P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Symbolic kar seva by Advani
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today paid obeisance and made a symbolic participation in the kar seva at the Golden Temple. The phase I of the kar seva concluded here today. Mr Advani applied a ‘tilak’ of the holy silt and took some of it in a polythene bag.

Despite lakhs of devotees on the second day of the kar seva, Mr Advani’s visit went off smoothly.

Accompanied by Mr Vinod Khanna, MP, Gurdaspur, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Honorary Secretary, SGPC, and senior BJP and SAD leaders, the Deputy Prime Minister walked barefooted till the entrance of the shrine.

Wearing a white ‘roomala’, he went round the parikarma surrounded by 20 security personnel in mufti and a human chain formed by the SGPC task force. A “rope party” of the security personnel made matters easier, as they cordoned off a selected passage on his entry and exit to the shrine in quick succession.

Meanwhile, Baba Amrik Singh, a representative of Baba Jagtar Singh Karsevawale, said the seva this time was historic as it was perhaps the first time that the entire cleansing and de-silting had been done with hands. After the first ‘tuk’ by a gold spade, no spades were used. Instead, bowls, metal basins and buckets were used to lift the silt.

Kar sevaks smeared in sludge and mud, and raising slogans of “Sat Sri Akal”, took holy silt to their homes. Ms Shirin Kaur from the UK said, “the silt of Darbar Sahib had the essence of years of kirtan. It is like vatan ki mitti. Nothing can be more pious,” she added.

Laying the infrastructure of the filtration plant and other subsidiary and ancillary fittings would start from tomorrow. This would take a week after which work would resume on phase II for the one-fourth portion segregated for fish and the Mata Kaulan gurdwara portion. The silt from holy tank was being deposited a low lying area near Akali Phula Singh Burj. The Deputy Prime Minister also paid obeisance at Durgiana Mandir.


SAD leaders absent from Advani’s rally
Our Correspondents

Pathankot, March 26
The rally organised by the BJP on Thursday evening on the arrival of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, here at Ram Lila Grounds proved to be a damp squib on account of the late arrival of Mr Advani and the absence of senior SAD leaders, who were scheduled to address the rally.

Mr Advani was scheduled to arrive at 8 pm along with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, Punjab, and other senior SAD leaders. The Deputy Prime Minister, however, arrived at around 9.40 pm. The local SAD leaders, Jathedar Dilbag Singh, member, SGPC, and Jathedar Sewa Singh, presented a sword to Mr Advani.

The Deputy Prime Minister, in his address, underlined the need for nation-building and said the Vajpayee government during the past six years had given able governance, accelerated development and put the country among the front-ranking nations.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Vinod Khanna, External Affairs Minister, said he was a staunch follower of Mr Advani and urged the Deputy Prime Minister to take up the case of the shifting of the ammunition depot from its present site as it posed a threat to the residents of the area.

Batala: Mr Advani’s “Bharat Uday Yatra” reached Batala on Friday from Pathankot. It was received by the local leaders of the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal at Kala Nangal village under the Batala Assembly constituency. More than 4,000 persons had gathered here to welcome the yatra. Mr Advani was accompanied by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president, BJP Punjab, Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, and other state leaders of the BJP and the SAD.


Dang, Pasla among 200 lathi-charged, detained
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Nearly 200 activists of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgari Committee, CPI, CPM leaders, including Mr Satpal Dang, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, Mr Amarjit Asal and other senior leaders were lathi-charged and later rounded up by the police when they were demonstrating against the alleged disowning of the Kamagatamaru and Kuka Movement freedom fighters by the central government, during Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s Rath yatra here.

The leaders wanted to present a memorandum to Mr Advani, who were here on the conclusion of first phase of ‘Bharat Uday Yatra’. The activists including women, were stopped near Bhandari bridge and were rounded up and taken to various police stations, including Verka, Sadar, Chheharta and Gharinda. The activists were raising slogans against the central government and highhandedness of police. The others who were rounded up, include Rajeshwar Singh Chamari, Mr Gurbax Singh, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Mr Raghubir Singh, Mr Naunihal Singh etc.

The committee alleged that filing of an affidavit in the high court by the central government in which it had disown the supreme sacrifices of Kamagatamaru and Kuka Movement freedom fighters, as most unfortunate and an insult to the martyrs.

They urged all patriotic Indians and Punjabis to join hands to force the government to accept their demand of declaring them freedom fighters who had fought for the freedom of the country. The Committee demanded that the government must withdraw the affidavit submitted to the high court and sought an apology from the central government. They also demanded that the martyrs of these movements should be given all benefits and facilities given to other freedom fighters.

Earlier, they took a pledge at the Jallianwala Bagh national memorial.


Mann, party workers released
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 26
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), along with his party workers and leaders, was released today as the Sunam SDM discharged them on finding that there was now no law and order problem — the ground on which they had been arrested.

Mr Mann along with 14 other leaders and workers of the SAD(A) was arrested on March 24 from Dirba after the Akali Conference of the SAD(A) on the charge that he had made a “provocative” speech at the conference in connection with the “Bharat Uday Yatra” of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani.

Others who were released along with Mr Mann included Mr Paramjit Singh Khalsa, general secretary of the party, Mr Surinder Goyal “Babbi”, press secretary of the party, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the kisan wing of the SAD(A), Mr Gopal Singh Jawandha, working committee member of the party, and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party.

As many as 26 SAD(A) leaders, including Mr Mann, were today released from the Sangrur police district, according to Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Mann claimed that the SAD(A) was the only secular party in the state now as the so-called secular parties, including the Congress, the CPM and the CPI had played a role in getting him arrested. He said the leaders of the SAD and the BJP also met the Punjab Governor on March 23 to make an appeal for his arrest. He claimed that thousands of his partymen got themselves arrested in protest against the yatra of Mr Advani.


RRD decries Mann’s attempt to disrupt Advani’s yatra
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 26
Col H. J. Singh (retd) vice-president, Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD), has expressed concern over the “undemocratic activity of The Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who, along with other senior leaders of the party, tried to create hurdles in the arrival of the rath yatra of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, who is on a two-day tour of the state.

If Mr Mann had the right to express his party’s views others also had the same right, he said.

Talking to this reporter here today, he claimed Mr Mann had also contacted senior RRD members seeking their support on his action. The RRD was contesting the elections from 12 constituencies in the state, but did not believe in destabilising its peace, he added. Our aim is to protect interests of Armymen, who were safeguarding national interests but lagging behind in getting opportunities on a par with other sections of society due to adamant attitude of political bosses, he said. He appealed to leaders of all political parties, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to contest the polls in a peaceful manner to maintain communal harmony in the state.

Seeking support for his party candidates, the RRD vice-president expressed hope that the electorate would remain cautious in exercising their franchise and safeguarding interests of the state.


SAD(A) activists hold up Advani’s yatra

Amritsar, March 26
Some activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today tried to disrupt Mr L.K. Advani’s “Bharat Uday Yatra” near Verka while it was entering the city.

The general secretary of the SAD (A), Bhai Ram Singh, in a press note issued here today claimed that the party workers were successful in organising a black flag demonstration to lodge their protest against Mr Advani’s yatra, which symbolised the suppression of the minorities in the country. Bhai Ram Singh said the party activists managed to hold up the yatra for some time in spite of a police heavy deployment. — OC

Cong leader Bolaria joins SAD
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Mr Ravinder Singh Bolaria, former Congress leader, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) along with 400 supporters in the presence of senior Akali leaders including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, at a rally today.

Mr Bolaria, a Deputy Mayor in 1991, fought as Congress rebel in last Assembly election.

Mr Badal while singing praises of the leadership of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, in his speech spared only one line for Mr Ravinder Singh Bolaria describing him as selfless leader.


Cong to kick off poll campaign next week
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced that the party’s election campaign for the Lok Sabha elections would be kicked off from here on Monday.

Talking to this correspondent after visiting Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra at the Escorts hospital, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Congress candidates for the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab would be declared by Sunday and hoped that the party would launch its election campaign during the next week. He said his party was confident of winning all seats in Punjab.

On participating in the kar seva to desilt the holy sarovar of the Golden Temple, the Chief Minister said he along with his Cabinet colleagues and party workers would join the kar sevaks on Monday.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was also present at the hospital to enquire about the health of Mr Tohra, said the prospective Congress candidates were fleeing from the election fray as they were afraid to fight the strong Akali leaders. He said Capt Amarinder Singh symbolised aristocracy and was unable to govern the state.

He pointed out that the Congress government in the state had failed on all fronts as it had alienated the masses and its defeat in elections was certain.


CPM candidate dismisses Cong leaders’ claims
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 26
Dismissing all claims of state leadership of the Congress, Mr Darshan Singh Mattu, a nominee of the CPM from the Hoshiarpur Parliamentary constituency, while talking to mediapersons at Nangal yesterday, said he was the joint candidate of the Congress and the CPM.

Responding to queries, he claimed that the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, had left the Hoshiarpur Parliamentary seat for the CPM following an agreement with Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

When asked about statements of Congress leaders that the seat should not be left for the CPM, he said this disgruntlement would last only till an official announcement regarding the agreement was made within one or two days.

When asked if he would still contest if the Congress fielded its nominee from Hoshiarpur, Mr Mattu said would abide by the party’s decision. If party directed him to leave the seat for the Congress, he would so, he said.

He, however, added that he had started the campaigning as the joint candidate of the CPM and the Congress only after a confirmation from Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Mattu held his rally at Nangal and condemned economic policies of the NDA government alleging that these had lead to large-scale unemployment in the country.


Here everyone is praying for Tohra’s well-being
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), March 26
One knows one is in “Pradhanji’s” territory immediately after taking the link road for this village from Rurki village on the Patiala - Sirhind road. The excellent road takes one to Tohra village which looks more like a mini township with a 35-bedded hospital, Senior Secondary School, bank and even a 66-KV grid.

“All this is Pradhanji’s doing”, says Prithpal Singh while talking about Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President Gurcharan Singh Tohra who has been admitted to a hospital in Amritsar. Prithpal, who is the son of Satwinder Singh Tohra, the present Sarpanch of the village, says his father has gone to Amritsar to enquire after Pradhanji, as Tohra is known in the area due to holding the Presidentship of the SGPC for more than quarter of century.

Besides the village Sarpanch, all other eminent citizens and supporters of the SGPC chief have gone to Amritsar. Those who remain keep a watch on news bulletins for Tohra’s health on the radio and television. And it is not only the veteran leader’s supporters and party men who are worried about his health. Even former staunch supporter and SAD district president Rajinder Singh Tohra, who had joined the Congress some months ago, is worried about the condition of the veteran leader. “We are extremely worried and wish him speedy recovery”, he says.

Villagers say the virtual pall of gloom that has descended on the village is due to the image of the veteran Akali on his home turf. “Look there is nothing remarkable about Tohra’s house itself”, says a villager. Others say the non-controversial image of the Akali leader coupled with the fact that he never resorted to personal vendetta against anyone endeared him among people.

Villagers are also thankful to the leader for a large-scale development done in and around the village.

With none from the family currently staying at the house in the village, even the servants are anxious to know about Tohra’s health. Raj, who is living at the residence of the Akali leader along with his family since years, was in a pensive mood today. “Everyone is doing ardas for the well-being of Pradhanji” was all he could say.


Gang that duped BSNL busted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
The gang that defrauded BSNL of Rs 80 lakh has been busted by the local police, which today claimed it was facilitating ISD calls through a base in Dubai that was linked with exchanges established in Chandigarh, Mohali, Ludhiana and Delhi.

The police has recovered Rs 64.43 lakh in cash and seized a passbook showing a balance of Rs 15 lakh from a house in Shadipur West in the Patel Nagar area of Delhi. Charanjit Singh, father of the alleged kingpin of the gang, Mangesh, has been arrested.

Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said that one computer and two mobile phones had also been seized from the residence of Dr Balwinder Singh, a resident of Sector 35-D, Chandigarh, who had absconded.

The police also arrested one person following raids Ludhiana, Mohan Singh. He had recently filed an application for a leased line allegedly so that the gang could operate an illegal continuous conferencing facility.

According to the police officer, the gang had been running 10 or 12-hour long ISD calls for conferencing facility every day. It used a machine which when connected to a computer converted it into a telephone for automatic dialling. According to Mr Rai, once the Dubai office received an Indian phone number, it relayed the information to any one of the three "exchanges" in India. The exchanges, in turn, arranged a conference between the Dubai and Indian parties. This enabled the entire call to be charged to the BSNL mobile.

The SSP claimed BSNL got a whiff of the racket when its officials realised that certain numbers were running for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch. Following this, the police was approached, which, with the help of the telecom authorities, located the places from where the calls were being made.

However, BSNL sources alleged this was not true. They said BSNL authorities reported the case to the police on March 23, when they came to know of the massive bills accumulated against the eight mobile subscribers and came to know the connections had been taken after submission of false addresses. The sources said if BSNL had been monitoring the calls from the mobile numbers, the racket could have been discovered a long time ago.

Meanwhile, the police is also on the look out for one Manmohan Singh Walia, who is working as an Inspector in the Industries Department at Rajpura. This Inspector is responsible for facilitating the award of the connections to the bogus subscribers. The police has seized fake application forms from his house. Sources said the Inspector had already got himself admitted to a hospital.

The police is also likely to take action against Rajpura Junior Telecom Officer Kuldeep Singh, who was responsible for activating the SIM cards of the fake subscribers. It is also conducting raids to nab the kingpin of the gang, Mangesh, and Dr Balwinder Singh.


Cops ‘shielding’ attackers of journalist
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Buckling under pressure from senior officers, the police is yet to arrest the accused involved in the murderous assault on a Malerkotla-based journalist and his younger brother on March 20. The main accused — Youth Congress chief Shakil — was reportedly nabbed the next day but was “ let off on instructions from the top.”

Showing injuries sustained in the assault, at The Tribune office here this evening, victim Mohammad Anwar Mehboob, who works for a vernacular daily, said on March 20 at about 3 pm he and his younger brother, Mohammad Dilshad, were sitting at their shop in Mohalla Loharan, Maler Market, Malerkotla. They had just finished their lunch when Shakil, Munir, Khalid, Ruldu, Nadeem and some unknown persons armed with lathis, knives and other sharp-edged weapons entered the shop and started beating them up.

Anwar alleged that Shakil kicked him mercilessly all the while warning him not to write against the local MLA and her police officer husband. He then put a rope around his neck and dragged him outside the shop. The other assailants ransacked the shop and threw all the goods on the road.

When my younger brother tried to rescue me, Khalid attacked him with knives. He suffered two deep cuts on his left forearm. They rained lathi blows on us and left us presuming dead. The accused also broken all furniture and the showcases before taking away some cash.

Mr Abdul Waheeed Aziz, president of the Malerkotla Working Journalists Union, said they met the SSP following which a case under Sections 307, 452, 324, 323, 427, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered.

Anwar said the main accused Shakil appeared before mediapersons the next day. He was shocked to know the next day that his arrest had not been entered in the police records. All accused are patronised by sitting MLA Razia Sultana and her husband Mohammad Mushtafa, IG, he alleged. They are pressuring the local police not to take any action against the accused and are trying to get the case cancelled, he added.

He said he has written to the DGP for his intervention in the case to provide adequate security to him and family at the earliest. Earlier too, he said, he was attacked by Mohammad Saleem Khilji and his henchmen and his camera was broken by them.

“This was not the first attack on those who stand up to the MLA and her husband. A CBI enquiry is pending against the couple following a murderous attack on the former acting president of the Malerkotla Municipal Council, Mr Kewal Kishan Jindal, in July,” he pointed out.


Rs 400 cr for Amritsar’s development sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
The central and state governments were ignoring the development of Amritsar. Even the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had shown indifferent attitude towards the development of the city, alleged Dr Charanjit Singh Gumrala, president Amritsar Vikas Manch in a press note here yesterday.

Keeping in view of the celebrations in September this year in the city, he urged the central government to release special grant to Rs 400 crore for different projects on the pattern released for Anandpur Sahib. for the planned growth of the city, he added, the Amritsar Development Authority should be constituted on the pattern of the Delhi Development Authority or NOIDA.

He said special funds for world class roads, streetlight, sanitation and sewerage should be released. Direct international flights of Air India and other international airlines should be started from Amritsar to USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong etc.

The manch president alleged that different political leaders visit the holy city for political mileage only. He said the central government was funding various projects in holy cities of Kurukshetra and Varanasi, but it was not doing the same for Amritsar. He said Air India was increasing the number of flights from Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bangalore but it was not starting a single direct flight from Amritsar. He said even the initial project of Rs 125 crore for the up-gradation of Amritsar Airport had been reduced to Rs 80 crore.


MCs not to print transit pass books
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 26
To curb the printing of bogus “ transit pass books” at the municipal council level in the state, the Department of Local Self Government has devised a foolproof system under which the councils will not be allowed to get these pass books printed at their level. Rather the department will assign the job of printing such pass books to the Controller, Printing and Stationery. This was stated by Mr R.L. Kalsia, Director, Local Self Government, here today.

He said more and more complaints of such nature were pouring in and acting on one such complaint, the Vigilance wing of the Local Self Government had unearthed a case of cheating and fraud committed by octroi contractors of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib by issuing fake transit passes and pocketing the entire money collected from vehicle owners.

He said that on the directions of the minister various measures had been taken to check this trend, which had resulted in an increase of income from transit passes to the tune of Rs 50 lakh per week in the state.


MC to function from new bus stand top
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 26
The Kharar bus stand, which is in a bad state at present, will be constructed on a built-operate-transfer basis. The office of the local Municipal Council will be housed on the top of the building.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, at a meeting of the civic body held here today. He said if councillors were interested an improvement trust could be set up in the town. This could help in a planned development of the area.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh told the House that the Punjab Chief Minister had given orders to give the Secretary concerned to give water to Kharar from pipeline that would be laid for Mohali from Kajauli waterworks.

The president of the council, Mr Charanjit Singh, thanked the Deputy Speaker for setting up a Government Model Senior Secondary School in the town. There were only government primary schools in the town so far. The civic body cleared Rs 5 lakh for the senior secondary school.


US move breach of trust, says Raksha Dal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
The Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD) , a party of ex-servicemen led by Col Jagjit Singh Bal (retd) termed the US move to grant Major Non-NATO ally status to Pakistan as a breach of trust with India.

The RRD which is contesting all 13 Lok Sabha seats said a “joint Army, Navy and Air Force exercise” with the USA forces some time ago has exposed our vital, confidential and highly classified “command, control and communication (C-3) systems which could result in security breaches and failures.

“Once our adversary was aware of our C-3 systems it was easier to jam communication and cripple our capabilities as happened in the case of Iraq” he said. He said the central government and defence set-up must take note of the US policies that might prove detrimental to security of the country.


Air Marshal Bhojwani visits IAF station
Tribune News Service

Bhisiana (Bathinda), March 26
Air Marshal S. Bhojwani, Senior Air Staff Officer, Western Command, Indian Air Force (IAF) had an aerial survey of the Air Force station here in a microlight aircraft during his two-day visit on March 24 and March 25.

In a press note here today, Squadron Leader Sudhir Ayachit, Station, PRO, Air Force Station, Bhisiana, said that Air Marshal S. Bhojwani also visited operational units and formations.

He was apprised of the facilities available and tasks performed there.

He added that the Air Marshal evinced interest in the operations of operational equipment. He also appreciated maintenance facilities at the base including the runway lighting system for night operations.

The Air Marshal was received by the base commander Group Captain S. Sukumar.


Demand for corridor to link Kartarpur gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani here today the “Sagat Langah Committee Kartarpur” (corridor committee) urged them to link Kartarpur gurdwara with the peace process and provide visa-less access to the holy shrine connected with the founder of the Sikhism and the second Sikh guru.

The shrine is 2 km from Indo-Pakistan border on the Pakistan’s side of the Ravi. The partition of the country deprived the Sikhs of paying obeisance in this shrine.


Rail blockade planned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Bharti Kisan Union ( Ekta) and Kisan Struggle Committee has decided to jointly block the Amritsar-Ludhiana-Delhi rail track for 24 hours on March 29. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of leaders of these organisations last night.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, General Secretary of the BKU( Ekta), said today that there was resentment among farmers against the Capt Amarinder Singh Government in the state.


Tributes paid to Master Jagir Singh
Our Correspondent

Khadoor Sahib (Tarn Taran), March 26
Rich tributes were paid to Master Jagir Singh former Punjab Minister at his native village today here where a number of party workers and the residents of the area took part.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, described his death a great loss to the party and the area for which he was working hard for the past more than five decades. The CM expressed sympathy with the family of master Jagir Singh.


Ropar fast-track court to be functional from April 7
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 26
A fast-track court will be functional here from April 7. Mr Sukhdev Singh has been appointed Judge of the court on a two-year contract. The recruitment of staff was under process. Sources here said the court would dispose of at least 18 old cases per month.

The setting up of the court has, however, come in for sharp criticism from the District Bar Association. The president of the association, Mr J.P.S. Dher, said the appointment of fast-track court judges on contract would give rise to adhocism in judiciary. It would also affect the dispensation of justice, he said.

Mr Dher also condemned the appointment of retired employees in fast-track courts. He said the appointments of those employees, who had retired and were drawing pensions, in the fast-track courts was unjustified and would block employment opportunities for the youth. The government should make sure that only the young educated youth should be given employment in such courts. This would not only increase the efficiency of the courts but also provide employment to the youth.


Judicial remand for 7 students
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 26
The seven students, who were yesterday arrested for stealing computer hardware, had been remanded in judicial custody, said DSP Jaspal Singh here this afternoon. The students are of plus two class of medical and non-medical streams at Kirpal Sagar Academy, Balachaur, Nawanshahr district. The students told their interrogators that they stole computer hardware for arranging money to procure question papers. The students hail from different districts and belong to good families. They don’t have any criminal antecedents. One of the accused students is yet to be arrested.

The students had stolen computer hardware worth lakhs of rupees from Messers Prabhat Info com and KC Computers at Hargobindnagar on the night of February 21. The car in which the stolen hardwares were kept have also been recovered. 


Farmers visit Gujarat to buy Bt cotton seed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
Trains to Gujarat passing through Punjab have a number of farmers from Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepore districts going to that state for purchasing Bt cotton seed.

Many farmers of the region have been heading to Gujarat daily for bringing Bt cotton seed.

The Punjab government has not given approval for the cultivation of Bt cotton in the state. The farmers, who used the traditional cotton last year, got good cotton crop.

Cultivation of Bt cotton has started catching on as season of sowing cotton had been approaching.

The farmers of the cotton belt of Punjab, who had sown Bt cotton in the past two years, got better yield without attack of bollworm.

Finding the cultivation of Bt cotton better yielding, many farmers of the region, who had been facing American bollworm attack on cotton crop and are under heavy debts, now had started purchasing Bt cotton seed by defying the ban imposed on it by the Punjab government and against recommendations of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the state’s Agriculture Department.

In the past two years, hundreds of acres were brought under Bt cotton cultivation by farmers on their own. Even result in almost all fields, which were under Bt cotton satisfied officials of the state Agriculture Department “unofficially”.

Many farmers of Punjab, which was the once highest cotton-producing state of the country, were being cheated in the name of Bt cotton by traders of Gujarat and other states, who had been supplying them with hybrid and non-recommended seed in the name of Bt cotton seed.

Mr Kattar Singh Jida, President, North India Cotton Growers Association, pointed out that unscrupulous traders would keep on exploiting the farmers if the government did not supply them with certified seed of Bt cotton.

He wanted the Punjab government to clarify stand on the cultivation of Bt cotton in Punjab.

Sources in the state Agriculture Department pointed out that the Punjab government had made arrangements of 13000 quintals of certified seed of hybrid and traditional varieties of cotton, recommended by the PAU against the requirement of 55,000 quintals of certified seed. Acute shortage of certified seed had also been forcing the farmers to Gujarat for the “so-called” Bt cotton seed.

Mr Mangal Singh Sandhu, Joint Director (Cotton), State Agriculture Department, said that the department could not take any action against a farmer, who cultivated Bt cotton. He added that action could be taken against those, who were selling Bt cotton seed in Punjab.

He added that the department had been holding village-level camps educating farmers not to purchase Bt cotton seed and sow only recommended varieties to save the crop from bollworm and for better yield.

Mr Amritpal Singh, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said the Punjab government should come out with a cotton policy on its cultivation, handling of produce, marketing of produce and industrial processing of produce without delay.


Harvester use at night banned
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 26
The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, today banned the harvesting of wheat using harvester combines at night in the district. In a press note issued here today she said harvesting at night had been banned keeping in view the high moisture content in wheat harvested at night and fear of accidents on roads. She also said all arrangements for the procurement of wheat in the district had been completed. Twentysix purchase centres had been formed, she said.


2 jail warders held on charge of cheating
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, March 26
Two jail warders of Bathinda Central Jail have landed themselves in a jail in Faridkot after they were arrested by the local police for allegedly cheating Gurtej Singh, a resident of Bugra village, falling under the Dhuri police station of Sangrur district.

Police sources said the jail warders, Resham Singh and Harbans Singh, were remanded in judicial custody after they were produced before the judicial magistrate yesterday.

The police is making efforts to nab their two other accomplices, Mander Singh and Harbans Singh.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Resham Singh and Harbans Singh, along with their accomplices, cheated Gurtej Singh when they took Rs 1 lakh from him on the pretext of doubling it.

Resham Singh, who had been facing a number of criminal cases, came in Gurtej Singh’s contact in the Sangrur central jail where he was also lodged there in connection with a case registered against him for smuggling of narcotics. After coming out of the jail on bail Resham Singh told Gurtej Singh that he could double money.

Resham Singh and others asked Gurtej Singh to bring Rs 1 lakh to a place located on the Jaitu-Kotkapura road on March 22. Gurtej Singh gave them the money. However, after a few hours, the accused managed to escape, along with the money.

Following a complaint by Gurtej Singh, a case under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC has been registered in the city police station. The money is yet to be recovered.


Two migrant labourers found dead
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 26
The bodies of two migrant labourers were found at the Khanna grain market this morning. While one of the labourers was identified, the identification of the other had not been established.

According to the police, an employee of a commission agent this morning noticed a man lying unconsciouss near a shop. The employee, Pinky, and some other persons tried to revive him but to no avail. The man was identified as Bidhya, a migrant labour, working at a commission agent’s shop. Pinky informed his employer about the death of Bidhya, who informed the police. Meanwhile, the body of another man was found a few metres from this place. He could not be identified. The police took the bodies to Civil Hospital Khanna for post-mortem examination.


Bir Devinder ‘screens’ 30 teachers
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 26
The calling of teachers of government schools today to determine their competence to teach in the English medium at the newly set up Government Model Senior Secondary School here has created a controversy.

Officials in the Punjab Education Department said such an action was a violation of rules. It was also alleged that it amounted to a breach of the model code of conduct for elections.

At least 30 teachers had reached the Civil Rest House, where they were called into a room for “screening” by Punjab Deputy Speaker and Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh and the District Education Officer (Primary) concerned.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that the meeting with teachers was more in the nature of an “interactive session” merely to see whether they would be able to teach in the English medium. The actual posts of teacher in the school would be sanctioned by the Punjab Finance Department after the Budget session of the Assembly. An internal arrangement was being made merely to start the new school from April 1.

Mr J.P. Singh, DEO (Primary), said the meetings were routine at which discussions related to matters like the purchase of furniture and blackboards and renovation of the school building were discussed. He denied that the teachers had been screened.


Set up institutes for folklore studies, say experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Union and state governments should establish Central institutes of folklore studies. This was the unanimous view of the delegates who participated in the three-day session of Indian Folklore Congress which concluded here today. The congress was organised by the School of Punjabi Studies of the Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with Central Institute of Language, Mysore, on the university premises.

The delegates also recommended that adequate funds be made available by the Central and state governments for the study and preservation of folk Heritage and folk knowledge in India as had been done by many governments all over the world. They also opined that immediate steps should be taken to give serious attention to the folklore of weaker sections.

The president of the Indian Folklore Congress, Dr Jawaharlal Handoo, and its general secretary, Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, said the universities, institutions involved in research in social sciences and humanities at the national level should seriously consider to collect, clarify and study folklore and oral traditions of the country. They said discourse was very important in advancing the status of Indian society as a true civil society.

The scholars were also of the unanimous view that the governments should realise that collection and study of oral traditions of India needed to be studied in an institutionalised manner.

Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa and Dr Sukhdev Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, spoke on the architectural tableau of Akhara Braham Buta situated near Sri Harmandar Sahib. Their study delineated active participation of organised popular religion.

More than six research papers were presented on the concluding day of the congress. More than 100 delegates from various parts of India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh took part.


Six more colleges to get accredition
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 26
The quality of education in colleges of the state has improved and several government and private colleges are getting accredition from NAAC. Eleven government colleges have got the accredition and six are likely to get it soon. This was stated by Prof Nisha Sard, DPI Colleges, while talking to mediapersons at MG College here today. She was presiding over the annual prize distribution function of the college.

Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal, read out the annual report. He said M.Com, PG diploma in Journalism and mass communication and insurance would be introduced soon.

Monica Arora, Shilpi Jindal and Saloni Goyal were given the roll of honour. As many as 91 students were presented with college colours, and 24 with special prizes. About 227 students got merit certificates.


Banks fail to meet target of advancing loans
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, today expressed displeasure over the failure of various public sector banks to meet their respective targets of advancing soft loans to the poor under the differential rate of interest (DRI) category.

Mr Sinha, who presided over a function organised in connection with the release of the annual district credit plan for the next financial year here today, directed senior officials of banks to meet their respective targets at the earliest.

Under the DRI category, various banks in the district were supposed to advance loans worth Rs 6,500 each to about 10,000 persons belonging to the poor section of society in 2003-2004, but they had given loans to only 190 applicants.

Mr Sinha, when contacted, said the bank officials had promised him that they would meet their target by the end of May. He added that in the self-employment loan category, the Bathinda district had come up to the fifth position from 17th position last year. He added the banks had also performed well in the dairy development sector. The Kisan Credit Scheme was also doing well, he added.

Earlier, Mr Sinha released the annual district credit plan worth Rs 689.11 crore for 2004-2005. The plan for the next financial year is Rs 93.57 crore more than that of the current financial year.

Mr D.J. Mankad, Deputy General Manager (DGM), State Bank of Patiala (SBOP), was also present on the occasion.

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