials today showed the answer sheets to counsel for PCS (Executive) candidates on the court premises. Though the candidates were not allowed to go through the record themselves, their counsel were allowed to look at the original answer sheets. A compilation having details of the marks of the candidates, besides their qualifications, were also shown to the candidates.

A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, had, on the last date of hearing, observed that the parties had agreed that the record would be made available to counsel for the petitioners on October 2.


Varsity entrance prone to mishaps
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, October 2
No traffic lights or round-about. No traffic constable, blinkers or even a speed-breaker. When you approach Punjabi University from Rajpura or Patiala no signboard warns you to reduce the speed of your vehicle. The absence of streetlights along the stretch makes sure that you do not see any person or stray animal crossing the road in the dark.

Despite the fact that the main entrance of the university, situated on the busy Rajpura-Patiala highway, witnesses at least two accidents daily and more than seven fatal accidents were reported to the nearby Bahadurgarh police post last year, the university authorities and district administration have failed to take any step to make the crossing safe, which is used by hundreds of university students and daily travellers everyday. The stretch has witnessed two accidental deaths in the past four days.

Buses and trucks going to and coming from Delhi and Chandigarh use this road and so do a large number of local buses plying in the city, besides the numerous tractor-trailers from the adjoining rural areas. Absence of a proper bus stand outside the university has compounded the problem. No step has so far been taken to clear the road of encroachments by vendors and rehriwallas.

Despite repeated requests from the students and nearby shopkeepers, no initiative has been taken to ensure safety at the busy crossing. Owners of shops near the gate said they see several accidents everyday. Alleging that the police records are not factual in regard to the number of accidents, as most are not reported, the shopkeepers stressed that the nearest trauma center is 6 km from the university and the campus dispensary is not well-equipped to handle serious accident cases.

Although the district administration has taken steps to widen the main road which falls in the Chief Minister’s constituency, no step has so far been taken to install trafficlights.

The university authorities admitted that it was a serious issue and that they had even thought of an alternative entrance to the university. However, owning to “practical” problems, no concrete step could be taken. The Dean (Students Welfare), Dr N.S Kapoor, said as the stretch came under the jurisdiction of the PWD, therefore the varsity authorities could not take any independent decision regarding the construction of a traffic-island on the road. He, however, said if given the requisite permission, the university was ready to take any measure to ensure a safe crossing.

Police personnel at the Bahadurgarh police post said besides strictly enforcing the speed limit, the police headquarters should authorise a traffic constable and the district administration should set up trafficlights to make the crossing safe.


Bhunder, kin seek pre-arrest bail
Our Correspondent

Mansa October 2
Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MLA and general secretary SAD and his brother Bhag Singh Yesterday applied for anticipatory bail in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Dharam Singh, in connection with cases registered against them in Sardulgarh police station under the Arms Act following the recovery of one carbine and one .30 Spring field rifle and some cartridge by the Vigilance Bureau.

Earlier the Vigilance Bureau had registered a case against Mr Bhunder under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. In the said case Mr Bhunder has been granted anticipatory bail by the Punjab & Haryana High Court.


Kids taught art of puppet making
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 2
Celebrations to mark the beginning of 70th year of Punjabi magazine Preetlari started here yesterday with an interaction of story-telling with students of Government High School, Preet Nagar, by Editor Ms Poonam Singh.

Stories based on conserving ecology and need for cooperative action to achieve this were followed by a painting session to mark the 50th birth anniversary of the late Sumeet Singh, former Editor of the magazine. Sumeet Singh was killed by militants in 1984.

The function was organised with the help of the Army. Children were taught the art of making and operating puppets by puppeteers from Chandigarh. More than 300 persons were invited to a special show in the evening by young puppeteers from ‘Ceva’, ‘Chandigarh Mafia and Mask Theatre Group’. Villagers from neighbouring areas of Lopoke, Vairoke, Chak Misri Khan joined the residents of Preetnagar in the festivities. Eclectica, New Delhi, sponsored the function.

Mr Rati Kant Singh, coordinator of the magazine announced year long monthly events to mark the onset of 70 years of the magazine. 


HelpAge clarifies

REACTING to a news report published in The Tribune on September 28 quoting Industry Minister Avtar Henry that HelpAge India should go to the slums and do the needful there rather than organising such functions in a hotel, HelpAge says it clarified there and then that the function was totally sponsored by the Radisson Hotel, Jalandhar, and that the reason for gathering the elite crowd was to make them a part of the HelpAge family by making them members on a payment of Rs 1,000/- annually.

The clarification further says HelpAge India has been working for the destitute elderly for the past two and a half decades. The support to this organisation is mainly from the corporate sectors and school funding. In this case “Join Hands Campaign” in Jalandhar was with total sponsorship from Radisson Windsor Hotel. About going to the slums, it says “We have five mobile medicare units in Punjab which are going to the slums and doing the needful by giving free medicines, which are again sponsored by CIPLA”.


Harinder Mehboob gets SGPC award
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 2
Prof Harinder Singh Mehboob, a scholar of Sikhism, was today awarded the first Giani Ditt Singh Puraskar instituted by the SGPC.

The award was presented to Professor Mehboob by the SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, at Sant Baba Dalip Singh Memorial Khalsa College, Domeli, 20 km from here, at a seminar on “Role of the Babbar Akali Movement in India’s Freedom Struggle.”

The award carried Rs 1 lakh, a silver plaque and a robe of honour.

Professor Mehboob called it an “award of big love.” He said the detractors of Sikhism had been imposing a superstructure on the Sikh philosophy and ethos. “Not only the British but our own people have attacked the Sikh philosophy,” he said, adding that the first attack was made by Christian missionary W. H. McLeod in his book “Guru Nanak and Religion.”

Dr Surjit Singh Narang, Professor of political science, Dr Joginder Singh, Professor of history, GNDU, and Bakhshish Singh Nijhar, a scholar on Babbar Lehar, were among other speakers at the seminar presided over by SGPC chief. Babbars’ families were also honoured.


Bajwa inaugurates link road
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 2
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister, today inaugurated the Kahnuwanchak Sharif link road today. He said link roads from Gurdaspur to Sri Hargobindpur, from Batala to Qadian via Kot Todar Mal and Batala to Kahnuwan would be widened to 33 feet. A sum of Rs 18 crore had been sanctioned in this regard and construction would be undertaken shortly.

Mr Bajwa condemned the Shiromani Akali Dal for ignoring the interest of the farmers. He said the Punjab Government spent Rs 1300 crore on the purchase of power to ensure power supply to the tubewells from 8 to 10 hours daily.

Mr Bajwa said the Punjab Government would give four to five marlas plots free of cost to the homeless in Punjab. The decision in this regard had been taken by the Cabinet.


Army top brass to visit forward areas today
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 2
Top officials of the Army are visiting forward areas of Ferozepore tomorrow to review the defence arrangements along the Indo-Pakistan border in view of the continuing stand of between the two neighbours. The Chief of Army Staff, Gen S. Padmanabhan, is also expected to visit the forward areas.

Sources in the Army said here today that keeping in view the expected visit by the Army chief, along with other senior official, the GOC, Golden Arrow Division, Ferozepore, Maj-Gen O.P. Nandrajog, who was on leave to meet his daughter in Mumbai, was called back this morning.

Soon after his arrival from Mumbai, General Nandrajog held a meeting of senior officials of the Army and para-military forces to review the security arrangements. The main areas of the cantonment have been closed since yesterday to civilians. Tight security arrangements have been made in and around Army helipads of Ferozepore and Mamdot.


Bank officer denied bail
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 2
The District and Sessions Court, Moga, yesterday dismissed the anticipatory bail application of a bank officer involved in illegally withdrawing money from an NRI’s account and then destroying all relevant records of his account.

According to details, the local police booked Kartar Singh Gujral, an officer of the State Bank of India, Moga branch, on April 8, 2001, under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120 (B) of the IPC on charges of withdrawing Rs 39,000 from the account of an NRI, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Samby.

Police sources said the money was withdrawn from Mr Samby’s account while he was abroad.


Are mixed pesticides useful?
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, October 2
Cotton growers of the region are in a dilemma over the use of mixed pesticides, with farm experts and pesticide manufacturers differing in opinion. Farmers use two or more pesticides as per their own experience.

Scientists of Punjab Agriculture University say that if two pesticides are mixed and sprayed, these can control pests, but will not only enter the fibre of cotton, thus contaminating it, but also be harmful to human beings.

However, pesticide manufacturers claim that the spray of mixed pesticides increases the production of cotton as these kill the pests completely. They claim that if only one pesticide is used, the pests develop resistance for it and after some years it fails to have the desired affect on the pest.

Due to a decline in the production of cotton during the past many years, the financial condition of cotton growers in the Malwa belt has deteriorated. Many small-scale industries, using cotton as raw material, have shut down.

The American bollworm has become a curse for the cotton growers, who spray mixed pesticides, against the recommendations of farm experts.

Fourteen pesticide manufacturing companies have formed the Pyrethroid Management Group (PMG), which claim that mixed pesticides not only control the pests, but also increase the production of cotton.

Officials of one of the companies claimed that they had met scientists of Punjab Agriculture University and the Punjab Agriculture Department and had apprised them about the usefulness of mixed pesticides.

The PMG has drawn up a plan to educate farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat about the proper use of pesticides. The group has selected five places in Punjab in the first phase. These are Daula (Muktsar), Udat Bhagta (Mansa), Maur Khurd, Nawan Pind and Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda). The group has employed Dr D.D. Narang, a former entomologist of Punjab Agriculture University, as adviser to create awareness among farmers.

Dr Joginder Singh, Head of the Anthropology Department of Punjab Agriculture University, said the pesticide manufacturing companies were misguiding farmers. He said mixed pesticides were very dangerous. He said mixed pesticides entered the fibre of cotton and remained there for a long time. He said such cotton could be dangerous for human beings.


“Technology can lessen farmers’ plight”
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 2
“Punjab has not just witnessed a rapid decline in its overall economy, even the agricultural sector of the state is in a sorry state” said Dr Satish C Jha, economist and former director of Asian Development Bank, while speaking at a seminar organised at Young Farmers Public School at Bhadason, near here.

Speaking at the seminar organised by Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust, Dr Jha stressed that 64 per cent of the country’s population was directly related to the agricultural sector and that in order to feed the rapidly increasing population, a minimum of 300 to 325 million metric tonnes of foodgrains would have to be produced in the next 20 years.

Exhorting the state government to invest heavily in the agricultural sector, Dr Jha said the state government must ascertain that latest technology was made available to the farmers so that they were able to produce more and better quality foodgrains.

The Director of State Agriculture Department, Dr Rampal, disclosed that high yielding varieties of seeds would be made available to the state’s farmers. He also said the state government was preparing a blue -print for diversification of crops and that the state government would shortly introduce ‘contract farming’ in which the farmers would be provided with high-yielding seeds of different vegetables.

Vice -Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, Dr A.S Aulakh,

said the farmers must strive to improve the overall quality of their crops and ensure that the seeds used by them were of superior quality.

Inaugurating the seminar , the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, stated that the employees of the State Agriculture Department should be imparted training in the latest developments and breakthroughs in the field of bio-technology.


Gang of human traffickers busted
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 2
The police has busted a gang of Bangladesh nationals for their alleged involvement in human trafficking from Bangladesh. The accused allegedly brought the innocent girls, men and women by giving them false allurements and sold them in India. All Bangladeshis entered India without valid travel documents.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, told newsmen here today that two Bangladeshi nationals identified as Kalam Sheikh and Kalu Dalal had been booked under Sections 372 and 367 of the IPC and 3/34/20 of the Indian Passport Act, and Section 14 of the Foreign Act in police station division Number 1, Pathankot. While Kalam Sheikh has been arrested, Kalu Dalal is at large. Kalu Dalal had earlier also brought many Bangla girls to India.

The SSP said that yesterday on the basis of specific information the SHO of police station division No. 2, Pathankot, raided the hideouts of Kalam Sheikh at Pathankot and arrested him. The police also take into custody two minor girls identified as Ajmera (15) and Sajda (14) and 21 more Bangla nationals who were without any valid Indian passport.

A sum of Rs 5,900 in Pakistani currency was seized from the possession of Kalam Sheikh. He was booked under Section 46 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act besides the Indian Passport Act.

During his preliminary interrogation, Kalam disclosed that he along with his associate Kalu Dalal had lured innocent persons from Bangladesh to India without any valid passport. The accused sold the innocent girls and women to Indians on prices varying from 5,000 to Rs 10,000 depending upon their physical appearance. The accused also got labour jobs for men brought from Bangladesh and gave them only food for subsistence. And if the Bangladeshis demanded their labour wages they were threatened to be handed over to the police on the plea that they had entered India without a valid passport.

The district police chief said the accused confessed his involvement in trading human beings and his statement was further corroborated by the statements of the innocent minor girls.


Burglars murder watchman
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
A watchman was murdered by certain persons who intended to break into a shop here. The body of watchman Nar Bahadur (21) from Nepal was found by members of his family from a pond on the premises of a truck workshop his morning.

According to police sources, several persons had broken into a shop selling sound systems near Guru Teg Bahadur Chowk on the Sau-Foot Road. When challenged by Nar Bahadur, patrolling the area, they attacked him and hit him on the head with iron rods. They dumped the body in the workshop and disappeared.

When the deceased did not reach home today morning, members of his family went out for him. They found his body in the workshop. A case under Sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered. This is second incident of this kind in two weeks. Earlier Surya Bahadur also a watchman had been killed in similar circumstances when thieves tried to break into a shop on the Ajeet Road. The police has started search of jhuggi colonies.

The shopkeepers of the area where the murder took place put up the shutters for some time. They said that two such incidents in a few days is a reflection on law and order situation. This has also generated fear among night watchmen in the city. They have little or no means to defend in case of an attack and their wages do not compensate them for the risks involved. In both the cases only one watchman was on duty with no back-up help in the event of an attack.


Three held in murder case
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, October 2
The police today claimed to have solved the murder case of Surinder Kumar, who was killed on September 28, with the arrest of Rajinder Singh, alias Teetu, his father Hansa Singh and mother Manjit Kaur. Mr Major Singh Dhillon, SSP, said in a press note here today that the three were arrested last night by the SHO, Gidderbaha, along with a car used in the crime.

Mr Dhillon said the possible cause of the murder could be Surinder’s bag which contained ornaments worth Rs 1.8 lakh. The suspects have been booked under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC.

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