P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pope supports Sikhs on turban issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The government cannot be an arbiter in any religious matter. Rather it should respect the dignity of the human person and of his inalienable rights among which his right to adhere, practise and propagate his religion is fundamental. No government should interfere with the inner core of any religion.

These observations have been made by Pope John Paul in reference to laws which the French Government proposes to make to enforce secularism.

“Secularity is not secularism! It is nothing other than respect for all beliefs on the part of the state that assures the free exercise of ritual, spiritual and cultural and charitable activities by communities of believers,” says Pope in a communication to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, who has been in correspondence with the Vatican through Mr Monsignor Felix A. Machado, Secretary of Poncciatol Council of Inter-Religious Dialogue, over the proposed French legislation banning Sikh students from sporting turbans or other religious wear.

Various Sikh organisations have given a call for a demonstration in Paris tomorrow to convince the French government for dropping the proposed legislation. Mr Tarlochan Singh had sought intervention of the Pope in the matter.


Hans Raj Hans not allowed to cross Wagah
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
As there was a scramble among Congress MLAs and bureaucrats to accompany Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to Lahore, several names were deleted from the list to conform to the number indicated by the Prime Minister’s office. Three bureaucrats — Mr Suresh Kumar, Mr Subodh Aggarwal, Mr Himat Singh — volunteered to opt out of the official delegation to accommodate some ministers.

Industrialist Kewal Dhillon, MLA O.P. Saini and singer Hans Raj Hans were not allowed to cross Wagah yesterday as they did not have proper permission. All of them were, however, invited to the conference. They have been told to board Samjhauta Express because to cross Wagah, either special permission is required or one has to be 65 years old. The state was trying to help Hans Raj Hans proceed to Lahore.

Sources clarified that the Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, was not leading any delegation, as all 145-odd persons, who went to Pakistan yesterday, had received invitations in their personal capacity. The Chief Minister is expected to return to India on Sunday.


Cong misrule SAD poll plank: Sukhbir

Moga, January 30
The main plank of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections will be corruption and misrule of the Congress government in Punjab. This was stated by SAD general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Badal at a news conference here today. He said the Congress government “in the guise of anti-corruption campaign had initiated framed-up cases against the Akalis.”

He said SAD favoured sacking of the Amarinder government before the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Badal said SAD had geared up for the Lok Sabha elections. The Youth Akali Dal would hold a rally at Ludhiana on February 16 as part of the launching of the election campaign. This would be addressed by Mr Pramod Mahajan, Mr Omar Abdullah, Mr Uday Thackrey, Mr Ashok Pradhan, Mr Ajay Chautala and Mr Shanawaz Hussain Khan, among others, he added. — UNI


Tribune Impact
Molestation of woman: 4 held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 30
The Gurdaspur police has arrested four henchmen of a wine contractor in connection with the alleged molestation and beating up of a woman in Dhariwal. Meanwhile, the District Magistrate, Gurdaspur, Mr Harjit Singh, has ordered a probe into the incident.

At a District Grievances Meeting held at Gurdaspur, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Minister, Irrigation, directed the officials concerned that raids on bootleggers must be conducted with the help of the Excise Department and the police. He said no henchmen would be allowed to conduct such “illegal raids”, leading to unsavoury situations.

The police arrested four accused, Harbans Singh Mukhtyar Singh, Sushil Kumar and Sucha Singh, under Section 354 outraging the modesty of a woman, and 149 of the IPC. It said the rest of the accused would shortly be arrested.


Remembering “Gandhi” of Doaba
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
Many, including the Congress leaders and workers, may not even remember who was Pt Mool Raj Sharma. Some old-timers, however, still refer to him as the ''Doaba ka Gandhi''. His death anniversary falls tomorrow. He had passed away in 1983.

On his death, the late President, Giani Zail Singh, had paid warm tributes by describing him as the ''founder and pillar'' of Congress in the Doaba region of Punjab. That ''Panditji'', as he was called, was ahead of his times, is evident from the fact that he had arranged re-marriage of nearly 3,000 widows, between 1924 and 1939, against all social and religious opposition. He, in ways more than one, was a hard core reformist of the 20th century, recall some of his associates. All through his life, Panditji fought against social taboos.

One of them, Geetesh Gohul, says that likes of Panditji was the need of the day, when the county was passing through a period when moral values have lost their relevance and the need was for persons like him, who were not ''self-promoters or greedy'' for political power.

Panditji had got involved in the freedom movement when he was just 27. There was no looking back. He had joined the protest against the Rowlett Bill, when Mahatma Gandhi was at the centre-stage of the national freedom movement. Panditji had spent eight years in jail.

During his political and social life, Panditji was elected President of the Jalandhar District Congress Committee four times and remained in the city Congress for 22 years. It was his simplicity that had earned him the tag of ''Doaba Ka Gandhi''.


Martyrs' Day observed
Tribune Reporters

HOSHIARPUR: To pay homage to the martyrs, who laid down their lives during the freedom struggle of the country, a function was organised at the local zila parishad complex on Friday. A contingent of the police reversed its firearms and other participants observed a two-minute silence to pay tributes to the martyrs.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, and many other government officers garlanded a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. While paying tributes to the martyrs, Mr Bhullar said Mahatma Gandhi adopted the path of non-violence to get freedom from the British rulers. He appealed to the people to adopt the Gandhian ideology of leading a simple and a disciplined life.

PANTHANKOT: A two-minute silence was observed to pay homage to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on Friday at the SDM’s office here. Mr Puneet Goyal, SDM, Mr Dharamvir, DSP, Mr Amarjeet Singh, Tehsildar and Master Mohan Lal, former Punjab minister, were among those present.

KAPURTHALA: Mr Arun Jalota, former senior vice-president of the District Congress Committee has demanded the installation of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Shalimar Garden. He has also demanded that the local Jallowkhana chowk should be named after Mahatma Gandhi.

These demands were made at a meeting of workers of the Congress organised at the local office of block Congress at the Jallowkhana chowk to observe ‘balidan divas’.

Tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi and other martyrs of the country and a two-minute silence was also observed.

AMRITSAR: Tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi on his martyrdom day at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Among others, the Minister of local Bodies, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, paid tributes to the Father of the Nation.


Mohan Singh is Addl Head Granthi of
Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 30
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee today appointed Giani Mohan Singh Additional Head Granthi of the Golden Temple. Confirming the appointment, the honorary chief secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, said Giani Mohan Singh would take the charge soon.

Giani Mohan Singh had retired as Head Granthi of the Golden Temple. The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission had ruled that all employees of the SGPC have to retire at the age of 60 or after reaching the age of superannuation. But Mr Calcutta claimed that this condition did not apply to the granthis and in case of Giani Mohan Singh the SGPC could make an exception.


Construction of railway overbridge begins
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 30
Construction of an overbridge over Railway Crossing No. 22 started today with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, inaugurating the work.

The Chief Minister disclosed after the formal ceremony that the contractor of the project had been directed to complete the overbridge within nine months under all circumstances. Mayor Vishnu Sharma said that approach roads, which would be used to go to Railway Crossing No. 21, would be broadened.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the total cost of the overbridge, including the cost of approach roads and the improvement of the road near Leela Bhavan would come to Rs 11 crore. He said the cost of construction of the railway portion and approach roads would be shared by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and the Railways. The total length of approaches on both sides is 620 metres.

Mr Tejveer Singh said a similar project for quicker movement of traffic by constructing a four-lane railway overbridge over Railway Crossing No. 21 had already been submitted to the Ministry of Railways for its concurrence and inclusion in its work programme.

Shopkeepers on both sides of Railway Crossing No. 22, meanwhile, downed their shutters during the period when the Chief Minister was at the site in connection with the inauguration of work. The shopkeepers opened their establishments later. They have decided to approach Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and the Chief Minister again to ensure that the crossing remained open for vehicular traffic later.


Police starts helplines
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 30
Taking an initiative to come closer to masses and build up its image, the Bathinda police has started helplines for women, children and senior citizens.

Senior Superintendent of Police Kapil Dev said the police had made available its services to solve problems of the oppressed at a specially created cell in the mini secretariat building. Police personnel would be in plain clothes and the environment of the centre people-friendly, he added.

Apart from providing services like passport verification, arms licence, character verification and police clearance certificates, the Community Police Resource Centre would also provide a data bank for old vehicles to check the sale of stolen vehicles.

Helplines include traffic helpline on telephone number 103, child helpline on telephone number 1091, women helpline on telephone number 1098 and Community Police Resource Centre helpline on telephone number 2240680.

Mr Dev said the police was receiving at least 200 calls everyday on different helplines. He said the effort of the police was to reach out to the common man and help improve the image of policemen.


Gaushala set up to curb stray cattle menace

Moga, January 30
Stray cattle will no longer be a menace in the streets here as the district administration has finally found a solution to this problem.

For the first time in the state by the joint efforts of the district administration, non-government organisations (NGOs), the nagar council, the market committee and the Department of Animal Husbandry, a comprehensive programme has been formulated.

Under this programme, an open gaushala has been set up in a space provided by the Moga marketing committee and more than 3,500 stray head of cattle have been detained there for the past three weeks.

According to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar, health care has been provided to these stray animals as per a decision of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Steps were also being taken to stop further breeding of these animals, he pointed out.

A team of Animal Husbandry doctors, headed by Deputy Director Raghbir Singh, castrated 232 male stray head of cattle at a special camp. Two hundred male calves will be castrated within the next three or four days and then 400 bulls within a week.

Dr Raghbir Singh said as per the policy of the state government’s Department of Animal Husbandry, this programme would continue and extended to the rural areas.

He further added that these initial steps were yielding positive results. — UNI


Avail benefits under govt schemes, says
Bir Devinder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 30
Grants for development works will be given to villages without any discrimination so that better facilities could be provided in these areas.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, at a meeting with district officials and sarpanches and panches of a number of villages here today.

The aim of the meeting was to educate sarpanches and panches about development programmes and welfare schemes of the government. He appealed to them to avail the necessary information regarding various schemes so that the people of villages were able to take maximum advantage.


23 lakh for welfare of ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 30
The Punjab Government has released Rs 23 lakh for various welfare schemes for the ex-servicemen and their dependents in the district, according to the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain.

Earlier after chairing the quarterly meeting of the District Sanik Welfare Board, Ms Jain said that in the past six months Rs 3.75 lakh had been spent on the welfare of ex-servicemen. Besides, the families of 25 martyrs from the district had been issued an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh each. In 18 cases the dependents of martyrs had been issued Rs 5 lakh each in lieu of residential plots. In other cases, two dependents of martyrs have been appointed against class 1 posts, four against class III and eight against class IV posts. Three such families have been allotted petrol station and one gas agency.

At the meeting, the Deputy Commissioner directed the district employment office to rehabilitate the families of martyrs in the public sector. Brig Harbant Singh said that the Western Command had decided to help the families of poor ex-servicemen.


Surjit enthrals gathering
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 30
Punjabi folk singer and an alumni of the college, Surjit Khan, enthralled the audience with his hit numbers on the first annual function, “Nostalgia-2004,” organised by the Old Students Association (OSA) of Government Degree College, Dera Bassi, here today. Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, laid the foundation stone of Students Centre on the college premises and granted Rs 5 lakh for its construction.


High Court
Contract teachers allowed to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
Taking up a petition filed by contract teachers, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, has directed the Punjab School Education Board and another respondent to allow the petitioners to continue in service till regular appointments were made.

Issuing the directions on the petition filed by Tek Singh of Amritsar district and two other petitioners, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, added that the petitioners would continue on the same terms and conditions mentioned in their appointment letters. The Judges, however, made it clear that the petitioners would not get salary for the period "they remained unemployed on account of the respondents".

In their detailed order, the Judges observed: "We find that the matter is covered by a Division Bench.... We accordingly dispose of the writ petition with a direction to the respondents that till regular appointments are made, the petitioners would continue in service...."

In their petition against the Board and the Principal of Adarsh Senior Secondary School in Dhar-Deo Butter, the petitioners had earlier contended that the respondents should be restrained from terminating their services.

Mann’s plea dismissed

In just over a week after three alleged assassins of Punjab's former Chief Minister Beant Singh tunnelled their way out of Burail Jail, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed a petition filed by Member of Parliament Simranjit Singh Mann claiming that the police officers were wrongly arrested.

Mr Mann, in his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, had earlier contended that the directions issued by the Apex Court regarding the arrest of the accused in D.K. Basu's case had not been followed by the police.

Bail granted in triple murder case

Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted bail to a Sirhind resident in a triple murder case after holding that the petitioner's name had not figured in the initial investigations carried out by the Punjab Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, Amritpal Singh of Sirhind, in his petition, had earlier contended that his name had surfaced in the case at a later stage. He had added that in fact no one had been named in the first information report (FIR).

Going into the background, he had asserted that the FIR was registered in the matter on April 11, 1996, after the murder of Kamal Mohan Singh, Navjeevan Kaur and Manjeet Kaur.

CBI statement in sex scam case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today stated before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that no one would be allowed to go scot free in the Amritsar sex scam.

Appearing before the Bench, counsel for the CBI Rajan Gupta asserted that no one would the falsely implicated in the case. After hearing his statement, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice V.M. Jain, disposed of an application filed by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation.


Grewal’s bail plea rejected

Ropar, January 30
The special Judge here, Mr SK Goel, today rejected the bail application of Gurpinder Singh Grewal, a co-accused in the disproportionate assets case registered against the Badals by the Punjab Vigilance.

In another case, the order on the bail application of Gurnihal Singh Pirzada, an IAS officer arrested by the Punjab Vigilance in a corruption case, was reserved for tomorrow. The arguments on the bail application of Prizada were completed today. — OC


Dalit Sena chief booked for assaulting relative
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 30
The district police has booked Dalit Sena chief Kiranjit Singh Gehri, his brother Jagdip Singh and Gurtej Singh Kandiari for allegedly beating up and threatening Kuldip Singh. A case under various sections of the IPC has been registered against them in this regard.

The incident took place on the night of January 27 at Kuldip Singh’s residence in Jiwan Nagar here. Kuldip is stated to be Gheri’s brother-in-law and is a teacher in Government High School, Sardargarh. The victim sustained serious injuries and has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


One killed in accident

Bathinda, January 30
A cyclist, Bhola, was killed after he was knocked down by a jeep near Kotshamir village last night. He was a resident of the same village.

According to the police, Bhola was rushed to a hospital in a critical state, where he succumbed to injuries. The police has registered a case.

In another incident, a resident of Ludhiana, Krishan Kumar, has complained that three unknown persons, who had hired his car to go to Bathinda, assaulted him and took away his car along with Rs 900.

According to the victim, the accused had promised him Rs 110 as fare. When the car approached Phullo Kheri village, they forced him to stop the vehicle and assaulted him. The police has registered a case. — TNS


Decision soon on PTU students
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 30
The Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, Mr Mahinder Singh Kaypee, today told The Tribune that a decision in favour of the 1400 students of PTU, who are facing uncertainty due to confusion over promotion rule, will be taken soon. He said he had recently been apprised of the problem and a meeting with the PTU Vice Chancellor will be held.

On the other hand the Registrar of the University Mr M.S. Grewal, said a decision in favour of the students was acceptable provided it was in line with the university's aim to improve the quality of education. He further reiterated that the University would admit only those students to the sixth semester who had cleared all subjects of the first semester. ‘‘Those who fail will not be admitted,’’ he pointed out while informing that the university had declared some results of the fifth semester examination of its 2001 batch today and would be declaring the remaining results in a day or two to end the uncertainty among these students.

About 1400 students of the university are facing a unique situation wherein many of them are not being allowed to attend classes of the sixth semester till the results of the fifth semester are declared. The students had to ride over the promotion rule laid down by the university during the fifth semester examination.

It is also learnt that the matter had been brought to the notice of Chief minister Amarinder Singh and the Chief Secretary, Mr J.S. Gill. Meanwhile sources in PTU stated that the university was trying its best to declare the results of these students as soon as possible and allow all those who pass the examinations into the next semester. "This will ensure that the unity of the 1400 students breaks and there is no real threat of a strike," said a PTU employee.


School Principal defies transfer orders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 30
Despite more than two months having elapsed since the transfer orders were issued for Mr Sarbjot Singh Gill, he continues to function as the Principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Chheharta, in defiance of the orders issued by the state Education Department.

The District Education Officer (Secondary) on January 12 wrote to the Education Secretary that the Principal had not joined duty at his new place of posting despite being served the transfer orders for joining at Government Senior School, Ramdass (Ajnala).

However, despite the DEO’s reply to the state Education Department regarding the non-compliance of orders against a vacant post issued on November 19 to Mr Sarbjot Singh last year, the latter continues to function as the Principal in the school.

Although the orders clearly stated that the transfer was “with immediate effect” and “in public interest”, Mr Sarbjot Singh continues to defy the orders. The Principal refused to comment on the issue.

He was charged with giving corporal punishment to school students in October last year following which an inquiry was ordered. Subsequently he was transferred.


Remove gender inequality, says Verma
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 30
While appreciating the role of modern women in building a prosperous society in the present context, the Punjab Governor and Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), today stressed upon the need to ensure proper education facilities for women at the grassroots level to remove inequality on gender basis.

Justice Verma, who was speaking during the convocation of Hans Raj Mahila Mahavidyalaya here, said girls were fast capturing key positions in government and society due to their inbuilt capability to produce better results as compared to their male counterparts.

The Principal of the college, Ms P.P. Sharma, said 34 students had been selected for admission into different medical and engineering colleges last year while on the basis of academic excellence three of their students, Lovleen Gupta, Poonam Dalia and Anupam, had been nominated to the senate of Guru Nanak Dev University recently. Later, Justice Verma conferred degrees upon 914 students who passed out their graduate and post-graduate courses during 2002-2003. Ten students, who topped the university exams, were honoured with gold medals. Others who were present included Dr C. Parkash, vice-president of the DAV College Managing Committee.


Study Centre Open Schools planned

Faridkot, January 30
Under its informal education scheme, the Punjab government plans to set up Study Centre Open Schools for senior secondary classes for those who are unable to attend regular classes.

Initially two groups of humanities and commerce comprising 22 subjects will be introduced and each new entrant will be asked to take up four subjects along with Punjabi as elective subject.

Students will be given prepared notes of each subject with a break of three months each like in July, October and December to complete their courses with the help of teachers or at their places . However, they will have to attend the centre for 20 days from December 3 under the personal contact programme. They will have to attend the school for 40 days prescribed by the principal of the institution for practicals. Moreover, if any student clears one or two subjects in the annual examination he or she be given five chances to appear in the next examination to clear remaining subjects.

Disclosing this here yesterday, Mr Jagdish Rai Sharma, president, Recognised Schools Affiliation, Association, Punjab, and Principal, M.R.S.D. Senior Secondary School, said a student will get admission by paying a fee of Rs 800. The centres are likely to start function from the next academic year only in those senior secondary schools which will be affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board or be recognised by the state government.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |