P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rousing welcome to Chetna Marches
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, August 30
The Gurmat Chetna March, carrying the holy bir, was accorded a tremendous reception here last night amidst great enthusiasm and religious fervour. Thousands of devotees had gathered on both sides of the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road to pay their obeisance to the holy bir brought from Rajasthan.

Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, former Irrigation Minister, and district president, SAD, Mr Nand Kishore Gugan, circle jathedar, Mr Sukhpal Singh, MLA, and other Sikh leaders received the March at the Fazilka Chowk along with workers and representatives of various social, religious and political organisations, including the Arya Samaj, Bajrang Dal, BJP, Sanatam Dharam Sabha, Shiv Shakti Yog Mission and the Arhtiya Association.

Mr Sekhon said the March would spread the message of peace, harmony and respect for all religions.

The Punjab Police personnel welcomed the March in front of the police lines. More than 500 motorcyclists received the March on the Fazilka road. The March later proceeded towards Khalsa Gurdwara. Thousands of children with orange flags and dressed in colourful attires performed bhangra on both sides of the G T Road. The entire stretch of the road till the Jamni Sahib Vajidpur Gurdwara was decorated with colourful flags and banners. Mr Sekhon said the Gurmat Chetna March which had started from Bikaner would reach Amritsar tomorrow evening.

Phagwara: Phagwara wore a bridal look on Monday as Hindus and Muslims rubbed shoulders with their Sikh brethren to give tumultuous welcome to Gurmat Chetna Marches coming from Anandpur Sahib, Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Abchal Nagar Nanded in Maharashtra and Varanasi. These are bound for Amritsar to take part in the quadri-centennial celebration of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

All political parties, including the SAD, Congress, BJP, BSP, religious, social and NGO groups, educational institutions, jointly welcomed the marches on the GT road in front of Town Hall.

However, the Youth Akali Dal activists led by Bhai Gurjit Singh Khalsa, national general secretary of the Dal, organised a separate function near Gol Chowk on the GT road for receiving the marches, thus bringing to fore the rift among the organisers. SAD (A) activists, led by Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, also held a separate function.

The Varnasi march was accompanied by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, Jathedar Tota Singh, former Punjab Minister and Varinder Singh Bajwa, MP. Mr Bajwa, in a brief chat with this correspondent, admitted that Ms Sonia Gandhi, AICC President, had not been invited to the quadri-centennial celebration function of September 1.

Phillaur: Three largest jathas of Khalsa Chetna Marches coming from Shri Hazoor Sahib, Shri Anandpur Sahib and Varanasi were accorded a warm welcome here. Baba Tirlochan Singh of Sri Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, members, SGPC and Joginder Singh Vedanti were among those who accompanied the Khalsa Chetna Marches.

All marches later proceeded to Amritsar.

ANANDPUR SAHIB: Thousands of devotees chanting slogans “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” and led by Punj Pyaras today began Gurmat Chetna March from Kesgarh Sahib here this morning. The devotees carrying holy “Bir” moved out for the Golden Temple to participate in the celebrations of the 400th year of installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

The devotees from the different parts of Ropar and from parts of Himachal Pradesh reached in Gurdwara Kehgarh Sahib in the morning. About 200 vehicles were arranged to take the devotees to the Golden Temple. The various Sikh leaders, including a member of the SGPC from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Gurinder Singh, and Mr Jagir Singh, a member of the SGPC from Himachal Pradesh, participated in the procession.

FARIDKOT: The Khalsa Chetna March, which started from Muktsar this morning, passed through the city in the afternoon. A large number of devotees were present to welcome the march. The march was led by Panj Pyaras and a queue of vehicles. The march also had a number of horses and elephants, which lent it a royal look.


Desist from taking political mileage, Amarinder tells Badal
Our Correspondent

Baba Bakala, August 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today urged the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) not to indulge in petty politics to gain political mileage out of the ongoing celebrations in connection with the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

On the occasion of “Rakhar Punia” parallel conferences were organised by the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine here. It was in this town that Guru Teg Bahadur had meditated for about 27 years.

Capt Amarinder Singh reiterated his firm resolve that he and his Cabinet colleagues would not politicise the quadricentennial celebrations by issuing political statements. He said his party was crystal clear on this count that the religious ceremonies were the sole prerogative of the SGPC and the role of the state government was merely restricted to providing of infrastructural facilities. He also took exception to news reports in certain sections of the Press that he may not be given a place on the dais during the celebrations and said he was a humble servant of the Sikh Panth and he did not bother whether he was accommodated on the dais or not. He further maintained that he would rather prefer to participate in the celebrations as an ordinary Sikh and not as Chief Minister.

Referring to the river waters dispute, Capt Amarinder Singh said Punjab did not have any surplus water to share with its neighbouring states. He hoped that justice would be done to the Punjab by the apex court and the state government would abide by the final verdict.

The Chief Minister reiterated that the government would continue its crusade against corruption. He pointed out that the bitumen and UBDC scams in which scores of engineers were involved would be taken to their logical conclusion.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal condemned the union and state government and said both had failed to protect the interests of the farming community.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC, suggested that the Sikh clergy should oversee such functions keeping in view the sentiments of the public. He also called upon the Chief Minister to undertake the development of all religious places like Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar, and Muktsar.

On his arrival the Chief Minister requested the chairperson of the Improvement Trust, Mrs Ratna, to tie a rakhi to the delight of thousands of people. The Chief Minister offered her Rs 200 as a token of his affection. 


Bhai Gurdas Marg inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today dedicated the road leading from Gurdwara Ramsar to Harmandir Sahib to Bhai Gurdas Ji by naming the road in his name.

The CM said the government had taken up the special package of development plan for the city with the Central Government. He said the government had also made a fervent appeal for the immediate release of Rs 55-crore for the completion of the last two phases of the Galiara project, for the beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple.

Earlier the Chief Minister inaugurated 132KV grid station installed by the Punjab State Electricity Board at the cost of Rs 3.50 crores to streamline the power supply to the city.


SGPC may stay away from seminar
Tribune news service

Amritsar, August 30
The SGPC is likely to stay away from a seminar on Guru Granth Sahib, proposed to be inaugurated by the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, tomorrow at Guru Nanak Dev University.

The SGPC and the Shiromani Akali Dal have already conveyed displeasure over the 11th hour withdrawal of permission to hold its seminar by GND University on August 28. Though the Vice-Chancellor was proposed to deliver the address of welcome during the SGPC-sponsored seminar on Saturday, he was conspicuous by his absence.

It is learnt that the SGPC had refused to accept the invitation cards sent by the varsity yesterday.


MC leaving nothing to chance
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
The entire work force of the Municipal Corporation, around 4,500 employees, has been deputed on various duties in a cleanliness and maintenance drive in view of quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Almost all major crossings in the city and civil lines have been decorated, said Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, member secretary and in charge of the celebrations.

The gesture of Municipal Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang driving a rickshaw carrying garbage also paid dividends as residents were seen motivated to help keep the environment of Golden Temple clean. The city has been divided into five sectors for a project to clean the city, Mayor Sunil Datti said.

The Commissioner said 225 safai sewaks and 25 employees for repairing sewerage had been deployed on day-night shifts with special. Three single-window complaint centres had been set up around the. On the health front, two senior health officers had been given charge of fogging service in the Golden Temple area.

As much as 20 km of road length had been repaired around the temple premises.


CPI congratulates Punjabis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Breaking barriers of the Communist ideology, the Punjab unit of the CPI today congratulated all Punjabis on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI, said today that " the CPI joins the on-going celebrations with regard to the anniversary all over Punjab and other parts of the country and abroad."

It is, perhaps, for the first time that such a statement has been issued by the CPI. Communist parties, as a part of their ideology, stay away from religious festivities and celebrations and also from making any comment in this regard.

Dr Dayal said that teachings of Sikhism as propounded by Sikh Gurus and saints and enshrined in the holy Guru Granth Sahib represented a real renaissance in Punjab, which radicalised the whole religious and social thought of that period and gave new orientation to thinking about social life.


Pakistani minor found; cops rule out foul play
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
A two-year-old Pakistani girl, Ajeet Kaur, who had come to the Golden Temple with her parents to attend the quadricentennial celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib, went missing late last night. She was found by a family here crying in the Golden Temple premises near Manji Sahib diwan hall. “The girl wearing a yellow top and blue skirt spoke nothing”, said Mr Surinder Singh and his wife, Kiran, who later took the child to the Ghanta Ghar police chowki.

After a wireless message was flashed by the police, the family waited for nearly three hours for the lost child to be claimed.

Inquiries by the family revealed a woman in blue kameez and salwar left the child there. A sewadar reportedly said when he insisted that the woman should take the child along, she fled.

Apprehensions have been raised about a possible gang who could take advantage of the huge rush in the temple premises.

However, Mr Harmanjeet Singh, ASI, ruled out any ‘foul’ play and said at least three more children were reported to be missing today and all were found after a few hours.

When no one turned up to claim the child, the family took the child home, fed her and looked after her. “Till then there was no clue that she was a Pakistani,” said Ms Kiran. At about 12.30 midnight the police informed the family that the parents of the missing child had approached them.

The child was returned to her parents and was seen talking for the first time by the family members who tried to calm her earlier. The father of the girl, Mr Sant Singh of Pir Baba village, in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan thanked the local family profusely. They said they were all sitting together when suddenly they could not locate their daughter. They said for hours they looked for their daughter before they were told to approach the police chowki outside temple premises.


Devotee electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
An unidentified devotee was allegedly electrocuted at Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee-run Dental College when he was cleaning the way for the parking of vehicles of a sant from Chandigarh. He came into contact with a high tension wire which he had lifted with a wooden stick.

According to information, the SGPC reportedly cremated the body after conducting post-mortem in a hurry. The police has registered a case under Section 174, CrPC. Later a lucky scheme chit was found from his clothes which revealed that the devotee may belong to the Malwa region.


Human rights group’s plea on heritage status
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
The Sikh Human Rights Group, a UK-based organisation, has written to UNESCO requesting it to postpone any decision on granting heritage status to the Golden Temple.

Through an e-mail yesterday, the group headed by Mr Satnam Singh while appreciating those who had prepared the request to UNESCO expressed concern about the fact it had been made by a section of the Sikh community without larger consultations.


Punjab Govt in no mood to relieve Virk
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Punjab Government is in no mood to let IPS officer S.S. Virk go. In an attempt to secure his stay in the state, the government has shot another communique to the Union Home Ministry.

The letter has been written in less than a month after Mr Virk was asked to explain why disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated against him for "wilfully disobeying the orders" directing him to return to his parent cadre by April 30 this year.

The government has claimed that Mr Virk's services were required in the state. As such he should be allowed to continue. The authorities have further claimed that the Union Home Ministry had sought Mr Virk's explanation without taking into consideration a letter written by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder in this regard.

In his letter written sometimes in May, the Chief Minister had also sought extension of Mr Virk's deputation. The officer, posted as Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) is in charge of "intelligence". The move is significant as the officer was likely to succeed Mr A.A. Siddiqui as Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP).

Just over four months ago, the Union Home Ministry had terminated the inter-cadre deputation of Mr Virk — a 1970-batch officer. The battle between the Centre and the state over the issue of his deputation had taken a "curious turn" after the ministry had written directly to ADGP Virk.

In their order sent through speed post to Mr Virk, the authorities had asked him to report back for duty to the Government of Maharashtra without delay.

The sources had claimed that a Joint Secretary had asked ADGP Virk to join the duty in his parent cadre of Maharashtra not later than April 30 failing which the ministry would initiate action against him under All India Service (D&A) Rules of 1969. It was added that the officer would be deemed to have been released by the Punjab Government.

Meanwhile, going into the background of the matter, the sources in the Punjab Police headquarters revealed that ADGP Virk's inter-cadre transfer to the state of Punjab for a year was approved of by the Union Government on February 27, 1996.

He reported for duty in Punjab on April 2, 1996. His deputation was extended till April 1, 1998, on Punjab Government's request.

Subsequently, the Punjab Government continued to request the Union Government for extending the deputation till the Home Ministry refused to agree. 


Hardcore criminal escapes
Throws chilli powder in cops’ eyes
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 30
A dreaded criminal and kingpin of an inter-state gang, Gurbakash Singh, today escaped after the hearing in his case in court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ravinder Singh. Gurbakash Singh was involved in four murder cases and various bank robberies.

Gurbakash Singh fled after throwing chilli powder in the eyes of the police personnel accompanying him. Sources said he managed to escape when the policemen were having meals at a dhaba. They had reportedly unlocked his handcuff at that time.

The police claimed that Gurbaksh Singh got the chilli powder from the dhaba owner while unconfirmed reports said that someone had come to meet him in the Ludhiana jail recently and he had given him the chilli powder. The Faridkot police had set up various nakas to arrest him.

Gurbakash Singh was arrested by the Rajasthan police at Gajsinghpur in Ganganagar on June 3. The Rajasthan police then handed him over to the Faridkot

police and he was lodged at the Ludhiana jail. The sources said he had confessed before the Rajasthan police that he had committed a robbery at a bank in Kaithal and looted Rs 4.5 lakh after killing two persons there.

He had also formed an inter-state gang, which indulged in various criminal activities, the sources added. He had also confessed to murdering a Faridkot-based person when he was out on parole.

The sources said that he wanted to marry the daughter of a Muktsar-based politician, but the girl’s family was against it owing to his bad habits. The girl in question was engaged to Darshan Singh of Faridkot. Gurbakash Singh opposed their engagement and even threatened Darshan Singh’s family members.

Meanwhile, he murdered Peepa, a resident of Dogar Basti in Faridkot. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for Peepa’s murder. Later, he planned Darshan Singh’s killing in the jail and was soon out on parole through fraudulent means. He also got one of his accomplices, hailing from Barnala, out on bail for this job. Another person, Gurpreet Singh also joined hands with him. Together they kidnapped Darshan Singh and killed him on July 27 last year.

He also confessed before the Rajasthan police that they had strangled Darshan Singh and thrown his body in a canal. A case was registered against him on the basis of the statement of Darshan Singh’s father. In 2003, the Abohar police arrested Gurpreet Singh and his accomplices but Gurbakash Singh managed to escape. He was finally arrested by the Rajasthan police on June 3.


Govt fails to verify ‘fake degrees’ 
Principal with fake degree still serving
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 30
An inquiry into the fake degree scam, in which hundreds of teachers recruited during the SAD/BJP regime were found to be having fake degrees acquired from universities of Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, has hit a stumbling block. As per documents available with this correspondent, the government has failed to constitute committees to verify degrees of 170 candidates that are suspected to be fake.

Action has not been taken against the candidates whose degrees were found to be fake. The B.Ed. degree of Joginder Singh, a Principal of a government senior secondary school, in Bathinda district has been found to be fake by the Department of Education. He had acquired the degree from Sampoornanand Vishawvidhaliya Varanasi. However, the Principal was still serving, highly placed sources told The Tribune.

The inquiry was ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court after a public interest litigation was filed on the basis of a news story published in The Tribune regarding the recruitment of teachers against fake degrees. On the court orders, the Department of Education constituted several three-member committees that were directed to personally go to universities to verify the degrees of the 7,230 teachers recruited by the SAD/BJP government against the posts of ETT teachers in government schools.

In subsequent inquires, the degrees of over 100 teachers were found to be fake. All degrees acquired from the Maghad and Bundelkhand universities were found to be fake. In some of the cases, candidates who had basic qualification of middle were found to be recruited against fake degrees acquired from universities outside the state.

After this the Secretary, Education, August 13, 2003, directed the Department of Education to verify the degrees of all recently recruited candidates having degrees from Maghad and Bundelkhand universities.

On the orders of the Secretary, Education, a list of 170 candidates, recruited recently on the basis of degrees acquired from Maghad and Bundelkhand universities was prepared. These include 15 candidates from Amritsar district, nine from Bathinda, seven from Ferozepore, 31 from Gurdaspur, 10 from Hoshiarpur, two from Jalandhar, 20 from Ludhiana, six from Mansa, 12 from Moga, 36 from Muktsar, two from Nawanshahr, 15 from Patiala, one from Ropar and four from Sangrur.

However, after receiving the list, the government has not got the degrees verified.


PSEB power cuts are back
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
After barely a fortnight of calm, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has reintroduced power cuts in both rural and urban areas. The demand has been outstripping supply following a spell of hot weather.

The rural areas have been facing power cuts lasting as much as 11.30 hours with villages covered under the 24 hour supply scheme also facing a power cut of 10.15 hours. While the board has imposed a cut of 1.30 hours on important cities, industrial urban cities like Ludhiana have been saddled with a cut of 3.40 hours.

The board has, however, not reintroduced any cut on the industrial consumers who have only recently seen the lifting of the compulsory weekly off imposed on them. The board has also kept arc and induction furnaces, on whose operation cuts had been imposed earlier, out of the ambit of cuts. The only power cut on the industrial sector pertains to large-scale consumers who have had three hour peak load restrictions clamped on them. Board sources said the board had only recently lifted cuts on the industrial sector. Following a review meeting, presided over by Chairman Y.S. Ratra, it had been decided to give a much-needed reprieve to this sector which faced large-scale cuts during the paddy transplantation season.

Board sources said the PSEB was forced to go in for cuts with the board’s share in the unallocated power pool being reduced considerably.

The coal stock at the three thermal plants of the board is also depleting with the Bathinda and Lehra Mohabat thermal plants not having received a single rake yesterday. The Bathinda thermal plant has coal stock of only eight days while the Lehra Mohabat and Ropar thermal plants have a coal stock of nine and eleven days, respectively.

Meanwhile, the water level at the Bhakra dam continues to be low as compared to last year. The water level at the dam was recorded at 1,588 feet yesterday as against a level of 1,658 feet last year. Inflows into the dam are also decreasing with the inflow yesterday being 24105 cusecs as compared to an inflow of 41891 cusecs on the same date last year. In case of the Dehar, Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams, the water levels have come up to last year’s figures with the water level being 2927 feet at Dehar, 1342 feet at Pong and 505 metres at Ranjit Sagar.


Region to have most heart patients in world by 2015
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 30
Dr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, eminent cardiologist from Patiala, has said that by 2015, Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh will have the highest number of heart patients in the world.

He said this at a seminar on “Modern-day management of heart diseases”, organised here last night by the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Dr Sidhu also stated that more than 10 per cent of the adult population of the country was suffering from one or the other cardiac disease while more than 25 per cent of all types of deaths were due to cardiac diseases, especially the coronary heart disease. He said there was a clear swing in the country towards the coronary heart disease, commonly known as heart-attack. A changing life style and lack of health awareness were the major factors behind a sharp rise in the incidence of various heart diseases.

Dr K.C. Mukherjee, a cardiac surgeon also from Patiala, said in patients of heart attack, bypass surgery was done only when there were multiple blocked arteries or under some specified conditions, while in the rest of the cases non-surgical methods like stents, etc could prove beneficial.

Dr Nitish Garg, an interventional cardiologist, said the number of heart patients was increasing day by day, especially among the younger generation.

Dr L.C. Bansal and Dr P.S. Sibia, president and secretary, respectively, of the local IMA unit also spoke. Dr Surinder Singla, Chairman, Public Relations Wing of the Punjab IMA, told reporters that all IMA branches in the state had been directed to organise health awareness seminars, especially on heart diseases.


Callipers given away to disabled
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The Patiala Society for Rehabilitation of Physically Handicapped held its annual calliper distribution function today. Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla was the guest of honour and gave away the callipers to patients.

The function was presided by Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala.

Dr O.P.S. Kande, president, IMA, Punjab, welcomed the guests and appealed to the public that each family should adopt one handicapped child for rehabilitation.

Mr Sant Ram Singla announced that he would give 10 callipers to the handicapped every year free of cost and appealed to the public to come forward for the noble cause.


Beant’s daughter stays away from function
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister of State for Social Welfare, Punjab, and daughter of late Beant Singh, today stayed away from an official function organised to unveil her father’s statue at Doraha near here today. The statue was unveiled by the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President, Mr H.S. Hanspal. Prominent among those present at the function included, Bibi Jaswant Kaur, wife of Mr Beant Singh, his son, Mr Tej Parkash, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, legislators Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha and Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon.

Sources close to Ms Gurkanwal Kaur disclosed that she had not been intimated about the function by the family members. However, she was officially intimated about the function. She does not enjoy good relationship with her mother and brother after she became a minister during the downsizing process in which her brother was removed from the ministry.

Speaking after unveiling the statue of Mr Beant Singh, Mr Hanspal recalled his ‘unparalleled’ contribution to the state. He pointed out, it was Mr Beant Singh who dared to take on the terrorists and usher in an era of peace and prosperity in Punjab. He said, the sacrifice of Beant Singh for the integrity of the country would always be remembered.


Jaswant Kaur may give up Cabinet status
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Bibi Jaswant Kaur, wife of slain Chief Minister, Beant Singh, might give up the Cabinet status conferred on her by the Capt Amarinder Singh government a couple of years ago to protest against the removal of her son, Tej Parkash from the ministry, during the observation the ninth death anniversary of her husband at Payal tomorrow.

It is learnt that the opinion among the supporters of the family was divided on the issue. While Mr Tej Parkash and Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, who has of late associated himself with the family, are believed to be strongly in favour of Ms Jaswant Kaur giving up the Cabinet status in protest, others are favouring a soft line wanting Mr Tej Parkash to keep all the options, including a possible rapprochement with the Chief Minister, open.

Mr Birmi of late has adopted a very strong posture against the Chief Minister and has been criticising him in public. He has also been cultivating the grievances of the Beant Singh’s family to his advantage. With the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh having decided to keep away from the function tomorrow and the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, presiding over it, his (Chief Minister’s) detractors are keen to use tomorrow’s function to assert their strength within the party.

The Chief Minister’s detractors are maintaining that in case Ms Jaswant Kaur publicly abandons the cabinet rank status in protest, it might build up pressure against the Chief Minister and could also place him in an embarrassing situation. The family is feeling aggrieved that despite the great sacrifice of late Beant Singh, it has been left to its own fate. The Cabinet status to his wife is described to be a symbolic gesture only devoid of any power and without much significance.

The ongoing strained relationship with the Chief Minister apart, the family has been divided within as well with Mr Beant Singh’s daughter, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur siding with the Chief Minister. Mr Tej Parkash, Ms Jaswant Kaur and other supporters of Mr Beant Singh have been blaming Mrs Gurkanwal for having “usurped” the right of her brother by becoming the minister (although at a junior level) after he (Mr Tej Parkash) was removed. There are doubts whether Ms Gurkanwal will attend the function at Payal as she has strained relationship with her brother and mother. She may pay tributes to her father at Chandigarh memorial in the morning only.


Pak youth freed from juvenile jail
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 30
A Pakistani youth, Nasir Ali, was today released from the local Juvenile Jail. Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar and the SSP Kulchhinder Singh were also present there to see him off.

Nasir would now be handed over to the Pakistani authorities at Wagah border. This 18-year-old youth had strayed into the Indian side of the border near Khem Karan in January, 2003. BSF men arrested him and handed him over to the police.

An ecstatic Nasir said that he could not hold back his tears of joy at this moment. He said that he felt sad when five of the eight Pakistani inmates lodged at Faridkot Juvenile Jail left for their country.

After Nasir’s departure, there are two Pakistani kids left in the jail as the Pakistan Government was yet to identify them. Now, it seems that they would not have to wait much as Nasir took with him their photographs. He said that he would approach their parents and would ask them to take up their cases with the competent authorities in Pakistan. 


Indian girls tie rakhis to Pak brothers

Amritsar, August 30
It presented a unique scene when Indian girls thronged the local Sri Guru Harkrishan School, Golden Temple, to tie rakhis on the wrists of their Pakistani brothers who had come here to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations.

As a reciprocal gesture many Pakistani girls also tied rakhis to the local boys which added colour to the Raksha Bandhan celebrations. More than 1,000 Sikhs and Hindus from Sindh and Peshawar had come here from across the border.

Mr Nirmal Dass and Mr Shannan Singh, both residents of Ustamh Mohammad, Baluchistan, were excited over the love and affection showered by their Indian sisters. Mr Shannan Singh said he would not be able to forget the occasion throughout his life. They invited their Indian sisters, to visit Pakistan at the next Raksha Bandhan. Rahat, Vasu and Rosy, all Indians, offered ‘ladoos’ to their Pakistani bretheren.


Moga ticket bags Rs 1.5 cr Rakhi bumper
Tribune News Service

A girl ties the bond of love on the wrist of a jail inmate on Raksha Bandhan
A girl ties the bond of love on the wrist of a jail inmate on Raksha Bandhan in Patiala on Monday.

Ludhiana, August 30
The lottery ticket (A 662524) sold at Moga bagged the Rs 1.5 crore first prize of the Rakhi bumper of Punjab State Lotteries. The draw was taken out jointly by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ajmer Singh, and the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Manjit Singh Brar, here today in presence of several agents and ticket holders.

On this occasion, the department released the tickets for the next mega bumper, Maa Lakshmi Divali pooja bumper 2004. The draw of the bumper would be held on November 15. The first prize of the Divali bumper has been raised to Rs 2 crore.


SOS children tie rakhi to Governor
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 30
Students of SOS Children’s Village, Rajpura, celebrated Raksha Bandhan in a unique way. As many as 35 students of the village tied the rakhi to the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd), at the Punjab Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh today.

To welcome the children, the Governor treated them to a feast, followed by specially arranged joyrides and swings for them.

Appreciating the efforts made by the organisation, Mr Verma said he would render full support to the village. He appealed the students to spread the message of universal brotherhood and humanity.

The students were accompanied by village director Harinder Singh and public relations officer Rozy Sareen.

The director of the SOS village said the organisation celebrated all festivals to make students aware about the significance of each festival.


Platoon commander honoured
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 30
In a ceremony held today at the local Army Divisional Headquarters, officiating GOC Brig R.S. Sidhu presented the GOC-in-C Commendation Card and a badge to Platoon Commander R.K. Awasthi of the 5th battalion of the Border Wing Home Guards (BWHG) for his distinguished services during Operation Prakaram.

Commander Avasthi was a liaison officer of the BWHG operating under the command of an infantry division along with 1300 BWHG troops, which were deployed along the Indo-Pak border for rear area security, surveillance of minefields and vital logistic installations.

He not only acted as an effective interface between the Army and BWHG during Operation Prakaram but also played a crucial role during various Army exercises also.

Local Army and police officials, while addressing the ceremony, hailed his contribution in ensuring round-the-clock supervision of various important installations. 


100 colonisers take refuge in HP
Our Correspondent

Pathankot August 30
A large number of colonisers, property promoters and estate agents of this area have gone underground fearing arrest. According to sources, about 100 such persons have taken shelter in the adjoining Himachal Pardesh considering it to be a safe shelter.

According to DSP (Rural) Mohinder Singh, only one case under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1955, had been registered till date. Four persons had been booked who were later released on bail.

The sources said persons belonging to a particular group were booked while others, who belonged to the Congress faction of the Sujanpur belt, were not even called for investigations.

A coloniser, of this area, said on condition of anonymity that though a case was registered naming only four persons as accused, a large number of innocent people were being harassed on account of a tussle between two Congress politicians. He accused a police official deputed to inquire into the matter of calling them almost daily on flimsy grounds.

According to legal experts, discretion lies with PUDA about compounding the offence relating to violation of the law and without an FIR, the police cannot arrest the violators. It is learnt that more than a dozen people, fearing arrests in the case, have applied for anticipatory bails.

Mr Mohinder Singh said a large number of violators in this case had to be questioned, adding that they would not be harassed.


Gurdas Mann enthrals music lovers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 30
It was Gurdas Mann who stole the hearts of thousands of Punjabis, who had converged at the Doordarshan Jalandhar premises to be a part of “Jashn di Raat’, a live programme organised on Sunday night.

The programme commenced with a religious song “More Rakhiyo Laaj Gurdev”, which was followed by popular Punjabi numbers including, “Mud Mud Yaad Sataave Pind Diyan Gallian Di.”

While comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi left no stone unturned to make audience burst into laughter, anchor Satinder Satti, too, was at her best.

Interestingly, Mr Fayaaz Shaharyar, Director of Doordarshan, Jalandhar, had to face difficulty in making his way through the crowds. The programme was produced by Jaswant Deed and was directed by Vikramjit Vicki. Others who were present included Mr Daljit Sandhu, a producer of DD.


Seminar on AIDS
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
A seminar on AIDS awareness for industrial workers and their families was organised by the Employees State Insurance Hospital on a premises of the Khanna Paper Mills here today.

Dr Ravi Kant Mahajan, Medical Superintendent, ESI Hospital, explained the modes of transmission of HIV and methods of its prevention. He said in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, commercial sex workers drove the epidemic, whereas in Manipur and a few other north-eastern states injectable drug use (IDU) was the main route of HIV transmission. He said that the government's policy of regulating blood banks had resulted in a significant drop in transmission of HIV.

Earlier, a medical camp was held in the factory in which a large number of patients were examined. Free laboratory tests and drugs were also provided in the camp.


Police officials honoured
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 30
The Anti-Terrorist Front of India today conferred the Bharat Rakshak award on Mr Shiv Kumar Sharma, SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, for his fight against terrorism during militancy at a function here.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Pinki, Inspector, CIA, and Mr Pawan Kumar, ASI, were also honoured, The function was dedicated to the ninth death anniversary of Beant Singh. Hundreds of Congress leaders and activists attended it. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, was the chief guest and Dr Viresh Shandily, national president of the front, presided over the function.

Addressing the function, Dr Shandily said the Punjab police deserved appreciation for wiping out terrorism.

He said the front would take out a “rath yatra” from Parliament House to Lal Chowk, Srinagar, on September 20.

Dr Harbans Lal appreciated the efforts of the front in honouring those who fought against terrorism and said such steps boost the morale of police officials. He said Beant Singh sacrificed his life for Punjab and it was due to his determination that terrorism was wiped out. He paid tributes to Beant Singh and others who lost their lives during terrorism. He also honoured terrorist-affected families.

Vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Mr R.N. Sharma, Mr Joginder Singh Maini, Mr Mohinder Mitter, Mr Pardeep Malhotra and Mr Charnjeev Channa, president, Municipal Council, Sirhind, also addressed the gathering.


Police probe refutes torture charge
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 30
The Moga police today claimed the allegations levelled by a murder accused against the Fatehgarh Panjtoor police were found to be false.

According to a press note issue, the SSP had ordered an inquiry into the matter. The SP(D), Mr Harjeet Singh Pannu, conducted the probe. The police claimed that the accused, Nishan Singh, was arrested on August 23 and was produced in the court on August 24.

They said the medical examination of the accused was also conducted on the same day and no injury marks were found on his body.


Truck driver ‘beaten up’ by octroi contractor staff
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 30
A truck driver was allegedly beaten up by employees of the octroi contractor here today. It is alleged that Nirmal Singh, a resident of Khanpur village, was beaten up by employees of the octroi contractor for not stopping at a naka when signalled to stop.

The employees then followed him in another vehicle and stopped him on the Landran road. It is alleged that the driver was pulled out of the truck and beaten up. In protest against this action, some truck drivers blocked traffic on the Landran road for about half an hour.

It is learnt that Nirmal Singh was taking a truck loaded with sand from Kurali to Chunni village and had got a transit slip issued from octroi naka at Khanpur village.

However, the octroi contractor reportedly told the police that Nirmal Singh was not beaten up but only questioned for not stopping at a naka where he was signalled to stop.

The President of the Municipal Council, Mr Charanjit Singh, said he had issued a notice to the octroi contractor in connection with the incident.

He said he had warned the contractor that his contract would be cancelled in case his employees misbehaved with the residents of the town. He directed the contractor to issue identity cards and uniforms to employees. 


Rotarians installed at ceremony
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 30
The Rotary Club Patiala Greater organised a function to mark the installation ceremony here last evening. The Commissioner, Income Tax Appeals, Mr Daya Shankar, was the chief guest, while the Assistant General Manager State Bank of Patiala Mr S.K.S Sandhu, was the guest of honour.

Those installed were newly elected president Abhilash Malhotra, vice-presidents Subash Sharma and H.N. Mehesampuri, secretary I.P.S Thind and treasurer Vinod Pathak. In addition, Dr Gurcharan Singh, Satyapaul Goyal, Ms Sudha Pathak, Ms Ravinder Kaur and Ms Asha Goyal took oath as directors.

President Abhilash Malhotra highlighted the objectives and plans of the club. He added that literacy, water management, health facilities would form the basis of the club activities. Navdeep Singh Choudhary, Naresh Raj and Gurminder Walia were presented award of honour for their contributions towards enriching the cultural life of the city.


Poaching case

Chandigarh, August 30
The Punjab Government on Monday sought more time from the High Court to trace the owners of the phones from which threatening calls were allegedly made to some of the main witnesses in the Pathankot poaching case.

On an earlier hearing, the court had been informed that one of the numbers from which threatening calls were allegedly made, in which the then Pathankot Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Puneet Goel is an accused, has been traced. The number is said to belong to one of the accused in the case.

It may be recalled that the two main witnesses in the poaching case - Gunraz Singh and Sukhdeep Bajwa, both wardens in the Punjab Wildlife Department - had filed an application in the court, stating therein that they have received threats on their telephones, asking them to remove themselves from the case. They had also provided some telephone numbers to the court.

The court had then given time to the Punjab Government to look into the statements of two main witnesses. 


MC chief in trouble as meeting lacks quorum
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 30
The MC president, Mr Joginder Pal Jain, found himself in a soup today when the monthly meeting of the MC had to be cancelled as it fell short of the quorum. The MC House has 31 members, but only eight were present at the meeting.

The leader of dissidents, Mr Naseeb Bawa, who was standing outside, said Mr Jain had no right to continue as the MC chief and he should put in his papers. Talking about their future course of action, Mr Bawa said they would continue their efforts to unseat Mr Jain. He said the presence of merely eight councillors was enough to prove that Mr Jain had lost support in the MC.

On the other hand, Mr Jain alleged that there were 10 members at the meeting, out of which two were taken away by the dissidents. He said by abstaining from the meeting the councillors were hampering development works in their wards. On the rising dissidence against him, he said some of the councillors were being threatened, while others had their complaints. He said he had met three rebel councillors in Chandigarh yesterday and discussed with them their problems. He said they admitted that development works were being done in their wards and their only complaint was that they didn’t get “due respect” in the MC House. He alleged that the councillors were being offered money to oppose him. He said he was busy in the theft case and the dissidents took advantage of his absence.

Meanwhile, the MC office today turned into a battleground between the MC chief and the state vice-president of the RJD, Mr Ashok Sathi, who was present outside the meeting hall. Both the leaders were levelling serious allegations against each other. Mr Jain alleged that the main accused in the theft case, Chidi, had connections with Mr Sathi as his brother-in-law used to work in his hotel. He said once Chidi’s brother-in-law, Mr Pawan Kumar, and Mr Sathi were the office-bearers of the state Shiv Sena and added that Mr Sathi had earlier intervened in two cases involving Chidi. He alleged that the conspiracy to commit theft at his home was hatched at Mr Sathi’s Hotel Roopmilan. He alleged that Mr Sathi met him and said he had recorded Chidi’s statement as the police could involve him in the case any moment.


Kidnapped girl from Gujarat rescued
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 30
A girl from Gujarat, who had eloped with her “lover”, was rescued from the Godewala area here yesterday. A team of the Gujarat police was camping here for the past couple of days in this connection.

Sources said that a case of kidnapping was lodged against Apex Colony resident Balwinder Singh at Badia in Gujarat on April 24 this year. The complainant, Madhav Singh, had alleged that Balwinder Singh was working as a watchman at the telephone exchange in Badia. He alleged that the accused abetted his daughter to elope with him by promising to marry her. Balwinder Singh has been arrested.


Jobless teachers’ protest on Sept 7
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 30
The Unemployed ETT Teachers Union and the Diet Students Welfare Association, have decided to mobilise support in rural areas for their state-level protest march, which will be held in Ludhiana on September 7.

This was stated by the state president of the union, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, and the state secretary of the association, Mr Buta Singh.

Moga district had been divided into four zones — Baghapurana, Dharamkot, Nihalsinghwala and Moga — for this purpose. Mr Sidhu said they had launched the agitation against the contractual appointment of teachers about three months back, but the government had not paid attention to their demand. “On the contrary, the government was making efforts to suppress our movement,” he added.


Honour for Punjabi varsity don
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 30
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has decided to honour Dr Sarbjinder Singh of Department of Guru Granth Sahib Studies, Punjabi University, for his book “Dhur Ki Bani”.

The book has been included in the 400th celebrations pertaining to the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. Dr Sarbjinder Singh would be honoured by the committee on September 1 in Delhi.

The second book of the writer, “Divine Revolution”, which contains comparative study of various religious granths, will also be released on the same day, according to a press release here today.

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