P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Jagmeet Brar joins anti-Amarinder chorus
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), March 6
Anti-Amarinderism was in the air at the ‘barsi’ programme of former Shiromani Committee chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra here today. Senior Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar joined the anti-Amarinder chorus. Mr Brar was suspended from the Congress by the disciplinary action committee of the Punjab Congress yesterday.

Heads turned virtually all over the ‘pandal’ when Mr Brar made moved in. SAD managers ushered him in the front row of the stage along with former SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar. However, his bete noire Sukhbir Singh Badal and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal kept a safe distance from him.

Jagmeet Brar got up to pay his respects, but ended up with a jibe at Capt Amarinder. He said the Chief Minister had made several promises, but he had not kept any. “Ones character is defined by the promises one keeps,” added.

Talking to newsmen, he said the fact that the Chief Minister had attended the bhog ceremony of the late leader last year along with his ministerial colleagues, but had preferred to ignore the function this year showed him in his true colours.

The Congress leader also called the Chief Minister “illbred and illmannered” for allowing his “orderlies” to lead a motivated attack against him. He said these “orderlies”, who had earlier not even spared the family of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, were now targeting his supporters.

Speaking to mediapersons at Chandigarh, Mr Brar said: “I talked to the party high command this morning and also yesterday. I would be reaching Delhi tomorrow to meet Mr Pranab Mukherjee, whom I had met earlier also. By creating crisis in Punjab, the DAC had added to the problems of the high command.

Mr Brar said the state machinery was being used for registering cases against politicians even of the ruling party.

A raid was conducted by the PSEB and the police at the mill of a Congress leader and my supporter in Gidderbaha yesterday.

My another supporter Mr Vijay Sathi at Moga had also been targeted.

Mr Brar said that he would never join the Shiromani Akali Dal. “I have been fighting against the feudal clique symbolised by Mr Badal for long. My role model is Mrs Sonia Gandhi. I will be with her till my last breath and do whatever she asks me to do.”


Gill has no right to take action against Brar: Sathi
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 6
A former Moga MLA and Jagmeet Brar loyalist, Mr Vijay Kumar Sathi, today termed the suspension of Mr Brar from the party membership as unfortunate and said Disciplinary Action Committee chairman Naseeb Singh Gill had no right to take action against Mr Brar.

The former MLA said the DAC’s action was “undemocratic and it would send wrong message” to all the Congressmen in Punjab. He alleged it was the result of Capt Amarinder Singh’s frustration. He alleged that the CM wanted to convey through Mr Brar’s suspension that anyone going against him would face action. He said the DAC’s decision was not final and the matter was lying pending with AICC President Sonia Gandhi and the party in charge of Punjab affairs, Mr Pranab Banerjee.

He lashed out at Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla for using “derogatory language” against Mr Brar. Coming out openly against Mr Singla, Mr Sathi said he had been an “utter failure” as Finance Minister of Punjab.


DAC should not have bypassed Hanspal: Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 6
Calling the Brar issue an internal matter of the party,Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today maintained that the Disciplinary Action Committee(DAC) of the PPCC should not have bypassed PPCC president H.S. Hanspal by writing directly to the Congress high command for the expulsion of former Congress MP Jagmeet Singh Brar.

Replying to the queries by mediapersons at PWD rest house Phagwara, Ms Bhattal endorsed the views of Mr Hanspal that only the high command could take disciplinary action against an AICC member. When asked as to whether the DAC had any locus standi to suspend Mr Brar and write for his expulsion from the party for six years,Ms Bhattal retorted that as per the old rule, even the PPCC could recommend action against him. She also said differences, if any, should be debated and discussed in party forum,she remarked.

About Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda declaring that the construction of SYL canal was on top of his agenda, Ms Bhattal said every state had to safeguard the interests of its people.

Ms Bhattal said each constituency would be given Rs 30 lakh for development work and meeting would be convened before March 18 for addressing various issues of employees.

Ms Bhattal said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should take up the issue of Punjabi youths languishing in Pakistan jails during his Pakistan visit on March 14.Ms Bhattal, who holds the portfolios of medical education and higher education said with the cooperation of NRIs, a health institute on the patter of the AIIMS would be set up in the interior of Punjab.

Tenders had been called for Jalandar Medical College which would start in a year,she said. She also assured to resolve the issues of college teachers.

Ms Bhattal later laid the foundation stone of Shri Guru Ravi Das mandir in Urban Estate and took part in the 628th Parkash Utsav of the Guru. Seth Satpal Chopra president and Jagdish Chander Virdi general secretary of Guru Ravi Das Sabha felicitated her.

Local MLA and Punjab Agro Foods Corporation Chairman Joginder Singh Mann,former minister and MLA from Phillaur Santokh Singh also addressed the gathering.


DAC not competent to take action: Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee ( PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, said today that it was neither in his nor in the Punjab Congress disciplinary committee’s purview to take any disciplinary action against senior Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar or Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla.

“It was the party high command which was competent authority to take appropriate action against these leaders”, he added. “I had apprised the high command about the prevailing situation in the party and about the statements and counter statements made in the past days by various Congress leaders which were not in the interest of the party”, said Mr Hanspal. “The party high command is aware about these developments and looking into the matter”, he added.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Mr Hanspal, said that he had only asked the DAC to prepare a report regarding the statements and counter statements issued by some Congress leaders against each other in recent days.

“Since the DAC has sent the letter recommending expulsion of Mr Brar to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the matter was now in the domain of the high command. If the high command would ask my opinion on this issue, I would convey the same”, he added.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the DAC, Mr Nasib Singh Gill, said today that the committee was competent to take action against Mr Brar. He said that the DAC had only suspended, Mr Brar, from the party membership and not expelled him. His expulsion had been recommended to the party high command.


No remorse for what they did
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 6
The two persons caught by the police last evening on the charges of attempting to murder a city youth and videofilming his wedding night at room No. 114 in Park Plaza hotel here do not have any remorse or shame for what they did.

While stressing that they were not carrying any camera, the two accused, Raju Sahni and Parminder Pohal, were not even apologetic while admitting that they were peeping through the window.

Initially, they claimed they were doing their duty. However, they had no answers to questions like what duty they were doing at 3 am and why were they standing close to the window? etc.

Later, they admitted that they were looking through the window. They insisted that they had no camera, but went speechless on why they assaulted the youth when he spotted them.

Parminder Pohal, a resident of Model Town, has been employed in the hotel for the past 5 years at a salary of Rs 2,500 per month, while Raju Sahni has been working as a daily wager for the past one year.

Parminder is father of three children, while Raju is a bachelor.


‘Master cheats’ caught in police dragnet
‘Helped’ 50 persons to go abroad
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 6
More than 50 ‘unauthorised’ persons are suspected to have not only secured passports but managed to secure their entry in various countries on the basis of forged and fabricated documents allegedly prepared by a gang of ‘master cheats’.

As many as 112 forged rubber seals of various government authorities, officers, institutions along with huge quantity of blank or filled fabricated forms have been recovered from the gang which has landed into the custody of Jalandhar police.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, said the police station at Lambra village received a secret information that a gang of ‘master cheats and forgers’ had been active in the area and was supplying ‘forged documents’ such as ration cards, birth certificates, educational certificates, bank statements etc to unscrupulous elements to circumvent rejection of their requests by authorities in India and abroad.

Subsequently, an operation was planned and carried out under the supervision of DSP Rajinder Singh and a special police team was deployed at a naka which arrested Inderjit Sharma, resident of Basti Nau, Jasbir Singh of Bajuha Khurd village and Tilak Raj of Partappura village, disclosed Mr Rakesh Kaushal, SP (City-II).

The police, according to Mr Kaushal, also recovered a huge quantity of fabricated blank and filled forged documents as well as forged rubber stamps of Judicial Magistrate, Oath Commissioner, SSP, Regional Passport Officer, DTO, RTO, principals of educational institutes, revenue officers, income tax officers, bank officers and civic officials apart from fabricated/forged court notices, letterheads of political figures, ministers and office bearers.

During the preliminary interrogation it was revealed that Inderjit Sharma was the kingpin of the gang. The gang’s reach was widespread through a number of travel agents and printers, including Swaran Singh, resident of Phillaur. Timsy printing press at Nakodar also facilitated smooth running of the racket, alleged Mr Asthana, adding that the gang had recently fabricated some documents and had applied for the grant of passport in the name of Dr Pankaj Tiwari, a resident of Preet Nagar, Jalandhar.

According to Mr Rakesh Kaushal, besides passport seekers, the gang used to supply fabricated documents even for obtaining driving licence and ration cards etc.

It was also revealed that more than 50 unauthorised persons had been able to procure passports and go abroad on the basis of documents supplied by the gang.


SAD promises memorial to Operation Bluestar martyrs
Tribune News Service

Tohra (Patiala), March 6
Taking a leaf out of Capt Amarinder’s book, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today announced that memorials would be set up in memory of martyrs of “Vada Ghalughara” and Operation Bluestar.

The SAD chief was speaking at the first barsi of Akali patriarch G.S. Tohra which was converted into a “panthic samagam” to avoid controversy on the barsi issue.

The programme saw a number of leaders speak on the occasion, with most of them condemning Capt Amarinder Singh even as they eugolised Tohra.

The SAD President said he felt sorry that he could not construct memorials to commemorate the “Vada Ghalughara” when in power. Talking to newspersons he said the SAD would also raise a memorial to commemorate the martyrs of Operation Bluestar.

He announced the establishment of the Sikh Higher Studies Centre in Chandigarh. He said a Sikh university would be established at Fatehgarh Sahib, adding that Rs 10 crore was being earmarked for this project by the SGPC.

SAD leader Kanwaljit Singh earlier set the tempo for Mr Badal’s speech by alleging that the Congress government wanted to frighten the Akalis by unleashing repression on them.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said the Panth Ratan award would be conferred posthumously on Tohra on March 27. The same day the Bhai Gurdas award would be conferred upon the late preacher Sant Singh Maskeen.

Former Union Minister S.S. Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bunder, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr K.S. Badungar and Mr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal also spoke. Tohra’s widow Joginder Kaur sat at the back of the stage and spend her time reading Guru Granth Sahib.


Terrorist-hit families given relief
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 6
Film-maker Yash Chopra sought to weave magic beyond his romance-laced movies today by pouring out his emotive self through pangs of partition felt by Indians and others. Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha chose to salute the Punjabis and Sikhs for having preserved their culture, language and heritage in the best possible manner.

Not to be left behind, former cricketer Navjot Sidhu turned a bit didactic and sought to teach audience about values of remaining down to earth and being upright and honest.

Yash Chopra, Shatrughan Sinha and Navjot Sidhu were the key speakers at the Shaheed Parivar Fund function organised by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers here today to distribute relief of Rs 22.5 lakh among 150 families of terrorist victims.

Mesmerised by spontaneous outburst of his emotions, people listened to Yash Chopra, who was flanked by Vijay Chopra and Avinash Chopra, Editor-in-Chief and Joint Editor of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers.

“Love is the best remedy for all ills and all religions of the world teach love and that one should not love others, but also share his or her joys and sorrows with others. ‘Par dukh di gall hai ke log dharm te siyasat de naa te vand jaande ne’, ‘Bahut dino se hai masla siyasat ka,’” observed an emotionally charged Yash Chopra.

Exhibiting how strains of love and pangs of partition of India and Pakistan had not only been touching him and rest of Indians, Yash Chopra said Germans compared partition of India and Pakistan to that of Germany after watching “Veer-Zaara”. “Similarly, here we have the same culture in the two Punjabs (Indian and Pakistani). It is painful. Don’t let politics and religion overtake love,” advised Yash Chopra

Showering praise on Punjabis, Sinha said Punjabis were the only community in the world which had preserved their language, culture and heritage in the true sense. “Wherever I go abroad, I notice that Punjabis don’t use English and prefer Punjabi. People should learn how Sikhs and Punjabis have preserved and propagated their language, culture and heritage worldwide,” said Shatrughan Sinha.

Lauding the Hind Samachar group of newspapers for its role in extending a huge amount of help for terrorist victims, Shatrughan Sinha talked at length about degeneration of politics in the country. “It is either misrule or no rule. Politics has come to its lowest ebb and rapists or murderers have come to politics. If good people are not ready to enter politics, they should get ready to be ruled by bad people,” said Shatrughan Sinha.

Reacting to the happenings in Bihar, Goa and Jharkhand, Sinha said it was all in the best of knowledge of the UPA and the Central Government and that President’s rule was the only solution to the crisis in Bihar.

Initiating his address with “Jai Shri Ram”, Navjot Sidhu, MP, exhorted the people to do whatever good they could do to others. He not only recited some couplets but also quoted profusely from the “Bani” of Guru Nanak Dev and other saints.

Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Balbir Punj, MP, former Himachal Pradesh CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Union minister Shanta Kumar, Baba Kashmira Singh and Sardar Anjum also addressed the function. Yash Chopra, Vijay Chopra and Avinash Chopra distributed relief among terrorist victim families.


Capt Amarinder Singh upsets Akalis’ apple cart
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 6
The Amarinder Singh Government in Punjab has completed three years in office. Mostly the event has been celebrated by inserting advertisements in newspapers sans much political fanfare. But this is definitely time to assess the performance of the government and its leader — the promises and their implementation. Captain Amarinder Singh started with a bang by launching a tirade against corruption — the PPSC job scam and a crusade against political corruption. It was said that Captain Amarinder Singh was pursuing the agenda because of personal vendetta against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and in reply he would often say, ‘We will prosecute Mr Badal only if we have definite evidence’ and now criminal proceedings are being held in the courts.

Initially the Chief Minister was charged with over dependence on a coterie of bureaucrats and some other favourites. But his style of administration has shown that as an administrator and a politically shrewd man, he can act ruthlessly and sacrifice anyone. Politically Captain Amarinder Singh had to face two adversaries — the Akalis and dissidents within the Congress. He boldly took on the Akalis repeatedly asserting his credentials as a Sikh particularly in the matter of celebration of various events of Sikh history. He outdistanced Mr Parkash Singh Badal in this regard. The Badal-Tohra rapprochement did change the situation for sometime. But after the death of Jathedar Tohra, the Akalis again found themselves in a pitiable position.

On dissidence front within the Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh fought hard to repel the repeated effective attacks against him. His fortitude paid him and now dissidence stands mellowed down and has been converted into a simple dissidence notwithstanding the outbursts of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar.

It is, however, to be conceded that the Congress organisation has not been able to cash in on the success of the Chief Minister against the Akalis as well as the dissidents. The PPCC has not so far organised its annual political conference to project the successes and mobilise the workers to instill confidence in the organisation at all levels. Functionaries of the PPCC have been busy only in distributing unlimited offices. The credit for victory of the Congress in the four byelections to the Vidhan Sabha during the past three years goes to the Chief Minister’s aggressive campaigning. The Ajnala byelection witnessed violence on a large scale which could not be considered a healthy sign for democracy in Punjab.

On the political front Captain Amarinder Singh has been fortunate to have got enough weapons to beat the Akalis and expose the bogey of ‘discrimination against the Sikhs and cry of Congress is enemy No. 1 of the Sikhs’. The elevation of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, appointment of General J.J. Singh as the first Sikh Army chief and appointment of Sikh Governors and appointment of Mr Montek Singh as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission has provided him sufficient gunpowder to silence the Akali bogey. In fact, the Chief Minister has upset the applecart of the Akalis and the Sikh masses have to be put to thinking whether Congress bashing for a longtime could be beneficial for the Sikh community?

However, it has to be noted strongly that for the Amarinder Singh Government it is not smooth sailing as yet. The Chief Minister has to put in strenuous efforts to convince the masses about his capacity to give good governance. Tirade against corruption has been derailed. There are shouts about the scams in which some of the close associates of the Chief Minister are involved.

The masses at large have a standing grievance that district authorities remain apathetic towards their difficulties and grievances.

All is not well with the law and order in the state. Recent kidnappings, train dacoity and problem of thefts allegedly by migrants pose a serious threat to the law and offer machinery in the state. No doubt the state police can claim that the recent incidents have been solved but the sense of fear prevails.

On the economic front, one has to watch how the Chief Minister translates his plans.

Asked about the agenda of his next two years, Captain Amarinder Singh told The Tribune that it was overall development of the state. “A number of mega industrial projects are being launched in the state,” he said.

The Chief Minister claims that the fiscal deficit is also being met and a sum of Rs 1850 crore is being received from the Centre on the recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission. The first installment of the World Bank loan for rural water supply will also be available in October.


CM to meet Dashmesh Academy trustees tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 6
The Punjab Government has decided to take up the issue of the Sri Dashmesh Academy, which was scheduled to be closed on March 31, with its trust members to work out a solution to keep it running. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, has agreed to hold a meeting with the trust members in Chandigarh on March 8.

The Chief Minister took the decision after the Parliamentary Secretary (Industry and Commerce), Punjab, Mr K.P.S Rana, apprised him of the problems being faced by employees and the students of the academy following the trust’s decision to close down the academy.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Rana said he had taken up the matter with the Chief Minister two days ago and he had assured him that every possible efforts should be made to help the employees and students.

He said with the decision of the management to close down the academy, the future of 114 employees and 400 students have also been at stake.

Meanwhile, an MLA from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, alleged that there was vested interest behind the move. Some influential Akali leaders wanted to close down the academy, as it owned a vast property. “I have requested the Chief Minister to save the academy” he added.

“The government should run the academy the way it has constituted the Anandpur Sahib Foundation to look after the Khalsa heritage complex work”, he said

The Director-cum-Principal of the Sri Dashmesh Academy, Mr Nicolas Gomesh, after serving about two years had resigned.

Functioning for over 24 years, the academy for the past few years had been facing acute financial crisis. There were reports of poor administration also.

The financial crunch has also affected working of the members of staff. Employees pay scale and allowance had not been revised. The non-payment of salary in the time have also made some employees leave the academy.

Poor administration has also surfaced when the entire batch of Class XII students of the academy had fled the campus in 2003, alleging mistreatment. Student of a Class IX was allegedly beaten up by the Principal in 2003. In addition to it, one student of the academy had died during a hunting trip in 2002.


Alumni to help restore health of Amritsar Government Medical College
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Government Medical College, Amritsar, is finally on the revival path, thanks to the guidance coming from across the seven seas. Two years ago, about 800 North America-based alumni of government medical and dental colleges of Amritsar had come together as an association to arrest the trend of decline at their alma mater.

In a short span, their association — the Amritsar Medical and Dental Alumni Association of North America (AMDAANA) — has managed to bring all stakeholders, including students and faculty, together to work for elevating the standard of education at the college.

In Chandigarh today, Founding President of AMDAANA, Dr Satwant Singh, currently Professor of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, said AMDAANA members were deeply committed to improving their alma mater’s standing in the world. Dr Singh will meet Punjab Health Minister Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal tomorrow to suggest ways in which the government can help.

Immediately he has three suggestions - provision of basic machinery, an auto analyzer for the college laboratory, CT scan and MRI scan machines, a cardiac monitor and a defibrillator.

As of today, the once-prestigious institution is suffering on many accounts — it has outdated machinery; its library has not received any journals since 1991, its computers are expensive and underutilized by students.

Also faced with the challenge of declining patient numbers, the college has no basic machinery required for medical testing. Recently, some contributions were managed by AMDAANA which got some Amritsar doctors to donate a slit lamp, an ultrasound machine and Rs 80,000.

Said Dr Singh, “It is painful to see how the institution has deteriorated. There was a time when it was among the top three medical colleges in the country, the others being in Delhi and Calcutta. But today, the college is not even the first priority of bright students in Punjab.”

To tackle the problem, AMDAANA is building linkages with Indian alumni and alumni based in London to improve the quality of education at the college besides raising patient care to international standards. In the long run, the college will be linked to the University of Cincinnati. The National Institute of Health, USA, has also promised to support a collaborative study between Government Medical College, Amritsar, and the University of Cincinnati. Said Dr Singh “The main problems right now are student indiscipline and demoralised faculty due to substandard facilities and poor infrastructure.”

AMDAANA has now committed itself to the renovation of five lecture theatres at the College. The effort involves support of Dr J.S. Dalal, Director, Research and Medical Education; Dr A.S. Padda, College Principal and Dr A.S. Multani, Head, Medicine Department at the College.


Cricket brings them to birthplace
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 6
“The cricket match between India and Pakistan helped me to visit India first time after Partition in 1947. I was born in Patiala and wanted to see my birthplace before my death. I had tried many times earlier but was not able to get visa,” said a 70-year-old Fatima Begum who along other Pakistanis reached here in the evening. She was among more than 200 persons who came from Pakistan to witness cricket match to be held in Mohali on March 8 and stayed here for one hour in a function organised to welcome them. They reached here in six different buses arranged by the Punjab Government.

“A large number of Muslim families had migrated to Lahore from Patiala after Partition. I was 13-year-old when riots broke out between the two communities. The Hindu families provided us shelter in Bahadurgarh Fort for three months and saved us. I have a desire to see my native place and to meet people who had helped us in 1947 to reach Pakistan safely,” she said.

“Six more family members also came here along with me. I have nine-day visa,” she added “I did not get permission to visit my birth place Ludhiana. But I am happy that I got chance to visit India after Partition because of the cricket match,” said Shaukat Mehmood, former IG (Lahore).

“My father, too, wanted to visit India but he could not get a chance. He was so keen to see India that he told me to take him to Pakistan and India border on the banks of the Sutlej. He touched the water and said that the river also passes through his village in India. After two days he died, he added. “My father was not the only one, but a large number of people who left India after Partition passed away without getting a chance to visit India,” he said.

Mansoor Ali Khan, a businessman from Lahore, said, “I did not imagine that there will be such a warm welcome from the people here. This is my first visit and I would like to visit here again to see various religious places to know more about India”. Shaumi Asif, who was extremely excited to visit India said “I got visa with a great difficulty as there were so many people who wanted to come here. Its like home everywhere here”. “Most of the people in Pakistan have a negative view about India because of the long dispute between both the countries. I received much respect and love from people here,” said Shaukat Bhatt, another Pakistani businessman.

“Cricket has brought the people of both the countries together again after a long gap. This is my first visit and I would definitely visit here again.”


SAD (Longowal) launches ‘mukti andolan’
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sangrur), March 6
With promise to form a third front of various parties to bring a political change in Punjab, the SAD (Longowal), headed by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, yesterday launched a “mukti andolan” at the New Grain Market here.

Besides a large number of activists, Mr Surinder Singh Dhuri, Mr Baldev Singh Mann and Mr Sukhwant Singh Dhanaula, senior vice-president, secretary-general and general secretary, respectively of the party, and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party and Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha, an SGPC member were also present.

Mr Nirmal Singh Nimma, a former MLA from Bhadaur, also joined the SAD (Longowal) after leaving the SAD (Badal).

Prof Chandumajra, laying stress on the formation of a third front, said it would help in bringing about a political change and ending the rule of the Congress and the SAD.

There was need to get Panthic institutions freed from “anti-Panth” forces, he said.

He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal had failed in playing the role of an Opposition leader in the Assembly as he had done nothing for farmers and other sections of society during the past three years.


Yash’s charm works on CM
Amarinder says anti-piracy law soon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 6
Yash Chopra was on a thanksgiving visit yesterday to buttress Punjabi camaraderie.

He chose Capt Amarinder Singh to release the first copy of the DVD of ‘Veer Zaara’ to reciprocate the Punjabi who not only called him up to promise tax exemption for the film but also wrote to the Chief Ministers of various states to do likewise.

The Chief Minister gave another boost to Bollywood by announcing that his government would introduce a legislation to ban piracy.

Both Punjabis met at the New Moti Bagh Palace residence of the Punjab Chief Minister with the latter's family, including daughter Jai Inder, coming specially for the occasion.

Yash Chopra was all praise for Amarinder, saying he had never seen such a Chief Minister.

"My movie was released on November 12 and Amarinder saw it on November 15 and rang me up saying he would like to exempt it from tax. Only a Punjabi can make such a gesture," he said adding "I can never forget it".

He said he was in his own small way repaying the Chief Minister for his gesture by requesting him to release the DVD of the movie.

"The DVD was scheduled to be released on March 15 but I preponed the programme because the Chief Minister is going to Pakistan on March 14," he added.

Speaking about Punjab and his films, he said he had inserted a song in his film ‘Veer Zaara’ to showcase Punjab.

"All my characters and even the music in my films is taken from the composite culture of the state. My film was aimed at bringing the two Punjabs closer and this was also achieved by the Chief Minister who held Indo-Pak games which saw Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi visiting this side of the border," he said.

The veteran film maker said both Punjabs needed to unite to prosper. "I understand having one border may not be possible but they can be one emotionally and culturally," he stressed.

He said the pain of separation could be experienced by those who had gone through similar separations.

"I saw Veer Zaara running to full houses in Berlin where people could relate with it emotionally as they had also gone through a similar trauma,” he said.

Capt Amarinder Singh, when asked to tell his part of the story, said he felt that anything which was aimed at bringing the people of both countries together should be encouraged.

He went on to say that he was personally moved by the positive story and that it had received a positive response from the Pak athletes who saw it during a special screening at the Indo-Pak games.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, interceding at this point, said the family also wanted to show the movie to Parvez Elahi and his family but the family projector did not work.

"We however gave him a recording to enable him to see it at his home" she added.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also announced that his government would host a Punjabi film festival this year.

"They will hold this year's version of the Indo-Pak games and we will hold the festival," he said adding this would be an annual affair.

He also disclosed that his government would work towards reopening of the Wagah border and also upgradation of the Amritsar International airport to make Amritsar a trading hub.


Yash Chopra to depict Punjabi culture once again
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 6
Yash Chopra, the “King of Romance” remains intensely fascinated by his very own Punjabi culture, its hues and its inherent vibrancy, and is may force his creative self once again to dish out yet another film with a Punjabi backdrop.

Seemingly over enthused by success of “Veer-Zaara”, Yash Chopra even shared his plans to make a picture with the Punjabi touch during an interaction with The Tribune, adding it in the same breath that he was not going to make a Punjabi film, at least, not in near future.

“As I am fascinated by the scope, I am envisaging a film, which would depict shades of Punjabi culture,” said Yash Chopra in an enthusiastic tone. “I am in search of a story. As and when I stumble upon the kind of story I am looking for, I would be working on that and my son Aditya would be directing it”, he said.

Yash Chopra pointed out that people like to see Punjabi culture and its depiction through films. “Films based on Punjabi culture sell like hot cakes and Veer-Zara just proved it. It was liked in both India and Pakistan and the people of other countries were also touched by it,” said Yash Chopra.


Gill ready with blueprint for growth
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 6
Pitching for the overall development of Amritsar, the MP, Dr M.S. Gill, today said the international airport and opening of the land route with Pakistan would spur economic prosperity of this district.

Talking to the tribune before delivering his key-note address at the convocation of Khalsa College here, he said he had prepared a blueprint for triggering faster economic growth for the city.

He said according to the Punjab Human Development Board, the annual growth of the state was around 1-2 per cent which had nose-dived from 8 to 10 per cent during the 60s and 70s.

He said states like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh had shown that education could transform into a vigorous economy.

Dr Gill, who had been a member of the parliamentary committee on civil aviation, mooted the development of the Amritsar International Airport.

He said according to statistics, more than 30 per cent of passengers who take international flights from the Delhi airport hailed from Punjab and with the present airport not being fully equipped to take so many flights, it needed to be upgraded.

He said a date should be announced for starting the Amritsar-Lahore-Nankana Sahib bus service. He also demanded the setting up of visa offices at Lahore and Amritsar.

Dr Gill said the focus should be on women’s education which need to be given adequate funds.

He said only 37 per cent out of the Rs 200 crore earmarked for Punjab MPs had been spent.

He urged the MPs to offer full funds for development.


Ex-Youth Cong leader alleges threat to life
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 6
Former block president of Youth Congress and husband of local Municipal Councillor Gopal Mahajan has alleged a threat to his life.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Mahajan, who is also a trustee of the local improvement trust, has alleged that he and his brother received threats on their mobiles. The threats have been received allegedly from a mobile phone bearing number 9419151847.

However, when the police did not act in the matter, Mr Mahajan them himself traced the mobile to a person from Kathua. The information has been passed to the police but the officers concerned have still not taken any action against the accused.

Mr Gopal Mahajan, while speaking to The Tribune has alleged that the threats have been issued at the behest of some politically influential persons with whom he is engaged in a land dispute. He has lodged the complaint regarding the land dispute with the SSP, Gurdaspur, Ishwar Singh.

The sources have revealed that the complaint of Mr Gopal Mahajan has been the result of infighting among rival Congress groups over some land which is being used for laying another illegal colony right in the heart of Pathankot town.

An illegal colony is being brought up just near the residence of a local MLA allegedly under the patronage of an influential minister. Mr Gopal Mahajan, in his complaint to the SSP, has alleged that he had initially entered into an agreement with the original owners for the sale of the disputed land.

However, later some politically influential people developed interest in it and started constructing a colony over it which is being sold openly despite the fact that a dispute regarding the land is pending in the court.

A complaint has also been filed before the Pathankot SDM following which he has stopped the registries of the disputed land. However, the plots in the illegal colony being brought on the land are being sold openly.

The SSP has ordered an inquiry into the complaint regarding disputed land to the DSP (city), Pathankot. While talking to The Tribune, the SSP said the police would investigate the criminal aspect of the complaint. On the illegal colony being brought up on the land, he said it was a civil matter to be taken by the PUDA or the Deputy Commissioner.

The SP, Pathankot, when asked about the complaint of Gopal Mahajan, said the matter was being investigated. The person, from whose mobile phone the complainant received calls, has been summoned. He has, however, not turned up before the investigating officer.

The ACR, PUDA, Mr Vikas Garg declined any knowledge about the illegal colony coming up in Pathankot. He, however, assured to look into the matter.

Though the fight between the warring Congress groups may get resolved later but the real sufferers in the imbroglio will be common people who are buying plots on the disputed land.


MLA lays stone of tubewell
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 6
As part of the ongoing celebrations of the completion of three years of the government, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, yesterday laid the foundation stone of a tubewell to be completed at the cost of Rs 22 lakh at Kajal Majra village in the district and part of the Kharar constituency.

Addressing the gathering, he said the government was celebrating the current year as ‘development year’.

He said clean drinking water facility would be ensured in all villages and schools of his constituency.

He clarified that he had been conducting raids at the schools not to terrorise the staff, but to ensure quality education and proper infrastructure.

He admitted that government schools were not having similar facilities in comparison to private schools.

He said at a cost of Rs 2 crore, various technical courses were being started in the ITIs of his constituency, so that the local youth may get technical know-how and be able to adjust in multinational companies, who were setting up their units in Mohali.


Silver coins of 19th century found
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 6
Silver coins dating back to 1860-1907 were discovered while digging a pit for a toilet at Rauta village, near here, yesterday.

Sources said the landlord, Surinder Kumar, had engaged some labourers to dug up a pit in his house. When the digging reached midway, labourers found these coins and some other items probably of the 19th century.

The landlord and the labourers had an altercation over the distribution of coins that led to the police getting a tip-off in this regard.

The police rushed to the spot and seized all the items. While the landlord has escaped, the police is examining the recovered goods.


Postal staff strike on March 15
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, March 6
The postal employees of the district today held a meeting to chalk out plans and strategies for organising a strike on March 15.

More than 100 employees of the postal department attended the meeting which was chaired by Mr Gurdeep Singh, district president of the postal employees, at the Punjab Public Works Department rest house, here. They also raised anti-government slogans during the meeting.

To press their demands, the postal employees have decided to launch a countrywide strike from March 15 onwards.

The employees have been demanding merger of 50 per cent of the dearness allowances in the salary, regularisation of daily-wage employees, provision of pension scheme and some other benefits.


Hindu jatha leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 6
A Hindu jatha comprising over 200 persons crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah joint checkpost for a pilgrimage to Katasraj today.

The Hindu pilgrims had been issued eight days’ visas. They would celebrate Mahashivratri falling on March 8 at the temple town which is related to an episode of the Mahabharatha.


Seminar on untouchability held

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 6
During the week-long celebrations to mark the three years of the government in office, the District Welfare Department organised a seminar on untouchability at block samiti office, Bassi Pathana, and arranged a community lunch.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary was the chief guest while Mr Khushi Ram, Director, Welfare Department, presided over the function. OC


3 get life term for murder

Moga, March 6
Additional Sessions Judge Sukhdev Singh has sentenced three persons, accused of killing a Nathuke resident, to life imprisonment, besides slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 each on them.

Sources said the convicts, Gurdeep Singh, his brother, Jagroop Singh, and their friend, Gurjant Singh, had attacked an elderly man of their village on the night of June 22, 2002, with sharpedged weapons.

The victim’s sons, Sukhwinder Singh and Harpreet Singh, who were on their way to irrigate land, where their father was present, rushed to save him, but the assailants had already done the damage. They fled from the scene.

The victim died on his way to hospital next morning.

On the basis of Sukhwinder’s statement, all three were booked for murder. — TNS


ASI hurt during copying bid
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 6
An Assistant Sub-Inspector of police was injured when he tried to stop Baldev Singh of Mehndipur village from helping his son to copy at an examination centre at Government Secondary School, Khemkaran, 40 km from here.

The police said here today that the accused, Baldev Singh, was providing helping material from outside the examination centre when he was stopped by ASI Gurmej Singh. Baldev Singh, who was allegedly under the influence of liquor, abused him and tore his uniform.

Gurjinder Singh, a son of Baldev Singh, who was inside the examination centre, came out and he too insulted the ASI.

Both father and son have been arrested under Section 353, 186 and 332, IPC.


Man escapes from police custody
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 6
Raj Kumar of Fatehabad escaped from police custody Friday night. He was arrested near Chak Radhewala village for smuggling 2.580 kg opium.

The police organised a photo session for mediapersons to show them its achievement of arresting Raj Kumar with 2.580 kg opium.

ASI Harinder Singh, Head Constable Jaswinder Singh, Constable Mangal Singh and Home Guard Gurdeep Singh were, on duty when Raj Kumar allegedly opened the bolt of police lock-up and scaled 5-ft-high boundary wall and escaped.

The city police station and residential quarters of officers and junior employees were also located in the same complex. Interestingly, the colony had no iron gate to prevent inmates from escaping.

The SHO recommended action against the staff on duty in a report faxed to the SSP, Ferozepore.

Meanwhile, a police party was rushed to locate the accused in Haryana at addresses given by him. The accused was remanded in the police custody.

Rajesh of Aasan Dhani Bhirani village of Bhadra subdivision who had also been arrested with opium had been remanded in police custody.


Travel agent held for duping
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 6
The PO wing has arrested a travel agent who had duped a Moga resident of Rs 3 lakh on pretext of sending him abroad.

Sources said that the travel agent, Harpreet Singh of Chandigarh, and his two accomplices had demanded Rs 15 lakh from Rajpal Sharma for sending him to Canada in 2001. The complainant first paid them Rs 3 lakh, following which they took him to New Delhi.

After keeping him there for a few days they feigned some problems and assured him of getting back to him, but they didn’t turn up later.

A case was registered against them under Sections 420, 406, and 120 B, of the IPC in 2002. The travel agents were absconding since then. The PO wing has now arrested Harpeet Singh, while his two aides are still at large.


2 held for selling FCI’s wheat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 6
Two persons have been arrested for their alleged involvement in diverting the wheat belonging to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to the open market, during a raid conducted by the police at a flourmill, located in the Namdev Nagar area, late last evening.

Police sources said that some people had been clandestinely selling the wheat belonging to the Food Corporation of India at throwaway prices at their flourmills. The police party, on getting this information, conducted a raid at a flourmill located in the Namdev Nagar area and recovered 75 bags of wheat, mostly belonging to HAFED, weighing about 50 kilogram each.

The police sources said two persons Jaswinder Singh, owner of the flourmill and Narinder Johar have been arrested while seven others have been booked in this scam. A case has been registered.


Rural university at Talwandi Sabo in a year
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, march 6
Punjabi University, Patiala, has decided to set up a rural university in this historical town to make it a real of seat of learning as this town was accoded the status of ‘Guru ki Kashi’ by Guru Gobind Singh.

Dr Swaran Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said near yesterday rural university was being set up with the idea of providing best education to the rural students belonging to lower economic strata of society.

He said like the Yadavindra College of Engineering, the rural university would provide education to rural students free of cost and efforts would be made to check the migration of people from villages to cities on account of better education facilities.

He said the university would be named after a Sikh guru.

He laid the foundation stone of a central library for students of the wings of the local campus. He said the university authorities would arrange funds for imparting education to the students belonging to rural areas and who would be admitted to the rural university. He said the Punjabi University authorities would set up its centre at Mansa that would offer management courses to students belonging to that area.

Later, Dr Boparai inaugurated the first annual Guru Kashi Games (men and women) in the Guru Kashi Stadium. Earlier, the first ever Guru Kashi Utsav got underway on the local campus.


271 students get degrees
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 6
Emphasising the need to equip the students to compete globally, Dr A.R. Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, said that educational institutions in India must constantly redesign and reinvent themselves by moulding their curriculum to the ever-changing dynamics of knowledge.

The Governor was addressing the BTech passouts of the Dr B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology during its second annual convocation held here yesterday. He conferred degrees upon as many as 271 students from nine departments.

Eight students of the institute were presented medals. Vaneet Singla from the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering received the chairman’s gold medal. Seven silver medals were also presented on the occasion.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Hari Gautam, Chairman of the BOG of the institute and former Chairman of the UGC, said that NIT was collaborating with Infosys under a campus connect scheme. About the vacant BTech seats in the college, he said that since the government did not give a nod for second counselling, it could not be held.

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