P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bibi ordered ‘execution’ of Harpreet, says approver
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
Dr Balwinder Singh Sohal, who had turned approver in Harpreet murder case, while testifying in a local court here today claimed that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had directed him to eliminate her daughter on April 14, 2000.

Testifying in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S.P. Bangarh, the doctor said he had been called to Jasdil Mansion in Phagwara on April 14, 2000 by Bibi’s close confidant Paramjit Singh Raipur. When he reached the mansion, Paramjit told him that Harpreet was adamant on marrying Kamaljit Singh of Begowal village which was not acceptable to Bibi Jagir Kaur.

According to Dr Sohal Paramjit also told him that Harpreet had brought disgrace to the entire family by bringing Kamaljit and his sister to Jasdil Mansion on March 10 and now they had no choice other than eliminating her. Dr Sohal said he was told that this was not only Paramjit’s decision but was also of Bibi Jagir Kaur, Nishan Singh, who was in charge of the security of Bibi Jagir Kaur and Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, a close confidant of the SGPC President.

Following this, Dr Sohal said, he was taken to the drawing room in Jasdil Mansion where Bibi Jagir Kaur was present. There Paramjit told Bibi, “I have explained to him that it is necessary to eliminate Harpreet”. Dr Sohal said when he looked at Bibi she said “there is no other option”.

Testifying in the court Dr Sohal said, when he gave another questioning look to the SGPC President she crossed and uncrossed her hands to make the message clear.

In his statement the doctor said before this he had visited Harpreet between March 25 and April 7 after her foetus had been aborted. He said he had administered mexogen tablets to Harpreet to stop her from lactating and that he was also questioned on this score by Bibi Jagir Kaur.

He claimed that Harpreet had, during this period, requested him to plead her case for free movement which revealed that the girl was being held captive.

Dr Sohal said on April 7, 2000 he received a phone call from Paramjit who told him that Harpreet had run away. Two days later he was told that the girl had come back after she was assured that she would be married to Kamaljit. The doctor said Paramjit even told him that Harpreet had brought Kamaljit and Manjit to Jasdil mansion along with her and that all three of them had slept in the same room that night. He said he was later told that Kamaljit and Manjit had left for Begowal.

The statement of Dr Sohal remained inconclusive today. Public Prosecutors S.K. Saxena and V.K. Handa said the statement of the doctor would be recorded later.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur’s counsel Satnam Singh submitted an application before the court requesting that his client be allowed to go to the USA in the next few days to take part in the ‘bhog’ ceremony of Harbhajan Singh Yogi.

The CBI has opposed the application saying the court proceedings would be adversely affected in case Bibi Jagir Kaur did not return from the USA. The application will be heard tomorrow.


SAD-BJP paid heavy price for Modi’s remark
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The wicked joke reported to be played by the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, on the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during the Assembly election campaign in Maharashtra has made the SAD-BJP combine pay a heavy price in the Assembly byelections in Punjab. The combine has suffered a massive defeat in both Kapurthala and Garhshankar constituencies.

In fact, it is a personal defeat of the President of SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.

Mr Badal, making the byelection a personal prestige camped in the Kapurthala, where Akali candidate, Mr Raghbir Singh was contesting, right from the word go. Not only he , but his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, his nephew, Mr Manpreet Badal, and almost all Akali MLAs and MPs campaigned for the party nominee.

But Mr Raghbir Singh, the SAD-BJP candidate, lost with a big margin over 13,000 votes. Even in his dream, Mr Badal would not have imagined such a humiliating defeat. The Congress had won from this Assembly segment during the Parliament elections only with a margin about 250 votes.

Likewise, Mr Khanna, had campaigned in the Garhshankar constituency. Mr Mohinder Pal Mann, as the SAD- BJP candidate in Garhshankar, was his personal choice.

In fact, Mr Khanna, was elected MLA from the Garhshankar constituency with a margin of over 6,000 in Assembly elections in year 2002. Later, in Lok Sabha elections, Mr Khanna won again from this segment by about 3,400 votes. But now his protege, Mr Mann, has been defeated by the Congress candidate by over a margin of 18,000 votes.

It is obvious from the election results that Sikhs, who otherwise are known for their tremendous sense of humour, took Modi’s joke to heart. The community as a whole felt disrespected and humiliated by, Mr Modi. Reacting strongly to this development, Sikhs, by and large, voted against the SAD-BJP combine in byelections.

By issuing denials through the BJP leadership, Mr Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and others tried to control the damage caused by the Mr Modi’s reported utterance, but they failed to convince the Sikh community. Sikh voters gave vent to their anger through the ballot at the very first opportunity that came their way at Kapurthala and Garhshankar.

In fact it was not the first time that the top leaders of the BJP had tried to be disrespectful to Dr Manmohan Singh. Earlier, Mr Yashwant Sinha, former External Affairs Minister, had heaped insult on the Prime Minister by using foul language against him. That was also not liked by Sikh community.

In fact, Dr Manmohan Singh, being a non-controversial figure and an upright man, commands a high respect in the Sikh community. “Sikhs never mind whatever anyone says about other mainstream Sikh politicians, but they are touchy about Dr Manmohan Singh, because he has become a symbol of the community’s image and of the values which are the foundation stone of Sikhism,” says Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a senior Akali leader.

In fact, it will not be easy for Mr Badal to continue the alliance with the BJP in the existing circumstances. “The issue of Dr Manmohan Singh, will continue to haunt the SAD-BJP combine for a long time to come and the Congress would continue to beat the SAD-BJP combine by using this issue as a handle because it is aware that Sikhs can be emotionalised at any point of time,” says Col P.I.S. Phoolka (retd), former president of the Sainik Morcha of the BJP.


Gurdwara panel seeks poll observers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The Gurdwara Election Commission is not taking any chances for the remaining SGPC polls in November this year. Learning from past experience, the Commission has decided not to arm the Punjab Government with any excuse for non-deployment of paramilitary forces in four constituencies for Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls.

In July, the government had blamed lack of time for their inability to deploy forces in the state during the polls. Now, the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections, Justice J.S. Sekhon, has asked authorities concerned "well in advance" to deploy central forces in the four constituencies.

He has already written a letter to the authorities in this regard

The Commission has written another letter to the Haryana Government. The authorities have been asked to forward a panel of four officers for appointment as election observers.

Sure of "lazy" response, the Commission has not written to the Punjab Government this time. Otherwise also, the Commission wants "independent" observers for the elections.

The reason behind the Commission's "cautious approach" is not hard to see. Last time, the Punjab Government had continued to sit comfortably for over 45 days on Commission's plea for deployment of central forces to finally blame paucity of time for its inaction.

In fact, a letter was written in this regard by the Commission on May 24 to Punjab Chief Secretary and authorities concerned in the Central Government. But a reply was never received.

Apprehending law and order problem in the state during the elections, the Commission had taken up the matter with the Centre. But it was verbally told that "law and order situation was state subject". The Commission was told to approach the state government for necessary action, once again.

A letter in this regard was shot of to the Chief Secretary and the Home Department on July 7. But two days later, the Home Secretary told the Commission that arrangements for the deployment of forces could not be made due to lack of time.

This was not all. The Commission had asked the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to send names of officers for deployment as election observers.

Though Haryana was quick to respond, the Punjab Government took its own time to act. Finally, names of five officers were forwarded, instead of 15, as demanded by the Commission, forcing it to deploy Haryana officers in Punjab and Himachal.

The polls to four constituencies are scheduled to be held on November 7. The results would be declared on November 11. 


2 ADCs designated DCs for election purpose
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
Ruling out the possibility of interference by the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur during the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls, the Punjab Government on Tuesday designated two Additional Deputy Commissioners (ADCs) as DCs for the purpose of conducting the elections.

The elections to the Tarn Taran constituency in Amritsar district, besides Dhariwal and Gurdaspur constituencies, are scheduled to be held on November 7. The Gurdwara Election Commission had earlier countermanded the elections to these constituencies following government’s failure to act against the two DCs. The officers had failed to produce record before the commission despite clear cut instructions.

Giving details of a comminnique issued by the Punjab Government in this regard, Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections Justice Jai Singh Sekhon today said ADCs of Gurdaspur and Amritsar V.K. Meena and Parveen Kumar had been conferred with powers of DCs for conducting the elections.

Addressing a press conference at his office this afternoon, Justice Sekhon said the commission was more or less satisfied with the orders as the same would go a long way in preventing interference by the DCs. But he added that the commission would be seeking certain clarifications and additional powers for the ADCs.

He asserted that they would be writing to the government for conferring the powers of District Magistrate to the ADCs for dealing with election related offences. “Only District Magistrates have the authority under the Criminal Procedure Code to deal with such offences”, Justice Sekhon elaborated.

The retired Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge added that they would also be writing to the Punjab Government for sending the two DCs on leave during the elections for ruling out the possibility of even indirect interference.

As far as the election schedule was concerned, Justice Sekhon said a list of valid nomination papers would be posted on October 20. The list of polling stations would be posted the next day. The election would be held on November 7 from 8 am to 5 pm and the result would be declared on November 11.


Students ransack hostel in high-security zone
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
Fifty to 60 students of Mohindra College armed with swords and rods ransacked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel, situated at a stone's throw from the residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The students toppled scooters and motorcycles parked in the hostel and broke windowpanes. They also broke down some doors, besides trying to start a fire.

Though some students of the hostel were present on the spot, none of them were injured. The other hosted inmates fled to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) and will be staying there for the night. Sources said the attackers were looking for a few students who had quarelled with them at Mohindra College in the afternoon.

The incident took place at around 7.40 pm but the police arrived after half hour. This despite the fact that the area is a high-security zone and the attack had spread terror in the entire neighbourhood. Even after half hour, two police personnel arrived at the spot with the Assistant ASI concerned taking another 10 minutes to reach at the spot.

The students had broken nearly all windowpanes in the building. They first went about breaking the panes in the office and the reception area. Later, they broke the windowpanes in the rooms which were situated around the courtyards.

Madan Lal, who works in the hostel mess, said the attackers were apparently looking for a few students who were not present in the hostel at the time. "When they did not find the students they started ransacking the place", he said. The attackers also had a few "masala" bombs which they threw at the building with a view to starting a fire.

All light fixtures, including tubelights and bulbs, also been smashed.

Mr Suresh Kumar, in charge of the office at the hostel, said he had informed the Regional Director of the incident. There are 60 inmates living in the hostel of which around 40 are in the age group of 12 to 14 years.


Islamabad to Mandhera, musicians trace their roots
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 19
For vocalists Javaid and Babur Niazi from Pakistan the visit to Kapurthala has been a matter of celebration. Displaced from Punjab years ago, the sons of Tufail Niazi, regarded as the finest torchbearer of the Kapurthala musical tradition, today travelled backwards in time, searching for their long-lost roots.

As they moved into Punjab’s interiors to set foot on the soil of Mandhera, native village of their father, their heart was heavy with verse and their eyes spoke a nostalgic language. Proud though they seemed as inheritors of Tufail Niazi’s legacy, they admitted that much of the Kapurthala musical heritage had been lost to the vagaries of time.

What they know about the gharana is what everybody knows, that Mir Nasir Ahmad, who linked Punjab to the Senia-Beenkar gharana of Mian Tansen, founded it. Like musicologists and members of the Kapurthala royal family, who have meagre knowledge about the progression of the gharana, Niazis also seemed to know little, expect what they told The Tribune during their trip.

“Classicism forms the basis of this tradition. Nurtured by musicians like Mir Nasir Ahmad, Wali Mohamad Khan and our father Tufail Niazi, the Kapurthala gharana is rich with many styles. My father was born in Punjab. No wonder his compositions reflect the spirit of this land, classic and rustic at the same time. As for the Kapurthala tradition, it is most famous for its soft, soothing melodies that attain myriad shades when struck from the space of performance,” Javaid Niazi remarks.

Significantly, Javaid and Babur Niazi’s music belongs to no genre. It flows freely. Essentially based on ragas, their rendition reflects a mélange of colours from classical to Sufiana and folk.

Babur Niazi explains, “Our father used to compare music with gold. He would say gold is gold, even if you find it in the filthiest of drains. He taught us the significance of variation in music. So even when we sing Malhar, it does not present itself to the listener as a ‘complicated musical sequence’. It travels as pure, simple music. That’s what I call classic.”

Regulars on the concert circuit the world over, the Niazis celebrate freedom through music. They reason, “If we allow our music to be defined by idioms, we will never accomplish our mission. We follow ragas, but our presentations are worded with the aim of making sense to the listener. We will shortly cut some albums for those who wish to collect our music,” say the Niazis who left Kapurthala thirsting for more as they sat in the concert last night to inaugurate the third Baba Jassa Singh Sharad Utsav being organised by the Kapurthala Heritage Trust and INTACH.

Experimenting with styles, the brothers have even left their mark on Pakistani cinema. Javaid Nizai has sung for Sajad Chakku, who made music for the famous Pak Punjabi film “Pagdi sambhal Jatta”. The brothers also stormed Washington with their Sufiana qalaam during the recently held Silk Route Festival. Classical vocalists though they essentially remain, they love the feel of “world music”. Their favourite cross-border number being the English classic “Hello…It’s me.”


Magnetic blend of raas and kathak
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 19
Nothing except art makes sense at times. Yesterday was one such occasion when creative expression was at its best, first in Javaid and Babur Niazi’s soulful rendition, then in Uma Sharma’s delightful treatment of “Raas” and kathak at the third Baba Jassa Singh Sharad Utsav organised by the Kapurthala Heritage Trust and INTACH here.

The kathak dancer’s troupe presented excerpts on “Raas” from the 10th chapter of Bhagvad Gita. Blended with kathak, the devotional raas leela emerged stronger on stage, reflecting the spiritual bond between Radha and Krishna and between Krishna and the gopis.

Specially chosen for the festival, the choreography was structured as an ode to the beauty of Krishna, who is at once indulgent and evasive. The sequence also underlined humility as it showed Lord Krishna distancing himself from gopis and Radha when vanity got the better of them.

As the two dance forms complemented each other, the presentation was enriched by Mubarak Ali Khan on the tabla, vocalists Imran Khan and Madho Prasad, and Ramesh Mishra on the flute.

Meanwhile, residents of Kapurthala seemed indifferent to the heritage festival that opened on the premises of Sainik School here yesterday. For the most part, the chairs were empty.

The guest list predominantly featured either special invitees of the government or officers themselves. Despite the best performers from the Indian classical traditions attending the festival, city’s people cared little to wake up to their heritage. Performers did feel the vacuum at times.


No move to replace CM, says Bhinder
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 19
There was no move to replace Capt Amarinder Singh as the Chief Minister of state, said, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader in a press conference yesterday.

Once a part of the rebel group, demanding ouster of Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Bhinder also gave the credit to Capt Amarinder Singh for the win in the Garhshankar and Kapurthala byelections.

While responding to a query in this regard, she said Capt Amarinder Singh had worked hard in the elections.

Meanwhile, the factionalism in the district congress once again came to the fore during the recent visit of Ms Bhinder to the district. The local MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma and other Congress leaders of his group were absent during her meeting.

When asked to comment on the factionalism in the district Congress, she said the local MLA might be busy with his own MP, Mr Ashwani Kumar.

It was the first visit of Ms Bhinder to this district after she lost the Lok Sabha elections to Mr Vinod Khanna.

She assured that the MP local area development funds would be released soon after submitting the list of development projects.


Ravel Singh is RJD gen secy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has appointed Dr Ravel Singh as general secretary of the state RJD. 

The decision was taken at an executive meeting of the party held in Moga a few days back.


Two Customs men shifted

Wagah, October 19
The Punjab Government today transferred two Customs officials who allegedly misbehaved with former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral last Sunday at the Indo-Pak joint check post here on the Indian-Pakistan border.

An official spokesman said Customs Superintendent Sukhwinder Singh and Inspector Mahinder Singh Sandhu have been transferred to the Customs Headquarters at Amritsar. — UNI


Here number plates are for decoration
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 19
“Kerah sada na nahi janda”, “Punjabian di shan vakhri”, “Aa gayi pind di raunke”,... one liners like these, besides colourful logos and names, adorn the number plates of a large number of vehicles, mainly two-wheelers, here and the increase of such vehicles shows that the traffic police is not concerned.

Openly flouting rules, some motorists have even got pictures painted on their number plates. If one has Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s picture on his plate, others have trees, birds, tigers or dancing girls made out of flashy radium strips.

Then there are those who entirely forget the real purpose of a number plate and only get logos or pictures painted on them, dropping the registration numbers altogether. People also use the number plates to flaunt their identity, writing “Press” and “Punjab Police” on them.

The phenomenon has caught the fancy of teenagers more, who prefer having their names painted on the number plate in stylish fonts. In most cases the registration number is written below the preferred one-liner, name or logo.

While the traffic police has challaned about 1,250 vehicles in the past three 3 months and collected Rs 2,91,000 as fine, sources say most of these cases were of helmetless driving or jumping the red light. There were also black-film cases or of unauthorised beacons atop vehicles, but only a negligible number of improper number plate cases, despite the fact that it is an offence under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

When contacted, the traffic police in-charge, Mr Jasbir Singh, said though they had challaned motorists driving vehicles without the number, they were yet to look into cases where people had given priority to one-liners or pictures over the registration number.


Punjab brick-kiln owners to protest from Oct 25
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 19
Irked over the silence of the Central Government towards their demands, about 2500 brick-kiln owners of Punjab have decided to tread on a war path and participate in nationwide series of protests from October 25. The protests have been planned with a dual objective of showing their strength and to pressurise the Central Government for withdrawing controversial notification, making it mandatory for brick-kilns situated within a radius of 100 km of thermal plants to use fly ash for making bricks.

The series of protests would be organised by the brick-kiln owners of the state, who have already stopped production at their kilns, in accordance with the schedule chalked out by the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, New Delhi, which has been spearheading its movement against the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Brick-kiln Owners Association has made it clear that the use of fly ash in brick making process was not possible because on the one hand, it would increase the manufacturing cost manifolds and on the other hand, it would require mechanical mixtures, which, in turn, would force kiln owners to drop a large number of labourers.

“The kiln owners could not start production this year so far because of this controversial order, which makes it mandatory for brick-kiln owners situated within 100 km radius of thermal plants to use 25 per cent of fly ash in brick making. If this order is to be implemented, of 2500, 2275 kilns of Punjab would have to use the fly ash and there would be just 225 kilns which would be spared. Normally, we start production after the rains are over, but, this year, no kiln owner has started production for mixture of fly ash was not practically possible,” said Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar and Mr Kuldip Singh Makkar, the president and senior vice-president of the Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners Association.

As per the programme chalked out by the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, all kiln owners and kiln labourers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu would hold dharna in front of the Vidhan Sabhas of their respective states on October 25. This would be followed by a national-level protest rally which would be held in front of Parliament House in New Delhi on November 30.

“The dharna is likely to be converted into a hunger strike,” said Mr Sarbjit Makkar, who maintained that different state-level organisations had kicked off the preparations for the rallies and dharnas. He said the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, MPs and MLAs would be apprised of their demands through letters.


Village pays tribute to its son today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The Punjab Minister for PWD, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, will unveil the statue of Mehtab Singh at Nanoki village, near Nabha, tomorrow. The statue is being installed by family members of Mehtab Singh and the villagers at the Nanoki Boat Club to perpetuate his memory, as he was an asset to the Nabha state.

In fact Mehtab Singh is still remembered for his honesty, diligence and skills in building Nabha state and also the village infrastructure and society. Born in Chaudhary Kishan Singh Zaildar’s house in Lalto in 1857, Mehtab Singh did his diploma in engineering from Roorkee and worked as a contractor building roads, bridges and canals.

There are many anecdotes related to his life and times as to how he was trusted for his honesty by the Maharaja of Nabha. Mehtab Singh was a trusted ‘’home minister’’ of the Maharaja. He is also credited with the concept of cattle fairs or holding mandis for sale and purchase of horses. Beginning with Jaitu, he ensured such mandis were held in several other towns as well. His novel idea of charging tax on sale and purchase of horses and other animals had fetched handsome revenues for the Nabha state.

Mehtab Singh, when asked by the Maharaja to buy horses, reportedly refused to do so on his own lest fingers were pointed at him had suggested to the Maharaja why not select or buy horses of his choice for the Army. That made him conceive the idea of setting up a mandi of horses. These used to be called ‘’Mehtab mandis’’.

Most of the family members of Mehtab Singh served in the defence forces, beginning with his son, Inder Singh, a Captain in the Nabha Akal Infantry. He had fought in World War I at Mesopotamia in 1914. He had eight sons, who at one or the other stage had joined the Indian forces, the Army, the Air Force and the Navy.

For the installation of the statue and to pay a humble tribune to Mehtab Singh, major efforts have been made by Abninder Singh Grewal of Nanoki, who was the village sarpanch in 1987. He was honoured by the then Governor, Mr S.S. Ray, for making Nanoki the best village.

There is a lake near the village and the statue will be installed at the lake, which has boats, maintained by the Young Farmers’ Club.


Five months after death, ashes brought from USA
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Ashes of Nirmal Singh Thind, a 44-year-old motel owner, who belonged to Amritsar and was shot dead by masked robbers at Seattle (USA) on May 31 were immersed at Kiratpur Sahib today, after a gap of four and a half months. He was killed while saving his 10-year-old son, Jugraj Singh Sandhu, from robbers .

Accepting the request of European Parliament and Government of Holland, the Government of India gave special permission to allow Mr Bhupinder Singh, elder brother of the deceased, who is also president of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) to visit India after a gap of 24 years.

Earlier, Mr Bhupinder Singh was denied visa thrice since 1986. He was not allowed to attend the last rites of his mother Surjit Kaur, who died in 1998, and marriage of his daughter last year . He was blacklisted by the government for funding and extending support to militant movement in Punjab after launching of the Dharm Yudh Morcha.

Bhai Baldev Singh, Head Granthi of Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara and his jatha performed ardas to mark the last rites. The death of Thind, however, facilitated reunion of the family after more than two decades.

This is perhaps for the first time that the ashes of a former militant were allowed to be brought from a foreign country and immersed at Kiratpur Sahib.

Nirmal Singh Thind was born in Amritsar in 1960 and was the youngest of five brothers. He was arrested many times by the Punjab Police before he immigrated to the USA.


Devotees throng Maiserkhana Mela
Tribune News Service

Maiserkhana (Bathinda), October 19
Thousands of devotees from different parts of Punjab and its neighbouring states Haryana and Rajasthan, have started arriving at this town situated on the Bathinda-Mansa road to pay obeisance at the temple of goddess Durga Bhagwati and to get her blessings.

The Maiserkhana Mela is connected with goddess Durga Bhagwati. Pilgrims, both Hindu and Sikhs, from far away places come here twice a year during mela days.

According to a legend, “Kamala”, a resident of this area, used to chant the name of Durga Bhagwati for hours together. He requested the goddess to give him “darshan” twice a year and it is believed that goddess Durga Bhagwati agreed to his request. Since then the mela is held twice a year and thousands of devotees come to the temple to seek the blessings of the goddess in the month of Assu and Chet.

Apart from paying obeisance at the temple here, the devotees also perform the ceremony of digging out soil from the “tilla” (mound), located near the temple as it is considered to be a sacred ritual.

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of the devotees.

According to sources policemen in plain clothes had been deployed in and around the venue of the mela. Special buses were being plied round-the-clock for transporting the devotees from one place to other. Civic amenities were also being provided to the devotees. Traffic police personnel had been deployed in adequate strength to ensure smooth flow of traffic. A committee, which has been managing the affairs of the temple, has also been taking care of the offerings being collected during the mela days.


Golden Temple manager transferred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
The SGPC chief today posted Mr Ajaib Singh, assistant secretary, as the new manager, Golden Temple, by replacing Mr Major Singh Ratoul in the wake of several unsavoury incidents in the serai.

The unprecedented reports in the SGPC’s serai had evoked a lot of resentment from the Sikh masses. As SGPC employee was recently arrested by the police when a devotee from Delhi had lodged a complaint that his luggage worth Rs 20,000 was stolen by breaking a window of his room in the SGPC serai.

Earlier, some SGPC employees were placed under suspension following reports of an attempt to molest a woman devotee in the serai.

Meanwhile, Mr Charnjit Singh has been posted as the new chief cashier, Darbar Sahib.


Aggarwal Sabha welcomes Haryana Govt’s decision
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
The Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab, yesterday welcomed the decision of the Haryana Government to give the status of heritage city to Agroha town in Hisar district, which used to be the Capital of the empire of Maharaja Aggarsain.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, President, Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab and former Akali minister, said that by according the status of heritage city to Agroha Dham, the INLD Government had given due honour to members of the Aggarwal community.

He said when the late Devi Lal was the Chief Minister of Haryana, he gave 300 acres in Agroha town in lieu of Re 1 only for setting up Maharaja Aggarsain Medical College at Agroha.

He said when Mr Chautala became the Chief Minister of Haryana, he released adequate financial grants necessary to run the medical college as the same had been stopped by various state governments.

He said that the Aggarwal Sabha was hopeful that Mr Chautala would do the needful to allot a piece of land at Panchkula to set up a Maharaja Aggarsain Bhawan there. 


Sangrur Zone youth festival begins
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 19
The three-day Punjabi University Sangrur zone youth festival today began at Government Ranbir College here. Mr Daljit Singh, a former Director of the Youth Welfare Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, inaugurated the festival by lighting a lamp. About 1,000 students from 22 colleges of the Sangrur zone are taking part in 30 items, including theatre, music, dance, fine arts and folk arts.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Sunita Dhir, Director, Youth Welfare Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, highlighted the role of youth festivals in the life of youths. She said such festivals helped the youths in building their over-all personality.

Mr Daljit Singh remembered his days of youth festivals by saying that these festivals had created several renowned artiste and singers, including Gurdas Mann and late Surjit Bindrakhia. He also asked the youths to go ahead in developing their personality by taking part in cultural events.


PSEB engineers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 19
Members of the PSEB Engineers Association from all over the state today held a protest against the move of the Punjab Government to divide the state electricity board into different generation, transmission and distribution companies at thermal plant here. They alleged that the government was distorting the Electricity Act, 2003, to legitimise the division of the electricity board into three parts.

They alleged that the latest move of the government was to disintegrate the PSEB and then hand it over to the private companies. 


Hospital professor suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, Medical Research and Education, has suspended Prof Geeta Sharma of the Pharmacology Department-cum-Medical Superintendent, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, here.

The order, a copy of which is with The Tribune, said that she had been suspended under Section 4 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970, with immediate effect.

Dr J.S. Dalal, Director Medical Research and Education, has confirmed the suspension of Dr Sharma. However, he said he did not know the exact reason for her suspension. Copies of the order had also been sent to the DRME, Medical Superintendent, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Government and Government Medical College, here for further action.

It is learnt that she had been suspended after the visit to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, who had paid a surprise visit to various government hospitals, including Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital, here on October 2. During her visit she had reportedly found many faults in the working of hospitals.

However, Dr Geeta Sharma could not be contacted even after repeated attempts as she was not available on her mobile phone.


Bar not for harsh step against Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 19
The District Bar Association (DBA) today decided not to take any harsh step against the Commissioner, Mr B. Sarkar, till it got a favourable response from the authorities from which the association had demanded action against him.

At its last meeting on October 14, the DBA had passed a resolution demanding that a corruption case be registered against the Commissioner against whom a lawyer, Mr Harpartap Singh Sandhu, had levelled graft allegations.

A resolution was passed at the general meeting, demanding his suspension and registering a case of corruption against him.

The association had also demanded suspension of all his verdicts and a fresh look into all those cases.

Meanwhile, the District Progressive Sarpanch Union has demanded from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that a probe into graft allegations against the Commissioner be conducted to clear doubts in the matter.


One convicted in corruption case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
Punjab Khadi Board's Junior Technical Promotion Officer Sadhu Singh, posted at Moga, has been convicted by a special court in a corruption case and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 5000.

The allegation against the accused was that he was caught red handed while accepting Rs 400 as bribe. from complainant Jarnail Singh of Sadiq village to verify his wife Raj Kaur's loan case.


Cotton growers threaten agitation
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
Even as members of the BKU (Ekta)-Sidhupur group today continued their dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here to lodge their protest against the falling prices of cotton, the BKU (Ekta) led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan today announced that it would declare its mode of agitation on October 26.

Hundreds of activists of the BKU (Ekta), who staged dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, alleged that the authorities concerned should make effective arrangements to check the loot of cotton growers by traders and ginning and pressing mills by purchasing their white gold at throwaway prices in the absence of any government agencies.

Farmers alleged that the authorities concerned had deliberately brought down the prices of cotton which were ranging from Rs 2,400 to Rs 2,500 per quintal at the beginning of the current season, to Rs 1,800 to Rs 1,900 to benefit industrialists and others at the cost of growers.

The BKU (Ekta) activists of the Sidhupur group threatened that if the Centre did not take steps to stabilise the prices of cotton, the farmers would be left with no option than to launch an agitation. 


Loans for farmers to be increased, says minister
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, October 19
Mr Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Union Minister of State for Agriculture, said today that the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre would not discourage the farming community and assured it that the Centre would increase by 38 per cent the loans to be given to farmers.

Mr Akhilesh was here to oversee arrangements for the purchase of paddy at the new grain market. He said Punjab was the biggest supplier of foodgrain in the Central pool and he would see to it that the procurement system being adopted at various mandis in the state would be adopted at other places as well.

He said Punjab had managed to achieve the target of procuring 135 lakh tonnes despite the fact that the state had been ravaged by both flood and drought.



Two patwaris suspended for fraud
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 19
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ranjit Singh, today suspended two patwaris and cancelled the licence of a nambardar on charges of cheating a woman. The suspended patwaris, Ashok Kumar and Ravinder Kochar, in connivance with Vijay Kumar Kohli, nambardar, allegedly duped Urmila Kumari of 30 marla and Rs 16 lakh.

As per investigations, Urmila Kumari, a local resident, had approached the patwari for getting the ancestral land transferred to her name after the demise of her mother-in-law, Gian Devi. When she approached Ashok Kumar, he allegedly demanded a bribe. She promised to pay him after the land was transferred to her name. But the patwari got two blank cheques signed from her and allegedly duped her of the land worth Rs 9 lakh in connivance with Ravinder Kochar and Vijay Kumar.

The Deputy Commissioner said the patwaris later also got the cheques encashed from Canara Bank, city branch. He said a case had been registered against them and a departmental inquiry had been initiated.

During the suspension the headquarters of Ashok Kumar and Ravinder Kochar would be Abohar and Fazilka, respectively.


Woman stabbed to death
Our Correspondent

The body of Suman (inset), who was stabbed to death, lies in a street in the Arya Nagar locality in Abohar on Tuesday.
The body of Suman (inset), who was stabbed to death, lies in a street in the Arya Nagar locality in Abohar on Tuesday. — A Tribune photograph

Abohar, October 19
A woman was stabbed to death in full public view in Arya Nagar locality here today. According to information, Suman (40) was going to Shiv Mandir at about 11 am when a youth residing in her neighborhood chased and allegedly stabbed her repeatedly in her abdomen. The passers-by rushed in panic and bolted the doors for safety. None responded to her cries for help. 

After she fell down, the youth silently moved towards his home.

Sources said Suman, alias Sugna, had four daughters and two sons. The eldest daughter had died due to illness. Her husband, Krishan Lal, was confined to bed for a long time and the family had insufficient resources to get him treated.

She had reportedly exchanged hot words with the suspect, a identified as Rajesh Kumar of the same community, a few days ago over cleaning of the municipal drain, locals said.

The body was handed over to the family this evening after postmortem at the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital. The in charge of the Police Station II visited the spot but hasn’t confirmed any arrest. 


Child’s kidnapping case solved, 3 held
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, October 19
Mystery shrouding the kidnapping of Mandeep Sharma(7) has been solved with the arrest of three persons. During interrogation the accused confessed to have killed him.

According to a press release by the SSP, Mr Kulchhinder Singh, a case of kidnapping had been registered under Sections 363 and 365 of the IPC at the city police station in Kotkapura on April 9.

Mandeep’s father, Balbir Ram, had stated that his son went missing under mysterious circumstance when he had gone out to play near Resham Lal’s shop in his neighbourhood. The police had set up a committee under the SP (D),Mr Baljit Singh Butar, to trace the missing boy.

Investigations revealed that Resham Lal, Devinder Kumar and Gunjan Kumar Bihari kidnapped Mandeep and took him to Sikhawala road, but when he started crying they threw him in Rajasthan canal.

After killing Mandeep they called up his parents through the mobile phone of Sonu Sharma, a resident of Duareana Road, and demanded a ransom of Rs 3 lakh from them. This phone call helped the police in tracing the criminals.

Out of the four accused, Gunjan Kumar has absconded, while the police has arrested Resham Lal, Devinder Kumar and Sonu Sharma.

The kidnapping had hit the headlines about 3 months ago when the police rounded up Sonu Sharma and her sister. After remaining in the police custody for about 2 days, these girls had accused some policemen of attempting to rape them. On the basis of their complaint, the SHO of the police station was also shifted.


Twins killed on way to Army recruitment rally
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 19
A day after nine aspirants for recruitment in the Army were injured in a stampede at Mammon cantonment yesterday, another tragedy struck today. Twin brother coming for recruitment today morning were killed in an accident.

The twin brothers, Jai Singh and Vijay Singh, residents of Bagrian village in Gurdaspur district, were killed when they were coming to participate in the recruitment rally along with their cousin, Sanjay, on a scooter.

The scooter met an accident with a truck coming from the opposite direction near the sales tax barrier on the Chaki Para road. While the twin brothers died on the spot, their cousin was admitted to Pathankot Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

Yesterday also nine aspirants for recruitment in the Army were injured in a stampede at Mammon cantonment.

Thousands of youth had gathered here to participate in the recruitment rally organised by the Army.

The Director (Recruitment), Col Bharat Bisht, told The Tribune that the rally was being conducted was recruitment of soldiers for general, clerical and technical duties.


Deported youth commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 19
A deported young man from the USA committed suicide at his residence in Miani village in this district today. It is reported that Datinder Singh (38), son of Mr Surat Singh, a resident of Miani, had been living with his wife, Bhupinder Kaur, and a daughter in the USA for the past 15 years. 

About nine months ago his wife divorced him and he was deported to India.

After that he used to take liquor and became upset. He lived alone in his house.

His aunt, Kuldip Kaur, went to his house in the morning and found Datinder Singh was hanging from a hook of ceiling fan. She informed the panchayat and the police.


Market Committee clerk held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 19
A Vigilance Bureau team today arrested an auction clerk working in the Market Committee office at Nihalsinghwala on the charge of getting the job on the basis of a fake certificate.

According to sources, Gurbaksh Singh joined as an auction clerk in the Market Committee office on January 10, 1983. He appeared for Class X examination from Gurunanak High School, Takhtupura, in 1977 and again in 1978 after failing in his first attempt.

However, he mentioned different dates of birth while filling the examination form for these exams.

On April 10, 1980, he applied for a Class IX certificate at Guru Nanak High School, on the basis of which he allegedly got a fake Class X certificate made. After trying for about three years, he finally succeeded in getting a job.

The Vigilance Bureau had received a complaint in this connection, following which Vigilance DSP Surjit Singh Khosa conducted a probe and found the allegation against Gurbaksh Singh true. He has been arrested and booked under Sections 467, 468, and 471 of the IPC, besides Sections 13, 2 and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


One held for attacking MC chief
Tribune News Service

Bhucho Mandi, October 19
Mr Dharmpal, a local shopkeeper, was arrested today for his alleged involvement in attacking employees of the local municipal council, including its president Ram Kumar Garg. Police sources said Mr Dharmpal allegedly attacked Junior Engineer Parlahad Kumar and works clerk Hem Raj and MC president Ram Kumar Garg when they were inspecting the work pertaining to the premix paving of a street of this town.

A case under Sections 353, 186 and 323 of the IPC has been registered against him in the Nathana police station.

A scuffle took place between Dharmpal and Ram Kumar Garg when the former raised an objection against the use of sub-standard material in the remix paving of the street. After the scuffle, Mr Parlahad Kumar reported the matter to the police. Mr Garg could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. 


Stray bullet hits labourer
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
A stray bullet, the origin of which could not be confirmed, hit a labourer while he working in a house in the Phase II locality of Urban Estate here today, under mysterious circumstances.

Though the labourer, identified as Videshi, who was admitted to the local Civil Hospital, was not able to tell about the direction from which the bullet came and hit his back, the police has started investigating the matter as the military station is situated adjacent to the locality.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Videshi, was now out of danger. However, the incident has spread panic among the residents of the locality.

Whether the police has registered any case in this connection could not be known. 


Constable, 5 others booked for abetting suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 19
The city police had booked Constable Mukhtiar Singh, his wife Pushpa Devi, a staff Nurse, and four other relatives under Sections 306, 452, 323, 324, 34,148 and 149 IPC for abetting Deepmala (20) to commit suicide inside the official quarters at the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here.

Sources said the victim had left a suicide note at her residence before consuming some poison yesterday. Her father Jagdish Lal had been working in the postmortem room of the hospital for the past many years. He alleged that Mukhtiar Singh forced entry into his residential quarter many a times with bad intention. He had been intimidating Deepmala to force Jagdish Lal to change his statement in a criminal case.

A day earlier, the persons named in the FIR had allegedly dragged Deepmala to their quarter. She felt so humiliated that she committed suicide. 


Indefinite strike by engineering students
Tribune News Service

Bhaddal (Ropar), October 19
Students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology at Bhaddal today went on a indefinite strike against the implementation of Regulation-2004 by the Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, just three weeks before their final examinations.

Over 500 students of third semester from all engineering branches were protesting against Regulation-2004 which states that “enrolment in new semester shall not be allowed unless a student has cleared more than 50 per cent of all theory papers in first and second semester taken together. If the students do not fulfil the conditions then they will have to repeat the entire course, as fresh students by paying full fees”.

The agitation began in the morning when the Principal of the college displayed a notice stating “All students who have been enrolled in the third semester will not be debarred up to the 8th semester. However, they are required to complete the attendance as shown in the revised regulations (Academic Regulations-2004).

Students on condition of annonymity complained that the notice was issued just before the examination and it was not possible for them to complete the shortage of lecture. As per the new regulations students have to clear 75 per cent attendance in the semester. The student not fulfilling the attendance norms will have to repeat the entire semester after paying full fees.

A second year student of computer engineering said that besides others rules, the regulation also imposed condition that students who fail to clear more than 50 per cent papers in first and second semester taken together for two consecutive terms, shall be declared “ not fit to pursue technical education (NFT)” and would not be allowed to pursue the course further.

A student of Information Technology added that it was unfair on the part of the PTU authorties to apply the condition that if a student did not complete 75 per cent attendance in one subject, he would not be allowed to appear in the exam and would have to take admission in the semester again.

In addition, a second year student of electrical engineering said they were forced to give an affidavit declaring that they accepted the new regulations. Every affiliated college with PTU was told to compile a data about students and their option and submit to the university on October 28.

When contacted the Chairman of the college, Ms Kulwant Kaur, said she would discuss the matter with faculty members of the college tomorrow. Thereafter the students problems would be discussed with the PTU authorities at Jalandhar.


2 residential schools for girls
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
The Punjab Government will open two residential schools at Talwandi Sabo and Sangat with the help of the Centre for providing free education to girls in the 6-14 age group.

Mr K. A. P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, disclosed this at a function organised at Talwandi Sabo in connection with the inauguration of the newly constructed building of the Block Resource Centre yesterday.

Mr Sinha said residential schools would be set up in 13 blocks of Punjab where the literacy rate among the girls was much below the national average.He added that Rs 25 lakh would be spent on each school.

He added that under the Sarb Sikhiya Abhiyan, about 20 anganwadis would be set up in the district.


Technical fest organised
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 19
A national-level technical fest, ASTRON-2004, was held at the Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology. Students from 34 institutes of Punjab and outside the state participated in it.

The technical fest was organised by ISTE students’ chapter of the institute. A number of events, including group discussions, technical paper presentations, debates, quiz, programming competitions, hacking contest and circuit designing were organised. Non-technical programmes like an Ad-Mad show and face painting were also held.


Teams to monitor training in schools
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 19
The Education Department has constituted tehsil-level flying squads in order to ensure that regular training is being imparted to schoolchildren.

Mr Harbans Singh Chahal, District Education Officer, said the department had formed a panel of teachers who would visit schools to ensure that regular training was being imparted, especially in science stream.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |