P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Jathedar Vedanti offers conditional resignation
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Takht Patna Sahib, has alleged that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, threatened to get him killed, whereas the latter has said the allegation is baseless and he would step down as Jathedar if the charge is proved .

While Jathedar Iqbal Singh told The Tribune that Jathedar Akal Takht had called him up “at least 10 times” and said he (Jathedar Patna Sahib) could be liquidated by the Sikh sangat if any action was taken against Giani Gurdit Singh , author of controversial book -Mundavni, Jathedar Vedanti described the allegations baseless. He alleged that he had to leave the religious function held at Ludhiana two days ago half way as Jathedar Vedanti wanted to gherao him.

The confrontation between the two Jathedars are likely to dominate the proceedings of a meeting of Sikh clergy, called by Akal Takht for tomorrow. Though Jathedar Vedanti personally talked to Jathedar Iqbal Singh to attend the meeting, the latter refused to oblige.

Jathedar Vedanti said he was shocked at the allegation. Jathedar Iqbal Singh should not stoop down to such a level. This was not expected of someone who held such a high position. He offered to step down from his position, in case Jathedar Iqbal Singh proved the allegation, he said.

He reiterated that all Takhts enjoyed equal status and hence Akal Takht was not supreme. Jathedar Iqbal Singh alleged that the efforts to establish Akal Takht as supreme had already caused a split in the Sikh Panth for which Jathedar Vedanti was responsible .

He sought immediate resignation from Jathedar Vedanti . He reiterated that Takht Patna Sahib was authorised to declare any Sikh as ‘tankhaiya’. Jathedar Iqbal Singh alleged that Jathedar Vedanti was ‘unable’ to give proper leadership to the Sikh Panth and allowed his close relative Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu to attend the meetings of Sikh clerics against the Sikh Maryada.

He alleged that though the SGPC had terminated the services of Mr Sandhu following serious allegations, he continued to work as personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti. He asked the SGPC to probe under what capacity Mr Sandhu had been ‘dictating’ to the Sikh clergy during the meetings.

The two Jathedars are locked in a confrontation with Jathedar Iqbal Singh saying that he would not attend the meeting of all Jathedars called by Akal Takht to discuss various issues, including the book Mundavani, till Giani Vedanti was Jathedar of Akal Takht.

He alleged that Jathedar Vedanti had managed to make certain citizens of the USA to complain against him that he had visited Gurdwara, Yuba City, USA, where ‘langar’ was served on tables and chairs in violation of the edict issued from Akal Takht .

He justified the way in which langar was served there. He, however, alleged that Jathedar Vedanti and other Jathedars had visited the houses of office-bearers of the Gurdwara Committee, Yuba City, which too was a violation of the edict .

Jathedar Iqbal Singh admitted that Jathedar Vedanti, Giani Gurdit Singh and Mohan Singh Guard had carried out research on ‘Mundavni’ in his presence. He admitted that his photograph with the Jathedar Vedanti and author of Mundavni was genuine and not doctored. However, he said he was ignorant about the ‘intention’ of Jathedar Vedanti, Mr Guard and Giani Gurdit Singh.

Meanwhile, Jathedar Iqbal Singh has called an emergency meeting of Sikh clergy at Patna Sahib for tomorrow to consider the ‘request’ of Jathedar Vedanti who wanted the postponement of the action, proposed to be taken against him on December 10. He, however, said Jathedar Vedanti could not be given relaxation unless he submitted a written request.


Giani Gurdit Singh to appear before clergy today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
Giani Gurdit Singh , author of the controversial book Mundawni, will appear before the Sikh high priests at Akal Takht secretariat tomorrow. He will file his petition with the Sikh clergy. Earlier, Giani Gurdit Singh was declared ‘Tankhaiya’ by Takht Patna Sahib.

It is reliably learnt that Giani Gurdit Singh will plead that Takht Patna Sahib had no authority to declare any Sikh ‘tankhahiya’.


Villagers, BKU (E) men gherao police station
Seek arrest of accused in rape case
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bareta (Mansa), December 7
Thousands of people of this town and its surrounding villages, including activists of the BKU (Ekta), Sidhupur group, and members of the Pinky Katal Kand Sangharsh Committee today gheraoed the local police station to press the authorities concerned to arrest the accused involved in the rape and subsequent murder of Pinky on December 1.

Mr Darbara Singh, president of the sangharsh committee, said apart from the accused, who had been identified, the others whose name did not figure in the FIR but were involved in the crime, should be arrested immediately.

He alleged that some police officials and a section of politicians were involved in the crime and added that till all accused were not arrested they would continue to gherao the police station.

Ms Pinky, whose husband Palwinder Singh was working in a rice mill owned by senior BJP leader Baghirath Lal, died under mysterious circumstances on December 1. First the police registered a case for abetment to suicide against her husband, Baghirath Lal, Surinder Kumar, her mother Charanjit Kaur and others on the complaint lodged by her aunt Ms Chander Kaur, and then offence of rape was also made out against the accused.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Pinky, who died while being shifted to Ludhiana Hospital after being referred from civil hospital, Mansa, on December 1, was suspected to have consumed poison. The police recovered the body of Pinky when her family was clandestinely trying to cremate it in the local cremation ground on December 2. As the post-mortem of victim, who belonged to this region and was married at Sirsa, could not be done on December 2, her body was cremated on December 3.

Taking a suo moto cognizance of the matter, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, ordered a magisterial inquiry into the case. Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner had been asked to conduct the probe and submit his report with-in 15 days.

Police sources said various teams of Budhlada, Bareta and Boha police stations had been pressed into service to arrest the accused, who had gone under ground. These teams had also raided some places in Haryana where the accused were suspected to be hiding.

Ms V. Neerja, SSP, Mansa, when contacted, said she was shocked to hear the baseless allegations being levelled by the people against police officials. She said so far the functioning of the police remained transparent in this case and authorities would not spare anybody found involved in the case. She added that the truth would come to surface in the magisterial probe, which was going on in the case.


Siddiqui told to ‘relieve’ 7 DSPs of their duties
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Less than two months after the selection of seven Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) was set aside by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab Government’s Home Department today asked Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui to “relieve” the officers of their “duties”. The candidates had been selected under the sportspersons category.

The sources revealed that the DGP was also informed of the government’s decision against the filing of a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court of India in this regard. Punjab Home Secretary S.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary in the Home Department R.L. Mehta and the DGP could not be contacted for comments.

The directions are significant as the candidates include Media Adviser to the Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal’s son Bikram Inderjit Singh Chahal and Ferozepore’s Senior Superintendent of Police Harinder Chahal’s son Gulzar Singh.

The other DSPs proceeded against are Mr Vimmy Singh, Mr Gagan Inder Singh, Major R S Ahluwalia, Mr Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Mr Palwinder Singh Cheema. They were selected by a committee headed by Mr Sinha, besides DGP Siddiqui and the Sports Department Secretary.

Challenging the selections, several petitions were filed in the High Court. Claiming to be genuine sportspersons, the petitioners had asserted that their cases for selection were ignored. They had added that a tailor-made criteria was adopted for facilitating the selection of favoured candidates.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the mater was also entertained by the High Court. The petitioner had claimed that the advertisement issued by the government for the selections was unsustainable in law. It was added that the selection criteria had been fixed to suit the children of the high and mighty.

Taking up the case, a three-judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla and Mr Justice Surya Kant, had also ordered the striking down of the criteria framed by the selection committee and the Punjab Sports Department.

Giving details of the action taken by the Home Department, the sources said that the recommendations were made this evening after a high-level meeting was held in this regard. They claimed that the recommendations would have been made long time back had the government not considered the feasibility of filing the SLP.


Friendship spirit pervades Indo-Pak Punjab Games
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 7
Friendship spirit is all pervasive at the Indo-Pak Punjab Games. The Pakistan Punjab contingent did not lodge a protest with the games organising committee even after the first gold medal was won by a cyclist who had tested positive for dope recently.

Ms Fiza, manager of the Pak cycling contingent, says she realises that Gurpreet Kaur, who won the first gold at the games, and Gurvinder Kaur, who also took part in the games despite testing positive for dope recently, should not have been selected for the games. However, keeping in mind the spirit behind the games, she had decided not to lodge a protest in that regard, she added.

Gurpreet and Gurvinder Kaur had earlier tested positive for a particular steroid during the National Mountainbike Championship held at Anandpur Sahib around a month back. Gurpreet had challenged the test and her ‘B’ sample had to be tested within a period of three months. Despite the fact that she was still to be cleared, she was chosen to represent Indian Punjab in the games.

The officials at the games apparently had no answer as to how this was allowed despite Indian Olympic Association Anti-Doping Committee chairman Dr Manmohan Singh saying that action should have been taken against her.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is taking keen interest in the games. He watched a number of wrestling bouts yesterday. He arrived when Asian Games medal winner Palwinder Cheema had taken to the mat. He went on to see a number of bouts and even interacted with senior sports officials, including Raja Randhir Singh. He expressed satisfaction at the number of spectators who had come out to watch these events.


From backyards to Olympics, Pak women players come a long way
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, December 7
Sumaira Zahoor is by no means an extraordinary athlete. She has to her credit neither world records nor astounding laurels, however, she remains one of the most famous names in the Pakistani contingent which is here to participate in the first Indo-Pak Punjab games.

Her ticket to fame is the fact that she is the only woman athlete to have represented her country at the Athens Olympics and at the Busan Asian Games. In fact, she was one of the two women players who formed part of the Pakistani contingent at the Athens Olympics, the other being a swimmer.

Sumaira who had been placed seventh in the 1500 m race (4.31 minutes) at the Busan Asian Games, recently won silver medal at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games held at Islamabad. She has now become a role model for many aspiring women players in Pakistan who she says are being attracted towards sports like never before.

Pakistani women swimmers took part in their first international event at the Afro-Asian Games held last year. Also the 12-member women cycling team of Pakistan is competing outside home ground for the first time.

Sumaira insists the social climate in Pakistan is fast becoming conducive to the propagation of sports even amongst the women and she gives the credit for it to the new regime in her country.

“The winds of change are blowing hard. Girls were restricted to playing in the backyards of their homes alone. Earlier the orthodox mullahs and other fundamentalists used to oppose any bid by our girls to participate in sporting activities. Now they no more spit fire on us. In fact, the Pakistani Army has gradually brought in progressive thought which is being accepted by more and more people”, states Sumaira.

What she really rues is the fact that at present there is no women coach in her country. “I want to be the first. I want to break this trend of quitting sports once and for all after women players get married. Just this month I have been placed with the Steel Board , Karachi and I intend to train the girls of my country in Athletics”, she said. Sumaira is confident that Pakistani girls would perform well at the international scene like Indian women players. “After all, the facilities women players have been enjoying in India for the past two decades have just recently been made available to our girls in Pakistan and with proper training they too will shine”, she asserts.

The athlete says hope is burgeoning for girls in her country who enjoy sports and want to make it as a way of life. “The attitude of the masses has altered drastically, though , of course, the same cannot be held true of our rural areas. My father who is a retired army man encourages me to pitch in my best at all times.

“Girls who want to participate in training camps being held far from the cities they reside in are now given permission for the same as opposed to earlier when this was simply unthinkable”, says a beaming Sumaira, adding, “we have now at least 45 women players at the national level, at this rate we may soon outshine the boys”.


Punjab Rattan’ conferred upon Pervaiz Elahi
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 7
The Punjab Writers Forum has conferred its most prestigious award, Punjab Rattan, upon Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi at a special function held at Patiala.

The award was presented yesterday to Mr Elahi for his historic response to the initiative of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his efforts to strengthen the bonds of love between India and Pakistan.

Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, Chairman of the Punjab Writers Forum, said the Punjab Rattan award was conferred upon eminent and inspiring personalities who excel in their respective fields.

In a statement with emotional overtones, Mr Elahi told the gathering that his visit had become a milestone in the ongoing peace process between both the nations.

Lavishing praise upon his Indian counterpart, he said he was proud to be the friend of a `brave son of India`.

Captain Amarinder Singh, while appreciating the achievements of Punjab Writers Forum, said more cultural and commercial exchanges between the two nations would be encouraged in the future.


Re-editing of Suraj Parkash begins
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
On the direction of the SGPC, the re-editing of Sri Gur Partap Suraj Granth, also called Suraj Parkash, has begun to comb out the ‘mythological content’ from its text and include the same into its appendix.

Suraj Parkash is one of the most revered Sikh religious scriptures which is recited almost daily in the afternoon in a “katha” form( story telling manner) in all the main SGPC-managed and other gurdwaras. The job to edit it has been handed over to Prof Kirpal Singh, renowned scholar of Sikh history, by the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC.

In fact Prof Kirpal Singh, former Professor and Head of the Punjabi Historical Studies Department of Punjabi University, has completed the editing of three volumes and the two of them have been handed over to the SGPC for publication.

The two centuries-old scripture, having over dozen volumes, was authored by Bhai Santokh Singh, famed as Mahankavi. Bhai Santokh Singh, a great scholar of Brij bhasha, was associated with Raja Udai Singh of Kaithal state in the 19th century. The scripture is in poetic verses. The first time it was edited about eight decades ago by Bhai Vir Singh, a scholar and Punjabi poet of nature, as subtle as, William Wordsworth.

Talking to The Tribune here today , Prof Kirpal Singh said that the entire Suraj Parkash was in Brij bhasha, which was the language the scholars of Agra-Mathra belt at the time of Bhai Santokh Singh and earlier. The scripture was completed in several years by the Mahankavi, he adds.

“It contains events associated with the life of Sikh Gurus and other related happenings of their time. But mythological content dominates in certain chapters. And most of the mythological content in its text is in a direct contradiction with Gurbani and Gurmat. To remove all those contradictions, this scripture was being re-edited”, says Prof Kirpal Singh.

Giving instances in this connection, Prof Kirpal Singh, observed: “Suraj Parkash says that Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, was the incarnation of an earlier ‘God’. But Gurbani and Gurmat do not believe in the philosophy of incarnation or re-incarnation. Hence, we are editing this part and putting it into the appendix by giving proper footnotes on the pages from where these portions would be culled”.

Adding further, Prof Kirpal Singh says: “Only those parts which conforms to Gurmat and the historical evidence available from various authentic sources would be kept in the main text of the scripture.”. He said that at the time of Bhai Santokh Singh, mythology, which was a part of old scriptures influenced the creations of Sikh scholars also. And Bhai Santokh Singh, a great poet, who authored the scripture with great devotion and deep faith, was seemingly influenced by such mythological subject matter. Other scholars might also have influenced his creation.

“It is a great task assigned to me. But it requires a lot of time to edit all volumes. When the work would be completed I can’t tell at this stage”, added Prof Kirpal Singh, who heads a team of three persons to complete the job.


SGPC failed to highlight Sikh heritage: Dhillon
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 7
Actor-turned-film producer Mangal Dhillon has said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and other Sikh bodies have failed to highlight Sikh heritage at the global level.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday Dhillon said the so-called leaders of the community did nothing to guide the new generation towards the path shown by Sikh gurus, as a result of which today’s Sikh youth were falling prey to the dark side of Western culture.

He said the identity of Sikhism was gradually disappearing and it did not augur well for the community, known for its courage across the world. He said when he made the first film based on Sikhism, ‘Khalsa’, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had played a key role in the successful completion of the project, but the scenario had changed now. Dhillon said he spent about Rs 26 lakh on his new film, ‘Parkash Shri Guru Granth Sahib’, and was currently touring Punjab to screen his film in the state’s villages free of cost.

He lamented that he had received no aid either from the SGPC or the Punjab Government in this regard. He said the state government had washed its hands off, saying its coffers were empty, which had hit his plans hard.

Dhillon said he would make more films on Sikh philosophy, including one portraying dissent against the ban on wearing turban in France, to sensitise the new generation on the glorious history of Sikhs.

Earlier, Dhillon screened his new film, ‘Parkash Shri Guru Granth Sahib’, at Guru Nanak College.


Debt in farm sector estimated at 12,494 cr
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The total debt in the agriculture sector in Punjab is estimated at Rs 12,494 crore 2002-03. At least 46.32 per cent of it is from non-institutional sources. And, increasing indebtedness of farmers, particularly small and marginal, has led to many cases of suicides as well.

While bringing this important aspect of the state agriculture scene to the notice of the National Commission on Agriculture, Punjab has sought “relief” for the farmers. It has suggested that at least the interest on the loans availed of by farmers be waived off and only the principal amount recovered from the defaulting farmers. The analogy given is that if this could be done in the case of defaulters in industry, who take loans from commercial banks, why not farmers?

Punjab has quoted the example of Maharashtra, where too farmers under debt have committed suicides, and which has waived off repayment of interest. This concession or relief will not put any additional burden on the banking institutions but will go a long way to help farmers, specially small and marginal, to breathe easy and refrain from committing suicide.

Says the Vice-Chairman of the state Planning Board, Dr S S Johl, “Loans, no doubt, are never a charity. Their return is imperative for economic development. But then there has to be a humane face to the system”. He had presented the state’s case to the National Commission on Agriculture.

The document submitted to the commission says that total debt in the farm sector was estimated to have shot up from Rs 5,700 crore in 1996-97, as calculated by Prof. H S Shergill, to Rs 11, 133 crore in 2002-03, with average per farm debt of Rs 1,01,210, out of which more than 40 per cent was provided by non-institutional sources at a much higher rate of interest; generally 24 per cent per annum.

The other important observations mentioned in the document are that the problem of indebtedness is more serious in the cotton belt in Malwa districts, where the crop had failed during the last five years, except 2002-03. The Centre was seized of the magnitude of the problem and had recently announced that the institutional flow of agricultural credit would be increased by 30 per cent to Rs 104,500 crore in 2004-05.

Dr Johl says that non-institutional sources catered to the consumption needs of small and marginal farmers. As long this agriculture sector was growing in 1970s and 80s, repayment of loans was not a problem. The problem started in the 90s, when stagnation set in the agriculture sector, cost of production went high and profit margins squeezed. This contributed to rising debt and suicides. Also, non-institutional loans elbowed out institutional loans.

To quote Prof. H S Shergill, out of a debt burden of Rs 5,700 crore on farmers, Rs 2,640 crore (46 per cent) was provided by the commission agents or ahrtiys, while the remaining was from institutional sources, commercial and co-operative banks and societies and regional rural banks.

A cotton grower, it was observed, had an average debt amount of Rs 96,630 outstanding against his name in 2000. Out of this, 60.48 per cent or Rs 52,600 was accounted for by non-institutional sources, mainly commission agents. Farmers owning less than five acres were deeper in debt.


Homage paid to martyrs
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 7
A function was organised by the District Sainik Welfare Board to mark Armed Forces Flag Day at War Memorial here today.

Lieut-Gen P.K. Singh, General Officer commanding, Vajra Corps, was the chief guest. He was welcomed by Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner. Major-Gen B.J. Gupta, Chief of Staff, Vajra Corps, was also present.

Lieut-Gen P.K. Singh laid a wreath at Punjab State War Memorial and paid homage to the war heroes of Punjab. The programme started with a devotional song by students of BD Arya College for Girls. Senior serving and retired Army officers, civil dignitaries, ex-servicemen and widows of martyrs attended the function.

Lieut-Gen P.K. Singh distributed gifts and grants among the beneficiaries. He visited the “Hall of Fame”, Kargil gallery and war library. On behalf of the Vajra Corps, he presented a cheque for Rs 25,000 to be used for the welfare of ex-servicemen and widows of martyrs.

Kapurthala: The local District Sainik Welfare Board observed Armed Forces Flag Day at Captain Jhaggar Singh War Memorial.

Col Shamsher Singh, Officiating Commander, Military Station, was the chief guest. He laid a wreath by the statue of Capt Jhaggar Singh. Mr Paramjit Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Shammi Kumar, S.P. (Headquarters), garlanded the statue of the martyr. A two-minute silence was observed after the wreath-laying ceremony.

On the occasion, the ADC gave cheques for Rs 500 to kin of three martyrs each.


Mann reverts to sovereign Punjab theme
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) supremo Simranjit Singh Mann yesterday reverted to the theme of sovereign Punjab, declaring that his party would launch a peaceful movement to realise this dream. He said his party had never given up the demand for a separate and sovereign Punjab as the Sikhs’ was a separate nationality, foundations of which had been laid down by Guru Gobind Singh himself.

Mr Mann, who was here to preside over a meeting of the party office-bearers at Gurdwara Akalgarh, said to ensure lasting peace in South Asia in the face of deep hostility between “Hindu civilisation (India) and Muslim civilisation (Pakistan)”, it was in the interest of the people of the region to create a neutral and buffer sovereign state.

He maintained that the foundations for a separate sovereign Sikh state had been laid down by Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur followed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This dream was furthered by “Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale” and “would be materialised one day”. He said since both Pakistan and India had nuclear weapons, it was necessary that some buffer state should be created so that the two countries did not come face to face with each other.

Mr Mann refused to give the geographical outline of the “sovereign state” envisioned by him. He evaded an answer to a question whether it included the part of the state which is now with Pakistan.

Welcoming the close cooperation between the Pakistani Punjab and the Indian Punjab, Mr Mann claimed it was he who had initiated this move by demanding way back in 1990 that the border between the two Punjabs should be opened up for the people to cross over.

To a question on the demand of the Dal Khalsa that ban on cow slaughter in Punjab should go, Mr Mann said he or his organisation had nothing to do with that organisation (Dal Khalsa). At the same time, he said, he or his party would not like to hurt the sentiments of a majority of people as “Hindus held the cow to be sacred and their sentiments should be respected”.

Mr Mann also accused Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal of having connived with Hindu organisations in demolishing the Babri mosque. He alleged that Mr Badal had sent a special jatha, led by Mr Avtar Singh Hit, to Ayodhaya on December 6, 1992, to join the kar sevaks for demolishing the Babri mosque.


Mann flays SAD on POTA issue
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 7
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for walkout by its MPs along with the MPs of the BJP on the issue of repealing of “draconian” and “anti-minority” POTA.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Mann alleged that the SAD had become a part and parcel of the BJP as it had completely lost its independent character. Besides, SAD was no longer representative and champion of the minorities, he claimed.

Mr Mann also alleged that SAD had given up all Sikh issues and sacrificed the same at the altar of Hindutva, propounded by the BJP and the RSS. He said that though SAD had totally surrendered to extreme Hindutva, the BJP did not support the former in Parliament in the boycott of Congress MPs like Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, “who had committed the massacre of Sikhs in 1984.”


Plot owners fail to get compensation even after 19 yrs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
Even as the improvement trust was announcing ambitious housing and commercial schemes for developing the outskirts of the holy city, a large number of people whose plots were acquired to make these schemes possible have been left high and dry as the trust has failed to pay the acquisition charges, for the past 19 years.

Bankers and other salaried class had purchased these plots in September, 1983, under the “New Amritsar Development Scheme”.

Plots of 250 sq yard were purchased and the colony was named bankers’ colony. Similarly doctors got together to buy plots in the adjoining colony. It was named Doctors’ Colony.

However in 1985 the trust acquired both colonies to make an ambitious “366-acre new Amritsar housing scheme”. At last 125 plot owners in bankers’ colony and 180 in doctors’ colony were deprived of their plots. The trust promised to pay suitable compensation for acquiring their plots, but had failed to keep its promise for past 19 years.

The owners are in quandary, as neither they can dispose of the land nor construct house on it. Many of the owners stay out of the city thus making it impossible to frequently visit the area. Ms Usha Jalota of Delhi has been running from pillar to post for the past many years to get her dues. She and her husband have met five successive chairmen of the Improvement Trust but to no avail. Earlier, her plot was included in the 366-acre scheme and now it has been included in “188-acre New Amritsar Extension Scheme”. “The dilly dallying by the trust continues”, says Mr Ashok Khanna, another owner whose 250 sq yard plot has also been acquired. Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Trust chairman, said the trust was surveying the acquisitions, following which a resolution would be passed to seek approval from the state. However, he adds that many influential persons, who owned plots and enjoyed political connections, were paid while others were left out.


Villagers seek recognition for possessing ashes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 7
Residents of Alloarkh village, near Bhawanigarh, and activists of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) asked the SGPC to set up an educational and religious institution in the village as it possesses an urn containing a part of the ashes of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, in the Manji Sahib gurdwara.

A meeting of the residents and activists, under the presidentship of Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), was held at the Manji Sahib Gurdwara here today.

Mr Alloarkh said the residents also asked the SGPC to accord recognition to the village and the gurdwara in view of historical importance of the place.

Mr Alloarkh said the residents appreciated Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A), for taking out a Sikhi sidak march from Damdama Sahib to Fatehgarh Sahib on December 23 to mark the tercentenary of the martyrdom of Baba Zorawar Singh, Baba Fateh Singh and Mata Gujar Kaur. 


Role of intellectuals in saving environment stressed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 7
Need for intellectuals to act and create awareness among people about the importance of clean environment and perils of pollution was stressed at a seminar organised by the Life Awareness Movement at Guru Osho Duar Ashram here.

Delivering his lecture, Dr Jasbir Dosanjh, skin specialist and senior activist of the Life Awareness Movement, said the need of the hour was to realise as to how economic and industrial development could be effected for the welfare of people and how to create awareness among them about their surroundings.

Mr Partap Singh, painter and scholar, said the indifference had crept among almost all of us to such an extent that none of us wanted to criticise or to make an effort to stop the wrongdoings.

Dr Avtaar Singh said all present day ills had their roots in population boom. “By giving birth to 1.8 crore children every year, India is producing another Australia every year.”

Others who participated in the seminar included Dr Joginder Singh Puar, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, and Dr Bharat Bhushan. A meditation camp preceded the seminar.


Panel to sort out problems of doctors
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
In order to ensure closer coordination between the police and the doctors, particularly the problems faced by doctors while conducting their professional duties, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ludhiana Range, Mr Parag Jain, has constituted committees of doctors and police officers for the police districts of Ludhiana, Ropar, Khanna and Jagraon.

The committees have been formed in compliance with the orders of the Director General of Police, Punjab to look into the complaints and problems of the doctors. The members of this committee will hold regular meetings with the Indian Medical Association to sort out the problems.

For the Ludhiana district the members include Dr Iqbal of Iqbal Nursing Home, Mr RK Jaiswal, Mr Mandeep Singh and Dr Ajit Chawla, for Ropar district, Mr Varinder Singh, Dr Manohar Singh and Gurmukh Singh, for Khanna, Mr Dilbagh Singh, Mr Vinod Sood and Mr Kaka Singh and for Jagraon district Mr Gurmukh Singh, Dr Balwinder Singh and Mr Jasvir Singh.


Tehsil staff protest against misconduct
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 7
Phagwara tehsil complex staff went on a strike today in protest against the objectionable behaviour of certain people with Naib Tehsildar Seema Singh.

Tehsildar Hardip Singh Dhaliwal and Naib Tehsildar Seema Singh also joined the rally and demonstration held by the protestors in front of the SDM courts complex.

Raising angry slogans, Ms Seema Singh said both Tehsildar and she had taken casual leave for upholding the dignity of the office.

Ms Seema Singh alleged that P.S. Passi, president of Anti-Corruption Forum, Hans Raj, a photostate machine operator in the courts complex and their supporters had used objectionable words against her and also misbehaved with her.

She had called Passi and Hans Raj in connection with an inquiry marked to her by the Tehsildar. Hans Raj had complained to the Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Mr Rakesh Verma, against Passi.

Mr Verma marked the inquiry to Phagwara SDM Pritam Singh, who further marked it to Tehsildar Hardip Singh Dhaliwal, who passed it on to her.

Meanwhile, both Passi and Hans Raj struck a compromise. The complainant Hans Raj accompanied Passi to her office and hurled invectives at her, she alleged.

Local Balmiki community today stormed into Passi’s offices at Prem Nagar and in the courts complex. They vandalised the offices and even thrashed two persons and smashed a photostate machine.

The police had registered a case against four persons, including P.S. Passi and others.


Patwaris stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, December 7
Activists of the Revenue Patwar Union, Muktsar, today staged a dharna in front of the district administrative complex (DAC) to lodge their protest against the false implication of a Patwari, Chamkaur Singh, in a corruption case by the Vigilance Bureau a few days ago.

The activists alleged that the Vigilance Bureau had been falsely implicating revenue officials in corruption cases to extort money from them. They pointed out that though Chamkaur Singh received Rs 500 from Mr Buta Singh of Thandewala village as fee as per the procedure for issuing him some papers, the Vigilance Bureau registered a case of corruption against him for the same despite the fact that an entry had been made in the relevant register in connection with the acceptance of Rs 500 as official fee.

They said that if the authorities concerned did not take action against the erring vigilance officials after getting the matter probed by internal vigilance or the CBI, they would launch a state-level agitation and would later spread the same to Haryana and Himachal Pardesh.


Plays with message to curb foeticide
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 7
The Voluntary Health Association of Punjab has launched a campaign in the district against the female foeticide. Under this campaign, one-act plays, choreography, cycle march, corner meetings, and students’ rallies will be taken out, said Mr Manmohan Sharma, Director, Voluntary Health Association, while talking to The Tribune here today.

He said the district had a historical significance but also had the lowest sex ratio in the country, so his organisation had decided to work in this district, volunteers of his organisation have started organising one act plays written by renowned dramatist Gursharn Singh, popularly known as Bhai Manna Singh. The theme of these plays is female foeticide and people are educated through these plays about the importance of girl child as.

He said through speeches, marches and through rallies, they are taught not to go for sex determination tests.

He said his organisation was concerned about fastly declining sex ratio in the state. He said if the trend continued, there would be total chaos and social disorder in society.

Three short one-act plays regarding female foeticide written by Bhai Gursharn Singh were staged by his team at Government Primary School, Nogawan today. Apart from students, a large number of villagers also turned up to witness the plays. Mr Jaspal Singh, sarpanch of the village, said they would again call the team to perform in their area.


Eye selling case: teachers back Dharmvir
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 7
Members of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association here today said they would oppose any action taken against their colleague, Dr Dharmvir Chalia, faculty member of the Eye Department of Government Medical College who has been named by the police in the Pingla ashram eye selling case.

The secretary of the association, Dr B.S. Sohal, today said the name of their colleague had been ‘unnecessarily’ dragged into the controversy and the police had misled the media by defaming Dr Chalia. He said the practice of cornea transplantation and eye donation had been going on in the institution for the last 35 years and the eyes of a dead person were collected from their relatives with their consent.

Dr Sohal claimed that the practice was in accordance with the National Society for the Control of Blindness. Condemning the ‘negative approach’ of the police, he said members of the association would resist any action taken by the police against Dr Chalia.


Revenue patwaris abstain from offices
Our Correspondent

Abohar, Dec. 7
The Revenue Patwaris staged a dharna, on a call given by the state action committee, at the sub divisional complex here today.

The daily work was affected for more than three hours as all the Patwaris of Abohar sub division abstained from their respective offices to express solidarity with the state union in the agitation.

Mr. Jagdish Kumar Kherwa sub divisional president of the union said that the Vigilance Department had "intentionally" targeted the Patwaris under the pretext of campaign to weed out corruption. The Patwaris had been arrested by implicating them in false and "stage-managed" cases in different districts of the state.

A memorandum was submitted to the SDM Jaskiran Singh urging the state government that all such cases be withdrawn immediately.


GND varsity staff condole Dr Kesar’s death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
Dr S P Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), senior lecturers, teachers and other staff members and students of the Department of Punjabi today condoled the death of Dr Kesar Singh Kesar.

Dr Kesar had retired as professor and head of the School of Punjabi Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He died on December 5.

Dr H.S. Bhatia, Prof and head of Nanak Singh Chair, in a statement said that Dr Kesar had made significant contribution in Marxist literary criticism. 


Demolition of houses opposed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 7
Tension prevailed in the old defence bandh area of Sirhind town yesterday when hundreds of PWD (B&R) employees led by Mr Parminder Singh Tiwana, SDO, along with the local Tehsildar started a demolition drive in the area.

Residents of the locality, particularly women, protested against the demolition of their houses.

Officials of the department explained to them that they had to abide by the court directions. But some house owners on their own started the demolition process.

Mr Tiwana, SDO, said they were implementing the court orders which had directed the department to remove the unauthorised construction on the PWD road.


High Court
Contempt notice issued to PSEB chief Ratra
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice for contempt to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Y.S. Ratra and Secretary Jaspreet Talwar.

The notice was issued on a petition moved by PSEB Assistant Engineer Kuldip Singh, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the two for not implementing High Court orders regarding his seniority.

The petitioner, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste category, has stated that despite orders of the High Court to treat him as having been promoted to the post of Assistant Engineer with effect form March 20, 1990, the board has not done so.

This, he has stated, is reflected in the decision of the PSEB to fill five posts of Executive Engineer and Senior Executive Engineer from among candidates from the general category without considering him despite his seniority.

In its order of August 24, 2004, the Bench headed by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar had directed the PSEB to treat the petitioner as having been promoted to his present post with effect from March 20, 1990, and also give him all consequential benefits, including monetary and promotional.

However, the petitioner now says, the PSEB, vide order dated November 30, 2004, promoted five officers to the next rank. The PSEB also filled two posts meant for the reserved categories by promoting officers of general category after noting that there was no eligible candidate from among Scheduled Caste officers.

Today, Advocate R.S. Bajaj, counsel for the petitioner, stated that by ignoring the claim of his client for the next post, the PSEB top brass has committed contempt of court.

After hearing him, Mr Justice Pritam Pal issued notice of contempt to Mr Ratra and Ms Talwar, asking them to explain by January 24 why contempt of court proceedings not be initiated against them.

Group clash

The High Court on Tuesday directed the police investigating the July 2 incident of exchange of fire at Kharar between two groups of Shiromani Akali Dal supporters that left two persons dead and many injured to allow accused Kiranbir Singh Kang and Mr Pavittar Singh and Mr Gurpreet Singh, both of whose brothers died in the incident, and others to reside at their residences. The police authorities were also directed to secure their lives.

The court, however, clarified that the order would be applicable only in relation to the cases cited in the petition. If the petitioners are accused in any other cases, the police would be free to arrest them, the Bench ordered.

Resuming hearing in the bunch of petitions filed in the matter, including one by the parents of Kiranbir Singh Kang, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice BK Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant was requested by Ms Charu Tuli, counsel for the Punjab Government, to give some time to check the correctness or otherwise of the claim made by Dr G.B.S. Kang, brother of Kiranbir.

Dr Kang had alleged that the police, particularly Sub-Inspector Ramandeep Singh, had falsely implicated many members of the family in the case.

In his affidavit filed in the High Court, Dr Kang has alleged that his family was being victimised by the police by subverting the process of law. Attaching a computerized chart with his application, Dr Kang had stated that the call records of the mobile phone being used by the Sub-Inspector would show that he was nowhere near the place of incident.


Sell cotton at minimum support price, DC tells farmers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, said yesterday that arrangements had been made to ensure the minimum support price (MSP) of raw cotton to its growers. It would not be allowed to be sold below the MSP in this district.

Mr Sinha, who held a meeting of ADCs, SDMs and officials of Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) yesterday, said instructions had been given to officials of the CCI to purchase raw cotton at MSP fixed for it.

He added that SDMs had been asked to contact ginning and pressing mills owners falling in their respective areas and make arrangements for additional space for them to store raw cotton so that CCI and traders could store more cotton in those mills after purchasing the same .

He said he had been taking up the matter of power cuts with PSEB authorities and would do the needful to exempt the ginning and pressing mills from the same so that these could run to their full capacity.

Mr S. R. Mittal, Manager, CCI, Punjab, who attended the meeting, said the CCI had increased the time limit for ginning the raw cotton being given to the mill owners to 30 days from the existing 15 days keeping in view the power cuts being imposed in Punjab. He added that farmers should not get panicky and sell their produce at MSP only either to the CCI or to traders.


MC official shifted on complaint
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, December 7
On a complaint lodged by the Bar Association, Malerkotla, the Punjab Government has transferred a section officer of the local municipal council, Mohd Salim, to Jandiala Guru in Amritsar district.

In an application forwarded to the SDM, Ms Indu Malhotra, the Bar Association alleged that employees of the council, under the leadership of Mr Mohd Salim, had raised anti-Bar Association slogans on its premises.

They also burnt an effigy of the Bar and placed filth in front of the court’s compound. They also threatened to throw night soil in front of the cabins of advocates.

The Bar Association had demanded an administrative and legal action against the section officer and other employees of the municipal council.

The SDM while taking to The Tribune here today confirmed that the section officer had been transferred and added that strict departmental action would be taken against those found guilty after departmental inquiry.

Mohd Salim is a relative of a local Congress leader, said to be very close to Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress MLA from Sangrur.


ASI booked for custodial death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 7
Three persons, including an Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Punjab police, have been remanded to judicial custody by a special court trying cases filed by the CBI, a report received by officials here said.

According to information, a vegetable seller in the Lajpat Rai Market here had reportedly employed Sonu son of Heera Lal, a migrant from Uttar Pradesh. Sonu was booked by the city police under Section 109 of the IPC on August 19, 2000. Witnesses said he had been seen in a “compromising position” with the wife of his employer.

As no bail application had been moved for his release, Sonu was remanded to judicial custody. The police kept him in the police station here for a night under the cover of a “transit parchi”. Next day he was lodged in the sub-jail at Fazilka.

On August 23, 2000, he complained of a respiratory problem. Initially he was treated at the Civil Hospital, Fazilka, later he was taken to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot. There he died within a few hours.

The migrants here allowed his cremation only when the city police registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against his employer, a brother of the employer and the ASI in-charge of the investigation, as the agitators alleged that Sonu had succumbed to internal and external injuries caused due to “torture” in the police custody.

The Medical Report given by the experts at the Medical College had endorsed the allegations levelled by the public. Later the parties reportedly reached a compromise and an high-level inquiry helped in disposing of the file stating that Sonu had died on the spot due to beating meted out to him by the residents of Indira Nagri where he and his employers lived.

A Panchkula based NGO took the matter to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging it was a case of violation of human rights. The Court asked the CBI to conduct an inquiry.

The CBI booked Ramesh Babbar, his brother Suresh Babbar and ASI Gurmeet Singh. They were arrested and produced in the special court, which remanded them to judicial custody yesterday.


Job scam unearthed, main accused held
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 7
The police has arrested a person whose exploits could match that of the famous thug, Natwar Lal.

Kumar Krishan Wadhera over the past two decades duped hundreds of youth of crores promising them jobs in the RAW, the Railways and the Army. His victims came to know that they had been duped only when they went to join duties in the said departments.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said that along with his associates, his wife Anjala Wadhera and Iqbal Singh, a resident of Pathankot, Kumar Krishan used to spread the rumour that he could get government jobs for the unemployed youth.

An amount ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh was charged from the victims. They were called to Delhi where written, physical and medical tests were conducted for their recruitment. Later they were sent to youth hostels in different parts of the country on the plea that it was a part of their training as RAW agents.

The victims were given appointment letters of the departments in which they were allegedly recruited.

In some of the cases, Kumar Krishan even got the police verification of his victims conducted from the Delhi police.


Kashmir terrorist held in Moga
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 7
The Moga police got a major breakthrough in its drive to nab proclaimed offenders today when they arrested one of the wanted terrorists of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Hamid, son of Saeed Mohammad.

According to sources, Abdul Hamid was working at Hari Om Rice Mill, which is situated near Dhaleke village on the Zira Road. The sources said following a tip-off a police team, led by SHO Raman Kumar Sharma, raided the rice mill and arrested Hamid who was reportedly involved in many terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hamid was a resident of Mandel village in Poonch district. The police has not yet officially announced the terrorist’s arrest.

Meanwhile, a proclaimed offender, Pyara Singh of Landeke village, was arrested during the drive. He was wanted in a case of duping Manjeet Singh of Panjgarain of Rs 10 lakh on the pretext of sending him abroad. He was declared PO in 2000.


Bomb blast accused surrenders
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 7
An accused in the bomb blast at a Baghapurana temple, Jagvinder Singh, alias Gurvinder Singh, reportedly Associated with the Khalistan Commando Force, today surrendered in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Munish Arora.

Jagvinder had triggered an explosion at a Baghapurana temple on July 9, 1997, in which the son and the daughter of the priest sustained serious injuries.

While running away, he shot dead two migrant labourers. He had fled to Canada and had returned a couple of months back.


Robbery accused arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 7
The police today claimed to have arrested two persons for their alleged involvement in a recent robbery in a moving bus in Adampur area, in which the accused robbed a businessman and snatched over Rs 3 lakh from him.

The arrested persons were identified as Sandeep Singh alias Deepa and Inderjit Singh alias Lada, and Rs 1.50 lakh in cash along with lethal weapons were also recovered from them. The police sources said two accomplices of the accused, identified as Hardip and Gurmel, were still absconding.

Sources revealed that on December 3 an iron merchant, Sitaram, boarded a private bus to go to Mandi Gobindgarh. As soon as the bus reached Chuharwal bus stand, four unidentified youths snatched the bag containing the money from Sitaram and fled.

After a thorough investigation, the police arrested a suspect, Deepa, and recovered part of the looted booty from his residence, sources added. Efforts are on to nab the other accused.


Father, sons kill woman
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Jeet Kaur, a resident of Lehra Mohobat village in this district, was allegedly murdered by Malkit Singh and his three sons, residents of the same village after entering her house late last night. Paramjit Singh, son of the deceased, was injured in the attack.

Police sources said that Paramjit Singh, who was running a business of renting out furniture for social functions, entered into a verbal exchange with Malkit Singh yesterday. However, some persons, who were present on the spot disengaged them and virtually brought a compromise between them.

At about 9.30 p.m., when Paramjit Singh, alongwith his mother and other kin, was present in their house, the accused armed with blunt and sharpedged weapons, entered their house and attacked the occupants. In the attack Jeet Kaur died on the spot.

A case in this connection has been registered under Sections 302, 449, 323 and 34 of the IPC at Nathana police station. The body of Jeet Kaur was handed over to her kin after post mortem.


One killed in road accident
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Jagtar Singh, a resident of National Colony here died after his motor cycle was hit by an unidentified vehicle on the Bathinda-Goniana road today.

Sources said that volunteers of an NGO rushed the victim to the local Civil Hospital, but the doctors declared him brought dead. The body of the deceased was handed over to his kin after the police registered a case and got the post-mortem examination conducted.

The ambulance of Sahara Jan Seva today met with an accident when a speedy truck hit it. The ambulance was badly damaged. The driver of the truck escaped. No one was injured in the incident. 


2 labourers die in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 7
Two migrant labourers were killed when they were run over by a Swaraj Mazda truck near Balongi village. Two more had been injured in the accident.

The dead have been identified as Shambu and Madan, both belonging to Hathrass village in Uttar Pradesh. The injured persons are Phul Chand and Hanuman. They also hail from UP.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 304 of the IPC.


Three hurt in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 7
Three persons were injured, one of them seriously, in different accidents, near here, today.

Salinder Kumar, a migrant labourer, was injured when he was hit by a scooter near Sahora village. Salinder was crossing the road to get water from the other side when the accident took place. He was brought to the local Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. It is learnt that he had sustained head and eye injuries.

Gurdeep Singh got injured while trying to board a moving bus near the Kurali level crossing. he was coming from Hoshiarpur to Chandigarh. When the bus stopped because the level crossing was closed he got off the bus. he was brought to the local Civil Hospital.

ashok Kumar, a resident of Chandigarh, got injured near Desumajra when a wheel of his motor cycle developed a snag. He fell from the moving vehicle. he was taken to the local Civil Hospital.


Four of family die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 7
While four persons of a family, Harbans Kaur, Madan Singh, Balwinder Singh and Parkash Kaur, were killed and two others, Pargan Singh and Amrik Singh, were injured when their vehicle overturned after the collision with another vehicle, near Khamancho village on the Garhshanker-Banga road, near here, today.

The 10 members of the family were travelling in the vehicle. They were returning from Gurudwara Patapuri Sahib (Kiratpur Sahib) after immersing the mortal remains of Sarwan Singh of Aujla village, near Bilga in Jalandhar district, in the Satluj river there.

Sarwan Singh’s widow Harbans Kaur, sister Parkash Kaur, nephew Madan Singh and brother’s son-in-law Balwinder Singh, were killed and his brother Pargan Singh and son-in-law Amrik Singh received injuries. 


Sainik School band team for R-Day parade
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, December 7
Playing the tune of “Sare jahan se accha”, as many as 44 boys of Sainik School here who have been chosen to represent the state for the Republic Day parade, have started rehearsing on the campus.

This will be the third time that the schoolboys will be taking part in the R-Day parade. But it certainly is going to be different this time as the boys will not be a part of any other contingent like the previous years. Instead, they will represent their school as an independent contingent.

Carrying a mass stick, the band captain, Jaswant Singh, will be on the fore. He will be followed by the rest of the band team playing as many as 11 different types of instruments. The school authorities have also ordered for a new uniform for the boys.

Having received the news that the schoolboys will take part as independent contingent, a Delhi-based alumni of the school, Mr Rajesh Chopra, has sent Rs 25,000 to the school for the purchase of new uniform and musical instruments

The boys are very excited about the event. While a majority of the boys will be first timers, there are few who have taken part in the parade at least once. Vikram Singh, who will be playing cornet in the band, said it would be his third chance to make it to the R-Day parade.

For Manas of Class VIII, this will be a first chance to be a part of the national level R-Day parade. Calling it “simply great”, he seemed to be enthusiastically looking forward to the event. Pankaj Bishnoi, who will play clarinet, said that it was just two months that he had been taken in the school band and he was looking forward to the one-month camp to be held in New Delhi from January 1 onwards.

Vikramjit Singh, who will play euphonium, gave the whole credit to his bandmaster, Mr R. Rajakumaran, retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.


Blueprint for jobs for unemployed graduates
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Institute of Tourism and Future Management Trends ( ITFT) has prepared a blueprint for generating job opportunities for unemployed graduates in Punjab. It also promises employment to nearly 5,000 retired defence officers in the state, who are willing to impart training on basic service sector industry skills to these youth.

As per the Planning Commission report, India Vision 2020, of the 200 million new employment opportunities to be generated by 2020, around 120 million will be in the service sector alone. Based on the prevailing market trends and the projections that the service sector will be the driver of the economic growth in the country, the blueprint envisages creation of 1 lakh direct jobs in various areas of service industry and another 1 lakh entrepreneurial ventures in Punjab during the first phase of the project.

The segments identified in the blueprint are : Finance services, including banking and insurance; telecommunications; ITES and BPOs; IT-related back office operations; healthcare; retailing and real estate, hospitality; transportation, including civil aviation; travel and tourism, including cultural and tourism; education and human resource development; event planning and organising; media and entertainment; sales and marketing related and several other allied services.

According to the blueprint in the first phase, 1 lakh unemployed graduates will be trained and inducted in the services sector. A similar number, including college dropouts, would be trained for entrepreneurial ventures. Since the project needs outstanding trainers, the retired defence personnel can be recruited to do the needful.

The Executive Director of ITFT, Dr Gulshan Sharma, claims that the total direct revenue generated by employing 1 lakh graduates in the first phase will be around Rs 840 crore year, and indirect and induced income will top Rs 2,000 crore, assuming an average income of Rs 7,000 per month per youth.

Similarly, 1 lakh entrepreneurial ventures will also be generating a similar amount of revenue. With the addition in direct employment and entrepreneurial ventures, additional indirect and induced employment for 500,000 people will also generate in the state as a multiplier effect.

Besides generating employment and entrepreneurship, the implementation of the project would also contribute towards improving overall economy and general infrastructure in the state. Dr Sharma said the copies of the blueprint would be presented to the Punjab Chief Minister shortly and the same would also be given to the Prime Minister and Deputy Planning Commission.


Grace marks galore for students
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 7
The Punjab School Education Board here has been found to have hiked up the pass percentage of its class X and class XII candidates by giving them across the board grace marks.

With 33 as the pass percentage, in some cases, the grace marks given were as high as 16, meaning thereby that a student who only got 17 marks out of 100 in a particular subject was declared ‘pass’. Those who got four marks out of 100 became eligible to appear in the supplementary examinations following the board’s magnanimity. The board’s large heartedness, however, did not end here. Candidates who appeared in the supplementary examinations later in the year were also given grace marks to help them pass.

This year, the board gave nine grace marks each, across the board, to all the science, commerce, arts and humanities candidates who had appeared in the annual class XII examinations conducted by the board in March, 2004. Other than these general grace marks, those candidates who had physics and chemistry as subjects got an additional seven grace marks each. This decision meant that a science candidate who appeared in the board’s class XII examination this year needed only 17 marks out of 100 in, let’s say, physics to be declared pass in the subject. Other than this, this student only needed 24 marks out of 100 in chemistry to be declared pass.

Also as a result, candidates who got only four marks out of 100 in physics or chemistry became eligible for appearing in the supplementary examination as a compartment case.

For all matric candidates, while eight marks each were given across the board to hike up the general pass percentage, three additional grace marks were given for English and eight additional grace marks were given for Maths. Since every candidate has both maths and English, in the end everyone got at least 19 marks as grace.

Almost the same pattern of granting grace marks was followed by the board following the supplementary examinations in September, 2004. Class XII candidates were given seven marks each in physics and chemistry and an across the board general grace of five additional marks. All the Class XII arts and humanities candidates were given five grace marks in the supplementary examinations and all the Class X students were given nine grace marks.

The board’s graciousness, however, did not go unnoticed. The Education Department, Punjab, has through a letter to the board Chairman, asked him to explain grace marks had been given to hike up pass percentage thereby bringing down the standards of the examinations. Sources said the letter pointed out that quality of school education was falling in Punjab and instead of making efforts to improve the situation, the board is trying to cover up the flaws in the system by increasing the pass percentage.

The board authorities, however, stated that grace marks had been given in accordance with a regulation laid down that allowed the Chairman to moderate examination results to keep these at par with the results of the preceding two years. Quoting the regulation, a board official pointed out that in case there is a marked fall in the pass percentage as compared to the preceding two years, the Chairman could order the modification of the result.


I’ll quit if proved guilty: VC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University K.S. Aulakh today said he would quit if single allegation of corruption or harassment of any teacher or employee of the university was proved.

About the alleged harassment of a whistle-blower in the seed scam, Dr Aulakh while addressing a press conference here, said he had been absolved of all charges in the said scam.

He said an inquiry conducted by an ADGP had stated that there was no such scam.


Bal Vigyan sammelan on Dec 12-13
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 7
The district-level Bal Vigyan sammelan, 2004, which was earlier scheduled for December 9-10, has now been postponed to December 12 and 13. The venue is still Government High School, Rajyana, said the Deputy Director Education (Secondary), Dr R.D.Sharma.

The sammelan will include competitions like science quiz and display of science projects.


Forum sounds off RBI about credit card ‘traps’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 7
The Forum For Common Cause has appealed to the Governor, Reserve bank of India, to intervene and stop `unethical` practices relating to credit cards being resorted to by many private as well as nationalised banks.

The President of the Forum, Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, in a written communication to the RBI, stated that many banks had deputed agents to lure people into the 'credit card with no extra charge ` trap with the result that many customers end up losing their money for no services rendered.

He said reluctant customers were prevailed upon to accept a credit card free of charge alongwith some incentives thrown in.

Thereafter , he claimed, the customers were sent bills in lieu of `administrative charges` , terms for which had never been revealed to them while accepting the credit cards.

Mr Walia requested the RBI to intervene and regulate this unethical practise.


Non-availability of resin chokes factory
Tribune News Service

MIRAN SAHIB: The government-owned Resin and Turpentine Factory here is virtually shut without any raw material for producing resin.

Nearly 160 employees of the factory have been sitting idle for the past two months as there is no raw material to produce rosin. The factory was not in a position to purchase the raw material in auction from the state Forest Corporation.

This town near the Indo-Pakistan border was once known because of this factory but its decline started in the early 1980s when the extraction of resin was completely nationalised and the work was taken over by the Forest Corporation. Thereafter, the factory started gasping for breath as officials of the Forest Corporation were reportedly more generous towards private resin factories in the state.

The factory was established in 1938 with an installed capacity to process 5,500 tonnes of resin annually. However, it received only about 1,600 tonnes of resin last year and the officials were expecting a paltry quality of raw material during the current year when the Forest Corporation has fixed a target of extracting only 6000 tonnes of resin to be auctioned to this and other private factories. The corporation extracted more than 30,000 tonnes of resin during 1974, workers of the factory pointed out. The two other government resin factories at Sunderbani and Rajouri closed down in 1998 because of the non-availability of raw material.

Following the intervention of the government, the Forest Corporation reportedly issued 1,100 tonnes of resin at Rs 18.20 per kg to keep the factory running for some time last year. However, another consignment of 300 tonnes of resin was given at the market price of Rs 24 per kg.

With its monthly wage bill of Rs 10 lakh, the salaries were paid to the employees after four months before Diwali. A senior employee said that it was not certain when they would get their salaries again.

This small town enjoyed fame owing to this factory before Partition as it was located on the road that led to Sialkot now in Pakistan. The resin produced in the factory found ready market in Lahore and other important destinations in Punjab.

The other famous Willow factory here has closed down and made way for a school for children of police personnel.


Small savings agents hold demonstrations
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 7
Small savings scheme agents of the Postal and Telecommunication Departments yesterday held a demonstration against the dictatorial attitude of the Postal Department employees. They held a protest rally through the main market which finally culminated at the SDM office. They presented a memorandum to Mr Jora Singh, SDM.

Mr Parvinder Goyal said that in the memorandum they had appealed to the administration to intervene in the matter. The agents alleged that the atmosphere in the Postal Department was not cordial for operating these services.

The department employees as well as officials concerned often misbehaved with the agents whenever they visited the office for any transaction.


Market panel gets new chief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 7
Mr Gurdial Singh Chatha, a confidant of local MLA Arvind Khanna, today assumed charge as chairman of the Market Committee here.

The function was attended, among others, by Mr Subhash Grover, district president of the Congress, Mr Darshan Singh Majhi, vice-chairman of the Zila Parishad; Mr Vijay Gupta, vice-chairman of the Market Committee; Mr Ramesh Jindal, District Mandi Officer; Mr Manjit Singh Sodhi, chairman, Bhawanigarh Market Committee; Prof Uday Partap Singh, social worker; and Prof Charanjit Singh Udari, Punjabi author.

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