P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Relatives of youths in Pak jails threaten immolation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 15
Perturbed over the alleged failure of the Central Government to ensure release of their wards, parents of the 76 youths Languishing in Pakistani jails, today threatened to self-immolate in front of residence of the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in Delhi December 20.

Earlier, the agitating parents and family members of 76 youths, who were still languishing in Pakistani jails despite completion of their detention period, blocked traffic near Bidhipur railway crossing on Jalandhar-Amritsar road for about one hour. Not only the affected families, but residents of the nearby villages too joined the protest dharna to express their solidarity.

The protesters raised slogans against the UPA government and the UPA chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, they alleged that the Central Government had failed to take up the issue with Pakistan government despite several assurances in this regard.

The two sisters of Pungarni village in Hoshiarpur — Vicky and Niranjan Kaur — whose brother Gurmeet Singh was languishing in a Pakistani jail for the past over two years, were seen crying. “We have not tied “rakhi” on our brother’s hand for the past two years. The indifference of the Central Government has ruined our life,” they rued.

Ms Kamaljit Kaur of Kalewal village, whose husband Surinderpal Singh was in Kot Lakhpat Rai jail for over one year, participated in dharna along with her in-laws.

Meanwhile, traffic remained disrupted for about one hour on the national highway resulting inconvenience to hundreds of commuters. The police reached the spot and pacified the agitating family members.

The protesters, led by president of Vishav Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, alleged that though their wards had already completed the tenure of detention in Pakistan, but the failure of the Central Government to take up the matter with Pakistan government about their release had further deteriorated the situation.

They said the detainees were being forced to eat sub-standard food. “So much so that the Indian Embassy in Pakistan is also keeping mum over the issue despite submission of several memorandums in this regard. Now, the youths have been observing fast to protest against the inhuman facilities in the jails,” Mr Bhullar added.

Mr Bhullar further said it was decided that one member of each affected family would felt-immolate in front of the residence of UPA chairperson Ms Sonia Gandhi on December 20. “It has also been decided to hold dharna at the residence of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on December 21 and the Union External Affairs Minister Mr Natwar Singh on December 22,” he added.


Short House sessions murder of democracy: Badal
Opposition walks out of Assembly
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Expressing serious concern over the shrinking Assembly sessions , the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, accused the Congress Government of murdering democracy by evading a debate on issues of public interest before leading a walkout by Opposition on the second and last day of one of the briefest sessions of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha here today.

Holding that the legislature was the right forum for debating common concerns besides important issues of wider public interest, he said that it was unfortunate that the government was fearing the sentiments of the general public and was running away from facing the Assembly.

Intriguingly, a former Deputy Speaker and ruling party legislator, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, too, expressed his grave concern over the issue, saying that “short sessions amounted to murder of democracy”.

The Assembly met for about 45 minutes yesterday and two hours today to pass five Bills in the absence of the Opposition legislators.

Earlier, there was an uproar when the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, had disallowed an adjournment motion tabled by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The Speaker held that since there was not a single specific issue, the adjournment motion could not be allowed. This infuriated the Opposition members, who created a pandemonium, moved to the well of the house, raised slogans against the government before staging a walkout.

“I want to ask the Chief Minister what are his government’s engagements or commitments because of which they have no time to sit with the elected representatives of the people to discuss issues of wider public interest. The Constitution provides the highest sanctity to the Assembly. Even otherwise, the way certain issues keep the government busy the whole year, it becomes all the more important that every issue of public interest should be discussed in all seriousness on the floor of the house,” Mr Badal said.

“But why are assembly sessions shrinking every year? There is chaos in the state which need to be debated upon. There are issues which demand attention of the state legislature.

“There is growing incidence of corruption and scams in public life. The present government had made numerous promises, including providing a transparent and honest administration . Instead, the government got involved in serious cases of corruption and scams from day one,” said Mr Badal, while referring to “disappearance of Rs 2 crore from the bank lockers of Mr Ravi Sidhu, hawala transactions of Punjab Intranet and letter of Leonard Freeke to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, scandalous recruitment of Deputy Superintendents of Police involving the Chief Ministers’ Office and its senior functionaries, massive irregularities in liquor auctions and special relief of Rs 190 cr in excise, electricity and stamp duty to Rana Gurjit Singh.”

The Shiromani Akali Dal president wanted that all the issues raised by him should be openly discussed. Apprehending any debate on these issues, the time for official business was limited only to one day.

Expressing serious concerns over scandals and scams involving the Chief Minister, his office, and his near and dear ones, Mr Badal said that he also wanted to attract the attention of the house to some major problems and issues facing people of the state, including non-availability of urea and DAP, non-payment of sugarcane arrears, unremunerative prices of cotton, poor power and water supply position, flight of industry from the state and no development.

Mr Badal said that the government was talking about privatisation of power sector. Intentions behind this move were dubious as the government wanted to favour an industrial house. Since big industrial houses have been looking after them, the ruling party members were either talking of handing over either Bathinda refinery or power board to these houses, he added.


Briefest session concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
It was, perhaps, Punjab Assembly’s briefest winter session that concluded today. All the business of the House, including the passing of five Bills, was over only in two hours and 45 minutes. The session began yesterday when it finished the business of paying tributes to various eminent departed souls and victims of the rail tragedy in 45 minutes.

Today the House met only for 2 hours. The first hour was consumed by question hour. And the second hour by slogans raised by the Opposition. Five Bills were also passed in the second hour.

Though the leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and ruling party MLA, Mr Birdevinder Singh, urged to extend the session but it was not done so. The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, said that there was no business for transaction and hence the session could not be extended. The one sitting of the House costs nearly Rs 75 lakh.

However, the Speaker, Mr Kewal Krishan, said that he would call a meeting to frame rules for fixing the number of minimum sittings of the House.


Citadel of democracy is crumbling, says Birdevinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
“Where should we go? Bureaucrats do not attend to our phone calls. They don’t even answer our letters. We can’t get a teacher posted in a government school. We can’t raise issues in the House. What other accepted channel should we adopt to make our voice heard? How should we prove our effectiveness as representatives of the people?”

This is how Mr Birdevinder Singh, a ruling Congress MLA and former Deputy Speaker, raised his war cry against what he described as the crumbling citadel of democracy in Punjab. One of the recognised brilliant speakers Mr Birdevinder Singh went to the extent of saying that it was a mockery of democracy that MLAs were unable to use their right to have answers of questions in the House.

Making a hard-hitting speech, never made earlier by any MLA, even of the Opposition in the House in the recent past, Mr Birdevinder Singh urged the Speaker to extend the session for some more days to provide opportunity to MLAs to speak on various issues. He asked as to what would be the fate of his questions and call-attention motions admitted in the House. He said that once the question is not answered in the House, then the MLA, who raises the question and other MLAs, also lose the opportunity to ask supplementary questions and raise points of order.

In fact agreeing with some of the points raised by Mr Birdevinder Singh, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, said that he also felt that MLAs should say what they wanted to say in the House. The Speaker said that MLAs should also take the initiative to move resolutions and raise other public issues in the House. In fact the Speaker was right because no MLA from the Treasury Benches except the two spoke on the five Bills passed in the House in a few minutes. The Opposition led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal staged a walkout when the Bills were being moved.

Mr Birdevinder Singh revealed before the House how the bureaucracy had put down elected representatives of the people. He said that he wrote as many as 232 letters to the Punjab Urban Development Authorities and other officers concerned of the state government regarding the ongoing agitation of farmers at Mohali in connection with the acquisition of their land but no one answered these letters.

“Only one Secretary took the trouble to send a reply once. And he did so only after the intervention at the level at the Chief Minister”. Speaking about telephone calls made to bureaucrats, Mr Birdevinder Singh said that there was always the standard reply that bureaucrats were busy in some meeting or were not in the office.” I have checked personally that officers even while sitting in their offices refused to take phone calls from MLAs”, he added.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said that he had moved a resolution on an important issue. “The resolution has been slaughtered even without having a small discussion on it,” he regretted.

Expressing his serious concern over the decreasing number of sittings of the House, Mr Birdevinder Singh said that it was injustice with Punjab’s people who had elected MLAs to be their voice in the House. The minimum tenure of the session should be fixed.

Mr Birdevinder Singh was heard with rapt attention. He was able to convey what Mr Badal and his other Opposition colleagues failed to convey in the House.


Home Minister urged to free Sikh prisoners
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 15
The president of the SAD (International) and former MP Mr Atinder Pal Singh, has urged the Union Home Minister Mr Shivraj Patil, to provide details of Sikh prisoners who were still in jails for their involvement in militancy related incidents in Punjab.

Speaking on the issue here today, Mr Atinder Pal said he had met Mr Shivraj Patil alongwith a five-member delegation of his party in Delhi yesterday. He said the Home Minister was convinced of the seriousness of the problem and had assured that favourable action would be taken in this regard.

Mr Atinder Pal said the delegation argued that Sikh prisoners of the militancy days had already been incarcerated for a period which was equal to the punishment that they would be awarded in case they were found guilty, so they should be freed immediately. “Law and justice demands that the cases against such prisoners should be scrapped”, he said.

The former MP said he also urged the Home Minister to rehabilitate the Sikh soldiers who had left their barracks in 1984. They should be provided economic and political assistance on the pattern being followed for the North eastern states under a special plan. He also claimed that the names of “blacklisted” Sikhs living abroad were not being cleared even though claims had been made in this regard by the government.

Mr Atinder Pal has also demanded the registration of cases against police personnel found guilty of staging fake encounters during militancy period in Punjab during his meeting with Mr Patil. He said the Supreme Court had recently held that as many as 183 such cases were fake. The former MP said even now the Punjab Police had not mended its ways with the Punjab Human Rights Commission recently declaring that as many as 90 per cent of the cases registered with it were against police personnel.

He said a judicial inquiry could be constituted to suggest ways and means to make the force more people friendly. He said in case this was done, the India would set an example in the international community and would also restore faith in law of the land in the minds of Sikhs.


Patiala police seeks militant’s custody
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
For solving the mystery shrouding the escape of “militant” Gursewak Singh from the clutches of the Punjab Police in Delhi, the Patiala police has decided to seek his custody from the Jagraon police.

Gursewak Singh was caught and taken to Jagraon less than two months after he managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the cops in Delhi in August. So far he has not been questioned by the Jagraon police about the modus operandi adopted to make good his escape. He was lodged at Nabha jail before he managed to break free.

The sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters now claim that Gursewak Singh’s custody was essential for questioning him regarding the role of the cops and other accused in the case.

Mystery had shrouded Gursewak Singh’s escape since the very beginning. The cops accompanying him had claimed that the alleged militant had escaped on the pretext of answering the nature’s call on the evening of August 23. Interestingly, the incident was not reported to the Delhi Police till the next afternoon.

Giving details the cops had claimed that they had taken the “militant” to Sabzi Mandi police station in Delhi after producing him before a court in connection with a case registered at Punjabi Bagh police station in 1998. They had added that Gursewak Singh managed to dodge them on his way back from a hospital where he was taken to after he complained of chest pain.

Initially booked by the police in approximately 40 cases, Gursewak Singh had been acquitted in at least 30. Chances of his acquittal in other cases due to want of evidence were “high”. Otherwise also, he had spent almost 15 years behind bars. Even in case of conviction, he would have been released as he would have served the sentence. As such there was hardy any justification behind his decision to escape. Gursewak Singh had allegedly managed to break free from police custody twice earlier also

Preliminary inquiry into his escape this time had revealed “gross negligence” on part of the officials escorting him. They were subsequently placed under suspension. A First Information Report (FIR) was also registered against one Kulwant Kaur. She was allegedly close to the “militant” and was providing financial assistance to him during his stay in the prison.

Meanwhile, in a report about circumstances leading to the escape — handed over to Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai — the inquiry officer had claimed that criminal action and placing all seven cops — on escort duty — under suspension was just not enough. They were required to be dismissed from service.


Strict action against kiln owners likely
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The Punjab Government is contemplating to take action against owners of brick-kilns who are charging high rates for bricks.

Speaking to The Tribune, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, said yesterday that he was probing the possibility of using Essential Commodities Act against brick-kiln owners who had been selling bricks in the black market.

He said that people were paying through their nose to buy bricks in the state.

He said that if brick owners were on strike then why were they selling bricks at such high rates. He said huge profits were being earned by brick-kiln owners.

He said that a number of brick-kiln owners, who had exhausted their stock of bricks, have called off the strike and started the brick manufacturing operations again.

“We have got reports that a number of brick-kiln owners were ready to lift the fly ash from various thermal plant yards”, he added.

He said that it was the court’s directive to brick-kiln owners to lift fly ash from thermal plant yards and to use it for manufacturing bricks.

The state government was just implementing the court order as it was a must. He admitted that rates of bricks had touched Rs 2,800 per thousand and it had become difficult for people to afford bricks at such a high rate.

“We are looking into various aspects of this issue and preparing to take some concrete action to provide relief to people affected by the strike”, he added. However, on the other hand, the Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners Association said that the state government did not fulfil promises made with association with regard to fly ash.

The association said that at a meeting held on August 23 under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, it was decided to set up a committee to carry out an in-depth study about the technology to be adopted and to study other related issues such as problem of the transportation of fly ash, labour problem, public acceptability, cost of coal and other operational difficulties etc.

The committee was to give its recommendations in eight weeks. The Punjab Pollution Control Board was to challenge the orders of the Delhi High Court regarding fly ash in the Supreme Court.

The committee was to also visit certain southern states to gather information about the manufacturing of bricks from clay and fly ash.

The association said that nothing concrete had been done in this connection and the problem had not been taken in the proper perspective.

The association said that a few kiln owners had started manufacturing bricks without using fly ash or with only token use of fly ash. They were violating the orders of the Delhi High Court.

The association has urged the Chief Minister to intervene to resolve the issue at the earliest.


Driver applied emergency brakes, but it was too late
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
The driver of the ill-fated Jammu Tawi express, which collided head-on with a DMU train near Mukerian yesterday, today claimed to have done his best to avoid the tragedy by applying the emergency brakes resulting in deceleration of the train from 85 km to 25 km per hour.

Under treatment at DMC hospital here, 56-year-old Harjinder Singh of Ferozepore said this was unfortunately not enough as the trains still crashed into each other leaving 38 dead and over 70 injured.

“I was taking the passengers to their destinations but that was not to be,” he kept on saying to his family members. This was revealed by his wife Paramjit Kaur and daughter Sandeep Kaur.

“It was because of a curve on the track that I and probably Avtar Singh, the driver of the DMU train, could not spot each other well in time, otherwise we could have done more to prevent the collision,” said Harjinder Singh while observing that the DMU driver did not seem to have reduced the speed of his unit.

Harjinder Singh was earlier this year honoured by the Punjab Government, the DRME, Ferozepore, and the Railway Ministry for avoiding a rail accident by his alertness, his wife claimed.

“It was the worst nightmare come true for any locomotive driver,” he said. “The most fearsome aspect of driving is the sight of a train approaching the same track on high speed from the opposite direction and we always pray that it never happens.” But for his ill-luck he had to come across this scary sight.

Harjinder Singh had remained trapped in the badly twisted engine of the Jammu-Tawi train for four hours before being rescued by the army men. Even while trapped inside the engine, he kept cautioning the rescuers that the gas cutters could cause fire and result in the loss of more lives.

His wife, Paramjit Kaur, said it was sheer providence that saved her husband. She was sitting at her home in Railway Colony, Ferozepore, when another employee broke the shocking news to her. Her son, daughters and other relatives rushed to the site and she kept praying at home.

Sitting by her side, Sandeep kaur, daughter of the driver, revealed that her father was talking to all of them despite the respirator on his mouth and directions of the doctors to talk less. He wanted to talk about how he felt at the sight of the train and how he spent four hours trapped in the mangled body of the engine, he used to drive so proudly.

Harjinder Singh’s condition was stated to be stable by the doctors. He was under observation and may require some surgery, if need be. He had suffered multiple fractures on his right leg besides injuries on his chest, which had bore the burden of the heavy metal on him.


Congress, SAD gear up for Chamkaur Sahib samagam
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur sahib, December 15
The Congress as well as the SAD are all set to prove their strength during three day samagam to be held at Chamkaur Sahib to commemorate the tercentenary of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

While the Congress is expecting party President Sonia Gandhi and several senior party leaders from Delhi to attend the samagam and address the gathering. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the PPCC president, Mr H.S Hanspal and other senior Congress leaders of the state will also attend the samagam.

The SAD is expecting four former Prime Ministers, including Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Vice President of India, the Chief Minister of Haryana and his two sons and Mr Omar Abdullah to attend the samagam.

Members of the youth wing of SAD are also taking an active part in organising various events. Young activists from all over the state will take part in a nagar kirtan that will start from Anandpur Sahib and reach Chamkaur Sahib on December 18.

However, both the Congress and SAD claimed that only religious functions would be held during the samagam and no political event will be allowed.

The local officials and members of the SGPC and SAD were seen giving final touches to the various projects. The SGPC is expecting 12 lakh pilgrims to visit Chamkaur Sahib during the samagam.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has decorated all historical gurdwaras’ link roads and markets in the town for the samagam. Hoardings displaying Sahibzadas fighting with Muslim rulers have been put up on various link roads from Mohali, Morinda and Ropar to Chamkaur Sahib. However, the district administration has not started the decoration of the city so far.

The state government and the SGPC have set-up separate media centres for the coverage of the various events to be held here. The SGPC has set-up a media centre at Sector-7 where computers with Internet facility have been arranged for mediapersons. It will start functioning from December 17. Similarly the Public Relations Department has also set up a media centre equipped with computers with Internet facility.

The district administration has began the erection of tents at Anaj Mandi for the pilgrims while the schools and other government offices will be vacated from December 19 to 21 to accommodate the pilgrims. Temporary toilets have also been built at various places. The SGPC has also set up tents in gurdwara Katalgrah Sahib, in Sector 7 and at various other places in the district.

The district administration has made arrangements to ensure uninterrupted power supply to Chamkaur Sahib. All schools in the district will remain closed on the samagam days.

Besides the Gurdwara more than 30 sites have been allocated for langars.

The streetlights on the link road to gurdwara where the main function will be held are not functioning for the past several years and have been causing inconvenience to the devotees visiting the gurdwara at night.


Custodial deaths: relief issue ‘under study’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
In a reply to a question asked by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal in the Punjab Assembly today, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that the matter to pay compensation of Rs 2.50 lakh each to the legal successors of 109 persons, who died in police custody during the days of terrorism in Punjab, was under consideration of the state government. The National Human Rights Commission had directed the state government to pay compensation in such cases.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, faced a volley of questions on the issue of pending cases of the Ashirwad scheme. Answering question on behalf of Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister for Scheduled Castes and Backward classes, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said that as many as 19,300 cases were pending. When asked by Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Birdevinder Singh, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder that how long would the government take to dispose of these applications, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said that these would be cleared by the end of the current financial year.

Answering a question, Capt Amarinder Singh said that sugarmills would be made to clear the dues of farmers at the earliest.


BJP for probe into lathi charge on workers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 15
The district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday demanded a judicial inquiry into the lathi charge by the Ludhiana police on BJP leaders and activists on December 10 at Ludhiana. These BJP leaders and activists were going to stage a dharna in front of the office of the Ludhiana SSP to protest against the alleged police “excesses” and deteriorating law and order situation.

The district BJP unit has also urged the Punjab Governor to take action against ‘erring’ police officers and officials.

A deputation of the district unit of the BJP, comprising Mr Satwant Singh, president; Mr K.K. Maudgil, vice-president; Mr Prem Gugnani and Mr Jogi Ram, general secretaries; Mr Manjit Singh, president of the BJP SC Morcha, and others, today submitted a memorandum in support of their demands to Mr Charndev Singh Mann, Assistant Commissioner (General), Sangrur, in his office here to forward the same to the Punjab Governor.


CPI activists gherao police station
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 15
Hundreds of CPI activists today gheraoed Sarai Amanat Khan police station located near the Indo-Pak border in protest against the failure of registering a case against the husband of Surjit Kaur and her in-laws.

The CPI activists criticised the role of Mr. Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP, for his alleged partisan act to hush up the case. The activists have served an ultimatum on the police authorities to register a case against the guilty. Otherwise, they would organise a demonstration in front of the office of the Amritsar SSP on December 21.

Ms Surjit Kaur of Rajatal village, who was married to Charanjit Singh of Bhangala village was allegedly being harassed by her husband and in-laws for bringing insufficient dowry. She was thrown out of her house along with her three-year-old daughter.

She alleged that her husband had got married to Harjit Kaur of Lakhana on October 20.The demonstrators led by Mr Devinder Sohal, member, CPI state council, held a dharna in the village where they condemned the police for failing to redress the genuine grievance of Ms Surjit Kaur.


Jathedar of Akal Takht in tight spot
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 15
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti is again in the tight spot for allegedly meddling in the affairs of the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD).

The veteran members of the divans alleged that Jathedar Vedanti had misused his power and directed to appoint its office-bearers without knowing the bylaws of the institution. Giani Mohinder Singh, a former secretary SGPC, and Mr Gurdip Singh Bhullar, a former member of the education committee of CKD, alleged that Jathedar Vedanti had no right to appoint a non-member as its patron .

The veteran members urged Jathedar Vedanti to be instrumental in holding the elections of the CKD as per its constitution.


PSEB employees’ strike today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 15
The Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Forum today announced its decision to go on a one-day strike tomorrow to lodge its protest against the decision of the state government to unbundle the board.

In a joint press statement issued, forum leaders said resentment was prevailing among the board employees against the decision of the management to recommend the unbundling of the PSEB to the government. They said that all stake holders, including trade unions of the PSEB, considered the unilateral decision of the board as betrayal despite assurances given in the past.

The forum further stated that the state government was bent upon unbundling the PSEB on the pretext of implementation of the Central Electricity Act, 2003, which is, otherwise, under review at the level of the Central Government. Meanwhile, the PSEB Engineers Association announced its support to the joint forum for strike.

The association condemned the decision of the government to restructure the PSEB in a secretive and non-transparent manner without involving the public, the engineers and the employees.


Youth told to go in for self-employment
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 15
The 45-day training programme for graduates in science and technology concluded at the Centre for Post Harvest Research and Technology (CIPHET) here today. The camp, sponsored by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, was organised by the NITCON.

Mr Balbir Singh, chief consultant, NITCON, motivated the participants to start projects selected by them during the training. He gave them tools and techniques of business and industries i.e. time and risk management according to goal setting advising to ignore that Abohar was considered a backward area. He referred to some young entrepreneurs who were little hesitant initially but were successful in their processing units here.

He told the young participants, “There was need for 3 Ds-decide, determination and devotion. Once you decide, then never look back. The British Prime Minister Mr Winsta Churchill had said think, think and think. When you decide, never go back”. NITCON has so far organised 271 such programmes and gave 3264 new entrepreneurs to small and big industries sector.

Mr Jaskiran Singh, SDM said Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary Irrigation and Horticulture, had inspired NITCON to organise seventh camp here to lead un-employed youths to self employment resources.

The camp covered opportunity guidance, leather industry, food processing, plastic industries, cereals, pulses, non-conventional energy based and small power generation units. There was ample scope for food processing units as kinnows, guava, aonla etc. was being grown in this area at a large scale.

Others who addressed the participants included Mr S.S. Bhatoa, AGM NABARD, Mr Bhim Sein Goyal, project manager and Mr Prince Gandhi, project in charge NITCON. A parallel three-month camp was organised for youths from the rural areas to train them in assembling inverters.

The trainees were taken to different food processing units also.


Yatra to seek Kanshi Ram’s release concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The yatra aimed at releasing BSP supremo Kanshi Ram “from the clutches” of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati concluded in Chandigarh today.

The yatra was organised by the Kanshi Ram Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. It started from Akal Takht, Amritsar, and reached the city in the evening after passing through Anandpur Sahib, Goindwal Sahib, Talwandi Sabo and Chamkaur Sahib.

“We got a massive response not only from supporters of Kanshi Ram, during our visit to every nook and crany of Punjab in these four days, but were also able to dispel the misconceptions and create awareness about the way Mayawati was acting,’’ said Mr Dalbara Singh, brother of Kanshi Ram. A meeting of the Punjab state unit of the BSP will be held within a week to decide the future course of action, he added. Similar yatras would also be taken out in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to apprise the masses of the real issue.

His 95-year-old mother, Ms Bishan Kaur, who was tired after the journey firmly reiterated her demand that “Kanshi Ram’s custody should be handed over to the family so that they could arrange for his proper treatment, whether in India or abroad.” She alleged that Kanshi Ram was not being administered proper treatment at a renowned hospital as doctors were in league with Mayawati and would eliminate him.’’

As they sat on the dias at Sector 37 Ambedkar Bhavan here today, it became evident that it was not only a party’s struggle to get its leaders released, but a mother’s fight for the well-being of her son as she pleads for his release.


Udasi memorial function at Raisar
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 15
Sant Ram Udasi Yaadgari Trust International will host an Udasi memorial function dedicated to the memory of the late Udasi — a revolutionary poet of the Malwa region on December,18 at Raisar village about 15 km from here.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Pawan Parinda, member Executive India informed that this day-long memorial function would include a comprehensive programme, including the release of Udasi’s portrait, a souvenir, an anthology of selected poems of Udasi, and audio cassette recordings of his voice. Plays of Mr Gursharan Singh of TV serial Bhai Manna Singh fame and Mr Ajmer Singh Aulakh, two celebrated Punjabi playwrights of Punjab would be enacted to mark the day.

Mr Parinda said Mr Darshan Khatkar, Mr Jaswinder, Mr Mohinder Pal Bhathal, Mr Ajit Rahi (Australia) and Mr Surinder Dhanjal (Canada) would be honoured at the function for their contribution to poetry and literature.


Extension counter for ex-soldiers inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 15
To provide ex-servicemen and their families with better facilities, the Chetak extension counter of veterans' canteen was inaugurated by Lt-Gen O.P. Nandrajog, at local military station here yesterday.

Addressing the veterans, General Nandrajog said it had always been the endeavour of the Army to ensure that a soldier should lead the post retirement life with honour and dignity. He said the counter had been set up to make certain facilities available to ex-servicemen of the region. He said that more such facilities would be planned for veterans in the near future. He urged the civil administration to respond to the needs of ex-servicemen and alleviate their problems.

General Nandrajog requested the seniormost veteran ex-Naik Kartar Singh, to inaugurate the canteen by cutting the ribbon. The canteen would cater to the needs of about 4,000 retired personnel of the defence services of the region. To give it a modern look, a self-service liquor counter has also been built and a grocery counter has been renovated.


Visiting Americans relish Punjab culture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Members of the American mission in Delhi , including Deputy Chief, Robert Blake, were treated to a feast of Punjab culture and folk here last evening.

The programme was organised by Mr Kewal Dhillon, vice-president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), where, besides the visiting diplomats, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, were also present.

Others who attended the function included Finance Minister, Surinder Singla and Rural Development Minister, Lal Singh, besides several other members of the Punjab Council of Ministers, senior bureaucrats and prominent industrialists and businessmen of the city.

Mr Robert Blake was also presented a ceremonial kit of the just-concluded Indo-Pak Punjab Games by the Chief Minister.

Impressed by the performance of the cultural troupe, Mr Blake and other members of the visiting delegation joined the artistes and guests in the bhangra.


Grewal denies allegations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Denying the allegations of cheating city resident T.S. Pannu, Mr D.M.S. Grewal today claimed that a false story had been cooked up against him and Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) S.S. Virk.

Mr Grewal — named by Mr Pannu in a complaint filed before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission — has added that the same was done because the complainant was expecting legal action against him.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Grewal has asserted that he was indeed related to ADGP Virk, but “had never sought any help or advise from him in the matter”.

He has further added that the complainant’s own antecedents were questionable. Several cases were pending against him.

He alleged that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had seized a truck of Mr Pannu’s transport company near Ambala in July 1998. It was carrying 274 gold biscuits. After conducting several raids simultaneously in Chandigarh, Amritsar and Mumbai, Mr Pannu and other were arrested.

Mr Pannu had earlier accused Mr Virk of threatening and pressuring him to settle dispute with his relatives.


23 students hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 15
Today, early in the morning a school bus of the local Nankana Sahib Public School carrying about 40 schoolchildren overturned near Gehlewal village, 5 km from here, resulting in 23 children receiving injuries, some simple and some grievous. One seriously injured student was referred to a hospital in Ludhiana.

According to reports, the bus driver had lost control on the vehicle. A milk tanker reached the spot after 25 minutes and its driver brought the students to the local Civil Hospital where they were given first aid.

Dr Satinder Singh and Dr Shashi Kant said the seriously injured student, Shubhpreet Kaur, had been referred to the CMC, Ludhiana.

The injured students are: Harpreet Kaur, Amrinder Singh, Prabhjot Kaur, Devinder Kaur, Shubhpreet Kaur, Gurtej Singh, Amardeep Kaur, Sukhman Singh, Prabhjot Kaur, Shubhpreet Kaur, Paramvir Singh, Gulnar Kaur, Amandeep Singh, Arwinder Kaur, Yaadavinder Singh, Ramandeep Kaur, Sharanjeet Singh, Amrinder Singh, Bhushanpreet Singh, Sarbjot Singh, Kamal Kaur, Avtarpreet Singh and Khushil Kaur.


Music competition from Dec 22
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 15
As a prelude to the 129th edition of Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan, the Shree Baba Harballabh Sangeet Mahasabha has decided to hold an inter-state music competition for the upcoming artistes in the Devi Talaab Mandir complex here from December 22 to 24.


Bailable warrants against Vinod Khanna
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 15
Mr Raj Kumar Garg, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, issued bailable warrants against Gurdaspur Member Parliament Vinod Khanna today to secure his presence in a criminal case.

According to Mr J.K. Chopra, Assistant Public Prosecutor, on August 31, 1999, local Municipal Councillor Jang Bahadur Bedi along with 10 others attacked and restrained Mr Khanna to move in the area of four-marla quarters where he was going to address a public meeting.

The accused allegedly used force against the police officials present at the spot and also pelted stones and damaged the vehicle of Mr Khanna.

Following the incident a criminal case against 11 accused was registered under various Sections of the IPC.

During Parliament elections, Mr Khanna attended the court and sought his personal exemption, which was allowed by the court.

On the last date of hearing, the council of Mr Khanna moved an application seeking his exemption on the ground of ailment, which was disallowed by the court and directed Mr Khanna to appear in the court.


Warrants against Collector in land case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 15
The court of Additional Sessions Judge here today issued warrants against the Land Acquisition Collector of the Industries Department in a case relating to the compensation of land that had been acquired.

Information collected by The Tribune revealed that the state government had acquired some land to establish industries at the focal point here and the land of Mr Ramesh Dutt was also acquired for the purpose. Mr Dutt had filed a claim of Rs 31.32 crore as compensation for the same land.

The court had issued summons to the Collector in this case for November 19 but the officer didn’t appear in the court. The court issued fresh summons for December 15 but the Collector didn’t turn up at the court despite the fact that the summons had been served.

Taking notice of these facts, Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge, today issued warrants against the Collector asking for his personal appearance.


Sahibzadas’ Shaheedi Jor Mela: sale of liquor banned
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 15
The Chief Secretary, Punjab Government has deputed eight more PCS officers to assist the Deputy Commissioner here for the Sahibzadas’ sacrifice observance. Earlier two PCS officers were deputed.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner said the event would be purely religious.

The Deputy Commissioner added the administration had arranged free parking on all sides of Jor Mela. He said that there would be no sale of liquor during the event and carrying of weapons, playing of loudspeakers, swings, circus, skill games, amusement games, gambling stalls and sale of intoxicants has been banned.

He said that Public Relations Department would organise Light and Sound programme “Sirhind Ki Dastaan”.


Man commits suicide at religious function
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 15
Chandu Ram (28) committed suicide by shooting himself at a religious function outside his residence at Kalwasia village, near Sadulshehar, last night.

According to information, he was married at Khuyiansarwer, 14 km from here, on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road seven years back.

His wife having strained relations finally decided to settle at her parental house.

Chandu Ram was facing trial in a local court under the Dowry Prevention Act and other sections of the IPC.

Family sources said this caused frustration. He became an addict. Last night he allegedly came out of his house and shot himself.

He was rushed to the Civil Hospital but died on the way.

On Saturday, a resident of Jammu Basti had reportedly committed suicide as he was summoned by the investigating officer in a complaint lodged by his wife (daughter of a police head constable) under the Dowry Prevention and Atrocities on Women Act at Ferozepore.


7 booked for attack on cable operator
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 15
Aman Arora, president of the District Cable Operators Association, and six others have been booked by the police in connection with an attack on the office of a new cable TV network here. The others named in the FIR registered under sections 452, 427, 323, 148, and 149 IPC include leading operators Ajay Gupta, Raju Narang and Vijay Sharma, sources said this evening.

The action had been taken on a complaint lodged by Mr Vijay Kumar son of Mr Vasudev, a resident of Street No 1-B, here on behalf of Omega Cable TV Network.

According to the complaint more than six persons attacked the office of a new cable network operator, on the college road here last night. They had covered their faces with monkey caps. One of the workers, Om Parkash Dhamija escaped by locking him in the adjoining room but his Vijay Kumar was allegedly attacked with lathis and kirpans. He received some injuries and was rushed to the Civil Hospital later. Glasspanes and furniture were damaged.

The complainant alleged that the miscreants had taken Rs 35,000 from the office before escaping.

Initially it was said to be the handiwork of the business competitors. The newly established network had offered connections at Rs 100 per month with a choice among 50 channels. The others had recently announced through their local channel that each customer would have to pay a minimum of Rs 200 for one TV and 100 for additional TV on the same premises.

The old operators had boycotted Star Plus etc but the new incumbent had included Star Plus in the Rs 100 offer.


Ex-registration clerk held for tampering with record
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 15
Gurpreet Singh, former registration clerk, Sub-Tehsil, Kotkapura, was arrested today by the Vigilance Bureau for his alleged involvement in tampering with the official record and causing losses to the government exchequer.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda Range, said that when the accused was posted as registration clerk from June 2, 2003, to July 19, 2004, he had tampered with government record. He said that during the collection of fee for land registration, the accused made cuttings in the receipt books by overwriting and by using correction fluid.

The accused first made a receipt for the payment received and later changed the amount mentioned in the office copy of the same. In some cases, the accused made wrong entries in the daily cash book and deposited less money in the Treasury and thus caused losses to the government.

Mr Waraich said that a case in this connection had been registered under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, IPC, at the local police station. He said that Gurpreet Singh had committed a fraud of about Rs 2 lakh by making cuttings in the cash book.

He added that an additional loss to the government (about Rs 1,52,738) was also caused by the accused by collecting less fee from the people in land registrations.


One more held in abduction case
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 15
While the second accused wanted by the Dehlon police in a case of abduction of a minor girl of Jand village has been arrested the panchayat of the village of the youth has approached senior Congress leaders to impress upon the police to review the case and get the investigation done by an officer not below the rank of the DSP.

Sources at the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagraon, disclosed that Gurdeep Singh of Latala village had been arrested by the Dehlon police, which had earlier booked him, along with Lakhwinder Singh of Guram village and his wife Balbir Kaur, for allegedly abducting a minor girl of Jand village on the pretext of getting her married into a prosperous family.

Manjit Kaur of Jand village had accused the trio of abducting her daughter on December 7 when she was alone at home.

The police had earlier arrested Lakhbir Singh but Balbir Kaur is yet to be arrested.

Meanwhile, the panchayat of Latala village has approached Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura in charge of the Congress Kilaraipur, and asked him to impress upon the Jagraon police to review the case after getting the investigation made by an officer not below the rank of the DSP.

Mr Parminder Singh Latala, president of the Block Congress Committee, claimed that Gurdeep Singh was falsely implicated in the case.


Three hurt in assaults
Our Correspondent

Lalru, December 15
Three persons who sustained injuries in two separate assault cases in the last 24 hours were hospitalised in Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi.

According to sources, Rinku, a resident of Tiwana village, was allegedly attacked by Kulbeer Singh of the same locality this afternoon. The assailant reportedly took Rinku to an isolated place and attacked him with a sharp-edged weapon. In the attack, Rinku sustained injuries on the head and hand and collapsed on the ground.

Hearing his shrikes, the owner of a nearby dhaba reached the spot and rescued the victim. He was later admitted to a Dera Bassi hospital.

In another accident two motorcycle-borne youth reportedly attacked Mr Gurwinder Singh of Lehali village and Sukhwinder Singh of Toganpur village when they were sitting at a dhabha in Lehali village this afternoon.

According to the sources, the motorcyclists had some altercation with the two in the village in the noon.

The youth fled from the spot after the incident while the injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital.

The police has not taken any action in either of the two case.


One arrested with stag horns

Amritsar, December 15
The Customs Department yesterday apprehended Ikram Mohammad of Saharanpur with horns of stag at Wagah railway station. The accused was to board the Samjhauta express for Lahore. He was caught by customs officials. The horns, which weighed 17.5 kg, were mixed with dry ginger. A case has been registered.— OC


Teachers’ Bill evokes severe criticism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed five Bills, including the Punjab Pay Scales of Teachers’ Bill and the Bills pertaining to pay and salaries of the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker on the second and last day of the session here today.

The Teachers’ Bill has evoked severe criticism from various organisations of teachers, including the Government Secondary School Teachers Union, assailing the government move to slash their salaries by Rs 400 to Rs 600 per month.

The amended Bill envisages that teachers shall be entitled only to the pay scales of the posts held by them, which were granted under the Punjab Civil Services (Revised Pay) Rules of 1988 irrespective of their qualifications from January 1,1986, stipulating that nothing more than that shall be paid to them.

The new Bill also aims to restain courts from entertaining any suit or proceedings arising out of this Act. Thousands of teachers shall be affected by this new legislation.

The amended Punjab Legislative Assembly Speakers and Deputy Speakers Salaries (Amendment) Bill provides for a total of Rs 1,20,000 per annum as telephone charges against the previous provision of a maximum of Rs 10,000 a month.

The Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets (Amendment) Act will now provide for reconstitution of market committees within a period of two years from the supersession as these committees could not be constituted earlier due to parliamentary and other elections.


President’s award for 2 employees of Dhanaula school
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 15
Mr Om Chand, a social studies teacher and Mr Neeraj Kumar, a senior laboratory assistant, Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Dhanaula, about10 km from here, have been decorated with the President of India’s silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Mr Om Chand and Mr Neeraj Kumar have been awarded silver and bronze medals, respectively, along with a certificate of honour in recognition of their outstanding zeal and high quality of service rendered by them during the Census of India-2001.

Both of them received Census Silver Medal and Census Bronze Medal, respectively, conferred upon them by the President of India.


Police cool as students hot up stir at Punjabi varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 15
The Patiala police today again refrained from registering a case against the agitating students of the Punjabi University, who held a demonstration outside the main gate despite prohibitory orders to the effect .

More than thirty students were picked up from the 'dharna' site and taken to the Civil Lines police station where they were detained for most of the day. They were released at seven in the evening.

Sources said the police had decided to take a soft stand against the agitating students in view of the fact that many of them were to appear for the semester examinations tomorrow.

The police said the arrest of the students on the eve of the examinations might result in further disturbances on the campus and had decided to take the soft path.

Earlier also, the student leaders were picked up near the main gate of the varsity, on the eve of the World Punjabi Conference, but let off after taking a written apology from them.

The situation was set to get out of hand with the Punjabi University Students Confederation, under whose banner various students bodies were agitating on the campus, announcing that it would continue its agitation in case Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal did not fulfill the promise made to them.

Confederation leader Sukhjit Chahal claimed that the Chief Minister had assured to get the matter of suspension of four student leaders and other issues resolved after they had promised not to create any disturbance during the World Punjabi Conference and subsequent Indo-Pak games.

The students today gathered at the main gate of the Universtiy and despite attempts to stop them by the local police, they sat on a dharna in front of the gate and started raising slogans against the university administration.

Thirty-three students were picked up by the police and taken to the Sadar police station. They were detained there for most of the day before being released in the evening.

The student leaders ,who participated in today's dharna, included Sukhjit Chahal, Gurnam Virk, Swarnjit Singh, Kulwinder Chahal, Dharmender Patran, Bikramjit Jattana and Krit Grewal besides others.

The leaders claimed that the Punjabi University authorities did not let students participate in the World Punjabi Conference and that the university's Vice-Chancellor was continuing with his anti-Punjabi policies.


Institute students receive training
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 15
A number of students of the Sri Sikhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology here have been taking training in more than 350 companies in India and Abroad.

The main companies that have been imparting training to the students include the IBM, Quark Media House, HCL, Motorola, Infosys and the Cymer Electronics (London) Wipro, claimed Mr Avtar Singh, chairman of the institute at a personality development workshop, held at the institute premises here today.

He said the college placement cell had been working efficiently to provide jobs to all pass-outs of the college. The number of students who qualified the Indian Institute of Management examinations has also been increased. Earlier, Mr N.S. Julka (Training and Placement Officer) claimed that the pass-outs of first, second and third batches of the college have achieved 90.5 per cent, 85 per cent and 70 per cent placements in different sectors, respectively.

Impressed over the placement efforts of the college, guests speaker Brijesh Kumar emphasised the need to streamline the development of ones personality to achieve success.


Medical institute found wanting
Our Correspondent

Raikot (Ahmedgarh), December 15
The Directorate of Research and Medical Education, Punjab, and the Punjab Nursing Council have taken a serious note of “inhuman conditions” in the Bengali Institute of Medical Sciences here and the alleged exploitation of students at the hands of the management.

Following a charter of demands presented by first-year students of general nursing and midwifery to the Registrar, Punjab State Nursing Council, at Mohali on Monday, a team led by Dr J. S. Dalal, Director, Research and Medical Education, Punjab, and president, Punjab Nursing Council, visited the campus and the make-shift hostel of the institute today and found gross irregularities on the part of the management.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Dalal said the functioning of the institute was found to be much below the standards.

He said the institute and the hostel were being run in rented buildings. The condition of the hostel was pathetic.

“When we entered the hostel, it appeared as if we were going into a tunnel, without enough light and air to breath. The rooms were stinking. The number of beds and the strength of students suggested that the latter were made to share cots,” Dr Dalal said.

The humiliating part was that girl students had to use toilets at a filling station, as there were not enough arrangements for all students in the hostel.

The team found that the teacher appointed against the desired strength of 12 was not eligible for the post.

Dr Dalal said he would recommend stern action against the management of the institute.

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