P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC disbands presidium
Calcutta not to attend office
Tribune News Service

Amritsar/Anandpur Sahib, May 28
Even as Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary Secretary, SGPC, has decided not to attend office in protest against recent reshuffle in the office, the resentment is brewing among employees loyal to the late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra who have been feeling insecure these days.

Meanwhile, in a significant development, the SGPC executive held today at Anandpur Sahib disbanded the presidium which was formed in the previous meeting on the pretext that it had no legal sanctity in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. The presidium, comprising of Mr Alwinder Paul Singh Pakhoke, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Calcutta and Mr Dilmegh Singh, was formed to take important decisions by evolving consensus. Mr Calcutta admitted that the presidium was constituted on the directive of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Pakhoke, however, said the presidium had an advisory role and he would continue to discuss important matters with his colleagues before taking a final decision.

Loyalists of Tohra boycotted the SGPC executive meeting.

Mr Calcutta, and the SGPC Vice-President, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhor, failed to attend the meeting. This could be the last executive meeting before the SGPC elections. Mr Gurinder Singh Shampura and Mr Gurbaksh Singh Purain, both members of the executive and loyal to the Tohra faction, also failed to attend the meeting.

However, Bibi Kuldeep Kaur and Mr Bhupinder Singh Asand, both SGPC members from the Haryana executive and belonged to the Tohra camp, attended the meeting.

In contrast, almost all members of the Badal camp, excluding Mr Kewal Badal, were present at the meeting. In the absence of Mr Calcutta, the other SGPC Secretary, Mr Dilmegh Singh, chaired the meeting.

Tohra loyalists are apprehensive about the designs of the Badal faction after the demise of their leader. Mr Calcutta took certain transfers ordered recently by the SGPC acting President, Mr Pakhoke, as an attempt to sideline the Tohra loyalists. The appointment of Mr Raghbir Singh as personal assistant to the SGPC President has become a bone of contention between the acting President and Tohra loyalists.

Mr Pakhoke while talking to The Tribune here, however, termed the allegations levelled against him by the Tohra faction as unwarranted. He said the previous SGPC Presidents, including Mr Tohra, had their own men to the post of personal assistant. “By appointing Mr Raghbir Singh I have just followed the tradition of keeping the person of SGPC President’s choice as personal assistant,” he said.

The acting President also denied other allegations of the corruption levelled against him. About the absence of the Tohra men from the meeting, Mr Pakhoke said it was their personal decision.

Meanwhile, the SGPC today decided to promote all permanent employees who performed well in the recently concluded “prakash utsav” of Guru Angad Dev. All ad hoc workers would be given an increase of Rs 150 per month in their pay and daily-wage “langris” an increase of Rs 10 per day. The meeting also passed a resolution giving permission to the jathas to visit Pakistan. The jathas will participate in Shahedi Jor Melas. It also banned the portrayal of martyrs of Sikh holy wars wearing fake beards or wigs in TV serials.

A grant of Rs 20 lakh was cleared for Mata Sunderi Nursing College in Haryana. Provisions were also made for the purchase of imported medical equipment worth crores for Guru Ram Dass Medical College.

A grant of Rs 1 lakh was sanctioned for the Khalsa Education Society, Srinagar. In another resolution, the provision was also made for providing jobs in the SGPC for the Dharmi Faujis.


Badal persuades sants to stay away from SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has managed to persuade a conglomeration of sants that has emerged as a pressure group to abandon its initiative of putting up its own candidates against the SAD nominees for the forthcoming Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) election. The decision of 20 sants to defer the issue reportedly came after the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held a close-door meeting with their nominees and assured them adequate representation in the SGPC.

A sant sammelan was organised at Nirmal Dera, Ber Kalan, about 40 km from here, to take the issue of seeking representation of sants from different deras in the SGPC. While, Mr Badal termed his visit as a pre-election tour, it is understood that he worked out a solution to eradicate opposition to the SAD-supported candidates in the SGPC poll.

Baba Beant Singh, chief of Nirmal Dera, that had convened the sant sammelan attended by around 20 sants from deras across the state, said though the matter had been deferred for the time being, a committee formed for the purpose would take a final decision about the participation of deras in the SGPC poll. All participants were of the unanimous view that the committee formed on the occasion would not be headed by an individual, but by Guru Granth Sahib. No human being should head any committee that deals with the religious matter of Sikhs, the sants unanimously felt.

It was resolved that committee would work for the spreading of teachings of the 10 Sikh gurus among Sikhs. However, the SGPC election was a part of the meeting’s agenda, a spokesperson for the dera maintained. “The meeting was not called to decide the candidature of any person, but to discuss religious matters”, he said. He said those who attended the meeting included Baba Shankra Nand, Baba Nachhatar Singh Kali Kambli wala, Baba Bant Singh Sampri, Baba Panjab Singh Madpur and Baba Iqam Singh Sidhsar Seora Wala, besides others.

Mr Badal visited the dera in the morning while most sants were yet to arrive. According to dera sources, Mr Badal addressed a gathering of party leaders and workers. While thanking them for the success of the party in the just-concluded elections, he said the names of only those leader and workers would be considered for the SGPC poll, who stood by the party and had chances of victory.

The Gurmat Sidhant Parkcharak Sant Samaj has, meanwhile, called upon the Sikh sangat to ensure defeat of all those candidates in the SGPC poll who try and allure voters with narcotics and liquor. Baba Sarabjot Sing Bedi, president of the samaj, conveyed a message to this effect.


DRI cracks whip on duty-evading units
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 28
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is learnt to have summoned the owners of Sheetal Group of Companies (SGC), the manufacturers of blankets, and arrested some other people, including a bank employee after detecting a fraud to the tune of crores of rupees. These people were rounded up last night and their questioning was still going on here, DRI sources revealed.

The SGC, which is based in Jalandhar, in association with several Ludhiana-based companies is alleged to have duped the government of custom duty. It is learnt that the company would get custom exemption on the import of raw material for producing export goods. But later these goods were sold in the domestic market only.

It is learnt that some of the Ludhiana and Amritsar-based units were also colluding with the SGC to facilitate duty evasion. These companies included Brij Spinning, Aanchal Exports, Garg woollen Mills, Ess Kay International, Chirag Exports and Subal Exports. These companies were reportedly importing raw material line acrylic fibre, acrylic toe and acrylic yarn through advance licence. After importing the material, it was sent to SGC for manufacturing. Some of the companies even did not import the material but procured it from the domestic market only. Afterwards the units would evade duties and manufacture blankets and shawls which would be exported for a handsome price.

The DRI officials have arrested an employee of the Punjab National Bank, besides two agents who facilitated in committing the fraud. Besides rounding up people, the DRI officials are learnt to have taken into possession of important documents which may provide further leads and help in detection of more duty evasion.

Last November, the Enforcement Directorate had raided the residential and business premises of Mr Sheetal Vij, the owner of the SGC in connection with some hawala dealings also.

Interrogation was still going on and further seizures are likely to be made in the coming few days, DRI sources said, while claiming that nothing could be disclosed so far to ensure that the investigation is not hampered.

Meanwhile, close on the heels of the exposure of a multi-crore excise duty evasion by a local firm two days ago, the Central Excise and Customs Department today raided another firm, Sambhav Textiles Limited, at the Rahon road following the information about a huge duty evasion by the firm owner.

A team of the department led by Superintendent A.K. Sharma swooped on the Sambhav Textiles today morning and investigated about the accounts. The department sources said several incriminating documents have been found and the duty evasion may run into crores. However, sources in the industry said the raids would not lead to anything as the accounts were well maintained and all duties paid.

The raids are said to be a sequel to the sensational case against the Jalandhar-based business magnate who was arrested by the Directorate Revenue Officials (DRI) from the city yesterday and is being charged of duty evasion to the tune of several crores.

Sources revealed that the commissionerate would release the findings from the raids in Sambhav textiles tomorrow. The raiding party had sealed the gates and no one was allowed to move inside or outside the premises. Mediapersons were not allowed entry and even the photographers were restrained from taking pictures. Sources said the department had launched a crackdown against the duty evasion in the city.


Punjab submits action plan on Johl report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
The Punjab Government has started giving final touches to the strategy for implementation of the Johl Committee report with regard to agricultural diversification in the state. This follows partial approval of the Johl Committee report by the Union Agriculture Ministry.

Dr B.C. Gupta, Financial Commissioner (Development), said that the action plan had been submitted to the Union Agriculture Ministry for approval. At a high-level meeting with the Union Agriculture Ministry on May 5, the state government was asked to prepare an action plan, which was submitted this week.

Various pockets in the state would be selected to replace paddy with other crops such as oilseeds.

After examining the action plan the Union Agriculture Ministry may forward the Johl Committee report to the Union Finance Ministry for clearance before asking the state government to go ahead with its implementation.

Ministry clarifies

A spokesman of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation in a statement faxed to The Tribune has stated that at no stage had the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), of the ministry intimated the Punjab Government or anyone else about the acceptance of the Johl Committee report by the Planning Commission. It has further stated that the DAC in fact, was not aware of the Planning Commission reaction on the report. The spokesman issued the statement reacting to the story that appeared in The Tribune on May 7 under the heading “Planning Commission accepts Johl Report”.

It is pertinent to mention here that news about the acceptance of the Johl report was announced by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to mediapersons at Sunam on May 6.


Pak leader to work for Indian youths’ release
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Pakistan’s only Sikh member of the National Assembly (MNA), Mr Gian Singh, today assured of working hard for the release of Indian youths languishing in jails there across the border.

Mr Gian Singh was presented a list of 62 detained youths belonging to Punjab and Haryana.

After receiving a letter in this regard to Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zaffarula Jamali, Mr Gian Singh said: “As soon as I reach Pakistan, I will work hard for the release of Indian youngsters”. These youths had left the country for reaching Europe but were ditched midway by “unscrupulous” travel agents. They had landed themselves in Pakistani jails following their failure to sneak into Europe through land or sea.

They were subsequently convicted for entering Pakistan without proper travel documents. But despite the completion of their sentences, their repatriation had been held up due to want of documentation.


Inside Babudom
Punjab police among the best, says Sarabjit Singh
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
“The Punjab police, which has been conditioned to meet emergencies and crises, is one of the best forces in the country. Under good leadership it can deliver the desired results,” says Mr Sarabjit Singh, country’s seniormost police officer.

Mr Sarabjit Singh, who will retire on May 31 as Director-General of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, a Central Police Organisation (CPO), considers his stints as Senior Superintendent of Police in Ludhiana in the 70s and three years (1999-2002) as the Punjab police chief as the most memorable periods of his career of over 39 years.

“I have spent two-thirds of my life in police uniform. I joined the Punjab police in the aftermath of the Punjabi Suba movement as an IPS probationer at the age of 21. I was the topper at the Police Academy,” says Mr Sarabjit Singh, who was here last night to attend a farewell party organised in his honour by officers of his parent cadre. The farewell was also for Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, who also retires on May 31 as Director-General of Prisons, Punjab.

“Since then, this force had been giving a good account of itself as it successfully handled the Naxalite movement and also fought terrorism gallantly. All that it needed was proper handling. And it has produced some good leaders,” says Mr Sarabjit Singh, who after retirement plans to take to academics, besides delivering lectures on policing and related subjects at various universities and police training institutes.

“I have been invited to deliver lectures in the UK as well as the USA,” reveals Mr Sarabjit Singh, who has become the third Punjab police officer to head a CPO, the others being Mr J.S. Bawa and Mr Gurbachan Jagat.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sarabjit Singh said he would settle down in Chandigarh.

“I am a member of the Orders, Medal and Ribbon Society of the United Kingdom, as I am very found of collecting medals. I have in my collection a Military Cross, Order of the British Empire and Order of British India, besides several other rare medals, ribbons and orders. Besides, I am also interested in music and would be writing for newspapers and police journals on policing issues,” he says.

Mr Sarabjit Singh firmly believes in the present system of political control over the force. “After all, it is the Chief Minister or the Home Minister who are answerable to the people on law and order. I never faced any problem in my career.” He now hopes to complete his doctorate on a comparative study of police forces of the world, from Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur.

Siddiqui leaves for England

The farewell for Mr Sarabjit Singh and Mr A.P. Bhatnagar had to be advanced as the Punjab DGP, Dr A.A. Siddiqui, was to go abroad today on ex-India leave. Dr Siddiqui will be back in the third week of June. In his absence, Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam, Additional Director-General (Administration), will hold the additional charge.

Dinkar Gupta goes to IB

Mr Dinkar Gupta, an IPS officer of the 1987 batch, has been promoted as Inspector-General of Police. His successor in the post of Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ludhiana Range, is likely to be named in a day or two.

Mr Gupta has been cleared for appointment as Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau, by the Union Government and is expected to take up his new assignment on May 31. His wife, Ms Vini Mahajan, an IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, is currently at the Centre.

Four SPs shifted

The Punjab Government has shifted four Superintendents of Police: Mr Inder Mohan Singh is now SP, Excise and Taxation, Punjab, at Chandigarh; Mr Darshan Singh Mann goes from Faridkot to Sangrur as SP, Headquarters; and Mr Vijay Kumar Sharma and Mr Baljit Singh, both SPs at Faridkot, swap positions.


State of Rivers - III
Beas gets polluted in Himachal Pradesh
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi: The Beas, originating from Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh, gets polluted in “God’s abode” as the state is called, because of release of untreated sewage and sullage of some towns and localities of the Kullu and Kangra valleys.

The meandering and magnificent Beas flows about 500 km in the hill state where it passes by a large number of major towns like Kullu, Manali, Mandi and some towns in the Kangra valley. The river flows about 170 km in Punjab after it enters the state through the Pong Dam and culminates at Harike in Ferozepore district.

Interestingly, since no major town or industrial unit is located on the banks of the Beas in Punjab, its almost entire pollution could be attributed to major towns and some industrial units in Himachal Pradesh. The factories in the state have no facility to treat their sewage, sullage or waste before its final release into the river through channels and drains.

Enquiries with residents of a number of villages situated along the river in Kapurthala and officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board reveal that though the river water starts getting polluted at the point of its origin in Himachal Pradesh, in Punjab its pollution level is much less than that of the Sutlej, for absence of any major city or town along its banks and non-linking of any major seasonal rivulet with it.

The two major seasonal rivulets — Kali Bein and Chitti Bein — though originate from the semi-Shivalik hills in Hoshiarpur district and are most polluted seasonal rivulets of Punjab, carry sewage of towns like Dasuya, Tanda, Bholath, Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Jalandhar, Nakodar, Banga and Phagwara and polluted and toxic industrial waste directly to the Sutlej with which these converge near the Harike barrage which also sees confluence of the Beas and the Sutlej. Talwara, according to Dr Nirmal Singh, head of the Dharat Suhavi organisation, which has launched a crusade to get the Kali Bein rivulet rid of pollution along with Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, is the only town in Punjab whose waste goes into the Beas.

“Apart from Manali, Kullu, Kangra and Dharamsala, untreated sewage of almost many villages and townships in the Kullu and Kangra valleys falls into the Beas through various nullahs. After its entry into Punjab, the pollution level does not record much rise as the river sees its confluence with the Sutlej at Harike where the pollution level shoots up all of a sudden because of a high level pollution in the Sutlej. The Beas is clean compared to the Sutlej,” said Dr Nirmal Singh. The major challenge to maintain the natural flow of the Beas is a large number of encroachments made by farmers on the river bed itself and erosion of even fertile land along its banks, near Baupur Zadid in Kapurthala and in areas of Goindwal Sahib. The Tribune team observed that encroachments were made at Baghwala, Booh, Amritpur Channa and numerous other villages where farmers have even installed tubewells in the river bed. They illegally cultivate wheat, for low water levels of the river during the winter. “About six acres of my land at Bagwala village, near Fatudhinga, has been eroded,” lamented Pushpinder Singh, a young farmer of Talwandi Chaudharian village, near here.

Though Punjab Pollution Control Board officials were silent about the level of pollution in the Beas, a board official at Patiala said all he could divulge was that pollution was comparatively less in the Beas than the Sutlej. Dr Balbir Singh Bhaura, an office-bearer of the Dharat Suhavi, said his organisation was going to start regular monitoring of the pollution level in the Beas shortly.


Malta boat tragedy: mission to file fresh case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 28
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman, Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission at a press conference here today said that Mr U.S. Rawat, Under secretary (Consular), Ministry of External Affairs, India in a letter of May 17, 2004 had informed the Mission that its Advocates Studio Legal Sall Cano & Reale Associato through Ezachia Paolo Reale from Italian town Siracusa had informed that a hearing of their case was held on April 29, 2004 and the Court dismissed the case against EL Hallal Yousaf, Captain of the big ship Yeohan, arrested in this case and was on bail. He fled to France and now the French Government was denying his extradition. He has further informed that now proceedings of the case would go on against Turab Ahmed Sheikh, a Pakistani settled in Malta.

As many as 300 youths were drowned in Malta boat tragedy on December 25, 1996.

Mr Khera said that the mission had decided to file a fresh case against the captain of the ship Youssef El Hallal. The tragedy happened in the International Water and Malta members belong to 14 different countries including Turkey, Cypress, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta and Italy etc. Different laws of the different countries were creating hurdles in our way, he said.

He said that they were also contacting the associations of victim families in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Mr Khera said our delegation would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for taking this issue to the International Forums. The Mission will also approaching him for pulling out remains of 300 youths from the sea bed, which have been located and filmed by the Daily News Paper La-Republicas team and set up a memorial to console the victim families. Mr Khera said that CBI case against 26 travel agents involved in this case from India was followed in the Tis Hazari Courts, New Delhi. He also said that the case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court is likely to be heard on July 27, 2004.


40 nursing students forced to leave hostel
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, May 28
Students of the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College (GGSMC), who have been agitating against the failure of the authorities concerned to nab the intruder who had attacked an inmate of the girls’ hostel on the night of May 21, were shocked today when 40 students of the nursing course were forced to the leave hostel on the hospital premises.

The nursing students, who have been doing internship at the hospital here for the past six months and have been putting up at the hostel, were bundled into a bus and taken to Adesh College of Nursing, Muktsar. They are the students of this college.

The 40 nursing students had joined the agitation launched by the students of the MBBS course of the GGSMC against the incident.

A section of the nursing students while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity alleged that they had been paying the price for joining the agitation launched by the students of the MBBS course. They added that instead of improving security and safety arrangements for the inmates of the different hostels, the authorities concerned had been trying to sabotage the agitation.

The students of the GGSMC, who have decided to take out a candle march today said the agitation would continue till action is taken in this regard.

Mr Nirupma Juneja, Principal, Adesh Nursing College, said nursing students of her college were forced to leave the hostel as the affairs of the same, jointly managed by the medical college authorities and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences had been taken over by the latter now.

She added that earlier the students of Adesh College of Nursing were living in the hostel with the permission of the GGSMC authorities. Now the GGSMC authorities had withdrawn the same permission and the students were being forced to leave.

Ms Raj Rani, Principal, University College of Nursing, Faridkot, said the students of Adesh College of Nursing had been asked to vacate the hostel as it had been taken over by the BFUHS. When asked the reason for this takeover she pointed out that efforts in this connection had been going on for the past four months.

Dr Arun Poori, Deputy Medical Superintendent, GGSMC, refused to make any comment on the issue.


Congress high command looking for Punjab solution
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Facing an enormous task of revitalising the party in Punjab, the All-India Congress Committee may look for troubleshooters to end dissidence and give a fresh look to its organisational set-up in the state before the byelections to three assembly seats are held before the end of the year.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and several other members of his council of Ministers, including his Deputy, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, are in the Union Capital to apprise the party high command of their “respective versions” of the causes of the Punjab debacle.

Even the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who like the Chief Minister is on the hit list of the dissidents, said in Amritsar today that he would submit his report to the party high command about the debacle besides recommending action against those who worked against the party interests.

The party high command is keen to contain dissidence and revitalise all its cells in the state to recapture the pre-2002 assembly election position.

Unlike December last year, this time only senior leaders and some members of the council of Ministers of the state are in Delhi to present their viewpoint to the high Command and suggest ways and means to tackle the crisis.

While the erstwhile dissident camp has started gunning for the chief Minister, saying that all party candidates who lost the Lok Sabha elections blamed the policies and programmes of their own government in the state for their defeat, the ruling faction is out to explain how the dissidents “sabotaged” the election campaign to inflict a heavy defeat on the party.

The chief minister, sources reveal, has even offered an administrative reshuffle besides launching a series of development programmes to win back rural voters. The dissidents are out to convince the high command that unless a mass-based leader is at the helm of affairs in the state, the growing gap between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal would be difficult to fill not only for the assembly byelections but even for the next assembly elections.

The high command finds itself in a piquant situation as some of the senior party functionaries are with either of the groups or have been recently rejected by the electorate of the state.

Sources reveal that the high command was not even averse to changes, if necessary, as it wanted that the rise of the Akalis in the state must be stemmed.

Against a total vote difference of 38,000 which got the party into power two years ago, the trend has been reversed and now the Akalis were up by nearly six lakh votes from almost the same electorate.

The dissidents maintain that they were not trusted, denied important or strategic election duties and the entire election campaign was converted into a Congress vs Badal fight, leading to consolidation of the anti-incumbency factor.


Hanspal prepares report on infighting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 28
Many heads may roll in the Punjab Congress as Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has prepared a comprehensive report about infighting in the state party unit, which led to the defeat of many candidates in the recently held parliamentary elections.

Mr Hanspal, talking to mediapersons here today, admitted that infighting was one of the major reasons for the debacle. He, however, said not forging an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party was the foremost reason for the poor performance of Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha elections .

Replying to a question, Mr Hanspal said the party high command had directed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, not to talk to the media about their feud. He said if anybody in the party would violate the directives of the high command, stern action would be taken against them. He, however, said the party high command was busy in the formation of the Central Government and hence could not analyse the factors which led to the defeat of the party in the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Hanspal said the facility of free power supply to farmers could be restored only after the improvement of the financial condition of the state. He alleged that the Congress government had inherited empty coffers as the previous SAD-BJP government had adopted populist measures.

The PPCC chief said the state government would streamline the working of the Vigilance Bureau so that innocent persons did not face harassment.

Answering another question, Mr Hanspal said there was a need for a speedy trial to dispose of cases pertaining to Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal. He said had the cases of the SAD chief and his son been disposed of within the stipulated time, the voters in Punjab could have decided to reject the Shiromani Akali Dal.


BJP leader quits party
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 28
Mr Amrik Singh, president of the dissolved (Urban) unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has resigned from the primary membership of the party .

Mr Amrik Singh in a letter yesterday to Mr Sanjay Joshi national organising secretary of the party said that he had been ‘punished’ for the hard work done to make the party candidate win election from this seat by a big margin.

Mr Amrik Singh said that he would have resigned earlier but Mr Pandey, in charge, party, Panjab affairs , directed him not to do so.


Conflict between Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi persists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
World Punjabi Conferences may have succeeded in resolving the identity crisis faced by Punjabis across the world, but they have succeeded little in promoting the cause of the Punjabi language. Even after 10 conferences, the conflict between Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi scripts of Punjabi continues to linger.

Pakistani luminaries admit to the existing conflict and express concern about the declining popularity of Punjabi in Pakistan. The younger generation, they say, is not comfortable with the language. They add that viable alternatives need to be worked out to ensure coexistence of the scripts, both of which are significant in the religious context.

While Shahmukhi, the script in which Baba Farid wrote Sufiana verses that form part of Guru Granth Sahib, holds ground in West Punjab, Gurmukhi is the sacred script in East Punjab. The former is revered for its association with the Holy Koran while the latter is respected as the soul of “Sikhi”. No wonder, scholars stress a via media whereby both can together promote Punjabi.

Eminent Pakistan-based Punjabi writers Afzal Randhawa and Saeed Ahmad concur that Punjabi has poor following in Pakistan, which patronises Urdu with all its heart. Enlightened Pakistanis have now joined hands to ensure the revival of Punjabi. Also, more and more Pakistani writers are writing in Punjabi.

Recently, Mr Pervez Ilahi, Chief Minister of the Pakistani Punjab, initiated a move to popularise Gurmukhi Punjabi in the region. For the first time in 57 years, an institute for Punjabi came up in Pakistan. Called the Institute of Punjabi Language and Culture, it will further the purity of Punjabi.

A writer, Saeed Ahmad, is now also using Roman Punjabi. He is the only Pakistani using Roman Punjabi in his works. Here to attend the conference, he says the blame for rejection of Punjabi as a language must go to the electronic media, which primarily uses Urdu. “We have only two Punjabi newspapers in Pakistan. Also, we have very few Punjabi writers.” Ahmad, for his part, has written four books titled “Great Sufi Wisdom”. Each features writings of Sufi saints like Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Mian Mohammad and Waris Shah in Urdu as well as Roman Punjabi.

Dr Asmatullah Zahid, Chairman of the Punjabi Department, Punjab University, West Punjab, however, disagrees with the use of Roman Punjabi to revive Gurmukhi. He feels this would distort the language. “Roman Punjabi will stall the growth of the language. I know it is not easy to teach Gurmukhi in Pakistan, but we are working to defuse the conflict between scripts. We teach Gurmukhi at the MA level. Both India and Pakistan must learn the two scripts to share the literature being written across borders. I also edit a biannual Punjabi research journal called “Khoj”.

Sajjad Anwar, a journalist with the Urdu daily Dawn, demanded the introduction of Punjabi among official SAARC languages. “The British deliberately popularised Shahmukhi among Muslims. They established Fort William College and Aligarh University to promote Urdu and Persian. After the Partition, Pakistan was governed by those who had risen from the ICS ranks. The representation of Punjabis in Pakistan was minimal and Urdu received all the state patronage. Now is the time to promote Shahmukhi in East Punjab and Gurmukhi in West Punjab.”

Having fought dictatorship, poet fights poverty
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
If you have the slightest interest in literature, you would have heard the name Ahmad Salim. If not, it is worth knowing him. He is here in City Beautiful as part of the Pakistani delegation attending the World Punjabi Congress.

Ahmad Salim is a living literary legend, not only in Pakistan but also in India. He is a man who refused to bow before the military establishment led by Gen Yahya Khan, the much feared dictator of Pakistan in the 70s. Though Ahmad Salim had to pay a heavy price, he did not bend.

It was 1971. Pakistan was in political turmoil. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, famed as liberator of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), had won majority in the elections as head of the Awami League. However, Gen Yahya Khan, who had succeeded another dictator Ayub Khan, denied him power in Islamabad. In the last week of March, Mujibur Rahman was arrested in a midnight swoop and put behind bars. That led to a massive upheaval, not only in East Pakistan but also in West Pakistan.

A few days after Rahman’s arrest, Ahmad Salim, who is now settled in Islamabad and works in an NGO, wrote a moving poem: “Sada Jive Bangladesh”. It stunned the military establishment. A poet from West Pakistan had written a poem to support the creation of Bangladesh. His arrest warrant was issued immediately. He was arrested and put in jail for antinational activity. He was sentenced to six-months imprisonment and sent to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. Overnight, he became a hero in the literary world. He also became a household name in this part of India.

While Ahamd Salim was in jail, revolutionary Indian poet Pash wrote a poem as a tribute to his progressive and democratic spirit, titled “Ahmad Salim de Na”. Amrita Pritam and Harbhajan Singh, both famed Punjabi writers, also raised their voice against the arrest.

However, things changed in December 1971. He was freed in January 1972 after the creation of Bangladesh. Later, Ahmad Salim wrote for various Punjabi literary magazines, including Nagmani and Preetlari in India.

In a talk with The Tribune, Ahmad Salim, who has authored 12 books, including two novels, three books of poetry and a biography of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, said: “Then I fought against dictatorship and now I am fighting poverty and illiteracy in my country. I am a social democrat and have been fighting for democracy in Pakistan. I am happy that fundamentalists in my country no more call me a traitor for supporting the peace initiative with India.”

“I have been a vocal supporter of peace between India and Pakistan for long, but a few years ago those who used to talk of friendship were called traitors in Pakistan.”

Ahmad Salim says the peace process should have started decades ago, but it is welcome whenever it takes place. Though late, good sense has prevailed over the ruling classes in both countries, realising that war is not a solution to any problem.


197 recruits pass out of BSF centre
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 28
Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional Director-General, Punjab Armed Police (PAP), took march past salute from 197 recruits at a passing-out parade at the Border Security Force Subsidiary Training Centre, Kharkan, 12 km from here, today.

Mr Bhatti awarded medals to five recruit constables for their outstanding performance in endurance, drill and shooting and being overall first and second during their nine months basic training. Nandish was adjudged the overall best recruit constable.

While elaborating on the training activities conducted at the BSF STC, Mr R.S. Bhullar, DIG, BSF STC, Kharkan, said in all 197 recruits had passed out on the completion of 36-week rigorous training.

In the basic training, subjects like weapon training, physical training, drill, field craft, border problems, border security and surveillance, field engineering, map reading intelligence, internal security duty, jungle training, law and human rights training, etc were taught. He said the passed-out recruits further would be trained for four weeks in a specialised combat training to fight terrorism before they were dispatched to their respective units. Mr Bhullar said every effort had been made to inculcate among these constables the qualities of self confidence, discipline and working under adverse situations, which included harsh climate conditions.

Mr Bhatti spoke high of the BSF and applauded the role of the STC BSF, Kharkan, for maintaining high standards of basic training of recruits. Congratulating the newly passed-out recruits, he advised them to remain fully prepared, both mentally and physically, to eliminate the menace of terrorism, which was posing a serious threat to the security of the country. He cautioned them to be always honest towards their duties and dedicated towards their force and profession.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Mr Bhatti said the Police Act was being framed. After its final approval and later implementation by the state government, appointments of Police Commissioners having powers of the District Magistrate would be made in only those cities of the state which had a population of more than 10 lakh. He said there was no shortage of constables, non-gazetted officers and gazetted officers in the Punjab police now as 1,000 new recruits had recently been appointed as constables.

Referring to sports activities of the PAP, Mr Bhatti said it had more than 50 players of various games, including hockey, basketball, volleyball, athletes etc. of international repute. Seven players of the PAP won gold medals in the World Police Athletic meet held in Spain recently.


Kooka were martyrs: Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 28
Mr H.S. Hanspal, a prominent leader of Namdhari sect and President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today said the freedom movement started by Namdhari Guru Ram Singh, was the movement of entire Sikh community. The martyrs of this movement were the Sikhs and not just Namdharis. He said it was the Britishers who divided our community for their political motives.

Mr Hanspal was delivering his presidential remarks at the two-day national seminar organised by the Namdhari Guru Ram Singh Chair, Guru Nanak Dev University, on the contribution of Namdhari movement in the freedom struggle here today.

He said that Punjabi language would be implemented in Punjab seriously and state government would take all necessary steps for its development. He opined that if the Sikhs had to preach the Sikhism at the global level, they would have to bring out their literature in English, Hindi and other languages in addition to Punjabi. The books being published in Punjabi in the state should also be brought out in English and Hindi.


Bus fare hike on cards
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 28
The State Transport Department has recommended a hike in the bus fares with immediate effect. This was stated by Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), here today.

He said the hike would be to the tune of 8 paise per km. The hike had been necessitated because of an increase in the price of diesel, said Mr Gupta.

The transport department had sent its recommendations to the Cabinet for final nod.

Mr Gupta said 100 new buses were being added to the existing fleet. As many as 10 of these had already been put into operation, while 15 would be added every month during the next six months. These buses would be an improved semi-deluxe version of the existing vehicles.

The PRTC annual deficit, he claimed, had gone down from Rs 10 crore to Rs 7 crore. Mr Gupta further said corrective measures, including the suspension of two General Managers, had been taken to plug the loopholes and revamp the PRTC services.


Animals’ performance in circus banned
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 28
Following objections from the Animal Welfare Board of India, the district administration yesterday banned performance by animals in circus here, on the first day of its show in Nakodar yesterday.

Performance by animals in circus show was suspended in Moga on May 12 when the Board team led by executive member Dr. Sandip Jain found that the circus management was not filing mandatory monthly fitness certificates of animals with the board and local authorities.

The circus, it was learnt, had one hippopotamus eight elephants, seven horses, five dogs and 16 exotic parrots.

Circus shows were stopped, following directions by the Nakodar SDM Mr G.S. Khaira after Dr Sandip Jain complained to the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Mr Ashok Gupta, that the circus was violating provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act-1960 and the Performing Animals Registration Rules 2001.

The SDM was not available for comment, Dr Jain said performance by animals in circus show had been banned.


SMO allays fears on gastroenteritis
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 28
After gripping Jaito and Jalandhar, gastroenteritis has started spreading its tentacles in and around Phagwara. The local SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, held a meeting with various departments, including Health.

Though gastroenteritis cases were being reported in private hospitals and clinics for the past few days, four cases of the disease have also been reported in the local Civil Hospital. The patients are Darshana, her teenaged daughter Harbhajan Kaur, an aged woman, Mohinder Kaur, of the local Santokhpura Mohalla and 12-year-old Amandeep of Panshta village.

Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO, Civil Hospital, today said there was nothing to panic and the four patients were likely to be discharged anytime.

However, as a precautionary measure, five teams of doctors today went to various places, including the local Bhagatpura Mohalla, and visited 700 houses, distributed chlorine tablets and packets of oral rehydration salt. More localities, including Santokhpura, Onkar Nagar and Shivpuri, would be covered, Dr Sharma said. Dr Sharma said a rapid response team of doctors had already been constituted to deal with the disease. Meanwhile, four water samples were taken today by the Health Department.

Meanwhile, the local SDM held a meeting with officials of the Nagar Council, the Improvement Trust, and the Health Department and directed them to ensure proper sanitation, chlorination of water and sprays.


Rajasthan asks PPCB to check water pollution
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 28
The Rajasthan Government has urged the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to check pollution in the Sutlej, which is affecting people of the desert state, who receive water from Indira Gandhi Canal.

In a letter to the PPCB, Mr D.C. Samant, Principal Secretary, Government of Rajasthan, has stated that polluted water, including industrial waste, from Ludhiana city was being discharged into the Sutlej through Buddha Nullah. Similarly, sewer water and industrial waste of Jalandhar, Nakodar and Phagwara were being released into the Kali Bein, a tributary of the Sutlej. This hazardous water was being used for drinking in a vast area of western Rajasthan,” said the letter.

Mr Samant said a decrease in the flow of water in the canal from 9,500 cusecs during the rabi season to around 3,500 cusecs at present had made matters worse.


Substation to be shifted for shopping mall?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar May 28
An electricity substation located in the Lawrence road area is likely to be shifted reportedly under political pressure.

The substation with two transformers is located in the prime area and its land is worth crores of rupees.

The substation was handed over to the PSEB along with the land when the PSEB became an independent department from the municipal corporation some years back.

However, a private party interested to make a multi-storied shopping complex on the land was using political influence to push the substation shifting case and handing over the land to the corporation. Then politician could influence the corporation to sell the land to them, say sources in the PSEB.

The Chief Engineer, Mr R.C. Jaiswal, when contacted, said the case had been sent for approval but there had been no headway in it. It is learnt that the PSEB has also conveyed to the corporation to allot it an alternate place for relocating the substation.


2m birth certificates issued in 2 months
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 28
More than two million birth certificates were issued in Punjab under a national campaign during November-December, 2003.

The campaign was launched by the Office of Registrar-General, India (ORGI). The first phase was launched countrywide in November, 2003. Punjab’s figure is the highest in the country.


File that could not be produced in the HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Pressure tactics were applied to prevent the Sports Department from producing a file dealing with the recruitment of six Deputy Superintendents in the Punjab Police under the sports quota.

A Joint Secretary of the department, who took the file to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was reportedly “snubbed” and asked to take it back as it was not required.

High drama followed the production of that file. Yesterday, the Department of Sports was informed by the office of the Advocate-General that the DSPs recruitment case file might be sent to a Senior Deputy Advocate-General for production in the court on Friday.

The notings in the file, sources reveal, are favourably inclined towards recruitment of genuine sportspresons by following proper procedure and reportedly question the hush-hush manner in which recruitments have been made.

Soon afterwards, the department received a call from one of the Advisers of the Chief Minister that the file “was not to be produced”. Even the administrative secretary and the minister concerned were also conveyed that message.

The minister could not be contacted as he was reportedly away in connection with a family function.

Apprehending a reprimand from the court, the panic-stricken staff of the department reportedly sought intervention of the Chief Minister’s office. The Chief Minister was not available. However, they succeeded in reaching the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and related to him the entire sequence of events.

The Chief Minister, conveyed to the department that “nothing should be held back and the records summoned by the court must be produced”.

After receiving these directions from the Chief Minister’s office, a Joint Secretary was deputed to produce the file in the court where he was asked to come out of the court room, “reprimanded for defying the directions” of one of the Advisers of the Chief Minister and told to remain prepared to face consequences. He was asked to take the file back as it was not to be produced in the court.

The recruitments made in a hurried fashion have been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The arguments in the case concluded today and the judgement has been reserved. Among those facing the petition are the sons of Mr B.I.S. Chahal, A Media Adviser to the Chief Minister, and Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepore.


High Court
Judgement in DSP selections case reserved
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved its judgement in the cases relating to alleged irregularities in the selection of Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP) by the Punjab Government.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice Surya Kant and Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla, gave the government time till tomorrow to submit the record of the Sports Department pertaining to the impugned selections.

Yesterday, the Bench had directed the department to produce the file relating to the selections. Today, counsel for the petitioners also finished their submissions.

Advocate M.P. Goswami, appearing for Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar, one of the petitioners, said as per a communiqué of the Punjab Chief Secretary dated February 10, 2004, all fresh appointments in the state of Punjab were banned. But, on February 13, 2004, the selection committee finalised the impugned selections of DSPs.

After hearing counsel for the petitioners, the Bench reserved the judgement.

Chief Secy to decide on SDM

The Punjab Government on Friday informed the high court that the issue of suspension of former Pathankot Sub-Divisional Magistrate Puneet Goel, allegedly involved in the poaching of birds, was with the Punjab Chief Secretary, who would take the final decision in the matter.

Earlier, during the hearing in the case, counsel for the prime witness in the case claimed that the security provided to his client by the state was inadequate.


Undertrials beat up cop in court premises

Jalandhar, May 28
Two undertrials today allegedly beat up a policeman escorting them in the court premises, where they were brought for hearing.

The incident occurred in the morning when two undertrials, Malkiat Singh Titu and Santokh Singh, facing charges of theft and the NDPS Act, respectively, and lodged at the Central Jail, Jalandhar, reportedly beat up Constable Vijay Kumar, who was escorting them to the court.

The undertrials sought permission from Vijay Kumar to let them go for a cup of tea, which the latter refused. However, after Vijay turned the repeated requests of the undertrials, the latter began thrashing the cop and even tore his uniform, police sources said adding that sensing trouble, other policemen who were also present in the court premises rushed to Vijay’s rescue, who was beaten black and blue by the undertrials by the time.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered against the undertrials for obstructing a 
government employee to discharge his duty and manhandling him, sources added. — PTI


PSEB cashier shot, money looted
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 28
Two robbers today killed a cashier of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) posted at Morinda and fled with Rs 7,78,156 he was carrying.

Police sources available here said that Mr Mohinder Singh, the cashier, along with three other colleagues collected the salary for May of his office employees from the State Bank of Patiala at Kharar today. They brought the cash to the Morinda office located at the Morinda-Kurali turning point in the office Matador.

Two scooter-borne assailants followed the Matador. As it was stopped in front of the PSEB office and the cashier got down carrying the bag one of the assailants pointed a gun at him.

The cashier resisted the attempt of the assailant to snatch the bag at which the robber shot him from point blank range. The cashier died on the spot and the assailants decamped with the cash.

A case has been registered at the Morinda police station.


NBA accredits college
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 28
The Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, has become the first college of Punjab Technical University (PTU) to be accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), constituted by the All-India Council of Technical Education to grade the standard of technical education in the country . Stating this here today, college Principal Dr D.S. Hira and college member secretary Kirpal Singh Libra said the accreditation was dedicated to the efforts of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who had established this college and developed it in 11 years.

Dr Hira said inspection of the college was done by a seven-member NBA team headed by Dr Inderneel Sen from IIS, Banaglore, in February. He said members of the team, who were from IIT’s, checked every part of the college. He said the first day they checked the overall activities of the college and on the second day a department-level inspection was done, in which they checked the laboratories, academic records and other records. He said on the, interacted third day they with the faculty members, supporting staff and students. The NBA gave accreditation to department of electronics and communications, mechanical and computers for three years.

Dr Hira said the team appreciated the campus-wide network, in which all departments, hostels, guest houses, college auditorium and faculty houses were connected through optical fibre. He said good placements of college passouts helped in accreditation. He said the BBSBEC was the first college of the PTU to get accreditation for its four-year B.Tech course. He said this accreditation would help in achieving the goal of becoming an eminent deemed university of technology.

He said now the college could apply for government-sponsored research projects, which would give a fillip to research and development activities of the college. He said the college was accredited by the Institution of Engineers India and certified by the ISO. He said the college was also associated with professional bodies like the Indian Society for Technical Education, the Institution of Engineers India, the Computer Society of India and the Society of Automotive Engineers.


Tejinder does Kharar proud
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 28
Tejinder Singh, a student of Henderson Jubilee Senior Secondary School, has topped in Kharar by securing 89.8 per cent marks in the matriculation examination conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the result of which was declared today. Tejinder got 449 marks out of 500.

This was the first time a student of Henderson school had secured such high marks. All three top positions were bagged by boys this year.

Jaskaran Singh stood second in the school by getting 88.2 per cent marks while the third position went to Ashish Tiwari, who got 85.4 per cent marks.

A jubilant Tejinder Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that he used to study three or four hours each day, but when the examinations approached, he used to increase his study time by two hours. Son of a motor mechanic, who works in Libya, Tejinder had taken tuition classes in mathematics and science because his parents had compelled him to take additional help as many other students of his class were doing so. One could excel without the help of tuition, he added. Mathematics was his favourite subject and the had secured 99 per cent marks in it.

Ravinder Kaur, a student of APJ Public School, stood first in the school by getting 85 per cent marks. The second position was shared by Harneev Kaur and Tarandeep Kaur, each getting 83 per cent marks. This school got affiliated to the CBSE last year.

Amritsar: Divya Singh of DAV Public School here has topped the CBSE Class X examination by securing 96.2 per cent marks in the border districts of Punjab. Divya scored 100 in mathematics and 99 in social studies.

Sharuti of Manav Public School has secured 94 per cent and is third in the district.

Pathankot: Manjot Bhinder of St Joseph’s Convent School has topped the Class X examination in Gurdaspur district by securing 95.4 per cent marks.


Medical institute gets nod to start PG courses
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 28
The Punjab Government had granted permission to the Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences to start postgraduate courses.

The Principal of the institute, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, in a press note issued here today, said the government had allowed PG courses in eight subjects, namely medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, ENT, ophthalmology orthopaedics, anaesthesia and radio diagnosis.

Dr Dhaliwal said the government had also granted permission to increase the number of MBBS seats from 50 to 100.


PTU despatches CET admit cards
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 28
The Punjab Technical University (PTU) has dispatched admit cards to the applicants of CET-2004 examination. Registrar of PTU Dr M.S. Grewal, said here yesterday that the candidates, who had not received the admit card could download it from PTU website www.ptu.ac.in or contact CET-2004 helpline at phone no 0181-2232583 and 2232585 for duplicate admit cards latest by June 1.


Exam postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
The examination for recruitment under the National TB Control Programme, which was to be held here on May 30, has been postponed, according to Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra. Fresh dates will be announced later.

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