P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sant Samaj, Taksal oppose ‘seva’ by women
Women groups enter into verbal duel
Varinder Walia and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, September 21
Tension prevailed in front of Akal Takht today when two groups of Sikh women entered in a verbal duel in front of Akal Takht on the issue of alleged gender discrimination.

Members of the coordination committee of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi Sikh women assembled here in large numbers demanding grant of permission to Sikh women to participate in the “Amrit Sanchar”, performing of “kirtan” and “seva” of cleaning sanctum sanctorum of Harmander Sahib. However, they were confronted by another jatha of women who were opposing any move of the SGPC to give such “Seva” to women.

The Sikh women, carrying placards, quoting holy hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, presented a memorandum to the Akal Takht secretariat here. On this, a group of Sikh women, led by Bibi Kulwant Kaur and Bibi Baldev Kaur of the Shiromani Akali Dal opposed their stand. Women workers belonging to the SAD said they won’t allow women to change the age-old Sikh “maryada” which did not allow women to participate in these ceremonies. They wanted proof from the Sikh history to substantiate their stand.

Meanwhile, a jatha of a section of the Sant Samaj, including Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi , Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, chief of the Damdami Taksal, submitted a memorandum to the Akal Takht Secretariat, opposing any move to allow women to participate in “Amrit Sanchar” , performing “kirtan”, etc in the sanctum sanctorum at Darbar Sahib.

The SGPC has also taken serious notice of rejecting the Nanakshahi calendar by the Sikh conclave, held at Chowk Mehta yesterday. The SGPC has said that nobody would be allowed to reject the Nanakshahi calendar or Sikh “maryada” at any cost. The SGPC spokesman said the Sikh “maryada” was approved by representatives of various Sikh bodies about 60 years ago after marathon discussions.

The spokesman said as per this “maryada”, the baptised Sikh women, too, were allowed to participate in the “Amrit Sanchar” or performing “kirtan”. The SGPC alleged that yesterday’s Sikh conclave was part of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched to harm the Sikh panth.


‘Col’, 3 others booked in emigration scam
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
In a major mutli-crore emigration scandal, the city police last night booked four persons, including an alleged serving Colonel, who had duped about 90 persons on the pretext of a ‘dream-life’ in the UK and Israel.

The fate of 17 of the victims who were last seen in a rented accommodation in Cambodia is unknown amidst fears that they could be in jail there or the another country, including Pakistan. A woman who escaped from Cambodia made this revelation to the city police.

The alleged gang operated from Delhi and used to take Rs 6 lakh person for emigration to the UK or Israel with good job opportunities. However, the victims were taken to Thailand or Cambodia and kept in rented accommodation for few weeks or even months in some cases.

The victims remained under house arrest there before they returned home when the accused claimed the UK Embassy had not approved their cases.

SI Gurbans Bains, SHO Salem Tabri police station, said the police had arrested one gang member Devinder Sharma. He said Devinder along with another accused Jasbir Singh Jassi used to find the victims in Punjab and Haryana. They allegedly worked for two brothers Amarjit Singh alias Pinki, and alleged Colonel Paramjit Singh.

Mr Bains said Devinder Sharma had confirmed the claims of the victims that Paramjit was an Army officer. However, the police would verify the claim from the Army. The two brothers basically belonged to a village near Karnal.

The case of cheating has been registered on the complaint of a local resident Rajinder Kaur. She has in the FIR stated that the gang members lured people, mostly youth, to go abroad for a better life. She said she along with others had paid Rs 3 lakh in advance for the work. The victims paid the travelling and living expenses in Thailand, Cambodia and Delhi.

Mr Bains said the police was taking statement of 10 other complainants belonging to various parts of Punjab and Haryana. He claimed that Devinder had admitted they had collected over Rs 2 crore from the 70 victims.

The two brothers used to meet victims in Thailand and Cambodia where they had rented houses. They had brought victims back from Thailand but had left them in the lurch in Cambodia.

The complainant Rajinder Kaur somehow escaped from Cambodia and exposed the racket.


Lawyer denied access to Sarbjit
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, September 21
Sarbjit, the Indian prisoner in Pakistan facing death sentence, has been denied access to his lawyer. Sarbjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur revealed to The Tribune that Rana Abdul Hameed, lawyer of Sarbjit was not allowed to meet her brother even as only a week was left for filing a review petition in Pakistan Supreme Court.

She said Mr Rana conveyed to her from Pakistan his interaction with Pakistan Home Secretary today and yesterday that he had taken up issue of access to his client, but the official had said that he had forwarded his request to the authorities and no reply had been received.

She added that in case the request was turned down once again the lawyer would take up the matter with Pakistan President Mr Parvez Musharaff.

Meanwhile, Dalbir Kaur has appealed to the Union Minister for External Affairs, Mr Natwar Singh, to take up the issue of release of Sarbjit during his forthcoming meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Mr Kasuri in first week of October to Pakistan .

She said both the eyewitnesses Mohammed Salim and Ali Shaukat had turned hostile, according to media reports in the Lahore bomb blast case in 1990 who had been named in the FIR against Sarbjit.

The distraught sister brushed aside allegations of politicisation the issue and said she was distressed that some organizations had also accused that the Sarabjit issue was used to overshadow the Nanavati Commission 1984 anti Sikh riots report .

She stated that she would visit American embassy tomorrow to seek a response to her letter to US president George Bush for his intervention.

The sister asserted that she would take up the issue of her brother at any forum, political, social or otherwise and visit all places of worship if it could help secure his release.


Ministers ask CM to take up Chandigarh issue with PM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
At a meeting of the Council of Ministers, certain ministers today urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take up the issue of the transfer of Chandigarh with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during his two-day visit later this week to Punjab and Chandigarh.

Informed sources said the council informally discussed the issues to be taken up with the Prime Minister. Certain ministers said that it was the most appropriate time to seek the transfer of Chandigarh because the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his party had become silent on this issue. The Punjab Government should take the initiative on the transfer of Chandigarh to give a “knock-out punch” to Mr Badal and his associates on the issue.

The sources said the Chief Minister’s response was positive on this issue.

The other important issue to be taken up with the Prime Minister by Capt Amarinder Singh is the setting up of a defence university or academy at Kapurthala. Already, Punjab has offered to transfer the building of Sainik School at Kapurthala and its landed property for the purpose. Besides, the Chief Minister will discuss the allocation of funds for the setting up of a national institute of biotechnology in Punjab. The Prime Minister’s help will also be sought to develop the bio-tech corridor between Dera Bassi and Patiala.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has urged the Centre to give Rs 10 lakh to next of kin of those killed in the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of the country and also an equal amount to those who were seriously injured. Besides, those who had suffered minor injuries should be given Rs 2.5 lakh each. All displaced persons should be given MIG flats.

Speaking to a group of mediapersons after the meeting of the council, Capt Amarinder Singh said he had discussed the issue of compensation to the riot victims at the meeting. He said the recommendations regarding the compensation had been sent to the Union Government.

The Centre is to provide compensation to the riot victims. The Prime Minister had made a promise in this regard during the recent session of Parliament. Capt Amarinder Singh said that it was unfortunate that the riot victims would get justice after a prolonged delay. But certainly a new beginning was being made in this regard, he added. There were 22,900 riot victims’ families registered in Punjab. These families had migrated from various areas to Punjab after the riots. The sources said that some of the dependants of those killed in the riots were given jobs by the Punjab Government. They were treated on a par with victims of terrorist violence in the state.

Talking about another important issue raised by the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government was seriously examining the demand to give free power to non-Dalits living below the poverty line. “ We are trying to assess our financial resources in this regard. We do not want to take any decision in haste “, he added.

A decision on the issue of implementing the 85th Amendment had been postponed. It was to be discussed at today’s meeting.

Asked about World Bank loans for various development projects, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government had cordial relations with the bank. “Though we have given free power, we are sure the World Bank will not deny loans to Punjab because of this.” He said the World Bank authorities were aware of the compulsions of politically elected governments. Punjab had sought loans from the World Bank for drinking water schemes and improving the infrastructure to expand public utility services.


UK High Commissioner calls on CM, Dullo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The British High Commissioner, Sir Michael Arthur, accompanied by Mr Alex Spachis, Deputy Head of the European Union, today called on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to explore the possibilities of educational tie-ups with the state’s universities and colleges for higher education.

Sir Michael said Punjab had an extensive network of technical and non-technical educational institutions and there was scope for their tie-ups with universities and colleges in the UK.

He urged the Chief Minister to send a delegation of eminent academicians and scholars from Punjab to study the prospects of mutual sharing of educational and technological skills.

Sir Michael also, called on the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo.

Issues like terrorism, political asylum, intimidation of Sikhs due to mistaken identity, fast-track visas for the spouses of Punjabis settled in the UK and agro-diversification were discussed.

Mr Dullo presented a four-volume book, “Centenary History of India”, to the High Commissioner.


At 70, he pulls cart to earn a living
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 21
At an age when most people lead a cushy retired life, Mr Deewan Singh, a septuagenarian, transports goods on his hand-pulled cart on the city roads to eke out his livelihood. Talking to The Tribune here, Mr Deewan Singh said his family was well off in the pre-Partition era and his father had 10 acres of land in Mominpura, near Lahore. “We lost everything in the bloodshed of 1947 and migrated to Bathinda with whatever little we could save from rioters,” he averred.

Being uneducated, he began working as a daily wage earner at the local Grain Market.

A father of three daughters and two sons, he soon switched over to pulling a cart, as he had a big family to support.

Earlier, he would earn enough to fulfil his family responsibilities. He married his sons and daughters, besides ensuring a roof over their head. One of his sons works as a carpenter, while the other is jobless.

“Times have changed now. With new means of transportation, I hardly have any work. At times I return without earning a single penny,” laments Mr Deewan Singh.

He is content even if earns a mere Rs 25-30 a day. His old age has also taken a toll on his income. He can neither work in the harsh summer nor the bone-chilling winter days.

Once he had to deliver furniture to the NFL premises, which is about 7 km from the market. Though he got Rs 70 for the job, he could not leave the bed for three days after that due to body pains.

He got his eyes operated upon a few years back for which a philanthropist had borne all expenses.

He said he had applied for old age pension, but got no aid from the government. “I don’t expect any help from anybody and I’m happy with the way I am,” said Mr Deewan Singh before pulling his way to deliver goods. 


Mayawati gives unity call to Dalits, minorities
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Bahujan Samaj Party president, Ms Mayawati today called up Dalits and other religious minorities of the country to gain political power. She said, “in political power lies the master key for social and economic change of the exploited people”. She said Dalits, alone could deliver them from day-to-day exploitation by the “Manuwadi forces”.

Addressing a rally in the New Grain market here today, Ms Mayawati asked the Dalits to come out of superstitions and forget the invisible gods and goddesses who did not do anything to ameliorate their plight. “You spend crores on these Gods whom you have never seen...help me with your money as I am your living ‘Goddess’ and I will ameliorate your plight, she said, claiming that she had dedicated herself to the Dalit cause and decided not to marry or have her family. All Dalits constitute my family”, she said.

The BSP leader said that the Dalits were yet to get their due even though it had already been guaranteed to them by Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the Constitution of India. “But my party holds you equally responsible for your ills as you have never supported us wholeheartedly and have instead been misled by the Manuwadi forces”, she remarked, asking the Dalits to change their mindset and support her party.

She was seated alone on the sofa at the dais. There was no other chair besides her. It was only in the second row that national general secretary of the party, Narinder Kashyap and state president, Avtar Karimpuri were seated. There was only one sofa chair and a table meant for the “Mayawati” only. During her one and a half hour stay at the dais she did not interact with any of the leaders, not even with Mr Kashyap of Mr Karimpuri. The only time she talked to them was to tell them to order a singer, who was singing a song in her honour, to stop so that she could start her speech. She spoke for one full hour from a written text.

Even when her visit was marked by protests by the mother and two brothers of Mr Kanshi Ram only yesterday, she did not make any mention of the issue. In fact she mentioned the name of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar too frequently, without reference to Mr Kanshi Ram. Even she did not credit the concept of “getting the master key of political power”, to which he referred quite frequently, to Kanshi Ram and instead attributed it to Dr Ambedkar only.

Earlier, Mr Kashyap and Mr Karimpuri criticised the two brothers of Mr Kanshi Ram and blamed Mr Harbhajan Lakha, an ex-MP from Philaur for misguiding them. The two leaders alleged that protests about Mr Kanshi Ram’s stay with Ms Mayawati were orchestrated by the “Manuwadi forces” and some disgruntled and rejected leaders were being used for the job.


Mann honoured
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 21
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the (SAD) (Amritsar), was today honoured with “Baba-e-Quam” award by the district unit of the party for services towards the Sikh community at a function, organised his at the Gurdwara Nanakiana Sahib complex, near here. A ‘siropa’ and a memento were presented to Mr Mann on the occasion.

Besides a large number of supporters of Mr Mann, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president of the kisan wing of the party, Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the party, Mr Nirmal Singh Gharachon and Mr Harcharan Singh Burjhari, both SGPC members, Mr Jagdhir Singh Katron, a former member of the SGPC, Mr Wazir Khan, a Muslim leader of the party, Sant Baba Amarjit Singh Kila Hakima, and Ms Simarjit Kaur, a senior leader of the women wing of the SAD (A), also attended the function.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Mann asked the people to give him power for getting the minimum support price (MSP) of crops linked with the price index, as this was a long-standing demand of the farmers for the past 40 years. He also said a fund should be created with the money, which had not been given to the farmers during the past 40 years for their sold crops due to non-linking of the MSP of crops with price index. He said after the creation of such a fund, besides providing free power facility to the farmers and pensions to the needy persons, the government could also be able to waive the loans of the farmers.

Mr Mann also flayed the suggestion of a Vidhan Sabha for Chandigarh with a view to making the city a separate state. He also lashed out at Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for allegedly getting supply from four feeders for his palace at Patiala.


Options open for poll alliance: CPI
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 21
The CPI is keeping all options open for aligning with any party in Punjab for the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The CPI General Secretary, Mr A.B. Bardhan, who was here as an observer during the state-level party elections for the 125-member council, said this while talking to mediapersons at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall here today.

The CPI veteran said that it could support the Congress or any other party in the state but not the BJP-SAD alliance. He said that the party would definitely not show solidarity with any communal party, including the Mann group. Mr Bardhan also hinted at keeping away from the ruling party. Having declared its support to the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar, the CPI has decided not to project its chief ministerial candidate before the results of the poll are declared. Mr Bardhan said that even if the LJP wanted to make any announcement about some proposed candidate, it would have to discuss the issue with the CPI first.

Reiterating that the party had aligned with the LJP to form a third front so as to oust the 15-year-old Lalu government for its miserable failure in bringing about any development in the state, Mr Bardhan said that the chief ministerial candidate would be announced only after the poll result as such political gimmicks had often failed to bring results.


‘Allow people to visit birthplace across border’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
A ‘new milestone’ could be achieved in further strengthening relations between India and Pakistan if both governments consider to give special privilege to those born in either side of the Radcliff Line to visit their ancestral homes along with their families — at least once in their lifetimes.

A very miniscule number of those born before Partition was surviving and the figures were dwindling day-by-day. These people and their children fervently wished to see their birthplaces, homes and hearths, that they were forced to leave during the Partition frenzy.

“They long to meet their neighbours, survivors of their times and their kin. Initiating dialogue in this direction could fulfil the emotional void amongst the Partition-affected, who could get a chance to reunite with their roots once again. Therefore it would not be amiss to request that a scheme/MoU may be formulated to allow such visits on both sides of the Radcliff Line”, requested Mr Tirlochan Singh, MP and Chairman of the National Minorities Commission (NMC), to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in an appeal yesterday, a copy of which is with The Tribune.


From pillar to post to get his revolver back
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, September 21
To get his licensed .32 bore revolver which he had deposited with a Garhshankar-based authorised arms and ammunition dealer along with nine cartridges in 1987, Mr Jarnail Singh, a resident of Asmanpur village has been running from pillar to post for the past over 15 years.

A senior police had allegedly taken the weapon, costing about Rs 2.5 lakh, in his possession when the Garhshankar police seized all arms and ammunition of the dealer who shifted from the town during the days of terrorism.

Mr Jarnail Singh wrote to the President of India, the Union Home Ministry and top Punjab police officials, including the DIG, for his two weapons, a double-barreled gun and a .32 bore revolver besides 14 cartridges which he deposited with the dealer following legal procedure before leaving for Kuwait.

After depositing his arms, ammunition and licence with Duaba Gun House, Garhshankar, Mr Jarnail Singh along with his wife left for Kuwait to earn his livelihood. On return in 1990 Jarnail Singh found the gun-house closed as its owner had shifted to Una, in Himachal Pradesh. The police had reportedly taken possession of the arms and the ammunition of the dealer.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Jarnail Singh claimed that he met the gun-house owners Mr Avinash Kumar Sharma and his father, at Una where they were running another company named as Hem Vikas Gun House. The traders told him that they had shifted the business to Himachal Pradesh after handing over all arms and the ammunition to the then Garhshankar DSP, Mr H.S. Sekhon in the presence of Sub Divisional Magistrate, he claimed.

He made various representations to the police as well as district administration in this context but to no avail. He then wrote to the President of India in 1993 following which an inquiry was marked to the Union Home Ministry and subsequently to its office in Chandigarh.

Following the inquiry, he came to know that the gun was lying at the Garhshankar police station but police officials were till tightlipped about the whereabouts of the revolver. The police handed over the gun to him in 1994.

He appeared before the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, and gave representations seeking the recovery of his revolver as it was in police records. The DC marked the representation to Ms Gurpreet Kaur, SSP, and the case was subsequently referred to the SP (Detective) and later to the SP (Headquarters) for investigations.

With the passage of time the officers were transferred and the file gathered dust with no results till date.


Navjot for full-fledged SEZ
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 21
Drumming up support for multi-product special economic zone, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu said that he would fight till the full-fledged SEZ as announced by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was established here.

Addressing businessmen here today, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu said that with the proposed SEZ in the border would provide much-needed economic fillip to industry of this area. He said according to his estimate the SEZ would be able to provide more than 70,000 jobs to skilled and unskilled workers of this area thereby providing livelihood to four lakh families.

Pitching for the Prime Minister’s dream project on 2,500 acres of land, he said that the Central government had shown vision to set up SEZ at Amritsar which he felt would be a gateway to South Asian countries. Enumerating benefits, which would accrue to the city, he pointed out that with SAFTA coming into force by 2006 and the present thaw in relationships with Pakistan would provide an additional benefit to the export-oriented industry to be set up in SEZ. He said that world-class infrastructure would be constructed around the city which would benefit people of this area.

After interacting with leaders of the industry Mr Sidhu released four resolutions including the setting up of full-fledged SEZ on a minimum area of 2,500 acres and added that the product specific would not be acceptable as the impression had been spread that the Punjab government had sought permission to set up SEZ on 1,000 acres. He pointed out that it would be unfair on the part of the Punjab government to dilute the mandate of the Prime Minister by seeking approval for product-specific SEZ.

In the second resolution Mr Sidhu added that the state town planner had already earmarked and identified 10,000 acres for industrial area specifically for SEZ on the GT Road and the state government was dithering over the site. He alleged that the Punjab government was changing its land use by offering it to colonisers.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of 20 industrial and business associations. Mr Brij Bedi, a leading entrepreneur of the city, in his discordant note pointed out Mr Sidhu must also take up the issue of already sick industry, which had rendered thousands of people, jobless. He suggested that with a small fund entire industry in the border areas could be revived providing the much-needed economic health. Mr Bedi pointed out that the three focal points in the city were suffering due to lack of infrastructure and felt that these points could once again become a major area of industrial activity provided the government released capital subsidy which it had failed to give during last one decade. He suggested that the focal points should be declared as SEZ as there was no need to spend scarce resources for building new one without caring for existing ones.


Govt loses revenue as officials fail to auction fish in canals
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 21
The Department Of Irrigation has been suffering losses due apathy of officials. The department officials were not auctioning fish produce of various canals in the district.

The Gurdaspur district has the largest network of the UBD canals. Most of the canals have ample fish production. Water in canals has been stopped after irrigation season was declared over on September 15.

This has left fish of canals open to poachers. These days a large number of poachers can been seen catching fish from shallow water left in the closed canals. Sources available here say poachers are making money by catching fish from the canals.

The former honorary wild-life warden Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa has written to the department of irrigation and fisheries regarding the matter. He has alleged that the government was losing a large amount of revenue that it could earn through auction of fish in canals.

However, the Department of Irrigation and Fisheries are passing the buck to each other. The Irrigation Department authorities said that they used to auction fruit of trees near canals and fish five years ago. Then the Department of Forest and Fisheries took it over. Now a notification has been issued by the government according to which only the Department of Forest auctions produce of trees. The Department of Fisheries has been authorised to auction fish produce of canals.

Deputy Director Fisheries Gurdaspur Sharma, however, said that only the Irrigation Department can auction the fish of canals. He denied knowledge of the notification by which the Department of Fisheries had been authorised to auction fish produce of canals.

The canals were not the only water source from where the government was loosing fish revenue. The government failed to auction fish produce of Ranjit Sagar dam lake. The said lake was spread over a vast area stretching across kilometres.

Fish contractors have deputed local villagers for catching fish from the lake. Every evening or early morning they purchase fish at less price from the villagers and make huge profits.

A former SDM, Pathankot, had written to the government to allow fishing in the canal at a specified distance from the dam. The said practice was even being followed at Bhakra dam where the Himachal government was earning nearly Rs 1 crore from fish contracts every year.

However, no decision has been taken by the Punjab government in this regard. The Jammu and Kashmir government on the other hand has allowed the villagers living on the banks to catch fish and issued them licences for the purpose. 


Ex-minister Kapoor cremated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 21
The mortal remains of former minister Surinder Kapoor were consigned to flames with full state honours here today. His son, Mr Hari Om Kapoor, lit his funeral pyre. Mr Kapoor breathed his last after prolonged illness yesterday.

Prior to his cremation, Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla reached his home to mourn his death on behalf of the Chief Minister, and his entire Cabinet.

Mr Kapoor’s body was kept at the district Congress committee office where party workers and people from all walks of life paid their tributes to the departed leader.

His funeral procession reached Ram Bagh after passing through main areas of the city. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, paid floral tributes to the departed soul on behalf of the Chief Minister.

Earlier, former Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal visited Mr Kapoor’s home to condole his death and share grief of his family members. Prominent among those present included former ministers Guljar Singh and Harbans Singh Sidhu, Zila Parishad Chairman Bikramjit Singh Bikka, Markfed Chairman Harminder Jassi, city Congress chief Mr Anil Bhola and SSP Kapil Dev. 


Kidney patient awaits good Samaritans
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 21
With no public health care system in place in our country, falling ill can be a traumatic and risky for many people. More so, if the illness is life-threatening and requires immediate remedial surgery. Arranging funds and proper treatment can be a harrowing experience. If the funds are beyond one’s means then one generally prays for God’s grace or waits for a generous helping hand.

One such family is of Shadi Ram, who is in dire need of such helping hands to alleviate their misery. Shadi Ram’s 30-year-old son Sanjay Kumar has suffered a kidney failure and needs a renal transplant operation at the PGI, Chandigarh, where Sanjay is getting treatment at present. A father of two boys, the older one is four years old while the younger is barely a month old, Sanjay has small shrunken kidneys and is currently on dialysis. Shadi Ram is ready to donate his kidney to his son but the funds required for the transplant are beyond the family’s reach.

A daily-wage labourer, 54-year-old Shadi Ram works in the local Anaj Mandi. The family resides in Bajwa Colony. Sanjay was a tailor, but since the onset of his illness, his earning have stopped. Dialysis is further depleting the Shadi Ram and Sanjay Kumar have not taken a room at Dadu Majra, Chandigarh, as the constant bus fares till Chandigarh were proving to be steep. Sanjay has to undergo dialysis frequently.

Sanjay wife works as domestic help.

Neighbours and relatives have pitched in with monetary help. So have other donors but the dialysis treatment takes up a lot of funds.

One of the helping hands is of Mr Manmohan Singh, Information Officer, PSEB, who has given monetary and other support.

The father-son duo have already undergone the necessary tests at the PGI, Chandigarh, at the beginning of this month. Shadi Ram has been found fit to donate his kidney.

Meanwhile, people who would like to contribute money for Sanjay’s treatment can contact Mr Manmohan Singh at 9814383123, and 9872518912 or house No. 74, Manshahia Colony, 21 No. Fatak, Patiala.


Villagers threaten stir against stone crushers
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 21
Heavy vehicles carrying material from stone crushers around Chaki river are damaging link roads. Besides damaging the roads, the stone crushing units are also polluting the area and affecting the ecology.

Residents of Hariyal and its surrounding villages where maximum crushers are located have now threatened to launch an agitation in case the local administration failed to stop the trucks from plying on link roads. Hundreds of villagers today organised a press conference here to issue an ultimatum to the local administration.

The leader of the sangarsh committee formed by the villagers, Mr Gagan Singh alleged that a separate road had been provided for the trucks carrying material from stone crushers located near the area. However, the owners of stone crushers were using link roads of villages for transport. This had left most of the link roads in bad shape. The villagers alleged that rampant illegal mining in the area had brought down the water table.


Nepalese rush alarms Doaba cops
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 21
The burgeoning population of Nepalese in Doaba region of Punjab ever since King Gyanendra took over reigns in Nepal in the aftermath of a bloody clash in Nepal has virtually left the security and intelligence agencies confounded.

Though the Doaba area has witnessed a rise in population of Nepalese in the past about five years, the inflow of Nepali youngsters, it is learnt, has increased manifold after the king asserted his power.

This has generated concern among security as well as intelligence agencies. It is apprehended that certain anti-monarch elements and even Maoist sympathisers could be sneaking into Punjab in a clandestine manner under a planned strategy. The biggest problem faced by the sleuths in Punjab was that hardly any among them was able to understand the Nepalese language.

There are about a dozen Nepali organisations, office-bearers of which hold regular meetings on a monthly basis in different parts of Punjab.

In Doaba, where nearly half a dozen organisations are active, the largest presence of Nepalese (about 17,000) is in Jalandhar while Nawanshahr has 400 Nepalese, Hoshiarpur 3,000 and Kapurthala (1600-1700). Interestingly, district police officials have been sounded about the abnormal rise in the population of Nepalese, but no drive has been launched to register or to identify them officially.


Stick to rules, Jalandhar DD warns producers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 21
Already in the dock for comparatively “low quality and deviation from DD norms” in airing certain privately sponsored programmes, Jalandhar Doordarshan has finally warned producers and directors of these programmes to either stick to DD guidelines on production and quality or face withdrawal of their programmes.

To put an end to the covert monopoly of babas, heads of educational institutes, politicians and businessmen, over some current affairs and news-based programmes and certain other slots, which paint a rosy picture of such people and to remove confusion among viewers, Prasar Bharti had directed DD Jalandhar to put an end to such programmes about six months back.

But the Jalandhar DD authorities were allegedly dilly-dallying on the issue and such programmes continued to be aired.

Prasar Bharti had issued directions as it was felt that certain programmes were leading to the erosion of the credibility of DD.

In certain cases, those running such privately sponsored programmes have not only allegedly recruited their ‘reporters’ in most of cities and town, but also have been charging money from people who figured in their programmes.

Mr Govardhan Sharma, who took over as Station Director recently, convened a meeting of those running privately sponsored programmes here today. He is learnt to have conveyed to them if their programmes violated DD norms, these would be withdrawn. He also told them to improve the quality of audio and video of their programmes.


Irked by poor LPG supply, villagers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, September 21
Irate over the disruptive supply of LPG, residents of Rajpura and surrounding villages blocked traffic on the busy Rajpura-Patiala highway near Bhadak petrol pump for two hours this afternoon. The jam was lifted only when gas agency holder restored the supply of gas cylinders after the intervention of the local authorities and the police.

Scores of vehicles were stranded on the busy highway and the motorists were subjected to inconvenience. Even after the jam was lifted, it took more than an hour for the police to streamline the traffic.

It all started when villagers from the surrounding areas came to Bharat Gas Palace, Kasturba Mandir road in Rajpura this morning to get refilled gas cylinders. But they were told that there was no supply of gas and they have to wait. To which, the consumers called Mr Anil Chopra, owner of the gas agency. He said he could not do anything as the supply was interrupted, said Mr Jarnail Singh, a resident of Khodoli village.

Mr Jarnail Singh said they came to know from sources that a truck loaded with gas cylinders had come to Rajpura. When they asked the manager of the agency about the truck, he started arguing with them. Aggrieved by the rude behavior, the villagers blocked the road to mark their protest.

It was also alleged that the agency holder sells gas in black to hotels and other commercial users. Representatives of various villages held that there was about 2,500 gas connections in the area, but they were being harassed by gas agency holders because of the disruption in the supply.

The road blockade was started at 12:30 and it continued for about two hours until the police intervened and resolved the issue. The police contacted the agency holder, who restored the supply and the jam was lifted.


Centre committed to ‘providing jobs’
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 21
The Central Government is committed to providing jobs to unemployed youth in the country.

This was stated by Ms Parpreet Kaur Brar, general secretary of the All-India Youth Congress, at a programme organised in her honour by Mr Amrik Singh Happy, general secretary of the state unit of the SC/ST cell of the Youth Congress, here yesterday.

Ms Brar said that the Central Government would ensure that youths who got themselves registered at employment exchanges got jobs in the minimum time possible according to their qualifications. She said the government had cleared the Gramin Rojgar Yojna some time ago under which 200 districts across the country were selected. Though a number of districts from UP and Bihar were selected under the scheme, Hoshiarpur was selected from Punjab.

She said that the issue of unemployment was on the election manifesto of the Congress and the government would tackle it on a priority basis.

Youth Congress leaders, including Mr Jaspal Singh Jassa, Mr Gurpreet Goldy and Mr Hansraj Kaka brought to the notice of Ms Brar that the representatives of the Youth Congress were not given a serious hearing by government officials when they approached them with various problems. Ms Brar assured them that she would take up the matter with the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh and even with the state Congress President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo.


4 special trains for festival season
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, September 21
With less than a month to go for Durga pooja-Dasehra, the Northern Railway has geared up for the ensuing passenger rush. Special arrangements have been made for period starting September 29 to November 6, 2005.

According to railway sources, four special trains will be run during the festival period. The special trains will make as many as 102 trips to four destinations during the season. The Railway authorities have also increase the number of seats in normal trains for the pooja season. Berths in regular trains have been increased to accommodate about 11.5 lakh more passengers.


Protest by Anganwari workers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 21
A large number of anganwari workers held a demonstration and protest march here today. Ms Dharamjit Kaur, president, Punjab Anganwari Workers Union, demanded closure of pre-nursery schools, revision of helpers pay scales, restoration of allowances and provision of holidays.


Protest against PUDA
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 21
To protest against the “high-handedness” issuance of show-cause notices to them on small lawns in front of their houses, a large number of residents of Urban Estate- Phase I and II, staged a massive dharna in front of the local PUDA office yesterday.

They also raised slogans against PUDA authorities and alleged that their genuine problems have been overlooked by PUDA officials, who framed a so-called revised landscaping policy along roads.


Educate women, says Kiran Bedi
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 21
The Magasasay Award winner and the senior IPS officer, Ms Kiran Bedi, yesterday presided over the installation ceremony of the inner wheel of the local Rotary Club. She installed Ms Archana Behl, wife of Mr Raman Behl, president Municipal Council, and the president of the club.

While speaking on the occasion, Ms Bedi urged the local social organisations to educate the women in rural areas. The education was basic need for development. 


Govt committed to protecting farmers’ interests: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), September 21
The kisan mela organised here by the Young Farmers Association today failed to impress as most of the chairs in the pandal put up at the venue were empty and stalls put up by various organisations could not attract people in significant number.

The farmers, whose presence was thin at the mela, purchased 5,000 bags of foundation seeds of high-yielding varieties of wheat, HD 2733 and HD 2643, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). They were also taken for a round of demonstration plots of high yielding PUSA-44 variety of paddy and newly developed Basmati rice.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, who inaugurated the mela, said the Punjab Government was committed to save the economic interests of the farmers. The Congress government had managed to save the water of Punjab by enacting a Bill and was now trying to make adequate arrangements for initiating the farmers into diversification of crops to enhance their income and to save the underground water, the level of which had been going down due to intensive cultivation of paddy.

Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, president, Young Farmers Association, said the association had been providing training to the farmers to equip them with the latest techniques and developments. He added that about 300 farmers had been sent abroad for training also. The association had also been trying to find out the solution to save farmers from indebtness and its consequences.

Earlier, Dr. S. Nagarajan, Director, IARI, an international expert on wheat, was honoured and was given Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Award by Mr Bajwa. The award comprises a citation, a shawl, a silver plaque and Rs 25,000.


Farmers’ panel aiming at diversification
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 21
The Punjab State Farmers Commission has intensified efforts to bring about diversification of agriculture in the state.

Dr G.S. Kalkat, Chairman of the commission, has adopted a holistic approach for intensification in research and development efforts along with favourable policy interventions to provide a workable path for successful diversification. The predominance of recalcitrant paddy crop over its rival kharif crops has been planned to be challenged through the popularisation of equally economic cropping systems which includes potato-summer moong soyabean, potato-summer moong, maize, summer moong-basmati-rice winter maize of many other such innovative crop combinations.

Dr Kalkat told The Tribune: “In an attempt to attract farmers, the commission has adopted a pragmatic approach of assured procurement and incentive for cultivation of soyabean, summer moong and winter maize. The commission has funded large scale demonstrations of these new cropping sequences with assurance to buy back the entire produce of soyabean which shall be used to cover still higher average under this crop in the next season. But a long term solution for full consumption of soyabean as well as maize is being sought by persuading the state government as well as private industry to set up agro-processing units to create automatic marketing avenues for such new crops.

According to Dr Kalkat, the increased cultivation of local and export markets is another priority area of the commission. At present the potatoes along cover a bulk of the vegetable produce in the state which face the chronic problem of highly fluctuating market prices associated with uncontrolled glut in production. The export of potatoes to European countries for table as well as seed purposes is being encouraged. The lack of early available technical facilities for issuance of mandatory phytosanitary certificate to meet the EUREGAP standards is the main hindrance for export of potato to European countries. The Farmer Commission has provided a sum of Rs 58.40 lakh to Punjab Agricultural University to develop necessary protocols to establish disease free areas from where potatoes can be exported for table purposes. Similarly, PAU has been equipped with infrastructure to develop laboratory facilities to test for ‘virus free statu’ of potato to be exported for seed purposes.


Council urged to roll back water rate hike
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 21
In a significant move, the general house of the local Block Congress Committee today asked the Nagar Council here to roll back the hike in the rates of water and sewerage.

Presided over by Mr Manmohan Sharma, Block Congress president, the meeting, in another resolution, urged the Director, Local Bodies, to lift the ban on undertaking fresh development projects.

Attended by Nagar Council president Malkiat Singh Ragbotra, party activists and councillors, the meeting, in an unprecedented move, also decided to constitute an action committee for calling on PPCC President Shamsher Singh Dullo, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and the Local Bodies Minister for apprising them of the hardships being faced by the people of Phagwara owing to paralysing of development works and the hike in the rates of drinking water and sewerage.


2 police officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The Punjab Government today transferred two police officers with immediate effect, an official spokesman said. Mrs Anita Puni, on return from a UN assignment at Kosovo, has been posted as SP in the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Kashmir Singh Gill, SP, Special Investigation, goes as SP, Chief Minister’s Security, against a vacant post.


Patwari opens fire, 3 hurt
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 21
Three persons, including a woman, sustained serious injuries when a patwari reportedly opened indiscriminate firing at Chuhar Chak village, near here, yesterday.

Panic gripped the entire village after the incident. Sources said the patwari didn’t stop and allegedly opened fire at the jeep in which the injured were being taken to the hospital. The injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital where their condition was stated to be critical.

One of the injured, Mr Beant Singh, told the police that they had a dispute in the village over a sewer for the past sometime and the patwari, Mr Darshan Dayal, was hampering the disposal of sewage. He said when the sewage water got stranded at his home, he took up the matter with the patwari, but somehow it led to an altercation.

He alleged that in the meantime the patwari brought out his firearm and suddenly attacked him. He alleged that along with the patwari, his two brothers attacked his family with sharp-edged weapons. The other two injured members of his family were identified as Kamalpreet Singh and Amarjeet Kaur.

On the basis of Beant Singh’s statement, the Kot Ise Khan police has registered a case.


MLA’s son booked for poll violence
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 21
Akali Dal MLA Sadhu Singh Rajeana’s son Jagtar Singh Rajeana and scores of Akali Dal workers have been booked in connection with the violence that marred nagar panchayat elections at Baghapurana on September 18.

Sources said the police had registered a case against Jagtar and other Akali workers on the basis of the statement of Madoke resident Gurjeet Singh who sustained injuries on the day of polling.

In his statement, Gurjeet alleged that when he was sitting at the polling booth of his candidate, Jagtar threatened him, fired some gunshots in air, and assaulted him.

The police has booked Jagtar Singh Rajeana, Amarjeet Singh, Kulwant Singh, ex-councillor Mukand Singh, Charanjeet Singh, and other unidentified persons under Sections 336, 324, 123, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Man held for breaking off son’s engagement
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 21
The Ropar police has arrested Darshan Singh, a resident of village Amrali, for breaking off the engagement of his son with a girl of Khabda village on the objection that she was having dark complexion. He was arrested after the girl’s father Guljar Singh complained to the police that he had spent about Rs 1.5 lakh on her daughter’s engagement.

Giving details in the FIR, Guljar Singh said the engagement of her daughter Harjinder Kaur with Sukhjinder Singh took place on July 31 with mutual consent. He had given gift to the boy’s family and his relatives, he added.

After the engagement the boy’s family began raising objections on one pretext or the other and finally broke off the engagement. The police had registered a case against Darshan Singh, Sukhjinder Singh, Sarbjit Kaur and Kulwinder Kaur and Gurpreet Singh under Sections 406, 420 and 34 of the IPC.

On the other hand Darshan Singh claimed that in fact they were cheated by the girl’s family. The marriage was called off as the girl in question was not the same at the engagement.

Mr Varinder Singh, SHO, said Darshan Singh was today produced in a local court and was remanded in judicial custody. Meanwhile, the search for other four members of family continued.


Patwari caught accepting bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 21
Shalinder Singh, a patwari posted in the Kabulpura circle of Rajpura subdivision of this district was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe from Mr Swaran Singh by a team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Banarasi Dass today.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhuller, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Patiala, said Shalinder Singh was accepting a bribe of Rs 2,500 from complainant Swaran Singh for carrying out the demarcation of his piece of land despite the fact that tehsildar had asked him to do it.

He said Shalinder Singh accepted Rs 2,500 as bribe from Mr Swaran Singh and then handed over it to his helper identified as Amarinder Singh. He said both were arrested after registration of case against them.

He said investigation revealed that Shalinder Singh was earlier arrested by a Vigilance Bureau team in 2003 while he was accepting a bribe from one person.


Punjabi varsity students ready for public debate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 21
Accepting the proposal of the Punjabi University authorities, the protesting students under the banner of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, Patiala, have agreed to a public debate regarding their demands on stopping the internal assessment in the Department of Laws and other issues.

The management had closed all departments of the university today, including the main library.

The students held a protest rally outside the main university gate as announced earlier. They also raised slogans against the authorities.

Addressing the rally, Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, vice-president, Students Federation of India, Mr Sandeep Berwal, Harvinder Singh Harry, both of SFI, Raminder Patiala, state president, Punjab Students Union, and other student leaders said a written statement had been sent to the authorities accepting their offer of an open debate.

The students came up with the condition that the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, be present in person for the debate and that it should be held in front of all university students.

Meanwhile, a press statement issued by the university Director, Public Relations, Dr B.S. Sandhu said, “The office of Dean, Student Welfare, was kept open and a team of officials waited for four hours from 9 am to 1pm for the student leaders to approach them regarding the debate but not a single student turned up to discuss the issue.

The students held a rally outside the gate and made loud public announcements that they would like to participate in the debate.”

Reacting to the statement, Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal said, “How could we have known that the Dean, Students Welfare, is waiting for us in his office.

The authorities had closed the university today, we did not know that the Dean’s office was open when even the main library was closed.”

Tomorrow is another important day as the Additional Deputy Commissioner would record the statements of Dr B.S. Sandhu, Dean, Student Welfare, Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, Head of Sociology Department, and Dr Dharamvir Sharma, Warden, hostel No 4, regarding allegedly making caste-based comments against student Chamkaur Singh during an inquiry.


NCC firing range inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 21
Col D S Goraya, (SM) Group Commander, NCC, Jalandar group, comprising Kapurthala, Jalandar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts, today inaugurated a small arms firing range at the local Guru Nanak College.

Col Raj Kumar, Officer Commanding, 8 Punjab NCC Batallion, Phagwara, Col Vinod Sood, training officer, Jalandhar group, Lt Savinder Singh, NCC officer of the host college, were also present.

Talking to newsmen, Colonel Goraya said that he had taken up with Directorate NCC, Chandigarh, the matter of giving more weightage to C certificate holders for entry into professional colleges like their counterparts of South India.

He informed that certain private sectors like Reliance Group and Sahara Group had agreed to give preference to C certificate holders in the jobs of security officers. Sahara group had even started Sahara scholarship for such cadets.

Refreshment for cadets had been doubled from Rs 3 to Rs 6 per parade, he disclosed.


Preserve cultural heritage: students
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 21
On the third day of Baba Farid Mela, Heritage Walk was taken out under the banner of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to sensitise school students about their cultural heritage. The SSP, Mr MF Farooqui, flagged off the Walk from Nehru Gate.

Scores of children from various schools holding banners participated in the walk. They appealed to people to preserve their cultural heritage. The walk took a stopover at Ghanta Ghar, Raj Mahal and Chilla Baba Farid before culminating at Quila Mubarak.

A painting competition was organised at Ghanta Ghar in which the students had to make the monument's painting. Ragjeet Kaur and Parvinder Singh stood first and second in junior category, while Amandeep Kaur and Rahul Sharma bagged first and second prizes in senior category.

An essay writing competition was held at Quila Mubarak. Amandeep Kaur and Kamaljeet won the contest. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, gave away the prizes to winners.

Later, Tarksheel Natal Mela was organised at Amar Ashram. The mela showcased a magic show and dramas. Meghraj Ralla's troupe presented plays 'Bachi' and 'Sarh Sati', which displayed as to how leaders take people for a ride and push them towards superstitions.

A science book exhibition was also put up. Tarksheel Society members Bhura Singh Mehma Sarja, Avtar Gondara and Rajinder Singh Bhadaur urged people to shun superstitions. In Baba Sheikh Farid Punjabi Drama Festival last evening, Major Ajaib Singh Sikhyak Sansthawa, Jeewanwala, presented 'Mein Phir Awanga', a patriotic drama based on the sacrifice of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

The Punjab Art Club, Faridkot, presented the last play of the evening, 'Usda Parchhawa'.

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