P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



ESI benefits not reaching staff in pvt education bodies
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Thousands of employees working in the private education institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh have been deprived of benefits under the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme.

Around 30,000 employees in schools, colleges, professional institutions and coaching academies cannot avail the benefits under the multi-dimensional social security system which provides for health-related eventualities. Repeated directions from the Union Labour Ministry have been issued to the respective health secretaries of Punjab and the UT Chandigarh.

Any establishment with 20 and more employees has to be covered under the scheme and the wages of each beneficiary should not exceed Rs 7500 per month.

The ESI Act empowers the state governments to extend the scheme to any establishment after seeking approval from the Centre. Sources in the ministry disclosed that the Centre had decided to extend the provisions of the ESI to the educational institutions under Section 1(5) of the ESI Act. Earlier, the Act was extended to shops, hotels and restaurants, transport undertaking, cinemas and newspaper establishments.

Accordingly, the Labour Ministry directed the Employee State Insurance Corporation to conduct a survey of the education institutions. In Punjab and Chandigarh, the number of employees working in the education sector are 24,000 and 6700, respectively. This includes 6,900 employees ( 3,700 in Punjab and 3200 in Chandigarh) working in the government educational institutions.

The Regional Director of the ESI Corporation, Mr T.R. Gautam, told The Tribune that the issue had been taken at the regional board meeting. To extend the scheme to the education sector, the Health Department has to issue a notification under section 1(5) of the ESI Act.

In the scheme, based on the principle of polling of risks and resources, the employees, employers, state governments, and the ESI Corporation are the major stake holders in the system to provide social protection to be benefactors.

Allaying apprehensions in mind of the employers, the Regional Director said the ESI Scheme absolves the employer of all liabilities like medical facilities, exemption from the Maternity Benefit Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The employees get medical benefit, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, disablement benefit, dependents’ benefit, funeral expenses, rehabilitation expenses, vocational rehabitation, old age medicare and medical bonus.

However, the state governments have powers to exempt certain establishments, especially the employees working in the government institutions and covered under other schemes.


Markfed plans to send wheat to Pakistan by rail
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Punjab's agricultural produce marketing company Markfed has made a fresh bid to seek opening of the rail trade route between India and Pakistan to export 20 lakh metric tonnes of wheat to the neighbouring country.

Pakistan is facing a shortfall of wheat and prices are close to three times as high as those in India.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has taken up the matter with the Government of India as Markfed made a fresh bid to export Indian wheat to Pakistan. Approval has been sought specifically to send the wheat by rail to Pakistan instead of by road or sea. The last two options are considered uneconomical as the carrying cost would be much higher. The Union Food Ministry has forwarded Markfed's request to the Ministry of External Affairs for final clearance.

Last year Pakistan's request for 1 lakh metric tonnes of wheat could not be meet due to lack of clearance and it was forced to buy 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from Russia. The fresh bid of Markfed comes after the Pakistan Roller Flour Mills Association asked for 2 million tonnes, Mr S.S. Channy, Managing Director of Markfed, told the Tribune.

The export order has been placed by the Pakistani association with the rider that supply has to be received by rail through the Wagah-Attari border. Markfed is hopeful that the clearance will come. Mr Channy said: '' It suits Indian Punjab and also Pakistan where wheat is selling at Rs 1,800 per quintal. We have enough wheat to send to Pakistan.''

Pakistan is seeking wheat not only to bridge the shortfall before the harvest in April but also re-export, said Mr Channy, while explaining that Pakistan had the option of re-exporting the wheat it imports from India to some neighbouring markets like Afghanistan, where it could get a good price.

Pakistan has a total of 2 crore metric tonne production of wheat and has little surplus wheat stocks.

One of the grain procuring agencies in Punjab, Markfed will directly purchase around 2.4 million tonnes of wheat from farmers for sending it to Pakistan. This will be in addition to around 11 million tonnes the Central Government would be buying from farmers once the harvest begins in April.

Sources, however, added that the government approval for wheat export would only be forthcoming provided India had a surplus stock this year far above the buffer-stock norms and the needs of the public distribution system.

This year India is set to increase its wheat production and reach a target of 7.5 crore metric tonnes this year compared to 7.2 crore metric tonnes in 2004.


SGPC sitting over gurdwara Act draft
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The SGPC authorities are sitting over the draft of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act for the past over two years. The Justice Kulwant Singh Tiwana committee had submitted the draft of the Act after removing all objections to the SGPC on September 16, 2002.

Now the SGPC is to submit the draft to the Union Government to introduce the Bill in Parliament for passing the Act. The Union Home Ministry has been repeatedly reminding the SGPC authorities to send the draft but it (SGPC) has been avoiding to do so.

The latest letter received by the SGPC from the Centre was in December last . The SGPC was asked to submit the draft by December 22. But the SGPC did not do so. It called a meeting on January 22 at Amritsar of legal experts to discuss the contents of the draft but did not take any concrete decision. In fact the meeting was held in a most casual manner and there was no proper discussion on the draft.

Asked in this connection, the SGPC Chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said that the draft was being studied by experts. It would be submitted to the Centre after their approval. However, she did not fix any time frame to do so.

In fact the first draft was prepared by the late Justice Harbans Singh, who was close to the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He had directly sent the draft to the Union Government in 1999. The Union Government returned the copies of the draft to the SGPC and to the Punjab Government for their comments. To review that draft, the Justice Tiwana committee was set up. That committee rewrote certain parts of the draft before submitting it to the SGPC.

Sources said that Akali leaders from Punjab, who had launched morchas in the past to seek the enactment of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act, had now second thoughts on this issue. They feel that with the framing of the All-India Act, they would lose the pre-eminence in the management of the gurdwaras as well as in the SGPC. Their political clout will also be dented. Having control over the SGPC, Akali leaders currently have a huge political advantage and say in Sikh affairs.

At present Akali leaders from Punjab have absolute domination in the SGPC. Leaders like Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur call the shots. Though Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh are also represented in the SGPC, the president of the SGPC is always elected from Punjab. With the framing of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act, members from other states would have to be included in the SGPC. Then there is a provision of regional boards in the draft for the management of the gurdwaras.

The draft prepared by the Tiwana committee has tried to bring uniformity in the maryada of all gurdwras in the country. At present different maryadas are followed in different states. Secondly, this draft has tried to remove confusion about the definition of Sikh. In the draft, definition of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act has been adopted. As per the draft, the Centre could do nothing without the concurrence of the SGPC with regard to religious affairs of Sikhs.

If the SGPC continues to dither on the issue of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act, the possibility of Haryana having a separate gurdwara management committee can't be ruled out.


National institute on Guru Granth Sahib okayed
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 12
It appears that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is keen to see that each and every announcement made by him at Amritsar on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib is fully honoured.

In this direction, a major step has been taken by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the University Grants Commission (UGC) by sanctioning the establishment of National Institute of Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The proposed institute will be set up at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and shall be fully autonomous. It will have a governing body comprising representatives of the HRD Ministry, UGC, Punjab Government and experts in the field of Guru Granth Sahib studies.

It is understood that under the proposal, the Vice- Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University will be the chairman of the governing body. The institute will undertake multi-dimensional studies of Guru Granth Sahib, its importance in inter-faith dialogue with special reference to the Bhakti movement, scriptural studies and music. The institute will have a library and museum of its own.

The expert committee is understood to have recommended that the institute will receive grants in three phases and will come into being soon after the sanction is conveyed to the Guru Nanak Dev University. It may be mentioned here that Mr T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, paid a visit to Chandigarh a few days ago to interact with the Punjab Government, including the Chief Minister and officials with regard to the various announcements made by the Prime Minister during his visit to Amritsar in September, 2004 at the time of celebrations of 400th anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib and their implementation.


US experts to lecture on media ethics
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Prof Shakuntala Rao
Prof Shakuntala Rao

Chandigarh, February 12
While American media twists and angles its news stories to influence the world opinion, experts are earnest to lecture people here on media ethics.

Officials of US Embassy in India accompanied by, Mrs Shakuntala Rao, an Associate Professor of Communication at the State University of New York and currently a visiting Fullbright Lecturer at Punjabi University, Patiala, would hold media ethics workshop at Patiala on February 16, Chandigarh on February 17 and 18 and Jalandhar on February 24. Mr Bob Richards, Director, Media Outreach Programme in the Public Affairs Division of the US embassy, would be among the main speakers.

When asked to comment on ultra-nationalist that reporting in the US media, Mrs Rao said that serious lapse of ethics had been noticed in the US media especially among some TV channels, which had been promoting their own brand of nationalism. However, there were TV channels and newspapers which had been sticking to media ethics even in the most trying circumstances. Papers like the New York Times have been vocal against the present government’s foreign policy. Newspapers in the US have diverse opinions on national and international issues..

Talking about Indian media, Mrs Rao, who has been researching on the subject, says that “most of the Indian media was facing the challenge of accuracy in reporting. Not much attention is given to detail and the dominating trend is to publish incomplete stories which creates confusion. News stories are often written in a racy style and lack substance”.

Photographs in most of the papers is often devoid of sensitivity towards the subject. For instance, during the tsunami tragedy some newspapers showed lack of sensitivity towards the dead. “After all dead body also has dignity and it should not be compromised while publishing its photograph. There should be debate in Indian media to use the imagery for a maximum effect on the reader. Representation of the events and the objects by way of symbolism by photo journalists at the times of tragedies leaves lasting effect on minds of reader,” she adds.

She says that accidents, tragedies, suicides, and other crimes are reported in India in a sensational manner. The right way is be to report this in a larger context by finding connections with the social and official systems.

Asked about corruption in media, Mrs Rao said, that there was corruption at the top level in media as well as in political system in the USA. But that does not affect individuals at the lower level as it does in India, she added. “In India entire public life has been affected by corruption, whereas such is not the case in the USA”, she asserted.


Domestic violence on rise in UK, says Magistrate
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
Domestic violence, among Britons and Indians, is on the rise in England, where, ‘poor’ menfolk have also started coming out with complaints of violence against them by their dominating spouses.

For both men and women victims of domestic violence, government funded refuges are also mushrooming and becoming popular among the victims. This interesting revelation was made by Mr. Umesh Chander Sharma, a Magistrate of Eiling and a member of Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Justices of Peace for Middlesex.

“Roughly 5 per cent of about 30,000 cases in my court alone and in other courts also, are such wherein, complainants are men, who, complain that they were subjected to physical violence by their spouses. Similary, about 10 per cent of the total cases are the ones falling in the domestic violence category. The number is rising for increasing awareness, for which, voluntary agencies are responsible as they make people aware that they do not sit home and complain endlessly about their nightmarish experiences. Such agencies tell people to live in refuges in case they had any problem back at home and the advice works in most of cases,” said Mr Sharma in an exclusive chat with The Tribune.

Drug abuse, petty thefts and traffic offences follow domestic violence. “A large number of cases coming to courts are that of drug abuse or drug trafficking. Among drug trafficking cases, most cases pertain to smuggling of cannabis or heroine from African countries by professional couriers, who swallow pouches of drugs and get trapped at airports, where x-ray machines detect the presence of drug in intestines of the courier. Then couriers are quarantined for the recovery of the swallowed material before their presence in the court,” said Mr Sharma, who, was a former Mayor of Eiling and who hails from Hoshiarpur district.


Four arrested for robbery bid
Our Correspondent

Four persons arrested by the police from near Kacha Sana Shandoo in Rajpura on Saturday.
Four persons arrested by the police from near Kacha Sana Shandoo in Rajpura on Saturday.

Rajpura, February 12
The Rajpura police claims to have foiled a robbery by arresting four persons and seized weapons from them. One person escaped.

The police has also recovered a country-made pistol of . 315 bore, two cartridges kirpans and some iron rods from them.

The arrested were wanted in over 25 criminal cases in Punjab and Haryana besides robberies in gurdwaras, temples and deras in the state.

On a tip-off that armed youths had assembled near Kacha Sana Shandoo for robberies, the police raided at the locality, last night.

The police arrested Lakhan, Arpan, Sunil alias Joni, and Santi, residents of Barara Road, Dheha Colony, Shahbad in Haryana, Ashok Kumar alias Toti of Deha Colony, Mubarikpur Camp, gave the slip to the police.

The police claimed that after interrogation it was found that the gang was involved in robbery at a branch of the Bank of India in Gobindgarh occurred in June 2002 besides committing thefts in the Khanna area. They had also committed robbery at Shahanshah Dera of Mukandpur locality in Nawanshahr district about one-and-a-half years ago. The robbers had also reportedly hacked to death priest of a temple in Haryana village in Hoshiarpur after committing theft in the temple.

The police also said that the gang usually committed thefts in religious institutions under the leadership of Lakhan. The ringleader, Lakhan, is wanted in a criminal case against him in Samana.

The police has been interrogating the arrested for their involvement in other cases.


Patiala heritage festival begins
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
Mounted cavalry in the traditional Patiala colours, standing along the ramparts of a lighted Quila Mubarak fort, a red carpet welcome and an open air stage in front of the former Darbar hall marked start of the third edition of the Patiala Heritage Festival today.

Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues arrived in a steel grey suit and a black Mercedes with his wife Jean and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, who is also Chairperson of the Patiala Heritage Society. The Governor broke the protocol insisted Ms Preneet Kaur to light the traditional lamp to inaugurate the festival.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor said the festival symbolised a resurgent India. “I have seen Punjab emerging over the years and coming into its own”, he said adding “the State is now seeing an evolution of a culture which had been suppressed for long”. He said what was heartening was that the festival was being organised not to highlight the achievements of the present government but to revive the glory of Patiala.

Getting into pensive mood, the Governor said even as he was sitting watching the traditional “Jaago” rendition by young girls, he was thinking whether “we are doing enough for these children”. He added “seeing this I feel the process has started”.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur and Punjab State Tourism Minister Partap Singh Bajwa delivered short speeches on the occasion. Mrs Preneet Kaur said the festival had travelled a long way in the last three years. She said because of the efforts of the Heritage Society the Quila Mubarak had been included in the list of 100 most endangered monuments by the World Monument Fund which had also given Rs one crore to the Society for the restoration of the monument. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa said he was grateful to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who could not make it, for ensuring attention to the heritage for the first time in the State.

INTACH Chairman S.K. Misra said Capt Amarinder Singh had rightly felt that the State did not have the appropriate position on the tourism front. He said three cities of Patiala, Kapurthala and Amritsar had been identified and Heritage festivals started in all of them to give a boost tourism. He said INTACH on its part was trying to push the case of the Quila Mubarak. He said the monument needed of funds and that INTACH would try to tap the NRI community to raise money for the restoration of the monument.

A film on Quila Mubarak highlighting its features and problems was also screened on the occasion.


From college student to devotee of dance
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
Malavika Sarukkai’s charm lies in her eternal evolution as a practitioner of Bharatnatyam. Through 30 years of her devotion to the art form, she has not only enhanced its reputation but has also created pieces that pass off as landmarks in the history of Bharatnatyam.

Naturally for Malavika, here on an invitation from Patiala Heritage Society and INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) the mention of dance is more enriching than that of her milestones.

But for all reasons, the dancer deserves special references for having created a legendary repertoire with choreographies like Fireflies, Kashi Yatra, Khajuraho, and more recently “Kala” and “Strotasvini”. She is also the undisputed master of both the Thanjavur and Vazhuvoor styles.

With the kind of repertoire Malavika commands, it is small wonder that she was chosen to open the eight-day Patiala Heritage Festival this evening. And she unfailingly brought all eyes to tears, especially with the Khajuraho sequence in which the king takes leave from his mother.

Against the radiating backdrop of Quila Mubarak, Malavika’s enactment of a mother’s virgin pain appeared striking. She bared the wrench of leave taking to perfection, with the mother ordering her son to answer the call of duty and bring honour to his lineage.

Talking to The Tribune earlier, Malavika bared aspects of her creative self. “Continuity of tradition is important but equally important is making the classical appear contemporary. There lies the challenge for a creative person. Through my choreographies I try and meet this challenge,” says Malavika, who is always accompanied by her mother and creative collaborator Saroja Kamakshi.

Much like “Fireflies”, a multimedia performance that explored the man-woman relationship, the last of Malavika’s offerings has also received rave reviews. Called “Kala”, it deals with the dimensions of time. “Here I break the linear structure of time and present it in the cyclical frame. Lord Shiva’s dance is the inaugural sequence in this piece. From there I go on to present Kalidasa’s version of spring, and of how it effects the environment,” Malavika tells.

The dancer is, however, never complacent with her past creations. So even while her “Kashi Yatra” (which captures the transformation of a courtesan into a pilgrim at the banks of the Ganga) continues to charm, she has already created another fresh piece “Strotasvini”.

“It literally means mini streams of Bharatnatyam. The piece traces the evolution of Bharatnatyam, and reflects on its future,” says Malavika who is hugely concerned about mediocrity that has come to define classical arts.

“This rot must be stemmed. Dance is quintessentially sacred. Through it we discover those spaces into which we can wander forever. Personally, Bharatnatyam has changed my life. I live its movement and silence every moment. To be a dedicated follower of the form, you have to persevere endlessly. But nowadays I don’t see that happening,” says Malavika while recalling her own transformation from a college student to a devotee of dance.

In between she even earned the accolades that mattered – the Padma Shri, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the BBC slot, the film “Samarpanam” on her style which is unique with its classicism and dynamism alike. The danseuse only nods in humility, “I still have a lot of silence to live. When I did “Khajuraho” I realized dance is not just movement, it is also stillness. My endeavour would be to keep Bharatnatyam fresh and alive, and for that I will continue to discover a new grammar to suit the pursuit of perfection.”


Medal Gallery to be shifted to Mahindra Lodge
Tribune News Service

A view of the Mahindra Lodge on the Mall road, which will house the Medal Collection of Maharaja Bhupindra Singh.
A view of the Mahindra Lodge on the Mall road, which will house the Medal Collection of Maharaja Bhupindra Singh. — Photo Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, February 12
World famous Medal Gallery, constituting famous medals of the world collected over a period of few decades by Maharaja Bhupindra Singh, is finally set to get a new home with the Punjab Government deciding to house it in Mahindra Lodge on the Mall road in Patiala.

Mahindra Lodge, which was constructed by Maharaja Mahindra Singh and was used to house royal guests, has been vacated from the Punjab Public Works Department a few months back. The lodge was till recently housing the headquarters of the department.

The lodge will not only house Medal Gallery but also a collection of weapons. Besides this the lodge will house “Urban Haat” on the pattern of “Delhi Haat”. This is the third grand project visualised by the Punjab Government and the Patiala Development Authority to make Patiala a thriving tourist centre. The other two are restoration of Quila Mubarak and creation of a heritage hotel in Rajindra Kothi in the Baradari Gardens.

Medal Gallery is presently housed on the second floor of the Sheesh Mahal complex. Entry to the gallery is not open to the public and the medals can be seen only by obtaining express permission from the Department of Cultural Affairs. Hundreds of medals procured by Maharaja Bhupindra Singh from Spinks and Sons of the United Kingdom as well as progeny of former royals as well as commoners, who had priceless medals in their possession, are presently stored in a few rooms in Sheesh Mahal. The enormity of the collection makes the present gallery a woefully short space and there has been a continuous demand to house the medals at a befitting place.

“We thought housing the medals in Mahindra Lodge would be ideal because the late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh while donating the collection to the state had stipulated that it be kept in Patiala,” says Cultural Affairs Secretary D.S. Jaspal while talking to TNS. He said besides the medal collection, the department also wanted to display a large number of weapons lying in its stores, including both traditional swords as well as antique guns.

Mr Jaspal said both collections would also be juxtaposed along with “Urban Haat” which will come up in the same complex which has nearly two acres of land attached to it. The “Urban Haat” is specifically targetted at master craftsmen and encourages them to set up stalls in the space provided to sell their authentic ethnic items. Sources said other proposals, including establishing conference, library and other facilities, would also be discussed with HUDCO which was financing the project. A meeting in this regard will be held in Delhi in the coming days.

Mahindra Lodge still has a number of heritage aspects, which, Mr Jaspal says, will be preserved. He said the marble and ‘jaali’ work on wooden frames, which was the highlight of the building, would be retained. The lodge also has monogramed windowpanes with ‘R’ and ‘S’ inscribed on them. Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon explains it this way “the PWD was in charge of all the heritage properties earlier and it could have transported panes from the Rajindra Kothi here”.


Pakistani national meets sister after 55 years
Pawan Kumar

Lopoke (Amritsar), February 12
A Pakistan national, Rashid Masih, who met his sister Anoop Kaur, alias Nuppo, a resident of this nondescript village, which is just a few kilometres from the Indo-Pak border, after a gap of 55 years, has become an ‘ambassador’ for poor villagers whose near and dear ones were left on the other side of the border during Partition.

Rashid had separated from his family during Partition. He was about seven-year-old at that time when he was taken along by her aunt to Lahore not even knowing that he would never meet his family for decades. First it was the Partition and poverty and then the fear on both sides of the border which kept them away for long.

Villagers are coming to Nuppo’s house to meet Rashid in the hope that perhaps he knows about their separated family members living in Pakistan. One such person, Garib Singh of Manawala village, said his relatives lived in Lahore and he wanted to tell them about their well being here. He said they could not contact them for a long time now.

Another old man, Jassa said he wanted to meet his maternal and paternal relatives who were left behind during Partition. He said poverty and illiteracy were hindrances in their meeting. He was continuously asking Rashid whether the borders of both sides would ever open.

Meanwhile, the family of Anoop Kaur advanced her son’s marriage to ensure her brother’s participation in the wedding. Although she did not have enough money, she performed the marriage of Kaptan Singh (22), her son, after managing some money. Kaptan Singh was married to Rawal Kaur of Waan village near here.

It was a wonderful experience for Rashid, who is a fruit vendor in Lahore. He enjoyed and danced on famous Punjabi songs. Nuppo said she wanted to meet her brother’s family in Pakistan. However, she would first perform the marriages of her two daughters, she added.

Their union was made possible with the efforts of the Sanjhe Rang Punjab De, a New Delhi-based NGO, and the Pakistan-based NGO, Punjab Lok Sanjh. 


Navjot Sidhu dubs anti-Sikh riots as stray incidents
Tribune News Service

Chak Suhele Wala (Ferozepore), February 12
In a statement, which could have far-reaching political consequences, cricketer-turned Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu today said the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of the country in 1984 and in Chandigarh in the recent past were stray incidents and any comment on the same would reflect one’s negative thinking.

Mr Sidhu, who presided over annual prize distribution function of Mata Gujri Public School here, made these comments at a press conference after the function when he was asked about his reaction and comments on the report of the Nanavati Commission, which was set up for probing the anti-Sikh riots.

When asked about his comment on the statement made by Mr Tirlochan Singh, Chairman, Minority Commission, in which he alleged that no FIR was registered against a section of the people who were involved in the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, and hence the victims would not be able to get any justice, Mr Sidhu declined to comment.

When asked about his opinion on the performance of the UPA government, he said one should compare the five-year NDA rule with the 45-year rule by the Congress at the Centre. He pointed out that during the NDA government at the Centre, the people used to get basic necessities at affordable prices while in the past nine months, sugar prices and LPG prices had gone up, unprecedently.

On one hand sugar prices were going up while on the other the government had failed to make payments to the growers, he added.


Delhi-Lahore bus delayed
Arguments over kirpan issue
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 12
The Sada-e-Sarhad (Delhi-Lahore) bus was delayed for over half an hour following an altercation between a senior official of the Delhi police and the vice-president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) over the issue of carrying kirpan in the bus.

Talking to TNS, before leaving for Pakistan here today, the PSGPC vice-president Mr Bishan Singh alleged that Ms Shashi Bala, an official of the Delhi police insisted on parting with his kirpan, which was presented to him as siropa at one of the gurdwaras. He said heated arguments resulted in the delay of the bus. He said he would take up the matter with the Indian Government through the Government of Pakistan. He was shocked when the police official insisted on removing the kirpan, adding that there was no ban on carrying the religious symbol in buses of Pakistan.

Mr Bishan Singh, met senior officials of the SGPC and urged them to make boarding and lodging arrangements for the devotees from Pakistan, who are likely to visit Golden Temple on Baisakhi . He reiterated the commitment of the PSGPC to uphold the “Maryada”, approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht, in all Sikh shrines of Pakistan.

On the other hand, three Punjabi writers were denied permission to enter Pakistan through the Wagah border. While Dr Karnail Singh Thind, a former Registrar of Guru Nanak Dev University, and Mr Bhupinder Singh Malhi, president, Virasat Foundation, were allowed to cross over to Pakistan, three writers — Dr Jatinder Singh Jolly, Ms Rama Rattan and Dr Kanwaljit Singh Jassal — were stopped at the Wagah joint post. Dr Thind was given permission on the basis of his being a senior citizen, while Mr Malhi was possessing a passport of foreign country.


Mann seeks new demarcation panel
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 12
A new demarcation commission for the state should be constituted so that the Punjabi-speaking areas of Haryana, Himachal, Rajasthan and Chandigarh should be included in Punjab. The SAD (A) would make all-out efforts in this regard, said Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president SAD (A), while addressing mediapersons on the eve of birth anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale near Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib here today. Thousands of SAD (A) workers and supporters of Bhindrawale from all over the state participated in the function.

Lashing out at SAD (B) supremo Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Mann said he and his son were responsible for bringing a bad name to Sikhism. He alleged that Mr Badal had become a puppet in the hands of fundamentalist BJP.

He criticised the appointment of Mr S. S. Virk as police chief since his record of human rights was not good. He said that his party would appeal to the USA to destroy the biological and chemical weapons of India and Pakistan in a friendly manner or by using force like Iraq. He demanded that the Bhakra Dam, Pong Dam, Ranjit Sagar Dam and Gobind Sagar Lake should be supervised by the UN-led forces. He said his party believed in peace and he demanded that China should be included in SAARC.

Later addressing the gathering, he highlighted the role played by Sant Bhindrawale in “awakening” the Sikhs. Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, self-styled president of “Khalistan” said that “Khalistan” was the ultimate demand of Sikhs

Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, chief of Taksal, Dhian Singh Mand, former MP, Charan Singh Loharan, Avtar Singh, president of Britain-based SAD (A) unit, Sulakhan Singh, president of the Austria unit, Gurvinder Singh, president of the party Italy unit, Satnam Singh Behru and Dr Harjinder Singh Jakhu also addressed the gathering.


Hailstorms damage crops in 2.5 lakh acres
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 12
Mr P.K. Verma, Financial Commissioner Development, Punjab yesterday said that hailstorms had damaged crops of wheat, sarson, fodder and pulses apart from orchards in about 2.5 lakh acres in Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda districts.

Addressing press conference yesterday he said the hailstorms had damaged crops between 80 per cent and 90 per cent in certain pockets. He added that small and marginal farmers were the worst hit.

Mr Varma, who, along with Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, toured the affected areas of Mansa and Bathinda district, said the hailstorms would affect the production of wheat and the state would not be able to meet the production target of 149 MT.

He pointed out that he would recommend to the state government that a special girdawri should be launched immediately so that affected farmers could be compensated without delay.

Mr Verma said officials of the state Agriculture Department would assist officials of Revenue Department in carrying out the special girdawri.

He said a compensation of Rs 2,000 per acre would be given to those farmers whose crops had suffered a damage of 75 per cent and above.

Rs 1500 per acre for the loss falling between 50 per cent and 75 per cent and Rs 1000 per acre where the loss was between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. He added that two thirds of the amount of compensation would be given to the cultivator of land taken by him on lease and one third would be given to the owner.


Torture denied in custodial death case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 12
The police today defended officials of the Sundernagar police post and the Basti Jodhewal police station regarding the death of an accused allegedly due to police torture.

The police flashed copies of various medical examination reports of the accused before and after his arrest, and court appearance and when he was sent to the Central Jail here. None of the reports mentioned any injury on his body.

Addressing a press conference, SP City-II Pritam Singh said the reports stated that the man was a drug addict, he had developed withdrawal symptoms and all medical reports said this.

He said on February 2, ASI Harbans Singh, in charge of the police post at Sundernagar, along with Tarsem Singh, Gurjit Singh, Tarsem Singh and Sansar Singh, arrested Rajinderjit Singh from a police naka in the presence of a civil witness.

During a search, one countrymade pistol of .12 bore was recovered from his possession. After the registration of the case and the arrest of the accused, information was served to his parents through telephone and he was got medically examined though Dr Sanjeev Hans of Civil Hospital at Ludhiana.

He stated in his report that ‘no fresh marks of injury were present on the person of Rajinderjit Singh’. After medical examination, the accused was produced before a city Judge, who sent him to Central Jail under judicial remand. He was again medically examined by the medical officer of the Central Jail and was referred to Civil Hospital.

On reaching Civil Hospital, he was examined by Dr Daljit Singh Kochar, who also diagnosed him as a drug withdrawal case.

During his treatment at Civil Hospital, his condition became serious and he was referred to Government Medical College, Rajindera Hospital, Patiala.

Ludhiana jail authorities managed to send the patient to Patiala for further treatment, from where he was shifted to PGI, Chandigarh, where he died.


Panel to probe custodial death
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 12
Punjab BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna has set up a four-member committee to enquire into the custodial death of Sat Paul in Lohian last week, according to Punjab BJP organisational general secretary Parshant Arora.


Ayurvedic hospital staff invoke gods to ‘attract’ patients
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
Employees of the 106-bedded Government Ayurvedic Hospital, the only one of its kind in the state, today invoked the gods to bring prosperity to their institution. They have every reason to do so as the bed occupancy in the hospital has fallen to the lowest ever with only four persons lying admitted today.

The employees, including doctors, paramedical and class IV staff, organised “Amrit Veena path” on the hospital premises today.

Though some of the employees admitted before The Tribune that the meeting was held to pray for peace and prosperity of the hospital, many later changed tracks to say it was being held to pray for peace and harmony alone.

The employees also did not want the meeting to be photographed and prevented The Tribune lensman from clicking the occasion.

The hospital authorities have also disassociated themselves from the prayer meeting.

The Medical Superintendent, Dr B. K. Kaushik, said the function had been organised by doctors and other staff who were living in government accommodation adjoining the hospital and the meeting did not have anything to do with the hospital.

Paramedical staff while later said the prayer meeting was organised to pray for the prosperity of the hospital. The staff are presently idle with only four patients admitted in the hospital. “We want patients to come here as we still remember the time when all beds used to be occupied and patients were forced to even lie on mattresses on the floor”, a nurse said.

A walk around the hospital presents a dismal picture. The beds are filthy with grime. Almost all mattresses have gaping holes and the sheets on top of them can best be described as muddy white.

The Charak ward did not have a single patient and therefore no staff to wait for them.

The kaya ward had two patients, Rohit and Ram Chander, both migrant labourers. While Mohit has been admitted few days back, Ram Chander is living here since the past three months.

The Charak and Kaya wards for woman have one patient each.

This is because one of the patients, Kamla Devi, wanted to distance herself from the other woman of the ward. Kamla Devi said she had got admitted in the hospital as her children are abroad and she did not want to inconvenience her eighty-year-old husband. Even Kamla goes back to her home after every few days to take a bath “as conditions are not good here”.

The woman says she had once decided to leave the hospital as she was not getting medicines but had stayed back on “persuasion”.

The hospital is without medicines since quite some time. It does not have simple items like cotton or bandages.

What to speak about its bed occupancy, its OPD figures are also abysmal. Sources say around 20 to 25 persons frequent the OPD on an average basis. Yesterday’s official figure is 61, according to the Medical Superintendent.

He said efforts were being made to give a facelift to the hospital building with a Rs 13 lakh estimate being sent to the PWD Department.


MC fails to implement own resolution
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, February 12
The municipal council here has failed to implement its own resolution to demarcate a no-overtaking zone and put up signboards indicating speed limits on the “killer stretch” of the national highway passing through the town.

Despite a large number of accidents, many of these fatal, occurring on the stretch, the council has not realised the urgency of the situation. Six months have elapsed since the resolution was cleared by the general House of the council, but the civic body was yet to take steps in cooperation with the traffic police to make the “killer stretch” safe.

The proposal was cleared at a meeting held on August 13 last year. The maximum speed limit on the stretch had been fixed at 45 kmph. Boards were to be put up at various points indicating the speed limit.

It was also decided to inform the Ropar Deputy Commissioner in that regard and a request be made to get the decision of the council implemented.

Mr Paramjit Singh, traffic in charge at Kharar, said no one from the council had approached him in connection with putting up of speed limit boards so for.

Inspector Gulzar Singh, in charge of the traffic wing of Ropar district, said the police had approached the Deputy Commissioner through senior officers and requested her to issue a notification to all civic bodies concerned to put up speed limit boards on the stretch of the national highway that fell under their jurisdiction.

Mr Charanjit Singh, president of the civic body, said that council was about to give the work order in this regard.

He said the implementation of the proposal got delayed because contractors had quoted high rates for the work.


About 3000 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
About 3000 patients were examined at a medical camp which was organised at Sunam in Patiala from February 5 to 8.

Ms Rajinder Pal Kaur, secretary of Hope Welfare, Chandigarh, an NGO, told The Tribune here that there was tremendous response to the camp from about 40 villages. According to her, the camp cost them about Rs 1 lakh. Funds were also provided by the Malwa Youth Club, Sunam, the Arhtiya Association and the Naini Devi Langar Committee. About 315 patients were examined for heart ailments, 1150 for eyes and about 275 for skin treatment.

There was a team of about half a dozen doctors who attended to the patients.


BJP opposes Valentine’s Day celebrations
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 12
Even as the BJP opposed Valentine’s Day celebrations brisk buying, especially among youngsters, was on in markets today.

Small-time shopkeepers set up extensions to display special gift items. Wrappers, candles, flowers, balloons and gift packages could be seen in almost all posh markets here.

While many students opposed the celebrations, a lecturer at Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr Vinay Kapoor, termed the trend as ‘degenerative’.

Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, vice-president of the state BJP, voiced her displeasure, saying the youth had started the celebrations without any understanding of the sacrifices of the Roman saint. 


Recruitment rally of IAF in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Air Force is conducting a recruitment rally at Air Force Station, Bathinda (Bisiana), from February 22 to 26 for the youth of Punjab for selection of candidates in group X (Technical) and group Y trades.

For Group X, candidates from the entire state of Punjab can take part in the rally, while for Group Y only those belonging to the districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Sangrur, Ludhiana Rupnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Bathinda and Mansa will be considered, according to a statement issued here.

For Group X, a candidate should have passed intermediate/10+2/equivalent examination with mathematcis, physics and English with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate or he should have completed three-year diploma in engineering (mechanical/electrical/electronics/automobile/computer science/instrumentation) from a government recognised institute. He should be born between October 1, 1984 and September 30 1988. For Group Y, a candidate should have passed matriculation/ equivalent examination with a minimum aggregate score of 50 per cent with pass marks in English. He should be born between October 1, 1986 and July 1, 1989.


2 stray cows ‘poisoned to death’
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, February 12
Two stray cows were found dead in Old Rajpura, here today. People alleged cattle were poisoned by some persons, last night.

The incident came to light after the contractor (collecting dead animals) was lifting the carcasses. News of cow-poisoning spread in the township following which activists of the Gau Raksha Dal and other organisations assembled at the spot.

Activists also get postmortem examinations conducted of the dead animals in local veterinary dispensary, in the evening.

The activists alleged that the stray cattle in the town were felling the prey of a gang of cattle killers who have been killing them for vested interests. They alleged that there have been a number of cases in the locality in past.

Mr Satish Sharma, president of the Gau Raksha Dal, Punjab, alleged that the contractor had poisoned the cows for their bones, skin and other body parts. He has demanded that a case would be registered against the animal killer.


Play on female foeticide organised
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 12
The National Threatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, and the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC), Patiala, organised a Punjabi musical play ‘Daairey’ at B.L.M. Girls College, here today. The play written by Dr Satish Kumar Verma and directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal was based on female foeticide.

A satire on female foeticide, it highlighted the significance of woman empwerment and aimed at creating awareness for a change in the mindset of the people. It challenged the redundant social norms and customs that deprived the girl child of her right to live.

The play projected woman’s silent anguish at the indifference of society and discrimination against women. It also spoke about hypocritical male chauvinism. The cast included Davinder Mann, Swati, Davinder Singh, Dharminder Sandhu, Gagandeep Kaur, Pankaj Kumar , Sharanjit Kaur, Mansi Saxena, Bhaskar Shahi, Ajay Jethi and Akhilesh Happy.


Workshop on foeticide ends
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 12
A two-day awareness workshop on “Gender discriminatory practices - female foeticide” concluded here today. Organised on the initiative of Principal Prof (Dr) Hepesh Shepherd, Dr Samuel Gill and Ms Rajni Bala (coordinator, women grievance cell, BUC College, Batala). It was jointly sponsored by the Education International, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, VIKASINI - Centre for Women Development (AIACHE), New Delhi and Multi Action Research Group (MARG) - A Delhi- based NGO. It was inaugurated by Dr Jatindra Jain, Chief of the police district and Mr Vijay Nayyar, local BDPO.


Residents demand shifting of liquor shop

Bathinda, February 12
Residents of the Partap Nagar area of the city have demanded the shifting of a liquor vend situated on the main road of their locality. Mr Anajani Kumar Sharma, president, Kshetriya Welfare Manch, in a press release here yesterday said that this vend had been putting a bad impression on the valnerable minds of kids. He alleged that women were afraid of venturing out in the area in the evening.

He claimed that a large number of residents of the area had signed an application in this connection, which would be put before the district administration. — TNS


Poet Deepak Jaitoi dead
Tribune News Service

Jaito, February 12
Renowned Punjabi poet Deepak Jaitoi died here today after a long illness. The 85-year-old poet, survived by his wife, three sons and five daughters, breathed his last around 10 am today.

Jaitoi’s admirers and people from all walks of life, especially those with literary background, visited his house to pay tributes to him. His body was consigned to flames in the afternoon.

Jaitoi was twice admitted to the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College Hospital in the past eight months, but his condition did not improve. His wife was also bed-ridden.

He was a winner of a plethora of awards, including the Shiromani Kavi Award and the Sahitya Academy Award. Jaitoi had

penned songs like ‘Ah le maye samb kunjiya, dhiya kar chalia sardari’ and ‘Gal soch ke kari jaildara, asa nahi kanaud jhelni’.


Family awaits body of only breadwinner
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
Even two days after the death of Rajinderjit Singh, who was allegedly tortured by the Ludhiana police, his family members have not got his body. Rajinderjit Singh died in the PGI on February 10.

The family of the deceased kept on waiting for the body throughout the day to perform last rites at Phool Khurd village here. Ms Sukhjinder Kaur, wife of the deceased, said Rajinderjit Singh’s body could not be brought from the PGI as a post-mortem examination was conducted in the evening. “For the past two days we have been waiting for the body. As the Ludhiana SDM, who is supposed to clear the formalities for the post-mortem examination, did not turn up, finally a tehshildar from Dera Bassi completed the formalities,” she said.

The secretary of the general unit of the Lawyers for Human Rights International, Mr Ravinder Singh Jolly, said the body of the deceased would be released in the morning. The last rites of the deceased would be performed tomorrow, he said.

The human rights body has demanded a compensation of 15 lakh from the state government as the deceased was the only breadwinner of the family”, he added.

Rajinderjit Singh was allgedly illegally detained by the Ludhiana police and had died due to police torture.


Doctor honoured
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 12
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, presented the best secretary state award of the National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA), Punjab, to Dr Hira Lal Garg, a doctor of Dhanaula at the state-level function organised at DAV College, Abohar.

According to a press note issued here today, the General Secretary, NIMA, Sangrur District, was adjudged the best secretary in recognition of his services for the association. He was offered a trophy and certificate of appreciation. 


Sirhind MC passes Rs 3 cr budget
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib. February 12
Annual budget of the Market Committee, Sirhind with Rs 10 lakh deficit was passed unanimously at a meeting of the house. Mr Ranjeet Singh Tarkhan Majra, Chairman of the Committee said budget of Rs 3 crore was passed. He said that Rs 30 lakh would be spent for the development of New Anaj Mandi, Rs 20 lakh on roads, Rs 5 lakh for the handicapped, Rs 7 lakh for public health.


New court complex opens in Moga
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 12
Mr Justice Hemant Kumar Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court inaugurated the civil courts complex here today.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Mr Justice Gupta, expressed the hope that the advocates and common people would get all facilities at the new premises and judicial work would be carried on smoothly. Later, District Bar Association president Naseeb Bawa presented a memorandum of demands to Mr Justice Gupta. He sought the setting up of a session division as there was adequate infrastructure for the same. He also demanded to turn this complex into purely judicial one and shift all the other offices to some other appropriate place. He urged that they be provided more accommodation for bar rooms. Mr Bawa demanded chambers for all the practising members of the DBA at the earliest.

The split caused in the DBA last month also left its mark on the inauguration ceremony, as the Gill group of the DBA “boycotted” the tea party hosted by their rival group after the inauguration. Interestingly, they invited Justice Gupta at 3 pm for having a cup of tea with them. They also handed over a memorandum of their demands to him.

The DBA (Gill) president, Mr Rajvinder Singh Gill, said that it was not a boycott, but mere resentment by the practising lawyers. He said that Mr Justice Gupta had assured them to look into their grievances.


10-yr jail for raping minor

Hoshiarpur, February 12
A Bihari youth has been sentenced 10 years imprisonment by Mr G.K. Rai, District and Sessions Judge, for allegedly raping an eight-year-old minor daughter of a migrant labourer in April last year.

Raju, a migrant from Muzzafarpur district of Bihar, had allegedly raped the daughter of a migrant labourer, who was staying in a rented accommodation in the Gokul Nagar area on April 13, 2004. The girl’s mother came to know about the incident when she found her missing and went to a neighbours house in search of her daughter. There, she, heard shrieks of her daughter, who was being raped by Raju.

Raju, was arrested on November 14, 2004.

Delivering the judgement, Mr Rai also ordered the accused to deposit a fine of Rs 5000, failing which he would have to undergo imprisonment for another three months.


16 youths freed on bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
Sixteen Unemployed Youth, Including two girls who were arrested for rioting on January 29, were freed on bail today.

Youths, all of whom have done the Elementary teacher training Course, (ETT), had attempted to force scale the barricades the way to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s residence on January 29. They were demanding the government to honour promise of recruiting them.

The Youths were bailed after being presented in a court unemployed ETT teacher unions president Jasvinder Singh Sandhu condemning the police for using force against them said the agitation of the union would continue. He said the union had decided to expose State Government during the on-going election campaign for the Ajnala Assembly by election. Mr Sandhu said the 50,000 odd unemployed teachers would camp in Ajnala in the coming days.


Bail for SAD leader

Ropar, February 12
Rajbir Singh Padiala, a senior Akali leader of SAD, was today granted interim bail for four days in a case of murder by a local court. He was granted interim bail from February 14 to February 18 to attend the wedding of his relative. TNS


Inspector booked for torturing milk-sellers
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 12
Taking a serious notice of police brutality, the district police authorities today registered a criminal case against Mr Harjinderpal Singh, Inspector, Punjab Police, for his alleged involvement in keeping three milk-sellers in illegal confinement and torturing them in custody while he was working as Station House Officer (SHO), police station, cantonment, in this town, a few months ago.

This is the second such incident in the past 48 hours where the district police has registered a case against the police official for harassing the law-abiding citizens and keeping them in illegal confinement.

Yesterday, a case was registered against an assistant sub inspector (ASI), who was in charge, police post, Vardhman, for keeping a resident of this town in illegal confinement on February 5.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Harjinderpal Singh, who was working as SHO, police station, cantonment, picked up three milk-sellers from the canal area of this town few months ago.

They were kept in illegal confinement and badly beaten without any ground.

Milk sellers Nachhattar Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Sukhpal Singh, who were residents of Gobind Pura village of this district had lodged a complaint to the SSP, Bathinda, Mr Kapil Dev.

Mr Dev taking a prompt action on the complaint ordered an inquiry into it.

After considering the report, Mr Dev ordered the registration of case against Mr Harjinderpal Singh.

A case in this connection was registered under Sections 342 and 323 of IPC in the police station, cantonment.


Teacher assaults Principal, booked
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 12
A school Principal, Mr Paramjit Singh, was mercilessly beaten up by a teacher of his school, Jarnail Singh, in Shankar village yesterday. After the incident, Jarnail Singh admitted himself in a Nakodar hospital.

When the principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Shankar, alongwith school staff went to lodge a complaint at the Nakodar police station they were surprised to know that Jarnail Singh had already lodged a complaint against the Principal. However, the police verified the facts and registered a case against Jarnail Singh for assaulting the Principal.

According to information Jarnail Singh tried to tease a female colleague. She complained to the Principal and the District Education Officer who inquired about the incident and found the teacher guilty.

The DEO recommended his transfer from the school and DPI (Schools) Punjab, ordered for his transfer on the recommendation of the District Education Officer. When the Principal called Jarnail Singh to hand over his transfer orders yesterday, Jarnail Singh attacked the Principal.

The police has failed to arrest Jarnail Singh till the filing of this report.


1 booked for manhandling SDO

Doraha, February 12
A resident of Jarg village has been booked for allegedly manhandling a Subdivisional Officer (SDO) posted at Rauni today.

According to a complaint lodged by a senior official of the PSEB at Khanna, a resident of Jarg village, Bharpoor Singh, who was in a drunkard state came to the electricity board at Rauni and started using abusive language.

Not only did he threaten the SDO but also attacked him.

A case has been registered.


40 lakh for giving vocational training to ex-servicemen
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 40 lakh for conducting vocational training courses for ex-servicemen as well as their dependents. These courses are designed to help ex-servicemen get post-retirement employment.

Though the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, had initiated several training courses earlier, these had come to a virtual standstill due to want of funds. The courses include computer applications up to the post graduate level, for which affiliation has been obtained from Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, stenography and typing.

Besides, pre-recruitment training is also undertaken for dependents of ex-servicemen joining the armed forces or the Railways.

The courses are being run at Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ropar, Faridkot and Patiala.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR) has given a grant of Rs 18 lakh to the directorate for running resettlement courses for ex-servicemen. Director, Sainik Welfare (DSW), Brig J S Jaswal (retd), said that it was for the first time that funds had been received from the DGR. The DGR is part of the Defence Ministry and is responsible for all policy and training matters concerning post-retirement rehabilitation.

Availability of funds for running various welfare schemes has always been an issue with the directorate.

The Armed Forces Flag Day Fund was an important source and there has been a noticeable increase in collections over the past two years.

The collections for this year are estimated to touch Rs 80 lakh as compared to about Rs 50 lakh last year. The year before this, the collections stood at about Rs 33 lakh.

Besides other welfare measures, collections from this fund are also used to pay relief to next of kin of those killed on active service.

Last month, the government also revised the Flag Day Fund Rules, which were framed in 1989. Under the new rules, the DSW can now sanction relief to needy ex-servicemen or their dependents totalling Rs 3 lakh a year. Earlier, the annual limit was Rs 1 lakh.

Similarly, the powers have increased down the line. Sainik welfare officers at the district level can now sanction up to Rs 1,000 per individual from Rs 500 earlier.

The powers of deputy commissioners have been raised from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,500, Brigadier Jaswal added.


PTU’s programme under scanner
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
The tele-education service of Punjab Technical University (PTU) launched in collaboration with a Bangalore-based IT company for the students enrolled in distance education programme has once again come under scanner.

While the Department of Technical Education had earlier held an inquiry into the technical snag that had occurred during its day of launch when President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had held the first live session with the university students, an inquiry has now been marked into the working and effectiveness of the multi-crore project that has been on for the past nearly six months.

Mr N.S. Kalsi, Director-cum-Secretary of the Department of Information Technology, Punjab, confirmed that the inquiry was under way for the past more than fortnight and he had now asked the PTU to furnish more information about the project. He said it would take him at least a week to prepare the report and forward it to the Board of Governors of the university.

The inquiry was reportedly initiated after various learning centres of the university complained that they were not getting adequate facilities and that the relay of the lectures from the university studio was much interrupted. The committee set up for the inquiry has, therefore, also sought feedback in writing from the learning centres to get a detailed account of the problems that the students located at various centres had been facing.

It is learnt that at least eight learning centres of the university have already sent their response citing various problems that they had been facing. The centre heads have pointed out that the website www. forwardptu.org did not give them the schedule of the lectures that sometimes went off unattended. They have even stated that the recorded version of the lectures was also not available on the portal as was committed to them earlier. They have also written that the telecast was very poor with poor sound or visuals.


Prize for robot developed by Fatehgarh Sahib students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
A robot designed by students of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC), Fatehgarh Sahib, has won a special award at an international robotics competition, “Survivor,” organised by the Indian Institute of Technology( IIT), Mumbai. As many as 109 students from all parts of the world participated in the competition.

Member-secretary of the college management committee Kirpal Singh Libra congratulating the students and said the student team would be honored shortly.

Talking about the competition, the college Principal, Dr DS Hira, said that teams from the USA, Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and various other countries participated in the competition. He said a high-powered jury headed by Professor C. Amarnath of IIT, Mumbai, who is a famed personality in the field of robotics, judged the machines on the various design aspects and the college robot, which was named “Fateh,” managed to grab the jury’s special award.

The competition was entitled as “Mechanism of Idea Implementation”. Amandeep Singh, Manmeet Singh, Amit Koshal, Vikas Dhawan, Puneet Gupta (third year students of the Electronics Department of the college) designed both the mechanical structure and electronics circuit of the robot in the college.

Prof Gurdarshan Singh Tiwana of the Electronics Department of the college guided the students for five months to complete the project. He said that Prof Lakhwinder Singh, Head, Department of Electronics, Prof B S Brar, Prof R S Uppal of the BBSBEC and Fateh Singh Mander of Montek Instruments, Chandigarh, were in the advisory committee of the project.

Prof Tiwana informed that the project was to design a wireless remote-controlled machine, which in the first stage could travels up a slope to reach a platform of 1 metre high and then it has to jumps off the platform to reach the ground. He said in the second stage that was after landing, the machine was to pick and place blocks as per instructions. In the last stage, the machine had to move on the ground while following a line without remote control.


‘Plan career with caution’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 12
There is a need to impart proper knowledge about educational, vocational courses and job opportunities to the students in the schools in the present scenario, not only in the state but also in the country. For this, emphasis on job guidance activities in the schools is the need of the hour.

This was stated by Dr Maghar Singh, District Education Officer (Secondary), Sangrur, while addressing a career conference-cum-exhibition, organised by the Education Department in collaboration with the District Employment Office at Namol village, about 10 km from here, yesterday. The motive of the conference was to guide the student community regarding the choice of higher educational and vocational courses. More than 200 students and teachers participated in the conference.

Dr Maghar Singh also exhorted the students to know their capabilities before selecting educational and vocational courses after matriculation. He also appealed to the parents to decide the courses for their wards as per the interests and abilities of their children instead of imposing a specific course on them of their own choice.

Mr Amar Bhushan Aggarwal, District Employment Officer, Sangrur, enlightened the students about various jobs and competitive examinations to select a career. He also delivered a detailed lecture on the topic “What to do after 10 plus two”.

Mr Raj Kumar Garg, District Guidance Counsellor, Sangrur, spoke on the topic “Career planning”. He asked the students to be careful while selecting their courses.

In this conference, experts from different departments also gave lectures. The experts from different fields included Ex-Subedar Nachhatar Singh, Employment Officer Iqbal Singh, District Coordinator (Vocational) in Education Department Suresh Kumar Singla, Assistant Education Officer (Sports) Gurdev Singh, Principal of Namol Government Senior Secondary School Ashok Kumar Dhir, and Dr Rekha Chandra from State Bureau of Educational and Vocational Guidance, Punjab, Chandigarh.


Tribune Impact
Students held on charge of impersonation
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 12
Several students of Class V were caught on charges of impersonation during a surprise raid conducted by Mr Baldev Raj, Deputy Director State Council of Education, Research Training, at the Primary School , Nai Abadi, Verka, 10 km from here, today .

Earlier , Dr Raj Kumar , Chief Parliamentary Secretary had caught six students of Class V on impersonation charges .

Mr Baldev Raj said he had recommended the immediate suspension of Block Education Officer and staff of the Verka school . He recorded the statement of the ‘bogus students’ appearing in the examination. He alleged that the impersonation was being done in connivance with the staff and senior officials of education.

Earlier, packets of Class V examination papers, supplied by the state government to various centres were found to be without proper seals or official stamps.


Barnala awards 850 degrees
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
The Governor of Tamil Nadu, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, awarded 426 postgraduate and 424 graduate degrees at DAV College here today.

In his address, Mr Barnala stressed on value-based education, which should contribute towards the economic growth of the nation. He urged the students to cultivate the aptitude of entrepreneurship, develop the knack to take calculated skills and gear up for taking up challenging tasks.

Talking to mediapersons, he favoured the translation of Guru Granth Sahib in other languages. The Tamil Nadu Governor said through translated versions, people of different parts of the country would learn about the message given in Guru Granth Sahib.

Talking about the destruction caused by the tsunami in Tamil Nadu, Mr Barnala said hundreds of persons had been killed and about 20,000 boats damaged in the tsunami. He added that rehabilitation in Tamil Nadu was going on in full swing.

Referring to the turban ban in France, Mr Barnala said the French Government was seemingly not aware about the importance of the turban of Sikhs.


GND varsity body calls off strike
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 12
The Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association (GNDUTA) today called off its 40-day-old strike following the convening of the academic council meeting by the Vice-Chancellor on February 21 here.

Dr Kuildip Singh, general secretary, GNDUTA, however, said the symbolic dharna by the executive body would continue till the meeting of the council. He said the teaching, which was suspended, would be restored immediately.


34 students given prizes

Jalandhar, February 12
Nearly 34 students of Apeejay College of Fine Arts received prizes during the annual prize distribution function held here today.

Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, Mr Yash Raj Aggarwal, general secretary of the Apeejay Education Society, and other prominent dignitaries were taken around the campus and shown the work of budding artists in design, painting and commercial art. TNS

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