P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Elahi to greet Amarinder at Wagah
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is scheduled to address the opening session of the World Punjabi Conference at Lahore tomorrow, will make several important announcements, including the setting up of a World Punjabi forum.

Sources said today the headquarters of the forum would be at Punjabi University, Patiala, Capt Amarinder Singh would give Rs 2 crore as a corpus fund for the forum. The forum’s main objective was to promote research on Punjabi culture, literature, music, ethos etc. The forum might, have a branch in Punjab University, Lahore.

Capt Amarinder Singh, to be received by Mr Pervez Elahi, Chief Minister of West Punjab (Pakistan), at the Wagah border at 2 p.m., would drive straight to the venue of the conference in Lahore. Mr Elahi would also speak at the conference.

Capt Amarinder Singh would be accompanied by several ministers and officers.

Capt Amarinder Singh, would meet the Governor of West Punjab around 7.30 p.m. after an informal meeting with Mr Elahi.

Next morning Capt Amarinder Singh would address leading industrialists, businessmen and traders of West Punjab, detailing business opportunities between the two countries. He would focus on the possibility of wheat export from India to Pakistan, which imports about 20 million tonnes of wheat from Australia and other countries every year.

The Chief Minister would also offer joint ventures in farm research, promotion of agri business and joint efforts to fight diseases that hit crops in this region. The cotton crops faces common problems such as attack of American bollworm, leaf curl etc in both Punjabs.

Capt Amarinder Singh, was scheduled to who meet students of Aitchison College, would propose to organise a youth festival of college students of both Punjabs in Amritsar and Lahore on an alternate basis.

The Chief Minister would also advocate frequent student exchange programmes between top academic institutions of India and Pakistan to promote friendship and peace.

The Chief Minister would also meet “Patiala families” in Lahore. A large number of families associated with the erstwhile Patiala state are settled in Lahore. Ms Tahmina Durrani, who startled the Pakistani elite by writing controversial political autobiography — “My Feudal Lord” — belongs to such a family.

Capt Amarinder Singh was also scheduled to visit historical places associated with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and a number of Sikh religious places.


Johar leads 145-member delegation to Pakistan
World Punjabi Conference from today
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), January 29
A 145-member group, including Punjabi writers, scholars, folk artistes, mediapersons, led by Minister for Higher Education Harnam Dass Johar today crossed over to Lahore to attend three-day World Punjabi Conference.

Dr Satinder Singh Noor, an eminent Punjabi critic and senior member of the group, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would join the conference tomorrow. He said it would be a great opportunity for Chief Ministers of both Punjabs to work out a joint strategy to promote business and goodwill, West Punjab Chief Minister, Pervez Elahi will receive Capt Amarinder Singh at the border.

Mr Johar before crossing over to Pakistan said it was going to be a big family reunion for him as there were many close relatives, who had stayed back after Partition in Attock district.

Mr Johar said he wished that India and Pakistan should remove visa restrictions altogether as done in the case of Nepal and Bhutan. Both Punjabs had suffered tremendous trauma during Partition and now the time has come that they should live brothers and contribute towards the economic prosperity of this region, he added.

Punjabi folk singer Pammi Bai was excited about his trip to Lahore where he will perform during the conference. Talking to The Tribune, Pammi Bai said Punjabi artistes from India and Pakistan should join hands to preserve their rich cultural heritage and Punjabi music which had already created new wave in the international arena.

He has composed a special song titled “Dilli sukh mangdi, Lahore sukh mangda, tali raba mereya khatra jung da” which he will render during the conference. He said he was carrying with him the message of peace, harmony and goodwill for his Punjabi brothers across the border.

Dr Noor, a former Professor of Punjabi at Delhi University and president of the Punjabi Academy, said he would help to set up Punjabi departments in the universities and colleges in Pakistan for both Gurmukhi and Persian script. He lauded the role of great Punjabi scholar Fakhar Zaman who had organised three such conferences to bring Punjabis from all over the globe at one platform.


‘Clear’ Tohra’s visit to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Minorities Commission (NMC), has urged Mr Yashwant Sinha, External Affairs Minister, to clear the visit of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC President, to Pakistan.

In a letter to the minister, the chairman stated that Mr Tohra had sought permission to settle the issue of Sikh shrines in Pakistan where the demand was to install a baptised Sikh to head the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (PSGPC) instead of a Muslim. At present, Mr Sham Singh is co-chairman of the PSGPC along with a Muslim.

Mr Tarlochan Singh urged that the reported statement of the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, promising to consider suggestions on facilitating Sikh pilgrims' visit to gurdwaras “was in the direction of facilitating unrestrained visit to Sikh shrines by devotees.”


GND varsity budget lacks transparency: report
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
A study by Guru Nanak Dev University, undertaken in a view of a circular of the Association of Indian Universities to work out unit cost of education, has concluded that the “university budget lacks transparency and conceals more than what it reveals”.

The 110-page report, a UGC research project, has been authored by Dr P.S. Raikhy, a senior professor of the Punjab School of Economics, GNDU.

While pointing out “glaring manipulations” in the university budget, the report states, “while the budget estimates for 2002-2003 indicated a deficit of Rs 8.79 crore, the revised estimates showed a surplus of Rs 6.86 crore. Similarly, for the year 2003-2004, while the budget estimates indicate a deficit of Rs 3.98 crore, actually the budget is likely to be in surplus. Under normal circumstances, such a budget may not be termed as efficient and rigorous exercise in accounts. Besides main accounts and revolving fund accounts of hostels, there were as many as 32 other separate accounts as on March 31, 2002, involving deposits of Rs 21 crore. No doubt the university has made efforts to simplify the budget and seven such accounts were closed in 2001-2002, there still is scope of making the budget more meaningful, realistic, simple and transparent”.

Dr Raikhy has written that budget heads and sub-heads can be reduced for better accounting purposes. When the university is in surplus, the amount may be put in endowment funds, depreciation and reserve funds and other long-term fixed deposits rather than incurring expenditure on less essential activities so as to ensure smooth functioning in the future, when the grants-in-aid from the state government are likely to squeeze further and NRI fee income may also dry up.

Hence there is a need for providing long-term prospective to the university finances. It has become all the more essential in view of the declining share of maintenance grants and near absence of plan grants. Dr Reikhy has recommended that the state government must provide incentive to the university for mobilising more resources, putting amount in endowment funds and making larger provision for disadvantaged students. At least the state government must declare that maintenance grant will not be cut down if the money saved is put in endowment funds.

Dr Raikhy has made certain recommendations to streamline the financial health and higher education of the university. He has recommended that to provide finances for higher education in the country, an education cess be imposed on income tax and corporation tax at the level of the Central Government and sales tax at the level of the state government. His report stated that the Twelfth Finance Commission must take up this task and make recommendations about suitable rates of education cess on above mentioned taxes.

The report has recommended that the government should set up a commission consisting of top educationists and planner to delineate policy about higher education under the liberalised economic policy regime with specific mandate to link with employment opportunities in the country and abroad. 


Case for turban put before French official
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
Sikh representatives of France and the secretary for international affairs of Akal Takht today held a meeting with Mr Alain Boissinor, Director of Cabinet, Ministry of Education, France, on the proposed law banning “ostensible signs of religion.” The discussions were “constructive” even as the French representative assured that Sikh children would continue to attend their classes till the final decision.

According to Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, a representative of Akal Takht, the Sikh delegates explained that the turban among Sikhs was not an “ostensible sign of religion” but an inimical aspect of the Sikh appearance and dress. A majority of the Sikhs who wore turbans were not baptised, they added.

Mr Boissinot said the law would go through the national Assembly and would take about four months. Following that, adjustments would need to be considered. He said there was no intention to make it difficult for the Sikh children to attend schools in France and they would not be thrown out.

He said a solution would be worked out to mutual satisfaction and more meetings would be held with the Sikh community. He understood that there were ethnic, cultural and philosophical reasons for Sikhs to wear the turban.

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr Chain Singh, Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Manpreet Singh and Mr Shingara Singh and Dr Jasdev Singh.


Panchayat defends rapist
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 29
The panchayat of the nearby Jafferpur village today “punished” a 45-year-old resident of the village for allegedly raping a mentally challenged teenaged girl by beating him and parading him around the village after blackening his face and garlanding him with ‘chappals’. However, the panchayat foiled the efforts of the local police to register a case, saying that it would bring a bad name to the village.

Villagers prevented reporters, who got the information and reached the village, from taking photographs of the procession being taken out to “punish” the accused. Not only this, the panchayat and the villagers lied before the police, stating that it was just a minor incident of eve-teasing and the matter had been resolved at the panchayat level. They even denied having taken the alleged rapist around the village to “punish” him.

According to sources the self-styled “baba” lured the 14-year-old mentally challenged girl when she was playing near the village school yesterday. He took her to a secluded place and allegedly outraged her modesty.

The incident came to fore in the evening and the matter was reported to the panchayat. The panchayat at a meeting today instead of reporting the matter to the police “punished” the accused in its own way. But when the police and the mediapersons came to know of the incident, the panchayat and the villagers tried to defend the accused and hush up the matter.

The villagers also tried to stop the police from registering a case and conducting a medical examination of the victim by giving it in writing that it was just a minor case of eve-teasing. A written ‘razinama’, with signatures of the village sarpanch and the mother of the victim was given to the police. Mr H.P.S. Khakh, DSP, said no case had been registered as not even a single person of the village had come forward to report the incident.


Daipai is PPCC gen secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Punjab Congress President, H.S. Hanspal has appointed Mr Ram Pal Daipai, General Secretary of the PPCC, as convener for the proposed mass contact programme from February 1.

Mrs Satinder Kaur Nabha, Mr Sadhu Singh Amloh, Mr Hardeep Goel and Mr Manjinder Singh Chaudhary have been appointed members of the committee set up for the propose.


Neelam issue dominates MC House meeting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
The sensational Neelam issue dominated the MC House meeting today.

The issue relates to dismissed vice-president of the Congress Mahila Mandal Neelam Chawdhary, who was allegedly involved in running a flesh trade racket. She later named Mayor Sunil Dutti as one of her patrons in the sex trade.

However, she changed her statement when all councillors gave unstinted support to the Mayor, saying that she was forced to make a statement by Mr Dutti’s rivals, including an MC councillor. They said that the councillor, allegedly involved in conspiring against the Mayor, should be exposed in the House and dismissed. His name, however, remained unexposed at the meeting, held after more than three months today.

The meeting was presided over by MC Commissioner K.S. Kang and the Mayor.

In another alleged breach of privilege, the House presented a case of illegal construction of 12 shops on leased land meant for a school by the Durgiana Temple Committee.

Cases of sewerage problems in various areas, soaring charges of water and sewerage facilities, suggestions to notify respective councillors before final payment for works in wards, misuse of tubewells, delayed water bills, failure to start inaugurated works, lengthy agenda, and failure of regular House meetings were brought up at the meeting.

The budget was passed unanimously with an amendment to place Rs 3 crore for development from the allotment made in section of corporation expenditure.

A suggestion was also made for the MC to obtain the income accrued from religious shrines constructed on encroached lands such as public parks. Complaints of green belts being converted into dumping yards and haven for anti-social elements and the menace of stray dogs, pigs and rats also came up at the meeting.

The Mayor announced setting up of 10 more high-mast lights in addition to the two recently installed. The Commissioner said only elected councillors should attend the House meeting.


Juvenile board being set up in Punjab
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, January 28
Nearly three years after the Juvenile Justice (Care and Prevention) Act came into force, the Juvenile Welfare Board is being set up in Punjab. A notification in this regard was issued last week.

According to a senior officer in the Social Welfare Department, the names of members have already been referred to the government after getting the same recommended from the Deputy Commissioners concerned. As of now, Child Welfare Committees have been set up in the state for dealing with juvenile delinquents, confirm sources.

As per it, the state government may, by notification in official gazette, constitute for a district or a group of districts, one or more boards. The board shall consist of a first class Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate, besides two social workers of “whom at least one shall be a woman”.

No Magistrate shall be appointed as a member of the board unless he has special knowledge or training in child psychology, besides welfare. No social worker shall be appointed unless he has been actively involved in health, education, or welfare activities, pertaining to children, for at least seven years.


Road that refuses to stay intact
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 29
The 2.96 km approach roads to the Sirsa river bridge, near Ghanauli, that were constructed at a cost of Rs 3 crore and recently inaugurated by the Union Surface Transport Minister, Maj-General B.C. Khanduri (retd), have developed cracks within two months of their opening. This has happened for the second time.

Earlier, the approach roads had broken completely within one month of their opening. An inquiry was held then and even officers, including two Superintending Engineers, Mr Satnam Singh and Mr Charanjit Singh, and Executive Engineer Vinod Thapar, held responsible, were suspended.

The Chandigarh-based firm that constructed the roads was directed to repair it at its own cost. This was done and the road was opened about a month ago. However, once again the roads have started developing cracks.

The Chief Engineer, National Highway, Mr A.K. Sood, when contacted, said that the company that constructs a national highway has to give a three-year guarantee for it. If these approach roads were giving way, the company responsible would be directed to repair it.

Meanwhile, the post of Executive Engineer in the Ropar Central Works Division is lying vacant since the last incumbent was suspended. It is causing problems for people here who want to carry out construction in the vicinity of the national highway. Only this office is empowered to issue no-objection certificates for construction near the highway.


Magician to focus on drug abuse
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore: If one has a dream and a dauntless spirit, nothing deters one to achieve success. This comes true in the case of magician Sagar, who made it big in life starting from a scratch.

Born to a family of a small-time trader Roor Singh, who migrated from his native village in Rajasthan to this town in search of greener pastures, Sagar got an opportunity to witness magic shows of great magicians like Ching Fungli and Gogia Pasha and was captivated so much that he himself thought of becoming a magician one day. Immensely inspired by their magic shows coupled with deep sense of inquisitiveness, Sagar treaded his path with zeal and vigour, despite the stiff opposition from his family, and finally made it big in the world of magic.

While talking to The Tribune, Sagar narrated his journey from the narrow streets of this small town to the big halls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan where he got an opportunity to perform in front of the President.

Since the school days, Sagar used to actively participate in all functions whenever he got a chance. His journey to fame was not a bed of roses as his fiancee refused to marry him for being a magician. However, at that stage Mr S.H. John and two of his childhood friends, Dr Harbinder Singh and Mr Azad Parkash, provided him much needed help in terms of resources and finance.

It was only in 1982 when Sagar got accredited with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that he got much-needed recognition and support. Thereafter, Sagar gave a number of splendid performances at national and international levels and pocketed several awards, including Jadu Rattan Award, Gogia Pasha Award, UNICEF Award, Magic International Award 2001 and other national awards.

While talking to this correspondent, Sagar narrated amusing incidents when everyone was dumbstruck with his terrific performances. Sagar, who was expert in hypnotising, said the last time he hypnotised a girl was in Jaipur, who later became his wife.

Once, Sagar was travelling in Punjab Mail and entered a reserved compartment. The travelling Ticket Examiner came and asked him to leave the train as his name was not in the reservation chart. But after some time, to his utter surprise, Sagar’s name was found against all berths in that chart, which baffled the TTE.

Sagar believes that magic shows were still a source of great entertainment for the entire family unlike television channels, which showed nothing but obscenity these days. Sagar intends to spread awareness about drug abuse, female foeticide and other social issues through his magic shows to pay back whatever society has given him, in his own magical way.


Sanction loans to poor, says ADC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 29
The district has topped in the state by forming 561 self-help groups to uplift the standard of living of families below the poverty line and the loans have also been disbursed to these groups to start the work, said Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, ADC, while presiding over the meeting of districts’ standing committee of banks at Bachat Bhavan here today. He said besides this 183 more self-help groups would be constituted in the current financial year. He directed all banks to sanction loans on a priority basis to weaker sections of the society under various government sponsored schemes as per the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India, so that they could earn their livelihood and improve their economic conditions.

After taking the stock of the achievements of the banks, he said the banks in the district had not only achieved but exceeded the target of advancing the loans to various sectors for creating more avenues of self-employment.

He said Rs 60 lakh had been advanced as loans under the “Swarn Jyanti Urban Employment Scheme’. Under the “Prime Minister Employment Scheme” 434 cases had been sponsored and out of these 201 cases were sanctioned.

He said khadi village industry had passed various projects and Rs 160.91 lakh had been forwarded as loans in this regard. He said to encourage the dairy farming in the district 20 cases were sanctioned and Rs 36.28 lakh had been advanced for this purpose. He urged the youths to start their own business and not to depend on government for jobs. He said Schedule Corporation had fixed the target to sanction the loans to 480 beneficiaries.

He said Fishries Department had earmarked Rs18.74 lakh to sanction loans, the Dairy Department had sanctioned loans worth Rs107.35 lakh. He directed all government agencies to achieve their target of sanctioning the loans on time.

Mr M.L. Guru, Lead Bank Officer, gave detailed information about the working of the banks in the district and assured that banks would not only achieve the target but also exceed.

Mr C.M. Tripathi, Reserve Bank of India, Mr Ashwani Mahajan AGM, NABARD, Mr G.S. Multani, Chairman, Malwa Gramin Bank, also addressed the gathering.


Steps to check import of infected birds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Animal Husbandry Department has deputed veterinary doctors at Attari border with a view to check the import of eggs, birds and animals, said the Animal Husbandry Minister at a meeting here today.

The department is also in touch with the customs and BSF authorities to implement these directions and meet the threat posed by H5 N1 strains of influenza virus.

Mr Kang said district deputy directors of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore had been asked to take precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease. The guidelines for prevention and control had already been sent to all deputy directors of the state, he added.

The secretary of the department, Mr D.S. Bains , has asked all vets to visit poultry farms in their respective areas and report the findings of their visit to all major farms having chicks numbering 5,000 and above.

A control room with fax No: 2701324 had also been set up in Chandigarh to monitor the surveillance of the disease in the state.

The Director, Mr B.S. Sidhu, said that field and poultry farmers had been told to rush birds with symptoms to regional Disease Diagnostic Lab in Jalandhar.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department, has sought instructions from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi, as to what steps ought to be taken in case of detection of a case of bird flu in the state.


CM to preside over ‘Parkash Utsav’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will preside over the state-level function being held at Patiala on February 6 to celebrate “Parkash Utsav” of Sri Guru Ravi Dass. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Maharshi Valmiki and Sri Guru Ravi Dass Janam Diwas Samaroh Committee held under the chairmanship of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister of Local Government, Labour and Employment and Parliamentary Affairs, here today.

The committee has also decided to organise seminars, symposia, kavi sammelans and debates by eminent scholars in universities and colleges at different places throughout the state to propagate the philosophy and teachings of Sri Guru Ravi Dass. Various publications, including books, pamphlets and brochures depicting various facets of Guru Ravi Dass’s life will also be brought out. 


Amarinder to inaugurate 4 projects today
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 29
As many as four major projects will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister here tomorrow. The projects include widening of the Tangri rivulet, near Budhmore village, construction of a railway overbridge at No. 22 level crossing and organisation of a health camp. As the Central Government plans to dedicate the period from January 15 to February 15 to the spread of awareness regarding health, the state government will organise a three-day health mela at Polo Ground. The Chief Minister will also inaugurate a project near Dhudhan Sadian tomorrow whereby the Tangri rivulet will be widened to a width of nearly 70 metres. Also in the schedule is construction of the long-delayed overbridge which will facilitate commuters using level crossing No. 22 situated in the heart of the city.

The fourth project to be inaugurated tomorrow is Environment Park which is coming up near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran.


Custodial death: thousands attend victim’s bhog ceremony
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 29
A large number of persons from the Sherpur area and leaders of various political parties today attended the bhog ceremony of Ravinder Singh (25), at his native Kala Bula village. Ravinder Singh allegedly died in the police custody on January 18 at Sherpur.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, while addressing gathering at Shardhanjli samaroh, criticised the Punjab Police for its inhuman treatment. He said human rights were being violated by the police.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, convener of the Ravinder Hatiyakand Action Committee, served as ultimatum on the police. He said if the guilty was not arrested in 10 days, dharna by thousands of persons would be staged at the office of the SSP, Barnala.

Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA from Sherpur, said as the police had “failed” in arresting the DSP, the Sherpur SHO and other “guilty” policemen, it seemed that the police was protecting them.


Rs 33 crore for Ghaggar project
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 29
Following the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) by the Central Water Commission for starting the Ghaggar Project to protect the villages near the river, an amount of Rs 33 crore has been approved for the purpose while Rs 142 crore will be spent in all on this project.

This was stated by Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, while addressing a function at Sunam today.

She said she had given Rs 24 lakh from her MP fund for the construction of two bridges on the Ghaggar. With the completion of the Ghaggar Project, loss worth crores of rupees to crops during monsoon would be avoided, she added.

Ms Preneet Kaur distributed cheques for Rs 1 crore among panchayats for development works. She also gave away cheques for Rs 13.60 lakh to 68 scheduled caste persons without houses. She also distributed cheques for Rs 6100 each under the Ashirvad Scheme.

Among those who spoke on the occasion were Mr Sham Singh, Chairman of the Sangrur zila parishad, and Ms Sonia Deepa Arora, a Congress leader.


Govt move on jobs to kin of dead staff flayed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 29
The Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee here today condemned the state government decision to constitute a committee headed by the respective administrative authorities to consider the cases of departments of deceased government employees for giving jobs to their kin on compassionate grounds.

The general secretary of the action committee, Mr Darshan Singh Lubana, said, according to the provisions of the Stationery Service Rules, the competency to consider and offer appointments to the dependents of deceased government employees rest with the Head of Department concerned at district level.

Members of the committee urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to withdraw the instructions and enforce the provisions of the prevalent statutory rules. They added that they would intensify their struggle if the state government failed to resolve the issue.


MC office, octroi posts raided
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 29
A vigilance team of the Local Self Government raided the office of the Municipal Council, Sirhind, and octroi posts and took the record of the octroi contractors in their custody. The raid was conducted on the complaint of Mr Amarjit Singh Dhingra, a Congress leader. Mr Dhingra had alleged that the contractors were not only harassing the traders, but also fleecing vehicle owners, specially during night, by issuing unauthorised transit passes. This is causing a great loss to the council and the government. However, what transpired during the raids is not yet known.

Mr Mehta, Executive Officer of the council, confirmed that the vigilance team of the Directorate had come to verify the complaint of a trader against an Octroi contractor. He refused to give the details and said the team was verifying the record. He had been receiving complaints against the octroi contractors, he admitted.


Traders close shops in protest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 29
Shopkeepers who run business establishments on both sides of Railway Crossing Number 22, where work on the construction of an overbridge is to start tomorrow, today closed their shops to protest against the decision to close the level crossing for vehicular traffic once the work on the overbridge started.

The shopkeepers, who have an association of their own, have decided to close their shops tomorrow also when the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, arrives to inaugurate the work on the project. Association president Joginder Singh Kohli said the shopkeepers would not stage any vocal protest on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the entire market on both sides of the level crossing remained closed today. The shopkeepers’ association claims that the district administration had assured them that it would take up the case of keeping the level crossing open once the overbridge is built with the railway authorities, but nothing came off it.

The shopkeepers are likely to request Capt Amarinder Singh to take up their case with the railway authorities.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh today disclosed that it was the norm of the Railways to close down the crossing over which an overbridge was made.

He said the administration was, however, abreast of the other issues of the shopkeepers. He said keeping in view their demand for speedy construction of the overbridge, the contractors had been given a nine-month span to complete work on the project. 


Truck operators hold rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 29
A large number of truck operators and drivers of the local truck union today took out a protest march through the town and held a rally under the presidentship of Mr Balwinder Singh Kherri, president of the truck union, in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here.

They alleged that the administration had forcibly ousted them from the truck union complex last night with the help of the police and later demolished the office of the truck union with a bulldozer.

They raised slogans against the Sangrur MLA and the Deputy Commissioner, holding them responsible for last night’s incident.

Later, the protesters also staged a demonstration in front of the residence of Mr Arvind Khanna, local MLA.


Rice millers go on strike
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 29
The rice millers in the district on a call by the State Rice Millers Association have closed their rice mills and stopped milling of government paddy for an indefinite period.

Mr Tarsem Saini, state president of the association, while talking to The Tribune said that the millers had gone on an indefinite strike as the state government had failed to implement the conceded demands of the association. He said that a delegation of the association had met the Chief Minister earlier and he had agreed that the state government would charge the rates of bardana for 2001-2002 on “ economic price” charges. He said that though the Chief Minister had conceded this demand, it had not yet been implemented.

He appealed to the Chief Minister to implement the already conceded demands and abolish the sales tax on byproducts so that the rice millers may run their mills smoothly, otherwise they would be forced to continue their strike. He said that he would call a meeting of the general body within two days to further intensify the agitation.


Autorickshaw drivers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 29
Autorickshaw drivers observed a strike in Amritsar district in support of their demands and held a district-level rally here today. They later held a march in the town.

The protesters were addressed among others by Mr Ramsharan Pal, district president of the Amritsar Autorickshaw Dal. Mr Pal condemned the Transport Department for harassing them for no fault of theirs and demanded that they be issued permits. Autorickshaw drivers from Ajnala, Baba Bakala, Bhikhiwind, Patti, Khadoor Sahib, Jandiala Guru and other parts of the district took part in the protest march.


PCR mobile service launched
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 29
To check anti-social elements, control law and order, streamline traffic and to provide quick help to the need, the district police launched the police control room mobile service in Hoshiarpur city and the sub-urban areas here today.

Mr Dinkar Gupta, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Jalandhar Range, launched the PCR mobile service at the local Police Ground.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, Hoshiarpur, said the city had been divided into 15 beats where 15 motor cycles would do round-the-clock patrolling.


High court restrains human rights panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Acting on a petition filed by an Amritsar resident claiming that the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had ordered investigation in a case without jurisdiction, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the Commission from passing further orders in the matter. The orders were passed by the Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy.

In his petition against the Commission, state of Punjab and other respondents, Sukhwinder Singh Gill had earlier stated that a complaint was filed “much after the expiry of one year from the date of alleged act, but still the complaint was entertained and investigation was ordered in violation of the Human Rights Act”.

He added that the Commission did not stop the proceedings even after documents showing the correct position were placed before it. Going into the background of the case, the petitioner claimed that a false and frivolous complaint was filed by a respondent with whom he had entered into a deal for sale of a house.


Judicial remand for IT officer
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 29
The Special CBI court today sent Income Tax Officer T.R. Sharma, who had been arrested in Ludhiana yesterday after being caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 15,000, to judicial custody till February 12.

The officer, who was to retire on January 31, was presented in the Special CBI court this afternoon.

He is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 15,000 from Neeraj Chawla of Ludhiana.


4 PCS officers transferred

Chandigarh, January 29
The Punjab Government today transferred four PCS officers.

Mr Gurmel Singh has been posted as Additional Secretary, Social Security, Women and Children Development; and Ms Kiran Rosy as Secretary, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, relieving Mr S.S. Bajwa of the additional charge. Mr Arvind Pal Singh Sandhu has been posted as Joint Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, and Mr Bikramjit Singh Bajwa as Assistant Commissioner (General) at Amritsar. — TNS


Kalanaur police station transferred to Gurdaspur
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
The Kalanaur police station, which covers 108 villages of Gurdaspur has been tranferred from Batala police district to Gurdaspur police district. A notification to this effect was issued by the state government today, conceding the long-pending demand of residents of Kalanaur.

According to Mr Kanwal Bakshi, state president the Punjab Christian Front, it would save residents of villages concerned from unnecessary harassment. He said the Kalanaur police district was attached to Batala when it was carved out as a separate police district.


909 Panchayat Secys to be reappointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today that 909 Panchayat Secretaries, who were removed from service a few years ago, would be reappointed. The government would start giving appointment letters to them from tomorrow, she added.


Man injured in firing

Tarn Taran, January 29
Ranjit Singh, Jaspal Singh, Gurbhej Singh and Kaka Singh, all residents of Valipur village allegedly fired at the house of Ravinder Pal Singh of the village last night.

Ravinder was injured in the incident.

The police has registered a case under Section 452, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC.

A land dispute is said to be the cause of the firing.


Robbers assault man, take away Rs 5,000
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 29
A group of robbers assaulted a painter in Variayana village, near here, and took away Rs 5000 at gunpoint from him last night.

The incident has caused panic among residents of Variayana and adjoining villages. Residents alleged that the police had failed to take strict action against anti-social elements.

According to the police, the victim, identified as Sunil Kumar of the Nandanpur colony, was on his way home when a group of masked robbers overpowered him near the Variayana village chowk on the Kapurthala road and took to the nearby fields.

Sunil reportedly identified one of the robbers, thus infuriating them. They beat him up mercilessly and left him in an unconscious state in the fields. He has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. A case has been registered.


Man held on charges of rape, fraud
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 29
The police has arrested a rape accused who had fled Sirhind after raping a minor studying in Class VIII there. The police has obtained a two-day police remand of the accused.

According to the police, Balwinder Singh, alias Billa, had been cheating and blackmailing people in Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib by posing as an employee of the DC office assigned with the task of sanctioning loans to persons of weaker sections of society for constructing houses. Billa used to sit at the Court Complex, Fatehgarh Sahib, and used to fill in forms of those, who wanted to get loans for houses by charging Rs 150 per form. He had started visiting mohallas in this connection.

Sources said Billa was earlier the cook at the house of a woman judge in Chandigarh. He had committed a burglary at her residence and she had lodged an FIR. After staying in jail for some time, he had started cheating people on the pretext of sanctioning loans.


Boy, girl commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 29
A schoolgirl of Nai Abadi here and a boy of Dharampura village died yesterday at the Civil Hospital here after reportedly taking poison, sources said.


Engineering college for rural youth
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 29
Introducing a unique concept in technical education, this township near Bathinda is all set to have an engineering college where some of the students will be admitted from rural areas directly after matriculation.

Disclosing this here today, the head of Punjabi University’s campus here, Dr Prem Kumar, said the engineering college was scheduled to begin from the next academic session.

Named Yadvindra College of Engineering, this is stated to be first college of its kind in the country. “It is apparent that over a period of time, rural youth has lagged behind their urban counterparts in higher and technical education,” Dr Kumar said. “With this experiment, we hope to correct this trend,” he added.

The concept envisions that some of the students would be enrolled directly after they complete their matriculation. They would then have to complete their Class XII from this college before they can pursue their engineering degree. Candidates would be required to have at least 50 per cent marks in Class X and admission would be based on an entrance test. For regular candidates, who apply after completing Class XII, admission will be based on the CET.

The foundation stone of the college will be laid by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his visit here on February 5.

The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, Mr S.S. Boparai, the university’s Dean Academic Affairs, Prof U.C. Singh, and other university officials visited the campus today to oversee the project and also to work out the modalities of the Chief Minister’s visit. The Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kapil Dev, were also present.

Dr Prem Singh said the upcoming college would have four branches, including electronics, electrical communication, computer science and mechanical engineering. About Rs 5 crore has been spent on the college infrastructure and a recurring expenditure of Rs 4 crore over the next four years is estimated.

Intake would be 60 students for each branch, though the exact ratio between Class X and Class XII entrants is yet to be worked out.

A hostel is also coming up within the campus, which, when completed, would have a strength of 800 students. Rs 50 lakh has already been sanctioned for it. About 75 per cent of students would be hostel residents.


Seminar on career options held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 29
The Commerce Association of Government Rajindra College today held a paper reading and awareness seminar on “Career options for commerce graduates, privatisation of education and role of computers in today’s life”.

Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bhattal, Principal of the college, in a press note issued here today, said students from local colleges participated in the seminar.

The students stressed the need to educate people about the relevance of computers in modern life. They said after the computerisation of departments, efficiency had improved.

They analysed effects of privatisation of the education sector and concluded that this would place education out of the reach of many deserving students. They, however, added that the quality of education, especially in technical and medical fields, might improve.

Prerna of SSD Girls’ College stood first, Geetika and Pallavi Mittal of Government Rajindra College stood second and third, respectively. Rahul Devgun also got the third position.

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