P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Granthi carries holy book on head as rath
wheel gives way
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
The holy Guru Granth Sahib relived its centuries-old past in a special journey early morning today by taking the same historical path from Gurdwara Ramsar to the Golden Temple .

The majestic journey started with Guru Granth Sahib placed in a golden flower bedecked palanquin on a tastefully decorated rath to the Harmandir Sahib, casting a magic spell, and reminding all of the historic journey by Guru Granth Sahib 400 years ago when it was formally installed in the Harmandir Sahib in 1604.

However, barely 100m from the Ramsar Gurdwara, the rath carrying Guru Granth Sahib met with a mishap, as one of its wheels gave way. The mishap reportedly occurred when Mr Parkash Singh Badal along with some of his security personnel climbed the rath that is traditionally only allowed for five Singh Sahibaans (Sikh high priests).

Due to excess weight, the rath was prevented from turning turtle by the sangat of the nagar kirtan following the rath. Thereafter, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Darbar Sahib, lifted Guru Granth Sahib on his head for the rest of the journey for nearly 400m up to the Golden Temple.


Laser show leaves devotees spellbound
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, September 1
A spectacular laser and fireworks display provided a befitting finale to the 400th Parkash Utsav celebrations here at the beautifully illuminated Golden Temple, which stood out in the placid water of the Amrit Sarovar.

People from various walks of life witnessed the laser show, specially produced for the celebrations depicting the true spirit and values enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. After the laser show, it was the one-hour-long fireworks display, which took the devotees’ breath away.

A spokesman for the SGPC said the show, designed by a leading multimedia company specialising in laser shows, had left a profound impact on the pilgrims. He added that the SGPC might continue to present the laser show on historic occasions, including the Parkash Utsav and other festivals.


PM: construction of corridor to be taken
up with Pak

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today assured the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, that his government would take up the construction of a 3 km-long corridor between Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur) during the forthcoming bilateral talks with Pakistan.

He said the proposed corridor would enable the devotees from India to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib especially in view of the fact that a true Sikh, in his daily prayers, urges the Akal Purkh (God) to give him an opportunity to pay respects at the holy places that he has been deprived of.

The Tribune had broken the news about a proposal of the Government of Pakistan to construct a corridor linking Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib with Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak on the basis of an interview with Lt-Gen Javed Nasir, the then president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Committee, in November, 2000.


PM, CM get siropa
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, a former Union Minister, was denied ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) in the past, on the pretext that he dyed his beard, (but it) was given to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister at the sanctum sanctorum by Giani Puran Singh, head Granthi, Goden Temple.


Dalai Lama hopeful about Tibetan cause
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, September 1
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, today said that though the Tibetan cause was “hopeless”, he was still hopeful about its resolution.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Laureate wished that globally there would be more appreciation of the benefits of peaceful co-existence and acceptance of different shades of opinion and lifestyles.

The spiritual leader, who arrived here this morning to participate in the Parkash Utsav, was as always while answering even serious political questions.

His childlike innocence was reflected as soon as he walked through the main door of the hotel where he has been put up. When the Dalai Lama stopped to acknowledge the salute of the hotel durban, he was impressed by his curly moustaches. “Are they real?” he asked as he bent forward to touch Om Prakash’s cheek. The durban was visibly moved by the Dalai Lama’s spontaneous gesture.

Later answering a question on the Sino-Tibet relations, he observed, “When you look from a narrow point of view, the Tibetan cause is almost hopeless. But in a wider perspective of a changing global scenario, it is very hopeful.”

The Dalai Lama remarked that like the world, China, too, was changing rapidly. Perhaps, this was where he saw hope emanating for the hopeless situation of his homeland.

He asserted that sooner or later “peace, freedom and rule of law will prevail though this may take time.”

The Dalai Lama recounted that he had first come to Amritsar in 1956. His second visit was in 1959 and thereafter during the last 44 years, he had visited the holy city on several occasions. “But I had kept away during the tumultuous periods. I then used to bypass the city and go straight to Dharamsala.”

On the spiritual front, the Dalai Lama said, “Guru Granth Sahib enshrines the message of universal brotherhood and good of all mankind.” He said that every human being wants to be successful but for this, peace of mind was important. “Peace cannot be bought with money, power, machines or technology advancements. It can only be achieved by inculcating human values of love compassion, service and giving. All religions have special role to propagate higher values and these are enshrined in plenty in Guru Granth Sahib.

“I am not a Sikh but I respect all traditions and values of all religions that universally teach compassion, non-violence, love and service.” He appealed for introspection on how far people adhere to the teachings in each religion. “The aim of mankind should not only be of advancement in every field but of spiritual growth and mental peace,” he added.


Tibetan family converts to Sikhism
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 1
When children of several Sikh families are falling victims to apostasy (patitpuna) in this hi-tech age, bitten by the fashion bug, a tribal Tibetan family of Arunachal Pradesh has converted to Sikhism after being bowled over by spiritually elevating gurbani kirtan they had heard at the Golden Temple.

In a conversation with this correspondent here today, the tribal family said that it was on a padyatra to various religious places of the country. This family of five members (now six) had started from Arunachal Pradesh 15 months ago. It had covered one dozen states traversing about 5,000 km on foot so far. So much so that a child was born to the young daughter, Maya, at Mallian village near Amritsar and the boy was christened as Rahi Singh (one born on way).

The villagers had greatly helped the family during the delivery of the child and housed it in the village for some days. It was about six months ago when they were on their way to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides Mr Phalamtok Kama and his daughter, Maya, Mr Kama’s young sons, Alchai, Thaisiag and son-in-law, Khihan, are also in the group. They had not heard about the quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib nor did they know anything about Sikhism when they had started from their home 15 months ago. However, the soothing and comforting gurbani kirtan mesmerised them and they instantly decided to turn Sikhs by tying the hair knots on their heads. The male members added the suffix Singh to their names while the lone teenager girl added Kaur to her name.

They were honoured here today by Mr Iqbal Singh Kundi, vice-president, nagar council, Phagwara, and president of the Guru Nanak Mission Welfare Society. He also presented them articles of daily use. The family is now on its way back to Arunachal Pradesh but has pledged to come back to Punjab. They are wonderstruck by its spirituality and the hospitality of the people here.


Devotees serve langar
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
Service to mankind was at its best on the Moga-Amritsar road on Wednesday.

A queue of ‘chhabeels’ could be witnessed serving ‘langar’ and water to thousands of devotees who were either on their way to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib or were returning from the Golden Temple.

Volunteers, including women and children, standing in the middle of roads, stopped almost every vehicle passing through the road, and made sure that all commuters were served ‘langar’ and water. The stretch from Tarn Taran to Amritsar, which is about 24-km, had at least eight ‘chhabeels’. 


Preneet Kaur inaugurates Virsa Vihar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar September 1
Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, today inaugurated Virsa Vihar Kendra, centre for artistic and cultural pursuits, first of its kind in the state, on the premises of Guru Nanak Stadium as part of the 400th year celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib last evening.

The aim of the centre is to impart training to the youth in various fields of art and culture such as classical and Gurmat sangeet, folk singing, folk dances, theatre, art and crafts of Punjab, especially the typical folk forms, which were becoming extinct with the passage of time.


Saplings distributed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
To mark the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, the Forest Department today introduced the concept of ‘green langar’ here by distributing free saplings among devotees.

Mr. Basanta Rajkumar, Divisional Forest Officer, said the concept was introduced to make people aware of the importance of plants.


23 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
The local Blood Donors and Healthcare Society organised a blood donation and eye check-up camp at Duggan village, near here today to mark the quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib.

Twenty-three persons donated blood at the camp. About 200 patients were also examined for various eye ailments by Dr Ishwar Singh at local Civil Hospital.

Mr Gurtej Singh, SDM, Sangrur, who was the chief guest, gave away appreciation certificates and mementoes to the blood donors on the occasion. 


Durgiana temple panel gives memo to PM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
Sri Durgiana Committee presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on his maiden visit to Durgiana Temple demanding a special economic package for development and beautification here today.

The committee in the memorandum said Durgiana Temple was one of the great Hindu pilgrimages, having religious as well as historical importance. The 500-year-old Seetla Mata Mandir was a national heritage and Bada Hanuman temple belonged to the Ramayana era, he said.

The committee urged the Prime Minister to initiate steps to declare it a world heritage and also to develop the temple as a tourist place. It also appealed for the transfer of the Dussehara ground.


50,000 devotees participate in kar seva
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 1
Thousands of devotees, saints and religious figures today participated in the kar sewa at the holy pond of the local Devi Talaab Temple with religious fervour.

If the kar seva was the driving force for thousands of men and women, who had come from different parts of the country to take part in the 10-day event, for children it was the sudden recovery of coins and silver and gold ornaments from the bed of the pond, which proved to be a big attraction.

Some of them were able to dig out silver snakes, usually offered to Lord Shiva by devotees, coins and other ornaments like gold chains, which may have fell accidentally into the pond. The kar seva of the holy pond was being done after a period of 30 years.

The kar seva of the temple, organised by the Devi Talaab Temple Management Committee, took off at around 8 am with the rendition of Vedic mantraas by students of Dharma Sangha Sanskrit Mahavidyalya, Ludhiana. Thereafter, devotees proceeded towards the holy pond, where Acharya Dharmendra inaugurated the event in the presence of the devotees, led by Mahant Ram Sunder Dass, Mahant Ganga Dass, Swami Shiva Bharti and Swami Shanta Nand.

The enthusiasm of devotees could be gauged from the fact that during the six-hour kar seva on the first day, nearly 50 per cent silt was removed from the bed of the pond. Langars were organised in different parts of the city.

According to Mr Sheetal Vij, Chairman of the temple committee, nearly 50,000 devotees had participated in the kar seva on the first day. He said Mata Usha Devi of Agra fame would reach the temple on September 2, while Swami Madhwananda, Shankracharya of the Prayagraj Peeth would participate in the kar seva on September 3.


CM inaugurates power substation in Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
As part of the quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh dedicated a 132 KV grid substation to the people of Amritsar at Sakatri Bagh yesterday.

A PSEB press note here yesterday said the substation had been constructed at a cost of Rs. 3.50 crores and has a capacity of 20 MVA and is the first of its kind in Amritsar. It said the Chief Minister also announced that work on the 66 KV grid substation especially for the Darbar Sahib complex had been taken up which would ensure uninterrupted power supply to the Golden temple. He further announced that two more grid substations would be constructed at Kachehri Chowk and Islamabad Chowk shortly in Amritsar.

The electricity supply of Amritsar was looked after by the Municipal Corporation before the take over of the electricity department of the Municipal Corporation by the PSEB. The corporation used to supply electricity through 11-KV lines. With the coming up of 132 KV substation the voltage profile of the city would improve tremendously.

While inaugurating the substation, Capt Amarinder Singh stated that the present government was determined to make Punjab self sufficient in power generation and informed that effective steps were being taken to bring more generating stations in hydro, thermal and gas. There were many proposals which were under active consideration. It was also informed that work of the 500 MQGHTP Stage-II Lehra Mohabbat had already started.

The PSEB Chairman Mr Y.S.Ratra said up to June 30, 8557 villages had been connected with a 24-hour domestic supply on urban pattern and the remaining villages would be covered during this year. Mr Ratra said it was being ensured that farmers got a minimum eight hours supply during the paddy season and additional power of Rs 525 crore was purchased as compared to last year.

During the paddy season, 46656 temporary tubewell connections were released for the convenience of farmers for the first time after a gap of five years.


Samana politics in for a change
Conviction of Kisan Cell Chairman
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
Congress politics in Samana is in for a change with a local court upholding the conviction of the party’s former Kisan Cell Chairman Harinderpal Singh Mann. The Congress leader, who is a loyalist of senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar, had contested the last Assembly elections from Samana as an Independent when denied the party nomination.

Mann, who is presently in the Central Jail here, is set to apply for bail in the case and will appeal against the verdict of the Additional Sessions Judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, the verdict of the district court has proved to be a dampner for his supporters as he had earlier been convicted in the same case by a lower court in Samana.

Mann and his supporters are accused of assualting the Block Development Officer of Samana during the Akali-BJP regime. A mob collected in front of the office of the BDPO when the papers of a candidate were rejected during the panchayat elections and resorted to vandalism. Mann was booked on charges of assault along with some of his supporters. Following this, he was convicted in the case last year by a Samana court which awarded him a sentence of one-and-a-half-year. This sentence has been reduced to one year by the district court.

The convicted Congress leader had made an aggressive bid to get the Congress ticket from Samana in the last assembly elections and was in the race along with Mr Malvinder Singh, brother of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and former MP Sant Ram Singla. However, with the ticket being awarded to senior Congress leader Brahm Mohindra, who was made to ‘’sacrifice” his Patiala seat for Capt Amarinder Singh, the convicted leader stood for election from the constituency as an independent candidate. He garnered around 18,000 votes and was instrumental in the defeat of Congress candidate Brahm Mohindra.

He was expelled from the party due to this act, however, was reinducted into the party by the Chief Minister prior to the recent Lok Sabha elections. This was ostensibly done to bolster the chances of Ms Preneet Kaur from the Samana constituency.

Mr Malvinder Singh is presently the Congress face in Samana constituency with Mr Brahm Mohindra keeping away from it. Besides, him the party has the choice of Mr Sant Ram Singla, who represented the constituency earlier or his family member, including son Vijay Inder Singla, who is presently general secretary of the state Youth Congress. Mr Mann’s supporters are, however, hoping that he will get a reprieve from a higher court. Mr Santokh Singh, former Commissioner of the Municipal Committee and PPCC member, said Mr Mann had fallen victim to a political conspiracy launched by the Akali regime to ensure his downfall in the area because he was highlighting the cause of the lesser privileged.


Bumper cotton crop expected in Punjab, Haryana
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are all set to have a bumper cotton crop this year after a gap of some years. In fact, already cotton has started arriving in major markets such as Malout, Abohar, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa.

Daily arrival is around 150 to 200 bales, it is learnt. Though farmers are surprised a bit over the early maturing of the cotton crop for picking this year, agricultural experts say that it was a good development. Normally, arrival of cotton crops starts in various markets in the third week of September but this year it has come about three weeks in advance.

When contacted for comments, the Director Agriculture, Punjab, Dr Ajmer Singh, said that " it was a welcome development that cotton has come early in markets. This year, farmers have been made to sow cotton early, that is in the first week of April. They followed the instructions and because of this reason the early sown crop has matured for picking".

He said that there was a great advantage of sowing the cotton crop early. This year pest attack on cotton is well below the economic thresh level ( ETL),'' said Dr Ajmer Singh.

Punjab has fixed a target to harvest 16.15 lakh bales this year compared to the last year's figure of 15.52 lakh bales. This year cotton is sown over 5.49 lakh hectares, whereas last year it was sown in 4.52 lakh hectares. Though any variety of BT cotton is not approved for sowing in Punjab and Haryana, farmers in both states have covered about 2.5 lakh hectares under BT cotton.

At one stage Punjab, Haryana and Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan had relegated the southern states to second place in cotton production. However, the past few years have proved devastating for cotton growers in these states. However, cotton traders are expecting production of over 35 lakh bales of cotton in these three states this year. These states otherwise have the capacity to produce over 50 lakh bales of cotton.

According to reports emerging from fields, BT cotton will give good returns to farmers this year.

The opening price of cotton in various markets is said to be varying between Rs 2,200 to 2,450 per quintal. At present only traders are buying cotton. Government agencies such as the Cotton Corporation of India and Markfed have not started cotton purchase, according to sources.

Revival of cotton crop in Punjab and Haryana will help farmers in a big way to come out of debt. Repeated failure of cotton crop since 1993-94 has ruined farmers financially. Most of the suicides by farmers have been reported from the Bathinda cotton belt. The reason behind these suicides is obviously heavy burden of debts.


Law officers: Couldn't reduce number,
govt reduces salary instead

Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court

Chandigarh, September 1
Never before has a government in Punjab, or for that matter anywhere else in India, treated its law office so shabbily. While the past two years have amply shown how much disregard the government has for the office of Advocate General, yesterday's appointments of new law officers only reinforces the same.

A Senior Additional Advocate General, only one step lower in hierarchy to the Advocate General (AG), demoted; salaries of all law officers reduced by almost half; preponderance of kin of the high and mighty of the land in the list of law officers— the government has done it all.

Meanwhile, as disclosed in The Tribune yesterday, the government has appointed seven new law officers for its Delhi offices. They include six Additional AGs and one Deputy AG.

"We are a subject of ridicule. Were it not for the absence of better option, most of the lawyers would not even think of taking up such appointments. Where does an Additional Advocate General get only Rs 15,000 as retainership? The Congress government in Punjab is doing the unthinkable," observed a newly appointed law officer.

While it failed to drastically reduce the number of law officers, the Punjab Government has reduced the salary of the law officers.

According to the new orders issued by the government, an Additional AG will be paid Rs 15,000 per month as retainership. He will, however, not be entitled to any perks, except Rs 600 for every decided case.

Similarly, the salaries of Senior Additional AG will be Rs 20,000 each, while those of Senior Deputy AGs, Deputy AGs and Assistant AGs will be Rs 30,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

Neighbouring Haryana pays much more to its law officers.

Incidentally, the number of law officers appointed by the Haryana Government is almost one-third the size of the law officers in Punjab.

In Haryana, each Assistant AG is entitled to Rs 13,500 basic salary plus medical allowance, non-practising allowance, house rent allowance, Rs 1000 as telephone charge, provident fund deduction as well as cheap housing and car loans.

"Why doesn't the Punjab Government remove those law officers who have been appointed only to please powerful people, but who don't do any work? There are many such law officers who have been reappointed, but whom nobody has ever seen in the courts. One of the law officers even runs her own school. Why is she being allowed to continue?" asked an angry law officer.


Centre releases Rs 11 crore for Punjab prisons
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Central Government has released Rs 11 crore for improving the condition of jails in Punjab. This is, perhaps, the first time that the state's Prison Department has managed to secure "such a huge amount" from the Centre.

All for inmates

As of now, the jails in the state have flush latrines. Ceiling fans have also been provided in all barracks and cells. This is not all. Radio and television sets have also been provided. Newspapers, books and periodicals too are available. Then there are canteens in jails. Gurdwaras and mandirs have also been established.

Sources in the Prison Department say the amount will be used for carrying out renovation of the existing jails in the state. The amount has already been handed over to the Police Housing Corporation.

Giving details, the sources say the money will be used for constructing new barracks in some of the over-crowded jails. The occupancy rate in a few jails in the state is as high as 150 per cent. The problem of over-crowding is worse in the district jails.

Barracks for staff members will also be erected with the help of the released money. Some of the amount will also go into improving the sanitation facilities in the jails.

Inmates in several jails were being forced to live in sub-human conditions due to want of adequate sanitation facilities. As many as seven inmates were sharing a single room with just one toilet. They claim that some of the prisons required "urgent attention". In a few jails, even the walls required repair. Punjab's Additional Director-General of Police J.P. Birdi — in charge of prisons in the state — could not be contacted. Inspector-General of Police (Prisons) S.K. Dutta refused to comment.

Quoting an example, the sources, meanwhile, assert that in Ludhiana, the Central Jail's wall was repaired only after the courts intervened. The repair work was carried out only after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state to release Rs 12 lakh. The High Court had earlier taken suo motu notice of a letter written by Ludhiana's District and Sessions Judge asserting that the amount had not been released.

In Ferozepore, three inmates — including two sentenced to life imprisonment for murder — managed to escape recently after making a hole in the toilet wall. They reportedly scaled the outer wall with the help of a bamboo rod and rope.

In all, there are seven Central Jails in the state at Patiala, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. In addition, there are five district jails and 11 sub jails. The prisons have authorised accommodation for 9,484 prisoners. The daily average population of jails is around 8,200.


10 pc Wakf property retrieved: ADGP
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 1
Almost 70 per cent of the land of the Wakf Board has been encroached upon by government agencies and people belonging to different communities.

This was stated by Mohammad Izhar Aalam, ADGP, Administration, Punjab, and Chief Executive Officer of the Wakf Board, while talking to a gathering comprising members of the Muslim community here this evening.

He said the size of the encroached land varied from that of a mosque to almost 1600 acres of land in Bathinda. The property that had been encroached upon was residential, commercial, agricultural and religious.

He said about 10 per cent of the property had been retrieved with the help of the Punjab Police. Out of the 25 cases put up with the Ropar police, in 18 cases land had been retrieved. He urged the gathering to seek police help and that of the village panchayat to get the encroached land retrieved.

He said there was some sort of misunderstanding between the Wakf Board and the Muslim community. The board belonged to the community and not to any one person. The community should help the board in getting the property vacated.

If the encroached land was vacated in an area where Muslims were not staying, how would that property be looked after, he asked. There was a need to come out with suggestions as to how the land that was retrieved could be looked after properly.

He said there was a proposal that a good school should be opened around Chandigarh where 25 per cent of seats could be reserved for children belonging to the Muslim community. Another such school could also be set in Ludhiana or Jalandhar.

He said paramedical staff was in demand in Arab and Gulf countries and a school where such education could be provided could be opened up in Malerkotla. He asked the gathering to give suggestions in this regard.

However, different speakers said that if a good school was set up in the area, children from the Muslim community would not be able to take advantage as the fee structure would be high and most of the people would not be able to afford it.

One speaker said that a primary school should be set up where special attention was paid to students for strengthening their foundation. Another wanted madarasas to be opened where children could be taught Urdu and Arabic. Speakers felt that as a lot of land of the Wakf Board had been encroached upon by politicians, it was difficult to get it retrieved.

Asked about his reaction on the incident involving demolitions carried out by PUDA in a graveyard in Mohali on August 27, the ADGP said he was not aware of the incident.

Mr S.P. Singh, SSP, Ropar, said the Wakf Board did not have adequate staff or the required force to swing into action. There were only two employees, including the Executive Officer. The board did not even have any transport facility. He assured all help to the board in getting land retrieved from illegal possession.


US imperialism condemned at CPM rally
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 1
The state unit of the CPM organised ‘Jang Ate Samraj Virodhi’ rally at Dana Mandi, Garhshanker, about 12 km from here, on Wednesday.

Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPM, while addressing the rally condemned the nefarious designs of the USA and termed it a big threat to peace and democracy in the world.

He said the US imperialism had imposed war on Afghanistan and Iraq in the guise of fighting against terrorism. The people in the world had now been awakened against their nefarious designs and had been opposing their ‘dictatorial and monopolistic attitude’.

Prof Balwant Singh further said the CPM would continue its fight against the imperialistic and communal forces in the country. Mr Raghunath Singh, state secretary, CITU, Mr Mahan Singh Rouri, CPM nominee from Garhshanker Assembly segment, Mr Darshan Singh Matoo, Mr Ram Singh Nurpuri, Mr Asanand Kaluchang, Mr Rakesh Nayyar, state vice-president, DYFI, among others also addressed the rally. An ‘anti-US protest march’ was also taken out in the town.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Prof Balwant Singh said that regarding the seat adjustment with the ruling Congress for the ensuing assembly by-elections in the state, the party had decided to give unconditional support to the Congress from Kapurthala Assembly segment in lieu of Garhshanker from where the party had announced the name of Mr Mahan Singh Rouri as party nominee, he added.


CPM takes out protest march
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
Activists of the CPM, led by Mr Bant Singh Namol, district secretary of the party, today held a protest march through the town and a demonstration in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner here against the American imperialism and the non-implementation of Common Minimum Programme by the Congress-led Central Government in letter and spirit.

The protesters were addressed, among others by Mr Dev Raj Verma, secretary of the CITU, Punjab, Mr Ram Singh, president, Palledar Union, Punjab, Mr Bant Singh Namol, district secretary of the CPM, Mr Bhoop Chand Channo, president, Khet Mazdoor Union (KMU), Punjab and Mr Ajit Singh Jawandha.

The speakers demanded the withdrawal of “anti-people” policies by the union and state governments. They also urged the government to fill the vacant posts, lying in various government departments, and restore the facilities of the employees withdrew by the state government. They also demanded Rs 5,000 wages per month for the unskilled labourers.


Aggarwal community to have voice soon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
The Aggarwal community in the Punjab will soon form a group, Maharaja Aggarsain Sewa Dal, which will work for its uplift.

Stating this here today at a press conference, the dal’s president Sanjiv Garg, who is also Vice-Chairman of Punjab Agro Corporation, said the community did not have a voice of its own even though it had made a major contribution in society.

Mr Garg announced that the dal would organise a “sanman samaroh” on September 5 in Patiala in which distinguished members of the community would be honoured.


Air of despondency among guava
growers in Malwa belt
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala: Farmers of the Malwa belt who gave a fillip to the Punjab Government’s diversification programme by planting guava in thousands of hectares of land now face mounting losses, with guava going abegging in markets of the region.

While there has been some amount of guava cultivation in the Malwa belt, specially on land where water levels are low, this cultivation received a boost in the last three to four years with the Horticulture Department encouraging farmers to plant high-yielding guava saplings. The last two years have seen more guava orchards coming up in Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Sangrur districts.

This year the farmer has been dealt with a double blow. Most contractors refused to buy orchards on lease at earlier prices, forcing many of the farmers to care for their orchards themselves. The farmers, who first had a harrowing time rearing the fruit, are now facing a severe crash in the prices with guava selling at around Rs 2.50 per kg in most of the markets.

Surprisingly, even as the farmers are selling their guava crop at such a low price through commission agents in the fruit markets, the fruit is available for Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg in retail from 'rehri’-sellers. Farmers allege commission agents and retailers have entered into a conspiracy against them in the absence of any support price by the government.

“This fact can be easily explained from the fact that ‘rehri’ owners are ready to buy our produce even at low rates and only buy from the fruit market,” says Kuljit Singh, a farmer of Fatehpur Rajputan, near here.

There is an air of despondency in most of the guava orchards in the region. Ranjit Singh, who had planted an additional one acre of guava saplings a in four-acre orchard in Bahadurgarh, says he is planning to plough the new orchard as he does not see any future in the fruit. “Farming has become completely mechanised and I have to do the minimum of labour to produce wheat and paddy”, says Ranjit.

He says on the other hand he has to first get the fruit plucked, pack it in plastic trays or the traditional baskets, and take it to the commission agent in the evening.” It is sold through auction in the early morning”, he says. “I am ready to go through even this but at least there should be some support price to ensure I get a minimum return on my produce”, he adds.

Farmers say besides ensuring a support price, the government could help them to sell their produce themselves directly to the buyers instead of coming to the commission agents. “We can sell the fruit ourselves directly if a special place is allocated to us”, they add. Farmers say the “apni mandi” concept has failed, with non-agriculturalists ruling the roost.


Punjab may face fertiliser shortage
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
Punjab, a major producer of foodgrains in the country, is likely to face acute shortage of fertilizers in the coming rabi season.

Though the state Agriculture Department authorities have been claiming that there will be no shortage of fertilizers, including DAP and urea, for the coming rabi season, the fertilizer suppliers have promised the state Agriculture Department that they would be able to supply only 3.91 lakh mt of DAP against the requirement of 5 lakh mt for the coming rabi season. The meeting was held in the first week of August 2004.

To deal with the situation, the state Agriculture Department authorities have called another meeting of suppliers on September 6 and if these authorities find that there could be shortage of fertilizers in Punjab for the coming rabi season, these would take up the matter with Centre on September 10 and 11.

"I got a little worried over the fertilizer situation in Punjab but I am hopeful that the Ministry of Agriculture will help Punjab to overcome any problem pertaining to scarcity of fertilizers," pointed out a senior official of the state Agriculture Department while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity.

Official sources pointed out that what had created fear among the Agriculture Department officials was the fact that the Punjab Government had been showing little interest in activating its agencies to procure fertilizers to be supplied to farmers through rural cooperative societies.

The officials were of the opinion that such a situation would encourage scarcity of fertilizers as no private supplier would take the risk of bringing adequate stocks of fertilizers to Punjab and subsequently sell the same on the fixed maximum retail price (MRP) to farmers at the moment when the prices of raw material had constantly been rising at international level.

The other factor, which had added to the worries of the Agriculture Department officials and farmers, was that so far the process of storage of fertilizers to be used in coming rabi season in Punjab was alarmingly slow.

The officials concerned and farmers are also worried over the fact that due to good monsoon this season, manufacturers of fertilizers had started showing disinterest in selling their products in Punjab as they had to spend money on railway freight charges. Hence the manufacturers had started disposing of their produce in those states, which were located in the nearby areas from their respective manufacturing units.

Mr Narinder Mittal, member, Punjab State Seeds and Fertilizer Dealers Association, pointed out if the Punjab government did not procure fertilizers by floating tenders, it would make the farmers doubly cursed. First the farmers would be left with no other option but to make purchases from private suppliers at MRP. Earlier they used to get fertilizers at cheaper rates due to competition between the government agencies and the private suppliers. Secondly, the farmers would not be able to exercise their brand choice as they would have to buy the fertilizers of those brands only that would be sold by private suppliers.

He pointed out that so far the authorities concerned had not started taking any step to make arrangements for 12 lakh tonnes of urea which was required in the coming rabi season.


Several hurt as students clash
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
About a dozen persons were injured, one of them seriously, when two student groups clashed on Madhewala road in Nihalsinghwala yesterday. Sharp-edged weapons were also used in the clash. During the clash, two cars of a student group and another belonging to a shopkeeper were also damaged. Unconfirmed reports said tension was prevailing between the two groups for the past few days over the post of president of a polytechnic college. The group led by Teja Singh had declared its candidate as the president of the college. The group had reportedly pasted a notice in the college in this connection.

The other group led by Gurjant Singh opposed the move and declared their candidate as the college president. On Tuesday, Teja Singh was standing with his associates outside a government school. Soon some persons from the rival group also reached the spot, which led to a brawl.

There are reports that apart from using sharp-edged weapons the group also fired in the air.

Meanwhile, a seriously injured student, Gurpreet Singh, was rushed to Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case against Gurjant Singh, Kaku, Sembi, Chotha, and some unidentified persons under Sections 336, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Father kills son with unlicensed weapon
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 1
Bhupinder Singh, a youth and resident of Bhagsar village in this district, who got married about six months ago, was shot dead by his father, Harbans Singh, today with his unlicensed weapon.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Harbans Singh fired three shots at Bhupinder Singh, his only son, when Bhupinder Singh demanded that he should be given a share in the agriculture holding. Bhupinder Singh died while he was being shifted to a Ludhiana hospital.

Information revealed that a dispute was going on between Harbans Singh and the deceased for the past few days over the division of agriculture land. The kin of deceased intervened in the matter and persuaded both father and son to settle the dispute amicably. However, both father and son failed to reach any settlement.


Robbery bid foiled, one held
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
The police has foiled a robbery attempt at a petrol station in Baghapurana. One person was arrested, while two others fled.

Sources said three motorcycle-borne youths arrived at Hansraj Thapar petrol station on the Kotkapura road and asked the attendant to fill petrol. After getting the petrol filled, they tried to snatch a bag containing cash from the attendant who resisted their bid.

Meanwhile, a patrol party passing through that road reached the spot. While two of them escaped, the police arrested one of them and recovered a motorcycle. The accused, Gurpreet Singh, alias Gogi, confessed that he had stolen the bike from Malout.

The police has registered a case under Sections 382 and 511 of the IPC.


Mystery shrouds man's death
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
A person died under mysterious circumstances here yesterday.

The deceased, Sukhwinder Singh, who got married only a couple of months back to Karamjeet Kaur, a resident of Sardar Nagar, went to visit his in-laws' house. His wife was also staying with her parents.

Sukhwinder died at his in-laws' home. The police has registered a case against Karamjeet Kaur, Pala Singh, Leela Devi and Seema, under sections 306 and 34 of the IPC. 


Case registered in phone theft case
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
The police has finally registered a case in connection with the theft of mobile phones and SIM cards worth about Rs 2 lakh from a shop a couple of weeks back.

It may be mentioned here that on August 13 thieves broke open the locks of Kartar Telecom located in Goyal Market on GT Road and decamped with mobile handsets and SIM cards worth about Rs 2 lakh. On the basis of Mr Pardeep Kumar's statement, the police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.


1 teacher, 5 classes, 134 students
A school where parents pay sweeper
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga: The state government might be spending crores on Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, but it seems to have forgotten that to teach children schools need teachers. Here it is not the case of a school in any interior village where teachers are unwilling to work, but of a school that is located in the district headquarters.

The Government Primary School at Chowk Shekha here, having a strength of 134 students, has just a single teacher. The teacher, Swaranjeet Kaur, told The Tribune that the school had five classes from standard I to V and she was the only staff member. She said that the school earlier had 3 teachers, including her. Out of these one teacher retired in April, while another went to the school’s branch on the Kotkapura road.

Surprisingly, the newly opened branch of this school is hardly one- and-a-half-kilometre away from this school and it has only 11 students. She said that earlier the school’s branch had 40-50 students but a private school opened up just next to it and many of its students joined the new school. She said that another teacher had retired 2 years ago but no recruitment had been made in the place of the retired teacher. Swaranjeet Kaur said that she had also written to the District Education Officer twice in this regard.

Highlighting her problems, Swaranjeet Kaur, who is in her 50s, said that six hours of daily work, besides managing 100-odd children, leaves her exhausted at the end of the day. “I teach one class at a time, while assigning jobs to other 4 classes,” she added. She said that she could not take a single leave owing to shortage of staff. “If there is an emergency then the teacher at the school’s branch brings her students to the main school and takes combined classes,” she said. On the other hand, if the teacher at the school’s branch is on leave, then her students come to the main school. Swaranjeet said that she had to do everything-- right from maintaining records to evaluating test papers. She said that it takes about half-an- hour in marking the attendance of the students.

The school doesn’t even have a peon and the students’ parents pay the sweeper, who charges Rs 200 per month. She admitted that it was too tough to control these many children but still she was putting in all her efforts to impart knowledge to her students.

When contacted, the District Education Officer, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, said that he didn’t have the powers to recruit a teacher in the school concerned. He said that the matter had been brought to his notice and he had written to the competent authority regarding the same.


President interacts with schoolchildren
Our Correspondent

Khanna, September 1
For the Radha Vatica Senior Secondary School here August 31, was a red letter day because on that day, President of India Abdul Kalam invited them for interaction. Raja Sansi Airport was the venue for this meeting.

Principal of the school Mr D.R. Jalota said here today that on August 30 be received call from SDM Khanna and DCs of Ludhiana and Amritsar that the President of India had invited Principal, two of his family members, two teachers and five students of the school to meet him at Raja Sansi Airport at 2.15 PM. On August 31, 10 members of the school remained with the President at 20 minutes. Principal Jalota after introducing himself to the President introduced all team members include Nidhi Ghale, Ivan Khatri, Simrat Kaur, Navneet Narang and Shivani Sharma, all students. Nirmal Sofat Chairman of the school, teachers Mrs Roop Sharma, Anjna Joshi and Usha Jalota wife of the Principal.

After introduction the President invited questions from the students. The first question was from Navneet Narang wanting to know that why the big farmers do not pay income tax but get all the benefits from other tax payers. Suggesting it a good question the President said that he would discuss with others. Then there was a question on the advantage of nuclear fusion over nuclear fission but the problem was how to control extremely high temperature. President told student Ivan Khatri that a lot of research was going to control such a high temperature. Another student Nidhi Ghale asked about the need of counselling to guide the students on carrier selection. The President asked the Principal of the school about the subjects being taught in the school.

Principal told that it all was possible due to letter written to the President in which he informed the President that how the school staff, Management and students were celebrating the election of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister and feeling happiness as two top posts of the nation had been occupied by the two most intelligent persons. In reply of that letter the President said that he will meet the school staff, management and students.


GND varsity honours Prime Minister
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, was honoured with a set of university publications brought out on the occasion of 400th year of installation of Guru Granth Sahib by Dr S. P Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

The felicitation ceremony was held in the university complex during the brief visit of the Prime Minister. The vice-chancellor apprised him of the progress and various programmes pursued by the university.


Teachers resent BPEO’s nomination for state award
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 1
The Government Teachers Union has opposed the nomination of a non-teaching member of their fraternity for the state award for teaching to be given on Teachers Day.

In a press release issued here today, the joint secretary of the union, Mr Subhash Sharma, alleged that the acting District Education Officer of Gurdaspur has nominated Mr Dev Raj for the state education award from the district. Mr Dev Raj, who is presently a BPEO in the Dhar-II education block, has not taken a single class for the past six years.

He has been serving on administrative posts. The state award for education was meant for teachers who excel in teaching activities. By nominating a non-teaching fraternity member for the state award for teaching, the acting DEO has demoralised the teachers who have been fulfilling their duties in the difficult border areas of the district, they said.

The district education authorities, when asked about the nomination of a BPEO for the state award meant for teachers, said the name of Mr Dev Raj has been recommended for the overall performance.


No teaching in DIETs for two months
Students await ETT test date
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
Even as the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), Punjab, has failed to announce the date of the entrance test for admission to the two-year elementary teachers training (ETT) course, many aspirants have started apprehending that the state government will close down all its District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) where this course is offered.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that though the teaching work in all DIETs of Punjab had stopped after the students of the last batch of the ETT course took their exams about two months ago, the authorities concerned had not been coming out with the date for holding the entrance test for admission into the ETT to run the DIETs smoothly in the current academic session.

Information revealed that those who had been working in different DIETs had been deployed to train the members of village education development committees by going from village to village. Most of the DIETs wore deserted look due to the absence of students, teaching faculty and other staff members despite the fact that crores of rupees had been spent to set up the DIETs.

On some occasions, the DIETs had been witnessing some activities when the training camps were being held for in-service junior basic teachers (JBTs) and other categories of teachers.

A section of students, who have been aspiring to join the ETT course, when contacted, said that even as the government had been spending crores of rupees on the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyaan for spreading elementary education, the test for admission to the training course for the elementary teachers had not been conducted since 2001. They asked when the entrance test for admission to the B.Ed was held every year, why the entrance test for the ETT course was not being held regularly by the authorities concerned?

They pointed out that senior officials of the SCERT had been making statements that entrance test for the ETT would be held shortly. They added that such statements had been causing huge losses to those students who had been preparing for the entrance exams as they had been failing to concentrate in the absence of any specific date announced by the authorities for that exam. They added that some students had been taking coaching for the entrance exam from private academies for the past three months by paying huge fee.

Mr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, Director, SCERT, said that all officials were busy with the preparation being made in connection with the state-level function to be organised on the Teachers’ day at Ludhiana on September 5.


Workshop at medical college
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 31
The faculty of anaesthesia of the Government Medical College here will hold a two-day continual medical education workshop in association with the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, on September 4 and 5.

Stating this here today, the Head of Department of Anaesthesia, Dr Jasbir Kaur, said the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, would inaugurate the function on September 4 along with the Baba Farid University Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Gujral, and the Secretary, Research and Medical Education, Mr Satish Chandra.

Dr Jasbir Kaur said around 300 delegates were expected to attend the programme. She said video-aided presentations would be held, while a workshop would be conducted on September 5.

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