P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Prove charges or resign, Sukhbir tells CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Ludhiana, November 22
The Rajya Sabha member, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today challenged Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to either prove the allegations regarding foreign properties owned by the Badals or resign from office.

Reacting sharply to the challan filed against the Badal family by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) in a Ropar court today, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said the figures mentioned regarding the value of property in the challan were fudged and manipulated.

Addressing a Press conference here today and earlier at Ludhiana, Mr Sukhbir said the challan in the disproportionate assets case filed against them had pegged their properties at Rs 4,326 crore, of which Rs 3,825 crore had been shown as foreign assets. He dared the ADGP, Vigilance, Mr A.P. Pandey, to come out with any proof of their foreign properties.

The challan, the junior Badal claimed, was a mere drama enacted by the Chief Minister to save his own skin in the defamation case filed against him by the Badals and was using the Vigilance Bureau as a tool. “We will take legal opinion on the issue and may file a defamation case against the ADGP, Vigilance, and his team investigating the case for misleading the public,” he said.

Mr Sukhbir said the figures presented in the challan about the Orbit Resorts property at Gurgaon had been overevaluated and loans worth about Rs 50 crore taken from various banks had not been reflected in that. While the Vigilance claims we invested Rs 51 crore, the actual investment has been Rs 84 crore. He termed it to be a technical mistake on their part.

The junior Badal belied the vigilance claims by clarifying that his mother, Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, had not invested even a single penny in the Orbit Resorts. Talking about their second major property at Balasar farms, he said the same had also been overevaluated by the private evaluators, who had shown an expenditure of Rs 50 lakh incurred by the PWD Department on the construction of the approach road and another Rs 62 lakh that had been spent on filling the plinth level of the Balasar House in their account.

Responding to a question, the junior Badal said he was ready to appear before the court as and when summoned. Cocking a snook at the state intelligence agencies and the Vigilance Department, the former Union Minister said their “loyalists” were present in each department. Those who helped them get the sensitive vigilance documents would be suitably rewarded.

Meanwhile, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a Press conference at Jalandhar said he would resign from politics in case any of his alleged “foreign” property was proved. He dared the Chief Minister to resign if they failed to come out with any proof. “What to talk of foreign property, even if they prove that I own 10,000 acres of land in Rajasthan, I will resign from politics.

He said a “gang” of five Vigilance Bureau top officers, which was trying to implicate him and his family would have to face the consequences when his party came to power.

The SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, termed the filing of the chargesheet as a deep-rooted conspiracy of the state government to make SAD leaderless, but added that the activists of the Akalis would give them a befitting reply.

The SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has called it to another attempt by the Congress to unleash vendetta against the Akalis.

Former Assembly Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Ministers Ajit Singh Kuhad and Shrawan Singh Phillaur and SAD leaders Gurdeep Singh Bhuller and district spokesman Gurcharan Singh Channi from Jalandhar said this action of the Chief Minister would boomerang and the government would fall soon.


Speaker confirms clearing Badal’s prosecution
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, said he had already given his assent for filing a case in the court based upon 83-page report of the Vigilance Bureau containing the details of the Badal’s property exceeding his known sources of income.

He said he had gone through the report carefully and gave approval for filing the case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister. He said power to grant permission to prosecute an MLA was with the Speaker. He clarified that as Mr Badal was an ordinary MLA and as such did not require the permission of Governor to prosecute him.

Dr Kewal Krishan said it seemed there was nexus between Mr Badal and the former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), Mr Ravi Sidhu, who was involved in the multi-crore cash-for-jobs scam.

He said the two letters written by Mr Badal to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee recommending the name of Mr Sidhu for the membership of the Union Public Service Commission pointed to the close relationship between the two.

The Speaker was speaking to newsmen after hosting a reception of presiding officers of various state Assembly Speakers, who were on a two-day visit to the holy city under the chairmanship of Prof Mangal Bhai Patel, Speaker, Gujarat Assembly.

Addressing the newsmen, Mr G.C. Malhotra, Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, said the committee was formed under the directions of Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, to discuss the problems being faced by the state Assemblies and suggest solutions. However, the proceedings of the committee were not allowed to be made public.

Other presiding officers included Mr Martin M. Danggo from Meghalaya, Mr Gangu Ram Mussafir from Himachal, Mr Satbir Singh Kadian from Haryana, Mr Kiyanilie Peseyie from Nagaland, Dr K. Kalimuthu from Tamil Nadu, Mr Kewal Krishan from Punjab and secretaries of Gujarat and Punjab Legislative Assemblies D.M. Patel and Nachhatar Singh Mavi, respectively.


Nakas set up near CM’s house
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
The district police today set up nakas at all important roads leading to the city, besides posting police personnel near major gurdwaras and close to the residence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to ensure that the protest call given by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) does not affect normal movement on roads as well as in the city tomorrow.

Sources disclosed that nakas had been set up at Bahadurgarh on the outskirts of the city on the Rajpura road, both on the road and near the entrance to the historical gurdwara there. Similarly, police personnel had been deputed at the Sirhind bypass and at the Dukhniwaran gurdwara in the city. Besides, nakas have been set up on the Bhadson road and the Samana road.

The police has been posted in strength close to the residence of the Chief Minister in the city to foil any attempt by Akali workers to march to the residence. Meanwhile, Akali sources disclosed that SAD workers would gather at two places in the city to block traffic tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. They said traffic would be blocked at Gagan Chowk in Rajpura and at the Passiana bridge in the city.


SHOs told to be on the alert
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Instructions in the district have been issued to all Station House Officers (SHOs) to ensure presence of sufficient force to tackle any eventuality in the event of the arrest of former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal.

Sources said the instructions had been issued at the district-level following a communication received from the State headquarters. 


A backgrounder
CM-Badal fight enters judicial arena
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
With the filing of the challan against the Badals and their associates today, the clash between the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, entered the judicial arena.

The onus has been shifted on to the Badals to disapprove what has been presented in the court against them by Capt Amarinder Singh through the Vigilance Bureau, which has remained in focus right from the day the Congress came to power in Punjab in February last year.

The fight between the two hotted up in September, 2001, though it began in 1997 when the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, denied in an insulting manner the party ticket to Capt Amarinder Singh to contest the assembly elections. Mr Badal’s move was backed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra then. On the night of January 16, 1997, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was then in the SAD, had awaited the whole night for the telephone call from Mr Badal to hear about the allotment of the ticket, but the call never came.

By denying the party ticket to him, Mr Badal had tried not only to push Capt Amarinder Singh into political wilderness but also to finish his political career. Capt Amarinder Singh, who had joined the SAD after quitting the Congress, was left with no alternative but to sulk for a while. The denial of the ticket by Mr Badal proved a blessing in disguise for him. In September, 1997, he rejoined the Congress and became the Chief Minister in February last year.

He is now out to pay back Mr Badal in the same coin. In fact, he has not aimed only to finish the political career of Mr Parkash Singh Badal but also of his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh, whom the senior Badal has groomed as his political successor. Well before the assembly elections in 2002, Capt Amarinder Singh had opened a front against Mr Parkash Singh. To be precise, on September 5, 2001, Capt Amarinder Singh released a long list of the properties which he described had been amassed by the Badals. He had pegged the worth of properties at Rs 3,500 crore.

And it led to the levelling of allegations and counter-allegations between the two. There was an exchange of letters loaded with hard comments on the issue. However, Capt Amarinder Singh’s attack was so forceful that it made life difficult for Mr Badal who had worked hard to recapture the power in the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh and his advisers launched a furious advertisement campaign in the print and electronic media as part of the poll campaign in January, 2002. Immediately after taking over as Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh restructured the Vigilance Bureau and gave it full powers to go after Akali ministers, especially those who were close to Mr Badal.

He set up a separate team to start investigations against the Badals and their close associates. He built pressure on the Badals step by step.

Capt Amarinder Singh first ordered to take on the then Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Mr Ravi Sidhu. This case brought immense publicity for Capt Amarinder Singh and his government. Then started the arrest of Akali ministers one by one. Capt Amarinder Singh, who had earlier announced to set up a judicial commission to probe corruption charges against Mr Badal and his ministers, abandoned the idea as he found that the investigation and arrests made by the Vigilance Bureau were getting a lot of publicity for his government and making him “hero” in eyes of the people.

However, as the investigation against the Badals started slackening over the past months, Capt Amarinder Singh’s campaign against corruption started losing its sheen. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was in panic at the initial stage, started recovering politically.

In the past few months, Mr Badal succeeded to launch a counter-campaign against Capt Amarinder Singh and his ministers. He told the people at various public rallies that the entire campaign against him was politically motivated. The Badals have been outsmarting and outwitting the Vigilance Bureau as well as Capt Amarinder Singh in all moves in the recent months.

However, the political fate of Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal hinges on the court case filed today. If Capt Amarinder Singh succeeds to nail Mr Badal and his associates in the court on corruption charges, Mr Badal and his son will be finished politically. But in case Capt Amarinder Singh fails, then his political career will be over. 


General warns Pak against proxy war
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 22
Gen N.C. Vij, Chief of the Army Staff, has warned Pakistan against fanning the proxy war against India.

Talking to mediapersons here today on the occasion of the 225th raising day celebrations of 2 Guards (1 Grenadiers), Gen Vij said Pakistan should close down all 85 militant-training camps for peace in the sub-continent.

General Vij said surveillance was being carried out to check infiltration from across the border. Later, addressing a sainik sammelan organised to mark the 225th anniversary of 2 Guards (1 Grenadiers), General Vij exhorted all ranks to continue working with zeal.

The General highlighted the fast-changing trends in modern warfare. General Vij complimented the unit for its superlative performance in the sphere of training and operations. A special commemorative postage stamp was also released by the General.


Suspended Punjabi varsity Registrar on
sticky wicket
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai has proved that he is a hard taskmaster. Upon joining the university, he had said that he would use persuasion but would not fail to use the rod if needed. He stuck to his words while dealing with agitating students even though the move was thwarted by the state government. Now he has used the rod on a senior teacher, Dr K S Sidhu, who has earlier also served as the Registrar of the university.

Dr Sidhu has recently been closely identified with the university Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R N Pal. The Vice-Chancellor has already clipped Dr Pal’s wings by withdrawing all work from him and has stuck to his guns despite a representation sent by Dr Pal to the university Chancellor against this move. Dr Sidhu had also recently complained to the Chancellor against the “vindictive attitude” of the Vice-Chancellor in not giving him the go ahead to attend conferences abroad. Earlier Dr Sidhu had protested that the Vice-Chancellor had removed him from the post of the Registrar even though he had been appointed for a period of one year.

Dr Sidhu earlier belonged to the anti Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia group and had been “rewarded” following the ouster of Dr Ahluwalia with the position of the Registrar of the university by the then acting Vice-Chancellor, Mr N S Rattan. However, after Mr Boparai took over as the Vice-Chancellor he took umbrage to Dr Sidhu’s style of functioning. Dr Sidhu was removed unceremoniously from the post soon afterwards by the Vice-Chancellor without assigning any reason officially. Though Dr Sidhu protested against the move to the Chancellor, the Chancellor dismissed his petition saying he could be removed because his post was not substantive.

The former Registrar has been adopting an aggressive posture against the university administration ever since he was removed from the registrarship. He has accused the Vice-Chancellor of “humiliating” him in official files and has also filed a defamation suit against Mr Boparai in this regard. Besides, he has protested against the withholding of a no objection certificate (NOC) to him by the university authorities to attend seminars in Austria and Sri Lanka.

However, Dr Sidhu seems to be on a sticky wicket so far as his recent suspension is concerned. The issue has become sensitive because the APRO, whose services have been confirmed by Dr Sidhu, has adverse reports to his credit on his file. In fact, the probation period of the APRO was extended by six months earlier because the then Director, Public Relations, had filed an adverse report against the APRO. Dr Sidhu has claimed that the Establishment Branch should be hauled up for forwarding the APRO’s file to him and that action should not be taken against him alone.

Meanwhile, in a welcome departure from the past, the university is on its way to soliciting money for establishing Chairs. The Gurmat Sangeet Chair has been established in the university with the support of the Sri Guru Gian Parkash Foundation of New Delhi. The trust is also funding the establishment of a Gurmat bhavan at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. The bhavan, when it comes up, will be the first such building to be constructed through outside funds. A function was held to mark the occasion which saw noted ragis, the Singh Bandhus and music composer Uttam Singh, besides others singing “shabad gurbani” on the occasion.


Tax evasion by UP MP’s firm detected
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 22
The MP from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh is likely to be in dock as the Enforcement Directorate of the Sales and Excise Department has detected large scale evasion of Sales Tax by a firm owned by him in Rajpura.

Sources said that a team of Tax Department comprising Additional Commissioner Krishan Kumar and Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioners Yashwant Sharma, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr KVS Sidhu and Mr Amrik Singh raided the premises of Sheela Foam, a company owned by the said MP at Rajpura. The company was exempted from the Sales Tax up to a limit of Rs 5 crore.

It was found that the company was manufacturing its product in UP and using the Rajpura-based unit just to avail the Sales Tax exemption. The company had already availed the Sales Tax exemption worth Rs 40 lakh. The taxman are now initiating the process of recovering the exempted Sales Tax from the company and getting the rest of exemption to its Rajpura unit cancelled.

Taxmen also raided the Ludhiana offices of Bhushan Steel, Arti Steel and Upper India all steel manufacturing units. The sources told that the units were found carrying out fake consignment sales to evade Sales Tax. The companies were showing their consignment sales in Haryana while the product was sold else where thus evading Sales Tax.

Raids were also conducted at Moji General Store in Patiala, Tarsem Trunk House in Dhuri. In Moji General Store large scale evasion of Sales Tax in sale of foreign goods was detected. Sales Tax evasion worth Rs 15 lakh was expected to be recovered from the owners of Moji General Store.

Owners of Tarsem Trunk House have already deposited Rs 1.40 lakh as evaded Sales Tax.


Villagers, CPM leaders allege terror by Nihang chief, men
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
Residents of ‘Puhala’ village in Tarn Taran police district and Communist Party (Marxist) leaders today levelled serious allegations of excesses on innocent persons by a Nihang Chief Ajit Singh Puhala and his dera men.

At a press conference here today, the villagers released the copy of letter written to the Chief Minister citing nine ‘criminal’ acts committed by the dera chief and his followers. This included abduction, causing damage to farm equipments, encroachments on panchayat lands, causing grave injuries, giving threats, purposely driving animals into fields of villagers and causing social unrest. They alleged that the accused along with his men frequently picked quarrels with villagers and thrashed them on opposition. He was alleged to be taking his jeeps with red lights and hooters around the village to create panic, they claimed.

Mr Gurkirpal Singh, SSP, Tarn Taran, said that the all accused were absconding including the Nihang chief. He said the police was looking for them and they would be arrested soon.

However, the villagers alleged that the police failed to take any action against accused despite several FIRs’ lodged against him allegedly due to his political clout. They urged the CM to take action against the person who was allegedly causing terror in the village.

The CPM leader Mr Jagtar Singh Karampura threatened to gherao the Bhikhiwind police station if the police did not act within 10 days.


Girl turns down greedy groom

Moga, November 22
Treading the path shown by Ghaziabad-based Nisha, a girl belonging to Sunam in Sangrur district forced a marriage party to return empty-handed in Kot Ise Khan town, near here, yesterday.

The demand for a costly diesel car led to a fracas as the girl, Jyoti, and her parents refused to oblige the would-be-groom, Aman Thakur.

However, they insisted on a car in dowry as was decided earlier. When the groom persisted with his demand, the girl point-blank refused to marry a person with such greed.

Earlier, during the breakfast, the brothers-in-law of the groom and the girl had a heated exchange over a trivial matter. This led to a brawl in which members of the marriage party were given a good thrashing.

However, at the intervention of the police and elders of the town, the marriage party was allowed to return without solemnising the marriage but not before shelling out Rs 3 lakh to the girl’s family. — UNI


Rail supervisor found guilty of negligence
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 22
The three-member Panel probing the episode involving Jammu bound Himgiri Express here on November 3 submitted its report to Mr Hukam Chand Punia, Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur Division, Northern Railways, following which the DRM had chargesheeted a Railway Supervisor cum Incharge of the track repair work in the portion ahead of Satnampura level crossing for negligence.

When contacted today, Mr Punia confirmed it. A rail mishap was averted due to the alertness of the driver of 3073 Up Jammu-Himgiri Express who applied emergency brakes on noticing that the fishplates of the track were not in place at the outerpost of Phagwara Railway Station between the “starter” and “advance” area ahead of Satnampura railway crossing. The fishplates were removed for the repair of the track by PWI Staff of the Railways who left after doing their job. However, the staff concerned had not fixed the fishplates.

Mr Punia constituted the inquiry committee comprising Assistance Railway Engineer, Assistant Mechanical Engineer and Assistant Traffic Engineer on November 4. The Panel gave report to Mr Punia pinpointing the negligence of the Railway Supervisor cum Incharge.

Mr Punia informed that a probe into the November 18 incident of sparks in the Junction Box of one of the coaches of the Amritsar-Darbhanga Jan Nayak Express near Jandiala Guru had pointed out a public negligence rather than any technical snag.


MP seeks opening of level crossing
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 22
Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, has requested the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, to initiate proceedings to pull down part of a wall erected to close the level crossing at Paras Ram Nagar after the construction of a railway overbridge there. He said the step would benefit the pedestrians, cyclists and rickshaw pullers in the area.

In a letter written to Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Bhaura pointed out that after the construction of the railway overbridge, the Paras Ram Nagar level crossing had been closed down with the construction of a bricked wall there.

This had caused a number of difficulties to cyclists and rickshaw pullers who used this stretch of road.

Due to the closure of the level crossing, No 249-A, which was at a stone’s throw from the railway colony and the main city, residents of the area now have to follow a much longer route to commute between main city and the trans-railway colonies.

The newly constructed overbridge might have provided some relief to scooter, car and light vehicle users but the closure of the level crossing had created hardships for pedestrians, cyclists, senior citizens, women and rickshaw pullers, he pointed out.


Akali leader refutes bribery charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
A Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Dr Tarsem Singh Sialka, has refuted the allegation of trying to bribe an Assistant Sub-Inspector for preparing a false report regarding injuries to Surjit Kaur, a resident of Sialka village. Dr Sialka, in a press note issued here today, claimed that ASI Jagdev Singh had filed a false complaint due to an old enmity between them. He said the ASI, along with an SHO, were pressurising and harassing him to withdraw a court case.

Dr Sialka was booked under Section 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act at the Kathunangal police station under Majitha police district on November 19. Jagdev Singh, in his complaint, had alleged that Dr Sialka tried to give him a bribe of Rs 5,000 to show that the injuries of Surjit Kaur were caused by sharp-edged weapons so that a case could be registered against Dewan Singh of the same area.


Selling tractors to meet domestic needs
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur): Selling of five to six-year-old tractors by farmers in the tractor mandi here indicates the poor economic conditions and domestic compulsions of the farmers which compel them to sell their tractors even at throwaway prices. Some are of the view that the Sunam tractor mandi not only narrates the tale of woes of farmers of the area but also of the entire state. They say the bad economic condition of the farmers can be judged from their domestic compulsions which they explain to their confidants at the time of selling their old tractors.

As per the information gathered by TNS, the farmers sell their tractors for different reasons which include payment of the loan to the arhtiya or the bank, purchase of agriculture land, marriage of a daughter or a son, financial crisis due to damage to crop, purchase of a new tractor in place of old one, emergency domestic expenditure, etc.

Every Friday the tractor mandi is organised for the past more than three years near the local railway overbridge on the Sunam-Mansa road. Around 50 tractors are brought here for sale from the nearby villages. Mostly, the farmers from Cheema, Sheron Sunam Jakhepal, Mehlan, Kularan and Tunga villages come to this mandi to sell tractors.

Talking to TNS, Bhalinder Singh Lakhmirwala, a commission agent, said despite the arrival of around 50 tractors for sale every Friday, only one or two tractors found customers.

Another tractor broker from Bharur village said, “You can buy a tractor in the mandi as farmers sell tractors to meet their domestic needs”. He said farmers were under heavy debt so they had no other alternative except selling of their old tractors. He said in some cases, farmers even did not hesitate to sell their some months’ old tractors to meet the emergency needs of the family.

Mithu, a farmer from Tunga village, said he had come to the mandi to sell his tractor as he was in dire need of money.


“Harassed” retiree threatens suicide
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Nakodar (Jalandhar): “Prolonged injustice”, “denial” of promotions and other service benefits has forced Mr Bachna Ram Bhadhi, a retired Treasury Officer, to contemplate suicide.

Bachna Ram Bhadhi, a local resident, who started his career as a clerk in the Panchayats Department in 1965, rose to the post of Treasury Officer in 1981 after doing B.A., followed by graduation in law. His main grudge was that he retired last year sans any promotion even as 20 of his juniors were “unduly” promoted between 1981 and 2002 as he failed to “pay any bribe” to “corrupt” officials.

“Not only this, about 10-11 false cases, show-cause notices were slapped on me by overzealous department officials. My retirement dues were not released in time. I am still awaiting my gratuity though the order to release its payment was issued in January this year. My medical bill of Rs 36,250 has not been cleared even though it was submitted to the District Treasury Officer, Patiala, in November, 1992. If this was not enough, I was transferred four times during my tenure as Treasury Officer without any rhyme or reason”. Even though no deadline has been fixed for carrying out his threat. “It can happen anytime,” Mr Bachna Ram said.

Besides sending a complaint about “maltreatment” and his colleagues’ “corrupt practices” to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Vigilance Bureau, he had also written to the Punjab Human Rights Commission, the Governor and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. He, however, lamented that what to talk of taking action, these authorities had not even cared to acknowledge his letters. Mr Bachna Ram alleged that he was even made to pay exhorbitant rent for rent-free official accommodation. 


Land value near ammo depot examined
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 22
The Ministry of Defence has chalked out a plan to acquire a piece of land adjoining 2 Ammunition Sub-Depot at Mamoon.

The Deputy Commissioner had surveyed the area and fixed the market price at Rs 16 lakh per acre.

On the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner the Defence Secretary, Mr Ajay Prasad, has written to the Punjab Chief Secretary to reassess the value of the land.

The Deputy Commissioner convened a meeting here on Thursday to reassess the value of the land which was attended by Army civil and revenue officials.

Revenue officials had already assessed the market value of the land falling in Siunti, Manwal, Lamiui and Mamoon villages. The officials had counted 2,301 houses, 317 bungalows, 842 shops, 18 religious buildings, six schools and 47 tubewells and walls within 1,000 metre of restricted area.


Takht asks Khalistan Radio producer to explain
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht yesterday sought explanation from the producer of ‘Khalistan Radio, Toronto, Mr Sukhminder Singh Hansra for filing a case against Gurdwara Ontario Gurdwara committee.

Jathedar Vedanti said that Akal Takht secretariat had received a complaint from the Sikh Sangat that Mr Hansra on behalf of his Guru Advertising Company had filed a case against the Gurdwara Committee.

Since the case was decided against the Gurdwara Committee, the management had to bear a huge financial loss. Jathedar Vedanti directed Mr Hansra to submit his explanation to Akal Takht by December 25.


Ex-servicemen to get representation in district committees
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
Ex-servicemen will be given representation in all district-level committees to be formed by the district administration and social organisations will be motivated to enrol ex-servicemen as their members so that the district administration and society can take benefit of their services and experiences, said S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner and president of the District Sanik Board while addressing the quarterly meeting of the board here today. He said the presence of ex-servicemen in these committees would ensure discipline, transparency, efficiency and commitment social causes. He said ex-servicemen could play a vital role in the eradication of social evils such as female foeticide, drug addiction and dowry. He said all SDMs had been directed to in ex-servicemen in various committees formed at the subdivisional level.

Lauding the services of ex-servicemen, Mr Ahluwalia said the district administration would take all necessary steps to improve the living standards of ex-servicemen by extending assistance to them. He said sewing machines would be distributed on the occasion of Army Raising Day by the District Red Cross Society. He said financial assistance of Rs 300 per month had been given to 188 ex-servicemen by the Board. He said financial assistance of Rs. 45,000 for marriages of daughters of nine ex-servicemen, Rs 57,000 for affected by Operation Bluestar, ex-servicemen, Rs 83,600 for Gallantry Award winners, Rs 23,119 for war widows, Rs 18,000 for free travelling facility to war widows, Rs 20,000 for stipend and other grants had been given. He said Rs 84,835 had been collected on Flag Day.

Col N.S. Pall, District Sainik Welfare Officer, said on the eve of Flag Day, a rally of ex-servicemen would be organised at Fatehgarh Sahib. All SDMs and other district officers also attended the meeting.


Heritage fest: Sekhri tricks off INTACH chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
The Minister of State for Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, today locked horns with Mr S.K. Mishra, chairman Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) for scoring out Punjabi culture and folk items from the proposed Amritsar Heritage Festival to be held here from December 3 to December 7.

Mr Sekhri talked to Mr Mishra on phone and conveyed the displeasure of the Chief Minister.

The programme circulated by the Deputy Commissioner and Secretary of the Amritsar Heritage Society enlisted gazal maestro Jagjit Singh, Wadali Brothers, classical instrumentalists Bishwajit Roy Chaudhari and Johar Ali for sarod and violin respectively, Pandit Jasraj would render vocal classical music along with Vasundhara Komkali and Kalapini Komkali besides Ustad Walait Khan, a sitarist besides a play ‘charn dass chor’ by Tanwir. Instead of folk items, Punjabi pop has been given special place on the concluding day. However, the names of Punjabi poets have not been mentioned in the list circulated.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sekhri said that the Punjab Government had been spending Rs 50 lakh for arranging, this grand function solely revive the heritage of the state. Hence, INTACH could not ignore the spirit of function, he added. He said that Mr Mishra had agreed to accept the genuine demands of the state government. He said a meeting had been arranged in Amritsar on November 25 in this regard. 


District Diary
Roads to be widened, lighted
Surinder Bhardwaj

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Fatehgarh Sahib was given the status of district by the late Beant Singh in 1992 to pay obeisance to the younger sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked alive here. He also undertook the development of the district on a war footing, but after his death no government has bothered for Fatehgarh Sahib. Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, held a meeting of officials last week and discussed various projects for the development of the district. According to Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, who also attended the meeting, the Chief Minister has expressed a desire to develop Fatehgarh Sahib as a historical district. He has sanctioned four memorial gates, the widening and lighting of roads and the beautification of the surroundings of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

* * *

The financial condition of the municipal councils of Sirhind, Bassi Pathana, Amloh and Khamano in the district, is bad and the councils are not undertaking any development projects. The residents of these towns are virtually residing in slum conditions. They are even deprived of basic amenities like sanitation, drinking water, street lights, roads etc. The presidents of these councils are facing the wrath of the public as well as of the councillors and the people remind them about the promises they made with the public. The Government is losing its credibility as no grants are being released for the development of the towns.

* * *

Since Mr S.K. Ahluwalia has taken charge as Deputy Commissioner, the district has become a hub of cultural activities. He revived the District Cultural Society and involved people from every walk of life in it. The society has organised more than 20 cultural programmes in every nook and corner of the district. Important personalities from the cultural field like Bhagwant Mann, a renowned comedian, Uttam Singh, renowned music director, Manpreet Akhtar, Punjabi folk singer, and Dr Roop Singh Shekawat, a renowned international kathak dancer, have given performances in the district in a short span of time.

* * *

Meetings with prominent citizens of various towns of district by Mr Shiv Kumar, new SSP of the district, have started yielding results. The confidence of the people in the police has increased. The new SSP says that besides giving top priority to the redress of grievances of the public, he would also ensure that the police behaved properly and in a friendly manner with the public. He said that the prime duty of the police would be to control the crime and to ensure safety of life and property. He said that soon a campaign against anti-social elements would be launched and those indulging in the sale of drugs would be curbed with a heavy hands.

* * *

Though Sirhind, the district headquarters town, is an important railway junction of Northren Railway, it lacks basic facilities for the passengers and commuters. The inquiry counter on the railway platform occasionally remains locked and there is no one to answer the queries of passengers. The notice board is not updated daily and no information regarding the schedule and late running of the trains is mentioned. There is no proper facility for the seating of passengers or drinking water. The toilets are in a bad condition. There is no train for Ludhiana from Sirhind between 10 am and 4 pm. More trains should stop at Sirhind railway station as this is a historical place and people from all over the country come to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and Roza Sharif.


Bitta launches ‘Azadi Bachao Andolan’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 22
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, yesterday launched “Azadi Bachao Andolan” from Sunam, the native town of Shaheed Udham Singh, for inculcating patriotic spirit among the people.

Mr Bitta was at Sunam in connection with a programme organised by the Punjab Press Club, Sunam. A dental check-up camp for children was also organised by the Indian Dental Association on the occasion. About 2,000 children were examined by a team of four doctors.

Mr Bitta said under this campaign, the front would install statues of martyrs in the villages and cities.


Jatin Das centenary function on Dec 5
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 22
The National Martyrs’ Memorial Committee will hold a state-level function here to mark the birth centenary of revolutionary Jatinder Nath Das, who attained martyrdom after observing a fast for 63 days in Borstal Jail, Lahore, on September 13, 1929, in protest against the inhuman policies of the British regime. The function will be held at Milap Bhavan on December 5.

Mr Balwant Singh Kindra, president of the committee, in a press note issued here today, said the family members of Das, who hailed from Kolkata, would be honoured during the function.

Four freedom fighters, namely Biswajit Dutta (West Bengal), Kultar Singh (Punjab), Choudhary Ranbir Singh (Haryana) and Sarla Sharma (Himachal Pradesh) will be honoured for their contribution to the freedom struggle. 


Nagar kirtan organised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 22
A nagar kirtan was organised here today to mark the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur. A procession was taken out from Akal Takht.

The procession, which started at 12 noon, passed through main bazaars of the city before culminating at Gurdwara Guru ka Mehal.


Notice pasted on gate of former Registrar’s house
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
The Punjabi University authorities today pasted the notice suspending senior teacher and former Registrar Dr K S Sidhu outside his house after members of his family refused to accept it. The senior teacher has termed it another proof of the “vindictive attitude” of the varsity authorities .

Varsity spokesman Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu said the varsity authorities contacted Dr K S Sidhu at his residence yesterday and confirmed his presence in the house before sending the suspension notice to him. He said, however, the official who took the notice to Dr Sidhu’s house was told by his family members that the teacher was not at home and refused to accept it.

Dr Sandhu said today morning an official went to Dr Sidhu’s house with the suspension order and was told that the teacher was away. He said since the family members again refused to accept the notice, it was pasted on the main gate of the house.

The former Registrar said pasting the notice outside his house was ‘inhuman’ and a ploy to humiliate him. He said if he was not at home the notice could have been given to him in his office. He said he would officially protest against this move to the appropriate authorities.

Meanwhile in another development, the University authorities have issued directions to all Colleges affiliated with it to adjust the 15 per cent fee increase in the fee to be taken in this month. All Colleges have been asked to refund money whereever any is due to the students. 


Lok Adalat settles 1,400 cases
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
A state-level Special Lok Adalat organised at the Judicial Court complex today settled about 1,400 cases. A sum of Rs 3.25 crore was settled in favour of various petitioners through negotiations. The Lok Adalat was organised especially for matrimonial cases by the District Legal Services Authority under the supervision of Mr Justice H. S. Bedi, who is also the Executive Chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh.

The Lok Adalat was presided over by District and Sessions Judge A. N. Jindal, who visited all courts along with Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police A. S. Rai, Ms Pappo Abnash Singh, Member, State Legal Services Authority, and Mr H.P.S. Mahal, Member Secretary of the authority.

A total of 1,869 cases were taken up, with most of them being matrimonial disputes. Other cases included those filed under the Motor Accident Claims Act. Twenty Benches took up the cases, with each Bench presided over by a Judicial Officer and including an eminent social worker and a lawyer. All Benches persuaded the people to resolve their disputes amicably. 


600 litres of ‘adulterated’ milk seized, one held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 22
The Moonak police has seized about 600 litres of ‘adulterated’ milk from a diary after a raid at Hamirgarh village, near Moonak.

The police has arrested owner of the dairy Balwinder Kumar, a resident of Moonak village in this regard.

The police said it conducted a raid on the milk dairy today on tip off and seized the allegedly adulterated milk. It had registered a case against Balwinder Kumar under Sections 272, 273 and 420 of the IPC.

A team of doctors, led by Dr M.K. Bhalla, also visited Hamirgarh village after they were called there by Moonak administration. The team took a sample of the milk and sent it to the Government Laboratory, Chandigarh, for analysis.


New economic order challenge to technical education, says expert
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 22
A symposium on “Higher Technical Education- Issues of Access and Delivery” opened today at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) here. A large number of delegates from all over the country are participating in the symposium which is expected to discuss and develop strategies needed to provide equal access to higher technical education for all.

About 30 papers will be presented at the symposium which is likely to be addressed by many academicians who will discuss ways to provide technical education to all without discrimination on the basis of caste, region, gender or socio-economic status. The symposium was inaugurated by Dr R. Natarajan, Chairman of the All-India Council for Technical Education.

Dr Natarajan in his address called for a new technical education paradigm which required integration of initial and continuing education, institutional and industrial experience, formal and non-formal mode, quality and quantity , management and technology and distance and classroom education.

He stated that technical education in the new millennium faced challenges posed by a new economic and social order characterised by ambiguity and a competitive environment .

Delivering the keynote address, Dr R.S. Sirohi, Director of Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi presented an overview of present status of technical education both in the country and abroad. In his presidential remarks, Dr S.C. Saxena, Director, TIET, focused on the quality and continuous improvement of technical education. He said the issue of widening access to higher technical education assumed greater significance in the face of drastic reduction in government funding , increased fee and disparities in access to resources.


Pbi varsity youth festival from tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
The youth festival Ropar zone of Punjabi University will be held from November 24 to 26 at Mata Gujri College here.

Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal of the college and convener of the festival, said all arrangements for the festival had been completed. He said Mr Sawaran Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, would inaugurate the festival on November 24 at 9.30 am while Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SGPC and member of the Rajya Sabha, would preside over the function.

He said in the morning session teams would compete in giddha, shastri sangeet, gayaki quiz, orchestra, cartooning and clay modelling.

In the evening session, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, chief secretary, SGPC, would be the chief guest and Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP Fatehgarh Sahib, would preside over the function. Bhangra and quiz would be presented in this session.

He said on the second day of the festival, Mr Bir Davinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Legislative Assembly, would inaugurate the morning session and Mr Mohinder Pal, District Sessions Judge, would be special guest. In this session teams would compete in play, rangoli, group shabad ghazal, on the spot painting, poster making, histronics, fancy dress and group song.


School sets up child rights unit
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

KAPURTHALA: Adhering to the United Nations (UN) directions to all countries to include human rights topic in school curriculum, MGN Public School here has become country’s “first” educational institute to set-up a Child Rights Unit (CRU).

The “working model” of CRU has been running in the school for the past one year during which the students of the school were made aware of child exploitation and about the means to be adopted for putting an end to it. Elated over the success of the working model, the school authorities have setup a full-time CRU.

Even as the NCERT and the CBSE have made efforts towards this direction by modifying the syllabus and including topics like “disaster management” in class VIII and “life skills” in class VI, according to the MGN School Principal Ms Inderjit Kaur, there was probably no school in the country which was running CRU.

To ensure punctuality in lessons on child rights, the school authorities have also developed a calendar for the whole year. “We adhere to this calendar as far as teaching of different topics is concerned. All 1,300 students are given lessons on a daily basis in small batches just after the morning assembly, said: “Ms Inderjit Kaur. Explaining the objective behind the initiative, she said,” Every child should know what are his rights and of others and how to protect them and what to do in case of any violation. Now with a full-fledged CRU coming into being, we will focus on the prevention of child abuse, child labour, girl child, psychological development of children, counselling, interaction with social welfare lawyers, police and media,” said the principal, adding that generally it has been observed that there has been prevalence of child abuse and exploitation in schools and outside which needed to be curbed with awareness. “We adopted a poor child and sent him to a school after finding that he was being abused by a ‘chai-wala’,” she said.

The board, which would monitor the functioning of CRU would have the following members: Adviser — Dr D.J. Singh, Coordinator — Ms Inderjit Kaur, Principal, In charge — Ms Prabhdeep Monga, Vice-Principal, field officer — Mr Rajinder Singh, a school teacher and a school counsellor.

The Article 29 of the UN Convention on Human Rights has directed all nations to include human rights topic in curriculum of their schools.


No need to privatise PRTC, says Chairman
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 22
Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman of the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), today said the corporation was planning to replace 100 old buses with new ones at a cost of Rs 9 crore.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr Gupta also indicated that the corporation would not be subjected to disinvestment.

He said the corporation had a fleet of 912 buses apart from 112 private buses which were running under the kilometer scheme. He said the PRTC buses had covered an additional 20,000 kilometers and had earned a profit of Rs 3.75 crore during past five months. He said the corporation had no surplus staff and 200 drivers and conductors had been engaged on contract basis to provide better service to passengers. He said since the corporation was doing better, there was no need to privatise it.

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