P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



MC postpones auction following SGPC opposition
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, November 19
The local municipal corporation had to postpone the auction of land adjoining the deorhi of Gurdwara Santokhsar Sahib opposite the corporation office today, due to strong opposition from the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).

The police took Daljit Singh, the in charge of SGPC task force, into custody who was reportedly released after the auction was postponed.

The municipal corporation had announced the auction of about 400 yards of land adjoining the gurdwara for constructing 20 shops few days ago. The corporation had reportedly announced the auction earlier also but it could not take-off due to dispute with the SGPC.

Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta and Mr Jaswinder Singh, SGPC members, held a meeting with the corporation commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh Kang.

Balwinder Singh, a Granthi of the gurdwara and some eyewitness while talking to this correspondent alleged that the police manhandled about 10 to 12 SGPC employee and arrested Daljit Singh. He alleged they also tore some banners. The SGPC officials had announced on speaker that the land was disputed and the committee would not allow any construction on this land as it belonged to gurdwara, he claimed.

Mr Mehta and Mr Jaswinder said the land belonged to gurdwara. However, they added, the SGPC was ready to give the government a reasonable price for the land. They said the SGPC had planned to make a parking place and a sarai. They claimed they met MC commissioner who had assured them that the auction would be cancelled.

However, Mr Kang could not be contacted even after repeated attempts.


4 absentee lecturers suspended
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Playing tough with absentee teachers, the Punjab Government today ordered the suspension four school lecturers posted in Moga district.

They are Mr Ajmer Singh, Government Senior Secondary School, Rania, Mr Mastan Singh, Government Senior Secondary School, Gholian Khurad, Mr Suraj Mal, Senior Secondary School, Bhinder Kalan, and Mr Sohan Lal, Government Senior Secondary School, G.T.B. Garh, Moga district. Their suspension order has been issued by Mrs Tejinder Kaur, Principal Secretary (School Education). During the suspension, they have been asked to report at their place of posting.

During a surprise check made by a team of top officers of the Education Department led by Mr S.S. Randhawa, Director, and Mr Baldev Raj, Deputy Director of the State Council of Education, Research and Training (SCERT), these lecturers were allegedly found absent from duty on September 14 at the office of the District Institute of Education and Training, Khosa Pando (Moga), where they were posted on deputation at that time.

Immediately after the checking, they were repatriated to their present place of posting. The raid to check the presence of teachers in the institute was conducted on the direction of the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar. Prior intimation regarding the raid was given to the Director-General of Schools and other authorities concerned, it is learnt.

Mr Ajmer Singh and Mr Mastan Singh, are lecturers in mathematics. Mr Suraj Mal teaches Commerce and Mr Sohan Lal is a lecturer in Hindi.

Mrs Tejinder Kaur has forwarded their suspension order to the District Education Officer (Moga), and other authorities concerned, including school Principals, where the suspended lecturers are posted at present.

Mr Randhawa, who had led the checking party, has been asked by Mrs Tejinder Kaur to prepare the chargesheet to be served upon the suspended lecturers immediately. He has been told to send the chargesheet to the state government for further action.

The surprise checking of schools was been ordered by Mr Johar following numerous complaints regarding growing absenteeism from the government schools. Most of these complaints were found to be correct. Whenever, senior officers conducted the surprise checks, they found teachers absent at various places. As the Education Department was facing strong criticism not only from people but also from certain senior ministers, the department authorities pulled up their socks to set things right at the school level.


Bhattal launches self-help group schemes for women
Tribune News Service

Morinda, November 19
The Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today called upon women of the state to form self-help groups for self-reliance. She said, the present environment women could become self-reliant through the process of earning-saving reinvestment by forming self-help group in each village.

Addressing hundreds of women from all over the state on the occasion of birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at a state function here, Ms Bhattal launched new self-help group schemes for 10,000 women of the state.

Giving details, she said new self-help groups would also be formed to rope in all women dairy farmers. She said 200 villages would be covered in the first phase of the programme. Every village will have five self-help groups of 10 women each.

The existing self-help groups would be re-oriented to make their saving programme meaningful, she added.

“Under the scheme, women will be trained and oriented to a new concept of entrepreneurship. Be-sides dairy farming, they will be imparted training in converting milk into value-added products” she added.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, said the government was making effort to get Central aid to help the people through self-help group. He said many a time it happened that that the funds allocated to the state by the Centre for the development purposes could not be availed due to lack of awareness.


Women entrepreneurs honoured
Tribune News Service

Morinda, November 19
They were just panchayat members before the Punjab’s Dairy Development Department organised a camp in their village last year. Today, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bal and Ms Surinder Kaur of a village in Khanna are nothing less than entrepreneurs.

The two, along with several other women, were honoured for their contribution towards women empowerment during an impressive function organised on the occasion of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

Proudly displaying the certificates handed over to them, the two said 12 months ago they had no idea that one day they could be earning extra money for the welfare of their families.

Recalling the events of the day that changed their lives, Ms Bal said: “The Dairy Development Department officials went from house to house explaining how women could make more money without leaving the security of their homes. Inspired by their talk, we joined a training programme organised by the department”.

Giving details, Ms Surinder Kaur added: “During the training we were instructed about the art of collectively preparing paneer. We were also taught how to market the product. Soon we formed a self-help group and started working together. Today, we all are earning nothing less than Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per month”.


Empowering women is her aim
NGO plans to cover 400 Punjab villages
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Morinda, November 19
Her determined voice booming from overhead speakers inspires you to “take the future in your own hands” as Ms Nandita Bakshi addresses a massive gathering of 2,000 women in Dusherra ground here. As she speaks about her organisation’s pilot project in two districts of Punjab aimed at solving problems like female feticide and exploitation by empowering women, you realise the former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer is not without plans.

Ms Bakshi’s theory is not so complicated. Secretary of the Delhi-based non-government organisation “Bisnouli Sarvodaya Gramodyog Sewa Sanstha”, Ms Bakshi believes that social issues like dowry deaths and harassment cannot be tackled until women are economically and emotionally empowered.

That’s the reason why she, along with organisation’s President Vijay Jha, are training Delhi women in the art of making and marketing silk neckties with Madhuban paintings on them, along with carry bags, photo frames and even Christmas decorations.

“We are basically working with 35 to 40 self-help groups of slum women”, she declares proudly. Showing you a specimen, she adds: “The ties are hot favourites among the citizens of Singapore and England. Even the Italians are having a look at the stuff. You can buy them from duty free shops in Delhi and Mumbai”.

As she tell you more and more about herself, the products and the efforts of women behind the success story of their project, you realise that Ms Bakshi has reasons to feel satisfied.

She resigned from her “well settled” government job to “do something more for society”. In the end she managed to help women earn up to Rs 3,000 a month without even leaving the security of their houses.

Regarding their operations in Punjab, Ms Bakshi says that she, along with retired IPS officer Jha, choose Morinda and Chamkaur Sahib for their pilot project because the residents of both places have affiliations to different political parties. “We basically want to tell the people that our organisation has nothing to do with the Congress or the Akalis,” she smiles.

Handing over a copy of their organisation’s brochure, she adds: “We plan to cover as many as 400 villages under the scheme. You see, we basically plan to form self-help groups, each comprising about 10 women. After that we will impart income-generating training to them”.

Punjab, she says, is rich in milk. “So, we will be encouraging them to go in for preparing paneer. But our endeavor will not end here. We will use our contacts in India and abroad for creating a market for the products so that the producers can sell what they prepare”.

But why did she select Punjab after Delhi? “Well, I belong to Jalandhar. But that is not the only reason behind my desire to do something here. Punjab is a prosperous state, but unfortunately not without problems,” she asserts.

Referring to a Human Resource Development report, she says: “There is demographic imbalance in the state. Out of 10 districts worse affected by the menace of female feticide, seven are in Punjab. No wonder, there are just 760 women per 1,000 men. The problem cannot be solved till the women are made aware of their rights”.

She adds that her organisation is also in touch with the Punjab Government for setting up an institute for rural development. The institute, she says, will go a long way in helping women realise that they can live on their own and do not have to depend upon charity.

“People should realise that there are no jobs for them. They have to form their own little groups and earn their livelihood”, she concludes. As she gets up to interact with other women entrepreneurs, you only wish the very best for her.


Warm welcome to Pak delegates
Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 19
Distances ceased to matter for once. At least this is what most of the delegates from Pakistan, who have come to attend the two-day World Punjabi Cultural Festival “Mitti Dee Khushboo” here, seemed to be bent on stressing. Though with a floral welcome and showering of flowers, there was an almost cloying sweetness about the welcome accorded to the Pakistani delegates at the Apeejay College of Fine Arts here, the undercurrents of “meaningful exchange without mincing any words” were visible.

“The peace process has started. No one can subvert it now. There is a qualitative shift in the peace efforts. Earlier, it used to be a government-to-government initiative. Now, people have come forward in all earnestness,” Mr Fakhr Zaman, President, World Punjabi Conference, told The Tribune. “The only bottleneck is the visa system, that needs to be amended at the earliest. Starting of a bus service between Kashmir and Muzaffarabad will be a welcome step,” he added. He reiterated that the key to durable peace between the two countries was the participation of both Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab in the peace process.

Noted Pakistani singer Nasibo Lal said that the whole experience, right from the Wagah border welcome to the interaction with too-eager-to-please college students, was touching. “An artiste is like a gust of wind. You cannot bind them. They belong to ‘the whole’. They bring with them love and harmony,” she explained. Her mother, Kanees Fatima, who seemed to be enjoying every bit of the Indian hospitality, agreed with her. It was an overwhelmingly charming experience for singer Akram Rahi, who could not help saying, “If I am called again to this country, I will not think twice. I will come rushing”. He added in a lighter vein, “We may as well have a house here, so that we can stay here whenever we feel like”.

Some nostalgic sharing of moments came from actress, classical dancer and film producer Zarine Sulemann, whose father was the education minister in the court of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala. Vulgarity in dances these days bothered her, she said. “A bit of modification is tolerable, but tinkering with the basics in the name of fusion is unpardonable,” she added.

It was time to do some hard talk for, Mr Gian Singh, member, Pakistan National Assembly, who alleged that 75 per cent of the land of historical gurdwaras in Pakistan had been usurped by the Waqf Board there. “We need to save the remaining 25 per cent. Whenever the relations between the two countries sour, the minorities in Pakistan have to bear the brunt,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the very first day, the Indian chapter of the society “Punjan Panian Dee Virasat” was mired in controversy. Amid allegations that the society had become a “family affair”, with, Dr Swaran Singh, as its president and his son as its finance secretary, Dr A.S. Mahal, general secretary of the society, was appointed officiating finance secretary. Earlier, Mr Jageer Singh Kahlon, one of the members of the society, had levelled allegations that the society, had been “taken over” by a few individuals and that it was working in an undemocratic manner.


42 Indian journalists cross over to Pak

Wagah, November 19
A delegation of 42 Indian journalists and members of the South-Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) today crossed over to Pakistan through the Wagah border.

The delegation is being led by K.K. Katyal, president of SAFMA in India. Most of the journalists of electronic and print media are from Delhi, Jammu and Punjab.

SAFMA secretary-general Satnam Singh Manak said 25 members of the Indian delegation would also visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“The visit of India-based journalists would enormously help them to write authentic reports on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and have a first hand account of the state of affairs of the masses living there”, he said.

SAFMA said this was a “reciprocal” trip after a 15-member delegation of Pakistani journalists had visited Jammu and Kashmir early last month.

The delegation would attend a conference on “solutions of conflicts among the masses of South Asia” to be held at Lahore from November 20 to 22.

After attending it, 25 journalists would go to PoK and rest of the media persons would come back to India on November 23, he said. — PTI


Experts for changes in building bylaws to save city heritage
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19
As you walk past the old walled city of Amritsar, a crumbling heritage stares you in the face. The meandering streets that once housed traditional structures built on intimate scales are now homes to all forms of encroachments leaving little or no space for pedestrians. The rhythmic arches on the facades of buildings in the city heart are ageing fast. Almost every old construction is in bad company of a new one. Visual incoherence in the walled city is thus almost total.

The celebration of Amritsar’s heritage by way of a festival in the given scenario would have appeared futile had it not been for today’s brainstorming session on the conservation of Amritsar’s cultural heritage. Made possible by the efforts of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the session focused on the ways of preserving a lost heritage. The guest of honour on the occasion was Pakistani writer Fakhar Zaman who called for peace between India and Pakistan, while stressing the need to abolish visa regime. He also said that writers needed to take up an anti-establishment stance.

On the conservation front, keynote speaker Dr S.S. Bhatti, former Principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, demanded an urgent documentation of all the existing historical monuments of Amritsar. Speaking to the Tribune Dr Bhatti said the Administration of Amritsar had not yet prepared dimensioned drawings of heritage buildings that need restoration. “There is no inventory, no baseline document which can then be used to chalk out a conservation strategy for the city which was built by the gurus from a psycho-spiritual perspective. Old structures are being demolished and new ones are coming up in utter disregard to the original concept.”

Dr Bhatti suggested the establishment of Amritsar Architectural and Cultural Heritage Research and Development Cell on GND University campus. “Students of the Architecture Department can be asked to document old buildings as part of the project. Remote sensing devices should also be used to develop the city’s topographical and contour plan which is the need of the hour,” he said.

Visual incoherence in the walled city was another issue for deliberation, with Prof Ranbir Kaur from the Department of Architecture, GND University, exposing flaws in the building bylaws, which encourage haphazard construction.

She talked of how glorious old buildings had disappeared under pressure from urban constructions. Listing damages to old structures like “katras”, “bungas,” old wells, “jharokhas” and arches, she called for immediate changes in legislation. “There is a need to prevent further changes to the traditional street facades. Visual incompatibility caused due to existence of old and new buildings must also be tackled,” she said.

Earlier the GND University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, said the task of heritage conservation could only become possible by people’s involvement. Mr Sukhdev Singh, Punjab State Convenor of INTACH, also spoke on the occasion. Among other delegates was Mr Manu Bhatnagar from National Heritage Division of INTACH who presented a paper on water harvesting in Delhi.


Govt to act tough with farmers’ stir
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Unable to contain the growing unrest among farmers owing allegiance to the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU-Ekta), the Punjab Government has decided to deal firmly with any law and order problems arising out of their November 22 dharnas and rallies.

Demanding immediate unconditional release of all farmers and their family members arrested during the November 3 rail roko agitation, the BKU (Ekta) has now given a call for dharnas and protest rallies at district headquarters in Bathinda, Mansa, Moga and Amritsar on November 22.

The BKU (Ekta) is now mobilising families of farmers to join dharnas and court arrest on November 22.

"As long as they remain peaceful, there would be no problem. But the moment they try to create any law and order problem or take law in their hands, the government would act firmly," said a spokesman of the Punjab Government.

The BKU (Ekta) leadership holds that more than 700 farmers and women, languishing in jails at various places, were being subjected to inhuman treatment. Pressure was also being built on them to denounce their association with the BKU (Ekta). In Amritsar and Bathinda jails, the arrested farmers also started hunger strikes.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of Union, told The Tribune over the telephone that the police was conducting raids on hideouts of prominent leaders of the union.

Farmers have not been paid their dues for the sugarcane supplied to various cooperative sugar mills. Besides, no compensation has been paid to them for the losses they suffered due to natural calamities, including drought like situation during early part of monsoon and unseasonal rain and hailstorms in October.

The BKU (Ekta) is also critical of the Congress government in the state as well as the UPA Government at the Centre for their alleged "anti-farmer policies".


SAD to hold rallies in state
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 19
The political affairs committee of SAD at its meeting held at Mata Gujri Bhavan here today decide to hold rallies and dharnas in the state in protest against alleged corruption in government offices, DSP recruitment scandal, increase in prices of essential commodities, including diesel and petrol, privatisation proposal of the PSEB, lathicharge on agitating farmers and failures of the government. The party will organise dharnas at district headquarters. The dharnas will commence from December 2 at Bathinda and then the process will start at the Subdivisional level, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while talking to the mediapersons after the meeting. In this meeting eight resolutions were passed.

He said at present the state was facing various problems like shortage of DAP fertilisers and fleecing by traders. He said the MSP for sugarcane and cotton was a cruel joke with the farmers.

He said the government was keen to hand over control of the PSEB to private parties.


Defying age for passion
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19
Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia continues to reinvent himself as a musician. Notwithstanding the hazards of sunset years, the master flutist ensures his frequent appearance in the concert circuit besides composing melodies that literally defy his age. Those who saw him in concert against the magnificent backdrop of Khalsa College in the Holy City last night would know exactly what masterful handling of the North Indian bamboo flute is all about.

The musician simply gestures in humility as you attempt a trail of his genius. “I have simply worshipped my faith, unmindful of the results it fetches for me. I claim no repute. Whatever I create is by the will of God and the blessings of my gurus,” says the 70-plus musician in whose control the pastoral flute assumes truly classicist dimensions. Even today he travels extensively to keep his date with the instrument. And he loves to travel by road because the journey almost always enhances his musical reserves.

No inheritor of great legacies, Pt Chaurasia remains the brilliant product of his own passion for melody. For ages, he has been rediscovering the ragas by blending the traditional with the modern. Pt Chaurasia refers to “Eternity” as one album that showcases his comfort level in the realms of both western and Indian classical music.

“Music recognises no confines. It is like a fragrance that must spread far and wide. The further it goes the better it will be for the cultural health of human race,” signals the maestro who has extensively collaborated with Indian musicians like Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma as well as western artistes like John Mclaughlin and Jan Garbarek.

Originally a practitioner of vocal music, which he learnt from Pt Rajaram at Allahbad, Pt Chaurasia soon gave in to the charms of the flute. While recalling his journey, the classical exponent does not fail to mention the fine tutelage he received from Pt Bholanath and Annapurna Devi who honed his talent selflessly. The “maestro-to-be” also tells how he took no time to decide that he needed to give up his job at the All India Radio in Cuttack to realise his “musical” dreams. He, however, had little idea that the flute would one day owe as much to him as he owes to it.

With his classic handling of the instrument, his constant experiments with the blowing techniques and his masterly positioning of fingers on the reed, Pt Chaurasia infused the flute with a new life. Small wonder then that he became the first ever flutist to be decorated with the Padma Bhushan in 1992.

But Pt Chaurasia consciously refrains from taking pride in the feat. He says: “Pride is a fine word as long as it is used to describe others. In my context, it holds no good. I would rather keep distance from it lest it interferes with my vocation.” This single- minded devotion feeds Pt Chaurasia’s genius, which helps him compose pieces that span all shades of human emotion.

As he sat in concert last night, his compositions ceased to be pieces for the instrument.


Chaos at World Punjabi Cultural Festival
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 19
The opening of the much publicized “World Punjabi Cultural Festival” turned out to be a chaotic affair. It was total mismanagement on the part of the organizers, the police and traffic officials deployed for management of the function.

Despite, having valid passes not only ordinary onlookers, but, even some VIPs found it difficult to enter the venue. Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, a local MLA was pushed by a rowdy crowd at the VIP gate, where, securitymen stood as mere spectators.

The problems for anxious onlookers started from the Milk Bar Chowk, the entry route to the Guru Gobind Singh stadium. Not only did valid pass-holders face problems, even the common residents faced inconvenience as the entire road leading to the stadium was sealed by the police.

Police personnel did not allow a number of people with valid passes to cross the road. Only VIP vehicles, or those flashing red lights were allowed on through this route.

Interestingly, though the stadium road was sealed, there was no security personnel in the backyard or on any of the entry points from the road leading from Bhagwan Mahavir Marg to the stadium.

Media persons also faced difficulty in the absence of any official of the Public Relations Department.

The pick pockets had a field day. This correspondent was also the victim of one of the pick-pockets. His walet containing Rs 2800 along with his identity card, driving licence and other valuable documents was taken away.


‘Suicides’ turn out to be murders
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 19
The deaths of two residents of Bhucho Mandi area under mysterious circumstances about one-and-half year ago which were taken to be cases of suicide by the police at that time, turned out to be murders as it was found that both were done to death after being administered poison.

Police sources said the fact that both Bhura Singh and Lachhman Singh, residents of Bhucho Mandi area, who were suspected to have died due to consumption of liquor, were actually murdered when the chemical examination report of their viscera established the fact that both had died due to consumption of poison.

Sources added that as the police had received the report of chemical examination and other relevant documents today, a case under Section 302 of the IPC was registered in Nathana police station against Darshan Singh, a resident of Lehra Bega village of this district. Earlier, the police registered a case under Section 174 of Cr PC when both Bhura Singh and Lachhman Singh died under mysterious circumstances.

After the report of chemical examination established the fact that both Bhura Singh and Lachhman Singh had died due to consumption of poison, Mr Surjeet Singh, brother of deceased Bhura Singh moved an application in the relevant court for the registration of a case of murder against the accused.

Sources added that Mr Surjeet Singh in his complaint had alleged that Bhura Singh and accused Sukhdev Singh were involved in a dispute over payment of money due to which the accused administered poison to Bhura Singh and Lachhman Singh.

No arrest has been made in this connection so far.

In another case, unidentified persons snatched money from a petrol station in Kal Jharani village late last night.


Armed forces must be alert, says GOC-in-C
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 19
Notwithstanding the thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations, the armed forces cannot afford to let their guard down. This was stated by the Army Commander, Lt-General J J Singh PVSM AVSM GOC-in-C Western Command during his visit to the forward areas of Vajra Corps in the western sector to review the operational preparedness, and interact with unit and formation commanders.

Addressing the formation commanders and troops in the field area, Lt-General Singh emphasized the need to remain operationally fit for which training and familiarisation with operational tasks was required. He added that it was also important to enhance the motivation level of all ranks. During review of operational plans, he stated that a realistic appraisal of capabilities of adversaries must be made while formulating operational plans.

The Army Commander interacted with troops and reminded them that in operations there was no prize for runners-up and that all troops of Western Command must live up to its motto of “ Fight to Win” 


Bid to burn ‘birs’ foiled
Tribune News Service

Himmatpura (Moga), November 19
An effort by "mischievous elements" to burn 'birs' at Gurdwara Guptsar Sahib of this village was foiled yesterday. The incident took place merely four days after someone stole cash from the gurdwara's 'golak'.

Talking to The Tribune here today, the granthi of the gurdwara, Bhai Nirmal Singh, said these days they were taking out 'parbhat pheris' and most of the villagers were participating in the same at the time of the incident. He said the incident took place between 5am and 6 am when there was no one at the gurdwara. A villager, Mr Darshan Singh, came to the gurdwara at about 6 am and saw some light in the room where four 'birs' were kept. Smoke was also billowing out of it. He got suspicious, as there was a power cut in the village since midnight. When he opened the door he saw 'rumalas' and 'chandni' engulfed in fire.

He called former sarpanch Pyara Singh and block committee member Chand Singh and extinguished the fire with their help, but till that time a number of 'rumalas' and the 'manji sahib' had been burnt. Luckily the fire could not damage the 'birs' kept in the room.

Mr Manpreet Singh, another villager, said Darshan had seen a person coming out of the gurdwara, but he had covered himself with a blanket.

Bhai Nirmal Singh said they used to keep this room closed in the daytime and only open it in the morning.

He said on November 13 someone broke open the 'golak' of the gurdwara and stole cash. However, they did not report the matter to the police. But this incident has angered the villagers and they are shocked as to how someone could dare indulge in a sacrilege like this.

A police team led by the Nihalsinghwala SHO, Mr Rachhpal Singh, reached the gurdwara and inspected the spot. A large number of villagers converged on the gurdwara and demanded immediate arrest of the accused and strict action against him.


International conference on human rights starts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
A three-day international conference on “human rights in the age of globalisation” was inaugurated by Justice Rajindra Nath Mittal, vice-president, DAV College Managing Committee, at the DAV College of Education for Women here today.

Dr J.S. Rajput, former director, NCERT, Dr A.K. Ambasht, Director (Technical), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mr S.K. Sharma, IG, Jalandhar Zone, were also present on the occasion.

The inaugural function was attended by dignitaries from different countries, including the USA, the UK, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, besides India.

Dr Rajput said that if people knew their rights and duties, there would be no violation of human rights. He said that teachers could play a vital role in promoting human rights education.

Justice Mittal said that the need of hour was that everyone should learn to live together as a family, irrespective of their differences.


Stranded bullock owners on verge of bankruptcy
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 19
The health of over 455 bullocks has deteriorated during the past two and a half months. And with that, the value of the animals has gone down, putting the transporters on the verge of bankruptcy.

Tethered by ropes amidst miserable conditions adjacent to Ghaggar Railway Station, in Mubarikpur village, the animals have become weak due to unending legal proceedings their wait has been prolonged.

The transporters are not only suffering from huge revenue losses but are also facing threats from rustlers. The rustlers had stolen five healthy bullocks from the site four days ago. Since September 5, four bullocks have died and five have been stolen by the rustlers. Their number has come down to 457 from 466.

More than 50 cattle-transporters, who have been camping at Ghaggar Railway Station, claim to be debt ridden due to huge expenditure on fodder for animals and their own meals.

According to the transporters, they have been bearing daily expenses amounting to Rs 40,000, on the fodder and the water for the cattle. To meet the daily requirement of the cattle, the transporters have been purchasing paddy-husk, green-fodder besides tankers of water from the local market.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Mastkeem, owner of 40 bullocks in the herd, lamented that they have been borrowing money at higher rates of interest from their acquaintances and relatives in Uttar Pradesh. “Some of the transporters have even mortgaged the jewellery of wives and daughters to procure fodder for the cattle and food for themselves,” claimed Mr Khan.

For over two months the animals have been tied with hooks continuously and hence have lost weight.

The owners complained that no veterinary staff had visited their camp so far.

The herd was seized by the police from Mr Sher Khan, a cattle transporter, while he was to export them to Howrah in a train on September 5. But the complaint of religious organisations who alleged that the animals were being sold for slaughter purposes, the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala, Mr Tejveer Singh withdraw the permission to take over 1,500 bulls from outside the state for agriculture purposes. Sher Khan, Haji Iqbad Ahmed, Haidev Ali and Allias were booked under Section 4 (A) of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955.


Plea to install Ambedkar’s statue
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 19
Members of the district unit of the Gazetted and Non-Gazetted SC/BC Employees Welfare Federation, Punjab, led by Mr Pargat Singh, district president of the federation, today staged a dharna in the district administrative complex here against the alleged “anti-Dalit” attitude of the Punjab Government. They also submitted a memorandum to Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, for forwarding the same to the Punjab Chief Minister.

In their memorandum, they demanded installation of a statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the district administrative complex here, besides implementation of 77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th amendments of the Constitution in letter and spirit and implementation of the Mandal Commission Report. They also demanded enactment of a reservation law.

They demanded an increase in the pension of Dalits and ‘Ashirwad scheme’ and release of scholarships of the past four years for the SC/BC students.


LIC staff hold protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
Under the banner of the National Federation of Insurance Field Workers of India, development officers of the LIC today held a protest on the court road here. The protest followed the arrival of Mr Ashok Shah, Zonal Manager, Mr V.K. Sinha, Regional Manager, and other officials of the LIC, who were here for a convention of agents belonging to different branches of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Shimla Division.

The development officers were protesting against the withdrawal of functional and marketing expenses and reduction in the incentive bonus scheme by 50 to 80 pere cent.

Mr Baldev Singh, president, district division, said these benefits were part of the development officers’ salary and were being paid by the corporation for the past three decades.

They have demanded the restoration of marketing/ functional expenses and the old incentive scheme, besides security of service.


1904 booths for pulse polio drive
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 19
As many as 1904 booths have been set up for the fifth round of the pulse polio immunisation campaign which is to start on November 21.

Out of 1904 booths, 1202 booths will be set up in villages while 702 booths would be set up in urban areas. The Health Department plans to immunise more than four lakh children below five years during this round.

All religious heads have been urged to appeal to the public to take their children below five years to pulse polio booths. The stress will be on migrants working at construction sites.

Mobile teams have been set up in this regard.

In view of the Amritsar Heritage Festival, medial teams have been deployed at the Wagah check post and Atari Railway station.


Striding for a cause
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 19
Blisters in his feet have failed to dampen the spirits of Balwant Singh Grewal, 68-year-old UK-based philanthropist, who is undertaking 4,000 km walk from Amritsar to Kanyakumari to raise money for cancer and AIDS research.

“Despite blisters, I will stick to my resolve”, he asserts. The UK-based NRI hails from Naranwal village of Ludhiana district.

He started his mission from Amritsar on November 6. He aims to raise around £ 1 million for research on cancer and AIDS. Today, he was accompanied by Mr Anurag Sood, secretary of the Hoshiarpur-based Sarb Dharam Sadbhawana Committee.

He covers around 35 km everyday. He said, “I don’t want to make my mission a big show. My effort is to work quietly and keep it a low-key affair.”

“I have been told by my colleagues that people have donated a lot of money for the cause, in Amritsar,” he added. “Money raised in India would be donated for cancer and AIDS research here,” he said.


Railways urged to reconsider catering policy
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 19
The Ambala Division Vending and Catering Contractors Association has condemned the new catering policy of the Railways implemented from November.

Mr Amolak Ram, general secretary of the association, in a press note issued here today, said that the new catering policy implemented by the Railways is to benefit capitalists and multinational companies. He alleged that the policy was against the existing contractors and vendors and would affect thousands of small and medium licence-holders, handicapped, SC/ST category contractors and vendors and would bring them on footpath.

He further said that it would affect lakhs of vendors, who would become idle. Under the new policy, passengers had to pay more money for less quantity and quality, he lamented.

The association urged the Railways Minister and higher authorities to reconsider the policy.


High Court
Liquor contractor’s petition allowed
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 19
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed a petition filed by liquor contractor R.S. Randhawa. Mr Randhawa had bid the highest Rs 5.5 crore for the Jalandhar-I (group I) liquor vends in the auctions held some months back.

In his petition, Mr Randhawa had prayed that since his bid was the highest but had been ignored in favour of a lower bid, the auction be quashed and the right to run vends in the areas be granted to him.

While Mr Randhawa had bid Rs 5.5 crore, the bidder who had offered Rs 5.41 crore was given the contract.

During hearing, Mr Randhawa’s counsel told the court that his client should have been declared the successful bidder, but the government did not do so and instead gave the contract to another bidder, thereby causing a loss of Rs 9 crore to the exchequer. He prayed that the contract should be cancelled and the same be granted to his client.

After hearing Mr Randhawa’s counsel, the Bench of Mr Justice N.K. Sud and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta allowed the petition.

Charge against SI

Dr G.B.S. Kang, brother of Youth Akali Dal leader Kiranbir Singh Kang, one of the main accused in the case of exchange of fire between two groups of Shiromani Akali Dal supporters that left two persons dead and many injured, today alleged that the police, particularly Sub-Inspector Ramandeep Singh, has falsely implicated many members of the family in the case. The incident took place on July 2.

In an affidavit filed in the High Court, Dr Kang has alleged that the family is being victimised by the police by subverting the process of law.

Saying that the call records of the mobile phone being used by the Sub-Inspector would show that he was nowhere near the place of the incident, the applicant has also said that his counsel has also talked to the police official on his mobile phone.

It may be recalled that Kiranbir is absconding after allegedly escaping from police custody some days after the incident.

The hearing will now resume on November 22.

Notice to Secretary D.S. Guru

Mr Justice Pritam Pal of the High Court on Friday issued notice for January 13 to Punjab Health Department Secretary D.S. Guru on a contempt petition filed by a female multi-purpose health worker (FMHW) and 49 other employees.

In their petition, Mrs Palwinderjit Kaur, who is posted in Primary Health Centre, Bhullar, in Gurdaspur, and others have prayed that contempt of court proceedings be initiated against Mr Guru for not having implemented court orders.

The petitioners have stated that despite court orders of April 2004, their claim for release of salaries has not been decided.

The High Court had directed the department to decide the demand justice notice served by the petitioners within one month. The hearing will now resume on January 13.


Punjab to have cold storage chain
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 19
The Punjab Government has conceived a plan to start a cold storage chain in the state at a cost of Rs 27 crore to facilitate export of vegetables and fruits from the state.

Disclosing this here today at the valedictory function of the 51st All-India Cooperative Week, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Bharti Airtel group was initiating this project in collaboration with a United Nations bank so that vegetables and fruits could be exported to West Asia and Europe.

The Chief Minister said his government had taken an initiative to adopt diversification of agriculture and contract farming in the state in a phased manner and that he was confident that Punjab would herald another green revolution by way of diversification.

The Chief Minister announced that the government would soon look into the matter for further slashing the interest rates on cooperative loans advanced to farmers by Punjab State Cooperative Bank.


HP employee held for posting obscene photos
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 19
Just a few days after three politically influential persons were arrested for disseminating obscene photographs of a local girl on mobile phones, the Gurdaspur police has managed to crack another such case.

In a press release issued here today, the SSP, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said that the police had arrested Balram Kumar Pathak, a resident of Berian in Batala, employed as Section Officer in the Himachal Pradesh Education Board. He has been accused of posting obscene photographs of girls to the wife and daughter of Mr Kedar Nath Rikhi, a resident of Dhaki Road, Pathankot.

The investigation in the case revealed that Mr Kedar Nath had strained relations with his neighbour, Chaman Lal. Balram Kumar Pathak is a brother-in-law of Chaman Lal.

The complainant reported the matter to the police which, after investigation, arrested the accused.


3 hurt seriously as CTU bus hits car
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 19
Atinder Singh, a resident of Sector 22, Chandigarh, and two girls were seriously injured today when a CTU bus collided with a car on the Ropar-Chandigarh National Highway-21 near Behrampur, about 8 km from the town. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Ruchi, whose condition deteriorated later, was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, for treatment.

The mishap took place this morning when the CTU bus in which the girls were travelling hit the car driven by Atinder Singh. The bus was on its way from Mattewal to Chandigarh.

Police sources said the accident took place when Atinder Singh, who was coming from Chandigarh, was hit by the CTU bus. Another private bus was also damaged in the accident.


2 killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 19
Two persons were killed and two others injured today at Mukerian, 44 km from here when a truck collided with a Tata Safari going from Pathankot side.

According to informed sources, the deceased have been identified as Surbhi Kohli and Arun Kumar, driver of Tata Safari.

The injured have been identified as Ritoo Kohli and his son, Raghu (6). The injured have been shifted to the DMC, Ludhiana, where the condition of Ritoo was reported to be out of danger. The bodies of the deceased were handed over to the family members of the deceased.


Proclaimed offender held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 19
The district police has managed to arrest Pralhad Kumar, an inter-state narcotics smuggler and proclaimed offender.

In a press release issued here today, the SSP, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said that Pralhad Kumar, a resident of Dharbol village in Nurpur subdivision of Himachal, was arrested in 2000 while trying to smuggle 1.8 kg of charas.

He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and fined Rs 1 lakh by the court in 2003. In jail the accused applied for four-week parole that was granted to him. 


MBBS exam papers arrive late
Rashmi Talwar

Vallah (Amritsar), November 19
The examination paper of medicine, MBBS, final year, held at SGPC-run Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences, was delayed by nearly 45 minutes as the question papers could not arrive on time.

The carrier deputed by Baba Farid university for delivering the papers reportedly lost his way and instead reached Guru Ram Dass Hospital near Gurdwara Shaheedaan that is nearly 11 km away from institute.

Following the non-arrival of examination papers at 8.30 for the 9,O'clock schedule, the controller of examination Dr R.S. Sidhu made frantic calls to Registrar and Deputy Registrar of university.

Meantime, students were asked to stay in the Dr Santokh Singh Anand examination hall till the paper started at 9.45 am. According to controller there was no other way to tackle the peculiar condition, as that would have led to the cancellation of examination. The signed faxed paper arrived at 9.30 am. The faxed copy was almost ready to be dictated to students when the examination papers arrived. The examination started at 9.45 am.

However speculation was rife about the "foul play" in the matter as a deliberate delay was being apprehended by section of students.

Some students also connected the 'unusual incident' to the fact that Principal's daughter was also appearing in one of examinations. However, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal scatched all such rumors. He, however, said he could not even confirm whether delay in examination had taken place or not.

Incidentally, the fax arrived in adjoining room of principal 's office and reportedly copies of examination paper could not be made, as photocopier was out of order.


Varsity given free hand to deal with student unrest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 19
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced that his government would give a free hand to the Punjabi University in dealing with student unrest on the campus, even as he entertained a delegation of students at his residence this morning. He is claimed to have assured a speedy solution to the student agitation by talking to Vice- Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai on the issue.

The Chief Minister, who presided over a function in the Senate Hall to release the logo of the World Punjabi Conference being held from December 1, when questioned by newsmen, said the university was an autonomous body and the government would not interfere in its functioning.

He also said that a delegation of students which met him today promised not to disrupt the conference being hosted in the university.

The Punjabi University Students Confederation, which is spearheading the agitation in the university, claimed that the Chief Minister had assured them that he would speak to the Vice-Chancellor to bring a compromise between both parties. Confederation Convener Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal said 19 students who had been arrested day after yesterday for raising slogans in the university despite prohibitory orders would also be released today.

The Vice-Chancellor, however, on his part made it clear in front of the Chief Minister, that the university was in no mood to buckle under pressure of the students and that it would not take back the disciplinary proceedings under which four student leaders had been suspended from the institution.

He said students were indulging in blackmail which would not be tolerated. He also maintained that the students had been raising demands which were against the interest of student community. These included the demand for abolishing internal assessment.

Students have been at loggerheads with the university administration for more than one year.


Children’s Science Congress on Nov 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology will organise the 12th state level Children’s Science Congress-2004 on November 30 at Indira Holiday Home, Chandigarh.

Nearly 350 students and 100 teachers from all over Punjab would present their projects in the congress.

Sixteen best projects would be selected for participation at the national-level Children’s Science Congress.

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