P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Statewide protest by Left parties
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, June 28
Activists of the district unit of the CPM, led by district secretary Bant Singh Namol, today blocked the traffic by holding a demonstration for about two hours at the traffic lights chowk, near main bus stand here, in protest against the hike in the prices of diesel and petrol. The protesters asked the government to withdraw the hike.

Addressing the activists Mr Namol lashed out at the UPA government by saying that it was not serious in implementating the common minimum programme (CMP), which was evident from the recent hike in the prices. He said the left parties were supporting the government from outside, so it was the prime duty of the government to maintain the sanctity of the CMP, whose violation would not be tolerated. He also criticised the Punjab Government for increasing the power tariff.

Mr Dev Raj Verma, state secretary of the CITU, condemned state government for its privatisation move. He asked the government to create employment avenues by setting up more industrial units in the state.

Among others who addressed the activists included Mr Prem Singh Swtantar, district committee member of the party, Mr Kalicharan Kaushik, senior leader of the Khet Mazdoor Union, Mr Ram Singh Sohian, president, Lal Jhanda FCI Paledar and Workers Union (CITU), and Mr Amrik Singh Moranwali, leader of the party.

BATHINDA: Activists of the Left parties today blocked road and rail traffic at Bhai Bakhtaur village on Bathinda-Mansa road between 12 noon and 4 pm.

Mr Jagtar Singh Joga and Mr Buta Singh district secretaries of Bathinda and Mansa CPI, respectively, and Harnek Singh, CPM leader, led the protest. Mr Joga alleged that the police flag marched in the village to create panic among residents and kept CPI workers under house arrest till 12 noon. The party activists braved hot weather conditions and sat on the railway track for four hours.

SIRSA: The Left parties here staged a protest march against the UPA government. Activists of the both CPI and the CPM raised slogans against the price hike.

Addressing gathering, speakers demanded an immediate roll back of the prices. They said the recent hike by the UPA had hit the common man severely. Leaders of the both parties cautioned the Congress party maintain the sanctity of the CMP.

The activists also undertook the protest march through important public places of the town and later submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

HOSHIARPUR: Workers of the CPI and the CPM, led by Principal Joginder Singh and comrade Gurmesh Singh, both district secretaries of their respective party units, staged protest march and blocked traffic at Session Chowk from 12.00 noon to 1.00 p.m. today to show their resentment.

Earlier, they staged a massive rally at Shaheed Udham Singh Park. All speakers strongly condemned the government for its alleged anti-people policies.

ABOHAR: The police here dragged CPI workers as they jammed traffic at the municipal bus stand here braving scorching heat responding to the nationwide call.

The authorities, observing nerves of the workers, deployed Executive Magistrate M.L. Puri and a large number of policemen around the bus stand. Agitated workers succeeded in breaking the police cordon and laid down on the road. Buses overloaded with passengers were forced to return to the stands. Some workers were rounded up but released by the police after taking them away in vehicles. They shouted slogans against the police also and staged a dharna blocking entry to the water works.


Protest against hike in petro prices
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, June 28
Opposing hike in the prices of petroleum and its products, activists of the CPI and the CPM staged a protest against the UPA government here today. The protesters were later arrested while they moved towards the Ambala-Amritsar railway line to block the rail traffic. The protest was organised on a nationwide “Rail roko” call given by the parties jointly.

Noticing the situation going beyond control, the Deputy Magistrate enforced Section 144 of the CrPC and rounded up protesters.

Led by Prof Balwant Singh, state secretary, CPM, and Dr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, the protesters raised anti-government slogans and flayed the UPA government for putting additional burden on the common man.

While addressing the gathering, the leaders said the hike in prices had put an additional burden of Rs 22,500 crore on the country.

To avoid any untoward incident, the administration had deployed adequate police force. Additional companies of the Punjab police commandos were also deployed along the tracks.

The police arrested Prof Balwant Singh, Dr Joginder Dyal along with their supporters in large number. The protesters were let off in the evening.


Hectic lobbying for Congress chief
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Various groups of the ruling Congress have become hyperactive to build pressure on the party high command in connection with the appointment of president and working president (s) of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC).

While the incumbent President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who has the support of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mrs Ambika Soni, is trying hard for another term, the party high command has not given any inkling in this regard.

Sources said that the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, wanted a Dalit leader to head the PPCC while the working president (s) should be appointed from the Hindu community. The Dalit leaders whose names are being considered for the top job include Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Chowdhary Santokh Singh and Chowdhary Gurmail Singh.

Among the Hindu leaders who are in the race for the office of working president (s) are Mr Ram Pal Daipy, Mr Brij Lal Goyal and Mr Manish Tewari. Mr Daipy is at present general secretary of the PPCC and Mr Goyal has been Vice-President of the party for the past several years. Mr Tewari was the Congress candidate from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency.

A decision in this connection is expected to be taken after Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s return to Delhi from Shimla. Sources said that a new proposal had been mooted to the party high command regarding the appointment of working president (s) by one powerful group of Congress leaders from Punjab.

The group says that one working President should be appointed for the entire Malwa region, where the number of Assembly constituencies is 60 — more than 50 per cent of the total seats of the state Assembly. The Congress is weak in the Malwa belt. By appointing a working president exclusively for the Malwa region, where the Aggarwal community dominates in the urban areas, the Congress can strengthen its base, say Congress leaders lobbying with the high command in this connection.

Another working president should be appointed for the Doaba and Majha region where the Congress has performed well since Independence except on a few occasions. Both the working presidents should work under the overall supervision of the PPCC president.

The party high command has been told by various Punjab Congress leaders that a balance should be maintained among various communities while deciding important positions in the party and in the government. At the moment, both the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minster are from the Jat-sikh community.

As the party is keen to appoint a president of the PPCC from the Dalit community it means that no importance is being given to the vast section of the Hindu community engaged in trade and business in urban areas. By and large, this community has always backed the Congress in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.


Villagers pool resources to construct bridge
Govt’s promises proved hollow, says ex-sarpanch
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

The ground work for the bridge in progress near Kanya Hussaini village in Ludhiana district.
The ground work for the bridge in progress near Kanya Hussaini village in Ludhiana district. — Photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Kanya Hussaini (Jagraon), June 28
Fed up with hollow promises of politicians and dilly-dallying by bureaucracy, residents of 20 villages situated on the bank of Sutlej today started building a bridge across a drain on their own so that they do not remain isolated for over two months of monsoon, as has been their fate since Independence of the country.

The bridge will check also deaths due to drowning as more than 15 persons have died in the past five years while crossing the flooded drain. The government’s commitment of development stands exposed with the plight of these villages. Villagers were unhappy with successive governments but preferred to construct the bridge to staging demonstrations.

Pooling their resources, the residents led by present and former sarpanches today started building a bridge over the Jassowal drain which has become a rivulet of sorrow for these villages. Constructed in 1954 to check water-logging, the drain had started carrying flood waters of Sutlej and inundated all routes to these villages.

“We are fed up with waiting for the government to start construction of the bridge which politicians and bureaucrats have been promising ever since the drain was dug up. We don’t want to remain water-locked this monsoon and have very less time at our disposal” said Mr Gurdev Singh ex-sarpanch of Sherewal village.

He and his brother Prem Singh have put in Rs one lakh and started the work with the help of tractors. “The district administration has been telling us that they need Rs 70 lakh for the project but we plan to complete the bridge with Rs 10 lakh that we would arrange from nearly 20 villages” Mr Gurdev Singh said. He hoped that may be some donors would also come forward for help.

When completed the bridge will become the life line for villages — Kanya Hussaini, Sherewal, Baghian, Bahadar Ke, Mand Tihara, Subhajpur, Patti Multani, Kaker, Parjian Biharipur, Khurshedpura, Hujra, Bhaini Gujran and others.

Development has not reached these villages though big promises have come up. One of such foundation stones stands just near the bridge site on the Kanya Hussaini-Sherewal road. It is claimed that a former Akali member of Parliament, Amrik Singh Aliwal had donated Rs one lakh for starting the construction of the bridge. The work never started.

Mr Gurdev Singh claimed that the money never reached the panchayat. His wife was sarpanch of the village at that time, “We inquired from the district administration several times about the grant given by Mr Aliwal but none kinows anything about it whereas Mr Aliwal had handed over the cheque to certain officials of the Rural Development and Panchayats.”

Villagers hoped that they would manage to get extended a bus route after the construction of the bridge. It is one of the rare places in Punjab where no bus reaches. A metalled road from Kanya Hussaini ends abruptly at the drain , near the foundation stone.

The villagers have not taken the help of Engineer so far and were confident that they could build the bridge on their own.


Many in race to preserve Master Tara Singh’s belongings
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 28
Various Panthic organisations are now vie with each other to preserve the house, personal belongings and historical documents of legendry Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh, who had been virtually forgotten by the SGPC and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) after his death.

While the SGPC chief , Bibi Jagir Kaur, has said that the personal belongings of Master Tara Singh would be preserved in bulletproof cases and efforts would be made to preserve his house, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, has offered to bear all costs for the venture.

He said a delegation of the DSGMC would meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, tomorrow for installing a lifesize statue of Master Tara Singh at Malka Chowk.

He said the DSGMC would also urge the Chief Minister to name the Jallianwala road after the name of Master Tara Singh who had played historical role at the time of Partition of the country.

Mr Sarna said it was a matter of concern that the Sikh leadership had ignored the contributions of Master Tara Singh who had occupied the centre stage of Sikh politics for more than five decades. He was the one who had steered the Sikhs into India and raised the slogans ‘Pakistan murdabad’ for which 59 members of his family were hacked to death by Muslim fundamentalists.

Mr Charnjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, said he would endeavour to put the portrait of Master Tara Singh in the Central Library of Parliament in coming days.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), announced that the historical documents belonging to Master Tara Singh would be brought from Lahore, London and various parts of the country and displayed at the two-day seminar, that was proposed to be held here from July 16. He said the AISAD had formed on 11-member committee comprising Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, president of the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, Principal Bharpur Singh, Mr Jaswant Singh Phul, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Gur-rattan Singh and Bibi Kiranjot Kaur etc. The proposed seminar would be inaugurated by Sant Singh Teg, a companion of Master Tara Singh. A prestigious award would also be instituted in the name of Master Tara Singh, he added.

However, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, president, SAD (Longowal), has criticised both the SAD and the SGPC for having failed to celebrate the birth anniversary of Master Tara Singh. He sought public apology from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, for ignoring the contributions of the legendry Sikh leader.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said the family members of Master Tara Singh should present his personal belongings to the SGPC so that these could be displayed in a proper way for the Sikh masses. She said funds won’t come in the way of raising befitting museum in the name of Masterji.


Jobless ETT teachers protest outside Singla’s residence
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 28
The Unemployed ETT Teachers Union today protested outside the residence of Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla here and pasted its charter of demands on the gate. A large number of jobless ETT teachers from Muktsar and Faridkot also reached the city for the protest. The union’s rally reached Mr Singla’s residence after passing through main areas of the city. The police was deployed at the minister’s residence to check any untoward incident. When no official came out to receive the charter of the demands the ETT teachers pasted it on his gate.

Addressing the rally, state’s union vice-president Jagsir Singh Sahota, warned that they would gherao Punjab Cabinet Ministers after holding a huge rally in Sangrur on July 3 if the recommendations of the Bhattal Committee were not endorsed in the forthcoming Cabinet meeting on June 30.

The union has made its intention of maintaining the pressure on the state government clear. The union leaders claimed that the Bhattal Committee report was against privatisation of government primary schools and had supported regular recruitment of teachers. They claimed that the panel had recommended recruitment of 13,000 teachers. These leaders said they were still apprehensive of the state government’s intention due to which they had formed a strategy for continuing their stir in coming days. They warned that if the state government didn’t come out with advertisement for recruitment of 6,000 teachers on June 30 they would not allow any minister or MLA to enter his Assembly constituency on July 3.

JALANDHAR: Demanding regular employment for the ETT youth in government schools, members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union held a rally at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall here today.

The union members decided to give memoranda of their demands to the four Cabinet ministers hailing from the district. The rallyists went to the camp offices of Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Mr Mahinder Singh Kaypee, Transport Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies and Ch Jagjit Singh, Minister of Local Bodies.


State set to give NRIs a taste of rural Punjab
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, June 28
The Department of Punjab Tourism is all set to promote rural tourism in a big way. The huge green expanses - farmhouses- that dot every nook and corner of the state are now being offered to tourists wanting to get a ‘taste of rural Punjab and Punjabiyat.”

Away from the hustle and bustle of cities, these farm houses will offer soothing environs , and an ideal place for foreign-weary NRIs. Here they can reconnect themselves to the charm of their native place - for a small price. Cashing in on the trend in rural tourism successfully implemented by Haryana three years ago, the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation now proposes to make farm houses hot spots for the NRIs.

Though this plan was conceptualized in the state a year ago but it has still to catch up. Eight such properties have already been identified by the department. More applications are pouring in for this venture.

The department has constituted the 17 district tourists and cultural societies for the purpose under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners concerned. Four such societies have already been constituted at Patiala, Kapurthala, Amritsar and Bathinda. Besides this, service providers, bus operators, staff of restaurants and hotels, accountants and various other departments have been 

A family can enjoy its stay at these farm houses by paying an amount of Rs 750 to Rs 1250 per day, inclusive of food expense. The menu is carefully prepared by cuisine experts of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation. Visitors are assured of a real good time if they happen to come around the festival season.

Mr Jagjit Puri, Special Secretary- cum -Director Tourism, Punjab said, “This idea came to mind when I went to ‘Kanaka’ and Bastar in Madhya Pradesh. I just picked up the idea and thought to cash in on it. This project will definitely help the economy and will generate employment also”.

In all 17 districts in Punjab each district will have 20 to 30 farmhouses. It will also create a healthy competition. Initially, about 5000 to 10,000 people visiting these places per month are expected.

Mr Puri said also that the Government of India had sanctioned Rs 8 crore for the state museum project. One such museum would be constructed at ‘Mohindra’ ‘Kothi’ in Patiala and the blueprint had already been sought. For this project the government has granted Rs 4 crore.

To build the museum each Magistrate of the district has been asked to identify such properties. In this project common man will also be involved. If someone has antiques like cloth, articles, coins, they can display their articles.

Answering to a question if the Punjab Tourism was still suffering losses, Mr Puri said “we had suffered a loss of Rs 16 crore nearly two years ago.

But we have come out from these losses slowly. A year before last the loss came to just Rs 1 crore.

Last year it was reduced to Rs 30 lakh. In April and May of this year we has made a profit of Rs 30 lakh and we are expecting a profit of Rs 50 lakh up to June.


Friendship clubs also ‘supply’ men to affluent women
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 28
‘Efficient’ managers of certain “friendship clubs”, engaged in flesh trade under the garb of friendship organisations, not only allegedly arrange and allure young girls and women for males, but, also supply young boys and men for their affluent female customers of Punjab for fun, sex or both “services”.

Interestingly, female customers, particularly, lonely wives of NRIs, not only pay “membership fee” to the club concerned, through which they come in contact with their choicest of men, but, also shower money liberally on their male companions on monthly basis. Apart from bearing the cost of liquor, dresses and other items of daily use, such women customers also provide monthly money packages, ranging between Rs 1,500 and Rs 50,000 for the “services” rendered by their arranged companions.

Enquiries revealed that certain NRI women, who come to the Doaba region for vacation of one to three months also look out for “male keeps” so that the latter could accompany them “as and when desired”. In lieu of this, some “male keeps” even get gifts like cars. So a section of middle income group youngsters of Doaba townships and cities keep waiting for the arrival of middle-aged NRI women so that they can do their “seasonal business”.

As The Tribune enquired into the friendship clubs scam, a female volunteer was engaged for carrying on conversation with one of the club managers in response to an advertisement in a vernacular daily. The manager asks the caller to reveal her identity. As soon as she identified herself as Gurmit, a resident of Jalandhar, and expressed her intention to become a member of the club, a cheerful male voice from the other end asked her to wait for a few minutes. She was then informed that an unknown male “friend” would be calling her within 30 minutes. (The audio-cum-video recording of the conversation is with The Tribune).

The male then enquired from the woman, whether she intended to keep the affair limited to just friendship or wanted to proceed ahead. As the woman revealed her intention to dare further, the male on the other end said,” You don’t have to worry. You can even keep the male friend at your home if your circumstances allow.”

Enquiries further revealed that certain friendship clubs, that are into flesh trade in a covert manner, are keeping a detailed list of their prospective customers and have all personal details of them. As and when any customer, intending to be a member, calls them, they arrange meeting with them on the basis of the requirements. Interestingly, most of such clubs do not charge any membership fee from female members so that they get encouraged to join the club.


Nine doctors, two nurses for 100-bed hospital!
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Samana (Patiala), June 28
The item connected to providing better health facilities to the people seems to have disappeared from the agenda of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and his MP wife, Ms Preneet Kaur. The local 100-bed Civil Hospital authorities have been finding it difficult to take care of a large section of ailing populace of the region for the past many years due to acute shortage of staff.

The hospital authorities have virtually conveyed to the higher authorities that they were unable to run the 100-bed hospital. The hospital had been facing acute shortage of staff. The staff strength was not adequate to run even a 25-bed hospital, they maintain.

Though the authorities concerned have been making efforts to get more staff, they have been unable to achieve any success despite the fact that the hospital falls in the constituency of Ms Preneet Kaur and is located a few kilometres away from the Chief Minister’s home town.

Information collected by TNS revealed that at present, the Civil Hospital authorities were running the hospital with only nine doctors, two staff nurses, two pharmacists and a lab technician.

Not only this, the blood bank, which was equipped with all instruments and appliances, had been lying closed for the past many years due to non-availability of required staff. The only registered ultrasound centre had also not been working for the past more than one year in the absence of a radiologist.

Official sources said fed up with the kind of situation they were faced with, the hospital authorities had made it clear to their superiors that it was not only difficult but impossible to run a 100-bed hospital with that much staff.

The authorities had pointed out that though the hospital was upgraded to 100-bed hospital from 25 bedded hospital about four years ago, it had been functioning with a skeleton staff and hence failing to provide proper health services to the people efficiently and smoothly.

At present, only nine doctors were working against the requirement of 22 doctors. Due to this, some doctors had to sometime perform duties for 30 hours at a stretch. Similarly, only two staff nurses were posted here against the required strength of 25. Only two pharmacists had been handling the workload that was supposed to be shared by 14 pharmacists.

Around 150 major surgeries were being performed every month in absence of an anaesthetist.

Dr Y.P. Singla, Civil Surgeon, said he would take up the matter with the state health authorities personally so that adequate staff could be deployed in the hospital.


RCF employees hold protest
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 28
Employees of the Rail Coach Factory (RFC) are at loggerheads with the administration following recent amendments to the admission guidelines inside the workshop.

Members of various employee union, working in the morning shift, got together outside the workshop and refused to accept the new punching cards being handed over to them by the administration. The members said when they came to attend the office today, the old punching machines had been disconnected and the new ones working on a different pattern had been installed.

The employees said they were told that the services of as many as 40 time office employees, who punched their cards and maintained them in stacks, were being terminated. Instead, they were now being told to keep the punching cards in their own safe custody, failing which they would have to pay Rs 200 to get it renewed. The employees refused to accept the terms and conditions and said they could not be held responsible in case they lost their cards.

As the agitation intensified, the RCF administration called up the police to ensure law and order. Later, it allowed the employees to attend the office without punching their cards, ensuring that the output did not get affected.

In the evening, a few representatives of the employees’ union held a meeting with the Staff Council headed by the Chief Personnel Officer to resolve the issue. However, the two groups could not reach any conclusion and after attending the meeting, the employees held a rally to lodge their protest.

Officers of the RCF maintain that they will have to accept the new guidelines as there has been issued to them by the Railway Board. Mr Yashpal Gupta, General Manager, was not available for comments.


Ban VHP, demand Sikh bodies
Rashmi Talwar and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar June 28
Several Sikh organisations, political parties and the SGPC today opposed remarks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders assembled in the city for national convention.

Calling ban on the convention Sikh organizations alleged that the VHP was creating an “unsavoury” atmosphere by its statements that were “unpalatable” to Sikhs.

SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur terming the statements of the VHP leaders as insulting said no Sikh was a part of the Hindu community and Sikhism was ‘unique’ and ‘separate’ religious identity. She said the statements against minority communities by the majority community were damaging the integrity of the multi-religious fabric of the country.

The Global United Research and Service Institution of Knowledge for Humanity (GURSIKH) a Sikh organization demanded that the state government should ban further activities of the Parishad in the city.

Mr Nirmaljit Singh, chief adviser of the organization demanded a clamp down on the convention and insisted that the VHP should retract their ‘controversial’ statement and tender “public apology” for it. The Shiromani committee lashed out at the VHP for the remarks by its chief Giriraj Kishore that the ‘Khalsa’ was an armed wing of the Hindu society formed to fight the mughals. Mr G.S. Shampura, executive committee member of the SGPC, Mr Harjinder Singh Mehta, Mr Amrik Singh Shahpur, SGPC members, asserted that the VHP’s aim was to spread communal tension.

The offer of installing Guru Granth Sahib in any temple as they (VHP) revered the Holy Scriptures was also objected to by various organisations.

Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary, SAD (A) stated that by terming every Indian born in Hindustan as a ‘Hindu’ by Dr Praveen Togadia, VHP general secretary, the organisation was playing with sentiments of the Sikhs and all other communities in India. He termed the statements as communal for a nation that believed in plurality and multi-communities. Mr Jaswinder Singh, SGPC member, cautioned the VHP against trying to distort the definition of the Sikh or to refer to Sikhs as the armed wing of Hindus. “Sikhs will not tolerate such distortions that were wholly objectionable and derogatory” he asserted .

GURSIKH organization alleged that at the behest of the SAD (B) of Mr Parkash Singh Badal the VHP activists were given accommodation in various sarais at ‘party-level’ by the SGPC.

They said during quadri-century celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib last year Akal Takht had directed that fundamentalists Hindu organisations might not be extended support by the sikh sangat. However, the SGPC itself had allegedly violated the directions.


Sikhs won’t let Guru Granth Sahib in temples, says Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 28
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today announced that the Sikhs won’t allow placing of Guru Granth Sahib in Hindu temples as announced by leaders of the VHP. He said Sikhs enjoyed separate identity as already announced by Akal Takht.

In a statement issued here today, he said the path of Guru Granth Sahib could be performed only at a place where maryada (the Sikh tradition) was maintained. He said the VHP leaders who had described the Sikhs as armed wing of the Hindus should refrain from making such statements, aimed at creating division in society.

Meanwhile, the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta group) has decided to take out a march here tomorrow in protest against the statements of VHP leaders.


Army probing links between Punjab, J&K terrorists
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 28
The Army is keeping a vigil over the possible link between the terrorists operating in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. After the recent arrest of some Punjab terrorists having links with the terrorists in the valley, the Army has been probing into the matter. The Army was probing into the theory propounded by the Punjab and Delhi police that the arms seized from the Punjab terrorists were routed through the valley.

Lieut-Gen Hari Prashad, Commander-in-Chief, Northern Command, said this at a press conference held here today. He was here to inaugurate the new firing range somewhere in the northern sector.

He said terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was dying as the terrorists had lost public support. The recent acts of bombing by terrorists in schools and at public places reflected their desperation.

The Army has made full arrangements for providing security to the pilgrims going for Amarnath yatra. The entire route has been cordoned off by the troops to defeat the nefarious designs of the terrorists.

The fencing on the border has helped in reducing infiltration in the valley. The number of active terrorists in the state has come down to just a few hundred. Even they have lost the public support. The Army was getting information regarding the terrorists from the general public. In near future, the valley would be completely freed from the threat of terrorists. The social welfare programmes launched by the Army were also evoking good response from the public, he said.

When asked about the recent proposal mooted by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, regarding making Siachen Glacier war-free zone, he said it was for the government to decide on matter. The Army would just comply by the orders of the government.


Hawara case: city cops return empty-handed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 28
For the third time in succession, a team of Operation Cell of the Chandigarh Police has returned empty-handed from Delhi, where they had gone to bring the dreaded terrorist, Jagtar Singh Hawara.

The SSP operation Mr L.S. Sandhu told Chandigarh Tribune that a team of the Operation Cell has to return empty handed as a Delhi court has extended remand of Hawara to the special cell of Delhi police till July 7.

Jagtar Singh Hawara, the chief of Babar Khalsa International, is the main accused of Beant Singh assassination and Burail jail break case and is wanted by the Chandigarh police in this connection.

Earlier also the team of Operation Cell had gone to Delhi to bring Hawara on June 20 and 25, but had to come back without success as a Delhi court had given the police remand of Hawara to the Special Cell of the Delhi police and later extended it.

Jagtar Singh Hawara was arrested on June 8 by the Delhi police.


Heat forcing kids to dive to death
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 28
Long unscheduled power cuts in rural areas of the state have led to the death of many children in various districts of Malwa. In the past one week alone, six children, who were bathing at water ponds or minors, got drowned and lost their lives in a bid to beat the heat.

A majority of the children who died were in the age group of 6 to 8.

Last Wednesday, three children at Gurnekala village in Mansa drowned at a water pond where they had gone to get some respite from the sweltering heat. Coincidentally, two of these children — eight-year-old Devinder Singh —and six-year-old Jagjeet Singh — were adopted. The third victim, Ranjeet Singh, also aged six, was the only brother of two sisters.

A day after this incident, two more children drowned at a village near Rampura Phul. The deceased were six-year-old Kirna Rani and seven-year-old Malkit Singh.

However, another child accompanying them was lucky to have survived the tragedy, as villagers rushed to its aid. While these incidents were fresh in the minds of people, 15-year-old Raju of Ganesha Basti, Bathinda, drowned in a canal yesterday. He had gone to take a bath along with his friends. Later, Sahara volunteers fished out his body near the Behman bridge.

After three tragedies and six deaths, no steps have been taken to check this growing practice among rural children and youth. Sources said a large number of kids and youths could be seen taking a dip during daytime in a minor on the outskirts of Rampura Phul.

The sources said about 50 children could be spotted bathing near the Multania bridge at any time of the day. Similar was the scene near the Abohar bridge, the Thermal bridge, the Kothe Amar Pura bridge and Thermal Lake. A majority of these children are in their teens. They dive and swim in the canal as long as they wish and that too without any supervision.

The sources said most of the villages in the area were hardly getting power supply for 8 to10 hours daily and the time for it was also not fixed.

The blistering heat, coupled with no power supply, was forcing these children to step towards water sources like ponds and minors.


Sarpanches for transparency in panchayats’ working
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 28
Alleging that the Panchayati system has become a training school of “corruption”, the Sarpanch Union Punjab, a representative body of Sarpanches of the steate, has urged the state government to ensure transparency in the working of panchayats and plug the loopholes,which, were forcing the sarpanches to go in for corrupt practices for their survival.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr. Sukhdev Singh and Mr. Yaadwinder Singh Sidhu, the president and general secretary of the Sarpanch Union Punjab respectively, alleged that though the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had envisaged panchayat based system for the country, yet, sarpanches were not only treated like slaves, but, they were forced to give in to the existing corrupt system and practices. “For an example, the rate of one thousand of bricks in Faridkot is around Rs. 1800, but, the maximum limit of a sarpanch the purchase the same was at Rs. 1400 per 1000 bricks. From where he would make up the balance? In such a situation, he has no other alternative but to show false bills. When a sarpanch says no to “beggar” ordered by some official, he is subjected to an enquiry on such accounts, which, again pushes him to give in to the existing system or to toe the line of officials or political leaders,” rued Mr. Sukhdev Singh and Mr. Sidhu.

They also alleged that in police stations, sarpanches were not being given due respect and rather they were, usually, seen as “middlemen’ by police officials, which, again, was against the very spirit of the Panchayati Raj dream.

The union also demanded honourarium on the lines of the MLAs and more rights so that they could function independently and without yielding to any pulls and pressures.


Punjab prisoners may take ‘Gandhi Peace Exam’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Punjab is open to implementation of a programme that has changed the face of some Maharashtra prisons. Very soon, the inmates of jails in Punjab will be encouraged to take the “Gandhi Peace Exam,” an initiative first launched in Mumbai’s Thane Central Jail by NGO Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal.

Motivational to the core, the programme is unique by all standards as it is designed to bring jail inmates into the Gandhian fold. In January this year when the experiment was first conducted on 68 inmates of Thane Central Jail in Mumbai, the results were not just impressive, they were heartwarming too.

The top scorer in the exam was Ravindra Mhatre, a prime accused in case related to illicit liquor that claimed several lives in Mumbai in December, 2002. His reaction after going through the 21-day programme that precedes the final examination was, “Why did you not touch my life earlier? I would have been spared of this life of drudgery.”

Learning from the Maharashtra experience, the Punjab Department of Prisons has also given a nod to the proposal which is likely to be carried out by Yuvsatta, a Chandigarh- based organisation devoted to Gandhian ideals. To start with, the programme will be implemented either in Ludhiana or Patiala jail.

The DGP, Prisons, Punjab, Mr MPS Aulakh, said he was identifying prisoners who could read and write and that he was also in touch with the superintendents of the two jails to work out the feasibility. “I am open to any new experiments which help reform the prisoners,” he said. It is worthwhile to mention that in Maharashtra, Nashik, Kalyan and Byculla Jails have already requested the Bombay Sarvoodaya Mandal to conduct similar exams for inmates of their Jails.

On the project in Punjab, Mr Pramod Kumar, Director, Yuvsatta said the idea was to benefit from Maharashtra’s experience. “We must deflect the attention of prisoners from crimes. This programme is all about giving them orientation lectures on the Gandhian philosophy and asking them to take an exam on his autobiography.” The 21-day programme for a batch of 100 inmates (on first come first basis) will progress on day-to-day basis. On the first day the volunteers will organise a screening of an introductory film show of ‘Gandhi’, a film by Richard Attenborough. The following days will be all about lectures on Gandhian ideals and distribution of autobiography to the first 100 candidates.

Later, there will be readings of the autobiography by the candidates for seven days, followed by two interactive lectures on Gandhi’s social and political thought. The doctrine of non violence will also be covered.

In the last stage, the candidates will be asked to take the exam. Everyone who appears will be given a certificate. For now, Yuvsatta is looking for sponsors. Said Mr Kumar.


Criminal case against journalist condemned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
The Patiala Journalists Association while condemning the registration of a “false” criminal case against Mr Darshan Singh Khokhar and Mr Jatinder Singh, staff reporter and cameraman, respectively, of an NRI channel, demanded the quashing of the FIR at the earliest.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gurnam Singh Aqida, member of the committee constituted for this task, said that at a meeting of the members of the association held today, it was decided that if the “false” case registered against both these persons was not withdrawn, they would observe a complete boycott of all functions connected with the Chief Minister, the district administration and the police authorities.

Mr Aqida pointed out that both these journalists were covering an event related to the repair of the Bhakra Main Line (BML) canal, under taken by the officials concerned without following competitive bidding for it by floating tenders. He added that an official of the BML canal manhandled Mr Khokhar and his cameraman.

He alleged that though an application was put up before the police authorities for taking action against the official concerned, the authorities did not take action against the erring official and registered a criminal case of the Civil Lines police station against Mr Khokhar and his cameraman instead. He added that it established the fact that the police had connived with the corrupt officials.

He said that an 11-member committee of the members of the association had been set up which would bring the truth to light in this case.


Siti cable sex scandal: bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
The Duty Magistrate today declined bail to all six accused, who were arrested by the CBI on June 8 for their involvement in the sensational Siti cable sex scandal that rocked Amritsar about two years ago.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the accused, including former Mayor, Amritsar Municipal Corporation, Subash Sharma, were first remanded in police custody and then sent to judicial custody. The bail applications came for hearing today, but these were declined accordingly.

The other accused are Ganesh Podar, J.S. Kataria, J.S. Arora, Madan Lal Vij and Buland Iqbal Singh. They along with Subash Sharma are presently lodged in the local jail.

A case was registered against them on the basis of a report of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, headed by Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd).

Later, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had handed over the inquiry to the CBI. The case was registered under Sections 406, 506, 236 and 120-B of the IPC following the directions of the high court.


Remand of Parvinder Singh extended
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 28
A local court today extended the police remand of Parvinder Singh, alias Bhinda, an alleged accomplice of Jagtar Singh Hawara, till July1. Parvinder, a resident of Fatehpur village, Bassi Pathana block, had been arrested by the Khanna police and was brought to Kharar for questioning on production warrants on June 24.

The Kharar police had recovered two sticks of RDX, two detonators and 20 cartridges of AK-47 from him yesterday. He was produced before the court of the Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ranjan Khullar, today.

The Kharar police had booked Paramjit Singh, Swaran Singh, Parvinder Singh and Gurdeep Singh alias Rana, under various sections of the Explosives and Arms Act on June 16.

Meanwhile, the Punjab police today returned from New Delhi unable to get Hawara’s remand for the third time. According to the DSP Kharar, Mr Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, who accompanied the Punjab police team to New Delhi today, the court extended the police remand of Hawara with the Delhi police.


Free legal aid for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The Haryana State Legal Services Authority has decided to provide free legal aid to ex-servicemen and members of the families of soldiers who have died in action, and also to victims of riots and terrorism in the State

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of authority under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, here last evening.


Sarpanch suspended
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 28
The Director, Panchayat, Punjab, has suspended Rakesh Kumar, sarpanch of Bohan gram panchayat in Hoshiarpur block-II, for his anti-panchayat activities, according to official sources here today.

He has also banned his participation in any of the panchayat work.

He has instructed the District Development and Panchayat Officer, Hoshiarpur, to immediately take over the charge from Rakesh Kumar and hand it over to the authorised panch of the gram panchayat according to the rule.

Sources said that Rakesh Kumar had given a statement in favour of encroachers of panchayat land in the court due to which they got status-co on panchayat land.


Sons kill father for property
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 28
Two sons for their greed for property killed their father at Aspal Khurd village, about 20 km from here on June 26.

According to reliable sources, Mithu Singh and Shingara Singh of Aspal Khurd village killed their father, Jaggar Singh with sharp-edged weapons on June 26.

Jaggar Singh used to sell his land, whereas the two sons pressed him not to sell the property. But when the father did not refrain from selling the land and property, the sons killed him.

The police has registered a case.


Gang-raped woman dies
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 28
A pregnant woman, who was allegedly gang-rapped and admitted to hospital in serious condition, has died.

According to the FIR lodged with the Sadar police, by Jarnail Singh, a resident of Ghatian Wali village, he and his wife, Paramjeet Kaur (30), were working as labourers in the fields of Sarabjeet Singh.

On Sunday last, he and his wife were working as usual when his landlord, Sarabjeet Singh, directed him to bring some material from the village. Thereafter, Amarjeet Singh and Sewa Singh, both residents of the same village, took his wife to a nearby room and raped her.

When he returned, he found his pregnant wife lying unconscious and was bleeding profusely. He immediately rushed his pregnant wife to the local Civil Hospital where she died last evening.

The Sadar police has registered a case under Sections 376, 34 and 302, IPC, against Amarjeet Singh and Sewa Singh. A shattered and weeping Jarnail Singh said that the culprits had committed a double murder as Paramjeet Kaur was pregnant for six months. He pleaded for stringent punishment for the accused, who have reportedly absconded.


Two held for raping Dalit
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 28
Two youths were held for raping a Dalit girl of the Dashmesh Nagar locality here today, while four others were absconding in the case.

Sources said the incident took place on June 23 when the girl was passing by the house of one of the accused. He called her to his house saying her mother had come there and was looking for her.

When she went inside his house five of his friends were already sitting inside. They shut the door and raped her one by one. Sources said the girl kept mum for a few days and finally broke her silence after family members tried to explore the reason behind her strange behaviour.

The police has arrested Sonu and Gursewak in this connection, while their four accomplices, Tikka, Dhaula, Raju and Happy, were still at large.


Rs 1.64 lakh looted from trader
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 28
Two unidentified persons looted Rs 1,64,000 at gunpoint from a trader, Vijay Kumar, son of Des Raj of M/s Vishnu Khad Store, Dera Road, in broad daylight here today.

According to Ashok Kumar, brother of the victim, the looters also took away one mobile phone and a cheque for Rs 19,000.

He said his brother along with one Palwinder Kumar were returning on a motor cycle after collecting payments from their clients. When they reached near Harcharanpura village, 7 km from here on Batala-Fatehgarh Churian road, two persons — one Sikh and another clean shaven — riding a red-coloured Kawasaki motor cycle (without number) stopped them at gunpoint and took away the collection.

Dr Jatindra Kumar Jain, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), said all police nakas had been informed and an FIR had been lodged at the Sadar police station. He assured that the culprits would be arrested soon. 


Two Delhi residents killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 28
Two persons of a family hailing from New Delhi were killed and three injured when a car in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck near here this morning. Two of the injured were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, while one was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar.

The five members of a family were on their way from Anandpur Sahib to New Delhi when the mishap took place at about 6 a.m. The accident occurred when a truck hit the car.

Kishan Chand Raheja and Harsh Raheja of Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, died on the spot, while Munish Khanna was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. Krishana Raheja and Sumer Raheja were referred to the PGI.


2 killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 28
Two persons of a family hailing from New Delhi were killed and three injured when a car in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck near here this morning.

The five members of a family were on their way from Anandpur Sahib to New Delhi when the mishap took place at about 6 a.m. Kishan Chand Raheja and Harsh Raheja of Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, died on the spot, while Munish Khanna was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. Krishana Raheja and Sumer Raheja were referred to the PGI.


2 killed in cylinder blast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 28
A woman and her daughter were killed when an LPG cylinder exploded in their house in Haibowal today.

The woman identified as Rut and her minor daughter Rohini were working in the kitchen when the cylinder exploded. 


10 hurt in clash over land
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, June 28
At least 10 persons were injured in a clash between two groups over a land dispute at Sehke village, near here, this afternoon.

The seriously injured persons, Nasib Kaur, Inder Singh, Paramjeet Kaur, Jagir Kaur, Amar Kaur, Nachatar Singh, Manjeet Kaur and Dalip Kaur, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

According to Mr Hardev singh Sehke, former SGPC member, there is a dispute between two groups over a land measuring about 143 bighas in the village.

Villagers belonging to the Scheduled Castes were in possession of the land since for many years, but members of the other group tried to capture the land.

Today, members of the other group attacked the villagers with rifles and lathies.

Mr Sehke said that during the quarrel they also opened fire in the air. The situation was controlled after the intervention of the police.

Mr Mahavir Singh, in charge of Jorepul police chowki, said the police had stopped the other group from doing any construction on the land. No arrest has been made in this regard


Raids by Ropar police
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 28
The Ropar police today raided several places in Anandpur Sahib sub-division in the district to arrest the members of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI). The raid was conducted in the Fatehgarh Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib, the police sources said.

Sources said that a team of Ropar police headed by the SP (Detective), Mr Harwaj Singh, conducted search of a house in the Fethegarh Mohalla which is believed to be hideout of the four of the members of Babbar Khalsa International, sources added. No information of arrest was received till the filing of the report. Mr Harwaj Singh was not available for comments. 


Defence quota for medical colleges reduced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The quota for wards of defence personnel for admission to medical colleges in Punjab has been reduced, resulting in the number of seats for this category coming down from nine to just three. This has upset serving armed forces personnel as well ex-servicemen, whose wards are on the threshold of entering a professional stream.

According to Punjab Government rules, 2 per cent seats for the MBBS or dental courses are to be reserved for wards or serving or retired defence personnel. The notification for conduct of PMET-2005 for admission to the MBBS and dental courses in institutes in Punjab, however, had earmarked only 1 per cent reservation for this category.

The PMET-2005 is scheduled to be conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University on June 30.

Five government medical and dental colleges in Punjab are offering a total of 430 seats and under the 2 per cent quota, nine seats were earmarked for defence personnel. Now only one seat each is being offered in government medical colleges in Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot.

A representation submitted to the Punjab Government in this regard yesterday has also pointed out that the notification has excluded wards of ex-servicemen from the list of entitled persons.

The representation has also pointed out that the quota for defence personnel has been worked out on the basis of seats left after deducting 25 per cent seats for Scheduled Castes and 22 per cent seats for CBSE candidates from the total seats available. The quota for defence seats, instead, should have been worked out on the basis of the total number of seats.

Terming the reduction of quota for wards of defence personnel and exclusion of ex-servicemen from the list as arbitrary and illegal, the representation said it violated articles 16 and 21 of the Constitution and could invite legal recourse.


BSc (electronics) results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 28
The results of the BSc (electronics) part II, examination of Guru Nanak Dev University held in April would be declared tomorrow.

The results would be available on the university website, www.gnduonline.org on the same evening after 5 p.m.


Pbi varsity BA (II) results today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
The results of the B.A. (II) examination conducted by Punjabi University in April/May, 2005, will be declared tomorrow.

Giving this information, Dr Baldev Singh, Chief Coordinator, Examinations, stated that the results would be available on the university Website, www. universitypunjabi.org. tomorrow after 8.00 p.m.


Staff of aided colleges sans salary
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 28
Owing to a delay in the release of grants, nearly 5,000 teaching and non-teaching employees of 139 aided non-government colleges in Punjab have not been paid salaries for the past few months.

A meeting of the executive committee of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union will be held on July 10 at DAV College, Jalandhar, to take stock of the situation, according to Prof R.S. Brar, PCCTU chief.


GGNIMT toppers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 28
Gujranwala Guru Nanak Institute of Management and Technology (GGNIMT) has always been a centre of excellence, where the students are imparted the latest education to help them transform their dreams into reality. GGNIMT has been a successful platform for many students.

Mr Gunwant Singh Dua, co-ordinator GGNIMT, in a press statement today said a lot of students were placed in big corporates and many others were on their way to success by performing well in academics.

Supriya Jain of MBA III and Kawalpreet Kaur of BBA V have secured first position in the exam conducted by PTU. Another GGNIMT student, Kunal Sablok, has brought laurels to the institute by getting the first rank in the entrance test for admission to Master of Computer Application (MCA) programme in NIMCET held for National Institutes of Technology (NITs). Besides this, he has also bagged second rank in Thapar, 7th in Roorkee and 19th in Panjab University entrance test.

Mr Kunal Sablok, who was present in the institute along with his parents, was highly grateful to the teachers who guided him.

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