P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Thousands bid tearful adieu to Abhi
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, February 15
Thousands of grief-stricken residents paid a tearful adieu to Abhi as his body was cremated at about 5.30 p.m. at the local Bhangi choe cremation grounds. The rain failed to stop the residents, who gathered at the cremation ground and joined the family in their moment of despair. They did not shout any slogans, but simply bowed their heads to pay their homage to innocent Abhi, who was done to death by his abductors.

The body of Abhi, the post-mortem examination of which was done at Civil Hospital Jalandhar, was taken to his house, from where large number of people, followed it and soon it took the shape of a big procession. It was taken to Dabbi bazaar and then to a temple, after which, family members, relatives and others proceeded towards the cremation grounds, where, the pyre was lit by Abhi’s father Ravi Verma.

Abhi’s grandmother, Pushpa, and mother, Anita, were wailing and inconsolable.

The cremation was also attended by Deputy Commissioner D.K. Tiwari and Punjab Health Minister Ramesh Chander Dogra.

Meanwhile, a local court has remanded alleged killers Vicky, Jasbir Singh, and his wife Sonia in four days’ police custody.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress Committee General Secretary, Mr Parminder Singh, and the Punjab Minister, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, has expressed their sympathy with the family and demanded that law should be amended to make a provision of capital punishment to abductors of Children.



Abhi’s killers had done good deal of homework
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 15
Debt-ridden killers of Abhi Verma, alias Harry, had done a good deal of “homework” before executing their “meticulous abduction plan”, under which they had been developing affinity with Abhi for quite some time.

Killing of Abhi was allegedly pre-conceived by the kidnappers, Vicky, Jasbir Singh and Sonia, who aquainted themselves with Harry just to avoid detection of crime after its execution.

There was no room in the plan for release of Abhi even if his parents had paid the ransom as they had pre-planned to kill him because they were aware that if released their victim could create a number of problems for them.

While Vicky was indebted to Ravi Verma, from whom he had got jewellery for his marriage made, to the tune of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, Jasbir Singh, whose wife was a cousin of Vicky, had taken a loan of similar amount from Vicky.

Both Vicky and Jasbir, according to Mr S.K. Sharma, IG, Jalandhar Zone, who supervised the investigation which led the crime to crack within 18 hours, were upset over their loans. “To get rid of their loans, they made the plan. Developing affinity with Abhi was part of the plan, according to which, they had to first kidnap Abhi without any suspicion and then kill him to avoid revelation of their identity at a later stage. They would have killed him even if the money was paid to them as per the plan. This way they could go scot-free,” said Mr Sharma.

Vicky not only threatened Ravi Verma during his last call to the latter at around 7.45 p.m. on Monday but he had also allegedly visited the house of Abhi twice on Monday to take stock of the situation. During his last call, made from mobile phone No. 98147-83418, Vicky had ordered Ravi Verma to come to the Phagwara road along with the money, and told him that after reaching the fixed point, next instructions would be issued to him. But Ravi Verma insisted that he wanted to talk to his son to ensure that he was safe.

But the plan crashlanded as somebody indicated to the police about the possible involvement of Vicky in the crime. Then Ravi Verma was asked as if he knew some Vicky? When he confirmed, the police raided the house of Vicky and the Milap Nagar house of Jasbir at around 12.30 a.m. today and from where the schoolbag of Abhi was recovered, said Mr Sharma, adding that the accused had confessed to having committed the crime.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examination of Abhi has indicated that the cause of his death could be suffocation.


Bid to kidnap PHRO Deputy Chairman’s son
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 15
Unidentified persons allegedly tried to kidnap Gurmit Singh (21), son of Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), who is also a prime eyewitness in the Jaswant Singh Khalra disappearance case.

While giving details of the incident in a press release here today, Mr Randhawa said that when Gurmit was returning home from a PCO, he was called and followed by two car-borne clean-shaven persons. He said he ran into a dark lane and managed to enter a police official’s house, who immediately called him (Mr Randhawa). 


2 children missing in Machhiwara
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, February 15
Two children (brother and sister) belonging to a poor Dalit family of Gobind Nagar, Rahon Road, here have been missing for the past three days.

The missing girl, Sony (13), is a student of Class VI in Government Senior Secondary School and her brother Gurmeet (11) studies in Government Primary School.

Father of the children Lal Singh works with a farmer near the Budha river. He said his both children had gone to the market to buy some domestic commodities on the morning of February 12 but didn’t return. He informed the police about the incident yesterday.

The SHO, Machhiwara, Balwinder Singh, ruled out any possibility of abduction.


Only 8 pc of planned sum spent on sugarcane promotion
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 15
Much stress is being laid by the Punjab Government on the diversification of the crops in the state. However, the data regarding the amount spent by the government on promoting alternative crops in the state tells a different story.

The Punjab Sugarcane (Regulation of Purchase and Supply) Act, 1953 provides that before the 15th of each month, the occupier or agent of a factory shall deposit the sugarcane tax due on sugarcane purchased during the previous month.

Further, as per the recommendations of the Budget Estimate Committee, the amount was to be utilised for the development of sugarcane. As per the CAG report against the tax collection of Rs 6.75 crore during 2000-03, the department spent only Rs 53 lakh just 8 per cent on the promotion of sugarcane cultivation.

The committee recommended the utilisation of the fund with a view to encourage cultivation of sugarcane and to make sure that the department makes timely payments to cultivators.

In addition to that against the crushing capacity of 2,786.40 lakh quintals of 22 sugar-mills in Punjab, the actual crushing was only 1,740.83 lakh quintals during 2000-03. Thus, 38 per cent capacity of sugar mills remained under-utilised.

Instead of improving the situation the sources in the department of cooperative told that already the move had been initiated to close down the Jagraon, Patiala and Zira cooperative sugar mills. After closing them the government might offer them to private entrepreneurs.

The farmers associated with the cooperative mills, however, alleged that the move just to create the monopoly of the private sector in the sugar sector especially in Punjab.

Presently there are 15 cooperative and seven private sector sugar mills in the state. The government was allegedly closing the above mentioned cooperative mills on the plea that they were incurring losses. The cooperative sugar mills were, however, incurring losses due to the government policies.

The cooperative mills were forced to sell molasses to distilleries in the state at the rate of Rs 170 per quintal whereas the private sugar mills sell the same at the rate of Rs 700 per quintal. If cooperative sugar mills were allowed to sell molasses alone at market rates they would register profit and won’t require government support.

In addition to that the cooperative mills work at their full capacity during the season. The Batala cooperative sugar mill in this district registered 113 per cent production this year. 


Class VIII student hangs self
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
A Class VIII student committed suicide last evening in the Tawakali Mor area of the city by hanging himself from a ceiling fan. Friends and relatives of the student said he took this extreme step because he did not receive the roll number of the examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board.

The boy, Lucky, had earlier seen his name being struck off the list of regular students of Bhai Ram Kishan School in the Urban Estate. This was done as he could not clear a test conducted by the school during the run-up to the examinations which started today.

School Chairman Chamkaur Singh said Lucky was asked to take the examination as a private student and that some other students of the same class had also been asked to appear as private students.

Meanwhile, even though Lucky’s father Bhupinder Singh maintained a strong silence on the issue, his relatives and neighbours said he was under depression because he did not receive his roll number. They said they did not know whether Lucky had filled the form received from the school authorities and deposited it to the office created for this purpose at Chhoti Baradari.

Mr Bhupinder Singh did not allow photographs to be taken. His relatives said Lucky had gone to his room with the purpose of studying at around 5.30 pm. One hour later, when one of the family members opened the door to his room, he saw the boy hanging from the ceiling fan.

The boy was taken to a private hospital but was declared brought dead. The matter has not been brought to the notice of the police.


Rain spoils mela; rewards Valentines
Aditi Tandon

Even after Valentine’s Day, Sheesh Mahal served as a perfect dating place for love-struck couples. Least interested in the rich crafts on display, the youth made themselves comfortable in all corners of the venue which looked even more stunning in the rain. Where the artisans were seen sulking in bad weather, the young ones were busy soaking wet and sipping into freshly brewed coffee.

The most favourite stall of the day was the one that served eateries and beverages. Potters were the worst hit as they have been displaying their ware on the grounds. Thanks to the downpour, none of the 250 visiting folk artistes could cast a spell today.

Pt Sharma charms, so does his pashmina shawl

Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma is best known for two things – his wondrous santoor and his impressive wardrobe. So when the maestro took charge of the stage last evening, he was being keenly admired for three things — the delicacy of his musical strikes, the use of Punjabi language for introduction and the intricate pattern on his pashmina shawl.

The women were most interested, racking their brains over the possible source of such a fine piece. “Kashmiri lagdi ae”, said one while the other expressed an instant desire to present a similar shawl to her son-in-law. The fabulous black piece rich with mustard handiwork certainly cast its own spell. Other attractive patterns were woven by Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and his ever-youthful santoor.

Of royal musicians

Shafaat Ahmed Khan, who was accompanying Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma on the santoor, would not have expected such a rousing welcome from Patiala. But the Patialavis had their own reasons to accord a warm reception to Shafaat Ahmed Khan. He hails from the family of Ustad Mamman Khan, who was once the royal musician in Patiala “darbar’. Soon as Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma introduced the accompanist, the gathering at Quila Mubarak let itself loose. The frenzied “Punjabi” style applause was what followed.

Poor tabla coordination

Savita Devi’s vocal recital was the best thing that happened during the Heritage Festival on Monday. The only sore point of the show was lack of coordination between the tabla players of Savita Devi on the one hand and Pt Anant Lal, who accompanied her on the shehnai, on the other.

At one moment, the celebrated vocalist was flabbergasted by the dissonance that marred the concert. She actually broke her recital for some seconds to allow the tabla players to get hold of the rhythm. In all, she impressed one and all with her rendition of dadra, hori and Bulle Shah’s kaafi.

No one to receive Pt Bhatt

There was no one to receive Grammy award winner Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who arrived in Patiala at about 3 pm. Lost, the legendary musician had to find his own way up to the room. Had it not been for the fast response of hotel owners, the Mohan Veena player would have been seen waiting for the liaison officer to appear at the scene and take him to his room with dignity.


Exponent of Mohan veena finds talent
in Tihar Jail inmates

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s urge for newness has always taken him to unknown destinations. It was this very urge that inspired the creation of Mohan veena, which became his link to the coveted Grammy in 1994.

Years after the Grammy too, the illustrious musician has not been revelling in his past glory. He has been busy creating new sounds and taking music to unexpected realms, even jails.

In Patiala today for the ongoing heritage festival, the celebrated exponent of Mohan veena spoke to The Tribune about his latest assignment – musical presentation of the poetry written by some Tihar Jail inmates.

“Tihar Jail has some very fine talent. I have collected the poetry of few prisoners who have dealt with pathos very poignantly. It’s not going to be an easy task as it will involve an aesthetic presentation of a cruel emotion,” says the maestro, best known for modifying the instrument to gratify his passion for ingenuity.

The creation of Vishwa veena was one of the major experiments that caught the world of music by storm. But having created that, Pandit Bhatt did not afford the privilege of rest. “As a musician, I can never stop thinking fresh. Even when I compare Mohan veena with Vishwa veena, I know where my edge lies. My vocation is to experiment with new sounds, new people, new music, and I have done that to the best of my ability. But I confess that Mohan veena is my first love. I play it more than the Vishwa veena.”

The audience response to the two instruments has, however, been fairly balanced. Smiles the musician, “It has to be, because both the instruments are, after all, the harbingers of one man’s dreams.” And Pandit Bhatt’s dreams have not yet failed him.

He has managed to go through the most challenging assignments with dignity and perfection. His jugalbandi with the Chinese Erhu player Jei Bing Chen easily passes off as historical, as it made him the first ever Indian to have ever collaborated with a Chinese Besides, he has also played the Mohan veena with American Doubro guitar player Jerry Douglas; and with the Arabian Oudh player Simon Shaheen. The experience of playing with Simon Shaheen, however, yielded greater pleasure to Pandit Bhatt who was smitten by the quality of final sound. “Oudh belongs to the rabab family. Its sound is incredible, its texture superb. I enjoyed playing with Simon as much as I enjoyed making music for the Grammy award-winning album “A Meeting by the River” with Ry Cooder. Spontaneity wrote the success of both these albums.”

As for the creative hiccups, Pandit Bhatt also had some. “Kalidasa’s “Meghdootam” was the toughest to handle. It was a challenge to translate Kalidasa’s verse into a metre of rhythm. Ramayana and Geeta Govindam were not so difficult as they are written in a lyrical fashion. But “Meghdootam” strained my energy the most,” tells Pandit Bhatt.


Spilling sculpturesque charm
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
Had it not been for Indrani Rehman, Kiran Segal would not have cherished Odissi the way she does. Floored by the lyrical patterns of the magnificent form, its sculpturesque grace and its nostalgic charm, Kiran detoured from the predictable path which would have led anywhere except where it did.

And in no way did she let her mother Zohra Segal down. Like her parents she may not have followed in Uday Shankar’s ballet tradition, but much like them she pursued the path of experimentation to nourish her chosen form with vim and vigour.

Today Kiran stands credited with the resurgence of Odissi – a form which she safely escorted from the flourishing compounds of temples like Konark to the humble premises of schools, colleges and even homes.

The mention of success evokes humble responses from the danseuse who presented a fusion piece with Bharati Shivaji’s mohiniattam during the Patiala Heritage Festival today.

“I keep my date with SPIC MACAY which is doing a wonderful job by taking youngsters closer to heritage. My aim is also to show the youth that they need not run away from roots to appear contemporary. With this in mind, I created three productions which draw from two seemingly contradictory elements – history and moment,” says Kiran.

These productions include “Rhythms and moods of Orissa: from tradition to contemporary”, “Whispering moods” and “Agni – the fire within”. Deliberately conceived, they typify Kiran’s experimental style. The dancer admits, “I was hurt to see students learning jazz. I also hated the way the term choreography was used. People were talking about it without even knowing its grammar. My challenge was to make my students see through wall of tradition.”

Hence came “Whispering moods” which was based on L. Subramaniam’s music and Orissi movements. “Agni…” traced the struggles of a woman; another piece “Taalangya” captured the magic of Dhrupad, the oldest form of singing in India, through striking postures of Odissi.

Kiran thus proved to her students that they didn’t have to be westernised to look contemporary. ‘They got the message and came hankering after my style,” recalls Kiran, who recently choreographed an Oriya song. Incidentally, she is among the few dancers who have dabbled in Oriya and Sanskrit text. She has translated into Odissi several works of poet saints like Surdas (Uttar Pradesh), Keshav Das (Madhya Pradesh), Purandara Das (Karnataka) and Adi Shankaracharya (Kerala).

More recently, she attempted to combine Odissi with Bharati Shivaji’s mohiniattam. “The results have been fascinating. It’s fulfilling to watch two forms complement each other on stage,” says Kiran. For Patiala, the friends choreographed a sequence to go with the romance of spring.

All fresh, the presentation was born a few days ago. Ask Kiran how she managed such a spontaneous creation, and she refers to her disciplined upbringing, thanks to Zohra Segal. “She would drag me to dance rehearsals. I would fret and frown but to no avail. Thanks to her, I woke up to the urgency of commitment. Also, I will always be thankful to her for having spared me my freedom. She never disapproved of my romance with Odissi,’ Kiran winds up.


Savita Devi enraptures with myriad musical shades
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
Those who watched Savita Devi in recital last evening would know why she is called the darling of concert circuit. The clarity of diction, the flourish of style, the punch of repertoire and the elegance of presentation – this daughter of thumri queen Siddheshwari Devi has everything going for her.

But for Pt Anant Lal’s shehnai rendition which took very long to wind up, yesterday’s concert by Savita Devi would have been the highlight of Patiala Heritage Festival at Quila Mubarak. Last evening’s chief guest at the classical music concert was Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune Group of Publications.

As long as the vocalist remained in charge of the stage, she kept the audience engrossed by offering them a variety typical to Banaras musical traditions. Thumri was the jewel in the show’s crown; dadra, hori and Bulle Shah’s kaafi were other indispensable accessories.

Fired by variety and purity, the concert ended on a pleasing, peaceful note, with Savita Devi singing a Sufi piece for the audience. And though her diction of Bulle Shah’s kaafi was not as clear, her offering was committed and soulful, and that made all the difference.

Earlier, she transported the listeners to the ghats of Benaras, with her remarkable rendering of a dadra composition – “Baanke saiyaan na jaane man ki batiyaan ho ram…” Interspersing this piece with a collection of verses sourced from all over, Savita Devi decorated the concert with myriad shades. The listeners sat enraptured, thirsting for more of her seemingly semi-classical fare. The beauty of Savita Devi’s presentation lay in her ability to make the classical appear contemporary.

The audience was naturally enraptured, so much so that when the shehnai players took over, they wished to have Savita Devi in command again. For their part, Pt Anant Lal and his disciples added romance to the ambience. But utter lack of coordination between the tabla players marred the beauty of the show.

The evening concluded on a peaceful note, courtesy Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma who struck a brilliant rapport with Shafaat Ahmed Khan on tabla. Taking a cue from the spring season, Pt Sharma played compositions of “shingaar rasa”. The raag was Bageshwari.


Mohiniyattam rescuer wants to go global
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
For someone who single-handedly rescued a dying art form, virtually reconstructing it through years of research, Bharati Shivaji is not one to rest on her laurels. The artiste now even wants to incorporate North Indian traditions in mohiniyattam, the Kerala dance form, and even go global by incorporating western classical music traditions into it.

Bharati Shivaji’s has been a long journey. Ironically, she trained in bharatnatyam and odissi from the age of eight and it was only later that she took to mohiniyattam. Her mother K. Shankari, who was a vocalist, introduced her to music and dance.

“Music was a way of life at home with the dance teacher arriving at 6.30 am,” she says. Though the artiste was open to various influences, she made up her mind on her chosen career when she saw the legendary Indrani Rehman performing the dance form.

She got a scholarship to do research in the dance form from the Sangeet Natak Akademi and after this a fellowship from the Union Ministry’s Department of Culture. “I had already decided to make the dance form a way of life after watching Indrani Rehman,” says Bharati Shivaji, adding that the scholarships served as a further catalyst which saw a lifetime of work on the dance form.

“Mohiniyattam was languishing in Kerala due to sheer indifference and it had to be virtually reconstructed”, says Bharati. She says when she took up the dance form for research its repertoire had become very limited as well as repetitive. “A repertoire like Ganesh Vandana would take, say around half an hour”, she said.

“I decided to study the native traditions of Kerala and incorporate them in the repertoire of the dance form. The end result is an assimilation of the native traditions with the different regional art forms of the state”, she says.

The experiment has been more than successful with the artiste becoming set to incorporate North Indian traditions like the “Ram Charit Manas” in mohiniyattam. “I want to go even further by incorporating western classics in the dance form so that it can reach out to a global audience”, she says.

It is for this as well as further research and training in the dance form that an institution by the name of “Centre for mohiniyattam” has been established by her at Delhi. It has a branch in Kerala.

Even when all this is being done, Bharati is keen that the individuality and regional ethos of the dance form should be preserved. “We are trying to reconstruct and expand the parameters of mohiniyattam but that does not mean that its regional ethos is being diluted”, she says.

For Bharati the mohiniyattam is everything. “It gave purpose to my life and has made me experience the subtleties of human experience. I can myself play different roles today because of mohiniyattam”, she adds. 


Contractors exploit migrants
from Bangladesh, Burma
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 15
Illegal migrants from Burma and Bangladesh are being forced to work as bonded labourers just for ration for two meals by human traffickers. If they try to resist their exploitation, they are handed over to the police.

This is the story of 12 residents of Burma and Bangladesh, who were recently caught by the police from a brick-kiln near Pathankot. Talking to The Tribune here today, Nooral Islam, alias Bholu, the only person among them who speaks Hindi, said they belonged to the Ikyap area of Burma.

He said due to conflict in the country they were forced to migrate to Bangladesh. In Bangladesh they were kept in refugee camps. They met Bhola who told them that he could help them cross over to India. They paid Rs 1,000 per person to Bhola out of which he paid Rs 400 per person to the person guarding a post on the Indo-Bangladesh border in the Benapur area.

After crossing the border, Bhola boarded them on a train to Delhi. They reached Delhi around 18 months ago. They worked as labourers, initially there and then at Saharanpur. Since their identity was exposed easily because of their dialect, most of the employers exploited them by making them work just for food. They were threatened that if they resisted, they would be handed over to the police.

At Saharanpur they came in contact with a labour contractor, Kalu. He told them that he could help them cross over to Pakistan. He brought them to the Hira Nagar area of Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. The police caught them at the Indo-Pak border, near Hiranagar. Kalu escaped. The police boarded them on a train to Pathankot warning them against coming to the state in future.

They came to Pathankot and where they worked for Anjum at Sarna for over a month. They had to break stones on roadside even in extreme cold. When they asked for payment Anjum handed them over to the police.

The Bangladeshi refugees said many of them came to India through agents who sent them to industries, brick-kilns etc through labour contractors. At the work site they were kept as bonded labourers. If anyone tried to resist, he was handed over to the police.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh, said the police was bound to arrest illegal migrants in the country. However, if someone was found employing and exploiting them, suitable action would be taken against him. Owing to an increase in the number of Bangladeshis crossing the Indo-Pakistan border, the police was trying to break the nexus of labour contractors.


Priest succumbs to injuries
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 15
The death of Christian priest Father Mark has turned into an emotional issue, which has divided the Christian community here over his burial. Father Mark succumbed to his serious injuries at a private hospital here today. He was injured under mysterious circumstances while allegedly handling explosives in his house in the Gumtala area on February 13.

A drama was enacted at St Francis Church here by the representatives of Father Mark’s disciples from Ajnala and the diocese of Catholic Church, Jalandhar, as both tried to take the forcible possession of the body while the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, a close associate of the deceased priest, skipped the funeral mass in view of the tension.

Father, a priest of St Mary’s church, who was seriously injured in a blast at his house under mysterious circumstances in the Kiran locality of Gumtala falling in the border tehsil of Ajnala, today succumbed to his injuries at a private hospital here. The administration has decided to break the impasse by handing over the body to only his relations and they would be informed.

The Christian community, which has a large chunk of voters in the Ajnala constituency where byelection is going to take place on February 23, and Christian leaders have threatened that in case the government failed to hand over the body of Father Mark for burial in his native village, they would ensure the defeat of the Congress candidate. A member of the Service Selection Board, Mr Kamal Bakshi, who is spearheading the demand for his burial at Gumtala, said that the Chief Minister must ensure this as the entire Christian community was indebted to the Father for his services.

According to preliminary information, the explosion took place in the afternoon while he was allegedly handling explosives, which accidentally went off and completely severed his left arm, crushed the right hand and caused serious injuries in the stomach. Earlier, it was being described as bursting of a cylinder. The police immediately had washed the spot removing blood spread on the floor. Initially, it was also reported that Father Mark was injured in gas cylinder blast.

However, residents of the area had said Father Mark, a Canadian Christian missionary, who is residing here for the past four decades, was reportedly cleaning his telescopic rifle of .315 bore when the accident occurred. He is also known in the locality for his fondness for hunting.

The police and the district administration have made elaborate arrangement to ward off any untoward incident over the issue of burial.


Protest march against Ashutosh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 15
Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, today urged the state government to impose a ban on the activities of Ashutosh, head of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, as the same were against the Sikh religion and aimed at disturbing the communal peace and tranquillity in the state.

Bhai Nandgarh, who led the march taken out by hundreds of Sikhs, including women, children and members of the SGPC from the local Qila Mubarak Gurdwara, said that when the sansthan did not believe in Guru Granth Sahib, and worship living people then why Ashutosh had been using Guru Granth Sahib for his so-called religious mission.

He said that though various Sikh organisations had been lodging protests against the activities of Ashutosh for the past many years in a peaceful manner, the authorities concerned had been taking no step to stop his activities.

He said that no true Sikh would allow such people to use Guru Granth Sahib for the purpose which had been misleading the people.

Later, the people, who participated in the protest taken out in main bazars of the city, submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, and urged him to make arrangements for stopping construction of a dera (prayer hall) by the followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan in this town.


Corporation staff not paid salaries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
Ousted employees of the Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation ( PLDRC) have been running from pillar to post to get their balance dues from the state government. But to no avail.

The president of the Worker’s Union, Mr Dalip Singh, said as many as 203 employees of the board had not received salary for a single month since January, 2004. In fact, these employees were packed off without clearance of any dues when the government wound up the board on November 30 last year.

The agitated employees who have virtually taken to the streets have been struggling to get their salaries for the last one year but now ever since their retrenchment, they are looking towards the government for getting those dues, which are a part of the VRS package offered to them, he added.

Seema, an employee hailing from Bhikiwind village in Amritsar could, not bear the shock of losing her permanent job and died. The plight of several others is no different for they are at loss to understand as to how to make both ends meet without a regular source of income.

Mr Dalip Singh alleged that the government, while winding up many other boards and corporations, gave the employees their dues either from its own funds or some other sources before showing them the door but the story is different when it comes to their board. Repeated requests of the employees to get their salaries released for the past one year and the VRS dues have fallen on deaf ears, he added. Faced with an uncertain future, most of these employees do not know the fate of their families in the days to come.

According to available information, the corporation had 2,800 acres of land, of which 1,250 acres had been given to the Punjab Agricultural University,

Ludhiana. The board till date has not received any payment for nearly 1,000 acres which had been given to the university. Later, 1,000 acres of the remaining land were sold off to Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation ( PAFC) and the board was to get Rs 25 crore for the same.

An official of the corporation said the employees had to be retrenched in the wake of the corporation being wound up and assured their dues would be paid in due course after the process of audit of accounts was completed.


Court stays operation of Wakf Board decisions
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 15
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the operation of the decisions taken by the members of the Punjab Wakf Board at a meeting held on February 11. The petition was filed by Ms Razia Sultan, MLA, who is also chairperson of the Wakf Board, challenging the legality of the meeting in which all powers were vested in Punjab Police ADGP Mohammed Izhar Alam, who is also the official member of the board.

In her petition she stated that the meeting was unconstitutional and illegal as it was requisitioned illegally and without the notice or consent of the chairperson. Ms Sultana is the wife of Mr Mohammad Mustafa, Inspector-General of Police.

Some days back Ms Sultana, who represents Malerkotla constituency in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, had lodged a complaint with the Chandigarh Police, alleging therein that the Chandigarh police had locked her up in her Waqf Board office for three hours at the instance of Mr Izhar Alam.

Mr Izhar Alam’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the board was sometime back stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The petition challenging his appointment as CEO was filed by Ludhiana resident Alamudin. The petitioner’s stand was that Mr Izhar Alam could not have been done as a board member cannot be made CEO.

Today, on Ms Sultana’s petition, the Division Bench of Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice Surya Kant, while staying the delegation of powers to Mr Izhar Alam, also issued notice of motion for March 29.


Weather prevents Army Chief from
immersing mother’s ashes

Tribune News Service

Kiratpur (Ropar), February 15
Army Chief J. J. Singh could not immerse ashes of his mother into the Sutlej in Kiratpur Sahib today as the helicopter he has to board from Chandigarh did not take off due to poor weather conditions.

The Army Chief was scheduled to visit Patalpuri Sahib Gurdwara in Kiratpur Sahib at 10 am to immerse ashes of his mother Rani Jaspal Kaur. She had died on February 12 at Brar Square in Delhi cantonment.

Since early morning, a large number of Army personnel had been deployed at a helipad in Dashmesh academy in Anandpur Sahib. Punjab police personnel were also deployed on the roads between the academy and the gurdwara.

Later, it was informed that the Army Chief would be coming through the road route. But again he did not turn up.

Thereafter the visit was cancelled as the Army Chief had to attend a meeting with the Prime Minister after 2 p.m.


Residents burn effigy of DC, observe bandh
Tribune News Service

Goniana (Bathinda), February 15
A complete bandh was observed in this town and effigies of the Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council were burnt by residents to lodge their protest against the construction of a new bus stand by a private agency. The bus stand has been located away from the town.

The residents, including shopkeepers, who downed their shutters and assembled in the local panchayati dharamshala, held a march to press the authorities concerned not to build the bus stand there so that the residents could be saved from inconveniences.

The residents went to the office of the Municipal Council and raised slogans against the Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Officer. Mr Harmesh Mattu, president, Sangharsh Committee, led the march.

A section of the municipal councillors held out a threat that if the authorities concerned did not accept the demand of the residents, they would make efforts to dissolve the Municipal Council.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said that he had nothing to do with the construction of the new bus stand by a private agency. He added that some vested interests were levelling false allegations against him.


Signals celebrates Raising Day
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 15
The Corps of Signals celebrated its 94th corps Raising Day here today. The corps that has spectacular achievements in the field of communication and technology, has brought laurels to the country in operations, disaster management, sports and adventure.

In a press note issued, the army authorities said that the Corps of Signals not only provided communication, signal intelligence and electronic warfare to the Army but also provided operational connectivity to the Navy and the Air Force. It had to its credit one Ashoka Chakra, two Mahavir Chakra, four Vir Chakra, one Kirti Chakras, four Shourya Chakras, two Arjuna awards and one Padamashri award.


Daughters seek freedom from father
Tribune News Service

Jaito, February 15
Four girls in the age group of 6 to 14 residing in Hardayal Nagar have alleged before the SDM that their father had held them hostage and tortured them. They somehow escaped and appeared before the SDM.

They told the SDM, Mr Harbir Singh, that their father, Harbans Singh, used to thrash their mother and recently he turned her out of his house. She is now staying at her parents’ place.

The girls also wanted to accompany their mother, but Harbans Singh forcibly stopped them.

According to them, their parents have been living separately and their divorce case is under process. They alleged that when their mother came to take them along with her, Harbans Singh thrashed her and compelled them to give statements against their mother before the police.

They said that they wanted to live with their mother and they be freed from the clutches of their father.

The eldest of them also showed a copy of the affidavit sent by her mother to the senior police officials of the district. In her affidavit, she had alleged that Harbans Singh had a criminal bent of mind and he had been involved in many criminal activities.

Meanwhile, the local police said that it was yet to receive a complaint in this regard. 


Milk testing camp held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 15
To educate consumers about the quality of milk supplied to them by milkmen, the district Dairy Development Department today organised a special milk testing camp at Sirhind today.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the camp and Mr Anil Kaura, Director, Dairy Development Department, presided over the function. Large number of consumers attended the camp.

What surprised people present there was the fact that more than 50 per cent of milk samples supplied by milkmen were found to be substandard and adulterated, but what came as a relief was that no chemical substance used for preparing synthetic milk was found in the milk.

Addressing the camp, the DC appreciated the efforts of the dairy department in organising such camps.

He said such camps create awareness among the consumers as well as force the milk suppliers to supply quality products.

He urged the consumers to be vigilant about their rights and they should contact the authorities concerned if they have any complaints.

Mr Jasbir Singh, Deputy Director, Dairy, Fatehgarh Sahib, said there was great enthusiasm among milk consumers regarding holding such camps regularly and social organisations have approached the department to organise such camps in their respective towns.


Associates of Bhai Ram Singh term video as doctored
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 15
Close associates of Bhai Ram Singh have termed the video, which showed late Baba Thakur Singh, former acting Jathedar of Damdami Taksal, divesting Bhai Ram Singh of the headship of the Taksal, as doctored.

To put the record straight, Jathedar Lakha Singh, a senior member of the Taksal, brought out the will of Baba Thakur Singh to a press conference here today which proclaimed Bhai Ram Singh as the real jathedar.

He said the video released in Chandigarh yesterday had been replayed to unnecessary rake a controversy. He claimed that Mr Malkiat Singh who had shown the video was ousted from the Taksal four years ago for his nefarious activities.

He said that the will, which was prepared on October 28, 2003, clearly mentioned that Baba Thakur Singh had bestowed the responsibility of Damdami Taksal Jatha Bhindra to Bhai Ram Singh on June 17, 2003, at Gurdwara Tressy (USA).

Bhai Manjit Singh, vice-president, SAD, said the will also mentioned that all the property of the Taksal would be named after him. He said they did not want to make the will public. 


Training programmes for dairy development
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 15
For promoting dairy development as a vocation in Punjab and to provide avenues of self-employment to youth, the state government is undertaking a special training campaign.

Punjab’s Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang said under the campaign courses were being offered for imparting modern techniques.

The training programmes, he said, were being conducted at dairy training and extension centers in Bija in Ludhiana, Phagwara, Tarn Taran, Sardulgarh and Kurali. As of now, 10,036 youngsters have been given training.

He said in this regard a new training centre fully equipped with latest technology was being set up at Chatamali in Ropar district in an acre to be built at a cost of Rs. 70 lakh.

Mr Kang added that in 2005, as many as 20,000 farmers would be helped in getting loans from banks and other orgainsations. He added that during 2004 farmers were provided loans to the tune of Rs 22 crore.


68 persons operated upon
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 15
As many as 68 patients, afflicted with lip shape disorders were operated upon by a 24-member team of Canadian doctors during a 10-day-free-surgical camp, which concluded at the local Dr Shangara Singh Hospital yesterday.

The team of doctors was led by Dr Kimat Rai and Dr Rani Maan and the camp was sponsored by a Canada-based NGO Operation Rainbow.

The Operation Rainbow was supported by Helpline, an NGO headed by Dr Ravi Sharma, Indian Medical Association’s Jalandhar chapter, Association of Surgeons of Jalandhar and the Rotary Club, Jalandhar west. The team was assisted by renowned plastic surgeons, including Dr Ajay Abrol, Dr Deepak Bhatti, Dr Gurinderjit Singh, all from the CMC, Ludhiana, Dr Sanjeev Uppal from the DMC, Ludhiana, Dr Chanjiv Singh, Jalandhar and Dr Ravi Mahajan from Rohtak.


PAFC clarifies
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 15
The Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) Limited today clarified that the PAFC will not give Rs 20 per quintal extra to farmers as told by an official of the corporation.

The District Manager of the corporation here said that besides the hyola and basmati crops the PAFC had got durum wheat cultivated on 680 acres in Amritsar for which the corporation would give Rs 20 per quintal extra to the farmers in addition to the minimum support price fixed by the government at the time of its buy-back. But it would buy back hyola crop from the farmers at Rs 1,700 per quintal. 


SAD to observe Tohra’s death anniversary
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 15
The first death anniversary of panth rattan Gurcharan Singh Tohra will be held on March 6. This was stated by a former minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, while speaking to media persons at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, here, today.

He said in order to pay respect to the late Akali stalwart, SAD had decided to mark the first death anniversary of Tohra in true spirit and for that purpose SAD President Parkash Singh Badal had convened the meeting of SAD leaders and workers from Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala districts at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, Patiala, on February 24.


BKU (L) demands girdawari of damaged crops
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 15
Activists of the Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) staged a dharna in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner here yesterday. They demanded girdawari of crops damaged by hailstorms and heavy rain.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, state president, BKU(L), demanded that the affected farmers should be given compensation of Rs 2,000 per hectare. He urged the state government to permit the farmers to sow BT cotton in the next season and ensure they get quality seed.

The government should compensate farmers for the loss they suffered by selling their cotton at a throwaway prices to traders. The minimum support price (MSP) of cotton should be fixed at Rs 1970 per quintal.

The government should ensure regular supply of canal water and power supply for fields should the free. Tubewell connections should be given to farmers, who had deposited the security for the same.


SAD leader arrested for embezzling funds
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 15
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Mangewala on the charge of misappropriation of funds during his stint as sarpanch of Mangewla village between 1992 and 1997.

According to sources, some unidentified persons had lodged a complaint against him with the Vigilance Bureau. It was alleged in the complaint that the SAD leader had taken subsidised loans from various banks on fake names. Mr Mangewala was also accused of embezzling a government grant during his term as the village sarpanch.

The complainant had alleged that Mr Mangewala had allotted houses, which were meant to be given to poor people, to his favourite persons. He reportedly didn’t hand over his term’s record to his successor.

The Vigilance Bureau probed into the charges levelled against him and arrested him yesterday after finding them true.

Mr Mangewala is known for his proximity with Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP. He had contested the Assembly election as an Independent candidate from Baghapurana in 1992, which led to the defeat of Mr Gurcharan Singh Nihalsinghwala in the election.

A case has been registered against him under Section 409 of the IPC and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On the other hand, Mr Mangewala had termed these allegations as “baseless” and alleged that this was a conspiracy hatched by his political rivals.


Body found
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 15
An unidentified person was found dead under mysterious circumstances in this town today.
The body was recovered from the bushes along a distributary passing from Jodhpur Romana village in this district. The deceased, who was about 45 years, looked a migrant labourer. There was an injury mark on the head of the deceased and his body was having blood stains.

After the post-mortem examination, the police handed over the body to volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa for cremation. A case in this connection has been registered.


Man arrested for brother-in-law’s murder
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 15
A resident of Kharar was arrested by the police today on the charge of murdering his brother-in-law. According to the police, Dalbir Singh alias Dadi, a resident of Guru Nanak Colony, Badala road, was arrested for the alleged murder of Ajaib Singh.

The decomposed body of Ajaib Singh was recovered from an isolated building on the Badala road on January 10. Ajaib Singh was a resident of Mirzapur village falling under Patiala district.

The police said Dalbir Singh had admitted that he had murdered Ajaib Singh. Dalbir Singh told the police that a marital dispute was going on between his sister and her husband.

He alleged that Ajaib Singh used to harass her sister and was not giving her any maintenance allowance. Dalbir Singh further told the police that he had offered liquor to Ajaib Singh before committing the alleged murder.


UK teachers interact with Indian teachers, students
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, February 15
The Queen of England may be in her manor but teachers from her land are out in her ancestors’ former colony making an objective analysis of how her language — English — is taught in schools in Punjab.

A 25-member group of teachers and educationists, who represent state schools and institutions in England, are conducting sessions in the state. Three group leaders of the party shared their experiences with Chandigarh Tribune.

For Sue Clapinska, who works as Literacy Consultant in London, her goal was to understand how English was being taught in classrooms in India.

Sue, who has visited Doon School, Mohali, Strawberry Fields, Chandigarh, and Baba Zora Singh Fateh Singh School in Fatehgarh Sahib, is all praise for the handwriting of students in most schools.

She said there was sometimes too much concentration on literacy skills. Principals also did not have the right idea of how grammar was being taught to the children. Wrong use of grammar was also not being corrected, she said.

“In England, we prefer interactive learning although it sometimes makes our classrooms very noisy,” she said.

Dave Powell from London, whose group was looking into ways and means to raise achievements through teaching, said in India teaching was mainly an information-giving exercise. In the UK stress was laid not only on giving information but also on how it should be applied, he said.

Speaking about the schools visited by the team, he said he was impressed at the manner in which teachers were giving results even though many of them them had limited means at their disposal.

Paula Shaw said her group was studying the role of computers in Indian classrooms. She said she was impressed by how information technology was being taught in schools here.

She said the standards were impressive, but the style in which computer education was being imparted in the schools visited by the team was very formal.

The UK teachers are here on an exchange visit under a scheme initiated by the Patiala-based Heritage

Institute for Art and Education. Its director Prof Rajpal Singh said teachers from the UK were visiting Chandigarh and Punjab for one week under the programme which had the backing of the Department of Education Skills, UK, the Commonwealth Council and some county councils in England.

Fatehgarh Sahib: A 13-member group of schoolteachers from the UK visited Baba Zorawar Singh Fateh Singh (BZSFS) Public school here on Tuesday.

The group, named as the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Group, was touring India under the Teachers’ International Professional Development Programme, funded by the British Council.

Ms Paula Shaw, group leader who is serving as an Education Inspector of the British Government in London, said the study theme of the visit was “Effective use of ICT” in schools. She said the aim was to interact with schoolteachers, students and managements of the Indian school to share experiences.

She said the group was impressed with the skills of Indian teachers. Nigel Wright, teacher from Braunton School, London, said students were well-disciplined here and were good in mathematics and science.

He said education in Britain government schools up to Class 10 was free. He said the schoolteachers in India were not well paid as compared with teachers in England where the average salary of a teacher was Rs18 lakh per year.

President of the school management Kirpal Singh Libra, along with Principal R.P.S. Bajwa and staff of the school, welcomed the group on the school campus.

The group comprised 10 female and three male teachers. The group visited the classrooms and laboratories of the school. The group also distributed tracksuits, books and pens to the students.

CHANDIGARH: The party mood ruled at Kailash Bahl DAV Centenary Public School, Sector 7, on Tuesday evening, as visiting teachers from the UK danced away into the night during a get-together organised by the school authorities.

The group was captivated by remix Hindi and Punjabi numbers and joined the students in the performance.

Earlier, the teachers from the UK shared their observations of the Indian education system based on their visits to various city schools. They were felicitated by the school Principal, Ms Madhu Bahl

MOHALI: Over 20 teachers from various schools in the UK will visit schools in Punjab over the next one week. The first of the lot to arrive in India were in the township on Monday paying a visit to Doon International School here.

The group comprised 12 teachers.

Ms M.K. Mann, Principal, Doon International School, welcomed the visiting teachers.


Young Scientist award for Batala teacher
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 15
Dr Manju Dewan, lecturer in zoology, R.R. Bawa DAV College for Girls, has won this year’s Young Scientist award at the eighth Punjab Science Congress held at Punjabi University, Patiala.

In her research work she found that the persons who were using only vegetable ghee and refined oil in cooking were found to be suffering from diabetes. On the contrary, the persons using various oils for preparing food items have negligible incidence of diabetes.

The study is in contrast to the earlier epidemiological studies that showed low prevalence of diabetes in Indian subcontinent but now there is an alarming increase in the prevalence of diabetes in Indians. This is due to change in dietary habits and one of them is the type of cooking medium. 


Seminar on ethical concerns
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 15
The Head of the Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Dr Harpal Singh Pannu, said here today that religious heads seemed to have forgotten their duties toward the community.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Religion and ethical concerns in the world today’. He said the heads of various religious institutions should come up to the expectations of the community.

Renowned Islamic scholar and chief of the Punjab chapter of Islam Fuzailur Hilal Usmani was the chief guest. He said law was a powerful means to shape human character.

He said instead of ‘mazhab’ (religion) the word ‘deen’ (faith) is used in Quran, declaring humanity as a brotherhood created by Allah. Swarn Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, in his presidential remarks emphasised on the of responsibility of religious heads.

Dr Rajinder Kaur Rohi’s book “Japuji Sahib — Text and Translation” was also released on the occasion.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |