P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sikh high priests in tight spot
Jathedar Nandgarh to raise “kirpan issue”
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 25
Sikh high priests, including the Jathedar of Akal Takht, may find themselves in a tight spot even as Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, of Takht Damdama Sahib, is determined to take up the issue of the denial of entry in the US Embassy with his ‘kirpan’ in the forthcoming meeting, scheduled to be held next week.

Other jathedars, including Jathedar Vedanti, Giani Tarlochan Singh and Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedars of Akal Takht, Kesgarh Sahib and Patna Sahib had never raised any objection on removing their religious symbol while visiting the embassies or boarding flights. As per practice, the Sikhs are asked to keep their ‘Kirpan’ in the suitcase which could be worn after of the aircraft lands.

The irate Jathedar Nandgarh had refused to enter the US Embassy when its officials asked him to remove the ‘kirpan’ for obtaining his finger prints to get visa . He had applied for the visa to attend the bhog ceremony of spiritual leader Harbhajan Singh Yogi who had passed away recently. Jathedar Nandgarh told officials that no baptised Sikh could afford to remove his ‘kirpan’ which was his religious symbol. Another Jathedar who had gone to the US Embassy, however, ‘obeyed’ the directives of embassy officials and removed his ‘kirpan’.

The issue is likely to be flared up even as the election for the President of the USA is scheduled for November. The Sikhs living in the USA might take up the issue with appropriate authorities. In India, the jathedars might receive flak for obeying the directives of embassy officials. Earlier, the SGPC, and the National Minorities Commission had also taken up the matter at the international level to exempt the Sikh clergy from carrying ‘kirpan’ in international flights .

The SGPC had recently imposed certain restrictions on the frequent visits of jathedars and raagis to foreign countries. The SGPC Executive had asked the Sikh sangat all over the world to send their invitations to the jathedars through the Shiromani Committee so that their absence should not adversely affect the domestic religious functions.


Bibi to examine Unesco report
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 25
The SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today said she would study the report prepared by Unesco for granting world heritage status to Harmandir Sahib. She added that all implications of the project would be examined in depth before the SGPC endorsed the dossier presented by the group including the SGPC, state government and INTACH.

Bibi Jagir Kaur expressed the apprehension that there might be a scope for the government or other organisations to interfere in the preservation work on the holiest Sikh site, for which the SGPC would never agree. However, she added that she would go through the entire project minutely before taking a final decision.

Addressing a press conference, she described the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) as symbolic. It had no formal constitution to manage the gurdwaras in Pakistan; the entire control lay with the Wakf Board of the neighbouring country, she said.

The SGPC chief said the newly formed PSGPC did not have the powers to undertake kar seva or uphold maryada as per the Sikh tenets. Therefore there was no question of giving any recognition to it by the SGPC yet. She said till the entire PSGPC got fully empowered with representatives of Sikhs from India or abroad, the SGPC would not accept this body.

Turning her ire against the Shiromani Akali Dal (A) activists who have been holding demonstrations against her during court hearings at Patiala and other places, Bibi Jagir Kaur said Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the party, had no locus standi as his party had lost its credibility during the last parliamentary and SGPC elections.

She described the SAD (A) leadership and their workers as “daily wagers” of the Congress, which encouraged them to raise issues that had no bearing on the Sikh Panth.

The SGPC chief announced that they were in the process of finalising the programme for the tercentenary celebrations of the martyrdom day of the four Sahibzadas to be held at Fatehgarh Sahib.

She said in view of the large number of devotees expected, a temporary township had been planned for their convenience. A university had also been planned to be set up at Fatehgarh Sahib to commemorate the celebrations.


Protests to continue until Bibi quits: Jakhu
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 25
SAD (A) general secretary, Dr Harjinder Jakhu, today flayed the misinformation being spread by SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur about SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann.

Addressing a press conference here, Dr Jakhu brushed aside the allegations of Bibi Jagir Kaur that Mr Mann had got his medical fitness certificate for getting into the IPS at the instance of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Calling it a lie, Dr Jakhu reminded Bibi Jagir Kaur that Mr Mann had spent five years in prison in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and resigned from his IPS post in protest against Operation Blue Star.

“As far as Mr Mann’s maternal grandfather giving a siropa to Dyer was concerned, Mr Mann, though himself innocent, had tendered apology for his grandfather’s act in the budget session of the SGPC on March 29, 2003,” Dr Jakhu said.

He said only 43 per cent votes were polled by the Panthic Morcha in the SGPC general elections and it proved beyond doubt that Bibi Jagir Kaur was not representative of the Sikh panth.

She had been rattled by the Mann Dal protests against her and these protests would continue unabated till she quit, he declared.


Case against 3 illegal nursing institutes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
In less than a fortnight after Punjab Vigilance Bureau launched a drive to identify and act against nursing institutes running illegally in the state, at least three first information reports have so far been registered.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau said two such institutes were located in Ropar district, while one was situated in Ferozepore. Giving details, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief of the Vigilance Bureau A.P. Pandey said in all they were looking into the functioning of at least 93 institutes in the state.

Some had obtained no objection certificates (NOCs) from the Punjab Government’s department concerned. Some had even obtained NOCs from Punjab Nursing Council and Indian Council. But some other institutes were running illegally without affiliation or even NOCs, he said. The chief added that they were also looking into the facilities being provided by the institutes to the students to ensure against irregularities.

The Bureau, it may be recalled, had launched a concerted drive against institutes running illegally in the state. In fact, the authorities had decided to register cases against the ones not fulfilling the formalities. As a part of the drive, raids were conducted all over the state by the Vigilance Bureau authorities.

The sources had maintained that the SP in major cities, including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Patiala had been directed to identify the institutes which were not fulfilling the requisite criterion.


Shahpur Kandi employees drawing higher wages
Internal audit to detect anomalies
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 25
The Department of Finance, Punjab, has ordered a fresh internal audit of the salaries being drawn by the employees of the Shahpur Kandi project. Sources in the Department told The Tribune that internal audit had been ordered to detect the anomalies in the pay scales of those working in the project. Due to anomalies many workers were allegedly drawing much higher wages than what they deserve.

The anomalies crept in the wages at the time when work charge employees of the project were absorbed as regular workers. There were 6,000 work charge workers employed at Ranjit Sagar and Shahpur Kandi Dam projects. Work charge workers are employed against work being carried out at project sites.

The officers of the rank of executive engineers and above were empowered to give special increments as reward for good work done by such employees. The sources said many of the domestic helps of the project officers were absorbed as work charge workers in the project.

In many cases even 10 to 15 special increments were given to the work charges workers. However, after the work of the dam was completed the demand was raised by the union to absorb these workers as regular workers.

As per the rules the authorities should have asked the work charge employees to surrender the special increments given to them as temporary employees before being absorbed as regulars. However, the authorities who affected absorption for work charges employees helped them retain the special increments in their pay scales as regular employees.

This created pay anomalies due to which the regular Class IV employees in some of the cases are drawing salaries much more than the Class III and in some cases Class II employees. In many cases the initial pay of the Class IV employees was fixed much higher than the pay scales recommended for them according to Punjab Civil Services.

The scam in fixation of wages was first detected by an IAAS officer posted as financial advisor to the project. However, the inquiry was swept under carpet at that time as the elections were round the corner.

There are 8,500 workers currently employed in the Shahpur Kandi project. All these workers are without work as the government has failed to start the project. The government is paying Rs 11 crore per month as salary to these workers without getting any work from them. The sources said if the anomalies were removed the government could save extra amount paid to the employees.


BKU (E) activists descend on Chathewala
to stop auction

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Chathewala (Bathinda), October 25
Even as the authorities concerned have been leaving no stone unturned to prevent any untoward incident from happening in this village tomorrow, when a piece of land will be auctioned on the court’s order, the situation has become volatile as thousands of BKU (Ekta) activists armed with lathis have been descending here since yesterday to stop the same.

Though the police has managed to put special nakas at almost all entry points of the village, a large section of BKU (Ekta) activists led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan managed to reach the village today after breaking the barrier laid near the Maur Mandi area.

About 3,500 activists, who have descended in the village till evening, decided not allow the auction of the land belonging to local farmer Balwant Singh tomorrow.

“If we will allow the auction in lieu of the recovery of the debt as per the decree passed by a Talwandi Sabo-based civil court tomorrow, most of the farmers will become landless as it will become trend. Its a do or die battle for us and we will not allow it to be auctioned,” pointed out activists while holding a rally in the village.

They added that it was question of their survival and if the authorities concerned wanted to maintain peace, they should cancel the auction. However, they added they would oppose the auction in a peaceful manner.

The earlier agitations of the BKU activists at Jethuke, Maiser Khana and Bhai Bakhtaur villages of the district have claimed lives of three innocent persons. The auction of the piece of the land owned by Mr Balwant Singh is to be held on the order passed by Mr N.K. Gaur, the then Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Talwandi Sabo. Mr Gaur, few months ago. He has also ordered the auction to be vediographed. The decree was passed in favour of Mr Harcharan Dass, who was to take Rs 3.40 lakh from Balwant Singh.

On the other hand to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn, Mr Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, SDM, Talwandi Sabo, has imposed Section 144 of Cr PC. in the region. He has also ordered the residents of the area falling under Talwandi Sabo, Kot Fathe and Maur Mandi police stations to deposit their fire arms with police stations concerned.

He has also ordered the police to take action against BKU(E) activists found roaming in the area without informing the police station concerned. Apart from it, the residents of Talwandi Sabo subdivision were also liable to inform the police stations concerned about the guests living with them. The police had also been authorised to search any premises in this regard. The order would remain in force till October 28.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that situation had become tense after the talks between representatives of the BKU (Ekta) and a section of civil and police officials failed yesterday night. Though the BKU leaders were made aware of the fact that decree holder had agreed to waive off the interest which he was entitled to take on the principal amount advanced to Balwant Singh. They refused to pay even the principal amount of Rs 3.40 lakh. About two cases had already been registered against the activists when they prevented the auction of the same land held earlier.

Meanwhile, the district police authorities have decided to start arresting activists to maintain law and order in the village.


Fake pension case: SP shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Not satisfied with the explanation given by the top brass of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau regarding the arrest of father and brother of Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar, who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the infamous DSP recruitment case, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh this evening ordered the transfer of SP, Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepore, Inderjit Singh Randhawa, and directed Bureau Chief A.P. Pandey to submit to him the factual report by tomorrow evening in this regard.

Informed official sources said the SP (Vigilance) had been shifted to an “insignificant” post of AIG (Armament) at Punjab Police Headquarters here. Capt Amarinder Singh, who is in Mumbai, and expected to reach here tomorrow, conveyed to all concerned that he was not “ satisfied” with the story told to him regarding this case by the Bureau officials concerned. In fact, sources said the CM was upset, as the matter in this regard was never brought to his notice.

It was reported today in a section of media that Mr Brar’s father, Mr Kheta Singh, and his brother, Mr Balkaran Singh, were arrested recently in connection with an old-age pension case, and put behind bars. Mr Kheta Singh, in his capacity as Nambardar and Mr Balkaran Singh, as Panch, had recommended the case of a woman of their Bhagsar village, near Muktsar, for old-age pension.

Stating that it was a wrong recommendation which caused a financial loss to the state, the Vigilance Bureau had registered an FIR against them on October 8 and got arrested them on the same day by a police party headed by a DSP-rank official. They spent about 10 days behind bars before their release on bail.

Interestingly, though the Chief Minister has ordered the transfer and has sought a factual report in this regard, the top brass of the Vigilance Bureau at a press conference here this afternoon justified the arrest of Kheta Singh and Balkaran Singh, besides registering of the case against them. The Bureau said the case had nothing to do with the PIL filed in the DSP case by Mr Brar.

However, the Bureau has a lot of questions to answer in this connection. Why was keen interest shown by it in this very case of pension when there were over one lakh cases of old-age pension, which were found based on bogus claims, rejected in recent months? Obviously, those cases must have been recommended by nambardars, panches, sarpanches and revenue officials and others authorised to do so and cleared after due scrutiny by the final approving authority. How many people have been arrested in connection with those cases?

Mr Brar had stated that not only his family members but his close friends were also harassed by various authorities. He had asked what happened with his brother and father and also his friends was directly related to the PIL filed by him in the DSP case.


DC stops pension disbursement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is probing 1200 cases of illegal pension disbursement in Kapurthala district alone. In fact, the bureau has already registered a first information report (FIR) in the matter.

Giving details, Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police—cum—Director of Vigilance Bureau A.P. Pandey today said pension disbursement had been stopped by Kapurthala’s Deputy Commissioner after the matter was brought to his notice.

As far as the loss to the state exchequer was concerned, he said each pensioner was getting something like Rs 200 per month.

“The money part of it is not important,” he said. “No matter how insignificant the amount is, action in such cases is necessary as so many deserving persons are not getting pension, because a large number of undeserving people are taking home the amount”.

The Vigilance Chief added that the bureau had been receiving a large number of complaints pertaining to illegal disbursement of pension. “We do not ignore such complaints. As such inquiries are on,” he asserted.

One such inquiry in Shakupura situated in Jalandhar district was on. The bureau was looking into the role of a Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) in the disbursement of pension, he said.

Regarding another pension case pertaining to Amritsar, the chief said Punjab Government’s Social Security Department was seized of the matter.

He added that a similar vigilance inquiry had also been instituted in alleged cases of large-scale bungling under various categories in Jalandhar district also.


Non-compliance of order irks PSHRC
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 25
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has taken a serious view of the failure of the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to comply with its orders regarding the maintenance of parks in the city and directed him to cooperate with the Deputy Commissioner as told earlier.

While indicting the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission in its order on July 12, 2004 had observed: “After considering the material available on file the commission is not satisfied regarding the state of maintenance of public parks in Ludhiana. The matter is far too serious and cannot be allowed to be bogged down.”

The Commission had asked the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana to submit status report on the ‘current state of parks and green belts and also devise his own mechanism so as to ascertain fully and objectively the state of existing parks and green belts.’

The Deputy Commissioner was also asked to suggest specific ways and means in consultation with the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, for proper maintenance of public parks and open spaces on a sustainable basis. “The matter needs no compromise,” the commission had observed.

In its latest order passed by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission’s seniormost member, Mr N.K. Arora on September 24, 2004, the Commission has observed ‘the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, has expressed his helplessness in obtaining cooperation from the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana in this case.’

The commission has asked the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to ‘render all possible help to the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, who has been advised to look into the matter under orders of the commission which had taken cognisance of the matter by acting under Section 17 Provision 2(a) of Protection of Human Rights Act 1993. ‘The Deputy Commissioner had sent a number of reminders seeking information regarding the state of parks maintained by the parks management committees but did not get the requisite information.

The federation of parks management committees had made a complaint to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission saying the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had backed out of the contract with the parks management committees and had not made payment to them running into several lakhs.

In his latest report to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission Mr S.S. Channa, president of the Federation of Parks Management Committees, stated on September 24 that the deplorable conditions of the parks and green belts in the city resulting from the failure of the contract system and departmental maintenance, came up for detailed discussion in the general house of the corporation on July 26, 2004. The house unanimously decided that the maintenance of parks should be entrusted to the parks management committees. Unfortunately the resolution has not been implemented so far and the condition of the parks remains the same. Mr Channa has further observed: “An impression is gaining ground amongst residents and councillors that the Municipal Commissioner is purposely dragging his feet to implement the orders. There is no reason why he should have written to the government just a few days before hearing of the case.


Disallow Zaffarwal from contesting SGPC
poll: Shiv Sena
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 25
Reacting to the declaration of former chief of the Khalistan Commando Force Wassan Singh Zaffarwal to contest elections for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from Dhariwal, Mr Jagdish Kataria, district president of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thakarey), said that such a move must be opposed by the Sikh body.

Mr Kataria said that if Zaffarwal would be allowed to contest the election, it would hurt the sentiments of thousands of terrorist-affected families of Punjab. He said that all anti-social and anti-nation elements would get a lift if such a move was not opposed.

Mr Kataria said that how could Zaffarwal claim himself to be a true Sikh when was allegedly involved in criminal activities and caused communal hatred in the state on the directions from Pakistanis.

The Shiv Sena leader said that he had sent his representation to the Election Commission for SGPC poll in this regard.


Cong hopeful of winning Ajnala seat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 25
Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today predicted that like Kapurthala and Garhshankar, the Congress would stage a thumping victory in the forthcoming byelection for the Ajnala Assembly seat.

Mr Parminder Singh said the victory of the Congress at Kapurthala and Garhshankar was in itself a proof that the people were fed up of the policies of the SAD-BJP combine. “They no more want communal tensions in any part of the country and all they yearn for is peace and stability which can be ensured by the Congress alone,” said Mr Parminder Singh. He asserted that the people of the state would stand behind the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, and his policies and the voters of Ajnala would vote on the issues of development and elimination of corruption from the state.


SAD (A) urges Jathedar to summon Badal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 25
The district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht to summon Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), at Akal Takht for calling “Khanda Sahib” a “sand” (tool), which was presented to him at a function at Mahima Singh Wala village, near Delhon, a few days ago.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Jathedar Jagdheer Singh Katron, a member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD (A) and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), said Mr Badal had insulted “Khanda Sahib” by calling it a “sand” (tool). They said Mr Badal should remember that the Sikhs worshipped their religious weapons so neither he nor any other person had the right to call “Khanda Sahib a “sand”.

The SAD (A) leaders declared that its workers and leaders of the Sangrur district would gherao Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of the SGPC, everywhere in the district.


Tributes paid to Harbhajan Yogi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, paid rich tributes to Harbhajan Singh Yogi while representing the Punjab Government at his bhog ceremony held in Esponala, New Mexico, USA on Saturday.

She described the yogi to be a great Sikh preacher of the 20th century who with his hard work and missionary zeal spread the teachings of the Sikh Gurus in the western part of the world.

She also mourned his death with his wife Ms Inderjit Kaur and two sons and asked them to continue the good work being done by their institution.

Later, she met the Indian fraternity and NRI businessmen who want to invest in business activities back home in Punjab.

Meanwhile, a deputation of doctors of Amritsar Medical and Dental Alumni of North America met Ms Bhattal and invited her to preside over their annual function to be held in New York in February 2005.


Punjab to boost industrial development in
border districts

Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 26
The Punjab Government has decided to offer special incentives to industrialists who are ready to invest their capital in the border districts of Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur. This was stated by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, during an interaction with mediapersons at Mohanke village, near Guruharsahai, today.

The Chief Minister said the government would offer incentives and facilities to those businessmen who would set up projects in these border areas with an investment of Rs 25 crore or more. He said the incentives would match the ones given to the businessmen with an investment of Rs 100 crore in other parts of the state.

The Chief Minister was in the town to participate in the shagun ceremony of Mr Raghumeet Sodhi, son of Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab. He was accompanied by Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Local Government and Employment Minister, Mr Hans Raj Jossan, state Minister for Forests, and other senior Congress functionaries of the state.

He said a distillery was being established in Guruharsahai at an estimated cost of over Rs 100 crore. It would generate employment for the residents of the border area. He said the state government had also submitted a proposal to the Union Government for granting a special package for the development of the border area on the lines of grant extended to Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

About the promises made to unemployed ETT teachers during the recent Assembly byelections, he said a high-level committee had been constituted to look into the matter. He said other promises made in the Congress manifesto like free electricity and water to the farmers would be fulfilled after the improvement in the economy of the state.

He said repair and maintenance of the national highways, state highways and link roads in the state would be complete by December this year. The World Bank had promised loan worth Rs 800 crore to the state government for various developmental works and it was likely to be released shortly, he added.

He said SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal was issuing reckless statements in the media out of desperation after his party’s defeat in the Kapurthala and Garshankar Assembly byelections. Reiterating that his son Raninder Singh was innocent, he said legal proceedings against English daily which raked up the controversy would be initiated soon.

The Chief Minister announced a special grant of Rs 1 crore for various development works in the Guruharsahai constituency.


Illegal construction by councillor irks shopkeepers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 25
The municipal corporation, which has started a demolition drive against illegal constructions in the city, is caught a controversy. A councillor has allegedly constructed a shop on its land near Government Rajindra Hospital early this month.

Councillor Narinder Lalli already has three shops in the area. While he is running a chemist shop himself, he has rented out one shop to a doctor and a laboratory is being run in the third one. He has now allegedly taken over a piece of corporation land adjoining these shops to construct another shop. The shop was reportedly constructed between October 8 to 10.

Municipal Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu, when contacted, confirmed that councillor had encroached on the government land. But he was not sure whether it belonged to the corporation. He said a notice was issued to Mr Lalli when the matter was brought to his notice but that was returned with a stay order from a local court.

Mr Sidhu said the councillor constructed a shop on the government land on a holiday, probably at night due to which it could not be detected. When asked whether any action was being taken against staff of the Building Branch, he said he had asked for an explanation from the Building Inspector concerned. Action could be taken only after this explanation is received, he added.

Meanwhile, according to the petition filed by the councillor in a local court, he is in possession of the land and also has the electricity connection for the same. It is also claimed that the building was also constructed earlier and not as alleged in the notice served on him. Mr Lalli said “It is my land which has been allotted to me”. He claimed he had only installed a shutter at the site recently.

The issue may snowball into a controversy with Mayor Vishnu Sharma writing a letter to the Commissioner soon after the alleged encroachment took place. Though the letter does not mention the name of Mr Lalli, who is not a favourite of the Mayor as he happens to be in the group of Improvement Trust Chairman K.K. Sharma, it informs the Commissioner that a number of illegal constructions are coming up in the city. Mr Vishnu Sharma has also warned the Commissioner in the letter that he would be personally responsible for the consequences if he does not stop these illegal constructions.

The Mayor when questioned on the issue, however preferred to be tight-lipped, saying he was away campaigning to Garhshankar when the incident took place.

The incident has also put a stop to the demolition drive against encroachments which was being conducted by the corporation. A corporation team headed by an Assistant Commissioner which had gone to remove encroachments of verandas by shopkeepers in the Rose Garden market few days ago was met with stiff resistance. The shopkeepers demanded the corporation should first take action against encroachments being done by its own men. They also held a dharna on the spot.


‘Ghadri Babian Da’ mela from October 28
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 25
The five-day mela “Ghadri Babian Da”, dedicated to the welfare of womenfolk, will commence at the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here on October 28.

Addressing a press conference here today, convener of the cultural wing of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall committee here, Mr Bhagat Singh Bilga revealed that the mela would open with the declamation contest on “the condition of women in present Indian society”.

A comprehensive discussion will be held on how to improve the condition of women in the Indian society.

“We have in fact decided that every year, the committee will keep a day reserved to ponder over the problems being faced by the women and find out ways as to how the participation of women can be improved in every sphere of life,” Mr Bilga added.

Besides the mela, painting competition, picturisation of documentaries and holding of the plays on freedom fighters, during the British regime would be staged, Mr Bilga said.

Delegations from the USA, England and Canada would also participate in the mela.


Another spoof on Punjab politics, entertainment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The famed Chacha- Bhatija duo has brought out another heartwarming spoof, making fun of all those who matter in the world of Punjab politics, entertainment etc.

Chacha Chattar Singh, otherwise known as Jaswinder Bhalla, had hit the headlines when a senior IAS officer, known to be close to the Punjab Chief Minister, “ thrashed” him in the corridor of Punjab Civil Secretariat last year.

Not in a mood to spare Capt Amarinder Singh and his government, perhaps, because of that happening, Chacha has poked fun freely on the ruling dispensation. Chacha’s comedy, packed in a CD as well as an audio cassette, also hits on the famed singer Meeka and Daler Mehndi in a subtle, disguised manner.

The political tussle between Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Capt Amarinder Singh also finds place in their notoriously funny satire. Chacha and Bhatija are clever comedians. They never “ attack” their “ targets” straightway. They use public characters to make fun on various personalities.

In this comedy titled as “Ambarsar da Pani”, the dialogues between Chacha and Bhatija, whose real name is Bal Mukand Sharma, regarding Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Bhattal, Mr Sukhbir Badal and Mr Parkash Singh Badal evoke instant laughter. A poetic comment regarding Capt Amarinder Singh’s resemblance with the late Asa Singh Mastana, a folk singer, is a high point of this comedy.

However, the most interesting part is an on-stage conversation of Chacha with an assumed character of Daler Mehndi. Chacha is called on the stage by Mehndi by calling him “chotta saddu” ( younger brother- in- law). It surprises Chacha. He questions Mehndi that how has he become his “Chotta Saddu”. Mehndi reminds Chacha what happened with him at the Punjab Civil Secretariat. And then also draws Chacha’s attention what Patiala Police did to him( Mehndi). “ Teri tan sirf khich hi hoi si, Meri tan dhuh vi hoi”, replies Mehndi’s character justifying that why Chacha is his “ chotta saddu”.

Chacha refuses to praise the Punjab Government in this powerful comedy though he is again and again reminded by Bhatija and Neelu, a female character, that this government has taken a “ bold stand” on river waters issue.

There is also a sprinkling lovely music and folk songs sung by Sukhwinder Sukhi, a popular folk singer.

There is much more in this comedy. A serious issue of river waters has been discussed obviously in a humorous manner. Chacha takes a tough pro- Punjab stand on river waters but other characters ask him to take a larger view of the entire country. Obviously, it requires a great art and masterly control to take the comedy at a higher plain where it becomes a serious and meaningful satire on contemporary issues. Efforts made in this connection by the Chacha and Bhatia duo are worth appreciating.


Pak writer turns nostalgic, rues plight of Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Doraha, October 25
Maqsood Saqib, a renowned writer and journalist from Pakistan, shared his views and musings on the linguistic crisis facing Indian as well as Pakistani Punjab with the students of Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, today.

Introduced by another Punjabi writer Gurpal Lit as a highly sensitive, thoughtful and revolutionary personality, Maqsood Saqib was able to move his listeners through his heart-rending examples.

He emphasised, "Our Punjab is a victim of linguistic alienation as our mother-tongue Punjabi is being meted out a step-motherly treatment that is proving adverse to the establishment of personal and healthy bonds between two Punjabs."

"We are divided by a border but our family is one as the thoughts, feelings and emotions shared by both Punjabs are the same. But the thing which ails our minds and hearts is that the tool of communication, in the form of mother tongue, is not being allowed to bloom," he lamented.

There are inhibitions, barriers and strong restrictions over the use of our own tongue and people look down upon this language, he said.

"It is yet in the evolutionary stage as most of the Punjabis are not able to write correct Punjabi. The language is limited primarily to the spoken level and that too in a most distorted manner," Maqsood saqib rued.

"We, as writers, are trying our best to work on a common linguistic front and trying to persuade people to come out of the given political framework being built by media and propagandists.

"Saqib further said that Writers are educating people that how despite external divisions, Punjabis on both sides of the fence share common human values, cultural and moral norms.

"Writers stress that Punjabs can be brought closer and we can be reunited through the use of mother tongue," he added. He also said that the people of this Punjab are moving away from their mother tongue which in his view is a sin.

He opined, "if our torch-bearers lose steam, we shall soon be rendered pathless and our hope of unification will be shattered ." He termed it as nothing less than genocide.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Prof. Balwant Singh Pangali, general secretary, College Management Committee.

Principal Jaswant Singh Gill, famous Punjabi writers Gurdial Dalal, Gurpal Lit, Swinder Rampuri, Swaran Pallah among others graced the occasion.


Indo-Pak cultural exchange programme soon,
says Bajwa

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 25
A special cultural exchange programme for the artistes and intellectuals of Indian and Pakistani Punjabs would be held at Jalandhar on November 19 and 20.

The Minister for PWD and Cultural Affairs, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, gave this information while talking to mediapersons here today. He will be visiting Pakistan very soon to finalise the arrangement for the proposed cultural exchange programme.

Mr Bajwa was here to preside over a cultural mela organised by the Panj Daria Cultural Society in the memory of late Satnam Singh Bajwa at Saraspur village.

Later, Mr Bajwa said with the Indo-Pak relations improving, chances were that the trade between the two Punjabs would increase which would benefit people living in the border districts.

He also said with the efforts of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, a direct bus service would be started for pilgrims wanting to visit Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives, while speaking on the occasion stressed on the need to strengthen rural cultural melas in the state.

These melas help to protect the rich cultural heritage of the state. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the Panj Daria Cultural Society that organised today’s mela.

The MLA from Dhariwal, Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, also attended the mela.


Documentary on Pakistani dances shown
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 25
“Lattoo”, a documentary on Pakistan’s dances, was shown at the Thakur Singh Art Gallery here last night.

Made by Faizaan Peerzada, the documentary shows the state of art in Pakistan. The dances like kathak and Sufi were presented in a enchanting way. The 90 minute documentary is a rare attempt by the Rafi Peer group, Lahore, to preserve the dances.

Usmaan Peerzada, Director of the group, said that the documentary was an effort to preserve the inherited dances from pre-partition era. Social taboos, religious lobbies and government policies had blocked the flowering of this art form by turn, he added.

He said for the past two decades all forms of dances especially classical, had faced incredible odds and remained without any exposure. The documentary tried to sort out the reasons for this cultural dilemma and paid tributes to a few dancers who had dedicated their lives to celebrate dance.


VB refutes allegation of harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Even as the Vigilance Bureau today refuted the allegations of harassing the family of petitioner in DSPs recruitment cases Jaskaran Singh, the Shiromani Akali Dal today came down heavily on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for unleashing “a reign of terror and vendetta”.

Addressing a press conference this afternoon, Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director of the Vigilance Bureau said it was wrong to suggest that they had swung into action after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the matter by Jaskaran Singh.

Giving details of the case, Mr Pandey said the PIL was filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 13 while a complaint supported by a joint affidavit dated November 13 last year was received by the Bureau on December 1, 2003.

He added that the matter was referred to Vigilance Bureau’s Ferozepore-based Superintendent of Police on December 12 last year — much before the PIL was filed.

In the complaint, it was alleged that one Partap Kaur was receiving old-age pension under a fictitious name through Punjab National Bank since 1997. During the course of inquiry it was found that Partap Kaur was getting pension by deceiving the government after conniving with Numbardar Kheta Singh and panch Balkaran Singh, along with other accused. They had verified the pension papers. Kheta Singh was Jaskaran Singh’s father and Balkaran Singh was his brother.

Meanwhile, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal said Jaskaran Singh was being targeted because he had initiated process which had led to exposure of corrupt practices in the state.


Munim beaten up, arthiyas go on strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 25
The arhtiyas of the local grain market today observed strike in protest against the alleged “beating up” of a “munim” of an arhtiya by another arhtiya here.

Reportedly they neither took part in the auction of the paddy nor they participated in the lifting of paddy from the shops by keeping their shops virtually closed today.

Talking to mediapersons here this afternoon, Mr Krishan Kumar, a “munim” of M/s Ravinderjit Singh Rajinder Kumar (commission agents), alleged that he had been “beaten up” today near Mastuana Sahib by some persons, led by Mr Avtar Singh, alias Tara, a commission agent of the local grain market, when he was coming back here from Changal village’s paddy purchase centre.

He alleged that he had been “beaten up” on the pretext of getting his firm’s paddy loaded first than Avtar Singh. He said when people started gathering, all accused fled away from the scene.

Mr Bhim Sain, president of the Sangrur Arhtiya Association, said they had started an indefinite strike from today in protest against the “beating up” of the “munim”.

He said the association had also decided that if the alleged accused were not arrested by the police soon, they would intensify their agitation.

Mr Bhim Sain said a complaint had been lodged against five persons, including Mr Avtar Singh, with the local police in this regard.


MC chief survives no-trust motion
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 25
Municipal Council chief Joginder Pal Jain today survived the second no-confidence motion brought against him within five weeks.

The rebels could only garner the support of 13 councillors as against 22 needed to pass the motion. The defeat of no-trust motion was imminent, as over six rebel councillors had switched sides a few days ago. It left the dissident camp below the halfway mark that was well short of nine members if they wanted to pass no-confidence motion in a 31-member House.

It wasn't a photo-finish like the last month when Mr Jain had survived the motion by a single vote.

Much to the chagrin of rebels this time Mr Jain had over half the number of councillors supporting him. Mr Jain said the councillors had voted for people's cause. Development works that had come to a grinding halt would be now resumed with a renewed vigour.

Reacting to their defeat, dissident leader, Naseeb Bawa, who had been spearheading a campaign against Mr Jain since mid-August, said they would not be bogged down by their defeat and would continue to work against the MC chief.

He alleged that Mr Jain had benami property worth lakhs through corrupt means and also took commission in various MC contracts, including those for octroi posts.

He said Mr Jain should resign on moral grounds, as corruption charges and vigilance probes against him had tarnished the party's image.


Sanitary goods damaged in fire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 25
Sanitary goods worth lakhs of rupees were reduced to ashes after the godown, situated on the Bathinda-Goniana main road, caught fire late last night due to an electricity short-circuit.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the godown of Aggarwal Sanitary Store caught fire at about 12.15 on the night of Sunday.

A person living in the neighbourhood of the godown informed the local fire engines. About four fire tenders were pressed into service to bring the flames under control.

This was the third major incident of fire due to short- circuit, in this town and its surrounding areas in a past one week.

Earlier, major fire incidents took place at a marriage palace and a cotton factory at Goniana town. Mr Sanjeev Kumar, owner of the godown, said that the godown was closed when it caught fire.

Mr Baldev Singh, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer (ADFO), Fire Station, Bathinda, when contacted, said that preliminary investigations revealed that godown caught fire due to an electricity short-circuit.


Piyush, Tejvir, Lakshay declared healthy babies
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
A healthy baby competition was organised by Kidzee here yesterday. Piyush, Tejvir Rehal and Lakshay were declared winners in the six months to one year, one to two and two to four year categories, respectively.

In the photogenic baby category, Yavraj Amar and Navkaran Singh bagged the first prize in the six month to one year category, while Ryan was declared first in the one to two year category. Hazel Khatra came first in the two to four year category.

In the fancy dress competition, Jap Sahaj was declared first in the junior group, while Sanchit emerged winner in the senior group.

More than 600 children participated in the competition. Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla was the chief guest. He gave away prizes to the winners.

Comedian Bhagwant Mann had the audience in splits with his wit and repartee.


Manak to be on AIR ‘Guldasta’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
The coming episodes of “Guldasta,” a popular programme of Akashvani Patiala will feature Punjabi folk singer Kuldeep Manak.

Programme Officer Karamvir Singh said the programme was a serialised interview with the folk singer and would focus on the contributions made by Kuldeep Manak towards the Punjabi culture and folk music.

Renowned personalities, including Surinder Kaur, Mohammad Sadiqque, Gurmit Bawa, Raj Gayak, Hans Raj Hans, film star and singer Harbhajan Mann, Pammi Bai, Hakam Sufi star of yesteryears will also participate in this programme.

This serialised programme will be broadcast from October 26 on every Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 pm. It will be anchored by Karamvir Singh and Angrez Sharma.


‘Siropa’ for wife of Nirmal Singh

Amritsar, October 25
The wife of Sikh youth Nirmal Singh, killed by masked robbers in the USA and whose ashes were brought to India after five months, was honoured with a “siropa” by SGPC member Jaswinder Singh .

Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC President, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, and Sikh associations from the USA, the UK and Canada paid tributes to the bravery of Nirmal Singh who was shot dead in Seattle (USA) while protecting his 10-year-old son, Jugraj Singh, from robbers. OC


Former MLA cremated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 25
Mr Surinder Singh, former MLA, who died last evening, was cremated with state honours at Majitha village today.

Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM, represented the district administration, while Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, SAD leader and Rajya Sabha member, and other leaders of different political parties laid wreaths on the body.


Naib Tehsildar among 19 booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 25
Following the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, 19 persons, including a Naib Tehsildar, have been booked for tampering with the records of the Revenue Department.

According to sources, advocate Nachhatar Singh Thind, in a writ filed in the high court, stated that he had bought a piece of land from one Sohan Singh in 1966.

A part of Sohan Singh’s land was under the Rajasthan feeder canal, while the rest was sold to him. After the death of Sohan Singh on July 20, 1990, some of his heirs tampered with the land records and showed a portion of his land under feeder canal and the rest in their name.

He alleged that this record tampering was done in connivance with the officials.

Taking serious note of Nachhatar Singh’s complaint, the court ordered the police to book 19 persons, including Naib Tehsildar Kuldip Singh, Kanungos Pritpal Singh and Gurdip Singh, and Patwari Bhupinder Singh, for fraud.

The police has registered a case against the accused under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, and 120 of the IPC. No arrests have been made so far.


Farmers gherao PSEB office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 25
Members of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) gheraoed the office of the Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in support of the farmers’ demands.

Mr Satnam Singh Pannu of the committee in a press release issued here today said that their demands included free canal water and electricity for farmers. He criticised the exploitation of farmers by the revenue and other departments. He claimed that farmers from 26 villages participated in the gherao.


Licences of 8 arhtiyas suspended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 25
During the on-going paddy procurement season, the licences of eight arhtiyas of various purchase centres and grain markets in this district have been suspended. The licences have been suspended on account of filling of unauctioned paddy in gunny bags, filling of uncleaned paddy in bags and non-covering of paddy with tarpaulins.

Ms Gurmeet Kaur Sidhu, District Food and Supply Controller (DFSC), here told The Tribune today that the SDM, Sunam, a couple of days ago, had suspended licences of four arhtiyas of Jakhepal village’s purchase centre for filling uncleaned and unauctioned paddy into the bags. She said the licences of these arhtiyas had been suspended on her recommendation, as this purchase centre had been allotted to the Pungrain, to procure the paddy.

Mr Ramesh Jindal, District Mandi Officer, here, told The Tribune that the licences of eight arhtiyas in the district had been suspended for committing various “irregularities” by them.

He said besides the suspension of licences of four Jakhepal village arhtiyas, the authorities had also suspended licences of two arhtiyas in Dhuri Grain Market, and one each in Mehlan and Sangatpura purchase centres. He further said the authorities suspended the licences of Dhuri and Mehlan’s arhtiyas for not using tarpaulins to cover the paddy, while the licence of the Sangatpura arhtiya had been suspended on account of filling uncleaned paddy into the bags.


Undertrial escapes, two cops behind bars
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 25
Gurpal Singh, who had been facing trial in a local court, after he was arrested in a narcotic smuggling case a few months ago, escaped from the police custody late last evening, while he was being brought back to the local central jail by two policemen from a function organised in connection with the death anniversary of his kin.

The two policemen, Head Constable Mohinder Singh and Head Constable Gurmukh Singh, who were accompanying the undertrial prisoner, were put behind bars after a criminal case was registered against them for negligence in carrying out their duty.

A case was also registered against Gurpal Singh for escaping from the police custody.


Murder accused arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 25
The police today arrested three persons involved in the Saudagar Ram Kala murder case, in which the deceased’s body was burnt to remove the evidence of the crime, from near the Guru Teg Bhadur Nagar.

According to the police, the main accused, Surjit Kumar Bitti, alongwith Harmesh Singh and Gurmit Singh, both residents of Abadpura locality, were arrested from the Guru Teg Bhadur Nagar area of Jalandhar.

Later, the arrested persons were produced in a local court, which remanded them in police custody till October 27.


One killed, one hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, October 25
A pillion-rider was killed while the scooter-driver was injured when a Tata Sumo jumped traffic lights and hit the scooter at the main chowk of Sahnewal, last night.

Rajneesh Pathak son of Randhir Pathak and Chander Mohan Sharma son of Tarsem Lal Sharma were crossing main chowk of Sahnewal on their scooter number (PB10AQ-3307) when a Tata Sumo coming from the opposite side (No. DL4C-J0433, being driven by Babli Singh son of Gian Singh of Meerut, jumped traffic lights, and injured two who were admitted to a local hospital where Chander Mohan Sharma succumbed to his injuries while Rajneesh Pathak is reported to be out of danger.

The deceased was a bachelor and the only brother of three sisters.

The Tata Sumo has been impounded and the driver arrested by the Sahnewal police and a case has registered against the driver of the Tata Sumo.


Three injured in road accident
Our correspondent

Bathinda, October 25
Three residents of this town, who were riding a scooter, were injured when a car hit their vehicle near Bhai Kanhaiya Chowk on the Bathinda-Goniana road last night.

Mr Gautam Goyal, spokesman, Sahara Jan Sewa, in a press note issued here today said that all the injured, Om Parkash, Lalan and Gurdial Singh, were rushed to the local Civil Hospital. He said Om Parkash and Lalan, who suffered multiple injuries,

In another case a mad person died at the railway ground. Volunteers of the club cremated the body.


Medical college faces de-recognition
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 25
To dodge a serious threat of de-recognition, the state government has transferred 23 doctors from Amritsar to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College here overnight and the management has gone on a renovation spree in view of an impending inspection by a Medical Council of India (MCI) team on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The MCI renews the recognition given to medical colleges every five years. Before giving recognition, an MCI team inspects the college and submits a report on the staff and infrastructure at the institution. GGS Medical College, Faridkot, and Rajindra Medical College, Patiala, would be inspected this week.

According to sources, the local medical college has neither adequate staff nor proper infrastructure to meet the requirements of the MCI. To get the recognition renewed, the government has transferred 23 doctors from Government Medical College, Amritsar, to Faridkot, while one doctor has been shifted from Patiala.

The buildings in bad shape are being repaired and the hostels are being painted afresh, besides clearing weeds on the campus.

However, the sources say that overnight recruitment and a fresh coat of paint would not conceal the realities, as the MCI already has information on the situation in the college. The council, aware of the college management’s plan, has sent a pro forma to all doctors in which they have to fill details like the date of joining, last 12 months’ salary and where it was withdrawn, electricity bill, telephone bill, and ration card, etc.

A few days ago the then acting college Principal, Dr Rajesh Rani, had written to the MCI, demanding postponement of the inspection as they needed more time for “preparation”.

The government has now appointed Dr Gita Sharma from Amritsar as the Principal. After taking over the charge, she held a meeting of staff members yesterday and asked them to be prepared for the MCI team’s visit.

The college has been facing a shortage of staff and infrastructure for the past several months. Students are apprehensive about the security arrangements in the hostels.

When contacted, Principal Gita Sharma admitted that doctors had been shifted to the college and said the repair work was on for the past few weeks and could not be done overnight.

While this exercise in aid of retaining the MCI recognition goes on, it’s the students whose future hangs in balance. They are hoping they would not have to swallow a bitter pill owing to the apathy shown by the government.


Varsity’s version sought in APRO case
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked Punjabi University to furnish its version vis-a-vis a complaint received by it regarding discrimination and harassment meted out to a former Assistant Public Relations Officer (APRO) who was ousted from his job after his post was abolished by the university.

A letter from the commission has asked the university to give its version on allegations levelled against it by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balwant Rai within 30 days of the receipt of the letter. The letter states that in case the university does not respond within the stipulated date, the commission will be forced to invoke constitutional power to deal with the matter.

Mr Balwant Rai, in a letter to the commission in July this year, had alleged that Punjabi University had violated the reservation policy of the government by abolishing a reserved post of APRO in the Public Relations Department. Mr Rai also alleged that APRO Harminder Singh Khokhar, who had been appointed on a reserved post in November, 2002, was harassed after Mr Swarn Singh took over as the Vice-Chancellor and was even made to work as ‘enquiry clerk’ in the examination branch and even as dairy despatch clerk later before his post was abolished.

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