P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ignored by Punjab Cong, Brar to join Dandi march
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Former MP and member of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) Jagmeet Singh Brar continues to haunt Punjab Congressmen. Although the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, which has been impressing upon the party high command to suspend him from the primary membership of the party for six years, has left him out of the large group leaving tomorrow for Gujarat to join the Dandi march on April 6, Mr Brar will be there to greet it.

Accompanied by three of his staunch supporters — Mr Vijay Saathi, Mr Amarjeet Singh Brar and Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbooti — Mr Brar left for Mumbai this afternoon on his way to Gujarat.

“I have been invited by the AICC to join the march,” he said holding that “those accompanying me are senior party functionaries. Mr Amarjeet Singh Brar is a secretary of the PPCC and also the president of the Baghapurana Commission Agents Association.

Mr Saathi had contested the last Assembly elections from Moga as the Congress candidate.”

The presence of Mr Brar and his men during the march may not be comfortable for the big Punjab Pradesh Congress group which may include members of the state Council of Ministers as well as members of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).

To facilitate the participation of the legislators, there will be no sitting of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha between April 5 and 7. The House will reassemble only on April 8 to initiate the debate on the Governor’s Address.

Since the House was adjourned for the second successive day today, the current session may now be extended by a day to April 12 against the present programme of April 11.

A PPCC delegation intends to visit Pakistan on April 11 to join the Baisakhi celebrations there. The delegation may include some members of the CLP.

With the Congress high command remaining busy for the next three days in the Dandi march and subsequently Punjab Congressmen embarking on a trip to Pakistan, a decision on the future of Mr Jagmeet Brar in the party may well not be decided till the second half of this month.


Punjab relaxes conditions for major investors
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
To attract major players to the infrastructure building, industrial and entertainment sectors in the state and revive “old defunct” units, the Punjab Council of Ministers today reeled out a series of new concessions.

In amending its industrial policy of 2003, the council decided that the Empowered Committee on Mega Projects headed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would now be able to consider units of information technology and its enabled services, electronics, knowledge parks and biotechnology with an investment of Rs 25 crore or more for a special package of incentives. The only rider is that each of such investments should have a potential for generating 500 or more jobs.

Another major concession approved was that a company making a new investment in a different location in the state would also be considered for a special package provided its total investment in the state exceeded Rs 100 core. One of the conditions imposed was that the company should have the same board of directors or same proprietors, single or a group, or the firm should be the same.

Further, different units of the company should be producing or manufacturing items which are subservient to the main product declared by them and should not be exclusive.

Another decision of the council pertains to the revival of “old defunct” units. Any unit with an existing investment of Rs 100 crore and which has remained closed for three years will now be entitled to be treated as a mega unit for the grant of a special package of incentives. One of the conditions imposed is that the unit should have remained in production for a period of five years after beginning production.

Housing, urban development, infrastructure building, including roads, bridges, multiplexes and projects related to civic amenities with an investment of Rs 100 crore or more will also be eligible for a special package of incentives.

Who all benefit from these decisions remains to be seen. The number of beneficiaries may not be large.

The council also cleared the Punjab Industrial Facilitation Bill for presentation in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during its current session. Known as the Single Window Bill, it will cut red-tapism and various procedures for those desirous of making investments in the state.

Setting up of an advanced emergency and trauma centre at Government Mahendra Medical College in collaboration with the Alumni Association of the college was also approved. The centre will be a state-of-the-art facility for tertiary care of trauma victims besides functioning as a training centre for graduate and postgraduate students of medicine and surgery. It will help reduce the pressure on the PGI in Chandigarh.

Sanction was also given to amend Section 12 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act which now entitles committees with an income of less than Rs 1 crore to have three additional members raising their strength to 12 or 13, depending on the existing strength. Additional members will represent producers (farmers), commission agents and tollas (weighers).

By another amendment to the Act, the scope of civil works undertaken by the Punjab Mandi Board has been enlarged. Construction and the repair of link roads, culverts and bridges and imparting education in agricultural marketing direct or through a university or any other body through the Marketing Development Fund has been allowed.

The council also decided to revise the pay scales of technical employees of the Printing and Stationery Department from January 1, 1986, instead of February 8, 1989.


Flying squads to check sale of spurious Bt cotton seed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Alarmed by reports of the large-scale sale of spurious Bt cotton seed, the Punjab Government today set up special flying squads at the state and districts levels to break the network of those involved in such activity.

The flying squads have been told to conduct raids on various places to check the sale of spurious seed. In the past two years, agents of spurious seed-selling firms have established their network in the cotton belt of Punjab, Haryana and Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan.

They have been selling the spurious seed under various brand names. Most of the agents have been buying such seed from Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. They have been selling the seed of varieties which are not suitable for sowing in this region.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, told TNS today that farmers in the cotton belt had been repeatedly requested to buy seed against proper bills from seed shops. “ I have advised farmers not to buy seed from the roadside or mobile seed sellers”, he added.” If farmers have proper bills with them regarding the purchase of seed from dealers, the authorities will be able take legal action if the seed is found to be spurious”, said Mr Sidhu.

Farmers should not buy seed in haste. Authorised companies had enough Bt cotton seed in stock for Punjab. “I have been given an assurance by genuine companies for the supply of Bt cotton seed for sowing on 6 lakh acres”, Mr Sidhu said. He said that according to his department’s estimates, farmers would bring about 6 lakh acres under Bt cotton this year. Besides, they were expected to bring 9 lakh acres under other varieties.

Last year, the total area under the cotton crop was 12.5 lakh acres. This year, the Agriculture Department had fixed a target of enhancing the area under this crop by 2.5 lakh acres. Genuine companies had been told to maintain proper records of the farmers to whom the seed was sold by them. The companies had also been told to supply the lists of dealers to the department.

Mr Sidhu said a high-level meeting would be held tomorrow with the Irrigation Department authorities. Its objective was to ensure adequate water for the cotton belt from April 15 to May 20. Cotton sowing was expected to be delayed by a week or so because of the late maturing of the wheat crop for harvesting. As hot dry winds had not started blowing yet, the wheat crop had not ripened fully at most places.

A case had also been moved for the setting up of a high-level state biotechnology committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill. Under the law regarding genetically modified seeds, such a committee was mandatory for studying various aspects relating to the introduction of gene-based crops in the state. Such committees were also to be set up at the district level.


Cotton production likely to cross 40 lakh bales
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
Even as the production of raw cotton in the north belt comprising Punjab, Haryana and Sriganganagar in Rajasthan has witnessed a significant jump over the past year, the activities connected to cotton trade have gained momentum, positively affecting the economy of its traders, merchants, ginning and pressing mills owners and farmers.

The production of raw cotton, which is likely to cross 40 lakh bales in the current season after more than a decade, has also infused a new life in the ginning and pressing industry, trading and its processing industry, including yarn manufacturing.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that more than 30 ginning and pressing mills, which had been closed down in the past few years due to scarcity of raw cotton, started functioning in the current year and have done roaring business. Apart form it, the Mumbai-based and south-based cotton traders, which had closed down their main offices in the cotton belt, including Bathinda and Sriganganagar, started operating these again.

Mr Ashok Kapur, former president, Northern India Cotton Association, pointed out that about 12 offices had started working again in north India, thus giving employment to more than 100 persons. He added that ginning and pressing mills, which started functioning this year, were also giving employment to hundreds of people.

Mr Kapur pointed out that it was after more than a decade that the northern belt had witnessed transaction pertaining to cotton trade worth about Rs 3,500 crore.

The other significant feature of the current season was that after many years Maharashtra and southern states-based traders visited north and made significant purchases. The yarn and textile mills located in northern belt were also satisfied with the quality of cotton produced in this belt.

As per data collected from the cotton markets so far about 38 lakh of bales had arrived in northern India as compared to the total production and arrival of 25 lakh bales last year.

Information revealed that the current season started in early September last year as huge quantities of cotton started arriving in the markets and continued after March 31, when the season was supposed to end formally.

Mr Kapur pointed out that “if we take that quantity of raw cotton which had been sold to private traders by evading the entry of same in the official records of the market committee to evade market fee, the arrival so far in northern India has crossed 40 lakh and the figure can touch 43 lakh bales.”

Cotton traders pointed out that if the trend remained same then the northern belt would witness record production next year. They added that the introduction of cultivation of Bt cotton in Punjab would do the wonders as it would reduce the cost of inputs and increase the output.


Tribune Impact
Cops seize machinery used for illegal mining
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 4
The district administration finally moved in today to stop illegal mining going on in the Khadi rivulet. The police forced the contractors of the Department of Irrigation to stop the illegal mining. It confiscated machinery being used for mining.

The police swung into action after the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, ordered the SDM, Pathankot, Mr Amarjit Paul, and the SP, Pathankot, Mr Manminder Singh, to stop the illegal mining.

While talking to The Tribune, the Deputy Commissioner said that the mining had been stopped in the area with immediate effect. The SDM, Pathankot, had been directed to inquire into the illegal mining being carried out in the banned area. Action would be taken against the persons who indulged in the illegal mining, he said.

The General Manager, mining, Mr Randhwa, said that the area in which the mining was being carried out by the Department of Irrigation or PWD contractors would be assessed. The assessment of the amount of material lifted from the area would be carried out immediately. As per the rough estimates material worth about Rs 20 to 30 lakh had been lifted from the banned area.

He also said that the mining in the area was banned due to its proximity to human habitations and a government school. Moreover, due to inadequate rains for the past few years there was not enough material to be lifted in the rivulet. If the mining was carried out in the rivulet it would damage the ecology and natural course of the river near the Pathankot town.

The Vigilance Department has also started collecting data regarding the illegal mining carried out in the rivulet by the contractors of the PWD and the Irrigation Department. The vigilance sleuths today collected data regarding the case from the Department of Mining.

The sources said that the Department of Irrigation was now claiming that the material was mined for the construction of kutcha bandh of the Khadi rivulet. However, the illegal mining was being carried out in the area for more than past 10 days. The material was being taken from the spot in trucks and tractor-trailers. If the material mined was to be used just to construct a kutcha bundh on the same rivulet where was the material being carried in trucks and tractor-trailers.


Kidnapped Delhi boy traced in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
A Delhi police team today arrested a woman hailing from Bathinda for kidnapping a one-and-a-half-year-old boy from Seemapuri, New Delhi. The police has also arrested a Punjab State Electricity Board employee for hiring the woman for the job.

Sources said the accused, Meenu, was a neighbour of Satish Kumar, who was a PSEB employee. Satish had four daughters and a son before his son died in an accident last year. Preference for the male child forced him to hire Meenu for kidnapping a baby boy for himself.

The sources said Meenu was a resident of New Delhi before shifting to Bathinda about 10 years back. She used to stay at Aradhak Nagar in the Seemapuri area.

She chose the son of Anil Kumar Mishra as her target as while in Delhi she was a tenant in his neighbourhood. She left for New Delhi a couple of days back and after mingling with Mishra’s family kidnapped his son, Luv. The Mishras had twins, Luv and Kush. Kush died a couple of months back.

The Seemapuri police registered a case of kidnapping and launched a manhunt to nab the culprit. During investigation the police found a telephone number of Bathinda from an STD booth at Aradhak Nagar which revealed that Meenu was in constant touch with Satish Kumar before the kidnapping. She had also called him at 8.40 am yesterday.

The sources said Satish had promised her Rs 50,000 for the job and also gave her an advance payment of Rs 5,000. The sources said Meenu, who got married twice, remained aloof in her Bathinda locality.

The Delhi police team, headed by Inspector Bakshi Ram, after laying hands on some clues, left for Bathinda and laid a trap for Satish Kumar and Meenu. The police caught her along with the child as soon as she entered her house.


‘Sold’ child restored to parents
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), April 4
A case of a poor family reportedly selling their three-year-old son for over a couple of lakhs has come to light. However, fearing legal action after people got air of the matter, the child was restored to his parents through adoption.

Sources said Darshi, a resident of Guru Nanak Pura, and his father were drug addicts. Darshi had a family of six members including his three sons, but his sources of income were limited. Sources said Darshi used to beat his wife and spend all his earnings on drugs.

A trader from this area introduced Darshi to a childless couple from Barnala, following which a deal was struck in Rs 2.5 lakh. As per the deal Darshi had to handover his second son to the couple. In an effort to avoid any legal action, the kid was adopted in the court of the executive magistrate of Barnala, Mr Baljinder Singh Sandhu, on March 28.

However, when the police and some mediapersons of the area came to know about the matter, the child was returned to his parents in a similar way.

The police has confirmed the incident and said the child had been adopted legally. Though the child has been restored to his parents, Darshi’s residence is still locked. 


Turban issue: SGPC writes to PM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today urged the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to take up the turban issue with the French Government.

In a press note issued here, Bibi Jagir Kaur in her letter to the PM said that the French Government continued with the ban on turban and also did not allow Sikh students supporting the turban to take admission in schools. She said that it was a universal fact that the turban was part of Sikhs’ dress code and was accepted by all the major countries, including the USA, Canada, England, etc.


Sikh history ‘distorted’ in SGPC dossier
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
The controversy over dossier, sent to Unesco to declare the Golden Temple as world heritage site, has taken a fresh turn with Justice Mota Singh, a former judge of New Jersey, USA, pointing out glaring discrepancies and misrepresentation of historical facts pertaining to Sikhism.

In a communication to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, copies of which have been faxed to the SGPC chief and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, he has alleged that history of the Sikhs was distorted through the dossier and sought its immediate withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, executive member of the SGPC who coordinated for preparing the dossier, stand singled out and is fighting a lone battle to justify the dossier. Though the dossier was got prepared at the behest of the then SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and the executive body of the SGPC had passed a resolution to send the same to Unesco, but they prefer maintaining ‘studied silence’ on the issue.

Justice Mota Singh writes: It is a wrong notion that the enlisting of the Golden Temple in Unesco’s heritage list will attract more international tourists, apart from helping its proper maintenance. However, after going through the dossier and its different sections it was clear that enlisting of the Golden Temple won’t be in the interest of the community.

The status of Harmandar Sahib, and Akal Takht will stand altered to a mere cultural site, adds the communication. These are exclusively religious places wherein only divine verses of Sikh religion as contained in Guru Granth Sahib are recited throughout. No cultural function of any sort could be allowed. He alleged that the misrepresentation had been made in the dossier as to the dictum to the Sikh religion. Consequences to describe the great Sikh institution as a cultural site could be dangerous for the Sikh religion, he said.

Justice Mota Singh alleged that the enlisting of Harmandar Sahib as world heritage site would invite intervention and interference of Central and state governments, Unesco and other outsiders for the protection, maintenance and management of Harmandar Sahib and Akal Takht. He said under the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, the SGPC was supposed to manage the affairs of Harmander Sahib and Akal Takht.

In the world heritage list there are already 788 sites, of which 611 are the cultural sites, 154 in the natural sites while 23 are mixed sites. Most of the sites included in this list are parks, caves and such like natural and cultural sites. He said Harmandar Sahib and Akal Takht could not be added in such a list which were already known world over as holy places of Sikh religion.

NRIs sore at SGPC over lodging
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 4
Mr Gurcharan Singh Banwait who laid a peace march from Nankana Sahib to Anandpur Sahib said though he had provided itinerary well in advance to the SGPC but the Shiromani Committee failed to provide proper lodging facilities to the delegates at Sri Harmandir Sahib and Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib Ananpur Sahib, Mr Banwait said here yesterday that instead of providing rooms with adequate amenities, the delegates were huddled in a hall with poor amenities. Many members could not have a dip in the Sarovar at Sri Harmandir Sahib as it was ‘too far’ from their lodge .The delegation was made to stay at Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College at Anandpur Sahib.

However, Mr Banwait was overwhelmed by arrangements made for the peacemarchers at Goindwal Sahib, Tran Taran, Khadoor Sahib, Dhahan Kaleran, Alachaur, Nawanshahr, Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib (Ropar).


SAD (A) activists burn Badal’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 4
Activists of SAD (A), led by Dr Harjinder Singh Jakhu, national general secretary, and Mr Gurdeep Singh, district president, burnt effigy of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, at the Session chowk here today for his anti-Sikh attitude.

They raised slogans against Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Mr Jakhu alleged that in the Sikh history Mr Badal would be known as a traitor for his anti-Sikh activities.

He said Mr Badal had promised during the Assembly election in 1997 that he would make every effort to get those Sikh youths released, who were languishing in jails since long, but he did not do anything in this regard. He further alleged that Mr Badal provided financial assistance to those police officials, who were involved in the killing of Sikhs in fake encounters for arranging advocates to contest their cases.

He further alleged that thousands of Sikhs who were black listed during Mr Badal’s regime, were not getting their passports now.

Mr Jakhu said effigies of Mr Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur would be burnt on April 12 at Nawansheher, on April 13 at Jalandhar and on April 25 at Phagwara and Ropar.


Tenders for road construction floated finally
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 4
Residents and commuters of this area are keenly watching the developments in the office of the Executive Engineer Construction, Division, PWD, at Malerkotla where tenders for the construction of the Ludhiana-Sangrur road are scheduled to be accepted and opened.

Despite pressure from all corners of society, the state government had been putting off the construction of this part of the Ludhiana-Khanauri road. Besides being in news for the service of notices to 11 authorities, including the government, the authorities invited statewide criticism by leaders of political parties.

Referring to the “callous attitude” of the state authorities towards the upkeep of the road, Mr Nusrat Akram Khan Bagga and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, former SAD ministers, alleged that the PWD authorities were deliberately delaying the commencement of construction to appease contractors of toll barriers on the national highway.

Showing tender notices published in newspapers, the SAD leaders claimed that the process for opening tenders had been postponed at least seven times. The latest notice reveals that the tenders, which were to be accepted on March 22, would now be accepted on April 5.

The office had invited tenders in February and the notice was amended on February 28. The scheduled date for the opening of the tender was shifted from March 3 to March 16 and then to March 22 by subsequent amendments.

Ultimately, the notice inviting tenders was issued on March 22 vide which the estimated cost of construction of the road from Ludhiana to Malerkotla, Malerkotla to Ratolan and Ratolan to Sangrur was shown at around Rs 769 lakh.

The Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur road is a small stretch on the150-km Ludhiana-Khanauri road that is being constructed under a World Bank project covering a total of 400 km link-roads in the state. While the Punjab Road and Bridges Development Board might take some more years to complete the work on the road, the residents of the area would have to face inconvenience on the Ludhiana-Khanauri road, which has become a death trap on account of numerous potholes on it.

The department concerned instead of repairing the road has chosen to wait for the road to be widened and reconstructed.

The condition of the road joining Ludhiana with Haryana has been deteriorating for the past 10 years.


Goods carriers ferrying passengers to be penalised
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
In an attempt to check the increasing number of road accidents in the state, the traffic wing of the Punjab police has directed that vehicles used for transporting goods will not be used for ferrying passengers, with immediate effect.

The directions were issued to the district police chiefs by Inspector-General of Police S.K. Sharma — in charge of traffic — soon after 19 devotees, including four children, were killed in a headon collision between a truck and a Canter near Beas on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway. Mr Sharma said nearly 60 devotees were travelling in the Canter, even though the vehicle was meant for carrying goods, and not passengers.

Giving details of the directions, the IG said all SSPs and DIGs had been asked to immediately initiate action against the erring drivers under the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act, 1988.

For the first offence, the driver was liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 under Section 192 of the MV Act. In the case of second or subsequent violations, the driver was liable to be punished with imprisonment extending up to two years, he added.

The IG said added that for ensuring strict compliance with the directions, the traffic wing of the district, and the local police, would be held responsible “in case of complacency on part of the police in acting against such vehicles.”

The directions, he said, were likely to go a long way in checking the number of road accidents as drivers were blatantly violating provisions of the MV Act by carrying passengers to fairs, shrines and social gatherings in vehicles meant for transporting goods. They were often involved in mishaps resulting in tragic deaths.

Mr Sharma said the public was also being requested to desist from moving around in such vehicles. He added that the campaign being launched by the police in this regard could be successful only with the cooperation of the masses.


Adopt scientific methods for crime investigation: experts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 4
“The low conviction rate in criminal cases is because of the lack of appreciation of scientific evidences and unreliability of key witnesses”. These views were expressed by Mr Harminder Singh, Joint Secretary, Police Modernisation, Ministry of Home Affairs, while delivering the inaugural address during the National Workshop on Forensic Facial Reconstruction that commenced at Punjabi University here today.

The four-day event is being organised by the Department of Forensic Science.

Elaborating further, Mr Harminder Singh stressed the need for the application of scientific methods during the investigation of crime. He said 60 to 67per cent of the Police modernisation budget had been earmarked for forensic science. He also emphasised the need of high integrity among members of the forensic fraternity.

Professor M.Y.Iscan, international coordinator of the workshop delivered the keynote address and introduced the delegates to the recent advances in the area of facial reconstruction while tracing the background of forensic physical anthropology.

In his presidential address, Dr S. S Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, stressed the need of using scientific methods in crime investigation and lauded the role of Forensic Science Department in organising this workshop.

The VC also released a CD containing information regarding forensic facial reconstruction.

Earlier, welcoming the chief guest and the delegates, Dr R.M. Sharma, chairman of the workshop, disclosed that this was the first workshop of its kind in the country and the outcome of this endeavour would be of immense help to the law enforcement agencies in solving cases in which identity of the deceased is in question. 


Physically challenged observes fast
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 4
A physically challenged person of Hadiabad subtown in Phagwara, Mr Vipin Kumar Vinayak, today obsered a fast in protest against the delay in the completion of the road over the bridge (ROB) at the Satnampura level crossing.

In his fifties, crippled below waist, and confined to a wheel-chair, Mr Vinayak threatened that if his demands, including provision of a passage/pathway pending completion of the ROB, service lanes, drainage etc, were not accepted, he would be forced to observe a fast- unto-death.

Many shopkeepers of the area and residents troubled by the delay in the project also came to his support and expressed their solidarity with the lone protester.

The work on the ROB was started on May 11,2002. As per conditions of the contract, it was to have been completed in one year i.e. by May 10,2003. The delay resulted in increase in its cost, forcing the corporation to moved court.

Residents of the area, including students of colleges on the Phagwara- Nakodar road, continue to suffer as they have to take long detours due to the closure of the passage owing to the ongoing construction work. All buses and vehicles from Nakopdar-Jandiala and Phagwara go through the Sapror village level crossing and Gandwan Atholi villages, taking a detour of 10 km. 


Rs 10.04 cr for projects connected with 40 Muktas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Punjab Government today gave its approval for Rs 10.04 crore to be spent on completion of ongoing projects connected with the commemoration of 300th year of martyrdom of 40 Muktas at Muktsar.

According to a government spokesman, a high-level meeting was also held to review the progress of infrastructure development works, including construction of four gates, sports stadium in local government college, memorial park and maintenance of roads in municipal limits of 

Besides, money has also been earmarked for infrastructural support and making other arrangements for the state-level function scheduled to be held at 
Muktsar on May 4.

Taking part in the deliberations, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said state of the art Mukta-e-Minar would be erected with a base of 80 square feet water tank with colourful fountains. Apart from this, brief history regarding unique sacrifices of 40 Muktas and Mai Bhago would be inscribed in Hindi, Punjabi and English.


5 Phagwara colonies in bad shape
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, April 4
Residents of five residential colonies situated on the Hargobind Nagar Road and the Banga Road are being forced to live in miserable conditions as the local Municipal Corporation authorities have failed to recarpet roads leading to the localities.

The roads have potholes and most of the lanes have no proper drainage system.

The colonies are Prem Pura,Patel Nagar,Friends Colony,Subhash Nagar and Professors’ Colony. The authorities concerned have failed to make any arrangements for regular garbage disposal.

A visit to the colonies by this reporter revealed that these have been developed in an unauthorized manner without basic civic amenities.

The residents complain that the bad roads were damaging their vehicles. ‘Though we submitted several memorandums to the corporation in the past, every time we were told the authorities concerned did not have sufficient funds for recarpeting the roads’, says Mr Harish Kanda of Subhash Nagar.

The President of the MC, Mr M.S. Ragbotra, said the state government had decided to provide all civic amenities to the colonies.

‘We have identified about 20 colonies in the subdivision and efforts are being made to get the road repair work completed before the onset of the rainy season’, he said.


Tributes paid to Pope
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Tribunes were paid to Pope John Paul II and Harjinder Singh Lally, son of a former Social Welfare Minister, Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, before the Punjab Vidhan Sabha adjourned here this afternoon. No other business was transacted.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Council of Ministers also mourned the death of both Pope John Paul and Harjinder Singh Lally.

As the House assembled, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, moved an adjournment motion after paying tributes to Pope John Paul.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while paying tributes to Pope John Paul, said that it was he who expressed his unhappiness over Operation Bluestar and also supported Sikhs in the French ban on turbans case. Mr Badal also mourned the death of Harjinder Singh Lally, in Ropar yesterday.

Mr Tikshan Sood (BJP) and Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur also paid tributes to both Pope John Paul and Harjinder Singh Lally.


Valmiki samaj for holiday on April 14
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
Members of the Bharitya Valmiki Dharam Samaj today took out a procession in protest against the cancellation of holiday on April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.

The members led by the president of the samaj, Mr Vijay Dhanav also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner. They pointed out that it was a matter of concern that the person who is the founding father of the Constitution was not given his due.

Mr Dhanav said, Dr Ambedkar represented the aspirations of the millions of the Dalits and downtrodden in the country. He hoped that April 14 be declared as a holiday to respect the sentiments of the people.

The copies of the memorandum have also been sent to the President and the Prime Minister of India as well as the Governor and the Chief Minister of the state.


Vigilance seeks records from DTO
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 4
The Vigilance Bureau has asked the District Transport Office (DTO) to hand over the records relating to the driving license scam. It has warned of legal action in case its order was not complied with.

The Additional District Judge, Mr D.S. Malwai, had asked the SP, Vigilance, Bathinda range, on November 29, last year (letter No. 1727) to probe into the matter and book all those involved in the scam.

The driving licences having similar numbers had been issued to claim lakhs of rupees from insurance companies. Many of these records neither had the DTO’s signature nor the photograph of the person concerned.

The District Court had given three months’ time to the Vigilance Bureau to investigate into the matter.


Devotees take part in Jalkalash Yatra
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 4
Holy water of major rivers and major religious places of India was immersed into the historic Sri Devi Talaab Temple pond by thousands of devotees, mostly women, who carried water in traditional metal pitchers here today.

Chanting the “Vedic mantras”, the devotees gathered at Sri Lal Dwara Temple at Partap Bagh in the morning, from where they marched to Sri Devi Talaab Temple as part of the “Jalkalash Shobha Yatra”, a procession organised by Sri Devi Talaab Temple Committee.

“Langars” were organised by shopkeepers to serve the devotees.

The procession was led by Mata Usha Devi, Devi Talaab Temple Committee president Shital Vij and other office-bearers of the committee.

Immersion of holy water was the concluding part of the “Kar Sewa” of the holy pond of Sri Devi Talaab Temple, which was initiated in 2004.


PCMS docs submit memo to CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 4
The PCMS Association of the local Government Medical College has submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in which it has asked the government to immediately fill posts of medical teachers in the state medical colleges keeping in view the forthcoming inspection by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

In a press note Dr D.S. Bhullar, president of the association, urged the government to allocate a separate budget to clear the TA/DA bills of the doctors who regularly attend court hearings as expert witnesses for recording of evidence.

Dr Bhullar has demanded 5 per cent extra house rent allowance for those doctors who are working in hospitals but who are not availing any government accommodation. The association has asked the government to give them DA on the Central Government pattern keeping in view directions of the Supreme Court.

Dr Bhullar has asked the state government to reconsider its decision of privatising government hospitals as, he said, the move is neither in the interest of the in-service doctors nor has it found favour with the common man.

Keeping in view the inconvenience faced by the attendants of patients brought to the Emergency Wards, the association has asked the government to give permission to open medicine shops in the Casualty Department of the Rajindera Hospital.


Shatabdi to stop at Phagwara

New Delhi, April 4
The Delhi-Amritsar Swarna Shatabdi Express has been provided with a new stoppage from April 15. The train will stop at Phagwara at 11.41 am on its run to Amritsar from the Capital, while on its return journey it will halt at the new station at 6.25 pm.

The two-minute stoppage in both directions has been provided on an experimental basis for six months, the Northern Railway here said. — UNI


PAU VC for total farm diversification
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 4
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh, favours total diversification of agriculture in the state and not restricting the same to shifting wheat and paddy. He plans to pay attention to this issues during the four years of his second term as Vice-Chancellor.

Dr Aulakh has been given another term of four years from April 1 after successfully completing his first tenure of four years. During his first term, PAU witnessed rapid progress and discipline was completely restored on the campus. He was able to curb absenteeism and reviewed research projects department wise for the first time.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune today, Dr Aulakh said he proposed to undertake review of all departments and research projects now being undertaken by the university.

The Punjab Government has promised to give Rs 100 crore to PAU which would be realised through the cess imposed on the sale of liquor in the state for undertaking agricultural research and development.

According to Dr Aulakh, agricultural research and development fund of Rs 100 crore would be used to support a ‘corpus fund’ to earn regular income. Research proposals for funding under this project would be formulated with the objective of identification and development of new crops and varieties.

Dr Aulakh proposes to organise a brain storming session in May to chalk out a strategy for achieving the objective of total diversification. Senior experts from ICAR, pulses institute, vegetable institite and water management would be invited. In reply to a question, Dr Aulakh said PAU had been facing a financial cricis for the past many years. The state government had not raised its financial contribution for the past three years. “We are getting Rs 90 crore annualy from the state government, 80 crores for agriculture and Rs 10 crore for vaterinary development. We are not able to meet the salary component even with this amount. The salary component alone in Rs 94 crore per annum.

Dr Aulakh is worried that youths in the rural areas are not able to compete with urban youths in studies. He favours a six-year programme for B.Sc (Agriculture) and admission to this course should be done after matric.


Procurement of wheat starts
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 4
Wheat procurement started today in the district as the Food and Supply Department purchased wheat from farmers in Sirhind Mandi. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, visited the mandi along with Capt Parveen Vij, district Food and Supply Controller, district Mandi Officer, district Manager Markfed, DM, Punsup and DM, Punjab Agro.

The Deputy Commissioner started the purchase by purchasing the first heap Nathwinder Singh, a farmer. The Deputy Commissioner said the state government had opened 33 mandis in the district. Five procurement agencies of the state and food corporations of India would procure wheat from mandis of the district.

The government had fixed Rs 640 per quintal as the MSP for the procurement of wheat. The Deputy Commissioner disclosed that he had held meetings with district managers of procurement agencies and reviewed the wheat procurement arrangements.

The agencies had made adequate provisions for bales and storage space for wheat. Procurement staff had reached all mandis and purchases had started, he said.

Capt Vij informed that last year a total of 2,45,657 MT of wheat had arrived in the mandis and it was procured by government agencies. This time procurement agencies had made arrangements for the purchase of 2,70,000 MT of wheat.

Mr Ahluwalia advised the farmers to bring clean and dry wheat to the mandis. He advised them against night harvesting and warned the combine operators that in case they indulged in night harvesting strict action would be taken against them.

He warned the commission agents against any malpractice and demanded their cooperation in the wheat procurement by the agencies. He advised them to use power the cleaners for the cleaning of wheat.


High drama at council meeting
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 4
A high drama was witnessed during an election meeting called by the Deputy Commissioner to elect the senior vice-president and vice-president of the Sirhind Municipal Council today.

As the meeting was about to start, the Deputy Commissioner issued an order postponing the meeting whereas the members refused to obey the orders and were adamant to conduct the election.

The Deputy Commissioner in the orders said Mr Ashok Sood, councillor, whose membership had been cancelled by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, was restored by the high court and he had submitted a representation alleging that he had not been issued the agenda of the meeting, so the meeting should be postponed. The Deputy Commissioner, after the representation, postponed it.

All members, including president of the council, were present in the meeting hall and they objected to the orders of the Deputy Commissioner and elected Mr Ram Lubhaya as senior vice-president unanimously and raised slogans in his favour. Council president and Executive Officer refused to give the proceeding register as well as to sign the proceedings they wrote on a new register.

Later the members after conducting election went to the Deputy Commissioner office and told him that they had conducted the election. The Deputy Commissioner told them that it was illegal.

The members urged the Deputy Commissioner to fix the next date for election and he assured to fix it at the earliest.

Mr Charanjeev Channa, president of the council, told The Tribune that the agenda for the meeting was issued by the Deputy Commissioner and he had postponed the meeting. So there was no question of conducting any election.

He said he had urged the Deputy Commissioner to fix the next date. He termed the election conducted by certain members as illegal. Mr Sher Singh, councillor, alleged that it was the highhandedness of the government that the meeting was postponed. He said the Deputy Commissioner postponed it under the pressure of the government. He criticised the government for interfering in the affairs of the MC.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner said the meeting was postponed as Mr Ashok Sood, whose membership had been cancelled and who had been debarred for contesting elections for five years by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, was reinstated as a member by the high court and the order of the Principal Secretary was quashed.

He said Mr Ashok Sood gave him a representation a day prior to the election alleging that he had not been issued agenda. He said he had obeyed the orders of the high court and sent the case to the government for further instructions.


Probe begins into octroi contract
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 4
The Executive Officer (EO) of the Municipal Council (MC), Ropar, today opened inquiry into the documents pertaining to octroi contract of the Ropar city, which had been leaked earlier. The documents were made a part of the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by some local residents against the decision of Municipal Council for giving octroi contract to a private party.

Acting on the PIL, the High Court had stayed the decision on the octroi contract given to private party and adjourned the case till April 8. Sources informed that the present controversy surfaced following the rift between the Executive Officer and some members of the Municipal Council.

The members of the Municipal Council were against the decision to auction of the octroi contract given to the private party. The members of the MC claimed that bid of octroi contract was obtained by the private party at a lower rate than the fixed by the MC. The contract was fetched by the private party Rs 2.18 crore while the Municipal Council had fixed Rs 2.28 crore amount for the auction bid.

When contacted the EO (MC), Mr Surinder Kumar, said “I have been conducting enquiry as the documents were leaked despite the fact that only a few people could have access to important files. The inquiry into whole episode would be conducted within a week”, he added.


One more held in Prabir kidnapping case
Our Correspondent

Rajpura (Patiala), April 4
In less than three days of the arrest of Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, and Sukhjit Singh, alias Sukha, two accused in the Prabir kidnapping case, the Patiala police has arrested yet another member of the gang of criminals involved in the incident.

The Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Patiala police has arrested Kuldeep Chand, a former Constable of Punjab Police, for kidnapping Parbir Singh, son of a rice-sheller, for ransom. He was arrested from near Lalru, late Sunday night.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Pritpal Singh Virk, Superintendent of Police (Detective), Patiala, said that following information the SIT laid a trap on the Kalka-Ambala highway near Lalru and nabbed him from a bus.

Kuldeep Chand was travelling in a bus that was heading towards Chandigarh from Delhi when the SIT caught him. Mr Virk revealed that three cops, the SIT could manage to identify him with the help of three other cops who were Kuldeep Chand’s batch-mates during training.

The SP claimed that Kuldeep Chand was accompanied by four other accomplices when they kidnapped Prabir Singh, a plus two student of DAV Public School, Amritsar, on February 7 evening.

Mr Virk also claimed that Kuldeep Chand remained in Delhi with some travelling agents in the past over two months.

Kuldeep Chand was on good terms with some Delhi-based travelling agents as he himself had been operating as a travelling agent in Amritsar. He had been absconding after taking ransom for Parbir’s release on February 17.

The police has taken him to Amritsar for identification and find out how much he had received as ransom from Prabir’s parents, Mr Virk added.

Meanwhile, the police today produced Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta and Sukhjit Singh, alias Sukha, two main accused, before a Rajpura court and were remanded in one day’s police custody.

Mr Kuldeep Chad was also produced in a court where the judge remanded him in the police custody though the police sought 14 days’ police remand, here today.



Principal who fled with girl arrested
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 4
The police has arrested the Principal of a private school who had fled with a girl student of Class VIII about a month back from here. Sources said the medical examination of the girl had been performed and the Principal’s interrogation was on. The sources said the Principal had confessed to have marrying the girl at the Ram Tirath temple in Amritsar before proceeding to Chandigarh where the Sector 36 police caught them. Both of them were handed over to the Mansa police yesterday.

While the Principal claimed her to be 19 years of age, the action committee formed on the issue had different opinion. According to the committee members, the girl’s date of birth was April 9, 1990, and she appeared in the Class V examination in 2002.

The committee convener, Mr Gurdeep Singh, alleged that the police was trying to save the Principal and their suspicion was raised with the girl’s statements that were coming in his favour.

The sources said the police could file a plea in the court for sending the girl to Nari Niketan once it was verified that she was a minor.

When contacted, the SSP, Mr Gautam Cheema, said as per the school records the girl was about 15 or 16 years of age, but they were still awaiting for doctor’s report in this regard.


Sacked SPO among 3 held for robbery
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 4
Baljinder Singh, a dismissed SPO of the Punjab Police, is the kingpin of the gang that looted a rural branch of Punjab National Bank at Parlika village, on March 10, police sources said.

All the three culprits allegedly involved in the robbery of Rs 3 lakh at the gun point were nabbed from a farm house near Hastinapur in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening, the police said.

They were identified as Baljinder Singh, alias Satnam Singh, alias Billu Badshah, resident of Jhundeer in Amritsar district, Surjit Singh, alias Sonu, resident of Dhaani Bhcotan in Bareilly (UP), and Mohinder Nayak of MTR village near Nohar in Rajasthan. Baljinder, a former SPO of the Punjab police, had been booked in 13 criminal cases in Mansa district.

A special team of the Nohar police had conducted raids at Bijanaur, Bareilly and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and Ludhiana, Jagraon and Amritsar district in Punjab.

Preliminary investigations, once again indicated that inter-state gangs of criminals had been conniving to loot petrol stations and banks, besides commutting other crimes for a long time.

But they had been evading arrest as the police of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan had not been coordinating in this regard.

The meetings of senior officials from the three states had been postponed for want of time repeatedly though the same was scheduled to be held quarterly, sources said.


Cellphone helps man get back stolen car
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 4
A mobile phone helped a taxi driver to get back his snatched car within 12 hours. Mr Randhir Singh, owner and driver of the car, was able to inform the police in time that two miscreants had snatched his Indica car at pistol point near Dhalian village last evening.

The swift action taken by the police, which immediately sealed the area, forced the miscreants to abandon the car at a deserted place on a Katcha road near Rachhin village today morning.

The Indica car bearing number PB 08 A F 11143 was hired by an unidentified person with mullah- type looks from the Sudhar Taxi stand for going to Andloo village on Raikote-Ahmedgarh road around 5 pm on Sunday.

The stranger asked the driver to stop near a guard room at Halwara Air Force Station and took another person with him.

When the car reached near a T-point of Dhalian village, the duo asked the driver to stop and aimed a pistol at him.

The miscreants, who were aged around 25 to 26 years, threatened to shoot the driver in case he followed them and fled towards Ahmedgarh side.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagraon, said the car had been found on a deserted kactha road near Rachhin village today morning.

He claimed that owing to the pressure built by the Jagraon district police the miscreants were forced to abandon the vehicle.

"As the driver had a mobile phone with him he informed Mr Harjit Singh Brar, DSP, Raikot, who informed me immediately. Besides getting the area falling under Jagraon district sealed we informed the authorities in surrounding districts also," briefed Mr Ahir. 


One arrested in strangulation case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 4
The police has solved the Kirpal Singh murder case by arresting one Jagmeet Singh, allegedly a poppy husk addict, who had accompanied the victim to a religious fair last week. 

The sources said interrogation by the police revealed that Jagmeet Singh (32), had accompanied Kirpal Singh, to a religious fair at a mazaar on their inter-state border. On their way back Jagmeet Singh allegedly strangled Kirpal Singh to death with the help of a piece of cloth. He later threw the body in a water course near the link road. Jagmeet allegedly look Rs 1,200 from the victim.

The sources said during interrogation Jagmeet also admitted of killing one Ranjit Singh, a resident of the same village, on May 22, 2003. 


Move to curtail autonomy of education board
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur April 4
The Punjab Government has initiated a move to curtail the autonomy of the Punjab School Education Board. Highly placed sources told The Tribune that the Ministry of Education had initiated a move seeking amendment to the Punjab School Education Board Act 1969 as amended in 1987.

Under the proposed amendment efforts have been made to put the office of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Board under the government. As per the existing Act Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the education Board once appointed cannot be removed till their term of three years lapses. The appointees can only be removed if there was some serious allegation of corruption or misuse of office against them.

However, in the proposed amendment it has been intended that the Chairman and the vice-Chairman of the Board could be removed by the government just after giving a one-month notice. The sources said that with the change of government the ruling parties had to bear with the Chairman of the Board appointed by the previous government for his full term. However, with the present move the present day government could change the Chairman of the Board appointed earlier.

With the amendment the autonomous office of the Chairman of the education Board would get subordinated to the ministry of Education and bureaucrats controlling the department.

As per the existing Act the Board has the printing rights of the course books for the schools being run under the board. From this printing of the text books the board earns a profit of about 4-5 crore per annum and that gives it financial autonomy. In the proposed amendment, however, the government wants to keep the printing rights of the text books with it. After the amendment the government is proposing to even allow the private printers to publish the text books. The sources said that the motive behind the move was to keep the control over the huge funds flowing from the printing of the text books for the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan with the bureaucracy.

Once the printing rights of text books was taken away the financial autonomy of the board would get hampered, the sources said.

Earlier, the secretary of the Board was appointed by the members of the board. However, under the new amendments proposed the government intends to extend a panel of names to the board and out which it will have to select the secretary. The board will, however, maintain the right to reject the panel sent by the government and seek a new panel. However, a subordinated Chairman would never dare to challenge the decision of the government.

Besides, in the proposed amendments the government intends to reserve the right to policy guidelines to the education board on various matters.


Clean sweep by GMC at cultural fest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 4
A splash of colour was all pervasive on the second day of the All-India Inter-Medical and Dental College cultural extravaganza held at the Government Medical College auditorium even as the hosts reigned supreme in almost all events held today.

The highlight of the day was Punjabi comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi, who had the entire audience in splits with his witty anecdotes delivered in chaste Punjabi.

Results: Folk dance (group): Shivjit and group (GMC, Patiala)-1, Laxmi Bai Dental College, Patiala-2, Jassi Groups (GMC, Patiala) and Nursing School, Patiala-Joint 3rd. Western dance (group): Zoom group (GMC), Amritsar)-I, Fuzzy group (GMC), Patiala-2, Rock star Jassi group (GMC, Patiala)-3. Folk (Solo): Ashta and Anupam (GMC, Patiala)-1, Aman Gill (GMC, Patiala)-2, Richa (GMC, Amritsar)-3. Western (Solo): Payal (GMC, Patiala)-1, Aman Jain (GMC, Patiala)-2, Aman (GMC, Amritsar) and Kavita Malhotra (Nursing school Patiala)-3.

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