P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s descendent honoured in Pakistan
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 5It is perhaps for the first time that a descendant of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was honored in Pakistan.

Mr Beant Singh Sandhawalia (78), who went to Pakistan after 49 years, was bestowed this rare honour during a pilgrimage by a Sikh jatha to Pakistan on the 165th death anniversary of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh that concluded a few days ago .

The death anniversary was observed in Lahore at the ‘samadh’ of the Maharaja there on June 29 . Mr Sham Singh, co-Chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, awarded a shawl as ‘siropa’ along with a set of publications and a framed photograph of ‘Janam Asthan’ Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to Mr Sandhawalia, who wept while receiving the honour. Talking to The Tribune Mr Sandhawalia said, “I had the earnest desire to see the ancestral house in Lahore of Princess Bamba, daughter of Maharaja Dalip Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh .''

Mr Beant Singh said he was most delighted to see Mr Fakir Safuddin also present during the ceremony to honour him. Mr Fakir is a direct descendant of Fakir Nur-u-Din,one of the ‘darbaris’ of Maharja Ranjit Singh. Mr Sukhdev Singh Sadhawalia explained that even the name of Mr Beant Singh’s grandfather was recorded in the pedigree table of the Chanderbansi family of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Shahi Killa, Lahore, in Princess Bamba’s collections museum.

According to the table, Maharaja Salwan is recorded as the first generation of the Maharaja. The table shows Maharaja Ranjit Singh as the 31st generation and Mr Gurdit Singh Sandhawalia is recorded as the 33rd generation of the Maharaja. Mr Gurdit Singh is the grandfather of Mr Beant Singh Sandhawalia , explained his son.

Mr Beant never went back to Lahore after his last two visits in 1955 (when one could go to Pakistan with special permits) . He was 29 then and had gone twice in the same year to meet Princess Bamba, who had been struck with paralysis.

Explaining his discomfiture to go to Lahore even this time, he described the scene there in the following words, “ The Partition holocaust was still fresh at the time and some miscreants indulged in sloganeering against me in the bus in which I was travelling to Lahore . I was shaken. Some teased and some leered and showered abuses at me. It was very humiliating. Therefore, I could not gather the courage to go back the next year even though Princess Bamba was immobile and needed help. She died a year later in 1957, and I regret I was not there at the time”.

Mr Beant Singh also visited the ancestral houses of the princess, including the ‘shahi kothi’ with the address of 104, Model Town, and one at Gulzar Model Town ,both in Lahore. “I wanted to merely see the ‘kothis’ from outside. I did not want to see the changes inside as there were glamorous memories embedded in my mind years ago. Also, there were painful memories of the pain of the princess as only her eyes could convey her feelings during her last years.''


SGPC poll a ‘dharam yudh’, says Baba Bedi
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 5
Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president of the Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj and chief patron of the Panthic Morcha, said here today that the SGPC elections were a “dharam yudh” to cleanse the gurdwaras of maladministration and restore the “maryada” of the Sikh religion.

He said the elections should be a purely religious affair and no politics should be involved. “Sikhs should throw out the anti-Sikh forces working at the instance of the RSS. The politicians should also be thrown out,” he said.

Talking to this correspondent he said the Panthic Morcha was committed to restoring the supremacy of Akal Takht and its autonomy. It would also set up a separate secretariat for Akal Takht.

Alleging large-scale corruption in the SGPC, Baba Bedi said SAD president Parkash Singh Badal was helping committee officials who had not paid lakhs of rupees to the educational institutions being run with the money received as offerings at gurdwaras. He alleged that Mr Badal had got them “no-dues certificates” from the SGPC offices.

Baba Bedi said the annual income of the SGPC was not Rs 200 crore but Rs 800 crore. A theft of Rs 600 crore was taking place in the SGPC funds. “We are collecting data about all such doings and will soon expose those responsible,” he added.

He demanded that renowned economists should look after the accounts of the SGPC.

Baba Bedi claimed that more than 90 per cent of the candidates of the Panthic Morcha were staunch Sikhs whereas a large number of candidates put up by Mr Badal were “patit” Sikhs.


Dal Khalsa, SAD workers clash, 8 hurt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 5
At least eight persons of two rival groups, including two independent candidates, Mr Kuljit Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh, were injured when supporters of Mr Swinder Singh Kot Khalsa, a candidate of the Radical Dal Khalsa, and Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, a candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal who is also convener of Akal Purkh ki Fauj, clashed near Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

The Dal Khalsa has fielded its candidates in the SGPC elections for the first time.

In the free-for-all on the GT Road, swords were used and stones were pelted.

However, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP (City), denied anybody was injured in the clash. He said only turbans of supporters of the two groups were removed. The police was finding it difficult to lodge an FIR as nobody had come forward to record a statement. Supporters of Mr Advocate alleged that the police was favouring the Dal Khalsa candidate at the behest of the state government.

The incident followed the tearing of each other’s posters by the rival groups. Mr Kanwarpal Singh Bittu, secretary-general of the Dal Khalsa, alleged that Mr Jagir Singh of his party was attacked near the university when he was pasting posters on the walls. On the other hand, Mr Advocate alleged that his supporters were attacked without any provocation and severely beaten up. 
Then had to save their lives by entering nearby buildings, he added.

Mr Balwinder Singh Jaura, a supporter of Mr Advocate, alleged that the police remained a mute spectator as the activists of the SAD were attacked.

However, Mr Swinder Singh Kot Khalsa, a candidate of the Dal Khalsa, alleged that the SAD activists bundled one of his supporters into a vehicle, which was the cause of the clash.


Panthic Morcha Cong proxy, says Badal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 5
If the power crisis continues farmers in Punjab will have to plough half of their transplanted paddy due to the drought conditions, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, said today. Talking to newsmen here, he said the state government had not taken steps either to get electricity from the Central pool or neighbouring states.

On the SYL canal issue, Mr Badal declared that Punjab had sole rights over its river waters. He assured full cooperation of his party to the government on this count. He opposed the Eradi panel.

He asserted that the Panthic Morcha was a proxy of the Congress. Splinter groups had teamed up to betray the party from which they had benefitted the most, he remarked.

Asked whether the SAD would participate in the BJP’s nationwide agitation, Mr Badal declared that it was a programme of the BJP and not of the NDA. Though he called the sacking of Governors wrong, Mr Badal said the BJP had not consulted the SAD for its week-long agitation.

Mr Badal welcomed Mr Kirpal Singh Maiopatti, who had left the SAD(A) along with his supporters, to the party fold. Mr Badal later visited Palahi village and addressed a congregation on the occasion of the Jor Mela.


Coop society’s chief axed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 5
Mr Joga Singh Phaguwala, SAD candidate from Sangrur (General) for the SGPC elections was today removed from the presidentship of the Cooperative Agriculture Service Society by a no-confidence motion passed by six out of nine members of the society.

They said there was resentment against Mr Phaguwala among a majority of the members of the society for the past few months.

Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Bharpur Singh were elected president and vice-president, respectively, of the society by the members present. Others present were Mr Jangir Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh, Mr Swaran Singh and Mr Mukhtiar Singh.


Colleges making money by attesting certificates
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 5
With hundreds of students making a beeline for college admission these days, it is boom time for the authorities of colleges here. It is not just by way of admission fee that college authorities are filling their treasuries as a majority of the colleges are making funds to the tune of thousands per day by charging attestation fee from passouts, seeking admission to a higher course in some other college or looking for job avenues.

Almost all colleges affiliated with the Guru Nanak Dev University are indulging in the practice these days and serpentine queues can be seen in front of offices of principals, registrars, deputy registrars and other authorised attesting officers of the college, hastily signing photocopies of detail marks cards and other certificates of ex-students.

Every college has fixed its own rates for the services. While some colleges charge Rs 40 from a student for a set of certificates less than 20 in number, others charge Rs 10 per copy. Since almost every student has to submit at least five copies of different certificates for applying in at least one college, a student trying for admission in three or four colleges ends up spending between Rs 150 Rs 200 for the purpose.

The students have alleged that the practice is putting an unnecessary financial burden on them. They say ideally a college should encourage its former students opting for a higher education, but by charging the attestation fee, they feel as if they are being discouraged from doing so.

Amandeep, a passout from Hans Raj Mahila Mahavidyala, said she had completed BA at the college, but now she wanted to apply for MA in geography or sociology in some other college, for which she wanted to get her certificates attested. She said she had also applied for MA is mass communication at the regional centre of the university. She said she ended up spending Rs 240 on getting her certificates attested from her alma mater.

Sonia, a passout from DAV College, said she had completed her BEd at the college and had now applied for a teacher’s job at St Soldier School. Since she had to present attested certificates, she had to pay Rs 30 at her college for getting the work done.

Principals of the colleges, however, said since it was a routine practice to charge money for attestation in most other colleges, they too adopted it at their colleges. Some others said that they were doing so as they wanted to check the rush of the students who were unnecessarily bringing 30 or 40 copies of certificates for attestation.

Mr M.L. Aeri, Principal, DAV College, said he was utilising the money collected in this manner on student development activities on the campus. He said a part of it was being used for imparting free education to students from backward tribes of Assam and Meghalaya.

Ms P.P. Sharma, Principal, Hans Raj Mahila Mahavidyala, said the college was charging attestation fee after the members of the Principals’ Federation here resolved that they should charge some amount as attestation fee from ex-students.

Mr H.S. Chatha, Principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College and president of the Principal’s Federation, said since the day he joined the college, he had abolished the practice of charging attestation fee from its students. He said since he had recently been appointed as the president of the federation he was not aware of any such resolution having been passed by his predecessors.


Pingalwara adopts three insane, abandoned women
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 5
Three weeks ago, three mentally-challenged women, one of them pregnant, had no house and none to look after, but now the Pingalwara branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, here is their home and Pingalwara workers their caretakers.

The women cannot tell addresses and names of their towns or villages, also are unable to tell the circumstances in which they went missing from their homes.

The pregnant woman (32) tells her name Kamla and her husband’s as Bhollu. Before coming here on June 18 last, she was found roaming at Malerkotla. She was brought to the Pingalwara by some persons including a journalist from Amargarh. She was examined by Dr Inderjit Kaur, President, All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, and found her seven months’ pregnant.

The second woman, who reveals her name as Rukhsana Begum, was brought to the Pingalwara on June 26 last by the Rotract Club, Sardoolgarh. She is 30. She offers ‘Namaz’. She wants Pingalwara officials not to take her outside as ‘goondas’ will kill her.

The third woman about (45) tells her name as Charno, but no address. She was admitted to the Pingalwara on the request of Manager, Nanakiana Sahib Gurdwara near here as she created problems in the ‘langar’ and ‘Darbar Sahib’ of the gurdwara.

Mr Tarlochan Singh Cheema, chief administrator of the Pingalwara here said these women now were “daughters of the Pingalwara” and would remain here till their condition improved fully.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, in-charge of the local Pingalwara said two/three families had approached them for adopting the baby of pregnant woman after delivery, but none was ready to care for her, though they offered money to the Pingalwara for her care. About Charno, he said she remains silent, but when we ask her anything, she just cried “mainoo karant na lao” (don’t give me electric shock).

Mr Rajesh said all women patients were being treated by Dr Surinder Vohra, a Psychiatrist who visits once or twice a week. He said that Kamla and Rukhsana Begum were responding to the treatment while Charno might take some time to recover.


City residents jostle for a bucket of water
Tribune News service

Bathinda, July 5
Place is Maulvian mohalla of the old city and time 2 p.m. on a day of this month. Sweat drops from one’s forehead vanish even before falling on ground. Lanes and bylanes of the city which otherwise remain crowded with stray animals have none of these.

Women, children and elderly people can be seen jostling each other for a few buckets of drinking water supplied by Municipal Corporation tankers. Risking life on account of sunstroke, residents wait for hours under the sun for the tanker to arrive to their localities even at odd hours. Abuses and pleadings for another bucket of water are enough to draw attention of even passersby.

Angry residents of the area tell that this is a perennial problem and they have been facing it since they came in this locality to settle five decades ago.

Not only the Molvian mohalla has been facing an acute shortage of water, Poojan Wala mohalla at a stone’s throw from that locality also has been witnessing shortage as water has become a luxury for its residents.

In the past few days, in these localities, where municipal corporation tankers, have been supplying water, the situation has started taking an ugly turn as those, coming to collect water in all types of containers, have started having quarrels among themselves. Residents say that if the supply of water was not made adequate by the authorities, the town could witness water riots. Residents of Guru Nanak Pura mohalla, Hazi Rattan Gate and some areas on the outskirts of the city also face the same problem.

Other areas, facing water shortage included Minocha colony, Power House road area, Dhobiana Basti area, Jhujjar Nagar, Ajit Road, Aggarwal colony, Basant Vihar and Harpal Nagar area.

Data collected from the authorities reveals that only half of the population of the town, which is more than three lakh, has been covered under piped water supply. Migration from rural areas to the town is on and new residential colonies are coming up but authorities have failed to make arrangements to augment water supply accordingly.

A cross section of residents, The Tribune talked to, pointed out that as underground water had been declared unfit for human consumption due to its high fluoride contents and the piped water supply was inadequate, they had been forced to purchase expensive bottled water.

Mr A.K. Singla, Municipal Corporation Engineer, said that as the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal passing through this town and supplying raw water to various water works was closed for a few days in the past, the supply of water to the town was rationalised. He added that as water had again started flowing in the canal, the water supply to residential areas was being augmented.


PSEB manages to get little relief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has managed to get 120 mw of power from other states even though demand continues to outstrip availability forcing the board to continue with regulatory measures. The industry will continue to face a two-day weekly off even as cuts have been enforced on both rural and urban consumers.

PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra had earlier camped in Delhi for a few days to persuade the Power Ministry to allocate Punjab more power from the unallocated share as well as from other states which had spare power. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had also urged the Union Power Minister to come to the state’s aid to ensure protection of the paddy crop which was dependent on ground water only.

According to Mr Ratra, an additional 100 mw of power would flow from Uttaranchal from the night of July 7 till September 30. Besides this, 20 mw power has been borrowed from the Eastern and Western grids for three days. This is the only concrete result of the days of hectic lobbying.

A press note here said under the Power Ministry’s initiative, 150 mw of power was being diverted to Punjab from the Rajasthan Atomic Power (RAP) Station. The board is, however, not clear as to when it will get this power.

The PSEB is also trying to arrange 200 mw of power from Rajasthan under a banking arrangement. It has also requested Uttaranchal to increase banking of 10 lakh units to minimum of 20 lakh units per day with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, the gap between the demand and the availability of power remains. The demand is presently 1339 lakh units against a supply of 1084 lakh units. The board has tried to reduce the demand by imposing a two-day weekly off on the industrial sector which has given it a relief of 72 lakh units. It has also imposed a six-and-a-half-hour cut on urban industrial consumers which had given it a relief of 40 lakh units. Similarly, a cut of 9-10 hours on rural domestic consumers has given a relief of another 40 lakh units to the board.

In another step to make an on-the-spot assessment of the power scenario, the board has asked all members of the board and its Chief Engineers to visit rural areas to give a proper feedback on the power scenario in the state.


8 PSEB employees found absent during surprise check
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 5
To ensure the presence of employees in the offices of the district, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, got surprise checking done at Punjab State Electricity Board offices of rural and urban subdivisions at Bassi Pathana and eight employees and an officer was found absent. The absentees included Mr J.R. Sharma, engineer, Mr Harnek Singh, cashier, Ms Mohinder Kaur, UDC, Ms Kuldeep Kaur and Ms Rama Rani, peons, and in the Urban Subdivision, Mr Mohinder Singh JE, Balbir Chand, JE, and Baldev Singh SDC. The Deputy Commissioner has sought the explanation of these officers and employees.

He warned the employees and staff that strict action would be taken against the late comers and absenteeism would not be tolerated at any cost.


Power supply erratic: BKU
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 5
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab unit, has termed the claims of the state government of providing eight-hours power supply to the agricultural sector as false. At meeting here today, the union members said the power supply was erratic due to overloading and low voltage. The union leaders said the government could find out the truth by seeking a report from grids.

Farmers said there were villages where power was supplied to agricultural tubewells for only four hours a day.

They said due to overloading, transformers of the electricity board were getting burnt, while voltage fluctuation was taking a toll on farmers’ motors. The farmers had to bear the brunt of increased diesel prices, they added.


VRS nightmare: families await dues
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 5
Life for Tilak Raj, who was employed in Punjab Tourism Development Corporation as waiter in the (PTDC) complex at Pathankot was smooth till October last year. Fearing disinvestment in the department he along with 350 other employees of the PTDC sought Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) proposed by the department. The department accepted the VRS applications of all employees.

Unfortunately Tilak Raj along with 24 other employees and was retired forcibly from service under the alleged “pick and choose” policy. Six months after the acceptance of his application for voluntary retirement Tilak Raj has lost his balance. Medical reports say he lost his balance due to service depression. He allegedly was depressed because of financial hardship faced after voluntary retirement.

Not even a single penny was paid to him as retirement dues though conditions of VRS state that an employee opting for it had to be paid dues in one month after the acceptance of the application for VRS.

Due to nonpayment of dues his family life has been upset. His wife Raj Rani now works a maid. His elder son Satish who was studying in class VIII now works in a shop at Pathankot to help the family to make both ends meet.

Similar is the plight of other employees of the PTDC given forced retirement but not paid dues for the last eight to nine months.

The employees who are serving have their own woes. Speaking without revealing identity they said that with fear of losing jobs looming large employees of the PTDC had lost motivation to work hard for the organisation.

Since VRS applications of all employees have been accepted by the department, they do not know their status. They still are working in the organisation but were denied privileges of the service. After the acceptance of VRS applications none of the employees has been given increment of enhanced dearness allowance by the department.

Chairman of the PTDC Ashok Sharma said that the dues of employees were given VRS would be paid as soon as amount for the purpose was received from the government. The department of disinvestment had sold the holiday homes of the PTDC. The amount received from the sale proceeds was to be used for the payment of VRS dues. However, the Department of Disinvestment has not so far transferred the said amount to the PTDC for disbursing among the employees, he said.

Some of the PTDC employees who have been relieved but not paid dues are planning to move court against the department and the government.


“Jantak Sahulata” released

Amritsar, July 5
For the convenience and awareness of the people on the working and dealing of various government departments, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, today released a book, “Jantak Sahulata”.

While releasing the book, Mr Raminder Singh said the purpose of this book was to make people aware of the working of various government and semi-government departments and was published on the directions of central and state governments.

He said about 2,000 copies of book had been published, of which 1,200 copies would be sent to village sarpanches and panches. About 100 copies would be given to INTACH, besides heads of various government and semi-government departments, he added.

The book also contained important phone numbers and photographs of tourist spots like the Golden Temple, Durgiana Temple, retreat ceremony at the Wagah border, etc. — OC


People harassed, confused over new bus stand
Holy city facing severe traffic chaos
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, July 5
The people visiting holy city are harassed and a confused lot today, even as two new temporary bus stands, one at mall mandi and another at Jahajgarh, were set up for their convenience as a new bus stand is under construction.

The buses ply from various places in the city like outside old bus stand, Sau-feet road, Hussainpura chowk and various spots on the GT road against the government notification leading to severe blockage of traffic and the concerned officials are mute spectators to floutings of orders of the District Magistrate.

There seems to be no rules for private transport companies having political links. These buses could be seen parked outside the old bus stand resulting in traffic chaos.

At a meeting held few days ago, it was decided that no bus would enter the city beyond the Ram Talai temple chowk and all buses would stop only at these two bus stands. The Deputy Commissioner, who had presided over the meeting had given instructions to the authorities to impound buses which violate the new plan.

Haphazard and unauthorised parking of buses at various places cause inconvenience to passengers, especially children and women. Private buses of a transport company belonging to a Congress MLA could be seen parked outside the make-shift bus stand at mall mandi and outside old bus stand.

Amandeep, a resident of Pathankot, who came Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple said he did not know from where the buses would go to Gurdaspur and Pathankot.

Mr Navneet Singh Grover, owner of Nishat and Malwa bus service, alleged that mini-buses did not pay any ‘adda’ tax and did not have a joint time table as they did not enter in make-shift bus stands. He alleged that buses of companies having political connections or by bribing the police enter beyond their permissible limits flouting the orders of the Deputy Commissioner. He rued that private transporters pay crores of rupees in the form of road tax and administration did not feel necessary to involve them for making proper plan for smooth plying of buses.


Kalam keen on restoring Sultanpur Lodhi’s glory

Sultanpur Lodhi, July 5
Neglected for many decades, Sultanpur Lodhi, the historic town where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have received enlightenment, has caught the attention of President APJ Abdul Kalam. He is taking keen interest in the town’s restoration.

President Kalam sent a communication to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma recently asking him to send a report on cleanliness of holy Kali Bein, where the first Sikh Guru took a dip before enlightenment.

Dr Kalam in his address to the nation on the National Technology Day on May 11 had lauded Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, godman here for the ‘Kar Seva’ (voluntary work for religious purposes) of Bein.

Mr Verma says, he is preparing a report on the Bein project for sending it to the President.

Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, has beautified the town by widening its roads and making a four km long concrete ‘sergah’ on both banks of the rivulet for planting fruit and flower saplings.

A media team had visited the Bein and found that more than 1,000 residents of the town along with 50 tractors were cleaning the choked Bein under the supervision of Baba Seechewal.

The Baba has invited Dr Kalam to see kar seva of the Bein. The Baba, who is doing the kar seva of Bein near Ber Sahib Gurdwara has built a three-km-long bathing ghat on one side of the rivulet and cleared hyacinth, weeds besides 20 feet deepening and widening of the Bein.

He has cleaned the 160-km-long Kali Bein and built bathing ghats at six places besides constructing more than 100-km-long kutcha (temporary) path on one side of the embankment of the rivulet.

Even the encroachers on the basin of the Bein who had filed suits in the courts failed to stop the Baba from doing the kar seva of the Bein and ultimately they surrendered and vacated the encroached land on the persuasion of Baba.

Mr Verma says the Punjab government has agreed to install a regulator of the capacity of 500 cusecs at the Mukerian hydel channel in the near future. He says 100 cusecs of fresh water had been released from the Tarkiana barrage and diverted it into the Bein to make it perennial.

The Baba is planning to stop discharge of factories’ and sewage effluents of Kapurthala, Begowal, Mukerian and Dasuya into the Bein. He says that his aim is to make the rivulet sacred and revive its old glory so that people can bathe in it. — PTI


Reverse car driver’s life goes ‘reverse’
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 5
The undying desire to get his name registered in the Guinness Book of World Record and to spread the message of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan by ‘driving the car in reverse’ seems to have put the life of Mr Harpreet Pappu, a local resident and his family, in ‘reverse gear’.

Mr Pappu, whose wife has been writing in reverse, seems to have suffered the setback from the day he took this missionary task as, after covering a distance of 16250 km by driving the car in reverse in 50 days, he could not get his name registered in the Guinness Book on the one hand and on the other, he has come under debt as he was forced to borrow more than Rs 1 lakh to meet the expenditure of his “one-man mission”.

“I took up this mission the day I was beaten up by a jawan of paramilitary forces during the curfew imposed in Punjab in 1984 when the terrorism was at its peak. I decided to drive the car in reverse to reverse the trend of bitter relations between India and Pakistan so that peace could prevail in state”.

Mr Pappu, who has driven different vehicles and covered a distance of 7 lakh km, has been finding it difficult to go to Pakistan on his peace mission as he could not find anyone who could sponsor his mission.

Jobless and meeting his family expenses from the income generated by his wife, who has been doing embroidery and stitching work, Mr Pappu has also not been able to get support from the state or central government for accomplishing his task. Both Pappu and his wife Krishna Devi are better known as a “reverse couple” in this region.

Reeling under severe financial crises, Mr Pappu, who has a son and a daughter, has been finding it difficult to get treatment of his cervical problem that has started affecting the pitch of his voice. Due to paucity of funds, he is not able to purchase a new vehicle as he has still been using a 1996 model car.

“Apart from going to Pakistan through the Wagha by driving the car in reverse to spread the peace message across the border, I want to participate in Formula-1 Racing to be held in 2007,” says the ambitious young reverse car driver.

He took the job of a driver with private persons after he lost his father and mother, both in quick succession when he was just a kid. He could not take formal education as the school became ‘out of bound’ for him due to his poor economic conditions.

Though he has been out of pocket most of the time and no organisation has come forward to recognise his talent, he is feeling satisfied as he says, “ More than one crore people have come to know about my talent and achievement through many media channels. They recognise my worth and potential. What else I can expect from them?”


PRTC Chairman honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 5
From a humble beginning as member of the Budhladha Panchayat Samiti, to be given the honour of carrying the "Jwahar Jyoti" from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and also Tashkant to being President of the Punjab Youth Congress besides holding other responsibilities, it has been an eventful 50 years in public life for Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta.

For the resident of the city, it was payback time today as they honoured Mr Gupta, who has been closely associated with the city which he has served as President of the Improvement Trust during the reign of former Chief Minister Beant Singh and also lately as President of the District Congress Committee (Urban), on completion of 50 years in public life.

Mr Gupta was honoured by a large number of social organisations, including the Rotary Club whose present District 3090 Governor, Dr Harbans Pathak, was present at the function, besides representatives of the Patiala Industries Association which was represented by Mr Virkam Goel, the Patiala Arhtiya Association by Devi Dayal, Helping Hands Society and various other societies.

The function was also attended by city Mayor Vishnu Sharma who while speaking on the occasion, said Mr Gupta was a politician who was free from all evils associated with modern day politicians. The Mayor said Mr Gupta had not only developed the District Congress into the fighting force which could take on the akalis in the last assembly elections during his tenure as DCC chief but had also lent dignity to the office by his above board and fair conduct. Mr Sharma said Mr Gupta was known for taking everyone along with him and that the Municipal Corporation had also cooperated fully with Mr Gupta on various issues.

Mr Gupta said all political parties should unite on the issue of creating a political environment in which value based politics could be restored and criminals and exploiters could be kept away. He said electioneering should be a simple affair adding the entire process could be state funded so that it could be held in a non-partisan manner.

Mr Gupta also said the present supremacy of the legislative wing over the organisational wing should be brought down to save the ideology and very existence of any particular party. He said people in the age group of 60 years who were working within the party set up should be respected in the real spirit as they were directly or indirectly the living witnesses of the pre independence era. He said political parties should reserve a definite quota for such persons in both the legislative and organisational set up.

A short film on the life of Mr Gupta was also shown. It dealt upon his entry into politics, stint in the Youth Congress, role played as President of the Punjab Beopar Cell and later as Improvement Trust Chairman and also as PRTC Chairman.


Dharna by wood traders
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 5
Wood traders staged a dharna and blocked vehicular traffic for about four hours from 8 a.m. at Prabhat Chowk in protest against the alleged beating up of 70-year-old Sikander Nath Khanna, a wood commission agent, by municipal council octroi contractor, Mr Satish Kumar Billa, his son, Amit, and his employees, in front of his shop on the Tanda road here this morning. Mr Sikander Nath was wounded and admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

On receiving information, Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, alongwith Mr Shiv Sud and Mr Kharaiti Lal Katna, both municipal councillors, joined them and protested against the highhandedness of Mr Satish Kumar Billa and his employees in the name of checking to stop octroi evasion. They were demanding registration of a case against the octroi contractor, his son and employees and cancellation of his contract for the octroi collection.

Mr Tikshan Sud told media persons that he had been regularly receiving complaints from the local inhabitants against the octroi contractor and his employees regarding their manhandling while entering the city.

Mr Sikander Nath told this correspondent at the hospital that a trolly loaded with firewood and some logs came to his shop in the morning for sale. Mr Satish Kumar Billa along with his son, Amit, appeared there and forced the owner of the trolley to go with them to head octroi post at Khanpuri Gate as he had paid less octroi for the wood. He said that Re 1 per quintal was being charged on firewood and Rs 5 per quintal on logs. When he intervened, both father and son first used abusive language and later started beating him up. They also forcibly tried to put him in their jeep to take him to some undisclosed place, but the shopkeepers of the locality came for his rescue and got him released from their clutches.

On receiving information Mr Ajay Mohan Babbi, president, Municipal Council, along with employees and a police force reached the spot. On their assurances regarding strict action against Mr Satish Kumar Billa, his son and employees, they lifted the dharna and blockade. Mr Babbi condemned the beating up of Mr Sikander Nath.

The Model Town police has registered a case in this connection.


Lions Club adopts health projects
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 5
The Lions Club has drawn up a plan for the current financial year to get itself actively involved in curbing the heinous act of female foeticide, besides creating awareness about health among the people, by organising seminars, debates and essay competitions.

The plan was chalked out at a meeting of the board of directors of the club held under the chairmanship of Dr Surinder Singla, president.

Dr Singla said here today the club would create awareness among the people about various diseases, especially TB, hepatitis, asthma, hypertension and diabetes. He said the club would also propagate against female foeticide by educating the people about the danger of decline in the number of girls and about life-threatening effects of illegal abortions.

The local club also decided to launch a “diabetes detection drive” on August 15 by organising the first “free diabetes detection-cum-treatment camp” at Sangrur. The aim of the project is to motivate suspected cases of diabetes for early detection and proper treatment.


Protest against action in bitumen scam
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 5
On a call given by the Joint Action Committee of PWD (B&R) employees, various associations organised a rally in front of the PWD office here today in protest against the Vigilance action in the bitumen scam.

The convener of the committee, Mr G.C. Midha, condemned the action taken against the engineers concerned allegedly without verifying the facts from the department.

The association threatened to continue organising protests until the government withdrew the “false” cases registered against the employees.


CM mourns Savitri Devi’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
Capt Amarinder Singh, today expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Ms Savitri Devi, wife of the Late Comrade Ram Kishan, former Chief Minister, who passed away late last night at New Delhi, after a brief illness. She was 86. She is survived by two sons and two daughters.

In a condolence message, Capt Singh said that Ms Savitri Devi was a freedom fighter and as a follower of the Punjab Kesri, Lala Lajpat Rai, she was imprisoned during the Quit India Movement.


Bollywood stars descend on city
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 5
Yash Chopra film unit arrived in the holy city amidst tight security here today. The 35-member team includes Shahrukh Khan, Priety Zinta, Rani Mukherjee, along with Mr Aditya Chopra and Payal Chopra Sona. As many as 21 rooms of a city hotel are booked for the stars and others. More than 40 police personnel had been deputed at the hotel. The gates of the hotel were shut soon after the arrival of the stars.

Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee arrives at a hotel in Amritsar on Monday. — PTI photo

Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee arrives at a hotel in Amritsar


Councillors oppose water bill surcharge
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 5
Municipal councillors Jatinder Kalra and Amarjit Singh Titoo have opposed the proposal of the council with regard to the imposition of 25 per cent surcharge on water bills.

Talking to The Tribune here today, they stated that they had planned a protest dharna and demonstration in front of the MC office on July 7, when this proposal would be presented at a meeting of the council. They said they would not allow this item to be passed.


Tarlochan’s election to RS hailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 5
Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University and president, Master Tara Singh Institute of Sikh Studies in Contemporary Politics has welcomed the election of Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, to the Rajya Sabha.


Peace ambassador
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 5
Jaiprabh Kaur of Phagwara has been selected as a peace ambassador for the 16th Asian Pacific children’s convention being held at Fukuoka in Japan from July 10 to 28. She is a daughter of Mr Mukhinder Singh, Past National President (PNP), Indian Jaycees, and Mrs Paramjit Kaur. The Phagwara City Jaycees feted Jaiprabh Kaur at a function here.


Society presents Punjabi play
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 5
The National Theatre Arts Society presented a Punjabi play, “Bhagwad Ajjukam”, at Baradari Garden here today. The play, along with items of music and dance was presented at the conclusion of the 15th annual one-month youth theatre workshop.

The play was directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal. It was based on the philosophy of the soul’s immortality and its transmigration. Dr Narinder Tandon was the chief guest on the occasion. He announced a cash prize of Rs 5,100 for the artistes.


Notice issued in public interest petition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion on a public interest litigation seeking directions that a Section of the Sikh Gurdwara Act depriving right to vote to those within the age group of 18 to 21 years be declared ultra vires.

The petition filed by Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (International) Rajwinder Singh, against the Union of India and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbadhak Committee (SGPC) contended that the election had been declared without making necessary amendment in the Section. This, he said, was in violation of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner added that the particular section was violative of Article 326 of the Constitution of India. According to it every citizen of India not less than 18, and is not disqualified under constitution or any law, shall be registered as a voter at any such election.

DSPs' appointments

In a fresh application filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar who had challenged the appointment of DSPs in the sports quota today alleged interference of Media Adviser BIS Chahal.

Referring to the controversial missing sports file episode, he made a mention about a letter by Sports and Youth Services Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The letter enclosed along with the application reportedly stated that Mr Chahal on May 27 called up Secretary, Sports, and stated that the file should not be produced in the court. Rather a statement should be made that there were no separate papers or file in the Sports Department on the issue.


Interest rate on crop loans cut
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
The Punjab State Cooperative Bank has reduced the rate of interest on short-term crop loans to 11 per cent from existing 12 per cent effective July 1. This 1 per cent lowering of the interest rate would accrue a benefit of Rs 45 crore, per annum and will benefit seven lakh farmers.

In a press release, the bank said the present reduction was keeping in view the hardship faced by farmers. When the present government took over in February, 2002, the rate of interest was 14 per cent, which it had reduced to 12 per cent.

The rate of interest on revolving cash credit limit has also been reduced by 1 per cent from 13 per cent to 12 per cent, which is intended to provide an additional relief of Rs 5 crore to nearly 1.03 lakh farmers.

The Minister for Cooperation, Mr Lal Singh, while giving this information also said that the Cooperative Bank had a network of 824 branches affiliated to 19 central co-operative banks and about 4,000 primary agricultural co-operative service societies.


DC bans digging of wells
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 5
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, has imposed ban on the digging of wells without the prior permission. This ban would continue till August 31. It is worth mentioning that more than five labourers have died in different incidents in the district, while digging wells.

According to information two labourers died at Sangatpura Sodian village in the district yesterday, while digging a well. As the news of their burial under earth spread in the village all villagers rushed for help them and they also informed the DC and he immediately sent SDM Fatehgarh Sahib along with a team of doctors and ambulance.

The rescue operation continued till late in the evening but of no use. Their bodies were taken out and after conducting post-mortem, these were handed over to the relatives. Similarly two persons had died in Khamano subdivision and one in Amloh recently.


Man killed, jewellery taken away

Abohar, July 5
A resident of Sappanwali village, on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road, was killed by four persons who also looted his house last night.

The assailants scaled the boundary wall of the victim, Krishan Lal’s, house. As his wife Rani woke on hearing some noise, the looters reportedly covered her mouth and eyes with a cloth. According to her, some intoxicant made her unconscious. As she recovered in the morning, her 30-year-old husband lay dead in his bed with a bloody head.

She reported the matter to Mr Hira Lal, a member of the gram panchayat. Neighbours reportedly confirmed that they had heard gunshots but did not come out owing to fear. According to eyewitnesses, two bullet marks were noticed on Krishan Lal’s head. Rani’s ornaments had been removed by the miscreants, who also took away other jewellery and cash.

A brother-in-law of the victim is a head constable posted at a local police station. The body was brought to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital this morning. Senior officers visited the village. — OC


Grandmother, kin booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 5
A girl was allegedly kidnapped and raped by her cousin here on June 26. But a case was registered only today when she along with her sister was freed from illegal detention. No arrest has been made.

She filed a complaint against her grandmother Nazira, aunt Seeta, uncle Moti and cousin Naini and his three friends Shalu, Bharati and Nikki.

She alleged that she and her sister were kidnapped by the aforesaid accused from her house in Waryam Singh colony under the Islamabad police station and took them to the house of Nikki where accused Naini raped her. She alleged the accused kept them in illegal confinement and took away her jewellery.

A police official said that the victims’ father who was an employee of the Municipal Corporation had died. The accused wanted a job for Naini, he added. The accused were booked and are absconding.

Also a woman belonging to Nizampur village under the Jandiala police station alleged that she was raped by Sarwan Singh of same village. She said her husband was not at home. A case has been registered.


Petrol station looted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 5
Three motorcycle-borne youths with muffled faces allegedly looted cash from a petrol station located on the Bhucho-Nathana road, 25 km from here, today on gunpoint.

The police sources said three youths with covered faces descended on the Harpal Filling Station, in the evening and asked the employees to handover the cash to them. One of the accused was having pistol, which he took out to execute the crime.

Sources added that about Rs 7,000 had been looted. The police parties had been dispatched to different places to nab the culprits. Special nakas had also been laid down in that area. A case has been registered.


2 shopkeepers beaten up
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 5
Armed sons of Pawan Mahindru, president Dera Bassi Mubarikpur Truck Operators Union, along with their accomplices attacked two shopkeepers in the main market, this evening.

Inderjit Singh, a mechanic, and Krishan Lal, a tyre trader, sustained injuries in the attack. They were later admitted to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the injured alleged that they were sitting in their respective shops when sons of Pawan Mahindru, alias Pammi, along with some other youth stormed into the area and assaulted them with sticks and other sharp-edged weapons. They also damaged the goods inside the shops.

On the other hand, Pawan Mahindru alleged that some persons had entered his shop last night and damaged the goods besides smashing the windowpanes.

He also complained some unidentified persons were threatening him of dire consequences on the telephone for the past couple of days.

Moreover, Inderjit Singh, Krishan Lal and some others had also abused him. He, however, denied the allegations saying that he was out of station last night.

The Dera Bassi police has started investigating the case.


B.Ed entrance test results declared
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 5
Heminder Kaur of Bathinda topped in the science group and Amritsar girl Amandeep Kaur took the lead in arts in the Punjab B.Ed entrance test conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University on June 26.

The results of the test were declared today, which can be accessed on the university website www.gnduonline.org In the science group, Gurkirat Kaur of Patiala and Archana Popli of Ludhiana stood second and third, respectively.

Richa Singla of Nabha and Anupam of Jalandhar were second and third, respectively, in the arts group.

As many as 40,000 candidates had appeared in the test. Admissions to the B.Ed course in all education colleges of the state affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev university, Amritsar, would be made as per the merit in this test.


Admission to graduate courses starts
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 5
With admissions for various graduate courses starting from today, a large number of students thronged colleges after a spell of vacation to seek admission.

Long queues were seen in almost all colleges of Bathinda, including Government Rajindra College, MG DAV College, SSD Girls College and Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa Girls College, in front of counters for enquiries.

Most of the students were satisfied with arrangements for admission but some who reached Government Rajindra College for admission, faced problems.

The students complained there was no fan in the corridor where they had to stand in front of a counter for a long time in a queue to get prospectus. It was very difficult in the scorching heat without a fan the students added.

They said that there was only one clerk to sell prospectus and provide detail marks sheets. So, they had to wait for a long time to get prospectus and detail marks sheets.

Principal of the college Ms Gurmeet Kaur Bhattal said that the there was no difficulty till today as prospectus had been provided to students inside the office.


Bank Branch computerised
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 5
The Shivalik Kshetriya Gramin Bank has earned a profit of Rs 10 crore during 2003-04 which is the highest so far.

This was stated by Mr Phool Singh, Chairman of the banks while presiding over a function organised in connection with the introduction of computerisation at the local branch of the Bank here today. He said the bank had planned to disburse loans totalling Rs 70 crore in the service area this year. He said the net NPA level had been brought down to 0 per cent during the current year.

The rural bank, which is sponsored by the Punjab National Bank, had achieved a deposit target of Rs 245 crore and advances of Rs 83 crore. The total advances included Rs 50 crore to agriculture and allied activities, 6 crore to small-scale industry and 27 crore under various other categories.

The bank had issued 4962 kisan credit cards worth Rs 49.29 crore up to March to farmers. The bank had also financed 115 self-help groups comprising 1250 women of rural areas with loans amounting to Rs 112 lakh under Rural Women Empowerment Programme.

Mr Amarbir Singh Sidhu, BDPO, Kharar, inaugurated the process of computerisation.

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