P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



NRI couple, dentist lock horns over treatment fee
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
A British NRI couple has accused a local dental surgeon of harassment, even as the doctor has levelled counter allegations that it was he who was threatened and fleeced by the NRI couple, which hails from Mithapur village, near here.

The couple, Mr Jaswinder Singh Pawar and Ms Harinder Kaur Pawar, who is working as an executive officer with UK’s Customs and Excise and is posted at Heathrow Airport in London, is currently on a visit to the village.

The couple has alleged that Dr Vijay Kumar, a dental surgeon of the local Kumar Hospital, had not only charged exorbitant fee from them in the name of treatment, but also barged into their ancestral house along with his wife and five other persons on Friday, when Harinder and her sister-in-law Rajinder Kaur were alone.

They also tried to snatch the couple’s passports and her mobile phone in order to prevent her from making a call to the police, Harinder in a complaint to the SSP, Jalandhar, alleged the couple has also reportedly contacted the IG (Economic Offences) in this regard.

Dr Vijay Kumar, however, alleged that it was he who was at the receiving end as the couple, instead of paying Rs 48,000 as treatment charges, started threatening him in the name of some police officers and even pressurised the local police to harass him. “As a practice adopted at our clinic I had apprised them about the charges and time period required for treatment beforehand and there is no question of misbehaving with them. Rather, after undergoing treatment at my clinic for six days the couple almost stopped coming and started making efforts to avoid payment despite the fact that I had politely told them that if they failed to attend treatment sessions the costly porcelain teeths would go waste and I would suffer huge financial losses. I not only sent a message on their mobilephone, but had also filed a complaint with the Division No. 6 Police after sensing that the couple had started eluding me. Whenever I requested the woman to make the payment she not only threatened me but also used filthy language,” Dr Vijay Kumar added.

According to the couple, after a dental check up Dr Vijay Kumar had suggested that the couple’s treatment charges would be Rs 20,000. The couple told him that since they were on a short visit to India, they could not afford long-duration treatment, upon which the doctor assured them that he would finish the job on a priority basis. But they were aghast when besides already paying Rs 22,000 as treatment charges the fillings from 12 of her husband’s teeth were removed without any valid explanation and the doctor advised them that they would have to shell out Rs 48,000 more for refilling. As the couple started protesting over the piling-up charges and delays, the doctor, according to Ms Harinder Kaur Pawar, not only turned indifferent, but also started dilly-dallying. The couple then decided to discontinue treatment.

She further alleged that on March 18 the doctor barged into her house alongwith his wife Renu and five other persons and after blocking all entry points to the house enquired about her husband. “When I asked what they were up to, they said they wanted to search the house and started toppling household articles. When I and my sister-in-law objected to this and tried to make a call to the police, Dr Vijay Kumar snatched my cellphone. When I tried to make a call from a land-line telephone, Renu snatched it and started asking for money and passports. They were also heard taking to some DSP and advising him to get airports alerted so as to prevent my husband from going abroad. Meanwhile, our tenant Balwant Singh Pappi and other villagers came to our rescue, following which the doctor and his men fled the scene,” she added.


NRIs for active SGPC role on turban issue

Tarn Taran, March 20
Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Banwait, chairman, Punjab Community Centre, Montreal (Canada), and other NRI Sikh leaders have asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to play an active role in solving the turban issue.

Mr Banwait and the leaders raised this issue today. They were here on way to the international peace march, which started from Nankana Sahib on March 16 and would conclude at Anandpur Sahib on March 23. Besides a large number of local devotees the march comprises 29 devotees from Canada, USA, UK, New York and other countries.

Mr Banwait complained that no office-bearer of the SGPC came to welcome the march at Wagah border nor they were given suitable accommodation at the SGPC sarai last night when they stayed there.

The march was given a warm reception here and at Khadoor Sahib. At Khadoor Sahib Baba Sewa Singh gave siropas (robe of honour). The march would stay at Goindwal Sahib at night and leave for Jalandhar the next morning. — OC


Temple politics turns ugly
Police deployed at Durgiana shrine
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 20
Trouble arose on Sri Durgiana Mandir premises as the police did not allow hundreds of BJP-led Sangharsh Committee members, led by Mr Ramesh Sharma, to visit the temple in the afternoon today. Members of the committee raised slogans against the Congress government on being stopped by the police.

The police, in riot gear and flanked by mounted police, did not allow members to enter the narrow lane that was heavily barricaded at the entry. Tempers flared and it turned ugly as the members refused to budge. However, things were brought under control by the SP City (I), Mr P.K. Rai, who prevailed upon the members that ugly scenes would tarnish the shrine.

The temple site was cordoned and the police was deputed in strength.

Earlier, simultaneous general meetings of two rival temple committees took place on the temple premises. There was apprehension of a clash.

The Congress-led Durgiana Temple Management Committee meeting was presided over by Mr Surinder Arjun, officiating president, and was held at the main office of the temple.

The BJP-led Sangharsh Committee meeting was chaired by Mr Ramesh Sharma in the hall of the Parshuram temple on the Durgiana Temple premises.

Both claimed to be the “legal” management committee of the temple.

Hundreds gathered at the Sangharsh Committee meeting where provocative speeches against the Congress-led management were made.

In a resolution of the Sangharsh Committee, Mr Arjun and Mr Bhalla were expelled from the temple management. It announced the formation of a three-member inquiry committee to probe the alleged embezzlement in funds and to present a report in three months.

Naming Mr Ramesh Sharma as the convener, the meeting gave him support to form a 10-member team within three days. The meeting also made public the show-cause notice served on the president of the management, Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia.

However, the Durgiana management said the sangharash panel had no locus standi to ask questions about expenditure or the money collected as offering.


RSS report causes turmoil among Akalis
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 20
The release of the RSS report on the Sikh situation during the NDA regime has created a whirlwind in Akali politics and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal and former Punjab Chief Minister has to face the heat generated by it. 

The issue of release of Sikhs detained in Jodhpur and other places during militancy had been in focus since the formation of the Barnala Government in Punjab in 1985 after the assassination of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. Mr Surjit Singh Barnala even constituted a committee headed by Justice Ajit Singh Bains a retired judge of the Punjab and High Court for screening purposes. Consequently, nearly 3,000 detainees were released by the Barnala Government as a result of recommendations of the Justice Bains Committee. Still a large number of Sikhs were detained in the high security jail at Naba and also at Jodhpur under TADA. The Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in its election manifesto in the 1997 Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections had promised release of the TADA detainees. However, during the five-year SAD-BJP rule nothing was done in this direction. The RSS when confronted with the situation created by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat camps in Punjab tried to have a feel of the Sikh psyche and aspirations in 1998 and 1999. The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat had also participated in a big way in the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa in 1999. The participation of the Rashtria Sikh Sangat in the tercentenary celebrations and the holding of camps by the same had met with strong opposition from Sikh hardliners. In view of this situation, the RSS leadership decided to open a dialogue with the hardliners and meetings were held with leaders of the groups opposed to Mr Parkash Singh Badal who was the Chief Minister and was heading a coalition government in the state.

This reporter had reported the events and secret meetings held between the RSS leaders and the Sikh hardliners at that time. The release of the RSS document by the RSS chief, Mr Sudarshan, who himself had headed the meetings has exposed the former Chief Minister and the Akali Dal supremo. There has been a strong reaction to the release of the report of the RSS and the leadership of Mr Badal is under attack.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal has preferred to maintain silence on this subject and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister and secretary-general of the Shirmoni Akali Dal, has come to the rescue of his party chief. Mr Dhindsa has described the report as politically motivated and baseless.

Mr Dhindsa has claimed that a number of TADA detainees were released on the recommendations of the SAD-BJP government in Punjab and the names of many Sikhs blacklisted were also deleted. Mr Dhindsa has further claimed that Mr Badal had deputed him to meet the then Prime Minister and Home Minister to take up the Sikh issues with them. However, the leaders of the Sikh groups who held meetings with the RSS chief Sudarshan and others have confirmed the meetings in 1998 and 1999 and issues taken up during the meetings.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president of the Gurmat Sidhant Prachar Sant Samaj, told The Tribune that he had participated in the meeting with RSS leaders held at Damdami Taksal headquarters at Chowk Mehta and discussed the release of the Sikh youth detained under TADA, rehabilitation of Army deserters and a separate identity of the Sikhs. Baba Bedi claimed that the RSS chief Sudarshan had agreed that the Sikhs had a separate identity.

Baba Bedi further alleged that before meeting RSS leaders, a deputation of the Sant Samaj had met Mr Badal in his capacity as Chief Minister and urged him to order the release of the TADA detainees. But Mr Badal had expressed his opposition to the same.

Baba Bedi claimed that they had apprised the Sikh sangat about the meeting with the RSS leaders and no secret parlays were held with them.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takhat, has also claimed that he had met the RSS leaders once and sought the release of the detained Sikhs and the deletion of names from the list of the intelligence agencies of those who had been blacklisted. Bhai Ranjit Singh called upon Mr Badal to explain his position as his silence was creating doubts among the Sikhs. Mr Mohan Singh, spokesman of the Damdami Taksal, has also confirmed that a meeting was held at Damdami Taksal headquarters with the RSS leaders and there was nothing secret about it. However, Mr Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar) felt that the Sikh leaders had kept the ‘quam’ in darkness by holding a secret dialogue with the RSS leaders.

The Akali Dal (Amritsar) had staged a demonstration in Chandigarh at the time of arrival of the RSS chief Sudarshan in 1999 for the Rastriya Sikh Sangat’s interference in the affairs of Sikhs. The hardline Sikh leaders have got an opportunity to attack the leadership of Mr Badal and they are up in arms against him at the moment.


Punjab Government sanctions 4.4 cr grant for soldiers’ kin
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 4.4 crore for grant of monetary benefits to parents of soldiers belonging to the state who were killed during counter-insurgency operations.

This money will be distributed among parents of 220 martyrs. A few years ago, Punjab had devised a new policy where benefits given to the next of kin of soldiers killed in action were divided between  the deceased's wife and parents.

Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig J S Jaswal (retd), said the greater portion of the money had already been received by the department and the payments of Rs 2 lakh each were expected to be disbursed within this month. He added that these payments were meant only for parents in cases where the total benefits were 
to be shared among the deceased soldier's wife and parents.

Post-Kargil, Punjab has lost 449 soldiers due to cross-border exchange of fire or in the continuous proxy war and counter- terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east. Due to paucity of funds, a number of cases for release of ex gratia benefits had  ben pending before the state government for  some time.

Recently, the state government also introduced a policy to distribute the award money given to next of kin of posthumous gallantry awardees among the deceased's parents, wife and children.

Meanwhile, grant of certain benefits to next of kin of soldiers from Punjab killed during Operation Parakram while serving in areas other than Jammu and Kashmir is hanging fire. This is because the nine-month long Operation Parakram, conducted during 2001-2, is still to be notified by the state government for the purpose of grant of benefits.

The matter has been taken up with the state government.

There are a few cases where soldiers belonging to Punjab were killed during Operation Parakram while deployed in areas which are not notified for grant of benefits.

Though ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh has been aid by the state government to next of kin of  these soldiers, they are not entitled to other major benefits like cash in lieu of land and job to one  member of the deceased's family.

On the other hand, next of kin of soldiers from Punjab who were killed during Operation Parakram while deployed in Jammu and Kashmir or the north-east are getting all applicable benefits.


Death sentence for rape, murder of minor
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 20
Mr M.S. Chohan, Additional Sessions Judge, Mansa, has sentenced Amrit Singh, a resident of this district, to death after holding him guilty of raping a minor and then murdering her on November 3, 2003.

Mr Chohan, who delivered the judgement late last evening, said the prosecution had succeeded in establishing the guilt of Amrit Singh, while the defence failed to rebut the evidences produced by the prosecution side.

Amrit Singh, a resident of Ramgarh Shahpurian village of this district, was sent to the Bathinda Central Jail late night yesterday after he was sentenced to death.

Later, he was shifted to the Central Jail, Ferozepore. At Ferozepore, the convict would be kept in a special cell and would not be allowed to mix with other prisoners.

The facts of the case revealed that Honey (name changed), a five-year-old girl, was raped and subsequently strangulated to death by the accused on November 3, 2003. Her body was found in the fields of the accused.

The accused lived in the neighbourhood of the victim.

The death warrants of Amrit Singh, issued by Mr Chohan, had been sent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for further action.

Meanwhile, Ms Angrej Kaur, grandmother of the victim, expressed satisfaction over the decision of the court.


Parents’ wait ends in happiness
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Nadala (Kapurthala), March 20
A long wait of parents to see their 20-year-old son came to an end when he was released by the Pakistan government from Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. It was a festive atmosphere in the house of Mr Satpal Lahoria and Ms Ramesh Rani, parents of Narinder Pal, at Nadala village of Bhulath sub-division as they sat by his side narrating how some fake travel agents duped them, along with 31 other youngsters from the region.

Relatives and villagers gathered in their house in a large numbers to greet them. Sweets were distributed among all as the parents expressed their jubilation on their son’s return.

With tears in her eyes, Mr Ramesh Rani told everyone, “I thank God that my son has returned but I also feel sorry for other parents who had also come to Wagah to receive their children but returned in dismay. I can feel their pain as I have experienced the agony for such a long time.”

Narrating the harrowing experience, Narinder Pal told everyone, “My parents had sold a piece of land to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to an agent for sending me to Greece in January, 2003. The agent provided me and 31 other boys visa for Lebanon and assured us that he would go with us to Lebanon and make provision for us to go to Greece from there”.

“Had we ever known that the agent would provide them fake visas for further journey, we would have never left for the greener pastures. I have come back but my 18 friends are still in the jail and have been told that it would take another week before they are let off,” he added.

Narinder Pal said his worst experience had been in Iran where he had been put behind bars for 20 days. “There we were robbed of $ 400 that I was carrying. All my belongings, including my socks and shoe laces, were snatched by jailers.”

He further recalled, “I underwent a trial in Baluchistan in October, 2003, and was sentenced for six months imprisonment. I was shifted to Pakistan. I was freed after one-and-a-half years and that too with the intervention of our parents who impressed upon the state and Central governments for our repatriation.”

Mr Satpal said, “We will not send our sons abroad. They will stay with us and join hands in raising family income from here. Narinder Pal added in tandem, “I have made my mind that I will not go anywhere now. I am going to stay back with my parents and plough our fields till I get a good job.”

Meanwhile, the wait is still on for six youths from Kapurthala who have not been freed. Sohan Singh and Jaspal from Bhulath subdivisions are two of them who were expected to be back yesterday but were not released by Pakistan.

Ravinder Sood adds from Hoshiarpur: All members of family are grateful to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, for getting their son Surjit Singh released from Pakistan after 4 years.

These views were expressed by mother Shakuntla and father Rulda Ram who received their son at the Wagah border and took him back to their Lachowal village, about 8 km from here, last night while talking to mediapersons.

Surjit Singh said he had left for Lebanon in 2001 through a travel agent Palwinder Singh by paying him Rs 1.60 lakh. But instead of sending him Lebanon the travel agent forced him to land at Syria from where he was packed to Lebanon.

He stayed there for about two-and-a-half year. In 2003, some travel agents took him to Greece where he, along with 15 other youths, was arrested and deported to Turkey. From Turkey they were sent to Iran and at Taftan border, they were handed over to Pakistan.


Endless wait for missing daughter
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
With a picture in their hands, Nirmal Singh (45) and his wife, Baljinder Kaur, have been running from pillar to post in search of their married daughter for the past over two months. But what has made them sad is that all their efforts have failed to yield any result so far.

Rupinder Kaur, 20-year-old daughter of Nirmal Singh and Baljinder Kaur, residents of Bank Colony on Nurawala Road in Ludhiana, was married to a teacher, Dharminder Singh, a resident of Chawinda Devi in Amritsar district, on October 10, 2004, but little did the parents realise that soon they would be searching for their newly wed daughter.

The girl, according to Nirmal Singh and Baljinder Kaur, was having a blissful life with her husband who used to dream of adjusting her in his school after completion of her B.Ed degree.

But during a week-long visit to her parents’ house at Ludhiana, the girl suddenly went missing on January 11 this year. “We searched for her here and there but all in vain. We were more worried over the development as there was no reason for her to leave the house all of a sudden. We got another shock when we received a phone call of my daughter who informed us that she was in the company of Rakesh Kumar and they were staying in Jalandhar. What was more shocking was that Rakesh used to address Rupinder Kaur as his sister and she used to tie ‘rakhi’ to him every year,” said a tearful Baljinder Kaur.

“The boy also threatened us that we should not follow them and that they would return home on their own. We were stunned over the development. Now we don’t know where to go. We had lodged a complaint with the Salem Tabri police in Ludhiana, but they also did little to trace Rupinder,” said Nirmal Singh, who has come here to lodge a complaint with the office of the SSP as the last phone call received by the couple was said to have been made from Jalandhar.

“Despite being poor we have spent thousands of rupees in her search and we went to Delhi and wherever we were told to go,” said Baljinder.


CM accused of double standards
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
The Dal Khalsa and Khalsa Panchayat today accused Capt Amarinder Singh of adopting double standards over Punjabis languishing in jails in Pakistan and India. While Capt Amarinder Singh’s initiative in taking up the cause of Punjabis lodged in various jails of Pakistan was a welcome step, he failed to take any steps to get prisoners released from Indian jails.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib and Mr Kanwarpal Singh (both Dal Khalsa leaders) and Mr Rajinder Singh, Chief Khalsa Panchayat, said the Chief Minister should take prompt action in releasing Sikh detainees languishing in Indian jails without trial.

Meanwhile, radical Sikhs have strongly criticised the central government for condemning the judgement in the Kanishka case. They said it was most unfortunate that the government which had failed to deliver the goods in the long pending Delhi riots cases, was commenting on the judgement in another country which had given justice to two innocent Sikhs. They criticized a section of the media for publishing ‘biased reports’ following the Kanishka judgement.

They accused Mr Badal of not advocating the case of Sikh detainees. They alleged that the report of the RSS regarding detention of Sikhs, had exposed Mr Badal.


Bureaucrats spoiling image of government, says Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 20
In a significant statement that could have far-reaching effect on the political-bureaucratic relations in the state, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said a section of bureaucrats had been spoiling the image of the Congress government.

Ms Bhattal, who presided over a sports mela organised at Dhapali village here, said a section of bureaucrats had been misusing their powers and hence bringing bad name to it.

Though these bureaucrats had been given warnings time and again to amend their style of functioning, they had been behaving in same fashion, she added. The government would have to check this trend, she said.

In another significant statement, she said the state government had been facing a number of petitions in courts in connection with the auction of liquor vends held last year due to the arrogance shown by bureaucrats. She said all bureaucrats concerned had been asked to hold the auction of liquor vends this year as per norms so that state government could be saved from any sort of embarrassment. She added that the auction of liquor vends would be held in a free and fair manner and it would be open to all. The state government would not allow anyone to play any mischief, she said.

To a question, she said the motive behind the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was to reform its functioning and to improve the service. She said the reformative policies of the state government had been enabling it to enhance its finances.

When asked what the government was doing to strengthen the grassroot democratic set-up, she said six more departments would be handed over to panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads from the next financial year. She said the aim was to make panchayats an effective body to handle the affairs of their respective villages in proper manner.

When asked about her relations with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, she said being the largest party in the country, difference of opinion among leaders was a natural thing. She said though she was having difference with Capt Amarinder Singh over certain issues, all had been resolved now and both had been working for the development of the state.

When asked whether Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Chairman, Markfed, Punjab, who had been making his presence felt in the Rampura Assembly segment would be given the ticket to contest the next Vidhan Sabha elections, she said though the Assembly elections were far away at the moment, the party would love to nominate Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu for the same as Mr Sidhu had been representing that Assembly segment in the past.

Earlier, she honoured the family members of those who participated in the “Simon Commission go back” movement. She also announced Rs 5 lakh as special grant for the overall development of village. Besides it, Rs 1 lakh had been given to the sports club of the village.

Mr Jagtar Singh, a senior leader of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), led by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, also announced his joining the Congress on the occasion.


NRI’s reel tribute to Amritsar’s communal amity
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
Mr Sukhdev Singh Kalsi, a Canadian citizen and a mechanical designer by profession, is currently in the city to shoot a documentary film on Sri Harmandar Sahib which would also highlight the city’s exemplary communal harmony even during the peak days of militancy.

His passion for photography and documentary making is complemented by his niece, Ms Harpreet Kalsi, an Administrative Assistant with the Metropolitan Police, UK, who too is fascinated by the art of photography. This is perhaps one of the main reasons that compels them to visit Punjab again and again.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Kalsi said his documentary would highlight the communal harmony prevailing in Amritsar during the dark days of militancy and which was maintained even after the Operation Blue Star.

Mr Kalsi was born in Punjab and had moved to England in sixties and subsequently to Canada in search of greener pastures. His niece was born in England yet both of them yearn to visit their roots in Punjab.

Mr Kalsi has already produced world-acclaimed documentaries on Sikhism and social life of Punjabis in India and abroad and Harpreet too wants to follow the footsteps of her uncle.

Mr Kalsi said his documentaries were being shown in various educational and social institutes of North America and other parts of the world. Significantly, he writes in the Gurmukhi script.

His documentaries help in bridging the gap between the Punjabi diasphora and members of the multi-cultural society abroad, he said.

He stressed that his earlier documentaries had highlighted the customs and rituals of the Punjabis, including weddings, which helped non-Punjabis to understand our culture.

He was instrumental in the telecast of the first Punjabi programme in Canada — ' Vision of Punjab' — in 1981 through cable network.

The producer and host of the programme had been Mr Iqbal Singh Mahal and the weekly programme had become quite popular in North America. He said the Punjabi children, who were born in Canada, loved to see his documentaries produced simultaneously in the Punjabi and English languages.

On Amritsar, Mr Kalsi said the ‘Holy City’ had acquired worldwide fame in less than 500 years as compared to Banaras which took more than thousand years.

Earlier, Mr Kalsi had produced 'A Village of Punjab' — a comparative study of the pre-partition and modern village of the state.

His another popular documentary, released on the birth centenary of the Khalsa Panth was — The Khalsa- Saint Soldiers (from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh ) .

Ms Harpreet Kalsi said she was shocked to see chaotic traffic in India and added that the state government should try to follow the British pattern in regulating the traffic in India.


Gen Harbaksh’s kin seeks justice after assault by in-laws
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
A local woman, who is the grandniece of the late General Harbaksh Singh, today claimed that the Sadar Police had let her in-laws, against whom she had registered a case of attempt to murder and kidnapping, get away even after they were picked up from their house. The woman claimed that the family of a prominent Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader was helping the accused.

However, Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai, when questioned on the issue, said the police had registered the harshest possible case against the accused who had been booked not only for attempt to murder but also kidnapping, criminal intimidation and Sections of the Dowry Act.

He said raids were being conducted to arrest the accused and that the vehicle used by the accused to kidnap the woman had also been seized.

Talking to TNS alongwith her family members after being discharged from the Government Rajindra Hospital, Amandeep Kaur, who is currently doing her PhD in Human Genetics, said she reached the hospital after she was kidnapped and attacked by her husband and his family. “I was going to the Urban Estate to get my thesis typed when my husband, Ravtej Singh Dhillon, approached me in a Contessa car with dark glasses”. She said so during the morning she had been physically and mentally harassed by her husband so she refused to get into the vehicle.

“Following this my husband and his uncle forced me into the car and took me to our house in Rose Avenue Colony. Out there my husband and his uncle forced me into the car and took me to our house in Rose Avenue Colony. Out there my husband and his two uncles, Paramjit Singh and Harinder Singh, tied me up and then started beating me”. She said after beating her senseless and even trying to suffocate her with a pillow, her husband even slashed her legs and her arms with a sharp edged weapon. “While all this was going on my father-in-law Pushpinder Singh stood near the door and witnessed the entire episode”, she added.

After the incident on March 16, Amandeep was admitted to the Government Rajindra hospital and was discharged last night. She said she was shocked to know that the Sadar Police had picked up her husband and few other accused but let them off under political influence. Demanding justice in the case, she said she was so depressed she would be forced to commit suicide if she was denied justice.

Amandeep’s brother Paramvir Singh, while talking to TNS, said Amandeep had told the family about the torture being inflicted upon her since her marriage in February, 2003, only recently. He said his sister’s husband had claimed that he was a post graduate but later it was revealed that he was only a matriculate. Paramvir said even though Rs 15 lakh was spent on the marriage and a car was given in dowry to Ravtej, the boy picked up a fight saying he did not look good sitting in such a small car.

SSP A.S. Rai, when contacted, admitted that the accused’s family was related to a prominent SAD politician but said this issue would not be allowed to interfere in the investigations. He said the police was doing everything in its power to provide justice to the aggrieved girl and that raids were being conducted continuously to arrest the accused.


Punjabi girls being ‘forced’ into flesh trade abroad
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
Besides a large number of Punjabi youths, the fate of around 250 girls from Punjab, who were being “forced” to indulge in flesh trade, hangs in balance in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where they have been pushed into the trade by unscrupulous travel agents.

Of the 250 such girls, 10 hail from Moga district of the state. Making this revelation here yesterday, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, said it was not just thousands of Punjabi youths who faced hardships in foreign lands. A large number of Punjabi girls too had fallen victims to such travel agents.

“Unscrupulous travel agents have been operating at such a large scale that they have ruined around 50,000 families. Over 250 Punjabi girls were forced to indulge in flesh trade in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where they were sent by travel agents with the promise of greener pastures,” said Mr Ramoowalia. He said he had written a letter to the Chief Minister about the plight of Punjabi youth, who had illegally migrated to foreign countries.

Mr Ramoowalia, who was accompanied by his party’s general secretary Ramandeep Singh Bharowal and other leaders, said travel agents who had fleeced people of the state should be booked in separate cases.

He said the release of a number of Punjabi youths from Pakistan jails had been facilitated by senior leftist leaders Harkishan Singh Surjeet and A.B. Bardhan.

He also alleged that the Indian Embassy in Spain was not providing requisite documents to around 9,000 Punjabi youths trapped there. “Indian Embassy officials have been humiliating these youths. The Punjab Government should take the issue on a priority basis,” said Mr Ramoowalia.


Mother strives in vain for justice
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, March 20
Belo Devi’s struggle for justice seems unending. She has been running from pillar to post for the past seven years, to bring the politically-connected influential alleged assailants of her nine-year-old son to book.

Belo Devi alleges that the Punjab police is shielding the accused, who inflicted grave injuries on her son for climbing a tree outside his house. The injuries have incapacitated him.

Belo Devi, a resident of Sundar Nagar in Pathankot, filed a complaint on November 27, 2001, to the Punjab Human Rights Commission. She alleged that on August 31, 1999, Pashi Ram and his friends, Dr Janak Raj, Dev Raj, Ajit Singh, Bittu and Kewal Gupta, all residents of the Sunder Nagar locality, assaulted her son, Subal Prashad, who was then nine. She alleged that her son had climbed a tree outside her house and Pashi Ram asked Subal to climb down. But her son refused. Then, Pashi Ram sent his son Lali with a stick. Lali thrust the pointed stick into the anus of her son and inflicted grave injury on him. Subal fell down from the tree and became unconscious as he bled profusely.

She said they immediately took her son to a doctor, who referred Subal to the Civil Hospital.

They spent more than Rs 80,000 on his treatment. Belo Devi alleged that they reported the incident to police station division No. 2, Pathankot, but the police only registered a case under Section 323 of the IPC instead of registering an attempt to murder case. She also alleged that the police forcefully obtained the thumb impression of her husband and tried to force a compromise.

It was only after about four years that she succeeded in registering a case of attempt to murder against the accused.


Pak continues to recognise Lahore was founded by Lord Rama’s son
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
What should warm the cockles of millions of Indian hearts, especially of the Hindus, is the fact that Pakistan continues to recognise officially that Lahore, which is now called the heart of Pakistan, was founded by Lav, son of Lord Rama.

Besides it, the Pakistani establishment has not tampered with the pre-Partition names of several localities and institutions in Lahore. Pre-Partition names such as Delhi Darwaja, Krishan Nagar, Ram Nagar, Harbanspura, Dharmpura, Dayal Singh College, Dayal Singh Library, Sir Ganga Ram Ward of a hospital in Lahore are very much a part of the daily communication of Lahories.

There are several events and happenings related to the shared history and heritage of pre-Partition India which have been carefully preserved by various institutions of the Pakistan Government, especially its Archaeology and Museums Department.

But the most interesting and important among these is the recognition granted by the Pakistan Government that the name of Lahore is directly linked to Lord Rama’s clan.

The official document published by the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (Pakistan) while giving brief introduction regarding the city states that Lahore, as the myth goes, was founded by Lav, son of Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’.

And another official document prepared by the district government of Chakwal (Pakistan) tells an interesting story about nearby Katas Raj, where a Shiv temple and other historical monuments are located. Katas was earlier the name of a sacred spring which is believed to have been created by a stream of tears that flowed from Lord Shiva’s eyes following the death of his wife.

In fact, two streams of tears flowed. The other holy lake was created at Pushkar in Rajasthan.

There was an important university housed at Katas in which the education of Sanskrit was imparted. There are seven temples in the east of the sacred spring.

These temples, it is believed, were constructed by the Pandavas. Efforts are being made to restore and renovate these temples. There are also cave-type structures near the temples which, it is believed, were used for meditation purposes.

At a short distance from the temple, there is also the haveli of Hari Singh Nalwa, who used to be a General in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.


35 hurt as PRTC bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
Nearly 35 persons were injured, nine of them seriously, when a bus of the PRTC, Sangrur Depot, overturned between Kakuwala and Dugal villages, near Patran, on the Dirba-Patran road this afternoon.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Mr Jagtar Singh, Duty Inspector of the PRTC, Sangrur Depot, said the mishap took place when the driver of the bus tried to save a cyclist near a dhaba near Dugal village.

The driver applied brake, due to which the bus went out of control and overturned. Despite this, the driver could not save the cyclist as his both legs were reportedly crushed, besides, he received a head injury.

Mr Jagtar Singh said three seriously injured passengers had been shifted to a Patiala hospital, while six injured persons were under treatment at Dirba hospital.

He said the conductor of the bus was also injured. The driver of the bus fled.


World Forest Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 20
“It is the moral duty of society to prevent unnecessary interference with the working of Nature, if we continued to disturb it, it would disturb us. If we want our coming generations to live in clean environment, we have to stop felling of trees and to plant as many trees as we can,” said Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary while addressing a gathering at World Forest Day celebration function being organised by the district environment protection society near Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib here today.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function, whereas Mr P.L. Kaler, Chief Forest Conservator (Retd) was the guest of honour.

On this occasion, saplings were planted on roadside from Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup to Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. More than 2,000 saplings were distributed as green parshad to the people by the District Forest Department.

Dr Harbans Lal said every person consumes the wood of more than 20 trees during one’s lifetime, so it is duty of everyone to plant and look after at least 20 trees to pay the debt of Nature.

Mr Ahluwalia said to make Fatehgarh Sahib a green district, a tree plantation drive under the “Plant Trees, Save Fatehgarh Sahib” scheme would be launched in the district on a war footing.

All the educational, religious, social organisations would be involved in this drive.

He urged everyone to join this campaign and to take the pledge that each one would plant at least one tree in their respective areas and would look after it.

He said the forest department would provide plants on subsidised rates of 50 paisa under the farm forestry scheme.


Fire in train; mishap averted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 20
It was a close shave for passengers of Jammu Tawi-bound 4609 Up Hemkunt-Jammu Tawi Express, when the last coach caught fire, which was noticed by a Railway police constable Surinder Singh at Phillaur railway station, as soon as the train left the railway station at 11.44 pm on Friday. The constable rushed to Railway police post in charge ASI Subhash Kumar who immediately, informed the train driver and guard through railway officials by wireless and the train was stopped between Phillaur and Bhattian railway station.

The railway police in charge along with railway officials and other employees rushed to the spot and controlled the fire and averted a major mishap. Railway sources while confirming the incident told this correspondent that brakes of the coach were jammed due to a cloth caught in the brakes and the cloth caught fire. The train was detained for about half an hour.


9 pilgrims injured in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 20
Nine pilgrims, including three members of a family, were injured near Guru Nanak Nagar on the Phagwara bypass in an accident involving two tractor-trailers they were riding here this afternoon.

The pilgrims were going from Mallian village in Tarn Taran to Anandpur Sahib in connection with the Holla Mohalla festival. Both the trailers overturned.

Baba Bhira Singh, performing kar seva at the nearby Sukhchainana Sahib Gurdwara, and his followers transported them to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara.


Farmers urged to take up cultivation of hyola
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
India imports almost a third of its entire oil requirement, costing the national exchequer Rs 12,000 crore annually. The country accounts for 9.3 per cent of the world oil seed production, yet about 43 per cent of the edible oil in India is imported.

But if efforts of organisations like the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation towards promoting the cultivation of hyola, the hybrid high-yielding rapeseed oilseed, are a step in the right direction, the outstanding yield the crop promises will help the country achieve self sufficiency in edible oil.

Sources in the oil industry maintain that the increased cultivation of hyola can increase the production of mustard by approximately 50 per cent. India’s annual output of 6.5 million tonnes can be raised to 8 million tonnes and per acre yield can also be raised from 5 quintals to 10 quintals. And that’s not all, for hybrid rapeseed mustard has higher oil content than other oil seeds. In fact, the oil has “00” characteristic as it has low euresic acid (less than 2 per cent) and less glucosinolate (less than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates per gram of seed) content. (Glucosinolate is the chemical causing pungency in mustard). These seeds are also richer in protein content by 5 to 6 per cent, experts add.

The healthy oil for everyone is widely used as a cooking oil, salad oil and in making margarine. The high-value oil is an ideal choice for health conscious consumers because it has the lowest saturated fat content of all major edible vegetable oils, they maintain.

Taking into account all these benefits, the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation is now focussing on the cultivation of this hybrid oilseed, and the area under the contract farming programme for the crop in the state has increased from 9,000 hectares in 2003 to 50,000 hectares in 2005.

According to Mr Kirpa Shankar Saroj, MD of the corporation, farmers in the state are being motivated to take to the cultivation of hyola (hybrid gobhi sarson) for it has better minimum yield of 8-10 quintals per acre, higher oil content about 40-43 per cent and better health characteristics than ordinary mustard which yields 600 kg per acre and oil content is up to 40 per cent. Even in terms of crop economics, a farmer gets Rs 1,260 per acre more in case of the hyola crop since the MSP for hyola is Rs 1,700 per quintal as against Rs 640 per quintal for wheat. Since the corporation is also the nodal agency for Nafed for the procurement of hyola, farmers who are taking to this cultivation are also assured of a buy back guarantee for their produce. In fact, arrangements for the procurement of hyola have been made in 100 centres across the state to provide marketing support to the farmers, said Mr Saroj, adding that they would buy the produce at the MSP even if the open market price fell below the MSP.

The process of crop mechanisation is also being undertaken to save time and labour cost and further increase yields. The corporation has developed direct seeders for direct seeding of the crop and hand pulled nursery seeder for nursery sowing.

The president of Solvent Extractors Association of Punjab, Mr A.R. Sharma, said bringing more acreage under the cultivation of hyola will enable the solvent industry in the state to increase their capacity utilisation during the idle period (April to September). There are 80 oil extracting units in the state with an installed capacity of 12,000 tonnes per day.

He said the cultivation of hyola mustard seed was bound to pick up due to the growing demand for euresic acid-free mustard oil, besides supportive international price scenario. The D-oiled cake left after extraction is also good for animal feed, he added. 


Five arrested in child marriage case
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 20
The police has arrested five persons in connection with a case in which a 12-year-old girl was forcibly married off to an aged person. Pritam Kaur, daughter of Mewa Singh of Makhu village, was forcibly married off to 45-year-old Gurmukh Singh in Gurdwara Bhagoke.

According to the SHO of the Mallanwala police station, Mr Palwinder Singh, maternal grandmother of the girl Iqbal Kaur and her aunt Jasbir Kaur persuaded Mewa Singh to marry his daughter to Gurmukh Singh without revealing much about groom’s age and antecedents.

Mewa Singh fell into their trap and agreed for the same. Prakash Kaur, who played the role of the mediator, was till absconding.

Pritam Kaur said while being taken to the gurdwara, she was not told that she was going to be married. Her grandmother took her there on the pretext of bringing some medicines, she said.

During the wedding ceremony, the groom’s side was represented by his brother, Jaswant Singh. The mother of the girl had expired some time ago.

As per the statement of Gurmukh Singh, the sarpanch of the village, Baaj Singh, was also present during the ceremony in the gurdwara.

Sewa Singh, younger brother of the girl’s father, got furious when he came to know about the incident. He approached the SSP, Mr Sudhanshu Srivastava, who ordered an inquiry into the incident.

The police got into action and recovered the girl from the residence of Gurmukh Singh 5 days after the marriage.

Gurmukh Singh and his brother were arrested. Iqbal Kaur, Jasbir Kaur and Mewa Singh, relatives of the girl, have been arrested. However, mediator Pritam Kaur is still at large.

Gurmukh Singh, told the police that he was not aware about the age of the girl. He also said he did not pay any money to the girl’s relatives for the marriage.


Heroin worth 7 cr seized; 3 arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Close on the heels of the seizure of 9 kg of narcotics by the Amritsar police, the Customs Department here and the Majitha police in a joint operation seized 7 kg of heroin and arrested three persons in this regard.

The contraband was smuggled from Pakistan, which was to be delivered to the smugglers located in various parts of Amritsar.

Mr D P Singh, Customs Commissioner, and Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG Border Range, in a joint press conference here today revealed that after getting a tip off from the Intelligence that the narcotics were being smuggled to India through Pakistan and were being brought to Amritsar from Ferozepore side, special teams under the overall supervision of Mr Dheeraj Rastogi, Joint Commissioner, and Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP Majitha were constituted.

Mr D P Singh said customs officials and police laid special nakas on all Amritsar-Ferozepore routes. They said a Maruti car was intercepted near Harike Pattan bridge from which the seizure of narcotics was made. The teams also recovered one Pakistan made pistol along with six live cartridges and 7 kg heroin worth Rs 7 crore in the international market.

The arrested persons include Paramjit Singh alias Pamma, Satnam Singh, both residents of Havelian village and Gurdev Singh of Kot Dharam Chand village.

The DIG revealed that Pamma, who was the kingpin of the gang, was out on bail. He was involved in smuggling of gold and fake currency from Pakistan on several occasions in the past. They said after getting bail he switched his operations to the Fazilka-Abohar area from where he had earlier smuggled 7 kg of heroin.


Kingpin of gang nabbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 20
The police today arrested Amarjit Singh, kingpin of a three-member gang of thieves, and recovered from him six bicycles, one gold chain and 15 quintals of potatoes.

Sub-Inspector Gurwinder Singh, SHO, Sultanpur Lodhi police station, said the kingpin belonged to Lattian village. The arrest was made under Sections 379 and 411, IPC.

Two other members of the gang were at large.


Two books on Punjab history released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 20
Two books on Punjab history were released today at the valedictory session of the three-day Punjab historical conference being held at Punjabi University here.
Delivering the Dr Sita Ram Kohli Memorial Lecture in the conference on “Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Jammu Hill States” Prof Jigar Mohammed from Jammu University said that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was one of those rulers of India who acquired political power by their hard work, sincerity and well-planned strategy.

He further stated that the Maharaja founded the Lahore darbar on the ruins of the Mughal empire and the establishment of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule in the Jammu hill states not only elevated the position of the Maharaja in terms of a great conquerer of the period, but it also strengthened the security of the frontier of the Lahore Darbar. Prof Mohammad concluded that Ranjit Singh`s policy of making tributary states worked very effectively in terms of extension of his authority.

Earlier presenting his paper, Dr Shiv Kumar Gupta, former Professor of History dwelt at length upon the efforts made by Indian revolutionaries in Singapore which ultimately helped in accelerating the phase of Indian freedom struggle. Prof K.L. Tuteja in his paper said Lala Lajpat Rai felt that the adoption of Swadeshi Raj by India would lead to economic growth, removal of poverty and serve as a solution to the communal problem of the day.

Dr Nirmal Singh presented a paper on the role of Muslim organisations of Punjab. Others who presented their papers included Dr Amarjit Singh, Mr Mahinder Singh, Dr K.S. Dhillon. Dr 1.D. Gaur, Dr Raghvinder Jha from Bhagalpur, Mrs Chande Chatterjee and Dr Manju Malhotra.

In the valedictory session which was chaired by Prof Surjit Hans, general president of the Punjab History Conference two books, one by Dr Sukhdial Singh and the other by Dr Naijar Singh were released.

On this occasion a resolution was passed by the general house wherein it was unanimously resolved to hold the 38th session of Punjab History Conference as an international event in collaboration with the historians from the other Punjab in Pakistan.

Dr G.S. Nayyar while speaking on the occasion stated that the theme was not only vast but very wide. He impressed upon the historians to deliberate on the proceedings of this conference so that certain important and new facts could be found. Dr S.D. Gajrani, Dr D.S. Dhillon and Dr Y.P. Bajaj also addressed the valedictory session.


Punjab to establish Urdu academy: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today that astrology should be pursued as a scientific profession, adding the Punjab Government would do its bit to promote astrology as a science. She also announced that the state government was in the process of establishing an Urdu academy.

Mrs Bhattal was speaking at the valedictory function of the Second All-India Astrology Conference organised at the Gymkhana Club by the Times of Astrology news magazine as well as a number of social welfare organisations.

Earlier in the day the conference's opening session was inaugurated by Patiala Zonal Inspector General of Police Rajinder Singh.

The Deputy Chief Minister, who is also looking after the Research and Medical Education department, said there was no move to privatise any of the hospitals in the state. She said her ministry had also increased the discretionary powers of Principals of Medical Colleges and hospitals to ensure life saving drugs were available to them regularly.

The conference started today with a seminar on "Astrology, Astrologer and General Public" which saw Mr K.K. Upadhaya from Lucknow delivering the key note address. He highlighted the fact that the 'grah' of each 'mahadasha' should be equally divided which was not the case presently. Earlier this point was also touched by noted poet Gopal Das Neeraj who had presided over yesterday's function.

Nabha based noted astrologer Lalit Sharma emphasised the need for more research to determine the time period given to "rahu" and "ketu" in astrology.

Conference organising secretary Dr Vinay Goel said the free counselling sessions provided to the public during the last two days had evoked tremendous response with more than 4,000 people availing of this facility during the last two days.

He said more than 40 noted astrologers from all over the country had participated in the conference.

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