P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



IGP Mustafa being sent to Centre
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today made clear that he had a strong dislike for senior officers hobnobbing with politicians and said that such officers would not be allowed to serve in the state.

The Chief Minister said that because of this reason, the name of Mohamad Mustafa, a senior police officer of the rank of Inspector-General of Police ( IGP), and husband of dissident MLA, Razia Sultan, had been sent for Central deputation on his recommendation almost a week ago.

Talking to this correspondent late in the evening, the Chief Minister said that he had asked the Principal Secretary (Home), Mr Sanjit Sinha, that his name should be forwarded for the deputation to the Centre.

Capt Amarinder said that Mr Mustafa had been bad mouthing his government at weddings, social get-togethers, besides participating in active politics along with his wife, Razia Sultan, an MLA from Malerkotla. As an officer in uniform and a public servant, the rules do not permit him to play politics, he stressed. The Chief Minister had the information that Mr Mustafa had been playing active role in coordinating the activities and meetings of the dissident Congress MLAs, who had raised a banner of revolt against the Chief Minister a few weeks ago.

The Chief Minister said here was evidence in hand to prove that the officer caused a loss of Rs 95.34 lakh to the state exchequer during his tenure as the Managing Director of the Punjab State Electronics Development Corporation (PSEDC) and since the preliminary investigations find him guilty he would not be spared.


Punjab to contest Eradi panel’s jurisdiction
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
After a lengthy session here late this evening over the notice issued by the Eradi Commission, the Punjab Government has decided to challenge the jurisdiction of the Commission to hear the river waters dispute between Punjab and Haryana. The state government at a meeting finalised its legal strategy to be adopted while presenting the State’s case before the Commission Delhi on January 31.

The Commission has asked the Punjab Government authorities concerned to appear before it at 3 pm on that day. Sources said that at today’s meeting, which was presided over by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the state Advocate General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, briefed about the legal aspects of the case. Among others who attended the meeting were Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Irrigation, and Mr S.K. Sinha, Home Secretary.

While challenging the Jurisdiction of the Commission, the state government would argue that in the past 17 years, a lot of factual changes had taken place with regard to the river waters dispute . The quantum of water in the rivers has come down from 17.17 maf to 14. 2 maf in the past few years. While giving its interim decision in January 1987, the Commission had allocated 3.83 maf share from river waters from the total 17.17 maf of water that was tabulated for distribution among the partner states involved in the dispute. Punjab was given 5 maf of water.

Sources said the state government would use the data collected and tabulated by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) regarding the reduction of quantum of water in the river waters. The BBMB keeps a regular watch on the flow of water in these rivers. The BBMB is an official body of the Union Government and the Commission could not refuse to take note of such a data, said a senior officer of the Punjab Government.

In 1987 questions were raised about the 17.17 maf water figure. Questioning this figure, river water experts had stated that earlier figure was 15.85 maf and was tabulated in 1955. The flow increased in Beas and Ravi rivers from the 1955 figure to 17.17 maf Water experts called it a magic figure invented to deal with the dispute.

The state’s legal experts would tell the commission that as “ facts” regarding river waters have changed, there was no logic to reopen the 17-year-old case. Hence, a new Commission should be appointed which should hear the case from the start in the light of the change in the facts and other aspects of the case.

The state would also argue that Haryana has started getting more water from Yamuna river through the Sharda link. Though the Yamuna used to fall in the basin of undivided Punjab, but the State has been denied share from it for unknown reasons.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the Union Government should disband the Eradi Commission and a new commission should be set up to take up the case afresh. Capt Amarinder Singh, who discussed the issue with his Cabinet colleagues, said that the Commission did nothing in the past 17 years. “ I have discussed the issue with Union Law Ministry and others concerned. The state government was fully prepared to defend its legal position on river waters,” said the Chief Minister.

On the other hand, the Haryana Government seems to be happy over the reopening of the case by the Commission. It wanted that the Commission should get notified its earlier decision soon and should press for its implementation. However, Haryana has not got any notice from the Commission yet, it is learnt.


Punjab Cabinet divided over 85th amendment
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
The Punjab Council of Ministers seems vertically divided over the implementation of the 85th amendment to the Constitution with regard to reservation and other facilities to Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates.

While the SC and ST members of the Council were for immediate implementation of the amendment, those belonging to the general category opposed it strongly, maintaining that it would lead to social tensions and several complexities, which would affect the chances of the party in the coming Lok sabha elections. Though the item was not on regular agenda, it was taken up as a special item.

Those opposed to the implementation of the amendment quoted the case of neighbouring Haryana where this amendment is yet to be introduced. Those against it said that if the 85th amendment was “so important”, then the recommendations of the Mandal Commission should also be enforced in the state.

According to sources, certain ministers even referred to the distribution of letters and memoranda by members of the General Category Employees Federation among members of the Council of Ministers, requesting that no decision be taken till the apex court gave its verdict on the issue.

“Since the case is pending before the Supreme Court, the government should not take any decision in haste to repent later,” remarked some of the ministers belonging to the general category. They also held that it was not mandatory for the government to abide by the amendment.

The SC/ST members of the council, however, strongly supported the immediate enforcement of the order that stem from the amendment so that employees belonging to the reserved categories get their due in service.

The Chief Ministers asked all members of the Council to give their views. The Council later resolved to authorise the Chief Minister to take the final decision.


Badal points finger at jail authorities
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 28
Former Chief Minister and President, SAD Parkash Singh Badal while accusing the security agencies of Burail Jail, Chandigarh, of negligence has claimed that the escape of three alleged assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh had instilled fear in the minds of people of the state.

Mr Badal, who was here to preside over a convocation of Mata Sahib Kaur Girls College, while addressing a press conference said the escape from the high-security jail was a big security lapse and it should be taken seriously by the agencies concerned.

He said facts pertaining to the mode of escape by the accused would come to light only after the investigation was over. But, he said, it was clear that the escape became possible due to negligence on part of jail authorities. It had also put a big question mark on the security arrangements at the jail, he added.

“Such incidents send bad signals among law abiding citizens of Punjab, who have already suffered on account of decade-long terrorism. The agencies concerned should do the needful to instill confidence and sense of security in people,” pointed out Mr Badal.

He said the agencies concerned should carry out a thorough probe into the incident and punish the guilty. Besides, arrangements at other jails should be made foolproof to prevent recurrence of such incidents.


Bhattal seeks judicial probe into jailbreak case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 28
The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, demanded a judicial probe into the Burail jailbreak case and alleged that the BJP-led Union Government had ignored the warning signals about the escape of alleged assassins of Beant Singh.

“Despite red alert, no breakthrough has been achieved,” said Mrs Bhattal while talking to reporters outside the District Court Complex here today after the alleged case of corruption against her was adjourned till February 5. The case was adjourned as the Special Judge, Mr R.S. Baswana, was on leave.


CBI probe

IN less than a week after three accused in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case tunneled their way out of Burail Jail, President of an Ambala-based organisation on Wednesday moved the high court seeking probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Quoting newspaper reports, National President of Anti-Terrorist Front of India Viresh Shandilya contended that digging could not have been done “without knowledge, connivance and help of people who were responsible for keeping them in jail”.

Claiming that the entire society was shocked by the incident, he added that the escape of hardcore terrorists from high security jail equipped with cameras and manned by jail police showed that there was complete failure of the security system. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on Thursday.

It may be recalled that two more petitions have already been filed in the matter. In one such petition, key witness Balwinder Singh has sought directions for fortifying the security cover.

In the other, MP Simranjit Singh Mann claimed that senior jail officials had been wrongly arrested.


SP’s report exposes chinks in Central Jail security
Varinder Singh and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, January 28
A five-page report of SP (City-II) Harmanbir Singh Gill has brought to light chinks in the security of the Central Jail here. The report has apprehended that any untoward incident can happen if “tainted” jail officials are not transferred immediately. The report alleged that a conspiracy was hatched in the jail to kill the seven suspects in the murder case of former Akali leader Gurdial Singh. This was in alleged connivance with certain jail officials and smuggler, Lakhbir Singh Lakha.

Mr Gill’s report further pointed out that a mobile phone was seized from Lakha. The records of the phone corroborated the allegations that he was in constant touch with ‘opponents’ of the deceased Akali leader. Mr Kultar Singh, district police chief, has confirmed that he had received the report but refused to divulge any detail.

Gurdial Singh was killed along with five others on May 19, 2002 at Bhikhiwind.

The report reportedly pointed out that Mr Naunihal Singh, brother of the deceased Akali leader, was allegedly in touch with Lakha and was hatching a conspiracy to kill the assassins. The report further alleged that there was danger to the lives of all seven who were facing murder charges. Those arrested on charges of killing Gurdial Singh and Bakshish Singh, Major Singh, Jasbir Singh, Dalbir Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Inderjit Singh and Devinder Singh.

However, Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a senior leader, described the report as ‘biased’.

However, Mr Naunihal Singh refuted the charges. He, however, admitted that he had once met Lakhi in jail in connection with some land dispute. According to the report, it is easy to smuggle “prohibited items” in to the jail. He said the register five, which records the punishments given to inmates of jails, was found to be in a bad shape. Its folio was also not being maintained. Once of the pages of the register was found to be torn and cuttings were made on entries.

When asked, the jail authorities failed to give a satisfactory reply in this regard.

The SP has recommended departmental inquiry against certain jail officials who were party to the said ‘conspiracy’. He said groupism among the jail staff had vitiated the atmosphere of the high security jail.


Barnala wants Punjab to follow AP model
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, January 28
Less than a week after three accused in Punjab’s former Chief Minister’s assassination case escaped from Burail jail, Governor of Andhra Pradesh Surjit Singh Barnala today described the act as shameful. Claiming that information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry were moving on “fast tracks” in Andhra Pradesh, he added that Punjab should follow the example for development in these sectors.

The Governor added that the Naxalite movement would die like terrorism in Punjab without the support of the masses. He, however, refused to comment on early elections, Bihar, as well as the Akali issue. Mr Barnala, clad in a blue suit with matching turban, added that he was in the city not as an Akali, but as Governor.

“Talking to The Tribune soon after the conclusion of the function, Mr Barnala said the accused in the assassination case should not have escaped from the jail”, he claimed.

The Governor added that Punjab had high potential for development in information technology and other sectors as the percentage of educated people was much higher compared to Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Barnala stated that emphasis was on industrialisation and infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh. “Family planning has already been a success in the state,” he added.

He was here for delivering a lecture at a function organised by the Servants of the People Society for commemorating 140th birth anniversary of “Sher-e-Punjab” Lala Lajpat Rai.

Regarding the Bihar issue, the Governor asserted that he delivered a speech in the state in connection with Republic Day celebrations, but refrained himself from passing remarks that were unpalatable to anybody, even the Chief Minister. “Actually, I can comment on my own actions, but not on statements made by others. I believe in remaining within the constitutional framework,” he asserted.

About terrorism, he stated that it was not easy to get rid of 50-year-old movement by the Naxalites. But people were now slowly disassociating themselves from the movement. “Isolation is the only solution,” he said. “Terrorism dies when people isolate themselves. It happened in Punjab. It will happen in other parts of the country also”.

Even though he did not say anything about the elections, Mr Barnala lamented the fact that literates were not coming forward to exercise their franchise. “If educated people cast their votes, right persons will come to power”, he said.


World Punjabi Conference
Capt repeats history in Lahore tomorrow

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 28
When the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, attends the World Punjabi Conference at Lahore on January 30, he will repeat history after about 60 years. In 1945, his father, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, had attended the conference as a special invitee. That probably explains his insistence in getting permission to attend the conference to the extent of approaching the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The fourth World Punjabi Conference was held at Hotel Faletti’s on October 14, 1945, under the shadow of World War II. Interestingly, this time also the conference is being held at Hotel Faletti’s only. No invitation cards had been printed at that time and the conference had been hurriedly organised. However, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh was sent a special invitation which read, “Lt Col His Highness Shri Yadavindra Singh, Maharajadhiraj Mahendar Bahadur, G.B.E, Ruler of Patiala”. The invitation had been sent by S.P. Singha, the then MLA and president of the All-India Panjabi Association.

According to Mr Gurdish Singh Grewal, an advocate and human rights activist, his father Mr Sampuran Singh was also one of the organisers of the conference. Mr Grewal has so far preserved the invitation card with all details. He said at that time Maharaja Yadavindra’s presence was much cherished since he was the ruler of Patiala and was held in high esteem by all Punjabis.

Prominent people who attended the conference at that time included Khizr Hyat Khan (Tiwana), the then Prime Minister of Punjab, eminent journalist Khushwant Singh, Joginder Singh Mann, father of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Baldev Singh, who was the Development Minister, Punjab, at that time and later became the Defence Minister of free India. Besides, top businessmen, lawyers and academics belonging to different communities attended the conference. Mr Khushwant Singh was practising law at Lahore at that time and was also a visiting professor at Government College, Lahore.

Mr Grewal said, Faletti’s was the only five-star hotel at that time in Lahore. In fact, it is still one of the leading hotels in the city.


Martyrs’ kin await relief
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
With the Punjab War Heroes Family Relief Fund virtually depleted, the dependents of hundreds of martyrs are awaiting monetary relief.

The Directorate of Sainik Welfare has so far identified about 275 cases where the grant of Rs 5 lakh each in lieu of land is pending.

The directorate has sought at least Rs 16 crore to clear the backlog. All cases relate to the Kargil conflict and subsequent casualties during the ongoing counter-insurgency operations.

The depletion of the fund comes at a time when the department is struggling to find money to execute other welfare schemes for ex-servicemen. It is reportedly short of Rs 37 lakh this year and requires Rs 7 crore to boost its corpus to Rs 12 crore it can generate sufficient income from interest.

Punjab pays an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh to next of kin of a soldier killed in action. In addition, it pays Rs 5 lakh as compensation in lieu of land and, in some cases, another Rs 2 lakh where the economic condition of the affected family is not good. Government officials said the government is paying the ex-gratia but not other grants. The ex-gratia is paid from the state government budget while other grants are paid from the war heroes relief fund.


Mangal Dhillon’s tribute to Sikhism
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 28
The producer-director of the documentaries “Khalsa” and “Parkash tou Parkash Tak (A day at Golden Temple)” Mangal Dhillon, has lined up three historical films on Sikhism to be released this year.

Talking to newspersons while shooting “American Tribute to Sikhism,” based on the life of American converts to Sikhism, Dhillon said he had the desire to present “authentic” Sikh history through films to project a “correct” perspective on Sikhism for the people at large.

Dhillon, who has written the script and has managed to fund the project from his own resources, said that no filmmaker in the past had been able to present the uniqueness of this religion.

He had tried to tell the world how Harbhajan Singh Yogi, at present based in New Mexico (USA), had managed to influence a large number of Americans to adopt Sikhism.

He said a number of such young American Sikh students were studying at the Miri-Piri Academy here to learn about the various aspects of Sikhism.

He was impressed by these young Americans who recited kirtan.

Dhillon said he had shot several parts of the movie in the USA, Canada and the UK.

Talking about his second documentary film to commemorate the 400th year of Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib, Dhillon said the shooting of this film had already started.

He said the film would depict the beautiful aspects of the Bani, raags, Guru Gaddi, etc. He said it would cost Rs 12 lakh and would be released in a couple of months.

Dhillon has embarked upon a major film project, “Saka Sirhind,” based on the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons, at a cost of Rs 1.25 crore.

He expressed his gratitude to the SGPC for its support and cooperation in the shooting of the film in the Golden Temple complex and other historical gurdwaras.

Dhillon said a large number of NRI friends and well-wishers had offered him funds for these documentaries.


Badal snubs Barnala group
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 28
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal today reacted sharply to the Surjit Singh Barnala group’s statement that Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa should be shifted to the Patiala parliamentary constituency in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as the Union Minister’s Assembly constituency was part of the Patiala seat.

Talking to TNS at a rally organised as part of the anti-repression programme of the party, Mr Badal said party leaders should not convey their demands to the Press and instead approach him. “Tell me, don’t give such statements”, he added. Mr Dhindsa, who also attended the rally, when asked whether he was ready to contest from Patiala, said he had already started work in Sangrur. He said it was up to the party high command to take a decision regarding the issue. Earlier, Mr Baldev Singh Mann, after a meeting of supporters and family members of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala at Dirba in Sangrur, had demanded that Mr Dhindsa be asked to contest from Patiala.

Rajya Sabha MP Sukhbir Singh Badal said the SAD would make corruption an issue in the poll. He said the “corruption” indulged in by Mr Raninder Singh, son of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, would be highlighted in the elections. He demanded a CBI inquiry into the issue. Mr Sukhbir Badal criticised the Chief Minister on the occasion. He said people should not have faith in a person who could not find time to visit Patran even once after becoming the Chief Minister.

Former Finance Minister Kanwaljt Singh said unemployment had become a major issue in the state, with more than 30 lakh youth without jobs. He said the Congress government had complicated matters by imposing a ban on government jobs and not creating jobs in the industrial field. Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the SAD would seek a mandate from people on the performance of the Congress government during the past two years.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, when asked whether the party was firming up any alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said the party was keen on forming an anti-Congress front, but would not sacrifice its ideology in the process. “Only those who abide by the ideology of Punjabiat will be included in the front”, he added. The Akali leader said talks were on with the Bahujan Samaj Party for an adjustment in the parliamentary elections.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar, Balwinder Singh Bhundur, former MPs Prem Singh Chandumajra and Charanjit Singh Walia, former ministers Harmail Singh Tohra and Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur were also present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal said today that he would take up the issue of ban on wearing turbans in France with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He said the issue was of deep significance for Sikhs and he would ask the Prime Minister to use his good offices to get the decision reversed.


Door still open for unity, Mann tells Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 28
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), while criticising Mr Parkash Singh Badal for rejecting his call for Panthic unity said he was still open to it.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mann alleged that Mr Badal had rejected his offer for his vested interests and under pressure from the BJP leadership.

He said there should be open boarders with Pakistan with the facility of free trade.

He further said their main poll plank would be development carried out in Sangrur constituency represented by him in the Lok Sabha.

He added that Mr Toga Singh, general secretary, Akali Dal, headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh had joined SAD. Apart from him, nine prominent leaders of various other Akali factions had also joined SAD (A).


Senior SAD leader joins BSP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) suffered a jolt when their senior leader and member of the working committee of SAD Ram Lal Jassi joined the BSP here today.

Addressing a press conference here, Dr Jassi, who was accompanied by state BSP chief Avtar Singh Karimpuri, said he had left SAD for its failure to safeguard the interests of Dalits. “The SAD had time and again ignored my recommendations regarding welfare programmes of Dalits. Besides, Dalits have not been given their due status in the party so far,” he said, adding that the anti-Dalit face of the SAD would soon be exposed.


Akali leaders sink differences
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 28
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, senior Akali leaders, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, newly appointed secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and Capt Balbir Singh Bath, an Akali MLA, today held a meeting at Srihargobindpur, about 45 km from here, and decided to bury the hatchet.

Dr Cheema, who had unsuccessfully contested as a rebel Akali candidate against Captain Bath during the previous Assembly elections, told TNS that both of them had decided to sink their differences in the larger interests of the party and the Panth. Supporters of both leaders were also present during the meeting.


Preneet Kaur hopeful of winning Patiala seat
Our Correspondent

Lalru, January 28
Mrs Preneet Kaur, member of Parliament from Patiala, today sounded election lute and predicted a dark future for the parties other than the Congress.

Denying infighting and differences among senior Congress leaders in Punjab, the MP said that the Congress would won the Patiala seat in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections with a huge margin.

Mrs Preneet Kaur was addressing media persons after laying the foundation stone of a 66-KV substation in Jaula Khurd village, near here.

The MP also claimed that Rs 800 crore would be spent on the repair of different link roads and promised round-the-clock uninterrupted power supply in her constituency by June-end. Besides announcing 26 new water supply schemes in Dera Bassi subdivision, the MP also assured the residents of Samgoli village to provide a new 66-KV substation next year.

She also claimed that Rs 2.90 crore would be spent on the widening of the Lalru-Manauli-Surat link road, besides sanctioning a grant of Rs 148 crores for various projects to be taken up on the Ghaggar river for strengthening its embankments.

Mrs Preneet Kaur also addressed rallies in Jaula Khurd, Sarseeni, and Mukandpur villages and distributed cheques for Rs 95 lakh among village sarpanches for development works. The cheques were distributed under the Model Gram Yojana.

Those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, District Congress Committee chief, Mrs Sheelam Sohi and Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, members of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Sukhbir Singh Saini, chairman of the Dera Bassi Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank and Mr Amritpal Singh, president, Dera Bassi Municipal Council.


Cong ready for poll: MP
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 28
Lok Sabha member from Phillaur Santosh Chowdhary today flayed the haste of the BJP-led NDA government in recommending the dissolution of the Lok Sabha on February 6. She asserted that the Congress was prepared for the poll.

No previous government had recommended the dissolution of the Lok Sabha without a Vote on Account, she said.

The government was shy of facing the Budget session, she quipped. It was nursing an illusion that it would gain by advancing the elections, she added.

Mrs Chowdhary today gave Rs 4 lakh to the Nagar Council for providing drainage facility at JCT and Onkar Nagar areas. She also gave Rs 1.5 lakh to a college.


Faridkot YC unit to be revamped
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 28
Following the directions of the high command of the All-India Youth Congress (AIYC), Mr Paramjit Singh Sekhon, president of the district unit of Faridkot, has dissolved his unit with immediate effect.

Representation to all sections will be given in the new committee which will be constituted shortly. In addition, the ward-wise committees will also be formed in both urban and rural areas which will further motivate the youths for participation in spreading the ideologies of the Congress at the grassroots.


Traders favour Soni for Amritsar LS seat

Amritsar, January 28
Industrialist and traders on Monday passed a resolution favouring Mr Om Prakash Soni, Congress MLA as the party’s candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

The demand was made on the occasion of Republic Day celebrations at the Putlighar chowk.

Mr Amrit Lal Jain president, Punjab Beopar Mandal, and other trade associations and Congress leaders made an appeal to the Congress high command in this regard.


Turban issue: IHRO wants Takht chief to intervene
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 28
The all-party meeting convened by the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) today urged the French government that dastaar (turban) had special significance in Sikhism as it (turban) was a must for a Sikh to wear to safeguard kes (hair), which is one of the commands for the Sikhs. The meeting was also attended by activists of Human Rights Organisations and leaders of the BKU.

Meanwhile, Mr Manmohan Singh, a senior Sikh leader from Germany sought intervention of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht so that members of the community did not suffer because of the ban on turban in French schools. He said the Sikhs had been facing humiliation because of this ban. The all-party meeting, in conformity with Sikh philosophy, Sikh principals and tenets, Sikh discipline and Gurbani (Word-study of Truth), is of the firm belief that “Dastaar” is an article of Faith for a Sikh. And, the 10 Sikh Guru, including its founder Guru Nanak, wore ‘Dastaar’ and the 10th Master, Guru Gobind Singh, while creating Khalsa Panth (the army of God), bestowed ‘Sardari’ (kingship-the turban) to the Sikhs. And the turban, thus, is a symbol of that ‘kingship’. There is no compromise on this issue.


Punjab Govt to constitute SC panel, says minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
A two-day workshop to review the schemes and plans for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Punjab, identify various bottlenecks and suggest corrective measure began at Golden Jubilee Hall of Panjab University, here today.

Lashing out at the Department of Welfare for not performing, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Punjab Minister for Social Welfare, announced that the Punjab Government had decided to constitute the Punjab Commission for Scheduled Castes and an ordinance would soon be promulgated in this regard.

He said district welfare officers were busy in their own welfare instead of taking up the cause of the Scheduled Castes. Highlighting the many problems of the SCs and STs, he claimed that untouchability and bonded labour had not been stamped out.

“The landlords continue to outrage the modesty of Scheduled Caste women working as labourers in their field and no one is stopping them. Though one third of the panchayat’s land is allotted to Scheduled Castes for the cultivation by the SCs, this is usurped by the upper caste landlords,” he lamented.

The Director, National Commission for SCs and STs, Mr Tenzin Wangyal, said special component plan was introduced two and a half decades ago and there were still a number of states which did not have an administrative set up in place for its implementation.

Mr Wangyal lamented the fact that the Punjab government was not using the funds allocated for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes. Terming it as the lack of commitment towards the SCs and STs on the part of the Punjab Government, Mr Wangyal accused the government of diverting SC funds received from the Government of India to other activities.

“During the current financial year, the Punjab government had released Rs 80 crores against Rs 819.95 crores under the SCP. This is a big mockery of the plan and defeats the objective of the development of SCs in the state,” he maintained.

Earlier, the Principal Secretary of the Department of Welfare of SCs and BCs, Women and Child Development, Punjab, Mr J.R. Kundal, said rural health and water supply systems and infrastructural amenities were yet to be accomplished since powers to the Panchayati raj institutions were yet to be transferred.

The Executive Director of Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation, Mr Karam Singh, pointed a finger at the “vote-buying policy” of the politicians who manage to get votes by bribing the people. He apprised the participants of the circulation of fake SC certificates in Punjab.

From Punjabi University, Patiala, Prof Sucha Singh Gill said there was a hidden contempt against the scheduled caste population and the latest government policy was harming rather than improving them. He said there was a need to resurvey and come out with actual figures of the real poor Scheduled Castes.


Award conferred on DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 28
More than 100 panchayats of Dhuri subdivision today conferred the honour of Punjab award on Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, at a function held at the Bachat Bhavan here. He was given award for ensuring the holding of the Saheedi Jor Mela in true religious spirit by imposing ban on gambling, dance stalls, wine shops, swings, circus and other items of amusement in spite of pressure to operate them.

Addressing the function, Jathedar Daljeet Singh Dohla, convener of the function, said a resolution passed by more than 100 panchayats of Dhuri subdivision on January 8, 1999, was submitted to the SGPC at Teja Singh Samundri Hall, Amritsar, urging the latter to held the Saheedi Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib in purely religious manner. He said till now no body had bothered to implement all their suggestions but now the Deputy Commissioner had done all this. So a state level function was held to honour the Deputy Commissioner.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Ahluwalia said he had done his duty sincerely and dedicatedly. He said it was due to the cooperation of every section of society, particularly the SGPC media, devotees, religious and social organisations, all this had been possible. He said efforts would be made to make improvements in future.

He said efforts would be made for generating consensus among all political parties not to organise their political conference on this occasion.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president of the DCC, in his address, appreciated the efforts of Dhuri panchayats and said panchayats of Fatehgarh Sahib would also honour the Deputy Commissioner for his contribution.

Mr Rajiv Rattan, a representative of the Bar Association, Dhuri, Mr Bhagwan Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh, secretary DCC, Mr Daljeet Singh, circle Jathedar, Dhuri, and Mr Jagwant Singh also addressed the gathering.


Congress claims starting flood protection scheme
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Ghanour, January 28
The Congress is gearing up to claim the credit for the start of the Rs 146-crore flood protection scheme in Patiala district.

The start of the flood protection measures are set to become a major election issue in the event of an early Lok Sabha poll and Congress MP from Patiala Preneet Kaur claims that the scheme has been approved by the Central Water Commission (CWC) following vigorous lobbying done by her.

Talking to TNS, Ms Preneet Kaur said the CWC had also issued the no-objection certificate to the scheme. “The Akalis never even pursued the project and it is only because of my personal efforts that it has come about”, she added.

The MP said the entire money would be released in three instalments with the first instalment of Rs 33 crore having been released. She said three projects, which formed a part of the scheme, would be completed before the coming monsoon season.

As Ms Preneet Kaur and Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar inaugurated flood protection schemes in the town, farmers participated enthusiastically in the large rally held on the occasion.

Daljit Singh, a farmer of Ghanour, said the people living along the Ghaggar had been waiting for 50 years for a comprehensive scheme which would tame the Ghaggar and its tributaries during the monsoon season. “Patch work is done every year but despite persistent demand and also promises from successive governments, nothing was done to mitigate our suffering”, he said.

Though farmers feel that hope is in sight with the Central Water Commission approving a huge amount for various flood works in the district, they want the projects to be completed in a time-bound manner.

Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar inaugurated three projects on the occasion. These included digging of the Jharumajra and Bhagna drains. The minister said while Rs 1.40 crore would be spent on the Jharumajra drain, he said Rs 1.31 crore would be spent on the Bhagna drain.

He said both drains were spread over an area of 21 km adding 12,000 acres of land and 40 villages would be saved from annual flooding after the drains were dug up.

The minister disclosed that a bridge which had been swept away by flood waters of the Pachisdara drain, near Sanauli village, would be constructed again at a cost of Rs 70 lakh. He said the Irrigation Department was repairing all drains in the state and Rs 22 crore would be spent on that.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, who was also present on the occasion, later laid the foundation stone of Rs 80-lakh water supply scheme at Bahadurgarh, near here. He announced developmental schemes of Rs 25 lakh for Chappar village on the occasion.


Durgiana Temple seeks nod for construction of shops
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 28
Is the rush of devotees and pilgrims to the famous Durgiana Temple decreasing? This is the plea given by the Durgiana Management Committee in less than two years of its taking over the management of the shrine. The plea of low donations and offerings is being taken to seek sanction for the “illegal construction” of 12 shops to tide over the financial crisis. The shops are being constructed on 972 sq yards of prime land worth crores leased to the committee by the municipal corporation in 2002 after approval from the House in 2001, purportedly to build a primary school.

Interestingly, while admitting the alleged violation and despite a written request to the District Magistrate on December 3, 2003, and again on January 13, 2004, seeking police force to demolish the shops, the corporation has put up the issue of the violation on the agenda of a House meeting to be held tomorrow. This is being seen as a “virtual turnaround” by the corporation authorities as a religious management is allegedly banking upon the majority of councillors being from the ruling party who are likely to readily give their approval to the alleged violation.

Earlier, too, in case of a similar violation, when the temple management was in the hands of the Akali-BJP combine, 17 “illegal” shops constructed by the then management were ignored.

Meanwhile the presentation of the alleged violation in the House to legalise it by the corporation is being seen by many as a wrong precedent besides being a violation in itself.

The temple management in its plea, has stated that to overcome the loss of income due to a fall in the number of devotees, it should be allowed to construct shops, the income from which could be used to build a primary school. Incidentally, it is clearly stated in the lease agreement between the temple management and the corporation that the said land may not be used for commercial or residential purposes.


CM clears demolition of heritage school
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 28
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh gave go-ahead to demolish the ‘heritage’ building of “Saragarhi government senior secondary school” to make way for a multi-storey parking lot to facilitate traffic regulation near the Golden Temple.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting in Chandigarh today to discuss pending two phases (IV & V) of the “galiara” project aimed at decongesting and beautifying surroundings of the Golden Temple.

Mr K.S. Kang, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation and Mayor Sunil Datti attended the meeting along with the Secretary, Local Government and other officials.

The school is a heritage building being the first school built by the British in India. Mr Datti told The Tribune a new school would be named after the “saragarhi battle” to keep alive the memory of Saragarhi Martyrs.

He said a multi-storey parking lot at costing Rs 6-7 crore would be built in place of the school building which was depilated. Another plot of five acres near the dental college or one near Mal Mandi would be allotted to the new school to be named the Saragarhi school, he said.

On funds for the corporation the Mayor said the CM had assured to pay Rs 25 crore.

On the Galiara project he said the CM would take up the matter of releasing Rs 55 crore for the two phases and subsequently work could restart held up for past seven years.


Market bandh on closing of level crossing today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 28
The Railway Crossing Number 22 Market Association has decided to close shops tomorrow in protest against the government's decision to close down the level crossing once the overbridge comes up on the site.

In a statement here, Mr Joginder Singh Kohli Mr Narjeet Singh Oberoi, president and vice-president of teh association, respectively, said the association had submitted memoranda to both Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and local MP Preneet Kaur requesting that the level crossing should not be closed to vehicular traffic once the overbridge was built.

The association leaders said despite the date of announcement of starting of work on the overbridge on January 30, there had not been any statement from the authorities for keeping the crossing open for traffic.

They said the crossing was used by schoolchildren as well as devotees coming to the historic Khel Sahib Gurdwara situated right next to the level crossing. The business of nearly 2,000 families would be affected in case the level crossing was closed for traffic, he added.

The association appealed to the Chief Minister to ensure that the level crossing remained open for traffic. They appealed to the Chief Minister to take up the issue with the Railway authorities.


Patiala shahi salwar retains its popularity
Gurvinder Kaur

It is common knowledge through the length and the breadth of the state that the erstwhile principality of Patiala has come to symbolise three things — the Patiala peg, the Patiala pugri and the Patiala shahi salwar. While the Patiala peg has been virtually immortalised by the lovers of Bacchus the nation over , the Patiala pugri has seen a drastic decline in its popularity. And the `Patiala shahi` salwar ? No doubt it has retained its popularity but somewhere along the line it has also earned the distinction of being one attire that has been written about more than it has been worn.

What is the fascination with this kind of salwar? Well , apart from the fact that it is a beautiful ensemble the other factor is that over the years it has earned a ‘royal’ reputation for itself, worn as it was in the yesteryears by members of the royal family alone. The reason being the large amount of cloth required to make the heavily pleated salwar . In the olden times only noblewomen could afford to buy the seven metres of cloth needed to make a suit sporting a Patiala salwar. Hence the ‘shahi’ tag to the garb.

The tradition has continued somewhat with the salwar being the firm favourite of the ‘Sardari Grahak’ which encompasses a wide circle of `old` landed Jat Sikh families of the state. However, the salwar is very popular among the general masses, too, who have not shunned it in favour of various other types of salwars popular nowadays. In these times of fast changing fashion trends this ‘shahi’ salwar has managed to hold its own. To get an idea of the popularity the Patialashahi salwar enjoys among the fair species, a visit to the ‘Darjiya Wali gali’ in the old city is enough.

The tailors of this gali specialise in stitching this kind of salwar and owing to the heavy rush of work the usual time period for the delivery of a suit is a week. However, such is their skill that customers are willing to wait for the stipulated time instead of going elsewhere to get their suits stitched. Most of these tailors have been `darjis` for generations and their forefathers used to sit and stitch cloths in these very alleys in the times gone by.

The most sought after shop here is Daleep Tailors where a celebrated tailor of the city the late Master Daleep Singh, once used to work. He had the honour of draping the Rajmata of the Phulkian dynasty, Maharani Mohinder Kaur, in the late fifties, besides President Giani Zail Singh`s better half, Bibi Pradhan Kaur. Though his son Gurinder Pal Singh can no longer boast of any ‘royal’ client, his customers include many from the rich and famous list of the region. He also keeps readymade moderately priced Patiala salwars of all hues for the general public \have proved to be a big hit with the young girls of the city.

What sets this salwar apart from the regular salwar is the style of cutting essential to it. Whereas the normal salwar is cut after the cloth length is folded into half , the Patiala salwar is cut after spreading open the whole ‘arz’ or ‘panna’ of the cloth. This salwar uses nearly 4.5 to 5 metres of cloth in contrast to the mere 2.5 metres required for the regular salwar.

The resultant salwar has fold upon fold of cloth in neat layers going right upto the upper thighs.

The salwar continues to be cut in the old style albeit with one major difference, its enormous ‘Ghera’ (circumference) has been replaced by the smaller ‘belt’ which holds the pleats together at the top. The Patialashahi, though beautiful to behold, carried an enormous amount of weight with it owing to the accumulation of numerous folds around the waist when tied. Many a royal waistline had ached with the burden before being relieved by the new ‘avataar’ of the salwar in the late fifties. The popularity of the salwar increased manifold after the ‘creator’ of the modern Patialashahi salwar, Master Santokh Singh, introduced the `belt` at the top and even a drastically changed fashion scene has failed to dent its popularity.


Kavi darbar to celebrate R-Day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 28
The district cultural society last night organised a kavi darbar at Bachat Bhavan to celebrate Republic Day. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner presided over the kavi darbar. The people from every walk of life attended the programme and appreciated it.

Mr Ranjodh Singh Khanpuri enthralled the gathering with his song “ Mere sajjan ji, dil ne keha tan, dil main tere sang la liya, main kaya karan ji, ishq de panchi nu talian te choga chuga liya.”

Mr Sant Singh Sohal presented his poem “Reejah teri diyan mithian yadan, shabdan de sang tol riha han”.

Dr Charan Singh Gill read his poem "Jigar jehre rakhde hon chatana da, karn takra sada ohi toofana da.”

Mr Anokh Khanpuri read his poem on female foeticide “Kayon amiyane sochan lagi tun, kukhan nu kabar banoun di, ish jag bich ulloo bolange, gal honi bhoot nachaun di."

Mrs Santosh Verma sung her poem “Waqat ne hame kaya kaya sikha diya, ham kaon thae, kiya ho gaye or kaya bana diya." Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha read his poem "Sada hi uchian rakhian reejan, sada hi uche sapane, ban jandi ohi okat man bich, jo hon arman”.

Mr Ashok Jhanjhi, Gurnam Singh Bawa also read their poems.


Dam on Ghaggar canal planned
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 28
The Punjab Government plans to construct a dam on Ghaggar canal to check floods in the state. The flooding of the canal had damaged crops worth crores of rupees besides rendering hundreds of families homeless particularly in Mansa, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda districts in the past couple of years. The Central Water Resources Commission had released a grant of Rs 148.35 crore to initiate the project, said Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Minister for Irrigation, while talking to mediapersons here on Monday.

The minister who was here to preside over a district-level Republic Day function said a dam on the Ravi had already been completed. He disclosed that a revolving fund of Rs 22 crore had also been released by the state government to provide better irrigation facilities for the construction of more drains and for the cleansing of the existing ones. In addition Rs 1.50 crore had been granted to the Faridkot district administration for raising the strength of the Golewala distributory to streamline the irrigation facilities to more than 20 villages.


S.P. Sethi is Rotary Dist Governor
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 28
A leading local exporter, Mr S.P. Sethi, Managing Director of Fine Switchgears, was elected Rotary District Governor of the Rotary District 3070 comprising Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir for 2005-2006.

Mr Sethi’s name as the District Governor of RI 3070 was announced by Mr G.S. Bawa, present District Governor of the Rotary, at a meeting of Rotarians organised last evening at Lilly Resorts, according to a press note issued here today.

As many as 450 Rotarians from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir took part in it, ADGP, PAP, Jalandhar, Mr D.R. Bhatti, was the chief guest.

Four prominent persons, including Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh (retd), Chairman, Punjab Public Service Commission, Padam Shri Journalist Vijay Chopra, cardiac surgeon Mr H.S. Bedi of Sigma Hospital, Ludhiana, and freedom fighter Ajit Saini were honoured on the occasion for their distinguished services in their respective fields, added the press note.


Land vacated from truck union’s possession
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 28
The DSP, the Tehsildar, the Executive officer of the local municipal council and the local SDM, accompanied by policemen today took the possession of the land allegedly encroached by the local truck union. They managed to get vacated about three acres from the union possession. Truck union’s workers and others on their own removed their commodities and goods from the office of the union, protesting against the action of the local administration. The “bit” of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib was also shifted from the Union’s gurdwara to another place.

Besides heavy police force, the authorities had also brought with their a fire engine, a recovery van, a bulldozer. The bulldozer started demolition of the outer wall of the complex at about 8.30 pm.

Mr Balwinder Singh, President of the Truck union, said the administration had done injustice to them by ousting them in this manner. He claimed that they had assured the administration that they would vacate the land tomorrow morning.

The local municipal council is reportedly the owner of the land which was encroached by truck union. The administration claimed that sufficient time had been given to the truck union to vacate the land. While the president of truck union claimed that they had not received any such notice.

Later, truck operators held a meeting which was addressed by the union president, Mr Balwinder Singh and the district unit president of the SAD(A), Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh. Mr Alloarkh assured his full support to the truck union.


Computerised draw for plots on Feb 2
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 28
The Improvement Trust here for the sake of transparency in the allotment of plots in Surya Enclave, has decided to conduct computerised draw here on February 2.

Addressing a press conference here, Chairman of the Trust Tajinder Singh Bittu, said special software had been developed to ensure transparency for holding draw for 1200 residential plots of different categories.

Application numbers would be programmed in the computer in the presence of the applicants here on February 1 and a seal affixed thereafter. The draws would be held next day after breaking the seal. This is for the first time that a computerised method has been evolved to ensure participation of the application. He said, adding that residential flats of two marlas each would be allotted to Dalit category free of cost.


One of marriage party killed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 28
Sunder Lal, a member of a marriage party and resident of Bhiwani in Haryana, was killed on the spot while eight others were injured, when their vehicle reportedly collided with a stationary truck at Tur Banjara village, near Dirba, on Monday. The marriage party, including bridegroom and bride, was returning from Mansa.


Plea to reject casteist candidates
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 28
Mr Suresh Kumar Goyal, organising secretary, and Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, general secretary of the General Samaj Party in a statement here yesterday said the people should elect candidates with clean track record.

They said no candidate should be elected because of caste and other considerations and parties with clear agenda and open policies should be given the mandate. Claiming that their party had celebrated the Republic Day of India by resolving to end caste-based reservation system; the leaders said no other party would dare to do it.


Power restrictions rescheduled
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to change the timings of evening peak load hour restrictions applicable to large supply consumers with effect from February 1 to March 31.

The revised timings of evening peak load hour restrictions for consumers falling under all operation zones except central zone shall be 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm and for consumers falling under central zone from 7 pm to 10 pm, an official press note said here today.


No funds for Lajpat Rai memorial
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 28
Lala Lajpat Rai’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Lalaji Park here by the Punjabi Sabhyachar Manch today.

Representatives of various organisations and students of Government Model School offered floral tributes at the statue of the leader. They, however, complained that the Improvement Trust had not fixed the gate of the memorial site.

The trust had requested the municipal council that the maintenance of the memorial be transferred to it. However, when the transfer was completed, the trust realised it could not spend on the park from its funds as per rules. Since then, the trust has been encouraging social organisations to help renovate the park.

Even last evening, pigs and dogs could be seen on the ground of the memorial.


Gidda this side moves feet across border
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 28
A change in the India-Pakistan relations was evident at a function organised by the Press Club of Fazilka on Republic Day in the evening at the Sadki border post.

Besides an estimated 3,000 persons on the Indian side, a sizeable number also gathered near the Sulemanki tower on the other side of the boundary.

The cultural function included Malwai gidda performed by members of Grewal Club of a border village, Awwa. Army officials and other guests at the function joined the dancers on the stage. A few in the audience across the border were also seen dancing to the beat.


20 students, teacher hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 28
At least 20 girl students and their teacher, Ms Sunita Rani, of Guru Har Rai Girls College, Chabewal, were injured when a truck coming from the opposite direction collided head-on with their bus near Jaitpur village, about 18 km from here, on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road today.

All the injured students were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Mahilpur, police sources said.


SHO makes chemists pledge not to sell drugs
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 28
Ms Bindu Bala, Station House Officer here first launched a drive against the sale of drugs and intoxicants. Later she called a meeting of town’s chemists to discuss ways to check the menace of drugs with them.

On the Republic Day she made the chemists pledge not to sell tranquillisers and intoxicants without medical prescription. Dr Jaswant Singh, chairman of the chemists’ body also agreed to adhere to the pledge.


Body found
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 28
The body of a woman was found in Kot Bhai Rajbaha near Goniana town yesterday. Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva fished out the body from the water. Sources said the deceased was wearing glass bangles and a grey suit. The post mortem was conducted at the local Civil Hospital.


High Court
Club asked to furnish members’ details
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 28
Taking up Forest Hill Golf and Country Club case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday granted counsel for the club an opportunity to furnish a chart giving details of members who were bureaucrats, police officials or judicial officers belonging to the subordinate judiciary. The proceedings were initiated after the court took suo motu notice of report in a national newspaper.

The Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, added that the list of 397 paid members furnished in the court did not specify whether a member was bureaucrat or not. The case will now come up for further hearing on February 9.

The judges had earlier issued notices to the Government of India, besides Punjab’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and other respondents after taking suo motto the story published regarding the club being under Central government scanner.

The Bench had also restrained Punjab Housing and Urban Development (PUDA) from granting any permission for change of use of land under the New Capital Periphery Control Act subject to decision of the court.

The story had mentioned that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had found that the construction at the club site was carried out in grave and blatant violation of the Forest Conservation Act 1980.

Approval certificates

Struggles never end. After facing enemies in Kargil, Air Force personnel Randhir Tripathi is now fighting a different battle — against authorisation committee for kidney transplant operations. He has moved the high court, claiming that the committee was not granting approval certificate required for conducting the operation.

Taking up his petition, along with three other petitions with similar prayers, a Division Bench of the high court directed the committee to consider all the documents within eight hours the next day.

All the donors were present in the court this afternoon when the directions were issued by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma.

Arguing before the Bench, counsel for Mr Tripathi asserted that the approval certificates were being denied on frivolous grounds. He added that the permission was being denied even though all the documents were in order.

Voting rights

Acting on a petition filed in public interest by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation challenging a notification issued by the Union of India whereby the voting rights of the Sehajdhari Sikhs had been taken away, a Division Bench of the high court on Wednesday fixed January 30 as the next date of hearing.

In its petition, the federation, through national President Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu of Raikot, had earlier contended that Sehajdhari Sikhs had been exercising their franchise in a peaceful and democratic manner for the past 59 years. But their rights were curtailed vide notification dated October 8.

Arguing before the Bench, counsel had asserted that the Union of India had no legal or legislative competence to issue the notification by amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act —which was a Central Act.

Poll petition

The high court on Wednesday fixed February 2 as the next date of hearing on a petition challenging Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s election from the Patiala Assembly constituency.

Arguing on the issue of maintainability of the petition, counsel for the Chief Minister had earlier claimed that the same was vague. Counsel had contended that the petitioner had failed to specify how the services of Class I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal were used to help Captain in his elections.

Petitioner Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that Captain had used Mr Chahal’s services. The documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. The petitioner had added that Mr Chahal was, subsequently, awarded by the respondent for the services he rendered.


Nepalese official deposes in hijack case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 28
Kathmandu-based Nepalese intelligence officer Padamraj Singh Joshi today deposed in the Indian Airlines IC-814 hijack case in a special court here.

Mr Joshi, when cross-examined by the defence, said he did not know whether any Pakistan Airlines aircraft had cruised to one side of the IC-814 aircraft when it was stationed at Kathmandu. He said he did not know whether any air marshals had checked the aircraft at Kathmandu.

The officer had bought 640 documents with him based on his investigation of the case. CBI investigating officer Ramachandran has been summoned by the special court on January 30.


Amritsar MC budget pegged at Rs 90 crore
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 28
For the second consecutive year, the city’s municipal corporation budget is pegged at less than the Rs 100 crore. The budget of Rs 90.25 crore, to be presented in the corporation House tomorrow, however, has a flaw in the break-up of percentages for its three sections: corporation expenses — salaries and maintenance; contingency expenditure; and development.

An inflated figure has been presented for development at 29 per cent. The corporation expenses are 57 per cent and the contingency expenses are 17 per cent. The total adds up to more than 100, which is the flaw in the projected break-up of the total budget allotment.

The error was admitted by Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner, and the Deputy Controller, Finance, Mr V.K. Kapoor, who sought to explain that the extra 3 per cent, Rs 2.10 cr for development was the money to be obtained as loan from HUDCO, which would be included for development.

However, the flaw sent the officers in a tizzy as the projected loan had neither been obtained nor included in the actual budget total of Rs 90.25 crore.

Meanwhile, the corporation liabilities total Rs 18.08 crore, including the money payable to contractors for works completed, allotted works of Rs 15 crore and pending loans, overdrafts, pensions, etc.

The income from octroi is projected at Rs 50.50 crore, which is a crore more than the last year, while an additional crore is projected in the expected recovery from house tax at Rs 7 crore.

The current income statement reveals a shortfall of more than Rs 10 crore in the income from octroi while a shortfall of Rs 2 crore is seen in house tax collections thus far.

Rs 13 crore has been projected as income from water and sewerage charges as against Rs 10 crore of last year. The budget expects Rs 8 crore from excise duty against last year’s Rs 6.68 crore. However, there has been no income from this source in the entire year as per the latest income statement. Fire tax has been excluded from the budget.


Senior clerk in SDM’s office held
Our correspondent

Abohar, January 28
Bhupinder Singh, a senior clerk in the office of the Subdivisional Magistrate here, who was honoured for “exemplary services” on Republic Day at an official function by Parliamentary Secretary Hans Raj Josan, was arrested by a Vigilance team led by DSP Surjit Singh Khosa yesterday under the Anti-Corruption Act.

Selection of 65 persons from different walks of life by the authorities for honouring them at official functions on Independence Day and Republic Day has been controversial. Even last year, those honoured included sanitary inspectors of the municipal councils though even the local MLA had said that sanitation was poor in the town. The authorities had formed selection committees for preparing a list of citizens doing “exemplary work.” Some persons had reportedly used influence to get their names included in the list for each function. This raised doubts over the list of the “awardees”.

Sources said Kahan Singh, son of Mr Gurbachan Singh, had got Mangal Singh, son of Mohinder Singh, and other residents of Pucca Seed Farm Colony here implicated in a murder case on September 16,1991. Mangal Singh was later acquitted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He filed an application for claiming damages against the complainants and paid Rs 4,350 on account of stamp duty. The opposite party reached a compromise with him. Mangal Singh made a complaint to the SP (Vigilance) alleging that senior clerk Bhupinder Singh was demanding Rs 500 for refunding the stamp duty. The Vigilance laid a trap and caught him last evening as he received Rs 500 from Mangal Singh. Bhupinder Singh was taken to the city police station before he was shifted to Ferozepore.


Son kills mother for property

Nawanshahr, January 28
Harshvinder Singh (28) allegedly killed his mother Bhago (65) widow of Lachhman Dass of nearby Mahalon, village with a sharp-edged weapon on Tuesday night. Property dispute is said to have led to the incident. The deceased had re-married Lachhman Dass and had two sons Joginder Singh and Jaswant Singh from her first husband. They also lived with her. Bhago wanted to divide the property among her three sons but Harshvinder did not want to share it with his step-brothers. The police has registered a case. — OC


Man murders brother over canal water row
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 28
In a bizarre incident, Gurdeep Singh, a resident of Chathewala village of the district, shot his brother Natha Singh with his licensed double-barrelled .12 bore gun late last night after they quarrelled over their turn to irrigate their fields with canal water.

Police sources said farms of both Natha Singh and Gurdeep Singh were located adjacently and the two had been living in adjacent houses. They quarrelled suddenly when they were working in their fields late last night. After sometime, both returned to their houses. Gurdeep Singh, suspect, shot at Natha Singh, who was inside his house.

Though Natha Singh was immediately taken to the local Civil Hospital, he was declared brought dead by the doctors, who attended on him. A case in this connection has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act. No arrest has been made so far.


Shots fired in robbery attempt
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 28
Panic spread among residents of Bhogpur, near here, today when three motorcycle-borne youths allegedly fired shots at two employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) who were on their way to deposit cash in UCO Bank.

According to the police, the PSEB employees, Baldev Ram and Harwinder Singh, were going to the Bhogpur branch of the bank when the three youths allegedly tried to snatch the bag containing cash.

Baldev Ram resisted the attempt in the main bazaar and tried to overpower them. Sensing trouble, one of the youths fired from a revolver at Baldev Ram, who escaped unhurt.

The robbers fled the place immediately. A case was registered and raids were being conducted to nab the suspects.


Minor raped, accused beaten up
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 28
Irate mob beat up a middle-aged man here for allegedly raping a minor near a temple on the Marhia road this afternoon. The accused was beaten up by the mob before he was handed over to the police.

According to the mother of the victim, the girl had gone to the temple to take milk. A man named Prem took her daughter to the rear side of the temple and raped her.

The matter was brought to the notice of residents of the locality, who tried to nab the accused. The residents alleged that the priest of the temple had tried to save the accused and given him shelter in the temple.

The girl was taken to the Civil Hospital Khanna for medical examination.


ITO caught taking bribe

Ludhiana, January 28
A CBI team from Chandigarh caught red-handed an Income Tax Officer (ITO) while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from a trader tonight.

The ITO, T.R. Sharma, was to retire on January 31. According to trader Lakhbir Chawla, the ITO had demanded Rs 15,000 to settle his case of advance income tax in which a fine of Rs 27,000 could be imposed on the trader. However, he agreed to pay Rs 10,000.

The trader informed the CBI at Chandigarh. A raid was conducted at the house of the ITO and he was caught while accepting the bribe. — UNI


Abolition of Pro VC’s post to help varsities, says Boparai
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 28
While the Punjabi University Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, whose post was abolished by the Punjab Cabinet today, was not available for comments, university Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai claimed that the step would contribute to the smooth functioning of the universities in the state.

Despite numerous attempts, the Pro-VC, Dr Pal, could not be contacted. Mrs Pal, while talking on his behalf, said Dr Pal could not speak because of a throat infection and was resting. When questioned whether Dr Pal could react to the abolition of the post, she said the family had not received any information about it.

Mr Boparai said it was the shared perception of the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), who was also the Chancellor of the university, and the Chief Minister that the post should be abolished in Punjabi University as well as other universities of the state. “Both of them, as well as the Cabinet, have contributed to the smooth functioning of universities in the state by taking this decision”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Free Thinkers Forum of the university, welcomed the abolition of the post of the Pro-VC. The forum convener, Dr Kulwinder Singh, in a statement here said a single command administration in the university would result in more efficiency in the system. He said the post of the Pro-VC was also a drain on the finances of the university. Dr Kulwinder Singh said there was no merit in the argument of having only an academician as a Vice-Chancellor. “What matters is whether the incumbent can provide leadership or not”, he added. The forum also urged the university Chancellor to approve the decision of the Punjab Cabinet so that a congenial atmosphere may be restored in the university.

AMRITSAR: Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of Guru Nanak Dev University, on Wednesday here welcomed the decision of the Punjab Cabinet to abolish the post of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor. He said the step would promote the long-term interests of the university. He, however, said the appointment of Vice-Chancellors must be made transparent.


Punjab Govt to recruit 2010 teachers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 28
The Punjab Government will recruit 2,010 school teachers in the state keeping in mind the financial limitations. The vacancies will be filled in a phased manner.

This was stated by Mr Khushhal Bahl, Education Minister, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He had come as the chief guest at the one-day workshop organised by the Punjab School Education Board in connection with the Open School Scheme, which was being extended to the senior secondary level.

The minister said in order to rationalise the system, 5,000 teachers, who were working in schools which had very few students, were being sent to institutions where there was shortage of staff.

The minister said the government was making efforts to disassociate teachers from various other types of work, including election-related duties. Separate budget provisions would have to be made for keeping additional staff, he said.

Earlier, while addressing a gathering, he said in Punjab, a line was being drawn between skilled and unskilled workers.

About 72 per cent of the population lived in rural areas and most of the youth were not able to get the required educational facilities. Even teachers were reluctant to go to villages to teach.

He said if such a line got drawn, it would be very unfortunate as the unskilled people, who would not be able to support their families, would take to drugs, leading to an increase in the number of crimes.

In developed nations, most of the people were skilled, who had a high standard of living even though they had no job guarantee.

The minister asked the board authorities to form a committee which could study the ways and means of making the open school system at the senior secondary level a success.

Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the board, said earlier during the day that the aim of the open school was to give an opportunity of education to people for whom all other doors had closed.

He said there were about 30 lakh school dropouts in Punjab. He said a comparative study had revealed that the percentage of students going in for higher education was as low as 8 in India whereas in developed nations the figure was 70.

Education could not be provided to all by opening more and more schools because of limited resources.

Mr S.S. Sanghal, former Director, Academic, National Open School, said the slogan of the open school was “Reaching the Unreached” and the open school system was a need-based system.

He said an open school was set up by the Government of India in 1979 which was later attached to the CBSE. In 1989, the National Institute of Open School was established.

He said 10 states had set up open schools and every type of course was offered under the system.

The system operated through study centres and had credibility.

The participants at the workshop had put forth various recommendations for introducing open school system for senior secondary classes.

They suggested that the duration of the personal contact programmes should be increased as it was difficult to cover subjects which had practicals attached to them. Study material should be provided at the time of admissions.

The condition that a senior secondary school should have a specified area to run a school be relaxed so that students who had acquired education till matriculation could go in for higher studies.

Different norms should be set up for examination centres of the open school and study material should also be provided in Hindi and English as well.


Lecturers at loss over rule change
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 28
Frequent changes made by the Department of Technical Education, Punjab, in recruitment rules for the teaching faculty have put the serving teachers at disadvantage regarding promotions. The changes would also mean extra burden on the state exchequer.

The department changed the qualification requirements for the recruitment of Assistant Professors in 2000. According to recent advertisements in various dailies by the Director, Technical Education, for the recruitement of lecturers and Assistant Professors, it again changed the requirements and also put a condition regarding the maximum age of the applicants.

As many as 27 teachers of the local GZS College of Engineering and Technical Education in a representation made to the Principal Secretary, Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, have pointed out that the changes would deny the opportunity of getting the post of lecturer and Assistant Professor to a number of deserving candidates. They demanded relaxation in the age limit.

They alleged that the changes regarding the educational qualification and age were in violation of the rules laid down by the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), which governed the academic activities of all educational institutions of the country. The maximum age has been set at 35. They pointed out that a number of lecturers with long experience could not appear for the interview for the posts of Assistant Professor in 2000 as the minimum education qualification had been changed to Ph.D from a master’s degree.

The department had fixed the maximum age limit at 35 for the post of Assistant Professor and reduced the minimum qualification to master’s degree again. As a result, the lecturers who had been serving for several years but had crossed the age of 35, could not apply for the post.

Mr Roshan Sunkaria, Director of the Department of Technical Education, could not be contacted for his comments.


Unemployed teachers allege lathi charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 28
Members of the B.Ed Unemployed Teachers Union yesterday alleged that they were lathi-charged by the police when they sought a meeting with Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, on Monday. Mr Bajwa was here in connection with the Republic Day celebrations.

The members of the union headed by Mr Subash Kumar said the unemployed teachers were demanding the filling of vacancies of teachers. Mr Subash Kumar alleged that when the teachers sought a meeting with the minister, police officials outside Guru Nanak stadium lathi-charged them in which, he claimed, several women activists were injured.

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