P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



We have apologised on Kamagata Maru, says Doer
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
“I have no words to describe my feelings on visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar yesterday,” says Mr Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, Canada’s fifth largest province. Accompanied by a 27-member delegation, Mr Doer is here on a business mission. Incidentally, this is for the first time that a Premier of Manitoba province has been to Punjab.

“I have about 10,000 Indians settled in Manitoba of which nearly 5,000 are Sikhs. Germans and Chinese are the other major immigrant groups,” says Mr Doer. “Incidentally, I have been to the Vatican also. But my feelings on visiting the Golden Temple yesterday are unique and unexplainable. I am happy that I decided to visit Punjab and the Golden Temple rather than concentrating only on Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai or Kolkata,” he says.

“I come from a state and a political party which had in the early part of the 20th century condemned the Kamagata Maru. Now, we have apologised for our earlier outburst,” says Mr Doer, who won a second term in office in June, 2003.He was recently named by Business Week’s international magazine as one of the top 20 leaders in the world in clean energy development and addressing environmental concerns such as climate change.

“There is a lot of scope and potential for cooperation, trade and business relations between Punjab and Manitoba. We have expertise in aviation, biotechnology, transmission and security systems, coach building, research and food processing. Education is another area where Manitoba can offer Indian students a lot of opportunities in 19 different faculties,” says Mr Doer.

In a chat with The Tribune at Punjab Bhavan last night, where the Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Tourism, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, held a reception for the visiting delegation, Mr Doer said he was hopeful of further cementing relations between India and Canada.

“I am hopeful that the relations will get a boost when the Indian Prime Minister visits Canada later this year. The invitation extended by the previous Liberal government was accepted by India,” he said.

In 2004, India unveiled a life-sized statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the future site of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba. The province has a growing and prosperous Indian community. The number of immigrants from India has increased in recent years.

“Manitoba has so much to offer to Indian business looking to access the North American market. We are a gateway to the continent, featuring very attractive business costs, a prime central location and time zone, and strong transportation and communication links,” Mr Doer said.

Evincing interest in the safety of food, poultry and livestock products, Mr Doer offered collaboration to the Punjab Government with the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals in Manitoba University for food assessment, processing and technology regarding the de-bitterisation of citrus juices. On Mr Kang’s proposal, the Premier agreed to a mutual training exchange programme between veterinary scientists of Punjab and Manitoba University.

Mr Kang said Punjab had a special relationship with Canada as a large chunk of Punjabis were settled there. They had made a tremendous contribution to the development of Canada, a country which had accorded a respectable status to Punjabi NRIs in society. Many Punjabis had risen to top positions in Canada.

Mr Doer invited the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, Mr Kang and his delegation to visit Manitoba to have first-hand knowledge of the province.

Prominent members of the delegation included Mr Bidhu Jha and Ms Denis Rocan, members of Manitoba Assembly, besides Mr Amarjeet Singh Waraich, president, Manitoba Sikh Community. Also accompanying the delegation is Ms Emoke J.E. Szathmary, President and Vice-Chancellor of Manitoba University which is celebrating its 125th year this year.


Punjab, Manitoba to develop biofood, biomedicine
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
Bioscience is the key to agriculture growth in Punjab. Punjab and Province of Manitoba, Canada, will collaborate to develop biofood and biomedicine, besides promoting aviation, transportation and power sector (especially renewable energy sector).

This was stated by the Premier of Manitoba, Canada, Mr Gary Doer, while addressing members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here today. Mr Doer is on the first leg of his maiden visit to India, and is leading a business delegation comprising members of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, Mr Bidhu Jha and Mr Denis Rocan and more than 45 business leaders representing over 30 companies and institutions, from sectors like aviation, energy, agri-food, biotech, education and training and film production.

On this occasion, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Mr Doer, on behalf of the Manitoba Trade and Investment Corporation and by Mr Ajay S Shriram, Chairman, CII Northern Region.

This memorandum between the Manitoba Trade and Investment Corporation and the CII would endeavour to share best practices and lessons learned on investment and small business development policies and procedures, exchange information on potential opportunities for mutual trade and business relationship development and coordinate joint trade and investment seminars, missions and other events designed to increase trade and tourism and to promote other mutual benefits to the economies of both jurisdictions, in compliance with the existing international relations co-operation frameworks.

Mr Doer while highlighting the robust economy of Manitoba said, “The economy of the Province of Manitoba is one of the strongest and most diversified in Canada. Its C$ 35 billion economy is based on a rich mix of enterprises. No single industry dominates the economic landscape — rather, the provincial economy has many strengths, and Manitoba continues to broaden its economic base with exciting new investments”.

While introducing the advantages Manitoba can offer to Indian investors, he said, “Manitoba has much to offer Indian businesses looking to access the North American market. We are a gateway to the continent, featuring very attractive business costs, a prime central location and time zone, and strong transportation and communication links”.

He said India was Manitoba’s largest trading partner in South Asia, with C$ 45 million in two-way trade in 2004. “Indian exports to Canada have increased five fold and Manitoba has seen a 20 per cent increase in imports last year,” he said.


Amarinder meets FM for WB projects
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today met Finance Minister P Chidambaram and sought early clearance for two World Bank funded projects for road and water supply involving Rs 2,919 crore.

Capt Amarinder Singh pleaded for the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance to clear Punjab Road Sector projects (Rs 1,100 crore) and Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation project (Rs 1,819 crore).

While assuring the Punjab CM of taking a sympathetic view of all requests, Chidambaram agreed to allocate an additional borrowing by the state to compensate for the shortfall in National Small Savings Fund loans in 2005-06 to bridge the expected gap of Rs 995 crore and fully fund the annual plan of this fiscal.

Amarinder also urged Chidambaram that the DEA and the World Bank should be asked to permit the state government to raise the expenses from its own resources from April, 2006, which might be reimbursed later.

He also requested the Centre to approve the pending incentive of Rs 251 crore for the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (ARDRP) of 2003-04.

These funds could be used to improve the power transmission and distribution system and ensure uninterrupted supply to villages.

He also made a forceful plea for waiver of security-related expenditure incurred by the state during the period of militancy. In this context, he said the entire 3,772 crore special term loan should be completely waived.


PTU distance education courses valid
for govt jobs: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 13
The Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Technical Education, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said today that over 35,000 students undertaking distance education programme of Punjab Technical University (PTU) were eligible for government jobs.

The minister, who was here to attend the marriage of her nephew at a resort, said this to counter the recent statement made by Mr Swaraj Basu, Director, Distance Education Council, Indira Gandhi National Open University, over the ineligibility of PTU degree holders for government jobs. He had stated that the university had not acquired permission from the council for running various courses.

Ms Bhattal said officials of the council were making the students panicky unnecessarily over the validity of the courses. She said she would take up the matter with Mr Arjun Singh, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, during her meeting with him next week.

She said the state Education Department had recently recruited over 2,000 such degree holders as computer teachers. “The government has already advertised for inducting 2,200 more teachers and all degree holders of PTU’s district education programme will qualify for it” Ms Bhattal said trying to allay apprehensions in the minds of the parents over the fate of their wards from over 400 centres across the country.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, said that the Distance Education Council of one university could not declare the degrees of another university. Dr R.P. Singh, Dean, Distance Education, PTU, also corroborated the VC’s statement adding that the PTU had applied for an approval of the courses from the Distance Education Councel in May 2004 but the council had been dilly-dallying it since then.

Dr R.P. Singh said the council officials had visited the university centres in Patna, Bhopal, New Delhi and in Punjab and found that infrastructure and facilities were in order.

He said he had also been asked to submit learning materials which he did, but he was told that these were not in self-instruction material format.

He added that he had asked them to give him a conditional approval but he was denied that too and told to stop the courses till an approval was granted.

The Dean argued, “There are 127 universities in India imparting distance education courses without the consent of the council and if any university applies for the same, it is being denied it.”


‘Laung da Lashkara’ bedazzles
Rubinder Gill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
Life came full circle for the famous play ‘Laung da Lashkara’ as the Harpal Tiwana group performed it to a packed house at the Patiala Heritage Festival here on a starry night at Old Moti Bagh Palace, which houses the National Institute of Sports, yesterday.

‘Laung da Lashkara was penned by famous Punjabi dramatist Harpal Tiwana. With the theme lending itself excellently to the celluloid medium, it was made into a record-breaking movie in the eighties. It had excellent performances by Raj Babbar, Om Puri and Preeti Sapru, along with Nirmal Rishi and Neena Tiwana.

Last night, two of the actors of the movie — Nirmal Rishi and Neena Tiwana — performed their parts on stage. Rishi again superbly played the part that made her a household name, of the scheming wench Gulabo, and Neena Tiwana brought the anguish and suffering of the majestic Sardarni alive. They had good support from other young artistes.

In a reversal of sorts, this version of the play was an adaptation from the movie. Jagjit Singh’s music and songs from the film made it a treat to watch. It opened with the title song ‘laung da lashkara’ and the audience was hooked. The background palace building took care of the aptness of the setting while robust earthy humour in the Malwa dialect gave it a rollicking start.

The experiment undertaken by the group led by Manpal Tiwana (Harpal Tiwana’s son) paid off. Neena Tiwana, Harpal’s widow, undertook the arduous task of adapting the screenplay for the stage and came out with flying colours.

Parsinder Soni as Ditu was natural as was Ratika Sedha as Peetu, in her maiden appearance on stage. Manpal Tiwana played the lead role of the young Canada-returned sardar, Raja. He also directed the play well. Before the start of the play, Om Puri talked of his association with Harpal and Neena Tiwana. He said Harpal was his mentor and the motivational factor in his success story, adding that he had learned the finer points of acting from the couple.

The night rounded off with a burst of fireworks, the colours shining in the sky like the shine of Peetu’s nosepin (laung).


Infighting in Cong intensifies
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 13
Infighting in the district Congress has intensified with the Rajya Sabha member from the area, Mr Ashwani Kumar, being elevated as the Union State Minister for Industries. The infighting was obvious from the fact that besides Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA from Pathankot, none of other prominent Congress leaders came to welcome Mr Ashwani Kumar on his first visit to the area after becoming the minister.

Some of the Congress leaders close to a senior Congress leader from the area have openly given statements against the newly inducted Union Minister. The sources here revealed that the recent allegations of misuse MPLAD fund against Mr Ashwani Kumar have also being propped up by a section of the Congress peeved at his elevation as minister.

When asked to comment, Mr Ashwani Kumar admitted some leaders in Congress were peeved at his elevation as Union Minister. “I, however, pray for their welfare,” he said.

Mr Ashwani Kumar stated that the allegations against him were baseless. “I have not given even a penny out of the MPLAD funds in violation of the rules. The recommendations made by me were first ratified by the district administration and then by the state and union audit. I have not recommended the naming of any institution after my father Mr Prabodh Chander. However, if the state agencies have chosen to name a few institutions after his father who was a prominent freedom fighter and leader of area I am not a party to it.”

About the statue of his father he said it was raised by the state government using funds from the Chief Minister’s discretionary quota. “I have given grant just for the park around the statue. The park is owned by the Gurdaspur council and not by his family,” he said.

Mr Ashwani Kumar also said that his priority as a minister would be to bring industry to Gurdaspur district. The industry in the district has been hit due to terrorism. Efforts are on to bring a food processing industry in the district.

The infighting in the Congress has given the BJP and SAD an issue for the forthcoming elections. Already, the senior BJP leaders from the area, including Mr Mohan Lal former minister, and Mr Vinod Khanna, the local MP, at separate press conferences have demanded inquiry into the allegations levelled against Mr Ashwani Kumar in a section of media.

The BJP has also threatened to launch an agitation if an inquiry is not constituted against Mr Ashwani Kumar.

The district administration has, however, stood by the minister. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, has maintained that the entire funds recommended by Mr Ashwani Kumar have been spent as per the norms.


Minister’s loyalists boycott function
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 13
Factional feud in the Pathankot Congress came in the open when the loyalists of Minister of State for Industry, Dr Ashwani Kumar, did not show up at function to unveil “Shaheedi Samark “ by Rajya Sabha member and former union minister Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder here today. While Mr Bhinder was the chief guest at the function and Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri was a guest of honour.

Talking to The Tribune, MLA Ashok Sharma said, while Mr Puri did not discuss his keenness to address the function in his constituency, Ms Bhinder should have also avoided to unveil the samark statue since she did not contribute a single farthing from here MPLAD funds.

He said he would take up the issue with Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to restrain Mr Puri from addressing functions without his permission as the government had issued development funds to him.

Mr Puri, on the other hand, said the president of Pathankot MC Shrawan Kumar had taken the consent of MLA’s prior consent to preside over the function and accordingly his name was printed in the invitation card.

Dr Ashwini Kumar’s loyalist those who were conspicuous by their absence besides the MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma included Pathankot Improvement Trust Chairman Rajibr Singh and city Congress president P.R. Passi.

Recently, none of Ms Bhinder loyalists, including DCC chief Gurbachan Babehali, were present at the Pathankot Railway station to honour Dr Ashwani Kumar on his arrival after being sworn in as Minister of State at the Centre.

However, addressing the function Ms Bhinder said the freedom fighters and the martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation should not be forgotten.


Badal wooing traders
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 13
With just one year to go to polls for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the race to win the trade and industry has begun. SAD has taken the initiative by holding a state-level rally of traders at Bathinda on February 5. Congress leaders of the state are still on the defensive since the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab has not paid much attention towards the grievances of the trade and industry during the past four years. The industrialists of the state are having the grouse that the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could not find time to meet them and listen to their problems not withstanding the fact that he has been meeting only the industrialists of the corporate sector.

Parkash Singh Badal started his interaction with the trade and industry last month when he met the representatives of the industry at Jalandhar and this was followed by a hectic one-day programme of meetings with Ludhiana traders and the industrialists by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal on January 30.

During his one-day visit to this town Mr Sukhbir Singh not only met the representatives of the industry at largely attended meetings but also had a round of the Chaura Bazaar which is the business hub of the town.

Mr Badal during his tenure as Chief Minister pressed on the NDA government for similar benefits to Punjab but failed to get any. After the formation of the Congress government in Punjab in 2002 under the Chief Ministership of Mr Amarinder Singh, he also took up the matter with the Central Government but could not secure any benefits for the small-scale industries as a result of which, the small scale industries have suffered and quite a sizeable number of units have become sick.

The small-scale industrialists have the biggest grouse against Mr Amarinder Singh that he did not bother to meet them during the past four years. They rather feel that the small-scale industry was discriminated against by the present government as huge benefits running into about Rs 400 crore were extended to select industrial houses in the shape of exemption of sales tax and other state taxes.

They are also unhappy that such benefits were extended to some of the distilleries of the state too which do not provide any employment to the unemployed youth. 


Kila Raipur Games to start as scheduled
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Grewal Sports Association today decided to serve a legal notice on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for making “wild, shameful and baseless allegations” about holding of various events, including bullock cart, horse and dog races, during the annual Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival.

All attempts by The Tribune to reach Mumbai-based Ms Anuradha Sahni or her lawyer, Mr N.G. Jayasimha, of the PETA were in vain as all phone calls to them remain unanswered.

“We are conscious of well being and welfare of animals and have been following all directions, guidelines and laws pertaining to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while conducting various traditional events during the games,” says Mr Sukhvir Singh Grewal, Chief Organiser of the games.

“It is very shameful that an organisation like PETA has made allegations without substantiating any. In a notice sent to us, PETA has alleged that dogs, horses and bullocks are drugged and tortured. They have gone to the extent of saying that drugging of bulls, biting of tails by riders and inserting of objects in anuses of bulls to make them run faster have been documented. We have been organising these games every year under the watchful, probing and preying eyes of the media. Besides, every year we call veterinary experts and others to make sure that no cruelty of any type is committed on any animal during the conduct of the games.

“In the year 2000, we passed a resolution prohibiting even the use of sticks and lashes by the riders. And perhaps PETA people are not aware that owners of this precious bullocks look after their pride possessions with utmost care and devotion,” Mr Grewal said.

Dr A.S. Grewal, a noted veterinary doctor, was stunned by the allegations. He retorted that he had been watching these games as an expert for the last couple of years.

“No single incident of cruelty to animals has been reported,” he said and said such allegations were “far fetched, imaginary and completely baseless” as many of the TV channels, including Discovery channel have shown these games. “Any cruelty to animals would not have gone unnoticed,” he added.

Meanwhile, the association decided to go ahead with the holding of the next edition of the games from February 16 to 19.

Mr Grewal further said that the association has also written to the Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, to depute a team of senior veterinary doctors to remain present during the festival to ensure that all guidelines issued from time to time by the Central Animal Welfare Board and other such organisations are meticulously followed.

He said that in our response we have asked the PETA either to substantiate the allegations levelled by them or face legal action for defaming the games.

In 2001, he said, a similar issue was raised by the People For Animals. “We invited them to come and witness the conduct of the games. We produced all relevant documents and steps taken by the association to ensure safety and wellbeing of the participating animals.

“Even this time we asked PETA to send its team of experts and watch for themselves how the events for animals are conducted. But for them to make such wild and baseless allegations is unwarranted,” he added.


Namdharis played big role in freedom struggle: Bhatia
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, February 13
The Namdhari movement had made a commendable contribution in the freedom struggle of India, but their political, social and religious contribution and the sacrifices for the nation is hardly known in other parts of the country.

Stating this, Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, Governor of Kerala, expressed concern over the non-awareness about the contribution of the freedom fighters of the sect. He was presiding over the seminar on ‘Namdhari Literature and History’ organised by Namdhari Guru Ram Singh Chair of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

He exhorted political, social scientists and historians of Punjab and the scholars of the university to come forward and highlight their political, cultural and religious contribution to make the coming generations aware of their sacrifices for the nation. Terming the Kuka movement as a blend of social, political and religious movements, the Governor said it had impressed the masses and the political, social and religious leaders of other sects also. This movement, he said, played a great role in social reform.

Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, Registrar of Punjabi University, Patiala, said the organisational structure of the Namdhari movement gave this mission cohesiveness and continuity. Passing through most difficult times in the initial stages, the mission withstood all attempts to curb its activities and emerged a force to be reckoned with.

Dr Joginder Singh, Chairman of Namdhari Guru Ram Singh Chair, said more than 15 papers were presented in the seminar.

He said the Chair had surveyed 500 families of Namdharis and concluded that there was a satisfactory ratio between men and women in the Namdhari fraternity and it had 50 per cent literacy. Now, eminent Namdhari scholars were producing literature and writing history.


Property-grabbing case: CM’s intervention sought
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, February 13
Dr Om Parkash, father of Ms Dimple Miglani, a resident of Radha Soami colony here, has once again sought intervention by the Chief Minister, Capt. Amrinder Singh, to get justice. Ms Miglani had early threatened self-immolation along with her kids to express anguish over apathy of the police in taking action against the land-mafia that had allegedly grabbed entire immovable property of the family last year.

Her mother had died of cardiac arrest recently. The city SHO, Mr Arsh Deep Singh, had met Ms Miglani last week to pursue her not to take any drastic step and promised that the culprits named in the FIR would be arrested soon but nothing happened so far, Dr Om Parkash regretted today.

In a complaint faxed to the Chief Minister on Monday the frustrated father of Ms Dimple stated that the land mafia headed by a Canada based NRI had grabbed the property of her daughter when she and other members of the family had gone to the Dera Beas in Amritsar to pay their obeisance in 2004. The city police registered FIR No. 117 under orders of the ADGP (CRIME) Punjab on April 14, 2005 when some scribes and social activists had drawn the attention of the Chief Minister to a nexus between the land mafia, police and revenue officers.

Ms Dimple was rendered homeless and had to borrow clothes for her kids below 8 years of age as the grabbers deprived her family of all belongings kept in the house.

Dr Om Parkash, putting a certified copy of the orders recently passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the Crl. Misc. petition No. 22514-M, stated that Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar had rejected the prayer made by the accused for quashing the FIR.

The petition was filed on the ground that there was a genuine sale deed. The Court held that since the civil suit was, admittedly, pending which will be defended by the petitioners, it would be in the interest of justice that the proceedings in the criminal case are also placed for hearing before the same court, to be taken up one after the other.


Charles may visit Mohali
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 13
The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, might visit the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) at Mohali during his day visit to India in March end.

Highly placed sources in the Ropar Administration today said an advance party consisting of officials of the British High Commission and UK Government visited the Institute last Thursday to look at the arrangements that would be required to be made for the visit of the Prince to the Institute.

The officials accompanied by senior officials of Ropar and Mohali administration visited the Medicinal plant garden of the institute which houses hundreds of herbal plants.

The garden is maintained by the Department of Natural Products, headed by the Dean of the Institute Dr KK Bhutani. Prof Bhutani could not be contacted.

The NIPER Director, Prof P. Rama Rao, confirmed that the British High Commission team had visited the Institute.


Cricket fans not at fault, says M.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
A Member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, Mr M.S. Gill, said here today that what happened to cricket fans yesterday at the Wagah border would be raised at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of the Ministry of External Affairs on February 15.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Gill said the fans were not at fault. It was the failure of the public service system which led to the sorry state of affairs on the border.

He said he had reminded the Union Home Minister, the External Affairs Minister and even the Prime Minister repeatedly that there was need to create world-class infrastructure at the Wagah border by spending Rs 100 crore. There was also need to upgrade the customs and immigration facilities there. Over the past several months, the flow of people from both India and Pakistan had gone up tremendously. However, the facilities at the border post were woefully inadequate. Even at Attari railway station, various facilities were lacking.


Poor arrangements at Wagah: Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Alarmed over the maltreatment meted out to cricket fans at the Wagah border yesterday, only a handful of fans crossed the border to Pakistan via the joint checkpost at Wagah today.

As many as 300 cricket fans had valid visas for Pakistan for the Indo-Pak third one-day international in Lahore.

However, merely 23 ventured to go to the neighboring country. The reason could also be tedious immigration and customs formalities that could leave little time for the cricket match, said some officials.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu lashed out at the government for the ‘worst arrangements’ made by the authorities concerned.

He charged the government with complete disinterest to project the nation in a respectful manner.


Juveniles bid adieu to Pak boy
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 13
Inmates of the local Juvenile Jail today bid adieu to Asif, a Pakistani boy who strayed into the Indian side of the border about four years ago, as he left for the Wagah border early in the morning for his much-awaited repatriation.

A joyous Asif said he had almost lost hope of getting reunited with his family, but one fine day in August last year he was taken to the Ferozepore border where his father, Majid, identified him. He thanked the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, for making a successful effort to restore him to his parents.

“Though I’ve lost four precious years of my childhood in the juvenile home, I won’t forget friends that I made here,” he averred. Asif had a tough time watching six other Pakistani boys of his batch leave for their home one by one. The only hurdle to his repatriation was his inability to recollect his proper address.

Talking to The Tribune, the Deputy Commissioner said nothing was working in Asif’s case, as he was too small to recall anything except the names of his parents and siblings. He said he was also given consulor access thrice, but to no avail. “I had been to the Hussainiwala border once where I took up his case with BSF officials who raised the matter with the Pakistani Rangers during their Flag Meeting. Asif was identified by his father on the border on August 25 last year,” he added.

The District Social Security Officer, Mr Harpal, was also present on the occasion today. Later, Asif left for the Wagah border under the supervision of Inspector Harpal Singh, ASI Sukhdev Singh and four securitymen.

Meanwhile, the Juvenile Jail still has four Pakistani boys — Shaukat Ali, Mithun Masih, Imran Masih and Khurram Nawaz. They all were sent to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on December 14 last year for their identification process and would be repatriated in the near future.


Boy among six repatriated to Pak
Tribune News Service

Wagah, February 13
There could have been no better day for Asif Ali (11), a diehard cricket fan, to be repatriated to his home in Pakistan as India-Pakistan thrash each other in the third ODI in Lahore. “I will watch the Indo-Pak cricket match,” were the jubilant parting words of Asif, who has been in a jail here for trespassing.

He was among the six Pakistani nationals who were repatriated here today.

Nazma Parveen was arrested for overstaying as her husband Mohammed Shahid had sustained bullet injuries in the Hindu-Muslim clash in Meerut in 2000. As she was attending to her husband, the couple was arrested. The couple was originally Indian and had sought Pakistani citizenship. They had come to India to visit their relatives.

Nazma is, however, unhappy to leave India despite having served five years in jail. Her five children are being looked after by her brother-in-law and her husband is still imprisoned.

Mohammed Naseer said he had crossed over to India from Gujrawala in PoK in an inebriated condition. He was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir and was imprisoned for 10 years. He was shifted to the Agra jail after remaining in various jails of J&K.

Abdul Kadir Awan of Bagwal village in Gujrat district of Pakistan, had gone to attend the marriage of his friend in Leepan village in Gujranwala and had entered the Karna valley on the Indian side in an inebriated condition. He, too, was shifted to the Agra jail after being arrested by the security agencies in Kupwara 10 years ago.


Bhindranwale’s birth anniversary celebrated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 13
The SAD (A) celebrated the birth anniversary of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale here yesterday. Thousands of people attended the function organised in front of gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said his party had been organising the function to celebrate the birth anniversary of Bhindranwale. Lashing out at the vernacular press, he said his party had booked advertisements in all Punjabi newspapers about the celebrations, but none of the paper published the matter. He added that his party would raise the issue with the Press Council of India and make it an issue at the international level.

Later, talking to the mediapersons, Mr Mann said the withdrawal of edict by the Akal Takht Jathedar against Sarna brothers was a victory of Panthic organisations.

Mr Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sant Harnam Singh Khalsa, chief Damdami Taksal, Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman, Damdami Taksal, Mr Maskin Singh, president, Dal Khalsa, Mr Dhian Singh Mand, former MP, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Sant Hari Singh Randhawa, Mr Ajit Singh Mann and Mr Ram Singh also addressed the gathering on the occasion.


Kisan union protests against DSP, SHO
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 13
Workers of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) today sat on a dharna at the main gate of the old city police station near Dr Ambedkar Chowk here for more than an hour. They raised slogans against the DSP and Station House Officer, blaming them for rise in crime. As the police virtually disappeared from the scene the BKU workers diverted traffic.

Mr Surjit Phul, state president of the BKU, said some senior Congress workers had attacked Mr Jagjit Singh, block president of the union, last month at a marriage palace after consuming liquor. The affected president was rushed to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital but the assailants made another attempt on his life there. The culprits were named in the FIR lodged by Mr Jagjit Singh but the police has so far arrested no one.

Those who addressed the rally included district president Resham Midha, Mr Kundan Singh, zonal president, Technical Services Union and Mr Bhanwer Daan.

The workers gave a memorandum to the SDM and then proceeded towards the old city police station.

They demanded that Mr Paramjit Ghallu, Mr Charanjit Singh and Mr Gopi Ram who had allegedly attacked Mr Jagjit Singh should be arrested immediately.


Tagore theatre goes digital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
The Tagore Theatre here became the first theatre in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to be equipped with digital technology as it started screening digitally transmitted pictures from today, according to the managing director of the theatre.

Tagore theatre is the second theatre after the one at Faridabad to entertain people with this technology.

The theatre had been hooked onto a satellite transmitter. Film released by any company in Mumbai was digitally transmitted to this cinema. It was then screened with the help of a digital projector.

According to the Managing Director, Mr Harjinder Singh, the technology had enabled them to screen films with crystal clear quality along with digital soundtrack. Digitalisation would improve the quality of a movie manyfold on the screen.


250 patients examined at medical camp
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 13
Local branch of the Akhil Bhartya Sangmeshwar Sewa Dal Arunay organised a free medical check-up camp on Dasehra ground here. Mr Hemant Pajni, secretary, District Congress Committee inaugurated the camp on behalf of Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, and Mahant Shri Gangapuri (Arunay Wale ) lighted the jyoti.

More than 250 patients were checked up and given medicines as per recommendations of the doctors free of cost.

A team of doctors, Dr Amarveer Singh (cardiology), Dr Pankaj Aggarwal (surgery ) Dr Mamta Sood (child specialist ) and Dr Rajneesh Modi (gynaecology) examined the patients at the camp.

Patron of Sewa Dal Baldev Sedha, president Vipal Sandhir, chairman BrijBhushan Garg, State Youth Congress secretary Jagmeet Raja and press secretary Mohinder Pal Lutava addressed the inaugural function.


Mann lashes out at police
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today lashed out against the Punjab police for falsely implicating a youth.

Mr Mann said a Khadoor Sahib resident, Palwinder Singh, was picked up by the police on February 3 and was charged with possessing fake currency and Army maps.

He claimed that Palwinder Singh was innocent. The police was harassing people and tapping phones of those engaged in talks with their friends in Pakistan.

He said India was having cordial relations with Pakistan and the government was encouraging people-to-people contact but security agencies were tapping the phones to harass the common man on the plea of security.


Lakhs of devotees attend satsang
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 13
Sacha Sauda sect chief Sant Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh held its sansang at the grain market here in which lakhs of devotees across the state and the adjoining Rajasthan and Haryana turned up to have a darshan of its chief.

SSP Mr G.Nageshwar Rao said heavy traffic police has been deployed at the sensitive sites to make regular flow of traffic.


“Heer Waris Shah” on AIR from today

Jalandhar, February 13
The Jalandhar station of All India Radio will broadcast a weekly drama ‘’Heer Waris Shah’’ from tomorrow in its Des Punjab programme.

This serial having 13 episodes will be broadcast on every Tuesday at 7.20pm, an AIR Spokesman said here.

The radio adoption of the serial has been done by Bakhshinder, Vinod Dheer has directed and Rajinder Rana has composed its music. It is a presentation by programme executive Navdeep Singh. — UNI


Kiranjit Katal Kand Action Committee leader dies
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 13
Mr Bhagwant Singh (50), convener of the Kiranjit Katal Kand Action Committee and district president of the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), died of brain haemorrhage last night.

He was cremated at Barnala today.

Elder son of Bhagwant Singh lit the pyre. He is survived by wife and two sons.


Rs 100 crore for diversification plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Punjab Government has set up an agriculture research and diversification fund of Rs 100 crore to intensify the crop diversification programme.

Stating this, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture, said here today that the state government had appointed an expert committee under the chairmanship of the well-known agri-economist, Dr S.S. Johl. It had submitted a crop adjustment programme to the Union Government to provide funds to the tune of Rs 1,280 crore per annum to the state government for undertaking diversification on 1 million hectares in the state.

Mr Randhawa said the Planning Commission had approved the scheme with certain modifications. Crops like hyola, basmati, maize, barley and sunflower were being promoted, he added.


3 killed, 9 hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 13
Three women were killed and nine others were injured when a Tata Sumo collided with a truck on Bathinda-Goniana road near Jeeda village today. The condition of two was stated to be critical.

Sources said the mishap occurred when a PRTC bus on its way from Bathinda to Faridkot collided with a Tata Sumo, which was ferrying a marriage party from Faridkot to Bathinda, near Jeeda village.

The occupants of the Sumo were supposed to attend a marriage ceremony at Imperial Palace here. The accident victims belonged to Amritsar and Ferozepur districts.

While the Sumo driver sustained injuries, the bus driver fled from the scene. Sahara volunteers admitted the injured, which also included a kid, to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda, but there were hardly any specialists to attend to the injured who had to wait for long before getting proper treatment.

Sources said three patients were sent to other hospitals for CT scan and other tests. The administration officials who visited the injured also expressed their discontent with the medical aid provided to the injured at the Civil Hospital.

However, the Deputy Commissioner has asked the Red Cross authorities to extend free medicines to the injured.

Those killed have been identified as Bhagwant Kaur, who was the groom's grandmother, Surjeet Kaur and Sukhwant Kaur, while Harjeet Kaur and Gagandeep Kaur got seriously injured.

In another road accident, two occupants of a car were injured when their vehicle collided with a truck near octroi post on Goniana road last night.


Granthi held for sister’s murder
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 13
Nishan Singh Nihang, a granthi deployed in a gurdwara in Amritsar district, has been arrested by the Sriganganagar police, official sources confirmed today.

He had stabbed his pregnant sister Narender Kaur, alias Nindi (34), near Jalloki village along the Indo-Pak border last week.

A police party raided the gurdwara complex and his in-laws’ house. It chased him on a tip-off and finally succeeded in arresting him as he alighted from a bus along with his wife at Talwandi Sabo in the Bathinda region.

Nindi, daughter of Mr Narain Singh, a granthi at a village gurdwara in the Sriganganagar area, got married to Mr Amarjit Singh of Raisinghnagar, a border township, in 1996. The couple had three daughters.

Five years ago, Nindi reportedly deserted her husband and started living with Mr Sohan Singh (27), a cousin, at his farmhouse in the border village Jalloki. She had become pregnant.

As all efforts to persuade her to go back to her husband proved futile, her brother Nishan Singh Nihang was called from Amritsar to ask her to sever relations with Mr Sohan Singh.

Nishan Singh reportedly gave her a four-day ultimatum but she left the farmhouse along with her paramour the next day.

Nishan Singh reportedly saw them going on a bicycle near Jalloki and intercepted them. Mr Sohan Singh managed to escape after pushing the Nihang but the latter stabbed his sister thrice with a kirpan and dragged the blood-soaked body to a nearby watercourse.


22 pilgrims hurt

Phagwara, February 13
As many as 25 pilgrims received injuries in a collision between a private bus and a tractor-trailer near Chak Hakim village on the national highway near here last evening.

The pilgrims were returning in the trailer from the Radha Soami Dera at Beas. Injured were admitted to different hospitals in the town.

In another mishap former district attorney R L Kohli received injuries when he was hit by a scooter in the Hargobind locality here this morning. He was admitted to a private nursing home. — UNI


Couple with fake currency nabbed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
In a major haul, fake Indian currency worth Rs 3 lakh was seized from two persons, including a woman, travelling on the Samjhuta Express here today. They had returned from Pakistan.

The currency was in the denomination of Rs 500. The accused have been identified as Anishaand Farookh Ahmad, of Saharanpur.


BPEOs gobbling money from private schools
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur February 13
The district Education Department authorities are “swindling” the amount collected from recognised schools in the district.

All recognised private schools in the district are depositing Rs 10 per student per annum with their respective Block Primary Education Officer (BPEO).

Most of these schools are being issued receipts for the amount paid by them to the BPEOs.

The Tribune has in its possession photocopies of such receipts issued by the BPEO, Gurdaspur. The receipts that contain the stamp and signature of the BPEO have been issued on plain paper. These indicate just the amount paid by the school and not the purpose or fund for which it has been collected.

Sources said the amount collected from these schools was not deposited with the government or the district education authorities and was allegedly swindled by the officials concerned.

The practice has been going on since long. It was only in 1998 that an account was opened by the authorities in the Bank of India to deposit the amount collected from these schools. However, only the one-time fee collected from the schools at the time of recognition is deposited in the account.

The amount collected annually from these schools is not deposited anywhere and is allegedly being swindled.

The Education Department authorities, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were no guidelines under which the authorities could charge Rs 10 per student from the private recognised schools. Even if the amount was collected, it should either be deposited with the Treasury or with the District Education Officer.

There are 22 primary education blocks in Gurdaspur district. Hundreds of recognised private schools are running under these blocks. Lakhs were being collected at the rate of Rs 10 per student by BPEOs.

The BPEO, Gurdaspur, when asked about the funds collected from the schools said she had spent the amount on the improvement of her office.

The District Education Officer said he would hold an inquiry into the matter.

The sources said the amount collected from the students could only be spent on their welfare and not on the office expenditure of the education authorities.


373 students given degrees
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 13
As many as 373 students from different streams were awarded degrees at the convocation function of the local Multani Mal Modi College yesterday.

Prof Rajasekharan Pillai, vice-chairperson, University Grant Commission, who was the chief guest, congratulated the college management, teachers and students for their performance in recent years, in his convocation address. He emphasized on the social relevance of education. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “Education is for life, it is through life and it is through-out life. The propose of education is to improve the quality of life and life management systems.”

“Apart from natural resources, the development of infrastructure in a society depends on human resources. There is need to integrate technological training with the conventional streams of education. Knowledge without its application is useless,” he added.

Dr S. C. Saxena, Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, who was the guest of honour, appreciated the achievements of the college in a short span of 38 years. The college had carved out a prestigious place on the educational map of the region. Dr Saxena asked the young graduates to set realistic goals, work hard with commitment and imbibe qualities to convert their dreams into reality.

The function started after lamps were lit by the chief guest and the guest of honour followed by the recitation of Saraswati Vandana by the students. The College Principal, Dr V. K. Sharma, welcomed the guests. He laid stress on the vocationalisation of education to solve the problem of unemployment.


Lincoln college organises Jagriti-2006
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 13
The Lincoln College of Education, Sirhind today organised a talent meet, "Jagriti 2006" for the school students of district Fatehgarh Sahib with the aim of bringing together teacher trainees of the colleges as well as the schools.

A large number of school children from different schools participated in various competitions held in 6 levels— kindergarten, L.K.G, U.K.G, primary level 1, primary level 2, middle level, secondary level and senior secondary level. The competitions included academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular and sports events.

Prof. Dr Seshan Radha Singh, Director Lincoln College of Education welcomed the gathering and briefed them about the idea behind the meet. He said it was to create awareness among the tiny tots about other activities other than academics, to help them gain confidence in evolving a wholesome personality.

He urged the students and teachers to do their duty sincerely. He said teachers had an important role to play as the future of the nation was shaped in class rooms.

Mr Gurbinder Singh Shergill Secretary, Dharam Foundation Educational Trust that runs the college distributed the prizes. The overall trophy was won by Pine Grove High School, Bassi Pathana.


Action sought against teacher
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 13
After the publication of reports in the media against the teachers, who outraged the modesty of girl students in a school in Jind district of Haryana and the subsequent action have prompted the students and the staff of other schools in the region who had been facing a similar problem.

One such glaring case has come to light in Fatehgarh Sahib. Not only the students but also the entire staff, particularly women staff, the panchayat, the PTA and PASWAK body of Government Senior Secondary School, Wazidpur, Nogawan, 10 km from here, are up in arms against a school teacher, who allegedly harassed not only girl students, but also the women staff.

They have made a complaint to the school principal, the District Education Officer(S), and the Deputy Commissioner in this regard. They have demanded stern action against him.

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