P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cancer deaths rise in CM’s district
Authorities yet to take notice; no doc in dispensary
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mandour (Patiala), August 22
After cancer started its macabre dance in this village, located 17 km from New Moti Bagh, the private residence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, helpless residents have been left to fend for themselves.

The residents have lost faith in the authorities concerned, who are yet to take notice of the fact that 21 human lives have been devoured in the past four years by cancer in this village with a population of more than 6000. Residents said that the past of doctor in the local dispensary had been lying vacant for the past one year.

As per information gathered by TNS, the disease, which has gripped a number of pockets in the Malwa region, particularly Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa districts, has started spreading its tentacles in the home district of Capt Amarinder Singh. So far this village, one of the biggest in Nabha tehsil, has witnessed 21 deaths due to cancer in the past four year.

Not only this, seven residents of the village have been getting treatment for different types of cancer.

Residents of the village are in a fix as they try to hide the fact that cancer has been taking human lives in their village due to fear of social stigma which might affect the matrimonial prospects of their wards.

At the same time, they have been trying to press the authorities concerned to make arrangements to find out the proper reasons for the same.

The ayurvedic doctor posted in the local dispensary, Dr A. P. Singh, has decided to send a special report on cancer deaths to the Director of the department and the civil surgeon, Dr V. S. Mohi, has decided to constitute a special team of doctors to carry out a door-to-door survey in the village to assess the gravity of the problem.

Mr Amrik Singh, a resident, pointed out that the authorities concerned should examine everything including the water being consumed by the residents and other things used by them to increase the fertility of the soil of their farms.

He feared that some contents of pesticides, used by farmers, might be in the water being consumed by the residents.

Mr Bhim Singh, member of the village panchayat, said that those who belonged to poor sections of society, were not able to get expensive treatment for cancer and had been dying.

He added that though a large waterworks system had been installed in the village by the authorities concerned, it had been catering to the needs of half of the population.


Car proposal gets stuck in Finance Dept
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The much-discussed proposal to buy Camry cars for Punjab Ministers has not yet crossed the Finance Department’s barrier. Informed sources said today that the department had raised several queries regarding these cars.

The sources said the Finance Department had asked the state Transport Department to submit a detailed comparative report regarding various features of the cars vis-a-vis Ambassador and Contessa cars which were at present being used by Ministers. There are certain Ministers who use their private cars also.

The sources said the main objective of this exercise was to find out how costly the Camry cars would prove as compared to the official cars in use at present at the level of Minister. Besides the price, other aspects on which a report has been sought include the running and overhead costs.

The sources said that compared to Ambassador cars, Camry cars would prove several times more costly. There is a huge difference in the price. While Camry cars would cost about Rs 16 lakh per unit, the Ambassador car with the engine based on the latest technology was available in the range of Rs 4.5 lakh. It could not be ascertained whether the Transport Department has replied to the Finance Department.

Besides 19 Camry cars, the Punjab Government is also keen on buying Chevrolet Tavera, Lancer and Toyota Innova cars for MLAs. The authorities have asked the MLAs to give their options in this connection.

The sources said Haryana’s experience of providing cars to its Ministers had been bitter so far. In fact, the Haryana Government, according to the sources, in future would avoid buying these cars and like to replace these with SUVs, most of which were available in the range of Rs 13 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

“If Punjab ministers do not want to visit the rural areas and only want to confine themselves to the urban areas linked with highways, they should opt for Camrys,” says a senior officer. Otherwise, they should opt for vehicles which can be driven in all parts of the state.


Govt to permit selective killing of blue bulls
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Permits will be issued to seasoned hunters for the selective killing of blue bulls in the Malwa belt where farmers have been complaining for years that these wild animals were damaging their crops. However, no such permits will be issued for the Shivalik foothills and the Kandi belt where wild boars create trouble for farmers.

Talking to The Tribune in this connection, Mr Hans Raj Josan, Minister of State for Wildlife and Forests and Mr A.S. Dogra, Chief Wildlife Warden, on Wednesday said that a policy regarding the selective culling of wild animals had been prepared by the department. “It has been sent to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who is Chairman of the Wildlife Board, for approval”, said Mr Josan.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) will be authorised to issue permits to hunters only in the villages where panchayats will make a specific request that wild animals have become a problem for them. One hunter will be allowed to kill only five adult male blue bulls. Killing of female wild animals will be strictly prohibited. And permit will be for a specific period of 15 days.

Already, Haryana and Rajasthan have adopted this system to deal with the problem of wild animals. However, in Punjab, the Bishnoi community in the Abohar-Fazilka belt is strongly opposed to the killing of wild animals. The community recently warned the government against taking any decision regarding the culling of wild animals in the State.

Mr Josan said that no permit would be issued for such killings in the Shivalik foothills and the Kandi area. Asked about the monkey menace, Mr Josan said that there appeared to be no solution of this problem at the moment. “We are studying various proposals to deal with this problem”, he adds.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has fixed a target to plant 70 lakh saplings this year. Of these 30 lakh will be planted by village panchayats and the remaining by the department. The government has a target to cover 15 per cent area under forest by 2015 but it seems to be an impossible task in a state like Punjab where 90 per cent land is under cultivation.

“We are trying to make forestry an alternative of traditional crops”, says Mr Josan. The Centre had been requested to fix the minimum support price of wood, he added. A meeting in this connection would be held on September 6 with officers concerned of the Centre. The Punjab Government will also move the Supreme Court to seeks its permission to issue licences for setting up saw mills and plywood manufacturing plants in the state.


Issue of declaring minorities being examined
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Wanting to avoid a political controversy, the Punjab Government is carefully examining the question of which religious communities will fall in the category of “minority communities” in this only Sikh-dominated state in the country. Also, the formation of the proposed State Commission of Minorities (SCM) is to be decided.

Most importantly, the Sikh psyche has to be kept in mind before any decision is taken on declaring minorities, confirmed a senior government functionary. The relevant files were recently forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, for having an overall picture of the issue. The need was to tread carefully as the matter could have a major national impact and prove to be a political minefield, said a politician.

If the Punjab Government declares the Hindus, the Muslims, the Jains and the Christians as minorities, the Sikhs will automatically form the majority. Or will Punjab give the minority status only to the Muslims, the Jains and the Christians? Another view within the government is that the minority status should be given to “minute minorities” who are nationally in a minority.

Nationally, the Sikhs are a “minority” as they comprise only 1.9 per cent of the total population of India. As per Census 2001, in Punjab the Sikhs are 1.45 crore in number and form 59.9 per cent of the total population of 2.43 crore. Sources said taking a decision on this was a tough job. There are 89 lakh Hindus in Punjab who comprise 36.9 per cent of the population. The population of Muslims and Christians was 3.82 lakh and 2.92 lakh, respectively. That is 1.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively. The Jains number only 39,000 (0.2 per cent of the population).

Institutions run by Christian bodies already get the status of minority in Punjab.

The National Commission of Minorities has asked all states to set up their own SCMs and declare which communities are minorities.


Mid-day meal scheme comes to a grinding halt in Punjab
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 22
Implementation of mid-day meal scheme in government primary schools in Punjab has come to a grinding halt. Less than six months after cooked meals for students were introduced in primary schools as part of the scheme, the state has no funds to continue with it.

While in some districts the last of such meals were given to the students in April, 2005, in majority of the districts the primary school students have not been served these ever since they came back from the summer vacation in July. District education offices confirmed that there were no more funds available with them to get the meals cooked, and in most cases, even the wheat which is supplied free of cost to the schools by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had not been allotted. In some cases, the education officers had not picked up the wheat since there was no way of cooking it without the money.

Sources pointed out that Punjab had spent Rs 6 crore sanctioned by the Government of India for the commencement of the scheme. However, fresh funds had not being allocated as GOI had summarily turned down Punjab’s demand for extra money for “additional facilities” in schools for the proper implementation of the scheme.

While the cooked meal scheme had been introduced as pilot project in certain blocks of the state since 2002, most of the students in primary schools in the state were being given 3 kg of wheat each month. In December, 2004, the cooked meal scheme replaced the old system with the government also fixing a menu of these meals. Other than 50 gm of wheat per child per day, the school was to be given Rs 1.70 per child per day for the cooking of the meal.

Now, in almost all the districts in the state, students are neither getting wheat nor the cooked meal. In Jalandhar and Kapurthala where wheat is available for allotment, education officers are wondering if they should revive temporarily the erstwhile system of giving grain (raw wheat) to the students instead of a cooked meal till the funds arrive. In Mansa, where the scheme is still in the process of being introduced, there is cash available (almost Rs 24 lakh) but no wheat.

Admitting that there was a problem regarding funds for the mid day meal scheme, the Principal Secretary, School Education, Mrs Tejinder Kaur, pointed out that there were certain issues which needed to be ironed out.

“The scheme had been launched and is doing very well in certain districts like Bathinda where self help groups and village panchayats have been involved in implementing the scheme.

However, certain facilities like kitchen sheds and utensils etc would be needed so that the cooking is done within the school itself rather than at religious places or by contractors outside,” she said.

Sources added that the state had now asked for Rs 27 crore from the GOI as the next lot of funds. The GOI has, however, reportedly written back that it would only pay for the scheme and the state would have to manage the creation of additional facilities itself or tap other central schemes for the same.


Good weather, Bt cotton cut sale of pesticides
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Suitable weather conditions coupled with the arrival of Bt cotton has spelt doom for pesticide companies that did brisk business in the last couple of years in the cotton belt due to American bollworm and other diseases afflicting the cotton crop.

Talking to The Tribune, Gurmail Singh, a small farmer from Dabrikhana village of Faridkot district, said he had sown unauthorised Bt cotton seed over his one acre land and apart from Confidore he hadn’t sprayed any other pesticide. He said he had already harvested four quintals of cotton and expects more in coming days.

Chand Singh, a farmer from Bhai Bhagta village of Bathinda district, had also sown Bt cotton on his six acres of land. He said he only used a spray for proper growth of cotton crop. He hopes to reap 16 quintals cotton per acre.

Joginder Singh, a farmer from Mansa, said a large section of cotton farmers had not sprayed even once. He said scores of friendly insects had also come as a boon to their cotton crop. He said the non-Bt varieties in his area were also pest-free.

On the other hand, Mr Manish Kumar, proprietor of Jai Shakti Fertilizers, admitted that the sale of pesticides was not even 10 per cent of what it was last year. He said they had not placed any order for pesticides after receiving their first delivery at the beginning of the season.

Ashok Kumar, an “arhtiya” at the local grain market, said earlier farmers used to approach him for buying pesticides. But, this year the farmers have sprayed only once, though some of them have gone for it twice, he averred.

Another pesticide dealer also revealed that there had been a significant drop in the sale of pesticides not only for cotton but also for paddy crop.

When contacted, the Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr P.S. Aulakh, attributed decline in use of pesticides on cotton crop to sowing of Bt varieties in large area. At the same time, he admitted that weather conditions also played a vital role in keeping the cotton crop pest-free this year.

Mr Umendra Dutt, Executive Director, Kheti Virasat Mission, said good weather conditions and friendly insects led to pest-free cotton crop this year and added that it would be too early to comment on Bt cotton. He said efforts should be made to make the area pesticide free, as it was passing through an ecological catastrophe.

Ms Kavita, a trustee of Kheti Virasat Mission, said they were still not in a position to say whether Bt technology was working or not. She said the arrival of Bt cotton and the campaign underlining no need to use pesticides on it had changed the mindset of the farmers who were now refraining from spraying their crop.

Consequently, minimal use of pesticides has restored the natural ecosystem in the belt that has witnessed pesticide abuse in the past, she added. She also gave an instance of Punkala village in Andhra Pradesh that totally stopped using pesticides.

She said it would be too premature to say anything, as there were long-duration varieties on the ground and various parameters would have to be looked into before giving out a verdict on Bt. She said unlike last few years the farmers were not seen mindlessly spraying their cotton crop due to fear of bollworm attack.


Ludhiana factory ordered to be closed; 3 arrested
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 22
The state Industries Department this evening ordered the closure of the controversial factory, Mukesh Steels, till further orders. Four industrial accidents, including some mysterious blasts, had taken place at the factory in the past two years.

The police has also arrested three senior employees of the factory, including one of its Directors, for alleged negligence of duty leading to yesterday’s blast.

More than 15 labourers had been injured and around five killed in four accidents.

Deputy Director, Industries, Kashmira Singh ordered the closure of the factory after inspecting the site where molten mattler had fallen on eight labourers causing serious injuries to them.

Mr Kashmira Singh confirmed late in the evening to The Tribune that no manufacturing would take place till the factory assured the Industries Department about the safety measures being taken by it to prevent such accidents.

He also sealed a room in which the material allegedly unsuitable for moulding has been kept. He said the department was in the process of prosecuting the factory owner for previous accidents. Such accidents occur when scrap gets dampened due to the rainy season and bursts out of the furnace, he added.


Lalu’s nod to rail project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The Union Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, today directed his Ministry officials to immediately prepare a project for laying a rail track from Tarn Taran to Goindwal Sahib.

This was stated today by Mr M.S. Gill, member of the Rajya Sabha. Mr Gill said he held a meeting on this issue with Mr Yadav in the lobby of Parliament this morning. Mr Yadav immediately called his officers and gave the necessary instructions to them in this connection.

The meeting was held after a debate on certain amendments to an Act related to the Railways in the Upper House. Mr Gill had initiated the discussion. The issue of linking Goindwal Sahib to Tarn Taran by rail had been hanging fire for several years.

Mr Gill said he told Mr Yadav that Punjab had remained neglected for five decades as far as laying new rail lines was concerned. No major new rail line had been laid in the state. As Amritsar was one of the most important international tourist centres, the Railway Ministry should provide the best rail service to the holy city from important cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi.


Damdami Taksal’s offer to CM, Badal on militancy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
The Damdami Taksal made an offer to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, for a debate on the issue of militancy in the state.

Addressing reporters here today Bhai Mohkam Singh, chief spokesman of the Taksal, said they were ready to sit with the two leaders before any TV channel so that people could know who was responsible for decade-long insurgency. The Taksal made the offer in view of recent statements of Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Badal blaming each other for militancy.

He claimed that both, the Akali and Congress parties, were responsible for militancy in Punjab, which cost thousands of innocent lives. The Taksal asserted that it had documentary proof to pinpoint persons guilty of inciting terrorism. However, he declined to divulge details.

In an appeal to Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to summon the CM and Mr Badal at Akal Takht as both of them had named several Sikhs as terrorists who were endorsed by Akal Takht as ‘martyrs’.

He said both leaders were using the sensitive issue at this juncture to garner votes for the next Assembly election.


SAD workers protest against police atrocities
Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur), August 22
The SAD workers led by the former ministers, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, today organised a protest against the alleged police atrocities. Hundreds of SAD workers gathered at the Darbar Sahib gurdwara.

In the rally, Mr Nirmal Singh Khalon alleged that the Congress workers were attacking the SAD workers at will in the area. In the recent past, some miscreants fired on Parneet Singh Bedi, an advocate, practicing at Batala. However, the police has failed to arrest the accused.

At Rahimabad village the SAD workers were holding a meeting. A group of miscreants owing alliance with the local Congress leaders attacked them. Many of the SAD worker received serious injuries. A few of SAD workers were still getting treatment. The police instead of taking action against the miscreants, it booked those who received injuries.

The local police was acting as stooge of the Congress party rather than an independent force, he alleged.

Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan also alleged that the police had been harassing, the SAD workers at behest of the local Congress leaders. In the last four year, hundreds of false and fabricated cases had been registered against the SAD workers.

If voted to power, the SAD would hold an inquiry against police officers who were acting at the behest of the Congress leaders and victimising the SAD workers, he added.

After the rally, the SAD workers marched through the Dera Baba Nanak town carrying black flags and placards displaying slogans against the Punjab Government. They stopped before the office of the DSP, Dera Baba Nanak, and raised slogans against the Punjab Government and the local Congress leaders.

Mr Balbir Singh Badh was among the other SAD leaders present on the occasion.


Sodhi-Mann feud hots up
Our Correspondent

Phagwara August 22
The factional feud in the ruling Congress here today hotted up with Phagwara Improvement Trust chairman Balbir Raja Sodhi hitting back at the local Congress MLA-cum- Chairman of the Punjab Agro and Foods Corporation, Mr Joginder Singh Mann who had earlier found faults with the functioning of Mr Sodhi and had levelled serious charges of corruption against him.

Addressing a press conference in his office in the presence of many Congress trustees,Mr Sodhi, termed Mr Mann’s allegations as baseless and accused Mr Mann of making sinister attempts to tarnish his image ahead of the Assembly elections.

“I am an aspirant for the party ticket in the coming Assembly elections and Mr Mann can not digest it,” he asserted.

“The June 17 auctions, in which Mr Mann had alleged that I gave benefits of crores of rupees to my associates, loyalists and trustees, were conducted transparently, and videographed in the presence of the authorities, claimed Mr Sodhi.

Trustees Ravinder Kaur Walia, Ramesh Jordan, Hardip Singh Bhamra, and Anita Kaura were also present during the press conference.

Mr Mann had alleged that Mr Sodhi had caused a loss of Rs 15 crore to the government in the auctions for favouring his associates.


Chawla joins SAD (Longowal)
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The SAD (Longowal) headed by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra today got a shot in the arm when Mr Sardar Singh Chawla, a senior leader of SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal joined the party.

Mr Chawla, who made an announcement in connection with his joining SAD (Longowal) in the presence of Mr Chandumajra, said he had taken this decision as Mr Badal had failed to give due honour to the party workers.


Century-old tree cut in name of commercialism
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 22
More than a century-old banyan tree at the Fatehgarh Churian road outside Nirankari colony was cut allegedly to enhance the commercial value of the area.

When The Tribune team visited the spot, a tractor was being used to drag portions of the cut bark and a number of workers had been employed to carry out the activity.

When asked by residents if they (those undertaking the operation) had obtained any permission to cut the tree, they replied that oral permission was taken from a politician of ruling party connected with Municipal Corporation.

Agitated residents then approached the police picket nearby to report the matter but were asked to approach the M C. On not finding any competent authority to report the matter in the corporation, the residents also approached the Forest Department, but to no avail.

With a massive bark nearly five feet in diameter, the tree according to some residents has been here even before Partition and had served generations providing shelter to people. A hand pump was installed here after Partition for thirsty passengers.

The tree was a landmark and its shade spread over 20 feet. The area was referred to as ‘borh wali galli’.

The people engaged in cutting it covered the freshly cut bark with dry leaves and set it afire to make the fresh cuts appear old. The owners could not be contacted for comments. Ironically, a public board stands just below the tree on which is written “Keep the colony green and clean”.

Mr Brij Bedi, president Citizen’s Forum, when approached by residents informed the District Forest Office here today. However, no action was forthcoming till the filing of this report.


Panchayat members threaten to quit
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 22
The Gram Panchayat of Ransinghwala village under Kotkapura block in this district has threatened to resign enmasse in protest against the alleged humiliating attitude meted out to it by police officers of Sadar Kotkapura a few days back.

Giving a representation under the signature of Sarpanch Karam Singh and three members of Panchayats, Gursewak Singh, Bishwinder Singh and Raj Singh, to the SSP, Faridkot, said here today that a resident of Makhan Singh village had some financial dispute with Gurtej Singh and Lakhwinder Singh and the matter was resolved amicably with the intervention of the Gram Panchayat. However later both filed allegedly a false application with the police by levelling false charges against Makhan Singh.

On the complaint, the SHO called Makhan Singh. The Panchayat members and Makhan Singh went to the police station last week and brought the entire matter to the notice of the SHO. But he not only refused to listen to all of them but also humiliated them. Later, the matter brought to the notice of the DSP which also proved futile.

Expressing concern over the matter, the Panchayat members made it clear that if they failed to get justice from the district police chief shortly they would resign to save their honour.

SSP M.F. Farooqui said he had already marked an inquiry in this connection and assured them of justice. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the members of the Panchayat have also submitted a copy of their grievances to the Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, seeking his immediate intervention in the matter.


35 bodies protest against cop’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 22
Protesting against the arrest of Economic Offences Wing’s sub-inspector Mohan Lal by the Vigilance for graft, 35 social, religious and political bodies today took to the city’s streets. The bandh call given by them received an average response with shops downing their shutters till midday.

Activists of various organisations dressed in black attire and holding black buntings took out a protest rally, which culminated at Joginder Singh Chowk after passing through main areas of the city.

The protesters blocked traffic at the chowk for about an hour disrupting traffic flow on Ferozepur-Ludhiana highway and the Moga-Amritsar road. Later, they also staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Addressing the agitators, National Welfare Society’s Rajinder Singh Jaidka, Gurpartap Singh Khosa of SAD (Longowal) and Paviter Singh Kaler of SAD (Amritsar), alleged that the Vigilance had falsely implicated the sub-inspector in a corruption case.

They warned that if the case registered against him was not withdrawn they would intensify their agitation. They demanded that a case be registered against registry clerk Naresh Kumar, who complained against Mohan Lal. The District Administrative Complex Working Union also struck work on the issue.


Hindu saints’ plea to Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
Members of the Khat Darshan Sant Samaj, Punjab, today urged Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to make arrangements for the issuance of an ordinance for vacating those pieces of land which belonged to different religious bodies and were forcibly grabbed after 1950.

About 200 Hindu saints, who assembled here today under the banner of the Khat Darshan Sant Samaj, to launch the first phase of “Religious Land Liberation Struggle”, in a memorandum submitted to Capt Amarinder Singh through Commissioner, Patiala division, pointed out that if the pieces of land belonging to the religious bodies were not given back to them, all the temples would be ruined.

They added that if the state government failed to take action in this regrad, the Sant Samaj would be forced to take necessary steps directly. They said that they would not allow any government to attack the dignity of Hindu religion and its religious places.

Mahant Krishan Das, president of the Samaj, said that the second phase of the “Religious Land Liberation Struggle” would start in October in which President, Vice-President of India, Chief Justices of Supreme Court and Punjab High Court and heads of all political parties would be urged to make arrangements for the protection of the properties attached to the Hindu religious bodies.

Sant Sambhu Nath, general secretary of the Samaj, urged the saints to come out of their religious deras and organise themselves to protect the religious bodies and properties.

The Samaj demanded that all those pieces of lands which were attached with religious bodies should be given the same status in the revenue records by making relevant entries into the same, appointment of Sanskrit teachers in all schools of Punjab to save the language, complete ban on cow slaughter and making new laws to curb the practice of change in the religion.


‘Krishna Leela’ presented
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
Bharatnatyam dancer Saroja Vaidyanathan presented her dance-drama “Krishna Leela” here yesterday.

The participation focused on the parnks Krishna’s flayed with the gopis and Radha.

The dance-drama started with Sneha Venkatramani giving an outline of the presentation. Soon the stage filled with gopis as it transformed into Brajbhoomi.

The gopis wait for Kanha’s arrival and he soon obliges them. They see him everywhere. They get angry at Krishna’s pranks, But Krishna soon soothes everyone with his melodious flute.

In this beautifully choreographed dance-drama, Saroja portrayed Kanha as the joyful cowherd, who loves his moments with the young gopis, making them dance to his tune. Krishna and the gopis exhibited intricate ‘bhavas’ and dance movements.

The dance-drama was first presented in 1999 under an name “Krishnarpanam”. “Krishna Leela” had been presented at Delhi, Patna, Chennai and Chandigarh before this.

Saroja is a prominent Bharatnatyam exponent, who has earn fame as an intelligent and an innovative choreographer.

Her dance repertoire has revolved around subjects ranging from mythology to current social issues.

Saroja established Ganesa Natyalaya in 1974. She is the recipient of various national and state awards, including the Padma Shri in 2002, Delhi State Award in 1991 and Kalaimamani in 1999 (from the Tamil Nadu Government).

The North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala, did well to get a dancer of Saroja’s stature to perform in Patiala but the facilities at the venue, the Central State Library auditorium, hardly did justice to the performance.

The lighting and acoustics were not up to the standard, robbing the audience as well as performers of satisfaction that such a piece would generate.

The audience was also sparse as the auditorium was almost empty.


Security tightened around Bhaniarawala’s dera
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 22
The police today tightened security in and around the dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala in view of his birthday function tomorrow at Nurpur Bedi.

Besides police personnel, a large number of CRPF personnel were deployed in the dera. Various check points were set up between Ropar and Nurpur Bedi.

Even the followers have to prove their identity before entering Nurpur Bedi.

A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, said Gurdeep Singh, a close associate of the main accused in the assassination of Beant Singh, Jagtar Singh Hawara, might make another attempt to eliminate Bhaniarawala.

Gurdeep Singh had proved to useful for Hawara to revive the Babbar Khalsa International network in Punjab after his escape from the jail.

On January 9, Hawara along with Gurdeep Singh and Bota had planted a bomb in the Bhaniarawala’s dera. The official said even Hawara in his confessional statement to the New Delhi police admitted that they had planted the bomb.


Harbans Lal inspects development projects
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, accompanied by the president, officials, contractors and councillors of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, today visited on going development projects in the town and took the first-hand information.

Talking to The Tribune, he said he had inspected various projects to review the cost, status of funds and quality of material being used in the projects. He said he had directed the council officials and urged the councillors to keep a close watch on the projects. He said the Chief Minister would inaugurate these projects.

After inspecting the projects, he appreciated the working of the council president and officials for initiating development works as per satisfaction.

Mr Charanjeev Channa, president of the council assured Mr Lal that quality material would be used and the projects would be completed in time.


Recruit doctors on regular basis, minister urged
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 22
A joint deputation of the Senior Punjab Civil Medical Services Association and the PCMS Association led by their presidents, Dr Y.C. Markan and Dr Hardeep Singh, respectively, met Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, here today and asked him not to recruit 1,374 doctors on contract basis through Zila Parishads. They demanded recruitment of regular doctors through the Punjab Public Service Commission.

Mr Dogra assured the deputation that he would take up this issue with Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab.


BJP seeks ban on sale of drugs
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 22
While expressing concern over the increasing number of youth taking to drugs, the vice-president of the Punjab unit of the Panchayati Raj Cell of the BJP had demanded a complete stoppage of the sale of intoxicating drugs in the state.

While talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Manoj Arora said narcotics were causing widespread harm to the society. He alleged that these were being openly sold in the Kharar area. In fact, chemist shops were even opening in villages for the sale of such drugs. He said the BJP would be starting a campaign against the drug menace at the village level.


8 sentenced to life imprisonment
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, August 22
The District Sessions Judge today sentenced eight members of the truckers’ union to life imprisonment for the murder of a resident in a clash over loading of a truck almost one and half years back.

The eight persons were sentenced in the murder case of Nirmal Singh, also a trucker, from the opponent group. Those convicted are Dalbir Singh, Jarnail Singh, Karnail Singh, Bachitar Singh, Veer Singh, Bakhshish Singh, Joginder Singh of Kapurthala and Jarnail Singh Chaudhary of Nakodar. Shinder Singh, another accused, has been declared proclaimed offender.

The incident had occurred on February 25 last year in the grain market here when the two factions of truck unionists had a bloody scuffle over loading of rice. During the attack, Nirmal Singh, was hit with sharp-edged weapons that led to his death. A case had been registered in this regard by the brother of the victim under Sections 302, 326, 449, 380, 379, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Farmers reject energy bonus
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, August 22
Terming the energy bonus, announced by the Punjab Chief Minister for small farmers, “a political drama and stunt” and “a fraud and cruel joke with farmers”, almost all major kisan unions, including the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), today rejected the energy bonus, by saying that it was not acceptable to them as it did not fulfil the promises, made with the farmers by the Congress in its manifesto during the Assembly elections in the state.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone today, senior leaders of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), the BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur), the BKU (Rajewal), the BKU (Lakhowal), and the BJP Kisan Morcha rejected the energy bonus while a senior leader of the Punjab Kisan Sabha (CPI) rejected the energy bonus partially. A majority of leaders linked the announcement of the energy bonus for the small farmers with the ensuing elections to the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), said his organisation had rejected the idea of energy bonus of Rs 300 per month for the small farmers. It was a fraud with the farmers as the farmers would have to deposit their power bills first, then they would get the bonus after every six months through arhtiyas. He said the state government should supply free power to all farmers, except big landlords having hundreds of acres.

Mr Ruldu Singh Mansa, senior vice-president of the BKU (Sidhupur), Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the BKU (Rajewal), Mr Satwant Singh Punia, vice-president of the All-India Kisan Morcha of the BJP, also rejected the energy bonus.

KAPURTHALA: Demanding a hike in minimum support price for the kharif crops, the Bharti Kisan Union held a massive rally here today.

The members also demanded that the rate of interest at which they were offered loans should not be more than 4 per cent.


Energy bonus policy more rational: experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
Policy of ‘energy bonus’ could be the ‘second best’ policy which is more rational than free electricity supply. However, some more steps were needed, said economists Dr. R.S. Bawa, Registrar and a senior professor, Dr P.S. Raikhy of the Punjab School of Economics of Guru Nanak Dev University while commenting upon recently announced energy bonus policy by the Punjab government.

They opined said this policy of energy bonus could be the second best policy whereas providing free electricity was against basic economic principles and amounted to playing tricks with these principles.

They suggested that farmers having diesel engines might also be provided ‘energy bonus’ so as to lighten their burden. Also, the flat rate supply to agriculture should be converted into metered supply, to prevent wastage of electricity / water and ensure accounting and assessment of theft.

They said the big farmer lobby was likely to oppose the policy for their selfish interest.


Hardcore criminal back in police net
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 22
He was one of the most-wanted criminals in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan and was in the custody of Barnala police masquerading as Swaran Singh, alias Jassi, a resident of Khankhana village in Banga.

Declared PO in all the above states, he ran away from the custody of the Faridkot police last year. But, his luck ran out of favour and the police got hold of him again after a secret tip-off.

Police sources said Gurbaksh Singh, a resident of Balbir Basti, Faridkot, was arrested for killing his friend during a brawl in his college days. He was sentenced to 20-year imprisonment. Last year he managed to give the police a slip when he was being produced in the court.

Later, he killed a teacher who had got engaged to his fiancé. The Ludhiana police arrested him, but he escaped again. Police sources said he was also involved in a robber of Rs 4.4 lakh in Kaithal. He came in contact with Amrik Singh in Ludhiana jail who too fled away. Both of them joined hands to begin opium trade.

Not satisfied with their earnings, they got into making fake currency. Police sources said differences cropped up between the two as Amrik had not revealed the location of fake currency printing machine to Gurbaksh. He parted ways with Amrik and shifted his base to Khuddi village in Barnala.

He started selling opium once again along with his four-five aides. He was caught by Sahna police with half a kg opium. Following his arrest, he identified himself as Swaran Singh, alias Jassi, of Khankhana village in Banga.

On the directions of the SSP, Mr MF Farooqui, the DSP (D) Mr Bakhshish Singh got in touch with Swaran’s lawyer.

The DSP (D) reached Barnala and brought him back to Faridkot after his identification. He revealed that Gurbaksh was involved in a number of criminal activities in three states and his interrogation was on.


Inspector held for killing daughter
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 22
The police today arrested Jaswinder Singh, industry inspector posted at Moga, who, allegedly under the influence of liquor, shot his daughter Sharanjit Kaur (19) at Kotkapura yesterday.

A gun and six cartridges were also seized from him. A case under Section 302, IPC, and Sections under 27/54/59, Arms Act, has been registered against him.

Disclosing this here today, the district police chief M.F. Farooqui said the accused, after consuming liquor, used to quarrel with family members.

In another murder case, the police has arrested five persons who were allegedly involved in hatching a conspiracy in the killing of a person at Doad village in Jaito about two weeks back. They have been identified Lakhveer Singh, Lachhman Singh and Surjit Singh all from Kameana village and Gurmel Singh and Sukhmander Singh of Malke and Rattirori villages. A Zen (HR 20 F-9721), a Jeep (DL 8-C, 4159) along with 12 bore gun used by them in the murder case, were seized from them. Sixth accused Mukhtiar Singh was still absconding.

In a press note here today, the SSP said Uttam Singh, a resident of Doad village, accompanied by his father Jugraj Singh killed their neighbourer Gurpiar Singh with a sharp-edged weapon on August 12.

Later accused Uttam Singh hatched a conspiracy with their help to save himself and his father. Under the plan, he got his left hand injured with a gun shot fired by Lachhman Singh with an intention to involve the deceased Gurpiar Singh in this regard. Later, he was admitted to the Civil Hospital at Kotkapura. However, his father Jugraj Singh was arrested and sent in the jail.


Doctor couple booked for cheating
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, August 22
Dr Rajinder Singh Boparai, head of the orthopaedic ward, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Government Hospital, and his wife, Dr Gian Kaur, were taken to Mohali from here late last evening in connection with a case lodged against them there.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Virdi, a resident of Mohali, had lodged a complaint alleging that Dr Boparai and his wife had cheated him in a property case. A case under Section 420, 406, 120-B IPC has been registered at Mohali.

However, they were released after a compromise between two parties. Dr Boparai while talking to The Tribune claimed that he had not committed any crime as it was just a communication gap due to which some misunderstanding had occurred.

The complainant had alleged that a deal had been arrived at regarding the sale of the plot belonging to the couple. He alleged that they prepared required documents.

Dr Boparai said his wife had inherited a plot from her mother in Sector 70 at Mohali. He said this plot was sold to Mr Jaswinder Singh. However, he remained busy in a court case in the Supreme Court regarding the PMET controversy and therefore registry was delayed. He said he had not even drawn out the money from the draft given by Jaswinder. Jaswinder also confirmed this on the telephone from Mohali.

Dr Boparai and his wife had to remain at the police station for questioning before being taken to Mohali.

Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, SP city, said the Mohali police reached late last evening and took them to Mohali.


Satta operators arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
The district police has unearthed a scandal of satta operators by arresting lottery sellers at Bassi Pathana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Amloh.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, stated in a press note here today that the police got information that certain anti-social elements, who were earlier working as satta operators, had adopted a noble method to run this illegal activity under the guise of Punjab State Lottery.

He said the accused had installed lottery computers of the state Lottery Department. Instead of issuing computerised lottery tickets to the customers, they used to get money from them and book their numbers orally and if the same number comes they used to pay causing a loss of revenue to the department.

He said the police had registered 157 cases and arrested 164 criminals. The police had also recovered Rs 88778.


3 of family found dead
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 22
Three persons, Gopal Singh, his wife, Sukhwinder Kaur, and his brother’s wife, Sarbjit Kaur, were found dead at their house in Behluwal village under mysterious circumstances, police sources said here today.

The police has sent the bodies for a post-mortem examination. Gopal Singh has left behind two minor children.


Poverty drives man to suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
Sick of his poor economic conditions, Jarnail Singh, a resident of Dharamkot village near Harike Pattan, committed suicide by driving his Jeep into the Rajasthan feeder at Harike yesterday. A PAP jawan found a diary and purse near the spot, which he gave to the police. In the diary, Jarnail Singh had written that his poor economic condition was forcing him to commit suicide.


2 arrested for sale of spurious kerosene
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 22
The district police has arrested two residents of Ludhiana in connection with the sale of spurious kerosene here today.

The police intercepted a tanker (HR-45-2175) from Football Chowk and recovered a tanker full of spurious kerosene. The police has arrested Ashok Kumar, truck driver, and Major Singh, cleaner, of the truck. A case has been registered against the two under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.


Financial aid for Guru Angad Dev varsity
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 22
The Punjab Government will extend all financial support to the newly set-up Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and it will be made a world-class university.

This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, who visited Ludhiana to hold a meeting with senior officials of the Punjab Agricultural University and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University on the PAU campus. The Tribune had highlighted the financial problems of the new university today. Mr Kang told The Tribune that the Chief Minister had promised financial support to the new university. There was no dispute over the distribution of assets and liabilities.

The new university would have land measuring more than 125 acres which would be used for research and building of the infrastructure.

He said the office of the Vice-Chancellor of the university would be located in the immunology building and would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister next month.

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