P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CBI chargesheets MLA’s kin in Dhakki Sahib row
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
The much-awaited charge sheet by the CBI into the 5-year-old Dhakki Sahib controversy has indicted the sister and two nephews of the sitting MLA and former Punjab Cabinet Minister, Jagdish Singh Garcha for damaging the dera and forcibly evicting the dera head, Baba Darshan Singh from the dera.

The CBI has, however, reduced the number of accused to less than 60 from 91 persons listed earlier. Evidence was found against only 29 of the 91 persons listed in the case by the Punjab Police. About 30 more accused were found involved in the case by the CBI. The charge sheets notes that the Payal police reached the dera site after more than an hour after the incident.

According to a copy of the charge sheet filed in a local court by the CBI, Amar Kaur, former sarpanch of Maksudra village and sister of Mr Garcha had led the mob of over 100 persons in ransacking the dera on December 2, 1999. The attack on the dera had become a major politico-religious controversy. It was seen as the direct fallout of the parting of ways between SAD President and then Chief Minister, Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal and late Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Baba Darshan Singh head of the dera was close to Mr Tohra.

Amar Kaur has already been declared a proclaimed offender in the case by a local court. She allegedly managed to elude arrest during the SAD-BJP government in the state.

Investigation in the case was handed over to the CBI by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2002 at the instance of the International Human Rights Organisation and its Women's wing that had filed a petition on the basis of a Full Bench order of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC). The Commission had accepted the report of its then ADGP, A P Bhatnagar. The case was, however, referred to the CBI after much dilly-dallying.

Commenting on the charge sheet IHRO chairperson D.S. Gill, Secretary- General Mohinder Singh Grewal and Secretary{public relations) Ms Inderjit Kaur, Jatha Dhakki Sahib sewadars Bhai Gurdeep Singh and Bhai Zora Singh said, "The attack (on Dhakki Sahib) was well planned in a bid to chase away Baba Darshan Singh and his followers and to occupy the Dhakki Sahib's land at the instance of former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha and the local MLA, now late Sahdu Singh Ghudani ."

According to the CBI charge sheet, about 100-150 villagers armed with kirpans, lathis, kerosene,etc. attacked Dhakki Sahib under the leadership of Amar Kaur, sister of Jagdish Garcha, the then sarpanch of the village. The mob included two nephews of Garcha, Billu and jaggu and their supporters- Bhagwant Singh, allegedly a former militant and now an activist of the SAD (Mann), Chamkaur Singh, alias, Kaura, Amarjit Singh, alias, Kamal, Malkiat Singh and Kuldip Kaur.

"The mob was shouting, "mar do, jala do, bhaga do." They attacked sewadars and animals of the dera, set the structures/huts on fire and destroyed properties of the dera, including religious books, which were kept in a small library. Amar Kaur was armed with a kirpan in her hand and instigated the mob to drive the sewadars away within an hour, " says the charge sheet filed under Sections 436, 29, 447, 427, 429, 323, 324, 325, 148, 149and 506 of the IPC.


French Sikhs feel cheated
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
Sikhs in France claim that they have been fooled into believing that the issue of tying of turban by Sikh children in schools would be addressed to their satisfaction by the French Government. In a letter to the country’s Education Ministry they have claimed that none of the assurances given to them have been fulfilled and that Sikh children are not even being allowed to enter schools with a “keski’’ (a wraparound which does not cover either the forehead, neck or ears).

Talking to TNS over the phone Mr Sharanjit Singh Mann of the Franco Sikh Organisation said even though the French Government had during extensive negotiations agreed to allow children to wear a ‘keski’ to schools but even this was not being allowed.

Mr Mann and other French Sikhs said it was also unfortunate that their cause had been forsaken by everyone, with even India’s Minority Commission’s Chairman Tarlochan Singh saying that the issue had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction. “Wearing a ‘keski’ is not to our satisfaction but we settled on that keeping in view the need to cooperate on the issue. Now the French Ambassador to India is saying that Sikh children can wear a ‘discreet patka’. We would like to know what is a ‘discreet patka’. Making it discreet would make it a handkerchief which is what the children are being asked to wear to school”, Mr Mann said.

The Sikh community had earlier approached Mr Francois Fillon of the ministry of Education. In a letter to the Ministry the community said it had been agreed during negotiation that Sikh children would be allowed to wear an accessory allowing them to tie their hair while showing ears, face and nape. It said despite the directive Sikh children were not accepted normally in schools and had to while away their time in the canteen and remained isolated from other schoolchildren.

The letter states that the community wants its children to go to public schools in a normal manner and wanted a guarantee from the French Government regarding this.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann has claimed that the Minority Commission did not solicit any opinion from the French Sikhs before a communication from the French Ambassador, stating that the entire issue had been settled to the satisfaction of the Sikh community and that only three sikh children remained affected. Mr Mann said if this was true then the French Ambassador would not have issued a statement saying that the government had allowed wearing of a ‘discreet patka’.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had only relayed the information he had received from the French authorities and that there was no reason to disbelieve them. He said neither had any of the French Sikh organisations contacted him to dispute the claims of the French Government. Mr Tarlochan Singh also claimed he had sent copies of the letter received from the French authorities to Mr Mann and others but has not received any reply from them so far.


Amarinder in dilemma over inclusion in PSGPC panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Even as the government of Pakistan has officially declared that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, has been taken as one of the five members of the Advisory panel of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), he is reportedly in dilemma over accepting the offer .

According to Mr Izhar-ul-Hassan, Additional Secretary of the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board (PEPTB), Capt Amarinder Singh had been taken on the panel by name, while Jathedars of Akal Takht, Patna Sahib or Hazoor Sahib (both on rotation), the president of the SGPC and the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee would be its ex-officio members.

Since some radical Sikh leaders, including members of the U.K.-based Babbar Khalsa and the Dal Khalsa had also been included among the panel (from Europe), Capt Amarinder Singh might consult his advisers before giving his formal consent. Though Capt Amrinder Singh has not received any official communication from the government of Pakistan yet, he has reportedly directed his senior bureaucrats to get the same from the PSGPC .

The Government of Pakistan has, however, skipped the name of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Meanwhile, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht and Giani Iqbal Singh, and Jathedar Patna Sahib said they would discuss the matter in the forthcoming meeting of the Sikh clergy proposed for October 4.


PPSC panel postpones meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
To keep internal squabbles under wraps, the disciplinary committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) postponed its meeting scheduled to be held here yesterday.

The committee had sent show-cause notices to former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi to appear before it yesterday. They were charged for their recent activities and utterances against the party and the government.

The meeting had been called by the disciplinary committee chairperson, Mr Nasib Singh Gill. The reason for the postponement of the meeting given in the PPCC press note was that the two, Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Birmi, were busy in the two by-elections in Kapurthala and Garhshankar.

This, observers said, was only a tactical move on the part of the party so as not to upset the election campaign. Earlier this week, the visit of the in-charge Punjab affairs, Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee was postponed.


CM describes Bibi’s appointment as disgraceful
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has described as ‘disgraceful’ the appointment of Bibi Jagir Kaur as the president of the SGPC.

Talking to newspersons today, he said a person facing serious criminal charges should not have been made the president of an august organisation like the SGPC.

Taking a pot shot at the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister said this was against political ethics and values, given the role and functions of the SGPC.


Haryana SGPC members want separate committee
Tribune News Service

Amritsar September 23
The seven SGPC members from Haryana today reiterated their demand to form a separate gurdwara committee for the state .

Mr Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Mr Didar Singh Nalwi (both SGPC members from Haryana) alleged that there was total dictatorship in the SGPC as they were not allowed to present their demand for a separate gurdwara committee during the general house today . They said they would continue their struggle for the constitution of a gurdwara committee after getting the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, amended .

They added that they would support the political party during the forthcoming Assembly constituency which would help in forming separate committee for Haryana.

The Haryana SGPC members said SGPC was collecting about Rs 14 crore from 70 historic gurdwaras in Haryana . However, only Rs 20 lakhs were being on the shrines there.

Earlier, the SGPC members protested the election of Bibi Jagir Kaur as president SGPC, on the plea that a criminal case was pending against her.


SGPC wants term of its chief extended
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
The SGPC general house today urged the Central Government to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, for extending the one-year term of the President, office-bearers and executive of the committee up to two-and-a-half-years.

The resolution, passed with voice vote said the term of one year was too short. Another resolution sought an All-India gurdwara Act so that all historical gurdwaras in the country could be brought under the direct control of the SGPC.

The general house demanded a corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Kartarpur in Pakistan so that the pilgrims could pay obeisance at the Sikh shrine in Pakistan without a visa. It urged the Union Government to take up the issue of a special bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib.

The house authorised the SGPC chief to send a panel of renowned Sikh advocates for re-organisation of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.

It resolved to raise a memorial after the name of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. A memorial would also be raised in memory of innocent pilgrims massacred during Operation Bluestar.

The house decided to open at least five public schools at the primary level.

Another resolution asked the Centre to take up with the Government of Bangladesh the issue of proper maintenance of gurdwaras there.


SGPC chief appoints new PA
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
After taking over as SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur today appointed her close confidant Mr Harjit Singh, as her personal assistant by divesting Mr Raghbir Singh, secretary, of the additional charge.

Mr Kuldip Singh Bawa has been posted as superintendent, Darbar Sahib, while Mr Kashmir Singh Patti would be new in charge of the establishment.

Mr Raghbir Singh, a close confidant of the outgoing working president Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, has been in the news due to a number of controversial transfers, postings and promotions in gross violation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act.

According to highly placed sources close to Bibi Jagir Kaur, a major reshuffle in the SGPC is likely to take place in the coming days.


SGPC won’t stop jathas to Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, today announced that she won’t stop Sikh jathas from visiting Pakistan like in the year 1999. Earlier, the SGPC had stopped sending jathas to Pakistan in protest against the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in 1999.

However, she said that she would consider the proposal of the Government of Pakistan to include the names of the SGPC chief in the 15-member advisory committee in the forthcoming meeting of the executive body.


Ahluwalia educational adviser to SGPC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Eminent Sikh scholar Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia has been appointed honorary educational adviser to the SGPC, particularly for the project of establishing Sri Guru Granth Sahib world university.


4 nominations rejected
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur September, 23
Out of the 18 candidates, nomination papers of four covering candidates viz Bimla Devi (BSP), Raghunath Singh (CPM), Renu Bala (INC) and Tarsem Singh (CPI) have been rejected during the scrutiny by Mr Kulbir Singh, Sub-Divisional Magistrate cum Returning Officer for by-election of Garhshanker segment of the state Assembly today.

There are 14 candidates in the election fray now.


CPM won’t bow on Garhshankar issue, says Surjeet
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
Satirising the Congress step to put up its own candidate for the Garhshankar Assembly seat, CPM supremo Harkishen Singh Surjeet today said his party would not bow on the issue of Garhshankar candidate.

Mr Surjeet, who was accompanied by his son, Gurchetan Singh, and who addressed a function organised in memory of Com Piara Singh at Jandiala Manjki village in this district, today said since the CPM had already put up its candidate, it was unfortunate that despite knowing this the Congress also announced its candidate for Garhshankar. “We won’t bow as our party had always been fetching more votes. How they can do this?” questioned Mr Surjeet.

Referring to the move of privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Surjeet lamented that the government had slapped its decision and such a step should not have been taken. “Our party will go through the move and then take its own decision,” said Mr Surjeet.

Advocating the need to discourage fundamentalist forces in the country, Mr Surjeet said such forces were out to disturb the secular outlook of the country. “India is a secular country and its secular structure needs to be saved from such forces,” he asserted. He was handed over a memorandum by brick-kiln owners who demanded that they should not be forced to lift flyash generated by thermal plants.

Addressing the function, veteran freedom fighter Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga alleged that by raking up the flag issue, Ms Uma Bharti was instigating youngsters. “Her yatra is aimed at instigating people and people should try to probe the truth. Freedom fighters like Shaheed Bhagat Singh upheld the honour of the Tricolour by sacrificing their lives,” said Baba Bilga.

Mr Gurvinder Singh Atwal, the area MLA, exhorted people to come forward and oppose the Communalist forces. “We should oppose those who have double standards,” said Mr Atwal.

District Congress Committee (Rural) chief Baba Rajinder Singh Johal, and farmer leader Lehmbar Singh Taggar also addressed the gathering.


8-member jatha leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
An eight-member ‘jatha’ of the Baba Bhuman Shah Sewa Sabha, headed by Mahant Baba Brahm Dass, left for Pakistan after offering prayers at the Golden Temple here in the morning. The followers of the sect would pay obeisance at the ‘dera’ of Baba Bhuman Shah, located at Behlolpur village, Okara district, Pakistan, first time after Partition.

It was yet another instance of improving Indo-Pak relations as the Pakistan Government permitted members of the Haryana-based sabha to visit shrines there. They were never granted permission earlier by the Pakistan Government, said Mahant Brahm Dass.

He said Baba Bhuman Shah was born at Behlolpur village in 1687. A tale has it that Muslim rulers of that time donated him a ‘jagir’ of more than 15,000 acre after a prolong discussion on theological matter. The land was converted into a ‘dera’.

He said they had come to know from persons of their sect in Pakistan, who visited India six months back, that the ‘dera’ was in a shamble and needed repair.

Mr Mohinder Singh Mianwal, a member of the ‘jatha’, said around 15 lakh followers of the sect resided in the areas of Ferozepore, Fazilka, Abohar, Malot, Sirsa and Ganganagar and the same number of disciples lived in Pakistan.

The ‘jatha’ would present their demands to the appropriate authority there, he said. Mr Arif Chowdhury, vice-president the Bar Council of Supreme Court of Pakistan, was helping them in the task, he added.


Delegation of Indian jurists crosses over to Pak
Our Correspondent

Wagah, September 23
A 16-member delegation of Indian jurists, including retired judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts of Kolkata, Mumbai, Dehli and Punjab and Haryana, and elected representatives of the Indian Bar Council, today crossed over to Pakistan on a six-day goodwill mission to strengthen ties on the legal front, under the auspices of the Indian Council of Jurists and the All-India Bar Association.

The Indian jurists would hold meetings with their Pakistani counterparts, including the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, law ministers of Pakistan, the Attorney General of Pakistan, and the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court to discuss international law on terrorism, emerging trends in international law, entry of foreign lawyers and common problems being faced by the jurists and legal practitioners in dispensation of cases in both the countries.

The delegation would also meet Gen Pervez Musharraf, President, and current and former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, the Chief Minister of western Punjab, apart from holding discussions with representatives of different sections of society.

Justice Faizan-Ud-Din, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, talking to The Tribune, said that the delegation would endeavour to make more cordial atmosphere for talks on the legal front. He said the judges and members of the Bar Council would see to it that what could they do to remove barriers erected by political leaders. He said they would discuss various problems being faced by the judicial systems of both countries, including dispensation of a large number of pending cases in various courts, corruption, etc, which had special mention in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the third conference of Chief Justices and the Chief Ministers in New Delhi. He said the delegation would discuss whether there is need to amend the laws with the changing scenario in both countries so that more and more people could be benefitted by it.

Mr Adish Agarwal, leader of the delegation, said that they were going to bring the hearts of people of two countries together. He said that the delegation was visiting Pakistan on the invitation of the Bar Council of Pakistan.

The delegation was received by members of the Pakistan Bar council at Wagah joint checkpost. The delegation would visit Gah village (Lahore), the birthplace of Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

On September 25, the delegation would visit Islamabad. A dinner meeting will be held with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Indian jurists would call on President Gen Musharraf on September 26.


Paddy procurement from October 1

Ludhiana, September 23
Punjab is all set to start procurement of paddy from October1.The official procuring agencies, including the FCI and state agencies, are fully geared to cope with the rush of paddy arrivals.

Paddy has already started arriving in the mandis of the border districts of the state--- Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur.Besides, some quantity of paddy has been received in Patiala district. The mandis in these districts received as many as 4.40 lakh tonnes of paddy till September 19 against 1.43 lakh tonnes during the corresponding period of the last year. The entire paddy arrivals in the mandis are being purchased by rice millers, and the official purchase would start from October 1. The prices in the mandis at present range from Rs 350 to Rs 710 per quintal . The minimum support price for the common variety of paddy has been fixed at Rs 560 per quintal, while for A grade paddy it is Rs 590 per quintal. PR 11 variety of paddy is fetching a good price of more than Rs 600 per quintal. The FCI would procure 25 per cent of the total arrivals in the mandis. Markfed expects to purchase 20 per cent, Pungrain 15 per cent, Punsup 20 per cent, Punjab Warehousing Corporation 12 per cent and Punjab Agrofoodgrains Corporation 8 per cent, respectively.

The procuring agencies have fixed the target of procuring 110 lakh tonnes of paddy this year. The state is expected to have a production of 135 lakh tonnes of paddy this year despite a fall in the area under this crop from 26.10 lakh hectares to 25.30 lakh hectares.

Despite drought-like conditions, the crop condition is good and the same is free from any disease. However, the farmers had to spend a huge amount of money on diesel to irrigate paddy through tubewells, as a result of which the cost of production has gone up this year. The total arrivals in the mandis last year were to the tune of 135 lakh tonnes. Out of this, the procuring agencies had purchased 99 lakh tonnes of paddy while the rice millers purchased 36 lakh tonnes. This year again the rice millers are likely to enter the markets in a big way. The government has set up 1453 purchase centres in the state.

The official agencies were facing the problem of shortage of gunnybags as the BIS had changed some specifications. But the implementation of the new specifications has been postponed in view of the arrivals of paddy and the shortage has been tided over, claim officials of the state Food Supplies Department.


Heart surgery on 8-month-old
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar September 23
Doctors at the local BBC Heart Care Hospital, have virtually given another chance of life to an eight- month- old baby girl Priya by conducting a surgery to correct her congenital heart disorder involving connection between two great arteries of her heart.

The same team of doctors at the hospital had conducted a successful heart surgery on a 90- year- old person Ajaib Singh last week and both events, according to the hospital management, have taken place for the first time in the region.

Dr. C.S. Pruthi, Managing Director of the BBC Heart Care Hospital said, Priya, the eight- month- old daughter of Kuldeep Kumar, a resident of Sarai Khas village near Kartarpur, was having recurrent chest infection and her medical examination at the hospital revealed that it was due to congenital heart disease caused by an unusual connection between two major arteries of her heart.

Since Priya had come to the hospital with symptoms of heart failure, the situation was first brought under control with medicines. Later it was decided to conduct a full- fledged heart surgery to correct the disorder.

“Such a connection leads to shunting of blood from the left to the right side of the heart and in the process circulation of blood to vital organs of the body is affected. In this case, the connection was leading to excessive blood flow to lungs at a high pressure and this was resulting in symptoms like breathlessness, recurrent lung infection leading to pneumonia and retardation of growth. If left uncorrected, later in life it can lead to permanent lung damage,” said Dr. Sushant Srivastava, chief cardiac surgeon of the hospital, adding the child had made a remarkable recovery.

According to Dr. Srivastava, with the advancement in the techniques of cardiac surgery, hope could be offered both to very young patients with congenital defects of heart and to the very old with coronary heart disease or degenerative diseases of heart valves.


MC to recommend suspension of Town Planner
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
The Patiala Municipal Corporation has decided to recommend the suspension of its Municipal Town Planner (MTP) after a two-man committee, headed by the Senior Deputy Mayor, today submitted a report affirming allegations that the officer had demanded and accepted a bribe of Rs 20,000 from a shopkeeper of the city.

According to the report, the MTP, Mr S S Bhatia, had threatened a trader, Mr Vikas Modgil, who had constructed a shop on the Lower Mall, that the shop would be demolished if he did not pay a bribe of Rs 20,000 to him. The committee comprising Senior Deputy Mayor Kabir Das and Health Officer Karamjit Singh, in their report to Mayor Vishnu Sharma, upheld the allegation.

The matter of the MTP demanding a bribe from a shopkeeper was raised at the general house meeting of the corporation on September 10. After the matter was raised Mayor Vishnu Sharma deputed a two-member committee to look into the issue after the complainant had submitted an affidavit to substantiate his allegations.

The committee has also indicted a corporation employee, Ms Vijay Sharma, who is employed as a clerk. According to the committee, Ms Sharma had acted as a go-between in the case and had facilitated the paying of the bribe to the MTP.

The committee claimed that one Subhash Sharma, an associate of the shopkeeper, was also present when the bribe money was paid to the MTP in the presence of Ms Sharma.


Forensic examination finds “Mujra” photos fake
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar September 23
The case concerning IPS officer Varinder Kumar and Dr Gurvinder Samra took a new turn today with the Chandigarh based forensic laboratory concluding that the controversial photo, circulated by Dr Samra, in which Mr Varinder was shown as doing a “Mujra”, was in fact, a fake.

The conclusion of laboratory has come after the photos circulated by Mr Samra, their negatives and the original photos put forth by Mr Varinder Kumar, were subjected to a detailed examination by forensic experts.

The opinion of forensic experts that the “Mujra” photos were fake would prove to be a major relief for Mr Varinder Kumar, who was subjected to allegations by Dr Samra that Mr Varinder was very “close” to him earlier and had even not only participated in a “Mujra” party, but had also danced with a dancer.

After the allegations, Mr Varinder Kumar, had broken his long silence and had asserted that the allegations against him were baseless and neither did he have any relations with Dr Samra nor had he danced at any party organised by him. Dr Samra was arrested about a month ago by the Jalandhar police on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mr Varinder Kumar. During investigation, the Jalandhar police had also found that the registration numbers of two cars of Dr Samra — one Mercedes and one Pajero — were fake and loans were arranged for purhase of these two cars from the ICICI bank on the basis of these allegedly fake documents. One of the vehicles was recovered by the police last week from a Jalandhar village and the other was recovered from Delhi on the basis of two old complaints by the bank.

Talking to The Tribune, Inspector Jagjit Singh, chief of the economic offences wing of Jalandhar police, said the material was sent for forensic examination on August 14 and the EOW had received the report from the director of the forensic laboratory today.

He said the police had already arrested Mr Shanta Nand, owner of a photo studio in Rajendra Nagar in New Delhi, who had allegedly fudged the photo of Mr Varinder Kumar with the help of a computer after taking an amount of Rs 2500 from Dr Samra.


Mini-bus operators’ plea to govt
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 23
The Punjab Mini-Bus Operators Association has presented a charter of demands to Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, general secretary, CPM, for onward submission to Ms Sonia Gandhi, for the settlement of genuine demands of the mini bus operators in the state.

A deputation of the association led by Mr Charan Singh Dhami, chief patron, and Mr Harinder Sharma, state president of the association, submitted the memorandum to Mr Surjeet at Garhshanker on Wednesday, where the CPM leader had come to mobilise support for Mr Mahan Singh Rouri, in the ensuing Assembly poll.

Interestingly, the CM, Captain Amarinder Singh, along with a number of Cabinet Ministers was also in Garhshanker on Wednesday for filing the nomination papers of the Congress nominee, Mr Luv Kumar Goldy.

The mini bus operators in the state are sore over the hike in taxes from Rs 9,000 to Rs 40,000 per annum over the past few years. Mr Harinder Sharma and Mr Surjit Singh Soeta say that the scheme was launched by the late Prime Minister, Ms Indira Gandhi, under the 20-point programme for providing self employment to educated youth, ex-servicemen and economically weaker sections.

In 1985, the Punjab Government also included riot victims. The bus operators have urged the government to decrease the taxes. Besides, they have demanded a long-term policy for granting route permits, fixation of length of routes at 35 km and waiving the condition of municipal limits in the area of operation.


Arms holders to get licences within 15 days
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 23
More than 15,000 Firearm Licence holders in Ferozepore district, who were moving from pillar to post for the renewal of their licences, heaved a sigh of relief as the district administration initiated measures to complete the process within 15 days.

Mr Rahul Tiwari, ADM, who is looking after the LPC branch dealing with the renewal and issuing of firearm licences, stated that 7,000 firearm licences which could not be renewed earlier due to the ongoing CBI enquiry into the Arms Licence scandal, will be renewed within 15 days. He said to expedite the process the entire record of the LPC branch was being computerised.

Mr Tiwari said two special counters had been opened at the DC office complex to avoid rush. He revealed that in order to avoid any future complication and to streamline the system, a personalised computer identification code (CIN) was being allotted to every arms licence holder.

Mr Tiwari added that the arms licences made during the period starting September 1, 1998, and ending to February 28,2001, were not being renewed as all those cases were under the scrutiny of the CBI.

Though the fate of the inquiry being conducted by the CBI is still unknown, it has been learnt that it would take another six months to complete it.


India to top in HIV cases by 2015
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
India would be having the largest number of AIDS/HIV cases and would acquire the number one position in the world by 2015 if the spreading of the disease continues at the same rate.

While disclosing this, Mr Narinder Kumar, a social activist, in his keynote address delivered at a seminar on awareness on AIDS/HIV by the Ambuja Cement Foundation, a non-government organisation (NGO), here late last evening, said the first case of HIV in India was detected in Chennai about 18 years ago and presently the population of persons infected with the virus had gone up to five millions.

He pointed out that nearly 82.6 per cent had been infected with AIDS/HIV due to unsafe sex, 1.8 per cent from parents, 4 per cent from blood transfusions and the rest 4.2 per cent due to use of intravenous drugs.

Mr Chanchal Kumar, assistant vice-president, Gujarat Ambuja Cement Limited, Bathinda, said foundation had taken AIDS/HIV awareness as the main agenda of corporate social responsibility.

Mr S. K. Kalra, assistant General Manager, Punjab National Bank, who was the chief guest, said all people should made efforts to check the spread of this disease.


PUDA move puts residents in spot
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 23
Panic prevails among the residents and plot-holders of Baba Jujhar Singh Nagar situated near Barnala Gate as the colony falls within the land proposed to be acquired by PUDA for setting up an urban estate.

They have constituted Baba Jujhar Singh Nagar Welfare Association to press the state government to drop the acquisition proposal.

The association urged Chief Minister Capt, Amarinder Singh to regularise colony as done in case of those at Kharar, Zirakpur, Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar and Bathinda.

Mr Dilbagh Singh Pabla, Mr Joginder Singh and Mr Chaman Lal Jassi, president, secretary and press secretary of the newly constituted association, the affected residents had met Mr Vikash Garg, Additional Chief Administrator-cum Land Acquisition Collector, PUDA, Jalandhar, to make a representation in this regard.

The residents have pleaded that the proposed acquisition of Baba Jujhar Singh Nagar was against established practice and norms of the PUDA as the survey for acquisition of land was conducted at three or four locations in 1999 and since they PUDA had neither notified its internation or issued official caution to the public regarding the choice of location for the proposed PUDA colony.

Baba Jujhar Singh Nagar consisting of 100 residential plots, was established by a private coloniser and about 80 per cent of the area had been constructed. The occupants had spent their life saving on their houses.


Action sought against travel agents
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
Defrauded by fake travel agents, Gurdip Singh, a resident of Kotkapura, died in the mountains of Turkey more than a year ago. However, his family was not informed of the death.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, in a press statement, said Tari, one of the associates of accused agents in the area, had confessed to a senior police official that Gurdip Singh, whom they had taken to Greece, was killed when he fell from a mountain in Turkey.

Mr Bhullar said the agents, Shamsher Singh and Pappu, both brothers, who were in Greece, kept the family of Gurdip Singh in the dark about the incident. He urged the state government to help the family in distress. He also urged the ministries concerned to take stern action against the unscrupulous travel agents.


Playwright Gursharan Singh gets Bhagat Puran award
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 23
Noted playwright Gursharan Singh was awarded Bhagat Puran Award for Service to Humanity, while IPS officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh received Baba Farid Award for Honesty at Gurdwara Godri Sahib here today.

Both awards instituted by Gurdwara Godri Sahib Baba Farid Society carry Rs 51,000, a citation and shawl. Rai Aziz Ullah Khan and Mia Aslam Godhla, both members of parliament from Pakistan, were also present at the award ceremony. Though Gursharan Singh could not make it to the Gurdwara, he was later given the award at Baba Farid Law College.

Addressing a gathering after receiving the award, Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said he would continue his work. He said he had worked under police officials like J.F. Rebeiro and a lot of credit for the award goes to people like him.

Gursharan Singh is a prolific writer and has penned 113 plays, besides 17 books.

Earlier, a nagar kirtan was organised. Langars and chhabeels dotted the path of the nagar kirtan that started from Baba Tilla Farid and culminated at Gurdwara Godri Sahib.

Last night a kirtan darbar was held at Gurdwara Godri Sahib.

A kavi darbar was also held at Darbar Ganj Complex last night in which poets from different parts of the state participated. Rai Aziz Ullah Khan was the special guest while the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, was the chief guest of the function. Punjabi poets including Rabinder Masroor, Barjinder Chauhan and Prof Pal Singh took part in it.


Aggarwal Sabha seeks funds
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 23
The Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab, headed by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Punjab Minister, has demanded sufficient grants from the Punjab Government for the installation of statues of Maharaja Aggarsain at all district and subdivisional headquarters in the state.

Talking to TNS last night, Mr Garg also asked the state government to allot space on chowks at the district and subdivisional headquarters to install the statues.

Mr Garg visited the town last night in connection with a state-level function of the sabha on October 3 at Malerkotla. The function is being organised in connection with the Maharaja Aggarsain Jayanti.

Mr Garg also asked the state government to give the sabha a 1,000 yards’ plot at Mohali for the construction of a bhavan there. He said the plot had been allotted to the sabha by the state government some years ago, but PUDA had ordered the cancellation of the same some months ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Lovlesh Kumar Singla, president of the local unit of the Aggarwal Sabha, said the local unit would celebrate Maharaja Aggarsain Jayanti on October 15 in the town.


High Court
Order quashed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 23
A Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and J.S. Narang has allowed the petition of a female JBT teacher of Punjab, seeking quashing of the order issued by the Punjab Government terminating her service.

The petitioner, Ms Malinder Kaur, who passed the diploma in teaching from Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur, in 1985, was selected as JBT teacher in 1995.

On January 15, 2004, she received a letter from the Education Department informing her that her services had been terminated as her diploma was not recognised by the Punjab Government.

In her petition, she said that the Punjab Government had recognised the courses, including the one she had done, conducted by the Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur, and the decision to terminate her service was illegal.

In its order, the Bench quashed the termination order and also directed the respondents to grant relief to the petitioner within three months of the receipt of the order.

The court said that the petitioner was entitled to all appointment, continuity in service and fiscal benefits without any break.


Badal denies news reports
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 23
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal today denied news reports saying that the Supreme Court had yesterday refused to stay the trial proceedings in the disproportionate assets case.

Claiming that the reports were baseless, factually incorrect and also politically motivated, Mr Badal said that by getting such news reports published, the Punjab Government wanted to mislead the public.

He said the Supreme Court had fixed October 1 as the date of hearing in the SLP filed by him.


Inside Babudom
Cop divested of important charge
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The cop who made so many bureaucrats and police officers red with anger by regulating the use of beckon lights is no more in the driver's seat.

In less than a fortnight after he passed an order directing top cops and senior government officers to remove red lights from atop their vehicles, the charge has been taken away from him.

The sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters reveal that Inspector-General of Police S.K. Sharma has now been asked to take care of the red light issue in place of Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Shashi Kant — in charge of security in the state.

The orders have taken police officers by surprise. They claim that the authority to issue permission for use of red lights and black films has always vested with ADGP (Security)

Denying the allegations of "rewarding" ADGP Shashi Kant for issuing an order that made over 150 cops and bureaucrats hot under their collars, senior Punjab Police officers claim that the decision to divest him of the charge was "passed in routine".

The sources add that the recommendations of another ADGP were taken into consideration before the orders were passed by the office of Punjab's Director-General of Police.

The ADGP had earlier directed all government officers — except Additional and Principal Secretaries — to remove red blinkers from atop their vehicles.

The permission to use the lights earlier granted to them was also cancelled. All ADGPs were also asked to follow suit.

The orders were passed while complying with the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in traffic regulation and pollution control case.

In fact, the directions were issued in accordance with a notification issued by the Punjab Government. As per it, only Additional Secretaries and Principal Secretaries were entitled to use the blinkers.

The sources maintain that the police was earlier granting permission to persons unauthorised to use the blinkers without going into the details of the notification. As a result of oversight, permission was granted to more people than the "police could actually manage".

Even Chairmen of boards and corporations, besides Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members, were allowed to travel in cars with beacon lights.

Taking a serious view of the matter, orders withdrawing permission were passed by the ADGP.

Soon after issuance of orders, formal and informal meetings were held among top cops and bureaucrats to discuss the implications.

Amendments to the notification in favour of the "left out" officers were also suggested. Rather, committees and sub-committees were also formed to discuss the red light issue.


11 police officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
In a major administrative reshuffle, the Punjab Government today ordered the transfers and postings of 11 officers, including three Inspectors-General of Police (IGPs) and four Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs), with immediate effect.

The orders issued by the Department of Home Affairs and Justice says that IGP (Security) G.D. Pandey will take over as IGP, Indian Reserve Battalion. IGP (Operations) Mohd Mustafa will take over as IGP (Training). IGP (Crime) Narinder Sharma becomes IGP (Litigation).

DIG (operations and Training at Bahadurgarh) B K Garg has been transferred as DIG (Training) at Chandigarh. DIG (Training) M K Tiwari becomes DIG (Administration). DIG (Intelligence) Jagdish Kumar goes as DIG (Punjab Armed police).

DIG (Training) R L Bhagat goes as DIG (Computer and Telecommunication). SP (Computer and Telecommunication) Neerja Voruvuru takes over as Mansa Senior Superintendent of Police.

Gautam Cheema, on return from leave, has been posted as SP (Computer and Telecommunication). Assistant Commandant 27 Battalion PAP, Jalandhar, Jaskirat Singh goes SP (D), Jalandhar, in place of Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, who joins as SP (Operations), Jalandhar.


Chemists selling banned drugs to face action
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 23
The district administration would soon launch a crackdown on the chemists selling intoxicating drugs and quacks practising in rural areas. This was decided at a meeting that was held to review the law and order situation in the district here today.

Deputy Commissioner Mandeep Singh chaired the meeting. The DC asked the police, the Health Department and the SDM to prepare an action plan to check chemists selling drugs.

A panel comprising the SDM, the DSP, the SMO and the Drug Inspector would conduct raids on medical stores.

With the help of the police the panel would put a check on quacks practising in villages.

It was also decided that a meeting to review the law and order situation in the district would now be held every month. The Drug Inspector said that he had recently raided five shops and seized a large quantity of proscribed drugs.


4 cops hurt in mob attack
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 23
Tension gripped Athauli village around midnight last night when an unruly mob attacked a police party, which had gone to the village in connection with a dispute.

Four police personnel, including an ASI, were injured while the vehicle of the SHO, Sadar police station, was damaged by rowdy elements.

The police has registered a case against 32 persons — of whom 31 were arrested today — including two women, under Sections 307, 353, 447, 332, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC; and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

Ashok Sandhu, former district president, Bahujan Samaj Party, is at large.

The injured policemen who have been hospitalised were ASI Satwant Singh, Head Constable Sawinder Singh, lady constable Satpal Kaur and driver of SHO’s vehicle Surinder Singh.

Those arrested were Charno, Pushpinder, Ramji, Sandip Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Rana Ram, Mulakh Raj, Sharda Ram, Anrah, Dev Raj, Sunderpal, Ranjit Kumar, Krishan Lal, Hazara Ram, Tota Ram, Rajinder Kumar, Mandip Singh, Narinder Kumar, Ram Lal, Munish Kumar, Harmesh Lal, Harish Kumar, Gurmel Chand, Ravipal, Ganesh Kumar, Gurdev Chand, Sukhdev Singh, Balwinder Ram, Lehmber Singh, Lekh Raj, Sarvjit Kumar and Inderjit.

Tension had been brewing over the construction of a gate in the village, which boiled into a full-blown clash last night.

Joginder Kaur had procured a stay from a local court a few days ago on further construction.

She had complained that one of the pillars of the under-construction gate penetrated into the upper storey projection of her house and blocked her shop on the ground floor.

Three pillars of the gate had already been constructed. However, last night, the construction of the fourth pillar was started by the other group despite the status quo orders of the court.

Daljit Singh Raju and Joginder Kaur reported the matter to the police and produced the stay orders. When the police prevented the other group from constructing the pillar, they resisted saying that the complainant had earlier consented to the construction but was now backing out.

They asserted that it was a religious issue as the gate under construction was a “darshani deodi”, to be named “Guru Ravidas yadgari gate”.

According to the police, the group assembled in a house and refused to budge from its stand. People inside then allegedly pelted the police party with stones, resulting in injuries to four policemen.

SP(D) Gurmit Singh reached the scene to take stock of the situation. The police alleged that mob had opened fire at the police party. However, the group denied the allegation.

Meanwhile, the 31 arrested would be produced in a local court today. A manhunt has been launched to arrest Ashok Sandhu, added police sources.


Kishore Sikhiya Scheme launched in Mansa
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 23
The Kishore Sikhiya Scheme under the National Population Education Project (NPEP) started by the Centre in association with the state government has been launched in the district.

Carved out in 1992, this district, which has been facing the stigma of backwardness, has emerged as the first district of the Punjab where the Kishore Sikhiya Scheme, under which the problems of students pertaining to their physical and psychological growth during adolescence would be tackled by their teachers after developing a friendly atmosphere in their respective schools. Ludhiana is the other district which has been selected under the scheme.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that teachers posted in about 97 schools in this district are being given training from September 22 to September 26. After training two teachers from each school, one male and one female, the authorities concerned will hold an advocacy meeting in the village concerned to take consent from the head teacher, sarpanch and the Parent Teacher Association to launch the scheme in their respective schools.

Under the scheme, students from VII standard to XII standard, will be encouraged to share problems regarding their physical and psychological growth with their respective teachers, who will be training for this specific task.

The trained teachers will develop friendly atmosphere with the students and will educate them regarding problems faced during adolescence by using four types of activities, including question box activity, role play activity, value clarification and competitive events.

Under these four activities, the teachers will answer the questions of the students without disclosing their identity. Apart from this the students will be educated about the ill effects of drugs and potential threat of AIDS/HIV.

According to official sources in Mansa district, Mr Baldev Singh Sidhu and Mr Gurpreet Singh, both government teachers, have been made state resource persons. These two state resource persons have already got training in Gujarat in July 2004. These state resource persons will train the teachers further.

Sources added that about 200 teachers were being trained in connection with the execution of the Kishore Sikhiya Scheme at five places in the district. Two training courses were being conducted in the town, one at Sardulgarh, one at Budhlada and one at Bhikhi.


Pbi varsity lecturer suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
The Punjabi University has suspended a Lecturer of the department of Fine Arts today claiming the latter had withheld information that he had been removed from service as Lecturer in the Government College of Arts in Chandigarh due to his indecent behaviour with girl students.

A University press release here claimed that Mr J.S. Garcha had during his selection for the post of Lecturer in the University’s department of Fine Arts withheld information that he had been ousted from the Chandigarh College in 1991 on charges of indecent behaviour with girl students. The release said in fact Mr Garcha had presented a contrary picture before the Selection Committee which had recommended that he be given five advance increments. The release said discrepancies had also been found regarding a book “Agg Da Safar” which had been illustrated by Mr Garcha. It said during investigation of the case when Mr Garcha was asked to reproduce the same sketches as contained in the book he failed to do so. This, the release said, proved he had not illustrated them in the first place.

It claimed that the Committee which had investigated the case had found some collusion between Mr Garcha and a former student of the department.

The University had constituted a Committee comprising of Dean, Research Dr T.A. Sarma, Hindi department Head Prof Chaman Lal and Psychology department Head Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu to examine the entire case. The release said following submission of the inquiry report by the Committee Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had decided to suspend Mr Garcha and chargesheet him.


Workshop on science, technology held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 23
A function to mark “science day, technology day, and environmental awareness day” was held at Sant Harchand Singh Longowal Central Institute of Engineering and Technology at Longowal, 20 km from here, yesterday.

A workshop on the “Role of science and technology for sustainable development” was held.

Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director of the institute, stressed on promoting scientific temper in society and asked students and the faculty to come forward to make efforts in popularising science and technology among the masses.

Prof S. Chandershekher, Director, NIT, Hamirpur, stressed on the judicious use of science and technology by following the principle of sustainable consumption.

Dr S.M. Ilyas from Ludhiana said the basic purpose of science and technology was to inculcate scientific thinking in the minds of students for transforming society.

Dr P.B. Rastogi from the Ministry of Forest and Environment discussed the progress made in the area of environment-friendly technologies to check pollution.

Dr M.B. Bera, Dean, and Dr Rajesh Grover expressed their views on the topic.


Josan, Asija get warm welcome
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 23
Dr B.C. Josan, Principal, DAV College, and Dr R.P. Asija, Principal, DAV College of Education, were given a warm welcome at the DAV Campus here yesterday on their election to the Panjab University Senate from different constituencies.

Students and members of the teaching and non-teaching staff danced to the beating of drums, performing bhangra as the principals moved out of their houses in Kalpana Colony here.

They denied they belonged to any anti-establishment group as reported in a section of the Press. Both pledged to work for academic reforms.


Teachers plan protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The teachers working in non-government-aided colleges in Punjab will cease work after there second period on September 24 to protest against non-payment of salaries for a period ranging from eight months to 10 months.

This was stated by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers' Union general secretary, Dr Jagwant Singh after discussion with the president, Mr S S Hundal.


Punjab approves mega project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The Punjab empowered committee today approved a special package of incentives to the Punjab Apparel Park Ltd, Ludhiana, a joint venture of Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation and the Apparel Exporters’ Association of Ludhiana, special purpose vehicle for an apparel park at Doraha in 100 acres with an investment of Rs 355 crore, under a scheme of the Union Ministry of Textiles.

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