P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal to meet top BJP leaders
Tug of war over seat sharing
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, February 18
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal will meet top BJP leaders to sort out the differences over sharing of seats in Punjab. Sources close to Mr Badal said he would go to Delhi on February 20 for talks in this connection.

Mr Badal is under pressure from senior party leaders to allocate only two seats — Amritsar and Gurdaspur — to the BJP, which wanted Hoshiarpur and Phillaur as well. Mr Badal feels that the SAD has better chances of winning from Hoshiarpur than the BJP. Last time when the BJP contested three seats, including Hoshiarpur, it could win only from Gurdaspur.

Mr Badal would not part with Phillaur at any cost as he wanted to field his confidant, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, from there. The BJP wants Phillaur for Mr Vijay Kumar Sampla, a senior leader.

After his meeting with top BJP leaders, Mr Badal would announce the party candidates for the remaining seats. However, the candidature of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Zora Singh Mann is almost certain from Faridkot and Ferozepore, respectively.

A senior SAD leader said Mr Badal would not invite further trouble by allocating four seats to the BJP. Giving the party ticket to Mr Naresh Gujral has not gone down well with a section of the SAD.

Mr Badal is facing another problem. Sources said his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, had made it prestige issue to allocate the party ticket from Ludhiana to Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, President of the youth wing, who organised a big rally at Bhanor, near Ludhiana, on February 16. The rally was planned to project Mr Sukhbir Badal as a frontline leader of the SAD.

There are reports that the rally has caused heart-burning among senior SAD leaders who see the rally as a clever move by the senior Badal to hand over the baton of the party to his son in the near future. Most senior leaders of the SAD stayed away from the rally as a mark of protest, said an Akali leader from Ludhiana.

Sources said Mr Badal was not willing to give the party ticket from Ludhiana to Mr Dhillon. Mr Badal’s first choice, according to party insiders, is Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, a former Mayor of Ludhiana, followed by Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal. SGPC Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra feels that Mr Hira Singh Gabria would be the best choice for Ludhiana.


Panthic Board to contest 13 LS seats
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 18
The Chairman of the Panthic Parliamentary Board, Mr Jawant Singh Mann, here today said that it would contest 13 Lok Sabha seats, including 11 in Punjab, one in Haryana and the Chandigarh seat. On the Sangrur seat, the Board would extend support to the President of the SAD (A), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said if former MPs, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, decide to contest as independents, the Board would also extend support to them.

The Board would meet on February 23 at Chandigarh in connection with the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

Mr Mann also said that the Board would field or support panthic candidates with a clean image in Punjab.


Tape reveals political muck
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 18
The revelation about the alleged ‘contract killer’ operating from the high security jail here has put the Shiromani Akali Dal and the jail authorities in a piquant situation.

Senior Congress leaders today released the audio cassette of the conversation allegedly between a 9 person undergoing life imprisonment and brother of senior Akali leader Gurdial Singh who was killed in Bhikhiwind on May 19,2002 name of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister had also figured in the FIR in connection with the assassination of the Akali leader and five others. However, Mr Bhullar was given a clean chit later. During the alleged conversation, in the audio cassette, it showed that supari was being offered by Mr Naunihal Singh a younger brother of the deceased Akali leader for indulging in revenge killings of senior Congress leaders in the border belt. Though Mr Naunihal Singh admitted that he once had talked to Parmjit Singh Pamma undergoing life imprisonment in jail but he denied that he had offered supari. He said the rest of the recording is doctored with to frame the family of the deceased Akali leader.

At a joint press conference, here today, Mr Tejpreet Singh Peter, Mr Tarlok Singh Chakwalia, Mr Ranbir Singh, chairman, Zila Parishad, Mr Darshan Singh, a member of the Zila Parishad and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) also released the 20-page transcript of the ‘sensational deal’ which recorded conversation on 10 occasions in the 45 days. This has corroborated the five-page report prepared by Mr Harmabir Singh Gill, S.P. (city) wherein he had alleged that certain family members of the deceased Akali leader were in touch with, Lakhbir Singh Lakha lodged in central jail. The jail authorities had already seized a mobile phone from Lakha. The Inquiry Officer, in his report had alleged that Lakha was operating his cell phone in connivance with certain jail officials against who he had sought action.

However, Mr Kuldip Singh who recently joined as Jail Superintendent clarified that the alleged conversation between jail inmate might had taken place before his joining. He said now he himself did not take his cell phone in the jail premises. He said even senior officials were searched before they visit the jail premises. The jail superintendent further said that Pamma serving life, term had been on parole for quite some time and ‘the alleged deal’ might have been struck during that period.

Mr Peter, the senior Congress leader, claimed that the name of former Akali Minister and relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal also figured in the conversation. He said though the ‘conspiracy’ allegedly being hatched between certain jail inmates and Akali leaders was also highlighted in the inquiry report of the S.P.


Punjab, Haryana face social crisis on sex ratio
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Dr Nina Puri, the newly elected President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), has warned of a looming social crisis in the country caused by an “unholy nexus between technology and tradition” which was resulting in a skewed sex ratio in favour of men.

“This phenomenon is being witnessed in most states of the country. But it is the worst in Punjab and Haryana which are relatively prosperous and supposed to be educated and progressive,” she remarked in an interview here today.

Dr Puri was in town to attend a felicitation function held in her honour by the Northern region branches of Family Planning Association of India on her election as the Chairman of the IPPF. She is also scheduled to chair a state-level workshop on the “importance of girl child and prevention of female foeticide” to be held tomorrow under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India .

She reeled off figures to prove that in many of the districts in Punjab and Haryana the female:male sex ratio was as low as 754 for every 1000 males. If this continued unchecked, it would lead to a serious social crisis. She would not be surprised if, in a few years time, males from this region were forced to look for brides in other parts of the country.

Dr Puri said it was sad to see that even in educated families which wanted to limit the number of children to just two, there was an overwhelming desire to have at least one male child. This traditional preference for a male baby led them to adopt every possible means to fulfil it. The ultrasound machine which could determine the sex of an unborn child had made it easy for such families to make a choice.

Dr Puri noted that the problem of female foeticide was acute in Punjab and Haryana but in Himachal Pradesh, where most areas were hilly and not easily accessible and where ultrasound machines were few, the sex ratio was almost normal. But in the foothills of Himachal neighbouring Punjab and Haryana where people had to travel just short distances to determine the sex of their unborn baby, the sex ratio was as bad as in Punjab and Haryana.

This proved that it was the easy access to modern technology which caused the imbalance. She was, however, of the view that it was no use blaming the machines and doctors and putting more and more restrictions on them.

“It is not the machine and the doctors but the mindset of the general public which has to change. This is where the empowerment of the woman comes in. She must be educated about her rights and privileges and issues like gender equality.

Dr Puri took over as the President of the IPPF from December 1, 2003.


Authorities pass the buck
Health hazards from Buddha Nullah
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Anurag Verma
Anurag Verma

Nahar Singh Gill
Nahar Singh Gill

S.K. Sharma
S.K. Sharma

S.N. Tewari
S.N. Tewari

Ludhiana, February 18
Apathy and callousness aptly sum up the attitude of officials heading various institutions responsible for the cleaning up of Buddha Nullah and looking after the health of thousands of people living in the vicinity of the nullah who have contracted diseases like tuberculosis and asthma from affluents discharged by hundreds of dying units in the area.

The administrative machinery in the district is concerned more with passing the buck and suppressing the magnitude of the problem by rubbishing media reports rather than taking any corrective measure. Notwithstanding cognizance of the matter by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab Human Right Commission and a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), several officers of the district administration brushed aside the problem as merely “media hype”.

The Tribune had last week highlighted the plight of residents living in areas adjoining Buddha Nullah, where around 10,000 persons are reportedly suffering from tuberculosis. A WHO report has corroborated the fact that those living near the nullah have contracted several diseases from toxic waste being released into it.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said: “I have directed the Civil Surgeon to take stock of the situation immediately and submit a report within two or three days”.

Though district health officials have done practically nothing so far, Dr S.N. Tewari, Ludhiana Civil Surgeon, said: “Six teams of health officials, comprising one medical officer, two nurses and one woman health officer each, have been deputed in the affected areas. These teams will be led by the District Tuberculosis Officer”.

Mr Verma disclosed the administration was planning to involve some NGOs in controlling the spread of tuberculosis. “We would get the relevant details from the District TB Eradication Society and all necessary steps would be taken to eradicate the problem,” the Deputy Commissioner added.

City Mayor Nahar Singh Gill said he would be able to comment only after consultation with the officials concerned.

The Municipal Corporation, on the other hand, has blamed the Punjab Pollution Control Board for being unable to stop the discharge of industrial waste into the nullah. Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, said: “The entire responsibility for the enforcement of pollution-control measures, including the installation of treatment plants, was of the Punjab Pollution Control Board. The power of taking penal action for violation of the pollution norms by the industry, including dyeing units, is also vested in the PPCB”.

Mr Sharma said Buddha Nullah was a rainwater drain. Even now it was the property of the state Irrigation Department. The MC has taken upon itself the responsibility for cleaning the drain within the city limits every year as a flood-control measure to save the low-lying localities from being inundated due to spillage. The job is carried out by the Irrigation Department and the corporation spent between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 30 lakh every year for this purpose.

As a major step towards checking pollution in the nullah, the MC had undertaken the construction of three sewage treatment plants (STPs) at Jamalpur, Bhattian and Balloke under the Sutlej Action Plan. A sum of Rs 25.17 crore had already been spent on this project which was almost 30 per cent complete. Once operational, these plants would treat the entire sewage discharge flowing from the city into the nullah.

Mr Kuldip Singh, secretary the Punjab unit of the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI), has demanded stringent action against the dyeing units. There were several influential dyeing unit owners who used pressure or money power to prevent officials from taking action, he alleged.

Meanwhile, the state government has suspended several staff members of the pollution control board stationed at Ludhiana for dereliction of duty. Charges against these officials are that they sat on complaints against many polluting units and even deliberately misled their superiors. No official of the department was available for comments.

With inputs from Kuldip Bhatia and Shivani Bhakoo


Rajasthan drawing excess power
Punjab, Haryana losing 6 cr monthly
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 18
The Rajasthan State Electricity Board (RSEB) has been drawing power in excess of its share in the Bhakra Beas Management Board, causing loss worth crores to partner states, Punjab and Haryana.

Rajasthan has 15.22 per cent share in the power generation and the rest is shared on a 60:40 basis by Punjab and Haryana, respectively.

According to sources, Rajasthan has been withdrawing 5 lakh units per day excess power for the past 25 years.

The reason cited is a “flaw” committed by Punjab in the Bhakra agreement signed between Punjab and Rajasthan in 1959. In the agreement, the Nangal-based National Fertilisers Ltd and a Kota-based fertiliser factory were kept as common pool consumers.

The BBMB was to directly supply power to the common pool consumers and distribute the rest of power to the partner states. Though the BBMB supplied power directly to the Nangal plant, the power to the Kota plant was supplied through the RSEB.

The RSEB sold power at commercial rates to the Kota factory, thus earning profit at the expense of the partner states. The sources said despite repeated requests by the BBMB, the RSEB never supplied the data of actual consumption by the Kota factory and kept drawing power.

Even now the BBMB was supplying 5 lakh units per day at the rate of Rs 1.80 per unit to the RSEB. At the present commercial rates the RSEB is withdrawing power worth Rs 20 lakh per day or Rs 6 crore per month in excess of its actual share.

The sources said as a common pool consumer the BBMB should have directly supplied the power to the Kota factory. It should have kept a record of the actual consumption by the factory.

The Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, when contacted, said power to the Kota factory was being supplied as per the provisions of the agreement. “The BBMB is bound by the agreement and none of the states has raised any dispute over the issue,” he said.


Set up police posts to check power theft,
PSEB chief urged
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 18
The issue of creation of exclusive police stations to deal with power theft cases, which was given the nod by the state government and is awaiting notification, has come into focus again with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Vigilance Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) writing to the board Chairman to get the move expedited.

ADGP Lalit Bhatia in a letter to board Chairman Y.S. Ratra on February 12 gave details of the approval given to the move by the board in February, 2000 and the fact that the state Power Ministry had also approved the matter in October, 2000. In his letter the ADGP, while giving the details of the progress made by the Andhra Pradesh Government after establishing police stations to deal with power theft cases, requested for expedition of the move and also intimation of action taken in the matter.

The board had moved a proposal to establish police stations to deal with power theft cases in Mandi Gobindgarh, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Amritsar and Jalandhar. The move was also endorsed by the board’s Engineers Association which discussed the issue at a seminar on Power Sector Management in October, 2000 and submitted a recommendation to the state government in this regard.

The PSEB has been sending reminders to the state government to agree to setting up of such police stations and notifying the decision. The Power Ministry had given its assent to the move in April, 2000 on the condition that no additional staff be recruited for the purpose and that no additional financial burden be put on the board. The Home Department had also approved the proposal. The move, however, could not be notified by the Akali-BJP government reportedly due to political considerations with the government fearing that it might upset farmers.

According to the proposal being put forward by the Vigilance Wing of the board, which is patterned on the Andhra Pradesh system, police stations in charges will have the power to investigate power theft cases, make seizures, arrest culprits and present the challan in court. The Enforcement Wing will make a inspection report on the premises itself so that the power theft can be compounded.

The Vigilance Wing is expecting to replicate the success story of Andhra Pradesh which has set up 32 police stations. According to vigilance sources, last year these stations registered one lakh cases, earned a revenue of Rs 9 crore by compounding the power theft case detected by them and also arrested 2,200 persons on charges of committing power theft. In comparison, the sources said, the board had only been able to collect penalty from those committing power theft with practically no one being prosecuted under the drive.

The Vigilance Department is trying to get such police stations opened without recruiting any further staff. It has already set aside six posts of Assistant-Sub Inspector (ASI) for this purpose. Other staff is also proposed to be posted at the stations from the present strength of the Vigilance Department in the board itself.


PU to start BA (Hons) in social sciences
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
For giving grounding to students in social sciences as a whole, Panjab University has given a nod to the BA (Hons) in social sciences course. The classes for the three-year programme, to be started from the forthcoming academic session, would be held at the campus itself and admission would be made through entrance test.

Designed to give a broader inter-disciplinary perspective to students, the course would have a limited 60 seats of which 10 seats would be reserved for NRIs.

“Social science subjects cannot be understood in isolation. The course has a larger academic scope and immense applied value. It would be beneficial in producing scholars of broader perspective,” says the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof S.L. Sharma.

Maintaining a character different from the BA (Hons) course offered in colleges where students are supposed to opt for three subjects, BA (Hons in social science) would entail a foundation course of all subjects from economics to geography and psychology to philosophy, including languages English and Hindi in the first year.

The third semester study would involve sensitising students to social science thought and its relevance in the Indian context while special emphasis would be laid on project and fieldwork in the fourth semester.

“At the end of the course, the students would be given a degree in BA Hons in social sciences with specialisation in a specific subject,” Prof Sharma informed.

Faculty for the course would be drawn from the already existing social science departments on the campus and taught at the Centre for Integrated and Applied Studies in Social Science.

Though the course was imade out for the undergraduate classes on the initiative of the Vice Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, to shape new social scientists who have an overview in social sciences. Students would be eligible for admission to the course after the plus two level.

These recommendations have been approved by the Vice Chancellor and are likely to be tabled at the next Syndicate meeting. A Board of Studies under the Chairmanship of Prof Sharma has been constituted to finalise the syllabi for the course.


Tohra abandons Chandumajra on ticket issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 18
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gurcharan Singh Tohra today admitted parting company with his protege Prem Singh Chandumajra and said the party could not give ticket to one who was looting people and had chosen Capt Kanwaljit Singh for the Patiala seat as he was responsible for giving something to the people.

Mr Chandumajra held three meetings in three different Assembly segments of the Patiala parliamentary seat to pressurise the party into giving him nomination from Patiala. At a meeting in Karhali village, supporters of Mr Chandumajra even raised slogans against the SGPC chief.

Speaking at a function at Ghanaur near here, the SGPC chief without naming Mr Chandumajra castigated him for not bowing to the wishes of the party high command. The meeting, which set the tone for campaign of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, had Mr Tohra saying that everyone should accept the decision of party high command on the distribution of party ticket.

Mr Tohra apparently referring to his former confidant, said while people now were coming back to the Akali Dal, it was strange that some persons were thinking of supporting the Congress. He said even though he had the first right to party ticket, he had not forsaken the right as he wanted to strengthen the party. In a significant announcement he said he would work for the party and would also not ask for SGPC ticket in the future. He however, did not elaborate on the issue with observers saying Mr Tohra could go in for a nomination also to retain Presidentship of the SGPC.

The SGPC chief referring to a statement by supporters of Mr Chandumajra, said it had been alleged that he had entered into a pact with the Congress.

Meanwhile Mr Chandumajra held three separate meetings with party workers to drum up support in his favour and ensure a good turnout for the February 23 meeting being held by him at the Grain Market in the city. Mr Chandumajra had earlier requested SAD President Parkash Singh Badal to meet his supporters in Patiala on February 23 to explain why he had been denied party nomination from Patiala.

At a meeting in Karhali village supporters of Mr Chandumajra again raised slogans against Mr Tohra and claimed that their leader had been denied party ticket under a conspiracy. Mr Chandumajra appealed to them to gather in strength at Patiala on February 23.


Hanspal: CPM didn’t consult us on Hoshiarpur seat

Jalandhar, February 18
The state Congress chief H.S. Hanspal today said that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had announced the candidature of the Hoshiarpur seat without consulting the state Congress.

Without ruling out the possible alliance with the CPM, Mr Hanspal said that as far as the former’s announcement of the candidature of Darshan Singh Mattoo from the Hoshiarpur constituency was concerned, it was done without consulting the state Congress. “Moreover, Hoshiarpur is a strong seat for the Congress, where we have our own sitting MP, Charanjit Singh Channi, and there is no point in leaving the seat for CPM”, he added.


BJP move to field Hema, Dara Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The BJP high command has given a clear indication to its Punjab unit to nominate, Dara Singh, a renowned wrestler turned film actor, from Amritsar and the dream girl Hema Malini from Hoshiarpur for the Lok Sabha elections. Dara Singh belongs to Dharam Chak village near Amritsar. However, there is strong resentment among the party leaders from Punjab against this move of the party high command.

Hema Malini, who hails from Tamil Nadu, is married to Dharmendra. Hema is not new to Punjab. In the past, she has been campaigning for Vinod Khanna, her filmi colleague, who will contest from the Gurdaspur constituency for the third time.

Sources said the BJP high command gave intimation regarding Dara Singh and Hema Malini to the Punjab party leaders today. A senior leader of the state unit of the BJP said they would soon proceed to Delhi to lodge a protest with the high command against the proposed nomination of Dara Singh and Hema Malini. Even certain leaders say they would be ready to take “extreme step” in case party high command remained adamant to put up Dara Singh and Malini.

There is a strong feeling in the state unit of the BJP that the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been behind the move to nominate Dara Singh and Hema Malini from Punjab as the BJP candidates.


CPI ridicules ‘feel-good’ factor
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 18
Mr Pawan Preet Singh, general secretary of the district unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI), has ridiculed the “feel good factor” of the Central Government, which has been claiming a laudable development made in different fields during its over past four-year rule in the country.

In a press note issued here today, the CPI representative said about 35 crore Indians lead restless nights due to non-availability of proper daily meal. More than 20,000 farmers committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab and nearly 84 lakh government employees were either retrenched or retired from the service under VRS schemes due to the alleged poor economic policies of the Central Government during the past two years.

The annual Budget in the education sector was also curtailed from 3.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent, Mr Pawan Preet said. Quoting many more instances regarding the poor rule of the Central Government, he regretted that hundreds of soldiers had to sacrifice their lives during the Kargil war.


PCMS doctors threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Rampura, February 18
The PCMS Association, Rampura Phul unit, has threatened a stir if the police framed any doctor of the civil hospital here for ‘favouring’ Dr Laxmi Garg, shifting to Faridkot hospital after her arrest in an illegal abortion case. The patient was referred to Patiala hospital when she complained of pain on February 7.

In a press note here today, the association alleged that the police was trying to protect the policemen, who took Dr Laxmi Garg to Faridkot hospital even though she was referred to a Patiala hospital, a few doctors of civil hospital here were indicated by an inquiry by SP (D), Ajay Maluja.

The PCMS Association claimed that record of the hospital showed that Dr Garg was referred to Patiala hospital and the policemen on duty were informed if their signatures were also taken on the referral register of the hospital. They added that it showed that doctors had not acted under any influence.

A foetus, (14 weeks old) was allegedly thrown by Dr Garg after carrying out an illegal abortion, was recovered by the police and officials of civil hospital from a garbage dump near level crossing on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section passing through this town on February 7.

Following the recovery of foetus, a case against Dr Laxmi Garg along with a class IV employee identified as Champa was registered under Sections 315, 318 and 34 of the IPC. Both accused were arrested on the same day.

Dr S.K. Goyal, civil surgeon, said that civil hospital authorities had also been inquiring into this matter.


Plea to review caste-based reservation policy
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 18
A state-level seminar on “Caste based reservation and misuse of scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention Act 1989,” organised by the district unit of the General Categories Welfare Federation Punjab, here today flayed politicians for dividing the country on caste lines to meet their personal ends.

The seminar underlined the need for framing policies keeping in view the interests of all sections of society. It demanded that the caste-based reservation policy should be reviewed by all political parties in national interests. Speakers laid stress on sending representatives of the general category to both the state Assembly and Parliament.

Mr Sham Lal, state president of the federation, laid emphasis on enacting a special law for protecting the rights of the general category. Giving a call to the people of general category to unite to fight for their rights, he demanded that the promotion and seniority should be fixed for all categories as per the date of posting of a person in the public and private sectors. He alleged that senior BJP leaders, who had earlier opposed the Mandal Commission report, had violated the decision of the nine-member decision of the Supreme Court for not implementing the 85th Amendment of the Constitution. They had cleared the same by bringing it in Parliament to achieve political gains, he added.

Prof Nirmal Singh, state general secretary of the federation, said the caste-based reservation would cause more unemployment. Mr Gurnek Singh Brar, an advocate, said the reservation policy should be prepared as per the economic conditions.


Sarpanch denied entry into police station
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
Even as the state government has been claiming that it has initiated the process of devolution of powers to panchayats, a section of Congress sarpanches of villages falling under the Nathana block, are agitated over the treatment meted out to one of their colleagues by a police official last night.

About 15 congress sarpanches, led by Mr Bikramjit Singh, Chairman, Zila Parishad today came to meet the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev. As Mr Dev was out of station, the sarpanches met local MLA and Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Surinder Singla, and lodged a complaint against the police official to him.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Gurcharan Singh, sarpanch, Gidder village, went to the Nathana police station, to meet the station house officer (SHO) last night. When he reached at the door of the police station, he was not allowed to enter the place by a police official. When he protested, he was told by the official that he was denied entry into the police station on the direction of their boss.

Mr Bikramjit Singh, when contacted, while confirming the incident, said the policemen should give due respect to the elected representatives of the people. He said that now the sarpanches had been seeking action against the guilty police officials.

He added that Mr Gurcharan Singh went to the police station in connection with a dispute that took place in his village.

He said that Mr Singla had assured that action would be taken against the guilty police officials. He added that Mr Singla would also arrange a meeting of these sarpanches with chief minister, Capt Amarinder Singh on February 20.


Villagers stage dharna before police station
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 18
The Lok Sangram Manch, Punjab, which had launched an agitation against the deletion of the name of an accused, Bachan Singh, from the Chiman Singh murder case by the police, staged a dharna before Sadar police station here today. Hundreds of men and women of different villages raised slogans against the police and demanded the arrest of Bachan Singh.

The agitating villagers also took out a protest march in the town. Mr Bhagwan Chand Almke, executive member of the manch, said an FIR had been registered against Bachan Singh in Chiman Singh murder case but later on his name was deleted by the police from the case. Upon this, the villagers had staged a dharna on January 22.

He demanded immediate arrest of Bachan Singh. Mr Balwinder Singh, general secretary of the manch, Mr Kundan Singh Amiwala of the Teachers Front, Mr Ajmer Singh, president of the Technical Services Union, and Mr Naresh Sethi, addressed the agitating villagers.

They also submitted a memorandum to the SDM.


Hindu jatha leaves for Pakistan

Wagah, February 18
A 130-member delegation of Hindu pilgrims today crossed over to Pakistan to visit the historic Karasraj temple.

Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, President, All India Hindu Rashtriya Sangathan and the leader of the delegation, while talking to the newsmen said they were granted visa for visiting Katasraj, situated in Chakwal district of Pakistan. He urged the government to ease visa restrictions for Hindus also.

The jatha would return on February 23 after spending a week in Pakistan and visiting several other Hindu pilgrimage centres. — OC


Indo-Pak mushaira on Feb 25

Amritsar, February 18
Eight Urdu and Punjabi poets from Pakistan will participate in the Indo-Pak Mushaira to be held here on February 25 at Art Gallery Auditorium. Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh said here today that Anjum Salimi from Faislabad Amritsar-born Rafiq Azhar now based in Lahore along with others would render their compositions on the occasion. He said a number of Pakistani poets had expressed willingness to organise joint mushairas in India and Pakistan regularly encourage young poets. — OC


2 hurt in train mishaps

Bathinda, February 18
Mr Hukam Singh, local resident, and an unidentified person were severely injured when they were hit by speeding trains while crossing railway crossings late last evening. The dead body of an unidentified person was also recovered from the city today morning.

The injured have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital and their condition is stated to be serious. — TNS


Shivratri crowds throng temples

AMRITSAR: Shivratri was celebrated with religious fervour in the city. Residents turned up in large number to offer prayers at various temples. Langers were organised at various parts.

HOSHIARPUR: Thousands of devotees thronged Shiva temples in and around the town and performed pooja. A fair was organised at the Daronacharya Shiva temple at Garget, 24 km from here. Devotees also visited Kaleshwar Mahadev and took, a dip in the Beas.

PATHANKOT: A large number of devotees paid obeisance at the Shiva temple, 17 km from here. The management committee of the Kathgarh Shiva temple organised langar.


Residences of royals re-opened to public
‘Heritage Walk’ starts in Qila Androon
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 18
The Qila Androon, the residential quarters of the erstwhile royalty of Patiala, opened to the general public today after decades with the inauguration of "Heritage Walk" of its painted chambers, courtyards and varying architecture.

The "walk" is the idea of Mr Debashish Nayak who has pioneered other such walks in Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, is targeted at spreading awareness about the city amongst its people and also "connecting" them to it. Before the formal inauguration of the walk in the afternoon, students of the Department of Punjab History were trained to act as guides during the Heritage Festival. The walk will be held twice a day at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.

Mr Nayak says the idea of the walk germinated from a survey among the people of the city. It was found that most of the younger generation had not seen the Qila. "This experience has been seen in other places also as the local people feel they can see their own home monuments anytime. That time usually never comes", he said.

About the manner in which he has initiated heritage walks in other cities, Mr Nayak says he first tries to know the city street by street. "I have been doing that in Patiala for a number of days. Once this is done, I try to understand how much of the old city is still left and trying to make a route which an outsider can understand easily pursue".

The conservationist's Patiala experience has however been somewhat different. "A walk should be over in around two and a half hours. It was felt that taking people around the Qila Mubarak complex itself would take that much time. Because of this it has been decided to conduct a walk of the Qila Mubarak complex only during this year's heritage festival".

However, the Heritage Society has earmarked other walks also, according to Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon. He said it was proposed to earmark another walk of the major monuments. This walk would take the Shahi Samadan (royal cremation ground), Mohindra College, Old Moti Bagh and Sheesh Mahal circuit. A third walk has also been planned. This will cover the inner city starting from Kasaran Wale Chowk to Chhata Nanu Mal (a haveli) and the streets around it which still have corrugated metal balconies and in which the architecture of the old city has been still partially retained.

The present walk which has been thrown open to the public starts from the seat of Baba Ala, the founder of the Patiala royal house inside the Qila Androon gate, to the 'masnad' (an exquisitely painted chamber) and Sheesh Mahal following which it showcases the Putlighar (where puppet shows used to be held) to Bagichi Ghar (a courtyard with palm trees and a fountain network) and going on to Florence Mahal (built for a European rani by a Maharaja) and finally the "dhunni" (smouldering fire) which is placed on the top of the Qila and has been burning for more than 200 years.


Yamini — the prime classical ballerina
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Yamini Krishnamurty
Yamini Krishnamurty

Patiala, February 18
Yamini Krishnamurty is special in more ways than one. Although predominantly identified with Bharatnatyam, she has invested a world of time and energy in lending new dimensions to kuchipudi and odissi.

Three tributaries of the same river as these three traditions are, Yamini managed to bring them together on the same performance space. The Vedic Ballet, which she presented in the eighties, is still regarded by conossieurs as a classic piece that beautifully blends the best in BharatNatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi.

In Patiala for a performance yesterday, Yamini talked to The Tribune about how she offended the middle class by taking to dance at an early age and how she still tried to pursue perfection to fight insecurities.

“There is hardly any time when a performing artiste is not insecure. But we fight fears in artistic ways. My best catharsis is fine artistic expression,” said the prime ballerina, whose life has been documented by the Film Division of India in a film called “Yamini”.

Apart from perfecting melody and line, Yamini has also directed productions based on rich poetic heritage of our times. Her love for poetry comes from her father, Prof M. Krishnamurty, a great Sanskrit poet, who infused in young Yamini the inspiration to excel.

She admits, “Had it not been for him, I would not be where I am. There would not have been any Padma Shris or Padma Bhushans. I inherited love for poetry from him. I never knew I would direct pieces on the poetry of Tagore and Mazoos.”

Also having made Natyamurty, a 13-episode serial for the National Channel, Yamini plans to capture the Bhakti Movement in Kuchipudi. She has prepared a script for the production.

Comparing the richness of the three styles she practices, Yamini says “Having imbibed the nuances of BharatNatyam, I was urged to learn more about the classical dances. I chose the Kuchipudi and Odissi because, like BharatNatyam, they are rooted in temple traditions. In these forms, moods change but mudras remain constant. While BharatNatyam remains the most classical of all styles, with its emphasis on the power of form, Kuchipudi is more romantic. It is complete theatre. Odissi is sculpturesque with it subtle, lyrical tones. Jaideva’s “Geeta Govinda” can be best presented in Odissi.”

Coping with the challenges of performance has not been easy for Yamini. But the blessings of gurus helped her concentrate on objectives, as she says, “I was fortunate to have been blessed by many celebrated gurus. Like a butterfly I went from flower to flower, storing nectar. I must say the gurus in old days were masters in the true sense of the word. They encouraged disciples to touch base with their very spirits. That was the sutra of success. At my recently founded institute, Nritya Kaustubha, I follow the path shown by my gurus.”

Yamini, however, adds that no instruction in the world can make a dancer of man if he/she lacks the qualities, as prescribed in the Natya Shastra. Yamini’s dancer has to have natural speed and grace, has to have the ability to spin herself. The guru declares, “Dance is about devotion. But it is also about extraordinary stamina and a heightened sense of music. Someone who cannot appreciate music can never dance.”


Doyens celebrate classicism
Tribune News Service

Girija Devi presents a delightful vocal recital along with her disciple, Sunanda Sharma, at Quila Mubarak
Girija Devi presents a delightful vocal recital along with her disciple, Sunanda Sharma, at Quila Mubarak on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, February 18
Last evening saw a celebration of classical tradition against the majestic backdrop of Quila Mubarak. As one heritage played host to another, the evening  moved from one level of joy to another, winding up on a blissful note, that emerged from the repertory of Girija Devi.

Paying tributes to legends who enriched Patiala’s music legacy, Girija Devi uplifted souls, treating the listeners to delicacies of the Benaras gharana. Her disciple, Sunanda facilitated the concert that ended in the midst of a thunderous applause, both from the audience as well as the skies.

In fact, had it not been for the cold wave, the recital would have lasted longer.

Girija Devi commenced her presentation with the favourite raag of Lord Shiva. On the eve of Mahashivaratri, the vocalist submitted, “Raag Kedar pesh karti hoon. Yeh Shivji ka sabse priya raag hai. Yeh meri ishwar ko bhent hai, kyonki kal Shivaratri hai (I commence with raag kedar, which is the most favourite raag of Shivji. This is my offering to the Lord on the eve of Mahashivaratri).”

“Jogiya man bhayo re...” set the pace for the evening that acquired beautiful tones as Girija Devi presented the Punjabi tappa. Before presenting “Miyaan nazar nahi aanda ve...Mukhdaa vikha ke dil le jaanda ve...”, she declared, “I will sing the tappa only for five minutes. Beyond that I will neither have the energy, nor the imagination to do so.

After the tappa in raag kaafi, Girija Devi brought out the beauty of Purabi ang thumri. Shorn of ornamentation, the thumri “Sanwariya ko dekhe bina nahi chain...”, was presented with elegance. Soon after, the vocalist rendered Kajri, Holi and dhamar, the other folk styles she is famous for. The beauty of each presentation was enhanced by the accompaniment provided by Kamal Sabri on the sarangi and Mithiliesh Kumar on the harmonium. Earlier, Yamini Krishmamurty delineated Bharatnatyam in its original form. The high point of her recital was the fine quality of music. Not once did it sound as if music had been relegated to the background in favour of rhythm.

The dance music used by Yamini irradiated form. It was inlaid in the dance, not embossed on to it. The only time when it scored over the dance was when lead musician S. Shankar conducted a fusion piece, called taal vadya kacheri.

Her disciples, Rekha and Tejprakash, was equally engaging. Apart from presenting pure dance, Yamini offered something particular to Punjab in the form of Guru Nanak Panthavali, which saw the devotee sing praises of Lord Krishna. The dancer managed many admirers and added move when, after the recital, she declared, “I felt as if I was performing to Gods this evening.”


Ancient crafts lend dignity to mela
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 18
Ancient craft forms are perhaps one part of our cultural legacy which remains partially buried beneath the sand of time and only concerted effort by organisations dedicated to the cause of the artisans of India can offer a ray of hope for our ‘languishing’ art and craft forms. Platforms similar to the ongoing Heritage Crafts Mela being held in the city are perhaps the few oasis left for them.

The stall featuring ‘patta chitra’ craft form from Orissa is perhaps a connoisseur’s delight. As the name implies, this is a painting that is engraved on a palm leaf. Fine paintwork with acute attention to minute detail using pastes made from powdered stones of various hues is the hallmark of the art which is also called ‘taal patta khodoye’. Hours of back-breaking labour go into the making of even the smallest of the paintings.

Strips of palm leaves are threaded together to form a base which is then etched with scenes from the Hindu mythology. A small sharp pen-like knife is used to scrape away the unpainted portion, the painting is then filled with a black paste made from the soot of a diya mixed with gum. While the colour settles down into the grooves, the excess is wiped away with water. All the colours used for the paintings which are predominantly in black are made from powdered stones of different hues.

Niranjan Maharana and Santosh Kumar Das from Puri, Orissa, who are manning the stall explain that the white colour used in the painting is made by crushing courrie shells, while the red is made from the hingul stone, the yellow is derived from the ‘hart’ and the green from the ‘geru’ stone, all of which are found in the quarries of Orissa. In earlier times, the patta chitra was used to send coded messages from the King to his confidants. Now, their use is restricted to decoration alone.

The ‘dokra’ craft which is also from Orissa is on display at the Mela. A mixture of brass, beewax and mud is used to form a stencil for the figurines and animal forms which form its mainstay.


Patran made subdivision
Tribune News Service

Patran (Patiala), February 18
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today announced the creation of a subdivision for this town with immediate effect, meeting a long-pending demand of the people of the area.

Addressing a gathering here at Anaj Mandi after laying the foundation stone of 7.50 km long bypass at a cost of Rs 1.70 crore and 30 bed Community Health centre the Chief Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to development and progress of the state.

Lambasting the central government, Capt Amarinder Singh said that Punjab was being meted out a step-motherly treatment and ignoring the just demands of the state like refusing the industrial package on a par with the states of Uttranchal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Centre was also dilly-dalling on the SYL canal issue to the reasons best known to it. He said that the state Government had pleaded its case with the Centre and clarified out stand that Haryana was already getting more water than even from Yamuna and whereas Sharda Punjab’s share of river waters had already gone down considerably as per the recent report of the BBMB. Capt Amarinder Singh further said that Punjab was not in a position to share water with Haryana from its existing sources because it would render 9000 acres of agriculture land in the districts of Muktsar, Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur barren.

Ms Preneet Kaur, former MP from Patiala, Mr R.C. Dogra, Health Family Welfare Minister, Mr Raghnath Sahay Puri, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Hardial Singh Kanboj, Chairman Punjab Warehousing Corporation and Mr Sant Ram Singla, Chairman Punjab Mandi Board also spoke.


Revenue officials asked to recover bad debts
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 18
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the monthly meeting of district officials here yesterday, directed revenue officials to launch a campaign for the recovery of loans belonging to various government departments from defaulters.

He urged the revenue officials to achieve their targets and speed up the recovery. He also directed officials of other departments to send their pending recovery cases to revenue officials concerned and make liaison with them for recovery. He said the government had released Rs 39.71 lakh for pensions in different categories. He directed officials to utilise the amount sanctioned under various state and Centre-sponsored schemes.

The DC directed executive officers of municipal councils to file applications in respective courts to get stay orders vacated against encroachments, so that these could be removed. He said there were complaints of employees and officials encouraging encroachments on government lands and helping encroachers to get stay orders from courts. If such cases were found correct, the matter would be handed over to the Vigilance Department for investigation, he warned.

He expressed his anguish over the slowing down of cleanliness as well as anti-encroachment drives initiated by the district administration.

The Deputy Commissioner assessed the monthly progress report regarding various schemes of the Health Department, construction and repair of roads, auction of shamlat lands, etc.


Admn fails to control noise pollution
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
Even as students are preparing for various Board and other annual examinations, the district administration has done little to control noise pollution.

Former president of the Amritsar Vikas Manch, Prof Manmohan Singh stated that despite instructions of the District Magistrate (DM) to book cases against defaulters, no action had been taken against anyone. The DM had also ordered religious shrines not to use loudspeakers.

The citizens Forum president, Mr Brij Bedi, also complained of heavy vehicles using pressure horns without being booked. Loud music played by marriage palaces also contributed to high levels of noise pollution, it was mentioned.


Naranjan Singh heads panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab Government has appointed Mr Naranjan Singh as Chairman of the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes.

After taking over charge, Mr Naranjan Singh said the commission would recommend measures in order to ensure the welfare of Scheduled Castes in the state.


Clarification on excise policy

Chandigarh, February 18
Apropos of the news item, ‘’Excise policy to benefit big contractors’’, appearing in these columns on Wednesday. The excise policy, 2004-05, approved on February 17 was formulated under the guidance of the minister concerned and placed before the Council of Ministers with the permission of the Chief Minister. The minister could not attend the meeting because he was indisposed. This was stated by a spokesperson of the Department of Excise and Taxation in a communication to The Tribune today. — TNS


Recruitment on fake certificate: 1 booked
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 18
The city police has registered a case against Mohinder Singh, a resident of Kila Nathu Singha village, in Kalanaur for giving a fake certificate for recruitment to the 3rd Battalion of the India Reserve Battalion.

Mr Ram Singh, Batala police district chief, told this correspondent here yesterday that Mohinder Singh gave a fake certificate of his date of birth at the time of recruitment. He was posted at Ludhiana.

The authorities started an inquiry on secret information and sent his date of birth certificate to the Punjab School Education Board, SAS Nagar, for verification.

The board informed that his certificate was fictitious. When Mohinder Singh came to know about it, he absconded.

The Batala police has registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 474 of the IPC.


Murder accused rearrested, four cops booked
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 18
A murder accused Amarjit Singh alias Fauja who escaped from police custody from the Anandpur Sahib court complex yesterday was rearrested in 24 hours day. At a press conference here today SSP Surinder Pal Singh said that the accused with the help of Jaswinder Kaur had fled to Nada Sahib gurdwara in Haryana in a taxi CHF-971 after escaping from custody.

Jaswinder Kaur alleged paramour of the accused along with her daughter had booked a room in Nada Sahib gurdwara posing as wife of Amarjit Singh. The accused later reached in the gurdwara and the three had planned to hide in the gurdwara before fleeing to other place.

A police team stopped the taxi that had ferried the accused to Nada Sahib gurdwara at a naka. Taxi driver Sunil Kumar told the police that he had left the passenger bearing resemblance to the accused at the Nada Sahib gurdwara. The police team went in the same taxi to the gurdwara and nabbed the accused. A case under Sections 223 and 324 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.

The SSP added that four policemen including Ramesh Lal, head constable, Ranjit Singh, Hoshiar Singh and Paramjit Singh constables who were escorting the accused had also been booked under Sections 223 and 324 of the IPC.


Pets recovered
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 18
The police has recovered a stolen German shepherd pair of dog and bitch, worth Rs 80,000, with the arrest of a resident of Nandpur Kalour, Jagtar Singh. Two other accused are still at large.

Mr Surmukh Singh, a resident of Nandpur Kalour, had complained that his German shepherd dog and bitch had been stolen from his residence. A case was registered under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.

After two days of investigations, the police solved the case and took Jagtar Singh in custody. During interrogation he revealed that after stealing the dogs, he handed them over to his brother-in-law, Surinder Singh, and sister, Kuldeep Kaur.


SHO arrested for beating up youth
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 18
Mr M.F. Farooqui, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Paramjit Singh, former SHO, Kathgarh police station in the district, had been arrested under Sections 323, 325, 342 and 120 B of the IPC as he was found guilty of illegally beating Kuldip Kumar at the police station on February 6.

An inquiry had been ordered on the basis of a complaint filed by Kuldip’s father Sakhi Ram, resident of Kathgarh village, in which he had accused Paramjit Singh, then SHO, Kathgarh, of beating his son Kuldip Kumar for marrying a girl belonging to upper caste in the same village.

The inquiry was conducted by Mr Amarjit Singh, SP (Detective). However, the allegation of attack on Kuldip Kumar in Civil Hospital, Balachaur, with a bid to kidnap him was found baseless by the inquiry officer, added the press note.

However, uneasy calm prevails in Kathgarh village as Kuldip Kumar, alias Kala, and Rishu Bala, who have tied nuptial knots breaking the caste barriers, are adamant to live in the village but the relatives of the girl want that the couple be banished from the village.

The SSP said the police had been keeping a close vigil on the situation and had warned the families of stern action in case the peace in the village was disturbed.

Meanwhile, the SSP in the press note also said the police, with a view to nab the culprits involved in the firing and looting incident at Banga on February 11, had issued computerised sketches of the alleged culprits and a prize of Rs 1 lakh had been announced for the person giving information about them. The police in the adjoining disticts had also been alerted.


Reader caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
District Bar Association president Randhir Singh Sandhu caught a Reader of a court allegedly taking bribe. He presented the Reader in the general house of the association in front of advocates.

Some advocates paraded the Reader in the entire court complex with the bribe notes in hand before handing him over to the Bar Association in the general house yesterday.

An application has been moved to register a case against the Reader.

A sum of Rs 420 was alleged to have been taken as bribe that was found from the Reader.


Punjab to recruit 2,000 trained teachers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 18
The Punjab Government plans to recruit more than 2000 B.Ed teachers to fill vacant posts in various schools. The Cabinet had already accorded approval and the process in this regard was likely to start by the next week. This was stated by Mr Sant Ram Singla Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, while taking to mediapersons at Mulla village here after laying the foundation stone of a link road.

Directions to other departments had also been issued to forward the lists of vacants posts lying in their respective sections for initiating action, he said. However, he refuted press reports regarding government decision to raise the retirement age of government employees from 58 years to 60 years.


Bathinda to be developed as textile city
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
Mr Surinder Singla, chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab today said that a textile city would be set up here after the city gets the status of the special economic zone (SEZ) from the Centre.

Mr Singla, who laid the foundation stones of two rain water drainage projects here today, while addressing a press conference said that a letter to get sanction for making Bathinda a textile city had been written to the Union Ministry of Commerce by the Punjab Government.

Besides, efforts were on to make the city free of slums and dirty ponds. Projects were also on to provide the entire city with sewerage and potable water facilities.

Mr Singla said the economy of Punjab had suffered due to the extending of 100 waiver in central excise and income tax to the units being set up in Himachal Pradesh.

He said the state government had not been opposing the oil refinery project in the district but was asking the centre to set up the same without seeking the sales tax exemption from the state government.

When asked what action was being taken by the state government in connection with the alleged grabbing of piece of land over which a pond to collect dirty water was located, Mr Singla said the revenue records were being examined to ascertain whether the piece of land belonged to the state government or private persons.

He said he was committed that the piece of land would be acquired to set up a sewerage system there by removing the pond. The municipal corporation would spend Rs 12 crore for laying down the sewerage system in the area, he added.

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