P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No alliance with BSP, says Venkaiah
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, February 21
Asserting that the BJP would be staging a “thunderous” comeback with a clear majority due to the ongoing “Atal aandhi”, which was “sweeping” not only the North but the entire country, the BJP today put all speculations to rest by announcing that the party won’t have any “poll reliance or alliance” with the BSP in Punjab.

A thrilled-looking BJP President Venkaiah Naidu today said that not only the mood of people across the country had forced him to make prediction that it would be almost be a cakewalk for his party, but the BJP was going to make history by facing a new and “candidly visible” new phenomenon—”pro-incumbency”.

Mr Naidu said the number of Congress seats would be reduced to two digits only and also bring along another division in the Congress, which has already got “demorilised” and “lost its confidence” from top to the bottom. “On the other hand, the BJP would cross the half way mark with our allies.”

Talking to mediapersons before addressing the BJP’s first poll rally at the Roshan Grounds here today, Mr Naidu, who was accompanied by Union Minister Vinod Khanna, Punjab BJP President Avinash Rai Khanna, Punjab ministers, Balramji Dass Tandon, Manoranjan Kalia, Tikshan Sood, Madan Mohan Mittal, said his party or the SAD-BJP combine won’t strike any poll alliance. “We won’t go in for any such alliance or even reliance. And we are very clear, said Mr Naidu, making people to burst into laughter.

Showering praise on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership and his ability to strike an “aandhi” in favour of the BJP, Mr Naidu projected the Congress as a demoralised force and a sinking ship. “See their falling graph, except for a few states where some local issues were dominating, the Congress has lost Goa, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and other states where it was claiming that it would win.”

“This time, we would sweep across the country — from Andaman to Arunachal Pradesh, I am saying this on the basis of the mood of people of entire country and the prevailing atmosphere,” said Mr Naidu.

Talking about the party’s ticket distribution process, Mr Naidu said the party’s central office would receive panels to be sent by the state units between March 5 and 10. “After this, the party’s central poll committee would screen the panel and announce names of candidates. Our criteria would be to see the winnability of a candidate and his image, said Mr Naidu, who, however, could not come out with a satisfactory answer to a query as to whether the BJP considered Mr D.P. Yadav, who was recently inducted in the party, as an asset to the party. “There is no case pending against Mr Yadav. Moreover, in a democracy anybody can join a party, he said.

Talking to TNS, Mr Vinod Khanna said his office had collected a list of people from Punjab who were detained abroad for landing in an illegal manner. The ministry was also blacklisting travel agents who were found to have duped innocent people. “The biggest problem is that people go abroad illegally, which complicates the matter,” he added.


Gaffar, Bachi join SAD
Sushil Goyal and Vikrant Jindal
Tribune Reporters

Malerkotla, February 21
In view of the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today got a shot in the arm when a former Punjab minister in the previous Congress government (1992-97) and a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, Chaudhary Abdul Gaffar, and a former Administrative Member (AM) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and expelled SAD leader from Dirba, Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, joined the SAD here.

Mr Teja Singh Kamalpur, Chairman of the Sangrur Milk Plant, Mr Hardev Singh Rogla, former Chairman of Dirba Punjab Agricultural Development Bank (PADB), and sarpanches and panches of more than 50 villages of the Dirba Assembly constituency also joined the SAD in the presence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, president and secretary-general, respectively, of the SAD.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other top leaders of the SAD were here in connection with the “anti-repression” rally of the party, which was organised at the local Grain Market.

Chaudhary Abdul Gaffar joined the SAD when Mr Badal visited his house here today while Mr Bachi and his supporters joined the party at the rally.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Badal said the issue of the opposition by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Baldev Singh Mann of the issue of allotment of party tickets would be settled soon. He said the announcement of remaining candidates for the Lok Sabha seats would be made public in three-four days.


Mann questions Badal’s ideology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Mounting a sharp attack on the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said that Mr Badal and his close associate, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, were new “maharajas” of Punjab.

Mr Mann said that old “maharajas and rajwaras” were no more in existence. They were facing hard times by selling their properties while leaders like Mr Badal and Mr Dhindsa rolled in new acquired riches. He said that Mr Dhindsa, after Mr Badal, was a second richest politician in the state.

He asked Mr Badal if he could explain what difference was in his ideology and that of the Congress and the BJP. What the Congress had been doing in the country, the same was being done by Mr Badal and the BJP. Under pressure from the BJP, Mr Badal had abandoned all issues such as transfer of Chandigarh, river waters, Punjabi speaking areas and more powers to states etc. “

He said that he would have nothing to do with the Akali Dal headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh. “ But I am prepared to extend full support to him if he decides to contest from Faridkot against Mr Sukhbir Badal and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala from Jalandhar”, he added.

He wondered how Mr Badal expressed no trust in the state police with which he ruled Punjab for five years from 1997-2002. As Chief Minister, he (Mr Badal) did not take action against those policemen who had kidnapped Mr Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist, never to return. Mr Mann said now Mr Badal was holding “zabbar virodhi” (anti-repression) rallies but his party supported the passing of POTA.

He said that the Vajpayee government had released a British citizen Peter Bleach, a desperate criminal, who had the intention to set India ablaze, but not Sikh youths, who were detained in various jails without trials. He referred to the case of Mr Ranjit Singh Gill, who has been in the jail for the past 18 years. He asked if Mr Bleach, who had brought a consignment of deadly weapons to India, could be released, why not the Sikh youths . Why Mr Badal and Mr Dhindsa did not pose these questions to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, he added.


Surinder Badal gets exemption
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 21
Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the former Chief Minister and SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was today granted conditional permanent exemption from personal appearance by the Special Judge (Ropar), Mr S.K. Goel, in the corruption case against Badals. The conditions are that she would have to appear in the court at the time of framing of charges or whenever summoned by the court. She would also have to file an affidavit in the court stating that she had no objection to the proceeding being carried out in her absence and would abide by all orders issued in absentia. Mrs Badal was earlier granted exemption on the grounds of ill health.

In other proceedings of the case today arguments were held on the application of the counsels of Mr Badal that the prosecution was not supplying them with all documents. While the defence of Mr Badal maintained that the accused had legal right over documents attached with the challan the defence maintained that all documents cannot be supplied since the case was still under investigation.

The Judge fixed March 13 for orders on the application. Other coaccused in the case, including Harbans Lal, a former employee of Badals, his son, Anil Kumar, and Nirapjit Singh, a Sub-Inspector with the Chandigarh police, and a close aide of Sukhbir Badal also moved applications in the court today.

Harbans Lal and his son, Anil Kumar, in the application moved demanded the removal of siege on the operation of their petrol pump and the Nirapjit Singh demanded permission for operation of his bank account. The arguments on both applications have been fixed for February 28.


Capt to continue fight against graft
Tribune News Service

Banur (Patiala), February 21
Asking the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, to stop eulogising themselves, Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, said here today that both Mr Badal and his son should not forget the fact that they had been released from judicial custody on bail in a “corruption” case.

He said this time Mr Badal and his son were not behind bars for some religious or political agenda but for their alleged “corrupt practices”. Ridiculing the welcome extended by their supporters to Mr Badal and his son, when they came out from the jail, Capt Amarinder Singh said it was a shameful act . It was not an occasion to rejoice but to introspect on the question that why Mr Badal and his son went to jail. The CM said that his fight against corruption would continue till the logical conclusion. “Action against Badals was widely welcomed by right thinking people”, he asserted.

Addressing a rally after laying the foundation stone of 10.27 km long Banur-Lalru link road, to be built at a cost of Rs 2.90 crore, Capt Amarinder Singh, said Mr Badal should be ready to face another debacle in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections in the state for his alleged anti-people policies and involvement of his coterie in rampant corruption.

Due to the myopic vision and vested interests of leaders like Mr Badal and co, Punjab had been facing problems on all fronts, said Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Badal ruined Punjab, a front runner state, in his rule of five years, he added.

Unfolding the plan to combat the problem of unemployment, he said that the Punjab Government had signed an MoU with Quark, a US-based multinational company to set up an information technology park at Ropar. The project had the potential to give jobs to one lakh unemployed youth. He said because of various steps taken in the past, Punjab’s economy was showing signs of recovery.

Mrs Parneet Kaur, former Member of Parliament from Patiala, speaking on the occasion said that the State Government would provide 24-hour power supply to all villages by June 30. It was a big project that would help in improving the standard of living in rural areas, she added. A project had been prepared to tame the Ghaggar river that had been causing devastation in vast areas of Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa districts, she added. Mr Dapinder Singh Dhillon, speaking on the occasion said there was no anti-incumbency wave in the state. The Congress would win all the seats. Among others who spoke were Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj and Mrs Seelam Sohi.

Capt evades reply

Speaking to Media persons, Capt Amarinder Singh, evaded a direct reply to the question that Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, would be fielded from Sangrur for the Lok Sabha elections. He said the party would field winnable candidates from various constituencies. He said the Congress was a national party and it had a system to select and announce candidates. The party was looking for efficient candidates, he added. Asked about the proposed withdrawal of Infosys by its top management from Punjab on the issue of a case against Mr Gurnihal Singh Pirzada, Capt Amarinder Singh, said it was none of the business of Pirzada to comment on decisions of the Infosys. He said the law would take its own course against Mr Pirzada.


Sikh diaspora urged to adopt villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday said 2004 would be observed as the year of education and health for all.

Addressing a gathering of Sikh scholars, historians and luminaries here, he sought their support at home and abroad and to launch a campaign against the menace of drug addiction, which was growing at an alarming rate in the state.

He also appealed to the Sikhs settled all over the world to adopt their own village in the name of Guru Angad Dev and provide resources—technical, educational and financial to the schools there, besides building sports facilities in the name of the second Sikh Guru.

Likewise, the Sikhs should adopt a child for education and assist the needy students to pursue higher education. To create awareness about the environment amongst masses, he stressed on the need to launch an initiative to educate the public about the environment degradation and the nature preservation.

The Chief Minister assured that paucity of funds would not be allowed to hamper the commemoration of these events. The Chief Minister also appreciated the proposal put up by Ms Nirjanan Kaur Khalsa – a nominee of Sikh Dharma Organisation of Yogi Harbhajan Singh, USA, to start a 90-day pilot residential programme to create drug-free individuals on the path of Sikhism and spirituality. The pilot project involving the volunteers of Sikh Dharma Organisation, USA, will be adopted by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

Taking part in the deliberations Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor Punjabi University, Patiala, suggested that the Centre should be persuaded to establish the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan and Research Centre in New Delhi. Similarly, Sri Guru Granth Sahib chair be set up in different universities, across the country on the occasion of 400th Year of Installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

He also suggested that the lives and martyrdom of Sahibzadas should form a part of school and college syllabi, as a befitting tribute on the occasion of 300th year of their Martyrdom.

Mr Manjit Singh Lit, an NRI, offered Rs 2 lakh for the commemoration of these celebrations and assured full support and cooperation on behalf of Sikh NRIs settled in Canada.

Dr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, founder President of the Guru Nanak Dev Foundation, Washington, emphasised the need to spread gospels of Guru Angad Dev in a result-oriented manner so that the people abroad should benefit from precious legacy of universal brotherhood, concept of community kitchen, founder of pathshalas (schools) and pioneering of Gurumukhi script.

Lachhman Chellaram of the Dada Chellaram Trust opined that mere celebrations on the occasion of 500th Parkash Utsav of Guru Angad Dev would not serve any purpose unless concerted efforts were made to disseminate the teachings of the Guru in all languages.

Dr Kharak Singh, Chairman, Sikh Studies Centre, proposed setting up of Guru Granth Sahib Bhavans at all the state capitals in the country to perpetuate the philosophy and ideology of Sikhism at the grassroots level. He also urged the State Government to commemorate these mega events in tandem with the SGPC to avoid overlapping and duplication of the programmes. Dr Raghbir Singh Bains from Canada appreciated the initiative taken by the Punjab Government to celebrate these events at the global level.

Mr Baljit Singh Chadha, President of the Chadha Family Foundation, Montreal (Canada), underscored the need to publish literature on the life and works of Guru Angad Dev and also to translate Sri Guru Granth Sahib in all the scheduled languages prescribed in the Indian Constitution, besides, launching a crusade against drug addiction.

A 15-member executive committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the Punjab Chief Minister to take day-to-day actions about the events pertaining to these celebrations.


‘Malkhana’ explosives given to Army
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
The stock of highly explosive materials like RDX and PNET lying in the ‘malkhana’ of the judicial complex have been handed over to the Army authorities here for its disposal.

According to sources, a large quantity of explosives, arms and ammunitions which were seized during the peak of militancy had been lying unattended in the building for the past many years.

According to details of the preliminary investigation conducted by the police, the explosions which rocked the city on February 19 had occurred due to the shifting of explosive materials in the open area near the ‘malkhana’. The negligence on the part of those handling the explosives resulted in the blast. They reportedly mistook the explosives for some waste materials.

Meanwhile, the forensic and Army explosive experts have been asked to establish the exact strength of the blast which left a trail of destruction.

The police has also started shifting the entire stock of arms and ammunitions and preparing an inventory before disposing it of after seeking proper clearance from the judiciary.


Abandoned child awaits ‘Khushi’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 21
Three-month-old ‘Khushi’ with calcified kidney, who was abandoned by her parents is waiting to be adopted by one of two prospective Delhi-based couples. This is the result of a unique “window-cradel” with an electronic sensor that has been serving as an avenue for over 200 abandoned new borns to rehabilitation childless homes for the past 20 years at the Pushpa Gujral Nari Niketan on Nakodar road.

Khushi had been left in the “window cradle”, installed in one of the walls of the institute, about three months back when she was just two days old. Since, that day, like more than 200 other such ‘unfortunate’ children, she has become a “darling child” in her “second home”.

“Khushi”, who was given this name by Devi Mohindroo, Nirmala and Simran, the three women looking after her, has not been so “unfortunate” as despite her complicated malady, which might take a serious turn or which has more chances of remaining as it is without any harm all her life, she has attracted two rich Delhi-based couples, who are looking forward for her adoption. But the reluctance is from the Nari Niketan Trust management side, particularly, its head Mr Naresh Gujral, son of former prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, and Col R.C. Mohindroo (retd.), Director and Chief Executive of the trust, who want to hand over the girl to her prospective parents only after confirmation from t he All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, that the malady is not malignant, with a view to securing the girl’s future.

“We don’t want any problems for the new parents end even at a later stage. So, we are waiting for reports from the AIIMS,” said Col Mohindroo and his wife Devi Mohindroo, who also looks after the affairs of the institute.

Dr Anil Sud, a leading child expert of the city, who has also been serving as the institute’s paediatrician, maintained that in all probability, the malady night not develop further. In that case the girl will have no problem.

Meanwhile, the “cradle window”, has virtually been serving as the way to new parents for new born kids abandoned by anonymous parents. “Its electronic sensor tells us whenever any one abandons his or her child in it. The window is designed in such a way that it ensures anonymity for such people, who do not want to retain the child for one or the other reason. Of the about 200 abandoned children, 90 per cent are girls” said Col Mohindroo adding that all such newborn babies, received by the institute so far have been adopted. “Khushi and Kajol, another small female baby, are looking forward to new parents,” said Col Mohindroo.


Cong under pressure to field Hindu candidates
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Congress is in a fix as far as its electoral and power politics is concerned in Punjab. Though the party’s major vote bank is based in the urban areas yet its power and party structure do not reflect the same. Informed sources said that the party was under strong pressure to correct the power imbalance by nominating Hindu candidates for Lok Sabha elections from the main urban constituencies.

At present, the party in the state is headed by Mr H.S. Hanspal, a Sikh. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal are also Jat sikhs. The President of the Youth Congress, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, is also a Sikh. The same is true in case of Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, President of the Mahila Wing of the party, who is also a Jat Sikh.

This “ factual” position was also brought to the notice of the President of the party, Mrs Sonia Gandhi. She had assured to “ balance” the power structure . But she has done nothing as yet.” Continuing, he said, “it is the right time to correct the imbalance in the Lok Sabha elections. From the constituencies such as Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Gurdaspur Hindu candidates should be fielded. Last time, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib was fielded from Ludhiana and he had won. From Jalandhar, Mr Balbir Singh, was put up and he had also won. From Amritsar, Mr R.L. Bhatia, was also elected. From Gurdaspur, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder had contested but she lost to the BJP’s Vinod Khanna, a film star. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the Congress contested 11 seats and only three candidates were from the Hindu Community. It had won eight seats. Two were won by the SAD and one by the SAD (Amritsar) and one by the CPI and the BJP each.

Even this time, SAD has fielded a Hindu candidate, Mr Naresh Kumar Gujral, from Jalandhar. SAD balances its politics by joining hands with the BJP which mostly gives party tickets to Hindu candidates because of the fact that its base is located in the urban areas.

Informed sources said that for Jalandhar seat three prominent Hindu candidates, Anil Dutta, Secretary of the PPCC, Dr Lekh Raj, a former Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Jalandhar and Mr D.P. Sehgal, another Congress leader, are in the run for the party ticket. Mr Dutta is a young leader who is said to be close to the Chief Minister. Dr Lekh Raj is a veteran leader having long standing in the party. Mr Sehgal can also be counted among the party veterans.


BSP suspense puts SAD in quandary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Great suspense maintained by the BSP regarding its electoral strategy has put the Congress and SAD in quandary in Punjab and other states.

The BSP, even after its leader Ms Mayawati had two meetings with Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has not shown its electoral cards to any one yet. Resultantly, the Congress has failed to chalk out its electoral strategy in the states like Punjab.

Even SAD is curiously watching what stand the BSP may take regarding electoral tie-ups.

If the BSP decides to form electoral alliance with the Congress in Punjab, then election scenario will be totally different from the one that will emerge if the BSP declares to go alone. And in case, the BSP makes its mind to have some adjustment with SAD, then the scenario will again be different. The Congress has been delaying the announcement regarding its nominees because it is keenly a waiting the response Ms Mayawati.

Informed sources said that SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal, had offered Phillaur and Hoshiarpur seats to the BSP in the State. However, the state leadership of the BSP has told SAD that any decision regarding the electoral alliance will be taken by Ms Mayawati and the State leadership has nothing to do in this connection.

Mr Narinder Kashyap, General Secretary of the BSP, told The Tribune on the phone that at the last meeting of the party held on January 16, Ms Mayawati was authorised to take decision regarding alliances. Quizzed about when Ms Mayawati would take decision in this connection, Mr Kashyap said that “ he was not in a position to say anything in this regard”.

In Punjab, the BSP has a stronghold in most of the constituencies in Doaba region. Constituency wise, it has a strong presence in Phillaur, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepore, and Ropar.

The Congress in Punjab is keen to have alliance with the BSP. The Congress, which appears to be on a weak wicket at present in most of the constituencies will definitely get a shot in the arm in case the BSP agrees to go along with it. However, the BSP would ask for the allocation of Phillaur, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Ferozepore seats from the ruling party in the state. Already, the CPM, which will certainly have an electoral adjustment with the Congress at national level, has announced, Mr Darshan Mattu, as its candidate from Hoshiarpur. The CPM claims that Mr Mattu has been declared candidate after having a talk with Mrs Gandhi.


Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) to contest all 13 seats
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 21
The Akali Dal will contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from all 13 seats in Punjab, even if does not get support from any political party.

This was stated by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, President, Akali Dal, while talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Amb Sahib here today. He had come to attend a meeting of the Mohali circle of the party. He said an alignment with the BSP could not be ruled out but this decision had to be taken by the BSP at the national level. Talks with communist parties were also on.

He said the aim of his party was to defeat Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had become an “enemy” of the Panth as well as the state. Mr Badal had to be finished politically as he had caused immense damage to the SAD.

He said no decision about the candidates to be fielded in the elections had been made so far. Moreover, this decision would be taken by members of the working committee.

He said two months ago a memorandum had been presented to the Punjab Governor, but no action had been taken by him so far. He said the party now planned to hold a one-day hunger strike on February 24 in Chandigarh.

He said nothing had been done by Mr Badal on various issues confronting the state. The river waters had been distributed in an unfair way and the youth were languishing in jails without any cases against them. Mr Badal had not taken up the issues with the Prime Minister.


Chandumajra mellows
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
The revolt in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Patiala on the issue of announcement of the candidature of former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh seems to be ebbing with former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, who had staked his claim to the party ticket, today claiming that he would fight for his rights by remaining in the party.

Mr Chandumajra, however, remained steadfast on holding a meeting of his supporters at the grain market in the city on February 23, saying “this manner of asking for justice should not be construed as a revolt”. He said the party workers had forced him to hold the meeting and it was they who wanted to convey their sentiments to the party high command.

The Akali leader also appealed to SAD president Parkash Singh Badal to attend the meeting saying he should give an ear to the voices of the people of the constituency.


Truckers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
Hundreds of truck operators today blocked traffic for hours on the Bathinda-Barnala national highway and gheraoed a senior official of the State Transport Department for his alleged involvement in illegally collecting money from truck drivers.

The operators blocked traffic and gheraoed the transport official when he was allegedly collecting money illegally from the truck drivers on various pretexts by putting up a naka on the national highway this morning. The agitated truck drivers also uprooted a red light fixed atop the vehicle belonging to the transport official. The vehicle was bearing two number plates bearing different registration numbers.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), meanwhile, said the operators were asked to lodge their complaint, they said that they had settled their dispute with him on their own.

Mr Atma Singh, president, Truck Operators Union, Bathinda, pointed out that the operators were protesting against the checking being done by him in this region despite the fact that the official was posted in Ferozepore district. He said the dispute was settled.


Squall victim’s family gets aid
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 21
Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, former Cooperation Minister, yesterday presented a cheque for Rs 84,000 to the family of Mr Balkar Singh who had died due to squall at Jandwala Meerasangla village near the international border last year. The son of Mr Balkar Singh received the cheque under the Sankat Haran Insurance Scheme offered by the Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperatives to its customers free of cost.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the farming women’s training and visit programme organised by IFFCO at Krishi Vigyan Kendra here yesterday Mr Jakhar said other cooperative institutions should also work on the footprints of IFFCO that had increased its number of share holders from 57,000 to 36,000. Its share capital had increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 444 crore.

Dr Rajiv Kumar Jain, in charge, Central Institute for Post Harvesting Research (CIPHET), said initially women of this area refused to interact with the survey teams. Now, we had succeeded in training seven groups of women in the region. They prepare food items and sell it at half the rate prevailing in the local market, Dr Jain added.


3-day seminar on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 21
A three-day international seminar on ‘Guru Granth Sahib — formation, unique status and place among scriptures’ concluded here yesterday.

Major-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd) was the chief guest. He urged Sikhs to find the path to their renaissance and resurgence in the present times, keeping in mind the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.

The Chairman, Sangeet Chair, Dr Gurnam Singh, highlighted the 31 ragaas enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. He said Sikh gurus had contributed immensely to development of ragaas.

The Chairman, Guru Nanak Devji Chair, Dr N. Muthu Mohan, pointed out the similarities and points of difference in Guru Granth Sahib and corpus of Tamil sacred scriptures. Dr Dipinderjit Kaur Randhawa elaborated the relevance of Guru Granth Sahib in the context of gender discourse.

Dr Darshan Singh, Dr Jiwan Singh Deol, Dr Mohinder Kaur Gill, Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon and Dr D.S. Tatla also spoke on the occasion.


Teacher caught helping student cheat
Our Correspondent

Samana, February 21
Mr Parmod Kumar, Principal, Senior Secondary School, and in charge, flying squad for the Class VIII examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board of Samana subdivision, today raided DAV School, Kakrala, 15 km from here, and caught Mr Balbir Singh of the school while he was allegedly helping a student to cheat.

Mr Parmod Kumar has informed the PSEB officials and withdrew the teacher from the above stated examination centre. He also raided a school in Teipur village at Patran block and caught two Class VIII students while they were copying from a book.


Boy shot dead by Principal cremated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
The cremation of Sandeep Singh, Dalit boy allegedly shot by Harnek Singh, Principal of Senior Secondary School, Chhajjalwadi, yesterday, took place at Tangra about, 25 km from here, this evening A large number of relatives and villagers attended the cremation. However, the police failed to arrest the Principal even today.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examination report confirmed ba presence of bullet in the body of the deceased.


Ghulam Ali mesmerises his ‘ustadon ka shahar’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Qawwal Ahmad Khan Warsi performs with his troupe at the NIS grounds in Patiala
Qawwal Ahmad Khan Warsi performs with his troupe at the NIS grounds in Patiala . — Photo by Rajesh Sachar.

Patiala, February 21
Ghulam Ali remains humble to the hilt, yet he takes no credit for what he is. So at the Heritage Festival here last evening he attributed his success to his ustads from the Patiala Gharana.

The first submission he made after occupying the dais against the backdrop of the Old Moti Bagh Palace was, “Yeh sheher mere ustadon ka hai. Yahaan aakar to main khadimaan-e-khadim (servant of servants) hota hoon.” Amid thunderous applause the maestro doled out his fare, striking melodies that have made a legend out of him.

He commenced the concert with a pure classical offering in a thumri, “Gori tore nain kajre bin kaare....” in raga Peelu. What followed was a virtual affair in rhythm that brought out the best in poetry.

The first ghazal, although rendered earlier by Jagjit Singh in “Mirza Ghalib”, sounded unfamiliar when heard in Ghulam Ali’s rich voice, that conveys a range of emotions with an admirable ease.

In his patent style he sang “rubais” before every ghazal that lasted well over three hours. “Har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ke tu kya hai....”, the legendary ghazal of Mirza Ghalib, led Ghulam Ali’s pack of presentations that then drew on the lyrics of Ahmad Faraz, Nasir Qazmi, Adeem Nazmi and Waris Shah, among others.

Modulating his sound to suit the mood of the gathering, the vocalist went on to weave a web of loveliness, that grew in beauty as the night descended. After the ghazal of Ahmad Faraz, “karoon na yaad magar kis tarah bhulaun use, ghazal bahana karoon aur gungunaun use...”, Ghulam Ali settled for the most famous of his pieces, “Chupke chupke raat din”. Adding a new dimension to this presentation the singer rendered three new couplets of the ghazal, winding it up with a beautiful verse, “Waqt-e-rukhsat alvida ka lafz kehne ke liye, woh tere sukhe labon ka thartharana yaad hai...”

Later during the presentation came selective pieces from Ghulam Ali’s Punjabi collection. Apart from “Heer”, which is said to have been best rendered by him, Ghulam Ali also presented a new Punjabi ghazal, “Pehli vaari akhiyaan ne aaj aina takyaa...aho jeya takya ke haye maar suteya...”

Going back to Urdu, he presented yet another beautiful ghazal, “Hum tere sheher mein aaye hain musafir ke tarah, sirf ek baar mulaqat ka mauqa de de...”, which was followed by the famous Adeem Nazmi ghazal, “Faasle aise bhi honge yeh kabhi socha na tha...saamne baitha tha mere aur woh mera na tha...”.

And though the listeners were left asking for more, he bade them farewell by taking the evening to its zenith with Waris Shah’s “Heer”.


Salma Sultan dons director’s cap
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Salma Sultan, Doordarshan hostess of yesteryear, continues to charm as ever. Out of sight, but certainly not out of business, the elegant and talented television newsreader is on the verge of re-establishing her link with Doordarshan, which continues to be the channel of her choice, irrespective of the plethora of channels on air.

In Patiala yesterday to host a special evening of ghazal concert by none other than the acclaimed Ghulam Ali sahab, Salma Sultan talked to The Tribune about her latest engagement, which is more hard than soft. Commissioned by Doordarshan to direct a special investigative series based on true-life stories involving women in precarious situation, Salma Sultan will be seen on DD every Sunday at 11 am, beginning tomorrow.

Titled “Jalta Sawaal”, the series features episodes focusing on problems of women right from prostitution to dowry. Talking about her rather chequered career, the quintessential hostess says: “I joined DD almost at its inception. It was a long association that taught me every skill from news reading and anchoring to compereing ad interviewing. I also directed a couple of productions for DD.”

Among the most famous works directed by Salma Sultan are “Panchtantra se”, which featured dramatisation of Panchtantra stories and Suno Kahani, which was a 26-episode serial based on issues concerning the youth. Having grown gradually, Salma wonders over the pace of the modern-day television. Apart from DD, which continues to be her first love, she likes to watch Star TV and Zee, for which she would not even mind directing programmes, if offered.

As of now, “Jalta Sawaal” is Salma’s top priority. She is already through with three episodes, involving hardcore investigation and analysis. Her episode on prostitution, which will be the first to be telecast in the series, took her to brothel houses all over the country, from Agra to Delhi and gave her an insight into the life of women trapped in misery.

Conceptualised by her, each of these episodes will feature exclusive issues. As part of the Patiala Heritage Festival, Salma Sultan said she was happy to host Ghulam Ali’s programme yet again after years.


‘Include small cities in fashion circuit’
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 21
Throw in 15 top-notch models along with three well-known designers. Add to this glamour noted choreographer Harmeet Bajaj can lend to an event. And you are sure to witness a gala affair.

The grounds at the National Institute of Sports here were aglitter with beauty and poise as well-known faces of the advertising world rehearsed the catwalk. Bajaj, who is coordinating the show, says he is thrilled at being given the opportunity to coordinate the fashion show twice in a row. The fact that she belongs to this region has heightened her sense of pride in the show.

We move on to talk to the models. Nethra Raghuraman is busy reading a book by her favourite author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “Reading is a passion for me. My idea of a leisurely day would include lazing in my bed and reading a book besides listening to old Hindi songs”. Nethra who has already featured in two films, ‘Takshak’ and ‘Bhopal Express’ is a strong believer in fate.

“I have never planned my moves. Movies happened to me one fine day and so did marriage. And contrary to what many believe about the glamour world, I feel it is your work that speaks for you and not your marital status”. With three more movies in the pipeline, Nethra is going great guns in tinseltown as well. However, she claims that despite winning an award for her performance in ‘Bhopal Express,’ movies do not really hold a charm for her. “I take each day as it comes, let’s see what future holds for me further”, she signs off with a smile.

Fleur Xaviers, one of the first faces from the modelling world to feature in music videos, has long ruled the ramp after she participated in the Miss India contest in 1996. “My passion in life is to design interiors. I am undergoing training in the field presently. I have become more focussed in life now, ” she says.

With most of her shows being held in big metros, it is a pleasant change for her to walk the ramp in a historical city and that too in a heritage event. “Smaller cities remain left out of the fashion circuit and that is a pity as the younger generation is displaying a growing fashion consciousness”, she says. Indrani Das Gupta says. Some of our designers have started focussing on bringing in more Indian ambience to even western wear. Most of their creations are actually practical, so I see no reason why people in smaller cities should be left out of the fashion scene altogether.”

Back after visiting the crafts mela, Indrani hastily joins the rest who have already started with their make-up. “No, I was not reluctant to come here and despite the city not being hot on the fashion route, I believe the show will go down well with the audience,” she says.


Pak “Junoon” heads for Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
The final day of the ongoing Patiala Heritage festival will see a confluence of cultures, with famous Pakistani Pop-band ‘Junoon’ sharing the space with Gursewak Mann from India and Stereo Nation from London.

“Junoon,” which became famous about three years back when they rendered the Sufiana ‘Sayonee’, will arrive here tomorrow afternoon and probably be the last among the three performers to feature in the pop concert tomorrow.

Recently, “Junoon” had established an Indian connection by making musical scores for Pooja Bhatt in her directorial debut “Paap”. They also have about five hit albums to their credit.

Meanwhile, Stereo Nation, will offer the latest from their collections. The Punjabi flavour will be offered by Gursewak Mann, who promises to dole out his famous musical numbers including the hit song “lara lapa.” The concert will be held at YPS Stadium. The entry is free.


Phulkari artisans to form self-help groups
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Bhagwant Kaur of Churpur village, near here, has been embroidering phulkari motifs all her life, but has made no financial gains. Now, she and other women, who participated in a two-day workshop at Quila Mubarak as part of the Heritage Festival, have decided to form a self-help group to market their craft in coordination with non-government agencies.

Says Kaki Begum of Majri Akalian village: “Profit margins reduce drastically as the product has to be sold to middle-men or traders who market it further. Village women are also dependent on traders for supply of cloth and thread.”

The two-day workshop, which is aimed at integrating the craft of the city, be it phulkari embroidery, ‘jutti’ making or making of ‘parandis’ and ‘nalas’, with the cultural heritage of the city, particularly Quila Mubarak, focussed on the creation of the self-help groups besides showing the artisans how they could use innovations to their benefit.

Neelam Chibber, who runs a society by the name of “Industry” in Bangalore, while talking to TNS said the self help group experiment had been tried successfully in the marketing of crafts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. She said NGOs needed to be encouraged to follow this path. The women had been asked to form more such groups which could collect some money to start work which could be expanded through micro credit.

“Once these groups get into place and start manufacturing crafts products we will get into the picture and allow them to sell at the Quila Mubarak complex itself and any other suitable place in the nearby market,” she added. The women who attended the workshop are enthusiastic about the proposal and even asked the organisers to issue them identity cards besides sponsoring their visits to other craft melas in the country.

Manjit Kaur, another participant, said the organisers of the workshops had also advised them to make small items like cushion covers, purses and file covers in phulkari besides traditional suit and bedsheet items. These, Neelam Chibber says, find a ready market. Besides, craftsmen were asked to use their imagination to create new phulkari designs in shades which were trendy instead of manufacturing phulkari only in the traditional bright colours.


Rights panel takes note of farmer’s complaint
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 21
Finding merit in the allegations of Mr Raja Ram, a farmer of Bishanpura village of this subdivision, and Mr Justice R.L. Anand, a Member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, has called for a report from the Secretary, Home Department, Punjab by May 31, 2004.

The Commission observed that Raja Ram had alleged that with great efforts, he was able to get FIR No 241 registered at the Abohar, Sadar Police Station, on December 4, 2003 against Chander Pal sarpanch etc. But however no action to arrest them was so far taken by the police. Rather the police was siding with the “culprits”. The ‘culprits’ were threatening to the complainant and his family members. They had damaged his house, attacked his daughter besides himself. Raja Ram was apprehending danger to the life of his family from the ‘culprits’.

Justice Anand has directed that a copy of the order be sent to the IGP, Litigation and SSP Ferozepore for compliance.

Mr Raja Ram had filed several complaints to the SHO, the DSP, the SDM and other senior civil and police officers since November 28, 2003 stating that Chander Pal sarpanch, his wife and over 20 other residents of Bishanpura village in this subdivision had become inimical to him as he had supported their rival candidate of the Congress party in panchayat elections held in June 2003. Since then he, members of his family, including minor daughters had been attacked many times pressurising them to leave the village. His house was allegedly damaged by the persons named in the FIR registered under Sections 452, 527, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC at Sadar police station here. The police allegedly watched the interests of the ‘culprits’ instead of arresting them.


8-year jail for 2 in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 21
District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal yesterday sentenced Dev Kumar and his wife Maya Devi to eight years in jail while Gopal Rai, the husband of the victim, Seema, had been declared proclaimed offender in a dowry death case and was reportedly presently living in Australia.

The prosecution charged that the victim Seema married Gopal Rai on January 16, 2001. Subsequently, her father-in-Law Dev Kumar, mother-in-law Maya Devi and her husband Gopal Rai started harassing her for more dowry.

Mr Kanwar Sukh Lal, father of the victim, in his complaint to the Hoshiarpur police, alleged that since Seema was facing wrath of her in-laws and her husband wanted to go to Australia, he had to give Rs 70,000 in cash to ensure the well-being of Seema.

While Gopal Rai immigrated to Australia on March 21, 2001, Seema was allegedly burnt to death by Dev Kumar and Maya Devi.


Six-month jail in cheque bounce case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 21
Mr Ranjit Singh, Judicial Magistrate, yesterday sentenced Jagnandan Singh Pathania of Shanti Investment Company, to six months fined him Rs 5,000.

According to a complaint by Mr Baldev Raj Nayyar a resident, on discharge of Legal debt the accused issued a cheque of Rs 1,50,000 in January 1999.

The cheque was honoured for payment and a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act was filed by the complainant.


SIT set up to arrest liquor baron’s killers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
The police authorities have constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by the DSP of Phul, to investigate the murder of a liquor contractor, Darshan Bajakhana.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said Mr Ajay Maluja, SP (D), would monitor day-to-day activities and progress of the SIT.

Raids were conducted in neighbouring towns of Haryana to arrest Prabhjinder Singh, alias Dimpy.

Bajakhana was shot dead by car-borne assailants, suspected to the hired by Dimpy, Inder Jit Singh Bhatia, a Delhi-based liquor contractor, and their associates at Rampura on February 19.

Police sources said Bajakhana was running liquor business with Dimpy a few years ago. After some differences came up between them, they parted company.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Dimpy had also allegedly tried to kill Bajakhana. Dimpy, who hailed from Chand Bhan village in Faridkot district, gain prominence in the world of crime when the Bangalore police had arrested him in 1997 in connection with the kidnapping of a merchant for ransom.


5 dacoits arrested in Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 21
The local police has busted an inter-district gang of five dacoits by arresting all five gangsters, including its kingpin Lakhwinder Singh, alias Raja.

This was disclosed here yesterday in a press-conference by the DSP Mr Jaspal Singh. Those arrested had been identified as Kuldip Singh of Manakpur village, Pradeep Kumar of Kotli Majra village, both falling in Shahkot, Sonu Kumar, Inderjit, alias Jeeta, both of Nawin Abadi Nakodar and Lakhwinder Singh, alias Raja of Talwan village.

They confessed to have looted Rs 60,000 and mobile bucks worth Rs 25000 from a mobile phone shop at Shahkot, Rs 20,000 from a liqour vend of Uppals on the Nakodar road Rs 700 from Littran liqour vend and Rs 19,000 from a petrol station at the Wadala Nakodar road. The dacoits were arrested while they were planning to commit a dacoity at Phagwara.


Patwari held for graft

Moga, February 21
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested revenue Patwari Balwinder Singh posted in a village here on charges of accepting bribe Rs 700 from a Tehsildar.

The DSP vigilance bureau, Moga, said yesterday that the bureau received a complaint from Mr Jagjit Singh of Basti Gobindgarh, Moga that the said revenue Patwari was demanding Rs 1000 for sanctioning a mutation in his favour.

The Vigilance Bureau team caught him and recovered the amount. — PTI


Move to privatise ITIs resented
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 21
The Industrial Training Employees Union, Punjab held a rally here to express resentment over the state government’s move to privatise about 12 non-functional  ITIs in Punjab. The employees, who had arrived from different towns, took out a protest march shouting slogans against the government led by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Harish Kamboj, president, Mr Navtoj Singh Dhoot, general secretary, Mr Hardev Singh, secretary and Mr Balbir Singh, treasurer, respectively of the state unit addressed the gathering.


Mother Tongue Day observed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 21
The Punjabi Language Development Department of Punjabi University organised Gyani Lal Singh memorial lecture in connection with Mother Tongue Day yesterday. The Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr U.C. Singh, presided over the lecture.

Dr Prem Singh, a linguist, delivered a lecture on ‘Gurmukhi: Guru Angad Dev and Indian traditions’. He said Guru Angad Dev systematised various scripts prevailing at that time and Gurmukhi came into existence.

Dr Dhanwant Kaur, Head of the Department, presented a brief account of the contribution made by Gyani Lal Singh in the promotion of Punjabi. Dr Satish Kumar Verma introduced Gyani Lal as pioneer who worked hard to get Punjabi its due status. Dr Ranjeet Kaur Kapur extended a vote of thanks.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi University Unit Sikh Students Federation also observed Mother Tongue Day. Vice-Chancellor Sawarn Singh Boparai was the chief guest on the occasion.

He highlighted various steps taken by the university for the promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture. He appealed to the government to construct a Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan in New Delhi and organise an international seminar to illustrate achievements in Punjabi language and literature.

The Registrar, Punjabi University, Dr Param Bakhshish, also spoke on the occasion.


UGC Secy opens college bhavan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
Educational institutes cannot live in isolation. They must connect themselves with the community. These remarks were made by Prof Ved Parkash, Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, while speaking on “financial and other planning of the UGC” at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

The UGC Secretary exhorted the college principals to inculcate moral values of honesty, character building, aspiration to excel, and better quality of life in students.

Earlier, Prof Parkash inaugurated the newly constructed building of Baba Budha College Bhavan on the university campus.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, welcomed the Secretary, UGC.

Meanwhile, Prof Ved Parkash, said the UGC was planning to organise high profile education camps abroad to motivate students to seek admission in Indian universities and institutions.

Talking to The Tribune here today after interacting with students of BBK DAV College, Prof Ved Parkash said under the 10th five year plan the UGC had allocated special funds to market Indian universities and colleges especially in Africa and other countries.

He said the UGC had drawn up an ambitious plan to establish four national institutes of sciences on the pattern of Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore and added that the government had approved the projects and selected cities like Bhuvneshavar, Chennai, Pune and Allahabad on the lines of IITs.


VC opens centre for Punjabi

Patiala, February 21
The Vice-Chancellor Punjabi University, Mr Sawarn Singh Boparai, inaugurated the Advance Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture here today.

The basic objective of the centre is to provide online teaching of Punjabi and develop software in various areas of usage of the language. The centre would develop software for the conversion of the Gurmukhi Script to Shahmukhi and Devnagri.

Besides, the centre would provide technical assistance and consultancy to various government departments for computerisation of office work in Punjabi. It would work as a nodel centre for coordination and monitoring of technical development of Punjabi language at the global level.

The Vice-Chancellor appointed Prof G.S. Lahel as Director of the centre. Dr Lahel is a renowned expert on the Technical Development of Punjabi language. He has developed the first Punjabi word processor, a Punjabi Spell Checker, the Gurmukhi optical character recognition system and other Punjabi language-related software.

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