Friday, October 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong sees Badal hand in lathi charge
Amarinder curbing democracy, say CPI, BKU
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, October 2
Mr H.S. Hanspal, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, today said the farmers’ struggle was needless and they should try to solve their problems through talks.

“What was need for farmers to resort to agitation when the matter was being looked into by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and talks were on to resolve the matter,” said Mr Hanspal, during his chat with newsmen here.

Without naming any political party, Mr Hanspal said a number of political forces were out to take political advantage of the farmers’ struggle. Blaming the Centre for adopting a policy of discrimination towards Punjab, Mr Hanspal said most of the demands being raised by farmers were linked with the Centre. On his part, the Punjab Chief Minister was striving to resolve the matter by taking up all such issues with the Centre. “Sugarcane arrears of crores of rupees can only be paid if the Centre allows the state to sell the levy sugar,” said Mr Hanspal.

Mr Hanspal said he was not aware if farmers had been lathi-charged at Bathinda. “Sometimes to maintain law and order, the police is forced to take such steps,” he said.

Mr Hanspal also claimed that the state government would ensure a smooth procurement of paddy.

At Bathinda, Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu, Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today condemned the lathi charge on the agitating farmers at the Bhai Bakhtaur railway crossing and demanded that the police officials responsible for this incident be punished.

Mr Sandhu, a confidante of former Union Minister Buta Singh, told TNS that the state bureaucracy and police had overstepped their authority and acted on the directions of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to defame the Congress government. Mr Sandhu said the Congress government had never directed any police official to smash the legs of any activist.

He said he would urge the president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal to set up a committee to investigate yesterday’s incident.

Some farmers were severely injured during the protest at the railway crossing against the refusal of the district administration to hand over the body of Gurdev Singh, who had been runover by a goods train, during the Rail and Rasta Roko agitation on September 30.

Mr Sandhu said he had come to know that a senior police official had smashed the leg of Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan).

He said during his visit to the injured farmers in hospital, he had assured them the guilty would not be spared. He said the Punjab Government expressed regret over yesterday’s incident and condemned it strongly.

Meanwhile, the CPI and Bharti Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan) today decided to continue their struggle “to save the peasantry of Punjab from economic ruin”.

A decision to this effect was taken when Dr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, and Mr Hardev Arshi, a former MLA, met Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, BKU Ekta (Ugrahan) in civil hospital here where the latter is under treatment after he got his leg fractured during the lathi charge.

Dr Dyal and Mr Arshi said the lathi charge showed that the Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh was trying to curb democracy in the state. They said the Chief Minister should explain to the people why he had not been implementing the party manifesto and instead resorting to ordering a lathi charge on the protesting farmers.

They also met the farmers who had been injured in yesterday’s lathi charge.


BJP panel to probe farmer’s death
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, October 2
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, newly elected state president of the Punjab BJP, the Punjab condemned the lathi charge on agitating farmers by the police at Bathinda on October 1 and the killing of a farmer during dharna near the Bhai Bakhtaur level crossing on September 30.

He demanded a judicial inquiry into the incidents.

Mr Khanna was addressing his first press conference here after becoming the state BJP president this evening. He said that he had constituted a three-member fact-finding committee to probe the incidents.

He said that 17 youths of Punjab were in Sri Lanka jails. He had met Mr Vinod Khanna, Union State Minister for External Affairs, for getting them released.

Mr Khanna said that he would constitute the new body of Punjab BJP within 15 days after the consultation with all the senior state leaders of the party. He would give due representation to all sections.

BATHINDA: Mr Mohit Gupta, district president, BJP, said here on Thursday that the death of the protesting farmer in Bhai Bakhtaur was a failure of the state and the district administration.

Mr Narinder Mittal, Mandal president, BJP, said the Punjab Government failed to tie up with the Union Government before the announcement of the MSP of paddy and then accused the Union Government for the same.

In a separate press note, Mr Vasudev Aggarwal, president of the People’s Law Forum, said as per their preliminary findings, the state agencies were at fault for the death of the farmer in the rail roko incident on Tuesday.

He said the farmers’ bodies had announced and advertised their proposed agitation beforehand and the movement of the trains could have been stopped or diverted for the three-hour period of protest.


Submit report on lathicharge, BJP office-bearers told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Directing BJP office-bearers to submit a report of the incident where a person was killed and other injured during a police lathicharge on farmers at Bhai Bakhtaur near Bathinda, BJP state president A.R. Khanna has demanded compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to those injured, according to a statement issued here today.

Flaying the district administration for its refusal to handover the body of Gurdev Singh, to his brother, Mr Khanna said the incident had brought forward the anti-farmer face of the Congress.


Farmers to observe protest day on Oct 10
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
Even as six kisan organisations today condemned the “repressive and suppressive measure” adopted by the state Congress government to curb their agitation, they decided to observe October 10 as rosh and shardhanjali’ (protest and homage) day in front of tehsil offices in the state in connection with the death of a farmer, Gurdev Singh, during the Rail and rasta roko agitation.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president, Bharti Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan), expressed displeasure over the compromise reached between some farmers’ organisations and the district administration after the Bhai Bakhtaur rail incident.

Mr Ugrahan was arrested yesterday by the police while he and other members of his organisation were demanding the body of Gurdev Singh.

Talking to TNS before his arrest, he pointed out that it was very disappointing that representatives of some farmers’ organisation had “fixed the price of death of Gurdev Singh” while he was still under treatment in the local Civil Hospital.

On the other hand, in a press note issued here today, Mr Bhupinder Singh Sambar, general secretary, Punjab Kisan Sabha, Punjab, alleged that the Central Government, Railways, Punjab Government and district administration were responsible for the happenings which took place on September 30 and October 1.

He said that six farmers’ organisations — Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Punjab Kisan Sabha, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Kirti Kisan Union, Khetibari Kisan Vikas Front and All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha — endorsing the compromise reached between district administration and a few farmers organisations, condemned the police repression on the farmers yesterday. They also condemned the arrest of farmers’ leaders and activists and demanded their immediate release.

He said both the Congress and SAD-BJP combine should press the Punjab and Central Governments to accept the demands of farmers which included an MSP of Rs 760 per quintal for paddy, Rs 130 an MSP per quintal for sugarcane, Rs 100 as MSP per quintal for potato and Rs 2.50 per fat of milk. The Punjab Government should also pay Rs 30 as bonus on per quintal paddy procured in 2001 and arrears of last years’ sugarcane crops.

The organisations declared that farmers would intensify their agitation if the government did not accept their demands.


Wide gap in Badals’ assets, income, says Vigilance
Poonam Bath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal will be asked to account for his sources of income by Vigilance sleuths on October 8 in the disproportionate assets case.

Sources in the bureau maintain that an assessment of the properties allegedly owned by Mr Badal and his family brings out a wide disparity in their sources of income and expenditure. His wife, son, daughter and son-in-law would also be questioned on similar lines.

A senior official told TNS that a major part of the questionnaire would focus on the properties, which were allegedly bought or on which expenditure was incurred for renovation etc, particularly during his tenure as Chief Minister (1997 to 2002). The bureau claims that among the Badals’ main sources of income are 30-32 acres of land at their ancestral village, an SCO (No. 54-55) in Sector 9, Chandigarh, and some old property but the assets allegedly made during the period mentioned above are far more.

The Vigilance had all details about the properties owned by them in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi along with their close associates, mentioned as partners in this case. The officer said notices had been sent to the partners for questioning at the time of evaluation of properties but none of them turned up.

The delay in compilation of figures is mainly due to the lack of details about certain properties allegedly owned by the Badal family abroad.

The bureau official said he had so far not received any intimation from Mr Sukhbir Badal.

Mr Sukhbir Badal would have to eventually appear for answering the queries on their property in the office of the Economic Offences Wing (EoW), as sleuths may not find any time to question him on that day because questioning of the senior Badal may take over 6-7 hours. They would otherwise also like to confront each of the family members separately. Hence “if we do not hear from the junior Badal by tomorrow, the day he is slated to appear before us, we may be forced to send another notice to Sukhbir, summoning him for interrogation.”


Warrants issued in Badal case
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 2
Mr Ranjan Kumar Khullar, Judicial Magistrate, here yesterday issued non-bailable warrants for October 11 to Mr Ashish Kapoor, a resident of Safdarjang, New Delhi, in connection with the FIR No. 15 dated June 24 against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others.

Mr Charanjeev Arora, Public Prosecutor, and Mr Bachan Singh, inspector, Vigilance Bureau, appeared in the court said the accused was evading arrest.

The VB has registered the FIR under Sections 420, 467, 468, 171 and 120 B, IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. 


Review of financial position on Oct 9
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The Punjab Council of Ministers is scheduled to review the financial situation on October 9. This review comes at a time when the state has just emerged from an overdraft of Rs 300 crore.

The overall financial situation still remains grim, as “we move from crisis to crisis’’, says Principal Secretary Finance, K.R. Lakhanpal.

The government has claimed that its expenditure was under control and treasuries were open. The decision to take food account off the Budget had given some respite and that money was no longer being diverted.

The government had sanctioned Rs 500 crore in the past three or four months for development projects like drinking water, roads, irrigation, ‘sarb sikhiya abhiyan’, health and old age, widow pensions. About Rs 100 crore was also released to the state electricity board.

Revenue receipts were looking up and sales tax collections were steady. There, however, remained several grey areas in tax collection and the tax-GDP ratio remained low at 6 per cent.

Sources observed that the state was likely to gain by way of ‘’debt swap’’ of nearly Rs 3,000 crore and would also get some relief from the Centre in small savings.

Though ‘’hard decisions’’ were needed to put the economy back on the rails, the practice of rollback of revenue-generating decisions already taken has de-railed the reforms agenda, admit even Congressmen.

Punjab was also witness to a blame game between politicians and bureaucrats over the continuing serious financial situation. And this would easily push Punjab into bankruptcy. The Chief Minister is on record having said that the state did not have money even to pay salaries.

The state has surely the money but only to splurge on the Chief Minister’s air journeys leading to a hefty bill, believed to be around Rs 6 crore, since March 2002. Or money to provide financial cushions to ministers and MLAs with jacked up salaries, allowances, perks and Qualis vehicles. The state even pays the income tax on the ministers’ salaries.

There is discernible disquiet in Punjab over the way to political executive and bureaucrats conduct themselves. Corruption, sources say, was rampant at both ends of the administration.

Punjab politics is a paradox. Look at the contrasts: In the open show of “estranged politics’’ displayed by Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the Vidhan Sabha on September 25 and the “engaged politics’’ of young MLAs at the initiative of Mr Ashwini Sekhri of the Congress and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal. They have cut across the political “Lakshman Rekha’’ to sit together and act in a “positive manner’’ in the interest of the state, irrespective of political ideologies.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal said his party was willing to co-operate with the government on vital issues like reforms, disinvestment etc.


17 panthic bodies plan meet on Oct 26
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
As many as 17 Panthic organisations have decided to hold a “representative gathering” of Sikhs from all over the world here on Sikhism.

Addressing a press conference today, Mr Gurtej Singh, Professor of Sikhism; Major-Gen Narinder Singh (retd) and Mr Joginder Singh said the Sikh convention would be held on October 26. Among the issues to be discussed are: whether the Sikh Gurus have left any scope for “Purohitwad” in Sikhism and whether the Sikhs clerics have the power to issue “edicts” and excommunicate Sikhs or not.

Prof Gurtej Singh said the practice of excommunication in Sikhism was reminiscent of the Stone Age and it did not find any approval in the religion. The growing influence of the priesthood on Sikhism had led to many distortions, sending wrong signals.

Mr Joginder Singh said “sangat” was supreme and without its approval no “edict” could be issued. The ongoing practice of issuing edicts was not in conformity with the basic postulates of Sikhism.

“Before announcing any important decision regarding the Sikh religion or its disciples, it was mandatory to hold a religious gathering of representative Sikh bodies to decide the issue. No power has been vested in any Jathedar of a Sikh religious institution to make important announcements that concern the community as a whole or any individual member,” he said.

Mr Joginder Singh said that the SGPC was not a representative of all Sikhs. Its jurisdiction was confined to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. And its job was to manage gurdwaras in its jurisdiction. However, Sikhs were spread all over the globe. Hence, there was need for setting up an institution or to establish a system which should represent Sikhs from all parts of the world and should be able to take decisions on their behalf.

The decision to hold the convention had unnerved a section of the Sikh clergy and politicians who had threatened to take action against those who would participate in the meeting.

An appeal had also been made to boycott those organising the convention. A parallel convention was also being organised at Amritsar on October 25.

Mr Joginder Singh said he and his other associates were ready for a dialogue with the Sikh clergy and the SGPC. “If they convince us, we would accept their viewpoint, otherwise they should accept ours,” he reasoned.


Punjab needs industrial units: Kewal Dhillon
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Barnala, October 2
Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and a renowned industrialist, was today honoured by about 20 social, religious, educational and other organisations at the Bansal Palace here on his first visit to the town. He belongs to Barnala area, and his native Tallewal village is about 20 km from here.

He was honoured at a “Gandhi Jayanti and Sanman Samaroh” function organised by the local citizens.

Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and lit a jyoti before the portrait to start the function. Mr Dhillon also honoured two freedom fighters of Barnala, Mr Ranjit Singh Nanewalia and Comrade Rattan Chand, by presenting them a shawl each.

The local Chemists Association honoured Mr Dhillon with a ‘turban’ and ‘Sri Sahib’, while other organisations honoured him with shawls and religious pictures. The organisations which honoured Mr Dhillon include Geeta Bhawan Trust, Ram Leela Committee, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Arya Samaj institutions, Youth Congress, Bhagat Mohan Lal Sewa Samiti, Brahman Sabha, Congress Sewa Dal, Rotary Club, City Welfare Council, and Panchayat of Tallewal village.

Earlier talking to newspersons Mr Dhillon said there was a need to set up industrial units in the state to end unemployment. He also stressed on imparting vocational education to generate employment. He said the Central Government was discriminating with Punjab on various fronts due to which the Punjab Government could not achieve much for the farmers and the common people.

He said his visit to Barnala was not aimed at the ensuing Parliamentary elections. He said he had earlier visited this town many times.


28 injured as buses collide
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
Twentyeight passengers were injured when two buses in which they were travelling collided near Adampur today.

The accident occurred when a Jalandhar-bound bus (PB-07-3090) and a bus of the Doaba Transport Company collided.

Satnam Singh and Daljit Singh, drivers of the buses, received serious injuries. Twentysix other passengers were given first aid at Adampur's Primary Health Centre.


Tohra dubs Sarna group win unfortunate
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 2
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SGPC, has termed the win of Congress-backed candidates in the annual elections to the executive of the DSGMC as unfortunate. While talking to Chandigarh Tribune at the local BBSB Engineering College, where he had come to inaugurate a students’ centre and flats for non-teaching staff, he said it was surprising that those who had been condemning the Congress throughout their lives had sided with the Congress-backed group and ensured their victory just for vested interests and lust for power. The results were as per their expectations and there would be no effect of these on the SAD(B), he added.

He said the SAD(B) had offered presidentship to Mr Sarna and urged him to dissolve his faction but he had refused. So they withdrew their offer. Then Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takht, who has five members, was offered to make any of his members president, but Bhai Ranjit Singh put forward the precondition of being installed Jathedar of Akal Takht, which was unacceptable. He alleged that the five members owing allegiance to Bhai Ranjit Singh voted for the Sarna group and ensured their victory, knowing the fact that the Congress governments both at the Centre and the state had been playing an active role in ensuring the victory of the Sarna group.

He said the SGPC would send a jatha of 500 pilgrims to Pakistan.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, Dr Dilbagh Singh Hira, Principal, BBSB Engineering College, Dr G.S. Walia, Principal, MG College, also addressed the gathering.


Dullo warns Swami not to meddle in state affairs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 2
By making provocative statements and giving threats to the state government, the Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, wanted to vitiate the atmosphere of the state and the Centre-state relationship, said Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, while talking to mediapersons here on Monday. He was here to preside over a meeting of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee. It may be mentioned that the Union Minister, at a rally yesterday, had said if the Chief Minister dared to arrest a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he would have to face consequences.

Taking exception to the statement, Mr Dullo said Mr Swami had no business to interfere in affairs of the state and alleged that the Centre was trying to disturb the peace in the state. 


Badrukhan accused to appear before Takht
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 2
A seven-member inquiry committee led by Bhai Mann Singh, Head Granthi, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, today asked all persons involved in holding akhand path at a samadh in village Badrukhan, near here, to appear at Akal Takht, Amritsar, on October 8.

The committee today reached gurdwara Nankiana Sahib and heard the views of all sides involved in this incident. The committee asked them to appeal before Akal Takht on October 8. Sources said all persons tendered an apology before the committee and said the error had been committed due to ignorance.

The committee will submit its report to Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, who will send it to Akal Takht.

It may be mentioned here that five persons were injured on September 25 when two groups clashed over the holding of akhand path at a samadh at Badrukhan village. 


Speaker for early completion of injury centre building
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 2
The local MLA and the Deputy Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, on Tuesday demanded the reconstitution of the 17-member society supervising the establishment of the Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in SAS Nagar. The centre spread over 5 acres of land in the township had been lying in semi-constructed state of disuse since the last two years for lack of funds.

Addressing mediapersons here, the MLA alleged that the former government and to some extent, even the present government were responsible for this delay in the project which started in 2000 and was due to be finished by now. He informed that the centre was to be constructed at the cost of Rs 3.5 crore out of which the Centre had to pay Rs 1.6 Crore.

‘‘The Central fund amount was immediately used for the construction and since the Punjab Government failed to dole out its share of the amount, the project had since remained incomplete. We are losing out on the infrastructure already in place as the building is decaying,’’ he said.

Accompanied by the SDM, SAS Nagar, Mr M.L. Sharma, and the Additional Deputy Commissioner Ropar, Mr Vikas Garg, the MLA earlier in the day visited the centre site. He informed the press that the site had been given free of cost by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority to the government for the construction of the Centre but was charging over Rs 1.4 lakh every year as ground rent.‘‘This centre is of regional importance and will cater to spinal injury patients and the physically challenged from Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir states other than Punjab and UT.’’

Suggesting a revised proposal for the completion and upgradation of the Centre, the MLA said the Centre would be provided with an operation theatre and completed at the cost of another Rs 8 crore. ‘‘But I appeal to the Chief Minister to release at least Rs 3 crore for the project immediately so that the Centre can be made functional for the patients. The rest of the money can be arranged from the Centre and the neighboring states.’’

Demanding that the 17-member society formed by the government to run the centre be reconstituted and made more representative of the MLA pointed that neither the MLA of the area nor the SDM of the township was involved in such a major development work of the township.

Civil Hospital to be upgraded

The MLA also announced that Civil Hospital, SAS Nagar, would be upgraded into a 200-bedded hospital and a specialised cancer hospital is likely to be established within its premises. ‘‘The whole complex along with the Health and Family Welfare Regional Training Centre which is to be opened on November 1, 2003, is being planned as the medical epicenter of the region,’’ said the MLA.


Amritsar Shatabdi may be speedier
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 2
The Railways may increase the speed of the Shatabdi running between New Delhi and Amritsar from 110 km per hour to 120 km per hour. This was stated by Divisional Railway Manager, Mr Hukam Chand Punia, while talking with this correspondent here today. He is on an inspection tour of Ludhiana, Phillaur, Goraya, Phagwara, Chieherru, Jalandhar and Lohian railway stations.

Mr Punia said there was an increase of 16 per cent revenue in this year in Ferozepore division and passenger traffic had risen by 1.6 per cent.

He said additional security forces had been deployed in trains to prevent robberies in trains and some gang members were nabbed at Phillaur and Kathua railway stations.

Phagwara: The electrification of various rail tracks is in progress in the railways is committed to providing good services and facilities to passengers, according to Mr CR Kalsi, General Manager, (Electrical), Indian Railways.

A press note issued on Thursday said that the electrification was on in the Gaya-Patna (92 km), Surat-Jagroan (325 km) and Chingalpattu-Belupuram (103 km) rail tracks. He claimed that the work of electrification on the Jalandhar-Amritsar rail section would be completed by December.

He earlier inaugurated the train power traction sub-centre at Chiheru railway station, near here. He also inspected the electrification work from Beas to Jalandhar in a tower van.


Afghan doctors arrive for training
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 2
Indian doctors in the private sector have offered to train Afghan doctors in various superspeciality departments and upgrade their technical skills on the latest high-tech equipments.

Dr Samir Raj, a leading urology surgeon, along with Dr Cedric Emery and his wife Norma have decided to jointly set up an endoscopy centre at the Department of Urology Ali Abad Hospital in Kabul, the only hospital working in the war-ravaged Afghanistan. The Indian and US doctors have invited a urologist, Dr Said Hasan Manawi, along with Dr Zaman, Dr Tariq and Dr Zabit for training to operate the endoscopy equipment donated by the manufacturer, Karl Storz of Germany.

Talking to The Tribune on arrival here for the 10-day training schedule, Dr Manawi said they were quite impressed by the visit of Dr Rai to Kabul last month. He said he had given them tips to operate the equipment.

Dr Manawi and his colleagues were full of praise for a number of NGOs who were helping start health projects, including the one run by Dr Cedric and his wife Norma. He said that although they had offers to train Afghan doctors in the USA, they preferred to come to Amritsar which was only one-hour flight away from Kabul. He said that this was just a beginning of their relationship with Indian doctors who were fully trained to handle all kinds of medical equipments. He said the health tie-up will help in sending more doctors for training here.

Afghanistan requires massive funds to start health services in the country which are totally non existent at the moment. The next batch of doctors would arrive next month.


Training soldiers to get jobs after retirement
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
In the first venture of its kind, two institutes have been established by Western Command to impart professional training to soldiers who are about to retire so that they are better placed for post-retirement employment in the civilian sector.

Termed as vocational training institutes (VTI), one such institute has been set up at Jalandhar and Bathinda each and between them they will be offering almost 20 disciplines. The VTI at Jalandhar will be offering technical courses, while the one at Bathinda will be responsible for non-technical trades.

“These institutes have been set up as a pilot project,” Lieut-Col Harpartap Singh, Deputy Director of the Command Placement Cell, told The Tribune. “Continuity of this venture in its present form or a reworked model will depend on the results,” he added.

Though no fixed eligibility criterion has been laid down for these courses, soldiers who are nearing retirement are being considered for enrolment. “This serves two purposes — soldiers get trained for alternative employment and at the same time the Army can utilise their newly acquired skills for the duration they remain in service,” Colonel Singh said.

The courses began a few days ago. The technical courses include motor vehicle engineering, electronic equipment servicing, fabrication, welding and inspection, electrical engineering and applied information technology, while non-technical courses include construction, security management and security systems, food and beverage service, hospitality services and tropical agriculture.

While the faculty at the two VTIs will comprise Army officers having the requisite background in the respective courses, faculty members from outside would also be hired.

Colonel Singh said that the Army had the largest network of golf clubs, officers’ messes, schools and housing organisations in the country which effectively trained a person in several of the aforementioned trades. “However these do not have a brand equity associated with them, so people outside the services know little about them,” he said. “Hence, retired armed forces personnel are largely relegated to jobs associated with security agencies,” he added.


They remembered the Mahatma the ‘right way’
Tribune Reporters

Nangal, October 2
The Sutlej Club of Nangal today celebrated Gandhi Jayanti by helping the physically challenged. In a function, the club gave away 30 tricycles, 55 artificial limbs, four hearing-aid machines and five pairs of crutches to the physically challenged persons of the area.

The limbs were distributed by the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Mr K.P.S. Rana. Mr Rana appreciated the efforts of the club and announced a grant of Rs 10,000 for the cause. He said helping the poor was the right way of remembering the Mahatma.

Mr Ashok Manocha, president of the club, said the artificial limbs had come from the Viklang Uphaar Kendra, Nalagarh, under the ADIP scheme of the Union Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment. The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Bhupinder Singh, and the PMO of the BBMB Canal Hospital, Dr Sony, were among those present.

GURDASPUR: On Gandhi Jayanti today, a ‘Kavi Sammelan’ was held here, where poets from all over the district eulogised by the Mahatma. Mr Khushal Bahl, Education Minister, who presided over the function, said the best tribute to the Mahatma would be to lead a simple and honest life. Lal Bahadur Shastri was also remembered.

The Youth Congress organised a blood donation camp in civil hospital here and collected 40 units of blood. The donors had come from all over the district. Members of the Inner Wheel Club distributed fruits among the patients at the civil hospital.

HOSHIARPUR: At a function in the office of the District Congress Committee, Chaudhary Ram Rattan, vice-president, PPCC, and many other local leaders of the Congress paid rich tributes to the Mahatma on his birth anniversary.

A function was also organised at SD Senior Secondary School here by the Public Anti-Corruption Board of India where Mr Sanjeev Walia, chairman of the board, and many others remembered Mahatma Gandhi and his spirit of non-violence.

PHAGWARA: Local leaders of the Congress today held a ‘prabhat pheri’ in the town to mark Gandhi Jayanti. They gathered in Town Hall to hold a prayer meeting and garland the statue of the Mahatma. Rich tributes were also paid to Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Members of the Nagar Council, Phagwara, led by Mr Malkiat Singh Ragbotra and activists of the Swashta Abhiyan Manch led by Mr Madan Mohan Khattar today launched a ‘Dustbin at Doorstep’ scheme on Gandhi Jayanti. The Punjab Social Welfare Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann launched the scheme at Thathiaran Mohalla here. Under the scheme, recovery boys will go door to door collecting garbage.


School students remember Bapu
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 2
A function to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti was held at the local Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Senior Secondary School today. More than 2,000 boys of the school, old students, its founder members and representatives of political parties and social organisations attended the function.

Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, MP, laid stress on promoting moral values and ideal education to check the menace of casteism and untouchability to make the nation stronger and realise the dream of the Father of the Nation.

Swaranjit Singh, a student of Class VIII appealed for the promotion of patriotic culture among the younger generation which was the need of hour.

Mr Sewa Singh Chawla, Principal, gave details of the school’s achievements in both academic and sports field.

He said it was established at Faridkot in 1943.

Bibi Gurcharan Kaur honoured a number of old students of the institution.

Students of the school presented a cultural programme on patriotic lines.

Earlier, the MP laid the foundation stone of the science block in the school and announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh from the MP’s quota fund for its development.


Rs 5 lakh grant for Valmik Chair
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The Punjab Government will organise a state-level function on the occasion of “Parkash Utsav” of Maharishi Valmik at Kapurthala on October 10.

This decision was taken at a high-level meeting of the Maharishi Valmik and Guru Ravi Dass Janma Divas Samaroh Committee. It was also decided to publish a book on the life and teachings of Maharishi Valmik.

Presiding over the meeting, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the Maharishi Valmik Chair, at Punjabi University, Patiala, to strengthen research on the life, works and philosophy of Maharishi Valmik. The government had earlier released Rs 7 lakh for the purpose.


Pak consulate calls 8 detenues
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 2
Keeping in view the gesture shown by the Government of India for the repatriation of all eight Pakistani boys under 17 to their country (Pakistan) at the earliest, the High Commission of Pakistan has called all of them in New Delhi tomorrow for their identification. They are Nasser Ali, Sagar Ali, Babar Ali, Asif and Mohammad Sahar Khan, all from Kassur District, Amjad Khan of Sheikhupura and Altaf Shah and Dinesh Kumar of Amarkot in Sindh province.

Stating this here today, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, DIG police Faridkot range, said the administration had received a letter from the High Commission through the Union Home Ministry in this connection here yesterday.

He disclosed a team of senior officers led by Mr Priyank Bharti, SDM, Jaito, Mr Gurmeet Singh, DSP(D), in this district would escort the boys to New Delhi.

The Union Home Ministry, on compassionate grounds and to create better cordial relations between two countries, had decided to release the boys from juvenile jails last month.


Roshani for physically challenged
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, October 2
While boosting the morale of physically challenged persons Roshani Society, a non-government organisation, pointed out that these persons could prove more efficient if provided with sitting jobs.

The physically challenged, who had assembled in Patel Public School, Rajpura, to observe the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, were given words of encouragement.

The children, who reached here on foot on Wednesday, were felicitated by the society. They presented poems, bhajan, songs and dance to mark the day.

Son of a rehri vendor, Nar Singh was given Rs 1,000 by the society to continue with his studies. A polio victim, Nar Singh, lost sensation in both legs when he was five years old.

Jagtar Singh, a resident of Raginpur, in Ropar, who completed his steno course from the ITI, Ropar, was also honoured by the society on the occasion. He is presently employed by the Chandigarh Traffic Police.

Thirteen children from Punjab, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, who are leprosy patients, were given scholarships.

Dr John V. George, Inspector-General of Haryana, was the chief guest.

Others present included Molly Cherian of Sacred Heart School, Sidhpur, Himachal Pradesh, Leela Mathew of St Mary’s School, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, Brother A.J. George of Barloganj, Mussoori, and Ms Bali of Apeejay School, Noida.

Father Thomas K.J., president of the society, thanked the dignitaries and highlighted the role of sponsors.


Ex-MLA dead

Moga, October 2
Former MLA and former member of the SGPC Mukhtiar Singh died at Dharamkot, his native place in Moga district, last night after a prolonged illness, his family said today. He was 80.

He was elected to the Assembly in 1953 at the age of 28 and remained member of the SGPC for 43 years. — PTI


Child perishes in fire

Hoshiarpur, October 2
A four-year-old child, Bittu, was killed in a fire which broke out in a field near the Fodder godown in Chak Gujra village in this district last evening.


Cut in contract farming area opposed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 2
Farmers of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib, who had decided to put their faith in the contract farming policy of the state government, have come in for a rude shock with the Punjab Agro nearly cutting the area under contract farming by half in the two districts for the coming six-month vegetable season.

Talking to TNS here, a large number of farmers of both districts said they had opted for the contract farming scheme during the last season and had sown a variety of vegetables. They said the sweet chilli seed which had been given to them for sowing in an 8-acre area had been a complete failure. They said they had brought this to the notice of the Punjab Agro and had been promised relief which had still not been given.

Gurjit Singh Gosal of Jhambala village said farmers of both districts were also given a raw deal by the authorities of the Food Park opened in Fatehgarh Sahib district. He said farmers who had taken their vegetable produce there were forced to accept a voluntary cut in the production level on grounds that the produce was not up to the mark whereas this was not true.

Another farmer Chanderpal Singh of Sanour said last year as much as 500 acres of land had been earmarked for contract farming in the state. He said the farmers had been told that this areas would be increased by 10 times this year. He said in direct contrast Punjab Agro was only leasing out 280 acres of land to farmers in both the districts this year. Giving details of the land being leased out, he said peas were being leased out in 50 acres, tomato cherry in 5, tomato normal in 10, brocolli in 10, lettuce in 5, bitter gourd in 20, garlic in 5, chillies in 50, capsicum in 5, sweet corn in 40, baby corn in 50, carrots in 10 and cauliflower in 20 acres.

Farmers said both the Managing Director of the corporation and the head of IDMA laboratory who was a partner in the Food Park had gone abroad. They said some of the rates fixed for the buy back of vegetables were ridiculously low and that they had decided to approach the Chief Minister to get justice.

Giving examples, they said the Punjab Agro had fixed the contract price for buy back of peas at Rs 3 per kg, tomato normal at Rs 2 per kg, brocolli at Rs 3 per kg, garlic at Rs 5 a kg, chillies at Rs 3 per kg and carrot and cauliflower at Rs 2.50 per kg. They said the buy back rates of other vegetables had also been fixed at very low prices. Meharban Singh of Saholi said at such low rates of return, the farmers would not be able to recover the cost of production.


Strict guidelines for paddy allotment process
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 2
Out of the total 98 rice mills in the district, 85 have been allotted, to procurement agencies for custom milling of paddy, whereas nine defaulter rice mills and four incomplete rice mills have not been considered for the allotment of paddy. This was stated here on Saturday by Mr Bhupinder Singh, Deputy Director Food and Civil Supply, at a meeting of officials of the procurement agencies convened to complete the paddy allotment process.

He said as per the directions of Mr Avtar Henry, Minister for Food and Civil Supply, no defaulter rice mill would be allowed to operate till the mill clears all pending rice and amount.


Honorarium of boards, corpns chiefs hiked
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 2
The state government has decided to increase the honorarium of chairpersons of various boards and corporations in Punjab.

This was disclosed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing a press conference here yesterday. He said a final decision in this regard would be taken at a meeting of mayors, to be held in Chandigarh on October 6. The Chief Minister said earlier the SAD government was paying an honorarium of Rs 2,200 to 2,400 per month which would now be increased to Rs 10,000 per month.

Meanwhile, the government’s proposed move to give executive powers to mayors will be given concrete shape at the meeting between the mayors of all four municipal corporations and the Chief Minister. Earlier, this meeting was slated to be held on September 30, but it has now been rescheduled. Senior bureaucrats of the Local Bodies Department and Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, are expected to attend the meeting.

The government has already decided in principal to implement Amendment 74 of the Constitution, following which the mayors will be vested with executive powers.

It may be recalled that the mayors had given a representation to the Chief Minister, seeking changes in Section 74 on the pattern of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra governments. At present, executive powers are vested with commissioners of municipal corporations.


Three cops booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 2
The Mehta police, under Majitha police district, has booked three policemen for allegedly raping a woman on September 24. The case was registered last evening after the woman presented herself before Ms Shashi Prabha, SSP, Majitha.

The woman alleged that Head Constable Amarjit Singh, Constable Partap Singh and SPO Jasbir Singh of Udoke police chowki raped her when she went to the chowki regarding a case registered there. She said that she was living separately from her husband and worked in a paper mill in Amritsar.

She said on the day of the incident, she went to meet her children in Udoke village where she came to know that her husband had registered a complaint against her. When she went to the police chowki, she was raped and kept in illegal detention by the accused policemen.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, SP (D) of Majitha, said investigations were being conducted. A case has been registered under Sections 376 and 342 of the IPC at Mehta police station.


Farmer held with 3 kg opium
Our Correspondent

Attari, October 2
A novel way of smuggling of opium and other narcotics came to light with the arrest of Balkar Singh of Brar village near Khasa here, who gave the police startling details of the new modes of smuggling. He was arrested by the Customs Preventive Station Staff, Attari, with about 3kg of opium last evening.

Balkar Singh, an agriculturist, used to take these smuggled narcotics from the truck drivers who brought vegetables from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and the neighbouring states to the vegetable market here. He revealed that he used to procure opium from the drivers at the vegetable market and sell it in his village, Attari and the other border-belt villages.


Foster father rapes, impregnates minor
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 2
A case of first making a minor schoolgirl his foster-child and then raping her and impregnating her came to light today. The rapist is a panch.

According to a police complaint, the father of the girl has alleged that his cousin took away his daughter as a foster child two years ago. He first treated the girl nicely, and later allegedly drugged her and raped her. Then he started raping her regularly.

When the girl became pregnant, the uncle, with the help of his wife, got an abortion done. When the girl’s father came to know of it, he took the issue to village panchayat and other prominent persons. His cousin, who is now a panch, confessed his crime before panchayat and other villagers. The panchayat reported the case to the police.

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