P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Will Cabinet come to their rescue?
Reappointment of 909 Panchayat Secretaries
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The vexed issue of re-appointment of 909 sacked Panchayat Secretaries is slated to be placed before the Punjab Council of Ministers, which is likely to meet on February 17, it is reliably learnt.

This issue has already seen the exit of the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr S S Dhillon. He has been replaced by Mr S.R. Ladhar, hand-picked by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Will the latter do what Mr Dhillon did not or could not do?

It is perhaps, for the first time that an administrative department has prepared the memorandum to be placed before the Council of Ministers, recording only the factual position, including far-reaching legal and administrative implications, rather than suggesting any way out.

The re-appointment of these Panchayat Secretaries has reportedly been made a ‘’personal and prestige’’ issue by Ms Bhattal. She is also peeved at the way the bureaucracy has been responding to her ‘’orders’’ that the appointment letters be issued to those Panchayat Secretaries.

Ms Bhattal, sources said, was pursuing the Panchayat Secretaries’ appointment, notwithstanding the legal hurdles involved. She seemed to ignore the fact that the issue was inconclusive, as the Punjab and Haryana High Court was monitoring its investigation that it had entrusted to the CBI. The CBI has so far submitted two interim reports to the court. Its final report is awaited.

It is on record that this issue was earlier discussed at the meeting of the Council of Ministers only ‘’informally’’ on January 20, as recorded by the Chief Secretary. He had also written that it was for the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats to take further action. The department officers were unwilling to take further action keeping in view the legal advice tendered by the

Advocate-General. His comments read, ‘’...It is not advisable to take these people back in service. The state government may employ them on a contract basis, if the work of the state is suffering because of the termination of their services and the resultant vacancies..’’. But Punjab has filed an affidavit in the court, saying that its work was not suffering.

After the Panchayat Secretaries marched to her residence here on January 29, an agitated Ms Bhattal wanted their appointment letters to be issued right away, which, she was told could not be done unless the Department of

Personnel granted ‘’relaxation’’ in the May 26, 2003, policy.

Ms Bhattal wanted these Secretaries to be given appointment on a ‘’stop-gap’’ basis. The Personnel Department quoted the May 26, 2003, circular according to which no appointment could be made for ‘’89 days, temporary or on an ad hoc basis’’. On ‘’stop-gap’’ the Personnel Department gave no comments, as this word was not mentioned in the May 26, 2003, policy.

When told of this development, Ms Bhattal is said to have talked to the Chief Secretary and sent a note to the department on February 5, saying that the term ‘’stop gap’’ means ‘’contractual’’ and, accordingly, the appointment letters be issued to 909 Panchayat Secretaries on a ‘’contractual’’ basis ‘’today’’.

She also wrote that the appointment letters could be given till such time the verdict of the High Court became available in the case. She had reiterated the issuing of appointment letters was ‘’unanimously’’ decided at the January 20 meeting of the Council of Ministers. The fact, however, is that only an ‘’informal’’ discussion was held and no such decision was taken, as the Chief Secretary recorded on January 21.


Naidu to launch campaign
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 15
Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, BJP chief, will inaugurate a campaign of the Punjab unit of the BJP on February 21, 2004, here for the coming election of Parliament. He will address a big rally at Roshan Ground.

This was stated at a press conference by Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary, BJP unit, Punjab, here today. Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, will accompany Mr Naidu. A similar rally would be held at Phagwara on February 23 which would be addressed by Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister for Law and Justice. Rallies would also be held in Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore this month.

He said “Jawab Do Hisab Do” campaign was being launched in Punjab by the BJP.

Its workers were approaching electorates on the district and mandal levels to obtain their signatures on the banners seeking reply from the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government regarding its promises made in the election manifesto of the Congress in the last Assembly election. These promises had not been fulfilled so far”.


Oust NDA govt, says Cong
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 15
Terming the slogan of the NDA government “feel good” as an attempt to divert attention of the people from real issues, the Congress today exhorted the people to oust anti-people and corrupt government.

Speaking at the state-level convention on “Issues before the nation: role of intelligentsia” organised by the Vichar Vibhag cell of the AICC here at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, the AICC general secretary and in charge of the Punjab Congress Affairs, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, alleged that the NDA government had failed to provide jobs to the youth and had only supported corrupt ministers, the slogan “feel good” was shameful for the government.

Mr Ashwini Kumar, chairman of the AICC Vichar Vibhag, said it was a cause for concern that intellectuals were being denied their due status in the society by political leaders.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said multinational companies were “feeling good” for the patronage extended by the Central Government, but more than 30 crore people were still not able to feed them due to its anti-people policies. Meanwhile Ms Mohsina Kidwai told reporters that the talks with the BSP for forging a pre-poll alliance at the national level were still on even as the formalisation of the process would take some more time.


Amarinder rules out Cabinet expansion
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, February 15
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today categorically ruled out a Cabinet expansion to accommodate rebel Congress leaders and said instead the strength of the Cabinet would be reduced before July 2, the deadline for implementing the Act passed by Parliament, which limits the size of the Cabinet to 15 per cent of the strength of an Assembly.

The Chief Minister was talking to reporters here after laying the foundation stone for lawyers’ chambers at the District Courts complex.

Asked about the implementation of the peace formula worked out by the Congress high command to buy peace between the Chief Minister and the rebel leader, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, he evaded a direct reply and maintained that the CLP was fully united.

The Chief Minister announced that he was not in favour of allotment of the party ticket for the Lok Sabha elections to sitting MLAs as it would result in more byelections in case they won.

Regarding his meeting with the Union Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitely, on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, he said, “The meeting with the minister and the Attorney-General, Mr Soli Sorbajee, was very successful and they assured Punjab of maximum help.”


13-member panel to review Congress candidates’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 15
The AICC Chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has constituted a 13-member joint central election committee (CEC) of senior central leaders of the party to review the names of the party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. All state bodies will forward the names of the aspirants to the CEC which will after discussing the issue mutually forward the lists to Mrs Gandhi for giving final touches, this was stated by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, a senior Congress leader and MP from Punjab, while addressing a press conference at Jaito Friday. Mr Brar who was at Jaito to attend the ardas of the grandson of late former state Food and Supplies Minister. While refuting press reports regarding sending a final list of candidates from Punjab by the state body said only a panel list of a number of contenders from 13 parliamentary constituencies had been forwarded to the central election body.


Youth Cong workers gherao Mohsina’s car
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 15
The AICC general secretary, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, today faced the wrath of Youth Congress workers, who gheraoed her car at the local railway station to register their protest against the removal of Mr Rajinder Raja from the presidentship of the District Youth Congress Committee.

Hundreds of the Youth Congress workers led by Mr Rajinder Raja laid down in front of her car when she was going to attend a state-level convention. Ms Kidwai was later handed over a memorandum in this regard. She assured the workers to take up the matter with the president of All-India Youth Congress Randeep Singh Surjewala.

A delegation of the workers also met Capt Amarinder Singh to apprise him of the situation. Earlier, more than 100 workers and office-bearers of the District Youth Congress resigned from the primary membership of the party.


Hanspal calls meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, has called a meeting of the Presidents of the District and Block Congress Committees here at the Punjab Congress Bhavan on February 16. Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary of the All-Indian Congress Committee and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to address the meeting. Party’s strategy vis-a-vis Lok Sabha elections would be chalked out at the meeting, according to Mr Raj Pal Singh, media secretary of the PPCC.


News Analysis
River water dispute: options before Punjab
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, February 15
What are the options before Punjab while it awaits the Supreme Court order on the suit filed by Haryana that seeks the dismissal of Punjab’s suit on construction and commissioning of the SYL canal?

Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Irrigation, said, “We are exploring three options. One, the state has already filed a suit in the Supreme Court. Two, a complaint was filed under Section 3 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956, with the Union Ministry of Water Resources, on January 13, 2003. The third option was to file a civil suit challenging the proceedings of the Eradi tribunal’’.

The Supreme Court reserved its order on February 11 after hearing the two states for two consecutive days on an application moved by Haryana seeking the dismissal of Punjab’s suit on construction and commissioning of the SYL canal.

On the other hand, Punjab maintained that it had filed an application under Article 131 of the Constitution for reconsideration of the January 15, 2002, Supreme Court decree that made it mandatory for Punjab to construct the SYL canal within one year or else the Centre would step in.

Punjab pleaded that it had not wilfully delayed construction of the SYL canal. Also, the circumstances had changed a lot in the past two decades during which the water flow of the Ravi and the Beas, which was to be given to Haryana through the SYL canal, had reduced. The court, however, made it clear that the water dispute was not the subject-matter of the suit as it was confined to the question of completion of the canal.

In the complaint lodged with the Ministry of Water Resources, Punjab had pointed out that there was reduction in the availability of surplus Ravi-Beas waters from 17.17 million acre feet (MAF) in 1960-80 to 14.37 MAF in 1981-2002.

Mr Lakhanpal pointed out that Punjab had also taken into consideration several other related issues. One, Haryana was not a riparian state as the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej do not flow through Haryana’s territory.

Besides, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Arjun Charan Sethi, met and exchanged letters on setting up a fresh tribunal. But there was no meeting ground on the setting up of a new tribunal, as demanded by Punjab.

Capt Amarinder Singh met the Union Minister of Law and Justice, Mr Arun Jaitley, on February 10, demanding the constitution of a new tribunal under section 4 (1) of the Inter-State water Disputes Act, 1956.

The Centre suddenly revived the Eradi tribunal, which started proceedings on January 31 for hearing review applications under section 5(3) of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956, filed by Punjab in August, 1987. The next date of hearing is March 13.

Capt Amarinder Singh has said Punjab will not leave any option unexplored to protect its rights or explain the adverse consequences of construction and commissioning of the SYL canal. In the intervening period, Haryana has received good share of water from the Yamuna as well as under an agreement between India and Nepal on linking the Sharda and Yamuna rivers. Haryana is also not a riparian state’’.

The SYL canal runs for 122 kms in Punjab and 91 km in Haryana. It has already claimed several lives and cost Rs 750 crore between 1982 and October, 2003. Were it to be commissioned, an equal amount of money would be required, said engineers.

Even though no work has been done on the SYL canal since 1990, the state exchequer pays Rs 28 crore annually as salaries etc to 1,600 employees on the rolls of this abandoned project.

Board to identify schools to check copying
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 15
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) plans to identify schools in each district for conducting annual middle, high and senior secondary examinations by appointing the supervisory staff of the respective institutions to check copying on experimental basis.

The question papers will be provided by the board in this regard. However, the head and management of these institutions would be penalised if their staff or any other member of the institution were found indulging in malpractices during the examinations. The state government has been apprised of the scheme. If the plan is approved more and more schools will be asked to adopt this scheme said Dr Kehar Singh, chairman of the board, while talking to the reporter here yesterday. He was here to chair the annual prize distribution function of MRSD Senior Secondary School. Dr Kehar Singh said the board would appoint the supervisory staff, due to the failure of the District Education departments in containing the menace of copying.

Later, presiding over the function he underlined the need for making changes in the present education system by introducing objective-oriented courses not only for the betterment of the younger generation but also to meet the global challenges. Mr Makhan Lal Goel and Mr Sukhmandar Kaur Brar, Circle Education Officer and District Education Officer, Faridkot, respectively also spoke on the occasion. Earlier welcoming the chief guest and the other dignitaries, Mr Jagdish Rai Sharma, Director cum Principal, MRSD Senior Secondary school, apprised the gathering about a number of achievements made by the school in the academic, sports and cultural field at state and national-levels during the past two years.


CM inaugurates Heritage Crafts Mela
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 15
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, inaugurated the Heritage Craft Mela being held from February 15 to 29 at Sheesh Mahal here today.

The mela showcases the rare acumen and craftsmanship of nearly 150 artisans who are participating in this festival.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government had chalked out elaborate arrangements to commemorate festivals regularly in the Malwa, Majha and Doaba regions to acquaint the people about their traditional and cultural folklore.

He added that no nation could survive without the development and progress of its art and culture.

He urged the people to preserve the glorious cultural heritage of Punjab so that our future generation could link the past with the present socio-economic and demographic aspects of society.

He added that it was an excellent opportunity and platform for the craftsmen from all over the country to exhibit their talent through their masterpieces of art and craftsmanship.


Flip side of Heritage Festival
Encroachments dot Qila Mubarak entrance
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Shops in front of the Qila Mubarak that have been extended
Shops in front of the Qila Mubarak that have been extended. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, February 15
The Qila Mubarak, the fort palace of the erstwhile kings of Patiala, may be the main showcase of the Patiala Heritage Festival with all classical programmes being held there, but encroachments right in front of its main gate seem to have bothered none.

Any visitor coming to the Qila Mubarak has to crane his neck to see its main gate as there is practically no open space in front of it from where one can admire its facade. There is a road in front of the gate which has prevented encroachment within a few feet of the gate itself. However, on the other side of the road, the shopkeepers have edged forward considerably.

The administration of the Shiv temple, which is situated in front of the Qila Mubarak gate, has given shops on rent on all four sides of the temple premises with there being only a narrow gate for devotees to enter the temple.

According to sources, the temple is nearly as old as the city itself. However, when the Qila Mubarak was coming up, it was a small affair and the large open space in front of the Qila was known as Qila Chowk. However, after Partition the complexion of the chowk changed with refugees and others putting up tents in the open space and starting their small vocations.

Later on, the temple was enlarged. The temple management made shops on all four sides of the religious place. These were then let out. As the construction was old, all shops were ramshackle affairs. During the past decade, on the pretense of changing roofs and modernising shops, the shopkeepers have been enlarging their premises with none to check them. This has eaten into the open space in front of the Qila Mubarak.

Residents say while nothing can be done about what happened years earlier, the administration and the Municipal Corporation could have taken notice of the encroachments that occurred after the start of the Heritage Festival in February last year.

Few shops have been recently extended on the side of the bank. These shops have new shutters and one can easily make out from where the old shutters were removed and new ones were put in place. Though encroachments seemed to be in the knowledge of lower-level officials of the Municipal Corporation, nothing was done to prevent it.

The Archaeological Department is also guilty of turning a blind eye to the use of the shops situated along the Qila Mubarak walls. These shops are on rent and cannot be sublet. However, at least three shops have been sublet recently and the new proprietors have opened new business there.


Three diverse gharanas combine and dazzle audience
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 15
It is rare to come across artiste from three gharanas who after having evolved their own styles are able to fuse together their expertise. The confluence of the Patiala, Jaipur and Banaras gharanas here last night was able to conjure such an effect.

The artistes succeeded in creating a dazzling amalgam of the veer ras of the Jaipur gharana, the joie de vivre lurking in the notes of the robust Patiala gharana and the excellence of the Banaras gharana. Perhaps the bond that binds vocalist Primila Puri and danseuse Nandita Puri also had something to do with the on-stage magic they were able to create at the beginning of the heritage festival in the city.

With the magnificent facade of the ethereally lit Quila Mubarak behind her Primila Puri commenced with a kyaal in Raag Behaag.

Nandita Puri began her performance with the traditional invocation followed by an “uthaan”.

The highlight of the evening was a novel presentation by the artistes wherein Nandita performed “abhinaya” (emoting) against the original “bandishes” (a song or a composition set to a raag) of the Patiala gharana rendered by Primila Puri.

Nandita was accompanied by Zameer Ahmad Khan on the harmonium. Veval Sharma on the flute and Ghanshyam Sisodia on the sarangi. Primila Puri was accompanied on the tabla by Idris Khan while her younger daughter Chandrika Budhiraja provided vocal support.


Govt patronage will decide future of performing arts: Chaurasia
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 15
Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia looks bemused when you ask him about the future of flute in India in the present scenario wherein more and more classical artistes prefer to establish academies in the West than in the country. His reply is “can there be any doubt about the flute? Can you question the status of the sun or the moon?”

Belonging to the Maihar Gharana, he is here to perform at the Patiala Heritage Festival, which took off yesterday.

He stated, “Until the government decides to change its policy on the patronage it will extend to artistes in the country, most parents will continue to discourage their children from joining this field. The promise of a secure and lucrative future can drastically tilt the scales in favour of the performing arts”, he added.

Talking about his bit towards popularising classical music among the youth, he said, “I have already established two gurukuls in Mumbai and San Fransisco, which are based on the ancient “guru shishya parampara” and my vision is to establish a score of such schools all over the world. The silver lining he says is the immense popularity the flute enjoys both here and abroad.

Not many know that the flutist hails from a family of wrestlers and that he cut short his training in wrestling at the age of 15 to take up first vocal classical music, only to shift a year later to the flute. The man who has no peer as far as “phoonk” (the subtle manner of blowing into the flute), got his first training under Pt Bhola Nath for eight years. His talent, however, was honed by his guru sur bahar maestro Annapurna Devi, the illustrious daughter of Ustad Allauddin Khan.

He is one of the few musicians who can successfully adapt themselves to both classical and popular music. He has won the most coveted awards of the country. He and Pt Shiv Shankar Sharma has composed music for many hit films, including “Darr”, “Lamhe” and “Silsila”. The short flute piece in the superhit film “Hero”, which became very popular, is attributed to him.

Not averse to improvisation, Hari Prasad Chaurasia has at times played the part of an innovator while retaining a traditionalist’s content of classical music. He is also known for some memorable “jugalbandis” with stalwarts, including Pt Jasraj, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma. He has also lent his talent towards promoting fusion music in collaboration with certain western artistes.


Bahujan Samaj Morcha merges with BSP
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 15
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha, a breakaway group of the BSP, led by a former MP, Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, merged with the BSP today. A “Bahujan ekta rally” was organised at Dana Mandi, Banga, to mark the merger.

The rally was addressed, among others, by Mr Narinder Kashayap, national general secretary, Mr Mann Singh Manhera, national secretary, BSP, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state BSP president, Mr Devi Dass Nahar, state vice-president, and BSP Mr Kainth.


Cong has let down people, says Bibi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 15
A former SGPC President and Akali MLA, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said today that the Akalis would win the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll in the state. She said the public was totally disillusioned with the ruling Congress, which had failed to fulfil even a single poll promise.

She was talking to newspersons here on the occasion of the marriage of Harjit Kaur, sister of Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, an Akali stalwart and her associate.

She said the Akalis were committed to safeguarding the interests of Punjab, especially on the waters issue, but could not do much as the case was in court.


Panthic board to contest 20 LS seats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
The newly constituted Panthic Parliamentary Board today decided to contest 20 Lok Sabha seats and work for the defeat of the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance. Of the 20 seats 13 are in Punjab, one in Chandigarh, two each in Haryana, UP and Delhi.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Secretary-General of the board, said the meeting at which this decision was taken was attended by six of the nine members, including Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Mr Jagjit Singh Chohan and Mr Kashmir Singh Patti.


Programme in memory of Kargil martyrs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 15
The Kargil Memorial Cultural Club organised a cultural programme in memory of Kargil martyrs at Bassi Pathana today. The function was inaugurated by Mr Mohinder Pal, District and Sessions Judge.

Addressing the gathering, he said, “Those who sacrifice their lives for their nation are always remembered. They become immortal and a source of inspiration for coming generations. At the same time, it becomes our moral duty to ensure that their families are looked after properly.”

He appreciated the efforts of the club in honouring the families of martyrs and for extending help to them. He paid floral tributes to martyrs.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function. He said communities that forget and did not respect their martyrs could not make progress. He said we could hardly pay the debt of such families. He said the administration had been making efforts to solve problems being faced by such families as soon as these were brought to its notice. He announced a grant of Rs 11,000 to the club.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, was the guest of honour. He said the district police was committed to provide all help and assistance to such families.

Ms Amar Jyoti, nephew of Saheed Bhagat Singh, was honoured with Saheed-E-Ajam Award by the club.

Mr Amarjeet Singh Cheema, president of the club, who is also the president of the District Bar Association, highlighted the achievements of the club. He said the club had been providing help to martyrs’ families and assured that they would continue to do so. He also presented the Pride of Punjab Award to the Deputy Commissioner for conducting the Saheedi Jor Mela in true religious spirit.

Renowned Punjabi folk singers enthralled the audience.


Pastor tenders apology to Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 15
The timely intervention of the police and the district administration averted a confrontation between Sikh youths and Christians at Khojewala village under the Sadar police station in this district today.

More than 200 Sikh youths assembled at the village to stop Christians from holding a congregation at open Door Church.

Later, Harbhajan Singh, pastor at the church, tendered an unconditional written apology to the Jathedar of Akal Takht and other Sikh organisations for his derogatory remarks against Sikh gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.

The pastor and two others were arrested by the Kotwali police on the charge of distributing objectionable posters at Nurpur Khiranwali village under Section 295-A of the IPC and were later released on bail.

Following the tendering of the apology, elders of the village pardoned Harbhajan Singh, who assured the Sikh Panth that no such incident would take place in the future.

Hundreds of Christians, who came to attend the weekly congregation, returned on the request of the management of the church.

The district administration has deployed a police party at the church.


Another scam in Irrigation Dept?
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 15
The Irrigation Department seems to be dogged with scams. A section of civil work contractors alleged that contracts were awarded to a select few contractors on full rates despite certain contractors having expressed their willingness to execute the same work at less rates.

Mr Arvind Kumar Garg, a contractor, in a complaint to the state Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh and the State Vigilance Bureau authorities, alleged that on Friday the irrigation department authorities of Bathinda Canal Division opened tenders worth more than Rs 4 crore. The tender forms were issued to a select few contractors by the authorities concerned despite the fact that other contractors had also applied for tender forms.

He alleged that even works were allotted at full rate to those contractors, who had already given affidavit to Deputy Commissioner, to execute the same work on 15 per cent less rates.

He pointed out that if the works were allotted to the contractors through competitive bidding, the government could have saved crores of rupees. Information gathered by TNS revealed that for the past many years, a number of irregularities had been committed in the Irrigation Department and hundreds of crores of rupees had been misappropriated with official connivance during the SAD-BJP rule.

Mr R. K. Chaudhary, Executive Engineer, Bathinda Canal Division, said tender forms were issued to all those who were present in his office yesterday. He added that though the time of opening of tenders was fixed at 4 pm, the same were opened at 6 pm. When asked why some contractors, who were willing to execute some works at 15 per cent less than the full rates he alleged that these contractors were earlier trying to blackmail him by submitting affidavits to the Deputy Commissioner and now they had filled full rates in their respective forms.


Two officials cross over to Pak for talks

Wagah, February 15
Two senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry today crossed over to Pakistan to discuss modalities for composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) Arun K. Singh and Under Secretary (Pakistan) Deepak Mittal crossed over the Wagah border this afternoon.

“I am going to Islamabad to commence the process for composite dialogue following the joint statements issued in Islamabad on January 6, 2004, after the meeting between Prime Minister (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) and the leadership of Pakistan,” Arun Singh told reporters at the Indo-Pak border before leaving for Pakistan. — PTI


Najma: Pervez for action against honour killings
Pawan Kumar

Wagah, February 15
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has called for strict action against honour killings and urged to review the Huddod Ordinance, which lays down stringent laws for women, according to Dr Najma Heptullah, Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, who returned today after attending a summit of the First Ladies Regional Steering Committee for Advancement of Rural and Island Women, Asia-Pacific region, held in Pakistan.

She said the President of Pakistan had admitted that some laws in Islam were discriminatory against women. General Musharraf said the teachings in the Quran regarding women should be interpreted correctly. She said India had offered parliamentary-level cooperation for empowerment of women in Pakistan.


ADGP compares corruption with slavery
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 15
Additional Director-General, Punjab Police Chander Shekhar yesterday said here that evil of corruption was as grave as that of slavery.

He was addressing a function organised by the All-India Anti Corruption Forum, according to a press note by Forum President P.S. Passi. Mr Chander Shekhar said that this evil could be eradicated in 24 hours if people cooperated in this connection. We should all pledge to fight corruption, he said. Like water, corruption also flowed from above to below, he remarked. The bigger the corruption the stiffer the punishment should be, he contended.


Cong leader hits out at ex-SSP
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 15
Mr Ajay Thapar, a local Congress leader today alleged that former Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal had deliberately, in connivance with his political rivals, registered a false case against him.

He said Mr Umranangal had falsely claimed that many incriminating documents were received from his agency after it was sealed off. However, it was a simple complaint by the Passport Office, Chandigarh, he said. He demanded an investigation into the two-year working of the former SSP.

Mr Thapar has already filed a complaint against Mr Umranangal, the Passport Officer and three other persons under Sections 499, 500 and 120-B of the IPC.

Meanwhile, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr M. P. S Pahwa, discharged Mr Thapar, who was accused in service charges case registered against him in June, 2002.


Residents stop train for 3 hours
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 15
Residents of Majithia Enclave stopped a goods train for nearly three hours here today in protest against the railway authorities’ allegedly keeping the railway gate closed for long periods without any reason.

The residents alleged that the gate of the level crossing number 24 was kept closed for longer periods than necessary. It caused inconvenience to the public, they said.

The president of the Majithia Enclave Development and Sanitation Committee, Mr K.K Sharma, said they had earlier written to the Chairman Railway Board, New Delhi, in this regard. He had assured them that the matter would be dealt with soon, but nothing was done, he added.

The local Sub Divisional Magistrate, Mr Tej Pratap Singh Phoolka, reached the spot. He said the problem was genuine and he would write to the railway authorities to look into the matter immediately.

Those who addressed the gathering included Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr Jaswant Kumar, Mr Ranwinder Sharma, Mr Manmohan Singh Grewal, Mr Vikram Sharma and Mr Parampal Singh.


Turkey farming promoted in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 15
After crop diversification, the Punjab Government is planning to launch a diversification drive in the animal husbandry section. For this Turkey farming is being introduced in the state. Initially 200 Turkeys were provided to farmers in different parts of the state. The move received tremendous response and more and more farmers were now demanding Trukeys for rearing. The government had decided to import 1,000 Turkeys, said Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, while talking to newsmen here today. He was here to supervise a training programme for veterinary pharmacists in the Ropar Semen Bank.

He said Punjab was first state in north India to introduce Turkey farming. The meat of Turkey contained less fat and was rich in proteins. Its demand was also increasing in five star hotels. Moreover, the demand was at its peak during Christmas. Farmers in Punjab, by switching over to Turkey farming could cash on the niche market, which till now was being dominated by farmers of the south.

While responding to another query, Mr Kang said the results of the cattle census conducted in the state would be made available within a week. The ordinance of the Punjab Government regarding the Herd Registration Act was also awaiting the Presidential nod. He said the semen bank at Ropar till today had trained 29 veterinary officers and 107 veterinary pharmacists. These officials were helping, achieve better success rates of artificial insemination in the state.

Mr Kang also visited the local gaushala where stray cows were being bred by artificial insemination. He told 25 per cent cows in the Gopal gaushala of Ropar were successfully bred through artificial insemination.


Panel to regulate sale of drugs
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 15
To regulate sale and check manufacture of spurious/ drugs on the guidelines of Government of India, the Punjab Government has constituted the state Drug Advisory Committee, said a spokesman of the Health Department here yesterday.

The committee’s tenure will be of two years and would meet quarterly. The Director Health Services, Punjab will be its chairman and state Drugs Controller is member secretary.

In addition to eight official members, Mr Kuldeep Nanda, President Punjab Pharmacy Council, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Satpal Mohindra, Mr Vinod Bhushan, Mr Dharambir Kapoor and Dr Surinder Singla, would be non-official members of the committee.


Batala to have police community centre
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 15
Dr A.A. Siddiqui, DGP, Punjab, along with Mr J.P. Virdi, IGP Punjab, Border Range, visited Batala yesterday then proceeded to Quadian.

During their visit at Batala, they met all 13 in charge of police stations fell under Batala police district.

Dr Siddiqui also said that a “police community centre” would be set-up here and for this he had sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 lakh, he said.


18 injured in road accident
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 15
Eighteen occupants of a three-wheeler were injured as it collided with a car on the Abohar-Hanumangarh road on Friday.

Sources said the three-wheeler, coming to the town from Bhagu village was carrying 20 passengers against the sanctioned limit of 10.

The injured include Ranbir, Ajay Kumar, Hari Ram, Kalu Ram, Mool Chand, Bhajan Lal, Guddi, Puja, Parmeshwari, Savitri, Saroj Rani, Shanti Devi and Shimla Devi and others.

All of them were brought to the Civil hospital here The police has registered a case.


Cop beats up 2 milk vendors
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 15
Two milk vendors, Sukhdev Singh and Nachhattar Singh, of Gobind Pura village of this district were allegedly beaten up by a policeman here yesterday.

After the milk vendors were beaten up, they were admitted to the Civil Hospital where the medical tests were conducted on them.

On the complaint lodged by the victims, district police chief Kapil Dev has ordered the DSP, Phul, to probe the allegations levelled by them and submit the report at the earliest.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Nachhattar Singh was picked up on the way by the policeman while he was going back to his village after distributing the milk in the city and was beaten up. Then he was taken to the Cantonment, police station.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, who was known to Nachhattar Singh, was also beaten up by the policeman when he went to meet Nachhattar Singh in his house.

Hospital sources said they had suffered bruises on their backs and legs.


3 held with opium, fake currency
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 15
The Sadar police yesterday arrested three persons from Nathuchahal village on the charge of possessing fake Indian currency of Rs 5 lakh and two kg opium.

In a press note issued today, Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, said on a tip-off the police party conducted a raid in an abandoned rest house in the village and arrested Gurjit Singh Sandhu, Balwinder Singh and Dilbagh Singh of village Dhun in Amritsar and seized fake currency and opium.

Mr Asthana said they had purchased fake currency on cheap rates for sale in the area.

The fake currency notes had been brought from anti-national forces to weaken the economy.

The police also seized their Suzuki motorcycle and registered a case under Sections 489-A, 489-B, 489-C, 420 and 120-B of the IPC against them.


Lifetime achievement award for Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 15
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Dr Bal Ram Jakhar was given lifetime achievement award on the first day of three-day Silver Jubilee function of the Homeopathic Medical College here yesterday. His son and former minister Sajjan Kumar Jakhar accepted the award in the absence of his father.

Mr Tara Singh Ahuja, Chairman of the College, said the Dr Jakhar had made valuable contribution in development of educational institutions in this area in the past 40 years.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, said that Mahant Tirath Singh Sewapanthi, Chairman of Bhai Kanahya Sewa Society had done a great service to humanity by taking over this medical college founded by citizens like Mr Balwant Singh and Dr Ganpat Rai Trikha.

He honoured Chaudhary Hanuman Dass, Dr O.D. Trikha and Prof R.S. Phore former members of the managing committee.

The students who topped in the examination were honoured. A cultural programme, including Gujarati dance Dandia and Sammi dance of the west Punjab was performed by students.

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