P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Chandigarh will go to Punjab: Amarinder
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Patiala, October 2
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that as Chandigarh belonged to Punjab, any move to establish a Legislative Assembly for Chandigarh to provide it a status of state on the pattern of Delhi would be opposed. He also said that octroi would be abolished shortly.

Presiding over the state-level function organised in connection with 136th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he pointed out when Chandigarh was set up as the capital of joint Punjab, how could it be given to another state after the reorganisation of joint Punjab.

“It may take time, but Chandigarh will be transferred to Punjab one day. Those, who are raising the issue of transfer of Chandigarh, have been doing so as they are left with no other agenda,” pointed out the Chief Minister. He added that the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab was in the hands of the Central Government and he had nothing to do with that.

Claiming that the state Congress government had fulfilled almost all pre-poll promises, he said it would abolish octroi shortly.

The Chief Minister said farmers had been facing some problems in the procurement of paddy on account of high percentage of moisture and broken and discoloured contents. This problem would be solved as due to sunny days the moisture content had started coming down to within the specified limits. If the need arose, he would talk to Union Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, for relaxing the specification.

However, he said that a section of rice millers had been trying to pressurise the state government to extract undue benefit by holding the threat of boycotting the paddy milling despite the fact that their all the demands had been met.

Regarding ongoing agitation of students in Punjabi University, he said as the university was an autonomous body, the state government could not interfere into that. He, however, said that he would talk to Vice-Chancellor in that connection.

Capt Amarinder Singh, when asked on the fate of Mr Mandeep Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Moga, following the CBI raids on his premises in the panchayat secretary recruitment scandal, said that no action would be taken against him till anything illegal was found against him.

Earlier, the Chief Minister while urging the people to follow the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi said a memorial would be erected in Punjab in connection with the martyrs of Kale Pani.

The Chief Minister distributed cheques to the beneficiaries of various welfare schemes and said that efforts were on to start the bus service between Nankana Sahib and Amritsar with the help of the Central Government.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, PPCC, Mr Sardool Singh, Punjab Excise Minister, and Mrs Preneet Kaur also addressed the gathering.

Capt Amarinder Singh along with other leaders went to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and paid floral tributes.

Rift with Amarinder thing of past: Bhattal

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today claimed that her differences with the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, over certain issues were resolved after the latter admitted some shortcomings on his part.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo had been running the affairs of party in perfect manner as chief of the Punjab Congress unit, she added.

About her statements that Capt Amarinder Singh had been using the official helicopter like a cart and how Capt Amarinder Singh managed to get his private residence, Moti Bagh Palace, painted after 32 years, she said, “Yeh gujre jamane ki baatein hai (These all are things of past)”.

Mr Dullo said true Congressmen would be given place in the party’s organisational set-up.

Both Mrs Bhattal and Mr Dullo left the venue before Capt Amarinder Singh addressed the gathering.

Hoshiarpur: In a district-level function organised to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti here today, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for the Public Works Department, Punjab, distributed cheques of Rs 25 lakh for the monthly pension from July 2005 to September 2005 to 100 beneficiaries under social security scheme.

As many as 58845 beneficiaries are getting pensions in the old-age, handicapped, widow and dependent children categories.

While paying floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa said Capt Amrinder Singh government was committed for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden.

On the account of financial crisis, he said the government could not clear the arrears of pensions to the beneficiaries of the social security scheme earlier. But it had overcome the crisis now and would clear the entire arrears of pension in instalments, he added.

Referring to the free supply of 200 units of electricity to the Schedule Caste, Mr Bajwa said the government was considering allowing free electric supply to the backward classes on the same pattern.

He said a vegetable and fruit processing plant would soon be set up at Naushera village. He said widening and strengthening work of 103 km-long road from Balachaur to Dasuya would be done with Rs 120 crore under the BTO Scheme.

Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, emphasised to follow the Gandhian ideology for making the nation prosperous.

Mr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, president, District Congress Committee, Mr Arjan Singh, chairman, Zila Parishad, Mr Sham Sunder Arora, chairman, Market Committee, also paid rich tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.

A function was also orgnaised in the office of the District Congress Committee where Mr Raman Khullar, Vice-President, Mr Rajnish Tandon, General Secretary and many others garlanded the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and paid floral tributes.

Mr Bhola Ram, 108-year-old freedom fighter, organised a free langar for the poor to mark the celebration of Gandhi Jayanti.

Amritsar: A function was held by 134 battalion of the CRPF to mark Gandhi Jayanti at new Police Colony here. Mayor Sunil Datti paid tributes to father of the nation and also to martyrs of the security forces.

Track suits, sweets and other utilities item were presented to lower grade employees of the CRPF. Commandant CRPF S.S. Sandhu called upon the Jawans to follow the teachings of Mahatma and promote brotherhood, upliftment of downtrodden by non-violent means. Deputy Commandant P.K. Kauldhar on behalf of Commandant 134 Bn also paid tributes to the Mahatma.


PSEB suffers losses by buying goods on single-tender basis
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) continues to suffer losses due to purchase of components on a "single-tender basis", without going in for "competitive bidding".

Less than four months after the loss of over Rs 5 lakh in the purchase of ceramic-lined bends for a thermal plant in the state was reported in these columns, other instances of purchasing goods, reportedly manufactured by more than one producer, on a single tender basis have come to light.

The PSEB Purchase Regulations of 1991 clearly state that only items of "proprietary nature manufactured by a single manufacturer" can be bought directly by inviting a single tender from the manufacturer or the authorised dealer. In case of goods commonly manufactured, the method of competitive bidding has to be adopted.

Documents available with The Tribune reveal that "commonly-used" items like hydraulic wire cutters, vacuum interrupters, AC compressors, exhaust fans and even water spray nozzles were purchased "without going in for competitive buying".

A "critical examination" carried by a high-powered committee, set up to look into the purchases, has revealed "strong possibilities" that these wire cutters and other items, allegedly bought at higher rates, were being manufactured by several firms, the PSEB sources claim.

The committee, set up on the initiation of PSEB's internal vigilance wing headed by Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) Lalit Bhatia, observed that competition was eliminated in the process of inviting single tenders. As such, the possibility of paying higher price could not be ruled out in all such cases. Several other drawbacks and infirmities were also noticed by the committee.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the committee has now recommended that purchases on a single tender basis should be made with detailed justification in its support. Approval should also be taken from competent authority prescribed for the purpose by the PSEB.

The floating of relevant information regarding single source purchase items on the PSEB's official site has also been suggested, with immediate effect. This, the committee members claim, will go a long way in protecting PSEB's financial interest through competitive and judicious buying.

The committee has also suggested the streamlining of single tender purchase process in thermal plants. For the purpose, they have suggested the constitution of a committee, comprising General Managers or Chief Engineers of thermal plants. The inclusion of Chief Cost Controller in the committee has also been recommended.

The committee, thus constituted, will explore alternative sources and call for the list of proprietary articles being ordered from all thermal plant authorities. They will also ask for the prices at which the items were procured during the past five years, along with the prevailing rates, for the purpose of calculating the "reasonableness of prices".

DGP Bhatia, when contacted, refused to divulge the details, but added that the recommendations were aimed at protecting the PSEB’s financial interests and credibility by streamlining the existing system.


Bhattal against free power to rich farmers
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 2
The time has come that we amend our laws and provide the ongoing reservation, free electricity and other facilities on economic ground. There is no need of providing facility of reservation to the families of persons like Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee and like, who have become economically sound. Similarly there is no need of providing free electricity to persons like Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Capt Amrinder Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and other big farmers.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, said this while talking to The Tribune here today. She said that all these facilities should be provided to economically weaker sections without caste consideration. She was here to preside over the Gandhi Jyanti celebrations function organised by the District Administration at BBSB Engineering College auditorium.

Answering a query, she said that there was need for mutual recognition of educational degrees of Indian students by foreign countries and foreign degrees by India.

The minister said that the government had taken a revolutionary decision in sanctioning all types of pensions. She said that a cluster of 10 villages would be formed. The panchyats and villagers would gather at a common place and the officers concerned and sarpanches would sanction the pensions on the spot in the presence of villagers.

She stressed the need to create better infrastructure in rural areas, so that the “officers may prefer to stay there”. She said that the government had handed over the working of six departments to panchayats but the results had not been as per expectations. She said that the matter relating to abolition of octroi had not yet been put before the Cabinet.


Slow lifting of paddy irks farmers
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 2
The government may face a problem if nothing is done to speed up the procurement process as selling paddy is turning out to be a nightmare for farmers of the state.

Negligible stocks being lifted from the mandis by the procurement agencies. The slow pace of procurement can be gauged from the fact that only 6000 metric tonnes of paddy was procured till today in Asia’s largest grain market - Khanna - as compared s 35,714 metric tonnes during the corresponding period last year.

Farmers are being forced to stay at the mandis for days to sell their produce which is not being auctioned on the plea that the moisture content is very high. This, despite the claim of the farmers that they have taken all precautions to only harvest ripe paddy before bringing it to the mandis.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had inaugurated the procurement process on September 26 and announced that every grain would be purchased on the same day and the payments cleared within 24 hours.

This is farthest from the ground realities. A quick tour of the mandis in the district revealed that many farmers have been running from pillar to post to sell their crop. Most of the farmers alleged that “moisture” was just an excuse but the real reason for the delay was the ongoing strike by rice millers who were demanding certain concessions from the government. Many farmers, who sowed their crop early, are the worst sufferers.

Joginder Singh of Mehmoodpur village alleged that he had been camping at Khanna grain market for the past four days. Officials of the procurement agencies had not purchased his crop citing high moisture content.

Others in the mandi alleged that the procurement agencies were not purchasing their crop under the pressure of rice mill owners. They also alleged that the rice millers had threatened the procurement officials that they would register complaints of faulty procurement against the former in case bulk purchases were made.

Another farmer Ranjodh Singh, a resident of Lalon Khurd village, said he was waiting for a week to sell his paddy. He alleged that an official had told him that the procurement officials were being forced by the sheller owners not to procure the paddy till their strike. He said he had met the Secretary, Market Committee, with more than 50 farmers but to no avail.

Dr Sona Thind, DFSO, Khanna, informed that the paddy within specifications was being procured and the agencies were lifting paddy to their own godowns as the sheller owners were on strike.

According to the Food and Supply Department, Pungrain had procured 6842.50 kg of paddy, Punsup 11002.95 kg, Markfed – 10063.55kgs, Warehouse- 3909.15 kg, FCI – 7348.10 kg and Punjab Agro had procured 7301.35 kg of paddy till yesterday.

In other areas like those in the vicinity of Mandi Ahmedgarh, raids on FCI godowns by the CBI are another factor hampering the procurement of paddy in the town and surrounding towns falling under Sangrur district.

While the purchase is going on at snail pace at Raikot, Mulanpur, Payal and Malaudh mandis, it is yet to start at Malerkotla, Amargarh and Kanganwal and the local grain market.


Wife catches husband marrying again
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 2
In an interesting incident here, a wife caught her husband redhanded while getting married again.

Ms Ranjeep Kaur, a government teacher was married to Inderjeet Singh of Agwan village about seven years ago. She has two children from him.

Due to alleged persistent dowry demands from her in-laws, she had left the house and was staying separately. The couple, however, had not separated legally. She is serving in the government shool at Agwan.

Yesterday, while coming on duty to the village school, she found the house of her in-laws locked. On inquiry, some villagers told that her husband had gone to Bhagwan village for second marriage.

Shocked, Ms Ranjeep Kaur rushed back to Gurdaspur. Taking her brother along, she rushed to the place her husband was marrying again.

However, by the time she reached the destination, the second marriage of her husband had been solemnised with Charanjit Kaur.

Ms Ranjeep reported the matter to the Kalanaur police. The police booked her husband Inderjeet Singh, his second wife Charanjit Kaur, father-in-law Lakhwinder and mother-in-law Balbir Kaur.

She alleged that all accused in the case knew that her husband was still legally married to her. They deliberately arranged his second marriage to satisfy their urge for dowry from the second wife, she alleged.


Only living exponent of a rare instrument
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Jogi Kashinath is a gratified man today. After years of service to the folk legion of Punjab, he finally walked away with the coveted Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi award at a glittering function here some days ago. And as he prided in his achievement, his disciples looked on - happy that a labour of love had eventually been rewarded.

Jogi, for his part, wore a poised look lest he appeared to breach the fundamental lesson of music his guru Baba Gorakhnath gave him years ago: "In music, you don't measure your worth by what you get. You measure it by what you give." Years later, Jogi Kashinath still remembers the lesson from Multan - a place that nurtured his passion for wanjhali - which, he says, was last played by Ranjha.

Clinging to his piece of the instrument, which seems old as a century, Jogi got talking to The Tribune about his musical inheritance and its importance to him. In years, he built no house, opened no bank accounts. All he did was serve the listeners with the beauty of his melodies - folk and classical.

The only living exponent of wanjhali in Punjab, Jogi still leads the life of a recluse, enjoying only one company - that of music. He goes from place to place, seeking alms in return for melodies. At dusk he returns to his makeshift hutment in Sirsa, where his sons hold the fort in his absence. "They are also learning music. I have some 50 disciples from India," says Jogi, whose best claim to fame is participation in the international music festival held recently in the UK.

Sponsored by Heritage, a cultural group based in Punjab, Jogi wove a magical spell at the festival. He struck such intoxicating melodies on the wanjhali - an instrument unknown to the world - that all the participating musicians stood in line to match their music with his. "It was a communion of world music. I brought home a prize," declares Jogi who has performed across India as well.

A follower of Baba Gorakhnath, Jogi's skill lies in his mastery of all genres of music on the wanjhali and the "been". In the folk genre, he plays with ease Waris Shah's "Heer", Mirza Sahiba and Sohni Mahiwal. Difficult to handle, the wanjhali dances to its master's tunes, so does the "been" on which Jogi plays classical ragas effortlessly.

His repertoire is rich with Bhim Palasi, Bhairavi, Sindhi Bhairavi, Dogri, Shivranjani, Dhanasri and Bageshwari. Ask him from where he picked the nuances of classical system and he replies, "Music pervades the atmosphere. You just need to listen to the winds and trail the seasons to learn all about the play of melody. Nature is my best teacher."

Until some years ago, Jogi also used to sing folk songs which no longer adorn the repertoire of any folk musician in Punjab. But now he has quit singing for the love of playing and also the love of teaching. His students will, perhaps, form the last nursery of talent that plays the wanjhali that Ranjha played.


In love with Punjabi music
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

HOSHIARPUR: Highly impressed by the rhythm of Punjabi music, popular Danish pop singer Anita Lerche, who has already recorded albums in 13 languages of the world, has returned to Punjab to have formal training in Punjabi pop and folk music.

Going by her dedication and passion with which she is learning both Punjabi and Himachali genres of music, the day seems not too far when she will be able to make a mark in the musical arena of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

So strong is the resolve of Anita to get herself trained in finer nuances of Punjabi music that she has cancelled all her shows across Europe and has planned to stay in this city. She has already recorded two songs in Kulu dialect but her future plans include fusion of western and Punjabi music.

“The rhythm of Punjabi music virtually transports me into another realm and inspires me to dance. Actually, it has lots of energy and at the same time has so much of lightness, which is hardly found in any other genre of music. Since I have been learning music from the age of seven, I have heard a lot of music, but nothing makes me more ecstatic than the music of Punjab”, said Anita, who was accompanied by her host Anuraag Sood, during an exclusive interview with The Tribune.

Anita Lerche, who is a graduate from London’s Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, has alreadly recorded songs in 13 languages of the world.

She landed in India for the first time in June this year after she was fascinated by the scenic beauty of Parvati valley of Himachal.

Though she returned to Denmark in July, she has come back again to learn Punjabi music.

Turning to her future plans, Anita, who is being trained by Hoshiarpur-based music teacher Bakshinder and composer Lucky Apra and is learning yoga from Prof Chaman Lal Kapur, said, “I will be here for two to three months during which I would leave no stone unturned to gather as much Punjabi music as I can. I spend my day not only rehearsing and working on Punjabi music, but also by reading a lot about Punjabi folklore. I intend to create my very own style of music by blending music of the west with that of Punjab. It is not that the western music lacks emotions, but the rhythm of Punjabi music is simple, powerful and unique,” observed Anita.

Anita is so dedicated to her cause of learning Punjabi that she works on the Punjabi language for six hours a day. “Rest of time she, devotes to yoga”.


Satnam Singh heads Dal Khalsa
Pledges to work with Dalits, Hindus

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Two days after Dal Khalsa chief Gajinder Singh quit his post, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, a close associate of Gajinder Singh and founding member of the Dal Khalsa, was nominated as head of the Dal Khalsa for two years.

This decision was taken at a meeting of party office-bearers and members of the working and executive committee here today.

Making the announcement, the Dal Khalsa said Mr Gajinder Singh remained “its guiding force.” Mr Gajinder Singh is based in Pakistan and figures on the “most-wanted” list of Indian security agencies. Mr Satnam Singh was jailed for his alleged role in hijacking an Indian Airlines plane in the early eighties.

Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, a former working president, has been included in the executive committee - the highest decision-making body of the Dal Khalsa.

Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon and Mr Kanwar Pal Singh will be vice-president and general secretary, respectively.

An eight-member team that was constituted to look into the affairs of the organisation in various parts of the world includes Mr Manmohan Singh (UK), Mr Surinder Singh Sekhon and Mr Gurdeep Singh (Germany), Mr Ajit Singh Pannu and Mr Gagandeep Singh (USA), Mr Chattar Singh Saini (Canada), Mr Pritpal Singh (Switzerland) and Mr Gurinder Singh Chahal (New Zealand).

Mr Satnam Singh said “We will make an endeavour to reach out to the remotest village organisational base. The Dal Khalsa will now be cadre-based party requiring every member to renew his membership annually”.

He laid special emphasis on enrolment of women members.

In a major change from his earlier hardline image, Mr Satnam Singh pledged to work with Dalits and Hindus. He, however, maintained that the goal of a separate Sikh State had not been abandoned.

He said a decision on contesting Assembly elections in Punjab would be taken after due deliberations.


Front against Cong, Akalis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal today announced that it would form a third front against the Congress and the Prakash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab.

The third front and its constituents would be formally announced on December 14, said the president of the party, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann. He said the party had asked all Akali factions to set aside their squabbles to unite against Mr Badal.

The third alternative would not be a “vote spoiler”, said Mr Mann who had Khalistan ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan for company at a meeting with mediapersons here. Mr Mann claimed that he was in touch with several Akalis to form the front. He announced that the party would organise a three-day “World Sikh Parliament” in Chandigarh from December 30.


Cong has failed on every front: Badal
Tribune News Service

Mahilpur (Hoshiarpur), October 2
The ruling Congress government has failed on every front. The law and order situation has deteriorated and corruption has attained new heights. A hike of Rs 10 in market sale price (MSP) of paddy was a poor joke with the Punjab farmers, said former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while interacting with mediapersons here today.

Accompanied by his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP from Faridkot, and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was here to attend the bhog ceremony of late Mr Jagat Singh Thanon, father of Mr Sohan Singh Thandon, MLA Mahilpur.

Mr Badal also criticised the Congress for not procuring paddy, and a variety of cotton, thus causing huge losses to the farmer. He also denied formation of a new front by some of the party dissidents, including Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra.

Replying to queries that Mr Surjit Singh Barnala would lead the new front, Mr Badal said that Mr Barnala was closely associated with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and was a respectable veteran Akali leader. He made it clear that SAD will form next government.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the SAD would form a front to fight against the ruling Congress. He claimed that the SAD would prepare an economic agenda for the overall development of the state. He said the parties willing to fight against the Congress would be welcomed.


Pensioners return disappointed, minister
arrives late
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 2
About 8000 beneficiaries of the old-age pension, widow pension and handicapped pension categories of the Social Security Department from this district today participated in a pension distribution function, organised at the War Heroes Stadium here. However, most of them went back “disappointed” as no cash or cheques of their pensions were given to them at the function, though they were called to the function to receive the pensions.

A number of beneficiaries, including the old-age persons and widows, while returning to their destinations, said that they had been invited to the function perhaps for gathering at the function. Many of them alleged that they were invited to the function in the morning though Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, arrived at the venue at about 4 pm.

Ms Labh Kaur (70) from Rai Singh Wala village alleged that she had been going back without receiving cheque or cash of her old-age pension. She said she had eaten nothing since 10 am. Ms Raghbir Kaur (40), a widow also from Rai Singh Wala; Ms Mahinder Kaur (80), a woman from Maur, near Mehlan village; Ms Paramjit Kaur, a widow from Shahpur village (near Cheema); Mr Baldev Singh, a handicapped from Ghorrenab village (near Lehra), all beneficiaries of different pension schemes, also expressed anguish.

On the other hand, an officer of the administration said an amount of Rs 1,400 each had been given to 30 pensioners, including old-age, widow and handicapped beneficiaries. The spokesman said pension worth about Rs 2.10 crore had been given to 18 panchayats for distributing among the beneficiaries at village-level. The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, distributed pension at the function. With regard to wait of the minister for several hours by the pensioners, another officer said perhaps change in the time of arrival of the minister could not be conveyed to the pensioners in a proper manner.

Mr Singla said fiscal position of the state had improved a lot and if it continued the government would give Rs 300 per month pension to the old-age, widow and other such pensioners from April 2006.

He also criticised the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by saying that Mr Badal did not know anything about the agriculture, as he had never gone to the fields.

He also alleged that Mr Badal had “looted” Punjab and contributed in encouraging terrorism in the state in the past.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh had resigned as Member of Parliament in 1984 and from the ministry of Surjit Singh Barnala later on the issue of entry of the Army or the police into the Harmandir Sahib.


Old age pension to be increased by Rs 200: Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla today stated that with further improvement in the state’s economy old-age pension would be increased by another Rs 200. Mr Singla was addressing a gathering on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

The minister disbursed Rs 3 crore to various village panchayats to clear the backlog of old-age pensions in the district. He said the state government would start a new scheme for providing drinking water and sewerage project to 36 cities of the state from Muktsar on November 14. He said Rs 120 crore had been sanctioned for all-round development of Bathinda. He said a meeting today sanctioned the work on the city’s drinking water and sewerage project to a firm called ILFS. He said potable water would be supplied to the localities without it and a sewerage treatment plant would be installed at the cost of Rs 25 crore. He said another Rs 30 crore would be spent for disposal of rainwater in the city, while Rs 8 crore would be spent for new roads. He said all these works would be completed in 15 months. Continuing with “Badal bashing”, Mr Singla held the former Chief Minister responsible for poor economy of the state. He blew the trumpet of his government and urged people not to repeat the mistake of voting Akalis in the region.

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari and ADC (D) Gurkirat Kirpal Singh were also present.


100 get old-age pension

FEROZEPORE: The Punjab Government has released an amount of Rs 4.98 crore for disbursement to 66813 beneficiaries of this district under various social welfare schemes like old-age pension, widow pension and pension for handicapped persons.

This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur while presiding over a district-level function organised on the occasion of the Gandhi Jayanti here today.

Mr Thakur said the released amount would reach the beneficiaries within a week’s time through sarpanches in case of beneficiaries belonging to the rural areas and through banks for urban beneficiaries. He further said the amount released by the government also included the pensions pending for the three months from the last year, which had to be distributed among 60813 beneficiaries.

While paying respects to the Father of the Nation, Mr Thakur said it was high time that we should follow the footsteps of the great Mahatma, who strove hard for the uplift of the poor, needy and downtrodden.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Transport Minister, who was to preside over the function today did not turn up. On the occasion, Mr Thakur distributed cheques amounting to Rs 6,100 each to various beneficiaries under the Ashirwaad scheme and also provided grants to the needy people under the girl-child scheme started by the Social Welfare Department.


RSS chief warns of conversion of Sikhs
Sourabh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
Criticising alleged conversion of Dalits into Christians, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan, today blamed the Sikh leaders for the burgeoning situation. “They are all silent.”

Speaking at a Sangh function here on the last day of his visit to Punjab, Mr Sudarshan said Christian bodies were doing conversions in areas of Ferozepore, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Sangrur. He even blamed the SGPC for not doing anything to stop the trend. “We had asked the SGPC to pass a resolution asking Sikhs not to turn towards Christianity, but nothing happened.”

He also accused the political leaders of doing nothing for the sake of vote politics. “This is dangerous for the society.”

Doing a balancing act after massive protests to his visit to Amritsar a few days back, Mr Sudarshan today said that the Khalsa Panth was created for the protection of Hinduism.

But former Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, has refuted the allegations made by the RSS chief on alleged conversions. Mr Badal today said nothing of this sort was happening in the state.

Meanwhile, the paddy disaster has also made political leaders suddenly active. Speaking on the sudden crisis, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said that the affected farmers should be compensated for the non-procurement of the paddy from the Centre’s disaster fund. The Akali Dal chief added asked that agriculture in the state be declared a “sick industry.”

Condemning the recent episode of a state Minister defending an education officer who was caught taking bribe, Mr Badal said Mr Rakesh Pandey be made to step down as Technical Education Minister and a case registered against him.

UNI adds: Mr Sudarshan said various Christian outfits had undertaken conversions in different parts of the state including Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and a large number of Mazhabi Sikhs had embraced Christianity.

He termed unfortunate the allegation levelled against the RSS that it was involved in the conspiracy that led to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.


Christians’ body for release of members
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
Demanding the release of five members of the Punjab Christian Movement arrested after Monday’s clash with RSS workers, a massive rally was held outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner here yesterday.

Hundreds of members and supporters of the movement gathered outside the office of the DC and presented a memorandum of demands to Mr M.S. Kainth, ADC.

The members said they were not being allowed to hold demonstrations in the city owing to pressure from various Hindu associations.

Pastor Mushtaque of the United Pastor Association said the five persons arrested by the police were not being released owing to political pressure. He alleged three members of the Punjab Christian Movement, including a woman, were also injured during the brawl, but no action was taken in the case.

Meanwhile, security was beefed up around the administrative complex and nakas laid. A fire brigade and a riot control vehicle were kept in place to avoid any untoward incident.


Journalists advised to promote social values
Our Correspondent

Abu Road, October 2
Mediapersons should strengthen their moral and social values in order to promote such values in society. This was raid at the inauguration of a media conference and exhibition, organised by the media wing of the Rajyoga Education and Research Foundation, here today.

About 2000 delegates from India and Nepal, including journalists, owners, publishers, executives and other staff from the print and electronic media, and persons connected with the fields of telecommunications, internet service providers, IT professionals, media experts and academics attended the event, being held at the Shantivan Complex of the Brahma Kumaris.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Rajrup Fuliya, IAS, the Divisional Commissioner of Hisar, urged the media to cover the positive aspects of society in order to encourage good work.

Recounting his long association with the Brahma Kumaris, he said the spiritual teachings imparted at this organisation had enabled him to lead a balanced, positive and successful life even while discharging his professional duties.

The guest of honour, Ms Satya Behen, former MP and special invitee to the Central Working Committee of the All-India Congress Committee, said it was commonly said we should serve with our mind, body and money.

Lauding the Brahma Kumaris for working through the media to change the society, she urged the gathering to adopt the teachings of the institution in their lives.

The other guest of honour, Mr Madhavan Kutty, Associate Editor, New Indian Express, New Delhi, said the media shared the flaws of the society, therefore it was as flawed as the world we lived in. In particular, he said, commercialisation had brought in vulgarity in the media. At the same time, he said the media was to blame for having brought about a situation where it had to adopt sensationalism and play up vulgarity in order to thrive.

Giving her blessings to the gathering, Rajyogini Dadi Prakashmani, the chief of the Brahma Kumaris, said mediapersons had to function as messengers of peace. She urged all to experience deep peace and give up anger.

Rajyogini Dadi Hridaya Mohini, the joint chief of the Brahma Kumaris, asked the mediapersons to take up the task of fulfilling Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of establishing Ram Rajya in India.

Ms B.K. Jayanti, Director of the Brahma Kumaris Centres in London, noted that the media had so much influence over young minds that today television had become the biggest teacher for the children. But instead of increasing communication among human beings, the television and the internet were isolating people from one another, she said.

Ms Jayanti then gave the gathering an experience of guided meditation. In his welcome address, Mr B.K. Om Prakash, chairperson of the media wing, said the media was not only a mirror of the society but also could pay the role of a leader and guide.

Outlining the objectives of the conference, Mr B.K. Karuna, vice-chairperson of the media wing, said the promotion of values was the main aim of the conference, which had the theme “Role of Media in Restoring Values”.

Earlier, the conference was inaugurated by lighting of lamps by the speakers and other prominent persons. The inaugural session was co-coordinated by Mr B.K. Sharda, senior Rajyoga teacher from Ahmedabad.


Chaos rules Phagwara roads
Anil Jerath

Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 2
In the absence of proper traffic management, there is a total chaos on the city roads.

The problem is more prominent in the old city. Unruly traffic scenes greet residents at the entry points to the city on the Banga road, Hoshiarpur road, Sarai road, Gaushala road, Hargobind Nagar, Satnampura, Hadiabad, Dana Mandi and the local inter-state bus terminus.

Even as the presence of traffic police has been ensured by the authorities concerned at almost all vulnerable points of the national highway, hardly any cop is ever seen controlling the traffic when the lights become non-functional.

The biggest problem has been created by the traffic police at the bus stand where it allows private bus drivers to halt their vehicles to pick up passengers. As a result, vehicle drivers heading from Phagwara to Jalandhar usually fail to avail of the use of it as most of the road remains occupied by private buses.

Though the traffic police at the G.T. Road has failed to do anything about the congestion created by the shopkeepers and vegetable and fruit vendors, who have encroached upon a large part of the open space. Rehris at the place further complicate the situation.

No traffic regulation has ever been followed in any of the congested bazaars of the city, where fast and slow moving vehicles make it a nightmare for pedestrians.

When contacted, traffic in charge Sucha Singh said, the force in the traffic wing was understaffed.

“Many a times we have complained to Nagar Council officials about the dysfunctional traffic lights, but no one listens to our complaints, said Mr Sucha Singh.

“We are very particular that no bus halts outside the bus stand. If they defy orders, we challan them. Till August this year we have issued as many as 2,493 challans for various categories of offences and realised Rs 16,72,307 as fine from offenders,” said an official of the traffic police.

On the other hand, Nagar Council Executive Engineer Jagir Singh Thind said the council had cleared most of the encroachments near the bus stand and the remaining would be cleared very soon.


Memorial to Kapoor promised
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
Deputy Chief Minister Punjab Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said that a memorial would be raised in the memory of former Punjab Minister Surinder Kapoor and one of his family members would be given a government job. She stated this at a function organised to pay tributes to the departed leader here today. Mrs Bhattal announced an aid of Rs 5 lakh for the family of Mr Kapoor. She paid tributes to the ex-Minister on behalf of the Chief Minister. She said Mr Kapoor performed his duties with honesty and responsibility. PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo said the party could not forget Mr Kapoor’s contribution. Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla said they would fulfil dreams of Mr Kapoor by making Bathinda a textile destination. He said Mr Kapoor had announced to make Bathinda a textile city during the Beant Singh regime. He said the Improvement Trust would give a plot to Mr Kapoor’s family as financial assistance.

Health Minister Ramesh Chandra Dogra former Transport Minister Tej Parkash Singh and Congress leader Jagmeet Brar also paid tributes to the departed soul.


Prisoner dies in jail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
An inmate of Central Jail, here, died here yesterday after he was admitted to Civil Hospital following he complained of chest pain. The deceased, Suraj Bhan (55) was sentenced to 12-year imprisonment on January 20 last year in a case of poppy husk smuggling. He was a resident of Sardarewala village in Fatehabad district of Haryana. Sources said the deceased complained of chest pain on Wednesday and was administered some medicines at the jail’s dispensary. But, his pain aggravated next day and he was admitted to Civil Hospital where he underwent treatment. Sources said he was discharged on the same day and reportedly walked to the jail. Sources said he fainted at the jail’s gate and was taken inside on a stretcher.

He was again given some medicines in the jail, but his condition deteriorated on Saturday. Two doctors from Civil Hospital examined him in jail and asked the jail authorities to admit him in the hospital where he breathed his last yesterday. His body was handed over to his family members after a post-mortem examination today.

Deputy Superintendent, Jail, Balraj Singh, said the deceased was a diabetic and ailing for the past three-four days.


CPUJ observes ‘solidarity day’
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, October 2
On a call given by the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ) today observed “solidarity day” and presented a memorandum to the Punjab Governor.

The memorandum expressed solidarity with 362 regular employees of a national daily who were sacked by the management in an “arbitrary manner” on Gandhi Jayanti last year.

The members of the district and subdivisional units of the CPUJ in Punjab wore black badges and presented memoranda to DCs and SDMs, the CPUJ president, Mr Vinod Kohli said.

A press note urged the Centre to intervene in the matter and press upon the newspaper management to take back the employees.

Mr Kohli said the union would call for dharnas, protest rallies and demonstrations to express solidarity with their sacked colleagues. The CPUJ had also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Chandigarh seeking his intervention.


Protesters seek arrest of killers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 2
A large number of protesters, belonging to various farmer, political and other organisations, yesterday staged a dharna on the railway tracks for about two hours at Lehragaga, about 40 km from here, against the police for its alleged “failure” to arrest the killers of Jarnail Singh Ballran, a member of the block panchayat samiti, and Mithoo Singh, a truck operator, who had been killed in a clash between two groups of the Lehragaga Truck Union at Lehragaga on September 20.

The protesters also held a rally in the grain market and a demonstration in the town, demanding the arrest of the killers of the two without any delay.

The protesters were addressed among others by Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the SAD (A), Mr Balbir Singh Jhaloor, a leader of farmers, and Bhim Singh Alampur, a CPI leader.

All speakers asked the police and the administration to arrest the killers of Jarnail Singh and Mithoo Singh soon.

On the occasion, an officer of the administration assured the protesters that the accused would be nabbed soon and legal proceedings would be initiated against them.


Free cleft lip surgery
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
Children born with cleft lip or palate will be operated upon free of cost in a city hospital.

Pasricha Hospital has tied up with a New York based charity organisation, Smile Train, to conduct surgeries on children who cannot afford the treatment.

Stressing on the need for early surgery in the affected children, Dr Pasricha, who is a plastic surgeon, said late surgery can result in residual defects in their speech.

The hospital today organised a get-together of the children who were operated upon under the initiative.


Revoke doctor’s suspension: PCMSA

Nabha, October 2
The PCMSA has asked for the revoking of the suspension orders of Dr Mahesh Jindal and demanded registration of a criminal case against those persons who assaulted the doctor.

Dr Mahesh Jindal, an ENT specialist in the Civil hospital at Amloh, was suspended for not providing timely medical aid to Gagandeep, an employee of Connect, who was electrocuted on September 21.

He alleges that as he was on leave, he did not know that he was on call duty. He claims that he had reached the hospital within three minutes after receiving the call.

According to him, the people, who accompanied the dead youth, abused and manhandled him. He alleges that they even pelted stones at his residence. — OC


Children donate clothes to Pingalwara

Sangrur, October 2
Students of Golden Earth Global School donated clothes, blankets, books, etc to the Pingalwara, a branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, here yesterday. During their visit to the Pingalwara, they also distributed fruits among the inmates of the Pingalwara. — TNS


Verdict on ex-minister on Oct 6
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
The Special Judge, Mr S.K. Aggarwal, yesterday reserved orders in the disproportionate assets case against the former Akali minister and sitting MLA from Lohian, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, till October 6.

The judge decided to reserve the judgment following the contention of Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, former Advocate-General, Punjab, and the defence counsel, to quash the proceedings. The prosecution also presented its case.

Mr Mattewal argued that the Vigilance Bureau had not taken permission to hold the trial against the sitting MLA from the Speaker prior to filing of challan, as was mandatory after the Supreme Court judgment passed in the case of Mr Narasimha Rao.

Mr Mattewal raised a point that since Mr Kohar was a public servant, a preliminary inquiry against him was a must, but it was not conducted in his case.

Counsel also argued that a special court should have been set up in the area where the offence had been committed instead of having it in Jalandhar.

Mr Kohar’s counsel said since there were three special judges in Jalandhar, including a District and Sessions Judge and two Additional District and Sessions Judges, the Central Government should have notified as to who should conduct the trial, which did not happen in the case.

He also said the case was first heard in the court of the District and Sessions Judge but later transferred to the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.K. Aggarwal, for which the orders should have come from the High Court.

The prosecution also pleaded their case.

Later, the Special Judge decided to issue an order in this regard on October 6.


Sale of cotton below MSP disturbing: Brar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
Describing media reports on sale of cotton below MSP in presence of two Punjab ministers here yesterday as “disturbing”, senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar said a deputation of farmers from Malwa led by him would meet Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on October 4 to seek his intervention for bailing out farmers from “open loot”. This was stated by Mr Brar while addressing a press conference here today.

The Congress leader said the state ministers should have taken a serious notice of the sale of cotton below the MSP during the inaugural function yesterday. He termed the MSP of paddy and cotton as inadequate and said the farmers were already overburdened with debt. The farmers were not even being paid enough for their hard work and added that the present prices didn’t relate to the rising input costs. The MSP for cotton should be Rs 2,500 and for wheat it should be Rs 850. He attributed the delay in purchase of paddy to the fear of government agencies in procuring agricultural produce not fulfilling their specifications, which he said was the result of the scam relating to the delivery of poor quality food grains to other states.

He said the state had faced a similar crisis five years ago. The state’s farmers were paying a heavy price of certain people’s fraud. He said they would demand a high-level probe into the scam. They would also demand relaxation in specifications of the government agencies procuring paddy and cotton.

When asked about the state government’s role in the present scenario on paddy and cotton, Mr Brar said the government should have anticipated the crisis earlier and should have taken up the matter with the authorities concerned.


One held for priest’s murder

Bathinda, October 2
The police today arrested another accused in the murder case of the head sewadar of the Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji, Baba Gurcharan Singh.

The police also seized the items stolen and weapons used during the incident. The police had already arrested three accused in the case, while it was still searching for another accused. The Nehiawala police today arrested the fourth accused, Gurjant Singh, a resident of Deep Singh Nagar locality, from Jhunir in Mansa district. — TNS


Retired teachers of aided-schools demand pension
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 2
For Mangu Ram and others like him the struggle to get pension for teachers of private aided schools in the state seems to have backfired as they are not getting any pension benefits because of a ban by the government imposed on May 31, 2003.

Those joining service later than Mangu Ram and retiring before the said date are drawing pension benefits while these teachers are facing a bleak future.

Tired of the wait, they have now taken to warpath. The teachers are now demanding that the new recruitment should be put under preview of the new pension scheme while the teachers serving for over three decades must be given their due.

The private aided school teachers were granted pension benefits under the Pension Act, 1992, after decades of struggle. The Congress government in the state though froze pension on May 31, 2003, and ordered grant of pension only to those who retire by May 31, 2003.

The teachers who joined service as way back as 1966 like Mangu Ram who taught for over 38 years at Sai Dass School in Jalandhar have nowhere to go. They are demanding that the new pension scheme should be made applicable only to those who are recruited now. The affected teachers say that they have been compelled to start agitation.

Punjab has 415 higher and higher secondary schools, which are private but aided, and 85 are primary schools. There are approximately 3500 teachers who are drawing pension under the Pension Act 1992.

The present Congress government had on May 31, 2003, stopped the pension scheme saying that those retiring before the said date would get pension while those retiring after it would not be given the pension benefits.

As a result the teachers who joined service way back in 1966 and have more years of service but retired after the cut of date have been left in lurch by the government.

The government, on the other hand, is firm on its decision and is in process of formalising a new pension policy for those teachers who retired after May 31, 2003 cut-off date. Confirming the same the Secretary, School Education, Ms Tejinder Kaur, when contacted said, “The government decision is final in this regard and those retiring after the cut-off date irrespective of when they joined the service will be covered under the new pension policy, which is yet to be finalised.” She added that the government, keeping in mind the needs of the teachers is speeding up the process to formalise the new policy so that there is no undue harassment to the retired teachers.


120 attend seminar on folk religion, society
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 2
The Christian Institute of Religious Study (CIRS), BUC College, Batala, has organised a two-day national seminar on “Folk religion and society: Present perspective”. It was inaugurated by Prof Jagbir Singh and Bishop Anand Chandulal, vice-chairman, Baring Union Christian College Association. More than 120 delegates from various educational and religious institutes, including Earth Centre, Dalhousie, Epiphany Church, Salvation Army Church, Methodist Church and the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Noormahal, participated.

Rev R.M. Choudhary, director of the CIRS, in his concept paper highlighted that religion and folk religion remained proactive in every civilisation and fundamentals of both were so interconnected that it was tedious for participants to separate them.

Rt Rev A.C Lal, Coordinator, Earth Centre, Dalhousie, said: Folk religion helped us to forget all differences on basis of social and geographical fragments”. He also mentioned about the “green religion as a way of life that united all races and cultures of mankind by creating new environmental awareness.

Prof Hepesh Shepherd, Principal, B U C College, welcomed the guests and thanked the college management for organising the seminar.

In his keynote address, Dr Gurmeet Singh, of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, said: “Folk religion is synonymous with fundamental religion of mankind. This is why it gets manifested in one way or the other in all cultures and civilisations”.

While chairing the first technical session, Dr Jagbir Singh of Delhi University remarked that in modern context folk religion had gained great relevance since it was the only way by which one could find himself liberated from all parochial and practicals mishaps created by organised religion.

Prof Atma Singh of DAV College, Amritsar, expressed his ideas about ‘Punjabi Dalits and folk religion’ in which he discussed justifications behind rituals and myths.


Punjab faces land shortage for IT giants
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Paucity of land in Punjab is proving to be a major hurdle in the way of investment for information technology giants Wipro and Satyam.

Both companies have told the Punjab Government that they want chunks of land between 80 acres and 100 acres in Mohali to set up their respective bases in north India. Wipro has its headquarters in Bangalore while Satyam has its major base in Hyderabad.

The companies want to come to Mohali alone. However, no such chunk of land is available in Mohali right now, said a senior official involved in the investment process. The companies have been asked to “right size” their requirement as the cost of land in Mohali was close to Rs 1.50 crore per acre after including the development charges. Also, the companies have been told that they may be allowed more height for their buildings.

The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation has been asked to acquire 600 acres in Sectors 81 to 84, but that will take some time. In the meantime, the Punjab Government is looking at 70 acres, out of which 40 acres may be given to Wipro, located right next to the upcoming Special Economic Zone being set up by Quark. A decision on these 70 acres is expected soon.

Officials admit that paucity of land is a handicap for attracting investment in the IT sector. The Tata Consultancy Service (TCS), another IT company, needs 20 acres. However, the real challenge is finding land for Wipro and Satyam.

Officials in the IT sector are confident that Wipro and Satyam will come to Mohali as their competitors — Infosys, Dell and Quark — have already set up base in Chandigarh or Mohali.

The IT park at Chandigarh was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently where Infosys has a 20-acre campus.


Rotary Club holds camp for disabled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 2
The local Rotary Club, in collaboration with Manglam, a social organisation of Delhi and Lucknow, organised a medical check-up and primary investigation camp for handicapped to provide them with free artificial limbs hearing machines, wheel chairs and tri-cycles.

Mr Daljeet Singh, SDM, inaugurated the camp. Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, was the chief guest. Addressing the function, Dr Lal said the Rotary Club done a commendable job by organising such a camp. He said it was a real tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, president of the club, said on every October 2 such a camp would be held. He said 70 deaf and dumb would be given hearing machines, 60 artificial limbs, 10 calipers and 25 wheel chairs and tri-cycles. He said all these would cost Rs 5 lakh and these would be given on November 13.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, project chairman-cum-president of the Rice Millers Association, gave a detailed report about the project.

Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, Prof Kashmir Singh, Secretary, Mr Bhupinder Singh Jaggi, Rotary Governor-designate, also spoke.

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