P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Manitoba premier woos Indian businessmen
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 12
The premier of Manitoba (Canada), Mr Gary Doer, along with 17 of the 45-member business delegation paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here today. The delegation comprised representative of Canadian companies and various institutions to promote and strengthen the existing trade links with India.

Jathedar Avtar Singh, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), took up the issue of observing the 400th martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in Canada with the Premier . The SGPC was planning to organise seminars in different countries in this connection. The Premier said the Canadian Sikhs had already charted out programmes to mark the occasion.

Later, Mr Doer while talking to the media said Manitoba had much to offer to Indian businessmen looking for opportunities. Besides it was a gateway to the North American market and had good transportation and communication links. He said their visit was a part of their international strategy for tapping emerging markets like India. He said Manitoba had Canada’s fastest growing biotech sector and was likely to sign an agreement with Indian company Alken Laboratories Ltd.

The Premier said they would also focus on aviation as Red River College in Manitoba operates one of Canada’s top aviation training facilities. He said they would try to explore partnerships in India for pilot training and addressing other aviation staffing shortages.

He said they would explore partnerships in the field of transmission and conservation. The Canadian delegation included Mr Bidhu Jha and Denis Rocan, Members of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, Dr Devinder Reshia of Panjab Foundation, Mr Amarjit Singh Waraich of Manotoba Sikh Centre, Mr Kostiona, Mr Vic Shroierder, Mrs Danis Gary, Mr Paktakan, Dr Raj Panoy, Mr Balwinder Gill, Mr Dwight and Mrs Riva Hanrison.

The SCPC president honoured them with siropas and presented mementos and books on Sikh religion.


Vigilance draws Lal Singh’s wrath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is once again in the line of fire of a senior minister in the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet.
Even as the Chief Minister himself had made it clear on two occasions in the past 10 days that the Vigilance Bureau was acting only against corrupt officials in the Panchayati Raj Department, a senior member of his Cabinet, Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development and Panchayat, Minister, has asked the bureau to “back off” from interfering in his department.

This is not the first time that the bureau has come under fire from ministers. In the past, the Public Works and Development (PWD) Minister, Mr Pratap Singh, had said the bureau was interfering in the case of infamous “bitumen scam”. Last year in August, the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Rakesh Pandey, had publicly opposed the Vigilance Bureau for arresting a Deputy Director in the Technical Education Department.

On Friday, at the oath-taking ceremony of the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Mr Lal Singh, had protested against the action taken by the bureau against elected representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). He said it was not that he preferred shielding corrupt persons but any action , if required, should be taken as per the direction of the department.

Interestingly, just last week at a press conference in Chandigarh, the Chief Minister, while replying to a question on action against employees of the PRIs, had said if anybody was indulging in any wrongdoing, the Vigilance would nab them. He repeated the same thing at a rally at Jalalabad, Ferozepore.

In the immediate past , this was the second “difference of opinion” over the functioning of the bureau between the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues. On January 30, the functioning of the Vigilance Bureau came under a sharp “attack” at a meeting of the Council of Ministers. Almost all ministers reportedly criticised the way bureau officers had been organising anti-corruption operations in the state.

Ministers have complained to Capt Amarinder Singh, that the functioning of bureau officials at certain places itself had become suspect in the eyes of all concerned.

The Chief Minister has assured his Cabinet colleagues that he will take measures to streamline the functioning of the bureau. 


Delhi CM opens crafts mela
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said today that she would make efforts to organise a Heritage festival on the pattern of Patiala Heritage Festival in the Capital.
Ms Dikshit, while addressing a function at Sheesh Mahal after inaugurating Patiala Crafts Mela, which is part of the nine-day 4th Patiala Heritage Festival, said for her it was the first big mela she ever visited.

She said she could say with certainty that it was the first mela of its kind where one could see the prefect blend of modern culture with the ancient one.

Ms Dikshit was accompanied by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, state minister, and district officials. She was presented with a shawl by Ms Preneet Kaur.

To a question, she said the demolition drive in Delhi was going on as per the directions of the Delhi High Court.


Night of contrasts at Heritage Fest
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
An almost full moon paid obeisance to union of the two lovers amidst perfect blend of diverse streams of eastern and western classical arts at Patiala Heritage Festival at the Qila Mubarak here last night. After the inauguration by the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, enthralling performances of Jago and Mohiniyattam set the evening alight.

In a night of contrasts, the earthy and ethereal provided the enjoyment ranging from robust to the sublime. Basant was in full force, celebrated through colour as well as music. Girls brightly dressed for the Punjab’s traditional folk dance Jago set the stage afire at the historic fort. Bollywood actor Om Puri was honoured with a sword and a shawl as were the other guests.

When the turn of famous Mohiniyattam danseuse Bharati Shivaji came, she wooed the connoisseurs with innate grace of her troupe’s presentation of the famous Swan Lake Ballet. Set to the forceful music of great Russian composer P.I. Tchaikovsky, Shivaji’s presentation perfectly united classical Occidental music to Oriental dance without tempering with the innate diversity and beauty of the two styles.

The ballet told the story of young Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with the Swan Queen Odette, who has been transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart. Odette tells him that she is destined to remain that way; she can only be rescued by a man who professes undying love for her.

Captivated by her beauty, the Prince pledges his eternal love. But later, at a party in honor of his 21st birthday, he is tricked by the sorcerer into declaring his love for Odile, an evil twin of Odette. Realising his inadvertent betrayal, the Prince rushes back to the lake. Von Rothbart creates difficulties for the lovers but the prince destroys his power. The lovers are then reunited.

The delicate fluid movements, characteristic of Mohiniyattam, vividly evoked a swan’s grace while the ramparts of Qila Mubarak provided an ideal backdrop for the princely tale. The white and gold attire of the dancers and the anguish of Indian Odette lent a powerful evocative force to Tchaikovsky’s composition. The hand gestures and the foot movements fitted with the music. No wonder Shivaji’s fusion had charmed the home of ballet — Bolshoi Theatre, St Petersburg.

As the union of two lovers was being celebrated, fireworks lit up the Patiala sky in myriad colours to celebrate the union of two art forms. Viewing the whole proceedings were, besides other guests, the acting Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court, Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, and Justice Khalilul-Rehaman Ramde. 


Pak may give concession to students
Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus 
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 12
Brig Hasham Khan (retd), Managing Director, Pakistan Tourism and Development Corporation (PTDC), will take up the issue of concession for students in the fare of the Amritsar-Nankana bus service. He was interacting with students of Khalsa College before the departure of the trial bus from youth hostel here today .

The fare of the 150-km bus journey is Rs 1,000 in Indian and Rs 1,200 in Pakistani currency.

Brigadier Khan was overwhelmed by the grandeur of the college, which is one of the architectural marvels of the city. The structure had been designed by Bhai Ram Singh, former Vice-Principal of Mayo College, Lahore, who had also designed almost identical National College of Arts in Lahore.

The Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service will formally start from February 24 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to flag off the inaugural bus.

Meanwhile, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Culture and Tourism and PWD, went to Pakistan in the bus. Talking to The Tribune, the minister said he would meet the Chief Minister of Punjab on the Pakistan side, Chaudhary Parvez Illahi, on behalf of his Indian counterpart Amarinder Singh to personally take up the issue of establishing a heritage village at the birthplace of great General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Hari Singh Nalwa in Gujranwala district, Pakistan.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh had proposed to spend Rs1 crore in 14 villages of historical background in India besides one village in Pakistan which would include a memorial to the great Sikh General and a museum.


Sarna dares Badal to face him on home turf
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 12
Upbeat over the reprieve he got from Akal Takht, former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee Paramjit Singh Sarna yesterday said he would challenge Mr Parkash Singh Badal on his own home turf, the countryside of Punjab.

He accused Mr Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal and president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Avtar Singh Makkar of misleading Akal Takht that pronounced an interim punishment of social boycott of Mr Sarna and his brother and DSGMC president Harvinder Singh Sarna.

He said the Badals and the Makkar “misled” Akal Takht. He, however, did not say that the Badals had been misusing Akal Takht.

He asserted, “The Badals will have to pay for it as the Sikh masses will not forgive them.” He said he would be taking the battle (with the Badals) to the countryside as the Sikh masses lived mostly in villages.

He said he and his family members had faced mental trauma during the period of boycott pronounced by Akal Takht after it was misled by the Badals. He expressed relief over getting reprieve from Akal Takht. He thanked Sikh religious leaders and the masses who supported him in the time of crisis.

He said he would ensure that the Badals and their party was routed once again in the state during the Assembly elections scheduled for next year.

He said the Badals had alienated the Sikh masses and they were “bound to teach them a lesson”.


Om Puri visits native village 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 12
It was exuberant homecoming for Bollywood actor Om Puri, as he returned to Sanaur village near here, where he had spent his childhood, to be honoured and feted by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at a public rally. It was second felicitation for him in the past 24 hours as he had also been honoured last night with a sword and a shawl at the Patiala Heritage Festival.

In a trip down the memory lane, Om Puri revisited the narrow streets of Sanaur as was taken through the village in an open jeep. Later he reminisced about his childhood pranks and struggle that marked his career.

Giving credit to traditional setting of his home, Om Puri said the solid foundation of cultural ethos and values that he had imbibed as a child at Sanaur had helped him reach and sustain professional heights of today. Struggle of the initial years later helped him make a mark in the cut-throat and full-of-struggle world of films. “The initial struggles gave me the ability to believe in myself and dream.”

Om Puri studied in the village till his class X. Sanaur is the native place of his mother. The Padam Shri awardee spent his childhood in the village with his mother.

“While going through the streets today, all memories of places and shops came rushing back from where we would either buy cloth or shoes.” His wife Nandita Puri was also with him.

Om Puri mentioned memories associated with his friend, Naresh Kaushal, Editor, Dainik Tribune. When he had a row with his maternal uncles, Kaushal was the first person to bring food. “I left my uncle’s home but the village stepped in to provide everything for us. In school, he defended me. He has been a friend.”

Since then there has been no looking back for the actor, who has played diverse and difficult roles with aplomb.


Capt to join SGPC procession

Sanaur (Patiala), February 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said he would join the religious procession being taken out by the SGPC in June this year from Tarn Taran to Lahore in connection with the quadricentennial of the martyrdom of fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.

Addressing a press conference after a function organised to honour Bollywood actor Om Puri here, the CM said: “I will join the procession as Dr Manmohan Singh will also participate in it. I am not like Akalis who boycotted the procession of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, former president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, when he (Mr Sarna) took a gold palanquin from Delhi to Nankana Sahib,” he said. On the statement of his Haryana counterpart, he said he, along with Mr Hooda, would meet the Prime Minister shortly urging him to make arrangements for a suitable hike in the MSP of wheat. — TNS


Allow team to Afghanistan: SGPC

Amritsar, February 12
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee has sought permission from the Ministry of External Affairs to allow an SGPC team to visit Afghanistan to assess damage to Sikh gurdwaras there. Many of the Afghanistan gurdwaras had suffered severe damage during the Soviet occupation and the Taliban rule.

The SGPC president, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, in the communication expressed concern over the state of gurdwaras there. — OC


Army adopts special kids

Ferozepore, February 12
Sehjra Brigade of the Army and some local NGOs yesterday adopted four physically challenged children from the border villages and decided to provide them free education till Class X11.

In a ceremony held near the BSF campus at Mamdot, Sehjra Brigade adopted Rajdeep Kaur, a Class 111 student of Lakha Singh Uttar village and from the civil side, Mr. Ani Gupta, MD, D C Model Group of Schools, adopted Narinder Pal Kaur of Gatti Rajoke village, who is studying in class VI at Government Elementary School, Dr. Kamal Baghi, MD, Anil Baghi Hospitals, adopted Surjit Kaur studying in Class V at Government Elementary School Hazara Singh Wala, and Mr. Ravi Kant Gupta, MD, Devraj Hi Tech

Machines, adopted Parminder Singh a Class VII student of Guru Nanak School, Mamdot. The brigade with the help of the Red Cross also provided these children with clutches and tricycles. — OC


Villagers protest against abattoir
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 12
Residents of the adjoining villages today protested against the opening of an abattoir in their vicinity. They gathered near the industrial area here and vowed to prevent the abattoir from functioning.

They alleged that cows were slaughtered at the abattoir. The villagers submitted a memorandum to the district administration.

Manager of the factory Dharminder Singh said the unit had been opened after getting permissions from the Union and the state governments. 


CM, Dullo greet people

Chandigarh, February 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, in separate messages, today extended warm greetings to the people of the state on the 629th Parkash Utsav of Guru Ravi Dass.

The Chief Minister said Guru Ravi Dass was a great spiritual ambassador and messiah of the poor and downtrodden. Guru Ravi Dass preached the gospel of love, compassion, mutual tolerance, universal brotherhood and oneness of mankind through his life and philosophy. — TNS


Nashik team studying Bhakra Dam silt
Tribune News Service

Nangal, February 12
With a view to checking the flow of silt into the reservoir of the Bhakra Dam, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has entrusted the task of studying the flow of silt to a Nashik-based government institute.

A team of officials from Nasik has been studying the silt flow for the past one week and would submit its report to the BBMB, said sources.

They added that the dam had been witnessing the flow of silt into its reservoir due to soil erosion in its catchment areas every year. 


Riot victims to get compensation
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
Victims of 1984 riots who have settled in the district from the other states will be granted Rs 2 lakh as compensation by the Central government. The victims have to file their claims by February 22. This was conveyed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr H. I. S. Garewal, here today. This information has been passed to SDMs of all sub-divisions to speed up the work, he added.


Wheat import: farmers’ dharnas from Feb 22
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Five farmers’ organisations here yesterday decided to launch an agitation to stop the import of wheat ordered by the Union Government. The organisations, which held a meeting on the issue of import of wheat and related matters, will hold dharnas at all district headquarters on February 22, 23 and 24 to mobilise public opinion against the Centre’s decision.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu said the leaders who took part in the meeting included Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Mr Gurdarshan Singh, Mr Bhupinder Sambre and Mr Ranbir Singh Dhillon.

He said the import of wheat would depress its price in April, when fresh wheat would start arriving in the market. This would hit the farmer. The five organisations sought the fixation of Rs 850 per quintal as the minimum support price against the current price of Rs 640 per quintal.

He said the organisations wanted that farmers’ loans should be waived and they should be given Rs 160 per quintal as the price of sugarcane. The pending dues of paddy bonus should also be cleared, he added.

Mr Bhangu said wheat was being imported by giving a huge concession to importers. He said 70 per cent duty, which was to be paid on the import of wheat, had been waived on 5 lakh tonnes of the grain to be imported by the State Trading Corporation by floating tenders in the international market.

Mr Bhangu held the Union Government responsible for the unprecedented increase in the price of wheat and flour. 


4 cops suspended for negligence
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 12
Four policemen including an assistant sub inspector, in charge Hakima Chowki Gate falling under C-division police station have been suspended for negligence as two smugglers caught by them escaped from their custody.

The accused are Parshottam Lal, ASI, Narain Singh, havaldar, Harpreet Singh, munshi and Harjinder Singh, SPO. A case has been registered against the accused under Section 223, 224 of IPC.

Two smugglers Harbhajan Singh and Gurmukh Singh nabbed with 42 kg of poppy husk were lodged in the Hakima chowki who escaped from their custody day on February 10 night. 


5 booked for cooking up kidnap story
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 12
Two non-residents Indians (NRIs) and their three accomplices were booked by Verowal police station yesterday for fabricating a kidnap story. The accused have been arrested.

According to details, Jagdip Singh (18) of Goindwal and his relative Sarabjit Singh of Mianwind village, a Cyprus based NRI, were kidnapped by the Indica-born persons from Dalla village three days ago. The kidnappers demanded Rs 50 lakh from the wards of Sarabjit Singh through a telephonic message. Both were freed the next day.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, told newsmen that the police involved Sarabjit in the investigation as his role was suspicious. The SSP said Sarabjit, who failed to settle down in Cyprus came back to India with his friend Gurpreet Singh (a resident of Faridkot) with the help of Manwinder Singh, Manjit Kumar (both of Mianwind village) and Boota Singh of Lande village (Bathinda). They concocted a story to extort money from a relative of Sarabjit, who is well-off. They were to be given a compensation of Rs 1.50 crore against their land acquired for the railway-line.

Mr Grewal said Sarabjit, Gurpreet, Boota, Manwinder and Manjit have confessed to their crime and a case under Section 364A of the IPC has been registered against them.


Cop suspended for extortion
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 12
A constable has been suspended after he barged into the house of a Sekhpura village resident, from whom he had reportedly extorted money, in an inebriated state on Friday. A departmental probe has been ordered against him.

According to sources, constable Ajadpal Singh along with some other policemen arrived at the house of Gursewak Singh on February 7 and demanded Rs 5,000 threatening to implicate him in a false case.

Gursewak’s son Malkit Singh alleged that the constable took Rs 4,500 from them and they brought the matter to the notice of Talwandi Sabo SHO.

Irked at being reported to his in charge, the constable barged into their house in an inebriated state along with a Home Guard jawan on friday night. Gursewak’s family members locked him in a room.

The villagers raised slogans against the police and alleged that the constable had extorted thousands of rupees from them in a similar fashion in the past. 


One booked for abducting minor boy, girl
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 12
Finally the police today registered a case of abduction against a resident of Uttar Pardesh, Ram Dass, on the complaint of Ram Kumar of Kiratpur Sahib town that his minor daughter and son had been kidnapped by other labourers working with him.

The Tribune highlighted on February 7 that Ram Kumar working in Gudgepur village had been struggling for the past one and a half month to get registered an FIR that His 14-year-old daughter Maya and eight-year-old son Mukesh were kidnapped by five labourers working with him on the pretext of getting money in return on December 25 last.

The DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Jasdev Singh, said they had traced the complainant’s son and daughter along with the accused in Bandhuya district in Uttar Pradesh and the police would soon bring them here.

A case against Ram Dass has been registered in Anandpur Sahib police Station under section 363 and 366 of the IPC, he added.


6 die in separate incidents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 12
Bodies of a 40-year-old woman and her daughter were today recovered from a pond at Amarpura Basti here, while three youths and a jail inmate died in separate incidents.

Sources said the colony residents spotted these bodies floating in the pond and rang up Sahara volunteers who extracted the bodies. The deceased were identified as Mahinder Kaur and her 8-year-old daughter Meetu. Sources said she was a divorcee and was staying with her parents.

She was working as a domestic help for a living. She left home a couple of days back stating that she was going to some religious place. It appeares to be a case of suicide, the police said.

Meanwhile, migrant labourer Ram Chander was electrocuted when he was engaged in the construction of a house at National Colony. Sahara volunteers rushed him to the Civil Hospital, where he breathed his last.

Another youth was run over by a train on the Bathinda-Delhi Railway line near Amarpura Basti. The deceased could not be identified. He was suspected to have committed suicide.

In another incident, Mandar Singh of Kothe Chhapri Wala village was found hanging from the roof at his home today.

In yet another incident, Bant Singh, (70) a jail inmate who was serving life sentence in a murder case, died in Central Jail here today. Jail sources said he died of heart attack.


Workshop on parenting concludes
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, February 12
A workshop on parenting and child development was organised at Woodlands Overseas School here .
The workshop, conducted by Mrs Arvinder J. Singh, permanent consultant trainer and therapist with the United Nations, was aimed at enhancing concentration, problem solving abilities, and creativity among children.

Emphasising on parental care during infancy, Mrs. Arvinder J. Singh dwelt at length with the wonderful experience of parenthood. During an open session, parents asked questions on related issues.

Among the topics covered were self esteem of children, and parenting during infancy, childhood and teenage.

Emphasising on guiding children instead of spoon-feeding them, Mrs. Arvinder said it was essential for parents to be warm hearted and cool headed. 

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