P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Hawara was preparing human bomb
50 detonators, 3 human bomb pressure buttons recovered
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Khanna, June 12
The Babbar Khalsa International chief Jagtar Singh Hawara had allegedly been planning a major strike with the help of a human bomb as has been suggested by the recovery of 50 detonators and multiple switches belts and three Human bomb pressure buttons from Neelon Canal today by the Khanna police.

It was a human bomb that was used in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, in which case Hawara is the prime accused.

SSP Khanna Naunihal Singh told mediapersons this evening that the police had recovered 20 electrical detonators, 30 mechanical detonators, four batteries, nine belts, eight bomb connections, an ABCD timer, eight bomb coils along with a timer bomb with maximum limit adjustment of 72 hours.

Those were hidden in a plastic bag in the Abohar Feeder Sirhind Canal near Neelon bridge on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. The police has also recovered 400 cartridges of a general purpose machine gun along with the detonators. The booty was retrieved with the help of divers.

The bag was recovered on the information of Inderjit Singh, a nephew of Hardeep Kaur, the alleged harbourer of Hawara. The police also announced the arrest of Charanjit Kaur, second sister of Hardeep Kaur, today for allegedly providing shelter to Hawara and conspiring with him to collect arms and ammunition. Kuldip Kaur, another sister of Hardeep Kaur, was arrested yesterday along with Inderjit Singh.

Mr Naunihal Singh said the detonators could have been used for anything and not necessarily as a human bomb. He said the arrested accused had revealed that the detonators and ammunition were given to them by Hawara. They had earmarked a special spot in the canal near the Neelon bridge towards Ropar. A fallen tree on the bank of the canal was marked as the sign of the spot.

The SSP said the accused had revealed that Hawara had handed the ammunition to them a few days ago only.

The police was investigating why the bag containing the ammunition went unnoticed by the Forest Department or the Irrigation Department. The police said the source of the ammunition would only be known to Hawara. He would be brought to Khanna in near future for questioning, he said.

The police was also trying to ascertain the motive of the alleged harbouers of Hawara in providing him shelter and helping him in amassing ammunition.


Punjab to get Rs 29 cr from export of bovine
Cattle semen bank closes in Kapurthala
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 12
The Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab, is likely to get Rs 29.22 crore from the Centre for the upgradation of its cow and buffalo herd for export of bovine semen to the Third World countries.

The first instalment of Rs 7.22 crore has already been spent on creating the required set up and improving the infrastructure of the state’s bovine semen banks at Nabha, Patiala and Ropar. The remaining instalment of Rs 22 crore is expected by July.

Mr D.S. Bains, Secretary, Animal Husbandry, said yesterday that the Punjab’s native breeds of buffaloes, Neeli Ravi and Murrah, were rated among the high quality buffaloes of the world. He said the department was looking for the high-yielding buffaloes of these breeds available with the state’s dairy farmers and was planning to buy bovine semen or calves of these animals for improving upon its own herd.

Mr Bains said the semen of Punjab buffaloes was currently in great demand in different parts of the country and was being sold in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh. He said the demand was also high in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The decision of the Centre to give more money to Punjab was taken after a recently concluded meeting of Animal Husbandry Departments of 12 states at Mumbai. Punjab was declared as a nodal state for the export of bovine semen and was promised sufficient grant to build up its infrastructure to meet international needs.

Mr Bains said efforts were on to procure high- quality freezers to store semen in banks and maintain the cold chain during transport by buying liquid nitrogen containers.

Mr Bains added that the semen bank at Nabha had been upgraded with the latest available techniques. Likewise, the ones at Patiala and Ropar were also being modernised. But the semen bank at Kapurthala had been shut down last month as the Centre specified that only those banks could be funded which were getting a million doses a year.

Mr Shashi Kant, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Kapurthala, said the semen bank had been shut down last month as the state government probably wanted to consolidate its work in three districts only.


SAD (A) to honour Chief Minister
PAC to discuss role of Takht Jathedar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 12
In a significant development, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) would honour Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and other Sikhs who had resigned from their respective posts after Operation Bluestar by holding an appropriate function in the near future.

A formal decision to this effect would be taken at the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the highest decision-making body of the party, proposed to be held at Ludhiana tomorrow. Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Mann said that the meeting would also discuss the alleged “dubious” role of the Jathedar of Akal Takht .The alleged partisan role played by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had denigrated the prestige of Akal Takht. He said the PAC would evolve strategy to appoint the Sikh high priests on merit and not on the basis of “personal loyalty”.

Mr Mann said that Jathedar Vedanti had mishandled the case of Hindi feature film; “Jo Bole So Nihal”, and serious allegations were being levelled against his Personal Assistant and close relative, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu. Earlier too, Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat had levelled charges of bribe against Mr Sandhu which had lowered the prestige of Akal Takht.

The PAC is likely to recommend launching of a mass movement against the SAD for its alleged “anti-Panthic” activities. Mr Mann said that his party would go to the masses against the decision of Bibi Jagir Kaur for inviting direct intervention of central and the state governments in registering cases against him and other leaders of Dal Khalsa including Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, President, Khalsa Raj Party. He alleged that Dr Chohan had not committed any wrong by having disclosed that he was in touch with the “most wanted Sikhs” in Pakistan.


Division in SGPC likely on Calcutta’s letter
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 12
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, beleaguered member of the SGPC who had challenged Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, Shiromani Committee, for seeking the intervention of Prime Minister and President in the “personal affairs of the Sikhs”, today received moral support from young SGPC member Jaswinder Singh Advocate, who is also convener of Akal Purkh ki Fauj.

Dissociating himself from the decision of the SGPC for sending communication to the PM or DGP, the SGPC member criticised raising provocative slogans and brandishing of unsheathed swords in front of Akal Takht on June 6. He, however, said that such matters should be taken to Akal Takht instead of inviting police action. He said sending communication to the PM or DGP Punjab was unprecedented in the history of the Sikhs. He urged the SGPC chief to convene an informal general house of the Shiromani Committee to discuss the matter at length so that such incidents could be avoided in future.

Coming down heavily on the 12 SGPC members who had sought action against Mr Calcutta, Mr Advocate said the “voice of conscience” should not be muzzled. He said in a democratic party or body like the SGPC, every member had the right to raise his personal views. He said inviting police action in the affairs of the Sikhs would be an attempt to set a wrong precedent, which could be “exploited” by the state and Central governments in future.

In another development, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD(Amritsar), and Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary, reportedly visited the house of Mr Calcutta and appreciated his “bold stand” against Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Earlier, Mr Calcutta had described the development as unprecedented and violating Sikh traditions. In an open letter to the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Calcutta stated that instead of probing the “unfortunate incidents” on June 6 and undergoing introspection, the Shiromani Committee chose to seek the intervention of the Central and state governments. In his letter, Mr Calcutta had stated that the Akali Dal witnessed division when the then Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala had sent police inside the Golden Temple complex in 1986 to flush out militants .Mr Badal had formed a separate Akali Dal by parting ways with SAD (Longowal) at that time. He said it was surprising that the SGPC had now sought the intervention of the Centre and state governments when Mr Badal is the president of the SAD.


Haryana SGPC after next
Assembly session: Surjewala

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 12
Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, Transport Minister, Haryana, yesterday said the Haryana Government would table a bill in the next session of Haryana Assembly to form a separate SGPC for the Sikhs of Haryana. He said the Haryana Government had handed over a draft, regarding formation of SGPC in Haryana, to the Speaker of the Haryana Assembly, who would submit his report to the government in this regard. He expressed the hope that after the next Assembly session, the Sikhs of Haryana would have a separate SGPC for them as had been promised by the Congress in its election manifesto.

Mr Surjewala was talking to mediapersons at Sunam on Saturday. He visited Sunam to attend a function, organised to honour Ms Sonia Deepa Arora, who has been recently made vice-chairperson of Punjab Communications Limited.

Mr Surjewala posed a question to Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur that why they thought the Sikhs of Haryana could not maintain their religious institutions on their own in Haryana. He said Mr Badal had faced a crushing defeat in the SGPC elections in Haryana, as out of total 11 SGPC seats of Haryana, the candidates of the SAD led by Mr Badal could win only four seats.

With regard to the SYL canal issue, Mr Surjewala said Haryana had equal rights on the SYL canal. Besides, Punjab could not reject any agreement on its own on the SYL canal, as it was an inter-state issue. He also criticised the passing of Termination of Agreements Act by the Punjab Government.

Mr Surjewala criticised the BJP president, Mr L.K. Advani, for calling Mohammad Ali Jinnah a secular person. He said Mr Jinnah was not a secular person, as he became instrumental in dividing the country by presenting the two-nation theory. He said the BJP could not join the mainstream of the country by appreciating Mr Jinnah. For joining the mainstream, it had to bring a change in its ideology, he added.


Flutter at Bhindranwale’s death anniversary
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Chowk Mehta, June 12
There was a flutter at the function held here to commemorate the death anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale when Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) today alleged that the Intelligence Bureau had made deep inroads into the Damdami Taksal after Operation Bluestar.

Mr Mann alleged that certain senior functionaries of the taksal had been misguiding Baba Thakur Singh for keeping a suspense over the death of Sant Bhindranwale for more than two decades for vested interests.

This was for the first time that Damdami Taksal has organised a function to commemorate the death anniversary of the Sant. The then acting Jathedar of the Taksal, Baba Thakur Singh, had been claiming that Sant Bhindranwale was in “high spirits” and would take over the charge of Taksal at an appropriate time.

In yet another sensational revelation, Mr Mann admitted that he used to give liberal licences of weapons to Sant Bhindranwale when he was the SSP Faridkot.

Addressing a function, Mr Mann said Baba Thakur Singh was a ‘real saint’ but certain “agents” of the Intelligence Bureau within the Taksal surrounded him. He said the former Joint Director of IB had mentioned the “dubious role” of certain office-bearers of the Taksal in his much-talked about book ‘Open Secrets’.

There was a little commotion at the stage when Mr Mann virtually snubbed Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman of Damdami Taksal, and Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, pro-Badal member of the SGPC, from the stage. He also criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, for his alleged “anti-Panthic” activities.

However, the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the SGPC chief skipped today’s function. Earlier, the two — Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Bibi Jagir Kaur, respectively — had given recognition to Baba Ram Singh, chief of the parallel jatha of Damdami Taksal. Mr Badal, too, was conspicuous by his absence.

However, some SGPC members belonging to the Badal faction, including Mr Mehta, Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate and Mr Kashmir Singh, were present on the occasion.

The police had made elaborate security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident. Mr Mann, against whom three cases of sedition were registered, was not arrested.

One of the resolutions passed on the occasion appealed to all Sikh bodies to come on a single platform for ensuring the release of Sikh youths languishing in various jails of the country.

Later, Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma was formally declared successor of Sant Bhindranwale. Representatives of various Sikh bodies, including the Sant Samaj, presented ‘dastars’ (turbans) as a mark of their acceptance of Baba Dhumma as 16th Jathedar of the Taksal.

The SGPC member, Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, described Sant Bhindranwale as the towering leader of the community.

Among those present on the occasion were Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (Longowal), Mr Satnam Singh of the Youth Federation, USA, Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Bhai Karnail Singh Pir Mohammad, Bhai Ajaib Singh Abhiasi, Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Capt Harcharn Singh Rode and Bhai Ram Singh.


Bhindranwale’s body was marked ‘unknown’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 12
Dr Dalbir Singh, the then Civil Surgeon, would have been virtually killed by irate followers of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in one of the municipal meetings as they were not ready to believe that their leader had been killed in Operation Bluestar.

Dr Dalbir Singh, who retired as Director, Health and Family Welfare, while talking to The Tribune here today said that 21 years ago in one of the municipal committee meetings he had tried to convince them that Bhindranwale was dead, as he himself had supervised the post-mortem examination that earned him the wrath of the hardliners. Dr Dalbir Singh’s statement was corroborated by Mr Apar Singh Bajwa, the then Superintendent of Police, who was present at the cremation of Bhindranwale.

He said some people who believed that Bhindranwale was first caught and then shot dead were wrong, as his eye socket had come out and his legs were damaged due to a grenade attack.

Dr Dalbir Singh said that the Bhindranwale’s body was marked as unknown. But the then Director, Health Services, Dr M.S. Kang, refused to sign the post-mortem report as he personally knew Bhindranwale and directed them to mention his name against his report.

Dr Dalbir Singh said there were around 25 to 30 medical officers to assist him. They had come from Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and other places.


Sena threatens to burn Bhindranwale’s effigies
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 12
The Punjab wing of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) has threatened to burn the effigies of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. At a press conference held here today, state vice-president of the Shiv Sena Parveen Minhas said that the SGPC was trying to disturb the communal harmony in the state by declaring Bhindranwale a martyr and proposing to build a memorial to him.

The move was aimed at dividing the state on communal lines just one and a half years before elections. The SGPC was trying to rake up the issue to help the SAD win the elections.

Mr Minhas also condemned the state government for acting soft on the SGPC. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, instead of acting tough against the communal forces, was praising hardcore terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara.

The recent move of the SGPC had hurt the sentiments of those who had lost kin in the wave of terrorism in the state.

To protest against the move, the Shiv Sena would burn effigies of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur and the Punjab Chief Minister July 19.


Shrub burning dehydrates trees along highways
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kartarpur (Jalandhar), June 12
Hundreds of trees of the Forest Department planted all along the highways connecting Jalandhar with Amritsar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala are facing death due to dehydration caused by burning of the wild shrubs growing in their shades.

Almost all small trees that had been planted in the past three or four years have dried up completely while the lower branches of the older trees have withered. The process of burning the wild shrubs on either side of the highways has been on for the past more than 20 days.

Officials of the Forest Department blame it on the residents. They say that many villagers set these shrubs under the trees on fire as these prove to be a hindrance on paths connecting their houses with the roads. In other cases, they say the residents who have shops on the roadsides were doing so as wild growth was affecting the business.

The residents, on the other hand, blame it on the authorities. They say that since the government departments did not have enough labour to clear the shrubs growing in abundance these days, they were resorting to an easier method by burning them out. Said Shambu, working in a roadside tea stall in Kartarpur: “Since the trees are providing shade to us, why would we kill them? In fact, we heard that the people working with the civic authorities have been engaging their men for this task.”

Mr Lakhbir Singh, an environmentalist, said it was really touching to see scores of small trees, which had been raised with much of an effort in the past four or five years, dying due to dessication all along the GT Road. He said many tall trees too seemed to be withering away as they probably could not bear the shock of flames, standing in hot weather with no water supply in the soil to revive them. He further added that even the soil health was affected due to burning as soil-friendly insects and microbes also died in the process.

Mr Sanjeev Kumar, Forest Range Officer, however, did not admit to any major loss. He said that timely efforts were being made to give a new lease of life to all trees, including the small as well as older ones. He said he had sent his teams at different locations to douse the flames and to water the trees as frequently as possible. He said that his men were also making checks so that no further burning of the forest land took place.


Status report sought on luxury resort
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
A luxury resort being developed on ecologically fragile land in the lower Shivalik Hills near Basali village, Ropar, has caught the attention of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The regional office of the ministry has asked the Punjab Forest Department to file a detailed report on the nature of violations. Depending on the nature of violations, the matter could also be forwarded to the Central Empowered Committee, as had been done in the case of the Forest Hill Resort.

The Regional Conservator of Forests, M S.K. Aggarwal, said the state forest department had been asked to file a report. “ We can comment on the issue after going through the contents of the report which has to be filed by the state”, he added.

It may be mentioned that after the issue was reported in the media, the state forest department marked an inquiry into the matter. The forest department is yet to give its report. According to official sources, a couple of dozen of acres in these foothills have been levelled by the developer of the resort, located about 25 km of the Ropar-Nangal road.

The villagers of the area, however, claim that Gram Panchayats of villages Brari, Basoli, Chandpur and Kangar villages have been knocking at the doors of different officials for the past several months but in vain.

After the matter was reported in the media, the Divisional Forest Officer, Ropar, directed the district revenue authorities to undertake demarcation of the pockets of land, covered under khasra no. 252, 253 and 254. A major portion of the structures has come up on this piece of land.

The district administration after undertaking the demarcation on May 12 has, however, pointed out that the construction on private land was not covered under the forest land Act and also the Punjab land Preservation Act.

However, the forest department did not insist on demarcating the entire area on which other violations have been done. The land surrounding the structures was covered under the Punjab Land Preservation Act and Conservation of Forest Act. The villagers said demarcation of the entire forest area would reveal the truth.

Meanwhile, the panchayats of Kangar, Chandpur Asmani, Basali , Jassa Majra and Kolapur villages in a representation to the revenue authorities has sought that the demarcation exercise of the land be done in their presence.

They alleged when the demarcation was done on May 12, they were not allowed by the police to enter the private area.

The villagers have contested that a major part of the land on which the resort was planned was protected under various provisions of the Forest Act.

In the representation, the villagers said grazing rights on the land had been given to them following different court orders.

The courts had directed the then owners to give half of the share from revenue earned from the sale of grass and timber from the area, covering 13,674 kanals and 18 marlas.


CPI, CPM flay Amarinder govt
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, June 12
Coming down heavily on the Congress government in the state against its privatisation policies, the CPI and the CPM today organised a rally here today.

Workers and supporters of the communist parties raised slogans against the state government and criticised the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for privatising government departments, including education, industrial training institutes, co-operative and others sectors in the state.

Addressing the rally, Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the CPM, alleged that the Punjab Government had forced industries to switch over to the neighbouring states due to its anti-industry policies.

The benefits given to industrialists by the Governments of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir had allured the industrialist to shift base to these states which had caused losses to the state exchequer.

Mr Hardev Singh Arsi of the CPI flayed the government for not providing sufficient subsidies to farmers. He also demanded that the 14 commodities of daily use must be provided at the ration depots in villages to benefit the common man.


BSP demands quota for Sainis
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 12
The national general secretary of the BSP, Mr Narender Kashyap, today demanded reservation for the Saini community in Punjab on the basis of the Mandal Commission while addressing first state-level “Saini Sammelan” held in the Ambedkar Bhavan here this afternoon. The function was held under heavy security as the saini Federation of North India held dharna against the samelan at Bela Chowk.

Giving details, Mr Kahsyap said in several states the Saini community had been included in the backward class category and they were getting benefits but in Punjab they had been deprived off from their rights.

He said the BSP would organise 100 functions in the state to get the support from all sections of the community.

He said the BSP had been making effort at the nation level to bring all sections of the society in the party. On June 9, a Maha Brahaman Samelan was held in Lucknow and the party got enough support from the Brahaman community, he added.

Among the leaders who addressed the samelan include, the state BSP president, Mr Avtar Singh, the state general secretary, Mr Gurmail Singh Saini, the district president, Mr Charanjit Singh Ghai.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Saini Sangharsh Samiti, Mr V.P. Saini, said they lifted the dharna after an appeal made by the district administration. He said the Saini Federation of North India was against the move of the BSP to organise such function in the name of Saini community.


Man sets own house on fire
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, June 12
In a bizarre incident, the owner of a house reportedly set his house on fire in the densely populated Focal Point area this morning.

Sources claimed that the house owner, Rajinder Kumar, under the influence of drugs, set his two-room house, adjacent to a gurdwara, on fire after he had heated arguments with his relatives.

Rajinder Kumar had been staying in the house for the past couple of months after his wife Jaswinder Kaur along with her sons left him.

According to neighbours, Rajinder Kumar turned on an LPG cylinder in the kitchen, bolted the house from the outside and fled after setting it on fire.

The neighbours noticed smoke billowing out of the house and subsequently called the police and the fire department.

By the time a fire engine from the local fire station could arrive, the flames had destroyed everything in the house.

The charred body of a dog was found in the house. Rajinder Kumar had allegedly tied his pet dog inside the house before setting the house of fire.

It took firefighters around one hour to put out the fire. They had to break wall to gain access into the house.

The neighbours searched for Rajinder Kumar and informed his relatives about the fire.

They claimed that Rajinder Kumar had admitted that he had set the house on fire.

Relatives of Rajinder Kumar claimed that he was a drug addict and had been harassing his wife for some time.

Following strained relations, his wife Jaswinder Kaur had left him and gone on to live with her sister in Gajju Kheri village, near here.

Rajinder had been pressuring his in-laws to send his wife home.

The police later rounded up Rajinder Kumar and admitted him to the local Civil Hospital.

But he, on pretext of going to the toilet, escaped from the hospital.

No case has been registered against him in this regard.


Punjab may have healthcare city
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Buoyed by reports that healthcare tourism could be the next big thing, the Punjab Government is considering the setting up of a healthcare city in the state.

While the plan is still to be given concrete shape, informed sources say the government will seek private-sector participation in developing a state-of-art city, where quality healthcare will be made available at reasonable charges.

“The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is keen on such a project. We have held preliminary discussions with a couple of healthcare-sector leaders. The response has been encouraging. We will seek the Union Government’s assistance also in this sector,” says Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla when asked about the plan.

Reports of surveys and studies conducted by many agencies in the recent past have said that India could become the hub of global medical tourism, which could become a major source of revenue in the years to come. Punjab, due to its proximity to Pakistan, has been identified as one state which could benefit from medical tourism.

“Quality medical services, coupled with the fact that these come at charges much lower than those prevailing in the West, make Punjab an exciting destination for medical tourism,” was the unanimous view at a seminar organised by the CII recently.

Says Mr Harpal Singh, Chairman, Fortis Hospital and SRL-Ranbaxy: “One of the major advantages in Punjab’s favour is its proximity to Pakistan, Afghanistan and even West Asia. Medical tourism can be the next major revenue generator for the state.”

Mr Harpal Singh also points to the growing number of non-resident Indians, most of them from Punjab, coming here to get themselves or their kin treated as the cost of medical care in the West is prohibitive, to say the least.

On his part, Mr Singla says that the proposed healthcare city could have a cluster of hospitals, big and small, hotels, laboratories, etc, something similar to Cleveland in the USA.

Experts say that Amritsar, in view of the fact that it already has an international airport, could be the perfect choice for the project. However, Mr Singla refuses to be drawn into any discussion on the issue of where the healthcare city could be located. “That would be for the experts to decide,” is all he says.


Herbal park a success
Ravinder Sud

Hoshiarpur, June 12
Herbal Garden, recently established by the Integrated Watershed Development Project (Hills II) at Satial, has become a centre of attraction not only for students but also for those persons who are interested in ayurvedic medicines. The garden has been set up to protect and grow rare medicinal plants and provide knowledge about them to the general public, especially students of ayurvedic colleges.

Mr D. Rajasekar, Divisional Forest Officer, Integrated Watershed Development Project, said more than 70 types of medicinal pants had been planted in the garden. It was established in more than one acre of Modern Nursery Complex and was catering to demands of the local people. A documentation-cum-training centre is also functioning in the complex.

While briefing about the medicinal values of some of the plants, Mr Rajasekar said that rhizomes of acorus calamus (safed batch) is used medically as carminative stimulant and tonic. Powered rhizome is useful against bugs, moths, lice, etc. It is also used for diarrhoea, epilepsy, delirium, hysteria and loss of memory.

The leaves of adhatoda vasica (arusha) are the source of an indigenous drug known as vasaka which is used as an expectorant and to relieve coughs. Aegle marmelos (bel) is one of the ingredients of dasamula drug of ayurveda. It is also used as astringent, stomachic, diarrhoea, cooling, laxative and diuretic.

Amomum aromaticum (badi elaichi) is used as a flavouring agent for sweet dishes, cakes and pastries, etc. It is preventative and curative for throat troubles, congestion of lungs, inflammation of eye lids, digestive disorders and even in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Andrographis paniculata (kalmegh) is used as a bitter tonic, febrifuge, anti-dysenteric, anti-periodic, jaundice, anemia, loss of appetite and antidote for snake venom. Decoction of boaerhavia diffusa (punernava) plant is used in kidney problems. It is also used to increase coolness of body, remove phlegm, relieve constipation and kills intestinal worms.

The leaves of digitalis purpurea (fox glove) are the source of important cardiac medicines.

Mr D. Rajasekar briefed about the importance of 60 medicinal plants and their use in preparing medicines for various ailments. He said that the climatic conditions in the area were favourable for the growing of medicinal plants.


No pesticides found in blood samples: docs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
While samples analysed by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found a “cocktail of pesticides in human blood”, doctors working in the Forensic Laboratory at Patiala in a study conducted on samples of human blood and urine obtained from different sources found “nothing” alarming.

The Patiala Forensic Laboratory, which also undertook about 2500 cases of viscera examination last year, found presence of organophosphorus compounds (OPC) only in 10 per cent cases. “In fact no poison has been reported in about 20 per cent cases,” said Dr D.C. Sharma, Chemical Examiner, Punjab.

“A study has been recently conducted at the state chemical laboratory in Patiala on the possibility of insecticides used over crops interfering in the examination of viscera. Samples of vegetables and other eatables available in the market were subjected to chemical analysis for the presence of insecticides and pesticides such as OPC, chlorocompound (CC) or aluminium phosphide(celphos).

“No poison has been detected in the substance of any eatable or vegetable tested. Samples of blood and urine of human beings obtained from different sources such as blood banks, clinical laboratories and volunteers have also been tested for traces of insecticides and pesticides. None of these samples, have tested positives for any poison,” said Dr Sharma, holding that “pesticides or chemicals used over vegetables or other eatables may alter the qualities of these eatables in some way to harm the human population but are not present in the forms or quantities to be detected by routine laboratory tests.”

Interestingly, Dr Sunita Narain of CSE had said that samples of blood taken from villagers of Bathinda and Ropar districts, where incidence of cancer has been alarmingly high, pesticides were found in all samples. These samples, she had maintained, had six to 13 different pesticides. And the presence of these chemicals in blood samples was far higher than permissible levels. In some cases, it was 15 to 600 times higher than the permissible limit.

While the Patiala team found nothing alarming in its study, Dr Sunita Narain, had quoted a diet study conducted by scientists of CS Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, which found presence of chemicals both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian food

What could be the reason for such contradictory findings ?

There is little attention being paid to fix the standards to make human food safe. The standards for acceptable daily intake (ADI) of chemicals, including pesticides and insecticides, and the maximum residual (of chemicals) intake (MRI), are yet to be set and enforced.

Interestingly, in the absence of standards, detection of chemicals in blood and urine samples may not always be authentic as has been often the case when samples are tested at government laboratories. For examples, 68 pesticides have been recommended for use in paddy crop, but MRI for only 41 of these has been fixed. Of the 13 pesticides recommended for use in sugarcane crop, MRI of only four has been approved by the government.


Banks to disburse Rs 870 cr loans
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 12
Banks in Ropar will disburse over Rs 870 crore loans in various categories during the 2005-2006 financial year. Announcing this, the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S. Grewal, stated that the agriculture and allied sector in the district would get the largest share out of this.

Focus would be on irrigation, dairy development, land development, horticulture and creation of self-help groups, specially Dalit women. Following the success of krishi card, the banks planned to start the “sve- rozgar” credit card scheme in Ropar for small enterprenuers in the non-farm sector.

Mr Grewal was chairing a meeting of bankers held at the PUDA building here today. Addressing media-persons, Mr Grewal pointed out that Rs 524 crore would be given as loans in the agriculture and allied sector and another Rs 168 crore would be disbursed in the other priority sector, including housing, education, professionals, self-help groups and small transporters. Rs 96 crore would be set aside for the non-farm sector, including the industry. Another Rs 80 crore would be disbursed in the non-priority sector.

Mr Grewal added that the banks had recorded achievements in the district in giving loans in the past financial year. The banks had disbursed Rs 738.61 crore as credit to various sectors as against a target of Rs 557.81 in 2004-2005, stated Mr Dinesh Kumar Kapila, District Development Manager, Nabard, Ropar. “We have overshot our target in every sector. In agriculture and allied sector, we had a target of Rs 381 crore while we gave credit worth Rs 384.3 crore. In other priority sector, the banks disbursed credit worth Rs 230 crore as against a target of Rs 115 crore. But we are proud of our achievement in the non-farm sector where we had disbursed loans worth Rs 91 crore as against out target of Rs 62.13 crore, said Mr Kapila.

Among the various block in Ropar, 46 per cent of the total disbursement had been given in Kharar, the highest in the district followed by Morinda where 13.12 per cent of the credit was disbursed, 11.97 per cent in Ropar, 8.30 per cent in Chamkaur Sahib 6.85 per cent in Majri, 7.70 per cent in Anandpur Sahib and 5.47 per cent in Noorpur Bedi.

Mr H.I.S. Grewal added that the banks had also recorded 80 per cent recovery and for defaulters the banks were taking the help of the local administration for recoveries.


Baba vacates Rs 4-cr land of trust
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 12
Prime city land worth over Rs 4 crore which was under the illegal possession of a religious figure of the city for over 15 years, was got vacated by the Jalandhar Improvement Trust under an amicable settlement with the baba today.

Nearly one acre of land in the Guru Ravidass Nagar locality, allegedly was in possession of the influential baba, who was also running a charitable trust and a hospital, for nearly six years even after he lost the case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, who visited the place, appealed to all residents of the city who were in illegal possession of government lands to vacate them in service to society. “I am thankful to babaji who paid heed to requests of Improvement Trust Chairman Tejinder Bittu and agreed to vacate the land,” said Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.

Mr Bittu said the trust would construct 60-70 ultra-modern super deluxe flats on the land. He said the flats would have all modern facilities, including, elevators.

Earlier, trust staff demolished the huge structure which had come up at the place during the past several years. A board depicting that the land belonged to the trust was also put up at the place.


Commissioner asks officials to assess loss by squall
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 12
The Commissioner of Ferozepore and Faridkot Division, Mr. K S Sidhu, today instructed the Deputy-Commissioners of all the district of the Malwa belt to assess the loss and damage incurred by the high velocity storm which lashed this area on June 9 and send their report immediately so that adequate compensation could be granted to the affected people.

In the flash message sent to all district headquarters of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Muktsar, Moga, Mansa and Bathinda, Mr Sidhu instructed them to ensure the restoration of power and supply of potable water in urban and rural pockets with the assistance of departments concerned.

The power in all these areas had been adversely affected as dozens of transformers and electricity poles had been uprooted.


Plea for security to human rights activist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
The president of the Sarv Sanjhi Indian Party and a prominent social activist, Mr Baljeet Singh Naik, yesterday moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) for providing security to a local human rights activist.

In an application before the PSHRC, Mr Naik said Mr Arvind Thakur, general secretary of the local unit of the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), faced threats from the anti-social elements and the police officials as he had been exposing their acts of omission and commission.

Mr Naik, who blew the lid off the kidney scam in Punjab a few years back, alleged that anti-social elements and the police might try to harm Mr Thakur. He urged the commission to order the Punjab DGP or some central agency to provide security to Mr Thakur.


Cops, scribes organise chabeel
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 12
Kharar police in collaboration with the Chandigarh and Punjab Union of Journalists organised a chabeel to mark the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev Singh that would fall on June 16. The chabeel was put up on the Kharar -Mohali road.

According to DSP Kharar, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, this is the first time the Kharar police had collaborated in a social service venture in with journalists. Mr Sandhu said a blood donation camp would also be organised at the Civil Guest House on June 16 to mark the day in collaboration with the association.

Mr Nitin Jain, district convenor of the association, Mr Darshan Singh Sodhi, Mr Ashwani, SHO Kharar Mr Gurcharan Singh, additional SHO Mr Jarnail Singh were among those present at the chabeel venue.


Fire in Dhuri MC office
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 12
Due to a reported short-circuit, fire broke out in the meeting hall of the Municipal Council (MC) at Dhuri, about 15 km from here, last night. The fire was extinguished with the help of a fire engines from Sangrur in about 20 minutes.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone this afternoon, Mr Parminder Singh, Executive Officer (EO) of the MC, said due to the fire some chairs, a table, fans and other goods had been damaged. He further said though the important record of the MC was safe, the fire had damaged some very old record and unused stationery items.

However, the exact loss to the property of the MC could not be assessed immediately, but it would be around Rs 1 lakh, he added.


Ashes immersed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 12
The ashes of the former Principal Secretary, General Administration, Punjab, Daljit Jajee, were immersed in Sutlej near Gurdwara Patalpuri Sahib today by her husband Inderjit Singh Jejee, ex-MLA. She had died on June 9 at Chandigarh.


Judicial remand for Dal Khalsa leaders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 12
Kanwar Pal Singh, alias Bittu, and Sarabjit Singh Ghuman, national general secretary and district president, Dal Khalsa, respectively, were remanded in judicial custody till June 26 here today.

The Kotwali police had arrested both of them on June 8 for organising a march on the eve of the anniversary of Operation Bluestar.

On the same day the police had also registered a case against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Jagjit Singh Chohan, President, Khalsa Raj Party, along with 10 others for raising demand of Khalistan in front of Akal Takht to mark “genocide day” on June 6.

Bittu, while talking to this correspondent, said that they had been kept at joint interrogation centre, Mall Mandi, for the past three days. He claimed that they had been booked on false charges as they had neither delivered any seditious speech nor raised any slogans in favour of Khalistan.


Former Allahabad HC Judge found innocent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Allahabad High Court’s retired Judge Justice R.K. Mahajan has clarified that the Punjab police — after looking into a complaint filed against him and his brother — found them innocent. He was reacting to a news item, “Ex-Judge in land misuse case”, carried in these columns on June 3.

In a communication to The Tribune, Justice Mahajan said the complaint was forwarded to the police by the Additional Chief Commissioner of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

Justice Mahajan said he joined the investigations and explained to the authorities concerned that they had neither carved out any colony, nor were they acting as land promoters or agents. The authorities were also told that they had simply sold their share of joint holding in Pathankot.

Satisfied with the explanation in the matter, the police submitted its report to Gurdaspur’s Sessions Judge at the time of confirmation of anticipatory bail. Taking up the matter, the Judge on January 1, 2003, observed that in view of the police report, the applicants were not required in any case as they had been found innocent during the investigations.

Justice Mahajan concluded that the news-report was not fair piece of reporting and was likely to interfere in matter which was subjudice before a magistrate.


9 PAU scientists invited to Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 12
Nine scientists from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, have been invited to International Conference of Horticulture to be held in Pakistan. Four of them are posted at the Regional Fruit Research Station of the PAU here.

The invitation was extended by Dr Mohammad Ashfaq, winner of Taghma-i-Imtiaz for his outstanding performance, Dean, faculty of Agriculture on behalf of University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. The university will be hosting the conference to promote horticulture by group discussions on research work undertaken by the scientists.

Those invited include Mr Varinder Kumar Vij, senior scientist, Mr Satish Kumar Thathai scientist, Mr Jagdev Singh Josan, senior horticulturist and Mr Surinder Kumar Thind, virologist. Others on the list are Mr Yog Raj Chanana, Mr Ajit Singh Dhatt and Mr Vipan Mahajan posted at PAU, Ludhiana, Mr Wasakha Singh Dhillon, RFRS Gangian, and Mr Pushpinder Singh Aulakh, as Director RFRS Balachaur.

This will be first visit of horticulturists from this region to Pakistan. The conference might open new vistas as kinnows grown in Lyallpur were considered more sweet and good in size as compared to fruit in the area.


Woman’s death case: in-laws booked
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 12
A married woman died under mysterious circumstances at Quadi Hatti in the heart of the town. According to Dr J.K. Jain, SSP of Batala police district, a case has been registered against the husband and mother-in-law of the woman. Her body was cremated today after a post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital, Batala. No arrests have been made so far.

Narinder Kaur (35), aka Payal, daughter of late Labh Singh of Tarn Taran, was married to Rakesh Arora three years ago. Mahinder Kaur, sister of the victim, told mediapersons that Narinder Kaur was not happy at her in-laws’ house.

She had been beaten up many times and felt insecure, she alleged. She said that they received a phone call that Narinder Kaur had fallen from the stairs and injured on June 2 at late night .

Relatives of the deceased told mediapersons that they had waited for 10 days for Narinder Kaur to regain consciousness so that she might tell the truth, but that didn’t happen. Suspecting murder, they lodged a report with the police.

A case was registered against the husband of the deceased, Rakesh, and her mother-in-law Santosh Arora. The deceased woman leaves behind a one-and-a-half-year-old child.


Woman thrashed, thrown naked on street
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 12
A woman in her 40s hailing from Gahiri Buttar village was brutally thrashed by some villagers and thrown on a street after tearing her clothes to shreds. The police has registered a case against the accused.

Police sources said the accused — Mukhtiar Singh, his wife Kapa Kaur, and their sons Sira Singh and Raja Singh — “abducted” the victim, Chhinder Kaur, when she was standing at a shop. The accused reportedly beat her up first and tied her suit with her stomach. The sources said the accused threw her on a street in naked condition. A number of villagers were present on the street at that time. The victim herself got up and walked down to her home in the same condition. The house of the accused was locked today. However, the Sangat police has arrested Kapa Kaur.

The sources said the son of Chhinder Kaur, Kuldeep Singh, had illicit relations with Sira Singh’s wife. Two days ago when Kuldeep went to her home, Sira and Mukhtiar had thrashed him. Sira neither reported the matter to the panchayat nor to the police. Sira also reportedly threatened Kuldeep with dire consequences.

DSP (Rural), Sukhdev Singh Chahal admitted that the incident had taken place and they had booked the accused. He told that the victim’s clothes were recovered from the home of the accused.


3 die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 12
Two residents of Anand Nagri here and the driver of their vehicle were killed in a road accident on the Abohar-Bikaner road this morning.

According to information received here, Gurdial Singh (50), owner of a fleet of trucks, and his son, Lali (29), were seated next to the driver in the truck that collided head on with a tractor-trailer around 9.30 a.m. today. All the three were killed on the spot.

The bodies had not been received here so far.


Cong leader’s son booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 12
Mr Tarlok Singh Chakwalia’s son Bhag Singh and two others were booked under Sections 382, 34 of the IPC by the Bhikhiwind police on Friday last night for looting Rs 25,000 from a resident of Bhaini Gurmukh Singh village.

Mr Chakwalia had unsuccessfully contested the Patti Vidhan Sabha election as a Congress candidate in February, 2002.

The police sources said yesterday that besides Bhag Singh the other accused had been identified as Kapur Singh of Bhaini Gurmukh Singh and Inderjit Singh of Maniala village. The accused are allegedly responsible for looting the money from Mr Sadhu Singh of Bhaini Gurmukh Singh village.


1 held for smuggling poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, June 12
The police has arrested Lal Singh, alias Lali, a Ludhiana resident, for smuggling 80 kg of poppy husk. Besides recovery of the contraband, the police has also impounded the vehicle used by the suspect.

According to police, the man was travelling in an Indica car (PB-10AS-6553) with the contraband in four polythene bags when the police trapped him at a naka on the GT Road in Vakshiwal village. The car driver, Lal Singh, was allegedly smuggling the poppy husk to Ludhiana from Uttar Pradesh.

A case has been registered at Rajpura police station.


Off-campus centres’ students in a quandary
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 12
Thousands of students across the state are allegedly being duped by illegal off campus centres of deemed universities “located outside the state”. There are about 25 off-campus centres of deemed universities of other states, running two-year diploma course in veterinary pharmacy in Punjab.

In Gurdaspur district alone, at least three such centres owing affiliation to the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, a deemed university located in Sardarshahr Rajasthan, are operating. Each centre has enrolled nearly 200 students. One of centres of Swami Vivekanand Institute of Veterinary Science is located in Talwara Jattan village on the Punjab-Himachal border.

The said institute was earlier located in the Damtal area of Himachal. However, when the Himachal authorities reportedly decided to take action against the persons running it, the institute was shifted to Talwara Jattan village in Punjab.

The institutions are being run despite the fact that the Punjab Government has issued a notification that two-year veterinary pharmacy course being run by deemed universities of other states would not fetch any government job for students.

Earlier, the Students Federation of India (SFI), a student body of Himachal, had written to the UGC to clarify the status of the off campus centres being run by the said deemed university of Rajasthan. The UGC in a reply to the SFI had clarified that said deemed university had not been authorised to run campus centres or the distance education programmes.

After the clarification, the centres of university in Himachal Pradesh were closed. Some of these centres were shifted to the adjoining areas of Punjab to escape action from the Himachal authorities.

The students pursuing whole-time courses in these off campus centres are a harried lot. While talking to The Tribune, students said they had paid a hefty fee for enrolment in the courses. The Punjab Government should take action against the persons running such centres if they deem them to be illegal. Besides losing money they will lose their precious two academic years if their degree was not considered valid by the state government.

Mr Pankaj Bhanot the Chairman of the Swami Vivekanand Institute of Veterinary Sciences, running in Talwara Jattan village, when contacted, said they had challenged the decision of the Punjab Government to derecognise their course in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The institution was opened in response to open advertisements issued by the deemed university in newspapers. Payments to the university are being made through bank drafts. However, if the deemed university was running the courses illegally, the government should take action against the university, he said.

The Joint Director Animal Husbandry, Mr V.K. Gupta, when contacted said the case of campus centres of deemed universities, running veterinary pharmacy courses, was under the consideration of the legal branch.


Fall in water table worries experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 12
The indiscriminate use of ground water to increase foodgrain production, unscientific crop pattern clubbed with increasing population, change in lifestyle and injudicious use of the water were major factors for the depleting water table in the state said scholars who participated in a seminar on ‘recharging of water wealth in Punjab’ organised at Guru Nanak Dev University, here on Friday.

The large-scale cultivation of rice alongwith socio economic changes, use of submersible pumps for irrigational purposes had resulted in a steep decline in state’s water table was noted.

The seminar was jointly organised by the Amritsar Environment Committee, the Amritsar Vikas Manch and INTACH local chapter in collaboration with the department of Applied Chemical Science and Technology, GND varsity.

Presenting the keynote address, Dr Bhajan Singh, a former Dean, highlighted the growing concern over dipping water table and supported it by quoting from data collected by him.

Along with rice cultivation and socio economic changes he held the state responsible for vanishing ponds, reservoirs, wells etc for usage by animals.

Suggesting rain water harvesting that was catching up in Delhi, he stressed that the urban areas in the state especially commercial and government buildings could lead the way in this direction with underground storage tanks that could be used for watering, gardening, washing and related works.

Mr Harkamaljit Singh, Head, Department of Applied Chemical Sciences and Technology, Dr Sukhdev Singh from INTACH, Mr Prabdayal Singh Randhawa incharge Environment Committee, Mr Jagmohan Singh, Amritsar Vikas Manch, were of the view that the government should plan catchments areas of rivers like the Ravi, Beas, Sutlej for growing superior quality basmati rice both for export and local consumption.

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 |