P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cotton belt turns into cancer belt
200 deaths in Gidderbaha segment
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, July 18
Though Jajal and Gayana villages of Bathinda have mostly hogged the limelight when it came to cancer deaths, a much bigger disaster seems to have gone unnoticed. Nearly 200 persons have died of cancer in Gidderbaha Assembly constituency in the past three-four months, while 50 are under treatment, according to a survey conducted by Gidderbaha MLA Manpreet Badal.

Mr Badal came out with this startling revelation while talking to The Tribune here today. What makes his survey credible is that he noted down names of the deceased when he went to their homes to mourn their deaths. Topping the list of cancer deaths is Kotbhai village where 28 persons have died in the past three months. Chhateana with 17 deaths and Bhaliana with 15 deaths were the next most affected villages. Other places reporting cancer deaths include Gidderbaha town - 13, Husnar village-13, Chotia - 7, and Kuraiwala - 6. These figures point out that cancer has spread from Jajal and Gayana villages of Bathinda to non-descript villages like Husnar and Chotia in Muktsar. The Tribune team toured villages and came across tales of cancer patients’ sufferings. An elderly man sitting under a tree in Chhateana village recollected 10 deaths caused due to cancer in the past few months, besides naming others under treatment. Cancer has dealt a severe jolt to the farming community already burdened with debt and rising cost of inputs. Jaskaran Singh, a small farmer of Chhateana, died of cancer after he sold off his one acre land out of two acres for his treatment. Today his wife and daughter take tuitions for a living. Sukhdev Singh of Bharu village has suffered a double blow, as he and his mother, Naseeb Kaur, are undergoing treatment for cancer. While he is bed-ridden for the past three years, his mother’s condition has improved in the past few months. He also sold half of his land to pay up for their medical expenses. Swami Das of Husnar village lost his father, Gurdas Ram, and uncle, Mithu Ram, to cancer and now his wife, Geeta Rani, battling the disease. Once owner of 22 acres of land, he is now left with only five acres owing to huge expenses on the in treatment of his family members. Gurbaksh Singh, a poor farmer of Jajal village in Bathinda, died without even seeking treatment for cancer.

Most of these villages were grappling with water crisis in terms of quality. While Chhateana’s waterworks didn’t have 24-hour power supply, waterworks at Husnar had no canal water supply. Surjit Singh of Fakarsar village said in such a scenario villagers were compelled to consume ground water which had high fluoride and selenium contents in some areas.

Gidderbaha MLA Manpreet Badal said he had also tried to raise the issue in the last session of Punjab Assembly, but the Speaker didn’t allow him to go ahead with it. He said the state government should take necessary measures to alleviate the sufferings of people of Gidderbaha. He said the government should depute experts for cancer treatment at civil hospitals of Gidderbaha, Muktsar, and Bathinda, besides providing necessary equipment and medicines for it. He said the state government should also drow up a strategy for preventive measures.

Muktsar CMO, Jagjeet Singh admitted that 27 cancer cases had been reported from Gidderbaha, while 130 cases had come to light from Doda block alone. However, he denied any knowledge of 200 cancer deaths in Gidderbaha Assembly constituency. Meanwhile, Bathinda CMO, H.S. Dhillon, said there were 657 cases of cancer in the district.

In the absence of a speciality hospital in the state, a majority of cancer patients prefer Bikaner in Rajasthan for treatment. This may be one of the reasons behind cancer deaths being not reported to the local authorities. Besides high treatment cost, each patient has to bear travel expenses which makes it an unaffordable affair for poor. They ultimately fall back on medical facilities available locally that are not enough to help them recuperate.


Agitation turns violent in Sriganganagar
12 cops, 45 farmers hurt in clashes
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 18
The police fired several rounds of tear gas shells and resorted to indiscriminate lathicharge at several places in Sriganganagar district, neighboring Abohar, today as miscreants reportedly pelted country made bombs on the law and order enforcing machinery, sources said.

During the call for ‘chakka jam’ given by the Kisan Beopari Majdoor Sanghrash Samiti today, the district administration had taken preventive measures including issuing prohibitory orders under Section 144, but the security set-up crumbled as the Samiti activists had spread in most of the subdivisional areas to make the agitation a success. They are demanding 58 per cent share in canal water for the border region. The Irrigation Department had partially amended the instructions carried in the letter dated August 3, 1983 vide a letter dated November 7, 1977.

Water allowance had been reduced from 5.23 cusecs per thousand acres to 3.5 and 3 cusecs on the first step in a phased manner. This had curtailed the area under canal irrigation in the region.

Sources said one dozen police personnel including a DSP and nearly 45 farmers, were injured in the clashes. Heavy rain forced the warring factions to adopt a ceasefire. Last year in December the Samiti had lost four farmers due to police firing in the first phase of the agitation after the agitators had retaliated by setting police stations and government offices on fire. The stalemate ended with the Samiti signing an agreement with the authorities but the farmers alleged that the government had backtracked from the same.

The police today rounded up 40 agitators as they were trying to block road traffic near Munda Shergarh and Chayia villages. Mr Het Ram Beniwal, former MLA, and senior Samiti activist was taken in custody along with more than 300 workers. The police virtually converted sensitive areas, including Gharsana, Rawla, Anoopgarh, Gajsinghpur, Jaitsar, Vijaynagar, Kesarisinghpur etc into a cantonment and the ‘chakka jam’ was successful there. Trouble started when a large number of farmers, carrying traditional weapons, moved towards Gharsana using tractor trailers at 11 a.m. The police intercepted them near 17MD but the latter had to succumb to mob frenzy. The mob staged a dharna at the canal bridge near new Gharsana market and jammed traffic.

Sources said the District Magistrate, Mr Kunji Lal Meena, and SP Saurabh Srivastva rushed to the bridge site with heavy enforcement of the Special Task Force immediately. They could not succeed in ending the jam. Meanwhile hundreds of farmers thronged the dharna site. The police resorted to lathicharge and then fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob. Former MLA Het Ram Beniwal was among those taken in custody. They were taken in a Gypsy to an unknown place. The mob got agitated and indulged in free-for-all for three hours. Some miscreants hurled country-made bombs on the police.

The District Magistrate said the agitators were prepared for a blood bath and alleged that they had adopted Naxalite tactics. A report received by the district authorities through wireless from Anoopgarh said DSP Nirmal Singh received head injury.


Rotten eatables: anganwadi in charges punished
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
The state government has punished two anganwadi in charges for speaking the truth regarding the supply of rotten eatables to their centres.

On the other hand, action was yet to be taken against the officials responsible for the supply of rotten eatables to anganwadis. The Social Security and Child Development Department today withdrew the work from Mehma Sawai Centre in charge Sarbjeet Kaur and Nehiawala centre in charge Darshana Kaur. The department has deputed Narinder Kaur at Nehiawala and another person at Mehma Sawai. The Anganwadi Workers Union has taken a strong notice of the matter. Last week The Tribune had reported that rotten eatables were supplied to both these centres. The department has punished both centre in charges for the news report.

Sources said Secretary of Child Welfare Council, Uma Ratra, during a recent visit to Bathinda, reportedly investigated as to how a packet of rotten eatables reached in hands of mediapersons. Department Director, S.R. Laddar, also held a meeting with the district department officials on rotten eatables’ issue, in which the officials said that eatables got spoiled due to rains.

Meanwhile, state chairperson of Anganwadi Workers Union, Hargobind Kaur, has called a meeting of anganwadi workers of the district tomorrow morning. She said they would announce a stir to demand the withdrawal of this “partial decision”. 


Live grenades found at railway station
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 18
The recovery of two live hand grenades from the Pathankot railway station today spread panic in the area. The hand grenades were first spotted by a sweeper in a drain near the window of the accounts clerk. The sweeper raised alarm and railway employees who had collected there to receive payments ran helter skelter.

The district administration informed the Army authorities about the recovery of hand grenades. Army men cordoned off the entire area and experts took stock of the situation. They, however, maintained that chances of the grenades exploding on their own were remote.

After some time the area where the grenades were lying was secured. At about 4 pm in the evening experts of the 107 Engineering Regiment defused the grenades by carrying out explosions under controlled conditions.

The grenades recovered belonged to the Indian Army. Sources revealed that the grenades were of HE-36 make. Police officials are of the view that the grenades might have fallen from a moving consignment of the Army.

The SSP Gurdaspur, Mr Pramod Bhan, when contacted said the theory was most probable from the circumstantial evidence. About the chances of grenades falling from a consignment of terrorists, he said. Terrorists generally did not carry huge consignments. Two grenades falling from their limited consignments might not have gone unnoticed, he said.

The other theories on which the investigating agencies are working include the probability of a jawan trying to steel grenades and sell them out to terrorists and someone dumping the grenades at the railway station for use at an opportune time.

The recovery of live grenades has once again brought to the fore the sensitive nature of the Pathankot railway station. A few years ago terrorists had managed to carry out explosions in Puja Express in which more than 10 persons lost their lives.

Keeping in view the sensitive nature of railway station, the railway police had installed a close circuit camera system. Personnel of the railway police were supposed to keep watch over the close circuit camera system for 24 hours.

However, today the room was found locked. The rooms generally remain locked and the close circuit camera system remains unutilised.


Pak friend keeps promise; gives DC glimpse of ancestral haveli
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
A major portion of an old haveli at Lalliany village (Kasur district in Pakistan), belonging to the ancestors of Mr Kirandip Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, has been found to be intact.

However, the historical quila located in the village near Pakistan border where Maharani Jinda and the British had signed a historical pact has disappeared. The Sikh sardars of the village had given shelter to great Sufis like Bulle Shah in the 17th century.

A parcel, full of surprises and pictures of the haveli alongwith description about it (in Persian script sent from Pakistan), sent by Lahore-based columnist of an Urdu daily has been received by Mr Kiranjit Singh Bhullar , here. The ancestors of Mr Bhullar, who had suffered the brunt of Partition had to migrate and settle in Patti. The columnist, Mr Akram Sheikh, also belongs to Lalliany village. This fact was revealed during his visit to India some time back.

Excited over the ‘unique gift’, Mr Bhullar sent copies of the pictures to his close relatives.

District Kasur was formed in 1976 by detaching Kasur and Chunian tehsils from Lahore district. Kasur is situated at a distance of about 55 kilometres towards south of Lahore on the Lahore-Ferozepore road. The district has Indian Territory towards south and east across the river Satluj, Lahore district towards north, Okara district on south-west and Sheikhupur district towards north-west.

Recalling the pre-Partition days, the Lahore-based Urdu columnist, wrote to the Deputy Commissioner that famous Sardar Dyal Singh, his sons Karam Singh and Anand Singh who owned 1300 acres of land lived in the village before Partition. Interestingly, the ancestors of Mr Bhullar and Mr Akram were known to each other and the families had a close relation.

It was during a chance meeting of Mr Akram with Sain Mian Mir Foundation president Harbhajan Singh Brar that it was revealed that Mr Akram and the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar belonged to the same village, Lalliany. However, Mr Akram could not meet Mr Bhullar during his previous to India as he had to return to Pakistan the same day. But he promised Mr Brar to get complete information about the families of the Deputy Commissioner. In his long letter, addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, he said the residents of Lalliany village were excited to know that a son of the village had become the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar district. The village was also famous for great vaids before the Partition.


India withdraws dossier on Golden Temple
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
The Government of India has officially withdrawn the nomination of Harmandir Sahib proposed to be taken up for consideration at the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee.

This has been confirmed through a communication, received by Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, a member of the UK-based Sikh Human Rights Group, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (a copy of which is in the possession of The Tribune).

Earlier, the SGPC had unanimously passed a resolution to withdraw the dossier on the plea that Harmandir Sahib did not require recognition from UNESCO or any other international body.

However, Indian government can reapply for the World Heritage Status in 2006. In case the dossier is sent again, the case could be heard by the year 2007, after a gap of two years.

Talking to TNS on phone today, Dr Rai said the British Government had taken up the case of WHS (World Heritage Status) with the World Heritage Centre (WHC) on behalf of British Sikhs. Earlier, Dr Rai had raised an objection that Sikhs from all over the world had not been taken into confidence at the time of sending the dossier to UNESCO.

Dr Rai said the representation made by the British Government was highly significant. British Sikhs now have the support from their own government in asserting their stake to Harmandir Darbar Sahib. Harmandir Sahib has an international significance for Sikhs all over the world. If the application is made again the British government will insist on consultation with British Sikhs as well Dr Rai said.

Dr Rai also praised Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the SGPC for maintaining a firm stand on the heritage matter and withdrawing SGPC’s support for the application. Dr Rai said SGPC chief had grasped the complexity of the issue and took a stand on Sikh principles.

Dr Rai has also written to Bibi Jagir Kaur to take initiative in order to set up an International Gurdwara Parbhandikan Committee and get NGO consultative status at the UN like other religious communities. 


Setting up of jail reform commission proposed
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Overcrowding, poor resources, inadequate infrastructure, condemned vehicles, lack of a modern security infrastructure and poor training of the staff have been the bane of the Jails Department in Punjab.

The suggestion of the Supreme Court that all jails should have jammers may not be implemented in Punjab as the state does not have enough funds to put these up even in its two high-security jails.

Of the 14,000-odd inmates in various jails in the state, as many as 65 to 70 per cent are undertrials.

Not even a single new car has been purchased by the department since 1987.

A growing emphasis on human rights and correctional methods notwithstanding, the jails in Punjab have little to offer. The only training institute of the department at Patiala has a Principal and two drill instructors. Because of low remuneration, even experts in law, criminology, human rights, psychology and other subjects refuse to be on the guest faculty of the institute. To top it all, no provision is made in the budget of the department for the training of the staff.

Since jails are the only institutions where human beings are kept in forced legal captivity, little or no attention has been paid towards improving basic amenities and living conditions of inmates there. Healthcare facilities are virtually non-existent.

It has been suggested that since jails need a major revamp, a jail reform commission be set up in the state to look into the various aspects of the functioning of the department which has not changed much since the British days.

The Director-General of Prisons, Mr MPS Aulakh, confirmed that a proposal for setting up a jail reform commission has been submitted to the state government for approval.

The commission, he said, could be mandated with a broad charter to review laws relating to prisons and prisoners and suggest amendments, amalgamations and modifications.

Besides, the commission should also look at recruitment based on psychological tests, education, rationalisation of rank structure, promotions of the jail staff and various other aspects, including housing and welfare besides monitoring their performance and behaviour.

Training of the jail staff, including the syllabi for different ranks, use of training aids with a special emphasis on civilised and polite behaviour, facilities for research in different areas of penology should be the other mandate of the commission.

Modernisation of jail factories, making them productive and self-sufficient and even profit-making ventures should also be left to the commission. Optimum utilisation of huge pieces of agricultural land available in most of the jails in the state is another area which needs attention. Organic farming, floriculture and horticulture should be encouraged for better utilisation of the land.

Production of undertrials, video-conferencing facilities, welfare of prisoners, their counselling, education, training in different streams and measures for the welfare of their families should also be left to the commission. 


3 BKI men held for sheltering Hawara
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 18
In a major breakthrough, the Ropar CIA staff today arrested three Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) members who had allegedly given shelter to the main accused of the Beant Singh assassination case, Jagtar Singh Hawara, after his escape from Burail Jail, from different places of the district with RDX and detonator.

A member of the BKI, Dharminder, was arrested from Kotli village with 4.56 kg RDX and while two other alleged members of the BKI — Amritpal of Rattangarh village and Sukhwinder of Sandhua village — were arrested from another place. All three were arrested for allegedly helping Hawara after he escaped from jail by providing him shelter and contacts.

After the interrogation of Dharminder, the police recovered RDX and detonator from near the SYL canal. He was later produced before the Ropar Judicial Magistrate, who remanded Dharminder in police custody till July 20. Amritpal and Sukhwinder would be produced before the Magistrate tomorrow, the police said.

A senior official of the police said Dharminder came in contact with Hawara when he was lodged in Burail Jail. Hawara, after his escape from Burail Jail, stayed at the residences of Dharminder, Amritpal and Sukhwinder. Later, Dharminder introduce Amritpal and Sukhwinder to Hawara, the police official said.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh Virk, said Dharminder had been arrested under the Explosive Act and Amritpal Singh and Sukhwinder for providing shleter to Hawara after his escape.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh added that interrogation of the three BKI members would also provide the deatils of Hawara’s activities in the district after his escape.


IHRO to plead Hawara’s wife case before NHRC
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 18
The International Human Rights Organisation, headed by Mr D.S. Gill, said today that his organisation would approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to seek respite for Balwinder Kaur, wife of the Babbar Khalsa International chief, Jagtar Singh Hawara, who, was allegedly maltreated during the police custody.

He said the organisation had decided to take up Balwinder Kaur’s case before the NHRC as she was not only tormented, but, also apprehended to be killed by the police. Being a wife of a militant, nobody has a right to treat her as a militant or a co-conspirator of Hawara.

The Punjab Human Rights Organisation, headed by Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, SAD (Longowal) chief Prem Singh Chandumajra and SAD (A) leader Jagmohan Singh here on Sunday said they urged the Punjab Government to drop “false” cases against the SAD (A) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.


SAD (A) notice to Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has served a legal notice on SAD Chief Parkash Singh Badal either to submit proof of allegation of reviving terrorism levelled against party chief Simranjit Singh Mann or tender an apology within 15 days.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the outfit, said a notice has been served on Mr Badal and he had been asked to produce proof of foreign funding and the money being used for aiding terrorist activities in Punjab. In case Mr Badal chose not to respond, he should be prepared for a statewide agitation by his party.

Labelling Mr Badal as a “tout” of the Congress, he said the former CM was hand in glove with Capt Amarinder Singh to disturb the hard earned peace in the state. They are out to raise to bogey of terrorism so that it could be used as a poll issue in the Assembly elections, he added.

Reacting to recent statements of DGP S.S. Virk on Mr Mann, he said their party had all along maintained that Mr Virk’s appointment would not be in the best interests of the state since he too wanted to create fear psychosis in the state so that the state could be turned into a police state. Here too, the DGP had tacit approval and support of Mr Badal, he added.

Regarding misuse of funds, he said it is ironical that Mr Badal and his family members, who are facing serious charges of corruption and disproportionate assets, were raising doubts about the integrity of Mr Mann. The people of Punjab know who has the interests of the people at heart and who just wants to exploit the mandate of the masses for the loot of the exchequer, he pointed out.

He also added that in case Mr Badal did not reply to the notice the party would launch an agitation where workers of the party would ghereo the former CM at all functions across the state.


Explain ‘favours’, SAD asks CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to explain reports that the Punjab Government showered multi-crore favours on two industrialists, including a MP belonging to the ruling party.

In a statement issued from the party head office here, a former President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and member of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, general secretary of the party, and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary, SAD, demanded a high-level independent inquiry into the matter.

The Akali leaders were reacting to a report in The Tribune published today which highlighted how the Punjab Government had waived Rs 26 crore due as repayments from two industrial concerns.

The Akalis demanded that the Chief Minister should make a categorical statement on the alleged favours at the expense of the state exchequer. They said development had come to a standstill as Capt Amarinder Singh complained of financial constraints while on the other hand, he was indulging in what amounted to the wrong handling of public finances.


Traffic volunteers coerce drivers
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 18
Instead of facilitating the smooth flow of traffic at the busy BMC chowk, students of a local school, who were deployed there as traffic volunteers to assist traffic police officials added to the confusion and even used coercive language with certain vehicle drivers, pedestrians and other road users.

The students, as a practice followed by the police to acquaint them of traffic rules and regulations, were deployed at the BMC chowk, where, most of them were seen acting like much-hated “danda” yielding police officials. This is in stark contract with the sense of politeness, which, was expected them not only as humble volunteers, but, as students of a local reputed school, who, were out to learn something and not to show their “power” as traffic controllers to road users.

Interestingly, the BMC chowk, where they were deployed, was yet to fulfil the requisite traffic norms in itself as some of traffic lights were missing and there was an absence of stop lines at the place. So, one wondered how people were made to observe traffic regulations in toto at such a traffic intersection.

They spoke harshly with one of migrant labourer, who had just stepped ahead the zebra line by few inches. Similarly, a group of students forced a senior college lecturer to reverse his car, causing, much inconvenience to him and others lining up in his hind side. When this correspondent asked one of such students to identify himself or their school, he refused “How does it concern you?” he retorted. When another student was quizzed, he said he was Harpreet Singh and all of them were students of the PAP-DAV school, which, was one of well known schools of the city. Interestingly, a traffic constable did not prevent students from talking to road users in an utterly impolite and coercive manner and he just looked the other way.

When contacted, Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghumman, SP (Traffic) said he would look into the matter and advised this correspondent to talk to the DSP (Traffic), who, was not available for comments.


India, Pak forum to end polio
Our Correspondent

Amritsar July 18
A joint Indo -Pakistan forum for the total eradication of polio from this region has been unanimously agreed and a finer shape would be given to it, shortly.

This was revealed by Ms Panabaka Lakshmi, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare on her return today from Pakistan after attending the second conference of SAARC Health Ministers”, held in Islamabad.

Giving details of her interaction with counterparts in seven countries, she stressed the point there was tremendous scope to boost “health tourism” in the area, as India and Pakistan offer world class health and medical facilities at economical rates at a par with the best in world. She said India had already declared one-year visa for patients of region seeking health services here.

Talking to The Tribune, she said that there was total consensus on measures for eradication and control of communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS, and alarming growth of population. At the conference inaugurated by Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Shaukat Aziz, the union minister underlined the need for health ministers of region to meet annually.

The minister spoke on ‘National rural health mission’ programme inaugurated by the PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, in April to upgrade Public Health Centers (PHC) and deputing one social activist under scheme, ASHA, at each village . As many as 18 states had adopted this scheme, she added .

The Indian representative also made special reference to India’s committed stand for supporting regional multi-country projects in fields of health and population, offer of scholarships for students of region in pursuing education in traditional Indian medicine etc under its fund of $100 million to SAARC.

She stated that India had also offered operationalising a ‘SAARC disease surveillance centre’ and ‘rapid deployment health response system’ at the National Institute of communicable diseases (NICD), Delhi.

Minister said the conference adopted a Islamabad declaration on health and population to set up institutional mechanism and national focal points within ministries of health to facilitate effective implementation of programmes, enhance inter-country cooperation for emergency preparedness, check illegal trade in spurious, substandard drugs, foods and psychotropic substances. They agreed to establish a SAARC technical committee on health and population, larger percentage of GDP to health, nutrition, population. Besides networking of national research institutions and establish a regional research fund, facilitate exchange of faculty and students in medical sciences and public health education.


Amritsar airport terminal building to become operational by August
Ashok Sethi and
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 17
The much-delayed work on Amritsar's Rajasansi International Airport terminal building, which had remained stalled for a considerable period of time and generated some controversy due to it's redesigning , has finally been given a go-ahead by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It is likely to become operational next month.

The Chairman of the National Minorities Commission and member of the Parliamentary Panel on Civil Aviation, Mr Tarlochan Singh, told The Tribune on phone from New Delhi that the Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, had assured the panel that the arrival block of the terminal building phase I was already under construction. It was planned to be completed and put into operation by the end of this month. The equipment for the arrival block had already arrived.

He added that work was continuing simultaneously on the departure area of the terminal building and was likely to be completed by October 2005. The minister promised that the entire terminal building would be ready by November this year. Plans were also underway to expand the terminal building in view of the manifold increase in the passenger traffic at the Amritsar International Airport.

The Director Airport, Mr V.S Mulekar, too said the ministry had given the go-ahead and the entire conveyor belt equipment and other amenities were being added on war footing to complete the project and to commence the operation by next month.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said during the Parliamentary meeting of the Ministry of Civil Aviation held on July 11 he had strongly favoured that the cargo potential of Punjab should be fully exploited to benefit the local industry and agriculture. He had suggested that Air-India and Indian Airlines should commence cargo flights from the Amritsar airport. Air-India had already offered 15 tonnes of cargo payloads on its flights to Birmingham and Canada for the benefit of exporters based in Punjab.

A Rajya Sabha Member, Mr Tarlochan Singh, lauded the ministry for starting Air-India flight from Amritsar and added that the Air-India Express, a low-cost airline, was keen on starting its operations from Amritsar very soon. He added that the Air- India Express was already operating from three cities in Kerala and had become popular.

The Airport Authority of India, despite having been under fire for not providing passenger amenities, had not ordered 500 additional trolleys at the airport. However, it was expected that trolleys would be added within the next two months.

Mr Tarlochan Singh pointed out that the present air-conditioning in both arrival and departure lounge, including security areas, would be further augmented and the process was likely to be completed by the end of August. He added that at present the Amritsar airport was charging only domestic rates from the various airlines, and no international airport charges were being made.

At present more than 58 flights are operating during the week taking passengers to various destinations around the globe. More than two and half lakh passengers use the airport around the year and by the end of 2010 the figure is going to jump at least five lakh.


Ancient temple in a state of neglect
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

KASEL (AMRITSAR): The ancient temple, believed to be visited by Mata Kaushalya, mother of Lord Rama, in a village, near Pakistan border, is a place of archaeological ruins.

Ignorant about its heritage value, the Mahants have carried out renovation with modern material while the villagers have spoiled the old ‘holy tank’ attached with the temple.

While Ghuram, a village in Patiala district, known to be the hometown of Mata Kaushalya, has already lost its pristine beauty, the Shiv Temple in Kasel, has recently been given a facelift. While a major part of the ancient temple is used by Mahants the holy tank, made of Nanakshahi bricks is in bad condition. Neither villagers nor caretakers of the temple have bothered to desilt the historical tank. The village children, unaware about the water-borne diseases, are seen playing in the filthy waters during the rainy season.

The revenue records reveal that in wake of the historicity of the temple, Punjab had granted a number of exemptions to the shrine. Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to get its water on camelbacks from the well of the Shiv Temple, which had special chemical properties to cure water-borne diseases.

The record of the temple reads, “This Mafi (exemption) was granted for the maintenance of Shivala at Mauja Dhand Kasel vide letter number 520, April 13, 1875 by State of Punjab (registerial 93 Mafi, Tehsil Tarn Taran )”.

The order regarding exemption was issued by R. Calark, the then Commissioner, Amritsar, in 1901. Later, Deputy Commissioner, in his order issued on April 1, 1941, also acknowledged the historicity of the temple.

Mahant Baldev Gir claimed that the Shiv Temple had one of the four ancient ‘Shivlings’ in the country. He claimed that devotees from far-flung areas used to visit the temple before the village was affected by militancy. He said during excavation the Mahants could not find the end of the Shivling though they dug up the place up to 30 metres.

Mr Om Parkash, another Mahant, alleged that neither the state government nor the Archaeological Survey of India had spent anything to preserve the shrine.

Shockingly, the Mahants have also started renovation of the temple by replacing Nanakshahi bricks with marble.


Power supply to nursing hostel cut
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur July 18
The A&M nursing students at the Gurdaspur Civil Hospital are without power. The reason is non-payment of power bills due to which the PSEB authorities have disconnected the power connection to the A&M nursing hostel being run in the hospital.

Due to non-availability of power for the past one week most of girl students have left the hostel. The students alleged that they had been facing problems of non-availability of power in the hostel earlier also. A few months ago due to the darkness in the hostel some persons entered their room at night. After that the district administration deployed the police to guard the hostel at night. However, in hot and humid conditions these days it was impossible to stay without power.

Sources available here said nursing school authorities had not been able to deposit the power bills due non-availability of funds. The total power bill arrears of the nursing institute are to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh.

The A&M nursing institute was being run here under the family planning scheme. The entire budget for the scheme is provided by the Union Government. However, generally there is delay on the part of state government to release funds received from the Centre for the scheme. The funds are allegedly diverted by the state government for other purposes for intervals.

Due to this work of A&M Nursing Institutes gets affected. Even employees working under the family planning scheme had to move court to get their salaries.


No memorial to brave son of Punjab
Romesh Gupta

Faridkot: Successive governments in Punjab have been ignoring the sacrifice of one of the highest gallantry award winners in Faridkot district who laid down his life during police action against the forces of Hyderabad State over five decades ago.

Hav Bachhittar Singh, a resident of Dhudi village, about 15 km from here, joined 2 Sikh Regiment in 1934-1935 as a sepoy. He showed bravery of the highest order while checking the advance towards an Indian Army position of the forces of the then ruler of the State of Hyderabad on September 13, 1948.

After seeing two enemy vehicles approaching to attack his platoon, he, as its commander, ordered his men to open fire and, taking along a soldier with him, captured the vehicles. In another operation on the same day, he repulsed the opposing forces and while he was about 20 yards from his mission target he was seriously wounded in the thigh by machine gun fire. However in spite of his injuries, he crawled forward and silenced the enemy position by throwing a grenade. Later he succumbed to his injuries.

In view of his bravery the Indian Government honoured him posthumously with the Ashok Chakra Class 1.

A close relative of the martyr in Dhudi village, Sub Balwinder Singh (retd), says Hav Bachhittar Singh, who was the only child of his parents, was born in Lopo village in Moga district. He was orphaned at an early age and later shifted to Dhudi village, where he was looked after by an aunt, Daya Kaur.

Successive state governments, including the present one headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, have failed to initiate any action to set up a suitable memorial to the martyr.

Sub-Maj Kartar Singh (retd) says that he brought the matter to the notice of Brig J.S. Jaiswal (retd), Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Punjab, during an ex-servicemen’s rally held here last November but to no avail.

Calling for the setting up of a memorial and a women’s college and the overall development of the village, Sub Balwinder Singh and Sub-Major Kartar Singh say that this will be a way of paying tributes to the martyr.


Octroi abolition poses problems
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
From where will the Punjab Government arrange Rs 750 crore to compensate 124 municipal bodies if octroi is abolished? This question is being debated by the Local Bodies and Excise and Taxation Departments.

Talking to The Tribune, the Local Bodies Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, said that the 
government would certainly abolish octroi. “ It was our promise made to the people of the state during the last Assembly elections and we are 
supposed to keep that promise”. He said: “As soon as we arrange money to pay salaries to the employees of the local bodies, we will abolish octroi”.

Though Chowdhary Jagjit Singh was firm on this issue, his department is facing a hard task with regard to the abolition of octroi. The local bodies earn Rs 750 crore per annum through octroi. Besides meeting day-to-day expenditure, the municipal committees pay salaries to their employees from the octroi collected. “We spend about 80 per cent of the total collections from octroi on paying salaries,” says a senior officer of the Local Bodies Department.

“If the government wants to abolish octroi, it will have to earmark at least Rs 600 crore from its funds to pay the salaries of the employees of the municipal bodies”, adds the senior officer. Earlier, the SAD-BJP government had faced a lot of problems in this connection. After abolishing octroi, that government had failed to ensure a regular flow of funds to the municipal bodies to pay the salaries. Employees had to agitate to get funds released for the payment of their salaries.

“We will not take such a risk and make some concrete arrangements to pay the salaries,” said Chowdhary Jagjit Singh. “We are exploring various possibilities to arrange Rs 750 crore to compensate the municipal bodies,” he added.

Informed sources said that the Excise and Taxation Department was examining a proposal of introducing a local area development fund to replace octroi. But there is no final word on it yet.

In fact, an officer of the Finance Department said that at least Rs 2,050 crore would have to be arranged from other sources or by levying some new of taxes if the government wanted to give free power to farmers and to abolish octroi.

He said that already the government was paying about Rs 900 crore as subsidy to the PSEB to give power at low rates to the farm sector.

And to give power absolutely free to this sector, Rs 400 crore more would be required to compensate the PSEB. Besides, Rs 750 crore would be required to compensate the municipal bodies.


In search of plane crash victims’ bodies
Anirudh Gupta

FEROZEPORE: Notwithstanding the inclement weather and difficult terrain, the Golden Arrow Division of the Army has launched a search for the mortal remains of 102 passengers who were aboard an IAF aircraft which crashed in Lahaul and Spiti more than three decades ago.

The aircraft, which took off from Chandigarh and was heading towards Leh in 1968, had to turn back without landing due to bad weather. On the way back, it crashed.

Major-Gen B. Sivasankar, GOC, Golden Arrow Division, recently flagged off an expedition, Punar Uthan-II, to the treacherous glaciers in Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. The expedition, with the motto “We Care and Dare”, launched under the aegis of the division, comprises 75 specially selected and trained personnel from all arms and services of the division. The expedition members will undergo acclimatisation and vigorous training for a period of four weeks at Manali and Baltal.

General Sivasankar said the expedition had also been tasked to look for evidence of an unidentified flying object sighted in Samundar Tapu in 2004 by scientists of the Space Application Centre.

While addressing the expedition members, he said the Army had always been at the forefront of adventure activities in the country. The expedition, besides carrying out the search for the crash victims, would inculcate a spirit of adventure among officers and men of the Army.

All efforts to find the victims failed till 2003, when an expedition passing through the area observed aircraft wreckage in the Pt 6264 area.

Thereafter, an expedition, Op Punar Uthan-I, was undertaken from August 7 to September 16, 2003, which recovered the mortal remains of Pioneer Beli Ram and some parts of the aircraft from the site. Last year another Army expedition could not reach the crash area due to bad weather.

The GOC handed over the flag to the expedition leader, Major Neeraj Sood, here.


Army jawan alleges illegal dismissal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
An Army jawan has alleged that rather than being treated for psychiatric problems, the Army resorted to illegal and forcible means to discharge him from service.

According to a representation sent by his lawyer to the Ministry of Defence and Army Headquarters, ex-gunner Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Ropar, had developed psychiatric problems while serving in counter insurgency environment and high altitude areas. He started having bouts of uncontrollable behaviour and was charged with excessive drinking while being in a mentally unfit condition.

After having a clean service record for five years since 1997, he was given five “red-ink” entries within a period of about a year-and-a-half and discharged as being undesirable for retention in the Army.

The representation claims that at no occasion was a medical examination ever conducted to determine whether he was intoxicated. According to Army instructions, if a person shows signs of alcohol dependence, he is to be placed in low medical category and if the condition persists, he is to be referred for psychiatric treatment.

In this case, neither was he placed in low medical category nor was his psychiatric treatment initiated. Instead, he was proceeded against on disciplinary grounds. After his discharge, Bhupinder Singh is undergoing regular psychiatric treatment from a civilian hospital.


Development eludes district headquarters
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 18
Even after getting district headquarters status years ago, the Ropar city is still considered to be backward in terms of development. Neither the local Municipal Council (MC) has enough funds nor the district administration has so far given importance to the city as regards ensuring progress. Moreover, the political will is also lacking.

The MC blames lack of development on paucity of funds. It requires more than Rs 10 crore every year to carry out various development projects but it has an annual income of around Rs 3 crore only.

As a result, out of around 50,000 households in the city, only 65 per cent are getting proper supply of the water as per the MC records. But most of them complain that this water is unpotable in the absence of proper chlorination.

Potholes in internal roads are another bane of the city. Water logging is a common sight during rainy days as the city does not have proper sewerage. Giani Zail Singh Nagar, Malhotra Colony and Dashmesh Nagar, which are called posh areas, are also facing similar problems. Other areas that have been facing problems as regards basic amenities include Mata Rani locality, Uchha Khera, Chhota Khera, Balmiki and the Shekha locality.

The condition of city markets is no better. Insanitary conditions prevail in markets including the main market, bridge market and Partap market.

Most of the roads have been occupied by phariwala’s, putting the lives of commuters at risk. Most of them even don’t have licences to carry on business activity. The administration has also neglected the historical importance of the city and failed to get it recognition it deserves.

Due to lack of development in the district headquarters, senior official of the administration have begun neglecting it. They prefer to hold important meetings in Mohali.

The Director Local Bodies, Punjab, Dr G. Bargalingam, was here to conduct a meeting with officials of the MC today. When asked about the city problems, he said the MC officials had submitted development projects for roads, water supply and sewerage. The work would be completed within a few months. Enough funds would be provided, he said.

The MC President, Mr Ashok Bahi, said the MC had Rs 1 crore to carry out development works. Besides, the Punjab Government had granted Rs 35 lakh recently. He had initiated various development projects, he said.


Sanskrit scholar assails Punjab Govt on literary award
S.D. Sharma

Chandigarh, July 18
Strange though it may seem, it is a known fact that one of the just announced Sahit Shiromani Awards — 2005 has been conferred on a scholar who has not authored a single book in Sanskrit, though credited with over a dozen works in Hindi. The recipient, Dr Manjula Sahdev, when contacted, however, maintained that her books in Hindi had been written with in-depth study based on the original Sanskrit literature. Reiterating her view she disclosed that her prime contribution in Hindi ‘Valmiki Ramayan Evan Sanskrit Natkon mein Ram’ is the outcome of 114 Sanskrit dramas. Similary, ‘Maharishi Valmik- Ek Samikshaand Adhyayan’ is based on Vedantic scriptures. ‘Bhagwan Mahavir — life and teachings, Hindi Poetry Anant Ki oar’ mahraja Valmiki ke Updesh and many others had been published in Hindi and Punjabi as well. She claims to have projected the grandeur of the Sanskrit language to international eminence through seminars and her papers.

But there are not many to subscribe to her view as the erudite Sanskrit scholar Dr Shashi Dhar Sharma says “With the patronage of the central and state governments for the promotion and propagation of literature, award money has been increased manifold to the extent of Rs 5 lakh in many cases but the government’s endeavour seems to be not yielding desired results.

He rued that the incompetent dummy scholars had, in fact, intruded into the system. Be it the imparting of education or propagation of the literature. The Sanskrit language is not a profitable venture, there are not many to admire its poetic and spiritual levels, thus remaining bereft of the elegance and felicity of its rich heritage.

Dr Shashi Dhar, credited with over 25 literary creations in Sanskrit expressed concern, “without any prejudice”, about the disparity in the Punjab state ‘Sahit Shiromani Purskar — 2005, especially the Sanskrit Sahit Award. He felt perturbed at the wisdom of the selection jury and the honourable committee.

The visionary omniscient poet maintains that such irregularities by the proponents of the culture lower the dignity of the awards invariably damaging the spirit behind the sacred resolve of the government to honour Sanskrit, the mother of all languages.

The coming generation is not likely to evince interest in Sanskrit if genuine efforts are not employed to popularise the language, else it may become distinct with older generation. Similarly, Mohandas Bhanga, Additional Director, Language Department, Punjab, disclosed that overall contribution of the writer had been considered for the awards.

Recipient of President Award-1985 and galaxy of national awards Dr Shashi Dhar is the first scholar to be conferred with D.Litt. without doing Ph.D. He had declined the offer of ‘Shankaryaship’ of Jaganmath Puri only to serve the literary world.


SAD (A) seeks relief for flood-hit farmers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
The Kisan Wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A) at a meeting held here today, urged the Punjab Government to fully compensate the framers whose crops had been damaged in the recent floods .

Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the wing said the meeting was held to discuss threadbare various issues concerning the farmers.

Prominent among the demands put forth by it included the restoration of uninterrupted power supply, early replacement of the faulty transformers and proper distribution of river waters.

Mr Behru said the rising costs of pesticides and insecticides were increasing every day putting a burden on the farmers already under debt.

He urged the government to raise the MSP of crops commensurate with the price index and added that the state government should establish mobile laboratories in the state to check the menace of adulteration in insecticides and pesticides.


Promote Punjabi culture, says MC chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, has asked affluent people to support theatre organisations for promoting Punjabi theatre, language and literature in the region.Mr Ahluwalia, while inaugurating the play “Takey Ser Bhaji Takey Ser Kahaja”, directed by Pran Sabharwal, lauded the director’s efforts to promote Punjabi culture through the medium of powerful plays.

Mr K.S. Sandhu, Assistant General Manager, State Bank of Patiala, said that the bank had always remained at the forefront to support the Punjabi theatre.

Mr Hardev Singh Rosha, president, International Punjabi Vikas Manch, urged the theatre organisations to spread the richness of Punjabi culture abroad so that the youth of Indian origin, who had come under the influence of western culture, could be diverted to their roots.

On this occasion, 50 personalities, mostly from theatre, were honoured.


Brothers die after inhaling poisonous gas
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 18
Two brothers died after inhaling poisonous gas at Ranipur village, near here, today.

The younger brother, Sukhwinder Singh, had gone to repair the motor of a tubewell. He went down into the pit where some poisonous gas suffocated him to death.

When Sukhwinder did not come out even after four hours, his elder brother, Sewa Singh, also went into the well and met the same fate. Their family members came to know about the incident in the morning.

SDM Balwinder Singh, DSP Navjot Singh and MLA Joginder Singh Mann reached the spot.

Mr Mann said the family members would be compensated.


Residents hold protest against Civil Surgeon
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 18
Irked over spreading of diarrhoea in Bastis area of Jalandhar and alleged failure of the Health Department to control the malady, hundreds of residents of Basti Danishmandan and other adjoining localities staged protest against the Civil Surgeon, Dr Y. C. Markana, and blocked traffic in front of the local Civil Hospital today.

Protesters were also aghast at the alleged casual attitude of the Civil Surgeon towards spreading of the disease in the areas.

They were carrying placards, on which slogans like, “Civil Surgeon murdabad” was inscribed and alleged that though diahorrhoea and gastro had inflicted a number of persons in the basti areas. However, no preventive steps were taken by the health authorities and rather the Civil Surgeon termed the incident as baseless.Dr Y.C. Markana said 25 teams had been pressed into service and these teams had duly combed the basti area, but, no case of gastroenteritis could be detected in any of the localities.


BJP protest against poor amenities
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 18
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BYJM) here staged a protest against the Municipal Council its “failure” to provide basic civic amenities to Kharar residents.

According to Mr Sham Vedpuri, president of the local unit of the BJP, the council had not only failed to provide basic services to the public, but also hiked sewerage and water taxes.

Mr Gurpeet Singh Goldy of the the BJYM, and a state executive member of the BYJM, Mr Suresh Guleria, led the protest.

The protesters staged a dharna outside the MC office and later marched to the office of the SDM, Kharar, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, and presented him a memorandum.


Office bearers

Samrala, July 18
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Adhiapak Committee, Block Samrala II, here today. President — Tarlochan Singh; vice-president — Bhagat Singh; secretary — Nirmal Chander; finance secretary — Shingara Singh and Dharminder Singh press secretary. —OC


SGPC wants PM to increase jatha members
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC President, in a communication to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, sought permission for a special jatha of 3,000 Sikhs on the occasion of martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in June next year .

A jatha of 500 Sikhs was sponsored by the SGPC on the occasion annually.

However, she stated that in view of an international-level function proposed to be held on June 16 next year at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore in Pakistan, to mark the 400th martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the SGPC would desire the PM to take up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart for increasing the number of Sikhs for the special occasion .

The occasion would also be celebrated with religious fervour and devotion at Tarn Taran and various subcommittees would be constituted shortly to chart out the programmes, she added.


Five students hurt as van overturns
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 18
Five students of Shishu Public School of Hadiabad, were injured when the driver of the school van lost control over the vehicle and it overturned near Hardaspur village near here today.

Three of the injured were

Amarjit Singh (12), Bhupinder Kaura (13) and Ravinder Kaur (15).

The police arrested van driver Gurmit Lal.


Mini bus operators put off rally plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Punjab Mini Bus Operators Association has postponed its proposed rally to be held in Chandigarh on July 20 following an assurance from the State Transport Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, that its demands would be considered sympathetically.

A government spokesman today announced that the deadlock had been broken. A delegation of the association led by its president, Mr Harvinder Sharma, called on Mr Kaypee. The minister gave an assurance that all efforts would be made to meet their genuine demands.


All-India mushaira on August 6
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
The Mehak Cultural Forum, in collaboration with the Suffi Foundation India, will organise an all-India mushaira on August 6 at Central Public Library Auditorium.

In a press note, Dr Naresh Raj, president of the forum, said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy CM, would be the chief guest while Mr Izhar Alam, ADGP, and Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, P.R.T.C, would be the guest of honour. Noted poets Tajdor Amrishi and Sardar Anjum are scheduled to attend the mushaira.


ASI, HC sent to police lines

Phagwara, July 18
Following reports of illegal detention and torture of a teenaged youth, Kapil Saini, of Gobindpura Mohalla, ASI Mohan Singh and Head Constable Ram Nath, posted in the local Satnampura police post, were today sent to the Kapurthala Police Lines.

This had been done as part of departmental action against the two erring police officials. When contacted this evening, Phagwara DSP Navjot Singh confirmed that the two had been sent to the Police Lines.

It may be mentioned here that the youth was tortured and kept in illegal custody for 12 hours.

The youth was released only after an enraged BJP Mahila Morcha wing leader, Ms Sarita Sood, and her supporters converged on Satnampura police post yesterday. — OC


Industry inspector held for bribe
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 18
A Vigilance team, led by Mr Banarasi Dass, DSP, today caught red-handed Surjit Ram, Inspector, Industries, Sangrur, when he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500 from Mr Ranjit Singh, a resident of Longowal village. He was arrested from his office here.

Giving this information to The Tribune, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SP, Vigilance, Patiala, said Mr Ranjit Singh had applied to the Industries Department for a loan worth Rs 1.50 lakh for opening a shop. The loan file was to be cleared by the General Manager (GM) of the District Industries Centre (DIC), Malerkotla, while the loan file was to be sent by the Inspector, Industries, Sangrur, to the GM, DIC, for clearance. To send his file to the GM, DIC, without any objection, Surjit Ram demanded money from Mr Ranjit Singh and the deal was struck for Rs 1,500, he added.

Mr Bhullar said the Vigilance team also raided the house of Surjit Ram at Dhuri today. He said a case under the provisions of a Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against Surjit Ram.


Missing family: police about to crack case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
The Majitha police today claimed that they were close to solving the case of the missing family from Jandiala Guru 17 km from here, the police sources said that it had definite clues that the family had fled to avoid moneylenders from whom they had taken huge amount as advance.

Police sources said that although they did not have photographs of the missing family members as the family took all photographs with them, they had definite information about them. The four daughters of the missing family head, Mohinder Singh Bajaj, had also refused to have any photographs of the family, which had raised suspicion. The sources denied to divulge the more details as it could hamper investigations.

The sources said Mohinder Singh sold his only marriage palace-cum-godown before going missing to Harbhajan Singh of the area. They took Rs 7 lakh as token advance from him.

Ms Vibhu Raj, district police chief Majitha said that the police hoped to achieve a breakthrough in the case. Asked about the suspicion of involvement of four daughters in their disappearance or any knowledge of the whereabouts of the family, as they had refused to have any photograph of the family, she said the police was also working on this point. She said the police suspects that the family had gone towards Delhi or beyond.

Twelve members of the family of Mohinder Singh mysteriously disappeared a week ago after scribbling on walls of the house giving extreme pressure from moneylenders for their step. They had also threatened to commit suicide in the suicide note scribbled on the walls of the house. 


2 cheating cases
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 18
Two separate cases of cheating by four travel agents, including two women, were reported at Sadar and Dasuya police stations in this district yesterday.

According to police sources, Chanranjit, a son of Ram under Madhopur police station in Jalandhar district, has alleged in his complaint that travel agent Parminder Singh of Chhauni Kalan took Rs 2.50 lakh for sending him abroad. He neither sent him abroad nor refunded his money. However, Parminder Singh returned Rs 1.50 lakh.

In another case, Daljit Singh of Galewal village alleged that travel agent Bodh Raj, his wife Varinder Kaur of Preet Nagar, Kapurthala, and Surjit Kaur, wife of Bakshish Singh of Jaidon of Kapurthala district, took Rs 4.50 lakh for sending his son abroad. They neither sent his son abroad nor refunded the money.

Two separate cases against the accused have been registered under Section 406, 420, IPC. No arrest has been made so far.


Youth kills sister
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
A youth reportedly killed his sister over illicit relations at Talwandi Sabo last night. The accused threw his sister’s body into a canal.

According to sources, the deceased, Raj Kaur, had got married at Kotra Kaudia village two years back. However, she returned to her parents’ home two months back ago after having some dispute with her in-laws. Her elder brother, Jagsir Singh, was suspicious about her character and had an altercation with her many times on the matter.

Sources said last night when he knocked at the door, his sister took some time in opening it. He then spotted a stranger inside the room and started beating him. Though the stranger managed to flee, he forced his sister to accompany him on his vehicle. He stopped near a canal and after strangulating her to death, threw her body into it.

The police has registered a case against him under Section 302 of the IPC and seized his jeep used in the crime.

This is the third murder in the area over illicit relations in the last one month. 


Man kills wife
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 18
A man today shot his wife and her paramour dead over their illicit relations at nearby Charewan village.

Sources said the wife of the accused, Paramjeet Kaur, reportedly had illicit relations with Gurnam Singh, a suspended policeman, hailing from Dabra village.

The sources said the accused, Beant Singh, had doubt about his wife’s character and he had even warned her, but she continued her relations with Gurnam.

Today evening he had again paid a visit to her home and Beant got a wind of it.

He took a firearm of his friend and shot both of them dead before escaping. Both the bodies have been sent for a postmortem examination.


Baba Farid University grapples to come to terms with scam
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
A university means a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done, says the lexicon.

This puts a big question mark over the credentials of the controversial Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), which has become just an “exam conducting body”.

This correspondent tried to explore as to what went wrong with the university that kindled a ray of hope among students of the educationally backward Malwa region.

Known for goof-ups in exams, the university was a gift from a doting father to his son’s Lok Sabha constituency. The father was the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the son Faridkot MP Sukhbir Badal. A number of controversies surrounding the university since its inception proves that it was a politically motivated decision and the then Akali regime never made a sincere attempt to make it a university in the true sense of the word.

Interestingly, the varsity came into being with the coming to power of the Akali Dal in 1998 and Mr Badal had five years to nurture it. Though about 150 acres worth crores was acquired on the Talwandi road for raising the infrastructure, it is yet to have a boundary wall even after years. The land is now being used for holding the monthly cattle fair while the varsity continues to function from a rented accommodation of the Tourism Department.

The university has neither teaching staff nor teaching and research amenities on the campus. The Rs 70-crore project for raising the infrastructure could not take off due to fund crunch. Sources said the varsity began on a promising note with Dr Livtar Singh Chawla taking over as its first Vice-Chancellor. He resigned after about a year and a half due to “personal reasons”. The sources said the real reason behind his resignation seemed to be an Act passed by the Punjab Government. Under the Act, the Vice-Chancellor was not made Chairman of the Board of Management unlike other universities where the Vice-Chancellor is the Chairman of the Board of Management or the Syndicate and the Senate.

Dr J.S Gujral then took over the reigns on January 3, 2000. The sources said soon he became the “lone power centre” and the successive registrars found themselves toothless, which spurred their exodus from the university that has witnessed five registrars in the past seven years. The sources said the three-year term of the Vice-Chancellor was again extended in 2003.

The sources attribute various anomalies in the university to the recruitment of retired and temporary staff. They say people from some particular cities of the state were given priority in recruitment irrespective of their qualifications.

In 2002, the Vigilance Bureau booked Mr Tirath Singh, an OSD of the V-C, for alleged “anomalies” in the recruitment of 134 clerks in the Punjab School Education Board. He was one of the members of the Recruitment and Selection Committee that held the interview for the post.

Over the years, the university had only been conducting exams and in that too it had failed miserably. Its lackadaisical approach could be gauged from the fact that the university had been making innumerable goof-ups in the PMET prospectus year after year. Unlike other universities, its process of setting question papers lacked a cover of secrecy.

The probe into the PMET paper leak revealing that the V-C’s peon used to take bribe for manipulating marks was a pointer to the fact that corrupt practices had crept even among the lower staff. Another revelation of peon Buta Ram that the paper leak had been taking place for the past many years and this time they too thought of making some money hinted at the possible involvement of the higher staff. Now, the headless institution grapples to come to terms with the paper leak scam.

The university had proposed to take over Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital for studies and research, but it is yet to materialise. The varsity is running only a college of nursing in the name of studies.


Students await BEd counselling
Rajbir Sekhon

Bathinda, July 18
Students, who appeared for the joint B.Ed entrance test, are feeling jittery as the Panjab University (PU) authorities have failed to announce the counselling date for admissions to B.Ed even two weeks after the declaration of result.

Though the result of joint B.Ed entrance test conducted by Panjab University , Chandigarh, on June 22 was declared on July 4 but so far the university authorities have not given any notice regarding the counselling schedule for admissions to various colleges.

According to the prospectus of B.Ed entrance test, the first counselling would be conducted on July 20 and the notice in this connection would be given in two leading dailies after July 10. But so far no notice has appeared in any daily regarding the counselling schedule. Students are confused that whether there will be counselling on July 20 or not.

A section of students, who appeared in the B.Ed entrance test, while talking to this correspondent said that they had been scanning almost all the newspapers daily for the counselling schedule as they had been eagerly waiting for admissions. They said that some of the self-financed unaided private colleges had started admitting the students under the management quota seats (MQS).

When this correspondent talked to one of the self-financed private unaided college located in Moga district posing as an aspirant for admission to MQS of B.Ed she was told that out of total 13 MQS, eight had already been filled while that college was yet to give advertisement in the newspaper about MQS. She was also told that the fee charged was Rs 1.5 lakh while fee for normal seat in private colleges varies from Rs 32,000 to 35,000.

One more college located in this district asked for Rs 1.5 lakh for admission into B.Ed under MQS. When the criteria for admission was asked, she was told that the admissions were being made on first come, first serve basis, and the availability of the seat in that combination.

Unofficial sources said that the self financed private colleges had been admitting students throughout the state under MQS and had been charging about Rs 1.5 lakh or more per seat.

There are some students, who have no hope of getting admission to B.Ed course elsewhere , have started taking admissions in private unaided colleges under MQS.

Some of the students, who are interested in doing postgraduation (PG) in case they do not get admission to B.Ed. are totally puzzled as the last dates for admission to PG degree courses is approaching. A student, Geetika, (name changed), who has a rank above 4000, says:“In case I do not get admission to B.Ed, I will opt for admission into postgraduate (PG) degree course.” But due to delay in the counselling date, she is confused whether to wait for B.Ed counselling or to get admission into PG course.

The students demanded that the date for counselling should be announced at the earliest and also there should be centralised counselling for management quota seats so that the students with better ranks could get priority .

Meanwhile, the PU authorities could not be contacted for comments despite repeated efforts.


Flying training for NCC cadets from July 21
Tribune News service

Patiala, July 18
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) authorities have decided to start training of flying for its cadets, which was closed for the past three years, in the aviation complex again.

Official sources said that training in flying, which was to be started from the April this year, would start in this month only. Inauguration will take place on July 21 when commanding officer Wing Commander K. J. S. Dihot and Group Captain Col S. P. S. Boparai will attend the function to be organised in that connection.

Sources added flying training system of the NCC in the aviation complex, which had been training school and college students every year, was closed after the state government failed to provide funds to it to meet expenditure. Apart from it, the aircraft, which was being used by the NCC, was grounded due to its unserviceability. Technical and administrative reasons also contributed to its closure.

The NCC units operating in Punjab have been running two flying training units in the state one each at Patiala and Ludhiana and catering to needs of students of those region. While the flying training unit of Ludhiana continued to function, the unit here was closed for different reasons.

Capt Ranjit Shekhar, pilot, who has been looking after all arrangements here, said that 3 Punjab Air Squadron NCC, Patiala was running the flying training unit.

He added that 800 students including 550 from schools and 250 from different colleges of Patiala and surrounding areas would be training in flying the aircraft. He added that each student would be given 200 hours flying training in one calendar year. Two gliders and one micro light air craft of Zen Air 70 CH, which was inducted into its fleet by NCC in 2001, would also be used in this task.

He said that after the training, these students would be given B or C certificates of the NCC and after that they would be able to participate in the all-India flying competition to become best men and best women pilots. He said that against the requirement of Rs five lakh for running the training programme the state government had given only Rs two lakh so far.

He pointed out that after getting training from this unit and equipped with certificates issued by the NCC, the cadets could go to Air Force as pilots directly with taking any written test. He added that even the cadets could also join the Indian Army as pilots directly after getting this training.


GND varsity second counselling on July 22
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
The second counselling for admission to vacant seats available in B-pharmacy, B.Sc. (industrial microbiology) and B.Sc. (hons. school) in chemistry, physics, human genetics and botany courses of Guru Nanak Dev University on the basis of the merit of Joint Entrance Test (Undergraduate) sciences will be conducted on July 22.

Dr Sukhdev Singh, coordinator, JET (UG) Sciences-2005, said all eligible reserved categories candidates and general category candidates up to the rank of 300 may appear for counseling.

Meanwhile, the counseling for NRI and NRI sponsored seats of B.Sc. (industrial microbiology) would be held on July 25 in the Department of Microbiology. Under this category, the counseling for M.Sc. (microbiology) and M.Sc. (fermentation and microbial technology) would be held on July 21 in the respective departments.

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