P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Canal water shortage: farmers threaten to boycott elections
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 26
Protesting against shortage of canal water, farmers of Kanakwal, Phulokhari and Gayana villages today announced to boycott Assembly elections.

The farmers took to the streets of Kanakwal and raised slogans against the local administration and the state government. They said they would soon gherao the Chief Minister’s residence and would not allow any candidate to enter villages for campaigning. In a plea sent to the CM, the villagers pointed out that irrigation of land was not possible with the water being supplied from a distributary through heads of Sada Singh Wala village.

Ex-panch Jasvir Singh and Roop Singh alleged that the distributary had 40 water outlets up to Kanakwal, of which the size of some was more than government specifications owing to which they were not getting sufficient canal water.

They accused department officials of involvement in the “anomaly”.

They also alleged that they were being denied due share of water from Sadoha branch and the officials often dispose of water from this branch to another water body, which was only meant to receive water in case of surplus supply. They alleged that farmers from villages like Sekhu, Kot Bakhtu, Bangi, Pakka, Phalar and even a village from Haryana were drawing water from the above said water body, which was illegal.

They rued that about 60 per cent of sowing was left in their villages, while the rest was not receiving adequate water.

Gurpreet Singh and Balvir Singh said they had taken up the matter with a high official of Canal Department who stated that Sadoha branch required cleaning, but they didn’t have any grant for it. He also asked them to raise funds for cleaning up Sadoha branch.

Farmers Avtar Singh and Jeet Singh charged the department officials with turning a blind eye to illegal water outlets. “Leave alone any action against the culprits the department doesn’t even care to carry out a surprise check,” they added. They lamented that their water outlets were at the tail end of the distributary and only a small amount of water reached Kanakwal. They said they had raised the matter before CM, Amarinder Singh, during his visit to Krishanpura village and following his directive Sadoha branch was cleaned, but they were yet to receive adequate water for irrigating land.

They attributed the problem to more length of Sadoha branch and had also come out with a solution. They said they wouldn’t rest till their grievances were redressed.

On the other hand, Executive Engineer Gurdev Singh said these farmers were facing canal water shortage, as cleaning work was due in a 60-km long stretch of a minor originating from Bhaini Distributary. He said they had already applied for funds for the job from the state government. He denied the farmers’ allegation of their water share being given to other villages.


2.78 lakh looted from Golden Temple complex

Amritsar, December 26
Unidentified men looted Rs 2.78 lakh from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) cash collection centre inside Guru Nanak Nivas on the Golden Temple complex this evening, the SGPC said.

SGPC secretary Raghbir Singh said the thieves broke into the collection centre by twisting the steel frames of the door of the collection centre. The ingress was noted by an employee later.

The SGPC detained two of its employees, Inderjit Singh and Jasbir Singh, on suspicion. The two were later handed over to the city police for questioning.

Mr Raghbir Singh said the SGPC was looking into the matter and would hold a detailed inquiry.

The Kotwali police has registered a case and begun investigation. However, no one has yet been named in the FIR registered by the police. — UNI


8 repatriated to Pak
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, December 26
A Pakistani minor girl Farha Masih (now 16), who entered the Indian territory after she jumped into the Ravi that criss-crossed Indian and Pakistan border, following a duel with her parents, is among the eight Pakistani nationals, repatriated from the Wagah joint check post (JCP) here today.

It was her passion to study like her sister that “compelled” her to take the extreme step of jumping into the Ravi in 2003. Her parents had refused to send her to school. The Border Security Force took the floating body of the girl into custody in Dera Baba Nanak sector. She was unconscious at that time. The Ravi connects her ancestral village of Kotli Bare Khan (Narowal district), near Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, with Dera Baba Nanak sector. Instead of a school, the girl found herself in the Gandhi Vanita Ashram on the Kapurthala road (Jalandhar) where she excelled in cooking and knitting . She said she wanted to open a knitting centre on her return to Pakistan.

She became the first minor girl to be repatriated from the Wagah land route. She said she was happy that she would celebrate New Year in her own country.

Altaf Shah, an 18-year-old Pakistani national, had wandered into the Indian territory in August, 2002. He had gone there to see the border. The inadvertent intrusion into the Indian territory, however, got him many friends in this country . He said he would always remember the hospitable Indians. He, however, said he was disappointed that he could not pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib. He said he would now specially come to India on pilgrimage to Harmandar Sahib after obtaining a valid visa . He said he did not face any problem while in custody .

However, for two Jehadis (Pakistani militants), who underwent rigorous imprisonment in Indian jails, the stay did not dampen their spirit to ‘continue their fight for their Kashmiri brethren’. For Raja Arshad Mehmood, a resident of Muzaffarabad (PoK) and Mohammad Akhtar , a resident of Chakwal district, their ‘fight was unending’ . They said many Indian Kashmiris wanted to get settled in PoK while their Pakistani counterparts wished to make India their permanent abode . They said they would narrate the plight of Kashmiris and ‘atrocities’ committed by the Indian Army on them (Kashmiris) after reaching Pakistan . They said their accomplices, who were caught with them while entering India, might be released shortly as their sentence had completed.

All eight Pakistanis, including two minors, were handed over by Mr Lakhi Ram Yadav , BSF’s Assistant Commandant, to Major Abdul Samid of the Pakistan Rangers.


Govt firm on abolishing octroi
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 26
Claiming that there is no confusion in the Punjab Government with regard to the abolition of octroi in the state, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, has disclosed that the government would soon issue advertisements in all newspapers of the state to seek opinion of the people for abolishing octroi. After that, a policy would be framed to abolish octroi in the light of a commitment, made by the Punjab Chief Minister and the Congress in this regard, he added.

Mr Singla said this when his attention was drawn whether the state government was confused over the abolition of octroi in the state as the Municipal Councils were continuously deciding to give octroi collection on contract for one more year despite Chief Minister’s commitment to abolish it by March next year. The Sangrur Municipal Council had decided yesterday to give octroi collection on contract for one more year from February 24, 2006 to February 23, 2007.

Mr Singla further said the government had got conducted a study on the proposed abolition of octroi. In this study, four means for abolishing octroi, including imposition of entry tax, turn-over tax and local area development tax had been suggested. Now, the state government was also considering the report as it wanted to abolish the octroi as per its commitment, he added.

He said the government had already taken a decision to appoint 12,000 teachers of different categories.


Three-day Shaheedi Jor Mela concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
The three-day Shaheedi Jor Mela held in memory of the younger Sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh — Baba Zorawar Singh (9) and Baba Fateh Singh (7), who were bricked alive, concluded here today with religious ceremonies.

To mark the concluding ceremony, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, performed “ardas” at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and after that a nagar kirtan, led by the panj Piaras, was taken out from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib, more than 2 lakh devotees took part in the nagar kirtan.

School bands, gatka parties, Nihangs displaying martial arts, kirtani jathas, Sukhmani Sahib sewa societies, sangat from abroad displaying their banners, sewak chowki jathas, were highlights of the nagar kirtan.

Guru Granth Sahib was kept in a golden palanquin, decorated with flowers. Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Bhai Gurbachan Singh, Head Granthi, Darbar Sahib, and Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, performed the sewa of “ Chor Sahib”.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Avtar Singh, President SGPC, also joined the “ardas” at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

Giani Tarlochan Singh performed the concluding “Ardas” at Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib. Mr Avtar Singh and the Jathedars of the five Takhts addressed the gathering and urged the sangat to follow in the footsteps of the Gurus.

The main attraction of the mela was an exhibition organised by the Khadi Gram Udyog. “Sirhind Di Diwar” a play by the Tiwana foundation, was well-appreciated by the audience.

Addressing a joint press conference after the conclusion of the mela, Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, thanked the devotees for co-operating with the district administration.


Kidnappers turn out to be victims of travel agent
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Batala, December 26
The police here yesterday recovered Gurdial Singh who was kidnapped on December 21 and arrested three kidnappers. The arrested include Sukhjinder Singh, Manjinder Singh and Variam Singh all residents of Khude Bet village in the Dera Baba Nanak area.

A day later the accused kidnappers have turned out to be victims of the kidnapped who is a travel agent. The parents of the accused trio told The Tribune that Gurdial Singh was kidnapped by their sons to recover Rs 25 lakh they had paid to him.

Gurdial Singh lured their sons for sending them abroad. Two of the accused Sukhjinder Singh and Manjinder Singh sold their 16 acres and paid him Rs 25 lakh for going to Europe. Sukhjinder and Manjinder were allegedly flown to Nigeria and abandoned by the travel agent. Their passports were also taken away. They had to pay a hefty amount to get new passport and come back home.

After coming back the accused kidnappers were left with four acres out of 20 acres. They dreams of greener pastures abroad were also shattered. They approached local leaders and the police to get their money back.

The agent agreed to re-pay the money he had taken from the accused in an agreement signed in the presence of a local Congress leader. However, later he failed to pay up.

Dejected at losing their land and money the victims of the agents planned to kidnap Gurdial Singh. They kidnapped him and demanded the amount they had paid to him.

However, the accused who were victims of a travel agent fell into the hands of the police. Now they are in custody while the travel agent who duped them was free.

The parents of the accused alleged that while the police had arrested their children no case had been registered against the travel agent who drove them into the crime.

SSP Jatinder Kumar Jain said that he had not received any complaint from the parents of kidnappers. They had reached an agreement with the travel agent. However, he did not return their money as per the agreement. The police would book the travel agent the day it receives a complaint from the victims.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary to whose area the accused kidnappers belonged said that he would urge the government to make a special law to protect the youth from travel agents. Travel agents had spread economic terrorism in the state and were driving youth into crime, he said.


Charges false, says counsel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Reacting to the news-item headlined “Volcker report: SAD for probe against CM” carried in these columns on December 10, the former President of the Qadian Municipal Council, Mr Jarnail Singh Mahal’s counsel has claimed that no criminal case was pending against his client.

In a communication to The Tribune, the counsel said Mr Mahal enjoyed a good reputation in society but the same has been lowered by the publication of the news-item.

Describing it as “totally false”, he added that the chairman of the Qadian market committee, Mr Gurdev Singh Thikriwal, issued the statement regarding the cases. The newspaper duly published it even though it was far from the truth.

The Tribune correspondent adds: Mr Mahal has been exonerated in some of the cases pending against him.


SAD’s plea to EC on opinion poll companies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Shiromani Akali Dal has asked the Election Commission of India to look into the antecedents of all opinion poll companies in the country in order to stop the blackmail of political parties and attempts to mislead the masses by these companies.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was speaking to reporters here today, alleged the recent opinion poll conducted by ORG-MARG giving the edge to the ruling Congress in Punjab over the SAD in terms of popularity was “state sponsored and state financed”.


2 thermal plants units still non-functional
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 26
Two units of 210 MW capacity each out of six units in local the thermal plant continued to remain non-functional on the second day today causing loss of 100 lakh units to the state. As a result there were power cuts in the rural areas and cities in the state today.

The power consumption in the state is about 825 lakh units these days while the power supply from all sources reduced to about 675 lakh units after the two units were closed due to technical problems yesterday, said the PSEB sources.

Sources said one unit of the thermal plant of 1260 MW capacity was shut down due to leakage in its boiler while the second was shut due to problems in tubes. One unit is expected to become operational by late in the night today while the second unit will be operational by tomorrow evening.


40 set to join Badal’s old-age home
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Badal, December 26
Fulfilling their family responsibilities, they dreamt of a dignified retired life, but their children shunned their obligation forcing them to look for a support system outside their own homes.

Enrolling themselves at SAD president Parkash Singh Badal’s newly raised old-age home in this village, 40 elderly people are all set to move into their new home and make a new beginning of their twilight years with the dawn of the New Year. All of them had a tough time breaking free of emotional bonding with their children, but they opine it was must to lead the rest of their lives with honour and self-esteem.

An ex-serviceman, who will join the old-age home, rued that elderly were not getting respect from their families. He believed that an old-age home could provide them support to deal with emotional and family crisis.

Another elderly from Fazilka revealed that he married off his son to an educated woman and now the latter was harassing him and his wife. He said his son would even beat him up at times. Despite all this, his wife was in predicament and she didn’t want to leave her home, while he wanted her to accompany him.

“I’m fed up with unnecessary intervention of my son and other family members. Though I don’t know how I will stay away from my grandchildren, I surely can’t face humiliation every other day,” says an elderly from Dabwali.

For another such couple, their decision to join old-age home led to resolution of their differences with their children and they had now changed their mind.

On the other hand, Mr Badal said though a number of elderly had enrolled themselves at the old-age home, it was not the place that they deserved.


Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan concludes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 26
Rabab, the instrument played by Guru Nanak’s ‘Sangi’ — companion Bhai Mardana made its first appearance at the closing evening of the 130th Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan, at the Shri Devi Talab Mandir. Ustad Gulfam Ahmad introduced Rabab to the audience and also played religious tunes much to the delight of the gathering. Belonging to sons’ side of the Senia Gharana of Lucknow Ustad Gulfam Ahmad regaled audience with his devotional and folk renditions on Rabab. Gulfam presented rag Jhinjhoti on Rabab. He presented his compositions in the alaap Jod and the Madhya Laya. He also delighted audience by playing the Abunasir Farabi Rabab Ang in Rag Bhairavi on the instrument. He also tried to recreate ambience of how Bhai Mardana played Rabab as he played some of Mardana’s original compositions on his Rabab.

The galaxy of classical maestros who played on the final evening included Pandit Lakshman Krishna Rao from Gwalior Gharana, who presented gayaki in his voice known for its reverberating presence. Beginning with Bandish in rag Bageshwari, he went on to enthral the audience giving his singing Punjabi flavour as he sang ‘Dil Nai Lagda’ in Vilambit Jhumra, and brought on Hindi dialect flavour in his composition ‘Kyun Nahi Beech Virajat’ in Drutt Teen Taal. He chose to sing difficult rags exhibiting mastery over the music tradition he has nurtured all his life. He also sang swar Ga Ma Dha Ni Pa in soft, low pitch to bring out melody of sounds. The maestro sang ‘Tappa’ a vanishing form of singing. His daughter Meeta Pandit accompanied him in Gayan and Sangat.

The vocal singing continued with the presentation of Rag Patdeep by Jayateerth. He sang Thumari in rag Jogia ‘Piya Milan Ki Aas’. The new age classical instrument artist who has earned a name for himself even in foreign lands legendary Ustad Sabri Khan’s son Kamal Sabri made audience revel in the melody of Sarangi. He began with Rag Sugandh in Vilambit Gatt Teen Tal and in Drutt Gat Ek Taal. He exhibited variations in the sounds on his Sarangi as he played the Badhat, Gamak, Taan and Tihayian. He played thumri in Rag Mishr Peelu in Gayaki style for which the Sarangi is known.

Violin — instrument from West was the next on stage as Kala Ram Nath played violin with ease camouflaging the difficulty the classical tunes can be on Violin. In her unique Gayaki style Kala Ram Nath also talked to audience on her style and the words she was playing, telling the audience the meaning of the compositions too. Beginning her performance with Rag Bihag, Kala played Bandish in rag Basant. The night moved on with magical display of musical mastery by Sandeep Ahyankar and Manasi Majumdar till dawn as the festival drew to a close but not before giving birth to the love for Indian classical music in the hearts of many listeners.


Ahmadiyya convention begins
Tribune News Service

Qadian (Gurdaspur), December 26
On the first day of a three-day annual convention of Ahmadiyyas that started here today, Hadharat Mirza Masrro Ahmad, religious head of the community, urged his followers to work for the formation of on egalitarian society.

Quoting the last speech of Prophet Mohammad, he explained how Islam had erected the edifice of an egalitarian society on the foundation of righteousness.

He advised his followers to shun pride and adhere to meekness, prefer mercy to justice and forgiveness to punishment.

The three-day annual convention of Ahmadiyyas started here today with the unfurling of the flag by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Imam of the community. It was followed by recitation of the Koranic verse.

Addressing the gathering, Hadhrat Ahmad, quoting the Koran, said persons who were closer to God strived for righteousness.

The meeting was attended by thousands of Ahmadiyya delegates from over 45 countries. The gathering presented a virtual mosaic of colour and race.

This annual convention this year is special in the sense that this is the centenary year to the office of Caliphate as per the lunar calendar and also centenary year to Nizam-e Wasiyat (System of Endowment) as per the solar calendar.

Five thousand delegates from Pakistan have come to attend the convention where Ahmadiyya Muslims are declared “non-Muslims” and are under severe persecution.

Qadian town bore a festive look as thousands of delegates from across the world have thronged the small and sleepy town in Gurdaspur district due to the annual convention. Shopkeepers and other businessmen in the town are doing brisk business.

Some of the houses in the town that belonged to the founders of the community, but are now in private occupation, were a special attraction.

One such old house includes the residence of the mother of the founder of the community.

A large number of delegates are visiting the houses. They are being welcomed by the present owners.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is scheduled to participate in the convention on the concluding day.


Second phase of Suvidha Centre to be completed soon
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 26
With the setting up of an ultra-modern Suvidha Centre in the premises of the District Administrative Complex here, it seems that the idea of hassle-free administration has been translated into reality.

The centre is a role model of ‘e-governance’ in the state for providing hassle-free services under one roof to the public. Besides, the centre will be just like a dream come true for NRIs as they can have online access to the delivery mechanism of different departments. Besides having single-window the counters relating to different departments, the centre has a cell for the NRIs.

A special software is being prepared to provide various online facilities to the NRIs.

The construction of the first phase of the centre has been completed in the record time of just four months. The second floor will be made operational shortly.

The ground floor, having covered area of 5,000 sq. ft., which have been made operational in the first phase, is having a 3000 sq.ft. hall in which 13 service counters of different departments, have been setup.


‘Kidnapped’ boys found

Ropar, December 26
The two minor boys who had been allegedly kidnapped by some unknown person from Kotla Nihang village two days ago were recovered from Jawalaji by the Himachal police. The two boys — Rajat Kumar (10) and Bhupinder (8) — were handed over to their parents by the police today.

Giving details, Rajat’s mother Poonam said two boys had gone to a fair organised in the village last Saturday. She said the stranger had told the two boys that if they accompanied him then he would give sweets and other items to them. The person who kidnapped him left them in a shrine in Jawalaji when the two boys started crying loudly. Thereafter the police brought them here she added. — TNS


Sex scam witness seeks arrest of Siti cable owners
Ashok Sethi and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, December 26
Even as a police inquiry report has recommended the “quashing of FIR” registered against the Siti Cable owners, prime witness Harinder Singh in the infamous Siti Cable sex scam has demanded immediate arrest of cable owners against whom a fresh case was registered accusing them of “pressure tactics”.

The police inquiry report by a Border Range senior police officer said a false case was filed against Hari Om Dhanuka, Kiran Kapoor, Baldev Sethi and Sunil Jain.

Mr Harinder Singh said the police was deliberately sparing the main accused in the FIR in which he had alleged that they were using tactics and pressuring the police to stifle the sex scam case.

He urged the police to immediately arrest accused booked under Sections 379, 386, 382, 341 of the IPC.

The report states that the complainant had allegedly threatened and reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs 2 lakh for turning hostile in the case.


1 killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 26
One person was killed and five injured, two of them seriously, when a Qualis van hit a tree on the national highway near Kharar here last night.

The impact of the accident was so much that the driver of the vehicle, Surjit Singh, died on the spot while others who were travelling in the van also got injured. The van hit the tree after Surjit Singh became sleepy and lost control on the vehicle for a while.

The injured persons are Mr Ramesh Sharma, his wife, Mrs Krishna Sharma, and three students — Indu Bala, Amandeep Kaur, Priti Saini. They were taken to the local Civil Hospital from where the couple was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

It is reported that Mr Sharma was running a school at Dera Bassi and had taken some of the students of his institution on a tour to Amritsar. While three students were travelling in the van with them, others were going in a bus. The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC in this regard.


2 held with fake visa, passports
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 26
Alert immigration staff at Amritsar international airport, Rajasansi, have arrested two persons, including a woman, for allegedly possessing fake visa and passports. A case under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471, IPC, has been registered at Rajasansi police station here.

According to information, Lanjit Kaur, a resident of Kandela in Gurdaspur, was arrested during immigration checking in which her passport and visa were found to be fake. She was going to Canada.

Another accused, Gurbinder Singh, of Bhinder village, was arrested while boarding the same flight.


10 held for links with ISI

Amritsar, December 26
The Punjab Police today took into custody 10 persons from border villages in Attari sector of the district for their alleged links with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.

SSP R.P.S. Brar said here that in all 24 persons had been booked, of which 10 were arrested by the police. Cases against them were registered under the Passport Act, the Official Secrets Act and the NDPS Act. — UNI


Pickpockets have a field day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
Pickpockets did brisk business during the three-day Shahidi Jor Mela here, where lakhs of devotees came to pay obeisance.

The pockets of hundreds of devotees, including journalists were picked.

One intelligent pickpocket did a noble deed. He stole only the money and the rest of the documents were put in a hand bag which was thrown near a beauty parlour. Someone informed the administration about the bag and it was kept in the office of Mrs Hargunjit Kaur, GA to DC. She said in this bag about 10 purses along with documents were kept. A list of the purses and documents has been prepared and the owners will be informed.


Jobless teachers protest against Punjab Govt’s apathy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Unemployed B.Ed teachers in the state today burnt photocopies of their degrees while protesting against the indifferent attitude of the state government. They were protesting against the state government for not giving them jobs and their exploitation by the private school managements.

Ms Sunita Rani ( 40) from Moga told TNS that she had done her B.Ed in 1987. After that she had appeared for numerous interviews but her merit was ignored. Two years from now when she turns 42, she would be overage and not eligible to apply for any job. She has been teaching in a private school for the past 10 years at a meager salary of Rs 2000.

Paramjit Kaur (20) from Moga, who completed her B Ed in 2003, too was unemployed till date. Paramjit said, “ How can I get think of marriage without standing on my feet and raising a family thereafter.

Ms Baljit Kaur and Ms Sapinder Kaur also narrated similar stories.

Mr Yadvinder Singh, who completed his B Ed in 2000 and was unemployed, rued that people with fake degrees were the ones getting jobs. He said they had brought the matter to the notice of the DPI (Secondary) many times but nobody was prepared to take any action. He alleged that touts were asking for Rs 3 lakh as commission for getting them a job at the time of appointments last time, because of which he still was unemployed.

Addressing the agitating teachers, the president of the Lok Bhalai party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, warned the jobless teachers to stay away from the political clutches of the Akalis and the Congress. He assured them that he would be taking up their issue with the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, soon The president of the Unemployed B Ed Teachers Union, Mr Harpreet Singh; secretary, Mr Rajesh Dhodha; and Ms Harry Bhattal, Ms Gurbinder Singh Mansa and Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Bathinda said the Punjab Government was creating an army of the unemployed persons by giving recognition to dozens of ITI s and B. Ed colleges in the state.

On the other hand, the decision to fill 12,000 posts of primary teacher on contract would also affect the job prospects of thousands of B Ed, Art and Craft and Physical Education teachers. The Chief Minister was deliberately hiding the fact that 34,000 posts of teachers were lying vacant in the state, they added.

They warned the authorities concerned that if they did not announce to fill all 40,000 vacant posts in various cadres in the forthcoming meeting of December 27, the union would be forced to launch a campaign of “ Remove Captain, Save Punjab”.

They even threatened that if except the ETT, the other vacancies were not filled, they would not only approach the courts but also bring the matter to the notice of the President and the Prime Minister.

Others who spoke were Mr Baldev Singh Sahdev, Mr Nachattar Singh Mahala, Mr Bachittar Singh, Sajjan Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Ms Mahinder Kaur Sangrur, Mr Iqbal Singh Nabha, Mr Hakam Singh Khanaura.


Patiala girl donates prize money
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 26
Patiala-based 11-year-old dance exponent Isha Dang has donated Rs 2.50 lakh to the Red Cross Hospital Welfare Section.

Isha handed over the cheque to Ms Parneet Shergill, chairperson of the society, at a function held here recently.

Earlier Isha, a Class VI student of Our Lady of Fatima Convent School, who won cash prizes of Rs 1.50 lakh and Rs 36,000 for her dance performances, had donated money for the welfare of deaf and dumb children and the Red Cross section, respectively.

Isha has performed in the Dubai Global Village Festival and a festival in Singapore in July this year. She has won over 75 prizes in national and international dance festivals.


Selling Kashmiri shawls in Amritsar
Sanjay Bhambroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
Kashmiri Muslims from the picturesque valley have come down to the plains of Amritsar due to the sub-zero temperature and the rising demand of Kashmiri shawls among local customers.

Ejaz Ahmed of Sonmarg, who works in a shop in Hall Gate here, said nearly 75 persons had come from the valley to sell shawls. He said the number of shawl sellers from the valley was decreasing every year, as they were not getting adequate remuneration for their work. Earlier, he said, Kashmiri used to come in thousands.

Another shawl worker, Nooruddin (42), who hails from Ladakh, said he had been coming here every winter since his childhood. He said that they were not getting adequate returns. Kashmiris earlier used to work from one to seven years on a single shawl, which would fetch up to Rs 1 lakh. Now there was hardly any buyer for such costly shawls.

Rehman Telwani of Khanyar Srinagar said the large-scale production of machine-made shawls had led to a drastic reduction in the price. He said they had to carry different types of shawl with prices ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 10,000, keeping in view the demand. They usually had pashmina and semi-pashmina shawls with embroidery as the common man was unable to purchase the costlier ones.

He said Jamawar shawls, which originated in Srinagar and used to be made on handlooms, were now made on the imported electronic Jacquard. The price of such shawls had come down as these could be manufactured on a large scale, he added. He, however, regretted that many manufacturers had been compromising on quality while competing in the price war at the global level.

Ejaz said a number of locals, especially girls, had now taken up the work though they could not ensure the good quality of Kashmiri shawls. In the valley young persons were not so enthusiastic about taking up the work. Kashmiri artisans took shops and rooms on rent to live here. Some of the shawl workers even lived in shops. They were generally found in the Sirkibanda, Shakti Nagar and Putlighar areas of the city, he added.


Airtel, Hutch offer lifetime card for 999
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Airtel today claimed that they were the first mobile operators in Punjab to have crossed the 15-lakh customer mark. The mobile operator was the only B category circle in India to cross the landmark. The cellular operator had also launched Rs 999 lifetime pre-paid card, with lifetime validity. Announcing this here today, Mr Deepak Gulati, CEO, Airtel - Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, said that as on November 30, Airtel, Punjab, had 15, 61, 621 customers. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has certified these figures, he said. In less than 90 days, Airtel had added 1,00,000 customers in the state.

Mr Gulati said that the aggressive market expansion, distribution expansion, service expansion and customer service was responsible for the company achieving this vast customer base. Taking about the Rs 999 lifetime pre-paid card, he said that the offer was aimed at the low-end consumer, who used the mobile only for receiving calls. They could now pay Rs 999, and use the connection for life, without having to recharge or worry about the validity period of the card or coupon. The lifetime pre-paid card also offered the user full talk time on every future recharge of any denomination.

Incidentally, Hutch, too, announced a similar scheme, ‘Chalta Rahe’, where their subscribers could go mobile for life by paying Rs 999.

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