P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Kin of 29 Indian youths seek
their release
from Pak jails
Parneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 19
Mother of four daughters and a son, Sukhwinder Kaur of Bhaini Sidhwan village in Amritsar, is ruing the day her husband, Dalbir Singh, made up his mind to move abroad.

Sukhwinder is not alone. Relatives of about 16 youths out of the 29 sentenced to three-month imprisonment recently after being deported to Pakistan gathered at a local gurdwara before heading towards New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in this regard.

Talking to The Tribune, Harvinder Singh, said his brother-in-law Gurdev Singh, who had left for Greece and was arrested at a hotel in Turkey, had told him over phone that two youths hailing from Jalandhar had died after jumping from the fourth floor of the hotel when the police raided the premises.

Gurdev Singh had done matriculation and had sold off his land to pay Rs 2.5 lakh to a travel agent in order to go abroad. Gurdev also told his family that they were only given bread pieces once a day while they were in Turkey en route Greece.

One of the worst hit by the incident is Sukhwinder Kaur. She said they had an acre of land which they sold off and also took some loan from her husband’s brothers and sisters in order to pay Rs 2 lakh to a travel agent for sending him to Lebanon. Before leaving he had worked as a daily wager at a factory in Jandiala and used to earn Rs 50-60 a day. Now, she has withdrawn her kids from the school and is working as domestic help to make both ends meet.

The 21-year-old Surinder Singh, son of Balwinder Kaur, who hails from Raipur Peerbaksh, is also languishing in a Pakistani jail. They had paid Rs 3.5 lakh to a travel agent after taking the money on loan. Her other son works as a driver, while her husband, Nishan Singh, is in France. Surinder had a dairy and was also engaged in contract farming prior to seeking greener pastures abroad.

A septuagenarian, Bachan Singh told that his 24-year-old son, Rajkumar, worked as a daily wager and was desperate to go abroad. The family took a debt of Rs 2 lakh on heavy rate of interest and also mortgaged their land for another Rs 2 lakh to pay Rs 4 lakh to an Amritsar-based travel agent. Another youth, Paramdeep Singh of Tarpur village in Nawanshahr, was brutally assaulted by the travel agent’s men in Turkey as they wanted more money. His father Resham Singh had mortgaged five out of his six acres of land to arrange Rs 5 lakh for sending his son abroad.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the Human Rights Society, Punjab, is making efforts for the release of these young men who were caught in Turkey while they were on their way to Greece. These youths were then deported to Iran that further deported them to Pakistan. Mr Bhullar told that he had faxed an application for their release to the Prime Minister.

He also had a talk with Mr Deepak Kaul, Assistant to Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan, and Mr Arun Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary (Pak Affairs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in this manner. Mr Bhullar said Indian Foreign Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, also took up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart during his recent visit to Pakistan. He told that 31 Indians were lodged in Lahore jail, 25 in Mach jail of Baluchistan, 16 in Quetta, one in Rawalpindi, and five others were held at Iran border.


Ajnala byelection
CM blames Akalis for poor development
Our Correspondent

Ajnala, February 19
Having experienced bumpy ride during canvassing in the Ajnala constituency Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked voters to look for themselves that Akalis had even failed to provide proper roads.

Incessant rains during last week had amplified the already deplorable state of roads as puddle of water had surfaced at several spots.

The Chief Minister while addressing villagers of Dalam said former Akali MLA Rattan Singh Ajnala had entirely ignored the border constituency and never bothered to raise the demands of the people of the area. He said even the basic infrastructure, like roads and sewerage, was non-existent.

Captain Singh said the resurgence of economic ties between India and Pakistan would also generate employment potential for unemployed youth in the region.

Citing an example, he said wheat in Pakistan was being sold at Rs 1,800 per quintal while the minimum support price of wheat here was Rs 630 per quintal.

However, he said due to complex rules of export they had to send the material via Mumbai port.

He informed that the state government had asked the Central Government to make provisions to export wheat to Pakistan via Wagah. He said the Commerce Ministry had already submitted the file to the External Affairs Department.

The Chief Minister said the World Bank had approved a scheme for the construction of 3,000 km road at a cost of Rs 800 crore. Besides 27 mega projects worth Rs 10,000 crore had been approved and sanctioned by the high-powered committee for mega projects during the current financial year.

He said a social security fund of Rs 450 crore would be constituted to ensure timely payments of pension to widows, destitute women, aged and disabled persons.

Captain Singh blamed Mr Parkash Singh Badal for pushing the state in the black days of terrorism that claimed lives of thousands of innocent youth.

Addressing the gathering, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President PPCC, said the people of the state had already rejected Mr Badal in Garhshankar and Kapurthala bye-elections.

Besides Dalam, the Chief Minister addressed election rallies in Bollian, Neapl, Ajnala, Balarwal and Fatehwal villages.


Musclemen ruling the roost, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
After the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, today it was the turn of the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to attack the Election Commission of India.

In a hard hitting statement against the commission, Mr Badal said that the “its total absence from the election scene at Ajnala had raised serious doubts in the minds of people about the role being played by the commission as a custodian of the democratic process and of free and fair poll in the country”.

In a strongly-worded letter to the commission, Mr Badal said: “It is as if the commission were proceeding on the assumption that its role was limited to the polling day alone. If that is so, nothing could be tragic for the future of democracy, at least in this part of the country”.

Mr Badal said that anti-social elements and law-breakers were having a free run in Ajnala with official patronage but the commission had not sent its representatives yet in the constituency.

What kind of deterrence will the commission provide to law-breakers when it does not have any feedback infrastructure in place in the constituency,” Mr Badal asked.

Mr Badal said that no observer of the Commission had arrived in the constituency so far or informed his party of the arrival.

The Akali leader said that the impact of the decision to deploy paramilitary forces was being delayed for intriguing reasons.

He said that such total inaction had given the ruling party a signal to go ahead to criminalise the campaign and consequently, the Congress had now flooded the constituency with musclemen.


Court vacates status quo on burial issue
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, February 19
The court of Mr Baljinder Singh, Civil Judge, today vacated the status quo on the petition filed by the diocese of Jalandhar for permanent injunction restraining the Christian Welfare Council from burying the body of Father Mark Barnes on the school premises of St Mary Convent School, Gumtala.

Earlier, the Civil Judge had ordered on February 16 that both the parties were directed to maintain status quo regarding the existing conditions at the site till February 18.

According to the order of the court: “The plaintiff (diocese of Jalandhar) has miserably failed to establish a prime facie case in its favour which is an essential ingredients for grant of temporary injunction. Accordingly, there is no merit in the application and the same is accordingly dismissed.”

In accordance with the wishes of Father Mark and in deference to the request of his followers the sister had consented to bury his mortal remains on the premises of St Mary School on February 16. But the unfortunate vandalisation of Father Mark’s Grave, added confusion to the entire incident.

His sister who was witnessed to this sordid drama had expressed her deep shock in dismay over the turn of events and have lodged a strong protest with the government to order an independent probe to nail the culprit for this heinous act.

The counsel of Ms Anne, who argued for the vacation of the status quo, had reportedly stated that Father Mark had been residing in the said property for the past more than 30 years and it was his last wish to be buried on the property. It also contented that the plaintiff (diocese of Jalandhar) had no right in the property and further state that the body of Father Mark was handed over to his sister next of kin from the mortuary of the Escort Hospital and later it was duly laid for peace in the presence of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, the diocese of Jalandhar organised a function at the premises of St Mary School to pay homage to Father Mark. Among the dignitaries who paid homage to him were Choudhry Jagjit Singh, Cabinet Minister and Minister for Local Bodies, Mr H.S. Hanspal, PPCC President, Dr Symphorian Keeprath, Bishop of diocese.

Choudhry Jagjit Singh on behalf of state government announced the setting up of a memorial in memory of Father Mark. Mr Hanspal also assured all possible help in making the memorial.

Dr Andrew, President of the Christian Welfare Council, told The Tribune that the body of Father Mark will be buried at original St Mary School premises after completing all legal and religious formalities very soon.

Meanwhile, the sister of Father Mark today returned to England as she had received only four days’ visa. She said the events of last four days had completely shattered her and she would take up the matter with the Governments of India and England. Her last wish was to see the body of her brother to be buried at its original site, she said.


Air India to launch 4 weekly flights from
Amritsar to UK, Canada in May

Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 19
The large NRI population in the state will have the privilege to take direct flights from UK and Canada to the heartland of Punjab. The national carrier Air India has announced four weekly direct flights connecting New Delhi, Amritsar, Birmingham and Toronto starting from May 15 this year.

The chairman of the National Commission of Minorities, Rajya Sabha member and member Parliamentary Committee on Civil Aviation, Mr Tarlochan Singh, today in an exclusive talk on telephone from New Delhi said the meeting of the committee held at Mumbai yesterday had given go ahead to operate the much awaited Air India flight for the benefit of the large chunk of Punjabi NRIs who hail from the Doaba belt of Punjab.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said on his personal appeal the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, had agreed to constitute a parliamentary sub-committee to monitor the progress of Amritsar airport. He said the sub-committee would visit Amritsar in March to take stock of the situation.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had been lobbying for starting the Air India flight from Amritsar International Airport as there were more than 50-weekly flights being operated by Singapore Airlines, Indian Airlines besides the non-scheduled airline flights belonging to CIS countries, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Air Slovak and some tourist charter operators connecting various destinations throughout the world. He added that with the introduction of Air India, the NRI and local passengers would be greatly benefited as it would provide direct link to the UK and Canada besides offering great export potential by utilising weekly cargo space available on these aircraft.

Besides Air India, the other airlines, including Malaysian Air Service, Air Phuket (Thai Airways), Korean Airways and more domestic airlines are also likely to start their operations from this airport by the middle of this year. The Director Airport Mr V.S. Mulekar, said by the end of this year more than 80 flights would be operating from this airport with more than three lakh passengers using the Rajasansi Airport during this year.

Meanwhile, the terminal building the expansion plan of which had been delayed for a considerable period of time was expected to become operational by July this year and this would ease the pressure on the existing non-descript facilities which have earned the ire of a large number of passengers who had to wait for two to three hours to pick up their baggage.


Maskeen was an epitome of learning

GIANI Sant Singh Maskeen, who died following a massive heart attack at Etawah in Uttar Pradesh yesterday, was not only an exemplary preacher, interpreter of religious scriptures but also an epitome of learning. His limited formal education notwithstanding, Gianiji had studied various granths in depth.

Born in Lak Makwat tehsil of Ban district in North West Frontier province in 1931, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen had to skip his matriculation examination because of partition. His parents moved to Alwar in Rajasthan where he joined the sacred company of various religious heads, preachers and saints. His interest in religious studies did not wane even after he got married to Bibi Sundar Kaur in 1958.

Though his family got into motor parts business, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen dedicated his life to religion. He leaves behind besides his widow, three sons and two daughters.

Interestingly, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen had immaculate familiarisation with the works of some of greatest Urdu poets, including Ghalib and Iqbal. His knowledge of Bhagwad Geeta, Quran and holy scriptures of other religions made it easier for him to interpret Guru Granth Sahib and recitations of various other saints, including Sufi saints. Bhai Gurdass, Guru Ravi Dass, Bhagat Kabir and Sheikh Farid often used to get mention in his discourses. He also used to refer to work done by various religious scholars. For example, he had gone through all 23 interpretations of Japuji Sahib, including by Bhai Nand Lal, Acharya Rajnish, Giani Gurdit Singh and Bhai Veer Singh.

He was a globe-trotter and delivered discourses on various aspects of Gurbani at gurdwaras and religious congregations on important occasions. Known for his candid comments, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen was bestowed with the tile of “Panth Rattan” by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. In fact it went to his credit that coming from a Hindi belt, he turned out to be an undisputed number one interpreter-cum-preacher of Gurbani.

Though just a matriculate, he authored a number of books on various religious scriptures. His Gurbani interpretation programmes were regularly serialised on various channels. One of the channels used to telecast his discourses every morning.

Some of his famous books included Guru Chintan, Ras Dhara, Shabad Guru, Ratnagar and Amrit Manthan. Giani Sant Singh Maskeen also frequented Chandigarh and other areas in Punjab and Haryana every year.

As a mark of respect to him, both the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee closed their offices for two days. He will be cremated at Alwar on Sunday.

— Prabhjot Singh


Death mourned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 19
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Vishav Sikh Parcharak Sanstha (VSPS) have expressed sorrow over the death of Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, a noted Sikh preacher, who died yesterday.

Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, said Giani Sant Singh was a successful preacher of Gurbani and had a good hold on half a dozen languages.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, said Giani Sant Singh spread the message of Gurbani in every home.

Alwar: The mortal remains of Sikh scholar Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, who died in Itawa, were brought here today for cremation. People flocked in large numbers to pay their last respect to the departed soul.

Maskeen Saheb had gone to Itawa in Uttar Pradesh to attend a wedding yesterday where he died following a heart attack, family sources said.

Born in Lakhi tehsil in Binnu district, now in Pakistan, Maskeen made Alwar his home after Partition.

A prolific writer, he wrote 11 books on Sikhism and Gurbani. — PTI


Strict surveillance needed on
ultrasound centres: study
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Drastic changes in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, are required to check the misuse of ultrasound machines in the states like Punjab and Haryana where declining female child ratio has become a national concern.

It has come to light that at most places in Punjab such machines are being operated by non-competent medical persons and others who are not authorised to do so under the Act. The Population Research Centre of the Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) has carried out a study on behalf of the Department of Family Welfare, Ministry of Health, Government of India.

The thrust of the study was to enlist the drawbacks in the applicability of the Act as far as the use of the ultrasound machines in Punjab by registered ultrasound centre is concerned and to find out the use of such machines by non-competent persons such as ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (Ayush) practitioners and others. The study report prepared by Mr Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal, Ms Monica Munjial and Ms Poonam Kaushik has been submitted to the Ministry and a discussion on it would be held on February 28 at Delhi.

There are 1107 registered ultrasound centres in Punjab. And interestingly, 50 per cent of these are located in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar districts. First of all there is no uniformity in their registration. As many as 201 ultrasound centres were surveyed. Two-thirds of these were registered as ultrasound/image centres, 24 per cent as genetic counselling centres and 8 per cent as genetic clinics and 3 per cent as genetic laboratories. Other interesting feature is that at certain places such centres are registered and at some other ultrasound machines have been registered.

At certain places machines are being operated by Ayush doctors, mostly from the Ayurveda stream. Do they really need such machines for diagnosis of their patients? There are differences among ayurvedic doctors. About 35 per cent of the ayurvedic doctors say that they do not require ultrasound equipment for their type of treatment whereas 65 per cent say that they need it for obstetric, gall bladder, kidney function and other abdominal investigations such as cyst, fibroids etc.

Even in the allopathic stream, besides radiologists and gynaecologists , other doctors such as MBBS with some training or with some experience, and also from specialists streams have also been operating such centres. Many of these streams are also not competent to handle such machines.

The study has recommended that no person other than fully qualified under the Act (except charitable trusts) should own an ultrasound machine.


Festival Diary
Pak qawwal weaves magic
by Aditi Tandon

If the audience had its way, it would not bid farewell to Pakistani qawwal Farid Ayaz who wove the magic of Sufism yesterday. The most significant aspect of Ayaz’s recital was his rich narrative which familiarised the listeners with hidden aspects of qawwali’s history. His very first presentation was inspired by history. It was the first raaga which Amir Khusro had composed as a tribute to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. The qawwal presented the piece in its original, Turkish form, a Turk as its writer Hazrat Amir Khusro was.

He then cleared the myth regarding origin of the famous qawwali “Sakal Bana phool rahi sarson…” which we still associate with Amir Khusro. The qawwali was actually written by the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and composed by his Ustad Tanras Khan. It still features Zaffar’s takhallus “shokh rang”. Farid Ayaz paused on the “takhallus” to prove that the piece came from the Mughal Emperor’s repertoire.

Scintillating performance

One has often heard that music impacts time, but Ustad Aashish Khan proved it to the listeners last night. When the sarod maestro began his recital, the sky was quiet and the winds were soft as a caress. But as his sarod turned youthful unleashing one striking melody after the other, the ambience too seem to vibrate to his tunes.

Winds merged with the melody of the sarod to create a magical resonance. The best part of the show came when Aashish Khan chose to play raaga “Malika” with accompaniment by his disciple Rishi Rajan on the rabab. The texture that resulted was so fascinating that the audience could not help clapping incessantly. The nature could also no longer hold its blessings. The Ustad packed amidst a drizzle!

Folk artistes ignored

Classical music recitals hogged the limelight during heritage festival celebrations. Because of a promising list of artistes who performed at the festival every evening, most Patialavis remained ignorant about the folk music presentations being made simultaneously at Sheesh Mahal, venue of the Crafts Mela. No wonder most people missed the performance of world famous folk singers from Rajasthan, the Manganiyars. No one knew they were in Patiala for five days and were performing at Sheesh Mahal. Famous for their song “Nimbooda” which Sanjay Leela Bhansali adapted for his film “Hum dil de chuke sanam…”, the Manganiyars remained out of news, courtesy poor publicity of cultural programmes by the organisers. No one knew that North Zone Cultural Centre had also invited several reputed folk artistes.

Fans wait for Rahat

Throughout the day, ardent Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s fans kept waiting for the arrival of his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Expected to come in this morning, the legendary singer’s nephew was delayed by several hours.

Ignorant about the change in his programme, many Nusrat fans kept standing outside the hotel where he was supposed to check in. They gave in only at about 6 pm when they were told that the qawwal will head straight for the venue, late as he was.


Chandumajra visits Safdipur in jail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 19
Incarcerated Congress leader Balwinder Singh Safdipur today received a shot in the arm when Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra visited him in the Central Jail.

Mr Safdipur is presently in judicial custody following registration of a criminal case of conspiracy against him on a complaint of a close supporter of Cooperation Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa. The local Congress leader, who is perceived to be a challenge to Mr Randhawa in the Ghanaur Assembly byelection, has alleged that he has been framed in the case at the behest of Mr Randhawa.

Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra visited Mr Safdipur in the jail today along with a number of supporters. Besides, Sant Daljit Singh Chicagowale also visited Mr Safdipur today.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Congress leader burnt effigies of Mr Randhawa at Ramgarh kasba, near Devigarh, today. The supporters shouted slogans against the Cooperation Minister besides claiming that the welfare activities started by Mr Safdipur had been stopped at the minister’s behest.


Jefferson Fellowship for Tribune journalist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Tribune Chief Reporter Naveen S. Garewal has been awarded the prestigious Jefferson Journalism Fellowship. The result of this fellowship, which is one of the most sought after among journalists, was announced earlier this week. Mr Garewal is the only journalist from India who has been selected for the Spring 2005 Jefferson Fellowship.

The fellowship aims at promoting better understanding of the United States and Asia Pacific region through a programme of dialogue, study and travel for mid and senior level journalists. Supported from grants by the Freeman Foundation in the United States, the fellowship was started in 1967 by the East-West Center at Hawaii.

During the course of the fellowship, Mr Garewal will deliver talks and lectures to American journalists, policy makers, industrialists and think tanks in Washington, Minneapolis, Dallas, Austin and other places. He will also present papers on ‘Relevance of Governance in Combating Violence in the Indian context’ and on ‘Fresh Mandate for Governance’ based on various recent elections in India.

He is one of the nine non-American journalists from across the world and the only Indian to have been selected for the fellowship this year. Past Jefferson Fellows from India include, Mr Somnath Sapru (Former Editor Pioneer) Mr V.N Narayanan (Former Editor Hindustan Times), Ms Sarosh Bana (Executive Editor Blitz), Ms Bachi J. Karkaria (Editor, Times of India), Mr Gautam Chikermane (Executive Editor, Intelligent Investor), besides some other well-known names in journalism.

Mr Garewal has been an active journalist for the past two decades and has reported on various social, political and economic issues.


Prabir case
Arrest of kidnappers imminent: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 19
The state police has claimed to have zeroed in the kidnappers of Prabir Singh, alias Guddu, who was released after 10 days of the kidnapping.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, said prime objective of the state police was to secure his safe release from the clutches of abductors. In reply to a question, he said “we have got complete information about the alleged kidnappers and they would be nabbed soon”.

The Chief Minister, however, refused to divulge the details of the case, as any disclosure at this stage would hamper the prospects of on-going investigations.

The district police chief, Mr R.P.S. Brar, said the fingerprints had been lifted from the car of Prabir which was found in Faridabad. He said the fingerprints would be of great help in nabbing the culprits.

Prabir, who is submissive boy, would now be leading a different life after his return to Amritsar. He would be moving under security cover to be provided to him by the district police. The district police chief said the family members of Prabir would also be given security.

Police sources claimed that though the kidnapping was the handiwork of an inter-state gang yet the involvement of its local link could not be ruled out. It is stated that the style of turban, tied by one of the three kidnappers indicated that he could be either a serving or a dismissed constable.


Arrest KPS Gill, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
After a key witness in the Khalra murder case named Punjab’s former Director-General of Police K.P.S. Gill during the hearing of the case, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann yesterday demanded his arrest. Mr Mann also announced the filing of a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the transfer of Punjab and Haryana High Court’s outgoing Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy.

Talking to the media from the residence of his advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal, Mr Mann added that he would file a writ petition in the court if Mr Gill was not arrested even after the surfacing of his name”. The witness, Kuldeep Singh, had earlier stated in a Patiala court that Mr Gill had met Khalra a few days before his killing in 1995.

Mr Mann stated that the prosecution could now summon Mr Gill after moving an application under section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The court could also suo motu summon him, Mr Lakhanpal said.

Mr Mann said a letter has also been written to Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill stating that police officers accused in Khalra murder case had appeared in the Patiala court with "loaded concealed weapons".

“The witnesses and their counsel in the Khalra case were being harassed by the state police," Mr Mann alleged in his letter. The copies of the letter were distributed at the press conference.


Women to be trained in khoya making methods
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Punjab Government has launched a programme for training women of 24 villages in Ropar district in the techniques of preparing paneer and khoya for marketing purposes under “the empowerment of women” scheme.

The development is significant as Punjab is currently getting paneer from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan even though it is producing 84 lakh metric tonnes of milk every year.

This is not all. Sources in Punjab’s Dairy Department claim that the training programme is likely to go a long way in improving the standards of living of so many families.

Giving details, the sources assert that the products, compared to milk, are relatively expensive. As such, the women and their families can earn more profit by selling the products rather than just the milk.

Regarding the programme, Joint Director of Dairy Development Department K.S. Mavi says that each batch is trained for five days and is open to all. Besides training, the women are also told how to market the product. In fact they are attached to non-government organisations for easy marketing of products.

The sources add that the government’s Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Department is already making efforts to further boost milk production from 3,000 liters per lactation to 5,000 litres per lactation by cross-breeding inter-bred varieties of cows and buffalos.

Native cows and buffaloes produce just about 800 litres per lactation. The lactation period is spread over 305 days. Compared to the cross-bred variety, the native animals not only yield less milk, but are also less resistant to diseases.

The move to further improve the production by cross-breeding the inter-bred animals is significant as Punjab has the highest per capita availability of milk in the country. This is not all. The state is producing the maximum with the minimum.


Minister insists on promoting communal harmony
Our Correspondent

Faridkot. February 19
State Minister for Social Security and Welfare Gurkanwal Kaur has sought the cooperation of educationists and other intellectuals to make aware the people about the disadvantages of caste system and untouchability in the interest of the country.

Speaking at a seminar on protection of civil rights organised by the State Social Security and Welfare Department at Muktsar yesterday, the Minister also underlined the need for holding more seminars on communal harmony.

Laying stress for generating more opportunities for imparting qualitative education and employment, the Minister disclosed that the state government had created a regular social security fund of Rs 450 crore to give pensions, scholarships and other benefits to poor people. The project would come on the map of the state from March 1, she added.

While releasing a statement on different welfare schemes, Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary Social Security and Welfare, in his presidential address, said a cell had been set up at Chandigarh to ensure monitoring of atrocities in the state.

Giving details about various welfare schemes being launched by the state government, he said Rs 23.68 crore would be utilised to provide free books to the wards of scheduled castes.

Mr Kalsia said a grant of Rs 15,000 would be given to Panchayats which would play a key role in removing the menace of untouchability.

The families which would promote inter-caste marriages would also avail a monetary benefit of Rs 15,000 each, Mr Kalsia added.

Among other prominent speakers include, Mr Khushi Ram, Director of the department, Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Jetha Ram, Social Security and Welfare Officer, Muktsar.


700 vasectomy operations done during camp
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
The local Civil Hospital has created a history of sorts by becoming the first health institution in the country that has done more than 700 vasectomy operations in one go during a six-days training camp.

Not only this, by performing more than 700 vasectomy operations in six days from February 14 to February 19, the district has witnessed a significant jump in the percentage of male sterilisation which has gone to 20 per cent from 0.8 per cent after the camp.

Dr Ram Chander Murty Kaza, an eminent micro surgeon and pioneer in the non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) who had headed the United Nations Fund For Population Activity (UNFPA) in India for years since it was started in 1997, was here today to witness the rare achievement made by the hospital authorities. He dubbed the achievement as phenomenal.

Dr Kaza, who gave a demonstration of thermal cautry and jet injection for anaesthesia, new techniques in vasectomy and anaesthesia, respectively. He said the hospital had achieved a unique landmark in vasectomy operations by performing more than 700 operations in one go and with the involvement of single team at the camp.

He said a male clinic would be set up in the postpartum unit of the hospital to promote vasectomy. It would be the first hospital in the country to have that unique feature.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, claimed that the rare distinction had been achieved without the help of any non-government organisation (NGO). The participation of organised sectors like the Army and the Railways was also less in the camp.

He said only 21 vasectomy operations had been done in Amritsar district, 19 in Ludhiana and 169 in Jalandhar district. Ferozepore district could register only 17 vasectomy operations and Gurdaspur five. Ropar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Patiala could not register a single vasectomy operation. Such camps would also be organised in the remaining districts of Punjab.

He said the camp witnessed a great rush of men, who were motivated by the hospital authorities.


SSP to probe land-grab case
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 19
Inspector-general of police Rajinder Singh has asked the local SSP to probe a land-grab case. Complainant Paramjeet Kaur has alleged that a police officer of the SP rank is involved in the case.

Paramjeet Kaur while talking to The Tribune said she was the guardian of 13-year-old Gurpreet Kaur of Latala village. Gurpreet Kaur was adopted by late Pritam Singh. Pritam Singh made two sale deeds in his lifetime. She is the sole owner of the Pritam Singh’s property, she added.

Paramjeet Kaur has alleged that Tara Singh, Jiwon Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Mahinder Singh, former sarpanch Naranjan Singh, Bhola Singh, Kuldeep Kaur and advocate Ram Rajeshwar Roy prepared fake sale deeds of Pritam Singh’s property in connivance with the Tehsildar and forcefully took possession of the land.

SSP Amnit Prasad confirmed receiving orders from Mr Rajinder Singh.


Missing boy traced
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
Satish, alias Kala, a 12-year-old boy, who had been missing since February 16 from the Danga Pidit Colony in the town, was today traced from the Ghania village from the Faridkot district by the local police.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, while addressing a press conference late afternoon today, said though the police had got some information about the whereabouts of Kala, there had been no success.

Yesterday evening, the police got information that Kala had been seen in the area of Jaitu police station. He added that immediately a police party was sent to that area and Kala was traced.

He said that as per information gathered by the police, Kala had left his house on his own. He added that the boy had been handed over to his family members.


Special committee to protect women’s rights
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 19
To control atrocities against women and to protect their rights a special committee has been constituted in the district under the governorship of the Deputy Commissioner.

According to Ms Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, Dr Daisy Walia, wife of the Deputy Commissioner would be the vice-chairperson.

Addressing the first meeting of the committee Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said this committee would consider all complaints and after proper verification, suitable action would be initiated.

He urged the women to lodge complaint with the committee in case of any harassment on torture.

He said all complaints would be sorted out within a month. He urged the women to come forward to protect their rights.


Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission takes over

Amritsar, February 19
The new three-member Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), led by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, has taken over charge following a notification issued by the state government here yesterday.

The other members of the SGJC are Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa .While Mr Patti is the nominee of the state government, the other two members were selected from the panel sent by the SGPC . The decision to nominate Mr Patti as President of the SGJC was unanimous.

The new panel has resolved to weed out corruption in the SGPC with the speedy disposal of the pending cases .

A number of cases were filed in the SGJC against Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, and many senior leaders of the SGPC belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal. — TNS


Ex-Navy officer acquitted in rape case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 19
Mr Bishen Dass, a retired merchant navy officer, who was allegedly involved in a rape case, was acquitted by a fast-track court at Gurdaspur yesterday for want of evidence.

Mr Dass was arrested by the Shahpur Kandi police on November 21 last year following a complaint by a minor girl, a resident of Mamoon, who had accused the officer for sexually exploiting her while she was working as maid servant in his house. A case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC was registered.

The complainant had moved the lower court for DNA test as she allegedly gave birth to a male child from the loins of the officer. However, her application was declined by the magistrate concerned.

The magistrate, vide orders passed on January 27, had committed the officer to the court of sessions judge for trail. Mr R.S. Rai, Additional Sessions Judge-cum-in charge Fast-Track court, while delivering the judgment observed that prosecution had failed to prove the case.


Incessant rain worries farmers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot February 19
Incessant rain since the past fortnight has dampened the spirit of the business community as well as of the farmers, as the torrential rains has adversely affected the businesses on account of the restricted movements of the public.

On the other hand farmers of the border area are worried on account of damage to the standing crops by hailstorms and strong winds.

Initially the rains had cheered the farmers, but on account of the damage the prospects of the bumper crops has dwindled.

A senior citizen, Mr Nand Lal, said he had not seen such a heavy downpour since the past 20 years and if such conditions continue the horticultural crops would also be adversely affected as the blooming season of the fruit plants which has already begun will get damaged.

Mr L.R. Sodhi, a spokesman for the local Beopar Mandal, said the daily sale of the shopkeepers of the city had gone down considerably, which was attributed to the inclement weather. Worried over the continuous heavy rains, a progressive farmer, Mr Rajinder Tarnach, said standing crops at various low-lying areas had almost damaged.

The farmers have appealed to the government to appoint special officers to assess the losses and demanded adequate compensation.


Three nabbed in graft cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has nabbed a Head Constable, a clerk and a patwari in different corruption cases. All three were allegedly caught red-handed by the Vigilance sleuths.

A Bureau spokesman said Head Constable Tarsem Singh, posted at a police post in Ludhiana, was caught red-handed while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1000 from a complainant in the case, Sarbjit Singh. The money was allegedly demanded to make him join investigations in the case.

In the other case, Mansa Nagar Council clerk Rajinder Singh was nabbed red-handed while allegedly demanding and accepting Rs 1000 from complainant Nachhatar Singh in a case "which was under-proceeding".

He added that patwari Gurdial Singh of Attari in Amritsar was allegedly caught red-handed while demanding and accepting Rs 4000 bribe from complainant Gurdip Singh for mutation of his land.


Sales Tax Inspector held for bribery

Sangrur, February 19
A team of the local Vigilance Bureau, headed by Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, Sangrur, today arrested Ranjit Singh, a Sales Tax Inspector, posted at sales tax barrier on Khanauri border when he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from a truck driver.

Mr Rachhpal Singh said that Mr Nirpal Singh, a truck driver and resident of Dittupur village in Patiala district, who had brought marble in his truck from Rajasthan, had complained to the bureau that Inspector Ranjit Singh had been demanding Rs 1,000 from him for giving a clearance to his truck to enter Punjab after the checking of relevant papers. However, the deal had been struck for Rs 500.

A case has been registered. — TNS


Man ‘murders’ father-in-law
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
Gurjant Singh, a resident of Bombya village of this district, allegedly murdered his father-in-law Gurnam Singh, who had came to meet him last evening from Chuge Kurd village.

The police said the Gurjant Singh repeatedly hit Gurnam Singh with a stick after an altercation. After committing the crime, the suspect managed to flee from the scene.

A case in this connection had been registered against the suspect under Section 302 of the IPC on the complaint lodged by Mr Jagtar Singh, so of the deceased at Sangat police station.


Govt schools have failed to give quality
education: Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Punjab’s Finance Minister Surinder Singla, has no qualms about speaking his mind, and when the subject is education, there is no stopping him. Admitting his passion for education and its well-being, Mr Singla minced no words when he said that he had “serious differences” with the state’s Education Minister on the course education was taking in Punjab.

“I’m all for evolving an alternate system of education. Government schools in Punjab have failed to deliver like any other government undertaking. We spend a fortune opening schools and even a peon today prefers to send his child to a private school offering quality education,” he said, after inaugurating the Jobsfest at Mountview Hotel here today.

Sore with the wasted investment in government schools, Mr Singla said that there were no takers of government education despite no hefty fees. “For every 100 students admitted at the elementary level, only nine students complete education. Does this not amount to wastage? Today, quality and not money is an issue in education and the government has failed on that front,” he said. Without making any direct references to privatising education, Mr Singla also pointed out that the private schools were doing very well in imparting education. “Twenty years back we did think that taking a school to every village and education to every home. However, this mission had failed given the poor quality of teaching that goes on,” he maintained.

Mr Singla opined that one school for every five or seven villages, offering quality in education, could instead be more beneficial rather than the mushrooming schools in every village, opened in the past. Stating that it was just not possible for any government to set the education mess in order, he said that creating more jobs wouldn’t help.

“We need to hand over our schools to performers, to people who are focussed. Anyway, the Chief Minister has constituted a four-member committee to look into reforms in education. We have met once and will give our recommendations in due course of time,” Mr Singla asserted.


College teachers submit memo to DC
Our Correspondent 

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 19
In response to a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), teachers of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib continued their strike yesterday and staged a dharna in the college and later on submitted a memorandum of demands to the Deputy Commissioner.

Their demands include pension, gratuity, merging of 50 per cent DA in the basic salary, LTC, class one status, arrears of revised pay scales, exemption in refresher courses, benefits of bunching and regular release of 95 per cent grant-in -aid to the private aided colleges.

Addressing the gathering district president, Prof Harshwinder Singh criticised the Punjab Government for not implementing the already conceded demands. Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, district secretary, highlighted the role of private colleges in the field of education. He said more than 2,25,000 students which accounts for more than 70 per cent of total students were getting education in the private colleges, which proved the significant contribution of these colleges. He demanded immediate solution of the problems from the government.


Teachers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 19
On a call given by the central body of the PCCTU, teachers from all private colleges of Patiala district Assembled at Modi College and held a rally in support of their demands.

Dr Vinay Kumar Jain, Secretary, Modi College Unity welcomed the members from other colleges like PMN College, Rajpura, Public College, Samana and Khalsa College, Patiala and highlighted the demands like 50 per cent dearness allowance, merger regular release of grants, implementation of the pension and gratuity scheme, full provision of government liability under 95 per cent salary deficit grant in aid scheme, classification regarding house rent allowance for unclassified towns and release of arrears of revised allowances.


APJ School celebrates annual day
Our Correspondent

Students of APJ Public School perform on the occasion of the annual day function at Mundi Kharar on Saturday.
Students of APJ Public School perform on the occasion of the annual day function at Mundi Kharar on Saturday.
— A Tribune photograph

Kharar, February 19
A colourful cultural programme marked annual day of APJ Public School at Mundi Kharar here today.

The celebrations began with Shabad. Students later presented items like skits and dances, including bhangra and gidha.

Among the presentations that drew applause were a fancy dress competition by pupils of KG and an English play, “Bad Luck”, by class VI students. An exhibition of articles made by students was also held.

The chief guest, Mr C.M. Sharma, Principal, JNV, Sector 25, Chandigarh, presented mementoes to the meritorious students.


PNB distributes loans worth Rs 15 cr to farmers
Our Correspondent

Sirhind, February 19
Punjab National Bank , Chandigarh-B region, organised a kisan goshti here today to apprise farmers of various activities undertaken by the bank for their welfare and various agricultural loan schemes launched to meet their credit requirements.

More than 1,500 farmers from Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and Patiala participated in the function. Mr S.S. Arora, Senior Regional Manager, welcomed the participants and apprised them of various achievements of the bank in the area.

He also informed the farmers about the various agricultural schemes such as kisan ichhapurti yojana, farm mechanisation, minor irrigation, diary vikas card and agro clinics launched by the bank.

Mr Arora said that the B-region had advanced more than Rs 1000 crore under the agriculture section and Rs 1,700 crore under the priority sector to more than 27,000 beneficiaries.

The chief guest of the function, Mr Harwant Singh, General Manager (Punjab zone), disbursed loans amounting to approximately Rs 15 crore to farmers under various agricultural schemes.

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