P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



‘Patit’ singers banned from reciting Gurbani
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
The SGPC today warned the ‘patit’ (apostate) Sikh singers with shorn hair or trimmed beards from reciting ‘Gurbani’. The SGPC has also imposed a ban on telecast of the recording of Gurbani recited by Patit Sikhs. The telecast of pictures of Sikh Gurus has also been banned.

SGPC Secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta today described the singing of Gurbani by ‘Patit’ Sikhs and its telecast, showing of the Guru Granth Sahib and pictures of Sikh masters by various TV channels as violation of the ‘maryada’ (Sikh traditions). He said the decision to this effect was teken at an executive meeting held at Anandpur Sahib.

The decision of the SGPC is likely to create furore among singers who had been minting money by bringing out audio cassettes or CDs on Gurbani. It would also adversely affect the Punjabi film industry as many religious songs used to be part of many feature films.

The SGPC has urged the producers of TV programmes and films not to indulge in any activity which would hurt the sentiments of Sikh masses.

In yet another significant development, the SGPC has announced that nobody would be allowed to make statues of Sikh Gurus as idol worship was banned in Sikhism.

Mr Calcutta said the “Patit” Sikh singers who had been singing vulgar songs, won’t be allowed to sing Gurbani in the presence of holy Guru Granth Sahib at any cost. Mr Calcutta appealed to various Sikh societies not to invite the “patit” Sikh singers at religious functions. He said no such singer would be allowed to sing by supporting Sikh symbols like ‘khanda’ or ‘kirpan’. The SGPC has also appealed to the recording companies to take care of Sikh maryada while recording of ‘gurbani’.

Mr Calcutta said the SGPC would get the official quarters vacated from those employees whose children are “patit”.

These extreme steps probably have been taken in the wake of the coming general elections of the shiromani committee. The SGPC had drawn flak from the Sikh masses as it failed to implement the maryada in the families of SGPC employees even 79 years after its inception.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has contributed Rs 10 lakh for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the earthquake victims of Iran.

In a letter to the state government, the SGPC has urged the state government to allot the old building of the Improvement Trust to the SGPC for the proposed ultra modern library.


Shopkeepers observe bandh
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, January 21
Shopkeepers in the area around Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib today observed a bandh against the decision of the SGPC to raise a wall along the passage leading to the takht. Most of the affected shopkeeper kept their shutter down as a protest against the move.

The SGPC at its executive meeting held here on Monday had decided to raise a wall along the passage to secure the SGPC property from encroachments by shopkeepers.

Last evening when the gurdwara management tried to raise the wall along the road affected shopkeepers started raising slogans. They also sat on a dharna and alleged that if the wall was raised their business would be come to a stop.

After protest by the shopkeepers’ the gurdwara authorities today deferred the raising of wall. However, it is likely to become a bone of contention between shopkeepers and the SGPC authorities.


Akhand Kirtani Jatha convener dead
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
Noted Sikh intellectual and convener of Akhand Kirtani Jatha (prabandhki panchayan) Jathedar Joginder Singh Talwara today died at Guru Ram Dass Hospital here after brief illness. He was 70.

He is survived by his two sons.

Jathedar Talwara was member of the advisory committee formed by the SGPC to advise Sikh clergy on Panthic affairs. He was author of eleven books on various Panthic topics.

Though he was close to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti he had strongly criticised him (Jathedar Vedanti) when he absolved Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president Shiromani Akali Dal for violating the Sikh maryada.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, president and secretary, SGPC, respectively, condoled the death of Jathedar Talwara. The cremation of Jathedar Talwara would take place at shaheedan cremation ground.


De-mining of border areas on war footing,
says Gen Mehta
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
Lieut-Gen Shamsher Singh Mehta, GOC-in-C, Western Command, today said areas near the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan had been completely de-mined and the work of de-mining areas, falling near the Indo-Pak border in Punjab, was going on the war footing.

In an informal chat with media persons, after the glittering investiture ceremony held in the Bathinda cantonment today, General Mehta pointed out that only four to five per cent of area, falling near the Indo-Pak border in Punjab, was yet to be de-mined and the task would be completed shortly.

Admitting that missing mines and drifted-away mines were creating problems for those who had been assigned the job of clearing the fields, he said it had taken so long as the work was laborious and needed expertise. He added that he had deputed a team of Army officials, to take care of those persons whose fields had been mined and later cleared.

The Army authorities were taking due care to ensure that there was no mine in a field before handing it over to its owner. After clearing a field, it was ploughed. A trawler was also being pressed into service so that missing and drifted mines could be detected.

General Mehta pointed out that a part of compensation for mines-related casualties had been paid. Compensation for the loss of crop to owners’ whose land had been mined, was being paid. The Army authorities were also solving problems pertaining to the non-payment of compensation by taking up the matter with the authorities concerned.

When asked about the situation prevailing on the Indo-Pak border, he said the situation was completely peaceful and activities from across the border had come to a complete halt after it was fenced.

When asked whether the Vajpayee -Musharraf talks in Islamabad would have an effect over the infiltration of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, he said it was too early to make an assessment. He, however, added that talks to normalise the relations between India and Pakistan would not bring any slackness in the Indian Army.


Militants behind Goraya rail line blast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 21
The apprehension of a terrorist hand in the January 6 Goraya rail line blast has come true.The chemical examination of the damaged rail line parts by Forensic Experts has revealed that RDX was used to blow off the track.

The police is suspecting that some Jammu and Kashmir militant outfits were the perpetrators of the blast. The immediate target was the Howrah Express train, which had a miraculous escape despite passing over the damaged track on that day.

After the receipt of the report, the Government Railway Police has launched a massive manhunt for the culprits. Highly-placed police sources reveal that more than 100 suspicious persons were being questioned in this regard.

The persons questioned were mostly anti-social elements, listed criminals, former terrorists and some suspected sympathisers of the militant movement in Jammu and Kashmir.

Security has been further beefed up along the tracks in the state as the terrorist can strike again, police sources revealed. Though the authorities have not taken any action against the commando battalion officials responsible for the track or the Ludhiana Railway police in whose area the incident occurred, but the then SHO, Inspector Lakha Singh have been transferred to the Railway Police CIA wing.

Sub-Inspector Gurnam Singh, SHO railway police station-cum-investigating officer of the case said the forensic report had confirmed the suspicion of the police that some explosive was used to blew off nearly .82 cm of the track. He said out of the four samples, three were tested positive for RDX.

“Yes, we are suspecting the involvement of militant outfits active in Jammu and Kashmir in the blast case.’’ he confirmed adding that the police was also questioning some former Punjab militants in the case. Most of these were living in Ludhiana, Goraya and Jalandhar belts.

Police officials were insisting on the blast theory while the railway staff was suspecting that the track could have been damaged because of the change in weather.

Mr S.C. Jain, ADGP Railways, in a recent interview to The Tribune had stated that the track seemed to have been damaged by of some explosion.


Complainants record statements against Daler
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The Sadar Police today recorded the statements of four complainants in the human trafficking case which has been registered against pop star Daler Mehndi, his brother Shamsher and others one day after they had come from Gurdaspur to give evidence in the case.

The complainants had approached Range Deputy Inspector General of Police I.P.S. Sahota yesterday and complained that the district police was not recording their statements despite the fact that they had presented themselves at the Sadar Police Station in the morning itself. The DIG reportedly directed them to present themselves in the Sadar police station again. However their statement could not be recorded yesterday.

Gurinder Singh, one of the complainants, said he was brother of gun man of Daler Mehndi. He came in contact with the pop star through his brother. He claimed that one of his relatives in Canada had sponsored his case for visa to the country. Gurinder said when he told his brother about his case, the latter arranged his meeting with Daler. He alleged that the pop singer told him that he would have to prepare a lot of documents if he wanted to get his visa through the sponsorship route and suggested he meet Shamsher.

Gurinder said it was then that he was offered to be taken as part of a troupe. However even though Gurinder claimed that he had phone bills of phone calls made to the mobile phone of Daler as well as the pop singer’s residence, he did not have any proof to show about the allegations levelled against Daler. He also handed over a photostat copy of a request made by Shamsher Mehndi to the French Embassy but this also did not have his name as a member of the troupe.

The photostat copy has a list of 23 members who are listed as staff and artists of Shamsher Mehndi’s firm and wanted to visit Europe from May 10, 2002 to May 25, 2002. The request is signed by Shamsher. When questioned about this Gurinder said his name as well as that of two others who had come to the Sadar Police Station with him — Ramanpreet and Bachhittar — had been included in a subsequent list. He claimed that the list with him right now had the names of four persons of Hoshiarpur district who had also been cheated by Shamsher.

Gurinder claimed that he had come to the Sadar Police Station earlier also before Daler was given bail in the case. He said the police had then told him that he would be called in due time to record his statement. This was, however, not done and he was surprised to learn after a few days that Daler had been given bail after the Patiala police claimed it did not have any evidence against him. He said now he had come from Gurdaspur with Ramanpreet and Bachittar and Dalbir. They had remained in the police station for a long time but nobody recorded their statement.

Earlier the matter was brought to the notice of Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai in the evening by newsmen during a press conference and the SSP had claimed that SP (City) R.L. Monga would record the statement of the complainants in the evening but this could not be done. Today the complaianants were called to the Sadar Police Station in the evening and they submitted documents as well as the receipts of the phone bills to members of the special investigation team (SIT) present there.


Sidhu’s application put off for today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
District and Sessions Judge A.N. Jindal put off the application filed by ousted PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, seeking permission to file bail bonds in the disproportionate assets case, till tomorrow. The Judge ordered his record staff to present the file of the case to him by then.

Ravi Sidhu came to the court in the afternoon today and remained there for more than two hours. This was because two of his aunts had also come to the court to file sureties of Rs 5 lakh each in the case on his behalf. They filed the requisite papers and presented themselves before the court of the Sessions Judge, but the matter was put of for summoning of the case file.

Talking to TNS later, Sidhu’s advocate Tirath Singh said the delay in filing the bail bonds had occurred because the relatives of Sidhu had to complete all formalities, including getting their properties valued by revenue officials. He said now that this had been done, the sureties were being filed. He said Sidhu was likely to file sureties in another case in Chandigarh tomorrow.


Allow me to invite Pak Punjab CM: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today urged Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to allow him to invite Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab as part of efforts to improve relations between the two countries.

The Chief Minister, who met Prime Minister for about 20 minutes, told him that he had been invited to Pakistan’s Punjab by his counterpart.

He apprised the Prime Minister of a Punjabi Language Conference being held in Lahore to which he had been invited. He said he had written to the External Affairs Ministry about the invitation but received no response.

Sources said the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to take steps to increase export of cotton and wheat from Punjab to Pakistan.

Mr Amarinder Singh sought an extension of excise benefits to the industry in Punjab on the pattern of neighbouring states.

The Chief Minister is expected to meet Finance Minister Jaswant Singh tomorrow.

He met AICC general secretary Mohsina Kidwai in the afternoon today to discuss the expansion of his Cabinet. Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will arrive in the Capital tomorrow to give her views to the Congress high command.


I won’t rest on my laurels, says Bashir
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, January 21
There is but one measure of success for this mere mortal — the immortality of his verse. Meeting Bashir Badr who is here to participate in an Indo-Pak mushaira, is an experience to savour. He seems to breathe and live the ghazal, his first and last love in life.

And he does seem to be on the brink of achieving what he had been dreaming about since decades. “I deserve the ‘shohrat’ the public has bestowed upon me, however I cannot rest till I my verse attains that pinnacle of glory where verse no longer remains verse but becomes a part of eternal cycle”. Inspired by the immortal verse of Meera , Kabir and Mir Taqi Mir, Syed Muhammad Bashir, popularly known by his Takhallus-Badr, specialises in composing ghazals alone and has about 11,000 couplets to his credit till date.

A quiet note of pride creeps into his voice while relating how he was made the ‘Sadar’ (a distinction given to the finest poet present who is also the last to end the mushaira with his verse ) at the Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan held in September, 2003, in New York where he shared the dias with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Bashir Badr was awarded Padma Shri in 1999 besides being honoured by several other awards including Sahitya Akademi Award.

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen when asked by a journalist as why she remained `reserved` quoted this couplet from Badr in reply — ‘Koi haath bhi na milayega jo gale miloge tapaak se, ye naye mizaaj ka shahar hai zara faasle se mila karo’. However, Badr burst upon the poetic scene with aplomb in early 1970s after the media highlighted a couplet of his as caption below a picture of Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto shaking hands amiably following a settlement after the 1971 Indo-Pak war: “Dushmani jam kar karo lekin ye gunjaish rahe, jab kabhi ham dost ho jaayen to sharminda na hon”.

Badr relates an interesting anecdote when he was a relatively obscure poet. In a mushaira boasting of great names of the poetic world, Badr `s couplet — “Ujale apni yaadon key hamaare saath rahne do, Na jane kis gali mein zindagi ki shaam ho jaaye” earned unprecedented applause and all poets unanimously decided the mushaira closed midway being of the opinion that no ‘behtar’ couplet could be said after this.

“When I was young I listed 50 words which feature frequently in verses of the great poets of yesteryears including Saki, Paimaana, Mehkhaana, Kaaba, Haram and Maikada and vowed never to use them in my own verse. You will never find these words in my couplets”, Badr says.

About his brief foray into the world of films, Badr says that he is more than content that good singers like Jagjit Singh, Chandan Das, Talat Aziz, Rajendra and Neena Mehta lend their voice to his words. He finds a lot of satisfaction that his eldest son Nusrat Badr has become a force to reckon with in Bollywood having written the songs for ‘Devdas’.


Pak poets feel at home on Indian soil
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 21
On the third day of the All-India National Integration Camp being held at Punjabi University campus, poets from Pakistan Gulnar Afreen, Naqoosh Naqvi, Anwaar Azmi and Shahid Lakhanvi said while on Indian land, they felt as if at home. The poets said the love showered on them by the people was overwhelming.

Dr U.C. Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, welcoming the guests, said though the border had divided the country, it had failed to divide the hearts of the people on both sides. He quoted the example of Mr Ram Manohar Lohia in this regard. Dr U.C. Singh presented souvenirs to these poets on behalf of the university. Dr Nashir Naqvi and Dr Tariq Kifayatullah were also present on this occasion.

In the Indo- US session, Prof Darlene Khalsa, Director, International Students Programming, Concordia University, Wisconsin (USA), stated that from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India had a large number of communities living together in amity. She said that she was conscious of the fact that in a vast country like India, regional interests did surface from time to time and came in clash with the cultural ethos of the country. However, it was a tribute to the national character of India that the regional interests were never allowed to dominate the national interests.

Mr Jajit Singh Dardi, a journalist, in his presidential address, observed that the Indian culture symbolised truth, peace, love and non-violence. He referred to the supreme sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur from the sake of others’ religion which was a rare example of national integration in world history.

On this occasion Mr N.S. Choudhary, Vice-Chairman, Guru Harkishan College of Management and Technology, educationist Principal S.R. Sahni, Mr J.K. Miglani, Programme Officer, NSS, Modi College, and Dr B.S. Maan, also participated in the panel discussion.

In the academic session, Mr Santosh Taneja and Mr Narinder Kohli from Delhi spoke on the role of citizens in national security and youth and culture respectively.


Don’t induct Amrik, Khurana: SAD
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Kisan Wing today urged the Congress party high command and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh not to induct legislators Amrik Singh Dhillon and Raj Khurana in the forthcoing cabinet expansion in the state claiming both the leaders were involved in a multi-crore fertiliser scam.

Party Kisan Wing president Satnam Singh Behru alleged that both the leaders were involved in the multi-crore fertiliser scam under which factories manufacturing superphosphate fertiliser showed sales in lakhs of bags in connivance with Agricultural Department officials even though they had not manufactured the fertiliser.

Mr Behru said his party had sought a CBI inquiry into the matter during the Chief Ministership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Landless families encroach village common land
Taken to Sonia’s rally on assurance on plots
Lalit Mohan

Nangal, January 21
Bimla Devi, a landless woman of Kathera village, was camping in the open, braving cold while guarding a piece of shamlat (village common land) she had forcibly possessed a few days ago. When this correspondent visited the village today, many other women like Bimla were sitting in the open, guarding the pieces of land they had themselves demarcated with bamboos and wires.

When asked why they were occupying the land, they said that their cases were being finalised by the Deputy Commissioner and they would soon be issued the letters of allotment of the land they had occupied. They also showed a list of 14 women that was allegedly handed over to them by the village sarpanch. The list besides showing the names of the women who had been issued the plots also displayed the numbers of the plots.

The list contained the names of Vijay Kumari, Bimla Devi, Asha Devi, Vidhya Bevi, Kuldeep, Rajinder, Saroj, Rachna, Rama, Krishana and Baljit Kaur.

Investigation into the matter revealed that some landless families of Kathera village adjoining Nangal were taken for a ride by some local leaders. The leaders took the landless families to the rally of Ms Sonia Gandhi at Bathinda recently, where they were reportedly given an assurance that the Chief Minister would give them the allotment letters for the plots at the rally.

Though nothing of this sort happened at the rally, the families after returning to the village themselves occupied the common land of the village. They also demarcated plots with bamboos, limestone powder and even flour and fought with one another to protect the plot boundaries.

The sarpanch of Kathera village, Mr Krishan Pal Singh Rana, said that no land was being allotted to the landless families of the village. He said that he had informed the BDO about the encroachments in the village. The panchayat would soon adopt a resolution regarding the encroachments and send it to the Deputy Commissioner.

He accused the former sarpanch of the village for misguiding the people on the issue.

He said that at the time of the panchayat elections, the former sarpanch had collected applications from the landless families of the village assuring them that their case had been moved to allot them plots in the common land of the village. However, now those applications were not traceable.

According to sources, the land on which the families had encroached actually belongs to National Fertilisers Limited.


Gallantry awards presented
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
At an impressive investiture ceremony held here today, one Yudh Seva Medal, one Bar to Sena Medal, 24 Sena Medals (gallantry), four Sena Medals (distinguished) and three Seva Medals were presented to armymen. Out of these 33 medals, five were given posthumously. The Goc-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, gave away the medals.

Gunner Raghuvir Singh (18 Rashtriya Rifles) was part of an ambush team in Lohar Patti in Jammu and Kashmir.

On 10 May 2002 at 2030 hours, he noticed the movement of terrorists in the area. Gunner Raghuvir Singh immediately opened fire, alerting his party in the process. A firefight ensued in which Gunner Raghuvir Singh received bullet injuries. He engaged the terrorists, till the leading terrorist was killed.

Despite being wounded, Gunner Raghuvir Singh crawled to his flank to close in on a hiding terrorist. He fired at the terrorist from a point blank range, killing him on the spot. Gunner Raghuvir Singh later succumbed to his injuries.

Two AK-47 rifles, five magazines, a radio set and 48 rounds were recovered from the terrorists.

Gunner Raghuvir Singh was posthumously awarded the Sena Medal (gallantry) for displaying exemplary courage, offensive spirit and bravery beyond the call of duty. His mother, Ms Amarjit Kaur, received the award.

Naib Subedar Prem Bahadur Thapa was awarded Sena Medal for his bravery in Umrongshu-Khodang Dam in Chehar, Assam. Despite being wounded in the terrorist attack, he managed to kill one of the attackers and injured six others on December 12, 2002.

Lieut-Col Surinder Kumar Baliwal (Mahar/30 Rashtriya Rifles) was awarded Bar to Sena Medal for displaying bravery, tenacity and excellent leadership qualities while carrying out cordoning and search operation at Badra Bala village in Jammu and Kashmir on August 3, 2002. Paying seant regard to his own safety, he shot dead two terrorists from a close range and supervised the whole operation.

Brigadier Rabinder Singh Sidhu (Sikh LI) was awarded Sena Medal for his handling of different matters with maturity, tact, vigorous diligence and drive while serving as Commander of Sub Area, Station Commander and President, Cantonment Board, Jalandhar cantonment, and managing to get 53 acres evicted from encroaches apart from facilitating the resumption of Old Grant Bungalow and Northern India Flying Club land and assets after decades. He also rendered distinguished service of highest order during “Operation Parakaram”.

Brigadier Surinder Pal Singh Dhaliwal, who took over an Infantry Brigade in “Operation Rakshak” in September 2000, rejuvenated and motivated his command, which killed 39 terrorists and recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

Colonel Jaswinder Singh Suraj (14 Rajput) was awarded Sena Medal as his battalion killed 50 terrorists and recovered 119 weapons, apart from arresting five and securing surrender of 19 terrorists in the Kupwara sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Colonel Deepak Handa was given Sena Medal for devotion to duty for showing exceptional courage when his unit killed five terrorists in Assam on October 4, 2001, in an encounter that lasted for 13 hours.

The others who got Sena Medal (gallantry) included Lieut Manoj Pathania, Sep Sukhchain Singh (posthumous), Naik Vinod Singh, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar (posthumous), Subedar Lekh Ram, Sep Jaswant Singh, Hav Najim Singh, Lieut Pramod Kumar Mishra, Subedar Bahadur Singh, LN. Sanjeev Singh Thakur, Major G.S.P. Raju, Rifleman Kishan Rai, L.N. Sugreen, Rifleman Sultan Singh Arya, LN Anil Kumar, Sep. Sukhinder Singh (posthumous), Lieut Munish Kumar Sharma, Hav Rachhpal Singh, Rifleman Atal Singh (Posthumous), Lance Havildar Piare Ram. Rifleman Kapil Dev Thapliyal and Capt Kumar Gaurav Mehta.

Those who were awarded Vishisht Seva Medals, included Major-Gen Ashok Kumar Vasudev (retd), Brig. R.D. Sharma and Brig D.C. Katoch.


Ex-sarpanch accused of funds’ embezzlement
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 21
In an alleged case of embezzlement of funds worth lakhs of rupees by a former Sarpanch, panchayat members of Saidpura village have demanded that inquiry in the case should be expedited.

In a letter to the Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Punjab, panchayat members and Mr Jaspal singh, sarpanch of the village, alleged that Ms Gian Kaur, a former sarpanch of the village, had misappropriated grant money worth lakhs of rupees, sanctioned by the government for various development works in the village.

The complaint said that Ms Gian Kaur misused interest money, received on an investment of Rs 38 lakh. The money had come after selling the village common land to the Punjab State Electricity Board for setting up a 200 KV-sub station in the village.

In the record list of the panahayat, huge amount had been shown as expenditure on various development works like construction of dharamshalas, boundary walls, repair of dharamshalas, repair of streets and drains, digging on village common ponds and many more, which was unjustified.

In the complaint, former panchayat members Dev Raj, Madan Lal, Jaswant Saini and present sarpanch Jaspal Singh alleged that Gian Kaur had spent half of the grant money on the village development works and the rest of the amount was embezzled.

Taking a serious note of complaint by the villagers, the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), after conducting inquires, into some projects taken up by the earlier panchayat under the Section 216 of the Panchayat Raj Act, had found embezzlement of fundsin the grant money. The BDPO had sent a comprehensive report to the Director Panchayats, Punjab, in this regard.

He said the investigation was on into other by the Subdivisional Officer, of the Panchayat Department.

Ms Gian Kaur, however denied the allegations and said that a fresh inquiry was being conducted in this regard.

“Some rivals have been unnecessarily trying to implicate me in false cases. Earlier, after conducting an enquiry in the same case, BDPO, DDPO, Secretary Zila Parishad, Patiala, Deputy Director Panchayats, Patiala and some senior government officials had given me a clean chit,” claimed Ms Gian Kaur.


Mystery over Mohali resident’s death continues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Mystery continues to shroud the death of a Mohali resident. Even after nine years, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has allegedly failed to complete the probe in the matter.

The victim’s father, Mohinder Singh, had earlier claimed that his son Jagraj Singh was shown to have been killed in an encounter after being picked up by the police from Mohali on January 14, 1995.

He had added that the High Court, acting on his telegram, had issued notice to the Punjab Police, but the authorities had denied the allegations. Subsequently, the High Court had asked the CBI to look into his allegations following which a case of kidnapping was registered, the petitioner had asserted.

The premier investigating agency, after probing the incident, filed an untraced report holding that his son was not picked up by the Punjab Police. Rather, he was killed in an encounter. Their closure report was, however, rejected by Patiala’s Special Judge on April 9 last year, the petitioner had stated.

The case is likely to come up for further hearing on January 22.


Punjab bylaws applicable to nursing homes: MC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The general-body meeting of the Municipal Corporation today held that the corporation was governed by Punjab Government bylaws, in force since 1957, on the issue of building of nursing homes and hospitals in this area and that these laws were applicable to Prem Nursing Home which had been built in a residential area in Punjabi Bagh locality of the city.

Earlier, a PIL had been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the permission given to Prem Nursing Home which had come up in a residential area. The Municipal Corporation Commissioner, who had attended the last hearing in the case, had contended that no bylaws had been established on how permission should be given to nursing homes and hospitals in the city. The meeting today held that the Municipal Corporation was bound by the Punjab Government bylaws on the issue which were being followed by the other corporations in the state.

Giving details of the meeting, Mayor Vishnu Sharma said the decision taken by the corporation would be relayed to the High Court at the next hearing of the case. He said besides this the corporation had taken decisions on the issue of streetlights and octroi theft.

Mr Sharma said the general body awarded a new contract for streetlighting of the city to a firm for 14 months starting from 2. He said this time competitive bidding had been put into force for this contract and the contract had awarded for Rs 45 lakh. He said last year the corporation had given the contract to a private party for Rs 54 lakh. He said the contract had been taken at the reserve price of Rs 45 lakh itself.

Speaking on the issue of octroi theft, the Mayor said it had been decided to give a reward of Rs 2,000 to any employee who was successful in detecting octroi theft of more than Rs 60,000 in one month. He said besides this the corporation had also decided to give a reward of 2 per cent of the total octroi theft detection to any private person who tipped off the corporation about such theft cases. He said informers could contact relevant corporation officials on the telephone or any other means of communication convenient to them. Mr Sharma said the identity of the informers would be kept secret.


Row over park’s construction
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 21
The construction of a park by the municipal corporation at Dussehra ground at Bassi Pathana town of the district has become a bone of contention between Councilors and the administration.

The first to oppose the construction work was the Ram Lila Committee of the town but officials of the council continued with the construction work. Now eight out of 13 councillors, including a senior vice-president in a memorandum to the SDM has urged him to immediately stop the construction work as it was initiated without any planning and their consent.

This has created tension in the sleepy town as one group is supporting the council’s president move to continue the construction work, where the other group is against it.

Meanwhile Mr Rakha Singh Jangu SDM, has stayed the construction work till further orders. This move has relieved the councillors but annoyed the council president’s camp.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune Mr Vivek Kumar, senior vice-president of the council, said they had written to the SDM that the council started the construction work without the approval of house and without measuring the council’s land.

He said the work should start only after the approval of house. The boundary wall or railing should not be constructed as during Dussehra festival it would create problems for the huge crowd.

They also demanded that at first encroachments should be removed from the land and shops should not be constructed.

The SDM said that he would submit the report to Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, tomorrow and as per his directions further action would be initiated.

Ms Amita Tangri, council president, said the construction work was started only after it was passed in the meeting.

She termed the unnecessary controversy as unfortunate and politically motivated.


Two farmers buried alive

Moonak, January 21
Two farmers were buried alive while trying to extricate a tubewell fan from a well here last evening, the police said.

Subhash and Bharpur Singh, both residents of Moonak, were buried to death when earth caved in on them.

Villagers struggled for four hours to bring them out but both were declared brought dead on arrival in the Civil Hospital, the police added. — UNI


“Nostalgia-2004” on Jan 28
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 21
Mrs Praneet Kaur, M P, Patiala, will lay the foundation stone of a students' centre at Government College, Dera Bassi, on January 28. The M P will be the chief guest at ‘‘Nostalgia 2004’’, an annual function to be celebrated by the Old Students Association (OSA) on the day.

According to Dr PS Joshi, general secretary of the OSA, Punjabi singer Surjit Khan, an alumni of the college, would entertain the gathering on the occasion. Besides old students of the college, residents and prominent personalities of the area would also join the celebrations. Mr Bhupinder Singh Saini, coordinator of the OSA, informed that Mr Tejvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, would preside over the function.


Implement schemes for safai karamcharis, says penal

Bathinda, January 21
Mr Ganga Ram Teja, member, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, today urged state government agencies and officials concerned to ensure that all schemes launched for the uplift of safai karamcharis were implemented in letter and spirit.

Mr Teja, who was here today to preside over a meeting held for monitoring and evaluation of different schemes for safai karamcharis, told officials to complete the survey to identify all safai karamcharis working in villages, hospitals, railway stations, municipal councils and other organisation by March 31,2004. — TNS


Protest against custodial death
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 21
Bahujan Samaj Party workers yesterday protested against the custodial death of Subeg Singh (27), a resident of Pandori Gola village, who allegedly committed suicide in the lock-up of the local city police station yesterday. BSP workers gathered at the local civil hospital where the post-mortem examination was performed and raised slogans. The police has registered a case.


Ayurvedic dispensary found locked
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 21
The Ayurvedic dispensary was found locked by the SDM during a surprise check carried out by him her today. The SDM, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill, went to check attendance in the dispensary in the morning but found a lock at the gate. He had also visited the dispensary at 4.40 p.m. yesterday but found it locked. The opening and closing time of the dispensary had not been mentioned on the board put outside.

Checks were also conducted at the office of the Municipal Council and the Block Development and Panchayat Office (BDPO). While attendance of the staff was found to be satisfactory at the council office, a number of employees of the BDPO were found on leave. A junior engineer was found absent and the officer in charge had gone to meet the Kharar MLA. The check had been carried out on the directions of the Ropar Deputy Commissioner.


4 Mohali residents injured, rescued
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 21
Four persons, who were injured in a road accident near the railway flyover at Sirhind last night, were rescued by the district police chief, Mr Shiv Kumar. As he received the information regarding the accident he reached the spot and admitted them to the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib.

The injured were identified as Mr Mohinder Singh (60), Principal, Khalsa School, Mohali, Jaswant Singh (50) Ms Sukhjit Kaur (45) and Ms Harwinder Kaur (23), all residents of Mohali. They were on the way to Mohali. The injured were referred to the PGI and Fortis Hospital today.


High Court
SHO demanding money, alleges sportsman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
If allegations in a writ petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court are to be believed, then a Station House Officer (SHO) is demanding Rs 10,000 from a weightlifter for removing his name and photograph from a notice board in a Patiala police station.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, weightlifter Musa Khan claimed that he was acquitted in all 14 cases registered against him by the police during his college days from 1993 to 1998. The cases, he asserted, were registered at the behest of a rival political group.

Describing himself as a sportsman, the petitioner claimed that he had stood first in the national weightlifting championship. He claimed that a representation was handed over to Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) following directions by the High Court on his earlier petition. But the same was rejected.

He submitted that directions should as such be issued to the state of Punjab, the SSP and another respondent to declare illegal the action of displaying his name and photograph on the board. Directions were also sought for deleting his name from register number 10 maintained at a police station.

The action, he said, amounted to interference in his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Taking up his petition, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, fixed January 22 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Habeas corpus petition

Taking up a habeas corpus petition alleging demand of money for release of an illegally detained Ludhiana resident, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the high court on Wednesday appointed a warrant officer.

In her petition, the alleged detainee’s wife had earlier claimed that police authorities were demanding Rs 1 lakh for the release of her husband. Arguing before the court, her counsel added that the petitioner was, in fact, receiving calls on her mobile for handing over the money.


Rights panel to go online
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) is planning to become the first State Rights Commission to go online.

The Commission is giving final touches to launch its own website to enable a complainant to check the status of his complaint at a click of the mouse. Besides, the website will also provide all other relevant information related to the PSHRC.

At an average, the PSHRC receives between 200 and 300 complaints per day and the petitioners have to visit the office of the Commission in Sector 34 here to enquire about the status of their complaints. Sources said to make the Commission more friendly and accessible, it was decided to launch an exclusive website for the Commission. It is being claimed that after the National Human Rights Commission, the PSHRC would be the first State Human Rights Commission in the country to have its own website.

The development of the website is on in full swing. However, sources said that it would take another month or two before the PSHRC's website could actually be available on the internet. It is learnt that the Commission had received about 27,000 complaints in the past five years and 13,000 of those were received in 2002-2003. It has been proposed to make available all the previous complaints also on the website and the computer section of the Commission is busy compiling the data.

“We have a huge data base which needs to be digitialised" said an official of the Commission, adding “a large part of the data has already been digitalised”. According to him, all the complaints before the Commission filed in the year 2004 have been fed into the system. “We are putting each new complaint on the computers straightway”, claimed the official.

When asked if the proposed website will be bilingual or in English only, the official said: “We will come up with the best website". The conversion of the data in Punjabi, however, seems not in the offing straightaway.

It is also learnt that the a local area network (LAN) has already been set up in the judicial department of the Commission and all the members and officials concerned with the department have access to the data base. Besides, the officials of the Commission have been imparted in-house training of computers.

When contacted, Mr S.K. Verma, DGP, PSHRC, said that Commission's staff was working hard to come out with the best website.


News Analysis
Johl commends sops to farmers
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, January 21
The pro-farmer measures announced by the NDA government on Tuesday are clearly aimed at garnering votes. The sitting up of a national commission for farmers was promised by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on August 15 last. It seems the government was waiting for an opportune time to make a formal announcement.

Reacting to these farm sops, noted agriculture economist S.S. Johl said the measures were a step in the right direction. It was imperative to have a comprehensive analysis of agriculture-related issues, which the commission should be able to do.

About the policy to allow private trade to procure and export wheat and rice directly, Dr Johl had some reservations. He said the existing marketing system, its infrastructure and mechanism that operated in regulated yards and markets should be protected.

The system that had stood the test of time in Punjab and Haryana should not be disturbed or exploited by private trade. Since this system had provided a level-playing field to the producers and consumers for decades, he saw no wisdom in permitting private traders to make individual or village-to-village contacts and contracts using the rural link roads network, built, operated and maintained by the Mandi Board from funds generated by farmers and traders. This could also lead to exploitation of farmers. The existing market system could be finetuned to allow private trade to have its pick.

He also suggested the government should create a market stabilisation fund for further developing mandi infrastructure. There was also need to have a re-look at some existing provisions of the Agricultural Produce Markets Act.

Dr Joginder Singh, Head of the Department of Economics at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana said lowering the rate of interest from 14 per cent to 9 per cent would be of immense relief. “The total annual advances to agriculture are about Rs 6,000 crore. The low rate of interest will mean a decline in interest by about Rs 300 crore.

On the measures to encourage foodgrain exports, he said these would be of help, particularly to surplus states like Punjab. The setting up of krishi vigyan kendras and online call centers for farmers would lead to prosperity.


Rain has come at right time: experts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The moderate to heavy rainfall received in various parts of this region will prove extremely beneficial for various Rabi crops such as wheat, barley, pulses and mustard.

According to information gathered by the TNS, the rain is widespread in the region. Reports of moderate rainfall have come from places like Hisar, Mansa and Sirsa. It has been raining since this morning in the entire Malwa belt, which has gone through a prolonged dry spell, according to reports reaching here. There are also reports of heavy rainfall from certain parts of the region adjacent to the Shivalik range.

The Weather Department had recorded 10 mm of rainfall in Patiala, 11 mm in Ludhiana, 7 mm in Amritsar, 10 mm in Hisar till 5 pm today. The rain was still on in various parts till the filing of this report. Weathermen say the rainfall will continue tomorrow. There will be heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Jammu and Kashmir. The region is expected to experience a chilly weather for a few more days, said a senior official of the Weather Department.

Meanwhile, Dr Ajmer Singh, Director Agriculture Department, and other agriculture experts say the rain has come at an appropriate time for the farming community. With the washing of crops, dust would be removed from leaves and that would enhance the process of photosynthesis in plants, said Dr Ajmer Singh. The growth of plants would be healthy, he added. He said the region had been experiencing a dry spell since November last year.

Around 33.90 lakh hectares of land is under wheat cultivation in Punjab and 77,000 hectares under mustard. Around 26,000 hectares of land is under pulses and barley cultivation each in the state. Dr Ajmer Singh says wheat and other crops are in healthy shape and foggy weather in the past days has not caused any harm to these crops.

Dr Ajmer Singh said Punjab was expecting over 150 lakh tonnes of wheat production this year. Around 2.40 lakh hectares had been sown by using the zero-tilling method, he added.

Most of the area was under PBW-343 variety of wheat. In fact, this variety has become popular all over the northern region.


VB to have three more zones
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 21
In a bid to bring about more transparency in its working and to ensure a greater decentralisation of powers, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau is all set to have three new zones, including one at Jalandhar.

The new zones were likely to start functioning soon as the Vigilance Bureau’s new chief Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam was said to be keen to refurbish the image of the bureau among people and to give it a new look by reaching out at the grassroots level.

Each of the three zones, with two having their headquarters at Chandigarh and one at Jalandhar, will be headed by officers of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Alam, maintained that the Jalandhar zone would include existing ranges at Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Ferozepore, while one of the two new zones, with its headquarters at Chandigarh, would look after the working of the VB’s Patiala and Bathinda ranges. The existing six ranges, currently headed by the officers of the rank of Senior Superintendent of the Police (SSP), have their jurisdiction over almost all districts of the state.

Mr Alam did not point out anything about the proposed third zone. The sources revealed that while one of the two zones at Chandigarh, which was going to be headed by the DIG (Flying squad), would deal with all important and sensitive cases the other, also having its headquarters at Chandigarh and dealing with the Patiala and Bathinda ranges, was likely to be headed by the DIG (Economic Offences).

The step is being taken for better scrutiny of the department’s working at different levels, to ensure more effective investigation and disposal of important cases with the help of proper monitoring and coordination. Moreover, setting up of a zonal office at Jalandhar was outcome of repeated demands of the people of the area”, said Mr Alam.

The bureau has already sent a proposal regarding creation of more zones to the office of the Punjab Chief Secretary for formal approval, maintained the sources.


8 chemists challaned

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab Health Department has challaned eight wholesale chemists of Sangrur district for allegedly doing retail sale. Five of the chemists are at Malerkotla and three at Ahmedgarh, an official spokesman said here today. As many as 500 injections of banned oxytocin were also seized from a chemist of Malerkotla. — TNS


Jeweller cheated of ornaments
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
A man comes to a jewellery shop in the city. Tells the owner that a senior government official wants to see samples of jewellery for his daughter’s marriage. Takes the owner to the District Administrative Complex (DAC) in a car, along with samples of jewellery. He tells the owner to wait in the car and disappears.

This is not a scene from a Bollywood movie, but actually happened with the owner of Maha Laxmi Jewellers, located in the heart of the city, today afternoon when an unidentified elderly man told the owner, Mr Munish Kumar, that he had been sent by a senior government official, who wanted to purchase jewellery for his daughter’s marriage and wanted to see some samples of ornaments.

Not suspecting any mischief, Mr Munish Kumar took out some gold ornaments and went along with the man, who had come in a chauffeur-driven car. Both went to the complex also located in the heart of city. The suspect also told Mr Munish Kumar that he had good rapport with senior civil and police officials in the district.

After reaching the complex, he asked the driver to park the vehicle in the parking slot and asked Mr Munish Kumar to wait in the car.

When he did not come back for a long time, Mr Munish Kumar asked the driver about the name of the man. The driver said he was driving a taxi and the car had been hired by the suspect in Faridkot.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, when contacted, said a case would be registered. He said the driver of the car was being questioned.


3 persons injured in clash at Kharar
Our Correspondent

Jodh Singh and his wife Sukhjit Kaur  Gurpreet Singh, who were injured in a family dispute, under treatment at the Civil Hospital
Jodh Singh and his wife Sukhjit Kaur (left) and Gurpreet Singh, who were injured in a family dispute, under treatment at the Civil Hospital, Kharar, on Wednesday. — Tribune photos by Parvesh Chauhan

Kharar, January 21
Three persons were injured in a clash among relatives following a dispute here yesterday.

Mr Jodh Singh and Mr Gurpreet Singh sustained head injuries and were admitted to the Civil Hospital. Ms Sukhjeet Kaur had an injury on her forehead.

Mr Gurpreet Singh told this correspondent in the hospital today that he had been allegedly injured by a son of Mr Jodh Singh when he went to their house yesterday morning. Narrating the incident he said that Mr Jodh Singh owed more than Rs 1.5 lakh to his father. As such his counsin brother, Mr Jaspal Singh, was sent to the house of Mr Jodh Singh in the evening on January 19 to get back the money. Mr Jaspal Singh came back and told them that instead of returning the money he had been beaten up by family members of Mr Jodh Singh.

Mr Gurpreet Singh further said that yesterday when he along with his uncle, Mr Gurmel Singh, and Mr Jaspal Singh went to the house of Mr Jodh Singh to enquire as to why Mr Jaspal Singh had been beaten up, he ( Gurpreet Singh) was hit with an axe on his head allegedly by Mr Pavitar Singh, a son of Mr Jodh Singh.

Ms Sukhjeet Kaur denied that her family owed any amount to the father of Mr Gurpreet Singh. She said some ancestral land in the town had been sold for Rs 75 lakh and she had a share in that amount. Her brothers, along with their sons, were threatening her not to claim any share from the ancestral property and sign a document in this regard. She has six brothers.

She said one of her brothers, Mr Gurmel Singh, along with her seven nephews, came to her house yesterday morning and hit her husband with an axe on his head. He was then dragged and hit with iron rods. She said that she, too, had been hit with one of the rods.

The police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC in this regard.


Fake currency racket busted

Ferozepore, January 21
With the arrest of two persons the police today claimed to have busted a fake currency racket. The two had computer-printed and sold counterfeit Indian currency work Rs 10 lakh in Punjab and Rajasthan since July last year.

SSP H.S. Chahal said Lakhwinder Singh and Satwinder Singh had been arrested yesterday with Rs 21,500 in counterfeit notes of Rs 100 denomination from Kalawala village. A computer, a scanner and a printer were seized. — UNI


Gas cylinders, cash looted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 21
Robbers yesterday looted 30 gas cylinders and cash from the godown of Punit Gas Agency, Gadiapur, in the Industrial area here. One person, who tried to intervene, was injured.

According to the police, Rajesh Kumar of the Jawala Ji locality, here was assaulted by the assailants for trying to resist their moves. The police has registered a case.


Woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Lalru, January 21
A 22-year-old woman, Sarita, allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from the roof of a hut inside an industrial unit at Gholumajra village, about 5 km from here, this morning.

The police said Sarita was suffering from depression after the death of her newborn boy and had gone lunatic for the past over a week. She took the extreme step this morning when her husband was on duty. Hailing from Bihar, Sarita was living with her husband Narad Rajak in the hut inside Crystal Pipes Ltd. He has been working as a labourer with the industrial unit for the past couple of years.


Bank robbed of Rs 2.22 lakh

Sangrur, January 21
In a broad daylight robbery, three car-borne robbers with muffled faces looted Sangrur Central Cooperative Bank, Chananwal village branch, in Barnala police district today. They decamped with Rs 2.22 lakh at pistolpoint after snapping telephone wires of the bank, police sources said here. — PTI


PTU to introduce 13 courses
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 21
The Punjab Technical University (PTU), in its bid to ensure more employability avenues for students, has decided to start 13 new courses in different streams, including bio-technology and pharmaceutics under its Distance Education Programme.

Talking to reporters here today, the Senior Advisor of the PTU, Dr S.K. Salwan, said courses in pharmaceutics, bio-informatics, bio-technology, automobile engineering and medical electronics would be introduced from the next academic session in June.

He said the new courses approved by the academic council included M.Tech (computer science), M.Tech (Information Technology), M.Pharma (pharmaceutics), M. Pharma (pharmaceutical chemistry), M.Pharma (pharmacognosy), M.Sc (bio-informatics), B.Sc (bio-informatics), B.Sc (bio-technology,) B.Sc (veterinary lab technology), B.Sc (pharma lab), B.Tech (automobile engineering), B.Tech (medical electronics) and B.Tech (electrical & electronics).

“In fact, after detailed discussions with captains of industry about their needs for working professionals, we have decided to introduce these courses. Besides, scores of multinational companies have assured us to conduct campus recruitment for those passing out in these streams,” he said.

“We have also decided to set up a placement cell in the university to liaison with the industry and business establishments for providing proper job opportunities to students under distance education as well as regular streams. The cell will maintain complete computerised details of the passing out students while holding yearly placement “melas” for recruitment of students,” he said, adding that one such state-level placement “mela” would be organised in March for which they had received proposals from several placement agencies and multinational companies.

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