P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Political, farmers’ bodies propose agri policy to Centre
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Punjab-based political and farmers’ organisations have urged the Union Government to redraft its agricultural policy by removing the ceiling on agricultural land and putting in place a system to ensure remunerative prices to farmers and better quality of grains besides introducing insurance and waiving loans.

In fact, these organisations have submitted a detailed draft of the policy to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, suggesting that he should consider all points in it while framing the policy.

Those who approved the draft are Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, convener of the Movement Against State Repression, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, BKU, Mr Balkar Singh Tikandu, BKU (Ekta), and Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation.

The draft says that successive land ceiling laws have limited the land holdings of farmers to 18 standard acres. On the other hand, urban land holdings are exempt from the ceiling. The ceiling laws have led to a decrease in most land holdings in Punjab to between one and four acres. The draft says that gradually the land ceiling should be raised taking care to protect the interests of individual farmers vis-a-vis those of arthiyas, corporate farmers.

Adoption of a policy favouring corporate farming would be a big mistake, says the draft. Fixation of the minimum support prices should be linked to the market price index. Institutional finance should be made available to farmers at an interest rate of 5 or 6 per cent. Hundreds of farmers have committed suicide under the burden of loans secured at high interest rates.

While farmers have been almost denied direct subsidies, industrialists have been cornering a major chunk of the subsidies allocated in the Union Budget. The total volume of subsidies for farmers is very low as compared to those in European and other countries. Instead of industrialists subsidies should be given to farmers.

The quality of grains should be improved by laying more stress on research. Industry especially agro-based industry, should be promoted in states like Punjab which have a lot of surplus raw material for processing and value addition at the village level.

There are loans totalling Rs 25,000 crore outstanding against Punjab farmers. About 80 per cent of these loans are non-institutional ones. All loans should be waived.

The draft says that because of the diversion of Punjab waters to Rajasthan and Haryana, agricultural operations have become very costly.


Stone for indoor stadium at Palahi village laid
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 12
Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Verma today lauded the role of NRIs for their contribution in community development here, but also exhorted them to avoid wasteful expenditures.

Addressing NRIs and other villagers at the community polytechnic of nearby Palahi village, Mr Verma stressed that NRIs should promote the over-all development of their native land.

Mr Verma underscored the need of channelising NRI resources. Environment-friendly and sustainable development projects should be undertaken, he said.

Praising Palahi NRIs and villagers for making the village a model, Mr Verma asked the organisers to promote duckweed technique, which Palahi had adopted, in other villages.

Earlier, Mr Verma laid the foundation stone of an indoor stadium at the village at a cost of Rs 20 lakh.

While Rs 10 lakh would be given by the village, a matching grant would be given by the government.

A high-level meeting held after the function and presided over by Mr Rakesh Verma, Deputy Commissioner and attended by ADC (D) Harpreet Singh Garcha, SDM Pritam Singh, college chairman Jagat Singh Palahi and other officers concerned cleared the grant for the stadium.

The special scheme for the village "Small Bore Sewerage Scheme" for Rs 51.93 lakh was also discussed. The village would give over Rs 26 lakh for it while the government would give Rs 24 lakh.

The officers concerned will again meet at Kapurthala next month in the Deputy Commissioner's office for considering approval for the scheme.

Mr Jagat Singh Palahi, chairman,Mr Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, secretary, Mr Gurmit Palahi, Principal, Community Polytechnic, felicitated the Deputy Commissioner on the occasion.


Pesticide traces in viscera mislead probes: expert
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The indiscriminate use of pesticides and insecticides seems to be contaminating humans if post-mortem reports are to be believed. Chemicals used in pesticides and insecticides are now commonly found in bodies during autopsies.

The traces of these substances are also leading to miscarriage of justice. An indication of this fact has emerged during post-mortem reports of bodies of victims of murders, suicides and accidents, especially at the PGI, Patiala and Shimla chemical examiner laboratories.

The reports of the Patiala-based Punjab Chemical Analysis Laboratory indicate towards contamination of humans, mainly by organophosphorus compound and aluminium phosphide - which are used as pesticides and insecticides in agriculture.

Though no authentic and concrete scientific study is available to establish the poisoning of the human body, yet anatomy and forensic experts feel that the discovery of these poisonous substances even in cases of those persons who either hanged themselves or were murdered or met with an accident is very common. This fact has several times led to deviation of investigation and apparent doubts by the courts on their investigation. There have been cases where suicides, murders and accidents seemed to be murders because of discovery of these poisonous substances in the bodies of the deceased.

Experts suggest that there is a need to seriously study the aspect of pesticides poisoning the human body.

A few cases where the Patiala-based laboratory has suggested poison in they bodies are so glaring that the need to be quoted.

On May 29, 2004, one Vipin Kumar of Sector 15 D, as per the post-mortem report died of asphyxiation after hanging himself from a fan but the organophosphorus compound was found in his body. On 13 March, 2004, one Om Prakash died of excessive drinking in Sector 22 but poison was found in his body. An 80 year old person died of cold on January 1, 2003, but again poison was found in his body.

Most glaring is an accident of a person which was seen by a police officer but the report again suggested poison in his body.

An authority on anatomy, Dr Inderjeet Dewan, told The Tribune that he could remember at least seven to eight cases at a time when the viscera report had suggested poisoning but the post-mortem report did not confirm this. Dr Dewan said in the case of poisoning, the stomach during the post-mortem examination gave an indication of the fact of poisoning. He, however, conceded that the discovery of these two poisonous substances was common but the toxicologists did not quantify it to indicate that the quantity found in the body was life threatening or was just an accidental intrusion in the body.

Dr Dewan said a woman died of epilepsy in Haryana but the discovery of organophosphorus compound ultimately led to sentence of her husband and father-in-law.

The doctor suggested that such tests should at least be done by two labs and pathologists, and toxicologists of the PGI could be involved in this exercise to rule out any foul play. Dr. Dewan said he could cite around 80 cases where the discovery of these compounds had misled investigation.

Sources in the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) said though quantification of the poison was not done, yet the cause of the death could be determined by the latest technology. He said there were around 600 chemicals in which oggano phosphorus could be traced. He suspected that the Patiala-based laboratory had not technologically updated itself. The Shimla laboratory claims it is more discreet in this regard and its reports are able to pinpoint the cause of death correctly.


Principal, lecturer missing, elopement alleged
Our Correspondent

Pathankot March 12
Tension prevails among staff and students of Mata Gujri National College [MGNC], Jakho Lahri village near here after the disappearance of a woman lecturer of the college under mysterious circumstances. The lecturer reportedly went missing on March 7.

Family members of the lecturer had accused that the college principal and some of his relatives were involved in her kidnapping. The police had registered a case under Sections 364, 506 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code against principal of the college Arjun Singh and his three relatives.

College students were agitating for the arrest of the accused involved in the crime. Principal Arjun Singh and three accused relatives had also been missing since then.

But sources claimed that there was no mystery involved as Arjun Singh and the lecturer had got married at Chandigarh. They had also applied for protection and sought validity of their marriage from the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.

But the petition of the principal was dismissed by the High Court.

Sources added there was some internal dispute between the board of directors which had resulted into the tension on the college campus. The missing lecturer was also said to be the one of the members of the board of directors.

Meanwhile, the students today raised slogans in front of the college premises and demanded immediate arrest of the principal and others allegedly involved in the episode.

The managing director of the college was not available for comments.


Abducted boy rescued, four arrested
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), March 12
A two-and-a-half-year son of an industrialist was abducted in broad daylight by two motorcycle-borne persons when he was playing in a street in front of his house.

The police has arrested four abductors and rescued the boy within a few hours of the crime.

The accused are a woman, her two sons and two nephews. Some of them were former employees in a factory being run by Mr Sanjiv Kumar, father of the boy.

The police was informed about the incident at about 7.15 p.m. Immediately, the police started gathering information in connection with the identity of the accused.

As per an eyewitness, the accused were two in number and they picked up the boy and sped away on their motorcycle. The grandmother of the boy raised the alarm.

Police sources said after the boy was abducted, his father started receiving telephone calls. The accused told him that the boy was safe and sought a ransom of Rs 5 lakh.

Mr Vimal Sharma, SHO, said a member of the victim’s family was asked to fix the place of handing over the ransom. After the place was fixed, a trap was laid by the police.

He said the person concerned took a bag filled with blank papers and placed it at a fixed point near a college. He then left the place. After some time, two youths came on the spot and took the bag. They were then overpowered by the police.

When they were questioned, they said the child was with three persons at Bhai ke Pishore village near Sunam.

The accused who had been arrested include Jaswinder Singh, Rajinder Singh, both residents of Piplian village, Darshana Kaur and her son Narinder Singh. Another accused, Harwinder Singh, is yet to be arrested.

A case has been registered.


Residents allege selective land acquisition
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
A controversy has erupted over the acquisition of a piece of land by PUDA for the development of Phase 4 and 5 in the city after some residents alleged that their land, including dwellings, had been a “deliberately acquired”.

Residents and landowners, whose land had been acquired as per a notification issued by PUDA, raised slogans against the government. They alleged that PUDA had exempted land belonging to influential persons.

Another section of residents claimed that Capt Amarinder Singh had exempted about 300 dwellings from the acquisition.

Information revealed that PUDA had acquired about 240 acres for the development of the colonies. After listening to objections raised by the those whose land and dwellings had been acquired, PUDA exempted about 47 acres from acquisition.

The residents alleged that some people dealing in real estate had managed to purchase land, which was exempted by PUDA, on throwaway prices and were now selling it at very high rates.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, PUDA, said out of about 40 acres which had been exempted from acquisition, 25 acres was under houses, seven acres under construction activities and 10 acres of zig-zag land was vacant. He said construction of houses on that land was also done after the local municipal council sanctioned some site plans.

He said the land was selected for setting up two new colonies. A notification had been issued and then objections were listed. A comprehensive report was prepared for the acquisition and exemption of land.

He said so far no person had come to lodge a written complaint that land had been exempted in lieu of some consideration. If any such complaint came, it would be inquired into and action would be taken.

Mr Kirpal Singh, Land Acquisition Collector, PUDA, in a press note here claimed that a piece of land was exempted from acquisition keeping in view built-up area.


Emergency panel set up on foot-and-mouth disease
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
For preventing the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in the state from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, the Punjab Government has constituted a high-level State Animal Disease Emergency Committee (SADEC).

Sources in the state government say that the Director and the Joint Director of the Animal Husbandry Department are among the committee members. The Secretary of the department is the committee Chairman.

They add that the SADEC — constituted to check the spread of the disease from neighbouring states and monitor the situation a on-day-to-day basis — is expected to hold a meeting next week.

The sources claim that the government is taking the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease after receiving reports of its recent surfacing from Himachal.

They add that the livestock population in the state is also being vaccinated against the disease. This follows the Centre's decision to create a disease-free zone in Punjab, along with eight other states in the country.

The development is significant as the animal husbandry sector's contribution to the state's gross domestic product is as high as 17 per cent.

Though no case of-foot-and-mouth disease has been reported to the authorities in the recent past, the possibility cannot be ruled out.

The Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, Dr Baljeet Singh Sidhu, says the "lack of awareness, and vaccination, can lead to the problem in a few cases. But it is unlikely that the disease will take the form of an epidemic, especially when the vaccination programme is in full swing".

Giving details, he says that the programme is fully funded by the Central Government. So far, eight districts — Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore — have been covered under the scheme.

The next phase of the free vaccination programme, aimed at boosting immunity in already vaccinated animals, is likely to begin in the third week of this month, he says.

The state's Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, says that the objective of the vaccination campaign is to create a disease-free zone so that livestock and various products, including meat, milk, cheese and milk powder, can be exported to European and other countries to fetch more remunerative rates.

He adds that the products can be exported only if they are from animals free from diseases like foot-and-mouth, besides rinder pest and tuberculosis under the WTO provisions.


Death of 28 buffaloes: two vets suspended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 12
Two veterinary doctors and a Class IV employee of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab, have been suspended in connection with the death of 28 buffaloes due to mysterious disease in Swara village over the past two months.

The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, said today that Dr K.K. Sharma, senior veterinary officer, Kharar, Dr Pawanpreet Kaur, veterinary officer in charge of the dispensary at Jhanjeri village, and Gurmukh Singh, a Class IV employee at the Jhanjeri dispensary, have been suspended.

He said he had been informed in this regard by the secretary of the department, Mr D.S. Bains. He said the government had taken a serious note of the lapse on the part of doctors who failed to take prompt action which led to the death of a large number of milch cattle.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said a high-level inquiry committee had been constituted which was headed by Mr Vinod Gupta, Joint Director, to probe into the matter. The committee would be submitted its report within 3 weeks. He said the secretary of the department would be visiting Swara on Monday. Emergency disease diagnostic teams would accompany him.

Dr Ram Singh, Deputy Director, told Chandigarh Tribune today that a diagnostic team from Jalandhar, which had visited the village yesterday, had taken various samples like a piece from the heart, liver, lungs of the dead animals to diagnose the disease but a report in this regard was awaited. Fodder samples from houses where animals had died had also been taken for diagnosis. Blood samples of healthy animals were also collected, he added.

Death of buffaloes and calves in the village had started taking place since January 13 but no immediate action was taken in this regard by officials concerned.


SGPC urged to let Bhai Lal perform kirtan
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO) has appealed to SGPC to grant permission to Bhai Lal, a descendent of Bhai Mardana, to perform kirtan at Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.

In a press release, Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, president of SNO and convener of the Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative said he had taken up the matter with Bibi Jagir Kaur president, SGPC, who, on her part, expressed her inability to grant such permission in view of prevalent Sikh rehat maryada adopted by the SGPC since 1925. However she assured to take up the case of permission to Bhai Lal in the meeting of executive committee of SGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur maintained that as per Sikh code adopted by the SGPC since 1925, only baptised Sikhs could perform kirtan at Harmandir Sahib.

Dr Randhawa while advocating granting of permission to Bhai Lal argued that no one should be punished for doing of what others had done. Moreover Bhai Lal who has all devotion and respect for Gurbani should not be made to suffer for any act of blasphemy committed by others in the past.

The SNO maintained that whatever may be the reasons, any maryada adopted by SGPC could not violate Guru’s order and the spirit of unity of mankind as preached by the Sikh Gurus. He added that the rigid attitude adopted by the SGPC seemed unreasonable, as it must consider and decide such requests on merit keeping in view the devotion and respect of such petitioners towards Gurbani and Sri Guru Granth Sahib.


Punjabi conference highlights social issues
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The three-day International Punjabi Development Conference organised by the Punjabi Language Development Department concluded here today. Dr A.K. Chawla, Vice-Chancellor, Kurukshetra University, was the chief guest.

Dr Chawla, who delivered the valedictory address, appreciated the efforts of Punjabi University in its endeavour for the development of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

While touching upon the theme of the conference, Dr Chawla said Punjabis due to their hard work and dedication have been successful in establishing their identity as enterprising people.

On the occasion eminent personalities from abroad shared their experiences. Ms Tausif Afzal, a Punjabi storywriter from Pakistan, appreciated the seriousness of the conference towards immediate issues. Mr Darshan Gill from Canada lamented that health and education were neglected parts of the Indian social system.

Mr Jagtar Dhaw from England said Indian society had changed, but not for the better Rampant corruption and unethical approaches were a serious concern. Dr Uminder Johl from Doaba College, Jalandhar, opined that literature should be read keeping in view the social aspects of a particular society. He identified the need to analyse society.

Dr Harjit Singh Gill while discussing the proposed projects of the department to translate Bhai Kahn Singh’s Mahan Kosh into English and Punjabi translation of noble prize winning books, said scholars must keep in mind the level of research and should try to maintain the original standards of writings. Mohammad Shafiq Butt from Pakistan was of the view that Islamisation had certainly given a setback to the traditional cultural activities in Pakistan Punjab’s educational institutions.

He desired the inter-exchange of cultural groups.

Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, Director (Public Relations), presenting a vote of thanks.


‘Shahrukh Khan got his name from me,’ claims Pak Olympian
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
“Do you know from where Shahrukh Khan got his name,” asks Sehzada Shah Rukh, a retired Director of the National Bank of Pakistan, and a “rare double” Olympian, who represented his country both in hockey (1948) and cycling (1956).

Sehzada Shah Rukh, who is here to meet his Olympian friends — Balbir Singh (senior) and Tarlochan Singh Bawa — have so much to look back nostalgically to his both playing days and first year in government service in undivided India.

“One day when I was sitting with film idol Dilip Kumar, my elder brother Khurram and a few others that father of Shahrukh Khan, infatuated with my name, announced that if he got a son, he would name him after me,” recalls Sehzada Shah Rukh.

Incidentally, both S.M. Khurram and Shah Rukh played together in the 1948 Pakistan Olympic hockey team which finished fourth in London in 1948.

Sehzada Shah Rukh has an interesting tale to tell about his migration to Pakistan after Partition. “I had been selected, both as Naib Tehsildar and Excise Inspector. I preferred the latter and joined the Punjab Excise Department and got a posting in Kharar in 1946.

“After getting a job, I got married. When riots started, I was relieved and asked to report for duty at Lahore. My friend, a tehsildar and a Sikh, who used to play tennis with me, advised me to travel to Ludhiana by bus from where, he said, I should travel by train to Amritsar. My wife had put a bindi on her forehead and my tehsildar friend changed my name to Prem and instructed the bus driver that he should get me and my wife in Amritsar-bound train at Ludhiana.

“On arriving in Lahore, we were greeted by continuous exchange of fire taking place outside the railway station. We decided to walk along the rail track to reach home. Everyone was pleasantly surprised to find us alive as they had presumed that we both have been killed in riots. A few days later, when I reported for duty at Lahore, I was told that all posts of excise Inspector have been taken up and that I should work as a clerk and continue to draw my salary as before.

“I protested and met the Food Secretary and narrated to him my story. He absorbed me in the Department and asked me to look after supply of foodgrains to refugees coming from India. I was posted at Kamoki Mandi where after a year I had to quit as I refused a few truck loads of toria seeds to a senior functionary of the department. Then I joined National Bank from where I retired a Director,” says Sehzada Shah Rukh.

“I was never interested in hockey. It was my brother, Khurram, who forced me to play the sport. Like me, Khurram was also a very talented cyclist. After Pakistan superseded me and named my junior M. Niaz Khan, to captain Pakistan in the 1952 Olympic Games, I quit hockey and concentrated on cycling. In 1956, I represented Pakistan in the Melbourne Olympic Games and in the 1958 Asian Games, I won two medals in cycling,” says Sehzada Shah Rukh.

“We played together for three years in the Amritsar Khalsa College team. He used to play as left half and I was centre forward,” recalls octogenerarian Balbir Singh (senior).

“Both were excellent cyclists as well and did win a lot of medals for Khalsa College, Amritsar. Though Khurram was originally a forward, we made him play as a fullback where he did a terrific job and was like a rock,” says Balbir Senior.

“I played against Shah Rukh in the London Olympic Games,” recalls Tarlochan Singh Bawa, holding that both Shah Rukh and Khurram were “talented, handsome and great fighters”.

And this afternoon, all three Olympians of yesteryear, were together, sharing nostalgic moments of their youthful days, besides giving tips to youngsters at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium.


Indian artistes appreciated in Lahore fest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
The Indian theatre group which participated in the week-long Panj Paniyan Festival in Lahore received acclaim from Pakistanis.

A leading theatre artiste and director, Neeta Mahendra, who returned after participating in the festival, said Indian theatre was technically better equipped.

She said three groups from India led by Neelam Mansingh, M. K. Raina and Kewal Dhaliwal, along with 57 artistes performed during the festival.

The founder of the Ajoka Theatre Group, Madeeha Gauhar, had taken the initiative to organise the festival.

She said that a large number of theatre enthusiasts were planning to set up institute of on the basis of National School of based in Delhi.

Dr Neeta group had presented “Ragdesh” an adaptation an English play on the life of a Chile dictator. The play received good response. 


Badal seeks CBI probe into captors’ role in poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into reports claiming that alleged kidnappers of Prabir Singh had actively campaigned for the Congress candidate in Ajnala byelection last month.

In a press note, Mr Badal said senior Congress leaders, including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh should break their silence on growing criminalisation of polity in Punjab.

He said events that unfolded in Jharkhand were a minor street squabble compared with the magnitude of criminalsiation of politics in Punjab.


House used by Prabir’s kidnappers searched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 12
A joint team of the Amritsar and Ludhiana police this evening conducted a search operation at a house in Dugri here where Prabir, a youth from Amritsar, was allegedly held captive by kidnappers for 10 days.

The team found that the kidnappers had taken house No 180, Flower Enclave, Dugri, on rent just a month ago. The house belongs to a bank manager posted in Jalandhar.

The police lifted fingerprints from the house, besides confiscating a number of items belonging to the alleged kidnappers.


Dandi March anniversary commemorated
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 12
A large number of activists of the local unit of the Congress led by Mr Kuldip Rana, district Congress president, participated in the Dandi march here today to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the march taken out by Mahatma Gandhi.

The march started from the local Punjab Mata Vidyavati Bhavan and passed through the main roads of the town before culminating at the municipal council chowk, where a rally was also organised.

Mr H. S. Dhad, convener of the farmers' cell of the PPCC, Mr Kuldip Rana, Mr Kartar Singh Sekhon, Mr Chaman Singh Bhanmazara, Chairman, Market Committee, Mr Sita Ram Taneja, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak, president, MC, Mr Satvir Singh, district Youth Congress president, Mr Vipin Taneja, secretary, Punjab Youth Congress, among others paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.

They asked the Congress workers to follow the principles of truth, non-violence, communal harmony and social and economic equality.

AMRITSAR: The District Committee (Rural) led by its president, Mr Inderjit Singh Basarke, observed the 75th anniversary of the historic Dhandi Yatra Divas here on Saturday.

Congress workers observed two minutes’ silence for paying tributes to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who had carried out this yatra during the freedom struggle.

HOSHIARPUR: A prabhat pheri was organised by the District Congress Committee, Hoshiarpur, in the main mohallas of the city early Saturday in connection with the celebration of the plantinum jubilee of the Dandi March.


National safety week observed
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, March 12
The education wing of Punjab Police in collaboration with the local unit of Punjab Red Cross Society observed ‘National Safety Week-2005’ in the premises of Siel Chemical Complex, Rajpura, a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit, near here.

Besides training programmes on ‘First Aid’ and ‘Roads Safety’, the experts from various fields also educated employees of the industrial unit dwelt on consequences of air pollution due to increasing vehicular traffic and violation of rules of the road.

Mr Rajiv Marwaha, General Manager of the industrial unit, inaugurated the week. Various events like run for safety, tree plantation, quiz competition, slogan writing competitions and some others were organised to observe the week.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, a trainer from Punjab Police, gave tips to the employees on road safety.

On the valedictory day of the week, today, Mr Kastumbh Shrama, SP (Traffic), Patiala, that 85,000 persons loose their lives in road accidents every year. Majority of the victims include pedestrians, and riders of two wheelers.

Mr Sanjiv Verma, assistant manager of unit, said that besides the employees, Mr Kaka Ram Verma, a trainer from the Red Cross Society, many other prominent people of the locality were also present on the occasion.


‘Hand over hospital to private party’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The Executive Committee of the Forum for Common Cause, at a meeting here today under Presidentship of Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, urged the Punjab government to hand over the Jallianwala memorial civil hospital, Amritsar a private concern.

Mr Vishavdeep Singh, Secretary general of the Forum, said the government was spending crores of rupees on the upkeep of rural hospitals across the state yet no proper infrastructure existed in these hospitals.

Mr Vishavdeep Singh quoted a World Bank report which said that 40 per cent staff absented themselves from duties in rural areas. Moreover, he maintained that patients still rush to urban areas for treatment instead of visiting rural hospitals.

The President of the Forum , Mr M.S Walia appealed to the state government not to be cowed by unions and other elements against the privatisation of these rural hospitals.


Drug awareness camp for cops
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The Drug Awareness and Counselling Centre of Lala Lajpat Rai Bhavan today organised a seminar in the Police Lines, Sector 26 to educate the police officers and their wards on the bad effects of alcohol.

Ms Suman Gupta and Mr Sunail Gupta in charge of the Drug Awareness and Counselling Centre delivered the lectures to the police officers on how to overcome stress and to cure the bad effects of alcohol.

About 125 policemen participated in the seminar.


Girl fakes kidnapping to escape from parents
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 12
The district police today claimed to have solved a case of alleged kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl within three hours of the incident and recovered the girl allegedly from the room of a city hotel.

According to the police, the girl stage-managed her kidnapping drama with the help of one of his friends to extract money from her parents.

The police said one Pritpal Singh of the Lajpat Nagar locality, in his complaint, alleged that his daughter had been kidnapped as he received a message for ransom from the mobile phone of his daughter.

The police swung into action and sealed all the exit points of the city. The photo of girl was distributed among the police parties, which were deputed for the search operation. Later, following a tip-off, a police party went to a city hotel and recovered the girl from a room.

The girl disclosed to the police that she was not interested in living with her parents. As she was not having good relationship with her parents, she decided to run from the house.

She called one Inderjeet Singh, a friend, who picked her from outside her house and dropped her in front of a hotel situated near BMC chowk. As there was no vacant room in the hotel, she went straight to another hotel and got booked a room in the name of Raman.

On further questioning, she disclosed that she herself had drafted the kidnapping message to mislead her parents so that she could move out of the city next morning with the help of her friends.

The investigation was still on in the case.


3 migrant labourers ‘drugged’
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, March 12
Three migrant labourers were found unconscious at different places along the Rajpura-Patiala and the Rajpura-Ambala highways, here today.

The trio had fallen unconscious after some members of a gang active in the area allegedly fed them eatables with an intention to loot them.

According to sources, some passersby noticed two unidentified persons lying unconscious in a ditch along the Rajpura-Ambala highway near Shambhoo barrier and informed the police. The police has admitted them in the Civil Hospital, Rajpura. They have not regained consciousness till filing of the report.

In a similar incident, another migrant labourer, who later was identified as Vikas of Hardoe district in Uttar Pradesh, was found lying semi-conscious along the Rajpura-Patiala highway near Sham Nagar. He was also sent to the local civil hospital.

Some residents of the area who noticed him just after being duped by the miscreants at the site, found that the man was drugged by feeding with some laced eatables.

Mr Rameshwar Saini, a resident of the locality, searched his luggage and found ladies suits and Rs 18,000 in cash. The luggage was searched in presence of a former councillor of Rajpura Municipal Council, Sushil Sahi.

The victim told to the persons that some strangers offered him sweets following which he lost consciousness. Mr Vikas was on way to his native place. He, however, was not in a condition to tell more about the episode.

Presently, all victims have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital and the police has started investigating the case.


6 rice traders held for evading market fee
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 12
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested six persons, said to be owners of five rice shellers of Barnala in 1999-2000, in connection with alleged evasion of market committee on paddy. The paddy was reportedly purchased during 1999-2000 from outside Punjab by these owners of the rice shellers. Besides these six traders, some other persons are yet to be arrested.

Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Sangrur, said today the names of the arrested persons were Moti Lal, Rajinder Kumar, Kimat Rai, Bhim Sain, Pardeep Kumar and Jamana Dass, all residents of Barnala. He said these persons had been arrested under Section 406 and 420 of the IPC.

According to the information provided by the Vigilance Bureau here, the evasion of the market committee fee, to the tune of about Rs 16 lakh, is involved in this case as the arrested traders purchased the huge quantity of paddy from outside Punjab, but did not allegedly pay the fee.
Vigilance staff said the six accused had been produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Harsh Mehta, here this afternoon, who remanded them in police custody for one day.


2 hurt in group clash
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 12
Two activists were injured in a clash between Sikh organisations and the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) here last midnight.

The Sikh organisations have called a meeting here tomorrow to chalk out the next plan of action to counter the alleged misinterpretation of the preachings of Sikh gurus.

Police sources said here today that the DJJS had organised a programme at the local Muradpur road, where it allegedly misinterpreted teachings of Sikh gurus.

Workers of different Sikh organisations gathered on the spot and demanded that the function be stopped. Activists of the DJJS allegedly threw stones on them.

Rajinder Singh and Bhupinder Singh of the Sikh organisations were injured in the incident. The Sikh activists gathered in front of the local city police station and raised slogans against the police and the DJJS.

Mr Ashok Bath SP (D) and Mr Naurang Singh, SHO, City, reached the spot. They said action would be taken against the guilty.


Six bookies arrested during raid

Abohar, March 12
The interrogation of six bookies, arrested in a raid at Jawahar Nagar, Sriganganagar, last night, has revealed that over Rs 1 crore betting had already been done on the Indo-Pak test match at Mohali.

Senior police officers said Lila Dhar, Parveen Kumar and Ravinder Kumar were partners in the racket. The other three who had been nabbed were their employees.

A sum of Rs 9 lakh had been put as bet for draw, Rs 18 lakh for victory of India and Rs 71 lakh for the Pakistan team.

The police, during the raid, seized 28 mobile phones, a laptop and over 40 audiocassettes, among other things. — OC


Gang of thieves busted, 13 cars recovered
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 12
The police today busted an inter-state gang of car thieves by arresting six of its members. Thirteen stolen cars were also recovered from them.

The gang would steal vehicles from across the country and used to get fake registration certificates prepared from advocate based in Mansa. It would then sell the vehicles.

Mr G.S. Grewal, DIG, Faridkot range, in a press conference here today, said the police had got information that Raj Kumar of Chauke village of this district and Binny Bawa of Rampura had been dealing in the sale and purchase of stolen cars.

The police also seized receipts with fake stamps of the District Transport Officer, Mansa, and 22 blank affidavits having the signature of a notary of Bathinda.


3 die in bus-car collision
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
Three persons died when a bus of Sukhdev Transport Company collided with a car on the busy Chandigarh-Patiala Highway at Bahadurgarh here early today morning.

The bus, which was coming from the Chandigarh side, rammed into a Maruti Zen car (DL5CD-8125) when it failed to negotiate the divider intersecting the road near the Escorts factory. The three deceased, all occupants of the car, have been identified as Vineet Tyagi (32), Sonu Tyagi (18) and driver Bablu. The bus rolled over the car killing all occupants of the car on the spot.


One dies in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 12
Rachhpal Singh a tempo cleaner was killed in an accident here this afternoon. The accident took place when the tempo in which he was traveling rammed into truck near ITI Ropar. The cause of the accident was said to be high speed of the tempo.

The police has registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent against the driver of tempo on the complaint of Satnam Singh, the father of the deceased.

Four arrested for theft
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 12
The police has solved a theft case which took place in Sirhind on March 6 with the arrest of four persons. The police has recovered cash and jewellery items from them.

According to Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, a five-member gang committed theft in the house of Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Patel Nagar. At that time Sanjeev Kumar and his wife went for morning walk, leaving their two children at home.

The accused have been identified as Jagan Nath, Danesh Kumar, Harpinder Singh and Harpinder Singh, all residents of Sirhind. The fifth accused Mohinder Singh managed to escape.


Baba Farid varsity’s Registrar goes on ‘long leave’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 12
The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, which has remained mired in one controversy or the other since its inception in 1998, suffered another jolt on Thursday when its Registrar, Dr A.S. Sekhon, went on a long leave.

It is learnt that, while accepting his written request for the leave which incidentally said if Dr Sekhon did not turn up on the expiry of the leave period he could be relieved, the Punjab Government had issued a circular to the heads of over 40 medical, dental, homeopathic, ayurvedic and nursing colleges affiliated to the university seeking a senior medical officer for the post.

Dr Sekhon is the fifth Registrar who has offered a ‘resignation’, albeit veiled, during the past over five years.

Earlier, Dr R.K. Raina, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Dr T. Jesupadam and Dr P.S. Sandhu had also quit the post.

According to reports, Dr Sekhon, who joined on June 2, 2003, for a two-year tenure under heavy pressure from various quarters, was feeling suffocated due to the alleged allocation of substantial chunk of his powers to junior officers.

He was allegedly not even able to enjoy the clerical powers in the institution.

Moreover, he was reportedly feeling distressed over the alleged failure of the higher authorities in initiating measures for the promotion of the advanced studies in various fields.

Most of his proposals were allegedly turned down, particularly the proposal for the construction of the university building which led to a number of meetings of the management board headed by Dr.J.S.Gujral, Chairman-cum-Vice-Chancellor.

This was despite the fact that a fund of about Rs 25 crore was lying in the university account in various nationalised banks.

In addition to it, he also allegedly felt sore over the attitude of the state govt in appointing over 70 observers to hold the PMET besides deploying three Central observers at the university complex to monitor the results.

The constitution of a five-member committee, led by the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, to conduct the counselling of the candidates for admission aggravated the matter.

When contacted, Dr Sekhon said he had sought a three-month-long leave in his letters written to the Vice-Chancellor on December 28 last and again on January 1, this year.


Revamp higher education system: ex-VC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Dr Amrik Singh, an educationist and former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, today made a strong plea to change the system of higher education.

Addressing the annual convocation of BBK DAV College for Women here, Dr Amrik Singh strongly felt that the University Grants Commission (UGC) should not act like a regulator but to give freedom to institutions of quality higher learning to set their norms in view of the global challenges.

He said universities and colleges should be allowed to experiment with the academic system and design new courses while UGC should confine itself to assessment and monitoring. Citing example of South-based universities and colleges, Dr Amrik Singh said the institutions in North should follow the trend set up by them. He informed that these educational institutions were utilising their infrastructure to the optimum by holding evening classes, thereby overcoming financial crunch.


147 students given B.Tech degrees
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 12
The third convocation of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal, was held on the college campus today.

Bachelor of technology degrees were conferred on 147 students and master’s degree in computer applications on 23 students, computer sciences and engineering degree on 49 students, electrical engineering on 23 students, electronics and communication engineering on 60 students and electronics and instrumentation engineering on 15 students.

Prof Prem Vrat, Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, was the chief guest and distributed prizes among students.

Triveni Gaba, Seema, Ashok Kumar Yadav, Geena, Sugandha Chowdhary, Rashee Garg, Malti Gupta, Amanpreet Kaur, Isha Verma, Anu Sachdeva, Monika, Manpreet Kaur and Rajvinder Kaur were honoured.

The Principal, Prof I.K. Kataria, read out the annual report. The Chairperson of the college, Ms Kulwinder Gurcharan Singh, gave a vote of thanks.


Function on Mian Mir on March 16
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Makhdoom Syed Pir Qadri, nineteenth descendent of Mian Mir who laid the foundation of Harmandar Sahib, today visited Guru Nanak Dev University.

Syed Qadri assured Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the university, that his organisation would extend cooperation for preaching the message of Mian Mir. The VC told him that the university had established a Mian Mir Chair from the current academic session and a Mian Mir bhavan would also be constructed. He added that the foundation stone of the bhavan was laid by Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi, Chief Minister, West Punjab in Pakistan.

The university has decided to hold an academic function on Mian Mir on March 16 in which Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur, a historian and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university, and Syed Qadri will present views on the life and philosophy of Mian Mir.


NCC commanders meet
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
A conference of all the NCC Group commanders of Punjab Haryana HP and Chadigarh was held at NCC Group Headquarters here which was presided by Brig DS Dhillon, Deputy Director General, NCC Directorate.

Col Manjeet singh, commander NCC Group, Patiala welcomed all the participants of the conference. The meeting was held to review the NCC activities for 2005-06. The DDG said the Directorate had obtained overall 3rd position in the RD Camp 2005, held at Delhi. The conference ended with the presentation of NCC Directorate Championship Banner by Brig DS Dhillon, DDG NCC to the overall Champion NCC Gorup, Shimla.


New services launched at SBoP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
State Bank of Patiala has introduced another revolutionary dimension in customer service by introducing Business process Reengineering (BPR) initiatives after achieving the landmark of cent per cent computerisation and single window service.

Two major BPR initiatives Grahak Mitra and Drop Box were rolled out today at Patiala by Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, at Punjabi University branch of the bank. Mr J.S. Subba Rao, General Manger (Operations), also graced the occasion. Mr. C.S.Kang, Deputy General Manger, Patiala zone, highlighted various schemes initiated by the bank for the benefit of the customers.

Mr K.S. Sandhu, Assistant General Manager, informed that 11 more branches in Patiala will be covered very shortly. Grahak Mitra stationed in the branches will provide first-level information about the products of the bank, besides educating the customers to migrate to altnate channels. He will also ensure that the customers are immediately attended. Drop Box will provide hassle-free cheque tendering service round the clock.

He said initiatives which will be started shortly are retail assets, house loans, education loans and car loans, besides this bank is rolling out small enterprise credit cell (SECC) for expeditious and hassle free processing of loans to small enterprises.

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