P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sodhi family asked to hand over Kartarpuri Bir to SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
A special meeting of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation held here on Tuesday with its president, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia in the chair, hailed the appeal of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the Sodhi family of Kartarpur to restore to the Sikh community the original Bir (Sri Adi Granth) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the 400th anniversary of whose compilation and first installation in Sri Harmandar Sahib is being celebrated all over the world on September 1, 2004, at Amritsar.

The authenticity of this original holy Granth, known as Sri Kartarpuri Bir, scribed by Bhai Gurdas under the direct supervision of Sri Guru Arjan Dev, had been vouched by top Sikh scholars, including Bhai Jodh Singh, after minute scrutiny of the holy text which bears the signature of Guru Arjan Dev. The date given there also corresponds to the year 1604.

Dr Ahluwalia said: “It is hoped that the Sodhi family of Kartarpur would hand over the Kartarpuri Bir to the Sikh community well before the historic commemorative function at Amritsar on September 1.The Jagir assigned to the holy Bir by Maharaja Ranjit Singh may be kept by the Sodhi family”.

“If however”, resolved the foundation, “the Sodhi family does not rise to the occasion and continues insisting on treating it as their hereditary personal property, then the mammoth congregation at Amritsar should make an appeal to the Sodhi family to restore the Bir to the Sikh community, for, no original text of holy Granths of any religion, where available, are in the personal custody of any individual family. The gurdwara reform movement of the first and the second decade of the last century remains incomplete without getting back the holy Granth from the hereditary possession of a family”.

The Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee should also prevail upon the Kartarpur Sodhi family in this connection. The foundation in its resolution further appealed to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to persuade the Sodhi family of Kartarpur to make the noble gesture of ceremonially returning the Bir to the SGPC, thereby earning the gratitude of the whole Sikh community. This would be a real achievement of the 400th celebration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.


Sodhis refuse to oblige
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kartarpur (Jalandhar), August 26
The recent appeal of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal notwithstanding, the Sodhi family of Kartarpur, who are descendants of Guru Arjan Dev and were handed over the Adi Granth, written by Guru Arjan Dev, along with other properties by Guru Teg Bahadur, has asserted that the original bir is their “heritage”, is “very safe” and its location is a “secret” that they do not intend to reveal.

Mr Badal had urged the family last week to hand over the original bir to the SGPC to enable the lakhs of Sikhs expected at the Golden Temple to pay obeisance during the forthcoming quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. Similar efforts were earlier made by Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and Bibi Jagir Kaur during their tenure as president of the SGPC. But the Sodhi family has refused to accept the request.

The Adi Granth was written by Guru Arjan Dev and is the original granth, also known as “Kartarpuri Bir,” that was installed in the Golden Temple by Baba Budha on September 1, 1604. Later, this Adi Granth, according to the Sodhi family, was restored to the family of Dhirmal, a son of Guru Arjun Dev, by ninth Guru Teg Bahadur. Ever since, it has been a ritual for descendants of Dhirmal (the Sodhi family) to display the Adi Granth for “darshan” by common Sikhs once a year on Baisakhi.

After Mr Badal’s recent appeal, efforts were also made by certain Akali leaders to persuade the Sodhi family’s head, Mr Karamjit Singh Sodhi, to allow the display of the Adi Granth at the Golden Temple for “darshan” by Sikhs for just one day on September 1. However, the appeals have not yielded any result so far.

In fact, after the appeal of Mr Badal, the granth has been shifted to a “safe” place and the family is tightlipped about the location.

Mr Karamjit Singh Sodhi, who prefixes “guru” to his name and is also addressed as such by almost all residents of Kartapur, was not available for comment. When contacted over the phone, his younger brother, Mr Charanjit Singh Sodhi, asserted that he could not reveal the location of the granth.

“I don’t want to talk to the media as this can only be done by my elder brother, who is the head of the family and who handles all affairs. I don’t want to give any comment and you can write what you want. The granth is our heritage,” he said.

On the controversy relating to the excommunication and readmission of “Dhirmalias”, Mr Karamjit Singh Sodhi had earlier stated that Dhirmalias had been forgiven by ninth Guru Teg Bahadur, who had restored various properties and the Adi Granth to their family. Hence, the chapter had been closed during the Guru’s lifetime, he added. The family was part of Guru Arjan Dev’s lineage and had been living as true Sikhs ever since, he said.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said she had also made a request to the family, but it failed to yield any result. “They had not even handed over the granth to Gurus,” she said.

Mr Badungar also maintained that during his tenure as SGPC chief he had approached the family to hand over the granth to the SGPC. “We had also requested them to hand over part of the Kartarpur gurdwara that is under their possession. But the family refused to do so even though the SGPC was ready to pay for the cost of the land,” he said.


SGPC wants national holiday for celebrations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 26
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, member, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), urged the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to announce a national holiday on the occassion of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

In a press conference here today, Mr Calcutta said even though the state government had announced a holiday in this regard, the Central Government departments would remain open.

He appealed to the Central Government to announce holiday.

Mr Calcutta said the SGPC had decided to continue the celebrations till 2008 which would be the 300th year of declaring Guru Granth Sahib as a living Guru.

He said seminars and other religious programmes would be organised at the national and international levels.

He said religious seminars, dramas and light-and-sound programmes would be held in collaboration with the local Singh Sabhavas and celebrations were being planned at the state headquarters.

The SGPC member said two documentaries on Guru Granth Sahib had been passed.

He said the SGPC was also contemplating a Sikh university or an institute of higher learning or research on Sikhism and religious studies to mark the celebrations.

He said a booklet of the message of Guru Granth Sahib was also under plan of the SGPC, which would be published in each language.


Gurmat Chetna March reaches Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 26
The Gurmat Chetna March commenced from Gurdwara Baba Sain Bhagat at Thathi Sohal village, 35 kilometers from here, today amid the chanting of hymns from th Guru Granth Sahib.

The march which reached the Golden Temple, was taken out in connection with the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. The procession was welcomed by the people lined up on both sides of the route at Panjwar More.

Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal while addressing the congregation urged the Sikh saints to construct school buildings while raising any gurdwara building through the kar seva. He said the Sikh Sangat should pay special attention to provide education to the new generation. He advised the SGPC authorities to establish a Plus two school for girls in the memory of Bhagat Sain, within the gurdwara complex. He appealed to the sangat to spread the message of universal brotherhood enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib all over the world .

A number of SGPC and SAD leaders participated in the chetna march.


Jathedar to take up Afghan Sikhs’ case
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi, Sabo, August 26
Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib will take up the issue of granting Indian citizenship to the Sikhs who shifted to this country from Afghanistan with the Akal Takht Jathedar the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

He said he had come to know about their plight when a group of about 1,000 Sikhs belonging to Afghinistan, now living in India, met him about a week ago at Takht Damdama Sahib.

“It is unfortunate that members of the Sikh community have been living as aliens in their own country and no one has come for ward to arrange Indian citizenship for them. I will take up the case with the SGPC and other institutions so that the Centre can be made aware of their plight,” said Mr Nandgarh.

A large number of Sikhs living in Afghanistan migrated to India through different routes on two occasions. First, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and second, when the Taliban took control of the country a few years ago.

Those who migrated to India have started running businesses in different parts of the country, particularly in Delhi.

A cross section of the Sikhs who migrated to India, talking to The Tribune pointed out that though they were well-settled in Afghanistan, they were forced to leave when the militants posed a threat to their identity and religious places. They added that though they were feeling secure in India they had the status of aliens only.

They said the government had been extending the date of their visa, but had not accorded them permanent citizenship though they had completed all formalities required. 


Tohra loyalists upset over hoarding removal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 26
The acting president of the SGPC, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, did it again. The big hoarding which was put outside the SGPC serai on behalf of the late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then SGPC chief, with regard to quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib, has been replaced by a board put on behalf of Mr Pakhoke, thereby causing a lot of resentment among Tohra loyalists.

Earlier, Mr Pakhoke had re-started ‘kar sewa’ of the holy tank when the ashes of Jathedar Tohra were yet to be immersed. Mr Pakhoke had also ordered controversial postings and transfers of SGPC employees which raised many eyebrows.


Crucial meeting on illegal colonies today
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 26
The high-powered committee constituted “to evolve a policy framework for effective management of the periphery controlled area falling in the state of Punjab” would meet tomorrow under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Punjab. The committee constituted in 2003, following directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had been asked to assist the Punjab Government define a comprehensive policy that would streamline haphazard development within Chandigarh’s periphery and also suggest a plan for its development in the future.

Tomorrow’s meeting is crucial since it comes in the wake of unprecedented police action against colonisers running illegal housing schemes in the periphery. Following the Chief Minister’s announcement that none of the houses in these illegal colonies would be demolished, the committee members are expected to take a sympathetic view of those inhabiting illegal structures in the periphery.

Currently Chandigarh’s periphery is governed by the ‘Punjab Capital (Periphery) Control Act 1952 that prohibited unplanned construction within 5 miles radius extending from Chandigarh. This limit was extended to 10 miles in 1962 and at present no construction activity except for purposes of agriculture is permitted within 10 miles or 16 km from the boundary of Chandigarh.

It is learnt that the committee would propose to divide the periphery into zones — residential, recreational, institutional, industrial — to prevent unregulated and haphazard growth. However, eco-fragile zones in the periphery covered under the Forests and Land Preservation Acts would not be altered, sources said.

Out of 1,362 sq km under the Periphery Act, 1,021 sq km fall under the periphery in Punjab. The area is covered by five towns and 336 villages. A planning area measuring 166.42 sq km also forms part of the periphery. Besides this, 48.92 sq km area in the periphery has been kept under Free Enterprise Zone to develop industrial growth.

The committee members were expected to look into the existing status of the periphery and critically examine the problems and bottlenecks in proper development of the area and suggest a policy framework to ensure planned development. At the first meeting of the committee in October 2003, the Chief Secretary had asked various committee members to give separate proposals to solve the problems, including a list of concessions that could be granted without affecting the character of the periphery area.

The meeting would be chaired by CS, Mr J.S. Gill, including the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Principal Secretary (Local Government), Principal Secretary (Industries), Principal Secretary, PWD (B&R), Secretary (Housing & Urban Development), and PUDA Chief Administrator, who would function as member-secretary. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed that the Punjab Government should formulate the said policy within three months of the committee tabling its recommendations.

In a written communication to the Secretary, Urban Housing and Development, the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, said while “we may continue an appropriate action against the colonisers, no action be taken pertaining to constructions already made till its ramifications are examined in depth. Matter may be examined in the light of the exemptions given earlier in the nineties and put up to me through the minister concerned.”


Tribune Impact
Four colonisers to be booked by PUDA
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 26
PUDA authorities have swung into action and ordered the registration of criminal cases against four colonisers in the Pathankot area after the publication of a news item “Illegal colonies galore in Pathankot” published in The Tribune (dated August 17, 2004).

According to official sources, Chief Administration Officer, under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995, (PAPRA) has written a letter to the Gurdaspur SSP, Mr Narinder Bhargav, to register an FIR against four local colonisers who had allegedly carved out a colony in utter violation of the Act.

According to rules every person wanting to act as a promoter or an estate agent is required to obtain a licence from the competent authority and a registration certificate.

No person without the prior permission of PUDA can carve out a colony. After receiving the letter by the PUDA, the local police has booked four persons under section 36 of PAPRA and arrested Jagir Singh in this connection, while his other accomplices are still at large.

According to the police the absconding accused are Mangal Singh, Bahadur Singh and Jaswant Singh all local residents.


Delegation carries POW family’s appeal to Pak
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), August 26
A 19-member delegation, including religious and political leaders and social activists, headed by Ms Nirmala Deshpandey, president of the Association of People of Asia, crossed over to Pakistan today to participate in the Urs (annual fair) of renowned Sufi Saint Baba Bulle Shah in Kasoor district.

Ms Pandey said the aim of the visit was to promote peace, friendship and brotherhood between India and Pakistan. She would offer “chadars” at the mazar (tomb) of the Baba on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Natwar Singh, External Affairs Minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukh Kanwar Singh from Ludhiana gave a letter to Ms Pandey for facilitating the release of his uncle, Flt Lt G.S. Rai, who went missing in the 1971 war with Pakistan. He said on July 5, 1988, Mukhtiar Singh, a prisioner of war, had been released by Pakistan who reported that his uncle was in good health and lodged in Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail in Lahore.

Mr Sukh Kanwar Singh said Flt Lt Rai had successfuly blasted a radar station of Pakistan at Saksar on December 5, 1971, but he did not return from that sortie. He was awarded the Veer Chakra “posthumously”, as he was considered a martyr then.

However, later reports indicated that he was alive and in a Pakistan prison. Ms Deshpandey said she would do her best to present the case. Mr Mohammad Salim, a CPM MP, said Baba Bulle Shah was a symbol of the common heritage of the two countries.

Mr Ramesh Yadav, president of the Folklore Research Academy, said 95 persons, including 25 from the academy, were likely to participate in the Urs, travelling in two groups.

Among those who went today were Mr S. K. Karvendara, a Congress MP, Mr T. D. Singh, a Hindu religious preacher from Manipur, Lama Lob Zag, a member of the SC/ST Commission, Jain Sadhvi Guru Chhaya, and Christian preacher Karam Masih.


Punjab Police launches manhunt for escaped militant
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
Seventytwo hours after "militant" Gursewak Singh escaped from the custody of the Punjab Police, Patiala's Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk today proceeded to Delhi for following all possible leads. The militant had managed to break loose in the national capital on the pretext of easing himself.

Mr Virk would reportedly be posted in Delhi for "another few days" in an attempt to unravel the mystery shrouding the "militant's escape". He would reportedly work in tandem with the Delhi Police.

A first information report (FIR) regarding the escape has already been registered under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Sabzi Mandi police station in Delhi. Seven cops accompanying the "militant" at the time of escape have also been placed under suspension by the Punjab Police.

Besides assisting other officials in tracing the accused, Mr Virk would reportedly look into the reasons behind the "militant's" escape at the present stage. Initially booked by the police in approximately 40 cases, Gursewak Singh had been acquitted in at least 30. Chances of his acquittal in other cases due to want of evidence were "high".

Otherwise also, he had spent almost 15 years behind bars. Gursewak Singh would have been released even if trials against him had culminated in conviction as he would have undergone the punishment.

The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters, meanwhile, revealed that teams from Patiala had been dispatched to "all important religious places" in Punjab and Rajasthan for tracing the "militant".

They added that the possibility of the "militant" hiding in these places could not be ruled out. Patiala's Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai could not be contacted for his comments on the issue.

The sources also claimed that apprehensions regarding Gursewak Singh teaming up with other Punjab militants for organising "major strikes" in the region were entirely "baseless".

Gursewak Singh, reportedly belonging to the Babbar Khalsa International, was taken to Sabzi Mandi police station on Monday evening after being produced before a court in connection with a case registered at Punjabi Bagh police station in 1998. The cops accompanying him took him to a hospital at around 9 pm after he complained of chest pain. On his way back, the accused escaped on the pretext of answering the nature's call.


2 more jail officials suspended
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 26
The jail authorities of Punjab have placed two officials of the local Central Jail, including one Deputy Superintendent of Jail (DSJ) and one Assistant Superintendent of Jail (ASJ) under suspension in connection with the escape of its three inmates on August 22.

Mr Swaran Singh, Superintendent, Central Jail, while disclosing this said Mr Amarjit Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Jail, and Mr Shivraj Singh, Assistant Superintendent of Jail, had been placed under suspension in connection with the incident that took place on August 22. He added that two head constables and five warders were placed under suspension immediately after the incident.

Three inmates of Central Jail, including the two, who were sentenced to undergo life imprisonment for murder and one, who was sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for smuggling narcotics, escaped from it on August 22.

Three accused were identified as Jai Masih of Bihar, who was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment by the district court on September 8, 2003, for his alleged involvement in a murder and dacoity cases registered in Abohar city police station on March 24, 1998, Shankar Bhiya, alias Ramesh Kumar, who was sentenced to life on December 10, 2002, by the district court for his alleged involvement in a murder case registered in Mallan Wala police station on May 25, 2000, and Subagh Singh, a resident of Rajasthan, who was sentenced to 10 years RI in 2001 for smuggling narcotics . A case was registered against him in Mallan Wala police station on September 7, 1995.

All three accused were lodged in the same barrack. They dug a big hole in the common wall of the toilet and the barrack and escaped. After entering the toilet, they covered the hole with some utensils to prevent the light from entering into the barrack. From toilet, they entered a storeroom. From here they took two bamboo poles and managed to climb the first inner wall of the jail with its help.

After jumping the first inner wall, they entered the 20-feet-wide street between the inner wall and the main outer wall. The accused managed to get hold of a thick iron rod that was bent from one side. They fixed the bent side with the parapet of main outer wall and climbed it one by one. After reaching the top of the main outer wall they got down the jail with the help of pieces of cloth.

Even the permanent addresses given to the police authorities were found to be fake despite the fact that three police teams were sent to raid their residential premises. 


1.7 pc of Punjab’s population afflicted by disability
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
The Census — 2001 data on ‘’disability’’ shows that in Punjab of the total population, 1.7 per cent is afflicted by one or the other type of disability or infirmity. This rate is lower than that of the all-India figure — 2.1 per cent.

The Census had focused on five kinds of disabilities, ‘’seeing, speech, hearing, movement and mental’’. In Punjab disability was more among males, 1.9 per cent, than females, 1.5 per cent. Among the districts, the highest percentage, 2.8, of the disabled was in Fatehgarh Sahib and the lowest in Patiala, 1.4.

Of the five kinds of disabilities, in Punjab the largest percentage, 40.02, was of the ones who could not see, followed by disability of movement, 35.3, mental, 15, speech, 5.4 and hearing 4.1.

This data was today released by the Director, Census, Mr Inderjit Singh. Giving the historical background, he said data on disability generated in the decennial censuses had caused serious doubts about the authenticity and quality of the data and the collection was discontinued by the then Census Commissioners. Thus, neither collection of data on disability nor canvassing was done during Census — 1991. However, it was again included in the Census —2001 because of a request from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and other ministries.

The census data on disability revealed that of the total 24,358,999 population in Punjab, persons afflicted by one of the five identified disabilities was 4,24,523. Of this, rural population was 2,97,018 and urban 1,27,505. Against 2,52,856 males, the number of females reporting one or other disability was 1,71,667.

Statistically, of the total disabled persons, 4,24,523, categorywise break-up was as follows (the respective number of females is given in bracket) seeing — 1,70,853 (77,700), speech — 22,756 (9,264), hearing — 17,348 ( 8,122), movement — 1,49,758 (53,575) and mental — 63,808 (23,006).

Enquires have revealed that in Punjab there is no ‘’social security net’’ and that the ‘’Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, effective since October, 1998, was only on paper! The small number of government-run institutions for the handicapped persons was hardly serving any purpose and was, in effect, effective only for ‘’self-survival’’, rather than care for inmates. This fact is cogently emphasised in the civil report of CAG, 2002-03. So callous had been the successive governments that even funds received from the Centre for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled or handicapped persons were not released or had remained unutilised. No nodal agency was set up to take care of the disabled!

Punjab also faced a peculiar problem of farm-related accidents, particularly victims of thresher accidents, who were covered under ‘’locomotor’’ disability. However, such victims were given paltry compensation. This was true in the case of industrial accident victims as well.


Bhattal warns Chohan against issuing statements
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 26
The Punjab Government is committed to maintain law and order at any cost and won’t allow anyone to disrupt the hard-earned peace. Jagjit Singh Chohan, who is widely known for his Khalistani activities, should restrain from interfering in the working of the government and issuing statements in the government functioning. 

If he does not stop his activities, he would be dealt with severely, warned Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, talking to The Tribune here today.

She came here to preside over the meeting of the District Grievances Committee as well as of the District Planning Board.

She said Jagjit Singh Chohan was issuing such statements under a conspiracy and earlier, too, such elements disturbed peace in the state by misguiding youths and now again all of a sudden he had become active.

She warned that the government would not be a mute spectator this time and rather curbed them with heavy hand. Answering a query regarding the stand of the state government on the SYL issue as well as passing of resolution by the state Assembly, she clarified that she had not opposed the resolution by the Assembly rather the media distorted the facts. She said the state’s rights must be defended.

She said if we had to compete with the WTO we have to be technically sound and to improve the standard of technical education and of the PTU. She said earlier the annual budget of technical education in the state had been Rs 4 crore but now the present government had increased it.


BJP playing clever game: Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
Mr Prem Singh Chandu-majra, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), said yesterday that the BJP was not playing the role of Opposition at the national level. He said unnecessary disturbance was being created in the country by digging up old issues instead of seriously discussing matters of national importance.

In a statement, he said the BJP was playing a clever game to project the parliamentary system as failure. “The BJP was all for Presidential form of government in the country and because of that reason it had been blocking the functioning of Parliament to project this system of government in poor light”, said Mr Chandumajra.

He said the impeding of the functioning of the Parlia-ment without any solid reason was not in the interest of the country as a whole. He said old cases should not be used to settle political scores.


Sonia Gandhi’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 26
The district unit of the BJP (U) today burnt the effigy of All-India Congress President Sonia Gandhi in protest against the arrest of Ms Uma Bharti by the Andhra Pradesh police.

They criticised the Congress President for her alleged role in Ms Uma’s arrest.

They also raised slogans against the Congress.


Plastic surgeon’s transfer leaves patients high & dry
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 26
The sudden transfer of the lone plastic surgeon in the state from the local Civil Hospital to a community health centre in a remote village has started a controversy as a large number of patients in dire need of plastic surgery have been left high and dry.

Interestingly, Dr Chanjiv Singh, the only plastic surgeon serving in the PCMS, has been transferred to Bundala village in the district. He has won a number of awards such as the ‘Pramaan Patra,’ by the Punjab Government and an appreciation letter by Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in recognition of his meritorious services. He has been replaced by a general surgeon.

What was seemingly more ridiculous was the shifting of a highly qualified plastic surgeon to a village, where, his talent and expertise was likely to get wasted as only a few patients require plastic surgery there as compared to the number of patients in a big hospital like the Civil Hospital here. “What will a highly qualified plastic surgeon do in a village remains an unsolved mystery to me? If he was to be transferred he could have been shifted to some big hospital where people could get the benefit of his expertise,” said an official of the Civil Hospital, who requested not to be quoted.

Interestingly, Dr Chanjiv Singh, who has been rendering his services at the local Civil Hospital for the past 12 years, was not only behind the setting up of the burns unit and was the nodal officer for computerisation of the hospital, but, was also in charge of the disaster management programme of the hospital besides being a member of organisations, including the Community Policing Resource Cell, Jalandhar, Legal Services Authority for Lok Adalats, National Consumer Education and Research Society and the Worldwide Fund for Nature-India.

On the other hand, the transfer of the lone plastic surgeon has caused inconvenience to a number of patients admitted in the hospital or getting treatment from him. Jhoku Ram, a patient whose arm was amputated, said he had no one to look after him despite the fact that he had undergone skingrafting recently. Gaurav Shakti, another patient, said one of his feet needed plastic surgery, but, now he might not be able to get it done as he was too poor to go to a private hospital.

Mr K.K. Sharma, another patient rued that his treatment was left midway due to the transfer of the doctor.


Decision to raise old-age pension shortly
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
A high-level meeting will be called soon to take a decision regarding increase to be made in the old-age allowance to pensioners on attaining the age of 80 years, Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary for the Welfare of Pensioners, has said.

The Chief Parliamentary Secretary stated this while addressing members of State Government Pensioners Association, Pensioners’ Welfare Association and Pensioners Maha Sangh here on Tuesday.

Dr Harbans Lal said a Punjab state pensioners advisory committee would be constituted soon to have information regarding hardships faced by pensioners. He said recently the Health and Family Welfare Department had included nine more diseases in the list of complicated chronic diseases. Employees and pensioners would be able to get better treatment of these diseases, he added.


Beant family prepares for Payal rally
KS Chawla

Ludhiana: The family members of Beant Singh, assassinated Chief Minister of Punjab, are going ahead with the preparations for his death anniversary on August 31 at Payal. The family members are not very keen on converting the same into an official state-level function and they seem to be bent on showing resentment over the ouster of Mr Tej Parkash Singh, son of Mr Beant Singh, from the Punjab Cabinet.

While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has stated that the state-level function to observe the death anniversary will be held at Payal on August 31, the family members of Beant Singh maintain that the function in this regard is being organised by Congress workers and the people of Payal constituency to pay homage to the departed leader.When contacted Mr Tej Parkash Singh told The Tribune that they would organise the death anniversary function at Payal on August 31 as was being held for the past nine years.He said the Chief Minister had not made any contact with him so far on this issue.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh said there was resentment among the Congress workers and the people of the Payal constituency over the non-fulfillment of the promises made by the current Chief Minister and the ones made by former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar at the bhog ceremony of Beant Singh in 1995.

He said the name of the native village of Beant Singh, Kotli, had not been changed into Beant Singh Wala in the revenue records as was announced by Mr Brar. Similarly, the road from Dora to Payal had not been named as Beant Singh Marg so far.

Asked if his security had been beefed up as directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Tej Parkash Singh said the orders of the High Court had not been implemented so far.


Durgiana Temple to go hi-tech on Janmashtami
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 26
Durgiana Temple has decided to go hi-tech during Janmashtami celebrations in September. Three massive LCD screens will be put on the premises of the temple to broadcast the celebrations live on September 7.

The day will also mark the conclusion of the first phase of gold plating of the various portions of the temple. This was stated by Mr Surinder Arjun, working president, Durgiana Temple Management Committee, here yesterday.

The screens will be used to telecast live the deepmala and phool shingar celebrations from sanctum santorum. The screens would also be placed in the courtyard of the temple. Besides this two screens would also be placed in the parikarma.

A special sound system would be installed at four corners of the temple like hathi gate, parshuram chowk, logarh gate and reigo bridge side. Kirtan would be relayed from 3 pm and special fireworks have been scheduled after midnight. Tableaux recreating scenes from the Mahabharat would be shown on the occasion.


Work to start soon on Kathlore bridge: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 26
State PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa yesterday said the work on the Kathlore bridge over the Ravi in Gurdaspur district would start within two months, adding NABARD had cleared the long-pending Rs 56-crore project.

Talking to reporters here he said the bridge would connect about 200 villages of the Bamial and Narot Jaimal Singh block areas across the Ravi with the main land. Even after 56 years of independence, the inhabitants of these areas use boats to reach mainland, he added.


Boon for the poor
Ashok Grover

Jalalabad: The Parswarth Sabha, Jalalabad, has come a long way since its establishment in 1990. The founder of the sabha, the late Commandant Ram Lal, along with his companion had launched the philanthropic mission by opening a tailoring school in a small rented room of the local Gandhi Basti, with two old sewing machines only. The idea was to make the poor girls of the area economically self- reliant.

After 15 years of dedication in this field, the sabha nowadays is running a primary school, a health centre and a tailoring school under its aegis, the lands and buildings of which are also owned by the sabha. All facilities available in these institutions are being provided free of cost to the slum dwellers.

About 110 students are studying in the school run by the sabha, where, apart from education, uniforms, books, copies, pen and pencils are being provided free of cost to its students. Similarly, in its health centre about 100 patients are being examined daily, where medicines are also being offered free of charge to patients. In the tailoring school training to about 40 girl students is being imparted without any charge.

The credit of its success goes to hard-working, dedicated and honest members of the sabha. Mr Guranditta Mal Chauhan, Mr Adarsh Doomra and Mr Roshan Lal Kumar,president, secretary and cashier of the sabha, respectively, have developed an obsession to serve the humanitarian cause.

The unique system of fund collections also contributed much in its consistent growth. The sabha has hundreds of members as registered volunteers who are subscribing on a monthly basis money ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 200 as per their wishes. Thus, a fixed sum of Rs 20,000 per month being collected by way of subscription and the rest at random. Apart from it a local religious group, Maa Saraswati Bhajan Mandli, donates all its annual collections to the sabha.

There is another side of this distinctive fund collection system. The monthly donors also include certain rickshaw-pullers and daily wagers, who, besides this, also take part in the services being rendered for the needy.Perhaps this is the reason that the sabha has attained a special status in the minds of the local people. 


Abandoned girl child gets home
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 26
A newborn girl, who was found abandoned at the gurdwara located in Gobind Fort here, has been taken by a watch dealer, Mr Ram Singh, to his home as he wants to adopt her legally. This is the third incident in which a newborn female child has either been found dead or alive after being abandoned in the area in the past one year. Earlier, the body of a new born girl was found in a vacant plot near powerhouse road in the town. 

She had allegedly been strangulated to death and the police had registered a case in that connection. About a year ago, a baby girl was found in the same gurdwara and she was legally adopted by a local doctor.

Mr Ram Singh, who has four sons, while talking to TNS, said he had been wanting to have a daughter for the past two decades and now God had answered his prayers.

He said the infant had been found lying in a court situated on one side of the gurdwara by his brother, Mr Gurtej Singh, who had gone there to pay obeisance in the morning. He added that his brother brought the girl to his house after he found that she had been abandoned.

“My eldest son is 22. All members of my family have been wishing for a girl since long. Now, I have been blessed with a daughter,” said Mr Ram Singh and hoped that the authorities concerned would allow him to adopt the child legally.

He said he had been contacting prominent citizens with a request to help him getting permission from the authorities concerned to legally adopt the child. He added that he had informed the gurdwara sangat about the fact that he had taken the child to his house.

“We will distribute sweets and celebrate the birth of a girl in my house after the authorities concerned give us permission to legally adopt her,” he said and added that the child had brought a wave of happiness in his house.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said he had asked the police station concerned to make investigations after he came to know about the fact that a baby girl was found abandoned in the gurdwara. He added that the police authorities would not object if anyone wanted to adopt the abandoned girl after following the proper procedure and completing all formalities. 


Seminar on water conservation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 26
Inaugurating a national seminar on “Water — elixir of life” at the Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology at Ghabdan village, near here yesterday, Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal Central Institute of Engineering and Technology, Longowal, motivated the students to adopt an eco-friendly approach and understand the importance of water in life.

He also asked them to work wholeheartedly for the conservation and protection of water for the generations to come.

Dr Chauhan also stated that the Longowal Institute was already doing a job to clean the sullage water at its campus.

Dr S.K. Saxena, Director, National Environment Awareness Campaign, Chandigarh, said the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology was working to conserve water and creating awareness about cleaning pond-water for irrigation purposes.

Dr Rajesh Grover from Chandigarh talked about the biotechnological projects of the PSCST with special emphasis on the problem of sullage ponds in the rural areas. Dr K.P. Singh from Panjab University, Chandigarh, emphasised on the ground water management and highlighted the government’s activities in this direction at Sangrur.

Others emphasised on the conservation of rain water in ponds to recharge the ground water level.


513 kids examined at health camp

Fatehgarh Sahib
The Lions Club, Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind organised a free medical health camp for children at Government High School, Talanian, on Thursday. Mr Iman Singh Mann, son of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), inaugurated the camp. 

A general check-up, dental check-up and eye check-up was done by a team of experienced doctors from the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib. As many as 513 children were checked and medicines were given free of cost. Sixteen children were diagnosed with defective vision to whom spectacles would be provided free of cost by the Lions Club. — OC


High Court
Wireless scam
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 26
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant today directed the Punjab Government to produce in court the entire record pertaining to the wireless purchase scam.

Giving this order during hearing in a public interest litigation filed by two advocates - Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra, seeking a comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore, the Bench adjourned the matter to September 2.

Two senior police officers, former Additional Director general of Police (Computers and Wireless) D.R. Bhatti and former Superintendent of Police (Telecommunications) Malwinder Singh Sidhu, have already been chargesheeted by the Punjab Government for their alleged involvement in the case.

An affidavit had also been filed by Mr Bhatti, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged irregularities in the purchase. In his affidavit, Mr Bhatti had stated that he was willing to face the consequences if the CBI came to the conclusion that there was any misconduct on their part.


SHO in his police station, but behind bars
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 26
Mr Gurtej Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), city police station, was put behind bars today in the same police station after he was caught by a team of the Vigilance Bureau while allegedly taking bribe from Mr Surinder Singh, a bus operator.

This is the second instance of a police official being arrested while taking bribe in the past 10 days. Earlier, Mr Mithu Ram, Assistant Sub Inspector, incharge of the Ladhuwala police post was arrested while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000.

Mr Raminder Singh, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Muktsar, said Mr Gurtej Singh had taken Rs 2,000 from Mr Surinder Singh for registering a compromise reached between Mr Surinder Singh and the conductor of his bus, Mr Binder Singh. He added that the “bribe money” was recovered from a Home Guard jawan, Ramesh Kumar, posted in the city police station. Ramesh Kumar had allegedly taken the money from Mr Surinder Singh on behalf of Mr Gurtej Singh.

He said there had been a dispute between Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Binder Singh over Rs 8,500 that the latter owed to the former.

Mr Gurtej Singh made them reach a compromise, but allegedly demanded a bribe for registering it.

Mr Surinder Singh lodged a complaint with the Vigilance Bureau regarding the demand. A trap was laid and Mr Gurtej Singh was arrested by the bureau in the presence of witnesses. The vigilance team also carried out a search of his official residence here and a private residence at Abohar.

A case has been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act at the Vigilance Bureau police station, Ferozepore. 


Youth sets girl on fire
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 26
A 15-year-old girl was set on fire by a youth reportedly for not responding to his overtures. The victim is struggling for life at Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. She had suffered 90 per cent burns.

At about 10 am residents of Street 20 of the Nai Abadi locality noticed flames coming out from a house and heard heart-rending cries of a girl. There were three tenants staying in the house but everyone except the teenaged girl had gone to earn their daily wages.

Ranjeeta (name changed) was cooking meals when a youth entered the house forcibly. He tried to strangle her at first but when she resisted his attempts, he sprinkled kerosene and set her on fire.

According to sources, the youth had brought kerosene and matchsticks with him.

The residents of the locality had seen a boy running but could not catch him. They could not establish his identity also. Ranjeeta was rushed to the Civil Hospital. She was able to narrate the incident to the local police as well as her parents who arrived after half an hour. The contents of her statement were, however, not disclosed. Her parents refused to divulge the identity of the youth, when asked.


Two booked for man’s murder
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 26
A person was killed at Bhodiwala village over an illicit relationship here on late Tuesday night. Two persons have been booked in this connection. Sources said that the deceased, Gurmail Singh, used to work on the agricultural land of a farmer, Surjeet Singh, who had developed illicit relations with Gurmail’s wife.

One day Gurmail Singh saw his wife and Surjeet in a compromising position. He started preventing his wife from meeting him. When Surjeet came to know about this, he along with his servant, Sadik, made Gurmail drink hooch on Tuesday, which led to his death.

The police has handed over the victim’s body to his family members after a post-mortem examination. A case has been registered against both the accused.


Patwari caught accepting bribe
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 26
A vigilance team has caught a patwari red-handed while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 in Bilaspur area of the district. The patwari, Joginder Singh, had demanded the bribe from a farmer for transferring a piece of land which he had bought recently in his name.

The farmer, Rajinder Singh, struck the deal and informed the Vigilance Bureau, which laid a trap and caught the patwari red-handed.


4 booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 26
Four persons have been booked in a fraud case in which the complainant was duped of Rs 8 lakh under the pretext of getting him married to a Canada-based girl. The complainant, Ravinder Singh of Jatana, stated that he had given Rs 4 lakh to the accused who had promised him to send him abroad after getting him married to a Canadian girl. Later, he gave them the second instalment of Rs 4 lakh, but they started delaying the matter. After this one of the accused sold his home and fled.

The police has registered a case against the accused.


2 boys, 2 girls nabbed for ‘objectionable’ activities, freed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 26
A police team raided a cyber cafe in the Budha Dal complex in the city today and nabbed five persons for indulging in “objectionable” activities. Those caught included two boys and two girls, besides owner of the cafe Jagjit Singh.

However, on the plea of parents of the teenagers, the youngsters were let off with a warning and no case was registered against them. The cafe has been subsequently locked. The owner has, however, asserted that the youngsters had been coming to the cafe to avail “computer coaching” offered by him.

There have been allegations against cyber cafe owners that they have set up private cabins which can accommodate two persons at a time. Cafes in the outer areas of the city have recently earned a notoriety for offering complete privacy to youngsters.


Couple murdered, suspect held
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 26
A middle-aged couple was murdered by their nephew in Mohalla Ram Nagar on the Lalheri Road here on Wednesday early morning. The couple was found dead in their bedroom this morning. The deceased were identified as Jarnail Singh (50), a box manufacturing unit owner, and her wife, Shinder Kaur (45), while their two-year-old grandson remained unharmed.

Meanwhile, the suspect, Gurpreet Singh, was arrested today. According to Mr Dilbagh Singh, SHO, Khanna city, Gurpreet Singh was arrested from the Haibowal Kalan locality in Ludhiana. Mr Dibagh Singh said the motive behind the murder was lure of property of Mr Jarnail Singh and the possession of his grandson.


Bhattal to inquire into PTU project payments
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 26
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Technical Education, Punjab, said she would conduct an inquiry into the case pertaining to the payments made by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) to Bangalore-based Mindlogicx Infotech Ltd for the tele-education programme that was launched at Red Cross Bhawan here yesterday.

Ms Bhattal while talking to mediapersons at Circuit House before the launch ceremony of the programme, said that she had obtained media reports that stated that an amount of Rs 1.5 crore, which was 12.5 per cent of the students fee, had gone for the project while many students who had already paid the fees were yet to use the service. 


Students protest against private bus operators
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 26
Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) today blocked traffic for about 20 minutes in front of the Government Ranbir College here to protest against the alleged callous behaviour of the private bus operators towards the students having bus-passes. They also organised a rally on the college campus in this regard. The protesters raised slogans and condemned the alleged anti-student actions of the private bus operators and their employees.

Addressing the rally, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, district secretary of the PRSU, alleged that the students holding bus-passes were being forced to get down from the private buses by the employees and owners at various places. At some places, the students had also been beaten up. Besides, the employees of private bus operators also prevented the students having passes from boarding their buses, he added.

The district secretary announced that the PRSU would not allow the private bus operators and their employees to “snatch” the pass facility from the students.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the Ranbir College unit of the PRSU, also asked the students to be ready to face challenges posed by the anti-student forces.

A 17-member college committee of the PRSU, was also elected on the occasion. Mr Gursewak Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Jassi and Ms Bir Pal Kaur were elected president, vice-president and secretary, respectively.


Beopar Mandal gives consent to VAT implementation
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 26
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has given its consent to the implementation of VAT with effect from April 1, 2005 provided it is uniform and implemented in all states simultaneously. The tax structure should be reasonable and same for all provinces.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, said here yesterday that the representatives of traders led by the national president of the mandal, Mr Sanjay Sethi, had discussed various problems during a 90-minute meeting with Mr P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister, at his North Block office recently. He had assured that the problems would be looked into sympathetically and representatives of traders would be inducted in various technical committees.

The state unit, in a memorandum faxed to the Union Finance Minister from here yesterday, said a rebate of input credit against CST paid should be allowed. While implementing the VAT the state governments should be directed to completely abolish the octroi duty, market fee and other similar petty taxes. Many other countries had adopted this policy before enforcing VAT, the mandal said. The memorandum also urged the Union Government to clarify the fate of sales tax exemption which the industrial units were enjoying at present.

The memorandum referred to an exception taken by the state Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, who had categorically refused to bring sales tax rate on a par with that in other states. The state had been unwilling to endorse the idea of enforcing floor tax on 200 goods that had been recommended two years ago. Mandal urged the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to clear the hurdles that some states might create for their vested political interests in deferring uniform and simplified tax structure throughout the country.

Mr Kapoor said disparity in the tax structure and variation in the policy across the state boundaries was the root cause of corruption that endangered the basic economy of the country. There had been tall talks of winning freedom from the “Inspector Raj” but lack of will and criminalisation of politics had jeopardised all sincere moves. He hoped that the government would not force the mandal to resort to any kind of agitation on these issues.

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