P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PMET today: videography to check impersonation
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
To check cases of impersonation during the PMET (pre-medical entrance test), scheduled to be held at the 41 centres of five major cities of the state tomorrow, Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to do video recording of all (more than 10,000) candidates along with their admit cards, at their respective centres.

The university is leaving nothing to chance. Three sets of question papers would be set by different paper setters. No paper setter would be from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir so that utmost secrecy could be maintained. One of the three question papers would be selected at the eleventh hour while the other two would be kept in safe custody. The printing press would also be in the far-flung areas so that even the Vice-Chancellor of the university won’t know about it.

A special centre is being set up in Tsunami-affected Campbell in Andemans where only seven candidates will appear in the test. A separate paper would be set for these seven candidates. The centre is being set up to honour the promise made by Capt Amarinder Singh to Tsunami affected Punjabi population.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar of the university, has asked the candidates test to reach their respective examination centres by 9.30 am, otherwise they would not be allowed to enter the examination hall. He advised the candidates to bring black sketch pens with them to shadow the correct response on OMR sheet. He said adequate security arrangements had also been made for the peaceful conduct of the test.

The Registrar said if any candidate, after the declaration of the result, wanted to see his response sheet, he could do so by paying Rs 2,000. He said if any candidate wanted to see OMR sheet of another candidate, he could do so by paying Rs 5,000 per response sheet.

When contacted, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the PMT centres were being opened in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Faridkot, Ludhiana and Patiala. He said Vice-Chancellors of certain universities and representative of the Deputy Chief Minister had been requested to act as special observer. They could check the centres of their choice any time. However, former Vice-Chancellors, Pro-Vice-Chancellors and ex- Registrars had been allotted specific centres.

In yet another significant decision, the university authorities have decided not to hand over the packets of question papers. The question papers, properly counted and then sealed in the high security printing press, would directly be delivered at the centres one hour before the start of the examination.

Unlike the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, the university has decided not to depute any teacher from science streams, including that of biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics, for conducting PMET. The superintendent, one clerk and two supervisors each would be from Guru Nanak Dev University while the rest of the staff would be from the respective local centres.

The evaluation of the answer sheets, both through computer and manually, would start immediately after their arrival at the university. The evaluation would be done round the clock and the result would be declared only after tallying both the results (manual and computerised).


Singhal re-elected VHP chief, Togadia general secretary
Guru Gobind Singh’s portraits to adorn temples
Varinder Walia and Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Firebrand Ashok Singhal, and Dr Praveen Togadia have been re-elected president and general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for the next three years at a Central management meeting of the body, held here today.

In an attempt to woo Sikhs, the VHP has given due representation to them in the 46-member national body. Mr Prem Singh ‘Sher’, a former member of Parliament from New Delhi who converted to Sikhism a few years ago has been made one of the national Secretaries.

The VHP announced to put up a portrait of Guru Gobind Singh, 10th Sikh master in all temples including Ram temple at Ayodhya. The VHP leaders said that being a ‘saint soldier’, Guru Gobind Singh was one of the most revered for all Indians. Earlier, the VHP had created ripples by announcing that holy Guru Granth Sahib would be placed in temples.

Without naming BJP chief Lal Krishan Advani, Mr Togadia alleged that ‘the persons who had been riding ‘Ram Rath’ never wanted to construct Ram temple in Ayodhya. He announced that from now onwards, only religious and apolitical persons would spearhead the campaign for constructing the Ram temple.

Meanwhile, quoting from history, the national annual meet of the VHP unanimously passed a resolution describing Kashmir as ‘old Hindi state’ which was converted into the Muslim-dominated area by the Mughal invaders. Another resolution strongly criticised the reservation for the Muslims at the cost of crores of poor Hindus and other unemployed persons. The resolution alleged that the ‘appeasement policies’ of the central government amounted to the creation of ‘many Pakistan’ within India. Coming down heavily on the political parties, especially the Congress, the VHP said that such policies would lead the nation to disintegration. The VHP while mentioning the 50 per cent resolution for Muslims in Aligarh Muslim University for the community said the decision to this effect was taken in the presence of Ms Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress. The Human Resource Development Minister announced the huge reservation. The VHP also expressed shock and disbelief over the opposition parties for remaining ‘mute spectators’ to the appeasement policies to the Muslims which would allegedly pose a threat to the sovereignty of the country. The VHP also expressed grave concern over the rising population of the Muslims in India.

Substantiating the claims that Kashmir was once a Hindu state, the VHP resolution stated that the excavations of the area had given ample proof regarding this. The VHP strongly opposed the re-naming of Shankaracharya hill (temple) as ‘Suleman Tang’ and described the move as second invasion on the ‘symbol of India’. Another hill, Hariparvat’s name which has now being called as ‘Sikandar But Shikan’ by a Minister of the troubled state had also come under the scanner of the VHP. The resolution criticised the Congress, which is political partner of the PDP Government for maintaining studied silence. The VHP alleged that the PDP had been endeavouring to fulfil all ‘unjust demands’ of the Muslim community in Jammu and Kashmir.


SSF (Mehta) protests against VHP leaders’ remarks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
The Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) today protested against the alleged controversial regarding Sikhs byleaders of the VHP. They burnt an effigy of Acharya Giriraj Kishore, vice-president and Dr Praveen Togadia, national general secretary of the parishad, and raised slogans against them.

The protest march started from Gurdwara Rani Ka Bagh and reached Dr Kichlu Chowk near the site of the convention of the VHP, after pushing aside policemen led by Mr Ashish Kapur, DSP.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president of the federation, said the VHP had come with some ulterior motive and conspiracy to create an unsavory atmosphere that would disturb the peace in the state. They termed the VHP leaders as ‘communal terrorists’ and demanded immediate ban on the convention being held in here.

Later, federation members, along with Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, SGPC member, presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner demanding the arrests of parishad leaders. They also urged the state government to ban the entry of these leaders in the state.

The VHP leaders had in a statement described the Sikhs as the armed wing of the Hindus community. Mr Grewal said the Sikhs had a separate and distinct identity and the parishad leaders should desist from issuing such statements, that hurt the feelings of the Sikhs. The activists said the Sikhs could consider launching a nationwide campaign, in association with representatives of other religions if the VHP did not refrain from issuing controversial statements. They said the Sikhs did not require any certificate from Hindu leaders.

Meanwhile, the Khalra Mission Committee while demanding a ban on the organisation, in a press statement issued has alleged that parishad leaders were baselessly accusing others for conversions in the country while ignoring the fact that untouchability and discrimination for Dalits at places of worships still existed. Due to this practice, many Dalits adopted other religions it added.

Mr Harbir Singh Sandhu, office secretary SAD (A) has also condemned the statements of the VHP.


VHP vitiating atmosphere, says Bhaur
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 29
SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur today flayed VHP leaders for their irresponsible utterances aimed at vitiating the atmosphere in Punjab by whipping up communal disaffection. He called upon the government to take due notice of these divisive statements being dished out daily for the past three days from Amritsar where VHP leaders had converged to attend their national convention. Talking to The Tribune here, Jathedar Bhaur reminded VHP leaders that “Sikhs were a separate quam, they are and would continue to be so for ever.”

He was commenting on the statements of VHP top brass that everybody born in Hindustan was a Hindu and that the Khalsa was an armed wing of the Hindus.

A person born in Hindustan could be a Hindustani but not Hindu, asserted Jathedar Bhaur. Besides, the Khalsa maintained its distinct identity by making supreme sacrifices, he said. The Sikh faith founded by Guru Nanak Dev against “pakhandwaad”was turned into Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, he remarked.


Sikhism an independent religion: Badal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
Showing utter disagreement with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) recently propounded perception that Sikhs were part of Hinduism, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has asserted that Sikhism was a separate and independent religion and that he wondered how such “non-issues” were converted into “issues” by politicians for their vested interests.

“How Jalandhar can be dubbed Amritsar? It is the same thing which applies to the VHP’s perception as how Sikhism can be described as part of Hinduism. It is a separate matter that being sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhs treat that all humans are equal and that they are one. Sikhism is an independent religion and nobody (presumably the VHP) should forget it,” said Mr Badal, who was here to attend a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of his party. He, however, chose not to say anything as to why Amritsar was selected by organisations like the VHP to rake up the same issue time and again.

“Why no one takes up real issues like unemployment and poverty which has gripped the country? “questioned Mr Badal, adding, “If anybody observes it carefully, it is the SAD which has been the most secular outfit in the country.”

Skirting questions over old issues like transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and river waters, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress had been using militancy and hardliner element for its advantage in the past and with an objective to harm the SAD. “The Congress has been adopting a dual policy towards Punjab and it has been intending and been instrumental in creating a wedge between the Hindu and the Sikhs. It is a fact that it was the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), which invited hardliner Ganga Singh Dhillon and organised his press conference in the PPCC office at Chandigarh at its own expense in the early eighties. Similarly, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh went to Dixie gurdwara in Canada to encourage militant groups. Efforts are being made to create a scare among the Hindu community for getting their votes. The arrest of Mr Simranjit Singh Maan was also a big drama,” said Mr Badal.

On Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s reported resignation from the Delhi unit of the SAD, Mr Badal said no resignation was received by the party and “moreover, he is a loyal leader of the party.”


Call special session of Vidhan Sabha: SAD
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
Expressing concern over deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has demanded that a special session of the Vidhan Sabha be convened to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, the SAD has also decided to hold a dharna at “Matka Chowk” in Chandigarh on July 5 to oppose the recent hike in prices of petrol, diesel and electricity.

Two separate resolutions to this effect were passed in the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting of the party held here today. The meeting was attended by senior Akali leaders, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Naresh Gujral, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections on a ticket of the SAD.

The PAC members were of the view that the law and order situation had deteriorated in the state to an alarming level and murder, kidnappings had become a routine. “So much so that the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had apprehended threat to her life. This in itself shows how grave the situation of Punjab is. Does anyone need more proof that the situation was alarming and people were worried over it.” said one of the two resolutions passed at the meeting.

Meanwhile, a rally was also organised by the SAD. It was attended by senior party leaders, including Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Surjit Singh Minhas, Principal Inderjit Singh, Mr Baljit Singh Neelamahal, Mr Sikandar Singh Malooka and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar.


Land use clearance mandatory for Punjab colonisers
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 29
The Punjab Government has now made it mandatory for those developing private colonies in the state to get land use clearance certificate from the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the state. Though this condition had been notified early this year for those developing colonies in less than 10 acres of land, the government has now stated that this will be applicable to large colonisers too.

Before the January notification, colonisers in the state were not required to ensure that the land on which their colonies were being planned was meant for residential purposes in the master plans of the area.

While the January notification made it mandatory for small colonisers developing non-residential land to get their land use changed from the government, before they could apply to the senior town planner or divisional town planner for a license, the same condition had not been laid down for larger colonisers who apply for a licence from the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The matter was raised during the last meeting of the Chief Administrator, PUDA, who is the competent authority to issue these licences. During the meeting held a fortnight ago, the Chief Town Planner (CTP) wanted to know if the colonisers who were being granted licences from PUDA had got land use changed in accordance with the master plan of the area. Since no directions from the government were available in this regard the Chief Administrator adjourned the meeting till a clarification on this was sought from the government.

“We have received that note from PUDA for clarification and we have also taken a legal opinion on the issue. It has been decided that large colonisers who apply to PUDA for a licence will have to first get a land use clearance from the government,” said Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary, Housing and Urban Development.

Following these orders, a coloniser will have to apply to the secretary’s office for a land use change in case the area he intends to colonise falls in a non residential zone as laid down in the statutory and non statutory master plans laid down by the Department of Country and Town Planning for over 80 towns in the state.

“There are just three statutory master plans for Mohali, Anandpur Sahib and now Zirakpur. All other plans are non-statutory but would to be followed for these purposes. For areas which have not been planned as part of any such master plan, colonisers do not need a land use clearance,” added Mr Sidhu.

Source pointed out that more than 70 towns in Punjab did not have any master plan to follow, adding that in areas which did not have master plans, the plans prepared on the basis of the Scheduled Roads and Controlled Area Restriction Act would be followed for guidelines on land use change.


Palti trade thriving on Punjab, J&K border
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Gurdaspur), June 29
Illegal trade of “Palti” has been going on under the very nose of law enforcement agencies on the border of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The trade besides causing revenue loss to the governments was also the major means of smuggling, the sources told.

Toll of Rs 150 for nine-tone load of a truck is imposed on the toll barrier of Jammu and Kashmir border in Lakhanpur. The computerized weighing machines have been installed at the toll barrier leaving no scope for any vehicle carrying more than nine-tonne weight to pass without getting penalised. A penal toll of Rs 40 per quintal is imposed on any vehicle carrying more than 9 tonne load.

Stringent rules have given rise to illegal trade of ‘Palti’ thriving on both sides of the toll barrier of the Lakhanpur barrier. Term “Palti” was coined for the trade by locals due to its nature. As name suggests it is the trade of transferring goods from one vehicle to another.

The heavy vehicles carrying goods coming for J&K can be seen moving towards an open area near the toll barrier rather than moving forward here. Here small TATA-407 or trucks are waiting for them. The extra load from the heavy vehicles is transferred to smaller trucks to evade the penal toll. The local truck owners are paid ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 500 just to help clear the toll barrier depending on the amount of penal tax being evaded. The trade was taking place just 200 to 300 metres from the trade toll barriers of Lakhanpur and Madhopur but no action was being taken to check it. The authorities at the toll barrier told that trade had political backing due to which they could not stop it. An illegal tax Rs 100 per vehicle per day was being imposed on each vehicle operating in the area. In lieu of the tax the illegal trade is given political protection by the law enforcement agencies on both sides of the borders.

The sources put the daily earning from the illegal tax collected from the vehicles involved in ‘Palti’ trade at an amount ranging from Rs 10000 to Rs 20000 per day.

The authorities at the toll barrier of Lakhanpur declined to comment on the illegal ‘Palti’ thriving in their area.


RCF staff, management row continues
Tribune News Service

Hussainpur (Kapurthala), June 29
Taking stern action against employees for agitation, the management of Rail Coach Factory stopped the supply of pneumatic pressure and electricity to machines installed in all workshops while the employees entered the premises to attend duties without punching the newly introduced identity-cum-attendance cards on the third day of their agitation here today.

The employees were showing resentment against the new card which they have to keep with them instead of depositing it in the time shop after punching it.

For the past two days, employees had been working in workshops after reaching there without punching their cards. However, the management did not consider them on duty. Today when they reached their place of duty defying the orders on punching the attendance card before joining the duty, they find the workshops without pneumatic pressure and power.

Explaining the reason of opposing the introduction of new punching cards from June 27, Mr Sarabjeet Singh, Zonal Secretary, TEAR, RCF said the employees could not take the responsibility of carrying the cards because whenever the card was lost it would amount to undue harassment to them.

Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer of the RCF Gurjit Singh said the management had decided not to release pneumatic pressure and electricity to the workshops as only 180 employees were on duty. As other employees did not comply the ruling they could not be considered on duty. Hence the management took this step keeping in view the security of machines.

On the issue of harassment to employees during issuance of duplicate punching card, the PRO clarified that any employee could get it from his section supervisor on the spot at the nominal charges of Rs 5 only.


Illegal connections have PSEB staff on toes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 29
With the onset of the paddy season there has been a spate of illegal motor connections in the cotton belt and the PSEB officials are on their toes to check the same.

The board has cut off power supply to about 4,000 such motors during the past 15 days.

Sources said about 2,000 illegal motors were running in Malwa and the trend was more prevalent in the border areas, adding that the details of these connections gathered by the enforcement wing of the board were startling and it had formed 31 flying squads to conduct raids.

The sources said there was also a talk of some board officials conniving with farmers in many cases. The enforcement wing had started conducting raids from June 14. Chief Engineer of the wing G.S. Dhindsa said with the rise in the illegal connections the load had suddenly increased. About 250 such motors were being caught in the state daily, he added.

The sources said the board was suffering huge losses on account of these connections, as a section of farmers were straightaway drawing power through kundis. In Bathinda alone, 300 motors were running illegally. The board had caught five such motors in Gumti feeder and six in Bhagta Bhai feeder. Out of these four motors had no records, while two had applied for connection, but were yet to get the same.

In the Mamdot area of Ferozepore district, the enforcement wing had caught 80 illegal motors yesterday. In the Sangat area, some ex-servicemen had reportedly sold their connections to farmers after availing the same on priority basis. A farmer had even recorded his statement with the board stating that he had bought the connection from an ex-serviceman for Rs 50,000.

The sources further said six flying squads were carrying out raids in Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, and Ferozepore districts. 


Dalit Sena organises protest against SGPC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
Activists of the Dalit Sena organised a protest against the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for not doing enough to end the discrimination against Dalit Sikhs in various gurdwaras and deras in Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur districts, here today.

They urged the jathedars of all the five Takhts to issue hukamnama (edict) for excommunication of persons practising inhuman practice which was against the teachings of the Sikh Gurus.

In spite of staging a three-hour-long protest, no senior functionary of the SGPC came to accept their memorandum.

Timely and adequate presence of the police averted a possible clash between activists of the sena and the task force of the SGPC. Amidst a heavy police bandobast and presence of the task force, leaders of the sena decided to hold a protest at Parag Das Bazar, an intersection before the entrance to the Golden Temple complex. Earlier, they had announced to hold a protest in front of the office of the SGPC.

Mr Kiranjit Singh Gahri, state president, Dalit Sena, alleged that Mr Sucha Singh Langah, an Akali leader, in the presence of Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, threatened to kill him if he did not discontinue his agitation. He sought registration of a case against both the leaders.

He said they had been asking the SGPC to end discrimination against the Dalit Sikhs being practised in various gurdwaras. He said they had been writing to the SGPC president to listen to their grievances for the past one year, but were denied a meeting on the pretext of scarcity of time. Terming it “untouchability”, Mr Gahri said the Dalit Sikhs were served “langar” in separate rows in Dera Rumi Wala, Bathinda, Dera Hira Wala and Daliye Wala, both in Mansa.

Mr Gahri said that they had raised the issue of discrimination against Dalit Sikhs on August 4, 2004, at a meeting with Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Meanwhile, Mr Dalmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, in a press release issued here today said that the fact-finding committee of the SGPC had submitted its report regarding the allegations into Dera Baba Harnam Singh Rumiwale to the Dharam Prachar Committee, Akal Takht. Terming the agitation a “political drama”, he claimed that Mr Gahri had already given a memorandum to the SGPC president, therefore, there was no logic in holding a protest in front of the office of the SGPC.


Buses plying without permits
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
Permit taxes worth crores of rupees were being evaded by influential bus operators on over 90 different routes throughout Punjab. They have not got their stage carriage permits renewed for years.

Interestingly, though a large number of operators have allegedly been plying their buses since 1995, no action has been taken against them by the Punjab Transport Department. This led to evasion of permit fee, which, may run into crores of rupees.

Meanwhile, the office of Mr Vinay Bublani, Regional Transport Authority, Jalandhar, it was learnt, has issued notices to 92 transporters who have failed to get their stage carriage permit renewed from time to time. The permits, as per department norms, has to be subjected to renewal on an annual basis. All defaulters, according to Mr Bublani, have been asked to get their permits renewed within 15 days and they have been warned that if they failed to do so, the department would take action against them, which included forfeiting of the permits.

Investigations carried out by The Tribune revealed that though 92 operators were plying their buses on various profitable routes, but still they had not got their stage permits renewed from 1991 onwards and the illegal plying of buses for such a long period had largely gone undetected by the authorities concerned.

Enquiries further revealed that the defaulters saving permit taxes of crores of rupees by conniving with lower-rung officials of the transport department, which were responsible for scrutinising the records or were deployed for checking of passenger vehicles.

Mr Bublani said, “We have sounded all of them and notices have also been served to them on June 22 so that they are able to get their permits renewed within 15 days,” said Mr Bublani.


Teaching Gurbani to non-Sikhs
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Renowned technologist from the region Dr Kuldip Singh has embarked on a unique mission of spreading the message of Gurbani among non Sikhs.

For three years, the former Head of Surgery, PGI, and Department of Radiotherapy, CMC, Ludhiana, has been engaged in finding ways to take the word of Guru Nanak far and wide. And in his attempt he has succeeded largely, as is clear from the fact that he has written five booklets highlighting the significance of Gurbani and authored one book which raises issues seldom raised before.

Not just that, he has also hired the best artists of the region to lend visual forms to Sikh history. His house is a museum of Sikh history — laced as it is with paintings, posters and placards that delineate the finer aspects of Sikh history — from creation of the Khalsa to the relevance of five Ks.

At home in his Sector 15 residence in Chandigarh, the surgery expert tells of the Baisakhi day in 2000 which changed his life.

“The world may not believe me, but I had an apparition in which Guru Nanak asked me to do something to take Gurbani beyond the realm of Sikhs. That’s when I began writing, something which was based on 800 hours of extensive study and on the “vars” of Bhai Gurdas.”

Dr Singh has written about five booklets, including the one on the message of Gurbani, another on shabads and their translations. His third work was a booklet containing an introduction to Guru Granth Sahib. This work has been translated in many foreign languages and has been distributed in Kenya, Uganda, the US, the UK, the Singapore, the Maldives, Indonesia, Thialand, Australia and New Zealand. The last booklet he wrote contains finest aspects of all world religions.

Says Dr Singh, “My last work deals with the often posed questions about Guru Nanak- who he was and what his mission on earth was.” The book is accordingly titled “Guru Nanak and His Mission” and it was recently released in both English and Punjabi editions for the benefit of non Sikhs. The book is an end to Dr Singh’s lifelong search for one question - “Why did Guru Nanak not make a Granth of his own Bani; why did he choose Guru Angad Dev to execute this task?”

This quest finds an expression in Dr Singh’s book which has been published under the aegis of the Sant Isher Singh Rarewala Education Trust. Dr Singh also runs a Trust called the Satyameva Jayate Trust which propagates the message of Guru Nanak all over the world, especially among non Sikhs.

Ask the author which has been the best inspiration behind his mission and he tells, “Guru Nanak spent a life time traveling, trying to touch as many lives as possible. Only in the last 12 years of his life did he choose to settle create a Panth. His philosophy is meant for the world and must be taken to the world.”

In his quest, Dr Singh has created a corpus of paintings, posters and placards to dispel notions that people harbour about religious codes like the relevance of five Ks. But his poster highlighting the magnificence of Harmandar Sahib is most overwhelming of all. No wonder it has been translated into two foreign languages, including French


Custodial deaths of Scheduled Castes highest in Punjab: Suraj Bhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Punjab has reported the highest number of custodial deaths of the Scheduled Castes in the entire country and it warrants immediate attention of the state government, said the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Mr Suraj Bhan, here today.

In the past one year at least eight cases of custodial deaths of the Scheduled Castes have been reported from Barnala, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Kapurthala and Bathinda districts, the commission has pointed out.

Expressing his concern at the rising cases of custodial deaths and incidents of crime against the Scheduled Caste women in the state, the Chairman said urgent steps were required to “save” the Scheduled Castes from the unlawful behaviour of the police personnel.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, today assured him that to monitor the cases of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes, the state-level and district level vigilance committees would be set up in the next few days. “The DGP, Punjab, who was also present at the meeting, assured me that Scheduled Caste SHOs would be posted in the five districts of the state where the maximum number of cases of atrocities were reported”, said Mr Bhan.

During today’s meeting, the Chairman directed Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police concerned to examine the reasons behind the unlawful behaviour of police personnel and ensure that such incidents were not repeated again. The incidents reflected the brutality perpetrated on the members of the Scheduled Castes, said the Chairman.

In addition, to prevent the crime against members of the Scheduled Castes by the police in custody, the Chief Secretary was today asked to ensure that the relevant sections of the offence under the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, were displayed in each police station, police post and office of the Deputy Commissioner, Senior Superintendent of Police and Deputy Superintendent of Police in all the districts.

Talking about the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2004, the Chairman said the bill which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the last winter session did not have any room for legal provisions.

As per the proposed Bill which has yet to be passed in the Lok Sabha, no penal action like imprisonment and Rs 5000 fine could be levied has been recommended against the officials who violated its provisions, he said.

To create awareness on the issue the Chairman was meeting Members of Parliament, representing the SC, before the new Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes will be organising seminars to create public opinion against wrong notions and practices on untouchability. Different religious leaders, including the Shankaracharyas, would be invited at the seminars, said Mr Suraj Bhan.


Doc urges admn to revive electric crematorium project
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
A renowned cardiologist and former head of the Cardiology Department of Government Rajindera Hospital, Dr Manmohan Singh, has asked the district administration to revive the project of installing an electric crematorium at Patiala.

In a letter written to the Patiala Deputy Commissioner, Dr Manmohan Singh, said a project to install such a crematorium had been initiated in 1992 and a letter was written by the District Red Cross Society, which was to undertake the project, to the PSEB Chief Engineer requesting him to provide free electricity for the project. Dr Manmohan Singh added that letters were even written to a private firm, Asian Brown Boveri, and the Mayor of the Bombay Municipal Corporation asking them for details regarding the price, installation and a blueprint for the project. Dr Manmohan Singh added that a former Chairman of Punjab and Sind Bank, Mr Inderjeet Singh, had even donated Rs 10,000 for the purpose.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the earlier initiative of the Red Cross could not fructify because of flash floods which ravaged the city in 1994 due to which the attention of the district administration was diverted towards the rehabilitation of the flood victims. Moreover, he added, individuals and institutions could not be persuaded to come forward with funds.

Dr Manmohan Singh urged the Deputy Commissioner to revive the proposal as it would be eco-friendly and a pollution free project.


Water level at Bhakra Dam goes up
Tribune News Service

Nangal, June 29
Power generation at Bhakra Dam complex today recorded 66 lakh units higher than last year following a rise of the water level in its reservoir. The water level of Bhakra Dam was at 78.16 feet higher than last year attributed to high inflow of water triggered by melting of glacier and breach of Parechu lake in Tibet.

The water level of Bhakra Dam was 1572.24 feet today while last year the water level had been 1493.08 feet.

Talking to The Tribune, the Chief Engineer (Generation) BBMB, Nangal, Mr Amrik Singh, said the power generation of the Bhakra Dam complex was 208 lakh units while last year the generation was been 142 lakh units.

Mr Amrik Singh said the power was distributed among Punjab, Haryana and other states as per their agreed share. Every month the inter-state technical committee decided the quota of power generation for the states, he added.

With the arrival of monsoon in Punjab, the power demand in the state is declined. As a result, the power cuts in the state were also reduced. The power demand of the state declined from 1500 lakh units to 1425 lakh units as there was less demand for the paddy plantation and domestic use in the state, said PSEB sources.


PCOs allotted to physically challenged persons
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 29
To provide self-employment opportunities to physically challenged persons, the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Jaspreet Talwar, yesterday inaugurated a scheme. Under the scheme, initiated by the government in collaboration with the Ahsass, a social organisation, 10 PCOs were allotted at a function held at Bachat Bhavan.

Addressing the gathering, the Deputy Commissioner said it was for the first time that the government and a social organisation had joined hands to provide self-employment opportunities to the physically challenged persons. She said by operating these mobile PCOs they would earn their livelihood at their own. She said these PCOs had been provided by Reliance and the tricycles by the Rehabilitation Centre, Patiala. Mr Sameer Sapra, Executive Officer, Reliance, said the PCO owners would charge Rs 2 per call and the company would charge only 84 paise from them. The rest would be their income. Mr Rajeev Kumar, Executive Director, Ahsass, who has been making efforts since long to create employment opportunities for the physically challenged, said by earning their livelihood they would gain confidence and self-respect.


Sugar mills workers to launch agitation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
About 20,000 workers of 15 cooperative sugar mills of Punjab have decided to launch a mass agitation on July 5 against the move of state government to privatise the same. The decision was taken in a meeting of Sugar Mill Workers Joint Action Committee (SMWJAC), held here yesterday.

In a press note issued here, Mr Joga Singh Dhaliwal, president, Sugar Mill Workers, Rakhra, said that State government had been running the cooperative sugar mills with indifferent attitude which deteriorated their conditions. He added their condition could be improved if due attention was paid.

He said that the SMWJAC had decided to gherao the Moti Mahal-the private residence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to lodge their protest. The Committee said that in case the government did not change the indifferent attitude towards the cooperative sugar mills, they would loge their protest at the residence UPA President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in the form of continuous hunger strike.


Treatment delayed due to power cut
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 29
An injured person failed to get prompt treatment at the local Civil Hospital today as there was a power cut and the generator on the premises could not be started as an alternative measure.

It is learnt that Harvinder Singh received injury in the hand after he fell on a bottle of a soft drink. He was bleeding profusely. He was first taken to a private hospital in the area and later to the Civil Hospital.

As there was no supply of power to the hospital, a doctor on duty asked an employee to start the generator set. However, the employee said this could not be done as the keys were with the ambulance driver who was away at that time.

It is alleged the patient had to wait for more than an hour to get treatment when the power supply was restored.


Bank staff hold protest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
Bank employees associated with the Punjab Bank Employees Federation held a demonstration in front of Vijaya Bank to protest against the “repressive” activities of the Branch manager of the local Vijaya Bank.

Bank employees, led by Mr Amrit Lal, secretary of the federation, alleged that the staff members were treated as bonded labourers by the official and any opposition against the “tyranny” was treated as an act of indiscipline or insubordination even as staff members were pressurised to carry out “unlawful” instructions. The pressure had been exerted on employees to such an extent that Mr R.K. Chopra, a special assistant, had resigned from service and Mr Lalit Sachdeva had been put under suspension on the basis of “false” charges.

Apart from Mr Amrit Lal, demonstrating employees were addressed by Mr Dev Datt Sharma, joint secretary of the federation, and Mr I.P. Midha.


Security of VVIPs tightened
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, June 29
In just over a fortnight after plans of human bombs targetting top brass and their relatives came to the fore with the arrest of Babar Khalsa International’s alleged chief Jagtar Singh Hawara, the Chandigarh Police has reportedly beefed up the security of VVIPs living in the city.

Sources in the local police say the VVIPs, whose security cover has been enhanced, include Rupinder Kaur — the sister of Punjab’s Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. She is putting up in Sector 5.

Refusing to divulge the details of threat perception, the sources add that security of all such persons has been increased by the Chandigarh Police as a matter of precaution.

As a part of the enhanced security, patrolling has been intensified in the vicinity of their houses. Extra force, including armed security guards, has also been deployed. Information in this regard is also being forwarded to the authorities concerned in the Punjab Police.

Giving details, the sources added that the security cover provided to the power-that-be was reviewed recently and was beefed up on the basis of detailed reports, regarding threat perception to the individuals, prepared by the intelligence wing of the Chandigarh Police.

Going into the background of the matter, the sources said the fact about targetting the VVIPs was highlighted following the interrogation of Hawara and his aides.


BKI militant’s relatives interrogated

Amritsar, June 29
The Punjab Police has rounded up and interrogated two family members of the alleged Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) militant Satnam Singh, who was arrested by the Delhi police in the national capital.

Satnam Singh’s father Jaswant Singh and brother Sukhchain Singh were rounded up last evening by the policemen of Valtoha police station in Tarn Taran district, SSP P.S. Grewal said here today. Their interrogation continued today as well, the SSP said. — UNI


Raids to nab BKI members
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 29
The police, accompanied by Delhi Police personnel, today again raided several places in Anandpur Sahib subdivision in the district to arrest members of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), police sources said. A team of police personnel also brought two men with covered faces. They were believed to be members of the BKI who had been recently arrested by the police, the sources said.

A team headed by the SP (Detective), Ropar, Mr Harwaj Singh, along with police personnel of Punjab and Delhi begun search operations at about 3 am and continued till 4 pm.


Rain brings respite to Malwa residents
Tribune New Service

Bathinda, June 29
Raingods finally blessed Malwa with a spell of shower last night. The shower not only gave people some much-needed respite from the blistering heat but also brought smiles back on the farmers’ faces.

According to weather experts, 84 mm of rainfall was recorded in the town, as a result of which the mercury plummeted from 46° degree C to 28° degree C. A moderate rain was recorded in Bhucho Mandi and Rampura. Agricultural experts said last night’s shower had saved cotton crop in Malwa. Cotton growers had been waiting for a spell of rain for the past many days and the people had been burning rag dolls to please the raingods.

Experts said this shower would be of great help for the sowing of crops. In Bathinda, paddy is yet to be sown in about 20 per cent of the area. It has also brought about a decline in diesel consumption in agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, reports of heavy showers were received from Moga and Muktsar districts. Various localities in both the towns were inundated as it rained for hours together last night.


Driver killed as bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
The driver of a bus was killed and nearly 12 passengers were injured when the vehicle overturned near here yesterday.

The deceased was identified as Amarjit Singh, a resident of Verka in Amritsar. The injured were admitted to the local Sacred Heart Hospital. The bus was going to Amritsar from Delhi.


Army recruitment rally on July 2
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
The Army will organise an open recruitment rally at New Amritsar Cantonment, Khasa, on July 2 for solider GD (for Jat Sikhs), clerks and nursing assistants.

Interested candidates from Amritsar and Gurdaspur can participate in the rally, while for soldier GD the candidates from all over the state can participate.

The candidates are required to bring all the related documents with them along with 12 copies of photos (each with or without turban in case of Sikh candidates).


Minor sisters die of snakebite
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 29
Two minor migrant sisters, Sundari, (8), and Laxami (10), died of snakebite here early this morning. They were sleeping in the room at Bahadur Nursery on the Phagwara-Banga road on a cot and the snake had climbed onto it.

Their father, Ram Kewal, ran this nursery. He found the duo bitten by snake. He rushed them to the Civil Hospital. But the girls were declared dead.


Girl struck by lightning, dies
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 29
A 17-year-old girl, Manjit Kaur, was today killed when she was struck by lightning she was working in fields at Ajauli village. She was taken to a hospital in Anandpur Sahib where she was declared dead.

Meanwhile, rainfall in the district today brought much relief to the people from intense heat. While Ropar, Kurali, Khara, Anandpur Sahib received mild rainfall, Nangal received heavy rainfall for more than two hours.


Boy rescued
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 29
The local police yesterday rescued an eight-year-old boy, Anil Kumar, who was allegedly kidnapped from the Jawahar Nagar Camp in Ludhiana on Saturday last, and arrested the kidnapper. The accused allegedly kidnapped the boy, as he wanted to settle a score with his father.

The boy was reunited with his parents yesterday. The SP said that the accused was arrested from Samrala.


Rs 2 lakh looted from PSEB office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 29
Unidentified thieves struck at the Punjab State Electricity Board office located on the Multania road last night and decamped with about Rs 2 lakh and cheques worth about Rs 20,000.

Police sources said the thieves first broke the wall of the room having safe. They then demolished the closet made of concrete so as to bring out the safe containing cash. They dragged the safe to the backyard and broke it open with iron rods before escaping with cash and cheques. The sources said some office record was also scattered outside the office. The sources said the watchman of the PSEB was on leave and in his absence two assistant linemen were on night duty. The sources said it might be the handiwork of four to five persons as the safe weighed 1.5 quintals and one or two individuals could not take it out.

When interrogated as to how they didn’t come to know of theft, the linemen on duty said they were patrolling till 2 am, but when it started raining they went inside the SDOs room. The sources said the office was earlier located in Parasram Nagar and a section of residents had opposed its shifting to the Multania road stating that it was far from the city.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC against unidentified thieves and launched a manhunt to nab them.


Pak national held with heroin worth Rs 8 crore
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
The border security force (BSF) today arrested a Pakistani national while he was attempting to cross over to India along with another person near Dharma post, Bhikhiwind area in Tarn Taran. The BSF seized 8 kg of heroin from his possession.

The arrested Pakistani was identified as Naveed, a resident of Kana village in Bhogal, Lahore. The narcotics seized was worth of Rs 8 crore in the international market.

The BSF authorities informed that when BSF battalion 123 during patrolling found two persons crossing over to India, challenged them. The persons started firing after which the jawans retaliated. While Naveed was arrested, his other companion managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness.

BSF sources said during interrogation it was found that Naveed had smuggled narcotics for the first time. He confessed he was lured by the smugglers to act as courier, the sources added.


One killed, 3 hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Banur, June 29
One person was killed on the spot and three others sustained serious injuries when a car in which they were travelling was hit by a truck on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Patiala highway, near here, this morning.

According to the police, the occupants of the car, Mr Iqum Ram, Ms Neha Sehgal, Mr Ravinder Kumar and Mr Vijay Kumar, were heading towards Rajpura when the truck coming from the opposite direction hit their vehicle. Mr Iqum Ram was killed on the spot.

Passersby extricated the injured from the damaged remains of the car. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura.

The truck driver is said to have fled from the scene. The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the truck driver under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC. The vehicles involved in the accidents have been impounded.


4 arrested on kidnapping charge
Our Correspondent

Phillaur June 29
In a joint operation headed by Phillaur DSP Manjit Singh, the Phillaur and Noormahal police today nabbed four persons on the charge of kidnapping a vegetable seller, Mohan Lal, and his son, Rakesh Kumar, from nearby Zandiala Manjki village on June 27.

Those arrested were Rajinder Kumar, Anuj Kumar, Neeraj Sabharwal and Bharataveer Singh. They all belonged to Dehra Dun. They were arrested from Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh while they were on their way to Dehra Dun. Rakesh Kumar was recovered from their custody.

The kidnappers had also abducted youth’s father, Mohan Lal, but later pushed him off their car near Sagarpur village on the Phillaur-Noormahal road.

Those arrested have been remanded in police custody till July 1.


Man flees after killing wife
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 29
A man reportedly murdered his wife in the Ajit Nagar locality here last night. The accused fled after the incident.

Sources said the deceased, Ajit Kaur, a resident of Jhandeana Garbi, was married to Joginder Singh of Moga. The couple had three children. The sources said Ajit had gone to her village and her husband had brought her back a couple of days back. The couple had an altercation last night following which Joginder allegedly attacked her with a sharpedged weapon, inflicting serious injuries on her face and neck that led to her death.

A case of murder has been registered against Joginder Singh. The body of the deceased was handed over to her family members after a post-mortem examination.


8 injured in road accident
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 29
Eight persons were injured, two of them seriously, when a government bus collided head-on with a mini bus near Jeeda village on the Bathinda-Kotkapura road.

Sources said the incident took place when the mini bus of Malooka Bus Service (PB-03-L1188) on its way from Bhagta to Goniana was picking up passengers near the bus stand at Jeeda village. A PRTC bus on its way from Bathinda to Faridkot collided with the mini bus, as a result of which it overturned.

Residents of nearby areas and the police rushed the injured to the Civil Hospital at Goniana Mandi.

Of the eight injured, Preetam Singh and Jasveer Kaur were reported to be critical. The police has registered a case against the PRTC bus driver and impounded the bus.


Two held with opium
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, June 29
The local police has arrested two persons and seized 2.1 kg of opium. Rajesh Kumar of Mohalla Amarpura, Ahmedgarh, was arrested from the Dalla canal bridge and 1.1 kg of opium was seized from his possession, while Harvinder Singh of Khuddi Kalan, Barnala, was arrested from Akhara village and 1 kg of opium was seized.


Government losing interest in science
Only 4 schools have science in plus two classes
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mansa, June 29
While there has been a decline in students choosing science as a subject after Class X, it seems that the state government has also lost interest in it. At least, this is the impression one gains after coming to know that only four schools in the entire district facilitate study of science in plus two classes.

According to sources, out of the total 42 government senior secondary schools, 11 facilitate study of the science group, but staff crunch has restricted this number to just four. The sources said except for tehsil places like Sardulgarh, Mansa, and Budhlada, none of the schools in Bhikhi, Fafde Bhaike, Boha, Bareta, Jhunir, Bhaini Bhagha, and Joga had science lecturers.

The sources said Mansa probably had the worst scenario. The district has 3 physics lecturers, 6 chemistry lecturers, and 9 biology lecturers. In this way only 18 teachers are at work against the required number of 33.

Laboratories are must for science subject. None of the schools in the district has separate laboratories for physics, chemistry and biology, with quality equipments. Only three schools have got one lab each, while in other schools, classrooms serve the purpose. Even the schools having labs lack proper water and gas supply, dark room, and other equipments.

At the college level too, the district has no institution offering bachelor and masters course in science.

Sources said 52 high schools of the district were awaiting grants for the construction of labs. A combined science lab is also required for the science students of Class VI to Class X, which is yet to be materialise in the schools here. The sources said about 150 posts of science teacher were lying vacant and the schools, which have science teachers, lack lab equipment. A science teacher could not even show his students simple things like prism, voltmeter, screw gauge, etc. Science kits lying in some of the schools are also not worth using.

Mr Gurlabh Singh, who is working as District Science Supervisor at the District Education Office, said he would soon send a plan for raising labs at government schools to the higher authorities.


Remove anomalies, say unemployed teachers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers’ Union (UETU), Punjab, at a meeting held at the Nehru park here yesterday, urged the government to remove the anomalies in the report presented by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The union also presented a memorandom to the MP, Ms Preneet Kaur and Cabinet Minister Mr Lal Singh.

In a press note, the President, UETU, Patiala unit, Mr Lakhwinder Singh urged them to remove anomalies in the earlier report pertaining to the age limit, including the decrease of age limit for recruitment purposes from 42 years to 28. The union also demanded recruitment at state-level instead at village-level as was envisaged by Ms Bhattal in her report. The UETU said a new report free from anomalies should be presented in the state cabinet after which 6,000 vacant posts should be advertised and filled up. The union also warned that it would launch an agitation on July 3 at Sangrur, in case their demands were not met.


Dr Gujral asked to resign
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
As the Punjab Government has made its intention clear regarding the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, lobbying has started for the post. Though it has not been officially confirmed, sources say that the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Gujral, has been asked to submit his resignation by the government.

The sources said that Dr Ravinder Singh, an eminent surgeon from Patiala who retired as the Director, Research and Medical Education, Punjab, a few years ago, was among the front-runners for the post. He is said to be close to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.


Foundation stone of Army School laid
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
Lieut-Gen Mohinder Singh, Adjutant-General, Army Headquarters, laid the foundation stone of an Army School building at Jalandhar cantonment here today.

Addressing the gathering, Lieut-Gen Mohinder Singh said that the project would create the much-needed facility for the children of Army personnel. Mr D.L. Mathur, Chief Engineer, said that the school would have seven triple-storey blocks of classrooms, a multipurpose hall and an administrative block.

The ceremony was attended by Lieut-Gen Mandhata Singh, General Officer Commanding, Vajra Corps, Maj-Gen B.J. Gupta, Chief of Staff, and management committee of Army Public School.


YPS students visit Australia
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 29
A delegation of students of the Yadvindra Public School (YPS), led by its Principal, Mr R.P Devgan, visited Australia recently as a part of a study tour. The YPS students were part of a team comprising of students of Budha Dal Public School, Patiala, BCS, Bangalore, and Bishop’s School, Pune, also. Mr Devgan, said for the first four days of the tour, the students were the guests of the Queensland Government. He said the students were taken on a educational tour, which included the experience of watching sheep shearing. This was followed by a visit to Australian Catholic University. Mr Devgan added that the students learnt a lot when they were taken to Brisbane High School and the University of Queensland.

The students were taken to Nudgec College, which Mr Devgan, said was spread over an area of 400 acres. The students were also taken around the campus of the University of Technology, Queensland, where they performed Bhangra.

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