P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bibi not for heritage status for Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, April 16
The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Bibi Jagir Kaur, is not in the favour of getting heritage status for Sri Harmandar Sahib as she said there was simply no need for it.

Bibi said this while talking to the Sikh sangat during a visit to State Gurdwara here today. She said Sri Harmandar Sahib was already a prestigious place of worship and it did not require any further elevation of its status.

She, however, added that the SGPC had set up a five-member committee to discuss the pros and cons of the proposal, which would come up with its report on April 21. She said an executive committee of the SGPC would sit with the panel on the same day to resolve the issue.

The SGPC chief also said an amount of Rs 152 crore had been allocated in the current Budget for the upkeep of the gurdwaras being run by it, including those in Sultanpur Lodhi. She said Rs 34 crore had been allocated to meet he expenses of the existing 16 colleges, two engineering colleges, one medical and one dental college and opening of new colleges.

She said that a new missionary college would be soon coming up near Ber Sahib Gurdwara of Sultanpur Lodhi. She disclosed that a new girls’ college would be coming up at Jammu and Kashmir as per the proposal given by the sangat there.

Bibi added that from now onwards the girls would be given admission to Sikh missionary colleges so that they could get training in religious practices and preachings of Sikhism. She also said seven new model schools were being planned for the remote areas of Punjab at a cost of Rs 1 crore each.

The SGPC has received an invitation from the French embassy to discuss issues pertaining to the wearing of turban by Sikh students in France on April 24. She said she was yet to discuss the matter with the executive meeting of the SGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said it had been decided that the SGPC would scrutinise the cases of Sikh youths languishing in the jails of India without undergoing trials and bear the expenses incurred during litigation and getting them released.

Bibi urged the sangat to reach in large numbers at Muktsar on May 1 to attend the tercentenary of martyrdom of 40 muktas. She said a programme for the baptism of Sikhs would be held on the day.

Before addressing the sangat in gurdwara, Bibi laid the foundation stone for the construction of a VIP resthouse, 15-room sarai and two conference halls, besides a langar hall in the gurdwara premises.


Tehelka scribe identifies call girl, accused in court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The General Court Martial trying Brig Iqbal Singh on charges of professional impropriety in the Tehelka case at Patiala today granted admissibility to video tapes being produced in court as evidence. The tapes, shot secretly, show army officers allegedly demanding and accepting bribes from fictitious arms dealers.

The court, however, allowed the defence objection that the report of the tapes' forensic examination by M J Cass, a London-based expert, cannot be produced as evidence. The court observed that if the report was to be admitted as evidence in court, the prosecution has to first examine the forensic expert. Defence counsel, Maj R S Randhawa, had earlier objected to the tapes and the forensic report being produced in court as evidence.

Prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, said Mathews Samuel, who had shot the video tapes, identified and recognised the voices and faces of all persons on tapes, including the accused while deposing before the court today. He also identified the call girl, whose services were allegedly used by the accused in Hotel Pak in November, 2000.

The prosecution submitted that the examination-in-chief of Mathews Samuel be deferred so that the examination-in-chief of Lieut-Col V P Sayal can be concluded. Mr Moudgil contended that Mathews had so far deposed only in regard to the tapes' admissibility and not in regard to the merits of the case.


Italy’s Ambassador visits grandfather’s regiment
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 16
It was a rare and a nostalgic moment for Mr Antonio Armellini, Italian Ambassador to India, who visited the Army regiment that was once commanded by his grandfather here today.

Mr Armellini, had arrived along with his wife and defence attaché Colonel Defeo and visited “VII Cavalry”, Army regiment located at Khasa here today. “My grandfather commanded the Cavalry from 1911 to 1914”, he revealed while sharing some snacks with jawans of the regiment .

Mr Armellini when asked about Italy’s opposition to India’s demand to be made permanent member of the United Nation’s security council, said Italy had put forward its view to the India’s government. He added that the present Security Council set-up required a complete revamp to effectively represent the different regions in view of the changing world scenario. He added that different regions in the world should have adequate representation on the world represented body which has only five permanent member with veto powers.

Mr Armellini displayed keen interest in Indian industry and indo-italian collaborations and said trade worth $ 3 billion already existed between the two countries and it could be expanded to $ 5 billion. He said Italy was especially keen in Indian investment in the Information Technology sector. He was also positive about the prospects of investing in infrastructural development in India, including motorways, transport, ports and airports .

Touching on the core issue of textiles in Amritsar, the Italian Ambassador suggested comprehensive alliance involving trained and retired Italian experts to give advice on latest know-how to enhance competitiveness and quality of goods manufactured here.

Keen to develop economic and trade relations between the two countries, he said that he saw tremendous scope for tie-ups in the areas of agro and agri-processing industry. Mr Gunbir Singh, Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry Amritsar zonal council, while addressing, stressed on need to establish joint Indo-Italian ventures in food processing, textiles, vehicle-parts manufacturing chemicals, metals leather , gems, jewellery and computer software.

The ambassador and his wife also paid obeisance at the Golden Temple.


NRI, revenue officials booked in land grab case
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, April 16
A Canada-based NRI, local Naib Tehsildar, a Municipal Councillor and a Nambardar are among the 15 persons booked by the city police in an alleged land-grab case. DGP Sarbjit Singh Virk, while ordering registration of the case on Monday, directed the SSP, Ferozepore, to investigate and submit the report within seven days.

Such cases were brought to the notice of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, here yesterday also. The CM was told that a land mafia, having direct links with some senior SAD leaders, had been active in the region and enjoyed patronage of officers also. He had assured that such elements, irrespective of their political links, would not be spared.

Those named in the FIR No. 117 registered under Sections 447, 448, 341, 342, 420, 120-B, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC include Mr Balkaran Singh Canadian, Mr Baljit Singh, their father, Mr Dhian Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh Nambardar, Mr Jagmohan Kumar, Mr Harnek Singh, member village panchayat, Mr Rajwant Singh (all residents of Kalatibba village), Mr Darshan Lal and Mr Raj Kumar, sons of Mr Harbans Lal Setia, a local resident, Mr Major Singh Masaun, Naib Tehsildar, Mr Kuldeep Singh Tinna, Wasiqa Navees, Mr Jasbir Singh Jhurarkhera and councillor Mohan Lal.

Ms Dimple Rani, wife of Mr Arun Kumar Miglani, resident of Radhasoami Colony located on the college road here, had alleged in her complaint to the DGP that her father-in-law, Mr Krishan Kumar Miglani, was depressed after his wife’s demise.

The family owned a posh house and 26-kanal 19-marla agriculture land in the prime urban area. Her husband had been cultivating the land for the past 11 years. On September 10, 2004, the Miglani family had gone to Dera Beas near Amritsar where they were informed that certain persons had broken locks to grab their house. They had kidnapped the servant, his family and tenants. As the family rushed back, they were not allowed to enter the house and gain access to the land. Their clothes, cash and valuables were in the possession of armed persons deployed there.

The family approached the local officers, but was reportedly told that higher-ups were involved in the matter and thus no action could be taken as their service was at stake. Interestingly, the original registration deed of the house had been pledged to the local branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce since March 25, 2000. Mr Krishan Miglani in a separate complaint had said the deal was struck for Rs 1 crore against sale of his share of property but the buyers had paid Rs 2 lakh in cash and Rs 5 lakh by bank draft before expediting the sale deed on September 10, 2004 in his absence. Thus he had been cheated and faced threat to his life.

Ms Dimple Rani told the DGP that the Revenue Department had expedited the mutation process on the same day after registering the sale conspicuously taking advantage of blank papers signed by her father-in-law who was perturbed and indecisive.

Those named in the FIR could not be contacted. The SSP Mr Sudhanshu Srivastva, has asked the SHO of the city police to complete investigations within five days, sources said.


Punjabi conference on, says Tarlochan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 16
The three-day World Punjabi Conference (WPC) scheduled to open in Lahore tomorrow has not been postponed, claimed the Chairman of the National Minority Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, who crossed over to Pakistan today.

On the Pakistan side of Wagah border, the chairman of the WPC, Mr Fakhar Zaman, accorded warm reception to him.

Talking to newsmen, Mr Tarlochan Singh said due to unavoidable circumstances in view of the visit of the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, during this week, the Pakistan Embassy was unable to process a large number of visa applications for the Indian delegates.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he was informed by Mr Zaman that the news reports appearing in various newspapers were misleading and the conference was going ahead as per schedule. He added that a large number of Punjabi delegates from all over the world had arrived in Lahore for the conference.


Padyatris await Pak visas
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 16
Members of the first Indo-Pak ‘pad-yatra’, who reached here after traversing over 600 km from Delhi , may hit a blockade as the Pakistan High Commission has not yet given visas to the 175 yatris.

According to Dr Sandeep Pandey, a Magsaysay Award winner, the padyatra was started from the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamudin on March 23 and proposed to reach Pakpatan (Multan), the birthplace of Baba Farid, on May 11.

Dr Pandey said 175 persons wanted to cross over to Pakistan on April 18 and would wait there till the visas were granted. The Indo-Pak peace march was launched to strengthen the peace process so that a permanent thaw could be created in the region.

The organisers of the padyatra expressed surprise over the delaying tactics with regard to granting of visas.


CM’s concern for Indian prisoners in Pak ‘hollow’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 16
State BJP president Avinash Rai Khanna today accused Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, of enacting a drama of bringing back Indian prisoners from Pakistani jails even as he had installed a prime accused of the sensational Malta Boat Tragedy, as chairman of a board in Phagwara .

Mr Khanna while addressing the BJP state executive meeting today, said hundreds had perished in the tragedy off the Greek coast after they fell victims to bogus travel agents. About 59 Indian prisoners still languished in Pakistani jails. They had been duped by unscrupulous travel agents, he added. He charged Capt Amarinder Singh with making Mr Jaspreet Singh an alleged prime accused in the Malta boat tragedy, the Chairman of the Market Board in Phagwara .

Mr Madan Lal Khurana, zonal president, BJP, who presided over the function, gave a call to the BJP cadres to prepare for mid-term election as conditions were becoming favourable and elections were due in Kerala and West Bengal.

He decried the ‘inverted’ Indian National Flag on the PIA flight carrying Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff today.

Lashing out at Punjab Chief Minister for not bringing a single welfare package for the state, he decried loud claims of the Congress government about restarting of the Bathinda Oil Refinery and waiving the welfare loan of Rs 8,500 crore extended to the state by Central Government post-militancy.

Clarifying the position, he said the Chief Minister himself had put hurdles in the way of the refinery project byre-imposing sales tax on it while Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, had waived it.

Also the Central Government under Mr I.K. Gujral had waived the welfare loan given to the state while the Congress government was trying to take credit for it.


Historical past buried in sands of time
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Preet Nagar (Amritsar), April 16
Unmindful of its heritage value, the historical pond dating back to the period of Emperor Jehangir, here is being used to breed fish.

Few people are aware of the fact that Preet Nagar the ‘locality of love and friendship’, was part of the ‘royal route’ and was once the first halting point of Emperor Jehangir and an ‘aramgah’ of Noorjehan. The minarets of buildings that were a part of the magnificent Mughal architecture in the area were also demolished with a passage of have fallen prey to the ravages of time. Some of the buildings were demolished even before the Partition in order to establish Preet Nagar. The second blow to this model village, which Gurbax Singh wanted to develop into another Santiniketan, came with the country ’s partition in 1947.

Mr Hirday Pal Singh, son of Gurbax Singh Preetlari, told this correspondent that historical evidence revealed that the Emperor used to stay here while going to Kashmir. He said the site where he had established a printing press to publish ‘Bal Sandhesh’ was once an ‘aramgah’ of Noorjehan. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh gifted the land to one of his loyalists and later Preet Nagar was established there.

It is said the two towers, a wall around them and a big building within the compound were later knocked down. The elephants of Jehangir used to drink water at an enclosure, which has a unique shape and design.

The township was a showcase of composite Indian culture which encouraged community living and established its unique philosophy which made many writers, poets and artistes to start a new trend, different from the British influence, among the contemporary Indian intellectuals.

However, the township presents a desolate picture now. Most of the majestic buildings have been demolished. The majestic residence of great film actor and Punjabi writer, Balraj Sahni has been replaced with a modern house. There is no trace of the ‘Langar hall’ where residents of Preet Nagar used to have food prepared in the community kitchen.

In the good old days, no separate kitchen was run in any of the houses in this unique township. Women-folk of Preet Nagar used to perform kitchen duties by turn. The common dairy building has also disappeared.

The residence of great artist, Sobha Singh, which was one of the eight first houses in the township is in a dilapidated state. The house of Diwan Singh, father of Lt-Gen Jagjit Singh Arora (of Bangla Desh fame) has also disappeared. A major portion of the Activity School, a world famous residential school where students from different countries used to study, has been brought down.


Artistes flock to Fatehgarh Sahib
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 16
The week-long celebrations for Founder’s Day of Fatehgarh Sahib which concluded tonight attracted people from all over the state.

Renowned artistes from West Bengal, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and of course the Punjabi “Bajigars’ entertained the large crowds. The functions were organised by District Cultural Society in every nook and corner of the district. Rural people at Mandi Gobindgarh, Fatehgarh Sahib, Khamano and at Khera said they had never seen such dances and performance.

Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Sadhu Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, and Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, who were chief guests at Fatehgarh Sahib, Mandi Gobindgarh and Khamano, respectively, were so impressed with the function that they urged the Deputy Commissioner to make it a regular feature.

Items of the West Bengal group, “Rompa”, a dance on stricks, Mime on “Man and Machine” and Raivanshi”, dance based on aerobatics, were crowd-pullers.

Sutapa Pardhan, a leading international Bharat Natyam dance, got repeated cheers for her excellent performance.

Similarly “Ghoomar” and “Panihari” dances by Haryana artistes were highly appreciated.

“Kalbelia”, a popular folk dance of Rajasthan, was also well received. The satire on lifestyle, and the daring acts by the “Bajigar” were the main attractions. Two children “Arunima” of Fatehgarh Sahib and “Charu” of Patiala added colour to the festival. Their choreography was perfect.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner cum Chairman, District Cultural Society, said Fatehgarh Sahib was given the status of district on Baisakhi Day (April 13) in 1992 by the then Chief Minister Late Beant Singh.


PM urged to look into delayed airport project
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 16
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Civil Aviation have sought immediate intervention of the Prime Minister to revive the airport up-gradation project, which had been stalled following directions to amend the design of the terminal building.

The chairman of the National Minorities Commission and member Rajya Sabha, Mr Tarlochan Singh, today made a surprise visit here en route Lahore to participate in the World Punjabi Congress. He told The Tribune that he was disappointed to see that the construction work at the all important terminal building had been stopped by the Airport Authority of India.

Tarlochan Singh, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Civil aviation, said he had urged the Minister for Civil Aviation to convene an urgent meeting next week to discuss the Amritsar airport upgradation project in details and also to make a presentation on the progress to make this airport of international standards.

The upgradation project of the Rajasansi International Airport had hit a major snag with the Chief Architect of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) suggesting a complete change in the present design of the Airport. This had led to the constructions of the new terminal building being stopped.

According to Mr Tarlochan Singh he had received reports that the contractor who was constructing the terminal building was in the process of winding up the construction activity in view of the major changes in the design of the front façade.

He added that inordinate delay was the result of tussle between the top brass of the AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Mr Tarlochan Singh said the ministry had suggested major changes in the front facade. The Civil Aviation Ministry, wanted the building to have a modern look with a glass facade.

He said the government must not alter the work when 80 per cent of the work was almost complete. He added that the terminal building containing the arrival and departure lounge, which was supposed to be ready by December 2003, was presently under construction and may not be commissioned till the end of this year.


Two Taksal activists picked up, let off
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 16
Two senior activists of the Damdami Taksal, who had deserted their headquarters following differences with the newly appointed chief, were allegedly picked up by the Majitha police from Gurdwara Bhangani Kalan today but later let off following the intervention by the Panchayats of three villages.

Jathedar Amrik Singh and Bhai Anokh Singh alleged that they were rounded up at behest of the Taksal chief as they had raised objections over the controversial maryada being pursued by the new chief.


Surjit Singh to head Budha Dal
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 16
Speculations regarding the new head of the Budha Dal were laid to rest today with Baba Santa Singh choosing Baba Surjit Singh as his successor.

The debate over the Budha Dal’s successor started eight years back when Baba Balbir Singh, known for his proximity with Baba Santa Singh, left the dal to form a new group. He still claims himself to be the head of the dal. The matter again hit the headlines on March 15 this year when Baba Balbir Singh suddenly reached Damdama Sahib to meet Baba Santa Singh.

Sources said Baba Santa Singh wanted to quit due to the age factor and he had also formed a five-member committee to manage the affairs of the dal. The sources said there were discussions among the dal members at Gurdwara Degsar Bor Sahib, in which the names of Baba Dayal Singh and Baba Surjit Singh came up.

Baba Uday Singh proposed the name of Baba Surjit Singh, while Baba Dayal Singh seconded his name. Sources said heads of various Nihang organisations, including Tarna Dal’s Makhan Singh, Baba Gurdev Singh Anandpur Saheb, Baba Avtar Singh of Vidhi Chand Dal, and Baba Trilok Singh Tarna Dal Khayale Wale, met Baba Santa Singh and supported Baba Surjit Singh’s name for the post of the 14th head of the Budha Dal. Baba Santa Singh then presented his successor a ‘siropa’.

Nihang bodies pledged their full support to Baba Surjit Singh, who hails from Marad village of Gurdaspur. He became a dal member about 30 years back.


700 cops deployed for shobha yatras
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 16
The district police has made elaborate security and traffic arrangements in view of the shobha yatras to be held in the city, tomorrow and the day after.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, who took stock of the traffic and the law and order situation in the city, said about 700 police personnel had been deployed in different parts of the city to ensure a peaceful atmosphere during the festivities.

Mr Asthana further said 12 nakas had been erected and each of these would be manned by a police party under an ASI.

On the traffic front, 15 traffic diversion points have been identified at Bidhipur crossing, Maqsudan chowk, Workshop chowk, Kapurthala chowk, Football chowk, Nakodar chowk, Gurunanak Mission chowk, BMC chowk, Sadar crossing, Link road near Khalsa College, Chaugitti chowk, Lama Pind chowk, T-point of Bus Stand, Pathankot chowk, and Bhagat Singh Colony.


Privatisation of health services opposed
Our Correspondent

Nabha, April 16
The Ophthalmic Officers’ Association has opposed privatisation of health services in Punjab.

Association spokesperson Hardip Singh Randhawa told mediapersons here that their members would be forced to launch a statewide agitation if the government did not drop its idea of privatising health services.

He said instead of providing improved health facilities to the people, the government was aiming to earn money out of it.

He added that in spite of tall claims by the government, the health services were still inadequate. He said the privatisation would not only make health services costlier but would also bring inexperienced staff into the government hospitals.

He welcomed the statement of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmoham Singh, against excessive privatisation of the health sector.


Naturopathy camp begins

Abohar, April 16
Ms Meena Kumari, a naturopathy and yoga expert from New Delhi, guided several patients at the JC Park here on today on the first day of health awareness and at camp organised by the Shankar Dass Daulat Ram Nagpal charitable Trust. — OC


Farmers flout guidelines
Transplantation of paddy
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Brindpur (Kapurthala), April 16
Giving two hoots to the recommendations of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the Agriculture Department, farmers of the district have started transplanting paddy at least two months before the stipulated schedule.

This is happening at a time when the water table level of the district is going down by 24 cm every year. The department has given a schedule of paddy transplantation to coincide with the arrival of monsoons. The water table of the district is bound to go further low as the farmers who are transplanting the crop now are using submersible pumps to irrigate their land.

As per the schedule given by the department, the time of sowing paddy is May 10 to June 20. The time of transplanting the crop is June 10 to July 20. For basmati varieties, the sowing and transplanting have to be followed a month late.

A visit to Brindpur and Sheikhopur villages and those falling in Sultanpur Lodhi sub-division revealed that while the wheat crop was yet to be harvested in some areas, one-foot tall paddy crop was being cultivated alongside. Most of the farmers had transplanted parmal 108, 116 and 109 varieties of the paddy.

Some farmers have also been cropping govinda and saukat varieties maturing in 60 days, against the recommendation of the department. These varieties need more water for maturing. Farmers growing these varieties usually reap two crops in a season as govinda or saukat is followed by basmati varieties that are usually sown a month later than the common varieties of paddy. Though the farmer is able to earn more by this method, it adversely affects the soil health, say department officials.

Since the crop sown early is more prone to pest attack, farmers sowing early crop have to use more pesticides which is harmful for health as a part of the pesticides is bound to enter the food chain.

But the farmers seem to be least bothered about such recommendations despite the fact that the department has been holding live demonstrations, camps and block-level meetings with the sarpanches, opinion leaders and farmers.

The District Agriculture Department recently dispatched letters to sarpanches asking them to counsel the farmers but nobody is bothered.

The Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr Swatantra Kumar, said such action on the part of the farmers was bound to lower the water table. He added that since the recommendations had no legal implications to it, nothing could be done to prevent such a measure.


36,350 tonnes of wheat procured
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 16
Various procurement agencies have purchased 36,350 metric tonnes of wheat in 1,549 mandis in the state, where procurement operations are going on in full swing.

This was stated by Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Avtar Henry while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Henry, who inspected procurement operations at the local grain market, said procurement was going on smoothly and farmers were not facing any problem in any of the mandis in the state. He said purchase of wheat has even surpassed targets in the Doaba area, Patiala and Ferozepur division and more quantity of wheat had been purchased during this year than during the corresponding period of last year. 


Food and Civil Supplies Joint Secretary
visits mandis

Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 16
The Union Government has fixed a target of procuring 95 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from the state, where as last year 92 lakh MT wheat was purchased and if surplus wheat comes to the mandis, that would also be purchased, said Mr Sanjay Kaul, Joint Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India, at Sirhind today.

He was inspecting the arrangements made for the procurement of wheat.

He said the aim of his visit was to speed up the procurement process and achieve the fixed targets, besides redressing the grievances of farmers.

He said he had interacted with the farmers in various mandis and had asked them about the payments and the facilities provided to them.

Capt Parvin Vij, DFSC, said a target to procure 2.70 lakh MT of wheat had been fixed for the district and 32 procurement centres had been set up.

He said till today, various government agencies and private traders had procured 1,81,877 MT of wheat in the district.


Police on high alert to check poppy husk smuggling
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Apprehending that there may be a significant jump in the smuggling of poppy husk during the ongoing harvesting of wheat and other crops, almost all the district police authorities of Punjab have put their field force on high alert.

Though the district police authorities have been carrying out intensive campaigns against the smuggling of poppy husk and other narcotics to make the state free from the menace of drug peddlers, the field force was put on a special alert in view of the harvesting season when the consumption of poppy husk goes up every season.

A cross-section of the district police chiefs pointed out to The Tribune that they had devised new ways and means to collect information on narcotics smugglers who had been trying to cash in on the harvesting season when the demand for poppy husk was high.

Mr Parag Jain, DIG, Ludhiana range, claimed that due to high alert in this area, the smugglers had not been unloading poppy husk in the region. He added that though the police had made two big seizures of poppy husk, one in the Khanna area and another in the Jagraon police district area, in the recent past, these were not related to the harvesting season.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, said though no significant jump in the smuggling of poppy husk had been witnessed in the area so far, the de-addiction camps being run by the police for the past three months had been adversely affected as most of the addicts were now busy in the harvesting operations.

He added that the district police authorities were concerned over the fact that a number of addicts, who had been treated successfully at these camps would again fall victims to addiction as they would get their poppy husk dose easily during the harvesting operations.

Over the past many years, it has become a trend among the farmers of Punjab to supply an adequate quantity of poppy husk to migratory as well as Punjabi labourers, to extract maximum work from them during the harvesting season.

Mr L. K. Yadav, SSP, Muktsar, pointed out that intensive efforts by the police to check smuggling revealed that a large section of people had adopted a unique modus oprandi. They would smuggle poppy husk in large quantities and store it at different places to be used easily during the harvesting season.

He said during the past few days, the police recovered huge quantities of poppy husk, which was stored by a section of the smugglers and farmers in their dwellings for use during the harvesting season.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Bathinda, said the district police authorities had been taking the help of elected representatives of the villages and members of rural youth clubs to get information on the activities of the smugglers. 


Gang of drug traffickers busted in Nawanshahr
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Narco-terrorism is on in Punjab. In fact, the busting of two different gangs possessing 18 kg of drugs in less than a fortnight is enough to establish that the battle being carried out from across the porous border has only intensified — at least this is what cops in the state are claiming.

The cops assert that the gravity of the situation can be assessed from the fact that in Punjab on an average almost nine cases under the provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act are registered daily.

After the Excise Act, maximum number of cases under the category of Special Laws are registered against drug-peddlers. On an average, 41 cases under the Excise Act are registered every day.

One of the gangs, involved in drug-trafficking, was busted after the Punjab Police carried out a joint operation with the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) at Nawanshahr today. Twelve kg of contraband was areportedly recovered from the gang members after a barrier was set up to nab the culprits on the basis of a tip-off.

The value of the contraband is running into crores. A Chandigarh-based ex-army officer, allegedly having close links with notorious criminal Charles Shobraj, has also been rounded up by the NCB for questioning in the case.

Earlier, 6 kg of contraband was allegedly recovered from an accused in the Prabir kidnapping case. This is, perhaps, the first time in the recent past that the Punjab Police has managed to recover “such a big haul in such a short duration”.

The number of cases under the NDPS Act was less than 1800 in 1999. It increased to 3,405 in 2002. It touched an all-time high the next year, when 3,545 cases were registered. The number came down to 3,226 due to the active involvement of intelligence agencies in the state.

It is expected to decrease further this year following the stepping up of the campaign against drug-traffickers in the state by the Punjab Police in close association with the NCB and other Central agencies, sources in the Punjab Police headquarters claim.

Giving details of the smuggling activity in this part of the region, Inspector-General of the Punjab Police (Jalandhar range) S.K. Sharma said drugs mainly come to the state from Punjab border, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat-Kutch area and the North-East.

“The hub of activity is Delhi,” Mr Sharma asserted. “The big-time smugglers get the contraband from all over and distribute it among the agents for further transmission. The efforts have been intensified. This is just the beginning”.


Nine crime suspects brought to Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 16
Nine Bangalas, suspected of involvement in several incidents of looting dacoity and murder in Punjab, were brought here by the Phagwara Sadar police and taken on police remand yesterday. A gang of Bangalas was arrested by the Ludhiana police sometime back.

They are suspects in the murderous attacks on BJP leader Ram Saroop Arora last year. Mr Harbans Singh of Gandwan village a few months back and dacoities in Kishenpura, Sant Nagar, Sikri and Rawalpindi villages. Those brought here included Surti, alias Metal, Birju, Sanyasi, alias Deepak, Sonu, Balkar, Bhanglo, Surjit, Makhni, and Nath.


Computer parts stolen

Abohar, April 16
Thieves decamped with computer parts and other electronic goods reportedly worth Rs 3 lakh in the wee hours here today.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Pappu, a resident of Nai Abadi, found the locks of his video mixing centre broken at 9.30 am.Cabinets of three computers, CTV and other equipment were intact but unidentified miscreants had stolen mother boards, video recorder, mixing cards, and CD writers valued at Rs 3 lakh.

Other valuables taken away by the thieves included video mixer, scanner, and panasonic handy video camera. Surprisingly, the shutter of the first floor shop was found intact. Before leaving the shop premises ,the thieves made a picture of a bleeding heart and a rose on a monitor. — OC


Man involved in dacoity arrested
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 16
The police today claimed to have arrested a man allegedly involved in the robbery of a Jalandhar jewellery shop on April 4.

Addressing a press conference, the SSP, Mr A.S Rai, said the police nabbed Sukhwinder Singh of Fatehabad (Haryana) who reportedly admitted to have planned and executed the Jalandhar dacoity from where jewellery worth Rs 25 lakh was looted.

The police had seized a .315 countrymade pistol, two fake pistols and 270 gm of gold from Sukhwinder Singh.

Sukhwinder Singh said he was accompanied by Ranjit Singh, Harjinder Singh and Davinder Singh when they robbed the shop.

The SSP claimed that the accused was also involved in looting Rs 5.30 lakh from Allahabad Bank on February 16 in Ambala. In this case, his accomplices were Ranjit Singh, Harjinder Singh and Sandeep Sharma.


Cyclist dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 16
Natha Singh died and his son Sukhwinder Singh, pillion rider, was injured on the GT Road near Chachrari village on Thursday night.

The deceased belonged to Takhar village near here, was going on his cycle. The cycle was hit by a truck.

Sukhwinder Singh has been hospitalised. A case has been registered.


1 killed, 3 hurt in boiler blast
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 16
One person was killed and three others were injured in a boiler blast in the Vishnu Processing Mill at Verka.

The deceased has been identified as Atma Ram. The police has registered a case.


Family suicide case: 1 more body recovered
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 16
The body of Gurmeet Singh, who along with his family jumped into the Bhakra canal on April 9, was recovered from the canal near Patiala yesterday.

His wife’s body was recovered from the canal in Morinda yesterday. Her body was identified by her relative. However, the bodies of three minor children are still missing.

Gurmeet Singh along with his family was on his way to in-law’s house at Brahmpur Jimidara village, near Morinda, when they jumped into the canal


Confiscation of calculators irks students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 16
The Agriculture Students Association condemned the alleged oppressive and biased action of the university observer’s team or the flying squad in the statistics paper of M Sc Agriculture first year, conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

The association alleged that the flying squad confiscated the scientific calculators from the students in view of the university circular. However, the syllabus for the master degree programme in Agriculture clearly stated that the scientific calculators were allowed during examination.

Mr Anantdeep Singh Dhillon, secretary of the association, said due to this action, the students were unable to complete their answers. He said if the students could not clear the examination, they would have to appear next year, as there was not supplementary examination for the master’s degree.


Need to strengthen research
capabilities highlighted

Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Dr S Dalal, Director Research and Medical Education (DRME), Punjab, gave a call to develop and strengthen National Research Capabilities in conformity with the internationally accepted standards. He cautioned the researchers that the rights of patients should be protected at all costs. Dr Dalal was in city to inaugurate the symposium on ‘‘Advances in Clinical Research’’organised by the Department of Pharmacology, Christian Medical College and Hospital today.

Dr S K Agarwal, President of the Indian Pharmacology Society, said in his message ‘‘as a nation we can survive only if we build our own research potential, otherwise we would have to pay a heavy price in the form of patent fee. Due to enormous investment involved in drug research, it becomes imperative that national research capabilities be pooled together to collectively take up the challenge of global competition and generate internationally accepted data.

Prof P.L Sharma, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmacology, PGI, said Good Clinical Research Practice (GCRP) was an international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing, conducting, and recording clinical trials and compliance with this standard provided assurance that the rights, safety and well being of the trial subjects were protected as per the principles laid down in the "Declaration of Helsinki." The two-day inter-state symposium was inaugurated today by Dr J.S Dalal. Dr John Pramod, Acting Director of CMC, told that the purpose of this programme was to train medical researchers in Good Clinical Research Practices Guidelines as prepared by International Consensus Conference on Harmonisation. Dr Mohan Verghese, Principal, Medical College, Dr J Joshi, Principal, Christian Dental College, Dr Prem Khosla, organising secretary told that this would benefit clinical researchers in Punjab as usually such workshops were held at far off places and were very costly. Dr Dinesh Badya proposed the vote of thanks.


Protests planned in ITIs against privatisation
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 16
The Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) and the Punjab Students Union (Randhawa group) have decided to stage protest demonstrations-cum-rallies in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) of Punjab on April 19 at Barnala, Patiala, Faridkot, Budhladha,Sunam, Moga, Bathinda, Nawanshahr, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore to express resentment against the Punjab Government’s move to hand over ITIs to private concerns.

Stating this here today Mr Sanjiv Mintoo, state president, PRSU, said the decision to oppose the move was taken at a meeting of the PRSU held at the ITI Barnala on April 15. This meeting was attended by the state president of PRSU, Mr Sukhcharanpreet, a Punjabi University students union leader and Mr Krishan Pandhi, PRSU president, ITI Barnala unit.

The PRSU leaders flayed the Punjab Government’s move to privatise various government departments, including ITIs, and primary education institutions. The PRSU adopted a resolution assailing the Punjab Government’s move to privatise government primary schools in the state. The meeting decided to oppose tooth and nail the privatisation policies of the Punjab Government.

The PRSU leaders expressed concern over the fact that the Punjab Government was neither filling vacant posts of Instructor nor providing apparatus for practicals in ITIs. They regretted that for want of Instructors equipment worth crores was being wasted.


Punjab schools not to be privatised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab Government today went back on its stand of privatising school education in the state. The state’s Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, today clarified that the privatisation of state schools was not on the government’s agenda.

The statement came in less than a week after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that about 2,000 schools would be handed over to private parties, resulting in criticism by several political parties.

Mr Johar said government teachers were not lagging behind as far as teaching and qualifications were concerned. He added that the need of the hour was to motivate the teachers to produce better academic results and proficiency.

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