P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Indian shot in firing near Baghdad
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 1
People are praying and the Indian Government is making efforts to get three Indians taken hostage in Iraq released, but the death of Mandeep Singh (27) of Pandori Kad village, who was killed during indiscriminate firing by Iraqi revolutionaries on a convoy of trucks at Mehmoodia near Baghdad on June 20, has gone unnoticed.

When mediapersons came to know about the death of Mandeep Singh, they went to Pandori Kad village, 20 km from here, today. Joginder Singh and his wife Surinder Kaur, parents of the deceased, were crestfallen. Joginder Singh said he had six-seven acres of land and had arranged Rs 70,000 from his relatives to send his son Mandeep to Kuwait about a year ago. Mandeep went to Kuwait on July 25, 2003, where he got a job as a truck driver. He went with his truck to Iraq on June 15, and returned but on account of illness of another driver, he went to Iraq again on June 18. While coming back from Baghdad on June 20, Iraqi revolutionaries attacked a convoy of trucks near Mehmoodia. Mandeep and two Americans who were sitting in the truck cabin with him were shot dead.

Rashpal, an employee of KGL Company, came to know about the incident and informed Gurwinder Singh, cousin of Mandeep. Meanwhile, Pritpal Singh, a colleague of Mandeep, has managed to keep the body in a freezer. When Joginder Singh came to know that the Kuwait Government was not allowing to send the body to India, he, through Bibi Mohinder Kaur Josh, former minister, approached Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, in Ludhiana and sought his help. Pritpal Singh brought the body in to India on July 13, and it was cremated the next day.


Indian drivers being forced to work in Iraq
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, August 1
Kuwaiti transport companies are forcing even untrained Indian drivers to work in Iraq against their wishes to ensure uninterrupted supply of food items and arms and ammunition to the US army, which is fighting against Iraqi guerrillas after the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power.

This was revealed by Amarjit Singh, a truck driver of Madara village, about 11 km from here, who managed to flee from Kuwait last month after he refused to budge to the pressure tactics of his Kuwaiti employer.

Meanwhile, in a gruesome incident, Iraqi militants killed Kulwant Singh Minhas of the same village while he was transporting US army’s items from Kuwait to Iraq about three months ago. Minhas had gone to Kuwait as a truck driver on February 18. His killing went unnoticed by the Indian authorities.

Interestingly, two truck drivers of the nearby Bhangala village — Harnek Singh and Lakhwinder Singh — had disclosed that the US army was also instrumental in forcing Indian drivers to work for it as there was an acute shortage of skilled drivers to shift their bases and other defence material in other areas of Iraq. They revealed that more than 5,000 such drivers and labourers were working for the US army, which was allegedly exploiting them in one or the other way by issuing threats.

Talking to The Tribune, Amarjit Singh, who had paid a sum of Rs 1 lakh to a local travel agent to secure visa for Kuwait, worked for the Al-Mahaada company as a truck-trailer driver. He reached Kuwait on April 15 and remained there for two months. “Everything was going on fine till I was asked to leave for Iraq on a US army assignment. Though I did not have any valid international driving licence, the employer virtually forced me to follow the order and threatened me with dire consequences in case of refusal,” he said, adding that he had seen many Indian drivers being beaten up by Kuwaiti employers on their denial to go to trouble-torn Iraq.

A visibly upset Amarjit maintained that he somehow managed to flee from the clutches of his employer and returned home on June 17 safely. “The travel agent had ruined my life, who charged a hefty amount for a good job in Kuwait along with a valid visa. This is a big racket, where innocent truck drivers are being pushed into Kuwait by such unscrupulous travel agents despite knowing such cruel ground realities.”

He said those who were not trained in driving heavy vehicles, were given training for a month or two before being pushed to Iraq. “The Indian Government should take up the matter with the Kuwait Government to save thousands of such drivers from being treated as slaves. I, along with 15 other drivers, managed to escape while thousands are still working in inhuman conditions without getting salary for months,” he said.

A sobbing Daljeet Kaur, wife of Kulwant Singh Minhas, said they received the body only 23 days after the death. “The Indian Embassy in Kuwait had informed us that my husband was killed in Iraq on April 23. We had to struggle hard to get his body, which was finally handed over to us after 23 days,” she said, adding that she came to know that Kulwant was forcibly asked to work in Iraq.

“Where shall I go now with my two daughters and a son as my husband was the sole breadwinner for the family. The Altunia company in Kuwait has not paid any compensation and neither has the Union and the state governments”, she rued.

Ironically, while the US medical authorities in Iraq had conducted a post-mortem on the body and had issued a death certificate in this regard to the affected family, the Kuwaiti company had denied that Kulwant had ever been asked to work in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Kuwait vide its letter no 436/54/2004 dated July 13, 2004, had asked Daljeet Kaur to send a power of attorney in their favour to explore possibilities of compensation by seeking legal help.

Residents of Madara village, are angry over the indifferent attitude of the state government and the bureaucracy for “their” failure to extend any help to the aggrieved family.


Thousands of Indians “being detained” by US Army
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Bhangala (Jalandhar), August 1
More than 5000 Indian drivers and other workers are not only being subjected to physical and mental torture, but are also being illegally detained by the US army in its camps and messes in Kuwait. Thousands of other Indian youths have shunned their jobs and striving hard to come back to India to save themselves from being taken as ‘bonded labourers’ by the US Army for ferrying arms and ration-loaded trucks for US soldiers stationed in neighbouring Iraq.

This startling revelation was made by Harnek Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, the two Punjabi truck drivers hailing from this village who managed to come back from Kuwait after being detained by Iraqi terrorists.

According to Harnek Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, though the kidnapping of three Punjabi youths by terrorist group Black Banners has shaken the world, but it has not happened in Iraq for the first time a large number of Indians have suffered in a similar way. “Hundreds of Indians, including a few Punjabis, have already lost their lives in Iraq. This is not known to either the Indian government or the parents of the victims,” revealed Harnek Singh and Lakhwinder Singh while talking to The Tribune at their residence.

“More than 5000 Indians are being detained illegally in US army messes in Kuwait and Iraq. They are being forced to ferry ration from Kuwait to Iraq where they face bullets of Iraqi terrorists, who, generally spare Indians after issuing warnings, but kill Pakistanis. Indians are being treated as bonded labourers in US camps and messes and are not even being given sufficient food to sustain themselves,” said Harnek Singh.

He maintained that he and Lakhwinder Singh were also caught by Iraqi terrorists, but they were, however, released after they promised that they would not enter Iraq in future.

“Their attitude is a bit changed towards Indians. Once they caught an Indian driver, who was given money and allowed to go back to Kuwait safely. Indians and Pakistanis are being pushed into Iraq by the US army without any passports. Thousands of Indians in Kuwait have resigned from their jobs for they want to return to India. But Kuwaiti companies are not handing over their passports and other documents to them. Efforts by youngsters to raise their voice against torture have failed to yield any results so far,” they said.


SYL: Farmers endorse all steps taken by Amarinder
P. P. S. Gill and Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab farming community and intelligentsia today endorsed the administrative and legal steps taken within the ambit of the Constitution by the Capt. Amarinder Singh government to protect the interests of the state in the prolonged river water dispute.

The occasion was Bharti Kisan Union-sponsored seminar for the village-level opinion-makers on ''River Waters''. To this were invited Vice-Chancellors of Punjab Agricultural University, Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University, besides experts to educate and explain as much to farmers at home as send a message to the nation about some home truths on river waters.

The hall of the Kisan Bhawan here was jam-packed. The farmers from all over the state sat listening with rapt attention.. They would occasionally nod or applaud or raise ''bole-so-nihal" cries knowingly and approvingly.

The farmers, who understood the import of the Act in the backdrop of the history of the river water sharing and in the context of the present national,

international principles governing this, endorsed the speeches. They were explained why the Assembly had to enact the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act-2004, the changed ground realities, why diversification in agriculture, why all these past 38 years no legal adjudication on river-water sharing had been done.

The large gathering assured Capt. Amarinder Singh of all possible support and observed that no practical solution to the vexed question could be found unless the prevailing ground realities and changed situations were seen, appreciated and analysed in the right perspective, nation-wide.

The speakers and farmers with whom TNS interacted at the seminar, were unanimous that it was all politics and whatever the Assembly had done or does was within the framework of the Constitution.

The gathering also observed that despite the long-drawn water battles, it was a ''hard and harsh'' reality that water sharing was never adjudicated by a legal fora. Strangely, no scientific assessments or hydrological surveys were carried out by any national or international experts on the availability of water.

What had happened all these decades, speakers said was ''politics'' and

''compulsions of the Centre'' that twisted the arms of the states because of which water problem, so far, had defied solutions, as those solutions were neither reasonable nor practical. It was said any solutions ignoring the ground realities and the present plight of the farmers in the state would not be in the nation's interest, much less the interests of Punjab.

All speakers, including BKU leaders, were generally of the view that any decision which rendered nearly 15 per cent of the south-west Punjab barren or snatched livelihood of 15 lakh families would not be acceptable. Another view that emerged was over-drawl of underground water through tube wells in the central districts would further compound the water situation, resulting in much larger area going barren. If that happened, such a scenario would not only be against the interest of the nation but would certainly pose a threat to the hard-earned peace in Punjab.

The gathering was optimist that with the President making a reference to the Supreme Court, not only Punjab would be able to place all facts before it and articulate its point of view in its entirety, the judicial adjudication would definitely keep in view the ''truth and ground realities in view''.

With the Presidential reference coming for hearing in the Supreme Court tomorrow, Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh was guarded in his comments. He briefly traced the background as to why the Assembly had to pass the Bill. He thanked his party and Cabinet colleagues and Mr Parkash Singh Badal and all political parties for their support.

He said water was an emotive issue. ''The question, henceforth, before all of us should be about the future of Punjab. What has been done is not for our generation but for posterity''. He dubbed all the criticism heaped on Punjab by the media and others, as ''unfounded''.

'' What Punjab is going through should be of concern to the nation because it is we, who helped the country build up a huge food grain bufferstock and protect its food security and help it run its food distribution system''.

The three Vice-Chancellors, Dr K S Aulakh , Prof. S P Singh and Mr S S Boparai, farm economist Dr S S Johl, retired bureaucrats, Mr Gurdev Singh and Dr Manmohan Singh, quoting facts and figures, traced historical background, projected the ground realities or why diversification was important or why this had failed, sought government intervention in marketing and procurement or how farming was rendered unremeunerative. They all endorsed the Act.

The common refrain of BKU leaders, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur was to tell their ''field commanders'' to spread out and educate their fraternity and make it aware of the import of the Act or why Punjab's power was under stress. In fact, the Chief Minister had told the gathering that to save paddy, power was being purchased from outside and state was incurring a loss of Rs 20 crore, per day to supply power for eight hours.

For the first time in its history, the BKU presented a ''Mann patar'' to a Chief Minister. The BKU called him ''Lok Nayak''. In fact, going by the overwhelming response of the gathering, back-up support that he was assured, Capt. Amarinder Singh could not have asked for more.


Chandumajra backs CM stand on SYL
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
Capt Amarinder Singh has taken a bold stand on the SYL canal issue and the SAD (L) appreciates the resolution passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha nullifying all water agreements, said Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President SAD (Longowal), while addressing a meeting of office-bearers of his party at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib today.

The meeting was called to take stock of the situation arising of the SGPC elections as well as to strengthen the party cadre.

He said successive Central Governments had meted out a “step-motherly” treatment to Punjab and the construction of SL was part of that.

He said as per the riparian law, Punjab had full right over the waters of three rivers. He said due to delayed monsoon, various parts of the state were facing the problem of drought.

He urged the Central Government to ensure more electricity supply to Punjab.

Reacting to the results of the SGPC, he said though the SAD had managed to get majority, 40 per cent Sikhs had cast their vote against the SAD candidates.

He said for the first time, 33 candidates had succeeded in defeating SAD candidates.

He criticised the role of the Gurdwara Judicial Commission during the elections.


CM rejects Johl’s resignation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today rejected the resignation sent by Dr S.S, Johl, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Planning Board. Dr Johl had sent his resignation to the Chief Minister on July 8.

He told TNS that “ I am neither accepting the resignation nor allowing him to relinquish the charge. He will continue as long as I continue.’’

Later, he took the correspondent to Dr Johl and said, “Nothing doing. I am not accepting it”. Dr Johl, when asked said he would be meeting the Chief Minister on this issue and would comment only after that. He was one of the key speakers at the BKU seminar on” river waters’’ and sat next to him all through the seminar.

The Tribune had only last week reported in these columns that Dr Johl had submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister stating that he was quitting this post since he did not find himself relevant to “the system of your governance.”

He told TNS that had his report on diversification implemented in the 1980’s , the present situation in the state would not have arisen. The state would spend Rs 3,000 crore on buying power by the time paddy matures.

Later the Chief Minister on the request of the BKU organisers had langar with the farmers, who had come in large numbers to participate in the seminar on river waters.


Poohla aide too held for murder
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 1
The police arrested Karnail Singh, alias Kaila, another aide of Ajit Singh Poohla accused in a murder case. The Ludhiana police also started proceedings against Ajit Singh Poohla in a case registered him against his original name “Jaswinder Singh alias Good Fighter” at Kotwali Police station in Ludhiana, in which he was declared a proclaimed offender in 1981. According to Mr Farooqui, SSP here a team of Ludhiana police visited Nawanshahr in this connection.

Col G.S. Sandhu (retired), chairman, Poohla Eviction Committee, Baba Deep Singh, Deputy Jathedar, Misal Shaheedan Taruna Dal( Baba Bakala), Mr Swaranjit Singh and representatives of a few other Nihang organisations, yesterday met SSP, M.F. Farooqui and apprised him of complaints of murder, abduction and rape etc. against Poohla. The SSP, said that the representatives of several organisations had submitted six complaints against Poohla. Besides details of cases registered they also submitted fresh complaints. The complaints would be examined and Poohla , who is in remand up to August 2 with police here, would be interrogated regarding these complaints and police chiefs of the districts concerned informed about it, said Mr Farooqui.

Baba Deep Singh, Deputy Jathedar, Misal Shaheedan Taruna Dal (Baba Bakala) and his aide Swaranjit Singh said that real chief of the Taruna Dal was Baba Makhan Singh and Ajit Singh Poohla had become a ‘self-styled’ chief of the Dal. As per ‘Panthic maryada’ (religious convention), the chief of the Taruna Dal was appointed by the Shiromani Parbandhak Akali Buddha Dal, Talwandi Sabo, chief Baba Santa Singh by performing ‘dastarbandi’ of the chief. Also, the appointment of the chief of the Taruna Dal was to be ‘endorsed’ by 12 misals by performing ‘dastarbandi’. They accused Ajit Singh Poohla of ‘grabbing’ gurdwaras under the control of Baba Kahan Singh, who was allegedly murdered by him, and he declared himself self-styled chief of the Taruna Dal. All Nihang organisations had been boycotting Ajit Singh Poohla since 1984, said Baba Deep Singh and Swaranjit Singh adding that earlier he was ‘patronised’ by some senior police officials.


Sikh religious work beyond bias: expert
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar: The cultural resource and conservation initiative (CRCI) which has been entrusted with the task of preparing the ground work for the ‘formulation of methodology and strategy for conservating the Golden Temple’ funded by the International Ford Foundation, had started work on project here.

The Project Co-ordinator and Director of the CRCI, Ms Gurmeet Rai, while talking to The Tribune said that the Golden Temple was the first living sacred site which had been nominated by the Government of India for inclusion in the list of World Heritage Sites. She said it was a very significant project as there was a growing global concern on the issue concerning conservation of cultural heritage on living sacred sites.

The World renowned conservationists Mr Jayath Weerasinghe from Sri Lanka and Mr James Simpson from Scotland who had joined the CRCI said that the present project required indepth study of the Sikh religion which would help to work out the strategy to document the conservation plan and would form the basis to undertake the actual work.

The Sri Lankan conservationist said that the Sikh art was unique and lauded the artisans who had painted the murals, frescos and done the ‘naqash’ work unparalleled in the history of religious art in the world. He said that the Sikh religious work was beyond any bias and had encompassed the universal truth reaching out to the people across the globe.

The scientific conservation in the Golden Temple complex would be a model in this direction. He said it was significant that James Simpson and he himself had been invited to be on the panel and would be able to lend their experience and expertise for the success of this project.

Ms Rai said that they had identified three major methodologies and strategies for this project which would include complete research and investigation of material for conservation and would be documented through proper laboratory investigation by setting up onsite labs. She added that the second part included the interpretation of data, sourcing of the artist for restoration, who are trained in the use of traditional material and techniques while in the third part the entire project would be available on the website and CD-ROM with database.

The Project Director said the entire conservation plan would also help to address the management issues related to long-term conservation plan of cultural heritage within the site. She added the entire CRCI project was being undertaken with the close support from the SGPC and a senior member of the SGPC was being co-opted for regular interaction.

Ms. Rai said they had on the panel Mr. B. N. Tandon as Technical Director, a former Joint Director General of the Archeological Survey of India, an expert on the conservation of marble who had planned to clean the entire marble in the Golden Temple complex through indigenously produced substance. The work would commence from August 3 by Mr Tandon himself.

Ms Rai said that the technical study and investigation would include the historical building of the Golden Temple complex, namely Sanctum Sanctorum, Darshani Deorhi, the plinth of Akal Takht, Ramgarhia Bunga and Baba Atal.

The murals of the ancient Sikh art which adore the walls of the Sikh shrine requires special conservation plan. In this connection the Sri Lankan expert felt that this required special procedure revitalising the murals. He suggested that they would like to consolidate the fragile and delicate paintings, cleaning them with special solvent and natural chemicals besides preserving the same with reversible coating.

The test of various components and material would be conducted by the Sri Ram Institute of Industrial Research, New Delhi, which would do physical and chemical tests.

The report on the formulation of strategy which began in April would be completed within 15 months.

The Sri Lankan conservationist felt that some artisans to work on such projects could be outsourced from places in India and abroad but would prefer the people from this region to participate in the religious sewa for revitalising the glorious Sikh temple which would soon be declared the World Heritage Site by unesco.


Vedanti’s directive to DSGMC draws flak
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 1
A directive issued by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti asking Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), to make a payment of Rs 1.10 crore to Mr Avtar Singh Hit as compensation for the school handed over to the DSGMC, has ruffled many feathers.

The Sikh circles are linking the directive with the forthcoming annual elections of the DSGMC due in September. Mr Chandok, who himself is in minority in the Delhi Gurdwara Committee, became President of the DSGMC last year with the active support of Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, a former president of the DGMC and Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar.

Under the present circumstances, Mr Chandok needed the support of Mr Hit, a leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) who enjoys the support of 13 out of 51 members, to retain his position as the DSGMC President.

However, a majority of the executive members of the DSGMC are likely to oppose the directive of the Jathedar. Mr Harbhajan Singh Matharoo, general secretary of the DSGMC and close confidant of Bhai Ranjit Singh, has made it open that a huge payment of over Rs 1 crore cannot be made by the President of gurdwara committee alone as he is competent to release up to Rs 50,000 only and that too is subject to the approval of the executive committee.

The subcommittee constituted by Akal Takht has recommended payment to Mr Hit who has claimed a compensation of Rs 5 crore for his expenditure on Guru Nanak Khalsa School, New Delhi. The school was controlled by Mr Hit and was handed over to the DSGMC on the directives of Akal Takht in 1998.

The directive of Jathedar Vedanti does not bear the signatures of other Sikh high priests. Interestingly, the entire correspondence between Akal Takht and DSGMC has been done by Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu in his capacity as personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti, though he was removed from the post by the SGPC on serious charges.

Jathedar Vedanti, in his letter addressed to Mr Chandok, has said the payment should be made to implement the previous directive of Akal Takht, pronounced by the then Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh. However, during correspondence with Akal Takht, Mr Harbhajan Singh Matharoo has clearly mentioned that the letter written on the personal letterhead of Bhai Ranjit Singh cannot be termed as directive of Akal Takht. Bhai Ranjit Singh has confirmed that he wrote a letter to the DSGMC in his personal capacity and not as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

The Sikh leaders have expressed surprise over the directives of Jathedar Vedanti for releasing payment to Mr Hit, when he (Jathedar) has, so far, failed to give any directions to Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, working President of the SGPC, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan – both former Akali ministers —to clear the dues worth crores to the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Medical College.


SAD moots body to curtail clergy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 1
In a move apparently aimed at clipping the wings of Jathedar of Akal Takht, Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday mooted a proposal to constitute a religious advisory committee of Sikh intellectuals which would advise the Sikh clergy on religious matters.

Without referring to Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, president of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, who had been absolved of the charges of honouring Union Minister Jagdish Tytler, SAD general secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said certain directives of the Sikh clergy had receive flak from the Sikh masses which was a matter of great concern.

He said the objections raised on edicts was a matter of the great concern which amounted to denigration of great institutions of the Sikhs. He said the proposed advisory committee could save the Sikh clergy from embarrassment.

When his attention was drawn to the advisory committee while had been already constituted by the SGPC, Mr Dhindsa said it stood defunct with the passage of time. Mr Dhindsa was in the city to attend a ‘thanks giving’ function organised by Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, who was recently elected as an SGPC member .

Earlier, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, had stated that Mr Chandok was guilty of honouring Mr Tytler who was allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Dhindsa said due to the landslide victory of the SAD in the parliamentary and SGPC elections, the rival Akali factions should accept Mr Badal as their leader.


Pak cobbler brings 'tilley wali jutti' for PM
Rashmi Talwar

Wagah (Amritsar): A thrilled Mohammed Ali Khan Mallik (73), a schoolmate and friend of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his native village Ghah, tehsil Chakwal, crossed over via the joint check post (JCP) border land route along with a 29- member delegation of members of local councils , here recently.

Mohammed, who is a cobbler by profession, had obtained special permission to accompany a delegation to India, he told The Tribune.

Bringing a warm invitation from all the villagers of Ghah to visit his native land, the cobbler has got a special gift for the Prime Minister —a handcrafted ‘tilley wali jutti’ for him . “I have made the estimate of his (PM’s) foot-size from his television appearances, and if any hitch arises, I am there to rectify it immediately, he said joyfully. “Mein tey apney haatha di jutti pua key hi jani hai” (I will make him wear the footwear I made for him ), he asserts.

Interestingly, the schoolmate is also carrying a carefully laminated photocopy of the primary village school register in which the name of Dr Manmohan Singh is written in Urdu. His admission no in Class 1V was 187. The date of birth is registered as February 4, 1932 (4-2-1932),and the admission date is March 31,1941 (31-3-1941).

Meanwhile, the 29-member delegation, including 15 women members of the various councils from all over Pakistan, left for Delhi after a brief stopover here. Led by Mohammed Abdul Shaboor, national field coordinator for Pattan, an NGO working in Multan and Ms Ayesha Hussain, team leader, also with Pattan, said a majority of them were elected members of the various councils in Pakistan. They said they were here on the invitation of the Institute of Social Sciences, Delhi, and would study the three-tier local bodies system, including Panchayti Raj, block samitis and zila parishads . “The pattern here was working wonderfully and Pakistan is keen to emulate the finer points as both countries' problems and public have almost a common ground,” they said .

“An ordinance passed in this context in Pakistan was as recent as in 2001.So it was still in an experimental stage, while India had the system since 1974-75, informed the Pakistani members.

Significantly, Henry Masih, a minority member of Union Council, Baluchistan, accompanying the delegation admitted that turmoil and terrorism existed in the border between Baluchistan and Afghanistan. On atrocities on minorities there, he said terrorists were committing mayhem on all. Hence minorities were also targeted for committing various heinous crimes.

Looking every bit a Pathan, Khalil Ahmed Somalani, in his national dress from Mach, Bolan district, Baluchistan, a member the Labour Council, said some local development had percolated to his district.

Ms Quasra Shehzadi, member of the district council, Sargoda, said funds given to various local bodies in Pakistan needed to have proper checks and balances.

The delegation would be returning to Pakistan on July 26 after visiting West Bengal, Karnataka , Kerala and Andhra Pardesh.


Acute drinking water crisis in villages: survey
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, August 1
With the condition of waterworks becoming worse and groundwater level dipping, residents of the nearby villages are facing an acute water shortage here. The situation is even worse in Dalit localities.

This has come to light in a survey conducted by a social work organisation, People’s Forum. The forum conducted the survey in Dhilwa Kalan, Siwia, Malke, Sarawa, Panjgarai Kalan, Gondara and Bargadi villages of the Kotkapura block under a project received from the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology.

According to People’s Forum, the waterworks of Dhilwa Kalan, Siwia and Malke were shut down many years ago. Despite having waterworks worth lakhs these villagers were compelled to drink groundwater which had been declared unsafe by the Health Department. Residents of Dhilwa Kalan bring potable water from the Ramsar canal, 3 km from the village, on tractors and other vehicles. But poor Dalit women walk all the way to the village in sweltering heat with earthen pots on their heads.

Though the waterworks of Bargadi, Panjgarai Kalan and Sarawa were in working condition, but they could not provide pure drinking water to all. In the past 28 years, neither the capacity of these waterworks had been increased nor the water supply technique changed. In the Dalit localities of Bargadi, Panjgarai, Sarawa and Gondara, hardly any water was available from these waterworks and no pipeline had been laid in the new localities after the rise in habitation. The poor could not afford water taps in their homes.

According to the report of People’s Forum, the Dalit population of these villages was facing an acute water shortage. While the government had failed in providing safe drinking water in rural areas, the villagers also didn’t join hands to improve the condition of waterworks. The scenario might be worse after the management of these waterworks was handed over to the panchayats. People’s Forum has urged the government to take the necessary measures in this regard.


Villagers getting contaminated water
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 1
Even though the administration is busy finding reasons behind the diarrhoea outbreak at Mari Mustafa village here, villagers are still consuming contaminated hand pump water.

Though the administration has sent water samples for analysis, arrangements for sewage disposal and drinking water are yet to be made. The worst-affected locality, Sehna Patti, is in the same condition as it was five days ago when diarrhoea patients started pouring in at hospitals. The administration had sent only two water tankers a couple of days ago for providing potable water to Sehna Patti residents. They were not even distributed chlorine tablets till yesterday.

Sources said there was a pond near the gurdwara of neighbouring Diwan Patti locality. About five years ago, the panchayat had given a contract for fishing there to generate revenue. The pond was supplied water through a motor after digging a 70-feet-deep bore. A few months ago, a large number of fish had died in the pond and the contractor asked the panchayat to allow him to change the water. In the absence of a water disposal arrangement, the contaminated water was disposed of through the bore after taking the motor off. Sehna Patti residents said the same water got mixed with the ground water, which they were consuming.

Meanwhile, some people are taking undue advantage of the medical camps set up in the village by the administration and have started stocking medicines. Interestingly, a large number of people, including children, could be seen at the Civil Hospital in Baghapurana accompanying patients. Asked, a person revealed that there were long power cuts in villages and to spend a couple of days “comfortably”, he had brought his family members to the hospital.


Getting relief from meditation
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar: People chronically ill, depressed and lethargic, whose ailments doctors are unable to diagnose or treat, could get relief through meditation and prayer in a certain way. This is the concept of Tapowan Ashram, a unique institution for healing the day-to-day problems and chronic physical and mental diseases through Gurbani.

Established in 1978, the institution, situated at Nazabgarh in New Delhi, is being run by Sant Balwant Singh. The institution believes in Gurbani and claims that shabads such as ‘Sarab rog ka aukhad naam’ and ‘Prab kei simran karaj poore’ cure people.

Mr Madanpal Singh Walia, secretary of the institution, who came to Amritsar on a visit, while talking to this correspondent revealed that the ashram organises classes of teachings and techniques on meditation, faith healing and stress-related problems.

He said the ashram tells about the significance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib comprising the teachings of all religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and others. He said Sant Balwant Singh says that Gurbani has the power to cure every disease and heal the soul with spirituality.

Mr Walia claimed that a number of people benefited from this process. He said the institution also helps in promoting society spiritually, socially and economically. He said the Guruwah Trust and Gurmat studies under this ashram also provides shelter to the destitute, old persons and women.

He said the trust was contemplating opening schools, medical dispensaries and hospitals, and cooperative stores for needy persons. There were plans to establish small-scale units for providing employment to the downtrodden, building residential colonies and houses on easy installments for poor people.

The secretary revealed that recently a research institute under Guru Granth Sahib Academy of Religious Studies (a branch of the ashram) was inaugurated by Prof K K Agarwal, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Inderprasth University at New Delhi. He said the Vice-Chancellor had assured to affiliation to the research institute. The Vice-Chancellor and Dr Amarjit Kaur of the university appreciated the efforts of Sant Balwant Singh in the service of humanity, he added.


Punjab biodiversity report approved
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has approved a report of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology on biodiversity.

Funded by the United Nations Development Programme, all states have been directed by the ministry to prepare action plans for the conservation of biodiversity. “This will contribute to formulating the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan”, says Dr Neelima Jerath, Joint Director (Environment) of the council.

Punjab, with an area of 50,362 sq km, has 12 natural wetlands (spread over 8 sq km) and 10 man-made wetlands (147 sq km). The Harike wetlands, the largest man-made wetlands, support 361 bird species. These include 13 rare, eight threatened and nine vulnerable species.

However, the report states that most wetlands are facing problems of excessive overgrowth of hyacinth, increasing pollution, deforestation in the catchment areas, excessive grazing and soil erosion.

Besides, the state has 10 wildlife sanctuaries, including the one at Abohar, and one protected area. The Abohar sanctuary, spread over 13 villages inhabited by the Bishnois, has a good population of blackbucks and neelgai.

About 84 per cent of the area in Punjab is under cultivation and 5.7 per cent under forests. Natural forests are found in the Shivalik ranges in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts; Bir forests in Patiala district; and Mand forests in Amritsar and Kapurthala districts. However, the report says that the Shivalik forests, spread over 9,448 sq km, are extremely prone to biotic pressure. Noxious weed lantana is posing a threat to natural vegetation.

As many as 112 species of fish, 35 species of reptiles, including python and monitor lizard, 400 species of avifauna, and 43 species of wild mammals, including endangered Indian wild dog, jungle cat, red fox, pangolin and striped hyena, have been recorded in the state.

The population of jackals and vultures has shown a decline in the Bindraban and Nandi Bir areas in Dasuya subdivision. The existence of chinkara, flying fox, wolf, clawless otter, leopard cat and long-tailed tree mouse is doubtful, says the report.

Similarly, adjutant stork, flamingo, Himalayan golden eagle, Indian long-billed vulture, Himalayan griffon and shaheen falcon have not been sighted in the state for long.

The study says the state is rich in invertebrate fauna. As many as 198 species of moths, 142 species of butterflies of 14 families, and 296 species of beetles of 21 families have been recorded in the state. Besides, 203 species of trees, 291 of medicinal plants and 350 of weeds have been recorded.

The report underscores the need for setting up breeding and rescue centres and an anti-poaching cell in the state. Not much work has been done on arthropods and the impact of exotic fish species on native ones. Areas in the Shivaliks where red jungle fowl breeds need to be protected. The report has been prepared by Dr Jerath, Ms Puja Nangia, Ms Arshdeep Kaur and Mr Jatinder Chadha.


RCF to supply 32 coaches to Myanmar
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 1
The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) here will manufacture 32 coaches for Myanmar Railways. Purchase order in this regard came from Major General Aung Min, Minister of Rail Transportation, Union of Myanmar, during his visit to the factory here yesterday.

Mr Kyi Thein, Ambassador of Myanmar to India and Myanmar Railways accompanied the minister. Mr O.P. Agarwal, Chief Mechanical Engineer, and other senior officials of the RCF welcomed him.

Salient features of coaches of broad gauge and metre gauge were explained to them.

Concepts like as controlled discharge toilet system, anti-climbing features of centre buffer couplers, disc braking system and roof mounted AC unit with humidity control system adopted in coaches were highlighted.

The minister said that 32 coaches be manufactured for the Myanmar Railways in the first phase.

He said that subsequent orders would follow in the next phase.


MCI sticks to July 31 deadline
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 1
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has reiterated that the last date for admission to the MBBS course was July 31 and it was statutory and mandatory.

In response to a letter by Dr Ujjagar Singh Dhaliwal, Principal, Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences, Amritsar, the Secretary, MCI, Lt-Col (Dr) A.R.N. Setalwad, has said: “Needless to state that there is no scope for any authority not to adhere to the time and schedule for medical admission. I am directed to state that the Medical Council of India is not in a position to accept the contents of the letter of the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, who had claimed that July 31 was not the last date for admission to the MBBS course.

The Secretary, MCI, has further stated: “It is re-emphasised that in accordance with the statutory and mandatory time schedule, all admissions to the MBBS course are required to be completed by July 31, 2004. The teaching and training for the MBBS course for 2004-2005 should commence from August 1. It is only for stray and casual vacancies that the last date is September 30”.

The management of the Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences filled 21 seats of the government quota, also known as open quota yesterday in view of the letter of the MCI.

Dr Dhaliwal told The Tribune today that they had not violated any instructions of the state government and in order to save the institute from financial loss, they had admitted 21 students on a provisional basis.

He said if the Supreme Court allowed the state government to admit students after July 31, “we will abide by the verdict”.

The management or the Christian Medical and Dental colleges, Ludhiana, has challenged the verdict of the Justice G.R. Majithia Committee. The committee had allowed the CMC management to fill 50 per cent quota seats and had stated that the remaining be filled on the basis of the PMET conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.

The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences conducted the PMET today.


Row over election of IMA president
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 1
The names of Dr Lal Chand Bansal and Dr Harinder Singh Ballian have been approved as president and secretary, respectively, of the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) by the state unit of the IMA at its meeting held at Ludhiana on July 25.

On the other hand, on July 25 a group of doctors also conducted election under the banner of the IMA and declared Dr K.G. Singla and Dr Yash Pal Singh as president and secretary, respectively, of the local unit of the IMA.

Talking to TNS here today, Dr Bansal said the state unit of the IMA had already approved the election of local unit of the IMA, now headed by him, so the election of Dr K.G. Singla and Dr Yash Pal Singh as president and secretary, respectively, was against the decision of the state unit of the IMA.

Dr Bansal said as per a communique received from the state secretary of the IMA, Dr R.C. Garg, a petition filed by some local doctors against his election as president and other office-bearers of the local unit of the IMA had been rejected. Dr Garg had also warned the IMA members that those who would violate the decision of the state unit, would invite disciplinary action.

Dr Bansal has appealed to all doctors to sink their differences and come together in the larger interests of the doctors’ community and the IMA.


Atwal gives 5 lakh for dental ambulance
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 1
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh from the MPLAD fund for the purchase of a mobile dental ambulance. Mr Atwal was the chief guest at the installation ceremony of the Rotary Club South-East team here last night.

The remaining cost of the ambulance amounting to Rs 12.5 lakh would be borne and raised by the Rotary Club.

Addressing the function, Mr Atwal asked the NGOs to promote quality education in villages.

Very few IAS officers came from rural areas, he regretted. “Political governments come and go, but the permanent government was provided by the bureaucracy, especially the IAS officers.

‘‘Sponsor education, provide teachers or take other steps to spread education in rural areas so that IAS officers were produced by villages,’’ added Mr Atwal.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, Director, GNA group of Industries and Chairman, GNA-IMT Institute, who was the guest of honour, announced financial aid to two school students adopted by the club, besides providing one computer to the institution.

A former District Rotary Governor of Rotary District, Mr Surendra Seth, installed the new team in which Mr Mohinder Sethi was appointed President and Dr Satnam Singh Parmar Secretary. The Rotary District Governor-designate of District, Mr S.P. Sethi, was also present.

A veteran Rotarian, Mr B.D. Sharma, was adjudged the Best Rotarian of the year.


Pot-holed road, power cuts affect C-Pyte
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 1
The lackadaisical attitude of the Punjab Government in repairing the link road from main Kapurthala-Subhanpur Road to Theh Kanlja village has created problems for the Centre of Training and Employment of Punjab Youth (C-Pyte).

Hundreds of students having training at the center and members of its staff find it difficult to use the road as it is full of craters and pot-holes. The students said their vehicles were getting damaged due to this.

Members of the staff said due to the pathetic condition of the road some students of the centre had got injured in some accidents during the camps. They had to be taken for a medical treatment, available nearest at a distance of 10 km. They said that if the situation did not improve, it could affect fresh admissions to the centre affecting army recruitment training as well as industrial training in the process.

The Punjab Government has not been able to do anything despite the fact that many Chief Ministers, Governors and many ministers, frequently visit the centre. Col Joginder Singh, in charge of the center, said that he had written to the PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, in July last year but to no avail. He said that the minister had himself once visited the center and seen the deplorable condition of the road but no action had been taken even then.

The in charge said that Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister of Sports and Youth Services, had also attended one of the camps recently and had felt bad about the pitiable situation. He said that Mr Kang, too, had personally written to the PWD Minister to look into the matter as the youth were facing problems but again the problem remained.

But it is not just the bad road that is affecting the training programme. While the centre had been sanctioned a 24-hour power supply by the District Planning Board in 1995, the centre was now reeling under severe power shortage with prolonged cuts extending up to 18 hours a day. Due to this, the students said that they were having difficulty in getting drinking water, bathing and washing clothes. They said that the sewage and flush system had also been damaged. They said that many of their fellow campers had left the camps due to denial of basic amenities.

Col Joginder Singh admitted that such a problem existed in the centre. He said that such a problem did not exist earlier as 24 power supply was available to them through an urban feeder. Recently, the PSEB has started additional connections from the same line to neighbouring villages, resulting in a heavy load on feeder and long power cuts to Theh Kanjla camps.

The in charge said that he had recently written to the Chief Engineer of PSEB, Jalandhar, Superintendent Engineer, PSEB, Kapurthala, and Sub-Divisional Officer, PSEB, Kapurthala, urging them to look into the matter.


Play in memory of Mehmood
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 1
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) dedicated the 18th Punjabi Haas Raag Rang programme, including a humorous play ‘Bhagwad Ajjukam’ to the legendary Hindi cinema comedian Mehmood here today.

Paying tributes to the comedy king, the chief guest, Mr Shiv Dhullar Singh Dhillon, ADC, stressed on the need for wit and humour for happy living. The play was directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal.

The cast of the play included Sukhwinder Ram, Sumant Modgil, Jagdish Kumar, Rohit Vohra, Vijay Sharma, Balwinder, Priya Puri, Bavita, Sonia, Geeta and Anju Rani.

The function was presided by Mr Surjit Singh. Prof Kakkar of Barnala was the guest of honour.


Delhi-Sharjah flights
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
Indian Airlines has decided to increase number of flights from Delhi to Sharjah and vice-versa from August 12.

Mr Kamaljeet Singh, Area Marketing Manager, said that flights on the route would be increased from two to four flights a week. He said that the Delhi-Amritsar-Sharjah flights, presently operating on Mondays and Fridays, would operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Mr Kamaljeet said that the Sharjah-Amritsar-Delhi flights, currently operating on Tuesdays and Saturdays, would operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.


Refit centres for officers, jawans
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 1
Taking a cue from the US army, the northern command of the Indian Army has also started an operation to motivate its soldiers in the insurgency hit Jammu and Kashmir. It has opened rest and refit centres at Dalhousie and Srinagar for the soldiers and officers serving in insurgency-hit areas.

Sources in the Army said the idea to start rest and refit centres was conceived by Lt-Gen Hari Prashad.


Tributes paid to Udham Singh
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 1
Tribute was paid to martyr Udham Singh at a function at Sanour here yesterday. The function was inaugurated by State Minister for Rural Development and Irrigation Lal Singh.

Mr Lal Singh said there was a need to spread awareness among people about the sacrifices made by national heroes.

He announced a Rs 1 lakh grant for Udham Singh Memorial Park. Among those present were Chairman of the Warehouse Corporation, Mr Hardiyal Singh Kamboj, ADC (Development) Jaswant Singh Brar and SDM T.P.S Phoolka.


Free ayurvedic camp held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
The Sirhind branch of the Bharat Vikas Parishad organised a free ayurveda camp at Sirhind town today. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, inaugurated the camp.

More than 500 patients were checked by a team of doctors, led by Dr R.C. Jain from Desh Bhagat Ayurvedic College, Mandi Gobindgarh.

According to Mr Vaneet Sharma, president of the parishad, patients were given medicines free of cost.

Dr Harbans Lal said that ayurvedic system has no side-effects.

He appreciated the Bharat Vikas Parishad in serving society and announced a grant of Rs 21,000 for the club.

Mr Vaneet Sharma highlighted various social service projects initiated by the Bharat Vikas Parishad.


Rain brightens crops’ prospects
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
The prospects of normal growth of paddy, cotton and other kharif crops brightened after two hours of heavy rain that lashed this region yesterday. Power cuts were also reduced by the PSEB.

The rain would arrest the drying up of paddy and other crops due to acute shortage of water.

Cotton crop, sown in about 5.5 hectares in the cotton belt of Punjab, had got the maximum benefit from the rain.

Farmers had been using underground water to irrigate cotton and paddy crops even though underground water was unfit for agricultural use due to high fluoride contents.

A central team, which had toured various parts of Punjab to assess the loss being caused to the crops, were of the opinion that the farmers had started suffering losses.


PUDA Act likely to be amended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
The Punjab Government has been contemplating to introduce a Bill in the next assembly session to make amendment in the existing PUDA Act to make it more stringent by incorporating severe punishments for those, who had been violating its provisions by setting up unauthorised colonies.

Disclosing this while addressing a press conference on Friday, the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr A. S. Chatwal, said the state government had been making efforts to check the mushrooming of unauthorised colonies. He added that at present there were about 1500 unauthorised colonies in the state and criminal cases had been registered against 1100 persons, who had set up the same.

Mr Chatwal, who earlier listened to the grievances of the residents of different colonies developed by PUDA, faced embarrassing moments when a section of them alleged that in the local office of PUDA, corruption was the order of day. No file moved without exchange of money. They also alleged that PUDA officials had been depriving basic amenities to their colonies deliberately.

Mr Chatwal assured them that he would look into the matter and action would be taken against the erring officials.

He pointed out that in Bathinda district, about 75 complaints had been forwarded to the police for registration of criminal cases against those, who had been setting up unauthorised colonies. Out of 75, cases against 34 guilty persons had been registered.

He said that a community centre at the cost of Rs 50 lakhs would be set up in the town by PUDA. It would be completed by March 2005.

He said that PUDA had decided to develop colonies for belonging to low-income groups. He said that PUDA had been organising camps in different districts to remove the grievances of residents of the colonies developed by it. He said that all the encroachments on the PUDA land would be removed at all cost.


Inside Babudom
3 international sportsmen among four promoted
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Three international sportspersons of yesteryear -- Paramdeep Singh Teja, Charanjit Kumar and Sarwan Singh -- are among the four Deputy Superintendents promoted as Superintendents of Police in Punjab.

These sportsmen-turned policemen could not have asked for more as the promotions come with the Olympic Games round the corner. Their promotions were cleared by the Departmental Promotion Committee as well as the Chief Minister, who also happens to be the Home Minister.

Paramdeep Singh Teja represented both Punjab and India in basketball while Charanjit Kumar was a member of the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medalist hockey team. Sarwan Singh had been a wrestler of international repute.

In fact, Punjab Police has always remained on the forefront in sports. In the coming Olympic Games, six of its men will be representing the country. They include hockey players Baljit Dhillon and Gagan Ajit Singh and wrestler Palwinder Cheema. While promotions of DSPs to SPs have been ordered, others, including those of Inspectors-General to Additional Directors-General and also of Additional Directors-General to Directors-General have been kept pending.

Mr Parshottam Lal and Mr R.K. Gupta are in line for promotion as Directors-General while Mr J.P. Virdi and Mr Jyoti Trehan are due for promotion as Additional Directors-General in otherwise top heavy Punjab Police.

By the end of this month, Mr V.N. Mathur, on deputation with the Government of India, and belonging to the 1969 batch of the IPS will retire.

Rupan Deol Bajaj

Yesterday, Punjab's seniormost IAS officer, Mrs Gurbinder Chahal, retired as Financial Commissioner, Revenue. Her place will now be taken up by Mrs Rupan Deol Bajaj, who happens to be the seniormost IAS officer in the State after the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill. With her posting as the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, there will be a continuity as she has 17 months to go. She belongs to the 1969 batch. Before her new assignment, Mrs Bajaj had brought the Transport Department out of red, making room for induction of 400 new buses in the fleet of State-owned roadways besides making recoveries of long overdue arrears from various departments.


Road project funds diverted, contractor stops work
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 1
The alleged swindling of funds meant for the Rs 1.61-crore strengthening of the Sansarpur-Jandiala road project has resulted in delay in the completion of the work, causing inconvenience to more than 80,000 residents of 20 villages.

The completion of the project, inaugurated by PWD (B&R) Minister Partap Singh Bajwa amid much fanfare in 2003, seems to be a distant reality as the private contractor had refused to re-start work till the release of payment of pending bills to the tune of about Rs 80 lakh. The project was scheduled to be completed by June 15.

The department had planned to strengthen the 11.39-km stretch on the Sansarpur-Jandiala road to benefit the residents of 20 villages, including Jamsher, Khera, Bhode Saprai, Jandiala, Chananpur, Nanak Pindi, Jagral, Kangniwal and Pandori.

The project was fully assisted by Nabard which had released 20 per cent of the total cost of the project to the state government about seven months ago. Highly-placed sources said that the funds meant for the project were allegedly used for some other purpose by the Ministry of Finance and the same could not be transferred to the PWD (B&R) Department. The Nabard authorities, on the other hand, are demanding a usage certificate for the amount it had already disbursed for the project to release the next instalment. The sources maintained that though the private contractor had spent about Rs 80 lakh, he had not paid a single penny so far.

The contractor started work on December 12 by filling earth and stones as per terms of the tender, but had to abandon the work a month ago when the department expressed its inability to release the payment since the ministry had failed to transfer the funds.

The road falls in Assembly segments represented by ministers Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Amarjit Singh Samra, parliamentary secretary Gurkanwal Kaur and Congress MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal.

“The condition of the road was far better before the strengthening process as it is difficult to walk on stones. Now, I have to cover an extra distance of 3 km to reach Jamsher village via Saprawan village,” Mr Kulwinder Singh, a farmer of Divali village, said.

Superintending Engineer, J.P. Chander admitted that the contractor had left the work midway following non-payment of dues. “We had already written to the higher authorities in this regard and the work will resume after getting the funds released,” he said.


Child sacrificed?
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 1
A suspected case of human sacrifice came to light near here today. The body of a two-year-old boy was found near a canal at Bhullarai village.

The legs, arms and the sexual organ of the boy were chopped off. There was a hole in the head as if made by a hot iron rod. The legs were amputated from exactly the same place with precision. A black cloth was found stuffed in the mouth. A coconut, a “mauli” (ceremonial red and white thread), a piece of red cloth, a veil, a pitcher and some other related materials were found placed near it.

The body appeared to be freshly buried. However, some animal had dug it and villagers informed the police on noticing it. The police took the body to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara, for a post-mortem.

Villagers are offended over this inhuman act of child sacrifice. This act could have been perpetrated either by some childless woman or a tantrik, they said.

Asked whether it was a case of child sacrifice, the local DSP, Mr Jaspal Singh, said he could not say anything at this stage.


Travel agent arrested on rape, abduction charges

Amritsar, August 1
The Sadar police has arrested Satnam Singh (55), a travel agent and resident of the Majitha Road area, who has 10 children from earlier two marriages, for allegedly abducting, raping and keeping a girl in illegal detention for a month.

The case was later handed over to the Vijay Nagar police where a case under Sections 363, 366, 376 and 342 of the IPC, has been registered.

The girl, in her complaint, alleged that the accused had lured her on the pretext of getting her a decent job. However, later he tortured her, she added. He then raped her a number of time. She alleged that Satnam Singh forcibly clicked a number of photographs in marriage costumes with her, besides taking her signatures on blank papers. He used to keep her in a locked room.

After a tip-off, the police raided the house and arrested Satnam Singh here late last evening. In the meanwhile, she somehow escaped from the rented house of the accused and reached her house.

Police sources said that Satnam Singh faced a number of fraud cases registered at various police stations.


Bid to loot LIC office
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
Security officials of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and people present foiled an attempt to loot Rs 2 lakh in cash and revenue stamps Rs 7,000 here yesterday.

Two persons running away with the cash and revenue stamps were caught even before they could move out of the building, other two members of the gang escaped. The two looters who were arrested have been identified as Swaran and Satyawar, residents of Andhra Pradesh.

LIC officials said that two persons came to the office and started asking about insurance schemes from a woman officer on cash counter number 13. In the meantime, Swaran, came up and drew out the cash box lying under the table of the officer and put it in his handbag.

Some officials of the LIC watched this happen and they ran after Swaran who was caught by people in the complex.


Farid varsity PMET: result likely today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 1
The Pre-Medical Entrance test (PMET) conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Faridkot ended today. As many as 8,147 candidates appeared in the test at 40 sub-centres set up in five cities, Amritsar, Faridkot, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

According to reports, the Punjab Government had appointed five Central Observers, Dr Amarjit Singh Gill, Principal, Government Dental College Amritsar (Amritsar), Dr J.S. Dalal, Principal, Government Medical College Amritsar (Jalandhar), Dr R.L. Jain, Principal, Government Dental College Patiala (Patiala), Dr Surinder Singh, Principal, Government Medical College Patiala (Ludhiana) and Dr H.L. Kajal, Head, Medicine Department, Government Medical Guru Gobind Singh Medical College (Faridkot).

In addition to it the Government also deployed 50 senior doctors as Central Supervisors at all subcentres.

In Faridkot an 11-member team, including Dr P.S. Sandhu, Dr Hemlata, Dr Samarjit Singh, Dr G.S. Ahir and Dr Shublata headed by Dr H.L. Kajal, handle 1,225 aspirants at the five sub centres at Baba Farid Public School and Dashmesh Public School.

To maintain secrecy in the evaluation of answersheets the state Government deputed Dr A.S. Thind, Joint Director Medical Education Research and Mr Priayank Bharti, SDM, Jaito, in this district as the special observes at the University.

Both the senior Officers were also empowered by the state Government to get the result evaluated from outside the university campus if they found any problem in the software working there (university).

In addition to the university the Central Observers would send separate report about the test and other related matters. The result of the PMET is likely to be announced tomorrow.


Suspended Registrar says paper he taught discontinued
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 1
The former Registrar of Punjabi University, Dr K S Sidhu, who is under suspension, alleges that the university has discontinued teaching of the paper “Area Studies-South Asia and Indian Ocean” to post graduate students since it was his area of specialisation.

The university authorities, however, said the paper Dr Sidhu was referring to was an optional subject. Moreover, the decision to discontinue it was taken at the department level.

In a letter to Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai, Dr Sidhu has said in the contemporary security environment, South Asian and Indian Ocean region are of a strategic significance and the most important area of research. Depriving students of Defence and Strategic Studies of this paper will affect their overall perspective of the subject.

The suspended teacher has said since none of the teachers in the department are capable of teaching this option, a teacher from the sister university or a retired teacher may be engaged on a part-time basis till an alternative arrangement is made.

Dr Sidhu has requested that the department be instructed to impart education on this important option in the larger interest of students.


Exhibition at Blossoms School
Our Correspondent

Patiala: Blossoms School on Sunday organised an exhibition on its premises. Models and projects created by students in the social arts literature and Punjabi culture were displayed on the occasion.

Students were seen displaying a model of Hawai island with number of volcanoes, hydro-electric power station, pollution free bus stand and working models of circulatory and respiratory system.

In addition to this, envelopes, greeting cards, photo frame and shopping bags made from re-cycled paper were also displayed. Along with this, models of Sun Temple, Great Wall of China, EVM, cultivation of crops and rain water harvesting were also exhibited.


BSc course may get the nod
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 1
Mr Jatinder Kumar Agra, Development Secretary, Old Student Association of Nehru Memorial College, today said that the Punjabi University authorities were likely to allow the college authorities to run bachelor degree classes in science courses, including medical and non-medical streams, from the current academic session.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Agra said that an indication to this effect was given by a team of Punjabi University, Patiala, that had carried out an inspection of Nehru Memorial College of permitting it to run the B.Sc. classes in medical and non-medical streams. He added that the Punjab Government had already given permission.

He said that students of this town and its surrounding areas had to go to other colleges located at far away laces for doing their graduation in medical and non-medical streams after competing class XII from this college. With the start of graduation classes, the long-standing demand of students of this area would be met.


Law classes start today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 1
After the clearance by the state Government, Punjabi University Patiala and the Bar Council of the India, New Delhi, the first session of the law classes of the three and five-years degree course at the local Baba Farid Law College, being set up by the Baba Farid and Gurdwara Godri Sahib here, will start from tomorrow.

Mr Alok Shekhar Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot will inaugurate the classes, said Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, chairman of the management committee, 147 candidates had already got the admission and more were pouring. The management had provided all the text books, free of cost to the students. In addition the management has also waived of Rs 21,500 as security and a special concession to each student against the total fee of Rs 50,000 prescribed by the Punjabi University.

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