Tuesday, September 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Paddy procurement not likely from Sept 21
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, September 1
The Centre Government is all set to give another jolt to the Punjab Government. It is not inclined to start the “early” procurement of paddy in the state. The state Government wanted that the procurement by the official agencies should start from September 21 instead of October 1.

A few days ago, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh , wrote to the Union Food Ministry to start the procurement of paddy from September 21.

Sources said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had refused to procure paddy early taking the plea that the moisture level would be very high in the paddy and it would not be advisable to start the procurement for various technical reasons from September 21. Because of the FCI, the state government procurement agencies will also not be able to procure paddy as they procure paddy on behalf of the FCI for the central pool.

The paddy with a high-moisture level start disfiguring very fast and because of it the quality of the rice, that is prepared from it, is also low. However, the state government says that between September 21 and October 1 about 10 lakh tonnes of paddy will arrive in the state markets.

If the procurement of paddy is not started in September, then farmers will have to sell paddy during this period at a throwaway price to traders. Even in the past, it has been seen that traders take full advantage of the absence of the official procurement agencies and exploit farmers fully by offering far less price than the minimum support price.

The source said the Managing Director of the state government procurement agencies had held a meeting with Union Ministry officials in the second week of August. Later, on August 26, senior officers of the Punjab Government held a meeting with their counterparts in the Union Government to start the procurement of paddy in September. But, the Union Government had not given any assurance in this connection yet.

The source said the Punjab Food Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, sought an appointment with the Union Food Minister on the issue of procurement long back. But till date, he had not been given any appointment by the Union Food Ministry though the receipt of his letter by the officers concerned in the Union Government had been confirmed.

The sources said because of drought, the Punjab did not face any problem with regard to the procurement of paddy last year. But this year, the situation would be totally different. The monsoon season, as per the prevailing indications, was likely to continue till the September end. So, the moisture level would continue to be on the higher side.

And even if the procurement starts from October 1, there will be problems in the procurement of paddy because of the high moisture level. As per the criteria laid down by the FCI, the moisture level in the paddy to be procured should not exceed 18 point in any case. However, under pressure of the state government, the agencies procure the paddy with a moisture level up to 21 point.

Earlier, the Union Government turned down the state government’s plea to enhance the minimum support price paddy.


Punjabi varsity students end agitation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
Agitating students of Punjabi University today lifted their week-long dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office on the intervention of Punjab Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh who said the state government would contribute money to reduce the present 15 per cent hike in fee to only 5 to 7 per cent. The varsity, however, would open only after other issues were ironed out.

However, the university authorities said they did not know anything about the assurance given by the Deputy Speaker on the fee front. Its spokesman, Dr B.S. Sandhu, said he did not want to comment on any other issue, including future negotiations with students and the fate of the suspended students. Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai was unavailable for comment.

The Deputy Speaker, who acted as an emissary of state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, held day-long parleys with both the Vice-Chancellor and student representatives. The district administration, including the Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh and the DIG, Mr IPS Sahota, were also involved in the negotiations.

Mr Birdevinder Singh announced late evening that the state government would pay money to the university to help it to reduce the fee hike in general courses. He said the university, which had brought down the fee hike to only 15 per cent more than what was charged from students in the last academic year, would now be able to reduce the hike further to only 5 to 7 per cent of last year’s fee. He said the university would, however, open once other issues were also ironed out. He said students would be allowed to sleep in the Warish Bhawan tonight and could take their luggage from the hostels tomorrow.

Even though student representatives of the Punjabi University Students Con-federation announced the immediate lifting of the virtual siege of the office of the Vice-Chancellor on the campus, along with the Deputy Speaker, the dharna was lifted late in the evening. The delay happened as the PSU (Randhawa) faction was against the lifting of the dharna and had walked out of the meeting with the Deputy Speaker.


Calcutta restrained from working as SGPC chief secretary
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission today restrained veteran Akali leader Manjit Singh Calcutta from functioning as chief secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The commission comprising Mr Manmohan Singh Brar (president), Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa (both members) has issued summons and notices to the respondents for October 10 on the basis of a petition filed by Mr Ranjit Singh, a former district president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (Rural).

The development has come as a jolt for Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra who recently took over as SGPC chief. Notices have been issued to Mr Tohra, Mr Calcutta, Mr Harbeant Singh, secretary, SGPC, and 11 other office-bearers and executive members of the SGPC.

However, Mr Calcutta claimed that the executive committee had the power to amend the bylaws for making any appointment. He also refuted all charges made in the petition.

Earlier too Mr Calcutta was restrained from functioning as secretary of the SGPC in 1999 before the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth when Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Tohra were at loggerheads.

In the petition filed under Section 142 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the petitioner sought to disqualify all respondents for five years for effecting the appointment of Mr Calcutta in ‘gross violation’ of the Act as he had already crossed the age of 60. The petitioner alleged that as per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, no person could be given extension or appointed in the SGPC beyond the age of 60 years. The bylaws read that the retirement age of the employees is fixed at 58 years and only in special cases, could extension be granted till the maximum age of 60 years.

The petitioner alleged that there was no provision for the appointment of chief secretary in the SGPC in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, rules, service rules or administrative schemes or any other document of the SGPC.

For the appointment of an employee, the post has to be advertised and published and applications have to be invited. In the present case, no such publication or advertisement was issued nor were any applications for the post sought by the SGPC. The petitioner pleaded that the appointment of Mr Calcutta is ‘arbitrary and illegal’ and liable to be set aside.

The petitioner alleged that immediately after taking over as chief secretary Mr Calcutta had deposited Rs 2.30 crore in a bank in which his son is working. However, Mr Calcutta claimed that he had not signed any document for depositing the money in the bank. He said the SGPC had already been dealing with this bank and it was just a coincidence that his son was an employee there.


Mahants oppose minister as temple board chief
Rashmi Talwar

Ram Tirath, (Amritsar), September 1
A number of mahants who claimed to be descendants of caretakers of the ancient Ram Tirath Temple for the past 500 years have opposed the nomination of Mr Sardool Singh, Minister for Excise and Taxation, as chairman of the Ram Tirath Development Board.

They alleged that the minister was supporting the Deputy Mayor, Mr Om Parkash Gabbar, who is embroiled in a legal battle with them over a property in the mandir. They alleged that the Deputy Mayor had come here two days back to “break the locks and grab the disputed property” in which the courts had favoured them.

However, the Deputy Mayor has refuted all charges.

Mahant Baldev Giri, Mahant Bhan Dass, Mahant Karas Raj and Mahant Ram Lubhaya in a joint statement decried the nomination of the minister.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, in his capacity as secretary of the Ram Tirath Development Board formed last month undertook the first preliminary survey of the temple connected with the epic Ramayan and the birth of Luv and Kush, sons of Lord Ram.

The DC told this correspondent that a “new temple” would be built in the sarovar on the pattern of the Golden Temple as part of the beautification plan. This would cost crores of rupees. He said a sum of Rs 1 crore had already been announced by the Chief Minister for its development.

The DC observed that temple development had been in a shambles for the past 30 years. Electrification of the area was urgently needed as it is used as a haven by anti-social elements and drug addicts when it becomes dark.

It is learnt that villagers indulge in illegal fishing at night. The silt of up to 3-4 feet in the sarovar is also dangerous. The parikarma is defiled with vehicles plying on it while the periphery land has been grabbed. Reports of encroachment of circular road around on the outskirts of the temple have also been received.

The DC said the board would hold a meeting on September 8 to chalk out the plan for the ancient temple. The plan includes the replacement of damaged/worn out sandstone in the parikarma at a cost of Rs 72 lakh, illumination at Rs 16 lakh, installation of two deep tubewells for drinking water and filling of the holy sarovar (Rs 20 lakh), construction of concrete parking (Rs 29 lakh), construction of four toilet blocks at Rs 27 lakh and improvement of the periphery road at Rs 40 lakh.


Rare jewels displayed at Golden Temple

Amritsar, September 1
The SGPC today displayed rare items dating back to the 15 to the 18 century inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple here today amid tight security to mark the festival of 399th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib. Scores of devotees from across the nation thronged the Golden Temple to have a glimpse of priceless historical costume jewellery.

According to SGPC sources, the display of rare items, known as “jlau”, has its own pristine grandeur. This ancient jewellery is kept in a guarded “tosha khana” (jewellery room) of the Golden Temple but is displayed on rare occasions. The “tosha khana” is related to the life and era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

There is a canopy of gold weighing about 20 pounds. On top of the canopy is a peacock will a neck of pure sapphire in a single piece. According to estimates, the sapphire would not be less than Rs 4 million.

The eyes of the peacock are made of diamonds. Overall, the canopy is studded with 3600 diamonds and 101 big pearls.

Under it, there is a diamond headband with strings of pearls. Jewellers from Lahore had made it on the marriage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Naunihal Singh. Impressed by its art and beauty, the Maharaja presented it as an offerings to the Golden Temple. At that time, it cost around Rs 9 lakh.

Then there are two “chanwars” (fly whisks) one has a silver handle, and was presented by the head priest of Dargah Ajmer Sharief on the occasion of the birth centenary of Baba Sheikh Farid. The other fly whisk is made of gold.

Apart from this, there is a sword of Maharaja Ranjit Sing. Its hilt is of pure gold studded with pearls and emeralds.

There are five necklaces, a small canopy and a ring with a sapphire in the middle and eight diamonds around it. Princess Bamba granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, had presented it.

Besides these, there are jewels from the house of General Dhana Singh Malwai, a general in the army of the Maharaja.

In the early 90s, an American Sikh who came here to pay obeisance presented a pearl necklace of three strings and three diamonds. A box lying in the “tosha khana” contains a fly whisk made of pure sandalwood presented by a Turkish Muslim, Haji Maskeen.

The last item is a canopy of cloth studded with diamonds. The Nizam of Hyderabad presented it to Maharaja Ranjit Singh who in turn offered it at the Golden Temple.

The smallest stone in the canopy costed Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 at that time. — PTI


Money transfer postal service extended to rural areas
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Three years after testing itself in the market of International Money Transfer Service (IMTS) being provided in association with the Western Union, a leading financial services company, the Indian Postal Department is extending the service to the rural and semi-urban areas of Punjab.

In the first six months of the current year, an amount of over Rs 96 lakh was transacted through the postal centres in Punjab and Chandigarh.

In the Punjab circle, comprising Punjab and Chandigarh, the facility of receiving money from abroad has been extended at 100 more post offices. The new centres will be in addition to 101 centres already functional in the state.

To run the new centres, at least 100 fax machines are being sent by the Uttar Pradesh circle of the department. However, the upper limit of receiving the transaction (in cash) remains at Rs 50,000.

Sources in the Postal Department reveal that the service was being extended on the basis of survey conducted in the NRI-dominated belts as postal officers found that the potential was being tapped by private agents on their own terms and conditions.

Already 15,000 private operators, approved by the Western Union, were in direct competition with the department, said a senior officer in the Punjab circle of the department. In the Punjab circle, the service was started with three post offices in April 2001.

During the survey, the offices found that the NRIs who want to send money to their relatives and business counterparts preferred the centres of the Postal Department.

Even the clients in the rural and semi-urban areas preferred the centres of the department due to reliability and proximity to their place of living.

The Post Master General, Punjab circle, Mrs Manjula Prashar, said for the customers who were regularly receiving money through the IMTS, the post offices had now started a scheme to issue loyalty cards to facilitate their identification. The recipient had to know the money transfer control number given to him by the sender to download the payment.

Mrs Prashar said all Senior Superintendents of Post Offices had been asked to hold customers meetings in their respective subdivisions and get the feedback of the public.

For the current year, the Postal Department has fixed a target of 6,000 transactions — four times more than the transactions carried out in the previous year.


5,000 outlets in 2 years

The International Money Transfer Service Scheme (IMTS) which started with 93 centres in April, 2001, carried out 93 transactions.

The number has grown to 5,000 postal outlets with 9,783 transactions till July, 2003.

An amount of Rs 20.10 crore has so far been transferred through the IMTS.

The Punjab circle has been placed at the sixth position among all postal circles in terms of the total transactions carried out per month.


Congress will win all 13 seats, says Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 1
“We want to see Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC President, as the next Prime Minister and even though there may be minor differences over the style of functioning in the state, we will contest the coming Lok Sabha elections as a well-knit and united party. We will win all the 13 seats in Punjab,” said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development, Panchayats and Agriculture Minister, Punjab at a press conference. The Social Welfare Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, was also present.

She bemoaned that too much was being read into her meeting with Mrs Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi recently.

When asked if she wanted to be the Chief Minister, instead asking the mediapersons what they thought of the working of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government.

She alleged that the case of misappropriation of Rs 20 lakh against her was a conspiracy. When asked who had hatched the conspiracy against her, she equipped that time would tell as truth was bound to come out. She also denied that Akali MLAs were in touch with her. “I am in touch with MLAs of my own party, she asserted.

Mrs Bhattal declared that powers would be devolved to panchayats from October 2. “We had decided in 1992 that 29 departments will be transferred to the panchayats. We will do it in phased manner by initially transferring four departments”, she informed. The Cabinet subcommittee had cleared the proposal and the Cabinet would soon give its approval to this devolution of powers, she remarked.

She claimed that contract farming and crop diversification were getting a good response. “Our target has already exceeded as three lakh acres had been brought under contract farming. Fourteen projects will be undertaken next year to pull out farmers from the wheat-paddy cycle”, she claimed.


Party to decide on no-confidence motion, says Badal

Phagwara, September 1
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal today said that the line of action to be adopted in the state assembly session beginning September-end would be decided at the party’s meeting to be convened a few days ahead of the monsoon session.

Asked if his party will bring a no-confidence motion against the Amarinder Singh government, Mr Badal told reporters here that the party meeting would decide in this case.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha alleged that the law and order had completely collapsed in the state and development had come to a “grinding halt”.

“Capt Amarinder Singh suffers from Akali phobia and had only one-point agenda of harassing Akalis, including me and my family,” he said.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had hijacked an Akali agenda of more powers to states and genuine federation.

“Akalis were the first in the country to raise this demand but now the entire, country, including Cong-ressmen, had adopted this demand even though the Congress had called Akalis separatists for raising this demand,” he said.

Showing ignorance about the scrapping of the blacklist of 22 Sikhs of Canada, Mr Badal, however, claimed that the BJP-led NDA government was keen and broadminded to remove restrictions on NRI Sikhs who were blacklisted in the wake of the ‘Operation Blue Star’ of 1984.

“A liberal approach should be adopted to wards such Sikhs. These Sikhs should be allowed to visit their homeland and I, myself, will take up this matter with the Centre.” — PTI


It’s up to Cong to choose its leader, says Yechury
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
An effective Opposition front is the need of the hour to prevent divisions in society along communal lines as the NDA government is following a communal agenda which is dangerous for the country. This was stated by Mr Sita Ram Yechury, member of the CPM Politburo, from Andhra Pradesh, here today.

Talking to the media at a function to chart out a programme for the formation of a committee to hold the seventh all-India conference of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) at Amritsar from November 6 to 9, Mr Yechury said it was unfortunate that the NDA government was pursuing agendas of only mandir, uniform civil code, etc that lead to communal flare-ups and while ignoring glaring problems.

About the acceptability of Ms Sonia Gandhi as the country’s Prime Minister even as the CPM was looking for a tie-up with the Congress to form an effective Opposition front, Mr Yechury said it was up to any party to choose its leader.

Answering a question on the failure of the no-confidence motion in Parliament which was largely perceived to be a move to project Ms Gandhi as an aggressive Opposition leader, Mr Yechury clarified that it (motion) was merely to highlight the agenda which the ruling government was ignoring and “not for the purpose of fall of the government”.


Security for today’s BJP-SAD rally
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 1
The district administration has made elaborate security arrangements for the joint rally of BJP-SAD being held at Shalla Pattan in this border district tomorrow.

Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for External Affairs, and Prof Brij Lal Rinwa said the rally would be held as per schedule despite ‘hurdles’ being created by the Gurdaspur police. Mr Arun Malhotra, officer on duty to Mr Khanna, alleged that BJP workers were being intimidated. He said a ‘curfew-like’ situation had been created at the site of proposed rally.

Mr Khanna claimed that more than one lakh activists of the BJP would assemble at the rally which would give a call to oust the Capt Amarinder Singh government. He alleged that the state government had failed on all fronts and Capt Amarinder Singh had a one-point agenda to settle political scores.

Mr Rinwa announced that the BJP would publish a ‘white paper’ on the ‘misdeeds’ of the state government.


Voting list for SGPC poll on Sept 15
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 1
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, today stated that the revised voting list for the SGPC poll would be made public on September 15.

He said people could file claims and objections upto September 20. The revised lists would be published on January 2.


Baby girl found abandoned in gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
In a bizarre incident, a newly born baby girl was found abandoned in the local Gobind fort gurdwara by a devotee this morning.

Police sources said after registering a case in this connection at the city police station, a search for the parents of the baby girl had been started. Inquiries were being made from the maternity homes situated in the city.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president, of Sahara Jan Sewa, a social organisation, which has been looking after the baby girl, who is just 24 hours old, said about 15 families of the city had approached him to adopt her. He added that a medical examination of the baby girl had been conducted and she had been found fit.

In another case, Kulwinder Singh, a resident of Chand Bhan village of Faridkot district, today committed suicide by jumping before a running train. In yet another case, a Sadhu, who was suffering from TB, died today and his body was cremated by volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa.

A youth, who was hooked to drugs and was suffering from diabetes, also died today. Though volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa had been providing him with medicines for the treatment of diabetes, the deceased had been purchasing doses of addiction by selling the medicines. His body was cremated by volunteers of the organisation with all religious rites.


Think tanks vital for policy, says ex-DGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The government’s approach to rely solely on inputs from the bureaucracy and politicians for framing a policy on matters of national importance is incorrect. Instead, the government should be open to inputs from think tanks.

Mr P.C. Dogra, a former Director-General of Police, Punjab, said here today that “we do not have a culture of getting inputs on policy matters from think tanks. “The government should encourage think tanks and assign specific tasks to such organisations,”. He gave the example of the USA, where there are hundreds of think tanks providing inputs to the government on policy matters.

Mr Dogra, who is the founder of the Forum on Integrated National Security here, disclosed that the forum was organising a two-day seminar on ‘Integrated Management of National Security’ on September 27 and 28. The seminar would be a step towards seeking transparency in the government formulation of policies on national security and also to create public awareness about matters of national interest.

Former Defence and Home Secretary N.N. Vohra, currently the Centre’s representative for Jammu and Kashmir, and former Chief of the Army Staff, Gen V.N. Sharma, besides military analysts, internal security experts and other military, police and IAS officers who had held key appointments during their service tenures would present papers at the seminar.

Expressing concern over the proxy war by Pakistan in the form of terrorism and intrusion of spies into India, Mr Dogra said the aim of the forum was to study all aspects of national security in an integrated manner, encompassing the armed forces, paramilitary forces, bureaucrats, politicians, police, scientists, the media, and the intelligentsia.


200 posts of Inspector (Audit) vacant
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
The Punjab State Cooperative Audit Staff Association has urged the Punjab Government to fill about 200 vacant posts of Inspector (Audit) lying vacant for more than a year in the Punjab Cooperative Audit Department.

The demand was made at a meeting of the association, held under the presidentship of Mr H.K. Bhagwan Dass, state president of the association, here yesterday.

Mr Jagdip Singh, state general secretary of the association, said out of 722 posts of Inspector (Audit) in the department, about 200 posts were lying vacant. The burden of work on the audit staff had increased manifold as the inspectors did audit of many cooperative departments like Punjab Agriculture Department Bank (PADB, Markfed, Spinfed, Sugarfed and Milkfed, etc.

Mr Jagdip Singh further said that as many as 16 posts of Senior Auditor were also lying vacant in the department. He demanded that these posts should soon be filled by promoting Inspectors (Audit) to remove stagnation in the cadre.

He also said the government should also create new posts of Inspector (Audit) in view of the continuously increasing work.


Judges’ delegation to visit Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
A high-level delegation of nine judges will visit Pakistan on a goodwill mission from September 3. They will enter Pakistan through the Wagah joint checkpost. The delegates will also call on President Pervez Musharraf and chief justices of various high courts of Pakistan.

According to Mr B.M. Vinayak, a member of the Bar Council, Punjab and Haryana High Court, the delegation will remain in Pakistan till September 11. Before proceeding to Wagah border, the delegation will pay their obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana temple.

The delegation comprises Justice G.T. Nanawati, Chairman of the Godhra Riots Commission and retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Faizanuddin, a retired judge of the Supreme Court and former Lok Ayukta of Madhya Pradesh, Justice A.P. Misra, Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission, Justice A.N. Diocha, Chairman of the Expert Committee on Environment, Gujarat, Justice D.S. Towatia, former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice Mohammad Shamim, Lok Ayukta of Dehli and member of the Central Waqf Council, Justice O.P. Garg, Vice-Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Justice S.I. Jafri, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court, and Mr Adish C Aggarwal, Vice-Chairman of the Bar Council of India and senior Central Government counsel.

About 150 judges and lawyers from Pakistan will receive the delegates at the Wagah border. The visit of the delegation is aimed at promoting cordiality and cooperation between the citizens of the two neighbouring countries.

The delegates will also visit the Lahore high court, Sindh high court, Baluchistan high court and the Pakistan Bar Council.


Broken roads, rising accidents
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
Be extra vigilant while driving or walking on roads of this city. A little laxity can land you in hospital.

The condition of roads in the city have come to a point where one finds it difficult even to walk, leave aside drive, here. Poor drainage system, accumulating rain water and attitude of the authorities concerned have caused it all. In pockets, large pieces of main roads have disappeared and one cannot find single 10-m stretch without potholes.

The Bathinda-Goniana road, Bathinda-Barnala road, Barnala bypass, Bathinda-Mansa road, 100-foot Sector Road and Bhatti Road are among the roads that have seen major portions get washed away in the rains. Some of the freshly recarpeted roads have also developed cracks.

City doctors in emergency rooms told TNS that 95 per cent of the accidents were happening due to the bad condition of roads. Victims suffered bone injuries, disc displacement and spinal injuries.

Earlier stray animals were a major source of road accidents and now it is roads. One has to drive at near zero speed, that too with utmost care, to reach home safe. Potholes on roads have made short distances seem long.

Mr Subhash Kumar Laherewala, a senior Congress leader and former member, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, said even streets were in a bad shape. Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, president, Punjab Young Farmers Federation (PYFF), said politicians had disappointed citizens on fronts like potable water, sewerage, motorable roads and uninterrupted power supply.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, when contacted said the civic body would start repairing the roads after the rains. He said there were three major roads, one national highway and two state highways that passed through this city and were in a bad shape. The repair and maintenance of these roads was the responsibility of the Public Works Department, Punjab. The repair of the Bathinda-Goniana road (national highway portion) would start by the end of this month.


Bandh held against NFL selloff
Our Correspondent

Nangal, September 1
The residents of Nangal today observed a two-hour bandh to protest against the proposed disinvestment of National Fertilisers Ltd (NFL). The bandh, which was observed from 9 am to 11 am, received a tremendous response from the local resident with most of the business establishments and shops remaining closed. The NFL Bachao Samiti comprising employees NFL and the local residents gave the call for the bandh.

A rally was also held in which hundreds of residents participated. It was led by the president of the NFL Officers Association, Mr K.R. Arya. They raised slogans against the NDA government and the Union Disinvestment Minister, Mr Arun Shourie. They also blocked traffic on the Nangal-Chandigarh state highway for about 15 minutes. Members of the NFL Bachao Samiti also burned the effigy of Mr Shourie. Mr Arya while talking to this correspondent said the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had endorsed the demand of NFL workers.

The privatisation of NFL, which is the largest producer of fertilisers in the country, might lead to an increase in prices of fertilisers that would adversely affect the economy of Punjab, he said.

The NFL Bachao Samiti will organise a rally tomorrow against the disinvestment of the company.


Drive to identify STD patients launched
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 1
The District Health Department has launched a fortnight-long drive today to identify patients affected with sexually transmitted disease (STDs) in the district. Inaugurating the campaign at Sadiq village, 15 km from here, today, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said over 150 health workers' teams had been constituted to detect such patients.

During the stipulated period, the teams will visit inhabitants of both the rural and the urban areas in this connection. To make the plan a success, nearly 100 camps will also be organised from September 8 to 22 in the villages and the towns to provide medicines free of cost to the needy to facilitate an early recovery, said the Deputy Commissioner.

He said more than 40 lakh people were affected with AIDS, HIV and other serious diseases and needed immediate medical help. He appealed to the residents of the area to cooperate with the visiting teams in the interest of society.

Mr Lal said the district Blindness Society had also started a special campaign to detect blindness cases and provide medical aid to the affected in the district. A target had been fixed to help 6,500 patients free of cost during the current financial year in the district. The Deputy Commissioner has also appealed to the needy people to take blood from the blood bank of Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here and the Civil Hospital, Kot Kapura since it is safe for the patients.


Sales tax evasion on crackers detected
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
The local Sales Tax authorities have detected an alleged case of sales tax evasion and received Rs 4.50 lakh as security for the release of fireworks from a firm of Sulargharat village near Dirba yesterday. The total value of the fireworks (two truckloads of these) is said to be about Rs 9 lakh.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Sangrur, said today that a party of sales tax officials, led by Mr K.S. Chehal, ETO, Sangrur, impounded two truckloads of fireworks near Dirba, about 26 km from here, the previous day.

He said on checking the documents of the goods, it was found that the firm had not got the documents entered at the Punjab sales tax barrier. The trucks had been carrying firework items to Sulargharat from Shivakashi, known for manufacturing of fireworks.

Mr Chehal, ETO, Sangrur, said the fireworks belonged to Gandhi General Store, Sulargharat. The trucks entered Punjab through an escape route to evade sales tax. He said he along with Inspector Ram Singh checked the trucks near Dirba the previous day and detected evasion of sales tax.

Mr Chehal further said after the payment of security by the owners for the release of fireworks, both trucks had been released the previous day.

He said now he would submit this case before the AETC, Sangrur, to take a final decision regarding the alleged evasion of sales tax.


Roadways workers’ stir from Sept 8
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 1
Criticising the Congress government for pursuing anti-employee policies, the Punjab Roadways Workers Union, affiliated to INTUC, today said a statewide agitation would be launched from September 8 in protest against the failure of the government to accept its demands.

According to Mr Gopal Singh Pal, general secretary, of the union, the union had held meetings with the Punjab Transport Minister, Mr Tejparkash Singh, and senior officials during the past over a year for the replacement of 200 buses.

“In fact, Rs 20 crore has been earmarked in the Budget for the purchase of 200 buses during the current financial year, however, nothing has been done in this regard,” he said.

“The state government’s move to close down 10 roadways depots will be opposed by the union as employees, of three divisional roadways offices, that were closed about six months ago had not been absorbed,” he said.

The union would hold rallies at all bus stands on September 8 and burn the effigy of the state Finance Secretary on September 18.


Leaf from history
Quila Mubarak
Jangveer Singh

After Ala Singh christened the "patti" (piece of land) he had annexed from the mughals as Patiala, he set about to make a 'pucca' fort from octroi collected on merchandise passing through his territory on the Grand Trunk road. This fort came to be known as the Quila Mubarak.

The fort later developed into a huge complex as it was expanded by successive kings. During Baba Ala's period construction on the part of the fort which is today known as 'Quila Androon' started. This was mainly a residential quila with a fortified wall surrounding it. Around this started developing the present city of Patiala around the fort.

Started by Ala Singh, the Quila Androon was completed by Maharaja Amar Singh (1765 - 1781). Following this other kings built buildings alongside the Quila Androon to complete the Quila Mubarak complex as it is known today. Maharaja Sahib Singh ( 1781 - 1813), Maharaja Karam Singh (1813 - 1845) and Maharaja Narinder Singh (1845 - 1862) resided in the Quila. After this Maharaja Rajinder Singh shifted to the Rajindra Kothi in the Baradari gardens following which the Quila Androon became a residence quarter for the royal women.

Interesting structures came up outside the Quila Androon lending character as well as a stately majesty to the entire complex. This included the Ran Was (a guest house), Darbar Hall, Jalau Khana (exhibition hall) and the Sard Khana (which has underground basements for avoiding the hot weather). All theses buildings are different from each other due to the time gap as well as the increase in English influence on the traditional building style of the Quila Androon which was heavily inspired by Rajputana architecture.

If we would envisage the Quila Mubarak complex as it stands today, we enter from its only entrance made of sandstone with a huge gate. Buggies would stop at the entrance from which the royal guests descended. As one entered the gate one came into a courtyard. The Ranwas is on the left, the Durbar Hall on a elevated plane on the right and the Quila Androon gate dead ahead. The Jalau Khana is further on the right of the Quila Androon bastions while the Sard Khana is at its back.

If one is to go into the Quila Androon one has to pass another solid masonry gateway with stuccowork. Following this one small opening leads into the Quila Androon. Upon entry into this opening one is surprised as one as to take another right turn leading to another open courtyard upon which another gate which is to lead us to another level awaits in front. In fact the Quila Androon is built as a multiple courtyard type building with each courtyard being denoted as a palace. Public courts and residential courts are separated from each other.

Among the major courts is the Rang Mahal and a screen separates it from the other more public courts. This building has an elaborately painted chamber with a small alcove indicating it might have been used by the king to give royal audience. The court adjoining the Rang Mahal is the Sheesh Mahal which is bar far the most important building of the Quila. It houses two elaborately painted rooms on the ground floor, a fountain in the open courtyard, numerous rooms with elaborate windows on the first floor and a painted chamber on the second floor. This chamber is connected to a residential court which for all purposes seems to be the residential quarters for royalty. Other interesting buildings in the Quila Androon complex include a completely western building on the first floor with gothic arches which was meant as a residence for a English woman taken on as a Rani by one of the kings of the Patiala State.

The Quila is also characterised by a solid platform of brick which goes up to its highest level. On top of this rests the ''jyot", the sacred flame that Baba Ala Singh, the founder of the dynasty, got from Jwalamukhi. This ''jyot'', also called ''dhuni'' because it is actually a slow fire, continues in be lit since it was installed at the Quila. A gurdwara and a temple are housed adjoining the ''jyot''. Legend has it that Patiala is safe till the "jyot'' keeps burning and it because of this that men are employed 24 hours a day to ensure this. The members of the erstwhile royal family congregate at the ''jyot'' every year on the birth anniversary of Baba Ala to commemorate the man who made the dynasty possible.


Chhinj Mela concludes
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Babehali-Pathankot, September 1
The Chhinj Mela which started here yesterday concluded today.

Punjab Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa inaugurated the fair while Mr Khushal Behal, another minister, inaugurated the rural games session.

According to Mr Gurbhchan Singh Babehali, Chairman, Punjab Milkfed and president of the Chhinj Mela, the fair was started about three centuries ago at a mazar (mosque) in the centre of the village of Baba Lakh Data, a renowned saint of the area.

The festival had a small beginning. But it soon emerged as a symbol of Punjab’s vibrant folk culture.

Today’s celebrations were inaugurated by a Punjab minister, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, who announced a grant of Rs 50000 for the mela committee. Rural games were also organised.

In the cultural programme Amrita Virk, Harpal and party, Kanwaljit Kanwal, J.P. Singh Baboo and other artistes from various parts of the country participated. Thousands of men, women and children attended the fair.


Procurement price of milk hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Punjab Government today jacked up the procurement price of milk by 62 paise per litre, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister, said here today. Milk is procured by Milkfed mostly through milk cooperative societies in the state.

Earlier, the farmgate price of milk had been increased by 30 paise per litre. Since 1999, the milk price had been going down. It was Rs 9.90 in 1999 and Rs 9.60 per litre in 2001 and 2002. With the increase of 62 paise, the price of milk would be around Rs 10.50 per litre at the farmgate level.


FCI stir from tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Members of the FCI Executive Staff Union (affiliated with BMS) have decided to launch an agitation on September 3 in protest against the indifferent attitude of the zonal management towards their demands.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Megh Raj, regional secretary of the state unit of the union, alleged that the FCI management had been issuing charge sheets to employees for natural operation losses beyond human control.

The demands of the union included suitable jobs for next of kin of those who had died in harness, recruitment of category II and IV staff and promotion of category III and IV employees.


Rajput Sabha to fight social evils
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 1
A meeting of the representatives of various Rajput Sabhas of Punjab was held here yesterday in which more than 250 members from all over the state participated. The following were elected the new office-bearers of the Punjab Rajput Sabha: chairman — Thakur Onkar Singh (Jalandhar); vice-chairman — Thakur Kala Singh (Pathankot); president — Col K. Mohinder Singh (Hoshiarpur); and general secretary — Thakur Rai Singh Raju (Dasuya).

It was decided to frame a constitution of the Punjab Rajput Sabha and launch a campaign against social evils.


Saplings planted

Ropar, September 1
The authorities of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) Ropar, observed vanmahotsava by planting saplings in the thermal plant area.

In a press note issued here today, the Chief Engineer said 2500 medicinal plants would be planted in the thermal plant area. OC


High Court
Plea seeking reconduct of PCS exams dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a petition seeking directions for re-evaluating or re-conducting the examinations to Punjab Civil Services (Executive Branch).

In their petition taken up by a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, Mr Gurbax Singh and several other candidates had earlier asserted that the written test was not conducted as per the rules in the brochure.

Giving details, the petitioners had added that contrary to the rules there was no negative marking. The exams, initially held in 1998, were cancelled following the unearthing of the PPSC recruitment scam. The preliminary examination was again conducted on April 27.

Taking up the case, the High Court had initially directed the respondents to file an affidavit regarding negative marking in the examinations recently conducted. After hearing the arguments and going through the documents, the judges, however, dismissed the petition. The text of the judgement was not yet available.

Pak children

In a habeas corpus petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a human rights organisation on Monday sought directions for the release of Pakistani children from Faridkot’s juvenile home.

Taking up the petition, a Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, asked Punjab Advocate-General to seek instructions from the department concerned. The court also fixed September 10 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The World Human Rights Protection Council, through Mr Ranjay Lakhanpal, had earlier submitted in their petition that eight Pakistani children were languishing in the juvenile home after they had inadvertently strayed in the India territory.



District TB Officer gets bail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
Dr Mitterpal Devgun District TB Officer, who was arrested by the police for allegedly tampering with government records to eliminate the evidence of having held two government posts simultaneously, was released on bail by the court of Mr M.R. Batra, Sessions Judge, here today. He was arrested on August 23.


10 power board employees suspended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 1
Ten employees of the PSEB (Gurdaspur circle) have been suspended following charges of embezzlement, wrong shifting of tubewells connections and transmission line, accepting bribe and negligence, Mr S.K. Duggal, Superintending Engineer, said today.

He said an inquiry against six cashiers who had been misusing money was still on. There were complaints that some cashiers had received payment against bills but had not deposited the same in the board’s account. Complaints had also been received that some cashiers in the rural areas were not stamping bills.


Charred body of woman found at home
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
A woman, Shakti Baa (25), was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her house here last night by her husband and other members of the family. She had died of burns.

It seems Shakti Baa and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter were the only ones in the house when she got burnt. All others in the family, including Balbir Kumar, her husband, were at the snack shop of Balbir near Patiala Gate here.

When they returned home at about 10 last night, they knocked the door, but got no response from inside. At this, they knocked down the door and found the woman dead.

The police said it had initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC as it was difficult to tell whether it was suicide or accidental death.


Tata Sumo recovered from 3 thieves
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 1
Mr Harminder Pal Singh Bains, SP(D), told mediapersons here yesterday said that the local police led by Mr Charanjit Singh, DSP and Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, SHO (City), had nabbed a gang of three thieves — Gurbaksh Singh of Jalalpur village, Satwant Singh of Machhiwara village and Jarnail Singh of Thathiala village. They had allegedly driven off with a Tata Sumo after shooting at its driver Jasbir Singh of SAS Nagar on August 27, near Mehatpur Ulladhani village. They had hired the Tata Sumo from the taxi stand near the PGI, Chandigarh.

The police has recovered the stolen Tata Sumo, two pistols and five cartridges from them.

They have allegedly confessed their involvement in the incidents of snatching a purse containing Rs 30,000 from a woman at Nehru Gate here on May 8 and the theft of a tractor at Ropar.

The SP(D) further said four persons — Balbir Singh, Maggar Singh (residents of district Una, Himachal Pradesh), Sheetal Singh of Sangrur and Guggi of Uchcha Pind village in Fatehgarh Sahib district — had been arrested for looting cash, gold and silver ornaments worth Rs 90,000 from Suraj Kund Dera near Rahon, a few months ago.


Former Ranji player held for fraud
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 1
The local police has unearthed a new kind of racket, with the arrest of Malkiat Singh of Gobindpuri under the Kalkaji police station, New Delhi for duping youth through his New Sports Club for sending them abroad as sportspersons.

The travel agent is a former Ranji Trophy player, who played in 1979-80, said the SP, Harmanvir Singh Gill in a press note. Malkiat Singh also has a cable network in Delhi.

Under the garb of his sports club, the travel agent had defrauded Purshotam Lal of Dhak Pandori village under the Sadar police station, Phagwara, of Rs 5,75,000, promising to send him to the USA. A case under Sections 406/420 of the IPC and Section 24 of the Immigration Act was registered against the accused, added Mr Gill.


2 travel agents arrested
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 1
The Bholath police has registered a case under Sections 420, and 426, IPC, against Bakshish Singh and his son Gurbinder Singh, travel agents of Zaid village, for depriving Pritam Singh of Lamme village of Rs 8 lakh on the pretext of sending him to Canada.

In a press note issued today, Mr L.K. Yadav, SP said Pritam Singh in a complaint alleged that Bakshish Singh Gurbinder Singh took Rs 8 lakh and his passport in 2001 but did not send him to Canada nor returned his money. On the intervention of the panchayat the travel agents agreed to return Rs 4.50 lakh, but failed to do so.

The Bholath police has also arrested Sukhdev Singh Begowal village on a charge of obtaining a second fake passport in the name of his brother. A case under Sections 420, 461, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC, has been registered against Sukhdev Singh.


Cyclist killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 1
A cyclist Dara Singh (65), resident of Lalughuman village, died on the spot and his grand son Kuldeep Singh (9) was injured seriously in a road accident last evening. The police has registered a case under Sections 304A, and 279, IPC, against the driver of a tempo, that was allegedly responsible for the accident.

Kuldeep Singh has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


Agitating students block highway
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
Members of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) and students of Akal Degree College, Mastuana Sahib, today burnt the effigy of Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor S.S. Boparai in front of the college’s main gate on the Sangrur-Barnala road, about 5 km from here. They were protesting against hike in the university fees and suspension of agitating student leaders.

They also blocked the national highway near the college for about 15 minutes and raised slogans against the Punjabi University authorities. They alleged that the Vice-Chancellor was using all means to crush the students’ agitation.

Sanjiv Mintoo, state secretary of the PRSU; Sukhcharanpreet and Sukhwinder Singh, district president and secretary, respectively, of the PRSU; Resham Singh, a student leader of Akal Degree College; and student leader Parminder Singh said the university had locked its hostels and ousted students from there.

NABHA: The Punjab Students Union (PSU) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) jointly held a demonstration in front of Ripuduman College, Nabha, and burnt an effigy of the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University and the WTO.


College students block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
Students of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) today blocked vehicular traffic in front of the college on the Bathinda-Dabwali national highway for two hours to press for the acceptance of their demands to withdraw discriminatory conditions laid down by the Punjab Technical University (PTU).

The students, who raised slogans against the university authorities, said that the university had made rules under which students who had got compartment in the first semester exams would not be allowed to take the fifth semester exams in the third year of the professional course. Similarly students who had got compartment in the second semester exams, would not be allowed to take the sixth semester examinations. The rule was enforced in 2001.

They said the rule was playing havoc with their future. On the other hand, the students who had got admission before 2001 had not faced the problem.

They added that the students, who would take an additional year under these conditions would have a different syllabus than the students who had entered in the fifth semester without any break. Apart from it, the PTU had not made any arrangements for separate classes for the students of the same but with different syllabus.

They added that they would intensify the agitation if the PTU authorities did not change the rule and restore the credit rule.


Administrator sought to manage college
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
Alleging “mismanagement” and financial irregularities” in Guru Gobind Singh College, Sanghera (Barnala), the college unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has sought from the Punjab Government the appointment of an administrator for the better management of the college. At present, this government-aided college is being run by a managing committee.

This demand has been made by the PCCTU’s unit of Sanghera College in a memorandum set to the Punjab Higher Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar.

The memorandum states that the college has been passing through a financial crisis because college funds being “misused and misappropriated” with impunity.

The PCCTU unit has also alleged that the cancellation of the examination centre of the college by Punjabi University, Patiala, on May 1,2003, was the result of encouragement and patronage to the menace of mass copying for the past many years by some members of the managing committee and college authorities. The unit has demanded a probe into the cancellation of the examination centre.

In the memorandum, it is also alleged that the grant-in- aid for the aided posts is being “misused” for many unaided posts. It is also stated that the teaching staff have not been paid salaries for the past six or seven months, though it is the duty and responsibility of the managing committee. The PCCTU unit has also demanded an immediate end to the “victimisation” of Prof P.K. Sharma, a lecturer of this college, by saying that he has been victimised by college authorities for raising his voice for due and genuine demands of the teaching staff.


ABVP flays privatisation of education
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 1
The state unit of the ABVP today criticised the proposed move to include education under the purview of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) during coming ministry-level talks in Mexico.

Mr Subash Sharma, general secretary of the ABVP, while addressing the students at Dayanand Ayurvedic College here at a seminar on “Impact of globalisation on education,” alleged that the government was fast privatising the education sector under the dictates of international lending agencies. The decision had severely hit the interests of bright students belonging to poor families, he said.

He further said that during the past decade of globalisation in the country, unemployment had risen to frightening levels touching the 3.5 crore mark in 2001-2002.

He appealed to the student community to participate in the September 2 rally at Delhi in overwhelming numbers to protest against the “anti-student” policies of the government.


S.S. Boparai a failure, says Dayal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Secretary of Punjab CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said today that the state government should review its decision about the appointment of superannuated bureaucrats as the heads of educational institutions such as Punjabi University.

He said the Vice-Chancellor of the Punjabi University, Mr S.S. Boparai, had proved a big failure. He had been treating students as his employers forgetting that he was now posted in a University where one had to maintain a teacher-taught relationship with students.

Dr Dayal said the comments made by Mr Boparai about the left organisations were in bad taste. These clearly indicated that Vice-Chancellor had a contemptuous attitude towards the Leftists.

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