P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



House allotment scandal unearthed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 10
Houses meant for the homeless have been allotted to people who already have got one besides migrant labourers and even a public sector employee in Rawas Brahman and Kartar Colonies on the outskirts of the city. Many of the allottees have sold off their houses or given them on rent.

According to an inquiry made by the District Welfare Officer into allotments made under the Indira Vikas Yojna for 43 houses in Rawas Brahman village and 30 houses in Kartar Colony, many of the allotments seem without merit. He has recommended an inquiry into the allotments which is to be conducted by the Secretary, Zila Parishad.

An on the spot inquiry into the allotments revealed that a number of allottees had sold off their houses. In case of Rawas Brahman village as many as seven persons were found to have sold off their houses to people of the same village as well as those of nearby villages. One of the allottees include Mahinder Singh, who works in Markfed, and should not have been allotted the house in the first place. He has since sold off the house.

In the case of another allottee, a relative of the original owner was found to be living in his place while in another case the courtyard had been bifurcated and sold off to a different party from the one which has purchased the built-up house.

In Kartar Colony the situation is no better. Here one Raj Kumari and her son, who were allotted two houses, are occupying one and have given the other on rent.

In a case of another house, the District Social Welfare Officer reported that the original allottee — Jagat Parkash — had gone to Bihar and the house had been sold to another person by Gagandeep Singh, a landlord under whom Jagat Parkash was working. The report said it was revealed that Jagat owed Rs 32,000 to the landlord, who had sold off the house to get the money.

In the same village one Rora of Shermajra village has built a house near the one allotted to him and stays there now. The house allotted under the scheme was found locked upon inspection by the district official. A few other houses were also found locked, including one which had been allotted to Shandi Devi who had left for Bihar soon after the allotment and never returned afterwards.

Residents of Rawas Brahman and Shermajra when questioned on the issue said a large-scale bungling had been done during the allotment of the houses. They alleged that some of the houses were allotted to migrant labourers working as servants in the fields of a landlord. They said others had been allotted houses on ‘sifarish’ without taking into consideration whether the allottee really came under the ambit of the scheme or not. They claimed that an inquiry into the matter would reveal further discrepancies.

Ironically, the scandal came to light when seven persons, who were displaced from the Motibagh forest by the Forest Department recently, pleaded with the district administration that they be allotted houses which were lying vacant in the two colonies situated close to the Motibagh forest.

The applicants had claimed that they were left homeless after they were rendered from their huts in the forest in which they had been residing since 30 years. The application resulted in a house hunt for them and the present scandal which is now being investigated by the Zila Parishad.


Foreign firm hired to restructure FCI
P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, November 10
The Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has hired an international consultancy, McKinsey, to “restructure’’ the Food Corporation of India and suggest, in six months, how it could get rid of “excess baggage’’.

While hiring McKinsey, the ministry was not unaware of the earlier studies on FCI, suggesting ways to make its operations economical, efficient and effective. If the recommendations of the Abhijit Sen committee on “long term grain policy — July 2002’’ are yet to see the light of the day, the fate is no better of the earlier report by the Hyderabad-based Administrative Staff College in March, 2001.

Even the World Bank report, “Foodgrain Marketing Policies: Reforming to meet Food Security Needs — August, 1999’’ stands ignored. And no one has cared to even read the comments on the role and performance of the FCI in the report, “Agricultural Production Pattern Adjustment Programme in Punjab for Productivity and Growth —October 2002’’ prepared by Dr S.S. Johl.

Since Punjab is a major stakeholder in foodgrain production-procurement, it must get fully involvement in the McKinsey study on the “restructuring’’ of the FCI.

A perusal of the recommendations of these reports reveals how the FCI is flawed. Yet, it controls foodgrain marketing, procurement, storage, transport, distribution and food security coupled with minimum support price (MSP) to ensure remunerative returns to farmers. Thus, New Delhi monitors, controls and regulates all this through the FCI. Over a period of time, rapid strides in foodgrain production have, on the one hand, created problems of handling the produce and, on the other hand, resulted in exorbitant costs that New Delhi incurred due to its foodgrain policies.

Taken together, successive foodgrain policies —subsidies, implicit interest rate subsidy to the FCI and value of physical losses in post-harvest handling of foodgrains — have been a heavy drain on the exchequer. There is massive pilferage from the open and covered storage yards of the FCI, besides theft on rails.

Also, foodgrains are wasted or damaged or rendered unfit in storage for lack of scientific techniques. There are foodgrain mafia and human predators, who compete with rodents and birds and inclement weather to disrupt the ‘target public distribution system’.

Take Punjab. Discrepancies to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore in food account and “missing’’ foodgrain stocks is another story. Out of five million tonnes wheat stored in Punjab every year, at least five lakh tonnes gets damaged. Despite complete details having been repeatedly submitted to New Delhi, there has been no reimbursement for this loss to the state procurement agencies.

These reports suggest the need to promote private sector involvement, given its efficiencies and investments, through FCI open market sales and market prices, modernising marketing operations and scientific handling of foodgrains, solving technical and managerial problems of FCI and, of course, revamping the public distribution system.

These reports also suggest that if the FCI operations centre around wheat and paddy procurement in Punjab, its writ too extends to only two or three states as farmers elsewhere did not get benefits of MSP.

Punjab is concerned over the future procurement of foodgrains and diminishing returns to its producers, majority small and marginal farmers.

Consequently, Punjab is paying the price for helping the country gain self-sufficiency in foodgrains and New Delhi seemed least concerned about future of agriculture and agriculturists in Punjab.

The state agencies invariably supplement the FCI in purchase of foodgrains. Punjab, however, is upset with the FCI because of inordinate delay over payment of costs incurred on procurement.


Defrauded by agent, man lands in Pak jail
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, November 10
“Our government has done nothing for our release. It only issues statements and nothing more”, this was written with heavy heart by Harish Sharma, a resident of Sharma Colony, Tarn Taran Road, in a letter to his family. Harish is now in Quetta jail in Pakistan for illegally crossing the border.

He reached there after he was defrauded by a fake travel agent, Bharpur Singh of Ludhiana. He wanted to go to Greece for job and left home just one month after his marriage.

Mr Manguram Sharma, father of Harish, said the agent took Rs 2.50 lakh in advance and all related documents. He said Bharpur sent his son on August 8, 2003. But he alleged that the accused had left Harish in Turkey from where he was thrown into the Iran territory.

The Government of Iran declared him an illegal immigrant and handed over to Pakistan, where (Pakistan) the police arrested him and sentenced to three months imprisonment.

The whole family is disturbed after receiving the news of his arrest by an anonymous caller from Pakistan. Mr Sharma said health of Harish’s wife and mother was deteriorating day by day. His imprisonment was completed earlier this year, but the government had done nothing for his release even after repeated requests.

It shows the Indian Government has failed to take any concrete measures for the release of prisoners in Pakistan jail. Mr Sharma gave a list of 67 Indians lodged in various Pakistan jails, including 31 in Kot Lakhpat, 22 in Muchh jail, 13 in Quetta and one in Rawalpindi jail.

Mr Manguram said he had written to the President and recently met with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh who gave assurances to take up the matter.

He urged the External Affair Ministry to take up the matter with the Pakistan government at the earliest.


Vedanti refuses to attend function at Cong Bhavan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 10
Even as the Congress today claimed that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, would participate in Bandi Chhod Divas to mark the release of 52 kings at the behest of Guru Hargobind, scheduled to be held in the District Congress Committee office here tomorrow, Jathedar Vedanti said he was not taken into confidence before the announcement of his name .

This is for the first time that the Congress had decided to celebrate the occasion in its bhavan, kicking off a debate. Many ‘kathawachaks,’ including Giani Sant Singh Maskeen and raagi jathas are expected to attend the function.

However, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress, said the Akal Takht Jathedar was morally bound to participate in religious functions organised by other political parties, too, since he had been attending the functions of the SAD.

Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, DCC president, hoped that Jathedar Vedanti would attend the function .

Jathedar Vedanti said had the function been organised in a gurdwara rather than a Congress bhavan, he would have participated.

Mr Gill said while other religious personalities agreed to attend the function, the Jathedar refused.

The Congress leaders said when Congress leader and then Union Home Minister, Mr Buta Singh and Giani Zail Singh, responded, to the summons sent by the Akal Takht Jathedar, it was a clear signal that the directives of the Sikh clergy were mandatory for every Sikh irrespective of his political affiliations. Similarly , it was the duty of the Jathedars to respond to the requests made by the Sikhs of other parties. 


How does the turban threaten the French, asks M.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Congress Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament M.S. Gill yesterday wondered why France was afraid of “chuni” that the Muslim girls used to cover their heads or how their uncovered heads would make France “safer” in any way.

The French ban on visible religious signs was intended to “target” the Muslims of Algeria origin, estimated at 7 million, now citizens in France and tackle Muslim fundamentalism. It has, however, also affected the Sikhs for whom the “turban” is neither a ‘’practice nor a cultural symbol. It is but a matter of religious faith’’.

Commenting on the raging controversy over the issue of turban, which had recently led to the expulsion of three Sikh school children, Dr Gill said he was distressed to see the compounding difficulties faced by the 6,000-odd Sikhs living in Paris. To tackle Muslim fundamentalism, the French had imposed the ban on wearing of “chuni” by Muslim girls after 9/11 and in the process the Sikh turban also came under its scanner.

Sympathising with their cause, Dr Gill told TNS that it seemed that New Delhi had not taken up the matter in all its seriousness with the French Government. Had it taken up the sensitive issue of allowing Sikh students to wear turbans to school, why does the Ministry of External Affairs not release all the correspondence that it has exchanged so far with Paris, he asked, adding, “I will shortly write Mr K. Natwar Singh on this issue and seek his intervention”.

Continuing, Dr Gill said no doubt India’s security adviser, Mr J.N. Dixit, had gone to Paris and discussed several crucial issues. And, perhaps, in passing he had also mentioned the turban controversy. Even the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had referred to Mr Dixit’s visit, when he visited Amritsar and addressed a congregation there. However nothing official about the whole issue has been heard’’.

He reminded the French President that it was the French Revolution in 1789 that had first talked of ‘’rights of man’’ and even the 1958 French Constitution was explicit when it says that it would ‘’ensure equality of all citizens before law without discrimination by origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs”.

“I am sure the French President will look into the issue of turban in a comprehensive manner and not just legally,” he added.

Dr Gill said the Sikhs in the entire world lived as ‘’good, law abiding and productive citizens’’ and did not create any problems for any government in Europe, the USA or elsewhere. They worked hard and contributed to the societies abroad. From Mr Bill Clinton to Mr George W Bush to Mr Tony Blair, all have recognised and acknowledged their contribution up to the economies of the countries, where they have set up second home.

The French are a great nation and should show greater confidence in the Sikhs and not let the issue hang fire indefinitely. On the face of it, French, including the ministers and Ambassador to India, were making all the right noises and sympathising with the Sikhs. Yet they had done nothing tangible.

Dr Gill had a poser for former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani as well: ‘’How come you have not spoken a word on this issue. Sure enough, the Sikhs are also your people”?


425 wards of slain cops given jobs
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Years after their parents or guardians were slain while crusading against militancy in the state or died in harness, 425 youngsters have been recruited by the Punjab police on compassionate grounds.

The sources in Punjab Police headquarters here reveal that the process of recruiting "dependents of officials who died while on duty" was spread over a period of four months.

They claim that the entire backlog has now been cleared. "Those who cannot be recruited under the category have been informed about the fate of their applications," the sources maintain.

An effort to expedite the process was made by senior Punjab Police officers, including the Inspector-General of Punjab Police (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta. The intention was to issue appointment letter before Divali, the sources assert.

Some of the cases were pending disposal for almost two-and-a-half years. The recruits include youngsters whose parents died in service 10 years ago.

Giving details of the appointments, the sources add that 419 candidates had been appointed as constables. Another four candidates have been issued appointment letters for the posts of assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs). Two inspectors have also been recruited under the category.

Out of the appointed candidates, 37 are wards of police officials killed by terrorists during the militancy. Three wards of Kargil war heroes have also been recruited by the police.

This is not all. As many as 35 candidates are being recruited as clerks on compassionate grounds. For the first time, the police is also taking "merit" into consideration for appointing candidates on humanitarian basis.

For the purpose, a written test was recently conducted. Besides computer literacy and typing skills, their knowledge of language was also gauged through comprehension passages.

"Over 180 applications were initially received. After conducting the test, 35 candidates were short-listed," the sources reveal. Norms laid down by the government and the courts for appointment on compassionate grounds are being adhered to while recruiting the candidates. "The intention is to recruit not only the aggrieved, but also the deserving", they insist.

A senior police officer says that the imposition of ban on recruitment in the state has no effect on appointments under the category. "Candidates can be nominated on compassionate grounds even if the ban is in force," the officer concludes.


Tribune Impact
Civil Surgeons asked to identify TB cases in slum areas
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 10
Acting upon the observations of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) with regard to a news item “1 lakh women face divorce due to TB”, published in The Tribune, the Director, Health Services, Punjab, Dr G.L. Goyal, has directed Civil Surgeons of the state to identify the slum areas in their respective districts, besides sending a list of TB cases to him.

The Director has also asked them to put all TB patients on directly observed treatment shortcourse (DOTS) immediately.

The Civil Surgeons have been told to establish a DOTS centre in every jail in their respective districts. District TB Officers have been directed to visit the jails in every district to identify inmates suffering from TB and for putting them on DOTS immediately. The Civil Surgeons have been asked to prepare lists of NGOs and ensure their active participation in the revised national TB control programme (RNTCP).

The Civil Surgeons have been told to send a list of private practitioners involved in the RNTCP, besides ensuring their participation and making them provide DOTS to TB patients referred by them.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Dr Goyal said he had written to the Civil Surgeons in this regard.

Dr Surinder Singla, District Chairman of the Mission TB Control Programme of District 321-F of the Lions Clubs International, said the involvement of the NGOs in the RNTCP was important to spread awareness.


Acts being reassessed to protect farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Amarinder Singh Government that has been resisting to accept that farmers had committed suicides during its ongoing tenure in Punjab, is busy in dusting the worn-out files to dig out old Acts, most of which have been in disuse, to protect farmers from money lenders and usurious loans.

Many of these Acts came under discussion at the meeting held today under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, to discuss the issue of suicides at length. All officers concerned of the Agriculture, Development, Revenue, Finance and Cooperative Departments, who attended the meeting, have been asked to go through these Acts to find out whether these can be enforced as such or some new comprehensive Act should be framed to deal with the problem of loans.

No detail of what was discussed at the meeting is available at the official level. In fact, officers concerned are not ready to speak on this issue. Informed sources said that inspite of the lengthy meeting, officers failed to reach on any concrete decision as far as providing any meaningful relief to the farmers, who are under heavy debt, is concerned.

In fact a number of officers attending the meeting have not been knowing which of the old Acts are in operation or repealed. Most of the Acts available in government records have been framed in pre-Independence era when the problem of loans hit the farming community hard, especially in Hisar, Rohtak, Mansa and Bathinda belt of the then joint Punjab. Laws were framed by the British Government to protect farmers following the prolonged agitation started by Sir Chhottu Ram in this part of the country.

Though the problem of indebtedness among the farming community has persisted even in the post-Independence period, no significant Act had been framed by the respective Punjab Governments to frame laws to protect the interest of the farming community.

Informed sources said that the state government had become alert on the issue of suicides only after the visit of a Union Government’s senior officer, Mrs B.K. Teja, to various parts of the Malwa belt, which has been more prone to suicides last month. Mrs Teja had been to various villages for personal interaction with kin of farmers, who ended their life by consuming poison.

The Punjab Government has officially admitted 2116 cases of farmers’ suicides since 1985. However, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, convener of the Movement Against State Repression, who has been working on this problem for years, says that the number of farmer suicides is in thousands and not in hundreds as the government claims. He said that about 50 suicides were being reported from most of the blocks every year. In fact Mr Jaijee has suggested to the Centre as well as the Amarinder Singh Government to enforce old Acts to protect farmers from the alienation of their land.

Legal experts say that several Acts were available to save farmers from money lenders but there is a need of the will power and commitment to force those Acts.


Leaders want Khanna to quit as BJP chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Certain Hoshiarpur district-based leaders of the BJP have intensified the campaign against the president of the Punjab unit of the party, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna. Informed party sources said that the pressure was being built party President, L.K. Advani to remove Mr Khanna from the presidentship of the state BJP.

One strong group of the BJP leaders in Hoshiarpur, the home district of Mr Khanna, is working against him. Sources said that the anti-Khanna lobby had requested Mr Advani to reorganise the Punjab unit immediately to gear up party activities.

This group says that at present Mr Khanna is holding two positions. He is Member of Parliament and also president of the state unit. He should be asked to quit the presidentship of the state unit.


Sekhwan demands repoll at 12 places
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 10
A former SAD minister and a candidate from the Gurdaspur SGPC constituency, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, yesterday demanded a repoll in booths at 12 places.

Addressing a press conference here, he alleged booth capturing at polling booths at Butter Kalan, Sidhwan, Tibber, Bhaiyan, Bhulechak, Barnala, Chowan, Thanda Labana, Nanuwal Khurd, Kanuwan and Dhikriwal villages and two booths in Gurdaspur city.

Mr Sekhwan said he had written to the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, for a repoll at these booths.

He alleged the policemen on duty at these booths picked up his agents and resorted to bogus voting. It was strange that though the overall voting percentage was just 50 per cent, the polling in the said booths touched 80 per cent. Even the seal of ballot boxes brought from Dhikriwal was found to be broken.


State executive of Youth Cong recast
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 10
Punjab Youth Congress president Raminder Singh Awla has reconstituted the state executive of the PYC and appointed 12 vice-presidents, 19 general secretaries and seven secretaries for its smooth functioning. Stating this, Mr Awla told newsmen here today that the appointed state office-bearers are vice-presidents Mr Ajay Karan Singh (Gurdaspur), Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak (Nawanshahr), Mr Anumit Sodhi (Guru Harsahai, Mr Upinder Singh Gill, (Moga), Mr Raman Dutta (Jalandhar), Mr Mohanpaul Singh (Amritsar), Mr Vijyandar Singla and Mr Rajneesh Shorie (Patiala), Mr Sajjan Singh Dhillon (Muktsar), Mr Sunil Kapoor (Ludhiana), Kartik Vadhera (Gurdaspur)) and Mr Harjit Singh Sangha (Jalandhar).

General Secretaries: Mr Jatinder Chopra of (Jalandhar), Mr Ranbir Bhullar. (Ferozepore), Mr Paramjit Batra (Amritsar), Mr Dimple Rana (Ludhiana), Mr Jasbir Singh (Mansa), Mr Jaswinder Singh (Faridkot), Dr Harjot Kamal (Moga), Mr Rabdir Singh and Mr Narinder (Bathinda), Mr Rajesh Babla (Sangrur), Mr Gursharanbir Singh, (Moga), Mr Randhir Singh and Mr Parveen Vishnoi (Mukatsar), Mr Inderpaul Singh and Mr Sukhwant Brar (Ferozepore), Sunil Bitta and Mr Harwinder Nibba of (Patiala) and Mr Javinder Mahajan (Gurdaspur).

Secretaries: Mr Amrinder Singh Tikka of Ferozepore), Mr Manmeet Singh (Moga), Prince Khullar (Amritsar), Mr Nirpal Virk and Mr Hardip (Ludhiana), Mr Nitin Sharma (Batala) and Mr Dhami (Sangrur).


VB inquiry against Drainage Dept officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
State Vigilance Bureau has ordered an inquiry against officials of Sangrur’s drainage department for committing irregularities in a tender floated on January 29 January last year. They allegedly connived with the contractors and caused a huge loss to the state exchequer.

Disclosing this here yesterday, a spokesman of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, said that a thorough probe had been initiated against Mansa’s Naib Tehsildar Baljinderpal Kaur Brar for registering land sale deeds below the listed rates fixed by the District Collector. He further added that Naib Tehsildar of Jalandhar Range Harpal Singh, too, had been booked for amassing huge wealth beyond his known sources of income.

Meanwhile, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau A.P. Pandey held a state-level crime meeting with Vigilance Range Officers today. He reviewed the progress reports and asked the officers to dispose off all pending vigilance inquiries and complaints within a stipulated time. He directed them to keep a strict vigil to check corruption in the sensitive public dealing departments.

Mr Pandey further said that the Vigilance Bureau had put up its best efforts to eradicate corruption amongst public servants and others in every sphere in the State. 


DM imposes restrictions on sale of crackers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 10
Alarmed with the death of three children at Sriganganagar, 40 km from here, late last evening in a fire at roadside stall of crackers, the District Magistrate today imposed some restrictions on the sale of crackers here but the traders flouted the same in a big way.

According to reports available, a burning cracker hit the stock at a roadside stall at Sriganganagar yesterday leading to a fire that spread speedily gutting many stalls and injuring scores of buyers and passersby. Three children succumbed to burns later and others were fighting for life at the Civil Hospital.

The district administration today warned the citizens that shopkeepers on the circular road, in the heart of subdivisional town, were permitted to sell minor crackers only. Others would have to put their stalls in the sprawling Nehru Stadium. The shopkeepers were asked to get proper license for the sale of crackers from the authorities.

However, a visit to the circular road, Sahitya Sadan road, Jain Nagar road, Old Fazilka road and other markets in the residential areas revealed that all kinds of crackers were on sale at the temporary stalls.

According to a survey, nearly half of the 35-ft wide road on the periphery of the old Mandi, had been temporarily encroached for the last two days. The municipal authorities were silent to the queries whether the stall owners had paid the requisite fee to the council. Interestingly a lot of hue and cry was made by some persons, including vested interests, over stocks of crackers in residential areas last month, but the officials did not initiate any action. Now the same was on display in each corner of the town that had improper fire-fighting equipment.

The employees of the municipal fire brigade were quoted yesterday as saying that they had been purchasing diesel for the tankers from their own pockets as the bills awaited clearance. The tanker-lorry was in poor condition terming it mechanically unfit.

Another alarming factor was the total disappearance of the traffic police from the city roads and crossings. As the one-way traffic on the Gaushala road and Old Tehsil road could no longer be continued due to non-availability of policemen, traffic jams had become a common feature on the eve of Divali.


Firecracker godown in congested market
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, November 10
Even as the district administration has warned of strict action against the firecracker sellers storing stocks in densely populated areas, a few traders are openly flouting the norms here.

A trader has kept firecrackers worth lakhs at a godown in Shastri Market. The market having congested roads is located in the heart of the town. The traffic scene further worsens during the festive season with people thronging the market for shopping.

Requesting anonymity, some traders say that they are doing their business in persistent fear as there are hardly any firefighting arrangements at the godown. This is despite the fact that the administration has taken stern measures to ensure safety of people in festive season.

The administration has got signed affidavits from those dealing in firecrackers’ business that they would sell a limited quantity of firecrackers in their shops located in thickly populated localities and that they would have proper firefighting measures.

The traders don’t seem to have learnt any lesson from the past. On November 4, 2002, six members of a family were killed following a blast in a firecracker factory at Sirsadi village near here.

Last year also two labourers died in an explosion at an illegal firecracker factory at Prem Nagar here.

Figures suggest that there is considerable rise in the number of fire incidents in the Divali season.

The Fire Station at Kotkapura seems to be ill-equipped to handle any eventuality in this market. According to sources, the station has only three fire engines and in case of any untoward incident they would take at least 25 to 30 minutes to enter the market.

Keeping in view the location of the market half an hour can cost dear.

Fire Officer Satnam Singh, admitted that their fire engines could not enter the market until they receive some help from the traffic police in clearing the road.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner, Alok Shekhar said that ensuring people’s safety was the prior responsibility of the administration and he would take all the necessary steps for the same. The DC said that the Faridkot SDM, Mr Mohan Lal, had inspected some firecracker godowns recently and he had asked him to look into the matter.


Traders sell crackers illegally
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 10
Two days prior to Divali, none of the local traders have not applied for permission to sell crackers and fireworks at specified places in the town. Meanwhile, the local police has warned the prospective vendors against unauthorised storage of explosive materials.

The SDM office at Malerkotla, revealed that non of the local traders had sought permission to sell crackers. Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, had imposed restrictions on the sale and storage of these materials in the thickly populated commercial and residential areas of the town including Malerkotla, Amargarh and Dhuri.

Open space behind M.G.M.N. Senior School and the space near Tube Well number 3 were earmarked for the sale of fireworks from November 5 till November 20. But none of the traders applied for permission for selling crackers there. A public announcement was also made warning the prospective vendors against the unauthorised sale and storage of restricted materials.

It was revealed that some traders had bought large quantities of crackers from Ludhiana and Kilaraipur.

Meanwhile, the residents here have begun making Divali purchases from Ludhiana for the fear of not getting good variety of fire works here. 


Centre to ‘restructure’ procurement credit
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Centre has agreed to step in to "restructure" Rs 4,000 crore food credit availed of by Punjab from the banks for foodgrain procurement over the years. This money, however, was "diverted" elsewhere. The banks had also realised that there were "no stocks" with Punjab to back up these loans.

Meanwhile, Punjab, has come out clean on the "irregularities" in food account by setting up a separate budget head. And the issue of restructuring is expected to be clinched next week.

These banks had recently represented to the Reserve Bank of India seeking a way out of the sticky loan. Following a series of meetings between stakeholders, the Centre had agreed to restructure this huge sum by converting it into long-term "clean term loan".

It is to ink the terms regarding repayment of this "clean term loan", that the state's Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakahnpal, would go to Mumbai on October 19.

Mr Lakahnpal, could not be contacted today. Punjab, it is learnt, had suggested a tenor of nine-and-a-half years on repayment of the loan with a moratorium of one-and-a-half years. It would negotiate on the rate of interest to be paid and also decide on the quantum of equal monthly instalments. Given the range of rates of interest, Punjab had suggested 8 per cent.

Adequate food credit is essential to run the procurement operations during kharif and rabi. Even the state agencies seek credit to purchase foodgrains on behalf of the Food Corporation of India, which later reimburses them to enable them pay back the loans. The real problem has been with loans advanced against non-existent stocks that were seldom audited.

Sources told TNS that during the past meetings, the Centre had told the banks concerned not to doubt the credibility of Punjab, as they were apprehensive of repayments and had insisted that the Centre stand guarantee and deduct money from the financial assistance it gave to Punjab in case of default in payment. This has not happened anywhere else. "Nevertheless, Punjab credentials are strong."

Meanwhile, Punjab has successfully convinced the Centre to exempt it from debt swap scheme for the remaining months of the current financial year and allow it to keep all proceeds from the small savings it would collect. 


Bibi Amrik Kaur’s arrest sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 10
Col G S Sandhu, (retd) president of the Poohla Eviction Committee and chairman, Majha Ex-servicemen Human Rights Front yesterday opened front against Bibi Amrik Kaur, a close associate of controversial Nihang chief, Ajit Singh Poohla who was an undertrial in many criminal cases, including three murder, one attempt to murder in Ludhiana.

In a press conference held here yesterday, Col Sandhu said Bibi Amrik Kaur was making frantic efforts to bribe and influence key witnesses asking them to not to depose against them.

He alleged that she, along with Gurbachan Singh of Poolha village, was a partner with the Nihang chief in committing crimes and were evading arrest on murder charges by the Moga and Nawanshahr police. He alleged that she enrolled her brother and two sons in the Punjab Police though they lacked the minimum basic qualifications. He said this was brought in notice of the IG, Zonal, Mr S K Sharma, and investigations were in progress.

He alleged that Bibi Amrik Kaur, in connivance with the Bhikhiwind police, had managed to plough in and destroy about one and half acres of poppy crop being grown by the controversial Nihang in the Gurdwara Complex at Poohla village. He alleged that a police official of the Bhikhiwind police had taken samples of the plants but no action was taken thereafter.

He demanded the immediate arrest of Bibi Amrik Kaur and other accomplices of the Nihang chief, who were roaming freely and trying to influence the witnesses in various criminal cases against Ajit Singh Poolha.


Serving for years sans appointment letter
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 10
Lecturers of JRMAB College of Pharmacy here have alleged harassment at the hands of the management. In a complaint to the Punjab Vigilance, a copy of which was provided to The Tribune, all five lecturers of the college have alleged that though they have been serving in the college for years, they have not been issued any appointment letters.

They have been serving as external and internal examiners for various government examinations. Though they are paid the salary through cheques, the management forces them to return the amount. A lecturer is paid a salary cheque for Rs 12,720, but the management forces him to return Rs 8,720 to them, they have alleged in their complaint.

As per the rules of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the management has to keep lecturers on a permanent basis for running the pharmacy course.

However, all lecturers serving here are unaware of their status as they have not been issued any appointment letters.

Whenever, the lecturers try to raise their voice regarding the injustice being meted to them, they are threatened with the termination of service without any notice. The lecturers in the college are being treated worse than daily wagers, they alleged.

The director of college, Mr A.K. Singal, and general secretary of the management committee of the college, Mr Vijay Dogra, said the charges of the lecturers as baseless.

As per the new rules of the provident fund employee the deduction of provident fund from the salary of employees drawing more than Rs 6500 per month was not mandatory.

About allegation that the major portion of the salary was taken back, Mr Singal said the salary was paid to employee through crossed cheques. However, if they pay it back to someone it was their headache.


Folk artistes fall on bad days
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 10
Dhadhi singer Des Raj Lachkani often has to take up the spade rather than the ‘toomba’ musical instrument to work on agricultural fields at Lachkani village, near here. He is lucky if he gets to distribute marriage cards during festive days. Getting programmes for displaying his talent as a bard is rare even though he is a fifth-generation dhadhi singer.

So is the case with numerous other folk artists who took part in a folk music festival, which is held here every year because it is sponsored by a group of NRI doctors who have made the propagation of Punjabi folk traditions their mission

The Punjab Heritage Foundation formed by a handful of these NRIs, including Dr Shivdev Singh Sidhu and Dr Rachpal Singh Aujla, held the fourth such festival at the Punjabi University on Monday.

Though folk artistes are a dejected lot, they are far from throwing in the towel. “Dhadhi singing is in my blood”, says Lachkani. Lachkani came here today accompanied by his sons, Surjit Khan and Rawail Khan, and grandsons Mitha and Iqbal Mohammad.

“I can sing different ‘kissas’ of Heer for a week at a time”, says noted Sufi Dhadhi Idu Sharif who had also come to participate in the festival. Idu is named after his father and is currently revelling in the fact that his brother's grandson, Alam, won top honours at a youth festival competition in Bathinda by singing a Sufi rendition penned by him.

Idu is pained at the fact that none of the promises made to folk artistes is honoured.'” A former Governor announced that I would get Rs 5,000 a month by teaching ‘sarangi’ and ‘dhadhi’ singing to students of a high school at Mani Majra in Chandigarh but nothing came of it”, he says. Idu is, however, still lucky.

He has been given an allowance of Rs 2,000 per month for a year under a central government scheme to train his skill to students at his Mani Majra home.

“There is no government or institutional patronage to folk traditions any longer,” says Sadhu Khan, who heads a party of “Nakals” who are adept at reciting religious dramas, besides comedy items, including the age old “bhand” show.

Sadhu Khan says his group makes a living by performing at religious stages of various Sants and Babas of the Malwa region. “Lack of patronage has discouraged the new generation and my grandsons are now more keen to set up a shop or even do menial work than follow the family tradition,” he adds.

Other folk artists of various dying forms are no better, says Dr Rajinder Gill of the Music Department of Punjabi University, which coordinated the entire show. He says after the death of Baba Pokhar Singh, his son, Kulwant Singh, was continuing with the traditional “Jhoomar” dance despite financial constraints. “So is the case with artists like Chiragdin Tibbawala and party who are among the few who still play on the ‘Toomba’ and ‘jodi’, traditional folk instruments.

He said the university was making digital recording of the performances so as to preserve the dying art forms even if on the micro chip.


Cong MP demands relief for Malta victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Not all families of the 200 poor Punjabi boys who froze to death in the icy sea off the Greece coast some years ago have been given adequate relief by the state. Many of them continue to represent but to no avail.

Recently several such families of that tragic Malta boat incident approached the Congress MP, Dr M S Gill for help. He, in return, wrote to the Chief Minister,

Capt. Amarinder Singh requesting that the state must extend maximum possible help to the victims of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts.

Apart from ''acknowledgement'' of the letter from Dr Gill saying that the government would ''examine'', so far, nothing tangible has been done.

Dr Gill told TNS that when the tragedy occurred, he was Chief Election Commissioner. Upset over the stoic silence of the state and its political, social and religious leaders or for that matter NGOs, he had at that time spoken for relief to the families of the poor youth who had frozen to death.

''The then Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal responded and gave

Rs 50,000 each to 60-odd families of the victims at that time. This amount is too little. I feel that in all fairness, at least Rs 2 lakh each should be given to all, both old ones and around 70 -80 cases, who have not received anything, so far, not even Rs 50,000''.


Conference on human rights from Nov 19
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 10
More than 25 delegates from all over the world, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the USA, England, Iran, Nigeria and Ghana, are likely to participate in a three-day international conference on “Human rights in the age of Globalisation” to be held at DAV College of Education for Women here from November 19.

Stating this at a press conference here on Monday, Dr Aruna Anand, director of the conference and Principal of the college, said the delegates included eminent journalists, lawyers, doctors, teachers and intellectuals.

The Principal said that the conference was being held with a view to bringing together the international community on a common platform.


Holy book not kept according to ‘maryada’
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 10
During a raid by the police on a disputed house in Ranjit Nagar here it was found that Shri Guru Granth Sahib had not been kept in accordance with the maryada inside the building.

A family dispute over property was going on and the house was kept locked most of the time.

Reacting to the situation, Giani Narinder Singh, convener of the Khalsa Panchayat, and Mr Preet Kanwal Singh, president of the Sikh Culture Welfare Society, have approached the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the SGPC President, to get an inquiry done into the matter and also to take action against the guilty.

It is learnt that residents of the area met the police to seek permission to shift Shri Guru Granth Sahib from the disputed house to a nearby gurdwara. 


Employees’ rally on December 17
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Accusing the Central Government of not reversing its “anti-people” and “anti-employee” policies, the All India State Government Employees Coordination Committee today declared that a massive rally would be held in Chandigarh on December 17.

Addressing a press conference this morning, the members disclosed that the rally would be held on the eve of a two-day “national conference” being organised to seek the reversal of such policies. Delegates from 17 states were expected to attend the conference.


104-yr-old Swami Sarvanand cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 10
Mortal remains of Dayanand Math chief Swami Sarvanand Saraswati were consigned to flames this afternoon at Dinanagar near here, amid chanting of “Vedic Mantras”.

Swami was born on April 12, 1900, at Rewari in the house of Hardyal Singh. He was named by his mother, Phoola Devi, as Shri Ram Chander. He devoted his whole life for the upliftment of the Arya Samaj.

Thousands of people, including religious leaders, politicians, gathered at the time of his cremation. Prominent among those who attended the cremation was Swami Satyam, President, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Mr. Chander Mohan Sharma, Editor-in-Chief, Veer Partap, Dr Swatantar Murgai, Registrar Gurukal Kangri, Haridwar, Mr Sudarshan Sharma, President, Arya Samaj Pratinidhi Sabha, and others.

A special place was chosen opposite the Math for his cremation. Floral tributes were paid to the departed soul by thousands who were present. According to reports schools and colleges belonging to DAV of the northern region remained closed today as a mark of respect and hundreds of devotees have sent their condolence messages.

Swami Sarvanand Saraswati ji passed away on Tuesday.

Shrdhanjali Samaroh will be held tomorrow, said spokesman of the Dayanand Math.


Centenary function by armoured brigade
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 10
The 2 (1) Armoured Brigade today organised its centenary celebrations. To commemorate the raising of the oldest armoured formation of the Indian Army a centenary sainik sammelan was organised here today.

Serving and retired senior officers of the Indian Army, who had commanded this brigade, addressed the sammelan. The officers who addressed the brigade included Major-Gen Varinder Singh (retd), an octogenarian, who had commanded this brigade about four decades ago.

In his address Major-Gen Varinder Singh said that the armoured brigade took part in both the world wars and wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.

On the occasion, the General unveiled a special centenary banner that was a symbol of the rich heritage and traditions of the brigade.

The other veteran Generals also shared their views on the various events and operations conducted by the brigade.

The present commander of the brigade, Brig A.K. Pathak, exhorted the jawans to keep up the traditions set by the veterans of the brigade.


‘Apna Hissa’ adjudged best play
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 10
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, excelled on the second day of the three-day inter-zonal youth festival of Punjab Technical University today. The college Principal, Dr D.S. Hira, said Punjabi play, “Apna Hissa,” staged by the college was adjudged as the best play. More than 90 college affiliated to PTU staged plays.

Dr Hira said that college student Prabdeep Singh was declared the best actor in the men’s category and college student Aarti Prashar was given the best actor award in the girl’s category.

Prof Gurpal Singh, coordinator, Cultural Affairs of the college, said other students who won awards were: Classical Instrumental solo (non-percussion) — Navtej Singh, I; Light Vocal Solo — Navtej Singh, I; Western Vocal solo — Vineet Ambardar II. The college won the first position in the Arts competition and second in the classical dance.

Mr Gurpal Singh said all winners would be honoured in the college annual function. He said the college would host a dinner for the teachers in charge of various events and participating students.


Kidney case goes to fast-track court
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 10
The District and Sessions Judge has transferred as many as 14 cases, including the infamous kidney case, to the Fast-Track Court.

The order of the judge reads that all the cases along with their connected cases, if any, stand withdrawn from pending file of the court of Mr M.S. Chauhan, Additional Sessions Judge and are hence transferred to Mr Dhian Singh, Additional Sessions Judge (Ad hoc), Fast-Track Court, for disposal in accordance with the law.

The Sessions Judge has also ordered to send record of the cases to the Fast-Track Court.

Earlier, a case under Section 302, IPC, was registered against certain doctors of a private hospital here on the charge of disposing of a body of Sudesh Kumar who had donated his kidney to a Mathura-based unrelated person in 2001. However, the police took about a year to frame charges and file a charge sheet in the court . The court then started the trials after framing charges in August.


High Court
Notice Issued
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 10
A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice SS Nijjar and Mr Justice JS Narang on Tuesday issued notice for December 4 on a petition filed by Dr Avtar Singh, Senior Medical Officer, Sirhind Mandi, challenging the order of Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab to initiate disciplinary action against him.

The petitioner has stated that action is proposed to be initiated against him as he took action against one Ms Amarjit Kaur, a multi-purpose health worker, for having allegedly submitted a fake date of birth certificate while applying for the post.

The petitioner has stated that after being caught, she took retirement.

However, Dr Avtar made representation to the higher authorities after they said that additional certificates submitted by Mr Amarjit Kaur had revealed that she was not at fault.

Later, Dr Amarjit was given a letter saying that the tampering of records in this case seemed to have been done by him and action should be initiated against him.

In his petition, Dr Amarjit has contended that instead of taking action against the guilty person, the department was making him pay for doing his job with honesty and dedication.

The case will come up on December 4.


344 cases settled in Lok Adalat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 10
As many as 344 out of 465 cases were disposed of at a Special Lok Adalat organised in the Patiala Sessions Division today. The adalat also passed awards worth Rs 66 lakh.

District and Sessions Judge S.M.S. Mahil disclosed that legal aid assistance had been provided to 2,831 persons in the Sessions Division and more than 42,000 cases had been disposed of in the 393 Lok Adalats held in the division. Mr Mahil appealed to members of the gram panchayat and municipal councils to convey the benefits of the Legal Aid Scheme and the concept of Lok Adalats to more and more people.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh, while addressing the gathering exhorted mediapersons to help the courts in the reducing the pendency of cases by highlighting the advantages under the scheme and settlement of their cases through Lok Adalats.

Senior Superintendent of Police A.S.Rai also praised the Legal Services Authority for conducting a seminar in Central Jail, Patiala, and at the maximum security Jail in Nabha as a result of which 132 applications had been filed for legal assistance. He also opined that the approach of the people should be positive so that cheap and fast justice was provided to the masses.

Mr P.S. Dhanoa, Civil Judge (Senior Division) -cum-secretary, Legal Services, appealed to members of legal fraternity to contest at least one case every year free of cost to help the poor.

Mr Rakesh Gupta, president of the District Bar Association, assured that every member of the association would extend full cooperation to make the scheme successful and would provide free help to the poor.


Smuggler arrested with smack worth Rs 10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 10
The Gurdaspur police has arrested Deepak Kumar, a resident of Surajpur Mohtali area of Himachal Pradesh, on the charge of smuggling smack.

In a press release issued here today, the SSP, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said that the accused was arrested from a naka and smack worth Rs 10 lakh was seized from him.

During interrogation the accused revealed that he used to bring smack from Muradabad of UP and sell it in Pathankot.

A case under the NDPS Act was registered against the accused.


Plan to commit dacoity foiled
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 10
The police has arrested six persons who were planning to commit a dacoity last night.

According to the police, a police party posted at a naka near Landran Chowk got a secret information that some persons, armed with weapons and ammunition, were assembling in a choe near Chaparchiri village for committing a dacoity.

Soon the police came into action and arrested the persons. They are Zila Singh, alias Chotu, Ram Kumar, Joginder Singh, Rajiv Kumar, alias Raju, Sunil and Balram Singh. The police recovered a country-made pistol, three live cartridges and five metal rods from them.

A case under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC was registered against the arrested persons.


Gang of robbers busted, 3 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 10
The district police claims to have busted a seven-member inter-district gang of robbers and chain snatchers with the arrest of its three members and recovery of snatched gold chains.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, said here today members of an inter-district gang of robbers had gathered at a secluded spot near Nangal Shama village and were planning to commit robbery. A raid was conducted and three members were arrested from the spot, whereas four of their accomplices escaped. Those arrested are Jaswinder Singh, Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar.


2 hurt as scooter, truck collide
Our Correspondent

Lalru, November 10
Jai Kishan, son of a press photographer, sustained injuries when a truck rammed into his scooter on the Kalka-Ambala highway near Dappar village this afternoon.

Jai Kishan, along with his cousin Amit, was riding a scooter when the truck (HR-37A-7685) hit the scooter knocking the riders down. The police has impounded the vehicles and a case under Sections 279, 338 and 427 of the IPC has been registered against the truck driver at Lalru police station. 


300 students participate in knitting contest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 10
Vardhman Spinning and General Mills Limited, Ludhiana, organised a zonal-level “Vardhman aao bune knitting contest” to promote the age-old art of knitting in the complex of Mandir Sri Mansa Devi here today.

About 300 students of Classes VI to XI from 21 schools of Sangrur, Barnala, Dhuri and Malerkotla towns participated in the contest. During this contest, the students knitted beautiful patterns, caps, booties and miniatures of purses and bags with the colourful yarn provided by the Vardhman company.

Mr Suresh Bhalla, manager (marketing), said 10 best patterns from each category had been shortlisted for the final evaluation phase. The state-level winners would be decided in Ludhiana by a panel of judges in January 2005, he added.

The top three selected entries in each category per state would be awarded cash prizes of Rs 5,100, Rs 3,100 and Rs 2,100 for the first, second and third positions, respectively, he added.


PTU youth festival concludes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 10
The three-day annual inter-zonal youth festival of Punjab Technical University concluded at DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology here today.

The participating teams from three zones exhibited their talents par excellence as they vied with each other for various cultural, literary and fine arts events.

The audience was mesmerised with the enthralling folk dance performed to the tune of bhangra beats. The function was concluded with the prize-distribution ceremony.

Mr C.L. Kochher, Director and Principal, welcomed the dignitaries and officials from various institutions.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, and Mr Jaspal Singh, Programme Coordinator (Cultural Affairs), and principals of the participating institutes were present on the occasion.

Results of the events : Punjabi folk song : DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar (1), and MIM Institute of Technology, Malout (2).

Indian group song : MIM Institute of Technology, Malout (1), and Lovely Institute of Management, Phagwara, and DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar (2).

Mime : DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar, and Apeejay Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar (1), and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib and Punjab College of Technical Education, Ludhiana (2).

Mimicry : DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar (1), and AIET, Faridkot (2).

Debate : Punjab College of Technical Education, Ludhiana (1), and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib (2). Elocution : DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar (1) and Punjab College of Technical Education, Ludhiana (2).

Quiz : GTB Institute of Engineering and Technology (1), and Punjab College of Technical Education (2).

Painting : Punjab College of Technical Education (1), and DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology (2).

Cartooning : Punjab College of Technical Education, (1) and BIS Institute, Gagra (2).


Pathankot girl to attend US conference

Pathankot, November 10
A local girl, Ms Navdeep Kaur Bajwa, a Senior Search Fellow in the Department of Physics, Panjab University, and now working in collaboration with the Nuclear Sciences Centre, New Delhi, and a laser Physics Division Centre for Advance Technology, Indore, has been invited to the USA to participate in a conference organised by the Malaria Research Society.

It will be held from November 29 to December 3 this year.


Jalandhar college lifts overall trophy
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 10
Government College of Education, Jalandhar, won the overall trophy in the two-day Zonal Youth Festival of Educational Colleges of GNDU which concluded on Monday.

DAV College of Education, Amritsar, was the runners-up while Khalsa College of Education, Amritsar bagged the third position.

Mr Pritam Singh Bhogal, Chairman, REC Phagwara, and Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, Director, Youth Welfare, GNDU, Amritsar gave away the prizes.

Contestants from Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Nawanshahr and Pathankot educational colleges participated.


Children’s Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 10
A cultural function was organised at Little Flower Public Senior Secondary Public School here today on the occasion of Divali and Children’s Day.

Mr Mohinder Pal Singh, Principal of the school, said that to build confidence among the students and to broaden their outlook, the cultural function was organised.

He said that academic classes, sports and cultural programmes were the vital components for the development of personality of students.

Mr Ravinder Singh Mann, Principal, Dashmesh Public School, was the chief guest.

Students presented cultural items.

They were given gifts. Former students of the school were also honoured at the function.

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