punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


TOP STORIES


 

Don’t extradite Kohli, says CBI ex-chief Joginder Singh
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 17
A former director of the CBI, Mr Joginder Singh, today said since Maninderpal Singh Kohli is a citizen of India, he should not be extradited to the UK at all. Mr Joginder Singh added that normally, a citizen of a nation is not sent to a foreign country to face a criminal trial. ‘‘India should ask for the all the evidence relating to the case and try Kohli here,’’ he said.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Joginder Singh said in several cases the UK government had not cooperated with Indian authorities. ‘‘It is remarkable that in the Kolhi case, India is ready to throw out one of its citizens to face a criminal trial in another nation. There are cases where our citizens wanted for various crimes in India had run off to the UK and the government there refused to give them to us. These persons were not even UK citizens. Nadeem Saifi is wanted in the case of the killing of music baron, Gulshan Kumar. He is an Indian citizen, wanted for a crime committed here, but is living in the UK on one pretext or the other. He is avoiding the Indian police for obvious reasons, but give me one reason why the UK government is not throwing him out of their country?’’ he said.

‘‘As Director General, Narcotics, CBI, we wanted Iqbal Mirchi from the UK, but no help from them was forthcoming. On the other hand, when these countries want their criminal citizens from us, they leave no stone unturned to exert pressure of all varieties— political, social, even emotional, to get their man. When the UK wanted to get Peter Bleach released from his sentence in the Purulia arms dropping case, their foreign minister Robin Cook met his Indian counterparts to release Bleach. Our politicians were left with no choice but to do it,’’ he said.

Contrary to this, the stand of Indian politicians and diplomats on the issue of extradition of criminals has been non-serious if not outright soft. ‘‘We have never backed our demands with national pride. We should do some hard talking with nations from where we want our criminals,’’ pointed out Mr Joginder Singh.

Talking about the extradition Act and the various treaties that govern movement of criminals from one nation to another, Mr Joginder Singh said that there was a need for international laws on extradition. ‘‘All extradition issues or throwing out of a wanted criminal from a country are governed by bilateral treaties. India has such agreements with 19 countries, including the UK. The UK should first furnish all evidence in the Kohli’s case so that his trial can begin in India. We cannot extradite an Indian national to face trial abroad. This has been the policy of the Ministry of External Affairs and almost every nation in the world,’’ he said.

 

Punjab refuses to hike sales tax on diesel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
While Punjab the Government today refused to enhance sales tax on diesel, various state governments have laid down conditions for implementing VAT in their respective areas, thus making things difficult for the Centre to enforce the same. The Centre has announced to enforce VAT across the country from April 1 next year.

Informed sources said that the issue to enhance sales tax on diesel came up at a meeting held in Delhi of the empowered committee set up by the Centre to sort out various fiscal problems and disputes related to the states. The committee’s chairman, Mr Ashim Das Gupta, Finance Minister of West Bengal, asked Punjab to raise sales tax on diesel from the existing 8 per cent to 20 per cent that is the minimum rate approved by the committee for all states.

However, Punjab’s Finance Minister Surinder Singla said that it was not possible to do so as the farming community and truckers would be affected with the raising of sales tax on diesel in a big way. He urged the committee, that had decided and enforced floor rates of sales tax for over 200 goods across the country two years ago, to exempt Punjab on this count. While Punjab charges 8 per cent tax on diesel, it is 14 per cent in Haryana. In most of the states it is 20 per cent. When West Bengal enforced 20 per cent tax on diesel, it led to a strike there a few months ago.

Mr Singla told The Tribune on the phone from Delhi that at the meeting he opposed the deferment of sales tax on products of the oil refinery to be set up at Bathinda. Punjab would suffer a loss of Rs 8000 crore on deferment of sales tax for 15 years. It was not acceptable. While the Petroleum Ministry was to invest only Rs 5000 crore on the refinery, it was asking Punjab to suffer a loss of Rs 8000 crore. On Mr Singla’s suggestion, the committee has now decided to take up this issue with the Union Finance Minister and also with the Petroleum Ministry. Almost all states are supporting Punjab and MP on this issue. One refinery is to be set up in MP.

At today’s meeting the issue of VAT dominated. Finance Ministers of various states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa were of the view that while states were being forced to make a firm commitment on implementing VAT, the Central Government was not giving any assurance to states in this connection. States have several apprehensions, which they wanted that the Centre should remove, before the implementation of VAT.

 

News Analysis
Where is the money for investor-friendly Punjab?
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, August 17
Infrastructure is one of the seven sectors on which the Prime Minister has desired states to focus on for higher economic growth and more equitable social development. The other six are agriculture, water, education, health, employment and urban renewal.

Where does Punjab figure in this, since Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh wants the state to be an investor-friendly destination?

The Chief Minister's customary write-up—Punjab on the path of resurgence—for the Independence Day newspaper supplements has one paragraph on infrastructure. Therein, he has talked of taking up at least 12 new road ''corridors'' measuring 870 km on built-operate-transfer basis, public-private partnership, role of and projects of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board,network of 42,000 km of rural link roads and their repair. He concludes by giving us a figure of Rs 493 crore, the government intends to spend on infrastructure in the current financial year. A tall order! Where is the money?

The investment climate in Punjab is of ''moderate quality''. Much needs to be done in terms of policy, regulatory measures and institutional factors. Both the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and World Bank surveys in 2000 and 2003 are a pointer to the fact that among high-income states, Punjab figures somewhere in the middle. The government's investor-friendly policy stance made headlines in 2002. That perception has now changed and ground realities showed there was not much of change between 2000 and 2003.

Since roads are an important segment of infrastructure, besides power, all available studies and surveys have pointed out that road sector in Punjab has not kept pace with the demands. Even World Bank's Punjab Development Report-2004 has endorsed this. Though the state has the

highest road density, its geographical location away form ports was a disadvantage. And the state's good rural link roads network, looked after by funds coming from the Mandi Board at a tax rate of 4 per cent of the value on crop sales was in a shambles.

Notwithstanding the claims of the Chief Minister in his August 15 write-up on repair of this network by spending Rs 185 crore on 4,991 km out of 42,000 km, the fact was that the state is broke and the expected money was not forth coming from any source so far. The state's national highway segment of 1,720 km or its own district roads too were in bad shape under heavy traffic strain and starved of funds.

Besides poor quality infrastructure, systemic problems continued to distance entrepreneurs. Regulatory burden was primarily to be blamed, as the World Bank has observed. The need was for simpler rules, regulations and procedures for quick clearance of industrial projects. Once a unit was established and commissioned, it was further burdened by paper-work and inspector raj. Even flexible labour laws were needed.

The general impression was that for any sustainable economic development, based on seven priority sectors, Punjab has to train its youth for techno-savvy jobs by imparting appropriate skills and knowledge. There is a string of ITIs, which, however, suffer from several deficiencies not uncommon to public sector institutions.

If for the desired economic growth infrastructure is imperative, so is trained manpower to make the state investor-friendly. It was, therefore, important that in ITIs the existing out-dated, irrelevant curricula and obsolete equipment and machinery was replaced. Such proposals have been submitted to the state several times over by the CII and other experts but to no avail. The sad part was that ITI-trained youth were either unemployed or under-employed, which reflects on the quality of education and training imparted to them.

 

Farmers, power employees hold demonstrations
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 17
It was a day of protests in Moga with the Kirti Kisan Union and Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) staff holding demonstrations at opposite ends of the city.

The Kirti Kisan Union’s indefinite dharna entered into 12th day today. About 500 farmers stormed into the administrative complex and gheraoed the DC’s office. Angry over the “indifferent” attitude of the district administration towards their demands, the union members raised slogans against the state government and the Deputy Commissioner.

The union leaders were demanding proper water and power supply to the region’s farmers. They demanded that the state be declared drought-hit and the farmers be given a compensation of Rs 15,000 per acre. Farmers from Jalandhar, Amritsar, and Gurdaspur participated in the protest. The police force was out with full preparation to prevent any untoward incident.

Later, a delegation of the union met the DC, Mr Mandeep Singh.

On the other hand, the PSEB employees’ union members protested in front of the 132 kv sub-station on the Ludhiana road. They were protesting against the alleged misbehaviour with their delegation by the Deputy Commissioner. They demanded that the FIR lodged against the Junior Engineer, Jarnail Singh, be cancelled immediately. However, the union members dropped their plan to block traffic on Moga-Ludhiana highway after the SDM, Mr G.S. Gill, and the DSP (City),Mr Jatinder Singh, assured them on the behalf of the DC and the SSP that a meeting would be held on August 19 to resolve the issue.

An FIR was lodged against the JE in an incident in which two persons were killed when a transformer got burnt at Akalsar Chowk here in May. Out of these two victims one was the son of a police constable.

Sources said the district administration was in no mood to cancel the FIR against the JE concerned as it had been lodged following a magisterial probe.

 

Farmers go for early maturing paddy
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 17
Contrary to recommendations of the Agriculture Department, farmers of the region had grown ‘satha’ variety of paddy which has lowered water level. But farmers prefer it as ‘satha’ requires only 70-80 days to mature enabling the farmers to make money.

Farmers’ move has affected quality of rice in the state. It may also affect rice export to neighbouring states and foreign countries. The Punjab Agricultural University also doesn’t recommend this variety of paddy and the ones it does take 160-170 days to ripe. Farmers of the region start paddy sowing two months after harvesting wheat crop in April. They also prefer ‘Govinda’, another variety, which matures in 60-80 days. ‘Govinda’ is sown on sizeable area in Faridkot district this year. According to farm experts, quality of this variety of rice is poor and is not palatable. Another reason of farmers’ preference for this variety is that they sow it in April when there is no shortage of power. After harvesting this crop farmers sow ‘basmati’ and in this way they have three crops in a year. Farmers say that the yield from better paddy varieties is only 22 to 23 quintals an acre, whereas ‘satha’ and basmati’s yield touches 50 quintals an acre.

Traders also reap benefits of this crop as these days they are buying ‘satha’ variety at Rs 500-520 a quintal. Last year the government fixed paddy price at Rs 580 per quintal. Traders now are storing this paddy.

Chief Agriculture Officer Bakhshish Singh Chahal, said the farmers were told about the losses this variety could cause to the state, but they were inclined towards it.

 

Panel satisfied with Golden Temple’s upkeep
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Prof Eman-ul-Haq, one-man commission of UNESCO, was satisfied with the upkeep of the Golden Temple by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Prof Haq’s observation has been positive.

At meetings here with the SGPC the Prof showed interest in conservation plans and tasks of experts to preserve the monument, said Ms Kiranjot Kaur, a member of the SGPC, who was present at the meeting.

Ms Kiranjot has prepared a three-volume dossier on the Sikh heritage for the status of world heritage site by UNESCO.

She said the UNESCO commission also showed interest in Sikh museum and Sikh library on the Golden Temple premises. Prof Haq said, “the Golden Temple is a well-known monument in the world ”.

He would submit his assessment report on the Golden Temple in September. Due to rain he could not survey the buffer zone surrounding the temple.

The commission clarified that though UNESCO extended expert help for conservation it did not interfere in any other manner. The commission would forward its recommendations, based on historical, cultural and architectural factors, to the International Council on Monuments and sites (ICOMS/UNESCO). Focus areas during the visit till August 19, comprehensive assessment of buffer zone, the core zone, approach roads, historical and cultural facade of surrounding buildings. The UNESCO commission was holding a meeting with the district administration till the filing of the report.

As per UNESCO guidelines a monument to be included in the heritage list needs to have two zones besides clear approaches leading to it and no industry around.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has already scrapped the elevated road project in this connection. The fate of multistoreyed parking complexes near the temple, is vague due to UNESCO guidelines and other factors.

 

Two Kashmiri boys released from Pak jail

Wagah, August 17
Two Kashmiri children, who strayed into Pakistan from Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir about three months ago, were today released from Pakistani jail and sent back to India. The duo Allah-U-Deen (14) and Shakeel Ahmad (12), students of Classes IV and II, respectively, of a Kupwara school, had crossed into Pakistan by mistake on May 28.

The two were today handed over by the Pakistani Rangers to Indian officials at this joint border post. However, the parents or any of the family members of the children could not reach here to receive them. — UNI

 
 

Rori is Garhshankar CPM candidate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Punjab unit of the CPM has decided to put up Mr Mahan Singh Rori, a trade union leader, as party candidate for the byelection to be held for the Garhshankar Assembly constituency.

The election is expected to be held in September. Prof Balwant Singh, Secretary of the state unit of the CPM, making an announcement in this connection today said that the party had a stronghold in the area.

 

Sangrur district library falls on bad days
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 17
The district library here is in a bad shape due to its poor financial health as well as poor maintenance by the authorities concerned. Besides, the library has also been facing a shortage of staff for the past several years.

One can easily assess the poor financial health of the library from the fact that it has not made payments to its three newspaper agents since July 2001, due to which it now requires about Rs 40,000 to clear the bills of newspapers and magazines. It is also learnt that the library authorities, under these circumstances, were compelled to reduce the number of magazines and newspapers it was getting. At present, the library authorities are purchasing six newspapers, against nine two months ago, and seven magazines, against 10 also two months ago.

Sources said the library received only Rs 20,000 per annum as contingency fund, which was insufficient, as Rs 15,000 was spent on depositing the electricity bills of the library every year. While the remaining amount of Rs 5,000 was insufficient to make the payments for newspapers and magazines and meet other contingency expenses, including printing of stationery for the library. Besides, a meagre amount was being received annually by the library authorities for the purchase of books.

A shortage of staff is evident as library books are being issued by two class IV employees at the library. There are two sanctioned posts of librarian, one of which has been lying vacant for the past many years while the library has no post of a restorer which is the primary necessity of every library for arranging the books. Besides a librarian, the library is being run by two class IV employees, who in the absence of the librarian, look after it.

The library has more than 5,000 members. It also has thousands of books, including old manuscripts and precious books. It is claimed that nearly 100 readers visit this library daily to read the newspapers or get books issued. Like other libraries of the state, this library too, has no telephone facility so far.

Visitors to the library feel that it is not maintained properly by the PWD and Public Health Department authorities. Broken glasses on the grills of the library are an example of the indifferent attitude of the maintenance agencies.

The toilet on the library premises is also in a bad shape. It is lying dirty due to leakage of water. Furniture in the library is also old and seems to be insufficient as no separate table is available to scholars and researchers to study books undisturbed. Some of the old big almirahs are also in a bad shape as these have not been repaired for a long time due to shortage of funds. Besides, the book racks are also in a broken condition.

It is learnt that whitewashing and painting of doors have not been done for the past about a decade. The roofs of the first floor of the building also leak when it rains.

 

PRTC to upgrade bus stands for revenue
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
The cash-strapped Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), which has been unsuccessfully demanding a fare revision for the past few years, has now decided to offset the loss being suffered by it on this account as well as an increase in salaries by upgrading its bus stands across the state on commercial lines.

The corporation will, however, have to borrow money to create more business avenues in its nine bus stands, all of which are slated for an upgrade. It has initiated a survey of the new facilities, which are needed to jack up revenue in its bus stands.

Talking to TNS, the Chairman, PRTC, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, said the corporation was likely to suffer a loss of Rs 8 crore due to an increase in diesel prices as well as the merger of dearness allowance of the field staff. He said the upgrade of bus stands and creation of a new bus stand in Patiala were likely to generate a similar revenue.

Giving details, Mr Gupta said the corporation had earlier decided to upgrade its bus stand at Phagwara at a cost of Rs 2 crore. A report commissioned in this regard had indicated that the revenue of its upgraded bus stand would increase by Rs 1 crore annually through the move. He said the scheme would now be tried at other bus stands as well and be implemented in the construction of a new bus stand in Patiala.

Mr Gupta said the state government had given its permission to the creation of a new bus stand in Patiala and the corporation had already tied up with various banks to finance the Rs 10-crore project. He said the scheme had, however, been delayed with the Atma Ram Kumar Sabha School management, whose playground was identified for the new location, not parting with its land. He said according to the plan of the Patiala Development Authority, the school was to be given a piece of land on the Kedar Nath Mandir premises for development of a new playground in lieu of its present ground.

Mr Gupta said the present bus stand here had become very congested and needed to be shifted. He said it had been decided that the PRTC would give its present site to the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) in lieu of the new site. PUDA was expected to develop the site as well as make the entrance to the city more spacious, he added.

Speaking about the fare hike, Mr Gupta said the PRTC had been consistently asking for a fare hike for the past two years but without any result. He said he had recently moved a request for the hike to the Transport Department, which had cleared it. The case was likely to be put before the Council of Ministers soon.

The Chairman said though the corporation was taking steps to generate resources, it was difficult for it to survive unless the fares were hiked, keeping in view the fares in neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

 

Stick to rules, doctors tell PPSC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
A section of the doctors has urged the Punjab Public Service Commission authorities concerned to stick to the mandatory rules and regulations framed by the Medical Council of India to fill the vacant posts of medical teachers in Government Medical Colleges in the state.

In a representation submitted to the PPSC, doctors have drawn the attention of the authorities concerned that the MCI regulations say that the teacher to be appointed in any medical college should have an MCI-recognised postgraduation degree such as M.D.

Doctors have alleged that in recent years those postgraduates have been recruited as teachers who were without an MCI-recognised postgraduation degree. Doctors have also sent a copy of regulations recommended by the MCI for appointment of teachers to the commission.

The matter was also taken up with the Punjab Government by the in-service wing of the Indian Medical Association, Punjab. The association has threatened that it would file a contempt of court in the Supreme Court if the Punjab Government failed to give instructions to the PPSC to make recruitment strictly following the MCI regulations. The association said that the MCI guidelines had been upheld by the Supreme Court in a case pertaining to Karnataka state.

The association has also submitted a memorandum to the Secretary, Medical Education, Mr Satish Chandra, in this connection.

 

Fair in freedom fighter’s memory concludes
Our Correspondent

Dalla (Pathankot), August 17
A two-day fair in the memory of Ram Singh Pathania, a great freedom fighter of the nineteenth century, concluded here today amid torrential rains.

Pathania, son of the late Raja Prithvi Singh, represented the unbridled spirit of the people and threw a challenge to the British empire. He collected brave youngmen like himself, mostly from his own family and from the Jammu hills, and occupied the Shahpur fort near here. He proclaimed by the beat of drum that the English rule had ceased. When this news spread, a small force was at once sent by the British rulers. Pathania and his companions left the Shahpur fort at night and took position on a wooden range close to the fort.

Shortly afterwards, Johan Lawrence, British Commissioner of Punjab, and the District Officer gathered larger reinforcements and stormed the position. Pathania and his men were routed and he was obliged to take shelter in a Sikh camp.

In January 1849, he returned and took position near Tika of Dalla, a rocky ridge of the Shivalik, near here. The position was strong, hence a force under General Wheeler was sent against Pathania. A bloody contest ensued and Pathania was dispossessed after considerable loss on both sides. Two young British officers were among those killed, one of them a nephew of the British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel.

Incidentally, Pathania’s brave resistance finds mention on the monument still existing on the summit of the Dalla Dhar range. Ram Singh was soon afterwards betrayed by a friend, it is said.

 

Trains stranded on flooded tracks

Gurdaspur, August 17
Four passenger trains were stranded on the Amritsar-Pathankot section as this border town was flooded due to heavy rainfall since today morning.

While Jammu-bound Jammu Tawi Express from Ferozepore was held at the railway station here since 10 a.m. due to water overflowing the track, Tata Moori Express and Ravi Express were stranded at Dhariwal railway station since 10.15 a.m. Amritsar-bound diesel multiple unit (DMU) had to be detained at Dinanagar at 12.30 p.m. and had not moved when the last report came in.

Almost two-third of this border town was flooded up to by three feet water due to downpour which began at 7.30 a.m. All basements in residential and business areas were flooded.

Situation worsened when dewatering pumps shut off due to power cut at 9 a.m. The dewatering operation could be resumed only after Municipal Committee president Raman Behl spoke to Punjab State Electricity Board chairman Y.S. Ratra who ordered resumption of power supply to hard-hit areas of the town.

Onkar Nagar locality was still marooned in three feet of water as policemen made a relief cut in the boundary wall of the Police Lines to eject water which threatened their living quarters, witnesses said.

Besides, Adarsh Nagar and rear side of the Geeta Bhavan road also remained under two to three feet of water because of choking of drains late this afternoon. — UNI

 

Govt not keen to give relief to flood-hit: Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 17
The General Secretary of the SAD, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today alleged that the state government had no interest in giving compensation to the flood-affected people of Patiala and Sangrur district.

Addressing a meeting of party workers here, he said the government was delaying girdawari by saying that flood water was yet to clear from the affected areas, whereas in some areas farmers had again started sowing paddy. He said the government was of the view that in such cases there would be no basis for compensation as the assessment of the damage could not be undertaken.

He said in 500 flood-affected villages 13 persons died, 1,400 heads of cattle perished and over one lakh acres of standing crop had been completely destroyed. He lamented that medical teams had yet to reach affected areas.

 

Encroachments galore in Faridkot
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 17
Illegal encroachments are on the rise in the city even as the administration is yet to take any step to check these. The current trend in the town reveals that most of these encroachments are done on Sundays as government officials have their day off on that day. A shopkeeper on the Talwandi road encroached on a part of the road last Sunday, but no action has been taken against him. Encroachments are on the rise on the railway road as well. A large number of encroachments have come up on the road leading from the grain market to the Talwandi road. People here first build a ‘jhuggi’, which later becomes a shop. They then rent out these shops. The encroachments are also being done at the Nehru Shopping Centre, Hukki Chowk, Circular Road, and Kotkapura road.

Temporary encroachments create problems for people as rickshaw-pllers, rehriwallas, and taxi owners occupy most of the road, which leads to frequent traffic jams, especially when the school breaks for the day. In the main market, shopkeepers charge rehriwallas between Rs 1,000 and 3,000 per month for occupying the space in front of their shops. The shopkeepers have encroached on the road in front of their shops.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, said the Municipal Council was responsible to check these encroachments. On the other hand, the Executive Officer of the MC, Mr Vijay Kumar, said the encroached land either belonged to the state government or the state highway, but still, if the DC ordered, they would remove the encroachments.

 

Kidnapped boy rescued
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 17
The police rescued a teenaged boy who was kidnapped from Ludhiana on Friday. The boy is a son of an assistant professor of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Mr Jasvinder Singh.

The boy, Parminder Singh alias Rimpy, said some unidentified persons, who came in a black Cielo car, kidnapped him from outside his house in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of Rs 50 lakh from Rimpy’s family and asked them to deliver the amount to a brick-kiln near Chadik village in Moga.

The family informed the police about the incident. The police set up road blocks and kept a close watch on vehicles entering and leaving the city. Various city hotels were also raided.

The police found Rimpy at Heaven’s View hotel. However, the hotel’s manager said Rimpy walked into the hotel all alone on Saturday.

 

She has given ‘special’ children  a reason to smile
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, August 17
It is not easy to describe a person like Bibi Satwant Kaur. A philanthropist, an agriculturist, an entrepreneur, a sarpanch or just a gutsy rural woman. Howsoever, way you choose to see her, there is no doubt that she is one woman who believes in living life on her own terms.

From a hapless 40-year- old widow left alone to face virtual penury to a self-established entity with an income running into multiple figures, Satwant Kaur’s life has come a full circle.

This 70-year-old sarpanch, of Sular near Patiala, who lives alone in her house adjoining her fields and dairy in the village, is perhaps, best known for her contribution to the cause of special children.

She has given the mentally challenged across the region a reason to smile. Not only has she donated two acres of prime agricultural land to Navjivini - a school which imparts special education to the mentally handicapped and Sadhu Basant Residential Care - a home for mentally challenged persons, she has earmarked another two acres for the establishment of Bal Bhavan here.

Deeply respected by the people around her, ‘Bibiji’ as she is fondly called, is both loved and feared for her candour and outspokenness.

Satwant Kaur does not mince words that in the event of any child being maltreated here, she would simply “shoot everyone dead”. She makes it a point to visit both centres regularly and is actively involved in all activities undertaken by them.

As far as funds are concerned, Satwant Kaur believes in carrying the show single-handedly. She has set up a trust from her savings which caters to not only these institutions, but also is a host of other NGOs.

 

PM urged to release 3 postage stamps
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
The International Bhai Mardana Yadgiri Kirtan Darbar Society today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release three postage stamps of Gurdwara Goindwal Sahib, Golden Temple and Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, on the occasion of the centenary celebrations.

These include 500th centenary celebrations of Guru Angad Dev at Khadoor Sahib, 400th centenary celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib and 300th centenary celebrations of the martyrdom day of four sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh to be held in December.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society in a memorandum to the PM, also demanded a special package for the centenary celebrations. He said that the Pakistan government had already announced to celebrate 400th centenary celebrations on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev in 2006 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore. He said the Pakistan government had also declared to release a postage stamp in this regard.

 

Rs 1.18 cr for CM Relief Fund
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Local Government Minister, Punjab, Mr Jagjit Singh, today presented a cheque of Rs 1.18 crore to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here today towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to provide financial aid to the flood-affected persons in the state.

The Chief Minister also released a brochure of the proposed ‘Rajiv Gandhi Vihar’ to be undertaken for the downtrodden sections of society by the Improvement Trust, Jalandhar. The proposed Rs 5.88 crore project would include 370 double-storeyed houses for the economically weaker sections at a nominal cost of Rs 2 lakh each.

 

Cable operators go on indefinite strike
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 17
Cable operators of Punjab have decided to go on an indefinite strike from today to lodge their protest against bringing them under the service tax net.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Sunny Gill, President of the Punjab Cable TV Network Association, said imposition of service tax on cable TV operators was uncalled for and unjustified as the cable TV operation was even a smaller industry that the small scale industries. “Moreover, we are already paying entertainment tax. On the other hand, cable operators are already loosing financially for hike of rates by broadcasters who get almost 70 per cent share of the total amount collected by a cable operator, said Mr Gill.

 

Amritsar to have tourism police
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Tourists visiting the city and not knowing whom to contact for information will soon have tourism police to guide them.

In view of the 400th centenary celebrations of installation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the district police will launch a 50-member squad of tourism police on August 29. This was announced by Mr S.K. Sharma, IG Jalandhar zone, at a press conference held here today.

Mr Sharma, while addressing the mediapersons, said that about 40-50 lakh devotees from India and abroad were coming to the holy city to attend the centenary celebrations organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the Punjab Government and other religious organisations from August 29 to September 1. He said tourism police would help the devotees by giving them necessary information and sorting out their problems.

He said the tourism police would be deployed at five locations — the airport, bus stand, railway station, Wagah border and the Golden Temple. He said the men would be trained for one week in association with the Tourism Department. He said the number could be increased according to requirement. Mr Sharma said about 7,000 policemen and women would be deployed during the celebrations.

 

Gold plating of Durgiana Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
About five kilos of gold has been used to prepare gold leaf for the gold plating work at Sri Durgiana Temple. The first phase of the gold plating has nearly been completed.

Mr Surinder Arjun, working president of the Sri Durgiana Management Committee, who is supervising the project, said the second phase of gold plating was started today.

The covering of the main dome of temple, some walls and main door to the sanctum sanctorum are to be covered with gold leaf. The entire process would be completed by Janmashtami.

 

Donating blood for 14 years
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul (Bathinda): Mr Pawan Mehta, a local resident, has been donating blood at regular intervals since 1990 to save valuable human lives. An employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), 48-year-old Mehta has donated blood 53 times in the past 14 years apart from performing his official duties well.

Mr Mehta, who is the secretary of the Blood Donors Council, Rampura Phul and general secretary of Seva Bharti, Rampura, has also been promoting the blood donation movement in urban and rural areas of this region.

He has been honoured by prominent personalities and politicians, including former Irrigation Minister, Punjab, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, in 1998-99, a former Education Minister, Punjab, Mr Mohan Lal, in 2000, a former Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, in 2001, and the MLA, Rampura Phul, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, in 2002, for his contribution in the field of blood donation. Talking to TNS, he said he got inspiration from Pritam Singh, an artist, to be part of the blood donation movement. He said though a number of organisations had honoured him for his efforts, the PSEB, which he had been serving for the past many years, was yet to give him any credit for his service to society.

 

Vajra AWWA week begins
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 17
A week-long celebrations of the Vajra Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) began in the cantonment here, today.

The programme began with “sunder ghar pratiyogita” which was presided over by Ms Dia Gupta, officiating president, Vajra AWWA and wife of Maj-Gen B.J. Gupta, Chief of Staff, Vajra Corps. She talked about the responsibility that was expected to be shouldered in regards to the well-being of soldiers and their families.

Ms Gupta said that the AWWA was officially registered as an NGO with the Registrar of Societies, Delhi Administration, and it was on August 23, that its constitution was laid down. After a week-long competitions based on cooking, home decor, painting, group dance, singing, the celebrations will end on August 23, which would be celebrated as the Raising Day.

 

Two more deaths in Sultanwind village

Amritsar, August 17
Two more persons, including a three-year-old child, reportedly died due to water-born diseases at Sultanwind village on the outskirts of the city.

The All-India Youth Association said here today that Paaras (3) was suffering from vomiting and loose motions. However, on August 15 his condition deteriorated and he died.

He said a few days back Partap Singh of the Patti Balol area in the village also died after similar complaints.

 

A correction
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Apropos of the news item ''Punjab has been foolishly generous: Boparai'' appearing in these columns on page 3 on August 17,it has been inadvertently reported that ''donor states had become arrogant, overbearing and greedy''. The correct version is that ''beneficiary states have become arrogant, overbearing and greedy''.

Due to this error a diametrically opposite opinion has been conveyed to the readers of what Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had said in his comments on the statement of the Prime Minister from the Red Fort on river waters.

 

High Court
PMT case: notice to Farid varsity
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to Baba Farid University, Faridkot, and others on a public interest litigation seeking a probe by an independent agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into allegations of discrepancies in the conduct of PMT for Punjab medical colleges by the university.

In its petition, Union of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Jalandhar, through its president Sandeep Sharma, has said that news reports and other recent actions of Baba Farid University have given rise to doubts about the genuineness of the test.

Referring to The Tribune report published on July 27, wherein it had been revealed that seats in the medical colleges of Punjab were being offered for huge sums of money by some persons not associated with the conduct of the PMT, the petitioner has sought an inquiry by the CBI into the matter.

Today, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant also summoned the record of the test conducted this year by the university.

The petitioner has also alleged that discrepancies had crept into the conduct of the PMT. They have also pointed out that even the allotment and break up of seats meant for different categories of students were not disclosed during counselling. The case will now come up on September 24.

 

Six get life imprisonment
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 17
Balraj Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Iqbal Singh, Moti and two other residents of this district were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Uday Singh Gair, for killing four persons on May 29, 2002.

The convicted were found guilty of murdering two brothers, Sukhdev Singh and Gamdur Singh, and their two sons, Jagwinder Singh and Gurlal Singh, respectively.

The deceased, residents of Midhu Khera village, were working in their fields when they were murdered.

The convicted, who were armed with firearms, asked the deceased to stop irrigating their fields through a common water course.

When they refused to do so they were attacked with lathis and firearms. They were also having some differences over their affiliation to different political parties.

 

Harnek remanded in police custody
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 17
Mr Harnek Singh, alias Bhap, a self-styled chief of the Khalistan Libration Force (KLF), was presented in the court of Mr D.S. Johal, CJM. Mr G.S. Sodhi, a lawyer from Patiala, appeared on behalf of Harnek Singh.

On the request from the police, the CJM allowed handcuffing of Harnek Singh. The public prosecutor demanded police remand for 10 days to recover weapons but the CJM remanded him in police custody till August 21.

While talking to mediapersons, Harnek Singh said he had buried weapons near Jaipur but he don’t know whether these weapons would be there or not now.

 
 

International gang of fake agents busted
District police nabs two in Kolkata
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 17
The district police has busted an international gang of fake travel agents by arresting two of its members — Manoj Singh, a resident of Kolkata, and A.K.M. Ghulam Kibaria, alias Chandan, of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who is also the kingpin of the gang.

They used to fleece Punjabi youths on the pretext of sending them to Canada and the USA on fake passports and visas. After paying huge sums of money, the youths were taken to Dhaka, Bangladesh, and then finally to Cambodia, via Bangkok, where they were made captives and given inhuman treatment.

Addressing a press conference at CIA Staff Sirhind, the SSP, Mr Shiv Kumar, said he had received a complaint from Roop Chand Sedha, who alleged that Rajdeep Singh Sahi, a travel agent of Hargana village, assured to send his two sons and a relative to Canada by taking Rs 12 lakh from him. The agent called the three to Kolkata to catch a flight. Once they reached there, the three were handed over to Manoj Singh, who took them to Dhaka by crossing the border illegally. They were then handed over to A.K.M. Ghulam Kibaria in Dhaka. The three were allegedly kept for three months there and given inhuman treatment by the “captors”. The three were then taken to Bangkok, of whom two later reached Cambodia.

The SSP said after the efforts of the CIA Staff, Sirhind, Inspector Gurmeet Singh Pinky succeeded in nabbing two members of the gang.

He said the police was hopeful of arresting other members of the gang soon. The gang could have subagents in various parts of the country, he added. He said many Punjabi youths were still in their custody in Dhaka and were being forced to eat beef.

The police has recovered eight fake passports, bearing fake visa stamps of the USA and China, from them, the SSP added. He said the Delhi police had already declared Chandan a proclaimed offender.

While talking to this correspondent, Mr Bhagat Singh and Mr Krishan Gopal, who fell victims to the gang, said they were taken to Dhaka and made captives there. They were forced to part with their passports and money, made to stay indoors and prevented from calling their family. They were given beef to eat and no medical treatment was allowed. They said there were around 20 youths from different states in their room and that hundreds of youths, particularly from Punjab, were in their custody.

They said after Dhaka they were flown to Cambodia. Once there, the agents fled and they were left to hide from the police. They arranged money from one of their relatives in Italy and managed return to India.

They alleged that the agents had links at airports and borders. They said they had lodged a complaint with the SSP, who had marked an inquiry to the CIA inspector. The inspector contacted the agents in Dhaka and struck a deal with them. As per plan, the agents came to Kolkata to take him to Dhaka and were arrested.

 

2 killed in road mishap

Moga, August 17
Two persons, including an octroi contractor, were killed and three others injured when the jeep, in which they were travelling, collided with a truck last night. The incident took place when they were reportedly chasing the truck evading octroi tax.

The deceased have been identified as octroi contractor Maninderpal Singh alias Bittu and Kuldeep Singh, both residents of Moga. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The bodies of the victims were handed over to their family members after postmortem. — TNS

 

One arrested on extortion charge
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 17
A resident of Mundi Kharar was arrested by the police on charges of extortion and cheating.

According to the police, Amarjit Singh Bhangu was arrested yesterday and Rs 8,000, which he had extorted from another resident of Mundi Kharar, Mr Harjaap Singh, were recovered. Bhangu was produced in a court today was remanded in the Judicial custody for 14 days.

Mr Jasdev Singh, DSP, said Mr Harjaap Singh made a complaint that he had paid Rs 8,000 to Amarjit Singh Bhangu for hushing up a case related to the death of one of his relatives, but the police was still harassing him. He told the police that Amarjit Singh Bhangu had taken Rs 8,000 to give it as “bribe” to the police though a deal for Rs 16,000 had been finalised.

A resident of Mundi Kharar had died after drinking heavily sitting with his brother and a cousin some time ago and the police had initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr PC. Some persons suspected that Mr Harjaap Singh was involved in the death case.

The police had registered a case under Sections 384 and 420 of the IPC against Amarjit Singh Bhangu.

 

Students for CBI probe into tests by PTU
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
Students of Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) here today demanded a CBI probe into examinations help Punjab Technical University PTU.

In a press note the students alleged in some cases PTU authorities had given marks in subjects for which the students had not appeared. Also PTU had given more marks in the detail-marks certificate of a particular student in a particular subject.

The students added many students had been made to suffer due to the inordinate delay by PTU authorities in decreasing results of semesters. They added that PTU in certain cases declared result of a particular semester when students had taken the examinations of next semester.

Student today went on strike to protest against the imposition of “ 1 to 5 and 2 to 6” rule on them. Under this rule, a student, who has not passed first semester, could not take examinations of the fifth semester.

They said pointed one when PTU had fixed a period of six year for the students to pass bachelor course failing which they would be given “not for technical education” certificate there was no relevance of the new rule.

Students alleged that PTU authorities had imposed this rule in connivance with the Punjab government which wanted fewer students to pass engineering course and the government would have to provide jobs for fewer engineers.

They alleged they went to meet the Vice-Chancellor, PTU at Jalandhar, but were not allowed to meet him.

They demanded withdrawal of the rule.

 

PCCTU urges Capt to keep promises

Barnala, August 17
The Sangrur district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has urged Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, to honour his pre-poll commitments and promises made to the PCCTU at Barnala on February 6, 2002. The promises were: continuing 95 per cent grant to private colleges of Punjab and implementation of the pension-gratuity scheme of December 18, 1996.

This demand was made at a protest rally of the PCCTU held at the local S.D. College, today. PCCTU activists from several colleges of the region responded overwhelmingly to the union’s call. Addressing the rally. Prof R.S. Brar, president, PCCTU, favoured implementation of the Johl Committee recommendations, pertaining to higher education. He regretted that the Government’s decision to shift the plus one and plus two classes from the colleges was unfortunate. — OC

 

Punjabi University Diary
Nadira espouses meaningful theatre
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
Nadira Babbar came, she performed and conquered hearts by the hundreds on the campus here. Students stood in rapt attention to hear her enact the role of ‘Begum Jaan’, a classical singer, in the twilight of her life. The university authorities, particularly Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai and Theatre department head Dr Yogesh Gambhir, won accolades from students and citizens of the city for providing them an opportunity to see meaningful theatre. The presence of Juhi Babbar, daughter of Nadira, was also largely welcomed in the play.

The hosting of the play was unique on more counts than one. It was hosted in the open air theatre on the campus rather than the auditorium. The motive was to showcase beautiful sets in natural surroundings. The chief guest, Mr Rajinder Singh, IG, and the Vice-Chancellor sat on the stone steps of the open air theatre, intermingling with other guests and students.

Attempts were made to bring theatre consciousness among the viewers with the use of mobile phones during the sitting being a taboo and no menials moving around offering tea, snacks or other niceties to the guests of honour.

A student of the Department of Theatre and Television was also associated in the production. Later, the Vice-Chancellor asked Theatre Department head Dr Yogesh Gambhir to elicit response from students as to how they gained from the hosting of the play. The department has on its part moved a proposal to ensure conduct of a workshop by Nadira so that students could learn more about stagecraft.

Punjabi journalism

While Nadira and Juhi are stars in their own rights and they got appropriate response, there was another ‘star’ — a son of the soil — who came back to share his views with students of the Department of Mass Communication, even though this was a low-key affair. Iqbal Ramoowalia, a noted literary figure in Canada, interacted with students on the topic “Punjabi journalism in Canada”. He stressed the need to take Punjabi journalism away from gurdwara and Sikh politics in Canada. He said many journalists were being used by moneyed men to propagate their vested interests.

Another journalist — Baltej Pannu, who used to publish a newspaper “Nagara” in Canada — spoke on avenues for aspiring journalists in radio journalism in Canada.

Later, Dr Harjinder Walia, Head of the Department said Punjabi journalism had played an important role in making Punjabis aware of themselves. He stressed on the need for starting a global newspaper in Punjabi for Punjabis all over the world.

Dharna by students

Agitations don’t seem to leave the university. Students unions of the university, which are united under the aegis of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, held a dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office last week. Students claimed that the university was fobbing them off by saying their demands had been accepted, while most of these remained unsettled.

Last year, there was a strike on the campus. It ended with the authorities agreeing to constitute a committee which would look into ways and means to reduce exorbitant fee in professional courses.

The formation of the committee was forgotten after the withdrawal of strike.

Other issues, including abolition of late fee for all students, also remain unsettled.

 

Youth festivals’ schedule released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 17
The Department of Youth Welfare, Punjabi University, today released the schedule for youth festivals and cultural activities for this academic year.

The Director Youth Welfare, Dr Sunita Dhir, said zonal youth festivals would be held at Physical College, Patiala, from October 14 to 16 for the Patiala zone; Ranbir College, Sangrur, from October 19 to 21 for the Sangrur zone; Government College, Ropar, from October 26 to 28 for the Ropar zone; and Rajindra College, Bathinda, from November1 to 3 for the Bathinda zone.

She said inter-zonal youth festivals would be held on the campus from November 8 to 11; the North Zone Inter-Varsity Youth Festival at Jhansi from November 26 to 30; and the National Inter-Varsity Youth Festival at Benaras from January 7 to 11.

 

PEC old boys meeting on August 21
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Old students of Punjab Engineering College will hold a get-together on August 21 at 7.30 p.m. at the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) guest house in Sector 35, here.

A meeting of the executive committee of Punjab Engineering College Old Students Association (PECOSA) was held today and it decided, among other things, to hold a general body meeting of the association along with the get together at the same venue. On this occasion Mr S.K. Bijlani, a renowned management consultant and a visiting Professor for many business schools and universities abroad will be giving a talk on ‘The new paradigm of leadership’.

This is the first general body get together after Punjab Engineering College has become a deemed university. A large number of old students are likely to attend this meet, said Mr Rakesh Nath Chairman of the BBMB, who is also the president of PECOSA.

 

College staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 17
Teaching and non-teaching staff working on an adhoc basis in the local Khalsa College organised a protest rally to protest against the “anti-employees” policies of the management here today.

Addressing the gathering, president of non-teaching staff Shemsheer Singh, alleged that the employees working on an adhoc basis had not been given promotion for the past many years. In addition to this, the teaching staff have not been given senior grades.

The employees have also appealed to the Principal of the college and the SGPC to look into the issue but in vain, he added. The employees have also appealed to the local unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh Teachers Union to render their support to them.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |