P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong leader denies BJP’s petro-bribe charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
AICC spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar today termed the BJP’s allegations against Congress leaders of taking bribe Rs 150 crore from former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as “baseless and a political conspiracy” to malign the Congress image.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Kumar said, “I dismiss it with contempt it deserves. Besides, the sole motive behind this attempt, is to defame the Congress right before the parliamentary elections.”

He was responding to the allegations of BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi yesterday who claimed that an Iraqi newspaper had published the list of 46 organisations and individuals from the world, including two beneficiaries from the Congress who received bribe of oil worth Rs 150 crore from ousted President of Iraq Saddam Hussein.

Attacking the NDA government for raising the slogan “India Shining” he quipped, “Where is India shining whether the problems like unemployment, population have been solved?

Asked why the party had not projected AICC president Sonia Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate, he said, “Since, we have already entered into an alliance with 19 political parties, we think the issue should be decided by all coalition partners after winning the election. No doubt Soniaji is an undisputed candidate to be decided by the countrymen,”

Rejecting the national security and foreign policy as main poll issues he said that the real issues before the public were secularism, economic development, national integration and employment opportunities, which would be raised by his party.

Justifying the party’s alliance with the DMK which had been considered close to LTTE ranks, allegedly behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Mr Kumar said that as the Jain Commission, had already given a clean chit to the DMK on the issue, the party had no hitch in forging an alliance with the DMK.

On the possible alliance with the BSP, he said that talks were already on with Ms Mayawati and very soon everything would be clear, as far as alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh is concerned, we welcome him also if he has no objection for our alliance with BSP, “ he added.

Asked whether there would be any changes in the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, he maintained that party would do everything which is required to strengthen the party well before the election.

He said that the Congress would hold a state-level convention of its intellectuals’ cell at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall here on February 15. The objective of the convention was to apprise the intellectuals of state with the ideology of the party and the topic of the convention in Punjab would be “Lok Sabha election 2004 — Issues before the nation and the role of intellectuals, he added.

The Chief Minister of Punjab would be the chief guest of the convention, which would also be attended by Ms Mohsina, Kidwai, AICC General Secretary and in charge of the party’s affairs in the state alongwith all the ministers and MLAs of the state.


BJP for more share in seats
Sarbit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The BJP has started negotiations with the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on the sharing of seats for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Punjab. Informed sources said that one informal meeting in this connection had already been held among Mr Badal and senior leaders of the party.

Sources said the top leaders of the BJP, who met the national President, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, here yesterday, apprised him about the progress in talks with SAD. The BJP, which contested three lok Sabha seats, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur, last time and won only the Gurdaspur seat, is now staking claim to two more seats — Phillaur and Ferozepore. Sources said that Mr Avinash Khanna, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, had requested Mr Naidu to build pressure on Mr Badal through the national leadership to allot these two seats in addition to the earlier three seats to the BJP in the state.

From Amritsar, the BJP had last time put up Mr Daya Singh Sodhi. He was defeated by Mr R.L. Bhatia, a senior Congress leader, who is a strong candidate now for the Presidentship of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee ( PPCC). From Hoshiarpur, Mr Kamal Chowdhary was the party’s candidate and he was defeated by Mr Charanjit Singh Channi of the Congress. In Gurdaspur, the BJP’s candidate, Mr Venod Khanna, had defeated, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, a Congress leader strongly entrenched in the constituency.

Sources said that there was a social reason to seek the Phillaur and Ferozepore constituency from the SAD. From Phillaur, the BJP wanted to put up some Scheduled Caste candidate as the constituency is reserve. The BJP, which had last time put up all candidates from so-caled upper castes, this time does not want to give the impression that it is a party of only such castes. Mr Viajy Sampla, General Secretary of the BJP, is said to be keen to contest from Phillaur. From Ferozepore, the BJP wanted to put up a candidate belonging to the Backward classes. Source said that for negotiations with Mr Badal, the BJP had assigned the task to Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Mr Swarana Ram, Mr Rajinder Bhandari and Mr Vijay Sampla, who are all senior leaders of the party.

Sources said the BJP had decided to hold a two-day “Jawab do padyatra” from Amritsar to Chandigarh on February 26 and 27, to coincide it with the Amarinder Singh Government completing its two years in office. Sources said that during the two days, the BJP would ask questions regarding the non-fulfillment of various promises made to the people on the eve of the last Assembly elections by the ruling party in the state. Hence the march has been named as “Jawab do”.

The party would also hold rallies at Phagwara on February 15, at Hoshiarpur on February 18, at Ferozepore on February 21, Amritsar on February 22, Pathankot on February 24. Besides, the BJP would start a signature campaign against Capt Amarinder Singh Government in the state. A human chain would be formed by all 160 Mandal Presidents of the BJP from Punjab in Chandigarh. The Mandal Presidents would also be carrying banners etc. Mr Arun Shourie and Arun Jaitley would soon visit Punjab to address meetings of advocates, college and university teachers, doctors and other important sections of society in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Pathankot and Hoshiarpur.


Rally held against NRI bridegrooms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Victims of marriages with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), recently appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to come to their rescue in the ordeals being faced by them in life.

Narrating their tales of woes on how their dreams to marry an NRI turned into nightmares, these women alleged while their husbands had left them to their fate, their in-laws had also managed to force them out of their homes. Since they had no one to turn to, they were running from pillar to post.

A large number of such women, who had been betrayed by their NRI husbands and whose parents were being tortured for dowry had gathered at Matka Chowk to participate in the protest dharna. Talking to TNS, they said that on the one hand they had been betrayed by their husbands in the prime of their youth, on the other when they took their complaints to the authorities concerned, they simply did not take note of it.

Purva, a resident of Surajpur near Pinjore here, who was married to UK-based Mr Rakesh Gupta in 2003, said that it was from the UK Embassy that she got to know that her husband was already married four times before. She had lodged an FIR with the police on being cheated by her husband and he was arrested also once, but only to return to England soon after. She has demanded that her husband should be arrested and justice be given to her.

Her father, Mr K.K Sharma, who is an Assistant Public Relations Officer (APRO) in the Punjab Government, broke down saying that he had three daughters and with the marriage of the very first turning sour, he does not know where to go? “With great difficulty I had spent Rs 5 lakh on the marriage, but there is darkness all around”, he said.

Ms Kamaljit Kaur, who had married Harjinder Singh Tony of Bullowal village in Machchiwara in Ropar district seven years ago, alleged that she used to be beaten up by her husband, who was a drug addict and that her in-laws turned her out of the house after he left for the UK. She has been staying with her parents for nearly one and half years now and has even lodged a case with the police. She too wants that her husband should be brought back and action taken accordingly.

Similarly, Ms Kulwant Kaur ( 25) of Jeera, who was married to Mr Kuldip Singh of Santuwala village in Ferozepore district, pointed out that the going had been very difficult for her ever since her husband left for Canada leaving her behind. The in-laws have not been giving her any money for sustenance even as she had a four-year-old daughter. She too wants him to be called back and dealt with even as her mother-in-law wants her to be married elsewhere.

These are not stray cases, as there are reports of at least 12,000 such cases from Punjab alone facing tough times at the cost of negligence by their NRI spouses. They were of the view that parents should verify the credentials of the NRI grooms well and proper before marrying off their daughters to them.

Former Union Minister and President of the Lok Bhalai Party, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, while condemning the attitude of the NRI grooms towards young Punjabi girls, said his party had been championing their cause and would continue to do so till a solution was found to the problem and the guilty were punished. He claimed that about 1,100 such cases had been successfully handled.

The others who vociferously put across their point of view were Ms Prabhjot Kaur of the Khalsa College for Women, Chandigarh; Mr Rajinder Singh, convener of the Khalsa Panchayat, Poonam of Preet Lari and Talwinder Singh. They reiterated that registration of complaints by the girls who were victims of such marriages should be made within 15 days.


NRIs exhorted to set up industrial units in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 2
The local branch of Punjab National Bank organised an NRI meet at Bazid Palace here. A large number of NRIs and their relatives attended it.

Mr Chand Singh, Deputy Zonal Manager, Punjab Zone, while presiding over the meet, said about 30 per cent of NRIs belonged to Punjab and bank had brought more than 200 branches on Central Banking Solution for the convenience of Punjabi NRIs. Under this scheme, the customers could operate their account from other linked branches at New Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur and Jaipur, among others. The bank would bring a few branches of Nawanshahr district under this system shortly, he added.

Mr A.K. Rangbulla, Chief Manager, regional office, Jalandhar, exhorted the NRIs to explore the feasibility of establishing industrial units in Punjab which had vast potential for agro-based and food processing industry. The NRIs could bring the latest technology and the raw material was abundantly available here for successfully running the industry, he added.

Mr S.D. Sharma, General Manager, District Industries Centre, made the NRIs aware of the incentives being provided by the state government for establishing industrial units in the state.


PSEB to issue fresh notices to defaulters
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
The cash-strapped Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to issue fresh notices to recover over Rs 19 crore due from 40 government offices falling in North Zone while these offices had reportedly failed to pay the electricity bills for the past more than one decade, without facing any disconnection.

According to information, the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation topped the list of defaulters with Rs 12.29 crore. There were around 1,000 tubewells, being operated by the corporation in the zone. The corporation had reportedly not paid a single rupee towards electricity bills of these tubewells in the past about one decade.

Though farmers had started paying for power used for their tubewells following a decision of the state government to implement the recommendations of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission to bill the power consumed by the agriculture sector, the corporation was seemingly an exception in this regard.

The second main defaulter was the Health Department, which owed Rs 2.5 crore as payment of electricity bills of its hospitals, dispensaries and primary health centres. Next in the list was the Punjab Police, which had not paid power bills of its police stations and offices of senior police authorities to the tune of Rs 2.31 crore.

The Chief Engineer (North), Mr H.M. Jain, said they were issuing fresh notices to 40 government offices, which had not been paying the bills for quite long time. “We are not resorting to disconnection of power as it will put an adverse impact on the people.

We have decided to approach the state government to get necessary instructions issued to the officials concerned for immediate release of payment,” he added.


Schemes for poor students underutilised
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR: Even as Guru Nanak Dev University has drawn ambitious programmes for helping disadvantaged, meritorious students, almost all such schemes have remained on paper only.

This has been revealed in the UGC research project on “unit cost of higher education” prepared by Dr P.S. Raikhy, a senior professor at Punjab School of Economics, Guru Nanak Dev University.

Most genuine students are being denied their due despite the fact that different committees constituted by the UGC recommended financial assistance to them.

The report stated the university provided full/half fee concession (tuition fee only) to upto 10 per cent of the students in each class. Similarly, poor students are provided financial assistance from the poor students aid fund. The university has also provided in the budget that the rent received from the shopping complex would be spent on providing free education to poor, meritorious students. The university earned Rs 26 lakh to Rs 29 lakh annually as rent during the past three years. A provision has also been made for part-time work in the university library and the Secrecy and Press Departments for such students under an “earn-while-you-learn” scheme. The university also provided for five additional seats in each course for really poor and deserving students (with a monthly family income of Rs 2,000), (subject to condition that they clear the requisite entrance tests) at a Syndicate meeting held on May 3, 2002. However, almost all these schemes have fizzled out.

While the full and half fee concession given as per provisions remained limited to the tuition fee only, which constituted a small part of the total payments, the financial assistance availed of or provided from the poor students aid fund had been meagre, the report lamented. The total amount in the fund, including receipts and interests, was Rs 35.91 lakh in 2001-02 out of which just Rs 1.51 lakh was paid during the same year. As the receipts during 2001-02 were to the tune of Rs 10.71 lakh, the balance in the fund as on March 31, 2002, increased to Rs 34.40 lakh.

Similarly, the provision for poor students out of the rent from the shopping complex also remained unutilised. During the 2003-04 session, only four students got admission under the total free scheme, which is abysmally low. The facility of “earn while you learn” was provided to other four students during the current year.

The report lists various reasons for gross underutilisation of provisions by poor deserving students. While poor students are provided fee concession/financial assistance after October/November, they are required to pay the fee and funds in full by June end or early-July. This deters poor students from seeking admission to the university. The meagre assistance in terms of full/half tuition fee concession may not motivate (poor students to seek admission to the university, when even the direct private costs of education are unbearable for them. The earn-while-you-learn scheme is only for a few departments and working four or five hours daily may adversely affect the studies of poor students, especially under the semester system.

However, the report mentions lack of information as the major reason for underutilisation. The report recommends that wide publicity should be given in regional dailies, TV channels and schools/colleges to the schemes for poor students. It also recommended more total free schemes for really poor, deserving students, fixation of realistic income criteria, provision of concessions at the time of admission itself and facility of payment of dues in instalments. Widening of the scope of the “earn-while-you-learn” scheme and the provision for payment to such students every month have also been recommended.


Bishop of Paris to take up turban issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
National Minorities Commission Chairman Tarlochan Singh today said the turban row in Paris was likely to be resolved soon with the Bishop of Paris set to taking up the issue with the French government.

Talking to newsmen here at a function organised by Press Council of India Member Jagjit Singh Dardi, the Minorities Commission Chairman said the Union government was also through diplomatic channels to resolve the issue.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the Foreign Secretary had taken up the issue with his French counterpart and that the French Ambassador in India had also been apprised of the matter. He said the French Ambassador had submitted a report regarding the issue to his government. Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) not to protest on the matter as the French government was not anti-Sikh and that the ban on various headgears had been proposed without taking the Sikhs into account.

The Commission Chairman said when the French government had formed a Committee to devise ways to create a secular atmosphere in the country, the Sikh population had not represented before the Committee when it was examining the issue of banning various types of head gears. He said now that the French government had been apprised of the matter, the issue was likely to be solved amicably.

Speaking on the issue of gurdwaras in Pakistan, Mr Tarlochan Singh for the first time admitted that the shrines could not be handed over to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for management. He said the Union government had persuaded Pakistan to hold talks on this issue adding India would persuade Pakistan to appoint a Managing Committee in consultation with the SGPC.

He said India was interested in a permanent settlement to the issue of management of gurdwaras in Pakistan and that it was sending a delegation headed by SGPC Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra to Pakistan for this soon. He said he had received a communication in this regard from the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Tarlochan Singh also announced that the Union government was ready to pay for the repair of shrines in Afghanistan. He said Sikh shrines had been most affected during fighting in the country, adding Buddhist and Hindu shrines had also been damaged. He said a similar offer had also been made to the Commission regarding religious shrines in Bangladesh.

He also announced that a Committee had been constituted for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib. He said the Committee would be chaired by the Prime Minister.


8 jail officials transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Punjab Government today transferred eight jail officials.

Mr Jagjit Singh has been posted as Superintendent, Central Jail, Ludhiana; and Mr Gursharan Singh as Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala. While Mr Swaran Singh is the new Superintendent of Central Jail, Ferozepore; Mr Kuldip Singh has been posted as Superintendent, Central Jail, Amritsar.

Mr M.P Singh has been posted as Superintendent, District Jail, Nabha; Mr Vijay Kumar as Deputy Superintendent, Central Jail, Ludhiana; and Mr Sardul Singh as Deputy Superintendent, Central Jail, Amritsar.

Mr S.R Jindal has been transferred as AIG, Headquarters, Chandigarh.

The Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala, will also function as the Principal, Jail Training School, Patiala. The transferred officials have been asked to report for duty by Tuesday.


Punjab Congress gets activated
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Redressal of grievances and taking decisions on organisational matters, including reconstitution of some frontal cells, will be among major items on the agenda of district-level meetings which the Punjab Pradesh Congress Commit-tee has decided to start from February 9 to mobilise grass-root-level workers for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The main objective of the meetings will also be to demonstrate complete unity and understanding between Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh and his Deputy, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Sources reveal that Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, who is incharge of Punjab affairs in the All-India Congress Committee, will also attend all these district- level meetings.

The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, confirmed that a plan for holding district-level meetings had been finalised.

Before these meetings start next week, the Congress High Command is also likely to settle all organisational matters which have been pending for some time. These include appointment of a new chief of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress Committee and also changes, if any, required in district and block level committees besides other frontal organisations.

Members of the Council of Ministers, Parliament, legislators, office-bearers of the PPCC from the district concerned, besides office-bearers of the district and block level committees and other activists from various frontal organisations and cells of the PPCC will also be invited to attend these meetings.

In the first phase major towns will be covered.

The meetings are being organised not only for redressal of grievances of party workers and initiating much needed developmental projects in the district but also to propagate achievements of the State government eversince it assumed office in March, 2002. The workers at the district and block level will also be mobilised to propagate policies and programmes of the Congress for the coming general elections.

Mr Hanspal said after dates of the Lok sabha elections are announced, Congress President Sonia Gandhi will be requested to address massive rallies at three to four different places in the state.

Maintaining complete unity in the party, he said all members of the Congress Legislature Party and the PPCC office-bearers were solidly behind Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as the party hopes to improve upon its 1999 Lok Sabha election performance.


Tandon or Sodhi, that’s the question
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 2
The move of BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon to contest from Amritsar has caused a furore in the local BJP even as former MP and former state BJP chief Daya Singh Sodhi has declared that he is the winning and ‘fittest candidate’ for the Lok Sabha poll.

Mr Tandon had won the Assembly seat from Amritsar Central five times since 1957. Though Mr Sodhi belonged to the Tandon group, the move of Mr Tandon came as a rude shock for Mr Sodhi.

At least eight BJP leaders had desired to contest from Amritsar. The party high command was likely to shortlist the names of Mr Tandon and Mr Sodhi. The names of Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Dr Baldev Chawala and Mr Jagdish Sahni had also figured during the discussions.

The supporters of Mr Tandon had told the party high command that he had won from Amritsar Central five times. The Sodhi group had claimed that Mr Tandon had never contested any election from Amritsar since 1977.

The supporters of Mr Tandon said he was still maintaining his residence and had a sufficient clout in Amritsar. Mr Sodhi said he had won from Amritsar in 1998 with a margin of more than 90,000 votes. He had lost during the previous election by less than 30,000 votes.

Mr Tandon was being considered a heavyweight due to his seniority in the party. He had launched a parallel morcha for ‘Mahan Punjab’ in the fifties. He had a long stint as an RSS worker and had been arrested many times in connection with party activities.

The SAD was not keen to field Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, a three-time MP from Tarn Taran. Though the party had decided to field Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, a former Akali minister, his candidature was being opposed by senior Akali leaders from within the district.


Lok Bhalai Party campaign from February 8
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) today announced to launch “Lok Jagao Punjab Bachao” campaign in Ludhiana from February 8.

At a press conference here party president Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, received that six teams were constituted to tour 425 villages of Ludhiana district from February 8 to February 16.

“These teams will be headed by senior party leaders like Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, Mr Jagjit Singh Lopon, Mr Paramjit Singh Sidhwan, Mr Bhola Singh Virk, Mr Amrik Singh and Dr Jagpal Kaur Sangha. Teams will interact with villagers on issues like unemployment, plight of peasantry and Industry corruption in government departments and duping of youth by travel agents”. He said, adding that his party would contest elections on the issues related to people.

The party will mobilise people and a rally would be held in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, Ludhiana on February 16 against anti-people policies of the Congress government.

He added that the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) would meet at Ludhiana on February 5 to decide on the seats to be contested by the party and selection of candidates for the same, “we have consistently worked at six seats including Patiala, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Taran Tarn and Faridkot in the past couple of years while a final decision will be taken during the PAC meeting”, he said.


SAD youth wing to enrol one lakh members
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 2
The youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will mobilise youths of Punjab for the development of the state. It will enrol at least one lakh youths as members for this shortly. This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Rajya Sabha MP and SAD General Secretary, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

He said separate offices of the youth wing of the SAD were being set up at all district headquarters in the state, with its head office at Chandigarh. Replying to a question, he said he would plead before the SAD high command to allot 25 per cent of the seats to the youth in the forthcoming elections. 


Morcha cancels merger rally of February 15
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 2
The proposed merger of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today suffered a setback when the Morcha cancelled its Bahujan Ekta Rally, slated to be held at Banga on February 15. This was decided here today at a meeting of the state office-bearers and the district presidents of the BSM with its National President Satnam Singh Kainth, former Lok Sabha member, in the chair.

Mr Kainth said the meeting accused Punjab BSP President Avtar Singh Karimpuri of coming in the way of the unity process in the Bahujan Samaj.

In this context there was no use of holding the February 15 rally at Banga in which the Morcha was to announce its merger in the BSP, the meeting resolved unanimously. The meeting constituted an 11-member coordination committee to decide the future course of action keeping in view the latest political developments. The committee will include Satnam Singh Kainth, Ram Chand Talwandi, Raj Singh Kheri, former MLA, among others. — PTI


Govt policies anti-people, says Left
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 2
A political conference was organised here yesterday by the CPM, the MCPI, the CPI (ML) and the AIFB, which was attended by hundreds of peasants, labourers youths and women from Amritsar district.

Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, state secretary of the CPM, while addressing the gathering, lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the Amarinder Singh government in the state for their ‘anti-people’ policies.


NCP unit goes Sangma way
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Punjab unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today decided to side with Mr P.S. Sangma’s faction.

This decision was taken at a meeting of the party here in which Mr Gurcharan Singh Dadhahoor, a former MP from Sangrur, was elected President of the state unit.

Mr Gurcharan Singh said the existing organisational setup at the district level would be kept intact.


Ban discharge of sullage into rivers, says NGO
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
Students of the Department of Zoology Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) organised a one-day filed tour to Harike Wetland 40 km from here to observe World Wetland Day today.

Dr Anish Dua, a senior lecturer, Zoology highlighted the importance of Wetlands in the country for preserving natural resources like water, flora and fauna. He said wetlands at Harike purifies nearly 60 per cent of water in the Sutlej River which helps to clean the water. He added that Punjab must undertake major projects to clean rivers and prohibit the flow of sullage and other pollutants into rivers which were the lifeline of state.

On the spot painting and slogan-writing competitions were organised in which students of local BBK DAV College for Women here and Government college Patti participated.

A nature club was formed at the Springdale Senior Secondary School in collaboration with World Wild Fund (WWF) on the occasion of world wetland day today.

NABHA: The Kheti Virasat an NGO organised “World Wetland Day” on the banks of Lubana Wetlands 8 km from here. The Lubana Wetland is spread over 28 acres. Vice-Chairman of the NGO, Inderjit Singh Sahoh expressed serious concern over the vanishing of half of Lubana wetland.

He stressed in Punjab table wetlands were playing important role in recharging.

He told that out of total 118 development blocks of Punjab, 70 had already become dark zones and 16 were declared grey-zones.

Umendra Dutt, Director and Surinder Singh, Assistant Director of NGO also addressed the gathering.


Id celebrated with enthusiasm
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 2
Id-ul-Zuha prayers were offered in several mosques here today. The biggest congregation was witnessed at the local Idgah, where at least one lakh persons offered ‘namaz’ and greeted each other.

Maulana Hashim Shah Shabib, Shahi Imam of the local Jama Masjid, led the ‘namaz’ at the Idgah. A large number of Hindus visited the house of their Muslim friends in Malerkotla to convey Id greetings.

Id prayers were also offered in various mosques of the town and adjoining villages like Binjoki Kalan, Dalergarh, Bhaini Kamboan, Amargarh and Ahmedgarh. There was resentment among the Muslims because no political leader visited the Idgah to extend greeting.

Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, vice-president of the PPCC, greeted Muslims at Talewal village. He demanded that a bus service from Malerkotla to Pakistan be started soon.

BATALA: Id-ul-Zuha was celebrated with enthusiasm at Qadian, the international headquarters of the Ahmadiya community, 25 km from here, on Monday. Thousand of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims participated in the celebration.

Choudhary Mohammad Akbar, acting chief secretary, of the community, said no religion taught hatred to others, and all were equal in the eyes of God. An open-kitchen ‘langar’ was organised. It was also celebrated at Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian and Batala.

BATHINDA: Hundreds of Muslims offered prayers at the local Idgah on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha here on Monday. Mr Suleman Khan, president of the Muslim Human Welfare Society said the Id ‘namaz’ was read out by Mr Muhammad Ramzan.

WAGAH: Packets of sweets and fruits were exchanged between the Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force personnel on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha here on Monday. Mr P.R. Singh, Deputy Commandant of the BSF, received the sweets from Wing Commander Mohammad Ishfaq, second-in-command of the Pakistan Rangers, and reciprocated by handing over packets of sweets on behalf of the BSF.

At the Atari railway station, Mr P.S. Sodhi, Additional Commissioner Customs, sent sweets on behalf of Indian Customs through Samjhauta Express. Pakistani Customs at Lahore sent a packet of fruits and sweets through the driver of Samjhauta Express. Id was celebrated with fervour and gaiety at various mosques in Amritsar.


Traders seek reopening of Hussainiwala border
Anirudh Gupta

FEROZEPORE: While guns have stopped emitting fire from either side of the fence, and both the Indian and Pakistani Governments have set off the process to resume the bilateral composite dialogue, once again a new hope has arisen among residents of the border town, who feel that their long pending demand to open the Hussainiwala-Kasur border for trade and transit would be fulfilled soon.

Over and above, the reports of assurance given by Mr Khursheed Kasuri, Pakistani Foreign Minister, who belongs to Kasur (the Pakistani town closest to Ferozepore) to the residents of Kasur that his government would have no objection to the opening of the Hussainiwala border has worked like icing on the cake for these people.

Traders’ lobby, which has been demanding the opening of the Hussainiwala border for trade since its closure after 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict, has become active again and their demand is gaining momentum with every passing day. The Hussainiwala route was the lifeline for the traders dealing in dry fruits, clothes, vegetables and fruits but after its closure, the trade stopped. As a result some of the traders shifted their base to other places. Now, the resumption of the road, rail and air traffic between the two neighbours has given new hope to the people.

Once a flourishing trade center, Ferozepore now lags way behind Amritsar which has the Wagah route for import and export between the two nations despite the fact that Ferozepore has shortest distance (11 km) from the international border. Some of the traders attribute the reason behind the non-opening of the Hussainiwala border to the strong political clout and businessmen’s lobby of Amritsar.

Mr Satya Pal Baghi, freedom fighter, asserted that the Hussainiwala border should get priority over the proposed opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route because it would usher in prosperity for lakhs of the people belonging to the Malwa belt. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, International Bhai Mardana Society, said that his society had already written to both Indian and Pakistani governments to include this important issue in the agenda of talks.

Old timers reveal that the local cinema halls attracted lot of visitors from Pakistan when the Hussainiwala border was open because Pakistanis were great fans of Indian movies. The Pakistani dry fruits, grapes and cloth material has ready market in India and similarly sugar, tea, vegetables, pan, farm equipment have great demand in Pakistan.

Mr Ashwani Mehta, president, Local Beopar Mandal, said if the Hussainiwala border was opened for trade and transit, the transporters, PCO holders, hotels and restaurants, foreign exchange operations, porters and general merchants will benefit tremendously.

The Bharati Kisan Union (BKU) also recently organised a rally near Hussainiwala border in support of its demand to open the Hussainiwala border.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, Member Parliament (Lok Sabha), said he had raised this issue time and again in Parliament.

On earlier occasions also, the Prime Minister’s Lahore bus journey and the Agra Summit had raised some hopes but the Kargil conflict and the attack on Parliament had dashed the hopes.


Gift horse for Capt detained at Wagah
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 2
A thoroughbred horse of rare Arabian breed, gifted by Mr Parvez Elahi, Chief Minister, West Punjab (Pakistan), to his Indian counterpart, Capt Amarinder Singh, could not cross the Wagah checkpost here due to stringent customs rules.

According to customs sources, Wagah is not a specified port for livestock and the animals had to be kept under surveillance for quarantine for a month in Lahore.

The horse would be taken to New Delhi for similar tests before it was brought to Punjab.


Authorities shielding killers of student, says union
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 2
The Technical Services Union here has condemned Muktsar district administration allegedly for shielding transporters responsible for crushing to death Harjinder Pal Singh, a student of Government College Muktsar, on January 29. A committee of the TSU yesterday visited Muktsar and met the Deputy Commissioner also.

The committee alleged that the authorities were avoiding to arrest the “culprits” and wanted to crush peaceful agitation of students. Students many a times brought it to the notice of the police and civil authorities that the transporters had humiliated them though they had passes and identity cards. On January 29, driver of the bus of a private company crushed the student to death.

Representatives of the Technical Services Union, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, the Khet Mazdoor Union, the Democratic Teachers Forum, the AITUC Employees Federation held a meeting here today. They demanded that the bus now responsible for the “killing” of the student be arrested, false cases against agitating students withdrawn and parents of the victim given suitable compensation. The meeting urged the Chief Minister to intervene to end ‘police repression’ and injustice.

The TSU resolved to hold protest rallies all over the district at Subdivisional offices of the Punjab State Electricity Board to mobilise people against the culprits.


No fear of terrorism, says Punjab Intelligence
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
Putting speculation to rest, highly placed sources in the Punjab Intelligence today stated that the Burail jail break case was not likely to have wider ramifications and there were little chances of revival of terrorism in Punjab.

Talking to The Tribune, a top-ranking Intelligence officer said that the jailbreak plan could not be pre-empted by the Intelligence mainly because no big terrorist group was involved in it. “The whole thing was managed at the local level by a group of persons who had got together inside and outside of the jail,” he added.

Stating that Intelligence reports concerning the wedding of Manochahal’s niece in Mohali and the activities at the gurdwaras where the whole plan was allegedly hatched, did not point to any such planning, the officer said none of the Intelligence reports before and even after the incident gave a hint about grouping or re-grouping of terrorist outfits.

“The Intelligence works at various levels — the political, militancy, socio-economic, agrarian and labour. As a standard practice, reports on these aspects from each area are collected and shared with the district police. And if any of our reports points to an impending anti-lawful activity, an alert is sounded,” he said, adding that isolated incidents did not revive movements but if left untackled, “it is such incidents only, on the basis of which movements are revived.”

Stating that failure on part of the Chandigarh police and Intelligence is many times higher than their counterparts in Punjab in this case, he said in the end the regular police has to act on Intelligence reports.


Civil engineers or plumbers?
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 2
Even as civil engineer, being technical professionals, are called upon to be the certifying authority before granting permission for construction according to guidelines of Disaster Management, a department under the Ministry of Home Affairs, due to Punjab’s high vulnerability to earthquakes, they are now being asked to register themselves as plumbers.

The Estate Office, Chandigarh, through its handbook ‘Suvidha’ on building rules and bylaws, has asked civil engineers to register themselves. Mr R.K. Singh, Joint Secretary with the Department, requested Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra on January 31 last year to initiate measures for structurally safe buildings. The state government continues to ignore these guidelines.

The Association of Practising Civil Engineers is up in arms over this title plumber which denigrates their status. Mr P.S. Sandhu, president of the body, contended that engineers were called upon as technical experts in the guidelines that stressed that non-adoption of necessary design features led to masonary collapse, which became the prime reason for casualties in the eventuality of an earthquakes.

According to a judgement of the Bombay High Court in August 1986, “civil engineers are fully qualified to do works of development and construction of building, and as such, there is no reason for excluding them from class of persons who can sign the plans and applications for construction of buildings and for restricting this work to architects only”. Members of the association said given the stature given to civil engineers, the Estate Office asking them to register themselves as plumber was their down grading.


SGPC may start TV channel
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 2
The SGPC is contemplating to have its own TV channel to relay Gurbani and disseminate information on Sikhism.

The project is likely to be completed in phases. The issue of having SGPC TV channel has been discussed earlier too but since three centenaries pertaining to the Sikh religion are being celebrated during 2004 the Shatabdi programme planning committee of the SGPC has mooted the proposal for an independent channel by the SGPC. The rough estimates for the completion of the project would be around Rs 10 crore.

The Shatabdi programme and planning committee has held discussions with some of the channels. It is proposed to be set up with three programme-first relay of kirtan, dissemination of information about Sikhism and thirdly, to target the youth with special programmes to wean them away from the social evils like drug addiction and make them complete Sikhs.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, a former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University and member of the Shatabdi celebrations committee, said here yesterday that the TV channels presented all types of programme, including religious, social and cultural which were not in tune with the Sikh religion. Thus the need for a separate TV channel for the spread of Sikhism was felt.

To begin with, the committee has suggested that the production unit should be first set up to produce programmes. The centennial activities would be covered and discourses should also be given through these programmes.

Moreover, the SGPC was keen on ensuring positive impact of the shatabdi celebrations.

The SGPC, at present, has contract with the ETC Punjabi which relays live kirtan. The relay of kirtan has become very popular among the Sikhs abroad.


Scheme prepared to control TB
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 2
Dr Jagir Singh Kahlon, Civil Surgeon, Ferozepore, said here today that a comprehensive scheme had been prepared to control and eradicate TB. He said under the revised national tuberculosis control programme, four main centres were being set up in Ferozepore district.

The centres to be located in hospitals of Ferozepore, Abohar, Fazilka and Zira shall function as depots for supplying medicines to TB patients. There shall be 18 micro-centres under each main centre and sputum of the suspected TB patients shall be tested there. The centres shall be manned by a specialist assisted by a laboratory technician. There shall be 72 such centres in Ferozepore district. Each centre shall be at a distance of 2 km apart. As such, the entire Ferozepore district shall be covered, added Dr Kahlon.

Under the DoT scheme, medicines shall be given to affected patients at the doorstep by non-government social organisations and health workers. The programme shall be monitored by officers of the department who had been specially trained for the purpose. Dr Kahlon disclosed that in Ferozepore district the training of the officers had been completed on January 31. The necessary repair of the buildings shall be completed by March 24 to observe World Tuberculosis Day, a programme sponsored by the World Health Organisation.

The Civil Surgeon further said during the eighties there was one patient of TB per 1000 patients. The percentage had nearly doubled now and had risen from 2 or more for 1000. He, however, expressed hope that the cure rate was likely to be increased considerably from 90 to 95 per cent with the implementation of the scheme.

He lauded the efforts of the Social Welfare Society, Fazilka, which has cured 1800 TB patients during the past eight years in Fazilka and the surrounding areas from its own resources. The society was spearheading the TB eradication programme. Dr Kahlon assured all help to the society in the project.


MLA refutes allegations
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 2
Refuting allegations levelled against him by members of the local Truck Operators Union and its president after the eviction of the union from its premises on January 28, Mr Arvind Khanna, local MLA, said the union had encroached upon municipal council’s land worth more than Rs 1 crore.

Mr Khanna said he had been trying to persuade the president of the union, Mr Balwinder Singh Kherri, for the past two years to vacate the land. Mr Kherri had sought one month’s time but did not fulfil his promise, which is why the administration had to get the land vacated, he added.

Refuting the allegation that the truck union president had given him Rs 1 lakh as election fund during the Assembly poll, Mr Khanna said he had not taken money from anyone during the elections. Regarding the allegation that the administration had desecrated Guru Granth Sahib and Nishan Sahib at the time of shifting, Mr Khanna said the bir was taken as per Sikh tenets and maryada.

Mr Khanna said the land had been illegally occupied by the truck union and some truck operators wanted to gain political mileage out of the issue.


Tohra’s appeal to Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
SGPC President G.S. Tohra has urged Sikhs living in India and abroad to observe three centenaries pertaining to Sikh history this year.

During the current year, homage would be paid to Guru Angad Dev on his 500th birth anniversary on April 18, to Guru Granth Sahib on the 400th anniversary of its installation on September 1, and to the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh as well as his mother, Mata Gujri, on the 300th anniversary of their martyrdom from December 21 to 26.

Jathedar Tohra said special seminars, group discussions on bani, kirtan and dhadi darbars would be arranged and nagar kirtan processions organised to demonstrate the buoyant spirit of the Panth.


Patiala in spring-cleaning mode in winter
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
It may be winter, but for the district administration and the municipal corporation it may as well be spring as this is the time of the year when every official gets into the spring-cleaning mode. This is because of the upcoming Heritage Festival scheduled to be held in the city from February 14 to 21. The festival has come to epitomise the showcasing of Patiala despite being only one-year-old.

Though the Heritage Festival, which also included a Crafts Mela which is held for a fortnight from February 14 onwards, is yet to bring Patiala on the tourism map, the city has improved due to the importance given to the event which also includes improving the profile of the city literally. The only grouse people have is that the attempt to ensure cleanliness and development should be made all the year round and not just limited to the run-up to the festival.

Though a number of good steps have been taken from the management of the traffic point of view, the corporation seems to have gone overboard in beautifying the city in a few cases. One such case which stands out is the renovation being done to Fountain Chowk on the Mall road. This chowk was renovated last year also. After being forgotten for some months, it is being put back in shape again. This is being done despite the fact that red lights have been installed at the spot for more than three years. The chowk was proposed to be removed as it is a traffic bottleneck.

Similarly even as the city is being spruced up, the administration has failed to decongest the road to the Quila Mubarak fort palace where most of the classical programmes will be held. This road remains as crowded as ever. The Archaeology Department, the municipal corporation and the district administration have also failed to notice the manner in which shops, which have come up along the outer facade of the Shiv Mandir opposite the main gate of Quila Mubarak, have continuously been encroaching upon the land in front of the Quila gate.

Every incoming Senior Superintendent of Police seems to want to be seen as technology savvy. It is because of this that technology savvy projects are launched immediately on their taking over.

The earlier SSP’s office in the Barandari Gardens, which now houses the IG’s office, has seen a number of schemes taking off in the same building. The last two SSPs unveiled a helpline system whereby people could record their complaints at a special office in the new building and later find out their status.

However, at a recent press conference organised to inaugurate a new scheme called Cyber Suvidha, which will replace all the earlier new schemes, the district police was at a loss to evaluate the two earlier schemes. Later it was revealed that there was no system whereby data could be retrieved and that the schemes had failed to take off. Now the district police has started a Cyber Suvidha scheme whereby citizens can record their complaints on the internet. District police chief A S Rai said the force was also taking legal opinion on whether FIRs could be registered online through this scheme or not. This time, however, the force has promised to give a feedback on whether people have taken to the scheme or not and record the number of people who use the facility on a daily basis. It is to be seen whether the police can be trusted to record complaints without any ‘sifarish’ this time around.


MC to spruce up Patiala for Heritage Festival
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, February 2
The Municipal Corporation is all set to undertake steps to spruce up the city as part of its preparations for the Heritage Festival, which will begin on February 14 and continue till February 22.

With special emphasis on cleanliness, the corporation has hired around 200 safai karmcharis on daily wages for a period of two month. Besides, the renovation work on Fountain Chowk has already begun. The chowk is likely to get a fresh coat of paint along with new varieties of seasonal flowers.

Asked about the special lightning being provided for the festival, Municipal Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma said nearly 1,300 tube-lights and 400 sodium lights were being installed in various parts of the city, including Rajpura Road, Passi Road, Lower Mall and Sirhind Road.

Mr Sharma further stated that the repair work on the Mohindra College road and the Sanour road would start shortly.

In addition to this, the Mayor said the road on the rear of Sham Bagh marriage palace at 22 No. Phatak would be widened and repaired at a cost of Rs 18 lakh.

He added that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recently given a grant of around Rs 3 crore from his CM fund for development purposes in the city.


Zirakpur-Panchkula road traffic blocked
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 2
Traffic on the busy Zirakpur-Panchkula road was disrupted for over two hours as a car got stuck on the Yadvindra bridge after it developed a fault this afternoon.

Vehicles moved at a snail’s pace because of the dilapidated condition of the decades old narrow bridge. Scores of motorists, road users and passengers were put to hardship.

Being the only link between Punjab and Haryana, thousands of travellers besides VIPs cross this road daily.

Most affected were the passengers travelling by long-route buses as they remained stranded in the traffic jam for more than two hours. Passengers heading towards Panchkula, Ramgarh and Himachal Pradesh also had a harrowing time.

Police personnel helped motorists in crossing the bridge. The traffic on the road was restored after the police towed away the car with the help of a tractor. 


Theatre fest opens with ‘Andher Nagri’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 2
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) organised Garden Theatre Winter Fest-2004 consisting of 19th century Bhartendu's social satire “Andher Nagri” here today.

Dr Sawraj Singh, an NRI surgeon, was the chief guest on the occasion. Dedicating the festival to Indo- Pak friendship, he said the cordiality among the two neighboring countries would not only strengthen Punjabiat but would also promote emotional integration through theatre.

The Director of NTAS, Mr Pran Sabharwal, said the garden theatre campaign had proved to be instrumental in promoting theatre in the city.


Entrepreneurship programme begins

Patiala, February 2
A six-week entrepreneurship programme for dress designing and embroidery organised by SIDBI in association with the local Handicraft Handloom Society Limited started at Kheri Gujra village near here today.

The basic objective of the course is to provide an opportunity to the unemployed educated woman to start their units after getting the training. The president of the local Handicraft Handloom Society, Rekha Mann, said in this course they select trainees after interview. OC


High Court
Key witness seeks tight security cover
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Acting on a petition filed by key witness Balwinder Singh in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case seeking directions for fortifying security cover provided to him, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for February 5.

In his petition against the Chandigarh Administration, Senior Superintendent of Chandigarh Police and another respondent, Balwinder Singh also sought directions for better conveyance facilities in the wake of increased threat perception to his life due to the escape of alleged assassins. The petitioner added that he was already receiving threats from dreaded terrorists.

Balwinder Singh’s statement, along with that of Sector 7 painter Surinder Singh, had led to unearthing of the conspiracy. He was initially working as a mechanic with the painter.

Giving details, the petitioner contended before the Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, that the guards, deployed for his security, were travelling on motorcycles, while he was riding a bicycle.

Going into the background of the case, he had claimed that the Administration, in recognition of his services, had rewarded him Rs 30,000 and had also promised a job. But he was offered ad hoc job of a Home Guards volunteer.

According to the prosecution, Surinder Sharma had painted white a grey Ambassador car, allegedly purchased from New Delhi by an accused in the case, for the commission of the offence.

The car, as per the prosecution story, was recovered from the spot soon after the explosion in which the former Chief Minister was killed. The vehicle had later led to the identification of the accused and their subsequent arrest.


Excise Dept drive against illicit distillation
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 2
To curb bootlegging in this region, the Excise and Taxation authorities have decided to raid the premises suspected to be used for illicit distillation.

Mr P.C. Payasa, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC), Faridkot and Ferozepore division, told The Tribune that the decision had been taken to prevent hooch tragedies which claimed two lives in Chand Bhan village of Faridkot district yesterday.

Two persons, Bawa Singh and Major Singh died after consuming liquor and 13 others fell ill. The liquor was consumed at a party thrown by Nachhattar Singh of Chand Bhan village at a ring ceremony of his son Harwinder Singh. A case under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered against Nachhattar Singh and his sons Harwinder Singh and Gamdur Singh. He said that he had directed to the field staff that raids be made and daily report of the same should be sent to his office. He added that the staff had been asked to procure inputs on illicit distillation. Sources said following the deaths due to consumption of illicit liquor had been reported in Bathinda, Ferozepur and Faridkot districts in the past few years.

Mr Hussain Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, said that he had asked the police to expedite investigation into the hooch tragedy case of Chand Bhan village.

Apart from claiming two lives, 13 others who had also consumed the liquor fell ill and were treated in hospitals in Bathinda and Faridkot districts were discharged, but Simar Singh was still under treatment in a private hospital of Kot Kapura. His condition was said to be stable.

Mr Vijay Kumar, SP (D), Faridkot, said that after the postmortem examination of two bodies, their viscera had been sent for chemical examination report of which would be received in two weeks. No arrest has been made so far.


Col Dhillon is Advisory panel member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Punjab Government has appointed Col T.S Dhillon (retd) as a member of the Advisory Committee. The notification states that his tenure in the committee shall be at the pleasure of the government.

The committee looks after matters within the purview of the Department of Defence Services Welfare and has its headquarters at Chandigarh. Colonel Dhillon, a Cavalry officer, had retired from the Scinde Horse. 


2 kids die in road accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 2
Two children were killed while two others were injured when an allegedly drunken driver of a Tata Sumo drove his vehicle into them at Deengrian village last night, it was learnt yesterday.

A five-year-old boy Jatinder Saroi and an eight-year-old girl Rajwinder were killed. Eight-year-old Sapna, sister of Jatinder, and minor Jaskaran, brother of Rajwinder, were seriously injured and hospitalised here.

These children were waiting for milk vendor when the driver, who trying to drive over a pile of sand lying in the street, lost control and drove into the waiting kids.

The Behram police has registered a case and arrested driver Dilbag of Ghumnan village. The post-mortem examination of the two children was done at the local Civil Hospital.


3 held for demanding dowry
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 2
The police had arrested three persons on charges of demanding dowry on the complaint of Reshma, a resident of Mannanwali village. Those arrested were her husband Parwinder Singh, her mother-in-law Dilbag Kaur and her sister-in-law Manjit Kaur.

Reshma was married on February 28, 2000, to Parwinder of Ranian village in Moga district. She was given sufficient dowry. However, her husband and other relatives started harassing her for bringing more dowry.


Four held for attacking a Dalit
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 2
The police here has arrested four persons including a panch of Talhan village near here allegedly for assaulting a Dalit member of the managing committee of Shaheedan Gurdwara and his brother under the influence of liquor.

According to the police, Dalit member of Gurdwara committee Amarjit Singh and his brother Paramjit Singh had a brawl over some issue with four residents of Talhan village including a panch, who were drunk. They allegedly abused Amarjit and Paramjit while beating them up.

The police arrested all four accused who were identified as Harjinder Singh, Panch, Sunil Dutt, Kala and Sohan Lal. A case under Sections 295, 452, 323, 356, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered while the arrested were remanded in police custody by a court.


Poppy husk smuggler held
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 2
Mr M.F. Farooqui, SSP, stated in a press note here yesterday that the police arrested a notorious poppy husk smuggler Jagiro, widow of Nanju Ram, a resident of Mukandpur, 20 km from here. The police seized 210 kg of poppy husk from her residence. A case under Section 15, 61 and 85, NDPS Act, has been registered at the Banga police station.

Jagiro has been undergoing 10 years’ imprisonment since 2001 in a similar case. She came out on parole on January 8, said the note.

Besides, the police confiscate 1,020 bottles of IMFL from a tempo at a naka near Asron village, 40 km from here, on Friday. While the driver, Yogeshwar Kumar, was arrested, another person escaped. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered at the Balachaur police station.


Missing boy’s body found
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 2
A sense of shock prevailed here following the murder of Taranjit Singh (15) of the local Shiv Colony whose body was found in the well of Aujula village near the town today.

Taranjit Singh was the adopted son of his parents and was missing since last evening.

According to the report lodged with the police, Taranjit Singh after attending the birthday of his friend came to his house. In the evening, some unidentified persons came to his house and took him along. The boy did not return afterwards. The boy was carrying a mobile phone with min. His body was found by residents of Aujula village this morning who informed the police.

The deceased was the son of a retired lecturer Jagmohan Singh.


Robbers shoot at salesman

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 2
Two robbers fired at a salesman of a wine shop at Bhadla village last night after he refused to hand over the cash to them. The salesman was seriously injured.

The robbers managed to flee after the incident. The injured salesman was rushed to the CMC, Ludhiana.

A case has been registered and the police has rounded up some persons in this connection.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said two persons came on scooters to the wine shop around 8.40 pm. They purchased wine and consumed the liquor sitting in the adjoining “ahata”. After some time, they went inside the wine shop and demanded cash from the salesman. When he refused to do so, they had a scuffle with him and one of them fired at the salesman with a revolver. OC


Private college teachers rue govt indifference
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, February 2
Resentment prevails among at least 5,000 private college teachers, serving in about 175 privately managed colleges in Punjab, including unaided colleges, against the Punjab Government’s alleged indifferent and stepmotherly attitude towards them with regard to their demands and grievances for the past couple of years.

Prof P.K. Sharma, president of the district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, regretted that the Punjab Government was not bothered to honour the Congress promises of restoring 95 per cent grant-in-aid and implementation of 18.12.1996 pension-gratuity scheme.

He said private college teachers of Punjab had been forced to resort to the path of struggle as the government had failed to take any step or measure against most of the managements of private colleges, allegedly violating university calendar norms and Punjab Government rules with impunity.

JALANDHAR: The teaching and non- teaching staff of Dayanand Junior Technical School here, a 100 per cent government-aided educational institutions have been running from pillar to post to get their salary grant released for the past 10 months even as they are being forced to seek loans to meet the daily needs of their families.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the Junior Technical School Employees Association, alleged that they were not paid salaries since April last, forcing the employees of the school to beg for loans.

He further said the indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned to release the grant in this regard had made the lives of the employees miserable while pushing the institution towards forced closure. The association urged the Punjab Chief Minister to intervene and instruct the officials concerned to immediately sanction necessary funds for payment of salaries.


Symposium at Punjabi University
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 2
To discuss the recent trends in research and advancements made in the field of micro and macroalgal biotechnology, a two-day national symposium is being organised by the Department of Botany, Punjabi University, Patiala, from February 4.

The symposium would be inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, at the Science Auditorium on February 4 at 10.30 am. Prof A.N. Rai, Head of the Department of Biochemistry, N.E. Hill University, Shillong, will deliver the keynote address, while Prof D.N. Tiwari, Chairman, Centre of Advanced Study in Botany, Banaras Hindu University, will preside over the symposium.

As many as 60 delegates from across the country are expected to take part in the symposium.


School board clerks protest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 2
Clerks of the Punjab School Education Board, who were selected during the regime of the Akali government, organised a protest march against the ‘anti-employees’ policies of the state government here today. In all, 134 clerks took part in the protest.

Mr Raghbir Singh alleged they were selected during the regime of the Akali government, but were not given appointment letters. He said the state government should issue appoint letters to them as they were selected by the previous government.

They also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister. They would intensify the struggle, if the government failed to resolve the issue, they said. Those who addressed the protesters included Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Mohindra Pal Singh, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh and Mr Jaswant Singh.


Chicken sale down by 25 pc
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 2
Even as no case of bird flu has been reported in the region, the fear psychosis created by it among the residents of the Malwa region has started affecting the sale of chicken, which has come down by 25 per cent in the past few days.

As the sale of chicken in the region has been dipping day by day, prices have also been coming down. On an average, the sale of chicken in the region comprising Bathinda and its neighbouring district has come down by 25 per cent and prices of chicken have fallen by between 20 and 25 per cent in the past few days. The price of chicken has come down between 55 and Rs 60 from between Rs 65 to Rs 70 in the past few days.

Mr Raj Kumar, owner of a local restaurant, has pointed out that those, who relish chicken dishes have started shifting to mutton and cheese dishes.

The sale at poultry farms in the region has also started showing a downward trend while the sale of mutton and fish has started picking up. “We have been feeling that we are out of business as we have been getting less orders for chicken this year,”, points out an owner of a poultry farm in the Barnala area.

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