P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM rules out early Vidhan Sabha session
New DGP, Lok Pal to be named soon
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Punjab will have a Lok Pal again, says the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, maintaining that the process of appointing a new Lok Pal is in the final stages of approval.

The office of the Lok Pal has been lying vacant ever since the death of the previous incumbent, Justice D.V. Sehgal, in December, 2002.

In 2005, besides a Lok Pal, Punjab will also have a new Director-General of Police. “We will not wait till the present incumbent, Dr A.A. Siddiqui, superannuates on January 31. Last time we had announced the appointment of Dr Siddiqui a few months in advance. This time, too, we will name his successor well in time,” said the Chief Minister.

Talking to The Tribune here this evening, Capt Amarinder Singh ruled out an early session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. “We will now have the Budget session sometime in February or March,” he said, maintaining that as far as the Nehra Commission report was concerned “I have to table it in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha because I also happen to be the Home Minister. Till then, this report cannot be released to the media.”

Looking back at 2004, he said it was a “satisfying year” as the state wobbled back to near normalcy.

“Our exports have touched a new high. This year we exported goods worth Rs 12,000 crore against Rs 4,000 crore during the first year of our government in the state. Exports last year were worth about Rs 6,500 crore.

“Besides, there has been an increased agricultural production of Rs 5,000 crore. This growth in economy is reflected in the steep hike in real the estate prices. It means people have money to buy real estate,” said the Chief Minister.

Talking about agriculture, the Chief Minister hoped that the Union Government would accept the Johl Committee report soon. “Land holdings in Punjab are shrinking. In another 10 years, agriculture will become unremunerative and we will have to gradually switch from an agriculture economy to an industrial economy.

“This year we expect new investments of Rs 10,000 crore as by the end of this month, we will have Rs 8,000 crore invested in the state. Our continued emphasis on industrialisation with focus on information technology as well as bio-technology would help us to meet our target of 8 per cent of employment. We have already sent a proposal for a national biotechnology park to the Centre.

“My main area of concern has been hydel generation. Glaciers are gone and there is very little snow in the catchment areas of our water reservoirs. We have to focus on power generation,” the Chief Minister said.

Lehra Mohabbat Phase II and Shahpur Kandi Dam are the two major projects which are on the priority list. The Punjab Government also hopes for early clearance for gas pipeline for the Doraha project.

Talking about infrastructure, Capt Amarinder Singh said global tenders for four of 18 corridors would be floated in January. The remaining would be done before the end of March.

Two World Bank-funded projects — Rs 800 crore on roads and Rs 1,800 crore on public health — water supply and sewage disposal — have started as the government would now concentrate on development.

“We are also hopeful that improved relations with Pakistan will help us to start bilateral trade with West Punjab. This will open vistas for growth and development for both Punjabs,” he said, adding that next month he may lead a trade delegation to Pakistan.


No privatisation of PSEB

“There is no move to privatise the PSEB,” says the Chief Minister after presiding over a meeting with senior functionaries of the Department of Power, Punjab State Electricity Board and other senior officials here this evening.

“We have assured the employees the state, besides watching its own interests, will also watch the interests of employees and consumers. “I do not know how the impression has gone about privatisation. The only thing we are open to is entry of private sector in power generation. As far as distribution and transmission is concerned, they will remain with the PSEB. We may go for trifurcation of the board to introduce healthy competition among generation, transmission and distribution.

“But there would be no private sector in either distribution or transmission. Interests of all 80,000 employees of the board will remain secure,” he added. The meeting was attended among others by the Power Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, and the Chairman of the Board, Mr Y.S. Ratra, besides the Secretary, Power, Ms Kusumjit Sidhu.


Shiromani Akali Dal to back INLD
Details yet to be worked out
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Though the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced to support Mr Om Prakash Chautala’s party, the Indian National Lok Dal ( INLD), in the Haryana Assembly election, Mr Badal is not clear yet that what sort of political arrangements should be made with Mr Chautala to contest the elections.

When quizzed on this today, Mr Badal failed to give any definite reply. He was not certain whether Mr Chautala would be asked to allocate certain number of seats in Haryana to enable the SAD to put up its nominees or whether the SAD candidates should contest on the election symbol of Mr Chautala’s party.

There are at least 20 seats in the Sirsa-Hisar- Ambala belt of Haryana where Sikh voters are likely to determine the outcome of the elections. Mr Badal said he would discuss the election- related issues with Mr Chautala shortly and only after that the matter would become clear. However, it was certain from his talk that the party had not chalked out a clear strategy with regard to the Haryana Assembly election except for making a unilateral announcement about extending support to Mr Chautala’s party in the elections.

Mr Badal had called a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of his party here to discuss the Haryana elections and other political issues.

Other leaders of the SAD say that Mr Badal can not afford to go against Mr Chautala in Haryana. When Mr Badal was facing a big crisis on all fronts in Punjab two years ago, it was Mr Chautala who stood by him and extended all support to his family.

At that time, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had made things difficult for the Badals, who had to shift the SGPC members to Haryana to win the SGPC elections.

Interestingly, while the SAD would be supporting Mr Chautala’s party in Haryana, the BJP would be opposing. Clearly exhibiting his failure in making the BJP agree to join hands with Mr Chautala’s party in Haryana, Mr Badal said today that he had tried hard but there was no positive outcome in this regard.

When asked that a strong section of the BJP in Punjab wanted to break political alliance with the SAD, Mr Badal said he would not sever political ties with the BJP on his own. If the BJP leaders wanted to walk out from the alliance, it was up to them.

Asked how would he get over the contradiction in his party’s stand vis-a -vis Mr Chautala’s party on the issue of the SYL, Mr Badal said even after taking an opposite stand on this issue, both parties could jointly contest the elections in Haryana.


SAD rejects Nehra panel report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Rejecting the report of Nehra Commission in Raninder Singh’ case, the SAD said today that it would file a case in the court in this regard. Speaking to mediapersons today, the President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the SAD would move the court against Mr Raninder Singh, son of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Badal said the Nehra Commission’s inquiry report was biased, one-sided and far from the truth. He said the commission was set up by the Chief Minister, whose son was involved in the scandal. Mr Badal said that the commission did not make any effort to record the evidence of Mr Freeke, an important person in the entire case.

Mr Badal said the Directorate of Revenue Enforcement should probe into the matter. When asked why the previous BJP-led government in the Centre failed to handover this case to the Directorate, Mr Badal, said one senior minister of the BJP in the Centre was under the influence of, Capt Amarinder Singh, and he created hurdles in handing over the case to the Directorate.

Meanwhile, the SAD has urged the government to withdraw the 5 per cent hike made recently in the electricity duty and 3 per cent hike in the stamp duty. The SAD had reduced the stamp duty from 12 per cent to 6 per cent whereas the present government has increased it from 6 to 9 per cent.

Mr Badal said on the one hand the state government was levying new taxes and on the other hand, it was giving exemption worth Rs 190 crore to liquor contractors on excise duty. He said the excise duty should be recovered from liquor contractors and it should be used to pay pension to old-age persons.

The SAD has decided to stage dharnas in Jalandhar and Amritsar on January 17 and 20, respectively, against the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government on the Raninder’s issue and other related matters.


Fissures develop in Ajnala Congress
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 29
The District Congress Committee (Rural) president, Mr Inderjit Singh Baserke, has recommended suspension of Mr Jatinderjit Singh, president of Harsha Chhina block, on the charge of creating indiscipline in the party, even as Major Rajbir Singh, chairman, Punjab Livestock Development Board (PLDB), today threatened to contest as a rebel candidate if the party ticket was denied to him for the Ajnala byelection likely to be held in February next year.

The PLDB chairman said he would have to bow to the decision of the voters of the Ajnala constituency who wanted him to contest. He said if the Congress ticket was given to his younger brother Harpartap Singh or anybody else then he won’t have any choice but to contest as an Independent candidate.

He, however, said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, was his leader but he won’t have any option but to accept the verdict of his supporters in case the ticket was denied to him. He claimed that of the total 13 municipal councillors of the Ajnala committee, six, including its president were with him.

Similarly, Ramdass MC and Panchayat Samiti would support him. He said the top leadership of the Ajnala constituency at a meeting had openly stated that they won’t accept any candidate other than him, Major Rajbir Singh added.

According to sources, the emergency meeting of the DCC (R) was held here following directions from Mr H.S.Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, who had conveyed his displeasure over the meeting of certain Congress leaders of Ajnala for projecting Major Rajbir Singh as the next candidate even before the decision of party high command.

Mr Hanspal had reportedly directed Mr Baserke to take strict action against those who wanted to create indiscipline in the party. Mr Jatinder Singh was among those who had attended the meeting presided over by Major Rajbir Singh.

While Mr Milkha Singh, Ajnala block chief, who was among those whose explanation was sought, gave in writing that he would support any candidate fielded by the high command, Mr Jatinder Singh refused to compromise on this.

It has been the history of the Ajnala constituency that many senior leaders who were denied the Congress ticket in the past had turned rebel during the Assembly elections. When Mr Harpartap Singh, younger brother of Major Rajbir Singh was denied the ticket, he had contested as rebel Congress candidate during the 2002 Assembly elections. Earlier, disciplinary action was taken against Mr Ravi Randhawa, who had later unsuccessfully contested the previous Assembly election from Ajnala. Now, this is the turn of Major Rajbir Singh to adopt a rigid stand.


Residents contribute to relief fund
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 29
Residents of the holy city belonging to various walks of life today come forward to contribute generously to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for providing financial help for the rehabilitation of victims of tsunami tidal waves in the southern part of the country in which thousands of persons have lost their lives.

The Indian Medical Association, Amritsar, on the directions of the national president, Dr L.S. Chawla of the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, sent a demand draft for Rs 42,000 as the first instalment for the purchase of medicines.

Ms Vimla Dang, honorary secretary, Punjab Istri Sabha Relief Trust, also sent a draft for Rs 20,000 to the PM Relief Fund.

The Punjab State Pensioners and Senior Citizens Welfare Association announced to donate a minimum of one-day pension to the kin of victims through The Tribune Trust and a Hindi daily. The association also decided to contribute to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.


DC cancels New Year function
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 29
Keeping in view the tsunami terror that hit southern states of India and neighbouring countries, Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, has cancelled the proposed function of the Services Club, Hoshiarpur, to be held on the New Year Eve.

At a meeting of the executive committee of the club here yesterday, Mr Tiwari appealed to all members of the club to donate at least Rs. 500 each to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for providing help to the families of the victims.

A condolence meeting of all heads of the government departments was also held today in which it was decided to donate one-day salary by all employees to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.


DC urges NGOs, staff to donate for tsunami-hit
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 29
The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, today appealed the residents, NGO’s, social organisations and educational institutions to contribute in the Chief Minister Relief Fund to help the victims of “tsunami” that hit the coastal areas.

She also appealed government employees to pay one-day salary for the help of the victims. Meanwhile the SSP Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, also appealed all the police personnel to contribute in the relief fund to help the victims.


Punjab to set up ITIs at 10 places
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, has decided to establish Industrial Training Institutes at 10 locations namely Mukerian, Kanowal, Khadoor Sahib, Partabpura, Shahkot, Jalalabad, Abohar, Nathana, Burar and Banarsi during the 8th and 9th five-year plan. This was stated by Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Industrial Training, here today.

With the buildings in most of these places almost complete, the department would now be handing over these buildings to private promoters on lease for 33 years to start training in vocational and other technical trades by early 2005, he said.

Punjab Infrastructure Development Board ( PIDB) has been assigned the task as it has the expertise to operationalise the government provided facilities through the participation of private sector. Feedback Ventures Pvt Ltd, on behalf of PIDB, invited the bids from the private promoters for taking these buildings on lease and the highest bidders were shortlisted. PIDB issued Notice of Ward to these promoters with a request that those who were willing to take these buildings on lease should submit the requisite bank guarantee of Rs 10 lakh. Those who signed the requisite bank guarantee signed the concession agreement today.

Mr Pandey said the department had also formulated a new project for imparting vocational training in the food processing sector. The Central Government is committed to providing a grant of Rs 50 lakh per institution. One institution per district is selected for the purpose.

Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, said the government would earn a minimum revenue of Rs 37.5 lakh in the form of fee concession by leasing out these buildings.


No PoW in Pak, claims Rangers
Pawan Kumar

Wagah, December 29
A 10-member delegation of the Rangers, led by Brig Sakhi Marjan, Deputy Director-General, arrived here today for the quarterly meeting with BSF officials.

Addressing mediapersons before the commencement of the meeting, Brigadier Marjan claimed that there was no prisoner of war in Pakistan as claimed by families of soldiers. However, he added that certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Pakistan were trying to find out such prisoners, if any, in the jails. He said various border related issues, including smuggling and construction near the border, would be taken up at the meeting.

When asked about the illegal constructions near the border on the Pakistani side, he said they were adhering to the international border ground rules, which have given clear instructions on types of construction within 150 yard, 300 yard and 1,000 yard of the border.

However, Mr Hemant Purohit, DIG, BSF, later on said these ground rules had not been operational since 1971 war. He said the BSF would discuss various issues, including increase in accidental crossings, trans-border crime and repatriation. He said the BSF had arrested 147 criminals in this year.

Brigadier Marjan refuted the allegations of smuggling from their side. He said they had killed six smugglers and arrested 11 persons. He said the Rangers had organised special campaigns, courses and workshops to counter the smugglers using modern techniques. He said narcotics were being smuggled by tribesmen living near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The other members of the Pakistani team are Col Ahmad Najib Khan, Col M. Qaisar Khan Tareen, Col Azhar Manzoor, all commandants, Col Syed Khushneed Hussain, senior staff officer, Lieut-Col M. Tayyab Azam, Maj Rehan Yusuf, Maj Saad Saeed Naik, all staff officer, and Maj Shaukat Hayat Siddiqui, a representative of the anti-narcotics force.

The members of the Indian team include Mr M.K. Chhabra and Mr M.K. Rajdan, both DIGs.


Punjab reduces public holidays in 2005 to 14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Punjab Government today announced that there would be only 14 public holidays in the state during 2005. There would be holidays also on all Saturdays and Sundays. During the next year, there would be 243 working days.

Besides, the government has declared 36 restricted holidays. Employees will be entitled to choose any seven holidays from the list of restricted holidays during 2005. In all employees will be entitled to 21 holidays during 2005. Of these, 14 will be public holidays and seven restricted holidays. There have been 36 public holidays during the current year.

The list of 14 public holidays is as follows: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh (Jan 5), Republic Day (Jan 26), Birthday of Guru Ravi Dass (Feb 24), Ram Naumi (April 17), Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjun Dev (June 16), Independence Day (August 15), Janam Ashtmi (Aug 26), Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2), Dussehra (Oct 12), Birthday of Maharishi Valmiki (Oct 17), Divali (Nov 1), Id-Ul-Fitar (Nov 4), Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev (Nov 15), and Christmas Day (Dec 25).

Of these 14 public holidays, to which all employees will be entitled, three will be on Sundays. The Ram Naumi, Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and Christmas fall on Sundays during the coming year.

The list of restricted holidays is as follows: New Year (Jan 1); Lohri (Jan 12); Id-ul-Zuha (Jan 21); Nirwan Divas of Bhagwan Adinath (Feb 7); Basant Panchami (Feb 13); Birthday Satguru Ram Singh (Feb 13); Muharram (Feb 20); Mahashivratri (March 8); International Women’s Day (March 8); Shaheedi Day of Bhagat Singh (March 23); Good Friday (March 25); Holi (March 25); Hola Mohalla (March 26); Guru Nabha Dass Jayanti (April 8); Baisakhi (April 13); Birthday of Dr B.R. Ambedkar (April 14); Mahavir Jayanti (April 22); Birthday of Prophet Mohammad (April 27). May Day (May 1); Sri Parshuram Jayanti (May 11); Budh Purnima (May 23); Nirjala Ekadashi (June 18); Kabir Jayanti (June 21); death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (June 29); Martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh (June 31). Birthday of Baba Jiwan Singh (Sept 12); Anant Chaturdarsh (Sept 17); Maharaja Agarsain Jayanti (Oct 4); Birthday of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (Oct 16); Karva Chauth (Oct 20); New Punjab Day (Nov 1); Govardhan Puja (Nov 2); Vishavkarma Day (Nov 2); Birthday of Sant Namdev (Nov 12); Martyrdom day of Guru Tegh Bahadur (Nov 24) and Jor Mela Fatehgarh Sahib (Dec 24, 25, 26).

On the Rakhsha Bandan day (Aug 19), government offices will open at 11 a.m.

Of the 36 restricted holidays during the next year, 13 holidays will fall either on Saturday or Sunday.

The decision to reduce the public holidays was taken at a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers. The decision has been widely appreciated by people who had to face lot of problems because of the large number of holidays.


A year of setbacks for Punjab Police
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Punjab Government’s three major decisions pertaining to the functioning of the Punjab Police were reversed in 2004 — two by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, one by the Central Government.

In a year of setbacks, the government had to face major embarrassment after it was asked to go back on its decision to post PPS officers on cadre posts. This was not all. The authorities came under severe criticism for appointing seven Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP) under the sports quota. The appointments were set aside by the High Court.

The candidates included Media Adviser to Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal’s son Bikram Inderjit Singh Chahal and Ferozepore’s Senior Superintendent of Police Harinder Chahal’s son Gulzar Singh.

The story of rebuff did not end here. The government’s attempts to retain Maharastra-cadre IPS Officer S.S. Virk in the state proved futile after the Central Government charge-sheeted him for staying in Punjab without authorisation.

The fact that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had personally requested authorities concerned in Delhi to extend his stay in the state made the matters more embarrassing.

Following the issuance of charge-sheet against Mr Virk, the race for the post of Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP) intensified among Punjab cadre police officers. Mr Virk was considered a strong contender for the DGP’s post. The present incumbent, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, is scheduled to retire upon attaining the age of superannuation on January 31 next year.

The police, however, made some attempts to streamline its functioning. Several posts were abolished. Others were redesignated. In fact, senior Punjab Police authorities ordered the abolition of three posts of Additional Directors-General of Police (ADGP) upon their falling vacant.

In addition, three posts of Inspectors-General of Police (IGP) and five posts of Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIG) were abolished. As many as 33 posts of Superintendent of Police (SPs) and 23 posts of DSPs were re-designated.

The intention was “to bring sanctioned posts in tune with the ground postings” and to “put an end to the earlier practice of adjusting the officers in different units for pay purposes while they were posted elsewhere”.

The cops also launched ‘Human Resource Information System’ for enabling top brass to know details of promotions, training, rewards and punishments granted to police officials, by simply pressing computer keys.

Techno-savvy Punjab Police authorities also introduced “smart identity cards” for the entire police force. The cards with “unique” identity numbers were expected to help senior officers in tracking down the lateral and vertical movements of police officials throughout their careers.

Appeal management system was also introduced by the Administration Wing of the Punjab Police. In fact, a software was developed for keeping track of appeals and representations filed by its officials.


Historical gurdwara seeks importance
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Khanuwan (Gurdaspur), December 29
An ordinary looking gurdwara located about 20 km from Gurdaspur depicts an important historical event in the history of Punjab. It commemorates “chhotta galughara” (massacre) of Sikhs at the hands of the Mughal army.

The mass massacre of Sikh warriors at the hand of the Mughal army took place in the district in 1846.

Mr Raj Kumar, president of the History Society of Gurdaspur and a retired Principal told The Tribune that the massacre occurred when Yahiya Khan was the Mughal Governor of Punjab.

As the Mughal empire had weakened, the Sikhs took advantage and resorted to guerrilla warfare against the Mughal army and cities. In an incident preceding the massacre in this district, a band of Sikh youths Entered Lahore, loaded their horses with bounty and slew those who had been instrumental in awarding punishments to Sikh captives.

The annoyed Governor of Punjab, Yahiya Khan, ordered immediate military action. Jaspat Rai, brother of the then Dewan of Punjab, Lakhpat Rai, led the offensive against the Sikh youths who had raided Lahore. Jaspat Rai was killed in an encounter at Rori Baba Nanak near Lahore.

This led to the beginning of military action against the Sikhs in April, 1846. Yahiya Khan and Lakhpat Rai personally led the offensive against the Sikhs. Thus began the military campaign spreading over a vast stretch of land from the hills of Basholi across the Ravi up to the Beas in Amritsar district.

Several skirmishes took place but the Sikhs were helpless against the artillery. Hundreds of women and children were accompanying them. At last they advanced towards Kanuhwan on the right bank of the Beas 10 miles south of Gurdaspur, where there was a thick forest.

The Sikhs faced many hardships there as they were surrounded by the Mughal forces. A mass massacre of Sikhs took place in villages near Kanhuwan as they were outnumbered by the Mughal artillery. The main massacre took place in Nangal, Karal, Lameon, Chawa, Kotli, and Sainain villages of Gurdaspur. All these villages now form a part of the Tibberi village cantonment.

Every year a mela is organised to commemorate the martyrs. Historians demand that the place should be given more importance by the SGPC and the government as it depicts an important event in the history of Punjab.


Gianiji’s village in a state of neglect
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, December 29
The native village of late President, Giani Zail Singh, Sandhwan, is a picture of neglect today. While his memorial is lying incomplete, a couple of factories, which provided employment to local youth, have been shut down.

According to sources, in 1997, the then Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, had declared in Sandhwa that a 78 feet long memorial would be erected in memory of the former President. He had also announced a grant of Rs 15 lakh for it whereas as per an estimate Rs 35 lakh were required for it. Though the Public Works Department had built the memorial, still it hadn’t acquired the planned shape.

A memorial trust, which was set up following his death, is looking after the memorial at present. His son, Joginder Singh, heads the trust, while Mr Ved Prakash Goel, is the general secretary.

Highlighting the present state of affairs, Goel said that though the government took an initiative to keep Gianiji’s memories alive, but it was no longer serious in maintaining it. He said that erecting memorials was not the only job of the government, but they should be properly maintained. He said the state government was yet to allot funds for the boundary wall, a gate, a library, and a big portrait of Gianiji.

Basant Singh, a retired teacher of the village, said that at the time of the death anniversary of Gianiji, the then Punjab CM, Beant Singh, had announced that a nursing and an engineering college would also be opened at the village, but nothing had happened. On the contrary, a spinning mill and an oil mill, which provided employment opportunities to thousands of youth, were shut after Gianiji’s death.

Even the scenario of rail and bus services is grim in the village. No bus or train stops at the village and the people have to walk some distance to catch a bus.

Meanwhile, a jail barrack in Faridkot, where Gianiji had been lodged for years during the freedom struggle, is also in a dilapidated state and hardly any efforts are being made to preserve it.

However, no district administration official is willing to comment on the issue.


Galaxy of stars to be part of DD’s New Year bash
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 29
A galaxy of stars including the Mumbai-based singers, Bhupinder-Mitali, Sonu Nigam and Sonu Kakkar, will be performing for the Doordarshan’s New Year programme, “Nachiye gayiye shagun manaiye”, which will be telecast on December 31 evening.

The one-hour cultural extravaganza will be simultaneously telecast on DD(Punjabi) satellite channel and can be viewed from 8.30 pm onwards in as many as 36 countries. All singers will be performing for the DD in Punjabi language. While Sonu Nigam and Sonu Kakkar of “Babuji zara dheere chalo” fame will be a part of the DD show for the first time, the couple singers Bhupinder and Mitali will be seen on the channel after more than a decade.

Giving details, Mr Jaswant Deed, Assistant Station Director, said Bhupinder-Mitali would be singing the title song of the show, “Nachiye gayiye shagun manaiye” to formally start the show in a traditional backdrop. Sonu Nigam would perform on the scintillating tunes of his latest Punjabi number “Dil vee tera ho gaya” while Sonu Kakkar will appear differently in her song “Mein kothe char ke nachi, nachi ve sari raat”, said Mr Deed who is the producer and director of the programme.

The heartthrob of Punjabis, Gurdas Mann, has used his typical style to depict the Punjabi culture and tradition through his new number “Manke...gal chandi de rupaye vaag tanke”. Sirdool Sikander will perform on his latest song “Bach jao mundiyo haan deyo”. Malkiat Singh will also be seen with his new number “Melan sap vargi” and Amar Noori will be singing “Mele ch nachdi da haasa”. Harbhajan Mann will enthrall the viewers with his “charkha”.

There will definitely be some light moments interspersed in the show with renowned comedians Bhagwant Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi who will share some jokes and give satirical remarks on the present socio-political structure of society.


Celebrity faces bad days
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 29
Yash Sharma (71), who has the honour to work with Amitabh Bachchan, Dharminder and many other stars in more than 100 Hindi and Punjabi films, is bed-ridden these days. Though he had suffered paralytic attack three years ago , neither the state government nor any artiste had visited his house to know his well being.

He is the one who had introduced bhangra in Khalsa College here and was captain of the team for many years. There was a time when no Punjabi film was considered complete without his role. He is the first actor who had worked continuously for four decades while remaining in Amritsar. While many other artistes from Amritsar: Rajesh Khanna, Dara Singh and Dipti Naval, shifted their headquarters to Mumbai, Yash Sharma preferred to stay back as he loves the city.

Yash Sharma suffered a major emotional set back when Varinder, most popular hero of Punjabi films in those days, was shot dead at Ludhiana about 10 years ago . He said after the death of his ‘most trusted friend’ he stopped visiting Mumbai. The second set back was when he suffered a paralytic attack three years ago.


Women’s involvement in crime on the rise
Rajbir Kaur Sekhon

Bathinda, December 29
A new trend in the crime scene in this district has been emerging as the involvement of women in committing murders and smuggling narcotics has started becoming visible prominently during the past few years.

The women of this educationally backward district, who used to remain within four walls of their dwellings, have started making their presence felt in this male dominated society but in wrong manner. They have murdered more than 20 persons and smuggled poppy husk, opium and smack to this region in the past three years.

About a decade ago, the women of this region, also known for their traditional shyness and use of veil over their faces, were confined to petty crimes like pick-pocketing and shoplifting. Over the past few years, the women have become more active in the world of crime and have not been feeling shy while committing heinous crimes.

The district police chief, Mr Kapil Dev, said today nearly 23 women were arrested for committing 21 murders in this district in the past three years. Not only this, 72 women were arrested for their involvement in narcotics smuggling. Fifty-nine cases under the NDPS Act were registered against them in different police stations.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that seven women were arrested in 2002 for their involvement in five murders. The number of women who were arrested in 2003 went to 11 for their involvement in 10 murders. Till November 30 this year, seven women were arrested for their involvement in six murders.

Similarly, the police had arrested 17 women for their involvement in smuggling of narcotics in 2002. The number of arrested women in similar cases went up to 28 in 2003 when 22 cases were registered against them. This year 27 women were arrested under the same offence.

Police sources said most of the women had been taking up to the smuggling of narcotics after their better halves, who were also in same profession, were lodged in jail.


Vedic chetna shivir concludes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 29
The six-day long Vedic chetna shivir concluded at DAV College for Boys here today.

As many as 1,200 students from DAV institutions of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan participated in it.

Mr Dhani Ram, Principal of the college, said that the shivir (camp) was an attempt to inculcate moral values and the guru-shishya tradition and to teach yoga and vedic values.

Dr C. Prakash, and Justice R. S. Mittal, vice-president and secretary of DAV Managing Committee, Delhi, respectively, chaired the final day functions.


Girl accuses parents of trying to sell her
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 29
In a rarest of rare cases, a young girl has accused her parents of trying to forcibly sell her off, to her own cousin for Rs 5 lakh.

The girl, Ms Rosy Verma of Jalandhar, has also moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking its intervention to save her life and liberty.

Alleging that her parents tried to forcibly marry her off to her cousin, Lucky, in lieu of Rs 5 lakh, Ms Verma has stated that she was even beaten and locked in a room by them when she refused to do their biding.

She has claimed that all this is being done because her family's financial position is poor as her brother is a drug addict.

In her petition moved through advocate R.S. Bajaj, the woman, who is doing her MA, has also alleged that her parents, apart from "harassing and humiliating" her, have also threatened to eliminate or get her implicated in false cases.

The petitioner has also accused her parents of trying to sell her off in marriage to the son of her maternal aunt in order to settle their debts. These debts, she has claimed, are the result of drug habits of her brother.

Saying that while her parents have accused some relatives of abducting her, this is not the case. The petitioner has also accused the local police of making life difficult for her. She has also stated that despite personally meeting the Jalandhar Senior Superintendent of Police, who promised to look into the matter, nothing has been done. In fact, she has alleged, the SHO of Police Station, Division Number 1, Jalandhar, has been acting at the behest of her parents.

After hearing her counsel, the vacation Bench headed by Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh ordered that the petitioner be lodged in Nari Niketan, Chandigarh. He also directed the SSP, Chandigarh, to ensure the safety and liberty of the woman.


Revenue officers defer stir
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 29
The Punjab Revenue Officers Association,headed by Sh Amarpaul Singh Tiwana have postponed its two-day agitation, which was to be held from tomorrow, till January 7. They have deferred the agitation after they got assurances by Revenue Minister, S. Amarjit Singh Samra,who talked to the Director-General of Police, Mr A.A.Siddiqui today.

This was announced by general secretary of the association, Mr Gurmit Singh Nadhala, today. He said the minister had assured the delegation of association,which met him today, that Anti-Corruption Forum president PS Passi and his aides, who threatened and misbehaved with Phagwara Naib Tehsildar, Ms Seema Singh, on December 6, would be arrested within a week.

It may be recalled that the Punjab Revenue Officers Association had announced to go on two-day mass casual leave in eight districts of Jalandhar Divison,on December 30 and 31, and had announced to hold demonstration before Parliament in New Delhi on December 31, against the police failure to nab the culprits.

He said the meeting of state executive of the association would be held on January 8 at Jalandhar to decide the future course of action.

Meanwhile, the police had got non-bailable warrants of the accused and his aides. The police is also conducting raids at various places in this regard.


Tubewell corporation staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 29
Members of the Tubewell Corporation Employees Union staged a rally in front of the office of the Divisional Engineer, Maintenance, here today in protest against the non-payment of TA bills for the past 32 months, and their non-acceptance of other demands.

Addressing the rally Mr Satish Rana, secretary of the union, said that the Executive Engineer had withdrawn his TA bills up to March 31, 2003, whereas employees had not been paid even up to March, 2002. He warned that if their TA bills were not cleared soon, they would intensify their agitation.


Rs 3 lakh looted from plant employee
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 29
Miscreants looted Rs 3 lakh from an employee of the Vohra Solvent Plant and shot at him in broad daylight here today.

According to sources, the victim, Vicky, came to the Oriental Bank of Commerce to withdraw money at around noon.

Normally, he used to visit the bank on a car, but today he came on a motor cycle.

The robbers, who were also riding a bike, struck on the Sadik road when Vicky was on his way back. They stopped him and asked him to hand over the amount to them. Vicky resisted, which led to an altercation. Finally, the robbers shot at him and ran away with Rs 3 lakh.

Vicky, who had received a bullet injury in one of his thighs, was rushed to the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital.


1 killed, three hurt in fog-related mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 29
A person was killed and three others were injured when a Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck parked along roadside near Pathrala village of this district on the Bathinda-Dabwali road early this morning.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that Rajinder Kumar (36) along with his family members was going to Allenabad in Haryana from this town to attend the cremation of his maternal uncle.

Sources said that due to dense fog in the morning Mr Harvinder Singh, driver of the Tata Sumo, could not see the truck parked along the roadside and his vehicle rammed into it. As a result Rajinder Singh, a resident of local Paras Ram Nagar, died on the spot while his other relatives, including his nephew Puneet Kumar, were seriously injured.

Puneet Kumar was shifted to the local Civil Hospital while Ms Manju and her husband, the other occupants of the ill-fated vehicle, were shifted to Dabwali hospital.

The Sangat police handed over the body of Rajinder Kumar to his relatives after postmortem. A case in this connection has been registered.


Three boys run over by train, killed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 29
Three boys were crushed to death by a train near Kalian village on the Abohar-Sriganganagar section last night.

According to information, the bodies were located in the morning after a night-long futile search by the parents.

A bottle of country liquor, steel glasses, packet of fried groundnuts, gur and a packet of cigarettes were found on the spot.

Family sources said Rajinder Sharma (15), Jagdish Meghwal (16) and Viram Meghwal (14) had told their families last evening that they were going to attend a party at their friend’s residence. When none of them returned till midnight, the parents got worried and initiated search, but could not locate them. all belonged to the same locality.

Rajinder’s father, Mr Madan Lal Sharma, was running an embroidery shop, Jagdish’s father, Mr Moti Lal Meghwa, had lost both arms in an explosion during service in the Army, and Vikram’s father, Mr Atma Ram, is a small farmer.


Probe ordered into molestation of minor
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 29
Taking a serious notice of an incident in which a Class IV employee had reportedly molested a minor girl at Inservice Training Centre, the district administration has ordered a probe into the matter.

According to sources, the incident took place at a recently held seminar at the training centre. Mr Baldev Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh, and other teachers, who had attended the seminar, have lodged a complaint with the centre's principal, SSP, DC, and the DEO.

In their complaint they stated that a woman teacher had brought a 10-year-old girl along with her to look after her child at the seminar. Soon after the first session started, the teachers heard screams from the bathroom. When they reached there they found the girl crying and the Class IV employee ran away, they alleged.

She told them that the employee had "molested" her. These teachers have demanded a strict action against the accused.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Teachers Front, Faridkot, has also sought stern action against the alleged culprit.

The front warned that if the district administration failed to act against the employee, they would be compelled to act tough on the matter.

The District Education Officer, Ms Sukhmandar Kaur Brar, said the Deputy DEO, Ms Mahender Kaur, had already been asked to probe into the matter.


16 passengers hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 29
As many as 16 passengers, including four women, were injured when a mini bus of Bariana Coach company in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck coming from the opposite side while the driver of the bus tried to overtake a sugarcane-loaded tractor trailer near Aalowal on Hoshiarpur-Tanda road, about 12 km from here, this foggy morning. All the injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital where the condition of Tarsem Singh of Nangal Isher and Sital Kaur, wife of Gurmukh Singh of Hariana, was stated to be serious.

The other injured were identified as Sukhdev Singh, Amarjit Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Chanchal Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Gurdev Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Dharminder Singh, Devinder Kaur, Gurbax Singh, Davinder Singh, Raj Rani, Harjinder Pal Singh and Rinku.

On receiving information, Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, rushed to the Civil Hospital and inspected the health facilities being provided to the injured passengers.

Mr Tiwari told this correspondent that the District Red Cross Society, Hoshiarpur, would bear the cost of treatment being provided to the injured. He said that Rs 2,000 each had been given to two passengers who were enable to earn their livelihood due to their injuries.


Efforts afoot to revive PFUTA
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 29
Efforts are underway to revive the Punjab Federation of University Teachers Association (PFUTA) with a view to safeguard the autonomy of universities. The office-bearers of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) have rushed to Chandigarh to hold discussions to revive PFUTA which has been non-functional for the past few years.

This was disclosed by Dr Kuldip Singh, general secretary of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association, while talking to The Tribune before leaving for Chandigarh, here today. He said the teaching community was disturbed following claims,made by the Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor that the Governor in his capacity as Chancellor of the university was likely to issue a directive regarding headship of the Department of the Sports Medicine and Physiotherapy.

He said Dr Raunki Ram, president, Panjab University Teachers Association, had already given his support to the GNDUTA. He said Dr Raunki Ram would also send communication to the Punjab Governor against issuing any directive amounting to violation of the university statute/calendar.

Dr Kuldip Singh said during the meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, the latter had assured that Dr G.S. Kang would be elevated as head of the Department of Physiotherapy in case no directive was issued in this regard. He said if Dr Kang was not given a chance to become next head, the GNDUTA would resort to agitation.

However, the Association of Physiotherapy Department challenged the claim of GNDUTA that the Governor could not intervene in the headship row. In a press release, the students and their parents appreciated the role of the Governor who had summoned the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar to sort out the matter.


Teachers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 29
Hundreds of teachers belonging to different unions today joined a dharna staged by the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) in front of the office of the District Education Officer (DEO) here to lodge their protest against the non-payment of salaries since November, 2004, to them by the state government.

In a press note issued here, Major Basant Kumar, secretary, DTF, Bathinda unit, said that on the one hand, the state government had not been paying salaries to the teachers regularly and on the other, the teachers were being put on different jobs which were entirely different than their profession of teaching.

He added that in the dharna, the teachers also lodged their protest against putting teachers on other duties, including the management of the mid-day meal scheme, making of voters’ identity cards, census and issuance of birth certificates.

He added that the teachers were also lodging their protest to press the state government to withdraw its anti-teacher Act-2004.

He pointed out that the state government had not been paying salaries to teachers on flimsy grounds as the Finance Department had put a condition that salaries would be paid to teachers only when they would be able to disclose their status that whether they were working on a planned category post or non-planned category post.

He said that the state government had been making the teachers suffer despite the fact that no such record was available with the authorities.

Later, the DTF submitted a memorandum to the state education authorities in connection with the demands.


ETT teachers’ dharna today

Bathinda, December 29
All the necessary arrangements have been made by the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union to hold a dharna on December 30 at the district headquarters to lodge its protest against the temporary appointment of ETT teachers by the state government.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jagsir Singh Sahota, senior vice-president of the union, said that the number of teams of unemployed teachers had played a significant role in making the necessary arrangements for holding a dharna. Banners and posters for the protest had already been distributed.

He said that the teachers had again decided to launch a struggle against the Punjab Government as it was promised by the government to start their (ETT teachers) recruitment process by October 18, but the same had not been done so far.

Mr Sahota added that to remind the government of their promise for the regular appointment of ETT teachers, massive rallies and dharnas would be organised. He said that non-acceptance of the demands would make them intensify the struggle.

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