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Baba Harnek Singh excommunicated
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The controversy over the control of Nanaksar Dera at Siahar village took a new turn today when the Sant Samaj headed by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi excommunicated Baba Harnek Singh, the reigning Sant at the dera, for his alleged objectionable activities in Canada.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj told Ludhiana Tribune that the five-member panel of the Sant Samaj consisting eminent religious personalities, had excommunicated Baba Harnek Singh for allegedly drinking liquor and participating in objectionable activities in Canada.

While Baba Harnek Singh was not here to comment, a spokesman for his group rejected the Sant Samaj orders saying Baba Harnek Singh was a saint and not a member of any sant samaj from which he could be ex-communicated.

The spokesman said the Sant Samaj and other organisations had approached Baba Harnek Singh several times with a membership offer, which he had refused saying the saints should not become part of such unions or associations and should only concentrate on religious activities.

The Sant Samaj had formed the panel to probe the allegations of misconduct against Baba Harnek Singh. It was found that he was challaned in Canada for driving under the influence of liquor. The panel had given 15-day time to him to clear his position, but he chose not to respond.

Meanwhile, tension continued in Siahar village for the fourth consecutive day today as rival factions sticked to their stands and no dialogue could take place despite efforts by the Khanna police.

The report of a visit to the village by Baba Harnek Singh in next few days for participating in a function on January 13 had added to the tension as the rival group was gearing up to stage a show down at his arrival.

The Khanna SSP, Mr Parmod Ban, had already announced that no one would be allowed to breach peace of the village. Heavy police force had been deployed in the village to avoid any untoward incident.

Both groups have convened separate press conferences tomorrow to put forward their point of view.

The first incident of violence took place on October 11 between the two warring groups fighting for the control of the dera. Nine persons, including three cops were injured, one of whom died on December 25.

The villagers had been demanding the control of the dera to be handed over to Baba Mann Singh. The other group headed by Baba Harnek Singh refused as Late Sant Meehan Singh had given his gaddi to him and not to his sons about a decade ago.

Much is at stake in the controversy. The control of the dera would provide the beneficiary hold over nearby 7,000 acres in Canada, besides several thousands of acres in Punjab and other parts in India. The stakes were quite high as three lakh million dollars were said to be the earnings from one crop in Canada.

At present, Swami Kanwaljit (In charge Asian group), Mann Singh, Govinder Singh and Surjit Singh Jodhan are members of the dera headed by Baba Harnek Singh. The followers of the sect include foreigners and VVIPs. The working at the dera was normal till September 11, when its present management allegedly got the rooms there vacated, which were till now occupied by Mann Singh, Sewa Singh and Harchand Singh sons of late Baba Meehan Singh.



Pound dreams shattered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The families of 10 youths, who had hoped of greener pastures abroad, were reduced to making rounds of police stations to get justice. They had allegedly been duped by a UK-based woman of Indian origin by promising to take them abroad after marrying them.

A number of youths and their families, allegedly duped by Jasbinder Kaur, alias Jassi, had been called by the district police for the identification of the woman. They were produced before mediapersons here today. Members of the family of a youth duped by the woman broke into tears and the accused started begging pardon, stating that she would return the money taken by her. The accused argued that the alleged victims knew that the marriage was fake and they were also culprits.

The district police had booked Jassi last week following a complaint. Police sources said after seeing her photograph in various newspapers a few days ago, many families claimed that they had also been duped by her. Mr Surjit Singh of Kale village in Jalandhar district said Jassi and he were engaged on November 6 and she had promised to take him to the UK. The deal had been struck for Rs 6 lakh and he was yet to give the money to her.

He said he came to know about the fraud when his friend, Happy of Dosanjh village, 2 km from his village, showed him a photograph of his fiancee. He was shocked to see that they had the same fiancee. Happy had promised to pay her Rs 3 lakh if he got a chance to immigrate. The mother of Pawandeep Singh of Jagraon, who had married Jassi after they had met at a hospital, broke down. She said Jassi had taken Rs 1 lakh from her and they had paid her the money by withdrawing it from a bank.

Jassi said all victims, except the parents of Pawandeep, had married her for their greed to go abroad. She said the bridegrooms had not checked up with her parents and had not asked about them during the engagement. She added that if she were to be punished, they should also be held responsible. Alleging that Harpal Singh, her husband from Jhanduwala village in Jalandhar district, had forced her to marry many men. A complainant in the case, Harpal Singh had accused her of defrauding him of Rs 6 lakh.

Jassi alleged that they had started hosiery export business and had suffered losses, to overcome which the fraud marriages had been arranged. She alleged that all her victims had been approached by Harpal Singh. The victims, changing statements in front of mediapersons, instead named a local advocate who had approached them. The police said Harpal Singh had been called, but he stayed away.



Migrant labourer stabs members of ex-employer’s family
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
Driven by urge to take revenge for being removed from job, a migrant labourer along with an accomplice stabbed two women members of his former employer’s family at Sarabha Nagar in the wee hours here today.

Sonu, a migrant labourer, along with an unidentified accomplice allegedly forced his entry into House No. 40-J of hosiery goods trader, Charanjit Singh around 6:30 am today and stabbed his wife Ashu and aged mother Gurcharan Kaur. Some had worked at Charanjit’s house as a domestic help earlier.

It was stiff resistance given to the intruders by the two women and their presence of mind that enabled them to save each other’s life. The women, despite being injured, grappled with the intruder, raised an alarm and called the male members of the family over mobile phone after locking themselves in a bathroom.

The women were taken to DMC Hospital by neighbours in serious condition. Their condition was now stated to be out of danger. While 42-year-old Ashu was stabbed in the abdomen, 70-year-old Gurbachan Kaur was stabbed in the face by Sonu.

Sonu would have gone unidentified had Ashu not pulled the monkey cap he was wearing off his face.

Family and police sources revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that owing to the hosiery season, Charanjit Singh, owner of Punjab Knitwear in Chaura Bazaar here, and his son left the home early around 6:00 am. This routine was known to Sonu.

Around 6:30 am Ashu went to answer a knock at the door. When she opened it a masked man Jabbed her in the face and pushed her inside. However, Ashu managed to recover in time and gave a couple of blows to the intruder. She pulled the monkey cap from the face of the intruder and identified him to be Sonu.

Sonu who was allegedly shocked at being recognised, stabbed Ashu in the abdomen. Hearing her cries, Gurcharan Kaur came to the room and was stabbed in the face. The two women, however, continued to fight the intruder and cry for help. Showing presence of mind, they locked themselves in a bathroom when the accomplice of Sonu also entered the house.

The women called the male members of the family over mobile phone, who in turn informed the police and neighbours. The neighbours were the first to reach to the women’s aid.

The police said the reason behind the intrusion and attack seemed to be personal enmity. He said Sonu was removed from the job for his misconduct and suspicious activities.

Family sources alleged that the intruders could have committed a robbery had they succeeded in overpowering the women. The police has booked Sonu and his accomplice.



YC activists burn Pak, BJP flags
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
Activists of the Youth Congress (YC) today burnt the flags of Pakistan and the BJP, in protest against the militant attack on Jammu railway station.
The demonstrators raised slogans against Pakistani rulers and the BJP leadership for its failure to restore peace and normalcy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The speakers, including former vice-president of District Youth Congress Sarbjit Singh Bunty, said as a result of weak policies of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, the Pakistan Government was openly supporting militant outfits which were out to destabilise the country. Rather than having peace talks with the Pakistani rulers, which, in any case, would not yield any result, the Indian Government should take a bold initiative to destroy the training camps for terrorists in Pakistan to put an end to cross-border terrorism once and for ever.



With eye on poll, BJP threatens stir
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) virtually launched its election campaign yesterday as the president of the state unit of the party, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, threatened to launch an agitation in Punjab if the state government failed to address the problems of trade and industry immediately. Presiding over a meeting of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal here last evening, he stated that the proposed VAT system was not acceptable to the trading community and it could yield the desired results only if it was uniformly implemented all over the country.

Mr Khanna said, “The VAT proposals in their present form will spell disaster for trade and industry in the state, already in a condition of turmoil, with a large number of industrial units having decided to shift from the state.” Lambasting the Congress government for going back from its poll promises, he observed that issues like abolition of octroi, rooting out of corruption, simplification of sales tax structure, an end to ‘Inspector Raj’ and freezing of power tariff had been pushed to the backburner as the reign of terror had been let loose by bureaucrats and sales tax officials. Dissensions within the ruling party had adversely affected the administration and development activities had grounded to a halt, he added.

In a bid to regain lost ground among trade and industry, Mr Khanna assured them that the party would take up the issues of hike in iron and steel prices and imposition of central excise duty on hosiery goods with the Centre at the appropriate level. The problems being faced by trade and industry in Punjab would also come up for discussion in the forthcoming national executive meeting of the BJP in Hyderabad on January 11 and if needed, party leaders would take a delegation of trade and industry representatives to meet the Prime Minister to seek relief, he said.

Other speakers, including functionaries of the beopar mandal, urged the Centre to announce an economic package for Punjab as was done for Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal. They pleaded that being a border state and located away from ports, the state had been unable to achieve the desired rate of progress and to explore its real potential. On account of the wrong and detrimental policies of the state government, not only were new industrial units shying away from Punjab, but the existing industry was also thinking in terms of shifting elsewhere, they alleged.

A plea for effective steps against rising prices of iron and steel, the basic raw material for light engineering industry, was also made. In the absence of immediate remedial measures, the small-scale industry would face annihilation, they said. The government was warned against any further hike in power tariff. Representatives of more than 100 trade and industrial bodies attended the meeting.



Farmers to stage dharnas on January 29
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
At least six representative bodies of farmers have decided to stage dharnas at the subdivision level all over the state on January 29 to focus on the problems of stray cattle and mounting arrears of sugarcane growers not paid by the private sugar mills.

A joint meeting of the functionaries of the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Kirti Kisan Union, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), the Punjab Kisan Sabha and the Khetibari Kisan Front, yesterday held here under the presidentship of Mr Prem Singh Bhangoo, expressed concern over the menace of stray cattle, especially in the Malwa region which was causing immense damage to the crops. The inaction on the part of the government towards recovery of dues of sugarcane growers also came in for a sharp criticism.

Giving details of the meeting, Mr Kuldip Singh said that the meeting rejected the marginal hike in the procurement price of wheat, terming it as inadequate and insufficient to cover the hike in the prices of inputs. A fair MSP for wheat was demanded which should be in proportion to the cost of labour and other inputs. The meeting condemned the increase in the prices of diesel and fertilisers, which, it observed, would hit the agriculture sector very hard.

The kisan bodies came down heavily upon the government for resorting to forcible recovery of farm loans and repressive steps like arrests and attachments of properties of the debtors. They pleaded for formulation of a comprehensive policy for making available loans to farmers on soft terms and lower rates of interest to sustain the financial viability of the agriculture sector.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh, the meeting took exception to the government move for privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board, which, if allowed to materialise, would cost all categories of consumers very dear. The participating bodies of farmers expressed solidarity with the PSEB employees, who were opposing the privatisation.

Prominent among those present at the meeting were Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Mr Raghbir Singh Benipal, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Mr Bogha Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh Samber and Mr Maghar Singh Koolrian.



Rehabilitation of nomadic tribes demanded 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The government should initiate steps for the rehabilitation and overall development of the nomadic tribes and Bazigars so that they can be assimilated in society after centuries of persecution and discrimination.

Talking to TNS, Mr Ruldu Singh Parmar, a member of the CM’s Advisory Committee for the overall development of Bazigars, Vimukt Jatis and Tapriwas, Punjab, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the local Municipal Corporation to remove all encroachments on public land. It was a welcome step since influential builders and persons with high connections connived with officials to encroach upon public land to raise structures.

On the other hand, thousands of migrants, including Bazigars and Vimukt Jatis, who do not own any property in the country, are feeling alarmed at the drive of the civic body. These people have come from various parts of the state to earn their livelihood and have put up jhuggis along roads, railway tracks and certain open spaces. They have not raised any permanent structures and at best polythene sheets or cardboard boxes have been used to save themselves from the icy winds, he pointed out.

He said they are an asset to any city since they indulge in petty vocation which are essential for society. They do not earn large sums of money but manage to keep the hearth fires burning. Nonetheless, they have been ignored by society and are often bear the brunt of any anti- encroachment drive. While the well-connected manage to go scot-free, the poor have no option but to shift to another city, thus, negating the very objective of various schemes launched for their betterment. They cannot avail of these schemes due to illiteracy, he added.

Mr Singh said their lot has been doomed in spite of several schemes under the Five-Year Plans. Efforts were made to rehabilitate them by constructing various housing settlements but nothing came out of it. The tribes who have been persecuted since the 16th century have a lifestyle which has hardly changed in the past 400 years. They are still without a roof over their head and are often harassed by the police in the event of a crime. Little wonder that they are called a blot on the face of several planned cities in the country. But who is to blame for this state of affairs, he questioned.

He has appealed to the government to adopt a humanitarian view while tackling this problem which is the result of our own apathy and official callousness.



Search Within
Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom and its relevance today

In the annals of the history of the Sikh gurus, there is an example that is worth celebrating even today;the spirit of sacrifice exemplified in the life and death of Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675) whose martyrdom was observed recently.

The Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi is built at the very spot where he courted death, defying attempts by the then Mughal ruler to impose his faith on the unwilling Kashmiri Brahmins.

Aurangzeb, the Mughal ruler, had let loose a reign of terror during his rule. He was forcing non-Muslims to embrace Islam. Those who resisted fell victims to his anger. It was said that he had razed to the ground several temples and banned Hindu festivals and fairs.

The Guru was certainly perturbed by these developments. Just then a delegation of Kashmiri Brahmins came to him seeking his help and protection. They narrated their tales of woes. The Muslim governor in power, Nawab Iftikhar Khan, had ordered them to choose between Islam and death.

Moved by their plight, the Sikh Guru decided to stand by the miserable Brahmins. He told them: ‘‘Go to the governor and tell him that all Brahmins are ready to embrace Islam if their leader, Guru Tegh Bahadur, is embraces Islam first.’’

The Brahmins, then presented their petition to the Emperor through the governor of Lahore. On its receipt, the Emperor flew into a rage. He ordered the immediate arrest of the Guru.

The Guru was chained and detained in a prison in Sirhind for three months. Subsequently he was moved to Delhi, where he was kept inside a cage.

He was persuaded to embrace Islam by the royal qazi and others. The Guru refused to give up his faith. His three brave disciples, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Din Dayal and Bhai Sati Das, were tortured and killed before his eyes.

When these acts failed to move the Guru, he was given the option of performing a miracle so that he could remain a Guru. If not, he could embrace Islam and he would be given an exalted position. The Guru replied: ‘‘I will never abandon my faith. I want no honour in this life. I want honour hereafter. The threat of death possesses no terrors for me. For death I am prepared and I cheerfully accept it.’’

What followed was history. Observers opined that the great sacrifice of the Guru had saved the country from being converted into a Dar-ul-Islam.

Islamic historians might disagree with such a point of view. While this was debatable, what was beyond doubt was the courage and selflessness exhibited by the Guru in defending the rights of ‘others‘. He, a Sikh, laid down his life to defend the rights of the Hindus (Brahmins).

Now what was the relevance of the martyrdom to the present world situation? In Guru Tegh Bahadur’s time, nations believed that ‘might is right.’ The mighty nations conquered the weaker ones. Looting and plundering the property of enemies in the course of wars was considered normal and natural. Civilisation had come a long way since then,, when the laws of the jungle prevailed. However, there were several issues involved in fighting evil and oppressive forces in our present day world.

The Guru through his martyrdom, was putting his spiritual force against the brute physical force of the enemy.

Three centuries later, Mahatma Gandhi forged the weapon of non-violence and the concept of satyagraha in fighting evil. ‘‘ Passive resistance is an all-sided sword. It can be used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and him against whom it is used. Without drawing a drop of blood it produces far reaching results.’’

And he fought against a whole empire and won ``without firing a shot.’’

Since he invented the novel weapon, it had been used extensively in this country, often to achieve goals that were patently unjust. In satyagraha, he maintained , there was no room for fraud or falsehood or any kind of untruth. Also the satyagrahi should be free from anger and malice.

Gandhiji wrote: ‘‘Jesus Christ, Daniel and Socrates represented the purest form of passive resistance or soul force. All these teachers counted their bodies as nothing in comparison with their soul. Tolstoy was the best and highest exponent of the doctrine.

In India the doctrine was understood and commonly practised long before it came into vogue in Europe. It is easy to see that soul force is infinitely superior to body force. If people in order to secure redress of wrongs resort to soul force, much of the present suffering will be avoided.’’

The powerful philosophy juxtaposed against the burning issues of the day like the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Kashmir problem, the terrorism issue highlighted by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre seemed incongruous.

However, it had to be admitted that the overthrow of Communism in the former Soviet Union , the reconciliation of the ruling Whites and the Black in South Africa, the unification of Germany and the ushering in of peace in Ireland and the growing public opinion all over the world against wars and conflicts pointed to the influence of the soul force as against physical force.

This was not to say that the world was learning to solve disputes through non-violent means. In the wake of the development of weapons of mass destruction, violence and wars if employed to serve disputes between nations, would result in wiping out major portions of the human race. If anything the warning that those who take the sword shall perish by the sword had only become an inescapable truth under present circumstances.

Then how to put an end to the oppression and justice in societies? The moral force or the soul force had to be developed to such an extent as to rouse the conscience of mankind.

Whether the human race would ever come to acknowledge the wisdom contained in the commandment to ‘overcome evil with good’ was still a matter of conjecture. If that was to happen, why should nations go on spending huge sums in arming themselves?

MPK Kutty



Brisk sale of ‘angithis’
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, January 4
Now that the winter is on its peak, Mohammad Yunus and his ilk making “angithis” are doing a brisk business. The law of demand and supply is very much in evidence. The prices of “angithis” have shot up as they not only help people cook food but also help them keep warm.

People living in poor localities use “angithis” as they cannot afford to buy gas connections. Coal is cheaper than kerosene oil and “angithis” once lighted up keep alight for a long time.

Mohammad Yunus says," These days I get customers from all classes. Middle and rich class people are also buying them. The rich people who love eating saag buy “angithis” and tell their cooks to prepare it on slow fire.

Middle class people, who have gas connections, too prefer “angithis” in winters as they can heat water for bathing, cook saag and make makki ki roti .

They like to stick to traditional way of making saag in earthen pots cooking slowly over the fire of “angithis”.



Check rise in steel prices, cries industry 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
Upset over the spurt in the prices of steel and non-ferrous metals, the local industry has called upon the government to intervene and save thousands of light engineering industrial units from imminent closure.

In an SOS to the Prime Minister and the Union Ministries of Steel and Commerce, the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has charged the major steel producers with an arbitrary hike in the prices of basic raw material. The indiscriminate export of iron and steel to China at much lower rates than being offered to the domestic industry, has further precipitated the situation.

According to Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, of the chamber, countries like China and other competitors of India in the global market have slashed import duty on steel items to make import easier and economically viable as also to protect their engineering industry. The Indian Government, however, seems to be not bothered about the fate of the domestic industry as the light engineering industrial sectors like bicycles, cycle parts, auto parts, hand tools and machine tools are about to close down.

The CICU functionaries noted with concern that the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) had also jacked up the prices of steel items like HR Coil and MS Round recently with the result that the price level had almost doubled as compared to those prevailing in March,2002. Similarly, the price of nickel had also registered a steep rise to the extent that the user industry had been rendered nonviable both in domestic and global markets.

Mr Pardhan said the industrial scenario in Punjab was dismal and unless the government rose to the occasion to bring down the prices of iron and steel to a reasonable level and to ensure easy availability of basic raw material, the tiny and small sectors of industry would simply collapse and the entire economy would be in a mess.



Drycleaners seek relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The Punjab Drycleaners Association has demanded withdrawal of service tax levied on them since it has adversely affected their business.
Mr Santokh Singh Ahluwalia, president, Punjab Drycleaners and Dyers Association, said apart from the tax the frequent hike in the prices of petrol had added to the losses. Since petrol was used in large quantities and the prices could not be raised every time there was a hike in the petrol rates, they had to compromise on their already meagre profit margins.

He said that since this trade was seasonal and the availability of clothes which could be washed at home, had also affected the trade. He also said that the imposition of service tax on dry cleaning units has also put this trade into big losses.

He appealed to the government to give relief to the dry cleaners by withdrawing this tax, as the government did not get any substantial revenue from this tax.


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