P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab commandos reluctant to go to MP, Maharashtra
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 4
Though as a section of Punjab police commandos and senior functionaries of their battalions are reluctant to fight Naxalites in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday said two battalions of Punjab police commandos would leave for these two states soon and his government would not retract his decision.

The Chief Minister, who was at Nabha on Friday in connection with some functions, told TNS that two battalions of Punjab police commandos would be deployed in MP and Maharashtra.

The Chief Minister said the commandos would be paid their salaries by these two states.

When asked that a section of Punjab police commandos were reluctant to fight Naxalites as they had a bitter experience when they were deployed in Andhra Pardesh where a commandant was killed, the Chief Minister said they had no option but to go to the two states as per the requirement.

“When in Punjab, the 15-year-long militancy was fought by different forces how can the Punjab Government refuse to send its commandos to any other state,” he asked.

When was asked that the authorities concerned had not paid any thing to the Punjab Government when the Punjab commandos were deployed in Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister said the Centre had adjusted that amount to offset a part of debt which the Punjab Government incurred fighting militancy.

Meanwhile, a section of Punjab police officials told TNS that this action of state government would have adverse impact.


Drinking water scarce in state
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The number of villages and rural habitations in one of the richest states in the country, Punjab, which do not have sustainable and stipulated drinking water supply, is increasing.

As per the latest habitation survey conducted by the Punjab Government on the directions of the Centre, the number of not- covered (NC) habitations in the state, which do not have access to potable water, is 4,000 plus, which is more than four times the figure of 906 NC habitations recorded in 1999.

The figure was sent for confirmation to the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) last year and has not yet been officially released. The IIPA had noted some discrepencies in the data and asked for some clarifications, which Punjab hopes to do by the end of June.

As per the Tenth Five Year Plan, all not covered (NC) and partially covered (PC) habitations of the comprehensive action plan (CAP)-1999 were to be covered by March 31, 2004, and in the remaining three years of the plan, that is by the 2006-07, consolidation of the coverage had to be undertaken by taking care of newly emerged and slipped back habitations.

Instead, Punjab, which as per the coverage status based on CAP-1999, had 906 NC habitations, second only to Rajasthan where 2,785 habitations had the NC status out of the total 5,388 NC habitations in the country, has added more than 3,000 habitations to the figure.

Mr Manmohanjit Singh, Chief Engineer, Department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab Government, says the state government was spending at least three times of its matching share on covering NC and PC villages in the state.

He blames the increase in the NC and PC habitations on migration from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country and says that the coming up of habitations outside the lal dora of villages and water sources drying up were some important factors which were leading to the problem.

“ Water table has depleted considerably and there has been a 50 per cent reduction in discharge of tube wells in the state,” he says. Besides this, financial condition of the state was not really up to-the mark and it was finding it difficult to fulfill the additional demands on its resources.

With the state spending more than its share on water supply and the resulting effort clearly not being sufficient, Punjab, in the conference of state secretaries on rural drinking water supply and total sanitation campaign programme held in the Capital last week, had asked more money from the Centre to clear the backlog of CAP-1999 and meet new demands.

“We have asked for Rs 200 crore from the Centre to clear the backlog of CAP-1999,” says Mr Manmohanjit Singh.

According to CAP-1999, while considerable success had been achieved in meeting drinking water needs of rural population and 95.34 per cent rural habitations are fully covered (FC) with stipulated level drinking water facilities, still 4,28 per cent habitations in the country remained partially covered (PC) and 0.38 not covered (NC).

A substantial percentage of this 0.38 per cent NC habitations in the country, which were yet to be covered with the stipulated norms of coverage of 401pcd with a source within 1.6 km, were in the prosperous sate of Punjab. Even then, the state had a substantial number, as many as 1198 of the total 60,884 PC habitations in the country, which are now around 5,000.

The Centre, on its part, provided a substantial step up in allocation to rural drinking water which increased from Rs 3300 crore to Rs 4750 crore, an increase of approximately 44 per cent, in 2005-06.

However, the Centre blames the lagging behind of some states on several factors, including state governments not providing matching share on time or not availing of the allocate funds and utilising them on time.


Govt locks horns with SGPC over release of postage stamp
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 4
The state government and the SGPC seem to have locked horns over the release of postage stamp to commemorate the 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

The SGPC and the state government seem to be trying to grab public attention by taking the credit by releasing the stamp. While the state government wants to hold the ceremony in Chandigarh, the SGPC prefers Amritsar.

Mr Dalmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, in a letter to the Director (Philately), Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication and IT, stated that since Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, compiled the holy granth at Gurdwara Ramsar here and it was first installed at Harmander Sahib. The holy city was the most appropriate place to release the stamp.

He informed that the SGPC had been making comprehensive arrangement to hold the function at Dewan Hall, Gurdwara Manji Sahib, on June 16, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur had already invited Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communication and IT, to release the stamp.

To release the stamp was the idea of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC president. He had written about it last year to the then Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee. However, as the BJP-led NDA government was defeated in the elections and hence the SGPC could not elicit any response in this regard. Mr Tohra died before the Central Government could take any decision in this regard.

Later Bibi Jagir Kaur took up the matter with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who directed the ministry concerned to release the stamp.


Work on refinery to start soon, says Oscar Fernandes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 4
The Union Government would kick off work on Bathinda refinery from this month and first instalment for it would soon be released. The Union Statistics and Programme Implementation Minister, Mr Oscar Fernandes, stated this here today. The minister was addressing a Dalit Chetna Rally, organised by the SC/ST wing of the party.

Mr Fernandes said he would personally look into the refinery project so as to ensure its completion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said he had met the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, to get the work on refinery started soon. He said Mr Aiyar had issued necessary instructions in this regard to his ministry’s additional secretary. He also claimed that the work on refinery would begin this month.

Highlighting the Centre’s plan for the uplift of downtrodden sections of society, Mr Fernandes said the government was spending 3 per cent of the budget on the welfare of Dalits. He said the Centre had also launched many welfare schemes for Dalits. He said Punjab had the highest population of Dalits as compared to the other states. He expressed concern on the rising atrocities on Dalits. He said the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, had asked the chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states to take appropriate measures for the welfare of Dalits.

Mr Singla said the state government had approved a fund of Rs 100 crore for the revamp of Bathinda and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would soon hold a meeting for drawing out a plan for the same. He said Bathinda would be made the most beautiful city of Punjab and soon development work would start in the city. He said with this amount projects on drinking water, sewerage system, and other basic amenities would be completed. He said the state government had set up social security fund for providing facilities to Dalits.


For operation at Civil Hospital, fee is diesel
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, June 4
If you want to get an operation done, get diesel. That’s the unusual demand of the local Civil Hospital, which is now plagued by long power cuts and cannot afford to run its generator for the entire span of the shutdowns.

A request for getting diesel is made so that if power supply to the hospital is cut, the operation could be carried on smoothly by running the generator. The power position in the town is very erratic.

The 50-bed hospital, which is located near the National Highway, has to tackle a number of emergency cases apart from general and major surgeries. The power supply to it is cut by the state electricity board around 11 am daily, merely three hours after the hospital OPDs start functioning. After that, no one knows for certain when the supply will be restored. Patients have to face a lot of inconvenience waiting for hours in the summer heat.

The disruption in the power supply hits not only the performance of operations but also the X-ray and ultrasound facilities and some laboratory tests. Running the hospital generator all the time is not economically feasible because its fuel consumption comes to about 6 litres in one hour.

Therefore, the generator is usually run only when there is a rush of patients at the hospital or an emergency operation is to be performed. So a hospital staff member often hands over a can and asks the person concerned to get as much diesel as he can afford to ‘donate’.

Dr Maninderjit Singh, SMO, in charge of the hospital, said that a small generator lying with hospital had also been got repaired. It could supply power to a part of the operating theatre wing and the computer room where patients’ slips were made and billing and other work was done.

The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, and the Managing Director of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC), had during a visit, to the hospital on October 11 last year suggested that the hospital should be provided with the power hotline connection. The SMO later called the SDO of the power board in this connection. The SDO asked the hospital to deposit a processing fee of Rs 500 with the board, which was done. The power board later gave an expenditure estimate of Rs 9 lakh to the hospital for the provision of the hotline facility.

Since then matters have come to a standstill as the PHSC has failed to sanction the required money for the project. The MLA then suggested to the hospital authorities to write to the constituency MP for the provision of funds for the hotline.

Dr Maninderjit Singh then wrote to the MP, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, on February 21 for funds. However, the MP has failed to respond to the request so far.

The Ropar Civil Surgeon, Dr Rana Harinder, could not be contacted for comments.


Negligence led to Jammu Tawi mishap: report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
Gross negligence by the Construction, Signal and Telecommunication and Operating Departments led to the head-on collision between Jammu Tawi Ahmedabad Express and a local train in December 2004 in Punjab in which 38 persons were killed.

Railway Ministry sources say that as per the final report, the accident was due to gross negligence on the part of the three departments — Construction, Signals and Telecommunication and Operating — of the Punjab division. The Construction Department, while working on the line, damaged signalling cables and failed to report the matter to the officials concerned.

After this discrepancy was known, the Signal and Telecommunication Department should have taken action but it failed to rectify this for 22 hours. And the Operating Department did not follow the Paper Line Clearance, which led to the tragedy.

After the Safety Commissioner’s final report, a departmental inquiry will be conducted and responsibility fixed.

The heads of all three departments have already been transferred and disciplinary proceedings initiated against them.

Thirtyeight persons were killed and 50 injured in the collision that took place in Mukerian on December 15, 2004. Soon after the accident, 13 railway personnel, including station masters of Chak Kalan and Bangara, were suspended.


Bluestar victims await justice
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 4
Twentyone years down the line, victims of Operation Bluestar and the Galiara beautification scheme plead for justice.

In the aftermath of Bluestar, disaster befell many prosperous shopkeepers and snatched the livelihood of more than 400 while rendering thousands of family members helpless.

More than two decades later, their plight remains as poignant as their emotional wounds .

The hefty files of correspondence with the higher authorities carried by Mr SS Uppal, former general secretary of the district Congress and chairman of the Galiara Grievances Committee, Mr Manjit Singh and Mr Mohan S. Gandhi, president and general secretary of the Bluestar Tenant Merchant Sufferers Association, respectively, bear testimony to their sorry state.

Mr Uppal who owned a famous thread wool shop and now sells cold drinks. Talking to the Tribune today, he said. “It was my biggest folly not to take up the path of agitation due to political affiliations (Congress-ruled state) as I was a Congressman. I have realised that the government only listens to pressure.”

However, the dilemma of Bluestar victims in 1984 whose shops were reduced to rubble in direct line of fire of the infamous Army operation are the worse sufferers. As many as 133 shops, 15 godowns and nine stores were enlisted to have been completely damaged. None of these tenants and merchants were given any alternative shops or compensations, they say.

Many who were given shops to resettle in alternative places were ruined as their indigenous and other items on sale were local or temple-need-based like selling ‘parsad’, garlands, hosiery, horse accessories, Sikh religious symbols , ‘pappar-varian’, temple related stationery, general merchants, grocers, footwear etc.

Numerous meetings with prime ministers, chief ministers and governors since then have provided no respite to their grievances.

Rashpal Singh, once a big showroom owner is today selling ‘datan’ (indigenous tree twig toothbrush) on a ‘phari’ (cloth spread) near the Golden Temple.

Dara Singh, whose kulchey-chhole were famous, now sells vegetables in a pushcart. Ram Parkash, a parsad seller, died an unhappy man recently while his wife Sitavati is at mercy of mohalla residents.

Vijay Arora, once a prosperous general merchant, sells odd items. Embroiderer Rampal’s son became a mental wreck and his recently widowed wife Sharda is being given handouts by neighbours to survive.

Seven years ago, two of the victims committed suicide. Harjinder Singh, a readymade garment wholesaler, threw himself in the Golden Temple sarovar while Parkash Chand too committed suicide.

Young Yashpal Arora’s life shattered barely 15 days after his marriage, as his shop once a known name in selling ‘parandi’ and other ethnic Punjabi wear, was gutted in the operation. Soon after his wife divorced him. He now does odd jobs for relatives.

The government has been apathetic “since we are not a formidable vote bank,” says Mr Uppal while demanding soft loans of Rs 5 lakh, at less than 4 per cent interest

Most of these victims have reached their 70s, but life for them has stood still since that fateful day on June 6, 21 years back as many of them are barely able to fend for their families today.


Bluestar memorial design not yet ready
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 4
The foundation stone of the controversial ‘Minar-e-Shaheedan’, proposed to be raised in memory of those killed in Operation Bluestar, is unlikely to be laid on June 6 as the SGPC has not yet got its architectural designs.

The proposed memorial has kicked off a controversy with different Panthic organisations taking diametrically opposite stands. While the SGPC has resolved to raise the memorial within its complex, the Damdami Taksal, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and other Sikh organisations have insisted that the memorial had already been constructed as part of the Akal Takht’s gallery.

Talking to TNS here today, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of the SGPC, said the foundation stone would be laid after procuring architectural designs, which could take more than 15 days. She said the name of the minaret would be given after discussions, keeping in view the suggestions given by different Akali factions of Panthic bodies.

She, however, said the suggestion of Damdami Taksal or other organisations that the gallery of Akal Takht be accepted as memorial could not be accepted. She alleged that certain forces, at the behest of the government were opposing the proposed memorial.

When asked as to why the SGPC had decided to raise the memorial after two decades of the Army action, she quipped that the shiromani committee wanted to construct it only after the various Panthic organisations had accepted the fact that Sant Bhinderanwale was killed in the operation as already announced by Akal Takht.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said no Panthic organisation would be allowed to hold political conferences at Akal Takht to mark the anniversary of Operation Bluestar. Neither she nor Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, would deliver any speech that day. Only the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, would give a brief message in the name of the Sikh Panth to mark the occasion after the bhog of akhand path.

As per the tradition, the families of those killed in the Army operation would be honoured. However, she said the SGPC wouldn’t stop anybody from performing ardas in the name of those killed in the operation.


Woman protests against memorial
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, June 4
Courage can be in the form of a silent scream, a peaceful protest, a quiet march. Today, Poonam Singh, Editor of Preetlari, Punjabi magazine, held a one-woman demonstration at the Matka Chowk in the city against the decision of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), to build a memorial for those killed in the Army assault on the Harmandar Sahib “during Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Mrs Singh believes this is like ‘dividing’ the more than 20,000 people who died during the militancy phase at the time. “What of all those innocent lives taken by militants? We want to forgive and forget, but this is isolating people, creating unease in everyone’s minds. This is disturbing. How can this action by the SGPC be justified?”

Mrs Poonam Singh’s husband, Sumeet Singh, was just 30 when militants gunned him down in February, 1984. The magazine, started by his grandfather Gurbax Singh more than 70 years go and edited by Sumeet Singh, then passed on to his wife Poonam, just 26 then.

Says a visibly upset Mrs Poonam Singh, “The SGPC believes those killed during “Operation Bluestar” were Sikhs, how can they say that those who were ruthlessly eliminated by the militants were not Sikhs. What are their criteria for judging such a thing? The victims have been sacrificed by this decision.”

The Army stormed the Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar in June, 1984, to flush out Sikh militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale. A few days before the 21st anniversary of the storming, the SGPC had announced its plan to construct or raise a memorial for those killed in the operation. Soon after this announcement, the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh religious organisation once headed by Bhinderanwale, declared their erstwhile leader dead, an acknowledgement that came almost 21 years after his death on June 6, 1984. The Taksal, had until now, maintained that Bhinderanwale was alive.

Mrs Singh believes this action of hers is more eloquent than a thousand people marching. ‘I will be heard this way because it is the silent majority that feels what I feel, that finally saved Punjab in those days.”

Her faith in humanity, love and rationalism without bringing religious biases into issues have kept her unswervingly strong; the magazine reflects these attitudes and continues to publish poetry and stories dealing with social concerns in Punjab today.


Manch sends reminder to PM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 4
The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) today shot a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. The letter reminded him of his promise made during his last visit to the city to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations of the completion of Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, president of the AVM, said it was nearly eight months ago that Prime Minister had announced here that the holy city would be made one of the most beautiful cities of the world. However, even no work had begun in this direction yet.


Calcutta seeks probe into RSS camp in gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 4
Even as the SGPC has denied that an RSS camp was organised at Gurdwara Bibhore Sahib (Nangal), Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an SGPC member belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), sought a high-probe in this regard.

Mr Calcutta said the gurdwara premises could not be allowed to be used for holding RSS camps just to accommodate political persons.

Mr Karm Singh, Manager, Shree Kesgarh Sahib, has claimed that the RSS camp was held at the Hanuman Temple in the village and not in the gurdwara premises.

He said some of the RSS activists had however, taken shelter in the gurdwara serai.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief, said the Manager, Kesgarh Sahib, immediately got the serai vacated when he learnt that RSS activists had got some rooms there.


Mother Teresa’s statue unveiled
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 4
Nearly 26 crore people of the country were still living below the poverty line. This was indicated by the Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Mr Oscar Fernandes, who was addressing a gathering after unveiling a statue of Mother Teresa. The statue has been installed by the Jalandhar Improvement Trust at the Guru Gobind Singh Avenue.

Mr Fernandes, who was accompanied by the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, and the Improvement Trust Chairman, Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu, said Mother Teresa had waged a war against poverty and principles propagated by her were so effective that these could be followed for eradication of the poverty.

He said a number of schemes were being implemented to improve the condition of the underprivileged.

Lauding the role of minorities in the development of the country, he said Christians had contributed a lot in the field of health and education. He said India was a secular country and this was proved by the fact that the Prime Minister and the President of India belonged to minorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said Mother Teresa was in fact mother of all poor and downtrodden and she helped all those who had lost all hopes. He said educational and other institutions run by Christian missionaries were contributing a lot in development of the people of Punjab.


Guardsmen hold get-together
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 4
As many as 50 retired and 70 serving officers from units located in the region, participated in a get-together organised by the Brigade of Guards, an elite regiment of the Indian Army in the cantonment here today.

The Brigade of Guards was formed in 1949 by Field Marshal K.M. Carriappa as the first regiment on an all-India class composition on the lines of true traditions of a secular and unified India. The garuda, a mythical bird and symbol of immortality, elegance and strength, remained the Guardsman’s emblem and an enduring inspiration for him.

Retired and serving officers interacted with one another and discussed various matters and the rich tradition of the guards on this occasion.


Jalandhar-Amritsar road to be four-laned
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 4
A sum of Rs 450 crore will be spent to make the Jalandhar-Amritsar road four-laned and in the first phase work on a 50-km stretch will be done. The project will get under way the next month.

This was stated by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, while addressing a gathering here today on the occasion of the strengthening of the Batala-Chowk Mehta road.

Mr Bajwa said Rs 4.5 crore would be spent on strengthening the road leading to Beas. The repair of existing roads and laying of new ones here would be done on a war footing. Moreover, Rs 4.4 crore was being spent to widen the Batala-Kahnuwan road.

The Batala-Beas road would be widened at a cost of Rs 30 crore and a light crossing would be set up at the Qadian octroi.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, said the government had accorded top priority to development. He said for the Batala area one more package worth Rs 13 crore was under consideration.


Transfers in Punjab Financial Corpn flayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
Members of the Punjab Financial Corporation Employees Welfare Association today condemned the transfer orders of 53 employees issued yesterday and alleged that the transfers were made with malafide intention.

President of the association Dharam Deepak said these were largely of the clerical cadre employees. These were being carried out to conceal the misdeeds of officers who had made defective appraisal and verification of loan cases which caused losses to the corporation’s untraceable borrowers. The staff which was aware of the list of borrowers had been shifted.

Employees held a meeting to condemn the transfers.


Heat fails to deter Sangh march
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 4
Even as the Weather Department recorded temperature at 46 degrees Celsius today, nearly 100 women, most of them teenagers, marched through all main roads and markets of the town amid tight security cover of the local police and RSS workers.

Today was the fourth day of a five-day training camp organised by the Rashtra Sevika Samiti at Arorvansh Bhavan here. It has become an annual feature to make the best utilisation of summer vacations.

Those who joined the march included Ms Suman Goyal, wife of former BJP MLA Ram Kumar Goyal, Dr Saroj Miglani, Ms Mamta Sharma and Ms Deepika, regional and city coordinators, respectively, of the programme.

The march was escorted among others by Dr Goyal, former MLA, Mr Seeta Ram Sharma, state secretary, Rashtriya Suraksha Samiti, Mr Sandeep Rinwa, general secretary, district unit of the BJP, Mr Sugan Chand Singhal and Mr Charan Dass Swami, senior RSS functionaries.

Ms Sushila Bishnoi, additional karyavahika for Ferozepore division, and Ms Geeta Bishnoi, in charge of the camp, said most of the participating girls had come from villages.

They said the minimum age for participants had been fixed at 14 years and wearing jeans and T-shirts was prohibited during the camp. The participants were allowed to wear only white dress.

Training in judo, indoor games, yoga and other exercises is imparted at the camp. They were daily enlightened about heroic deeds of patriots and other great Indian personalities who contributed in the freedom struggle.


Retired Colonel seeks President’s help

Abohar, June 4
Lieut-Col Onkar Nath Chopra (retd), who had led his platoon in defending the country in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars against China and Pakistan, on Thursday wrote a letter in his blood to the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, President A.P. J. Abdul Kalam , to seek justice.

Colonel Chopra had a share in agriculture land allotted to his family at Chanankhera village on the Abohar-Malout road on migration from Sahiwal district of West Punjab in 1947. As he was in the Army he could not attend proceedings for transferring mutations in revenue records here. He is now facing an uphill task in getting back his land allegedly grabbed by a senior SAD worker. — OC


Batala Press Club opened
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 4
Mr Varinder Sibbal, Member, Human Rights Commission, Punjab, visited the city today and addressed a public meeting at Batala Club.

Earlier, Mr Sibbal inaugurated the office of the Batala Press Club adjoining the office of the SDM here.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, local Congress M.L.A. and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab Government, said the industrial town was passing through a critical period.

Dr Hepesh Shephered, Principal, Baring Union Christian College, was stage secretary of the inaugural function.


2 brothers get 20-yr jail for murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 4
The court of Additional Sessions Judge D.R. Arora has sentenced two persons to 20-year imprisonment for killing BJP leader Hans Raj Chopra in 2001, besides slapping a fine of Rs 5,000 each on them.

Chopra was killed at Bhairupa village on April 25, 2001, by three brothers. Two other persons were also injured in the attack. Chopra had gone to mourn the death of the son of Mal Singh, a farmer, when three brothers, Gurjant Singh, Ajmer Singh, and Mukand Singh, had killed him with sharp-edged weapons. Chopra was attacked over a land dispute.

Mukand Singh died during the trial, while Gurjant and Ajmer have now been sentenced to 20-years imprisonment.


Man gets life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 4
Avtar Singh, resident of Basali village in Nurpurbedi town was today sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering an eight-year-old boy after kidnapping him.

He was convicted and sentenced by the Additional District and Session Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, for murdering Mahesh of Nurpurbedi town.

During interrogation, Avtar had confessed that after kidnapping the boy, when his parents did not deliver the ransom amount, he killed Mahesh. Thereafter he had thrown the body in Bhakra canal.


‘Moisture stress’ hit wheat yield
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
Excessive rain during February in the Gurdaspur-Amritsar belt led to a fall in the wheat yield in that area. This is a finding of the Punjab Agriculture Department.

After examining all relevant factors in this connection, the department authorities have reached the conclusion that “moisture stress” during the crucial month of February hit the wheat yield in Majha and certain parts of the Doaba belt. In Gurdaspur, during February 220.7 mm rainfall was recorded, which was the highest in the past many years. Rainfall in the adjoining areas was also on the higher side compared to that recorded last year.

The department authorities say that the wheat yield has been hit in Gurdaspur, Ferozepore, Amritsar and Kapurthala districts. In other areas, especially in the Malwa belt, the yield was better than that in the previous year.

The Director of Agriculture, Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, said that his officers in the field had been on the job of finding reasons for the low yield in a particular belt of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Kapurthala and Ferozepore. Besides, “moisture stress”, the other reasons were the waterlogging of wheat fields and the lodging of the crop in vast areas because of the inclement weather.

Mr Sidhu said the wheat production this year was 146.75 lakh tonnes against 144.89 lakh tonnes last year. However, the production was less than the department’s overall estimate of 149 lakh tonnes for the current year. In Sangrur, Patiala, Fatehgarh, Sahib, Bathinda and Faridkot districts, the wheat production was more than that of last year, he added.

The arrival of wheat in the market has been a little less than 93 lakh tonnes till date. However, the department’s estimate is of a total arrival of 100 lakh tonnes.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has presented its case before the Central Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices for rabi crops, including wheat, during the next season. It has argued for a substantial increase in the minimum support price of wheat. Early this year, the wheat price was increased by Rs 10 per quintal. It was pegged at Rs 640 per quintal. In fact, since 2000-01 there has been an increase of Rs 40 per quintal in the wheat price. Percentagewise, the increase has been about 1.6 per year. During 2002-03, a special bonus of Rs 20 per quintal was given above the MSP to farmers as drought relief.


Blind murder case solved
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 4
The police has succeeded in cracking a blind murder case dating back to February this year. Interestingly, one of the accused arrested in this connection had also murdered his other aide in the crime.

Police sources said unidentified men had murdered Surinder Singh Sukhija on the intervening night of February 1 and 2. A case in this regard was registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC at the city police station. A special team comprising DSP Baljinder Singh Chhapa and SHO Darshan Singh was formed to solve the case.

The sources said Sarbjeet Singh and Bhupinder Kumar had killed Surinder Singh over a dispute on money transactions. The accused had thrown his body on the Machaki Mal Singh road after killing him with iron rods.

They were dealing in smack trade and putting up at the residence of Surinder Kaur of Teachers Colony. Both accused had an altercation over accounts on May 4. Bhupinder threatened Sarbjeet that if he would not pay his dues he would spill the beans on Surinder’s murder. A frightened Sarbjeet killed Bhupinder at Surinder Kaur’s house on the same night.

A case was registered in this connection under Section 302 of the IPC. Sarbjeet and Surinder Kaur were also arrested.

During interrogation in police remand Sarbjeet confessed to have murdered Surinder Singh. The driving licence, PAN card and purse of the deceased have also been recovered from him.


Neighbours clash in hospital, 5 injured
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 4
Prem Singh, a shopkeeper of Subhash Nagar mohalla along with his mother-in-law Karam Kaur and six others assaulted Ravinder Singh, his brother Manjinder Singh and their neighbour Karanjit Singh, residents of the same mohalla, with sharp edged weapons near the emergency ward of the local Civil Hospital last night.

According to hospital sources Manjinder Singh and Karanjit Singh were referred to the CMC at Ludhiana while Ravinder Singh was discharged after the first-aid. Prem Singh and his father Basakha Singh were admitted in the hospital and were under observation.

According to police sources Prem Singh has a plot adjoining the house of Ravinder Singh. There was a dispute between the two over throwing of waste in the plot by Ravinder Singh.

A clash took place between them near the gurdwara of the Mohalla last evening. Later Prem Singh along with his father Basakha Singh and three others went to the house of Ravinder Singh and pelted stones as a result his cousin Varjinder Singh, was injured. Ravinder Singh, his brother Manjinder Singh and Karanjit Singh took Varjinder Singh to the Civil Hospital for treatment.

The sources said when Varjinder Singh was being treated in the emergency ward, Prem Singh along with his mother-in-law Karam Kaur and six others came to the hospital in a van and assaulted them with sharp-edged weapons.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 324, 323, 148, 149 of the IPC against Prem Singh, his father Basakha Singh and six others.


Four killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 4
Four persons were killed in a road accident on the busy Patiala-Sirhind road when the Chevrolet Tavera they were travelling in collided with a bus near Hardaspur village, 8 km from here, this evening.

The deceased were part of a marriage party that was returning from Mandi Gobindgarh and going to Dheelwal village, near here.

According to eyewitness reports, car driver Balwant Singh tried to negotiate a bend when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed it head-on into a bus, belonging to Karan Bus Service, going to Nangal from Patiala.

The deceased have been identified as Nachatar Kaur (50) of Dashmesh colony, Nabha, Mehak (3), Labh Singh (40) and driver Balwant Singh (25).

The injured — Sonia Rani (20), Sardul Singh (60), Rupali Devi (26) and Mohinder Kaur — were taken to the Government Rajindra Hospital here.


4 robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 4
Within two days, the district police made a major breakthrough by arresting all four robbers, who had robbed two wine shops and run away after beating an ASI and SPO while attempting to rob a third wine shop at Amloh in the district.

The four robbers were members of a newly formed gang, which has committed more than 16 crimes related to robberies and thefts in the Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Khanna and Ludhiana areas within two months.

One of the robbers is a boxer, who has won a silver medal at the State level. The police has recovered a .455 bore revolver, three live cartridges and other equipment. They were planning to strike in banks and had undertaken the recce of the area.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr S.M. Sharma, IG (Zonal), Patiala, said in the Patiala Zone all SSPs and other officers were directed to start night patrolling, erect nakas to control and detect thefts, robberies and other crimes.

He said two days ago four robbers struck in Fatehgarh Sahib and succeeded in robbing two wine shops and tried to rob the third at Amloh but due to the patrolling police party they ran away after leaving their vehicles. He said to nab them, a special team, under the supervision of Mr Pritpal Singh Virk, SP (D), consisting Mr Daljeet Singh Rana, DSP, Amloh, SHO, Amloh, CIA Inspector and Mr Dalbir Singh, In charge Crime Branch, was constituted. He said last night the special team had erected a naka at Salana village, where two motor cycle riders were signalled to stop. The riders tried to run away but the police nabbed them and on their search a revolver and cartridges were recovered.

He said the robbers were identified as Taranjeet Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Jagdeep Singh, residents of Roheno Kalan in Ludhiana, and Gurjant Singh, resident of Panjrukhan in Ludhiana.

He said during interrogation they admitted to have committed 16 crimes.

He announced appreciation letters to all Gazetted Officers of the special team and class one commendable certificates and cash awards for the other members of the special team, which nabbed the robbers.


Woman burns herself to death
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 4
A mentally challenged woman, Jaspal Kaur, blazed herself to death at a residential shrine in street No 2 of Subhash Nagar here this evening. Jaspal Kaur (38) was married at Basti in UP and had three children. She was getting treatment by staying with her brother, Gurmit Singh, these days.

She used to frequent the shrine of Dhan Baba Hardyal Singh. Its head, Baba Amrik Singh, said the woman came to shrine and paid obeisance. Then she set herself ablaze.On noticing galloping flames from the room, he rushed out, called help of neighbours and extinguished the fire. However, the woman by then had died of burns.

The police had taken the body into its possession.


Cell phone theft proves costly
Our Correspondent

Phagwara June 4
The theft of a cell phone proved too costly for the thief. He has been awarded one- year imprisonment. It was learnt on Thursday that Surinder Pal, a class IV employee, in the court complex, had stolen a cellphone from the pocket of Janak Raj of Mehli Gate. On the complaint of Janak Raj, the city police registered a case of theft under Section 379 of the IPC against Surinder Pal.


Appointment of Dr Virdi challenged
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 4
The Forum for Education Action and Reform (FEAR), in its meeting held here yesterday, urged the Chancellor of Punjabi University, the Governor Punjab, to take note of the appointment of Dr S.P.S. Virdi, Dean Academic Affairs, as acting Vice- Chancellor of the university by the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S Boparai, who has not taken permission from the Chancellor, which is mandatory under the University Act.

Dr Virdi has been asked by the VC, vide order dated May 27, to discharge the duties as acting VC from June 1, till the VC returns from his foreign trip.

In press note, Dr. Amarjit Singh Dhillon, president of the forum, said Mr. Boparai had issued the order without any jurisdiction, though it was legal to make arrangement in the absence of the Vice-Chancellor as written in Section 9A(4) of the Punjabi University Act, but only with the consent from the Chancellor on advice from the state government and that too under special circumstances.

The forum alleged that without any proper notification, Dr Virdi was appointed as the acting VC and therefore his appointment could not stand on legal grounds. The forum further added that this was the first time that any VC had gone for such a long trip. It also urged the Chancellor to probe the trip through a CBI inquiry.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |