P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Celebrations mark PM’s swearing-in ceremony
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The city celebrated the swearing in of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister today.

The celebrations were marked by illumination of the Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir, Hindu College (alma mater of PM) Hall Bazar, Civil Lines area and Majith Mandi where the PM’s father had started his dry fruit business, after Partition.

There was display of fireworks in various parts of the city even as city residents broke into impromptu ‘bhangra’ to the beat of the ‘dhols’ on main roads. Sweets were distributed in Hall Bazar market and the Majith Mandi area. A number of congratulatory banners were put up for the PM.

Representatives of various forums, including industry, trade and other organisations in their messages to the PM hoped that he would focus on the problems of the holy city and would grant special package to improve its infrastructure by making it into a model city.

The Bharti Kisan Union ‘s national president, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, also congratulated the PM and assured him of their support. Meanwhile relatives of the PM also organised a special function.

PHAGWARA: Distribution of sweets and display of fireworks here on Saturday marked the celebrations of the first Punjabi and a Sikh, Dr Manmohan Singh, becoming Prime Minister of India. Sikhs cutting across party lines, celebrated the elevation of a Sikh to the top executive post of the country. Mr Gurbachan Singh Walia, former senior vice-president, Nagar Council, Phagwara, said that bruised Sikh psyche had been embalmed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi who had enthroned Dr Singh on the seat of PM by renouncing the high office. herself. The image of Sikhs all over the world would be refurbished with Dr Singh taking over as PM, added Mr Walia.


Celebrations extend to foreign lands
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in different countries today celebrated the swearing in of Dr Manmohan Singh as the 14th Prime Minister of the country .

Bhai Harbans Lal, a former president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), while talking to TNS from the USA, said Dr Manmohan Singh had been closely associated with the AISSF during his school days in North-West Frontier Province. He said various Hindu and Sikh organisations were celebrating the occasion by distributing sweets and displaying fireworks in different states of America . He added that with the appointment of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, the minorities felt honoured.

Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, an international adviser to Jathedar, Akal Takht, while talking to this correspondent from England, said the appointment of Dr Singh had marked a shift in the position of minorities in India. He hoped that Dr Singh would be instrumental in assuaging the feelings Sikh community.

Mr Narotam Singh Narang, a Sikh leader from Bangkok, said many functions were organised in Thailand to celebrate the swearing-in ceremony of Dr Singh today.

Major Hararinder Singh (retd), a former office secretary of the AISSF, said Mr Calcutta had rightly praised Ms Gandhi as the Sikhs believed in the policy of “forget and forgive”. He said Ms Gandhi deserved appreciation as she had given a chance to Dr Singh, keeping in view his credibility, honesty and merit.

In a letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, president, Bharti Kisan Union, congratulated him on getting the top post. He said it was a matter of pride that a person of a great vision had achieved the post purely on merit.


Punjab unrepresented in Union Cabinet
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Punjab, where the Congress performed poorly in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, has not been given any representation in the Union Council of Ministers, which took oath this evening.

Sources said today that the Congress high command was annoyed with the leaders of the state unit of the party and because of this no one was inducted into the council of ministers which is dominated by the regional parties.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, though belongs to Punjab, has never remained active in the state politics. Earlier, in the morning, reports came from Delhi that, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was defeated by the SAD candidate, Mr Zora Singh, may be inducted into the council.

But, his name did not figure in the list of ministers, who took oath today. In fact, there are at least two senior Congress leaders, Mr Shiv Raj Patil and Mr P.M. Sayeed, who were defeated in this Lok Sabha elections but the Congress high command gave them berth in the council today. That did not happen in case of Punjab at least.

Only two Congress leaders, Mrs Preneet Kaur Patiala and Mr Rana Gurjit Singh (Jalandhar), have been elected for the Lok Sabha in Punjab. Almost all other senior Congress leaders lost the elections. Besides two Lok Sabha members, there are some Rajya Sabha members such as Mr Manohar Singh Gill, former Chief Election Commissioner, and Mr Ashwani Kumar.

The sources said names of Mr Kumar and Mr Gill were also discussed for inclusion in the Council. Mrs Preneet Kaur’s name also cropped up in the discussion. But finally, party high command decided to wait for some more time in case of Punjab.

The Congress high command first wanted to set the house in order. It is well aware of the problems within the organisation. “High command is in a mood to use stick against senior leaders, who let the party down in the state,” said a senior Congress leader in Delhi. Before giving any representation to the state in the Federal Government, the party high command would like to “teach a lesson” to senior Congress leaders who failed to live up to the expectations of all concerned in the party.

Senior leader said Mrs Sonia Gandhi had become very powerful in the party in the past few days and she was now in the capacity to take action against senior leaders of the state. He said from the Council of Ministers formed today it had become clear that Mrs Gandhi gives top priority to her staunch loyalists.

Moreover, three Rajya Sabha slots are to be filled from Punjab soon. And two of these would go to the Congress keeping in view its strength in the state Assembly. After filling two seats of the Rajya Sabha, the high command would think about giving representation to Punjab in the council, he added.

However, another senior leader said not only Punjab but Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and some other states had also got no representation in the council. He said the coalition partners were given preference while forming it. “Compulsions of coalition politics made the Congress ignore its own people,” he said justifying the non-representation to Punjab. “There was fixed quota of ministries for each coalition partner and they used it fully,” he added.


Governance in Punjab still at standstill
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Even after 10 days of the completion of the Lok Sabha elections, the governance in Punjab continues to be at a virtual standstill with the political leadership staying away from the state capital.

After the Council of Ministers last met on March 12, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and other members of the ministry had been out in the field campaigning for the party candidates. Even senior civil servants — 60 of them — were away to different states on election duty.

Though the election results were declared on May 13 and most of the bureaucrats returned and resumed their duties here, the political leadership shifted its headquarters from the field to Delhi where the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance assumed office this afternoon.

As such the work in the Civil Secretariat here has been at a standstill with the number of files awaiting clearance is growing every day.

“There has been no movement of files since February 29 when the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha were announced and the model code of conduct came into effect,” remarked a senior bureaucrat, revealing that the Chief Minister had been holding office in Delhi by summoning senior civil servants there.

Only yesterday, discussions on the Annual Plan and the Budget for the current financial year took place in Delhi. A few days ago, there was a discussion on diversification of agriculture as the Ministry of Agriculture wanted the state to submit an action plan for the implementation of the Johl Committee report. The report was accepted in principle by the Agriculture Ministry this month. Before it is forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for clearance, the state was asked to submit an action plan within 15 days.

Besides the Budget for 2004-2005, the state government has a number of important issues pending for a final decision.

Since the Congress could not do well in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, it will have to work out a strategy for the three assembly byelections to be held this year. The byelections are being caused because of the election to the Lok Sabha of Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala (Ajnala), Mr Avinash Rai Khanna (Garhshankar) and Rana Gurjit Singh (Kapurthala).

The performance of the Congress will again be under a scanner in these byelections. As such a decision by the government on important issues like free supply of power and water to the farmers, development of infrastructure in rural and remote areas and special focus on local issues in these three assembly segments will have to be taken up.

Even before the parliamentary elections, the governance had suffered because of dissidence within the ruling party. For more than two months, the entire ruling party had camped in Delhi.

Though the neighbouring Haryana, where the ruling party also suffered a debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, has already ordered the first administrative reshuffle, no such action has been taken in Punjab. Even some positions which fell vacant during the election period, including those of Financial Commissioner (Cooperation) are yet to be filled.

A final decision on the dates for the Budget session is also to be taken. In July, there are elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from the state, two because of vacancies caused by the completion of terms by the sitting members and the third will be a byelection caused by the death of SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Also high on the agenda of the government will be holding of gurdwara elections in the middle of July.


Bhai Pheru society lauds Sonia’s decision
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 22
A meeting of the Bhai Pheru Sikh Educational Society, Faridkot, was held here today in which members of the society praised AICC president Sonia Gandhi for recognising the services of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Mr Karnail Singh Doad, chairman of the society described Dr Manmohan Singh as an honest and a reputed economist. He also lauded the role of Sonia Gandhi who made a great sacrifice for strengthening the democratic roots of the country.

Assailing communal forces which always engaged to disturb the unity and national integration of the country, Mr Doad criticised the senior leadership of the BJP and the SAD which paid more attention towards safeguarding their own political interests.

He said all educational institutions of the society would be illuminated today to express solidarity with the new prime minister and his party.

Mr Doad appealed to all secular forces to come at one platform and cooperate with Dr Manmohan Singh and his other Cabinet colleagues to make the country prosperous.


SGPC poll: Akali factions team up against Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Rival Akali factions have decided to project a common candidate for the president’s post for the SGPC’s general election, scheduled to be held on July 11, to give a fight to SAD (Badal).

The decision was taken at a meeting held at the ancestral house of Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan at Tanda. among those who attended the in-camera meeting included Mr Jaswant Singh Mann and Mr Bharpur Singh Balbir of All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), Dr Chauhan and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of SAD (Amritsar), Mr Harcharnjit Singh Dhami , working president of the Dal Khalsa, and Dr H.S. Dalgir a former Director of the Sikh Itihas Research Board of the SGPC.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann said consensus had been reached to project SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann as a joint candidate for president of the SGPC. However, Mr Mann had said he would first seek the consensus of his party leaders at the proposed meeting of the party scheduled to be held at Fatehgarh Sahib on May 22 before accepting the offer, he added. The AISAD general secretary said consent from Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna of SAD (New Delhi) had been sought for projecting a common candidate.

There are 170 members to be elected from Punjab , Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh for the General House from 120 constituencies. Of total 170, as many as 30 seats would be reserved for women and 20 seats have been reserved for Scheduled Castes. The crucial meeting of SGPC Executive has been convened at Anandpur Sahib on May 28 to chalk out the programme for contesting the elections.


Justice Eradi for rivers on Union list
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 22
Rivers are a state subject as per the Constitution. In the overall interests of the country, however, these should be removed from the list of state subjects and treated as a Union subject. Justice V. Balakrishna Eradi, who heads the three-member Eradi tribunal, expressed these views while talking to this correspondent here last evening.

Justice Eradi, along with other members of the commission, was on a visit here to Bhakra Dam and the Ropar headworks projects. The Eradi tribunal had been formed in 1986 to solve the river waters dispute between Punjab and Haryana.

The idea floated by a former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, regarding interlinking of major rivers of the country, was revolutionary and should be adopted. However, as per the existing provisions of the Constitution since rivers were a state subject, it would be difficult for any government to implement the proposed project, Justice Eradi said.

He said the final award regarding the river waters distribution between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan would be given within two months. He expressed the hope that the award would not only satisfy the governments but also people of all states.

Justice Eradi said the inspection of various river basins carried out by the commission would help the tribunal adjudge the applications moved by Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan under Section 5 (3) of the Inter-State River Waters Dispute Act.

All states have moved applications before the tribunal, seeking the final award in their favour. While Punjab claims that it has the natural basin of the river, Haryana has staked claim to the waters on the basis of being an erstwhile part of Punjab. Rajasthan is staking claim on the grounds that it had built a huge network of canals in the hope of getting water from Punjab rivers. If water was not released to the state, its entire investment on the canals would go waste.

He said if Punjab provided data regarding the reduction of discharge in rivers, the matter would be taken into consideration while adjudicating the final award. However, the state had not moved any such application before the tribunal, he said.

To a query, Justice Eradi said members of the tribunal had observed that a lot of water from Punjab rivers was not being put to proper use and was flowing to Pakistan. “Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan should conserve water and put it to better use,” he said.


Man intrudes into hostel, tries to kill girl
Chander Parkash & Romesh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, May 22
An unidentified man entered the girls’ hostel of local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College late last night and tried to kill an inmate in her room after bolting the door from inside.

While about 30 students have left for their homes after the incident, other inmates have decided to launch an agitation to lodge their protest against the failure of the authorities in making arrangements for their security.

This is the second incident of its kind in the past two months. Earlier, on March 21, an unidentified man entered the intern hostel of the college and scared an inmate. After that incident, parents took up the matter with the district administration and police authorities to find out a solution of this problem.

Around 1.35 a.m., an unidentified man entered into the girls hostel, went upstairs and entered a room.

The girl was awake when the accused entered her room. When the girl tried to raise the alarm, the accused took out a knife and bolted the door from inside and directed the girl to follow his “diktats”. The girl, showing exemplary courage and presence of mind, resisted all attempts of the accused to kill her.

When the girl fell from her bed and the accused tried to stab her with the knife, the girl managed to catch the knife from its blade and raised the alarm. Within no time, girls from other rooms reached the spot and started knocking the door. Apprehending danger to his life, the accused managed to make a safe exist from the hostel premises despite the fact that two night watchmen were on duty.

While saving herself from the accused, the girl suffered injuries on one of her hands.

After the incident, the girls informed the hostel warden, Dr Hem Lata, who further informed Dr J. S. Dalal, Principal of the college. Dr Dalal called up the police and the injured girl was taken to the hospital.

Dr Dalal alleged that yesterday’s incident had occurred due to fact that the police had failed to arrest another accused that had earlier entered into the interns hostel in March this year. He said the girl had shown extraordinary courage and presence of mind and the college had decided to honour her on Independence Day. The district administration would also be requested to recommend her name for national bravery award.

Dr Dalal said now five watchmen had been deployed in the hostel. A new and additional boundary wall, having significant height, would be constructed around girl hostel and searchlights would also be installed on the hostel premises.

Mr Kulchhinder Singh, SSP, said a case had been registered under Sections 452, 307, 506 and 324 of the IPC and the police would prevent the reoccurrence of such incident. A police post had also been set up in the girls hostel.

When asked why the police failed to arrest the earlier accused that entered into the interns hostel, he said the police had succeeded in establishing the identity of the accused but he managed to save himself from falling into the police trap. He said sketches of the accused, who entered into girls hostel last night, were being prepared.

About nine persons had been rounded up from a locality situated behind the girls hostel. Some other suspected elements were also being questioned.

Girls today took out a protest march in the district administrative complex and raised slogans against the district administration, police authorities and college authorities. Students, both boys and girls, also met the SSP to ask him to make proper arrangements for their security.

The students said they were not satisfied with the assurance given by the SSP, in connection with the security of the inmates and would continue their strike till the accused was arrested. They alleged that though they wanted to talk to the SSP in front of the mediapersons, they were not allowed to do so.


Cong leaders flay Badal’s statement
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 22
Congress leaders have criticised the statement of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, in Chandigarh yesterday describing the Congress as anti-Sikh.

Terming the statement as misleading, biased and politically motivated, they said the Congress had not only safeguarded the interests of Sikhs but also of minority communities.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jaspinder Singh Jakhar and Mr Basant Singh, general secretary and member, disciplinary action committee, PPCC, respectively, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar and Mr Satish Baghi, president and press secretary, DCC, Faridkot, and Mr S.K. Gupta, chairman of the local Improvement Trust, said in the past also, the Congress had given key posts to Sikh.

Appreciating the statement of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, secretary of the SGPC, praising Mrs Sonia Gandhi for paving the way for Dr Manmohan Singh to become Prime Minister, they said Mr Badal should realise the ground realities and cooperate with the Congress in the interests the state.

They urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akak Takht, to prevail upon Akal leaders to rise above party lines.

Meanwhile, 14 Congress councillors here passed a unanimous resolution praising Mrs Sonia Gandhi for according the office of Prime Minister to Dr Manmohan Singh.


Police harassing Akali workers: Ajnala
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP and a senior Akali leader, today alleged that the Majitha and Tarn Taran Police was working on the directions of Congress leaders and had implicated more than 20 Akali workers of these areas in false cases.

He said he had already met Mr A. A. Siddiqi, DGP, in this regard, but nothing tangible had come out so far. He alleged that a DSP in Tarn Taran, who was given extension for a year by a Congress leader, was now working as his ‘agent’.

Talking to mediapersons Dr Ajnala said Mr Lajpat Rai, president of the circle youth wing Khalra), was implicated in a case of carrying an illegal weapon ignoring the fact that he had got a license.

Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, former Chairman of the Punjab Forest Corporation, said many Akali workers had been approaching him with their complaints.


Khanna suspends district BJP units
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 22
Punjab state BJP president, Avinash Rai Khanna has suspended district units of Amritsar (Urban) and Hoshiarpur on the report submitted by the organisational and Parliamentary election in charges of the respective units. Meanwhile, Mr Khanna formed ad hoc committees, headed by Mr Om Parkash Kalia for Amritsar (Urban) and Mr Satpal Sarin for Hoshiarpur, till the regular arrangements were made, said Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary, BJP (Punjab unit), here today.


BSF to shift fencing near Zero Line
Chander Parkash & Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, May 22
In a significant step, which could prove to be a boon for the farmers having land holdings in the pockets bordering Pakistan, the BSF authorities have agreed to shift the fencing erected alongside the Indo-Pak border in Punjab near the Zero Line.

Official sources said the BSF authorities had taken this decision about a week ago for the convenience of those farmers whose agricultural land was situated across the fencing. A delegation of farmers had met the IG, BSF, Punjab Frontiers, at Jalandhar in this connection recently.

“About 12 bulges, where the fencing has been erected deep inside the Indian territory, leaving about 16,000 acres of land across the fencing, had been identified and it has been decided to shift fencing wire in these bulges near to Zero Line so that a large chunk of this land can be taken out from the fenced area,” said a senior official of the BSF, Punjab Frontiers.

The BSF authorities had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence for taking approval from them for starting the work, he added. He said shifting of 1 km fencing wire near the Zero Line from its existing location would cost about Rs 25 lakh. Once the approval was received, the estimates would be prepared and funds would be arranged. The work would be started immediately after the funds were received from the Union Government, he said.

Ever since the fencing wire was erected alongside the Indo-Pak border for checking infiltration in the days of militancy, the farmers whose lands were situated across it and residents of border villages have been facing a number of problems. Due to restrictions imposed by the BSF authorities, for those farmers, whose land falls across the fencing wire, their farms have virtually became out-of-bound areas.

The farmers had also been facing problems on account of the fact that they were being allowed to work in their respective fields situated across the fencing by the BSF authorities for limited hours only. Even they have been finding it difficult in carrying out the sowing and harvesting of crops in time due to BSF restrictions.

The BSF authorities said shifting of fencing near Zero Line would be beneficial for both farmers and the BSF personnel. Now thousands of farmers had been working in their fields situated across the fencing daily and it was very difficult for the BSF personnel to keep surveillance on them. After the fencing wire was shifted near to Zero Line, the land across it would be decreased which would also decrease the number of farmers working across the fencing. This would reduce the pressure on the BSF personnel as they would have to keep surveillance on less number of people.


CPRC helps woman, son reunite
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
The joy of Ms Ramkali, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, knew no bounds when she met her son Lalman, who, she thought, had died, after two years in the town today with the help of the community. Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) set up by the district police.

Lalman, who suddenly disappeared from his house at Tikri village in Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh about two years ago, was found pulling a rickshaw by his mother in the town with the help of three policemen — Mr Gurmail Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Lachhman Singh.

Ms Ramkali came to know about Lalman when the Chattarpur police went to her house for verifying the credentials of Lalman, who had submitted detailed information to the CPRC, Bathinda, under its stranger verification scheme, which was sent to the Chattarpur police for cross-checking.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said the Chattarpur police facilitated a telephonic talk of Ms Ramkali with the in charge of the CPRC, Mr Amritpal, and the next day she reached Bathinda.

She contacted Mr Amritpal, who sent a police team along with her to the area where Lalman was living as per the information submitted by him to the CPRC. However, Lalman had left the residence about two months ago.

Subsequently, a team of three policemen was formed to trace Lalman. After three days, Lalman was found pulling a rickshaw.

The SSP said Lalman had left his house for earning money by working as a mason in Punjab, but could not succeed. He was forced to pull a rickshaw and decided not to return to his native village as he feared he would be condemned.

The SSP said the three policemen who helped in tracing Lalman would be given appreciation certificates along with cash prizes.


SHO accused of torture
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 22
Mr Inderjit Singh (28) of Bhail Dhaiwala village has alleged third degree torture on him by the SHO of the local sadar police station for no fault of his. The victim also alleged that the SHO forced him to eat excreta.

Mr Inderjit Singh, in an attested affidavit produced before newsmen here today, alleged that Mr Naurang Singh, SHO along with his police party on April 25 night took him from his house to the local sadar police station. He was inquired about the whereabouts of his brother Jatinderpal Singh who allegedly ‘kidnapped’ a girl, whom he later married.

Mr Inderjit Singh alleged that he was kept for four days in police custody. He was subjected to third degree torture even in the presence of the brother and the father of the girl. He was also forced to eat excreta.

The victim said he was released only after the intervention of senior citizens of the town.

Inderjit got himself medically examined at the local Civil Hospital on the instructions of the local sub-divisional judicial magistrate. Mr Naurang Singh, SHO, when contacted said he had reached an agreement with Inderjit Singh and the matter was closed.


Seer offers to resolve temple issue
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 22
Badrinath seer Shankaracharaya Sri Madhvasharam Ji Maharaj has offered to mediate for resolving the Ram temple issue of Vaishnav saints of Ram Janambhoomi Ayodhya. He was addressing a press conference at the residence of Mr Pawan Goyal, Chairman, Shri Rahda Krishan Shiv Mandir and Mata Kailashwati Sanskrit Mahavidalaya Dosanjh Kalan here yesterday.

The seer asserted that the Ayodhya issue could only be resolved if leaders stopped playing politics over the issue. He said that the site of the temple should be handed over to the Vaishnav saints. He agreed that the four Shankaracharayas could also jointly play a role to resolve the issue.

The Shankaracharaya demanded scrapping of the Hindu Marriage Act, end of government control over temples and ban on cow-slaughter by a legislation. He alleged that the Hindu Code Bill was at the root cause of perversions that had into Hindu way of life. He brushed aside the suggestion that the scrapping would lead to anarchy and suppression of women. When Muslims had personal law for marriages and family system had not disintegrated, how could the scrapping affect Hindu families if latter solemnised marriages according to their religion and traditions, he asked. Rather every community should be allowed to solemnise marriages according to its religion and traditions and to save the family system and check increasing divorces, remarked Sri Madhvasharam Ji. He agreed with a questioner that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad should keep aloof from politics.

Badrinath seer glorified 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh who had sacrificed his entire family for the protection of “Choti” (tuft) and “janeyu” (sacred thread) symbols of Hindu dharma. He favoured giving up Western culture. He stressed that the Indian Sanskriti of “roti, beti, choti” be saved. The choti had fallen prey to fashion, roti to hotel, the beti to cinema, regretted the seer.

Politics had complicated the Ayodhya issue, stated the Shankaracharya near here.

He demanded a ban on “religious conversions”. He alleged that religion was being misused by politicians.

Shankaracharya also stressed protection of human rights of Hindus.


Diarrhoea tightens its grip
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
Even as the district health authorities have been making relentless efforts to check the spread of diarrhoea in Gidderbaha town of Muktsar district, about eight new patients had been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Apart from it, 15 persons of this town were getting treatment in private hospitals dotting the region.

Eleven persons were admitted to the local Civil Hospital, yesterday.

Jaitu town and its surrounding villages of Faridkot district have also been in the grip of diarrhoea as new patients have been surfacing daily.

Dr Rajinder Singh, officiating Civil Surgeon, Faridkot, said so far 2,008 patients suffering from diarrhoea had been detected by the medical teams after visiting about 30,000 houses in Jaitu town and two villages, Kasam Bhatti and Sur Ghuri.

Apart from it, patients were also being treated at helpline counter set up in Jaitu town. About 39 cases of diarrhoea were reported in the Jaitu hospital today, he said.

Dr Balkar Singh, Senior Medical Officer, Gidderbaha Civil Hospital, said the municipal council had started supplying drinking water by tankers to the residents of Dhanak Mohalla (Thakar Mohalla) from where the patients of diarrhoea had been surfacing since yesterday.

Meanwhile, the district administration, Bathinda, has also initiated a number of measures to check the spread of diarrhoea or any other water-borne disease in the district.


Ex-serviceman feels wronged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
A Gurdaspur-based ex-serviceman has alleged that he has been wronged by the Punjab Government. In a letter to the Chief Justice of India and the Department of Social Justice, Mr Mukhtiar Singh has alleged that while his services were terminated after three years, his co-employees with lower merit were made permanent.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh was recruited as a clerk in the District Election Office, Gurdaspur, in 1989, after the post was advertised. After selection, he was made to sign a letter stating that he was joining purely on a temporary basis even though he was recruited against a vacancy on a permanent post.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh’s representations to the higher authorities were ignored. During his three years of service, many permanent appointments were made.

In May, 1992, his services were terminated despite orders by the Punjab Government that all persons serving on temporary posts for the past two years should be absorbed on permanent basis.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, a graduate, served in the Army for 20 years. He is under pressure, for he is unable to provide proper education to his children.


Latest book on Sikh centenaries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
London-based Punjabi journalist Nirpal Shergill released his latest book dedicated to celebration of Sikh centenaries during 2004, in Patiala yesterday.

The Global Punjab Foundation also organised a seminar on the works of Mr Shergill before the release of his book.

Mr Shergill, who is credited with bringing out a year book on Indians abroad for the past several years, has focused on celebration of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib and 300th anniversary of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

The illustrated book on Sikh centenaries of 2004 not only contains the religious ceremonies to be held in connection with these centenaries but also carries in-depth articles on Guru Angad Dev, Guru Granth Sahib and Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

It also contains information about all the five Takhts of the Sikhs, besides containing a complete directory of Sikh gurdwaras worldwide. It has a special feature on historic gurdwara of Khadoor Sahib in Amritsar.


Alert passer-by averts rail mishap
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 22
A mishap between a DMU train and a auto-rickshaw carrying schoolchildren was averted yesterday due to the alertness of a passer-by. Mr Arun Jain ran towards the train coming from Jalandhar and waved hands to signal the driver to stop after he saw the auto-rickshaw stuck on the railway track.

The incident occurred yesterday when the driver of auto-rickshaw, carrying 14 schoolchildren, tried to cross the railway crossing near Garha road. He was stuck midway after passing the first barrier. The second barrier was put down by the man posted at the crossing. The children raised the alarm on seeing the train approaching them.

Mr Jain saw the situation and started running towards the train. He signalled the driver to stop. The driver of the DMU judged the situation and applied the emergency brakes of the train, which stopped just five metres before the auto-rickshaw.

Meanwhile, senior Railways officials rushed to the spot and ordered an inquiry into the incident.


Punjabi singers enthral audience
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
A galaxy of Punjabi singers, including Shanker Sawhney and Pammi Bai, enthralled residents of this city and its surrounding areas by singing their best numbers at a function organised by various business houses in association with a Punjabi channel here, last night.

The function was organised in connection with the talent hunt campaign by the channel. Six new singers were selected for participating in the function.

Though the renowned comedian Bhotu Shah also entertained the huge gathering with his skits and anecdotes, it was Shanker Sawhney who made the people to dance on his famous songs. Pammi Bai forced people to leave their chairs and dance. Even the policemen were seen busy in enjoying the songs instead of performing their duty.

Ms Amardeep Kaur, a resident of Rajpura and Mr Alam Gir Khan were selected best female and male singers by a panel of judges which included Surinder Chinda, Dolly Guleria, lyricist Shamsher Sandhu and musician Atul Sharma.


Protest held over death of schoolboy
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 22
Irate relatives of Jaspreet(5), who was crushed by a school bus yesterday, along with residents of the nearby Amargarh village, today carried the body of Jaspreet marched towards Parkash Model School, here.

They raised slogans against the Principal, Mrs Parkash Kaur, and blocked traffic on the Rahon road, demanding action against her. The irate mob put off the dharna when the SDM, Mr Kulbir Singh and DSP, Mr S.P. Joshi, reached the site and assured action against the guilty.

Gurpal, driver of the school bus and resident of the nearby Musapur village, has been arrested under Sections 279 and 304 of the IPC


HC to have 13 more judges
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, said here today that both Punjab and Haryana had agreed to get 13 more judges in the high court to raise the strength from 40 to 53.

Talking to newsmen after inaugurating the newly constructed judicial complex built at the cost of Rs 9.66 crore here, Mr Justice Roy hoped that the pending 2.60 lakh cases in the high court would be cleared after the expansion of the Bench.

On the recent mass leave taken by a number of judges, he evaded a direct answer and added that he was not aware of any such problem.

On the slow progress of the establishment of the fast track courts, Mr Justice Roy said it was unfortunate that no motivated judges were coming forward to take up assignments to head such courts. He appealed to judicial officers with a missionary to zeal to work for these courts.

He said that the judges and lawyers were the two sides of the same coin and their coordination was of utmost importance to bring about an improvement in the judicial system.

The Chief Justice stressed that the bar associations should be vigilant for the active disposal of the case and solving the problems of the litigants.

Expressing concern over the increasing expenses for getting justice in the courts, Mr Justice Roy stressed that the free legal aid facilities being provided by the Legal Service Authorities for the needy people should be popularised. Appreciating the constructive role being played by the vigilant media, the Chief Justice said the media must perform its responsibility of the fourth pillar of democracy.

Mr Justice J.S. Khehar, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Administrative Judge of Amritsar Sessions Division, advised the judges and lawyers to serve poor litigants with dedication and spirit of service as it was their hard earnings on which the whole system works.

Referring to the problems of lawyers in respect to their chambers, Mr Justice Khehar appealed them to make contributions for the construction of the chambers.

Mr M.R. Batra, District and Sessions Judge, said with the shifting of the courts in the new judicial complex, the working of the courts in the district would improve.


MC official’s remand extended
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur/Kharar, May 22
A Kharar court today sent Hoshiarpur Municipal Council Executive Officer Gurvinder Goindi Randhawa to a two-day police remand in a case of corruption registered against her by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) at Mohali yesterday.

Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Poonam Ratti has ordered to produce the accused once again before the court on Monday. Randhawa was produced before the court here this evening after the expiry of her one-day police remand. On Friday late night, a court here had sent her to police custody till today after she was arrested by the VB from the Hoshiarpur MC office for allegedly accepting Rs 5,700 as bribe. The public prosecutor, accompanied by VB sleuths, sought a seven-day extension in police remand for the accused on the grounds of further interrogation and investigation.

It was submitted that details about the movable and immovable assets of the accused were yet to ascertained. The prosecution informed the court that some construction contractors working with the Hoshiarpur Municipal Council had approached Randhawa regarding their outstanding bills amounting to over Rs 1 lakh. Randhawa told the contractors that till they paid her 5 per cent commission of the total bill amount, she would not clear their bills. The deal was finally clinched at Rs 5,700.

However, Randhawa was caught red-handed by the VB sleuths, who on prior information were standing outside the MC office, in the presence of two official witnesses. Mr Niranjan Singh, DSP, Vigilance, said she took the amount from municipal contractors Narinder Kumar, Raghubir Kumar Banti, Gurjit Singh and Ashwani Kumar. A mobile given by contractor Ravi Kant was also seized from her possession, he said. A case under Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against Randhawa on the statement of contractor Narinder Kumar.


DC recommends action against MC officials
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 22
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, has written to the SSP to register criminal cases against certain employees of the Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib for failing to present the record related to encroachments on the municipal land to the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Patiala, despite his repeated directions.

He stated this while presiding over a meeting of the District Grievances Committee held at Bachat Bhavan yesterday. He said the Deputy Director had written to him that in spite of his best efforts, officials of the council had not produced the record before him, which was impeding the inquiry into encroachments on government land.

He said a special campaign to remove illegal encroachments from the government land would be initiated from next week and all encroachers had been given one week’s time to remove these or face legal action besides tearing down of the encroachment.

He said it was unfortunate that in various cases, officials connived with encroachers and did not pursue the cases properly. He said it had come to his notice that certain influential persons were misusing the names of higher officials and politicians to influence the officers to get their illegal work done. He urged people to co-operate with the district administration in its fight against social evils and removal of encroachments.

He assured the members of District Grievances Committee of sorting out the problems put forth by them within a stipulated period.

Earlier, Dr Sikandar Singh, Mr Subhash Sood, Mr H.S. Sidhu, Mr Harinder Singh Kang, Mr Natha Singh, and Ms Karamjit Kaur, all members of the committee, raised various public-related issues.


Bureaucrat ‘violates’ court order
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, May 22
The Managing Director of Titan Motors (P) Ltd, an authorised service station of Telco company located in Nabha village along the Chandigarh-Patiala highway, Mr BS Bedi, in a complaint to the Station House Officer (SHO), Dera Bassi, has alleged that Mr Puneet Bhardwaj and his father, Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, a senior bureaucrat of Punjab, has violated court orders.

In his complaint to the SHO, Mr Bedi claimed that a civil judge, senior division, Rajpura, had restrained Mr Puneet Bhardwaj and Mr R.R. Bhardwaj from interfering in the peaceful possession and functioning of the service station in Khasra No 685 and 686 in Nabha village.

In violation of the order, Mr Bedi said the duo and its men were refusing to vacate the area, illegally occupied by them. Moreover, they were stocking building material to carry out further construction on the land, he complained.

He sought police help in getting the land vacated.


Jhuggis on  railway land demolished
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 22
In a campaign against encroachments on railway property, railway employees, along with Central Public Works Department Staff, demolished several jhuggis near the Noormahal Railway Station yesterday. According to reports, more than 50 employees carried out the demolition drive.


Four of robbers’ gang arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 22
The district police claims to have busted an eight-member gang of robbers with the arrest of four of its members.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, stated here yesterday that with this, the police has solved a robbery case wherein Rs 3.16 lakh was looted from a petrol station at Littran village on May 15.

A part of looted money has been recovered and weapons and the vehicle used in crime seized.

He further said that on May 15 night, eight robbers armed with weapons went to Ramji Oil Point at Littran and confined its staff in bathrooms after divesting them of cash worth Rs 16000. Later, they broke open the safe in the office and took away Rs 3 lakh from the safe.

The eight suspects have been identified as Harmesh Lal Bhinda of Chak Khurd village in Nakodar, Didar Singh, Ranjit Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Paramjit Singh, Kulwinder Singh and Sukhwinder Singh Kala, all of them residents of Bajua Khurd in Nakodar, and Harpal Singh of Mullanpur village in Ludhiana.

A trap was laid in which Harmesh, Didar, Ranjit and Harpal were arrested. A sum of Rs 35,000, a sharp-edged weapon and a Ceilo car which was used in the crime, were seized from their possession.


4 booked for dowry death
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 22
The police today booked four persons in connection with a dowry death under Section, 304-B, IPC.

It was learnt this evening that Mrs Amarjit Kaur (24) was allegedly set ablaze by her in-laws at the Bhagana village nearby last night. She was rushed to local Civil Hospital where she succumbed to her burn injuries.

Her father Ram Lubhaya of Hadiabad said that he had married his daughter to Raj Kumar five years ago. He had given adequate dowry to his daughter. However, her in-laws started pestering her for more dowry. He gave Rs 10,000 some time back but a bigger amount was demanded by her in-laws.

The police registered a case against Raj Kumar, husband, Simro mother-in-law, Gurdip, brother-in-law and Savita, sister-in-law, of the deceased.


Naib court arrested, remanded
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 22
The district police yesterday arrested a naib court for allegedly helping two contract killers in fleeing from outside Nakodar court on May 17, where they were scheduled to appear before the court.

Meanwhile, the police has identified a liquor smuggler, who arranged a scooter for the contract killers, to help them flee from the spot. Raids were being conducted to nab him.

According to the police, the naib court, identified as Parminder Singh, rang up Bhinda, an accomplice of contract killers, Harjinder Singh and Jasvir Singh Jassa, on May 17, when the duo was scheduled to appear before the court. During inquiry of the incident, it was found that Bhinda came on a scooter and Parminder Singh deliberately allowed the murder accused to escape with the help of Bhinda.

Parminder Singh was arrested and was produced in the court, which remanded him in judicial custody.


Man dead, girl hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
A local youth, Arun Kumar, was crushed to death and his minor daughter suffered multiple serious injuries when a speeding truck collided with their motor cycle near the Tinkoni area of this city this morning.

The girl was shifted to a Ludhiana hospital.


Cop booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 22
A Panjab Police constable Puran Singh of Bhai Ladhu village has been booked for cheating lakhs of rupees from a large number of youths on the pretext of getting them jobs.

Police sources said here today that a case under Sections 420,506,120B had been registered against the said constable. The police said that the case had been registered on the complaint of Sawarn Singh of Khemkaran village who had alleged that Puran Singh demanded Rs 1 lakh from him to get a job in the Police Department. He took Rs 50,000 from him in advance but so for neither he had been given a job nor the money had been returned by Puran Singh.


Man’s body found hanging from tree
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
Panic gripped the Maqboolpura area, also known as the locality of widows, where an unidentified man’s body was found hanging from a tree here today.

Some local residents found the body hanging from the tree early morning. They informed the police. The body has been sent for a post-mortem and a case registered under Section 172 of the CrPC at Maqboolpura police post here.


Conference on RTCS-2004 concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 22
The two-day national conference on RTCS (recent trends in control systems) — 2004 concluded at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, here today. The Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering of the college organised the conference.

Dr B.S. Sohi, Director, Panjab University College of Engineering, Chandigarh, was the chief guest on the inaugural function while Dr J.S. Dhillon, Head, Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering Department, SLIET, Longowal, was guest of honour.

Addressing the conference, Dr Sohi said the field of control engineering was very vast and included all engineering branches but India was still on the path of development in control systems. He released the proceedings of the conference, which was edited by Mr Gurdarshan Singh Tiwana.

Dr J.S. Dhillon said automated control systems had influence the mankind as today in industry many processes were controlled automatically and there was no more need of humans to control the machinery.

College Principal Dr D.S. Hira said the objective of the conference was to present an overview of the recent technological developments and ongoing research in the field of control systems and help foster increased interaction among academic, engineering and business communities.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Chairman, and Ms Gurmeet Kaur, convener of the conference, said 94 papers were received from participants from all over the country.

Mr Satbir Singh Sehgal and Mr Hitesh Shah of the IIT, Roorkee, Mr S.S. Gokhale of the YCCE, Nagpur, Prof G.V.K.R. Sastry of the College of Engineering, Visakhapatnam (AP), Mr Munish Rattan of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, Mr Sanjay Gairola of the KIET, Ghaziabad (UP), Mr Charanpreet Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Mr Mukesh Pruthi of Rayat Nawanshahr, Ms Nishu Bansal of the IET, Bhadal, Ms Harsimrat Kaur of SLIET, Longowal, Prof Gurmeet Kaur, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, Ms Rajni Bala, Mr Gurdarshan Singh Tiwana, Mr Jagtar Singh, Mr Tripatjot Singh, Ms Sarbpreet Kaur, Ms Rajpreet Kaur, Neetu Kainth of BBSBE College, Fatehgarh Sahib also presented their papers.


Government schools perform poorly in middle exams
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 22
As per the declaration of result of middle class by Punjab School Education Board, the district recorded 72.5 per cent result. As many as 8929 students belonging to 176 schools in the district appeared in the middle exams and out of these 6673 students were successful.

Only four students from the district succeeded in getting a place in the merit list declared by the board of 506 students. Out of these four students, two students — Sameeksha and Rupinder Kaur — belong to Holy Heart Public School, Bassi Pathana; Muskan from SNAS Model School, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Sukhpreet Singh from Baba Dyal Puri Sr. Sec. School, Sirhind. The private schools recorded 80 per cent pass percentage whereas government schools recorded 62 per cent. Nine schools of the district recorded 100 per cent results, which include — government middle school, Behrampuri, Baba Biram Dass DAV School, Chanarthal; Guru Hargobind Khalsa Public School, Hansali; SGTB Public School, Naraingarh Brass, Government High School, Rurkee; Rana Munshi Ram Sarv Hitkati Vidya Mandir, Sirhind; Saheed Bhagat Singh School, Turan, GRSD School, Mandi Gobindgarh and Holy Heart Public School, Bassi Pathana.

As many as 2227 students have been promoted and there is one school Govt. Model School, Thikriwal, where none of the 23 students appeared in exams passed clearly and the result remained 0 per cent. The result of five schools was recorded only 10 per cent, these schools include Govt. School, Lakhanpur where 1 student passed clearly out of 26, at Sadhugarh Govt. School 4 passed out of 74, in Dadu Majra Govt. School 3 out of 48, in Rampur Nadiali 1 out of 24, in Saheedgarh 2 out of 38 could pass clearly. At Govt. High School Chuni Kalan, which falls in the constituency of Mr Bir Devinder Singh (he had been taking interest in promoting cause of education) only 21 out of 84 students could pass clearly.


School where only 3 cleared middle exam
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 22
Only three of the 31 students of Government Middle School, Gandla Lahiri, in this subdivision, have managed to pass the middle standard examination of the Punjab School Education Board.

The three successful students could also manage only pass marks.

Mr Anchal Singh, Sarpanch of the village, blamed the Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behal, for the poor performance of the students in the examination. He said the minister turned down the request of the village panchayat for appointing more teachers in the school. He said there were 170 primary students in the school and only four teachers for them while the middle classes had 126 students and only one regular teacher for them.

Besides, there was one teacher on deputation, but most of the time he was not available as he had to visit other schools for teaching.

Mr Anchal Singh said primary schools at Soli-Bholi, Kalari, Bhajura and Chotepur villages also had only one teacher each.

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