P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt depts’ heads shielding tainted employees?
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Various departments of the Punjab Government are seemingly “protecting” their corrupt employees from facing the law. Using discretion, several government departmental heads have been saving tainted employees, who were nabbed taking bribes by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the past two years.

The departmental heads had not been according “permission to prosecute” in many cases of employees being wanted by the Vigilance Bureau. Without this permission the bureau could not even file a charge sheet in court. Thus, the nabbed employees remained more or less “off the hook”. The parent departments of such tainted employees had been holding back the permission to prosecute even though the Amarinder government had issued clear instructions to weed out corrupt elements.

Investigations by the Tribune revealed that the bureau had a pile of more than 90 cases in which permission to prosecute was being awaited for more than one year. Out of this about 25 cases were of those employees who had been nabbed more than two years ago, but could not be charged in court as their parent departments were “not cooperating”.

The “modus operandi” to shield the employees was simple. Whenever permission to prosecute a tainted employee was sought, the bureau was informed that a departmental enquiry was on against the said employee to probe charges of corruption. This kept on happening even as the Bureau kept on demanding permission even after having nabbed the employee red handed accepting bribes. Needless to say these departmental enquiries were never completed or these exonerate probes the employee of any wrong doing, admitted an official of the bureau when asked what was the outcome of so many corruption cases.

Officials of the bureau admitted in private that they were working with their hands tied to their backs. Sample this: In February 2004 two doctors were nabbed while accepting bribes. The Health Department came under a scanner blown when the bureau sleuths nabbed more doctors from Moga, Muktsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Bathinda in the following months. Some of the nabbed were senior doctors. However, since then, nothing happened since no cases were put up in court because the Health Department just sat over the request of the Bureau.

Sources pointed out that this was not a single example. The story was being repeated with monotonous regularity in almost all departments of the government and this was happening right under the nose of various departmental heads. Letters by the Vigilance Bureau seeking sanction to “prosecute” did not even merit a reply now. And it was just not one department holding back the permission. Besides the health wing staff, many engineers, patwaris, tehsildars, bankers in the cooperative sector had been nabbed by the bureau to but it could not file charges so far.

A couple of Junior Engineers of the irrigation wing were facing charges of having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. Similarly there were Junior Engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board who had not been prosecuted despite being caught red handed.

In another case a senior official of a cooperative bank too went away scot free before the Court. In yet another case a senior official of the Transport Department had also got the benefit of the “departmental enquiry.” Another senior Engineer of the water supply wing too remained “off the hook” using a similar route to escape the courts.

The bureau had shot into limelight when it had dealt with the alleged corruption cases involving former Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravi Sidhu and also former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.


Punjab had ignored Home Ministry report on militancy
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana: The Ministry of Home Affairs had warned the Punjab authorities about efforts to revive militancy in Punjab. But the state police did not take the warning seriously and no serious effort was made to nab the four accused to Beant Singh assassination case who had escaped from the Burail Jail.

The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for 2004-05 mentions, ‘Available inputs, however, suggest that efforts continue to be made to revive militancy in Punjab but with little success. Top leaders of the Sikh militant groups, including Wadhawa Singh, chief, BKI, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, chief KCF (P), Lakhbir Singh Rode, chief IYSF (Rode), Ranjit Singh alias Neeta, chief KZF (Khalistan Zindabad Force) and Gajinder Singh, chief DKI (Dal Khalsa International) continue, to take shelter in Pakistan.

The report mentions that the general law and order situation in Punjab during 2004 remained under control. However, security forces arrested 24 militants during the period as compared to 16 during 2003.

The report further says, ‘The Central Government continues to be in close touch with the state government and keep a close watch on the situation and remains committed to ensure that militancy in Punjab is not revived by the anti-national elements. The government is also pursuing its efforts to secure the apprehension and deportations of Pak-based pro-Khalistan militants to ‘India’.

The escape of four accused of Beant Singh assassination case from Burail Jail in January last year did cause some worry to the state authorities but they were soon complacent in their efforts to nab the fugitives. The two bomb blasts in two cinema houses in Delhi in May shook the Punjab police out of slumber.

The police authorities now admit that it was their failure to nab Hawara and his accomplices after their escape from the Burail Jail. Three accomplices of Hawara who escaped with him are still at large.

The interrogations of the arrested persons has revealed that Hawara has been successful in strengthening his group in Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and Patiala districts. The Punjab police officials concede that the state lacks strong intelligence skills and so far the main thrust of the intelligence agencies has been on political intelligence and no effort has been made to strengthen the criminal intelligence.

The recovery of huge explosives from the arrested follower of Hawara also indicate that the Babbar Khalsa International has changed its strategy and this is to strike at crowded places like cinema houses instead of indulging in random shootouts. They have now hi-tech equipment to organise blasts and as such they are not required to carry weapons like AK-47 assaults rifles which can be detected easily.

Babbar Khalsa International has also made a significant change in operations of recruiting Sikh only and now is recruiting non-Sikhs also. Hawara has succeeded in attracting some women too.

The general feeling among the people is that the police should arrest only genuine hardcore persons and no innocent person should be harassed as had happened earlier.


3 villages submerged due to breach in rivulet
Kiran Deep

Tribune News Service

Bharatgarh (Ropar), July 3
Three villages in Bharatgarh town of Ropar district today faced flood-like situation due to breach in a seasonal rivulet here triggered by heavy rain in parts of Himachal where it originated. With heavy flow of water, about 30-foot-wide leakage surfaced in the rivulet thereafter fields and houses of the three villages, Bal, Chakkiyan and Beli, submerged in the water up to 5 feet.

The overflow of water made many villagers to stay on the roof of their houses to save themselves since last evening after the breach in the rivulet passing through Bal village. Later in the morning about 10 am the flow of water reduced and the villagers came down. But a threat of flood still looms large over the villages as the rain continues.

This is not the first incident. For the past 17 years, residents of these three villages have been facing flood-like situation every year during the monsoon. In 1988, following heavy leakage of water from seasonal rivulets many houses of the three villages washed away and farmers suffered heavy losses. Since then, the administration took no step to prevent breach in the rivulet and farmers have to suffer a lot during the monsoon, said 62-year-old farmer of Bal village, Jetha Singh.

Many villagers during night stayed on the roof of their houses, he added

A panch of Chakkiyan village, Bhagat Singh said about 50 acres had been destroyed. Lack of any maintenance for the past several years, there was threat of breach at several places in the rivulet.

Villagers complain that the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, had also decided to visit the village on June 12 to check the threat from seasonal rivulets. But more than 200 villagers and two tehsildars kept on waiting for him till 6 pm. Thereafter the villagers received a message that the Deputy Commissioner had cancelled his visit, they added.

They said despite the fact that since 1988, the life of the villagers continued to be under threat during the monsoon, none of the officials had time to visit the villages to hear the grievances of the farmers.


Rains make Ferozepore look medieval
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 3
Rains may be a boon for the farmers, but as far as the residents of this border town are concerned, downpour always turns out to be a nightmare as it brings a plethora of problems for them.

What to talk of heavy downpour as is being witnessed for the last couple of days, even a slight drizzle inundates the town, particularly the interiors and the low lying areas. The bumpy roads dotted with potholes become a cesspool of slush and the faulty sewerage system further adds to their woes.

Thanks to the erroneous planning on part of the municipal authorities, the absence of any provision for disposal of rain water ensures that stinking water even enters homes.

Ironically, the room set up for the Flood Control Operation itself has been flooded with the rainwater. Same is the condition in the DC office complex, Judicial Courts and the SSP office, which too have been flooded with water.

The road connecting Ferozepore City to Zira, the road leading to Officers Colony near Consumers Court, main circular road, Railway Road, roads near Piranwala Mohalla and Lohanran Bazaar and even The Mall Road near Udham Singh Chowk are in an appalling condition.

Even a slight drizzle results in water getting accumulated making it extremely difficult for the passers- by to commute on these roads. Furthermore, the potholes beneath the accumulated water act as death traps as it becomes risky to drive on this road.

The availability of clean potable water, constant supply of electricity and sewerage disposal is also affected badly due to which residents have to suffer.

Mr K. L. Bhandari, a retired government servant, said the Chatti Gali locality in the city was without electricity for the last 24 hours and blamed the rains for the trouble.

He added that when he contacted the concerned Executive Engineer, he was told to contact the lower staff as it was not his duty.

A tour of the town reveals that heaps of garbage dot the edges of blocked drains serving as breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes and can result in water-borne diseases.

Last year only, more than a dozen people had died here due to gastroenteritis and diarrhea but the administration, it seems has not learnt any lesson.

What to talk of other places, the scenario in the Officers Colony where most of the senior civil, judicial and police officials reside, is equally dismal.

Mr Anil Gupta, a resident of the Officer's Colony, said the situation was going from bad to worse due to the apathy of the concerned authorities.

He said the condition of roads, availability of potable water and the cleanliness in the colony which should have been a matter of concern seem nowhere to be on the agenda of the administration.

The administration seems helpless in the present scenario as they always come with a routine reply citing paucity of funds, which has invited public wrath.

The Deputy Commissioner was not available for comments as he was said to be out of station.

The only official available was Divisional Commissioner K. S. Sidhu who said though it was the job of the Deputy Commissioner to supervise damage control, yet in the interests of the public, he had instructed the concerned officials to rectify the problems of the residents.


Dubai trip: Sukhbir questions security implications
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The controversy surrounding the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh’s secret trip to Dubai took a new turn today with the former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, seeking a clarification from the Union Government on the CM’s alleged non-compliance of foreign exchange regulations and the absence of economic clearance by the Union Ministry of Finance for the trip.

Mr Badal, who is also the General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, wanted the Union Home Ministry to come clean on the possible internal security implications of the CM’s strange act of hiding his vital movements from the ‘Z’ category security umbrella.

In separate communications to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Finance Minister, Mr Badal raised the issue of fulfillment of necessary legal formalities by the CM before undertaking the trip. “Every Chief Minister is bound by law to apprise the Prime Minister in advance of the details of his foreign sojourn, in addition to securing an economic sanction from the Government of India, especially with regard to the foreign exchange involved.”

Mr Badal in a statement issued here today said that sponsoring of CM’s visit by the Delhi industrialist, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, or anyone else was not the real issue. The Akali leader said that the real issue concerned four sensitive questions of public importance. “Did the CM inform the Prime Minister of his plans in advance? Did he secure economic sanction about the trip from the Ministry of Finance? Did he inform the MHA of his decision to dispense with the Z security cover? And what were his compulsions in keeping the trip in the shroud of secrecy, dodging his official security officers, the state Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and even his Cabinet and political colleagues, including the Deputy Chief Minister?,” he asked.

In addition the CM also allegedly committed a grave violation of protocol by not calling on the Governor before and after making the trip, said Mr Badal, adding that it was a pity that the Punjab Chief Minister should now need people from outside his party, like Mr Sarna, to defend him.

“The CM must break his silence on what forced him to stray so far away from the law, precedent, protocol and decorum? Why is he silent on the allegations that he may have gone there to clinch, along with Mr Ponty Chadha and Mr Sarna, multi-billion real estate transactions with the money allegedly amassed through liquor auctions, massive bribes and other questionable means?” asked the former Union Minister.


SGPC destroying originality of historic gurdwaras
Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
Sikhs are a minority community and not Hindus and they do not need a certificate from anybody to prove it, stated Minorities Commission Chairman Tarlochan Singh here today while replying to a query on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s controversial remark. He was here to attend a function at Public Library.

Talking to The Tribune, he said Sikhs were recognised as a minority by the Indian Government as well as Parliament. He said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had accepted it in writing three years back that Sikhs was a separate term and it was also published in the gazette of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). He said there was no need for anyone to reply to such unnecessary hue and cry on the status of Sikhs.

On the Imrana issue, the Minority Commission Chairman said he personally felt that normal crimes should not be linked with one’s religion. Regarding the Uniform Civil Code, he said it could only be implemented after proper consensus on the issue.

Addressing a gathering at the Virasat Bhavan being raised by Mr HS Khalsa, he said the SGPC had failed to maintain the originality of historic gurdwaras and replaced their bricks with Rajasthani marble.

He said the SGPC had wiped out marks of glorious Sikh history and the next generation would never forgive it for the same. In such a scenario Sikhs made a beeline even if they came to know of the smallest of things associated with their Gurus.

He alleged that the SGPC was once contemplating the demolition of Ramgarhia Bunga, which was symbolic of the Sikhs’ victory over Delhi, so as to widen the “parkarama” of the Golden Temple.

He said even Pakistan had maintained the historic Lahore Fort well and they had not replaced a single brick from historic buildings in the walled city of Lahore.

He said the Punjab Government should make an Act for proper conservation, upkeep, and security, of historic gurdwaras and items. Many such items were either being stolen or not being properly maintained.

The Maharaja of Nabha had some historic items in his palace, but nobody knew where they went after he sold off his palace. He said people had a right to know about it, as it was not a personal property and the Maharaja got it being a public representative.

He also laid stress on the need to sensitise youth on their history and heritage. He said it was unfortunate that marks of history were vanishing at such a fast pace despite Sikhism being one of the youngest religions of the world.

The Minorities Commission Chairman, who is also a Rajya Sabha Member, said he had also taken up the matter of raising Bhagat Singh’s memorial in Parliament, as it was Parliament where the martyr had exploded bomb that set alarm bells ringing for the British empire. He said not even a plate was put up at the spot from where Bhagat Singh threw the bomb.


Iranian varsities keen to collaborate with GND varsity
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
The age-old relationship between Iran and Punjab are likely to be strengthened in the coming days. This was stated by Mr Siyavash Zargar Yaghoubi, Ambassador of Iran. He said today that Iran was ready to teach Persian language to Sikh intellectuals on the recommendations of the SGPC.

Knowledge of Persian language would help historians to re-write history as it is primary source of most of the events relating to Sikhism. He said Mardana who was the first disciple and lifelong companion of Guru Nanak, belonged to Iran.

The Iranian Ambassador, who paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and showed keen interest in Sikhism, was honoured by the SGPC.

Mr Yaghoubi, who also visited the Wagah border and Guru Nanak Dev University said Iranian universities were keen to collaborate with the university in the areas of language, culture and history of Punjab. He also met the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, and senior faculty members.

Mr Yaghoubi was accompanied by Mr Ainollah Souri, counsellor, and Mr M.Shakib, cultural counsellor.

The visiting Iranian envoy while interacting with faculty members of the university said Iran had close relationship with India and had a great love and affection for Sikhs. He said a lot of scholarships were available in their country and they were interested in exchange programmes of students, teachers and researchers with some leading Indian universities.

He said Iran had a Centre of Cultural Heritage and if any scholar associated with language especially with Persian language, history and culture were welcome to undertake research there. After mutual collaboration, the Iranian Ambassador said areas of specific research could be identified with collaboration.

Earlier, while welcoming the Iranian Ambassador and other diplomats, the Vice-Chancellor apprised them of various academic programmes being run by the university.

The Vice-Chancellor also showed interest in student-teacher exchange programme between Guru Nanak Dev University and Iranian universities. He offered all possible assistance to Iranian scholars who intend to do research at university. The Vice-Chancellor honoured Mr Yaghoubi with a set of university publications and a memento.


What did I do to deserve this, wonders Ajaib Singh
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Phillaur, July 3
Septuagenarian Ajaib Singh stands dazed at the Civil Hospital here as he sees his 15 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren lying dead in front of him.

Just hours before they were around him, his great grandchildren tugging at his shirt and taking turns to be picked up. All of them were seeking his blessings before embarking on a thanksgiving journey. Within hours, everything had finished. They now lay motionless around him.

Sources said the family wanted to be seen on TV while paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. They had left Mukandpur early to reach in time. Just a few hours later, hordes of cameramen were hovering around the bodies and the wailing relatives.

Ajaib Singh moves around in the hospital, confused and trying to figure out what should he do. ‘‘ Decades of hard labour in nurturing a family has come to naught with one cruel blow of fate,’’ he mumbles. Walking with the help of some other relatives and residents, he was so shocked that he has not even wept.

‘‘ He has been quiet ever since the police informed us’’, says a relative, urging Ajaib Singh to cry. ‘‘ Please somebody make him cry’’, the impleading continues.

A Dalit, Ajaib Singh had toiled in fields of rich farmers to nurture his family. His three sons Baljit Singh, Baldev Singh and Lakhwinder Singh too would contribute their bit. Just a few months ago, the financial position of the family had improved.

It was for this that the family was taking a religious trip to Amritsar. ‘‘ Now everything has to be started afresh’’, says Ajaib Singh. “God knows what wrong I had committed that I have to suffer like this.’’

Ajaib Singh watches from a distance as the bodies are loaded in three trucks. He seems to be readying himself supervise the cremation of his loved ones.

The family got heartening news in the evening. Three of the five children admitted to DMC were discharged. They are Mankot Singh, Amandeep Singh and Jugraj. The other two, Kala and Mandeep Kaur, have been declared out of danger. The next generation of the family will live on.


CM condoles deaths of Chachrarri victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today expressed grief over the tragic accident in which 15 members of two families lost their lives when their Jeep rammed into a stationary truck at Chachrarri village, near Goraya.

The Chief Minister directed the police and the civil administration to extend help and cooperation to the next of the kin of the deceased in transporting the bodies to their respective destinations and provide free medical treatment to the injured.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 1 lakh to each of the next of kin of the deceased, besides Rs 25,000 and Rs 5,000 each to persons with serious and minor injuries, respectively.


‘Khalistanis’ have been isolated in Canada: writer
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Canada-based Iqbal Ramoowalia is a progressive writer of Punjabi and also a political activist. Besides half a dozen books on Punjabi poetry, Iqbal has also authored a novel in English, “The Death of a Passport”.

His second novel, “What the Judges won’t see,” which is under print in Canada and will be released next month, is based on the Kanishka plane tragedy involving the killing of 329 persons. It is the story of pain and agony of the families who lost their loved ones in the plane.

After doing MA, M.Phil, from the University of Waterloo, Iqbal has been teaching English in Peel District School Board, Brampton, an industrial suburb of Toronto. He has been observing the Sikh politics in Canada quite closely for the past three decades especially from the days when radical Sikh organisations, also called “Khalistanis”, became active in the main gurdwaras there.

“I have been opposing the radical Sikh politics and its protagonists. I have serious political differences with the Khalistani lobby in Canada and have been confronting them on the basis of my secular and progressive convictions”, says Iqbal.

Talking to TNS here today, he said the “Khalistanis” had been fighting a losing battle in Canada. They had been isolated in most of the cities there. They had, by and large, lost the support of Sikh community. “ They have a say in certain management committees of the Sikh religious places like the Dixie Gurdwara where they have been calling the shots for long”, he added.

“Sikhs in Canada were fully aware of the activities of Khalistanis and they do not give much weightage to them. There were Sikh leaders, who had been indulging in politics in the name of Khalistan but most of them had now become political non-entities”, he added.

Asked about the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to Dixie Gurdwara, Iqbal said he failed to understand that how the Khalistani lobby manipulated the Chief Minister’s visit to that gurdwara. “The CM’s visit certainly proved a disappointment for those NRIs who have been fighting against Khalistanis in Canada”, he added.

Even the overseas Congress leaders, who had been waging battle against Khalistanis in Canada, were surprised to see that Khalistanis leaders like Sukhminder Singh Hansra had managed to be around the Chief Minister during his visit to Dixie Gurdwara, he said. “Had the CM consulted those who knew the Sikh politics in Canada, he would not have perhaps faced the controversy, he was facing now”, said Iqbal.

He said the reality was that most of the Khalistanis were on the blacklist of the Indian Government. They had not visited their native place — Punjab — for the past 25 years. They were desperate to come here.” They wanted the support of politicians like Capt Amarinder Singh to get their names removed from the black list”, he added.

“I urge the Indian Government to allow them all to visit Punjab so that they could see themselves that there was no talk of Khalistan anywhere in Punjab. The visit would remove their many misconceptions and presumptions”, he added.

Asked about the NRI politicians in Canada, Iqbal said many of them were introducing the Indian political culture in the Canadian politics. “ All political ills, including the dubious enrollment of party members have been injected by some of the NRIs in Canadian politics,” he added.


Now, US school’s diktat to weld ‘kirpan’ with sheath
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
Earlier, it was the ban by French authorities on wearing turban in schools, now another controversy is brewing following a directive by a school in the USA asking a baptised Sikh girl to weld her 'kirpan' with sheath or to discontinue her education.

The 16-year-old Sikh schoolgirl, Priyanka Kaur, has refused to obey her school's decision.

Though she has been selected to complete her schooling at the University of North Texas under a prestigious academic programme, run by the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Sciences (TAMS), yet the issue is likely to make headlines in the coming days.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, SGPC member and also a convener of 'Akal Purukh Ki Fauz,' while talking to the Tribune today condemned the decision of the school authorities.

He said the welded 'kirpan' would remain a piece of iron and not a religious symbol.

He urged the Sikh organisations all over the world to intervene in the matter.

Priyanka Kaur revealed that her father had informed the school authorities that since she had been baptised after taking 'amrit' (nectar), she would have to wear 'kirpan'.

She further said she had been wearing all the 'Ks', as mandated by Sikhism, except the 'kirpan' due to strict instructions by the school authorities regarding weapons.

Mr Kultaran Singh, father of the girl, has approached Sikh organisations, including United Sikhs, for help as the issue has wider implications for the whole community.

Mr Manwinder Singh, director of the United Sikhs' International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy, said they worked with Mr Kultaran Singh over the past few months and prepared for the school authorities a slide show presentation on the 'Ks' and other aspects of Sikhism.

He said they had conveyed their dissatisfaction to the school over their decision to disallow the girl from continuing her education.

Mr Manwinder Singh said they had also written to the concerned authorities about their unacceptable decision.


Cong has failed on all fronts: Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, July 3
The Congress-led government has failed at every front during its rule in the state. The law and order situation has not deteriorated. Clean governance, development and employment avenues have become dreams. Moreover, peace and harmony have also been affected in the state.

This was stated by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, while addressing mediapersons after he visited several villages of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, here today.

A former Punjab Finance Minister and MLA from Banur, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, criticised the Punjab Government for erratic power supply in the state, especially in Zirakpur and surrounding areas. The MLA said that instead of providing regular power supply, the government has enforced four times hike in power prices.

Moreover, hike on petrol and diesel prices have also affected the overall inflation of the government economy, he added.

While targeting the Punjab Chief Minister (CM), Capt Amarinder Singh, he said rather visiting public and solving their problems, he was more interested in frequent undisclosed foreign trips.

Coming heavily on the Congress government in Punjab and in the Centre, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said a situation of economic stagnation had developed in the country as economic growth has fallen drastically.

He alleged that the Congress had been pressuring the police force to create panic among the public. The crime graph had shown a sharp increase as cases of child kidnapping, bomb blasts and seizure of arms and ammunition from police personnel have reported at a large scale recently.

Besides, residents and municipal councillors of the area, the MLA was also accompanied by Ms Manisha Malik, Vice-President of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, Mr Pradeep Kumar, General Secretary of the SAD Zirakpur circle, and some other prominent personalities.


Free power a publicity stunt, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
Launching a scathing attack on the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal said today the Dixie gurdwara row and the CM’s secret visit to Dubai hinted at Amarinder’s “intention to spoil the atmosphere of the state”.

Badal stated this while laying the foundation stone of the langar hall of gurdwara at Kotshamir village, near here, today.

Interacting with mediapersons, he ruled out the possibility of revival of terrorism in the state and added that peace-loving people of Punjab would not allow it.

He termed the state government’s announcement of free power to small farmers as mere “publicity stunt in the wake of the coming Assembly elections”. He opposed the formation of a separate gurdwara parbandhak committee in Haryana.

However, Badal evaded reply to a query on his signing a memorandum seeking formation of Khalistan.

Meanwhile, the SGPC today announced the construction of a school at Kotshamir village that would come up at the cost of Rs 2 crore. Hostel facility would also be provided at the school. Badal announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for primary school in the village.

SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and SGPC senior vice-president, Gurpal Singh, Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh and former minister Chiranji Lal Garg, were also present on the occasion.


SAD to enrol NRIs as members
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal will commence its membership drive for the enrolment of Punjabis settled abroad from the next month. This was stated by Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, while talking to media persons here after his return from the tour of the UK, the USA and other countries.

Mr Mann said that the Punjabis settled in the UK and the USA were concerned about the deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab. He said that during his visit to these countries, he met a lot of Punjabi families there which seemed worried about the prevailing situation in Punjab under the Congress regime.

Mr Mann said that NRIs complained of the poor infrastructure in the state.

Mr Mann said that on NRI, Mr Jassy Singh, had promised to provide five computers each in all the schools in Ferozepore district for imparting computer education to the children.

Similarly, he stated that a lot of Punjabi NRIs were keen on establishing their business here, provided government assured them the requisite support.


No rift among Batala councillors: Cong
Our Correspondent

Batala, July 3
City Congress Committee (I) President Kasturi Lal Seth and Mr Balwinder Singh Laddi, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Gurdaspur, defended the action of the councillors while sending Mr Subash Sekhri on a forced leave from the Presidentship of Municipal Council, Batala.

They denied that there was any factionalism amongst the Congress councillors or that there was any heart-burning in the dissident group.

They reiterated that in the interest of the party, Mr Subash Sekhri has proceeded on two months leave voluntarily and without any pressure from any side.

The press conference was addressed yesterday by the city Congress president and chairman, Zila Parisad, Gurdaspur, at Town Hall, Batala.

However, the claims of the above two were belied when councillor Tarlochan Chanda openly denied the same.

It was declared in the meeting that Mrs Adarshdeep Kaur Parmar was promoted temporarily with the concurrence of Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Parliamentary Secretary.


Harassed by ‘minister’s men’, woman alleges police inaction
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, July 3
Fearing threat to her life by “influential men” close to a Punjab minister and having been “coerced“ by them for over three years, Ms Davinder Kaur Aulakh, chairperson of the local Sri Guru Ram Dass College of Nursing, has been fighting a lonely battle to get justice, but without any success so far.

Despite taking notice of her plight the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC), which has also directed the Additional DGP, (Law and Order-cum Human Rights, Punjab Davinder Kaur Aulakh still apprehends threat to her life. She claims her opponents can go to any extent to usurp control of the Sri Guru Ram Dass College of Nursing.

The institute, according to her, has been a bone of contention between her and some “influential men” close to a Punjab minister, who, have been harassing her since 2003.

“Since they see me as a competitor and know that I am a lonely woman, they want that I should run away from here. Apart from attacking our college bus while it was on its way from the hostel to the institute on January 31, 2003, they had sent a CRPF man, who was on leave, to threaten us with his pistol on October 3, 2003. I also keep getting threats through confidants of the minister though the minister has never threatened me personally so far. But I suspect that everything is being done on his behest and his well-known son. Everything is apparent as the local police has never acted on my complaints and I had to approach the PHRC,” alleged Davinder Kaur.

On the basis of her plea, apart from ordering a probe into the matter, the PHRC had already directed the Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner on May 25 to ensure that she was not harassed by any public servant of the district in any manner.

Not satisfied with how events unfolded even after the PHRC order, Ms Davinder Kaur Aulakh said that the office of the Additional DGP had forwarded the probe to SSP Hoshiarpur, who, in turn, had asked the SP (D) to enquire into the matter. “How can I get justice from the Hoshiarpur police when it had never acted on my complaints earlier? All I want is that the matter should be investigated either by the ADGP (Law and Order-cum-Human Rights) or by some senior officer of the CBI,” demanded Davinder Kaur.

“All I can say at this juncture is that the men of the minister can get me killed even through some of my close relatives and I am trying to save myself and my institution from those who wanted to take control of it at any cost. Not only me, they have been harassing the staff and students of our institute. I pray to the Chief Minister to put an end to this state of law-lessness,” said Ms Davinder Kaur Aulakh, while, showing copy of the identity card of the CRPF personnel, who had allegedly come to attack her and whose identity card she had snatched as she had grappled with him.


Traffic chaos in Jalandhar
MC, police look the other way
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 3
Traffic chaos has virtually gripped Jalandhar in the absence of proper traffic management at almost all vital points.

Though mismanagement of traffic is visible in all parts of the city, particularly in the old city and the outskirts, the most irritating and unruly traffic scenes, greet residents at the entry points to the city at Rama Mandi chowk, PAP chowk, inter-state bus terminus T-point, BMC Chowk, Patel Chowk, Kapurthala Chowk, Nakodar Chowk, Kachehri Chowk, Mota Singh Nagar market chowk and Amritsar Chowk.

Even as the traffic police presence has been ensured by the authorities concerned at almost all these places, hardly any traffic police cop is ever seen controlling traffic at these points. Non-functional or dysfunctional traffic lights not only add to the woes of commuters and vehicle users at some of these points, but, they also confuse them.

The biggest problem has been created by the traffic cops themselves at the PAP T-point, where they allow private bus drivers to halt their vehicles to enable them to pick passengers for obvious reasons. As a result, vehicle drivers heading from Jalandhar to Phagwara usually fail to avail the use of green light as most of road remains occupied by private buses. So, they have to wait for the next green signal. The same is the case with the bus stand T-point and BMC chowk, where, cops are usually on the lookout for vehicles bearing number plates of other states to challan them.

Though traffic cops remain deployed at Jyoti chowk, they fail to do anything about the congestion created by shopkeepers and vegetable and fruit vendors, who have encroached upon a large part of the open space. Rehris at the place further complicate the situation. Similarly, the Municipal Corporation and traffic police authorities have failed to do anything to clear the otherwise wide GT Road of encroachments. The entire focus of the traffic cops remains on preventing shoppers from parking their vehicles there.

No traffic regulation has ever been followed in any of the congested bazars of the city, where, fast and slow moving vehicles, make it a nightmare for pedestrians.


Tension in town during protest against Divya Jyoti Sansthan
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 3
Tension prevailed in the city today when about 400 persons under the banner of the Gurmat Prachar Committee tried to stop disciples of Ashutosh Maharaj of the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS) from holding their weekly programme. The police prevented the protesters at Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara and foiled their plan to march towards the programme venue.

After being stopped by the police, the religious leaders led a peaceful march towards Gurdwara Sahib, Gurunanakpura, and said they would announce their future course of action on next Sunday. On the other hand, the Sansthan managers alleged that these religious leaders were trying to spoil the atmosphere by indulging in an “unnecessary campaign”.

Sources said though timely intervention of the police had checked any untoward incident, but tension still prevailed between both the groups. Three months back some leaders of the Sansthan along with some devotees of the area had opened their dera on the Dosanjh road and had also distributed some text for their campaign.

The sources said a few days back some religious organisations handed over a charter of demands to the Deputy Commissioner seeking closure of the dera stating that they were campaigning against Sikh tenets.

Today when a large number of people gathered under the banner of Gurmat Prachar Committee, local MLA Tota Singh and SGPC member Harbans Singh also reached there, but the religious leaders had to change their plan owing to strong police presence.

Meanwhile, these religious leaders have warned that if the Sansthan managers were not stopped from holding their programmes till next Sunday then the religious organisations of the city would stage a dharna in front of the dera and the protest would continue till the dera is closed.

On the other hand, Swami Neerja Nand of the Sansthan said their mission was based on truth and they were working for the welfare of society. He made it clear that they had not indulged in any anti-Sikh activity during their campaign in the city.


Report finds high levels of toxicity in Punjab rivers
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The rivers of Punjab are facing an ecological crisis as the pollution level has increased tremendously resulting in a threat to thousands of people and aquatic life.

According to a report prepared by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, “A State of Environment, 2005”, during the past two decades, rapid industrialisation and agricultural practices have heavily polluted the fresh water resources of Punjab, both in physio-chemical and biological terms.

Industrial, domestic and agricultural waste accumulates in the aquatic ecosystems and then enters the primary, secondary and tertiary webs of the food chain.

The report, funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, says the Punjab Pollution Control Board has identified 15,547 polluting industries under various provisions of water and air Acts.

The Sutlej, which enters Punjab near Nangal, is the most polluted river of the state. Its toxicity level is high at Nangal (due to effluents from NFL, PNFC and Punjab Alkalies), Kiratpur Sahib (due to human ashes), Ropar (due to effluents from the Ropar Thermal Plant, DCM, Swaraj Mazda and United Pulp and Paper Mills), Ludhiana (due to the confluence of the Budha Nullah) and Gidderpindi village (due to the confluence of the East Bein).

The report says at the Nangal headworks the water quality is generally class “A” with sufficient dissolved oxygen content. Downstream, the river receives effluents from industries and municipal wastes. The water quality deteriorates from class “B” to “E”.

At Humbran village in Ludhiana district, where the Budha Nullah falls into the Sutlej, the water quality deteriorates to class “D” or “E”.

The report says the river stretch from Ludhiana to Harike has been identified as the most polluted. Two municipal corporations (Ludhiana and Jalandhar) and 27 municipal councils and notified area committees are discharging municipal wastes into the river.

A report published by the Indian Ecological Society, Ludhiana, in 1984 said 56 species of fish were recorded in the Budha Nullah in 1967. Now not even a single species of any aquatic fauna exists in the stretch.

The Beas is comparatively less polluted. It enters Punjab at Talwara, where the quality of water is class “A”. The water gets polluted at Mukerian (due to effluents from Mukerian Paper Mills) and Goindwal Sahib.

The Ghaggar gets effluents from ABC Ltd, Hindustan Lever, Stepan Chemicals, RMI Ltd and Bharat Commerce India Ltd at Rajpura; Patiala Distillers and Hindustan Wire Products at Patiala; and Escorts and Goetze India Ltd at Bahadurgarh.

Besides industrial and municipal pollution, nutrients and pesticides run off from agricultural fields during the rainy season also enter the rivers.

The report says the consumption of plant nutrients per unit of gross cropped area is the highest in Punjab (167 kg/ha) as compared to other states.

There is dire need for a long-term action plan to check river pollution in the state.


Sidhu skips father-in-law’s ‘bhog’ in Patiala
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 3
Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu, who swore not to step in his hometown of Patiala if voted to power by the electorate of the holy city, held a special tribute ceremony for his deceased father-in-law, Major Shamsher Singh Grewal (retd), in the city today.

The ‘Bhog’ ceremony was observed for his father-in-law in Patiala. However, Mr Sidhu did not go to Patiala as per his promise to those who voted him.

When faced with the criticism of being an outsider contesting for the MP’s seat in the city, Mr Sidhu had promised people of the holy city to vote for him and he would never go to his hometown!

True to his word, the MP has never gone to his hometown since he was elected Member of Parliament.


Dr Bains gets Order of British Columbia
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 3
Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, compiler of the first Encyclopaedia on Sikhism and producer-creator of the multimedia Sikh museum, was honoured by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Iona Campagnolo with the highest provincial award of the “Order of British Columbia 2005” at an impressive investiture ceremony in Victoria on June 29. Among those present were Mr Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia, Mr Lance S.G. Finch, Chief Justice of British Columbia, ministers and members of Canadian Parliament.

In addition to the medal, members of the Order received a lapel pin and a certificate of appointment in the form of letters patent.

The recipients were also invited to Government House for dinner by British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor.


Trust to promote Dalits’ welfare in the offing
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 3
The Scheduled Caste community plans to constitute Dr Ambedkar Gyan Jyoti Trust to protect the interests of the weaker sections in this district.

As many as 200 life members, both serving and retired, like teachers, doctors and engineers besides social workers will be enrolled and each member will contribute at least Rs 5,000 to run the scheme.

More than 100 members have already been enlisted alongwith their contribution fee and others would be enlisted in the next 10 days.

The trust would come to exist before the end of this month. Announcing it in a meeting of the enrolled members here today, Mr Jetha Ram, patron-in-chief of the trust and District Welfare Officer, said stress would be laid on the development of the Dalits, particularly in the field of education, and to provide social justice.

Initially, coaching classes for the wards of the weaker sections to get admission in various professional classes would be started by taking buildings on rent-basis next month.

In addition to it, education would also be imparted in science subjects to the needy students of high and senior secondary classes, he said.

Steps would also be initiated to inculcate the teachings of various saints and intellectuals like Guru Ravi Dass, Bhagat Kabir, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr B. R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Ba Phule and Baba Jiwan Singh among the Dalits by organising seminars to make them more patriot and devoted citizens of the country.

To make the working of the trust more viable in safeguarding the interests of the poor, the collected funds would be utilised by giving marginal money to the state and Central govt to avail of the benefits of welfare schemes being launched from time to time.

If more funds would be required, the trust members would donate the money generously. The funds would also be collected by enrolling ordinary members and the NRIs of the Dalit community, said the patron-in-chief.

He disclosed that over 90 NRIs from Panjgrain village in this district residing in UK. Germany and Dubai had already offered their services in cash and kind for the success of the trust and its plan.


Computer-assisted joint replacement surgery
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 3
The holy city that once was a hub of top orthopaedic surgery added another feather to its cap through the first-ever computer-assisted joint replacement surgery at Amandeep Hospital here.

The senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Avtar Singh performed the surgery using computer guided imaging system during total knee and hip replacement surgery.

Talking to newspersons, Dr Avtar Singh said this latest technique helped the surgeon to accurately and precisely align the artificial joint in the bone which increased the longevity of the joint. The surgery is not only economical but also safe.

Earlier, the manually operated procedures used to leave three out of 10 persons facing deformity but with this type of surgery any kind of complication could be prevented due to the high success rate .

Explaining the significance of this surgery, Dr Avtar Singh said even complicated joint procedures and deformity correctness could be done with greater safety. The surgery involves shorter stay in hospital, minimal invasive surgery through use of latest sensors, precise implantation etc, he added.

Explaining the technique he said “the image guided navigation system is similar to the location and directional tracking system software used for cars and ships. It is tailormade for this latest German made orthoplast machine called global positioning system for the surgeons”.

He said a 150-year-old German company had developed this navigation technology through its own software systems.


Toll tax being charged from vehicles on military duty
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Vehicles moving under military authorisation continue to be charged toll tax when plying on certain roads and bridges. Headquarters Western Command has now taken up the matter with the Ministry of Road Transport and National Highways.

In a letter written last week to the Director-General in the ministry as well as Punjab Government agencies concerned and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, the Western Command authorities have sought strict action against those manning the toll plaza at Dera Bassi and imposition of penalty on the organisations concerned for alleged violation of law.

The letter states that toll is being charged from civil hired transport (CHT) moving on duly authorised military duty, even when senior officers are travelling in it or military goods is being transported. The Army hires a large number of civilian vehicles of various categories to meet its requirements. These are driven by civilian drivers and a certificate of being on military duty is issued to them.

The letter points out that a directive issued by the ministry in September, 2004, includes CHT in the list of vehicles exempted from paying tax. It also quotes the Indian Tolls Act, which exempts civilian vehicles or animals moving under military authorisation from paying toll.

In April, 2005, when the ministry had issued the revised rate notification for the Dera Bassi overbridge, instructions pertaining to categories exempted under the Act were reiterated.

A few weeks earlier, military personnel entering Himachal Pradesh through Parwanoo had complained of toll being charged from them. This matter had also been taken up by the Army with the agencies concerned.


Operation theatre’s AC finds way to CS’ home
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 3
The requirement of air-conditioner is felt more at the residence of the Civil Surgeon, Patiala, than in the operation theatre of the Civil Hospital, Nabha. Complying telephonic orders from the Civil Surgeon’s office at Patiala, the authorities at the Nabha hospital removed an air-conditioner from an operation theatre of the hospital and now it is fitted at Civil Surgeon, Dr Yashpal Singla’s residence in Patiala.

According to information, the Civil Surgeon’s office ordered the authorities at the Civil Hospital, Nabha, to deposit an air-conditioner in the store of the Patiala Civil Surgeon’s office as it was needed there.

As the hospital did not have any air-conditioner at any other place except in the operation theatres, so they removed one from MTP-cum-minor OT and sent it to the Civil Surgeon’s office.

The civil hospital got a receipt for the air-conditioner from the Civil Surgeon’s office.

Interestingly, the only working ambulance of the hospital was sent for delivering the air-conditioner. Two technicians of the Nabha hospital got the air-conditioners fitted at the Civil Surgeon’s residence at Patiala.

Despite repeated attempts, Dr Yashpal Singla could not be contacted. His PA said his boss did not have a mobile phone. 


Workshop on anchoring from July 12
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
Famous Guinness world record holder in anchoring shows around the world, Mr Aftab, will hold three workshops of 15-days duration in the holy city starting from July 12.

Mr Aftab, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday said the workshop would stress on qualities required to produce successful anchors. He said each batch would consist of 20 to 25 candidates.

He said as Mr Prasun Roy, Information and Broadcasting Minister, had recently announced the phasing out of the license fee of Rs 12.5 crore on radio channels, there was a chance for youth of the city to prepare themselves for anchoring. Many FM channels are likely to take birth in the near future.


Grant for construction of dharmshalas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab Government had allotted Rs 1 crore for the construction of new dharmshalas and repair of old dharmshalas in the state for the Schedule Castes.

Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister of State for Social Security & Development of Women and Children, Punjab, said out of this amount, Rs 25 lakh would be provided for the construction of 25 new dharmshalas and Rs 75 lakh would be for the repair of old dharmshalas. She further added that construction and repair work would be done in the areas which would be recommended by the District Welfare Officer and after scrutiny sanctioned by the Director, Welfare Department.


Jatha flagged off
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 3
Mr G. Nageshwara Rao, SSP, Barnala police district flagged off Shiv Sewa Sangh Barnala’s ‘bhandara jatha’ for the Amarnath Yatra here on Saturday.

A group of 35 volunteers along with a fleet of five vehicles, including three trucks carrying food material and other articles left for Pahalgaam in Jammu and Kashmir for Amarnath pilgrims.

Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA Barnala announced monetary aid worth Rs 51,000 for the Sangh.


Driving licence to dead: DC for action against DTO
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
Following a probe into complaints of issue of driving licences to dead, Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari has recommended action against five employees of the District Transport office, including the then DTO and the ADTO.

Sources said the recommendation came after Additional Deputy Commissioner Harjeet Singh, submitted his probe report to the DC. The report had held the then DTO Sucha Singh Mast, who is now ADC (Development) of Bathinda, the ADTO, a senior assistant, and two clerks responsible for the anomalies.

The DC has written to the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary, Transport Department, to take action against these officials.

The sources said the District Transport Office had issued a licence to a dead and a handicapped person hailing from Rama village. The investigation revealed that the office had “misplaced” the original learning licences and records relating to both these cases.

The officials concerned did not seek report of the MVI before issuing these licences and the application forms had no photographs and proper signatures.

The sources said action had been recommended against senior assistant Mahinder Singh and clerk Jagtar Singh for showing negligence in keeping the records and issuing the licences in absence of required documents. The ADTO issued the learning licences without seeking necessary documents.

Similarly, the DTO did not check before signing the permanent licences despite their forms being sans photographs and having mistakes.


A safe haven for land grabbers!
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, July 3
Pathankot has become a safe haven for land grabbers. The grabbers, allegedly having nexus with the politicians, have become so powerful that officials concerned never dare to take action against them.

In one of such cases reported here, the grabbers managed to grab a valuable piece of 21 kanals land transferred in their names situated at Ghatora village. According to sources, the original land lady, a widow of Naar Singh, had died decades ago. Taking advantage of the revenue records in her name, the grabbers allegedly in active connivance with revenue officials, succeeded in getting the sale deed executed in their names recently.

They, according to sources, presented one fake lady before the Sub-Registrar here and the land was transferred in the names of grabbers. Interestingly, the fake seller was duly identified by a revenue official as one of the attesting witness.

In another case, more than 2 kanals of prime land at Anandpur village was got transferred in the names of influential persons of the town by flouting rules. It is said due to this, the natural water resource had been diverted causing great inconvenience to the public.

The sources said about the malfunctioning in the office of Sub-Registrar, the lawyers body had raised their voice and an inquiry was ordered but the same was swept under the carpet due to political interference.

When contacted, the Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Partap Singh, said he had no knowledge about the transfers of the lands. However, he said, he would inquire in the matter.


Murderers’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Batala, July 3
The Batala police achieved a major success when it busted a gang of murderers and snatchers, including a woman named Ratti, who was a proclaimed offender. The police recovered gold ornaments weighing 23 tolas, silver ornaments weighing 25 tolas and eight wrist watches. The total value of the recovered stolen property was about Rs 1.7 lakhs.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday Dr Jatindera Kumar Jain, Senior Superintendent of Police, said the Batala police had solved a case of murder and robbery with the arrest of Sukhwinder Singh, son of Gurdev Singh of Guru Nanak Colony, Ludhiana; Satnam Singh, son of Surjit Singh of Leel Kalan village; Malkeet Singh, son of Tarlok Singh, of Kaleke village, and Manjit Singh alias Goldy, of Kaleke.

Inspector Santokh Singh, SHO of police station Sadar, Batala, brought them from Ropar where they had been arrested in a theft case. The accused had looted Rs 3.75 lakh from Mr Kishan Chand and Mr Gurdial Singh.

The accused further confessed to have looted Rs 10 lakh at pistol point from Mr Kuldip Singh Sarpanch. Another person, named Harpreet Singh of Kaleke had joined them in this robbery.

Ratti, who was also arrested, along with her sisters, Sinder and Biri were operating in the area for the past three years. While travelling in buses and visiting thickly populated roads or marriage palaces, they managed to steal cash and jewellery. The police recovered 262 grams of gold ornaments, 360 grams of silver ornaments, some watches and Rs 21,000 in cash from Sinder and 31 tolas of ornaments worth Rs 1.25 lakh from Biri.


Sarpanch hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 3
The ongoing dispute between the two groups, one led by Mr Naginder Singh, sarpanch, and the other by his opponent Harjinder Singh, over the construction of a sewerage chamber before the house of the latter at Nainowal Vaid village of this district took a new turn when some persons assaulted the sarpanch with sharp-edged weapons while he was going on his motor cycle to his village after closing his shop from Adda Saran at about 6 p.m. last evening. He was seriously wounded and was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Tanda.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 323, 324, 379 and 34 of the IPC against Amritpal Singh, Panjit Singh alias Pana, Jagdish Singh alias Disha and Swarn Singh, all residents of the village.

Mr Bhagwan Singh Chohan, general secretary of the BSP unit, Punjab, said here today that the sarpanch who was a Dalit, drew up a plan to introduce sewerage system in the village for draining out sullage water. They collected donations of Rs 1.50 lakh from villagers.

When the chamber was constructed before the house of Harjinder Singh Jat, he became agitated and opposed it under the alleged plea that he would not allow flowing of dirty water of the houses of Dalits before his house. He made obstacle by dumping sand-filled bags on the spot.

When the Sarpanch, along with others, tried to remove the bags, Harjinder Singh assaulted him with a bahola (agriculture implement) due to which one person, who came for his rescue, got injuries. A case under the Prevention of Atrocities on the SC/ST Act 1998 and Section 324 of the IPC had been registered at the Hariana police station against Harjinder Singh on June 27, 2005.

He alleged that had the police acted timely, the murderous attack on the sarpanch could have been averted.

Mr Chohan further said a meeting of the state BSP had been called at Jalandhar today to discuss the matter. Mr Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary of the BSP, was specially invited to take stock of the situation.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner Hoshiarpur, said he had deputed SDM to probe the whole incident and submit his report to him at the earliest. He said none of the person would be allowed to exploit the situation for selfish motives. Two separate cases had already been registered in this connection and two of the assaulters had been arrested so far, he added.


Bid to kidnap youth foiled

Abohar, July 3
Armed miscreants made an unsuccessful bid to kidnap a youth at Deewankhera village on the Abohar — Sriganganagar road here today.

According to information, three muffled persons scaled the wall of a house owned by Mr Kashmjr Chand at 2.30 a.m. today and tried to gag his son Virender Kumar’s mouth with a piece of cloth. Virender raised an alarm. His mother got up and grappled with one of the intruders.

Meanwhile, one of the intruders who was guarding the entrance of the house tried to tie Mr Kashmir Chand but the latter resisted and shouted for help. On hearing his cries villagers rushed for help but miscreants fired shots into the air and escaped.

An alert was sounded on loudspeaker fitted at a gurdwara but miscreants could not be nabbed. The sarpanch and some members of the panchayat informed the Khuyiansarwer police station about the incident. — OC


PMET topper wants to be cardiologist
Tribune News Service

Mansa, July 3
Nishant Gupta, son of a doctor couple, has brought laurels to the city by topping not only the PMET, but also the medical entrance test for admission to private medical colleges in Karnataka.

A student of SSD Senior Secondary School, Nishant had secured the third rank in the PMET held on June 5. He said unlike last time, he wasn’t expecting any rank as he had not studied much after June 5.

He aspires to be a cardiologist.

He used to study for 8-10 hours daily. He gave the credit of his success to hard work, teachers, parents and the motivation of his grandmother. He said his late grandfather, Kapoor Chand, “prepared my base.”

His father, is a child specialist at the Civil Hospital, while his mother is a gynaecologist.

Meanwhile, Navdeep Kaur of Faridkot, who secured the second rank in PMET, is on cloud nine as she has improved her rank by 18 slots to make it to the top five. Daughter of a veterinarian she attributed her success to her parents and teachers. She used to study for 10-12 hours daily, including coaching of various subjects. A student of Brajindra College, she aspires to join the IAS.


Elementary teachers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 3
Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, Punjab, today warned the Punjab Government that if it failed in issuing an advertisement with regard to regular recruitment of 6,000 unemployed elementary teachers, the members of the union would observe fast in front of the residences of the Punjab Cabinet ministers on July 9 and 10.

This decision was taken at a protest rally of the union held in a marriage palace here today. In the rally, unemployed elementary teachers and their parents from Sangrur, Patiala, Bathinda, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mansa and Ludhiana districts participated. The protesters also took out a protest march through the town to lodge their protest against the government.

There was great resentment among the unemployed elementary teachers against the government for not implementing the Bhattal committee recommendations and not issuing an advertisement to recruit about 6,000 elementary teachers on regular basis so far.

Leaders of the union criticised the Punjab Government for not starting the recruitment process to appoint elementary teachers on regular basis.


College team for UK festival
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 3
A nineteen- member ‘gidha’ and ‘Bhangra’ team of Sri Guru Angad Dev College , Khadoor Sahib, is leaving for the UK to take part in the International Musical Festival .

Dr Balwinder Singh Saroya, Principal, and Dr Daljit Singh Khehra, will accompany the teams. The Principal of the college told this correspondent yesterday that the teams include 12 members of the ‘Bhangra’ team and seven girls are of the ‘Gidha’ team.

The Principal further informed that the festival was being organised at Langgollen in North Wales (UK). A total of 60 teams from all over the world are participating.

Baba Sewa Singh Karsewawale, president of the college managing committee, said that the British High Commissioner had given visas to all members of the teams.

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