P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pensive Badal asks activists to remain peaceful
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had tears in his eyes when he escorted his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, to his separate cell in the Central Jail complex here last evening. While the SAD chief appeared to be pensive even today, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal breathed fire while interacting with party leaders who called upon them.

The former Chief Minister, who put up a brave face throughout the day yesterday, broke down for a few seconds in the late evening when he escorted his son to his cell, according to jail sources. Mr Badal, however, regained his composure soon. They said after escorting his son to the separate cell, the Akali leader retired to the VIP enclosure allocated to him in the jail complex.

The sources said Mr Badal today urged party leaders who came to meet him to seek "directions" prior to the PAC meeting, which was to be held later in the day in Chandigarh, to ensure a peaceful agitation to highlight the "injustice".

Today while talking to party activists, Sukhbir again gave vent to his anger against the Chief Minister. He told them that he had been put up in a small room in which a bathroom was self-contained due to which the entire room was emitting a foul smell. The junior Badal feels this has been done to humiliate him.

Meanwhile, the former Chief Minister is slightly discomfitted because of the low western style toilet placed in the bathroom which is attached to his room. Akali leaders who meet him said Mr Badal was finding it difficult to use the toilet.

The jail authorities said Mr Badal had been provided with newspapers as desired by him. They are also in the process of procuring magazines for him.


Dhindsa to take up Badals’ issue with PM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today said he would take up the case of “mental torture” being inflicted upon SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Talking to mediapersons here after meeting Mr Badal and his son at the Central Jail in the morning, Mr Dhindsa said the Congress government seemed to be bent on mentally torturing the SAD President and his son. He said the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister would be informed about the manner in which the Badals were being kept in separate accommodations in the jail to “harass” them.

Senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra while speaking to mediapersons said there was no reason to deny “reasonable” facilities to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal. He said the junior Badal was charged in the same case and was a leader in his own right as he had held senior positions, including being an elected Member of Parliament. Mr Chandumajra said Mr Badal’s birthday on December 8 would be celebrated as “anti-repression day” adding a programme was being formulated under which Akali workers would be able to meet the SAD President in an organised manner. He said “jathas’’ from Patiala district had been asked to come to the jail complex on December 4, those from Sangrur on December 5 and from Bathinda on December 6.

Meanwhile high drama was witnessed in the jail complex when SAD Youth Wing Senior vice-president Kiranbir Singh Kang was arrested by the Civil Lines police while coming out of the jail after meeting Mr Badal. The Akali leader, against whom a case under Section 307 has been registered for attacking police personnel at Ropar, was taken to the Civil Lines police station. Sources said this action was taken after the Ropar police gave information to the Patiala police that the Akali leader, who fought the last elections from the Kharar Assembly seat, was wanted by it. A team from Ropar also started proceeding to Patiala when it received information that Mr Kang had been arrested.

Mr Kang remained on the premises of the Civil Lines police station for quite some time and was seen making phone calls from his mobile. The Akali leader escaped soon afterwards and local police officials had a hard time explaining where he had gone. The police station authorities finally feigned ignorance about the police action itself.

Later in the evening, SSP A.S. Rai suspended the Civil Lines SHO, Mr Rajwinder Singh, holding him responsible for the escape of Mr Kang.

The jail authorities meanwhile issued directions that people wishing to meet Mr Badal would be allowed to do so till 12.15 pm.

Our Correspondent adds from Ropar: Besides Mr Kang, other leaders booked by the Ropar Police on Monday included Mr Sikandar Singh Maluka, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, both former ministers, and Mr Bagh Singh Mallah, MLA, Jagraon, under Sections 229, 332, 188, 283, 353, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC. Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former President of the SGPC, and her supporters have been booked under Section 188 of the CrPC at Anandpur Sahib.


Govt may not block Badal’s bail plea
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Nothing official about it. But the Punjab Government may not “vehemently” oppose the regular bail plea filed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Badal in view of the apparent rift in the Congress party over the manner in which the case has been handled.

Even though the government is reportedly considering the feasibility of appointing a senior criminal lawyer for opposing the plea in the event of its rejection by Ropar’s Special Judge for corruption cases, some Congress leaders insist that the government may “go slow” due to sharp division in the party over the manner in which Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has been handling the issue.

They assert that the pressure on the government against opposing the plea will further increase due to the statement of Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal blaming the Chief Minister for not taking her in confidence.

The bail applications are scheduled to come up for hearing before Ropar’s Special Judge S.K. Goel on Wednesday at 2 pm. Taking up the case on Monday, the Judge had granted prosecution time for filing a reply in the matter. The copy of it is to handed over to the opposite party by 10 am tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Badals are likely to concentrate on the preliminary issues before arguing the bail applications on merit. They are claiming that only the Courts at Chandigarh have the jurisdiction to try the offences referred to in the first information report registered against the Badals. 


Badal denied permission to appear in court

Ropar, December 2
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, today declined former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal permission to present himself before the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Chandgiarh.

The counsel of Mr Badal produced an application before the judge pleading that he had to appear in the court of the CJM, Chandigarh, tomorrow in the defamation case filed by him against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, due to which the police may be directed to produce Mr Badal before the CJM, Chandigarh.

The Special Judge, however, rejected the application on the plea that he had no provision to issue such directions to the police. Instead, he directed the counsel to approach the CJM, Chandigarh, for directing the police to present Mr Badal in his court. — OC


DCC flays Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
Mr Bhagat Sindh Dhaliwal, president, District Congress Committee, Bathinda, said here today that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been trying to create communal disturbance in the state for his personal interests. In a press note, Mr Bipen Bubby, general secretary, DCC, Bathinda, said Mr Badal was urged not to make corruption case registered against him as his party issue.


SAD sends Tandon to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal has sent Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a BJP leader, to New Delhi on a special political assignment.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SGPC, said he and other members of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD, today held a meeting with Mr Tandon and asked him to proceed to the national Capital.

Mr Tohra said soon a delegation of SAD MLAs would proceed to Delhi to meet senior NDA leaders and the President of India. Mr Tandon had been asked to fix meetings and do other required networking with the senior leader of the BJP. He said the BJP was participating in the political programmes of the SAD.


Court decision on Badal hailed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Welcoming the court’s decision to send SAD President and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, to judicial custody, Punjab Congress Ministers Lal Singh, Mr Avtar Henry, Chaudhary Santokh Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh Samra criticised the attempts by some Akali Dal leaders to give a “Panthic” colour to this episode.

The Ministers emphasised that “the charges against the Badals neither have anything to do with the Sikh Panth and nor are these even remotely connected with any possible political agenda.” They reiterated that the case was entirely about “the huge personal wealth accumulated by the former Chief Minister and his family members with the singular objective of bettering their own lot.”


Capt did not consult me in Badal case: Bhattal
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, December 2
The rift between Congress party members over the manner in which the case against the Badals was handled surfaced today with Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal blaming the Chief Minister for not taking her into confidence.

“The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, did not consult me before taking action against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The Chief Minister has his own style of functioning,” she said at the Chandigarh District Courts. She was there to attend the hearing of a corruption case against her.

“His action of not taking the ministers into confidence before acting against the Badals is contrary to the Congress party’s culture. When late Beant Singh was the Chief Minister, he used to call meetings with his ministers before taking a decision on any issue,” said Mrs Bhattal. She was interacting with this reporter in the District Bar Association room, at the courts, after her case was adjourned for arguments after lunch.

Stating that Capt’s action would benefit the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mrs Bhattal said during the last assembly elections the Congress had won more seats as Badal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra were divided. But now they were united again to fight against the Congress. The Congress has to put in more efforts to get those seats.

“There are some persons who have been working hard to implicate me in the case. I have an affidavit of a person who hails from Bathinda which would definitely change the political scenario in Punjab and would help her in the case. She would release that document to the press at an appropriate time,” Mrs Bhattal further said.

When she was asked, does she discuss these things with Congress high command, Mrs Bhattal said that she would visit Delhi after the declaration of poll results held in four states. But she refused to divulge the information about the matter she would be going to discuss with the high command.


Bhattal case adjourned to Dec 8
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 2
Counsel for Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today alleged that the Punjab Government had prepared the forged documents to implicate her in a corruption case while arguing in a local court.

The case came up for hearing in the court of UT Special Judge, Mr R.S. Baswana, who after hearing arguments of Bhattal's counsel, the Special Public Prosecutor and counsel for complainant, for about two and half hours, adjourned the case to December 8 for further arguments.

Claiming that the government has hatched a conspiracy to implicate her in the false case, Bhattal's counsel further argued that there had been no correspondence from the Chief Minister's office all these years pointing out that Ms Bhattal had misused the funds. The three star witnesses in the case, including Ashok Goyal, Baljit Singh and Harbans Singla, have been pressured to change their versions. They had made statements following directions from the senior officers, counsel further added.

Giving details, Bhattal's counsel said Mrs Bhattal had distributed the funds in 1996 but with an intention to implicate her in the corruption the government had prepared the forged documents of withdrawing money after four and half years of the incident( 2001).

In order to substantiate his claim, the counsel said the documents placed in the Vidhan Sabha by the former Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and those placed in the High Court in a writ petition proved that Mrs Bhattal had distributed Rs 20 lakh and there was no corruption or embezzlement of funds involves. The Chief Minister had discretion powers regarding distribution of the funds.

Alleging that the case against Mrs Bhattal was registered at a supersonic speed and the government had not followed the legal procedure while registering a case against her, the counsel said the inquiry conducted by the investigation officer should be placed before a committee comprising the Chief Secretary, the legal Remembrancer and the Secretary of the concerned department. Bhattal counsel’s arguments which began at about 12 noon continued till 1 p.m.

The arguments of Special Public Prosecutor, Mr Vijay Singla, and the complainant's counsel, Mr P.N. Lekhi, began at 2 p.m and continued till 3.50 p.m. Mr P.N. Lekhi, a Senior Supreme Court Advocate, and Mr Vijay Singla, the Special Public Prosecutor, strongly opposed Ms Bhattal counsel’s claims that she had been falsely implicated in the case while citing a number of judgements of the apex court and High Courts.

Mr Lekhi said Ms Bhattal had withdrawn the money (Rs 20 lakh) against her name, and not in the name of the persons among whom she had distributed the funds. The misuse of the public money was the biggest crime which Ms Bhattal had committed. Mr Lekhi also opposed the plea of Bhattal's counsel that the case against her was liable to be dismissed before the framing of charges against her.

Mr Vijay Singla, the Special Public Prosecutor representing the state of Punjab also cited a number of judgements and ruling mentioned in the criminal procedure code to support his claim that the Vigilance Bureau did not require the sanction from the state government before filing the challan. Mr Singla argued that before recording the statements of the witnesses and cross-examination, the complaint against Ms Bhattal could not be dismissed. 


News Analysis
Akalis could not have asked for more
by P.P.S. Gill & Sarbjit Singh

Chandigarh, December 2
The Akalis could not have asked for more. With police action against them in Ropar on Monday still fresh in their memory, their leaders' call today for a ''people's movement'' to focus on alleged ''state repression'' from December 9 is seen by them as an opportunity to air their anguish against the Congress government of Capt. Amarinder Singh. Since Akalis are adept at participating in morchas, this programme will provide them the much-desired launching pad.

That is how even SAD Secretary-General, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, perceives the Congress action against Mr Pakash Singh Badal and other Akalis. This lever will lift their morale. He believes that the proposed ''lok lehar'' will galvanise the party apparatus not only for SAD organisational elections but also for the SGPC general house and Parliament elections due in 2004. The presidential election of SAD is over due.

Therefore, fuel to the ''lok lehar'' will be provided by these three elections, as the performance and participation of MLAs, former ministers, SGPC members, office-bearers down to the Circle-level etc. will determine candidature for these polls.

Thus the SGPC will now play a pro-active political role, as Mr Tohra takes command of the situation since Mr Badal is locked in long-drawn legal battles. Mr Tohra will over see the next SGPC elections, scheudled in May 2004. The party programme, therefore, is as much in support of Mr Badal as it is beginning of an election campaign that will see the Akalis through all the three elections.

A Sikh scholar, Dr Kharak Singh, says: ''It is for the first time, the SGPC is playing a role in SAD affairs, which is its political limb''. SGPC has always, even during the prolonged morchas against the 1975 Emergency or 'Dharam Yudh', which changed the very complexion of the Punjab political scene, provided only logistic support from its gurdwaras to protesters. It is different now.

In the political theatre in Punjab, next few months are crucial. A new script is being written by the Congress and SAD. Besides their age-old political rivalary, the Congress in-house fighting will also make an impact on the political settings.

Mr Dhindsa says: ''We have enough ammunition to lambast the government for its acts of omission and commission, all these past months. The people, particulalry Akalis' rural supporters and voters, have lived in fear of the police. Now things will change, as workers' patience is exhausted''.

SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra says the fight is no longer for an individal, though the Congress has projected Mr Badal as ''corrupt''. Therefore, ''The fight is against calculated attempts by the Congress that repeatedly misuses state power to hit , hurt and weaken SAD by attacking first the nine ministers and now Mr Badal. It is our fight for justice, rule of the law and protection of human rights''.

On the other hand, the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, has made it clear that the government would deal firmly with Akalis' agitation, as the issue involved was ''corruption''. It had noting to do with any ''people-oriented, common cause''. Understandably, a possible political confrontation is brewing, as legal battles take their own course and time in Ropar and Chandigarh. Both Capt. Amarinder Singh and the Badals have filed counter civil and criminal suits in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh. The Chief Minister is on bail.

Political analysts say that Capt. Amarinder Singh is playing politics, even if it looks personalised. That makes the Badals and Akalis scream, ''corruption case is false and fabricated''. Now the decision rests with the court.


Standard missiles not in demand, says ISRO chief
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 2
“Abundance of decommissioned missiles and their easy availability, particularly in South-East Asia, has led to a fall in demand for standard missiles in the world.”

Stating this during a brief interview with The Tribune, Mr G. Madhwan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) who attended a special convocation of Punjab Technical University at the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology here today, said de-commissioned missiles, which were available at cheaper prices, were easily available in some parts of the world, particularly in South-East Asia, and this had hit the production and demand for standard missiles.

About the current priorities of ISRO, Mr Nair, who was accompanied by the PTU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Y.S. Rajan, said the organisation was currently in the process of developing space technology for use of society. “At present we are into providing V-SAT connectivity and remote-sensing imaging. As far as remote-sensing marketing is concerned, our share in the global market is 15 per cent, which is fairly good and which is growing at a very fast pace,” said Mr Nair.

He said the list of the ISRO clientele, as far as remote sensing was concerned, included the USA, South Africa and some north-eastern countries. “We provide images to these countries according to their needs,” Mr Nair said.

He said after launching the PSLV-1 and 11, ISRO was marketing its satellite-launching pad services and was exploring the potential in Europe, Korea and Germany, Mr Nair said.


Cops form team to arrest Tota
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 2
The Chandigarh police has constituted a special team to arrest Anil Kumar, alias Tota, wanted by the police in a murder case, besides the yesterday’s robbery at gunpoint in a house in Sector 35.

Tota is also wanted by the Mohali police in connection with the murder of an UT Executive Engineer V.K. Chopra. Chopra was shot in front of a marriage palace in Mohali early this year. He had also allegedly killed a youth in a park in Sector 40 on December 31, 2002.

The team headed by DSP (Crime), Mr Vijay Pal Singh, consists of Inspector K.I.P. Singh (Crime branch) and Inspector Hardev Singh and Inspector Karam Singh, Station House Officers of police stations of Sector 39 and 36, respectively. Mr Vijay Pal Singh has been authorised to take the help of any other police officer if required so, stated an official statement of the police issued here today.

Meanwhile, the police has recommended the name of Saurav, (12), who had sneaked out of the house while the robbers were holding his father hostage at gunpoint to call the police, for a State Medal. Saurav is a Class VII student at St. Stephen’s School, Sector 45. Mr Harnek Singh, home guard volunteer, who nabbed one of the robbers from the spot, has also been recommended for the same award. While Sub-Inspector Pawan Kumar and constable Jai Mal will be awarded Class-I certificates and Rs 5,000 each. 



His father laid cable up to Afghanistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
“My father, the late William Henry King, used to come on horseback to the General Post Office during the British regime when communication was through coded messages (Morse code). He was the first postmaster in the GPO here, who later laid the communication cable up to the hostile terrains of Afghanistan, braving amushes by Afghani gurrillas who opposed this engineering marvel at that time,” said Dr Neol Q. King, Professor Emeritus, History and Comparative Religion, University of California, who has come here to deliver a lecture in the third international conference on Guru Granth Sahib and inter-faith understanding to world peace.

He said his was the first Irish family to have settled in Punjab. His great grandfather was a veterinary doctor who served in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He served with a Punjabi platoon from Chaklala in Burma and in Europe.

Dr Neol Q. King was born at Taxila on the edge of Potohar Punjab (North West Frontier Province).

Interestingly, Dr Neol Q. King had a chance meeting with Major-Gen Himmat Singh Gill, a former Military Adviser of India in Afghanistan from 1978 to 1982, who had seen the remains of the cable laid by William Henry King. General Gill told TNS that he had seen the communication cable laid by the father of Dr Neol Q. King from across Laudi Kotar to Khyber Pass (Afghanistan).

Mr Banta Ram Mulani, Postmaster, and employees of the GPO were extremely happy to see Dr King, who visited the office along with General Gill. He was thrilled to see that computerisation had replaced the old system of communication.


CPM’s call to oppose globalisation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said here that nearly 8.6 small scale units out of total 23 lakh in the country had closed down due to the government following policies of America.

Mr Pasla was speaking at a function organised to observe the death anniversary of left leader Dalip Singh Tapiala. He urged the party men that the best tribute to the leaders like Tapiala could only be paid by organising all sections of the society against the policies of the government like globalisation.


Excessive selenium affects villagers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 2
Inhabitants of more than 12 villages of Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts located in the low-lying belt of the Shivalik hills are leading a miserable life on account of the presence of excessive selenium in soil and water in these areas.

Dr Yogesh Chander Markan, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said here yesterday that the Department of Health and Family Welfare had recently conducted a house-to-house survey in the area to assess the gravity of the ill-effects of selenium.

Nazarpur, Simbli and Panam in Hoshiarpur district and Jainpur, Mehandpur, Dhand Majra, Rakar, Rurki Khurd and Firni Majra in Nawanshahr had been identified as areas where selenium had directly affected human beings.

The survey revealed 362 persons showed signs of toxic effect. The effects appeared after regular consumption of grains grown in the selenium soil for years. He said B-complex tables were being distributed among the affected.

Dr K.S. Dhillon of the Department of Soil, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, said 12 villages had high levels of selenium in soil and ground water. The first instance of toxicity had come to the notice of Punjab Agriculture University in early eighties.

The high level of selenium affected wheat, rice, mustard and fodder. The affected plants turned white. These food, when consumed produced toxic symptoms in the form of loss of appetite and weight.

Horns and hooves in animals showed cracks. Similarly, nails of inhabitants became brittle and the hair dry. Knee joints became swollen. Selenium got deposited in the liver and spleen of animals and humans.

According to official sources, a meeting was recently held under the chairmanship of Dr Y.S. Rajan, Scientific Adviser to the Chief Minister on the measures, both short and long-term, to be taken on selenium toxitiy. At the meeting it was pointed out that by giving B-complex capsule to the people, one could reduce the toxic effects of selenium on the liver and animal health could be improved by giving animals tonics.

It was further suggested that tubewells where selenium concentration was high should be marked in red so that water from those tubewells was not used either for irrigation purposes or drinking water.


BSF has speeded up fencing work: Mitra
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 2
Taking benefit of ongoing ceasefire being observed along the LoC as part of peace initiatives undertaken by Pakistan and India recently, the Border Security Force (BSF) has speeded up fencing work along 167 km international border in the Jammu sector.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the Additional Director-General of the BSF, Mr A.K. Mitra, said the fencing work had been speeded up. So far work on 90 km of international border had been completed.

Mr Mitra was here to preside over a function to mark the 39th raising day of the force.

“The authorities concerned have been instructed to gear up fencing work and it will be completed soon. The fencing will certainly reduce infiltration from across the border and will help in curbing illegal activities, including smuggling”, said Mr Mitra.

Expressing satisfaction over the ongoing ceasefire, he said keeping in view past experiences the BSF should not be allowed to lower its guard and alertness. “In fact, we are keeping strict vigil on the borders,” he said, adding that they had specific reports that around 85 terrorist training camps were operational in Pakistan.

Regarding withdrawal of troops from Kashmir valley, he said as per the recent decision of the government the CRPF would replace the BSF in Srinagar and North of Jehlam within six to seven months. So far eight battalions had moved out from internal areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Keeping in view the pressure on jawans for being away from their families most of the time during service, we have decided to set up family quarters at three locations namely Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore,” Mr Mitra said.


Jobs on compassionate grounds: rally held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Employees are up in arms against the Punjab Government for its failure to issue instructions to provide jobs on compassionate grounds to next of kin of employees, who had died in harness. Employees held a rally here today seeking jobs for next of kin of deceased employees, besides raising other issues.

At a meeting held in the first week of September, the Cabinet Subcommittee had decided to give jobs to next of kin of such employees. However, nothing has happened.

Mr Karnail Singh Saini, Joint General Secretary, the Punjab Civil Secretariat Staff Association, said here today that the families of deceased employees were facing economic and other hardships. The Civil Secretariat alone had 16 such employees. Hundreds of families in various districts of Punjab were awaiting jobs on compassionate grounds. Adding to their woes, Mr Saini said, these families had been ordered to vacate government houses.

Mr Saini said there were other issues, including the filling of 55 posts of assistant by promotion from clerks and 90 vacant posts of clerk through fresh recruitment.

Mr Saini said employees had decided to hold a meeting this afternoon to chalk out a strategy for building further pressure on the government to get their demands conceded. But it was postponed following an assurance by the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr B.R. Bajaj. Mr Bajaj had promised not to implement the decision regarding the payment of salary through banks. November’s salary had been given in cash. Employees in the countryside would be put to a lot of inconvenience in case the salary was routed through banks, Mr Saini added. 


Ustad Bakar Hussein dead
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
The last scion of the Patiala Gharana Ustad Bakar Hussein, breathed his last at Malerkotla yesterday after being bed-ridden for the last three years. He was the last known surviving vocalist of the gharana in India.

Born at Patiala on July 3 , 1923 Bakar Hussein inherited a musical legacy from his father, Ustad Ahmad Jaan, who was a renowned singer of the Patiala Gharana. He was trained by his father and started giving performances at the tender age of 10. Being well versed with the nuances of the gharana, Ustad Bakar Hussein was well respected for his prowess both in India and Pakistan.

His favourite ‘ragas’ included Bhopali, Kedar, Puria, Shudh Sarang and bhim Palasi. The ustad, who died in penury, was given little recognition during his lifetime for his efforts at preserving and promoting the ‘gayaki’ tradition of the gharana.

The ustad was conferred Life Fellowship by Punjabi University around six months back in recognition of his contribution towards the promotion of classical music.

He also served a short stint with the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) while teaching music at Kala Gram, Panchkula.

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor S.S. Boparai, while condoling the demise of the maestro, said university would always place on record the ustad`s contributions in the field of classical music and with his death, an era had come to an end. Dr Gurnam Singh, Professor in Music at Punjabi University, when contacted, came down heavily on the lack of patronage to performing arts by the authorities.

Expressing sorrow at the ustad`s demise, the professor said none of Bakar Hussein`s children had chosen this profession, seeing the apathy shown by the government towards the singer, who was `literally worshipped ` by his fans in India and Pakistan.

He added that the ustad, who had opted to stay put here after Partition, died in virtual penury in the absence of any source of livelihood and his demise had sounded the death knell of the once-flourishing Patiala Gharana in India.


Incidence of heart disease higher among Indians
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
The local unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA) organised a continuing medical education (CME) programme on the coronary artery disease here today.

The Director of Escorts Heart and Superspeciality Institute, Amritsar, Dr T.S. Kler, said the incidence of heart disease after 40 years of age was higher among Indians as compared to the rest of the world. He said more than 60 million Indians were expected to suffer from this disease by 2010 which was a matter of concern.

He said with the advancement in technology in the medical profession, doctors and patients had the choice of treatment for blocked heart vessels. The latest development was the availability of drug-coated stents which were more expensive compared to conventional stents but had better results.

The consultant and interventional cardiologist from Escorts Heart Centre, Amritsar, Dr Arun Chopra, said the problem of tachyarrythmia, another heart disease, was almost a symptomatic in 40 per cent patients, without showing any symptoms and signs and could lead to sudden death.

He said in such cases mortality could be reduced to more than 50 per cent by taking preventive measures. The radio-frequency-cathetar ablation technique had shown good results in more than 80 per cent patients.

People from the west were more inclined to modern therapies but in chronic patients oral drug therapy as prophylactic management could be given to prevent recurrences.

The president of IMA (Patiala), Dr Adarsh Chopra, stressed the need for the precautions for prevention of heart attacks.

The programme that was attended by more than 125 participants, was chaired by Dr Janak Sachdeva, Dr Manmohan Singh, Dr B.K. Chopra and Dr R.S. Gupta.


MP inaugurates sewerage project
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
Under the national capital region (NCR) project MP Parneet Kaur inaugurated a sewerage project in Ward No 40 here today.

Speaking on the occasion, she said nearly 11-km-long sewerage lines would be laid down in the area. She further said the work of laying down sewerage lines in the remaining areas of the city would also be completed soon.

She also inaugurated a sewerage project near Sheesh Mahal. Addressing the gathering, she informed that nearly four-and-a-half-km-long sewerage line would be laid down in the area. Besides this, six-and-a-half-km-long sewerage branch line would also be laid down in the area.

In addition, in Sanjay Colony, Sheesh Mahal Colony, Kesar Bagh, Partap Colony and Mohindra Colony branch lines would be laid down. Besides this, streetlights would also be installed in these areas. She added that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has given another grant to install streetlights in the remaining areas.

Speaking on occasion, the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, said steps were being taken for the overall development of the city. Among others present were PRTC Chairman Ved Parkash Gupta and councillor of Ward No 40 Leela Rani.


Lecture on influenzae strains
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
Dr Ramneet Kaur, a bio -medical scientist from Harvard Medical School, Boston, visited the Punjab College of Education, Raipur and delivered an extension lecture to students and faculty members here today.

While addressing the gathering, Dr Ramneet explained about the disease caused by H.influenzae strains. She informed that there was a vaccine avaible for H. influenzae strains but was not effective against all strains of H.influenzae. She added that the vaccine was expensive for a developing country like India.

Dr Ramneet Kaur had earlier did her Ph.D in bacterial genetics from the Department of Experimental Medicine at the PGI, Chandigarh. At present she is working as scientist with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.


Two buses set on fire
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 2
Two buses of Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation were set on fire in this town and windowpanes of another bus of Punjab Roadways were broken in neighbouring town, Killianwali, this morning by miscreants, who belonged to Haryana.

Mr R.S. Khatra, SSP, Muktsar, said as per preliminary information gathered by the police, over 12 persons, suspected to be supporters of the SAD, came in three white Esteem cars and set the buses on fire in Malout and broke the windowpanes of another bus at Killianwali. He said two cases were registered against the suspects.

Mr Khatra said the SHO of the Killianwali police station, Mr Balbir Singh, was suspended for dereliction of duty.

Mr Khatra also directed officials of both roadways to ensure that all buses should be parked near the police stations and posts or at some specified place under the police guard so that such incidents could be prevented.



Punjab DGP ordered to provide security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Punjab's Director General of Police (DGP) to provide "proper security" to police officers involved in the busting of the kidney scam.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, ruled that the directions were essential so that the accused were "appropriately booked" and also to ensure fair investigation, besides logical conclusion of the case.

In their detailed order, the Judges ruled that they were astonished to find the cry of an IPS officer for proper security. The Judges added that the officer, present in the court, had replied in affirmative when asked about the need for security cover. As such, the DGP was directed to provide security.

The officer, Kumar Vijay Partap Singh, in an affidavit submitted before the court, had earlier stated that proper security should be provided to police officers involved in bursting of the racket as they were facing a threat from the kidney mafia and "influential high-ups".

He had added that the officers investigating the scam, including him, might face dire consequences due of departmental rivalry as the name of Amritsar's then Inspector-General (Border) Rajan Gupta had surfaced in the investigations.


Verma’s assurance to litchi growers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 2
The Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, (retd), has assured litchi growers here that he would ask the state government to consider their demand of declaring Pathankot as a litchi zone.

He was addressing a meeting of litchi and other fruit growers organised by the Pathankot Co-operative Fruit and Vegetable Producers Marketing Society here yesterday. Justice Verma said he would take up the matter with the government and hoped that the demands of the society would be accepted.

Justice Verma, who was here in connection with the visit of the President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said he would also look into the matter with regard to incentives and concessions given to the horticulturists so that these could also reach the litchi-growers. He said he fully agreed with the demands of the society for the setting up of a waxing plant and a cold store of high standards to preserve the litchi produce.

He also went round the exhibition organised on the occasion and complimented the efforts of the litchi growers to make the fruit export-oriented.

Mr R.K. Mahajan, president of the society, said the total area under horticulture here was about 2870 acre out of which 1600 acres was under litchi cultivation which can be raised if adequate facilities were provided for exporting litchi. He said litchi produced here cost about Rs 20 to 30 per kg and fetch Rs 400 to 600 kg in the world market which would not only help improve financial conditions of the litchi growers but also fetch foreign exchange. 


JEs observe black day
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
The junior engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) observed black day in protest against the "anti people" Electricity Act 2003 here today.

Mr Pal Singh Mundi and Mr Davinder Singh, president and general secretary of the Council of Junior Engineers, PSEB, respectively, in a joint statement said in the wake of failure of power sector reforms in many states, the Central Government should review its power policy.

They said the government should not run away from its social responsibility to provide power to poor and agriculture sector at cheaper rates.

Meanwhile, the president of the All-India Federation of Power Diploma Engineers stated that a nationwide agitation would be held against the central Electricity Act 2003. 


PSEB employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board today staged a dharna here and held a rally by wearing black badges to lodge their protest against the move of the management to privatise the board.

In a press note, Mr Karora Singh, president, Technical Staff Union, said the dharna was held in protest against the move to privatise the board which included the retrenchment of employees, ban of strikes by the employees, denial of time-pay scales to them and ban on holding any protest within radius of 100m of offices of the board.


Cinema house owner booked for forgery
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
A criminal case has been registered against Mr Charanjit Singh Sidhu, owner of the local Urang cinema house, for his alleged involvement in preparing a fake certificate for the exhibition of a film and submitting the same to the Principal Secretary, Government of Punjab, Mr S.K. Sinha.

The case was registered against Mr Sidhu when the certificate was sent for verification to the Registrar, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and it it was found bogus.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, District Magistrate, had cancelled the licences of two local cinema houses, Urang and Ajaib Palace, in August, 2003, for screening X-rated films.

The police, during a raid of these cinema houses had seized prints of X-rated films and pornographic posters.

A criminal case was also registered against the owners of these cinema houses.

After the cancellation of licences, the owners appealed to Mr Sinha against the orders of Mr Aggarwal.

At the first hearing, Mr Sinha stayed the operation of the orders passed by Mr Aggarwal and in the second, he ordered that the district administration made arrangements for screening these films, following which the District Magistrate ordered the cancellation of licences of the cinema houses and asked the Censor Board to find out whether these films fell in the category of blue films.

Official sources said the case against Mr Sidhu was registered under Sections 465, 466, 468 and 471 of the IPC in the city police station. 


Grenades belonging to KCF seized, 1 arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 2
Explosives, including hand grenades, belonging to the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) have been seized from Major Singh, a resident of Assal Uttar village, about 40 km from here.

The accused was trying to bury the explosives in the fields of Balwinder Singh of the same village when the police caught him red-handed late last evening.

Mr Gurkirpal Singh, SSP, said the seized items included 40 HE-36 hand grenades and 30 detonators.

He said the explosives had been given by Jagtar Singh Dholan, a hardcore terrorist of the KCF, to Major Singh in 1991. However, Dholan was shot dead in an encounter with the Punjab police at the end of 1991 and the explosives remained with Major Singh.

When asked whether Major Singh himself was a KCF man, the SSP said investigations were on in this regard.

A case under the Explosives Act has been registered at the Valtoha police station.


Former sarpanch shot

Hoshiarpur, December 2
Mr Amarjit Singh, a former sarpanch of Kule Fatehpur village, was shot by three persons while he was working in his fields last evening. According to police sources, three persons came in a car and approached Amarjit Singh while he was working in his fields. One of the assailants fired two shots at Amarjit Singh who died on the spot.

On receiving information, Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP, Detective, Hoshiarpur, rushed to the spot for personal investigations. Mr Ghuman said a case under Sections 302, 34 and 120 IPC, and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act had been registered against Rattan Singh, Surinder Singh and Heera Singh of Kule Fatehpur village. He said there was a land dispute between the deceased and the accused, who were at large. — OC


IT sector looking up, says Natrajan
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 2
“The service sector will require 3.3 million information technology (IT) experts throughout the world, particularly in North America and the European Union (EU), by the year 2008 and India is fast emerging as a major outsourcing market for IT professionals”.

Talking to reporters here today, the Chairman of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Dr R. Natrajan, said that according to a recent study conducted by NASCOM, the dot com sector would gain ground again in the world and the service sector would require 3.3 million IT professionals by the year 2008.

He further said that the IT sector had witnessed a considerable downfall during the past three years due to various factors, including the bursting of the dot com boom, the Y2K problem and the September 11 terror attacks in the US. “Now the market is looking up and we have decided to boost professional training in the IT sector throughout the country in a much more vigorous manner as India is fast becoming a major outsourcing market for IT professional besides Brazil, Russia and China.” He said that their main aim was to impart quality education, which sould be job-oriented in the present global scenario.

Commenting on the implications of GATT on the placement avenues for Indian students, he said “in a globally free market, Indian students are going to benefit a lot due to their skills and their being English speaking. Besides, we are taking effective measures to check the quality of education being imparted at our engineering, management and other technical institutes in the country.”

Among those present at the press conference were Mr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, and Dr G. Madhvan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Close 151 IT study centres, says Punjabi varsity team
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
A high-level team which had toured various study centres established in different parts of the country by a private company which had been authorised to do so by former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia on behalf of Punjabi University, today recommended closure of all 151 centres established by the company.

The Damdama Sahib Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology had been permitted to open study centres to teach various information technology courses, including B.Tech and M.Tech with understanding that the Punjabi University would conduct the examinations. Under this agreement, the university has conducted examinations for various courses for one year. This year, a committee was formed to oversee the examination procedure following allegations that the study centres were flouting university instructions and that some of these were encouraging unfair practices.

This year, the university authorities overseeing the examination procedure had given adverse reports against the study centres. The Dean, Research, Dr T.R. Sarma, who was deputed to Hyderabad to oversee the conduct of examination at the two study centres there, reported that the team was threatened in a bid to allow cheating at study centres.

Dr Sarma claimed in his report that one of the study centres in Hyderabad was situated in a four-room house, with one room being used for the centre. He said there was no provision for proper seating at the centre and no computers were visible. He claimed that even during the examination, students who had taken admission at the centres resorted to cheating, forcing him to make around 100 unfair means cases. The report said some of the students had come to the study centre with books so that they could copy the answers easily.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed that university officials had also made unfair means cases against students of a study centre in Chennai. At other places, glaring irregularities were observed. Various superintendents in their reports said at some places it was found that the study centre was charging for study material, which was to be provided free of cost to the students.

The sources said Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had asked for a report on the matter, which had been submitted by the Dean. The sources said the Dean had, in his report, stressed that it was difficult to conduct examinations at the study centres under the present circumstances. He said the staff which went to the centres to conduct the examinations was threatened, making it difficult for them to function independently.

The report also claimed that proper procedure had not been followed while establishing the study centres, adding that it was difficult to monitor their activities. It said the centres were not maintaining a record of the fee they were charging from the students. It said in such circumstances, the university should close all study centres.


120 PTU students get degrees
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 2
Four eminent IT and and science professionals were awarded doctorate degree, while 120 students were conferred degrees during a “special convocation” of the Punjab Technical University at DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology (DAVIET) here today.

Doctorate degrees (Honaris Causa) were awarded to the Chief of Pushpa Gujral Science City, Mr Raghbir Singh Khandpur, Prof N. Bala Krishanan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Mr G. Madhavan Nair and Mr Narinder Singh Tiwana.

In his address, the Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, Mr Y.S. Rajan, said that the university had set up regional centres in nine of its affiliated engineering colleges for imparting higher education, including M.Tech and Ph.D. He said that all postgraduate courses would adhere to international standards and would include projects and research work in association with the industry and national laboratories.

Mr Rajan further said that the university had decided to set up six new schools in the fields of design, productivity and automation; manufacturing technology and material technology; IT-enabled services and bio-informatics; entrepreneurship and total quality management; bio-technology applications and media and mass communication. “These schools of excellence will be set up in private participation even as the state government will contribute Rs 1 crore each for setting up of these schools,” he said, adding that their aim was to impart technical education at grass-root levels for transforming the social structure of the state.

Later, Dr G. Madhavan Nair delivered a lecture on the topic of “Indian Space Programme”. The Chancellor of the university and Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma also spoke.


GND varsity body, don clash
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
Members of the Guru Nanak Dev University Association and Dr Jaspal Singh, head of the Physiotherapy Department, exchanged heated words today after the postponement of the interview of Mr G.S. Kang, seniormost lecturer of the varsity, for his selection as Reader.

Members of the association alleged that the head of the department had been opposing the promotion of Mr Kang for a long period and had reportedly “persuaded” the experts not to come for the interview. The association leaders, including Dr Narpinder Singh, met the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, demanding the holding of an interview. Otherwise, the association would gherao the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his proposed visit to the university on December 5, the leaders warned.

However, the Vice-Chancellor said the experts had been caught up in traffic and would reach the university tomorrow.


Action recommended against school managements
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
The Additional Commissioner, Bathinda, Mrs K.P. Brar, has recommended action against the president and the secretary of the S.S.D. Sabha, Bathinda, the Principal of S.S.D. Senior Secondary School and the president, secretary and Principal of Moti Ram Kanya Mahavidyalaya to the Secretary, Department of Education, Punjab, after they were found guilty of committing irregularities while managing the affairs of these schools.

Official sources said Mrs Brar had recommended action against these persons to the Secretary, Education, in a letter yesterday on the basis of a report given by the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Bathinda. The Assistant Commissioner conducted an inquiry into a complaint lodged with the then Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Mr Anurag Verma, by Mr Devinder Pal Singh, a former faculty member of S.S.D. Senior Secondary School.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh, in his complaint, alleged that the functionaries concerned of the S.S.D. Sabha and school managements had taken donation from students in lieu of their admission and in one case had taken Rs 5 lakh from a candidate for recruiting her as Headmistress of a school run by the sabha.

Mr Manohar Lal, president, S.S.D. Sabha, said various inquiries into the allegations levelled by Mr Devinder Pal Singh had been conducted and each time the allegations were found to be false.

He denied the allegation that Rs 5 lakh had been taken by any functionary for recruiting a Headmistress. He said the receipt for Rs 5 lakh, which had been produced by Mr Devinder Pal Singh before the Assistant Commissioner, was fabricated.

He admitted that the S.S.D. Senior Secondary School management took donation in lieu of admitting students to run the school as the state government had been giving it a meagre grant.

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