P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal sees Sonia hand in VB case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said that the Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s case against him and his family was being remote-controlled by the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi. He was reacting to media reports published today which said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had gone to Delhi to seek “legal and political” clearance of Ms Gandhi in the graft case against the Badals.

Mr Badal said this development should not leave anyone in doubt that the Congress was fabricating figures in the case so as to use it against them during the on-going election campaign in some states. Even the decision to file a challan in the case had been left to the party high command, who would coincide it with the poll campaign, he added.

Coming down heavily on Capt Amarinder Singh for rushing to Delhi, Mr Badal reiterated that the entire drama of presenting the challan was being scripted, directed and enacted from 10 Janpath (Ms Sonia Gandhi’s residence) in New Delhi and only those officials who were willing to function as puppets in the hands of the Congress President had been chosen to man the bureau.

The Chief Minister has been repeatedly publicly claiming that he has the consent of the party President for the said case of disproportionate assets against the Badals, he said.

In the statement issued today, Mr Badal has also questioned the locus standi on this issue or for that matter any issue concerning governance in Punjab. “Is she the Home Minister here or is she heading the Vigilance Bureau?” he asked. Probably she is trying to settle the old scores of her family against the Punjabis in general and Akalis in particular, he added.

Mr Badal also criticised the public statements being repeatedly issued by the Congressmen about the status of the bureau investigations against the Akali leaders, especially in the case against him and his family members. Referring to the statement of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr Hanspal. he said, “It is simply part of the vilification campaign against SAD.” He also sought to join issue with a senior official of the bureau for commenting that Badals would face a conviction in the case. He has expressed his anguish over the officer trying to pre-judge the verdict of the court.

Mr Badal has also questioned the senior officer on selectively leaking the proceedings of the investigations to the media and that too inaccurately. And also for making the private evaluators doing their job from a room of the private hotel rather than from the bureau headquarters.


Badal stole VB papers, say Congress leaders
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 20
Senior Punjab Congress leaders today said former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s pre-emption of Punjab DIG Chattopadhya’s secret probe report into the disproportionate assets of Badal and his family including his Rajya Sabha Member Parliament son Sukhbir Badal, amounted to a stealing of official documents.

Reacting to Mr Badal’s disclosures at a Press Conference yesterday where he and Sukhbir Singh Badal distributed unsigned note which they claimed was the gist of the Vigilance Bureau’s challan document to be put up in the court soon.

State Finance Minister Lal Singh, state Minister for Rural Development and Public Health Jasjit Singh Randhawa, President DCCI (U) Ved Parkash Gupta, President DCCI (R) Hardayal Singh Kamboj, Municipal Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma and Chairman Improvement Trust K.K. Sharma in a written statement described Badal’s tactics as an affront to the judicial system in the country.

While Vigilance Bureau Chief A.P. Pandey has already ordered an in house probe into the ‘leak’. The manner the Badal’s are disclosing Vigilance Bureaus investigation based chargesheet meant to be put in the court on one hand and writing to the President, Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister to intervene and stop flouting of law is, in fact an unprecedented defiance of law itself.

On one hand Badal’s are defying the course of natural justice by urging the powers that be to stop Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh from pursuing the Vigilance Bureau prepared cases against the Badal’s who are part of the NDA Government at the centre and on the other hand they had been calling upon their party cadres to get prepared for protests and confrontation with the government in case of their arrest, they said.


Badal warns erring bureaucrats
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
Without mincing words, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, yesterday warned that the bureaucrats who had been indulging in excesses against SAD leadership in violating the law of the land would have to face the consequences after formation of the SAD-BJP government in the next Assembly elections.

While addressing a press conference here Mr Badal said that he would quit politics if charge of purchasing huge properties by him in foreign countries was proved by the Amarinder government. Mr Badal alleged that the excesses of the Congress government had surpassed the excesses committed even during the Emergency. He said Capt Amarinder Singh should immediately quit politics if he failed to prove charges against him of amassing properties worth Rs 3,500 crore. Mr Badal said that he would not apply for anticipatory bail till the submission of challan against him.

When asked what was the biggest folly of SAD-BJP government, “Not booking Mr Bhartinder Singh Chahal, media advisor to Capt Amarinder Singh Government,” he quipped.


Tohra rejects PSGPC chief, wants a Sikh to head it
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
After his re-election as SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra said that ‘Sikh Panth’ could not accept the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, headed by a “non-Sikh”, he said that appointment of a Muslim was a fraud and hence the government of Pakistan should nominate a baptised Sikh as chairman of the PSGPC.

Mr Tohra said that the SGPC would keep on sending jathas to Pakistan as the Panth considered Nankana Sahib and other Sikh shrines in Pakistan as the most sacred places. The general house urged the governments of India and Pakistan for plying a bus between Amritsar and Lahore daily so that Sikhs could pay obeisance at gurdwaras in Pakistan. In another resolution, the SGPC general house sought a corridor linking Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) gurdwara and gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak (Indian side). Mr Tohra said that while Pakistan had already provided the door from Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to zero line, the Government of India should accept the genuine demand of the Sikhs.

The SGPC general house failed to withdraw the title of ‘Professor of Sikhism’ bestowed on former IAS officer Mr Gurtej Singh as announced earlier. The house condemned the “so called Sikh intellectuals” who had challenged the age-old Sikh institutions like Akal Takht. The general house said that the Sikh Panth won’t tolerate any blasphemous activities.

The general house demanded overall development of the city including four laning of road between Jalandhar and Amritsar.

The SGPC general house approved all resolutions/decisions passed by the executive committee taken from July 27 to November 11. With this the house has put a stamp on all reversions, promotions and termination of employees which took place during this period.


Huge backlog of issues await Tohra’s attention
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Today’s SGPC Presidential election was in sharp contrast to that of November 2002. At that time, the election was held under the shadow of the police. There was tension in the air. Mr Parkash Singh Badal had sheltered the members loyal to him in his Balasar farm in Haryana, while Mr Tohra had enjoyed direct or indirect Congress support.

This time, the old war horses were together. Having parted company in March, 1999, they again shook hands and Mr Tohra was made SGPC President on July 27, last, as Mr Badungar was asked to exit. Both leaders are conscious that their unity has not percolated to their respective supporters.

Therefore, on the eve of the election, Mr Badal had procured all rights to name the candidates of the SGPC executive, including that of the President, to exhibit a semblance of unity. But chinks still showed. It may take a long time for these differences to dissolve or may even get reflected in the day-to-day functioning of the SGPC or persist, during the SGPC general house elections.

No doubt, the Congress has its own calculations when it interferes in the religio-political affairs of the Akalis. It did so blatantly in November, 2002 and the possibility of it doing it again during the SGPC elections next year is not ruled out. And such is the importance of the SGPC that it invariably gets into confrontation with the ruling establishment, whether it is of the Akali Dal or the Congress.

Mr Tohra is again at the helm of Sikh religious affairs at a time when there is a huge backlog of unresolved religious issues that confront the Panth. A crisis situation persists with different factions and organisations calling for ‘’reforms’’ in the SGPC, vis-a-vis Akal Takht. The Institute of Sikh Studies, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Sikh academicians and several others have been debating reforms and raising demands aimed at redefining, widening and strengthening the jurisdiction, role and functions of the SGPC and giving it a global look to represent the Sikh diaspora.

The recent conclaves by these organisations in Mohali and Chandigarh had deliberated on a wide range of issues. Mr Tohra is not unaware of these issues as he is one individual who has had the longest stint as SGPC President. He knows its strengths and weaknesses. He knows what reforms are required or why he had failed to clinch most of these issues in the past or how twists are to be given to emotive issues to exploit the sentiments of the Sikhs.


Sikhs ‘discriminated’ against in HP, Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has demanded the revocation of “discriminatory” and “anti-Punjabi” and “anti-Sikh” rules and laws in congress ruled states of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann has urged the Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Jagmohan to ensure that the birth centenary of noted Punjabi vocalist, composer and cine artiste K.L. Saigal, who belonged to Jalandhar, was celebrated in a big way and a postage stamp was issued to recognise his service.

At a press conference here yesterday, Mr, Mann, who was accompanied by senior party leaders Mr Anoop Singh Minhas and Dr Harjinder Jakhu, alleged that in Rajasthan, a government order was in force making it mandatory to police verification of Sikhs and verification of their record before the registration of any piece of land in their name.

In a letter to AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, Mr Mann said such an order in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan and similar provisions in Himachal Pradesh was violative of constitutional rights and should be revoked.

He said since K.L. Saigal’s contribution to the nation was immense, an international quality auditorium be set up in Punjab in his memory and Prime Minister should inaugurate it.

Referring to alleged leakage of proposed challan prepared by state Vigilance Bureau against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Mr Mann said though Captain Amarinder Singh was a good CM but he was a “weak administrator”.

“Leakage of challan and un-availability of the Chief Ministers to the masses shows he is not a good administrator “ Mann said advocating the need of appointment of able bureaucrats by the Chief Minister.


Panel on surplus irrigation staff
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Alarm bells have started ringing for thousands of employees who have no work to do in the Punjab Irrigation Department. The State Government has set up a three-member committee of Chief Engineers of the department to decide what should be done in case of such employees, who have been taking salary without performing any duty.

The decision to form the committee was taken at a meeting held under the Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal. All senior officers of the Irrigation Department and most of the Chief Engineers were present at the meeting, it is learnt.

There are about 12,000 employees, including work-charged, skilled and operational staff, who have been taking salary by just marking their attendance for the past some years. Their financial liability on the state exchequer is to the tune of Rs 100 crore per year.

Three options were discussed at the meeting. First, such employees should be offered the voluntary retirement scheme. Secondly, those not interested in adopting the retirement scheme should be sent to the surplus pool set up by the State Government. The option of retrenchment of such surplus staff was also disclosed.

Most of these employees have been working at the Ranjit Sagar Dam and the SYL projects. The Ranjit Sagar Dam project was completed and commissioned about two years ago. Work on the SYL canal project, which has been hanging fire since 1986 because of the dispute between Punjab and Haryana, was stopped long back.

A senior officer of the Irrigation Department said that no fresh project had been sanctioned. There was a proposal to start work on the Shahpur Kandi project but money was not available to take up the work. A proposal was mooted to set up a corporation to take loan from the World Bank or NABARD etc for this project. But this proposal has not found favours.

Informed sources said that the issue of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation was also discussed at the meeting. Earlier, there was a proposal to wind it up. However, as employees resisted that move, the government now wanted to find some other way out.


Punjab to pass orders on ineligible cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Claiming to have initiated the process of reverting ineligible police officials, the state of Punjab today asserted that substantial orders would be passed in the matter after receiving the reply of officials to show-cause notices issued to them.

The state further claimed that 28 officials had already been “reverted to their substantive ranks of C-II constables”. The information was furnished to a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Additional Secretary in the Punjab Government’s Department of Home Affairs and Justice R.L. Mehta

In his affidavit, Mr Mehta asserted that a total of 431 officials were promoted from C-II list as Head Constables, “and further to higher ranks in the Punjab Armed Police.... Out of the 431 officials, 337 were sportspersons and 94 officials were non-sports persons”.

Giving details, he added that “show cause notices to 47 officials had been issued by Punjab’s Director General of Police. On receipt of reply from them, substantial orders would be passed. Besides this, the remaining 47 officials had also been issued show cause notices by the Additional Director General of Police, Punjab Armed Police. Out of them, 28 officials had submitted their reply which was found unsatisfactory. The officials have been reverted to their substantive ranks. Action regarding other 19 would be taken on the receipt of their reply to the show cause notices”.

Taking up the case, the Bench, headed by Mr Justice J.S. Khehar, directed the filing of a fresh affidavit. The Bench also fixed December 6 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The High Court had earlier granted the state time to file a reply on a petition filed by 26 Head Constables seeking directions for the reversion of Assistant Sub Inspectors working on ad hoc basis to make place for them. Claiming to have passed “intermediate school course”, Head Constable Kuldip Singh and others had earlier contended that they had so far not been promoted though the vacancies were being filled through ad hoc promotions.

The petitioners had added that ad hoc appointments were being made at the cost of qualified persons awaiting their turn for promotion despite qualifying the required courses for promotion.


Fast-track courts to hear NRI cases
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 20
Mr Balbir Singh a Congress member of the Lok Sabha from Jalandhar has said that fast track courts would be set up in the state for settling the disputes of Non Resident Indians.

Talking to mediapersons here today he said that the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court had agreed to set up fast track courts to deal with cases of NRI’s.

He disclosed that the Advocate General Punjab had met the Chief Justice Punjab and Haryana High Court recently where the issue to set up fast track courts was taken up and the Chief Justice had reportedly given his consent.

Mr Balbir Singh who is also Vice Patron of the Punjab NRI Sabha told that the grievances, property disputes and other problems would be solved with the appointment of NRI Lambardars in villages.


Chawla is BJP medical cell President
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The President of the Punjab BJP has made the following appointments: Dr Baldev Raj Chawla (state president medical cell); Mr Satpal Gosain (beopar cell); Mr Satpal Saini (cooperative cell); Mr Satpal Mahajan (local bodies cell); Mr Ashok Bharti (legal cell); Mr Mehnga Singh Khera (backward class cell); Col. Partap Inder Singh (ex-servicemen cell); Mr Avinash Jaiswal (in charge office management) and Mr Daulat Ram Kamboj (convener of the publication cell).

Meanwhile, the following have been appointed as prabharis of various state morchas and cells: Chaudhary Swarna Ram (SC morcha); Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla (mahila morcha); Brig M.S. Dhillon (ex-servicemen cell) and Mr Harbans Lal Sethi (legal cell).


Emergency ward door shut on patients
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 20
Mr Vikas Kumar of Professors’ Colony here has complained to the DC Kapurthala and Civil Surgeon that he had to take his ailing brother Raj Kumar back because the door of the Emergency Ward of Civil Hospital here was not opened though he knocked at it for long. The staff on emergency duty was apparently asleep.

It was learnt yesterday that Raj Kumar had sudden acute pain in his stomach on November 16 night. His elder brother Mr Vikas Kumar, along with his mother, younger brother and a friend took him to hospital but found the door of the Emergency ward closed. He kept pounding at the door but got no response as the doctor on duty and other staff of the Emergency Ward were asleep.

The complainant alleged that he waited for long. A nurse from another ward came and gave an injection to his brother after which they took him back to home. his brother was in pain since he had appendicitis.

Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO Civil Hospital, said that the patient operated upon on Tuesday for appendicitis and was satisfied. He declared that the matter of the door being not opened would be probed.


‘Bullah’ faces another ‘fatwa’
Organisers censor out Banda Bahadur’s role in the play
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 20
When Pakistani director Madeeha Gauhar stated in the preface to her play ‘Bullah’ that Baba Bulleh Shah lived in times of religious and ideological intolerance not much different from present day conditions in South Asia, her words had a ring of truth. Like the saint poet Bullah who faced many a ‘fatwa’ from the Muslim clergy of his time, the play after his name which was brought to Punjab from Pakistan too faced a ‘fatwa’ by way of censorship at the Central State Library here where it was staged last night.

Sufi saint Bulleh Shah’s message for peace and tolerance became more relevant today after a large portion of “objectionable” script pertaining to Banda Singh Bahadur, warrior-disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, was deleted from the play at the instance of the organisers. The play was staged by the Ajoka group from Pakistan, a troupe which has carved a niche for itself in the world of theatre and has come to symbolise struggle for social justice and tolerance in Pakistan.

Set up nearly two decades ago by cultural activists during Zia-ul-Haq’s repressive regime in the country, Ajoka has been promoting the cause of Indo-Pak peace through the medium of theatre. The first play performed by Ajoka ‘Jaloos’ was written by revolutionary playwright Badal Sircar, the group has also worked with the late Safdar Hashmi.

Director of the play Madeeha Gauhar expressing disappointment at not being allowed to screen the play in totality stated what we have faced here is exactly what we are fighting against. We look forward to India for inspiration as belonging to an Islamic country we feel, we can learn a lot from secular India. However, this forced omission is a comment on the changing atmosphere here that the play which decries intolerance of the Muslim clergy has faced censorship here instead in Pakistan.

An agitated Madeeha said the play was widely appreciated in Amritsar and also by the rural audience of Dhudhike (Lala Lajpat Rai’s native village). She said, however, on reaching Patiala they were told by the organisers to omit scenes involving Sikh history. Madeeha stressed there was nothing objectionable in the scenes which had been omitted adding the troupe was here not to inflame passions but to create goodwill.

One of the organisers Ved Prakash Gupta, Chairman PRTC, when asked about the omitting of nearly an hour of screenplay said that the deleted portion was ‘not relevant’ to the central theme of the play. He stated that following an objection against the portrayal of Banda Bahadur by a SGPC member he decided to ask the director to omit that portion altogether. Director, State Languages Department, M. L. Hasija, who is also one of the organisers echoed the same sentiments when asked about the issue, he added, and said that he had read the script and that the deleted portion was ‘superfluous’ to the story.

However, the move drew flak from intellectuals and theatre lovers of the city who condemned the censorship. Writer and HoD, Hindi Department, Punjabi University, Dr Chaman Lal said that ‘No right-thinking person can condone this attack on the freedom of expression of artistes’. Many theatre activists and academics also denounced the omission.

The play, however, deserved the ovation it received from the jam-packed auditorium. Popular Pakistani theatre and television artiste Sarfraz Ansari, who plays the central character of Baba Bulleh Shah, brought to life the Sufi mystic through his powerful performance. He pays rich tribute to this beacon of hope and humanism by taking us on a journey through Bulleh’s search for truth, his devotion to his mentor and his conflict with intolerant clergy and corrupt Nawabs.

The play makes generous use of Sufi poetry rendered melodiously by actors and Javed Bashir Qawwal troupe to bring alive the poignancy of the times to the audience. The play which is also a celebration of the rich and vibrant culture of Punjab left a few among the audience unmoved. Sohrab Khan and Imran ul Haq who play Sona and Chandi — the two disciples of Bulleh Shah besides being the narrators of the play which is screened partly in flashback deserve appreciation for their performance.


Kharar all set for 7-cr sewer system
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, November 20
The town will at last have a much-needed sewer system with preparations afoot for the implementation of the Rs 7 crore project by the municipal committee. The water supply system of the town is also being augmented at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore.

The plans prepared in connection with the laying of the sewerage have been cleared by officials of the Punjab Sewerage Board. Sites for sinking eight new tubewells are also being selected.

So far, sewer pipes had been laid in about 40 per cent of the area only, including inner parts of the town and some parts of Dashmesh Nagar and Ranjit Nagar.

Mr Charanjit Singh, president of the municipal committee, said the project had been prepared to provide sewerage in Wards 1 to VIII and XI and XII. He said the committee had applied for loans for the projects to be provided by Hudco. The process of clearing of the loans was now at an advanced stage.

A survey for selecting the sites for sinking eight new tubewells has also been conducted. In fact, Mr Charanjit Singh, along with officials of the engineering wing and the sewerage board, inspected the sites today in this regard.

The town has been facing an acute water shortage. There are only 10 tubewells to provide water which cover only 70 per cent of the area. The pressure of water also remains low and as such those residing on first floor and above do not get the supply of water. The availability of water in the town is 28 lakh litres per day against the requirement of 45 lakh litres per day.

Mr Charanjit Singh said efforts were made to improve the water supply position by next year. Eight tubewells were being sunk in areas like Dashmesh Nagar, near the cremation ground, in Mundi Kharar, on Badala and gurdwara roads, near Dasehra Ground, in Khanpur and the Mundi Kharar area. To expedite work, the committee would give finances to the sewerage board to sink three tubewells. The amount spent by the committee could later be adjusted against 20 per cent share it had to contribute in the project.

It has also been planned to construct four water tanks having a capacity of 1 lakh gallons each under the Hudco project.

Mr Charanjit Singh said the committee had also urged the government to provide water to the town from the Bhakra main line on the pattern of Chandigarh and SAS Nagar.

He said efforts were also being made to check water wastage and the use of tullu pumps by certain residents which adversely affected the supply of water.


Play staged on female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 20
The students of Gobindgarh Public School during their annual function today held a Punjabi play “Kangiari” which attacked the social evil of female foeticide. The play was highly appreciated by the audience. The Deputy Commissioner said the play would be staged in the entire district to create awareness about the crime.

The play questions the dual standards adopted by the society the birth of a daughter and son, while both are two vital organs of our social fabric. The play cautions the audience that if the society continues to discriminate the birth of a child on sex basis, it will lead to social disaster.

Mr Bahadur Singh, Principal of the school, said Fatehgarh Sahib was the most sacred religious place of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Ironically, the most heinous crime against woman was being committed here as the district had the lowest sex ratio in the country.


Regulate labour influx, says Dal Khalsa

Jalandhar, November 20
The Dal Khalsa yesterday demanded laws for regulating the entry of migrant labourers in Punjab and reservation of jobs for Punjabis in the agricultural and other private as well as public sectors.

Talking to reporters here party president Harcharanjit Singh Dhami and general secretary Kawar Pal Singh said the influx of migrant labourers from states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had posed a serious problem in the state and even affected the law and order situation.

This had also created a problem of unemployment for the Punjabi labourers. The leaders said at present the number of unemployed Punjabi youths was over 15 lakh.

However, they clarified that they did not want the entry of migrant labourers stopped or banned. The party just wanted that special laws should be framed to make compulsory the registration of such labourers.

Besides, special provision of job reservation for Punjabi people in private and public sectors should also be made, they demanded. — UNI


Seven injured in group clash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 20
Seven persons, including a woman, were injured following a group clash over a piece of land at Seomajra village, around 30 km from here today. The injured were admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital here.

The injured were brought to the city even though the clash took place at Seomajra village which is in Haryana but is close to the Patiala district border. According to sources sharp-edged weapons were used by both groups and a gun had also been fired.

The injured were identified as Bant Singh (42), his son, Chhota Singh (17), and wife, Jatinder Kaur (40). The members of the other group who have been injured are Malkit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh (50), Harmesh Singh (48) and Gurdev Singh (70).

The sources said Bant Singh was in possession of two kanals which was also claimed by other group which also attacked his family. The sources said both the groups used swords to attack each other with one of the group members also firing from a gun. A few of those admitted had received severe injuries.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a bicycle rider was run over by a truck near railway station. The deceased has been identified as Ram Charan who was serving as a lineman in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The truck driver is absconding. In another incident, a person was injured when he fell from a moving train. According to sources, Uttaranchal resident Bhagwan Singh was injured when he slipped from a moving train when it was approaching the railway station. Sources said Bhagwan Singh’s foot had slipped which resulted in the mishap. He had been admitted to Rajindra Hospital.


Sena for ban on Pak pilgrims

Amritsar, November 20
The All-India Hindu Shiv Sena demanded a ban on Muslims’ visits to India in view of the ban on Hindu pilgrims visiting Pakistan.

In a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Minister for External Affairs Yashwant Sinha, Sena president Surinder Kumar Billa demanded that a ban be imposed on Muslim pilgrims, as the Pakistan Government was not respecting the protocol agreement reached between India and Pakistan in 1989. — OC


Blast claims life

Pathankot, November 20
One person was killed and another injured when a bomb exploded on the premises of Bharat Bartan Udyog at Taragarh, about 25 km from here today. The bomb exploded while two migrant labourers were dismantling scrap material. The deceased has been identified as Ashok Kumar. — OC


Award for social activist

Bathinda, November 20
Mr Vijay Goyal, a social activist and president, Sahara Jan Sewa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has been selected for the Bhai Kanhaiya Award by the Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji Sewa Panthi, Goniana Mandi, which has been running the Bhai Kanhaiya Charitable Trust.

Mr Goyal has been selected for the award for his selfless service to mankind, according to a press note issued by the Sewa Panthi. The award will be given on November 23. — TNS


6 get bail in Dalit-farmer clash case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 20
Mr Varinder Kumar Megh, Special Judge here today granted bail to six persons — Kesar Singh, sarpanch of Hasanpur village; Gurdeep Singh, ex-Sarpanch; Jasbir Singh, Hardip Singh, Karamjit Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, in a case registered against them under Section 307, 323, 148, 149, 353, 186, 332 of the IPC, and Section 3 of the SC Act 1989, by the Dhuri police on November 11 last.

The Judge declined anticipatory bail to 11 persons, involved in this case. The names of 11 persons are Jaspal Singh, Achhra Singh, Balraj Singh, Chhota Singh, Mela Singh, Maddi, Nirmal Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Jagjit Singh, Avtar Singh, and Jagtar Singh.

A “clash” between the Dalits and the Zamidars of the Hasanpur village, near Dhuri, allegedly took place on November 11 over piece of “shamlat” (common land) in the village. In this clash, 20 persons were injured.


Milk import to hit Punjab dairy farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 20
The Punjab government has urged the Centre to impose duty on the import of milk products to save Punjab dairy farmers.

After getting reports that import of milk products have been causing a setback to the economy of Punjab dairy farmers.

The Punjab government has apprised Union Agriculture Minister, Raghunath Singh of its concern.

Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Jagmohan Kang, who was here today, pointed out that if the Centre did not impose a duty on the import of milk products, it would hit the economy of Punjab dairy farmers affecting the sale of products of milk plants of the state.

He said that to resolve problem of stray animals and a high-level committee had been set up.

He said that cow shelters were being set up with the help of voluntary organisations and the Punjab government had also demanded funds from the Centre for projects to check menace of stray animals.


Bill to amend cooperative Act in winter session
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
The Punjab government has decided to provide more powers and autonomy to the cooperative institutions by amending the ‘Punjab Self supporting Cooperatives Societies Act.

The Bill has already been cleared by the cabinet. It will be tabled in the coming winter session of the Punjab Legislative Assembly. With the passage of this Bill, the role of the government officers would be negligible in the functioning of the cooperative institutions. The government is also planning to bring an Ordinance by which the elected representatives would become members of the co-operative societies more than two times.

This was stated today by Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Finance, Planning and Cooperation, Punjab, while addressing the gathering the concluding state-level function of 50th All-India Cooperative Week organised by state Cooperative Department, Punjab here today.

Mr Lal Singh asserted that the cooperative movement was contributing in a big way towards the economy of the state and it had strong network of 22,000 cooperative societies with 42 lakh members. He said the government had decided to scrap Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Loan Act, which was enacted in 1978.

The minister said the government had accorded a top priority to enhance the area of operation of the village-level cooperative societies and 500 societies had been converted into multi-purpose societies. He said to provide relief to the debt-ridden farmers, the government had launched a scheme to clear the pending loans. So far 8500 loan cases involving Rs 26 crore had been settled.


Licence of diagnostic centre suspended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 20
The Senior Medical Officer (SMO), in charge of the local Civil Hospital, suspended the licence of a diagnostic centre here today for functioning in violation of the guidelines laid under the PNDT Act.

Dr S.S. Dhanoa, SMO, who inspected various diagnostic centres being the appropriate authority under the PNDT Act, said the licence of Mata Diagnostic Centre had been suspended on a temporary basis as it was not availing the services of an experienced doctor. He said the centre had been told to engage an experienced doctor failing which the licence would be cancelled on a permanent basis.

He said three other centres that were inspected were working according to the guidelines laid down under the PNDT Act.

The licence of a diagnostic centre running in the Civil Hospital had earlier been suspended by the district authorities as it did not have a regular ultrasonoligist. Even though the problem had been brought to the notice of higher authorities by the hospital, no one has been posted here so far.


Akali leader booked for bribery bid
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
Mr Tarsem Singh Sialka, a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader, was booked by the Majitha police allegedly for trying to bribe Jagdev Singh, an Assistant Sub Inspector of Tahli Sahib Chowki under the Majitha police district last evening.

Mr Jagdev Singh alleged that the accused tried to bribe him for making a false report regarding the injuries to Surjit Kaur, a resident of Sialka village as inflicted with a sharp-edged weapon. She was injured in a scuffle with Dewan Singh of same area on October 26. He said during the scuffle the both ‘parties’ (of Dewan Singh and Surjit Kaur) hurled stones in which Surjit Kaur was injured.

According to police sources, the ‘political persons’ persuaded Bachan Singh, father of Surjit Kaur to register a complaint against Dewan Singh. The police took legal advice and sent Jagdev Singh with Surjit Kaur for medical check-up.

Jagdev Singh alleged that Tarsem Singh while giving bribe of Rs 5,000 insisted to show wounds as caused by sharp-edged weapon, so that a false case could be registered against Dewan Singh. He alleged that accused also tried to put political pressure.

A case has been registered against the accused under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1998 at Kathunangal police station in Majitha Police District. Mr Balraj Singh Sidhu, DSP Majitha who was entrusted the inquiry said the accused was at large after a case was registered.


Rs 4.38 lakh looted from bank

Moga, November 20
In a broad daylight robbery, three unidentified scooter-borne youths looted Rs 4.38 lakh at gunpoint from Central Cooperative Bank at Saidoke village under the Nihalsingh Wala police station yesterday.

According to SP (Detective) S. Pannu, three unidentified youths, two turbaned and one clean-shaven, arrived at the bank branch on two scooters at around 1 p.m.

After entering the bank, first they snatched Rs 10,000 from a customer, who had withdrawn the amount from the bank. Then at gunpoint they asked the Manager to hand over the money he had in the bank. The manager handed over Rs 2.28 lakh to them. Then one of the robbers asked the Manager to open the safe and after taking another sum of Rs 2 lakh, the robbers fled.

The police has registered a case. — UNI


Former sarpanch commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 20
Former sarpanch of Surtapur village, about 15 km from here, Ram Singh, reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself.

Police sources said Ram Singh entered the house of his alleged paramour at about 1.30 a.m.

He was noticed by the son of his paramour who bolted the door of the house from outside and raised the alarm. Villagers gathered outside the house and fearing backlash, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

The villagers found the body after the door was opened in the presence of the present sarpanch Nirmal Singh.

The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

The woman when contacted told newspersons that Ram Singh entered her house last night and she and her son bolted the door from outside. When people collected outside the house, he committed suicide.

The son of Ram Singh, Netar Singh, however, alleged that his father was murdered and demanded a probe into the incident.


PTU to ‘e-monitor’ distance education centres
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 20
To revamp its distance education programme (DEP), Punjab Technical University (PTU) has initiated “E-monitoring” of its all 400 distance education centres (DECs) across the country.

Under this step the university’s dependence on human resources for the monitoring of performance of these centres would be curtailed to end scope of discrimination in the evaluation of performance of 400 distance education centres of the PTU was concerned.

Apart from better administration of the centres, the networking of these centres, which, has been started on a test-basis, would prove to be a boon for 22000 students of distance education centres as they would get the facility of Interactive Video Conferencing and access to the university’s digital library.

Meanwhile, the high-powered Task Force, constituted by PTU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Y.S. Rajan to revamp the distance education has also planned to increase the number of existing 400 DECs to 4000 in phases. In another major step towards ensuring a total “e-education”, the Task Force, headed by Dr. Kalanidhi, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Anna University, has decided to issue smart cards, with 2 k memory chip, to university’s DEP students.

“We could not monitor private partners earlier, but, we have decided to change the entire scenario and now we would be able to monitor all centres from a single room in PTU complex. The ‘e-monitoring’ would be a human free process as it would be based on ‘auto-generation’ of messages and a special software, which would automatically issue warning notice to a centre, the performance of which was found to be not satisfactory.

The system would come with in-built digital signatures and nobody would be able to say that it had not received the warning letters. If the centre staff failed to pay heed to warnings, the DEC would be revoked,” said Dr Kalanidhi, the Chairman of the PTU Task Force on DEP. He revealed that the “e-monitoring” would be conducted with the help of V-Sat. He claimed that PTU was the first university in Asia, to attain the facility of total “e-monitoring” such a large number of its DECs.

He said the smart card would have all details of a student, his accounting, and it would be useful for those certificate course students who had done more than one course from the university. Apart from conducting refresher courses for M.Tech teachers on the lines of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the number of existing 40-45 certificate courses would also be increased to train and certify people from different walks of life in one or other professions, he added.


Essay writing contest results
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 20
The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology organised a district-level “National children science congress-2003” at Government Senior Secondary School, here yesterday. Essay writing and declamation contests were organised.

The results are: essay writing: Preet Inder Kaur (Guru Nanak Mission Senior Secondary School, Dhahan Kaleran), Akankasha Sharma and Amandeep Kaur (Shivalik Public School) in the English section and Inderjit Singh, Sandip Kaur (Government Senior Secondary School, Nawanshahr) and Navjeet Kaur (Adarsh Bal Vidyalaya, Nawanshahr) in the Punjabi section won the first three positions, respectively.

Declamation and model presentation: Megha Sobti (Government Senior Secondary School, Nawanshahr), Balwinder (Government Senior Secondary School Boys, Rahon) and Navjot Singh (Government Senior Secondary School, Jadla) in the 14 to 17 age group won the first three positions, respectively. Mohan Lal (Government Senior Secondary School Boys, Rahon) and Sonaljit Kaur (Government Senior Secondary School, Nawanshahr) in the 11 to 14 age group won the first and second position, respectively.


Raid on varsity don’s house decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
The executive committee of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association, taking serious note of the police raid on the house of Dr M.D. Singh, head of Department of Laws, in connection with the suicide by a student of department, demanded that the university should take up the matter with the authorities concerned.

Dr Narpinder Singh, president and Dr Kuldip Singh secretary, respectively, of the association in a press note said that the head of the department had discharged his duties while the police had raided his premises without permission of the university authorities.


55th anniversary of NCC celebrated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 20
A state-level function was organised to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the National Cadet Corps by its group headquarters at Guru Nanak Dev University here today. A march past was held on the occasion by cadets.

Weapons and equipment were also on display, besides a photo exhibition of NCC activities. Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, was the guest of honour.

A culture programme was also held.


Engg colleges for rural students

Talwandi Sabo, November 20
Punjabi University, Patiala, has decided to open engineering colleges in various pockets of the state for imparting technical and job-oriented education to rural students.

Dr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of the university, disclosed this here today while presiding over a meeting convened on the Punjabi University regional campus in connection with setting up an engineering college in this historical town. — TNS


Students block traffic
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 20
Students and staff members of the Government Polytechnic Institute in Khoonimajra village, near here, blocked traffic on the Kharar-Banur road today in protest against the Punjab Government’s move to privatise various polytechnics and engineering colleges.

Students said when the fees pattern was low in the state the government was running these institutes. Now when the fees had been drastically hiked, it wanted to hand over these institutes in the hands of private persons.

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