P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder, Bhattal bury hatchet
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, have finally patched up. Both have decided to bury the hatchet.

Informed sources said Capt Amarinder Singh and Mrs Bhattal had lunch together in Motibagh Palace at Patiala on December 16 to sort out the differences.

Others present at the lunch were, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, and Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary.

Sources said Mr Singla and Mr Rana Sodhi had prepared the ground for a joint lunch between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mrs Bhattal. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and all issues were discussed in detail by the two.

Sources said Mrs Bhattal, Mr Singla and Mr Rana Sodhi drove together from Chandigarh to Moti Bagh palace. Capt Amarinder Singh played the perfect host to the three. He was receptive to the points raised at the lunch by Mrs Bhattal, it is learnt.

Actually, the turning point came during the World Punjabi Conference hosted by Punjabi University, Patiala. Giving significant importance to Mrs Bhattal, Capt Amarinder Singh, made her in charge of all important matters related to the conference.

During the visit of West Punjab Chief Minister, Pervaiz Elahi, Capt Amarinder Singh gave due recognition to Mrs Bhattal at all important functions organised for the visiting guest.

And then in the recently concluded winter session of the Punjab Assembly, Capt Amarinder Singh asked Mrs Bhattal to perform all important tasks in the House when he was away to visit the rail accident victims.

Earlier, Mrs Bhattal used to be completely ignored in the House by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Besides resolving the political issues, these leaders outlined the political strategy to be adopted to gear up the process of development in the state keeping in mind the next Assembly elections due in little over two years.

They also discussed the last Lok Sabha results, politics of various Akali factions especially of the one headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Among the salient features of the strategy chalked out by Capt Amarinder Singh and Mrs Bhattal are to improve the infrastructure in the state by widening the main roads and constructing railway overbridges etc.

The government is hopeful of getting Rs 800 crore from the World Bank soon. Second is to improve the infrastructure in the rural areas by providing adequate drinking water facilities and setting up a sanitation system.

Government is awaiting Rs 1800 crore from the World Bank in this regard. The third is to give a boost to IT and textile industry.

Big IT companies such as Wipro have settled a deal with Quark to take 100 acres of land from it. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has showed a lot of interest in Punjab and its top brass will hold a meeting with the Chief Minister either on December 21 or 22. Some other IT companies such as Infosys etc have also shown interest in the state.


CM chooses ‘Shell Shock’ for polo practice
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 18
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh who has shell shocked his political opponents, chose “Shell Shock” for his companion on the Polo field today surprised no body. The Chief Minister, who practiced on the field which has been created to initiate polo as a sport in the state today, will be seen in full action during an exhibition match to be held after the final of the Patiala Cup tomorrow.

Giving Capt Amarinder Singh full support today was his son Raninder, daughter Jaiinder and son-in-law Gurpal. Amarinder’s grandson Angad was his partner on the ground. Both ‘dada’ and ‘pota’ played for two ‘chukkars’ each in the practice match which was limited to four ‘chukkars’ instead of the regulatory six ‘chukkars’.

Amarinder remained the quintessential player on the field and even off it. He remained seated on an ordinary iron and plastic chair laid out for players on one side of the field during the break. Later, he took a medal of participation given to all players from Punjab Mandi Board chief Sant Ram Singla who admitted that he had come to the field to watch the Chief Minister on horseback.

In the match itself, the Chief Minister’s team, named Royal Blue was substantially weaker with he having a handicap of zero and his grandson that of minus two. On the other hand the Yellow Gold team had players with a handicap of one and Major Manoj Dewan had a handicap of two. This was reflected in the score too with the Chief Minister’s team being able to score only three goals against the five scored by the rival team.

Amarinder took to the field in the first and third ‘chukkar’ wearing a green T-shirt and a fawn coloured half sleeve jacket. Though he was galloping most of the time, trying to adjust to the rhythm of the army pony “Shell Shock”, he took a few shots also. However, he could not score for his team.

The Chief Minister will take to the field tomorrow in a two ‘chukkar’ exhibition match in which former players, including Col Rupi Brar, Lt Gen T.S. Shergill and Major Gen Kaka Sandhu will participate. This match will be played after the finals of the Patiala Cup which will be played between Sahgal Studs and Army Red teams.

Among the other players in action will be Shamsheer Ali of Sahgal Studs who is emerging as one of the best Indian polo players.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh disclosed that the Punjab Police riders would also display their trick riding skills tomorrow with the final match itself commencing at 2 pm.

The organisers have extended an open invitation to witness the tournament’s final and exhibition matches tomorrow.


Amarinder to meet Natwar
French action against Sikh students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that he would take up the issue of expulsion of three Sikh students from a school in France with External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh.

Talking to newsmen at the Polo Ground here where he had come to practise for an exhibition match tomorrow, the Chief Minister said he had taken up the issue with the Ministry of External Affairs earlier also. “Since the issue concerns Punjab we will seek an amicable solution again”, he said.

The Chief Minister also disclosed that he would lead a team of businessmen to Pakistan’s Punjab next month. He said the visit was being coordinated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). “They proposed the visit and I have agreed to lead the team”, he said.

Speaking about the state of equestrian activities, he said efforts would be made to improve them all over the state. Capt Amarinder said five equestrian centres would be established in Bathinda, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar. He said the centres would be run by an independent trust and would give free training to youngsters.


PM for sending MLAs to China
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has suggested that MLAs of various states should visit China, which has made a phenomenal progress on various fronts.

Giving this information to The Tribune today, Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla said the Prime Minister had asked him to send MLAs from the state to see how China was marching ahead rapidly. In fact, the development model adopted by China had created ripples in countries like America where the economic growth was below 3 per cent.

Mr Singla said he was fully prepared to provide funds to facilitate the visits of Punjab MLAs to countries like China which were setting up new standards of development. “Exposure to the developing and the developed world was a must for MLAs to give them first hand information about the new policies being adopted even by countries like communist China to achieve the growth level of above 8 per cent,” said Mr Singla.

For bringing major policy changes and to initiate drastic reforms, there was a need that MLAs should have some model before them of the countries which had gone for such reforms and policy changes. He said spending an amount of Rs 1 crore on the visit of MLAs would be a purposeful exercise.

The file pertaining to the visit of MLAs to various countries was pending with the Secretary (expenditure).

It is said that Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, an MLA and nephew of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of SAD, has not liked the idea of MLAs visiting various countries. However, most of the Akali MLAs are eager for the visit. The list of the names of Akali MLAs is to be finalised by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Certain Akali MLAs say Mr Parkash Singh Badal should clear the names of Akali MLAs for the visit at the earliest. The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, has asked Mr Badal to give the names of Akali MLAs for the visit.


Families of Punjabi prisoners in Pak plan agitation
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
The ongoing efforts and confident-building measures notwithstanding, families of Punjabi prisoners in various Pakistan jails have decided to start a series of dharnas and agitations including sitting in hunger strike in front of the houses of the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister early next month.

“We have been keeping the authorities informed about the plight of our misguided youngsters who have landed in various jails in Pakistan after their attempts to sneak into Europe or North America proved abortive,” says Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society.

There is a seven-member action committee which has been monitoring release of Punjabi youth in general and Sikh youth in particular from various jails in Pakistan after they complete their sentences.

The committee has threatened to block vehicular traffic at Dhilwan on December 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and follow it up with blockade of vehicular traffic on the National Highway No 1 near Beas on January 17 and 18. Further, there will be hunger strikes in front of the houses of the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister and Congress president in New Delhi on January 20, 21 and 22.

On January 29 there will be protest dharnas in front of the residences of the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers in Chandigarh for four hours each.

On each day of the dharna or protest rally, old parents, wives and children of Indian prisoners in Pak jails would support black turbans, black dupattas and black badges. In case, the protesters are arrested and sent to jails, they would start hunger strike in the prisons.

“Since both the Chief Ministers, Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Om Parkash Chautala, have been to Pakistan and most of the Indian youth languishing in Pak jails are from the two states, we have decided to hold dharnas in front of their houses also so that they can put pressure on the Union Government to make concerted efforts to get these youth released,” said Mr Bhullar.

He said that the action committee was anguished as to why India was not prepared to take back these “misguided youth” who had been lured by travel agents by promising them green pastures in Europe and North America.

He said that while there was frequent exchange of visits at all levels, no one was talking about these youth living in pathetic condition in various jails after outliving their sentences.


Need to correct historical distortions: Zaman
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 18
The Chairman of the World Punjabi Conference, Mr Fakhar Zaman, today mooted the formation of a Joint Commission in India and Pakistan for removing the distorted historical facts from the text books up to graduation level.

He was interacting with students of the Khalsa College for Women here today before returning to Pakistan.

Mr Zaman said the historical facts in the textbooks of both countries had been distorted with the passage of time after Partition by the people with vested interests. These persons, had poisoned the minds of new generations and had presented the villains as heroes. There was an urgent need to remove these distorted facts, which had caused a rift among citizens of the two countries.

He said he had taken up the matter with the Chief Ministers of both east and west Punjab during the World Punjabi Conference held recently in Patiala.

He said they had assured him that they would look into this.

He said Bhagat Singh, Madan Lal Dhingra, Udham Singh etc were all heroes of both Punjabs.

On the occasion he announced that Gurmukhi Punjabi had been made a compulsory subject in the post graduation in Punjabi in West Punjab. He said it would be made compulsory to clear the Gurmukhi paper for the PG degree.

The Chairman of the World Punjabi Conference said large scale exchange of delegations of students and faculty members was a must for clearing misunderstanding and for the growth of mutual friendship and brotherhood. He said “university, college and school level links between East and West Punjab would provide better education opportunities besides strengthening our relations”.

Mr Fakhar Zaman said there was some change in the attitude of hardliners and fundamentalists. He said they could not alienate themselves from the people who were now convinced that the war was not the solution for any dispute. Although the change was very small but it was a qualitative change, he added.

Answering queries of mediapersons, he said first there was a need to start Srinagar-Muzaffrabad bus service and exchange of people from that side of Indo-Pak border besides the resumption of trade ties between India and Pakistan through Wagah joint check post and easing of visa restrictions.

Mr Zaman said at present Pakistan had trade ties of about 6,500 crore with India which it was doing via Dubai. He said if the trade started from the Wagah joint check post it would benefit traders of both sides. He said there should be multiple visa facilities among SAARC countries. He also favoured the start of Amritsar-Lahore bus service.

He said the solution of Kashmir dispute should be as per the aspirations of Kashmir people.


Thousands take part in chetna march
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib/Chamkaur Sahib, December 18
Thousands of youths from all over Punjab along with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and SAD general secretary Sukhbir Badal began a chetna march from Anandpur Sahib to Chamkaur Sahib to commemorate the 300 years of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas this morning.

The march, which began about 8.30 am from Anandpur Sahib was led by Panj Piaras and Gursikhs beating the drums on elephants and Nihang Singh astride 200 horses. Hundreds of youths travelling by buses, trucks, cars and motorcycles followed the procession.

The “gatka” was performed by Nihang Singh at Kiratpur, Bhartpur, Ropar and Burmajra on the way to Chamkaur Sahib. People, who had gathered along the road from Ananpur Sahib to Chamkaur Sahib to welcome the procession, also organised langar.

Earlier, Mr Parkash Singh Badal addressed the youth who gathered at fort Anandpur Sahib. He appealed to all political parties to stay away from politics and organise religious functions at Chamkaur Sahib during the Shaheedi Samagam. He also urged political parties to jointly organise various programmes in the interest of the Panth.

Interacting with mediapersons Mr Badal said the Prime Minister, being a Sikh, had ignored the Shaheedi Samagam while former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee had made appropriate arrangements and visited Anandpur Sahib in 1999 along with his Cabinet ministers during tercentenary celebration of the birth of the Khalsa. “On the other hand, Manmohan Singh does not plan to visit Chamkaur Sahib. The government has failed to even complete the carpeting of roads leading to Chamkaur Sahib.”

He said the SGPC was the supreme body of the Sikhs and had to be taken into confidence by the government before making various arrangements. It was unfortunate the Congress had decided to organise different functions on this occasion.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said the march was organised to spread awareness among the youth about the supreme sacrifice of the Sahibzadas. She said the march was organised at Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa and Chamkaur Sahib which was associated with the sacrifice of the Sahibzadas.

She appealed to the youth to participate in the three-day Shaheedi Samagam at Chamkaur Sahib and Fathegarh Sahib.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said the administration had failed to make appropriate arrangements for the devotees. The SGPC had made arrangements for the stay of about 10,000 youths at various schools, colleges and other places at Anandpur Sahib yesterday they had participated in the march today.

Thousands of devotees, along with the Jathedar of Akal Takht and general secretary of the Haryana Akali Dal took part in the chetna march, which began from Poanta Sahib yesterday and reached Chamkaur Sahib at about 7.30 today.


Nagar Kirtan held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 18
Devotees are thronging Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib for the past two weeks from all over the world to pay obeisance on the martyrdom of younger Sahibzada of Guru Gobind Singh. Today a Nagar Kirtan started from historical gurdwara of Nau Lakha Village at 11 am. which is at distance of 25 km from Fatehgarh Sahib and terminated at Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara. It was led by youths on motor cycles followed by horse riding Nihangs who displayed martial arts.

Former chairman of Charnathal Market Committee, Harbhjan Singh, who coordinated the Nagar Kirtan, said that people from all over the district especially from circle Mulapur participated horses, scooters, car, trucks, tractor-trailer and jeeps in the 3 km procession . He said that Nagar Kirtan entered the Sirhind and passed through the main bazars of the town and terminated at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib after performing ardas.


Clarify stand on Ganga Sagar, SGPC told
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 18
Mr Megh Raj Mitter, president, Rationalist Society, Punjab, has demanded a clarification from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on Ganga Sagar.

In a press note here yesterday, Mr Mitter, asked the SGPC whether it considered Ganga Sagar a miracle pitcher.

According to popular belief, Ganga Sagar, a miracle pitcher, was gifted by Sri Guru Gobind Singh to the Nawab of Raikot.

When milk and sand is poured into Ganga Sagar, it retains the milk, while the sand comes out of the pitcher.

Mr Mitter said the Rationalist Society had great respect for the Sikh Gurus and the people who lent cooperation to them to fight injustice. But at the same time, the Gurus always preached against blind faith and miracles.

Mr Mitter said Ganga Sagar had been exhibited at various countries. But the funds collected during the “Darshan” of Ganga Sagar had not been audited. Being a watchdog of Sikh tradition, the SGPC should look into the matter.


Punjab farmers bring alive true trauma on screen
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
When victims of tragedy offer to live their own trauma on screen, the production is bound to be earthshaking. Otherwise infamous for farmers' suicides, Jagatpur village of Nawashahr will be now known for a different reason and a heartening one at that.

Nearly every inhabitant of this debt-ridden Punjab village features prominently in a path-breaking television production chosen for the national as well as Jalandhar Doordarshan telecast. One of the eight films to be shown in the special Punjab series beginning on December 25, "Koi Raah Disse" has been sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Produced and directed by G.S. Chani, the famous theatre artiste from the region, the serial reveals true-life stories of families who lost their breadwinners to outstanding liabilities fuelled by agricultural losses.

Among other writers whose stories have been selected for telecast on DD are Santokh Singh Dhir (for his story "Pakhi" set against the backdrop of terrorist violence in Punjab), Dalip Kaur Tiwana's "Bus Conductor" and another story of Gulzar Singh Sandhu.

Back to "Koi Raah Disse", filming tragedy was not an easy task, but the process became possible when G.S Chani held a community theatre workshop inspiring farmers' families to participate in positive discussions on possible ways out of the agricultural crisis. The villagers broke their silence only to discover that they were being made to interact with real life experts of agriculture who told them how to diversify best and how to break away from the rice-wheat cropping pattern that had stripped the land of its nutrient base.

For the families, the process was cathartic, more so for the wife of one of the dead farmers. In the lead role, she takes on the charge of her fields after her husband kills himself.

The story prominently features two brothers from Jagatpur who are unable to clear their mounting debts. Lured by foreign shores, they sell their land only to be duped by travel agents of both money and dreams. Suicide is the only option left for them.

The best part of the film is its focus on the role of women who volunteer to learn scientific farming methods to save their farms. They get together to attend camps on scientific agriculture and learn all about organic farming techniques which spare the land its richness, earlier lost due to excessive use of pesticides and insecticides. Not only do the women retrieve their lands, they also rejuvenate them by reversing the agricultural trends. The serial, shot very sensitively, bares their fears and aspirations in totality.

It ends on a heartening note, with farmers realising the power of community effort and scientific farming.

While "Koi Raah Disse" prepares to be telecast on 3.15 pm on Jalandhar DD this December 25, a preview of Santokh Singh Dhir's "Pakhi" was also held today at the Government Museum auditorium in Sector 10.

The serial, located in terrorism days, shuns violence and reestablishes the glory of Sikhism in a unique, awe-inspiring fashion. It brings alive the genius of Dhir, who won the prestigious Sahitya Aklademi Award for the anthology of his short stories that also featured "Pakhi".


CRPF jawan beaten up, looted on train
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 18
A CRPF jawan belonging to Gurdaspur recently became victim of looting incidents in trains.

Harjit Singh of the 39th Battalion of the CRPF, is now admitted at the Civil Hospital here. Harjit Singh, who is currently posted in Assam had got 15-day leave sanctioned after getting news of his mother’s illness. The boarded Brahmaputra Express from Assam on December 10 to travel to Gurdaspur.

Somewhere on the border of Assam as many as 15 persons entered his coach. They got friendly with him. However, as soon as Harjit Singh was alone with them in the coach, they attacked him with blunt and sharp-edged weapons.

Harjit told The Tribune that due to the sudden attack he lost consciousness and when he regained consciousness at New Delhi Railway Station he found that all his belongings, including a sum of Rs 20,000 and even the clothes that he was wearing had been looted. He was badly injured. He managed to reach Gurdaspur after borrowing clothes and money from some of his fellow passengers.

At Gurdaspur, Harjit, who was coming to see his ailing mother had to be admitted at the local Civil Hospital for treatment by his relatives. The behaviour of the local Railway Police authorities, however, added insult to injury. When he tried to lodge a complaint with the Railway Police authorities here, he was told to lodge the complaint in the area where the incident had happened. The civil police has also refused to register a case in this regard on the plea that it came under the jurisdiction of the Railway Police.


Rs 10 lakh grant for Mansar village
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 18
The Union Railway Minister, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, has announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the development of Mansar village in Hoshiarpur district, in recognition of commendable work done by the villagers in rescue operation after the head-on collision of trains at the village on December 14.

This was disclosed by Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, here today. He said Mr Manohar Singh Gill had apprised Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav of the help by the inhabitants of Mansar village, and he was very much impressed and announced the grant.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, had also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the development of the village for the extraordinary help provided by the villagers in the rescue operation. He said the grant had been received and it would be delivered to the Gram Panchayat on December 20.


Troop reduction in J&K right step, says J.J. Singh

Phagwara, December 18
Designated Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen J.J. Singh has described the step of the Centre to reduce troops in Jammu and Kashmir as a right step.

Talking to a group of mediapersons here late last night, he denied the speculation that the step to reduce the number of Army jawans in the valley could lead to increase in terrorist activities. He said the army was taking stern steps and working with greater vigil in the valley.

The General said the Indian Army was considered one of the best in the world and he was proud to become its head.

To another question, he said every soldier was first an Indian. “Nationality is the religion of any soldier of the Indian Army. I will actively work for national unity, integration and security of the nation, which is the top priority of every jawan,” he added. — UNI


Shaheedi Jor Mela: CM overseeing arrangements
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 18
The government is making all efforts to celebrate the 300th martyrdom anniversary of the four sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is personally supervising the arrangements in this connection.

This was stated by Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Chief Minister, at a meeting with party representatives and workers here yesterday. She said that the Congress party was whole heartedly participating in various functions being organised in this regard.

Mr Amarjit Singh Saini, president of the Ropar unit of the party, apprised the gathering of the arrangments being made by the Congress party for the celebrations.

Those present at the meeting included Mr Sukhdev Singh Mangat, member of the District Planning Committee, Mr Mohinder Singh, member, Block Samiti and Mr Kuljit Singh Bedi, president of the local unit of the Congress.


Union Home Minister to attend Shaheedi Jor Mela
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 18
The Deputy Commissioner here has confirmed that Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil and senior Congress leader Ambika Soni along with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh would participate in the Shaheedi Jor Mela starting from December 24 and address the devotees.

The Deputy Commissioner said on the night of Bhakti Sangeet Sammelan dedicated to Sahibzadas would be organised at Giani Dit Singh Auditorium at BBSB Engineering College.

On December 24 Governor Punjab will inaugurate an exhibition depicting achievements of various government departments.

He said that Light and Sound Programme would be organised at Aam Khas Bhag by the Public Relations Department. He said that main attraction of the commemoration would be Marathon race from Chamkaur Sahib to Fatehgarh Sahib in which, veteran athletes including 95-year-old Fauja Singh, gold medallist, would also join.

Fatehgarh Sahib Deputy Commissioner, S.K. Ahluwalia, former minister Harmail Singh Tohra, Ranjit Singh Libra, Randhir Singh Cheema and 5000 devotees participated in the Nagar Kirtan.


Computers purchased but never used
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December16
It is the story of computerisation of the Health Department records that never materialised despite public money in lakhs being wasted for it. The Department of Health, Punjab, in 1992 purchased computers at exorbitant prizes in order to modernise their personal health and infrastructure management.

One computer for each district headquarters was purchased at the rate of Rs 1.81 lakh by the department in July, 1992. The computers were installed in September, 1992, with much fanfare. An approximate amount of Rs 1.5 lakh was spent in creating the infrastructure.

However, the computers purchased and installed did not function even for a single day. Reliable sources in the Health Department said at the time of installation a manufacturing defect was detected in the computers. The hard discs of the computers purchased at that time were found to be malfunctioning.

However, the department paid the entire cost to the dealer from which the computers were purchased without getting the defect removed. The result was that the computers were never put to use. Even now 12 years after their purchase the computers are lying packed in the offices of the civil surgeons of the respective districts. In the Gurdaspur civil hospital also one such computer was lying unused for the last 12 years.

The air conditioners put at that for the computers have, however, been put to use by the enterprising health officials. The sources said that in most of the districts the air conditioners meant for the computer rooms have been shifted to the residences of Health Department officials.

The Audit Department has raised an objection to payment made against the non-functional computers. However, since bigwigs were involved in the deal the objection remained in papers. No recovery or penalty was imposed on any of the erring officials.


Dental fortnight concludes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 18
As many as 136 dentures were disbursed free of cost among needy people in Jalandhar during the Dental Fortnight, which concluded here today.

The Dental Fortnight was jointly organised by the Health Department, District Red Cross Society, the Citizen Urban Cooperative Bank and the State Bank of Patiala.

Dr Ashok Sharma, District Dental Officer, said as many as 50 dentures were fitted to needy people in the Civil Hospital, while, in total, 136 dentures were disbursed.

In a function organised at the local Civil Hospital, Civil Surgeon Dr Kiranjit Kumar and Dr Ranbir Singh, Medical Superintendent, participated along with officials of the banks and those who received the dentures.


Canadian PM to visit Nawanshahr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Canadian Prime Minister is expected to attend three-day silver jubilee celebrations of Guru Nanak Mission Trust, starting from February 6 next year.

The trust is running a 250 bedded hospital, a nursing school and a college, besides a rehabilitation centre, in Nawanshahar.

A Primary Health Centre has recently been established by the trust in collaboration with Vancouver-based Canada-India Educational Society. The Centre, with a library containing 2,000 books, has as many as six laboratories.

It has also launched an in-house magazine with Bubbu Tir as the editor of the English section. Ms Tir has released her anthology “Surmayi Shaam”.

According to the Public Relations Officer Sushil Kaur, the foundation stone of the hospital was laid by Bhagat Pooran Singh in 1981.


Police prepares for Martin’s visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 18
Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, held a meeting with representatives of the Canadian consulate for the forthcoming visit of Mr Paul Martin, Canadian Prime Minister, to discuss the programme for January 15.

The Canadian premier would be accompanied by a 100-member delegation, including industrialists, businessmen, academicians, journalists and a distinguished galaxy of India-born Canadian Punjabis.

Mr G.S. Sobti of the Canadian consulate briefed the police and the administration about the programme. Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, is likely to receive the Canadian Prime Minister at the Rajasansi Airport. Later the VVIP guest would be visiting the Golden Temple.

The representatives of the Canadian High Commission in India and the Chandigarh-based consulate visited the airport and the SGPC offices today to finalise arrangements. The officiating Deputy Commissioner, Mr Parveen Kumar, also attended the meeting.


Rodrigues visits Western Command Headquarters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
The Governor of Punjab and former Army Chief, Gen S F Rodrigues(retd), today visited Headquarters Western Command Headquarters at Chandimandir, near here.

This is his first visit to the military station since he took over as the Governor about two months ago.

Visiting Chandimandir was a homecoming for the Governor as he was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Command from November, 1989, to June, 1990, before his elevation as Chief of the Army Staff.

On his arrival at Command Headquarters, the Governor was received by the GOC-in-C, Lieut-Gen J J Singh and was presented a Guard of Honour by a contingent from 15 Garhwal Rifles.

General Rodrigues had an informal interaction with General J J Singh in his office and was briefed on operational and administrative matters by senior staff officers. He also met officers posted at the Command Headquarters and reminiscenced about his tenure at Chandimandir.

He was later conducted around the Military Station and shown the changes and improvements that have taken place since he had relinquished charge as the Western Army Commander.


MVC awardee cremated with honours
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 18
Mahavir Chakra awardee of 1965 Indo-Pak war and a former DIG of the Border Security Force, Col G.S. Sangha (82), passed away here yesterday.

He was cremated with full military honours this afternoon. High ranking officers of the Army and the BSF were present as his body was taken for cremation from his residence at Defence Colony.

Colonel Sangha was not keeping well for the past six months. Hs was suffering from a respiratory problem. He remained admitted at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, from where he was shifted back to Military Hospital, Jalandhar Cantonment, recently.

During the 1965 war Colonel Sangha was posted in the Jaurian sector. Describing her husband’s achievements, his widow, Ms Gurdev Kaur, said, “He had dominated the attack so well that the Pakistanis had put a price of Rs 50,000 on his head. They had wanted him dead or alive. For his act of bravery, he was chosen for the MVC on the spot”.

Having joined the Army in 1944, Colonel Sangha served for nearly 28 years till he retired in October 1972. He started his career with the Punjab Regiment in pre-Independence era and was later shifted to the Sikh Regiment. In 1956, he joined the Mahar Regiment.

After taking retirement from the Army, Colonel Sangha joined the BSF. He was posted as DIG at Hazaribagh but he quit the BSF in a year.

“That was not all. Colonel Sangha turned to become an educationist. He joined the managing committee of Doaba Khalsa Senior Secondary School and worked to uplift its four branches for the past nearly 15 years”, said his brother, Col S.P.S. Sangha, a retired Army officer.


Govt may sell jail land to raise funds
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 18
The Punjab Government has started contemplating disposing off the land belonging to its few jails to generate enough money for pumping the same to have new, bigger and modern jails where the facilities for the reformation of criminals could be provided.

Disclosing this at a press conference here this evening, Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Jails), said it was being estimated that more than Rs 350 crore could be generated after selling the land belonging to Central Jails, Bathinda and Jalandhar and this amount would be spent on constructing new jails equipped with all types of facilities.

He disclosed that two new jails based on the European model would be set up in Kapurthala and Nabha at a cost of about Rs 240 crore. A Malaysian construction company was being contacted to execute the project. Each jail would have the capacity to house 5,000 inmates and would be equipped with ultra-modern facilities needed for the convenience and reformation of criminals.

He admitted that at present most of the jails had ceased to be reformation centres as due to some shortcomings, the criminals were not reforming themselves there and preferred to rejoin the world of crime after undergoing their respective punishments.

He added that at present, the burgeoning population of undertrials and convicts was being catered to by 26 jails of the state, including central, district and sub jails. He added that two new barracks were being added in each jail to accommodate the rush of inmates.

Apart from it, the jail authorities had sought permission from the state government to give sanction for recruiting medical professionals and other staff on contract system to provide better health facilities to the inmates.

Before the press conference, Mr Birmi went around the local Central Jail and checked the quality of food being served to the inmates himself by tasting it. He then directed the jail authorities to remove the shortcoming found in the jail.


Employees accuse official of demanding bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 18
A section of employees working at the local Bacospin (a local cooperative spinning mill) today alleged that they had been living under abject poverty as they had not been paid salaries for the past 22 months.

In letters to the Chief Minister and Coop Minister, Punjab, at least 16 employees, who are members of the Samooh Karamchari Sangh, alleged that though the Punjab Government had deposited the required amount in the bank account of Spinfed, Chandigarh, for payment of salaries along with arrears, the same was being denied to them by the mill Bacospin officials, who had been demanding money in lieu of payment of their salaries. They demanded that the Punjab Government should make arrangements for payment of their salaries at the earliest and also transfer officials of Bacospin, who had been harassing them.

However, 10 employees, who are members of The Bacospin Staff Welfare Association, in a press note issued this evening claimed that the authorities had paid salaries to the employees of Bacospin and, hence, there was no dispute with the management. 


Diploma engineers vow to weed out corruption
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 18
The Diploma Engineers Association of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation yesterday came out against the alleged corruption being perpetuated by their senior officials and pledged to weed out corruption at all levels.

Mr Jaspal Singh Billing, president of the association, in a written statement issued, said senior corporation officials had been indulging in corruption. He alleged that they took bribe, which resulted in poor quality of works being executed. But the axe always fell on the juniors. He alleged some officials of the corporation, in connivance with revenue officials, had been taking hefty bribes and ordering renovation and remodelling of private watercourses on the expense of the corporation.

Citing examples, he alleged that the Managing-Director of the corporation had promoted one of the Assistant Engineers against norms for personal reasons.

He claimed that no action had been taken against one of the executive engineers who had purchased sub-standard PVC pipes for the corporation.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the association had resorted to the ‘honesty pledge’ as a section of senior officials had increased their “corruption percentage” from half-a-per cent to more than two per cent.

No senior official of the corporation could be contacted.


Mann opposes trust for Sikh varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today criticised the setting up of a trust by the SGPC to run the affairs of the proposed World Sikh University at Fatehgarh Sahib.

Mr Mann, while briefing the Press, said that by setting up a trust the SGPC would get delinked from running the university, which would be a bad precedent. He added that the SGPC would be loading its own people in the trust which would devalue the proposed university.

Mr Mann was in the town to agitate against the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was to appear in a court in connection with the alleged murder of her daughter Harpreet Kaur. However, neither Mr Mann nor any of his part workers, including press secretary N.P. Singh, knew that the Bibi had already obtained exemption from personal appearance in the case.

Hundreds of workers assembled at the main gate of the District Courts to agitate against the SGPC chief.

Mr Mann, who addressed a press conference at the Bar room in the court complex, said a negative message would be sent to the Sikhs throughout the world whenever the Bibi would be convicted in the Harpreet murder case. Mr Mann, who was flanked by Mr N.P Singh and the district president of the SAD (Mann), Mr Harbhajan Singh Kashmiri, claimed that the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, should not come to inaugurate World Sikh University as the SGPC, by forming a trust of private parties, had completely delinked itself from it.

He added that the trust would be run on the lines of the Paonta Sahib Gurdwara that was also being run by a trust, which was full of people who were disloyal to the Sikh community.


ADGP Bhatia invited for lecture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police Lalit Bhatia is expected to read a paper on anti-corruption laws in the country during a four-day seminar being organised in Kathmandu by the Delhi Productivity Council.

The seminar on “Excellence in organisation through effective vigilance” is scheduled to begin on December 20.


Station master remanded
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 18
A local court today remanded suspended Station Master V.K. Malviya to police custody till December 22 in connection with the December 14 train accident.

The Bangala Station Master was produced in the court earlier during the day by the Government Railway Police after his surrender yesterday before the railway authorities probing the crash.

In Jalandhar, Mr G.P. Garg, Commissioner of Railway Safety, who is probing the reasons which led to the Mukerian rail tragedy, today recorded the statements of the electronic controller and other railway employees at the Railway Rest House.

According to sources, the statements of Assistant Senior Signal and Telecommunication Engineer, Traffic Inspector, Signal Inspector, Inspector of Work (Construction) and Assistant Engineer (Construction) were recorded.

Mr Garg said the statements of Ram Lal, Station Master at Mirthal, now in custody, and driver of the Jammu Tawi-Ahmedabad Express Harjinder Singh, who was admitted to a hospital in Ludhiana, were very important to reach a conclusion.

Mr Garg said he visited the accident site this morning to assess the visibility to the drivers of both trains. “It was found that since there was a curve track for both trains, there was poor visibility for both drivers to avoid the accident,” he added. Regarding the statement of V.K. Malviya, Station Master of Bangala station, who had surrendered yesterday, Mr Garg said he claimed that he had got clearance from the Station Master of Mirthal station.

He said it seemed that there was a procedural lapse in the issuance of ‘paper line clearance’ between the Station Masters of Bangala and Mirthal from where the Jalandhar-Pathankot local train and the Jammu Tawi-Ahmedabad Express were given clearance.

About the paper line clearance system, Mr Garg said there was nothing wrong in the system itself, but it was yet to be seen from where the private code numbers were given to the drivers when there was no record of the same in the register.

He said he would submit his interim report by the end of this month and the inquiry would be completed by March 31.


SDMs may handle dowry complaints
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 18
In order to make the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, more effective, the state government is contemplating that all SDMs be dowry prohibition officers, so that they can handle complaints of dowry and submit their reports to the court without getting cases registered with the police, said Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Welfare, Child and Women Development, Punjab, while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He was here to preside over a meeting to review the scheme of the department with the Deputy Commissioner and other district officials.

He said the disbursement of old-age pension and other financial assistance to beneficiaries through the panchayat had not yielded good results as panchayats were not remitting actual pay receipts (APRs) to the department and crores of rupees were lying with panchayats, which sarpanches had not distributed.

He said all Deputy Commissioners were being asked to ensure that the money was not misappropriated by sarpanches.

He said under the Swyam Sadha Scheme, the Centre had released Rs 17.50 crore for meals to children.

This would cover about four lakh children in anganwaris in the state. He said the department was contemplating to serve meals to these children through community participation instead of contractors from the next financial year.

He said items would be purchased from government agencies and cooked and served through mothers to children. He said that mothers’ committees would start functioning in the state through anganwaris from next year.

He said Rs 56 lakh had been released by the Central and state government for empowerment of women in the state. As many as 4,000 self-help groups had been formed and of these 2,000 had started income-generating activities, which would lead to empowerment of women.

These groups were also being empowered to ensure that all children of rural areas go to school.


Drive to arrest kisan leaders
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 18
In a move to suppress the ongoing agitation of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahhan) against the auction of land of farmers in debt, the district police has launched a drive to arrest its leaders.

So far two leaders of the organisation, Mr Motha Singh Kotda and Ms Naseeb Kaur, have been arrested and sent to jail.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, president, BKU (Ekta-Ugrahhan), Bathinda, said the police had been arresting the activists on flimsy grounds.


Inside Babudom
Punjab Govt in no mood to fill posts through promotion
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
The Punjab Government is apparently in no mood to fill vacancies through promotions. Fourteen posts of IAS officer and 12 posts of IPS officer have been lying vacant.

Some of the vacancies in the IAS cadre have been existing since 1998. The rules make it mandatory for the authorities to fill 33 per cent vacancies by promotion.

This is not all. The Lok Pal’s post has been lying vacant ever since the death of Justice D.V. Seghal in December, 2002. As a result, at least 25 complaints against politicians, even government officers, are still pending. Worse, the pending inquiries cannot be completed as the staff attached to the Lok Pal’s office has over the years been withdrawn by authorities concerned.

The sources claim that the Punjab Government is seemingly “not interested in appointing a Lok Pal following apprehensions of adverse judgements”. They add that the government has all along been seeking directions for setting up of fast track courts for expeditious disposal of cases. But it has hardly done anything to appoint a Lok Pal. Interestingly, the appointment of Lok Ayukt and Lok Pal are included in the UPA government’s agenda, the sources add.

Giving details, they reveal that the number of vacancies in the IAS cadre will increase to 16 by the end of this year. Two officers are scheduled to retire on December 31 after attaining the age of superannuation.

The sources claim that the problem of backlog is virtually non-existent in case of IFS cadre. As far as the IAS and the IPS cadre are concerned, the government is still struggling to fill the vacancies after solving disputes pertaining to the clubbing of posts and seniority.

They assert that the process of getting state cadre police officers appointed to the IPS was initiated in June this year. It is being carried out in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Going into the background of the matter, the sources reveal that out of 12 vacant posts, eight belong to 2002. Two belong to the next year. Another two belong to 2004.

Justifying the delay, the sources say that dispute over the seniority list is responsible for it. They add that fresh seniority list has now been prepared and the vacancies are being filled in accordance with the relevant rules amended in July, 2000.

Giving details, the sources say that the vacancies, following the amendment in the rules, are not being clubbed and seniority list of each year is being prepared separately. Before the amendment, the vacancies were clubbed automatically.

The process of filling the vacancies in the IPS cadre is likely to take some more time as the names contained in the panel of officers are reviewed by a selection committee, comprising two UPSC members, the state Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police and the senior most Inspector-General of Police.


Johar to hold meeting on school affairs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
Punjab Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar will hold a meeting with the Principal Secretary of School Education and other officers on December 20 for discussing the state of affairs of schools in the state.

Among other things, vacancies of teachers, privatisation of primary education in urban areas, proposal for clubbing elementary schools and re-deployment of teachers in the primary, high and senior secondary schools, will be discussed.

Proposals regarding filling up of vacant posts of teachers after redeployment and rationalisation, besides provision of infrastructure, will also be taken up during the meeting.


Children sensitised on pollution
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 18
The Tribune Deputy Editor Amar Chandel today favoured check on pollution at the micro level in houses and streets for a better future.

Delivering presidential address at a public speaking competition at the State College of Education here, he said knowledge on pollution had been disemminated but people continued to destroy enviroment.

He urged students to think on how much smoke their scooter was belching. The speaker also lamented that for some spreading pollution was becoming a fashion statement. “Many youngsters use this to show their rebellious streak,” he said while urging everyone to do self introspection on the subject.


Freshers’ party held
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 18
A freshers' party was organised at Ambika Institute of Nursing here today.

Students took part in a number of events, including a Miss and Mr Fresher contest. Amandeep Kaur was declared Miss Fresher, while Samuel was declared Mr Fresher. The title of Miss Punjaban was won by Rainu.

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