P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CPI, CPM to launch stir against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The CPI and the CPM, which have decided to launch a joint struggle against the proposed privatisation of the health services, education and the PSEB and other public sector undertakings, said today that the politicisation of historic Sikh religious occasions and the political exploitation of Sikh religious sentiments by the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh and the Akali parties should be stopped immediately.

Announcing the struggle against privatisation at a joint press conference here, the secretary of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, and the secretary of the CPM, Prof Balwant Singh, said that India was a secular state and the role of the elected governments at the national level and in the states was clearly defined.

The government’s job was to provide transparent, corruption-free and efficient governance and not indulge in religious activities. They said that it was the job of religious bodies like the SGPC to celebrate such religious occasions. The government had a defined role to make arrangements for people participating in such functions, they added. Such occasions should be celebrated by all Punjabis and Sikhs and the government and political parties should not take political advantage of such affairs, they added.

The two leaders announced that their parties would hold a joint convention in Jalandhar on May 10 which would be followed by marches in the state against the process of privatisation initiated by the government. The next programme of struggle would be announced after the completion of the marches.

Criticising the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, they said he was leading the privatisation campaign.

They said the state government had failed on all fronts. Corruption was increasing. Leveling serious allegations, they said, the proposals to sell government property such as sugar mills worth several crores for a few lakhs of rupees was to line the pockets of those who took the decisions to sell. Without levelling a direct allegation against any government functionary, they said that such decisions were taken by the Council of Ministers.

They sought a bonus of at least Rs 200 per quintal to compensate farmers for the 15 to 20 per cent fall in the wheat production besides the postponement of the recovery of all loans and financial help to the farm labour. Clearance of the dues of bonus was also demanded by them.


Sarpanches form brigades against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 30
The privatisation move of the state government has forced sarpanches of 83 villages to form brigades. They have also issued signed statements against it.

According to sources, village panchayats have started motivating youth clubs, teachers, and doctors to constitute brigades. Anti-privatisation rallies have also started in villages under leaders of various teachers’ union. Poor strata of society and women are joining the agitation in large numbers. Dulewala sarpanch Surinder Singh said he was forming a brigade to maintain whatever amenities poor were being provided. He said he had called a meeting in this regard and they would not allow any sector to be privatised.

Sadhana village sarpanch, Sewak Singh, has withdrawn his children from a private school and admitted them to a government one. He has become a role model for villagers. He said he had made up his mind to constitute a brigade to rescue their local school and hospital. Gumtiwala sarpanch, Dungar Singh, said the village panchayat would not allow its school to go in private hands at any cost. For this a brigade was being formed, which would oppose the move tooth and nail. He said instead of treading this path the government should fill up the posts lying vacant in its schools.

Rampura Panchayat Union chief Jarnail Singh has called a meeting in this connection in the first week of May. He would announce the future course of action after formation of a committee. Ghandabanna sarpanch, Naseeb Kaur, said she was drawing an action plan to save rural schools and hospitals. Koloke sarpanch, Gurdeep Kaur, Harnamsinghwala sarpanch, Manjeet Kaur, and Sandhu Khurd sarpanch, Gurjant Singh, have also expressed their solidarity with the anti-privatisation brigade. Similarly, 43 sarpanches of the Nathana block have also joined hands with this brigade.

Government schoolteachers yesterday organised a rally to make people aware of the ill-effects of the privatisation in Kotha Guru, Maluka, and Dayalpura Mirja villages. School children also took part in the rally. Sources said Dalits would also form committees to oppose the government’s move. Youth clubs were also becoming active in the rural areas, which certainly augurs bad for the Amarinder Singh’s government.


Beas erodes farmers’ land
No funds to check erosion: DC
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Dhilwan (Kapurthala), April 30
Scores of farmers tilling their fields on the banks of River Beas in Dhilwan sub-division are up in arms against the administration for not being able to build a revetment to hold back their land which is fast getting eroded, following a change in the course of the river in the last few years.

Hundreds of acres of land of Chakoki, Batala, Haibatpur and other villages, falling on Kapurthala side, has sunken into the river in the last five years. Farmers claimed that the pace at which the phenomenon had been occurring was increasing steadily ever since the Drainage Department of Amritsar district had started constructing a revetment on the other side to protect their piece of land.

The farmers apprehended that the river would further eat into their land as the Amritsar department had recently started extending their revetment further at a cost of Rs 1 crore by erecting huge stones across another 600 metres of the bank. The farmers said that they were not averse to the protection measures being taken by administration of the other district but they were certainly disappointed with the Kapurthala administration for not adopting similar measures for the security of their land.

The farmers said that they had been running from pillar to post demanding some compensation for their lost land but to no avail. Mr Gurmail Singh, who claimed that nearly 15 acres of his land falling in Batala village had submerged in the waters, said that he had made every effort to waken up the administration for the purpose. “I have given the copies of representation to every officer concerned including the Deputy Commissioner but no one has come to our rescue till date,” he said.

Mr Gurinderjit Singh, sarpanch of Chakoki village, said that he, too, had been demanding that the land of the farmers of his village be safeguarded but he said that his complaint was not being redressed.

Mr Iqbal Singh, a farmer and block president of Bharti Kisan Union, Dhilwan, said that he had lost his entire stretch of land extending up to 12.5 acres to the river. He alleged, “The work on Amritsar side was going at a steady speed as the officers of the Amritsar administration were working at the behest of a religious sect that had a huge land under cultivation just across the river.”

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, Assistant Engineer, Verka Drainage Department, Amritsar, who was at the site on the other bank of the river, said that since lots of soil had been going into the water each day, the land had to be safeguarded. He, however, denied the claim of the villagers saying that the revetment would not harm the land on Kapurthala side.

Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, said that he was aware of the situation but he was helpless as there were no funds for the purpose.


Rise in level of Bhakra Dam
Tribune News Service

Nangal, April 30
With a 33-ft increase in the water level of the Bhakra Dam in Nangal yesterday compared to that of last year due to melting of snow in the catchment areas, the Bhakra Beas Management Board authorities are hopeful that North India will get regular supply of water and electricity from the dam this year.

“There was heavy snowfall in the catchment areas this year. As many as 6,700 mm of snowfall recorded in upper hills (the catchment areas) compared to 4000 mm last year. As the snow has started melting, there has been an increase of 33 feet in the water level of the dam this year,” said a senior official of the BBMB on condition of anonymity.

The water level of the Bhakra Dam was 1,529.37 ft yesterday while last year the water level was 1,496.94 feet. Similarly, in generation there was an increase of 24.01 lakh units yesterday compared to last year. The total generation in the Bhakra Dam was 147.44 lakh units while last year the generation was 123.43 lakh units.

The inflow and outflow of water was in an equal ratio yesterday while last year there was a lot of difference between inflow and outflow. The inflow of water in the Bhakra Dam was 16,562 cusecs yesterday and outflow 16,550 cusecs while last year the inflow was 10,424 cusecs and outflow 15, 800 cusecs.

The official denied reports that the water level of the Bhakra Dam had been rising significantly following release of water from the artificial Pareechu lake formed in China.


DIG unmasks Canadian guard posing as top cop
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 30
Inderjit Singh Gill, alias Dhanota, was nabbed by the Ludhiana police on April 22 for impersonating as a Canadian Police Commissioner. He entered the high security Police Training Academy at Phillaur.

He was given a guard of honour and "addressed" nearly 400 trainees there. He walked away in his white Quails with a red light on top and tinted glasses.

Gill, who was given a security cover of an ASI and two constables by the Punjab Police, also met a couple of senior police officers in "full uniform" in Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

He managed to reach the DIG, Ludhiana, Mr Parag Jain's office amid "salutes". He introduced himself as Police Commissioner of Calgary in Canada, whereas in fact he worked there as a security guard and allegedly arranged his uniform from there. Mr Jain got suspicious of his blue uniform.‘‘I got suspicious when an alert looking Gill walked into my office and behaved slightly unlike a police officer by pleading the passport case of an official of a hotel where he was staying. So, I asked an SP to keep a watch on his movements, which, led to his arrest,’’said Mr Jain.

His "official trips", according to top police sources, were to the high security Police Training Academy at Phillaur and to the Central Police Office (CPO) in Chandigarh, where he was reportedly given full honour. Interestingly, he wore two stars, similar to the ones adorn by Indian police officials and which are not part of the Canadian Police uniform.


31 awarded Police Medal
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 30
An ADGP of the Punjab police got the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service while four cops received Police Medal for Bravery and 26 other officers were presented the President’s Medal for Meritorious Service at the annual Passing Out Parade at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy here today. Nearly 900 trainees from Bhutan, Punjab and other part of the country passed out of the academy.

The trainees heaved a sigh of relief as they had to stay for a month more in the academy even though their courses were completed by the end of March and results announced immediately thereafter. The unprecedent delay took place as the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, could not find time from his busy schedule to take salute from the parade.

Ultimately, Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Rural Development, Panchayat, Irrigation and Power, took salute as the chief guest in the parade where the DGP, Punjab, Mr S.S. Virk, was conspicuous by his absence. It had become a norm for the last several years that the President’s Medal and awards to the trainees were presented by the Chief Minister or at least by the DGP.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lal Singh announced a grant of Rs 11 lakh for the academy, which was urgently required for various purposes, including the upkeep of the theatre hall and the historic fort in which the academy is housed.

The ADGP Training-cum-Director of the academy, Mr Chander Shekhar , was presented with the prestigious President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service by the chief guest. Mr Harpreet Sidhu, AIG, Litigation, was awarded First Bar to Police Medal for Gallantry. He won the medal for the second time.

Showing exemplary courage and taking personal risk he had led a police team in rescuing a seven-year-old child held hostage by the kidnappers in Adarsh Nagar Jalandhar. Along with him, Head Constable Jaswinder Singh of Gurdaspur and Head Constable Pushap Bali of Jalandhar were also given the Police Medal for Gallantry.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SP, CM security, was given the medal for displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty for killing two terrorists in an encounter in 1992.

Twentysix officers were awarded the Police Medal for Meritorious Services. Mr Rohit Choudhary, Mr I.P.S. Sahota, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, Mr Parag Jain, Mr Balbir Kumar Bawa, all IPS officers, Mr Narinder Bhargava, Mr Mander Singh, Mr Harinderjit Singh, Mr Rajinder Kumar Sharma, and Mr Ragbir Singh all PPS officers. Mr Balwinder Singh (Inspector), Mr Rajinder Singh (Inspector), Mr Ajit Ram (Inspector), Mr Lakwinder Singh (Inspector), Mr Jagjit Singh (Inspector), Mr Devinder Singh (Inspector), Mr Satpal Singh ( SI), Mr Santokh Singh (SI), Mr Manjinder Singh (SI), Ms Rajinder Kaur (L/ SI), Mr Baldev Singh (ASI), Mr Amrik Singh (HC), Mr Suresh Pal (HC), Mr Tejinder Singh (HC), Mr Satnam Singh (HC) and Mr Ranjit Singh (CT).


Ripudaman to move higher Danish court
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Mr Ripudaman Singh, a young Sikh pursuing higher studies in Denmark, has filed a petition to seek the permission of the city court of Copenhagen to file an appeal in the higher court against the judgement which declared him guilty and fined him for carrying a six-inch kirpan in the second week of this month.

Mr Ripudaman Singh, who is a baptised Sikh and has been moving about in Denmark to educate people about Sikhism, its religious symbols and Sikh culture, had, in fact, himself declared his kirpan to the security at the US Embassy in Copenhagen a year ago. He was given an assurance by the security that his kirpan would be returned to him. However, the security called the police which, in turn, charged him with carrying a “ dagger” with a length exceeding 7 cm. Mr Ripudaman Singh contested the case in the court but lost. He was fined 3,000 kroner (Rs 24,000) or six days in jail in case of failure to pay the fine.

Mr Ripudaman Singh’s father, Mr G.S. Lamba, an income tax advocate settled in Jalandhar, told The Tribune on the phone today that with the help of the committee of experts appointed by the SGPC, he was preparing the appeal which would be part of the petition to be filed in the higher court in Denmark by his son.

The operative part of the judgement says “pursuant to the forensic report from the weapon section of the national commissioner’s office, the court finds that the kirpan is a knife and not a dagger or a tool. Reason being that even though the kirpan is not sharp edged, according to the report, it has a sharp point. The forensic report does not specify the difference between a knife and a dagger.”

However, the court recognised that it was prescribed for a baptised Sikh to carry a kirpan as a religious symbol. But on the basis of the wording of the legal provision and its preparatory works, the court did not find that carrying a knife for religious reasons was covered by the exemption in the provision. Taking this plea, a fine was imposed on Mr Ripudaman Singh. The court also upheld the confiscation of the kirpan and also asked him to bear the costs of the case.

Legal experts here have been encouraged by the fact that the court has recognised the kirpan as a religious symbol. On this basis, a case can be built for presentation in the higher court against the punishment. Justice K.S. Tiwana, a retired Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was guiding the experts’ committee on this legal issue, said Mr Lamba. Denmark is also a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights on freedom of religion and the principle of necessity and proportionality when restricting that freedom.

Though Judge Henrette Sartvin took notice of the convention, he did not elaborate on it while writing the judgement.

The SGPC authorities had written to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh to take up the issue with the Danish Government for allowing religious freedom to Sikhs in that country, said Mr Lamba.


From factory worker to a millionaire
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Lakhmer Singh Klar
Lakhmer Singh Klar

Chandigarh, April 30
A decade ago, Mr Lakhmer Singh Klar, was just another NRI employed in a factory and settled at Summerland in British Columbia in Canada. However, within a decade, he became the most popular face not only in that part of Western Canada but also in other provinces. He has achieved phenomenal success in the manufacture of truck and pick-up van covers made of fiberglass.

Business is booming so much that his annual turnover has touched $50 million in a short span. More than 200 whites and others work in his factory and other outlets owned by him. Mr Klar who migrated from Machhiwara, near Samrala, to Canada in 1972 after doing M.A. in Public Administration, draws most of his workforce from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. " I was looking for employment after doing post-graduation. However, no job was available. But I was lucky to get a visitor visa to Canada. On reaching there I applied for permanent immigration", he said.

Mr Klar, who is here on a short visit and is exploring the possibility of setting up a unit at Ludhiana, says he is running sale centres in Edmonton, Vancouver, Surrey, Tacoma, Seattle and Oregon. Also, he has sale outlets in Uzbekistan. Though he has made big in Canada, his foremost interest continues to be community service.

Along with 22 other well-meaning Canadian citizens, he has set up a committee for overall development of the Okanagan region spread over 100 km.

" In coordination with each other, we have planned a homogenous development of various parts of the region with over 3.5 lakh population ", says Mr Klar. The Federal and Provincial Government has also supported our projects. We have brought the regional campus of the University of British Columbia to our region. It has proved boon for our children who, otherwise, had to travel 250 miles to reach the university campus. An engineering college, a medical school and an agriculture institute has also been set up in the region.

Obviously, there is a lesson for those who talk loud about the backwardness of their respective regions in Punjab but do nothing constructive.

" Yes, well-meaning citizens can follow our model here and can do a lot for the development of Majha, Malwa and Doaba regions", he adds. " Without a serious effort at the community level, no region should expect wonders on the development front", he adds. "

Mr Klar has been on the governing body of Okanagan University College, and also Chairman of the Summerland University Committee.

Back home he has been donating money liberally. A few months ago, he donated Rs 1 lakh to a local educational institution. He is on the governing council of Girls College, Machhiwara. Politically too, he is well connected. His daughter is married to the son of Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, an Akali MLA from Samana. His wife, Harminder Kaur, has been a brilliant hockey player. In 2003, Mr Klar was declared Summerland Man of the year.


Minister calls on agitated MLA
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 30
In an apparent bid to appease disgruntled congress leaders, Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Rural Development, Panchayat, Irrigation and Power, today met Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal, Congress MLA from Noormahal, at his house in Phillaur.

Both the leaders discussed certain issues relating to the Punjab State Electricity Board. Mr Atwal earlier held the portfolio now held by Mr Lal Singh.

Mr Lal Singh refused to comment on the purpose of his meeting with Mr Atwal who has been vociferous in his criticism of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in the recent past, especially over the CM’s difference with another leader Jagmeet Singh Brar. Mr Atwal first told mediapersons that Mr Lal Singh had requested him to remain silent but then said he was just joking.


Insurance policies given to BPL families
Tribune News Service

Khanauri (Sangrur), April 30
Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, a Judge of Supreme Court of India, today distributed 250 universal health insurance polices of Oriental Insurance Company Limited among the members of the below poverty line (BPL) families of seven villages of the Moonak and Khanauri areas at a function here. The money for the premium of all these insurance policies had been paid by some social workers on behalf of the beneficiaries. Each beneficiary had been insured for Rs 30,000 in case of accidental death and for Rs 25,000 for the treatment of disease.

Earlier, Mr Justice Bhan inaugurated Babu Brish Bhan Municipal Library, set up in memory of his late father Babu Brish Bhan, a freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of PEPSU, here. Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, unveiled the life-size statue of Babu Brish Bhan, installed in the library complex. Mr Justice Bhan also laid the foundation stone of a municipal park, to be set up in memory of his late father Babu Brish Bhan here.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Justice Bhan urged the people to follow the path, shown by freedom fighters, religious personalities and leaders of the country.

Mr Husan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the Babu Brish Bhan Municipal Library. He also promised that the district administration would fully extend its help to the Khanauri Municipal Council in the setting up of the Municipal Park.

Mr Hardayal Singh Kamboj, Administrative Member, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB); Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Sangrur; and Mr Vipin Garg, Assistant Administrative Officer (Development), Extension Counter, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, Moonak, also addressed the gathering.

Among others who were present on the occasion included Mr K.K. Garg, District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur; Mr Surjit Singh Dhiman, MLA from Dirba; Mr Dharam Pal Gupta, SDM, Moonak; Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur; Mr Sham Singh Makror, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Sangrur; and Mr Girdhari Lal Garg, president of Khanauri Municipal Council.


Poor get poor food, CM orders probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 30
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has ordered a Vigilance inquiry into alleged supply of substandard food to weaker sections of society under the Central Government’s Supplementary Nutrition Procurement Scheme.

Under the scheme, the government supplies biscuits, ‘panjeeri’, cereals and ‘murmura’ and other food stuff to pregnant women of weaker sections and those in the age group of 11 to 18 who are physically weak, besides children up to the age of six. The scheme is being implemented through zila parishads and anganwari kendras in rural areas in collaboration with the CDPO.

Mr Bhagantpal Singh Sachar, vice-chairman, Zila Parishad, Amritsar, in a press conference here today, demanded the transfer of the ADC, Development and the Member Secretary of the scheme in the light of serious allegations and a subsequent inquiry ordered into it.

The matter was brought to the notice of Choudhry Jagjit Singh, Minister, Local Bodies, at a public grievances meeting held here a few days ago. Meanwhile, the DGP, Vigilance, marked the inquiry to the SSP, Vigilance, here today.


NRIs? Please tune in to Radio Montreal for legal help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
A local company, Selene Solutions, has launched a free legal helpline for Non-Resident Indians (NRI) on Montreal's 24-hour Radio Station 'Humsafar'.

The helpline was inaugurated here yesterday by former Punjab Advocate-General H.S. Mattewal.

The one-hour monthly segment produced by Selene Solutions will be broadcast on the last Friday of every month at 6.30 AM (IST). It can be listened worldwide through internet at www.humsafarradio.com.

Inaugurating the free legal aid service for providing consultancy to non-resident-Indians (NRIs), Mr Mattewal said the Punjab Government should set up a commissionerate for expeditious redressal of civil and criminal problems of the expatriates. The commissionerate should be given powers to adjudicate on NRI-related matters, he said.

Mr Mattewal said NRIs generally complained of harassment by revenue and police officials in India. Their properties are usurped by greedy friends and relatives for which the NRIs find themselves ill-equipped to fight protracted legal battles in Indian courts since they can not remain away from their adopted country for long. This discourages them from making investments in India.

Speaking on the occasion, a spokesman for Selene Solutions disclosed that a similar segment launched last year on Toronto Radio's Asian Connections programme received overwhelming response from the NRI audience.

He said the company had formed a panel of experienced advocates for providing free on-air consultancy to expatriates. The panellists include Mr Sukhbir Mattewal, Mr R.S. Bajaj and Mr Sartej Narula, all practicing lawyers in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He stated that Radio Humsafar, Montreal, covered audiences in Winnepeg, Ottawa and California in the USA, besides catering to netizens worldwide.


More roads to be built by multinationals
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 30
The Punjab Government plans to open the road sector to multinationals. Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works, Culture and Archives, stated this while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He said the move was aimed at improving basic infrastructure in the state with private participation. Future road projects that could be offered to multinationals on a built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis included the nine high traffic density corridors spanning across the state. These corridors would be four-laned.

Under the BOT policy, entrepreneurs are allowed to collect toll under model concession agreements. The road sector for which private investment would be invited would be treated as industry. Cent per cent foreign direct investment (FDI), exemption from tax for a period of five years and 30 per cent relief for the next five years would be offered to entrepreneurs investing in the sector.

The concession period could be allowed up to 30 years, depending upon the investment involved and traffic density on the road. Duty-free import of specified modern high capacity equipment for the construction of highways would also be allowed.

Mr Bajwa said in view of the success of private entrepreneurs in construction of overbridges to ease traffic in metros, Punjab too had decided to consider the same.

The four-laning of ring roads in Ludhiana and Bathinda, an elevated highway to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and railway overbridges in Jalandhar and the Ropar bypass were some of the projects that would be thrown open to multinationals.

The Chief Minister had written to the Union Government to increase the state’s allocation under the Centre Road Fund (CRF), Mr Bajwa said.


Nanaksar sect resents move on memorial
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, April 30
Saragarhi Memorial Gurdwara, built by the British in memory of 21 Sikh soldiers who died fighting against heavy odds while defending the Sargarhi post of Fort Lockhart in the North West Frontier Province on September 12, 1897, is in the midst of a controversy due to a tug of war between followers of the Nanaksar sect on one side and the state government and the Army authorities on the other.

The recent move of the district administration to seal one of its portions, including Dewan Hall and the Gurmat Academy, has left the followers of the Nanaksar sect high and dry, who term it as breach of faith after spending lakhs on the site.

The memorial, which comes under the state government, had been designated as a protected monument under the National Monuments Act, 1924, with the SDM being the ex-officio manager-cum-secretary. In 1998, following a demand of Sikh devotees, a ‘Sachkhand Hall’ was constructed by followers of the Nanaksar sect at a cost of around Rs 80 lakh.

Thereafter, the followers constructed 11 more rooms in the Saragarhi complex for which permission was not sought from the Contonment Board, Ferozepore (CBF). The Nanaksar Trust started a Gurmat Sangeet Vidhalya in these rooms to impart English, computer, music and Gurmat education.

The CBF objected to the construction, terming it illegal.

An action committee was constituted to take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

On March 23 this year, when the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, visited this town to pay homage at National Martyrs Memorial, Hussainiwala, the matter was brought to his notice. He personally visited the gurdwara and passed some instructions. Thereafter, the district administration sealed the Sachkhand Hall and Gurmat Sangeet Vidyalaya much to the discontent of the followers of the Nanaksar sect, who termed it highly unwarranted and disruption of the academic session of students.


Memorial arches to be ready soon
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 30
Construction of a memorial park in remembrance of 40 ‘muktas’ would be completed within 15 months at the cost of Rs 1.9 crore, said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Dalip Kumar, stated this while interacting with mediapersons here today.

The DC said that the administration had already received the first instalment of Rs 70 lakh for the project from the state government. He said a model of this park would be put on display at the forthcoming martyrdom tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’. He said the government had also released the first instalment of Rs 50 lakh for the construction of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Stadium.

He said the work on four memorial gates on Kotkapura, Bathinda, Malout, and Ferozepur roads, was in full swing. Speaking about the roads, he said the Punjab Mandi Board had already completed the work of laying premix on the city’s seven roads at the cost of Rs 1.85 crore. He said Rs 70 lakh were granted to the Municipal Council for roadwork and other small works in the city. He said Rs 32 lakh were given to the electricity board to set up a hotline and ensure 24-hour power supply to the city.

The ADC, Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, said that Guru Gobind Singh’s clothes and weapons would be put on display for the devotees on May 4. Later, the DC held a meeting with various voluntary organisations in this connection.


No system of registering grievances of ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Despite the Punjab Chief Minister’s orders, no formal system of registering grievances of ex-servicemen has been introduced by the Department of Sainik Welfare in the state.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Chairman of the All-India Veterans’ Core Group, Brig H.S. Ghuman (retd), said it was the lack of such a system that was resulting in corruption.

Several ex-servicemen were also present on the occasion.

“Had such a system been implemented, the incident in Bathinda where a departmental officer had been caught red-handed accepting a bribe, would not have happened,” he said. “The responsibility and blame for this lies not on one person but the entire departmental setup and the chain of command,” he added.

Brigadier Ghuman said apart from individual culprits, there was also a need to take note of those who failed in their duty to supervise and monitor the activities of their subordinates.

Ex-servicemen also voiced their dismay over public land being encroached upon by persons having political clout. Stating that even portions of defence land has been encroached upon, Brigadier Ghuman said the Defence Ministry had not been able to come up with any solution to this problem, perhaps to please certain political leaders.

Meanwhile, Ms Anoop Saini, wife of Lieut-Col S.P. Singh, who had reportedly accepted bribe from a martyr’s family, has claimed that her husband had been implicated in the case. Alleging it to be a pre-planned conspiracy master minded by a departmental officer, she stated that her husband was not given a confirmation later on the completion of his probation period and that he was working under pressure due to circumstances in the department.


A neglected subdivision
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 30
In the absence of basic amenities residents of Dhar Kalan subdivision near here are feeling neglected. Almost every section of society comprising more than 50 villages is feeling isolated. Not only local residents but employees posted in this subdivision are also harassed due to lack of adequate transport facilities.

Government employees find it difficult to reach the office in time in the absence of proper transportation.

Employees hailing from Pathankot have to go by buses plying from Pathankot to nearby hill stations which leave them on main roads, while they have to attend their offices in interior areas. In some cases, employees have to walk miles for office.

Employees working in this subdivision have demanded that the government should provide residential accommodations near their offices. Interestingly, more than 10 SDMs have been transferred from this subdivision in the past four years.

Agriculture is the main avocation of this subdivision. Since there is no purchase centre here, poor farmers have to come to Pathankot for selling their produce and spend money on transportation.

Though this subdivision was created after much hue and cry by the ‘Zila Banao Sangarsh Samiti’ here by the then Chief Minister, Mr Harcharn Singh Brar, except for creation of a new subdivision nothing was done for overall development.

Womenfolk face a number of problems, specially in summer, as they face acute shortage of water. In some villages they are forced to drink contaminated water. Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA, who also represents Dhar Kalan, said the government had formulated a comprehensive plan for the overall development of this area and funds to the tune of Rs 1 crore had been disbursed to the sarpanches of the Dhar block for development purposes.


Plan to make Rajindra Kothi a heritage hotel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Patiala Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUPDA) today authorised the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs to explore the possibilities of developing Rajindra Kothi at Patiala as a heritage hotel with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on a lease basis.

The decision was taken during the sixth meeting of PUPDA held under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

A spokesman said PUPDA also approved the grant of Rs 233.79 lakh for “Central Vista” in the Baradari Gardens. It PUPDA also approved the grant of Rs 50.04 lakh for the heritage boundary wall, along with Rs 19.06 lakh for a footpath and boundary wall.The spokesman further said the project of augmentation and water supply scheme at Patiala had been taken in hand with the financial support of the state government and National Capital Region Project Board (NCRPB), New Delhi, at an estimated cost of Rs 5999.23 lakh.


Vigilance begins probe into relief scam
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 30
Acting on the report of Mr Ajoy Sharma, former SDM, Dhar Kalan, the Vigilance Department has started a probe into distribution of relief to unauthorised persons on the basis of tempered revenue records by the Ranjit Sagar Dam authorities.

Many heads may roll in the scam, say sources.

Though officials of the Vigilance Department are tightlipped over the matter, the sources say a high-level team has begun verifying the records in this connection.

According to the sources, land measuring 1,938 kanals was to be acquired by the dam authorities. Some miscreants, in connivance with revenue officials, tempered with the revenue records. They put a zero and converted 1938 kanals to 10,938 kanals. Later, they received payment for the “land”.

Mr Joginder Singh Chhina, a senior Congress leader, said the payments were made during the SAD-BJP regime and a sum of Rs 5 crore was distributed among unauthorised persons in connivance with revenue officials.

He demanded a CBI probe into the matter.


Contest for best singer on May 8, 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society is holding a singing contest for best singer award for male and female in junior and senior categories on May 8 and 15 at 8 a.m. at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, Chandigarh.

Male singers in both categories will sing Rafi’s songs and female singers Lata’s.

The winner in each category will be awarded and the first and the second winners will be honoured with runners-up trophies. These awards will be given away by a film personality in the society’s annual feature Rafi Nite in November.

For further details contact 0172-2654685.


DD staff hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 30
The Joint Forum of the Doordarshan Kendra Employees Union has decided to boycott their salaries.

The employees, who sat on a dharna in front of the D.D. Kendra here for the second day today, said salary was their fundamental right and yet salaries were refused on account of stir of administrative employees.

Representatives of various staff associations addressed the dharna and criticised the “rude and dictatorial” attitude of the Director.


high court
Notice issued
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 30
The Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta on Saturday issued notice of motion for May 11 on a PIL seeking direction to the Punjab Government to regulate the functioning of various private nursing training institutes in the state.

The petitioner, Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar, has stated that a large number of nursing institutes in Punjab are functioning illegally and irregularly. No rules or guidelines are being followed.

In addition to this they also lack adequate infrastructure.

He has also stated in many cases the institutes admit students belatedly. He has prayed that these institutes should be directed to follow guidelines.

The case will now come up on May 11.


50 cases disposed of in lok adalat
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 30
Around 122 cases were taken up at a quarterly lok adalat held at all judicial courts at Patiala here today. As many as 50 cases of various categories were disposed of on the basis of compromise between the parties and Rs 35.14 lakh was awarded as compensation.

Mr S.M.S. Mahal, District and Sessions Judge, Patiala, told mediapersons about the advantages of cases settled through the lok adalat. He sought their cooperation in disseminating information to general public about the free legal aid schemes in operation for the benefit of the downtrodden. He also appealed to the public to come forward for the disposal of their cases in lok adalats.

A seminar was also organised by the Assistant District Attorney (Legal Services), Mr Rakesh Kumar Soni, at Bahadurgarh yesterday.


Husband of acid attack victim dead
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 30
The case of acid attack victim Sunita Sharma, who has been accusing her husband Sanjiv Dutt, of being involved in the conspiracy when she wanted to get divorce from him, has taken a new turn as he died at 5.30 am at Saroya village yesterday. The police on Friday registered a case against Sunita Sharma, his employer Ujjagar Singh Suri, and Bahadur Singh of Suri Hospital, Balachaur, under Sections 302/ 34 of the IPC at the Pojewal police station. The case was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Navdeep Dutta, sister of Sanjiv Dutta.


Supervisor attacked, exam cancelled
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 30
An examination supervisor, Prof Rajesh Gupta from Barnala, was assaulted today with sticks by three unidentified boys, when he was entering Akal Degree College, Mastuana Sahib, near here. Professor Gupta reportedly received internal injuries on his back. The police has registered a case against three unidentified persons. The medical examination of the supervisor was done at the Civil Hospital here.

Professor Rajesh Gupta said this morning three unidentified boys attacked him from behind and fled away. He said the B.A. part-I (Literature) examination of all languages, which was to be held in the morning session today, had been cancelled following the incident. He claimed that the examination staff of the Mastuana College had been receiving threats from students for past 20 days for not allowing some students to copy in the examinations. Despite bringing this issue into the notice of higher authorities, no steps had been taken for the safety of the staff, he added.

Prof Baljit Singh, Deputy Registrar, Punjabi University, Patiala, who was on flying squad duty to check the examination centres in the area, immediately rushed to the Mastuana college. He also said with the consent of university authorities, today’s morning paper had been cancelled and it would be taken later. While other examinations scheduled on May 4 and May 6 in the Mastuana College centre, would now be held at the Punjabi University campus. The examination centre of the Mastuana College had been cancelled and shifted to the university campus by the university authorities.

Mr Hardip Singh, SHO, Sadar Police Station, Sangrur, said the police had registered a case under Sections 353, 186, 323 and 34 of the IPC against three unidentified persons.

Prof R.S. Brar, co-president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) and Prof P. K. Sharma, district president of the PCCTU, today condemned the attack on Prof Rajesh Gupta. They asked the Punjabi University authorities to provide police protection to the staff on duty in the examination centres. They also demanded arrest of the “culprits” immediately.


Literacy programme launched
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today launched the Integrated Computer Technology (ICT), a computer literacy and computer-aided learning programme which aims to bridge the divide between convent and government-run schools, at Government Senior Model School, Civil Lines, here.

In the first phase of this project, which aims at imparting computer education in government-run schools, 1,299 schools across the state, each having 300 students, will be covered. In all, 7.5 lakh students of the total 13.2 lakh students studying in government schools in Punjab will benefit.

The government has constituted the ICT Education Society under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. The Principal Secretary (School Education) and the Director-General (School Education) will be the vice-chairperson and chief executive officer of the society, respectively.


DC distributes fans to schools
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 30
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today visited schools in rural areas to deliver ceiling fans after himself inspecting school rooms, which were without fans. Staff and students of Government Primary School, Sirhind, Government High School, Harbanspura, Government Elementary School, Khanpur, and Government High School, Ajnali, were surprised when the Deputy Commissioner’s car entered the schools. He checked the rooms while the staff thought he was inspecting schools on some complaint. But after some time all became cheerful when ceiling fans were taken out from the car and handed over to the staff of the schools. He also cautioned the staff that he would visit again to see whether the fans had been installed or not. He distributed 20 ceiling fans to schools today.

While talking to mediapersons, the Deputy Commissioner said it was unfortunate that certain schools had no ceiling fan in classrooms and no arrangement for drinking water. He said that he decided to utilise the Red Cross Fund for providing these two basic facilities to students in summer. The Red Cross Society had purchased fans worth lakhs of rupees and he himself would visit every school to assess the requirement, he added. He said that his office had been flooded with requests for ceiling fans. It was unfortunate that certain school heads had requested for more than 10 fans while during his visit to the schools he found that only three fans were required.


Bir Devinder threatens dharna
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 30
The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has threatened to stage a dharna in front of the Punjab Secretariat in case his meeting with senior officials failed to yield the desired results.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who was addressing parents at a parent-teacher meeting at Government Model Senior Secondary School here today, said that he would be meeting the secretaries of the education and finance departments on May 4 to discuss the problems being faced by the school.

He wanted that the model school, which was the first of its kind in the district, should be given adequate facilities. He would be requesting the authorities concerned to do the needful. In case nothing came out of the meeting with both senior officials, he would be compelled to stage a dharna along with students and their parents.

He said that the Principal of the school had failed to make use of a grant for Rs 10 lakh for the school, which he had managed to get from the Chief Minister’s quota. The Principal, however, said that the money could not be utilised as she did not have the drawing and disbursement powers.

Among the parents, who highlighted the problems being faced at the school, were Mr Darshan Singh Sodhi, Mr Shiv Arora, Mrs Gurjeet Kaur.


Students asked to pay internship fee
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 30
As many as 16 students of SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences fear discontinuation of internship by the management.

On April 19, the institute had put up a notice asking students to pay Rs 6,000 as internship fee. Students claim that according to MCI (Medical Council of India) guidelines, each student appearing for internship is eligible for a stipend of up to Rs 2,400 a month.

“In contrast to this, the SGPC-run institute is charging us money without any legal sanctity,” allege the students.

As many as 24 students have complied with the demand for internship fee while 16 students have not paid the amount. The institute has set May 1 as the last date for payment of fee.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director and Principal of the institute, when contacted, evaded a reply and said the SGPC secretary was alone authorised by the SGPC institute trust to give statements.

Mr Dilmegh Singh, secretary of the SGPC, said he would look into the matter.

The students say all medical colleges, government and private, are paying stipend to their interns.

Meanwhile, the boys’ mess in the institute has remained closed for the past one month. A majority of boys have reportedly left the hostel.


Students protest against sell-off move
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 30
Students of government schools at Jandawala, Jidda, and Khemuana, along with their parents and teachers, today protested against the privatisation move of the Punjab government.

A large number of women attended the protest rally, which passed through the narrow by-lanes of Khemuana. Children were holding placards having anti-privatisation slogans inscribed on them. Youth Welfare Club chief Gurpreet Singh said they would not allow privatisation of government schools at any cost. He said they would organise people against it in the neighbouring villages also.

Democratic Teachers Front’s block chief Paramjit Singh said the government move would take away education from poor section of society. Protesters pledged that they would not allow the government to go ahead with its plan. Front leader Lal Singh and ETT union leader Jagsir Sahota said the government was playing with the future of poor students.

Meanwhile, teachers and residents of Chughe Kalan also raised their voice against privatisation today. The villagers later converged at the local gurdwara and pledged to continue their struggle.


African engineers get training in Batala
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 30
Twentythree engineers from Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya have been undergoing training at the Institute for Machine Tools Technology (IMTT), Batala, since April 25. Their training will last till May 13.

This is the fifth batch of engineers, being trained under the UNIDO-sponsored Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) programme with the support of International Centre for Advancement of Manufacturing Technology (ICAMT).

The General Manager-cum-National Project Coordinator, Mr Paramjeet Singh, said here yesterday that UNIDO had funded training for 400 persons from the African Continent in three or five years.

The training is being given on machine tool technology, farm enquipment, total quality management, computer-aided manufacturing, engineering goods manufacturing and foundary technology, he said.

Dr Gitanjali Chaturvedi, National Expert, UNIDO, said the Government of India and UNIDO were keen on expanding the activities in state government-UNIDO project at the international level, specifically for African countries, as part of South-South cooperation initiative of the government.


Harsh Mittal 3rd in XII (non-medical) exam
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 30
Harsh Mittal has done this district proud by securing third position in Class XII (non-medical group) exam conducted by the Punjab School Education Board.

Harsh, a student of the local SSD Senior Secondary School, secured 393 marks out of 450.

Talking to this correspondent Harsh said, “It is like a dream come true. I have been waiting for this moment since the day I took admission in Class XI.” He said it was due to the blessings of his parents and support of his friends. He said self-confidence and hard work were responsible for his success.

Harsh, who was preparing for various competitive exams, had already cleared the IIT screening. When asked about his future plans he said he would opt for engineering in biotechnology and then sit in civil services examination.

Ms Shankuntala Mittal, a mathematics teacher, in a private school, said she was sure that her son would make her proud one day.


Budha Dal team wins declamation
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 30
The All-India Human Rights Association (AIHRA) organised an inter-school declamation contest at the Army School here yesterday.

The contest, which attracted entries from as many as 16 schools of the city, was inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, while Brig D.S. Grewal was the guest of honour.

Students expressed their views on various aspects of protecting human rights and the topics ranged from Child Labour, Emancipation of Women — a Myth or Reality to Adult Education.

Budha Dal Public School, Samana, bagged the first prize in the team event, while Army School was placed second. In the individual section, Harleen Kaur of Budha Dal Public School stood first while Shruti Kamra of Kendriya Vidalaya-1 and Ankit Garg of St Peters Academy came second and third, respectively.

Lipsy of Budha Dal School, and Nitan Singh of Army School were declared best speakers in English. K. Priyanka of Army School was adjudged the best speaker in Hindi, while Shweta Chugh of Veer Haqiquat Rai School was given the prize for being the best Punjabi speaker.


Mass Com students seek grace marks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 30
Students of Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication (PGDJMC), appearing through distance education programme of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) at local Swami Vivekanand College, alleged that their fourth examination of public relations, advertising and photography, which held here yesterday, was not of the prescribed pattern of GNDU.

The students said the pattern of the paper was entirely changed. They said they were not given any prior information regarding the change in the pattern of question paper. The agitated students demanded grace marks from the university authorities concerned.


Parents want grace marks for wards
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 30
Hundreds of parents of Class VIII students in a press note issued here today have strongly criticised the decision of the Punjab School Education Board for not granting extra grace marks to Class VIII students. They termed the board’s decision as arbitrary and discriminatory.

Comparing Class VIII students with those of Class X students the parents said Class X students enjoy the facility that if they fail in two subjects, they are not considered as fail rather they get compartment, whereas in Class VIII if the students fail in two subjects they are considered as fail.

They termed it as injustice to the students. They demanded that either Class VIII students should be given extra grace marks or compartment system should be introduced, so that they may not lose a year.


Re-exam sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 30
Students of MA Part I (Punjabi) today alleged that 60 per cent of their fourth paper was based on the old pattern. They staged a dharna against it on the premises of Rajindra College. They demanded that today’s paper should be re-conducted on May 4.

Most of the students had come out of the examination hall even before it ended.

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