P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rodrigues sworn in Punjab Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Former Chief of the Army Staff General Sunith Francis Rodrigues (retd.) was sworn in as Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator by the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, this afternoon.

He replaced Justice O.P. Verma to become the 32nd Governor of Punjab. General Rodrigues is the second Army Chief to be administered oath as Governor after Gen O.P. Malhotra’s year-long stint.

The impressive, yet simple, ceremony started “a few seconds before time” with state Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill reading out the warrant of appointment issued by the President.

The Governor swore in the name of God that he would “faithfully” discharge his functions. The ceremony was followed by the national anthem and guard of honour by Punjab Police personnel. The National Flag was also hoisted.

Soon after the ceremony, the Governor was congratulated by the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He was also greeted by his former colleagues. Among those present on the occasion were Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kewal Krishan, along with his Cabinet colleagues and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Senior bureaucrats, police and military officers also attended the ceremony.

Following Justice Verma’s resignation, Haryana Governor A.R. Kidwai had been discharging the duties of Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator, in addition to his own functions.

Talking to the media soon after the ceremony’s conclusion, the Governor said: “Together we can and will make a difference”. The Governor added that he believed in “co-ordinated efforts, and not individual functioning”.

He asserted that as of now he had no grand plans, only ideas of his own which he would like to implement. “I have come here with a great deal of humility and my first task would be meet a lot of people. I will be sharing their perception about development and other needs in Punjab”.

The Governor insisted that he was open to suggestions made by the people and would soon devise ways and means of approaching the masses for optimising efforts.

Commissioned in December, 1952, in the regiment of Artillery, General Rodrigues rose to become Chief of Army Staff in 1990. He remained in the position till 1993. He retired after putting in nearly 41 years of dedicated service in the Army.

It was during his tenure that the Army started inducting women officers into the force. Since his retirement from the Army on June 30, 1993, General Rodrigues has been engaged in social and literary pursuits.

Giving details, Raj Bhavan officers said General Rodrigues was born in Mumbai on September 19, 1933, and did his schooling from St Xaviers High School in Mumbai. He joined the Joint Services Wing (JSW) of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in 1949.

He attended the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC). In 1972, after the war with Pakistan, he was awarded the VSM for distinguished service. He commanded a Mountain Brigade in a high altitude sector from 1975 to 1977 before attending a course at Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK in 1978.


Modest yet impressive
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Ms Jean Rodrigues has no airs about her.

The fact becomes apparent, even before she utters a single word. And as she speaks about her journey from a young army officer's wife to the First Lady of Punjab, her words only compliment the modest image.

Standing in a corner of the Punjab Raj Bhavan with an acquaintance after the swearing-in ceremony's conclusion, she smiles, "It has been a tough journey. but we are thankful to God for giving us the opportunity".

She adds, "Gen Rodrigues has diligently worked his way up the ladder. But we have enjoyed every moment of it".

Clad in a cheerful orange-red saree, she asserts, "And I am glad we are back in Chandigarh. You see, it is just like coming home".

Seeing the puzzled expression on your face, she says, "No, I do not belong to Chandigarh, but we were here for quite some time".

As if sensing your desire to extract more information, she says, "We had been in Chandigarh for quite some time from 1989 after General Rodrigues took over as the Army Commander here. Chandigarh is a lovely place and we love it. We have been coming here for time to time. In fact, we were here a month back".

She says, "No, it is too early for me to say whether Chandigarh has changed over the years. But I am sure General Rodrigues — as UT Administrator — will do whatever he can for the city. You see, we believe in doing our best because we try to give whatever God has handed over to us".

The Lady politely brushes aside the suggestion that she is the "woman behind the success of General Rodrigues" and the "real power behind the throne". "I am the helper behind General Rodrigues. Nothing more. Nothing less. We have always work together as a team. But you can be sure of the fact that General Rodrigues is the team leader".

About her family, the Lady says, "Media has been wrongly mentioning that we have two daughters and one son. In fact, two sons and a daughter, though I would have loved to have more daughters". 


‘Sidelined’ PYC leaders to meet Sonia today
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 16
Feeling insulted over their virtual “sidelining” in the newly-constituted body of office-bearers of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), a group of members of the 11-member Coordination Committee, formed under directions of AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi in May, has decided to meet her in New Delhi on November 17.

They will “apprise” her about their dissatisfaction over the recent developments and the way the new body was formed while ignoring senior PYC leaders.

Interestingly, though a 40 -member body of senior office-bearers was announced by PYC chief Ravinder Amla on November 13, but none of members of the Coordination Committee of the PYC, headed by Mr P.K. Hariparsad, was reportedly inducted in it.

This has caused resentment among most of members of the committee, who were feeling that seniority in the organisation was violated during the reorganisation of the body of office-bearers as none of senior members of the committee was taken on the body.

A number of such leaders were of the view that since the 11-member coordination committee was already formed under the directions of Ms Sonia Gandhi, no PYC leader had the right to announce a new body and that, too, without consulting the existing Coordination Committee.

“It is being projected that the formation of new body was effected after consultations with the All India Youth Congress chief, but even if it is true, nobody could announce the new body without informing Ms Sonia Gandhi or without taking the Coordination Committee into confidence,” said a member of the Coordination Committee while requesting anonymity.

Another member of the Coordination Committee maintained that their group had decided to apprise senior congress leaders such as Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Ahmed Patel, the AICC frontal organisations chief Mr Oscar Fernades, Mr V George and Mr Pranab Mukherjee about the developments of the PYC on November 17.“ We are feeling suffocated over the developments. Sideling of members of the coordination committee shows how seniority is being ignored in a blatant manner,” he said.


Hindu religious bodies protest against seer’s arrest
Tribune Reporters

Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) burn an effigy of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in protest against the arrest of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati in Jalandhar on Tuesday.
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) burn an effigy of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in protest against the arrest of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati in Jalandhar on Tuesday.
— A Tribune photograph

Sangrur, November 16
Activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the Sanatan Dharam Sansad and the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) took out a march, carrying placards in their hands, in the town and held a demonstration in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in today protest against the arrest of Swami Jayendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt.

They also held “siapa”, raising slogans against the Central Government and demanded immediate release of the Shankaracharya. In the protest march, Thakur Jagdish Rai, president of the Dharam Sansad, Sangrur; Mr Bindu Kumar Singla and Mr R.P.Goel, district president and vice-president, respectively, of the VHP; Mr Vinod Kumar, district president of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray); Mr Bimal Kumar Mittal, district convener of the Bajrang Dal; Mr K.K. Maudgil, director, Baghikhana Ground Ram Lila Committee, Sangrur; and Mr Satinder Fatta, general secretary of the Dharam Sansad also took part.

A rally was held in front of the DC’s office where speakers condemned the arrest of the Shankaracharya by saying that the arrest on the charge of murdering a former employee of the Kanchi Mutt, Kanchipuram, was politically motivated. So the government should immediately release this religious leader of the Hindus.

A deputation of the protesters submitted a memorandum to Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, to be forwarded to the Union Home Minister for immediate release of the Shankaracharya.

Earlier, a meeting of the leaders of the Dharam Sansad, the VHP, the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) and the Bharatiya Mahavir Dal adopted a resolution urging the Union Government to take steps for immediate release of the Shakaracharya. It also demanded dismissal of the Tamil Nadu Government for arresting the Shankaracharya.

JALANDHAR: Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustani) today held a demonstration and burnt Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s effigy in protest against the arrest of the seer of the Kanchi Mutt Jayendra Saraswathi in a murder case.

The demonstrators took out a procession to Company Bagh here to hold a demonstration. They raised anti-government slogans and burnt the effigy.

ROPAR: Protesting against the arrest of Kanchi Mutt chief, workers of the Shiv Sena burnt the effigy of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, at Bela Chowk here today. Claiming that the action of the Tamil Nadu police was politically motivated, the workers demanded immediate release of the Shankaracharya.

Later the president of the district Shiv Sena unit, Mr Kuldeep Rai, accompanied by party workers, submitted a memorandum to the ADC.

Batala: Activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bajrang Dal, the Beopar Mandal and the Akhil Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (ABJYM) took out a procession here today in protest against the arrest of Jayendra Saraswati, Shankarcharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. It was led by Mr J.N. Sharma, general secretary of the Punjab VHP.

Local shopkeepers observed a bandh for half the day in protest against the arrest. Mr Vivek Sharma, vice-president of the Punjab ABJYM, said Hindu organisations would launch a nationwide agitation if the seer was not released.

Phagwara: Activists of the Shiv Sena, led by its state vice-president Pawan Parbhakar, burnt an effigy of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa here on Thursday in protest against the arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharaya Jayendra Saraswati. The protesters took out a march and presented a memorandum to the DSP.


Singla behind “mess” in govt schools: Johar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Launching a fierce counterattack on Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla, Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar said today that Mr Singla was responsible for creating the much talked about “mess” in the government schools in the state.

Livid over the comments and observations made by Mr Singla regarding the functioning and poor standard of education in government schools at a function organised by the State Planning Department to release the Human Development Report, 2004, here at a hotel today, Mr Johar said that Mr Singla “knows very less but talks too much”.

At the function, where Mr Johar was also present, Mr Singla had stated that the government was spending about Rs 2,100 crore on government schools in the state but their performance was far from satisfactory compared to public schools. Because of this reason, people were withdrawing their wards from the government schools and shifting them to public schools. No politician or bureaucrat sends his wards to government school because teachers do not teach there, stated Mr Singla.

Sharply reacting to Mr Singla’s comments after the function, Mr Johar, said that he also wanted to speak at the function to counter the points raised by Mr Singla but the organisers did not give him time to do so. “ I was keen to tell the truth to the people present at the function that how the Finance Department, which is handled by Mr Singla, was not releasing funds provided by the Centre for the Sarab Sikhsha Abhyan (SSA) and has created chaos on the education front in the process”, said Mr Johar. Speaking in chaste Punjabi, he said, “ehna ne bhatha batha dita”.

“At the last meeting in Delhi, I told the Union Government to give 100 per cent grant for the SSA as state governments are not ready to give its share. Funds for SSA had not been released for long as the state government did not contribute its share of funds”, said Mr Johar, without mincing any words.

“I have a long experience as a public man and am aware about what is in the interest of the people of the state. Compared to me, Mr Singla has no experience at all regarding issues concerning public”, he added. “ Where would the kids of poor people, especially Scheduled Castes go if government schools were closed”, asked Mr Johar.

He said he refused to be a member of the committee set up under the chairmanship of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, to suggest ways and means to improve the education system in the state. “The committee has not met once since its formation”, said Mr Johar. It has been repeatedly claimed by the Punjab Government that the committee is preparing a report to set things right at the school education level.

“No ban has been lifted to fill the vacant posts of teachers and other staff in schools”, he claimed. “I have not appointed a single teacher”, he asserted. There was immediate need to fill 28,000 posts of teachers and 6000 posts of supporting staff such as clerks, laboratory attendants and peons etc in schools, said Mr Johar. There were as many as 20,000 trained teachers jobless in the state. “They should be given jobs”, he added. “I have requested the CM to do so but nothing is expected on this front till the submission of the report by the Bhattal committee”, he added. 


Private colleges in trouble over EPF dilemma
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 16
Private educational institutes in the state are in a dilemma over the guidelines regarding the employee provident fund (EPF) of their employees. While the regional EPF authorities are directing the college managements to deposit 12 per cent of the basic salary and dearness allowance of their employees as EPF the universities and the DPI are directing just 10 per cent deduction.

Due to the ambiguity, certain aided colleges of the state who have been deducting just 10 per cent of EPF are now finding themselves at the receiving end from the Regional Provident Fund authorities. Recently, the management of the AB College, Pathankot, was directed to deposit Rs 25 lakh due to the ambiguity by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Amritsar.

The college authorities alleged that they receive just 10 per cent as employer EPF share from the DPI against the aided posts. So they have been deducting just 10 per cent from the salary of their employees. Now that the EPF authorities have directed 12 per cent deduction the college would be forced contribute 2 per cent from its own accounts. This would put additional financial burden on the aided college that are already suffering to decreasing grant-in-aid.

The sources said the ambiguity arose due to the Union Governments increased EPF deductions from 10 to 12 per cent of the salary from 1997. Though the deductions were increased in papers, the state government issued no clear direction in this regard. Even the employer share contributed by the DPI for the aided posts was kept at 10 per cent by the state government.

The private college would find themselves in trouble, especially in case of employees getting salary of Rs 6500 or less.

In case of such employees as per the PF rules with effect from 1997, it was mandatory for the employers to deduct 12 per cent from the salary of employees and contribute an equal amount from their side to deposit in the EPF account of their employees.

However, the managements of most of the private colleges had been deducting just 10 per cent from the salary of employees and contributing the same amount from their side. This has made them liable for huge amounts ranging from Rs 25 to 50 lakh towards the regional provident fund authorities.

The sources also that the provident fund authorities besides recovering the pending amount from the college managements are also planning to impose penalties on them. However, some of the college managements are planning to move court to save themselves from being penalised.


Human Development Report paints a gloomy picture of Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The past is glorious, the present is gloomy and the future is uncertain. This was the crux of most of the speeches made at the release of the Punjab Human Development Report, 2004, by the state Planning Department here today.

The report was released by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Among others who spoke at the function were Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Dr S.S. Johl, Vice Chairman of the state Planning Board, Dr Maxine Olson, UN Resident Coordinator in India, and Mr Sandeep Dikshit, Director of Sanket, which has prepared the report .

Speakers were worried about the current dismal scenario. But they appeared hapless as financial resources were inadequate to put the state back on the fast track of growth.

Almost all speakers recalled the glorious past of the 60s and 70s when the overall growth rate in Punjab had gone up to 8.4 per cent, far above the national growth level. They termed the present dismal performance because the growth rate level has come down to 4.08 per cent, far below the national level. The speakers were uncertain regarding what is going to happen in the future in view of the present dismal situation owing to a financial crisis .

Believe it, Punjab’s growth rate level in agricultural and related sectors( primary sector) has come down to 1.84 per cent — that is even below the national level, whereas in the 60s and 70s, it was almost 10 per cent.

There is nothing special in the report which is not known to the people of Punjab — academicians, planners, bureaucrats and elected representatives and, of course, the media. The report talks about the frightening unemployment problem, poor literacy rate and poor health. The report has a detailed chapter on agriculture and its declining growth rate and associated problems, migrant labour, Dalits and women children. It has discussed in detail the issue of skewed sex ratio in the state.

The condition of Dalits, though relatively better than other states, is not that rosy as expected in a state like Punjab.” Dalits are still deprived of ownership of crucial assets like land, capital etc, and access to basic social infrastructure”, observes the report. Literacy rate among Dalits, whose population in the state is about 28 per cent, is also low.

However, the report does not deal with the issue of NRIs, who have made a tremendous contribution for the development of the state by way of foreign currency remittances.

The Human Development Report, 2004, in fact appears as a stale document given the old and obsolete data mainly from the last decade. In fact the report has most of the data of pre-2001 census. In fact the such data is available in the Annual Economic Surveys of Punjab and also in the statistical abstracts of Punjab.

But even this old data has been presented and interpreted in a wider perspective which serves as roadmap for the future of the state. Punjab is the 10th state in the country to prepare such a report in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, the National Planning Commission, eminent academicians, experts and others concerned.


Incident shows police in poor light
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The functioning of the Punjab Police is again under a cloud if the report of an NGO regarding beating up of two Nangal residents is any indication.

In its investigations, the Lawyers for Human Rights International(LHRI) team has found that Ms Jagjit Kaur, and her father, Mr Jaspal Singh, were allegedly beaten up by the Nangal police when they had gone to lodge a complaint of harassment against the in-laws of Jagjit.

It may be recalled that on October 30 they were allegedly assaulted by policemen when they had gone to the police post, Naya Nangal, to lodge a complaint.

Later, they were booked under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC at the instance of a woman Congress leader reportedly close to a Punjab MLA and in-laws of the girl.

They were also "forced" to sign an affidavit claiming that the news reports appearing in a section of the Press in this regard were "false and politically-motivated".

However, in a communication to the LHRI president, Mr Jaspal Singh has demanded justice for his daughter following which the fact-finding team was sent to Nangal.

The witnesses interviewed by the team, including the reporter of a vernacular daily which highlighted the police highhandedness, corroborated the findings that the police was in the wrong.

The SHO concerned, however, claimed the it was an attempt to "harass" the police and "malign" the ruling party.

Mr Arvind Thakur, a member of the team alleged that the police and local-level politicians were still threatening the reporter and victims to effect a compromise.

Demanding an independent probe by an officer not below the rank of an IG, the report wanted stern action against the erring police officials and politicians.

It has also demanded security for the victims and the journalist. Adequate compensation should also be provided to the victims for the harassment, the report concludes. 


Tarksheel Society exposes ‘baba’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 16
Active members of the Tarksheel Society put a 'Baba' in an embarrassing position yesterday by impersonating as devotees. According to available information, a 'baba' had set up his 'Dera' on the Dalmeerkhera-Daulatpura road near here. The place attracted a large number of persons from different parts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on holidays. The 'baba' claimed that he would solve all problems and cure diseases by serving 'Patasa' (sugar preparation). Even yesterday he reportedly told hundreds of visitors that he had a direct link with many Gurus and Devtas and could read the mind of visitors.

The team from the Society interacted with some visitors there. One said his daughter had been suffering fits for the past one decade. As physicians from all medical streams were unable to cure her, they started visiting the 'dera' here. The 'baba' gave few 'patasas' every time but the girl had not recovered. She was already past the marriageable age. The 'Baba' had reportedly warned them that the girl would die if they resumed medical treatment.

Members of the team said the suffering devotees were found putting currency notes in the cash box placed near the seat of the 'baba'. The members, including Mr. Ganpat Ram, Mr Kuljit Kumar, Mr Bhagwan Dass and Mr Chander Shekhar, approached the baba with vague problems and sought treatment. Each one of them was given a 'Patasa' only and with the assurance that things would be normal. When the members disclosed their identity, there was a pandemonium.

The team had earlier exposed a woman in the government seed farm colony here who too claimed to be possessing divine powers.

The society wondered why the administration had not taken any notice of such places even when intelligence agencies had reported last year that most of these had become centers for supply of narcotics.


Delay in Amritsar-Lahore bus service rued

Amritsar, November 16
The announcement to start Amritsar-Lahore bus service, which would go up to the historic Nanakana Sahib Gurdwara, has made no headway.

Lamenting this, the president of the Rashtriya Raksha Dal, Col J.S. Bal (retd), said in spite of the announcements made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and later by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that the bus service would be started soon, nothing had been done.

He urged the government to take immediate steps to begin bus services between the two cities.


War widows await promised land
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 16
Balwinder Kaur, widow of martyr Tehal Singh of Kothe Lal Singhwala village in the district, who died in the Indo-Pak war in 1971, could not hold back her tears while narrating her tale of woes to the officials of Chetak Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) at Veer Nari meet held at the local military station today.

She adds the denial of dues to her by the authorities concerned is not that painful then the fact that the Army authorities told her about her husband’s death sans any evidence in this regard.

She said whenever there was an exchange of prisoners, especially military personnel at the Wagah border, one member of her family visited the place in the hope of seeing Tehal Singh. She added that though she was promised 10 acres and Rs 50,000, she is yet to get it.

Similarly, Rani Kaur, widow of Lance Naik Makhan Singh of Mehraj village, who also died during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, is still hoping that one day she will get the promised piece of land in lieu of her husband’s supreme sacrifice. At the bhog ceremony of her husband the then district administration had promised that one road would be named after her husband’s name but it did not materialise yet, she adds.

These are not isolated cases. Sixtyone war widows of Bathinda and Mansa districts participated the Veer Nari meet.

Roop Kaur of Hero Khurd village of Mansa district, Veerpal Kaur of Bathinda district, Sarbjit Kaur of Bathinda district are other such cases who have been fighting a relentless battle to get their dues.

Most of the war-widows pointed out that though the state government had pieces of land at different villages, these could not be allotted to them as these had been encroached upon.

Ms Kiran Nandrajog, president, Chetak AWWA, who chaired the meet, gave them gifts. The war-widows were also briefed on the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme.

The Defence Pension Disbursement Officer (DPDO) and representatives of the Sainik Welfare Board and ex-servicemen helpline interacted with war widows with regard to their problems.


Implement 85th Amendment, demands BSP
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
Mr Sham Jaura, general secretary, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Punjab, today alleged that under the Congress government atrocities on SCs/STs and other backward classes had crossed all limits.

As per a press note issued here today, Mr Jaura in a letter written to the Punjab Governor has alleged that though the Congress had got votes of backward classes by making tall promises in the last General election and in the recently held byelections in Kapurthala and Garhshanker Assembly segments, nothing has been done so far in this regard.

He pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh had promised during the Kapurthala and Garhshanker byelections that the 85th Amendment of the Constitution would be implemented in the state. He added that it turned out to be an election stunt.

Mr Jaura urged the Governor to intervene and direct the Congress government to fulfil the promises.

Sangrur: The district unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Tuesday sought 35 per cent reservation for Dalits in the appointment of DCs, SSPs, tehsildars, DSPs and other administrative officers in Punjab on the plea that the population of Dalits in the state was 35 per cent. It also demanded the implementation of the 85th Amendment of the Constitution.

In a memorandum submitted to Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, here the BSP also asked the state government to waive loans of Dalits worth Rs 1 lakh each. It also demanded implementation of Mandal Commission report.

A memorandum submitted to the DC was signed among others by Mr Jagtar Singh Gharachon, district president of the BSP, Mr Pavittar Singh, in charge, BSP, Sangrur, and Mr Harpal Singh advocate and Mr Lal Singh, both BSP leaders.


From Berlin to Bollywood in search of success
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, November 15
From Berlin to Mumbai, film actress Mink has traversed a long way in realising her dreams to be on the silver screen one day. Mink, who at the age of 13 was introduced to the arclights of the tinsel town of Bollywood by none other than the versatile Dev Anand, started her career with the film '' Gangster'', which was produced and directed by Dev Anand himself. Thereafter, she was spotted by Jaya Bachchan who casted her for a lead role in ABCL Productions, ''Saat Rang Ke Sapne'' Till date, Mink has starred in a number of films like ''Doli Saja ke Rakhna'', ''Chalo Ishq Ladayen'', ''Ajnabi'' and ''Raaj''. Her latest release “Oops!” did well at the box office.

Mink, who was here in this border town recently to meet her grandparents in her ancestral village, revealed that she had decided to step into production line with a film titled as “ Neend” under the banner of Bro and Sis Productions, which she has recently launched along with her brother Punnu. She said that the film would be a psychological thriller starring Sunny Deol, Mahima Choudhry, Sanjay Suri and herself, and will be directed by Ajay Chandhok. With her entry into film production, Mink would be following the footsteps of actress like Pooja Bhatt and Juhi Chawla, who have already ventured into film production and have been successful too. ''As a producer, you have lot more to do'', says Mink. ''As an actress, you can do a bad film and get away with it but you can not get away with producing a bad film and losing all your money''.

This tall and affable Punjabi girl, who was born and brought up in Germany, said that her entry into the glamour world of films was rather accidental as she had come to Mumbai for the first time to spend vacations with her family when Dev Anand spotted her in a party and at once offered her the lead role in his film, which she gladly accepted as she did not want to go to the school but later developed a passion for acting. About the initial hiccups when she faced the camera for the first time, Mink said that she had problems with the language as she could not speak fluent Hindi. Mink said:'' I did not have to go and knock the doors of producers for roles. Roles came to me on their own''.

Mink aspires to work with film directors like Yash Chopra and Ram Gopal Verma, who are among her favourites.”

She was, however, evasive when asked about her marriage plans.

Mink also visited the National Martyrs' Memorial, Hussainiwala, and paid floral tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Later, she visited the Indo-Pakistan Joint Check-Post to witness the retreat drill. 


Women should stop female foeticide, says MP
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 16
Patiala MP Preneet Kaur today said women should act firmly to stop female foeticide in society. In order to irradicate it the girls should be made aware of this evil.

Speaking at the 100th anniversary of Victoria Girls Senior Secondary School here, Ms Preneet Kaur said the school had played a major role in bestowing education to girls at a time when they were not encouraged to take up studies. She said similarly the school should now play a role in making girls aware of the social evils and the need to deal firmly with them.

The MP also took the opportunity to speak out against the use of plastic packets on the occasion. She said children should refuse to use plastics in their homes following which the elders would also have to forgo the habit. She said it was unfortunate that the issue of pollution was still not getting the needed attention in the country.

Ms Preneet Kaur also urged for opening of more self-help groups and the need for creating self employment opportunities. She said with the scarcity of jobs, this was the only way to create a niche for oneself in today’s world. The School Principal, Ms Reeta Mahindra, also spoke on the occasion at the function which was attended by Pepsu Road Transport Corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta, Patiala Mayor Vishnu Sharma and District Education Officer (Secondary) Pritpal Kaur Sidhu.


Punjabi fest from Nov 19
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 16
The Punjabi culture would be showcased and top artistes of both Indian and Pakistani Punjabis would perform during the two-day, “Saanjh Dilan Dee,” a world Punjabi cultural festival to be held here from November 19 to 20.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Punjab PWD Minister and Dr Swaran Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar division and the Chairman of the ‘Punj Panian Di Virasat’ which is holding the festival, said the event would be a mega show of the true Punjabi culture. All efforts would be made to remind the Punjabis about their rich heritage which gave the gift of the “first” written literature of the world in form of the “Rigveda”.

According to Mr Bajwa and Dr Swaran Singh, apart from performances of Indian and Pakistani artistes like Hans Raj Hans, Sukhwinder, Harjit Harman, Pammi Bai, Iqbal Bahu, Akram Rahi, Nasibo, Suryaiya Khanum, Sarbjit Cheema, Jatt Brothers, Afshan and Harbhajan Mann a heritage procession led by 12 horsemen would be the main attraction of the show. “Besides this, gatka parties, artistes will play on traditional musical instruments. Bazigars and 200 bhangra parties would entertain the visitors.

“We are also receiving a 121-member delegation of professionals from Pakistan. The delegation, led by two Pakistani MPs would be received at Wagah on November 19,” said Mr Bajwa.


Denial of martyr status to Bhagat Singh condemned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 16
Members of the All-India Anti Terrorist Front today held a protest at the Anardana chowk in the city to mark their opposition to attempts to deny the martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh by a scholar at a seminar organised by the Institute of Sikh Studies at a Gurdwara in Chandigarh two days back.

The Front members, who were led by Front State Vice-President Harpal Singh, said such attempts to tarnish the image of the martyr and hurt to sentiments of the latter’s family and people, would not be tolerated.

Mr Harpal Singh said a scholar while presenting his paper at the seminar in Chandigarh had claimed that the sikh religion did not recognise anyone who committed an act with the aim of taking revenge as a martyr. He said such a statement was without any logic and only aimed a generating cheap publicity. He said Bhagat Singh had not thrown a bomb in the Assembly hall to gain anything but with the sole motive of raising his voice against British imperialism. He said the martyr could not have asked for clemency later on but had instead chosen to be hanged for this act.

The Front Vice-President said Front President Maninderjit Singh Bitta had also condemned attempts to belittle the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh adding the latter’s nephew had also made it clear that the martyr did not need a certificate from anyone.


Sir Chhotu Ram’s relics to reach India today
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 16
Sir Chhotu Ram’s relics, housed in his ‘haveli’ in Lahore, will be brought to India with fanfare by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, and Mr Ajay Chautala, Indian National Lok Dal leader.

Talking to The Tribune from Lahore over telephone, Mr Tarlochan Singh said Sir Chhotu Ram had died in his house in Lahore and the present owner, Mr Shafqat Ali Khan, had decided to donate various possessions of the Jat leader, including his sword, table, and chair and doors and windows of the ‘haveli’ which he built in 1931 on two-and-a-half acres. After Partition, the house had been kept intact by Shauqat Ali Khan, father of Mr Shafqat Ali.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said Sir Chhotu Ram had launched massive agrarian reforms in Punjab, where he had been associated with the Punjab Zamidar Central Association to look after interests of farmers in the area. He added that this reform movement was based on sound economics.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the relics would be carried in a procession through Punjab and Haryana and would be taken to his native village. He added that these would be kept in a museum, being set up at Ghari Sampla village in Rohtak district. He said the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other senior leaders would formally receive the relics at the Wagah checkpost tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, accused Mr Tarlochan Singh and the Chautala family of deriving political mileage by bringing back the relics of Sir Chhotu Ram in view of the Haryana Assembly elections. Mr Mann added that the legacy of Sir Chhotu Ram belonged to east Punjab and west Punjab and Haryana had no locus standi to take his relics. He said the relics should be allowed to remain in Pakistan.


Vinod Khanna shoots film
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
MP from Gurdaspur Vinod Khanna came to the city today to assume the mantle of a bachelor truck - transporter in the film “Choorian” is being shot at the Free Masons Lodge in the city.

Vinod, who kept away from the media, enacted a few scenes during the day for the movie in which he has a guest role. One of the scenes saw him on the first floor of the Lodge with a wedding scene being enacted downstairs. Vinod was framed taking out his ‘Punjabi jutti’ and aiming it at someone downstairs who he had just seen.

The actor looked dapper in a ‘Pathani’ salwar kurta. He was also the butt of jokes from Parikshat Sahni who questions how a man who is a bachelor has come to a wedding.


Fire in laboratory
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 16
Bio-medical equipment and electronic goods worth lakhs were destroyed in a fire that broke out in a medical laboratory located near telephone exchange here, last night.

A short-circuit is said to be the cause of the fire.

Residents of the locality noticed smoke billowing out of the shop and they broke open shutters of the main door of the shop and swung to extinguish the flames. Subsequently a fire engine from the local fire station reached the spot and took 45 minutes in bringing the blaze under control.

Laboratory owner Randhir Singh, a resident of Mani Majra in Chandigarh, was also informed about the fire.


Charity walk flagged off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Mr Balwant Singh Grewal, a UK-based NRI, today undertook his over 4000- km charity walk from Amritsar to Kanyakumari to create awareness and raise funds for the research and prevention of diseases like cancer and AIDS.

The walk was flagged off by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister in the presence of a large number of enthusiastic NRIs and local fans of Mr Grewal. Mr Bajwa offered Rs 1 lakh to Mr Grewal who is also chairman of the India Association, a registered charity organisation.

Addressing newsmen after the flag off ceremony he said the Punjab Government would also make earnest endeavour to create awareness about these diseases.


Tunnel technique gaining ground among farmers, says expert
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 16
The low tunnel technique for horticulture in Amritsar district is steadily gaining ground, with more farmers opting for it to multiply their profit and improve the quality of produce.

The technique was launched after the Indian experts saw it being used successfully in Israel. It enables farmers to grow summer crops in winter. The method was first used in Padhri Kalan village in the subdivision in 1998 on cucumber crop in 10 acres under the guidance of Dr Pargat Singh, Deputy Director, Horticulture, Amritsar.

Dr Pargat Singh, while talking to this correspondent here today, said by using this technique, farmers could grow summer crops like cucumber and capsicum in winter. These crops were normally sown in February and the produce was ready by April. The new method made it possible to sow these crops in December and the produce was ready in February.

Dr Pargat Singh said in this method, raised beds were prepared in the fields and the seeds were sown. These raised beds were covered with tunnel-shaped transparent plastic sheets. These let light pass through while protecting the crop from the chill and fog.

According to Dr Pargat Singh, the technique was used in a couple of villages in the district, but now it was being used in between 25 and 30 villages on over 500 acres. He further said this year, the department had fixed a target of 1,000 acres under this technique.

Sources said these crops were in heavy demand in Mumbai, Kolkata and southern states and there were no problems in marketing.


BKU rally in Delhi today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) will organise a protest rally in Delhi on November 18 to draw the attention of the government towards the economic crisis being faced by the farmers.

Supporting the cause of the agitation “Save turban, save land”, the president of the Kisan Wing, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Satnam Singh Behru, has appealed to the farmers of the state to participate in the rally.

The farmers have been protesting against the new trend of auctioning of the land of those defaulting farmers who owe money to the money lenders.

The farmers are fed up with the step-motherly treatment by the political parties in power at the Centre and in the state. They feel that agitation is the only way out for the redressal of their grievances, claimed a BKU source.


Main accused in PCO owner’s murder case held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 16
The police has arrested Harjit Singh, alias Rana, of Bhadla village, main accused in the kidnapping and murder of Bunty, a local STD PCO owner, conspiracy of which was hatched in Italy.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, DSP, said that Harjit Singh revealed during interrogation that his elder brother, Jagjit Singh, resided in Italy and he had close relations with Tarlochan Singh, who also resided in Italy.

Harjit Singh said a few months ago, Tarlochan Singh along with his two daughters and son came to India and stayed at the house of Bunty. He said Bunty developed illicit relations with Gurjeet Kaur, younger daughter of Tarlochan Singh, and he prepared pornographic CDs of Gurjeet Kaur to blackmail her for marriage.

Harjit Singh said Tarlochan Singh along with his family went to Italy and Bunty showed the CDs to Raju, brother of the girl, who told all this to his father, Tarlochan Singh. Harjit Singh said Raju and Tarlochan Singh requested Bunty many times to give them the CDs but he continued to blackmail them by asking them to marry their daughter to him. Harjit Singh said his brother from Italy and Raju asked him to get the CDs from Bunty or finish him. Harjit Singh admitted that he struck the deal with them for Rs 2.25 lakh and one of the relatives of Tarlochan Singh handed over the money to him.

He said that he further struck a deal with two Bihari migrant labourers, Tulsi and Ramu, for Rs 50,000 to murder Bunty. He said they went to the PCO booth of Bunty and kidnapped him. Ramu and Tulsi strangled him and when he died they threw his body in Bhakra Canal near the Floating Restaurant, Sirhind. The DSP said Harjit Singh would be presented in court tomorrow and for further interrogation, his police remand would be sought. 


3 students hurt in group clash
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 16
Three students were injured seriously in a group clash at SGAD Government College here today.

Swords, lathis and other weapons were used in the clash. Two students who received head injuries had been declared unfit to give statement to the police, said Mr Sandeep Wadehra SHO, city Police Station.

The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital. However, no case has been registered as there is a possibility of a compromise between the two groups.

The injured have been identified as Ravisher Singh, Angrej Singh and Sanjeev Kumar. Ravisher Singh and Sanjeev Kumar received head injuries while Angrej Singh injured his arm.


Drug-addict murders mother
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 16
In a bizarre incident, Manjit Singh, a resident of Gurthari village in this district, murdered his mother, Angrej Kaur, by repeatedly stabbing her in the neck and back in her house today.

Though the accused ran away after committing the crime, the police said that Manjit Singh killed Angrej Kaur after she refused to open the lock of the store in which raw cotton, which was produced in their field, was lying. The accused, who is drug addict, was insisting that he should be allowed to take raw cotton to the market for selling off so that he could purchase his drugs.

Police sources said that the accused, who had already spent five years in jail after he was convicted in violence against human body case, caught his mother from her hair and dragged her. After that the accused stabbed her with knife repeatedly. Angrej Kaur died on the spot.

In another incident, a case under Section 376, IPC, was registered against Kuljewan Sharma, a resident of Mohalla Seedian Wala in this town, for his alleged involvement in raping a girl belonging to this town. 


One killed, 2 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 16
One person was killed and two others were injured when the jeep they were travelling in collided with a tractor-trolley at Maqsoodan railway crossing on the outskirts of the city late last night.

According to the police, the deceased was identified as Baljit Singh (42) of Bhogpur while the injured — Harbhajan Singh and Sheera — were admitted to a private hospital here. The driver of tractor-trolley fled from the spot. A case has been registered.


Two hurt in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 16
Two persons were injured in two different accidents here today.

In one accident a resident of Ludhiana, who was going towards Mohali, got injured when his car collided with another vehicle while trying to overtake a bus near the telephone exchange here this morning.

He was taken to the local Civil Hospital. His car got badly damaged in the accident.

In another incident a cyclist was injured when he was hit by an unidentified vehicle near Khanpur village. He was going from Khanpur towards Sahoran village when the accident took place.


Bid to rob business agent

Abohar, November 16
An attempt to rob two persons was made near the residence of the DSP last night.

According to information Raj Kumar and Pinky, residents of Nai Abadi, were in a rickshaw at about 9 pm. Two unidentified persons reportedly pulled Raj Kumar down from the rickshaw and put red chilly powder in his eyes and tried to snatch the bag which he was carrying. When he resisted the miscreants attacked him with knife. When some persons gathered there the miscreants managed to escape. Raj Kumar was admitted to the civil hospital. He works as a money collection agent for traders dealing with cotton oilseed and oil cakes business in Punjab and Rajasthan. — TNS


Oust-Aulakh committee formed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 16
The simmering discontentment against the functioning of Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), among a section of retired and serving employees and teachers came out in the open when a joint action committee was formed to launch a struggle for his removal.

Members of the committee claim that they have got the support of a large number of serving teachers and employees of the university who do not want to be identified.

Most of the JAC members alleged victimisation during the ‘autocratic’ rule of Dr Aulakh. Meanwhile, the VC could not be contacted for comments.

Dr Balwant Singh has been chosen convener of the committee. Other members are Mr S.P. Sharma, Mr R.S. Arora, Dr Prabhjit Singh, Dr H.K. Tewari and Dr A.S. Grewal.

Dr Balwant Singh stated that during the past over three years Dr Aulakh had penalised many employees and teachers on the pretext of checking corruption and enforcing discipline. These teachers and employees had also filed suits, he claimed.

The PAU, Dr Balwant Singh added, was passing through the worst-ever financial crisis. Moreover, subscriptions deducted from the employees’ salary had not been credited to their CPF/GPF accounts for the past over three years.

The committee has appealed to the Chancellor, PAU, and Chief Minister in this regard.


Irregularities alleged in students’ fund
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
A huge amount of Rs 38 lakh has allegedly been siphoned off from the students’ fund to pay the medical bills of the school teachers.

In a press release issued here today, the Government Teachers Union (GTU), which had raised this issue of irregularities, pointed out that medical bills worth more than Rs 1 crore relating to the medical expenses of the government teachers suffering from serious ailments had been pending for disbursement. The press note added that to avoid judicial intervention being threatened by the teachers, the government had allowed them to pay Rs 38 lakh from the students’ fund lying with the Amritsar district schools.

The GTU has taken serious view of the financial irregularities and blamed the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, for allowing the siphoning off the amount from the students fund which had been created for the welfare of the students.

Mr Sucha Singh Ajnala, state general secretary, said that the government must share the blame for the deteriorating education standards in the state. He said that the government should release the grants on time. 


College teachers to go on mass leave today
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 16
College teachers serving in 170 privately-managed colleges of Punjab will proceed on mass casual leave on November 17 and will March to Capt Amarinder Singh’s Chandigarh residence to express resentment against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards their problems.

Stating this here today, Prof R.S. Brar and Dr Jagwant Singh, president and general secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), respectively, said private college teachers of Punjab and Chandigarh would assemble in front of the office of the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, in Chandigarh to take part in the march. Professor Brar and Dr Jagwant stated that the decision to stage a protest march was taken at a meeting of the PCCTU executive held at DAV College, Amritsar, on October 17. 


600 schoolchildren take part in competitions
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 16
The district administration today organised a function to mark Children’s Day at Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind. Ms Uma Rattra, Secretary, Children Welfare Council, inaugurated the function. Mr Sadhu Singh, Assistant Secretary, also accompanied her during the inauguration ceremony.

Paying rich tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, urged the people to follow the path shown by the great leader. Competitions in bhangra and patriotic songs were held. A painting competition was also held.

Ms Deizy Walia, Chairperson, Hospital Welfare, also addressed the function. Around 600 schoolchildren participated in the competitions.

Among others who were present were Mr N.S.Randhawa, Assistant Commissioner (G), Mr Pushpinder Singh Grewal, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Ms Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, and Ms Rupinder Kaur, Horticulture Officer. 


Students protest against exam fee hike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
Members of the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa group) organised a rally at the local Rajindra Government College to lodge their protest against the hike in the examination fee made by Punjabi University.

In a press note, Sumeet, president, local unit of the PSU, said on the one hand the examination fee had been increased, while, on the other, the Punjab government had neither refunded nor adjusted the additional fee paid by the students last year. The students had been demanding to adjust the additional fee paid by them last year in this year's examination fee. Meanwhile, the union leaders also paid tributes to Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha and appealed to the students to fight against injustice and unemployment. 


Management students’ interface with alumni
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 16
Students of the Punjab School of Management Studies (PSMS) of Punjabi University had a memorable experience today when some of their alumni came to the campus for the PSMS alumni interface.

Those who came for the interface were, Mr Sudhir Bassi, (VP-JM Morgan Stanley Pvt Ltd), Mr Baljinder Gill (VP-UB Group Hyderabad), Mr Gaganjot Singh (Reg Finance Manager-Glaxo Smithkline, Mumbai), Mr Rahul Gupta (Procurement Manager-Glaxo Smithkline, Nabha) and Mr Sumit Sharma (Analyst, G.E. Capital, Gurgaon). All alumni members appreciated the efforts of the department to bring the PSMS on the top B-School’s map of the country.

Mr Bassi, told that his journey from a banker in the PNB to VP of such a respectable firm was a tough one. He emphasised the importance of case studies as a basic tool for developing strategic decision-making skills in real-life situations.

Mr Gaganjot Singh, said that taking summer training seriously helps a lot as one gets a good experience of the industry.

Dr M.S. Bedi, HoD, and A.S. Marwaha (placement convener) thanked the guests and appreciated the efforts made by students in organising the meet and assured that these meets would be a regular affair in future.

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