P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Flying club instructor shown taking bribes
Tehelka expose halts flying operations
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 16
Flying has come to a grinding halt at the Northern India Flying Club here after a Tehelka sting operation released spy cam images of its Chief Flying Instructor Capt S.S. Kang receiving bribes for issuing a Student Pilot’s licence (SPL) without the requisite oral or cockpit test and also shockingly beginning the process for acquisition of a Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) by logging in flying hours without getting off the ground.

Tehelka has claimed that its team of reporters acquired a SPL for Rs 50,000 and another Rs 50,000 as an advance for obtaining a CPL from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The Tehelka team has recorded Capt S.S. Kang claiming that he will add a maximum of 60 flying hours per month for acquisition of a CPL depending on the inflow of the bribe money for the same. Mr Kang is also accused of sending the Tehelka reporter on a joy ride while he completed the paper work for grant of a SPL licence as well as a Flight Radio Telephonic Operator’s Licence. The Tehelka team of reporters met Capt Kang over a period ranging from November 2003 to July, 2004.

The expose has led to reports that Capt Kang has been suspended by the DGCA. However local GCA representative and Patiala aerodrome Senior Air Worthiness Officer P.S.N. Rao when contacted on the issue, said he had not received any communication in this regard. “I may receive some communication in a day or two”, he said admitting that the DGCA was contemplating action against Capt Kang. He said flying had been stopped at the Northern India Flying Club since yesterday.

There are two flying clubs in the aerodrome premises of the city. The Patiala Flying Club is already functioning erratically and has been non-functional since long because the DGCA has not cleared its Instructor for flying. The Northern India Flying Club was, however, running regularly since quite some time. Sources said right now around four to five students were registered with it for flying. These students are likely to suffer now as they cannot approach the Patiala Flying Club due to the stoppage of flying at their club. Besides non-use of aircraft, no flying means that all the maintenance and other staff also remains idle.

The Northern India Flying Club has been functioning in Patiala since 1992-93 after the Army authorities asked it to vacate the latter’s premises in Jalandhar. Since then it has seen itself in a good financial position despite all other clubs, including the Patiala Flying Club, finding it difficult to meet the salary expenses of its employees.

A CPL licence has become a prime commodity in the airline world. This is because of introduction of charter flights. Pilots possessing a CPL are usually taken as co-pilots on such flights directly after completing their course from the flying clubs.


Two police officers face land grabbing charges
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
Two officers of the Punjab Police — one IPS officer, who has served in Ludhiana as SSP and another DSP, now posted in a neighbouring district — are learnt to be under a cloud over the allegation of grabbing land belonging to one Dilbag Rai, who headed a religious dera in Jaspal Bangar village.

The police investigations following the allegations against these officers are said to have found their involvement. The land measuring several acres has now come within the urban limits and values crores of rupees. It is learnt that the two officers with the assistance of some property dealers sold a number of plots during a particular period of time. The fact had reportedly been corroborated by the revenue records where it was established that an unusually large number of land deals were registered during this particular period.

Dilbag Rai, who had since migrated to Canada, was allegedly subjected to torture to forego claim over the land. Several cases were allegedly fabricated against him at the behest of the two officers. Ultimately, he was left with no option but to leave the country. But he had made representations before the government, including the Human Rights Commission and the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, against the two officers.

Although the allegations of land grabbing were levelled against the then district police chief during his tenure, these took some time to be investigated. The sources revealed that there was no formal inquiry ordered into the case by the department, but the investigations had been carried out in an informal manner to establish the facts.


Khanna’s appointment as state BJP chief challenged
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 16
The ongoing infighting between Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and Punjab BJP chief, and Mr Tikshan Sud, a BJP MLA, in Hoshiarpur district has intensified on account of the recent challenging of validity of the appointment of Mr Khanna as a state chief of the party in the Court of the Senior Division Judge, Mr Kishore Kumar.

In his petition, Mr Vijay Sud, a close associate of Mr Tikshan Sud, said according to the constitution of the BJP, the state chief of the party could only be made from those party workers who remained primary member for 10 years and an active member for three terms. Before his appointment as a state chief, Mr Khanna had become party member eight years ago. So his appointment as state party chief was a violation of clause 4 of Section 17 of the BJP constitution.

Mr Khanna joined BJP in 1996 and was appointed as state party chief on October 30, 2003, which was illegal. According to the constitution, Mr Khanna has no right to issue any order, make any appointment or suspend any of the party office-bearer as the state chief.

On other hand 20 close associates of Mr Avinash Rai Khanna including, Mr Vijay Aggarwal, president, district unit of the party, Mr. Satpal Sareen, former president Municipal Council Hoshiarpur, Ms Pushpa Sharma, general secretary, State Mahila Morcha of the BJP, Mr Sanjiv Talwar, vice-president of the State Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, have recently submitted a signed representation to Prof. Rajinder Bhandari, a party observer for Hoshiarpur, against Mr Tikshan Sud and his associates for their alleged anti-party activities and to support Mr Gian Bansal, former cashier of the district unit, who was expelled from the party for six years for his anti-party activities.

They have also sent the representation to Mr L.K. Advani, National BJP, President Mr Madan Lal Khurana, In charge of the party affairs in Punjab, and Prof. Brij Lal Rinva, member state disciplinary action committee, and demanded action against Mr Tikshan Sud and his associates.


PSEB field staff go on strike
Lukewarm response in Patiala
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, December 16 
A large number of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees today did not attend their offices all over the state on a call by the PSEB Employees Joint Forum. Employees in the Secretariat here, however, did not go on strike and electricity supply was also not affected.

Reports received from various parts of the state indicated that the strike call got a good response from field staff but employees in Patiala, where most of its offices are located, attended offices. All thermal and hydro generation plants also functioned normally.

Board Chairman Y.S. Ratra in a statement here thanked all employees who attended their duties today. He said the strike did not have any impact in the Secretariat nor in the other Board offices situated here.

Mr Ratra said that the PSEB had made adequate arrangements to maintain regular power supply to its consumers throughout the state. He said that control rooms had been established at all zonal offices and these remained functional round the clock to monitor the continuity of power supply. He said a contingency plan had also been implemented to meet the power needs of the consumers.

NAWANSHAHR: As many as 2019 employees out of the total 2305 employees working in five divisions and 24 subdivisions falling under the PSEB Circle, Nawanshahr, went on strike on Thursday. The PSEB employees organised protest rallies in front of various PSEB offices in the circle and raised slogans against the state government’s move to privatise the board.

HOSHIARPUR: Employees of the PSEB Hoshiarpur circle, observed a complete strike on Thursday in protest against the proposed privatisation of the PSEB. They also demanded scrapping of the Central Electricity Act, 2003.

Mr Om Parkash, spokesman for the PSEB employees joint forum, and Mr Satish Chander, co-convener, Technical Services Union (Vigianik Kender) Punjab, claimed in separate press notes that PSEB employees at Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Faridkot, Bathinda, Muktsar, Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Ferozepore and Khanna observed a complete strike. Employees of the Ropar Thermal Plant, Lehra Muhabbat, Shanan Power House, Joginder Nagar also participated in the strike.

BATALA: All PSEB employees here went on strike on Thursday. They held a protest rally at the Amar Palace, Shastri Nagar, Batala, where two PSEB officers were functioning.

Mr Garvail Singh Balpurian, president, Gurdaspur District PSEB Federation, Mr Mangat Ram, president-INTUC-PSEB Employees Union, Gurdaspur, Mr Tirath Singh Bedi, president, Junior Engineers Council, PSEB, Gurdaspur, Mr Vinod Kumar, president, Technical Service Union, PSEB, Batala, and Mr Santokh Singh Punder, president, Technical Service Union, Batala, spoke at the rally.


PSEB staff go on strike
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 16
The strike started with a midnight demonstration at the combined office complex of subdivision No. 2 and No. 3 here. None turned up to switch off streetlights at 6 am. Hundreds of sodium vapour and mercury lamps, besides tubelights, were on during day on Thursday. The local Municipal Council authorities confirmed that revenue loss due to this might go to thousands of rupees, besides wastage of electricity.

A complete strike was observed at all four subdivisions of the Abohar circle, employees leaders claimed. Offices remained locked, cash and complaint centres were found closed.

The Technical Services Union, the Ministerial Services Union, the Junior Engineers Council and other organisations jointly organised a protest march after holding dharnas at all sub-divisional offices of the PSEB here on Thursday.


Strike by PSEB staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board observed a strike in the state to protest against the privatisation and disinvestment drive of the government today.

General Secretary of the Punjab Unit of All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Beant Singh Brar said that in all circles either 100 per cent or at some places 90 per cent employees remained on strike. Mr Brar said that employees would go on an indefinite strike if government did not meet demands of the employees.

The Punjab Unit of AITUC held rallies and the procession during the entire week to protest against the policy of privatisation and foreign direct investment in insurance, telecommunication and air transport.


War veterans still hope for pension
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 16
Mr Chet Singh of Gill Patti village of this district, who sacrificed his youth fighting wars in the pre-Independence era, has not lost hope for his pension. At the age of 100 he has been fighting for pension being given to other war veterans.

Mr Chet Singh, who managed to reach the venue of the war veterans meet organised in the local cantonment on the occasion of Vijay Diwas by Chetak Corps, narrated that as he had lost the documents concerned, which could establish the fact that he had fought wars, he had been denied pension.

Mr Nazar Singh of Sangat Khurd village in this district, whose leg was damaged in the Indo-Pak war in 1971 following a bullet injury in the Poonch sector alleged that he had applied for a power connection for his tubewell in the general category and had also deposited the required fee about two years ago, but was unsuccessful in getting it so far.

For Mr Sewa Singh, a sepoy, who fought World War-II, the battle is still raging. First he fought the known enemy but now he is fighting red tapism in the bureaucracy which has denied his pension on regular basis.

“I have been awarded a monthly pension of Rs 300 per month in lieu of my service during the World War when I fought in Singapore and Malaysia. Though I have been demanding that I should be given enhanced pension equal to that of ex-servicemen, the authorities concerned have failed to do the same,” he pointed out with disappointment writ large on his face.

Another war veteran, Mr Sohna Singh of Bhallo village of this district, who served the Army from 1941 to 1947, said pension was being paid to them after a gap of three to four months and he was facing great hardship in arranging money to meet his liabilities at this age.

Almost all war veterans belonging to Bathinda and Mansa districts, who managed to attend today’s meet, pointed out that they had been feeling insulted with the meagre amount as pension which was not enough to arrange even two cups of tea daily. They complained that they could not arrange their medical treatment with the amount being paid to them.

They pointed out though they had scarified everything for the sake of country, they were not being taken care of by the authorities concerned at the fag end of their lives. In his address to the war veterans, Major-General S.K. Jaswal, officiating GOC Chetak Corps, assured the veterans that the amount of the pension would be increased and they would also be given facilities like 75 per cent discount on domestic flights and 50 per cent discount on telephone rent. He said war veterans were as a part of the Army and would always be respected and remembered for their sacrifices.

The war veterans were also briefed on the Ex-serviceman’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and were informed that they and their dependents could get its membership. At the end of the celebrations of the Vijay Diwas, a “Barakhana” was organised.

FAZILKA: Vijay Divas was celebrated by Sudarshan Chakra Division at War Memorial of 1971 Indo-Pak war heroes, who had laid down their lives defending motherland at border village Asafwala, 8 km from here today. Major-Gen Arvinder Singh Lamba, GoC along with many others laid wreath on the memorial. Viday Divas is celebrated on this day to commemorate the victory of India over Pakistan in 1971 war.

The war memorial was constructed in 1972 by the citizens of Fazilka as a mark of respect to the supreme sacrifices Army men.


Vijay Divas celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala DC Tejveer Singh lays a wreath at the War Memorial in Patiala on the occasion of Vijay Divas
Patiala DC Tejveer Singh lays a wreath at the War Memorial in Patiala on the occasion of Vijay Divas. — Photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, December 16
Vijay Divas, marking the 33rd anniversary of the mass surrender of over 90,000 Pakistani troops stationed in erstwhile Pakistan to the Indian army, was celebrated with solemnity at a well attended function at the Army Station here.

Rich tributes were paid to the soldiers who took part in the 1971 war and brought laurels and honour to the country. Wreaths were laid by Major General Pradeep Khanna, GOC Headquarters One Armmoured Division and Maj Gen M S Chahal (retd) to honour and remember the valiant soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice during the war.

DC Tejveer Singh and SSPA S Rai also paid their respects to the soldiers on the occasion.


Work at Khalsa heritage complex at standstill
Tribune News Service

The prestigious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex (KHMC) building at Anandpur Sahib in a state of neglect
The prestigious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex (KHMC) building at Anandpur Sahib in a state of neglect.

Anandpur Sahib, December 16
Work at the prestigious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex (KHMC) project at Anandpur Sahib has come to virtual standstill due to failure of the Punjab government to shell out its share finds for further development. The Central Government, which was to bear one third of the expenses, has also postponed release of money till the state government gives its share.

It is learnt that in a communication from the Union Ministry of Culture it has been conveyed to the Punjab government that a team from the ministry would be visiting the project site to inspect the progress of the work.

An amount of Rs 79 crore has already been spent on the project. Work at the project was stopped about four months ago. The project, which required Rs 160 crore for further development, was in trouble as all agencies withdrew following failure of the government to arrange funds.

The state government agreed to release Rs 160 crore for the project but could not release a substantial amount. The government had gone for a term loan from PNB-led consortium of five banks in March 2004. A Rs 100-crore loan had been sanctioned in principle by the consortium of banks to the government but it could not be released in the absence of the requisite government guarantee. Sources added that the file regarding the requisite state government guarantee had been lying with the Financial Department of the Punjab Government.

The KHMC was inaugurated during the SAD-BJP regime to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa. The Panj Piaras had laid its foundation stone on November 22, 1998. Till now, the basic structure spread across 23,225 square metres includes a 400-seat auditorium, a library, and galleries.

The main agencies involved in the project include the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Larsen and Tuobro and Moshe Safdie. These agencies showed their inability to continue the work when the state government failed to release the amount required for the further development. The US-based Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie, conceptualised the complex in a 100-acre site in the foothills of the Shivalik ranges at Anandpur Sahib. The contract of Moshe Safdie who was hired at a cost of $ 1 million for the project, has also lapsed.

The Secretary to Union Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be coming tomorrow to inspect the progress at the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex project.


Ganga Sagar to reach Amritsar today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
The ‘Ganga Sagar’, a rare gift presented by Guru Gobind Singh to Nawab of Raikot, will be brought here from England by Rai Azizullah, member of Lahore National Assembly, tomorrow. It is being brought here for the first time.

The Ganga Sagar will reach Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, tomorrow morning from where SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders will bring it to Amritsar by a plane. It would be received by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, and senior functionaries of the SGPC at the Golden Temple.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, SGPC member, said the Ganga Sagar would be a great attraction for the Sikh sangat during the functions to mark 300 years of martyrdom of Sahibzadas. Mr Harinderpal Singh, SGPC member from New Delhi, said the Ganga Sagar was being brought at the personal request of Mr Badal .

In 1705, Guru Gobind Singh went to Macchiwara after leaving Anandpur Sahib. Certain kings refused to offer help to the Guruji as Aurangzeb was after the life of Guru Gobind Singh and members of his family.

When Guru Sahib reached Raikot (now in Ludhiana), Muslim chief Rai Kalah welcomed him. Guruji spent a few days with Rai Kalah. It was in Raikot that the Guruji received the most tragic news of the death of his two minor sons and his mother. The news was brought from Sirhind by Noora Mahi who was deputed by Rai Kalah for the sewa of the Guruji.

During his stay, the Guruji asked Noora Mahi to serve him milk in the Ganga Sagar, which was part of his personal belongings. Noora Mahi said his buffalo did not give milk and even if it did, the milk would not stay in the Ganga Sagar as it had holes.

Guru Sahib told him to utter the name of God and start milking the buffalo. To utter surprise of Noora Mahi, the buffalo gave milk and it did not leak out from the Ganga Sagar.

Before leaving Raikot, Guru Gobind Singh presented the Ganga Sagar, a sword and a Rehal to Rai Kalah.

Till 1947, the Ganga Sagar was displayed by Khan Bahadur Rai Inayat Khan for sangat who used to walk bare-footed at Gurdwara Tahlianaa Sahib in Raikot, Ludhiana district.

The present owner of the Ganga Sagar is Rai Azizullah Khan (the 9th generation descendant of Rai Kalah III). The Rai family have kept this sacred gift of Guru Gobind Singh with great respect and care for almost 300 years.


Book captures ‘corruption’ in SGPC, universities
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
After an IPS officer Swarajbir, who had enacted one-act play (Medni) on the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, a collection of short stories: “University of Lilliput”, authored by Amanpreet Singh Gill, is likely to create ripples in the academic and Panthic circles. In one of the stories: ‘Kudi mar kaun ?” (who is killer of the daughter?) he has exposed certain senior officials of the SGPC and universities. This form of literature, called ‘fact-cum- fiction’, reads that ‘everything is true about universities and the SGPC except names and dates’.

The author takes the reader to the country described in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The recent news about ‘fake-admission’ in Guru Nanak Dev University in which a Personal Assistant to a Dean and son-in-law of the then Vice-Chancellor also figured in one of the stories. Another short story talked about plagiarism carried out by one of the former top officials of the university who had also succeeded in adjusting his wife as lecturer by ignoring merit.

The author also ridiculed the repetitive and ‘low-level’ research being done in the university. The story, “Tigers in the University”, is about ‘jungle rule’ in the university where only manipulators could survive. Another story reflects the out-of-turn promotions and benefits given to the stooges of the then Vice-Chancellor.

He pointed out that the academicians who want rest are adjusted against Chairs established after the names of celebrity writers. Some pseudo scholars enjoy many high posts doing justice with none. These stories have become a metaphor which reflect the plight of higher education and research and deteriorated administrative situation in the universities.

Such a book highlighting university affairs has been written after a gap of three decades of the sensational novel “Imtihan,” authored by Surjit Hans. He had exposed many renowned scholars and administrators of a university.

Three stories deal with the alleged malpractices of the SGPC and bureaucratic approach of its functionaries, who use red beaconed cars. One of the stories exposed the corruption in the SGPC.


CCI takes up power issue with govt
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 16
The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has taken up the matter pertaining to the power cuts being imposed in the state with the Punjab Government to get exemption for the ginning and pressing mills from the same so that their production could not be affected.

Mr S.R. Mittal, Branch Manager, CCI, in a press note issued here today, said at present the ginning and pressing mills dotting the state were full with raw cotton to their capacity and hence these were having no space to store raw cotton more. He added that this situation had been created due to fact that these mills were not working on their full capacity due to power cuts.

He said not only the Punjab Government was requested to exempt the ginning and pressing mills from the power cuts, the CCI on its own had started hiring godowns to store the raw cotton after purchasing the same from the markets at minimum support price (MSP) for the convenience of the farmers. The CCI had also been shifting raw cotton from one market to other market to overcome the space shortage.

He added that the CCI had been purchasing the raw cotton at its MSP in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan apart from other cotton producing states so that farmers could be ensured better prices of their produce.


Police drive to check crime against women
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 16
Punjab Police will initiate a special drive to check crime and atrocities against women. Stating this, Dr P.M. Dass, Inspector-General of Police, Ferozepore zone, said here today that to start with, this drive would begin in Ferozepore zone from December 20 for which special training was being imparted to police personnel selected for the purpose. The drive will continue till January 20.

Dr Dass was addressing the Punjab police constables and other NGOs in the police lines here. Mr Hardish Randhawa, DIG, Ferozepore Range, and Mr Sudhanshu Srivastava, SSP, Ferozepore, were also present.

Dr Dass exhorted the police force to work with dedication, devotion and sincerity.

Dr Dass said police-sainik seminars would be held in the entire district headquarters under Ferozepore zone. The first such seminar will be held in Ferozepore.

He said police officials should make an effort to provide justice to society irrespective of caste, creed, colour and status. He said policemen should desist from sycophancy and unethical practices.

Mr Dass pointed out that policemen on duty during the night hours should wear only prescribed uniform and no unauthorised winter gear should be used as being practised by some. He also cautioned policemen against abnormal rise in drug usage by the force. Mr Dass also announced promotion for Mr Inder Kumar, ASI, to the rank of Sub-Inspector for his gallant effort to successfully scaling six mountain peaks in Europe during a mountaineering expedition.


Punjab police tie-up with Escorts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The Punjab Police has tied up with Escorts Hospital at Amritsar for treatment of police personnel and their families at the rates laid down by the state government.

The move will facilitate “100 per cent reimbursement” of expenses incurred by the officials on treatment at the hospital. The cops will be billed accordingly by the hospital staff.

“Initially, the cops will have to pay the entire amount directly to the hospital authorities from their own pockets,” says Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh. “But it will be compensated at a later stage by the state government”.

In addition to this, IPS and PPS officers can get themselves and their families treated at Escorts Hospital in Delhi without the fear of spending money from their own salaries. The collaboration follows Director-General of Punjab Police A.A. Siddiqui’s active intervention, Mr Kuldeep Singh adds.

The development is significant as reimbursement of medical expenses is limited to the rates fixed by the state government even though the personnel can undergo treatment at any government or private hospital. As such expenses incurred in excess of the limit have to be paid by the cops from their own pockets.

The sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters add that some of the personnel prefer treatment at private hospitals and clinics, instead of the ones managed by the government, but end up paying a huge sum from their bank accounts as “private institutes are expensive”.

They claim that in an attempt to get back the entire money spent in the hospitals and clinics, some of the cops were submitting representations and even filing writ petitions before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The sources assert that the new scheme will not only help them in getting treatment at Escorts Hospital without the apprehension of “paying through their noses”, it will also reduce litigation.

Going into the background, the sources add that for the purpose of collaboration several leading hospitals in the state were contacted by the administrative Wing of the Punjab Police under Inspector-General of Police Sanjiv Gupta’s supervision. The hospitals include Fortis in Mohali and DMC in Ludhiana.

After prolonged negotiations, the Punjab Police authorities managed to collaborate with Escorts for treatment of different diseases, including cardiac related problems.


Pak artistes for Harballabh sammelan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 16
Ustaad Tafu Khan, a tabla maestro and music director of large number of Punjabi films of Pakistan, and Pakistan-based vocalist Ustaad Hussain Baksh Khan of Sham Churasi Gharana are likely to participate in the 129th annual three-day Shree Baba Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan, scheduled to be held from December 24 at local Shree Devi Talaab temple.

It is for the first time since about past 20 years that Pakistani artistes are participating in the sammelan considered as the “Sangeet Mahakumbh” among the music-lovers’ fraternity. The participation of Ustaad Hussain Baksh Khan and Ustaad Tafu Khan would, however, be subject to the grant of visas by the Indian authorities even as both artistes have conveyed to sabha that they were hopeful to get visas.

While Tafu Khan is a renowned tabla player, Ustaad Hussain Baksh is a nephew of Ustaad Salamat Ali-Nazakat Ali of Sham Churasi Gharana, who, had been participating in the sammelan claimed to be the oldest festival of its kind in the world dedicated to Indian classical music. The sammelan is so popular with classical music lovers that certain persons from the UK, USA and Canada specially descend here to get themselves immersed in the musical flood.

According to Ms Purnima Beri, Mr S.S. Ajimal and Mr Om Parkash Seth, all senior office-bearers of the Shree Baba Harballabh Sangeet Mahasabha, a three-day “Shree Baba Harballabh Sangeet Partiyogita,” to be organised for budding artistes from December 22, would play as a prelude to the main event.

The sammelan will start on December 24.


Army closes colony’s gate, say residents
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 16
Eight house owners of Sant Colony on the outskirts of the city, who have built houses on erstwhile 'dera' land, today alleged that the local army authorities had forcibly closed an entry gate of their colony last night.

Residents G S Sidhu and Rifaqat Ali, besides others, said army personnel came to the colony last night alongwith a JCB machine and started to dig a trench at the entry point of the colony. They alleged that residents who tried to reason with the personnel were treated roughly.

The residents claimed that the gate was in use since the last four to five years when the colony came into existence and that it was only lately that the army authorities had claimed that the gate was on army land.

The neighbouring piece of land belongs to the army. The residents claimed that they had approached the local army authorities to complain on the issue but no action had been taken in the matter.

The gate has been closed with barbed wire and a army patrol has been put on duty at the spot.


Elahi expresses grief over train mishap

Chandigarh, December 16
The West Punjab (Pakistan), Chief Minister, Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi, today expressed grief over the train accident near Mukerian.

Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi has expressed his sympathies with the members of the bereaved families. He has prayed to the Almighty to grant peace to the departed souls and courage to their family members to bear the irreparable loss, says a state government press release here. — TNS


Chargesheet to three BDPOs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib December16
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today chargesheeted three Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs) of the district for failing to turn up at a meeting called to review the arrangements for tercentenary commemoration.

The officials are: BDPO Khera Arun Sharma, BDPO Sirhind Jatinder Singh Dhillon and BDPO Khamano Roop Singh.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, a report has been sent to the government regarding negligence of duty.


B.K. Gupta gets President’s medal

Ludhiana, December 16
For his outstanding performance during the census operations — 2001, Mr B.K. Gupta, Assistant Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, has been conferred with the President’s silver medal.

The award was given to him by the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues. TNS


Son of top official of GND varsity flees?

Amritsar, December 16
The son of top official of GND University, who had already hit the newspapers headlines, reportedly fled from the house today. The reason for his fleeing is still shrouded in mystery. — TNS


Chahal exempted from personal appearance
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today exempted Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, from personal appearance in the court during hearing of the contempt proceedings against him.

However, during resumed hearing on the case, the Full Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla and Mr Justice Surya Kant said that the exemption would not be applicable if the court required his presence on further hearings.

The Bench also gave time to Mr Chahal's counsel to file his reply. The case was later adjourned to January 4, 2005.

It may be recalled that Mr Chahal has been ordered by the court to explain his conduct during hearing of the petitions challenging the selections of the kin of some high and mighty as DSPs by the Punjab Government.

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

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

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

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


Revenue officers suspend strike
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 16
On an assurance of justice by the Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma, the circle revenue officers, including Tehsildars-cum-Executive Magistrates and Naib-Tehsildars-cum-Duty Magistrates of districts Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr, and ministerial and revenue staff, today suspended their week-long stir and resumed their work this afternoon.

The Valmiki community, headed by Mr Surinder Gikki, had also postponed its call for Phagwara bandh tomorrow.

Mr Verma today met the protesters inside the local Tehsil Complex on behalf of the Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, Dr Swaran Singh and announced that justice would be done to them. The protesters were demanding the arrest of Mr PS Passi, President, All India Anti Corruption Forum, and his aides, for using caste-specific language against Phagwara Naib-Tehsildar Seema Singh inside her office on December 6, besides threatening her by brandishing a pistol.

Mr Verma also declared that he had sought a report from Phagwara city SHO Gurwinder Singh about the pistol episode for initiating the process of cancelling the arms licence of Mr Passi. The SP(D), Mr Gurmit Singh, was also present on the occasion following Mr Verma’s assurance Mr Gurmit Singh Nadala, general secretary,Punjab Revenue Officers Association, announced the suspension of the stir till next Thursday. In case Mr Passi and his aides were not arrested,the stir would be resumed and taken to state level, warned Mr Nadala.


Case registered against district transport office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 16
A criminal case was registered against the local district transport office by the Vigilance Bureau on the direction of Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge-cum-Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) for its alleged involvement in number of bunglings made in the official record pertaining to the issuance of driving licences and registration certificates.

Official sources said a case was registered under Sections 467, 468, 471, 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act in the local Vigilance Bureau police station, today. The Vigilance Bureau would investigate the matter after taking the record in possession to identify the accused.

Mr D.S. Malwai had ordered the SSP, Vigilance Bureau, to register a criminal case against the office of District Transport Officer (DTO) and subsequently make investigation into the same to find out the genuineness of its record about two weeks ago.

Mr Malwai had passed this order when while dealing with four accident cases, he came to know that register of the district transport office was not maintained properly and some of the entries made in the same were doubtful.

In a letter written to the SSP, Vigilance Bureau, he asked him to make investigation to find out the fact that whether the entries in the register were being made on the basis of any genuine record after depositing the necessary fee or entries were being manipulated by the office of the DTO to help the persons claim compensation in accident claim cases by fabricating entries of old dates.

Against some entries, verification certificates had also been issued and that aspect should also be investigated to find out the fact that whether those verifications had been given in accident claim cases or not. If the verification had been given and the licence was found fake, the criminal case should also be registered against those persons, who had done the same.

Mr Malwai also found that the register was not having full entries. Some of the entries were without the signature of District Transport Officer and possibility could not be ruled out that photographs of some of the persons which had been pasted in the register was not of those persons to whom the driving licences had been issued.

“During trial of four motor accident claims cases, an official from district transport office, Mr Vivek Rattan, was examined. From his statement it transpired that he is not writer of this register and he has just brought the same for production purpose only. The register is not containing signature of the DTO. The register is alleged to have containing entries from 6691 to 7500, except four to five which are not signed,” he pointed out.

He added that entry number 6829 was made in the name of Mr Sadhu Singh, a resident of Goniana Khurd. Later on, the same entry had been made in favour of Mr Ujjagar Singh of NFL colony, Bathinda. Entries at number 7109 and 7110 were incomplete leaving the scope to enter any number of old licence.


CM blamed for poor conditions in schools
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
The Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, has blamed the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for the poor infrastructure in government schools. While answering query about shortage of the teachers and deteriorating education standard in government schools in the state, Mr Johar said he was doing his best to raise the standard of education and fill-up the vacancies, but Capt Amarinder Singh was not releasing the funds for development.

While interacting with mediapersons yesterday at Sahibzada Ajit Singh Academy here, Mr Johar said he had explained the problems of the students studying in government schools to the Chief Minister, but he had not released the required funds.

Mr Johar said there was an urgent need to provide good standard of education to the students studying in government schools as most of them came from poor strata of the society and with the increasing cost of education, it was not possible for the poor to send their wards to public schools.


SGPC plans college, museum
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 16
The SGPC will set up a college, a school, a museum and a children park at Chamkaur Sahib to mark 300 years of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh, the President of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said here today.

While addressing mediapersons at Bhatha Sahib Gurdwara, she said the SGPC had appealed to the local residents to provide proper place for these institution, she added.

She said that the museum would have photographs and various items related to the sacrifices of the Sahibzadas and Sikh Gurus.

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