P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Suspected bird flu carriers seen
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Two of the three species of migratory birds that are suspected carriers of the bird flu virus were sighted at Ropar today. These include The Large Cormorant and the Gulls, which, along with the Bar Headed Geese have been found infected with the bird flu virus in China, Thailand and the UK.

As many as 100 Large Cormorants and 40 Gulls have been spotted near Ropar Headworks, close to the National Highway this morning. The Punjab Wildlife Department added that the arrival of the Great Bar Headed Geese was expected any time at Harike Wetland where 27 watchers and 10 forest guards had been deputed to monitor the movement of birds. The sightings at Ropar have been done today by former honorary wildlife wardens of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur Sukhdeep Bajwa and Gunraj Singh.

It may be mentioned that the monitoring staff of the Punjab Wildlife Department and the Animal Husbandry Department is primarily concentrating on sanctuary areas right now, although vast wetland areas of Punjab are equally attractive for migratory birds.

Department officials when contacted seemed clueless about the arrival of Cormorants and Gulls, although they said the migratory season was on and the birds’ arrival was natural. In this regard the importance of intense monitoring of the suspected flu virus carriers cannot be overemphasised. The flu spreads very fast to infect humans and poultry and India is deficient in anti-bird flu vaccine.

Dr H.S. Sandha, nodal officer for the migratory birds monitoring job in Punjab, told The Tribune that immediate testing of bird droppings was vital to rule out chances of infection.

“We have to particularly monitor the birds for casualty, said Dr Sandha, Joint Director, Radio Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar, where dropping samples from birds are being sent for testing.

In case of casualty, samples will be sent to the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal for confirmation of infection. As of now, no infection has been reported in Punjab, Dr Sandha said.

While Punjab Wildlife staff is yet to confirm sightings of the three migratory species on which China earlier sounded a red alert, wildlife experts say a firm policy for combat of a possible threat must be put in place and vast wetland areas of Punjab covered.

“We can’t wait for casualty to happen. We should assess as many carrier birds as possible, get samples of their droppings and test them for the virus. It is equally important to note that carriers travel through the water systems of Punjab and don’t restrict themselves to sanctuaries. Cormorants are known to visit fish farms,” said Mr Bajwa.

The Punjab Wildlife Department had convened a meeting of its staff on October 19 and had distributed pictures of the three “danger” species which are suspected to carry the virus. “The idea is to help field staff identify birds and report their sighting to headquarters. Also we have instructed them to wear masks and gloves while handling dead birds. We have no casualty yet,” said a highly placed official.


Bird flu: wetland area unprotected
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 26
Despite alert having been sounded to take precautionary measure against spread of bird flu from migrated birds in several parts of India, International wetland area in Ropar has remained unprotected even as the migrated birds has already been arriving here since October 10. On the Ropar wetland area situated along the bank in Sutlej hundreds of migrated birds from Siberia and Central Asia can be seen from October to April.

The first migrated birds which arrived here are pairs of ruddy shelduck, poachard, coots, besides a large number of local birds. The wetland area has more than 150 species of migratory birds and local birds. But neither forest department nor the district administration has come with any plan to tackle with the situation so far.

Out of 1365-hectare area of Ropar wetland, about 800 hectares is under river and reservoir.

An ornithologist, Mr Jaspreet Singh, who is keeping track of the birds for the past 20 years in this area, said that the migrated birds arrived here about five days earlier this year. But seeing the threat of bird flu around the world, the authorities concerned have yet to take precautionary measures.

He added that due to pollution and silting the last few years had seen decline in number of the migrated birds. Besides, many local birds also been facing extinction. Other migratory birds, which will arrive here, include sholler, millards, pintales, and breminy ducks, he added.

Talking about possible threat to birds and human from virus, he said that the transmission of the virus is through migratory birds and no human-to-human transmission has taken place so far. An alert has been sounded in other parts of India.

When contacted, the District Forest Officer, Mr S.S. Bhatti, said that no cases of bird flu had been reported. But he added that appropriate steps would be taken to check spread of disease.


Sarabjit’s sister, wife trade accusations
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 26
Dispute in the family of Sarabjit, who is awaiting the sentence of death in the bombing case in Pakistan, has taken political colour with his wife and sister accusing each other of financial dishonesty.

Mrs Dalbir Kaur, a sister of Sarabjit, who had joined the BJP after resigning from the Congress party and had been in the forefront to get her brother released blamed that Congress leaders here were ‘misleading’ Mrs Sukhpreet Kaur, wife of Sarabjit to settle political scores with her.

She said since she had joined the BJP the Congress leaders were piqued at her changeover to their political rival. The family split is now being seen as the BJP versus the Congress with Dalbir having joined the BJP ranks after ditching the Congress.

Sukhpreet earlier accused her sister in law of financial impropriety in funds received from abroad and giving her a pittance out of the money received.

However, Dalbir Kaur addressing mediapersons here charged her sister-in-law with spreading lies and accused her of having a bad character as “she (Sukhpreet) was spending nights out of her house”.

She said her political rivals had taken advantage of the situation when she was away to religious places to pray for the release of her brother. In her absence the political rivals had started misleading her sister-in-law.

She refuted allegations of grabbing property of her imprisoned brother Sarabjit.

She said she had sold her property in Luxaur in Uttar Pardesh for fighting the case of her brother. She also said she had been running the house of Sarabjit from her expenses for many years. She said all funds received were by cheques hence an allegation of misuse of money did not arise.

However, Sukhpreet alleged that Dalbir had adopted her elder daughter Swapandeep Kaur deliberately to grab the funds. She had alleged that while Dalbir was being seen in luxury she and her daughter were left to struggle for day-to-day necessities.

Wife thrown out of house

Ms Sukhpreet Kaur, wife of Sarabjit, today held a press conference at Bhikhiwind where she alleged that Ms Dalbir Kaur had thrown her and her daughter out of their house by locking it.

She alleged that Dalbir Kaur had taken all the money, which had been donated by various foreign and local non-governmental organisations, and they have been left to fend for themselves.

She further said that Dalbir Kaur was taking political mileage out of the sacrifices made by her husband and added that she was least concerned for Sarabjit’s release.


Move to regularise services of 30,000 cops
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
In what seems like a pre-election sop for employees the services of nearly 30,000 policemen working against temporary posts in Punjab will be soon regularised. The Finance Department and the Home Department are working out the modalities to regularise their services subject to approval from the Council of Ministers.

Starting from the days of militancy, thousands of policemen were recruited over and above the sanctioned strength. Also, the creation of new districts in the past decade or so meant the recruitment of new staff. The total number of personnel is nearly 76,000 out of which 30,000-odd are working on temporary posts.

At the start of each financial year, the Police Department sends a list of policemen on temporary posts to the Finance Department seeking annual sanction for their salaries and other service benefits. Each year, the sanction is delayed by three or four months. Subsequently, the salaries are also delayed leading to resentment among the lower staff.

The process to regularise the posts started after the Finance Department set a deadline in September this year that no salaries should be paid to policemen who are working on temporary posts. The Police Department then wrote to the Home Secretary, who accordingly ordered that the salaries of the personnel should continue while proper sanction for these posts be taken from the Council of Ministers. Sources said the Finance Department saw no reason to continue with temporary posts as there would be no financial implication in regularising these.

The sources said as per rules temporary posts needed to be reviewed each year and regularised. And those posts not required should be abolished. However, this is never followed as political pressure is exerted if anybody is asked to leave service.

In the case of the Punjab police these recruitments were made in a period of exigency. A few days ago the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk, had issued a statement that there was a shortage of nearly 5,000 policemen.

It will now be up to the Council of Ministers to take a decision on the number of posts to be regularised. The Police Department has forwarded its list of temporary posts for approval. The matter would be considered favourably, official sources confirmed.


Study shows terrorism victims’ kin still suffering
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
A study by two internationally renowned organisations-the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/New York University School of Medicine Program for Survivors of Torture, Bellevue, - has brought out startling facts concerning family members of those who were allegedly killed and illegally cremated by the Punjab Police between 1984 and 1995.

The report is now part of proceedings of an ongoing case -the Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab (CIIP) versus the State of Punjab - before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The study found that a majority of family members suffered "a variety of abuses, including harassment (75 per cent threat and/or surveillance (54 per cent), and physical assault (47 per cent). In addition, 63 per cent of those interviewed reported having been arrested by law enforcement officials and 48 per cent others reported having been tortured.

The six-member PHR/Bellevue investigative team, which conducted the study in Amritsar in May-June 2005, came across a "pattern of intentional abuse by law enforcement officials among multiple family members".

It has concluded that the NHRC should investigate and adjudicate the fundamental rights violations committed by the police, beyond the illegal cremation of the family member.

"As a result of the death and illegal cremation of a close family member, most of the individuals interviewed demonstrated severe psychological disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, with nearly half of those interviewed continuing to describe these symptoms more than 10 years after the traumas occurred," the reports quotes Dr Allen Keller and Dr Barry Rosenfeld as saying.

Mr Ram Narayan-Kumar of the CIIP, who has been spearheading the movement to get justice for the vast number of innocent persons allegedly killed and cremated by the police during terrorism in Punjab, said, "The study followed a systematic probability sample of 189 cases out of 756 identified cases before the NHRC, taking every fourth individual in the database of all the identified cases on a random basis. The study reveals the existence of startling rates of current and past psychological and physical suffering," he stated.

He also added that the report clearly concluded that compensation to family members should include not only the specific violations resulting in the destruction of the right to life and illegal cremations, but also the emotional and financial impact of such violations and the extraordinary context within which these losses occurred.

"The PHR/Bellevue report should compel the NHRC to investigate the physical and psychological trauma suffered by victim families, in addition to the murder and illegal cremation of their relative(s). The right to justice means that the victims of atrocities are able to bring their complaints before the forum that is acting as an extension and the instrument of the Supreme Court under Article 32 jurisdiction and to have their complaints heard and adjudicated. This the commission has not done so far," he pointed out.

Mr Ram Narayan-Kumar demanded since it was not possible for the NHRC to restore the lives that have been lost, it is doubly important for it to force the state to repair the remaining consequences of the violations through comprehensive measures of reparation directed at the survivors.

"They must receive compensation for physical and mental injury, including lost opportunities, defamation and legal costs, emotional and moral harm and the measures of reparation must include medical care, including psychological treatment, education of the orphaned and work opportunities for those who remain physically capable. Reparation must also include guarantees of non-recurrence," he said.

Ms Jatinder Kaur of CIIP also addressed the media persons.


300 PTDC employees not paid for months
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 26
Divali will be black for more than 300 employees of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC). Most of them have not been paid wages for many months. Data with The Tribune reveals employees at the Amritsar-based tourism complex of the PTDC have not been paid wages for the past 15 months, at Phagwara they have not been paid for the past 18 months, at Hoshiarpur 13 months and Madhopur for six months.

Employees speaking on condition of anonymity alleged that the head office of the PTDC was squeezing complexes to maintain its expenses. They are forcing all complexes across the state to transfer to the head office fixed amounts — in lakhs irrespective of the sales. The amounts are used to meet expenses and salaries of the employees posted at the head office. However, result of move was that employees working in the field are left without salaries for months together.

During the previous SAD/BJP regime employees at the tourism complexes were allowed to manage their salaries from the sales of the complexes. However, now when the lion’s share of the sales was taken by the head office employees in the field are trying for salaries. Disinvestment process of the PTDC has been a failure. Employees of corporation were given option to opt for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in view of proposed disinvestment. Almost all employees of the PTDC opted for the VRS. Their VRS applications were accepted.

However, since the corporation was not in a position to pay dues employees were asked to continue. The VRS applications have since then become their nightmare. The salaries of the employees have not been increased for the past three years. Employee and employer contribution to their EPF accounts has not been deposited.

Due to it most of the employees allege that their pension benefit under the retirement scheme of the EPF might lapse. They also allege that the employer’s contribution of EPF account has not been paid by the corporation since long. Due to it the EPF authorities have now directed them to clear the dues.

Employees flayed move of the PTDC to give tourism complexes on lease. The complexes were being given on lease in a shady manner. There was no need to give the complexes on lease as it would not solve problems of the PTDC. By giving the complexes on lease the PTDC would never be able to clear the VRS dues of the employees. Instead it would have to pay the employees without taking any work from them.

Employees who are retiring from the corporation are also not being paid dues they alleged.


WSF resolves to revive Master Tara Singh’s legacy
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 26
Alleging that late Akali leader Master Tara Singh has been forgotten by major Akali factions, the World Sikh Foundation (WSF) has resolved to revive the legacy of Master Tara Singh. As a first step towards this direction, the WSF has planned to observe the Sikh leader’s death anniversary in Guru Nanak Bhawan at Amritsar on November 22.

Meanwhile, with a dual purpose to organize the anniversary function and at the same to examine the “real and exact role” played in national politics by the Shiromani Akali Dal after its inception in 1920, the WSF and the All India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) has formed a working committee.

The committee also included senior Delhi based Akali leader Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna and Ms. Kiranjot Kaur, the grand daughter of late Master Tara Singh.

Accusing Akali leaders of forgetting the important role played by late Master Tara Singh in shaping up of the SAD and the SGPC from 1920 till his death in 1967, Mr Jaswant Singh Maan, president of the WSF and a senior leader of the AISAD, said it was fortunate that younger generation was oblivious of contribution of a great leader like Master Tara Singh. “We hold Akalis responsible for it, but, at the same time we have decided to create awareness about role of Master Tara Singh in development of two Sikh organisations-the SAD and the SGPC-by organizing the function,” said Mr Maan.


DC’s office staff go on leave
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 26
On a call of the District Office Employees Association (D.C. Office), Sangrur, almost all employees of the DC office in this district proceeded on leave today in protest against the registration of a corruption case by the Vigilance Bureau on September 30 against Satgur Singh, registry clerk in the Tehsil office, here. The protest reportedly badly affected the work in the tehsil, sub-tehsil and SDM offices and the DC office here.

The employees also staged a dharna and held a rally in the district administrative complex here under the leadership of Mr Surinder Pal Lehra, district president of the association.

Mr Lehra claimed that almost all the employees, except Class IV employees, of the DC office proceeded on leave to compel the authorities concerned to withdraw the “false” case registered against Satgur Singh.

Addressing the protesters, almost all the speakers said that Satgur Singh had been implicated in a “false” case by the Vigilance authorities for allegedly “accepting” Rs 5,000 as bribe from a person.

They stated that Satgur Singh had been issuing a receipt of Rs 5,000 to the complainant when he was caught by the Vigilance officials.

This amount of Rs 5,000 was pending towards the complainant 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, they added.


Homes for destitute women planned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The Punjab State Social Welfare Board (PSSWB) has decided to set up 14 short-stay homes for destitute women and helplines throughout the state.

Announcing this the Chairperson of the board, Ms Ratna, said the Central Government had approved the projects and work would begin soon.

Addressing newspersons here today, she said the emphasis of the board would be to encourage setting up of self-help groups among women in villages and remote areas. She said more than 200 such groups were operational in the border belt of the state.

The board was running nine craft centres in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. It had also adopted five villages for development under integrated schemes.


Nanak Heritage conference deferred
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
Nanak Heritage Conference, scheduled for November 12-15 in Lahore, has been postponed in view of the earthquake that struck Pakistan recently.

Bhai Harbans Lal, former president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, in an e-mail sent to The Tribune today has stated that the decision to postpone the conference was taken at a meeting of the Sri Nankana Sahib Foundation after consultations with the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Mustan Singh and the Pakistan authorities.



Mr H. S. Hanspal, a former president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has denied the report published in a section of the press saying he was in possession of an unauthorised government house.

He has stated that there has never been any government house allotted in his name in the past or present in Chandigarh or elsewhere in the country.


High Court
Life sentence upheld
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 26
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the life sentence awarded to two persons for having killed three members of an Amritsar family in 1991 in a terrorism-related act.

Hardip Singh and Hardial Singh and three others, had shot dead the family members of Avtar Singh of Patti, Amritsar, in November, 1991.

While three of their accomplices were killed in police encounters, Hardip and Hardial were caught and tried for the offence. In his order dated July 5, 1997, the Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar, convicted the duo for the murder of Avtar Singh’s father Charan Singh, brother Harpal Singh and mother Mukhtiar Kaur and sentenced him to life.

They had killed them as they suspected Charan Singh and Avtar’s Singh father-in-law Karam Singh of being police informers and causing the killing of two terrorists, who were hiding in Karam Singh’s house.

In their appeal against the order of the lower court, Hardip and Hardial claimed that the prosecution story was fabricated and there was no concrete proof of their guilt.

However, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice Pritam Pal found no merit in the appeal and dismissed it. They also directed that two appellants, if on bail, to surrender before the CJM, Amritsar, immediately.

Auction process

The High Court on Wednesday directed PUDA and the PSIEC to file detailed replies to the petition filed by Mr Roshan Singh of Mohali, seeking directions to the respondents to finalise the auction process of the proposed sites for multiplex, shopping mall and hotel in Phase VIII B, Industrial Focal Point, Mohali, only as per the Punjab Regional and Town Planning Act, 1995 and the Punjab Urban Town Planning Act.

Today, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta directed the respondents to file affidavits about the site plans for the area.

The Bench had some days back stayed the finalisation of the auction process. The sites are owned by Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Limited (PSIEC). The matter will now come up for further hearing on November 11.


Pest devastates bee colonies
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Farmers the world over are grappling with a pest which has devastated bee colonies across the continents. Indian beekeepers, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have been hit hard by the malady caused by the varroa mite, a pest that feeds on bee colonies.

The varroa mite does not harm human beings, but it has finished lakhs of bee colonies across the world. Experts in India, one of the leading exporters of honey after China, have failed to tackle the attack of this parasite. ‘‘Many hit-and-trial methods are being used to check the attack but without substantial results,’’ says Mr Parmbir Singh, a leading honey producer from Khamano village, near Samrala.

Mr Parmbir Singh, a degree holder in mechanical engineering, told The Tribune on Tuesday that his family had suffered a huge loss. " We have used all measures to counter the attack of the mite but with little success", he added. Even experts from the Netherlands are here in Punjab to examine the problem.

Mr Geert Van Eizenga, the expert, who was in Bathinda on Tuesday, said that " beekeepers the world over are facing an attack by this parasite". He said: ‘‘It can be checked by taking appropriate measures in time but cannot be eradicated.’’

Punjab's output of honey is 30 per cent of the total production in India (said to be around 35,000 tonnes). Almost 90 per cent of the honey produced in India is exported to Europe and the USA because of the very low domestic consumption. Beekeepers usually obtain three or four ‘‘crops’’ of honey a year. But this year, most of them have got only one or two.

Mr Bandeep Singh, who is associated with the export of honey from India, said that another expert from the UK would come to Punjab soon. ‘‘We are trying hard to educate farmers about the attack of the mite because it is an absolutely new problem for most of them,’’ he added. He said the damage to colonies was in the range of 40 to 50 per cent. However, Mr Parmbir Singh said it was around 70 per cent.

Mr Paramjit Singh and Mr Karamjit Singh, two other beekeepers of Khamano, said that almost all their bee colonies had been finished.

Mr Paramjit Singh said that most of the beekeepers did not take the attack of the parasite seriously at first as they confused it with some usual problem. However, when the growth of bees almost stopped, they approached experts of Punjab Agricultural University.’’ The experts from the university told us that the problem was serious and also suggested some measures to check the attack. But by that time major damage had been done,’’ Mr Paramjit Singh added.

The varroa mite, on which many universities in the USA and Europe have conducted studies, is a pest of honey bees. It attacks the brood in bee colonies by entering the brood cells. The pest prefers drone brood and spreads from colony to colony. It also feeds on maturing bee larvae, stopping the multiplication of bees. The pest spreads rapidly.


Special incentives for growing barley
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The crop diversification programme of Punjab got a boost today with Punjab Agro and the UB Group announcing special incentives for farmers who grow the high-yielding VJM 201 barley under contract farming.

Farmers growing the VJM 201 variety on 5 acres or more will get an additional Rs 50 per quintal over the minimum support price (MSP) while those growing it on less than that area will get an additional Rs 25 per quintal over the MSP. This brings several benefits to farmers, as the yield of the VJM 201 variety is already 17 per cent higher than that of the conventional PL 426 barley as certified by Punjab Agricultural University. The VJM 201 variety is also fairly resistant to various diseases.

Punjab farmers are now growing the two-rowed VJM 201 barley which is a medium tall, mid-maturing, lodging-resistant variety. It has uniform bold plump grains and is better in malting quality.

In 2002, PAFC and UBL had entered into an agreement to increase the crop area under malting barley in Punjab. In the first year of the contract, 1,000 acres of barley was sown by farmers. This was increased to 5,000 acres in 2004, for which the seeds were provided by PAFC. The actual area may be even more because farmers tend to retain seeds from the previous year’s crop.

According to Mr Kalyan Ganguly, Managing Director, United Breweries Ltd , “ the reason why we are offering a cash incentive is that for the first time, we have been able to get malting barley of international standards. Earlier, the barley we got was essentially of feed quality. In 2005, our target is to undertake contract farming of barley on 10,000 acres and increase it to over 40,000 acres in the next three years.”

Commenting on the positive steps being taken, Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director, Punjab Agro, said: “As we provide backward and forward linkages, the major beneficiaries are farmers, industry and the people of Punjab. Most important, by adding value to our crops, the brand equity of Punjab is getting steadily enhanced in India as well as internationally.”

According to Mr Kripa Shankar Saroj, Managing Director, PAFC, “we are making all-out efforts to bring about crop diversification in Punjab to break the wheat-paddy pattern and barley is a good alternative.”


Vaccine didn’t benefit farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
A retired Professor of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Dr I.S. Kalra, has claimed that a vaccine against cattle disease, “Theleriosis”, developed under an ICAR scheme, was never able to find its place in chemists’ shops for the benefit of the needy farmers. He was reacting to a news-item, “How PAU project fell through” published in these columns on August 26.

In a communication to The Tribune, Dr Kalra said the vaccine remained in experimental stage and the farmers could not procure it for protecting susceptible crossbreeds. Since such vaccines involve the basic knowledge of immunology, the merging of the Tick Borne Diseases (TBD) scheme with the Department of Immunology was in the interest of producing the vaccine, he added.

Dr Kalra added that a senior research scientist associated with the TBD project did not leave PAU to join Haryana Agriculture University, Hisar, at a lower grade post. He got his appointment in the rank of a professor/senior scientist. Apart from protecting his pay package, he was given certain other benefits. The Tribune Correspondent adds: I stand by my story.


Barriers to be put up
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 26
In order to check interstate smuggling of DAP fertilisers, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr B.C. Thakur, has written to the police to set up barriers at Gumjal, Rajpura and Kalarkhera situated along the Rajasthan-Punjab border near Abohar. He has also constituted flying squads.


Three caught by Vigilance Bureau
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
As many as three officials of different departments of state government were caught red handed by teams of the Vigilance Bureau of Patiala district while they were taking bribe from three persons.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said Tirlok Singh, Inspector, Housefed, Dhuri, who was holding additional charge of Lehra Gaga was caught red handed by a team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Jaspal Singh for taking Rs 10,000 as bribe from Mr Kuldip Singh for releasing first instalment of the loan advanced to him by the department.

In another case, Harpreet Singh, patwari, Safidipur revenue circle, was caught red handed by a team of the Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Jai Pal Singh when he was taking a bribe of Rs 2500 from Mr Tirlochan Singh for making an entry in connection with the transfer of a property in the mutation register of revenue record.

He added that the accused demanded Rs 3000 as bribe for doing the genuine work and a deal was struck at Rs 2500.

Mr Bhullar said that in the third case, a clerk identified as Baljinder Singh of Rajpura Janta Makan Ussari Sahkari Sabha Limited, was caught red handed by a team of Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Banarasi Dass while he was taking a bribe of Rs 1000 from Mr Gulzar Singh.

He said Mr Gulzar Singh had taken a loan of Rs 50,000 from the sabha and he failed to pay the instalments of the loan and hence became a defaulter.

The accused started holding threat to Mr Gulzar Singh that either he (the accused) should be given Rs 1500 as bribe or he would take action against Gulzar Singh. After negotiations, the deal was struck between them at Rs 1000. The accused was arrested while he was taking the bribe money.


BSF official in CBI net
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 26
The CBI sleuths today apprehended an Assistant Sub Inspector belonging to the 14th battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) for allegedly accepting bribe of Rs 2500 from Natinder Makhija, BJP leader, in the district courts premises here today.

According to the information, the arrested BSF ASI, N.K. Pandey, was dealing with land cases and court cases pertaining to land under area of operation of the 14th battalion, BSF.

Sources said there were some pieces of land across the cobra-fencing along the international Indo-Pakistan border, which were disputed in nature with multiple claims and all these cases were being handled by ASI N.K. Pandey.

According to the information, the complainant in this case, Mr Natinder Makhija, vice-president BJP Yuva Morcha, Punjab, had lodged a complaint against Pandey on earlier occasions also to senior BSF officials but after an enquiry, the BSF officials found no substance in his appeal. Since that time, Makhija and Pandey were at loggerheads.

BSF sources said Makhija claimed to own one such piece of land near Hussainiwala village, along the Indo-Pakistan border, which was under dispute. Makhija allegedly wanted a report in his favour staking claim to the ownership of land and Pandey who was dealing with that case had an altercation with Mukhija on number of times which had resulted in enmity between the two.

Today, the CBI team from Chandigarh swooped down on court premises here and arrested Pandey while allegedly accepting an amount of Rs 2500 from Makhija.

The CBI sleuths took Pandey to Chandigarh for further interrogation.


Lovers held, boy booked for kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 26
The Ropar police today arrested a 21-year-old boy, who had allegedly eloped with a 15-year-old girl. The boy and girl, who were having an affair for the past three years had run away from their homes just four days before the girl was to get married.

The police said that Harjinder Singh of Ghanola village ran away on October 12 with his neighbour girl when they learnt that her parents had fixed her marriage on October 16. The two had just Rs 250 when they left their homes. They stayed in Amritsar and other religious places. The two were arrested from a gurdwara when they were leaving after having langar.

The girl, while talking to the media in the police station, said that she went with Harjinder Singh, because they were in love for the past three years. We took this step as our parents were against our marriage. The police has registered a case of kidnapping against the boy in Sadar police station and will produce him in the court tomorrow.


Kidwai for conflict-free society
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 26
Laying stress on the spread of the message of universal brotherhood incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib and the creation of conflict-free global society, Dr. A.R. Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, said morality and ethics were at a great premium in the contemporary world. If we follow the teachings of Gurus sincerely the world would become a better place the kingdom of God where whole humanity would equally and peaceably, enjoy boons provided by the creator.

Dr A.R. Kidwai was delivering his presidential address at the inaugural session of a three-day seminar on “Guru Granth Sahib: Different Perspectives” at Guru Nanak Dev University that commenced here today. The seminar is sponsored by the Union Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Dr Kidwai said there was a dire need to follow the divine message of the Guru Granth Sahib that is of one God, one mankind and one world.

By giving pride of place to the hymns of a large number of great sages of various communities in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Gurus had created a unique example of belief in universal brotherhood of men of all races, castes, creeds, classes and differences.

More than 30 per cent scientists working with NASA are Indians with India being the largest producer and exporter of software in the world. Today a new global society is emerging in which doors are being opened for world market in this new trend of globalisation, he said that there would be three economic powers i.e. China, the USA and India by 2050 message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is more relevant to solve international challenges.

Dr Kidwai on this occasion also released two books entitled “Inter-faith Study of Sri Guru Granth Sahib” by Dr B.S. Dhillon and “Baba Budha Ji” by Dr S.S. Sagar.

Theologian and Professor Emeritus of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Dr Darshan Singh said the founder of Sikh religion, founded a new and dynamic religion which primarily aimed at empowering the common men both down-trodden and women. Both belonged to labour class and did not enjoy the fruit of their labour. His thought addressed the pitiable condition of the society, divided into castes and creeds in which there was no honourable place for the common people. His thought helped the common man to understand the truth of human life as they were entitled to understand the basic thought regarding the True One.

He said the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib was beyond boundaries. Dr Darshan Singh said that God was Guru and his relation with man was that of father and son. Guru Granth Sahib is a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-historical scripture. It is more of an historical document. It contains political, economic, spiritual, art and metaphysical model. It is not a book of philosophy but its philosophy is of applied nature. It is not a religious text but it is a cultural text having process of culturalisation.

Talking about the uniqueness of the Holy Scripture, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor said the principles of ethics in Gurbani lay more stress on practice rather than on study. The scholars of religion, philosophy, history, sociology, literature and music find it a great source of knowledge presenting different perspectives.

He said the best way to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib would be to bring in practice the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib and only by following the way shown by Gurbani could humanity hope to survive the plethora of dilemmas faced by it. He honoured Dr Kidwai and Dr Darshan Singh by presenting them with mementos and sets University’s publications.

Dr Amarjit Singh Dua, Co-director in his introductory note said this seminar was dedicated to the commemoration of 400th Anniversary of installation of Guru Granth Sahib and was sponsored by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India. He said that its proceedings would be presented at in the international seminar to be held in November in Delhi.


NCC cadets for pollution-free Divali
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 26
Nearly 500 cadets of the NCC today educated citizens by raising slogans like. “Divali asin manavange par patakhe nahin chalavange”, as they passed through roads carrying banners and placards.

Lieut-Colonel Anil Ahuja, Commanding Officer, and environmentalist Dr Rakesh Sehgal, who flagged off the rally from the DAV College, said this was a humble effort to create awareness about increasing pollution.

The cadets drawn from various colleges and schools, including the GD Senior Secondary School and Government senior secondary schools earlier took a pledge at a rally held in the college auditorium that they would not use crackers and motivate others also to do the same.

Dr Rakesh Sehgal, Lieutenant Iqbal Singh Godara, Lieutenant P.C. Paathi and Dr Ravi Dutt Sharma addressed the gathering. They regretted that cutting of green trees, throwing of polythene bags in city drains and dumping of waste by the roadsides continued unchecked.

The authorities had not been able to enforce ban on sale and manufacturing of recycled polythene bags, they rued.

Dr Sehgal said the region produced only 5 per cent of the total cotton crop but used 95 per cent of insecticides for spraying. Paddy straws continued to be burnt in the fields after mechanical harvesting. The super specialty hospitals in north and west India had maximum number of cancer patients from cotton-growing areas of Malwa region at present.

Samples of drinking water taken by the Health Department had repeatedly failed test but accountability was not fixed, he said

He emphasised need of inspiring the farmers to prepare and use manure than chemical fertilisers and refrain from excessive use of insecticides.

The CO, Mr Anil Ahuja, said blood grouping of a thousand cadets had been completed so that they could respond immediately to any call for blood donation during emergency.


Govt schools cry for teachers
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 26
Mr Pritam Singh Toni, president, Parents-Teacher Association (PTA), Government high and primary schools, Sanghera, has urged the Punjab government to provide teachers for the schools. The primary school needed 16 teachers whereas there were just six teachers, out of which two were awaiting promotion orders.

Mr Toni at a meeting of PTA, Sanghera, attended by Dr Jasvir Singh Daangon, Chairman, Pendu Sikhya Vikas Committee, Mr Pritam Singh, Municipal Councillor, Mr Darshan Singh Bihla and Mr Manjit Singh Khalsa, urged the Punjab Government to provide teachers to the primary school at the earliest.

Mr Toni informed that 600 students of the Government High School, Sanghera, too were suffering because two lady teachers of the school were on leave without pay for long.

He made it clear that a couple of months back, PTA had met SDM, Barnala, and Punjab Education Department authorities to press for the transfer of one lady teacher. The authorities had assured to transfer the teacher concerned but all in vain so far.

Mr Toni warned if the government did not provide needed teachers in the primary school and the regular replacements for the two lady teachers in the Government High School soon, then the PTA would be constrained to launch a struggle with the co-operation of students and residents of Sanghera which might culminate into the locking of the school.


Banda Bahadur college overall champ
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College (BBSBEC) Fatehgarh Sahib won the overall championship of eighth National Convention of Indian Society of Technical Education (ISTE), New Delhi

College Principal Dr Dilbag Singh Hira congratulated the college staff and student for this landmark achievement. He said the college has won national four awards which include overall championship of the eighth convention, Andhra Pradesh ISTE section Trophy for overall best performance for the year 2005, College ISTE Chapter won the best chapter award, B.Tech. Project of final year student of Mechanical Engineering of the college won the Best B.Tech. Project Award.


Punjabi University students to hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
The Punjabi University Students Confederation will hold a rally at urban estate, near here, tomorrow in which students from across the state are expected to participate.

According to a press note issued by the confederation, the rally is being held to make people aware of the 'autocratic attitude’ of Punjabi University VC S.S Boparai.


Punjab to have shopping malls
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Here's some good news for all shopping malls buffs. Now, one would not have to drive down to Gurgaon and Noida to shop in the sprawling malls. For, the multiplex and shopping malls culture has now hit Punjab too with several real estate developers entering this segment in boomtowns of the state.

Ludhiana will soon earn the sobriquet of being the City of Malls, if the entry of Surbhi International Limited, West End Mall, Gold Souk and Aeren R Mallz is anything to go by. Aerens Group is all geared up to invest a whopping sum of Rs 250 crore in setting up Aeren R Mallz on the outskirts of Ludhiana. Aerens Gold Souk International also has on cards a Gold Souk at Ludhiana. Because of their location they would be easily accessible to visitors from Chandigarh, Phagwara, Jalandhar, Moga, Khanna, Amritsar, Ambala and will provide more than a shopping experience. Westend, owned by liquor baron Ponty Chadha, will also open at Ludhiana shortly.

Delhi-based Surbhi International will invest another Rs 500 crore in setting up five mega malls in the state, including one at Mohali, besides Patiala, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

The centrally air-conditioned malls with piped music, high-speed lifts and escalators, adequate parking space, an entertainment arcade, multi-cuisine restaurants and a host of national and international brands will be a boon for the people of this region.

Planned in 11 acres , the Aeren R Mallz will bring in the latest concept in shopping mall development -- "Mall within Malls'', having something for everyone. Giving details Mr Sujit Kumar of the group told TNS that nearly 3 lakh sq ft would be dedicated to the Interiorz Mall, to meet all your home and office needs.

Other speciality malls like the children's mall and lifestyle mall will be added attractions with ample multiple-level parking allowing easy access to different shopping, leisure and entertainment areas. While the construction of this mall will start shortly it will be open to public by April, 2008, he added. It will have specially designed waterfalls and fountains -recreating the expression of an oasis away from the heat and dust.

Besides all this, it will have the first IMAX theatre in Punjab with a giant screen approximately 10 times the size of other ordinary multiplex screens, DMR technology, 14,000 watts of the finest acoustics providing cinegoers an ultimate experience, said Mr Kumar while adding that watching a 2D and 3D movie would be amazing. It will offer multi-parking facility for 3000 cars.

Being designed by RTKL of London, a leading international architecture and design firm, it would focus on elegance, ease and variety as efforts will be to rope in the latest national and international brands.

Another mall at Mohali spread over 6.5 acres on the Mohali-Kharar Road will have a built-up space of about 5 lakh sq ft and will take off in another few months.

Mr Vivek Srivastav, Vice-President ( Marketing and Corp Comm), said "it's the arrival of the Mall age now". He attributed their popularity to the changing attitude and lifestyle of the people who are all out to try new brands and products, more disposable income at hand and credit friendliness for buying luxury goods.

With all this on the assembly line, the three Ms of urban culture- malls, multiplexes and multi-cuisine eateries are here to stay.


Indian meat for Pak market
Varinder Walia
Tribune news Service

Amritsar, October 26
Now fresh calf meat from India would be made available to the common man in Lahore, which is virtually out of reach for them these days. The consignment of five tonnes of fresh meat has been exported by a Saharanpur-based organisation to Lahore-based Multiliner International Company, through Wagah for the first time, here today.

The meat was brought in air-conditioned vehicles. The meat could be exported to Pakistan only after the Retreat Ceremony. The Saharanpur-based exporter, Mr Al Mubarak, claimed that there was big demand for fresh meat and livestock in Pakistan. He said goat meat was being sold in Lahore’s market between Rs 300 to 400 per kg and was out of the reach of a common man . However, Indian meat would be made available at less than Rs 50 per kg, especially during Id.

Mr Al Mubarak said residents of Pakistan preferred goat, broiler and sheep meat. Calf meat was called “Bada Mass” in Pakistan. With the opening of the land route between India and Pakistan, trade could be the harbinger of economic transformation in the region.

According to trade figures made available by the Customs authorities, trade between India and Pakistan during 1999-2000 was worth Rs 300 crore. It almost doubled to Rs 625 crore during 2000-2001. Similarly, the Custom revenue went up to Rs 43.47 crore from Rs 39.13 crore.

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