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CM may not get space on VVIP stage
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 29
While akhand path would be arranged at Gurdwara Ramsar, where Guru Granth Sahib was installed 400 years ago, to mark formal quadricentennial celebrations tomorrow, the illumination of Hindu temples, mosques, religious deras, schools, colleges and even police stations today added to the festivities here today.

Mr Surinder Arjun, working president, Durgiana Temple Committee, said the temple would continue to illuminate till the end of quadricentennial celebrations.

He said though neither the SGPC nor the SAD had made any formal request, the committee had decided on its own to celebrate this historic occasion. Marwari and Chhani temples in the vicinity of the Golden Temple were also lighted up to mark the occasion. The Bajrang Dal and other Hindu organisations have also come forward to cooperate with Sikh organisations during the celebrations.

Various social, religious and political organisations have come forward to arrange langars for devotees who thronged the holy city today.

The Golden Temple and Gurdwara Ramsar have become cynosure of all. It is expected that more than 25 lakh devotees from all over the world would visit it till September 1. The district administration has barricaded all roads and lanes leading to the Golden Temple.

The Prime Minister is expected to visit Golden Temple on September 1 at 11 am. However, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Akali minister and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, suggested that the Prime Minister should pay obeisance in the morning to avoid any inconvenience to the devotees.

He said the SAD, in consultation with the SGPC, would finalise who would be accommodated on the VVIP’s dais. When asked whether Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister would be accommodated on the dais, he quipped it was yet to be decided.

He, however, said as per red book, the NSG may allow only eight or nine persons on the VVIP’s stage.

He said the Prime Minister, three former Prime Ministers, the Dalai Lama and Mr Parkash Singh Badal would address the Sikh sangat from the VVIP’s stage.

 

Pandal for celebrations to cost Rs 20 lakh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
A decorative pandal, costing more than Rs 20 lakh, is being erected under the supervision of Ms Sewa Kaur Khalsa, a Los Angeles-based designer, for the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Parkash Sammelan to be held on September 1. Hundreds of special pandal workers from Kolkata are working round the clock to erect the waterproof pandal to meet the deadline. A special stage has been built on which the ‘saroop’ of Sri Guru Granth Sahib will be installed.

The entire cost of the pandal, according to Shiromani Akali Dal chief Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was being borne by Sikh organisations from Mumbai and abroad. The massive pandal covering an area of 650x200 square feet, will accommodate around two lakh devotees. It will have three large stages and several screens are being installed at vantage points..

Giving details of the arrangement at the venue, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, said the main function connected with the Parkash utsav would be held at this venue where the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, former Prime Ministers, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Chandra Shekhar, along with spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and several political and religious leaders would address the sammelan. He said eminent ragi jathas and ‘katha vachaks’ from various parts of the country and abroad would recite gurbani.

He said three stages were being constructed. Sri Guru Granth Sahib would be installed on the centre stage. The Los Angeles-based stage designer, Ms Khalsa, said the stage, 28-foot wide and 24 feet in length, would be tastefully decorated. She refused to give more information.

The former Finance Minister said two more stages were also being constructed. He said on the left side of the Guru Granth Sahib stage, would be the VVIP stage and facing it would be the VIP stage. He said the arrangement had been done in view of security.

He said a separate media centre had also been set up, which would have facilities like six Internet connections, five telephones, fax, etc. He said nine separate ‘langars’ would be run by the SGPC, Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Nada Sahib, Maan Singh Pehowa wale, Baba Harbans Singh, Baba Shisha Singh and Baba Jagtar Singh. A number of makeshift toilets had also been constructed for the convenience of the public, he added.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the management of Gurdwara Machiwara had been assigned the task of providing water while two fully equipped mobile medical vans would also be available. He said all pandal arrangements would be completed positively by August 31.

In addition, the road leading from New Amritsar to Golden Temple had been decorated by erecting colourful welcome gates and installing buntings and banners. Some devotees had already started distributing langar on the roadside to pilgrims coming from outside as the entrance to the city is from the Amritsar-Jalandhar road.

Meanwhile, a number of social and political organisations have expressed resentment at the virtual absence of any concrete plan to make the holy city clean and beautiful for this grand occasion. The Amritsar Vikas Manch, a social organisation, and the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, a political party, have written to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, urging him to announce special measures for the benefit of the city and its people. They have, in separate letters, requested for the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar road, creation of for special economic zone for the three border districts, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore, launching of Lahore-Amritsar-Nankana Sahib shuttle bus service and completion of the work at the Amritsar International Airport.

 

Overwhelming response to Chetna Marches
Tribune Reporters

Talwandi Sabo, August 29
The bhog of Sri Akhand Path Sahib, recitation of ardas, playing of gatka and nagara by Nihangs and chanting of slogan “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” marked the beginning of Gurmat Chetna March being taken out on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the installation of Adi Granth at Golden Temple by Guru Arjan Dev, from Takht Damdama Sahib.

This historic town, where Guru Gobind Singh compiled Adi Granth in 1706, today was a sea of saffron and blue, with devotees turning up in large numbers wearing blue and saffron colour turbans. After the ardas was performed, Bhai Nandgarh carried the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib on his head and placed the same on a special vehicle. Long lines of devotees were witnessed in the Takht Damdama Sahib complex at the historic gurdwara.

As the march inched towards Bathinda from Takht Damdama Sahib, people residing in various villages on the Bathinda-Talwandi Sabo road came on the main road to pay their obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib, which was placed in a palki. The march was led by two elephants, with Nihangs on the back, 400 horses with Nihangs in their traditional attire and equipped with traditional weapons on their back and workers of the Youth Akali Dal (Badal) on scooters and motor cycles.

Hundreds of welcome arches on the route of the march were in place. A number of Sikh personalities were honoured at Takht Damdama Sahib with siropas.

Former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal, Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, and Baba Santa Singh, head, 96 Crori Buddha Dal Nihang sect, also accompanied the march. Heads of other sects of Nihangs also participated in the march.

The entire route of the march witnessed a flood of langars. The Gurmat Chetna March took five hours to cover a distance of 25 km from this town to Bathinda. It is likely to reach Muktsar late tonight.

Abohar: The march carrying a holy ‘bir’ from Rajasthan was given a rousing reception by the Sikh sangat as it passed through this subdivisional town on its way to Amritsar. The ‘bir’ was placed in a specially decorated van provided by the Darbar Sahib. Thousands of devotees, including children and women, from different parts of Rajasthan boarded vehicles that made a part of the impressive march led by Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk here was washed and tastefully decorated as Mr Pohla Singh Jakhar, president, Mr Narain Singh Saharan, vice-president and Mr Beant Singh, manager, of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha presented ‘siropas’ to Giani Puran Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, former minister.

Other eminent citizens who received the march included Mr Tejwinder Singh Aulakh, Mr Gurbachan Singh Sran secretary Bhag Singh Hayer College for Women, Mr Baldev Singh Hayer, Mr Baldev Singh Brar, Dr Gurdial Singh Chauhan former Director of the RFRS, and Giani Naib Singh. No leader of the BJP or other political parties and social organisations attended the reception.

SAD leaders, Mr Gurtej Singh Ghuriana, former MLA, Mr Kaur Singh and Mr Gursharan Singh received the march as it entered the town. A large number of students of Singh Sabha Kanya Pathshala showered flower petals on the procession as the devotees waited for paying obeisance to the Holy Granth at Singh Sabha Gurdwara. The youth workers led the procession inside the town on motor cycles raising religious slogans as the band players recited ‘shabads’. The police had cleared the route by removing ‘rehris’ from the Sunday vegetable market outside the office of the DSP.

As many as 51 welcome gates were put on the main roads of the town. ‘Prasad’ was made available at a dozen places, including outside Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital besides drinking water stalls.

Sangrur: Gurmat Chetna March, which started from Takht Sri Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra to reach Amritsar in connection with quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib of Guru Granth Sahib, today entered Punjab near Khanauri village in Sangrur district.

A warm welcome was accorded to the march by thousands of persons on the Punjab-Haryana border. The march is being led by Guru Granth Sahib, placed in a palanquin and escorted by the “Panj Piyaras.” An aircraft showered colour paper slips on the march at Khanauri village.

The march which was scheduled to reach Sangrur at 1.30 pm today, could not reach even Dirba village, about 26 km from here, till 7 pm. After reaching Dirba, the march is scheduled to halt at Sulargharat village, Mehlan chowk, Kherri Sahib village before reaching the Sangrur.

KARNAL: Khalsa March that started from Banaras reached here on Sunday. Thousands of Sikh devotees welcomed the march and offered ardas to mark the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Early in the morning, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members of Haryana welcomed the march at the Kundli border in Sonepat district from where it entered Haryana.

The march, led by senior SAD leader and SGPC member Raghujit Singh Virk, passed through Sonepat, Samalkha, Panipat, Gharaunda and reached Karnal.

The march made a brief halt here for about an hour. Then it proceeded to Pipli, Ambala and entered Punjab through the Shambu border.

 

Fear brings Pak Hindus to Sikh fold
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 29
While the Sikh leadership in India, especially in Punjab, is worried over rising trend of ‘patitpuna’ (apostate), a large number of Sindhi Hindus (devout ‘Sehajdharis’) in Pakistan, have joined the Sikh fold by getting themselves baptised.

The reason may be their continuous persecution at the hands of radical Muslim organisations or devotion to Sikhism, but this is a fact that at least 25 per cent ‘Sehajdhari Sikhs’ from the Sindh province have been baptised in the recent past.

It sounds unbelievable that persons who introduced themselves as Jawahar Singh, Vijay Singh and Parkash Singh with blowing beards were Jawahar Lal, Vijay Kumar and Om Parkash, respectively, only few months ago. As compared to the Hindus, the Sikhs are considered more safe in Pakistan. Many Pakistani Hindus, who had come to India, in the past had never returned to their country, due to their continuous persecution.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Vijay Singh said there were more than 15 lakh Hindus in Sindh province itself, who were devout Sehajdhari Sikhs. He said most of the Sindhis could easily read Guru Granth Sahib in ‘Gurmukhi’ script without any problem. Mr Darshan Singh (previous name Darshan Lal) said the ‘Gurmukhi’ was being taught in Hindu temples and Gurdwaras to the younger generation, so that they could remain devout Sikhs.

These temples, schools and Gurdwaras include Baba Hardass Ram School, Gurdwara Nanakwara, Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh, Guru Arjan Dev Pathshala and Baba Bhoj Ram Temple. Raja, a student of class VII from Dehrki district (Pakistan) said he would be baptised as per the wishes of his parents (Sehajdhari Sikhs) shortly.

Baba Amir Singh and Baba Amarjit Singh from Peshawar said the Pakistani Sikhs got disappointed when they saw ‘patit’ Sikhs accompanying the Indian jathas, who visited Pakistan every year, to pay their obeisance in Gurdwaras there. They said the government of India should not give visas to the ‘patit Sikhs’ to visit Pakistan as their appearance hurt the sentiments of the Sikh Sangat in Pakistan. They said the SGPC should not recommend the visas at ‘patit Sikhs’.

Baba Amarjit Singh, a Granthi of Gurdwara Joga Singh (Peshawar) said the Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan would like to meet Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht for seeking his guidance to maintain ‘Maryada’ in gurdwaras of Pakistan.

Though the SGPC or Akal Takht object to the performance of akhand path in temples in India , Guru Granth Sahib is placed in a number of temples in Pakistan. A number of Pakistani Hindus including Mr Jai Ram and Mr Jaipal said they perform path of Guru Granth Sahib in temples every day.

 

Badungar for SGPC representation in
books review panel

Phagwara, August 29
Former the SGPC President Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar today demanded inclusion of two representatives of the SGPC in the committee constituted by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to review history books. Talking to mediapersons, Prof Badungar alleged that the present panel was dominated by Leftists, who knew little about religion.

The Sikh history was distorted in NCERT books but the NDA Government had put the record straight after the SGPC had raised the issue, he said.

Prof Badungar endorsed the observations of SAD President Parkash Singh Badal about overhauling the SGPC and evolving system in which the real message of Guru Granth Sahib was conveyed on true scientific lines.

Prof Badungar urged Dr Manmohan Singh, who is visiting the Golden Temple on September 1 to announce general amnesty for all Sikh detenus languishing in jails for the last 20 years. These persons were jailed during days of militancy and Operation Bluestar and most of them were falsely implicated, remarked Badungar.

He also demanded a daily bus between Lahore and Amritsar for the benefit of those Muslims who have relatives in Pakistan and India as well as for Sikh pilgrims who have many gurdwaras left in Pakistan, he said. A corridor should be provided between Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan and Dera Baba Nanak in India with hassle-free visa regime as both these gurdwaras were on the two sides of Ravi and associated with Guru Nanak Dev he said.

Prof Badungar also asked the Prime Minister PM to declare national holiday on September 1 so that devotees from various parts of country could take part in the celebrations.

Prof Badungar also urged President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to honour his promise made during his visit to Golden Temple on March 23 last year about retrieval of rare manuscripts and relics taken away by the Army from Sikh Reference Library during the Operation Bluestar.

 

PM to launch Durgiana Temple website
Our Correspondent

Amritsar august 29
The maiden website of the Durgiana Temple will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on September 1, during his visit to the temple.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, here.

The temple website, www.durgianatirath.com, will make all information available on the net, including various mandirs under it, cremation ground, dharmshalas, educational, medical and health units under the management. It will also showcase the temple, its future planning including improvements, maintenance and new additions.

Besides the religious, heritage and historical importance of the temple on can access routes and other paraphernalia of information on it.

In a memorandum, the temple management headed by its working president Surinder Arjun would also urge the Prime Minister for a special package for the beautification of the temple.

It would ask for handing over the land, belonging to the Ministry of Defence to the temple management. About five acres of land is presently on lease to the temple management. The annual mela during Dussehra is held here.

 

Poachers strike again; nabbed with catch and bait
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

The Fisheries Department, Punjab, has taken a very serious view of increasing number of poaching cases in Gurdaspur district. Director and Warden, Fisheries, Punjab, Mr Baljit Singh Sidhu has issued warnings to his officials in the area, and has asked them to launch a massive crackdown on poachers active there. The idea is to prevent poaching in the breeding season which is the most sensitive time for the fish. Poaching in July and August is banned under the Fisheries Act, 1914. The culprits can face imprisonment and fine or both.

Chandigarh, August 29
In less than a week after illegal fishing was reported from Taakhi village in Gurdaspur, another major case of poaching has come to light in the district, this time about 20 km away from the earlier spot.

On a routine night patrol in the Bhed Pattan area of Gurdaspur two days ago, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Gurdaspur, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, busted another racket, this time involving the poaching of big fish. When he surveyed the notified river area in Bhed Pattan after getting concerned with the unnatural flow of water at night, he was shocked to discover a 30 feet long fishing line sporting about 200 hooks, each carrying small fish as bait for trapping the big fish.

Nabbed for illegal fishing in the Beas, poachers with containers loaded with small fish which they use as bait to catch big fish. (Left) Nabbed for illegal fishing in the Beas, poachers with containers loaded with small fish which they use as bait to catch big fish. (Right): Live fish inside containers confiscated from poachers.

Placed at a distance of 5 feet each, the hooks covered an area of about 800 feet in a single stretch of the Beas which incidentally caught the eye of the wildlife official. An intensified search of the area led to the nabbing of two poachers, one from Dhariwal village and the other from Sohal village near Gurdaspur. The rest are said to have escaped under cover of darkness.

Kala and Swaroop, who admitted to having been involved in poaching earlier also, were arrested along with two containers loaded with hundreds of small fish meant to be used as bait for the big catch in the Beas. Soon after the culprits were nabbed, half of the hooks being used by them for illegal fishing in the breeding season were confiscated by the officials on patrol.

By the next morning, Mr Bajwa and his team recovered the remaining hooks which the poachers had affixed to the fishing line already laid down in the river. Incidentally, the hooks also had baits fixed on to them.

The poachers have been handed over to the Fisheries Department officials for further action in the case. The case again confirms that poaching in Gurdaspur district is assuming alarming proportions. Despite suspension of Fisheries Officer, Pathankot, who bore the brunt of illegal fishing in Taakhi village, reported by The Tribune on August 23, there seems to be no end to poaching in the area. Bhed Pattan where the latest case of poaching has come to light is located about 20 km downstream the Beas from Taakhi village where poachers were spotted last week.

 

No plans to abolish octroi soon
Our Correspondent

Simmering differences among senior Cabinet colleagues of the Congress government once again came to fore as two senior ministers and a Congress MLA preferred to stay away from the function despite being in the city. Though the names of Punjab ministers — Mr Avtar Henry (Jalandhar-North), Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee (Jalandhar-South) and Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, MLA from Jalandhar Central Assembly constituency, were pointed on the invitation cards, they were conspicuous by their absence at the function. When asked why these ministers did not attend the function, which were presided over by him, Choudhary Jagjit Singh said, “I can not comment on the issue.”

Jalandhar, August 29
The state government has no immediate plans to abolish octroi system as an exercise to suggest alternative revenue collection arrangements is still on. This was revealed by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh at a function after laying the foundation stone of Dr B.R. Ambedkar Administrative Complex of the Municipal Corporation here today.

“The civic bodies are carrying out various development projects in their respective areas following receipt of income from octroi. We just cannot stop charging octroi without making any alternative arrangement,” he said, adding that the poll promise to abolish the octroi regime would be kept by the Congress government. The minister, who was accompanied by Mayor Surinder Mahey, said the corporation had awarded a contract for the construction of administrative complex on a profit-sharing pattern.

“The private contractor will bear the entire cost of about Rs 6 crore while a sum of Rs 9 crore is expected to be collected through sale of shops which will be part of the complex. We are expecting to earn Rs 3 crore without investing a single penny,” he said. The complex would have a huge underground parking lot.

He said a plan to construct an ultra-modern parking plaza at the Model Town market had been approved. “The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 9 crore while the revenue through the sale of shops will fetch Rs 24 crore to the corporation, he said.

When asked about the reports regarding a move to remove some of the chairmen of the Improvement Trust in the state, he evaded a direct reply and said, “I came to know about the development only through newspapers. The state government may effect any changes.”

 

Accused seeks probe into torture
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 29
An accused in a murder case has alleged that the Fatehgarh Panjtoor police resorted to third degree torture while he was in their “illegal” custody for eight days. The accused, Nishan Singh, has levelled this allegation in a letter sent to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC).

In an affidavit, accompanying Nishan Singh’s letter to the PSHRC, his wife Kuldeep Kaur stated that a case was registered against her husband under sections 302, 34 and 120B of the IPC on August 14. Her husband was impricated in a false case in connivance with the opposite party in a dispute over a piece of land. She further alleged that the SHO of the police station, Mr Ranjeet Singh Sotha, kept her husband in “illegal” custody for eight days and adopted third degree methods to torture him. The police didn’t even produce her husband in the court during this period, she alleged.

She alleged that soon after his arrest the SHO undressed him and blackened his face with the aid of other policemen. The SHO then tied him with a tree on the premises of the police station and thrashed him brutally. According to her, the residents of the area witnessed the whole incident. The SHO made him sit on the bonnet of a jeep, garlanded him with shoes, and took him around the village and humiliated him in front of villagers.

She alleged that the SHO inserted a bottle of beer in the private parts of the accused with the help of other policemen. She alleged that the policemen also pulled his hair. The torture had left her husband mentally tense.

Kuldeep Kaur said her husband was produced in the court for the first time on August 24 and prior to it he was kept in “illegal” custody. She said her whole family was undergoing trauma and they could commit suicide any moment for which the SHO would be responsible. She has demanded a thorough probe into the matter and strict action against the SHO. The SHO and the SSP could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

 

Police accused in 2 custodial deaths: DGP
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, August 28
Director-General of Police A.A.Siddiqui said that five persons had died in police custody. He said in three cases the police was innocent and in the remaining two, proceedings had been initiated against the erring policemen. Addressing a press conference, he clarified that the Punjab police had no role with regards to Central jails inner security. He added the police was trying its best to arrest the absconding prisoners. He disclosed that under a long-term planning, which would last up to 2008, training camps were being organised at Mumbai in order to make the force more active. He further said that regular attempts were being made to modernise the force. He refused to comment on the IPS and PPS issue as the case was sub-judice.

On a question over the smuggling of narcotics from other states, he said Punjab had the capacity to check the illegal activity and the issue had been discussed with the neighboring states to find a way out.

Later the DGP, along with the DIG and the SSP, participated in a mass marriage function organised at the Nagpal Tourism Complex. The function was organised jointly by the Punjab police and local social organisation, in which 25 poor families girls were married.

 
COMMUNITY
 

Similar benefits for other widows sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Following the Punjab Government's recent announcement clearing the appointment of several next of kin of soldiers who were killed in the 1999 Kargil conflict, ex-servicemen have sought equal status for widows of soldiers killed in other operations as well.

According to a statement issued here by the All-India Defence Brotherhood (AIDB), widows of soldiers killed in declared wars are classified as "war widows", but those whose husbands are killed in operations against militants or due to other reasons are classified as "other widows". While the former get some benefits from the government, the latter receive very little support.

The AIDB has pointed out that the treatment meted out by the government to widows of soldiers is appalling and in sharp contrast with their civilian counterparts. If a civilian employee dies in harness, his widow or ward is automatically given a suitable job, but no such provision exists for the armed forces personnel.

 

Self-employment training camp organised
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 29
Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary, Irrigation and Horticulture, said here yesterday the 10+2 education system had completely failed in its principal aim of exploring avenues for self-employment.

While inaugurating a self-employment training camp at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, he said the system had disappointed the youths, but it was not possible for the government to provide jobs. Specialisation in technical trainings for self-employment was the only solution, he added.

Mr Balbir Singh, senior consultant in the North India Technical Consultancy Organisation, Chandigarh, said youths would be entitled for availing 30 per cent subsidy from the Union Government. About 30 youths participated in the training camp.

 

Bus operators, students hold rallies
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 28
Hundreds of commuters suffered inconvenience after private bus operators observed a complete strike to protest against the damage to their buses by students on Friday.

The bus operators also announced that they would not ply their buses till the authorities concerned did not take any action against the guilty students and ensure their safety.

On the other hand, student organisations held a meeting and decided to take out a march to the Deputy Commissioner’s office from the college on August 31 to lodge their protest against the attack made on them by bus operators. Both the bus operators and the students held separate rallies. Though tension prevailed in the town, no untoward incident took place.

Three students were severely injured and two buses were damaged following a clash between bus operators and students at the link road on Friday.

Mr Gurbachan Singh Laddi, a bus operator of the district, talking to TNS disclosed that the bus operators of the district had decided to go on an indefinite strike. He added that the state body of the bus operators, the Punjab Motor Union, would hold a meeting today to work out the strategy to deal with the situation. He alleged that a section of district officials tried to sabotage their strike.

BATHINDA: Numerous students belonging to the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa group) on Saturday blocked traffic in front of the local Government Rajindra College and Government College, Sardargarh village of this district, to protest against the alleged high-handedness of private bus operators and the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned.

The students, who were agitated over an attack made by a section of private bus operators on some students at Mansa town yesterday, also held a rally and staged a dharna.

The students alleged that though the high-handedness of the private bus operators had been rising day by day, the authorities concerned had not taken steps to contain it. They alleged that the bus operators had not been extending the facility of concessional travelling to the students despite the fact that the state government had directed them to do the same.

 

Union decries assault on students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 29
The Punjab Students Union today condemned the assault on students by private bus operators in Mansa recently.

The union condemned “anti-student” actions of private bus operators and their employees. The president of the local unit, Mr Kulwinder Singh, said employees of private bus operators prevented students from having bus passes for boarding their buses.

He added that they would not allow private bus operators and their employees to “snatch” the facility from the students.

The union has appealed the state government to resolve the issue immediately.

 

Villagers protest against water connection charges
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 29
Residents of Jamsher village near here held a demonstration yesterday to protest against a recent decision of the Public Health Department with regard to charging a sum of Rs 2,485 as fee for providing water connection.

Addressing the residents, the member of the state committee of the Dihati Mazdoor Sabha, Punjab, Mr Baldev Singh Noorpuri, alleged that government officials were removing the existing connections without any prior notice.

“The hand pumps in the village had already gone dry due to a fall in the water table. The residents cannot afford to pay for augmentation of hand pumps and the recent decision of the department has come as a severe blow to the residents, particularly, Dalits and weaker sections of the society,” he said.

The residents raised anti-government slogans. They said it was the duty of the state government to provide drinking water facility in the villages.

 
ADMINISTRATION

MC razes unauthorised structures
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 29
As many as 10 unauthorised structures were demolished by the Municipal Corporation in various localities of the city here yesterday.

The corporation pulled down three illegal shops near Blossom Public School, four on the Alipur road, two at Diesel Loco-modernization Works, one in Century Enclave, which had not got building plans approved from the corporation.

 
CRIME

Four held for demanding ransom
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 29
The police has arrested four youths, who were allegedly involved in mercilessly beating up of a lottery vendor when he did not fulfil the demand of ransom raised by the accused.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday, said the four accused had been identified as Ravinder Pal Singh, Swaranjit Singh, Rajinder Singh alias Kan and Rajvir Singh. All these accused were remanded in judicial custody. A case was registered against them.

 

Fake CDs recovered, two held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 29
The CIA staff has arrested two persons allegedly involved in the business of selling fake CDs and DVDs here today.

According to the information, the police recovered 180 fake CDs, 47 DVDs, two computers and 3,300 fake wrappers from Bittu Kumar, alias Rajinder Singh, and Varinder Singh, alias Kali, who were running a video shop — Bittu Video Club — in Rajpura town.

A case has under Sections 420, 294 and 293 of the IPC and 51, 52, 52A, 53A, 63, 63B, 65, 66B and 68 of the Copyright Act, 1957, been registered against the accused.

 
EDUCATION

No takers for commercial art in Govt Polytechnic
Students want diploma to be recognised
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
Commercial art, “the diploma of the future” as it was touted when started at the Government Woman Polytechnic here in 1992, has no takers with not a single being enrolled in the course during counselling being held in Chandigarh by the State Board of Technical Education, even as the final year students of the course have started a “struggle” to demand recognition of the degree for recruitment in government service.

This is not the first time that students have not opted for this three-year diploma. Even last year no students opted for this course during counselling and later when the polytechnic was asked to admit students itself, only three students got themselves enrolled. They, however, left midway.

This year too no student has opted for the course till date during counselling being held by the Technical Education Board at Chandigarh.

This means there is only one class of students of Commercial Art in the Women Polytechnic here. These students, who are in their fifth semester, have woken up to the futility of their situation with the diploma not being considered for eligibility for any government job. This despite the fact that students doing other two-year diplomas are eligible for government jobs as are those pursuing bachelors degrees in fine arts.

The final year students of the course are now agitating for recognition of their course by the government. “This is the only way in which the course can be revived”, says Pardeep Kaur. She says the students had met the Director, Technical Education, to make this demand.

The students also claim that a conspiracy has been hatched to “finish off” their course. We had five teachers earlier, excluding the head of the department,” says Sukhpreet Kaur. She says even though the jobs were specifically for teaching commercial art, one Lecturer was transferred to Amritsar and two to Chandigarh.

“One of our lecturers has medical problems while the head of the department has been posted as Principal of another polytechnic. This effectively leaves us with only one teacher”, she adds.

Says polytechnic Principal M.S. Sidhu: “Since the course has lost popularity, two teachers are sufficient to teach one batch of students who are presently studying the course”.

The principal says the course has been affected with the opening of private polytechnics offering a large number of professional courses. He says besides this, the course was started when technical education was free for woman.

“This is no longer the case with private polytechnics charging the same fee as the government on free seats”, he says.

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