P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Act in time to avoid Talhan-like situation: DIG
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 22
“Look for early warning signals and act for God’s sake to avoid allowing a Talhan-like situation take an ugly turn.” This is not a piece of advice extended by some sage, but, is the result of introspection and a good deal of deep thought given by Mr Dinkar Gupta, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jalandhar Range. He has come out with an exhaustive report about the Talhan problem.

The study deals with factors responsible for the beginning of the problem in the village having a population of about 9,000, its nature, role of various institutions including the police, political parties and the administration, and the lessons learnt from the six-month-long strife, that had shaken the entire state and had led to more caste-based polarisation.

“The biggest and the most important lesson learnt from the problem was that early warning signals of any such problem should not be ignored at any cost and these signals should be received by people who are at the helm of affairs and they should act firmly and fairly,” suggested the report, which not only took police and administration officials to task but also criticised the political leaders, concerned for their “lax” attitude, which, allowed the problem to grow to such proportion. Confronting the general criticism of the act of the police to allow Damdami Taksal members to intervene, the report suggests, Be open. Anybody, having the capability or intention of solving any such problem with wider ramifications should be welcome, of course, with some in-built restraints. Work actively with the people and leaders involved in problem solving and working out a solution.”

Similarly, the initial reluctance of the administration and the police to allow free flow of information to media has virtually been brushed aside through another important lesson extended by Mr Gupta for future, “Share information with people. Hold regular and frequent media briefings. Keep talking. Be fair and transparent.”

Touching upon the roots of the discord in the study, the officer has maintained that huge annual offerings of about Rs 5 crore, a greater part of which was extended by NRIs, presence of all Jat Sikh members on the management panel even as the village had 78 per cent Dalit population and the unwillingness of Jat Sikhs to share power with Dalits even after a court order, for which contempt proceedings were still pending in the court, were a few of the factors responsible for the quagmire, which finally led to the outbreak of caste clashes on January 19, 2003.

Interestingly, the study partly blamed both the police and civil administration for “shying” away from immediate action after clashes, “failure” to make any arrests and shifting the ball in CM’s court rather than doing something concrete to tackle the problem.

The “political vacuum”, the Dalit Action Committee’s “intention” to let the problem fester and its unwillingness to seek a solution, and “entry of outsiders in the committee” have also been cited as factors which not only complicated the problem, but, probably also contributed to spilling of violence to the city after minor altercation at an annual cultural event at Talhan on June 5.

The report has also dealt with anxious moments for top administration and police officials in the aftermath of the Talhan Management Committee’s sudden resolution to hand over the shrine to Damdami Taksal, leading to its virtual siege, which had forced the government to take over control of the shrine in its hands after the imposition of Section 145 of the IPC.


No tinkering with Cabinet
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
The Congress high command today finally decided against any reshuffle or expansion of the Punjab Council of Ministers, thus putting the so-called “package” in the deep-freeze. This was worked out by the high command between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the dissidents, who were led by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Informed sources told TNS from New Delhi tonight that this decision was taken after prolonged discussions.

Taking an overview of the political situation in the state, the high command that had playing “peace-maker” seems to have finally agreed with the assessment of Capt. Amarinder Singh, who reportedly, had impressed upon the party high command that any tinkering with the Council of Ministers at this critical stage would not only send
wrong signals but would also be against the spirit of the 91st Amendment to the Constitution that has put a cap on the number of ministers in a council of ministers, both at the Centre and in the states.

The last date for down-sizing the councils of ministers is July 7, next.

His other argument, sources said, was that since the constitutional amendment was fully supported by the Congress in the Lok Sabha, expansion would go against the party’s interests. And also, at the time of pruning of the council
there would be much
more “bitterness”.

Even reshuffling or restructuring of the present set-up either way would generate more in-house alienation that may lead to estranged relationship among Congress men.

Today’s decision is sure to dishearten the hopefuls among the dissidents, who were being assured of a berth in the council by Ms Bhattal all these past weeks.

Sources also disclosed that Capt Amarinder Singh placed before the high command the financial situation of the state.

There were also apprehension that at this point of time even the Governor may send back any proposals on expansion of the Council of Ministers and may even advice the
government to revise its decisions.

According to political analysts, one clear indication from the anti-climax to the high drama was that if Capt. Amarinder Singh has emerged stronger, there is visible disaffection in the dissidents’ camp.

They had openly revolted against the Chief Minister. Now the message is clear to all: those who do not perform in the Lok Sabha elections will be axed. Today's decision will be politically unpalatable to even Ms Bhattal.


Five declared POs in Daler case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 22
A local court today declared five accused in the human trafficking case registered against pop star Daler Mehndi and his brother Shamsher as proclaimed offenders after they failed to answer repeated warrants issued to them.

The court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate P.S. Dhanoa passed the order after the prosecution declared that the accused were evading summons and were deliberately keeping away from the investigation in the case. The accused are — Surinder Singh, Tejinder Laddi, Gurdial Mama, Harchand Singh, alias Dhian Singh, and Parveen Marwaha. The proceedings to attach the property of the accused will be initiated now besides issuing a alert in their name to ensure they do not leave the country.

Meanwhile, the court has refrained from declaring the wives of Daler and Shamsher — Daljit Kaur, and Balwinder Kaur, as proclaimed offenders in the case. This proceeding has also not been initiated against Rakesh Kaushal, alias Rocky. The prosecution while deposing in the court said both Daljit Kaur and Balwinder Kaur had joined the investigation in the case and were cooperating with the police.

As regards Rocky, the prosecution said the show organiser had sent documents of the notices of motion whereby visas were granted to members of Daler’s troupe. It said Rocky had pleaded that he be given more time to join investigation in the case as his father was in coma. Meanwhile, Bul Bul Mehta, who had surrendered to the police earlier and was in police custody in the case, has been sent to judicial custody today. 


Sidhu’s sureties fail to measure up
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, January 22
The sureties for ousted PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu today failed to match up to the stipulations following which District and Sessions Judge A.N. Jindal put off the hearing of the application for furnishing of bail bonds for tomorrow.

Two paternal aunts of Ravi Sidhu — Narinderpal Kaur and Amarinderpal Kaur — today furnished papers of their property at Sardoolgarh tehsil in Mansa district as sureties to enable Sidhu to fulfil the conditions stipulated by the court. Both the women supplied papers of their land measuring 35.4 kanals and 36 kanals, respectively.

However, upon calculation it was revealed that the price of the pieces of land did not measure up to Rs 5 lakh each which is the surety required in the case. Due to this deficiency, the application was put off today.

Sidhu’s advocate Sahib Singh Dhindsa when questioned on the issue, said the sureties would be presented in court tomorrow. He said the sureties listed old “jamabandis” and the relevant papers could be added to make them applicable in the case.

ROPAR: The former chairman of the PPSC, Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, got a major relief on Thursday when the Special Judge Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, granted him bail in the disproportionate assests case registered against him. He was granted bail against a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of the like amount.

Sidhu was also granted bail in the supplementary challan presented against him by the Punjab vigilance along with four other co-accused in the disproportionate assets case. The said bail was also granted against a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of the like amount.


69,000 hectares wrongly declared forest land
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Thousands of families in 470 villages of four hilly districts of Punjab are finding themselves embroiled in a legal battle as the Department of Forest has wrongfully declared 69,388.90 hectares of their agricultural and habitation land as forest land. Though the department has accepted its mistake, but these families cannot relax till the matter is resolved by the Supreme Court.

The villages fall in the Shivalik belt of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Ropar districts. According to senior officials of the Department of Forest, Punjab, the State of Punjab had submitted affidavits before the Supreme Court in 1996 and 1998 regarding various categories of forest areas in Punjab. It included “list of areas” in the category of ‘Areas closed under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900’ (PLPA 1900). These areas were under the prior ownership and owned by individuals or communities, but the State Forest Department had regulatory control as per the PLPA Act.

The officials said according to these affidavits, 1.67 lakh hectares under the PLPA, 1900 were depicted as ‘ forest areas’ though most of these area was covered under agriculture cultivation or inhabited by the villagers. Interestingly, most of this areas was shown as ‘agriculture and inhabited area’ in the records of the Revenue Department, but the annual administrative reports of the Forest Department were showing them as forest area since decades.

Consequently, the owners of the land in these villages and panchayats now are finding themselves as the violators of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (FCA, 1980). Under the Act, they can no longer construct even small residential buildings, cattle sheds and tubewell houses on their land without obtaining prior approval from the Government of India. They are being challaned by the district forest officers, even for constructing small check dams and irrigation channels in the agricultural fields. Officials admitted that hundreds of persons have been challaned under the Act.

Mr Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests at regional office, here said,” At present, the Forest Act is applicable wherever the land has been once as the forest land by the state government. We have no intimation about the change in the status of land by the state government. Rather, the Forest Department is sending us various reports regarding the violation of the Act. Under Section 3-A of the Act, the violators can be imprisoned for a period upto 15 days.” He added that some of the persons had been asked to pay heavy penalty as well for violating the Act.

Another senior official of the Punjab Forest department said: “We have submitted another affidavit before the Special Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, that 69388.90 hectares of agricultural and residential area had been wrongfully marked as forest land. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has recently informed us that it had no objection to the exclusion of the land from the provision of the Forest Act, subject to the permission of the Supreme Court.” The matter is expected to be resolved soon, he added.


Rs 10 cr increase in tax collection
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 22
Mr I.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, said here today that during the current financial year up to December 31, 2003 there was an increase of Rs 10 crores in the collection of income tax in the Bathinda region as compared to the income tax revenue generated in the previous year.

Mr Nayyar, who presided over the function organised by Income Tax Department in connection with the honouring of highest income tax payers of this region, said while addressing a press conference that a sum of Rs 100 crores was expected to be collected from income tax from its 1.5 lakhs income tax payers till March 31, 2004. He said that last year total income tax collected was Rs 70 crores.

He pointed out that Rs 7 crores to Rs 8 crores which were due from a number of business establishments were disputed as these firms had entered into litigation. About three business establishments, which were to pay crores of rupees to the department as income tax, had gone into liquidation proceedings came to an end.

He said that field staff had been directed to hold meetings with the traders organisations so that the traders could be motivated to pay their due tax honestly to evade any action by the department. This exercise would yield better results.

He said that department had decided to honour the highest tax payers in its bid to motivate the other citizens for paying their due tax. Such function would also help in breaking the barrier between the tax collecting officials and the tax payers. It was prime duty of all the people to pay their due tax honestly within time.

Earlier, Mr Nayyar honoured Mr Chanchal Kumar, an employee of Gujarat Ambuja cement company, Mr Suman Kumar Chawla, an advocate of Malout and Mr Ashwani Chamb, a cotton trader of Fazilka, for paying the highest tax in salary, profession and business categories, respectively during 1999-2000.

A large number of businessmen, professionals, employees and district civil and police officials attended the function.


Pak MPs return via Wagah post
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
Eleven Pakistan senators and MPs returned to their country via the Indo-Pakistan checkpost at Wagah here today.

The delegation arrived here in the city after attending the world Social Forum in Mumbai.

The delegation while talking to mediapersons said they met president Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and urged him to relax visa restrictions between the two countries.

Mr Chand Manzoor, an MP from Kasur (Pakistan), said they had requested for an increase in the diplomatic strength in both embassies to facilitate faster processing of visa formalities.

They also urged the President to ease passage of women, children and artistes. They said they were impressed with the formidable proposal at the world forum of the inception of an international parliament representing all countries.


Akali Dal to form committees
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 22
As many as 20 committees comprising experts from different areas and fields will be constituted by the Akali Dal headed by former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Ravi Inder Singh to evolve new political and administrative system by replacing the existing systems.

Disclosing this in a press note issued here today, Mr Gurdip Singh, General Secretary, Akali Dal, said the party had taken this step as it was felt that in order to deliver the goods to commoners it was necessary to change the fundamentals of existing political and administrative systems.

Cash committee would have 21 members and it would be headed by members of working committee of Akali Dal, who would be appointed chairmen of these committees.

He added that so far a Kisan Committee headed by Mr Darshan Singh Mand, Transport Committee headed by Mr Toga Singh, Trader Cell Committee headed by Mr Hem Raj Mittal, former chairman, Punjab Subordinate Service Selection Board (PSSSB) and Law Committee headed by Mr Bhupinder Singh Dhillon had been set up.

He said that as both the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance had failed to serve to people, the Akali Dal headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh had constituted a committee headed by Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, former minister, to hold talks with other parties of the state and India for the formation of Third Front. He said that Akali Dal would contest the next Lok Sabha elections.


Gallantry awards presented
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 22
At an impressive investiture ceremony held here yesterday, 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 sent 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.

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.


Nanakshahi calendar released
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
In a significant development, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, was present when the new Nanakshahi calendar was released by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, giving broad indications of his “mute acceptance” to the controversial ‘jantri’ here today.

Giani Puran Singh was sacked as Jathedar, Akal Takht, during the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur for opposing the Nanakshahi calendar. However, Giani Puran Singh left for his residence before the distribution of the copies of the calendar. When press correspondents followed him to get his views whether he had given his acceptance to the calendar he refused to talk on this issue.

Though the Nanakshahi calendar was approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht last year, yet Giani Puran Singh had not given his approval so far, thereby throwing open challenge to the authority of the Sikh clergy. Giani Puran Singh had been deliberately absented himself from the meetings of Akal Takht though it was mandatory for the Head Granthi, Akal Takht, to participate as per Sikh ‘maryada’.

The first copy of the calendar was presented to Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, former General Secretary of the SGPC. However, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, said the presence of Giani Puran Singh in the ceremony, when the calendar was released, was enough to show that he had accepted the ‘jantri’ (calendar). Mr Calcutta hoped that Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib would also implement the Nanakshahi calendar in the near future. Mr Calcutta said the 11-member committee which had finalised the calendar was not yet disbanded and hence the SGPC was open to any relevant amendment in the calendar.


Engineer denies misappropriation of funds
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 22
The PWD Field and Workshop Union (Punjab), Bathinda Zone has alleged that Mr M.L. Bansal, Executive Engineer, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB), Bathinda, had indulged in irregularities in the use of funds spent on AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi’s visit to the town on January 15. The union urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to conduct a probe in the case.

Mr Sukhminder Singh Dhaliwal, president of the union, in a press note issued here today, alleged that apart from misappropriating the funds, Mr Bansal had also served bottled mineral water to those who attended the function organised in connection with the inauguration of a water treatment plant in the city by Ms Gandhi on the same day.

He alleged that substandard bleaching powder was being purchased for the water treatment plant while bills for good quality bleaching powder had been entered in the official records.

He said Mr Bansal had transferred some employees of the department without following proper procedure and policy. The union had been carrying out a continuous agitation against this action of Mr Bansal.

Mr Bansal, when contacted, however, denied the allegations and pointed out that the union had been indulging in mudslinging to put pressure on him to shift beldar (labourer) employees to his office. He added that bleaching powder for the plant was being purchased by the central purchase organisation of PWSSB and the bleaching powder being supplied to the local office was of good quality as it had been found for use during inspection.

He said bottled mineral water was served at the inauguration of the water treatment plant, as the security agencies did not allow the use of other water on that occasion. He said only a few thousand rupees had been spent on that function. Only two stones and a model of the water treatment plant had been prepared and one cup of tea and water was served to the guests, who attended the function.


Villagers protest against police functioning
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 22
Residents of over eight villages staged a dharna in front of the Sadar police station here today in protest against the police dropping the name of an accused from the list of those involved in a murder case in Hauz Khas village.

The agitating villagers protested against the functioning of the police and raised slogans. They said that on November 2, 2003, there was a clash between two rival factions on the construction of a wall. Chiman Singh, a member of one of the groups, was allegedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons by eight persons. The Roranwali police in the subdivision registered an FIR against the eight accused.

The villagers alleged the police arrested seven out of eight accused but declared one accused, Bachan Singh, innocent due to political pressure.

The villagers said that they urged the police many times to book Bachan Singh also as well however, it did not accept their demand. The agitation village included residents of Hauz Khas, Chack Pakhi, Lamochar Kalan, Chhapriwala, Sukhera Bodla, Fatuwala, Khurd and Lakhe Karahian villages.

SHO of the Sadar police station, Fazilka, Jaswinder Singh Chahal said Bachan Singh was discharged from the case as he was found to be innocent.


Economic reasons led to ’47 killings: poet
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
The recent research on the Partition of the country has revealed that the basic reason for the mass killings of Hindu and Sikhs in Muslim-dominated areas was economic rather than communal.

This was revealed by Ahmad Saleem, a noted Punjabi poet from Pakistan, who had interviewed a number of Muslims who had engineered violence at the time of the partition.

Saleem had come here to participate in the valedictory session of the refresher course conducted by Academic Staff College of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Saleem is one of the rare Punjabi poets of Pakistan who was arrested for condemning military action which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Dr S.K. Bhatia, Director, Academic Staff College, Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, Head, Punjabi, Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, coordinator, Dr Gurupdesh Singh and Dr Dharm Singh, a senior professor of Punjabi Department were present at the valedictory session.


Urdu poets all the way
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, January 22
It took 10 long years to renew the connection but the tireless efforts of poetry lovers of the region did make possible the resumption of the Indo-Pak mushaira which was held in the city last night after a whole decade. Organised by the Mehak Cultural Forum, a body devoted to the cause of arts , the mushaira was the first to be held this side of the border following the thaw in Indo-Pak relations.

Urdu poetry has of late witnessed a heady revival following the emergence of poets who have redefined modern Urdu ‘shairi’ and some of these luminaries set the ‘mehfil’ afire yesterday at the Central Library auditorium which remained jam packed till the event winded up well near midnight. As many as 16 eminent poets, including three Padma Shrees and four Pakistani poets, regaled the audience.

Veteran shayar Saagar Khayyami whose forte remains humour and satire had the audience in splits with his digs at the new generation versus the old and ‘mohabbat’ in old age. One aimed at pestering shopkeepers went like this: “Mere paas sab kuch hai, kya lijiyega?” and in order to quieten him the poet says: “Kute ke khaane ka cake hai kya? ( Do you have cakes meant for dogs?) The shopkeeper replies: “Haan hai, yahi pe khaoge ke le ke jaoge?”

One of the forerunners of the Haryana Urdu Akademi Shamz Tabrezi, who is known for a cutting edge to his poetry, was his usual blunt self as he recited a well-received couplet: “Jo meri baat ka tuj ko asar gaya hota, khuda gavah hai chehra utar gaya hota”. On the decline of the Urdu language and the inordinate delay in the formation of the Punjab Urdu Akademi in the place of its origin, Punjab, he had this to say: “Jis ko apne watan main ghar na mila, ek woh Urdu zabaan hi hai bhai”.

Poetess Dr Naseem Nikhat from Lucknow who is also famous for her revolutionary verse which strikes out fearlessly at repression won over the audience with her subtle yet crisp verse. A couplet which reflected the helplessness of minorities who usually suffer atrocities in silence went like this: “Chhote se jugnu ki khatir suraj se takraye kaun?” Hum toote Bikhare logo ke ghar ki aag bujhaye kaun?” (there is none to take up the Jugnu’s cause against the might of the sun).

The atmosphere, however, became supremely charged after Padma Shree Dr Bashir Badr took over the stage. The man who is revered by poetry lovers as the ‘aabroo’ of Urdu verse cast a spell on the listeners by his quaint elegiac jugglery. One of the couplet of the poet who has come to epitomise ‘nazaaqat’ (elegance) in ghazal composition which had people begging for an encore was: “Kabhi yun bhi aa meri aankh mein, ke meri nazar to khabar na ho, Mujhe ek raat nawaaz de, magar uske baad sahar na ho”.

Renowned poet Padma Shree Sardar Anjum is among the few versatile poets around whose verse is sought after by almost every singer in the country. Known for the topicality and sharpness of his verse, the poet caught the mood of the audience with his couplet on the recent warmth between India and Pakistan: “Isko nafrat ke andheron se bachaye rakhna, Abke ye pyaar ki saugat bahut achhi hai, Lagta hai Iska anjaam bhi anjum bahut achha hoga, kam se kam ab ke shuruaat bahut achhi hai”.

The last and the seniormost ‘shayar’ of the mushaira Padma Shree Bekal Utsahi whose name has long been synonymous with Urdu poetry was true to his usual classic style. Patron of the ‘Geet’ genre since long he sent the audience into raptures through subtle verse loaded with meaning. He began with some ‘channd’ addressed to the Pakistani poets: “Tum meri mitti ki khushboo, sada raho khush haal, Saason ke kaaleen bichha kar karoon main istakbaal”. Others who graced the mushaira with their verse were Dr Nashir Naqvi, Arifa Shabnam, Fayyaz Farooqi, K.K. Bhatnagar and Dr Naresh.


Indian, Pak poets should interact
more: Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 22
Punjab Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh has called for promoting closer interaction between poets of both India and Pakistan at the Indo-Pak mushaira organised by the Mehak Cultural Forum at the Central State Library in the city last night.

Speaking on the occasion, he said it was unfortunate that an interaction between poets of both countries was taking place after 10 years in the city.

He said the Punjab Government would use its offices to ensure further interaction between poets and intellectuals of both countries.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh also honoured Pakistani and Indian poets who had come to participate in the mushaira. The cultural forum’s organising secretary, Dr Naresh Raj, gave a detailed account of the past activities of the forum, besides stressing the need for more artistic activity in the city.

The function was supported by the district administration which helped in arranging the stay of the poets, besides hosting a dinner in their honour at the Old Moti Bagh Palace, which is presently the National Institute of Sports.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the administration wanted to showcase the historical buildings in the city, adding that the function at the Moti Bagh Palace was a step in this direction. He said functions would also be held at the palace during the Heritage Festival in the city next month.


DC recommends suspension of Welfare Officer
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 22
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, has recommended the suspension of the Tehsil Welfare Officer, Ms Gian Kaur, for allegedly recommending the names of “ineligible” candidates for sanctioning Rs 20,000 to construct pucca houses under a scheme for Scheduled Castes. The Deputy Commissioner suspected foul play as some of them already had pucca houses.

Talking to The Tribune, the Deputy Commissioner said he had a complaint that the Tehsil Welfare Officer had recommended the names of only those who had allegedly paid her bribe between Rs 3000 and 5000.

He said he had secretly got an inquiry conducted and some interesting facts had come to light.

He said in more than 12 cases it had been found that the beneficiaries already had pucca houses. In some cases, some persons had already taken the benefit of he scheme twice.

He said the District Welfare Officer during the inquiry had said the Tehsil Welfare Officer had not sought his approval before recommending the names of the beneficiaries but send it directly to the SDM.


Parking lot inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 22
Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, the state Minister for Grievances, Transport and Cooperation, today inaugurated a parking lot and a fountain built at a cost of Rs 5 lakh in the old Anaj Mandi of the town.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharma said the Punjab Government had sanctioned Rs 5 crore for the Ropar bypass project.

A new tractor worth Rs 3 lakh was presented to the Ropar Municipal Council. The tractor was procured by the grant provided by the local MP, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said a master plan was being prepared for proper development of the town.


High Court
Notice issued in disappearance case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Taking up a petition seeking directions for producing Harmanpreet Singh Randhawa — relative of a senior Punjab police officer — a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

In his petition taken up by Mr Justice Jasbir Singh of the High Court, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) activist Kirpal Singh had claimed that the alleged victim, staying with the police officer at Chandigarh, had learnt about the involvement of the cop in some offences.

Giving details, the petitioner asserted that Randhawa, on way to Patiala Central Jail after attending a court hearing in Chandigarh on January 7, had disappeared. Expressing apprehension about his safety, the petitioner added that Randhawa may have been killed.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner, claiming to be a witness in “Khalra disappearance case”, had stated that he had met Randhawa while the alleged victim was in jail after being implicated in a false case.


A warrant officer appointed by the High Court has recovered a Ludhiana resident, allegedly detained by the police, from a place near Moga. His wife Asha Rani had earlier alleged demand of money for release of her husband.

She had claimed that police authorities were demanding Rs 1 lakh for the release of her husband. Arguing before the court, Mr Navkiran Singh had asserted on her behalf that the petitioner was, in fact, receiving calls on her mobile for handing over money. Taking up the petition, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the High Court on Thursday appointed the officer.

Sportsman’s case

The High Court on Thursday issued notice of motion on a petition accusing a Station House Officer (SHO) of 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, weightlifter Musa Khan had earlier claimed that he was acquitted in all 14 cases registered against him during his college days.

Describing himself as a sportsman, the petitioner had claimed that he had stood first in the national weightlifting championship. He had 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.

The action, he had stated, amounted to interference in his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Encounter case

Taking up a petition filed by a Mohali resident alleging the elimination of his son in an encounter after being picked up by the police, the High Court on Thursday directed the petitioner to approach the Special Judge.

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 CBI, after probing the incident, had 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.


SDM orders probe into adoption of abandoned baby
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 22
The SDM here today ordered an inquiry into the alleged adoption of a three-day-old infant found abandoned on the Kharar-Ludhiana road.

The baby girl was found lying in bushes, along the road, yesterday morning and was reported to have been “adopted” by a childless couple, Rajwati and Aalam, living in a slum in Phase I at Mohali.

The SDM, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Gill, directed the DSP in writing to determine under whose authority the couple had “adopted” the infant and whether they had taken away the baby in accordance with the law. He also sought a report on the matter.


Two shops burgled
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 22
Two shops in the Bela crossing area were burgled last night. The owners of the shops said cellphones worth about Rs 3.5 stolen from one shop while cassette and CDs worth Rs 40,000 were stolen from the other.


Don for strengthening national integration
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 22
On the fourth day of the first All-India National Integration Camp being hosted by Punjabi University, Maulana Fuzail -ur- Rehman Hilal Usmani, Mufti-e-Azam of Malerkotla, delivered a thought-provoking lecture on “Minorities and national integration,” here today.

Dr Mohammad Iqbal, Head of the Urdu and Persian Department, Nawab Sher Khan Institute of Advanced Studies, Malerkotla, highlighted the need to adopt in personal life whatever the youth learn from such camps. He added that national integration should not remain confined to seminars and conferences alone. He appealed to the youth not to be misguided by religious fundamentalists rather work collectively for a stronger Indian society.

Dr S.S. Joshi, a former Professor of Linguistics, spoke about linguistic, tribal, religion and caste groups that call themselves minorities.

Besides this, in the academic session panel discussions on “Women empowerment” and “Violence — no solution to any problem” were also organised.

Earlier, an exhibition on “AIDS awareness campaign” was inaugurated by the Deputy General Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Mr N.S. Deshpande. The Registrar, Punjabi University, Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, and the Dean Students, Dr S.S. Khehra, were also present, among others.


Career conference on various courses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 22
To impart information about various courses, training facilities and job opportunities, the office of the Deputy Director Employment organised a career conference at Government College, Dera Bassi here today. Mrs Surjit Kaur, Deputy Director, Patiala division, presided over the function.

As many as 500 students and teachers of the college attended the conference. Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Surjit Kaur laid stress upon career planning and its importance. She called upon the students to choose their career at 10+2 level.

The District Employment Officer, Mr A.B. Aggarwal, delivered a lecture on various courses available after 10+2 and graduation. The Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare, Lieut-Col Surmukh Singh, explained various avenues in defence forces while Mr Iqbal Singh, Employment Officer, imparted information regarding different self-employment schemes started by the government. In the end, the Principal of the college, Mrs Shakuntla, presented a vote of thanks.


Meeta of Punjabi varsity excels in
declamation contest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 22
The Computer Science Department of Punjabi University won the trophy in the TN Bhatnagar Memorial Inter-College Declamation Contest organised by the Rotary Club at Bhasha Bhavan here today.

Meeta, a student of the Computer Science Department of Punjabi University, Amandeep Kaur of Modi College and Navendu Dhir of Computer Science Department of Punjabi University got the first, second and third positions, respectively.

Besides, Ratisha and Kirandeep Kaur of Mohindra College here won consolation prizes. Priya of Mohindra College was awarded a special prize.

Speaking on the occasion, the Director of the State Language Department, Mr Madan Lal Hasija, said such contests provided an opportunity to the youth to express their views about various issues.

Dr Tejinder Kaur from the English Department of Punjabi University, Dr G.S. Rahi of the Punjabi Department and Dr Yogendra Bakshi, a former Head of the Hindi Department of Mohindra College here were the judges on the occasion.


Youth festival postponed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 22
The Annual Inter-Zonal Youth Festival of Punjabi University which was scheduled to be held from January 27 to 30 has been postponed as the National Inter-Varsity Youth Festival is being held at Gwalior from February 4.

Director, Youth Welfare, Punjabi University, Sunita Dhir said now the festival would be held at university campus from February 24.

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