P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Patna Sahib Jathedar to boycott Takht meetings
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
The controversy involving Sikh clergy deepened today with Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, announcing that he would not attend any future meeting of Akal Takht.

Talking to The Tribune from Patna Sahib, he however, refuted the charges of bigamy. He said he had married the second woman with the consent of his firstwife .He also refused to appear before Akal Takht, if summoned by the Sikh clergy in connection with bigamy. He alleged he was being defamed as he had ‘exposed, Jathedar Vedanti and his brother-in-law, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, in the past.

It is learnt that Akal Takht is likely to convene meeting after Holla Mohalla to initiate action against Giani Iqbal Singh .

Jathedar Iqbal Singh said Takht Patna Sahib was contemplating action against Jathedar Vedanti for allegedly lowering its prestige. The Sikh high priests of Patna Sahib would meet shortly to discuss the matter. He said he had been attending the meetings of Akal Takht in the larger interests of the Sikh Panth though he was feeling suffocated due to alleged partisan role of Sikh clerics. He said he had questioned the ‘biased’ edicts , issued from Akal Takht.

Narrating the proceedings of the previous meeting, he said that it was a deliberate effort of Jathedar Vedanti to take up the petition of one Surjit Singh of Patna Sahib who was excommunicated from Sikh Panth for ‘anti-Sikhism’ activities.

Taking up the petition of an excommunicated person was an attempt to denigrate the prestige of Patna Sahib. He alleged the petition was ‘arranged’ by Mr Sandhu, brother-in-law of Jathedar Vedanti, on fax on the eve of previous meeting of the Sikh clergy.

He alleged Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, was also against him for honouring Giani Sant Singh Maskeen two years ago at Takht Patna Sahib . He said Takht Patna Sahib had always tried to honour religious personalities when they were alive while , the SGPC would honour them posthumously. 


Key witness says he was forced to retract statement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
Central Bureau of Investigation’s key witness in the Jaswant Singh Khalra disappearance case, Special Police Officer Kuldeep Singh, today claimed that the accused police officers in the case, had forced him to retract the statement given by him to the CBI regarding the disappearance of the human rights activist.

During his cross-examination in a local court here, he said after giving a statement before the CBI in Delhi, implicating a number of senior police officials, he had retracted the same under pressure from the accused police personnel.

The witness said he was forced to do this because he had been provided with Punjab Police personnel for security. He said faced with threats, he had held a press conference to retract the statement.

Kuldeep Singh said the accused police personnel forced him to give a statement to the press that he had been offered Rs 50,000 by Mrs Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of the human rights activist. He said due to pressure, he had also got a case registered against Mrs Khalra.

The witness said he built up courage to stand by the truth as well as his convictions only after he was provided CRPF security. He said once CRPF security personnel were provided to him, he decided to stand by the truth.

The witness also claimed that he had not met Mrs Khalra except outside the court and that he had not visited the Kabir Park residence of the human rights activist in Amritsar. 


Heroin worth 9 cr seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
The police has seized a huge haul of narcotics meant to be distributed in various parts of Punjab and the country. Five persons were arrested in this connection, while four persons, including a woman, managed to escape.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, district police chief said in a press conference here today that the accused were members of an international gang of smugglers that brought contrabands from Pakistan. The contrabands seized included 8 kg heroin and around 900 gm of brown sugar, priced around of Rs 9 crore in the international market. Those arrested were Balbir Singh, a resident of new Partap Nagar, Balkar Singh of new Tehsilpura, Harbhajan Singh and Lal Singh of Chheharta and Avtar Singh of Mohali.

Mr Brar said yesterday the CIA staff got information that a big consignment of heroin had come from across the border and some persons would be meeting and distributing the consignment among themselves near Partap Steel Mills in the Chheharta area. The informer also said that the accused would come in two cars, he said.

A special raiding party was formed under the supervison of Mr Ashwani Kapoor. On seeing the police, the accused tried to escape in their cars. They were chased and five persons, who were trying to escape in a Zen car (PB02-AE-8095) were apprehended. However, four other persons, including a woman managed to escape in another car (PB02-AF-3768). Nine packets containing contrabands were seized.

Preliminary investigation suggested that Gurnam Singh and Dilbagh Singh of Khasa, Jeevanlata of Jalandhar and Surjit singh of Kakka Kadiala village, who managed to escape, used to get the consignment from across the border and it was distributed in Delhi, Amritsar, Jalandhar and other parts of Punjab and the country. The arrested persons said they had been in this trade for the past six months and were getting Rs 5,000 per supply, which they used to hand over to designated person at the Delhi bus stand.


Haemophilic patients seek cheap treatment
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Thirtyfive-year-old Sukhwinder Singh from Khanna (Punjab) is not melancholic but is haemophilic, suffering from rare hereditary blood disease, in which person bleeds profusely even by a small cut in his body. That 12 of his relatives, including his seven-year-old son, suffer from the same disease makes him feel morose.

"It becomes difficult to manage so much of disease in the same family, especially when it is incurable and that its treatment is highly expensive. A cut on the body makes the blood ooze out immediately and controlling the flow is nearly impossible. The government must help us more as this disease does not affect individuals but runs in the families,'' says Sukhwinder, seeking medical advice at the open clinic of the Haemophilic Welfare Society, Chandigarh, here on Sunday.

More than 400 patients in this region suffer from haemophilia, which is an incurable hereditary disease and occurs due to the deficient activity of blood clotting factors of VIII and IX. Due to this, a simple cut in the body leads to uncontrollable blood loss. Females are the carrier of the disease that infects only the males. That is, a mother with the deficiency in her blood can give birth to her sons suffering from the disease. Daughters born to the same mother do not have the disease but can become the carriers.

Meanwhile, more than 250 haemophilic patients from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Chandigarh at the clinic are of the same opionion that more should be done to make treatment available at affordable cost and extend maximum concessions in rail and road transportation. ``Each injection to infuse factor VIII and IX in blood costs a minimum of Rs 3,000 and can go up to Rs 5,000. Treatment becomes expensive with patient's growing age. All the medicines and injections are imported and they are not even available at the small cities,'' adds Dr Maghar Singh, finance secretary of the society.

Children suffer immensely as the routine loss of milk teeth and gums lead to unparallel blood loss. "Both my grandsons, one seven-year-old and another eight-year-old are haemophilic. We have to check every time to ensure that they are not injured as a slight injury can cause bleeding in the joints, '' says Y. K. Bhatnagar hailing from Yamunanagar, who accompanies his daughter's two sons here.

While patients themselves say that they should be given concessions in every way, Prof J G Jolly, Chairman of the society, said the government should start regular health programmes in this direction. 


Civil Hospital may go to pvt party; staff up in arms
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
The Para-Medical and Health workers Union, Punjab, is up in arms against the alleged move of the state government to hand over the local Jallianwala Memorial Civil Hospital to a private party .

Though Dr Rajinder Singh Saggu, Director, Punjab Health System Corporation, today denied any such move, yet highly placed sources in the Health department confirmed that the newly built hospital may be given to a private party through the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board.

Tenders would be floated for seeking a ‘request for proposal’ so that the hospital can be given away as a ‘pilot project’ to a private party.

Earlier, the state government had refrained from taking a decision due to mounting pressure from doctors, staff and other employees of the hospital and the Communist Party of India (CPI).

The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, Chandigarh, which has reportedly given the final shape to the recommendations, is undertaking the privatisation process.

In 2003, the then Civil Surgeon had directed the Deputy Medical Commissioner to relieve all doctors and medical staff. The then Chief Secretary, Mr Rajan Kashyap, had stated that the Civil Hospital was being handed over to the private sector on an ‘experimental basis’ with a view to improving health services in the state.

Several multi-speciality medical centres, including the Apollo, CMC and Fortis, had shown interest for taking over the hospital. The sources said the new management of the hospital would be governed by a set of rules framed by the government.

The hospital was constructed by the Punjab Health System Corporation during the Akali-BJP regime at a cost of Rs 40 crore.


Punjab for trade transit facilities with Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
With an aim to start the proposed bus service between Nankana Sahib and Amritsar by the coming Baisakhi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will lay the foundation stone of the “widening road project” at the holy Sikh Shrine during his three-day visit to Pakistan beginning on March 14.

The Pakistan Punjab government has decided to widen the road for the proposed bus service between the two countries.

The Punjab government was keen to start the bus service during Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to Pakistan next week but the External Affairs Ministry had not given its green signal so far.

Capt Amarinder Singh will lead a 33-member industry delegation to Pakistan which will explore further avenues of business growth.

The Chief Minister, who was in the Capital for a presentation on investment in the autmobile sector, said that India could export wheat to Pakistan.

“Pakistan is buying wheat from Central Asia, when Punjab is sitting right next on its border.”

Officials accompanying the Chief Minister said that Punjab was interested in transit trade route facilities with Pakistan as it will open the door to exports to Iran and central Asia.

They said the transit facilities through road and rail would cut down on costs and help make Punjab a “port state”.

Responding to queries on the ongoing India-Pak cricket series, the Chief Minister said it had generated a lot of goodwill between the people of two countries.

“A large number of people have come here from other side of the border to watch the match at Mohali. Many of them could not even get accommodation in hotels. So people have opened their homes,” he said.


Students’ brush with theatre
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Tanda (Ropar), March 9
They never had a brush with theatre. Yet their presentation of the story “A shepard boy and a wolf” on the school stage moved the well known theatre activist, Gursharan Singh, so much that he decided to adopt the school and use art to promote learning.

Life, thereafter, has not been the same for these students of Government Primary School in the village, located just 7 km from Chandigarh.

It all started a few months ago when the two teachers at the school, Raman Mittal and Harpreet Singh, found that the traditional method of teaching was not going down well with their students. So they devised a way of story-telling through dramatic presentation. Within weeks, the learners became performers.

A low-cost stage of mud and stones was made with the cooperation of the villagers in one corner of the school. “The children live in the lap of nature. So we thought of teaching them on environmental awareness and theatre was used to send the message across,” said Raman Mittal.

When the Tribune team visited the school on Wednesday, the students gave a presentation of two stories. So convinced with the technique of teaching, a play ‘ Begmo Didi’, on the importance of child education, was organised for the parents of the school students.

Not limiting to theatre, some NGOs and the villagers pitched in efforts to paint slogans on the school walls. Today, the school walls are covered with messages and designs which could fire the imagination of any child.

To spruce up the place, the students of Government Arts College, Chandigarh, are holding an NSS camp at the school.

“Encouraged by the success, the school library was being upgraded. Apart from the books given by the education department, we are making efforts to arrange more books,” said Harpreet Singh.

Said the panch of the village, Bant Singh, “ We are so happy with the transformation of our children that we are ready to do anything for the betterment of the school “. As a gesture, the village panchayat got constructed one additional room in the school. The villagers have demanded that the school be upgraded to middle standard.

Not limiting to books, the students have been involved in maintaining the flower beds. A competition is organised to award the best maintained flower bed, said the school teachers.


Elephant trick may land magician in trouble
Animal not registered with Animal Welfare Board
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
Magician O.P. Sharma, who is presenting a magic show on a daily basis at Rakhra theatre here, has come under scanner of the Animal Welfare Board because of an elephant which forms a part of his troupe.

The magician has apparently not got the elephant registered with the Animal Welfare Board. The board has been constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and its headquarters are in Chennai. The board’s Punjab Executive has taken umbrage to the elephant being used in performances by the magician without proper permission.

Board member Sandeep Jain, who also heads the NGO People for Animals, while talking to TNS said it was necessary for all circus and magic show groups that have animals performing in them to get the animals registered with the board under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and Performing Animals Regulation Rules, 2001.

Mr Jain said under the rules, all performing artists keeping animals had to submit a fee of Rs 500 besides fulfilling basic requirements stipulated by the board on how they should keep animals under their charge. He said the Secretary of the board had been informed about the elephant which was being used by the magician. The Secretary would take up the issue with the district administration.

Meanwhile, Mr Dwarika Sharma, who looks after the public relations of the magician, admitted that permission from the Animal Welfare Board had not been taken. Mr Sharma, however, claimed that all necessary permissions needed to use the elephant in the magic show had been taken. This, he said, included permission taken from successive state governments for the movement of the elephant. Mr Sharma said the required licence had also been taken from the Punjab Forest Department and all necessary care was being taken to ensure that the elephant was kept in hygienic conditions and was given the specified diet.

The elephant is a star performer in the magic show of O.P. Sharma. Its performance is one of the main draws and is prominently projected in posters put up all over the city. The elephant “disappears” in thin air in the show in a magic trick. The magician also creates a lot of hype during the show before bringing the elephant on the stage. The elephant is brought on the stage in an elaborate cage. The cage is opened to give a view of the elephant and just as the magician waves his ‘’magic wand’’ it disappears.


Arya takes charge as BJP chief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 9
Mr Vasdev Arya today took over as president of the Sangrur district unit of the BJP at a meeting of the party here. He was appointed president by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Punjab BJP president, a couple of days ago, following the elevation of Mr Satwant Singh Punia to the post of vice-president of the All-India BJP Kisan Morcha.

Mr Vinod Gupta, a member of the working committee of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said despite many contes the high command had chosen Mr Arya.

Mr Arya announced that he would not make any change in the existing district executive committee of the party.


No hand in land grab, says Patiala MC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Reacting to a news-item, “Congress politician’s bid to grab land”, published in these columns on March 6, the Commissioner of Patiala Municipal Corporation, Mr Manvesh Singh Sidhu, has clarified that the then Municipal Committee had approved the move to lease out land to Mr I.S. Chawla.

The report had stated that Mr Chawla, a local politician, was trying to encroach upon a chunk of land. It had added that Mr Chawla was allotted shop number 68 in Patiala’s Chotti Baradari area after his store in Sheranwala gate area was demolished by the local authorities due to floods in 1988. Though he had been compensated, “the local MC authorities were all set to allot him yet another piece of land…,” the report had added.

In a communication to The Tribune, Mr Sidhu said the approval for lease was granted vide a resolution by the then Municipal Committee after taking into consideration the fact that Mr Chawla had been allotted shop number 68 by the Improvement Trust at the auction price, and not at the reserve price.

The government, he added, had subsequently approved the move to lease out land to Mr Chawla in accordance with the resolution. Later on, the MC had approved the building plan for temporary construction on the land.

The Commissioner claimed that afterwards a plaint was also filed in the matter against Mr Chawla. But the same was dismissed by a local Court. An appeal filed against the orders was also dismissed.

He insisted that The Tribune Correspondent was fully aware of the facts as he had furnished a representation in his office against the leasing out of site to Mr Chawla. His representation was still under consideration.

The reader, Mr Sidhu asserted, was made to believe that the Commissioner was “in some way hand in glove with Mr Chawla in the matter, which was not the case”. The correspondent, he said, should have approached the court for the redressal of his grievances. 


Dashmesh Academy receives Rs 1 crore grant
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 9
Shri Dashmesh Academy broke into celebrations today when the Chairman of the trust and former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, handed over a cheque for Rs 1 crore to the academy authorities as was promised two days ago. The cheque was given by Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, a member of the trust, to overcome financial crisis.

Besides, the SGPC has given Rs 25 lakh for the proper function of the academy. Mr Virender Singh and Mr Raj Mahender Singh Majitha also gave Rs 15 lakh each. The Hoshiarpur MP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, had promised Rs 20 lakh from the MP quota.

The trust running Shri Dashmesh Academy revered it decision to close down the academy two days ago when Mr Rakhra agreed to release a grant of Rs 1 crore to it.

After handing over the cheque, Mr Badal, accompanied by Air Marshal M.M. Singh and Mr A.J.S Garewal, members of the trust, held meeting with the staff members of the academy.

Mr Badal said a new Principal would be appointed in due course. He said that some NRIs had expressed desire to help the academy.

Later, at the residence of Mr Karam Singh, manager of Gurdwara Takht Kesgarh Sahib, he said the Congress government did nothing for the academy to overcome the financial crisis. He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, did not turn up for the scheduled meeting with the board of directors of the academy yesterday. Mr Amarinder had not attended the last three meeting regarding academy, he added.


Sumedh Saini to probe Park Plaza case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Taking suo motu cognizance of reports regarding the alleged filming of a newly-wed couple in a five-star Ludhiana hotel, the Punjab State Women Commission today asked the state’s Director-General of Police (DGP) to look into the matter.

The DGP, in turn, has reportedly asked Punjab’s Inspector-General of Police (Economic Offences and Special Operations) Sumedh Saini to investigate the case.

Pronouncing the orders earlier during the day, the commission Chairperson, Ms Parminder Kaur, requested the DGP to submit a detailed report in the matter as soon as possible. The Chairperson further fixed April 13 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Plaza case: day’s remand for accused
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 9
Duty Magistrate K.K. Singla today remanded the four accused in the Park Plaza video-filming case to police custody for a day on the plea of the prosecution that a video camera, allegedly used to record intimate moments of a couple in the plaza, was yet to be recovered.

The four — Parminder Pohal, Raju Sahni, Sangam, and Dharminder — were produced before Duty Magistrate J.S. Marok.

However, defence lawyers opposed the prosecution’s contention on the plea that the accused had been in police custody for four days with sufficient time for the police to interrogate them.

They claimed that no video-camera was used by the accused as alleged by the prosecution and the complainant couple had a scuffle between themselves.


Discussion on Budget proposals today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Punjab Council of Ministers will meet at Punjab Bhavan here tomorrow. It will discuss the Budget proposals and also approve the excise policy for the next financial year.

Sources said that at the meeting, the issues to be taken up by the government during the Budget session, which will start on March 18, will also be discussed and approved. There are certain ordinances to be converted into Acts.

The budget, which is to be presented on March 22 in the Assembly, will, by and large, have no fresh taxes because there will be a readjustment of tax slabs in the state with the implementation of VAT from April 1. There will be uniformity of taxes on the agreed list of items by various states keen to implement the VAT.

The state government had recently jacked up 5 per cent electricity duty and 3 per cent stamp duty to mop up about Rs 450 crore to create a dedicated fund for the payment of old-age pension etc.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who will preside over the meeting, is scheduled to visit Pakistan from March 14. He will be there till March 17. Before leaving for Pakistan, he wants to secure the approval of the council for the Budget proposals and the excise policy.


Rs 2.69 crore sanctioned for Fatehgarh Sahib
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Chairperson of the District Planning Board, while presiding over the meeting of the board here yesterday, sanctioned Rs 2.69 crore for various government sponsored welfare schemes and development projects in the district.

Besides, Rs 50 lakh was given to the Municipal Corporation, Sirhind, for developmental works. Mrs Bhattal said of Rs 8.71 crore received furing 2003-04, Rs 4.18 crore was spent on various schemes and development works. Besides, Rs 23.17 lakh was spent on the disposal of sullage in rural areas.

Later she presided over the meeting of the District Grievances Committee. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, raised the issue of corruption in distribution of mid day meal and nutrition diet to poor children and pregnant women through anaganwaris.

The District Programme Officer was not present in the meeting to give clarification on the query. Taking serious note of it Mrs Bhattal ordered an inquiry into the case and directed the Deputy Commissioner to call explanation of all the absent district heads. Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that it was very unfortunate that the poor children were kept in anganwari centres from 9 am to 1 pm and were just given two biscuits. There was no arrangement for proper drinking water for them.

Mr Sadhu Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, raised the issue of encroachment on government land worth Rs 2 crore by an individual at Bassi Pathana town and urged Mrs Bhattal to direct the district administration to take possession of the land. The Deputy Commissioner told the House that he had written to the Municipal Council pass a resolution in this regard. But the members did not pass the resolution and he later recommended the suspension of the council. He also assured to take possession of the land.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary raised the developmental issues of his constituency and got funds sanctioned for various projects.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mrs Bhattal said that the current year was being celebrated as development year. All types of pension, welfare schemes for weaker sections, removal of encroachments from government land would be ensured, she added.


Cops trace missing boys
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 9
Batala district police chief Dr J.K. Jain told mediapersons yesterday that the police had traced two boys missing since February 27. Police teams under the supervision of Qadian Deputy Superintendent of Police Amarjit Singh Bajwa were sent to Amritsar, Batala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in search of the boys.

The police found the boys working in marriage palaces. They had run away from home earlier too.

One of the boys was a student of class VI at Qadian.

Three boys — Vinod Kumar of Rajada Road, Qadian, Bathu, alias Ghuggi, of Dharampura Mohalla, Qadian, and Vinod Kumar of Sujaaganj Barabanki Hall, Dharampura Mohalla, Qadian, stayed together and at night slept at a crematorium near the local grain market.

On February 27, when Vinod’s father, Keemti Lal, reached the market in search of their sons, the boys ran away.

On a tip off, a police party headed by SHO Sanjeev Kumar found Vinod Kumar alias, Babboo, and Bathu, alias Ghuggi, from a dhaba at Bilaspur in Gurgaon, 6 km from Delhi, where they were working as waiters on a wage of Rs 1000 per month.


Land grab: ex-servicemen’s panel seeks probe

Amritsar, March 9
Col (retd) G.S. Sandhu, Chairman, Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front, today urged Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, to order a high-level inquiry into the land grab case in which some 20-25 armed persons had forcibly occupied land belonging to a retired headmaster of a school in Patti area in Tarn Taran on February last.

He said today the ADGP, Crime, after an investigation had directed the SSP, Tarn Taran, to register a criminal case against 19 persons, including seven government employees of the Revenue Department. However, only two persons had been booked.

He alleged that the revenue officials, including the then tehsildar, at the behest of local senior politicians of the ruling party, had sold the land at throwaway prices. The three kanals belonging to the Waqf Board was in possession of Tilak Raj on a 99 years lease since 1976.

He said senior police officials of the district did not take any action. So he took up the matter with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission which directed the IG, Litiga ion, to hold an inquiry.

The two booked were Bakhshish Singh and Beant Singh of Mastgarh village in Tarn Taran. — OC


Ambika tells DCs to give funds to all segments
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 9
Ms Ambika Soni, member, Rajya Sabha, and General Secretary AICC, has written to the Deputy Commissioners of Hoshiarpur and Ropar to provide funds from her MP Local Area Development Fund Scheme for development works in all segments of the Vidhan Sabha falling in the Hoshiarpur Constituency on the recommendations of sitting Congress MLAs as well as defeated party candidates.

Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, and Mr. Kuldip Kumar Nanda, President DCC, at a joint press conference here today said Ms Ambika Soni had written to the Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur to release Rs. 40 lakh for various development works in Garhshankar segment, Rs. 15 lakh each for Mahilpur, Garhdiwala and Balachaur, Rs. 35 lakh for Hoshiarpur, and Rs. 20 lakh each for Tanda and Dasuya.

She had also written to the Deputy Commissioner Ropar to release Rs. 15 lakh each for Nangal and Anandpur Sahib segments.

Mr. Dogra said Ms Ambika Soni had sent a proposal to the Union Railway Minister to link Hoshiarpur Railway Station with Tanda and Phagwara to bring it on the main line. 


50 women attend seminar
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
The District Legal Services Authority, Fatehtgarh Sahib, has organised a seminar on legal aid for women, in coordination with the Directorate of Field Publicity and the CDPO, at Naugawan village. Fifty women participated.

The seminar was presided over by Mr Rakesh Kumar, Assistant District Attorney, Fatehgarh Sahib. Addressing the participants, he said the main objective of the seminar was to educate the women regarding their rights.

Highlighting the importance of free legal aid, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, Additional Standing Counsel, Government of India, said legal aid services were were provided to the poor free of cost.


Farmers urged to use better seeds, methods
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 9
Dr Gurcharan Singh Alkat, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, inaugurated the Kisan Mela at the Regional Research Centre for Kandi Area, Bullowal Saunkhri, about 30 km from here, today.

He emphasised the need to adopt crop diversification and advised farmers to reduce the area under paddy cultivation and gradually shift to oil seeds, vegetables and other crops.

He also stressed the need for conservation of water, soil and environment of the state. Dr Kalkat called upon the progressive farmers to adopt diversification.

Dr Amrik Singh Sandhu, Director, Extension Education, stressed the need to popularise those varieties which have been specifically recommended for Kandi area by university experts. He exhorted women to get training in agriculture and allied occupations from the Krishi Vighyan Kendras. He said the expenditure on agriculture should be reduced by adopting recommended seeds and latest production techniques developed by PAU.

Dr G.S. Nanda, Director of Research, PAU, highlighted the research accomplishments of PAU and advised farmers to adopt PBW 175 variety of wheat.

Dr P.S. Aulakh, Director, Zonal Research Station for Kandi area, said the centre had been striving hard to develop technology to check degradation of land and water resources.

Ms Supinder Kaur Cheema, member, Board of Management, PAU, Mr Nand Lal, MLA, Balachaur, Dr S.S. Gill, Additional Director of Extension Education, also addressed the gathering.

Dr Kalkat and eminent guests also visited various demonstration plots, animal welfare camp, and exhibitions put up by various departments of PAU and other agencies.


‘Taking over’ of farmer’s land decried
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 9
Activists of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), Lok Sangram Manch, Aurat Mukti Manch and Pendu Majdoor Manch, today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here.

These unions were protesting against the alleged possession of a farmer’s land and home by an ‘arhtiya’ allegedly associated with Shiromani Akali Dal.

Addressing the protesters, the union leaders alleged that ‘arhtiyas’ allegedly were forcibly taking possession of farmers’ property at the “behest” of the police and the administration.

They alleged that the ‘arhtiya’ in question had taken over the land and home of Chamkaur Singh belonging to Madoke village.

They further alleged that the ‘arhtiya’ had also been caught for wrong measurement of food grains, but the police didn’t take any action in the matter.

Raising other issues, Mr Chhinder Singh Nathuwala of BKU demanded that the state’s farmers be given free power and water, besides loan at the rate of 4 per cent per annum.

He urged the government to ask the ‘arhtiyas’ to issue passbooks to farmers.

He warned that if the ‘arhtiya’ didn’t leave the possession of Chamkaur Singh’s property they would intensify their agitation.

Mr Ginder Singh Rode of Pendu Majdoor Manch, Mr Balwant Makhu of Lok Sangram Manch, and Ms Surinder Kaur Dhudike of Aurat Mukti Manch, also participated in the dharna.

Meanwhile, the Punjab State Electricity Board. Employees Federation also staged a dharna in front of the 132 kv substation here.

The union leaders flayed the state government’s move to privatise the electricity board.

They said the unbundling of the electricity boards in various other states had failed, as the private companies could not provide cheap and regular power to the customers.

Mr Lal Singh of Technical Services Union said these private companies didn’t invest anything and were “looting” people by selling costly power.

He said the state government was adamant on privatising the PSEB due to which there had been no recruitments in the past despite increasing workload on the staff.

He flayed the discontinuation of the arrangement under which the kin of a PSEB employee was given job after his death.

The union leaders also lashed out at Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla and termed him an “agent of multinational companies”.


Rakhra Kisan Mela today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Punjab Young Farmer’s Association will organise a state-level Kisan Mela at its Rakhra (Patiala) campus, tomorrow. The theme of the festival is “Pesticides for increasing productivity and protection of environment”.

The association secretary-general, Mr Bhagwan Dass, said the participating farmers would be given the foundation seeds of the highest-yielding Pusa-44 veriety of rice. They will be taken round the demonstration plots of the IARI’s successful verieties of wheat like HD-2643 and HD-2733. Scientists of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute will interact with the farmers.


Jewellery worth Rs 3.5 lakh looted
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, March 9
A jeweller was robbed of 540 gm of gold here this morning. Mr Harikrishan, proprietor of Anshu Jewellers, came to his shop around 9.30 am. He was carrying gold jewellery worth Rs 3.5 lakh in his bag. While opening shutters, he kept his bag on the ground.

Meanwhile, a man standing close to him, seemingly mentally challenged, started throwing stones at him. A turbaned scooterist advised the jeweller to keep himself at a distance from that man. Trying to avoid any injury the man moved somewhat away from his shop.

As he turned back, he saw his bag was not there. The mentally challenged man had picked up his bag. He fled with the scooterist.

The police was informed but the robbers could not be nabbed. Mr Daljinder Singh Dhillon, DSP, said the robbers were suspected to be members of a gang from Bhubneshwar. 


Neighbour booked in rape case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 9
A married woman of Virk Khurd village in the district was allegedly raped by a resident of the same village, who was residing near her house, on March 6. Police sources said the accused Lakha Singh (38), went to the house of the victim, who was alone in the house. When the victim tried to defend herself, she was first beaten up by the accused and then allegedly raped.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said though the incident took place on March 6, a case in this connection was registered yesterday on the statement of the victim. He added that the medical examination of the victim had already been conducted.

A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 376 and 452 of the IPC at the Nahianwala police station.


Faridkot medical college Principal resigns
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 9
The Principal of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Ms Geeta Sharma, has put in her papers. She was reportedly peeved with the present state of affairs at the college.

Geeta had taken over the reigns of the college at the time when the Medical Council of India (MCI) inspection, which was postponed indefinitely, was about to take place. Moreover, Punjab Government had transferred 23 doctors from the medical college of Amritsar to Faridkot to save the college from likely derecognition. Some doctors were also transferred from Patiala in December. Unconfirmed reports said the Principal was demanding her transfer back to Amritsar or filling up of vacant posts at the college, but she didn’t get a positive response in this regard.

According to sources, troubles for the college, seem to be far from over as a majority of doctors transferred from Amritsar and Patiala have proceeded on long leave. Surprisingly, all those on leave are “suffering from backache”. They were in no mood to stay back after the MCI inspection. Interesting, they were being ferried from Amritsar daily on a mini-bus. Sources said when the MCI inspection got postponed they started proceeding on leave one by one.


Matric exam postponed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 9
The matriculation examination for Health and Physical Education has been postponed till March 19.

The Controller of Examinations, Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur Saroya, said here today that the examination was earlier scheduled for March 12. It had now been postponed to March 19 due to administrative reasons.

The students would be appearing in the examination at the same centres and against same roll numbers.


Teachers hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
On a call given by the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union, more than 300 teachers and pensioners of aided schools from various districts of the state held a protest march against the Punjab Government here today.

Raising slogans against the government, the protesters urged the authorities to restore the pensionary benefits which were stopped from June, 2003. As many as 500 employees had retired since June, 2003, and they had not been given pension.

They also sought the merger of 50 per cent DA in the basic pay and pension and also the release of the grant for the current quarter (January to March) by allocating funds to pay salaries. The government was also asked to allow the aided schools to fill vacant posts.

Mr Romesh Kumar Sharma, general secretary of the union, said among those who addressed the protesters, who also staged a dharna near Matka Chowk, were Mr Mohan Lal, general secretary of the Punjab Aided School Managements Association, Mr Manohar Lal Chopra, adviser to the union, Mr Amarjit Singh Kang, Mrs Gurbinder Kaur Brar, Mr Narinder Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur and Mr Karnail Singh, all senior activists of the union.

Mr Sharma said that teachers from Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa, Nawanshahr, Faridkot and Muktsar participated in the protest march. Such protest marches would continue till March 15, he added. 


Teachers ‘caught’ helping examinees
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 9
A flying squad visiting Punjab School Education Board examination centres in Sangrur today “caught” certain teachers on invigilation duty dictating answers to candidates.

Recommending the cancellation of the paper, the head of the flying squad has sent a report to the Controller of Examination here, stating that two science teachers posted as invigilators at centre number 2 in Jakhewal village were busy dictating answers to the candidates from a set of handwritten material.

“In another room the deputy superintendent was doing the same thing. A chaotic situation was prevailing all around. Nearly 300 people were present inside the school complex who were active in supplying the required material to their wards while the main gate of the school was found closed when the flying squad arrived at the centre at 11.30 am,” wrote the head of the flying squad.

The flying squad head also alleged that the District Education Officer (DEO) of Sangrur was trying to shield the guilty teachers by issuing press statements in their support.

The Controller of Examinations Mrs S.S. Saroya, confirmed that such a report from Sangrur had been received by the flying squad led by Principal Ajaib Singh Tiwana and Principal Joginder Singh Aulakh.

She added that since allegations had been made against the DEO, she would be asking for independent inquires by board officials into reported cases of mass copying at these centres.


Five held at exam centre for impersonation
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, March 9
Five persons have been held for impersonation at the local Babuta Senior Secondary School. When the superintendent of the examination centre matched the photographs attached with roll number slips with those sitting for the exam, he brought the matter to the knowledge of District Education Officer R.D. Goel, who ordered an inquiry.

Mr Satwinder Singh, nodal inquiry officer, found three persons guilty of impersonation.

The students alleged they had paid Rs 2,000 each to the deputy superintendent for the crime but the latter denied it.

The situation at the centre became tense when the police attempted to take the guilty students away. But on the intervention of the DEO, they were let off.


NSS unit organises seminar
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
The NSS unit of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College organised a seminar on the occasion of International Women’s Day yesterday at Mata Sahib Kaur Girls Hostel of the college .

The principal, Dr D.S. Hira, presided over the seminar and Ms Manjeet Kaur Hira, was the chief guest.

The coordinator of the NSS unit Prof Lakhvir Singh said Prof Gurmeet Kaur of Electronics Department delivered a lecture on “Working women’s problems in India”. Girl students also participated in a debate on “Gender equality and female foeticide”. Students who had donated blood and had participated in pulse polio and tree plantation drives were given certificates.

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