P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



22 HIV positive cases detected in Sangrur district
Rallies, seminars mark World AIDS Day
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, December 1
Of the 286 suspected cases of HIV referred to the local Civil Hospital’s Voluntary Confidential Counselling and Testing Centre (VCCTC) this year by doctors of various government and private health institutions of the district so far, 22 have tested positive.

As per information, eight women, six men and eight children (six boys and two girls) were found infected with HIV. One of the affected girls is just nine-month-old.

Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said here today that the record of every patient was kept confidential. Those testing positive were educated about the disease by counsellors, so that they could live a longer healthy life by changing their life style, she added.

Dr Walia said about 1,600 new HIV cases were reported every day the world over. She said as per the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for 1998, more than 33 million HIV positive persons had been living in the world at that time. She said there were more than 50 lakh people infected with HIV in India at present.

Meanwhile, a function was also organised at the Civil Hospital here under the presidentship of, Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, to mark World AIDS Day today. He also flagged off a rally to create awareness among the people about AIDS. A quiz contest was also organised on the occasion. Nine blood donors of the district were also honoured.

Around 100 officers and employees were also honoured for performing well in the issuance of birth certificates in the first and the second phases of national campaign for issuing birth certificates of children.

Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, urged the gathering to spread awareness about the dreaded disease.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, addressed a state-level function organised to mark World AIDS Day, at Dasuya, 40 km from here, today.

Mr D.S. Guru, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, said HIV/AIDS had disturbed the socio-economic set-up of society. He urged the youth to adopt safe sexual practices.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, project director, State AIDS Control Society, said the number of HIV positive persons was 4,070 in the state.

Dr G.L. Goyal, Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, stressed the need to create awareness and bring about behavioural changes in youths and students.

Later, Mr Dogra flagged off a rally of students. An exhibition was also organised on the occasion.

A function was held at local DAV Senior Secondary School to spread AIDS awareness among students.

BATHINDA: Hundreds of schoolchildren, volunteers of social and non-government organisations (NGOs), medical professionals and district officials took out a rally to spread awareness about AIDS on the occasion of World AIDS Day today. The rally passed through main markets of the town.

The participants were carrying placards carrying slogans in connection with AIDS prevention.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, in a press note issued here, said the rally was flagged off by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha from the fire brigade area. After the rally, a seminar on AIDS was held in the local SSD Girls College, he added. People associated with awareness campaign against AIDS for the past many years, including, Mr Narinder Kumar, and Ms Usha Sharma, participated in the seminar.

Dr Paramjit Singh Romana, Principal, Punjabi University College of Education, said a function was also held on the college campus where, Ms Raj Gupta, Principal, Swami Vivekanand Girls College delivered a lecture on AIDS.


Amritsar district leads in HIV positive cases
Our Correspondent

Amritsar December 1
This district has reported the highest incidence of AIDS cases in Punjab, according to the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC) report. The alarming rise is being seen in both high-risk group comprising truck drivers, drug users and sex workers and the low- risk group comprising those who may contract it through blood transfusion.

Meanwhile, a disturbing report has emerged with regard to two villages in the district, residents of which are suffering from alleged gnominy due to high number of HIV-positive cases reported from there. Sarpanches and elders in these villages — one near Tarn Taran the other near Beas — reported that this had taken a toll on the marriage prospects also.

Interestingly, a unique trend has emerged in matrimonial advertisements in local dailies and on the Internet by HIV-positive persons. An example of such an advertisement : An HIV+ man seeks marriage. Those interested may apply …status would be kept secret.

While most doctors feel this was a responsible way to seek partners by those suffering from the ailment, they do not deny the possibility that by revealing their identification HIV-positive women could expose themselves to getting blackmailed by vested interests or unscrupulous elements.

As many as 178 HIV-positive cases were reported from Amritsar district this year till September. The total number of such cases in the state was 471.

Amritsar district is followed by Patiala and Faridkot districts with 120 and 56 cases, respectively. Fourteen other districts reported less than 50 cases.

Ludhiana reported just 17 cases while Ropar reported 45 and Jalandhar 30, besides two each in Sangrur and Bathinda districts. Hoshiarpur reported a lone case only.

No such cases were reported from Ferozpur, Muktsar, Moga, Mansa, Gurdaspur and Fatehgarh Sahib in the report.

As many as 91 persons have died of AIDS in the state since 1992.Last year, according to the VCTC report Amritsar had reported 186 HIV-positive cases.


Punjabi conference starts on fond hopes
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, December 1
For the scores of Punjabis who have descended on the city for the World Punjabi Conference from both sides of the border, Punjabi University campus today took on a different connotation altogether. For the time being it ceased to be a place of learning. It was transformed into an emotional platform where long-seperated souls feasted yet again on the love and affection they had once enjoyed together once upon a time.

Amidst back-thumping and moist eyes began a celebration of all that encompasses Punjab and its essence — Punjabiyat. In a spirit of bonhomie which is to be seen to be believed delegates from both India and Pakistan listened amidst pin drop silence as speaker after speaker took on the podium .

Though the pain of the Partition and the loss suffered by the community came across strongly through the speakers, the dominant emotion remained the persistent hope to overcome all hurdles in the peace process so that Punjabs on both sides of the border may march towards prosperity. Artists, writers, intellectuals and economists who form the bulk of the 150-strong Pakistani delegation are all firmly convinced that acceptance and tolerance will ultimately usher in complete harmony in the region.

Most of these delegates have opted to stay with Indian families in the city, an offer which was extended by teachers of the University. The right chord was struck yesterday night at a dinner hosted by the Vice Chancellor for the arriving delegates. Amidst poetic rounds, people inquired about their ancestral villages and as the evening progressed poetry gave way to animated discussions about how people of both the countries could work together to bring the nations closer.

Prof Hussein Bokhari who teaches Urdu at Government College Lahore trembles a little as he tells you that almost all his ancestors lie buried in a graveyard in Patiala. “My ancestral home used to be in Tripuri Sayyida locality in Patiala, I rue the fact that I cannot locate my home in the city as my father migrated to Pakistan prior to my birth. I feel emotionally drained ever since I landed here”. Pakistan poetess Salma cannot contain the excitement that has swept over her in anticipation of her visit to her ancestral village near Jalandhar.

Meanwhile, the venues for all three technical sessions that were held today remained jam packed while ideas and views flowed freely across. A session on Punjabi language and literature got underway at the Senate hall. The second session involved agriculture, industry, trade and technology was held at Kala Bhavan while a third was organised at Science Auditorium on Punjab Art and Culture.

In the session on language and literature, eminent writers, including Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, Satinder Singh Noor (Delhi University), Dr Gurmail Sidhu (California State University, USA), Pakistani columnist Afzal Tauseef, Dr Amrik Singh (former VC Punjabi University) and Harjeet Singh Gill (Professor Emeritius, JNU, Delhi) spoke on various issues affecting the Punjabi language and its propagation.


Akalis invited to Punjabi conference, says spokesperson
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 1
A spokesperson for the Punjabi University, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, today asserted that all Akali and BJP leaders had been invited to the World Punjabi Conference.

Denying SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal’s statement, Dr Sandhu said it was painful to know that a senior political leader of the state claims that he had not been invited to the World Punjabi conference being held at Punjabi University. He asserted that the university authorities had taken a conscious decision that leaders of all political parties and especially those of Akali Dal and BJP must be invited for the World Punjabi Conference along with the leaders of the ruling party.

He added that Mr Manpreet Singh Badal contacted the university authorities and requested that all invitation cards meant for Akali Dal and BJP MLAs be given to him which he personally collected from the university. Dr Sandhu said that Mr Manpreet had assured that the cards would be delivered to all concerned well in time and that the university was informed by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal’s staff that the cards had been delivered. He added that it is unfortunate that Mr Parkash Singh Badal has chosen to involve an apolitical and secular institution like Punjabi University into an uncalled for controversy for his personal political vendetta.


Break down barriers, create SAARC visa: Pak poet
Gurvinder Kaur

Fakhar Zaman
Fakhar Zaman

Patiala, December 1
Talk to Fakhar Zaman and one can understand as to why this man is one of the most sought after in the world of Punjabi literature. Love for his language, and the passion with which he nurtures it are evident enough. However, he deserves kudos for much more.

He has not merely lent himself to the service of the Punjabi language but also tiraded ceaselessly for the breaking down of the barriers separating Punjabis on both sides of the border.

Poet and writer par excellence Zaman is today a happy man. “When in 1986 a handful of us collected together to introduce a method in this madness, none believed that we would go far. And today look at us, Indo-Pak amity is for real, this is the eleventh World Punjabi Conference we have held successfully”.

Zaman, who has authored eight novels, besides poetry collections, is also a playwright. His novels are included in the syllibi for post-graduate courses in Indian universities as well. This former Minister of Culture under the Benazir Bhutto regime braved the wrath of many hard liners by trying to preach the path of peace and brotherhood. However, the writer understands that he has been able to touch merely the tip of the iceberg and lovers of peace cannot afford to rest on their laurels however hardly won.

“Many concrete steps need to be taken to remove the bottlenecks existing presently. Free us from the visa restrictions, let the Punjabi community meet”, he says, adding, “if the permit system is not feasible then at least a SAARC visa can be introduced in the sub-continent on the pattern of the Shenegan visa which is valid in Europe today. We can suggest yet another alternative, issue multiple visas, we must stop this city specific visa that are being currently issued”.

Zaman has persisted in demanding the resumption of trade and transport services between the two nations. He is also a strong advocate for the setting up of a commission which will rewrite the portions of “distorted history”. The new generation needs to know the truth about our heroes of yesteryears, this will help to reduce bitterness and create respect for personalities from both Hindu and Muslim communities”.

Brushing away speculations as regards to the dim future of the Punjabi language vis a vis other languages, Zaman says: “Nearly 10 crore people in this world speak this language. How can it die? Punjabi has both strength and innate endearing qualities which will ensure its survival in the times to come. Though little had been done hitherto in Pakistan about its propagation, the movement has started and will only get stronger in future”.

Punjabi writer Afzal Ahsan Randhawa from Pakistan echoes the same views: “Gurbani, sufi compositions and its rich folklore will never let Punjabi become extinct.” Randhawa’s novel ‘Doaba’ is currently on the syllibi of the post-graduates course in Punjabi in Punjabi University. Randhawa is also looking forward to visit his ancestral home in Amritsar city. I have to prepare myself for the emotional upheaval it will cause”, he says.


Z-plus security for Elahi 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 1
Even as West Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi faces Al-Qaida threat, the Punjab police have made unprecedented security arrangements by requisitioning forces from six police districts for his visit to the holy city here tomorrow .

He will be given Z-plus security.

The DGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, reviewed the security arrangement.

Meanwhile, the visit of Mr Elahi has been re-scheduled as he has desired to visit the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh first before he receives honorary degree of D Lit along with Capt Amarinder Singh at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Mr Elahi is the first Chief Minister from West Punjab who will visit to East Punjab and would be the first to be given a siropa by the SGPC.

As per official information, he will be accompanied by Mr Moonis Elahi, Mr Rasikh Elahi, Mr Shafey Hussain, Mr Salik Hussain, Ms Nighat, Ms Kishwar, Ms Shehnaz Khalid (all from CM's family), Mr Kamran Rasool, Chief Secretary, West Punjab, Mr Suleman Ghani, Chairman, Planning and Development, Mr Saadat Ullah Khan, Inspector-General of Police, Mr Taimur Azmat Osman, Secretary, Information, Dr Farah Masood, Deputy Secretary to CM, Mr Javed Akbar, Personal Staff Officer to CM, Mr Hamesh Khan, Managing Director, Bank of Punjab, Mr Mohammad Iqbal, Chief Photographer to CM, Lieut-Col Mushtaq Hamdani (retd), Director-General, Protocol, Usaf Nasoom Khokhar, Additional Secretary to CM, Amer Zulfiqar, Mr Nizamudin Khan and Mr Shauz Bin Aziz, Director-General, Public Relations.

A team of PTV will also accompany him.


Badal invited to tea with Elahi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today got an invitation to join Mr Parvaiz Elahi, Chief Minister of West Punjab (Pakistan), for tea at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha here on December 5.

The invitation has been extended by the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Dr Kewal Krishan. Among others who have been invited are the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, the Rural Development Minister, Mr Lal Singh, and the Deputy Speaker, Prof Darbari Lal.


‘Kar seva’ begins at Lahore gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 1
Even as the ‘kar seva’ at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Guru Ram Dass, the birth place of fourth Sikh Guru, at Chunna Mandi, Lahore, started amid chanting of slogans today, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) has allowed the ‘kar seva’ of constructing two ‘serais’ near Nankana Sahib to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, ignoring the SGPC.

Formal letters in this regard have been handed over to Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, and the chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal, New Delhi.

Earlier, SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and senior leadership of the SAD, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had raised objection over the handing over of ‘kar seva’ to Mr Sarna during their meeting with the Pakistani Ambassador.

The PSGPC has planned to lay railway line near Gurdwara Nankana Sahib

The old structure of Gurdwara Ram Dass would be preserved. Baba Jagtar Singh, Mr Sarna, Mr J.S. Kochhar from Dubai and senior functionaries of the PSGPC participated in the ‘kar seva’.


Call for common Punjabi market
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
Punjabis from both sides of the border in India and Pakistan today gathered and mulled over what they had lost since the partition. As much as Rs 20,000 crore was a conservative estimate drawn up on the occasion. Not much time was spent on crying over the spilt milk. They called for grabbing the opportunity to make good of changing equations to form a common Punjabi market, a common technical university and even sharing of the agricultural research knowhow of both the states across the border.

Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman of Punjabi University said both provinces across the border had paid a heavy price financially after the partition. “We understand the pain of the partition but the financial price made since then by people from both the provinces is an issue which is still not understood or discussed with any seriousness”, he says. He said the conference was a forum through which governments could be made to understand the folly of not rebuilding trade ties.

At present goods are first transported to Mumbai and then proceed to Karachi and then to Lahore”, he said while Lahore was only 50 km from Amritsar. “So is the Husainiwala border at Ferozepore”, he says. This practise he said involved huge transportation and transhipment costs which inflated the prices of most of these exports in Pakistan. He said leaving aside the direct benefits to the people of both countries in case of direct trade links, the Pakistan Government would also benefit by opening up of intra - SAARC trade.

Meanwhile, there was a call from Pakistani Punjab for creating a common Punjabi market. Mr Suleman Ghani, Chairman of the Planning and Development Board of the Government of Lahore, said people from both the provinces should pool in their resources for this purpose as this would allow them to emerge as a regional economic power centre. He said Pakistan Punjab on its part wanted to create a light engineering triangle which would focus between the area between Gujarat, Gujranwala and Sialkot. He said similarly a world class technical university was planned in which India Punjab could also collaborate.

He said the Pakistani state government had created two Industrial Estates at Lahore and Faislabad with the aim of keeping them away from the government purview. “Two more are on the anvil”, he added. Speaking at the technical session on agriculture, industry, trade and technology, Mr Ghani also called for expanding the credit limits of small scale industries besides urging that farm research advances of both the provinces be shared.

Agriculture teacher from Pakistan Naseem Mahmood Hotian, while speaking on the issue, said there was a vast difference in fertilser rates in both the countries. He said while urea was available for Rs 450 in Pakistan, the same was available for Rs 350 in India. Hotian also called for exchange of vegetable and fruits between both the countries, saying instead of throwing potatos on the roads during a glut, “we can give them to you.”


Consumer is king Message to PSEB
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The consumer is the king! Who would know better than the Punjab State Electricity Board, which has been ordered by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission to lower the tariff rates and, thus, pass on to the state’s 54 lakh consumers a benefit of Rs 400 crore.

It is for the first time that power tariff rates have been slashed in a big way, giving confidence to the consumers, who stand acknowledged as major stake holders.

The PSEB had filed the petition to the commission pegging its revenue requirement at Rs 8187 crore and, thus, requesting it to allow to increase the tariff from 2 to 33 per cent for different categories. The commission held public hearings inviting various sections of consumers to submit their comments either in writing or personally appear before the commission on the petition.

Alert consumers came fully prepared to depose before the commission. They submitted their arguments supported with facts and figures to negate the various points filed by the PSEB in the petition. The consumers expressed their deep concern regarding the transmission and distribution losses of the PSEB. They argued that the PSEB should be told to bring down its transmission losses, which are now in the range of 24.5 per cent to 18 per cent.

With 1 per cent line losses, the PSEB suffers a loss of about Rs 100 crore, according to experts. And by bringing down the line losses to 18 per cent, the PSEB could earn Rs 600 crore more and, thus, tariff rates could be further reduced. Now the PSEB has promised to reduce line losses to 20.50 per cent by 2006-07.

Other major objections raised by consumers included expenditure on employees. The commission had last year directed the PSEB to cap the expenditure on employees at Rs 1250 crore. However, the PSEB in its petition projected the expenditure for current financial year at Rs 1775 crore. Consumers strongly opposed it. The commission had to agree with the view point expressed in this connection by consumers. This argument proved very effective for the lowering of the revenue requirement of the PSEB from Rs 8187 crore to Rs 7424 crore by the commission.

Consumers told the commission that the PSEB should be told to work out a rational figure of employees it requires to run its affairs. The entire expenditure on employees,whose number is far more than required, should not be recovered from consumers. Public representatives also objected to the provision of free supply of certain number of units to the PSEB employees. There were several other objections raised by consumers.

All these arguments helped for the building up of a strong case in favour of consumers and thus forcing the commission to reduce the power tariff. Otherwise, the commission, under the Electricity Act-2003, is bound to take on record all arguments advanced by consumers. The commission is an autonomous body and it could not be arm-twisted to sign on the dotted line either by the PSEB or by the state government.

It is for the first time in the history of state that consumers have secured such a big relief from the PSEB, which is a power monopoly organisation, through the commission. Otherwise, when the commission was not in existence, the PSEB used to revise upward the power tariff without bothering about the consumers.


Govt releases money for jails’ upgradation
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Less than a month after a report was carried in these columns regarding the Punjab Government’s failure to hand over its share of Rs 3.72 crore for upgrading jails in the state, the authorities have released the first installment of Rs 56 lakh. The remaining amount is likely to be released soon.

The money — combined with Central finances — is expected to be utilised not only for repair of existing jails, but also for construction of “ultra modern high security prisons” in the state. The Central Government has already handed over Rs 11 crore to the Police Housing Corporation for the purpose.

The sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claim that the corporation has in fact commenced work. Tenders have been invited and the process is likely to be finalised within a week or so.

They add that the entire operation pertaining to the repair and upgradation of jails — including the ones located at Jalandhar, Bathinda and Sangrur — has to be completed by March end next year.

Giving details of modernisation plan, the sources say that besides renovating the existing jails, the authorities are finalising plans for setting up new barracks in some of the over-crowded jails. The sources add that the occupancy rate in some of the jails in the state is as high as 150 per cent. The problem of over-crowding is worse in the district jails.

The sources claim that the authorities also have plans to set up barracks for staff members, besides improving sanitation facilities in the jails. They add that inmates in several jails are being forced to live in sub-human conditions due to want of adequate sanitation facilities.

They further assert that some of the prisons require “urgent attention”. In a few jails, even the walls require repair. In all there are seven central jails in the state at Patiala, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. In addition there are five district jails and 11 sub jails. The prisons have authorised accommodation for 9484 prisoners. The daily average population of jails is around 8200.

The sources also reveal that a five-member committee has been constituted by the state government to finalise the modalities. The committee is headed by Punjab’s Prisons Advisor A.P. Bhatnagar. The other members include Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons) J.P.Virdi, Inspector-General (Prisons) S.K. Dutta, along with Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s Manager, Projects, S.S. Gill, besides Secretary (Home).


Tribune Impact
Gurdwara seeks ‘recognition’ on Sahibzadas’ issue
Mahesh Sharma

Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Aloarakh in Sangrur district
Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Aloarakh in Sangrur district. — Photo by writer

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 1
Though the SGPC and other Sikh organisations are yet to consider the appeal to accord recognition to the historically important Gurdwara Manji Sahib at Aloarakh, near Bhawanigarh in Sangrur district, where an urn reportedly containing a part of the ashes of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh — the two young Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh is preserved, devotees from all corners of the country have started visiting the gurdwara to pay their obeisance. They are keen to know more about the historic background of the religious place.

The Tribune had carried a story on the issue, the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC has asked the management committee of the gurdwara to give in writing the sequence of events that led to their faith.

Confirming the influx of devotees after the publication of the story in The Tribune, Mr Gurdit Singh, President of the management committee said more devotees particularly from the elite showed considerable interest in the revelations. Many mediapersons, including those from international scene and from TV channels, visited the place to verify the facts.

He said Mr Dharam Singh, secretary of the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC, had asked the committee to give in writing the account of the background and sequence of events that led to the construction of the religious place. Mr Dharam Singh, however, said the final decision to allow a nagar kirtan from Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup at Fatehgarh Sahib to Aloarakh would be taken only after the claim of the committee was verified.

Though the president of the SGPC was not available for comments, Mr Parkash Singh Badal President of SAD, the party enjoying majority in the committee, feigned ignorance about the historical background of the gurdwara and reiterated the stand of Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takhat that the management of the gurdwara should plead their case before the secretary of the Dharam Parchar Committee. Mr Raghbir Singh Saharanmajra, an SGPC member, called upon the Sikh sangat to send their views on the subject to the SGPC.

Meanwhile, Ms Satwinder Kaur Bitti, a Punjabi singer and producer-director of many videos cassettes on Sikh faith visited the gurdwara and disclosed that a video-cassette about the gurdwara would be produced by her group. She had already taken permission for shooting at gurdwara Jyoti Swarup.

Residents of this belt of Malwa had shown resentment over the decision of the management committee at the Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup for not allowing them to take out a nagar kirtan in connection with the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas.

Based on the information received from their anscestors and one-time servants of Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha, the management had claimed that the collar of the urn, ashes and some metallic beads recovered following the excavation of the place belonged to Sahibzadas. These were buried by Baba Sangat Singh, a messenger of Dewan Todar Mal, a courtier of Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind. In those trying times when the Sikhs were being persecuted for their faith, the Dewan dared to come to the former's aid and bought a piece of land needed for the cremation of the Sahibzada from the Nawab by covering it with gold coins.

In view of the adverse circumstances, he surreptitiously kept an urn of the ashes before their immersion in the holy river. With the passage of time, a gurdwara came up here to commemorate the unparalleled sacrifice of the Sahibzadas and that of their grandmother, Mata Gujri.

The management of the gurdwara had been reportedly asking the SGPC to accord recognition to the religious place for the past 10 years.


Pawar to inaugurate Agro Tech, 2004
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, will inaugurate Agro Tech, 2004, here on December 3 while the Chief Ministers of the two Punjabs and Finance Minister of Haryana will be the guests of honour on the opening day of the four-day event.

The visiting Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab, Mr Parvez Elahi, will be a major attraction as he will be presented a tractor by Punjab premier Amarinder Singh. It will be for the first time that a diginitary from Pakistan would be officially attending this biggest agro-tech expo of the country.

Agro-Tech will showcase the latest in agricultural technology, products and allied services. The mega event will also feature 6 concurrent international expos and nine International F&A conferences, covering different sectors of agriculture and related economy which are likely to spur agri-sector growth in the country.

There will be a special session on “South Asia: Challenges in Agriculture” on the first day to provide a forum to promote trade and market integration in agriculture and related sectors amongst the South Asian countries. There would be country presentations on the potential and investment opportunities available, and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives have been invited to participate in this session.

On the second day an international conference on “Indian Poultry & Livestock Industry” will be held. Ranked 5th in the world, the Indian poultry industry today boasts of an annual growth rate of 20% — a rate unmatched anywhere in the world. The conference will focus on the unlimited opportunities, emerging issues and international experiences in poultry industry as well as in the large animal meat industry and fresh water fisheries.

Emphasis will be laid on encouraging agro-processing. A special session will be dedicated to this aspect. India’s share in world fruit production is 7.7% while it is number two in the world in vegetable production at 45 million tones. Yet, only 2% of the produce is processed. Two international conferences on “Positioning Indian Food Retail for Demand Growth” and “Building a Robust Food Retail Supply Chain” will be held on the second day.

Day three will feature an international conference on “Indian Dairy Industry in the Global Perspective” which will highlight the latest developments in the fields of dairy technology, genetic engineering, animal health, nutrition, products and processing etc. A conference on “IT in Agriculture” will be also held on the same day.

Since biotechnology has been a critical and fast emerging dynamic sector positioned to reshape and redefine virtually every aspect of life, an international conference on “Biotechnology in Agriculture” will be held on December 5.

On December 6 a highly informative conference on “Agri Financing, Insurance & Rural Credit” will be held. The conference would focus on the finance related core issues affecting the growth of agribusiness in India.

A competitive agriculture sector under the WTO regime is the biggest challenge for North India. On December 6 a conference on “Emerging Opportunities in Contract Farming” will be held. Apart from these, a number of kisan ghostis will be held in which new developments in food, agriculture and related fields will be discussed.


Teacher promoted after death!
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 1
It was the heartfelt desire of Jagjit Singh, a teacher in a government school of this district to get a promotion. But when the district education authorities gave him the promotion , he was no more.

Not only this, the district education authorities have also reportedly promoted those teachers who have retired from their respective services either after attaining the age of superannuation or by adopting the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

As per the list of those, who has been promoted , issued by the District Education Officer (DEO) Elementary, Mrs Surinder Kataria, late Jagjit Singh has been shown as promoted as head teacher and subsequently posted at Hakam Singh Wala village from Malluana village.

Mr Mohinder Singh, Block Level Primary Education Officer (BPEO), Phul East, when contacted, said he had duly informed the district education authorities that two teachers - Jagjit Singh and Buta Singh- had died and hence they should not be promoted. He added that while the name of Buta Singh did not figure in the list of those promoted, the name of Jagjit singh was mentioned and it was shown that he had been promoted as head teacher.

Mrs Kataria ,however said she had ordered promotions of those teachers only whose name had been cleared by the respective BPEOs. She added that as the BPEOs were having DDO powers of such teachers and had all information in connection with their service and career, the district education authorities were had to act on the information supplied by the BPEOs in that matter.

She said she had sought the explanation of the concerned BPEO, who had supplied wrong information to the district education authorities. She added that after scanning the promotion list again, the names of those candidates, who had died and retired and had been given promotion due to negligence on the part of concerned BPEO, would be deleted and promotion would be given to the next deserving candidate.

Meanwhile, information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Amarjit Singh, who had taken retirement under VRS a long time ago, had been shown promoted as head teacher and posted at Ramoowala village from Mehraj Patti Karam Chand village. Mr Amarjit Singh, who was shown as posted in Mehraj Patti Karam Chand village, was in fact posted at Sidana village, got VRS when he was posted there. This fact was not recorded even in the record of the district education authorities.

Apart from it, the district education authorities had also given promotion to Mrs Sodha Rani, a teacher, who had retired a long time ago. In the promotion list, she had been shown as promoted as centre head teacher and posted at Bahini village.

Mr Kataria pointed out that a total 80 teachers posted in this district had been promoted on November 29 this year.She added that promotion was done as per the record supplied to her by the field staff.

Mr Krishan Kumar Menon, Block President, Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), Rampura block, while condemning the negligent action of the district education authorities demanded that all those deserving candidates, who had been denied promotion due to the promotion given to dead or retired teachers, should be given promotion immediately. He demanded that a fresh seniority list of teachers should be prepared and seniority list prepared in 1997 should not be used in any matter. 


Baba Balbir Singh arrested in eye sale racket case
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
The Patiala Police today arrested Baba Balbir Singh who runs the All India Pingla Ashram on the outskirts of the city as it claimed that two more eye specialists of the city were involved in the eye sale racket which it had busted two days back by arresting an employee of a local eye hospital.

Superintendent of Police Pritpal Singh Virk disclosed that Baba Balbir Singh had been arrested from the city itself today. He said the Baba had during preliminary claimed that he had supplied eyes to other eye specialists of the city also but said that he had not collected any money for the same. The Baba has been arrested under Sections 297,420, 120 (b) IPC and Section 18, 19 of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.

Mr Virk said the police would seek the police remand of Baba Balbir Singh tomorrow so that the entire case could be unravelled. He said while an employee of Dr Rajeev Sharma of Sharma Eye Hospital had been caught while taking a set of eyes to the hospital from the ashram two days back, two more doctors had been named as recipients of eyes of inmates who expired in the premises of the Pingla Ashram.

The police officer said the two doctors had been identified as Dr B C Bansal who was a private practitioner and Dr Dharam Pal Chahlia who was working in the Government Rajindra hospital. He said the district police had written to the Director, Health Services to verify whether a private practitioner or even a government doctor could receive eye donation and whether they were allowed to create an eye bank and also authorised to carry on transplants. He said once an answer to this query was received the police would start the process of questioning both the doctors.

Mr Virk also disclosed that though Baba Balbir Singh was claiming that he used to donate the eyes of the deceased, the police had a signed statement from Mann Singh, who had been arrested two days back, that he had himself handed over money to Baba Balbir Singh as payment of the eyes supplied to the Sharma Eye Hospital.

Meanwhile Indian Medical Association today also issued a press release on the issue. Punjab IMA President Dr O P S Kande claimed that action should be taken against doctors transplanting eyes to needy persons only if sale and purchase of the same was proved. Dr Kande said harassing the donors and the doctors only on a suspicion of a sale and purchase would effect the national blindness programme.



Non-Jats feel alienated from Akali Dal
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 1
Non-Jat Sikhs are feeling distanced from the mainstream of the Sikh Panth. For the last three decades no notable second rung leader from among the non-Jat sikhs has surfaced in Akali politics.

Ramgarhia Sikhs form a bulk of the population in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Batala and Phagwara. They belong to well off sections and some of them are big industrialists. Ramgarhias in the Sikh community are next to Jat Sikhs in number. But they have always felt that the Akali Dal has not treated them well and their presence in the mainstream Sikh politics has been national. During the Gurdwara reform movement, they had thrown up stalwarts like Mr Sardul Singh Kavishar, Mr Sarmukh Singh Chamak and Mr Arjan Singh Gargaj. During the freedom movement their sympathies had been with the Congress.

Urbans Sikhs, by and large, comprising Khatris and Aroras have been with the Akali Dal till the ascendency of Master Tara Singh. They have been eased out and discriminated. Interestingly the Akali Dal leadership has ignored this aspect continuously.

Meanwhile, the complexion of the cities is also changing. The urbanisation has led to migration of Jat Sikhs to cities from villages. Many villages have become part of bigger towns. Consequently the Jat presence in towns is showing its presence. This is again to the disadvantage of non-Jats. But despite this one fact has to be kept in view that the non-Jats, including Ramgarhias and the backward sections of society, have always remained ardent Sikhs devoted to the guru and the Panth. They feel that they are always exploited by the Jat-dominated Akali leadership.

The late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra during his lifetime had a feeling that the urban Sikhs must be kept in the mainstream and it was because of this reason that when he parted company with, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the non-Jat Sikhs stood by him and he had a strong following in towns. He also realised that the non-Jat Sikhs were capable people and dependable. After the demise of Jathedar Tohra and Jathedar Surjan Singh Thekedar, non-Jat Sikhs are feeling leaderless and completely ignored by the mainstream leadership of the Akali Dal. This is evident from the fact that Parkash Singh Badal has not reorganised the urban district jathas of his Akali Dal as promised and agreed at the time of the patch-up between Jathedar Tohra and Mr Badal. Rather he has been avoiding the issue.

Under the agreement, status quo was to be restored where the followers of Jathedar Tohra were holding the office of president of the district urban units. The Ludhiana urban unit was led by, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, former MLA at the time of split in the Shiromani Akali Dal. Even after the split, Mr Badal did not officially nominate the next senior vice-president as president and, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, and Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, both his loyalists continued to quarrel. Even now they are at loggerheads and Mr Gabria has joined as the third aspirant for the post which he was due to get under the agreement.

Similarly the urban jathas of Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala have not been reorganised. Tohra loyalists are waiting to get their share in these urban towns.

One senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal while maintaining anonymity admitted that the non-Jat Sikhs had not been given a fair deal. He also felt that the Tohra loyalists had been treated shabily.

Even otherwise Shiromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal who was elected president of the party in June by the General House for two years has failed to reorganised his party. The office-bearers and working committee were to be nominated by him as he was authorise to do so. The political affairs committee has also not been reconstituted. All the five general secretaries of the Shiromani Akali Dal are Jat Sikhs. The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has failed to make capital out of such a situation because of poor leadership. The PPCC can take advantage of the prevailing situation in the Sikh politics if the cards are played well.


Sukhbir, Dhillon to address Youth Akali workers on Dec 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, both Members of Parliament, will address senior leaders and office-bearers of the Youth Akali Dal and senior functionaries of the district units of the Dal at Sector 27 Kalgidhar Niwas here on December 4, Mr Harsukhinder Singh Badal, general secretary of the Youth Dal, announced today.

He said the meeting would discuss how Youth Dal workers could be mobilised to join the tercentenary of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri which falls later this month.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal will start its programme of holding dharnas at district headquarters from Bathinda tomorrow. SAD has given a call for holding dharnas at all district headquarters to protest against the total failure of the Congress Government in the state in protecting the interests of various sections of society, including farmers, traders and industrialists.

On December 3 the Dal leaders, including party MPs, MLAs, SGPC members and other senior leaders would sit in dharna in Gurdaspur and on December 9 they would hold dharna at Hoshiarpur.


Dr Aujla gives 92 lakh for Kala Bhavan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Dr Rachhpal Singh Aujla (in box) and the Kala Bhavan building at Punjabi University, Patiala
Dr Rachhpal Singh Aujla (in box) and the Kala Bhavan building at Punjabi University, Patiala.

Chandigarh, December 1
“To live a pure and unselfish life, one must understand that nothing in the world belongs to you”. These words of Buddha aptly describe what Dr Rachhpal Singh Aujla is. Dr Aujla lives amidst abundance of money in the USA, but he never considers it as his own.

Dr Aujla has donated Rs 92 lakh to Punjabi University, Patiala. His greatness lies in the fact that he requested the university authorities not to give any credit to him for the donation.

“We daily come across people who relish to see their names written in red letters on ceiling fans and wall clocks donated by them to religious places. But here is Dr Aujla who prefers anonymity in this regard”, says Mr Rajinder Gill, a teacher in the Music Department of the university, who had approached Dr Aujla at the behest of Vice-Chancellor S.S. Boparai for financial help to the university.

With the money donated by Mr Aujla, the imposing building of Kala Bhavan, that was lying incomplete, has been completed. In fact, Dr Aujla has great love for Punjab’s art and culture. For this purpose he has set up the Punjab Heritage Foundation at Pasadena, a city of South-Western California. “Mr Aujla had given an offer to Mr Boparai that whatever amount would be required to complete the bhavan he would provide it. He gave $ 2,00,000.” His only condition was that the bhavan would only be used to preserve the art and culture of Punjab, says Mr Rajinder Gill, himself a famed gazal singer and regular visitor to the USA when he holds classical music shows.

“I have no words to explain the gesture of Dr Aujla. He is really a large hearted man. He gives inspiration to those people who wish to do something for society but fail to do because of lack of motivation.” says Mr Boparai.

“After a lot of cajoling, we have made Mr Aujla agree to name one wing of the Kala Bhavan in the name of his wife, Mrs Charlotte.” Kala Bhavan will become a repository of Gurmat sangeet, Punjabi folk music and other classical forms of music that are disappearing with the arrival of rap and jazz,” says Mr Boparai. “We are trying to record all Punjabi folk traditions to preserve these for posterity, and the bhavan would be preserving this rare treasurer,” he adds.

Dr Aujla has endless love for Patiala. He was the student of the first batch of Medical College, Patiala, and passed out from there in 1958. After immigrating to the USA, he and his other collegemates — Dr Shivdev Singh Sidhu and Dr Varinder Singh — joined hands to do something for the motherland that provided them opportunity to earn money in their adopted country.


Accounts of 200 provident fund defaulters attached
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 1
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has attached bank accounts of more than 200 defaulting business firms and companies.

The EPFO has also started seizing the property of the owners of the defaulting companies and today it seized a bus belonging to the Sewak Bus Service and Transport Company, Moga, after its owner failed to make contribution of Rs 12.29 lakh into its Employees Provident Fund.

Mr P R Mitra, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, when contacted, said there were about 600 companies, which had defaulted the payment to the tune of Rs 2 crore on the account of non-payment of their share in the EPF head.

He said a campaign had been launched against those companies and in this current financial year a recovery to the tune of Rs 50 lakh had been made. He said last year some arrests of the defaulter were made but this year no arrest has been made so far.

Mr Mitra said the owners of various companies and business establishment had not been making their contribution into the EPF of their employees as either their units had gone sick or they were not aware of this system. In most cases, it was found that the companies had been closed down and owners were not traceable.

He said strict action would be taken against the defaulters to ensure that the employees get those benefits as per law.


Govt notifies names of Wakf Board members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Punjab Government has notified the names of six Wakf Board members, including Malerkotla MLA Razia Sultana, state’s Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Mohammad Izhar Alam and Dr Nashir Naqvi of Punjabi University at Patiala.

The other members include Abdul Wahid also of Patiala, Khalifa Syed Mohammad Yahya Mojeddadi of Roza Sharief, Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district, and Fuzailur Rahman Hilal Usmani of Malerkotla. The board, with their nomination, has become fully functional.

The board looks after the affairs of properties belonging to the Muslim community, besides places of worship in the state. The income generated is used for welfare of the Muslims, including children and widows. Scholarships are granted and health care facilities are provided.

The board — common till last year for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, besides Chandigarh — was established by the Punjab Governor in compliance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders pronounced on September 8, along with the Supreme Court orders in a Special Leave Petition.


He cycles to fulfil dreams
Neeraj Bagga

Rogers, an Englishman who is on a world tour, enters India through Wagah checkpost
Rogers, an Englishman who is on a world tour, enters India through Wagah checkpost. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Wagah (Amritsar), December 1
Rogers (40), an Englishman who is on a world tour on a bicycle, entered India yesterday after crossing over the joint checkpost here from Pakistan.

India is the twentythird country he is visting. He started his journey from Panama, central America, and had covered three continents — America, Europe and Asia. His journey will conclude in Yokohama, Japan.

Visibily beaming, Roger told this correspondent that “I do not know how many miles I will cover but so far I have travelled 26,000 km”.

Working as a social worker in an NGO, he said it was his second visit to India. He has the experience of working as a social worker in various countries. He had also worked at Arvind Eye Hospital, Madurai.

Rogers hails from Manchester, England. He dreams of breaking the record of another Englishman, Thomas Stevens, who also went around the world on a bicycle. He said Stevens took three years to complete his journey.

Besides this, he had two more reasons to start the journey. Firstly, he began his voyage on attaining the age of 40 to spread the message that increasing age was no hindrance to fulfil one’s dreams. “I feel young by 20 years”, he quipped.

Thirdly, he wanted to promote the use of bicycle. He said increasing global warming and emission of hazardous gases from automobiles were a great threat to our planet and humanity.


Punsup employees demand HRA
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 1
The Punsup Employees Union, Punjab, has threatened to launch an agitation if the authorities concerned failed to make arrangements for the payment of full house rent allowance (HRA) and conveyance allowance to them.

Mr Daljit Singh, vice-president of the union, Bathinda unit, in a press note issued here today said that the Punjab Government had brought down the HRA from 15 to 7.5 per cent of basic pay for the employees of Punsup. Apart from it, the Punjab Government had also stopped the payment of conveyance allowance to them.

He said that such allowances were also stopped by other state government-led corporations but the payment of the same was started again to the employees of the corporations.

He said that the Punsup authorities should take personal interest in this matter to solve the same, otherwise the union would be forced to launch an agitation.


Hospital staff call off strike
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 1
Doctors, paramedical staff, nurses and Class IV employees here today called off strike on the request of Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab. The protest had started following an assault on Dr Bhupinder Singh, Medical Officer in the OPD of the local Civil Hospital, by seven undertrails yesterday.

Mr Dogra condemned the assault and hooliganism which took place in the presence of policemen. He said he would make efforts for setting up a permanent police post at the hospital. He assured strict action against the police personnel concerned.

Earlier, Dr M. L. Puri, president, PCMS Welfare Association, Punjab, Dr Ajay Bagga, press secretary of the PCMS Association, Punjab, while addressing the rally explained the plight of staff of the Civil Hospital.


Tributes paid to Hans Raj Sharma

Chandigarh, December 1
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and members of the Punjab Council of Minister as well as Congress Legislature Party, joined Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief S. Hanspal in paying rich tributes to former PPCC chief and ex-Finance Minister of state, Mr Hans Raj Sharma, who died here last night after a prolonged illness.

Mr Sharma was cremated at the Sector 25 cremation ground this afternoon where a large number of leaders of various political parties, several bureaucratsjoined the funeral procession. — TNS


Army organises rural mela at border village
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, December 1
In order to establish direct rapport with the people living along the Indo-Pak border, the Army organised a rural mela at Balala Ke Hassal village, 8 km from here, yesterday.

People from about 17 villages participated in the mela. Besides skill games and eatables stalls, a medical check-up camp was also organised on the occasion. As many as 400 patients were examined by a team of Army doctors.

The doctors made special stress to educate the villagers about AIDS.

Punjabi singers enthralled the audience and a community kitchen was organised.

A kabaddi tournament was organised in which five teams of nearby villages participated.

Brig D.S.C. Verma of the Indian Army, gave away prizes to the winners.


Chohan hails J.J. Singh’s appointment
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 1
The Khalsa Raj Party, headed by Khalistani ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan, has hailed the appointment of Lt-Gen J. J. Singh as the Army chief, and has said that it is for the first time that justice has been done to a Sikh General.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Dr Chohan and Mr Baldev Singh, general secretary of the party, said justice had finally been done to a Sikh Army officer.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s appointment as Prime Minister and that of Lt-Gen J.J Singh as the Army chief will enhance the prestige of Sikhs the world over,” said Dr Chohan.


Contempt proceedings: Chahal given more time to appear
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today agreed to the request of Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, for adjourning contempt of court proceedings against him on medical grounds.

However, the court ordered him to be present in the court on the next date of hearing, December 15. In the jam-packed courtroom, Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy also raised a lot of questions regarding Mr Chahal’s condition.

Mr Chahal was scheduled to appear before the court to explain his conduct during hearing of the petitions challenging the selections of the kin of some high and mighty as DSPs by the Punjab Government.

However, since Monday evening, Mr Chahal has been admitted in a Patiala hospital for treatment. He had complained of pain in the chest, following which he was shifted to the hospital.

Just as the hearing began today, counsel for Mr Chahal prayed that in view of his client’s condition, the hearing should be adjourned for two weeks, which the court accepted.

Criminal contempt proceedings were ordered to be initiated against him for his controversial role during the hearings of the now-decided case pertaining to selection of DSPs.

On October 15, the Full Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla and Mr Justice Surya Kant had ordered Mr Chahal to explain his conduct in the case.

During hearing, the Bench had taken strong exception to the alleged attempt of some persons, including Mr Chahal, for interference in the proceedings of the bunch of petitions challenging irregularities in the selection of DSPs.

Apart from the fact that his son was one of those selected, Mr Chahal’s name was also mentioned during the controversy over the missing file of the Punjab Sports Department, which had been summoned by the court.


Inside Babudom
Govt decides to remove nine PPS officers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
It’s final. The Punjab Government has decided to remove nine PPS officers occupying the post of Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs). The authorities have also resolved to remove another PPS officer occupying a Commandant’s post. The orders are likely to be issued this week.

The sources in the government reveal that the decision was taken after notices were issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a petition filed under the Contempt of Courts Act by an IPS officer, Neelabh Kishore.

The notices were issued to Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill, Director-General of Police A.A. Siddiqui and Principal Secretary (Home) Sanjit Kumar Sinha.

Alleging deliberate and willful disobedience of High Court orders issued on August 9, the officer had asserted that the government had failed to implement the directions even though stay had not been granted by the Supreme Court.

Appearing before the court, Mr Kishore’s counsel had added that nine non-cadre PPS officers were still posted as district police chiefs, while another PPS officer was Commandant of Punjab Armed Police’s 82nd Battalion. The petition will come up for hearing before the High Court on December 13

PPS officers currently posted on cadre posts include Mr M.S. Chinna, (SSP, Moga), Mr Harmanbir Singh, (SP, City-II, Amritsar), Mr Gurpeeet Singh Bhullar (SSP, Jalandhar), Mr Kulshinder Singh (SSP, Faridkot), Mr G.S. Dhillon (SSP, Sangrur), Mr Gurkirpal Singh (SSP, Tarn Taran), Mr RPS Bajwa (SSP, Majitha), Narinder Bhargav (SSP, Gurdaspur), Mr Ranbir Singh Khatra (SSP, Muktsar) and Mr Shiv Kumar (SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib).

The High Court, in its order, had directed the government to remove all non-cadre officers from cadre posts and submit compliance report in this matter. The Judges had also ordered that postings on cadre posts should be made only as per the IPS Cadre Rules, 1954.

Meanwhile, the sources in the Punjab Home Department insist that the posting of PPS officers on cadre posts had resulted in friction between them and the IPS officers.

The IPS officers were all along claiming that their posting opportunities were being limited due to “manipulations” by non-IPS officers. They were also claiming that PPS officers were being posted on cadre posts in violation of the rules. They were further contending that regular IPS recruits, in turn, were being relegated to non-cadre posts in the rank of Superintendents of Police (SPs).

The PPS officers, on the other hand, were contending that they were being deprived of their due. Some of the officers were claiming that their contribution in combating terrorism were being ignored.


Carrying of arms banned in Chamkaur Sahib
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 1
In order to prevent any untoward incident during the three-day samagam at Chamkaur Sahib to commemorate 300 years of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas, the district administration today banned carrying of arms, and entry of private security guards till December 31 in Chamkaur Sahib.

The order issued by the District Magistrate, Ms Seema Jain, states that keeping in view the samagam from December 19 to 21, the administration imposed the ban to maintain the law and order situation.

Besides it, the administration also banned parking of vehicles on both sides of all the link roads to Chamkaur Sahib during the samagam.


Man kills son; arrested
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 1
A man, who had killed his wife about a year and half back, killed his son at Khosa Pando village, near here, today.

Sources said that the accused, Shamsher Singh, was an ex-panchayat member of the village. According to sources, Shamsher Singh spread the word in the village today morning that last night six armed men barged into his house and killed his son, Gurjeet Singh, alias Golu.

The police swung into action and arrested some persons named by him. When the police didn’t find any clue from those arrested they interrogated Shamsher who spilled the beans and confessed to killing his son.

Sources said that Shamsher had adopted similar strategy to mislead the police when he had killed his wife. He had named some persons in the murder case.

However, the police found them innocent during investigation.

Sources said that due to the intervention of some panchayat members and sympathetic attitude of his in-laws no complaint was lodged against him and he escaped the jail term.

The motive behind Golu’s murder was yet to be ascertained.

Unconfirmed reports said that a case had been registered against Shamsher and he had been arrested. However, the police was yet to confirm his arrest.


Rs 10 lakh looted, 1 held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 1
The police here has solved a dacoity case of Rs 10 lakh within an hour. The robbery took place at a sugar mill at Mukerian last night.

Mr M.F. Farooqui, SSP Nawanshahr, having the additional charge of Hoshiarpur district, also told mediapersons here today that at 2.15 a.m., five persons came in a Santro car and parked it near the gate of the sugar mill. They then entered the mill premises and went to the cashier. At gun point they looted Rs 10 lakh and fled under the cover of darkness. One of them got left behind. The cashier raised an alarm and sugar mill authorities informed the police.

The SSP said the SP(D) and SP(H), Hoshiarpur, alongwith DSP Mukerian and an Inspector of the CIA reached the spot. After an insensive search one of the accused, who was later identified as Dharminder Singh of Tilak Nagar, New Delhi, was arrested and Rs 80,000/- recovered from him. A .9 mm pistol along with five cartridges were also recovered.

The SSP further said the car used in committing the crime was found near Wonderland Hotel, about 2 km from the Mill. He said after interrogation of Dharminder, the remaining accused, who were still at large, had been identified as Kuldip, a travel agent of New Delhi, Gaga, Sonu and Raju lotterywala of Mukerian. An FIR under Sections 395, 397 IPC and 25, 54, 59 of Arms Act has been registered. It is being suspected that an employee of the mill may be involved in the dacoity.

The owner of the car had been identified as Art & Craft International, JD, 2 D, Pritampura, Delhi.


Truckers clash, SHO shifted for incompetency
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 1
Following a clash between two groups of truck operators in the local truck union yesterday, Mr Gurmail Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), city police station, was shifted to the police lines as he failed to control the situation or reach the spot in time.

A case was registered against Resham Singh, former president of the local truck union and 15 others for their alleged involvement in making an attack on some truck operators, including newly elected president Sunil Sihag and damaging his car and other vehicles.

Mr Hargobind Singh, DSP, Malout, who reached the spot and brought the situation under control, when contacted, said a case was registered against Resham Singh and his associates under Sections 307,379, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC in the city police station. He added that all accused had run away and hence no arrest could be made so far.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that when the accused entered into the union premises and started indulging in violence, Sihag informed the city police station about the same. But no one reached the spot or took any action to prevent the situation. When the city police station failed to act in the situation, policemen posted in other police stations of this sub-division came to the rescue.

The reason of the clash, according to Resham Singh that since Sihag was an outsider and hence he was not acceptable as president to the operators. However, Sihag claimed that out of the total 700 operator, more than 500 operators were in his side.

Mr Hargobind Singh, DSP, said all measures had been taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and for the truck union to work without any hindrance.


2 brothers held for abetting suicide

Pathankot, December 1
A man and his brother have been arrested by the local police for allegedly forcing the former’s wife Sandhla Devi, a local resident, to commit suicide.

The police said today that Vinod Kumar, a local resident, alleged that his sister, Sandhla Devi, got married to Manohar Lal, a local resident, about 12 years ago.

He said her husband and brother-in-law Om Parkash had been beating her up under the influence of liquor.

On June 1, 2003, the victim complained the matter to the police and a compromise was worked out between the parties in which Manohar Lal, husband of the victim, submitted a written apology and promised not to consume liquor in future.

On November 28, the victim was again beaten up by the duo following which she consumed a poisonous substance and died at the local Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC. — OC


Held for smuggling charas
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 1
The police has arrested a charas smuggler, Sawaran Kumar, alias Bittu, a resident of Sawan Chak, (J&K) and seized 1 kg charas from his possession. He was nabbed at Madhopur near here.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, said in a press note that a naka was set up at Madhopur, opposite the PSEB rest house, for checking bad elements. Bittu, who was coming from Lakhanpur side on foot, tried to run away on seeing the police. However, the police nabbed him. He was booked under Section 20/61/85 of the NDPS Act.

On preliminary interrogation, the accused said he had purchased charas from one Monu, who is also a resident of Sawan Chak, and had come to this area to sell it. 


One kg charas seized
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 1
The Gurdaspur police has arrested Swaran Kumar, resident of Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, on the charge of smuggling narcotics. About 1 kg charas was also seized from the accused.

In a press release issued here yesterday the police, said Swaran Kumar was coming on foot near Madopur-Pathankot road. Seeing a police party on a naka he tried to give them the slip. The suspicious policemen nabbed him.

On checking about 1 kg charas was recovered from him. Later, on interrogation the accused told the police that he had purchased the charas from Monu, a resident of Kathua.


Children of 11 schools take part in Virasat — 2004
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 1
Inter-school shabad gayan, essay reading and turban-tying competition, Virasat — 2004, was organised at Government Model Senior Secondary School here today.

The function was inaugurated by Mr Harbans Singh Khandola, and SGPC member and jointly organised by the local Lions Club (Umang) and the Sikh Cultural Welfare Society, here.

Students from 11 schools took part in the shabad gayan competition. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works and Cultural Affairs, who was to be the chief guest, could not attend the function. He, however, sent a letter through the vice-president of the society, Mr Darshan Singh, announcing a grant of Rs 21,000 from his discretionary funds.

A souvenir, Virasat — 2004, dedicated to the three Sikh centenaries falling this year, was also released on the occasion.

The following are the results of the competition: Shabad gayan: Sharandeep Singh and group I (Khalsa Senior Secondary School); Manpreet Kaur and group II (Government Model Senior Secondary School); Harpreet Singh and group III (Little Blossoms School).

Essay reading: Jasvir Kaur I (Henderson Girls High School); Gaganjot Kaur II (Henderson Jubilee Senior Secondary School); Sandeep Singh III (Sacred Dales International School).

Turban tying (seniors): Harmajeet Singh I (Henderson Jubilee Senior Secondary School); Roopinder Singh II (Government Model Senior Secondary School); Amandeep Singh III (Khalsa Senior Secondary School).


Students beat up bus conductor
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 1
A group of students from the local Industrial Training Institute (ITI) today beat up a private bus conductor and a commuter, injuring them, besides damaging the bus.

According to sources, a bus, belonging to Dhaliwal Bus Service, was on its way from Daudhar to Moga when two ITI students boarded the bus from Daudhar. Later, three more ITI students from Takhanwadh and six from Dala village joined them.

The bus conductor, Preetpal Singh, asked them to pay for their tickets, but they said that they were ITI students. The conductor then asked them to show him their I-cards. The students said that they had no I-card right now, following which they had an altercation.

The ITI students called up some of their friends and when the bus reached Bughipura Chowk, about 60 ITI students were awaiting it. When the bus stopped, the students pulled the bus conductor out and thrashed him, besides snatching his mobile phone and a gold chain.

A commuter from Bathinda, Baljit Singh, was also beaten up when he tried to save the conductor. The students reportedly looted Rs 4,000 from him. They also broke the glasses of the bus before leaving. Both the injured have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


JE interview letters dispatched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The staff selection committee has dispatched interview letters to qualified candidates seeking recruitment as Junior Engineers (Civil). The interviews are scheduled to be held for two days from December 13.

The Punjab Government has also issued admit cards to eligible candidates for computer teachers. The tests are scheduled to be held on December 5 at Amritsar, Bathinda, Chandigarh, Ferozepore, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.

According to a press release, the candidates for Junior Engineer’s post can contact the regional office of the staff selection commission at Kendriya Sadan in Sector 9 in case they do not receive the interview letters by December 8. The duplicate letters will be issued on December 9 and the next day during working hours.

Another release add that candidates who have not received the admit cards for computer teacher’s post can contact the nodal centre, along with two passport size photographs, on December 4 between 10 am and 1 pm.

The nodal centres are at Amritsar cantonment, Kendriya Vidyalaya in Bathinda, GGDSD College in Chandigarh, Kendriya Vidyalayas in Jalandhar cantonment and Ferozepore cantonment, besides Kundan Vidya Mandir in Ludhiana.


360 students get degrees

Tarn Taran, December 1
As many as 360 students of the local Mata Ganga Girls College were conferred graduation degrees at a function here today.

Dr Rattan Singh, MP, presided over the function and Mr Harmeet Singh Sandhu, local MLA, was the guest of honour in the function. Mrs Kuljit Kaur, principal, gave away degrees to the students. — OC


Saini secures sixth position in varsity
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 1
Harvinder Singh Saini, a student of Electronics and Communication at G.G.S. College of Modern Technology, has been placed in the merit list in the second semester examinations conducted by Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar.

According to Mr Kulwant Singh, officiating Principal, Harvinder Singh Saini secured sixth position in the university.


Massive increase in revenue from cattle fairs’ auction
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 1
The Punjab government has, for the first time in the past 30 years, auctioned cattle fairs organised across the state through the year. The first set of auctions that were held today and yesterday in two districts of the state have earned over Rs 3 crore for the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats. This is three times of the annual income of the department through cattle fairs from these districts.

During the first auction held in Muktsar yesterday, cattle fairs to be organised in the district in the coming year were successfully bid for Rs 1.6 crore while today, the cattle fairs to be organised in Bathinda in the coming year were auctioned for Rs 1.1 crore. The department’s total earning from the cattle fairs held in Muktsar last year was about Rs 47 lakh, and from Bathinda it was a little more than Rs 39 lakh. This amounts to an increase in revenue of over 250 per cent by the department for this year.

When contacted the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Sarvjit Singh, said over the next few days cattle fairs in other districts would also be auctioned. The Punjab government organises over 770 cattle fairs in the state through the year in the 67 cattle fair grounds. Cattle fairs are organised according to a fixed annual calender in all districts of Punjab, except Jalandhar, Nawanshahar and Hoshiarpur. The government earns a certain percentage on every transaction that takes place at these fairs.

However, sources added a large amount of leakage of revenue was reportedly taking place during the fairs. While the government asked for only 4 per cent of the total money involved in each transaction, in many cases transactions were either not shown or done later when the fair ended.

“The cattle fairs in Punjab are rather popular and farmers and dairy owners from not just within the state but other states, too, come to these fairs to buy and sell cattle. We decided to auction these on an experimental basis but now since the response to these auctions is positive, we can continue with the practice in the coming year. The auctions have in fact brought in revenue beyond the expectation of the department’s officers”, he pointed out.

Sources stated that in the past, the department had received a large number of complaints of corruption by lower level officials during the fairs. The sharp increase in revenue through auctions was also a pointer towards the extent of corruption and amount of revenue leakage that could have been taking place.

The fairs have been auctioned for a period of 15 months and the successful bidder is expected to pay the department in equal instalments each month.


FCI’s policy on rice irks millers
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, December 1
The Punjab Rice Millers Association has criticised the Food Corporation of India (FCI)’s move not to accept raw rice from parboiled rice millers.

Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the association, in a statement issued here, said if the FCI wanted to encourage the procurement of parboiled rice then it should have restored the previous parboiled rate which was reduced by Rs 15 per quintals while conveying the Levy rice policy of crop year 2003-04.

Mr Saini stated that the process of manufacturing parboiled rice was much costlier than raw rice but the ministry reduced the price of parboiled rice than raw rice.

He added that the price of parboiled was reduced apparently to discourage its procurement as at that time the boiled rice stock was in abundance with the FCI and there was no taker of it either in the domestic market or in the international market.

But he disclosed that now the scenario had completely changed as the FCI had no spare parboiled rice in its godowns and at the present rate of acceptance it would be difficult for the corporation to meet its domestic demand.

He said it was a prerogative of the rice millers whether to deliver raw rice or parboiled rice in the central pool. He declared that the association would oppose any such move.

When contacted Mr Manmohan Sarang, District Manager of the FCI, Ferozepur, said in order to check the practice of recycling of old stock, Managing Director of the FCI had issued certain direction, including not to accept raw rice from parboiled millers or vice versa.

But he added that he would seek fresh direction from the appropriate authorities regarding the acceptance of new stock of raw rice from parboiled rice millers.

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