P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rs 1,000 crore Central grant for border roads sought
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
While the Punjab Government has sought additional funds to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore from the Government of India for the development and maintenance of strategically important roads in the border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur, very little is being done for roads elsewhere in the state.

Roads and bridges, including state highways, throughout Punjab are in a shambles.

Punjab made the demand for the special central grant at the National Development Council meeting held in Delhi last week. It was revealed at the meeting that Punjab had one of the longest international borders — approximately 553 km — with Pakistan and a nearly 20,000 km-long road network in the border areas. This network was often used for the movement of defence vehicles and Army exercises. The maintenance of these roads was, however, the responsibility of the state.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) maintains 20,000 km of “defence roads” in the country while in Punjab its role was limited to less than 1 per cent of the roads used by the defence forces. The state is keen on having more roads under the BRO for maintenance as it does not have enough money to keep its road network good shape.

Other than in the three border districts, state and other important roads in places like Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda and Sangrur are in a poor state. For example, the Ludhiana-Sangrur stretch is a classic case of neglect by the Department of Public Works (Roads and Buildings). Work on the repair and reinforcement of the road was proposed to be started before the monsoon.

The condition of a major portion of Guru Gobind Singh Marg is no better. Though the Punjab Government had taken pride in organising centennial functions during the past three years, a little attention was paid to this road, which was made during the tenure of Giani Zail Singh’s Congress government in the state.

The stretch of Guru Gobind Singh Marg running along the Doraha canal is in a shambles. Driving on it is a nightmare. At places the road has caved in because of heavy discharges in the canal.

Similarly, the condition of roads from Balachaur to Hoshiarpur, Hoshiarpur to Mukerian, Dasuya and Talwara is deplorable. Some portions of these roads have become “killer stretches” where fatal accidents are routine.

Other roads, including the Samrala-Sahnewal, Sahnewal-Dehlon, Ludhiana-Moga, Kohara-Macchiwara and Macchiwara-Samrala, are also in a state of neglect.

The vigorous start to the monsoon has aggravated the problem. The accumulation of rain water has rendered many of the damaged roads unfit for vehicular traffic. Amazingly, the demand for the release of the special grant has been made only for three border districts. The state Public Works Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, belongs to one of them, Gurdaspur.


PM to lay stone of institute on Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
The first governing body meeting of the National Institute of Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the foundation of which is scheduled to be laid by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, here today unanimously decided to request the Ministry of Human Resources and Development and the UGC to enhance the budget of the Institute.

Dr Manmohan Singh during his last visit here on the occasion of the 400th installation of Guru Granth Sahib had announced the grant of Rs 24 crore from the Central Government for creating infrastructural facilities for the institute.

A sub-committee comprising Mr M.P. Singh, Education Secretary, Punjab, Dr K. Gunasekaran, UGC Joint Secretary, and the Joint Secretary, Higher Education, HRD Ministry, has been formed for the development and enhancement of the budget for the Institute.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GND University, informed that the Prime Minister, besides laying the foundation stone of the institute at the university’s campus, would also inaugurate an international seminar on “global Perspectives of Sri Guru Granth Sahib” to be held in the last week of August.

The Vice-Chancellor said two major projects of preparing an authentic translation of Guru Granth Sahib in English and the selected verses of various Gurus and bhaktas with explanations in Punjabi, English and other Indian and foreign languages were also approved of in the meeting. It would be published in 10 volumes.


Issue of Indians in Pak jail taken up with PM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
The SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has taken up the case of Indians languishing in Pakistan’s Kot Laqpat jail with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Foreign Minister Natwar Singh.

She has sought help for the early release of 62 Indians who had served more than two years in prison there despite the expiry of their sentences.

The jailed youths had written to the SGPC President in this regard.

They said even as there was free interaction between bureaucrats, diplomats and politicians of both countries, no one had paid attention to them. Describing their plight they said they collected money to post letters by washing clothes of other prisoners, besides cleaning shoes.


Unemployed teachers gherao govt teacher taking tuitions
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur (Gurdaspur), July 9
Unemployed qualified teachers today launched an agitation against government teachers taking private tuition. They gheraoed a house in temporary MES quarters where a local government teacher was taking tuitions.

They went to a house and started raising slogans against a teacher who was allegedly taking tuitions in the house. A woman came out of the house and told them that her son, who was not a school teacher, was taking tuitions in the house. They, however, insisted that the motor bike of the teacher was parked outside the house.

When the agitating teachers did not relent the teacher came out and tried to snatch the camera of a photographer. However, in face of the stiff resistance from them he fled house on his motor bike.

Mr Sunil Singh, an unemployed qualified teacher who spearheaded the agitation called that government teachers of the area were forcing students to take tuitions from them. They threaten students with failure in examinations or practicals if the students did not take tuitions from them. This was hitting the meager-earning of the qualified unemployed teachers.

Complaints were made against government teachers taking private tuitions to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, and SDM, Pathankot. However, no action was taken. So, the unemployed teachers of the area had decided to take their fight to the places where government teachers were taking tuitions.

The Unemployed Youth Organisation of Sujanpur in coordination with the B.Ed. Unemployed Teachers Union of Gurdaspur has now decided intensify their campaign against government teachers taking private tuitions in the entire district.

They would soon launch an agitation against private schools denying minimum wages to the qualified teachers. Most of the private schools in the district pay paltry Salary ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 1500 per month. Whereas the government has fixed a minimum wage of Rs 2200 even for a simple labourer.


Unemployed teachers protest outside minister’s residence
Our Correspondent

Activists of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union protest outside the residence of state Finance Minister Surinder Singla in Bathinda
Activists of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union protest outside the residence of state Finance Minister Surinder Singla in Bathinda on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, July 9
Activists of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union have started two days hunger strike here today in front of the residence of State Finance Minister Surinder Singla. The protesters were demanding regular appointment of 6,000 ETT teachers.

Hundreds of unemployed ETT teachers took out a protest march which culminated at Mr Singla’s residence where they were not allowed to set up a tent by the already deployed police personnel there. Finally the protesters managed fixed their tent and about 30 teachers went on regular fast.

While addressing the teachers, Mr Jagsir Singh Sahota, vice-president of the union, said despite the fact that Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had submitted a report to the Chief Minister on June 10 in which she had recommended the regular appointment of 12,000 ETT teachers, but nothing had been done so far.


ETT youth hold protest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 9
Members of the ETT Union held a demonstration here today as a part of their state-wide hunger strike.

The youth gathered outside the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall and raised slogans against the state government. Having removed their shirts, the rallyists carried placards and banners as they moved towards the residence of Mr Avtar Henry, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies.

The protesters were initially stopped by the police from moving towards the ministers’ residence but later they were told that the minister was not at his residence. They were allowed to sit a little away from his house.

The protesters raised slogans against Capt Amarinder Singh and other state ministers. They lambasted the government for not filling the posts of teachers on a regular basis in government schools.

They said thousands of trained youth across the state were sitting idle even as the need for regular teachers was being felt in many schools.


Elementary teachers resent decision
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
A meeting of the Elementary Teachers Union (ETU) was held here today to discuss the issue of assigning duties to primary teachers for non-teaching work, thereby affecting academic work in schools. The union warned the government it would hold a protest on July 11 if their demand was not met.

In a press note, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, president, ETU, said Education Secretary Tejinder Kaur had issued instructions making it clear that the services of teachers would not be used for non-teaching work. But now the government had decided put teachers on survey duty.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh said this decision meant that teaching work in the nearly 200 schools of this district would virtually come to a standstill for three days. He said the teachers were asked to work on surveys without issuing them written orders.


Elementary teachers begin chain fast
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
The Unemployed Elementary Teachers unions commenced a two-day chain fast today outside the residence of Cabinet Minister Lal Singh against the non-fulfilment of their long pending demands. There was a strong security arrangement by the police to avoid any untoward incident.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Dinesh Rishi, vice-president, Diet Students Welfare Association, urged the state government to implement the report of the Bhattal Committee after rectifying the anomalies. Proper advertisements should be placed for the recruitment of employees on a regular basis, he added.

Mr Kushwinder Singh Brar, president, Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, Mansa, said though Mr Lal Singh assured them on October 9, last year that elementary teachers would be recruited on a regular basis but so far nothing had been done in this regard.

Tight security was in place and even anti-riot vehicles could be seen along with mounted police. Sources said, these arrangements were made in view of the January 29 incident when the protesters turned violent in front of the Chief Minister’s residence.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the local unit of the Anti Privatisation Teachers Front (APTF), was held.

It was decided to hold a dharna on July 11 in front of the District Education Office. Mr Sukwinder Singh Mohali, president APTF, said the decision to privatise schools should be quashed and all vacant posts should be filled on regular basis.


Ghaggar threat persists; govt silent on Samra’s whereabouts
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The Ghaggar is still flowing near the danger mark at Khanuri, on the boundary of Sangrur district, but the water level in the Tangri and the Markanda in the Patiala region dropped markedly this afternoon.

The Ghaggar, which rose at a number of places near Khanuri creating panic among inhabitants along its course, especially in villages like Mandavi, was flowing at a level of 748 ft, slightly below the danager mark, at 7 p.m. today. It has came down by 3 ft during the past 24 hours. Officials say that its level will come down further tonight.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has reiterated that the Revenue Department is fully prepared to tackle the “ imminent threat of floods” in the state. What is interesting in the statement issued today in this connection by the state government, through its Public Relations Department, is the explanation given about the Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra.

The statement said that Mr Samra, and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, were both keeping themselves apprised of the situation. However, the statement was silent regarding the whereabouts of Mr Samra. It did not throw any light on where Mr Samra was at the moment.

Has Mr Samra visited any area where the Ghaggar has overflowed during the past 48 hours? The statement was silent on this. Obviously, the statement has been given in the light of the story published on July 8 in The Tribune. Can a minister keep watch on a flood-like situation in the state while sitting in Canada or the USA? This is a question which only Mr Samra or the government can answer.

A telephone attendant at the residence of Mr Samra had told The Tribune on July 6 that Mr Samra was abroad and would return on July 20 after visiting Canada and the USA. The announcement of relief for flood-affected areas is the job of the Revenue Minister.

The statement said that Mr Samra had directed the officers concerned to check the flood-protection measures in the state before the onset of the monsoon in this region. But what is worth noting is that Mr Samra is away when the threat of floods is looming large in Punjab.

The government statement further said that Rs 12 lakh had been made available for the repair and maintenance of boats at various places. Besides, Rs 4.50 crore had been released to provide emergency relief, where required.


Gangsters keeping exporters away from African countries
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 9
Unchecked organised crime, proliferation of gangs of criminals and lack of security in almost all African countries has made it difficult for exporters and business houses of Punjab to carry on their business with such countries mainly for the fear of loosing money.

Though a number of African countries are known to have been unsafe for over 20 years due to the presence of organised gangs, but the situation get worse during the past two years with Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya, Nairobi and other East African countries topping the list of criminal-infested countries.

The situation has come to such a pass, according to industry sources, that exporters, businessmen or their executives deputed for collection of money could hardly venture alone even in cities like Johansburg, Durban, Capetown, due to the fear of attack by gangsters.

“ Venturing out for any Indian businessman on his own could be inviting death if he or she was doing it before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. or if one is not accompanied by some local trusted person in cities like New Castle, Campala in Uganda, Malawi. Collection of payment is an uphill task,” said Mr A.K. Kohli, senior vice-president of the Punjab Chamber of Small Exporters, and chairman of Phagwara-based Bawa Industries Private Limited, which exports diesel engines to African countries.

A large number of businessmen, particularly from Punjab are bulk exporters of tractor parts, bi-cycle parts, and other industrial and agricultural equipment to countries of the African sub-continent and some of the business houses are having offices in these countries.

Mr Sanjiv Manga, export executive of a Phagwara-based industrial house, was thrashed by gangsters when he went to South Africa for collection of payment. “Fortunately, I had no money at that time. Though the government of those countries cooperate, but the civil administration and sometimes Indian Embassies does not extend a helping hand there,” he said.

Exporters maintain that though by and large getting payments are still not a big problem for them in these countries, except for Nigeria and some parts of South Africa, but the situation is changing with the deteriorating law and order, mainly on account of influx of criminal elements from Angola and Nigeria. The future of exports in African countries. They might not be as safe as it had been in the past when export to these countries was treated as a safe bet.

Mr S.R. Ralhan, chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council (North Zone) is of the view that it is a matter of concern that crime rate has gone up in the whole world, but what has started happening in African countries is worrisome.


INTACH takes Qila Mubarak case to British Indians
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Despite terror attacks in London, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)’s much awaited “Patiala evening” is on at the Nehru Cultural Centre on July 11.

Conceived in association with the Punjab Government, the event aims at evincing the interest of British Indians, especially Punjabis, in cultural preservation back home. Punjab’s Minister for Culture, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, and MP from Patiala, Ms Preneet Kaur, are also attending the function.

To begin with, the focus of INTACH would be on generation of funds for restructuring of the fort — Patiala’s richest historic monument. In fact, INTACH is planning to set up a conservation laboratory in the complex of the fort.

It will feature the archival and historic material recovered from the fort. The aim is to convert the fort into a vibrant cultural complex with museums, galleries, art and craft centres and platforms for live performances.

But the effort will require a huge corpus of funds. Sources in INTACH tell, “This is the first time that we are making an institutionalised effort to tap Non-Resident Indians from Punjab. Many groups of Indians in London are supporting the cause of preservation in different parts of India. We have the Jaisalmer-in Jeopardy society which provides a financial backing for the restoration of Jaisamler Fort. But we don’t have any support coming from Punjabis. We hope to get some this time.”

The highlight of the function will be Qila Mubarak, which was placed in the world’s endangered monuments list last year. Although enlisted with the World Monument Fund (WMF), the monument requires continuous flow of funds for a decade if it is to be restored to its past glory.

As of now, INTACH has received Rs 2 crore from WMF and Rs 2 crore from the Punjab Government for restoration work in the fort. “But this money is not enough. Conservation costs are shooting up and sustainability has to be ensured.


1 held for harbouring Hawara
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 9
The district police claims to have arrested a man for harbouring of Jagtar Singh Hawara. After escape from the Burail jail, Hawara along with Paramjit Singh Bheora, Jagtar Singh Tara and Devi Singh reportedly stayed at the residence of this man for four days. The police has recovered a pistol from him.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, told The Tribune that the police had got information that Hawara and his accomplice had regularly visited the residence of one Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Lakhanpur village in Khamano subdivision of the district.

He said the SHO, Khamano, during a naka on the night of July 7, had caught Gurmeet Singh after a chase. A pistol was recovered from him.

The SSP said during interrogation he had revealed that he was introduced to Hawara by one Jarnail Singh Tunda, a resident of Ucha Jattana, a hardcore terrorist. Hawara had been a regular visitor to his house and after escape, he along with other escapees, had stayed with him for four days.

He also revealed that a month ago Hawara had stayed with him for two nights along with accomplices. The SSP said Gurmeet would arrange for ammunition and money for Hawara. A case has been registered.


BJP leader questions foreign trips of MLAs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
State BJP vice-president Laxmi Kanta Chawla today criticised the state government for sanctioning foreign trips of MLAs and other political leaders at a time when the state was reeling under financial crunch.

In a press release issued here, Ms Kanta said many residents in the state were even deprived of potable water and other civic amenities. She alleged that the government failed to launch welfare schemes, including old age, widow and handicap pensions.

Ms Kanta said nearly 35,000 pensioners were awaiting the much-promised help to live a life of dignity.

However, the government was thinking it prudent to spend huge amounts for pleasure trips of the MLAs and politicians while claims of being cash-strapped for development projects remained the standard excuse for non-performance, she alleged.


Probe govt’s role in rekindling terrorism: BJP
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
The state BJP President and MP from Hoshiarpur, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, in a memorandum submitted to the Punjab Governor, has sought probe into three events — the Delhi bomb blast case, Capt Amarinder Singh’s presence at a Khalistan sympathisers’ function in a gurdwara in Canada and the arrest of a human bomb in Punjab — to trace the role of the Punjab Government in creating terror in the region .

While addressing mediapersons after attending a local function here last night, Mr Khanna said, "There was obvious ground to suspect the involvement of the Punjab Government to create fear among the people of Punjab about militancy and thereafter to claim credit by arresting the persons involved in terrorist activities here,” he added.

Criticising the CM, Mr Khanna said Capt Amarinder Singh’s statement that he was not answerable to anyone except his government and the Centre regarding his visit to a gurdwara in Canada, was unconstitutional.

The CM was elected by the people so he is answerable to them, he said.

Commenting on the terrorist attack in Ayodhya, he said it was the failure of the Central Government to make appropriate security arrangement there.

He said the BJP was firm on its stand to build Ram temple on the disputed site.


11 SAD workers join Congress
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 9
Eleven SAD activists of Sunnra Rajputan village joined the Congress at a meeting held in the presence of the local MLA and Punjab Agro Foods Limited Chairman, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, at his residence here today.

Mr Mann welcomed the workers into the partyfold. These included village sarpanch Kuldip Singh, panches Jatinder Kaur, Bakhshish Kaur, Balbir Singh, Des Raj and Joginder Pal, and workers Pakhar Ram, Jathedar Banta Singh, Tejinder Singh, Bhagat Ram and Niranjan Pal.


Village in shock over jawan’s death
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

(Kurali )Ropar, July 9
Villagers of Bhagomajra, the native village of Naib Subedar Avtar Singh, was in a state of shock after news that he had died while fighting with terrorists near Poonch district reached here. His family members living in the village situated in Kurali sub-division came to know about Avtar’s death late this evening when they received a phone call from Army personnel.

The village witnessed a great rush of people from all over the district to condole the family members of the martyr. The body of Naib Subedar Avtar Singh is expected to reach here tomorrow. He is survived by his old parents, wife and a 14-year-old son.

“Avtar Singh had joined the Army 18 years ago in the 13 Sikh Regiment after doing Class X. He was patriotic and determined to give his best to the country. I told him to take retirement when he had completed 15 years in the Army, but he refused. He said it was not a job for him but he was doing service to the country’ said Randhir Singh, father of Avtar Singh.

The incident was a great shock for Avtar’s family as one brother of his had died years ago and another was mentally retarded.

“Avtar had spent his holidays with us in May and promised to return in July. He told me that he would return after becoming a senior official. I wanted to see my son as officer,” said Balwant Kaur, mother of Avtar.

Randhir Kaur, widow of Avtar Singh, could not control her tears. “Avtar Singh came here during holidays in May and advised me to take care of his parents, she said.

Thirty four-year-old Naib Subedar Avtar Singh was among the four soldiers who had laid down their lives while fighting with Pakistani infiltrators near the LoC in the Balakote on Friday.


Army adopts three handicapped children
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 9
The Sehjra Brigade of the Army has adopted three handicapped children belonging to villages situated along the Indo-Pakistan border with a promise to providing them free education and other facilities till Class XII.

In a ceremony held today on the banks of the Sutlej, the Army adopted Jinder Singh of Gatti Rajoke village, Kewal Singh of Chandiwala village and Jaswinder Singh of Hazara Singhwala. Kewal Singh , studying in nursery, lost a leg in a mine blast while Jinder and Jaswinder, students of Class IV, are polio affected. The Army also gave them crutches and tricycles along with stipend.

Brig S.K. Khajuria, Commander, Sehjra Brigade, said it was the first step of its kind under “ sena- awam mel milap” programme initiated by the Army under Operation Sangam.

He announced a grant of Rs 5,000 each for village schools along the border falling under the area of responsibility of the brigade.

More than 400 school children from the border area resolved to preserve the integrity and honour of the nation. Students of Government School, Gatti Rajoke, presented a skit showing the ill effects of drug abuse.

Army commandos performed “ Malkham”.

The nambardar of Hazara Singhwala, on behalf of border village sarpanches, expressed his gratitude towards the Army.


Army team returns after scaling MT Gangotri
Our Correspondent

Major-Gen A.S. Lamba, GOC, Sudershan Chakra Division, welcomes members of the expedition team
Major-Gen A.S. Lamba, GOC, Sudershan Chakra Division, welcomes members of the expedition team. — Photo by Raj Sadosh

Abohar, July 9
Two officers and 16 jawans of the Army were warmly received at the flagging in ceremony today on completing an expedition launched under the aegis of Sudershan Chakra Division to scale Mount Gangotri. Mt. Gangotri, a 6,672 metre high peak, is one of the daunting challenges for mountaineers.

The expedition comprised mainly young mountaineers who participated in such a venture for the first time. The team having trained in Garhwal Himalayas launched its first assault on the peak on June 22.

Expedition leader Capt Samrat Sengupta along with eight jawans, after grueling climb of eight hours, managed to scale the summit from Camp II on the same day.

Under extreme wind conditions of 160 – 170 kmph, the second team, commanded by deputy team leader Captain T.N.S. Tomar, managed to scale the peak on June 24.

Interestingly, the team leader Captain Sengupta had presented the ice axe to Lt-Gen O.P. Nandrajog, AVSM, VSM, GOC, Chetak Corps, bearing the national, army and formation flags at the flagging off ceremony on June 6.

Major-Gen A.S. Lamba, GOC, Sudershan Chakra Division, while welcoming the team at the flagging in ceremony held this morning, highlighted the importance of such expeditions in fostering camaraderie, adventure spirit, and risk taking ability, besides bring forth mental and physical courage amongst all ranks of the Armed Forces. General Lamba said this achievement would be marked as a red letter day in the annals of Sudershan Chakra Division and would be an inspiration to others.

The team leader narrated the nuances of preparation, training and conduct of the expedition. He said despite inclement weather and tough terrain, including crevices and avalanches, the team overcame all odds due to high-level of training and motivation.

Lt-General Nandrajog in his address complimented the team and the Sudershan Chakra Division. He said scaling of peaks demanded a very high level of mental and physical robustness along with unwavering grit and determination. Being himself a keen sportsman and adventure enthusiast, he shared his experiences with the audience.


Jawan killed in encounter
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 9
Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh (27) of Bihla Khurd village, 20 km from here, died in the wee hours yesterday in an encounter with foreign merceneries in the Poonch area of Jammu and Kashmir. He will be cremated with military honours tomorrow.

He is survived by a three-year-old son and a wife.

His proud father, Gian Singh, said with moist eyes that Kuldeep had joined 13 Sikh Regiment around eight years ago and during this period, most of the time he had been posted in Jammu and Kashmir .


Were 35 cows being sent to UP for slaughter?
Our Correspondent

Cows seized by activists of some Hindu organisations and the police in Rajpura when these were allegedly being transported to Uttar Pradesh from Khanna Mandi
Cows seized by activists of some Hindu organisations and the police in Rajpura when these were allegedly being transported to Uttar Pradesh from Khanna Mandi on Friday night.
— Photo by J.S. Virdi

Rajpura, July 9
Activists of certain Hindu organisations, along with the local police seized 35 cows, including milch cattle and calves, here late last night.

The animals were allegedly being transported to Uttar Pradesh and other states for slaughtering by three transporters in two separate canters from Khanna Mandi when the activists stopped the vehicles at the Gagan Chowk, here and seized the animals.

According to sources, following a tip-off about the transportation of over 100 cows from Khanna Mandi to Muzaffarnagar the activists of the Gau Raksha Dal, Khanna, informed their fellows in Bassi Pathana, Rajpura and neighbouring townships. The activists laid nakas at various exit points on all roads from Khanna Mandi.

While the activists managed to stop two canters (HR-38A-7927 and DL-1GB-2563) loaded with cows at the Gagan Chowk, other six canters could not be traced.

Mr Satish Kumar, president of the local unit of the Gau Raksha Seva Dal, informed that the canters were followed from the Khanna Mandi. When they reached the chowk, they were signalled to stop but they tried to flee. However, the occupants of the vehicles were overpowered by the activists after a brief resistance, he added.

Mr Rakesh Jindal, president of the Khanna unit of the dal, alleged that the illegal transportation of cows for slaughtering was rampant in the state and the state government was turning a blind eye to this menace. He urged the Punjab Government to intervene in the matter.

The local DSP, Mr Manmohan Sharma, said three persons, Adarsh Kumar, alias Pappu, Aslam and Amjad, all residents of Muzaffarnagar, had been arrested under them the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Cow Slaughter Act. The police has started investigating the matter.

It may be recalled that over 350 bulls were seized when they were about to be loaded into a train at Ghaggar Railway Station in Mubarikpur village near Dera Bassi last year.


Decision upsets octroi staff
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
While the decision of he state government to abolish octroi duty could bring smiles on the faces of the businessmen and could prove to be a boon for them, it may well turn out to be a bane for the nearly 6,000 octroi staff of various MC across the state.

In a press note, Mr Joginder Singh Panchi, general secretary, Octroi Workers Union, said though the government was regularly issuing statements regarding abolishing of octroi, it was silent on the future of the octroi staff.

He said the decision would give the state a big jolt as Rs 700 crore of octroi was collected in the state annually and this might lead to a financial mess.

Mr Joginder Singh said as the government normally spent money earned from octroi on development of towns and if the decision was implemented, it would stall development projects in cities.

He said that more and more loans taken by local bodies would ultimately be recovered from residents by imposition of various taxes.

He said this decision, if made, would be for political gains alone.


PSHRC members sulking
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
Some members of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) are sulking. After getting a rap on their knuckles from the Punjab and Haryana High Court for transgressing their powers and passing orders that they were not competent to, these members have started adopting a confrontationist attitude.

Complainants coming from far off places are being told that the PSHRC cannot decide their cases as the “High Court has tied our hands”.

Interestingly, one of the members has even told some lawyers that the PSHRC will “get back its powers” from the Supreme Court. The PSHRC has already moved the Supreme Court challenging the orders of a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in some cases. The High Court had held that the Commission had only recommendatory powers and could not give directions.

A Division Bench headed by Mr Justice H.S. Bedi had also issued contempt notice to PSHRC member B.C. Rajput for “not only clearly transgressing the power vested in the Commission” but also “showing utter disregard to the directions” passed by the High Court.

Mr Rajput, who is on leave for three weeks, is said to be contemplating moving the Supreme Court to challenge the contempt notice. He is also scheduled to go abroad.

When The Tribune asked Mr R.C. Nayyar, Secretary, PSHRC, about Mr Rajput’s future course of action, he denied any knowledge of the same.

“I am not aware of any such thing. I was also on leave and have just joined,” he said.

But, will the PSHRC extend support, financial or otherwise, to Mr Rajput against the High Court order? “We have not decided so far. The Government policy in such matters is clear. If an officer gets stuck in the courts in connection with some order passed by him in good faith, then the government supports him. However, if the order is later found to have been the result of mala fide, the money can be recovered from him,” stated Mr Nayyar.

But, sources in the PSHRC say that some members have opposed any kind confrontation with the High Court. Mr Rajput was also recently advised against approaching the Supreme Court directly.

Following the High Court orders, all of which put the PSHRC in a bad light, one member is even said to have told his staff that he would “rather resign than work in such a manner”. It remains to be seen if he carries out his threat.

Commenting on the state of affairs in the PSHRC, a leading lawyer observed that it is time the PSHRC started doing things the right way. “It has become defunct. After the order passed in the Jatt Ram case, majority of the cases are being dismissed on the ground that the PSHRC has no powers to deal with them. The clash of egos has brought the working of the PSHRC to a standstill. The people are feeling hapless. Where will they go?” asks lawyer and human rights activist Ranjan Lakhanpal.


District library in a state of neglect
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
The basic purpose of setting up a district library in Ropar city has lost its meaning due to lack of service available there. The library was in a state of neglect and drew only a few members. It lacks up-to-date books and other literature, complaints the members of the library.

The library was set-up in 1993 to make an excellent resource of knowledge for the students and residents of the district. But the library proved to be useless as it did not get appropriate funds from the Punjab to improve its services and any other government agency.

Every year the library get books from Raja Ram Mohan Roy foundation in Calcutta and from Punjab government. But as per the requirements provided are not the appropriate books.

At present the library has 35,000 books of various subjects which are lying unnoticed due to lack of awareness among the people. There are total 34,00 members of library since it came to existence. But due to the poor conditions of the library very few make use of it.

A visit to library reveals the real state of official neglect as the wild grass has grown all over the building lack of cleanliness by the employees. Many parts of the library are badly damaged and also required renovation. The members complain that the library even does not even have proper supply of water and fans are not functioning.

When contacted, Mr Ravi Kant, the librarian said that he had joined two months back and have changed many things since then. He said he has been spreading awareness among the people about use of library and added many new members. He said recently he had made efforts to attract students of rural areas to become members of library.

He said there was no membership fee and they charge only charge Rs 30 as security amount and only Rs 10 from the employees. He said he had written to PWD department about the maintenance of the library.


Governor inaugurates park
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 9
Mr Bal Ram Jakhar, Governor, Madhya Pradesh, today inaugurated Jaycee Park developed by a Chandigarh-based industrialist, Mr Jagdish Chander Nagpal, and his brother, Mr Krishan Nagpal, in the memory of their father Shankar Dass Nagpal on the Abohar–Malout road here. The park was specially designed for citizens to practise yoga and meditation.

The Governor visited his home town for the second time after taking over the office. He arrived at Air Force station at Bathinda and drove to native Panjkosi village along with his family members.

Mr Jakhar visited houses of a few Congress workers, including Mr Tulsi Ram, president of the Municipal Council. He was received among others by Mr Jiwan Parkash Vij, general secretary of the city Congress Committee.


Workshop on phulkari craft
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 9
A workshop relating to phulkari craft, being organised by the Patiala Handcraft Handlom Workshop Cooperative Society (PHHWCS), was inaugurated at the Rajala village, near here today. The project is aimed at developing the enterpreneurship among rural women in an attempt to make them self-employed.

Ms Rekha Mann, president of the PHHWCS, said the rural enterpreneurship programme was being sponsored under the scheme of NABARD and this programme included a six-week workshop which would not only develop the skills of the rural women but also enable them to setup their own enterprises. She said this year they got 46 applications out of which 25 were selected.

Today’s programme was inaugurated by Mr J.P.S. Bindra, District Development Manager, NABARD.


Goyal inspects Civil Hospital
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 9
Dr G.L. Goyal, Director, Health Services, Punjab, inspected the local Civil Hospital here today.

According to information available, Dr Goyal checked the attendance of the staff and the working of the hospital. He was satisfied with the way the hospital was being run.

The Director interacted with the staff and patients. Dr Rajiv Bhalla, officiating SMO in charge of the hospital, told Dr Goyal that hospital functioning was disrupted during power cuts imposed by the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Even though the hospital had three generator sets, these could be run only in times of emergency as the hospital did not have separate funds for purchase of fuel.

Dr Goyal, however, assured that he would take up the matter of the installation of the power hotline with the authorities concerned so that the hospital was able to get uninterrupted power supply.


Demand to set up radio station
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 9
While welcoming the government move to install 330 new FM radio stations in 90 cities, the Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) today urged the Information and Broadcasting Minister to install an FM radio station in the holy city keeping in view its historical and religious value.

In a press release, Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala and Mr Amrit Lal Manon, president and general secretary of the AVM, respectively, said installation of the radio station would provide an opportunity to the citizens for the development of the city and connect the masses with the local authorities more effectively.


Rs 80.15 lakh for flood control
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
A sum of Rs 80.15 lakh had been issued for flood control works on sensitive points of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers.

Mr Swarn Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar division, while chairing a meeting held to take stock of flood control measures being adopted in the district, said Rs 17 lakh had been earmarked for de-silting of drains.


Brahm installed Rotary president
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 9
Brahm Kumar Sood and Harjit Singh were president and secretary of the Rotary Club, Ropar, respectively, at a ceremony here this evening. Prabhjit Singh, Gurpreet Mathur, B.S Satyal, Narinder Bhola were installed as directors while Vivek Chanana and M.S. Saini were installed as treasurer and sergeant-at-arms, respectively.

The MP from Hoshiarpur and state BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, was the chief guest of the function. The district governor, Dhian Chand, was the guest of honour.


Punjab farmers’ renewed interest in Bt cotton
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana: A record level of productivity of cotton in Punjab during the last crop season coupled with the availability of much publicised Bt cotton created overwhelming curiosity among cultivators in Punjab.

The State Government, scientists of Punjab Agricultural University and officials of the State Agriculture Department made all-out efforts to capitalise on the renewed interest of Punjab farmers to intensify the cultivation of cotton during the current crop season.

According to Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, the most crucial and sensitive issue is about the role of Bt cotton at this stage of revival of cotton in the state. The farmers are generally inclined to and unusually impressed with the potential of Bt cotton to earn heavy profits from the cultivation of Bt cotton. Despite many unusual procedural problems, six Bt cotton hybrids were approved for cultivation in the state.

A preliminary survey has revealed that cotton has been sown in about six lakh hectares (15 lakh acres) out of which about three fourth-over 10 lakh acres have been sown under Bt cotton. It is estimated that about 1.20 lakh packets of Bt cotton enough for sowing 1.20 lakh acres have been sold in Punjab alone.

Dr G.S. Chahal, Senior Cotton Breeder and Dean, College of Agriculture of PAU, maintains that the biggest threat to the success of Bt cotton is not from biosafety point of view but it lies in chances of failure to come upto the heightened expectations of the farmers. The biggest challenge to Bt cotton in North India and particularly Punjab is from the sale of spurious Bt cotton and over-expectation of farmers about its ability to control the insect pests of cotton.

Dr Chahal points out that the opponents of not ony Bt cotton but even all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) must have their own reservations about the real success and extent of risks of such a technology on account of its unnatural creation through union of different types of organisations. But it cannot be denied that protagonists of transgenic crops have established a scientifically harsh regulatory procedure to ensure all aspects of biosafety and ecological disturbances.

Dr Chahal says that the state government and PAU have accepted the ad hoc clearance of these Bt cotton hybrids under very emotionally surcharged demand of cotton growers for Bt cotton and to minimise the extent of unregulated sale of spurious Bt cotton in the state.

He says that the cotton growers must know that Bt cotton is not a no-spray cotton and is the only choice for the success of cotton in Punjab because it can help to reduce the use of poisonous pesticides and also reduce the cost of cultivation. The current level of scientific knowledge does not support any adverse effect of Bt cotton on human life.


Clash in Civil Hospital leaves one dead
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 9
Panic gripped the local Civil Hospital late last night with two groups engaging in a violent clash in the emergency ward of the hospital. A person was shot dead and three others, including a woman, were injured.

According to police sources, Balbir Singh and Lakhbir Singh of Gurusar Sainewala village were disposing rain water from their fields yesterday when Nar Singh and Balwinder Singh of the same village armed with .12 bore rifle threatened them saying they wanted to avenge their brother’s death. They started firing in which Balbir got injured and he was admitted to the hospital after informing the Sangat police station.

In the meantime, the other group brought Nar Singh’s mother Jasvir Kaur to the emergency ward with a bullet injury, which they alleged that Balbir and his aides shot at her.

While she was being brought to the ward, Balbir allegedly attacked Nar Singh who also fired in defence. While Nar Singh died on the spot, Balbir and Malkit got injured. Windowpanes of the ward were broken and almirahs kept there had bullet marks and blood splattered over them.

Eyewitnesses said about 12 to 15 bullets were fired and the people there were terrorised. They said patients and doctors hid behind almirahs and under beds to save themselves. Sources said both groups had disputes since 1997 when Nar Singh’s elder brother was murdered and recently in panchayat elections.

Meanwhile, the Sangat police has arrested Balwinder and the Kotwali police has arrested Balbir and Malkit and recovered two .12 bore rifles from their possessions. The police has also recovered Nar Singh’s rifle.


ASI ‘forcibly’ takes Rs 26,000 from chemist; suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
A large number of chemists along with other shopkeepers today protested against Assistant Sub-Inspector Surinder Pal Singh, posted at the Kotwali police station, for allegedly forcibly taking out money from the locker of a chemist shop at Katra Sher Singh inside the walled city here.

The activists protested outside the Hall Gate area due to which traffic remained suspended for several hours.

Mr Rakesh Kaushal, SP, Headquarters, said the ASI was suspended with immediate effect. He added that an inquiry had been marked to DSP Rashpal Singh Ghuman, who would submit his report within a few days.

Mr Avtar Singh, president, Amritsar Chemist Association, alleged that the ASI forcibly took out Rs 26,000 from the locker of Ramesh Chander Sharma’s shop. He alleged that the ASI raided the shop on the pretext of searching for intoxicants.


Bodies of woman, daughters found from Sidhwan canal
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala/Ludhiana, July 9
Three badly-decomposed bodies of a middle-aged woman and her two teenaged daughters, who had been reported to be missing for two weeks, were retrieved from inside a car in Sidhwan Canal today morning. It was, however, unclear whether the three had committed suicide or had met with an accident or had been murdered.

The woman, Jagjit Kaur, alias Neelam, wife of a cycle parts manufacturer Harminder Singh, and daughter of a Patiala-based retired DSP Joginder Singh Chowdhry had been missing since June 26 evening. She lived in house No 12-L, Dugri road here. Her two daughters 18-year-old Jaspreet Kaur and 14-year-old Navtej Kaur were with her. All three were found dead in the vehicle.

The car, a Maruti Zen (No PB-10 AZ-1777) was spotted by some passers- by near South City bank of the canal. The condition of the bodies suggested that the three had drowned on June 26 evening only.

The car became visible when water-level of the canal receded today after flowing at highest level for more than three weeks as per the rotation system of the Irrigation Department.

The woman had left the house on June 26 evening saying she was to go to a gurdwara. She took her two daughters but left behind her 10-year-old son. When she did not return till late night, her husband lodged a missing report with the Model Town police. The family had been looking for them at several places since then.

The police was working on various theories while mainly stressing that the three could have ended their lives in a suicide pact. The reasons of taking such an extreme step, however, remained unknown. Jagjit Kaur’s husband, in-laws and her parents were badly shaken on getting the news of the recovery of the bodies. The police said they were not in position to give any statement.

SP (City) R.K. Jaiswal and DSP R K Bakshi said the manner in which the bodies had been found suggested that the three victims did not make much effort to save themselves. This had strengthened the suicide theory. There was also a possibility that they could have been murdered and then the vehicle was rolled into the canal.

The bodies have been sent to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala for post-mortem examination as facilities for the examination of such bodies are available there only, the police said.

Mr Jaiswal said 18-year-old Jaspreet was found on the driving seat while the body of her sister was found on the front seat. Their mother was found in a sitting position in the back seat.

Harminder Singh, husband of the deceased woman, was crying bitterly at the banks of the canal after identifying the bodies. The condition of Balwinder Singh, brother of Neelam, was also pitiable.

However, Baljit Kaur, mother-in-law of the woman, while talking to a couple of mediapersons at the victim’s house said Neelam was short-tempered. ‘‘She used to get angry very fast’’ she said. Baljit Kaur said she knows nothing about the reasons behind her disappearance and alleged suicide, ‘‘I and my husband live on the first floor of the house while my son, Harminder, and his family live on the ground floor. We have a separate kitchen’’ she said.


Fake passport: 5 booked
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 9
The District police has booked five persons, including a former ASI of Dhilwan police station, for allegedly getting a fake passport made for a resident.

Ravinderjit, a resident of Raipur Arayian of Dhilwan, had reportedly gone to Canada in 2001 on the basis of a fake passport. Having settled there, he destroyed his old passport. But when he wanted to come back now, he asked his father, Mukhtiar Singh, to get a new passport prepared.

When Ravinderjit came back, the airport authorities found that the stamp on his certificate for emigrating was missing. The authorities checked up the matter with the Regional Passport Officer who asked the police to inquire into the case.

On the basis of police investigation, Ravinderjit, Mukhtiar Singh, Davinder Singh, a police officer, Bhan Singh, a numbardar, and Bhupinder Singh, a former sarpanch, were booked under Section 420.


NRI booked for assaulting wife
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 9
Surjit Singh, an NRI of Kaire village, allegedly assaulted his second wife Rajwinder Kaur with an axe at his house yesterday. She was taken to the Civil Hospital Dasuya from where she was referred to the DMC Ludhiana. The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 323, 324 and 120-B of the IPC against Surjit Singh, his accomplices, his ex-wife Kulwinder Kaur, father-in-law Avtar Singh and sister Satwinder Kaur.

According to police sources, Surjit Singh had a daughter from Kulwinder Kaur whom he had divorced. In 1997, he married Rajwinder Kaur and has a daughter from her. He had reportedly developed strain relations with her due to the transfer of land. On the intervention of friends and relatives, a compromise had taken place. He then left for Germany where he was working.

On July 7, he came to India to get the land transferred in the favour of his 11-year-old daughter from his former wife. The land was in the name of Rajwinder Kaur. When she came to know about it, she and her uncle rushed to Dasuya where Surjit Singh was present. On seeing her, he left the tehsil but when she went to the house, he assaulted her with an axe.


School bus driver crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 9
While a big tragedy was averted as schoolchildren were taken out safely from a school bus that tilted into a field, the driver, Bahar Ali of Mehandpur village, was killed on the spot, near Hiyatpur Rurki village yesterday.

According to information, the mini bus skid on the road and its rear wheels sunk into a field. Mr Bhupinder Singh, who runs a school, took over the wheel and asked Bahar Ali to clear the soil around the rear wheels. In the process, the bus overturned and he was crushed to death.


Petrol station looted
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 9
Robbers today struck at Wala filling station, situated on the Kalanor-Batala road, and took away Rs 50,000 at gun point. According to sources four persons in a red Esteem car came to the petrol pump at about 3 p.m. They took out a gun and directed the staff to hand over the cash.

The workers informed the police immediately about the robbery. Though the police set up nakas on all the roads leading out of Gurdaspur, no arrest had been made till the filing of this report.


NRI scientist inaugurates student centre
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 9
Renowned NRI scientist Dr Krishan Kant Joshi, president, UES, Dayton, USA, inaugurated the Student Centre at Swami Permanand Mahavidyalaya, Mukerian, yesterday.

The centre was built at the cost of Rs 40 lakh out of which Rs 14 lakh were donated by Dr Joshi in the memory of Dr Diwan Chand Joshi and Ram Piari Joshi.

Accompanied by rotarian Ramesh Joshi from Bestern Mouth, USA, Dr Joshi was given a warm welcome by the Managing Committee, students, staff and the Principal of SPN College.

In his welcome address, Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma, Principal of the college, highlighted various cultural and academic achievements of the college. He said given the basic infrastructural facilities, the students could achieve all possible heights in their respective fields.

In his keynote address, Dr Joshi dwelt at length on various aspects of the education system in the USA and in India. He said general education improved the quality of life, but technical education brought prosperity.

Academic community must find out ways and means to relate curriculum to the ground realities of life by establishing linkages with the industry. He said students must be made self-dependent and that would be possible only when we provide vocational and technical education to them.


Students facing admission problems
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 9
A section of students seeking admission to B.Sc (part-I) at the local Government Rajindra College are a disappointed lot as they have not been admitted by the authorities concerned as they had dropped a year or two after their 10 plus two.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that only the fresh batch of students of 10 plus two were being given admission to B.Sc (part-I) while the students, who dropped one year or two, to clear competitive medical and engineering exams, were being denied the same.

Though the affected students have secured more marks than the fresh batch of students, they were not being admitted. The convention that in case two students secure equal marks, the one senior in age would get preference over the other was also not being followed by the authorities concerned in this case.

A section of students, who claimed they had been victimised by the college authorities, while talking to this correspondent, pointed out that they had been left with no other option but to take admission in private colleges by paying hefty admission and tuition fees.

They demanded that the higher education authorities should intervene.

When contacted, Mr Baljit Singh Mann, vice-principal, Government Rajindra College, admitted that the fresh batch of students of 10 plus two was being given preference over the students with a gap of one year or two.


Medical institute admission test on July 13
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 9
Entrance examination for MBBS and BDS courses for candidates belonging to the Sikh community would be held on July 13 at Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical and Dental Sciences and Research at Vallah.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director-cum-Principal, stated in a press statement here today that the examination would comprise of tests in physics, chemistry, botany and zoology of 50 marks each on the lines of PMET.

Admit cards have been dispatched to around 900 eligible candidates, it stated.

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