P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CMs of two Punjabs get honorary degree
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
The Chief Minister, West Punjab, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his Indian counterpart Amarinder Singh received Doctor of Literature (D. Litt.) Honoris Causa degrees at a special convocation held at Guru Nanak Dev University’s Dasmesh auditorium here today.

The degrees were conferred upon them in recognition of their contribution in social and political fields, strengthening bonds of Indo-Pak friendship and unflinching commitment to principled politics.

Earlier, a rousing welcome was accorded to Chaudhry Elahi, his family and others as they were showered with rose petals after they alighted at Rajasansi Airport. Colourful buntings, flags, gates were erected and roundabouts decorated on the occasion.

The Pakistani Chief Minister said he had stepped on this land of five rivers, especially in the historic and holy city of Amritsar, with the hope that more sincere and dedicated efforts would be made to create congenial atmosphere between the two countries. He said in East Punjab research work on Punjabi and Gurmukhi had been done while West Punjab was lagging behind. Recently, he said his government had established Punjab Institute of Languages and an Act to this effect had already been passed by their parliament. Under the project, he said exchange programme of research scholars and students could be initiated between the universities, of both Punjabs.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state governments had undertaken a project to develop the software for the conversion of Shahmukhi script in to Gurmukhi and vice-versa. It would facilitate the writers to comprehend Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi in a better manner.

General Rodrigues (retd), Governor of Punjab, said both East and West Punjabs shared a common history, heritage and culture. There exist emotional bonds which neither time nor events of the past have been able to dilute. People want and deserve peace so that our more pressing problems of poverty and underdevelopment could be addressed. Punjabis, in general and their Chief Ministers, in particular, deserve credit for the initiative, he added.


Free flow of goods between two Punjabs stressed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
The ‘two Punjabs’ today talked about patenting Basmati rice, allowing flow of commodities, human beings and capital, besides free flow of knowledge and technology.

Speakers said there were enormous possibility for undertaking joint research and development projects, including in the water management field in which Pakistan had much expertise. Economists also called for a joint strategy on crop diversification and conservation of soil texture and ground water resources.

“There are possibilities of getting patents on the basis of geographical locations on the pattern of French wines and spirits,” said Dr Suchha Singh Gill, of Punjabi University, who introduced the theme of panel discussion on ‘Economic cooperation between two Punjabs’.

“We can connect ourselves with trucks,” said Prof Ehsan Malik, Director of the Institute of Business Administration and controller of examinations, Punjab University, Lahore.

Professor G.K. Chadha, Vice-Chancellor, JNU, New Delhi, stressed on promoting joint research. Dr H.S.Mehta from the Department of English, Khalsa College, Chandigarh, said privatisation was dual-edged weapon. It was both a solution and a problem in itself. He said the cultural market of both Punjabs should be integrated.


Elahi and Capt lay stone of Mir Bhavan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
Choudhry Parvaiz Elahi, Chief Minister, West Punjab (Pakistan), and Capt Amarinder Singh today laid the foundation stone of Sai Mian Mir Bhavan at Guru Nanak Dev University here.

The bhavan to be built at a cost of Rs 50 lakh will have rooms for teaching and research on Sikh Gurus and sufi saints. There will also be a provision for a museum depicting Sikh architecture and cultural heritage.

Earlier, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GNDU and other senior faculty members and officers extended a warm welcome to Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Governor and the two Chief Ministers on the occasion.


Not invited to Punjabi conference, says Badal
To meet Elahi to discuss some issues
Tribune News Service

SAD President Parkash Singh Badal addresses party workers during a dharna at Bathinda on Thursday.
SAD President Parkash Singh Badal addresses party workers during a dharna at Bathinda on Thursday. — Photo by Sonu

Bathinda, December 2
Former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said he would not attend the World Punjabi Conference being held at Patiala as he was not invited to it by the organisers.

However, he would try to meet Mr Parvaiz Elahi, Chief Minister, Punjab (Pakistan), to discuss issues pertaining to the Sikh Panth and both Punjabs, he said.

Mr Badal, who was here to preside over a dharna staged by his party workers to lodge a protest against the “anti-people” policies of the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh, said he had been invited to attend the first Indo-Pak Punjab-2004 Games. He would use the opportunity to discuss these issues with Mr Elahi.

Asked why he had not been invited to the World Punjabi Conference, he said this question should be posed to the organisers. Mr Badal was accompanied by his brother, Mr Gurdas Badal. A number of MLAs and former ministers participated in the dharna staged in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

To another question, Mr Badal said the SAD would support all those organisations which had been fighting for the cause of farmers. He said the SAD was demanding that prices of foodgrains be linked with the wholesale price index.

Addressing the dharna, he said on the one hand cotton growers had been denied fair prices for their produce by the authorities as government agencies had kept themselves away from the purchase process, and on the other, the farmers had been facing acute shortage of DAP required for sowing the wheat crop.

He alleged that the Chief Minister had failed to contact the CCI or Markfed for the purchase of raw cotton to ensure better prices to the growers.

Later, in a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, the SAD leadership demanded that government agencies be asked to enter the market for purchasing cotton so that the “loot” of growers was stopped.

They demanded that the government should make arrangements to overcome the shortage of DAP so that farmers did not suffer on account of delayed sowing of wheat.

The SAD leaders demanded slash in the prices of LPG and diesel, bonus on the paddy crop announced three years ago and halt to process of privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

They demanded the state government should provide employment to deserving candidates and make arrangements for a high-level probe into incidents pertaining to auction of liquor vends and recruitment of DSPs.

They demanded that electricity charges for agriculture should be waived and those getting pension during the previous SAD-BJP combine government be given the same facility again. They also said that effective steps be taken to complete the Punjab Oil Refinery project.


‘Jee Aayan Nu’ by model village
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
“Jee Aayan Nu”, said the banner erected on way to a tented enclosure where delegates of the World Punjabi Conference interacted and danced their way into the hearts of residents of Jalalpur village near here.

The same sentiment prevailed at the traditional ‘parandi’ and ‘jutti’ bazaars of the city.

“I did not know what I would do in the village they were taking us to”. However, once there, I felt no reservations. Punjabis being Punjabis welcomed us with open arms, garlanding us, offering us food and drinks” said Zahoor Ahmed Dhareja. The evening ended with a round of bhangra and giddha.

Tariq Aziz, who used to compere “Nilamghar” for the Pakistan TV, had this to say: “Mainu lagda hai badi der pichhon mahkhana di kundi khol diti hai” (The door to the bar has been opened).

“I find no difference. You have a Jalalpur, we have a Jalalpur Jattan”, he said, adding the delegation had come to sow the seeds of love from across the border.

The guests were apparently surprised at the level of progress of the village. Tariq Aziz said in his country too an attempt was being made to improve the state of villages.

Pakistan Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi had done a lot of work on social housing and creating infrastructure in rural areas, he said.

Neelma Naheer Durrani, who works as Senior Superintendent of Police in Lahore, said she had never seen such a progressive village with streetlights and a sewer system.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) Jagwant Singh Brar said no fixed programme had been made so that the Pak guests could interact and intermingle with the locals.

This was apparent when Pak delegates were seen exchanging notes on the rate of fertilisers and pesticides with the village folk, besides asking them about their major problems.

Zila Parishad Vice-Chairman Madan Lal Thekadar, who belongs to Jalalpur, said the village was agog with excitement at the visit. “Our village was chosen because it has been designated a model village due to the large number of development works and infrastructure, including a stadium in the village.

Ms Parveen Malik, a short story writer in the Pak delegation, said it felt as if she was on a family visit.

Some members of the Pak delegation visited the traditional bazaars in the city. While some said they had come to have a feel of the old city and were charmed at being able to shop alongside the facade of Quila Mubarak, others bought ‘parandis’, ‘juttis’ and ‘baghs’ of phulkari, besides embroidered suits.

The shopkeepers vied with one another in giving attention to the shoppers from across the border and offered liberal discounts to them.


Takht Patna Sahib bans book
Declares Giani Gurdit Singh ‘tankhaiya’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
In an unprecedented move, the Sikh clergy of Takht Patna Sahib today declared Giani Gurdit Singh, a close associate of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, as ‘tankhaiya’ for the book ‘Mundawani’. They also imposed a ban on the book.

The development is likely to plunge the Sikh Panth into a crisis once again. This is, perhaps, for the first time that any Takht has directed the Jathedar of Akal Takht to clarify his stand.

Earlier, Takht Patna Sahib had asked Giani Gurdit Singh and Jathedar Vedanti to appear at Takht Patna Sahib to clarify on the contents of “Mundawani”.

The issue of Giani Gurdit Singh is being taken up at the next meeting of Sikh clerics at Akal Takht.

The ‘hukamnama’ (directive) was signed by all five Sikh priests of Takht Patna Sahib, including Jathedar Iqbal Singh.

On the other hand, Jathedar Vedanti has summoned a meeting of the Sikh clergy at the Akal Takht to recommend action against Jathedar Iqbal Singh.

Jathedar Vedanti had taken the initiative to bury the hatchet with the jathedars of Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib and made them sign a common statement that the Akal Takht, being the supreme Takht, would take up panthic issues while the rest of the Takhts would decide on regional issues.


Chamkaur Sahib to get subdivisional status
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
Chamkaur Sahib will be given the sub-divisional status soon, assured the president of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr H.S Hanspal, today while addressing a gathering of congress workers here.

Replying to the demand for the sub-divisional status for Chamkaur Sahib raised by the Parliament Secretary (Industry, Commerce and Transport), Mr K.P.S Rana, and the Congress district president Amarjit Singh Saini, Mr Hanspal said he would discuss the matter with Capt Amarinder Singh, and hopefully the demand would be accepted before the three-days samagam to held in December at Chamkaur Sahib.

He appealed to the congress workers, who gathered here from all over the district, to overcome the differences and participate in full strength at Chamkaur Sahib during the Samagam.

Mr Hanspal said: “the Congress won the Assembly elections in Garshankar and Kapurthala seats as we were united on the other hand the Congress had suffered defeat in parliamentary elections as we were divided. Therefore it is the moral responsibility of the Congress workers to prove their majority during the samagam”.

He said the state Congress had sent invitation to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, all Akali and BJP leaders to attend the samagam.

He denied that the recent visit of former CM Parkash Singh Badal to the house of PWD Minister had any political significance. He said it was a personal visit and could not be seen as any political development.

He also announced an amount Rs 1 lakh grant to complete the construction of the Congress Bhavan in the district.


SAD (A) changes route of Sikhi Sidak March
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has forged ahead in appreciating and recognising the contribution of Dewan Todar Mal in buying a piece of land for the cremation of two Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, by covering it with gold coins and later getting a part of their ashes preserved near his village, Kakra, where Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Aloarakh, was constructed afterwards.

As a mark of recognition, the party has decided to change the route of Sikhi Sidak March scheduled to commence from Gurdwara Damdama Sahib on December 23. The march will now reach Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Aloarakh, before it concludes at Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup, Fatehgarh Sahib, on December 25.

Former MP and SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann said it was unfortunate that on the occasion of tercentenary of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas, some “so-called panthic leaders” did not grant recognition to the place of utmost historical importance for the Sikhs.

“The onus of establishing the truth regarding the genuineness of the claims made by the sangat of the area was on SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, who, unfortunately has little knowledge of Sikh history,” said Mr Mann.

He appreciated the role of The Tribune in highlighting the facts related with the religious place. He said his party would seek assistance from the Archaeological Department in corroborating the facts.

Coming down heavily on SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal for alleged mismanagement of religious affairs, he said the situation could have been better, had he appointed some Sikh scholar as the president of the SGPC instead of a dera head.

Reacting to statements issued by Mr Badal in connection with the announcement made by SAD (A) regarding the release of a list of ‘traitors’, he said, “Had Mr Badal been loyal to the Panth, he would not have bothered to react to the release of the list, which would be based on an analysis of a computerised record with the party”, he said.


Engg degree colleges on the verge of closure
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Most of the engineering degree colleges have started crumbling for want of students in Punjab. There are 40 engineering degree colleges and of these 36 are in the private sector. Up to 60 per cent seats are vacant in most of these colleges. In all there are 12,510 seats in degree colleges and of these 5,172 are vacant.

Not only in degree courses, seats in the premier courses such as MCA, MBA and B.Pharmacy course are also vacant. There are 1770 seats of the MCA and of these 1278 are vacant. Of the 2340 seats of MBA, 1243 seats are vacant. Of the 870 seats of B. Pharmacy course, 230 seats are vacant.

As far as diploma courses are concerned, of the 11,200 seats, 2000 seats are vacant in polytechnic colleges. With the dwindling number of students in such engineering colleges, it has become a big problem for their management to run these institutions. “ Most of these institutions are facing a big financial crisis. It has become difficult even to meet the expenditure incurred on the faculty”, said Dr J.S. Dhaliwal, Chairman of the Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association.

He said that the government should immediately stop setting up of new engineering colleges in the state. Dr Dhaliwal said that the government should not issue any no-objection certificate for the setting up of new engineering degree or diploma college. He said that the managements of the private colleges should be given due representations in the governing bodies of the Punjab Technical University and the State Board of Technical Education.


Farmers protest against leaders’ arrest
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 2
Members of the Kirti Kisan Union and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee today held a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office to protest against the arrest of their leaders.

Earlier the farmers held a rally through Gurdaspur town, raising slogans against the government. Later they sat on dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

While addressing the farmers, Mr Hardev Singh, state president of the Kirti Kisan Union, alleged that the Congress government in the state had gone back on the promises made to the farmers in its manifesto. Instead, it was trying to repress the farmers demonstrating peacefully for their demands.

The farmers across the state are protesting in a peaceful manner against the non-availability for DAP fertiliser or low cost of their produce. However, the state government had let loose reign of police terror against them.

Hundreds of leaders of the farmer unions have been put behind bars after registration of fabricated cases against them. In Gurdaspur, four leaders of farmers, including state secretary of the Kirti Kisan Union Satbir Singh, and three district-level leaders of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, have been booked by the police in fabricated cases and put behind bars.


Awardee ‘kavi’ struggles to eke out a living
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, December 2
To his customers, he is just another old man running the neighbourhood magazine “circulating library.” But for those who have an association with the Punjabi literary world, he holds an altogether different station. Perhaps, he occupies a pedestal that many others aspire for.

In fact, Shiv Nath will be among the select literary personalities who will be honoured tomorrow by the Punjab Government with the prestigious Shiromani Punjabi Kavi Award, 2001. The award consists of a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a shawl and a medal. The poet, in whose verse the less fortunate have held centrestage, will occupy the limelight himself for the first time in his life.

Shiv Nath struggles to eke out a livelihood for his family by distributing magazines in Chandigarh and Mohali. His son is unemployed and repairs scooters and motorcycles at his roadside makeshift workplace. His work suffers for days when the Municipal Corporation staff takes away his tool from his unauthorised workplace.

Says the 70-year-old writer, “I cycle 35-40 km every day to distribute magazines at the homes of my customers in Chandigarh and Mohali. Even though I am old, I have to do it in order to sustain my seven-member family.”

The poet lives with his son in a one- room accommodation located on the fourth floor of a housing board house in Phase X, Mohali. He sleeps in the kitchen and has to wait for the kitchen work to get over in the night to take rest. The agony of his life and the millions of other Indians, who live the same life, is reflected in his poem ‘Azadi’ in which he writes:

Eh sadkan ghar ne mere,/ Rukh mere likhan-kamre ne,/

Te mezan-kursian footpath,/Jithe beh ke parhdan haan,/Jaa koi geet gharhda haan.

(These roads are my adobe, the trees my study, the footpaths are tables and chairs to me, such is the environ where I read and create my songs.)

The poem turns into a satire in the later part when he writes:

Bahut khula hai mera desh, te han chorian sadkan;/jina te turde phide lok, eane kam karde ne te mera kam hi kea e?/jide lai sare tabar di azadi bhang kar devan?

(My country is vast and has broad roads, on which people move and work every day, my work is no match to theirs, so why I should disturb the Azadi (freedom) of my family?)

Born on November 1, 1935, in Sialkot, Pakistan, Shiv Nath migrated to India after Partition. The pangs of separation from his homeland are reflected in his writings. He has written nine books — four books of poem, two of short stories, two biographies and one book of the times and the memories with the doyen of Punjabi writer — the late Sujan Singh.

When asked how he took to writing, he says his father died when he was 12 years old. There was no one to take care of him and the life was miserable. “When somebody dies without leaving an heir, the government acquires his property, but when the parents of a young child die, no such willingness is shown to adopt the forlorn child. I have undergone this experience and it keeps haunting me till I hold a pen in my hand and put it down on paper.”

“I have no formal education. I learnt writing at the age of 25 when the urge to express became so strong that I was unable to resist it.”

Shiv Nath has lived through intense poverty and his works reflect his experience of pain and suffering. He even sold groundnuts and “garam chanas” (boiled grams) at the bus stand in Phagwara to make both ends meet. He also worked as a tailor in Bassi Pathana for 30 years.

Mr Santokh Singh Dhir, an eminent Punjabi writer, in a preface to the collection of poems titled Badtamez by Shiv Nath writes of the poet, “It is believed that the Ganga flowed under the stone on which Guru Ravidas worked. I believe that it is a metaphor to portray the wisdom of Ravidas. I see the same Ganga flowing through the prant (metal dish) of garam chanas that he sold at the bus stand, under his sewing machine and at present under the wheels of his cycle.”


1800 panchayats waiting for
promised development grant

Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 2
More than 1800 village panchayats across the state are waiting for the past one-and-a-half-year for the Punjab Government to fulfil its promise of releasing a grant of Rs 2 lakh each for development. These panchayats were chosen through consensus during the last panchayat elections following the government’s announcement that special incentives and a sum of Rs 2 lakh each would be paid to such villages.

Out of the total 12,000 villages in the state, more than 2100 villages had chosen their sarpanch and panchs without going through the election process. Candidates were chosen following a consensus among the villagers. The government had encouraged consensus election of panchayats by announcing monetary benefits and preferential treatment. However, after the elections were over, only 300 out of these 2100 villages were paid the Rs 2 lakh amount promised by the government.

According to the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Sarvjit Singh, a sum of Rs 6 crore had already been disbursed to such villages. “Two villages in every block of the state have been given Rs 2 lakh each. About 1800 villages still have to be paid. The government is committed to give these villages their due. They would be paid once we get the money from the government,”he said.

However, it seems that a wait of 18 months is now starting to pinch the panchayats in these villages. Sarpanchs have started raising the issue at various public functions embarrassing the MLAs who come to attend these. “We have been waiting patiently but now it seems the government is not going to fulfil our promise at all,” said Mr Harpal Singh, former sarpanch of Sialba Majri village in Morinda block. The village had chosen its panchayat unanimously. Sources added that the pending amount of Rs 36 crore is not too large for the government to be able to shell out immediately.

The government, however, is unable to give a timeframe within which it would fulfil its promise. “Since we cannot say anything at this stage when the money would be distributed, we have decided to give preference to these villages for the implementation of some of our development projects. For example, we are going to start a low cost sewerage project for Punjab villages shortly. The consensus villages would be the first ones where the project would be started,” said Mr Sarvjit Singh.


‘Trickster’ had tried his hands at politics
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar December 2
‘Trickster’ Subhash Bhagat, who has landed in the police net for allegedly selling fake certificates for Class XII, BDS, BAMS and D.Pharma, also had a taste for politics. He had contested Parliamentary elections as an Independent candidate against former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral in 1989, former Rajasthan Governor Darbara Singh in 1996 and Assembly elections against Punjab Revenue Minister Amarjit Singh Samra in 2002.

Subhash Bhagat, a resident of Bhargo Camp, who allegedly sold fake certificate and degrees under the garb of a career counsellor was arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the police. He allegedly sold these certificates for a price tag ranging between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh.

“He has an interest in politics, though it is a different thing that he could hardly get any votes,” said a police official.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Bhagat had sold around 20 fake Class XII certificates for each of which, he charged around Rs. 20,000. “For a BDS degree, he used to charge Rs 1.25 lakh and for a D.Pharma certificate the price charged by him was around Rs 50,000,” said Inspector Jagjit Singh, In charge of the Economic Offences Wing.

Davinder Pal Singh, a resident of Bhagike village in Moga district, and Sarwan Singh of Jalandhar, two “customers” of Bhagat have complained against the accused.

“He used to issue certificates and degrees of National Open School and Sanskrit University, Varanasi, with the help of a Delhi-based agent, who supplied him printed certificates after charging an amount ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 70,000,” said Inspector Jagjit Singh. 


Inspection of parks begins
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 2
All attempts to thwart the inspection of municipal parks have failed and the district administration has finally started the same in the wake of strong opposition from the municipal authorities. The Municipal Corporation authorities have been trying to delay the inspection of the municipal parks and when the inspection started, they allegedly tried to create obstacles. The inspection of municipal parks has been undertaken by the district administration on the directions of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission. The federation of parks management committees had complained to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission that the Municipal Corporation had backed out of the agreement arrived at with the park management committees for the maintenance of municipal parks.

Mr N.K. Arora, senior most member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, in his order on July 12, 2004 had indicted the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana.

The municipal corporation authorities tried to scuttle this order of the commission and the federation again approached the same.

The commission in its latest order on September 24, 2004 again directed the Deputy Commissioner to expedite the report and also asked the Municipal Corporation to cooperate with the Deputy Commissioner in finalising the report.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma has now deputed two SDMs namely Mrs Amrit Gill and Mr M.S. Jaggi to make physical inspection of all the parks in Ludhiana.

The two SDMs have started their work in the face of opposition from the Municipal Corporation.

Mr Anurag Verma said that they would go by the agreements made with the PMCs and the contractors.

Mr Pawan Sood, general secretary of the Federation of Park Management Committees in a letter to Deputy Commissioner has pointed out that the Municipal Corporation deployed large groups of workers in different parks and got all the wild growth removed before the visit of the survey teams.


Tool-down strike by PSEB staff
Tribune Reporters

Moga, December 2
The Technical Services Union today took out a protest rally against the proposed privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The local staff went on a tool-down strike from 9 am to 11 am. Union activists also burnt an effigy of the PSEB Chairman, Mr Y.S. Ratra, at Joginder Singh Chowk here.

Addressing the rally, the sub-division president of the union, Mr Shivinder Singh, condemned the statement of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, on unbundling of the PSEB and dividing it into six companies. He said if the government did not withdraw this decision, the PSEB employees would stage a dharna along with their families in Chandigarh on December 8 and 9.

ABOHAR: Employees of the PSEB observed a tool-down and pen-down strike for two hours today on a call given by the joint action committee of the Technical Services Union and other unions.

The employees came out of their offices in all the subdivisions here, staged a dharna and held a protest rally at the entrance of the respective subdivisional complexes. An effigy of the Chairman of the PSEB was burnt. Those who addressed the gathering included state secretary Gurdev Singh. The speakers urged the state government to withdraw the decision on converting the PSEB into regional corporations, stop compulsory retirement of the employees above 50 to 55 years, recruit new staff, dispense with the contract system of working.


Excise officers’ meeting on Dec 18
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The annual general meeting of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Officers Association, which was to be held at Jalandhar on December 4, has been postponed and will now be held on December 18 at the same venue, Mr Paramjit Singh, general secretary of the association, announced here today.

He said that the inability of the Excise and Taxation Officers of Patiala Division and two districts of Jalandhar necessitated the postponement. 


Two get life sentence for kidnapping minor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 2
In a case of kidnapping a minor for ransom, Mr Jaspal Singh Chugh, Additional Sessions Judge (Ad hoc), Fast Track Court, Sangrur, has awarded life imprisonment to two accused, Vijay Inder Saini and Mohammad Asif, both residents of Malerkotla.

Parteek Singh (16), son of Mr Pardeep Bhanot, a landlord from Malerkotla, was kidnapped from Malerkotla on August 7, 2003.

Accordingly, the convicts were imprisoned for life and fined Rs 1,000 each and in the default of payment would have to further undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for one month.

Both convicts were further sentenced to undergo RI for five years each and to pay a fine of Rs 500 each and in the default of the payment to further undergo RI for 15 days each under Section 386 of the IPC. Both convicts are further sentenced to undergo RI for three years each under Section 506 of the IPC.

As per the prosecution, Parteek Singh, a student of Plus two of DAV School, Malerkotla, went to Prof Sapra on August 7,2003 for studies, but when he was returning home at about 4.30 pm, he was kidnapped by two persons, aged between 24 years and 26 years, in a Maruti car.

Later, the father of the boy received a telephonic message from the kidnappers to pay Rs 15 lakh as ransom, failing which his kidnapped son, Parteek Singh, would be killed. The father of the kidnapped boy informed the police and a case was registered in this regard.

On August 13, 2003, the father of Parteek Singh informed the police regarding the payment of Rs 8 lakh to the kidnappers at Patiala. The kidnapped boy was released at Dhuri the same day.

Later, on the information provided by Parteek Singh, the police arrested the accused, Vijay Inder Saini and Mohammad Asif along with the Maruti car. During the search of the car, currency notes, worth Rs 7.83 lakh were recovered.


Acid thrown on girls
Our Correspondent

Batala, December 2
An unidentified person with muffled face today threw acid on a small group of girls, including Rajbir Kaur, Navneet and Shachi Khanna, of Batala near Khajuri Gate. However, all girls escaped with minor burns.

About two months ago, three such incidents were reported from the town. The chief of Batala police district, Mr Ram Singh, said he had deployed four police parties to arrest the culprit.


Dowry case registered
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 2
The police has booked the husband, mother-in-law and father-in-law of a resident of Rasanheri village, near here, for alleged harassment.

Ms Veena Rani had, in a complaint to the Ropar SSP, said that she had got married to Manish Kumar, a resident of Ludhiana, in 1996. She alleged that after the marriage, her in-laws began to harass her and demanded more dowry.

A case has been registered against Manish Kumar, Santosh Kumari, mother-in-law, and Dev Shankar, father-in-law, under Sections 406 and 498A of the IPC.

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