P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD for alliance between BJP, INLD
Tribune News Service

Mastuana Sahib (Sangrur) , November 29
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) wants that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) should forge an alliance during the ensuing elections to the Haryana Assembly to defeat the Congress. In view of this, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, is making efforts for the forging of the alliance.

This was disclosed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD and MP from Sangrur. He was here in connection with a volleyball match, played between the teams of the two Punjabs of India and Pakistan on the grounds of Gursagar Mastuana Sahib.

Mr Dhindsa said in case the BJP and the INLD failed to form an alliance for the elections to the Haryana Assembly, then the SAD would decide which party it should support. But if both parties entered into an alliance, then the SAD would seek seats from them in lieu of extending its support to their candidates in the Haryana Assembly elections, he added.

Mr Dhindsa stated that there had been a consensus at a recently held meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that the agenda of the NDA would prevail in Parliament. But in the case of states, the alliance partners of the NDA were free to enter into an alliance with an alliance partner of the NDA or any other party in elections, he added.

He said the SAD had always remained a staunch supporter of the view that the relations with Pakistan should remain cordial because during war people of both Punjabs (India and Pakistan) suffered losses. He said with the visit of groups of lawyers, industrialists and sports teams from both countries to India and Pakistan a pressure would certainly build on the governments of both countries to improve their relations.

Mr Dhindsa said the people of India and Pakistan had love for each other but enmity prevailed only at the government-level on both sides. He said a few days ago when Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, hosted a lunch for his Pakistani counterpart, then MPs from Pakistan had invited the Indian MPs, especially of the SAD, to visit Pakistan. He said the party MPs were now planning to visit Pakistan in February as part of a goodwill visit.

Mr Dhindsa said the SAD and SGPC would request the Pakistani teams to take part in the games to be held on December 19 at Chamkaur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib to mark the tercentary of martyrdom of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.


SAD (A) to release list of ‘traitors’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will release a list of ‘traitors’ who sides with the then government resulting in Operation Bluestar, besides demanding a policy on influx of migrants on the occasion of the tercentenary of the martyrdom of Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, Sahibazadas of Guru Gobind Singh, to be organised at Fatehgarh Sahib on December 26.

This was stated by former MP and SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann while interacting with mediapersons here today. He said the party would hold a parallel programme since they did not want to ‘share space with those who had played and were playing in the hands of anti-Sikh forces’.

Coming down heavily on SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal for appointing Bibi Jagir Kaur as the SGPC chief, he said a dera head had been appointed to the highest elected body of the community in gross violation of Sikh tenets. The boycott programme of the party in this context would continue. The youth wing of the party had been asked to take active part and create awareness among the people on the issue, he added.

Commenting on the agitation by cotton farmers in the Malwa belt, he said they were feeling cheated as price of their produce that they were getting was considerably lower than that being paid in other states.

He said the influx of migrants was posting a danger to the demography of the state. The need of the hour was to ensure that a major chunk of the jobs went to Punjabis. The crime rate in the state had spiralled on account of migrants, he alleged.

Meanwhile, Mr Balbir Singh Mander has been named Mansa district chief of the party. SGPC members Mr Ravinder Singh Mansa, Mr Harcharan Singh, Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Kapurthala and Bibi Surinder Kaur have been nominated members of the party’s working committee.


Delhi CM goes down memory lane
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, November 29
The Delhi Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, today went down memory lane as she visited Hindi Putri Pathshala, where she studied in 1952-53.

Recalling her school days, she said, “I was weak in mathematics and Hindi. My maternal grandmother was Principal of the school and she was worried about my performance in Class X examination. She brought me to this school and I studied here for six months.”

Ms Dikshit seemed to have turned a bit nostalgic as she laughed, “You know I did not even pay the fee. I used to go to the school in a tonga with my maternal grandmother. I had nice time as nobody dared to talk loud against me as all teachers and students knew whose granddaughter I was.”

The Delhi CM said she spent around 10 months in the city. “My maternal grandfather was the first Civil Surgeon of the city and our house was in a narrow lane at the back of the Civil Hospital,” she said as she recollected faint memories of the city.

She said she was amazed at the changes that there had been in the city in the past three decades. “The old city has changed a lot. The school in which I had studied was housed in a small, simple building, but now it has transformed into a huge complex,” she said.

As the entered the school, she was welcomed by students holding placards with message, “Welcome Ms Sheila Dikshit.”

A handicraft exhibition was also put up by students. She was served “makki ki roti” and “sarson ka saag” with ‘lassi’ for the lunch.

Ms Dikshit was accompanied by her maternal uncle, Mr Vishwanath Puri, and cousins.

Others present on the occasion were Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister of State for SCs and BCs, Development of Women and Children, Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, and Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner.


Grievances panel meeting lasts 20 minutes only
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, November 29
Held after a span of nearly four months, the District Grievances Committee meeting held at Yojna Bhavan was wrapped up in just 20 minutes owing to the Delhi Chief Minister’s visit to the town today.

This left most of the complainants high and dry as they said that the meeting seemed to be a mere formality and it hardly served any purpose. The residents said that their grievances were not properly redressed and the officers seemed to be in a hurry to see Ms Sheila Dikshit, who was here as chief guest at two school functions.

The meeting was last held in the first week of August and was chaired by Chaudhary Santokh Singh. This was the first meeting presided over by Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister for SCs, BCs, Women and Children Development.

The major complaint that turned up for the day was the rising cases of smack supply. The complainants said that the problem must be curbed as the youngsters were fast getting addicted to various forms of drugs. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, said that he would direct the police officials to check the menace.

The second major issue was of pollution in water due to discharge of effluents from the leather complex on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar road, resulting in skin ailments. The DC directed the ADC (Development) to take the necessary steps to curb the problem.

The third issue was that of “hadda rori” area. The complainants said that the foul stench emanating from the place could be felt kilometres away from the place, making life miserable for the residents and passers-by.

There were numerous complaints against the working of the Civil Hospital and the aggrieved parties were told to come up with specific complaints. Half a dozen complaints were also made against the Punjab State Electricity Board. The DC asked the SE to rectify the problems. Besides, there were brick-kiln owners, pensioners and exservicemen also coming up with specific problems.

Earlier, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur also chaired a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board in which she said that Rs 42 crore had been released by the state government for the welfare of pensioners, senior citizens, widows and physically challenged persons of 11 districts. She said that a grant of Rs 300 crore would also be released soon. She said that Rs 17.5 crore was being disbursed by the Punjab Government for the welfare of expecting and lactating mothers and their babies through the District Planning and Development Board.


SGPC to take up PSGPC issue with Elahi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Mr Parvez Elahi would be the first Chief Minister of West Punjab to receive a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee during his proposed visit to the Golden Temple on December 2.

Talking to The Tribune, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, said that Mr Elahi would be honoured at information office of the SGPC. However, answering a question, she said there was no need to honour Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, again as he would be here in his capacity as a host.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that the SGPC would take up Panthic issues with the visiting Mr Elahi. She said the SGPC would ask Mr Elahi to give more powers to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) so that formal recognition could be given to it. Earlier, the SGPC had been demanding disbanding of the PSGPC.

The SGPC would also demand construction of a corridor between Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) and Dera Baba Nanak (India). She said the SGPC would urge Mr Elahi to allow Sikh babas to visit Pakistan so that kar sewa at gurdwaras there could be completed as per Sikh maryada. It would also ask Mr Elahi to be instrumental in permitting raagis and paathis to visit Pakistan frequently. She said the SGPC would urge Mr Elahi to appoint Sikhs as caretakers of the gurdwaras by replacing Muslims.

Sources said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and senior functionaries of his party would also receive Mr Elahi during his proposed visit.

Meanwhile, the visit of Mr Elahi has been slightly rescheduled due to dense fog prevailing in the region.

Instead of going directly to the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh after landing at Raja Sansi airport at around 10.30 a.m., he would be taken to the university for receiving a D.Litt Degree. Thereafter, he would visit the Golden Temple at around 2 p.m. Earlier, Mr Elahi was scheduled to visit the Golden Temple immediately after landing.

In case there was a dense fog, Mr Elahi may adopt the land route through Wagah.

An advance protocol team of Mr Elahi visited the Golden Temple today to oversee security arrangements.


Elahi to be presented with tractor
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 29
A 70 hp tractor will be presented to the Chief Minister of Pakistan, Punjab, during his visit here as a gesture of goodwill from the Punjabis.

Mr Parvez Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab Pakistan, will visit Patiala and Chandigarh. The Sonalika tractor has been gifted by manufacturers free of cost on the request of the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh.

According to Dr Aulakh, Punjab has more than 4.5 lakh tractors which causes to 26 per cent of the total number of tractors in the country.

Mr Parvez Elahi was earlier scheduled to visit Punjab Agricultural University.

The presentation ceremony of the tractor will be held either at Chandigarh on December 3 or at Patiala on December 5.


Pak PM agrees to relax visa conditions: SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Since the inception of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) , the jatha leaders of the SGPC today held a meeting with Pakistans’ Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad for the first time.

During the half an hour meeting Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and Mr Kabul Singh , leader and deputy leader of the SGPC jatha, respectively, lodged mild protest for denying visas to about 1,000 Sikh pilgrims. The meeting lasted for half an hour at the residence of Mr Aziz, who agreed in principle to accept most of the demands.

The delegation comprised Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Pritpal Singh, president, American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Manmohan Singh Khalsa and Mr Joga Singh, both UK-based Dal Khalsa leaders, Mr Avtar Singh Sanghera, a leader of Babbar Khalsa International, UK, Mr Jagjit Singh Kochhar from Dubai and Giani Charn Singh from France.

The delegation urged Mr Aziz to get the PSGPC Act passed in the parliament of Pakistan.

The delegation also sought direct intervention of Mr Aziz to get the Delhi-Lahore airfare decreased. However, Mr Aziz showed his inability to accept the demand of reduced hotel tariffs for Sikh pilgrims.


Pak boys leave for Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, November 29
Two Pakistani boys, Altaf and Asif, who were lodged at the local Juvenile Jail, have been sent to Amritsar for identification and counsellor access by the Pakistani authorities.

The Deputy Commis-sioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, yesterday said that in the earlier exercise these boys could not be identified, which delayed their repatriation. Now, the two countries have decided to conduct this exercise again in Amritsar on Monday when the Pakistani authorities are expected to take the details of these boys.

Earlier, six Pakistani boys had been released from the Juvenile Jail here. All eyes would be on Asif during the identification process as the 13-year-old had failed to recall his address.


Bodies of two Sikh pilgrims arrive from Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Surinder Singh Chawla (53), former Director, PUNSUP, and district general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Urban), Amritsar, and Bara Singh (60), resident of Rajpura, died in Lahore due to heart failure.

They had gone to Pakistan alongwith the SGPC jatha to pay obeisance in Gurdwaras there.

SGPC member Onkar Singh Sharifpura, who lauded the role of Chawla towards spreading the message of Sikhism, said he belonged to a panthic family. Chawla’s father late Mangal Singh was the Circle President of the SAD.

The bodies were brought to India through Samjhauta Express.


5-year-old killed for Rs 15 by friends
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 29
A five-year-old child yesterday paid with his life after he refused to give Rs 15 to his friends.

The friends, who have been arrested, are believed to have first jested with Karamjit Singh, alias Ricky, to part with Rs 15 before killing him. They took him to a ground of Hindu Public School and coaxed him to give them the money which he had collected at a marriage celebration earlier in the day.

When Karamjit refused to part with the money they planned to eliminate him. They made a rope of shreds of clothes lying in a garbage dump nearby. One of them put the rope around Karamjit’s neck while the two others grabbed his legs. Karamjit died after a number of violent tugs to his neck.

Then they took money and fled from the spot after throwing the body in nearby shrubs. The accused, two brothers of eight and 10 years of age and another an eight-year-old boy, lived in the same neighbourhood in Guru Nanak Nagar.

Karamjit’s family came to know about the murder this morning when the body was found. The boy’s mother is a dumb. They live in a rented accommodation. Karamjit’s father Jaswant Singh had sold off his house to clear his debts.

Jaswant said he had been looking for his son since last evening. “The fact that he would be killed by his own friends never occurred to me”, he added.

According to sources, the three boys were arrested this evening following a massive manhunt in the city. They had been missing from their homes since last night. The sources said one of the boys had claimed that he had witnessed the murder but did not have any hand in it.

The boys have been arrested for minor offences also. They are likely to be presented before a Juveline Court in Ludhiana soon.


Baba, doctor booked for selling eyes
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 29
The local police today registered a case against Baba Balbir Singh, who runs a Pingal Ashram on the outskirts of the city, on the charges of selling eyes of persons who died in his “ashram” in connivance with a doctor, who runs a private eye hospital in the city.

The local police claims that the Baba and the private eye hospital owner, Dr Rajinder Sharma, have been running a racket of selling eyes of persons who died at the Baba’s ashram to needy persons at a price. Besides booking the Baba, the police has also booked Dr Rajinder Sharma who runs Sharma Eye Hospital behind the Government Rajindra Hospital, and one of his employees Mann Singh.

Sources said while Mann Singh has been arrested, Dr Rajinder Sharma is absconding. The Baba is out of the city presently. The local police has raided the Pingal Ashram situated on the outskirts of the city near Sanaur.

Baba Balbir Singh had tried to hog the limelight for the past four to five years by offering to take care of neglected mentally challenged persons. And for this he was recently listed among the top 20 citizens of Patiala along with the likes of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in a directory taken out by the Dedicated Brothers Group, a prominent NGO of the city.

The Baba has taken up the custody of mentally challenged persons, who do not have home as well as those who are put under his care because their parents or relatives are unable to take care of them. He usually has around 300 such persons under his care at the ashram which has taken shape over the years under a system where more than 50 vehicles collected money for the cause in villages in this district as well as elsewhere.

The ashram was in the news in July this year when three inmates of the ashram died due to diarrhoea. During this period 20 other inmates had to be hospitalised and the District Health Department had intervened to provide medicines to the ashram, besides checking the condition of the inmates. It was then highlighted by The Tribune that the ashram did not have doctor or a nurse or even a dispensary on its premises despite the fact that it was dealing with the mentally challenged.

The Baba had during an interview then claimed that he had kept 100 persons to collect donations from nearby villages and cities.

Two years back, the ashram was in the news when it was reported that mentally challenged persons were being kept in iron chains there. The inmates were photogrpahed in a pitiable condition chained to trees and even grills of their rooms.


Illegal felling of trees in Ropar district
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 29
Hundreds of trees have been axed illegally from forest areas at several places in the district by villagers and timber smugglers while Forest Department officials are sleeping. The cutting of the trees continues in a reckless manner in the forest area on both sides of the SYL canal passing through the district.The most visible places where the trees are being axed include Malikpur, Ahmadpur, Behrampur, Nurpurbedi and along the Ropar-Morinda link road.

Ropar, which has been known for its green forest area in the state, is heading for an ecological imbalance following uncontrolled felling of trees. The visible effect of the forest depletion has become evident as soil erosion has become a major problem in the area and the birds' population,including migratory birds, has been declining regularly.

Interestingly, several projects worth crores of rupees initiated by the Forest Department to seek active cooperation from villagers for the protection of forest wealth also shows a negligible impact. Recently, the Forest Ministry had claimed that the Forest Department was working on various projects of forest management to involve local persons in forest protection measures. But those projects appear to be on paper only.

When The Tribune team visited the forest belt along the SYL, it was found that the villagers cut not only fully-grown trees but also half- grown trees. In addition to it, they also chopped off branches of several trees to fulfill their domestic needs.

Investigations revealed the people were cutting the trees during the night. After cutting the trees, the people covered the spot with wild grass and soil so that no one could trace the ''crime''. Besides it, the role of timber smugglers become evident with large-scale cutting of trees, informed the sources.

The problem has assumed serious proportions as hundreds of trees have already been axed by the department for the widening of roads in the district. The fully grown trees have been cut down for widening the Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road along the Sirhind canal forest division with due permission. Besides, a large number of trees have been marked to be cut down on the Ropar-Morinda link road.

Environment protection appears to be of no concern in the district. The officials seem to have forgotten that in order to maintain the ecological imbalance forests are important for the survival of birds.

When contacted, District Forest Officer (DFO) S.S Bhatti said: “ I have not received any information about felling of trees. I will direct my officials to check such activities in the area and will take action against the offenders.''


Power crisis deepens in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 29
The power crisis in Punjab further deepened due to the shortage triggered by the non-functioning of the some of the power units in thermal stations at Ropar and Bathinda .The water level at Bhakra Dam in Nangal went down by 100 feet,officials said today.

At present one of the unit of 210 mw capacity at the thermal station, Ropar, has been closed for 45 days for annual repairing. It has created shortage of about 50 lakh units of power supply. Similarly, the two units of 110 mw each at thermal plant in Bathinda also been closed for repairing.

Besides it, the water level at the Bhakhra Dam at Nangal has gone down by about 100 feet. The water level of dam is 1581.72 feet while its storing capacity is 1680 feet.

Many districts in the state has been facing power cuts for several hours for the past two week. The power shortage is not only causing harassment for the students preparing for examination but is also affecting the sowing of wheat. It was peak time for wheat sowing and due to power cuts the farmers would not be able to irrigate their fields properly.

"This is depletion period of water level in the dam. The water level is low than last year. This year due to shortfall in rain in the parts of Himachal the water stored in the dam during the filling period had been down by 100 feet. Now the power supply to Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh is likely to remain affected till May next year " said a senior official of the Bhakra Dam.

When contacted, the General Manager of the plant here, Mr R.S Sohal, said the second unit of 210 mw was closed for repairing purpose and five others units of 210 mw each had been functioning regularly. He said every year, one of the unit was closed for repairing purpose.

The Chief Engineer, thermal plant, Bathinda, Mr Baldev Singh, said the two units of 110mw capacity has been closed for annual maintenance. It was routine thing and two Units of 110mw have been functioning properly.


Partap Bajwa denies meeting Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The Punjab PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, today denied that he had any secret meeting with the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

“I am a disciplined worker and soldier of the party. Certain vested interests have tried to malign me, “ said Mr Bajwa.

He held that there was “neither any occasion nor any reason for me to meet Mr Badal. I am a born Congressman and would be the last person to even think about meeting the leader of our main opposition party,”


Information on delayed flights not provided
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 29
Passengers of Singapore flights here felt harassed as they failed to get proper information about the timing of the flights which were delayed due to bad weather. They had to wait for a long time for getting information about the timings of flights to Singapore.

Even phone numbers of enquiry officer available on websites were not upgraded and several of them had changed, alleged Mr Mandeep Singh, a resident of Moga who was to catch a Singapore flight.

He said the flights for Singapore got delayed due to bad weather, but there was not a single person present at the airport to give information about the next flight or what would be the check-in time for the next flight.

Mr Gurdeepak Singh of Amritsar who was to board a flight for Australia, said there was no enquiry office where they could get any information about the timing of the next flight.

Mr Ramesh, who claimed to be associated with Turkministan flight, said they had asked about setting up of an enquiry office a number of times to the airport authority but to no avail.

Mr Jasmohan, another passenger for Singapore, said there was only one manual board where the information regarding the flight timings was given and that too had not been upgraded. He urged the airport authorities to put up an electronic board.

Mr Y.K. Sharma, OSD to Mr V.S. Mulekar, Director, Amritsar International Airport, said if the passengers had any problems they should contact the Public Grievance officer deputed at the airport.

He said the airlines authorities were responsible for giving timings of delayed and other flights. He said it would take time to streamline the things.


Door-to-door survey to check jaundice cases
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 29
Following the detection of about 12 cases of jaundice in Chanawal village, about 10 km from here, the Primary Health Centre Mehal Kalan team under the supervision of Medical Officer, Chananwal, began a door-to- door survey to find out the reasons for spreading of the disease.

Disclosing this to The Tribune here today, Dr Narinder Kumar Kansil, acting

Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Primary Health Centre Mehal Kalan, informed that earlier a similar survey was conducted for 350 houses. The proposed door survey would be conducted in the remaining 300 houses, following the new guidelines.

Dr Kansil said a report of the jaundice cases had already been sent to Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, and also to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Barnala.

Dr Kansil informed that 15 water samples from different parts of the village were sent to Chandigarh for tests.

He made it clear that five cases of hepatitis C had also been detected in the village. Dr Kansil further informed that in the light of fresh guidelines from the District Health Officer, Sangrur, the team was going in for door to door survey afresh would determine the distance of hand pumps from the latrines or dug-well latrines.

He added that health education as well as preventive measures were being provided to the residents of Chananwal village to prevent further spreading of this disease in the area.

He said the villagers were asked to take safe water either drawn from deep tube wells or boiled water or chlorinated water.


Derewals to set up charity hospital
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 29
The princely city of Patiala will soon have a charity hospital complex under the banner of the Five Rivers Health Foundation promoted by Derewals group of companies based in the United Kingdom.

Mr Jasbir Singh, secretary of Derewals trust, said here today that the Multi-crore hospital and medical education project would be situated in Reet Kheri Village on the Patiala-Sirhind Road, where a chunk of 13 acres of land had been acquired for this purpose. He said the charitable hospital would provide free treatment to the needy people living in the region.

He disclosed that the hospital complex would have 100 beds. The complex would also house a nursing school and hostel for 50 nurses, a medical college and hostel for 50 students. The medical college would be affiliated with the Punjabi University and Medical Council of India. Provisions for health information and education centre have also been made, he added.

Mr Derewal said hospital would comprise units of diagnostics, out patients, emergency treatment, infectious diseases especially HIV/AIDS and malaria, ophthalmology, gynaecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, orthopaedics, general surgery and medicine. He added that similar projects would be set up in other parts of India and other countries as well.

Mr Prem Mahindru, director finance of the trust, said Patiala was the home district of the Derewal family. He said Derewal trust was sending ration worth Rs 50,000 every month to Patiala and Jaipur and Ambala Cantonment under the banner, Derewal free food Sewa.

The trust has been holding free-eye operations camps in Rajindra Hospital here.

He said that B.B. Derewal trust was founded by late Mr Bhawan Singh Digpal and Mata Bhagwanti. Mr Bhagwan Singh had migrated to England in 1936. Now their son Mr Ranjit Singh Derewal is the president of the trust Mr Mahindru said trust would expand its charity activities in India.


Virasat Mela concludes on a happy note
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 29
Barring a few unpleasant incidents, the first ever two days Malwa heritage festival (Virasat Mela), held by the newly formed Bathinda Region Heritage Foundation (BRHF) concluded in the wee hours today on a happy note and a fireworks show was organised to mark its formal ending.

Noted Punjabi singers Manpreet Akhtar, Gursewak Mann, Balkar Sidhu and Harbhajan Mann perform on the concluding day of the two-day Malwa Heritage Festival
Noted Punjabi singers Manpreet Akhtar, Gursewak Mann, Balkar Sidhu and Harbhajan Mann perform on the concluding day of the two-day Malwa Heritage Festival on Sunday. — Photo by Sonu

After witnessing an encouraging response from the huge gathering during the mela days, held in local sports stadium, a galaxy of Punjabi folk and pop singers, academicians, district civil and police authorities declared that Virasat mela would be an annual feature henceforth.

Noted Punjabi singers Harbhajan Mann, Gursewak Mann, Balkar Sidhu and Manpreet Akhtar enthralled the audience. Not only this, the Punjabi songs with drum beat made the district officials, including the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. A. P. Sinha and the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, who were dressed in traditional attire, to dance in front of the specially erected and illuminated stage.

Though spectators faced a number of problems due to heavy security arrangements in and around the stadium, their response was so huge that all singers performed on the stage for a significant time and the function, which formally started at 7 pm, went on till 3 am.

The Punjab Finance Minister and MLA, Bathinda, Mr Surinder Singla, who could not attend the mela, made an announcement through Mr Sinha that the BRHF would be given Rs 2 lakhs as donation by the government.

The two-day festival, which turned out to be a grand success, also showcased the items of traditional arts and sports, including tug-of-war, wrestling, kabaddi, Malwai gidha, bhand, dhad sarangi, nakliye and bazzi.

Though the much-hyped Pakistani sufiana singers Ustad Hussain Baksh and his two sons, who performed on the first day of the festival could not attract much gathering, the Punjabi folk singers drew huge crowd.

Manpreet Akhtar, who has rendered her voice for Bollywood movies, began the show with her melodious voice.

Balkar Sidhu, who was born in Poohla village of the district and earned a name in the world of Punjabi singing, made the gathering dance to his tunes when he sang his famous songs ‘aina tainu payar kara’ and ‘Charkhe’.

Gursewak Mann made a graceful start with ‘Sahiba’ followed by some of his hits. Singer turned actor Harbhajan Mann was the main attration of the show Both Mann brothers made the audiences tap their feet to the rhythm of their famous songs, including the title song of the album, ‘Satrangi peeng’.

Famous Punjabi comedian Sarup Prinda, known as Chachi Aatro, added to the show.

The show featured eminent painters H.S. Sohal and Gurpreet, who made a huge painting, depicting the monuments and other places dotting this region.

The eminent personalities of Malwa region, including Mr Vijay Goyal, state award winner and social worker, Mr Jaswant Singh Kanwal, noted Punjabi novelist, Babu Singh Mann, Punjabi lyricist were honoured with citation and shawl.


9 summoned to Takht for holding path at ‘samadh’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 29
Mr Chatter Singh has been summoned to Takht Damdama Sahib by its Jathedar Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh to explain his position for holding bhog of Akhand Path at a 'samadh' in a house located in Ramgarh Bhunder village of the district yesterday.

In a press note issued here today, Jathedar Nandgarh said a team of religious persons visited the house where the Akhand Path was going on over the "samadh" and the owner of the house was explained that he was doing what was against the tenets of Sikhism.

He said Mr Malkit Singh, owner of the house, after admitting his mistake, promised that he would follow the tenets of Sikhism and edicts issued from Akal Takht. He added that Mr Chatter Singh instigated Mr Malkit Singh and his family members to continue the Akhand Path and even he went to an extent to make derogatory remarks about various things contained in the Sikh religious literature.

Jathedar Nandgarh said when he along with other people reached the village in the evening, he found that religious function was going on against the tenets of Sikhism and in violation of the edicts of Sikhism.

He added that it was also found that Mahant Satinam Singh, who had given a copy of Guru Granth Sahib to Chatter Singh, was also guilty of committing religious misconduct. Those people who recited couplets from Guru Granth Sahib at the house of Mr Malkit Singh were also found to be guilty of religious misconduct.


AITUC plans protest week against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
While condemning the move of the state government to privatise all boards and corporations in the state, the Punjab state committee, AITUC, has called upon workers and employees to observe a protest week from December 10 to 16 to raise their voice against these policies.

AITUC has also extended support to the call given by the joint committee of electricity employees to observe November 30 as a protest day all over the state.

In a release issued here today, Mr Bant Singh Brar, general secretary of Punjab AITUC, has stated that 10 states where the state electricity boards had been privatised, the results had been a complete failure, and the state government following suit would only deepen the crisis of the already deteriorated economy of the state. The PSEB was still in a better position and need not be privatised as per the common minimum programme of the NDA government and its allies, he added.

He has also blamed the Chief Minister from backing out of the promises made out to concede the genuine demands of workers of Bhasaur (Sangrur) Mill, Punwire and Nishi Kawa (Lalru), thereby forcing them to intensify the struggle by resorting to a general strike and picketing government offices and rasta roko.


Miss Punjaban honoured
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 29
Ms Kirandeep Kaur Jakhar, a resident of Killianwali village, near here, who had been crowned Miss Punjaban at a contest held at Ludhiana recently, was honoured at the annual function of the Lok Kala Manch here. The memento was presented by Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, chairman of Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) to the “Daughter of Abohar”.

Mr Jakhar said Abohar was proud of her because she topped in the Ludhiana contest due to perfection in maintaining the rich cultural traditions and folk of the state. He complimented the Lok Kala Manch for promoting folk culture among the youth.

Students of local colleges and guest artistes from other towns presented a variety of songs, mimicry, dances and skits to entertain the gathering.


PSEB employees hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 29
Members of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Forum along with state government employees and farmers staged a dharna in front of the Mini-Secretariat here today in protest against the Electricity Act, 2003, proposed conversion of the PSEB into a corporation or its privatisation.

A rally was organised on this occasion. Mr Lakhwinder Singh Malhi, Mr Jagir Singh Wahi, Mr Om Parkash, Mr Jagjit Singh and other state leaders of the PSEB employees, demanded immediate cancellation of the Electricity Act, as with its implementation, generation, supply and distribution system would be separated. Its implementation would also ruin the agriculture and industrial sectors.

They alleged that on account of the wrong policies of the state government, the PSEB had been facing an annual loss of Rs 1,800 crore. But with the hard and dedicated working of employees, the loss had been converted into profit of Rs 180 crore.


AIG’s family refutes charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The family of AIG HS Grewal has refuted the allegations that were reportedly made against it by the widow of the AIG accusing of throwing her out of the house. The two sisters of Grewal have said that Mrs Malwinder Kaur had left the house on her own and is currently living with her parents as she needs constant looking after due to her “major mental illness, which is chronic in nature and is affecting her judgement”.

“It is unfortunate that some relatives are forcing her to sign papers and make allegations that she does not even understand”, the sisters said. They said the matter was already subjudice, as Mrs Malwinder Kaur had gone to the local court challenging the will of her mother-in-law in a Probate filed by them. Due to her mental condition, Mrs Malwinder Kaur’s husband too excluded her from the beneficiaries of his will.

The sisters of Grewal further admitted that they had been summoned by the police following a complaint by their sister-in-law, but the police did not find anything substantial in the complaint and further since the matter was already before the local court, the police advised both parties to seek their recourse in the court judgements.

They denied that Mrs Malwinder Kaur was living in any gurdwara or at any other place. They also claimed that the two children of Grewal were being well looked after by them and were currently in boarding schools for which the expenses were being borne by the family.


Mann leads youths in desilting drive
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 29
Local Congress MLA Joginder Singh Mann yesterday led a group of rural youths and students in desilting the Khalwara village drain.

This was to teach them dignity of work as taught by Guru Granth Sahib.

The desilting had not been done for the past several years.

Mr Mann had earlier led the cleanliness drive of the 2.5-km stretch of Guru Hargobindgarh (Bhogpur) road to Hoshiarpur, weeding out shrubs and grass.

Mr Harnek Singh, ADC, Kapurthala, and Mr Pritam Singh, SDM, Phagwara, were also present at today’s function.


Farm loan targets revised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 29
The targets for agriculture loans in the district have been revised by 30 per cent as per the directions of the Reserve Bank of India and till date Rs 19.44 crore have been disbursed to the farmers Mr M.P. Arora, Additional Deputy Commissioner said while addressing the meeting of district banking advisory committee.

He said all the banks have been directed to disburse all the pending loans regarding the Swaran Jayanti Rozgar Yojna, Khadi Gram Udyog.


25 complaints pending at Lok Pal office
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Though the appointment of the Lok Ayukt and the Lok Pal are included in the UPA government's agenda, the Congress government in the state has done precious little in this direction. The post has been lying vacant for almost two years now.

Chandigarh, November 29
Punjab Government's failure to appoint Lok Pal has jeopardised inquiries being conducted by it. As many as 25 complaints against politicians, even government officers, are still pending before the Lok Pal.

The sources in the Punjab Government reveal that the inquiries pending before the Lok Pal cannot be completed as the staff attached to it has also been withdrawn by the authorities concerned. The Lok Pal's post has been lying vacant ever since the death of Justice D.V. Seghal in 2002.

Even though Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) P. Lal was recently asked to assist the Lok Pal's office with the inquiries, he is finding himself in a “difficult position” due to the absence of adequate staff.

As of now, the officer has only one Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) and just about six constables to assist him with the process of verifying the complaints. At one point of time, there were more than 65 officials deployed to assist the DGP.

The officers included a DGP, an Inspector-General of Police (IGP), a Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), besides Superintendents of Police (SPs) and other police personnel.

DGP Lal has now shot off a letter to the authorities concerned seeking the grant of staff for carrying on the inquiries. But he is yet to receive any response. DGP Lal refuses to comment on the issue.

Giving details, the sources, however, add that adequate staff is essential as inquiries, once initiated, have to be completed under the provisions of rules. No officer, except the Lok Pal himself, can call off the inquiries in between. The sources add that even the report, after the completion of inquiry, has to be submitted to the Lok Pal.

They add that a senior Punjab Police officer, earlier attached to the Lok Pal, had issued verbal instructions to the staff for dropping the inquiries in the absence of “decent manpower”, even though the same could not be ordered under the provisions of law.

Going into the background of the matter, the sources add that the staff was withdrawn soon after the issue pertaining to improper utilisation of manpower was raised by Ropar MLA Bir Devinder Singh.

He had reportedly stated that so many officers were not required in the Lok Pal's absence. Interestingly, the MLA — instrumental in the withdrawal of staff — not only wants the Lok Pal to be appointed, but also wants enhancement of his powers.

“I was never against the institution of Lok Pal,” he clarifies. “I had just objected to the wastage of manpower in his absence. Otherwise, I am of the firm opinion that political corruption — that has increased over the years — can only be checked with the appointment of the Lok Pal. This is not all. The Lok Pal's jurisdiction should be increased to bring ADGP and other senior police officers under its scanner”.


Badal case adjourned till March 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
A local court today adjourned till March 1 next year a case filed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, demanding Rs 5 crore as damages for allegedly tarnishing his image.

The court also imposed a cost of Rs 400 on Mr Badal after the eight witnesses failed to turn up in the court for deposition.

It may be recalled that Mr Badal had filed a suit for damages against Capt Amarinder Singh, who was then the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee(PPCC) chief, for allegedly tarnishing his image during the run-up to Punjab Assembly elections of 2002 by launching a “slanderous” campaign against the Badal family.

The advertisements in the newspapers, issued by the PPCC, had alleged that the Badals had amassed a wealth amounting to Rs 3,500 crore through corrupt means during the SAD-BJP regime in Punjab.


Warrant officer submits report
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 29
A warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a habeas corpus petition filed by a Bhikhiwind resident today submitted his report in the court.

The warrant officer had been sent to secure the release of a farmer, who had been allegedly illegally detained by the staff of Bhikhiwind Police Station. The farmer, Baldev Singh of Bahadar Nagar village, had been allegedly picked up by police personnel, including SHO Rashpal Singh, of Bhikhiwind Police Station without any charges.

The incident took place on November 19.

The farmer’s uncle, Jarnail Singh, had moved the High Court against the alleged detention, following which Mr Justice M.S. Gill had appointed the warrant officer.


Driver drugged, deprived of vehicle
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 29
Karnail Singh of nearby Khurampur village, who was driving a Toyota Qualis, was drugged by two miscreants, who later decamped with his vehicle leaving him on the roadside in unconscious state on the GT Road late last night. He was later hospitalised.

Karnail Singh was going to leave the vehicles (DL-3C-4465) at the residence of its owner in Adarsh Nagar. When he reached near Santokhpura Railway level crossing, he was accosted by two unidentified persons.

They pleaded to be taken to a nearby marriage palace. The driver declined to oblige, but the duo forced into the vehicle and put a handkerchief laced some drug on driver’s nose. The driver fell unconscious,

The miscreants drove away the vehicle. They threw the driver all along the GT road. He was spotted by some and hospitalised.

A complaint has been lodged with the police.


2 run over by train engine
Our Correspondent

Lalru, November 29
Two persons, Hari Prasad and Prem Prasad, were run over by a train engine on the Jharmal bridge on the Kalka-Ambala railway line near here, late last night.

Hailing from Nepal, Hari Prasad and Prem Prasad were working as cooks in a canteen of Nagar Fabricks, an industrial unit in Lehali village. They lost their lives when a train engine ran over them.

According to the Railway police, both victims were taking a short cut through the railway line when the accident took place. The duo were on their way back from the Lalru market to the industrial unit when they got trapped on the railway bridge. The engine heading towards Kalka from Ambala mowed them down.

Mr Sohan Ram, in charge of the Railway police post, Lalru, said the driver of the engine informed the gatemen at Dappar Railway Station and subsequently the police personnel at Lalru were informed.

Their mutilated bodies were recovered from the bed of the rivulet by the police. Relatives of the deceased, who had been working in the industrial unit, identified the bodies when they reached the police post after receiving the news this morning.

The bodies were handed over to the family members this evening after post-mortem examinations at the Civil Hospital, Rajpura. The police has initiated inquest proceedings in this regard. 


Cop crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 29
Head Constable Romesh Kumar posted at Division No. 2 police station here died near the Chakki bridge in a road accident this afternoon.

The police said the cop was crushed to death by a truck driven in a rash and negligent manner. The truck driver absconded.

The police has registered a case under Sections 427 and 304-A of the IPC.


Abducted schoolgirl recovered
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 29
A missing schoolgirl of eighth standard had been recovered and got medically examined. The 14-year-old village girl was adbucted by a Gurinder Singh, alias Ginda, of Mehliana village. He has been arrested under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC and remanded into the police custody.

The girl was got medically examined at the local Civil Hospital to ascertain whether she was raped in the captivity. The girl has been restored to her parents.


Couple hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 29
A couple were injured when they were hit by a motor cycle on the Badala road here today.

Mr Rajesh Sharma was going on a scooter to drop his wife, Ms Seema Sharma, to Vikram Public School when the accident took place. It is reported that the couple was hit from behind by a motor cycle.

Mr Sharma suffered a fracture in the leg while his wife got minor injuries. Both of them were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


21 agitating students rounded up, let off
Tribune News Service

A dog squad at work at the Guest House on the Punjabi University campus ahead of the World Punjabi Conference in Patiala
A dog squad at work at the Guest House on the Punjabi University campus ahead of the World Punjabi Conference in Patiala on Monday. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, November 29
The student agitation in Punjabi University saw 21 students being rounded up after they violated the prohibitory orders by sitting on dharna and raising slogans outside the main gate of the university campus here today.

They were, however, let off late in the evening after they signed a statement to the effect that they would not resort to any action which may disrupt the peaceful holding of the World Punjabi Conference on the campus being held from December 1 to 3.Senior Superintendent of Police A. S. Rai said though the students had violated prohibitory orders they were not put under arrest as there was no complaint against them.

However, sources said the district administration had used this strategy to release the students despite the fact that they were put under arrest so that the issue did not precipitate during the World Punjabi Conference.

The university administration, which had informed the police of the breach of the court orders promptly last time around, refrained from doing the same today. The administration is likely to prevail upon the students not to will disturb the holding of the conference.

The students today reached the university gate at around 11.30 a.m. and sat down on dharna in front of the main gate. They remained there for around 20 minutes raising slogans against the administration before they were rounded up.

Despite being prohibited from agitating in front of the main gate, this is the second time they have done so, with 19 students courting arrest more than a week back. The students had then been released earlier following the intervention of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh whom they had called upon in a delegation and promised not to disturb the World Punjabi Conference.

The students had simultaneously claimed that the Chief Minister had promised that he would resolve thier problems with the university administration in an amicable manner.

However, this did not happen and even “relief” promised by Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal a week back did not materialise.

Confederation leader Sukhjit Singh Chahal while talking to TNS said though the mode of protest would be decided after a meeting of the confederation, the students would give a befitting reply to the heavy handed tactics of Vice- Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai.

The Student Confederation has also in a statement urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to intervene in the matter immediately.

The confederation has demanded the immediate revocation of the suspension of four student leaders and the withdrawal of complaints against others. It has also called for reintroduction of Punjabi as a subject at the graduation level.


Mid-day Meal Scheme loses steam
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 29
The Mid-day Meal Scheme, which was resumed in the district less than a month ago, seems to be failing at Nihalsinghwala tehsil owing to “paucity of funds”.

According to sources in the Education Dept, due to the district administration’s “apathetic attitude” some social welfare organisations, which had been making claims of carrying on the scheme on their own, have also gone back on their word. Sources said the scheme was launched in 35 schools in Nihalsinghwala block on November 2 with much fanfare.

The sources said that at the time of the start of the scheme administration officials had given an assurance of providing Re 1 and 100 gm wheat to each child, with which the school would provide mid-day meal to students through contractors and NGOs. The sources said the payment of Re 1 per child had to be made to the schools on weekly basis, but they were yet to receive the same.

The contractors, who had taken up the job, were also disappointed due to the failure of the administration in sanctioning the funds. School teachers have also lost interest in the scheme.

Some staff members of the primary schools said they had been told to only fill the quantity of wheat in the forms they were provided with, while there was no column for other eatables that had been bought under the scheme.

The school staff also complained that the Education Department had provided them a single form despite the fact that they had to fill such a form daily. They stated that they had been spending their money for getting its copies made.

The sources further said none of the schools in the tehsil has been provided with the promised quantity of wheat till now. The scenario is same when it comes to sanctioning of funds.

The DEO, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, said the payment had been made to the contractors who had approached them. He said more forms would be provided to the schools soon. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, said the payment to the contractors might have got delayed this time and he would ensure the same within the next couple of days. He added that the administration had surplus wheat and lifting problem might have delayed its supply to some of the schools.


School opened at Sialba Majri village
Tribune News Service

Sialba Majri, November 29
To see a lifelong dream come true is a rare and beautiful moment. Major Gen Sher Jang Rathaur, today realised his dream and began a school for residents of his village, Sialba Majri. Lakshmi Tara Rathaur Public School, named after his mother and wife was inaugurated today in the village.

The school was scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh but since he could not come for the function, Parliamentary Secretary S.S. Randhawa represented him and announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the school. The Minister for Animal Husbandry and Tourism and local MLA, Mr Jagmohan Kang, was also present at the function and gave a grant of Rs 51,000 to the school.

Son of a headmaster, who served in Majri village, Major General Rathaur (retd) recalled his younger days in the 1950s, when he had to walk about 10 km to attend his school at Kurali. “Despite a lot of development that has taken place in the area, still there is no good English school that offers quality education to prepare our youth to face the competitive culture of modern times for admission into higher technical and academic institutions,” he said.

Leading a retired life since 1994, the Major General’s family was well settled in the USA and he had decided to devote the rest of his life to the cause of education.

Speaking of the school motto, character is destiny Major General Rathaur said he had chosen the motto there was degradation of moral values. “This has led to an atmosphere where corruption, self interest and ego reign supreme. We need to imbibe our younger generation with positive qualities and healthy outlook,“ he said.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Jagmohan Kang assured the Major General of his support. The school spreads over 2.5 acres of land near the Swaraj Foundry Factory in the village. The building will house students up till class V. “We will get the school affiliated to the CBSE and try to upgrade it till Class XII” said Major General Rathaur.


Schedule for admission forms released
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 29
The Punjab School Education Board here today released the schedule for availability of admission forms for those students who had appeared in the supplementary examinations held by the board in September 2004.

According to a press note issued by the Controller of Examinations here today, the last date for receipt of admission form without late fee is December 6, 2004, while the last date of receipt of form with late fee of Rs 500 is December 14, 2004.

The last date for receipt of application form with Rs 1000 late fee is December 22, 2004.

The Controller of Examination has added that no admission forms would be accepted after these dates and candidates should submit their application forms along with examination fee either at the board’s head office or textbook depots.


Sacred Heart holds annual function
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 29
Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the annual function of Sacred Heart Public School Sadhugarh yesterday said Fatehgarh Sahib was the land of martyrs, where two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked alive, so following foot steps children belonging to the area must because good citizens. He was impressed by the performance of school children. He called upon parents to teach moral values to their children, so that they could serve the society in better manner. Dr D.S.Hira, Principal Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College in his presidential address said that the future of any country depended upon the youths of that country. He said that it was unfortunate that the youth was being attracted toward so called westernisation and forgetting the traditions, culture and moral values. He also appreciated the cultural programme presented by school children.

Ms Ravinder Kaur Sahi, principal of the school read the annual report and highlighted the achievements of the school in various fields.

Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, Director of the school welcomed the chief guests, he also explained the further plans of the management.

On this occasion, the children presented an impressive cultural programme. The parents and the people from the area had turned out in large number to witness the function.


Multi-media centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 29
Punjab Higher Education Secretary A.R. Talwar on Saturday inaugurated a computerised multi-media centre and cyber cafe at Government Bikram College here.

A college press note said the Higher Education Secretary also planted some plants as part of a project of the Environmental and Ecological Society.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Talwar talked about the improved education system. He also suggested that attempts should be made to place students in the local industry so that their hidden potential could be explored. He also called for starting new courses which were in tune with the changing world scenario so that students could compete in the new environment.

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