P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



If Babbars had so much RDX, why didn’t they strike?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Was it a war of succession within the organisation or the lack of motivation that prevented well-equipped and trained Babbars from striking in Punjab ?

If the confessions made by arrested Babbars during interrogation by both the Delhi and Punjab police in the past few weeks are any indication, perhaps both reasons made this organisation resort to a wait-and-watch policy in Punjab.

Sources reveal that the Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr S.S. Virk, and the Commissioner of Delhi police, Dr K.K. Paul, had a meeting a few days ago where they exchanged notes on progress in various cases pending against members of the Babbar Khalsa International.

The Punjab police has also set up a special investigating team (SIT) under the Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Mr J.P. Virdi, to track down the remaining activists of the organisation, including Bheora and Tara.

Interestingly, the confessions made by the arrested Babbars, both before the Punjab and Delhi police, are more or less on the same lines.

Some of the new recruits, who were responsible for blasts in cinema houses in Delhi, had confessed their involvement in some cases of robbery and dacoity in the Union Capital also. Intriguingly, they wanted protection, especially from a dreaded militant organisation, for carrying out their activities.

“They probably lacked motivation also,” revealed a senior police officer maintaining that with the amount of RDX and weaponry they had, apart from the training some members of the gang had undergone in Pakistan, they could have wreaked havoc in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

The arrested Babbars also confessed that there was a war of succession in the organisation. They felt that the Pakistan-based leadership of the Babbar Khalsa was behind the arrest of Jagtar Singh Hawara. “Only Wadhawa Singh Babbar was aware of the movements of Hawara and Raja,” they told the police.

The sources in the police reveal that both Wadhawa Singh and Paramjit Singh Panjwad of the Khalistan Commando Force were into the real-estate business in Pakistan. Wadhawa Singh, now in his 60s, they maintain, was not keeping good health. He is suspected to be suffering from epilepsy. Hawara, after escaping from the Burail jail, had been busy reorganising the unit.

Based on the confessions made by the Babbars, police officials feel convinced that there were disagreements between Hawara and Wadhawa Singh on the mode of new recruitment, training and supply of equipment. Hawara, they reveal, had become ambitious and wanted to replace Wadhawa Singh as the head.

After Sukhdev Singh Babbar was killed in 1992, the responsibility of leading the organisation was left to Wadhawa Singh because of his background as an activist in the Naxalite movement. It was because of the style of working of Wadhawa Singh that Mahil Singh Babbar, another senior member of the organisation, left Pakistan and settled in France.

While the SIT claims of making satisfactory progress in the tracking down of the remaining activists of the Babbar Khalsa, a major breakthrough may come only after the Punjab police gets custody of Hawara.


Akali panchayat members join Congress
Tribune News Service

Qadian (Gurdaspur), July 8
The PWD Department has proposed a special scheme for improving linkage to the villages of martyrs. Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD, Culture and Archives stated this here today.

He said under the scheme families of martyrs would be requested to move applications through their panchayats for the improvement of existing roads or laying new roads to their villages. Special grant would be provided on priority to strengthen the existing roads and lay new roads to the villages of the martyrs. Welcome gates would also be constructed on the newly-laid roads to commemorate the martyrs.

The proposal of the scheme would be presented before the Cabinet for approval.

Punjab had the highest number of martyrs who had laid their lives defending the borders of the country or fighting terrorism. The scheme is mark of respect for the martyrs and their families, Mr Bajwa said.

Mr Bajwa was here to attend a function organised to welcome the SAD workers who joined the Congress today. At the function at Balagan village the SAD panchayat led by the village sarpanch Raghubir Singh joined the Congress. On the occasion Mr Bajwa announced a grant of Rs 20 lakh for the construction of road around the village.

Speaking on the occasion he said that die-hard SAD villages were joining the Congress in the district. Earlier it was hard for the Congress even to set up a polling booth in Balagan village. However, after assessing his performance vis-ŕ-vis SAD candidate from the area the entire panchayat of the village had opted to join the Congress.

Besides the said panchayat many staunch Akalis were likely to join the Congress soon in the area. The SAD workers joining the Congress just one and half years left for new elections showed that people were coming out of the Panth’s fold. The Akalis leaders have been befooling the rural masses on Panthic issues. However, now the people have become more aware.

The government has decided to give free power to marginal farmers and 100 units of free electricity to economically weaker sections. The scheme would be implemented by the middle of August, he said.


Police stations, govt offices submerged
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Policemen shift records from a submerged room at the Civil Lines police station following incessant rain in Bathinda on Friday.
Policemen shift records from a submerged room at the Civil Lines police station following incessant rain in Bathinda on Friday. — Photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, July 8
Incessant rain across the Malwa region has submerged various police stations and government offices and paralysed normal life here.

The Civil Lines police station was the worst hit in the city with water entering its store where case records and recoveries were kept. The police station got submerged despite being at a height. Similarly, water seeped into the Deputy Commissioner’s residence, the IGP’s office, residences of a few judges, the court complex, the Red Cross office and the Income Tax office.

Rain claimed a life with the death of a person in roof collapse near the cremation ground.

The deceased was identified as 38-year-old Mohan Singh.

A newly constructed road at Chandsar Basti on the Bibiwala road was washed away.

The DC visited the spot and asked the Police Department to book the road contractor for the substandard work.

A poultry owner, Rajinder Singh, suffered a setback as 450 out of his 650 chickens died at his inundated home. The MC has been asked to immediately bury the chickens.

According to sources, the City (I) police station in Moga got inundated following a heavy shower that continued throughout the day yesterday. Sources said 2 to 3 feet of water had accumulated on the police station premises, forcing policemen to wade through water to get in.

Sources said a number of residents, who had come to pay their power bills, were spotted standing in water at the Punjab State Electricity Board office at Nanak Nagri.

In Muktsar too, the City police station got inundated, as it was located in a low-lying area. Sources said areas surrounding the SSP office and the Market Committee office were submerged. The residents had a tough time fetching essential commodities as the grain market and vegetable market were flooded.

Sources said the drinking water supply was affected in the city and people were apprehensive of mixing of sewerage water with drinking water.

There were reports of cotton and paddy crop being submerged in various villages of the district due to non-cleanliness of drains. Sources said some of the drains had not been cleaned for the past four years. These villages include Lohara, Chautra, Kakhawali, Wanwala, Agniya, Tapakheda and Panjawa in Lambi block. The situation is worst in Kakhawali where paddy crop spread over 250 acres of land has been submerged in four-foot water.

Meanwhile, continuous rains have the cotton farmers in the Sadik area of Faridkot worried as more rain could spell disaster for their crop. Some of these villages are Gujjar, Kauni and Gulamiala.

On the other hand, Agriculture Department officials in Mansa said they had not received details of losses to the cotton crop, if there are any. They said the rainfall recorded till now could not harm the cotton crop much in the district. 


95 villages on Sutlej’s bank declared sensitive
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 8
While flood threat is looming on residents of villages along Sutlej, as many as 69 villages have been identified as ultra-sensitive and 95 as sensitive in Nakodar, Shahkot and Phillaur sub-divisions by the Jalandhar district administration.

Meanwhile, alerted over impending threat of floods, the district administration has been keeping an eye on the situation and was busy undertaking flood prevention arrangements.

A 90-kilometre-long stretch of Sutlej passes through Jalandhar district and three sub-divisions of Phillaur, Nakodar and Shahkot faces the maximum threat of floods in case water level rise in Sutlej.

“We are leaving no stone unturned to save people and property of villages situated on banks of Sutlej. Special attention is being given to those villages which are being treated as ultra-sensitive and sensitive. Cement and sand bags have been stocked in all flood-prone areas along Sutlej. Similarly, stocks of stones and wire mesh, used for making bundhs, have been dispatched to such places. ‘Thikri pehras’ are also being ensured to safeguard bundhs and other places along the river and seasonal rivulets,” said Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner.

As many as five Flood control rooms have been set up in Jalandhar district, which, would be manned by administration’s officials round the clock. 


Water recedes in tributaries of Ravi
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 8
Flood water in tributaries of the Ravi receded today as it came down to about 45,000 cusecs against the 2,55,000 cusecs recorded yesterday.

Sources here attributed the flash flood in the area to heavy rainfall in the catchments area of the Ujh river entering Punjab from Kathua.

Though the district administration had deputed its officials to gauge the loss, no information regarding the loss of life or property was received till the filing of this report. The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, supervised the flood-control measures along the Beas. Fortyfive villages along the Beas and the Ravi had been declared sensitive and 24-hour vigil had been ordered along these areas.

The sources said water had receded from the fields along the border. The maximum damage had been caused to maize crop. 


Nine breaches inundate crop over 1,500 acres
Tribune News Service

A view of a submerged field in Mari village after a breach in the Kotla branch on Friday.
A view of a submerged field in Mari village after a breach in the Kotla branch on Friday. — Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, July 8
A 50-foot breach in the Kotla branch today submerged about 300 acres of cotton and paddy crop at Mari and Jodhpur Pakhar villages of the Talwandi Sabo block. Overall, nine breaches were reported in the district and crop spread over 1,500 acres has been inundated in three to four feet of water.

According to sources, the breach developed in the already flooded Kotla branch near Mari village in the wee hours today. Villagers sought aid from nearby villages to plug the breach. Following this, a large number of villagers from Maur Charat Singh, Jatri, Lelewala, Mansa Kalan, Jodhpur Pakhar and Talwandi Sabo, rushed to the canal and after about 10 hours of work, they succeeded in plugging it.

Talwandi Sabo DSP Jaspal Singh and SHO Balbir Singh Grewal also reached the spot.

Cotton and paddy crop at Mari and Jodhpur Pakhar village spread over hundreds of acres was destroyed at the fields were water-logged. SGPC member Gurtej Singh Jodhpur said about 350 acres of crop had been destroyed.

Sources said when the waters reached the houses, villagers got on top of tractor-trailers with their valuables. About 2,000 sand bags were used to plug the breach.

Cotton farmers are apprehensive that if the water remained in the fields even for a day, the crop would be destroyed. Bant Singh of Mari village who had sown cotton on three acres, said he was hoping to reap a good harvest this time but the breach had washed away everything.

A group of farmers from the affected villages said a number of motors had also got burnt due to flooding.

Paddy growers say that waterlogging just after the sowing of paddy would be harmful for the crop.

A report of 8-10 foot breach in a minor near Maur Charat Singh village has also been received. Another breach was reported in Tapali minor near Dayalpura Mirja falling under the Phool block.

The Executive Engineer, Mr Sukhdev Singh, said it seemed to be a “mischievous cut” as the canal’s banks were strong.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, said of the nine breaches reported in the district, seven had already been plugged rest would be done by night.

Regarding the compensation to farmers, he said the administration was sending the case to the government but the compensation could only be determined once the water level receded. He said it rained 110 mm in Bathinda in the last 24 hours and it could have caused the breach. He said he had also requested the Commissioner to take up the matter of Mansa farmers reportedly pumping their water in the canal with the Mansa district administration.


Rain brings relief to farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Moderate to heavy rainfall in the region has provided relief to farmers. After a gap of some years, the region has witnessed the arrival of a vigorous monsoon.

It has also provided relief to the Punjab State Electricity Board, which was spending over Rs 10 crore daily to meet the demand for power in the state. The demand for power has gone down drastically.

Agricultural experts and farmers say that the rain is good for all kharif crops. Though certain rivers had overflowed, the damage 
to crops was insignificant so far.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said the monsoon entered the region at the right time. “We are happy that the entire state has been covered by it,” he added. The Bathinda belt, which had not had rain earlier, got moderate to heavy rainfall yesterday, he added.

He said about 22 lakh hectares had been covered under paddy so far. By the middle of July, about 1.75 lakh hectares more would be covered under this crop. He was expecting paddy transplantation on 23.75 lakh hectares this year. He said 5.75 lakh hectares had been covered under the cotton crop, which was in good shape so far.

About 1.50 lakh hectares would be covered under maize. Pulses had been sown on about 23,000 hectares and oilseeds on 7,000 hectares. More area was expected to be covered under oilseeds and pulses.

The weather office says that during the past one week, the maximum rainfall — 144.5 mm — was recorded in Ropar district. It was followed by Nanwanshahr, where 129.5 mm of rainfall was recorded. Patiala had 84.6 mm of rainfall. Ferozepore district figured among the districts where the rainfall was above 75 mm during the period.

Meanwhile, officials said that water had started receding in most of the rivers, choes and nadis in the state. The water in the Ghaggar crossed the 751-foot mark today at Khanuri. It was almost 2 ft above the danger level. However, as the rain stopped in most parts of the region today, its level is expected to come down by early tomorrow. The water level in the Tangri came down from 13 ft to 9 ft and in Badi Nadi from 5 ft to 4.5 ft in Patiala.

Meanwhile, reacting to the story filed by The Tribune today that the state government had not released adequate funds to put flood-protection measures in place and provide relief to the affected persons, the government said that the flood-protection machinery had been geared up.

Mr Lal Singh, Irrigation Minister, said the government had released Rs 2 crore to the Irrigation Department for taking immediate measures to tackle the flood-like situation in the state. A sum of Rs 4.5 crore had been put at the disposal of the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, for distributions among the Deputy Commissioners.

The Minister said Rs 8.93 crore had already been released for the year 
2005-06 to all districts in connection with various relief programmes run by the government.

Besides, Rs 3.90 crore had been released for the cleaning and maintenance of drains and Rs 16.19 crore for carrying out various flood river protection works. He said Rs. 3.50 crore had also been released for flood-protection projects started with the help of the Union Government.


Get us freed, jailed Pakistanis to Pervez
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
About 60 Pakistan citizens lodged in Amritsar Jail even after the expiry of their terms have allegedly become mental wrecks with the Pakistan government turning a deaf ear to their pitiable plight.

Mohd Ali, lodged in the jail, has made these claims in a heart-rending letter to his father, Mr Noor Ahmed, in Chak Shah Mohi village in Okara district of Pakistan Punjab about his sad tale of woes. The ‘letter of hope’ seeks intervention of President Parvez Musharraf and human rights activists in India.

The letter gives details about the worsening mental health of many prisoners and the continuous apathy of the Pak government towards their condition. Mr Avinash Chander, Deputy Superintendent of the jail corroborated the claims, “The Indian Government has sent their cases to the Pakistan government several times but they had not responded positively’’ he said.

Mohd Ali has urged his father to make an earnest appeal to Pervez Musharraf for their release, besides taking up the matter with the human rights organisation in India.

His father contacted the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) based at Ludhiana. Mr D S Gill, President of IHRO, said they would take up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister, the Union Home Department, besides writing to the Pakistan government about the prisoners repatriation.


Release wrongly detained persons: rights forum
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Punjab Rights Forum, a group of human rights bodies and associations, today demanded that wrongly detained persons be released from jails while a probe be conducted to find out how many unaccounted weapons and ammunition were lying with the Punjab Police officials.

The forum presented a detailed memorandum in this regard to the Punjab Governor General S.F. Rodrigues (retd) here today. Members of the forum expressed concern over the “gross and systematic abuse of human rights” of political activists.

The forum alleged that the detention of Mr Simranjit Singh president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), was wrong and the Punjab Police made attempts to interrogate him while he was in judicial custody. A search of his house in Fatehgarh Sahib was carried out. The judicial remand of Mr Mann had been extended without his appearing in court, it added.

Besides, all those who had been illegally detained, their names, places of detention and charges against them were being deliberately kept a secret. The police had created a “climate of fear”. Innocent persons were being taken into custody to create scare. Incriminating evidence was being planted in order to show proximity to Jagtar Singh Hawara or his associates, the forum alleged.

The forum expressed its determination to construct a memorial as respect to those killed at the Golden Temple and also in 37 gurdwaras in 1984.

Criticising the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the memorandum said the state government had maintained silence when the VHP “belittled” the Sikhs by saying “ Sikhs were a part of Hindus.”

Notable among the signatories to the memorandum were Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a former MP, Mr D.S. Gill of the International Human Rights Organisation, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee and Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal of the Bharti Kisan Union. 


‘Politics dominated by land mafia’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 8
Exhorting people to rise against their nearly 60-year-long “exploitation” by the two major political parties of Punjab, the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), headed by former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, today cautioned them that over 95 per cent of Punjab’s politics had been usurped by land mafia, drug peddlers, smugglers and anti-social elements and common people were devoid of any say in any of the two political parties.

The LBP has urged people of Punjab, particularly, weaker sections and the downtrodden to throw their weight behind the LBP to enable it to be a third force in the state and if they wanted an end to their miseries created by prolonged misgovernance and corruption.

Meanwhile, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia was re-elected unanimously national president of the LBP by delegates, who, had come from different parts of the region.

On this occasion, Mr Ramoowalia also issued an open letter for Punjabis, which, depicted, some harsh realities of current socio-political and economic scenario of Punjab.

Mr Ramoowalia has also indicated that his party could form a third front in Punjab.


More stringent clauses added to Mann’s FIR
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 8
The Majitha police today added more stringent clauses in the FIR registered against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar on the basis of his alleged “confessional speech” that he had supplied firearms to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale during his tenure as SSP Faridkot.

Mr Mann was arrested from Sangrur district for raising the demand of “Khalistan” at Damdami Taksal on June 12 to mark the first “shaheedi samaroh” of Bhindranwale.

The district police chief Majitha, Ms Vibhu Raj, said Mr Mann had been booked under various clauses of the IPC for calling the public to wage war against the Indian state and its Constitution while addressing a congregation at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash. However, on the basis of a report submitted by Mr Ashwani Kumar, DSP (Baba Bakala), after scrutinising the “inflammatory speech”, it was established beyond doubt that Mr Mann had confessed that he had been giving firearms to Bhindranwale.

Interestingly, the Majitha police, in its press note had stated the programme held at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash as “shaheedi samagam”.

The new clauses added in the FIR included Sections 121, 122, and 123 of the IPC. Cases of sedition have also been registered.


Allegations against Bibi baseless: secretary
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Mr Harjit Singh, additional secretary, SGPC, and personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, today refuted allegations of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) that Bibi Jagir Kaur had written to the Central Government to arrest Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A). He appealed to SAD (A) to restrain from issuing such statements.

In a statement issued here today, he said Bibi had never violated the Sikh Maryada. He said the allegations made by some “individuals” were ignored by people. He said these people were hurting the Sikhism by issuing such statements. He said the SGPC had never and would not tolerate the interference of the government in the Sikh religious affair.

In a memorandum to Jathedar, Mr Ram, Singh, SAD (A) general secretary, had demanded to summon Bibi Jagir Kaur in Akal Takht for requesting the Central Government to arrest Mr Mann and other Panthic leader for allegedly delivering provocating speech during “Ghallukara divas” (genocide day) on June 6. He had alleged that instead of approaching the Akal Takht, SGPC chief had sought the intervention of the Central Government.


High Court
Woman slaps husband in court, taken in police custody
Our High Court  Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 8
In a bizarre incident, a woman today slapped her estranged husband in a courtroom of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. At the time of the incident, the court was in session.

The woman, Ms Vijay Bharti of Hoshiarpur, had filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court, seeking the release of her minor child from the alleged illegal custody of her husband.

The petitioner has been living separately from her husband and has alleged that her husband had kidnapped their child.

Today, her husband and as well as the child were present in the court for the hearing.

When her case came up for hearing, she was standing behind her lawyer. Her husband was also standing nearby. Suddenly, she delivered a resounding slap to her husband. While the provocation for the step was not known, her mother, who was also present in the court, was heard saying that her daughter's husband had kicked her, leading to the reaction from her.

Mr Justice Uma Nath Singh, in whose court the incident took place, ordered that the woman be sent to custody and a criminal contempt of court proceedings be initiated against her. The Judge said what the woman had done was very serious as it concerned the dignity of the court. He said he could not overlook it.

Seeking pardon for the woman, her counsel told the court that she was under tremendous pressure and had been subjected to mental and physical torture by her husband. He also stated that she had small children to take care of all by herself.

But the Judge did not relent. The matter was then referred to the Chief Justice for appropriate orders. A team of the Chandigarh Police, called to the court, later took custody of the woman.


Activist moves NHRC against harassment by cops
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The wife of Mr Amrik Singh, who is fighting the cause of hundreds of persons who disappeared mysteriously after being allegedly picked up by the police during the days of terrorism in Punjab, has moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against alleged harassment by cops.

Mr Amrik Singh is the Programme Coordinator of the Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab (CCDP) and the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Punjab. He is in Canada since September 2004. The CCDP has filed over 1,500 claim petitions in the NHRC on the behalf of families of those who went missing during the days of terrorism.

In her complaint filed through advocate Parminder Singh Grewal, counsel for the CCDP, Ms Satnam Kaur has alleged that Punjab Police personnel, many of them in plain clothes, have been visiting their house as also that of her husband's brother and issuing them threats. While Ms Satnam Kaur resides in a rented accommodation in Jalandhar, Mr Amrik Singh's elder brother Paramjit lives in Muktsar with his family.

The complaint claims that on May 26, two plainclothes policemen came to their house in Urban Estate, Jalandhar, and enquired about the whereabouts of Mr Amrik Singh. On being informed that he had gone to Canada, the cops asked her to give a copy of her husband's passport. When the same was not given, as it was not available, they allegedly threatened her of dire consequences. The complaint further adds that Mr Amrik Singh's wife shifted to Muktsar to escape continuous police pressure and harassment. On May 23, some cops visited Mr Paramjit Singh's house in Muktsar and enquired about Mr Amrik Singh. They also allegedly threatened the womenfolk present in the house at that time. The cops visited Mr Paramjit's house again on June 24 and July 4. They also allegedly told the family that they had concrete information that Mr Amrik Singh was in India and had been seen in Jalandhar a few days ago.

The complaint is likely to be taken up next week.


Nature and amusement park coming up
Gayatri Rajwade

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Talwara in Hoshiarpur may not conjure up images of a swanky tourist locale but it may well turn into a new ‘hot spot’ of the region —courtesy a 60-acre nature and amusement park being developed by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) on the Talwara-Mukerian highway. What makes this project so remarkable is not the plan in itself, but the fact that all attractions in the park have been developed from waste material, including driftwood retrieved from the Beas.

The development plan was the brainchild of Beas Dam Chief Engineer (retd) Narinder Sharma, who believes this project is “one of a kind” because it makes “functional use of fallow land in a purposeful way so as to be of benefit to the environment and attract people to visit.”

The land was developed to prevent encroachments and foraging and the inauguration of the scheme in August, 2003, was marked by planting over 12,000 saplings of fruit, teak, eucalyptus and bamboo trees and the laying down of five ‘panchvatis’ or groups of five quasi-religious trees as an auspicious beginning.

Another distinct feature of this project is the involvement of Nek Chand, celebrated creator of Rock Garden in Chandigarh. Nek Chand was brought on board by the efforts of Sharma and is thrilled with the way the project has shaped up. “Creating objects of art from material that is thrown away by households and factories and is not appreciated is the true challenge of creativity,” he said. Almost 40 to 50 pieces of the master creator are on display.

Each area, each attraction has been created with care and detail. Even the dug up mud has been reused on site to create hillocks and mounds, including a 30-foot hill which is accessible to the public and affords a panoramic view of the whole complex. The wondrous part of the displays are that each item has been made of used machines and spares, old rusted metal sheets, nuts and bolts, scrap and obsolete items, even wooden shacks which served as hutments on the original building site.

Cobbled stone walkways, 5 feet wide, run through the whole course and along the pathway are the various unusual ‘museums’ on display. The Driftwood Museum, another first for the region, has been developed from pieces picked up from the flowing Beas and retained in their original shapes.

The ‘engineering features’ exhibit the various activities during the construction of the dam, a working model of a substation, an old and used fuel tank for displaying the tunnelling and excavation operations and a model of the Beas Dam. Even the engineers have developed their own sculptures out of waste scrap material into a village scene enthralling even the stray visitor in the area.

“The children’s playground is complete with swings, slides and even a boat-shaped swing has been fashioned from wasted scrap. A deep wet sand beach just for tiny tots to scamper around has also been developed,” says a visibly proud Sharma.


PAU experts for probe into cancer deaths
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 8
The Punjab Agricultural University authorities have suggested to the state government to undertake indepth study of the causes of cancer deaths in some villages of Punjab and not to jump to the conclusion that these were caused due to the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

In a report, the university has observed that a preliminary study conducted by PAU found no substantial accumulation of pesticide residue in samples of crops, drinking water and soil collected from cancer-affected villages. It must not be overlooked that a preconceived notion of pesticides being the cause of cancer-induced deaths may leave the real cause of this health problem to remain untraced.

The recent studies conducted mostly in West Bengal and Bangladesh have indicated that high concentration of arsenic in drinking water induces cancer. It is estimated that over 300 million people might be at risk in India and Bangladesh compared with only 150 million as believed earlier. Drinking water from underground wells, hand pumps can become heavily contaminated in certain areas where the underground water is in contact with natural arsenic from minerals. This problem has already been reported to be serious in countries like Bangladesh, Taiwan, West Bengal and Bihar in India.

According to the report a preliminary study of selected samples of water of hand pumps, deep tubewells, waterworks and canal water of the two villages, from areas where large incidence of cancer has been reported showed a range of arsenic content which varied from 6 ppb to as high as 225 ppb. The water of waterworks at Malkana village canal water from Jajjal village had shown the lowest content of arsenic which varied from 6-8 ppb. On the other hand, the arsenic content in water from hand pumps of Jajjal and Gianna varied from 46 to 225 ppb. Most of the hand pumps contained arsenic content above the permissible limit of 50 ppb. Even the deep tubewell water contained arsenic content above the permissible limits.

The PAU experts feel that in the light of these observations, it seems quite likely that heavy metals like arsenic in drinking water used over the years might be the real cause of alleged cancer-induced deaths in Punjab.


Set up national body for gurdwaras, says Jaswant Maan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 8
Blasting the two-nation theory propounded by certain political outfits in the country, the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Jaswant Singh Maan, has urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to undo Partition of the united India as it could bring permanent peace and prosperity to South Asia.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Maan said though certain political outfits, including the BJP and the VHP, were attributing the two-nation theory to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, it was a fact that Jinnah did not favour partition of the country till 1937 and till he was made to form an opinion that the Muslim Leauge was not getting its due share of power on this side." There was no prolonged background or history of the two-nation- concept. So we should realise that India and Pakistan could become a big joint force and if Partition is undone as it has been done in some other countries then peace and prosperity would come automatically,” said Mr Maan.

Giving a new twist to the gurdwara politics, Mr Maan suggested that the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, under which the SGPC was formed, should be replaced by an all-India gurdwara act so that the Sikhs of other states could be included in the gurdwara management and there should not be a feeling of alienation among them.


Kalkat to get Cabinet Minister status
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Dr G. S. Kalkat, who has been appointed Chairman of the Farmers Commission, Punjab, will be given the status of Cabinet Minister. He will get Rs 40,000 as salary per month. A notification regarding the terms of reference of the commission has been issued by the state government.

The commission will be allocated funds from the Rural Development Fund twice a year. The accounts of the commission will be audited annually by a chartered accountant.

According to the terms of reference of the commission, it will review the status of agriculture, allied sectors and rural infrastructure in the state and suggest measures for economically viable and ecologically sustainable agricultural development.

The commission has been authorised to devise its own functional and administrative procedures. It has been allowed to engage consultants and get studies conducted on various issues.


CPM protests against Indo-US defence pact
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Activists of CPM protested against the signing of a 10-year defence pact with the USA, outside Hall Gate here today. They were carrying placards with slogans against the government move.

Raising slogans against the United Progressive Alliance government, Mr Vijay Mishra, state member of the CPM, said that the protest was part of the nationwide call given by his party. He felt that the UPA government had broken the long governed foreign policy of India of remaining nonaligned by aligning with the USA. He stated that it would have serious repercussions in the long run. He said the defence pact was against the interests of the country.


Sandhu is chief of Services Club
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 8
Even as the papers of Dr A.L. Adlakha were cancelled on “flimsy grounds”, Mr Sarbjit Singh Sandhu has been declared re-elected as president of the Pre-British time Services Club by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO).

Earlier, Mr Tarlochan Singh had resigned as Returning Officer and the election of Mr Sandhu was announced by the ARO.


Welfare schemes transferred to panchayati bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Some welfare schemes run by the Punjab Social Security Department have been transferred to panchayati raj institutions (PRI) for implementation at the village level.

The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Lal Singh, said the schemes for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), old-age pension, widow pension, financial assistance to destitute women, dependent children, handicapped persons, the Balika Samridhi Yojna, concessional bus travel to women, the Janshree Bima Yojna, and the Kanya Jagriti Jyoti Scheme would now be implemented at various levels by the PRI’s .

Also, schemes related to the Department of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes — scholarships to SC category girls studying in primary classes, distribution of free textbooks and the provision of plots and grants for the construction of houses to Scheduled Castes living in the rural area — would also be implemented by the PRI’s.


EOs asked to prepare master plans
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 8
Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, presiding over a monthly meeting of district officials today, directed Executive Officers of all municipal councils in the district to prepare master plans as well as required development projects to get adequate funds.

She directed the EO, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, to submit a list of development works to be initiated as the government had sanctioned Rs 2.34 crore for works in the town. Till date only Rs 67 lakh had been spent.

She also directed proper disposal of rainwater and sullage, proper sanitation, maintenance of street and traffic lights and regular water supply. She directed all SDMs to constitute grievances committees at the subdivision level and to hold its monthly meetings.

She directed the XEN PWD to submit a list of roads to be repaired, or constructed.


Seven-year-old raped, accused at large
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
A seven-year-old girl hailing from Khachra village was raped by her neighbour last evening. The accused has absconded.

According to sources, the rape victim was playing outside her home when her 19-year-old neighbour Kukru misled her and took her to nearby fields. He then raped her, but when she started crying he fled.

The girl was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda, in a critical condition. She was referred to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, after conducting her medical examination.

The victim is a daughter of a migrant labourer. A case has been registered against the accused under Section 376 of the IPC.


ZP chairperson’s husband booked
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 8
Zila Parishad chairperson Bimal Kaur’s husband Mr Mehal Singh, his brother and another person have been booked for threatening a shopkeeper and trying to take over his plot.

According to the complainant, Rajiv Kumar, he owns a piece of land adjacent to his shop in Kot Ise Khan. He alleged that two-three days back Mr Mehal Singh, along with his brother Tehal Singh and another aide, came to him and threatened him and attempted to take over possession of his plot.

He accused them of beating him up when he resisted the bid. He was later admitted to a hospital.

On the basis of his statement, Mehal Singh, Tehal Singh and their aide, were booked under Sections 323, 325, 427 and 34 of the IPC.


Body  recovered

Kharar, July 8
The police today recovered the body of a youth from a canal near Ropar. The 22-year-old youth, Aman Prashar, had been missing from his residence in Swaraj Nagar, Kharar.

A petty shopkeeper, Aman had been reportedly missing since June 28, when he left home to make purchases for the shop. His scooter and belongings were recovered on June 29 from the Sirhind canal near Ghanoli village. His body surfaced last night in Sirhind canal near Grewal village in Ropar.

The police has started inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the IPC. The body was sent for a post-mortem to the Civil Hospital, Ropar, and it was declared that the death was caused due to drowning. — TNS


MBBS students complain of improper marking
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 8
MBBS students of the local Government Medical College have complained to the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences against improper marking and urged him to get their MBBS (Final) Professional- Part 2 examination paper re-checked.

In a written complaint to the Vice-Chancellor, the students claimed that due to improper marking, about 35 per cent of the students, mostly fresh one’s, had failed. They added that the questions of the Medicine and Surgery papers were too tough and were not of undergraduate standards. According to some students, questions were so tough that they later learnt that questions were of postgraduate level.

They also alleged that marking was very strict yet no grace marks were given.

Students also claimed earlier BDS students had alleged improper marking and they too had submitted a similar complaint to the Vice Chancellor.

However, the students said they were apprehensive that their pleas would be considered at all since the Vice-Chancellor of the university was on a leave and they were not able to get in touch with any senior functionary of the university.


Board’s mistake puts student in dilemma
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 8
The difference in the 8th standard result declared on the Internet and the detail marks card (DMC) has not only raised a question mark on the authenticity of the examination procedure of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), but also put a question mark on the future of a student.

The father of the student concerned, Mr Rampal, said his son, Lucky, (roll No. 213924), who appeared in the 8th standard exams, was shown to have passed on the Internet result. Even the gazette result was the same.

On that basis, his son was admitted to the 9th class at the local B.N. Khalsa Public School and even purchased new books and copies for his new class. Mr Rampal Singh said after 45 days of the declaration of the result, detailed marks cards were sent to the school and to much to his surprise, his son was shown to have failed.


2-day fast by ETT teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
Activists of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union will go on two-day fast in front of the residences of Cabinet ministers from tomorrow throughout the state in support of the regular appointment of 6,000 unemployed ETT teachers.

In a press note here today, Mr Jagsir Singh Sahota, vice-president of the union, said the “apathetic” attitude of the state government had forced them to launch a fast. He said the teachers of this constituency would observe fast in front of the residence of Mr Surinder Singla, State Finance Minister. He said it had been almost a year since the government had been making “false” promises regarding their regular appointment.

Parents of unemployed teachers would also observe the fast along with the teachers.


Counselling schedule for MBA/MCA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Counselling for all reserved categories for admission to the MBA/MCA five years integrated course being run by Guru Nanak Dev University will be held on July 13.

Dr Kashmir Singh, coordinator of the test, said in a press statement issued today that the counselling for the general category would be held on July 14 on the university premises here.


GND varsity results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
The results of the BA (Hons), English (Parts- I, II, III) and MA English (Part-II) examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University would be declared tomorrow.

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


Exporters assured of 4 per cent VAT
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 8
A delegation of exporters and industrial units led by Mr Gursharan Singh, president, Federation of Jalandhar Industrial and Traders Association, met a high-powered committee on VAT at Chandigarh today.

The committee, comprising the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Avtar Henry, Mr Sardul Singh, Mr Mukul Joshi and Mr S.C. Ralhan, listened to the grievances of exporters and assured them of suitable notification soon regarding VAT on agricultural diesel engine pump sets and its spares from 12.5 to 4 per cent.

When asked to comment on the rate of VAT to be calculated for filing first quarter VAT returns, Mr Mukul Joshi, Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation Department, said till an amended notification was issued, the present VAT rate would continue.

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