P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Live coverage of Punjabi conference, sports fest
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Union Government has accepted the Punjab Government’s request for the live telecast of the opening and closing sessions of the three-day Punjabi Conference and five-day sports festival that will be held at Patiala from December 1 to 10.

Over 1000 writers and scholars, sportspersons and politicians of East Punjab and West Punjab would take part in these events. The festival is one of the several steps that has been taken to promote peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

The Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Jaipal Reddy, has given a categorical assurance in this connection to the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, who met him in this connection late last evening in New Delhi. Mr Singla told The Tribune today that the state government had given all rights for the exclusive live telecast of certain events of the festival by Doordarshan.

Mr Singla said that Mr Reddy would hold the meeting the Director-General of Doordarshan and other officials to finalise the coverage programme. The state Government has requested the live coverage of certain important sessions of the Punjabi Conference that will be held on the campus of Punjabi University, besides certain sports events such hockey, the venue of which has been shifted from Patiala to Jalandhar because the hockey astro-turf ground at NIS, Patiala, is in a poor shape.

Mr Singla said that as such a historic festival was being held for the first time between the two countries — India and Pakistan — there would be many companies approaching Doordarshan for sponsoring the festival.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, are expected to visit Patiala during the festival. Both have been invited by the Punjab Government.

The West Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Pervaiz Elahi, will arrive in Patiala on December 1 to inaugurate the Punjabi Conference. After staying there for one day, he would leave for Delhi, Agra and Ajmer. He would return to Patiala on December 5 to be the guest of honor at the inaugural ceremony of the sports festival.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University, said that as many as 190 writers and scholars have confirmed their participation in the Punjabi conference at Patiala. He said the university was hosting the conference on behalf of the Punjab Government and all the lists of those to be invited at the Punjabi Conference were being given to the university by the state government. “ We are just playing host but the task to finalise the names of those to be invited at the conference is being handled by state government”, he added.


Tercentenary celebrations to be telecast live
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 17
As the President of India is expected to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib during the commemoration of the tercentenary celebration of Martyrdom of Sahibzadas from December 24, the district administration has started making special arrangements for the event.

More than 20 lakh devotees from across the country and abroad are expected to pay obeisance to the Sahibzadas during the event.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of district officials here today, the Saheedi Jor Mela would be held in a religious spirit, this being the tercentenary of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas. No gambling, live dances and other obscene stalls would be allowed to be put up during the mela. No shops and stalls would be allowed on the mela premises. Renowned Ragis would perform daily during the mela.

Besides ‘Var Gyan’ competition, painting competition on the Sahibzadas and ‘Shabad Gayan’ competitions would also be held. The DC said after ascertaining the exact time of bricking alive, the Sahibzadas, the district administration would sound a siren at that exact time, so that the devotees may pay homage.

He said for the first time live telecast of the proceedings in Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib would be made. He said that Public Relations department would organise a special light and sound programme “ Sirhind Ki Dastan”.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP said elaborate security arrangements would be made, so that devotees could pay obeisance without any apprehension.


First Bathinda heritage festival from November 27
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 17
Feeling concerned over the fact that residents of the Bathinda region have been slowly becoming oblivious to their rich cultural heritage, a section of local people, in association with the district civil and police administration, has decided to organise the first heritage festival of Bathinda on November 27 and 28.

To accomplish this task and to make the event a permanent feature, these people who have founded the Bathinda Region Heritage Foundation (BRHF), have started involving people, who know about the history and culture of the Bathinda region, in the organisation of the event.

Prof Karam Singh, a historian and veteran wrestler, is the chief promoter of the organisation. While talking to mediapersons here today, he said as the town was visited by a number of saints in the past, the first heritage festival would aim at making people aware of it.

They would also be made aware of the history behind various monuments dotting the region, he added.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, said the district administration had been extending all support to the foundation so that the festival could be made a permanent feature. He said an NRI, Mr Sukhminder Singh Chahal, had offered to help in the preservation of Gobind Fort. He said the administration had forwarded the offer to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He hoped that the project would start soon.

Mr Lekh Raj Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, and honorary working president of the organisation, said the festival would aim at giving the local people a chance to have a feel of their culture and heritage. He said he had been preparing a directory of persons hailing from the region, who had got settled abroad and in other parts of India and had made it big, in various fields. These persons would then be invited to attend the festival, he added.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP and honorary vice-president of the organisation, said artistes hailing from the region had been invited to perform at the festival. Folk and Sufi singers from Pakistan had also been requested to participate in the celebrations, he added. Five persons of the region who had excelled in various fields would be honoured by the foundation during the festival, he added.

On November 27, a heritage procession would be taken out from Dargah Hazi Rattan. It would ‘kar sewa’ of Qila Mubarak. An art exhibition, a seminar on Punjabi culture and heritage, Sufi and Punjabi folk singing events, rural sports, traditional art items and a fireworks show would also be held.


CM to release logo of World Punjabi Conference
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 17
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will release the logo of the World Punjabi Conference at Punjabi University's Senate Hall here on November 19.

More than 500 delegates are expected to take part in the conference, slated to be held from December 1 to 3.

The Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parvez Elahi, will be laying the foundation stone of the World Punjabi Centre on the university campus on December 1 instead of December 3 as planned earlier.


Pak delegation to take part in cultural fest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 17
A 125-member delegation from Pakistan, led by Mr Faqar Zaman, president of the World Punjabi Council, will participate in “World Punjabi Cultural festival — Saanjh Dillan Di” at Jalandhar on November 19. The delegation will enter India on November 19.

The festival is being organised by the Panj Panian Di Virasat. Leading Pakistani artistes, including Naseebo, Nuran Lal, Afsha, Akram Rahi, Jat brothers and Iqbal Bahoo, and leading singers from India, including Sukhwinder Singh, Hans Raj Hans, Harbhajan Mann, Pammi Bai and Harman, have confirmed their participation.


DAP shortage does not bother them
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
Shortage of diammonia phosphate (DAP) might have created problems for farmers across the region but there exists a section which is not affected by the shortage. Though small in number, farmers who have adopted organic farming are carrying on with their work as usual, little troubled by the fertiliser shortage.

“While initially I was skeptical about the entire concept, in my over five years of experience in organic farming I have realised that the boons far outnumbers the initial hiccups associated with it,” says Prem Babbar, who grows organic basmati, guavas and vegetables in Fazilka.

The shortage of DAP does not bother farmers like him “as we don’t need it. All we require is vermi-compost, neem cakes and bone meal along with other inputs like farm yard manure,” he says.

Another farmer Harjant Singh from Raike Kalan says: “Apart from being beneficial to health organic products have higher returns. Earlier we also used to be severely affected when conditions like fertiliser shortage occurred. But now I am happy that such things do not affect me. Of natural resources there is no shortage and I would recommend other farmers also to go in for organic farming”.

Advocating organic farming further, he says, “Since we adopted it in a phased manner we have prepared our land for it. We are careful about the seed we use and then on we require herbal extracts, neem oil, etc for better output and to prevent it from pests”.

Initial troubles like reduced yield, high price of the produce due to which takers are few , do exist, “but such troubles will come in your way whenever you go in for anything new,” says Prem.

“Earlier, I used to face a lot of trouble finding buyers, primarily because the selling price is higher and not many people are aware of the benefits organic products have. But now I manage to get a sufficient number of local buyers as well,” he says.

Harjant adopted a different mode. When he started with organic vegetables he gave them free to his friends “as a result of which they not only became aware of their benefits but started liking them as well. Now selling organic vegetables does not require as much effort as it used to earlier,” he reveals.

Not that if you do not use chemicals your input cost declines. “Input costs are almost similar. Chemicals are not used but even herbal products costs almost as much. The basic difference is in the price you get for your produce along with the health benefits,” says Mr Umendra Dutt, director, Kheti Virasat, an organisation that is engaged in promoting organic farming.

He says the government must adopt measures to promote organic farming which is far more beneficial. “Chemicals have adverse affects and are long-lasting. They affect one’s health also,” he said.

“While the government can generate awareness it would be beneficial for the people. Meanwhile, it will improve soil quality,” he added.


BKU activists burn effigy of cotton corporation chairman
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 17
Hundreds of activists of the BKU (Ekta), who have been holding a continuous dharna for the past three days in front of the office of cotton corporation of India (CCI) here to lodge their protest against the falling prices of raw cotton, today burnt the effigy of its chairman to protest against its negligible purchase of cotton in the cotton markets.

Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president, BKU (Ekta), while addressing the rally pointed out that on the one hand, Punjab government had been spending crores of rupees on the diversification of agriculture but on the other hand, the state government had been doing nothing in the matters pertaining to the supply of spurious cottonseeds and insecticides to the farmers.

He alleged that when the cotton crop had come to the markets, the Centre and the state government had deliberately stopped its agencies from purchasing the same so that the traders could loot cotton growers by purchasing their produce at throwaway prices.

Similarly, the authorities concerned had been failing to make payment to the sugarcane growers in lieu of their produce purchased by them.

The BKU leader further alleged that the Central Government had established the fact that it was pro-rich as it had reduced the prices of petrol, which was being used by the rich people and kept the prices of diesel unchanged, which was used by the poor people.

The Punjab Kisan Sabha, which also held its rally under the leadership of its president, Mr Gulzar Singh, demanded that the Central Government should fix Rs 3,500 as minimum support price (MSP) of raw cotton. They demanded that those farmers who had already sold off their cotton crop should be suitable compensated.

Meanwhile, the BKU (Ekta) activists pointed out that their dharna in front of the CCI office would continue till November 19. On November 19, a big dharna would be staged.

Due to the continuous blockade set up by activists of the BKU (Ekta) in front of the CCI office, the vehicular traffic on the Mall road was affected.


College teachers burn government’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Teachers working in over 160 non-government colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh today burnt the effigy of the state government after proceeding on mass casual leave.

The teachers — belonging or supporting the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) — were protesting against the “non-fulfillment” of their demands, including new salary structure in the light of recommendations made by the Johl Committee.

Earlier during the day, the teachers assembled in front of the Sector 17 office of the Director, Public Instructions (Colleges), before proceeding towards the residence of the Punjab Chief Minister. En route, they stopped at the Matka Chowk for burning the effigy.

The teachers were responding to a call given by the PCCTU, supported by the Principals’ Federation of Non-Government Colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, besides Non-Teaching Employees Union. Accusing the government of adopting a callous attitude, the members claimed that the government was delaying the release of grants on one pretext or the other.

Batala: Teaching work was completely paralysed in all four degree colleges here today. Teachers of S.L. Bawa D.A.V. College, R.R. Bawa D.A.V. College for Girls, Baring Union Christian College and Guru Nanak College went on mass casual leave today.

However, the local permanent college teachers went to Chandigarh today to attend the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) rally in favour of their long standing demands like release of pending grants, pension and gratuity among others.

PHAGWARA: Non-government college teachers of this area, including that of Guru Nanak College here today went on mass casual leave, held rally here and later left for Chandigarh to join a state-level protest called by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union to express resentment over Punjab government’s criminal apathy towards their demands, which included release of grant arrears to the tune of Rs 14.40 crore.

Prof Jasbir Singh Johal and Prof Satnam Singh Dhaliwal, former district presidents of the PCCTU declared that college teachers would also hold district- level rallies and block traffic in protest against non-acceptance of their demands. They said the protests would be held at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Patiala, Bathinda on November 23, 27, 30, December 1, 2 and 4, respectively.


Teachers on deputation to be called back, says Johar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 17
All teachers of the state, who are on deputation, would be called back, said Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar here today. The decision had been taken to ensure quality education in government schools that had been facing shortage of teachers, he added.

Interacting with mediapersons after attending a meeting of the grievance committee, he said with a view, to preventing teachers from shifting to other places on deputation, the Cabinet would be holding a meeting in this month. Rules would be framed to stop teachers from moving to places of their choice, he added.

“The Education Department has been facing paucity of funds and I met Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh to apprise him of the problems being faced by the department,” added Mr Johar.

He said he had requested Mr Arjun Singh that the Centre should release 100 per cent aid under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan. The state, he said, had been facing financial crisis and it was not possible for it to provide its 15 per cent share under the scheme. Otherwise, the state would not be able to benefit from the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan due to paucity of funds, he said.

Criticising Finance Minister Surinder Singla for his remark on government schools, Mr Johar said Mr Singla was not aware of the ground reality of the education system. In a welfare state, it was the responsibility of the state to provide education to everyone. It was not possible for the poor to send their children to public and other schools as they charge high fees.

“Government schools are the only hope for the poor. So I am making efforts to fill vacancies in various government schools so that the education standard in these schools could improve”, he added.

During the grievances committee meeting, Mr Johar directed PUDA and Mohali Municipal Council officials to properly maintain parks and roads in the town. He also directed officials of the PWD Department to properly look after the maintenance of road in Morinda and the national highway.


Nankana Sahib-Wagah highway planned
Our Correspondent

Wagah, November 17
The Chairman of the National Minority Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, has said the West Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parvez Elahi, has offered to construct a super-highway connecting Wagah and Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to facilitate faster movement of Sikh pilgrims visiting the famous shrines.

Talking to this correspondent, he said with this new highway, it would take only one and a half hours to reach the shrine, which otherwise took more than two and a half hours. He said the bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib announced by the Government of India was expected to commence soon as both governments were working out its modalities.

Mr Tarlochan Singh has invited Mr Elahi to participate in the World Punjabi Conference to be held on December 11, 12 and 13 at Kurukshetra. He said Elahi had assured that he would positively attend the conference, where over 250 delegates from Pakistan were expected to participate. He said Mr Elahi, who is visiting Punjab for the World Punjabi Conference being held at Patiala on December 1,2 and 3, had promised to visit Haryana.

Giving details of his meeting with the President of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), Mr Mastan Singh, the Chairman of the NCM said he had expressed a keen desire to visit Amritsar and meet the SGPC authorities.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said Mastan Singh had assured him that Rahat maryada in the Sikh shrines in Pakistan was being observed in accordance with the directions of Akal Takht and they held the Takht in high esteem.


Govt mulling scheme for urban poor: Selja
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), November 17
Ms Selja, Minister of State for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, today said the UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh had been contemplating the launch of a scheme for the social and economic uplift of the urban poor.

Ms Selja, who visited this border town today, said the UPA government was committed to fulfil all promises, it had made during the elections. The common minimum programme of the UPA was for the welfare of the people and hence it was being implemented in letter and spirit, she said.

Addressing a press conference she said the Congress would contest the Assembly elections in Haryana on the issue of corruption during the Om Prakash Chautala government.

The Congress would promise a clean, efficient and honest government to the electorate, she added.

She stated that whenever the Congress would form the Government in Haryana. Mr Chautala would be taken to task for his misdeeds, atrocities and scandals. She added that legal action in this connection would be taken against Mr Chautala and his associates.

Replying to a question, she said the hike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas had been made to improve the poor financial health of the country. She added that economic policies of the previous NDA government had caused economic harm to the country.


Badal offers to mediate between INLD, BJP
Our Correspondent

Wagah, November 17
The SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal had been under pressure to bring about rapprochement between INLD president Om Prakash Chautala and the BJP national leadership.

However, when Mr Badal was asked about efforts made by him in that regard, he said he did not meet any BJP leader, but his services were available in case both parties were willing to give him an opportunity.

He said there was a feeling that for defeating the Congress in Haryana, the INLD and the BJP would have to join hands.

Meanwhile, Mr Chautala said he would not approach the BJP for any pre-poll alliance.

However, in case the BJP wanted to join hands with the INLD, it would have to approach him on his terms, he added.


Wasteful expenditure? Not here anymore
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 17
Village panchayats may be in the news for all the wrong reasons, but a village in the traditionally backward region of Samana subdivision in this district is making waves for turning the tide against wasteful expenditure and observance of fanciful rituals.

The panchayat of Kamalpur made its own set of laws on August 14, which were painted on a wall at the entrance. These have taken ground without the panchayat being forced to file defaulters the laid down penalty of Rs 10,000.

When Mr Mehal Singh Sandhu’s wife begot a son after six daughters recently, he gave away only Rs 250 as ‘shagun’ to ‘hijras’ who congregated on his house to congratulate him. “Traditionally, the least they would done was take away Mehal’s buffalo or force him to part with a gold ornament”, said Mr Lakhwinder Singh of the same village. Mr Mehal Singh did not hold any party to celebrate the occasion. Mr Lakwinder Singh said the same was true for Mr Jarnail Singh, who observed a simple “bhog’’ ceremony after the demise of his father.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh said Mr Mehal Singh had been saved from spending a small fortune to celebrate the birth of his son, never mind whether he had the money or not. “Laying down the law for this has made it easy for Mehal and others who had sons since mid-August, when the new laws came into existence, to do away with hollow rituals without losing face in the village society”, he adds.

The new laws had been laid down by the villagers after taking the concurrence of the village. This had come about after leaving aside all rivalries with the sarpanch, Mr Surinder Singh, and a former sarpanch, Mr Mool Singh, initiating the movement. They said they had decided to take this step to ensure farmers were not caught in a debt trap of their own making. “Farm revenues have gone down since the past decade or so, but our expenditures have been on the rise, with farmers being forced to ape city dwellers due to social pressures”, said Mr Surinder Singh.

He said though this was having an adverse effect on farmers, they were helpless to stop the new practices. ” It was because of this that we thought that we must make a start and have clearly laid down rules on certain issues’’, he said.

The village panchayat went one step ahead and took signatures of all villagers on a stamp paper, in which all residents promised that they would pay a fine of Rs 10,000 in case of default or face social boycott.

The villagers had been directed not to make any ostentatious expenditure on death. Now, only an “ardas” and a simple “langar” had been allowed for the occasion. They could now give only Rs 250 to transvestites on births or marriages. Villagers could now not ask for any gift on Lohri.

The panchayat had ruled that since the village gurdwara was being constracted, villagers would not contribute towards the construction of any other gurdwara or religious place in the neighbourhood. “Kar sevaks” coming for this from outside were now greeted with this message on the village walls. The panchayat had also done away with the ribbon-cutting ceremony during marriages, besides other rituals which it felt only resulted in heavy expenditure by the rural folk.

Mr Surinder Singh said efforts would be made to end the practice of dowry, besides taking concrete steps to stop caste-based practices and ostentatious weddings in the village.


Patwari returns bribe money, courtsey MLA
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
Probably for the first time in Punjab a patwari posted at Kurhri patwar was today made to ‘return’ the bribe money that he had allegedly taken from a villager to make entries into the mutation register (register inteqaal).

This was made possible following the intervention of the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who on a complaint of Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Siau village, talked to the patwari. He reportedly admitted before the MLA that he had taken Rs 10,000 from Gurmeet Singh. The patwari returned ‘bribe’ money to Gurmeet Singh in the evening.

‘‘Gurmeet Singh had got his land registered four year ago but entries were not being done on the mutation registers. He met me today in an open darbar organised at Bakarpur village and complained that the patwari was not doing his work despite having taken Rs 10,000 as bribe from him. I asked him to call the patwari and introduce me as his relative from Canada. The patwari told me that Rs 10,000 was too less for a work as important as his. He even asked me to come to his office tomorrow morning for some additional ‘seva’,’’said Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

After assuring the patwari that he would be given more money, Mr Bir Devinder, still acting as Gurmeet's relative, told him that Gurmeet was trying to contact the local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh , for help. The MLA further said he told me to dissuade Gurmeet from doing so. Then he started speaking badly about me(Bir Devinder). He told me that Mr Bir Devinder was a stickler. He even related how I was conducting raids to check if employees were reaching their office in time.

After the end of this conversation, the MLA called the patwari and identified himself. ‘Patwari admitted that he had taken Rs 10,000. The MLA who was accompanied by the Sohana SHO, Mr Vinod Sharma, noted down details of the conversation. But action was kept pending in case the money was not returned.

‘‘I was told in the evening that the patwari had gone to Gurmeet's house and returned the money. He also promised to do Gurmeet's work by tomorrow morning,’’s aid the MLA.


Punjab Police develops software to decide appeals
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Appeals filed by Punjab Police personnel will no longer gather dust or remain buried in files for months together. No, not anymore. The Administration Wing of the Punjab Police has now developed a software for keeping track of appeals and representations filed by its officials.

The development is significant as the user-friendly software is expected to go a long way in expediting the process of grievance redressal. This is not all. Tainted police officials — filing appeals against adverse remarks, even punishments — will not be able to reap benefits after ensuring the burial of files containing their pleas.

As of now, a large number of police officials were enjoying all the benefits as action was hardly initiated till the disposal of their appeals.

The software will be extensively used by the ministerial staff of the establishment branch — at least this is what senior Punjab Police officers are claiming. They add that the entire information about the appeals and other representations will just be a click away.

Giving details of "Appeal management system", the officers say that the date of filing the representation will be flashed on the computer screen, along with the status, nature and details of the prayer.

They add that information about action taken on the basis of the appeals, along with the name of the dealing hand, will also be specified.

This, they insist, will help senior police officers in fixing responsibilities in case of unnecessary delays.

The software has been developed under the guidance of Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta, along with Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh.

The evolution of the system is reportedly "aimed at making the Punjab Police more techno-savvy". It is part of a "major" personnel management plan devised by the authorities.

They have already initiated the process of introducing 'Human Resource Information System'. The system enables top cops to know the details of promotions, training, rewards and punishments granted to police officials by simply pressing computer keys.

The project is expected to cut down efforts and time required in generation and compilation of data about cops at all levels.

It will be of considerable assistance in policy planning. The process of transfers will also be rationalised, the officials are claiming.

The authorities have already undertaken an exercise to issue "smart identity cards" to the entire police force.


PSEB’s passbook system a non-starter
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 17
The pass book system, introduced by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) two years back, remains a non-starter. In this scheme, pass books are kept near electricity meters to keep a record of meter readings. Pass books have been gathering dust near electricity meters, but this has never been questioned by any (PSEB) employee.

This correspondent visited certain complexes and saw dirty pass books without a single entry in them. At the time of the introduction of this scheme, it was announced that meter readers would enter the meter readings in these pass books, which would be kept near the electricity meters. The PSEB had spent crores on this scheme.

The PSEB’s drop-in box scheme also got a poor response from the consumers, who had to drop their bill payment cheques in boxes in PSEB offices. The consumers had been asked to drop in their cheques only on the last date of payment, which was considered risky by the consumers.

Meanwhile, the PSEB has decided to instal two bill payment machines in Jalandhar to facilitate consumers to deposit their electricity bills. Sources said Rs 114 crore would be spent in the north zone in the next two years under the Accelerated Power Reforms and Development Programme to strengthen power supply through an improved power distribution system.


Brick-kiln owners hold protest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 17
The Punjab Brick Kiln Owners Association held a demonstration in front of the office of the Punjab Pollution Control Board in protest against those kilns which were moulding bricks without the use of fly ash.

In a memorandum to the Chairman of the board, Mr Sarabjit Singh Makkar, and Mr Ashok Mittal, president and general secretary, respectively, of the association, said the kilns which were not using fly ash were violating the guidelines of the board.

The association alleged that some officials of the Pollution Control Board, particularly in Hoshiarpur district, were hand in glove with brick-kiln owners who were not using fly ash in the recommended ratio and urged the Chairman to take action against such officials.

They also urged him to ensure that the moulding of bricks took place in a radius of 100 km from thermal plants by mixing 25 per cent fly ash on weight-to-weight basis.


Employees thank CM for approving 15 p.c. HRA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Members of Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union have thanked the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and MP, Perneet Kaur, for the Punjab Cabinet approving the case of 15 per cent house rent for employees of aided schools serving in Patiala city .

In a joint statement issued here yesterday, union leaders have sought that the government should look into their other demands such as revival of the old pension scheme of the employees of aided schools by reverting the decision passed in the Assembly session on September 25, 2003 and merger of 50 per cent DA in the basic pay of these employees at the earliest. the union leaders have been taking up the matter with the other leaders and the authorities concerned so that the employees can put in more work with full dedication.


CM to present Shiromani awards on Nov 28
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 17
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will give away the Shiromani awards on the concluding day of “Punjabi saptah” slated to be held on the State Languages Department’s premises from November 22 to 28.

The awards, which have been delayed for the past four years, will carry a total prize of Rs 52 lakh.

Giving this information, Mr M.R Banga, Additional Director of the department said the saptah would be inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.


Seminar on cultural heritage

Amritsar, November 17
A national seminar on the “Cultural heritage of Amritsar: efforts and processes of its conservation” would be held on November 19 and 20 by Guru Nanak Dev University, this was stated in a press release issued here today.

The seminar is being organised by the Amritsar Heritage Society in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) under the guidance of the Punjab Government.

According to Dr Sukhdev Singh, state convener for INTACH, an eminent Pakistani author and president of the world Punjabi Council, Mr Fakhar Zaman, would be the guest of honour. — OC


VHP threatens stir over seer’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 17
The VHP and allied organisations took out a protest march from Geeta Mandir here today to express resentment over the arrest of Shankracharya in a murder case.

The march, led by Dr Ram Kumar Goyal former MLA, passed through the main areas of the town. Other leaders included Mr Bhupinder Snehi, president, local unit of the BJP, Dr Prem Balana, organising secretary, VHP, Mr Pramil Kalani, president Sanatan Dharam Sabha.

They went to the subdivisional complex and submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India. They warned that the arrest of the Shankracharya could lead to a nationwide law and order problem.

The signatories to the memorandum included Mr Dharam Chand Gupta, president, local VHP unit, Mr Sandeep Rinwa, district BJP unit chief, Mr Ajay Kataria, joint secretary, state unit of the ABVP, and Mr Charan Dass Swami, local RSS unit chief. They demanded immediate release of Shankracharya.


Speaker pays tributes to Lala Lajpat Rai
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 17
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, participated in a martyrdom day function of Lala Lajpat Rai at Dhudike village, near here, today.

Paying tributes to Lala Lajpat Rai, the Speaker said that the country would always remember the contribution of Lalaji in the freedom struggle.

He announced that a big memorial would be built in memory of Lala Lajpat Rai at Dhudike in the coming years.

The secretary of the Lala Lajpat Rai birthplace Memorial Committee, Mr Satpal Grover, said the tourism minister of Pakistan had told him that they were bringing a resolution for erecting a memorial to Lala Lajpat Rai in Lahore.


Rodrigues to visit Golden Temple today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Punjab Governor and Administrator of Chandigarh, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and also the Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar tomorrow. Later, he will also pay tributes to the martyrs at the historic Jallianwala Bagh.


Bhatt Biradari

Patiala, November 17
Bibi Rajinder Kaur Lard (UK) was unanimously elected Patron of the Bhatt biradari at a meeting held here today.

The other office bearers are: President — Mr Ajit Singh Garhiwale; Vice-Presidents — Mr Sarup Singh Yogi, Mr Chanan Singh and Gulzar Singh Digpal; General Secretary — Mr Kultar Singh; Secretary — Mr Satnam Singh; Treasurer — Mr Angrez Singh, executive members — Jathedar Tirath Singh, Mr Rachpal Singh, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Baldev Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh Johnny, Mr Gurdeep Singh Bittu, Mr Sukhchain Singh and Mr Pritam Singh. OC


High Court
Gunman’s statement recorded
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
The statement of Sub-Inspector Rattan Singh, the gunman of a former Punjab Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was recorded today in the court of, Mrs Justice Kiran Anand Lall, of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The statement was recorded to verify allegations that Capt Kanwaljit Singh misused the official machinery to ensure his victory from the Banur Assembly constituency in Patiala district in the February, 2002 Assembly elections.

It was done to check if the allowances taken by him during the campaigning matched the tour of the candidate.

An election petition filed by defeated Congress candidate, Ms Sheelam Sohi, is currently being heard by the High Court. The petitioner has alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh misused official machinery during campaigning. Capt Kanwaljit Singh had won the seat by a very slender margin.

After recording the statement of the police official, the Bench adjourned the case to December 1.

Case adjourned

Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar, of the High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing in a petition filed by, Mr Kamaljt Singh, seeking cancellation of bail granted to SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur in a case relating to the mysterious death of her daughter in 2000.

Mr Kamaljit, has prayed that the bail granted to Bibi be cancelled as she was trying to intimidate witnesses in the case. The petitioner claims to have married the deceased daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur. She died under mysterious circumstances, with the petitioner accusing Bibi Jagir Kaur of having got her eliminated as she married him.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating the matter.

The case will now come up for further hearing on December 8.


Kisan front seeks hike in wheat MSP
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 17
Demanding Rs. 800 per quintal as wheat minimum support price (MSP) for wheat the Punjab Khetiwadi Kisan Vikas Front ( PKKVF) has termed the hike of Rs 10 in the wheat MSP as gross injustice to farmers.

Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian, president, PKKVF, in a written press statement here said the Union Government should have made Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, recommendations as the basis for determining the investments as well as agricultural inputs for the purpose of fixing the MSP for wheat.

Mr Kulrian alleged that Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh had not impressed upon the Union Government to offer suitable MSP for wheat to improve the lot of farmers.


Mohan Singh made Punjab Planning Board member
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 17
Mr Mohan Singh, Director General, Centre for International Trade & Industry (CITI) has been appointed a non-official member of the Punjab State Planning Board by the Governor of Punjab. Orders to this effect were issued on October 29.

Mr Mohan Singh said that he would assist the Punjab State Planning Board to draw up a road map for Punjab to reach its Vision 2020. He said that farmers in the state faced significant challenges with respect to the production and marketing of their produce. He strongly felt that farmers desperately needed the help of central and state government agencies and institutions in specifically preparing them for improvement in global competition and profitability for agriculture and enhancement of economic opportunities in rural areas.

He further said that to become globally competitive in agriculture, farmers needed lot of awareness regarding application of latest technologies in agribusiness sector, especially improving the quality and yield of various crops. There was a need to capitalise on the agriculture core strengths to establish a major value addition in agro-food industry based on cereals, milk, fruit and vegetables to generate domestic wealth. He wished to make our rural India a major exporter of value added agro-food products.

Talking about the industrial scenario and the role of government, he said that he would ensure that the industrial promotion departments of the state government realised that our SMEs had to compete with the world. Therefore, there was a need to strengthen the SMEs by providing common facilities like basic infrastructure to access global markets for promotion of export from Punjab.


Rajput is new DC of Lahaul-Spiti
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 17
The Himachal Government today transferred Mr Pushpendra Rajput, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, and posted him as Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, in place of Mr B.R. Verma.

Mr Rajput was also holding the additional charge as Managing Director, HP Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation.

Mr Verma’s posting would be made later.


Probe sought into murder case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 17
Claiming that the Danial Masih and members of his family was innocent, residents of Bishop House, in a signed representation to SP City, Mr Harmanbir Singh, today urged to hold proper investigations in the case.

Masih and his family members, including wife Susan and daughter Rozy, were arrested for murdering his son-in-law Gulshan Kumar on November 15 after a complaint was lodged.

In a press conference here, Mr Padam Anthony, a family friend of the accused, claimed that the deceased had not come to his in-laws’ house for the past one year and Rozy had been staying with her parents after mutual consent of the separated couple while Gulshan had been staying with his uncle and aunt at Malah.

Showing an advertisement published in a newspaper, he claimed that the parents of Gulshan had debarred him from their property.


Smack high on peddlers’ list
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 17
Youngsters of Doaba region are falling prey to drugs, especially smack, for its easy availability. It has also attracted drug peddlers to pump big money into the murky business because of high returns.

Youngsters prefer it to other drug for its “high kick” and reasonable price. But it is still to surpass the growing sale of psychotropic drugs, which, according to police sources, were available freely over the counter in all big cities and small towns and even villages of Doaba region.

What is more shocking is the fact that 30 of about 100 such smugglers are active in Jalandhar district only, according to police sources. Higher profits are attracting more into its fold. For example, if a drug peddler buys 1 kg of smack for Rs 1 lakh he can easily command a price between Rs 2-3 lakh here for its high demand in Doaba region. On the other hand, heroine, which is allegedly smuggled in from Pakistan, is said to be priced at Rs 5 lakh per kg and is available between Rs 5 and Rs 10 a kg in Punjab, even through its international price is said to be around Rs 1 crore a kg.

According to police records, 10 drug peddlers active in Kapurthala, eight in Hoshiarpur and nine in Nawanshahr districts. Interestingly, there has been no major recovery of drugs or arrest of peddlers during the past about one and half years even as 26 cases were registered in Kapurthala, 69 in Nawanshahr, 36 in Hoshiarpur and 106 in Jalandhar districts under the NDPS Act.

Charas was reportedly being smuggled into Punjab and Mandi and Kullu areas of Himachal Pradesh through Hoshiarpur.


Woman killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 17
A middle-aged woman was crushed to death by a bus when she was trying to cross the road near Nakodar Chowk here today.

According to the police, the victim, Rajrani, belonged to Dyalpur village. She was about to cross the road, when a Punjab Roadways bus hit her. She died on the spot. A case has been registered.

Meanwhile, the police has recovered the mutilated body of a migrant labourer who went missing late last night.

He was reportedly killed in a rail mishap last night.

The victim was identified as Tulsi Ram of Dehra Dun. The GRP authorities have registered a case.

The wife of the deceased, Vimla, said that her husband had gone to purchase some household items last evening.


Food supply inspector held for graft
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 17
The Vigilance Bureau arrested food supply inspector Tarlochan Singh while accepting bribe for making a ration card at Kishanpur Kalan, near here, today.

Sources said that complainant Jagroop Singh of Kokri Butra village had recently started living separately and wanted to get a new ration card made. He approached Tarlochan Singh for the job, but he raised some unnecessary objections.

He demanded Rs 1,000 for issuing him a ration card.

A Vigilance team laid a trap and caught Tarlochan Singh red-handed while he was taking Rs 500 as advance from Jagroop Singh.


Police custody for PCO owner’s murder accused
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 17
CIA staff of the district police today presented all three arrested accused of kidnapping and murdering the PCO owner here in the court of Mr. D.S.Johal, Additional CJM.

After hearing the Public Prosecutor, the CJM remanded them in police custody up to November 19.

Two days before the Diwali unidentified persons had kidnapped Bunty (25), the PCO owner, here.

The conspiracy to kidnap and murder Bunty was hatched in Italy and executed here through contract killing.

The CIA staff had arrested three persons including Harinder Singh Rana, Darshan Singh and Kulwant Singh, whereas two other migrant labrourers are still at large.


2 killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 17
Two persons were killed when a truck collided with a tempo near Landeke village on the Moga-Amritsar road here today.

The deceased have been identified as medical representative Manoj Kumar and tempo driver Prem Chand.

They were on their way to supply medicines in Moga. 


Murder over property alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 17
Gurmail Singh (32) of Bhorshi Rajputa village under Khalchian police station falling under Majitha police district, was allegedly murdered by Mangal Singh of Ratangarh village over a land dispute here last evening.

The police has registered a case under Section 302 and 341 IPC.

Prabhjot kaur wife of the deceased in her complaint, stated that the suspect had taken Gurmail along with him for settling a land dispute and did not return after that.

His body was found in the farmhouse of mangal Singh in Ratangarh village, she alleged.


Students oppose VC’s ‘anti-Punjabi’ policy, court arrest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 17
Nearly 24 students owing allegiance to the Punjabi University Students Confederation and from various colleges of the city today courted arrest on the Punjabi University campus here today afternoon.

They were subsequently produced before the local SDM who sent them to jail after they failed to furnish bail bonds of Rs 10,000 each. The students raised slogans against the VC despite the fact that there were court orders prohibiting any demonstartion in the university.

The students, who were protesting against the `anti-Punjabi language’ policies of the VC, Dr S.S. Boparai, first staged a protest at the university’s main gate and later on moved to the VC’s office where they courted arrest. The students were subjected to mild cane charge by the police which had assembled in front of the VC’s office apprehending that the situation might take a turn for the worst.

Addressing the rally at the university’s gate, student leaders Keerat Grewal and Sukhjit Chahal, said that the VC had a hidden agenda which he would unveil during the World Punjabi Conference to be held at the university from December 1 to 3. The leaders claimed that the VC was doing injustice to the Punjabi language by going in for ‘anti-Punjabi language policies’.

They claimed that the very existence of the university, which was set up for the development of Punjabi language in the state, would be defeated if the VC went ahead with his policies. They also demanded that the case against the suspended leaders be withdrawn back and they be re-admitted to the university.

The leaders added that if the suspension of the students was not revoked they would organise strikes in all Patiala-based Punjabi University colleges on November 19.


Nod to remove illiteracy in 15-35 age group
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 17
The New Delhi-based National Literacy Mission has accorded permission to Patiala district to remove illiteracy in the age group of 15 to 35 years.

According to a survey in August this year, there were 48,500 uneducated people in the district. However, this figure could not be calculated properly due to floods in the district.

According to a later survey, it was found that the literacy rate in the district was 69.96 per cent and the number of uneducated and illiterate persons was six lakh out of a total population of 18.5 lakh. Nearly, 1.50 lakh people were found to be in the age group of 15-35 years and it will be this age group which will be targeted by the district administration on the recommendation of the National Literacy Mission.

Meanwhile, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of ADC J.S. Brar which was also attended by the District Education Officers (primary and elementary) and other officials. Various modalities were worked out and several clusters in the district were identified where the administration will work to weed out illiteracy in the 15-35 age group.


ABVP seeks elections to student bodies
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 17
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) today demanded that the state government should revive students’ bodies by holding elections for the same.

Addressing a press conference here, Mohit Bhardwaj, stat secretary, said that there was need to revive student councils to ensure proper redress of problems related to the student community. He further said that free travel in state-owned buses should be allowed to the students hailing from rural areas.

The ABVP urged the UPA government not to make changes in the NCERT books.


Jalandhar college lifts trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 17
The APJ College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar, lifted the Guru Nanak Dev University overall youth festival trophy on the final day today.

The BBK DAV College for Women, Amritsar, stood second, while DAV College, Amritsar, third

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, presided over the valedictory function and gave away trophies and certificates to the winners. She was welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh.

APJ College, Jalandhar, also won the music, theatre and fine art trophies. In Music, DAV College, Jalandhar, finished second. In the literary competition, Government College of Education, Jalandhar, remained second. In the theatre competition, DAV College, Amritsar, stood runners-up.


NAAC team to visit college

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 17
Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal of the college, while addressing a press conference said today that the NAAC team from Bangalore would visit the college from November 18 to 20. The team would be led by its Chairperson, Dr L.S. Rathore, Dr S.K. Dhawan and Dr Mehmooda Shafi. OC

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