P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal alleges attempt to weaken SGPC
Move on Haryana gurdwara panel
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) President and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal today warned the Congress government in Haryana against any attempt to create separate gurdwara management committee there. He said the Haryana Assembly was bringing in a legislation to create a separate management committee for the gurdwaras in that state.

He told The Tribune here today that “this was a deep-rooted conspiracy by the Congress to weaken the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest representative Sikh institution”. Mr Badal disclosed that he had convened an emergency meeting of the political affairs committee (PAC) of his party tomorrow in Chandigarh to discuss the issue. He said the SGPC had also convened a similar meeting on the issue. He asserted that: “no Sikh will tolerate the weakening of the SGPC as it will have dangerous repercussions”.

The Akali Dal supremo alleged that the Congress had always tried to sabotage and undermine the authority of the highest Sikh religious institutions. He claimed there was a strong bond between the Sikhs, the SGPC and the Akali Dal. “The motives are obvious to weaken the SGPC and consequently the Sikh identity”, he alleged, while adding that the Sikhs would not hesitate in resisting the move in all possible manner.

Mr Badal maintained that the former Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, had committed to Master Tara Singh that there would be no amendment to the SGPC act and it would always remain unaltered. He pointed out that it was widely known as the Nehru-Tara Singh pact, signed between the two leaders.

When asked as a section of Sikhs, including the President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr P.S. Sarna, had also supported the setting up of a separate management committee for the Haryana gurdwaras, Mr Badal remarked: “it is too obvious as for whom such leaders were speaking". He regretted that certain Sikh leaders were playing into the hands of the Congress to weaken the SGPC, which had been set up after lot of sacrifices. “But we will not allow it to happen.”


Govt has failed on all fronts: Badal
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will highlight the “failures” of the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab. It will also intensify its campaign against the government.

In an exclusive interview with TNS today, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, said the Congress government in Punjab had failed on all fronts. Corruption had crossed all limits and the government had failed to provide employment to the youth, who were becoming restless, he said.

Discounting the claims of the state government that the fiscal situation had improved, Mr Badal said if that was the case, where was the need for privatisation of education and health.

Mr Badal said the government had decided to “sell Punjab to the private sector”.

The government would now sell cooperative mills, instead of improving their functioning. “This will be another racket after the auction of liquor vends in Punjab to Ponty Chadha, he said, demanding a CBI probe into the auction of the liquor vends.

Mr Badal said the government was claiming to have set up mega projects in the state, whereas it was not true. Signing of MoUs did not mean that industrial units had been set up the state. On government claims about the IT revolution, he said the much-talked-about IT park by Quark was also a big scandal in the state.

Mr Badal said Quark had been allotted 50 acres in Mohali, which was now being converted into residential plots and the land was being sold at higher prices.

Charging Capt Amarinder Singh with interfering with the religions affairs of Sikhs, Mr Badal said the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was functioning against the SGPC.

He opposed the move of the Haryana Government to set up a separate gurdwara committee.


SGPC toes DSGMC line on turban issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
The SGPC seems to have adopted the line of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) at least on ‘turban issue’. The decision to put off the visit of SGPC delegation to France has been taken in order to involve the Central Government.

A unanimous resolution had been passed by a Sikh conclave organised by the DSGMC to approach the Centre for taking up the issue with the Government of France. The Sikh conclave, held at New Delhi on May 16 under the chairmanship of Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, President, DSGMC reads, “Since Sikh religion had its origin in India, the Indian Government owes it to the Sikh community to protect and defend the distinct identity of Sikhs in form and spirit throughout the world. The gathering demanded that the Central Government, led by Dr Manmohan Singh, should use all channels, including the diplomatic ones, to mobilise world opinion in this regard”.

Similarly, adopting the line of DSGMC, the SGPC has sought time from Prime Minister through the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Mr Charnjit Singh Atwal, before sending its delegation to France.

The Sikh conclave of DSGMC was represented by members of almost all factions of the Sikh community, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli of SAD (Longowal), Mr Kanwarpal Singh , general secretary Dal Khalsa and Mr Jagmohan Singh Tony, general secretary, SAD (Amritsar). Interestingly, renowned Sikh educationists, including Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur, a former PVC, GND University and Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, were members of the sub-committee which had drafted the resolutions, that were unanimously passed by the Sikh conclave.

The meeting had also opined that the services of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, of the state, could be used for resolving the turban issue as he had taken up the issue of release of detainees from Pakistan jails by taking up the matter with the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf.


Controversy surrounds trust named after militant
Militant’s widow re-marries
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Warring groups today crossed swords over the possession of the Dharm Singh Khalsa Trust (DSKT) where 125 wards of the slain militants, including a son of Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, slain chief of the Bhinderanwale Tiger Force, are being brought up.

The recent provocation is the marriage of the widow of Dharm Singh Kashtiwal , Bibi Sandip Kaur Kashtiwal, chairperson of the DSKT, named after her husband who was killed in an encounter with the police in 1992. Kashtiwal was the Deputy Chief of the Babbar Khalsa International and in charge of the Majha zone.

The marriage of the widow sparked a controversy as the trust had been receiving huge funds from all over the country and abroad.

The parents and brothers of the slain militant alleged that Bibi Sandip Kaur had no moral right to run the trust after her marriage with Mr Baljit Singh Khalsa, editor of a monthly magazine, who was already married and father of three children .

However, most of the inmates of the trust justified the marriage as per the provisions of Sikhism. They claimed that Mr Khalsa had married Bibi Sandip Kaur after the consent of the wife and children of the former.

However, the parents of Bibi Sandip Kaur said the second marriage of their daughter was arranged near Phagwara with their consent.

The trust was formed in 1996 and its inmates received education with funds received from all over the world. The son of Bibi Sandip Kaur has been studying at Dagshai Public School, one of the top schools of the country. However, Bibi Surjit Kaur, mother-in-law of Bibi Sandip Kaur said the family would approach Akal Takht regarding the possession of the Trust. Ms Jasbir Kaur, mother of Sandip Kaur said her daughter had struggled a lot to bring up children of slain militants and it was their desire to get her re-married.

The situation on the trust premises is tense as both warring groups have assembled there to take its possession.


Land prices go up as growth rate slides
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Punjab is witnessing a strange paradox. Over all, Punjab’s economy is not booming but growing at the slackest average rate of 3.5 per cent, which is almost half the national growth rate. But there is a big boom in the price of agricultural and other landed properties in the recent months.

The price of land has been going up in the countryside. In the past few months, there has been 100 to 200 per cent increase in the agricultural land prices in various parts of the state.

A survey made by The Tribune has revealed that the price of agricultural land along the main national and state highways has been going up. And the rise is not only confined to rural areas. Even in haphazardly developed towns such as Samana, Patran, Bareta, Maur, Zirakpur, Lalru, Kharar, Samrala, Khanna, Nawanshahr, Jagraon and Kotkapura the price of landed properties has been shooting up. The price in the border belt of Amritsar is going up most rapidly.

Such a boom in the land prices has never been seen earlier. In fact, not only Punjab, but also Haryana is also experiencing the same development. Land prices in the Sirsa-Hisar-Fatehbad belt have gone up fast. And the same is true in case of other Haryana towns, which are comparatively better planned and developed than that of Punjab.

Asked about the phenomenon, people said either it were corrupt bureaucrats, police men, politicians and other officers were making huge ‘benami’ investment in the landed properties or big traders and colonisers from Punjab and even from Delhi were on the land buying spree.

Move a little distance from Chandigarh towards Patiala on the Zirakpur- Patiala road, the price of the land along the road near Chat and Rampur Kalan village, about 7 km from Zirakpur, has gone up to Rs 40 to 50 lakh per acre. Last year, it varied between Rs 20 lakh and 25 lakh.

When asked, Mr Sarabjit Singh, a Nabardar of Rampurkalan village, said: “It was never so good for us before. Every morning one hears about the new rate. It is perhaps our proximity to Chandigarh that prices are shooting up,” he added.

And most of the buyers have been adopting an unusual kind of modus operandi. “They give token money to several parties and sign agreements with them. But in the end, buy only from a few select parties and never ask for the return of the token money from other parties,” said Mr Gurchet Singh of Nabha village, near Zirakpur.

Mr Manjit Singh, a resident of Kauli village, near Patiala, said that in his area the price along the main highway varied between Rs 25 lakh to Rs 35 lakh per acre. However, the rate is less at a distance from the main highway. At far away places from the road, the price of agriculture land varies between Rs 5 lakh to 10 lakh depending on its location, facilities for irrigation etc.

Mr Sarabjit Singh said a few years ago, the price in the area was only in thousands of rupees per acre. But now the same land has turned into a goldmine, he added.

After selling their landed properties at a high rate to, most of the farmers living in villages near big cities such as Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda move to remote villages. Because of this cyclic effect, land price has gone up even in the villages far away from the urban settlements. 


PM is PPCC delegate from Amritsar (Urban)
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and former MPs, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Mr Varinder Kataria, and former All-India Youth Congress chief, Mr Manish Tewari, figure in the list of the delegates of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) approved by the Returning Officer of the State, Ms Ushabhen Thakkar.

The election process is likely to be completed by May 30.

Though Dr Manmohan Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha, he has been elected from Amritsar Urban. Ms Ambika Soni has been elected from her home district of Hoshiarpur, while Mr Varinder Kataria and Mr Jagmeet Brar have been elected delegates from Ferozepore.

Mr Vijay Saathi, who lost the last Assembly election from Moga, also could not make it to the delegates’ list.

The present Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has been elected a delegate from Ludhiana. Whether he gets the party high command’s clearance for continuation in office remains to be seen. The list as approved by Ms Ushabhen Thakker may not be to the exact liking of the present Pradesh Congress leadership, making the election of the chief interesting.

While the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Darbari Lal, has been declared elected from Amritsar Urban, the name of the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, is missing from the list. Otherwise all members of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party, sitting party MPs — Ms Ambika Soni, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, Ms Preneet Kaur and Rana Gurjit Singh — and most of former Congress MPs from the state — Mr Varinder Kataria, Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, Ms Amarjit Kaur, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Umrao Singh, Ms Santosh Chaudhary and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo — have been declared elected delegates of the PPCC.

Notable omissions are of former Chief Minister, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, wife and ex-MP, Ms GK Brar of Muktsar and Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib (Ludhiana). Ms Babli Brar, however, has been among the elected. Ludhiana has the maximum number of delegates — 29 — followed by Amritsar 26. In all, the delegates’ list includes 221 names in which some names, including those of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Varinder Kataria and Ms Ambika Soni, appear under more than one heads. For example, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal figures in the list of the PPCC members elected from amongst the CLP as well as a former chief of the PPCC. Interestingly, her name does not appear in the list of delegates elected from Sangrur. In case of both Ms Ambika Soni and Mr Varinder Kataria, they have been elected both from their respective districts as well as from the former PPCC chiefs group.

Eleven MLAs elected from the CLP are Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Ram Lubhaya, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Mr Tej Parkah Singh, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, Mr Parkash Singh Saini, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Mr Lov Kumar Goldy and Mr Raj Khurana. Incidentally, this is the list in which one-time pro-Bhattal loyalists dominate. Some of these names, say sources, did not figure in the original list sent by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.


Over 17 B.Ed colleges functioning without principal
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, May 22
More than 17 non-government B.Ed colleges have been functioning without a principal in Punjab. In most of these colleges an officiating principal is discharging the duties of a principal. The management of these colleges cites the reason that they are not getting a qualified person for the post.

These colleges are demanding that the age of retirement of principal and staff should be fixed at 65 for the self-financed colleges. It will help them to get qualified candidates for the colleges. Moreover, according to the guidelines of the National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE), the age of superannuation of staff is determined by the policy of the government or affiliating university subject to a maximum age not exceeding 65 years. But the three universities of Punjab — Punjabi University, Patiala, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Panjab University, Chandigarh — have not given any approval to this guideline. At present the retirement age of the principal and staff is 60 years for the unaided in the state. In aided colleges the age of retirement is fixed at 58 years.

Mr Ranjit Singh Ghumman, Dean (Development Council), Punjabi University, Patiala, said, “We have given affiliation to 11 B.Ed colleges out of which only two colleges are functioning without principal. A meeting of the College Development Council was held recently and we passed a resolution that the principal up to the age of 62 can be appointed. An approval from the academic body and the Syndicate of the university is pending with regard to the resolution. It can take three months”.

Mr Amarjit Dua, Dean (Development Council), Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, said they had written to the college managements to appoint a regular principal a number of times but they have failed to do so. “We are looking into the matter and we will definitely come out with a solution soon”, he said.

Mr B.D. Budhiraja, Dean, College (Development Council), Panjab University, admitted that most of the colleges did not have a regular principal and qualified staff. “At the last Syndicate meeting it was decided that B.Ed colleges should first appoint the staff, only then the affiliation will be given. We will send a team to colleges for the inspection so that affiliation is given only to the deserving colleges. We have been sending the letters to those colleges who don’t have the qualified staff and principal. Most of the unaided colleges fail to pay good salaries to the staff due to which they don’t get qualified staff,” Mr Budhiraja said.

Ms Satinder Dhillon, Senator of three universities, said, “Many colleges have the required infrastructure and NOC (no objection certificate) but they don’t have the qualified staff which is affecting the working. I raised the issue at the last meeting of the Senate, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Vice-Chancellor, K.N. Pathak, gave an assurance that a committee would be formed to look into the matter but nothing has been done so far”.


Family struggles to perform last rites of NRI
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Mukerian, May 22
Family members of Daljit Singh, who had been working in Portugal for the past five years and died under mysterious circumstances, are waiting to perform his last rites. Daljit was working as a cook in a restaurant owned by Satwinder Singh, an NRI, at Algarve city.

Daljit’s son, Bikramjit Singh, who is living along with his brother and mother at Tanda Ram Sahai village, near here, said on May 9 they got a phone call from Satwinder that his father was found dead in a park. On further inquiry, Satwinder told him that Daljit had left the job around 15 days before his death.

However, Bikramjit alleged that his father had died under mysterious circumstances. His employer did not want to pay them the dues. Due to this he had concocted a story that his father died in a park.

My father had been working in the restaurant since he went to Portugal. In telephonic conversations before his death Daljit Singh never indicated that he had any intention of leaving the job.

The family requested Satwinder to either send the body to India or send them a sponsorship so that they could travel to Portugal to perform his last rites. However, the employer had declined both their requests. He was instead insisting on them to send a no-objection certificate so that Daljit could be cremated in the absence of his family.

Bikramjit further said the family was dependent on the remittances send by Daljit. After his death the entire family had been rendered destitute, he added.


BSP launches dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
The Bahujan Samaj Party today kicked off an indefinite dharna in front of Talwandi Sabo police station on the issue of a clash between landlords and Dalits of Bhagwanpura village. However, the police and civil administration succeeded in getting it lifted.

The SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, and the DC, Mr Rahul Bhandari, rushed to the scene to strike a compromise between the two parties, but failed. The dharna was lifted after the police ordered a high-level probe into the matter. The GA to DC, Mr Kuljitpal Singh Mahi, would now investigate the case.

The state BSP leader, Mr Jagdeep Singh Gogi, alleged that the landlords of Bhagwanpura had beaten up Dalits and then got a “false case” registered against them. He said they had postponed their protest in view of the administration’s assurance.

Sources said sons of a few landlords were passing through a Dalit area the other day where they confronted Balvir Singh, a Dalit. Both the groups had a clash over the road taken by them. Men from both the parties reached there and some of them also sustained injuries.

On the basis of landlord Jeet Singh’s statement, the police registered a case against Balvir Singh, Jaswant Singh, Thana Singh, Ghona Singh and Prithi Singh under Sections 341, 427, 323, 148, and 149 of the IPC.

Later, the police registered a case against Paramjit Singh, Chhota Singh, and Kafi Singh, under Sections 323 and 341 of the IPC, and the SC/ST Act, 1989, on the statement of Raj Kaur, wife of Balvir Singh.


SAD panel to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
A meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will be held here tomorrow according to a press note issued by Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Secretary of the party.

He said that the PAC would chalk out its strategy on the issue of proposed separate Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee for Haryana. The ruling Congress in Haryana is moving fast to set up such a committee there. The SAD is opposed to such a committee. At present, most of the Gurdwaras in Haryana are managed by the SGPC headed by Bibi Jagir Kaur.


Saragarhi complex in midst of controversy
Anirudh Gupta

FEROZEPORE: The historic Saragarhi Memorial Gurdwara, built by the British in memory of 21 Sikh soldiers who died fighting against more than 10,000 Pathans while defending the Saragarhi post of Fort Lockhart in the North-West Frontier Province on September 12, 1897, has become a bone of contention between followers of the Nanaksar sect and the state government.

This memorial, which was declared open on January 18, 1904, by the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir Charles Montgomery, has been in the midst of controversy for quite some time but the recent move of the district administration to seal one of its portions has raised uncomfortable questions.

The memorial, which is under the management of the state government, had been designated a protected monument under the National Monuments Act, 1924, with the SDM being the ex-officio manager-cum-secretary. In 1998, the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on the demand of Sikh devotees, recommended in a letter addressed to the CEO of the Cantonment Board of Ferozepore (CBF), through the SDM, permission for the construction of the Suchkhand Hall on the premises of the memorial complex.

The CBF vide its resolution no 213 dated December 26, 1998, permitted the gurdwara management to construct a hall measuring 75 ft by 125 ft in the Saragarhi complex. The task of construction of the proposed hall was voluntarily undertaken by people representing the Nanaksar sect on behalf of the Baba Nand Singh Baba Ishar Singh Charitable Trust. The followers of this sect claimed that Sant Baba Nand Singh had performed penance at the very same place in 1912-13 and since that time, his successors, Baba Ishar Singh and Baba Sadhu Singh, had organised a divan every year at that place.

Since 1998, Baba Lakha Singh and other followers of the Nanaksar sect have been managing virtually all affairs of the memorial and gurdwara, which has been raised eyebrows. Thereafter, followers of the Nanaksar sect constructed 11 more rooms in the Saragarhi complex for which permission was not sought from the CBF. The Nanaksar trust started Gurmat Sangeet Vidyalaya in that portion for imparting English, computer, music and Gurmat education. The CBF issued notices under Section 184 of the Cantonment Act, 1924, dated December 8, 2003, and later under sub-section 185 dated January 6, 2004, to the SDM for unauthorised construction of the 11 rooms in the complex.

The SDM wrote back to the CBF requesting composition of the unauthorised construction (letter no 3000/SDA dated May 19, 2004). He wrote that since as per mutation no 29 sanctioned on January 6, 1945, the land (khasra no 126) measuring 64 kanals belonged to the state government, the CBF should have no objection to the construction of the rooms meant for religious purposes.

The memorial site is spread over 6.64 acres (survey no. 114) and is classified as B 2 land. But the CBF neither regularised the construction nor compounded it.

The Saragarhi Memorial and Ethos Forum, through its secretary, Capt Amarjit Singh Jaijee, also wrote to the Chief Secretary on June 5, 2004, to order the removal of the unauthorised construction undertaken in the memorial complex in disregard of the provisions of the National Monuments Act. Objections were also raised to the presence of the followers of the Nanaksar sect in the complex. However, the administration, allegedly under political pressure, did not try to resolve the issue.

Finally, when ex-serviceman Angrej Singh, who was working as a granthi in the gurdwara, was allegedly manhandled and thrown out, devotees and the Army authorities decided to act. 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 the National martyrs Memorial, Hussainiwala, the matter was once again brought to his notice. Thereafter, the district administration sealed the Suchkhand Hall and Gurmat Sangeet Vidyalaya. Members of the Nanaksar sect described it as unwarranted and a breach of faith. A former Special Secretary to the Government of India, Mr A.M. Prasad, a follower of the Nanaksar sect, said here that the move of the state government to seal a portion of the memorial was unjustified. He said that there no intention of the Nanaksar sect to encroach on land and every single penny being spent by their trust here was in the interest of Sikh devotees.

Master Choor Singh said that their trust had already spent around Rs 80 lakh on the beautification of the memorial. Further, an amount of Rs 1.20 crore had to be spent on a beautification drive. Moreover, he expressed concern over the fate of the students of Gurmat Sangeet Vidyalaya, whose examinations were to be held in September. Another follower, Mr Bilamber Singh, said the state government has taken this extreme step because permission to undertake construction was given by the previous Akali government.

Mr Lalit Sharma, who, along with four others, was working as a lecturer at Gurmat Vidyalaya, said the Nanaksar sect was spending Rs 30,000 every month on the 25 students getting education at the institution but this step had ruined their future.


Withdraw heritage dossier, council asks Centre
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, May 22
Though the SGPC has rejected the nomination of the Golden Temple as Unesco’s world heritage site, the Government of India has not withdrawn the nomination.

Saying this, the World Sikh Council, American region, today asked the Sikhs to organise peaceful protests if the government failed to withdraw the proposal till June 1. It said the government was dragging its feet on this issue and continued to interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs.

The council, an elected body of gurdwaras and institutions in the USA, has written to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, officials of Unesco and the US mission to Unesco, urging them for the immediate withdrawal of the nomination.

Dr Anahat Kaur, vice-chairperson of the council, said officials of the World Heritage Centre said only the Government of India could withdraw the nomination.

She said the council had reviewed the dossier and termed it as misleading having serious flaws that were objected by the Sikhs. She said the fundamental argument set forth in the dossier that “Darbar Sahib represents the cultural heritage and uniqueness of Indian civilisation” was misleading and incorrect.

The council called upon the other Sikh organisations across the world to contact their respective country’s Unesco delegation for expressing their resistance against the inclusion of Darbar Sahib in the World Heritage Site list.


Pathankot to have food processing unit: Ashwani Kumar
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 22
The Pathankot subdivision of Gurdaspur would soon get a food processing unit. Mr Ashwani Kumar, Rajya Sabha member, said this while addressing a workers’ rally here today.

He told that he had discussed the issue of establishing a food processing unit in the Pathankot area with the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister had assured him that the said unit would be established in the area very soon. The food processing unit besides providing employment to the youth would also help promote horticulture in the area.

Mr Ashwani Kumar said the Prime Minister had also been requested to give some big project to the Majha region. The oil refinery project would benefit the economy of the Malwa region in a big way, he added. However, a similar industrial unit should also be planned in Majha region to help the sagging economy of the region.

The CII would soon launch a project worth Rs 20 lakh on the empowerment of women in the Gurdaspur district, he said.

The rally was organised here by the local MLA and chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma. Mr Sharma while speaking on the occasion said the Pathankot area had seen a lot of development during the rule of the present Congress government.

The modernisation of emergency unit of the Pathankot Civil Hospital, widening of the Kali Mata Mandir Road and strengthening and widening of rural roads were some of the projects taken up during the tenure of the present government.

Though the rally was organised to strengthen the base of the Congress in the area, factionalism in the party came to the fore once again. Congress leaders owing alliance to another Rajya Sabha member from the district, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, chose to stay away from the rally of Mr Ashwani Kumar. The entire group of the local councillors, led by the council president of Pathankot, Mr Sharwan Kumar, did not attend the rally.


175 found diabetic at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
A free medical and gynae detection-cum-check up camp was organised at gurdwara, street no.2, Guru Nanak Nagar, here today.

A team of doctors from Garg Mission Hospital, Model Town, Patiala, led by Dr Naresh Garg (diabetes specialist) and Dr Meena Garg examined the patients.

Free blood sugar tests, ECG and blood pressure tests were conducted on patients and free medicines were given to the poor and needy.

In all, 324 patients attended the camp out of which 175 were found to be having diabetes, 194 were found to be hypertensive, 55 had heart problems and 114 had both diabetes and hypertension.

Fiftythree patients of gynaecological disorders were examined out of which 49 had anaemia, 8 had menopausal problems or uterine tumours.

Obesity and lack of exercise were found to be the main causes of diabetes and high blood pressure. Later talking to media Dr Naresh Garg said the incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure was increasing in the world and more so in our country.

Dr Garg added that there were about 2 crore diabetes patients in India at present and this number was going to increase three times in another 15 to 20 years.

Obesity, overweight, lack of physical exercise, sedentary life style, eating more fats and junk food, smoking and excessive drinking were some of the reasons for increased incidence of diabetes, Dr Garg added.

With changes in lifestyle, weight reduction, regular exercise, control over use of alcohol and smoking and proper treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure, these complications could be controlled and avoided, Dr Garg said.


Indo-Pak conference from May 24
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
Indo-Pak conference to study, analyse and highlight contribution made by scores of people’s organisations towards initiating and strengthening cause of peace and friendship between the two nations would be hold jointly by South Asia Partnership (SAP) and civil society peace initiatives organisations in Lahore.

About 30 eminent intellectuals, academicians, journalists and professionals from India would leave for Pakistan on May 23 to participate in the four-day conference.

The conference has been planned as an attempt to understand and comprehend the work done by various NGOs for establishing people-to-people contact and usher in peace in the subcontinent, stated Mr Ramesh Yadav, president, Folklore Research Academy, here today.

The conference would commence on May 24.


Acid attack victim gets aid for treatment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Sushila (50), who was admitted to the local Guru Nanak Dev Hospital by the Pingalwara, was the only patient left in the skin surgical ward as other patients had vacated the ward for fear of infection.

There was no separate room for Monika, who was admitted to the hospital following an acid attack by her husband. Doctors referred her to the PGI, but she did not have any body to bear the costly treatment there.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state BJP vice-president, came to her rescue and took her to Amandip Hospital, where doctors promised treatment free of cost for the patient.

Her husband Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Karnal, is still at large after the acid attack on April 26. Talking to TNS, the victim alleged that her husband used to beat her up everyday for being issueless.

Ms Chawla said the Deputy Commissioner had given Rs 20,000 for the victim’s treatment while she had given Rs 10,000 from her pocket.


Dr Sohal honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
Dr Hardip Singh Sohal, Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon at Aggarsain Charitable Eye and General Hospital, Patiala, was honoured by the Rotary Club Patiala Mid Town for his services towards mankind.

Mr Devi Dayal Goyal, President of the club, applauded the efforts of Dr Sohal in the upliftment of the downtrodden and his services towards poor patients. Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, member of the club and acting president of the S.D. Kumar Sabha, highlighted various achievements of Dr Sohal in the service of society. He said Dr Sohal had retired as Professor of Orthopaedics from Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital, and had joined Aggarsain Charitable Hospital in spite the fact that he got various offers from leading institutes in the country. He was credited with the treatment of approximately 50,000 outdoor patients after his retirement totally free of cost and approximately 2000 major and minor operations at very less charges.

While speaking on the occasion Dr Sohal said key to healthy life is mental balance and tension free nature. He also spoke about the affect of aging on bone and joints and stressed that people should not blindly follow various TV programmes on health, and health talks by non-professionals and one must do regular exercise in consultation with a qualified doctor.


Residents want road widened
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
The joint action committee of various localities today lamented that the district administration was not paying heed to its demand for widening the Dr Mela Ram Hospital road as per the scheme of 60 foot road.

The convener of the committee, Mr M.M. Behal, today said they had been raising the issue at various platforms for the past over six months and they had also held a dharna on December 5 last year. He said the widening of the road would facilitate smooth flow of traffic towards Vishal Nagar, Panchvati Nagar, Green Avenue, Tagore Nagar and New Shakti Nagar. He said the committee met with the authorities concerned and also submitted detailed memorandums, but to no avail.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, the committee stated that a local court had dismissed the case filed by a party seeking stay against widening the road, but even then the MC had not taken steps to widen the road. The committee has decided to organise a protest on the issue on May 29.


Batala-Rayya road in disrepair
Balraj Mahajan

Batala, May 22
Over 37-km stretch from Batala to Rayya of the Batala-Jalandhar road is in bad shape. It is full of potholes.

Everyday hundreds of vehicles pass through this road. It is an ordeal for drivers to negotiate the rough patches all along the stretch.

The road is used not only by a large number of common people but prominent leaders belonging to all parties, including Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister; Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Ashwani Sekhri and Mr Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa, all Parliamentary Secretaries, and Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, MLA, Dhariwal, go by this road very frequently. However, it is surprising that nobody has paid any attention to repair it properly.

Only patch-work is done which does not last long. This stretch hardly looks like a road; it is just a stretch of dust.


Foundation stone of link road laid
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 22
The government has chalked out a comprehensive plan to improve the condition of the roads in the state and it is spending Rs 1,300 crore on recarpeting and widening of roads, Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, said while addressing a gathering at Balhari Khurd village, after laying the foundation stone of a link road from Bhaironpur to Balahri Khurd via Ambey Majra.

He said Rs 7 crore would be spent on the construction of roads in the district. He said the sex ratio in the district had declined and would upset social order.

He announced a grant of Rs 30 lakh for constructing 30 toilets, Rs 1 lakh for drainage of sullage and Rs 21,000 for the youth club.

He also heard grievances of people of Dufehra, Harbans Pura and Ambey Majra.


Villagers flock to free medical camp
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 22
A voluntary social organisation — the International Bhau Bhaichara — organised a free medical check-up at Bahadurgarh, near here, today which attracted hundreds of people from nearby villages.

Free medicines were distributed on the occasion by the noted social activist, Mr Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, who has also opened various free ration shops (modikhanas) in the area, while the camp was inaugurated by advocate Kundan Singh Nagra.

The doctors who attended on the patients included ophthalmologist Dr G.S. Randhawa, cardiologist Dr T.R. Aggarwal, dentist Dr Surjit Singh Verma, skin specialist Dr Sandeep Sadhana and gynaecologist Dr Monica Puri.

People from nearby areas of Ghanaur and adjoining villages flocked to the camp in the large number.


Pak singers enthral audience
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
Pakistani singer Husain Baksh Khan and his sons, Chand Khan, and Suraj Khan enthralled the city audience last night with their live performance at the Lions Club Community Hall here.

The Ustad Vijay Sachdeva Memorial Sangeet Society organised the programme “Sanjh Sura Di-Sanjh Dila Di’. The SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, presided over the function.


Cleanliness drive launched
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, May 22
The Swachchta Abhiyan Manch, Phagwara, launched a cleanliness drive in Guru Nanak Pura here on Sunday. On this occasion a rehri was pressed into service to collect garbage from residents’ doorsteps.

Mr Madan Mohan Khattar, convener of the manch, stressed upon the need to stop the practice of dumping garbage at sites near residential areas.


2,234 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
As many as 2,234 out of 2,745 cases were disposed of through mutual compromise at a special Lok Adalat held here, while a sum of more than Rs 2.53 crore was awarded as compensation.

Mr Virinder Agarwal, secretary, District Legal Services Authority, in a press note issued here today said that Mr H.P.S. Mahal, Additional District and Session Judge-cum-Member Secretary, Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, was also present on the occasion.

Mr Mahal said that a total of more than 2.52 lakh cases were disposed of out of 4.51 lakhs taken up in about 3,232 Lok Adalats held in Punjab till March 31. He said that Rs 589 crore was given in awards.

Mr Gurdev Singh, District and Session Judge and Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, said that 2,094 cases were disposed of and Rs 7.67 crore was distributed in awards in permanent Lok Adalats, while 2,5547 cases were disposed of and given Rs 37 crore as awards in quarterly Lok Adalats held till now.


Cultivation of paddy variety causes concern
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Karnal, May 22
A section of the farmers in Karnal and Kurukshetra districts of Haryana, popularly known as basmati hub of the nation, had sown short duration paddy varieties, saathi, so as to get two crops even as the agriculture experts are against this practice.

Having two paddy crops was not a traditional practice in the area as the recent history of the area indicate that it proliferated only during the past 10 years. For the past five years the groundwater level has drastically gone down in these districts so it has become a matter of debate.

The groundwater level in Kurukshetra and Karnal has gone down by 12 to 15 feet in the past two decades.

Mr Dalip K. Gosain, a senior scientist in Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Karnal, said: “Apart from the decline in groundwater level, the fertility of the soil has also decreased.” For him, it was the biggest challenge before the scientific community to keep the production level high without disturbing the natural mineral balance of the soil and the groundwater level.

Normally, the agro-scientists recommend the growing of paddy generally in the months of June and July after the pre-monsoon showers so that the groundwater level does not get disturbed. But the desire to earn more profits has forced a section of the farmers to go in for cultivation of saathi- the sort duration paddy varieties.

The biggest drawback of cultivating saathi during the months of April and May apart from disturbing the natural level of groundwater is that it is harvested during monsoon that leaves higher moisture content in the grain. The quality of rice is thus poor, causing higher breakage of grain during milling. Rajinder Singh, a farmer of Indri told The Tribune that the flawed procurement policy of the state government during the past one decade had compelled the small and marginal farmers to cultivate saathi paddy. He alleged that government agencies do not purchase the entire produce from the farmers in these districts leaving an opportunity for the hundreds of private millers to exploit the farming community by purchasing their produce at comparatively lesser rate than the minimum support price. To compensate this loss, a section of the farmers had begun the practice of cultivating two paddy crops, besides, the winter wheat crop, he revealed.

A campaign is in progress to convince the farmers to abandon the cultivation of short duration varieties of paddy but the results does not seem to be satisfying. Mr Shyamal Mishra, District Magistrate, said there was a need for legislation banning the cultivation of saathi. Otherwise, the efforts of administration could not yield results as one cannot force anybody to stop this practice in a democratic set-up.


Mother, son held in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 22
The district police arrested Balwinder Singh and his mother, Gian Kaur, of Mehamdowal Khurd, yesterday for allegedly killing Rajbir Kaur for dowry and cremating her despite protests from the deceased’s father on May 17, 2005.

The Mahilpur police has registered a case under Section 304-B, 201 and 34 of the IPC against both son and mother in this connection on the complaint of Mr Amrik Singh of Mehtiana, father of deceased Rajbir Kaur, on May 17.

In his complaint Amrik Singh stated that he gave sufficient dowry in the marriage of his daughter, but her husband and mother-in-law were not satisfied. They used to torture her and on seeing the condition of his daughter, he gave Rs 50,000 to both mother and son on their assurance that they would not maltreat her in future.

He received a message on the telephone about the seriousness of his daughter on May 17. He along with his wife immediately rushed to Mehamdowal Khurd and found Rajbir Kaur dead. When they saw the face of Rajbir Kaur on the pyre they found injury marks on her neck. Despite their protests Balwinder Singh and others lit the pyre and cremated Rajbir Kaur.


3 held for stealing batteries from Bhisiana AF Station
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
Three Indian Air Force men have been sent in judicial remand in a theft case. They were arrested a few days back for stealing aircraft batteries worth lakhs from the Bhisiana Air Force Station, near here. Their arrest has raised a big question mark on the security of the station.

Sources said 45 batteries were reported missing from the Air Force Station in April this year. The police had registered a case in this connection at Nehiawala police station. The sources said these batteries were as costly as Rs 90,000 each. The police probe pointed the finger towards these sergeants and their aide. The police had kept this matter a closely guarded secret.

When the police received a tip-off in the matter they first raided the house of ex-sarpanch of Bhisiana village Karnail Singh and recovered silver content of these batteries from a car parked there. The accused had extracted the silver content of the batteries and kept it in the car. The police also conducted raids in other homes of the village. Sergeant Parveen Kumar Vashisht was the in charge of the battery room at the station, while Sergeant Saji Augustine was the in charge of the receive and dispatch room. The sources said the theft had surprised everyone as it was nearly impossible for someone to steal these batteries amid strict checking at the station. They said Sergeant Vashisht was putting up at a rented accommodation at Bhisiana village. The sources said the accused could also face action under the National Security Act after the probe. The Nehiawala police had also called some scrap dealers during their probe, but they didn’t appear before them.

When contacted, the DSP (Rural), Mr Sukhdev Singh Chahal, said the police had recovered about 81 kg of silver in the case. He said Sergeant Vashisht got the silver melted from the shop of Umesh Rastogi in New Delhi. He said the police had also raided Rastogi’s shop, but found no one there. He sold off a part of it in Delhi and bought a movie camera, which had also been recovered. He said the police was suspecting the involvement of more people in the case and there could be a few more arrests soon.


13 injured in clash at Glaxo
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 22
Thirteen persons, including five police personnel, were injured in a clash between agitating workers and the police at the entry gate of Glaxo Smithkline Consumer Healthcare Ltd last night. Injured persons were admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Ad hoc workers of the company, whose services had been terminated almost a year ago, were demanding resumption of their services or a suitable compensation.

According to company sources, the agitating workers sat on a day-long dharna yesterday and started preventing contractor’s men engaged in loading and unloading from going inside the factory.

In order to prevent any untoward incident, officials of the local administration and the company convened a meeting with an 11-member workers’ action committee but could not find out any solution.

Taking advantage of the presence of the police, at around 11 pm company officers tried to enter the complex in a milk tanker despite the stiff opposition of the agitating workers. The workers tried to block the entry of the tanker. As the police moved forward to clear the way for the tanker, workers pelted the cops with stones. To disperse unruly workers, the police resorted to cane-charge and used water cannons. Furious over the police action, the protesters also stoned a milk tanker of the company near an octroi post on the Nabha-Patiala road.

The DSP, Mr S.S. Boparai, blamed action committee members and Akali Dal (Mann) rural president Jaswinder Singh for inciting the workers. A head constable and four constables were injured, he added.

Mr Ravi Bajaj, a factory employee, alleged that the police had forcibly taken him and some other workers to the police station from the emergency ward of the hospital and got their blood soaked clothes changed. He said the police was working on the directions of the company authorities.


Three cases of rape solved
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 22
Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, DIG, Jalandhar Range, and Mr Arun Pal Singh, SSP, at a joint press meeting at Banga, yesterday claimed to have solved a number of cases of crime committed in Banga recently.

They said the police had arrested Pardeep Kumar, alias Ulloo, in the case of rape and murder of a four-year-old girl, Rajni, on May 12.

They said the police had arrested Jagveer Singh, alias Jeeri, and Paramjit Bhaya who were the main accused in a case registered under Sections 452/354/34 of the IPC at Banga on May 15 in connection with molestation of a Class V student. The police had arrested Harphaj, alias Gadha, in a rape case.

The police had recovered Gurpreet, alias Gopi, who was kidnapped by his paternal uncle, Sanjiv Kumar, alias Kholi, from the custody of his mother, within hours of the incident. The child was handed over to his mother Seema.


MLA’s brother attacked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
Unidentified armed men attacked the brother of the Nathana MLA, Mr Gura Singh Tungwali, with sharp-edged weapons on Friday.

Sources said a few men hiding along the roadside attacked Jarnail Singh who was on his way back home on his cycle. The accused followed him to the village and assaulted him with kirpans. His wife resisted the attack and was also injured. Villagers came to his rescue on hearing his cries for help, forcing the assailants to run away. He has been admitted to the Civil Hospital. His father alleged that the assailants were involved in the country-made liquor trade.


Pirated CDs of ‘Jo Bole So Nihal’ flood market
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 22
Even as Mr Ponty Chadha, chief distributor of “Jo Bole So Nihal” has withdrawn the movie from cinema houses in the north, the market is flooded with pirated CDs that carry original dialogues and scenes objected to by Sikh organisations, sources said.

The sources said the halting of the screening of the film had given a boost to the sale of pirated CDs within the 48 hours. Multicolor covers of such CDs were shown to Mr Zora Singh Mann, SAD MP and a senior members of the SGPC, during his visit here.


Representation of 7 members of Durgiana Educational Foundation withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The executive committee of Durgiana Temple Management Committee resolved to withdraw representation of seven of its members from the Durgiana Educational Foundation that runs only ayurvedic college here today.

The meeting of the executive committee was presided over by officiating president of the temple management committee. Surinder Arjun issued a notice today to the foundation that runs Sri Laxmi Narayan Ayurvedic College.

The temple management was likely to “expose” the alleged financial irregularities in college funds, claimed the officiating head.

The decision was taken unanimously by executive committee members following allegations of ‘mal-administration’, ‘financial bungling’, ‘mismanagement’, ‘unauthorised suspension of competent staff against university norms’, ‘reports of moral turpitude’ and threat of withdrawal of affiliation of the (Ayurvedic) institute by the Central Council of Indian Medicine.

In addition to this, the step had been necessitated to “restore the representative character of the Durgiana management in the educational foundation”, Mr Arjun added.

Those whose representation has been withdrawn include president of the foundation Santosh Gupta also the VHP district president, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, a former Health Minister in the SAD-BJP Government, Mr Nand Lal Nagpal, Mr Karnesh Gupta, Mr Rajnish Arora, Mr Kishen Lal Arora and Mr Laxmi Kant Sridhar.

The foundation president, when contacted, said they would contest the “Right” of Congress-led temple management to take this action against them and resort to legal action accordingly.

The former Health Minister could not be contacted.

The executive committee alleged that elections had “deliberately” been held in abeyance for past six years allegedly by the BJP-affiliated seven members and decided to hold elections to the 13-member foundation shortly.

The executive committee members made every effort to get released the sealed assets and properties of temple from the previous management that includes ‘Toshakhana’, sealed Bank accounts, and other properties including jewellery and ‘poshak’ of deities.

Other resolutions of the meeting include ‘social boycott’ of Mr S.S. Sharma, for alleged anti-temple’ activities and warning to Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, to desist from activities detrimental to the temple.


Students act as traffic cops
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
Students of Blossoms Senior Secondary School, Nabha Road, after taking 10 days training in road safety rules and traffic rules by the Traffic and Road Safety Department of the police, gave a demonstration of their skills yesterday.

Children controlled traffic on three main light points of the town, including Sheranwala gate, bus stand chowk and Dukhniwaran chowk. They not only enthusiastically participated and showed their skill in manning the traffic but also taught the people to observe traffic rules by challaning them or by giving a polite lecture to them.

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