Monday, March 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Talks with farmers fail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The second round of talks between agitating farmers and the Punjab Government broke down today as the farmers refused to withdraw agitation until their demands were on paper.

Informed sources said a team of the Punjab Government, led by Mr Lal Singh, Finance and Cooperation Minister accompanied by Mr Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, held a meeting with the representatives of farmers in the Punjab Bhavan. The government team tried to convince the farmers that since the Budget session was on, the government was unable to make any announcement regarding their demands outside the House. Mr Lal Singh told the farmers that they should wait till the Budget was presented in the House. However, farmer leaders threatened to intensify the stir from tomorrow.

Among the farmer leaders who attended the meeting were Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, Mr Ruldu Singh, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, Mr Ragbir Singh Benipal, Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian, Mr Gurdarshan Singh Khatra and Mr Prem Singh Bhangu.

Sources said the representatives of the farmers questioned Mr Lal Singh as to why his party had made the “ false promise” of continuing free power and water to the agricultural sector before the Assembly elections.

Mr Lal Singh said since the financial position of the state was very poor, it was unable to keep its promise of free power.

Mr Lal Singh told the farmers that if the facility of free power was restored, funding agencies like the World Bank would stop the process of advancing loans to the state for development projects to which the farmer leaders expressed shock and asked if the state affairs were being run by the World Bank and not by the elected representatives of the people.

Farmer leaders told Mr Lal Singh that even the state government had failed to ask sugar mills not to impose a cut of Rs 30 per quintal on the sugarcane. It was the minimum that the farmers were expecting from the government, they added.


Dhindsa for Bill on banning conversions
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 16
Terming reports of a spurt in “conversions” as a matter of grave concern for the peace of the state, the Union Minister and general secretary of the SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today advocated that the state government should bring a Bill to impose a complete ban on “conversions” in the current session of the Punjab Assembly.

Talking to this correspondent at Circuit House here today, Mr Dhindsa said recent media reports suggesting “conversions” of dalit Sikhs to Christians had indicated a dangerous trend, which might disturb the hard earned peace and harmony in the state.

“You see, being a border state, Punjab can easily be engulfed into communal crisis, in case the present trend is not be checked at the highest level. Though the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and the SGPC have started independent inquiries into the matter, we believe “conversions” as a major national issue, which is seriously haunting the peace in various parts of the country,” Mr Dhindsa said, adding that there was a need to evolve a national consensus on the issue by initiating a dialogue between representatives of various religions and faiths.

He advocated that the state government should bring a Bill to ban “conversions” in the current Assembly session to avoid any confrontation between different communities on this controversial issue.

This is to mention here that Catholic priests of Punjab have already advised the Christian community against playing into the hands of divisive forces with mischievous designs and they feel that such reports are aimed at destroying cordial relations between the Christians and other peace-loving communities.

Criticising the Punjab Government for imposing sales tax on fertlisers and pesticides ranging between 4 per cent and 8 per cent, Mr Dhindsa demanded that the Congress Government should withdraw such taxes from agriculture inputs to provide much needed relief to the farming community.

When asked why the NDA team was delaying its much-publicised proposed visit to the state to collect first hand information about the alleged atrocities on the Akali-BJP workers unleashed by the Congress regime, the Union Minister said the visit was postponed at his party’s request since the Akali Dal was busy in collecting concrete material and documentary evidence in this regard.

“The NDA leaders are keen to visit the state to expose the misdeeds of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government. Besides, we are in the process of collecting evidences against corrupt Congress ministers”, he claimed.


Row over commercial plot’s allotment 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 16
The allotment of a prime commercial plot to a publisher for a song in the Rs 119 crore “galliara yojna” scheme for the beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple has kicked up controversy.

Residents of the area said the allotted site, a few yards away from the Golden Temple, could be a blot on the beautiful surroundings of the Darbar Sahib.

The Superintending Engineer, Golden Temple Beautification (GTB) Project, Mr Balram Chaudhary, has claimed that the price was fixed by the Price Fixation Committee.

On the other hand, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, who is also chairman of the committee, has summoned a file to review the allotment.

The allotment letter issued by SE (GTB) addressed to the proprietors of Gurmukh Press reads: “In reference to your application for the allotment of a commercial plot near the main entrance of Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) and main exit point of the galliara scheme (beautification plan of the Golden Temple) in lieu of your property... as per approval of Deputy Commissioner-cum-Project Director, GTB project, it has been decided to allot you a plot of land near the cycle stand at the rate of Rs 8,000 per square yard.

However, the shoemakers who are being displaced due to the GTB project have offered the double of the price of the allotment of the plot.

In a representation to the Chief Minister, and Minister, Local Bodies, the shoemakers have sought a vigilance probe into the matter.

However, Mr Chaudhary claimed that the shoemakers had been encroaching upon the land even before the partition of the country were being accommodated on “humanitarian grounds”.

He, however, said the shoemakers had no right to demand the prime land which was already allotted to Gurmukh Press in lieu of their property.

Interestingly, the plot was allotted to the publisher by the high-powered committee headed by the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.S. Puri. Mr Sidhu said he would look into the matter.


Narco-terrorism, drug menace cast shadow on Punjab
P. P S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
As a transit state, Punjab is under the dark shadow of narco-terrorism and drug menace. Alarmed by this twin threat, the state has approached the Centre for help through MPs. Intervention of the Home Ministry is being sought to enable Punjab develop appropriate mechanism and infrastructure to deal with these problems.

The Chief Minister's Office is examining a preliminary report on this issue. The drug abuse pattern reveals that if narcotics are more abused in Malwa and Majha, it is tranquilisers in Doaba. Multiple drug abuse is more common in all three regions wit rural areas and urban slums high on drug abuse, smuggling and trade.

Preliminary findings show that 40 per cent Punjabi youth in the age group of 15 years to 25 years has fallen prey to drugs and 48 per cent farmers and labourers are addicts. There is at least one addict in 65 per cent of the families in Majha and Doaba. The derivatives of opium (70 per cent) as well as tranquilisers, pain-killers (35 per cent) etc. are in great demand. Their usage depends upon the geographical area, type of drug, age and occupation of addict.

The following table gives in percentage, a broad indication. Because of multiple use of drugs, some percentages are more than 100:

As a border state, Punjab has proximity to the 'golden crescent' — Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan — major producers of opium. As a transit point for drug-trafficking, Punjab districts have slowly but surely become a victim to drug abuse, which impinges as much on national security as it weakens the morale, physique and character of Punjabi youth.

The range of narcotics and drugs includes raw opium, ''bhuki'', smack, heroin and synthetic drugs—morphine, pethidine, dextropropoxyphene (proxyvon); cough syrups laced with codeine (phensidyl, corex) and tranquilisers like diazepam or calmpose. The drug abuse, says the report is also linked to HIV/AIDS infection in intravenous drug abusers and sex workers.

Punjab has little mechanism to deal with de-addiction and proposes to involve NGOs, social, religious and educational activists and institutions, health department and, of course, the police. ''We are for an integrated approach to this twin problem'', says Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister S.K. Sinha.

As he is also the Administrative Secretary, Home, the proposals on dealing with narco-terrorism/drug menace are to be taken up with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs through MPs for an in-depth survey, its financing and setting up centres equipped to deal with addicts at the physiological, psychological medical and counselling levels.

The state has also identified that the main source of supply of these "killer'' drugs are drug-peddlers (57 per cent), who tap farmers, labourers and truck drivers; quacks and chemists (56 per cent), who look for youth. On the socio-psychological level, it has been observed that peer group influence, distressing home environment, myths related to sex potency, physical and mental alertness, thrill seeking curiosity, unemployment are some common factors leading to drug abuse.

Some skeleton services are available in medical colleges and institutions to deal with addicts but more are required to be introduced. One worrisome factor in de-addiction efforts is a high rate of relapse. The dropout rate is estimated to be more than 50 per cent after six months of treatment and between 85 per cent and 90 per cent after one year. This calls for pepping up follow-up action.


Poppy husk sellers smuggle narcotics to Punjab
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 16
Employees of poppy husk shops in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan have started smuggling narcotics.

Faced with a drastic fall in the sales at their shops, some employees have been trying to divert their consignments to Punjab as the demand of poppy husk in this state has been rising day by day with the wheat harvesting season approaching near. To cash in on the situation, some employees have started delivering poppy husk at the doorsteps of consumers in various villages of the district.

The fact came to light when the district police authorities smashed a gang of employees of a poppy husk shop located in Rajasthan. The gang was involved in the smuggling of poppy husk in Punjab for the past many months. Members of the gang would come to various villagers of the district on their vehicles to book orders from the consumers and supply the consignment at their doorsteps during their second visit.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the police arrested four members of one such gang yesterday while they were trying to smuggle poppy husk into this district from Rajasthan through some insignificant routes. He added that it was found during interrogation that one of the smugglers namely Mohinder Singh was a contractor of poppy husk while the three others, Pawan Kumar, Lakhbir Singh and Balwinder Singh, were employees at this shop.

The SSP said the accused, who were arrested near the Lohgarh bridge over the Katchi Gang canal in the Lambi police station area, also revealed that they had been supplying poppy husk in villages like Fathepur Mallan and Tarmala. They had no documents of the jeep seized from them.

Sources told TNS that over the past few years, addicts of Bathinda, Muktsar, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga and some other pockets of Punjab had been frequenting the poppy husk shops located in Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan to buy their fix. These shops had also developed into a major source for large-scale smuggling of poppy husk into Punjab as peddlers and addicts continued to smuggle it in small quantities. The smugglers had also been using small vehicles to transport narcotics from one place to the order.

When the police authorities of different districts of Punjab, where the smuggling was rampant, started a campaign to check this menace, the smugglers started hiring women for transporting the narcotic consignments from Rajasthan to various places in Punjab. However, over the past four to five years, the police authorities managed to thwart the new modus operandi of the smugglers by arresting hundreds of women in these districts who were involved in smuggling narcotics.


PM urged to intervene in Bhullar case
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 16
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) unit of Punjab has appealed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to personally intervene in the conversion of death sentence to life imprisonment of Prof Devinder Singh Bhullar who was allegedly involved in the murderous attack on Mr Manjinder Singh Bitta, President, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front.

In a press statement here today, Mr Sewa Singh Chawla, President of the state unit of the RSS, made it clear that the RSS was totally against terrorism, but had made this appeal only to maintain communal harmony.

Mr Chawla disclosed that a two-member delegation of the All-India RSS headed by its national President, Mr Gurcharan Singh, had already met the Union Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in this connection. 


Cong to issue show-cause notice to MLA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 16
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that a show-cause notice would be served on the Congress legislator from Rajpura, Mr Raj Kumar Khurana, for his anti-party activity during the recent municipal committee elections.

Addressing newspersons, he said the legislator had violated party discipline by putting up candidates in all 25 wards against official party candidates. He said PPCC President H.S. Hanspal had taken a serious view of the incident and would be issuing a show-cause notice to Mr Khurana.

Mr Khurana, when contacted, said he was still to receive a notice from the party. He claimed that he had not indulged in any anti-party activity. Supporters of Mr Khurana were pitted against the official Congress nominees in all wards.


Politicians ‘patronise’ caste system
Our Correspondent

Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda), March 16
Mr Sham Lal Sharma, state president of the General Categories Welfare Federation, said a state-level convention against caste-based reservation to be held at Talwandi Sabo on April 14 by the association would herald a new chapter in building a casteless society.

Addressing conveners of different units of the association here on Thursday, Mr Sharma said the main hurdle in eradicating the caste system from society was caste-based reservation. He added that caste-based reservation should be abolished.

He said although various political parties talked about eradicating the caste system, but due to political compulsions they did not dare to take concrete steps in that direction. He alleged that some politicians were even patronising the caste system for getting votes.

Mr Nirmal Singh, state general secretary of the association, said the creamy layer of the reserved categories was lobbying for continuing the reservations. He alleged that the benefits of reservation did not reach those who really needed these. Their association was making efforts to awaken the people about the ill effects of caste-based reservation, he added.

Mr Tara Singh Brar, district press secretary of the association, said they would hold such meetings in different parts of the district. He said they were making efforts to reach the maximum numbers of people and tell them about the objective of the convention.

The conveners of the Raman, Maur, Talwandi Sabo, Goniana, Rampura Phul, Bhucho Mandi, Mansa, Budhlada, Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, and Bathinda units participated in the meeting.


Boycott of Address in bad taste: Mann
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 16
Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Punjab Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Social Security and Development of Women and Children, today said the boycott of Governor’s Address on the opening day of the Assembly session by the Opposition combine of the SAD-BJP was in a bad taste.

He said the dharna staged by three BJP MLAs outside the main entrance of the Assembly hall was a gimmick. He was talking to newsmen at the residence of Mr Paramjit Singh Sethi, MD, Indian Autos Industries and President Northern India, Exporters’ Federation here.

In his first interaction with mediapersons after the allocation of portfolios, Mr Mann said the allegation of the BJP about rigging of municipal poll was an affront to the public mandate. The voters had put their fresh stamp on the policies of the government pursued in the last one year, especially the crusade against corruption, he claimed.

Mr Mann said his ministry was committed to welfare of Dalits and the backward strata of society, children and women.


Party to mobilise forces: Kainth
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 16
Mr Satnam Kainth, president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha and a former MP, said here today that the Amarinder government was “directionless” and its one-point agenda was “political victimisation of opponents”. He said blind adoption of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation in the country would prove disastrous.

Mr Kainth said that the Bahujan Samaj Morcha, with a view to mobilising party workers and to chalking out a plan to strengthen its organisation, would organise zonal-level “workers’ workshops” at Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Phagwara soon.


SAD(A) sets up village units
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 16
The SAD(A) held meetings to enrol members. The following were appointed the office-bearers of different units: Bhucho Kalan: president — Mr Gurdev Singh; vice-president — Mr Dalip Singh; general secretaries — Mr Mangal Singh and Mr Mithu Singh. Jodhpur Romana: president — Mr Gurmail Singh; vice-president — Mr Mahinder Singh and general secretary — Mr Jaswinder Singh.


Policemen charged with torturing kabaddi players
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 16
The district police today registered cases against two policemen, including Om Parkash, head of Ganna police post in Phillaur, on the charge of torturing two kabaddi players in illegal custody on March 8.

Mr Varinder Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police, said here today that following news reports of illegal detention and torture by Davinder Pal Singh of Police Training School at Jahan Khelan and Om Parkash, a case under Sections 323 and 342 of the IPC had been registered against the policemen.

He also said: “We are going to arrest the accused and special police parties have been sent to catch them.

Om Parkash has been placed under suspension and the SHO at Phillaur has been told to conduct an inquiry into the matter.”

The kabaddi players — Onkar Singh of Kang Araian village and Baldev Singh of Bhaini village — had reported that, on way to home in a jeep on March 8 after participating in a tournament, they had been forced to stop near Nangal village in Phillaur by a Maruti car parked in the middle of the road.

The “drunk” driver of the car, Davinder Pal Singh, when asked to move away the vehicle, allegedly, slapped Onkar and put his revolver to his head. Later, he called Om from the Ganna police post.

The players were kept in illegal custody for one night.


Decks cleared for MC chiefs’ election
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 16
Decks have been cleared for the election of Mr Naresh Puri and Ms Satya Devi as presidents of the Municipal committees of Sujanpur and Dinanagar, respectively though elections in this regard will be held next week but the results are just a foregone conclusion.

The Sujanpur municipality has total of 13 members out of which 10 belong to the Congress. Mr Puri was elected unanimously and is also the unanimous choice for the leadership of the municipal contingent of the Congress. Moreover, Mr Puri has the blessings of the Punjab Urban Development Minister who represents the Sujanpur Assembly constituency.

In the Dinanagar municipality, the Congress has more than two-thirds majority and is reserved for a woman representative belonging to the Scheduled Caste.

Mrs Satya Devi is the only woman Scheduled Caste Municipal Commissioner elected from Dinanagar and therefore, is the only choice of the Congress. Moreover, she has the blessings of Mrs Aruna Chaudhary, Congress MLA from Dinanagar.

Municipal committees of Batala, Fatehgarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak and Qadian are likely to have Congress Presidents. However, no consensus among party leaders in these municipalities have emerged so far.

No party has secured majority in the Municipal committees of Dinanagar, Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.


Ind wins Majitha byelection
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 16
An Independent candidate, Mr Salwant Singh, today defeated the ruling party candidate, Mr Dilbag Singh, with a big margin in the Municipal Committee Majitha byelection.

The byelection was necessitated due to the damaging of a ballot box by a miscreant last week. According to Mr Gurwaryam Singh; Returning Officer, the election was held in a free and fair manner. While the Independent candidate polled 400 votes, his nearest Congress candidate, Mr Dilbag Singh got only 183 votes.


Mann for panel of preservationists
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 16
The SAD(A) President, MP and SGPC member, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, in a letter to the SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has urged him to constitute a panel of preservationists from among the members of the SGPC for framing rules against renovation, alteration or pulling down of old Sikh historic structures without the approval of the panel which would act on the advice of experts.

The letter, the copy of which was released here today, refers to press reports about the damage being inflicted to Sikh heritage like Ramgarhia Bhunga. The letter makes mention of the plan made by a multi-disciplinary team which prepared the dossier for the recommendation of the Golden Temple, Amritsar as world heritage site.

The letter regrets that leaders like Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Parkash Singh Badal had allowed the removal of bullet and shell marks on the Golden Temple complex during Operation Blue Star by replacing with new slabs of marble. Accusing the Centre of adopting double yardstick, the letter mentions that while the government had preserved the bullet marks of 1919 massacre in the adjoining Jallianwala Bagh it had erased all evidence of the Operation Bluestar from the Golden Temple complex.

Mr Mann informed Mr Badungar that he had written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking the preservation of Sikh heritage sites not only in India but also in Pakistan. He also pleaded with the SGPC President to take up the case with the Union Government to save Sikh heritage in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.


Cable operators deny charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
The list of defaulter cable operators, made public by Amritsar Communication Network Private Limited, has opened a Pandora’s box as the cable operators associations have started levelling allegations and counter-allegations against each other.

Mr Hari Om Dhanuka, Managing Director of Siti Cable, said around 83 cable operators had not paid their dues since December 2002 amounting to Rs 68.75 lakh. He said the cable operators might have collected fees from subscribers. He warned if any pay channel switches off its signal due to non-payment, the Amritsar Communication Network would not be responsible for it.

The Chairman of Amritsar City Cable Operators Association, Mr Sarabjit Singh, however, denied that any cable operator of his association was on the defaulters list. He threatened to file a defamation suit against Mr Gurmukh Singh Khalsa, Chairman of the Cable TV Operator Welfare Association, for levelling allegations against him.


Centre forms panel for Hoshiarpur schemes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 16
The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, has constituted a district-level vigilance and monitoring committee for Hoshiarpur under the chairmanship of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Member of Parliament, to monitor the schemes of the ministry in the district.

In a press statement here today, Mr Channi said all MLAs of the district, chairperson of the Zila Parishad, chairpersons of panchayat samities, chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad, and Project Director, DRDA, would be members of the committee. The Deputy Commissioner would be the member secretary.

Mr Channi has nominated Mr Jagdish Singh Randhawa, Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bains and Mr Harbhajan Dass as members of the committee and four other persons would be nominated by the ministry very shortly.

He further stated that the committee would monitor the works being executed under the Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), DRDA administration, Watershed Development Programme under DPAP, DDP and IWDP, Computerisation of Land Records, Rural Water Supply Programme (RWSP), Sector Reforms Project/SWAJALDHARA, Rural Sanitation Programme and any other scheme under this ministry.

The committee would look into complaints and alleged irregularities received by it in respect of the implementation of the programmes under the rural development ministry and for this the committee would hold its meeting at least once every quater, he added.


Bhaura seeks social security for farm labour
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 16
Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura Member of Parliament and President, Khet Mazdoor Union, Punjab, has demanded the implementation of the legislation for the welfare of farm workers in the country. He said though the act was passed in 1975 by Parliament but it had not been enforced. It was causing great hardships for the farm workers.

Presiding over the two day state-level conference on the concluding day at Kot Kapura today he said more than 30 per cent population of the country was of farm workers considered backbone of the development of agriculture but no steps had been taken by any state or central government to improve their economic condition. He said if no steps were taken in this direction the country would face various hardships.

Mr Bhaura also demanded old-age and disability pensions and the implementation of reservation for farm workers on par with other classes.

Earlier Dr Joginder Dyal, State Secretary of the CPI also expressed concern over the working condition of farm workers in the country. He underlined the need of generating more employment sources for the rehabilitation of these people. Dr Dyal cautioned the people against forces of secessionism out to disintegrate the country. The CPI will do its best to strengthen secularism assured Dr Dyal. Several district leaders of the sabha also spoke. More than 500 delegates from different parts of the state attended it.


Minister promises jail reforms
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 16
Punjab’s newly appointed Minister of State for Jails and Urban Development, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, today promised to bring in “sweeping” reforms in jails.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Birmi said he had ordered that complaint boxes be installed in all jails in the state. These would be locked and opened by the minister himself so as to keep the identity of the complainant secret. He said better facilities would be provided in the jails and sanitation and other basic amenities would be his top priority. He announced that to discourage the trend of the criminals getting out of jails on health grounds, better health facilities would be provided in the jails.

The minister said he had already issued instructions to check the inflow of drugs and other intoxicants to the jails. He said any official found guilty of conniving with the inmates would be punished.

Regarding urban development, Mr Birmi maintained that no unauthorised colonies would be allowed to come up and the existing ones would be regularised with due penalty. He said no new commercial complex would be allowed unless it had adequate parking space. Mr Birmi said he had directed the PUDA officials to identify and register the slums which had come up in the cities or suburbs. After the identification, and registration, the slum-dwellers would be provided one-room flats by the government and no slums would be allowed to come up after that. 


Give up liquor, spend on education, parents told
Tribune News Service

Chak Suhelewala (Ferozepore), March 16
Dr Rupinder Singh, Principal, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College of Engineering and Technology (SBSCET), Ferozepore, said that time had come for the educational institutions in the state to produce global competitors for the survival of the nation.

He was speaking at the annual function of Mata Gujri Public School, on Friday. Dr Rupinder Singh said that educational institutions would have to produce people of merit for a bright future of the country. He added what was needed not new temples but schools and colleges of international standards.

He pointed out that a teacher could not impart education in a better way and could not prepare students for global challenges easily if he did not relate to the institution in which he was working.

He appealed to the parents to give up liquor and spend the money thus saved on better education of their wards by entrusting them to the best institutions of the region.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, president, Mata Gujri Public School, said within three years of existence, the school had been imparting quality education available in the best schools of the country. He added that the school management had ensured that no teacher under tension would teach students. He said all facilities had been provided to the teachers.

Later, the chief guest gave away prizes to the students who excelled in academics and sports.

A cultural programme was also presented by students.


Govt move irks women councillors
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 16
Mrs Amritbir Kaur Sidhu, newly elected Congress municipal councillor, has expressed surprise over the Punjab Government’s decision to convert the post of president from the general category of women to that of Schedule Caste candidates in the local nagar council. She said this decision was a jolt to the general category women councillors who had taken an active part in the poll.

Talking to this reporter here on Friday, she said such issues should be decided before the election process.

Another woman Congress councillor, Mrs Sonia Bansal, said she would raise the matter at the ensuing district party senior leaders’ meeting for seeking the intervention of the state Chief Minister. Mrs Balwinder Kaur Sekhon, SAD, councillor, and Mrs Surinder Kaur, an Independent councillor supported by SAD, said it seemed that the Congress which had fought for reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in all fields has backed out from its stand. 


Few turn up for repoll
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 16
At least 71 per cent polling was recorded during the repolling in the highly sensitive ward 25 of the local municipal council today. Hardly 22 voters, more than last Sunday, turned up to exercise the franchise under heavy security arrangement.

Only those persons having some identification proof were allowed entry inside in the complex. Besides the election observer Mr Darbara Singh Guru, the Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh and SSP Praveen Kumar Sinha also visited the polling centre.

No candidate have lodged any complaint, official sources said. The CRPF and Punjab policemen had virtually seized the area.


Widow’s pension: probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 16
Following the appearance of a news on pension of Ms Gurvail Kaur, widow of a freedom fighter, published in The Tribune on August 27, 2002, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has directed the Chief Secretary to state government and the Deputy Commissioner here to submit a report in eight weeks. Ms Gurvail Kaur (in her 90s), widow of Gurcharan Singh — one of the few who revolted against the British. He was sentenced to be hanged to death later. He was among the few who refused to join the British army to fight in the World War II.

The participants of the mutiny were granted the status of the freedom fighters in 1993 along with members of six other such mutinies. They were granted pension under a special scheme. It was raised in 1997. However, Ms Gurvail Kaur had claimed that on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Independence Day, pensions of freedom fighters under other schemes were raised while not of the categories under the special scheme.


World Consumer Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 16
The World Consumer Day was celebrated by the Amritsar Consumers' Association here today. Presiding over the function, Mr Sunil Dutti, Mayor, Amritsar Municipal Corporation, announced that he would make all-out efforts to redress problems of consumers. Literature on the rights of consumers was also distributed on the occasion.

Among those who addressed the gathering included Mr G.L. Sehgal and Mr G.S. Gill, president and general secretary of the association, respectively.


Man kills mother over property
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 16
Mahinder Singh, alias Tiddi of Patti Rawal Ki village, shot dead his mother Surjit Kaur (62) and shot at his younger brother Balbir Singh at Rurrka Kalan village this morning.

A property dispute is said to be the cause of the murder. Surjit Kaur died on the spot while Balbir Singh sustained serious bullet injuries. He has been admitted to a Ludhiana hospital.

Mahinder Singh reportedly wanted a bigger share in family land. The dispute flared up today and an angry Mahinder Singh brought his country-made 12-bore pistol and opened fire, killing the mother and injuring his brother.

After this, Mahinder surrendered before the Goraya police. The police sent the body to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination and registered case under Section 302/25/54/59 of the IPC. Later, the body was handed over to the family members of the deceased.


2 held for extortion
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 16
The police claims to have busted a five-member gang of impostors with the arrest of its two members. The two were held on the charge of extorting money by posing as policemen.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said the police received information that a gang was extorting money by threatening people. It laid a trap and arrested Gagan Sharma of Preet Nagar and Inderjit Singh of Nurpur village. The remaining members of the gang were identified as Gurnam Singh and Gurjit Singh of Reru village and Inderjit Singh of Nurpur village.


Panch murdered
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 16
Mr Sawinder Singh (45), a panch, was allegedly murdered this morning at his native Naurangabad village by Rachhpal Singh of the same village.

The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, against him.

According to sources, an old dispute is said to be the root cause of the murder.

The suspect allegedly used a sword to kill him. Rachhpal Singh is absconding.


Two killed in collision
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 16
Two occupants of a jeep were killed while three others were injured when their vehicle collided head on with a bus near the Sirsa railway crossing on the Bathinda-Dabwali road this evening.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that deceased had been identified as Gurjant Singh and Sadhu Singh while the injured were Jeet Singh, Narinder Singh and Malkit Singh. The victims belonged to Bhadaur village of Sangrur district.

The jeep was coming towards Bathinda from the Sirsa side and the bus was on its way to Dabwali. They were shifted to civil hospital here from the site by the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva. The condition of the injured had been stated to be stable.

A case in this connection had been registered.


Two arrested for assault
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 16
The police arrested two persons last night and registered cases against some others under Sections 353, 332, 186 and 120-B, IPC for assault and for using criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty.

It was learnt today that a mobile PCR cops went to local Model Town after getting a call about a scuffle among migrant employees belonging to a leading cloth house. When the PCR squad led by Madan Mohan reached the site, the fighting employees misbehaved with them. Two workers, Mr Zahid and Mr Syphal were arrested. Other workers, including Mahadev, Manal, Mukul, Mauji are also wanted in the case. However, the owners of the cloth house have said they had nothing to do with the workers’ scuffle. 


Action against schoolhead sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 16
The district administration here has written to the Secretary, Education (Schools), Punjab, demanding disciplinary action against the head of government high school, Malooka village of the district for facilitating former Union Minister and senior SAD leader Sukhbir Badal criticise Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh by organising a function for the inauguration of a block on March 5.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, had ordered a probe into this incident and deputed the SDM concerned to hold the probe. He said today that the school head had been found guilty in the inquiry by the SDM and the authorities concerned had been urged to take disciplinary action against him.

On March 5, in the Malooka village building of new block in the government high school was inaugurated. He allegedly used the occasion to criticise state Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his government.


Stress on quality education
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, March 16
“The educational institutes must lay stress on quality education instead of results” stated Prof V.N. Rajasekhran Pillai, Director National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), at the two-day workshop-cum-seminar for accreditation of affiliated colleges and teaching departments of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Professor Pillai said educational institutions needed in India have to be different. They would have an active, ongoing system of self-assessment and self-renewal. Educational institutions should provide quality education to enable students to meet requirement of the market.

Professor Pillai also favoured remedial teachings, computerisation of libraries, setting up of placement cells, and admission tests to improve education.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university said the varsity had diversified and introduced job-oriented courses. He said doubts on the assessment and accreditation had disappeared and had been accepted today.

Dr S.P. Singh and Dr Satinder Singh, pro-Vice-Chancellor, presented Professor Pillai and Dr Latha Pillai, Adviser NAAC, with phulkari and university publications.


Batala students honoured
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 16
The Bharat Vikas Parishad, Batala held a function in community hall of Khajuri Gate here today to honour brilliant students of the town.

Mr Vijay Chopra, Chief Editor of the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers, gave away the Bibi Parsanni Devi memorial annual awards that comprise a bicycle, a memento and a certificate each.

The awards went to Anu Bala of Government Girls High School, Gandhi Nagar, Amanjot Singh of Saint Francis School, and Jagmohan Singh of Baring Union Christian College.

More than 100 other students, who had stood first in various schools of Batala, were also honoured.

Prof K.N. Sharma, president of the BVP Batala, welcomed the chief guest and read out the annual report of the body.

Later, Mr Vijay Chopra praised the Batala students and urged them to keep up the good work and help the needy.


Mann gives grant to village schools
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 16
The SAD (Amritsar) has condemned the SAD (Badal) and the SHSAD for not recognising the sacrifice of those Punjabis who were killed during the police firing during a rasta roko andolan on April 4, 1993, at Kup Tota, a hamlet near here. Addressing gathering, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the party alleged that during their terms as chief ministers, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, did not recognise their sacrifice.

Referring to the attempts of unity between different Akali Dals, Mr Mann said: “Both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, take instruction from their ‘bosses’ in Delhi. Mr Badal follows Mr Advani where as Mr Tohra obeys Ms Sonia Gandhi. Before going for unity, both leaders must tell the sangat that why did they separate earlier and now what is there to unite them.” Mr Mann announced grants of Rs 50,000 for computer centres at schools of villages belonging to victims of rasta roko andolan.

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