Saturday, November 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Centre’s nod to Sikh jathas for Pak sought
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society has urged the Union Government to grant permission to Sikh pilgrims to visit shrines in Pakistan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has also urged the union Government to permit Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan.

Even the SGPC opposed the sending of jathas to Pakistan because of the deployment of the defence forces along the international border last year. Now that the Union Government has ordered the withdrawal of troops from the international border, the SGPC has not yet taken up the issue of revival of the agreed practice of sending jathas to Pakistan on four occasions as mentioned in the Nehru-Liyaqat Ali pact.

The SGPC is perhaps caught in its own turmoil connected with the annual election of the executive committee scheduled for November 12. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr H.S. Bhullar, President of the Bhai Mardana society, said that in a secular country like India where every religion is free to observe or celebrate its special occasions, the Sikhs should not be denied an opportunity to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of their religion.

“At present there are 172 historic gurdwaras in Pakistan. These include Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak; Panja Sahib, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Dera Sahib, and Kartarpur Sahib,” says Mr Bhullar, holding that at the time of Partition in 1947, there was the famous Nehru-Liyaqat Ali pact which provided for permission to Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan four times in a year. Besides, the agreement also provided for the Pakistan Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) to look after the maintenance and upkeep of historic Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

“But since the PSGPC failed to look after the historic Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Sikh diaspora and the Pakistan Waqf Board jointly undertook a massive project in 1999 for the renovation and repair of gurdwaras. Unfortunately, some officials of the newly formed PSGPC mismanaged gurdwara funds. Further, the PSGPC also concentrated only on a few main gurdwaras. As a result, the properties of some of the historic gurdwaras have been either heavily encroached upon or grabbed by locals in connivance with officials of the waqf board and others,” said Mr Bhullar.

“Last year when the Union Government had decided against sending jathas to Pakistan because of the escalation of tension on the international border, PSGPC and Waqf officials, besides locals, were virtually given a free hand to embezzle or misappropriate gurdwara funds as Sikhs from other parts of the world continue to visit these shrines to pay obeisance.

“Our society has sent letters to the President, the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and others concerned to permit Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan at least on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, which falls on November 19,” says Mr Bhullar.


World Bank mission to visit Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The fiscal reforms initiated in the Punjab Budget have opened a window to the World Bank. While some of the reform measures have been taken, others are proposed to be taken in the current year. The concept of the “rolling” medium term fiscal reforms programme in the Punjab Budget has “impressed” the World Bank.

Consequently, a Bank Mission team is visiting Punjab from November 11 to 15 for an appraisal of the projects proposed and assess the development needs.

This in itself is a major step forward, as Punjab is hopeful of getting money. The view given to the bank by Punjab is that reforms would pay a “political dividend” and money from the bank will help Punjab space out of the budgetary straitjacket.

The Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, yesterday told TNS that priority sectors had been identified and a fiscal appraisal submitted to the Bank. Effort was to remain on course to implement reforms to help the bank play an enabling role. “Reform pill will help development programmes to take off”.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, took a “tax review” on Tuesday. He is personally ensuring reforms are implemented to help Punjab tide over choppy financial waters.

One strategy that has been evolved by Punjab is to first talk about those projects that have already been appraised and cleared by the bank. Since this was nearly five years or six years ago, the bank, however, is likely to seek an update. Once that happens quick flow of money is expected in six months to eight months.

The projects that Punjab took to the World Bank in July last pertained to augmentation of thermal power generation, Shahpur Kandi Dam project, irrigation and drainage projects, road net-work and railway over bridges, integrated rural development, water resource management (drinking water supply and environmental sanitation in rural areas) and primary health care.

As per the fiscal appraisal presented to the World Bank last week, Punjab said unlike many other states neither it was unduly burdened by subsidies and off budget liabilities (borrowings) nor a basket case. It had inherent strength and resilience to overcome odds. The commitment towards resource mobilisation, expenditure and public sector reforms and legal/institutional frame work had also helped Punjab to get a World Bank Mission team after Divali.

Mr Lakhanpal said the World Bank could either assess Punjab development needs on its own or even hire an agency, say the National Institute for Public Finance and Policy, which had earlier too gone into the state’s fiscal position. That report was also to be updated. In fact, all out efforts were afoot to prepare the state for the World Bank Mission, which would include field visits, as well. The state would impress that bank took the plunge in the current financial year itself to set the process rolling.

The prioritised areas on which Punjab is to focus include, power, rural water supply and sanitation, urban infrastructure (water supply, sewerage, sewage treatment plants and solid waste disposal), roads and bridges, irrigation, primary health care and agri-infrastructure and diversification. “We hope to converge economic and political virtue and reinvent government space out of the budgetary straitjacket”, added Mr Lakhanpal.


Power tariff hike no answer: expert
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 1
While the state government has shown its sincerity towards the economic revival of the cash-starved PSEB by taking hard steps, including imposing tariff on farmers and increasing the per unit cost for industrial and domestic consumers, experts associate with the board for years seem to disagree with these decisions.

They feel that the financial position of the board can be revived without increasing power tariff and dis-continuing free power supply to the farming sector. They however, say that power theft should be curtailed with an iron hand.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh Mann, former administrative member of the PSEB, pointed out that by reducing the transmission and distribution losses, the board could be brought back in the black. He said the line length of rural feeders should be reduced significantly and an incentive scheme should be launched for the purpose, adding that Dr V.P. Chawla, adviser in the Human Resources Department of the board had proposed two years ago that 10 per cent of the profit generated by reducing the line length should be shared with employees. However, the scheme was not implemented.

Mr Mann said reducing the line length could reduce transmission losses and make 24-hour power supply to villages possible without additional costs. He said there was need to instal capacitors at load and distribution ends to increase the average load factors in the state.

As a long-time measure, energy-efficient bulbs and lamps should be installed on a profit-sharing basis with manufacturers, he said and added that the IT plan of the PSEB by the IBM consulting group in 1995-96 should be implemented immediately.

He said the power received and sold by each Chief Engineer, Superintending Engineer, Executive Engineer and others down the line should be metered and audited internally by the PSEB and externally by reputed independent energy auditors. This would help check power theft and identify the areas where the line losses were high.

Denying that the PSEB was over staffed, he said if the contract workforce of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and “efficient” state electricity boards was taken into account, the figures would speak for themselves. He said all deputation posts of Punjab cadre in Central Government and agencies like the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) needed to be filled to reduce the salary budget of the state. No company in the world had earned profits by cutting the salaries and incentives of its employees, he said.

All these measure had been suggested to the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in 1997 and had they been implemented, the PSEB would have earned a profit of Rs 500 crore annually, he added.


Pre-poll drama: Vedanti urged to intervene
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 1
The Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vendanti, may intervene to stop “drama” being enacted in connection with the election of the SGPC scheduled for November 12.

The Akal Takht secretariat has been receiving requests from members of Akali factions to direct the warring factions for refraining from restoring to undemocratic tactics, including horse-trading and keeping members in captivity.

In a hard-hitting letter, faxed to the Akal Takht secretariat, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, sought immediate intervention of Jathedar Vedanti for choosing a consensus candidate. He said the ongoing activities by certain leaders had already brought much denigration to Sikh institutions.

Expressing concern over the “silence” of religious leaders of the community, Mr Tarlochan Singh said history won’t forgive them (without naming Sikh high priests) if they failed to take appropriate action to resolve the matter. He said the infighting among various Akali factions had already caused irreparable damage to the Panth and it was time to intervene.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president, World Sikh Foundation, and Dr Balkar Singh, Director, Sikh Studies, met Jathedar Vedanti at his official residence and urged him to intervene to stop the “shameless” activities of various Akali factions. They took a serious note of the keeping of SGPC members in captivity allegedly by SAD.


SHSAD’s ‘bandi chhor’ drive from Nov 4
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 1
Taking a tough stand against the allegedly sustained vilification campaign against the SHSAD, the party will launch a ‘bandi chhor’ campaign on November 4 to “free the SGPC members held captive by the SAD in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.”

The campaign is the outcome of feeling among the rank and file of the party that the allegations levelled against them were unfounded and aimed at misleading the voters in the run up to the committee poll. Party chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra was to make this announcement but could not do so since he is indisposed.

Talking to TNS, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the party, said the propaganda had to be countered since the SAD was labelling all those as Congress men who did not obey the diktat of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. “It is a matter of shame that a politician of the stature of Mr Badal would resort to spreading half truths among the people to keep his flock together, “ he added.

“We do not know why Mr Badal is targeting Mr Tohra when the latter has already announced his intention of not contesting the committee poll and has not even contacted any SGPC member till date. In fact, we stand by our decision to support any candidate put up by the seven-member committee spearheading a movement for non -politicisation of the SGPC poll,” he reiterated.

Elaborating on the campaign, Mr Chandumajra said the party had drafted a PIL - praying for the release of the SGPC members allegedly detained at various places in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh - to be moved before the High Court. Besides this, the matter would be taken up with the Human Rights Commission. We would also approach the Union Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to intervene in the matter, he added.

Reacting to a query, Prof Chandumajra said “so far 24 captive members have contacted us to intervene and get them freed so that they could vote according to their conscience. Many wanted to be with their families on the eve of Divali and in many cases their family members were ailing,” he revealed.

Hitting out at the SAD, he said it was undemocratic to whisk away SGPC members to a neighbouring state just for the sake of maintaining a stranglehold over the religious affairs of the Sikhs. That they were getting restless could be gauged from the escape of several members from Gurdwara Nada Sahib and Balasar in the past few days, he pointed out.

Ridiculing the charge of Mr Badal that the Congress was trying to wrest control of the SGPC, he said since all members in the present House won on the SAD ticket and the Congress could not put up a candidate, how could the Congress win the elections ? Had the state machinery interfered, could SAD activists or the cops from a neighbouring state have managed to take away the members outside the state?, he questioned.

Commenting on the seven-member committee, he said six of the members owed allegiance to the SAD and had declared so on several occasions. What was Mr Badal afraid of? It was in the interest of the Panth that the initiative of the committee be appreciated and the SGPC members should vote to religious service free from politics, he added.


Khalsa Panchayat stir from Dec 1
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 1
The Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat has decided to launch the second phase of its peaceful agitation for the ouster of “tainted” Jathedars on December 1 after performing ardas at Akal Takht.

This was announced by Mr Rajinder Singh, Convener of the panchayat, while talking to the Press here today. He said during the next phase, the panchayat would stage protest dharnas in front of the offices and residences of the SGPC chief and other office-bearers to compel the Shiromani committee to remove Sikh high priests who were facing charges of corruption.

He said Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, should quit from their posts as the Sikh sangat would not allow them to denigrate the Takhts anymore.

He, however, said the panchayat may drop the idea of gheraoing Jathedars as they had been receiving communications from various Sikh bodies that such an act would be unprecedented. He said the struggle of the panchayat would continue till the appointment of the Sikh clergy through “sarbat khalsa”.

Mr Rajinder Singh lamented that the Akal Takht Jathedar had failed to form a full committee against the self-styled godman Ashutosh Maharaj. The committee, constituted by Akal Takht, had proved to be a non-starter, due to which Ashutosh Maharaj had returned to Punjab and started holding his functions.

Sounding a note of caution, Mr Rajinder Singh said if Jathedar Vedanti or the SGPC failed to stop the activities of the Divya Jyoti Sansthan, the panchayat would take the initiative in this regard.

Regarding the non-aligned members, he said their sincerity would be judged from the announcement of the candidate for the SGPC chief’s post.

He said if they chose Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, who allegedly had links with excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi or Bibi Jagir Kaur, then the move of the non-aligned members would come a cropper.


SGPC members make SGJC busy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 1
Even as the annual election of the SGPC President draws nearer employees of the SGPC are being pressurised by its members to leak out the record showing financial irregularities of their rivals.

On the basis of the “leaked information” a number of petitions are being field in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), which is humming with activities these days.

It is reliably learnt that an unsavoury situation occurred when a senior office-bearer of the SGPC started pressurising certain employees to get photo copies of the financial irregularities. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC secretary, described the trend as unfortunate. He said all SGPC members should support the cause of “non-aligned” SGPC members. He said such a movement could pave way for Panthic unity.


Akalis to court arrest on Nov 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today modified the November 15 morcha programme and announced a “one-day” mass arrest programme the same day at all district headquarters. Asked what if the government refused to arrest them, the SAD chief said: “'We are offering ourselves for arrest. The next course of action will be decided later on”. The Akali agitation is to demand the implementation of a 15-point charter of demands the SAD released on October 20, which, by and large, involves a hefty financial outgo and the government would find difficult to implement.

He, however, did not disclose where he would offer himself for arrest. He appealed to all pro-Punjab parties to join the Akali struggle against the present Congress regime that has let loose a reign of terror in the state. He said there was no possibility of revival of terrorism in Punjab. But he reiterated that the government continued to interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs by harassing SGPC members.


State to furnish Dara’s suspension orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
In a petition filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission member Dara Singh today challenged the orders of his suspension. Taking up his application, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked counsel for the state of Punjab to provide him with a copy of the order.

The petition was also dismissed as withdrawn with liberty to file a fresh one by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice R.L. Anand and Mr Justice S.S. Saron. In his petition, Dara Singh had earlier contended that the orders were liable to be set aside. Giving details, his counsel had asserted that the state, under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, had no jurisdiction to place him under suspension.

SGPC elections

Elections to the SGPC’s executive committee will be held in an absolutely fair manner, Punjab’s Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh told a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In a statement before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice Virender Singh, the AG said Punjab’s Chief Secretary as well as the Director-General of Police had been contacted and he had been assured of fair elections without pressure on any voter to cast his ballot in favour of a particular candidate.

After hearing the AG, the Judges observed: “In view of the statement made by Punjab AG, counsel for the petitioner says that the petition has become infructuous. Disposed of accordingly”. In their petition, Harbhinderbir Singh and 60 others had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab, the Chief Minister, Amritsar’s Deputy Commissioner and another respondent to ensure that the elections were conducted without the interference of any government agency for enabling the voters to cast their votes freely.

Order to appear

Taking up an application filed by from Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s officer-on-special-duty Hardeep Singh, Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday asked him to appear before the Investigating Officer on November 6 at 10 am.

In his application, Hardeep Singh had earlier submitted that he had been asked to join the investigation on October 22 at 10 am. The Investigating Officer too had been directed to be present. He reached the scheduled place on time but the officer was not there, counsel submitted. He further expressed apprehension that the agency may not make him join the investigation.


Dara took liquor daily: SGJC men
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 1
The Dara Singh case took a new turn today when the chowkidar and the peon of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) revealed that he was in the habit of taking liquor everyday.

In a written statement addressed to the Chairman of the commission, chowkidar Angrez Singh and peon Faqir Mohammad apologised for not bringing the matter to his notice earlier. They alleged that Mr Dara Singh had directed them to bring liquor on October 29.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Dara Singh, who was picked up by the police on October 29, had claimed that he had not taken liquor for the past three decades.


Punjab shuffles 21 IAS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
In yet another administrative reshuffle in Punjab today, 21 IAS officers have got new postings.

Mr P. Ram, who was Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchyats, goes as Secretary, Department of Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, while the Director, Mr C.S. Talwar, has already been transferred and replaced by Mr S.R. Ladhar. Mr J R Kundal replaces Mr P. Ram.

Mr S K Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, has given up charge as Secretary, Information and Public Relations, which has been given to Mr D.S. Jaspal, who will, however, continue to be Secretary, Animal Husbandry. The Director Public Relations, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, goes as Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, in place of Mr Alok Shekhar, who is new Additional Secretary-cum-Director-General (Schools).

Mr G. Vajralingam is new Director, Information and Public Relations, and in his place Mr D.P. Reddy has been appointed Director, Food and Supplies, as also ex-offico Secretary.

Other important changes are as follows:

Mr Rajan Kashyap is now Principal Secretary, Irrigation, replacing Mr Rajesh Chhabra, who goes as Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Research. Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj becomes Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, while her husband, Mr B.R. Bajaj, is now Principal Secretary, Information Systems and Administrative Reforms in addition to his present charge as Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies.

Mr R.P. S. Pawar is now Principal Secretary, Forests, Wild Life and Defence Services. His earlier charge is now with Mr Bajaj.

Mrs Romila Dubey is Principal Secretary, Department of Cultural affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museums.

Mrs S.K. Sandhu is Labour Commissioner and Director, Employment, vice Mr Sanjay Kumar, who is now Chief Administrator, PUDA and in addition Chief Administrator, Anandpur Sahib Urban Development Authority, in place of Mr Reddy.

Mr Darbara Singh Guru goes as Managing Director, Health Systems Corporation but retains his charge of Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. He will also be Secretary, Health and Family Welfare.

Mr Karan Bir Singh Sidhu becomes Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training in place of Mrs Romila Dubey. He will also be Commissioner, Appeals, Jalandhar, relieving Mr Arun Goel of the charge. Mr Goel remains Secretary, Sports and youth Services and also Commissioner, Appeals, Patiala.

Mr Husun Lal is Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Patiala, and in addition Secretary, Examinations, PPSC, Patiala.


SHSAD ultimatum to Badal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 1
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), will launch a statewide stir after November 4 if Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former state Chief Minister and president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), failed to “release’ all SGPC members from his farmhouse at Balasar in Haryana by then.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary, SHSAD, and former MP told mediapersons here today that foreseeing SAD defeat in the forthcoming SGPC elections, Mr Badal had made around 80 members “captive” in his farmhouse with the connivance of the Haryana Government.

He asked Mr Badal to accept the proposal of the seven-member SGPC core committee to find a consensus member for the post of SGPC president.


Kidney scam: minister pulls up police
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 1
Punjab Minister for Medical Education and Research Ramesh Chander Dogra today came down heavily on the alleged biased approach adopted by the Amritsar police in its crusade against the kidney racket by allegedly confining kidney donors and harassing the members of Kidney Transplant Authorisation Committee.

Talking to mediapersons here , he said the district police would be issued directives to stop its lopsided and prejudicial action by lifting only the poor donors.

“While donors cry for the post kidney donation treatment, and instead of helping them the police take them to task”, he added.

“I would certainly talk to the DGP M.S. Bhullar to issue directions to the police not to harass doctors, chairman of the Kidney Transplant Authorisation Committee and its members”, he said.

“I am deeply shocked to learn that dozens of patients who are lying on deathbed and spending a lot of money in the various hospitals, but the absence of kidney donors is hanging their life in balance”, the minister said, adding, “Fearing the police action, transplant surgeons have also gone underground”.

Mr Dogra also issued directions to the chairman of the committee to speed up their work of clearing files of the patients awaiting kidney transplant so that maximum lives could be saved.

Admitting the existence of middleman in the organ scam he said in the kidney scam it was only middlemen who were benefited, while the donor of the kidney could not get any profit. When asked about the worst condition of the government run hospitals, including the TB Hospital in Amritsar and dispensaries in border areas, the minister could not give the satisfactory answer. He said the government-run hospitals lacked about 900 doctors.

Earlier, Mr Dogra inaugurated the Bhai Mohkam Singh Memorial Hospital at Sactari Bagh here. Speaking on the occasion, he said the government had allotted Rs 43 crore for the development of the three government medical hospitals, including Mental College, the Civil Hospital and Medical College.


Labour EPF scam: stir threat engineers
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 1
Fearing action against their colleagues, in the contract labour scam in Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board have closed ranks. In a press note issued here yesterday, the regional secretary of the PSEB Engineers Association said that the move of police action against engineers of the plant was illegal. The association has threatened stir if police action was taken against the engineers.

The PSEB Engineers Association apparently reached to the move of the police here to probe the role of GGSSTP officials in the EPF scam. The ADGP Vigilance PSEB, Mr Lalit Bhatia, had written to the DGP, Punjab, to direct the police here for an action in the scam.

The PSEB Engineers Association has also condemned the PSEB for filing an FIR against the Sodhi Errectors labour contractor . Filing of the FIR against the contractor by the PSEB would shift the liability of the EPF scam on to the PSEB.

The association in the press note has, however, said it does not hold a brief for any engineer found guilty.


Show-cause notice to cinema owner

Kapurthala, November 1
District Magistrate R.K. Verma has issued a show-cause notice under section 7(2) of the Punjab Cinema (Regulation) Act, 1952, to the local Jagatjit cinema as to why its licence should not be suspended or cancelled after a number of deficiencies were noticed in a surprise inspection.

Assistant Commissioner (Gr), R.P. Singh, who was deputed by the DM for carrying out the surprise inspection, reported that no rate list was displayed nor any place was earmarked for displaying the rates. The ticket holders revealed that they were being charged Rs 20 and Rs 15, whereas the cinema owner maintained that the rates had been fixed at Rs 7.90, Rs 6.55 and Rs 3.90 for balcony, first and second class respectively.

The inspecting officer also found that there was no canteen being run on the premises and instead a canteen outside the gate on the main road was being used. Similarly, the urinals and lavatories were found unclean. There was no attendant in the operator room. The seats in the hall were also in a very bad condition. . The cinema owner has been asked to give a reply to the notice by November 7, failing which further action will be taken against him. UNI


He chose to serve Army, excelled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
While doing his graduation from Medical College, Patiala, in 1958 to1962, young Harcharan Singh had a feeling that he was cut out for bigger role in life.

The skirmish on India’s border with China on October 21, 1959, during which Mr Karam Singh, Harcharan’s father, led the Indian Police patrol, had upset the family of the doctor as well as the nation.

Seeing October 21 declared as National Police Day and another massive aggression by China in 1962, his father wished that as soon as Harcharan completed his graduation in medicine he should serve the nation instead of going for the easier choice — civil medical service. Thus his father’s wish cast the die in respect of young Harcharan’s career as doctor in the Army.

He was commissioned in the Army Medical Corps (AMC) after he passed out from medical college in 1963. Thereafter he saw action in the 1965 war with Pakistan as the medical officer of 4 Sikh Regiment at Burki. He continued upgrading his medical skills and emerged as a surgeon.

He was actively associated with troops during the 1971 war and was in the most sensitive area of the Samba sector.

Popular among his colleagues and associates, he headed several Army Hospitals, including the Command Hospital at Udhampur. His association with the troops on the front inspired him to work with more enthusiasm. He also headed the Artificial Limb centre of the Army and tried to make use of innovations for the benefit of disabled soldiers.

Subsequently he was made the Director-General, Armed Medical Service. Lieut-General Harcharan Singh has a sense of satisfaction on being awarded the PVSM by the President of India, the Investiture Ceremony for which will be held tomorrow. He feels his service to the soldiers has been recognised.


Demand to scrap caste-based quota
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 1
Activists of the General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, today marched in protest against the caste-based reservation system in the country.

The march started from the local ITI chowk in the form of a caravan of scooters, motorcycles and cars. After passing through the main bazars of the city, the activists assembled at the district courts complex. They were carrying placards, banners and raised slogans against the caste-based quota system.

Mr Tara Singh Brar, press secretary of the federation, said the reservation system, which was originally meant for 10 years, had been continuing for the past five decades. He alleged that no political party ended this “anti-national and biased” reservation system owing to their vested interests.

The activists alleged that all major political parties had been extending the caste-based quota to cash in on the vote bank of the beneficiary castes. They questioned the logic behind extending the reservation to the government employees.

The activists maintained that with the decreasing number of government jobs, unemployed youths of the general category were denied jobs, which could lead to frustration among them.


‘More addicts’ in nuclear families
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 1
As many as 80 per cent of drug addicts between the age group of 15-24 years belong to nuclear families and out of those majority are those whose both parents are working.

It was revealed by a survey conducted by the Red Cross Drug Deaddiction-cum-Rehabilitation Centre located here.

According to Dr J.P. Jalota, Project Director, individualisation have broken up the joint family system, paving way for the youth to fall prey to drug addiction.

Dr Jalota said 82 per cent of juvenile convicts belonged to nuclear families. Drug abuse started in adolescence.

In this age the youth needed guidance, counselling, education and care by parents and relatives, he said.


Sale, display of crackers banned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 1
District Magistrate, Anurag Verma has banned the manufacture, display and sale of fire crackers in the district till November 30 starting today.

The District Magistrate in his orders issued under Section 144, Cr PC, said the storage and display of fire crackers in lanes and bylanes of the city could cause serious damage.

The orders further said all traders selling fire crackers must ensure ready availability of fire fighting equipment. The wholesellers would be allowed to keep samples at their business premises while large quantities would be kept at godowns with proper precautions.

The orders further said nobody would be allowed to burst fire crackers before 6 p.m. and after 10 p.m. The bursting of fire crackers within 100 m of hospitals, educational institutes, courts, religious places and petrol stations has also been banned.


Unauthorised crackers’ sale
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 1
Unauthorised storage and sale of crackers has been on for the past two months in the district. The wholesalers have already sold the most of their stock to the retailers in the thickly populated areas. An order banning the sale or storage of crackers without permission was issued on October 28.


Move to oust MC chief
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 1
Sixteen municipal councillors besides Rana Gurjit Singh, local MLA, have submitted a requisition to convene a meeting of the local municipal council to move a no confidence motion against Mr Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, president of the council.

Mr Ashok Aggarwal took over the office of the president of the council following the decision of the Supreme Court in his favour which set aside the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court against his election as president of the council in a writ petition filed by Mr Sudesh Kumar Aggarwal, who had lost to Mr Ashok Aggarwal in the election of president of the council.


Baba Mann Singh’s gesture to drought-hit
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 1
Baba Mann Singh, Pehowawale, who has his dera at Phul Khurd village, near here, will send 80 truck-loads of food items to drought-hit Rajasthan on November 5 from different places of Punjab. These trucks will reach Pehowa in Haryana, from where these will leave for Baran district in Rajasthan.


Firm told to pay relief
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 1
The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Gurdaspur, has directed Anand Airoon Private Ltd, Parwanoo, and a local dealer to rectify a defect in the freezer of Mr Raghunath Sharma and pay him Rs 4000 as compensation.

According to orders passed by Mr G.S. Sandhu, president of the forum, the complainant had purchased a freezer from a local dealer with one-year guarantee. However, it failed to chill.


Booking computerised

Jalandhar, November 1
Northern Railway has computerised the Railway Reservation Centre at Muktsar, an official note said here yesterday.

Passengers can get seats reserved for all stations in the country from the centre, which is the 28th computerised centre in the series in Ferozepore division of Northern Railway, the note added.

The centre was inaugurated yesterday by Mr Buta Singh, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), the note said. PTI


Ex-player motivated to quit drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 1
Ramesh Kumar (name changed) who once played Kabaddi and had earned a name in the sport had become a drug addict. He had been pulling a rickshaw to earn his daily bread lately. He has been motivated by volunteers of the United Welfare Society to quit drugs.

Mr Vijay Bhatt, president of the society, said here on Wednesday that the society had organised a drug awareness programme here on Tuesday night in which the addict was present and sought help for de-addiction.


2 held in fake currency case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 1
The Sujanpur police has booked five persons and arrested two on charge of circulating fake currency notes to public against genuine ones.

District police chief Varinder Kumar yesterday said Ravi and Sukhdev, residents of Banwal village had been arrested while Davinder Kaumar of Gurdaspur, Raghubir Singh, Bloha of Kotli Khas village Fateh Pashnah of Jammu and Prem Kumar of Sujanpur had absconded.

Mr Kumar said that those taken in by their promises of supply of fake currency three times of the genuine one were supplied packets of plain papers put in between genuine currency notes.


SHO arrested

Sangrur, November 1
Vigilance sleuths yesterday apprehended a Station House Officer of Ahmedgarh for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 60,000, a senior police official said.

District police chief A.S. Rai said Gurbinder Singh had been arrested on a graft charge but declined to give any further details. PTI


Computer education blanked out
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 1
Curtain has rung on the computer education in the state-run schools in Punjab. The government and NIIT, a computer company, have annulled the agreement under which they were to create infrastructure and impart the computer education to students.

Official sources said the Education Department had issued instructions to the district education officers (secondary) to return the equipment to NIIT after settling their accounts.

The sources added that for the time being, the Education Department had not made any policy to secure the future of those students, who had joined the course in September 2000 and were in the middle of the course.

After getting not so encouraging response from district-level education authorities in certain pockets of state, the department issued instructions to the field staff that disciplinary action would be taken if aspirants of computer course were stopped from joining the same.

In September 2002, the Punjab Government had entered into a three-year agreement with NIIT for setting up computer education hub-schools, which in turn were to cater six to 10 other schools in the vicinity.

In first year about 130 schools joined the programme and over 2000 students started attending classes after depositing the required fee. The idea behind the computer education in schools was to familiarise the students with computers before they moved on to the college level.

A week ago, the Education Department convened a meeting of all district education officers and told them about a new scheme of computer education for schools.

However, the department has not disclosed the reason for annulling the agreement with NIIT. No certificate for the course has been issued by NIIT.

Meanwhile, a section of teachers and representatives of different teachers unions have demanded a high-level probe into it. They have sought a compensation for Rs 960 fee paid by them for a year.


2,200 seats vacant in engg colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association has urged the state government not to issue a no objection certificate for opening a new engineering college in private sector.

A spokesman for the association said here today that in existing engineering colleges about 2,200 seats had remained unfilled for the current academic year. Because of this reason, unaided colleges had become unviable and the managements of such institutions were facing a lot of problems to meet operational costs and to pay salaries to the teaching staff.

He said last year only there were 4,400 seats for engineering degree courses in Punjab. However, because of the liberal policy followed by the state government, the number of seats for the current academic year were increased to 7,300. Because of this reason, a large number of seats have remained unfilled, especially in unaided colleges.

The association said the government should not enhance seats further in the state as it would affect the financial health of unaided institutions leading to their collapse.


PU zonal youth fest concludes
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 1
The Panjab University zonal youth festival concluded here at Dev Samaj College of Education. Students from various colleges presented a musical extravaganza.

Mr Praveen Sinha, SSP, presided over the first day while Mr G.S. Bal, ADC, presided over the valedictory day function and gave away the prizes.

The results are as follows:

Shabad and bhajan: Navritu (GHGH College, Sidhwan Khurd) 1, Sumandeep (DAV, Abohar) 2 and Pooja Saini (Dev Samaj, Ferozepore) 3.

Ghazal: Pooja Saini (Dev Samaj, Ferozepore) 1, Navritu (GHGH College, Sidhwan Khurd) 2 and Jatinder and (DM College, Moga) 3.

Indian classical music: Prabhjot (GHG Khalsa, Gurusar Sadhar)1, Rajwinder Kaur (SDS College, Lopon)2.

Geet: Manoj Kumar (DM College, Moga) 1, Zorabal Singh (GHG Khalsa, Gurusar Sadhar) 2 and Rupinder Kaur (Dev Samaj, Ferozepore) 3.

Group song: Sumandeep (DAV, Abohar) 1, Harpreet (Khalsa College, Muktsar) 2 and Pooja Saini (Dev Samaj, Ferozepore) 3.

Still life: Tarunpreet (GHG Khalsa, Gurusar Sadhar) 1, Nand Lal (DM College, Moga) 2 and Sukhwinder (GHGH College, Sidhwan Khurd) 3.

Landscape: Manjeet (GHG Khalsa, Gurusar Sadhar) 1, Navjot (DM College, Moga) 2 and Kanwaljeet Kaur (SDS College, Lopon) 3.

Bhangra: GHG Khalsa 1, DAV, Abohar 2 and DM College, Moga 3.

Drama: Dev Samaj College 1, SDS College, Lopon 2 and DM College, Moga 3.

Histrionics: Sapna (SDS College, Lopon) 1, Pooja Narula (DM College, Moga) 2 and Rupinder Kaur (GHGH Khalsa College) 3.

Quiz: DAV College, Abohar 1, GHG Khalsa College 2 and Dev Samaj College 3.

Collage making: Meenakshi (Dev Samaj, Ferozepore) 1, Kamalpreet (SDS College, Lopon) 2 adn Geetu (DAV, Abohar) 3.

Rangoli: Behu (Dev Samaj) 1, Jyoti (DAV, Abohar) 2 and Ramnadeep (GHG Khalsa, Gurusar Sadhar) 3.

Clay modelling: Jasveer Kaur (GHG Khalsa) 1, Shobra Goyal (DM, Moga) 2 and Tarunpreet (GHG Khalsa) 3.

Poster making: Harpreet Kaur (GHGH, Sidhwan Khurd) 1, Manpreet (Dev Samaj) 2 and Rimple (GHG Khalsa) 3.

Var singing: GHG Khalsa (Gurusar Sadhar) 1, GHGH College (Sidhwan Khurd) 2.

Orchestra: SDS College, Lopon.


PCCTU rally in Patiala on Nov 8
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 1
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will stage a massive rally in Capt Amarinder Singh’s Assembly constituency, Patiala, on November 8 in protest against the government’s indifferent attitude towards demands of around 5,000 private college teachers.

This was stated by Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary of the union.

The PCCTU had planned a protest march and rally in Patiala on October, 10. But two days before the proposed rally Mr Khushal Behl, Punjab Higher Education and Languages Minister, assured office-bearers of the union that he would take up its demands with the Chief Minister. Following this the PCCTU had decided to defer the rally.

Dr Tewari said the government did not even bother to listen PCCTU grievances what to talk of finding any solution of their problems. He said private college teachers would take mass casual leave to participate in the rally. An urgent meeting of the PCCTU executive committee had been convened for November, 17 at GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana, in connection with the intensification of the course of struggle in form of an indefinite strike in private colleges and jail bharo andolan.


No salaries for months
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 1
More than 2000 teachers who were being paid monthly salaries under “operation black board” have not been paid their salaries for the past seven months. In a press note here yesterday, Mr Amarjit Shastri, district president of the Democratic Teachers Front, said these teachers were regular employees in government schools and had to be paid salaries for this scheme which was Centrally sponsored.

He said when teachers approached the office of the District Education Officer in this regard, they were told that “operation black board” was for a duration of five years and had lapsed now.

The teachers have demanded alternative arrangements for the payment of salaries. Their deputation has also met the Education Minister, Punjab in this regard.


Schools without buildings
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 1
Government Primary School located in the heart of the city on the Jail road on the premises of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha has been functioning without any building.

Official sources confirmed that there were 19 more such schools in the district the buildings of which did not seem to be on the agenda of the Congress government.

Although the Chief Minister has instituted an inquiry into postings made in the Education Department recently despite a ban by the government, there are about 1,000 posts of primary teacher which are still vacant in schools.

The sources said most of the schools located across the Ravi on the Indo-Pak border in this district did not have boundary walls. As a result, stray cattle roamed around the school premises.

Most of the buildings of the primary schools which number 1,545 leak during rain and the authorities have to resort to compulsory closure of the schools.


Students allege police harassment
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, November 1
Mr Rajwinder Singh, an activist of the committee formed by the students to resist the alleged manhandling and harassment by the mini bus operators, in a written statement issued here today alleged that the police authorities had gheraoed some mini-buses a few days ago.

He alleged that two relatives of their senior leaders had been detained by the police without the registration of case. He said they had expressed their protest in a democratic way and the bus operators were levelling false allegations against them.

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