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Muslims turning to BJP: Advani
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 23
Giving a clarion call to people of Punjab and Bihar to “throw away” Capt Amarinder Singh and Rabri Devi-led governments the BJP chief, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, today repeatedly reminded them about unparalleled contribution of Mahatma Gandhi towards uplift of Dalits of the country.

At the same time, Mr Advani in his apparent effort to woo Muslims, said they were turning towards the BJP. He cited an example in favour of his conclusion by putting forth results of the recent Ahmedabad civic poll, wherein the BJP not only secured 96 of the total 129 seats, but had also sweeped in the Muslim-dominated areas of that city.

Mr Advani also lamented the self-centric approach of political parties, which, according to him, were doing nothing for the welfare of people, but were busy wooing Dalits and Muslims in every possible way and were eyeing these communities as mere vote banks.

“In Bihar Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav using cheap gimmicks for seeking Muslim votes is sheer humiliation of the entire Muslim community,” he said.

Mr Advani was addressing people at the “Dalit Boliya, Singhasan Doliya” rally organised by the SC Morcha of the BJP, at Buta Mandi grounds here. It was the first rally of the BJP in Buta Mandi, which was traditionally considered to be a BSP stronghold and where the BSP chief Ms Mayawati had held a mammoth gathering just before the Lok Sabha poll.

Touching a slightly different note this time, Mr Advani tried to revolve his utterances around Mahatma Gandhi and projected him latter as a “messiah” of Dalits more than once.

Mr Advani also hastened to add in his apparent bid to project the BJP as a secular party that it was the BJP, who had made a Muslim like Dr A.P.J. Kalam as the President of India.”

Mr Ram Nath Kovind, Rajya Sabha MP, opposed reservation benefits to those Dalits who had embraced Christianity, but in the same breath advised the Prime Minister and UPA chairperson Ms Sonia Gandhi to develop a political consensus for making reservation in private sector a reality.

Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP, alleged that the Punjab government was trying to deceive farmers and Dalits by making announcements about waiving of power bills. “There are just 676 families in the entire state who are availing of this facility. There are no power motors of 5 housepower in Punjab. So, government statistics are farce,” he said.

Mr Navjot Sidhu also criticised the Punjab Government for its “dismal” performance.

Ms Jas Kaur Meena, in charge Punjab BJP affairs, and Mr Vijay Sampla, chief of SC Morcha of Punjab BJP also spoke on the occasion. Mr Shiv Dayal Chugh, BJP district unit president Mr Manoranjan Kalia, former minister were also present on the dais.

Interestingly, some senior BJP leaders including Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, were seen sitting among spectators.


Debate telecast: Speaker’s permission ‘had been sought’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
A joint statement issued by six ministers of the Punjab Government today claimed that the state government had sought permission from the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, for the re-telecast of the debate on “roots and causes of terrorism in Punjab”.

The question of any violation did not exist. On the contrary, the ministers said it was the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its leadership that was gagging the media. The people of Punjab had every right to know about the genesis of terrorism in the state. It was also the duty of the state government to get the proceedings of debate re-telecast on Doordarshan and other channels to enable people to have a clear perspective, claimed the ministers.

The statement was issued by the Local Government Minister, Ch Jagjit Singh, the Irrigation and Rural Development Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, the Cooperation Minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa and the Minister of State for Forests, Mr Hans Raj Joshan.

They strongly refuted the charges levelled against the state government by the SAD General Secretary, Mr Sukhbir Badal, who was quoted in a section of the Press of having said that the repeat telecast of the proceedings was “disturbing the peaceful atmosphere” in the state and “dividing people along communal lines”.

The ministers said, “The uncalled media hype created over this issue by the Akalis was nothing but sheer escapism to divert the attention of the masses from the facts precipitated after the debate holding the Akalis responsible in general and the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in particular for aiding and abetting terrorism in Punjab”.

The ministers also advised the Badals to desist from issuing such provocative and irresponsible statements to divert the attention of the people from the core issue — “who was the real culprit for fanning terrorism in the state”.


Health problems on the rise in cotton belt
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 23
Even as the Punjab Government is grappling to find out the exact cause of the rising incidence of cancer in the cotton belt here, a bunch of social activists and experts have found numerous health problems, including those related to reproductive system, among a large number of Malwa residents.

Kheti Virasat, an NGO, had kicked off a programme to promote safe use of pesticides in rural areas of Malwa during the drive health problems like greying of hair and early ageing were found among a number of villagers.

Dr Ashutosh Halder of Department of Reproductive Biology, All- India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, who also participated in the programme, said genetic (DNA) damage had led to the above-mentioned problems. Contrary to increasing talk of indiscriminate use of pesticides in the cotton belt, he said contaminated water could also be one of the factors contributing to these health problems and the matter required thorough study. He said mindless use of pesticides could be one factor, but the whole scenario could not be attributed to it alone.

Dr Haldar said he interacted with some persons at Jajjal and Gayana villages who seemed to be over 50 years of age, but was taken aback to know that they were just 30. He also came across some children below

the age of 15 and having 75 per cent grey hair. He stressed on immediate measures to tackle this grave situation, which might worsen in coming days. Another member of the team, Ms Raminderjeet Kaur Saini, said they discovered that the age of puberty among the boys was delayed by a couple of years, while menstrual cycle among the girls was also getting delayed by about two to four years.

The Joint Director of Kheti Virasat, Mr Surinder Singh, said the worst part was that these problems were observed in the villages that were already reeling under rising incidence of cancer. He said the need of the hour was to find solution to these serious health problems in a systematic and sustainable manner without creating panic. He said a comprehensive study would be the first step towards dealing with the problem.


Crackers cause maximum pollution in Amritsar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The highest volume of toxic gases, extremely dangerous to the health of human beings and vegetation, is released in the atmosphere with the bursting of crackers during the Divali.

The maximum pollution by the bursting of crackers during Divali, which is only 10 days away, is caused in Amritsar city while Patiala, having a royal heritage, remains least polluted during Divali.

A report regarding the release of toxic and harmful gases during Divali has been prepared by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) by collecting and analysing the data of the past two years. A team of scientific officers, including Mr Pardeep Thakur, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Jasvinder Singh, Mr Janak Raj, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Onkar Singh, Mr Sandeep Gupta, Ms Geeta Chawala and Ms Darshanjit Kaur, was deputed to collect the air samples and the analysis was made by Dr H.K. Parwana, Senior Scientific Officer of the board.

Among the poisonous gases released with the bursting of crackers include oxides of nitrogen, oxides of phosphorous, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Oxides of nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous are very corrosive and highly acidic in nature. Carbon monoxide, one of the oxides of carbon released in the atmosphere is an extremely poisonous gas. Suspended particulate matter (SPM) released in the atmosphere containing oxides of metals and dust particles can cause serious health hazards. Highly toxic heavy metals like cadmium and lead in addition to other metals such as copper, manganese, zinc, sodium, magnesium and potassium are also used to manufacture firecrackers.

Mr Malvinder Singh, member-Secretary of the board, states in the report that carbon monoxide (CO) causes harm by binding with haemoglobin in our blood forming carboxy haemoglobin (COHB). CO attaches with haemoglobin roughly 220 times more strongly than oxygen. The haemoglobin thus banded cannot serve its normal function of transportation of oxygen in the blood and deprives the body of oxygen affecting the functioning of vital organs.

Inhalation of metals and toxic gases released during the busting of crackers mostly causes problems in the respiratory tract. And the noise pollution caused by the bursting of crackers results in restlessness, anger, fidgetiness, impulsive behaviour and overreaction to situations. It also affects the eardrums.

The board report says that the areas, most affected by the bursting of crackers were Amritsar and Ludhiana during 2003 and 2004. Whereas the concentration of suspended particulate matter was recorded 1750 microgram per cubic metre in Amritsar during the peak hours of Divali night in 2004, in Ludhiana it was 1284 microgram per cubic metre on that day in 2003. In Amritsar, it was about nine times more than the prescribed limit while in Ludhiana it was six times above the fixed limit. In Patiala city, it was in the range of 510 microgram per cubic metre. Though it was above the prescribed limit but it was far less as compared to Ludhiana and Amritsar. In other cities, the pollution level was also above the prescribed level.

Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Chairman of the PPCB, said that the objective of his organisation was to create awareness among people. He said that the festival of Divali should be celebrated with full gusto but bursting of the crackers, which release poisonous gases, should be strictly avoided.


SGPC chief wants SP suspended, shifted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 23
SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur today demanded the suspension and transfer of Superintendent of police Harmanbir Singh Gill for his role in yesterday’s incident in which Baba Gurpinder and his followers attacked shrine of Satlani Gurdwara to regain possession.

Two followers of Baba Satlani were killed while four SGPC employees injured in the incident. Had the DGP not intervened the situation could have worsened, she added.

She alleged that SP was inebriated when he reached the spot last evening.

The SGPC said the SP was posted in his hometown and not transferred even during elections due to political connections, as his brother was a sitting MLA.

However, Mr Gill refuted the allegations and said that the police with senior police officials, including the district police chief were present on the spot.

He said that he had to take preventive measures to save the situation when the Baba attacked from two sides SGPC employees in the gurdwara.


36 SAD (A) workers join SAD (Badal)

Moga, October 23
Over 36 Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) workers including three office-bearers of its youth wing joined SAD (Badal) in the presence of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and party general secretary at Nihalsingh Wala last evening.

Tota Singh, former minister, Zora Singh Bhagike, MLA, Mr Barjinder Singh Brar senior vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal SAD and others were also present. — PTI


In the footsteps of his father
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 23
Theatre is vibrant and it is drawing towards it quite a few of those in limelight, feels Manpal Tiwana, who apart from being the son of Punjabi theatre doyen Harpal Tiwana, is also a performing artiste in his own right.

Theatre has been his calling from his childhood. He has had his share of acts, we could say. When he was five years old, he developed a penchant for acting. Roles that demanded playing “nagara” were a hot favourite with Manpal. “My father, who was among the first NSD alumni, would tell my teacher that he required my services for 10 days. And I would be thrilled doing those itsy-bitsy roles in my father’s production,” he says.

From 1993-1997, he was associated with the production of his father’s noted play “Sirhind Di Deewar” that portrayed the sacrifices of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh.

In 1965, Harpal Tiwana, along with Punjabi writer Harcharan Singh, presented a play on the same theme in Mumbai. It received rave reviews from Prithiviraj Kapoor and Balraj Sahni and the audience, found it gripping. Later, the play was a resounding success all over the country and in parts of the UK the USA and Canada, says Manpal.

It’s hard to miss the imprint of Harpal Tiwana’s brilliance when we talk to Manpal. “All performing arts have their genesis in theatre. I would say that theatre is the art of perfection. It allows you no retakes. You are as good as your last performance,” he explains, recalling his association with his father’s Punjabi folk theatre in the 1990s.

Being the creative director of the Harpal Tiwana Foundation has given him an edge that many would envy. “We want to carry forward the legacy of Harpal Tiwana. I feel my parents found theatre to be the raison d’être of their lives,” says this artiste as he chats up with us after the presentation of “Sirhind Di Deewar” at the Baba Jassa Singh Kapurthala Heritage Festival being organised at Sainik School here by the Kapurthala Heritage Trust in association with INTACH.

Manpal is also into documentary making. His stint at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London, has been doing him good.

“Sirhind Di Deewar” evoked a warm response from the audience. With a plotline that is part of our collective psyche, the play focused on the values of faith and moral courage in the face of tyranny. Manpal, in his role as Sirhind Governor Wazir Khan, and other artistes, including Neena Tiwana, gave convincing performances.


Superstitious minister?
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 23
The Punjab Government recently purchased luxury cars each for Rs 19 lakh for its ministers but the superstition of tying black tassel to a car continues in the belief that it will ward off mishap. This fact came to light when Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar visited here for a meeting of the district grievance committee.

The minister’s official luxury car white Toyota (PB12H-3808) which was parked outside the canal rest house here become a subject of discussion for everyone who was here to meet the minister. Besides the presence of new car, black tassel tried in rear of the car drew the attention of everyone.

Some lauded the Chief Minister for bringing minister luxury cars others were surprised at the government decision when salaries of the government employees were not paid in home money. To them it was a misuse of public money.

Some officials wonder that the government had done good thing, but who is going to make use of the of the cars as Assembly elections were due after a year.

Driver of the car Ajmer Singh when asked about the black tassel said that it was tied as the car was new. It is believed that black tassel averts mishaps.

Coming out of canal rest house talking to the Press, he was reacting to the question that the teachers Mr Johar justified teachers preparing valeerluists complaint He was replying to a question that the study of the students suffered due to they being used for other works. Mr Johar said that its part of teachers duty to perform other assignments. 


Manipur Governor bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Mr Brijinder Singh Sidhu, a retired Inspector-General of Punjab Police and elder brother of the Governor of Manipur, Dr S.S. Sidhu, died here today after a prolonged illness. He was 81.

Mr Brijinder Singh Sidhu, who belonged to the 1953 batch of the IPS, joined Punjab Police as a Deputy Superintendent in 1949 and had his initial stints at Rohtak and Ludhiana. Because of his distinguished record, he was sent to Andhra Pradesh for tackling the Communist uprising as leader of the Punjab Police contingent.

On his elevation as the Superintendent of Police, he served in Amritsar (Border) and later district police chief of Hoshiarpur. In 1960 he joined the Central Bureau of Investigation. On return to his parent cadre, he was posted as SP of Karnal and then Patiala.

He also worked as district police chief of Ferozepore and Amritsar. In 1971 he was awarded President’s police medal for distinguished service. On promotion as DIG, he headed Patiala and Jalandhar Ranges, respectively.

As an Inspector-General of Police, he remained in the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), Jalandhar and superannuated in 1982 after 33 years of distinguished service.

Mr Sidhu was an accomplished hockey player and played for FC College, Lahore, and later looked after sportsmen in the Punjab Police as Inspector-General of PAP.

He will be cremated here tomorrow.


Homage paid to ’62 hero

Moga, October 23
Homages were paid to war hero Subedar Joginder Singh of Mahla Kalan in this district, a Param Vir Chakra winner (Posthumously) at a function organised by the Army at the memorial on the GT road this morning to mark the 43rd deatn anniversary of the 1962 China War.

Senior officers of the Army and civil administration including Brigadier N.S. Kapur, Deputy General Officer Commanding, 7th Infantry Division was among others who placed wreaths at the war hero’s memorial.

Ms Gurdial Kaur, widow of late Subedar Joginder Singh who turned up dispite poor health and old age was also honoured by Brigadier N.S. Kapur.

Brig Kapur also distributed cheques worth Rs 1.33 lakh on behalf of the Sainik Board among eight families of gallantry award winners and for daughters’ marriage. — PTI


Onions sell for Rs 20 a kg
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 23
Onions which were sold at the rate of Rs 10/12 a kg a fortnight ago are selling at the rate of Rs 18/20 a kg these days.

Although the price is high but quality is very poor and one has to discard half of the purchased material as waste which pains the buyer.

A number of housewives today complained ‘wrong policies’ of the government regarding the management and distribution of items like onions etc. It has pushed the price up. Onions are basic requirement of cooking.


Teenagers from J&K visit Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 23
As many as 30 teenagers from terrorist-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir under Army’s Operation Sadbhavana scheme visited the holy city yesterday.

Accompanied by Army officials, the children in age group of 11-14, visited the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir and partook of ‘langar’. They were visibly moved after an interaction with former cricketer and member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu at Jallianwala Bagh.


2 die in mishap

Phagwara, October 23
Two persons — Nirmal Singh, (32) and Makhan Singh, (30) of village Bhawangarh in Bathinda district, were knocked down to death on the GT road near Kanshi Nagar yesterday.

The truck driver sped away after the accident. The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A (and 279 (rash driving) of the IPC.

It was learnt today that these two were riding in a truck (HR37-A/6732) coming from Pathankot to Ludhiana. The tyre of the truck loaded with ‘bajri’ (crushed stone) got punctured near Kanshi Nagar.

Driver of the truck Inderjit Singh said that he parked the truck along the GT road. The duo also got down and stood along the road. Meanwhile, another truck hit the duo and fled, added Inderjit Singh.

Post-mortem examination of the bodies was done in Civil Hospital here and bodies handed over to the kin of the deceased. — OC


VB nabs gunman, SHO gives slip

Moga, October 23
Vigilance Bureau (VB) officials nabbed the gunman of the Station House Officer (SHO) of Dharamkot police station in the district and recovered Rs 7000 in cash from his possession last night.

Vigilance officials today said that gunman Kewal Singh was nabbed with the money which was given to him by SHO of Dharamkot Bhola Singh for the release of detained person Papa Singh, arrested some time back in a theft case. The SHO, who escaped VB dragnet, had accepted the money and had handed it over to his gunman.

The money was given to the SHO by Sukhmander Singh, an uncle of the detained person. VB officials also recovered Papa Singh from Dharamkot police station.

A case under section 342 of the IPC for wrongful confinement and the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the SHO and his gunman. According to DSP Vigilance Narinder Pal Singh, the SHO through his gunman called Papa Singh a week back in connection with a theft case.

When the SHO found nothing against him he demanded Rs 10,000 from his uncle Sukhmander Singh for his release. The matter was settled for Rs 7000. — UNI, PTI


Gang of dacoits busted, six arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 23
The district police claims to have busted a six-member gang of dacoits, who were operating in this district.

The police has arrested all six members of the gang and seized two pistols, cartridges, two swords, iron rods and various other items.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said the accused had been identified as Alok Kumar Singh, Sudhir Kumar, Aklesh Kumar, Dharminder Sah and Bhola Kumar, all residents of Bihar, and Rohit Kumar of Muradabad.

During interrogation they revealed that they had murdered a salesman of a liquor shop situated at the Madhopur chowk in Sirhind and looted the shop. Similarly, they were indulged in various robberies in residential areas in rural areas around Fatehgarh Sahib.


Rai university leaves students in lurch
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 23
Students of the Rai university centre on the Gurdaspur-Pathankot road are in a bind. They are on the verge of losing two to three academic years and lakhs paid as fee to the university.

The Supreme Court in an order issued a year ago declared the Rai university fake. It had also directed the colleges running the Rai university courses get affiliation from the recognised university of their respective areas and complete the courses for which their students had taken admissions.

However, students of the Rai university centre here alleged that their management was not making any effort to get their courses recognised from the nearest Guru Nanak Dev university. “Since the Supreme Court order they had stopped paying attention to them. Instead the management of the college opened a polytechnic college. Their entire attention was towards new students. None of the management officials was interacting with them or telling them any thing about their future. Only a few lectures are given to them by the old lecturers. They are not sure of the authority that would take their examination or the degree would be awarded to them or not.

About 25 affected students also held a press conference at the PWD rest house at Pathankot today to narrate their woes. “Vikrant, a management student, told that most of the students from Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts had taken admission in MBA and BBA courses of the Rai university centre.

Now more than half of them are in the final or mid semesters. They cannot leave the institute as it will mean loss of the academic years as well as money they paid as fee. The students also threatened to move court if the management of the college failed to protect their interests.

The college is run by a trust headed by Mrs Anu Bhalla wife of a former Minister and at present member administration, Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Raman Bhalla. Mr Bhalla or Mrs Anu Bhalla were not available for comments despite attempts to contact him on phone.


Punjab plans law to ban ragging
Our Correspondent.

Faridkot, October 23
The Punjab Government plans to enact a law banning ragging in all colleges in the state. A legislation in this regard is likely to be taken up in the next Assembly session.

This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Higher Education, while talking to this reporter here on Friday.

Describing ragging as a social evil, she said the government could not shrug off its responsibilities to take effective measures to eradicate the problem.

She expressed ignorance about any state government decision to reserve 50 per cent seats in postgraduation courses in its medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot for students who had cleared their MBBS courses from these institutions.

She said any such discrimination would not be allowed. She promised to inquire into the matter in this connection which was brought to her notice by a delegation of students of the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital through a memorandum.

She said steps were also under way to strengthen the Directorate of Medical Research and Education to improve the working conditions in medical institutions in the state.

Earlier, she inaugurated a three-day youth festival of Faridkot-Bathinda zone comprising 29 colleges affiliated with Punjabi University, Patiala. The festival began at the local Government Brijindra College. She gave a cheque of Rs 5 lakh so that the project could take off.


Decision to dilute banks’ equity flayed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 23
The government’s decision to dilute the equity of nationalised banks up to 49 per cent came up for sharp criticism at the fifth conference of the All-India Oriental Bank Officers Association held at Guru Tegh Bahadur Hall, Punjabi University, here today.

The bank’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr K.N. Prithviraj, and Executive Director, Mr M.D. Mallya, were the chief guests. Mr R.J. Sreeedharan, Mr Yog Raj Gupta, Mr N.K.Gaur and other senior members addressed the conference.

It was put forth that if the equity of public sector banks come into private hands, it would defeat the purpose of nationalising banks in India. The association opposed the move to merge banks. If India opened up its banks to international banking, it would be at the cost of social and rural banking and it would ruin the economy, it was felt.

Moreover, the total assets of all nationalised banks, if merged, would be about $ 300 billion, which was far below the world majors like Citibank ($1600 billion) and HSBC ($1051 billion).

The association demanded action to recover the bad loans, which amounted to approximately Rs 100,000 crore on March 31, 2004. The association revealed that about Rs 70,000 crore has been written off during the past 10 years. The association reiterated its demand for an amendment in the Securitisation Act, besides other reforms in the banking sector.

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