Saturday, April 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab getting into financial snarl
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Punjab is getting into a financial snarl. This is evident from the fact that receipts have fallen down by Rs 90 crore to Rs 100 crore because the expected receipts due to despatch of wheat to Food Corporation of India destinations have been excluded from the Consolidated Fund effective from April 1.

Informed sources say that this will make more difficult for the government to take up any development works. In fact, last year too some of these works were taken in hand by diverting Rs 1,500 crore from the food account. On this very account the Congress has been critical of the previous Akali-BJP government, accusing it of undertaking development works by diverting nearly Rs 1,800 crore from the food account during its tenure.

Under the given circumstances, the state would have no alternative except to scout for areas where more taxes can be levied so as to ensure free flow of funds to meet its expenditure on development.

Though the Cabinet sub-committee on fiscal management had recently enhanced the ‘’user charges’’ on social and economic services the government provided to the people, including hike in college fees and funds no official notification has been issued on any of the user charges, as to from what date these would be effective. Some tax proposals were also outlined in the Budget. Still, it is expected that there will be a shortfall of nearly Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore.

Therefore, how much development will take place is any body’s guess, say sources. Already a year has passed.


Barnala hints at Badal-Tohra unity
Tribune News Service

Malaud, April 18
Andhra Pradesh Governor and former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala today said that unity among the Badal and Tohra factions would prove beneficial for the development of Punjab since it would result in establishing a healthy opposition in the state.

Hinting at his tacit approval to the unity moves, he said, “Till now, I have not been approached by any of the parties, but I feel that all are willing to unite on a platform if some one mediates.” He also inaugurated the Akal International Academy and stressed upon enhancement in the quality of education in rural areas.

Addressing the gathering, he called upon NRIs and industrial houses to open schools to impart intensive training to rural and poor students. He said education and employment opportunities had been opened for the youth at the global level, but to benefit from this, students had to face tough competition, for which a high level of education was required.


People in border areas neglected: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today said that neglecting people of border areas in Punjab could prove costly for the country.

At a press conference here today, Mr Mann said neither the Punjab Government nor the Union Government was paying any attention to improve the lot of people of border areas, who had suffered financially and otherwise because of the prolonged tension between India and Pakistan.

“I have written both to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, regarding the problems faced by the people in the border belt. Mr Advani has responded to my letter promptly though he has done nothing practically to help the people in the border districts”, Mr Mann said. “Those ruling the country should learn a lesson from Iraq where Kurds did not extend any cooperation to Saddam’s administration that had neglected them (Kurds)”, he added.

The Army stayed in their fields for long but no compensation had been offered to affected farmers who were unable to nurse their paddy and wheat crops because of landmines. Labourers and small shopkeepers had also been affected. He said that placing of the landmines in the border belt was violation of international treaties. It had been proved in Iraq that in the present era wars were fought with modern weapons and the old methods such as landmines etc had become totally outdated and ineffective. He said that even those farmers, whose land was acquired for fencing long back, had not been given compensation yet. Those who lost limbs because of landmines should be given financial help.

He questioned the Punjab Government about Rs 16 crore that was released by the Centre for certain projects in border districts. Secondly, why the recruitment of 302 women Home Guards, posts for whom were approved by the Union Home Ministry, has not been made by the State Government. The women Home Guards were to be posted along with BSF personnel on the border for frisking women. At present, Mr Mann said, women were frisked by BSF jawans which was highly objectionable. He said that because of the movement of heavy defence armour, roads in border belt had been reduced to rubble.

The Army should make extensive recruitment from Punjab which had to suffer a lot because of its location. Mr Mann said that he had also urged the Defence Minister to instruct the Army authorities to return library and heritage material that was taken away by the Army during the “Operation Bluestar.” Under international laws, it was a big offence to destroy any community’s heritage and I would like to take up this issue at international level”, he added.

Mr Mann said that both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra had caused heavy damage to Sikh heritage. The Union Government was deliberately delaying the election of the SGPC because it wanted to retain the control of Mr Badal on it. “We would stage dharnas and hold demonstrations if SGPC elections were not held soon”, he added.


CM seeks report on link channel
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 18
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered Irrigation Department officials to submit preliminary report on another link channel in this subdivision. The report will be submitted within 10 days for approval.

Official sources said a decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting held at the residence of the Chief Minister last evening. Those present at the meeting included Mr Bhagat Singh, adviser to the CM, Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary Irrigation, Secretary Irrigation Department Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, Mr Y. P. Yaduvanshi, Chief Engineer Canals.

Mr Sunil Jakhar MLA from Abohar presenting his proposals at the meeting argued that more than 18 villages of this sub division were located at the tailend of the canal. The farmers had been getting water for irrigation and drinking from Lambi Minor (sub-canal).

The sub-canal was ill-designed and constructed during the SAD regime, 20 years back covering a stretch of 70 km. Influential farmers of Muktsar district had been indulging in canal water theft by using pipes in this sub-canal.

Mr Jakhar said the Rajasthan government had taken up remodelling of Gang Canal at a cost of Rs 417 crore. As a substitute it had constructed Rajasthan link channel to provide water to farmers of Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts. The channel touched villages of Abohar subdivision. On the completion of the remodelling after two years the Rajasthan link channel would be abandoned. This could be used for diverting water from share of Punjab to another link channel, which, if constructed, would provide water to the tail-end villages of this subdivision.

If needed the Punjab government could offer compensation to the Rajasthan government for using latter’s link channel to give relief to the farmers of Abohar subdivision who had always been friendly to the neighbouring state. The project would bring prosperity for the farmers of the region. There had been crisis of drinking water also.

Capt Amarinder Singh endorsing the proposal asked the department to prepare the preliminary plan for administrative approval within 10 days.

He also reportedly expressed his willingness to take up the matter with Mr Ashok Gehlot Chief Minister of Rajasthan at the earliest, sources said. Mr Jakhar was expected to meet Mr Gehlot very shortly in this connection.


Propagating Punjab history
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Cunning and deceit that was the hallmark of the British that ruled India for long. And that is exactly what being conveyed to the present generation of the British by a Punjabi girl, Ms Parminder Sekhon, through a play entitled “Maharaja’s Daughters”.

“In the UK, I am trying hard to propagate the history and heritage of our native land (India and Punjab) through the medium of theatre. And I relate my theatrical productions to convey a strong message”, said Parminder, who is here for a few days to meet her relations. “I picked up the historical play “Maharaja’s Daughters” to convey to the British what role their earlier generations played in the Asian sub-continent”. And they turn up in big numbers to see the play, she claimed.

The play is related to the post Maharaja Ranjit Singh period. In fact, the storyline of the play that has been staged about 25 times in London and elsewhere in the UK, is a cocktail of history and fiction. It revolves around the last Sikh Maharaja of Punjab, Duleep Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

However, in the play Duleep Singh, never appears on the stage. The main characters are two daughters — Catherine and Sophia — of Duleep Singh, who had two wives. Both Catherine and Sophia were social activists and worked at various forums.

Parminder has tried to highlight how the British took deposed Duleep Singh to Britain, converted him to Christianity, and forced him to present Kohinoor to Queen Victoria, of course through deception.The play begins in 1893 with Duleep Singh’s death and ends in 1948, when Sophia dies at the age of 72, six years after her sister, as India and the Punjab are torn apart by partition.

It is said that Sophia all her life fought for the rights of women in the UK and played a major role for securing a right to vote for them. Catherine worked in German camps where captured soldiers were housed during World War I. Parminder says a large number of Sikh soldiers were also in those camps.

However, what haunted both the women throughout their lives was the question of their identity. They were neither Indian nor British.

Their father was a Sikh and mother a non-Sikh. “Though both Catherine and Sophia were Anglicised and Christianised, yet at least a part of them remained forever Indian and Sikh”, says Parminder, who acts as Sophia in the play.

And that question of the identity is tellingly related to the new generation of Indians, especially Punjabis, settled in big numbers in the UK and other European countries. Though born and brought up in the UK, Parminder has the intense desire to remain deeply attached to her roots, that are in the city of Golden Temple, from where her parents migrated to the UK in 1965.

She has launched a theatre company — Mehtab Theatres — and has a numerous productions to her credit. Among them are — Kali Salwar; Madhuri I Love You; Not Just an Asian Babe; and O’ God’s Angeles. The next one will be “Hukamni De Haveli”, an adaptation written by Surjit Pattar, a renowned Punjabi poet, from a story of a Spanish writer who was killed in the Spanish civil war in 1930.

“I would love to stage “Maharaja’s Daughters” in India and for that I am looking for sponsors. I can be contacted on Parminder,” she added.


Dalits want action against Mulayam
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has taken strong exception to remarks made by the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, and his lieutenant Mr Amar Singh against the Dalit community and the Uttar Pardesh Chief Minister, Ms Maya Wati, during their Punjab visit on April 14. The party has called upon the Punjab Government to register criminal cases against the two leaders.

Addressing a meeting of all Dalit bodies, convened by the District Valmiki Sabha here, the senior vice-president of the BSP, Mr D.P. Khosla, said while the entire country was observing Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14, the SP leaders not only used abusive language against Ms Mayawati and the Dalit but had also attempted to rouse communal passions in the state. He said Mr Mulayam Singh seemed to be upset over the development works being undertaken by a Dalit woman.

Mr Khosla announced that a joint deputation of all parties, committed to the welfare of the Dalits, would soon meet the Chairman of the National Commission on SC/ST and the National Women Commission to demand action against the SP functionaries for using derogatory language against Ms Mayawati.

The district Valmiki Sabha chief, Mr Babu Ram Nahar, chairman, Mr Walaiti Ram Moong and other speakers at the meeting claimed that there was widespread resentment among members of the dalit community over the contemptuous behaviour of the SP leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr Nahar has written to the DGP, Punjab to book the SP leaders under relevant Sections of the IPC for levelling baseless and false allegations against Ms Mayawati in pubic.


Plan to carve out Jaitu constituency
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 18
Under its programme delimiting 117 constituencies for the next Assembly and general elections in the state, a new constituency of Jaitu is planned to be created by abolishing the Panjgrain constituency in this district. However, the Kotkapura and Faridkot constituencies will remain intact.

Under the new proposal, nearly 25 villages out of 44 in the Panjgrain Assembly constituency will be merged with Faridkot district and the remaining with Moga district. According to reports, out of these villages, three, including Dhilwan Kalan and Sewian, may be included in the new constituency of Jaitu.

Most other villages like Dhudi, Aulakh, Jiwanwala, Tehna, Ghania Waka, Chahal, Sandhwan, Sikhanwala, Nathewala, Kotsukhia, Deviwala, Bir Sikhanwala, Jalaleiana, Dhimanwali, Chakkalyan, Phidekurd, Phidekalan, Wanderjatana, Mour Harinau, Bir Bholuwala and Waradraka will be merged with the Kotkapura segment. The Faridkot constituency, may, now, also comprise Sadiq, Golewala and Rottirori areas.

Moreover, under the new scheme, each of the three constituencies may be allocated nearly 1.52 lakh voters.

The state government wants, no Assembly segment to increase or decrease by more than the 10 per cent of its electorate strength.

The state proposal will be placed before Justice Kuldeep Singh (retd), one-man delimitation commission, at New Delhi on April 19. Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister; Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha; and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar will represent the Punjab Government at this meeting.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, MP, will present the case of the Shiromani Akali Dal, while Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, and Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA, will represent the CPI and the Independents, respectively, at the meeting.


Re-drawing of constituencies put off

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 18
Punjab Minister of state for Public Health, Rural Development and Panchayats Jasjit Singh Randhawa said today that delimitation of state Assembly constituencies had been postponed.

He told reporters that the postponement was because the government had yet to decide whether the census of 1991 or 2001 should be considered as the base for the purpose, Lok Sabha elections, due next year, are likely to held as per the existing constituencies, he added.

The Minister said development work in model villages would begin by May-end as funds had been allocated and modalities were being worked out. UNI


Panel to oversee user charges’ utilisation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
Punjab Research and Medical Education Minister Santokh Singh today said purchase committees would be formed to ensure the speedy use of Rs 32 crore with the Research and Medical Education Directorate on account of the user charges earned by medical and dental colleges in the state.

Talking to mediapersons here after inspecting the local Government Medical and Dental College, the minister said the two important medical colleges and hospitals in Patiala and Jalandhar were in a poor shape. He said the hospitals attached with the medical colleges did not have the required medicine stocks.

The minister said the medical institutions were in a poor shape because the previous government had not provided funds for the purchase of medicines or equipments for nearly three years. He said due to the purchase policy, purchases could not be made by the colleges this year also. He said the purchase policy would be restructured.

Mr Santokh Singh said the government had also decided to review the no-objection certificates issued by the previous government for setting up dental and nursing colleges. He said some no-objection certificates had been given for setting up some institutions which did not meet the norms set by the Medical Council of India (MCI). He said the process of giving fresh no objection certificates had been made more stringent.

Speaking on the issue of stagnation in promotions and vacancies in various departments in medical colleges, he said the issue would be taken up at the Departmental Promotion Committee meeting this month. He said promotions would be made following the meeting, following which another exercise would be initiated to determine vacancies and fill these up in a time-bound manner.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the State Medical and Dental Teachers Association met the minister and urged him to meet the demand of redesignation of medical teachers in accordance with MCI norms. The move did not involve any financial implications and had been accepted in principal by the government.

Association secretary Dr B.S. Sohal demanded that all vacancies be filled in accordance with MCI regulations. He also demanded the increase in the retirement age from 58 to 60 years for medical teachers. 


Decision on autonomy for medical colleges in May
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 18
The move to grant autonomy to three medical colleges being run by the state government, initiated about three years ago, seems to have made progress as the proposal has been cleared by the authorities concerned and a decision to this effect is likely to be taken by the end of May.

The SAD-BJP government had initiated steps to grant autonomy to its medical colleges at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala. The move had been initiated as the government was unable to allocate adequate funds to these medical colleges. Autonomous medical colleges were supposed to generate enough funds to meet their respective financial liabilities.

The proposal to grant autonomy to government-owned medical colleges and other institutions providing healthcare facilities had been prepared by the Educational Consultants India Limited, Noida, after visiting all medical colleges in the state. A project report had been submitted in this connection.

A number of meetings had been held by the Minister for Medical Education, the Principal Secretary and the Director, Medical Education and Research, Punjab, with principals of medical colleges. Various autonomy models had been discussed at these meetings.

Dr Ravinder Singh, Director Medical Education and Research, Punjab, when contacted, said now the proposal to extend autonomy to medical colleges had been discussed with the authorities and the authorities had given their nod to it. He added that a decision to this effect could be taken in May

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that medical college authorities would not be given complete independence. The college authorities would be empowered to generate enough funds to meet their expenditure requirements. Policy decisions fund allocation and recruitment powers would remain with the state government.

What had necessitated the state government to think about granting autonomy was that medical colleges had been facing acute financial crises for the past many years. Budgetary allocation to these medical colleges in the past few years was not enough to pay salaries to staff members, leave aside the expenditure on electricity bills and maintenance of medical equipment.

Owing to an acute shortage of funds, the medical colleges authorities had also been finding it difficult to expand their wings by installing new and modern machines by replacing obsolete ones. Some hospitals attached to these medical colleges had been finding it difficult to make arrangements for funds to purchase their ambulance vans.

The money and funds collected by autonomous medical colleges through hospitals, admission fee and other sources would be used by the college authorities to meet expenditure needs for the smooth running of the hospitals. These would be equipped with the latest machines and the academic infrastructure would be upgraded.


Mayor’s image: Cong councillors to meet Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 18
While criticising Mr Balbir Singh Chohan, a Congress councillor and staunch supporter of the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, of indulging in anti-party activities, the group of Congress councillors, owing allegiance to the Mayor of the local Municipal Corporation, Mr Surinder Mahey, today decided to raise the issue with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Kuljeet Singh Babbi and Mr Harkishan Singh Bawa, both Congress councillors along with 17 others while addressing a press conference here today alleged that Mr Balbir Singh Chohan was instrumental in repeatedly trying to tarnish the image of the Mayor by levelling baseless allegations.

This is to mention here that Mr Chohan had repeatedly criticised the working of the Congress Mayor and alleged that no development works were initiated in the city even as lakhs of rupees had been spent on the beautification of certain roundabouts, terming it as wasteful expenditure. Mr Chohan had reportedly threatened to stage a dharna outside the office of the Mayor for ignoring development works in his ward since Mr Chohan was close to Mr Kaypee.

“A deputation of party councillors will meet the Chief Minister and the Punjab Congress Chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, at Chandigarh soon to apprise them of the issue, which is affecting the party’s reputation,” Mr Bawa added.

Mr Babbi further demanded that the party high command should initiate disciplinary action against Mr Chohan. When contacted Mr Chohan said he was a loyal party worker and had never violated any party discipline. “It is my duty to express resentment prevailing among residents of my ward for delay in start of development works,” he added.


CM draws flak on casinos
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD), president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s move to start casinos in the state as a “Maharaja’s tribute to the heritage of the Gurus in the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib”.


Takht’s kar seva ‘against’ Sikh philosophy
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 18
Dr Sukhdev Singh, State Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said here today that the Inventory of Historical Buildings of Amritsar was ready. It contains information on old buildings of the walled city, he said. These buildings are over 100 years old and some of them are even 250 or more years old, he claimed. Inventory deals with 350 historical buildings of the walled city area, he informed. He earlier brought out a brochure — the Heritage Walk of Amritsar, he disclosed. Such inventories and brochures of other important cities of Punjab might also be brought out, he said. He welcomed the idea of Mr Inderjit Singh, Principal, Guru Nanak College, here to preserve and document old folk dances like “jhoomar” mastered by Rai Sikhs of village Jhottianwali near Fazilka “Luddi”, “Chaals” (rhythmic movements) of traditional bhangra performed exclusively by the residents of village Khokhar Faujian in Gurdaspur district. He asked Principal Inderjit Singh to do the spadework for it before INTACH took over it.

Dr Sukhdev Singh disclosed that proposals were afoot to hold workshops on Heritage Education and Awakening in the state. We had held 10 such workshops in country, including one in Punjab at Amritsar, last year and might hold these this year, he said. INTACH was committed to preserving — Architectural, Material and Natural Heritage, he informed. He agreed that priceless frescoes adorning ceilings in the Golden Temple complex artwork of inlaid stones, engraved flower paintings were under threat due to lack of expertise of those engaged in kar seva. The treasured artwork and glorious Sikh heritage were being plastered and printed, he regretted. The kar seva going in the premises of Akal Takht was gaudy, against the Sikh philosophy of simplicity and not conducive for the building made of lime, he asserted. Wealth rather than aesthetic sense was on display and damage to designs of “deodhi” had already been done and the SGPC better stopped it, added Dr Sukhdev Singh.


Sikh group surprised at criticism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Members of the Sikh Core Group yesterday said that they had been “ pained and surprised” over the criticism of the Nanakshahi Calendar in the media after its release on April 14.

In a statement, Brig Gurdip Singh ( retd) said yesterday that the introduction of the calendar had been a historic landmark and it had been welcomed by the Sikhs the world over.

The calendar had been prepared after meticulous research by a renowned scholar, well versed with science of almanacs and it was subjected to prolonged scrutiny by a group of theologians, historians and panthic luminaries. There was no contradiction in dates in the Calendar.

He said their members had also remained associated with the process of the preparation of the calendar. If there was any genuine concern with regard to the calendar, it should be addressed through the institutional mechanism for well meaning and deserved attention.

The Group held a meeting in this connection yesterday, which was attended by Dr Gurcharan Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh, Brig Gurdip Singh ( retd), Dr Gurmit Singh, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Kirpal Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh and Dr M.S. Rahi.


Parking becomes orderly, much needs to be done
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 18
The city appears to have solved the problem of haphazard parking. Vehicles parked properly are seen in all corners of the city.

The city, civic body of which was given the status of a corporation on April 10 has witnessed steady increase in vehicle population including four wheelers. Leading to traffic problems due to jams and wrong parking. Several bazaars of the city, including the Sirki Bazaar, Dhobi Bazaar, Arya Samaj Chowk, Dev Samaj Chowk, Amrik Singh Road, Guru Kashi Marg, Nai Basti, Old Fort Road, and Post Office Bazaar used to remain congested and driving in these areas during the day was an uphill task.

With the removal of encroachments, footpaths for pedestrians narrowing of median dividing the roads and deployment of traffic police personnel, traffic has become in the city orderly. The anti-encroachment drive faced some resistance from a section of the shopkeepers and roadside vendors but the authorities did not yield and a large number of encroachments hindering smooth flow of traffic have been cleared up.

Dr Vandana Singla a psychiatrist of the local Civil Hospital said that the enforcement of traffic rules had eased chaos on the city roads. She however pointed out that the demarcation by the authorities to specify the parking zones had been given up and the lines drawn had become very faint.

Mr Dinesh Kumar, a city based businessman, said that he had never thought that he would be able to drive his two-wheeler through the Dhobi Bazaar due to massive encroachments and haphazard parking of vehicles. The situation has changed with the traffic police and schoolchildren at work and parking areas for the vehicles marked by white and yellow lines. He said that even the tea seller near his shop keeps advising the people to park vehicles in lanes else they would be challaned or the vehicle could be lifted by traffic cops which indicated a change in the attitude of the people.

The roads carrying maximum density of vehicular traffic had been eaten up by some encroachers and roads like the Bibi Walla road allegedly reduced to half of its actual width. The project of Ring Road, providing alternative route to connect Barnala and Mansa has been hanging fire for years. The then Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon had laid the foundation stone of the Ring Road and even the construction work was started but with the change of government, the project was abandoned.

The Guru Kashi Marg (Goniana Mansa Road) carries the heaviest flow of traffic and vehicles coming from Malout, Muktsar, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Abohar, Jalalabad and Fazilka use this road for going to Mansa, Dabwali and Sirsa. The narrow bridge over the Bathinda branch of Sirhind canal has not been widened since it was constructed decades ago. At many places the shopkeepers selling building material have encroached upon the road. Shopkeepers, at some places, have piled up the iron rods and sand, which remain on the road even at night or during rain. The authorities have not specified any parking spaces along this road vehicles can be seen parked here.

While vehicles can be seen parked in an orderly manner, the driving habits of people have not changed as drivers can be seen overtaking even in prohibited zones and the deafening pressure horns of all buses and trucks have been a nuisance to many but the authorities appear to have turned a blind eye to it.


Prayers for peace on Good Friday
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 18
On Good Friday today, Christians in various towns of Doaba region visited churches and participated in processions. Hundreds of Christians marched in a procession from Sacred Heart Church to the main church in Jalandhar Cantonment. They also passed through the BMC Chowk, bus stand and cantonment areas. The procession was led by Father Michael Ani, Father Mathew Cocundum, Father Curicos, Father Sunny George, Father Martin Sadiq and Father Joseph Eliqual. Christians also observed fast and prayed for world peace and communal harmony.

In his message to all Bishop Symphorian Keeprath said it was the need of the hour to maintain peace and communal harmony because the world was passing through a difficult phase. Father Michael Ani said donations had also poured in for various community-welfare projects.

In Adampur, a religious procession was led by Father Emanual Dewan while a similar procession in Nakodar was led by Father Charles De’ Souza. Christians also visited churches at Bhogpur, Bulath, Kapurthala and Phagwara in large numbers.


Redress Dalits’ grievances: judge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 18
A deputation of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, today met the Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, Ms Kiran Anand Lall, to apprise her of the failure of the district administration in initiating action against those who committed atrocities on Dalits.

The deputation led by the Secretary of the union, Mr Tarsem Peter, in a memorandum submitted to Ms Lall, who was in the city for inspection of courts, alleged that 30 Dalit families of Para village were being pressurised to vacate their houses by some landlords of the village even as the matter was reported to the police and the Deputy Commissioner about three months ago.

The landlords in connivance with the police were issuing threats to Dalits to vacate the land or face dire consequences. “Though some landless labourers were allotted plots at Ghugshor village about five years ago but the possession for the same has never been resorted to the beneficiaries despite repeated requests to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard. These plots are in possession of some persons having links with the senior bureaucrats,” the memorandum added.

The judge reportedly asked the Deputy Commissioner to redress the grievances of the Dalits.


3 cases filed under PNDT Act
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 18
Three cases were filed under the PNDT Act in two courts in Rajpura today.

The cases were filed by the Senior Medical officer Dr Amar Singh Azad, and an NGO ,Mr Harbans Singh Ahuja.

A case had been registered against Choudhary Ultrasound in Rajpura under the PNDT Act for allowing an unauthorised person to conduct ultrasound tests. The centre was also accused of not maintaining a record of the tests done by it. The case came up in the court of Mr B.R.Garg.

Two other cases under the Act came up in the court of Mrs Jatinder Walia. These pertained to raids conducted on the premises of two vaids Rammurti and Mahesh Kumar Sharma in Banur. The two were accused of selling medicines to pregnant women on the pretext of a sex change in the womb.


Army recruitment rally
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 18
The Army will organise a recruitment rally for soldiers (general duty, technical, clerk) from amongst candidates belonging to Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur districts between April 20 and April 27 at the ITI grounds of Nawanshahr.

The candidates, between the 16-23 years age group belonging to these districts and having a minimum qualification of matriculation with atleast 45 per cent marks or should have passed the plus two examination for soldier (general duty category).

Candidates from Punjab should be 170 centimetres in height, while the minimum height in the case of candidates belonging to the Kandi area is 163 centimetres.


Harpreet case hearing today

Patiala, April 18
The hearing of the murder case of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Bibi Jagir Kaur, was today adjourned for tomorrow by Additional Sessions judge S.P. Bangar.

The defence counsel cross-examined Ms Manjit Kaur, sister of Mr Kamaljit Singh, who claimed to be Harpreet’s husband, on her statement of July 19, 2000, to the CBI, alleging that Ms Jagir Kaur and her friend Ms Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi had hatched the conspiracy to kill Harpreet. The cross-examination, which remained inconclusive, would be resumed tomorrow. UNI


Five of family hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 18
Five members of a family, including Jagtar Singh, his wife Kulwinder Kaur, their sons Inderjit (12) and Harpreet (two months old) and daughter Simmi, were injured and hospitalised after the scooter they were riding was involved in an accident with a motor cycle here this evening. They were from Khanpur village.


Six hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 18
A clash took place between the owners of two taxi stands here this evening, in which six persons were injured. Lathis, brickbats and sticks were used and one taxi was damaged.

The clash took place between the Vishwakarma Tours and Travels and Shina Taxi Stand along the GT Road, opposite a local theatre, due to dispute over parking sites.


Boy crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 18
Arjun Singh (17), a class XII student of DAV College here, was crushed to death under harvesting combine near Chiragdhani village today. The victim was the son of Mr Mohan Singh, national athlete and relative of Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP. Arjun Singh was coming to the town on his scooter from Killianwali village when he collided with a harvesting combine. He died on the spot. The driver of the harvesting combine absconded.


Over 50,000 tonnes of wheat procured
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 18
The procurement of wheat which started on April 13, has been going on smoothly and as per the figures received yesterday, about 58,783 tonnes of wheat has been procured.

Sources said the Deputy Commissioner had been holding regular meetings of the officials concerned every evening to monitor the progress. The sources said this year the total arrival of wheat was expected to be six lakh tonnes and adequate arrangements for the procurement, lifting and storing of the same had been made.

The sources said the procurement agencies had been allotted procurement targets and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had been given the highest (33 per cent) target. Of the other agencies, the PUN grain had been given a target of 10 per cent along with the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, which would also be procuring 10 per cent of the wheat arrived in the district. PUNSUP would be procuring 18 per cent, Markfed 20 per cent, Punjab Agro Industries 9 per cent of the total procurement target in the district.

Of the 113 procurement centres set up in the district, 93 had started working while the arrival of wheat at the remaining 20 centres was slow.

The sources said the countrywide strike or truckers had little impact on the lifting of wheat here and a minor trouble at Bhuchu centre had been sorted out with the intervention of the SDM.

Official sources said that the payments of wheat procured on April 13 had been released to the arhtiyas concerned.

They added that the quality of the grains coming till this time was good and if dry weather prevailed for the coming few days, the procurement would be completed in about 10 days.


Combine harvesters banned at night
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 18
“Do not harvest wheat crop using combine machines at night as it could be a danger to law and order situation.”

It seems strange that what harvesting of wheat crop has to do with law and order situation.

However, there is a reason if one goes by the orders of the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Verma, issued for imposing a ban on the use of combine harvesters during night. Mr Verma has ordered a ban on use of combine harvesters between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. in the district. The reason for the ban that combines could harvest unripe green crop if they work at night. The grains of wheat thus harvested could get discolored after drying to downgrading of quality.

The District Magistrate said the procurement agencies might not purchase the low quality wheat. “Resentment starts brewing up among farmers when the wheat is not procured and it could lead to law and order problem,” said Mr Anurag Verma. He said such a situation arose due to harvesting of green and unripe wheat. He said that the order that would be in force from April 17 to May 16.


Rs 11 cr for 10 Mansa villages
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 18
“The Punjab Government has selected 10 villages of Mansa district under its Organised Rural Development Programme,” said Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayats after laying the foundation stone of the programme at Nangal Kalan village near Mansa today. Two villages each in five blocks of the district have been selected under the scheme and Rs 1.1 crore will be spent on the development of each of these. Ms Bhattal today released the first instalment of Rs 70 lakh under the programme for Nangal Kalan village. She also laid the foundation stones of Mandi Board Rest House and Market Committee Complex new grain market in Mansa.

The minister distributed cheques worth Rs 9.1 lakh among 39 farmers of the district who had lost their limbs in farming operations. Later, at a district-level farmers’ training camp organised here by the District Agriculture Department, Ms Bhattal said 3 lakh acres under paddy cultivation would now, be brought under contract farming and other crops would be sown there. Rs 135 crore would be spent on the repair of roads and Rs 40 crore on building platforms in market yards of the state.


Malhi to replace Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Mr Gurjot Singh Malhi, Director, State Vigilance Bureau, will also be Chairman of the State Advisory Board of the State Vigilance Bureau following a Haryana Government directive. He will replace Mr M.S. Malik, DGP, from the Chairman’s post with immediate effect.


2 cheating cases against doctor
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 18
The Jalandhar police has registered two more cases of cheating against Dr. Gurvinder Singh Samra, running a hospital in Kartarpur township. Mr Darshan Singh, a resident of Kamalke village in Moga district, had alleged that since he was suffering from back ache, he approached Dr. Samra about one and a half years ago. The doctor, in turn, assured him that he would be completely cured after treatment for which he took an amount of Rs 1.50 lakh. Since, the complainant could not be cured after repeated visits to the hospital, he approached the police with a complaint that he was deceived by the hospital owner.

Another case against the doctor has been registered on the basis of complaint of Ms Jagir Kaur, a resident of Mokal village near Bhogpur, who alleged that though her husband Harbhajan Singh who was injured in a road accident remained admitted in the hospital for a long time and though he paid Rs 3.2 lakh as fee, but he failed to show any improvement in his health. So much so, that an injection allegedly given by Dr. Samra resulted in his death.


180 kg of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 18
The Khuyiansarwar police yesterday recovered 180 kg of poppy husk from a car.

Sources said the car was intercepted at a naka near Danewala village. During search poppy husk was found packed in bags. The occupants identified as Manjit Singh and Bittu, residents of Noormahal in Jalandhar district, were booked under NDPS Act.

The police had last week impounded two consignments of poppy husk in separate incidents. There is always a spurt in the smuggling of poppy husk from Rajasthan during harvesting season. The DGP, Mr M.S. Bhullar, had presided over a meeting of IGs and DIGs of the Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana police here in December to discuss ways and means to effectively check the smuggling of poppy husk and opium from Rajasthan. It was resolved that quarterly meetings would be held to monitor the progress of anti-smuggling campaign. The Rajasthan police was to host the second meeting in the last quarter but it could not be held due to certain reasons. 


9 held, vehicles recovered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 18
The Ropar police says that it has busted a gang responsible for thefts in various parts of the state. The Senior Superintendent of Police at Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, in a press note issued here today, said the gang had been caught from a closed factory in Rampur Mahirab village near Morinda. When arrested, these persons had been planning a robbery.

The arrested persons are “gang leader” Amarjit Singh, Hall Singh, Kaliyan Singh, Baljinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh and Anand Kumar, all of Bagwantpura village, Avtar Singh and Naib Singh of Baniyal village, and Anand Kumar of Udham Singh Nagar.

Amarjit Singh, “leader of the gang”, was also wanted in a case of robbery at Bhavanigarh in Sangrur district. “After committing the robbery, Amarjit came to Bagwantpura and formed a gang of 15 that committed robberies in various parts of the state. So far, three Maruti-800 cars, a Hero Honda Motor Cycle, two Bajaj Chetak scooters and a Caliber motor cycle have been recovered ,” the SSP said.

A case has been registered. They have also been remanded in police custody till April 24.


Petrol station, trader robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 18
Two cases of looting here were reported in the past 48 hours. Three armed persons had looted Rs 19,000 from Oriental Motors Petrol Filling Station on the GT Road near Chiheru village late yesterday, the police said today.

The armed persons locked three employees of the station — Sukhwinder Singh, Swatantar Singh and Sanjiv Kumar — in a room and snapped the telephone connection before taking away the money from the cash box.

In another case, a trader of Phagwara, Paramjit Singh, while returning from Banga with his friend Taranjit Singh, was robbed of Rs 10,000 near Behram by two scooterists armed with sharp-edged weapons. They hit the trader’s motor cycle with their scooter and looted the trader after he had fallen off.

According to the UNI, three cameras worth Rs 20,000, besides several other goods, were taken away by burglars from a shop in Dddal locality here late yesterday. The police has registered a case.


Man looted of Rs 1 lakh

Tarn Taran, April 18
Two unidentified armed persons looted Rs 1 lakh from Mr Amarjit Singh, servant of Mr Sawarnjit, alias Sonu, a shopkeeper at Fatehbad village, last evening.

Mr Amarjit Singh said he was coming back after collecting the money when two armed persons looted the amount and fled. He added that when he went to the police station at Goindwal Sahib to lodge a complaint, he was allegedly beatenup by the police. The police had not lodged an FIR.


Gang of robbers busted, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 18
The police has busted a gang of robbers with the arrest of four of its members Mr RPS Brar, SSP, told newsmen here yesterday said that four members of the gang identified as Sarwan Singh, resident of Hari Darbar Colony, Balwinder Singh alias Sahi, resident of Mustafabad Jatta, Satpreet, alias Gurpreet alias Gopi, resident of Tibri and Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakhbir Singh, resident of Langarkot all in police station Sadar Gurdaspur while their fifth accomplice escaped.


Teachers’ transfer frozen for one year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Taking a first major step to remove chaos on the educational front, the Punjab Government today froze transfers of teachers for one year.

A spokesman for the government said that the Chief Minster, Capt Amarinder Singh, had instructed the department not to effect any transfer of teaching staff in schools during the current academic year. The decision was taken at a meeting held under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister. Another decision to fill the vacancies was also taken.

There were about 17,000 vacant posts of teacher in rural areas whereas schools in urban areas had a surplus 5000 teachers. Virtually, certain schools in urban areas are over-flowing with teaching staff.

Meanwhile, Mr Khushal Behl, Punjab Education Minister, said the decision to stop transfers had been taken to rectify serious distortions in the cadre management that had been adversely affecting studies. Pressure of transfers to the urban areas had resulted in haphazard shifting of posts from villages to the towns, notwithstanding the fact that there were no vacancies. Moreover, the process of redeploying of teachers was going on because of restructuring of the school education system at elementary and secondary level and transfers at this stage could hamper this process.


Headmasters resent promotion policy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 18
A number of teachers promoted as headmasters in direct recruitment by the Punjab Public Service Commission are sore over being superseded, as the state government’s decision kept them out of the equation for more than five years, while those promoted later were made principals. This, they allege is contrary to the recommendation of the Ajit Singh Janjua Commission-II that are taken as the basis for promotions.

A headmaster selected in 1994 was promoted as principal as per the seniority list released in 1999, while many headmasters promoted in 1989 languish in these positions only without any further promotion. Since only 16 of these headmasters were left out, while 175 of their batchmates were promoted as principals, the issue is being marginalised, they say.

Five of the aggrieved belong to Amritsar and the rest to Bathinda, Ludhiana, Sangrur and Gurdaspur etc. The five from Amritsar Mr Joginder Singh Bharti, Mr Subash Chander Arora, Mr Pritam Singh Dhillon, Mr Dharampal and Mr Ram Singh — allege that the state had brought promotions into effect by pushing down the seniority of direct recruits, which deprived them of the benefit of seniority even after a long time in service.

They allege that, now, a new seniority list based on the second Janjua Commission report has been released by the DPI (Schools) of Punjab and Chandigarh which “wrongly interprets a point and is causing confusion. Even a clarification in this regard issued in 2001 has apparently been ignored by the government.

The headmasters also say that rule 12 of the 1976 rules says that, for the determination of inter-service seniority by continuous length of service on a post in a particular cadre, “the service should be counted from the date of appointment as specified in the appointment or promotion order”. It also says that: “A member appointed by direct recruitment is to be ranked senior to a member appointed by promotion.” In the present seniority list, the rooster-point promotes have been shown senior to direct recruits, they say.


Restore stipend, say medical students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
Postgraduate students of the local government medical college today claimed that the government had discriminated against them and other postgraduate students of medical and dental colleges in the state by discontinuing the stipend being given to them from this month.

The students, who gave a representation in this regard to Research and Medical Education Minister Santokh Singh, also warned that they would launch a struggle in case the stipend of Rs 10,000 a month was not granted immediately.

The Junior Doctors Association president Dr Rajan said before joining the medical college, a bond had been signed by them which had assured them a stipend of Rs 10,000 a month. He said the government had suddenly withdrawn this stipend in mid-session without assigning any reason.

The students said the stipend being given to them was much less that the Rs 18,600 being given by the Delhi Government to its postgraduate students and Rs 15,000 being by the union territory administration. They said the students made up for the stipend being given to them by virtually running the hospitals attached to the medical colleges in the state. In fact the government had not filled any PCMS vacancy for seven years and that there had been a steady exodus of teachers from the medical colleges in the past few years for which no replacements had been given.

There were around 500 postgraduate students in the three medical and dental colleges in the state. He said Patiala had around 175 postgraduates in its one medical and dental college. The student also protested against the high fee of Rs 33,000 being charged from them per annum besides Rs 17,000 as hostel fee. They said there was a proposal from the government to further increase the tuition fee to Rs1.20 lakh which would be opposed by them. The students claimed that the minister had assured to take up their problems with the Chief Minister to ensure an early solution.

Meanwhile, MBBS interns also met the minister and appealed to the minister to review the decision to abolish the stipend being received by them during internship for one year. The interns said they were getting Rs 2,400 as stipend for the one year period which they assisted in the running of the hospitals where they were posted. There are around 150 interns in the Patiala and Amritsar Medical Colleges and 50 in Baba Farid university in Faridkot.

The students said there were around 500 postgraduate students in the three medical and dental colleges in the state. He said Patiala itself had around 175 postgraduate in its one medical and dental college each. The students also protested against the high fee of Rs 33,000 being charged from them per annum besides Rs 17,000 as hostel fee. They said there was a proposal from the government to further increase the tuition fee to Rs 1.20 lakh which would be opposed by them. The students claimed that the minister had assured to take up their problems with the Chief Minister to ensure an early solution.

Meanwhile, MBBS interns also met the minister and appealed to the minister to review the decision to abolish their stipend during internship for one year. They said they were getting Rs 2,400 as stipend for the one-year period during which they assisted in the running of the hospitals where they were posted. There are around 150 interns in the Patiala and Amritsar medical colleges and around 50 in the Baba Farid university in Faridkot.


Travails of primary students in govt schools
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
The heat has started but for a few hundred children studying in six government schools in the city, the worse is still to come. These students will continue to study in the afternoon shift starting at 1 p.m. even when most government schools will close down at 12 noon due to likely extreme heat conditions.

The students in these schools, who are taught in what are called ‘double shifts’, don’t really need to be taught in this manner. This is because the government continuously follow the system started some 40 years back when there were a few class rooms in government schools and too many children.

Double shifts for primary school-children from Class I to V are still continuing in high and senior secondary schools despite the fact that the number of class rooms has increased in nearly all schools in the city and the number of students decreased. Class rooms have increased due to participation of the Parent Teachers Associations as well as government funds, while students have decreased due to increasing preference of parents to enrol their children in private schools.

There seems to be a large gap in the number of students registered in the schools where double shifts are taking place in the afternoon and the number of students who attend classes. A visit to Government Girls High School, Anardana Chowk, revealed that only a few students were attending classes even though the school had around 100 students registered with it. Sources said only 30 students in classes ranging from the first standard to the fifth attended classes regularly.

The District Education Officer (Primary), Ms Veena Gupta, when questioned about the wide difference in the students enrolled with the schools and those attending classes, said a recent survey had been conducted in this regard and the details had been sent to the Directorate office in Chandigarh. When questioned about the number of students studying in double shifts, she said she did not remember the details.

The sources said the issue was not only of students alone but that of staff also. They said posting in the city was a prized one and staff teaching in government schools wanted to remain put there only whether there were any students on the rolls or not. They said in few schools teachers had themselves enrolled students on the school rolls to ensure their posting in the school remained justified. They said double shifts were continuing in Government Girls High School, Anardana Chowk, Government Victoria Girls Senior Secondary School, Government Senior Secondary School, Old Police Line, Government Co-education Senior Secondary School, Tripri, Government High School, Sanauri Gate, and Government Senior Secondary School, Ghas Mandi.

Meanwhile, students studying in double shifts will continue to suffer unless they are not adjusted in other schools which have sufficient space. Social worker Om Prakash, who was in the Education Department earlier, said parents of such children were not in a position to protest on the issue because they belonged to backward sections of society with some of them not even keen on sending their children to school regularly. He said the government must go in for rationalisation of students as well as teachers in such double shifts schools.


Students seek grace marks
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 18
Students appearing in B.Sc (IT) part II examination were baffled yesterday when they found their theory paper I on numerical methods and statistical techniques not according to pattern. The students and their parents said here today that questions carrying 25 marks were outside syllabus.

Two teachers, Prof Harwinder Chuhan and Prof Dimpy Saghotra also agreed that the paper was outside syllabus and difficult. The students and their parents demanded at least 20 grace marks.

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