P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VAT: traders down shutters
Tribune Reporters and PTI

Jalandhar, February 21
The Industrial Area and markets of the city wore a deserted look today as almost all ventures remained closed on the call of Bharat Bandh given by the Akhil Bhartiya Beopar Mandal in protest against the proposed implementation of the value added tax (VAT) system from April 1.

From the morning, industrialists, traders and shopkeepers started gathering at local Company Bagh Chowk to hold demonstration against VAT.

Mr Dhani Ram Gupta, press secretary to the Punjab Beopar Mandal, said “almost all associations of traders, industrialists, shopkeepers and petrol pump owners have extended their support to the bandh”.

“Traders are not against VAT but only oppose the implementation of VAT in its existing form, as there was no uniformity in the VAT proposal,” he said while giving example that in almost all other states octroi duty was already abolished but in Punjab, apart from VAT, the traders were bound to pay the octroi duty also.

If VAT would be imposed from the first stage to the last stage of production, where is the need to impose other taxes also? he asked.

Meanwhile, the State Petrol Dealers Association curtailed the period of closure of their outlet to half day only. “Keeping in view the inconvenience to the people, we have decided to keep our outlet closed only for half day,” J.P. Khanna, president of the association, told PTI.

The traders presented a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Verma, demanding exemption on the implementation of VAT.

GURDASPUR: Entire business establishments here remained closed in the wake of country-wide bandh call by traders against the government decision to implement VAT from April 1. The bandh was near total in other areas of the district, including Pathankot and Batala.

HOSHIARPUR: On the call of the Confederation of All India Traders, Beopar Mandal Punjab and various other business organisations, shopkeepers, owners of various business establishments including petrol pumps, fruit and vegetable sellers, observed complete bandh today in protest against the proposed implementation of VAT in Punjab from April 1. However, liquor vends and health clinics remained opened. The bandh affected normal life in the district.

SANGRUR: Protesting against the proposed implementation of value added tax (VAT) from April 1 in the state by the Punjab Government, shopkeepers and traders of this town today observed a complete bandh by keeping the shutters of their shops down. They also burnt effigies of Central and state governments.

FEROZEPORE: Commercial establishments remained closed here today against the decision to implement the VAT scheme by the state government from April 1. Members of the Beopar mandal gathered in front of the Excise and Taxation Office and burnt an effigy of the CM against the introduction of VAT.

MOGA: The bandh call against the proposed imposition of value added tax (VAT) in the state drew a poor response in the city with most of the shops remaining open for the better part of the day. Business was on in the markets as usual there was no let-down in commercial activities.

AMRITSAR: In response to the call given by the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, business establishments here observed a bandh today in protest against the implementation of VAT from April 1. They also burnt the effigy of the law, which would be effective from April 1.

The president of the mandal, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, in a press note issued here said that an all-India traders meet would be held in New Delhi on March 9 which would discuss the entire gamut of VAT and its implications on business in the country.


Govt open on talks over VAT, says minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 21
Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla said here yesterday that the state government was prepared to talk to anyone seeking any clarification about the value added tax (VAT) system coming into force in the state from April.

Talking to TNS here, Mr Singla maintained that there some misgivings among traders and industry about the VAT, which could be removed through mutual consultations.

While appealing to traders not to go on strike tomorrow, Mr Singla pointed out that, it would not serve any of their purpose as negotiations alone, could help resolve issues. Mr Singla reiterated that VAT was the best taxation system in the world and traders and industrialists in Punjab would also like it once they get used to it. VAT had been tested worldwide and had been found to be the most efficient and hassle-free system of taxation. He said apprehensions and fears among the trading and business community about it were misplaced and these could be removed only through negotiations.

The Finance Minister said traders and industrialists were always welcome to discuss the issue and sort out the problems they apprehended in VAT. He said the government and his ministry were open to dialogue on the issue and everybody was welcome to suggest any changes even though the VAT draft had been prepared only after thorough discussions with a cross section of traders and industrialists.

Referring to the issue of some “harsh provisions” in the VAT Act, Mr Singla said there was not any harsh provision which could hurt the interests of traders and industrialists. Even if they felt uncomfortable about some provisions, these could be discussed and if needed these could also be removed. He pointed out the amendments could be moved once it comes for discussion in the assembly.


Bandh in Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 21
A complete bandh was observed today by shopkeepers in Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, Bassi Pathana, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh, Khamano on the call given by the District Beopar Mandal against the implementation of VAT.

In a press note, Mr Varinder Rattan said the government wanted to implement VAT from April 1, which was not acceptable to traders. He said VAT would not bring uniformity in the country which was the basic principle of VAT. He said the government had changed the name of Sales Tax as VAT.

They urged the Chief Minister not to implement VAT and to follow the UP, which had already refused to implement it.


National institute on Guru Granth Sahib okayed
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 21
The National Institute of Studies in Guru Granth Sahib on Guru Nanak Dev University campus has got the final nod from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the University Grants Commission. The institute will be the first of its kind in the world as no such centre entirely dedicated to any one religious scripture has been established so far.

The institute will have 48 professors along with other research fellows and staff for conducting research on the Sikh scripture. This autonomous project, under Guru Nanak Dev University would later acquire the status of a deemed university. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said total project outlay would be around Rs 18.50 crore which would be provided by the UGC while the government had committed to provide annual recurring cost of Rs. 5.33 crore which would be sustained throughout its life time and make it a unique project for the study of Guru Granth Sahib. The institute, he added, would focus on studying Sikh literature and philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib.

The UGC at its meeting held recently had decided to provide funds in two phases. Under the first phase, from 2005-2007, Rs 7.75 crore had been recommended while for the second phase, from 2007 to 2012, the UGC had earmarked Rs 16.5 crore. However, the UGC had also recommended to release Rs 1 crore in the current year to give a push to the project.

Confirming the setting up of the institute, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr S. P. Singh, said the institute would be first of its kind in the world where a comprehensive research would be conducted on Guru Granth Sahib. He said as per the project report prepared by the university, the institute had been divided into eight centres including studying literature on Guru Granth Sahib, studies in inter-religion, scriptural study, bhakti and sufi tradition, music, linguistic studies and social and cultural and scriptural translation.

He said the foremost task of the project would be to prepare an authentic English version which would form the basis for translation into various Indian and foreign languages. He said the institute would start functioning immediately from the present building available with the university.


Summon K.P.S. Gill, says Khalra’s wife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The wife of missing human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra today asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to seek the summoning of Punjab’s former Director-General of Police K.P.S. Gill for his alleged involvement in “encouraging custodial deaths and fake encounters” during the period of militancy.

“The CBI should make up for the lapse it had earlier committed by omitting Gill’s name from the chargesheet and should move the court for summoning him in the Khalra case,” Ms Paramjit Kaur asserted. She was accompanied by several human rights activists. She alleged that Mr Gill had in fact masterminded innocent Khalra’s killing.

Khalra had disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1995. A witness in his disappearance case had told the court that he had seen Mr Gill going into a room in which Khalra was being kept at Manawala in Tarn Taran.

Addressing a press conference this morning, his wife said “between January 23 and till date at least three crucial eyewitnesses have shed their fear and told the court how Jaswant Singh was abducted, detained in a police station, done to death and the body thrown into a canal without last rites ....”

She added: “Burial with honour is accorded even to an enemy soldier, but was not granted to Jaswant Singh Khalra in his own country though he was exposing the cremation of about 25,000 bodies by policemen in the cremation grounds of Amritsar and Tarn Taran.”


Badals vow vengeance against Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, February 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today accused the Congress party of engineering anti-Sikh riots and Operation Bluestar besides being instrumental in raising the demand for Khalistan.

Addressing an election rally here today, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president SAD, alleged that Dr Ganga Singh Dhillon, USA-based Khalistan leader, was ‘planted’ by the Congress. The Shiromani Akali Dal gave a call for ending the “misrule” of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress Government in the state.

Taking a serious view of the harsh and ‘un-parliamentary’ language used by Captain Amarinder Singh, while addressing a Congress rally yesterday, Mr Badal said the Sikh masses were shocked that a leader of the Congress party had described the Akali Dal as a ‘party of poppy husk’. He said the Congress must understand that the SAD was a party of “patriots” and its activists and leaders had made sacrifices for the country.

Mr Badal alleged that the party had failed to take any action against its senior leaders who had indulged in corruption. He alleged that the Congress had not initiated any action against a senior MLA who had publicly demanded bribe.

The SAD chief said when the Akalis come to power, Capt Amarinder Singh would be put behind bars. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal , MP and general secretary of SAD, announced that after coming to power, the SAD government would ‘drag’ Capt Amarinder Singh from one village to another.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary, SAD, described the Amarinder Singh Government as ‘anti-farmer’. He alleged that the Central Government was contemplating anti-farmer policies in near future. He said his party would oppose such policies in the forthcoming Budget session.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Chiranji Lal — both former Akali ministers.


Badals exploiting religious sentiments, says Capt
Our Correspondent

Chamiari (Amritsar), February 21
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today lashed out at the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his son Mr Sukhbir Badal at a rally at this village saying the father-son duo were neck-deep in corruption and were exploiting the religious sentiments of people to promote their vested interests. The Chief Minister addressed rallies at Kiampura, Kamalpura, Chamiari and Vichhoha villages.

Campaigning for the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, the Chief Minister said that the Sikhs were now inclined towards the Congress. This was evident from the growing frustration and desperation in the Badal camp as Akalis had lost credibility and popularity and were joining the Congress in their election rallies.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that merely winning the Ajnala byelection was not enough but wresting the seat from the Akalis with a huge margin like in Malout, Garhshankar and Kapurthala byelections was their target. He said that Mr Badal had ignored honest and sincere party leaders and promoted men of his own clan.

“There is hardly any Akali leader who had not missed any opportunity to seek ticket for their progeny. History reveals that Badal always bartered away the interests of the Sikh Panth to achieve his selfish ends,” he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the World Bank had approved a scheme of Rs 1,820 crore to provide drinking water in villages.


Public school a long way off: French Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
French Sikhs today said a Sikh Public School was a long way off and that laying of a foundation stone of such a school did not in any way mean resolution of the problem arising out of the ban on the turban in government schools there.

Speaking to TNS from France, “Dastar Action Committee” president Gurdial Singh and its secretary-general, Mr Iqbal Singh Bhati, who were also involved in laying of the foundation stone of a private school near Paris, said opening of a private school by the community was only an initiative to provide cultural education to Sikh children and was not a solution to the problem of discrimination.

Mr Gurdial Singh said as far as the school, whose foundation stone was laid in Bondy, it might take two to four years to start. “We have to go to the French Government for permission to run the school. We do not even know what conditions will be imposed on us”, he said while referring to the foundation stone of the proposed private school laid by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC) president Paramjit Singh Sarna two days back.

The French Sikh community leaders said the ongoing cases of five children who had been expelled from their respective schools as well as the struggle to retain the right of Sikh children to wear turbans in schools would continue. They said this was because Sikh children were spread all over France and were not limited to a single suburb. Besides, he said, the community did not want its children to be cut off from the majority community by segregating them in private schools.

The leaders also castigated the Indian government and the National Minorities Commission for not doing anything to solve the problem. Five children from Bobigny, Drancy and Parripatch are sitting at home while some others are going to school wearing a handkerchief or a ‘keski’. He said parents of the five expelled children did not even know whether their wards would be allowed to sit in the board examinations in government schools. “They are studying at home without knowing their fate”, Mr Gurdial Singh said.

Meanwhile, the Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO), which is spearheading the movement against the ban on turbans in French schools in India, has called for solving the issue on an urgent basis. SNO president Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa said the Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee as well as of the DSGMC had assured support to the SNO which was in the process of intensifying its protests on the issue worldwide.


Cong policies causing demographic changes: BJP

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 21
The state unit of the BJP has accused a section of bureaucrats of allegedly promoting the ‘hidden agenda’ of the Congress to Islamise the nation. It has warned that the country would prove to be a hell for other communities if a joint crusade was not launched against such designs.

It would continue its alliance with the SAD, the party had initiated fresh movement to strengthen their base in rural parts of the state so that it could bargain better during seat allocation at the time of elections, he said. — OC


Panel restrains SGPC secretary from functioning
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) today restrained Mr Dalmegh Singh and Mr Major Singh from working as secretary and assistant secretary of the SGPC, respectively, for the loss of six gold spades and silver bowls during kar sewa of the holy tank of the Golden Temple. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had donated one of the gold spades and silver bowls.

The interim order was passed on the first day of the joining of three-member panel of the SGJC, re-constituted by the state government. The new SGJC comprises Mr Kashmir Singh Patti , President, and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa and Mr Ajwant Singh Mann — members .

The SGJC has issued summons and notices to the respondents for February 26. The SGJC has also directed the officials concerned of the SGPC to produce records pertaining to quadricentennial celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib on or before February 26. The Judicial Commission directed the SGPC not to make further payments to the parties till further orders on the basis of the petition filed by Mr Joginder Singh Fauji, a leader of the Panthic Morcha, who had alleged embezzlement of funds during the quadicentennial celebrations .

In his petition, Mr Fauji alleged that the respondents, including Mr Dalmegh Singh , Mr Major Singh, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, Mr Waryam Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh, in connivance with certain firms, including owners of tent houses, had caused huge loss to the SGPC.

The petitioner alleged that the above officials had indulged in misappropriation of funds, neglect of duties and abuse of power and had made the acts of malfeasance, misfeasance, and breach of trust.

The petitioner also alleged that till now, no responsibility had been fixed and even the matter has not been brought to the notice of the executive committee of the SGPC over the loss of gold spades and silver bowls.


Row over function to mark 40 Muktas’ martyrdom
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 21
The proposed function pertaining to the tercentenary of the martyrdom of 40 Muktas (liberated ones) in May 1705 scheduled to be held in May this year has run into a controversy.

The controversy surfaced when the district administration went ahead with its plans to construct four gates to be known as “Darshani Gates” on the Muktsar-Bathinda road, Muktsar-Ferozepore road, Muktsar-Malout road and the Muktsar-Kot Kapura road on February 19 and people owing allegiance to the SAD (B) boycotted the function. Their plea was that the state government had not constructed a gate at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj, the original site where Guru Gobind Singh himself cremated the bodies of 40 Muktas after they attained martyrdom.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that SAD (B) leaders of this area and a section of other residents decided to construct a gate in the memory of 40 Muktas at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj.

A meeting in this connection was held at the gurdwara on February 19 and a section of participants decided to construct a gate at Tibbi Sahib under all circumstances.

A press note issued by the local Public Relations Department revealed that the Deputy Commissioner, Mr B.R. Banga, started the work pertaining to digging of foundations for the Darshani Gates and Mukt-e-Minar on February 19 after using water from the holy sarovar of Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib and its sand. A section of Congress men were present apart from district officials.

The press note also revealed that a museum would also be set up near Mukt-e-Minar. The museum would be equipped with all relevant documents and photographs pertaining to the last battle of Guru Gobind Singh with the Mughal army when the former was forced to flee from the battleground.

The press note disclosed that Rs 2.5 crore would be spent on the entire project while the state government had sent Rs 70 lakh so far as first instalment. The projects would be completed at the earliest.

Information revealed that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would visit this town on February 24 to lay the foundation stones of various projects that had been initiated in connection with the tercentenary of the martyrdom of the 40 Muktas.

Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated efforts.


Swedish delegation meets Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
A delegation from Sweden called on Punjab Governor Gen S. F. Rodrigues at Punjab Raj Bhavan this afternoon and shared views on subjects of mutual interest, including constitutional status and democratic functioning of the governments.

The Governor said ties of friendship between India and Sweden were based on identical democratic set-ups, common interests and cooperative ventures of trade and business.

The delegation also visited Speaker of Punjab Legislative Assembly Dr Kewal Krishan in his chamber after having a round of the Assembly building.

Chairman of the delegation Goran Lennmarker said there were seven political parties in Swedish Parliament and the visiting delegation consisted representatives of all the parties.

The delegation also called on Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill and discussed in detail the Centre-State relations in India.


1 killed, 10 hurt as bus overturns
Our Correspondent

The inconsolable brothers of Rani, who died when the bus in which she was travelling overturned on the Bathinda-Goniana road on Monday.
The inconsolable brothers of Rani, who died when the bus in which she was travelling overturned on the Bathinda-Goniana road on Monday. — Photo by Sonu

Bathinda, February 21
One person died on the spot while 10 others were injured, one of them seriously, when a mini bus coming from Danewala village of this district overturned near a local cinema on the Bathinda-Goniana road today.

The deceased, identified as Rani, a student of local Guru Nanak Khalsa Girls College, was coming from Sivian village to attend her college.

Police sources said the speeding mini bus, carrying about 40 passengers, overturned when the driver lost control over the vehicle while trying to overtake a tractor-trailer near Sukhraj Theatre. The driver and conductor of the bus fled from spot.

The people living in the nearby areas reached the spot where the accident took place and took the injured out of the bus. The vehicular traffic remained suspended for more than an hour after the mishap.

Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa and the Aasra Welfare Society, NGOs, reached the spot and shifted all injured passengers to the local Civil Hospital. The injured include Sonu, Veerpal Kaur, Sohan Singh, Vipan Kumar, Amarjit Kaur, Gurmeet Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Phuldeep Singh, Jagdev Singh, and Sarbjit Singh.

The injured while talking to this correspondent alleged that the driver was driving the bus rashly. They said a 30-seater bus was carrying more than 40 passengers.

A case has been registered against the driver of the bus at the local police station.

Meanwhile, the sarpanch of Gill Patti village has announced a compensation of Rs 1,000 each to all injured passengers of his village.


Majdoor Sabha stages dharna
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 21
Hundreds of activists of the Punjab Khet Majdoor Sabha today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here in favour of their demands.

Addressing the protesters, Guljar Singh, general secretary of the sabha, demanded that the dues of old age, widow and disabled pensions be paid soon and the pension amount be hiked to Rs 600 per month. He sought payment of pension deposited in the bank to the pensioner’s nominee or those performing his last rites following the death of a pensioner.

He urged the government to make a provision of Rs 2,000 as maternity allowance to the pregnant farm labourers.

Their other demands included at least 20 days of guaranteed work in a month to farm labourers at the DC rate, land for homeless farm labourers and aid in building houses, transparency in schemes like Indira Awas Yojana, launch of Ashirwad Scheme, 150 units free power per family, renewal of yellow cards, simplify process of birth and SC certificates, review BPL limit to 30,000 per annum, issuance of ration cards to poor, action against those unleashing social and police atrocities, representation to farm labourer bodies in the district grievances committee, wave off debt of farm labourers, continuation of subsidies being given under the public distribution system.

District CPI secretary Randhir Singh Gill, Joginder Singh, and Comrade Jagroop, Santokh Singh, and Sarabjeet Singh, also participated in the dharna.


Christian body’s charge against S.K. Sinha
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 21
And now it is Mr S.K. Sinha, former Home Secretary, Punjab, who has been dragged into a controversy arising after the death of Fr. Mark. The Catholic Christian Welfare Action Committee has accused him of being “in connivance with land mafia”, “hijacking Fr. Mark’s sister Ms Annie Walkling” and “misleading” her.

Mr S.K. Sinha, however, was not available for comment despite efforts made by this correspondent to contact him on his mobile phone. “He would only be available next morning,” said a person, who identified himself as Mr Sinha’s PA.

The Catholic Christian Welfare Action Committee has alleged that Mr Sinha was involved in “nefarious activities for the last few days in connivance with the land mafia after the death of Fr. Mark and he along with his mafia hijacked Ms Annie Walkling and misled her.”

Condemning the alleged “unwanted” interference in a resolution passed today, the committee accused Mr Sinha of interfering in affairs of the Christian Committee and of “misusing” his official position by pressurising the administration and threatening “innocent” Christians of the Amritsar area “despite being on leave”.

Demanding the removal of Mr Sinha from all offices, the committee has urged the central and state governments to conduct a judicial probe into Mr Sinha’s alleged association with “land mafia”.

“We are sad to see how selfishness of Mr Sinha is maligning the image of the official machinery and the administration,” alleged Mr Tarsem Peter, a spokesperson of the committee.


Dubey, Sinha take charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
Mr A. K. Dubey today took over as Principal Secretary, Home and Justice Affairs Department.

He replaces Mr S. K. Sinha, who has now assumed charge as Principal Secretary, Cooperation.

An official spokesman said Mr Sinha would also hold additional charge as Principal Secretary of Punjab’s Civil Aviation Department.


Holiday on March 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Government today declared March 25 as a holiday on account of Holi and Good Friday. Both festivals fall on the same day.

All Punjab Government offices, including corporations, boards and educational institutions will remain closed on that day.


Pensioners demand pay commission
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 21
The Government Pensioners Association, Punjab, has sought the setting up of fifth pay commission to listen to the financial problems of the government employees and pensioners in view of the ever increasing price rise, inflationary trends and various other factors.

The association is sore that the government has not met even a single promises made during the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in 2002, said Mr Yash Paul Ghai, general secretary of the association.


Dharna by hospital staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Doctors, paramedical staff and other employees of the Mata Kaushalya Hospital today held a dharna at the hospital gate to protest against police inaction into the alleged beating up of two hospital employees by attendants of a patient on February 15.

Hospital Joint Action Committee Member and Nurses Association President Satya Jain said the dharna was held because the police had not taken any action on the complaint lodged against attendants of a patient who had beaten up two employees — Kuldeep Singh and Darshan Singh.

Ms Jain threatened that hospital staff would force closure of all services except emergency ones after 72 hours if the police failed to take action.


Sathi appointed on DMC panel
Tribune News Service

Sathi Vijay KumarMoga, February 21
Sathi Vijay Kumar, an advocate and ex-MLA of Moga, has been appointed as member of the Dayanand Medical College Management Committee. Sathi is already a member of the senate of Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar, and president of Arya College, Ludhiana.

He has thanked the president of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha Punjab, Mr Sudarshan Sharma, for his appointment to the post. People from various walks of life have congratulated Sathi on his appointment.


Theft accused to be produced in court today
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 21
A Kharar court today remanded the gang of five thieves arrested by the Mohali police yesterday to one-day police custody. The gang which had links in Uttar Pradesh had been found to be responsible for at least 15 burglaries in Mohali. The five would be produced in the court tomorrow.

The public prosecutor informed the court that the five arrested persons had been found responsible for 11 crimes in the township. The court ordered the five to be sent to police remand in six cases and 14 days of judicial remand in rest of the cases.

The five arrested include Hanif alias Rahima, Amit, Shahadat, Vassan alias Bachan and Ved Prakash alias Bedi alias Ashok. The five were not living in any specific place in Mohali but kept shifting from one colony to another.

Giving a list of the burglaries that the six admitted to have committed, the SP said the first of these was done as far back as August 4, 2002, and the latest was carried out on February 9 this year.

The police said not much cash or stolen goods had been recovered from them as most of the stolen items were sold by them for cash. “They have constructed houses for themselves in their village from that money,” said the SP, Mohali, Mr Rakesh Agarwal.


Making money out of worms

Perch (Ropar), February 21
Exploiting local environs, a local farmer has set up a vermiculture project, which is paying rich dividends. Besides using the compost in his fields, he sells the produce in the market yielding decent financial gains.

This is relevant in the context that two major vermiculture centres in Chandigarh (opened with the support of UT Administration in 2002) have closed down. Also, projects started in a number of schools and certain institutions have also failed. One of the arguments for this has been that the city witnesses extreme weather conditions for worm to survive.

Belying the popular belief of ill-suited climate, Subedar Kabul Singh has not only successfully implemented the project in his fields but has also converted it into a profitable venture.

Using household waste and fallen leaves, he has already sold two quintal of produce to a landscape firm in the city. Another produce of same quantity is ready for supply. He has been engaged in the practice for the past more than three years.

Showing worms in one of his pits, he said: “I had purchased the worms only once. They have multiplied now. At the moment I am receiving queries from outsiders as to whether I could sell these worms. I plan to set up another project.”

Subedar Kabul Singh said a common misconception among people was that vermiculture pits emanated foul smell. “The one here is located right in the compound of my house. I never face any such problem,” he said.

The scheme in the village was launched with the assistance of the Rotary Chandigarh-Shivalik.

Col A.P.S. Dhillon, treasurer, pointed out that vermiculture was being effectively pursued by a number of people even in Chandigarh.

Without proper space for breathing and flushing out of extra moisture, the worms cannot survive. In case the waste is not segregated from the biodegradable and the plastic components, it cannot function.

Col Harsharan Singh Sandhu, managing director of a Sector 22 hotel, showed the garden adjoining his hotel where the project was running successfully.

He said he had submitted a proposal to the Municipal Corporation explaining the real mechanism of the project for good results. TNS


MC executive officer, AME found absent

Kharar, February 21
The Executive Officer (EO) and the Assistant Municipal Engineer (AME) of the local Municipal Council were found absent from the office during a surprise check made by SDM, Sukhvinder Singh Gill, here today.

The check was conducted at 9 a.m. and all other employees, except the two officials, were found present. Employees at the council told the SDM that the EO, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, had gone to attend a meeting, though no such entry had been made in the movement register.

The SDM was also told that the AME, Mr Purshotam Lal, was on two hours leave but his leave had not been sanctioned by authorities concerned. It is alleged that the leave application of the AME was written by a council employee while the check by the SDM was going on. OC


Institute issuing fake degrees unearthed
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 21
A case of issuing fake medical degrees by an institute based at Nihalsinghwala has come to light after a student’s father lodged a complaint with the SSP in this connection.

The complainant, Mr Ravi Dutt, father of Pradeep Kumar, stated that the Rajiv Gandhi Medical Institute and Hospital was opened about six years back, claiming recognition from the Union Health and Social Welfare Ministry. He alleged that the institute was charging hefty fees from the students and was issuing fake medical degrees.

Pradeep had taken admission to the institute’s DEHM course in 2002. A year later, in June 2003, he appeared for the BEMS examination and got the degree.

Later, when the complainant approached the NEHM (naturo electro homoeo medico) of India, a regulatory body for electropath institutes in the country, to confirm the authenticity of the degree, the authorities said neither they had recognised the Rajiv Gandhi Medical Institute and Hospital nor had issued degrees to any student of the area.

Taking serious notice of the matter, the SSP asked the DSP (D), Mr Bhulla Singh, to probe into the matter.

Investigations revealed that the institute was duping students by issuing fake degrees to them. A case has been registered against the accused under Sections 420, 465, 466, and 468 of the IPC.


6 thieves held, goods worth Rs 12 lakh recovered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 21
The district police today claimed to have busted a six-member gang of thieves/dacoits by arresting all of them from the Bhamabadi drain, near Badrukhan village. The police also reportedly recovered stolen articles worth Rs 12 lakh from their possession. The names of the arrested persons are Darshan Singh Bamabadi, Karamjit Singh Bhammabadi, Kulwant Singh Ubhawal, Gursewak Singh Ubhawal, Gurjant Singh Heeron Kalan and Buta Singh.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, said here today that the police conducted a raid on the Bhamabadi drain, a few kilometers from here, and arrested six persons who were making plans to commit a dacoity. These persons had been arrested along with swords, kirchan (sharp-edged weapon), motor cycles and scooters, he added.

Mr Chahal said the police recovered five motor cycles, four scooters along with 17 fake numberplates, nine computer sets, an Onida TV set, a telephone set, a VCR, four mobile phone sets, four bicycles, etc from their possession. He said with the arrest of these persons about 12 cases of theft, committed in the areas of Sangrur, Sunam, Longowal and Bhawanigarh, had been solved. He said the members of this gang had been committing thefts for the past about three years in the areas of Bhawanigarh, Sunam, Dhuri, Chhajli and Sangrur.


Heroin worth Rs 39 lakh seized
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 21
The police has busted an international gang of smugglers which used to smuggle heroin from across the Indo-Pak border via Jammu and Kashmir and would supply in different parts of the country.

The Batala district police chief Dr Jitendra Kumar Jain, told mediapersons here today that in a massive drive, the police seized heroin worth Rs 39 lakh which weighs 390 gm. The accused have been identified as Rajinder Singh, alias Raji of Udhampur district in J&K, Kala Masih from Udhampur district and Manjit Singh allies Bobby of Batala.

Dr Jain further said that the accused had links with a notorious gang of smugglers which smuggled narcotics as well as weapons from across the border.

Cases under the NDPS Act have been registered against the accused who have been remanded in police custody till February 23 by the Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ashok Kapoor. The accused used to smuggle narcotics and weapons through Rajouri and Akhnoor and supply to different parts of northern India.


One youth injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 21
One youth was seriously injured when he was allegedly attacked by a group of boys near the bus stand here today.

Kala, a resident of Choltan Kalan, was taken to the local Civil Hospital in a serious condition, from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. It is learnt that he received head injuries.

Kala, along with his friend, Jagjit Singh, was reportedly going on a motor cycle, when he was allegedly attacked by a number of boys with sharp edged weapons.

Though, no case had been registered by the police so far, some boys had been rounded up on suspicion.


Honour for PAU Vice-Chancellor
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 21
The Union Government has bestowed upon Dr K.S. Aulakh the honorary rank of Colonel in the National Cadet Corps for the duration of his office as Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University. This information has been passed on to Dr Aulakh by Lt-Gen M.C. Bhandari, Director-General of the NCC.

In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Lt-General Bhandari has stated, “In the armed forces the ‘Colonel of the regiment’ is an honour normally conferred upon distinguished and senior officers for a fixed tenure. We in the NCC are proud on the conferment of this honour upon you.”

Lt-General Bhandari has sought the cooperation of Dr Aulakh in motivating dynamic and dedicated teachers to volunteer for selection for the various NCC units under his jurisdiction.

Dr Aulakh will be entitled to wear the uniform and badges of the rank in keeping with the traditions of the armed forces whenever he visits any NCC unit or attends NCC functions.


Mother tongue helps understand other languages
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Understanding one’s mother tongue always helped in understanding other languages was the message given by scholars on the occasion of the Mother Tongue Day. Giani Lal Singh Memorial Lecture was also organised in Punjabi University today.

Speaking on the topic, noted scholar Dr Tarlok Singh Anand said only an awareness about different aspects of one’s mother tongue could enable one to make effective use of it. Dr Anand said foreign languages remained unintelligible until one had mastered one’s mother tongue.

Prof S.P.S. Virdi, Dean Academic Affairs, congratulated the Department of Punjabi Language Development for organising special lecture on the occasion of Mother Tongue Day. He exhorted the department to involve the science, management and computer science faculties aero to make a wider spectrum in celebrating the Mother Tongue Day.

Dr Satish Kumar Verma, Head, Punjabi Department, spoke on the personality of Giani Lal Singh. While mentioning his contribution towards the development of Punjabi language, Dr Verma pointed out that it was solely with the efforts of Giani that Punjabi language had been crowned with the status of a State language.

A scholar from Pakistani Punjab, Ms Sarbat Mohinudeen, also shared her sentiments about Punjabi language. Dr Dhanwant Kaur, Head of the Department, while welcoming the guests, gave a detailed account of the department’s activities for the development of Punjabi language. Dr Parm Bakhshish Singh, Registrar, presented a vote of thanks. Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai was also present.


5 students make it to NDA
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 21
Five students of Sainik School, Kapurthala, have brought laurels to the institute by clearing their admission test to the National Defence Academy (NDA) this year.

The five boys who have made it to the NDA are Yogesh Chauhan, Nissar Garg, Ajay Kumar, Kanwar Jaspreet Singh and Mukul Mahajan, all plus two non-medical students of the school. While Mukul has been selected for the Air Force, the four others would be joining the Army.


Syndicate to take up issue of Governor’s letter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
Even as the controversy over the Governor’s letter to Guru Nanak Dev University rages, the matter of alleged interference in the controversial issue of headship of university departments by the Governor would be taken up at the syndicate meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

The Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association has lodged a complaint with the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on the alleged interference in the university’s working by the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the university and had sought his immediate intervention. 

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