P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



MSP hike for wheat: govt consulting PAU experts
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 9
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government was consulting experts of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, before demanding appropriate hike in support price of wheat. He was talking to reporters after addressing a rally in Jalalabad, 30 km from here. The Chief Minister was evasive on import of wheat. On the issue of import he tried to clarify that the government was importing only 5 lakh tonnes of wheat to maintain buffer stocks of wheat in the country. The Akalis were trying to rake up the issue of import, as they did not have any worthwhile issue against his government, observed the CM. He made it clear that the wheat produced by Punjab farmers would be procured promptly.

On vigilance raids on striking ‘Panchayati’ Raj employees the Chief Minister said that corruption would not be tolerated and the raids would continue and the guilty would be punished. He said threats of suicides would not be tolerated and such persons would be dealt with according to the law by booking them.

The Chief Minister was on a visit to Jalalabad to lay the foundation stones of projects of regular drinking water supply and sewerage mains in Jalalabad town at a cost of Rs 7 crore.

The programme was organised by Mr Hans Raj Josan, Forest Minister, Punjab. The Chief Minister addressed a rally in the grain market. He also laid the foundation stone of the Jalalabad-Muktsar Circular road project at cost of Rs 13.5 crore. The CM said over prevailing power crisis in the state Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, has promised to provide 1500 MW of power daily to Punjab very soon.

Highlighting development schemes and projects launched by his government in the past four years he said that out of 66 promises made in the Congress election manifesto for Punjab, 63 had been fulfilled and remaining three shall be fulfilled by 31 March this year. With this the Akalis shall be left without any issue against the government hence they had become desperate and were trying to raise vague issues.

To improve agriculture production and enhance its utilisation the Reliance would set up 50 centres in all 17 districts of Punjab. For this project and launching other industrial projects the Reliance would spend Rs 6000 crore. People living below the poverty line have been given 29000 residential plots of five marla each in Punjab and 80000 more such plots shall be given to them during this year. He said 99 more fly-overs are being constructed to remove traffic bottlenecks in different towns.

On the water sharing issue the Chief Minister said that Punjab was ready to give due share of canal water to Haryana but shall not allow construction of SYL canal under any circumstances.

Mr Hans Raj Josan, Forest Minister, demanded compensation of Rs 2500 per acre restored to border farmers whose land was located across the barbed wire fencing. The compensation has not been paid for past four years. It was allowed to these farmers as they were stopped from cultivating crops along the Zero line due to security reasons. He also pleaded for property rights to border farmers cultivating the land for over three decades.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, accompanied the Chief Minister. Two other MLAs Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa of Fazilka and Ravinder Singh Sandhu of Ferozepore cantonment also spoke. Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, MLA, Balluana, Mr Ashok Aneja, president, Municipal Council, also addressed the rally. Mr Sunil Kumar Jakhar, MLA, Abohar, was not present.


Show of strength at Akal Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 9
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has reportedly directed its task force to be on ‘high alert’ to meet any eventuality even as representatives of various Panthic organisations have decided to assemble outside Akal Takht Secretariat against the alleged “interim directive” against Sarna brothers by Jathedar Akal Takht, here tomorrow.

Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, and his predecessor and elder brother Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna have already reached here alongwith at least 28 members of the gurdwara committee. Mr Sarna, however, appealed to the Sikh sangat not to make it a ‘show of strength’ as he alongwith other DSGMC members would appear before the Sikh clergy as ‘humble Sikhs’. However, various Sikh organisations have asked Sarnas not to appear in ‘closed door meeting of Sikh high priests’ that amounts to ‘corruption’.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), in a press release, here said as per the decision of representatives of the Sikh conclave held at Fatehgarh Sahib on February 6, an 11-member team of observers comprising the Sant Samaj, the Damdami Taksal, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, the Dal Khalsa, the SAD (A), the SAD (Longowal) and the SAD (1920) would participate in the meeting of the Sikh clergy, proposed to be held at Akal Takht Secretariat tomorrow. The team of Panthic observers would compel Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and other Sikh high priests to hear the case of ‘Sarna brothers’ in the open as per Sikh traditions.

The Sarna brothers have also got support from abroad. Dr Pritpal Singh, president, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and UK-based Dal Khalsa leader, Mr Manmohan Singh criticised Jathedar Vedanti for calling ‘social boycott’ of Sarna brothers through ‘unprecedented interim directive’. The AGPC chief alleged that the Jathedar was playing into the hands of ‘political masters’. He called upon the Sikh leadership to come on a single platform to save the honour and dignity of Akal Takht.

Meanwhile, some saner elements are active to resolve the present situation when the ‘interim directive’ issued by Jathedar Vedanti had divided the Sikh Panth into two segments. Earlier, former Jathedar Akal Takht, Prof Darshan Singh and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD (Badal) had written hard-hitting missives to Jathedar Vedanti, blaming him for playing a ‘partisan role’.

Jathedar Vedanti has been avoiding to meet the Press after the issuance of the ‘interim directive’.


Punjab objects to UT cadre officer as SSP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Punjab has objected to the resolve of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to appoint a UT cadre IPS officer as the SSP of Chandigarh by wresting the post from the Punjab IPS cadre. Punjab’s stand is that if this is done the Home Ministry has no right to appoint a Haryana cadre IAS officer as the Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has decided to take up the matter personally with the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil. For the past 20 years, the SSP of Chandigarh has been a Punjab cadre IPS officer.

At present Mr Gaurav Yadav, an IPS officer of the Punjab cadre, is posted as the SSP of Chandigarh. However, as Mr Yadav is to return to his parent cadre on March 31, the Union Home Ministry has decided to fill the slot to be vacated by Mr Yadav by posting a UT cadre police officer.

A senior Punjab Government officer said Capt Amarinder Singh was seized of the matter. “The Chief Minister will not only write to Mr Patil against his Ministry’s decision to post a UT cadre officer as the SSP of Chandigarh but also take up the issue with him,” said the officer.

A few days ago, the Principal Secretary of the Home Department, Punjab, Mr A.K. Dubey, had written to the Union Home Ministry opposing the wresting of the SSP’s post from the IPS cadre of Punjab. However, as the Union Home Ministry has not changed its decision, the Chief Minister has decided to speak to Mr Patil.

Aware of the political background with regard to Chandigarh, the Union Home Ministry should not have taken such a decision without talking to the Punjab Government, said the officer.

“Politically, Chandigarh is a most sensitive city for Punjab. Curtailment of Punjab’s right as well as role in any form in this city can lead to serious political consequences for the present government in the state”, said a senior politician of Punjab.

There is a feeling in Punjab’s political circles that the state’s clout in the Administration of Chandigarh has been severely diluted by the Union Government. All important posts are manned by either UT cadre officers or Haryana cadre officers. “The balance, which was to be maintained in the posting of Punjab and Haryana cadre officers in Chandigarh, has been done away with over the past several years”, said the politician.

At the time of declaring Chandigarh a Union Territory four decades ago, the Union Government had promised to post officers and employees of the Punjab and Haryana cadres in the ratio of 60:40. However, over the years, the Union Government has created a full-fledged cadre of UT officers and employees in Chandigarh reducing the numerical strength of Punjab and Haryana employees in the UT Administration.


Rs 100 crore marked for Farid university
Romesh Gupta
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 9
The Punjab Government will spend Rs 100 crore to bring Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) Faridkot on sound footing. The amount will be cleared in next Budget likely to be presented in the Assembly on March 3 and funds released before end of April. This was stated by Finance Minister Surinder Singla at the meeting of Board of Directors of the university at Chandigarh on January 31. Dr Kiranjit Kaur Director Research and Medical Education (DRME) Punjab a member of the board told reporters here today. She had arrived to preside over the 5th founders day function of the University College of Nursing admitted 30 per cent shortage of staff at the three medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot said that the work to regularise of 26 posts of ad hoc teacher, promotion of 10 senior lecturers to assistant professors and the upgradation of 12 PCMS doctors to the next cadre had been completed and files sent to the government for finalising the matter without delay. The recruitment of eight Registrars including four demonstrators at the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital was also at the final stage said the DRME.

She said a decision has been taken to release Rs 7 crore to improve the working conditions of the institution. She also impressed upon the government to release another Rs 7 crore from the NRI quota funds related to the institution at the earliest.

The DRME added the process of release of GPF of 68 experts of the state medical colleges who were on the verge of superannuation or had crossed the line had been completed and concerned persons would get it soon. To a question on rates and fees being charged by the private medical and dental colleges from the students for the admission and later she said that matter was under consideration and it would be sorted out. She favoured reasonable fee structure for the betterment of medical education which was the need of the hour.

Earlier at a function of the nursing college she said a decision had been initiated by the government start the Postbasic Career classes from the next session. Mrs Raj Rani, Principal of the college sought cooperation of the DRME in providing staff and other infrastructure in the college. Students of the college presented cultural programme.


Prince Charles may visit Patiala
Chander Parkash & Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 9
The royal city of Patiala could be gearing up for another royal visit. A team of officials of the British High Commission, UK Government and the members of foundation run by the Prince of Wales were in the city yesterday for advance liasioning of Prince Charles' visit on March 27. But the preparations and plans of the visit were kept under wraps as city officials refused to commit or acknowledge the fact of the Prince’s visit.

The city and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will play host to the heir to the British throne. The meeting would be between descendants of the House of Windsor and the Phulkian dynasty, with the twist that Capt Amarinder Singh is now an elected representative of the people. A section of descendents of the Phulkian dynasty remained loyal to the British when it was ruling India.

In the city, Prince Charles is expected to visit historical buildings, including Qila Mubaraq constructed in 1763, Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (housed in the Old Moti Bagh Palace constructed in 1847) and Yadavindra Public School (YPS) housed in one of the heritage buildings. The team visited all these buildings yesterday. Not only this, the team members accompanied by local civil and police officials also inspected the local airport, where Prince Charles would be landing by a special plane.

The descendant of the House of Windsor would first come to Delhi and then would be flown to Chandigarh. From Chandigarh, he would be taken to Fatehgarh Sahib and then to this erstwhile princely city.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Capt Amarinder Singh, who hosted a dinner for members of the high-level British team, might play host to Prince Charles for a night at the New Moti Bagh Palace. Prince Charles might also inaugurate an exhibition on organic farming to be organised jointly by the foundation run by him and the Punjab government.

Information revealed that the state Congress government had been keeping details of the visit of Prince Charles a top secret as it was planning to use the event to enhance its popularity among the people to cash in on the same during the next Assembly elections due after 11 months.

Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said at the moment he was not able to make any comment on the fact that any VIP from UK would be visiting this city in March or not. He added that a team of officials of the British government and High Commission came to Patiala and its neighbouring Fatehgarh Sahib district in connection with the promotion of organic farming.

He said the visit of this team was coordinated by the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC). He added that the team, which had visited about three villages in Fatehgarh Sahib apart from its food park and some places in this district might come out with some proposals for working out tie-ups in the field of organic farming in Punjab.

He said the team had also visited an institute at Mohali, which was connected with the field of organic farming.


SHO suspended for death of Goraya youth
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
The Station House Officer (SHO) of Goraya has been suspended in connection with the death of the youth of Goraya who allegedly consumed Celphos tablets at the police station and later died at the CMC hospital.

Balbir Ram, a gunman with a bank, had been called for questioning at the police station yesterday, but tension gripped the area as dozens of people protested against the death of the youth and alleged that he had died in police custody.

The SSP, Jalandhar, Mr Ishwar Singh, announced the suspension of SHO, Goraya, Mandeep Singh and assured the agitating youth that an inquiry would be conducted by the ADC, Jalandhar, into the matter.

A panel of doctors from the Phillaur Civil Hospital conducted a post-mortem examination of the body today.

According to the family of Balbir, he had been kept in police station for few days and was released after assurance from the panchayat and some prominent members of the village that the youth would cooperate with the police and come to the police station as and when called for questioning.

The agitators blocked traffic on the GT Road for over an hour last night. They lifted the blockaded at around 12 am midnight only after the assurance from SSP, Jalandhar, Ishwar Singh that the SHO Goraya would be suspended and the matter would be probed into by an inquiry committee. The ADC, Jalandhar, Mr Mahinder Singh Kainth, assured them that a compensation of Rs 5 lakh would be given to the family of the deceased and kin of the youth would be provided a government job.

Balbir Ram had been called to the police station in connection with the case of death of Ram Asre, caretaker of the house of NRI Jagtar Singh in Goraya as he was the one who had last talked to the caretaker before the latter was found murdered under mysterious circumstances.

The youth, as per the version of the police, had already consumed nine Celphos tablets before he entered the police station as there was only one tablet remaining out of the pack of 10 Celphos tablets found from his pocket.

The cremation of the youth would take place tomorrow. The family of the deceased was given a cheque for Rs 50,000 by officials for performing his last rites. 


Pak judges see ‘saif’, get emotional
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 9
Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramde and Justice Rana Bhagwandas both judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan today got emotional when they saw the 1400-year-old ‘Saif’ (a weapon), preserved at Takht Keshgarh Sahib, belonging to Hazrat Ali, son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad Sahib. The ‘Saif’ was presented to Guru Gobind Singh by Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar at Agra.

According to the Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar Keshgarh Sahib, names of Prophet Mohammad, Bibi Fatima, Hassan and Hussain are inscribed on the ‘Saif’. Originally, the ‘Saif’ was presented to Emperor Aurangzeb during his Hajj pilgrimage later it went into the hands of Bahadur Shah Zaffar.

Talking to The Tribune, Justice Ramde said that they would get the photo prints of the ‘Saif and distribute it these among people. He said it was the ‘most valuable gift’ which they were carrying to Pakistan.

“Hazrat Ali was never defeated in a war or a combat in his life. He was very strong.

The head granthi of Takht Keshgarh presented ‘Siropas’ (Robes of Honour) to both Justices of Pakistan’s highest court.

Justice Ramde said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan was celebrating its golden jubilee from March and the concluding function would be held on the eve of Independence i.e. August 14 where the Chief Justice of India and of other judges of the court would participate.

Justice Ramde said that the working of the Supreme Court of Pakistan was being streamlined to mark the golden jubilee celebrations. Its entire record would be computerised to ensure speedy justice to common man. He said there were more than 15,000 cases pending with the apex court which would be disposed of quickly.

On the incidence of ‘honour killings’, Justice Ramde said that after the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2004 in the National Assembly and adopted on October 26, 2004 number of such killings had come down drastically.. Hundreds of women used to be killed every year for alleged misdemeanours such as adultery, marrying without the family’s consent, pre-marital sex or having been raped. According to an estimate 913 women were been killed in ‘honour- related crimes’ in the country in 2003 with 638 cases of honour crime committed in Sindh, 463 in Punjab, 120 in the North West Frontier Province and 40 in Baluchistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded honour killings of 329 women in 1998, 303 women in 1999, 315 women in 2000, 227 women in 2002 and 290 women in 2002 based on press reports.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that the “issue of honour-killing and other honour crimes committed in the name of ‘karo-kari, siyah-kari and similar other customs had always been a matter of concern for human rights organisations and the public. It assumed more significance in recent years”.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2004 which proposes amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860 enhances punishment for the offence of murder carried out in the name of honour. However, the word ‘honour killing’ has been replaced with ‘honour crime’ to make it mild and acceptable to various sections of society.

Under amended Section 299, Act XLY of 1860 PPC, ‘honour crime’ will mean an offence committed in the name of ‘Ghairat’ or honour or for “vindication of Ghairat or honour and includes honour killing and the offence committed on the pretext of karo-kari, siyah-kari or similar other customs.


Way cleared for Pak boy’s repatriation
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 9
He strayed into Indian territory three-and-a-half years back, but could not be restored to his family as he was too small to recall his address properly. The district administration’s efforts have now borne fruit and Asif, a Pakistani boy lodged in the local juvenile Jail, is all set to be repatriated on February 12. He will be the second Pakistani boy to be repatriated in less than two months.

Earlier, Altaf, another juvenile jail inmate from Pakistan, was repatriated to his country on December 25 last year. When The Tribune met him in 2004 he merely remembered the names of his mother, father and siblings, and that his parents worked at a brick-kiln. According to sources, Asif crossed over to Indian side of the border on July 27, 2002 before being caught by the BSF under the Passport Act. Following this he was sent to the local juvenile jail. The court had also acquitted him on September 24, 2003.

He was eight years of age at that time and was unable to recollect his address. He was one among the seven Pakistani boys nabbed during 2002-03. While other six were repatriated to their country, he could not be sent due to hindrance in his identification process. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, then took up the matter with the BSF, Ferozepore, who sought the help of Pakistani Rangers for his identification. Subsequently, Asif met his father Majid on August 25 last year, after which the DC completed the formalities with the Union Home Ministry.

The DC said that as per communication received from the ministry, Asif would be sent to Wagah border on February 12 and he would be handed over to Pakistan Rangers on February 13.


Badal hints at stormy Assembly session
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
Describing the rising trend of suicides in Punjab as an outcome of extreme frustration among people of Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today alleged that the Punjab Government was adopting double standards on this serious issue.

Mr Badal also decried the Central Government’s move to import wheat and dubbed it as an “unnecessary exercise”.

In the same breath, Mr Badal also indicated that the SAD leadership was going to take some action against senior SAD leader Manjit Singh Calcutta for latter's recent utterances against the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Badal, who was accompanied by the SAD general secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, said the suicides were a comment on the failure of the Congress-led state government.


Prerna yatra flagged off
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 9
Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, today urged activists of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) to take the achievements and landmark decisions of the state government to the masses so that people could be made aware of the steps taken by the government for their welfare.

Addressing the Youth Congress rally before flagging off the Prerna yatra, Ms Preneet Kaur said the Youth Congress was the backbone of the party.


Arms seizure exposes chinks in Ranjit Dam security
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 9
Huge cache of arms and ammunition seized in the recent past from the bank of Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD) reservoir has exposed chinks in the security arrangements for the highest dam in Punjab.

A senior official today conceded that security arrangements at the dam were inadequate as PESCO, the agency manning the dam property, was not well-equipped to meet the terrorist threat.

However, the security agencies from Punjab as well as Jammu and Kashmir were coordinating and the Army was carrying out combing operations to flush out terrorists from the area, he said.

It may be recalled that two rocket launchers, one anti-tank missile, eight grenades, two improvised explosive devices and some rounds of assorted ammunition were recovered near the dam on February 5.

Kathua SSP Johny William said while the militant threat to the dam was detected on time following the seizure of arms, the police were continuing their search operations in the area. According to sources, security agencies, about two years ago, had intercepted some messages of the militants to blow up the dam site. After intercepting the messages, SSP, Gurdaspur, had instructed the police stations concerned to beef up security arrangements for the reservoir areas.

The Chief Engineer, Mr Jagdish Singh, said while PESCO had been deputed for the internal security of the dam and its 250-odd personnel were mainly responsible to check any theft of the dam property, it was the police and other security agencies which were responsible for the security of the dam .

Acknowledging a constant threat to the dam from militants, a senior retired officer of the Irrigation Department, said on the condition of anonymity: “While the seizure of a rocket launcher, along with other arms and weapons, shows that the community hall, where meetings of the top RSD officials and VVIPs take place, was under threat, it also shows that during such an attack, the damage to the dam would not be very much.”

PESCO chief, Col ( retd ) Avtar Singh , however, said there was no threat to the dam from militants since the security was fool-proof.

The Pathankot SP, Mr Manminder Singh, said the security in the area around the dam had been tightened and the Punjab Police was coordinating with their Jammu and Kashmir counterparts.


Uprooted slum dwellers seek plots
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 9
More than 100 slum dwellers, who have been uprooted from their places on the Pathankot- Dalhousie bypass in an anti-encroachment drive of the improvement trust, today organised a rally under the leadership of former BJP MLA Ram Lal.

Addressing the rally, Mr Ram Lal alleged that the slum dwellers (rag pickers) had been uprooted to help some influential property dealers. The government should have provided them with tow-marla pieces of land under an Union Government scheme before rendering them homeless, he said.

Mr Mohan Lal, former BJP minister, alleged that the trust the slum dwellers had been shifted from a small piece of land on which they had been living since a long time. On the other hand the authorities concerned had shut their eyes to illegal developers who had sold and developed the land that had been earmarked by the trust for planned colonies.

The trust and the municipal council had simultaneously launched anti-encroachment drives yesterday.

Meanwhile, a demolition drive of the municipal council authorities at Anandpur Rara village was thwarted by Dalit women who threw themselves and their children in front of the bulldozer. A number of Dalits of the village have been residing on the land, where a gaushala has been proposed to be set up, since decades.

The Dalits have said the government should provide them with alternative place before uprooting them.

The council authorities, however, said they did not have any authority to give land to the Dalits. Only the government could allot land to them.


‘Relatives’ demand Lovely’s body for cremation
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 9
The body of Manjinder Singh Lovely, who was killed in a mishap in Balongi village yesterday, was cremated today, even as some women claiming to be relatives of the deceased wanted the body to be handed over to them.

It is learnt that some women reached Balongi village and reportedly approached the family of Mr Tarlochan Singh, president of the gurdwara in the village, to hand over the body to them for cremation.

They tried to put a lock on the house owned by the deceased on the ground that the property belonged to Manjinder Singh, who was related to them.

The residents of the village questioned the women on their claims. The police also reached the village.

The deceased was looked after for the past about 15 years by Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had got a house constructed for Manjinder Singh.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, who was shattered after the death of Manjinder Singh, was admitted to Cheema Medical Complex in Mohali.

Manjinder Singh was killed when a dome of the gurdwara fell while carrying out demolition work.

The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.


Workshop on disaster management held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
A workshop on disaster management yesterday evoked good response from various quarters. While Commissioner Faridkot Division, Roshan Sankaria, presided over the workshop, SSPs and Deputy Commissioners of Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot participated in it.

Addressing a gathering, the Commissioner said the workshop was aimed at spreading awareness how life and property could be saved during natural calamities. He said if the administration took necessary measures before and after a calamity like earthquake the extent of damage to could be reduced drastically. He said new building norms were brought into force and if quake-proof buildings were constructed as per the norms the loss to life and property could be decreased. He said though construction of such buildings cost 5-7 per cent more, it should be taken up as a safety measure. He directed the Deputy Commissioners to drew up strategy in their districts in this regard and activate various departments so that they could chip in time at the time of any calamity. Bathinda DC Rahul Bhandari said the workshop was organised to sensitise various departments on their roles in case of any such eventuality.

He said better coordination among the departments could help tackle natural calamities in a proper way. DIG, PS Sarao, Faridkot DC Alok Shekhar, Mansa DC Raj Kamal Chaudhuri, Bathinda SSP Kapil Dev and Mansa SSP Amit Parsad were present on the occasion.


Village of NCC cadets
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 9
Seeto Gunno, a village with the highest number of people belonging to the Bishnoi community in the region, is now producing outstanding NCC cadets.

The village located near the Punjab-Rajasthan border had been witness to scores of gunbattles between members of the community in the past and led in consumption of opium till the last decade. The state government had last year upgraded the village as headquarters of the sub-tehsil but the infrastructure was yet to be completed there.

Lieutenant-Colonel Atul Ahuja, who, too, had his family roots in village Khubban neighbouring Seeto Gunno, proudly honoured NCC cadets Karni Singh and Hava Singh for participating in the Republic Day parade at New Delhi and the para jumping course at Agra, respectively. Both the cadets belong to Seeto Gunno and are immediate neighbours also.

Five cadets attended the national integration camp at Aizawl in Mizoram, five participated in the basic leadership camp at Sholapur and 20 took part in the Army attachment camp at Kapurthala during the current academic session.


Doctor’s promotion: irregularity alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 9
Medical College teachers here expressed reservation over the elevation of a doctor to a senior post, though, they claimed, he did not possess the requisite experience.

In a complaint to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh they said that Dr Karan Sharma was promoted to the post of Professor ENT by the PPSC in January.

As per norms one could be eligible for the post of Professor only after completing five years as Associate or Assistant Professor in the speciality of ENT. They said Dr Sharma, an ENT doctor, must have completed five years as Associate Professor. However, he was made Professor despite the fact that he had rendered two and a half years service as assistant professor at the last date of application and four years at the time of interview, they added. Principal, Medical College here, Dr J.S. Dalal, under whose tenure as Director Research and Medical Education (DRME), Dr Sharma was promoted, said that proper procedure was followed.


Efforts on to set up visa centre at Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
The state government is making all efforts to set up a visa centre at Amritsar to facilitate pilgrims easy access to historic gurdwaras on the other side of the border.

This was stated by PWD Minister Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, while interacting with mediapersons after laying the stone of two link roads in Rampura Phul.

The minister said the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, would soon take up the matter of four-laning of Chandigarh-Bathinda highway with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. He said the project would be carried out in a phased manner. The first phase would witness four-laning of Zirakpur-Patiala, followed by Patiala-Sangrur and Sangrur-Bathinda.

Mr Bajwa also laid the stone of a roadwork at the Chief Minister’s ancestral village Mehraj. He said the government had released Rs 27 crore for development works in Mehraj till now. He gave another Rs 5 lakh for the village.


Protest against kerosene shortage
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 9
Women from villages around Pathankot today organised a protest against the shortage of kerosene at the public distribution system (PDS) depots.

The women alleged that Most of the material and kerosene coming through the depots was being sold in the black. While the cost of kerosene under PDS was about Rs 12 per litre the depot holders were selling it for Rs 20 per litre. The district Food and Civil Supplies Controller, Gurdaspur, when contacted declined that there was shortage of kerosene.


Good news for thalassaemics

Hoshiarpur, February 9
Thalassaemia and haemophilia patients will get blood free of cost from the blood banks of government hospitals in Punjab.

Dr Manjit Kaur, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, stated here today that Punjab State AIDS Control Society in its instructions and guidelines had mentioned that regular blood was required for thalassaemia and haemophilia patients, which was being supplied to them from the blood banks of government hospitals and as such no money should be taken from them as service charge. — TNS


Protest against Punjabi movie

Amritsar, February 8
The Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj (APKF) has condemned Punjabi movie ‘Family 421’ for depicting a Sikh character smoking.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Jaswinder Singh advocate, chief of the APKF, here yesterday said the movie brazenly hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs as tobacco was completely prohibited in the Sikh Rehat Maryada.

He said they would present a memorandum to the SSP to register a case against the private company and co-producer Gurtej Chitrakar, who also happens to be the story and dialogue writer.


Grant for Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib council
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 9
Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, while addressing a gathering at Sirhind, handed over a cheques for Rs 86 lakh to the Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council president, Mr Charanjiv Channa. The amount was sanctioned for various development projects in the town. He said another cheques for Rs 25 lakh from the Chief Minister quota would be handed over tomorrow.


Niece, 2 others held for farm owner’s murder
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 9
The niece of a farm owner, who was killed on February 1, was today sent to judicial remand till February 23, Two others, including a journalist and an advocate, were sent to police remand till February 11.

The deceased was unmarried and his sister Manmohan Kaur Lamba had lodged a report in this regard following which a case was registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC. She said earlier her brother had employed Kaka Singh from Ganganagar for looking after the farm, but he was removed after Mr Mandeep Singh, who reportedly worked for a news channel, took 20 acres of Lamba’s land on lease.

The police probe revealed that the victim’s niece, Chinar Shalu, had introduced Mandeep to her uncle. Police sources said Mandeep was willing to take more land on lease, but the deceased was against it.

On the contrary, he wanted him to vacate the land he had leased him. The sources said to settle the score Mandeep and Chinar Shalu started looking for some contract killers. During this period they came in contact with Shalinder Kumar, a Rohtak-based advocate and Sandeep Kumar, a resident of Najafgarh, New Delhi. They took Rs 3 lakh as ‘supari’ for eliminating Mohanbir.

Police sources said the contract killers arrived in Muktsar with Rs 1 lakh to perpetuate the crime.

They stayed in a hotel and at first decided to kill him in the evening, but somehow they got late. They murdered him the next morning. The police nabbed the accused when they were distributing the money they had received as ‘supari’.


Home Guards employee killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 9
An employee working with the Home Guards in Chandigarh was killed in an accident near Landran village last night.

According to information, Balbir Singh, a resident of Saidpur village, was hit by an unidentified vehicle when he was returning home from Chandigarh on a bicycle. He was seriously injured and later died as he did not get immediate medical attention.

The body of the deceased was spotted by his son around midnight when he was coming back from duty from Mohali, where he is employed in an industrial unit. The body of Balbir Singh was sent to the Kharar Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC in this regard.


Man sets wife afire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
A man hailing from Phulewala village set ablaze his wife last night after pouring kerosene on her.

Sources said the accused, Bikar Singh, returned home from his farm at night and asked his wife, Lakshmi, to serve him food. As the chapattis were stale, he asked her to make fresh ones, which resulted in an altercation. Though his nephew pacified them, the accused set her afire at 10 pm. She was admitted to Rampura Phul Civil Hospital, where she died. However, she recorded her dying statement.


Punjab Science Congress concludes
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 9
The ninth Punjab Science Congress, organised by the Punjab Academy of Sciences, concluded at Guru Nanak Dev Dental College and Research Institute at Sunam today. Dr Vikram Sharma, director and trustee of the Dental College, Sunam presided over the valedictory function.

Over 200 delegates from different parts of the state participated in the Congress. More than 150 research papers, pertaining to different systems of science, were presented. A poster presentation contest was also held.

Tamanana Kanchan Banga, D.H. Singh, H.S. Khurana, B. Pandey and Ruchika Garg were honoured with Young Scientists Awards.

Dr D.S. Brar, a senior scientist from the Philippines, Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Anil Kohli, president, Dental Council of India, Dr H.S. Sohi, internationally renowned mycologist, Solan and Dr S.S. Gosal, senior biotechnologist, PAU, Ludhiana, were awarded with fellowships on behalf of the Punjab Academy of Sciences. Dr C.S. Pant, former president of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, was honoured with Bhagwan Dass Arora Memorial Oration Award.


National conference on electronics begins

Patiala, February 9
A two-day national conference on Electronic Circuits and Communication Systems was inaugurated by Dr R.S. Khandpur, Director, General, Pushpa Gujral Science City, Jalandhar, here today. More than 100 delegates from various industries, research and academic institutions took part in the conference.

In his inaugural address, Dr Khandpur talked about current trends in research. He also emphasised upon carrying out research in the field of electronics design, manufacturing and Information Technology.

Dr Y.N. Singh, Professor, IIT, Kanpur, delivered the keynote address. Dr R.S. Kaler, Convener, stated that the two-day conference would consist of 12 technical sessions. TNS


Mall developers gear up to offer entertainment
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
With three Ms of urban culture — malls, multiplexes and multi-cuisine food courts entering the boom towns and backyards of Punjab in a big way, the "late entrants" in the Rs 600 billion mall business in Punjab is now making a shift to mixed- use malls.

Malls are no longer going to be retail spaces or food and beverage zones alone. The developers entering Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Chandigarh and Jalandhar are now offering a slew of entertainment options in their malls — golf course, swimming pools, discotheques, sports club, joy rides and five-star hotels. Realtors say that its time now for the gold souks, wedding malls and other speciality malls to make way for the mixed use malls now.

Mr Sujit Kumar, President and CEO of Aeren R, which has launched the first theme destination mall in Ludhiana— Festival City, says that retail is just a part of a mall.

"After all, a person wanting to shop can go to any shopping plaza. What is needed to attract and sustain customer interest is a combination of retail, entertainment and leisure," he says.

Festival City, spread over 11. 33 acres on Ferozepore Road, will have a theme of various Indian festivals, besides 2 billion square feet of retail, entertainment and leisure area.

This will offer the latest concept of shopping centre development-malls within a mall. A Kidz mall, a fashion and lifestyle mall, interiors mall, besides an entertainment and leisure mall (having a discotheque, club, bowling alley, swimming pool, multi cuisine restaurants and food courts , banquet, gyro drop and indoor joyrides).

City Centre, also coming up in Ludhiana on Pakhowal Road, will have an eight screen multiplex, super market, a city museum, an IT centre, a mini golf course, five-star hotel and a mini golf course.

In fact, most of the new malls coming up in the state will have hotels along with the malls. Realtors say that hotels in malls is the best opportunity to be present at premium locations, at relatively lower cost and have assured footfalls even on lean days.

Country Inn and Suites by Carlson, too, proposes to have mixed use malls (hotels in shopping malls) at Patiala, Mohali and Bangalore. The Vice-President, Country Inn and Suites, Mr Sanjeev Pahwa, says that they are working out details for setting up a mixed use mall in an IT campus at Mohali.

"The Patiala hotel will be set up in a shopping mall as has been done in Jaipur. Mixed use malls help in cutting land, infrastructure and service (security and other staff), so they are the next big thing in retail," he added.

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