P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sikh PM no balm for hurt, says Dhindsa
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The elevation of Dr Manmohan Singh to Prime Minister’s post is not enough to heal the hurt Sikh psyche. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister and a general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal said this here today. Both Mrs Sonia Gandhi and the Congress will have to apologise for Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Dr Manmohan Singh has been picked up for the top political executive position in the country because of his intellect, integrity and character. It may have assuaged the hurt Sikh psyche to an extent.

“The Shiromani Akali Dal has been reiterating that Mrs Sonia Gandhi on behalf of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress will have to apologise for the events of 1984 before the Sikhs,” said Mr Dhindsa.

“We are happy at Dr Manmohan Singh becoming the Prime Minister. The entire nation has big hopes of him. If given a free hand, he will be able to do a lot for the country,” said Mr Dhindsa.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, he said, would soon convene a meeting of its Political Affairs Committee to review the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. He, however, refused to comment on the statement of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta’s observation made yesterday.

“People in Punjab have outrightly rejected the two and a half year-old Congress rule in the state. The one-point agenda of the Capt Amarinder Singh government of bashing both Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders has been rejected by the electors of the state.”

“Capt Amarinder Singh has no moral right to continue in power after most of his party candidates were in the Lok Sabha elections. He must resign,” said Mr Dhindsa.

Mr Dhindsa blamed “over confidence” of the NDA and attempts to marginalise regional parties responsible for the NDA rout in the country.


He is a true Sikh, says Jagir Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 20
Terming Dr Manmohan Singh as a true Sikh with an unflinching faith in its tenets former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Bibi Jagir Kaur has hailed his elevation to the highest office.

In a statement issued here today, Bibi Jagir Kaur said, “Rising above the party politics I hail the exaltation of Dr Manmohan Singh to the office of the Prime Minister, which is an honour to the Sikh community in particular and to Punjab in general. God has sent him an golden opportunity to translate his economic vision into practice to alleviate the misery of the hopeless.

I hope that Dr Manmohan Singh will not ignore the interests of Punjab and is expected to do his best to settle the issues of state as well as of the Sikh community.


Let May 22 be day of thanksgiving: Jathedar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 20
Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, today called upon the Sikh Sangat to celebrate May 22 as ‘shukrana divas’ (thanksgiving day) to mark the swearing in ceremony of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Jathedar Nandgarh, while talking to The Tribune on the telephone said Dr Manmohan Singh achieved the highest executive post of the country by dint of his hard work, and honesty. He said decision to appoint Dr Manmohan Singh as next Prime Minister of the country would give feeling of security to the minorities in the country.

Meanwhile, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a former general secretary of the SGPC, has written a letter to Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, appreciating her for giving a chance to Dr Manmohan Singh to lead the nation. In her one-page letter, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said, “I have been one of the biggest critics of your family because of Operation Blue Star and later massacre of Sikhs in 1984. At that point of time Giani Zail Singh was President of the country and it is an open secret that he was treated with utter contempt by your late husband Rajiv Gandhi. Nominating Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler as candidates for Lok Sabha reinforced my belief about the ill-will your family harbours towards the Sikhs. However, the recent turn of events show you in a new light after you declined the prime ministership which was offered to you on a platter. I am writing this letter because I appreciate your decision of handing over the power to Dr Manmohan Singh. You have certainly gained respect in eyes of my community. Your children are rightly proud of you”.


Minorities safe in India, says Jathedar
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, May 20
Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, said the minorities in the country were secure as Dr Manmohan Singh was going to be the next Prime Minister of India. A new chapter of mutual faith between the minority and majority communities of the country would begin now, he added.

“Minority communities should not think that they are being discriminated against by the majority community. The minorities should bring a change in their attitude and should do their best for the development and progress of the country,” added Jathedar Nandgarh.

The sacrifice made by the majority community for making Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister would be history and it would go a long way in projecting the true picture of “unity in diversity” of India in the world, he added.

He urged Dr Manmohan Singh, to use his influence to stop the insult being hurled on the baptised Sikhs in the embassies of foreign countries situated in India during their interviews for grant of visa.

Jathedar Nandgarh alleged that all embassies had been forcing the baptised Sikhs to remove the sword, one of the mandatory parts of a baptised Sikh as per Sikh tenets before allowing them to enter into the embassy premises.


Soothsayer said so, says PM-designate’s sister

Kapurthala, May 20
The younger sister of Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh today said an astrologer had predicted about 40 years ago that her brother would hold “some top post”.

Ms Amarjit Kaur, who is married to cloth merchant Charanjit Singh Sahni and lives in the Vasant Vihar locality here, told reporters that she came to know about the prediction from her father Gurmukh Singh.

She said the astrologer had also said their parents would not live long to see the glory of Dr Manmohan Singh.

“The entire family became emotional when we heard the news that Manmohan will be India’s next Prime Minister. I, along with my husband had gone to Dehra Dun to attend a family function when we heard the good news,” she said.

Family friends and relatives thronged the residence of Ms Amarjit Kaur to congratulate her over the appointment of Dr Manmohan Singh, popularly called “Papaji” by the family members.

Ms Amarjit Kaur said her brother is a “broadminded” person.

She was also all praise for Ms Gursharan Kaur, wife of Dr Manmohan Singh. — PTI


VC, Registrar congratulate Manmohan
Tribune Reporters & PTI

Amritsar, May 20
Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, on Thursday congratulated Dr Manmohan Singh. Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, Dr P.S. Raikhy, a former member of the Punjab State Disinvestment Commission, and Dr Paramjeet Dhindsa of the Punjab School of Economics also congratulated him.

The Sarb Hind Sangharshi Yodhe Akali Dal’s patron, Mr Gurmej Singh Shahura, and its presidents Mr Ajit Singh Moude, said Dr Manmohan Singh’s an honest and eminent economist and possessed a clean image.

A former Union Minister, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, praised Ms Sonia Gandhi for making the right choice by selecting Dr Manmohan Singh. The Amritsar Printers and Processors Association, headed by Mr Narinder Kumar, praised Ms Sonia Gandhi’s decision to decline the post of prime ministership in the interest of the party and the nation. The Chief Khalsa Diwan sent its congratulations to Dr Manmohan Singh.


Manmohan right choice: lawyers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 20
Senior lawyers and heads of various political organisations in the district have described the elevation of Dr Manmohan Singh to the coveted post of Prime Minister a matter of pride for the countrymen.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Bikramjit Singh Brar, Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, Mr Joginder Singh Brar, Mr Kulwinder Singh Sekhon, Mr Harjit Singh Sekhon, Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhudi, Mr Satish Jain and Mr Atul Gupta, all lawyers, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar and Mr Satish Baghi, president and press secretary of the DCC, respectively, and Mr S.K. Gupta, chairman of the local Improvement Trust, said it would not only instil confidence among minority communities but also prove helpful in strengthening the democratic roots of the country. Terming Dr Manmohan Singh a devoted, selfless and honest personality, they expressed the hope that he would strengthen the economy and check criminalisation of politics and corruption. 


Bir Devinder wants to quit
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
The Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today said he wanted to relinquish the post.

He was addressing a press conference here today. He said as the Deputy Speaker, he had little time for party activities.

Mr Bir Devinder refuted Capt Amarinder’s claim that dissidence was the main reason behind the poor performance of the Congress in the parliamentary elections. He hailed Ms Sonia Gandhi’s decision to name Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

Earlier, while speaking at a seminar organised by the Global Punjab Foundation, the Deputy Speaker said Sikhism needed to be given a global vision.


Reconciliation sought between Cong, Akalis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The All India Shiromani Akali Dal today called for “grand reconciliation” between the Congress and the Sikhs represented by the Akali Dal in “view of the fact that Dr Manmohan Singh was becoming the first ever Sikh Prime Minister of the country.

The Dal was also planning to hold seminars, conventions and meetings of Sikh activists at different places to “create awareness and consciousness among the Sikh masses”.

In a press note, the Dal further asked “all Sikh organisations, factions, groups and opinion makers to strive hard for amending broken bonds of trust”. President Jaswant Singh Mann added that the Dal had already asked for postponing SGPC polls for enabling the voters to participate in fair and free elections after ending hatred.


Punjab AICC member lauds Sonia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
AICC member from Punjab Brahm Mohindra has demanded that the Congress Working Committee should convene a special session of the All-India Congress Committee and unanimously pass a resolution endorsing and applauding the “supreme sacrifice” of Ms Sonia Gandhi for not accepting the post of Prime Minister in national interest.

In a statement, Mr Mohindra said by her action Ms Gandhi has done the country proud and created history. She has not only made the right choice in appointing Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister but also demolished “myths of the fascist BJP’’ and proved that she was ready to serve her motherland and the party.


Hope for refinery project brightens
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery, which has been hanging fire for the past one decade, will be completed at the earliest as Prime Minister designate, Dr Manmohan Singh, was one of the key players who got the project sanctioned for Punjab when the Congress government at the Centre was headed by Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao.

“The oil refinery project, a gift of the then Congress government to Punjab, will be completed by not putting the revenue of Punjab to any disadvantage. With the formation of the Congress government at the Centre, completion of the refinery is not a distant dream,” pointed out Mr Surinder Singla, MLA and Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab.

Mr Singla, known to Dr Manmohan Singh for the past many years, told The Tribune that being a Punjabi, Dr Manmohan Singh was expected to announce a special economic package for the state like that of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to boost its economy.

Though the oil refinery project worth thousands of crores was initiated for Punjab by the then Congress government led by Mr Rao, it was got sanctioned by former Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal from then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who laid its foundation stone on November 13, 1998.

The execution of the refinery project kept on going at a snail’s pace and did not pick up momentum despite the fact that hundreds of crores were spent on the acquisition of land erection of boundary wall and land gradation during Mr Badal’s regime in Punjab. After Capt Amarinder Singh took over as Chief Minister of Punjab, he started disfavouring the project on the basis of loss to the state revenue despite the fact that the Congress party tried to take mileage from the fact that oil refinery was Congress government’s gift to Punjab, in last Assembly elections.

Due to the lack of interest shown by the state Congress government, the execution of the refinery project almost came to a standstill leaving residents of Bathinda and its surrounding districts disappointed. Mr Singla said that he would meet Dr Manmohan Singh to ensure completion of the oil refinery project with the help of Central government. 


Manmohan’s alma mater unkempt
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, May 20
Prime Minister-designate Dr Manmohan Singh’s alma mater Government College here presents an unkempt look.

Dr Singh majored in Economics in 1956 from here and later went on to teach in the college.

The building is dilapidated. The lawns are full of an overgrowth of grass and weeds, and littered with plastic bags and silver oak leaves. The open space in front of the canteen hasn’t been cleaned for days.

The path leading to girls’ hostel has been blocked with a stack of bricks. A huge tree trunk lies amidst a half-completed building in front of the girls’ hostel gate.

The plant nursery corner has become a garbage dump. The open-air-theatre is no longer a venue of cultural events, but a place of unwanted plant growth.

The lecture rooms are full of bird droppings. There is no roll of honours board where Dr Singh, a gold medalist, would have found a place among other meritorious alumni of the college.

Though Dr Singh continued to visit the city even after becoming the Union Finance Minister, nothing changed for his alma mater. Now, people here are hopeful of change.


Aspirations of Sikhs rise
P.P.S. Gill

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The reaction of the Sikh community to the appointment of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister has been on the expected lines. Like the rise of Sensex on his intervention, aspirations and expectations of the Sikh community have also risen.

The SGPC secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, aptly defined the general ‘’reaction and mood’’ of the community to this unexpected development, coming shortly as it does before the anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple on June 3. His word of praise for Ms Sonia Gandhi, as well, is meaningful. If Indira Gandhi chose Giani Zail Singh as the President, ‘bahu’’ appointed Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, which has narrowed the perceived notions and anguish the Sikhs had formed against the Congress after the 1984 events.

The announcement by Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to present a siropa to Dr Manmohan Singh when he would visit the Golden Temple also conveys much more than merely echoing the sentiments of the Sikh.

A Sikh scholar, Dr Kharak Singh, says, ‘’There are no permanent friends and enemies in politics. There are only allies and alliances that make or break with the tide of circumstances and time. Therefore, it is time the Sikh or Akali leadership reviews its political strategies. Sticking to one party like the BJP or terming the Congress as “enemy no.1” of the Sikh and indoctrinating this political ideology to the next generations may not pay in the long run’’. SAD president, Parkash Singh Badal’s felicitation to Dr Manmohan Singh is rather subdued. It follows the beaten path, when he hopes, ‘’destructive policies and politics of confrontation will end, particularly in regard to Punjab’’. There are far more important issues like the Sikh identity and the socio-economic concerns facing them.

The Institute of Sikh Studies president, Mr Gurdev Singh, believes that the elevation of Dr Manmohan Singh has given the Sikhs a new recognition just like the Jews. This should help them carve a niche in the world as the Sikhs had earned the tag of ‘’separatists and terrorists’’ after Operation Bluestar and 9/11 the world over. Dr Manmohan Singh’s presence should also help the world understand the Sikhs better as a community.


PPCC gen secy in fix over Bluestar
Tribune News Service

PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill addresses a press conference in Amritsar on Thursday.
PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill addresses a press conference in Amritsar on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, May 20
Mr Harminder Singh Gill, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today found himself in a difficult situation when asked whether he would participate in the anniversary of Operation Bluestar, as he had been doing.

Following repeated questions by mediapersons, Mr Gill said he would “listen to his conscience.” He, however, added that he would observe the “maryada” of the Congress.

Mr Gill, who had remained behind bars during the “Sikh struggle” in the past, said he had no regrets. However, he said he would now follow the policies of the Congress which was a secular party.

He alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had converted SAD into a “private limited company” where the common workers did not have any say.

Mr Gill said he was forced to desert the All-India Sikh Students Federation and the Akali party like Mr Jagmit Singh Brar and Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who were once senior leaders of the federation.


Govt contractors boycott tenders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
Scores of government contractors in the region are boycotting tenders being floated by the Punjab PWD ( B and R) and protesting against government's failure to increase quarry rates despite a steep hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and wages of labour. The main grouse of the Punjab Contractors Association is that quarry rates have not been revised for the past four years even as the rates of all other items, including diesel and labour, have gone up.

Speaking to TNS, general secretary of the association, Mr Deep Sodhi, alleged that on the contrary the quarry committee slashed these rates by 10 to 25 per cent on April 12. Since these rates had no relevance to the existing market rate and were not workable, they had been forced to declare that they would not accept the tenders. One of the contractors said, `` development work in the state was being affected due to the indifferent attitude of the government towards the contractors.''

Mr Sodhi pointed out that since the last revision in 2000, the rates of diesel had gone up by 30.48 per cent, the wages of labour were up by 22.55 per cent but the rate of sand/ stone dust had not gone up correspondingly. `` We have already boycotted tenders worth Rs 15 crore in the past few days and would continue to do so till the quarry rates were revised''. Giving details, he said majority of the contractors had boycotted tenders worth Rs 15 crore floated last week at Ferozepore ( Rs 4 crore), Amritsar ( 3.5 crore) and Rs 2 crore in Nabha and Barnala, besides a few others. The prevailing situation would leave lakhs of labourers unemployed in the state, besides causing huge losses to the contractors.

A delegation of the association today met Secretary PWD ( B and R), Mr R.S Sandhu, and sought immediate revision of the rates since rates of diesel, labour and other ancillary charges have gone up by 30-35 per cent as a result of inflation. They even told him that this had resulted in deterioration in quality of work and some of them were even comtemplating to shift their business or move to some other state.

Earlier, they had met Chief Engineer PWD ( B and R), Mr T.C Bali, also in this regard. The association members have claimed that both the officers gave them a patient hearing and assured them that a committee would be shortly constituted to work out the revision of rates.


Leprosy patients seek protection of human rights
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The Punjab Human Rights Commission has rushed to the aid of leprosy patients from Muktsar who are facing a greater health risk due to the establishment of an animal dumping ground adjacent to their ashram. Treating the case filed by the patients as most urgent, the commission has asked Director, Health Services, Punjab ,to get the matter enquired at the earliest. It has further been directed that the report be submitted within a month.

For some time now 70 leprosy patients from Nav Jiwan Kusht Ashram near Malout in Muktsar have been facing major health hazards due to noxious stench emanating from the dumping ground for animal carcasses. After failing to get justice from the district administration authorities, the patients, including 10 suffering children, recently moved the Punjab Human Rights Commission, demanding justice in the matter. Incidentally all their representations ,includ8888ing those made to the DC, Muktsar and Chief Minister, Punjab, have gone unanswered.

In their complaint filed under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the leprosy patients stated that large-scale pollution had been caused due to dumping of dead animals in the Ashram’s vicinity. They also said that out of the 70 leprosy patients, some were suffering miserably while some others had been cured. Even the cured ones fall under the ambit of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, and need complete health care, it has been stated.

Adding that their donors had stopped visiting the Ashram due to high levels of pollution in the area, the patients said they had lost all means of livelihood. Forced to live in isolation and pain, they also stated there was no approach road to their ashram. As if this was less to make things difficult for leprosy patients who find it difficult to walk on unmetalled tracks with deformed feet, the district administration had now set up a dumping ground where animal bodies were being disposed of regularly.

It was added that the indifference of the administration was proving costly for most of the patients, who are finding it difficult to feed themselves in the absence of funds from donations. Also they are finding it increasingly difficult to breathe due to polluted air. The case under the Human Rights Act has been filed by Human Rights Law Network on behalf of distressed patients. The patients have also requested the commission to issue a direction for the construction of a road to their ashram.

Accepting the plea immediately, the Punjab Human Rights Commission has directed DHS, Punjab to work in collaboration with the DC, Muktsar and prepare a report on the matter.


Limb centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 20
Mr A. Venu Prasad, Secretary, Mandi Board, Punjab, inaugurated an upgraded high-tech artificial limb centre here today. The centre is set up by the District Red Cross Society with the financial assistance of the Mandi Board at the local government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital.

The prosthetic engineer of the institution has already got the training and the work has begun to meet the requirements of the needy people.

Welcoming the chief guest, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the District Red Cross Society, said it was earlier established with the financial help of Rs 15 lakh from the Mandi Board 12 years ago at the District Red Cross Bhavan. During the stipulated period it had feeded the need of more than, 5500 physically challenged persons free of cost by providing them artificial arms, legs, calipers and cervicle coller at the cost of Rs 1.25 crore. Highlighting more projects being launched for the welfare of the people, the Deputy Commissioner said a multipurpose school for the mentally challenged and visually handicapped children was already under construction.

Mr Prasad said the Mandi Board has formulated a comprehensive plan to repair all roads constructed by it during the years 1997 and 1998 in the rural and urban areas in the state. The process in this connection has almost been finalised and the work on the project was likely to start in the next two months, he added.


Diarrhoea spreads its tentacles
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
Diarrhoea, which gripped Jaitu town and its surrounding areas of Faridkot district, seems to have started spreading its tentacles as about 73 cases were detected in this district in the past four days.

Official sources said these cases had been reported in the Civil Hospitals, government-run dispensaries and health centres in the region. The number of patients suffering from diarrhoea, who are getting treatment at private hospitals, could not be known.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda said about eight patients reported in different government hospitals in the district today. Most of the patients had been reported from those areas which lacked civic amenities, he added.

To deal with the situation, medical teams were sent in such areas. A door-to-door survey was also being carried out the Civil Surgeon said.

The district health authorities had been carrying out raids to check the sale of cut fruits, vegetables and sale of uncertified drinks in the market, Mr Goyal said.


Month-long campaign to issue birth certificates
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 20
A special month-long campaign has been started to issue birth certificates to children. The campaign has been launched for Kharar and Gharuan blocks.

Parents are required to fill out a simple form and hand it over to authorities concerned. For this, they will have to meet executive officers of the municipal councils at Mohali and Kharar and senior medical officers (SMOs) at civil hospitals of both the towns and the SMO, Gharuan block.

Dr S.P. Singla, SMO in charge of the local Civil Hospital, today said certificates would be issued to children born between January 1, 1989 and March 31, 2004 who had still not been issued birth certificates.

He said a meeting was held in this regard by the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, yesterday, which was attended among others by the Civil Surgeon, SMOs, DEOs, etc. He said he would also meet the Kharar SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh, tomorrow.

Dr Singla said certificates would be issued both to children whose birth had been got registered but parents had failed to collect the relevant certificates and children whose birth had not been registered at all. In such cases, a simple form would have to be filled out by parents and the information given in this regard would be processed by various departments. The certificates would be delivered at the doorstep of each applicant.

Dr Singla said birth certificates would also be issued to children whose names had not been properly entered in the records. He has appealed to all those concerned to fill out the relevant forms within 15 days. The certificates would be distributed from July 15 to July 31.

The campaign is part of the nationwide campaign to issue birth certificates.


Move to acquire land kicks up row 
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, May 20
A controversy has arisen over the move of the government to acquire land falling within municipal limits here to build houses for police personnel.

The Punjab Police Housing Corporation plans to construct a residential complex for employees in the area.

According to sources, around 200 acres of land falling in Kharar and Khoonimajra village has been chosen for acquisition for the residential complex. It is learnt that the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, has written to the Kharar SDM to take necessary steps in the matter. The SDM, in turn, has asked revenue officials to do the needful in this regard.

A letter to this effect was received by the Tehsil office here today.

The revenue officials would now furnish the relevant details, including the availability of the land and the cost of the land.

It is learnt that out of the 200 acres of land that the government plans to acquire, 135 acres fall in the Kharar area, while 70 acres fall in the Khoonimajra village. A part of the land is located behind the Government Polytechnic at Khoonimajra and another part towards Kharar, which extends up to the railway line.

The president of the council, Mr Charanjit Singh, said more than 500 houses were on the land, which the government planned to acquire. The residents had constructed these houses after getting due approval from the civic body.

He said he had got an application from certain residents stating that 200 acres of land was being acquired. They feared that if the land was acquired, they would be “uprooted” from the area. They have requested the civic body to pass a resolution against the acquisition and issuance of an NOC in this regard.

Seeing the urgency of the matter, the council has called a special meeting to discuss the issue in the House tomorrow.

It has been mentioned in the agenda that the authorities concerned have collected relevant revenue record and residents suspect that the government may soon issue a notification for acquiring the land.

Besides houses, there are residential colonies in which plots have been purchased by residents. Even the council has carried out development activity, including the provision of roads, water, streetlights, in the area. The acquisition of the land would lead to a financial loss to the civic body, besides harassment of residents.


Guru Granth Sahib anniversary
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 20
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has decided to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib all over the world with the support of the local gurdwara committees of the respective countries .

Mr Narotam Singh Narang, an eminent Sikh leader of Bangkok, has been nominated chairperson of an international committee which would celebrate the anniversary in Thailand. He said the functions would be organised from August 15 . Apart from religious functions, the sangat of Bangkok would publish pictorial multi-lingual literature on Guru Granth Sahib.


Failure to check fire sparks protest
Our Correspondent

Batala, May 20
Traders of the Lakkar Mandi area here staged a dharna in front of the local Municipal Council today. They were protesting against the failure of the authorities concerned in controlling fire at a cloth showroom here last night. The traders alleged that of the three fire engines available with the Municipal Council, only one was in a working condition.

The fire engine was sent to control the fire, but its water tank got empty within five minutes. It had to be sent back to get it refilled twice.


Cops beat up labourer
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
Raju, a migrant labourer working at a dhaba on the Bathinda-Goniana road, was admitted to the Civil Hospital here today with spinal injuries sustained during alleged police torture. According to sources, Raju was picked up on the suspicion of theft and was beaten up by the police. The beating resulted in an injury to his spine. The SSP said if anybody was found guilty, action would follow.


High Court
Pathankot SDM charge-sheeted: govt
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 20
The Punjab Government today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that Pathankot Sub-Divisional Magistrate Puneet Goel has been transferred and charge-sheeted for major penalty for his involvement in the killing of six birds in a forest area sometime back.

This disclosure was made during the course of the hearing in the public interest litigation (PIL) in this regard.

On May 11, the Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice BK Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant had asked the Punjab Chief Secretary what action the government was planning to take against Mr Goel.

The Chief Secretary had informed the court that the SDM and two of his accomplices were arrested from the spot by forest officials and were produced before Mr K.C. Gupta, Civil Judge (Junior Division), Hoshiarpur, at his residence at night. The trio was granted bail by the Judge without waiting for the post-mortem report as well as the ballistic examination of the weapon used in the crime.

Counsel for Punjab Government had also stated that despite the material against him, Mr Goel continued to hold the post of SDM, Pathankot. She had also stated that so far no disciplinary action had been initiated against the accused officer.

Apart from killing the birds, Mr Goel is also accused of having tried to fudge the post- mortem report of the six birds so as to show that they did not die of gunshots but due to strangulation. Today, the Bench was informed that Mr Goel has been posted as Deputy Secretary, PWD.

After being informed about the latest developments in the case, the Bench disposed of the PIL. However, the other writ in the matter was adjourned.

DSPs' selection

The Punjab Government came under heavy fire for having allegedly made a mockery of selection process while making selections of candidates for the post of deputy superintendent of police (DSP).

During the resumed hearing in the writs, including a public interest petition, challenging the selections of wards of prominent persons as DSP, counsel for two of the petitioners, both medallists in sports events, claimed that the selections were mala fide and illegal.

He said that the committee did not have the jurisdiction and power to form the criteria for the selection once the selection process had been initiated. The power to lay down the criteria was vested with the government. He also asserted that the "so-called" criteria was tailor-made to ensure the selection of the children of top government functionaries.

He alleged that the selection process was a clear case of open abuse of its powers by the selection committee to accommodate its favourites. "There was not a single sports expert in the selection panel though the selections were in the sportspersons category," he said.

After hearing counsel for both sides, the Bench comprising Mr Chief Justice B. K. Roy and two other Judges adjourned the case to May 25.


Sabha chief’s plea on bail
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 20
Mr Panna Lal, the president of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha here, has filed an appeal in the court of Additional Sessions Judge against an order of Mr Karnail Singh, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, rejecting his bail application.

The police had arrested six persons, including the Sanatan Dharam Sabha chief, after they were booked under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code.


Seminar on eco-friendly farming
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
The Patiala forest division organised a seminar at Van Chetna Kendra here make people aware of the harmful effects of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Nearly all forest officials of the division took part in the deliberations in which an NGO, Kheti Virasat, also participated.

Mr Karamjit Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, stressed on the need to use farmyard manure, vermicompost and pesticides prepared from neem leaves. Vermipost was already in use in all nurseries of the division, he added. Pesticides derived from neem leaves would be given to farmers in the forthcoming plantation season.


Encroachment bid foiled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 20
Timely action by the Deputy Commissioner has saved government land worth more than Rs 50 lakh from encroachment. The encroachers had engaged at least 50 labourers and pressed into service a JVC machine to encroach upon municipal council land near the district administrative complex. ASI Attar Singh and other police personnel were providing protection to the encroachers.

When residents of the area gathered to protest, they were threatened and manhandled. Some of them went to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner deputed the SDM of Fatehgarh Sahib and the executive officer and the mechanical engineer of the Sirhind municipal council to inspect the site and stop the work, but the officers alleged that the police present there threatened them and forced them to flee. The Deputy Commissioner rushed to the site and directed his security guards to arrest the encroachers. The labourers and encroachers fled, but 10 of them were arrested and handed over to the police.

The construction was dismantled and the municipal council took possession of land. Sources said the encroachers were using the name of Mr S.K. Sinha, Home Secretary, to influence the officers.


2 cops suspended

Phagwara, May 20
Local DSP Jaspal Singh has suspended Head Constable Balwinder Singh and Constable Satnam Singh attached with the police control room on the charge of illegal confining Kulbhushan.

On the complaint of family members of Kulbhushan, Mr Jaspal Singh visited the police post and rescued him.

It was alleged that the suspended policemen rounded up Kulbhushan on May 15 due to personal grudges. — UNI


3 undertrials re-arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 20
The district police has re-arrested three undertrials, including two contract killers involved in a broad daylight murder of an NRI and one involved in a double murder case, who managed to escape from the police custody recently from the court premises on different occasions.

Besides, three of their accomplices, including a woman, who had orchestrated their escape, have also been arrested. In the process, the police also stumbled upon an accused wanted in a murder of a notorious criminal Rajinder Kumar Dulla in Bhargo camp locality last month. The police has recovered four countrymade pistols from the arrested persons.

The district police chief, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, while addressing a press conference here today, said they had received a secret information that a five-member gang of robbers armed with weapons had gathered at a secluded place in Shahkot and were planning to commit a robbery. Subsequently, the police conducted raid but managed to arrest one member of the gang, who was identified as Davinder Singh of Mukerian, while rest of them managed to escape the police dragnet.

The remaining gang members were identified as Harjinder Singh of Rampur village in Nurmahal, Jasbir Singh of Parjian village in Shahkot, Paramjit of Basti Sheikh and Joginder Pal of Bhogpur.

Mr Bhullar further stated that Harjinder and Jasbir were earlier arrested two years back for contract killing of an NRI Joga Singh. But they managed to escape from the police custody with the help of Davinder and Joginder Pal, when they were being taken to a Nakodar court on May 17.

Similarly, Davinder’s third accomplice Paramjit, who had been arrested in a double murder case, managed to escape from the police custody from outside district courts complex on March 5. Later, it was found that Loveleen Sandhu, a girl friend of Paramjit, helped in the escape by using an Ambassador car having a red light atop. All of them later met and decided to form a nexus. Davinder, during preliminary interrogation, revealed that the gang members would assemble at a pre-arranged place at Jawalamukhi in Himachal Pradesh. Accordingly, a trap was laid and remaining four gang members were arrested, while another police party was succeeded in arresting Loveleen Sandhu from Ludhiana. The arrested persons were being produced in the court.


In-laws booked for woman’s death
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 20
Daljit Kaur, wife of Kuldip Singh of Lame village under the Bhulath police station, succumbed to her injuries at the DMC, Ludhiana, yesterday. She was admitted to the hospital on May 18 after being allegedly beaten up by her in-laws.

In a complaint to the Tanda police, her father Tarlochan Singh of Talwandi Dadian said Daljit Kaur had married Kuldip Singh on December 18, 2000, and had two children.

He alleged that her husband Kuldip Singh, grandfather-in-law Surjan Singh, grandmother-in-law Simar Kaur, maternal uncle-in-law Sukhdev Singh and maternal aunt-in-law used to harass and beat up his daughter for more dowry.

He alleged that they mercilessly beat her up and ousted her from the house.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC.


Spurious drugs seized
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 20
A special CBI team today raided a chemist wholesale shop at the Dilkhusha market here and seized spurious drugs.

According to the police, the CBI sleuths, led by the ACP, Mr M.C. Sahni, along with health officials, conducted the raid on the premises of Shivam Pharma. Recently the authorities concerned had cancelled the licence of the firm, but the owner, Deepak Kumar, was allegedly storing and selling drugs.

While the CBI team refused to divulge the details in this regard, sources maintained that a huge quantity of spurious drugs were seized.


Farmer robbed of cash, jewellery
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 20
A group of robbers decamped with cash and jewellery from the residence of a farmer at Dyalpur village near here late last night. They injured two members of the family who tried to resist them.

According to the police, armed robbers barged into house of Paramjit Singh last night and overpowered his brother Gurmukh Singh. Subsequently, they beat up Gurmukh. One of the robbers also beat up Paramjit’s servant, Mohan, to terrorise the family.

Later, they decamped with cash reportedly amounting to Rs 1.35 lakh and gold ornaments. A case has been registered.


Duplicate CDs seized; 2 arrested

Moga, May 20
The police yesterday seized 1,272 duplicate CDs from Bhupesh Kumar of Mittal Electronics and 704 duplicate CDs from Bal Krishan of Sapna Music Centre in the town. The police said it had arrested both the accused under various Sections of the Copy Right Act.

The police had received a complaint that unauthorised representatives of Indian Music Company, New Delhi, and Super Cassettes, Delhi, were selling duplicate CDs and cassettes.

During the interrogation both the accused confessed that they used to sell duplicate CDs in Moga and surrounding areas after buying these from Ludhiana. — PTI


Robbers take away pick-up vehicle
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
In a bizarre incident, four armed persons looted an automobile showroom on the Bathinda-Mansa road of the town last night.

According to information four armed persons, who could not be identified entered the premises of Krishna Automobile by scaling its outer wall. They injured night watchman Kulwant Singh and then tied his hands and legs with rope.

The accused took away a Tata Mobile pick-up vehicle, a coloured television set, a music system and cash.

A case in this connection had been registered.


Paper outside syllabus: students threaten fast
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 20
The students who appeared for the examination of MA/MSc (Mathematics) IInd year’s paper of Differential Geometry, held on April, 20, 2004, conducted by Panjab University, have threatened to go on a fast if the paper was not held again.

Students alleged that more than 80 per cent of paper was not according to the syllabus.

The students were not in favour of being given grace marks. Students of Government College here — viz Jaspal, Gagan, Rajesh, Pankaj, Mansi, Nivedita, Rajni, Aman along with Ludhiana students alleged that the paper was not of MSc-level rather it was outside the syllabus.

The students were worried that even if they are awarded grace marks, they would not be able to fulfil the UGC conditions of eligibility for the post of college lecturer. The students alleged that the paper of Topology and Functional Analysis of April, 30, 2004, also had wrong statements and some questions outside the course. Some statements and symbols were misleading.

Students added they had already sent representation to the President of India for an inquiry.

Students demanded from Vice Chancellor, K. N. Pathak, Controller of Exams, President of India, Governor of Punjab, Chief Minister of Punjab that the paper of Differential Geometry should be re-conducted and in Topology and Functional Analysis paper they should be awarded at least 30 marks of grace. Students threatened to go on a fast.


Fee, exam committees formed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The Punjab Government today constituted two committees — the fee fixation committee and the examination committee, under the Chairmanship of Justice G.R. Majithia.

According to an official spokesman, the fee fixation committee will approve the fee structure of private colleges working under the Departments of Medical Education and Technical Education, while the examination committee will supervise the common entrance test conducted by the Association of Private Colleges.

This committee will have the discretion to permit an institute over 25 years old to hold its own entrance test for filling the management quota.


3 Pbi varsity dons to present papers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
Three members of faculty of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Punjabi University, have been invited to present papers at international seminars.

While Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti has been invited to present a research paper on “Folk religion in Punjab” at the International Conference on Punjabi Culture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, on May 29, Prof Birinder Pal Singh will make a presentation on “Sikh militancy: an appraisal of the economic factor” at the annual conference of the Political Science Association in Winnipeg, Canada, from June 3 to 5 and Prof Bhupinder Singh will present a paper on “Semiotics of Sikh mortuary rites” at the World Conference on Ethnotherapies from October 8 to 10 at Munich University, Germany.


Need to strengthen govt schools stressed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 20
A two-day seminar on “Universalisation of education in Punjab: Status and challenges”, organised by the Department of Education and Community Service, Punjabi University, concluded here today. Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, Registrar, was the chief guest at the valedictory session.

Dr Kanwaljit Singh and Dr Inderjit Kaur in their paper, emphasised that there was an urgent need to strengthen government schools with qualified teachers, who were available in abundance. Village development funds should be linked to panchayats’ performance in enrolment and retentivity in their schools, they said.

Dr Raminder Singh, in his paper on “Quality elementary education for rural Punjab”, stressed that in a modern society, education was as essential as the needs of food, clothing and shelter. Ms Poonam Bansal from Chandigarh pointed out that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, aiming to provide free elementary education to all children by 2010, had a tough task ahead considering that millions of children were not attending school. Dr Khushwinder Kumar emphasised quality improvement in elementary education and paradigm shift in methodology to ensure retention.


Honours school entrance test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 20
The School of Social Sciences, Guru Nanak Dev University, will hold an entrance test for admission to Bachelor in Social Sciences (honours school) on June 7 for various courses. Candidates from any stream with a minimum of 50 per cent marks can apply.

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