P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Poll announcement scuttles move on building bylaws
Naveen S. Garewal & Kuldip Bhatia
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 29
The declaration of the election schedule has scuttled the move of the Punjab Government to implement an amnesty scheme to regularise violations of building by-laws with an eye on electoral gains. The notification for the settlement of violations of building bylaws in all the cities and towns of Punjab was issued through an ordinance in January, but was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February this year. The government is still in the process of making an appeal before the court, but with the Model Code of Conduct coming into force from today, all efforts in this direction have proved futile.

Lakhs of building by-laws violators, who had seen a golden opportunity in the scheme that was to remain effective for three months have been disappointed. The election announcement has come as a relief to the SAD that was planning to take the matter before the Election Commission.

On conditions of anonymity, a senior functionary of the Department of Local Bodies said: “Even before the urban local bodies could evolve the necessary mechanism to go ahead with giving effect to the one-time settlement scheme for violation of building by-laws in towns and cities, first the high court intervened and now with the model code coming into place, the scheme has been scuttled till May 10 when the poll process would be held in Punjab”.

It was a double Bench of the high court, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, that had taken up a civil writ petition no 4886 of 2003 and ruled that while taking into consideration the orders passed on February 10, 2004, restraining the government from regularising encroachments and illegal constructions made in the municipal area of Ludhiana, it was considered just and proper, and in larger public interest, to extend the restraint order to all municipal areas in the state. “This will go a long way to discourage the people from making encroachments on public lands or raising unauthorised constructions in the wake of the coming elections.”

The order further made it clear that the stay granted on February 10 against regularisation of encroachments and illegal constructions in all municipal areas of Punjab was further extended. This would necessarily mean that the government would not be entitled to regularise encroachments in the areas of municipal corporations, municipal councils, municipal committees or nagar panchayats. If the government had already issued any notification for regularisation of encroachments or illegal constructions, then the same would not be implemented or given effect to.

The order further directed the commissioners, chief executive officers, executive officers and secretaries of all local bodies to ensure that nobody was allowed to make encroachment on public lands, including those falling in municipal areas.

With the announcement of the election schedule, the government has decided not to pursue the matter any further till the poll process is completed.


Model code prevents CM from doling out sops
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today claimed that the ruling Congress would score a resounding victory in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections on all seats in the state and the unholy alliance of SAD and BJP would be defeated.

The hopes of the people of the area for expected announcement of some more relief for the urban areas were, however, dashed with the coming in force of the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections from this afternoon. The Chief Minister said he had come with a lot to offer to the people of the city but having been bound by the code of conduct, could say nothing at present. “Wait till the elections are over and it will be worth it,” he assured the gathering.

Addressing a function, organised by Congress legislator Surinder Dawar at Devki Devi Jain College for Women in Ludhiana East Assembly segment to highlight the achievements of the government during the past two years, the Chief Minister observed that with the former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his family members and close supporters having been booked for corrupt practices during their regime, the real face of the SAD leadership had been exposed and in the coming elections, they would not be in a position to make corruption, an election issue.

“Mr Badal, his son and many of the SAD ministers, facing charges of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income, are presently out on bail. But the Vigilance Bureau will put up the charge sheets against them latest by April and the gross misuse of power and other misdeeds will be made public.”

Listing the achievements of the government, Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that the work had been set in motion to refurbish the network of rural link roads in the state. A project for the construction of a total length of 42,000 kilometres of link roads had been taken in hand while another 5,200 kilometres length of link roads would be strengthened and repaired.

He said the previous SAD-BJP government had done precious little to improve the condition of the rural link roads and funds earmarked for this purpose had been diverted elsewhere.

The government had lifted the ban on recruitment to effectively tackle the gigantic problem of unemployment.

At the same time more and more vocational courses were being introduced to make the educated youth self reliant. The Chief Minister maintained that the power situation in the state had improved as compared to the previous years and there would be no power shortage for the industry or farm sector in the coming days.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Surinder Dawar, Congress Legislator from the area, said during the past two years an amount of Rs 16 crore had been spent on different kinds of development works in the Assembly segment. As much as Rs 8.19 crore were spent on the improvement of roads, Rs 2.11 crore on the expansion of sewerage network and Rs 2.07 crore on providing street lights in various localities. In addition, development works like laying water supply pipes, cleaning and pavement of open drains, development of parks, installation of tubewells and submersible pumps and creation of parking facilities had been carried out.


Let public evaluate appointees
Recruitment of DSPs against sports quota
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 29
As the controversy over the recruitment of seven new DSPs from the sports quota by the Punjab Government this month refuses to die down, the Ludhiana Sportsmen’s Welfare Society has challenged the Chief Minister and the Departmental Selection Committee to make public the selection criteria as well as the credentials of all candidates.

“Let the people of Punjab who have to pay for the services of these newly recruited DSPs know the basis of their selection. If the present government harps on probity in public life and transparency in its actions, including recruitments, let it place the facts before the people and get endorsed the recruitments it made in a hush-hush manner,” says Mr Teja Singh Dhaliwal, President of the Ludhiana Sportsmen’s Welfare Society (LSWS).

A number of candidates rejected by the Departmental Selection Committee have also taken exception to the remarks made by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at Ludhiana that only those outstanding sportsmen and women, who did not meet the qualifications for the job, were rejected.

The Committee, they alleged, tailor-made the selection criteria to recruit only those who were otherwise nowhere near the educational qualifications, physical features and sports achievements of those rejected by it.

Ramandeep Singh Grewal,” says Mr Teja Singh Dhaliwal, “is not only a first class graduate from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, but also one of the outstanding hockey players the state has recently produced.” Standing six feet in his socks, he not only captained India in the Asian Games and the Olympic Games but also led the country to its second Asian Games gold medal in hockey in 1998. He represented India in 34 international tournaments and tours abroad. and won several medals, including gold, silver and bronze for the country.

“How Ramandeep Singh Grewal can be equated and rejected compared to Bikram Inder Singh Chahal, who never ever won a national championship what to talk of representing India anywhere. Bikram Inder Singh Chahal is not even a patch on the educational qualifications or physical fitness of Ramandeep Singh Grewal. For that matter, none of those selected by the Departmental Selection Committee comes anywhere near him.”

“If the government could consider for age relaxation for Major R.S. Ahluwalia for being in government service, why not in the case of Ramandeep Grewal. Ramandeep is a much more accomplished sportsman than Major Ahluwalia and had been representing Punjab and the Punjab Police in all national championships,” Mr Dhaliwal said.

Mr Dhaliwal said that Sukhbir Singh Gill, another outstanding hockey player, not only fulfilled all qualifications for the post of DSP but was also far ahead of those selected.

“Sukhbir Singh Gill, a graduate of Panjab University and employed as an officer in a nationalised oil company, represented India in 24 international tournaments, both at home and abroad, and won several medals. He played for India in the Olympic Games and the World Cup, besides the Champions Trophy, Champions, Challenge, Asia Cup and several other tournaments. He again has better physical fitness features than some of those selected.

“Take the case of Ajay Raj Singh, an athlete of outstanding abilities. He is miles ahead of those who have been selected,” adds Mr Dhaliwal, quoting the qualifications and achievements of other outstanding sportsmen and women like Pardeep Singh Sandhu (cycling) and Jagjit Singh (rowing), who were rejected in preference to Bikram Inder Singh Chahal, Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal, Vinny Singh and Major R.S. Ahluwalia.

If Major Ahluwalia could be rewarded, why not Asian Games champion boxer Kaur Singh, who continues to be an ASI in the same department.

An outstanding sportsman is one who has been consistently outstanding in the field of sports, both at the national and international levels and he or she cannot be equated with one, who as a reserve or standby player, won a medal in a single event and had nothing more to add to his or her achievements file.

A number of sportsmen and others have already moved court, challenging these selections in which the selection criteria were never made public. For example, the name of Major J.S. Ahluwalia, did not appear among the 22 candidates shortlisted initially.

The Departmental Selection Committee arbitrarily fixed 28 as the upper age limit for the candidates but still considered Major Ahluwalia and rejected others without giving any reasons.


Pathankot SDM caught poaching
Varinder Walia and Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, February 29
Mr Puneet Goyal, Sub Divisional Magistrate Pathankot, who is also holding the dual charge of Dhar Kalan was caught red handed today and two partridges in his possession. Hunting of the National Bird is a non-bailable offence. He was caught in Naroor village under Garhdiwal Forest Range in Hoshiarpur district. The driver of the SDM and a poacher, Bholu, were also arrested under the Wildlife Act 1972.

Acting on a top off, two newly appointed honorary Wildlife Wardens — Mr Gunraj Singh and Mr Sukhdip Singh Bajwa — laid a naka near the village and signaled to stop the black jeep of Mr Goyal. Both the wardens had joined only last week. Mr Gunraj Singh, while talking to The Tribune, said they never thought that the poacher would turn out to be an SDM. However, Mr Goyal told The Tribune that he had been falsely implicated in the case due to a dispute with certain officials of the Forest Department.

The Chief Conservator Punjab, Mr A.S. Dogra, confirmed that Mr Goyal had been caught for the violation of the Wildlife Act. However, Mr Harjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, claimed that the offence had not yet been confirmed.

Interestingly, Mr Harjit Singh and Mr Kiradip Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioners of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur, respectively, met the visiting Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), but the state machinery failed to get the case hushed up. However, the Forest Department refused to bow to any pressure and said law would take its own course.

The Forest Department also impounded a rifle 28 cartridges and the mobile of the SDM.

There is a provision for seven-year sentence since poaching of the National Bird is a non-bailable offence under Schedule one of the Wild Life Act 1972, as amended up to 2002.

It is learnt that a Public Interest Litigation is pending against the Forest Department for allegedly having failed to protect the wild life in Hoshiarpur district.


Forest officials charged with poaching
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 29
If allegations in a public interest litigation filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court were to be believed, then Rs 26 lakh was paid by Punjab’s Department of Forests to a private photographer for taking stills.

This was not all. The petition, filed through a city resident, further alleged that illegal mining of sand and gravel was continuing in the forest division of Ropar and Garhshankar in violation of the Supreme Court directives.

It was added that poaching and “other illegal activities” by the department officials were “burdening the state exchequer”. A number of inquiries were ordered from time to time, but their fate was not known.

Moreover, action had not been initiated against officers chargesheeted and held guilty.

Seeking time-bound probe by the CBI into the alleged irregularities, the petitioner claimed that large scale mining and felling of trees was posing danger of floods in many parts of the state.

Moreover, the acts of poaching were resulting in depletion of fauna. Taking up the petition, the high court has fixed March 8 as the next of hearing in the matter.

In her petition, Veena Kumari added that the result of the inquiries against the officers should be made public so that the guilty “could be taken to task”. News items published in The Tribune were also enclosed along with the petition to substantiate the submissions.

Giving details, the petitioner asserted that exorbitant fees was paid to the photographer without making any attempts to get the job done through Punjab’s Department of Public Relations. Even tenders were not invited.

Quoting a report published in these columns on June 3 last year, the petitioner asserted that poaching cases were “hanging fire”.

Poaching, she added, was a result of improper initiative on part of department officials. The cases, she asserted, were a manifestation of state’s “callous attitude” towards the preservation of wild life and maintenance of ecological balance.

Alleging illegal felling of trees, the petitioner claimed that certain officials were found guilty as per a report submitted by a committee formed by the Punjab Government to look into irregularities, including felling of trees.

However, action was not initiated.

Blaming the officials for being involved in illegal purchase of fence posts, she added that the same were purchased from outside the state of Punjab at higher rates “causing loss to the exchequer”.

The story did not end here. There was large scale corruption in the department basically due to the fact that non-cadre Punjab Forests Service Officers were being posted as District Forest Officers instead of Indian Forest Services officers.


Scrapping of post draws flak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 29
The issuance of an ordinance by the Punjab Government scrapping the post of Pro-Vice- Chancellor is politically motivated and most unfortunate, says Mr Harjeet Singh Grewal, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Punjab unit had submitted a memorandum to the Governor-cum-Chancellor of Punjabi University a few months ago listing various issues relating to declining standard of governance at the university.

“I appeal to the Chancellor to review the current heavily politicised functioning of the university under active support of the present Government of Punjab,” said Mr Grewal.


Pak admits damage to Hindu shrines
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 29
The Pakistan Government has admitted for the first time that after the Partition in 1947, several buildings and shrines belonging to Hindus had remained unattended for a long time and had suffered colossal damage.

The official document handed over to Mr Surinder Kumar Billa leader of the Hindu Jatha, which recently returned from Pakistan by Mr Ama Ullah, a curator-cum-project Director of Katasraj Temple clearly mentioned that “secular buildings” (Hindu/Sikh shrines) were subjected to vandalism and considerable damage was caused to these by the local people, who had removed most of embellishments like wooden doors, roof beams, rafters, roof sand stones tiles along with other building materials.

The three-page report is a part of the report sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by Mr Billa. The report speaks about the belated efforts being made by the Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB) for the restoration and preservation of Hindu temples with an initial budget of Rs 1 crore. The report stated that a comprehensive development scheme had been prepared for the restoration and preservation of Hindu temples under the instructions of Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The ambitious targets set by the Government of Pakistan, included the preservation of seven ancient temples, restoration and conservation of Hari Singh Nalwa’s haveli, preservation of ancient Bairagi’s House and other heritage sites, belonging to Hindus.

In his report to MEA, Mr Billa, however, expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by Pakistan Government during the recent visit of the 130-member jatha to Pakistan. He said most of the temples in Pakistan were in a dilapidated condition but the Pakistan Government had started renovating the ancient buildings. Mr Billa, who is president of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena offered that his organisation was ready to bear all the expenses of carrying out the ‘kar seva’ of the ancient temples.


‘Ehsaas’ of cross-border warmth
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 29
It was a heart-warming experience yesterday at Ehsass-2004, fifth inter-college cultural festival at the PCTE, when the team from SZABIST, Islamabad, came onto the stage waving Indian and Pakistani national flags to deliver a message of brotherhood and unity.

In all, 30 teams from Haryana, New Delhi and Punjab participated in the festival. One delegation comprising Mr Aamir Iftikhar, Mr Shahid Ali Haider and Mr Bukhari of the National College of Business Administration and Economics, Lahore, also attended the festival. It expressed the hope for long-term relations between the two countries.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, a former Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and former vice-chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, inaugurated the festival in the morning and released a souvenir of Ehsaas-2004.

“The two countries should look forward to developing cordial relations. We would like to have greater participation and more exchange of delegations across the border in future,” the chief guest remarked while inaugurating the function.

The Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, won the overall trophy by winning the first prize in the portfolio management game, group dance and choreography; second prize in duet song, dance and “turn coat”; and the third prize in face painting.

In the fashion show, the first prize was bagged by GNIMT, Ludhiana; second KIMT, Ludhiana, and the third GGNIMT. In group dance, the Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, bagged the first prize, Lovely Institute, Phagwara, second and GGNIMT, Ludhiana, third. In choreography GCB, Ludhiana, stood first, APJ second and CMTR, Kharar, third.

Omer Ghaur and Farhad Saleem of SZABIST, Islamabad, bagged the first prize in duet acting and Sikandar of SZABIST stood first in flower arrangement. Fahid Ali Raza of SZABIST won the third prize in “turn coat”.

Dinkar Bhardwaj and Kirti Bhalla of GNDEC, Ludhiana, stood first in the quiz, Rishu Dhawan and Shivinder Singh of Rayat Institute, Ropar, second and Mohit Tewari and Pardeep Mehta of SUSCET, Mohali, third. Saranjeet of IMS, Ludhiana, won the mehndi competition. Hemant and Navraj of the Lovely Institute of Phagwara won the duet song contest. In “sell it,” Lovely Institute, Phagwara, was first, GNDEC, Ludhiana, second and CMTR, Kharar, third.

Wing Commander H.S.Gill (retd.), chairman, said, there were nearly 4000 visitors at the festival. Such festivals gave a common platform to the students from the different region to interact and exhibit their skills, he added.


Pak offers free heart treatment to 60 Indians
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 29
Pakistan has offered free heart treatment to 60 Indians in its institutes at Karachi and Lahore. While Karachi would cater to adults, Lahore has offered treatment to children. Dr Farzana Nazir, Punjab State Parliamentary Health Secretary, Pakistan, announced here today before leaving for Pakistan after a week-long tour in India. A formal announcement for free treatment would be made shortly by the Pakistan High Commission, said Dr Farzana.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpal Singh, Chairman, Fortis Healthcare, who hosted the visit of Dr Nazir and a 14-member team of doctors from Pakistan, had announced its keenness to collaborate with Pakistan in various areas of healthcare.

Dr Farzana in a press conference said today that Pakistan was lacking in private sector healthcare and was keen to collaborate in this direction. The Pakistan Health Ministry was keen to collaborate with India in field of family planning, kidney transplant, neurology and other specialist fields, she said.

Ms Safia Javed, a member of parliament accompanying the Pakistan delegation, said the goodwill between both countries must continue to move on to solve contentious issues.

Dr Shabana Faisal, general secretary of the doctor’s wing of Muslim League, urged for greater cooperation between both Punjabs.

Mr Zahir Ahmed Mir, legal advisor of the Muslim League, contended that the people-to-people contact has taken such a momentum that even if the respective governments now want to stop they could not halt the positive trend.

The delegation also visited the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. Dr Farzana’s paternal uncle, Bashir Ahmed, was the organiser of the fateful ‘jalsa’ at Jallianwala Bagh on the day of Baisakhi of 1919 which were fired upon by Gen O’Dwyer and his men. Her uncle was grievously wounded in the firing while one of her father’s cousin died.


Jagmeet Brar’s constituency changed
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 29
Putting all speculations to rest the 13-member Central Election Committee (CEC) has cleared the name of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Ferozepore Parliamentary constituency by accepting his demand to change his earlier Faridkot area. The formal announcement might be made soon after getting the nod from AICC President Sonia Gandhi.

As per party sources Mr Brar was reluctant to contest the poll from the Faridkot constituency due to some political compulsions.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had reportedly played a key role in this connection because of his close political relations with Mr Brar. Also Mr Amarinder Singh had defeated the efforts of Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who was reportedly interested in nomination of Mr Brar from his old constituency, Faridkot, due to her political differences with him (Brar) for his cooperating with the state Chief Minister during her efforts to dethrone the Chief Minister.

She had asked the party high command during her visit here on February 6 to renominate Mr Brar from his old constituency. But Mr Brar had met Mrs Gandhi thrice during the past three weeks and had appealed to her to change his constituency due to infighting among senior party leaders in this constituency.

Mr Brar said to her that in 1985 he had contested the poll from Ferozepore parliamentary constituency during the militancy days and had been defeated by Mr Dhayan Singh Mand with only a margin of 30,000 votes. But since now the situation was normal and in his favour he could wrest the seat from SAD nominee Zora Singh Mann.

After getting favourable signal from the CEC he called his supporters and younger brother Mr Ripjeet Singh, Chairman, Punjab Energy Development Authority (PEDA), at Muktsar on February 26 and asked them to launch his poll campaign in Ferozepore district soon after the formal announcement of his candidature.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Surinderiqbal Singh Brar, president, District Congress Committee, Faridkot, and a close follower of Mr Jagmeet Singh, said a formal meeting of more than 400 senior party workers and leaders presided by PEDA chief was held at the Muktsar yesterday to chalk out campaign programme.


Balbir not to seek renomination
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 29
The local MP, Mr Balbir Singh, today announced not to seek renomination from the Jalandhar seat on Congress ticket.

While Mr Balbir Singh’s “extreme” step has showcased the ongoing “infighting” among local leaders, it has almost paved the way for Olympian Pargat Singh, who has “repeatedly” been contacted by the Congress leadership for replacing Mr Balbir Singh as the Congress nominee from Jalandhar.

Mr Balbir Singh, who had been camping in New Delhi for the past five days, faxed as letter to the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, today that he had “decided” not to seek renomination. Mr Balbir Singh, who was on the way to Jalandhar, confirmed it on his cellphone that he had written the letter to party chief.

“Yes, I have written the letter to the party President,” said Mr Balbir Singh. He, however, refused to make any further comment.

Sources pointed out that a group of leaders had spoken against the MP during the recent visit of the Congress observer to the city.


Minister begins poll campaign
Our Correspondent

Sujanpur, February 29
The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, yesterday launched an election campaign in the Sujanpur constituency.

The minister attended various programmes, including laying of foundation stones, yesterday and today.

Mr Puri laid a foundation stone at Gho village and inaugurated water supply schemes at Dadwan, Kalesar and Panjore villages.

He distributed Rs 1 lakh among 130 panchayats and gave a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to Phool Pyara panchayat for the repair and construction of the cremation ground.


Ex-Deputy District Attorney joins SAD
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 29
Mr Inderpal Singh Chahal, Deputy District Attorney (retd), Barnala, joined SAD on Friday on the persuasion of Mr.Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa here.


Impressive performances add punch to play
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 29
A perfect blend of impeccable theatrical performance and direction of “Dance Like A Man,” play focussing on shades of lives of two generations, mesmerised a large number of spectators, at the local Red Cross Bhawan here yesterday.

The play performance, organised by the Durga Dass Foundation, and sponsored by the Tribune Group of Newspapers the Spice Telecom, has been penned by eminent dramatist-playright Mahesh Dattani and directed by Lillete Dubey. The story revolves around the life of two generations of dancers and their common link — dance.

The play, which has bagged a number of international awards, starred MTV Veejay and model Suchrita Pilai, Godrej CEO Vijay Crishna, Lillete and TV star Joy Sen Gupta.

What made the event more interesting was the shift of emotive outbursts of individuals — from both the older and younger generations — their passionate concerns about their careers, feelings and perfect mingling of melodrama and comedy and monolugues, sans monotony. Mr Atul Khanna, Director of the Durga Dass Foundation, was also present on the occasion.


Farmers end dharna after CM’s assurance
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 29
The eight-day-long dharna organised by members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union-Ekta (Ugrahan faction) and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee came to an end today evening after nearly two-hour long meeting of a six-member delegation of kisan leaders with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh at the Circuit House here. The leaders of the agitation, however, said they were dissatisfied with the outcome of the meeting.

The dharna, which had disrupted normal life in the city for the past one week, was lifted after the Chief Minister assured the farmers that their demands would be looked into sympathetically once the elections were over. The Chief Minister, while professing his helplessness stated that the demands of the farmers could not be acceded to owing to the Model Code of Conduct which came into force from today. The farmers had paralysed rail traffic in Patiala for the second consecutive day today. A goods train that had been stopped by the farmers in the morning was allowed to pass through only after the dharna came to an end in the evening.

Kisan leaders while declaring that the state government had adopted a dilly-dallying attitude towards the resolution of the issue stated that the government had failed to fulfill its promise of addressing the ‘genuine’ demands of the farmers . Joginder Singh Ugrahan , president of the BKU-Ekta and Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener, Kisan Sangharsh Committee, who led the six-member delegation while talking to mediapersons claimed that, the farmers had achieved their objective of forcing the state government to take notice of their demands and seen in that light their dharna had been totally successful.

Ugrahan further stated that there remained certain demands that could be met by the state government even after the imposition of the code of conduct and that the kisan leaders would hold another meeting with the state government in this regard soon. He said the agitation would be resumed in case the authorities failed to bring about an amicable settlement of those demands.

Meanwhile, talking about the announcement of Congress candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections the Chief Minister stated that the candidatures would probably be announced within a fortnight. Reacting to the release of the list of candidates by the Akali Dal he said that no national party had yet announced its candidates and the Congress had to decide candidature for 570 seats all over the country instead of 13 that were announced by the Akalis for Punjab.


High alert sounded on Indo-Pak border

Amritsar, February 29
A high alert was sounded along the Indo-Pak border in Punjab in the wake of landing of an unidentified flying object in Pakistan’s territory, BSF Senior Commandant Darbara Singh said here today.

The incident occurred on Thursday evening when some flying object, which took off from the Indian side, landed in Pakistan’s territory hardly 300 yards away from the zero line, he said.

The area was identified on the Indian side as BSF Post Fatehpur falling in Chann Kalan village, he said.

“In this regard the BSF have already handed over the protest note to the Pakistan authorities for providing necessary information of landing object which has reportedly took off from the Indian side with three persons,” Dr Darbara Singh said. — PTI


Punjabi hospitality bowls over folk artistes
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 29
The 15-day-long crafts mela may have come to an end today, but artisans and folk artistes from various states of the country are sure to bask for a long time in the warmth and affection of Punjabi hospitality they enjoyed here. Besides showcasing a wide range of handicrafts made by artisans from all over the country, the fair also focused on folk music and dance performances by artistes from various states.

A team of 15 folk artistes from Karnataka, who gave a performance at the mela this evening, said they were overwhelmed by the architectural grandeur of the city and the affection received from the people here. The kunita dance presented by the troupe as an offering to Goddess Laxmi was appreciated by the visitors to the fair. It involved the balancing of a large idol of the goddess on the lead dancer's head. Dassuppa, who led the troupe, said the only thing the members missed was traditional South Indian food.

Folk artistes from Uttaranchal, who presented the chhalia dance at the fair ever since it was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, also earned their fair share of appreciation from the audience. The colourful dance was performed by a 24-member troupe from Nagodaya Parwati Kala Kendra, who in their spare time visited the Quila Mubarak, besides the crowded inner bazaars of the city. Team leader Hem Raj Bhishk said, “People here are very friendly, they have interacted with us and even gone out of their way to be polite to us. We shall never forget this visit and hope we shall be invited again next year”.

Most of the artisans, too, were all smiles today as the fair had proved to be a resounding success. Biju Ram from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, who had brought a huge collection of dolls, puppets and cloth material, said this was the second time he had put up a stall at the fair and the sales had been even better than before. Artisans from Saharanpur, Moradabad and other places also did brisk business, with some even making quick trips back home to bring more goods.


Capt apprised of PCS officers’ plight
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 29
Even as the appointments of eight DSPs under sports quota has come under a scanner for the “unusual haste” and ‘questionable’ merit, the eight “selected meritorious” PCS candidates, who proved their merit a second time, have been left high and dry.

All eight have been without a posting since their selection about three months ago. Now their fate is sealed for more than three months with the election code of conduct coming into force today. Under this all future appointments have been barred.

They alleged that despite having served on important posts prior to the ordering of the re-examination they were humiliated and harassed for a long time and were made to complete various formalities, including medical and police verification. But in spite of having completed these formalities months ago, they had not been given a post.

Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, took up the issue with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said the recent appointments of DSPs took merely a few days, whereas these PCS officers were still awaiting appointments.


Janak Gupta is Lions Club president
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 29
Social organisations play an important role in the development of the society and the country. Social workers should educate the people to elect only educated, honest, dedicated and clean candidates in the coming parliamentary elections. So there is great responsibility before the people and they should not make any mistake, which may affect the fate of the country, said Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister for Grievances and Pensions, while addressing the installation ceremony of the Lions Club, Sirhind, at Krishna Palace today.

He said the growing menace of corruption in public life and administration was a biggest challenge for the democracy and Independence of the country and Punjabis were lucky that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, had taken a pledge to eradicate corruption from the state. He called upon the people to come forward for this noble cause and strengthen the hands of the Chief Minister.

He called upon the social organisations to join hands and come forward to eradicate social evils from the society as the government alone could not succeed in any mission without their cooperation.

Addressing the function Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, appreciated the efforts of the Lions Club in serving the downtrodden and weaker sections of the society. He called upon the social organisations to render their service in rural areas also and help those who really deserve.

On this occasion Dr Ramesh Dutt installed the new team of Lion Janak Gupta, president and other office-bearers.

Addressing the function Lion Janak Gupta assured that the Lions Club, Sirhind, would undertake various public oriented projects and cover the rural areas. Lion Ashwani Kaura, secretary, read out the annual report of the club.

Dr Ramesh Dutt announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the club.


Book on Maharshi Balmiki condemned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 29
Dr Ambedkar Ekta Mission, Punjab has supported the Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Congress in demanding action against a book “Janbaz Raakha” for containing derogatory remarks against Maharshi Balmiki.

At an emergency meeting of the mission under the guidance of Mr Roshan Lal Pala and Dr R.S.Yadav here on Friday, the members of the mission flayed the book and demanded strict action against the writer for allegedly playing with the sentiments of the Balmiki Samaj.

Mr Pala said they supported Mr Kala Hans, president and Mr Sudesh Gharu, district president, Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Congress, for demanding action against the “guilty”. “The derogatory remarks mentioned in the book against Maharshi Balmiki will not be tolerated in any case. The writer has forgotten the sacrifices made by the great guru and has defamed him and his followers. The book, which should be banned immediately, is openly being sold in the markets”, said Mr Pala.


Hospital’s power supply may go
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 29
The electricity connection of the Civil Hospital here is likely to be snapped anytime due to the non-payment of electricity bills.

Informing this in a press note issued here, the Additional Superintending Engineer, City Centre Mandal, said, the Civil Hospital was a defaulter of more than Rs 25.21 lakh as it had not paid bills since October 2002.

He said the department had been issuing notice to the Civil Hospital for the past six months. However, it had not paid its dues. The Additional SE said the inconvenience to the people would be the responsibility of the hospital.


Heritage Fest good on events, low on tourism
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

THE number of events which were crammed into the Heritage Festival in the city which concluded last week was mind-boggling.

From two top-notch classical performances for four days, besides a play by Habib Tanveer, Ghulam Ali’s ghazals and performances by music groups ‘Stereo Nation’ and ‘Junoon’, one had a high profile cricket match, polo, rural sports, painting exhibition and lots more. All this, besides a 15-day heritage craft mela which will culminate tomorrow.

Despite all this, the festival was not able to attract tourists. Even people from Chandigarh and nearby towns preferred to stay away except for coming to watch the cricket match and attending the Ghulam Ali night. While this may have been disappointing for the Patiala Heritage Society, it was doubly so for hoteliers and people engaged in the handicraft trade in the city.

Tourists stayed away despite immense publicity by the society in Chandigarh, Delhi and all major airports.

However, the secretary of the Heritage Society, Mr Tejveer Singh, was optimistic. He said some people had come from Chandigarh and Delhi and that the society would try to build upon its strengths by marketing Patiala more vigorously in India and abroad this year.

According to some local residents, the society should concentrate more on Chandigarh and tourists from Punjab, particularly from Ludhiana. They say with so many people coming to Chandigarh on their way to Himachal Pradesh, travel agents should be coaxed into getting them into Patiala. They also advocated a one-day package tour from Chandigarh to the city.

* * *

Medal Gallery opened

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s medal gallery in the Sheesh Mahal complex, which hosts the largest collection of medals in the world, opened for the first time in decades during the Heritage Festival.

The gallery is kept shut and opened for VIP visitors only mainly due to security considerations. According to those who saw the gallery suggested that the gallery should be opened to public even after the festival. Meanwhile, the Heritage Society has plans of refurbishing the gallery by next year’s festival.

* * *

Treat for book lovers

While the city was caught up in the Heritage Festival, around 50 bookworms visited a book fair organised in the Pragrati Maidan due to the efforts of private library owner Samar Dhaliwal of ‘Biblio’. Samar offered to take these persons to the book fair in a luxury bus free of cost on a first come basis. Those who lapped up the offer said they had a rollicking time.


Judge orders registration of forgery case

Moga, February 29
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Sukhdev Singh, has ordered registration of a criminal case, against Jata Singh and three others for allegedly selling a piece of prime land having half share of Jata Singh’s brother Ram Singh, who is deaf and dump, to Roor Singh of the same village, Alamwala, under Baghapurana subdivision in Moga district by producing a fake person at the time of registration of the sale deed.

The judge passed the order on Friday. Jeetao, sister of Ram Singh, alleged that her second brother Jata Singh without the knowledge of Ram Singh sold the entire piece of land measuring a little less than an acre in connivance with the buyer, Roor Singh, and two witnesses of the sale deed, Jaswant Singh and Dalip Singh. — PTI


Scientists advise Bt cotton farmers to wait
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 29
Agriculture scientists yesterday advised farmers to wait for sometime before taking up Bt cotton cultivation till Punjab Agricultural University completed its research.

Dr H. R. Jagga and Mr M. P. Sharma, addressing farmers at the seminar on crop organised by IFFCO at Khaane ki Dhaab village on the Abohar-Muktsar road, said credentials of the Bt cotton seed marketed by individuals in the region could be checked by an equipment valuing Rs 1,460 only. Cotton growers, if rely on quacks, could be ruined, they warned.

The gathering had a providential escape as the vast shamiana collapsed due to high-speed dust storm that lashed the region during the function. However the farmers remained unperturbed. Mr Baldev Singh, SDM Malout, presided over the seminar. The scientists spoke about balanced use of fertilizers and viable qualities of cotton seed, besides warning the cotton growers against excessive spray of insecticides.

Dr Rajinder Kumar from the Research Centre, Ferozepore, asked the farmers to take up the cultivation of other crops and give rest to their fields for some-time to improve fertility. Mr Nahar Singh Mavi Area Manager, IFFCO, said the organisation had resolved to spend 3 per cent of its profit on the welfare of the farmers. Mr R. K. Upveja, Senior Field Officer, said there would be no shortage of fertilizer in the coming season.


Youth stabbed to death, one held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 29
Over a minor altercation in a health club Sher Singh, alias Banty, was stabbed to death by a group of over 9 persons in the Lohgarh area late last evening. Another youth, Vishal, a friend of Sher Singh, was injured in the attack.

The police today arrested Johny, a resident of the Lohgarh area. Rest of the accused had absconded after the incident. The police has rounded up some persons for interrogation. Raids were on to nab the culprits. Mr Pawan Rai, SP City-I, said all accused had been identified and said they would be arrested soon.

Around 20 persons armed with kirpans, soda bottles and baseball bats attacked Sher Singh and his friend last night when they were standing near a chemist shop. The accused stabbed Sher Singh, who died on way to hospital. A case has been registered at D-division police station here.


PTU stalemate: students to meet Governor today
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 29
Agitating B. Tech students (2001 batch), who have been holding a chain fast in front of the Punjab Technical University premises for past eight days, have decided to burn effigies of PTU administration officials at all engineering colleges of the state on March 3 to protest against the “indifference” shown by the university authorities towards their demands.

The students, have also threatened to convert their fast into an indefinite fast after March 3 in case the university authorities failed to accept their demands.

Mr Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, a spokesperson of the students and the vice-president of the Students Federation of India (SFI), said students had decided to burn effigies as the PTU administration had failed to solve their problems and to accept their ‘genuine’ demands, including, reinstatement of old 24-credit system.

He said a delegation of the students would meet the Punjab Governor and Chancellor of the PTU tomorrow to apprise him about the situation and the “stubborn attitude” of the varsity officials.


Govt college to have new building
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 29
Local Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College would soon have a new building in place of the 150- year-old building.

Rana Gurjit Singh local Congress MLA and chairman of the Kapurthala Development Board, yesterday laid the foundation stone of the proposed building of the college. A sum of Rs 1 crore would be spent on the construction of the new building.

Principal B.S. Behal, Principal of the college, read out the achievements of the college.


DC exhorts youth to take interest in literature
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 29
The youth should take a keen interest in literature and by reading, listening and composing satires on social evils, they can contribute a lot to developing a
healthy society. This was stated by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a kavi darbar being organised by the District cultural Society in collaboration with the Nehru Yuvak Kendra Club Sirhind on Thursday night.

People from every walk of life attended the programme. The Deputy Commissioner said the 3rd kirtan darbar  would be organised  on March 1 in the series of kirtan darbars being organised every month to commemorate the 300th year of martyrdom of younger Sahibzadas. All political parties would be persuaded not to organise their political conferences on the eve of ensuing annual Shaidi Jor Mela.

He called upon the poets to compose such lyrics which may create interest and awareness among the youths.

Mr Ranjodh Singh Khanpuri, Mr Sant Singh Sohal, Dr Charan Singh Gill, Mr Anokh Khanpuri, Ms Santosh Verma, Dr Dharminder Singh, Mr Ashok Jhanjhi, Gurnam Singh Bawa, Ms Surinder Kaur Bara, Ms Sandeep Joshi and Babu Singh Chauhan also read their poems.

Mr S.K.Ahluwalia was honoured by the Sarv Dharm Sewa Society for his contribution in preserving the religious importance of the Shaheedi Jor Mela by not allowing gambling and other merry-making stalls during the mela.


Seminar on IT education
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 29
A national-level seminar on ‘Emerging trends in information technology education in north-west India’ was organised at the Sri Guru Harkrishan College of Management and Technology here.

The seminar was sponsored by the ICSSR. Eminent scholars from various universities and colleges of the region presented their papers on the topic. The keynote address was delivered by Professor K.K. Bhardwaj, ex-Dean Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The chairman of the college, Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, welcomed the guests and gave a brief background of the college. Dr H.S. Deol presided over the seminar. He emphasised on the importance of computer science.

The evening session was presided over by Dr Chandan Singh, Director, Department of Computer Science, Punjabi University. He discussed the scope of IT education in the country. The Principal of the college, Dr I.P.S. Thind, extended a vote of thanks.

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