P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vedanti is Badal’s puppet: Ranjit Singh
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, September 19
The arrest of SGPC member Baldev Singh on charges of molestation is likely to take centerstage in the first general house meeting of the SGPC to be held for electing the committee’s president and other office bearers, by the rival faction on September 23.

The issue may be used to put down the SAD President and to raise a question mark on his support to persons of alleged “dubious moral character”.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar Akal Takht, lashed out at Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, for his non-committal stand on the molestation issue.

In a statement here today, the former jathedar said, Giani Vedanti acted on expected lines when he went abroad without taking a decision on the complaint of molestation lodged by the wife of a visually impaired ‘raagi’ against the SGPC member.

He accused the jathedar of being a ‘puppet’ in the hands of, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, who he claimed called the shots in all matters of the SGPC and the Akal Takht.

“To receive a ‘siropa’ from a person accused of molestation was a shame for the SAD chief. The institution of the Akal Takht has suffered because of its “maryada” being flouted time and again. He said the denigration of Akal Takht would continue so long as they have the support of Mr Badal.”

Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, SGPC member from the Panthic Morcha, a rival of SAD, stated that he had written to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, urging him to seek the resignation of Baldev Singh when the matter first came to light. He said the matter was serious and he would raise the issue in the first SGPC house meeting . “We all should be ashamed that such persons have been chosen by Mr Badal,” he added.

Mr Kanwarpal Singh, secretary-general, Dal Khalsa, contended that Baldev Singh should not be allowed to perform any official duties till he is cleared of all charges. He said his action was a blot on the community.


Badal owes explanation for backing ‘rapist’: Mann
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 19
SAD(A) president and a former MP Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today expressed concern over the degeneration of Sikh character vis-a-vis women under the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD(B) president and a former CM.

Talking to newsmen here today before addressing a function, Mr Mann referred to the incident of molestation of Mrs Manjit Kaur, wife of a visually-challenged ragi, by SGPC member Baldev Singh and use of official vehicle of the SGPC for it.

“Sikhs had been saviours of women’s honour and their ancestors had risked their lives rescuing Hindu women abducted by Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali. Now it is a matter of shame that instead of taking action against the accused, the Badal Dal leaders, including Dr Ratan Singh Ajnala, MP, and Mr Veer Singh Lopoke, MLA, had rallied behind him by holding a press conference at Amritsar to claim that Mr Baldev Singh was being framed under a deep-rooted conspiracy,” he rued. “Mr Badal also accepted a siropa from the accused at a function at Darbar Sahib, Taran Taran,” he bemoaned.

Mr Mann also took to task the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, for not taking cognisance of the incident. “The victim had petitioned before Jathedar Vedanti and repeated the charge at Akal Takht but the Jathedar chose to go abroad to save his skin instead of initiating action against the accused,” he remarked.

Mr Badal, leaders of his party and other religio-political leaders who had either supported Mr Baldev Singh or had turned a blind eye to the incident owed an explanation to the Sikh community, Mr Mann said. He wondered as to why the women’s rights bodies and the National Womens’ Commission had not taken notice of the incident.

It was shocking that Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was facing a murder case, was being projected as the next president of the SGPC, he said while calling upon Sikhs to oppose such leaders.

Commenting on the much-talked about book of Mr PC Alexander, Mr Mann alleged that the the former Principal Secretary of Mrs Indira Gandhi had failed to reveal facts about the Badal faction’s involvement in the infamous Operation BlueStar. Even though Mr Alexander had admitted in his autobiography that secret meetings had taken place between jailed Akali leaders and Mr PV Narasimha Rao, who headed a special panel then, yet Mr Alexander had not mentioned the names of these Akali leaders due to his new-acquired pro-BJP leanings, he alleged.


Badal for CBI probe into case against SGPC member
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
Former Chief Minister and president, SAD, Parkash Singh Badal while expressing doubts over the role of the Punjab Police in the registration of a criminal case against Mr Baldev Singh, SGPC member, demanded a CBI probe into the same.

While categorically stating that he did not know whether Mr Baldev Singh was involved in the molestation of the wife of a visually challenged ragi or not, he said a section of SAD workers and SGPC members was being targeted and subsequently put behind bars by implicating them in false criminal cases. He added that Mr Baldev Singh might be facing the music due to a political conspiracy.

Mr Badal, who was here today to inaugurate a diagnostic centre and a medical, check-up camp organised by Mahabir Dal Eye Hospital, while talking to mediapersons, said law should be allowed to take its course.

Mr Baldev Singh, SGPC member, was yesterday arrested in the above said case.

Mr Badal said a few days ago he had accepted Siropa from the Mr Baldev Singh despite the latter facing serious allegations. He further said Mr Baldev Singh had stated in his presence that if the complainant would level allegations against him at Akal Takht, he would resign from SGPC membership and face any punishments.

When asked that was he of the opinion that the image of the SGPC was being dented due to the fact that former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur was facing a criminal case and a former SGPC member, Mr Sadhu Singh Raggi had also been convicted in a smuggling case, Mr Badal said it was difficult to say how a person would behave under certain conditions.

On being asked that who would be the next SGPC chief, he said it was yet to be decided. He kept mum when asked whether a new face would be heading the SGPC or some former president could be his choice again.

About his reaction to the edict issued against supporting the RSS and its wings by Sikhs and five Sikh high priests, Mr Badal said he had come to know about it only today and would inquire into the matter.


SGPC chief’s election takes curious turn
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 19
This time the election of the SGPC president and other office-bearers has taken a curious turn. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, which has overwhelming majority in the general house of the SGPC remains the sole arbiter. 

But he has very few people to present before the Sikh sangat who can represent the sensitivities of the Sikhs as a whole. All his actions so far have indicated that the SGPC as an institution has been politicised and is being used as a platform which can serve as a spring board for these aspiring to capture the Sikh political stage. After the demise of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Sikhs have failed to project anyone who can step into his shoes. Mr Badal officiated on behalf of the SGPC during the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib.

Since the date for the election of the president and other office-bearers of the SGPC has been fixed as September 23, the race for the same has begun. Bibi Jagir Kaur, who is a frontrunner, was asked to compere the programme at Amritsar on the 400th anniversary celebrations and this was done with the aim of projecting her as future president of the SGPC. But she conducted the stage as if it was a political stage and not a religious function. Bibi Jagir Kaur has already served as president of the SGPC after Jathedar Tohra was removed unceremoniously following the split in the Akali Dal. Her tenure as president of the religious body was marred by controversies, including her excommunication by the then Jathedar of Akal Takht and her squabbles with other functionaries of the SGPC.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, who has also served as president, is also in the race his denials notwithstanding. The name of Mr Kabul Singh, a former president of the SGPC, is also being mentioned for the august office. Mr Kabul Singh was elected president of the SGPC after Jathedar Tohra resigned in protest against the entry of the police into Harmandar Sahib during the tenure of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala as Chief Minister.

No doubt Mr Kabul Singh is a stalwart who also faced bullets of the militants. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi once known as ‘iron man’ of the Akali Dal has been tamed by the Shiromani Akali Dal supremo. He also served as president of the SGPC for one year. But his achievements were far better as compared to his predecessors and successors. He got minority status for all the SGPC-run institutions and live telecast of gurbani was also started during his tenure.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former chief secretary of the SGPC and a Tohra loyalist, has emerged as a Sikh leader who holds religious concerns of the Sikh community uppermost in his mind. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta belongs to a devout Sikh family and is highly educated and he saw his younger days in the All-India Sikh Students Federation camps. His training was so rigorous that he turned to religion very seriously. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta is quite popular among the Sikhs in the country and abroad as well.

Mr Manjit Singh has been at the helm of affairs of the SGPC for a long time as its administrator and has the capacity to stem the rot which has overtaken it.

However Mr Badal may not like Mr Manjit Singh to be in a position from where he can influence others.

The SGPC general house has a strength of 170 members and election of 167 was held and three seats were countermanded. Fifteen members were coopted later. The Panthic Morcha and independents have a strength of 33 members and the Panthic Morcha may not put up its candidate in view of the poor strength in the general house. Mr Badal has already been authorised to nominate the person for the post of president.


Gurdwara poll chief unhappy at govt inaction
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 19
The Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Justice J.S. Sekhon (retd), is unhappy with the Punjab Government for not transferring the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

Justice Sekhon had sought the transfer of the two Deputy Commissioners after the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court over the elections of three candidates for the SGPC seats—Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, (Tarn Taran), Sucha Singh Langah (Dhariwal) and Sewa Singh Sekhwan (Gurdaspur)— who were disqualified by the Deputy Commissioners from contesting the elections for being alleged defaulters of the SGPC.

The High Court had taken serious view of the two not obeying the orders of the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections.

The two Deputy Commissioners had sought apology from the High Court for disobeying the orders.

Following the judgement of the High Court Justice Sekhon had written to the state government to transfer the two Deputy Commissioners to enable him to hold the elections for the three constituencies. The state government did not taken action on his letter.

Justice Sekhon sent another letter to the Punjab Government on Thursday seeking transfer of the two Deputy Commissioners in order to hold the elections.

According to Justice Sekhon, the elections to three seats can be held within 15 days, as the process starts from the day the nominations are received and rejected.

The election to 167 seats were held on July 11. The election to elect the President, SGPC, would be held on September 25.


The beauty of Punjab as told by Prof Gupta
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Do you know the vital statistics of Punjab? Would you like to see its statistical outline to get first-hand feel of its curves and contours? Would you be interested in its physiognomy or physiology? Are you often excited to know more or explore more about the past, present or even the future of Punjab? How well do you know its people, economy, culture, agriculture or its place in the comity of nations?

Are you excited to have a ‘dekho’ at Punjab’s bare statistics and much more? This task has been done for you by Dr S P Gupta in his book, ‘’The Punjab—an Overview’’! Who else could have done it, except Prof. Gupta, a household name to students of economics in this region, stretching from Haryana’s Kurukshetra University to Chandigarh’s Panjab University and its Government College for Women, where he has spent three decades educating and teaching.

For such an important state to reveal itself, Prof. Gupta had actress-turned-politician-turned-social activist Shabana Azami to lift the veil of his book here on September 11. Between the covers in 390 pages is encapsuled ‘’an overview’’ of Punjab told in a story-form. Essentially, it is a statistical outline of the main developments in various areas of economy since Partition in 1947 and again onwards from 1966, when Punjab was reorganised.

The beauty of Punjab that Prof Gupta has presented is two-fold. If the teacher in him has left an indelible stamp on each of the 21 sections into which the book is divided, and if he has not allowed statistics to distract the narration, the author has given suggestions or conclusions at the end of most of the chapters to make the reader pause and ponder over statistics.

Some statistics about Punjab are quite revealing. For instance, did you know that in terms of population, Punjab with a population of 24.29 million is bigger than at least 150 countries of the world? Or that Amritsar district alone is bigger than at least 75 countries?

Some of the countries smaller in size than Punjab in terms of population are Iraq—23.33 million; Malaysia—22.22 million; Sri Lanka—19.40 million; Australia—19.35 million; Belgium—10.25 million; Switzerland—7.28 million; Singapore—430 million; New Zealand—3.86 million; and Kuwait—2.04 million.

Prof. Gupta did his MA (Economics) from Panjab University and Ph.D from Kurukshetra University. Starting as a lecturer in Sonepat in 1955, he has had a long innings in academics.

His immediate concern is as much about the the future of Punjab and Haryana, on which he wrote a book last year, ‘’Three Decades of Haryana’’, as the future of the youth in the region. ‘’Youth’’, he told TNS, ‘’is directionless. No one is there to guide the youth, which seemingly only whiles away its time in colleges and universities. Such is the fallout the quicksilver changes in our society’s socio-cultural, economic, political and academic environment. A gift of the passage of time’’.


Punjab Education Dept hires non-state firm for recruitments
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
A controversy has broken out regarding the recruitment of computer teachers and computer faculty as the Punjab Education Department has engaged a Delhi-based non- Punjab Government agency for the purpose.

And this has been done without bringing it to the notice of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB). In fact, an 11-member Board headed by Brig Charanjiv Singh Harika (retd) has no work as the Education Department has engaged a Delhi-based limited company for making the recruitments. A huge amount will be charged by that company.

Brig Charanjiv Singh said he was not aware of any such recruitment. The Department of School Education had advertised 1,324 posts of computer faculty and 1,640 posts of computer teacher on May 24 this year for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project that is to be started in government schools. Appointees would get a consolidated salary of Rs 4,500 and Rs 3,500 per month, respectively.

As per the information available, as many as 6,108 candidates appeared in the test held on July 11 by the company to fill these posts. And the company has sent a bill of Rs 14,33,920 to the Education Department for payment as service charges. Already the Education Department has released Rs 6 lakh to the company.

In fact, the payment to the company, which the Education Department says is a Government of India enterprise, has been made by diverting funds meant for the Sarav Sikhsa Abhiyan. It is another questionable decision because 75 per cent of the contribution in the Abhiyan funds is being made by the Central Government and only 25 per cent by the state government.

The Information and Communication Technology project is wholly a state government project and the funds availed of from the Centre can not be diverted for this project.

The permission for engaging the Delhi-based company was given by the then Education Minister, Mr Khushhal Bahl, on May 1 this year. The permission was taken by stating that the “the task is colossal. Besides, we do not have the expertise to process a large number of expected applications, conduct a written test and make the final recruitments”.

However, for the past several years, the PSSSB has been making recruitments to all sorts of technical and non-technical posts whatever may be their number. And that the state government had no expertise to handle such recruitments has surprised many in the Education Department. Departmental committees set up by the Education Department in the past have been recruiting thousands of teachers for schools.

Moreover, sources said, though the Delhi-based company had taken a huge amount for conducting the tests etc, the Education Department had put up its own staff on duty when the test was held. From which sources that money was given to the staff is not known.

However, it is not the only controversy that has hit the project. Headmasters of various government schools have been forced to deposit money with the office of the Director-General, School Education, for furnishing computer labs in schools selected under the ICT project. A number of Headmasters have told The Tribune that they have been forced to make a payment of Rs 50,000 each for the furnishing of each lab from the funds collected from students.

And in case two labs are to be set up in a school, then that school is supposed to pay Rs 1 lakh. If even a false ceiling is to be provided for the lab, schools are supposed to give Rs 16,000 in addition to the Rs 50,000. The Headmasters say if the government wanted to start the ICT project in schools, it should give money from its own funds.

Moreover, if labs are to be set up then Headmasters should be given this responsibility. Why were the Education Department authorities interested in giving this job to some other organisation, they ask. When parent-teacher associations can build rooms for schools, why can they not handle such a small job of setting up labs, argue the Headmasters. Under the Government Educational Institutions Building Fund Rules, the executive committees set up at the school level can only carry out repairs and improve the campus, they say.


How will Punjab revive the education system?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
It is a bitter fact that the government school education system has almost collapsed in Punjab, especially in its rural areas. Can it be revived? If not, then some other way should be found to ensure quality education to all schoolgoing students in the state. A debate on these questions has started in the Council of Ministers as well as in the administrative machinery.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has asked the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, and senior IAS officers posted in the Education Department to interact at various levels to prepare a detailed note for discussion on this issue at the earliest possible.

One view is to follow the Kerala model. Kerala state, where literacy is the highest, has been providing best education to students, and private schools are playing a big role in this.

There are some Punjab ministers who are extending full support to private educational trusts, organisations and even bodies like those running chains of schools such as Delhi Public Schools to set up schools in Punjab’s rural and urban areas. In rural areas, government schools now only cater to the needs of students belonging to poor sections of society and marginal farmers, who could not afford to send their wards to public schools. The same is true in the case of urban areas. Politicians, officers, even teachers and others from the middle class avoid government schools and send their wards to public schools.

The other view is that one more effort should be made to streamline the functioning of government schools. At present the Punjab Government spends in the range of Rs 800 per month for the education of each student in government schools.

With this amount, even the best public schools could provide quality education. The government can provide funds for their education in public schools.

Mr Surinder Singla, accompanied by Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, who was earlier Minister of State for Education, on Friday visited various government schools in the Punjab area around Chandigarh. They are of the view that though best infrastructure was available in most of the government schools, that was being wasted because there was no environment for imparting education in schools.

The pass percentage in the board examination is low compared to private schools. The general standard of education, cleanliness etc is also poor. The most important factor is the location of government schools. The Delhi Government recently closed over 300 schools where the strength of students was well below the required number.

If government schools near the state capital-Chandigarh, are in such poor shape, then what will be the fate of other schools located in remote areas.

It is said that there were about 20,000 vacant posts of teacher in schools. However, there are schools, especially in urban areas, which are overstaffed. The pupil-teacher ratio, especially at the secondary level, is hardly in the range of 22: 1 in most of the schools.

Before going for the new recruitment drive of teachers, there is a need to carefully examine the staff strength of teachers in all schools and to shift teachers from surplus schools to deficit ones.

Without rationalising the staff, it would be not useful to start the recruitment drive, says a senior officer of Education Department. 


News Analysis
Row over appointment of law officers unresolved
P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, September 19
Even with the best of intentions, the Punjab Government, so far, has failed to resolve the controversy surrounding the appointment of law officers to defend the state in the High Court here and the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

While some of the appointees are refusing to join because the Finance Department has reduced their salaries, several others with political backing are still in the queue for getting appointed. In this confusion, the state is being literally coerced to shell out hefty sums of money to defend its important cases, as it has to hire lawyers from outside.

That formal approval for appointment has not been issued by the office of the Advocate-General to nearly 110 law officers, speaks volumes of the oscillating and vascilating mind of the political executive and bureaucracy.

If this has cast a shadow over the credibility of the government, it also showed the office of the Advocate-General in poor light. This was so despite there being clear guidelines by a committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, which had recommended that the recruitment of law officers be made on ‘’merit and seniority’’ and that the number should not exceed 55 for the High Court and seven for the Supreme Court.

The present tug-of-war over the appointment of law officers is similar to what had happened during the tenure of the previous SAD-BJP government, when too there was flutter over ‘’excess’’ appointments. That high number had raised the legal defence Bill many times over, much to the chagrin of the Finance Department.

Even today, the present Congress government was spending over Rs 4 crore to defend important cases like the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal in the Supreme Court or footing a bill of over Rs 50 lakh on the case of appointments of Deputy Superintendents of Police under the sports quota in the High Court.

What has peeved the Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, who was appointed to this post after the Congress assumed charge in February 2002, was the fact that ‘’meritorious’’ law officers would be shy of joining due to reduced salaries.

The Chief Minister is believed to be upset because he has had no free hand in these appointments.

Interestingly, the Advocate-General has the status of a Cabinet minister. Yet, his views on the appointment of law officers were apparently ignored.

After his appointment, the Advocate-General had submitted a list of 38 names as law officers against 24 courts in the High Court, where the sanctioned strength is 46. However, in March, 2002, 62 law officers were appointed. As pressure mounted, the list swelled to 128 in May, 2004.

Trouble started when the state decided to review the performances of the law officers and reduce their number to bring about efficiency and quality in their work. It was then that a committee was set up under the Chief Secretary. The shocking part of the ongoing controversy was that despite the Chief Minister having had a meeting with the Advocate-General and the Principal Secretary, Home, Mr S.K. Sinha, the matter has remained unresolved.


Making marriages electronically transparent
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
An overseas cable network has taken upon itself the onerous responsibility of making marriages of non-resident Indians (NRIs) transparent electronically. To begin with, the Canada-based channel will act as a bridge between families of both the bride and the bridegroom.

"We will try to bring them closer by shooting episodes on the prospective candidates and their families. These episodes will be shown in a special half-an-hour capsule," says Mr Tejinder Saini, director of this innovative programme.

"These episodes or segments should not be confused with matrimonial advertisements. In this programme we will initially focus on families of eminent Punjabis. The prospective bride or bridegroom, their parents and other family members will be interviewed so that other side gets to know them well. We have already shot a couple of segments for this programme which has got an overwhelming response in Canada. We have picked Ms Tript Pannu from Alpha TV as host for this programme," says Mr Saini.

The NRI marriage problems have been hitting newspaper headlines for the past several years. Even the National Commission for Women has come out with a series of recommendations urging the Union Government to go for bilateral agreements with nations of strong Indian diaspora base.

These agreements should facilitate in recognition of foreign divorce decrees, maintenance orders, child custody and making both the NRI bride and the bridegroom accountable to law irrespective of their change of residence.

"After studying both successful and failed marriages, we decided to take this social responsibility upon ourselves. We are not going to act as a marriage bureau or matrimonial agency but only project prospective brides and bridegrooms to facilitate their contact with the other side After a telecast, it will be for the families or candidates concerned to decide their future line of Acton," adds Mr Saini.

"Our programme, 'Watno Dur' (far from home), is telecast every Saturday on Vision TV and can be viewed from coast to coast in Canada,” he says.


“Pethas” made of limestone mixture
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
White “pethas” are being made after dipping pumpkin in a tank containing limestone mixture. These are made in the open, adjoining a “ganda nulllah” by workers dressed in their underclothes. This is the state of one of the “petha”-making units of the city which were raided by a team of the Health Department on Thursday.

The team raided a few other such units in the city and took samples of the sweatmeat produced by them.

“It is during the festival season that we supply our sweets to prominent sweetshops in the city,” says Jagjit, a migrant labourer whose “petha” unit was raided under a drive by Civil Surgeon Hardev Singh Rosha.

Jagjit admits that he has committed “some mistakes” but says this is because his work is not regulated yet. He also has a network of seven to eight rehris which sell the sweets in the city.

The sweets are made on a plot situated close to the “ganda nullah” in the Tafazalpura locality. There are two pucca rooms which are used to store the sweets. There is a toilet in the front, adjacent to which pumpkins are kept. There are two tanks. One contains water while the other contains a milky mixture of lime-stone. Two “bhattis” are also situated nearby.

Describing the process being used to produce the sweatmeat by migrant labourers, the District Health Officer, Dr V.S. Mohi, said after peeling pumpkin, it is dipped in limestone water for some time so that it becomes white. He said it was then cleaned and boiled in a mixture of sugar and milk.


Agitation against govt after byelections, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
Mr Parkash Singh Badal today declared that an agitation would be launched against the misrule of the state government immediately after the Assembly byelections were over.

He said the law and order situation had deteriorated as incidents of kidnapping of children and rape had become order of the day. The government-run hospitals were being closed deliberately. Poor people were being uprooted.

He said that the SAD would make the “worst performance” of the Amarinder Singh government in the past about three years as the main issue during the Assembly byelections.

He added that Capt Amarinder Singh had failed to pressurise the Centre to make a significant hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy.


Take economic progress to downtrodden, says Governor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
Governor O.P. Verma while stressing on equality in totality today underlined the need for bringing in social and economic parity in the country and taking the economic progress to the downtrodden of society.

Speaking at the annual day function of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) here, the Governor said there was a need for identifying hidden entrepreneurship among those sections who did not get the chance to explore and develop it.

The Governor remarked, “It can be found anywhere and everywhere”, while maintaining that there were people all over the country who possessed talent but lacked the opportunity to exploit it. He observed that it was the responsibility of organisations like the LMA to identify this, groom it, nourish it and exploit it for better results.

He maintained that the fast economic growth alone cannot make India a developed nation. “Although it is an important factor, but it is not the only factor”, he said, while adding that equitable progress was necessary. He said, India should learn from China which is dominating the world markets today.

The Governor assured the captains of the industry that labour laws could be improved. But the industry, he said, should also own the responsibility. “We need to do an introspection as what we have achieved so far and what more we need to achieve”, he said.

In his key note address, Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune Group of Publications, underlined the responsibility of the industry to ensure social progress along with economic growth. “It is not an act of charity, but an act of necessity”, he remarked, while adding that the industry needs to create more jobs and more welfare not only in national interest but for its own interest as well. He pointed out that the industry also needs consumers and these could be there only when people have the spending power.

Referring to the state of affairs in the country, he maintained that although a lot had been achieved but a lot more needed to be done. He said the country had about 33 crore persons living below the poverty line and crores of children were not able to go to school. He pointed out that it was the responsibility of each and every countryman, in general, and entrepreneurs, in particular, to ensure that India changes “from an emerging economy to an emerged economy”. He said, India had a long way to go and Ludhiana and Punjab had a special role and responsibility in it.

He regretted that Punjab had been “stuck somewhere” in the course of its progress in terms of industry and agriculture.

“Why Hyderabad is on the world map and not Ludhiana, despite its massive number of entrepreneurs, he remarked while pointing out the success achieved by the Munjals (the Hero Group), the Mittals (the Bharti Group”, Oswals (the Vardhaman Group) and many others.

Mr Surinder Kapur, Chairman and Managing Director of Koyo Systems Private Limited, Mr Brij Mohan Lal Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director of Hero Group of Industries, Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman of the Vardhaman Group of Industries, and Mr O.P. Munjal, Co-Chairman and Managing Director of Hero Group of Industries, also spoke on the occasion.

Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary of the LMA, presented the annual report, Mr M.C. Munjal, president, LMA, delivered the presidential address and Mr Anil Kumar, vice-president, LMA, presented the vote of thanks.


Generate more power, PSEB told
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Standing Committee on Public Sector Undertakings on Friday reviewed the functioning of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Mr Ashwani Sekhri, chairman of the committee, said that the board should take immediate short-term measures to bridge the gap between demand and supply as none of the planned generation projects of the board would fructify before 2007.

Talking to TNS after a meeting with the board, which was represented by Chairman Y.S. Ratra and other members, Mr Sekhri said there was a gap of 20 per cent to 30 per cent between demand and supply and the board should make power generation a priority. He said the committee had asked the board to draw up plans.

Mr Sekhri said the issue of unbundling of the board was also discussed at the meeting. He said though unbundling had to be undertaken before June 9 next year, it was made clear that corporations which would be created under the exercise would be the government’s corporations. He said the committee also made it clear that no employee should be retrenched and pension and other benefits of the employees should not be reduced.

The chairman of the committee said it was also observed that no Central power projects were in the pipeline in Punjab. Contrary to this, Central power projects were being undertaken in other neighbouring states. He said the committee asked the board to take up this issue with the Centre.

Mr Sekhri said the committee also noted that the board had registered a profit of Rs 180 crore in the last financial year by saving 15 per cent of the railway fare.


SGPC to sue Tehelka for ridiculing Sikh symbols

Amritsar, September 19
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) is contemplating to sue editor and publishers of Tehelka weekly magazine for ridiculing five K’s – the living symbols of Sikh Panth.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, member the SGPC, talking to this correspondent today revealed that the September 18 edition of the magazine tried to distort the very meaning of the sacred symbols of Sikhs.

He said these five K’s were compared with illogical figures. He alleged there were figures of kar (Car), kukkar (cock), kudi (girl), kash (cash) and karbine (pistol) in front of five K’s—kirpan, kada, kes, kanga and kachchehra respectively.


Tension at dera between two communities
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
The district police authorities remained on tenterhooks for almost the whole day preventing members of the Dalit Sena and followers of Dera Roomiwala from clashing. The situation became tense when members of the Dalit community insisted on entering the dera, while its followers prevented them from doing so.

Though the members of the Dalit Sena and followers of Dera Roomiwala were firm on their stand, the police managed to defuse tension by setting up barricades at various points to separate members of both the communities.

A section of photographers, who visited the spot where dera followers were standing wielding weapons, was maltreated by the mob and not allowed to take photographs.

Mr Subash Chander Bagri, national vice-president, Dalit Sena, who visited the village where Dera Roomiwala is situated, while condemning the discrimination being done to the community at the dera, said there should be communal harmony and members of the both the communities should live like brothers.

While talking to TNS, Mr Bagri said he had held a meeting with the panchayat of the village where the dera was situated and the panchayat had assured that members of the Dalit community would be allowed to move anywhere in the dera except in the room where the dera head gave religious discourse.

He said the panchayat had also promised that the offerings made by members of the Dalit community would be accepted at the dera and they would be allowed to partake of “langar” side by side members of other community.

He said if the panchayat broke its promise and members of his community were discriminated against in future, he would raise the issue in parliament.

Mr Kiranjit Singh Gheri, president, Dalit Sena, Punjab, said the sena would continue with its struggle till the discrimination against members of their community was stopped.

He added that the district administration should take more steps to bring the discrimination to an end.

He alleged that the police today conducted raids on houses of members of the Dalit Sena to round them up so that voice of their community could be gagged.

He alleged that members of their community living in Bhucho Kalan village were not allowed to move out of their respective house to attend a meeting of the Dalit Sena at the gurdwara in that village.


Dalits divided over discrimination charge
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
A division has surfaced in the Scheduled Caste community of this region over the issue pertaining to alleged discrimination against community members at an important religious dera situated near Bhucho town of this district.

The division came to the fore when on the one hand Mr Kiran Jit Gheri, president, Dalit Sena, Punjab, alleged that members of the Scheduled Caste community were maltreated and their offerings were not accepted when they visited the ‘dera’, which was being frequented by the Chief Minister, while on the other, a section of the Scheduled Caste leadership claimed that Scheduled Caste members were being treated well at the dera.

Mr Chotte Lal, Mr Mangal Singh and Dr Mukesh, president, general secretary and secretary, District Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Cell, Bathinda, along with other office-bearers yesterday claimed that they went to the Dera Roomiwala and were treated well. They added that they also partook of the “langar” along with members of other communities.

They added that they also paid obeisance to Guru Granth Sahib and also made offerings. They also moved from one place to another in the dera without any hindrance. They said that they were given due respect at the dera by all and sundry.

They alleged that some vested interests were trying to instigate members of Scheduled Caste community on the basis of caste due to vested interests. They said time had come when the people, particularly members of the Scheduled Caste community, should remain vigilant.

Mr Gehri, on the other hand, alleged discrimination against members of the Scheduled Caste community and said two delegations of the Dalit Sena visited the dera yesterday and when the managers came to know about their caste, they were asked to leave immediately.

He said when some members of the delegations tried to make offerings, the same were not accepted. He said offerings of only those, belonging to goldsmith caste, were accepted.


BSF to meet Rangers next month
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 19
Smuggling of narcotics across the border is topmost on the agenda for the forthcoming flag meeting of the Border Security Force (BSF) and its Pakistani counterpart at Chandigarh from October 11 to 14.

The meeting, usually hosted by the Inspector-Generals (IGs) of four border states, will have an additional host — Mr A.K. Mitra, Additional Director-General (ADG), Western Command, BSF.

This, perhaps, is the reason why the meeting, which was planned to be held in Jalandhar, will now be held in Chandigarh.

Sources in the BSF reveal that narcotics smuggling has become a pain in the neck for officials here for the past few months. Pointing towards the activity of smugglers across the border, the BSF is likely to press for more cooperation from the Rangers in terms of vigilance, joint patrol and repair of border fencing, while also demanding strict action against those nabbed in the process.

The BSF officials will also hold talks on other security issues like erecting of new border pillars.

The BSF officials and Rangers are likely to exchange lists of detainees on either sides who have completed their terms of punishment and await deportation formalities.

The sources point out there can be as many as 50 to 60 Indians who have crossed the Pakistan borders inadvertently, most of them fishermen who have strayed into Pakistan from the Rann of Kutch.

The BSF officials have prepared a list of scores of Indians “missing” believed to have crossed the border. This list will be handed to the Rangers for queries. 


Bhai Kanhaiya chetna march begins
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 19
The Bhai Kanhaiya Chetna March today began from the Bhai Kanhaiya Seva and Simran Kendar, Phagwara, for Anandpur Sahib where it would stay tonight. It was organised by Sant Anoop Singhji Una Sahibwale, head of the kendar, and the sangat of this area to commemorate the Bakshish Divas to celebrate the tercentenary of the historical event of Guru Gobind Singh handing over balm and bandage to Bhai Kanhaiyaji in the battle of 1704 at Anandpur Sahib for the wounded soldiers.

Thousands of devotees, in over 150 vehicles, including 100 buses, took part in the march led by Guru Granth Sahib placed in flower-bedecked special bus and “panj piaras” perched atop an open jeep. Gatqa parties, bands, youths on scooters and motor cycles led the cavalcade. Banners displaying Bhai Kanhaiya serving waters with his trademark “mashak”, gurbani, kirtan, dhadis and floral showers marked the march.

Earlier, bhog of a series of 102 akhand paths was performed and kirtan darbar held in celebration of the quadri-centennial celebration of Guru Granth Sahib installation. Anoop Singh Una Sahibwale, head of the kendar, disclosed on this occasion that the kendar would soon set up a dispensary for providing free treatment. 


Ex-Services League welcomes edict
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
The Indian Ex-Services League Punjab and Chandigarh has welcomed the edict of Akal Takht forbidding the Sikh community’s support to the RSS. In a signed statement, the president of the league, Lieut- Col Chanan Singh Dhillon, has said that the RSS was indulging in activity that undermined Sikh philosophy.

The statement says that it was ironic that the Shiromani Akali Dal after having got “a mandate from the spoils of Operation Bluestar and miseries of the Sikh community which followed in its trail shamelessly preferred to share power with the forces which are out and out inimical to the Indian minorities”.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that the edict was kept under wrap because it was issued on July 23, it would send a wrong message against the Shiromani Akali Dal that had taken over the role of master of ceremonies during the 400-year celebrations of the installations of Guru Granth Sahib from the SGPC,” the statement says.

The league has said that it is important and is in the interest of the Sikh community that new members of the SGPC unshackle themselves from the political stronghold and elect a president who is non-controversial, untainted and honest to the core so that supremacy of the panth, which has been eroded, is re-established.


Poignancy of child abuse comes alive
Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, September 19
The poignancy of child abuse came alive in “Dharam Puttra”, a play staged on the second day of the National Theatre Festival held at in Urvi auditorium, BBK DAV College, in collaboration with the Manch-Rangmanch last evening.

“Dharam Puttra” originally written in Marathi by Mahesh Elenkunchwar was staged in Hindi by the Amateur Theatre Group, Jammu. The story revolves around three characters — a husband, a wife and their foster son. Roles of husband and wife were played by Ajay Kumar and Seema respectively. Ajay and Seema exchanged roles, each playing the child by turn.

Parents caught in the web of traditional and modern psychology-terrorise and eventually kill their adopted son. The woman does not have her own child as she hates physical relation. She is supposedly a god-fearing woman and who wants to have only spiritual relationship with her husband. But she leave no chance in embarrassing him for his failed medical practice.

Seema is a mother who is modern in her outlook. She brings up her child after reading the child psychology. But fails to check herself while teaching her adopted son. She does not hesitate while chopping off his tongue, gouging out his eyes and eventually killing him.


Manipur issue highlighted at convention
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 19
The local unit of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) organised a convention on “Armed Forces Special Powers Act —1958 and Democratic Rights” here today. Mr Jagat Thodam from Manipur was the key speaker.

Mr Thodam spoke on the history of Manipur, people’s struggle, role of Central and state governments and alleged atrocities on the people of Manipur by security forces.

He said the struggle of Manipur people would continue till all “black laws” were withdrawn. He also alleged that the right to live was being “snatched” from them.

Mr Nardev Singh, a leader, said though the laws were enacted for the welfare of people, the same were also used against them. He also talked about the “violation” of democratic rights by security forces in different states.

Mr Ranjit Singh, a leader of Inqulabi Kendra, Punjab, Mr Tarsem Lal, a leader of the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), Mr Sanjiv Mintoo, a leader of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU), and Mr Satnam, a writer, expressed their views on the Manipur problem.

Mr Hari Singh Tark, state president of the AFDR, gave examples from his experience about the “misuse” of “black laws” and talked about the “atrocities”committed on people by security forces.

Mr Amrik Khokhar, district president, and Mr Hardev Singh Rathi, district secretary of the AFDR, also spoke.


Patwaris to protest against VB move
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 19
Members of the Revenue Patwar Union have decided to stage a protest against the Vigilance Bureau on September 22 for registering a "false" case against the patwari of Gholia Khurd, Harcharan Pal Singh.

The decision came at a union meeting in the administrative complex here.

The union members accused the Vigilance DSP, Mr Surjeet Singh Khosa, of "trapping" government employees in "false" cases and providing benefits to his kin.

Union chief Sukhmandar Singh alleged that Harcharan Pal Singh had been trapped in a false case. The union members said that the patwari was arrested in the wee hours and was taken to the office for collecting some documents after which a case was registered against him.

A resolution was also passed at the meeting, saying that no patwari would ever take any record to police personnel or vigilance officials.

They warned that if the case registered against Harcharan Pal Singh was not withdrawn, dharnas at the tehsil level would be staged on September 22 between 10 am and 3 pm. They also sought a probe into the assets of local vigilance officials.

When contacted, Mr Khosa said that in 2003, the then VB DSP Narinder Pal Singh Ruby had probed the patwari's case and the orders to register a case against him came recently.

He said that the other three accused in the case were his distant relatives, hence the question of benefiting his kin didn't arise.


Dhuria heads federation
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 19
In the annual convention of the Punjab Subordinate Service Federation held here today, the following office-bearers were elected for three years: president —Mr Pritam Singh Dhuria; general secretary — Mr Balbir Singh Kathgarh; finance secretary — Ms Jaswant Kaur Kairo; senior vice-presidents — Mr Mohinder Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Ram Krishan Dhunkia and Mr Rakesh Sharma; vice-presidents — Mr Parmod Monga, Mr Nodha Ram, Mr Pavitar Singh, Mr Pardeep Dhawan, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Ms Parminder Kaur, Mr Rampal, and Mr Bohar Singh; organising secretary — Mr K.S. Lehri; and press secretary — Mr Roshan Singh Sandhu.

More than 200 delegates from Abohar, Fazilka, Zira and Jalalabad participated in the convention.

Delegates came down heavily on the policies of the state government like privatisation of PSUs, conversion of government departments into corporations and abolishing 25 per cent of government posts in various departments.


Jalandhar-Amritsar road’s 4-laning to begin soon
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 19
Punjab PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa on Friday said that the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway would start soon with the National Highway Authority completing the procedure for the execution of tenders for the same.

The minister, who had come to Harpalpur village here to lay the foundation stone of three link roads in the Ghanaur constituency along with Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, said work would be started on a 20-km stretch from the Bidhipur level crossing. He said Rs 120 crore had been earmarked for the first stretch. The highway would be constructed till the Wagah border, with the total length being 120 km.

Mr Bajwa claimed that contrary to reports, his department was undertaking the construction of six out of the 18 new corridors which were being taken up in the state. He said these corridors would touch major districts. “The responsibility for planning the 12 highways was given to the PIDB with my consent,” he said, adding that this was done as the PWD did not have the financial strength to execute the entire project.

He said projects worth Rs 150 crore were being taken up. Out of this, projects worth Rs 50 crore were being taken up through the Central Road Fund and another Rs 50 crore from the Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojna.


Punjabi music album released
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 19
“Creation of quality music is possible even within the ambit and limits of Punjabi culture”, says Sukhnain, a Punjabi pop and folk singer. Addressing a press conference here yesterday, at the formal release of his album ‘Lachhi’ Sukhnain, said, “Punjabis all over the world have started discarding the unnecessary clamour, which, is being dished out in the name of Punjabi music. 

The success of “Lachhi” and of two or three other cassettes with traditional and true Punjabi tinge has been an example that the era of vulgarity is about to an end and I am amazed that in the contemporary era of West oriented music, people have widely accepted the change.”

Mr Munish Goyal, MD of the Goyal Music Company which has released “Lachhi”, was also present.

Others who were present included Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, Mr Pargat Singh Grewal, chairman and president of the Prof Mohan Singh Foundation, Ustaad Mohan Malsiyani, a veteran AIR artist, Mr Harmohal Singh and Dr Amar Iqbal.


Conference on endoscopic surgery in New York
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Gall bladder with stones having pus, infections , liver with cirrhosis and pancreatitis now can be operated upon safely laparoscopically with a low conversion rate to open surgery, says Dr Kuldip Singh, a Ludhiana-based pioneer in laparoscopic surgery and president-elect of the Indian Association of Endoscopic Surgery.

Dr Kuldip Singh has been invited to present his experiences and newer technical modifications to deal with such difficult gall bladder cases at the 11th International Conference on Endoscopic Surgery in New York from September 29 to October 2.

He will make the presentation on two topics: “Technical modifications and newer approach to tackle difficult cases during laparoscopy” and “How to make laparoscopic gall bladder surgery safe and successful”.

According to Dr Kuldip Singh, in the beginning of laparoscopic surgery in 1989, difficult gall bladder cases were not operated upon by the laparoscopic method because of the technical difficulties and complications, and more than 50 per cent of the cases were converted to open surgery.

He elaborated that whenever there was an infection or pus in the gall bladder or the liver was not in a good condition, the dissection and separation of the gall bladder from the common bile duct and liver was difficult. There could be serious complications if the surgeon took up the cases without planning and having much experience.

The technical modifications which he has innovated through his long experience like using water jet dissection, using peanut gauge, harmonic scalpel, injecting saline solution in the fibrosed areas which make the dissection and separation of tissue easy.

He also advocates reverse posterior dissection which helps in making surgery safe and more successful.

With these technical modifications, one can manage almost all difficult gall bladder cases through laparoscopy with very low conversion rate of 1 per cent to 2 per cent and negligible bile duct complications. He says at international conferences, surgeons get an opportunity to see video recordings of very difficult and bad gall bladders being operated upon in developing countries like India and Pakistan.


Ludkan Baba’s roll stops at Wagah
Pawan Kumar

Wagah, September 18
Baba Mohan Das, also known as Ludkan Baba (rolling saint), today urged the Pakistan President, Gen Parvez Musharraf, to grant him permission to visit Nankana Sahib in Pakistan so that he could complete his yatra.

He stopped his yatra at Wagah joint check-post and urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to grant him visa and necessary documents.

Ludkan Baba, who kicked off his journey to promote peace between India and Pakistan on January 28 from Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh), reached Wagah today after rolling over more than 2,500 km.

He was to complete his journey at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace Guru Nanak Dev who spread the message of peace, harmony and unity amongst people.

Baba Mohan Das, while talking to The Tribune, said he would wait for four days at the border village.

In case the governments failed to grant him permission, he would return and try to get the permission and requisite documents.

He said as soon as he was given the green signal to visit the historic gurdwara, he would resume the journey from the check-post again.

The baba has already covered 30,000 km from Ratlam to Vaishno Devi, Ayodhya and even London and recorded his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.

This is his fourth expedition, which has enhanced his record by 2,500 km, making it almost unbeatable by any other.

He rued that the even a number of assurances, political leaders and the government had failed to issue him visa for his cause of spreading message of peace, welfare of humanity and national integrity.

He said the government had failed to issue him passport even though he had applied for visa way before the commencement of his yatra.

Ashok Pariyal, one of his assistants, said he had met various authorities concerned and ministers on the issue.

He added that the baba had written a number of letters to political leaders and visited them personally. However, they expressed their inability, as Pakistan Government had not given its nod 
to his visit.


Malwa Gramin Bank to computerise its branches
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 19
All 41 branches of Malwa Gramin Bank (MGB), spread over three districts i.e. Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib, will be computerised by the end of February 2005. At present, no branch of the MGB, a sponsored bank of State Bank of Patiala (SBoP), is computerised.

Mr M.K. Rastogi, Deputy General Manager, Regional Rural Banks (RRB), SBoP, while presiding over a meeting of branch managers of all branches of the bank here on Thursday, said process for computerisation of all branches had already been initiated. The meeting was organised to discuss ways and means to maximise rural credit (rural loans), as desired by the Government of India.

He said instead of 40 per cent increase in the rural credit in the current financial year, the bank should achieve 100 per cent growth. He said the Vikas Volunteer Vahini Clubs, popularly known as Kisan Clubs, would be formed in a big way to enlighten the farmer community about the schemes of the bank.

He also emphasised the formation of self-help groups for the upliftment of poor and the downtrodden. He regretted that though a large number of schemes for farmers were being introduced by the banks, but due to lack of awareness among the people, these did not yield fruitful results.


Security beefed up in Batala
Our Correspondent

Batala, September 19
The police has made elaborate security arrangements to check any untoward incident during the celebrations of the marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev that falls on September 21. The occasion is popularly known as “Babe Da Viah”.

Mr Ram Singh, chief of the Batala police district, said the city had been divided into seven sectors. The security arrangements in these districts would be supervised by officials of the rank of Inspector, he added.


Patiala chapter of rights panel opened
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 19
The local chapter of the All-India Human Rights Association was inaugurated by the SSP, Mr A.S Rai, at a simple ceremony organised at the State Languages Department auditorium here today. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Rai appealed to the citizens to cooperate with the police in curbing the crime. He also emphasised on the growing need of community policing.

Mr Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Additional Deputy Commissioner, who was the guest of honour, referred to the changing role of NGOs keeping in view the demands of the modern society. Mr Hawa Singh, state President of the AIHRA, said a human rights awareness rally would be held at Patiala on October 6.

He appointed Col Bishan Dass as the president of the Patiala unit of the association. Prominent among those present on the occasion were Prof R.C Sharma. He also delivered a lecture on ‘The Evolution of the Concept of Human Rights in India’. Dr Rajeev Aggarwal, orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Sudesh Verma, Chief Manager, State Bank of Patiala and Mr Ujagar Singh, DPRO, Patiala were also present on the occasion.


Showroom gutted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 19
A devastating fire broke out in the Sanyo showroom located on the first floor, in the Hall Bazaar area in the heart of the city here today.

However, no casualty was reported so far.

According to reports, seven fire engines were pressed into service to douse the fire that started at about 5.30 pm.


Crops in 59,000 acres destroyed in floods, says report
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 19
As per the special girdawari which was conducted from August 20 to September 5 in the district to assess the damage suffered by farmers owing to floods inundating the area on August 1 and 2, standing crops in 58,234 acres were reportedly affected in Patiala district.

Giving details, the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Tejveer Singh, stated here on Thursday that crops in 312 villages of the district were reported to have been damaged, of which maximum loss in 28,689 acres was reported from Patiala sub-division. Samana sub-division reported crop damage in 18,050 acres, Rajpura sub-division in 9,082 acres while Dera Bassi sub-division in 2,413 acres.

He added that 12,392 houses were also reportedly damaged, partially or fully, on account of the floods. He stated that 396 cattle and other animals were reported to have perished during the floods. The Deputy Commissioner informed that extensive loss to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and buildings, had been caused by the floods and the same had been assessed by government agencies to the tune of Rs 53 crore.

Mr Tejveer Singh said ironically while over 58,000 acres of area under crops had been damaged due to floods, 20,417 acres, which had been under cultivation in the last Kharif season, were reported as unsown during the special girdawari on account of the earlier drought and delay in rains in Rajpura sub-division of the district.


Farmers asked to cultivate Hyola mustard
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 19
A seminar to encourage the cultivation of Hyola mustard seed was organised by the Solvent Exractors Association, Punjab, in collaboration with the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation in the local grain market here on Thursday.

Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, was the chief guest. A large number of farmers and arhtiyas of the area participated.

While seeking on the occasion, Mr Hussan Lal advised the farmers to diversify from wheat and cultivate Hyola mustard seed as it was more remunerative.

He assured the farmers that the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation would procure Hyola mustard seed at the minimum support price of Rs 1,600 per quintal in case the open market price fell below the MSP.

Dr Indu Malhotra, SDM, Malerkotla, also assured the farmers of full cooperation in marketing their produce.

Mr A.R. Sharma, president of the Solvent Extractors Association, Punjab, hoped that in view of conductive government policies, supportive international price scenario and the growing demand for erucic acid-free mustard oil, the cultivation of Hyola mustard seed had a bright future.

Mr Rattan Mittal, District Manager, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation, shared his last year’s experience of cultivation of Hyola mustard seed by some farmers in the district. He said the farmers were satisfied with the yield and returns of one seed.

Mr S.P. Rao and Mr Vivek Sharma, representatives of Advanta (India) Limited, provided guidance to the farmers regarding one cultivation techniques for Hyola.


Man booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 19
A person has been booked for duping a Jalalabad East resident of Rs 3 lakh under the pretext of sending him abroad.

Sources said Sukhmandar Singh of Fatehpur Kania had taken Rs 3 lakh from Jasbir Singh for sending him to Australia, but had instead sent him to Malaysia. Jasbir got arrested in Malaysia from where he was recently deported.

On the basis of his statement, the police has registered a case against Sukhmandar Singh under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC.


Drama festival, painting workshop conclude
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 19
Two major events, the Sheikh Farid Punjabi Drama Festival and a state-level painting workshop, organised as part of Baba Farid Mela came to an end yesterday. The Major Ajaib Singh Memorial College for Women, Jeuanwala, won the first prize in the drama festival for ‘Sirjna’.

The Sirjna Art Group, Raikot, bagged the second prize for its drama, ‘Neero di Bansuri’, based on Indo-Pak friendship.

The third prize went to SD College, Barnala, for ‘Ret Dia Kandha’.

The winning groups took home cash awards of Rs 10,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 2,000, respectively, besides trophies.

Kirti Kirpal got the best director award for ‘Sirjna’, while Rajinder Kaur bagged the best child artiste award for her role in ‘Ret Dia Kandha’.

Anil Sanori won the best artiste award for his part in ‘Chhipan to Pahila’ and Aman Manchanda got the best female artiste award for her performance in ‘Armana di Kabar’.

Commissioner B. Sarkar, who was the chief guest, gave away the awards to the winners.

Addressing the gathering at the closing ceremony, Drama Festival Committee chief Prof Dalbir Singh said 14 dramas were staged during the four-day festival.

Mr Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Prof Sukhjinder Singh and Prof Ranbir Singh were the judges for the drama contest.

Deshraj Sharma and Jasbir Jassi compered the proceedings of the festival.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Darshan Singh Garewal, SDM Mohan Lal, Municipal Council President Gurcharan Singh and others were also present at the closing ceremony of the drama festival.

Earlier, all paintings and sculptures created during the four-day painting workshop were put on display at Amar Ashram.

Speaking on the occasion, Red Cross Chairperson Varsha Shekhar said these creations would not only show the right path to society, but also inspire the budding artists.

Mementoes were also presented to the artists who participated in the workshop.

District Education Officer Sukhmandar Kaur Brar, Red Cross secretary Gurdial Singh and other dignitaries were also present.


Punjabi varsity expels 3 students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 19
An inquiry committee constituted by Punjabi University’s Vice-Chancellor to probe an incident of violence in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Hall on September 2 has expelled three students from the varsity and banned their entry in the campus.

The committee has found Gurnam Singh of Department of Social Work, Sukhjit Singh of Department of Law, Kartar Singh, a student of MA (Urdu), guilty of indiscipline, hooliganism and an armed attack on students of Physical Education. They had been punished in a number of cases earlier also.

The university authorities said it had also taken srious note of the ongoing agitation by ‘colleagues’ of these students. The authorities had accepted all genuine demands of the students which include complete withdrawal of late fees, abrogation of discrepancy fee for regular students and other demands pertaining to hostel facilities.

The authorities said two new hostels for students would be inaugurated on September 24.

In the light of these facts they considers that the agitation is unjustified and uncalled for. The agitators have some other political motives instead of demands and grievances of students. In the name of demands the leadership is trying to justify indiscipline and hooliganism on the university campus.

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