P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt in soup over PAU failure to assess damage
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The failure of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and field officials of the Agriculture Department to provide the correct picture regarding the damage caused to paddy by inclement weather has put the state government in a hard situation. Sources said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and other senior government officers were informed in the last week of September by a team of the PAU that there was nothing to worry on the paddy front as the attacks of pests and various diseases were negligible.

Believing the briefing made by the PAU team, the officers became a little complacent and ignored media reports which highlighted the attacks of pests and diseases on paddy and damage caused to cotton crop by the weather.

In fact, in its front page story published on September 21, The Tribune had highlighted the attack of various diseases on paddy, especially blackening of its grains in the Malwa belt. After visiting various paddy fields in Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa, and after talking to a cross section of farmers, The Tribune had predicted that the damage in certain areas could go up to the extent of 35 per cent.

However, disagreeing with this newspapers assessment, officials concerned insisted that the situation was in control. The sources said the PAU officials only woke up when a hue and cry began in various grain markets following the large scale rejection of paddy stacks by the procurement agencies.

As the situation started turning bad to worse, the PAU teams rushed to different places to collect samples of paddy to identify the attack of pests and diseases and determine the quantum of damage.

The officials said were not given the true picture by the PAU team as well as the field officials of the Agriculture Department.

“We were kept in the dark,” they said on the condition of anonymity.

“If BKU General Secretary Balbir Singh Rajewal had not approached the Chief Minister and other senior officers, the government would not have realised the gravity of the situation,” said a senior officer.

When asked, Mr Rajewal confirmed that he had asked the Chief Minister, the Vice- Chancellor of the PAU and other senior officers that they should immediately get the damage assessed to approach the Union Government for seeking relaxation in specifications to procure paddy.

“On September 30, I sent a fax message to Capt Amarinder Singh and to Dr B.C. Gupta, Financial Commissioner, informing them about the prevailing situation in various grain markets and also to seek relaxation in specifications”, Mr Rajewal said.

The sources said as paddy crisis took a serious turn, the government contacted Centre on September 3. However, the Centre said it would relax the specifications but would impose a value cut.

As enforcing of a value cut would have created further problems for the Punjab Government, Capt Amarinder Singh, according to the sources, insisted that the specifications should be relaxed without imposing any value cut. He took up the matter with the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, who agreed to relax specifications without the cut.

The question now is how the PAU team had failed to make the correct assessment of damage.


CM assures hassle-free paddy sale
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
With the relaxation of specifications regarding the procurement of paddy in the state, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, assured farmers today that their struggle to sell their produce was over and it would be a hassle-free process for them.

The procurement process was in full swing and every grain of paddy would be bought at the minimum support price. The Chief Minister said this while on a visit to the grain market at Rajpura to inspect paddy procurement there.

Speaking to newspersons, Capt Amarinder Singh held Mr Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the militancy in the state and said the debate on the issue should be held before the media. The session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha would now be held from October 13 to 15.

Regarding the suicide by a farmer, he said the reasons behind the suicide were many, apart from the inability to sell paddy in the market. The government would take care that such a situation did not rise again. The grief-stricken family has been given Rs 5 lakh as compensation.

Capt Amarinder Singh listened to the farmers and their problems in selling of their produce and gave instructions to various officers of procurement agencies regarding them.

About the purchase of cotton, he said Markfed was buying the produce in 27 markets while Cotton Corporation was buying cotton in 13 others. He also revealed that the state had approached the Centre to relax the specifications regarding procurement of cotton. He had talked to the Minister of Textiles in this regard.


Farmers block entry to DC’s office
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 5
Farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), led by Mr Sukhdev Singh Jhaner, vice-president of the BKU (Rajewal), and Mr Gurjant Singh Mangwal, district president of the BKU (Rajewal), today blocked the road and main gate of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in support of their demands.

They also staged a dharna and held a rally for two hours in support of their demands, including relaxation in specifications for procurement of paddy as moisture content up to 20 per cent and damage/discoloured up to 15 per cent, withdrawal of hike in the price of diesel, and enhancement in the MSP of wheat in place of earlier announced Rs 10 per quintal.

They gathered at the Market Committee office near New Grain Market here and later marched to the DC’s office from there, raising slogans.

The farmers were addressed among others by Mr Sukhdev Singh Jhaner, Mr Gurjant Singh Mangwal, Mr Harcharan Singh, Mr Nachhattar Singh, Mr Gurmukh Singh, Mr Dalip Singh, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Sher Singh, Mr Gurmeet Singh and Mr Niranjan Singh, all leaders of the union.


Mandi workers, farmers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 5
Arhtiyas, mandi workers and farmers of Phar No 4 of local main Dana mandi blocked traffic on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road this afternoon to protest against discrimination against them in the form of non-purchase of paddy from the Phar.

Farmers alleged that an official of the Punjab Warehouse was demanding rupees twenty per quintals as illegal gratification for procuring paddy from the Phar. They even named the official.

While five quintals of paddy had been procured from other Phars in the past eight days, 15 quintals of paddy was lying unpurchased in Phar No 4, alleged the farmers.

The blockade was lifted when Phagwara DSP Navjot Singh Mahal assured protesters.


Novel protest by farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
A group of Punjab farmers made an unsuccessful bid to lodge a protest with regard to the " slow procurement" of paddy near the Punjab Assembly, which held its session today.

Dodging the police, the farmers, who carried paddy in two gunnybags , reached near a roundabout at a short distance from Punjab Bhavan this afternoon. When they tried to move towards the road leading to the Punjab Assembly, they were stopped by the police. However, they opened their gunnybags and scattered the paddy on the roadside to lodge their protest.

Though it could not be confirmed, sources said that this novel protest was planned by the leadership of the SAD. The sources said that one of farmers was detained by the police while the others escaped.


Badal pays tributes to farmer who committed suicide
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Assembly Session

While obituary references were being made, both the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Independent Sucha Singh Chhotepur, went factually wrong in paying tributes to Justice Ranjit Singh Narula.

Ms Bhattal said Justice Narula remained the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 1994 (instead of 1974) to 1977. Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur described him as Chief Secretary instead of Chief Justice.

Chandigarh, October 5
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, made an exception by choosing to pay tributes to Gurdev Singh, a farmer from Kapurthala, who had committed suicide inside a grain market last week, before the Punjab Vidhan Sabha was adjourned till October 13 afternoon after making obituary references here today.

“I do not want to give this tragic event any political colour. But it is unprecedented in the history of the country that a farmer committed suicide inside a grain market where he had come to sell his produce. Steps must be taken to prevent recurrence of such tragedies,” said Mr Badal urging the House to send a copy of the condolence resolution to the members of the bereaved family.

It is rare that a commoner’s unnatural death is taken up in the obituary references in the House. Mr Badal, however, insisted that this was a serious development and efforts should be made to avoid situations, which could force a common man to take such a drastic step.

Earlier, Mr Badal seconded the resolution moved by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, paying rich tributes to former Union Minister for Youth and Sports and cine star Sunil Dutt, former Chief Justice Ranjit Singh Narula and several others.

Since the Chief Minister and the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, and his two Cabinet colleagues - Mr Surinder Single and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa - could not attend the session today as they were reportedly away, Ms Bhattal paid tributes to Sunil Dutt, former Punjab ministers, Natha Singh Dalam and Surinder Kapoor, and former legislators Shiv Chand Malout and Phumman Singh, Gurbux Singh Dhaliwal, Dhanraj Singh Gill and Master Milkhu Ram Rattan and two freedom fighters, Giani Sant Singh and Ram Singh Tandon, besides Com Avtar Singh Malhotra.

Though Ms Bhattal also paid tributes to former MP, Sant Ram Singla, the Speaker said the House had already passed a condolence resolution about him during the last session of the House.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, after making the references to all included in the official list, made a special mention of farmer Gurdev Singh. Mr Tikshan Sood (BJP) and Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur (Independent), who spoke on the condolence resolution after Mr Badal, however, did not mention Gurdev Singh.

While putting the resolution before the House, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, also made no mention of Gurdev Singh.

Tentative business circulated earlier, suggesting the transaction of legislative business, both on October 6 and 7, was not approved by the Business Advisory Committee which met this morning. Instead the House was adjourned till October 13.


Rain fails to drown cotton experts' hope
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Despite cotton crop facing rough weather last month, experts are upbeat on expected cotton production and are sticking to the figure of 22 lakh bales for the state. Moreover, the arrival of cotton has doubled up in the last 2-3 days as compared to corresponding period last year.

Talking to The Tribune, Deputy Director (Cotton), Agriculture Department, Dr Jasbir Singh Bains, said though the arrival of cotton in September this year was much low as compared to last year, the overall scenario was looking up. Due to untimely rains only 47,800 bales of cotton arrived in the state's markets in September as against the figure of 70,000 bales in the same period last year.

He said the department was looking forward to cotton production of 22 lakh bales as against about 23 lakh bales expected prior to rainfall. The department had been closely monitoring the situation and no major pest attack had come to light from anywhere in the cotton belt.

He admitted that September 22 rain in Bathinda had damaged cotton crop in 40,341 acres of land in 50 villages.The rainfall led to high moisture extent, besides taking a toll on staple length.

The ex-president of North India Cotton Association, Mr Ashok Kapoor, stated that the daily arrival of cotton these days has shot up to 8,000-10,000 bales in the state, which was almost double as compared to corresponding period last year. The arrival in Haryana was 3,000-4,000 bales, while it was 2,000 bales in Rajasthan.

He attributed increased arrival to early maturity and good production of cotton. He said the quality of cotton had also improved and its speedy arrival would make up for the losses of last month.

This year 70,000-80,000 bales had arrived in these three states till September 30 as against a figure of 1.25 lakh bales in the corresponding period last year. However, according to him, arrival in Rajasthan picks up in October.

He said the farmers of Haryana were fetching a price of up to Rs 1,850 per quintal at key stations.

Sounding optimistic, he too looks forward to a cotton production of 22 lakh bales in the state. On the role of agencies like Markfed and CCI, Mr Kapoor said though they were making symbolic purchases their mere presence had stemmed the decline in cotton prices.

The agencies could still play a better part and they should start making purchases on a regular basis as the government was subsidising the entire operation.

Mr Bhagwan Bansal, president of Punjab Cotton Factories and Ginners Association, was also confident of the state's cotton production touching a figure of 22 lakh bales. However, he ruled out the possibility of a glut in the market stating that private firms had enhanced their production capacity and they would make cotton purchase on a large scale. 


Replace visa with permits: Fakhar Zaman
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
India needs to market its tourism potential because of its diverse cultures. This was the conclusion of a two-day national conference on “Tourism and Economic Development: Policy Imperatives & Implications” at BBK DAV College yesterday.

Punjab holds tremendous potential in religious and cultural tourism. This needs to be tapped to boost economy and provide employment to its large educated human resource.

Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman, World Punjabi Congress, favouring a “permit” system instead of visas, charged the governments of India and Pakistan of deliberate hurdles and bottlenecks in free movement of people.

He stressed on keeping geographical identities in tact. But pressure should be mounted on governments to boost tourism in both countries by abolishing the visa system, he said.

In the keynote address, Prof R.L. Bhatt, Chairperson, Department of Economics, University of Jammu, presented a comprehensive study on the positive and negative impact of travel and tourism on national economies.

Touching on social and cultural ramifications, he stressed that tourism was a source of universal peace and understanding as well as destroyer of indigenous cultures and ecology. “Though China is leading amongst the Asian countries, the forecast for India is promising”.

Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, called for soft borders between India and Pakistan for cultural growth and economic development. He felt that pilgrim destinations in both countries were ‘gold mines’ and had an immense potential for employment and revenue generation.

Mr B.R. Abrol, vice-president, DAVCMC, emphasised on a change in mindset for promotion of tourism in India. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GNDU, also spoke.

Dr Sukhdev Singh, convener, INTACH, stressing on the need for English as a global language, classified tourism as entertainment, spiritual and commercial and focused on tourist-friendly services and infrastructure.

Dr Parminder Singh, GNDU, condemning sloganering at the Retreat ceremony on the Wagah border, urged for identification of tourist destinations related to the freedom struggle.

Mr V.S. Mulekar said expansion in the aviation industry would give a boost to tourism. More airlines were making a beeline for the holy city, he added.


DC office staff on mass leave
Seek withdrawal of “false” case against clerk
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 5
On the call of District Office Employees Association (DC Office)Sangrur, almost all employees of the DC office of this district, working at sub-Tehsils, tehsils, subdivisions and district headquarters here, today proceeded on mass casual leave for today, observed a dharna and held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner under the leadership of Mr Surinder Pal Lehra, president of the association.

According to the association leaders, there are 243 employees (assistants, stenos and clerks) in the district, and almost all were on mass casual leave today.

They proceeded on mass casual leave today in protest against the registration of a corruption case against Satgur Singh, registry clerk in the tehsil office here, on September 30. They alleged that Satgur Singh had been implicated in a “false” case on the complaint of a person for allegedly accepting Rs 5,000 as bribe from him. They also alleged that Satgur Singh had been caught by the Vigilance officials, when he had been issuing a receipt of Rs 5,000 to the complainant on his request in lieu of the amount of Rs.5000, which was pending towards him on account of less stamp paper fee and registration fee, assessed by the SDM, Sangrur, in a case of registration of a sale deed, belonging to the complainant.

Mr Surinder Pal Lehra, president of the District Office Employees Association (DC Office), Sangrur, claimed that Satgur Singh had been arrested by the Vigilance without any investigation by showing the amount of Rs 5,000 as a bribe though it had been received for issuing a receipt. He said besides this the Vigilance authorities also took the sale deed forcibly in possession from the office of the District Collector without his (District Collector) permission and without giving any receipt of the sale deed to the office of the District Collector.

Mr Surinder Pal Lehra said the association wanted that the DSP Vigilance should be suspended. Besides, a case should also be registered against him for taking the sale deed forcibly with him from the office of the District Collector. They also wanted that the false case registered against Satgur Singh should immediately be withdrawn. He said the association also demanded an inquiry by an SDM into this case to bring the facts on record.

Mr Sham Sunder, general secretary of the association, warned the administration that if the false case registered against Satgur Singh was not withdrawn then they would be compelled to intensify their agitation. He said the association would also involve other organisations of the employees to intensify the struggle.


Bholath MC chief’s election put off
Tribune News Service

Bholath (Kapurthala), October 5
Election for the post of Municipal Council’s president in Bholath was put off today after unruly scenes in the tehsil complex where the newly elected members of the two rival factions assembled this morning.

Even as MC members of the Congress and the SAD had just arrived, arguments ensued between the members of both parties over the use of mobile phones. Seven Akali members supported by Bibi Jagir Kaur, MLA, rued that they were forced to deposit their mobile sets with officials deputed outside the gates of the complex while six Congress members were allowed to carry phones inside. They said that while the appointment process had just begun, Congress members were busy over phones spoiling the decorum of the convention.

After the matter was sorted out, there was yet another clash between the members of both groups as the Congress members argued that the appointment of the MC chief be put off in the light of two petitions filed by them over the conduct of recently concluded elections.

At this, the Bibi reportedly pointed out that since the members had already taken oath, there was no point in postponing the appointment of the president. The Congress members allegedly even tried to tear the oath papers and a register that an MC official was carrying to note down the proceedings.

Tension built up further as the members started throwing chairs on each other. In the process, one of Congress members even threw off turban of Gurminder Singh, an officer of the Executive Committee (EO) of the MC. The police reached to control the situation.

Finally, convener Iqbal Singh Sandhu, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), decided to postpone the appointment of the MC president. He reported the matter with Deputy Commissioner Sameer Kumar, for further action. The officer also gave a complaint in writing to the SHO, Bholath, for getting a case registered against the Congress member who allegedly misbehaved with the EO officer.

Polls were held for appointment of Nagar Panchayat chief at Begowal. The Akali members who were in majority, supported by the SGPC chief, voted in favour of Mr Dalip Singh who was chosen MC chief. Ms Chander Prabha, a rebel Congress member, was taken as MC Vice-President.

At Dhilwan, where all independent candidates had won the civic polls, Ms Jaswant Kaur was chosen the MC President while Mr Ravinder Sharma was taken Vice-President. Leaders of both rival parties claim that the president, who had not fought on any party symbol, was supported by them.


Cong sweeps nagar panchayat poll
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
All three posts of president, senior vice-president and vice-president went to the candidates of the Congress in the Rajasansi nagar panchayat elections held here today.

Mr Inderpal Singh was elected president while the seats of senior vice-president and vice-president went to Ms Sukhjit Kaur and Mr Darshan Singh, respectively.

Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM, said 13 council members and local MLA Vir Singh Lopoke were present during the voting.


Nayagaon rape victim’s father threatens suicide
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 5
The Nayagaon rape victim’s father, Balkar Singh, today stated that he had decided to commit suicide. Repeating a statement given by his daughter earlier, Balkar Singh said he had no hope for justice left from the Punjab state.

“What good is a state that cannot give justice to a poor, minor, Dalit rape victim?” he questioned, adding that the entire police department would be responsible for his death.

Mr Suresh Arora, IG (headquarters) heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case, however, today reiterated his assurance to the family of the rape victim that justice would be delivered to them.

In a written statement, Balkar Singh added that he would not appear before the new SIT “as we have no faith in any one except Sumedh Singh Saini. We met him today and begged him to give justice to us but he showed his inability to do so and told us to meet Suresh Arora. But we have decided not to meet him (Mr Suresh Arora)”, he said.

Mr Arora had taken over the reigns of SIT after Mr Saini IG (economic offence wings) had offered to step down. “The family should not lose hope like this. I have not changed Mr Saini’s team which was investigating the case. And the family has no reason to lose confidence in us,” said Mr Arora.

Alleging that the accused are highly influential and would manage to derail the investigations, Balkar Singh said he also feared for the life of his family from the accused.

“The security we had has been taken away now following the change in SIT. I have, as a result, shifted my family to an unknown place where they would be safe and would also not come to know of my death,” he said. He also alleged that a member of the Punjab DGP’s staff was “close” to the accused and it was because of him that they were not allowed to meet him. “In such circumstances where should I go?” he asked.

When asked about providing security to the victim’s family Mr Suresh Arora said in case the family had been given security from the Punjab police he would make sure it continued to be with them.

Yesterday, the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes asked the Home Secretary, Mr A.K. Dubey, to appoint an official of the rank of Additional Director-General of Police to head SIT probing the “Nayagaon rape case”.

The family of the victim had also some days ago stated that they would be contacting the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in New Delhi for deliverance of justice to them.


Retired Lt-Col seeks justice
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 5
A retired army officer, Lt-Col Anil Kabotra, who has been duped by some influential persons of Pathankot of his hard-earned money, is running from pillar to post to get justice. Despite directions from the Punjab DGP, the local police officials have allegedly not come to his rescue.

While talking to The Tribune, Col Kabotra alleged that some influential persons of the area had opened a share-trading company at Pathankot. He invested his hard-earned money in shares through them. The prices of the shares, in which he invested increased. The influential persons running the company declined to give him the profit. Later he came to know that the share-trading company being run openly in Pathankot was illegal.

He reported the matter to the police. However, the police officials failed to act in the matter. He had to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get an FIR registered in the matter. Despite the fact that the FIR was registered in the case about two years ago, the police had not called even one of the accused for even questioning, he alleged.

He alleged that he married a divorcee from Pathankot at the age of 41. He constructed a house at Pathankot and invested his savings in the business of his father-in-law. About a year ago he a minor dispute with his wife.

The local police, under the influence of some people, registered a case of dowry against him. He was forcibly turned out of his house. After failing to get justice from the local police, he pleaded before the Punjab DGP to get his case investigated by an officer posted out of the district.

On the directions of the DGP, SP (Internal), Vigilance Cell, Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, conducted an inquiry into the allegations leveled against him. The inquiry report found the charges of dowry demand against him as baseless. On the basis of the inquiry the DGP wrote to the SSP, Gurdaspur, to withdraw the case of dowry against him and felicitate Col Kobotra’s entry into his own house by providing security, if necessary. Besides, the DGP also ordered a fresh inquiry into the fraud committed on him by illegal share-trading company.

Despite the clear directions from the DGP, the local police officials were not helping him. The police officials had still not started an inquiry into the fraud committed on him by the persons running the illegal share-trading company, he alleged.


Protest against pollution by stone-crushing units
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 5
Residents of Hariyal village today blocked traffic on the Pathankot-Kangra national highway for about two hours to protest against the pollution being caused in their area by the trucks carrying crushed material from crushers located in Chaki river.

The villagers, including a large number of women, sat on the national highway and raised slogans against the local administration. They alleged that the administration has failed to act against owners of stone crusher who spreading pollution in the area.

About a fortnight ago, the villagers had gathered in large numbers at Pathankot. After giving a memorandum to the local administration, they, in a press conference, had warned of blocking national highway. The protestors are alleging that heavy vehicles carrying crushed stones pass on the links roads connecting their villages despite the fact that an alternate road has been allotted to them.

The vehicles damage the roads as they are not designed to bear the huge loads the trucks carry. Besides the dust emanating from the trucks carrying crushed stones fill their houses. The entire markets of Hariyal village is loosing business due to the pollution being caused by the trucks. The link road passing through their market was very narrow. The heavy vehicles passing over it also cause traffic problems, they alleged.

When approached by the local administration the villagers insisted that the local SHO should be called to the spot. They blamed him by not stopping illegal plying of heavy vehicles through their village. The SHO, however, sent his junior to the spot who tried to pacify the agitating villagers.

The villagers lifted the dharna only after the naib tehsildar assured them that heavy trucks would not be allowed to ply through their village. He deputed policemen to ensure that heavy vehicle do not ply on the road.

Most of the stone crushers operating in the Chaki river near Hariyal village were not complying with the norms laid by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

They have also been directed to transport the material in covered trucks and spray water so as to minimize the dust emanating from them. However, none of the owners was complying with the laid norms.


Malta boat tragedy: govt for thorough inquiry
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 5
To provide help to the families of Malta boat tragedy victims Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab, in a letter to Mr A. K. Dubey, Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, said the government should take up this case in its own hand. She has also sent a copy of the letter to Mr Balwant Singh Khera, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission.

The details given by Mr Khera revealed that there were still some cases of undiscovered persons and the case needs thorough inquiry by the government. The probe mission had identified 141 persons either missing or dead in that fateful incident. The list prepared by the Ministry of External Affairs, received in her department contained 79 persons whereas the two lists received from the Home Department on April 8, 2005, and June 9, 2005, contained names of 88 and 95 persons, respectively.

She suggested that the lists of names should be merged and released to the press. A public notice should also be issued requesting that information of any other missing person, who had not been included in previous lists should contact the government with relevant details. Thereafter, the case would be probed and final list be prepared so that the families could be helped accordingly.


A town of architectural splendour
Balraj Mahajan

BATALA: One of the oldest towns in the province of Lahore in mediaeval times, Batala, located 38 km north-west of Amritsar on the Pathankot road, is home to 14 monuments of religious and historic importance.

Of these, five are mosques, two temples and two gurdwaras (rebuilt recently, preserving the old portions of the building). Three monuments are connected with Sikh history and two with the Mughal period.

Jal Mahal stands in the middle of the big tank of Shamsher Khan. Shamsher Khan (a eunuch) was an administrator (karori) of Batala during the regime of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar.

Jal Mahal and the palace of Maharaja Sher Singh were built by the Maharaja (AD 1780-1839). The palace is under the control of the authorities of the local Baring Union Christian College. The administrative offices of the college are housed in it.

Jal Mahal is said to be under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Jal Mahal (Baradari) and the palace of Maharaja Sher Singh were connected through a tunnel. According to some senior citizens Shamsher Khan Tank of Jal Mahal used to filled with water through the tunnel which was further connected by a long tunnel (canal) to the Beas near Kahnuwan. The remnants of the tunnel can be seen near Baring Christian College.

Maharaja Sher Singh used to hold meetings of his courtiers in Jal Mahal. The water reservoir was built by Shamsher Khan while the beautiful Baradari in the centre of the tank was constructed by Maharaja Sher Singh. It has a square room in the centre of a pavilion with a passage. The entry to the first floor is by a staircase with concave-shaped steps on the north-eastern canal. Jal Mahal has eight doors in the lower part of the building and four in the upper storey. The inner wall contained beautiful art glass carvings and wall paintings. However, major parts of the paintings have been erased or damaged. The roof of the pavilion has also fallen. The Municipal Council had provided a tubewell to fill up the tank till the eighties. All sides of the reservoir were lined with Nanakshahi bricks. However, with the passage of time the brick lining has been destroyed. Now a days, on one side of the tank is located a vridh ashram owned and managed by the Dainik Prarthana Sabha. There also exists Bhadr Kali Mandir and Shivala. The upper portion of Jal Mahal is in a dilapidated condition and the time is not far when this magnificent structure will pass into oblivion.

Locally known as Hazira, structure is near Baring College and was built by Shamsher Khan. The tomb stands on a raised platform surrounded by a low wall having bastions in the corners. The tomb is an octagonal structure crowned with a low dome. The spandrels of the arches have painted arabesque and geometrical designs.

The interior wall as well as the exterior of the tomb is richly adorned with paintings depicting floral, geometrical and calligraphic designs. The decoration is intact on the interior but on the exterior only its traces survive. Recently, the ASI had undertaken repairs. Preservation work has been done on its interior as well as exterior walls. The surroundings of this monuments, too, have been beautified.

The palace of Maharaja Sher Singh reminds one of the love of rich architectural structures by Sikh rulers. This beautiful building with mud plastering was known to be part of Anarkali which was initially built along with Baradari as an imitation of Shalimar Garden of Lahore. The remnants wall paintings and carvings can seen. However, the attitude of the authorities of the ASI and Baring Union College may lead to the fading away of the original design and structure of the building.


Licence of ultrasound centre suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
The District Civil Surgeon today raided the premises of Aggarwal Ultrasound centre and suspended its license it after it was found by the team that the centre was violating the PNDT Act.

The centre, run by Dr P.C. Aggarwal, was raided by a team comprising the Civil Surgeon, Dr V.S. Mohi, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, SMO, Model Town dispensary, Dr Jagbir Singh, president of the district unit of the IMA, Dr S.B. Pandhi, SMO, Samana, and Mr Anil Mehta, a member of a non government [email protected]@The team found discrepancies in the records of the centre and decided to suspend its license for a period of four months. @@Last week the office of the Civil Surgeon had suspended the licenses of Goel Nursing Home, Samana and Guru Nanak Ultrasound centre, Rajpura after both the nursing homes were found to be violating the PNDT Act of 1994.


Working of nursing homes under scanner
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, October 5
The functioning of scores of private hospitals and nursing homes have come under a scanner following the arrest of a proprietor of a local nursing home for illegal abortions and not maintaining records.

The doctor was arrested on the complaint of Ms Madhu Bala, a midwife at the nursing home, who was allegedly caught red-handed while “selling” an infant boy.

Inquiries at various nursing homes and hospitals revealed that childless couples approach these institutes in Pathankot, Talwara, Mukerian, Dasuya, Tanda, Hoshiarpur, Mahilpur, Garhshankar, Balachaur and Ropar. They even give money to the proprietors as advance payment for the same.

Talking to The Tribune, a prominent doctor here on condition of anonymity, said at least 50 such cases were reported in Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts every year.

Unwanted babies were abandoned at birth and left with the hospital authorities, which in turn “sold” the infants to childless couples.

While contacted, Dr Manjit Kaur, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said she was not aware if MTP were being performed illegally. She had not got any complaint in this regard, she said.


3 hurt in cylinder blast
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 5
Three members of a family, including a child, sustained serious burn injuries when a blast in a house ripped apart the roof of the house and left cracks in the walls in Rattanpura locality last night.

According to sources, the blast occurred due to gas leaking from an LPG cylinder.

Mithilesh (36), Anil (20) and Santulan (10) were injured. Mithilesh and Anil were referred to the DMC, Ludhiana, in critical condition. The child was admitted to the local Civil Hospital with minor injuries.


DC visits mandis
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
The DC, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal, today visited various anaj mandis to check the procurement of paddy. He said the problems of the farmers were heard.


high court
Process of appointing Punjab Lok Pal ‘almost complete’
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 5
The Punjab Advocate-General, Mr R.S. Cheema, today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the Punjab Government had "almost completed" the process of appointment of a new Lok Pal in the state.

During resumed hearing of a writ filed by Mr Sunil Kumar of Faridkot, seeking directions to the government to either appoint a Lok Pal, who would dispose of all pending cases, or hand the pending cases to some other agency for disposal, Mr Cheema stated that only judicial consultation was now pending before the name of the new Lok Pal is finalised.

On the last hearing, Mr Cheema had informed the Bench that he had had a meeting with the Chief Minister in this regard and the entire process would be completed within two months.

The last Lok Pal, Justice D.V. Sehgal (retd), died in office two years ago and since then the Capt Amarinder Singh government has kept the post of Lok Pal vacant. Only a retired Judge of a High Court can be appointed as Lok Pal.

When he died, Justice Sehgal was still looking into over 280 complaints.

In his petition, Mr Sunil Kumar, whose complaint alleging irregularities in the selection of teachers by the Punjab Government is still pending in the office of Lok Pal, had sought disposal of all pending complaints. Before he passed away, Justice Sehgal had summoned entire record pertaining to the selections.

After hearing the AG, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the matter to November 30.

Seepage problem

The High Court has directed the Punjab Government through its Chief Secretary and others to attend to the problem of seepage that exists in many government houses in Sector 39-C.

Disposing of the petition filed by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhinder seeking directions to the respondents to properly maintain government houses allotted to Punjab Government employees, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta also ordered that the Chief Engineer, PWD, Punjab, would ensure that only quality material is used to repair the houses.

Mr Bhinder, who is the President of the Punjab Government Employees Resident Welfare Association of Category I Houses, Sector 39-C, had alleged that the government had failed to maintain the houses properly despite the fact that it was deducting 5 per cent of the basic pay of the employees every month for the same.

The Bench gave four weeks time to the respondents to rectify the problems in the houses. The Bench also said any laxity in attending to the complaints and carrying out the requisite repairs would be viewed seriously, as dereliction of duty on part of the officer concerned.


Lawyers protest against DC’s ‘misbehaviour’
Our Correspondent

Malout, October 5
Protest by the Bar Association, Malout against alleged misbehaviour of the Deputy Commissioner (DC), Muktsar with members of the association today entered seventh day.

In a press note here today, Mr Ajay Singh Godara, president of the association, said that a few days back, members of the association went to the DC to discuss possession of old Tehsil Complex.

He said that they took appointment from the DC but he (DC) kept the members waiting for one and half hours, after that he called the members in his office and refused to listen to anything from the members.

Not only this, the DC also passed sarcastic remarks against a senior advocate.


Shivalik school Principal gets anticipatory bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
The Principal of Shivalik Public School, Ms Gurpeet Mathur, was today granted anticipatory bail by a local court in a case registered against her for issuing a circular banning students from wearing kirpan and heavy “kara”. She was booked under Section 153-A of the IPC on the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr H.I.S Garewal. She was asked to furnished a surety bond of 25, 000 by the court. Ms Mathur’s counsel while pleading her case said she had issued the circular to maintain discipline in the school and not to hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community.

Later, she had also made amendment in the circular stating that the except Amritdhari Sikhs no other student would be allowed to wear kirpan and “Kara” and apologised to the students for the earlier circular, he [email protected]@The Public Prosecutor opposed the bail on the ground that Ms Mathur did not join the investigation and the original copy of the circular was not supplied to the [email protected]@The defence counsel countered the police claim by stating that Ms Mathur had joined the investigation. Regarding a copy of the circular, the defense counsel said Ms Mathur had already admitted that she had issued a circular and copy of the circular was also supplied to the investigation agency.


Former directors move court
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
Former Director of Rural Development and Panchayat R. Venktaraman and former Social Welfare Department Deputy Director Kiran Dhawan today moved an application in a local court to discharge them in a case of corruption registered against them by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. The two had pleaded that the Vigilance Bureau did not seek the proper sanction from the competent authority for registering a case against them.


Sons kill father over property dispute
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
Agitated over being disowned from properties, Malkeet Singh, Santokh Singh and Palwinder Singh allegedly killed their father Chanan Singh in Chhina Karam Singh village in Ajnala police station under Majitha police district here late last evening.

A case under Sections 302 and 34, IPC, was registered today. All accused are absconding.

According to information, Chanan Singh had three sons and one daughter from his first wife while and one son from the second wife. He disowned his sons from the first wife from his properties.

The armed accused allegedly killed him and threw his body in a canal. The police has found the body.


Man held for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Nabha, October 5
Mr Inderjit Kaur (23) of Sirajpur village 15 Km from here was allegedly killed by her in-laws for bringing inadequate dowry. She has left behind one-year old daughter.

According to her father, Mr Nasib Singh, today they received the news of her death at native Rurki Budh Singh Wali village 60 Km from here. He added that he came to know that the family of her in-laws was going to cremate her body hurriedly. He said he approached the SP (D) Patiala to stop the cremation, who had it stopped. He added he was told that Inderjit had died due to vomiting and loose motions but her body had injury marks especially on her neck. He asked for her post-mortem examination.

Sadar police Nabha arrested Didar Singh, husband of Inderjit Kaur.


Unidentified body recovered, murder suspected
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
An unidentified body was found in a sack behind bushes at Street No. 26/7 on the Ajit Road here today.

According to sources, hands and legs of the deceased were tied, while his face was covered with a plastic bag. Sources said he was reportedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons. After receiving a tip-off about the body, Sahara volunteers informed the police, which reached the spot. SP (D), Ajay Maluja, and the SP (H), Vijay Kumar Sharma, inspected the spot and sent the body to Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.


Thieves injure two, decamp with valuables
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Thieves struck at the residence of Mr Amarnath Bansal at Budhlada in Mansa and decamped with cash and gold worth about Rs 70,000 after seriously injuring his mother and daughter on Monday night.

According to sources, armed thieves scaled a wall to gain entry into Mr Bansal’s residence late last night. They first picked up the mobile phone of his brother, Mr Bhushan Kumar Bansal, who was sleeping in his room. They then headed towards the room having almirahs, where his mother Keso Devi and daughter Saloni were asleep.

When they started looking for valuables, both of them got up and resisted their bid. As the thieves attacked the women with iron rods and sharp-edged weapons. Hearing the screams of the women, other family members and neighbours came to their rescue. But the thieves escaped taking away Rs 10,000 and gold worth about Rs 60,000.A dog squad was pressed into service and a police team also took finger prints to find clues about thieves.

The SSP, Mr Amit Parsad, inspected the crime scene.

Both injured were admitted to Civil Hospital in Bathinda. A case has been registered. 


One held with fake currency
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 5
The CIA staff of Kapurthala police has arrested a member of a gang involved in circulating fake currency and recovered counterfeit notes totalling Rs 21,000 during a naka on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road here yesterday.

Kapurthala SSP Rajiv Ahir said that a police team headed by SP (D) Gurmit Singh set up a naka on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road. Being suspicious of the activities of a person, the police asked him to stop. He tried to flee the spot but was overpowered by the alert policemen.

After interrogation, he was identified as Jagdish Chander, a resident of Sarai Road in Phagwara. The police also recovered fake 211 notes of the denomination of Rs 100 from his possession. The police also said that he had been active in circulating fake currency in and around Phagwara for quite some time.

The police further disclosed that he was just an ordinary member of the gang. The kingpin of the gang, Balbir Singh, a resident of Khanna, was in custody of Jalandhar police. He (Balbir Singh) was arrested along with fake currency in March by the Jalandhar police.

“Jagdish Chander used to circulate fake currency, brought from Patna, in and around Phagwara. Earlier also, he was arrested by the Phagwara police along with fake currency worth Rs 38,000 in May. He was recently bailed out from Kapurthala jail and once again remained active in fake currency circulation, disclosed the SSP.

A case under 489A, 489B, 489C and 489D has been registered against the accused.


Jathedar escapes attack, sevadars hurt
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib had a narrow escape today when some miscreants allegedly attacked him at Joga village of Mansa district where he had gone to check anti-Panth activities being carried out at the behest of a villager.

Talking to The Tribune, the takht manager, Mr Bharpur Singh, said they had been receiving complaints about some anti-Panth activities like hypnotising people, astrology and spreading superstition being carried out in a room raised on a vacant plot.

He said the plot belonged to Gurjeet Singh, a village resident, and it was about to be auctioned. To prevent its auction, he installed Guru Granth Sahib in the room and started such activities, he alleged.

He said the jathedar along with Panj Piaras, Mata Sahib Kaur Girls College Principal Davinder Kaur and its staff today visited the place to find out the reality. He said they found people were sitting with their back towards Guru Granth Sahib.

Three women were pretending to have some divine powers and were promising people to treat their ailments. When the jathedar asked them as to what they were doing a person pounced on him with a sword, but sevadars standing close to him saved him.

However, Sevadar Resham Singh sustained serious injuries, while sevadar Sita Singh was injured.

The manager said the women, who were misleading devotees, later admitted that they didn’t know anything. He said it was Gurjeet Singh’s ploy to stop the auction of his land. The police has registered a case.


DSP nabbed on tampering charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested one of its own DSPs for allegedly trying to tamper with evidence in a corruption case.

A spokesperson of the bureau said during investigations DSP Kahan Singh had been found guilty of tampering with evidence along with Inspector Harjinder Singh.

Harjinder Singh of Ludhiana had been nabbed while accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 about two weeks ago. A case was registered.

During his police remand Harjinder Singh allegedly removed an important piece of evidence against him in connivance with Kahan Singh. The case was investigated by Mr M. S. Chhina, SP, Vigilance Bureau, Flying Squad-I. He found Kahan Singh guilty of tampering with evidence.


Theft in shops
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 5
Five shops of the Kishanpura road were burgled and cash and goods worth thousands of rupees were stolen by breaking into the shops through the rooftops. Mobile phones, cash and other items were stolen. The police has registered a case.


Nurses denied due status: TNAI chief
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 5
A large scale migration of qualified nurses and deteriorating standards of education in the nursing institutions all over the country are a big cause for concern, both for the healthcare sector and the professional nurses in the country. In the absence of comprehensive remedial measures by the government and the regulatory authorities concerned, the situation is bound to reach a point of no return.

Stating this in an interview with The Tribune here today, Ms Satish Chawla, national president of the Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI), observed that at the rate the trained and qualified nurses were migrating to foreign countries, thanks to denial of due status and financial stability, the country was in for an acute shortage of nursing professionals in the near future. To make the matters worse, the mushrooming growth of nursing institutions without adequate infrastructure was wreaking havoc on the standards of education.

The TNAI president was here to attend the ongoing 21st Biennial of the TNAI from October 3 to 7, at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.

Without mincing words, Ms Chawla alleged that the state nursing councils all over the country, and particularly in Punjab, were virtually hand in glove with the owners of nursing schools and colleges, who were being allowed to fleece the students and run their institutions like ‘shops’ without proper faculty and other infrastructure in gross violation of explicitly laid down norms for nursing schools and colleges.

“The reason for this rot is also not difficult to understand. Trained and qualified nurses are not being given due representation on these regulatory bodies, which are dominated by bureaucrats and other stooges of the government,” she said.

She was sore at the step-motherly treatment being given by the Centre and the state governments to the nurses. “The demand for setting up separate central and state-level directorates for nursing is hanging fire for the past several years. We have no security of service, pay scales are erratic, promotional channels are non-existent and almost without exception; and the service conditions of the nurses are pathetic,” she said.

That the traditional Punjabi hospitality and warmth had failed to live up to its reputation during the national meet of the nurses was evident from the somber mood of Ms Chawla on the eve of formal inauguration of the conference. She said the conference was being attended by delegates from 30 states and union territories and the body represented a little more than 1.40 lakh trained nurses in the country.

“It is rather unfortunate that the Minister of Health, senior health officials, or even district administration, for that matter, has not found it proper to participate in the conference even after the host state unit has been making all attempts to invite them,” Ms Chawla lamented.

Dr Kanwaljit Gill, president, and Dr Jasbir Kaur, general secretary, of the state unit of the TNAI, were present at the occasion.


B.Ed admissions: violation of norms alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
Acting under alleged pressure of the managements of the newly opened B. Ed colleges, the Panjab University, Chandigarh has flouted condition of admitting those students who get the minimum qualifying marks in the B.Ed entrance test. While special note at the bottom of page number 3 of the prospectus of B.Ed entrance test 2005 strictly states, “Any candidate possessing even a fraction less than the above mentioned percentage (i.e. 40 per cent or 100 out of 250 marks) will not be considered for interview”, the university has started admitting students with less than the qualifying marks fixed for the admission.

Sources said that after finding that a large number of seats in the newly opened privately managed unaided B.Ed colleges were vacant, the university acted under pressure and allowed these colleges to admit students who had not even qualified (secured minimum 40%) for the B.Ed entrance test held on June 22, 2005.

Sources said that though the three counsellings for admissions into B.Ed had already been conducted, a large number of seats were still lying vacant in the privately managed unaided colleges in the state, which had put a pressure on the Punjab government to lower merit and resulting in conducting two more counsellings.

Sources pointed out that about 80 new B.Ed colleges had come up in the state in this very year and 90 colleges opened up in the past two years while there were only 25 colleges in the state earlier.

While Dr Satinder Kaur Dhillon, co-ordinator, B. Ed admissions 2005 could not be contacted, university sources said due procedure had been followed in the fresh admissions of B.Ed. The sources claimed that the Department of Higher Education of the state government had issued instructions to the Panjab University to lower admission merit and try to fill as many seats of B.Ed as possible.


Globalisation of education a reality of modern world
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
Mr Rex Morgan, chairman the Council of Governors, Pillwater house schools, Australia and chairman Rex Morgan Foundation said today that globalisation of education was a reality of modern world. He was chief guest of silver jubilee celebrations of Spring Dale Senior School here.

In his keynote address Mr Morgan said that international co-operative education would blossom in next decades, which might witness ‘outsourcing’ of government schools. He added that the future school managing institutions must guard against appointments without considering competencies.

He called upon students to combat corruption and be aware of bureaucratic dishonesty etc.

Eminent educationists and principals of various schools and colleges were present on the occasion. Mr Morgan presented order of excellence awards to eminent personalities connected to the school, including Dr Inderjit Kaur of Pingalwara, Brig Narinder Singh Sandhu, Master Ajit Singh of citizen’s forums Vidya Mandir- the school for the victims of drug abuse. About 230 achievement awards were given to meritorious students of the school.


Punjab plans 2 types of math, science at X level
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
As part of the lecture series of eminent scholars being held in the department of sociology, Panjab University, Prof Harbans Singh Sidhu, chairman, Punjab School Education Board, gave a talk on school education in rural Punjab: progress, prospects and constraints.

Commenting on the curriculum, Prof Sidhu said the board had taken it seriously and wanted to introduce two types of math and science at the level of matriculation examination: soft math and science for those students who have lesser aptitude to these subjects and comparatively higher level of math and science for those who want to further pursue their career in these disciplines.

The recent World Bank report on the school education in Punjab has done more harm than helping it. The facts from the Education Department show that at the primary school level 5 per cent schools have no building in Punjab, 78 per cent are without toilet facilities, 36 per cent have no boundary wall, and 44.6 per cent have no playground.

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