P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Mysterious disease grips 24 children
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 28
Panic has gripped the city and the surrounding areas with the spread of a mysterious disease in Beed Imamgarh village near here.

About 24 children are suffering from this mysterious disease while Harwinder Singh, a class second student died due to this diseases a few days ago. His brother Aman Deep Singh is also suffering from the disease.

A team of six officials, including Dr Surjeet Singh, SMO, Fathehgarh Panjgrian and Dr Narinder Kumar, Medical Officer, was sent to Beed Imamgarh to collect slides from the area. According to Mr K.C. Goyal, District Health Officer, Sangrur, about 15 slides were collected from this area and these would be sent for further examination.

Dr K.S. Khurana, officiating SMO, said they had not received any official information about this disease so they had no right to visit and collect samples from this area. He said no other patient except one suffering from diarrhoea and gastroenteritis admitted to the Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, from Beed Imamgarh village.

According to information this mysterious disease spread due to dirty water accumulated near the school of the village. No step had been taken by any authority in this regard till now.

Mr Munish Jindal, president, Malerktola Welfare Association, demanded immediate treatment of the affected children. He also asked the district authorities to take necessary action against the erring officials responsible for the neglect.

He said as the post of child specialist is lying vacant in Malerkotla Civil Hospital due to which the children of the area are suffering from these types of diseases.


CPI to review performance from Sept 19 to 21
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
To review the political and organisational performance of party during the past three years and chalk out its future line in view of the changing political scenario, the Punjab unit of the CPI will organise its three-day state conference from September 19 to September 21 in Desh Bhagat Yadgari Hall at Jalandhar. The conference will be attended by more than 300 delegates from all parts of the state.

Disclosing this here yesterday, Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary of the CPI, further said the main aim of the party was to fight against “anti-people” policies, including economic policies under the WTO, of the UPA government at the Centre and the Punjab Government. He said the CPI also refuted this allegation that the Left were against the changes in the economic policies. He said the Left only wanted that these policies should be “pro-people”, not “anti-people”.

Dr Dayal also said the CPI not only wanted the unity of the Left, but also the unity of all Communists. He said on the other hand, the CPI was also of the view that the unity of secular forces was must to defeat the communal forces.

Dr Dayal also said the suicides by farmers were being committed because per acre agriculture income was declining continuously. Besides, neither remunerative minimum support price (MSP) of the crops nor subsidies on the agriculture inputs were being provided to the farmers. Likewise, industrialists had closed 85,000 small and medium industrial units during the past 15 years in Punjab due to which about 10 lakh persons had faced unemployment , he added.

Dr Dayal also criticised the Amarinder government by saying that, development activities had stalled in every field, especially in the education and health sectors, due to which unrest was prevailing everywhere.


‘Crusader’ happy with Nanavati report
Tribune News Service

Sekhwan (Gurdaspur), August 28
Though many are flaying it, the person who spearheaded the struggle to bring the guilty to book in the 1984 riots case is satisfied with the Nanavati Commission report.

Addressing a seminar on the 1984 riots at Sekwan village here on Friday, Mr H.S. Phulka said he was satisfied with the Nanavati Commission report The report had corrected the “glaringly false facts” presented by commissions constituted earlier to probe the circumstances leading to the riots.

In the report of a commission constituted earlier, it was stated that the riots were sparked off by a mob that got infuriated at seeing a section of people distributing sweets to celebrate the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

However, the Nanavati Commission had set the facts right by concluding that the riots were planned by some Congress leaders. “Now that the commission has endorsed the truth, I am satisfied that at least correct facts will go into history regarding the riots,” Mr Phulka said.

He thanked leaders of Left parties for exerting pressure on the government and securing the resignations of a Union Minister, Mr Jagdish Tytler, and a senior Congress leader, Mr Sajjan Kumar.

The seminar was organised by the Minorities and Dalit Front of India. The president of the Front and former SAD minister, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, critised the Congress for failing to bring the accused in the riots case to book. Thinking that the people had forgotten the massacre carried out 20 years ago by its leaders, the Congress had once again awarded them with plum postings. This clearly illustrated the mindset of the Congress towards those killed in the riots, he added.


Durgiana panel seeks more aid for terror victims
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 28
Victims of militancy in the state should be provided with the same relief and facilities as provided to the families of the victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

This was stated by Mr Surinder Arjun, President, Durgiana committee, while addressing mediapersons here today.

Mr Arjun, who had been nominated patron of the All-India Terrorist Victims Association, said people affected by the terrorism should be given the status and facilities of freedom fighters by the government as they had sacrificed their lives to uphold the independence and integrity of the nation.

He said during 24 years of terrorism 32,415 families in the state had been affected, including 10,392 widows. He said a commission should be set up to look into the causes, which resulted in terrorism in the state.

He said at present each family was getting a pension of Rs 2,500, government job to a member of the family and Rs 25,000 for the marriage of girls. He said the state government should immediately allot residential flats and commercial sites to the families.

Dr B. R. Hastir, chairman of the association, said they had unanimously decided to nominate the president of the committee as its patron. He said that they were not demanding anything extra from the government and they were demanding only the facilities that had been promised by the Centre in 1988.


Ludhiana denied air link with Delhi
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 28
Ludhiana, the industrial capital of Punjab is not being linked by air when it has a great potential for passenger traffic and cargo. The state government has been contemplating a green field international airport at Ladowal near here. Even this proposal is now not being pursued vigorously and a part of the Ladowal seed farm is being given a well-known cellular service company for undertaking agricultural operations. The state government is understood to have agreed to lease out 300 acres under possession of the Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation for three years.

Ludhiana has an airport at Sahnewal with a ranway of 2480 ft and air service between Ludhiana and Delhi existed in 1982. The air link was established with the efforts of the then Chief Minister, Mr Darbara Singh, and Vayudoot, a subsidiary of Indian Airlines, launched Avro-service in the morning and evening. Later this service was connected with Chandigarh too. Both morning and evening flights were operating to full capacity of 50 seats. It took a little over one hour for the flight to reach Delhi. Later Vayudoot was merged with Indian Airlines and the latter did not show much interest in continuing the air services. The setback to the air services came when the railways introduced the Shatabdi from Amritsar to Delhi twice daily and local businessmen preferred to travel by the same. At the same time, the state authorities also did not take much interest in the modernisation of the airport and militancy in the state forced an end to the air service.

Now when the state is peaceful and the state government should have taken the initiative of restarting the air service between Ludhiana and the national capital two successive governments in Punjab have not taken any steps to start the air services.

Once again there is a demand for establishing an air link between Ludhiana and the national Capital. The resumption of air services will help in boosting the export of industrial goods besides cargo will be available for movement within the country. Besides, Ludhiana being the central hub can feed the NRIs of Doaba and Malwa. The NRIs of Doaba are mostly settled in the UK, Canada and European countries while the Malwai NRIs are working in the Middle East, USA, Europe and Far East countries. The capital of Punjab industries has a dry port also and at present the export consignments are sent to Amritsar for onward journey to foreign countries.

Enquiries made by The Tribune show that there is need for launching Boeing services from Ludhiana and for that the runway has to be expanded to 6500 ft. Moreover, industrialists want that the flight should take about half an hour and the air fare should also range between Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 for Delhi.

At present Ludhiana airport is being used for chartered flights and with the expansion of the runway and provision of landing and navigational aids, the night operations can also be started. Meanwhile the flying club at Ludhiana airport has come to a halt and no activities are taking place thanks to the lukewarm attitude of the state government. As a matter of fact, the flying clubs at Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala have become non-operational due to the indifference of the state government. At one time Ludhiana Flying Club used to be the best flying club in India and was having as many as 3500 hours of flying in a year. The Ludhiana Flying Club has trained as many as 177 as private pilot licences and 110 as commercial pilots from 1983 to 2000. The pilots trained by Ludhiana Flying Club are now working in Air India, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara Airways.

The flying activity in Punjab came to a halt with the stoppage of subsidy by the Government of India in 2001. The death of Mr Karminderra Singh, Civil Aviation Adviser, also resulted in the halting of the flying activities in Punjab.

Now students are going to foreign countries for pilot training. A commercial pilot training license costs Rs 9 lakh in India with a training of two to three years. But with the same amount, they can get training and commercial pilot license in a period of six to eight months. In foreign countries, they get training on multi-engine aircraft while in India, they get training on single engine plane.

There is a demand for revival of the flying activities in Punjab and the same should be spruced up for training of the Punjabi youth. There is a good scope for pilots as India requires nearly 500 pilots at present since private airlines are expanding their area of operations.

Air Decan airlines has shown interest in Ludhiana and proposes to start the Ludhiana-Delhi air service by the end of this year.


Youth made to work as ‘khadam’ in Kuwait
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 28
The son of a former BSNL employee, Mr Gurpinder Singh was not only duped by one of his relatives from Panjgrain village, near Kotkapura, on the pretext of sending him abroad, but also forced to work as “khadam” in a house at Kuwait. His father reportedly died of shock on June 8.

According to a complaint made to senior officers concerned, Mr Jaspal Singh, a relative of the victim, had been settled at Kuwait since 2001. He had come to Kotkapura to attend a marriage and reportedly introduced himself as a supervisor of a Kuwait-based company.

He allegedly offered Mr Gurpinder Singh visa to Kuwait and a job there for a payment of Rs 1.5 lakh.

The complainant said the demanded amount had been paid to Mr Jaspal Singh at Manawa village in Moga district in the presence of their relatives. Jaspal Singh visited Abohar along with his father and allegedly took Rs 30,000 from Gurpinder against travel expenses for the journey to Kuwait.

On reaching Kuwait the Gurpinder realised that he had been allowed entry to Kuwait on a “khadam” visa and was not entitled for a job at any shop or company office. Such migrants were not allowed under the law to move out freely.

He passed six months there working as “khadam” and requested his parents in India to send Rs 15,000 for his return journey.

His mother had taken Rs 50,000 loan from the provident fund and sold off his STD PCO to arrange money for sending her son abroad.

The police said Jaspal Singh had denied allegations but confirmed that he was instrumental in taking Gurpinder to Kuwait.


PIDB to replace brick arch bridges over UBDC
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 28
The row over replacing the damaged brick arch brides over the Kasoor branch of the UBD canal has been settled. The bridges would now be constructed by Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB).

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD (B&R), gave this information while talking to The Tribune here today. He said the PIDB would start the work of the construction of the bridges near Tibri on the Mukerian-Gurdaspur road very soon. The work was likely to be completed within eight months at an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore.

The Chief Engineer, PIDB, Mr Kuldeep Singh, visited the site of construction along with the team of experts today. He said the design of the bridges was being prepared in consultation with the Irrigation Department. As per the initial estimates, bridges would be 12-metre wide with crash barriers.

The PIDB would have to seek clearance from the Irrigation Department for stopping the canal before starting the construction of the bridges. The water in the branches of the canal would have to be stopped for at least 40 days for the construction of the bridges, he said.

Mr Kuldeep Singh said the proposal to impose a toll on the 22-km Mukerian-Gurdaspur stretch had been sent to the PIDB. The toll as per the government norms of 35 paise per km would be imposed soon on the road.

The traffic on the Mukerian-Gurdaspur road has been affected since one pillar of the over 100-year-old brick arch bridge over the UBDC near Tibri got damaged. After repairing the pillar, the Irrigation Department had stopped plying of heavy traffic over the road. This posed problems for the passengers.

This also posed problems for the farmers carrying their cane to the Mukerian sugar mill and other crops to mandis.

The authorities of the PWD and Irrigation Department shifted the onus of constructing the bridges on each other. The PWD maintained that since initial brick arch bridges were construction by the Irrigation Department they should take up the onus of replacing them. The Irrigation authorities, on the other hand, maintained that the bridge had become part of the state highway and should now be constructed by the PWD.


SGPC sets up Mai Bhago Dal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Bibi Jagir Kaur, today announced the formation of the Mai Bhago Dal to fight the menace of drugs and social evils in Punjab.

Talking to reporters here, she said women would be leaders of the dal which shall visit villages and small towns to educate people about the ill-effects of drugs and other social evils. Bibi Jagir Kaur said women had always played an important role whenever a society underwent change. Quoting from history, she specifically referred to Mai Bhago and Bibi Nanki who had played important roles in transforming society.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said the decision to allow women to do sewa and kirtan in gurdwaras would be enforced. The decision to allow women to do so was taken in 1945, However, it was not implemented. “I have just implemented an old decision,” said Bibi Jagir Kaur.

A decision on the women’s dress while they carried Palki in the Golden Temple would be taken collectively by the Jathedars of all Takhts.

The SGPC had also asked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, now on a visit to Afghanistan, to take up the matter regarding the upkeep of gurdwaras damaged during the Taliban rule with the Afghanistan government.


Dullo equivocates queries over terror panel
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, was today at his ambiguous best while answering questions about the government proposal to set up a commission to probe the incidents of violence during militancy in Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here in connection with the preparations for the 10th death anniversary of late Beant Singh, Mr Dullo said, he had made the demand and it was upto the Chief Minister to constitute the commission.

He said the CM had already said that the modalities were being worked out. However, he evaded questions about the reports that the government had decided to abandon the idea of such a commission.

But the PPCC president hastened to add, everybody knows who was responsible for the spread of terrorism in Punjab and who created suicide bombers. “Everybody knows who did it”, he asserted, while blaming the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the former SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, for the terrorism in Punjab.

He blamed them for the assassination of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal after he signed an accord for peace with late Rajiv Gandhi. He claimed it was Mr Badal and Mr Tohra who went to the bhog ceremony of the terrorist who had killed Sant Longowal.


Security tightened at Rajasansi
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi, August 28
The international airport here had been put on high alert for any kind of emergency landing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s aircraft from early morning today.

This would be the first aircraft of the Prime Minister in 29 years that would have passed over the city here on visit to Afghanistan.

As many as 250 personnel of the Punjab Police along with 184 of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were deputed at the airport for emergency arrangements. The frisking of passengers and their guests was intensified.

Mr R.R. Puri, Assistant Commandant, CISF, said the administration, local police and airport security were coordinating on all matters related to protocol or emergency following PM’s visit.


Congress grass bane of Phagwara residents
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 28
Like every year, the rain has brought with it the problem of congress grass and like every year the nagar council (NC), Phagwara, has failed to check the menace.

The failure of the civic body to destroy the weed has led to aggravation of sneezing, wheezing and allergic rashes on account of parthenium. Service lanes, parks, vacant plots and road berms in the city are covered with congressgrass.

The situation is more severe for asthmatic children as playing in the park can trigger off attack. “There is a 15 per cent increase in the number of children affected with asthma who are suffering from aggravated problems and fresh attacks. On an average we are seeing three cases daily in our hospital, which have now increased to nearly seven,” said a doctor at a private hospital in Hargobind Nagar.

A visit to various localities by this reporter revealed that the service lanes, vacant grounds, road berms and parks in the Professor Colony, Guru Nanakpura, Guru Harkishan Nagar, Prempura and Satnampura localities were covered with congress grass.

Roop Lal, a shopkeeper in Prempura, said: “The open space in the area, which was earlier used as a playground by children, has virtually been abandoned since it is not possible to walk even. Many representations have been given to the civic officials but in vain.”

Executive Officer of the nagar council Jagir Singh Thind says, “NC’s manual labour is working overtime to remove the grass from parks and service lanes. The main problem is that it grows back within a week. Another problem is that the civic body has limited staff to deal with the situation, which worsens during monsoon.”


Phagwara bus stand to have new look
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

PHAGWARA: The bus stand here will soon have a new look.

“The engineering wing of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) will undertake the construction work for which Rs 2 crore has been cleared. The new bus stand will have an ultra-modern look. It will be completed by the end of this year,” said Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman of the PRTC.

The present bus stand, built in 1985, is not able to cope with the manifold increase of buses and the passenger traffic.

The structure was reportedly meant to handle 300 buses and 10,000 passengers daily. However, currently around 700 buses ply from the bus stand daily while the number of passengers has crossed 20,000.

The bus stand lacks a proper drainage system. Water collects on the premises even after a light rain causing inconvenience to passengers.

The new bus stand will handle around 1,000 buses and more than 30,000 passengers daily.

“The PRTC will acquire 100 new buses by the end of the year”, Mr Gupta said.

He said the PRTC would undertake work on building the bodies of the new buses at its workshops. This would lead to a saving of Rs 50,000 per bus to the corporation.


Ex-soldier’s disability pension reduced
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Twenty years after he was boarded out of service on medical grounds, a 60-year-old disabled soldier, Dharam Chand, came in for a rude shock. Not only has his disability pension drastically reduced, but orders have been issued by the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) for recovery of the difference between his earlier and revised pension.

Sepoy Dharam Chand, a resident of Bajwara Kalan village near Hoshiarpur, had served for almost 14 years as a driver with the Army Service Corps (ASC). During the course of his duty, he had met with a serious accident at Jalandhar in December, 1974, and suffered multiple fractures. As a result of his injuries, the length of this right leg got reduced by about three inches.

He was treated at the Military Hospital, Jalandhar, and then also at an Army hospital in Delhi for a long time. After having been placed in low medical category, he tried to perform his duties, but was boarded out on medical grounds.

In December, 1982, a Release Medical Board certified 50 per cent disability and recommended disability pension accordingly. Several Resurvey Medical Boards, held thereafter, maintained the same scale of disability.

In March, 2002, the Medical Adviser on Pension attached with the CDA reduced the quantum of disability from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, which was conveyed to him by the ASC records office. Orders have also been issued to banks to recover the excess amount paid since then.

For Dharam Chand, it is a cruel blow. Presently working as a class-IV employee in a government concern, he has three daughters and two sons. “It is difficult to get along,” he said. “My disability has not changed the same and now the government has added to my woes,” he said.

“It is total injustice being done,” president of the Ex-servicemen’s Grievances Cell, Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi (retd), said. “If the length of his leg, which was reduced, remains the same since he was discharged from hospital, then how can the quantum of disability be reduced,” he asked.

He has now taken up Dharam Chand’s case with Army Headquarters and the CDA for restoration of his original pension. “Ministry of Defence rulings say that the findings of the Release Medical Board, comprising senior medical officers and specialists, are final and binding and that the CDA has no powers to change them,” he added.


Amitoj’s poems live after him
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune news Service


Chandigarh, August 28
The news of the passing away of Amitoj, one of the finest poets of Punjabi in the post-Shiv Kumar Batalvi phase reached the city at dusk today, casting gloom in the wide circle of friends and admirers. Amitoj, who passed away at the Civil Hospital, Jalandhar, at mid-day following a prolonged illness, was cremated there in the afternoon.

“We have lost a very fine poet and the only consolation we have is that his poems will live after him,” said photographer Diwan Manna paying a tribute to the late poet who was once the star of literary circles in the city. A contemporary of poets Surjit Patar, Avtar Paash and Manjit Tiwana, Amitoj was in a way among the first poets of the city for his talent blossomed in the late Sixties when he was doing his masters in Punjabi literature in Panjab University. He later obtained his doctorate from the same university and taught in the Department of Bhai Vir Singh Studies in Comparative Literature and later at the Department of Indian Theatre.

During the liberation war for Bangladesh in 1971, Amitoj had written a poem called ‘Roshanara’, as a tribute to a Dhaka University student who was crushed to death by a Pakistani tank. This poem was released nationwide on the UNI ticker and widely appreciated. Remembering him fondly as a friend, Satya Gautam, Professor of Philosphy, JNU, said: “He was a good friend and he lived a life full of the theatre of emotion. He brought fresh craft to Punjabi poetry. Painter Malkit Singh said, “He wrote great poetry in a fresh idiom and many of his poems were inspired by the city of Chandigarh.”

Amitoj’s famous lines on Chandigarh include, ‘The magic of stones of the city is such/ That whoever comes here builds a prison around himself.’ In another memorable poem he had described himself as another war prisoner caged ‘in the most beautiful city of Asia.’ He is also remembered for his evocative theatre songs and adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Caucatian Chalk Circle’ into Punjabi, which he did with poet Amarjit Chandan. His circle of friends in the city included late Hindi poet Kumar Vikal, late journalist Shaukin Singh and singer Kamal Tewari, who set his lyrics to music. Amitoj’s single book of verse, ‘Khali Tarkash’ ensures his place in the history of contemporary Punjabi poetry.


Mukti Day to be observed on Aug 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
The All-India Tapriwas and Vimukt Jatis Federation will observe its 54th Annual Mukti Day at Ganna Pind near Phillaur on August 31.

According to the president, Gyani Nirmal Singh, although India got freedom on August 15, 1947, the Vimukt Jatis, previously referred to as criminal tribes, numbering 193 and having a population of 20 crore were set free on August 31, 1952.

Some of the Jatis include Sansi, Bauria, Banjara (Bazigar), Barrar, Bangali, Nut, Gandhila Mahtam (Rai Sikh), Nayak (Heri), Bhedkut, Kuchband, Sapera and Dheha amongst others.

In memory of the repealment of the Emergency Act (Criminal Tribes Act 1871) the 54th Annual Mukti Day is being held. The Special Legislation of 1871 had been enacted to restrict the movement of these Jatis by the British and special jails had been built for them.


Doctors apprised of advances in surgery
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 28
A national symposium on clinical research and recent advances in surgery was organised by the local Surgeons Society yesterday in which around 350 delegates from northern India participated.

Dr Ram Kumar Raghupathy, president, Indian Association of Paediatric Surgeons, Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), explained the need for clinical research.

Dr Daljit Singh, Professor (Neurosurgery), G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, discussed the role of endoscopic surgery for the treatment of hydrocephalus, a congenital condition of newborn with excessive amount of fluid in their brain. The operation could be done in three or seven minutes now, he added.

Dr K. L. N. Rao, Professor and Head of Paediatric Surgery, PGI, Chandigarh, advocated the simple endoscopic injection treatment with very successful results in difficult to manage condition of vesicoureteral reflux which is very common in small children.

Dr H. S. Sachdeva, president, Surgeons Society, said the symposium had been recognised by the Punjab Medical Council.


Health Secretary to meet doctors today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
Taking note of the resentment by Punjab Government doctors over the issue of interpretation of the government order by the Finance Department, the Health Secretary, Punjab, Mr Darbara Singh Guru, will meet a joint delegation of various bodies of Punjab Government doctors at Chandigarh tomorrow.

Disclosing this here today, Dr D.C. Sharma, general secretary, Senior Punjab Civil Medical Services Association, said the meeting had been fixed to discuss the confusion over the interpretation of the notification issued by the Punjab Government on June 1, 2004. The notification deals with the calculation of the non-practising allowance (NPA) to the government doctors on the new component of dearness pay.

Representatives of various Punjab Government doctors’ bodies, including the Senior PCMS Association, Punjab State Medical Teachers Association, In-service wing of the Punjab branch of the Indian Medical Association and the PCMS Association, would participate in the meeting.


Demonstration against arrest of 2 residents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 28
Congress workers led by a councillor from Arya Nagar held a demonstration at the Municipal Town hall here against the arrest of two residents of the locality who were on a motor cycle at 2.30 am.

Two councillors had earlier led a deputation to old police station to convince the SHO that those nabbed during the night on Friday in Nai Abadi were innocent.

The deputation met DSP Narinderpal Singh, who was presiding over a meeting at the hall, after shouting slogans against the police and members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) who had handed over the motor cyclists to the police.

The Congress workers demanded action against the TSU activists for nabbing the motor cyclists. They argued that both of them were returning home after paying obeisance at temples on Janmashtami.

The TSU activists rebutted their claim, saying that all temples had shut down before 12 p.m. and the motor cyclists were nabbed while roaming in suspicious position.

The residents of upper area of Nai Abadi had started “theekri pehra” after spate of thefts.

The residents had some relief after resorting to the" theekri" pehra system but their first "caches" were termed as innocent by workers of the ruling Congress, they said.


I have been implicated, says Saifdipur
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 28
Social activist Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, against whom an excise case was slapped yesterday for allegedly smuggling nearly 200 bottles of the IMFL into the city, has claimed that he has been implicated at the behest of a minister and a rival wine contractor.

In a press note, Saifdipur claimed that the stock of the IMFL was confiscated on the outskirts of the town on the Patiala- Sangrur road and later brought to his farmhouse near Punjabi University from where it was shown as confiscated.

Saifdipur, who had shot into prominence when he opened free ration shops which have been recently closed down allegedly by his `political rivals’, claimed that a minister had pressurised the district administration to close down the free ration shops. He added that this resulted in loss to nearly 4500 poor and underprivileged families across the city who used to take free ration from these shops.

Saifdipur, who is also the president of a social organisation, International Bhau Bhaichara, added that a rival liquor contractor was land in glove with the minister and both of them had launched a campaign to pressurise the local cops to implicate him in several false cases.


Yoga camp held for jail inmates
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 28
A week-long yoga camp organised by the Family Welfare Health Club and Bhartiya Yoga Sansthan, Ropar, with a view to reforming the jail inmates of Sub-Jail, Ropar, concluded here today. As many as 18 inmates participated in the camp.

The aim of the camp was to improve the inmates and give them time for self- realisation to overcome their shortcomings, said the Chairman of District Hospital Welfare Society, Ms Kiran Garewal, who managed the camp activities.

She said such camps would be regularly organised in the jail so that the inmates are reformed and live a better life after the completion of their imprisonment, she added.


Thousands to attend Usha Mata’s funeral
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
Thousands of devotees of Maha Mandleshwar Usha Mata Ji, who left for heavenly abode, thronged Bassi Pathana to participate in the last rites as her mortal remains would be consigned to flames at “ Dera Tapovan Sachkhand Dawar” at Bassi Pathana tomorrow at 10 am.

Her body would be brought from Delhi and hundreds of saints from different sects from all over the country would attend her funeral.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Gora Lal Jhanjhi, a follower of Usha Mata, said with the help of administration and police, arrangements have been made for the langar, parking and other facilities for the devotees.


Theft accused sent to judicial lock-up
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 28
The Phagwara police reportedly arrested a person for stealing a car from Singla Market and he was sent to the judicial lock-up here on Friday on the orders of Judicial Magistrate.

According to sources, the accused has been identified as Lal Bahadur, son of Nasib Chand, a resident of Sarafan Mohalla in Rahon subdivision of Nawanshahr district.

He was nabbed by the Ludhiana police along with the vehicle. He was brought to Phagwara on production warrant by the city police.


Sheath blight strikes paddy in Moga
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
Sheath blight has taken away smiles from the faces of paddy growers in different pockets of the district.

Sources said in some villages losses to the extent of over 50 per cent had come to light, taking the total loss to over 1,000 acres. Gurratan Singh, a resident of one of the worst-hit villages, Kadahewala, said the total paddy spread over 800 acres, blight had hit the crop on 300 acres. He said the disease was spreading fast and it had inflicted paddy in a large area in a short span of time.

In absence of proper guideline, nervous farmers resorted to spraying different pesticides, but it could not revive their crop. Another farmer Jagsir Singh rued that when they called up Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) experts for advice for tackling blight they didn’t get any satisfactory reply. A group of farmers said blight had even affected paddy varieties recommended by PAU.

They said varieties like PR116 and PUSA44 were the worst hit, while PR111 was still safe. Joginder Singh of the same village said he had sprayed pesticides worth Rs 250 per acre, but to no avail.

On the other hand, agricultural experts said blight could only hit paddy crop when excessive urea was used. But the farmers said they had stuck to the university’s recommendation on this point. Apart from Kadahewala, Bariwala, Maujewala, and Bangi Patra, blight had spread to about 24 other villages in the district. Farmers of blight-hit villages are now demanding girdawari and subsequent relief for damages.

The Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr Kashmir Singh, attributed the spread of disease to considerable difference in temperatures of day and night. He said spraying pesticides was no solution to sheath blight. He said the farmers should instead stop watering their crop and wait for weather conditions to change.


800 rice shellers to remain closed during paddy season
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
In protest against the alleged anti-rice miller policies of the government, owners of about 800 rice shellers in Sangrur district will keep their rice-shellers closed during the ensuing paddy season.

Giving this information here this afternoon, Mr Parmod Kumar Modi, vice-president of the Sangrur District Rice Millers Association, said the decision had been taken at a meeting of the association held under the presidentship of Mr Prem Kumar Dirba, district unit president, here.

Mr Modi said as per the decision of the association, the rice millers would not store the paddy of government agencies during the ensuing paddy season in their respective rice shellers till the government officials withdrew the recovery notices (related to rate of gunny bags, etc) issued to owners of rice shellers.

Moreover, they asked the state government to pay an amount of Rs 300 crore received by it from the Central Government for the storage and maintenance of the paddy to them.


Tension prevails as group clash leaves 8 hurt
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar August 28
Even as tension still grips the Neelamahl and Dhogri localities in the aftermath of an armed clash and subsequent stoning between the two groups on Saturday night, in which eight youths were injured, the police has booked five persons and arrested two others for creating the trouble.

The late night incident on Saturday had almost acquired the communal colour but the situation was saved from deterioration by the intervention of the police.

The incident took place when some youths of the Neelamahl locality tried to dissuade a group of youths from eve-teasing a religious place situated in the adjoining Dhogri Mohalla. The Dhogri Mohalla and Neelamahl localities are dominated by people of the Balmiki and Sikh communities.

But the situation turned volatile as members of one group allegedly attacked another after heated exchanges. The other group also retaliated and it was a free for all, thereafter, as people from both sides not only pelted stones at each other but also hurled bottles and used arms. The clash, which continued for nearly half-an-hour till the police, led by SPs SK. Kalia and Opinderjit Singh Ghumman reached the place, left about eight persons injured. One of them injured seriously was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

The incident has created panic among residents of the two localities, where an uneasy calm prevailed amid heavy police deployment. Though certain people allegedly tried to gave communal angle to the incident, some leaders of both communities met each other and decided to resolve the matter.

Five people, including Shiromani Akali Dal leader Baljit Singh Neelamahl, councillor Kamaljit Singh Gandhi, Pali, Hippi, and Gurjeet have been booked under Sections 307, 506, 295, 147 and 148 and some sections of the Arms Act and SC and ST Act. Babbi and Davinder Toni were arrested. None of the five persons has been arrested so far even as efforts to difuse the situation were on.

Mr S.K. Kalia, SP, denied that it was a communal clash. He said nearly 50 police personnel, led by a DSP, have been deployed in the two localities to ensure maintenance of law and order.


2 held for killing ex-serviceman
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 28
Claiming to have solved the murder of the 70-year-old ex-serviceman, who was hacked to death in his sleep at Badali village last week, the Kurali police today arrested two persons, including the nephew of the victim. The arrested persons, Dilbagh Singh and Kulwinder Singh, alias Puppi, are neighbours of the victim and were arrested from the village this morning.

The victim, Surmukh Singh, was a bachelor and used to live with his younger brother, Dalbara Singh. On August 24, he was found murdered on his bed in the verandah of his house and seemed to have been killed in his sleep. While the victim was found attacked with some sharp-edged weapon on forehead and face, an almirah in his room was also found open. The victim’s grandson found the body lying in a pool of blood when he went to serve tea to his grandfather the next morning.

According to the DSP Kharar, Mr Rajbachan Singh Sandhu, the nephew, Dilbagh Singh, and his friend and neighbour, Kulwinder Singh, have confessed to the crime. Dilbagh Singh reportedly told the police that he killed Surmukh Singh since he was having illicit relations with his wife for the past six years. “He said he came to know about the relationship some months ago and decided to kill Surmukh Singh. But he could not muster the courage to do so. He first asked Kulwinder to kill Surmukh Singh for Rs 10,000 but Kulwinder refused,” he said.

The duo, however, continued to harbour ill feelings towards Surmukh, “That night both Dilbagh and Kulwinder were drinking liquor sitting on the roof of Kulwinder’s house. From the roof they could overlook into Surmukh’s verandah. They saw him go to sleep and then decided to kill him. They hacked him to death with a pick axe which also has been recovered from them,” said Mr Sandhu.

Wanting to make the murder look like a theft related crime, they ransacked the house after killing Surmukh and collected some cash from the almirah. “The two came back on the roof and counted the money. Some coins slipped on the roof which we saw the next morning while carrying out the investigations. That is how the crime was solved. First Kulwinder confessed that he had helped Dilbagh in murdering his uncle and then Dilbagh too admitted that he had committed the crime.”


1 dies in bus mishap
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
One person was killed and 32 persons injured in an accident involving a mini bus and a tractor-trailer near Mathura Colony here this morning. Jagseer Singh (16) of Dugar village died while Balwinder Singh (45) is battling for life in the ICU of Government Rajindera Hospital here. The others have sustained minor to serious injuries.

The mini bus was on its way from Naina Kot village to the Patiala bus stand when it hit a tractor trailer carrying wood and rolled into a ditch. The driver of the bus fled the spot.

The passengers were returning from a local fair. The injured include children and women.

The Sub-Inspector, Mr Nachhttar Singh, of Kotwali police station, said a case had been registered against the bus driver on the complaint of one of the injured for negligent driving under various sections.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while expressing grief over the tragedy, has announced an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 for the family of the deceased.


1 killed, 12 hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 28
Prince (14) was killed on the spot while around 12 persons were injured, three of them seriously, when the Matador, in which they were travelling, overturned near Badrukhan village, about 3 km from here, this afternoon. They were going to Patiala from Jagraon.

The police said the Matador belonged to dera of Sant Baba Harcharan Singh of Nanaksar Kutia, Patiala. At the time of the accident Baba Harcharan Singh was driving the vehicle. The vehicle overturned when the driver tried to save a two-wheeler rider, the police added.

Nine of the injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Doctors referred three persons, including Baba Harcharan Singh, to the Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. However, remaining six persons, who had sustained minor injuries, also wanted to get admitted to the Patiala hospital.


1 hurt in dispute over water
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
A fight broke out between two factions at Harimajra village over the distribution of canal water here today. Shyam Lal was shot at by Joginder Singh. He has been admitted to Government Rajindera Hospital with chest injuries. Two from the other party have also been injured.

According to sources, disagreement took place between Varkha Lal and Ram Lal on one side and Harnek Singh, brother of local Congress leader Shamsher Singh, on the other, over distribution of canal water to their fields. The dispute was settled after a while.

It erupted in violence when Harnek Singh’s brothers Joginder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Baldev Singh, came to know of the dispute. Joginder Singh took a gun and the three went to Ram Lal’s house. Ram Lal took evasive action and hid inside his house. But his brother Shyam Lal was unlucky to come out of the house. Joginder Singh fired at him, injuring him in the chest.

Joginder Singh, who said he was injured by Ram Lal’s party, has been admitted to AP Jain Government Hospital. Shamsher Singh’s servant Bhola Shankar has also been admitted to the same hospital.

An FIR has been registered against Joginder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Baldev Singh under Section 307 of the IPC and other sections under the Arms Act.

No case has been registered against Harnek Singh.


Gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 28
The CIA staff has arrested six persons, including two women, when they were planning a robbery on the Mehmewala road last evening.

Police sources said the gang was involved in a number of robberies in different areas of Punjab, including Moga, Ludhiana and Phillaur.

They said the gang also murdered Kamal Das Mahant of a dera in Bilaspur and his two aides.

The sources said the gang had hatched a conspiracy to kill another dera chief in Moga. The police has recovered a .12-bore rifle, two knives, and other sharpedged weapons from their possession.

A case has been registered against them under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act.


Restart pension scheme, say teachers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
The Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union Progressive Front has appealed to the Punjab Government to restart the pension scheme which was stopped by the government on May 31, 2003. it also appealed that 50 per cent DA should be merged as it had been done for government employees since April 2004.

Progressive front leaders in a press note, revealed that the pension scheme for aided schoolteachers and other employees was started in 1992 by the then Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Employees had deposited 50 per cent of the provident fund with the government then. Mr Harnam Dass Johar was the Education Minister then too.

The leaders hoped that the government would restart the pension scheme for the 3000 employees working in these aided schools and also take care of the facilities provided to 10,000 workers in such schools.


200 participate in NSS camp
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
The NSS unit of Government Rajindra College organised a one-day camp on the college campus here today. About 200 students participated in the camp.

NSS volunteers cleaned the college campus and watered the plants. Principal Kulwinder Sidhu inaugurated the camp.

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