P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Khursheed comments rattle Punjab Congress
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
While ruling Congress in Punjab is feeling “disturbed” over the senior Congress leader, Mr Salman Khursheed’s, observation that there will “ no easy sailing” for the party in Lok Sabha elections in the state, the BSP in the absence of electoral alliance with any political party in Punjab yet, has started shortlisting candidates for contesting all Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Though no ruling party leader is ready to comment officially on the observations made at a press conference by Mr Khursheed yesterday that “ Akali unity” would make the things tougher for the Congress in the state, yet senior leaders of the ruling party are piqued over these comments.

They say that this statement would be used by the SAD-BJP combine to hit at the ruling party during the election campaign. Mr Khursheed should not have made any comment regarding the division in the ranks of the Congress party in the state also. Already, infighting in the two main factions of the ruling party in Punjab has caused a incalculable political damage to the party in the state, but Mr Khursheed’s observation made at a stage, when the party is trying hard to keep the focus away from the infighting for a while and concentrating on elections, would demoralise the party rank and file.

Informed sources said that the senior leaders of the ruling party would take up this issue with Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, who is to visit the state on February 16 in connection with Lok Sabha elections. Interestingly, Mr Khursheed spoke high about the Congress party in Haryana and predicted that the party would win “ absolute majority” in Haryana. It would have been better if similar observations would have made by Mr Khursheed in case of Punjab, said a senior ruling party leader.

“Though it is a fact that Akali unity would provide a tough challenge to the Congress in Punjab, but to admit this fact by a senior leader of the Congress on record goes against the election strategy and tactics of the ruling party in the state”, said the ruling party leader.

He said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had never given any weightage to Akali unity and always preferred to “fight political” battles with SAD by making hard hitting tactical statements against it. “ Question is not of Akali unity but of the manner Congress handles its campaign against top Akali leaders such as Mr Parkash Singh Badal”, said the Congress leader.

“If the Congress succeeded to hit at top Akali leaders the way it did before the Assembly elections, the things would become hot for SAD-BJP combine in the elections”, said the congress leader. “ We have lot of material at our command that could be strategically used against Mr Badal and his top associates to dent their campaign during the Lok Sabha elections”, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, President of the Punjab unit of the BSP, told The Tribune this evening that the party was preparing to contest all the 13 seats in the state. “


Guru Nanak varsity honours Yash Chopra, Dr S.S. Johl
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Guru Nanak Dev University honoured Mr Yash Chopra, noted producer and director, Dr Sardara Singh Johl, Vice-Chairman, Punjab State Planning Board, Mr Reuben Singh, British Ambassador for Entrepreneurship and Mr Harbhagwan Singh, Advocate-General Punjab with honorary degrees for their contribution in respective fields at 30th annual convocation, held here today.

The university also honoured Mr Kartar Singh, Asian gold medal winner wrestler and Director of Sports, Punjab and Ms Satinder Satti, a TV artiste with gold medals.

Justice O.P. Verma, Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university who presided over the convocation conferred these degrees and medals on these eminent Indians. Mr Justice V.N. Khare, Chief Justice of India was the chief guest on the occasion. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor read out citations before the award of degrees and medals.

Dr Sardara Singh Johl was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Sciences for his contribution in the field of agricultural economics. Mr Yash Chopra was conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for his contributions to art and culture. Similar Mr Reuben Singh was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of his contribution in the filed of world entrepreneur ship. Mr Harbhagwan Singh was conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for contribution in the legal field.

The Chancellor also presented gold medals to old students of the university Mr Kartar Singh and Ms Satinder Satti. Mr Justice V.N. Khare addressing the graduates said that today was age of competition and to meet the global challenges, our young scholars would have to bring quality in work and they also must develop expertise and culture to improve skills and knowledge through the web-based electronic education mode.

At this convocation more than 400 degrees were awarded including 70 Ph.D, 40 M.Phil, 13 M.Tech, three LLM, 34 MA, 21 M.Sc (Hons), 70 M.Sc, 20 B.Sc (Hons), and 19 B.Tech under various faculties and 106 scholars were presented with Gold Medals for standing first in respective examinations. The postgraduate degrees were awarded by Justice O.P. Verma while graduate-level degrees were conferred by Dr S.P. Singh.

Jagdip Kaur and Dhiraj Singh received two gold medals each. Jagdeep Kaur received Sardar Ishar Singh Attari memorial gold medal and Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir gold medal for standing first in MA (Punjabi) held in April 2003. Dhiraj Singh got Sardar Bahadur Sardar Bhai Jodh Singh Medal and Bhai Vir Singh Medal for standing first in MA Punjabi (semester system). Baba Ganda Singh Chatiwind Memorial Medal was presented to Amarjit Singh for being top in MA religious studies in April 2003. Amarjit Kaur received Sardarni Gurdev Kaur memorial medal for securing first position in B.Sc Home Science held last year. Navneet Kaur of Chemistry department was honoured with late Shri Sham Sundar Nayyar Trophy for standing first M.Sc (honour) in Chemistry.

Shrimati Satinder Kaur memorial medal was awarded to Jasmeet Kaur for standing first in B.Lib and Information Sciences. Shrimati Balbir Ballah Memorial Medal went to Daljit Kaur for being topped in LLB April 2003. Sardar Sampuran Singh Memorial Medal was received by Harpreet Singh Saini for topping in M.Sc Physics. Jasdeep Singh won Ravneet Singh Kahlon memorial medal for getting highest marks in project of his B.Tech Electronics, sixth semester, 2002 and Gaurav Jain got medal of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India for securing highest marks in B.Com Paper-V, April 2003.

Mr Harbhagwan Singh urged the state government to establish a law university in the state. Mr Yash Chopra urged the state government to honour NRI Punjabis with ‘Punjab Rattan’ award for their commendable jobs in respective fields. Mr Reuben Singh said that he would talk with the university authorities regarding the placement of its students in England and providing scholarships to meritorious students.


Yash wary of shooting in Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
Expressing apprehensions over security, noted film-maker Yash Chopra has categorically ruled out taking his artistes to Pakistan.

The noted film-maker a recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, was conferred with the Doctor of Philosophy (honors causa) at the 30th convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University here today. He agreed to Pakistan’s request to avoid anti-Pak sentiments in Indian films and TV programmes.

Yash Chopra, who is currently on the advisory board of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, criticised the government and the Censor Board for their leniency regarding vulgarity in films and TV programmes. On remix songs on TV, he said no one could see these vulgar videos with family. He denied any mafia-film nexus.


DGP keen to put his thesis into practice
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Even as Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director-General of Police, said today that politicians, being representatives of the public, had the right to intervene in the working of the police, his thesis, “Police sub-culture — an analytical study”, drew parallels between politicians and British rulers.

He was here to receive a PhD. degree at the 30th convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University today. In his thesis, Mr Siddiqui wrote that after Independence, political leaders had used the police in the same manner as the British. He said policemen were often in a dilemma whether to obey wrong orders or to displease their boss. He wrote in his thesis that politicians considered police as a resource which they could use according to their needs.

Mr Siddiqui said he would try to implement the recommendations made in his thesis in due course.

In the introduction to the thesis, Mr Siddiqui said, “Amidst a changing and disturbing scenario, the police force is called upon to provide remedial measures for long term and day-to-day societal problems. Even as the police force had changed its role and responsibilities since Independence, problems are aggravating at a rapid pace and the inadequate force is already stretched to the maximum. Limited manpower and increasing social problems have only contributed to an increasing stress on police personnel. Unlike other work forces, the police does not have a fixed pattern of work and must be geared to meet expected and unexpected emergencies for an unspecified period of time.”


Punjab asks for 140 companies of
paramilitary forces
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
The Punjab Police has asked the central government to deploy 140 companies of paramilitary forces for conducting free and fair Lok Sabha elections.

Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director-General Punjab Police, stated this to the press after receiving his Ph.D Degree at the convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

Mr Siddiqui said that there was no chance of regrouping of militants in the state. Moreover, Pakistan which had been aiding and abetting terrorists in the past had already denounced terrorism.


Fiscal dose for aided colleges
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Just when the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) threatened to hold a rally at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on February 16 and 17 in support of its long pending demands, two developments have taken place almost simultaneously, perhaps, more by design than accident.

One, under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, Rs 72 crore, per annum, are believed to have been sanctioned to the government-aided 140 colleges, against Rs 56.9 crore for 2003-04. Two, office-bearers of the PCCTU have been invited for talks with the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, at Ludhiana on February 16.

What is the import of these two sudden developments? As for the first, this means, the government, perhaps, has restored 10 per cent cut imposed in 2002-03, due to which the aided colleges had got Rs 64.8 crore, against Rs 72 crore.

Incidentally, the proposal for 10 per cent cut in grant was first mooted by the Akali-BJP government in 1999-2000. The same, however, was held in abeyance following protests by the PCCTU. Thus, the colleges had got Rs 72 crore in 2001-02.

However, in view of the poor financial health of the state, the present Congress government decided to implement the decision to impose 10 per cent cut on the grant-in-aid. It, therefore, released only Rs 64.8 crore in 2002-03. This grant was further reduced to Rs 56.9 crore in 2003-04, which has now been reportedly restored. However, the private-aided colleges are demanding restoration of “up-to-date grant”, estimated by them at Rs 110 crore per year.

As for the second development, the PCCTU is likely to take up with the Chief Minister implementation of the pension-cum-gratuity scheme and also to bring 32 un-aided private colleges under the ambit 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

The invitation for talks was extended to the PCCTU by the Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar. As a result PCCTU General-Secretary, Dr V.K. Tewari, has withdrawn the proposed rallies in Delhi.

Will the government now accept PCCTU demands, pending since December 18, 1996? Going by the past experience, several members of the PCCTU are still skeptical, if the cut in the grant-in-aid scheme and sanction of Rs 72 crore for the current financial year had been withdrawn and money would be actually released or is it just a tactical move of the government with Lok Sabha elections at the door-step?

In retrospect, it is said during the governance of late Beant Singh, thev PCCTU was promised pension-cum-gratuity scheme. A 32-page notification to this effect, however, was passed in December, 1996, when Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was the Chief Minister. The same was not implemented by either the Akali-BJP government or Capt. Amarinder Singh government.

Meanwhile, a fresh scheme was drafted and notification issued in July, 2002.

The PCCTU as well as the managements of the private-aided colleges had rejected it out of hand. In fact, the PCCTU was peeved at the Congress having gone back on its word to give pension-cum-gratuity, as promised in the assembly elections manifesto-2002.

On the contrary, it imposed 10 per cent cut in 2002-03. The cut was proposed in 1999-2000, when it was stated that this cut would remain operative till the grant-in-aid reached 50 per cent level. Understandably, only when the PCCTU had protested, ranted and raved, threatening to boycott the annual examinations, that the Akali-BJP decided not to implement it. In fact, there had been no review of grant-in-aid scheme every five years, as stipulated in the Act. The last review was done in 1981.

The outcome of February 16 talks, therefore, assumes significance. There are 5,000 teachers in 172 private colleges of whom 3,900-odd are in the aided and remaining in 32 un-aided colleges. Majority of these un-aided colleges had come up after 1981 and are located in rural and Kandi areas. These are mostly girls’ colleges.


Pak approves 4 boys’ return
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 14
Four of the seven under-17 Pakistani boys languishing in the local juvenile jail for the past about a year can look forward to returning home on February 17 with the Pakistan Government approving their repatriation.

The nod given by Pakistan has been delayed by nearly five months, following their release orders issued by the Government of India on September 25.

The four boys — Babar Ali of Attari Aki, Amjad Khan of Sheikhupura district, and Sagar Ali and Sabar Ali of Qasur — have appealed to their government for taking a similar step for the remaining three boys, Altaf Shah, Nasser Ali and Asif. Their release orders were also issued along with them and they were interviewed by the High Commission of Pakistan on October 3 in New Delhi for identification.

Conforming the directions received from the Central government for their repatriation, Mr Kulchhinder Singh, SSP, said the four boys would be taken to the Wagah border post on February 17 for handing over two officials from Pakistan.

The Border Security Force had nabbed eight Pakistani boys, including a Hindu, Dinesh Kumar, under my mysterious circumstances from different sectors of the border over a year ago. On compassionate grounds, the Central government decided to release all of them on September 25, 2003, and informed Pakistan of the decision. The First Secretary of the Pakistan High Commission interviewed all of them on October 3, but later issued clearance only for the repatriation of Dinesh Kumar, who was released on November 14.


Congress warns BJP on remarks against Rajiv
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 14
The Congress today warned the BJP against making derogatory remarks against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was recently acquitted in the Bofors case.

Making a scathing attack on Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley, who suggested in the Rajya Sabha that the CBI might appeal against the judgement, Mr Ashwini Kumar, AICC spokesperson, said today, “It is very shameful on the part of the BJP to drag the name of a martyr, who laid his life to maintain the integrity of the country, for gaining political mileage in the coming elections.”

“The Congress believes that such statements by the BJP spokesperson are part of a calculated campaign to sideline the real issues of these elections. The party will expose such blatant and irresponsible attempts to divert attention from the real challenges before the nation, which the NDA government has miserably failed to redress during its over four years of rule,” he added.

Stating that the Congress had already entered into an alliance with 16 national and regional parties for the general election, he said talks with the BSP and a faction of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) were still on. He hinted that the poll pact with these parties would be formalised soon.

Without mentioning the party’s plans to field Priyanka Vadhra and Rahul Gandhi, he said he could only say at this juncture that the two would be star campaigners for the poll.

“The Congress will soon release three documents — a poll manifesto, a vision statement and a resolution regarding empowerment of weaker sections of society,” he added.


Inquiry in pond encroachment begins
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
Mrs Gurwinder Kaur Chahal, Principal Secretary (Revenue), Punjab, today began an inquiry into the alleged encroachment on a pond situated over shamlat land.

Mrs Chahal, listened to residents and owners of different pieces of land on which the pond is situated and fixed the next hearing for March 4. The filling of the pond with earth has been stopped until then.

“She has gone through the record, apart from listening to the people. The inquiry has been ordered by the state government after a news items appeared in a section of print media in connection with the alleged encroachment on shamlat land,” Deputy Commissioner, K.A.P. Sinha said.

He said the magisterial probe which had been ordered by him would be stopped now as the government had ordered an inquiry.

Members of three families, who claimed ownership of the land met Mrs Chahal and presented documents in support of their claims. They also alleged that certain vested interests, who had faced criminal cases earlier for land grabbing, were trying to by mislead the district administration.


Images of royal era at heritage fest
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 14
Soldiers dressed in the traditional Patiala military colours lighted ramparts of the Quila Mubarak, the fort palace of the erstwhile Patiala rulers, and with the Governor maintaining that the previous government had failed in its duty to preserve the heritage and culture of the erstwhile state heralded the start of the Patiala Heritage Festival here today evening.

Local girls set the tempo for the inaugural ceremony by getting the “jago” (flame) to light up the inaugural lamp from the “jyot” in the Quila Androon which has been burning for nearly 200 years. The girls sang traditional couplets espousing the sanctity of the occasion besides performing giddha with the lighted Durbar Hall in the background.

The inaugural lamp was lit by Punjab Governor Justice O P Verma (retd). He was accompanied by state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, his wife Preneet Kaur, Tourism Minister Ashwini Sekhri, INTACH vice president S K Misra and Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor picked up the thread from the earlier speech of the Chief Minister who had dwelt upon the fact that an attempt was made to preserve the heritage of the city earlier in 1995 - 96 but that the Akali - BJP government had put a stop to this activity after it came to power.

The Governor said it was the fundamental duty of every government to make all efforts to preserve the country’s rich cultural heritage. He said this duty had been neglected till last year when the present government had taken the initiative to hold cultural festivals for all three zones of Malwa, Doaba and Majha in the state.

Justice Verma said even he did not know about the existence of the Quila Mubarak until he came to the city. He said steps should be taken to make people aware of the rich heritage of the State. He also urged the Patiala Heritage Society which is conducting the festival to host a light-and sound programme in the Quila Mubarak premises itself to depict the history of the city.

Earlier, the Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that “sangeet gharanas” were on the wane. He said he had got the opportunity to listen to a Sham Chauraisia gharana geet of Kapurthala while on a visit to Pakistan. He urged the people of the city to get their children to the classical performances saying that was the only way the heritage of the city and its people could be preserved.

The Quila Mubarak complex looked resplendent today with lights showcasing the quila ramparts and the gates of the Quila Mubarak and the Quila Androon.


Peg, pagri intact but gates forgotten
Tribune News Service

PATIALA: The Patiala peg and pagri is often remembered, but the historic gates of Patiala, which provided safety and succour for more than a generation, seem to have been forgotten with the gates missing out the largesse which has been bestowed on a number of monuments and landmarks of the city in preparation of the Heritage Festival starting from February 14 to 22.

There are not many gates to look upto now. Out of the 11 known gates of Patiala, as many as six no longer exist. What are left have been allowed to go into decay for so long that a concerted restoration effort would be required to bring them back to their former glory.

The Punjab Archaeology Department has also not exactly covered itself with glory while trying to restore some of the gates. It has virtually changed the complexion of Sirhindi Gate which has been restored by it a few years back. Besides shoddy workmanship which belies the era in which murals and even delicate brickwork adorned the gates, the department is also guilty of just creating inner concrete pillars and an arched beam below the original arch structure. This besides narrowing the gate also robs it of its original glory as the concrete pillars do not go well with the original building.

Presently, besides Sirhindi Gate, other gates which are still standing are Sunami Gate, Samania Gate, Tope Khana Gate and Darshani Gate. The gates are a pale shadow of their former self with the Tope Khana Gate and the Sunami Gate being in a precarious condition. The Sunami Gate near Modi College has huge cracks on its facade. The rooms constructed on its first floor are gutted and it is usually smothered with painted advertisements. Though some of these advertisements and posters have been scraped off, nothing has been done to restore the gate structurally since years.

Similarly the Tope Khana Gate is in a poor shape with parts already falling down. Further apathy may well lead to its demolition as was done in the case of other gates of the city which were literally bought down by the people when they became unsafe.

Noted art historian Mohan Singh Kamboj, who has earlier worked as a Director of the Culture and Archives Department, says the historic gates of the city were its most important ingredient when they were constructed by Maharaja Karam Singh.

The gates were wrapped in the culture of the times. Guru Granth Sahib was installed in all the gates with “path” being held at scheduled timings besides “kirtan”. Though the “Dharmarth Board” is still enjoined to continue with this practise, unsafe buildings and shortage of staff with no new appointments in decades has resulted in “path” being held at only one or two gates now.

The Patiala Development Authority (PDA) had earlier proposed to complete restoration of one gate before the Heritage Festival by asking a private party to sponsor the restoration work.


‘There is still hope for gharana culture to revive’
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 14
The notes of the tabla interspersed with the heady reverberations of ghungroos assail you from afar as you approach the room where mother-daughter duo vocalist Primila Puri and Nandita Puri are busy rehearsing for the inaugural event of the Patiala Heritage Festival wherein they will showcase an interesting fusion of the powerful technique of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak with the speedy gayeki of the ‘taan pradhan’ Patiala gharana.

Primila Puri, the first disciple of Ustaad Munavvar Ali Khan, son of the scion of the Patiala Gharana, the legendary Ustaad Bade Ghulaam Ali Khan, is well known for her mastery over ‘khyaal’ singing, though she excels equally in her rendition of other light classical forms such as the ‘taraana’ and ‘thumri’. “We are thrilled to be here. To be able to present to the audience the essence of the gharana which originated in this very region is a reward in itself”, says the singer, who is the only performing vocalist of the Patiala Kasur Gharana around.

Musing over the decline of the gharana, Primila says”, “The shift is beginning to come about, though not radically. It may yet take more time for people to come out of the robust bhangra mood but there is no denying the emergence of a refined aesthetic sensibility among them. I shall be happy if I can inspire upcoming artistes from Punjab to adopt the gharana “, explains the artiste.

Having trained for 12 years in strict guru-shishya parampara under noted artiste Roshan Kumari, who is reputed for her technical excellence of the Jaipur Gharana, Nandita reflects “ So much of innovation has crept into the medium that purity of technique seems to have taken second place to improvisation. I, however, revel in the energy projected by ‘Nritta’ (pure dance).” Something that has buoyed her up immensely after her arrival in the city is the venue of her performance, the historic Quila Mubarak. Already Nandita has started responding to the aura emitted by the ambience subconsciously and it is reflected in her practise, considering that it is the first rehearsal the duo has been able to manage after Nandita’s arrival from Mumbai this very day where she was busy shooting for an episode till the wee hours of the morning.

With a note of pride in her voice Primila Puri states “ She is a `gambhira` and it is this maturity beyond her years that allows her screen presence to dignify many a character in various serials”. Nandita, who is into choreography as well has to her credit the famous dance sequence of the much acclaimed ‘Sardari Begum’. It was during the choreography of Vinay Dhumaale’s serial ‘Upanyaas’ that she was offered her first role that launched her into the world of television.

Accompanying her is tabla player Kalinath Mishra of the Banaras Gharana.


CPM keen on Hoshiarpur seat
Our Correspondent

Sangrur, February 14
The Punjab unit of the CPM wants to contest the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat in place of Sangrur during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. A final decision about the seat will be taken at a general body meeting of the Punjab unit of the party in Hoshiarpur on February 16. The meeting will be attended by Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, general secretary of the party.

Stating this here today, Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state CPM, said the party was considering three Lok Sabha seats — Sangrur, Hoshiarpur and Phillaur. He said the general body would discuss the seats before taking a final decision.

He said the CPM had an alliance with the CPI. He said it would have an understanding with the Congress. He appealed to the Congress not to field its candidate from the seat to be contested by a CPM candidate.

He stated that the CPM would support the CPI candidate in Bathinda.


Beant murder accused in country: Swami
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 14
The Union Minister of State for Home, Mr I.D.Swami, today said that the alleged assassins of Beant Singh, who had recently escaped from Burail Jail in Chandigarh, were still in the country. Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Swami said intelligence reports suggested that the accused were still in the country as timely alert sounded at all exit points had made their escape difficult.

“We have sounded all international airports and sea terminals in this regard and sketches of the accused have been sent to the officials concerned. We have also collected some vital clues about the identity of those who helped them in their escape and there will be more arrests in this regard,” he said.

The minister debunked the reports that there were chances of the revival of militancy in Punjab and said the people of the state had rejected such attempts in the past.

Besides, intelligence reports also suggested that there was no threat to the security in this part of the region, he said. Claiming that 225 hideouts of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, had been busted during the past four years in the country, he said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir would soon return to normalcy. Regarding the fencing work on the international border in Jammu, he said the project would be completed by 2007.

Regarding the plan to curb militancy, he said the government had set up three task forces for border management, internal security and information collection.


Editor defies Sikh clergy, yet again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Adopting a tough posture against the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, organisers of the World Sikh Convention said here today that the Editor of a monthly magazine, Mr Joginder Singh, would not appear before the sikh clergy to seek “ pardon” in any manner.

Led by Jathedar Vedanti, the Sikh clergy had declared, Mr Joginder Singh, “tankhaiya” on February 5. He was asked to appear before the Sikh high priests by March 10. Otherwise, he would be “excommunicated” from the Sikh community.

Claiming the support of about 100 sikh scholars, whose list was also distributed among media persons, Mr Joginder Singh said that he and his supporters did not recognise Jathedar Vedanti as Jathedar of Akal Takht because he had been appointed by the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Jathedar Vedanti and other high priests had no powers to declare any body “tankhaiya,” he added. Neither the All India Gurdwara Act nor the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh code of conduct) had empowered the Sikh clergy to “punish” any Sikh, he added.

Mr Joginder Singh announced that those who had organised the World Sikh Convention last year would meet again on March 14 to chalk out the next course of action to oppose the sikh clergy for its various actions.

Dr Mann Singh Nirankari, who was also present at the press conference, said that to excommunicate any Sikh from the community was a Brahaminical practice. It was against the principles on which Khalsa Panth was raised. “ Lot of arbitrary decisions were being taken by Sikh high priests. It should not be done. There was no power with the Jathedar of Akal Takht to issue any edict”, he added.

Mr Mohinder Singh Josh, who runs several sikh missionary colleges across the state, said in case Mr Joginder Singh was ex-communicated, he and his other friends would increase interaction with him. “ We would defy the Jathedar Vedanti on the issue of ex-communication with all our might”, he added.”


Novel protest against caste-based quota
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 14
Activists of the General Categories Welfare Federation today protested in a novel way against reservation in jobs and 85th Constitution Amendment. To express anger against bypassing merit at the time of admission, appointment and promotion, the highly qualified educated unemployed youths belonging to the General Categories did shoe-shining, rickshaw- pulling and running a “rehri” along the GT road Mr Nirmal Singh, State general secretary of the Federation, claimed that this symbolic action was resorted to highlight bleak future that awaited meritorious and educated youths of the general categories. These odd jobs were done by an  unemployed  doctor, advocate  and engineer respectively to show plight of educated persons belonging to the General Category. 

This followed a protest march, demonstration and rally in the town against the caste-based reservation and 85th Amendment which  the protesters alleged promoted interests of the creamy layer among the Scheduled Castes, politics of the vote bank and  social hatred. The protesters held awareness rallies en route the march to apprise the public of how reservation had become a  hereditary phenomenon and failed to better the lot of 99 per cent poor-Dalits benefiting only the creamy layer. They demanded economic-based reservation.

The protesters presented a memorandum to Executive Magistrate Vijay Sharma for submission to the Punjab  Chief Minister warning that the policy of pandering to the creamy layer would boomerang. Besides Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Narinder Sharma, Mr Sushil Sharma, Mr V.K. Malhotra, Mr Amarjit Singh senior GC leaders addressed the protesters.


Shiv Sena burns Valentine posters
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 14
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) led by District Vice-President Inderjit Karwal today made a bonfire of posters and cards related to Valentine’s Day to protest against the invasion of foreign culture and bids to pollute the young minds.

It was also learnt that the activists tore the posters on Valentine’s Day displayed in a card gallery on Mandi Road. Activists kept Valentine’s revellers at bay and succeeded in shooing away lovebirds as the Valentine Day affair was a low key affair in Phagwara.

Meanwhile the Shiv Sena Hindustan led by District President Ajay Mehta presented a memorandum to local DSP Jaspal Singh demanding a ban on Valentine’s Day.


Harpreet murder case witness fails to
recollect details

Patiala, February 14
A key witness in the Harpreet Kaur murder case today claimed that she could not recollect details about the residence of Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, an accused in the case, to which she had claimed to have gone earlier.

Paramjit Kaur, sister of Kanwaljit Singh, the alleged husband of Harpreet, the daughter of former SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur, was cross-examined in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge. During cross-examination she claimed that she could not recollect anything about the residence of Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, a confidant of Bibi Jagir Kaur. Paramjit Kaur was asked by the Akali leader’s counsel to describe the residence of Ms Dhesi besides details about its drawing room, porch and architecture. Paramjit could not recollect these details. The judge has fixed March 23 and 24 as the next date of hearing. — TNS


Farmers, transporters block traffic
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 14
Farmers, vegetable commission agents and transporters of the local new Subzi Mandi today blocked traffic on the Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road in protest against the alleged beating of a farmer, Harpal Singh of Mona village by the employees of a parking contractor of the local Market Committee.

The block was lifted on the assurance of action against the culprits by police officials.

Harpal Singh told mediapersons that he had come to the mandi in a jeep for selling vegetables. He was asked to pay the parking fee, which he refused as farmers were allowed free parking, he claimed. This led to a dispute and the parking contractor’s employees allegedly roughed him up.

During their scuffle, the farmer claimed, he lost Rs 5,000 and a gold chain. His produce could also not be sold as it was damaged. The police had not registered a case till the filling of this report.

Farmers and commission agents said they would observe a strike tomorrow.


Govt defying HC order, says BJP leader
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
The state government was defying the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the old age, handicapped and widow pensions, alleged Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president of the BJP, in a press release here yesterday.

Ms Chawla said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Chief Secretary, and the Deputy Commissioner on October 14 to release the pension immediately after a public interest litigation. The state government had ignored the orders.


New therapy for heavy uterine bleeding
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
Uterine balloon therapy could be a boon for those women who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding and were considering surgery like hysterectomy.

This was stated by Dr R. M. Sarogi, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynacology, Seth G S Medical College, Mumbai, who was here today to introduce uterine balloon therapy in a local private hospital.


Court quashes plot allotment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Coming down heavily on Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Limited, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that its decision to allot a plot in Ludhiana was “vitiated by arbitrariness”, besides being “violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”. The court has quashed the letter of intent issued in the favour of allottee — Punjab Electro Chemical Engineers Private Limited.

Pronouncing the orders on petitions filed by two Ludhiana-based firms, the Bench ruled: “The arbitrariness of the decision taken by the Allotment Committee is demonstrated by the fact that it did not ever refer to the applications made by other parties, including the petitioners”.


Farm workers seek law on social security
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
The Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU), owing allegiance to the CPM, today asked the Union Government to enact a comprehensive Central legislation for agriculture workers to ensure their social security and raise their economic status. In another resolution, the union urged the Central Government to open ration depots in every village and town for providing basic commodities at cheap rates to weaker sections of society, besides providing free education and health care to agriculture workers and their wards.

These resolutions were adopted at a rally organised at the Kaula Park Market here today by the PKMU on the occasion of its 24th delegate convention. The rally was presided over by Mr Ram Singh Noorpuri, acting president of the PKMU, Mr Bant Singh Narnol, secretary of the district unit of the CPM, and Mr Ram Singh Jawandha, district president of the PKMU.

Addressing the rally, Mr Surjit Chopra, joint secretary of the All-India Khet Mazdoor Union, alleged that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had betrayed the people of the country by not keeping poll promises.

Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM, lashed out at the NDA government for harping on the “feel good” factor. He said the “feel good” factor had not affected crores of Indians who were still unemployed and deprived of education and health care.

Mr Vasdev Jamsher, state general secretary of the PKMU, Mr Raghunath Singh, state general secretary of the CITU, and Mr Lehmbar Singh Taggar, general secretary of the Punjab Kisan Sabha, also addressed the rally.


Youth dies, five booked
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
Lakhwinder Singh (18) of Gaga village near Lehra, died at the Civil Hospital here today. He allegedly had been administered some poisonous substance by some persons. The Lehraga police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against five persons — Jarnail Singh, Dharampal Singh, Darshan Singh, Gurjit Singh and Harcharan Singh of the Gaga village in this connection.

An ASI of the Lehragaga police station at the Civil Hospital here today said Mr Gobind Singh, father of the deceased, had lodged a report with the police that his son, Lakhwinder, had died due the administration of some poisonous substance forcibly by some persons who had been levelling allegation that his son had stolen a motor of their tubewell. The father had also alleged that his son had been picked up at 10 am the previous day by the accused and beaten up. The father alleged that when Lakhwinder came back to house, he had been shouting that he had been administered some poisonous liquid by the accused, the ASI stated.


Wife, paramour held for man’s murder
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 14
The police has cracked the murder case of a villager and the arrest of the wife of the victim and her paramour.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP in a press statement here today, said that mutilated body of Sodhi Ram of Mehatpur was recovered from the fields of Gurpal Singh of Khurshaidpur village in Nakodar on February 12 morning.

During investigation, it was found that the wife of the victim Balwinder Kaur and her paramour Jagdish Lal were behind the killing. Both of them were arrested and the weapon and blood-stained clothes of Jagdish were recovered.

The arrested persons revealed that Balwinder had illicit relations with her neighbour Jagdish Lal, father of three children. Sodhi Ram came to know of the relationship and used to beat up his wife.

Subsequently, the lovers hatched a plan to kill Sodhi Ram. On February 11, Jagdish asked Sodhi Ram to accompany him to Gandhran village and offered him drinks on the return. As soon as they reached near Khurshaidpur village, Jagdish pretended that his scooter had developed some snag. Subsequently, Jagdish hit Sodhi in his head with a sharp-edged weapon and also cut his jugular vein.

The arrested persons were being produced in a court.


Drivers booked for assaulting cop
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
A criminal case has been registered against conductors and drivers of three buses of the PRTC for allegedly manhandling a head constable of the traffic police.

Following the registration of the case, employees of the PRTC blocked traffic at the local bus stand today.

The SP (City), Mr Nilabh Kishore, reached the spot and managed to lift the blockade. He said a case under Sections 353, 186, 148, 149 and 34 of the IPC had been registered.


Bus conductor booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
The Mehta police under Majitha police district has booked Palwinder Singh, a bus conductor of Shehnaz Bus Service for defrauding the company by giving fake tickets to passengers.

A case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC has been registered.


Two arrested for murder

Amritsar, February 14
The police today arrested Dharminder Singh and Baljit Singh of Vallah village here last evening in connection with murder of Gursharan Singh, a resident of the same area.

Mr Sarvan Singh, father of the deceased, in a complaint lodged at Sadar police station here yesterday had alleged that the two had killed his son with a sharp-edged weapon as he was returning home with a friend.

A case has been registered.


12-day NCC camp begins
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 14
A 12-day annual training camp of the NCC began in the hostel campus of the government college here today. Cadets of senior division from the local Government College, the ITI Khalsa College Anandpur Sahib, and 20th Punjab Batallion Bathinda are participating.

Addressing the cadets today, the camp Commandant Col J. S. Bains appraised the cadets of the importance of the A, B, and C certificates issued to the NCC cadets.

The cadets would be trained in map reading, drill, weapon training and firing. They will also be involved in social service in the area in and around Ropar town.

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