P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



On the run, Daler loses weight
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 21
Pop star Daler Mehndi may no longer need his trademark long robe. The designer robe, which did well to hide his rotund midriff, would now look out of place on Daler who has lost 15 kg during the past two months after a human trafficking case was registered against him.

Daler may look dapper as he did today wearing sneakers, jeans and black jacket. Even this new look has not cheered him. This is because the weight loss has nothing to do with any new diet regimen or exercise, but is solely due to mental tension.

Local lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi, who is representing Daler now, says the popstar had been “terrorised” by the “reception” he received from a stage managed mob outside Sadar Police Station. The lawyer said Daler, who had unwittingly driven his own Mercedes Benz Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) had not expected to be attacked by any mob which even damaged his vehicle. He said Daler was subsequently further terrorised when the investigating officers in the case asked him to take off his trousers so that “formalities” for identifying him could be completed.

The lawyer said due to these “instances” Daler had become nervous even yesterday when the time came to start for Patiala. He said even though he had met Daler twice during the trip as per the orders of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Daler was strung up as he had to stay in the very same Sadar Police Station where he had been questioned twice.

Daler seemed to be highly nervous when he came to Sadar Police Station at 11.20 p.m. last night even though he smiled for the benefit of the cameras. He was put up in the ‘hawalat” for the night though sources said beddings from outside had been made available to him. However, it was clear today morning that Daler was in no mood to play showman. He wore the same set of clothes he had worn yesterday, including the same turban. The trademark diamond string which the popstar drapes around his turban was missing.

Talking to TNS, Daler claimed that all this had happened to him because he had refused to pay Rs 1.50 crore which had been demanded from him by Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajinderpal Singh Anand to hush up the complaint received against him. He said he still stood by his claim and wanted the matter to be investigated. When asked about the case which had been registered against him, he said he had faith in the judicial process and that he would cooperate fully with the investigating authorities to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Daler was accompanied to the city yesterday with his brother Mika and his brother-in-law who drove down separately in a Prado Sports Utility Vehicle. However, both of them did not come to the court where he was produced before the Duty Magistrate. Mika, however, did to Sadar Police Station to adhere to some formalities regarding the case.


Amarinder admits to dissidence in party
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 21
Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, today admitted that the Congress in the state was still suffering from dissidence and factionalism from within, which had yet to be sorted out and the final decision in this regard would be taken by the party high command. The Chief Minister was here to attend the bhog ceremony of Rajkumari Sodhi, mother of Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister.

Asked whether Mr Sanjit Sinha would be removed from the Department of Home as demanded by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, the Chief Minister said he would not like to comment on it as it was an administrative matter. He, however, said the statement of Mr Bajwa had been misinterpreted by the media, as he had not sought the removal of Mr Sinha. Mr Bajwa, when questioned in this regard, was evasive and preferred to stay mum.

Capt Amarinder Singh said best lawyers would be engaged to protect the interest of Punjabis in the SYL canal case pending in the Supreme Court. He said work on all developmental schemes, the foundation stones for which had already been laid by various Congress leaders, including former Congress Chief Minister Beant Singh and other Congress ministers, would be taken on a priority basis.

He said in order to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system in the state his government was determined to give larger rights to the panchayats and for this necessary constitutional amendments would be made soon. He said some of the departments would be brought under the panchayats to bring transparency in the functioning of the government and make it more responsive, efficient and people friendly. About the non-practising allowance issue concerning the government doctors, the Chief Minister said a committee comprising some ministers and officers had been formed to take a final decision in the matter.

Other prominent leaders present on the occasion included Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Government Minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Mr Darbari Lal, Minister of State for Education, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, and other senior Congress leaders, MLAs and functionaries of the PCC.

However, no member from the dissident group was present at today’s bhog ceremony. Ironically, most of the local Congress MLAs were conspicuous by their absence.


Dissidents hold breakfast meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The dissidents held a breakfast meeting at the residence of Punjab Transport Minister Tej Parkash Singh today almost all dissidents were present. Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal declined comment on meeting. She said all her ministerial colleagues would attend offices to dispose of official work.

Last night, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Technical Education Minister, hosted dinner for the dissidents.


CM to lay stone of memorial gates today
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 21
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will visit Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow, two days prior to the beginning of the Saheedi Jor Mela, to lay the foundation stone of four memorial gates here. The gates would be constructed at Attewali, Talania, near the railway over-bridge and Madhopur, the four entry points to the district.

These gates will be dedicated to Sher Mohamad Khan Nawab of Maler Kotla, who objected to the bricking alive of younger Sahibjadas, Diwan Todar Mal, who’s purchased the land for their cremation. Moti Ram Mehra, who provided milk to the Sahibjadas and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, who revenged their death by killing Wazir Khan, Governor of Sirhind, who had ordered their bricking alive.

According to Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, after lying the foundation stones, the Chief Minister would also address a public meeting at the grounds of a Government School in Madho Pur. He said these gates would be constructed by PUDA, the Ware Housing Corporation, Markfed and the Co-operative Department at the cost of Rs 50 lakh each.

Meanwhile, citizens of Sirhind have demanded that instead of wasting Rs 2 crore on these gates, the government should give the money as a grant for development projects in Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib and these projects should be dedicated to the Sahibjadas.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, who is supervising the arrangments for the visit of the Chief Minister, assured the people that during a political conference of the party on the eve of the Mela, Capt Amarinder Singh would announce a development plan for the district and Sirhind.

He said before addressing the political conference, the Chief Minister would preside over a district planning board meeting to finalise the projects.

Meanwhile, the district police and the civil administration were finalising arrangments for the Chief Minister visit.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said all security arrangments had been completed and a helipad made at Government Senior School, Fatehgarh Sahib.


State of Industrial Focal Points in Punjab — I
Bereft of basic civic amenities
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 21
The Punjab Government’s ambitious plan to establish an Industrial Focal Point at Dera Bassi in 1991 seems to have gone awry in the absence of basic amenities. Most industries situated in the area rue the lack of basic civic infrastructure and apathy of the authorities concerned.

Of the 189 industrial plots ranging from 500 square yards to 5,000 square yards, only 50 odd have started operations after completing the basic infrastructure in their premises. As of today only 10-15 industrial units are functioning, with 50 per cent of those which started operations having shut or shifting operations to Baddi (HP). A visit to the area by a TNS team revealed a large number of vacant plots or incomplete structures, with litter and garbage strewn around.

Mr Rakesh Rattan Aggarwal general secretary of the Dera Bassi Industries Association, said the focal point could not be developed as most industrial plots were purchased with a motive to earn profit. Because of the absence and poor upkeep of basic amenities and imposition of octroi on units falling under the focal point, industrialists were hesitant to start their units here. On the contrary, they prefer to set up their industrial units in the free enterprise zones, where land is available at much cheaper rates.

Industrialists are a disgruntled lot as there is no police post, post office, proper hospitals or a PSEB complaint office in the area though these were sanctioned almost a decade ago.

Mr Shanti Lal Sethia, President of the association, claimed that in the absence of a proper hospital in the area, the health of the labourers was suffering. The ESI dispensary, which had also been lying closed for the past three or four years, started functioning only a few months ago. In the case of an emergency or a mishap, the nearest place to go is the Civil Hospital at Dera Bassi which too lacks facilities.

Since “the Civil Hospital has no proper arrangements to treat burn cases, we have to rush such victims to Chandigarh or Patiala,” Mr Sethia said. The nearest fire station is at Dera Bassi, and that too has just one fire engine. The need for having a well-equipped fire station was voiced by several entrepreneurs.

Industrialists alleged the absence of a PSEB complaint office has led to an increase in power thefts and other such problems. Mr R.N. Gupta, Managing Director of Avon Meters Pvt Ltd, pointed out that major electrical faults take several days for rectification, affecting productivity. Similarly, the absence of a police post compounds the law and order problem and even serious crimes in the area go unreported.

Mr Kewal Garg, an industrialist, rued that puddles of dirty water had formed in the vacant plots in absence of a proper disposal system. Most roads in the locality require recarpeting. Provision of streetlights inadequate with most of them not in a working order. The absence of a bus stop adds to the woes of employees, who have to walk long distances to board a bus or take some other mode of conveyance. The approach road leading to the Industrial Focal Point is marked by big potholes and needs immediate recarpeting for easy transportation of goods.

Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, pointed out that though the local Municipal Council had imposed octroi on all units situated in the Focal Point falling within its limits, it had not provided them with any basic amenities in lieu of that. The association had taken up the issue of abolition of octroi with various government agencies but in vain. The area had industries with an investment as high as Rs 100 crore or as less as Rs 1 lakh.

While, the Punjab Small Industrial Export Corporation (PSIEC) authorities maintain that the maintenance of the focal point was still in their charge as the norms of handing it over to the Municipal Council were yet to be met, the industrialists lament that why should they be made to pay octroi or property tax, when the civil administration was yet to step in.

Most vacant plots in the area were being used by villagers for grazing their cattle, and the PSIEC authorities have not been able to do much about it. The staff deployed here for upkeep and maintenance purposes hardly swings into action, said an industrialist.


Engineers repair Attari track
Ashok Sethi

Attari (Amritsar), December 21
After having received the green light from the Ministry of Railways for resuming the Samjhauta Express from January 15, group of railway engineers and other staff have started repairing the track on war footing.

During the visit to the railway station today the reporter found that a large number of technical staff were busy giving final coats of paint to the platform and repairing the waiting halls after senior officers of India and Pakistan Railways agreed to start rolling the biweekly Samjhauta Express as per the earlier time table and schedule.

The railway officers, who were working round-the-clock to give a new look to the railway stations and to the facilities said the entire work would be completed within 10 days. The railway was also providing catering service at the station.

The Samjhauta Express, a symbol of people-to-people contact, had completed 25 years of its existence in 2001 but India had decided to snap the only rail link with Pakistan in the wake of terrorist attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Although the Indian and Pakistani Railways had extended an earlier agreement in 2001 which was valid up to January, 2004, the two-day technical level talks had extended the agreement till January 2007 on similar basis. Pakistan had offered to increase the train’s frequency from twice a week to three times a week but India had decided to stick to the old schedule.

The Indian Railways had also taken a stand to not to increase the fare but impressed upon the Pakistan Railways to observe punctuality as the delay causes a lot of inconvenience to passengers on both sides. The railway authorities said Pakistani officers had assured them that Attari-bound train from Lahore would arrive at 12.30 pm and return by 2.30 p.m. on every Tuesday and Thursdays. He added that the engine, the driver and the good rolling stock for first six months would be provided by Pakistan.

The four members Pakistan Railway team which had gone to Delhi for details on the resumption of the Samjhauta Express returned today. According to an information, a high-level team of the Indian Railway officials will soon be visiting to discuss modalities relating to fare structure, number and type of coaches and also the feasibility to extend Lahore-Attari service to Delhi. The resumption of the Samjhauta Express will also help in increasing the trade as number of parcels vans are attached to the train carrying perishable goods. The trade was also suspended along with the Samjhauta Express.


No Pak passage for Tata trucks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 21
Thirty five Tata vehicles including water tankers and garbage lifters, donated by the Government of India to Afghanistan, today returned back after waiting for about one month at Wagah, 25 km from here. The Pakistan government has refused to give clearance to those vehicles.


Deed revenue Rs 442 crore
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 21
The Punjab Government collected a revenue of Rs 442 crore from the registration of deeds and stamp duty till October 31 against the target of Rs 750 crore in the current financial year.

This was stated by Ms Gurbinder Chahal, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, while talking to mediapersons here on Friday.

Mrs Chahal was here to preside over a meeting of senior revenue officials of Faridkot division to take corrective measures to streamline the process and achieve the target before the stipulated period. She said though no case of fake registration of deed or sale of stamp duty had been reported in the state yet Punjab was the first state in the country to impart all types of training like cross-checking of documents to all its revenue officers. The Financial Commissioner further said the process was underway to computerise the entire record of the land or other property in the state.

Earlier addressing the divisional officers’ meeting at the local mini-secretariat, she told them to ensure that the report of registration of deeds and the sale of stamp duty be sent to the state every month. Among others who attended the meeting included Mr M.S. Banvait, Additional Secretary Revenue, Punjab, Mr B. Sarkar, Commissioner, Faridkot division, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhari and Mr Hussan Lal Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot, respectively.


Woman alleges forcible abortion by in-laws
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 21
Ms Kulwinder Kaur (25), daughter of Ram Parkash of Sherpur Katcha village has alleged that her husband and his family members forcibly got her pregnancy terminated. Presently, she is struggling for her life at the local Civil Hospital.

She said her husband, Naranjan Singh of Kabirpur village was an idle person and did nothing since their marriage.

He farher-in-law, Yoga Ram, is a Class-IV employee at the Government Hospital, Bhunga. She was married on July 8, 2002. She alleged that after the marriage, her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law Samitter Kaur, brother-in-law Dial Singh and sister-in-law Gurinder Kaur started torturing her.

She alleged that they demanded Rs 1.50 lakh from her father for opening electric goods shop. Meanwhile, she got pregnant. She said when her in-laws came to know about the pregnancy, they compelled her to get it aborted. She alleged that when she refused to do so, on November 27, her husband forcibly put a cloth in her mouth, other members tide her arms and legs and her father-in-law injected some drug into her for abortion.

As a result, her pregnancy was terminated, she said. Kulwinder alleged that she was told by her husband in-laws that she could become mother only after she brought Rs 1.50 lakh from her parents.

She requested her sister to save her from the clutches of her in-laws. On the next day her mother Surjit Kaur came there and took to their house. On December 11, she was admitted to the local Civil Hospital and is under treatment.

On December 16, she lodged a complaint with the Hariana and got a case registered under Sections 498 A and 406 IPC against her husband and in-laws.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, was hopeful that the police would arrest the in-laws of the girl soon.


BJP to plan for LS poll on Dec 28
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 21
Punjab BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna said on Friday that the party would work out a strategy for the next Lok Sabha election in its working committee meeting to be held at Phagwara on December 28.

Mr Khanna, who was here on Friday to preside over the meeting of eight district units here, while addressing a press conference said the BJP was preparing for “mission 2004”.

He said to strengthen the party base among the masses in Punjab, its units were being set up in every nook and corner of Punjab and office-bearers of state units had been made in charge of different party units to manage their affairs. He added that the SAD and BJP MPs were asked to visit their respective areas and contribute funds for the development of them.

Mr Khanna, while condemning the state government for its anti-people policies, said CBI probe should be instituted to prove the charges of corruption levelled by Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. He added that as the charges were very serious, Capt Amarinder Singh should explain whether he was innocent or not.

He added that apart from it, the Speaker should also call a special session of the Vidhan Sabha as the state had been passing through political instability after a large section of Congress MLAs and ministers had refused to repose faith in Capt Amarinder Singh.

He alleged that by involving themselves in power struggle, the Congress leadership had been exposed of its non-developmental attitude.

Mr Khanna alleged that the Punjab Government had failed to recruit teachers in government schools in adequate numbers.


BJP’s district chiefs
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 21
Punjab BJP President Avinash Rai Khanna has appointed 17 senior BJP leaders as district in charges of the party in all districts of the state. They are: Bibi Gurcharan Kaur — Bathinda; Muktsar. Mr Swarna Ram; Jalandhar rural and Nawanshahr, — Prof Lakshmi Kanta Chawla: Batala and Amritsar rural, — Mr Shakti Sharma, Kapurthala — Mr Avinash Jaiswal; Patiala rural, — Mr Vinod Sharma; Ludhiana urban and Gurdaspur, — Arunesh Shakir; Amritsar urban — Mr Charanji Lal Bajaj; Abohar and Faridkot, — Ashok Juneja; Moga, — Dr Balbir Chand Kapila; Ludhiana and Sangrur, — Mr Vipin Chander Paul; Fatehgarh Sahib, — Mr Bal Krishan Mittal; Hoshiarpur, — Mr Mohal Lal Garg; Mansa, — Mr Faquir Chand Goyal; Firozepur, — Mr Harbans Lal Sethi; Ropar and Jalandhar urban, — Mr Hans Raj Nakkra; Mukerian and Hoshiarpur rural, — Dr Nand Lal Sharma; Patiala urban.


Move to curtail pension scheme decried
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 21
A function was organised here on Wednesday evening by the district unit of the Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association to mark Pensioners’ day. About 400 government pensioners participated in the function. Mr Om Parkash Gaba, president of the association, addressing the gathering, flayed the government move to curtail the pension scheme. He said if the proposal was implemented, the pension scheme would become contributory.

Mr Sarwan Singh Pardesi, Principal, M.R. Government College, who presided over the function, called upon pensioners to bridge the gap between senior citizens and the young generation. Mr J.K. Kataria, Chief Manager, State Bank of India, said the bank was offering a special loan scheme for pensioners. He said a special counter had been set up by the bank for providing prompt service to pensioners.

Mr Harish Maini, Chairman of the project, highlighted the activities of pensioners. Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, president, Pensioners’ Association, Fazilka, listed the problems of pensioners.

Five pensioners above the age of 80 were honoured on the occasion. These were Mr Des Raj Bhusari, a retired Food and Supplies Officer, Mrs Jatto Bai and Ms Maya Devi, both teachers, Mr Narain Singh, a patwari, and Mr Shiv Datt Sharma, founder of the Fazilka unit of the association. Distinguished educationists like Kashmiri Lal Juneja, Gopi Chand Jain, Murari Lal Sharma, Mastan Singh and Uma Datt Shastri were honoured posthumously.


Jurists leave for Pak today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 21
After initial refusal to an Indian legal delegation at the eleventh hour by Pakistan authorities in September, the first delegation of legal luminaries and jurists form here would be visiting Pakistan tomorrow as state guests on the invitation of the vice-chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab, Lahore, Mr Arif Chaudhary. The 61-member delegation led by Mr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, President, Bar Association, Punjab and Haryana High Court, would interact with members of the Lahore Bar Council, Punjab.

Significantly the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Mr V.K. Jhanji, and many other legal heads, including Mr Harbhagwan Singh, Advocate General, Punjab, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bhinder, senior Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior advocate from Haryana, would interact with their Pakistani counterparts, said Mr B.M. Vinayak, Member, Bar Council, Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The delegation which was today flagged off from the Governor's house in Chandigarh reached here for an overnight stay. They would proceed to Pakistan via the Wagah joint-check post tomorrow. The delegation is expected return on December 26.

Mr Arif extended the invitation via e mails to his Indian counterparts after a visit here under the banner of Bar Council, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, at 'International Legal Conference' held in Chandigarh on September 29.


No dog’s death

Phagwara, December 21
An NRI came all the way from the UK to immerse the normal remains of his pet dog in a river here, hold religious ceremony as last rites and langar in the canine memory at local Ratanpura Mohalla today. The posters with the portrait of the dog were pasted in the locality with the words “in the memory of revered Madmax Chopra”. The dog was Rottweiler.

The NRI Des Raj Chopra had a pet named Madmax Chopra. It was born on March 8, 1993 and died on March 27, this year. The NRI was so fond of his pet that he came here to hold a “path” of Sukhmani Sahib for the peace of his pet and organised langar in his memory. Relatives and friends were invited for the “bhog” and antim ardas.

It wasn’t a death like a dog!


Dalit woman is Talhan Sarpanch
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 21
The district administration today succeeded in holding panchayat elections at Talhan village near here in a peaceful manner while a Dalit woman, Ms Inderjeet Kaur, was elected Sarpanch defeating her nearest rival, Ms Gian Kaur, by a margin of 88 votes.

As many as seven out of the nine posts of panches were won by members of the Dalit community. Ms Inderjit Kaur polled 889 votes while Ms Gian Kaur secured 791 votes.

The authorities concerned had postponed the elections for the Talhan village panchayat, earlier scheduled for June 29, after eruption of caste-based clashes and subsequent killing of a Dalit allegedly in police firing in the Buta Mandi area. Talhan remained under curfew for about a month due to Jat-Dalit clashes which errupted over the issue of Dalits' rights to manage the village gurdwara.

A former president of the village gurdwara, Mr Kewal Singh Bhangu, was defeated by a member of the gurdwara committee, Mr Bhupinder Singh, during the election for the post of panch.

Those who have been elected as panches include Balwinderjit Singh, Harmesh Lal, Bhupinder Kumar, Rattan Kaur, Deepo, Kulwinder Kaur, Bhupinder Singh, Jagdev Singh and Rajinder Kumar.


Furniture burnt
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 21
Furniture goods, worth lakhs of rupees, were destroyed in a fire, which broke out this morning in a showroom, owned by M/s Durga Dass Surinder Kumar, at Dhuri, about 14 km from here.

According to information reaching here today, the fire broke out at 6 am and could be controlled after more than four hours by four fire engines. However, the cause of the fire could not be ascertained immediately.

Sources said the roofs of the double-storeyed showroom fell down after the spread of fire all around as the showroom had been built with wooden material.


Souvenir on Mungowalia released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 21
Haryana Governor Babu Parmanand released a souvenir in the memory of freedom fighter Mangu Ram Mungowalia at a seminar on “India's struggle for Independence” at Central State Library here today.

The seminar, jointly organised by Dr B. R. Ambedkar Youth Club and Dr Ambedkar Vichar and Welfare Front, focussed on the contributions of the freedom fighter.

The pro-active role played by other Gadar party leaders, including Lala Hardayal and Sohan Singh Bhakana, was also discussed.

The Governor, while speaking about the freedom fighter, said he had played a key role in galvanising the downtrodden and poor masses of the country against the British occupation.

The function was presided over by the president of the SC/BC Teachers Union, Punjab, Mr Malagar Singh, who, while paying homage to the freedom fighter, said Mungowalia was born in a Scheduled Caste family and battled against all odds to work for the dignity and uplift of scheduled castes.

A memorandum presented by Mangu Ram to the then Governor of Punjab, Sir Geoffrey, in Lahore in 1929 was also read out on the occasion.

Dr Gurmeet Kalarmajri, Surjit majari, Dr Kulwant Kaur and Sher Singh read papers at the seminar.

Dr Jatinder Paul Singh Bhupal was the guest of honour. Others present on the occasion included Mr Joga Singh, Dr Avtar Singh, Mr C.L. Chaudhary, Dr Harnek Singh and Jagjit Singh Mattoo.


Ambulance donated to Rotary Club
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 21
The District Red Cross Society has initiated social service projects with the support of social organisations for the benefit of the needy. Besides, efforts are being made to help poor patients by providing timely treatment and medicines to them, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a function organised by the Rotary Club, Sirhind, today. He handed over the keys of an ambulance to the club president. The ambulance has been purchased by the District Red Cross Society and would be maintained by the Rotary Club.

The Deputy Commissioner called upon social organisations to serve the downtrodden. He called upon Rotarians to utilise the ambulance for the benefit of the public and said it should be made available to the people round the clock. Mr Bhupinder Singh Jaggi, president of the club, assured the Deputy Commissioner that the club would continue serving the weaker sections of society and its fight against social evils.


Raising day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 21
The third combined raising day of All-India Reserve Battalions was celebrated with gaiety and fervour at the IRB Centre at Ladda Kothi. Six platoons representing each battalion took part in an impressive parade.

State IRB Inspector-General of Police P.M. Das took the salute on the occasion and also presided over other ceremonies held on the occasion. Dr Das said if the Punjab police was known for its duty outside the state, it was primarily because of the Indian Reserve Battalions. He mentioned various states, including Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, where these battalions had played a stellar role.

The IRB Pipe Band presented an impressive band display in which 20 special tunes were prepared for the occasion under the supervision of First IRB Commandant Baljot Singh Rathore. This was followed by a tug-of-war competition between non-commissioned officers and officers. Children of IRB officials showed their prowess in the 100 metres race.

The IGP, presented trophies to the winners of various inter-battalion events held during the day as well as the entire year. The contingent of the First IRB was declared the best marching contingent. The First IRB also won the Inter-Volleyball Championship. Dr Das also presided over a sainik sammelan of all battalions during the course of which their grievances were heard and redressed on the spot.


Courts’ building unsafe

Nabha, December 21
Resentment prevails among lawyers practising in the courts here over the apathetic attitude of the administration towards their problems.

Building housing the courts was declared unsafe 25 years ago, it is learnt. Bar Association president Inderjit Singh Guraya told reporters that lawyers and litigants were forced to use a ‘stinking’ toilet. There was no separate toilet for women. He alleged that SDM had not paid any attention to their requests on basic facilities in the court. Nearly 1000 persons visit the court complex. — OC


5 shops burgled in one night
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 21
Resentment prevails among traders over thefts in five local shops last night. The thieves also inadvertently set the first floor of a garment shop on fire, allegedly causing a loss of about Rs 1 lakh. The thieves broke into a garment shop, Gaba Garments, situated on the Gita Bhavan road here and took away Rs 14000 lying in a drawer.

The thieves perhaps set some papers on fire for light and left them there. This supposedly caused fire in that part of shop. The fire was noticed by some neighbours at around 3.15 a.m. and the fire station was informed. Mr Mohan Lal Verma, Fire Officer, and Lalit Mohan Pathak, president, Municipal Council, reached the scene. It took about one hour to extinguish the fire.

Besides, the thieves struck at Jeet Bartan Store on the same road and took away Rs 5000. They also burgled Navyug Traders, near railway station and took away Rs 1,400 in cash and mobile bucks worth Rs 8,000. Thefts were also reported at a drycleaner’s shop Mohalla Khara Khuh and Raju Hair Dressers at Lal Chowk.

According to city SHO Avtar Singh, the police has registered a case and started investigations. A watchman tried to catch one of the thieves when they were fleeing after conducting theft at Navyug Traders, but in vain.


Father, son attacked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 21
Mr Chinder Singh and his son, Mr Mewa Singh, residents of Kothaguru village in the district, were injured when they were attacked by two youths with masked faces late last night in their house.

While Mr Mewa Singh suffered injury, caused by firearms, his father sustained injury from a sharp-edged weapon. Both victims had been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Bhagta Bhaika. Fear had gripped the area.

Police sources said around 11.30 pm there was a knock at the door of the house of Mr Chinder Singh. When Mr Chinder Singh accompanied by his son opened the door, they were attacked by the visitors, whose faces were covered. While one of the accused carrying firearms used it against Mr Mewa Singh, the other accused, who was carrying a sharp-edged weapon, attacked Mr Chinder Singh. Though Mr Mewa Singh and Mr Chinder Singh got injured, they resisted all attempts of the accused, who after sensing danger fled.

Mr Manoj Kumar, chowki in charge, Bhagta Bhai Ka, said in the preliminary investigations it was found that the accused had come to physically harm the victims and not for looting their belongings. He added that the accused and the victims might be having some old enmity.

A case has been registered.


11 arrested for cruelty against animals
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 21
The local police has arrested 11 residents of Buladhewalla under Section 11-A of the prevention of cruelty against animals act and Section 289 of the IPC.

Sources said that these accused loaded cows from their fields and left them in the thermal police station area.

Those arrested are: Gurmail Singh, Gurjant Singh, Labh Singh, Shamsher Singh, Gurjant Singh, Jagga Singh, Gurjant Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Balbir Singh, Iqbal Singh and Balkar Singh.


Case against sarpanch
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 21
A criminal case has been registered against Tara Singh, alias Tari sarpanch of Phulo Khari village and his accomplice Angrej Singh of Giana village in Raman Mandi police station today for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of narcotics.

Police sources said five bags of puppy husk, 30 kg each, were recovered from a car parked inside the house of Tara Singh late last night.


2 youths commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 21
Two youths, Krishan Nath Singh and Navdeep, allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a running train near Gobindpur Mohalla. Their bodies were found near the railway track this morning. Both were in their early 20's and were working in a local mill. While Krishan, a migrant, was living in Rattanpura Mohalla, the girl, Navdeep, belonged to Nangal Colony.

The exact cause of suicide could not be ascertained, but a love affair between the two is not being ruled out as the reason behind the step. The father of Navdeep, however, denied any affair. He said his daughter was under stress due to a skin disease, adding that it might have driven her to suicide.

The police has taken bodies into its possession and sent them for post-mortem examination.


Three die in accident
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 21
Three persons were killed on the spot, when the four-wheeler they were travelling by Sri Bhaini Sahib along with vegetables, collided with a PRTC bus near Bhatian village between Phillaur and Goraya on the national highway last evening. Eyewitnesses said the four-wheeler was hit by a private bus from the rear side and the driver of the four-wheeler lost control of the vehicle, which moved into another lane of the GT Road and collided with a PRTC bus coming from the opposite side. The deceased were identified as Baljit Singh, Beant Singh and Bakhshish Singh of Ludhiana. The police has sent the bodies to the civil hospital here for a postmortem examination. The police has arrested the driver and impounded bus.


Gang busted, motor cycles recovered
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 21
The local CIA staff yesterday busted a gang of five and recovered three motor cycles and one scooter. In addition, a pistol and sharp-edged weapons were also seized.

A case has been registered against Rakesh Kumar, Gurpreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, Jeet Singh and Gurpreet, all residents of the city, under Sections 399, 402, 379 and 411 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 25/54 and 59 of the Arms Act at Sadar Police station here.

Meanwhile, 650 pouches of illicit liquor were recovered from Darshan Singh, a resident of the local Tej Bagh Colony, Manglu and Chandarban, both residents of Mirch Mandi.


E-cards for PTU students
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
‘Smart’ companies will place ‘smart students’. With an eye on the future, Punjab Technical University (PTU) has taken the lead in the country in issuing e-cards or smart cards to its students. The electronic card given to each student enrolled with the university will contain his/her identification, along with a photograph and the relevant data about the student in a microchip embedded in the card.

For the university and the State Education Department, issuing of these cards would lead to the automatic creation of an electronically accessible data bank of students enrolled with PTU. For the student, other than it being a proof of identity, the card would contain personalised information, a small diary to store addresses and an e-purse which could be used to shop within the campus of the college or the university.

Starting with students studying on the PTU campus, the e-cards or smart cards would be in actual use from the next session.

Smart cards had been now in use internationally and nationally for about five years. But most of the usage had remained restricted to corporate houses or large business houses for building an access-control system of the staff. 

“However, the use of e-cards by students will be done for the first time in India here at PTU” said Mr Pravin Deshpande of Mind Logics, a Bangalore-based company which would be implementing the smart card project for PTU.

‘‘To begin with, we have provided attendance and time cards to the teachers here. A card reader is put on the classroom door and the teacher puts his attendance and time card inside. Each student who enters the class enters his name into the teacher’s card and when the class is over the card is taken back by the teacher with a record of all students who got into the class and at what time,’’explained Mr Deshpande.

The idea that e-cards could be most useful to students was floated by Dr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University. ‘‘E cards will be issued once the university is totally e-governed followed by the affiliated colleges,’’said Dr Rajan.

Explaining the use of the card Mr Deshpande said every college would be given a card reader attached to the computers. Other than the administrator who would be ultimately responsible for the change or addition of data, the student too could access his card and incorporate information.


No buyers for kinnows in Punjab
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Kinnow growers in Punjab are disappointed these days as the wholesale prices have come down to Rs 5 or Rs 7 per kg in the market as against Rs 12 to 15 per kg last year. After a sharp rise in production this year, the growers are finding it difficult to find buyers in the market.

Interestingly, the Punjab Horticulture Department and the PAIC are not aware about the crisis. The farmers claim that production of kinnows has increased by over 25 per cent over the last year's production despite a marginal fall in area under crop. The total production of the crop is estimated to remain over 2.5 lakh tonnes this year as against about 2 lakh tonnes last year. The season of kinnow would continue till February end.

Mr Digvijay Kapoor, President, Sabzi Mandi Arthiya Association, Chandigarh, said, "The crop has just begin to reach the market, but the prices are falling day by day. The wholesale price today slashed to Rs 5 depending on the size and quality of the fruit, though retail prices are hovering around Rs 12 to Rs 15 per kg."

He claimed that bumper crop in Ganganagar district in Rajasthan and Hoshiarpur, Abohar and Fazilka in Punjab, besides good orange crop in Maharashtra, had affected the prices.

Insiders said lack of upgraded kinnow varieties and processing facilities over the years had resulted in declining margins for the farmers. A number of farmers in Rajpura-Derabassi area and other districts had not grown the crop because of falling profit.

One could see farmers sitting on the roadside of Chandigarh-Ambala, Zirakpur-Patiala and Mohali-Ludhiana with heaps of kinnow. Said Mr Rampal Singh, a grower near Kharar, "Kinnow production has been very good this year, but there are no takers for the fruit. So we are forced to sell it at cheaper rates." After crash in potato prices, it was a major setback for the state farmers.

A senior official of the Department of Horticulture, said though the production had increased in the state, the PAIC, which was supposed to set up marketing and processing facilities, had failed to do anything for the farmers. Consequently, the farmers had to face crisis almost every second year.

He said, "If the Himachal Government can put the apple fruit growers on the world map through proper packaging, processing and marketing, why cannot we make efforts for kinnow. It will increase profits of the farmers and satisfaction of the customers." The state government would also earn huge revenue through market fee and sales tax on processed juices, he added.

Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director, PAIC, admitted that due to overproduction the prices might have fallen, but it was very difficult to intervene in the market. Mr Bhushan Goyal, AGM, PAIC, said," Since kinnow quality is not suitable for preparing juices because of bitterness, we are making efforts in collaboration with Pepsi to develop some new varieties for proper processing and marketing."


Bank organises customers’ meet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 21
The State Bank of Patiala organised a customers’ meet with a special focus on insurance products here yesterday. The meeting was presided over by the general manager (treasury) of the bank Mr Pardeep Shankar. As many as 200 customers attended the meet. Addressing the gathering Mr Navdeep Sood from the SBI made a power point presentation on various products of SBI life with a special focus on life insurance for housing loan borrowers of the bank. He informed that there was a provision by the bank under which one-time premium can also be financed under housing loan over and above the project cost.

Mr Pardeep Shankar said the SBOP being the premier bank of the area had been touching new heights with patronage of customers. Earlier AGM of the State Bank of Patiala, Mr A.S Bhatia, assured the customers of excellence in customers’ service and prompt delivery of various products of the bank.

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