P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Three sugar mills face closure
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 5
The state government is planning to close cooperative sugar mills at Jagraon, Rakhra and Zeera, while other mills will be modernised to make them financially viable.

This was stated by the state Cooperative Minister, Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, while interacting with mediapersons here today. Randhawa said liquidators had already been appointed to prepare detailed accounts of these loss-making sugar mills. Following the submission of liquidators’ report advisers would be appointed to suggest the future course of action regarding these mills. As per norms, the cooperative sugar mills should run for 180 days in a season, but none of them could, as they were getting only 37 per cent of their sugarcane requirement. The minister said when the Congress came to power the losses of cooperative sugar mills stood at Rs 112 crore, which had now reduced to Rs 36.32 crore.

And the government would take necessary measures to compensate the remaining losses till March 31. To boost the economic condition of the sugar mills the rate of molasses had been increased to Rs 398. He said they would get assistance from the state as well as the Centre for the modernisation of sugar mills.

Talking about Sanjivni Health Care Scheme, the minister said 3.25 lakh members of the rural cooperative societies had enrolled for the scheme through which they could avail of medical amenities at 118 private and 164 Punjab Health System Cooperation hospitals. The scheme would be launched on January 14, he added.

Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of a Rs 10-lakh sports stadium at Jagat Sewak Educational Institution and presided over the annual function. He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the stadium.


SAFMA delegation reaches India
30 members denied visas
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, January 5
A 36-member South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) delegation from Pakistan, led by its secretary-general, Mr Imtiaz Alam, today crossed over to India even as 30 persons were either denied visas or they dropped their itinerary to India at the eleventh hour.

The delegation included members of the National Assembly, academicians, industrialists and agriculturists. After crossing the Radcliff line, SAFMA members described the visa procedures in India and Pakistan the most ticklish with the result the “wheel of friendship” moved on a snail’s pace.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, Amritsar, Mr Satnam Manak, president, SAFMA, Punjab chapter, and Mr Ramesh Yadav, president, Folklore, received the delegation, among others.

Those who did not arrive included the Railway Minister and two ministers from West Punjab.

Mr Suhail Lashari, president, Lahore Chamber of Industries, said the import and export was not easy due to procedural problems. He said the required infrastructure at Wagah for facilitating the import/export could not be developed so far. He, however, appreciated India for showing generosity by declaring India as Most Favoured Nation while Pakistan had yet to reciprocate. He said there was sufficient potential for export between both the countries.

The president of the Mango Growers Association, Mr Jahid Hussain Gardozi, said the farmers of both the countries could reap enough benefits from the normalisation of relations in the region. The farmers had lot to share, including technical know-how, that could usher new era in the region. He said there should be a single-window system for granting visas to strengthen people-to-people contact.


No discussion on Indo-Pak ties in Pak Assembly: Tahmina
Ashok Sethi & Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 5
No discussion on Indo-Pak relations was held in the National Assembly, said Ms Tahmina Daulatan, member, National Assembly, today. She belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif).

She is leading the 36-member South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) delegation that including three women.

The SAFMA’s “Punjab-Punjab Consultation” was organised by the Puranjot under the aegis of Springdale Educational Society here.

She denied that any fear psychosis governed the withholding of MFN (Most Favored Nation) status to India by Pakistan and added that further dialogue was moving forward to start bilateral trade on equal footing.

Elaborating the remarks about seriousness of Indo-Pak relations, she said the National Assembly needs to hold discussions to iron out differences to expedite mutually effective bilateral relations.

In another announcement, she said erstwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would return to Pakistan by the end of year but refused to give details.

Meanwhile, Mr Sohali Lashari, a former senior vice-president, Lahore Chamber of Commerce, claimed that ratification of the SAFTA agreement was in the pipeline. He added that India and Pakistan should work out modalities for a symbolic start of formal trade that would change fortunes of both countries.

He said a notification of SAFTA would be released soon by the SAARC secretariat to formularise the agreement.

Mr Imtaiz Alam, secretary-general, SAFMA, in his opening remarks offered his regrets over the killing of any Hindu or Sikh in Pakistan.

Taking a positive tone, he said major beneficiaries would be those border cities that had suffered the most in the past 58 years.

He pointed out that the people-to-people contact was irreversible and no government could afford to turn back. He said more buses should ply between the two Punjabs to strengthen the spirit of Punjabiat.

Ms Nadia Saddiqui, associate producer, “Jawab Dey”, GEO TV, said politicians were same in both India and Pakistan.

Ms Gulsadia Altaf, coordinator, Strengthening Participation Organisation, an NGO, said she was happy to be in the country of her ancestors, who lived in Ropar before the Partition.

Welcoming the delegates, Mr Navjot Sidhu, MP, advocated the softening of the Wagah border and said India and Pakistan must open visa centres at Amritsar and Lahore, respectively, to facilitate the free movement of people and cargo.

He favoured immediate setting up of latest infrastructure, including quarantine facilities, here to boost trade.

Mr Satnam Manak, coordinator, SAFMA, said the coming together of intellectuals from both countries had provided impetus to explore new frontiers and give new direction to the Indo-Pak relations.


Political parties send teams to Kashipur
SAD, BJP to hold rally tomorrow
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
While there is no let-up in the drive launched by the Uttaranchal Government to remove Punjabi and other farmers from the Mehta farm near Kashipur in Udham Singh Nagar district of that state, various Punjab-based political parties have sent their representatives to meet the farmers affected.

On a call given by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP, a rally will be held on January 7 at Kashipur to protest against the action of the Uttaranchal Government. Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Onkar Singh Thapar will participate in the rally. A decision in this connection was taken by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal today.

The Punjab Government’s Home Department authorities have contacted their counterparts in Uttaranchal to have a official view of the situation regarding displacement of farmers.

The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has sent Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal and Mr Gurjit Singh, senior leaders of the Congress, to Kashipur to collect information from the farmers affected and to recommend compensation for them.

Mr Dullo has talked to the Uttaranchal Chief Minister, Mr N.D. Tiwari, and Mr Moti Lal Vora, in charge of the Congress affairs in that state, with regard to the removal of farmers from the Mehta farm. Mr Dullo had been assured by Mr Tiwari that relief will be provided to the farmers affected and a permanent solution to the problem will be found.

Reports reaching here say 29 more houses were demolished in the past two days while earlier over 200 houses were demolished, displacing about 250 families from the farm.

The Bharti Kisan Union, led by Mr Mahinder Singh Tikat, will hold a rally on January 9 at Aligarh to protest against the removal of Punjabi and other farmers from the farm. Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President of the Akali Dal (Longowal) has decided to meet Mr Tiwari on January 10.

Sources said yesterday, Akali leaders attempted to take out a religious procession at Kashipur on the eve of Gurpurb, but they were denied permission to hold the procession by the authorities concerned. When the religious procession was not allowed, Akali leaders held a protest march there.

Meanwhile, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, in a press note, said the role played by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna had emboldened anti-Sikh forces to step up their repressive policies against the Sikh community. “The silence maintained by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Sarna group in Delhi over the happenings in Kashipur is a commentary on their cowardice on issues involving religious sensitivities and moral issues.”

However, parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) say Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his party are responsible for what was happening with Sikh farmers in Uttaranchal. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann said because of the dubious role played by Mr Badal, the previous NDA Government dared to merge Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttaranachal while all Sikh farmers settled in western Uttar Pradesh had opposed such a merger and had launched an agitation.


Jathedar, international adviser discuss summons
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, Director, Sikh Human Rights Group and Secretary, International Affairs, today discussed the summons, issued to Jathedar Vedanti by a Ropar court.

Jathedar Vedanti has already refused to accept the summons. Dr Rai said that there was a serious move to invest the Sikh clergy with ‘Extra-Territorial Status’ so that he could not be summoned by any court of the land.

Expressing concern at the issue Dr Rai said that such developments (summons to Jathedar) seemed to a recurring matter and needed some permanent solution to save Sikh high priests from embarrassments. Summons were issued to Jathedar Vedanti, SGPC chief Avtar Singh and Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwer, media adviser Shiromani Committee, following a petition by Mr Joginder Singh, Editor, Spokesman .

Dr Rai suggested that Akal Takht the SGPC should consider transforming Akal Takht Sahib defector extra-territorial status into official arrangements with the state of India.

He said such a development occurred in the past too. The state authorities instigated previous cases and subsequently were withdrawn when juristic contradictions became evident. However, the recent summons marked a worrying departure as it might encourage individuals to disrespect the status of Akal Takht through courts, he said.

Dr Rai said through centuries Sikhs in the world had been respecting Akal Takht as the temporal centre of the Sikhs. Akal Takht Sahib has unique status in the history of south Asia as it was established as sovereign institution. He said it was time to give legal shape to this arrangement to prevent such confusions creating bigger tension. Akal Takht Sahib and the SGPC should initiate negotiations with the central government to make its status into legal and official arrangements.


Vedanti in fix again
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti has again courted controversy by attending the marriage of the daughter of a senior police officer at a marriage palace in violation of edict (hukm-nama) that directs the Sikh Panth not to take Guru Grant Sahib to marriage palace

However, the Akal Takht secretariat denied that the holy Sikh scripture was taken to the marriage palace. He claimed that Jathedar Vedanti blessed the couple at the time of ‘lawan’ (wedding) which were performed in an enclosure, which was not part of the marriage palace.


‘Monitor financial help to terrorists through hawala’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Dr Harjit Singh Sandhu, a senior police officer from India and a member of United Nations International War Crimes Tribunal, said today that it was necessary to check and monitor the financial assistance received by terrorists through hawala to nail terrorism, which helps terrorists to buy arms and other utility items.

Dr Sandhu, who is an expert in international criminal police investigation, economic crime, money laundering, drug offences, war crimes and counter-terrorism, was here on an invitation of Amritsar Vikas Manch in a face-to-face interaction programme.

Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of the interactive session, he said the hawala channels, and drug smuggling were the main sources of financing terrorist activities across the world.

He said intelligence agencies should make a thorough study to penetrate, through special thrust, into different hawala channels.

Commenting on the modus operendi of the drug traffickers through the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent, Dr Sandhu said a close international watch was required to break the nexus between the traffickers.

He felt that more efforts were required through the cooperation of various countries to check menace. He said that the only 5 per cent of the drug peddling across the globe was seized while the 95 per cent slipped through organised international rackets.

He said an international foolproof strategy and mechanism was required to check the menace of drug peddling and its nexus with the terrorist organisations.

Among others who were present at the function included, Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, president, Mr Amrit Lal, general secretary and Prof Mohan Singh, member AVM.


India, Oman complete 50 years of diplomatic ties
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Diplomatic relations between India and Oman have ushered in a golden phase during the 50-year long consistent ties.

Indian Ambassador to Oman, Ashok Kumar Attri stated this on his brief visit to the holy city. Mr Attri said 3.5 lakh Indians had enriched the petrol-rich Gulf country by their professional and business acumen. He said that Omani people were appreciative of contribution of the Indians, who had been able to maintain old traditional bond which existed between the two nations.

He said Defence ties between the two nations epitomised strong mutual trust as Indian and Oman’s Navies hold regular joint exercises to strengthen strategic relationships between the two old nations. He said India had played a significant role in building up security tie up with Oman. He informed that last year Chief of the Army Staff Gen J.J. Singh visited Oman and his visit would be followed by other senior Defence staff officers in coming months. The Indian Ambassador said 2005-06 was being celebrated as the golden jubilee year for cementing ties between the countries. He said functions were organised to showcase growing economic and traditional association.

Both countries had been able to iron out issues like the entry of illegal immigrants, Mr Attri said he able to help more than 18,000 illegal Indian workers who either had overstayed or been duped by the Indian travel agents. Indian professionals and the business community occupy unique place in the Omani society which acknowledges their contribution in building the modern Oman.

He informed that the biggest ever Indo-Omanian project for producing urea fertiliser worth one billion dollar had become a major landmark and had gone into production last year. The project built with world class technology in collaboration with equal equity participation of Omanian and Indian’s PSUs IFFCO and KRIBCO, the fertiliser major of India, respectively.

He said 200 lakh tones of urea would be produced annually at the plant situated in the port town of Sur. Trial production started in July and commercial production commenced in August last year. Formal inauguration was expected in February.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries are to reach new heights in March as they would be jointly hosting Indo-Gulf cooperation countries meet on trade and economic ties in Muscat to deliberate on cooperation between India and Gulf nations Indian commerce minister Kamal Nath and other senior leaders are likely to participate in it.


Sikh devotees pay obeisance
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 5
Thousands of Sikh devotees today paid obeisance in different historical gurdwaras included Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib and Katalgarh Sahin in Chamkaur Sahib and Bhatta Sahib in Ropar on the occasion of birthday of Guru Gobind Singh.

The main celebration took place at Anandpur Sahib. A heavy rush was witnessed in Takhtgarh Sahib where long queue of the devotees were seen since morning. The five different nagar kirtan from various historical gurdwaras included Kiratpur Sahib also reached here.

A long procession headed by the Punj Paya was accompanied by hundreds of devotees also taken out in the town from gurdwara here.


Rise above petty factionalism: Badal
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 5
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD (B), while addressing a gathering at the function organised by the former SAD MLA, Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, in connection with the Gurparb celebration at Kariha village, near here today, exhorted the party workers to rise above petty factionalism to bring the party back into power in the general Assembly elections next year.

The people belonging to all sections of society have become disillusioned with the functioning of the Congress Government. They have now made up their mind to get rid of this government but the party workers would have to show unity and work hard to highlight the failures and misdeeds of the Congress regime, he cautioned.

The former Chief Minister, criticised the Congress Government and said that it had done nothing but rebuked and implicated him into false cases during the past four years. People were quite aware that merely rebuking the opposition would not serve any purpose, said Mr Badal while enumerating the various pro-people schemes, that were launched by the previous SAD-BJP government headed by him.

He also reminded the people that it was during the SAD-BJP government that big projects like setting up of international air-port at Amritsar, oil refinery at Bathinda, construction of Rahon-Machhiwara bridge across Satlej etc. were undertaken.

Mr Badal expressed concern over the situation being faced by the Sikhs in Uttranchal. He said he had taken up the matter with the Uttranchal Chief Minister, Mr N.D. Tiwari. The SAD(B) would send a delegation in Uttranchal to assess the situation and to ensure that the interests of the Sikh community was safeguarded.

Earlier, Mr Badal attended a social function at the residence of an NRI, Ms Avtar Kaur at Hansron village. Chaudhary Mohan Lal, former MLA from Banga, Mr Resham Singh Thiara, Mr Harprabh Mahil Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh Hussainpur, SGPC member, among others addressed the gathering.


Poor response to minister’s rally
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Dasuya (Hoshiarpur), January 5
The rally organised by Punjab Health Minister and Dasuya legislator Ramesh Chander Dogra in his constituency to thank the central government for including the district under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, evoked a poor response.

The state-level youth rally, which witnessed a thin gathering and was being projected as a stepping stone for Arun Dogra, the minister’s son, left red faces all around. Political pundits were of the view that the event had “exposed” the lack of mass appeal for Arun, who is the Youth Congress chief of the district, and was a barometer of the depleting public support for the minister in his constituency.

The rally witnessed a thin attendence, with almost half of the gathering comprising elderly persons from the district and far-flung areas of the state.

A majority of senior Congress leaders of the district did not attend the rally, as a senior Congress leader claimed that Mr Dogra had been projecting his son and ignoring them. They alleged that Mr Dogra had been trying to sideline them, as he ignored them and called MLAs from Jalandhar and surrounding constituencies for his son’s projection.

Mr Ashok Tanwar, president, All-India Youth Congress, who was the main speaker, lauded the UPA government for its policies. He said the Central Government was coming up with more schemes that would prove helpful in tackling unemployment in the country.


SGPC panel leaves for Uttaranchal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
A five-member SGPC committee led by Mr Harsurinder Singh, left for Uttaranchal here today following reports that Sikh settlers were being subjected to repression by the state government.

Akal Takht, the SGPC, the DSGMC, the Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj (APKF), the Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) separately condemned the bulldozing of houses of Sikhs and banning of procession on the occasion of birth anniversary of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh at Kashipur (Uttaranchal).

The committee will probe the matter. The other four members, include Mr Jaswinder Singh, Mr Sukhmit Singh Qadian, Mr Bhupinder Singh Anand, all SGPC members, and Mr Dalmegh Singh, Secretary, SGPC.

The SGPC in a letter to President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities Tarlochan Singh and the Governor Uttaranchal stated that it was unfortunate that a procession to celebrate birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was banned.


YC leaders to get priority in ticket allotment
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Mr Ashok Tanver, president, All-India Youth Congress, said here yesterday that tickets would be allotted to maximum number of Youth Congress (YC) leaders in the forthcoming Assembly elections. He said maximum number of the YC workers from all over the country led by their presidents would participate in the all-India Congress session to be held in Hyderabad from January 21 to 26 .

He said after obtaining permission from Ms Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC, appointments of new presidents of the YC would be done. He made it clear that Mr Ravinder Aambla, president, Punjab Youth Congress, would continue in the same capacity.


Residents protest against closure of road by PUDA
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 5
Residents of Bhagu road today staged a protest against PUDA’s move to close one end of the road for reportedly carving out some commercial plots.

Leading the protesters, Mr Darshan Singh Bajaj said the closure of the road would inconvenience thousands of people of city. He said the 45-foot wide metalled road was in place for the past 65 years, when PUDA and Housing Board had not come into being. But, now PUDA had encroached upon the road stating it fell under its jurisdiction, he alleged.

Another protester, Mr Rajbir Singh Sidhu, said sewerage work was in progress on the road and they didn’t pay attention towards what was happening there. They came to know about the encroachment only when they converged to leave for gurdwara to celebrate Gurpurab today. He said a footpath was built overnight, which had closed their way to the gurdwara as well as a temple. The closure of road would affect residents of Model Town, Bhagu road and Housing Board. He said they demolished the footpath raised on the road and also removed the construction material. The protesters said in case of closure they would get isolated from the city, which would ruin commercial establishments in their area.

They withdrew their protest following the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, who ensured the stoppage of construction work.

While PUDA ACA, Mr A.S. Bhatti could, not be contacted for his comments, the DC said he had asked the ADC to call PWD and PUDA to discuss the matter. He said they would ask PUDA to show the record relating to the road, after which necessary action would be taken. He said the road could not be closed in such a manner.


M.S. Gill for relocation of barracks near airport
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Hesitation in removing certain old barracks and a telephone facility building from near Guru Ram Dass International Airport at Raja Sansi, near Amritsar, by the Defence authorities is creating problems in making more space available for parking and other facilities near the airport.

The airport authorities have offered to provide an alternative site to construct barracks and shift the telephone facility, but there has been no positive response in this regard from the Defence Department. The airport authorities have also offered to provide money for the construction of the barracks at the new site.

Revealing this, Mr Manohar Singh Gill, Rajya Sabha Member from Punjab, told The Tribune here today that he had taken up the matter with the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. “I have requested Mr Mukherjee, who is also in charge of Congress affairs in Punjab, to ask the defence officials concerned to address the genuine issue raised by the airport authorities”, Mr Gill said.

“As the airport authorities are prepared to foot the bill of the construction of the barracks at the alternative site at a short distance from the airport, there should be no problem for the Defence authorities in conceding the demand made in this regard”, he said. “I have also made a similar request to the Prime Minister”, he added.

Mr Gill said he visited the airport a few days ago and talked to the airport authorities in detail. Though the passenger arrival lounge of the airport was ready, it appeared to be small as compared to the facility at other international airports. It required to be expanded. The departure lounge had not been completed but it also was not of international standards.

He said it was surprising the Civil Aviation Ministry proposed to spend only Rs 80 crore on the Raja Sansi airport while at places like Delhi and Mumbai, it proposed to spend Rs 580 crore each. He said as the Raja Sansi airport would make a significant contribution in reducing the passenger load on Delhi International Airport, it would have been better if the ministry had given it due importance.


Pathankot airport to be operational soon, says MP
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The new airport at Pathankot will become operational soon, says Mr Ashwani Kumar, MP, who had a meeting with the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Praful Patel, yesterday.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Ashwani Kumar said he had been in regular touch with the Civil Aviation Ministry for making the new facility at Pathankot operational.

“Last year, Mr Patel had expressed his inability to introduce any flight by the national carrier, Indian Airlines, on the plea that there was not enough passenger traffic available in the Delhi-Pathankot sector. A market survey conducted by IMRB, on behalf of Indian Airlines revealed that the traffic potential between Delhi and Pathankot was estimated to be around 15 passengers a day only.

“This level of traffic demand could be met only with small aircraft having a seating capacity of 20 to 25 passengers. Owing to the unavailability of suitable aircraft in the fleet, Indian Airlines was not in a position to consider commencement of operations to Pathankot, Mr Patel had written to Mr Ashwani Kumar in June last year.

In a letter written to Mr Patel on January 4, Mr Ashwani Kumar said that it was pre-eminently in the public interest to urgently ensure connectivity between Pathankot and the rest of the country at an early date considering that the infrastructure of the airport was already in place.

“Pathankot is a gateway to three states and its air connectivity would promote tourism and industrialisation of the entire belt, giving a much-needed boost to the economy of the border states. Air connectivity will have a major positive impact on employment generation activity in the region. Viewed on the touchstone of any test, the civil airlink to Pathankot must not be put off on any consideration, least of all on account of the non-availability of smaller aircraft,” wrote Mr Ashwani Kumar.

Mr Ashwani Kumar followed it up with a meeting with Mr Patel last evening where he got an assurance that the Pathankot base would be operational very soon.


Warehouse staff seek reinstatement of 16 workers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
Activists of the Punjab State Warehouse Workers Union (AICCTU) today burnt the effigy of the officials of the Warehouse Corporation and the district administration in protest against the removal of 16 daily-wage workers of the Warehouse Centre II, Sunam, and non-payment of wages to the removed workers for four months at the traffic lights chowk, near the main bus stand, here. They also raised slogans against the Warehouse management and district administration demanding reinstatement of the removed workers without any further delay.

Mr Ram Singh Kular, Mr Kulwant Singh Maur and Mr Mithoo Singh Chhajla today observed fast in support of demands of the workers. Today was the third day of the relay fast by the agitating workers in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) here.

The protesters also held a rally and demanded suspension of manager of the Warehouse Centre-II, Sunam. Mr Harbhagwan Bhikhi, state secretary of All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU); alleged that these workers had been removed from work as they had exposed “irregularities” related to storage of the food-grain in the Warehouse centre. He said that if an independent inquiry was conducted then a big scandal could come to light in the food-grain storage.

Among others who addressed the protesters, included Mr Dharam Pal Singh, state vice-president of the Punjab State Warehouse Workers Union (AICCTU); Mr Kewal Singh Premi, joint secretary of the union; Mr Bansri Singh, a leader of the AICCTU; Mr Darshan Singh Beer and Mr Pala Singh.

Meanwhile, Mr Raghbir Singh Jawandha, state president of the Punjab State Warehouse Workers Union (AICCTU), has convened a joint meeting of the several organisations of workers on January 8 at the venue of relay fast here to further intensify the agitation and compel the government to accept the demands of the workers.


SC staff seek one post of Director

Chandigarh, January 5
The North India SC, ST and BC Employees Presidium has urged the Punjab Government to fill the three posts of director in the Department of School Education according to the reservation policy.

In a representation submitted to Mrs Tejinder Kaur, Principal Secretary of the department, the presidium stated that there were three posts of Director in the Education Department.

At present, all three incumbent officers belonged to the general category. The presidium said that according to the rules and regulations, one of these posts should be held by a Scheduled Castes candidate. — TNS


Bhalai society burns Brinda Karat’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Hundreds of activists of the Bhalai Vikas Society, Hoshiarpur, led by their chairman, Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, Mr Gian Bansal, Mr Nipun Sharma and Mr Shiv Sud burnt effigy of CPM leader Brinda Karat, MP, for her levelling allegations against Swami Ramdev, a yoga guru, and her alleging that animal parts and human bones were being used in Ayurvedic medicines prepared by the pharmacy of guru, at the local clock tower this afternoon. They protested and demonstrated against Ms Brinda Karat and raised slogans against her and CPM.

Addressing after the demonstration, Mr Tikshan Sud condemned Ms Brinda Karat for her irresponsible act which had unnecessarily dragged the country into unwanted controversy. He said ayurvedic system of medicines was an ancient science which was duly recognised by the public as well as rulers of the country.


Police in action due to false alarm
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 5
A false alarm of a five-year-old child having been kidnapped brought the police into action here today.

Both the SHO, Mr Sukhjit Singh Virk, and in charge of the city police post, Mr Ramesh Kumar, got activated and made inquiries in this connection. The PCR team was swung into action and the area sealed. Both the police officials went to the house of the child, Jashanpreet, to make inquiries. But soon after they saw that the child back to his house with one of his uncles.

It is reported that Jashanpreet went to the market along with his friends to buy toffees. There he met his uncle who took the child along with him. The other children who were not accquainted with Jashanpreet’s uncle thought that he had been kidnapped by someone. They created an alarm which caused panic in the area.


Rs 3 lakh realised from traffic offenders

Barnala, January 5
More than Rs 3 lakh was realised by the Barnala traffic police district from 7,069 challans last year.

This was stated today by Mr G. Nageshwara Rao, SSP, Barnala. He said the police succeeded in bringing down the rate of excise and NDPS cases. Forty-six persons were killed and 66 injured last year, whereas in 2004, 53 killed and 80 injured.

He said the women cell had settled 311 of the 317 disputes. Eight proclaimed offenders and nine absconders were arrested from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Sangrur districts. — OC


Uttaranchal Sabha seeks compensation for Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
The Uttranchal Sabha (Patiala unit) has demanded monetary compensation for Sikhs who were uprooted in the Kashipur region of Uttranchal recently.

In a press release, the sabha president, Mr Bhagat Singh Bhandari, said step of the Uttranchal Government to displace Sikh families without giving them adequate compensation was a retrograde step and it had attracted criticism from all quarters. He said the government should have formulated a policy to watch the interests of those Sikh families who had been staying there for the past 30 or 35 years and added that the government should give at least 3.4 acre of land to the displaced families.


Panj Piaras lay stone of Nishan-E-Sikhi
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 5
The foundation stone of the Nishan-E-Sikhi to be built at Khadoor Sahib was laid today with great enthusiasm by the Panj Piaras under the supervision of Baba Sewa Singh, head of the Kar Sewa Khadoor Sahib.

The proposal of this project was made in the 2004, during the celebrations of 500th birth anniversary of the second Sikh guru Sri Guru Anged Dev.


Two get awards
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, president, Punjab Writers Forum, and Dr Yoginder Mohan, a senior journalist working with Indian Express, were given “National Integration Award 2006” for their contribution in different fields for the betterment of society by the National Theatre Arts Society (NATS).

Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director, NTAS, in a press note issued here today said apart from honouring these two personalities, the NATS also donated Rs 10,550 to Kushant Ashram on the even of New Year celebrations.


Tribune staffer bereaved
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Amar Kaur (95), grandmother of Ms Rubinder Gill, Staff Correspondent, The Tribune, Patiala, who passed away at her native village Naiwala, near Patran, yesterday was cremated yesterday afternoon.

Amar Kaur is survived by 3 sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Sarpanch, father booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 5
Sukhchain Singh, sarpanch, Bagrian village, and his father Hazara Singh have been booked for assaulting Ms Sukhwant Kaur, a member of the panchayat.

Police sources said here yesterday that a case under Sections 341,323, 34 of the IPC had been registered against the accused. Hazara Singh has been arrested while his son has absconded.

Ms Sukhwant in her complaint to the police alleged that the sarpanch called her for a meeting of the panchayat at the village school. When she went to attend the meeting there was no panchayat secretary. She raised an objection and said that the meeting could not be convened in the absence of the secretary. The son and father attacked her.


Three shops burgled
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 5
There has been a spate of thefts in the town, with thieves striking at three shops in the Maan market area, about 200m from the police station last night. The incident was the eighth in the past about one year in the area.

The thieves, after breaking open locks of the three shops, decamped with cash and mobile sets from one shop.

The owner of a garment shop said the theft was noticed in the morning today. He found one shutter of the shop open and hosiery articles worth about Rs 50,000 missing.

In another theft incident from the Standard Mobile Plaza here, the thieves reportedly decamped with cash and mobile phones and electronic goods worth about 3.50 lakh. Interestingly, the thieves also took away locks of the shops along with the stolen goods.

Last year, thieves had stolen electronic goods and mobile sets from four shops but the police has failed to solve the theft cases.


Three nabbed in snatching case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
Three unidentified persons, who tried to snatch a cash bag from the attendant at the Gosla Filling Station at Musahabpur near Mukerian town of this district on Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway after getting petrol filled in their Maruti Zen car this afternoon, were nabbed by the police at a naka near Hazipur, this evening.

According to police sources, they were identified as Sikander Singh, son of Dharampal, Parminder Singh, son of Sital Singh, both residents of Sarna, PS Sadar, Pathankot, and Vishal Sharma son of Romesh Sharma of Sujjanpur (Gurdaspur).

The sources further said they got petrol filled for Rs 1,800 in their car and when the attendant demanded money, instead of giving it they pushed him and tried to snatch his cash bag. When they could not succeed in their attempt, they fled away in the car without making the payment of petrol.

The owner of the filling station informed the police soon after the incident. The police at once came in action and informed its counterparts in the area. They immediately put nakas on all the adjoining roads and nabbed the culprits.


Death of Dalit youth in police custody alleged
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 5
Salwinder Singh (30) of Margindpura village under the Bhikhiwind police station died under mysterious circumstances late last night. The police registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

People of the area alleged that the youth was beaten to death in police custody.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, refuted the allegation and said the youth committed suicide.

Mr Chaman Lal Darejke, general secretary, Shahid Bhagat Singh Naujawan Sabha, Amritsar, demanded a high-level probe into the incident. The youth belonged to the Dalit community.


Avoid jobless, futureless growth: Dr Panchmukhi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Dr V.R. Panchmukhi, former Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi and Chancellor of Rashtriya Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Triupati highlighted importance of research statistics, applied statistics and econometrics in analysis and policy making.

He was speaking on the first day of the three day 42nd Annual Conference of the Indian Econometric Society (TIES) hosted by the Punjab School of Economics of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Prof Panchmukhi said that in the name of efficiency, jobless, voiceless, ruthless, futureless and rootless growth was being emphasised which must be avoided. He emphasised the use of Game Theory in the policy modeling especially in the light of negotiations at the WTO.

Dr Atul Sarma, Vice-Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) and President of the Indian Econometric Society (TIES) in presidential remarks on “Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) and Policy Analysis” explained the technical steps in General Equilibrium Modeling.

Dr Sarma stressed the importance of CGE in evaluating the impact of policy changes and brought out the application of CGE models in trade and tax policies, structural adjustment, fiscal and financial sector reforms. He pointed out that these models could be used to examine the impact of VAT regime, large changes in oil prices etc.

Earlier, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the University, welcomed Dr Panchmukhi and other delegates.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar and Local Organising Secretary of the Conference said that the economic reforms should be for human development and not for raising the state’s revenue. More than 100 research papers would be presented on various aspects of economics. He said one special session would be devoted to panel discussion on Punjab Economy.

Mahalanobis Memorial Medal was awarded to an eminent economist, Dr. Abhijit Banerjee of MIT. In the afternoon, three sessions on monetary policy, banking and Finance and Fiscal Policy were held in which more than 12 papers were presented by economists and econometricians. These sessions were chaired by Dr R.B. Burman of Reserve Bank of India, Dr. Balwant Singh of the RBI and Dr P.S. Raikhy of School of Economics of Guru Nanak Dev University.

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