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BJP vows to reduce interest on agri-loans
Perneet Singh and Praful Nagpal
Tribune News Service

Fazilka, February 4
Sounding the Assembly poll bugle at a massive farmers’ rally here today, the BJP president, Mr Rajnath Singh, announced that they would slash the interest rate on agricultural loans to 6 per cent if the BJP and its alliance partners got people’s mandate at the Centre and the state. He said the party would take all measures to ensure that the country’s farmers didn’t commit suicide.

Upbeat over a strong gathering of over 20,000 at the local grain market, the BJP chief said it reflected the mood of the people of Punjab who had already made up their mind to wipe out the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Sources said the mammoth gathering didn’t augur well for the ruling Congress as it was organised by the BJP without any aid from its major ally SAD.

Political analysts felt that the overwhelming response to their rally proved that there was a strong anti-incumbency feeling among the masses.

Switching over to the rally’s theme, “Kisan di lalkar badal deo sarkar”, he accused the Congress government of duping the farmers and claimed that 200 farmers had committed suicides in Sangrur district. Charging the state government with ignoring the farmers’ interests, he said though the Congress rode to power by promising 24-hour power supply and free power to the farmers, the power scenario in the state was pathetic. He rued that while sugar prices had shot up to Rs 22 per kg, cane farmers were still fetching Rs 120 per quintal for their produce, while they got Rs 110 per quintal when cane’s rate was Rs 10 per kg. Attempting to woo the local cane farmers, he said the farmers should get at least Rs 175 per quintal for sugarcane.

Attacking the UPA government, he said diesel prices had shot up five times in a year. He also flayed the Union Government’s decision of importing wheat.

State BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna said resentment against the state government was brewing among people and it was evident from the suicide committed by a farmer in Kapurthala, owing to delay in his paddy procurement and the recent self-immolation by Gopal Kashyap in the Chief Minister’s home town. He said though the Chief Minister was boasting of 16 mega projects, there was no guarantee of employment for Punjabis in these projects. He said 30,000 posts of teachers and 15,000 posts of doctors had been lying vacant in the state.

Senior BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma lamented that while the cane farmers were not getting fair prices for their crop, potato and mustard farmers were yet to receive any compensation for the damage caused due to frost. Rajya Sabha MP Dara Singh urged the youth to channelise energy in sports to save them from drug menace. Lok Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu merely belted out a string of stories and couplets to make his points. BJP Secretary Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and the party’s All-India Kisan Morcha chief, Mr Vinod Pandey, were also present on the occasion.

 

NCERT withdraws four textbooks
To include names of Amrita Pritam, others
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 4
The National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) has accepted the recommendation of the National Commission for Minorities (NMC) and agreed to withdraw four school textbooks.

The withdrawal is the outcome of relentless efforts of the NMC and pressure mounted by scholars of minority communities, said Chairman of the commission Tirlochan Singh while talking to The Tribune here today.

The withdrawn textbooks include “Indian and the World” written by Ms Seema Yadav for Class VII, “Contemporary India” of Class IX by Mr Hari Om, “Modern India” authored by Mr Satish Chandra Mittla for Class XII and “Medieval India” of Class XI by Prof Satish Chander, he said.

He said the objectionable portions in four other textbooks were deliberated at a meeting between the NCERT academicians and members of the commission.

The meeting was presided over by the chairman of the commission. After thorough discussions with the authors of the textbooks, the NCERT approved the recommendations of the NCM to make changes in the books.

These include “Social Sciences” by Prof Romilla Thapar (Class VII); “Modern India” by Prof Bipan Chandra (Class XII); “Social Science” (Part I) by Prof Arjun Dev/Indira Arjun Dev (Class VIII); and “Contemporary World History” (Part II) by Prof Arjun Dev (Class XII).

The objectionable portions relating to Guru Nanak Dev, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur would be re-written.

Mr Tirlochan Singh said the NCERT had also agreed to include names of Bhai Veer Singh, Nanak Singh and Amrita Pritam, all eminent Punjabi litterateurs, in the textbook “Contemporary World History (Part II)” written by Prof Arjun Dev for Class XII.

In yet another move the NCERT amended the controversial portions about Jainism and Mahavira in the book “Ancient India” written by Prof Sharma for Class XI. Some Jain scholars had lodged the complaint with the NMC.

The objectionable portions had been replaced with appropriate text. Moreover the NCERT would issue a corrigendum in this regard.

The NCERT was in the process of coming out with new textbooks in accordance with National Curriculum Framework, the NMC chairman added.

 

Freight corridor extension to benefit
Punjab, says Montek

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
With the extension of the Mumbai-Delhi freight corridor to Amritsar, the present locational disadvantage to Punjab will be done away with. This is the view of the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Talking to The Tribune here today at the residence of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Ahluwalia said the commission had cleared the project, which was announced by the Prime Minister. Under the project, a dedicated railway line would be laid for the transportation of goods from Amritsar to Mumbai.

Once the corridor became operational, goods produced in Punjab would start reaching Mumbai for export to various countries in a day. The time to transport goods to Mumbai would be drastically cut, he added. Because of the locational disadvantage, Punjab was facing problems of investment in the manufacturing sector. It needed connectivity with port cities through the fastest modes of transportation.

Mr Ahluwalia said Punjab was doing well on the economic front. Its main economic indicators were showing progress. But there was need to do a lot on the educational front. Urging the Punjab Government to focus on science education in the rural areas, Mr Ahluwalia said he would like to visit some government schools during his next visit to Punjab in the third week of this month. He said the commission would try to help Punjab improve the infrastructure in schools. Plenty of funds were available under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, he added.

Asked about the Annual Plan of Punjab, which will be presented to the Planning Commission for approval later this month, Mr Ahluwalia said “the plan is a routine exercise and addition or cut of a few crores of rupees in such a plan does not matter much”. The Punjab Government should focus on attracting private investors to state. “I have been talking to private investors and they are keen to invest in Punjab. The state is moving ahead”, he said. “The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, recently told me that all IT majors have set up shop in Punjab. Besides, Ambanis and other big houses have also begun investment in the state”, he added.

Mr Ahluwalia said Punjab needed to set up a world-class modern fruit and vegetable market on the pattern of the one set up near Bangalore. The modernisation of agriculture was the need of the hour. “ The first step should setting up of modern markets”, he added.

Coming to national issues, Mr Ahluwalia, said ineffective plan schemes would be weeded out from the next Five Year Plan which would take off on April 1, 2007. “ We have started squeezing ineffective schemes and money is being diverted to flagship national programmes of development such as the Urban Renewal Mission, the National Health Mission, the National Horticulture Mission and the Bharat Nirman Project”. These programmes would give a big push to the growth of the economy in the countryside in three or four years. He said any programme implemented would start showing results in three years.

Agreeing to a major demand of states, the commission had started allowing freedom to them to choose schemes from a basket of proposals. Every scheme had three or four sub-schemes. The states could pick any of the sub-schemes, he added. For instance, under the National Horticulture Mission, there were four or five sub-schemes. By providing freedom to select schemes of their choice, a major grievance of the states had been removed by the commission.

Admitting that educated youth were less inclined to go in for jobs in the services sector because of the job insecurity factor, Mr Ahluwalia said there was need to set a system in place to provide security of jobs in this sector. He said it was necessary to create a social security system in the country in the light of the expanding private job market in which hiring and firing of employees was a part of the employment process.

 

Jobless ETT teachers’ protest today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 4
Leaders of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union (UETU) and the DIET Students Welfare Association (DSWA) today claimed that they had information about a government’s move under which the Punjab Finance Department was working out a proposal to recruit unemployed ETT teachers in the pay scale of Class IV employees.

Leaders of the UETU and the DSWA held a meeting in this regard today and decided to hold a protest march and burn an effigy of the government tomorrow at Lehragaga town, which falls in the constituency of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Unemployed ETT teachers from Sangrur and Mansa districts will take part in the protest.

Talking to The Tribune, UETU district unit press secretary Sukhvir Singh said the government’s proposed move would not be tolerated by unemployed elementary teachers.

He said the teachers would hold protest and demonstrations throughout the state tomorrow to oppose the government’s proposed move.

He added that the teachers took a pledge to intensify their struggle and compel the state government to accept their demands and abandon the idea of recruiting ETT teachers in the pay scale of Class IV employees.

He said their agitation would continue till the appointment of all unemployed ETT teachers on a regular basis in the teachers’ pay scale.

The meeting was attended among others by Mohinder Pal Singh Kaleke, UETU district unit president, Jagtar Singh Ilwal, DSWA district unit president; Kulwinder Singh Jahangir, Parupkar Singh, Kamaljit Singh Kaal Banjara, Jatinder Saggu and Gurmit Singh Khetla, all leaders of the DSWA and the UETU.

 

Students forced to carry bricks
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 4
Students of Shaheed Makhan Singh Girls Senior Secondary School here were forced by the school authorities to do labour work during working hours. They had to carry bricks, which were lying on the roadside, to the school building where construction work was going on.

According to sources, the local MLA from his quota had recently given about Rs 2 lakh for the development of the school. The school authorities have launched renovation and repair work at the school and purchased bricks for the purpose.

Though the students alleged that the school management had made them carry the bricks during the study hours, the spokesman of the school refuted the allegation. He, however, admitted that the students were asked to bring the bricks from roadside as a part of a “dignity of labour project”.

 

Disbanding of boards sought
Prem Kumar Sharma

Barnala, February 4
The All-India General Samaj Party has decided to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) suit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in June if various corporations and boards in Punjab are not disbanded by then.

Disclosing this to The Tribune here today, Mr Suresh Kumar Goyal, president of the party, said his party had been trying to create awareness about the futility of more than 100 corporations, boards and other such bodies in Punjab through its drives for the past one and a half years.

Mr Goyal asserted that these corporations, boards and other such bodies were “white elephants and dens of corruption” and were a huge burden on the state exchequer affecting the economy of the state badly.

He said there were around 117 chairpersons heading these bodies. They were appointed to fulfil political obligations, irrespective of their qualifications. The Punjab Mandi Board (Construction Wing) served a little purpose when the Public Works Department (PWD) B&R had been operational in the state.

 

Dhaliwal accuses trustee of pressure tactics
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
“The Shri Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust (SGRDT) has been putting responsibility on the Director-Principal for recovery of dues of wards of certain VIPs by countless resolutions passed from 2001 to December 23, 2005. In fact, it is the implementation of these trust orders that has resulted in my suspension. The parents have been ‘boldly’ ignoring these trust orders.”

These were the immediate remarks of Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, who was unceremoniously removed as Director-Principal of the SGPC-run medical college yesterday, in a written statement issued here today.

He held one of the trustees responsible for the “unsavoury” situation.

Interestingly, the SGPC former president Gurcharan Singh Tohra had honoured Dr Dhaliwal for performing surgeries without shaving the hair in 1997 at a special function held at Mansa.

The trust had passed a resolution on February 19, 2004 and March 13, 2004 appreciating his flawless services to the institute and was also appreciated by Tohra for the standards and procedures of holding the Sikh Minority Entrance Test.

Dr Dhaliwal alleged that one of the trustees used to pressure him to give distinction to his children. He alleged that when he refused to do so, the promotions of senior doctors of the college were cancelled.

Dr Dhaliwal further alleged that the trustee had also pressured him in his office just four days before the entrance test for session 2003 to “leak the question papers” in favour of his daughter, which he had boldly refused.

He alleged that one of the wards of a senior Akali leader had availed of the quota by misrepresenting the facts, which amounted to “embezzlement” of more than Rs 30 lakh as otherwise he would have had to take an NRI seat.

However, the Trustee denied the allegations. He said he had already paid more than one due installment of his daughter.

Dr Dhaliwal alleged that he was also being pressured by a parent to allow an air-conditioner in the room of his children, which he did not allow.

He alleged that he was also asked to raise the attendance of a professor from 20 per cent to 75 per cent by tampering with the attendance register which was brought to the notice of the trust and the then president.

 

Punjab opposes Haryana’s plan on distributary
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s dream project of taking water to his home turf through a distributary of the Bhakra Mainline (BML) canal will face tough opposition from the Punjab Government.

Sources said that on the directions of Mr Hooda, the Haryana Irrigation Department had prepared a project to construct a 110 km distributary of the BML to enhance the canal water supply for irrigation to Mahendragarh, Rewari, Gurgaon, Mewat, Faridabad, Jhajjar, Rohtak, Sonepat, Panipat and other districts. The distributary, to be called the BML- Hansi branch multipurpose link channel, will take off from the BML near Samana in Patiala district. The estimated cost of the project, which is to be completed by December-end, is Rs 259 crore.

The sources said that near Samana, the BML passes through Haryana territory. In that portion, the proposed distributary is to be linked to the BML to carry water to various districts of Haryana. Mr Lal Singh, Punjab Irrigation Minister, said the state government would oppose this project. He said the proposed distributary would harm the interests of farmers of Patiala, Sangrur and other districts. The state government had already conveyed its views on this issue to the Haryana Government .

The sources in the Punjab Irrigation Department said the Haryana Government had not sent a formal proposal with regard to the construction of the distributary to it, but discussions had been held in the department on the basis of reports emanating from Haryana in this regard. The sources said the officers concerned of the Punjab Irrigation Department had informed their Minister that the proposed distributary would not be in the interests of the state.

The officers had told the Punjab Government that the flow of water in the channels which originated from the BML in the Samana downstream areas to cater to the needs of farmers of Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa districts would be affected because of the construction of the distributary. It would have the capacity to carry 2,000 cusecs of water.

A senior Punjab Government officer said the proposed distributary could cause serious problems of waterlogging in certain parts of Patiala district once water started flowing into it. As it would be constructed against the natural flow of water, a certain level of water would always have to be maintained in it.

There are also political reasons for opposing the project. As the Assembly elections are to be held in 11 months in Punjab, allowing the construction of the distributary could put the Amarinder Singh government in a difficult situation.

The Haryana Government has been saying that it has proposed the construction of the distributary to ensure the equitable distribution of canal water in southern Haryana. Obviously, Haryana will take water through this distributary from its own share in the Ravi-Beas waters flowing through the BML.

However, as the distributary will draw water from the BML, clearance for its construction would have to be taken from the partner states such as Punjab and Rajasthan in the Ravi- Beas waters apart from the Central Water Commission and the Union Water Resources Ministry.

 

Badal denies role behind Sarna’s decree

Jalandhar, February 4
Terming the criticism of Akal Takht Jathedar for issuance of “Hukumnama” against former chief of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) as an 
attempt to undermine the dignity of Akal Takht, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today cleared that he was not behind the jathedar’s act.

“Those organisations that are criticising Akal Takht, for issuing ‘Hukumanama’ against Sarna were in fact trying to undermine the dignity of the takht and every Sikh should object to it,” Badal told reporters here today.

Asked about his reaction on the allegation against him that he was behind the issuance of “Hukumnama”, Badal denied the charge and said: “I never interfered in the working of Akal Takht as it has all power to act independently”. — PTI

 

Unwanted interference by Takht Jathedar
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 4
The interference of the Akal Takht Jathedar in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) affairs has been described by Sikh intellectuals as blatant violation of the Sikh traditions by the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs which is supposed to uphold the Sikh values. In the case of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, there was a grim fight between two factions and they had been frequently going to courts to get relief. Many a time, the decision of the court prevailed because of the DSGMC having been constituted by an Act of the Parliament. No doubt the DSGMC’s role is limited to managing Sikh gurdwaras in Delhi only, but it is a statutory body and a decision of the court in this regard has to be implemented. When the Akal Takht steps in such a situation it will definitely affect its status. In the present case, the court has already given its verdict and even the date for the election of office-bearers has been fixed. Now if one faction goes against the decision of the court to abide by the wishes of Akal Takht a complex situation may arise and the community may become an object of ridicule.

Sikh intellectuals and political observers strongly feel that denying time to Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, Akali Dal, Delhi, and his younger brother, Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, president, DSGMC to appear before Akal Takht is again unfair, particularly when one of them happens to be out of the country. Encouraged by this situation, one faction has got emboldened and has virtually sealed the office of the DSGMC.

An ugly situation prevails in the national capital. Does Akal Takht want to salvage the situation or act to help a faction. Intellectuals usually ward off any comment to political groups who claim to be the custodians of Sikh interests but now they have unanimously condemned the action of Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti.

This is not for the first time that the Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh has interfered in the DSGMC affairs. He had asked Sikhs to boycott the ‘palki nagar kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib. Besides, the Akal Takht had been maligned by his verdict in a case pertaining to a religious dera when he had exonerated the dera head while the court had found him guilty and sentenced him for 10 years. Similarly Sikhs settled in the USA have raised their voice against the activities of another Sikh spiritual leader and the Sikh clergy has not punished him so far.

Sikh organisations like the Dal Khalsa and the Akali Dal (Amritsar) have raised a banner of revolt against the partisan attitude of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht and have opposed all arbitrary decisions of the Jathedar. Prof Darshan Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takht, who is widely respected among Sikhs has also expressed his concern over the misuse of the temporal seat to please one faction of the Akali Dal.

 

CBI probe sought into RCF purchases
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 4
The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) employees’ unions have demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged corruption and malpractices in purchases made in the past 10 years in the factory.

RCF employees, numbering thousands, have been organising gate rallies since last evening in support of their demands which include reinstatement of Mr Ram Rattan Singh, a staff council member, who was dismissed from service on Wednesday.

The unions, including the Technical Employees Association of Railways, the RCF Mazdoor Union, the RCF Men’s Union and elected members of the staff council who had submitted their resignations from the council recently, have decided to intensify their struggle till their demands were accepted.

Leaders of the unions have decided to hold a protest march on the factory premises and launch fast in the coming days.

The employees are demanding recruitment and promotion as per strength sanctioned and abolition of the contract system.

There are 6,500 employees working in the factory, while the sanctioned strength is 8,340.

The unions are alleging that the management dismissed Mr Ram Rattan Singh and transferred Mr Brij Mohan, joint secretary of the staff council, to another department to suppress their agitation.

Mr Ram Rattan Singh claimed that he was implicated in a false case and dismissed without a proper inquiry. He threatened to immolate himself if he was not reinstated.

The union leaders have been alleging that non-stock material worth crores of rupees was lying in different wards of the stores, resulting in an increase in the manufacturing cost of coaches. They claim that a laser cutting and welding machine and CNC laser cutting (LBD) machine worth more than Rs 25 crore and imported last year were lying unused.

They allege that the Principal Director, Audit, New Delhi, in his report found purchase of materials worth over Rs 17 crore unjustified. The audit report, the leaders say, remarks that some machines were procured injudiciously without properly assessing the requirements.

On contacting, Mr Yash Pal Gupta, General Manager, RCF, denied the allegations levelled by the union leaders. He said that no machine was lying unused in the factory and that the management was examining the audit report.

He said only disgruntled elements were trying to vitiate the atmosphere in the factory for their vested interests. He said he would inform the law enforcement agencies about Ram Rattan Singh who was threatening immolation. “He was dismissed from service after a proper inquiry and he has opportunities to appeal against his dismissal orders.”

 

Major power cuts in state
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 4
Major power cuts were imposed in the state today when power supply from all sources fell short of 125 lakh units. Keeping in view the deficiency in the power supply, the PSEB enforced five-hour power cuts in small cities, three-hour in major cities and about 12-hour cuts in rural areas, PSEB sources said.

The power supply from all sources, including thermal and hydroelectri projects, was about 700 lakh units today while the power consumption had increased up to 825 lakh units per day in the state. The state has been getting about 350 lakh units from the thermal plants, 140 lakh units of power from the hydroelectric projects while 229 lakh units came from the Central Grid, sources added.

Two units of 210 MW, out of a total of six units, in the thermal plant, Ropar, have been non-functional. One of the units stopped functioning today after a technical snag had hit it while the other had been shut down for the annual maintenance.

Besides, Mukerian Hydel Project is still non-functional and the state has been getting very less power supply from the Ranjit Sagar Dam because of maintenance work going on there.

 

Witness in Khalra case writes to Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 4
Mr Kuldeep Singh, a witness in the Khalra murder case, here yesterday urged Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to direct Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra, widow of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, to take legal recourse against Mr K.P.S Gill, former DGP, Punjab, to bring him to book.

He added that he had named the former DGP of Punjab as the main accused in the murder of Mr Khalra in court and before the CBI. He said Bibi Khalra had asked him not to name Mr Gill in the case as it would adversely affect the case. He said according to her, by naming Mr Gill the case would unnecessarily drag on for decades.

He asserted that following this Bibi Khalra got enraged and withdrew his writ petition from the high court through a lawyer. He claimed that now Bibi Khalra was unnecessarily writing letters to Akal Takht to conceal her mistake.

 

Need to create awareness about RTI Act’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 3
Complaints against officers for not providing information are on the rise. On an average the State Chief Information Commission has been getting eight to 10 complaints under the Right to Information Act every day.

The complainants should not ask for information from the commission, but seek its help if they have been facing problems to get the information, said Mr Rajan Kashyap, State Chief Information Commissioner, while talking to the mediapersons. He was here to inaugurate a blood donation camp organised by the Lions Club.

Within three months of Act coming into force, the Punjab State Information Commission has received a total of 50 complaints pertaining to the denial of information to the public, he added.

Reacting to former cricketer and MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s statement that he had sent a complaint to the commission, Mr Kashyap said the commission so far did not get any complaint from him. He said they had been working to create awareness among people about the Act.

The Deputy Commissioners of all districts had been asked to make arrangements to ensure the proper implementation of the Act, he added.

 

Mediapersons hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 4
Mediapersons from various parts of the district today took out a protest march in favour of their demands relating to the self-immolation bid by Malout-based scribe Krishan Kumar Mida and his subsequent arrest by the Muktsar police.

The rally began from Regal Theatre and passed through main areas of the city before culminating at the Joginder Singh Chowk where the mediamen blocked traffic for sometime. Holding black flags, they headed to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and handed over a memorandum to the DC, Mr Mandeep Singh.

Journalists from Baghapurana Nihalsinghwala, Kot Ise Khan, Ajitwal, Dharmkot and Badhani participated in the protest.

Prominent among those present included Mr Amar Singh, Mr Phul Mittal, Mr Iqbal Singh Mr Rajesh Khanna and Mr Rakesh Sharma.

A nine-member action committee was also formed to keep an eye on such incidents. The committee will also coordinate with the panel formed to deal with Mida issue.

 

Tarlochan’s work lauded
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
Without naming Akal Takht, the Chairman of National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, today said that Sikh institutions could save huge money by resolving their disputes through “Sikh court”.

Addressing a ceremony on the eve of his retirement as chairman of the NMC, held by the Chief Khalsa Diwan here today, Mr Tarlochan Singh said the Sikh institutes had been wasting a lot of money on litigation which could be saved by adopting traditional ways. Quoting the example of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, he said its dispute was resolved with the intervention of Akal Takht .

Mr Charnjit Singh Chadha, president Chief Khalsa Diwan, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Akali minister, and other speakers appreciated the achievements of Mr Tarlochan Singh during his tenure as chairman of the NMC. 

 

Free power to hospitals sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The PCMS Association has urged the Punjab Government to provide free electricity to civil hospitals in the state.

Dr Hardeep Singh, president of the association, said a substantial part of the funds allocated to the hospitals was spent on clearing electricity bills. 

 

Patiala Heritage Festival from Feb 11
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 4
The fourth Patiala Heritage Festival will be held here at various venues from February 11 to 19 in collaboration with INTACH.

The festival will comprise a series of performances by some of India finest exponents of classical music, dance and theatre, including vocalist Shubha Mudgal, Pandit Chhannu Lal Mishra, danseuse Aditi Mangladas, Bharati Sivaji and Late Harpal Tiwana’s theatrical rendition of `Laung Da Lishkara’.

In addition, the festival will be hosting a ghazal evening by Pakistan legendary singer Farida Khanum. Also on the cards is an evening of Sufi music featuring Pakistani singer Shafqat Ali Khan, a kavi darbar and seminars on Punjab art and handicraft traditions.

A fashion show featuring one of India foremost designers of women wear — Ritu Kumar — will be organised on February 18. The grand finale will be marked by a popular music concert featuring a leading pop group from India and Pakistan.

Heritage walks will be held at Qila Mubarak as well as Qila Bahadurgarh during the festival. A heritage run and an interaction with eminent short story writers in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu have also being planned as part of the festival.

An international Tent-pegging competition will also be organised under the aegis of the Equestrian Federation of India here as part of the festival from February 14 to 18. Around eight teams, including six foreign teams, are expected to participate in the competition. Another feature, the annual dog show by the Patiala Kennel Club, will also be organised on February 19 at the Raja Bhalindra Singh Sports Complex.

The events of the festival will be held against the backdrop of Patiala heritage monuments and entry for all events will be open. A nominal ticket of Rs 10 will be charged for the crafts mela for adults while entry for children to the mela will be free.

 

Protest by truck operators
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 4
The members of Punjab Truck Operators Union today burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister, district administration and Ambuja cement management, besides blocking traffic for about two hours on the national highway near Nangal Chowk here.

They were protesting against the Ambuja cement managment for not accepting their demands to increase freight charges and stop overloading trucks.

Addressing the gathering, the president of the local truck union, Bhag Singh, said the truck operators took an extreme step today because despite the fact they had been on strike for the past 35 days, neither the Ambuja management took their demand seriously nor did the administration come for their help.

The president of the Punjab Truck Operators Union, Mr Tarlochan Singh, said if the demands of the operators were not accepted, then they would stop plying vehicles in the whole district on February 13.

 

Protest planned against Vigilance Bureau
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Employees of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Department are on the warpath. At least six employees’ unions have joined hands and announced a protest rally against the working of the Vigilance Bureau in Chandigarh on Monday.

Two days ago, in Jalandhar, the Block Development and Panchayat Officers Association had, while announcing the protest rally, alleged: “The Vigilance Bureau was established to check corruption. However, its own officials are indulging in rampant corruption and booking employees at random to extort money”.

 

Justice Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Punjab Government has started the process to appoint the Lok Pal.

Sources said the government was considering the name of Justice D.S. Dhaliwal for appointment as Lok Pal.

For the past three years, there has been no Lok Pal in the state.

 

SHO booked on court orders
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 4
Mr Jaspal Singh, SHO Sadar Police station here, and Mr Gurdarshan Singh, in charge of the police post at Bahavwala village located on the Hanumangarh road, have been booked by the Sadulshehar police under orders of a civil court, sources said yesterday.

Mr Kashmiri Lal, a resident of Alipura village in a complaint made to the court alleged that the SHO and the ASI along with six other Punjab police constables forced their entry into his house on January 17. They allegedly thrashed his wife and minor children in his absence. The police carried out the raid in connection with a robbery committed by armed persons at a petrol filling station located at Dodewala village near Punjab — Rajasthan border.

The culprits had allegedly fired at Mr Sahab Singh Bhamba, proprietor of the filling station, as he unsuccessfully resisted snatching of the cash bag.

The complainant said he had met Mr Bhamba in the evening to convey that some persons were conspiring to attack the filling station. Later he realised that he had put himself in trouble from both sides for leaking the information. Mr Bhamba had recently been discharged from the Ludhiana hospital after recovering from the injury caused by gun fire.

The court asked the SHO police station Sadulshehar, 27 km from here, to book SHO Jaspal Singh, ASI Gurdarshan Singh and others under Sections 452, 323, 504, 166, 147 and 148 of the IPC and start investigation immediately.

 

Police still gropes in dark in ‘malkhana’ theft case
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 4
Over a month after the Rajpura Sadar police station “malkhana” was broken into and Rs 12.89 lakh was taken, the police is still groping in the dark.

According to sources, the police has failed to work out the case and it was still at the “investigation stage.” However, police officials were hopeful of early cracking up of the case and claimed that the investigation was on the “right track”.

On the night of December 28 last, the “malkhana” was broken into and Rs 12.89 lakh in cash, three mobile phone sets and one pistol and 18 cartridges were taken away by the burglars. Fake currency amounting to Rs 5.29 lakh was also stolen.

In the wake of the theft, the police had to face a lot embarrassment. So much so that initially the top police brass was reluctant to admit a major theft. However, when the information leaked to the media, the police got an FIR registered in the case.

The needle of suspicion moved towards certain police officials as the “malkhana” was just adjoining the police quarters. In fact, 15 police personnel were made to undergo a polygraph test at Amritsar, of which two had reportedly failed the test.

The role of Kulwant Singh Kanta, an accused in the Prabir kidnapping case, an undertrial at the Nabha jail, was also suspected in the theft. An amount of Rs 4.53 lakh and a pistol were seized from Kanta in March last and kept in the “malkhana”.

Similarly, Mohammad Iqbal, a Pakistani national, who is currently lodged at the Patiala jail in connection with the fake currency case, was also being probed by the police, the sources informed.

 

2 cops foil bank robbery, promoted
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 4
Risking their lives and showing exemplary bravery, two constables of the district police, who were on night patrol duty, managed to prevent a robbery at the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) by two armed youths late last night.

One of the constables, Mr Balkar Singh, who was fired at by one of the suspects, identified as Jagdish, alias Aandu, suffered bullet injuries in the lower part of his abdomen and is getting treatment at the local Rajindra Hospital, while the other constable, Mr Harjinder Singh, managed to catch the other suspect, Rahul, who was armed with a pistol. The condition of Mr Balkar Singh is stated to be stable.

Both Mr Balkar Singh and Mr Harjinder Singh have been promoted as Head Constable by the state police authorities by taking prompt cognisance of the bravery shown by them at the dead of night to prevent a crime and that too when they were fired at.

Police sources said Mr Balkar Singh and Mr Harjinder saw two youths scaling the wall of the SBoP located near Multani Mal Modi College. When they challenged them, the suspects ran away in different directions.

While Mr Balkar Singh started chasing Jagdish, Mr Harjinder Singh ran after Rahul. As Mr Balkar Singh was about to catch Jagdish, the latter fired a shot at him. The bullet left Mr Balkar Singh seriously injured. The suspect managed to escape from the spot.

On the other hand, Mr Harjinder Singh managed to catch Rahul despite the latter charging at him with a pistol.

After hearing the sound of gunfire, people residing in the area reached the spot. Later, senior police officials, including the DIG, Mr V.K. Bhawra, the SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, the SP (City), Mr Mandeep Singh Sidhu, the SP (D), Mr Inder Mohan Singh, and the SP Mr Jagdish Singh Kalhon, reached the spot.

Mr S.M. Sharma, IG, Patiala Zone, while talking to mediapersons, said that a .12-bore revolver along with cartridges was recovered from the possession of Rahul. He added that Rahul was facing 14 cases, including murder and looting, while Jagdish was facing six criminal cases. A case has been registered.

 

2 scooterists killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 4
Two scooterists were killed when their vehicle met with an accident near Mardapur village on the Shambu-Ghanaur road last night.

Rakesh Mahtab and Gurnam Singh died on the spot, when their scooter collided head-on with a Tate Sumo coming from a wrong side.

The driver of the Tata Sumo is absconding. A case has been registered.

 

Bus stolen, recovered
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 4
Some miscreants stole a bus of the Punjab Roadways, Hoshiarpur depot, from the Tanda bus stand last night.

Later, it was found at Pathankot crossing, Jalandhar. 

 

Contests mark IT fete
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 4
With the completion of the Information Technology Park (ITP) at Mohali, employment avenues would open up in the state. This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Information Technology and Cooperation, while addressing a gathering here at the “Fete dedicated to Information Technology Awareness” organised at the R.K. Arya College today.

Inter-college competitions were also organised on the occasion. 

 

Punjab Science Congress from Feb 7
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 4
The 9th Punjab Science Congress (PSC) will be organised by the Punjab Academy of Sciences from February 7 to February 9 at Guru Nanak Dev Dental College and Research Institute at Sunam, about 13 km from here.

Giving this information today, Dr Vinod Kapoor, organising secretary of the PSC, said Dr Ramamurthi Rallapalli, General President of the Indian Science Congress Association, would inaugurate the PSC while Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, would preside over the inaugural function.

 

Need to focus on supply chain management
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Thanks to the buoyancy in the market, Punjab hopes to dominate not only the national market but also the international market. Thus there is quest for smarter supply chain management as this has emerged as the key driver for change to achieve excellence in business operations.

Mr S.C. Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab Government, stated this while delivering the inaugural address at the Conference on Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Logistics for Sustaining Competitiveness organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Punjab State Council, here today.

“The impact of technology is visible in every sector, be it manufacturing, customer relations, operational effectiveness or quality control. However, delivery is still a direct challenge to tap vast trade potential of India,” he added. Reiterating the government’s commitment to focus on supply chain management, Mr Agrawal informed about government’s initiatives for establishing Special Economic Zones, specifically to take care of logistics.

Mr Anil Syal, vice-president marketing, Safexpress Ltd, while delivering the keynote address, highlighted consideration for logistics support and remarked that both macro and micro aspects of the SCM should be considered as food for thought. Lieut-Gen (Dr) D.D.S. Sandhu, Commandant, College of Materials Management, Jabalpur, presented his inputs on the SCM and Logistics in Defence, while Mr Tej K. Magazine, Director, TRAAM Services Pvt Ltd, gave his theme presentation.

Earlier, Mr M.C. Munjal, Chairman, CII, Punjab State Council, welcomed the delegates. He set the tone of the conference when he stated, “Effective supply chain management is one of the most important strategic aspects of any business enterprise, household or government body”.

Over 75 participants, mainly CEOs, business heads, managers involved in supply chain and senior functional managers from the industry, representatives from institutions and media attended the conference.

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